"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
ethan, my new hire, has
been doing a really good job since hiring him. it's really cool to see
a younger guy who is excited about the trades and starting a career for
himself. i told his mom (donna, who i used to work for at the alumni house)
a few years ago that he should enter trade school. she pushed him into
college (uc davis) and it took him a while to get his degree. i suppose
it was worth it in the long run, but i just don't see that as worthwhile
for guys like ethan. he has a lot of energy and jumping through academic
hoops to get a piece of paper which is going to help very little, if at
all, when it comes to the trades just doesn't make sense. it's too early
to say definitively, but i see in him a great work ethic, a desire to learn,
and an aptitude for the trades. with those tools he'll have a career that
will be fulfilling and rewarding. hopefully i can give him some of the
guidance i wish i had had over the years of basically figuring it out myself.
his first year in the trades is going to be about equivalent to my first
another recent issue that
came up thanks to trump is trans people in the military. i think we should
basically have a standard for getting into the military and apply it evenly.
if it happens to disproportionately affect women or trans people, then
that's tough luck. same goes for being a fire fighter or any other very
physical job. so, in the case of the military there are a variety of medical
conditions that don't make sense for front lines work...diabetes is a common
example of a physical condition that requires constant medical care and
as a result is a disqualifying condition for serving on the front lines.
if you're a trans person who is on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) then
i think the same standard should apply. so, that's somewhat simplistic,
but also much more nuanced than the discussion i see taking place. the
discussion taking place appears to be like this...a liberal person says
trans people should be allowed to serve no matter what, otherwise it's
discrimination. a conservative person says it's not good for unit cohesion
or it costs a lot to pay for their healthcare. both sides really miss the
salient points. for front lines service there is an established
standard and it should be followed. some trans people on HRT, for example,
won't be able to serve because they are trans. sorry. i see no reason why
they can't serve elsewhere as support staff. the cost of their healthcare
shouldn't be a consideration, but the logistics of their healthcare in
a front lines situation should be a consideration. this seems very reasonable,
but is probably an unpopular opinion. sorry about that. trump just stirred
the shit with ignorant comments; what else is new?
i was thinking about my
comment that pundits, politicians, and scholars should have to rank, or
assign a percentage to, the variables they think contribute to a certain
thing. i good litmus test would be: what are the top 5 reasons the median
poor person is poor. i think the things a person comes up with and the
percentage they assign to this would be very telling. a conservative might
say things like: bad personal decisions (poor work ethic, immoral behavior),
bad parenting, poor cultural priorities, lack of spirituality, etc. a liberal
might say things like: institutional impediments, racism, sexism, corporate
capitalism, poor educational opportunities, etc. i think both sides make
some fair points. i'd have to spend a lot of time thinking about coming
up with the top 5 and assigning a number to each, but i'd say that the
single biggest of those things i mentioned is personal decisions. maybe
it's only 35% of the pie, but it's probably the biggest single thing in
why do white men commit
70% of all suicides? i guess one answer could be that if you're a black
woman and things are fucked up in your life you may be used to it because
your life has been (on average) harder than that of a white guy. it also
could be that black women can blame their circumstances on others; whereas
a white guy is (supposedly) told that he can be whatever he wants. when
his life sucks maybe he thinks it's all because he's a failure and he can't
shift responsibility for his shitty life to racism or sexism. it could
also be that life as a white guy is very isolating relative to others.
women tend to be more social and it's more accepted to talk about weakness.
blacks also tend to be more social and having a network of friends is a
good preventer of suicide.
economic policies politicians won't touch. one issue with lists like
this is that you can't really pick and choose. you kinda have to go with
all (or most) of them in order for everything to balance out. if you cut
a bunch of taxes on corporations or income, but don't tax carbon or eliminate
the mortgage tax deduction, then our deficits are even more fucked. i think
i'd pretty much be for these 6 changes if it came to a vote. maybe i'd
miss the mortgage deduction. i don't think legalizing marijuana is as important
as the other 5. but overall i'd say let's do it. payroll taxes are a stupid
impediment to hiring. i have first hand experience with this. i'd rather
pay ethan more, and he'd rather earn more, than to pass it onto the govt.
plus it's one more thing to worry about when hiring, in addition to insurance
requirements, etc. if you want more jobs then make it easier to hire people,
not harder (fewer payroll taxes, requiring healthcare be tied to employment,
etc.). make it easier to get a job (fewer licensing requirements).
okay, i think i've waded
into enough touchy topics to earn the ire of my readers for a day. time
big story of the week seems
to be the NFL protest. everything these days is very strange to me. i'm
sure this is partly because we live in bizarre times with trump and rampant
post-modernism/social upheaval, and partly because i'm just getting old.
one reason it's weird is because there always seems to be a lot of discussion
about the act itself, instead of the underlying cause or issue. so, it
devolves into a first amendment debate or whatever, more on that later.
it's also odd because people still haven't figured out that most of what
trump says is irrelevant. i figured this out fairly quickly, thankfully.
i constantly hear from people "did you hear what trump tweeted/said/wrote?"
frankly i don't much care at this point. he's a stupid troll. ignore him.
on the other hand he's the president, so anything he says is inherently
important. i acknowledge this point of view and think it doesn't apply
to the current person occupying the office.
there's a lot of speculation
about what he says and why he says it and all that. is he saying it to
purposely distract us? is he playing us? is he playing to his base and
willing to change on actual policy? there's evidence for all of these positions
because he's all over the place. using what he says to make an argument
about who he is is foolish. read that again because i think it applies
to everyone, but it's most obvious with trump. “Your actions speak so loudly,
I can not hear what you are saying.” we've heard this "actions speak louder
than words" quote a million times, and yet we seem to completely ignore
its wisdom when it comes to trump. again: he's a troll - ignore what he
says. if you want to know who he is then look at what he does. don't ascribe
motivation where you cannot (pretty much everywhere). don't react to words.
look at actions (solely, or at least primarily) and you'll probably have
a more honest view of who he is (and feel saner in the process).
i'm no law school student,
but my understanding of the first amendment is that is stops at the office
door. so, you can't work for the NFL and wear a "fuck trump" t-shirt or
whatever. does this extend to needing to stand during the national anthem?
eh, maybe or maybe not. i don't know, but making a first amendment argument
is generally the last refuge of a lost argument. emily bazelon brought
it up with regards to the new hillary book. i guess there are some who
are saying she shouldn't have written the book and bazelon said she has
every right to write the book. these are two different things. anyone who
says she doesn't have the right is a moron. that's a different argument
from saying she shouldn't have written it. that argument is normative and
saying she doesn't have the right would be a positive argument. both are
dumb, by the way. she both has the right to write the book and probably
should write the book as well. so, bazelon was on the right side, but was
using the wrong argument.
same goes for the first
amendment NFL stuff....the players may or may not have the right to protest
while at work; i'm not a legal scholar, but i know it's probably more complicated
than many realize. that said, they should protest police brutality because
it's an abuse of government power and an attack on individual liberty.
this is the core of the argument, and this is what was basically a footnote
in the coverage i saw about this weekend. the headline was trump saying
dumb shit on twitter. the sub-headline was talking about what occurred
(locking arms, not going onto the field, most teammates participating,
etc.). the "why" of it all was the footnote. sad!
hbo is going to have a
show about what would have happened if the confederacy had won the third
civil war. it's a counterfactual in the vein of Man in the High Castle.
apparently, though, it got lambasted because it's going to apparently fan
the flames of racial disharmony and could provide a wish fulfillment to
white supremacists. this kind of reaction to a show that hasn't even begun
production is pretty pathetic. to start a twitter campaign with a #noconfederate
hashtag just reeks of people with too much time on their hands and a over-developed
sense of moral superiority. how can anyone comment on a show that hasn't
been made at all? just bizarre.
why do we adjudicate some
crimes on college campuses? why should rape or theft or anything else not
directly related to education, be confined to the campus police and campus
"legal" process? it seems that the campus is only capable of meting out
justice after society has done it first. doesn't make a lot of sense. seems
like we should eliminate this and reform the criminal justice system in
the process. maybe once privileged whites start entering the criminal justice
system over small crimes that might currently be kept "in-house," the system
will see some reform on these minor infractions that can derail lives for
little good reason. for example, a kid vandalizes a campus building and
goes on academic probation as a result. a kid vandalizes a local business
and gets a misdemeanor on his record instead. same crime, way different
result just because he can afford college. same could go for sexual assault
or drug possession or whatever shit gets swept under the rug while in college.
how about recontextualizing
confederate monuments instead of white washing history? tell a difficult
story about our history instead of just tearing it down.
i have a problem with how
we prioritize our attention and money in the guise of saving lives, etc..
if we really care about lives perhaps we should spend more money on heart
disease and less on terrorism. if we care about black disenfranchisement
perhaps we should make DC representation a real priority instead of worrying
i think science and society
should work the same way in the following way...in science you set up an
experiment and try to think about all the possible factors that could influence
your results, you gather all the data as best you can and then you look
at it and you're supposed to basically accept the results. if you see some
weird data then maybe you run the experiment again, have a peer rerun it
in different cirumstances, etc. but you don't take the results and try
to play games with it in order to support your thesis. science is supposed
to be: data leads to thesis. it's not supposed to be: develop thesis, design
study to get data that confirms thesis. scientists who do this are usually
industry shills. i think you get the point.
society should be similar
in this way. we should figure out what our priorities are, what the laws
should be, etc. and then live with the outcomes of those priorities. if
we get outcomes that we don't like should we then go back and change laws?
i think most people would say yes, i'm not so sure. let's decide on our
principles and then make laws according to them. if it doesn't work out
for everyone, then that's the result of the principles we agreed upon.
not everyone is going to be a winner. i think that's the crux of it. these
days it seems like we're supposed to want everyone to be a winner. i think
it's okay to have a society where not everyone is a winner. i'm morally
okay with that. i think our principles should be hard work, ethical and
equal treatment of others, etc. if you don't work or make bad decisions
then life isn't going to be so good for you. it shouldn't be worse for
you just because you're black or poor vs. rich or white, but not working
and making bad decisions leads to poverty and i'm pretty much okay with
that (obvious exceptions like disability, certain ages, etc. aside). in
other words, i guess i'm not pro social engineering.
of course all that is a
purist pipe dream because it sorta assumes a reset situation where everyone
starts off in the same place.
i think it's great that
berkeley finally decided to allow ben shapiro and others on their campus.
the new president seems to understand the concept of free speech. then
you hear that the bill for doing this is $600k and you have to wonder how
they possibly got to such a number. paying all the cops on UCPD and BPD
staff for a day's work couldn't possibly cost that much. it honestly sounds
like bullshit. further, why is ben shapiro such a controversial person?
i haven't looked into him much, but i've seen some of his talks and he's
just a smart conservative guy. you may not agree with his views on the
role of government, but he's pretty consistent and far from an alt-right
bigot. he doesn't support trump, left breitbart because they got too ideological
for him and he's jewish so i sorta doubt he's a nazi. strange times we're
anyone else noticing the
ads for low down payment loans on houses? anyone else think this was part
of the problem the first time around? nah, obama and the inept congress
fixed all that stuff.
emily bazelon was recently
bemoaning the fact that hillary clinton was weighed down by her husband's
legacy. this is the same thing that happened to al gore. and frankly, tough
luck. both benefited from his legacy and both were hurt by it. i don't
see it as an issue. if HRC wasn't his wife then she wouldn't have been
elected to the senate or sniffed the white house. it's weird how i've heard
a couple things along these lines that bill clinton's legacy with the crime
bill or lewinsky or even recently on the tarmac with loretta lynch all
contributed to hillary losing the election in some way or another....i'm
no great fan of clinton or his mixed legacy, but jesus christ you have
to do a lot of yoga to bend over so far backwards that you blame bill for
HRC losing, and you have to really be blind to not see that without bill's
win in 92, there's no HRC campaign in 2016.
a big part of the problem
with all these things is that it's so squishy. a commentator can say that
bill clinton's legacy hurt hillary. a commentator can say that nader lost
the election for gore. a commentator can say that the legacy of slavery
is the reason blacks earn less than whites today. these sound like clear
claims, but they don't have much backbone to them. i want the commentator
to do this instead: there are 10 primary reasons HRC lost to trump and
here they are (making them up now, but just for the sake of argument):
ineffective campaigning in battleground midwestern states 20%, she couldn't
convince white women to vote for her 10%, trump masterfully used the media
to his advantage 10%, etc. same should go for a lot of these discussions.
i've read enough by ta-nehisi
coates to know that his view on why blacks earn less than whites is basically:
white supremacy 98%, everything else 2%. and while i've never read anything
david duke has written, his story is probably: inferior genes 99%, everything
else 1%. what i'd really like to see in these discussions is hard numbers
applied to the theories and ideas put forth by the people talking about
a given topic. no more hiding behind empty generalities. i want people
to take a real stance on this stuff so we know where they stand. give me
your top 5 reasons gore lost, in order. give me percentage breakdown on
the reasons healthcare costs so much. if you're expert enough to be a pundit,
then surely this isn't so difficult.
it's weird when i think
about how we're supposedly taught to think about the country. among "right
thinking people," the narrative is that we're taught in school that america
is great and hasn't done anything wrong. maybe that's the education some
people received. maybe those are the movies some people watched, but i
don't think that applies to my experience. i definitely internalized the
idea that america is a source of great good AND great evil in human history.
i don't believe the narrative that schools and society have white-washed
history so we think that america can do no wrong. while it's true that
i didn't learn the details of every historical slight, every oppression,
every atrocity, every amoral act the government perpetrated on women, blacks,
native americans, etc. there's no doubt that it would have been impossible
to be ignorant of the general theme that our government and people have
caused a lot of suffering at home and abroad.
i suppose one example of
this is when i first learned of how many lynchings happened in the south
in the 1950-60s. being surrounded by movies like mississippi burning and
stories of emmett till and four little girls and plenty others, i would
have guessed that thousands of blacks were lynched in the american south
in those two decades. when i first learned that the actual number is less
than 10 in those 20 years, i thought it was an outright lie. so, in this
way i came out of my primary school education with a view of america in
those decades as pretty much a constant source of lynching, but it was
actually extremely rare. in the 1880s more lynchings happened to whites
than blacks. by the 1930s, lynchings of blacks was in the single digits.
so, while my perception that america was awful for blacks in the 50s and
60s is accurate, the manifestation of that awfulness (lynchings) was almost
entirely divorced from reality (in that there were hardly any).
another example would be
in my learning about the slave trade. we spent plenty of time on this in
class and talking about the slave trade triangle. i remember them mentioning
a bit about the slave trade extending to the caribbean and south america,
but the perception i had was always that america was, by far, the worst
offender in the slave trade system. but, as henry
louis gates points out, this isn't even close to true. we
brought fewer slaves here than france, netherlands, spain, UK, and portugal.
also, 75% of americans in 1860 didn't own any slaves. on the one hand i
understand focusing on the US role in the slave trade...after all, it's
US history...on the other hand it made me always think that the US was
worse than it actually was.
in this vein, i think there's
been a bit of revisionist history on native americans lately. the traditional
teachings were that native americans were a proud and peaceful monolith
of people who were slaughtered by the evil white invaders. in the last
15 years or so i've seen more nuanced teachings in popular culture. native
americans were different tribes and some of them were quite pugnacious.
some native americans owned slaves (gates also mentions this in the link
above). in other words, our recent ignorance on native americans cast them
in an entirely good light...perhaps as a reaction to the former ignorance
(think Westerns) of them, which cast them almost entirely in a negative
light. turns out people are people. weird.
the USC/UT game wasn't
a disappointment. i was very close to going to the game, but family and
work obligations kept me from making the drive. i regret this decision
quite a bit now. great game, 2OT. lots of missed opportunities by USC and
a lot of heartache, but they got the job done. i thought we were done for
when UT was driving the ball down the field on their last regulation possession.
we refused to put double coverage on johnson for some reason. but when
i saw that we had 39 seconds on the clock and were at the 35 yard line
i was surprisingly confident. normally i'm in deep despair in this situation
because the odds are pretty bad....but we have sam darnold. he's the best
clutch qb USC has had in my memory. i honestly think the kid is better
than leinert. i just remembered the rose bowl and thought to myself "this
is exactly where sam darnold wants to be; this is where he's at his best."
he drove down the field and got within chip shot range and the kicker nailed
it. great game to watch. the execution wasn't all there and i really regret
missing it in person, but very fun to watch.
trump is going after daca
now. the way he's doing it, however, is probably surprising for those who
think he's literally hitler. instead of just canceling the deferment program,
he's giving daca people 6 months to renew and he's telling congress to
solve the problem with an actual law. this is much more in line with what
one would expect from a conservative president. and, frankly, this is the
way more of our lawmaking and regulatory structure should work. we may
have forgotten since it's been so long since it's gone the way it's intended,
but the way the system is intended to work is congress writes laws and
the executive is in charge of executing those laws. it's part of the constitution
for the president to faithfully execute the laws of the u.s. when a president
says they're going to selectively execute the laws or when congress refuses
to write laws to address issues of the day, then the system starts falling
apart. there's been a consistent power grab from the executive branch since
FDR to take on more and more of these duties and i think it's coming to
its logical conclusion now...an inept congress that can't or won't address
major issues like immigration. given this power vacuum, the president steps
in and does what he can, even if he thinks it's unconstitutional (as obama
said). i should expand on this because i don't think the mainstream clickbait
media is covering this very well and the average voter probably doesn't
in 2011, obama explicitly
said that the president can't just write an executive order to stop deportations
or change immigration law. in 2008 he said "we're not going to use signing
statements as an end run around congress." but with DACA he flipped on
both of those. DACA says he's telling the executive not to execute existing
immigration law in an even way...he's prioritizing who we should go after.
not only that, but he created a framework for young illegal immigrants
to be legitimized in society. further, he expanded it to not only DREAMERS,
but also their close family members (DAPA). this is constitutionally questionable
in my opinion. the 5th
circuit ruled on this and also said he went too far with DAPA and essentially
said that it's more than just an executive action. i think it's basically
the right sentiment, but executed in a way that very well might not be
constitutional. of course obama supporters would say he had no choice because
republicans suck. i would argue, that's the way the system works. just
because you have the presidency doesn't mean you get to suspend the way
the system is designed so you can get your agenda through while your party
occupies the white house. if you do this then it's just a race to the bottom.
whichever party is willing to push the boundaries of executive power the
most gets its agenda through. so, it's more than a bit galling when obama
lovers gripe about authoritarian trump taking over and doing unconstitutional
things when they were pretty much silent on obama doing the same stuff,
to a lesser degree.
you would think that after
W, democrats would be a bit wary of too much executive power and military
overreach and all the rest, but they didn't seem to learn their lesson.
i think part of this was the notion that there was a demographic shift
in the country so they thought it was literally impossible to lose the
presidency. oops. meanwhile, there's the party of small government (republicans)
that has factions in it that are very prone to authoritarianism, strong
military presence, etc. they should be the check when it comes to presidential
power, but are every bit as power hungry as the democrats. one reason i
think W was so bad is that he was the worst of both worlds. big government,
big spender, bad on environment, bad on foreign entanglements, etc. he
basically was picking the worst policies of each party. seems like a nice
saw a bit of the zurich
track and field meet a couple weeks back. mo farah is just phenomenal.
he bided his time the entire race and then took over. with about 200m left
he had 4 strong challengers, but i told the people i was eating with that
no one outkicks farah. well,
let's just say it was close. honestly, i got a bit worried at the end
and was surprised to see that they kept up with him, but farah refuses
to lose in the stretch. he's basically unbeatable in this scenario. he's
truly one of the best ever...up there with haile gebrselassie.
SF and KS are interesting
test cases. in kansas brownback basically ran an experiment where he cut
taxes and services and all the usual conservative wet dream stuff and it
apparently didn't go so well, though getting hard data on this and comparing
it to other states in the region for an apples to apples comparison, is
beyond what i'm willing to do. but, all the usual suspects say it was a
failure of conservative economic policy and i'm basically willing to accept
that. SF, meanwhile, is run by liberal people top to bottom and they have
an absolutely abhorrent problem with drug abuse and homelessness. they
have all the tax revenues they could hope for, but the homelessness has
been a visible blight for as long as i've gone there. either they have
liberal policies that have completely failed or the liberal people who
run the place are so deeply hypocritical that they refuse to address the
homeless problem. two small case studies that aren't really case studies,
but i think they show the weakness of extreme left/right politics. in both
cases i think reasonable people would have to conclude that whatever it
is the people there are doing, it's not making those problems any better.
need a left wing and right wing to fly.
DADA. data, analysis, decision,
action. i see a lot of people who have intractable problems in their lives
which are only intractable because they don't follow DADA. collect data
on what the problem is. analyze the data. make a decision about what course
of action to take. take said course of action.
was listening to michael
krasny on KQED the other day and he brought up TS Eliot for some literary
reason. but he didn't just mention eliot, instead he felt it necessary
to remind us all that apparently eliot was a horrible anti-semite. i found
this interesting in light of the monuments debate we're having lately.
eventually, people like krasny are going to bring up the writings of jefferson
or washington and feel compelled to remind us that they both were slave
owners. "speaking of great american buildings...monticello is great example
of neoclassical architecture, even though it was built by the rapist and
slave owner thomas jefferson, who i would spit on if i could."
have i talked about
this yet? basically, i think we're getting thinner and thinner skin
these days. couple that with a move in popular "right thinking" culture
to thinking that government is the answer to all our problems, and you
have a pretty bad mix. you don't have an inalienable right to not have
your feelings hurt. government shouldn't be around to protect your feelings.
neither should your school. i pretty much reject the idea of a safe space
if that means you want a space where your feelings aren't going to be hurt
by ideas you may not agree with. if, by safe space, you mean that there
should be a space to safely explore all sorts of ideas, then i'm all for
that. some people who seem to be doing this sort of exploration correctly
are josh zepps, sam harris and glenn loury...they all have podcasts that
do a pretty good job of exploring some interesting ideas in a mostly respectful
the primary reason i buy
so much on amazon, as opposed to everywhere else, is because it's easy.
one click shopping. i can easily choose multiple shipping addresses, multiple
cards (business, personal, shared account, etc.). i went to usps.com to
buy some stamps and they wanted me to setup an account, a rectal examination,
they want the name of my first love, the city i was born in...they want
me to choose yet another fucking password to manage, etc. it's just too
much fucking crap. i have too much stuff going on in my life as it is.
too many customers asking me to do shit, too many passwords and shit to
manage....just buy everything from amazon and my life is easier. maybe
i pay a couple bucks more for the same coil of 100 stamps, but that's the
profit that amazon gets for making my life easier. meanwhile, everyone
else wants to make my life more difficult. my bank holds deposited funds
for weeks. my sole employee calls in sick. my customers change shit on
me left and right. ups doesn't pick up returns when they're supposed to.
my tax preparer can't deliver my stubs in a consistent manner. my dumpster
rental place doesn't work in richmond because they say richmond has an
agreement with one rental company and won't allow anyone else to do business
in town (she straight up called them the mob). basically, i can't rely
on much these days, but at least amazon generally makes my life easier.
been very hot here lately.
it was 92 in the house the other day. trying to sleep when it's that hot
kinda sucks. the girls have fans, but we don't. it's also warmer upstairs
so it's probably about even. they were great about it.