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abounding with verbosity

Monthly Archives: April 2016


The Ideal State

Jill asked me in a comment to describe my ideal state. I obliged:

You know, I don’t think anyone has asked me that directly.

I don’t know what the ideal state is, but it probably isn’t a state. I can’t really decide for other people under what rulership they should be living–deciding for other people is why the modern state is so terrible. You could probably at least partially agree with that.

But if I could decide for me and my domain (i.e., my household), I’d probably choose to live under a contractual/covenantal feudal religious rule…no, not a theocracy, which nowadays means religious rule combined with a lot of other things I don’t care for. Think of pre-exile Israel, where families were the rule of law, and some things cascaded down from the priestly class. In the modern sense of the “church age,” the priestly class would be whichever church we’d happen to be a member of. Something like that. Churches would have to be a lot different than they are now to accommodate this, so I wouldn’t think something like this could be airdropped in the middle of America or anywhere else to make it work. Someone. somewhere with a lot of guns and resources will have a problem with this, so I wouldn’t expect this kind of “state” to last very long or be peaceful.

I don’t care about answering “what ifs” in depth because they aren’t arguments, nor things to even think about comprehensively. One can give “what ifs” for every stupid idea for organizing a society; if they were seriously entertained, we’d be paralyzed by doubt.

The government other people choose is of no concern to me. The can do whatever they prefer, but most of what people may choose involve a lot of guns and forcing people to do things, so I supposed in a moral sense I’d advise against that. People tend to make every excuse they can for government behavior when the behavior benefits them personally, so this ethical consideration is going to pass right by them.

To stick some further meat on this: there are degrees to what I prefer here, though I try to stick to what I know what God has in mind. I’d be okay, in a practical and moral sense, with some kind of functioning monarchy, since that is closer to what I described above than lots of other systems one could come up with. A tribal-based system seems to work the best because our tribal hindbrains are always running its protocols. Modern systems (democracy) exacerbate the worst parts of those mental subroutines. God didn’t need to institute the tribal structure since it was built in to our hardware. He did, however, take advantage of it for His own purposes, imperfect however it is, and I don’t see any markers that He thinks other systems would be any better.

A Partial Review of Pale Blue Scratch

I received this review of Pale Blue Scratch via email (beware…partial spoilers ahoy):

So far enjoying this mysterious, exotic journey and love the relationship between the two main characters. REALLY appreciate the fact that you chose to make the main protagonist a strong, smart, independent woman… the equivalent of an undercover female ninja warrior/secret agent, well at least so far… look forward to finding out how the adventure ends!

I have no interest in empowering women since they are up to their eyeballs in empowerment programs and schemes, regardless. Any contribution I would make is negligible. If anything, PBS is a story of the teenaged-adult male empowerment seen in Vincent, but I have no real interest in that, either*. Story-wise, his career path isn’t so much the focus after the first few chapters.

The reason Elisabeth is female is that I wanted a three-way foil with du Mahdi—Vincent is the third component. Making one of them a female would emphasize the anti-du Mahdi: more like a counterpart, not quite an exact opposite in every way. I had thought of making du Mahdi a woman but I had a hard time making it work without changing a lot of things I had already established. I also entertained making Vincent a girl, but no sane society would ever allow an older man to be in near-exclusive authority over a young female like that unless they were blood-related. That would make America not a very sane society in that regard, correct.

In some ways, Elisabeth is strong physically**, but not “Marvel cinematic universe” strong. She’s not a 110-pound supermodel who takes out a dozen Secret Service agents by using entry-level judo kicks. Rather, she is aware that she’ll get clobbered in a fist fight with anyone, though she’s very adept at carrying her own weight. It’s part of her background. It’s even built into her last name—look at its meaning and the parts in the book where she lives up to it. But mostly, Elisabeth can do what she does because of technology (guns) and her wealth. It has little to do with strength or personality traits.

Besides all of that, I would hope Elisabeth isn’t a strong character. “Strong” characters are boring, and look here—even a feminist (?) agrees with me on this. We all know what strong characters will do, and there’s not much of a story in that. Elisabeth’s innate curiosity lead her to becoming a Dutch Bull deputy, and subsequently as a journalist, and she developed a high level of street smarts along the way—of which Vincent had none. Combining all that with the inexplicable event she witnessed makes for nice MMO for pursuing what she does in the novel. There’s no need for her to be strong if she’s interesting.

* But I do have something of an interest, being a man with a son. I can’t teach my daughter to really how to be a woman, but I can teach my son how to be a man. I guess I’m not into empowering classes of people wholesale, most of which I am not personally involved with.

** “Strong” in this modern context is usually just shorthand for “not a housewife,” or “doing something physical.” Note that, sans electricity or the Industrial Revolution, the domestic chore workset was ten times more physically demanding than any office job.

Planned Economies

Another good one from Cafe Hayek: “No. Just No.

Second and even more importantly here: “national productivity strategies” are, practically speaking, strategies or plans imposed by the state. They are schemes pressed down from on high by politicians and bureaucrats each of whom not only is motivated chiefly by political goals (and, thus, likely to become a crony or a tool for special-interest groups), but who is also distant from – and hence ignorant of – the countless and ever-changing details of economic reality that must be known and taken account if an economy is to have any real prospect of growing.

A country no more needs a “national productivity strategy” than a country needs a “national prepare-evening-meals-for-the-family strategy,” a “national take-the-kids-to-visit-the-grandparents strategy,” or a “national dating-for-singles strategy.”

A politician “doing something” about the economy is like a dumb sitcom dad swinging a sledgehammer around inside the house to kill a fly. He may very well kill it, and confidently declare so, yet ignore all of the holes he left in the walls.

When an English-Speaking German Band Does a Song in Japanese

I’ve been listening to Deadlock a lot lately, since they had released a double-CD album of re-recorded or unreleased, etc., songs—an album that passed my attention on its release date. One of the songs, “Earthlings,” is from a past Japanese market release of Bizarro World. If the Japanese isn’t apparent to you during the verses (it wasn’t to me), it will be during the actual singing.

Some comment gold:

ai no kotoba mou oboete(愛の言葉もう覚えて)
jigou jitoku(自業自得)
mi kara deta sabi(身から出た錆)
ningen no neru dokuji no toki(人間の寝る、独自の時)
sakushi shita kaibutu(錯視した怪物)
watashi wa anata ga ashita wo iki nokoranai(私は貴方が明日を生き残らない)

This japanese lyrics. . .Sentence is make zero sense.

A Computer Programmer Prepares For Death

“A Protocol for Dying”:

Time for my last article. I could probably write more, yet there are times for everything and after this, my attention will be focused on the most comfortable position for my bed, the schedule for pain killers, and the people around me.

….

And so I’m proud of my real work, which has been for decades, to talk with people, listen and exchange knowledge, and then synthesize this and provide it on for others. I’ll take whatever credit people want to give me for being creative, brilliant, etc. Yet the models and theories I’ve shaped and documented are consistently drawn from real-life experience with other people.

Thank you, my friends, for that. When I say “I love you” it’s not some gesture. You literally kept me fed, professionally and intellectually.

So I wanted to document one last model, which is how to die, given some upfront knowledge and time. I’m not going to write an RFC this time. 🙂

Geez.

The Shell Game

Donald Boudreaux elaborates on a reader’s letter regarding minimum wage:

Although the economic outcome of minimum wages would be unchanged if the enforcement were imposed directly on workers rather than on employers, the true nature of minimum wages would be made clearer if enforcement were imposed directly on workers. The reason is that the minimum wage is targeted chiefly against workers, not employers. Save when employers have monopsony power in the labor market – a situation that no sensible person believes is remotely the reality in modern-day America – minimum-wage legislation raises the pay of some workers only by casting other workers out of jobs (or, more generally, only by reducing the employment prospects of other workers).

The best bureaucrat isn’t one who just “crafts policy,” but one who is creative enough to obfuscate the real effects of policy. It’s difficult to be upset with what you don’t see—i.e., job opportunities that never materialize—than what is readily perceived.

My First Hackathon

I typed away at my first hackathon ever a few weeks ago: PNC’s APIFest. My team and I stayed up all night, eating any kind of computer geek food they threw at us and plugging away. Our idea was very UI-heavy, so I had plenty of work to do. I got maybe 20 total minutes of sleep after I finished. We made it to the final round of judging—one of nine teams did, out of 38 total teams that participated. We didn’t place for any prizes but it was good to make it that far, at least. It was also nice to concentrate on making something without having to deal with externalities a corporate project workflow can bring.

Pittsburgh Business Times covered the hackathon here: Inside PNC’s first hackathon as staffers create apps for customer, internal use. Sometimes I hit a paywall when I try to read the full article (a block that a good hackathon could address).

The Quickest Way to Access Basic Computer Information in Windows 10

Another public service announcement type of post.

1. Press the Windows + E keys to launch File Explorer:

windows_e_keys

2. Click inside the locator bar, type or copy/paste the following path, then press enter:
Control Panel\System and Security\System

file_explorer_locator

3. The System info section inside the Control Panel will be shown:

windows_10_basic_info

Of course, this is only the quickest (maybe) if you’re on this page and can copy/paste that path directly.

It took me 3 or 4 clicks on Google search results to find this, and the actual Microsoft help pages were not helpful. I had to schlep through a Youtube video to find this out.

Natural and Supernatural Co-Location

Ed talks about where here is in relation to the supernatural domain:

With rare exception, all of the Christians I’ve ever met ascribe to some version “Heaven” as somewhere different from here and now. But it seems most of the time a mere idea. It’s not part of their calculus of life. They act as if it’s not real; they talk and write and construct a whole framework that denies it. This denial is pervasive. The belief is not a truth, but a mere fact for them, and has precious little effect on how they operate. It’s always out there somewhere and they aren’t striving to connect directly. It’s an orthodoxy without faith.

I can recall a session in the NATO chapel with a bunch of teenagers from those military families in the chapel. I tried to convey the concept of our universe as a mere bubble with distinct boundaries and a distinct lifespan existing within a broader existence that has no such boundaries. I used a lot of jargon common to science fiction from those days. I suppose some of them got it, because you could see the proverbial light bulb flash on their faces. But these were kids just a few years from legal adulthood. Why was this so new to them?

I had always considered it similar to how Ed does, though I can’t trace the reasons how that came to be. As he mentioned, it seems to be the favorite basic idea behind many a science-fiction universe premise, though in most cases if the supernatural can be reached through advanced mechanics, it’s not really the supernatural but another level of the physical domain. The “Outside” from the Ender series is a good example of this, though I think there may have been a non-natural factor needed to access it.

Other works play on the co-location idea, but add an element of sound. C.S. Lewis in his space trilogy mentioned our universe existing as a level of vibration, and Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings cosmology involves the singing of angelic beings as the primary force in the creation of Eä—and remember what happened when a hobbit put on the One Ring? Of course, there’s also New Age explanations that borrow this concept of co-located domains of existence.

Maybe the best starting place is drawing some analogous truths between our domain vs the supernatural domain lies in the phenomenon of embryonic gestation and the natal process. I have some ideas that came from that, but that’s a post for another day.

Multiculturalism Doesn’t Exist

I mean, multiculturalism does exist, and has always existed. The earth has many cultures. This is self-evident. Yet, multiculturalism doesn’t exist in the way some may think it does.

A story from my Facebook days. Friend Y posted about their job at X. One night, a Muslim man and his wife came in. The man began to pray in the obvious way that some Muslims are wont to do—the way that could make non-Muslims in the area (most everyone else) uncomfortable, or at least very distracting to the general retail public.

I don’t remember the outcome of the situation, whether Y prevailed in restoring some kind of order or if the Muslim man prayed it up until satisfied. Though, like Clock Boy, it seemed an obvious ploy to generate a lawsuit of some kind. Whatever the outcome, the situation is a simplified microcosm of what’s currently thought of as multiculturalism. It doesn’t exist because one culture will always prevail over the other in a given physical space. Worded another way, tautologically: multiculturalism doesn’t exist, because it doesn’t exist. Multiculturalism becomes, paradoxically, a monoculture.

To complicate it further: when it does exist, it really doesn’t. When populations of differing cultures are thrown together in the same geographic area by bureaucratic diktat, the prospect of monetary or material gain, or random happenstance, the cultures eventually separate of their own accord, much in the same way families segregate from other families, by degrees. This is why in America we have things like Chinatown, Little Italy, Spanish Harlem, Irish Boston, the Pennsylvania Dutch, Creole New Orleans, one country from another country, or my house vs. the neighbors’ house. It’s the natural way humans seem to arrange themselves. Yes, cultural syncretism happens, but it’s a long, complicated, de-centralized process that no one group can plan out. It happens when it happens.

This self-segregation (also known as “organizing our own lives and forming associations”) happens no matter how many times the forced association of multiculturalism surges into interactions, though if this forced association continues, things can get ugly. It’s not anyone’s fault except those of us who are holding the gun and making demands that everyone “just be cool” with everyone else. The rub of it is, is that everyone is cool with everyone else, but it has to be on their own terms, not on the whims of a third party playing chess with other people’s lives.

To consider it another way: anyone who finds value in having different cultures should have nothing to do with modern multiculturalism. Pitting one culture against another for the same space is just assuring one culture will lose out.

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