Archive for April, 2013

Widget effect

It’s a common management problem in service performance evaluation. Joanne notes on educator who is saying good-bye to the school assembly line due to feeling like “Lucy Ricardo working on the candy assembly line, but without the benefit of eating all that chocolate.”

The widget effect is the result of seeing people doing service activities as things that can be tweaked and twiddled for optimum efficiency. This is the attempt to move the time-efficiency studies developed for assembly lines in the early 20th century to activities that are not by nature assembly lines. That is part of the idea that when you have a hammer, everything is a nail. In this case, you have a measurement paradigm and everything must be made to fit it. The result is often not pretty.

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double down on dishonesty

It appears that the Sacramento Bee editor defends Rick Perry “BOOM!” cartoon and, in doing so, illustrates the tactic of doubling down on a dishonest assertion and rationalizing that dishonesty by diversion. The rationalization is to assert that the objection to the cartoon is ” being disrespectful for the victims of this tragedy” and a personal assault on the governor’s “disregard for worker safety.” Those assertions personalize the issue, create a straw man, and completely ignores the actual message of the actual cartoon.

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Crass: no crisis too awful not to provide political opportunity

The FAA’s attempt to punish the public with the Sequestor, an idea the administration put up for budget compromise, is one example. The fertilizer plant explosion in Texas is providing another. See Democrats try to cash in on Texas Fatalities.

The attempt here is to brand economic success as a failure in order to defeat the idea that pro-business government, like in Texas, is bad while anti-business government, like in California, is good. This is related to the ‘schools need more money’ mantra that has been going on for years. The ignorance, intentional or otherwise, involved in pushing such ideas is (or should be) astounding as a phenomena itself.

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Big, remote, and striving for certainties in an uncertain world: paying for health care

“I am a general surgeon with more than three decades in private clinical practice. And I am fed up. Since the late 1970s, I have witnessed remarkable technological revolutions in medicine, from CT scans to robot-assisted surgery. But I have also watched as medicine slowly evolved into the domain of technicians, bookkeepers, and clerks.”

Dr. Singer describes How Government Killed the Medical Profession.

There is a lot that has roots in the big organization management evaluation struggle. How do you get an objective assessment of value for something that does not have sharp boundaries?

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Values and virtues, The Washington Times columnists weigh in.

There are a number of columns in the Washington Times this morning related to values and virtues, tolerance and bigotry, government and common sense.

STEMBERGER: Scouting is for honor, not sex and politics

“Until recently, the BSA was unwavering in its conviction that these values and principles were “timeless.”

But now those values are under attack. The Boy Scouts are the victims of an aggressive, well-funded and relentless campaign to inject sex and politics into Scouting.”

“The real issue is this: Homosexual-rights activists are not satisfied with membership in good standing and being allowed to fully participate like everyone else. They want to be able to openly promote homosexuality.”

HANSON: A nation of promiscuous prudes, America grooves on schizophrenic sexual morality

“Graphic language, nudity and sex are now commonplace in movies and on cable television. At the same time, there is now almost no tolerance for casual and slang banter in the media or the workplace. … Many colleges offer courses on lurid themes from masturbation to prostitution, even as campus sexual-harassment suits over hurtful language are at an all-time high. … The judge determined that it was unfair for those under 16 to be denied access to such emergency contraceptives. However, if vast numbers of girls younger than 16 need after-sex options to prevent unwanted pregnancies, will there be a flood of statutory rape charges lodged against older teenagers who had such consensual relations with younger girls?

… Modern society also resorts to empty, symbolic, moral action when it cannot deal with real problems.

… Not since the late 19th-century juxtaposition of the Wild West with the Victorian East has popular morality been so unbridled and yet so uptight.”

GEORGE: How hostile to religion must the state be? Graduation in a church should pass Supreme Court muster

“the 7th U.S. District Court of Appeals struck down the use of the auditorium as unconstitutional and held that the “religiosity of the space” would cause students to believe that the district was endorsing Christianity. Several judges dissented, arguing that the ruling showed hostility toward churches and would prompt unnecessary lawsuits against school districts across the country.”

DRIESSEN: Double standards for regulators – Feds give themselves a pass for flimsy facts

“blinding reality often has no effect on government programs, and cloaking policies in rhetoric like environmental protection, social justice, renewable energy or sustainable development can grant them enduring approval.

… The examples are legion. If the ruling elites didn’t have double standards, they wouldn’t have any standards at all. Legislators and regulators would never tolerate such behavior in the private sector. Citizens should no longer tolerate it in our government.”

good food for thought.

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Police vs war hero and Eagle scout

If you saw headlines about a war hero busted for “rudely displaying” a weapon, you should know that it was a Dad with his son on a ten mile hike needed for a merit badge. See the story at RedState.

Cops need to obey the law, too. They also need to keep in mind that they serve citizens and not vice-versa.

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Telling science and ideology apart: maybe it’s nuance

“I have something in common with climate change myself. When I read about myth masquerading as fact, I find that my own temperature starts rising.”

Michael Kirsch thinks medicine and climate change might have some common elements.

“I don’t think that creationism is science and it should not be disguised as such. Global warming, or climate change, however, is more nuanced. While it is inarguable that temperatures have been rising, it is not certain and to what extent human activities are responsible for this. Clearly, this issue has been contaminated by politically correct warriors and those who have an agenda against fossil fuel use. Science, like all scholarship, should be a pursuit of the truth, without a destination in sight. Believing or wanting to believe that man is turning the world’s heat up may sound plausible, but it may not be true.


Just because something sounds true and logical, doesn’t make it so. In addition, repeating an opinion like a mantra isn’t sufficient to confer legitimacy on a view. Zealots and partisans gainsay these inconvenient truths.

In the medical universe, much is presented as true, which may be either false or unproved. Consider how many established medical procedures and practices have no underlying science to buttress them. Consider the following examples and decide if you agree that each is a good idea that makes sense.  Do they sound right or are they truly sound?”

Too often, people go off on things that sound right but are not truly sound. They then proceed to rationalize what they think sounds right and that is where the problem comes in. The often miss things like the comparison Kirsch provides between creationism and climate change. That is noting the ‘weak analogy‘ logical fallacy. The use of such fallacies is not restricted to a particular topic but rather to a behavior where trying to figure out what is truly sound is not the goal.

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Why science and the straw man

OK: Why should government money go for science, anyway? Sandwalk picked up the chain with Why Do We Do Science?

“Phill Plait of Bad Astronomy hits the nail on the head as far as I’m concerned [Wall Street Journal Editorial Board Member Gets Schooled on Science Funding]. His defense of science should be the primary talking point whenever anyone questions the value of learning about the natural world.”

The idea is a good one, the straw man doesn’t help it. The idea:

“We research the Universe around us because we are curious, inquisitive, intelligent animals. We don’t know what snail mating habits might teach us. That’s why we study it. Maybe it’ll lead into insight on how animals behave, or a new chemical secreted during the process, or to insight on the environment where snails live. Maybe none of that.”

The staw man? It’s those evil conservatives.

“It’s an uphill climb, to be sure; the forces of antiscience are strong and loud. One of them is the Wall Street Journal, which frequently publishes ridiculous OpEds baselessly denying global warming.”

Of course, they couldn’t stick to just “If you don’t engage in the kind of research that Conservatives want, then you won’t get funded” but have to identify a few sample villains with generic topics of dear interest to ideologs – climate change and creationism in these samples. The meme here is also significant because it expresses the anti-capitalism ethos in another straw man. That is that the rationalization for science research is strictly a matter of return on investment. These are characteristics to watch for as they indicate that it is not suppporting ones’ point of view that is paramount but rather demeaning the opposition. That indicates the intellectual integrity is not a priority, either.

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Why is this? (there is a difference, why doesn’t it make an impact?)

John Hinderaker asks Why Aren’t More People Repelled by the Left? The latest episode is about the dancing on the grave of a former Prime Minister.

“Margaret Thatcher’s death has been the latest occasion for the Left to show its true stripes. All across the U.K., there have been demonstrations–vulgar at best, and violent at worst. In Bristol, lefties celebrating a Thatcher “death street party” started fires, destroyed property and battled police”

“Here in the U.S., the last similar display from the Left was the Occupy Wall Street movement, but liberal violence and general hatefulness have a long and consistent history.”

“I don’t get it. Why aren’t more voters repelled by the constant parade of vulgarity, hate and violence that characterizes modern liberalism?”

it does seem strange but then, there are many who deny the evidence – they are the ‘both sides do it’ camp and will go to dellusional lengths to try to pretend it is so.

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And they don’t help much either

Useful tools is the proper appelation. Catholic bishop calls for tighter gun-control to build pro-life culture is an example. The President’s ministers provide more examples.

In this case, you’d think a person who has risen in the Catholic church would be more aware of the folly of trying to foist man’s vices and sins on his tools. Pope John Paul II is cited in a manner that the Bishop should carefully consider. The Catholic church used to have a reputation for sound thinking with careful definition of terms and a solid background and logic. This news story is about a Bishop who denies his church, both in teaching and in terms on intellectual integrity.

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Government religion?

Three articles at Frontpage Mag point out how the first ammendment is being assaulted. ACLU Sues 70-Year-Old Christian Flower Shop Owner for Refusing to Participate in Gay Wedding follows on a previous incident where a photographer was required to do business with clients his religion refused to recognize.

“Homosexual activists are not looking to live and let live. They are out to force their way on everyone else at any cost. Even shamelessly going after a 70-year-old woman who was only following her faith.”

The Boy Scouts are another target. This example is California, again. California Democrats Target Boy Scouts for Trying to Prevent Sexual Abuse

“Can anyone really claim with a straight face that keeping men who have same-sex fetish issues out of a position where they can supervise boys won’t stop a single case of sexual abuse?”

This time the idea is to deny nonprofit exemptions if an organization doesn’t toe the government’s religious edicts.

Then there’s a book review: Persecuted on All Sides: Christians in the Modern World (Amazon affiliate link)

“The authors chronicle in detailed fashion all manner of religious repression against Christians, such as laws inhibiting conversion to Christianity, state destruction of unapproved churches, torture of Christian dissidents, and often socially sanctioned vigilante violence.”

The reason that the U.S. Constitution has a prohibition about laws establishing religion has much to do with the sort of effort that can be seen in the attempts to establish such laws. Despite the dimissal of ‘bible thumpers’, the matters of morality and ethics do hinge on established moral codes and the Bible is the pre-eminent source. It is one thing to tolerate deviations from that code but it is entirely another to foist participation in such deviations on those who do hold the Christian ethos dear.

The issues today are just like kids pushing the line to see how far they can get. For the most part, things like murder and theft are considered a bit too far (except in certain social endeavors). Things like animal sacrifice are a bit too wierd. That is why issues like changing the definition of marriage are at the forefront. That can be assaulted on in terms of all sorts of events from small impact laws to subtle changes in established concepts.

The sad part is that this is a ‘been there done that’ why can’t people learn from history episode.

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Government housing, again

“While homeownership is all very well, Pushing ownership on people who cannot afford it is a policy destined to backfire. In a particularly cruel twist, policies designed to make homeownership affordable leave those who can least afford it worse off, and inflict greater damage on the more modest neighborhoods where these families reside.”

You’d think that so soon after seeing what bad policy can do that a lesson would be learned. But no, the idea of free mansions for all is quite attractive. GHEI describes Reinflating the housing bubble, Loosened borrowing rules set the stage for another bust. Persistence might be a virtue but continually repeating the same thing and expecting different results is something else.

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Just what is science, anyway?

It took most of mankind’s existence to develop our most valuable tool for understanding the physical world and shaping it to meet our needs: the scientific method.

The key to its widespread use, beginning in the 17th century, was the growing freedom to pursue truth objectively, instead of submitting to the dogmas of church or state.

Today, however, we risk moving backward. Science is under attack by self-serving interest groups that reject objective inquiry because it frequently fails to produce politically desired results.”

Droz and Schalin describe When consensus trumps science starting out with the ‘debate’ about climate. “Perhaps the most aggressive attacks against science are attempts to inject value-driven methods into traditional science.” The use of the precautionary principle is suggested as one warning that intellectual integrity is suffering.

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pretensions to science

“these pretensions to “science” are typical of the progressive modern, whose ideological preferences and arguments suffer from the irrational prejudices and political self-interests that they routinely claim vitiate the traditionalist perspective.”

Anthropogenic catastrophic global warming? No, the topic Bruce Thornton is talking about is Gay Marriage and the Dysfunctions of Modernity.

“This incoherence is the consequence of modernity’s hubristic belief that human nature is infinitely plastic and can be shaped in any way we want. Determining the limits of such changes and redefinitions will ultimately be determined not by morality, knowledge, or argument, but by sheer power”

The problem is that a belief in a plasticity of human nature does not mesh very well with the idea that behavior, especially sexual behavior, is as innate and pre-determined as, for instance, such things as eye color.

Much of religion is based on the idea that man can rise above his inclinations and choose his behavior. That idea is a crucial component of a civilized society. It is the idea that is being contested.

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