kaizen
what's been floating my boat lately:
  • not being dead
  • Dusty Springfield

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

    9/25/20 (21:39)

  • I don't relisten to many podcasts (though I have almost 200 saved for posterity), but I listened to the Carlin podcast again. I think he does a good job of articulating a position that I very much agree with. As stated below, he's a non-partisan guy by nature and I relate a lot. It's really disappointing to see where we are as a society right now. I think a lot of people understand it as a political problem, but I disagree. I believe Steve Bannon (for all this faults) is a pretty smart guy on some things and he really nailed the fact that politics is downstream from culture. You can't change the political institutions or policies or obscure senate rules and expect society to change. It has to be the other way around.
  • I should probably rewatch "Adaptation." I remember thinking it was all about selling out when I watched it. As I get older, though, I see the wisdom in being able to change your mind. I've changed my position on many things. If you haven't changed your mind on big things what does that say about you? 1) You got it all perfectly correct right out of the womb (congrats). 2) You're in the wrong on some things and unable to change.
  • It's no surprise that Christians raise Christians. Democrats raise Democrats. etc. etc. So, if you're one of those people (like I once was to some extent) who takes some pride in not changing (a tree in a windstorm, to be generous), then perhaps it's time to rethink some things.
  • A lot of the people I've encountered who dislike guns the most are the people who have hardly even seen one in real life. Not sure if I've gone over this before... But if there's something you don't have any real experience with and you want to ban people from having it, then maybe you need to rethink things. This is another in a line of things that I wrote about in the last post - people who want to tell you how to live your life because they know what's good for you. They want to tell you what wage you can work for. They want to tell you how you can live. They want to tell you that guns aren't good for you. They want to tell you drugs aren't good for you. I've been pretty staunchly anti-drugs for my entire life. It's something I haven't changed on, but I have changed in that I think people should get enough rope to hang themselves. It's your choice if you want to go down the path of having drugs in your life. Maybe you can keep it under wraps and maybe you can't. Maybe you can take care of a firearm yourself and maybe you can't. But the option should be yours (given a few basic hurdles like age requirements, licensing, maybe a mandatory class, etc.).
  • Been working on this large fencing job near a storage space in Oakland. It's right next to the railroad tracks and I've been out there several times to repair various units that have been broken into (most likely by homeless/drug addicts). The company is finally taking out the chain link fencing and putting in expanded metal along the whole thing. 650' of fencing that we took out and are going through to put in new stuff. A homeless guy tried to walk off with some of my tools while we were out there working. Another homeless chick walked by and looked totally wrecked. Track marks, skin all fucked up, etc. So, maybe, just like Republicans want women getting an abortion to watch a video first, we should make people who want to do drugs watch a video of people like that.
  • The biggest emotion that came through in Carlin's podcast was that of disappointment. It's just really disappointing to see people, and society at large, making bonehead decisions. This isn't difficult stuff like the ban the box policy passed by Obama that backfired. No unintended consequences here. This is basic shit. Depressing.
  • Looks like we're going to have another Catholic on the SCOTUS. 7 Catholics and 2 Jews. This used to be a major cleavage in US society. JFK being Catholic was a big deal. Now Catholics run the SCOTUS. Race and gender are the cleavages of today I guess. Maybe that's encouraging? What will the cleavages be in 20 years? Furries? Polygamists? Amy Coney Barrett would be the only one on the court who didn't go to Yale or Harvard (I think I have that right...they've all been to one of two Ivy Leagues). So there's some diversity there at least. And she has a vagina so that's a plus!
  • We really need to stop ratcheting up the Israelis vs. Palestinians type stuff here. Nothing good is going to come from packing the court or refusing to concede an election or any number of things. Who are the leaders in our country who are acting to unify? Who is out there trying to de-escalate? Whoever it is doesn't get nearly as much press coverage as all the other blowhards. Again, the media amplifying the worst and making the problem worse.
  • Breonna Taylor cops weren't indicted was the headline I saw. But it turns out one was, but not for her killing. Each one of these cases has its own subtleties. The Taylor one I think is less about race or class than some of the others are potentially. To me it highlights a systems failure. Atul Gawande is famous for coming up with a checklist for surgeons so that they don't forget to sew up organs, scrub before surgery, remove instruments, or whatever. People are human and we miss things. Where life and death are involved you need to increase friction. Increase the amount of time it takes to get things done. Introduce checklists and redundancies. When it comes to making money and getting shit done, you want to decrease friction. But it makes sense to me that there should be a lot of talk and bureaucracy (something I'm generally against, but it has its advantages when the stakes are life/death) and checklist type stuff before a no knock raid where guns are going to be in the mix. Get all the officers on the same page. Talk to everyone involved. Go down the checklist and make sure nothing is missed. This is government use of force against its citizens...there should be some deliberation and time taken to ensure innocent lives aren't lost.
  • In a perfect world the federal government would have people who analyze best practices and disseminate that information to all local authorities. They wouldn't necessarily be mandatory, but a list of suggested practices in a variety of situations. This could be applied from everything to policing to nutritional programs or housing policies or procurement policies. Theoretically the government could draw from academics, local authorities, etc. and synthesize all this into a pretty good list on any given topic. They've done this on restoration of old buildings because contractors working in historic homes need to be on the same page when doing the work.
  • Another thing that comes up in some of these shootings is the question "why do the cops need to shoot a person 10 times?" This is a question of ignorance and there's nothing wrong with that as long as it's asked from a place of curious ignorance, as opposed to accusation. The reason is that a lot of times people are shot a few time and they're still able to get rounds off. Cops are trained to shoot until the threat is neutralized, and I think that makes perfect sense. 1) you should only shoot if someone's life is on the line 2) keep shooting until they're not a threat anymore. You don't shoot once in the leg and wait to see if the person stops shooting back at you. That's Hollywood stuff. Check out some Active Self Protection videos to get a feel for what cops deal with. Seen a couple videos there where someone is shot, but still gets off rounds.
  • The left is like feathers blowing around. The right is like a weight keeping everything from moving around too much. Enough feathers moving in the same direction and the weight moves. Need both.
  • This video nails it. This ties into the horseshoe theory of the extremes. Farther you go towards the extreme end of the horseshoe, the closer you get to the other extreme.
  • Does the criminal justice system treat African-Americans fairly?
  • Listened to the Firm recently. Book practically made for film. Fluffy.
  • Listened to Death Of Ivan Ilyich the other day. Ikiru-esque, which is high praise. I think I'll need to listen to it again now that I know where it was going. Good book.
  • Listened to Art of War. Quick one. Good wisdom. Don't destroy your enemy or make him desperate. Keep the army intact (could have used that in Iraq, but we disbanded the army. oops). Know your enemy (another Iraq failure). Another piece of wisdom is essentially that you should try not to lose first and then try to win. This has been a life strategy of mine. Similar to the black swan idea that you want to stay in the game. The most important thing is to stay in the game.
  • A common retort to conservatives who are anti-government is "Well, you like the military so you're not against all government. Maybe we should just make Welfare (or whatever) as good as the military and then you'd like it." Sounded nice when I first heard it and I may have even tried it on some conservatives. Problem is that the military isn't all that good either. War is awful and difficult so you can't exactly compare it to the DMV where all variables are pretty well accounted for, but still...our military has a lot of waste and a lot of pretty basic failures even in recent history.
  • Be skeptical of the smart people telling you they have the answers. We probably need more technocrats, but I think they don't know nearly as much as they think.
  • Dolly Parton's Joshua is very similar to Johnny Cash's Boy Named Sue. Boy Named Sue was written by Shel Silverstein and was inspired by Jean Shepherd who wrote A Christmas Story.
  • Is Jolene Dolly Parton's best song?
  • Listening to Righteous Mind (Jonathan Haidt) now. I've listened to a lot of Haidt so some of it is old territory, but of course the book fleshes the ideas out more and sometimes that's nice. Other times it's just the author going over five examples of/stories that illustrate the same concept. One example of confirmation bias that he relates is a study where subjects were given a set of 3 numbers (2, 4, 6) and they could submit their own 3 numbers to see if they conformed to the pattern. People generally would ask other 3 digit sequences like 24, 26, 28 and the researcher would say "yes" to indicate that the 3 digit sequence conformed to the rule the researcher had in mind. Then they might ask if 11, 13, 15 worked and the researcher would say it did. So, most subjects would stop there and pronounce that the pattern was 3 numbers separated by 2. What people tended to not do is present a sequence that might refute their hypothesis like 55, 56, 57 or 33, 31, 34. The first sequence conforms and the second does not. The actual rule is any 3 numbers that are in ascending order.
  • It's an interesting little study, but I found it interesting because it's a lot like race/class in our culture right now. As I wrote the other day. We see a lot of Black people being shot or whatever it is in the news this week and we are seeing that familiar 2, 4, 6 pattern. We think we know what we're seeing. And we're not wrong, but we're not totally right either. There are lot of 3 digit sequences that fit the pattern most people had in mind, but there are even more sequences that fit the real pattern that is occurring. The more true pattern is that poor people are being shot by cops.
  • So, whenever the media or so-called experts talk about some way in which Blacks are being oppressed, etc. ask yourself if it's unique to them or if it's even more true of men or poor people or perhaps something else. In many cases I've found that that's the case. Race gets you partly there, but mostly because of the find and replace that happened with Blacks in America.
  • Another thing you can look at, if racism is your concern, is Black immigrants. If racism (that is, hate of black skin) is the primary driver of these problems then you would expect similar outcomes for Black immigrants and native born Blacks. You would have to control for age (immigrants tend to be younger, but so do Black people, relative to White Americans). You would also want to control for immigrants relative to the native population. Immigrants tend to earn less overall (in part because of age, but maybe also because they don't have the same resources, are working their way up the ladder, etc.). But, just looking at the raw numbers, it's pretty clear that Black immigrants are doing better than native born Blacks. A couple sources (2) (3). "The Michigan State University study showed that black African immigrant men had earnings increases of 79 percent from 1990 to 2010, making an average of $45,343 in 2010. White men born in the United States earned an average of $49,478. Black men born in the United States earned just $24,000 in 2010, according to the study."
  • I've heard a lot of studies that find similar things, so I don't think it's a stretch to say that Black immigrants are doing quite a bit better (economically) than native born Blacks. It would be interesting to see incarceration rates of Black immigrants relative to native born Blacks as well. I would suspect it would be lower. This is all to point out that black skin, at the very least, doesn't tell the whole story. Perhaps racism against black skin is part of the equation, but it's clearly not explaining everything since you have 2+ million Black immigrants earning (on average) more than people who look the same, but were born here.
  • Again, the issue points back to longer running downstream effects of history (slavery, Jim Crow). I don't see much evidence that current hate of those with black skin is what's keeping Blacks down. So, the good news seems to be that racism isn't as bad as some would have us believe. The other good news is that, as far as I can tell, the laws are no longer racist. But as they say in Magnolia - we may be done with the past, but the past isn't done with us.
  • Not sure how we undo the knock on effects of slavery, but identifying that as the problem seems like the first step. If you think it's racist judges and cops and implicit bias then you're really not going to have the desired effect. It's like caulking around your windows when there's a hole in the roof. Not a bad idea, but not addressing the real issue either. Or maybe it's like worrying about your prostate cancer after you've just been shot in the stomach. Both can kill you, but which do you think is going to do the job first?
  • I think a lot of this cultural stuff could be solved if we lived around different people more. Not sure how to do this while retaining the first principle of people being able to choose where they live. Mixed zoning, incentives, different school funding method? Rich people go where good schools are. Good schools are where property tax income is high, it's kind of a loop. There just aren't enough people who will actively take their money to marginal neighborhoods in an effort to lift up the area. It's a disappointing reality that people talk about loving diversity and equity and all that, but their actions speak more loudly. Their kids go to private school, they live in the suburbs, they live in buildings with a door man, etc. It seems like most of the people who talk about this shit are limousine liberals with little to no real contact with poor people or POC.
  • My zip code demographics.
  • One thing I like about my job is that I get to see so many different people from different walks of life. I have a few buildings/customers I work for who are in pretty shitty areas. The trifecta is when you see a prostitute, syringe, and human shit on the street in the same day. Not an everyday occurrence, but it happens. I'll see at least one of those basically every day. Again, back to the experience issue I brought up with guns above...if you're not experiencing, in some way, a variety of walks of life, how are you qualified to legislate or judge anything relating to those people? Most city people have very little experience with rural people or their realities and vise versa (although city living is far more available through cultural texts so rural people probably have a better idea of what city dwellers go through than vise versa).
  • I've written before about examples like rural schools that have the occasional bear or other wildlife that visits. This is something most city folk wouldn't ever think about when deciding whether or not guns should be allowed at schools. City folk probably don't have on their radar that a lot of rural people supplement their diet with meat they hunt. Or they may not know anything about the problem that deer pose in some communities because natural predators are gone - so hunting is good way to keep the populations under control. I've lived in cities most of my life so there are no doubt many others that I don't know about.
  • I would like the next evolution in basketball to be using all 12 guys. Full court press, more defense. Most teams go 8-9 deep? Used to be 7-8 during the playoffs so I think they're moving in the right direction. Get stamina into the game more. If you get 4 turnovers a game on a full court press then that's 8 free points. That's gotta translate to making the playoffs or not for some bubble teams.

  • 9/22/20 (22:23)

  • There's a problem with certain people telling other people how to live their lives. Often it comes from a seemingly good place. Regulators will say you can't work for any less than $14.14/hr (in Oakland) for example. Or, you can't build a house with bedrooms smaller than 70 sq. ft. These are seemingly good things, but they have consequences. It raises the cost of living for those on the lowest end of the income spectrum. For people with little to no skill they are unlikely to get jobs. I've written before (8/7/18) about the fact that teenage employment is 30 percentage points lower than it was at its peak in the late 70s. Part of that could be that kids these days are lazy or working on extra curricular activities to try to get into college, but a bigger part of it is likely that the average employer doesn't want to hire a kid for a summer when they cost so much. A teen with little to no experience is really only going to be good with a broom or stocking supplies or something similar. Is it really worth paying that person $14.14/hr plus FICA taxes, UI, WC, and the cost of training? Businesses have clearly made the decision that it isn't. Hire someone with kids to feed, someone who is motivated, someone who already has the ability to show up on time and put in consistent effort. Training a kid from the bottom up is fine if you're paying them $50/day, but when you triple that it just doesn't pencil out in low margin businesses like fast food. At any rate, the issue I'm getting at is that good intentions don't matter much. Also, maybe it's better to hold off on telling other people how they should live.
  • One issue that comes up a lot is the issue ot intentionality. How much do intentions matter? If you buy into the Ibram X. Kendi binary then they don't matter. I think Chomsky has made a similar argument, but with regards to foreign policy. Kendi (I think) would say that if a policy has a racist effect then it is racist - regardless of intentions. I think there's a legal doctrine related to this and the Civil Right Act as well, IIRC. Something like if laws have a negative consequence for Blacks then they violate the act, regardless of intentions. One can understand this perspective to some extent. But I don't think it's wise to be too doctrinaire on this point. For example - Obama had a tax on tanning salons in part of his attempt to fund the ACA. This clearly is a tax on white people, so does that make it a racist policy? How about his ban the box initiative which had the unintended consequence of have fewer Blacks hired? Another racist policy? This is the downside of this "with us or against us" thinking that Bush espoused, the "racist or anti-racist" thinking that Kendi espouses...it's too binary. As our society gets more digital we seem to also be getting more binary. hmm.
  • Dan Carlin doesn't post much on his podcasts these days, but he's great and I keep subscribed to all of his stuff. He dropped a new podcast yesterday and it's one of his best. Usually he has 3-4 hour episodes about WW2 in his Hardcore History channel. Or he has thoughts about society in his Common Sense channel. This one was from Common Sense and you should probably check it out. Left me wanting to cry. He says a lot of the stuff I've been thinking. He hasn't voted R or D (for president) since 1992...something I can relate to since I haven't voted R or D ever. But, like him, I'm making an exception this year and voting for Biden. With Trump the threat is existential. We're in a very sad place right now. Probably will relisten to it tomorrow.
  • Working out and getting drunk are opposites. One is good for you, the other isn't. One makes you feel good while you're doing it, and sucks after. The other sucks while you're doing it and is good after.
  • Don't talk much about work or family lately. Kids are doing well despite all the bullshit. The remote learning stuff is basically just like a youtube playlist. About 90% of teachers could be fired. I think the 5 minutes of "personal attention" they are getting daily is borderline worthless. Could probably just have videos of the best teachers giving the best lessons and that would be better given the remote learning situation.
  • Alameda county is doing pretty well on the COVID front.
  • Work is pretty steady right now, but always worried about booking stuff for the future. Keeping 3 people busy is a lot harder than keeping 1 person busy. Especially when we don't have a major renovation going. We finally finished the major remodel we were doing in SF a few months ago. It took a year to get PG&E to install a new gas meter. The level of incompetence and delay in that organization is amazing. The project consisted of digging a trench about 40 feet long, tapping into the main supply (the hard part), installing the meter, and covering it all back up. I'm OQ 02-13 and OQ 05-07 certified now which means I can legally do trenching for this kind of work and let me tell you - there are a lot of rules, but it's not really a complicated thing - especially for this project. And yet, they were able to make it take a year. This is the kind of thing that should take 2-4 weeks in a functioning world.
  • Anyway, that project is complete and sold. Closes Friday. Between COVID, PG&E, and my inexperience, I think we either barely broke even or lost a little on the investment. It was a good learning experience. New foundation, lots of structural work, total gut job.
  • I like music as much as the next guy, but I find things get stuck in my head more than ever before. It kinda sucks. Maybe this is one reason I like more atonal stuff or ambient music - doesn't stick with me as much.
  • Work-wise I find that I don't really like doing the pretty work as much. I can get things looking pretty good and there's some satisfaction to it. But I'm a more practical person and people nit-picking over a grout line or a small imperfection in the drywall is just too grating for me. I don't like people also, so there's that. But picky people finding things wrong with natural pieces of wood or complaining about small imperfections just kills me. I'd much rather be the guy in the trenches clearing shit out of drains or troubleshooting electrical work or something. I have no problem getting dirty or being in nasty situations. I thought about crime scene cleanup for a bit, but I don't think it pays enough. I want to make things work and fix things that are damaged. I don't really want to cater to your first world problems. Some people (including in the trades) take this stuff way too seriously. I fully support the trades. I think great trim carpenters and tile setters are a sight to behold. But they're also catering to the .1% of the world and there are much more important things we can be doing with our time, energy, and talents. I think I'd like to gravitate more towards functional work. Tenant improvements, maybe some commercial work, etc. Something where function is more important than form. Something where 8/10 is good. The amount of effort it takes to go from an 8 to a 10 just isn't worth it, IMO.
  • There's a saying that quantity has a quality all its own. I think you could also say that functionality and completion have a quality all their own. "Good enough and done is better than perfect and pending." Done is better than perfect. I think this kind of mentality is frowned upon by some. I'd rather improve the homes of 100 people than make perfect the homes of 10. I'd also rather not tear out a perfectly good bathroom just so someone can have the latest shit they saw on HGTV. I throw so much shit in the trash every week it's amazing. Each trip I take to the dump is usually about 2-3000lbs. Think I've taken 5 trips in the last two weeks, although it's been pretty busy lately for some reason. And I do a lot more recycling than most contractors. Clean wood goes in the green bins, cardboard gets recycled, and everything that goes to the dump gets sorted as well.
  • Starting 650' worth of fence tomorrow. Storage facility gets broken into every other week so they finally decided to upgrade their fencing. 7k lbs. of expanded metal fencing, repairs to broken into units, new middle and bottom rails, etc. Big job, good money. They tell me how to build it and I get it done. That's the stuff I like. The challenge is in the logistics, budgeting, etc. Not in spending 20 minutes on a single miter joint using a Domino and hot melt polyurethane glue.
  • Wasn't ever a big Sound of Music fan, but watching it a few months ago with the girls got me into it more. Really good story and execution. Great soundtrack. There are fewer than 10 musicals that are worth watching, but that's definitely one of them.
  • I have a guy from Guatemala on my crew (Edwin) and he's learning stuff still. Been working with me for a year and knows a bit of English and now he knows a bit about the trade as well. One thing I've noticed in working with a lot of guys from Mexico and Guatemala is that they tend to sort people into races quite a bit more than most Americans I've ever met...and I'm not talking about Twitter, SJW, Kendi, Coates type people who I've never met in real life. There was a painter working on a job with me once and he told me I was about to get a ticket so I ran outside and tried to get the meter maid to stop, but she didn't. I came back inside and the guy told me about how he didn't like Black people (meter maid was Black) and how she was a bitch and how the Blacks are always going out in the street and fighting and stuff. Probably the most outwardly racist person I've ever met in real life. Edwin talks about the differences between people from Mexico and Guatemala and he gives the Mexican guy on my crew a hard time and vise versa. It's interesting in part because woke white people group Black and Brown together, but my experiences is that Black and Brown (Latin) people have pretty different cultures in some ways. I try to tell some of these guys that we're not really supposed to talk about this stuff this way, but it's just the way they talk. Asians are all Chinese, for example. The BLM movement is a mystery to them (roughly: "if I, an illegal immigrant, can make a living here what are they complaining about?").
  • It's one of the things I enjoy about my work - learning about the different cultures from all the different crews I work with. A few of the guys (like that painter) are pretty politically incorrect, but sometimes they just come from a culture that views differences in people differently than we do. It's also refreshing to work with a lot of immigrants from Central America, Uzbekistan, Bulgaria, Russia, Hong Kong, Ireland, etc. who have a different view of America - as a place of opportunity - than many of the people I usually am around. Most of the people I'm usually around are white natives who are college educated. These are the people who have lived in/visited Western Europe and often are pretty critical of the US (rightly so in some cases, especially now). But it's nice to see have a different point of view from an outsider. Maybe this is one reason why I like immigrants so much. They tend to work hard. They tend not to be entitled. They tend to like this place. It's refreshing relative to the people who are born here expecting an easy life, free stuff, etc. American Exceptionalism, to the extent that it's a real thing, doesn't just happen. You don't just automatically have more than your parents - there has to be work involved. The opportunity might happen automatically, but the reality doesn't materialize unless you act upon it.

  • 9/21/20 (21:48)

  • Was it Hitler who said that in order to defeat fascism you must become fascistic? We saw a bit of that with FDR and his Gabriel Over the White House type use of executive power. We're seeing suggestions of it again with Trump. RBG dies and so people on the Left suggest packing the courts should Biden become president. Sure, it's not strictly illegal, but we know where this goes. It leads to the absurd. So, perhaps this is just a threat to avoid Trump nominating some who is truly awful or to scare a couple moderate Senators into not voting for a Trump nominee. But if we take the threat literally then it's really a further erosion of norms which Democrats claim to take seriously. Remember, you can't be the party upholding norms and pissing and moaning about Trump eroding those norms while simultaneously threatening to severely erode them yourself. Further, it should be pointed out that RBG spoke on the issue of packing the court and she thought it was a bad idea that made the SCOTUS a political body. She was clearly against it.
  • Lebron has been first or second in the MVP voting 8 times. He's also been first or second in the NBA championship 9 times. There's a lot of emphasis on getting rings, and I understand that, but getting to the finals 8 years in a row and 9 total is damn impressive. It looks like he'll make it again this year. He's done it in the East and West. With a variety of teammates, some average and some great (Wade, AD). He's top ten no matter how you slice it.
  • Hillary said that "Joe Biden should not concede under any circumstances because I think this is going to drag out, and eventually I do believe he will win if we don't give an inch and if we are as focused and relentless as the other side is." Isn't this a little bit like saying that the only way we're going to lose is if the election is rigged? Trump has gotten plenty of (deserved) flack for saying that. Sometimes the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats is that the Democrats are smarter about how they will be perceived. Her version has slightly more nuance and she gives a reason, but the bottom line is that 1) she doesn't think he should concede "under any circumstances" and 2) she thinks Biden is going to win. Trump is saying sorta the same thing, only through the filter of an id-dominant moron.
  • There's a thing that happens every time a citizen comes into the political sphere. It happened with Rittenhouse, the suburban couple, George Floyd, the gold star Khan family, etc. The Right or Left will dig up dirt on these people and assassinate their character in the media so that their respective side and rest assured that these aren't real, good Americans...they're just shitty people so you're free to hate them. Again, one more reason why the media is a major problem in our society and far worse than Trump. There's a 100% chance Trump will be out of our lives in 1-20 years. The same can't be said about this kind of 24 hour, sensationalist, hit piece, sound bite, partisan media that we've been living with for at least 20 years.
  • If enough people believe a thing it becomes true. This is true for the value of a company. This is true for the electability of a candidate.
  • Add Harrisburg to the list of failed Democratic cities. When you have the same mayor running the show for 28 years it's just not a recipe for success. It's a recipe for graft, corruption, concentrated power...
  • Speaking of that suburban couple who spoke at Trumps inauguration...They talked about how the suburbs are under attack. I'm not sure what the hell they're talking about, but whatever. The response seemed to be that this was a racist dog whistle. Sure, "suburbs" and "urban" have become stand-ins for white and black, but I think it's more accurate to say that they are being classist here. Perhaps it's 85% racist, but it's 100% classist. Why focus on the race part when the class part is more accurate? I don't know these losers, but I imagine they would be just as aghast if a poor white dude who was working on his hoopty in his yard moved in next door, as they would be if a black guy moved in next door.
  • That said, I didn't listen to their whole speech - I just got the shitty parts from the usual liberal media sources so I'm guilty of not getting the full story. I don't even know their names. They're just the shitty fat white suburban couple with guns.
  • This country needs better people. We talk a lot about career training, politics, religion, education, etc. Bottom line is that we don't have enough good people anymore. Every thing is failing every step of the way.
  • Apparently Richard Spencer endorsed Biden. I guess this means Biden is now endorsed by the Neo-Nazis. Biden, for his part, renounced his support. I don't think Trump did the same. I don't think Trump would renounce anyone's support for anything ever.
  • The post office conspiracy thing seems to have died out. Democrats are the party of thoughtful science and yet that one had legs for a couple weeks. Righteousness really gets under my skin and the elite Democrats really think they're so much better than Republicans. So, even though I can't stand most of Republican policy, I relish those moments when the Democrats, despite all their posturing and pontificating, fall for the same shit that Republicans are known for. I really enjoy not being of either party so I can have righteous indignation of both parties. What a hypocrite!
  • Turned out like 90% of the post office conspiracy was just harmless stuff like routine maintenance of machines and boxes. As much as I shit on the NYT or WaPo, they at least take their job seriously so they will issue retractions and corrections (on the back page), while Breitbart and Fox are mostly professional trolls and shit stirrers.
  • And as much as I shit on the federal government, the USPS is one of the things I think they do pretty well. I've been a long time supporter of the USPS. Their offices are usually understaffed by people who don't really care and are only their for the pension, but the carriers generally do a very good job. I almost never lose mail (though I've had it stolen before) and their rates are very reasonable. I think if Congress would get out of their way, they could make it even better. One of the few programs I have faith in.
  • According to a UCB professor, in the 1970s there were 70-80 murders of civilians by cops per year in NYC. Today that number is 7-8. As I posted a few days ago - the facts point to a situation which is better than ever by actual factual measures and yet we complain about it more than ever. Please explain. Why is there a lag between reality and reaction? Is it that we're victims of our societal successes? If I beat my wife every night she's going to get used to it and not complain about it when I do it. It's just the norm. But if I only beat her once a month then she's more likely to complain.
  • Our history essentially did an Excel style find and replace for black and replaced it with poor. I think this is obvious and drives a lot of the race conversation, but what gets lost in there is that black often means poor, but that poor doesn't always mean black; and, further, that poor is often worse than black. Of course some will point out that you can't hide being black as if that is the biggest issue. Being able to hide the fact that you have a shitty place to live doesn't make it all that much better. It's a bit like the conversation I had once with a black co-worker about being gay. She thought being black was so much worse, but I pointed out that your black mom would never reject you for being black, but that's not always true if you're gay. It's just different...stop trying to win the oppression olympics.
  • We now track the race of people shot by police. Why aren't we tracking their income status? I'd be willing to wager that you're more likely to be shot by a cop if you're poor than if you're black. This is another area where the media has control. They could choose to highlight any aspect of a shooting that they want. They could focus on the gender divide (though it doesn't support an oppression narrative) or they could focus on the class divide, but they choose race. I wish they would focus on the abuse of power narrative more. It's a more universal message and would probably help bring change more - in part because it's bipartisan. Liberals would continue to support reform and small government/Libertarian types would also support it.

  • 9/18/20 (20:22)

  • RBG died today. Bad day for the country, but I can't help but think that there's one person who could have prevented this. A brilliant person who could have done a selfless thing which would have helped us all at this time. Unfortunately, RBG did not retire four years ago...she decided to continue working despite her many health problems and the likely outcome of the Republicans keeping the Senate. Honestly a very odd thing for a very smart and seemingly selfless person to do...to continue working at age 83 when your health means so much to the future of the country. I would love to know what her thought process was.
  • The reality, though, is that she's gone now and so Trump will get another pick and the Republican senate will support whomever he picks. Even if the swing votes (Romney, Collins, and Murkowsky) don't back Trump's pick, Pence will break the tie. Hopefully we get someone like Roberts who seems bad-ish at first, but doesn't turn out so bad in the long run. Kennedy didn't turn out as bad as many thought. He was also smart enough to retire while alive under a Republican president/senate to extend his legacy in a way.
  • Republicans tend toward ill-liberal policies more than Democrats, but damn if they aren't more wise when it comes to getting what it is they want. Democrats are the party of academics and the intelligentsia, but they sure do act idiotically.
  • Biden looks really out of it and is appears to be borderline senile at this point. If you haven't seen this then it probably means you're not paying attention outside of the liberal news outlets. One more sign of the times I guess. We have a borderline senile guy against a crazy narcissist. When voting for the senile guy is the clear choice, you're basically fucked.
  • There are so many problems these days it's hard to keep up. One of them is the wildfire situation on the west coast. Oregon is getting hit hard. CA is getting hit hard. Global warming is likely part of that, but management has to be looked at as well. It's a very odd cultural response that I see often...people blame not necessarily the biggest issue or the issue they have the most control over...they blame some other thing that is out of their control and often maybe the 5th or 10th biggest contributor to whatever failure it is they're talking about. A few examples come to mind: Hillary blaming Comey's letter for her 2016 loss. Democrats blaming voter suppression for everything when we can't even turn out 60% of the voters. Gore supporters blaming Nader for his 2000 loss. BLM blaming cops for black people dying...Often when I see this it's like a smoker blaming the wildfires for his lung cancer. I mean, yeah, it technically is part of the problem, but there's a much bigger issue to consider and it's one you have complete control over. RBG could have avoided this whole thing if she had retired, she didn't and now we have to live with the consequences. Had Clinton won it would have been marginally better, but we'd still be at the whim of the Republican senate...hoping for a couple swing votes to get a narrow appointee.
  • Take care of your own business before blaming everyone else for your problems. I guess that about sums up my thoughts, but we have a culture that looks to blame others for our own poor choices. One manifestation of this is the sue-happy society we have.
  • Been listening to audio books lately instead of doing podcasts. Knocked off Animal Farm, 1984, and Brave New World this week. BNW wasn't great overall, but I understand why it has withstood the test of time. Animal Farm is great and I remembered very little of it from having read it many years ago. 1984 had a bit too much of Orwell preaching, but was good. Reminded me of Clockwork Orange at the end. Best part was actually the love story aspect.
  • One of the great things about these books, but especially AF is that they really nail the academic elite. These books came from a time when all the academics were planning wars and the books point out the folly of those who think they know so much more than the average person. In AF, in particular, there are several times when the elites talk down to the idiot masses about how they don't understand things. "You probably don't remember correctly" and "you would know this if you could read," etc.
  • The Right seems to be pushing a few things this election so far: sleepy Joe Biden, unrest in Democratic cities, and anti-nutjob SJW cultural stuff. They have a point on all three counts, but anyone who is pushing this stuff in support of Trump is in cuckoo territory. I have to believe that the majority of the voters will see through Trump and understand that the guy is an unmitigated disaster. If he was able to get a few big things done then perhaps Americans would have looked past his nutjob antics, overturning cultural norms, mental instability, lack of contact with reality, etc. But I don't see enough that he can point to at this point. Here are the accomplishments I see at this point: First Step Act. Tax cuts. Two Supreme Court justices so far. Israel-UAE peace agreement. There are plenty of economic indicators that were also looking very good like black unemployment, stock market, overall unemployment, etc., but those are mostly trashed at this point because of COVID. Maybe the COVID unemployment checks is an accomplishment, but not one I'd brag about if I were him. So, not much there overall. He hasn't done much on China. North Korea peace deal may end up being good news, but I'm still unpersuaded at this point.
  • So, a couple bipartisan good things with the First Step Act and the Israel peace agreement. The SCOTUS justices are bad if you think like me. The tax cuts are nice, but uneven. Overall, a lot of drama and bullshit for not much. My hope with him was that we were going to get a good dose of crazy, but he was going to crazy his way into maybe two really big really good changes that couldn't have been done without someone crazy. I think that same sort of hope is what got him elected. I'd like to think that Americans have enough street smarts and bullshit detection capability to understand that he hasn't gotten it done so he'll lose in November...assuming Biden stays away from a camera long enough to not say more dumb shit.
  • After Bush it seemed like the Left was pretty motivated. That's what activated moveon.org and a bunch of other Left leaning orgs. But that energy seems to be held by very few. Obama won big and turnout was about  60%. Two years later and it was just under 40%. I mean this is another example of Democrats blaming others for their problems and not taking care of their own shit. Had they turned out for Obama in 2010 like they did in 2008 then we'd be in a different world right now. 30%+ decrease. Obama was pissed, and rightfully so. If Democrats had won in 2010 then they could have gerrymandered districts for themselves for the last 10 years. They could have done something better with Obamacare. They could have taken on other issues. The downside would have been they couldn't blame Mitch for all their failings, so I guess that would be a bummer.
  • You have a friend who has a good heart, but always has drama in his life. He can't be bothered to show up to work half the time. He makes friends with all the wrong people. He always blames others for his problems. This is basically the Democrats.
  • I haven't heard the saying "when the going gets tough, the tough get going" in a long time. For some reason I have memories of hearing it a lot when I was younger. Is this a concept people are familiar with anymore? It seems to me that we have some tough times so we better get used to it. Wish we had more Depression era folks still alive to give us their wisdom.
  • I have heard a lot about mansplaining, manspreading, microaggressions, etc. So maybe that's this generation's response to the going getting tough.
  • Nader is still with us and it's probably as good a time as any to praise him, rather than waiting for him to die. He's one of the great Americans of all-time. They tried to corrupt him, they tried to get dirt on him, but he's always been true to helping the common man and speaking real truth to power. He's a true non-partisan patriot and when we lose him, it will be a great loss. Probably the best human to run for president. Jimmy Carter and Corey Booker are also in the conversation.
  • Burke had this idea that part of conservatism is respecting the generations before you. "Contract of Eternal Society" basically said that we should not only think about living for the future, or with future generations in mind, but also with respect for those before us. In today's society this idea is being completely obliterated by the Left and SJW types. Pretty much everyone in history is subject to revisionism and is put on trial under today's standards. This is why we're seeing talk about Mount Rushmore, monuments, statues, etc. No one is sacred. No one is safe. I think Burke would say that not only should we take into account the future with things like global warming, but we should also respect that which was given to us by those before us. We shouldn't judge and rejudge every generation before us on a "wokeness" scale that is ever changing.
  • Also listened to Hillbilly Elegy recently. Pretty good book. Was popular for a while when people wanted to understand why people would vote for Trump. I found it more interesting because I see a lot of similarities between the Hillbilly honor culture and Black American culture. Hillbillies say to each other that they're getting too big for their britches if someone is doing really well and threatening to leave. In Black culture they say you're acting white. Lots of people (One.Be.Lo, for example) talk about Black culture as a bucket full of crabs - where they grab the crabs that try to get out. Lot of similarities throughout the book and it hopefully got a few people to realize that whites aren't a monolith. Of course that seems to be even less understood today than ever, so it doesn't appear as though he changed enough minds with his book.
  • One of the things I've gotten pretty good at because of my job is keeping people busy, getting things done efficiently, managing people, etc. I often see the streets full of garbage and things that need repair throughout the city. I also often see homeless people. When I see idle hands I want to keep them busy. I'm a strong believer in the saying "idle hands are the devil's playground." Busy people just seem to stay out of trouble more. It's a truism of life. So, I'd love to have a city-run program to get the homeless to work. However, I'm sure there are several hurdles to this. The unions would complain immediately because they're being underbid. The city lawyers would complain because it would be difficult to get insurance, documentation, etc. for a population that is ever-changing, under-documented, etc. So, the nice idea of getting a dump truck and some tools into the hands of some homeless people would probably never happen because of the friction caused by city bureaucracy. This is one more illustration of how bureaucracy hinders progress and large organizations struggle to be nimble. One more illustration of why I don't trust large organizations and why I've become more and more focused on smaller power centers and the power of the individual.
  • The last thing the Right has been pushing is the unrest in Democratic cities. This isn't good TV, that's for sure. When you have ongoing protests and then also rioting, assaults, murders, etc. occurring alongside these protests it looks really bad. At first I think it was easier to make a distinction between the protesters and the looters/rioters, but that distinction becomes more difficult to make as it continues...whether the distinction exists or not. Not sure what the answer is other than to stop protesting.
  • Gotta get all these people back to work, though. This is a classic idle hands situation. Too many people sitting around with nothing better to do than to stir shit up or piss and moan.
  • I do have to comment on the divide between perception and reality. I've commented on this before. I'm a believer in Truth, but I've also pointed out that it seems to matter very little these days....perception is more important than reality. For BLM, for example, never in our country's rocky history have Black people had it better and yet their mistreatment is the subject of protests like only once or twice before (depending how you categorize the civil war and rank the 60s to today). The point being that, objectively speaking, Black people have greater freedoms, outcomes, political and culture clout, etc. than ever before in this country, and yet this is where we are. It's a strange situation. The same is true for many SJW complaints about Trans rights, etc. I'm sure a smart person could explain this to me, but I haven't heard it yet. Mostly what I hear is about how bad everyone has it....which is true in some ways, but the odd part to me is that it's better than ever and yet this is when the complaints are at their height.
  • Last time I talked about the leading question problem in reporting. Another one is the vague descriptions problem. NYT recently said that Biden raised $300 million and that "much of the money was from small donors." How much? You know how much, but you're refusing to say. They know it's enough to say it's "much" so why don't they take an extra 4 syllables to say "76% (or whatever the number is) of the money was from small donors." They do this all the time. Good reporters, bad reporters. NPR, NYT, etc. They all are guilty of this fundamental failure to be precise when possible. Instead they editorialize by saying "much." How about you let me decide if the percentage is much? Or, better yet, you can give me the number and give me something to compare it to so I can make an even more informed decision on whether or not "much" of the money was from small donors. This is one small example, but they all do it and they do it very frequently if you care to notice. Most probably don't and so they are subtly being led to whatever conclusion the editors want.
  • SJWs: "silence is violence." also SJWs "speech is violence." The Left really has to get these nuts under control before they taint the movement like the religious nuts taint the Right.
  • I think immigrants and native born people each have a responsibility. Natives should welcome new people to their neighborhoods and help immigrants fit in, feel welcomed, etc. Immigrants need to make an effort to learn the local ways and assimilate. I think a certain kind of woke person reading that last part would be aghast, and yet they would probably totally agree if I described the immigrants as whites moving into a Black neighborhood (aka gentrifiers). It's the responsibility of white people moving into black neighborhoods to understand what the locals do and don't like. They should learn to fit in with the local customs. "When in Rome" is good "When in 1940s Germany" is not so good, so there are limits. But if it's good for white gentrifiers, then it's also good for Latin American immigrants moving to a new place. Natives should be welcoming and helpful. Immigrants should be eager to fit in and assimilate while maybe bringing something from their culture to the natives. Instead the anti-gentrification people see it as a battle against the white immigrants just as the racists see Mexicans in their neighborhood as a battle. Two sides of the same coin.

  • 9/4/20 (16:51)

  • What's the deal with so many protesters standing in front of moving vehicles? Is this a victimization strategy or something?

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