what's been floating my boat lately:

"How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don't think."
"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
-Albert Einstein-

4/17/18 (22:23)

  • working on updating my movies pages. lots of backlog.

  • 4/4/18 (19:16)

  • not my fault, but it is my problem.
  • one of the cool things about malcolm x was how he handled the cards he was dealt. he'd fight racism, but he'd also use it to his advantage. i remember in his autobiography he mentioned a couple times that some whites would think less of him because of his color and he'd use those low expectations against them. using the racism against the racist.
  • i find myself writing a lot about conservative positions on here the last couple years. there are a couple reasons for this.
  • 1. i've always been pretty liberal so, rather than writing about the same stuff over and over again, i find it more interesting to explore the other side of the coin.
  • 2. i assume i have mostly pretty liberal readers so preaching to the choir is fairly uninteresting for all involved.
  • 3. i've become more conservative (relative to society) over time. economically this is definitely true and is because of exposure to new ideas and the realities of owning my own business and seeing the economy through a new lens. here's my progression over the last few years:

  • 4. i think it's especially important now to understand what other people are thinking and where they're coming from. i also think it's important to have almost religious integrity on these issues or else you're (in my mind) just another partisan. i really respect the people who can call balls and strikes these days - people who can be honest about the fact that someone on the other side of an issue may have a good point or that maybe my data on an issue isn't as solid as i thought.
  • without understanding i really think we can't have opinions on the issues of the day. but politics are one of the few areas where we feel entitled to an opinion regardless of our expertise. no reasonable people are going to walk into a room and say i think we should kill all the wolves in yellowstone and start feeding the bears meat at feeding stations. because they realize that they're not wildlife biologists. reasonable people are more likely to see what a ranger or wildlife biologist thinks and then form an opinion after that. but everyone feels entitled to give their opinion on policy decisions. regardless of what rights it may take away from law abiding people, regardless of the economic consequences (which they aren't even aware of), etc. this is annoying, but this is what it is.
  • a big part of understanding is listening. i like this podcast which provides a bit of a template for this (novel) concept. the host isn't exactly my kind of guy he's a bit (as he puts sometimes puts it) "snowflakey" and i don't agree with him on plenty of things, but it's a good podcast with a good template for finding common ground or, at least, having a civil discussion.
  • i was listening to the 538 podcast the other day and an academic was relaying his findings on some social study. within a 30 second period (i went back and counted) he said "sort of" a total of 4 times, "kind of" a total of 2 times,' and "like" a total of 10 times. in 30 seconds this is a true accomplishment in hedging and waffling. by the time he was done talking about his findings it was pretty hard to think there was any sort of certainty in his research. if every other word out of your mouth is a hedge against what you're about to say then it doesn't instill much confidence. we kinda found that some people sorta didn't prefer voting for like democrats because they like were unsure that they like were going to like kinda stick up for the country in times of sorta war or like armed conflict.
  • after the parkland shooting one of the things that got a bit of press is that FL legislators were working on a bill to treat porn like a public health risk. as the wapo put it "Florida House refuses to debate guns, declares porn dangerous." this got laughs and headshakes on the left. i agree that they should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. however, that wasn't really the argument that was being put forward. a lot of people seemed to think it was just a ridiculous notion that porn should be considered at all bad, or worthy of discussion (Democratic Rep. Smith from FL called it a waste of time, for example). what this headline and general assertion signals to right thinking liberals and democrats is that the puritanical republicans are at it again. unfortunately it's divorced from reality. i looked at some of the bill text and it's really not all that controversial. i'd actually argue it's something many people would support if they considered the subject for half a second and thought about it beyond just the headline that the WaPo put out there. and, actually, i'm more concerned about the affect of porn on my kids than i am on the affect of guns. and it's not even close. percent of kids killed by guns: .0017% (1,300/74.2 million). percent of kids exposed to porn who may need some context, education, or increased prevention to decrease or forestall inevitable exposure: 90% (my guess).
  • a majority of pro-life activists are women. kinda flies in the face of the argument that men are trying to run women's lives. interesting finding that has held true since a study in 1981 (at least). they're also mostly white and (not surprisingly) religious.
  • i listen to a lot of podcasts. last month i listened to almost 8 days worth of content. i have a great app (podcast addict) that skips all the silences and i listen to everything at 1.3 speed. i wish people in real life spoke that fast.
  • hispanic and native american women are more likely to be in college than white men, and black women are equally likely as white men. facts sometimes make it difficult to believe in a patriarchy, but i'll keep trying.
  • the cambridge analytical scandal was big news for a bit. it sorta became a facebook scandal. from the research i've done the story is basically that facebook setup their contracts to allow people to use the data for research, but not commercial purposes. they never really followed up on this to make sure this is what was happening. that data was "acquired by CA" and there may be a scandal or wrongdoing in the acquisition. i don't think facebook is to blame, per se. i'm not on FB so i don't have a dog in this race. at the alumni house we had a meeting once that was very much along the lines of what CA was doing. basically we hired a firm to get data on a bunch of alumni. the firm would group these people in these categories with silly names that i can't remember like "outdoorsy with money" and a bunch of others. that data was gleaned from purchase habits and magazine subscriptions so it's not as good as the FB data, but this was several years ago. the CA stuff is just a progression of the exact same stuff.
  • i think this became a scandal because trump was sorta involved in this because he used CA to help him in key states. first of all, what CA was doing wasn't all that revolutionary. second, if it was then why didn't it work for ted cruz, who also hired CA? hillary, obama and others have used similar data...this is just the natural progression, and the only bad part of this is how CA acquired the data (without direct consent).
  • if you care about your privacy then you really shouldn't be on FB and you should try to get your friends to leave FB as well. FB probably knows a lot about me because meryl mentions me (i assume) and so they've already got data on me.
  • the more i learn about the economy the more i have a hard time viewing things as simplistically as i once did. i used to be more susceptible to looking at private equity firms like mitt romney's as bad news all around. they come in, fire a bunch of people, and then leave with a bunch of profits. evil! then you realize that big pensions rely heavily on investments in, among other things, private equity firms. pensions for public employees, unions, etc. so, maybe now you can't think of them as quite so evil. the other social good they perform is to take marginal or failing firms and make them stronger. it's not pleasant, but it's a fact that sometimes a big company needs to fire 5% of its work force to stay viable and save the other 95%. is it better for a company to stay marginally profitable until a crisis occurs and then go out of business (thereby firing 100% of its workforce) or to fire 5% of its workforce in order to stay competitive and stable for the long term? should people with the ability to make these strategic decisions do the work for free? is there a value to the work they provide?
  • in the abstract it's clear to me that private equity firms can have a very favorable effect on society and the economy. in practice that's sometimes painful and sometimes it comes with excess profits to people like romney, but let's not paint with such a broad brush.
  • doesn't seem like there are a lot of principles in politics. maybe it's always been this bad, don't know. it really kills me to see the same people/parties on both sides of an argument as it suits their interests. there are a million examples of the hypocrisy exhibited by democrats and republicans (and those who vote for them). remember when romney was derided for calling russia the number one foreign policy threat in his debate with obama? now what do democrats think about russia? is anyone apologizing for getting that wrong?
  • from atlantic...germany on abortion: "women seeking first-trimester abortions are subject to a mandatory three-day waiting period and a counseling session. Abortions after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy are forbidden except in cases of grave threat to the mother's physical or mental health."
  • finland on abortion: " abortion is available up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, unless the woman is under 17 years old, in which case she may have an abortion until she's 20 weeks pregnant. But even for early abortions, women must provide a "social reason" for seeking to terminate her pregnancy, such as poverty, extreme distress, or already having at least four children. While in practice most abortion requests are granted, it still forces women to prove to an authority the validity of their desire not to have a baby"
  • denmark on abortion: "abortion is available on demand up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. Afterward, exceptions are made for cases of rape, threats to the woman's physical or mental health, risk of fetal defects, and -- revealingly -- in cases where the woman can demonstrate lack of financial resources to care for a child."



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