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Bernie Ziebart

The Engineering Perspective

The blog is a view of life, science, politics and education from an engineering perspective. As engineers, we are taught to view the world objectively. We can hope, believe and calculate a particular outcome, but natural laws are inflexible and pay no heed to who we are or what we believe. We must approach the objective dispassionately, while compensating for our own distorted perceptions. Balance is also a key element; balancing between the ideal and the pragmatic, balancing cost and functionality, balancing analysis with action, etc.

Scheduling routine critical self-analysis is the foundation to objectivity. If we do not fully understand and compensate for our own failures, tendencies, habits and skewed thought processes, we will not see the world as it is. Without a regular critical self-analysis we will see the world as we are and then fall prey to self-delusion.

Failure is a great teacher. When failure is coupled with perseverance, it produces the fruit of patience and humility. An engineer, fresh out of engineering school is typically set up for failure early and often. The failure breaks the new engineer of any ideas of self-importance, arrogance and book smarts. Only then can the new engineer be formed and molded into a productive element in the industry.


Thanks,
Bernie

Political satire of PJ O'Rourke

PJ O'Rourke

I had listened to a speech given by P.J. O’Rourke on May 6, 1993 for the opening of the Cato Institute's headquarters in Washington, D.C.   Once I got past the sarcasm, I found his wit to be unique. His style of political humor is harsh and he is not overly concerned with political correctness. O’Rourke reflects a by-gone era of satirical art.

O’Rourke may be a bit calloused but I share his disdain for big government. 

I have enclosed a few of his most famous quotes.

  • Freedom is not empowerment. Empowerment is what the Serbs have in Bosnia. Anybody can grab a gun and be empowered. Freedom is not entitlement. An entitlement is what people on welfare get, and how free are they? It's not an endlessly expanding list of rights — the "right" to education, the "right" to food and housing. That's not freedom, that's dependency. Those aren't rights, those are the rations of slavery — hay and a barn for human cattle.
  • Government subsidies can be critically analyzed according to a simple principle: You are smarter than the government, so when the government pays you to do something you wouldn't do on your own, it is almost always paying you to do something stupid.
  • I'm a registered Republican and consider socialism a violation of the American principle that you shouldn't stick your nose in other people's business except to make a buck.
  • There are just two rules of good governance in a free society: Mind your own business. Keep your hands to yourself.

Keep your hands to yourself, Bill.

Hillary, mind your own business.

  • Neither conservatives nor humorists believe man is good. But left-wingers do.
  • The forces of safety are afoot in the land. I, for one, believe it is a conspiracy— a conspiracy of Safety Nazis shouting "Sieg Health" and seeking to trammel freedom, liberty, and large noisy parties. The Safety Nazis advocate gun control, vigorous exercise, and health foods. The result can only be a disarmed, exhausted, and half-starved population ready to acquiesce to dictatorship of some kind.
  • I can understand why mankind hasn't given up war. During a war you get to drive tanks through the sides of buildings and shoot foreigners— two things that are usually frowned on during peacetime.
  • Moscow has changed. I was here in 1982, during the Brezhnev twilight, and things are better now. For instance, they've got litter. In 1982 there was nothing to litter with
  • The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work, and then they get elected and prove it.
  • Many reporters, when they go to work in the nation’s capital, begin thinking of themselves as participants in the political process instead of glorified stenographers.
  • Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
  • Authority has always attracted the lowest elements in the human race. All through history mankind has been bullied by scum.
  • Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy, the whores are us.
  • The second item in the liberal creed, after self-righteousness, is unaccountability. Liberals have invented whole college majors— psychology, sociology, women's studies— to prove that nothing is anybody's fault. No one is fond of taking responsibility for his actions, but consider how much you'd have to hate free will to come up with a political platform that advocates killing unborn babies but not convicted murderers. A callous pragmatist might favor abortion and capital punishment. A devout Christian would sanction neither. But it takes years of therapy to arrive at the liberal view.
  • You can't shame or humiliate modern celebrities. What used to be called shame and humiliation is now called publicity. And forget traditional character assassination; if you say a modern celebrity is an adulterer, a pervert and a drug addict, all it means is that you've read his autobiography.
  • The principal feature of American liberalism is sanctimoniousness. By loudly denouncing all bad things — war and hunger and date rape — liberals testify to their own terrific goodness. More important, they promote themselves to membership in a self-selecting elite of those who care deeply about such things.... It's a kind of natural aristocracy, and the wonderful thing about this aristocracy is that you don't have to be brave, smart, strong or even lucky to join it, you just have to be liberal.
  • There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences.
  • Health care is too expensive, so the Clinton administration is putting Hillary in charge of making it cheaper. (This is what I always do when I want to spend less money — hire a lawyer from Yale.) If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free.
  • Government is a health hazard. Governments have killed many more people than cigarettes or unbuckled seat belts ever have.
  • Advocating the expansion of the powers of the state is treason to mankind
  • Biotechnology is a worry. What if they take genetic material from wet noodles and blowfish and splice it into politician chromosomes and create a Clinton administration?
  • Ecology is the science of everything. Nobody knows everything. Nobody even knows everything about any one thing. And most of us don't know much. Say it's ten-thirty on a Saturday night. Where are your teenage children? I didn't ask where they said they were going. Where are they really? What are they doing? Who are they with? Have you met the other kids' families?  Now extend these questions to the entire solar system.
  • Everybody wants to save the earth; nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes.
  • Remember, FDA employees are serious about fear. We pay these people to panic about an iota of rodent hair in our chili, even when the recipe calls for it. FDA employees are first-class agonizers, world champions at losing sleep. When Meryl Streep got hysterical about Alar, they actually checked the apples instead of Meryl's head.
  • When a private entity does not produce the desired results, it is (certain body parts excepted) done away with. But a public entity gets bigger.
  • We’re told cars are dangerous. Is it safer to drive through South Central Los Angeles than to walk there? We’re told cars are wasteful. Wasteful of what? Oil did a lot of good sitting in the ground for millions of years. We’re told cars should be replaced with mass transportation. But it’s hard to reach the drive-through window at McDonald’s from a speeding train. And we’re told cars cause pollution. A hundred years ago city streets were ankle deep in horse excrement. What kind of pollution do you want? Would you rather die of cancer at eighty or typhoid fever at nine?
  • I wonder how many of the people who profess to believe in the leveling ideas of collectivism and egalitarianism really just believe that they themselves are good for nothing. I mean, how many leftists are animated by a quite reasonable self-loathing? In their hearts they know that they are not going to become scholars or inventors or industrialists or even ordinary good kind people. So they need a way to achieve that smugness for which the left is so justifiably famous. They need a way to achieve self-esteem without merit. Well, there is politics. In an egalitarian world everything will be controlled by politics, and politics requires no merit.
  • When a government controls both the economic power of individuals and the coercive power of the state this violates a fundamental rule of happy living: Never let the people with all the money and the people with all the guns be the same people.
  • The only really good vegetable is Tabasco sauce. Put Tabasco sauce in everything. Tabasco sauce is to bachelor cooking what forgiveness is to sin.
  • I am no stranger to loud noise. I've been to a Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels concert. And I once dated a woman with two kids.
  • One of the annoying things about believing in free will and individual responsibility is the difficulty of finding somebody to blame your problems on.
  • On page 8 of Earth in the Balance, Al Gore claims that his study of the arms race gave him "a deeper appreciation for the most horrifying fact in all our lives: civilization is now capable of destroying itself." For the most the us the most horrifying fact in many of our lives is that our ex-spouse has gotten a hold of our ATM card.
  • Imagine a weight-loss program at the end of which, instead of better health, good looks, and hot romantic prospects, you die. Somalia has become just this kind of spa.
  • The morning meal was served in traditional socialist fashion— very slowly, with the courses out of order so that the jelly arrived half an hour after the toast and the coffee didn't come until we'd called for the check.
  • Wherever there's injustice, oppression, and suffering in this world, America will show up six months late and bomb the country next to where it's happening.

The current era of political satire produced by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert is significantly different from the satire of a past era.  I feel that the new satire is a bit 'dumbed down' in order to be digested by its consumers.  I also feel that it has become more crass and sacrilegious.   Whereas the satire from the bygone era of O'Rourke, Will Rogers and HL Mencken is refreshing, with a little bite and great wit.

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