Statisticians: Modern Fortune Tellers

I was quite young when I first came across the phrase, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” in the context of how to frame a question for a failing answer. That broad concept jarred my innocent assumptions: “Why would you want to do that?” And once having eyes opened to the manipulation of it, I began to see it everywhere. I’ve been observing this since high school.
 
This tactic used to be the realm of the salesman but I began to see it in journalists’ interviews, and then in the way everything in the media was artfully worded for a desired emotional impact. And yes, it was. It HAD to be, or else people wouldn’t buy it.
 
Today the impact of phrasing has drifted into “scientific polling” and we’ve disdained the poets for science that isn’t science within cultural surveys of all sorts. People sift, sort, and filter through the answers to find what they were planning on finding, by dint of the questions and how they were framed. “Why would they want to do that?” Indeed, why?
 
Soon, if not already, your workplace will have you take a “survey” to see how racist you are. It is not science, no matter which lauded institution of higher learning touts it. It is art, and an extremely complex and clever one. But its sophistication does not make it an accurate picture of your soul.
 
Manipulation is the devil’s playground, and it’s why we are reminded in the bible that he is the accuser of your soul, and you mustn’t give him that authority. Besides, it’s where all the money is made. There is HUGE money in this latest attempt to have vast numbers of people self-negate in order to feel better about the horrible mirror that such manipulations hold up for them to see. This is a false framing of the problem, a false burden of sin, and a false salvation for your soul. All dressed up as systemic compassion as an answer to the oppression that the accuser brings to the world.
 
For sure we are sinful and in need of salvation. We know our own soul. To trust a statistician to reveal it to you is to go to a gypsy to have your fortune told, to be promised that she will unlock the mystery of your self to you. It’s witchcraft.
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The Fake Spin Cycle of Fake News

boob-toobIt’s not really a “news” cycle nowadays, since very little of it is news. It’s more of an entertainment cycle. And today’s viral star is Fake News.

It doesn’t matter what news items flow into and through our daily glances, true or not, it grows stale and mouldy like yesterday’s manna. We don’t really remember the warehouse fire of X days ago, unless there is an emotional bond. We don’t really remember the horrific highway crash of last winter because we’ll blindly hug the bumper of the car in front of us this winter, unless or until it becomes personal.  So news, real or faked, doesn’t have the emotional hook into us. Our appetite for this sort of “newness” is voracious as we skim the facts and ask, “What else ya got?”  The advert media outlets oblige us 24/7.

But I’m perfectly skeptical of the “Fake News” news stories, the Buzzfeed survey results, the hand-wringing and fake-shaming going on. It’s a pantomime behind a screen. This is all about restoring the Alphabet Network’s –and thus the Elite’s– devastated credibility. The slight-of-hand trick is working, the surveys are pristine and respectable if you don’t question what the weighted factor is, and they are all vying for our trust so they may continue their merry mayhem of race-baiting, hand-wringing, and showing you how much you need them in order to live another day. They will save you, inform you, watch over you, tell you why that news story in that big city could be a problem in your podunk village and why it matters, and how diverse they are even though there’s not 1% mixture of non-white people in said podunk burg, and anything that happens anywhere could happen to us here! Oh noes!

Turn it off. All of it. It’s the only way to be sure you’re not giving eyes to the fakirs.

But Lower

[Guest post by the J.R.]

How to compare
This mystery so fair?
From Heaven He came
And we are to blame,
But instead of God’s wrath
Brings a Shepherd’s staff.
Born in a manger–
What could be stranger

We’ve heard it so much
It means nothing to us.

Condescends to our estate
Born not rich or head of state
But lower.

Born not a Super Star
To be seen from afar
But lower.

Born not Greek
At Plato’s feet (Though Plato bows)
But Lower.

Born beneath our estate
A Roman slave’s fate
But lower.

Far from home both Heaven and earthly
Of Him the world is not worthy
No bed nor room at an inn
No midwife nor family or friends
But lower.

Among the beasts and in the dirt
From which we came and will return
We the powerful, rich and proud
Cannot conceive the wonderous sound.
We build our towers of steel and illusion
In our world so full of confusion
In our effort to reach the unreachable,
Need humble ourselves and be teachable
Of a virgin so tender and mild
In spite of my sins on me He smiled.
He, the righful Ruler of all
We, the guilty of our own fall.
Deserving wrath and rejection
Receiving grace and acceptance.

Strive not upward with towers of Babble
Our salvation lies not there
But lower–
In the dirt among the rabble
Humble, on bended knee.

-by The J.R.

Confession: I love to drive a car.

When I turned 15 and got my learner’s permit, my dad handed me the keys to the Blue Bolt (a Ford delivery van), asked me if I had been paying attention all the years he would lecture me about gears and clutches and drive trains and steering.

“Yes. Why? Are we going driving now?!!”

“No, you are. Take it around the block until you figure it out. Remember where the brake is, and go slow.”

We lived at the bottom of a hill, and our driveway angled down to the road at about 35 degrees, so he thoughtfully put the truck into the street for me and let me loose. After teaching 6 other kids how to drive, he was done. His heart couldn’t take teaching another girl behind the wheel.

It may have actually been intuitive on his part. He knew I had a certain love for engineered things, that I wasn’t afraid to tinker with the tools in his garage and enjoyed the model train setup that my brothers created.

So I climbed into the cab seat of that van, pulled hard on the underside of the big platter of a steering wheel and pushed with all my might down onto that horribly stiff clutch that was likely of a mind to make me work for my racing stripes.

Errrtt! Errtt! Kikuttikikutty-uhrrrrnnnn-eeeeeee! eee!  And away I went making beautiful music while I learned; grinding the steel against steel and rubber against asphalt and herky-jerked my way around the small block of small homes while the neighbors anxiously called their kids in for dinner.

But I got it.

And then Dad made me learn the art of how to park-brake on a hill and not slide into the inconsiderate drivers behind me when the light changed to green. Driving the Blue Bolt was a ballet made for my decidedly un-ballet-like features, and the mastery of coordination  seemed more like an intricate gymnastic routine. Especially with that long clutch arm that needed to go all the way to the floor to disengage. So there I was, with my butt at the edge of the seat, my arms gripping and pulling up on the steering and grabbing the column shifter and shoving it forward as far as my arm could reach. Every trip was competitive: me against the mechanical forces and physics of bodies in motion in the quest to turn contained explosions into horizontal movement that wouldn’t kill me or someone else.

And so, my first car was a Javelin. Mint green with the dual racing stripes, black and running wide down the hood and over the roof and down the back.  $600 for a used one back then and it looked about like this:

Fast forward to recent history. After years of accompanying the J.R. on road trips down two-lane blacktop of assorted rise and run I’ve picked up more of the joy of driving, if not completely embraced the “discover the physical limits” edges of any particular vehicle. It suits me fine just to have little match-ups with unsuspecting young men, calling out to them with a double-clutch downshift and maybe a bit of heel-and-toe if the turn is tight as I edge past them through the snaky crosstown boulevard and let the super-charger kick in when the traffic clears as I make for the opening near the rail, bolting up the Ravenel Bridge. It never fails.

No one in a BMW expects a woman of *cough* years in a little red Miata to scream [n.b. to the J.R.: Literary license for effect. I’d never push the car to “scream” levels. Honest.] past them with the throaty roar of a well-tuned engine flowing through a generous muffler and  pounding the pavement with 160hp. Now, if said BMW driver puts his foot into it on the straights I don’t have a chance. But I have my moments off the marks and wending through traffic. The J.R. gets all the mondo cred for having built such a sweet little sleeper of a road car.

Why would anyone want to text while driving? Because they have crappy cars or they are incurious about the one they are driving. They are bored and probably scared to step into in a turn, but have no fear of recklessly endangering others with their bored inattention.

I’m not bored when I drive. I love it. I love to move, and make good time, or make a good downshift or a tidy chicane. I don’t really know all the technical details like a good gear-head would. But I do know how to have all the fun of the swooping, diving curves as the car’s Koni shocks squat into the pavement and stick four fat tires to the surface. I won’t say I’ve ever overpowered the throttle and fishtailed it jumping out of a dead-stop turn, because the J.R. will probably read this at some point and give me the look that makes me feel like maybe I did something wrong.

And then I will try to be contrite but I’m afraid the grin on my face will betray me  every time.

Hardshell.

I’ve played the guitar since I was about 17 years old and my guitar case has been with me since I was 18 years old. Somewhere around the age of 19 years, I backed over my guitar with the car. The sturdy case held, although it cracked on the corner above where the tuning heads are. My Ovation was secure and still in tune when all the heart-in-throat drama subsided. Duct tape was applied and that was that.

Tonight I had the distinct pleasure of loaning my newer guitar to the Escuincle and listened as he and his father played some Johnny Cash tunes. I never thought I’d live to hear them play together and it warms the cold and prickly cockles of a rough day to have it wind down with such a sweetness. It’s a solid comfort, hard and true,that a father and his son should be such friends and find new ways to enjoy their time together. Usually they smoke cigars and drink bourbon together in order to better arrange the world’s problems and solutions.

Paul exclaimed as how his fingers hurt after playing my guitar and I assured him that although I don’t play much anymore my callouses would spring right back after a few days on those steel strings. I used to rake that guitar with such joy that the steel would succumb and cry mercy and the strings at last would rend themselves as an offering to the rhythmic catch of the pick.

All the while they played I had been in another room, listening halfway. When they were done Paul walked in where I was and said, “I cannot remember a time when that guitar case wasn’t a part of my life. Is it as old as me?”

“Older than you, my son. Why, the duct tape on the head corner is older than you.”

“It’s just now that I’m thinking it’s been such an iconic part of my life. It’s been everywhere and all the time with us,” he surmised.

The three different guitars that have resided within that case have made thousands of hours of music, but the solid protector of the songs is what has captured the imagination of our only child. I know that the gypsy life of his parents has created this longed-for steadfastness and familiarity in his heart. I look upon his sense of loyalty and duty all rolled up in a fun-loving and mischievous personality and wonder at the man within: accessible, tender-hearted, immensely protective.

I look at the hard shell case, ill-used and duct-taped over these many years, and I wonder at the changing music within. I know the worth of a good instrument and am aghast at the inattentive moments that would leave it vulnerable to crushing carelessness. Yes, a hard protective shell is necessary in this life, as is an assist by someone willing to stick with you all these years and cover the broken places. Just don’t forget to open up and let the music out.

Imagine Tyranny. I Wonder If You Can.

A comment left elsewhere. Seriously, I should’ve just written a blog post. I never know what will set me off:

Much of the unspoken pseudo-religious intent of the progressives is John Lennon’s ImagineNation of no borders or boundaries. Ever. At all. Anywhere. Even personal ones. (Can we all agree to stay clothed, please? At least that?)

Their Ultimate Utopia is one that makes no demands on the individual and dreams of everybody just getting along, flowing into and out of each others’ bank accounts, houses, relationships and bodies. The idea of ownership is anathema unless they are the ones doing the owning– er, . . . “caretaking” of all the resources. So borders, ownership, and personal accrual of goods or property are all concepts that will be targeted in their quest for power over the individual. So consumed are they with their self-delusional vision that sexual age limits will be the next boundary to be conquered, for they truly imagine no limits to their licentious nature. Indeed, that area is already under assault, thanks to our educational system and NAMBLA. [Update: it has begun in our courts, naturally.]

The opposing and equally dubious power struggle by those who want it all for themselves and could care less how they come by it works from the other side much more quietly and perhaps more effectively. At some point in the last decade, these two forces have allied themselves against the middle, who were busy minding their own business– which, it turns out, was silly and wrong of the middle. Wrong and wasteful and narrow and bigoted and evil and stupid.

If I’m exhausted just thinking about it, think of how long and how many hours and days and years of devilment and planning it has taken to get us to this point.

I don’t think that, among people who just want to be left alone to pursue their own lives, there is that much patience and dedication to running the lives of others. I think that by our nature, we are subject to suffer at the hands of those who have nothing better to do or think about, but how they may control and manage the lives of others.

You meet these sorts every day: they never once give an inward thought as to why they are unhappy, so assured are they that all of their problems flow from people they can’t control. When these naifs meet up with political puppeteers who know how to properly groom such shallow minds, the result is Congress.

God help us all.