Thursday, December 30, 2010

Political Correctness Inspected



I
f there is one thing we can point to as the cause of the precipitous decline of Western Civilization it is the rise to supremacy of Political Correctness. PC is so much more than just the speech police. It first hit my radar decades ago as simple speech correction by self assigned entities of virtue who would call out those who didn't tow the line. One can remember Howard Cossell crying out "look at that monkey run!" when calling a Monday Night Football game as a black, err, I mean African American, no, no, I mean black player made a mad dash to the goal line. (Ironically, as a person who loathes political correctness I just felt compelled to stop myself from using a rational and descriptive word in favor of the politically acceptable term, interesting to say the least...) Anyway, by the time this incident occurred and Howard Cossell had been publically chastised the foundation for political correctness was already firmly entrenched.

Today no one can or does deny that Political Correctness exists and that it holds tremendous power in its exercise. Yet, everyone claims to hate it. Liberals and conservatives, the young and the old, the rich and the poor all claim to hate what PCism has done to rational discourse in our society. What or who gives it such power?

PC has found it's home inside the bureaucracies of Western Civilization. Political Correctness is the natural child of communism and socialism, all seeking to downgrade the individual in favor of the collective. It shouldn't come as a surprise since communism and socialism are themselves the children of Western Civilization. In a communist utopia the the elites and the common man would be subsumed into the collective, eventually becoming indistinguishable. This we know instinctively to be impossible. It is thought that Political Correctness was conjured up as a tool of the elites to strip the masses of their individualism while maintaining their hold on the upper reaches of society. According to the scholar Bruce Charlton, PC's ultimate goal is the destruction of what it means to be human...

excerpt from:
Bruce Charlton's Miscellany "Political correctness cannot be explained by selfishness among the elite" (hat tip to Al Fin)

...the culture of atheistic, leftism - which is now PC - stripped away the basic toolkit of assumptions with which humans were born into the world. So the culture of radicalism rapidly made humans helpless in the face of reality; took pre-designed people - created for this world - and made them into (psychologically) formless blobs.

The hope behind this was that formless blobs would be amenable to re-programming - and indeed they are (many of them). But, in an unreal world, what to reprogram them with?


The formless blob humans created by PC deprogramming are being filled with the highest thing known to PC; which is impersonal abstract altruism; they are being filled with the idea that the highest goal a human can aim-at is to impose upon human behaviours an abstractly virtuous system which does not depend on individual humans, does not require moral humans, does not need human choice - human agency.


*
At a deep level, PC has become a program to destroy humanity (destroy not the physical form of humans, but destroy their agency, freedom, choice etc) - and this is not seen as a bad thing to do, since humans are intrinsically selfish animals, and therefore the highest imaginable thing in the PC world is an abstract system which shares-out 'goods' despite what humans might feel about it. Of course PC cannot justify that imposing a system of altruism is objectively a valid endeavor. Because no endeavors are valid. There is no valid positive goal for PC - it is negative and reactive against our spontaneous perception of selfishness/ injustice/ corruptibility.

PC is therefore always working-towards - and if it ever actually arrives and achieves its goal, then it will collapse from its internal contradictions.
That collapse might still leave humans enslaved to abstract systems of altruism, but the humans so enslaved would no longer be politically correct.
:END excerpt

If we take Mr. Charlton's definition and break it down the true hideousness of PC comes into focus.

From Merriam-Webster.com

impersonal adj \(ˌ)im-ˈpərs-nəl, -ˈpər-sə-nəl\
2. b : not engaging the human personality or emotions c : not existing as a person : not having human qualities or characteristics

ab·stract adj \ab-ˈstrakt, ˈab-ˌ\
1. a : disassociated from any specific instance b : difficult to understand : abstruse c : insufficiently factual : formal

al·tru·ism noun \ˈal-trü-ˌi-zəm\
1 : unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others 2 : behavior by an animal that is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but that benefits others of its species

Reading these definitions one thing is perfectly clear, there is no place for individuals, or individual freedom in the world of political correctness. Is it any wonder Political Correctness is so destructive to a nation like the United States where individual liberty is actually a right.

If Charlton is right Political Correctness will (eventually) collapse of it's own weight, but not before it takes out entire societies and civilizations. Currently many liberal causes and passions use political correctness as a bludgeon. It's used as a poison in the court of public opinion against its enemies, rendering entire rational arguments invalid by virtue of a slip of the tongue. Their day will come, hypocrisy eventually reaches critical mass and the unequal application of the "poison" on only right of center transgressors will no longer stand.

How do we fight political correctness? This is an enemy without a focal point, there is no army, no king, no central command. It exists primarily in the bureaucracies, halls of academia and the popular media all of which have the power to influence and cast aspersions. We can work outside these institutions as much as possible. We can teach our children to think for themselves. We can start to develop alternate institutions such as home schooling or the Tea Party-like movements. We can fight the media by disabusing ourselves from its perceived power. We can play the game without losing ourselves and use political correctness as a rope to hang the left every time they slip up. The time has come to fight fire with fire.




CW

Monday, December 27, 2010

Where are we going?

So where are we going?

The better question may be: are we going up or are we going down? It is in our human nature to see the sky falling, believing the world is going to hell in a hand basket. Can we even see the sky when our gaze is on each tedious step we take through the muck and mire of daily life? I'll be first to admit it's hard to be an optimist even if all the evidence that has come before predicts a better future than the past.

When the Soviet Union collapsed twenty years ago I saw a spectacular future for the world. To me the Cold War represented shackles on all of humanity. I was convinced that much of humanity's potential and Earth's treasure was wasted on waging the MADness of the U.S./Soviet conflict. Well, as it turns out there were shackles holding us back. The Cold War wasn't holding back astounding human potential, it was holding back pent up conflict in every little corner of the world. Face it, the twenty years that have passed since the end of the Cold War have been a major disappointment. How could I have been so wrong?

I am ready to admit my naivete. Yet, according to people like Matt Ridley, Thomas Sowell and Peter Dupont there is still reason to be optimistic. The good old days weren't all that good.

Still, considering the state of affairs the world finds itself in am I really the one being naive?

One of the problems with my perception is that I live in times when changes in the human condition are readily apparent. Up until about two hundred years ago the pace of change in daily life was glacial. Since then the transportation of people and goods (ideas and trade) has set the world on a breakneck pace. According to Matt Ridley's book "The Rational Optimist" (hat tip to Al Fin) trade and specialization has been responsible for the blessings of prosperity we have enjoyed since the 19th century. The way the average Westerner lives today is radically different than the way our ancestors lived in the 1770's. Our colonial fore-bearers had more in common with the humans who battled the mammoths ten thousand years ago than with us.

We tend to see everything in the here and now, failing to consider there were dark times and dire predictions many times before and yet mankind forged ahead. Things were pretty bleak in the American heartland in the 1930's. What must Europeans have thought about their future as the smoke cleared in 1945?

Looking at the state of affairs here in the United States one can easily conclude we are heading downhill and fast. Ridley acknowledges in his book that the U.S. and his homeland of Britain may be in for a rough couple of decades, but progress, innovation and specialization continues. Trade with China and India has moved capital and jobs where it is more efficient for the time being. History shows that when one power contracts financially another expands. It took significant political an economic changes in these emerging economies to ensure that progress and prosperity continue unabated. Refreshingly Ridley reinforces what most people know instinctively (whether they will admit it or not) that prosperity is a positive benefit to all of humanity and not some planet-destroying consumerist nightmare. Additionally, it is individual freedom that results in millions of transactions of personal choice and not government planning or humanitarian drivel that is the primary engine of prosperity.

To that point Thomas Sowell shows us in his book "Economic Facts and Fallacies," how the use of undefined terms and non-evidenced based assumptions are used to manipulate an uninformed public. Much of the financial, political, and psychological basis for left-wing policies are shibboleths and canards. When everything is structured in the language of social justice, racism, sexism, fairness and inequality it weakens the pillars of a prosperous society. This is what has happened to the American psyche over the past 40 years. We have talked ourselves out of our place as the economic leader of the world even while we still are. While there is always an element of truth in the doomsayers proclamations their heavy handed prescriptions applied with a brute force of the courts almost always burdens society with terrible, debilitating and unintended consequences.

And yet humanity overcomes to create even more with less.

We have seen this with our own eyes, more than once. Doomsayers predicting the collapse of economic and environmental systems are as old as the written word. Today's global warming or climate change if you will, is only the latest sky is falling narrative. The real danger here is that coordinated efforts by governments and NGO's can enact policies that will shackle rich, energy consuming societies in favor of poorer nations, when in the end the charlatans themselves will be the only real beneficiaries.

The same is true for the financial manipulators. There is a fine line between debt and disaster. A monetary and fiscal system reliant on debt can't make debt the enemy and the savior through manipulation and continue to create prosperity. It takes debt to inject new money into the system, providing the fuel for wealth creation. However, the use of massive amounts of government debt as we are seeing today can't succeed due to the inefficiencies of forced redistribution. Such government spending drains private capital through higher taxes, increased debt burden or inflation. Right now with taxes and hyper-inflation held in check the looming debt burden actually leads to deflation fears. Nothing is more dangerous to prosperity than deflation.

On one side you have the debt scare mongers and on the other the government panacea. Neither side has exclusivity on truth, but this statistic is telling: since the end of World War II, average annual Federal government spending was a relatively consistent 19% of gross domestic product, but in the last few years it has spiked up to around 24% or 25%. If you were to include state and local spending, total government spending is now probably about 50% of GDP. We have seen a proportional dip in our economic prospects as a result. With much of the government spending going toward transfer payments via social programs overall prosperity suffers the inefficiencies of government ineptness.

Is there new hope that the government beast will be tamed? I'm skeptical. The Republican track record during the Bush era was hardly different than the Democrats. It is hopeful thinking on The Wall Street Journal's Peter DuPont's part to believe that "when the Republican House comes into session there will be new rules, new procedures, and very new thinking about what the government should be doing."

DuPont does offer this The Wall Street Journal sentiment that I wholeheartedly agree with... "The single most important result of the November 2 election is the marginalization of the House Democratic left... Paul Ryan has replaced Barney Frank as the most prominent House spokesman on economics."

Amen to that!



CW

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas


If there is ever a good time to set aside life's worries and tribulations it is Christmas Day. Visit with family and friends, eat good food and smile a lot. It is good for your soul whether you're a believer or not.

As commercialized as Christmas has become it is still a time of hope, of grace, of companionship and good will. All these things Jesus wished for us. There will be other days to contemplate repentance, forgiveness and life everlasting.

Christmas itself is not the pinnacle of the Christian tradition, but it is important. More than anything it brings friends and families together. For this one night nearly the world over hearts lighten, children smile and people of the planet Earth take a second to inhale...


CW

Friday, December 17, 2010

They Just Can't Help Themselves

We are fools to think that the mid-term election of 2010 would change anything in Washington DC. These people just can't help themselves. And the newly re-forged Republications... Spines of steel I tell 'ya.

Voters were rightfully dismayed by the Harry Pelosi Show. Even their trusty sidekick Barrack the Dog ran out of tricks. The Hope and Change Tour was a major disappointment. Still, the show goes on while the audience just turns the channel - the new season of The Bachelor is coming soon.

As if the clear repudiation of the policies and and philosophies of the Democratic leadership we've been under for four years (yes, 4 years since Harry and Nancy took over) wasn't loud and clear they were back at it again with the so-called tax compromise bill.

You'd think that the extension of the Bush era tax cuts - all of them - constituted a major victory for the Republicans. Well, what did we really get? Certainly not a tax cut. Our taxes will stay the same. In fact the most unfair tax of all, the death tax is going up. (I never understood the mentality that because someone dies their assets suddenly belong to the government).

The tax cut extension would've been good if the spending was held down, but it wasn't. Billions for an extension of unemployment benefits, billions for "green energy" schemes, billions for the implementation of government health care, billions for pet projects. Sure, one could argue that the unemployment benefits are a stimulus for the economy. I think it's a catch 22. It does nothing to get people back to work. It's a band aid, the kind of band aid the Democrats love, the kind that create more dependency on big government.

At election time the country was bleeding red ink, massive government stimulus failed to even spark the economy, hope and change had become uncertainty and despair and the voters sent an unmistakable signal to change course. Signal received, signal ignored.

They just can't help themselves.



CW

Friday, December 10, 2010

I Don't Even Like Chipotle...


I stumbled across this article about Chipotles restaurants in my home town and was actually heartened - and I don't even like Chipotles!

The message has to be sent to those in this country illegally and to the businesses that exploit them.

I don't like the idea of anyone losing their job if it can be avoided, but this action taken by local Chipotles was the right thing. According to The Minnesota Immigration Rights Action Committeee (MIRAC), a local group that fights for the legalization of undocumented workers, around 50 of the restaurant’s Latino workers have been fired in the last week.

An I-9 audit was completed where they check the paperwork and fire anyone who can’t prove they have the right to work. The fact a Mexican restaurant was targeted is telling in this era when legal Americans hard up for work themselves are tired of illegal immigrants taking jobs as lawbreakers.

For its part a spokesman for Chipotle said, “We are fully cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in Minnesota in connection with a document request they have made.” ICE it seems offered no comment.

No one want's to see another human being lose their job at this time of year. However, these people made the choice to come here illegally and these choices have consequences - and they knew it. Honestly, would I have the right to expect a Mexican business and the Mexican government to ignore the fact that I had come to their country illegally and took a job from a citizen? Shoe meet the other foot...

The real moral failing here is as much the Federal government of the U.S. as it is the poor Mexican crossing the border uninvited. The fault lies as much with the past 4 administrations as it does with the current one. The government is not doing its job. Frankly this American is tired of seeing good jobs being exported to China and then workers being "imported" from Latin America to fill the ones that can't be sent overseas.

At the end of the article one commenter summed it up nicely by conveying the sentiment that it's not easy to see anyone thrown out of work. JohnCS said: They are human beings trying to feed their families and get ahead. Unfortunately we (the U.S.) cannot absorb so many low skilled/poor and provide entitlements anymore. They must work on fixing their own countries.

I applaud Chipotles, I'm sure it wasn't easy.



CW

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Palin Question Answered

I do like Sarah Palin - for many reasons. No real need to go into them here, that's not the point of this exercise. The question is should Palin run for President in 2012 or not? I say not.

There is one reason and one reason only. If Obama is to be ousted, which simply has to happen, we need the one advantage we having going for us right now. Energy. The center/right has it and the center/left doesn't. The one sure way to energize the center/left is nominating Sarah Palin.

Today the left is utterly demoralized by Obama and the right is energized by him. It was this same sort of energy that propelled Obama to power, energy that was extracted as voters of all stripes were drained by the second Bush term. It is a dead certainty that a Palin nomination would be a rallying cry for Democrats and independents, but she would also cause serious strife on the right. Establishment Republicans and the Washington conservative elites are already deriding her. For good or ill the eventual Republican nominee needs these people on his or her side. The Republicans, the right-wingers, a large majority of independents and even the Tea Party will need to be on board if they intend to beat an incumbent Democrat with the main stream media in his camp.

Obama must go in 2012. Palin is young, and with some seasoning she may have real shot at it under different circumstances, but right now I believe she is the wrong person. This isn't a high school popularity contest, this is the future of our country at stake. Palin's core beliefs are correct in my opinion, but she is not going to be able to articulate them when half the country truly believes she is not up to the job.

It's too bad that the media didn't do their job in 2008. It is clear by now that President Obama is in over his head, he was improperly vetted and inadequately challenged by the opinion makers at the time. Under the current circumstances it really should be a slam dunk for the Republicans in November of 2012, a Sarah Palin nomination, I'm sad to say, would make it a toss up.

All that said if it came down to Obama vs Palin... I'm with Sarah.


CW

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Sun Sets on the Mariner


"The Sun Sets on the Mariner"

18 x 24 acrylic
by Craig Willms
2010


Here's a new painting I recently finished as part of my Vacation Photo Project. This scene I'm told is a sunset viewed from "The Mariner" a Door County hotel on Lake Michigan. Sadly The Mariner has since closed... Inspired by an excellent photo shot by frequent Mariner guest Mike Wagner.

Please visit my online art gallery Static Art to see more of the project.



CW

Monday, November 22, 2010

Destroyer of The World?


Newsweek in all its wisdom has put out an image of President Barack Obama, a man they helped elect that depicts him as the Hindu God Lord Shiva. Shiva is known in the Hindu faith as the Destroyer of the World.

What was Newsweek thinking? It may have been as we say in flyover country too clever by half. In other words Shiva, destroyer of the world, performs his task in order to fulfill an inevitability. You see the world must be destroyed in order to be reborn into a universal order. You know, one world in peace and harmony. How many of us dullards would ever get past "destroyer of the world"? Not too many, obviously.

How could the geniuses at Newsweek being such deep thinkers who clearly see below the the surface tension of our polarized society and into the metaphysical realm not see that this might be offensive to Hindus? Really? The same magazine that regards the average American as hopelessly Islamophobic thinks nothing of insulting the nation with the world's largest democracy. What's next pictures of Obama with a halo around his head?

Obviously I understand what Newsweek was getting at on multiple levels, but was this really the best way or the best time for this? I know the President didn't ask for this, but it makes him and us look bad. With friends like Newsweek, does the President even need enemies...


CW

Monday, November 15, 2010

Get Out of Jail Free Cards

So far 113 "ObamaCare" waivers have been granted to companies and unions. These are 1 year exemptions, but I just wonder how easy it will be to extend them? Should we be surprised? Not really. What needs to be asked is if these institutions are Democratic Party donors. Hmmm.

This health care law is going to be a disaster in so many ways. Liberals can cite many good and righteous things about it, but in the end everyone knows 2 things: the uninsured could have been covered far more cheaply and efficiently than what this will cost, secondly, this is merely the grease for the skids to usher in government-owned health care.

The ill-effects of this law are already affecting hospitals and doctors - and patients. Locally a large health care system of hospitals and clinics have made the move to completely homogenize the delivery of medicine. Innovative surgeons are already moving out because they will be bound by hospitals rules directly or indirectly compelled by the new Federal laws that prescribe but one approved procedure for all hospitals in the chain. Cutting edge medicine will suffer. Eventually when the government controls the insurance apparatus it will be government panels that will decide if your mother gets the lifesaving surgery she needs or sent home to die. Death panels anyone?

Private hospitals will take no chances on expensive new or experimental equipment that may or may not pay off. Since reimbursement will be dictated by the government expensive equipment that may take ten or more years to payoff will never be purchased. How do I know this? We have a perfect example on our northern border. My home state with 5 million people has more MRI machines, more CT scanners than the entire nation of Canada with well over 30 million people. The Canadian government owns health care, owns it...

Standard operating procedure in Washington DC, sad as it may be, is for legislators to propose bills, lobbyists, corporations and business groups to actually craft the legislation, politicians (not same as legislators) to wrangle over them for their own purposes and then finally put them up for a vote. It seems wrong, even criminal considering we didn't elect industry insiders to write the laws, but at least these people know something about the way things actually work. This health care bill was written by socialist utopians that did not care how things actually work. They crafted it precisely to wreck the current health care system so that we clamor for the government to step in and rescue us. The legislators who voted for it never even read it, no one did.

So, as the fine print is disseminated institutions either change their business model to protect themselves, petition for a waver or get out of health care altogether. Health care experts, not the ones on TV, but the ones in the hospitals and clinics know this is a disaster in the making. A complete above board takeover of the health care system would've been better than this. At least then we would move directly to rationing and sub par health care, instead this law will collapse the system causing unprecedented suffering.

You ought to be mad about it.



CW

Monday, November 08, 2010

T.M.I. The Confessional Generation


It used to be that there were things we just didn't talk about outside the family. People had their secrets. 'Need to know' was the measuring stick for what was OK to reveal outside these four walls. Some things were never meant to be shared with anyone but a doctor or a priest. There was a condition known as shame that helped keep things bottled up inside - for better or for worse. As the pendulum swings it reaches an apex on either end which leads me to ask how far can this confessional culture go?

Psychologists may agree that keeping things too tightly bound up is ultimately unhealthy for the individual. When, however, is too much information too much? In the world of the Internet, cell phones, texting, Facebook and Twitter the younger generation reveals all, willingly and with glee. All of us have encountered the cell phone user in a public place carrying on a much too personal conversation. It's quite uncomfortable and actually it's really annoying.

The children of my generation coming at the tail end of the baby boom had our gossip chains and whisper campaigns (or louder when alcohol was involved), but there were lines that were not crossed. We had our confidants, our circle of friends that were close and most certainly personal. The Facebook/Twitter generation seemingly has no shame, no filters and no sense of what is appropriate. Nothing is too personal anymore. Because of the distance both physically and emotionally many of these so-called friends are altogether impersonal. Frankly, it's unsettling.

One thing that clearly separates the baby boomers from generation-next is what we revealed to our parents. Simply put - as little as possible. Not so today. Honestly there are things I will never tell my mother - not her business for one and not good for her psyche for another. There are things parents don't need to know. Today the kids involve us in everything. These days it seems it's the parents running around with their hands over their ears yelling "I can't hear you, I can't hear you."

Obviously the modern media has played a major part in this. Raunchy reality TV shows remove any semblance of decorum or personal shame in a calculated attempt at shock and awe. What it succeeds in doing is completely desensitizing a whole generation of kids to what is really OK to air in public. Movies have pushed the envelope for generations blurring the lines between appealing and appalling. What was called blasphemy centuries ago was called indecent generations ago is now called edgy. Everyone wants to be edgy.

The confessional culture extends beyond the attention driven, self centered celebrity class (ie: Paris Hilton or Charlie Sheen) to the political class and all the way to the top. I learned way too much about President Clinton in the late 1990's. A simple rule of thumb should be that what we would not want to know about our grandparents we would not want to know about the President and our leaders. Some illusion of their superiority needs to exist if we are to have any respect for them at all. Yet, tell all books even dig back into history exposing failures and the indigressions of our most esteemed heroes. To what end I ask?

In the interest of full disclosure I joined Facebook too. I do not Twitter. I rarely text and I hate reality shows (except for American Chopper). Facebook has some redeeming value if you don't take it too far. I joined in advance of a class reunion and it was excellent for reconnecting with old friends and coordinating reunion related events. Since the reunion in mid-July I have been on Facebook a half a dozen times max. I must say it makes a really great bulletin board.

I struggle to imagine that the confessional generation will extend into the indefinite future. Revealing too much will have it's consequences. Facebook, MySpace, personal blogs and YouTube are already being used by HR departments to pre-screen potential employees. What you confess by way of what you say, respond to and the pictures you post could be costly in ways you'll never know. People are already losing their jobs because of things they've posted on social websites.

Plus, in all honestly, at the risk of sounding crude, let me just say - does anybody really need to that shit? Please keep it to yourself.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Wow!

The repudiation of Obama/Pelosi is undeniable.

This was a course change of historical proportions. The Republicans have been given the proverbial second chance.

In 1994 a similarly historical electoral tsunami rolled into Washington. By 1996 the Democrats had the upper hand again - legislatively. President Clinton played both ends against the middle like no one had before or since. I don't think Obama has one tenth the talent of Bill Clinton. This is true because he is no political chameleon like President Clinton, but mostly because he is in over his head and always has been.

The Republicans must act in the interest of the nation (meaning fostering an environment for private sector job creation) and not in the interest of the party, making points against Obama with a goal of capturing the White House as they did in 95 and 96. The people are watching even more closely this time.

If Obama vetoes legislative action that is directly relevant to aiding the expansion of the private sector jobs machine let the chips fall where they may. However, if the Republicans pursue a witch hunt against the Obama Administration, jump on sticky social issues or push political paybacks (like Obama did) they will be thrown out in 2012. There's just too much at stake for political games this time.

We shall see...

CW

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Reconstruction

This fall bathed in the finest autumn weather I can ever remember I tore down and rebuilt my screenhouse/deck. What I tore down was 23 years old and was built to unexacting standards, in other words it was terrible.


I did reuse the deck frame and the roof, but everything else was rebuilt.
I decided not to use treated lumber this time. I really hate the way it looks for one, and it is literally toxic. For the rebuilt screenhouse I used construction lumber which was then primed and painted (with the expensive stuff). For the decking itself I opted to use the "ultra deck" composite material.


I am in no mood to have to deal with refinishing ugly treated wood every few years. As everyone who has had a deck in this part of the country knows if you don't maintain the decking it begins to look like crap in a few short years. Traditionalists are never going to sanction this "fake" decking, but realists love it.

I opted for the white ultra deck which as it gets dirty it takes on the appearance of bleached out planks. The rest of the structure was painted to match the house itself. My goal was to make it look more or less as an extension of the house rather than a stand alone deck.


For now winter is just around the corner so I really won't get much pleasure out of it until next year, oh well...




CW

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Schizophrenic Voters of Minnesota


I live in a state where it is not unusual to see brand new cars adorning green Wellstone bumpers stickers. Senator Wellstone died tragically in a plane crash eight years ago, God rest his soul. He's not coming back...

This is of course the state that elected independent Jesse "the body" Ventura in a stunner back in the 90's as well as comedian turned politician Al Franken in 2008. Our senior Senator is a true leftist and so is our Secretary of State. This is a state that hasn't broken for a Republican Presidential candidate since Nixon in 72. In 84 we were the only state that didn't.

Despite all this we have not elected a Democrat Governor since the 80's. We have had several prominent Senators from the GOP including Norm Coleman and Rod Grams, two of the nation's most accomplished Senators without multiple terms under their belts. We've had constitutional officers from both parties that have been elected one after another, each from the far end of the political spectrum in their policies and their governance - enough real difference I tell you to cause whiplash!

Today, in 2010, we sit on the verge, if the polls can be believed of electing Mark Dayton, a serious flake, as our next governor. Succeeding Tim Pawlenty, who has been a decent steward of our state during tumultuous times, Dayton would be an about face of schizophrenic proportions. I can not image the tax burden placed on our citizens and our corporations had Pawlenty not been there. He has been blamed for kicking the can down the road on funding a 5 billion dollar deficit, but the truth is the Minnesota legislature is just slightly on the black side of the legislature in Sacramento California when it comes to spending money they do not have. Per capita our $5 billion deficit is on par with California's $25 billion. Pawlenty vetoed several out of whack budgets passed by the legislature - kicking the can this time was a joint compromise...

Mark Dayton is a former Senator of some repute. His claim to fame in the six years he spent in DC was to be the only politician to close up his office and flee when the terrorist threat level reached ORANGE. He looked a fool when nothing happened and shortly thereafter he announced he would not seek another term. Today he tops the polls for the office of Governor. How can this be?

Dayton's chief rival is Republican Tom Emmer. While I know little of Emmer - I supported the other guy in the primary, he seems a typical conservative who values small but effective state government and wants lower taxes and lower regulation on business expansion and formation. What I have found out since the primary that Emmer is actually the Devil. Satan himself. He eats little babies for breakfast and old people and immigrants for lunch. And how do I know this? Why I heard it on TV commercials funded by PAC's that support Dayton. When you look into the biggest of them, Alliance for a Better Minnesota and WIN Minnesota you find they are funded in large part by Dayton's own family. In case you didn't know this is old family money from the Dayton Hudson Department store chain which is now part of Macy's. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been donated by family. Not illegal, but not forth coming either.

No one except a few right wing bloggers have investigated Dayton's funding. The papers and TV news stations have been silent. But not so for Emmer. When certain prominent local corporations like Target and Best Buy donated to a PAC that has supported Emmer they were taken to the proverbial woodshed by progressives with a cause. Isn't funny that Target which is a spin-off of Dayton Hudson would prefer the other guy? Target was a "target" of a boycott by GLBT activists for daring to indirectly support Emmer. Target apologized and promised not to do it again! You see Emmer's sin is to support the notion that the citizens of Minnesota should be able to vote directly on same-sex marriage issues. What a tyrant!

Much has been made of Emmer's DWI arrests from his younger days but the local media doesn't breath a word about the fact that Dayton is an alcoholic (recovering) having relapsed as late as 2007 and has been institutionalized for mental health problems.

Emmer is not helped by the fact that a third party candidate, Mr. Common Sense Solutions is on ballot again this year. The schizophrenic voters of Minnesota love common sense in theory, but since they have none Tom Horner will likely siphon votes from Emmer because Dayton's supporters don't really like common sense that much (common sense says that over taxing the producers of jobs, ie: the rich, is stupid).

So, if Dayton wins Minnesota's reputation will be intact. We seem to love the fact that we're different up here, or maybe we don't. Maybe we only think we're different. We know that you know that we know we're only different on election day, otherwise we have the same differences as everyone else except for those who say they're different when deep inside they're really the same.


CW

Thursday, October 21, 2010

How Dare You...

Democrats Intentionally Scare the Public Into Believing That Republicans Want to Destroy Social Security

But who has really destroyed Social Security and who actually wants to save it? When I read these bullet points sent to me by a good friend I was stunned. Stunned not because of what the Democrats have actually done, I would put nothing past them, but rather that they are successfully painting Republican plans to rescue SS as stealth destroyers. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has seen even his Republican brethren shy away in the face of the assault by the left on his thoughtful and reasonable plans to save the system.

That you Democrats intentionally lie to cover what you have actually done to Social Security is a travesty. How dare you!

Here are the facts:

Franklin Roosevelt, a Democrat, introduced the Social Security (FICA) Program. He promised:

1.) That participation in the Program would be Completely voluntary, Participation is no longer voluntary.

2.) That the participants would only have to pay 1% of the first $1,400 of their annual Incomes into the Program, Now we pay 7.65% on the first $90,000

3.) That the money the participants elected to put into the Program would be deductible from their income for tax purposes each year, No longer tax deductible

4.) That the money the participants put into the independent 'Trust Fund' rather than into the general operating fund, and therefore, would only be used to fund the Social Security Retirement Program, and no other Government program, and, Under Johnson the money was moved to The General Fund and Spent

5.) That the annuity payments to the retirees would never be taxed as income. Under Clinton & Gore up to 85% of your Social Security can be Taxed. Since many of us have paid into FICA for years and are now receiving a Social Security check every month -- and then finding that we are getting taxed on 85% of the money we paid to the Federal government (which has already been taxed) to 'put away' -- you may be interested in the following:

6.) Q: Which Political Party took Social Security from the independent 'Trust Fund' and put it into the general fund so that Congress could spend it?

A: It was Lyndon Johnson and the democratically controlled House and Senate.

7.) Q: Which Political Party eliminated the income tax deduction for Social Security (FICA) withholding?

A: The Democratic Party.

8.) Q: Which Political Party started taxing Social Security annuities?

A: The Democratic Party, with Al Gore casting the 'tie-breaking' deciding vote as President of the Senate, while he was Vice President of the US

9.) Q: Which Political Party decided to start giving annuity payments to immigrants?

A: That's right! Jimmy Carter and the Democratic Party. Immigrants moved into this country, and at age 65, began to receive Social Security payments! The Democratic Party gave these payments to them, even though they never paid a dime into it!


There you have it - facts that paint the Democrats as the liars they are.


The worst part about it is uninformed citizens believe Republicans are hell bent on destroying what the Democrats have already decimated. Yes, we live in an upside down world.



CW

Monday, October 18, 2010

Some Weather We've Been Having...


We have been enjoying no-less than three weeks of inexplicably superb weather for this time of year. Unusual to say the least for this part of the country. This morning - in the wee hours - a light rain fell, other than that clear blue skies for as far as the eye can see.

I have taken this rare and beautiful opportunity to do some construction work around the house. I am rebuilding my screenhouse/deck. What luck I've had.

I tore it down to the frame and did a little straightening here and there where my lack of patience and skills failed me 23 years ago. Alas, I'm still doing a good share of workarounds since taking it all the way down to the footings was not an option with the inevitability of winter approaching.

I was prepared to cover over my meager progress with poly for the winter and resume in the warmth of spring, but as it happens the Good Lord has seen fit to give me this opportunity to finish. He has also given my a tremendous blessing of a brother who is very, very good with tools and a knack for design. Thanks Tom!

I hope to have pictures when it is all said and done. I hope to be posting again soon - after all there is an election coming, isn't there?


CW

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Random Observations

1. Ethanol pollutes in Minnesota
I heard in passing yesterday while getting ready for work that something like 5 ethanol plants in Minnesota are being cited and fined for violations to the clean air and clean water laws. The irony is almost too much. I don't have anything against ethanol per se (other than the little issue of state government subsidizing rich farmers and corporations) but wasn't ethanol not only supposed to lessen our dependence on foreign oil but also save the Earth? Hmmm.

2. Gay, Gay, Gay
Is it just me or are you also getting sick and tired of gay issues permeating every single aspect of American life. For God's Sake you'd think 50% of the people in this country are gay! It seems every movie and most the TV shows have to have the obligatory adorable gay character who is above reproach. (I'm pretty sure that was in the new contract after the last Hollywood writers strike) These cuddly gay characters are always far wiser and more pure than the hapless heterosexuals they support.

You can't make any statement critical of any aspect of the gay lifestyle, just ask Carl Paladino. After last week I would vote for candidate Paladino for governor of NY if I lived there! It's a new week and the new topic is "bullying". There will be new laws passed because this such a pressing national concern. I'll give you one guess which special interest group is behind this garbage.

3. Isn't it ironic
By the mid term elections of 1982 in the midst of a recession a popular President had signed significant and popular legislation, but still saw his party lose ground. In the 2010 mid terms we seem to be staring at a repeat... But wait!

An unpopular President signs the Affordable Care Act (unpopular and frankly mysterious), the Recovery Act (wildly unpopular and ineffective), Wall Street reform (confusing and not likely to prevent future financial catastrophes), student loan reform (done by decree with no debate whatsoever), new regulation of the credit card industry (20%+ interests rates and rising, helpful, no?), the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (aka thought crimes). Sorry, but these are not popular or even helpful during an anemic, jobless recovery.

I don't see this as an equivalent situation.

4. Foreclose This!
Does the fact that foreclosure paperwork may have errors, typo's or the wrong signature excuse the "homeowner" for not making the payments he or she agreed upon? The bottom line is this: if you don't pay the bank back they get to take the house. A mortgage is a contract signed by both parties. When it is breached the aggrieved party has recourse. This is contract law which is the basis for our civil society and now we have lawmakers threatening banks with punative legislation if they don't act against their own interests. Yes, it's sad that so many people will lose their houses, but the law is the law and reality is reality. Yes shit happens, jobs are lost, but this is not the bank's fault.

If you find yourself unable to make the payments, call the bank and see if you can't work something out. Simply not paying your monthly bill is a violation of the contract YOU signed.

5. Take this climate change and shove it
Harold Lewis, Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, reigns from the American Physical Society after 60+ years. What follows is the key paragraph from his resignation letter to Curtis G. Callan, Jr., Princeton University, President of the American Physical Society:

For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford's book organizes the facts very well.) I don't believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

The problem is that folks like Curtis G. Callan hold the the key to kingdom of grant money that pays the salaries career physicists. The only ones courageous to speak out against this farce are the old men, the ones with nothing to lose. What happens when they are all gone?



CW

Monday, October 04, 2010

Eagle Mountain


We took a few days off during the fall color season and drove up to Lutsen. About 20 miles inland from Lake Superior is Eagle Mountain which is the highest point in Minnesota. As mountains go this does not even rise to level of foothills at only 2,301 feet (or 701 m). It is located in northern Cook County the summit is inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Regardless, for a man my age climbing Eagle Mountain is most definitely mountain climbing.



The following are few photos I took on this spectacular autumn day under perfectly clear blue skies.


We found the animals to be unusually friendly... This little guy above came down the tree until he was nearly sitting on my shoulder. And this little guy below, was checking out my Nikes.






CW

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

If GOP wins in November it's over... (insert blubbering)

In his impassioned critique of the Obama Presidency, Peter Daou concludes that Obama's lack of a moral compass and his resistance to being seen as "weak" he is undermining the progressive cause, leading to a GOP landslide this fall and the inevitability of these key points: (I'll splice in my thoughts in non-italic red type. NOTE: I could easily just type "it's Bush's fault" after each one, you understand, so you can silently add that line after each of his points if you'd like!)

________________________________
Let’s face it, these are dark days for the left. As we barrel toward the November elections and an almost certain triumph for the GOP, we are losing the national debate and making giant strides backward on key issues. It’s the new (un)reality:

1. George W. Bush is steadily and surely being rehabilitated and now the question is how much gratitude we owe him. Wait just a second. Conservatives aren't even buying this. While I refuse to call him BushHitler he ultimately disappointed almost everyone. Oddly not for the reasons you claim, but what difference does it make. All presidents with the exception of Jimmy Carter get rehabilitated.

2. Sarah Palin can move the public discourse with a single tweet, promoting a worldview consisting of unreflective, nationalistic soundbites. Cool, maybe she still believes in constitutional law too.

3. Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Fox are dominating the national conversation, feeding a steady stream of propaganda packaged as moral platitudes to tens of millions of true believers. Let's see, I wonder where ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, NY Times, Washington Post, LA Times, Boston Globe get their propaganda? What is it with progressives, can't they take a little competition in the arena of ideas?

4. In the face of overwhelming evidence, climate deniers are choking the life out of the environmental movement and willfully condemning humanity to a calamitous future. Drama queen! So, your little gambit of Chicken Little - The Sky is Falling! didn't work. Maybe if the greedy pricks weren't so eager to make a buck off carbon credits and grant money by over doing it the natural progress of technical improvements might have satisfactorily saved the planet, it probably still will.

5. From ACORN to Van Jones, liberal scalps are being taken with impunity. But the character assassination of ANY conservative is A-OK, cry me a river.

6. Feminism is being redefined and repossessed by anti-feminists. Feminism is dead. It was a terrible lie to tell women that they don't need men. Nothing hurt women more than this failed anti-men agenda. So horrible that women "might" choose to be stay at home Moms and home school their kids.

7. Women are facing an all-out assault on choice. Cutting off Federal Funding for killing babies is not repealing Roe V Wade. Does any opposition (GOP) politician campaign on overturning a woman's right to choose? I didn't think so...

7.5 Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy is being co-opted by a radio jock. Not worthy of a comment or an integer of its own.

8. Schoolbooks are being rewritten to reflect the radical right’s anti-science views. See your point # 4 and let's talk about anti-science. History books that spend far more pages on Islam than on Christianity and Jewry put together are not history books they are propaganda. Also, questioning Darwin's theories is permitted, that there is a creator is absolutely possible since it can't be disproven scientifically.

9. The rich-poor divide grows by the minute and teachers and nurses struggle to get by while bankers get massive bonuses. The rich get richer while the poor get poorer is a canard. Plus it is not unique to America, it is unique to humanity.

10. We mark the end of a war based on lies with congratulations to all, and we escalate another war with scarce resources that could save countless lives. Start with point #15 and ask the women of Iraq if they are better off? You talk of a moral compass and yet it was OK to allow a mad man with aspirations of regional and nuclear domination, and actions that led everyone to believe (not just George W. Bush) that he had WMD's to continue to scoff at international law and countless UN sanctions. Maybe the war was a bad idea, we won't really know for a decade or more.

11. An oil spill that should have been a historic inflection point gets excised from public awareness by our own government and disappears down the memory hole (until the next disaster). We need oil, simple as that. It's a reality, live with it. If the "progressives/environmentalists" would work with energy producers in a manner that accepts this reality then we could have our energy, safety and a clean world. But it's all or nothing for you. Nothing actually.

12. Guns abound and the far right’s interpretation of the second amendment (the only one that seems to matter) is now inviolate. I'm still waiting for the wild, wild west and all the other carnage that was supposed to take place by now with all these unrestrained NRA guys running around. The truth is cities like Chicago and Washington DC where guns were banned have been the gun murder capitols of America. But the evidence (from all over the world) doesn't matter to you, crime increases when guns are taken from law abiding citizens.

13. Bigotry and discrimination against immigrants, against Muslims, against gays and lesbians is mainstream and rampant. No, bigotry against Sarah Palin and her family is rampant. Bigotry against business and success is rampant. Bigotry against Christianity is rampant. Indeed, America has been remarkably tolerant of Muslims, insanely tolerant of ILLEGAL immigrants and you can't watch a TV show or see a movie without and adorable gay character who is beyond reproach.

14. The frightening unconstitutional excesses of the Bush administration have been enshrined and reinforced by a Democratic White House, ensuring that they will become precedent and practice. Whether you believe that war related torture, or war related wire tapping is unconstitutional or not President Obama has shredded the constitution and no one batted an eye. With the stroke of the pen he literally stole a private company, robbed its share holders and gave it to the union, blithely throwing out centuries of contract law. All this while completely ignoring a hundred years of bankruptcy law. He nationalized School Loans without any debate whatsoever and has handed over entire slices of our culture to unelected, unconfirmed czars. If anyone has been stomping on the constitution it is Obama.

15. Girls and women across the planet continue to get beaten, raped, ravaged, mutilated, and murdered while sports games induce a more passionate response. Oh for God's sake! I'm sorry, but this can not be blamed on the United States of America, Barack Obama, or dare I say George W. Bush. Just where are the feminists on this issue? Huh? Why they are too busy bashing Sarah Palin because she's Pro-Life and proud to be a mother of 5.
____________________________

Why do progressives always have to diminish the people they disagree with by throwing out simple one liners backed up with no real argument? As you can see, two can play that game. For example Just saying: Feminism is being redefined and repossessed by anti-feminists doesn't a argument make. Maybe after so many painfully obvious years that the promise of feminism was a lie to begin with, maybe women are rejecting it. Maybe it is dead. Maybe the progressive movement is dead...



CW

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Let's Talk about Talk Radio


I have been listening to Talk Radio for more than 25 years. Being a right of center guy it's not much of a stretch considering that talk radio has been the one avenue for us right wingers that is not completely dominated and controlled by "progressive" thought.

It wasn't until conservative talk radio came along that I realized that I didn't really believe all the happy talk and propaganda coming out of the media and liberal legislatures. My eyes and my experiences conveyed a disconnect from what I was told was the truth of things.

At first it was like a foreign language, so odd, so controversial, so blasphemous. Soon I was talking back to the radio. "You can't say that!" I yelled. Yet, as I watched mainstream news and read the paper (before the Internet) I started to hear the lies we all used to accept as truth. I felt like I was in on something. It was interesting and even fun. I was hooked.

At the time mainstream media didn't understand talk radio. It was a niche format on AM radio that represented nothing but a fly buzzing about their head. Since the MSM never felt threatened by the so-called wing-nuts, talk radio grew into a sort of underground juggernaut. It wasn't until 1994 when the Republicans took both houses of Congress did talk radio get the attention of the major media and by then it was already a force to be reckoned with.

It was Rush Limbaugh who put conservative talk radio on the map and to whom is owed a debt of gratitude for everyone who has prospered in the forum ever since. In 1994 he was called the "majority maker" and the Republicans in Congress were not shy in crediting Mr. Limbaugh for his incalculable help during the historic 1994 campaign. Most everyone by now has heard of him and either loves him or hates him, he leaves very little middle ground.

When the media recognized that Rush and talk radio were here to stay - and had some very real influence on middle America - for those in the newsroom and in the ivory towers it became necessary to label it and treat it derisively. Hate radio became the buzz word for Limbaugh and talk radio. For the people who only got their news from the truth scrubbed mainstream media hate radio was a reality and it could be easily dismissed with a bumper sticker that said "Mean People Suck". Meanwhile the forum grew and grew and there soon was a talk host for everyone, in all walks of life. Even the liberals tried their hand at it... Remember Air America?

The funny thing is, while I find liberal talk radio unlistenable, (there's only so many hours of "I hate this country" that Americans can listen to) I've fear that conservative radio has become a broken record. No matter how much you like the chorus a skipping record that keeps repeating the same line over and over can drive you nuts!

I've taken to listening to NPR and its Minnesota counterpart MPR. Don't get me wrong, I'm not turning over to the dark-side, it's just that I can't take the skipping record anymore. I admit NPR could also known as National Palestinian Radio for all the sobs stories they do on the plight of terrorist supporting Palestinians. (that's when we push a button for a different station). However, what I like is the calm and soothing delivery and the segments that last for more than 3 minutes before more ear splitting, mind-numbing commercials. So few conservative radio hosts take the high ground and use easy, reasonable conversational tones that when I hear NPR coming over the car speakers it's like a treat for the senses and sensibilities. While they pretend to be balanced and fair to all points of view NPR (and MPR) let their true colors shine through more often than not. It is the one thing I absolutely appreciate about right wing radio is the willingness to be honest about their non-objectivity.

There is not any single personality on NPR or MPR that I could even direct you to, and maybe that too is part of the charm. It's just strange that I find myself punching up NPR more and more just to hear calmness and reasonable tones of voice. Only Bill Bennett's Morning in America and The Dennis Prager Show deliver a sense of reasonableness on the conservative dial.

Being at one time a "professional" musician a lot of people find it hard to grasp how I would even listen to talk radio. Yes, I love music, but music stimulates the emotional part of my brain, talk radio stimulates the rest.

Here's a host by host one line critique of the radio shows I listen to off and on...

  1. Rush Limbaugh - feels like a comfortable shoe by now, but I rarely if ever listen to him anymore
  2. Glenn Beck - he's effing crazy, but oddly appealing, small doses only
  3. Mike Gallagher - a blow hard with a heart of gold, he can make you turn off the radio altogether
  4. Bill Bennett - A soothing, reasonable change of pace, almost always interesting, almost...
  5. Sean Hannity - can't stand him, won't listen
  6. Mark Levin - super smart, super energy, super strident
  7. Hugh Hewitt - a Republican cheerleader that has very interesting guests, quite easy to listen to
  8. Michael Medved - super smart, perhaps the most intelligent person on the radio who says some of the dumbest things
  9. Michael Savage - he's effing crazy, on the other end of the spectrum from Beck, oddly unappealing
  10. Dennis Prager - my favorite, can't say enough about how much I admire his wisdom
  11. Bill O'Rielly - unlistenable, is it possible to be too opinionated?
  12. Dennis Miller - Fun, funny, irreverent and oddly insightful
  13. Bill Cunningham - over the top conservative, the only good liberal is a discredited liberal
  14. Jason Lewis - a reasonable, intelligent conservative who epitomizes the broken record

I'm sure there are hosts I'm forgetting about that I have listened to - the point is they are all singing the same tune, a tune I like, but for God's sake, change it up a bit once in a while!



CW

Pretzel Logic, Pelosi Logic


I heard Speaker Pelosi on Public Radio the other day and was so bewildered by her logic that I just had to share.

Start with the fact that the tax cuts being discussed are already in place and that the discussion is all about extending them as is, no one is actually getting their taxes cut by one red cent. In other words if they do get extended our paychecks will look no different tomorrow than they do today. OK.

So Pelosi says if the tax cut for "the rich" is extended it will add seven-hundred-and-eighty-billion-dollars to the deficit.

The commentator deftly points out that if the tax cut for the middle class is extended it would remove 4 trillion dollars from the Federal revenue stream over the same period of time.

Nancy says: but there's a difference, that money would be spent, turned back into the economy and create jobs.

Commentator: Ok, but wouldn't the 780 billion be turned back into the economy as well, and create jobs?

Nancy: Well, as we can see by the state of the economy today and how the record surpluses became record deficits during the previous eight years that it hasn't worked.

I feel like I just listened to a Yogi Berra skit. So which part of it hasn't worked Nancy? Is it the 780 billion or the 4 trillion? It's not as if the middle class will suddenly have an additional 4 trillion to spend, they will have exactly what they have today and what they have today has produced no real economic growth and 9.6% unemployment.

Folks, this is logic running this country. God help us all.



CW

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Better Browsers, Better Internet


HTML5 is here. We are all familiar with the ubiquitous http:// in our browser's address bar when we go to our favorite websites. (stands for Hyper Text Transport Protocol) The other end of the string is often concluded with .html, we've all seen it whether we knew what it was or not. In basic terms Hyper Text Markup Language is the way the browser crafts the presentation of the web page. It was the basis for the advent of the World Wide Web. Since the mid 90's and birth of the Internet as we know it, more and more advanced features and capabilities have been developed to provide Rich Internet Applications or RIA.

Today, RIA uses Adobe Flash, JavaFX, and Microsoft Silverlight & AJAX. With so many developers and technologies trying to achieve the same purpose by different approaches it causes major headaches for everyone in the Web 2.0 world. There is a need for standardization which needs to be embedded into all browsers. Ultimately the current RIA plugins have been a boon for the Internet experience but they are also quite often a pain in the ass for the end user as well. So, along comes HTML5.

The real purpose of the new HTML5 standard is to make things more generic and better for the internet world. The problem is the world's most popular browser, Internet Explorer still doesn't support it. Firefox and Chrome (and I'll assume Safari) have supported it since 2008. Internet Explorer version 9 will support it - someday, a good thing. Yet even when IE9 adopts HTML5 millions upon millions of computers will still be using the old versions of IE for years.

Web page developers will be forced to deal with this reality for the foreseeable future. It has been estimated that 16-25% of computers are still using IE6 years and years after new browsers have been available. Why?

The problem is that people don't care. Many people simply don't know what a browser is. They know what a computer is, they may even understand what a hard drive is, but most people just click a certain button and get to the Internet. Most people don't realize that they have a choice in browsers. If it came with Windows and it works what's the problem? Even if they understand they have a choice actually installing software is a daunting thing for a lot of people.

How important is this in the over all scheme of things? For one more and more functionality of the computer is moving toward the browser. Anyone in the IT support business can tell you that almost all of the tools are browser based. It makes a lot of sense but it makes the browser more and more important. Most of these tools are written for IE and therefore changing browsers or supporting multiple browsers in a large enterprise is a huge task.

So home users are hampered by the challenge of installing something they don't understand and the corporate/institution is hampered by the scope of it. HTML5 promises to make the Internet an easier and richer experience, but it will take a while to get there I'm afraid.

P.S. After I pushed publish on this post (written using Firefox 3.6.8) I opened up IE on this old laptop. Wouldn't you know it - version 6. I had to laugh at myself. In this case it was inattentiveness or plain laziness. Honestly I predominantly use Firefox but I still use IE whenever I remotely connect to work. I am heading off to Microsoft to download IE 8 right now...

CW