Pollish Jokes

Okay, so the polls were all laughably wrong about the election and even if Biden/Harris eke out a win (legitimate or not) the question remains how could they be so wrong?

I think there are two parts and second depends on the first.

A new theory of mine (not so new and surely not mine) is about the old saying ‘a fish rots from the head’. The story of the US over the last 20-30 years has been one of cascading institutional failure. The head is a stinking pile of putrid mess…. and the rest is not looking any fresher.

The rot has now reached the dorsal fin…

First, comes elite failure (where the most powerful move away from symbiotic relationship to the rest of us to being purely parasitic). This began in the early 1980s and was probably cemented in place in the years 2000-2004. Most people stop here.

My idea is that collective elite failure will be immediately followed by collective failure down the line.

Destination: Failure

For the lack of a better term I’m going to call this Professional Failure and is the process whereby previously skilled professions are hollowed out of substance and either turned into money farms by the parasitic elite or invaded by grifters who want in on the parasitism and whore themselves out to the elite.

Elite and professional failure in one handy picture.

In the US this can be seen in:

Medicine: both the healthcare sector and the pharmaceutical industry are now simply criminal money grab operations. The fact that some people get some healthcare along the way is immaterial to that fact (organized crime groups also have sometimes provided services).

Academia: Universities have transformed from vehicles for helping young adults become contributing, productive members of the economy into an arm of Woke Enforcement. Student loans have become a financial trap miring many graduates in insupportable debt. Hiring faculty (real faculty with benefits) is down and hiring of management and diversity grifters is up. The fact that some faculty does some worthwhile research and teaching is immaterial to the overall landscape of institutional collapse.

Journalism: As someone who had parents in journalism and some experience myself most of what passes for journalism in the New York Times would not meet the standards of a small town weekly thirty years ago. Journalism has become a holding pen for the failspawn of elites or corporatized out of existence.

Given this context, what on earth would make anyone think the polling industry wouldn’t collapse (in terms of quality) as well? Rather than trying to measure public opinion with greater accuracy I suspect it’s become a weapon in the grifter armory – whoring out results to whoever pays.

The second part of this comes from Nudge theory where polling results are intended to help shape opinion rather than monitor it.

I think part of the Biden Landslide narrative was the polling equivalent of Trash Talk in sports, trying to psyche out the opposition. “Biden is sure to win, you MAGA choads, why bother even voting?” Alternately it’s meant to make the opposition second guess itself. “Hey let’s spend massive resources to neglect our base and chase after the votes of people who would rather die than give them to us”

It’s only going to get worse as sector after sector of the economy is drained of talent and mission and repurposed to serve the bloodsuckers at the top.

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The Polish Abortion protests in a Nutshell

I have the idea that some might want to know what’s going on with the abortion thing in Poland.

Quick and dirty rundown

Abortion was legal in the communist period but not common for a number of reasons, some of which were religious. The thing is, though, contrary to old stereotypes most Polish people aren’t very religious. In communist times support of the Roman Catholic church was as political as it was religious and after 1989 people wanted to church to go back to being a church and not a major political player. But the church (which had been an important source of resistance against the communist government) tried to flex its muscles and overplayed its hand (which began a gradual but very real decline in support of the church that is not slowing).

One of the things it accomplished was mostly outlaw abortion except in certain conditions in 1993 and later healthcare workers were given the option of not participating in abortions. Over the years, although no one liked the situation almost everyone had learned to live with it although that involved a lot of… not paying close attention. There were clinics (real clinics) that unofficially offered abortions and the border with the Czech Republic was open and no one asked questions.

Activist judges – Polish conservative style

A small group of people however kept the issue in the news and in parliament through a series of citizen initiatives which had enough support to make parliament look at the issue but not nearly enough support to justify parliament actually doing anything.

And then came the activist judges. Some who wanted a total ban on abortion at some point looked at the US where laws without enough popular support to prevail at the polls are turned into law by the judicial branch.

“We could do that too!!!” they said (that is not an actual quote).

The ruling government had been packing the Polish supreme court (known as the Constitutional Tribunal) with compliant judges who would not challenge them (nb Poland has a Civil Law system which is pretty different from the Common Law tradition of most English speaking countries so it’s not exactly the same thing but… close enough).

So recently the Constitutional Tribunal looked at the sections of abortion law allowing abortion in the case of unviable fetuses and declared that it was in violation of the constitution. The Polish constitution is another whole bucket of worms but that’s not for today. The main thing to realize is that Polish legal language tends to be imprecise and ambiguous (this is a cultural feature and not due to the language itself) so it’s probably possible to read almost anything into a document that’s long enough (and the Polish constitution is over 60 pages long).

One misstep too many

That’s when the shit hit the fan. The PiS government had been making a series of missteps from proposed animal rights legislation that alienated the countryside to declaring that covid was overcome (just before the second wave began for real) and the government had been wasting time in an internal power struggle. This was one straw too much and completely alienated almost all younger voters and most highly educated voters.

Protests began and have been going on every day since. While some covid restrictions have been introduced the protestors are not paying attention. One surprising aspect is that in some places there have also been protests in the countryside.

“Jarek! The only pussy that you can make decisions for is named Andrzej.”

(Jarek – Jarosław Kaczyński, president of PiS, Andrzej – the president of Poland known for doing anything Kaczyński tells him to.

The protests have been almost entirely peaceful despite a few rhetorical…. excesses (see picture above). The president of the governing PiS party made a video that was painfully out of tune with society defending the tribunal decision and calling on party members to ‘defend’ churches and Poland.

And so it goes…

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The Worst Case Scenario…. No, that sounds too optimistic…

I see that it’s Nobel season and looking at twitter here and there I suddenly had the worst. though. ever. I really hope I’m wrong. I really, really, really, really, REALLY hope I’m wrong.

I have the horrible feeling that the Nobel Peace Prize this year will go to……

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The Sunk Cost Virus

I finally figured out what government and WHO policy regarding coronavirus reminds me of – a 419 letter advance-fee scam (those emails from third world customs officials wanting your help in sneaking money out of the country).

“We work for the Blogostania customs office and through vigorous enforcement of regulations we have collected $ 20,000,000 (twenty-million!) US dollars in excess of our quotas. We would like to move this money out of the country and require your help, for which we will pay you 10% or two million US dollars!”

If a sucker takes the bait the next step is to set the hook.

“We need you to set up a bank account and give us access to it.”

Then a month or two later “You’ll have to deposit $2000 and let us take it out so that we know we can use it.” There will be convincing arguments about why they can’t just deposit money themselves.

Then a month or two later “An official has learned of our plan but promises not to turn us in provided that we make a one time payment to him of $5000.”

Then a month or two later “New banking regulations have come into force since you opened the account they require a one time payment of $3,500 for using an international account.”

Then a month or two later “There’s a new reason you need to send us money.” Needless to say the mark never gets the money the endless series of petty requests are the payoff for the scammer.

One of the hooks of this type of scam is the sunk cost fallacy, the mark might be getting suspicious but says to themselves “I’ve spent this much money, what’s two thousand more? It’ll all be worth it once i get that two million dollars!”

With coronavirus the bait was “A horrible killer virus is coming and the streets will be littered with corpses!” and of course people were concerned about this. Then they set the hook with “Agree to a lockdown of a couple of months and the economic burdens that that entails and you’ll gain the benefit of defeating the virus”.

The next stage is confusion with conflicting messages about masks and the possibility of a vaccine (any day now! or maybe never!) so that the public can never really relax.

We’re now in the stage where each new concession just buys a week or month of reprieve before a new scare is trotted out “Second wave!” “Reproduction level!” “Long term affects!” so that we keep giving up more and more. “We’ve gone this far and given up this much, what’s a few weeks/months/years more? It’ll all be worth it once we’ve defeated the virus.”

Guess what? You can’t defeat a virus. The only real purpose of a lockdown is to give the medical establishment a chance to get prepared for the worst – which never really happened outside a handful of cities. Once you let up on the lockdown the virus will predictably continue to spread until it burns itself out. More lockdowns now just mean more lockdowns in the future.

By all means individuals should practice due caution (especially if they belong to a high risk group or have contact with members of high risk groups) but the idea that a virus can be eliminated through lockdowns is magic thinking and/or hubris. It’s not gonna happen.

It’s time to come to terms with what has been lost already and move on before we lose even more.

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Corona prediction

The actual hospitalization and fatality rates for coronavirus have been pretty unimpressive lately, so the media keeps hyping the number of new cases (while failing to mention that hospitalization and fatality rates aren’t increasing at a similar rate).

Now this case is being used to convince people to be afraid. I have no idea what this young man died of. But if they can retroactively attribute his unfortunate death to coronavirus they will, which leads to my prediction: In order to keep the numbers up, anyone who had been tested for coronavirus and dies will be listed as a coronavirus victim but this change in counting won’t be made public, just the raw numbers.

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Round Robin

Okay my reactions to this woman are so viscerally unpleasant it took me a loooong time to get around to doing this, and it might shorter than I’d intended but let’s get started.

Getting a Baseline

For body language I wanted some kind of baseline, to see what normal for her is. Normally you’d want everyday informal interactions but since she does public speaking for a living a few different public speeches would be enough. I was a little surprised at how….flighty and fluttery she seems. I don’t know the source but my first thought was that she was a traditional White Southern Lady since there was a lot hand waves and bits where she leans back with her head a bit forward and pursed lips. There’s also some Italianish hand gestures (which she might come by naturally). Most annoying is a tendency to use the OK handshape to punctuate sentences moving it around (a way of leading those listening to her, think of a conductor holding a baton).

The Hair Story

The part I chose to look at a bit more closely is from this video. Starting at about 04:33. This is a go to story for her that she’s obvious told many, many times which means that it’s a good deal less spontaneous than the relation of a new event would be But that doesn’t matter since this is a teaching story (stories are among the most effective ways of teaching people things). The audience has been prepared to hear how she messed up and how the mess got fixed and what was learned.

At 5:02 she says: “I want you to notice what I’m doing, not only am I making a joke about a Black woman’s hair, which is a sensitive issue”.

This is a weird thing to point out. She does this as if everyone and their dog knew that Black women are sensitive about their hair. Is that true? I don’t know. I do know that if someone you know is sensitive about something it’s not a good idea to go broadcasting that around. The same way that if you’re sensitive about some aspect of your appearance you should never bring it up and should never assume that other people are bringing it up. Don’t let people know how to push your buttons. Whatever she thinks she’s doing, she’s also letting the audience know: “Hey, if you want to be nasty to a Black woman… start in on her hair! They hate that!

At 5:08 “And I do know better” The body language and intonation here carry a bit of noblesse oblige “Silly Black women and their hair obsession, I hope they’re sufficiently grateful that I’m on their side… think of the damage I could do if they don’t appreciate me..

At 05:36 “Would you be willing to grant me the opportunity to repair the racism that I perpetrated toward you in the meeting last week?”

This is close to word for word from her book and so the wording is obviously important to her and there’s a couple of weird things here. She loses all animation as she says this in a weird mantra-like monotone which indicates it’s almost a set phrase for her. This is clearly outside the normal framework of human interaction but it’s also clearly how she thinks people should communicate.

It seems that she’s using racism as a count noun whereas in normal usage it’s non-count. Racism was an event, an almost physical thing that can be repaired…. We’ll leave aside the semantic features of repair which don’t really fit here – is she intended to make her racism work better?.

Also ‘perpetrate’ usually contains the semantic feature “on purpose” no one uses “perpetrate” about things that happen by accident or ignorance.

At 6:12 “And I have spent my life justifying my intelligence to white people.” this is followed by a very weird gesture that’s reminiscent of a benediction? And then she moves on. What the audience is usually expecting at this point is some recognition of the survey’s value that she had not previously noted. This is conspicuous by its absence here. The impression that’s left is “Poor Angela trying to prove she’s smart with her tedious surveys… God bless her”.

I’d love to know what her interlocutor is feeling during this interview. A lot of the time she seems bemused, but after seeing her on other videos I think that’s just her resting face.

There’s more but I can’t take it…. instead just as yourself about face validity. Does the type of interaction she describes seem like it would lead to improved relations between people from different races? If you think it does then by all means start saying this like “Would you be willing to grant me the opportunity to repair the harm that I perpetrated against you.” and please write up the results.

Meta-racism

Finally, the meta-message of this story (and longer excerpts and quite possibly her whole book) seems to be

A white person working with a Black person has to walk on eggshells all the goddamned time” which is part of a larger meta-message “Dealing with Black people at work is a miserable experience for white people and you need an expert like me to get through it.” Which is the whole point. As some have pointed out, the function of Robin and those like her is to prove corporate employers with a convenient way of firing people at will. She’s part of the Professional Managerial Class whose role in the system is to instill labor discipline. Employers don’t want employees who feel any kind of class connection with each other and Robin and her kind help make sure that can never happen.

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Communication notes: Divination vs handicapping

Just a bit more before getting to Sister Robin…

Tells in analyzing communication (written or oral) are general involuntary indications that a person is tense or relaxed or concealing something. I have one friend who develops a large red splotch on their right cheek whenever they’re bothered by something. No matter what they say, if that splotch shows up they’re not happy. Tells exist because most people most of the time want to tell the truth and if they lie with their mouths their body still tries to get the truth out.

Also, people tend to end up talking about things they did or feel and even if they’re trying to hide what they really feel or really did or really want to do there are verbal tells that come out. A great example in TV was an early season of the Sopranos where Tony’s mother became obsessed with talking about news stories she’d found of women killing their children and going on at length about how horrible it was – and at the time was planning the killing of her son. Most real life examples aren’t that extreme but how much a person talks about something (and just as important… how they talk about it) can give some indication of what they’re thinking or what they’ve done or what they want to do.

But none of this is foolproof and if anyone says something like “Oh, he touched his mouth…. he’s lying!” that shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Things like analyzing a person’s body language or statement analysis are not infallible and there is no single ‘tell’ that can allow a person to state “They’re telling the truth!” or “They’re hiding something!” Even a person who is absolutely telling the truth 100% (as they perceive it) will still have an occasional tell that can be interpreted as conveying falsehood. What counts are patterns and percentages. It’s not like a mathematical formula which always works – it’s more like handicapping a horse race taking lots of things into account and playing the averages. It’s not infallible but there are people who can make a living at it.

Finally, in the social sciences there is a concept called ‘face validity’ used in testing. What it means is “Does it seem like a good way to measure what we’re trying to measure?” If you want to measure how many hours a day a person spends looking at their phone and only observe people while they are on public transport…. that doesn’t have face validity because extrapolating from that data might lead you to think people spend 20 or more hours a day on the phone. Face validity is also not completely infallible but it’s one factor that needs to be taken into consideration in designing surveys (for example).

Next…. on to fragile Robin…

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Inka Oppression

Aspects of the current political situation in the US remind me of coffee in Poland during the communist period. Polish people loved coffee (too mild a word – they absolutely lusted over it) and the country imported large amounts… to roast. After that was done they sent almost all of it elsewhere as it was far too valuable to waste on the local population. Coffee became hard to get (like anything pleasant in a communist country) and some cursed soul came up with a horrible substitute “kawa zbożowa” (grain coffee) and the most famous brand was Inka. I remember the first time I had it I could barely choke any down, it tasted like bad, weak coffee mixed with tea and then left outside for week. Nonetheless, some people developed a taste for it and it’s still around as it’s own thing.

Inka! Any resemblance to real coffee is purely coincidental….

That’s what I think about ‘white supremacy’ and ‘systemic racism’ and why some people get really upset when faced with the fact that African Americans are not in fact killed in disproportionate numbers by the police (this is not meant to imply that policing in the US is not flawed – it seems to have evolved into an antagonistic semi-militaristic model that is probably related to rising social inequality – the more inequality in a society the more brutal the police will generally be but that’s a topic for another day).

I think there is a great demand for racist oppression in America that comes from progressives and the left. They long for oppression. They want it so they can have something to resist and play revolution. They want minorities to be oppressed so badly that they’ll accept ersatz victims like Rayshard Brooks and try to turn them into sainted martyrs. For the record, I don’t think Brooks should have been killed but had he lived he shouldn’t be free either – apparently he was on probation and a DUI charge would have put him behind bars which is one reason he attacked the police. An unfortunate case but not a good choice as symbolic victim. But when the real thing is hard to come by people make do. Just as some people managed to convince themselves that Inka was something a human being could drink, the modern left in the US has convinced itself that a getting killed while attacking the police is a cause for revolution.

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Communication notes: Presuppositions

Before I get to analyzing why I find Robin DiAngelo so toxic I’ll give a little background on communication. You probably know this but… it doesn’t hurt to spell it out.

An important concept in communication is the presupposition which means (roughly) what the receiver of a sequence of language needs to accept as true in order to understand it. This has to do not only with the meanings of words found in a dictionary but also includes lots of other things.

For example, if someone says “Janet’s house is nice” the recipient accepts that the speaker knows a person named “Janet” and this person has a house that can be labelled as hers and that in the subjective opinion of the speaker said house is nice (and that the speaker feels entitled to tell whoever they’re talking to about it and some other stuff that’s not relevant).

Certain structures in English carry with them certain presuppositions. A possessive carries with it the idea that the thing possessed exists. This is not true in all languages and in Hungarian, for example,  “my nice house” (a szép otthonom) doesn’t necessarily exist and in fact “My nice house doesn’t exist” is a normal sentence in Hungarian that doesn’t sound weird as the English version does (A szép otthonom nincs means “I don’t have a nice house”).

Attached to specific words, presuppositions are often called ‘connotations’ and often the ‘same’ word has very different connotations in different languages. The English word adequate has negative connotations and nobody would like their efforts labeled as ‘adequate’ which people understand as ‘barely good enough’. The Polish equivalent however ‘adekwatny’ has none of this negative baggage and the word is used unironically as praise.

Presuppositions can also include things that are part of the meaning of a sequence of language that is not found in the words being used.

For example is someone says “Even Jack could pass that class” (the heavy emphasis on Jack is necessary) the receiver knows that Jack is not a very good student and that class isn’t very hard. On the other hand change the word order a bit and you have “Jack could even pass that class” and suddenly Jack is a star student and the class is very challenging. But in neither sentence is there overt mention of Jack’s abilities or the difficulty of the class.

The meaning of sentences tends to be more than the sum of the meanings of the individual words. All language communities share hundreds if not thousands of presuppositions and native speakers understand them without trying. On the other hand a different language community speaking the “same” language might have very different presuppositions built into their versions of the language (which can make communication tricky for speakers of languages like English or Spanish that are used in different countries).

Also, non-native speakers tend to miss many presuppositions since they tend to focus on the surface meaning of the words and might not realize the additional accrued communication functions they have acquired. This is a frequent cause of intercultural confusion and conflict. If you’re ever speaking a second language with a native speaker and they suddenly start behaving very oddly then chances are that you’ve managed to convey information that you didn’t intend to. By the same token if a non-native speaker of your language says something that makes you start to feel or act oddly then they may not have realized what they said and you might want to give them the benefit of a doubt.

Trying to figure out what went wrong is probably impossible though. I’ve been on both sides of that particular interaction and unfortunately trying to ask questions about what’s just happened generally just makes things worse.

I’ll end this entry on that cheery note.

 

 

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Best soap opera on youtube…

As crazy as they can be, vegans have some of the most consistently entertaining channels on youtube, never more so than when drahmah occurs. The combination of self-righteousness and awareness of how many people think they’re obsessive weirdos (not an insult, obsessive weirdos are some of my favorite people).

Recently, a very prominent vegan body builder influencer guy decided he doesn’t want to be vegan anymore and more butthurt you have never seen in your lives. Virtually every prominent vegan has decided that they must urgently respond to this, the biggest news story of the year for them. Most of them sound roughly like 15 year-old mean girls who’ve just found out the boy they’re obsessed with just asked another girl to the dance. My favorite is a British woman who’s made something like four (and counting) videos about him (not that she’s that interested in him or anything).

The former vegan influencer in question doesn’t sound very bright and listening between the lines (and listening between the lines of a video by his brother) make it possible to put together a working hypothesis.

He went vegan as an emotional response to a vegan propaganda video and he’s finding a hard slog to keep up long term (there was an egg incident earlier…. which they all refer too in dark tones). Also he became a father a couple of years ago and I suspect there are diet problems with his child and his wife put her foot down and he doesn’t want to make it about his kid so he’s taking the heat himself.

Apparently this happens any time there is a high profile defector from the cause and I understand why but they maybe should rethink releasing them – they sound a lot like they’re trying to convince themselves rather than anyone else.

 

 

 

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