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      Colin Powell was the first black secretary of state. He was the consummate insider, who climbed the military bureaucracy with great skill and vigor. A man who always knew what had to be done to get ahead and get along. In Vietnam, for example, he understood his role perfectly: his time as a young U.S. Army Major posted in Saigon, when, after the My Lai Massa […]
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You don’t have to be stupid to be ignorant.

minervaSteven, a friend who is ex-military, and a heavy equipment mechanic, said to me this morning at breakfast,

“You don’t have to be stupid to be ignorant.”

Booman’s slight of dakinkat is a case in point.

Booman is not stupid. myiq notes that Booman can be sharp, but Booman is about as sharp as a bag of oranges on this issue.

If he was only embarassing himself with his naive assertion about the incorruptibility of ACORN and each and every one of its staffers, then I wouldn’t feel any need to comment, especially because I don’t doubt that the vast majority of ACORN personnel are well-intentioned people doing good works. He chose to use his ignorance as a tool to drag others in the mud, however, so he must be called to account.

Once again, it is a simple matter to demonstrate the intellectual and moral inadequacy of a Booman commentator by simply weighing his case against dakinikat. He makes the salacious claims, so the burden of proof falls on him. Please read dakinikat’s post and read his response to her post, especially the comments section.

Unraveling the Greed

Wells Fargo and Acorn

dakinikat ties the facts of the Wells Fargo case to the local history in her home district in New Orleans. Jacobson, in the NYT article, says that Wells Fargo targetted black churches to use their influence as a means of getting their parishoners to take out subprime loans with Wells Fargo. dakinikat relates this data with the meetings with subprime lenders that took place in churches by her home, seminars that tended to be sponsored by ACORN. That they sponsored the seminars does not mean that they knowingly worked against the best interests of the community. dakinikat also notes that ACORN is a bag organization in New Orleans (hardly a surprise, such things are common for both parties). She further notes that convictions of public officials on non-profits (not ACORN representatives) are a matter of public record.

Booman states that dakinikat is not telling the truth on the basis that her data does not conform with his experiences in Philadephia. Further, he rejects the claims of the ACORN 8 as right wing talking points.

The status of the claims of the ACORN 8 are open. Booman appears certain that they have no merit. He might be right. ACORN employees have been convicted and indicted, however, which suggests that complaints against ACORN can be more than right wing talking points, despite Booman’s idealizations. Perhaps they faced Republican judges.

It is worth noting that the head of ACORN is right when he notes that the number of cases against ACORN, and the number of convictions that have stemmed therefrom, are relatively small when one considers at the size of the organization. It is also important, as noted earlier, to not judge the many by the conduct of the few.

Booman appears comfortable with judging the conduct of the many by the conduct of the few. In doing so, he is employing the logical fallacy of generalizing from the particular. Then, on the basis of this fallacy, he proceeds to insult someone who is using her training to fight for the very same lending practises that he lauds ACORN for promoting.

For Booman to be right, we have to accept his assertion that ACORN and its employees are incorruptible, that their behavior is lock-step across each and every community that they operate in, that the ACORN sponsored church events with home loan lenders in dakinikat’s home district were not of the type propagated by Wells Fargo, and that the finance student who is working to fight against lending practises that exploit the poor is a liar and an agent for the Republican agenda.

ACORN employees have proven to be corruptible. dakinikat’s conference presentations are peer-reviewed, so they pass the truth test. In these publications she’s argued for regulation of said industries, which means she is arguing against the Republican agenda. It’s not unreasonable to assume that at least one of the home lending meetings involved a subprime mortgage lender. The only point that remains in Booman’s favor is the question of the role of ACORN in these loan meetings. It can be quickly dismissed, if we accept that ACORN would have worked with the lenders that offered the best deals for their constituents, even if these were necessarily subprime. They are, after all, only human.

Booman’s case fails on the balance of probabilities. His assertions about ACORN’s purity are empirically false, practically naive, and only have their force via a logical fallacy. His accusation about the talking points is non-sensical, given her academic presentations. That these claims found his assertion that she is not to be trusted, indicate that his judgment about her truthfulness and intellectual adequacy is not trustworthy. His wrongness about her truthfulness does not make him a liar, but that he dirties her name based on such a pathetic claim means he is a scoundrel.

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Wednesday: Various and Sundry

I don’t have a coherent thought today, just a random collection.  I know some of you are thinking that that’s not unusual…

  • For some reason, this headline struck me as funny:  Confusion Reigns on Congo’s Front Line.  I mean, how hard is it to organize a Conga line?  Er, never mind.
  • More on our blog statistics.  This blog is worth $242, 187.66 to advertisers.  That’s nearly 3X the value of Anglachel’s blog, not that we’re keeping score.  (neener-neener-neeeeeeener).  Also, our blog personality is ISTP- The Mechanics.  I blame myiq2xu for the looking a more wild and crazy than the typical cerebral lefty blogger although we *do* come off looking pretty damn well-adjusted.  Scratch that.  Myiq2xu had nothing to do with us looking well adjusted.
  • I went to a biz dinner last night with some sciency types.  The guy to my left was a brilliant mathemetician who wrote an equally brilliant application I use.  His group wouldn’t take me seriously when I told them the best way to train people to use his stuff was to add video game features for instant feedback.  They thought I was strange, but I digress.  My colleague kept steering our guests away from politics but I’m afraid we headed straight over that cliff as we finished our espressos.  Math guy is a Canadian Obot.  Put that together with the fact that he’s generally the smartest guy in the room and you can imagine how the conversation between us went.  He was convinced that the reason why Hillary lost was because she didn’t play hardball.  I kept telling him how the game was rigged.  He told me how I was a conspriracy theorist.  Yep, it was one of those conversations alright.  But when I told him what happened in Denver, for some reason, that struck a nerve.  Yup.  Mr. Math looked really confused.  Now, I’m not saying that all Obots will have this reaction but when they know about what really happened with the threats, intimidation, harrassment and blackmail of delegates over their jobs, then the concept in their minds moves from mere hardball to something else.  One other thing:  He thought it was perfectly OK for Obama to take all of Michigan’s uncommitted delegates and 4 from Hillary to boot, even though it was specifically the theft of Michigan delegates that put him over the top by a mere 17 delegates.  He reasoned that it was fair to Obama because his name wasn’t on the ballot.  ???  It was at that moment that I lost all respect for the guy.  You can like Obama all you want but your personal feelings of transcendence shouldn’t extend to transcending the ability to think logically.   There were a million things wrong with the Michigan decision on the truth table. Bertrand Russell would have had a field day with it. But I took delight over the expression he had on his face when I told him about Denver.  It was like,  “Holy S%^*!  What if she’s right that Obama is Country Club Republican in disguise and the real Democrats have been screwed again?”  Oh, I also had to defend myself against racism, again. Mr. Math thought it was terrible what the Republicans did to McCain in South Carolina in 2000 and didn’t I?  Well, yes, but what does that have to do with anything?  Did the Republicans accuse Obama of fathering black children?  Very weird black white thinking from people who really should know better.
  • The NYTimes has this mouth watering article on gravy today, Flavorful Gravy Makes Thanksgiving.  Yes, it does, along with half a dozen other things like stuffing with apples and nuts in it, sweet potato gratin with cream and mashed potatoes made with real butter.  To die for.  Literally.  Our fitness center has a new incentive this week called Rate Your Plate.  You take a paper plate and select your T-day fixins from cardboard cut outs.  One of the fitness instructors tallies it up and enters the bottom line in a book.  Your job, if you choose to accept it, is to work off those calories before next week.  My calorie count was 1676.  I thought that was embarrassing until I peaked through the binder to see that some of my colleagues consume over 3000 calories on one plate.  No wonder everyone feels sleepy later.  So, I’ve been hitting the gym this week and have already burned off 700 calories from a spin class Monday and a Chisel class yesterday.  It’s going to take a long time before I burn off this blogging weight though.  If you’re like me and you put on a few too many pounds this election season, maybe you might like to get in shape but you don’t know where to start.  So, here are some tips I picked up from the trainers from back when I was a fitness fanatic:
  1. See your doctor before you do any vigorous activity. Make sure you aren’t stressing your heart and that your blood pressure is under control.
  2. Invest in a heart monitor. To get the most out of your workout, you want to stay in your target heart rate zone for most of the time with little bursts into the cardio zone. You can get a quick estimate here.
  3. Wear comfortable clothing. Your clothes don’t have to make a fashion statement. Women should get a sports bra or tank with shelf bra. Make sure your clothes aren’t too baggy and loose in case they get caught on the equipment. Invest in a good pair of shoes. I swear by Nike Airs because the shock absorption can’t be beat but they may not work for you. So test a few pairs until you’re comfortable with them. Some fitness classes, like spinning, use cycling shoes but these are usually optional.
  4. Pick a good time of day to just do it. I don’t recommend early morning because I have read studies that say most exercise induced heart attacks take place early in the day. The body apparently needs to warm up first. My favorite time is lunch time. I take my lunch back to my desk afterwards. But whatever works best for you. What we are aiming for us compliance and regularity.
  5. Try a variety of fitness routines until you find the ones that a. Fit your goals and b. You truly enjoy. If you aren’t making progress and you’re not having fun, you won’t go. It’s harder to form a habit if you don’t feel like complying.
  6. Women- Try to fit a weight lifting/ strength training segment into your routine. It will help you get some nice muscle tone and it is really good for your bones.
  7. Mix it up. Change your routine and diversify your activites to train different muscle groups and keep your interest.
  8. Do it in a group. In fact, this is the ONLY way I exercise. The gym is the only place where I want peer pressure. The comraderie is great and people help and encourage each other. Get a regular partner and you’re less likely to skip a workout.
  9. Drink water. You don’t have to go overboard. Just take a water bottle with you and drink when you’re thirsty.
  10. Warm up and cool down. If you stretch your muscles first, you’re less likely to strain something. Cooling down allows the muscles you have had in tension to return to their resting state. It will make you less sore.
  11. The old adage ‘no pain, no gain’ is stupid. If you’re working too hard, you may be working against your goals. Pushing yourself past your target heart rate too much may give your heart a workout but if you want to lose weight, it’s not going to do you any good. A spin instructor told me that a good pace is one where you are panting lightly and you feel at about 60-80% difficulty. If you are gasping for air, dizzy or getting chest and abdominal pain, stop, even if you’re in the middle of a workout. instructors are more attune to these things nowadays and they may let you know when you’re pushing it too hard. Train your body to accept more stress gradually. You’ll see better results and fewer injuries. When you first start, measure your heartrate periodically and if you find it too high, take a break or ease up.
  12. In some classes, posture and position are more important than getting your heartrate up. If you don’t know how to perform an exercise, get an instructor to show you and position you correctly for maximum effectiveness. Doing an exercise wrong can cause injury. Instructors want you to progress so don’t be afraid to ask. Also, some exercises can be modified and still give you a great workout.
  13. I keep mentioning fitness centers because I believe it’s a good idea to train your body correctly. Many centers offer an introductory trial membership that is affordable. This is a really good place to start. But if you don’t have one nearby, you can still get a great workout at home. All you need is a pair of good athletic shoes, 2 five lb weights and a DVD player. Commit to walking 2 miles everyday at a brisk pace. Every other day, use the weights for strength training. Buy a strength training video and work out in front if the tube. I recommend anything by Karen Voight. Her routines are not difficu and her positioning is very good.
  14. Don’t expect to see instant results. If you want to lose weight, don’t weigh yourself for awhile. Keep your favorite pair of skinny jeans around and put them on periodically to see if they fit better. This is especially important if you are strength training. When you build muscle, your not going to lose as much weight but you should see fat melting and feel more toned. So the scale may just depress you. Stay away from it. Habits are more likely to stick when you perform a task 21 times. So, keep at it regularly for four weeks or so. In about 6 weeks, you should start to look and feel better. If you don’t, see your doctor. You may have a metabolism problem. Or ask your instructor for suggestions. You may have to switch to a different kind of workout to get the results you want.

So, now that I have gotten over my gravy guilt, I’m going to work a little harder from now until next Thursday so I can have pumpkin pie with whipped cream.  Ahhh…