Trump vs. the Media in the Shadow of Nuclear War

August 10, 2017

I think that North Korea is doing nothing more than trying to act tough, which is why I write this particular post instead of something concerning the upcoming nuclear war.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard that North Korea threatens to nuke Guam in a show of power and as a demonstration of their nuclear capabilities.

Several commentators have said that the threat, and a nuclear attack would be a “direct result” of Trump’s statements about North Korea.

Did you get that?  A nuclear attack, destroying several US Military installations and killing over 150,000 people by a dictator is the “direct result” of something Trump said?

No.  The phrase “direct result” implies a cause and effect relationship.  Therefore, this implies that a nuclear attack would be BECAUSE of Trump.

I’ve heard stories like this before.  I once had a friend in high school who told us that her bruises were a direct result of her actions; not her boyfriend’s fault.  After all, if she had called on time, she wouldn’t have been hit.

To blame Trump’s words for a nuclear attack is to remove any responsibility from a spoiled dictator, who just said he has no problem murdering 150,000+ people as a demonstration of power.  Furthermore, it is a denial of basic cause-and-effect relationships, and replacing them with the whims of a dictator as a fact of life:  mess with him, and get killed.  It is as if these commentators are saying, “Shouldn’t have messed with him, it’s your fault.”

One thing we have learned from feminism (and I agree, totally), is that it is wrong to blame the victim, be it rape, abuse, or in this case, mass murder.  If a woman drinks too much and is raped, one could say, “if she had not been drinking, this would not have happened,” which may or may not be true, but that does not place the blame on her.  “That’s what she gets for getting drunk,” would be victim blaming, as it implies a 1 to 1 cause and effect relationship:  If she gets drunk, she will get raped, cause and effect.  It implies that she is responsible, not the rapist.

While Trump may not be the direct victim of a nuclear attack, these reporters are placing the blame of a nuclear attack on someone who made some mouth noises versus the wee “man” dictator who launched the missles.

Thank you for reading my post.

 

Can You Be Libertarian and Not A Hypocrite?

August 4, 2017

I have often heard that Libertarians and Objectivists are hypocrites, as they use tax-funded services, even though they denounce taxes.  After all, most Libertarians drive on tax-funded roads, are protected by tax-funded police and military, get their weather from a tax-funded National Weather Service, and so on.  Shouldn’t a true, non-hypocritical Libertarian abstain from using tax-funded goods and services?

As part of my daily commute, I use two separate city bus systems, as well as a commuter
train.  I watch the weather carefully (I have one degree in meteorology), so I use the National Weather Service, Storm Prediction Center, and plenty of weather satellites, indirectly.  I did my K-12, and all three college degrees at public schools, and paid for them with federal student loans.  Now, I work in public schools and a public college, funded by your tax dollars.

How then, could I be an advocate for eliminating taxes?  Isn’t that hypocritical?

No.  I was going to pay for these things anyway.  Whether or not I partake in public education has no influence on whether or not my taxes change.  Whether or not I check the weather forecast, I will pay for the weather service.  Whether or not I take public transportation, I will pay for it.

Unlike the free-market, my lack of participation in a service does not exclude my paying for it.  In the free-market, I don’t pay for things I am not using.  If enough people decide not to pay for this product, the company will either change its service, or go out of business.  Either way, I don’t have to pay for a service I do not want.

In public works, I pay either way.  And, because these services do not HAVE to make money, my choice to use the service or not has no influence on the service, or my checkbook.  Case in point:  our train is used by so few people.  There have been many train rides where I am the only occupant of my car.  A business would have to figure out what to do about this.  However, the public train keeps running.  It never actually runs out of money, as more appears from tax dollars, regardless of financial performance.  Therefore, you can run a train from Santa Fe to Belen with one rider, paying a few dollars.  The difference – my few dollars versus the diesel, engine maintenance, track maintenance, salaries, and so on – comes from everyone else.

This is why boycotting a government service on moral grounds is a losing battle.  Unlike boycotting a business, where they stand to go out of business if the boycott is large enough, a government service will continue to run in the red for a long time until the tax payers finally opt to get rid of it through legislative means.

You vowing to never drive on a public road will limit your future and your potential employment and entertainment opportunities, and you’ll pay for the road anyhow.

However, to be consistent, one must still reject the notion of a government service on the principle that you should never have to sacrifice your efforts for a “common good.”  What you cannot do, and claim consistency is to explain why your government service is necessary and moral, while another government service is not.  They are all immoral from principle.

Thank you for reading my post.

Why “Buying Local” is a Joke

July 27, 2017

Around town, there are signs and stickers and advertisements, attempting to convince all of us residents to “Buy Local” instead of driving down the hill to the larger city (in the next county, five miles away from my house) and shopping there.

There is no incentive for me to shop local.  First, taxes are lower down the hill, so my groceries are cheaper.  Second, there are more stores with better hours down the hill.  Third, the stores are better stocked, better staffed and have a better shopping experience.  Fourth, there are fewer idle police officers, writing tickets for 3 mph over the speed limit, or dirty license plates, or other giant wastes of time.

“Buy Local” is a bunch of crap.  It attempts to guilt trip you into buying a product you would not normally buy, or paying more for a product.  If your store has better produce, you don’t need a guilt trip to convince people to buy your produce.  If it has better prices, you don’t need a guilt trip to convince people to pay less.  If you provide a more convenient experience, you can charge more, and you don’t need a guilt trip to convince people to pay more for a quick stop.

Instead, the whole “Buy Local” is a bunch of guilt.  The town will either guilt you based on environmental concerns (if you buy from the local farmer’s market instead of the Walmart, you are saving all of that truck traffic), or based on community “needs” (if you buy local, you help but your neighbor’s daughter through dance lessons instead of sending money to an executive somewhere else).

In reality, if you have a better product, or some advantage (convenience, better hours, cleaner store, etc.) people will come.  They will often drive out of their way for it.

Be wary of any store that tries to convince you to buy a product on anything other than the product’s value to you.  They are simply asking you to pay more for a product than it is worth to you, based on some guilt- guilt you did not earn.  Guilt for their inferior product or inferior store.  It’s the same guilt a bum expects you to feel for “having” when they “have not.”

Walk away from those establishments until they can trade value for value.

Thank you for reading my post.

On Not Becoming A Fuddy-Duddy

July 21, 2017

I have not played in social media outside of a few blogs and Facebook.  Yes, back in the day, I had a myspace account, just like everyone else, and yes, I have signed up for things since, but never really used them.

However, it did occur to me that I was not using them for the wrong reasons.

I rejected Twitter.  After all, I don’t care for celebrity gossip or about the president’s Tweets.

I rejected Instagram and Pintrest, because aren’t they just Facebook with fewer words?

I rejected SnapChat, as I heard that it is just a place for teenagers to sext, and while I would not mind to receive a few photos from some college-aged girls, I am not holding my breath for them to arrive.

However, I have made it a point to pursue these.  In reality, all of my rejections were anti-technology in a sense.  I did not use them because they were different than what I knew.

Even Objective-ish folks can make philosophical mistakes, myself included.

I started out playing with Twitter.  Did you know that the National Weather Service monitors it for severe weather reports?

Then, I started playing with Instagram.  I do not spend much time looking at photos from other people, but I do get positive feedback from the sunrises, sunsets and wildlife photos I post.

I dusted off my YouTube account and have posted several videos to it.

Next on the list will be SnapChat.

Overall, to reject something because it is different is a poor attitude to have, especially if you intend to learn as much as you can with your brief time on this earth.  Sure, I will pick out my favorite social media platforms and focus on them, but the fact of the matter is, those will change over time, with or without my consent.  I can adapt to the new platforms that are out there, or dry up, refusing to learn something new.

I chose the former, and I hope you will as well.

Thank you for reading my post

 

Censorship, Yet Again

July 13, 2017

Censorship exists only in one fashion:  when the goverment forbids you from speaking/writing/etc.  Censorship cannot occur unless THE GOVERNMENT forbids speech.  A person, a corporation, Facebook, etc., cannot “censor” anything.

There has been quite a few misconceptions about this over the past few weeks, starting with the Kathy Griffin incident, where she displayed a model of a beheaded Donald Trump.  No, Kathy, CNN did not “censor” you.  You are free to speak, but you cannot demand CNN, or anyone else, for that matter, to provide you a platform to do so.

I have also seen quite a few posts recently talking about how Facebook “censored” them.  No, it didn’t.  Facebook can choose to keep or discard any information they want. It is their platform.  They don’t have to support your views, nor are they required to provide you a microphone.

If you go to a concert, security is not “censoring” you when they do not let you run up on stage and take the microphone from the lead singer.  They are not “censoring” you by not giving you “equal time” or any other nonsense.

Unpopular Opinion Time:  The same is true for Net Neutrality.  A company can decide what content travels along their equipment, and at what speed.  Plenty of you will point out that the internet operates under Net Neutrality at this time, and that blogs like mine could be blocked.  So what?  I should not be able to force someone else to display my content.

Would this be the death of the internet?  No.  In fact, it opens up a huge door for companies to CHOOSE to be Net Neutral.  I bet that a few internet providers that choose to be net netural, instead of being forced to be net neutral, will very quickly displace the companies that choose to reject net neutrality.

Even so, whether or not the internet will change with no net neutrality requirement should not supercede the rights of the provider to run their network how they wish.

Really, it comes down to property rights again.  The KKK cannot show up in an interracial couple’s bedroom and protest, because the couple’s property rights supercede the KKK’s rights to “free speech.”  In the same way, an internet provider should be able to determine what content and at what speed and conditions messages are passed through their property.

Thank you for reading my post.

Meetings with Members of the Opposite Sex

July 6, 2017

I should just stay off of Facebook.  Every time I go on there, I end up seeing articles that annoy me, and sometimes losing respect for people along the way.

The most recent offender was this article by the New York Times.  The point was that Mike Pence, and apparently most Americans, consider going to dinner alone with a member of the opposite sex (other than a spouse or romantic partner) inappropriate.

I find no harm in this, either way.  I have dinner with whomever I want, whenever I want.  I traveled alone with a member of the opposite sex for two weeks, and will likely be in similar situations throughout my life.  No big deal.

Pence chooses not to.  Not my problem.  As long as he doesn’t back legislation forbidding it, who cares what he does?  It is his decision.  Or so I thought.

I dared post this, and I was informed that the real purpose of this article was that because of this choice, “women were being held back” as Pence would only meet with male members of congress and male special interest representatives.  Furthermore, it was my “white, male privilege” that prevents me from seeing these problems.  It was also suggested that I get “woke” immediately.

Fuck off.

Foolishly, I had once considered a graduate degree with these people.  Thankfully, they were not interested.  Now, I see that any successes had more to do with my race, gender, and sexual orientation, in their eyes, than any hard work on my part.

One of these days, I’m going to walk away from this world and all of its shitty people.  I just want to watch it all burn.  Is it time to shrug?  Perhaps.  I wish I was more important, such that my shrugging would matter.

 

 

Children and Guns

June 29, 2017

A few of my friends posted some cartoon about children and guns.  It showed a hearse with a series of tricycles and Little Tykes cars following behind, stating “1300 kids are killed each year by guns.”

First, guns kill zero people.  People kill people.

Second, if we are going to go that route, keep in mind, that according to the CDC, 705 children drown each year, most of which drown in swimming pools.  (This figure excluded boating-related deaths).

They also add:

“Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates. In 2014, among children 1 to 4 years old who died from an unintentional injury, one-third died from drowning.1,2 Among children ages 1 to 4, most drownings occur in home swimming pools.2 Drowning is responsible for more deaths among children 1-4 than any other cause except congenital anomalies (birth defects).1 Among those 1-14, fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death behind motor vehicle crashes.”  (Their sources are available on the CDC homepage, listed below).

And, just to show another great example of “male privilege,”  80% of drowning deaths are male.

Another two children a day (730 a year) are poisoned unintentionally by household cleaners or prescription drugs that are left within reach.  (This figure does not include intentional overdoses:  suicides).

This document by the CDC shows the most common ways for children to die.  Guess what?  It’s your car.

Instead of worrying about what the gun collector down the street “does” with all of his guns, why not double-check your car seat, leave earlier, and drive safer?  That will actually protect your kids.
Source:  CDC.gov

Mechanization and Automation

June 23, 2017

I have heard far too many reports about how many jobs will be “lost” to machines in the near future.  These reports, some of which come from automation magazines, all have one thing in common:  the end of the world will occur as we will all become unemployed and homeless because of automation.  Figures and years range from 50-70% of jobs in the next 10 years will be replaced by automation.  I am not referencing this garbage, just know that these articles exist.  A quick Google search will get you plenty of fodder.

Part of being a human being is improving our world and making our lives easier.  During the dark ages, people worked and had zero leisure time.  Everything was about survival, and survival meant doing everything in-house.  All food was grown, all clothes made, and all home repairs done by the members of the household.  For their endless days of hard, manual labor, life expectancy was in the 40’s, and conditions were awful.

We have increased our abilities through invention and creativity.  In the strictest sense, we have no collective knowledge, but we do get to benefit from the development of others through free trade.  I don’t have to develop the air conditioner that is currently protecting me from 104 F temperatures outside.  Someone else did that, and I paid them money for it.

Through this combination of invention, creativity, and free trade, we went through the scientific and industrial revolutions which improved our lives significantly.  150 years ago, “Go west, young man,” meant walking away from your family forever and traveling by wagon, foot, or horse across the wild unknown.  Many did not survive.  When I went west in 2005, my parents were a mere three hour flight away.  FLIGHT.

In electronics, Moore proposed that the number of transistors on a single chip would double every 18 months.  It has been called “Moore’s law”, and has pretty much held true for the last 30 years.  If we are developing computing power that doubles every 18 months (not quite, but transistors are a proxy for this), then why do we expect our lives to be as they were 50 years ago.

Perhaps the days of working 40 hour work weeks are about done.  Many places have made the switch to 32 hour work weeks.  Are 20 hour work weeks in our future?

But what about the lost revenue?  What about the lost jobs?

As an undergraduate, I lost a job to automation.  I used to check student ID’s at one of the dorms at night.  I would stay up all night and just look at student IDs.  Eventually, a card swipe was installed on the building, and I was no longer needed for that role.  So what?  I found other work.

Jobs go away.   If our world is changing so quickly that Moore’s Law is followed, why do we go about employment the same way as our parents and grandparents did?

Fifteen years ago, there was no such thing as a “social media expert,” “Uber driver,” or grocery picker for curbside delivery.  100 years ago, there was someone who jammed wooden stakes into the wheels of the ore cars to slow them down.

The authors of these articles, and those who worry about their jobs being replaced by automation are short-sighted.  What job will these folks have?  I don’t know.  I know there are still problems in the world that need to be solved, and that those solutions will involve people at all skill levels.  I do know that those who resist change will be left behind.

If your job can be replaced by a machine…it should be!  And, it is happening, whether you adapt to a new job, or not!

 

 

For Show

June 15, 2017

I have a friend from high school.  We were great friends back in those days, and her and I even dated off an on for a while.  Now, I struggle to find time to meet with her and her husband, and when I do, I find myself having very little to talk about.

Jealousy, no.  It has more to do with how time passes and how people’s priorities change.  When we were in high school, we laughed and joked and played and had a great time.  Now, we find we have very little in common.  While she talks about her big house and wine tasting and other fancy things, I really have not much to say.  When I talk about working with students, gardening, and spending time on the road, she has nothing to say.

She did say to me, years ago, “What will people at your ten year reunion say?”  For years, that stuck with me, because I didn’t care what they said, and I certainly wasn’t going out of my way to attend the reunion in the first place.

While this blog is not designed to give life advice, it is designed to dive into my personal philosophies.

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to do nothing for show.  Part of the way through my undergraduate education, I lost all of my friends.  My college relationship fell apart, and my friends were not supportive of me.  While they did not side with my ex, they associated with her much more closely, as they all did similar things.  I was totally alone.

However, that was when I gave up trying to be cool.  I rediscovered all of my childhood interests and pursued all of them.  I won’t say what they are, as I do want to maintain some degree of anonymity on this blog, and they are very specific, unique hobbies.  Some of them have had a giant impact on my career, and are continuing to open new doors for me.

It was way better than doing things for show.

Thank you for reading my rant…er, um, post.

Free Market Wins Again

June 2, 2017

I recently was involved in a story where a large gas station in an isolated area locked its doors during a tornado warning.  People driving on the state highway flocked to the gas station to find shelter, only to have the teenager on duty point to a “Closed” sign, sending the scared travelers fleeing in all directions.

As a private company, it is the store’s right to close their doors.  However, as it turns out, this was not the company policy.  Based in Oklahoma, their bathrooms are designed to be tornado shelters.

Rather than complain to the police about the locked doors, an influential storm chaser tweeted the dilemma.  As word spread, the corporate offices responded to the storm chaser, and the doors were to be unlocked. Thankfully, the tornado did not affect any of the folks who were seeking shelter.

In the end, free-markets, and words on social media made a huge change for a small town.

Thank you for reading my post.