Monthly Archives: February 2014

Surprise! A Politician Thinks You’re Stupid

Political campaign commercials are the worst expression of modern media technology. Wolfy here is playing bigshot by wanting to make gas companies “pay up” by taxing them for drilling in PA, and he’s going to use the revenue to help pay for schools.

There’s no such thing as taxing a corporation, because the corporation always passes the cost on to consumers. Usually it’s in the form of higher consumer prices, or decreased services, or reduced hiring. Something like one of those things, always.

Of course, none of that could come into play if the cost of the tax is indirectly offset by some other commercial privilege the corporation enjoys, granted by the government (quick hint: if it’s a “corporation,” by definition it has to has some tie-in to the state). Tax laws are a reprehensible maze so unless you make a living off of making sense of the labyrinth, there’s no way to really be sure of the ins-and-outs. But either way, a taxpayer pays for it, not the corporation.

And in this case, people who own property and a vehicle (or perhaps take public transit) are paying twice for schools.

No doubt, a lot of people are stupid. Politicians are not, however. They know exactly what they are doing and saying and how it comes across.

At least his daughters are easy on the eyes, so eh?

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Give and Take

Theatrical wordplay rides the sweep of socialized assumptions but it eventually crashes.

I disagree with you not because what you propose is unfashionable (it’s actually very fashionable) or not an ideal (it’s very idyllic), but because it’s a certain non-possibility—not in the theoretical realm, not through a “given set of circumstances,” but literally, existentially, by the very categories of the concepts we’re discussing.

I disagree with you not because I believe you to be immoral or stupid; I’ve extended that grace to you, so could you extend similar graces to me?

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Bands Need to Buy a Domain Name

Some more advice for bands from Seth:

What happens when Facebook determines your tour announcement is not high-quality content? Or that your line of products that you’ll be selling at this weekends market isn’t high-quality content?

Get your fans, the people who LIKED you, onto an email list. Now.

Tell your fans on Facebook that you’ll be sending out updates via your email list from now on. And your fans on Twitter, and Instagram.

I would add that bands need to buy a domain name. You need to own something online, and they are cheap. If mybandname.com/net/org is taken you can always yukk it up with mybandnamesmellsgood.com or dinnerwithmybandname.com. Or use an album title or lyric bit. You’re in the creative business—no need to be stodgy with the domains.

Any social networking site can delete your stuff, because it’s technically theirs. If you have a domain, people will know where to go when Godzilla fire-farts on Facebook’s server farms. Even if all you have on your domain is a splash page of your new album cover, links to your social sites and online shop, your email, the live video feed of your ferret’s litterbox. Whatever.

And, if you’re extra serious about not being a career loser, buy hosting, install WordPress, and post to it once in a while…even if you do all that sort of thing on Instagram or Twitter already. And backup your content once a month, because hosting providers can delete your account, too. Installing and posting with WordPress, and downloading a backup of all your content is easy to do.

Just remember: if you didn’t pay for it, it’s not yours. And if you do pay for it, it may not be yours, either. Always have a backup plan.

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Freedom Means Dragging and Beating You

Reading things like this lead me to believe politicians inhabit a completely different universe. Not just a different moral universe, but a literal inverted realm in every way except physically.

Hat tip goes to Ed Hurst for this. Emphasis mine:

The circumstances of McGovern’s 2011 arrest were marked by stinging irony. McGovern was brutalized and arrested after peacefully and silently standing with his back to Hillary Clinton as she gave a policy speech condemning authoritarian governments who repress dissenters and internet freedom.

As described in the Civil Complaint: “As Secretary Clinton was reading from her prepared remarks regarding Egypt’s dictatorship saying, ‘Then the government pulled the plug,’ the then-71-year-old McGovern was forcibly and falsely arrested by GWU police officers, grabbed by the head, assaulted, and as Secretary Clinton continued undisturbed stating, ‘the government … did not want the world to watch,’ Mr. McGovern was removed from public view with excessive and brutal force, taken to jail, and left bleeding with bruises and contusions.”

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How I Avoided the Flu This Year

I know flu season isn’t over yet, but I still haven’t gotten sick yet, even with two kids who came down with something. Who knows if what I’ve been doing is affecting anything, but here’s a few things that may be contributing to my success.

1. No flu shot! I’m not an anti-vaccine guy but I have no desire to get the flu shot. That’s all. No conspiracy theory or paranoia.

2. Homemade bone broth. That link is the recipe I used. I had made some last year that I froze, then made another batch year. I had some every day for about a week for breakfast. Once in December and another time in January.

3. Almost-daily exercise. Usually it’s a daily 30-minute resistance training, but sometimes just outside walking or cycling in the cold.

4. I sometimes take Tummy Tuneup and Odorless Garlic and Immunomax. Not regularly but when I remember to.

5. Normal hand washing. I’m not a hand sanitizer freak but I occasionally indulge.

6. Bacon and eggs every day. I don’t know if this helps at all but it’s certainly more enjoyable than a dry low-fat bran muffin and healthier.

7. A smoothie every day—the more “traditionally” nutritious intake I have. I’ve been pounding these since Christmas when I got a Ninja blender. Mine usually has half a banana, some frozen or fresh berries (blackberries, strawberries, blueberries), maybe two cups of dark leafy greens (romaine, spinach, etc., no iceberg), cinnamon, ginger, milk, ice, a dollop of peanut butter, and sometimes a raw egg.

8. 6 to 7 hours of sleep most nights.

9. Coffee. I don’t really know if this directly affects things, but despite it being a stimulant it keeps me less stressed because I’m able to get work done and relax better afterward.

I’ll post a followup in a few weeks and report back if I in fact got sick.

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A Trope in The Lego Movie

Saw the Lego Movie. Was good, etc. There was a character set up between two of the main protags that I’ve been seeing elsewhere, though I didn’t seem to find it on the TV Tropes site. It’s similar to the Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy trope—or rather, it’s a very specific version of it in bildingsroman narratives.

The male protag in this trope is often a youngish goody two-shoes, hapless and inexperienced in life, who unknowingly possesses some latent powers that hold the key to defeating the main antag. The girl is a field agent of the resistance group and is his first contact with them. She is attractive and competent girl with moxie; the absolute double threat for any horny dork. He falls for her at some point but he’s too much of a bumbling beta male to be attractive to her, so she is a perpetual bitch to him while trying to be professional with the new recruit. Sometimes she will have a love interest within the resistance group with (surprise!) an overconfident jerk. Hapless beta male protag serves as a emotional tampon for her regrouping efforts, but then she goes back to overconfident jerk guy for a fling and the cycle continues. Sometimes betaboy gets the girl at or near the end when he proves he isn’t as much of a sissy, but not always.

I’ve seen this in plenty of anime series: RahXephon, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Eureka 7—those are ones that come to mind first but I’m sure there’s more. Usually those mecha-based series involve teen or pre-teen pilots, which lends the situation easily to this type of narrative. I’m not necessarily annoyed with it since the trope is not all that far from the reality of inter-relational sexual dynamics in our world, but it is an overused device.

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Bands: Improve Your Live Show

“9. Say your bands name clearly on stage after the first song and after your last song. Like, actually say it, not just “heywe’resoandsothanksforcomingout…” but in a way that people may remember it. Say it clear. Not too fast. I hear so many bands do that, “we’reblahblahblahthanksofromingout” while the drummer is still tuning his snare.”

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A Libert_rian Fill In The Blank Quiz

1. A libertarian asking for more government is not very libert_rian.

If you answer number 1 correctly, the rest should be easy.

2. If you’re a libert_rian, you don’t make a case for mandatory GMO labeling of food products.

3. If you’re a libert_rian, you don’t make a case for the state recognition of gay marriage.

4. If you’re a libert_rian, you don’t make a case for a higher minimum wage.

5. If you’re a libert_rian, you don’t make a case for the Civil Rights Act.

This is simple category fallacy, but it has a moral component. If you’re asking for a government to “do something” it already does, but even more so or for an additional set of people, all you’re doing is asking for more loaded guns to be pointed at more sets of slaves.

Your pet crusades don’t magically become Kantian imperatives just because you’re “working with the system as it is now.” Working with the mafia is still working with the mafia. Even you minarchist sissies can’t brush off that inference.

The only thing a libertarian should ask government to do is to stop doing anything at all. But what good does it do for a slave to ask its master for his own freedom?

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Three Pittsburgh Aviary Photos

Taken by my daughter, Elena, on her Nabi tablet.

Pittsburgh Aviary Photo 1

Pittsburgh Aviary Photo 2

Pittsburgh Aviary Photo 3

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Blog Posts and Print Books Come and Go, But Content Lasts Forever

Common Sense by Thomas Paine

Ceteris paribus, the greater the supply the cheaper the cost, which can sometimes translate to a lesser value. Blog posts are easy to produce, and can thus be of less value. Facebook status updates and Twitter posts even more so; how many of those do you remember reading from yesterday? Or the last hour?

I don’t subscribe to the labor theory of value, but if something is difficult to produce there is likely to be in short supply and thus the good would be more valuable. Though with some things its value is barely elastic no matter what its supply, simply because people don’t value it at all no matter the level of supply.

Thomas Paine’s Common Sense pamphlet is still being printed and read over 200 years later. This people are willing to pay (though not a lot) of money to purchase it. It has something in it that outlasted the pamphlet medium.

The goal is the same today as it was for war pamphleteers in colonial America: will you make something now that people will value no matter form it is in?

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