Saturday, October 29, 2016

Priorities in Public Service

I was debating where this should go -- in my free-is-not-free blog or my fantasy economics blog.

(Almost) nobody reads them anyway, but I decided it matters most in the political context right now.

When I was growing up, many of the sermons at church seemed to be borrowed from self-improvement seminars for businessmen. I suppose that's the best way to describe them here -- pep talks, attempts at applying gospel principles to the real-world.

Two recurring metaphors were

I can sleep when it rains.


I don't really know how close to the edge I can drive. I stay as far from the edge as I can.

Let's put those into the context where they were usually given, in ostensibly successful employment interviews.

The first was the response of a farm hand when asked his selling point, I suppose. You know the question, "Why should I hire you?"

The second was the response of a stagecoach driver asked how close he could drive to the edge of a cliff in a group interview, when the other candidates were bragging about their skills in driving in narrow mountain passes.

Both of these are about priorities, ostensibly conservative priorities.

I always wondered what the driver who stayed as far from the edge as he could did when the road was too narrow to pass without driving close to the edge. We don't know from that response where he decides to turn back, and where he decides to move forward, and where he decides to stop, let the passengers out, clear a wider track, if possible, etc. But at least we know he thinks he is cautious.

In the case of the farm hand, we don't know what his priorities are in a storm, but we are fairly sure he has confidence in his priorities when it's time to secure the barn.

We don't know the details until we work with a person for a while. That's the way life is.

And it's the same with presidents of countries.

Which is why their power should be limited -- so limited that there really shouldn't be any reason for the campaign excesses we are seeing.

It's the same with every elected official, really. Congresscritters should not have the power that attracts the extremes of lobbying that we are seeing.

And it's the same with corporate management. Corporations should not be as powerful as they are, and when they go to the kinds of excesses that we are seeing in every industry, we should be able to refuse to do business with them until they back down or quit.

We should be able to seek more responsible corporate management by choosing other companies to do business with.

We need more power to fire, or at least re-assign our leaders and managers.

That we have to say this kind of thing should be telling us that we are allowing our experiment in a government that recognizes the freedom and sovereignty of the citizens is failing.

Our great and noble experiment in freedom is failing, and we are allowing our attention to be distracted by the two "major" candidates for the job of president of the country. And both of these candidates have demonstrated that their priorities are not in letting the national experiment in freedom continue to succeed.

It's time for millions of voters in every state to vote protest votes -- anybody but the two candidates that are being forced on us.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Helping Ourselves by Helping Others

My sister was telling me how much I helped her when cancer had her down.

I didn't do most of the hard work in helping her. I was just there, mostly.

But my being there was important. I could figure out what she needed when others couldn't, among other things.

Going to help her helped me in intangible but important ways. But if I had gone to help her with the intention of helping myself, I would probably have ended up helping no one.

Essentially, the doctors had given her less than a month to live. I was able to figure out things she could eat. (... with help from God, but, if I say that out loud, people will think I'm a nutcase and dismiss what I'm saying here as the rantings of a lunatic. That they are the rantings of a lunatic is irrelevant.)

With (just barely) enough nutrition, her body was able to fight off the secondary infections, and the cancer surgery was successful. She has now been in remission for several years.

I really needed to get out of the computer industry at the time, and going to help her helped me to start taking the steps to do so.

This is an example of a couple of the reasons why government programs are not the solution to our really difficult problems.

None of what my sister and I dealt with fits the rules that institutions have to follow. We had to behave as individuals, not as social automata.
We had to have each other's well-being at high priority, and government institutions can't deal with that. They can only deal with things that they can depend on, which requires them to assume self-interest first.

Self-interest is not too evil if it is at least enlightened and moderated by the recognition that unbounded greed is self-destructive.

Self-interest is a good thing when it is enlightened by the principle that we are all raised up a bit when any one of us rises, and by the principle that long-lasting improvements are obtained by different means than the next-big-thing.

We cannot help ourselves if we don't help others.

We cannot succeed in helping others if our goal is our own immediate gain. Nor can we succeed if we insist on helping them by our rules. (It's the same thing, but it's easy to fool ourselves into believing we are helping when we are only trying to help them be like we think we ought to be. [And I meant that last "we". One reason we want others to be what we want them to be is that we are not what we want to be.])

But we can help others -- if we really have their well-being as our goal.

And if we help others, if we are really interested in helping them and not just pushing our own agendas and ideals on them, the good things we do come back to us.

What does this have to do with politics?

No political platform can address this kind of thing when the candidates want to win more than they want to serve.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Global Climate Change


Well, yeah.


That too. Change.

Man-made causes?


Atmospheric carbon?

Yeah, but not all by itself.


What on earth do they think they are into, here? We need that carbon, we just don't need to be spewing it into the air in that form, at the rate we are now.

Every argument becomes a reason to assert somebody's right to tell everyone else what to do.

Lose the debate over who gets to tell whom what to do. It's just another proxy for war, and, like all proxies for war, gets bloody if we can't leave it alone.

Pollution? Are we polluting the environment?

Most definitely. Now we're getting closer to the problems. But it's not just the physical environment.

We have to quit polluting.

What are we doing that pollutes?

Finally, we're getting to the real questions, the real problems.
  • Too much driving places we don't need to drive in cars that use too much energy of one form or another.
  • Too much shipping things places they don't need to go and then shipping them other places they don't need to go until we just end up shipping them to the landfills. 
  • Too much pushing information around on the 'net that doesn't need to be pushed around, especially pictures and promises of pictures of naked people, promises of easy money, promises of miracle cures, and other fraud.
  • Too much manufacturing things that don't need to be manufactured.
  • Too much fighting each other about what the other guy should be doing.
  • Too much fighting each other, not just with weapons of blades and explosives, but with money, products, presentations, advertising, words, regulations, laws, intellectual property, ...
  • Too much meaningless competition.
  • Too much trying to control the other guy.
  • Too much.
We have to learn how to help each other not do too much.

We have to learn how to help each other make a living without polluting.

How do we do that? More rules?

Since when does making more rules help anybody do anything?

More machines?

Actually, more machines, if we weren't so busy controlling what the other guy is doing with them, could help.

What are the underlying causes of the doing too much? Why, for example, does Intel waste so much of our global semiconductor resources manufacturing CPUs, memory devices, etc., for more energy inefficient devices that people really don't want?

What did I just say?

What do you see when you go to the electronics store to look at consumer information/computing devices?

More MSWindows/Intel devices. Intel and Microsoft are really pushing hard to keep their effective near-monopoly that allows them to control the market so they can claim (among other things) that they are too big to brought to account for their illegal and immoral activities -- too big to be shut down. (We've heard that before, too.)

What do people really want?

iOS devices that use mostly non-Intel parts and non-Microsoft software.

If not that, Android devices that, again, run perfectly fine without either Intel or Microsoft.

After that? MacOS devices that, if it were not for a "switch" that Apple pulled to get Intel out of their hair about ten years ago, never needed anything Intel at all.

And after that? Open software devices that are perfectly fine for most people's workstation needs, that, again, unless you invoke constrained and fraudulent Intellectual Property arguments, are completely independent of Intel and Microsoft technology.

No, Intel CPUs are not and have never been faster than the PowerPC devices that IBM and Motorola offered to allow pretty much anyone to make. Nor will they ever be more efficient than the ARM devices that pretty much anyone can make now.

That switch that Apple pulled wasn't about speed or efficiency at all. It was about fraudulent intellectual property claims that Intel was, and still is using to keep other companies from making competing products.

And now it is about the NSA insisting that all information/computing devices have to have backdoors so they can eavesdrop on your and my conversations, so that they can send the black ops guys around to tell you and me we are doing something they don't want us to do. So we have to be given a reason to dump our perfectly good information/computing device (smartphones included) and buy something that has been manufactured in the last few years by Intel or someone licensed to use the Intel backdoors.

Who is that "they" that doesn't want you to do something that really isn't anyone's business but your own and your neighbor's and God's?

"They" are the invisible competition, the invisible bad guys, the demons in the rich guys minds, the excuse for the people with all the money to keep having to work overtime making other people work overtime to produce product that nobody needs or really wants so that "they" can win the race that nobody needs to be running.

Boston was fun to listen to when I was younger. Not so much now, but
I understand about indecision,
I don't care if I get [left] behind,
People living in competition,
All I want is to have my peace of mind.
(And "they" want to give us "their" piece of their mind.)

Look in the mirror. Why are you running so hard to go places you don't need to go?

You could at least be running just for exercise, instead ...

... if you can't figure out a good reason to go to places real people actually need you to go at a pace that doesn't wear you and everybody else out.

You and I and the people near us deciding to slow down a little would do a whole lot to reduce the excessive use of energy in our local environment.

And if that started happening all over the world, we could have a little more time and energy for getting food and clothes and other necessities to people who need them, so that they quit feeling like they have to bring the wars to our doorsteps to get the necessities we have too much of and they have too little of.

We'd have a little more time and energy for doing things that really mean something.

And we could make friends in the process, and that would help us start solving some of the other social problems that people say we need to solve.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Magical Solution to Debate Lack of Quality

Invite the top three third party candidates to the next one.

If they'll come.

(The might prefer to avoid the noise fight.)

If they would join the debate, the Donald couldn't just focus on Hillary's perceived weaknesses.

Frankly, that the debate organizers have failed to go out of their way to invite the third party candidates this year says something to me about the debate organizers' motivations and goals.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

So Why Are We Surprised at Anything the Candidates Say?

Ten years ago. Trump's third marriage, and he hadn't been working all that hard to hide his libidinous proclivities anyway. We knew already what sort of person he was ten years ago.

And we knew what sort of things he would brag about, off-the-cuff, in certain kinds of situations, in certain kinds of company.

And we think we know that he has grown up a bit. Otherwise, we wouldn't have given him the Republican nomination, now, would we?

I had junior high school teachers who said things like
Them as do, don't talk about it.
when the young boys were bragging in the locker room.

(One teacher/coach in particular, having said that, would later point out in class that it was a truism, not a truth.

He was just trying to get the boys to "engage their brains before engaging their mouths." And trying to point out that "The talk often doesn't match the walk."

I didn't appreciate that teacher then nearly as much as I do know. He was a good man, not perfect, not nearly as smart as he wanted to be, but trying hard to give the students some benefit from his own experience.)

I never made such brags. I didn't join in those conversations, in part because I was a good Mormon and Mormon boys (are supposed to) learn not to think their personal worth depends on the opinions of the people around them. My not joining in those conversations helped keep me out of the prevailing social circles, but I preferred it that way, really.

But I will admit I bragged some stupid brags about non-sexual matters.

(50cc Eisenhower? Hah. Although I did, after that brag, waste some time daydreaming, and maybe drawing up some crude diagrams of a model motorcycle that would take a 5cc model airplane engine, which I would hand-letter "Eisenhower" where Honda had lettered the Elsinore brand in.)

I am not a fan of "the Donald".

My wife responded to later radio news that mentioned the brag in the process of announcing the debate that was just starting with, "Why don't they both just drop out of the race?"

And I basically agree.

I've pointed out elsewhere in this blog (here, too) that I am not looking forward to el espectáculo of the next four years if either of the "front-runners" gets elected. But I also expect whoever gets elected to eventually get used to the job and do it no worse than many of the past presidents have.

It's lousy timing for a lousy president, but we've had lousy presidents before. Sometimes, lousy presidents have been, overall, good for the country. We are not supposed to be dependent on our government that way.

I expect the USA to survive. Maybe just barely, but the country, as a whole, will survive as long as the people, overall, remain loyal to the inherent responsibilities of freedom.

The circus the media is making of this is the greater shame.

(Unless, of course, we actually have a general cultural awakening to the errors in thinking that sex is about conquest, and not just an outcry, to be forgotten in less than four weeks, and whitewashed over in four months.)