what's been floating my boat lately:
  • being a dad
  • this old house



    "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-

    6/12/17 (19:44)

  • started watching people vs. oj simpson. production and acting issues aside it brings up the whole time and case nicely in a long format. it was a pretty great time to grow up in la because in a 10 year span you had NWA, the riots, OJ, RATM, and just a general sense of change, unrest, etc. interesting times. the story brings up a lot of social issues like race and problems with the criminal justice system and the LAPD and gender and the media 24hr news cycle.
  • according to at least one study the total compensation going to employees has been consistent from 1970 to today. this flies in the face of the typical narrative that wages have stagnated. i guess the issue there is that one is comparing wages and the other is comparing total compensation. it seems the latter is a better measure for seeing how workers are being treated.
  • there was a podcast that looked at the different things you could tell about people/society based upon all this search engine data that was gathered. one thing they found is that racist searches ("obama nigger" for example) spiked after his inauguration. they also found that it was regional, but not a north/south divide as you'd expect. it was actually a west/east divide with the east searching for those terms at a higher rate than the west.
  • there's this segment at the end of an otherwise average (at least when i first watched it) jason statham movie that has always stuck with me. it's all about the power of the ego. been thinking about this lately because it seems that more and more people are viewing their lives and what happens in the world through a very selfish lens. even ostensibly selfless movements that should be about understanding where other people are coming from seem to be trapped in their view of the world and unable to do what they are asking others to do; namely to suspend their own ego and view/experience of the world and imagine what it's like to live life like they do. these very same people are just as guilty of viewing the world from their own point of view solely.
  • one interpretation of what's happening with trump is that the deep state is seeking to get rid of him because he's too dangerous to the status quo. i don't subscribe to this point of view which seems mostly held by largely paranoid largely white men who are deeply suspicious of the government. i can understand the sentiment, though. finally they get a person in office who represents their views. as an aside i should mention that these people largely vote republican, but aren't bush style republicans. they distrust govt., want less of it, hated bush for overspending and expanding the govt., thought he was just another puppet and part of the ruling class. anyway, these people finally get an outsider in charge and of course the media is against him, comey is against him, leaks are happening left and right, etc. and you can understand the point of view of those who don't trust the govt. in fact, i relate to that more than the point of view that says the govt. is good and should be given more power. after all, what has our govt. done when given power? gulf of tonkin, manzanar, tuskegee experiments, cia and crack connection, failed housing projects like pruitt igoe, atomic bomb being dropped twice (second one a few days later...just for the hell of it?), mk ultra, trumped up reasons for invading iraq, etc. it's no stretch to believe that a government capable of that is capable of taking out JFK by force or trump by scandal. i don't buy it, but i wouldn't rule it out.
  • the tom clancy-esque interpretation of that is that maybe there is a deep state that is bigger than the presidency and congress and that it checks the visible govt. so maybe that's a good thing and not a sinister, deeply troubling thing.
  • the comey firing is clearly problematic. trump appears to think that the president is more like a king who can do whatever he wants and that the other branches and checks/balances are just pesky obstacles. part of the reason i think a president moderates once he takes power is because he quickly realizes that reality won't allow him to do what he campaigned for. this is all by design and i think it's one of the best things about our system. of course this deliberate form of governing is a double edged sword that can be infuriating when you'd like to get healthcare reformed asap. but it's the thing that separates us from some other forms of govt. that are more prone to fascist takeovers. not saying we're immune to it, but when people said that trump was hitler or mussolini i have a couple reactions, even now: show me where he's been as extreme as calling for mass genocide or anything on the scale of hitler. he just hasn't, so maybe he's more like mussolini. but even then trump can only hope to be like mussolini because he exists in a much more stable governmental system. it takes a lot more to unpack our system than it did for hitler after the reichstag fire, for example.
  • what things are considered rights these days? i feel like it used to be pretty simple: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. but i think every generation adds something to the list of rights. right to be called your preferred gender, right to healthcare, right to privacy, and a bunch that the UN has added more recently: right to own property, right to free education, right to internet access... some of these i agree with as being basic human rights. others, not so much. i think that with rights come responsibilities and that always seems to get short shrift. if you have the right to own property then perhaps you have the responsibility to maintain it as well. a lot of the more recent additions seem to be about getting stuff for free. and when you're talking about free education and free healthcare it sounds great. but the truth of life is that nothing is free, so what does that really mean? it means that someone has to pay someone else to give you the things that are now your rights. so, the government has gone from ensuring a legal and political framework to ensure freedom from persecution and freedom of movement, to a mechanism for providing you with services.
  • there was a woman on the tell me something i don't know podcast who plays the saw (just a regular wood saw) for a living. she said that in NYC you can't play a saw on the street because they consider it a weapon. i just have to wonder what the point is of these petty crime laws. another NYC law comes to mind which ended up leading to the death of eric garner. i can't help but think that there are too many laws.
  • obama got in trouble for not having a cohesive foreign policy doctrine. i think you can pretty much say the same about trump.

  • 6/5/17 (19:49)
  • zoe's birthday coming round the bend. she's such a big kid now.
  • i wish i had the energy to write about it more, but suffice it to say that our criminal justice system is seriously fucked up and badly in need of reform. i'm all for locking up the bad guys, but young kids making dumb mistakes having the book thrown at them is retarded. the gender gap is crazy. the race and socio-economic gaps are crazy. the punishment over reform or rehabilitation issue is real and bad news for all involved. the solitary confinement issue is crazy. the fact that something like 90% of defendants plead guilty almost immediately is crazy. there's just so much wrong with it. like several of our government institutions i think it pretty much just needs to be blown up and redone.
  • there seems to a lack of center right media right now. WSJ, national review...not much out there that's intellectually honest and right of center. instead you get ayn rand, conspiracy theories, hysteria, etc. stuff like wnd.com, alex jones, fox news, breitbart, etc. it's really unfortunate because i think the democrats are pretty awful and being overrun by some bad policies and bad wings of the party. it's also bad because we almost have a party vacuum in the country when it comes to being a reasonable person. in many cases it's pretty hard to justify voting for a republican because the party is so nuts. so what people do instead is they go with the lesser of two evils in the democratic party. this is an understandable compromise, but i can't help but think that if the republicans got their house in order there could be an honest debate about the role of government and an honest competition of ideas.
  • instead we have this. the democrats only need to be on the right side of some key issues and project themselves as the reasonable party and they dominate the intellectual class in our society. so, they own (ideologically speaking) the media and academia which basically mutes much decent debate coming from the right. instead, in intellectual circles, we get a pretty massive circle jerk and discussion on which of the leftist ideas is best suited to solve our problems. anything right of center is quickly derided and rejected out of hand in the mainstream. this isn't to say that there aren't decent left-leaning thought centers like the atlantic or the economist. there are definitely fair intellectuals on the left, but they outnumber the center right academics and media outlets about 9:1.
  • basically i wish the republican party were a lot better because i think it would force the democrats to get better. the republicans have no moral high ground to call the democrats to task when the democrats do something wrong. republicans can't really say shit to the democrats because everyone will (rightly) point out how fucked up the republicans are and that argument works for a lot of people. of course it shouldn't. if the democrats fuck up it shouldn't matter if hitler comes back to life to point out how they fucked up, so long as he's right about his indictment of the party/person in question.
  • dropping out of the paris accord was no surprise. not a lot of political blowback that trump or the republicans are going to get so it makes sense. plus, there's plenty about the accord that isn't all that great. it puts a lot of the onus on developed nations while more polluting countries like india and china doesn't have to reduce co2 until 2030, russia gets to pollute 40% more, developed nations pay undeveloped nations to develop their renewable infrastructure, and there's little to no accountability. so, i think most people would agree that it's not some paragon of climate change action. i think the best that can be said for it is that it creates a framework to build off of in the future and the u.s. dropping out kinda hurts that. but honestly i think this issue is an example of what i'm talking about above. if you look at what the paris accord does and doesn't do then you realize it's extremely mushy. there aren't any actual rules or accountability. there's a wealth transfer to help the developing countries get greener. but it's a pretty weak agreement. as npr put it "The Paris Accord defines shared goals: most significantly, a global goal of allowing the world to warm by less than 2 degrees Celsius (about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Each country also sets voluntary targets for reducing its carbon emissions. But the agreement leaves it up to each nation how exactly to meet that goal. So abiding by the Paris Accord isn't a matter of following specific rules or regulations just about contributing, in one way or another, to substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions."
  • as i mentioned before, though, the federal government is growing less and less relevant all the time. soon after trump dropped out of the paris accord 200+ mayors, 12 states, corporations (like apple, google, target, etc.), and 170+ university presidents decided they would pledge their support to it. so, as the founders intended, the states and local governments are doing that which the federal government can't or won't. then again, pledging to do something without any infrastructure for accountability is pretty easy to do and low hanging fruit for these politicians. they say "look at me, mayor of SF or LA, I'm really interested in the environment and Trump sucks so I'm going to uphold the Paris accord pledge (but don't ask me what that means because it's an empty promise with no mechanism for determining if we've done what I've pledged)."
  • another example of the federal government being phased out is nasa and space x.
  • why is it legal for car insurance companies to charge higher rates to teenage boys? neither of those attributes is something they can change about themselves. well, i guess these days you can change your gender and maybe that would be a smart economic strategy for avoiding the increased rate, but i won't get into that. the answer is that teen boys are more likely to get in trouble with reckless driving, DUIs, etc. so, we tolerate this and i've actually never heard a single person ever remark that this is a fucked up practice or sexist or anything. but if you apply the same logic to a variety of other scenarios then you can begin to see that either it's a problematic rationale or we're unfairly applying this fine rationale to one group in this example. i remember when they made it illegal in CA to charge women more for a haircut. makes total sense to outlaw this. it should be based upon length of hair and difficulty of styling. i don't know why they have a flat rate at all, to be honest. if you come in and you want some crazy hair style with a lot of layering then it might take me 90 minutes to cut and style vs. a simple bob or something which could take half that time.
  • what happens if we find out that hispanic women are shitty cooks and burn down their homes when deep frying corn tortillas at twice the rate of white families? increase their home insurance? what if people from TN deep fry turkeys 500% more than people from GA and that leads to 25% more house fires as a result? increased home insurance rates for TN homeowners?
  • this american life had an episode about the effects of testosterone on behavior and one of the things they found is that it leads to increased risk taking. maybe the car insurance companies are on the right track, but they should base it on T levels. mandatory testosterone level testing before getting life insurance, car insurance, etc. those with high T levels pay more because science has proven a link to high T levels and risky behavior. social science has further correlated high T levels (as presented in men) with higher risk of totaling your car. if evenly applied all this reasoning leads to a lot of difficult scenarios that i don't think people are really interested in exploring in this political environment.
  • isolationism is just another way of saying non-intervention. not sure why political scientists settled on isolationism, but i think non interventionism is more accurate and less negative. isolationism isn't actually a thing and never has been. plenty of presidents and thinkers have been against the u.s. getting involved in foreign entanglements and been called isolationists. but did they want to cut off trade with the world as well? did they also want to reduce immigration to zero? most so-called "isolationists" i know today actually just want the u.s. to stop meddling in the affairs of other countries.
  • obamacare was healthcare. ahca seems to be about health insurance. the difference is this: obama had prevention, birth control and other healthcare measures in it. fundamentally it was about (theoretically) providing healthcare for as many americans as possible. the republican alternative (ahca) is about health insurance in the same way as car insurance is about driving. it's a dam against a catastrophic event putting you into bankruptcy. for healthcare you have look for yourself. the ahca isn't about making sure you can see a doctor on a regular basis. to follow the car analogy...obamacare is about providing oil changes, regular maintenance and a backstop against major repairs leading to financial ruin. the republican alternative is about making sure that if you get in an accident you won't be financially ruined. it limits the scope drastically because that's their point of view. government can help you not get ruined in case something bad happens, but it's not responsible for making sure you go to the doctor for your checkups, etc.
  • while i understand that distinction i have to say i'm more in the obama camp on this one. i think that providing some measure of preventative care is good and useful for society. simply providing a financial backstop (health insurance) isn't enough in a modern economy. so, this is an example of an argument that is basically lost in the mainstream media. the argument seems to be "republicans are taking away health insurance from 20 million americans and the CBO hates their plan; they're evil." the argument, fundamentally, is about the role of government. do you think that it should provide healthcare for as many as possible or do you think individuals should take care of their own healthcare while the government provides a framework for insurance that won't take advantage (lifetime limits, pre-existing conditions nonsense, etc.) of you? of course in both those instances there are a thousand details that could wreck the whole thing, but that's the argument at its core.


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