Tea For Two Million

We’re feeling inadequate down here at the ‘strom because we didn’t attend a tea party today. (The ear infection is still kicking my ass–through my ear canal, which tells you something.) I’m of course wild-ass guessing on the above number, 500 protests with 4,000 average people per. The number of protests is probably higher, but the average is probably a lot lower. But that messes with the whole tea-for-two riff.

So, we’ll enjoy vicariously through everyone else, and figure there are about 100 people like us who couldn’t make it for every person who actually did make it. 200 million, then, objecting to the current amazing expansion of government and debt. Which, even with the exaggerated numbers is still 100 million short of what I’d want to see.

Anyway, here’s Freeman Hunt with a video from Reason. Freem puts me to shame, since she’s got a newborn and she’s making the trek, and what do I have? A lousy ear infection.

Ann Althouse expounds a bit on why she hasn’t talked about the tea parties. I pretty much feel the same way as AA, in that I don’t really like politics, and I’m really not a joiner. I’m begining to feel like I don’t have a choice, though. As John Adams famously said:

I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.

I hope the “war” part is just metaphorical.

That said, the reaction from the statists is tragic. I thought about fisking a guy who I saw tweeting “rebuttals” last night. Basically, anyone who goes to one of these tea parties is a tool of rich, greedy Republicans (Democrats who are rich of course have their hearts in the right place) and they’re all phony anyway and besides, FOX NEWS! LIMBAUGH! HANNITY! BECK! O’REILLY! (Are these guys even that close politically?)

(UPDATE: Patterico responds to one of the essays I thought about fisking.)

Ultimately, I decided life was too short to try to engage people who have no intention of actually communicating. Back when Alpha Liberal first showed up at Althouse I followed all of his links, trying to talk to him. But the links seldom related to what he was saying, or they were assertions being made by other statists, or if there was some real data, it didn’t really describe what he said it did.

But he never really addressed anything I wrote. You’ve seen this, I’m sure. They say, “A!” and you say, “Well, not quite A, more like A1.” Then rather than try to figure out where between “A” and “A1” the truth is, they say, “Well, B!” And they have an inexhaustible source of these assertions because, quite frankly, they’re made up.

It isn’t just the left that does this, of course, but it seems to be primarily the left that considers it legitimate. If you have two points, “A” and “B”, and “A” is completely, obviously not comparable to “B” in terms of scope or relevance, and may even be made up, while “B” is true, this crowd seems to consider the very availability of “A” to be sufficient rebuttal to “B”. In fact, if you see them on TV, the game seems to be getting as many of these in as possible.

The relevance of this to the tea parties is that the media is largely pretending these protests didn’t happen. The reality is “A”, they’re saying “B”. It will be interesting to see if they have to upgrade that to “Well, they happened, but they weren’t very big.” Or “Well, they happened, but they’re just haters and not important.”

Like NBC featuring Chuck Todd, who has dismissed these gatherings. (Though in fairness to Todd, it’s not really a Republican thing, so he’s probably right that it hasn’t “galvanized the party”.) Ace of Spades didn’t care for the CNN reporter who actually aggressively takes the opposing viewpoint. Another helpful CNN article uses Nazis to illustrate right-wing agitation.

Anyway, I saw pix of the various gatherings on Twitter. Tabitha Hale had some nice ones. InfidelsAreCool had pics from Santa Ana, complete with one of Andrew Breitbart. (God love ’em, but every time he comes on “Red Eye” it seems like he’s getting less and less coherent. Preoccupied?) StillStacy linked a nice pic from Denver.

Michelle Malkin has a ton of pics up, and a huge post at her blog. On the other blogs, Ace has a protest babe up. Previous massive pic thread here. Lots of heh over at Instapundit. (UPDATE: Protein Wisdom has a link roundup.)

Here’s a graphic that illustrates my main beef with taxes. It isn’t just that the gov’t takes half of your money directly, it’s that they also double the cost of everything we buy. But those costs are usually hidden. So how are they not, in fact, taking most of the money there is? This is why I’m for a per capita tax as the only tax allowed.

I mean, think about it: If your income was doubled, and everything cost half as much? Tell me you wouldn’t be willing to give up everything the government “gives you”! You could find some money in that for defense. Probably a few social programs, too.

And that’s now. Wait till the bill comes due on the latest spending spree.

Which brings me to another reason I’ve been somewhat reticent about going to a protest. OK, let’s say that there were two million people out there. And they’re fed up. What does that translate into? When you’re there, what are you doing? What do you hope to accomplish?

I mean, when the left does it, it’s for PR. This way the papers can run stories about how people hate the war du jour or Israel or whatever it is they’re hating. And I suppose there’s that value, because even if the newspapers insist on saying “B!”, there is the reality of “A” just sitting out there.

Ideally, these protests would translate into a repeal of all the legislation passed to date, from the Bear-Stearns bailout, insofar as that’s possible. And a confirmation that such legislation was never to be passed again, or at least not quickly. At least, that’s what I think. But what do the other two million think?

And wouldn’t it have been better if the government just hadn’t gotten itself involved in all this stuff 100 years ago?

Talents, Gifts and Skills

I’ve been a fan of Darleen Click over at Protein Wisdom for some time–local gal, I think–and was rather taken by this YouTube clip she posted of a woman singing on “Britain’s Got Talent”.

I wasn’t really surprised. But then, I don’t equate pop-star beauty with musical talent. (No musician does.) I found myself wondering if she needed more work in her lower register or if it was just that the sound mix was bad.

Anyway, lovely, even if not the sort of music I tend to listen to. One of the reasons I don’t watch “American Idol” is that I know the winner has to be the kind of pop-package that places musical quality behind a bunch of other non-musical considerations. Also, the chance of something actually interesting winning seems remote.

Meanwhile, S. Weasel has put up a sample of her artwork, the quality of which makes me fiercely covetous and got me thinking of “talent” versus “gifts” and “skills”.

I’ve been accused of being “gifted” or “talented” over the years, and I try not to be insulted by it. People are simply expressing a degree of admiration for something I can do. But there are few things that I consider myself gifted at. Reading, for example. That was a gift. My intelligence (such as it is) and a certain degree of math ability.

But just about everything else I consider a skill. And in most cases something that I’ve worked hard very at. I have a limited set of writing skills evolved over millions of words, so that I’m a pretty good tech writer, even if good fiction skills continue to elude me. I’ve got thousands of hours in music, which took me to the point where people kind of liked to listen to me play. (I probably could’ve crossed into the truly professional level but it seemed like a lot of effort to put into something that everyone claims to like but nobody actually listens to.)

Taking martial arts, as a teen, was a particularly eye-opening experience. Unless they were substantially older than I, virtually everyone who came in was more “talented”. They were more agile, lighter on their feet, and it seemed to be easier for them to acquire certain skills.

But I worked like a dog. And loved it. And I leveraged the gifts I did have–intelligence, youth and time–to get to where I could be a real threat. Then people started talking about my talent again. Sigh.

I don’t think that life is actually so clearly delineated, of course. A lot has to do with how I focused, just as the people who came in to karate with “natural ability” were people who had focused on incidentally tangential skills.

But some things have eluded me, over the years. I often say that, were I independently wealthy, there’s not all that much in my life that would change, and that’s true. But I would take time to see if I could actually get to drawing like the Wease, or singing like Susan Boyle. I’ve never put in quite enough hours to know for sure, but when I hear or see something expressed with such skill, I become covetous.

Photographs and Memories. (Or at least memories.)

Instapundit linked this interesting site called Lost Films, which is based on the brilliant premise of going around and developing the film found in old cameras.

I like cameras but I don’t take a lot of pictures. My dad, who took photography rather seriously, once noted that if you’re taking pictures you’re not really at the event. I’ve found that to be true, almost tautological. (In order to take a picture of a scene, you generally have to step back from that scene.)

And so, what often happens around here is this momentary realization that an event is coming up for which pictures are usually taken. Then a check of the camera, which is most likely out of batteries. Then there’s a long discussion and much pondering over where the charger is. And, while we’re thinking of it, does this camera even have a charger?

Well, the last one did, but this one doesn’t, so it’s a matter of going to the store–of course it’s inevitably late, so…

The upshot is no pix from this Easter. And the general upshot is that we end up with pictures in a flurry. After all, once the camera is set up and charged and you’ve remembered what all the little buttons–okay, you never really know what all the buttons do, but you can figure out the big three–it’s easy to start taking pictures again.

Until the baby picks it up and starts running around with it and you have to hide it to keep her from dropping it in the toilet.

Then you forget about it.

Then comes another day when you realize, you’re going to want pictures….

20,000 Visitors Under The Sea!

Well, once again I missed a blogging milestone: The Bit Maelstrom passed 20,000 visitors over a week ago. As I suspected last fall, I wasn’t able to clear 15,000 by the end of the year, but then, in the last three months–with a big boost from the, um, romantically agitated Ann Althouse (and Meade knows exactly what I’m talkin’ ‘bout, hush yo’ mouth)–I jumped into the 20K mark.

Cooler to me is that more folks are coming by more often, about double what came by a year ago. Yeah, plenty are still linking in to the pointy breasts, but a few people come by daily for movie reviews, or something else a little more substantial. (Janet Leigh’s been good to me. I’m not knocking the–naw, I can’t say it.)

Special thanks to Ann Althouse, of course, and Freeman Hunt, who has linked me on Twitter generously. And thanks again to all y’all commenting.

Pookahs and other Supernatural Creatures

The Flower has found herself so abuzz with the happenings tomorrow that she has agitated herself into a couple of very late nights (midnight). Apparently, she loves Easter. Her favorite holiday, even, perhaps.

It’s the finding treasure aspect of it.

Also, the magical creature aspect. The Flower has an ongoing correspondence with the tooth faerie. I’m not even supposed to know about this top secret relationship.

Which, of course, leaves me free to act completely innocent when the time comes for sightings and otherworldly shenanigans. At the same time, I’m the usual resource when someone wants to know the nuts-and-bolts of any fantastic creatures.

I was probably worse with The Boy. Probably a lot worse. With him, it was monsters. No, monsters were his friends, so it was a good thing they were everywhere. And I was always seeing one run by, which would prompt 20 minutes of questions about what it looked like, what it was doing, where it was going.

When I went under the house to run the network cable, the voices of the monsters that lived there were quite audible, I was told when I came back up.

My expertise came in handy at one point, when The Boy developed a sudden (and completely inexplicable) fear of vampires. It was then I revealed my history as a vampire slayer to him.

I’m less good with the Pookahs, I admit. They are masters of time-and-space, after all.

Fortunately, I still have some connections with the monsters, and can deliver the occasional bit of news or wisdom.

Why It’s Great To Be A Toddler

“I like myself naked!”

The Barbarienne is a font of amusement when she’s not a font of terror. (Actually, sometimes the two overlap, like an Evil Dead movie.)

In particular, she likes being naked. As did all her siblings. I never thought it was a good idea to shame a kid out of being naked, and was sort of curious if that meant I’d be raising a bunch of nudists. Naturalists? Whatever they call themselves these days.

I’m not anti-nudist, exactly, but I do think clothes are an essential matter of politeness. I think it’s good that there has to be a context for nudity.

All bets are off if you’re three, though.

I’m not sure what the cut-off point is, exactly, but there’s nothing quite like the exuberance of a naked toddler. They’ve all gone through periods where running around naked was about the greatest thing they could imagine.

As it turns out, none of the kids have adopted nudism as a philosophy. Around six or seven, they all start to develop a sense of privacy about their bodies. Which I think is a good thing. (Though the rapidity with which they develop a sense of sovereignty over their bodies makes me not worried about “bad touches”: My kids all started at about 18 months with doling out the hugs and kisses on their own terms; you don’t want to be nearby when someone gives them an unsolicited pat on the head.)

I remember it being a problem for Calvin’s parents (Calvin & Hobbes) but, then, he was perpetually six-years-old.

Ears and Links

About two years ago, the Barbarienne jammed her finger in my ear. Because of her age, her finger was just the right size to get into my ear canal; because of her strength, she jammed it in far enough to scratch my eardrum.

The resultant infection was so painful and persistent that I thought I might actually lose some hearing. It took weeks to clear up fully, but I was back hearing noises in that annoying 16-20K frequency range again in no time.

Which is a propos of nothing except that I recognized the problem sooner this time and didn’t let the infection go too far before going to the local “urgent care”. (Less than $100 and 30 minutes, with almost no paperwork.)

That, and I’ve been accumulating links from around the web but have been unable to cobble together much in the way of coherent posts. So here’s a round-up.

A reprint of a massive 1981 article on Love Canal, and a 2004 follow-up, both at Reason. Massive government screw up plus hysteria equals bad law.

Co-D&D creator Dave Arneson died. It doesn’t surprise me that there’s some rancor and controversy over who did what. Even if TSR hadn’t been dominated by a fairly shady couple, that might’ve arose. I’m glad the two did what they did. Of course, Gygax died at 69 and Arneson at 61, which might suggest the peril of too much gaming.

Vodkapundit tweeted this cute ad for–hell, I don’t even know. Sabre? Saber! Still don’t know what that is. One of these new “body products” they’re pumping out for men. I’m bad at this stuff. I have no products. (I kind of thought “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” was not awful, but I can’t imagine personally being more uncomfortable than had I been in that situation myself.)

These body product commercials amaze me, because there seems to be a common thread. In particular, there’s some severe exaggeration of the (formerly subtle) trope that women will pursue you if you spray this crap on you. (Pheremones! Science! 60% of the time, it works 100% of the time!) Like the Axe one where hundreds of women chase one guy on a desert island.

So, here they’re saying, well, you know this isn’t going to happen. What with the shortage of midichlorians on this planet and whatnot. You’re too smart to believe this stuff, right? But, you know, maybe it works a little. Can you afford to take that chance?

Reverse-double-secret psychology? If I thought they were aimin’ it at me, I’d probably be insulted. But, as noted, I don’t buy “product”.

Speaking of sexism, a bunch of people were tweeting this Naomi Wolf article on porn and pubic hair, blunting men’s appetites for sex. First of all, I swear I read this years ago. Turns out, Althouse was blogging how old it was two years ago. And its was just as dumb then. The only thing that can turn a man off “the real thing” is a woman. And she has to work hard at it. (Womens’ studies classes can give a gal all the ammo she needs, tho’.) And then the man is mostly not going to want sex with her in particular. That is, a man has to experience a lot of women like that to really be turned off sex. (I can only assume Naomi Wolf doesn’t know very many men.)

Well, okay, in fairness, entire cultures can probably gear down their people’s sex drives, by interjecting politics between Man and Woman. That might be what’s going on in the developed world. Then again, it might be some other physiological factor.

In any case–with all due apologize to FARK–it ain’t guys going, “She’s got pointy knees,” which is all Wolf’s argument boils down to. Guys put Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth up on their lockers 60 years ago, but they still got busy with Betty and Rita next door.

Twitter doesn’t allow you to tweet that much, so I just linked this delightful commercial. I almost expected a flame or two, but I’m not really on the radar of the perpetually outraged. (Advanced social studies study group question: Compare & contrast this commercial to the previous one, with special emphasis on how “personal products” are marketed to men versus women.)

Frank J asks the critical question of our day: Who is the more perfect leader? Obama or Kim Jong Il? The answer may surprise you. Then again, it may not.

Somebody I follow on Twitter, probably @thecardioexpert, linked this article on cholesterol. I like these kinds of things because the way our media presents things, it’s all “OMG! THIS IS DEADLY! AVOID IT OR DIE!” And it doesn’t matter if it’s salt or asbestos or alar or what. You don’t get a sense of the mechanics. And then you die because they didn’t warn you against eating broken glass.

I haven’t played with this site yet, but it’s about musical instruction and resources. What I really want is to be able to score a piece on the computer–full orchestra–and have it come out with those instruments. I’ve seen a few things that do this, but the output embarrasses me, it’s so bad. Obviously, there’s a limit to how good it can be, but there should be moments when it sounds like something other than a fleet of DX7s.

Then there’s the freaky bird here. Giant eyes–I mean, really giant eyes–are freaky. Reminds me of this guy who has remade Homer Simpson and Super Mario into their human selves. Also Jessica Rabbit, who doesn’t look that freaky. At first I thought, “Huh, typical guy.” Then I realized she’s not nearly as humanized as the other two, plus her eyes are mostly closed reducing the freak out factor.

Lastly, there’s this kinda-SIMS-y, kinda-The Movies-y, kinda-Playskool-y site where you can make your own 3D movies very easily. I haven’t tried it. But I’ve seen worse animation and voice-acting on TV.