Archives for posts with tag: things that make me the life of the party

I have been thinking for a bit on why people deny things for which there is generally solid evidence. We have global warming, the holocaust, and the theory of evolution for starters. Is it really because these concepts are incompatible with their belief system? I have concluded that it is something more. It is because of the policies based on them.

With evolution, it does go against a strictly literal interpretation of the Bible. I don’t see this as the real source behind the militant disagreement with it though. Given the chance, Christians would eventually embrace it, as they have with other unpopular scientific discoveries. What really inspires the refusal is that evolution is used as a tool to enact anti-religious policies outside the scope of the theory. By denying the theory of evolution, some Christians seek to throw atheism back to a time when it was politically impotent and intellectually indefensible.

Denial of the holocaust, particularly in middle-eastern countries,  also is rooted in policy consequences. It was because of the Holocaust that there was support for Israel to be re-established. By denying that it ever took place, Muslim leaders seek to take away both the main impetus for having to live with the Jewish State as a thorn in their side, and the stigma of having supported Adolph Hitler during WWII.

Finally there is the denial of global climate change. Like the others, it is an attempt to block policies, which in this case are designed to increase government control over society. If we could just get rid of this theory, then the doors would be open to harvesting natural resources that would spur growth in our economy, and maintain a greater degree of personal freedom and upward socio-economic mobility.

This is the problem we see here: we have a tendency to attack the tool rather than the underlying problem. This is a children’s sword-fight, where one party hits at the sword of the other party. Evolution has nothing to say for or against the existence of deity. The Holocaust has no bearing on whether there should be a state of Israel. Global warming is irrelevant to the question of to what extent a government should control or be controlled by its people. Enough sword-fighting, we need to get down to the root of things. It is time for some fencing.

Here is an interesting piece of ethical gymnastics: Self-defence is justified, but self-defence with a gun is not.

I am a proponent of gun ownership, firearm safety, and the right to self-defence. If a person is willing and able, they should responsibly own a gun, know how to shoot it, and use it to defend themselves and their family in the unlikely event that the need arises. If a person is put in that position, they should use the most effective tool available.

While this is my position, I can understand if someone makes the argument that we should not defend ourselves, but hope for the police to arrive in time to defend us. This, in my opinion, is stupid beyond reason; but I will allow that a consistent person might make such an argument.

Then there is an intermediate position. Self-defence is fine, so long as you use an object not solely designed for that purpose. Steak knife: valid defensive implement. Katana: not valid. Shot-put: valid defensive implement. Shotgun: not valid. Crowbar: valid defensive implement. Morning-star: not valid.

What is needed here is simplification. Either I am justified in defending myself and my family, or I am not. If I am, then let me worry about the appropriate tool for the job. 😉

I am generally down on the idea of government control. The idea of the government stepping in to tell responsible persons what they may and may not do is distasteful. Indeed, I imagine that I come across as anti-government on occasion. There are certain distasteful things that do fall clearly in the realm of government responsibility though.

First to come to mind are the weak and helpless who are trodden on by the strong. The government is here to protect them, and set things right. By this I do not mean welfare and the like. Caring for the needy, and getting them back on their feet as far as they are able,  is the duty of the individual and charitable groups. This is an act of society. No, the government is there to administer justice when someone takes advantage of the weakened state of another.

Following from that line of thought, I come to human life. Here you shall find me horribly unsophisticated, and irritation will likely manifest in a few readers. While others come up with exotic formulae for when it is and is not acceptable to kill a human, I simplify things. Don’t kill a diploid human. No debate as to vegetative state, feeling pain, mental capacity or self-conciousness. Haploid: kill, diploid: don’t kill. The only exception is self-defence, or the defence of others. Otherwise, it is the duty of the government to protect human life.

I then come to the responsibility of the government to hold citizens accountable to not steal from, break contracts with, or otherwise harm one-another. This is fairly uncontroversial even at this late date. People only seem to get confused if the person being stolen from can be dehumanized in some way, such as being wealthier than the culprit, or an owner of stock in a corporation.

Finally, the government is to protect us from outside threats. This, for me, is a bit tricky. Do we ever act in a peremptory fashion? How many of our citizens do we put at risk if we allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon? In nature, the police state, as seen in multi-cellular organisms, is a very strong higher-order structure. It is able to easily out-compete free-living organisms. Do we disrupt developing police-states in order to safeguard our own liberty? This is perhaps the only significant place where I feel split from Ron Paul. My leanings seem too hawkish for a proper libertarian.

Most other things the government tries to do are usurpations. Yeah, I like the interstate highway system, and I almost can accept it for its significance for national defence. You might talk me into one or two more things, depending on my mood; however, quite a lot that the government does today falls instead in the purview of society.

Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.

Thomas Paine, Common Sense

When we fail in our financial and social responsibility, we give power and control to someone else, whether we realize it or not. We don’t notice when we get what we want as a result of that control. While both sides are to blame, people only notice the problem in the opposing side. When that control stands in the way, then there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. We end up with things like the Patriot Act, SOPA, and secret facilities designed to read all of your email no matter who is in office.

If you watch, the government and meta-government organizations egg on groups like Anonymous, Occupy Wall Street, and the Tea Party. It is as though they are hoping for an excuse to sink their tentacles further into the last open forums of free speech, public assembly and the internet. Already OWS has elicited a legislative power grab, and I look for the Anonymous movement to draw down fire on the interwebs next.

As we struggle against this growing control, lets remember the nature of the thing that we are up against. It grows and thrives in periods of disquiet and confusion. It encourages inane and useless controversies. It feeds on apathy and irresponsibility. In that light, let us stand for our rights firmly, embodying personal responsibility and self control. Make them openly steal our freedoms, rather than passively give them up in our time of confusion and inattention.

My wife and I are getting ready to take our 2.5 children on a road trip. This caused my thoughts to wander, as they often do, to the price of gas. If the prices of gas continue to rise, will my children be able to take their children on road trips. The answer I came to was “Of course they will.” The recent surge in gas prices is due to inflation from Quantitative Easing and zero interest rates enacted by Congress and the Federal Reserve over the past few years. I suppose in the long-run the only people who will be hurt are those who have invested in US currency, like retirees and The Peoples Republic of China. Inflationary policy is effectively stealing from them. (This is also why there is no love lost between China and our current government.)

What is perhaps more interesting to the average person is how manipulating the supply of currency can be used to bypass congress in raising our taxes. With the graduated income tax system we have in the US, people are divided into a number of tax brackets based on income. The higher the income, the higher the percentage of it taken by the government. During inflationary times, employers generally increase their employees’ salaries to maintain their standard of living. This results in a number of them being placed in a higher tax bracket. Although people’s standard of living drops as they pay more in the higher bracket, inflation results in good publicity for the government. The numbers on the stock market go up, the dollar-value of homes increases. Congress may, occasionally, adjust the brackets a little bit higher for “middle-class tax relief” and still come out ahead. All the president and congress have to do is wait as more money is dumped into the system by the Federal Reserve.

So how did the federal government end up with this obfuscated power structure, with no accountability to the voters? Happy coincidence? No, it was thanks to the foresight of the loathsome Wilson Administration, which enacted both the Federal Reserve and the income tax.

So as you prepare for your next vacation, or the next time the news starts talking about the Fed keeping interest rates at 0%, or congress passing another round of quantitative easing, let us remember that it means sneaking through a tax hike and stealing from the elderly. If more people realized this without their eyes glazing over at financial talk, perhaps we could vote for a few more party faithful to take a road-trip back home…

An offshoot of yesterday’s post

The society that we live in has been rapidly changing over the last decade. It was clear after the exploit of a vulnerability in our Transportation_Av module in v125.8.10 that many parts of our code base were in need of a major refactor. Since then, a number of breaking changes have been introduced into our production society, and the uncertain syntax and shifting interfaces has resulted in a number of developers migrating their code base to countries with less overhead and more predictability. I would humbly suggest that the solution to this is to introduce a formalized deprecation policy.

Example use case:

We want to push a new Union factory to replace marriage by v139.0.0 allowing it to take an array:

Old:
Union marriage ( Male groom, Female bride [, array Deity god ] )

New:
Union civil_union ( array Any betrothed )

We would introduce the civil_union sub into v137.0.0 and flag marriage as deprecated. When invoked in versions v137.x and v138.x it will print the following useful warning on the marriage certificate:
Warning: marriage is deprecated. Please use civil_union.

This new system will make the refactor proceed much more smoothly. We will be able to change the syntax of our society in a safer manner that is less likely to break other people’s cultures. A few other changes we hope to make:

Old:
array Money job ( Work work [, Creativity creativity] )

New:
array Money entitlements ( Booth voting_booth [, bool heartbeat ] )

Old:
Flight metal_detector ( Person you )

New:
[Flight] tsa_tentacle_robot ( Person you )