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DirkGently

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Orlando
Home country: USA
Current location: Holistically detecting
Member since: Wed Jan 27, 2010, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 9,765

Journal Archives

I just don't understand American car companies' approach to our market.

I am a compact car person. Medium-zippy four-banger hatchbacks, mostly. Economical to operate, fun; still carry the mulch back from the hardware store. And now I like diesels because of the great mileage and good useable performance.

We refuse to do any of that well. Ford, for example, for years made fleets of absolutely cool, powerful, Focuses (Focci?) for the European market, the last of which was an absolute stunner: http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Focus_RS500

But not here. The new Focus, now the same everywhere, is nowhere near as cool. There's a high-power variant, but it's bigger, uglier, louder, and simply less refined. Four doors only. Outrageous color schemes. PlaySkool interior bits. They're making a diesel variant soon, which should get 20% better fuel economy, but have already announced they will never sell it here.

Why?

I get that the American demographic "demands" certain kinds of cars. But I know, for example, that the VW Sportwagen diesels are often the subject of long wait-lists in California. Here, diesels disappear quickly off the lots, account for most of those Sportwagen sales, and hold their value better than other cars.

It's almost like American manufacturers believe the American purchasing public is too crude or too stupid or too ignorant to appreciate small cars, hatchbacks, diesels, or anything else that's understated, smart, or practical for anything other than towing large boats or taking six kids to soccer practice.

Even when dragged into begrudgingly making a hybrid, the adverstising drips with contempt and self-loathing. The Volt -- which now has a large, rabidly enthusiastic following -- was advertised with lingo suggesting it was hard to believe it could be enjoyable, or even a real car. The Caddy ad with the actor playing a rich schmuck was apparently to show that hybrids might be okay if rich schmucks who laugh at Europeans with their "vacations" like them.

Stupid.

It seems like our own manufacturers think we are stupid. But then the import brands come along and stomp them in everything but big trucks and it's supposed to be a mystery?

We can do better.



Oh dear. You understand what an "anecdote" is, right?

No amount of individual "stories" proves a generalization about groups of individuals. True of people. True of dogs.

You're the Australian Shepherd fancier, aren't you? Good to see you.

But as we've discussed, that excellent breed has its own deadly anecdotes, too.

Your logic is a perfect example of the confirmation bias illogic at work here. It's quite the same as racist logic. Interpret actions of members of your own group as the misdoings of an individual. Attribute acts of another group to inherent problems with all of "them."

Right?

A 3 year old Worth County is recovering Sunday from a dog attack. The little girl was playing at her neighbors house when an Australian Shepherd, a typically friendly dog, mauled her face.

"He bit me," says Summer Gray, Dog Attack Victim. 3 year old Summer Gray is recovering from a dog attack. "He has sharp teeth," says Summer Gray.

She was playing at a neighbors house Saturday afternoon in Sylvester when an Australian Shepherd mauled her.

http://www.walb.com/story/16679796/dog-attacks-3-yr-old-girl

BRADENTON, Fla. - Two Australian Shepherd dogs are the Grinches who managed to ruin the Christmas holiday for Justin Curtis and his family.

The dogs left him with stitches and on crutches after attacking him on Christmas Eve as he tried to give the mailman a letter his father forget to send out.

http://www.abcactionnews.com/news/region-sarasota-manatee/bradenton/deputies-man-steps-in-to-help-13-year-old-boy-being-attacked-by-dogs-both-bitten

Anyone can play games with anecdotes. It's the bias with which they are intepreted that matters.

Do you actually imagine you couldn't find the same kinds of stories with all kinds of breeds? The two Aussie Shepherd stories took about 20 seconds to find.


The Facts

According to the American Veterinary Medicine Association, “controlled studies have not identified this breed group as disproportionately dangerous.” The American Temperance Testing Society (ATTS) puts thousands of dogs – purebreds and spayed and neutered mixed-breeds – through their paces each year. The dogs are tested for skittishness, aggression and their ability to differentiate between threatening and non-threatening humans. Among all of the breeds ATTS tested – over 30,000 dogs through May 2011 — 83 percent passed the test. How did pit bulls do? They showed an above average temperament, with 86 percent making the grade. Pit bulls are the second most tolerant breed tested by ATTS, after only golden retreivers.

http://www.salon.com/2013/02/05/in_defense_of_the_pitbull_partner/

A fistful of anecdotes does not add up to the kind of anti-breed paranoia argued for now. Plenty of other dogs have been subjected to the Super Murder Dog myth.

As Karen Delise details in her book, in the 19th century, bloodhounds were believed to be inherently vicious, having a taste for human blood. “Eventually,” she writes, “these bloodhounds fell from view, and we pushed other dogs into the spotlight, including the German Shepherd dog and the Doberman Pinscher.” (Dobermans were widely believed to have abnormally small brains, turning them into mindless killers, but this, like the pit bull’s “locking jaws,” was simply a myth.) Other breeds that have haunted the popular imagination in the past include mastiffs and Newfoundlands. In Canada, Siberian huskies have often played the role of killer-hound


So it remains the case that making "Pitbulls" as the Super Killer Murder Dog is a new thing, born of the same biases and mythology that made bloodhounds and Shepherds and Dobies and so many others the canine bogeymen (bogeydogs?) of the past.

Thanks for implying people who don't fall for this silly anti-dog bigoted mythology nonsense "nutters," by the way. I assume you are including the CDC and the American Veterinary Medicine Association in this thoughtful observation.

Although, I think a better case for defective reasoning or mental imbalance could be shown where someone who owns one kind of dog resolutely discounts anecdotes of that breed's "dangerous" behavior as irrelevant, while trying to make a case that similar anecdotes about another breed prove its inherent inferiority?

Not thoughts. Deeds.

The entire notion that "religious" thought permits someone to hurt someone else is specious nonsense.

All that is going on here is that people with extremely conservative social tastes would like to discriminate, punish, or control other people, based on their gender or sexual orientation or their private conduct.

It is legal and permissible that they want to do that. At least, they are free to want to do those things. They are free to talk about why they think we should do those things.

They are not free to do them, consequence free, because they really really think it's okay.

You do not get to hurt people because you disapprove of them, or dislike their "kind" or their sex lives. If try to, you are being a bad person.

And not the slightest additional ethical weight should be given based on the claim that these hyper-conservative social tastes are claimed to be derived from a religious text. Saying that you think your god agrees with you is infintely arguable even to people who believe in the same god, and utterly meaningless to those who don't believe.

My god says to tell you your god is stupid.

Not helpful.

Bad acts are actually bad. Refusing to comply with a federal healthcare mandate on the basis that you would prefer to limit women's reproductive health choices because you have ideas about how they should be conducting themselves sexually is bad. Saying you think your personal deity agrees with you is nonsense.

When you do bad things, you are a bad person in doing that. Want to be a good person? Don't claim the right to hurt people because of your selfish, ignorant, malfunctioning hateful reasoning.



You would think all men would love women.

Many do. Not in some misty poetry way. Not because of (for the straight) sex. Just for them. For the similarities and the differences. For mothers and sisters and daughters. For everything.

Somehow we have fed a perversion in our culture -- in so many cultures -- that has turned what should be mens' unique perspective on all the things that are wonderful about women into something ugly. Into contempt. Possessiveness. Fear?

Neither of us at my house have been able to watch the "news" commentary shows since this latest. It just hurts. There is too much rage to express. All the dry discussion about this bad-faith religious posturing that somehow never struck anyone until the ACA passed. This exciting new rightwing strategy of claiming religious freedom to punish and denigrate people. This smirking new Supreme Court slowly pushing an ideology of money and corporate personhood over human beings. Gee, is this insane ruling "broad" or "narrow?" Is it just this one area in which hateful idiots get to practice their stupidity on the rest of us? Maybe that's okay then.

I have a religion too. It says you can think whatever made up nonsense you want, right up until it requires mistreating someone. At which point you need to keep it to yourself.

I notice every time one of these new waves of attacks on women hits, we hear about how "all of the women" will be angry, upset, disappointed. "All of the women" want equal treatment, physical safety, reproductive rights; their medical needs met. Watch out, for the women.

They are half right, but they missing part of the picture. Men -- those not consumed with this perverse contempt -- love and value women too. We are also disappointed; upset.

Angry.

Better watch out for them, too.

If the Las Vegas killers were liberals, they'd be called terrorists.


They explicitly sought to deliver a political message. Deranged, of course, but still clearly swimming in the familiar soup of paranoid, gun-crazy, rightwing hatred peddled specifically by the likes of Alex Jones, Glenn Beck, and Sovereign Citizens' movements, AND the Tea Party. The wanted to "die for liberty."

They delivered the Tea Party's favored FLAG for Pete's sake.

And that has barely been addressed outside of political blogs. No one wants to point at the Tea Party flag and the NRA stance on guns and Beck and Jones' claims about the "tyranny" of the government and admit the obvious connection.

Had an Occupy kid or an anarchist delivered a lefty manifesto and left some progressive symbol on the bodies of his murder victims, all we'd ever hear, FOREVER, would be how liberal groups are "just as dangerous." That's all it would take.

But instead, here comes Alex Jones to claim it was yet another "false flag" operation fiendishly designed to make rightwing gun fanatics paranoid about government look like ... rightwing gun fanatics paranoid about the government. It's okay because no one listens to him ... except for the huge numbers of people who apparently listen to him.

It would all be funny if the violence wasn't real. We could laugh at the gullible loons loading their guns in fear of FEMA deathcamps and Obamacare deathpanels and Mooslams and whatever else is in the wingut stew this week.

But it is real. It just doesn't count, apparently, because conservatism is the default American cultural position and isn't considered scary and offensive like long-haired kids with protest signs, or, you know, taxes.

No. It's irrational to reduce violence to statistics.

We don't lump every societal ill into one bucket. Many people die in car crashes, but we need cars, and therefore accept that risk. Or, to counter the latest pro-gun propaganda, we need doctors, and therefore accept that some of them will make lethal mistakes.

To reduce the problem with gun violence or mass murder to the "likelihood" of it happening to one particular person is a specious variety of "pragmatism" accepted by virtually no one, because we make qualitative distinctions in our civilization. The same logic would say that any social ill is irrelevant, compared to natural causes.

Why worry about murder at all, when cars and heart disease are vastly more "likely" to hurt people?

Because we have zero need for heavily armed paranoid people shooting up our neighborhoods, schools, and shopping malls.

Because we have no use for stupid men with rifles meandering around fast food restaurants.

Because we do not accept the risk that people will absorb so much rightwing propaganda that they will actually murder a pair of cops eating pizza "for freedom."

Because we have zero need for mass murder, and it does harm beyond the immediate list of casualties.

There is no tradeoff for these things. They are the selfish and stupid results of the worst of human impulses.

And of course, none of this is just a question of the "number" of deaths. It is the atmosphere of rage and senseless violence, and the poisonous, rationality-killing rhetoric that goes into supporting it.

You don't end up with a horrible culture because you have a lot of cars, and a corresponding number of auto accidents. You get a horrible culture when people do horrible things.

Every risk is not the same. Every death is not the same. Life and culture and society are not a set of numbers.

We know better than this.

We embrace anti-intellectualism more than other

developed countries. Check the statistics on how many people in other developed countries doubt evolution or climate change. We're way up there. Or down there, as the case may be.

Edit: Here's one. In 2006, we were second to worst in terms of doubting evolution. Just above Turkey.

http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2006/08/14/science/sciencespecial2/20050815_EVO_GRAPHIC.html

I bet we haven't improved since then.

Other countries have hateful rhetoric, racism; religious bigotry. General ignorance and tribalism are pretty universal.

But I don't see people in France or Denmark gaining nationwide constituencies based on the idea that scientists are lying to us about the age of the Earth or evolution.

It's a useful political tool -- holding the idea of hewing to completely irrational beliefs as a right. I think we're seeing it more and more because the things American conservatives want are harder and harder to justify.

If you can just throw out the entire notion of reason, you can justify anything you want. Like murdering cops in a pizza joint because government itself is some kind of evil conspiracy. It's not that big a leap from claiming tax cuts for the rich "pay for themselves" or that healthcare reform is a conspiracy to "kill Grandma."

Others do irrational, sure. But we're better at it than most.

Have you noticed how sparse are the mentions of the Gadsden Flag?

When it started it cropping up, here and there, yesterday, I noticed the headlines for (politically opinionated) blogs and so forth put that fact up front. Networks not only kept it out of the headlines, but barely mentioned it all.

I'm not much for bashing the reliability of "main stream media" in general -- blogs and so forth can be even worse -- but the fact that a the signature symbol for a public, vocal, U.S. political faction was invoked by terroristic spree killers targeting cops seems worth mentioning to me.

Can you imagine if they'd left an anarchy symbol or a peace sign or a rainbow flag on the bodies of their victims?

At what point does the automatic conservative entitlement to the benefit of the doubt fail? When do we get to talk about the problem with their entire point of view, not with a few "lone nuts?"

Not when they talk about "Second Amendment remedies, or when they bring guns to rallies, apparently. Not when they aim rifles at federal officials. Not when they claim the right to waltz into the Gas 'n Sip with rifles and laugh at anyone who feels "uncomfortable with that."

And now, not when they drape their f'ing FLAG over people murdered in cold blood?



How long, I wonder

... before groups of people concerned about the intentions of open-carriers take up their own weapons and shadow them as they go about their Taco-purchasing and mother-mocking activities?

If all of this is Constitutionally protected, we should arrive shortly at competing groups of heavily armed "good guys" stalking each other around shopping malls and fast food joints.

Which would suit the NRA / gun manufacturing lobby perfectly. Eventually everyone will be hauling their military-style weapons and body armor with them everywhere, on constant alert for whichever of their fellow Armed Citizens might have ill intent.

Sales will be spectacular.

Should go well.

The NSA is supposed to serve "national security."

It's right there in the name. The NSA does not have a mandate to just generally spy on the entire world.

So,

1) The OP is wrong about routers not being made in the U.S.

When Greenwald revealed Snowden's alleged evidence of NSA spying, it turned the tables on the U.S., with network buyers in some countries avoiding U.S.-made gear. Cisco Systems, the world's biggest seller of networks, has said worries about the NSA affected its business in China.


2) The OP is wrong that Greenwald's report is nutty conspiracy theory. The actual nutty conspiracy theory here is that his reporting is some fiendish libertarian attack on President Obama.

3) The NSA was caught in a large public hypocrisy after warning Americans about Chinese made routers being compromised, while simultaneously engaging in that exact activity itself.

And of course, we already know that more than routers have been tapped. NSA reports indicate it tapped directly into Google's network.

The new charge vastly expands the scope of alleged NSA spying beyond the interception of traffic across the Internet, said Ranga Krishnan, a technology fellow at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. As an example, he pointed to reports from the Snowden documents that the NSA had tapped into Google's own fiber network among its data centers, where the company hadn't encrypted the traffic at all.

"That's how most organizations function," Krishnan said. "So once you're within the company's router, you have access to all that data that's unencrypted."


Moreover, compromising random systems all over the world impacts security generally everywhere.

"That's how most organizations function," Krishnan said. "So once you're within the company's router, you have access to all that data that's unencrypted."

In addition, any security hole that a government installs could open up the network to attacks by others, he added.


We're well beyond anyone credibly claiming there's nothing to see here, or that the NSA scandal is some kind of marginal conspiracy theory or partisan hyperventilating.

On the contrary, the continued attempts by a few to dismiss very important revelations about the way our National Security Agency is conducting itself is partisan hackery of the most absurd kind. No serious person, Democrat or not, is buying the idea that everything is fine and Greenwald, the Guardian, the NY Times, et al. are all in engaged in a massive libertarian conspiracy to attack the Obama administration.
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