Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The “Problem” of Information

From: http://www.goodboysnation.com/

“* Mike Hu’s Thinking Hawaii appears to be a conservative blog in a pretty liberal state. Keep up the good work, Mike! “

I’d rather be thought of as the thinking person’s blog -- rather than a conservative or liberal one -- implying as it does now, that one has fixed views that he desires to impose on everybody else as his political correctness. Rather, I think of my discussions as being a “looking together” through common experiences to reveal the universality of those experiences before the point of divergence that divides us into ideological camps. So I think using such terms as “conservative” or “liberal” is for each individual to determine for themselves (if they still wish to) rather than to label/categorize any other, which as you know, becomes a self-fulfilling expectation.

If I’m conservative in any sense, it is because I don’t regard my own writing and thinking “liberally” to be brilliant and readable when they are not. I leave that judgment up to each reader to determine “conservatively” -- that I have passed their most rigorous tests for intelligibility and clarity.

I think that is what the best of the new media (communications) is all about, rather than the old media (control) model that is oppressive to any freedom-loving individual. It just wasn’t so obvious before because there were very few alternatives -- rather than being limited only by one’s own creative capacity and initiative. Early on, many would give advice that my blog was not like everybody else’s -- offering tips on how it could be like everybody else’s. Of course such people usually were protecting the status quo’s belief that the only thing anybody could do was slavishly and fawningly imitate what they were doing -- as though that was the height of communications and information that they would remain in control of for perpetuity.

However, old media made the critical mistake of unionizing and creating the arbitrary rules that snuff out creativity, innovation, and initiative. So lacking any true sense of meaning and purpose, all such people can do is demand more money for even less productivity. There’s no way out of that death spiral; they have to keep the best out while keeping those who not only not produce, but discourage everyone else from making positive contributions as though they were fools since many are now in the editorial (supervisory) positions -- where they can suppress all the new information they don’t understand and are overwhelmed by -- thinking that is enough to make it go away.

Such people like to write about the Iraqi war as though it is the Vietnam war, and every economic shift is the coming of The Great Depression -- always fighting the last war (and winning!) in their own minds. But the reality is that they’re has-beens who never were -- because what they were trying to be was merely an illusion in the first place. Their entire lives were consumed in manufacturing and imposing the Unreal -- rather than the universal participation of the Real that is now possible to the many -- and not just the self-designated, self-appointed, self-anointed few.

They just look awfully foolish now -- huffing and puffing, threatening to blow everybody else’s houses down, when everybody else is gasping, “The publisher (superintendent, professor) has no clothes!”


At May 09, 2006 1:54 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...


May 09, 2006
Is Thinking Obsolete?
By Thomas Sowell

Amid all the hysteria among politicians and in the media over rising gasoline prices, and all the outraged indignation about oil company profits and their executives' high pay and lavish perks, has anybody bothered to even estimate how much effect any of this actually has on the price we pay at the pump?

If the profit per gallon of gas were reduced to zero, would that be enough to reduce the price by even a dime? If the oil company executives were to work free of charge, would that be enough to reduce the price of gasoline by even a penny a gallon?

Surely media loudmouths making millions of dollars a year and the multibillion dollar TV networks they work for can afford to get some statistics and buy a pocket calculator to do the arithmetic before spouting off nationwide.

But this is the age of emotion, not analysis.

Politicians are even more hypocritical. The government collects far more in taxes on every gallon of gasoline than the oil companies collect in profits. If oil company profits are "obscene," as some politicians claim, are the government's taxes PG-13?

The very politicians who have piled tax after tax on gasoline over the years, and voted to prohibit oil drilling offshore or in Alaska, and who have made it impossible to build a single oil refinery in decades, are all over the television screens denouncing the oil companies. In other words, those who supply oil are being denounced and demonized by those who have been blocking the supply of oil.

Given the vast amounts of gasoline sold across the length and breadth of this nation, and given the mega-billion dollars involved, whether or not some corporate executive has an inflated pay scale is unlikely to explain the price of gasoline.

It may allow some people in the media to vent their emotions and some politicians to create a bogeyman, since they can't play St. George without a dragon. But cheap demagoguery cannot explain expensive gas.

When the two most heavily populated nations on earth -- China and India -- have rapidly growing economies and rapidly escalating importations of oil, how could that not affect the world price of oil? After all, the price of oil is determined in the international markets, contrary to conspiracy theories that keep turning up whenever gas prices rise.

Those conspiracy theories have been investigated time and again, without uncovering anything. But it is still a clever political ploy to ask for more investigations when gas prices rise. If nothing else, it distracts attention from those who have been blocking all attempts to enable us to use our own oil.

Nothing is easier, or more emotionally satisfying, than blaming high prices on those who charge them, rather than on those who cause them. The same thing happens when stores in high-crime neighborhoods charge higher prices than stores in safer neighborhoods.

Both crime and precautions against crime add to the cost of doing business and this adds to the prices. But seldom, if ever, do those who decry the high prices blame those prices on the crime, vandalism, and violence committed by local inhabitants.

Where the stores are owned by a different ethnic group, such as Asians in black ghettoes, it is virtually guaranteed that the store owners will be denounced for "gouging," "discrimination" and whatever other political rhetoric will rouse the emotions.

People with no experience in business, no knowledge of history, and utterly ignorant of economics do not hesitate to leap from high prices to greedy profit-makers. Many of these ignorant people are on nationwide television and some are in Congress.

Many, if not most, of the great American fortunes -- Rockefeller, Carnegie, Ford -- have been made by finding ways to charge lower prices, not higher.

In the early 20th century, the A & P grocery chain became renowned for both its low prices and its high quality. Its profit rate never fell below 20 percent during the decade of the 1920s. That's a higher rate of profit than the oil companies make.

The relationship between prices and profit rates is not as simple as media hype or political demagoguery claims.

At May 09, 2006 2:02 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...


The Politics of Anger on the Left
May 9th, 2006

America’s Left and the political party it calls home, the Democrats, have been seized by anger ever since the disputes of the 2000 presidential election, with its razor-thin margin, judicial intervention called forth by Gore, and the ultimate victory for President Bush. Intoxicated by the endocrine-like jolts of energy, the Left has become addicted to anger.

The Left has been self-administering a daily dose of derision, bile, and venom in an effort to keep its energy levels high in the face of a continued Republican hold on the presidency and Congressional majorities. But these are dangerous drugs. Whatever satisfying kick they provide, the side effects are so serious as to threaten the survival of the organism itself.

The toxicity has become so potent that some of the cooler heads on the Left are starting to notice. Richard Cohen, writing in his Washington Post column today, describes his email, traffic after a mildly critical reference to Stephen Colbert’s unfunny performance at the White House Correspondents Dinner:

It seemed that most of my correspondents had been egged on to write me by various blogs. In response, they smartly assembled into a digital lynch mob and went roaring after me. If I did not like Colbert, I must like Bush. If I write for The Post, I must be a mainstream media warmonger. If I was over a certain age—which I am—I am simply out of it, wherever “it” may be. All in all, I was—I am, and I guess I remain—the worthy object of ignorant, false and downright idiotic vituperation. [….]

But the message in this case truly is the medium. The e-mails pulse in my queue, emanating raw hatred. This spells trouble—not for Bush or, in 2008, the next GOP presidential candidate, but for Democrats. The anger festering on the Democratic left will be taken out on the Democratic middle. (Watch out, Hillary!) I have seen this anger before—back in the Vietnam War era. That’s when the antiwar wing of the Democratic Party helped elect Richard Nixon. In this way, they managed to prolong the very war they so hated.

The hatred is back. I know it’s only words now appearing on my computer screen, but the words are so angry, so roiled with rage, that they are the functional equivalent of rocks once so furiously hurled during antiwar demonstrations.

Presumably Cohen writes to warn his ideological brethren of the dangers and possibly deflect or diminish the anger. This will not work. Anger is a self-reinforcing addiction when it is shared with others in the same community. Anger is a terrific motivator. Angry people contribute money, go to events, wear buttons, t-shirts, and funny hats, and readily slap bumper stickers on their Priuses, Volvos, Beetles, mini-vans, and Lexuses. They enjoy meeting and spending time with others who are in tune with their particular emotional orientation.

And President Bush, by his very persona, triggers the very wellsprings of anger and resentment on the part of the secular fundamentalists who dominate the contemporary Left. A large segment of the American intelligentsia and its hangers-on has found an object wholly outside their framework of affection. People who obtained their status and income partially from the ability to speak articulately, and master a body of learning, find it troubling when one who does not flaunt his reading of books and newspapers and does not wield a large vocabulary of eloquently-spoken words rises above them in status. It is an insult to the personal values they have embraced, and on whose rightness their own sense of self-worth depends.

His open Christian faith is an affront to their pretentious embrace of denatured religion, agnosticism or atheism. That such a man should be the head of state for the political entity they regard as the vehicle for transformation of humanity is both profoundly embarrassing and infuriating to them.

The energy generated by the resulting anger intoxicates those who have no solace in the ability to command others to conform to their vision, lacking access to the instruments of state power. But like the thrill brought on by amphetamines or other nervous system stimulants, the short term surge comes at the cost of longer term damage to health.

Americans tend to favor optimism and a sunny disposition in their political leadership. Ours is a nation built on the pursuit of happiness as an inalienable right granted us by our Creator. More than two hundred years after this right was articulated in the Declaration of Independence, Ronald Reagan won overwhelming electoral support running on the slogan “Morning in America.” Aside from its limited electoral appeal, anger is operationally a tricky, even dangerous force to harness. “Blind anger” is a common expression precisely because anger tends to render its carriers insensible to the complexities and subtleties of their environment. Particularly when the angry gather together, their anger feeds on itself and multiplies its force. It is precisely for this reason that mobs are recognized as dangerous. Even if the shared anger is nonviolent, it still is capable of blinding the angry to the probable reactions of others. Convinced of their utter righteousness, seriously angry political movements readily overplay the cards they are dealt. Haters of Bill Clinton learned the hard way that the middle/majority of Americans could not be mobilized to share their passion, even when they held an ace, in the form of their enemy’s false testimony under oath.

The current decade sees the Democrat Left even more dominated by anger than conservatives ever were in the 90’s. When Nancy Pelosi promises investigations of Bush, should voters hand a House majority to her party, she may energize her adherents, but she also alienates the swing voters who will determine that majority. As Charles Krauthammer (creator of the Bush Derangement Syndrome diagnosis) noted yesterday on Special Report with Brit Hume, they are in essence promising voters that they will make sure that Bush goes down in history as a failed president.

The appeal of such a promise is minimal, even when the stakes are “only” national prosperity and domestic policy. When the nation is at war with an enemy that seeks our destruction, the promise becomes a mutual suicide pact, a platform with extremely limited appeal.

Thomas Lifson is the editor and publisher of The American Thinker.

At May 09, 2006 2:37 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...


Digital Lynch Mob

By Richard Cohen
Tuesday, May 9, 2006; Page A23

Two weeks ago I wrote about Al Gore's new movie on global warming. I liked the film. In response, I instantly got more than 1,000 e-mails, most of them praising Gore, some calling him the usual names and some concluding there was no such thing as global warming, if only because Gore said there was. I put the messages aside for a slow day, when I would answer them. Then I wrote about Stephen Colbert and his unfunny performance at the White House correspondents' dinner.

Kapow! Within a day, I got more than 2,000 e-mails. A day later, I got 1,000 more. By the fourth day, the number had reached 3,499 -- a figure that does not include the usual offers of nubile Russian women or loot from African dictators. The Colbert messages began with Patrick Manley ("You wouldn't know funny if it slapped you in the face") and ended with Ron ("Colbert ROCKS, you MURDER") who was so proud of his thought that he copied countless others. Ron, you're a genius.

Truth to tell, I peeked into only a few of the e-mails. I did this because I would sometimes recognize a name I thought I knew, which was almost always a mistake. When I guilelessly clicked on the name, I would get a bucket of raw, untreated and disease-laden verbal sewage right in the face.

Usually, the subject line said it all. Some were friendly and agreed that Colbert had not been funny. Most, though, were in what we shall call disagreement. Fine. I said the man wasn't funny and not funny has a bullying quality to it; others (including some of my friends) said he was funny. But because I held such a view, my attentive critics were convinced I had a political agenda. I was -- as was most of the press, I found out -- George W. Bush's lap dog. If this is the case, Bush had better check his lap.

It seemed that most of my correspondents had been egged on to write me by various blogs. In response, they smartly assembled into a digital lynch mob and went roaring after me. If I did not like Colbert, I must like Bush. If I write for The Post, I must be a mainstream media warmonger. If I was over a certain age -- which I am -- I am simply out of it, wherever "it" may be. All in all, I was -- I am, and I guess I remain -- the worthy object of ignorant, false and downright idiotic vituperation.

What to make of all this? First, it's not about Colbert. His show has an audience of about 1 million -- not exactly "American Idol" numbers. Second, it marks the end of a silly pretense about interactive media: We give you our e-mail addresses and then, in theory, we have this nice chat. Forget about it. Not only is e-mail too often a kind of epistolary spitball, but there's no way I can even read the 3,506 e-mails now backed up in my queue -- seven more since I started writing this column.

But the message in this case truly is the medium. The e-mails pulse in my queue, emanating raw hatred. This spells trouble -- not for Bush or, in 2008, the next GOP presidential candidate, but for Democrats. The anger festering on the Democratic left will be taken out on the Democratic middle. (Watch out, Hillary!) I have seen this anger before -- back in the Vietnam War era. That's when the antiwar wing of the Democratic Party helped elect Richard Nixon. In this way, they managed to prolong the very war they so hated.

The hatred is back. I know it's only words now appearing on my computer screen, but the words are so angry, so roiled with rage, that they are the functional equivalent of rocks once so furiously hurled during antiwar demonstrations. I can appreciate some of it. Institution after institution failed America -- the presidency, Congress and the press. They all endorsed a war to rid Iraq of what it did not have. Now, though, that gullibility is being matched by war critics who are so hyped on their own sanctimony that they will obliterate distinctions, punishing their friends for apostasy and, by so doing, aiding their enemies. If that's going to be the case, then Iraq is a war its critics will lose twice -- once because they couldn't stop it and once more at the polls.

At May 09, 2006 2:46 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

The problem of the leftwing/liberals is becoming so apparent, it's turning even themselves off to one another.

Locally, I wrote the publishers and executive editors of the local liberal newspapers -- only to have their reader representatives (talk about an oxymoron) read me the riot act on how the people of Hawaii ought to be kissing their asses for doing their thinking for us.

What can you say to such deluded and drangaed people but watch as they threaten to go bankrupt -- and then beg that the Legislature should subsidize them so they can keep their high-paying jobs.

At May 10, 2006 9:55 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Bad information creates the need for more information -- just as bad education creates the need for more education. If information is good, the search is ended, just as one stops looking, as soon as he finds what he is looking for. There is no need to search further, once one finds what he is looking for. That seems to be a simple truth that is forgotten in the demand for ever greater amounts of information and education -- as though obtaining more was a good in itself. The need for more is not better; better eliminates the need for more.

This is the highest understanding -- the cessation of the demand for more. Until one can understand that, all one’s learning amounts to nothing -- no matter how much he thinks he knows. In the reading, one can see a simple, clear mind, or a cluttered one, full of knowledge signifying nothing.

A clear mind can see without the interference of preconceived and presumptuous thought and bias, which is the confusion of the mind and not the perception of actuality, of fact. Some people think that opinion is so important as a manifestation of their own ego, their own identity, their own self-importance -- which allows them to see nothing beyond the projections of their own mind. And that is why the world they see is so full of “problems.” The mind insists on seeing everything as a problem -- rather than the solution. What is, is the solution, in a cause-effect world. What should be, is the solution, in a world of wishful thinking.

Wishful thinking, is the denial of actuality in favor an idea of what one would like it to be -- and beginning with that understanding, one never meets reality -- and so the arguments and speculations are endless. That should not be the justification for information, education, and knowledge. There is legitimately important work to do.

At May 10, 2006 10:57 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...


Public Schools Fail ACT
by: Malcolm A. Kline, May 10, 2006

“Teaching to the test” is a common complaint of public school teachers whose students have an increasingly difficult time passing such examinations with the passage of every school year.

“Teach to the test, please,” Richard Ferguson of the ACT advises, “because the skills we are measuring are the skills that are needed.” Ferguson spoke at a conference at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel here in which the ACT released its new report, which is entitled “Ready to Succeed: All Students Prepared for College and Work.”

The ACT that Ferguson heads administers one of the two most widely-used college entrance exams in the United States. At least those teachers who dread exams such as the ACT might be consistent. The odds are that they didn’t handle such tests very well as students either. Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, who also spoke at the conference, pointed out that the aggregate number of college graduates who take up teaching represent the bottom third of scores on the ACT and the SAT.


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