Tinderbox?

I have the weirdest dreams! Had a sequence of them that included standard, if in some cases rare, settings of a mall, an old amusement park, my great-grandmother’s house, and my grandmother’s house. Not so standard: North Korea. In one sequence I was in a mall with two other people. The only clear part is when we each bought a slice of bread with butter for a dollar from a storefront Chinese restaurant. I was last and ended up lagging behind them. To my rational mind, it was weird, but in the dream it was completely usual to buy this thing from this type of seller as a cheap snack. The other thing I recall is a sense of urgency, and that perhaps things weren’t what they could have been, for all the mall looked fairly busy.

Another sequence involved going into a broken down amusement park, small, which morphed into more of a playground, with adjacent Soviet-looking run down buildings. There was a downpour and we all sought shelter under playground structures, tables, or wherever we could, if we weren’t already prepared. I tried to get under something and found the side wall went to close to the ground, and was one of the last left standing.

That morphed into a similar looking “park” or square that was in North Korea, though it seemed a bit prosperous for that, in retrospect. I was meeting people there or something, and passed along a tote bag that I hadn’t even looked in to a contact. I saw when he looked into it that it was shrinkwrapped bundles of magazines, Playboy and something else. Contraband. The clearest thing about that dream segment was an oppressive fear, similar in a way to the pervasive fear of nuclear holocaust that some of us grew up with, but not as low-key. I remember terror that we might have been seen as doing something wrong or being with the wrong person, and the need to get out of there.

Next I was in a house that was the one my great-grandmother owned, and was in the family until my great uncle died. I regretted not having the money at the time. They sold it for very little, but it needed work. My grandmother’s 1/3 of the proceeds in part paid for her new septic system, still so new that the builder who bought the property finagled things to ensure he could use it for one of the new houses being built. But I digress. Near as I can tell, I lived there. And while it was not in North Korea, there was almost the same fear of the government and being spied upon in place. There was just a pretense of freedom over it. Someone else was there. I don’t know or remember who, now, and there were other people I saw who didn’t live there. In the sky there were balloons, more like zeppelins, but small, that were a show of presence by the government. After they passed by, a more zealously revolutionary friend stopped to let me know that the revolution was starting. Apparently the main thing we were going to do was show we simply didn’t take the powers that be seriously, mocking them rather than battling them. He drove off with big balloons trailing behind his car, mockeries of their observation balloon things I had seen just before. That put me into full alert, because all hell was going to break loose and he’d made the mistake of not spreading the word as thoroughly as could be. I grabbed a few provisions and went with whoever the woman was in the same house to what in real life was my grandmother’s house, driving in what I am sure was an old Dodge Dart. Green.

At the other house was a woman I did not know, a little girl who was her daughter, and someone who may or may not have been my mother and/or grandmother. They were surprised to learn the revolution had started, which was when I knew word had spread poorly, or too many people just had no idea or interest. I agreed to take the unknown mother and daughter with us after the woman said “I don’t drive” when asked about driving. I started looking for provisions, mainly food, and putting some into a cloth bag. But not much, weirdly, being selective with no apparent rhyme or reason. To my shock, my grandfather was sitting at a table in the kitchen, not dead, but so feeble he may as well have been. I had to decide on the spot that he wasn’t going to go with us and would be left to his fate. If he wasn’t simply an apparition. Going through cabinets that weren’t where they really were (they were by the porch door, on the wall where the original kitchen sink had been, where the table was in later years), there were a huge number of cans of beans. I found one on the bottom that was bulging top and bottom, and on the bottom edge had actually sprung a leak. I was completely disgusting when I got spoiled beans on my hand. Looking in an upper cabinet, I found it almost completely full of boxes of matches. Wondered why they’d have stockpiled THAT many matches, but knew I wanted some. While grabbing a couple boxes and trying to decide whether to take more, I noticed that most of them had been made in North Korea. I went back into the dining room and living room one more time to talk to people, but after that I woke up.

As for what it means, well, not that odd to be nervous of the government, concerned about spying, the economy, the need to be prepared for trouble, and generally feeling that things aren’t what they once were or could be. North Korea could be indicative of that, if you take it as a direction we don’t want to be going but seemingly are, however far we may appear to have to go. On the other hand, it’s not that odd to dream something that suggests North Korea as a tenderbox or danger to world stability, despite its size.

Polifodder

So yesterday I coined the word polifodder. Today I thought to search Google for it. Obviously the hope is that it’s unique, but I didn’t expect it. I was right. There were only three pages of results, though, so that’s pretty cool, and AV was in there twice. None of them appeared to be a defined word.

At the time, I decided not to complicate the post by defining it explicitly, leaving context to suggest the meaning. When I was typing, I was thinking of the regular people of the LGBT movement and other such movements as political cannon fodder. I was thinking of people largely believing what they are told to believe, acting as they are told to act, to some degree dupes, simplistically unaware or uncaring of the actual goals and motives of their leaders and fomenters. Certainly uncaring or uncognizant of the side or follow-on effects of their ostensible efforts. Even to the point of being people who, upon seeing the stage magician put an object up his sleeve, will maintain indefinitely and vociferously that, no, it really was magic.

Ender’s Game

I am officially a homophobe and enemy of good LGBT polifodder everywhere because I darkened my soul with a viewing of Ender’s Game at the theater. I paid money! Oh my god I must support Card’s alleged views! The humanity! What would my gay uncle gay nephew, gay friends, and muddled nephew niece think!?

Aside from that, holy crap was it a brilliantly done movie.

Stunning visuals, amazing acting, brilliant adaptation, to the extent I remember the book after so long. I read the entire set through Children of the Mind, but one could easily stop with Ender’s Game. I forgot some details like his older brother. The main thing is that they did a stunning job on the challenge of fitting what mattered to tell the story into the length and format of a film, and made it look arguably better than my mind’s eye ever did.

I saw it at a $6.50 matinee on a modest screen. I’ve heard it gains from the big screen, but I was more than happy. I was also pleased they did not make a 3D version. I’ve gotten used to seeing most of the big movies in 3D and perhaps on a rilly rilly big screen in comfy seats that still lack enough leg room (and I have short legs!), but I was both on a budget and not concerned with that, on top of being saved by that production decision.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts! Yes, Massachusetts gave you Scott Brown to defeat Obamacare, President Obama, Harry Reid, et al. It was a clear indicator from a state often called “the bluest of blue” (which I might contest) that people Did Not Want the so-called “Affordable” Care Act.

Instead of “passing” the law as was, in a manner that at least bordered on fraudulent, don’t you wish now, Dems, that you had gone for that “oh man, we BARELY lost by ONE vote, maybe next time” loss?

Massachusetts Did Not Want the law passed, enough to muster the people’s votes against it then. Massachusetts! And you blew it.

Collected Links

I have been bookmarking things on the idea I would post about them. You’d think posting, say, five days a week would be easy, right? The set is huge, some are probably quite stale, and I am not sure I’ll get to them all with meaningful treatment. Therefore, I will collect several in one post, with minimal commentary.

When law is no longer a safe bet and more about economic change, automation, job security and “the good old days.”

The Roman Army Knife beat the Swiss by 1800 years and looks remarkably clever for the time.

Agile: The Once and Future Methodology explores how what some might think of as new software development practices go way back. A favorite topic of mine, for all my experience in software development is modest.

NSA: The Decision Problem is a discussion of the state of and history of sigint and surveillance, and how modern big data and such affect it.

Superfast internet over old-fashioned copper phone wires?

The Dick Durbin Debit Card Fiasco bears shouting from the rooftops, much the way Barney Frank’s role in the financial crash does.

I waited so long to post this, it’s obsolete! The tax was subsequently repealed, but here’s Why We’re So Frustrated About The Massachusetts Software Tax.

That ought to do it for now.

Better Than The Nolan Chart

My first thought was that this makes glaring the limited difference between typical republicans (conservatives) and typical democrats (liberals).

SocialStructures

This is from Liberty’s Torch.

My second thoughts involved the naming of the categories, and volunteerism being much less scary-sounding than anarchism, which is what the only truly safe section is. Minarchism may not sound less scary than libertarianism, which is what that part of the chart describes, in strict, traditional terms. Since “classical liberal” is a term I learned meant “libertarian,” I am intrigued by having that matched with “paleo-conservatism,” the next step up, and… mmm… acceptable. I always figure that it matters first what you choose to have government do, then, having decided, doing it right. Towns will run schools? OK, let’s not make them money sinks that do a lousy job, and for goodness sake let’s not let the federal government take de facto control. That kind of thing.

I’m glad the next loop up is modified with “modern,” because it is so not conservatism. Except now it is. Deb sat down as I was working on this and we talked about the names and categories. I came to libertarianism in the seventies, and was heavy into it into the eighties. I learned it as what’s called minarchism here, as I noted. She learned it, later, as what’s called paleo-conservatism here. I learned that as more of a next level, just as shown, where you can’t quite get everyone to agree that, really, these things can be done at least as effectively by the market or private cooperation.

And there’s another thing. It seems to me that this looks at any and all activities at any and all levels of government. In my town, we have a classic example of volunteerism/anarchism, whereby the community runs a gas and electric utility, to benefit the community and keep it tight to the people it serves. Local action. So when we talk roads, are we talking that, yeah, way more efficient for the community to build and maintain them, while maybe a highway that goes long distances and has controlled access, yeah, that could work better or as well done as a privately built road you pay to use.

Which is really just a step up from that decision to assign the right to use force on behalf of everyone to a government entity. Trouble is, another thought I had right away, it’s the very fact you are giving government that power to use force on your behalf that makes it easy for it to use power to coerce you. The idea is projecting it outward. It’s so easy to turn it inward.

And arguably the dangerous transition point is that fifth item up: education. Once the government can not on coerce, but control what is learned, influence attitudes from the beginning, power is well entrenched. Which is why education cannot be controlled by higher levels, but must remain controlled by lower levels of government or community, or be in the hands of the people, or be privately operated and paid.

Fourth Amendment Win, Sort Of

Remember the guy who went through airport screening with the 4th Amendment written on his naked torso? This naturally resulted in grief from our airport overlords, the low-paid, low-intelligence, power-tripping TSA.

Flash forward and he won in court, featuring a requirement that the TSA agents there be educated in the First and Fourth Amendments. This may help in one place, in a small way, but it does not undo the absurdity and overreaction that is TSA and the entire Homeland Security aparatus.

Homelessness

Back when it was a huge issue, more for bashing Reagan than for real, but it’s always real to some degree, and had been exacerbated by the recent release of mentally ill to the streets, I became aware of how government causes the problem of homelessness and people over their heads in housing costs.

Zoning. Regulation. Rules, largely but not exclusively local in nature.

Can we go back?

Worse, I always thought the tiny sleeping cubes in Japan, or airports wherever, were a cool idea. Never thought of them being restricted into impossibility here.

Additionally, as I am sure I have mentioned before in ten years of blogging, I have thought housing suffered from preconceived notions and from lack of new inventions. As long as a house is a single family, made generally of wood, on a lot of at least a certain size, constructed a certain way, generally by professionals working at a certain pay and pace, then the cost will be higher rather than lower. I’ve always thought there had to be a better way.

Entitlement

I’ve been thinking about entitlement as a personal and moral trait that can overlap political beliefs, and relate to the government plural of the same word.

Whether you have been raised to it or come to it otherwise, a strong enough sense of entitlement without moral brakes on it can lead you to steal, which is really just a direct form of seeing that money not yours is spent to your benefit. It can lead you to something like insurance fraud, where you feel entitled to take the insurer for enough money not merely to repair insured damage to your house, but also to rebuild it extensively, shiny and like new. It can make you the person who is demanding beyond all reason at a retailer, or who gives the pharmacy hell for the limits of your prescription coverage that they can’t control. It can make you the person who has an unrealistic concept of what Social Security and Medicare are/should be, and of how far the money you paid in actually extends, even if you are logical and not otherwise mathematically impaired.

You see this as a generality in generations, like the Lucky Few, even when individually they might have political leanings ostensibly disparaging of “entitlements.” I had not been aware there was indeed a distinction until recently, despite it seeming like there was a gap before the Boomers. You see it more specifically in families or how people are raised, and in social classes. A sufficiently strong sense of entitlement is a lopsided thing, where you see only that you want, you deserve, you need. You don’t see where the money is coming from, who you are affecting, or even ethical, legal or philosophical ramifications. Come to think of it, it’s the extreme opposite of feeling entitled to nothing via a low self-esteem or “dog that’s been beat too much” problem, but that strikes me as a digression into another topic.

A gentler form of it is indeed strongly optimistic expectations. Of course you can get a job at the proverbial IBM and retire comfortably after thirty years! Isn’t that what everyone does? Sorry, Lucky Few, it’s 2013. Or 1980, as the case may be.

Anyway, where I am going with this is to cross it over to political leanings or expectations. It seems to me that the same outlook could give make your overriding conviction to be milking the system for what you want for you and yours, without regard or even awareness of consequences or costs. Just as you can ruin your life if you let an inhibition-free sense of entitlement veer into illegal ground, you can ruin the country by voting or promulgating institutionalized theft. There are times when the overhead of entitlement can be absorbed for an extended or even indefinite time. For instance, unionized industries that add cost out of proportion to value. There are times when the party ends. Real estate won’t always go up and up artificially. You were never entitled to an automatic windfall. Government won’t always be able to pay benefits it does now. Not even pensions, if the money wasn’t actually put aside and kept safe and actuarially appropriate.

You are not entitled to whatever you want, any way you can get it. There isn’t an endless trough. It has to come from somewhere. If you’re not creating value for value, if you just want it so you should get it, you’re doing it wrong.

FDR On Steroids

It’s a shame that every time I see PJ Tatler I have to make fun of it and pronounce it as “TATE-ler,” since tattler has a double t, because sometimes there is interesting stuff there. I just don’t get the spelling error.

Case in point, hacking the Constitution. It is the stuff of FDR’s wildest dreams of power averice. Clever, yet evil. Exactly as I describe what a friend’s ex-husband did to her. After he was found unfit to have the kids and she was awarded custody, he got three of four kids to say she was mean to them and be convincing enough for the child “protective” people in the state to take them away. Then he got himself assigned to foster them. Thus he is being paid to have custody of kids he has been shown to be unfit to have in his custoday, gets to work full time on manipulating them further, deprives her almost completely of visitation, and eliminates almost any chance she can have a relationship with them until they are 18. Despite her having done a great job raising four kids to adulthood and a fifth, the one not fooled by her father, most of the way there. Clever! Vile, but clever. Long digression, but the concerted evil by Obama and cronies brought it to mind.

Talking About Basic Nonsense

The often sensible if excessively socially conservative John Hawkins has a bizarre piece at Townhall.com that I just can’t resist going through. It’s long, twenty points, and that may be part of its problem. When you’re trying to come up with that much in the face of a deadline…

(Update: I will update this when I have a chance, to show the gist of each original point, so it will not be imperative to read the original to make sense of this. OK, paraphrase, condensed version or copy of point being addressed is indented above each numbered response.)

People who wish to change sexes should see a shrink. Apparently rather than being allowed to, on a reread of the source.

1. People who wish to change genders were not, last I knew, allowed to do so without the advice of a psychologist. That doesn’t mean it’s good advice. That doesn’t mean there isn’t an industry of enablers, as might also be the case with convincing people they have conditions that allow them not to work, or never to grow up, or to live as professionally needful whiners. “OMG I am crazy and always wanted to be a girl” is no excuse for not having a life and taking some responsibility. Nor is it anyone’s business if you want to invert or extend your parts, even if you will never look feminine, or masculine, so long as you are not a societal leech. You have the right to do it. Others have the right to mock it. Nobody but you has any obligation to pay for it, or your general support.

“Most people who remain poor over the long haul in America stay that way because of their own poor life choices.”

2. That sounds like something one of the Lucky Few Generation might believe, having hit everything just right. It sure helps to make good decisions, but conservatives who dismiss timing and luck as factors and are holier than thou just come acorss as low-credibility cretins. It also helps to learn the skills and principles associated with success and good decisions, which makes parenting a rather overlooked factor.

“Most black Americans are good and decent people, but percentage wise there are more black Americans in jail because percentage wise, black Americans commit a lot more crimes than white Americans.”

3. Maybe. Or maybe the pointless drug war goes after them disproportionately. Driving while black? How about toking while black. In any event, most blacks are good and decent people, some of the best, so no disagreement there. It is unfortunate that the fascist left since FDR has used them as a permanent underclass to gain and maintain power, though I perceive that to be eroding. For that matter, referring back to item 2, poor is the new black.

“As often as not in America, the people claiming to be “victims” are the real bullies and they don’t deserve anyone’s sympathy.”

4. No real comment here, since it only purports to be common, not absolute, and strikes me as true enough. There is an element of bludgeoning the rest of us with need, with a claim to being maligned if the sense of entitlement is denied.

Politicians are shameless liars because people vote what they want to hear, not truths.

5. An actual truth, as I perceive it, though given enough chance and impetus, voters might just surprise you.

We owe less to illegal aliens even than to foreign nationals, because they broke the law.

6. Essentially correct, if you operate on the basis of closed borders, and even if you subscribe to the “two hands, one mouth” theory of what immigrants, legal or not, bring. Since Mexico has an economy and we don’t, these days, it’s less of an issue, and it’s not an inverse issue, since Americans are less inclined to leave their family and walk a thousand miles in search of work most people wouldn’t want to do, out of desparation. Or they could stay home and make good life choices!

“Life begins at conception and having an abortion is no morally different than strangling your baby in the crib.”

7. Do we really want to go there? Having kids made me both more willing to accept abortion, and more appreciative of the little parasites developing to the point of intelligence and personality at some point while still in the womb. Until they are viably separate enough to be raised by someone not the biological mother, though, they are indeed parasites, and about as welcome as illegal aliens are to some folks.

“Most liberals aren’t patriotic and they don’t love their country.”

8. Maybe. Not all, but I certainly know some. Yet they would be first to have the schools use instilled patriotism as doublespeak indoctrination and a mind control tool. (Added thoughts…) It is far more important to love freedom than a given country. The same might be said of hardcore libertarians, who are loyal to positive principles more than to place or political status quo.

Avoid civilian casualties but ultimately lives of our soldiers rank higher.

9. Damn straight. Except we should not be involved in conflicts that make civilian foreign casualties a factor without incredibly good reason, none of which currently exist, even if they did in the last dozen years.

Ignorant, ill-informed rabble shouldn’t vote.

10. Arguably, perhaps, but the same sort of class superiority that makes you look down on the poor, and gives you more in common with the left than with real people. This statement is up there with “if you didn’t vote, you lost the right to complain,” which is one of the most shallowly ignorant sentiments I’ve seen. It never fails to make me see red. So are you going to be the one to decide, Mr. Dictator-in-Waiting? That’s where the sentiment leads.

“The only practical way to make peace between the Israelis and Palestinians is for the Israelis to transfer the Palestinians and take their land.”

11. Ah, Israel. Land that leftist American Jews refuse to support, at least as indicated by voting patterns, if not universally otherwise. Israel, and its annexed lands that the owning countries gave up on and didn’t want the residents back from. The ones who are Jordanians or whatever, but call themselves “Palestinians.” Yeah, keep the land. Evict the people. Even though Arabs live peacefully in Israel proper, and it’s probably the best place for them to be in the greater Middle East and Persia. A friend once told me, probably about 1978, that the solution would be for Israel to become an American state. Never happen, but amusing idea that’s never lost its charm for me.

This is a christian nation dammit!

12. This is a nation of religious freedom and open arms, which has something of a Judeo-Christian tone without being overtly religious. I wouldn’t say that makes it a “Christian nation” with “Christian principles.” I consider those who keep harping otherwise to be somewhere between looney and dangerous. Nor is the presence of “in God we trust” or a national Christmas tree worthy of concern to your average atheist, agnositic or pagan. Especially the latter to the latter, since it’s pagan borrowing.

“Men are just generally better at some things than women, just as women are just generally better at some things than men are.”

13. The most accurate thing yet. Men and women. We are not the same. Nobody is saying women should stay barefoot and pregnant, simply by observing reality. Duh.

Racism was once big deal, now a tool of phonies et al.

14. Another accurate item! “Racism” of late has become a cudgel, even as it’s fading away to nothing in reality.

“Long term, the only way our country can pay its bills is by asking everyone who’s not dirt poor to pay as much in taxes to the government as they’re given in services if they want to continue to receive those services.”

15. And hey, why not make the dirt poor pay and pay too, since that’ll teach ‘em not to make bad decisions. But seriously, this is too brief to be analyzed well, though it’s on the right track. Except… at this point, even that is not going to be enough to pay the bills, assuming we’re not talking about repudiating some or all the national debt that cannot ever be repaid without an explosion of productivity and fiscal sanity. Which, yes, would include people paying for services or not getting them. The more of them privately provided and not within the government sphere at all, the better.

Mother and father better at raising children than singles, gradparents or gay parents.

16. Two parental units are always better than one, unless that “village” is awfully responsive, and not too busy helping with someone else’s much older kids who are far more able to take care of themselves than yours. But… they can’t be gay parents? Seriously? Are you a fucktard? An asshat? Or grandparents?! What’s this, ageism? Does this apply to parents who are old enough to be grandparents? Why mess with the point of “single parents have it harder and are less likely to have great results” by bringing in extraneous prejudices?

Boy Scouts can’t survuve gay scoutmasters because lust trumps all, gay male to young male just as straight to young female.

17. But it’s OK to have a lesbian Girl Scout leader alone with your daughter? I know! Let’s make all Boy Scout leaders lesbians, and all Girl Scout leaders gay men. Problem solved! Or we could try our best simply to have responsible, trustworthy adults who are good examples and would protect and defend but never harm their charges. Naw, never work.

Homeless = mentally ill. Contain or help them in spite of themselves.

18. I missed this one on my original reading, perhaps because my head was spinning with WTF by this point. Not actually out of line, since the homeless problem originated with Reagan’s well-intentioned reduction of the former system for handling the mentally ill. On the other hand, where do we stop with the involuntary “help,” and ho decides “mentally ill”? Didn’t the Soviets used to lock up their “mentally ill”? When I was a kid, this was the stuff of nightmares for me.

“If you have good character, you should feel ashamed of taking food stamps, taking welfare, or being on a school lunch program.”

19. I daresay most people are, but it’s bad when that deters you from bothering at all. Further, what is meant by “school lunch program”? In our town, school lunches are $2.50 and do not serve $2.50 worth of food, and yet it has always been my understanding that even this is subsidized, which is why the feds exert so much control over it and have made it so kids throw so much away as unpalatable. If you are poor for your family size, actually the same guideline as SNAP (food stamps), school lunch is 40 cents, while milk alone is 50 cents either way. That is actually a worthwhile discount, since it costs us somewhat more than that to make a lunch. However, we make lunches half or more of the time, since so much of it is food the kids won’t eat, or can’t due to allergies. As far as I have ever been able to determine, free lunch only goes to kids whose parents are on food stamps. Ironic, since we would qualify, and could use the little bit it would provide, but I gave up on applying after the local food stamp office blacklisted me for rudely expecting them to respond to a renewal application after the one year we received benefits. Luckily, the year we most needed it. Of course, we probably made bad decisions that made us poor, which probably means we have bad character, so why would we have any shame? Glad you feel so superior.

Most immigrants should be well-educated Europeans, not losers from rest of world.

20. Racist! Well, maybe not, but think about it… doesn’t that sound like it? Except it’s not that so much as classism, which has been what much of the list was about.