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Friday, December 25, 2015


The emotional process of missing another is odd. There are a variety of ways we can feel it and a variety of ways the feeling can be triggered. More importantly, though, is the variety of different ways absence can be created.

The most common is the lack of physical presence. This absence is self explanatory and requires no analysis. This type of missing someone is alleviated when the two are reunited. Sadly, life is finite and our chances to be reunited are limited by the clutches of death.

More that mere physical absence, though, comes the emotional strain that occurs when someone is missed because a close bond has drifted, often on both ends, to a point where it is no longer recognizable for what it once was. When this happens and either party says they miss the other they are mistaken; they miss what the pair of who they both used to be shared.

Sometimes missing someone happens because one party changes significantly. This, too, is a scenario in which the party who is being missed is no longer available, does not even exist, to the party who is doing the missing.

A variation on the single party change is the revelation that someone whom you appreciated and liked is not really who they appeared to be. This type of missing often manifests with a form of resentment as the missed party for having misrepresented themselves but, often, it is our own fault for evaluating the other party incorrectly.

Furthering that trend becomes a large betrayal. The large betrayal, though, is one we inflict upon ourselves rather than one which is inflicted upon us. This happens when we build a fantasy of a person; design who we want them to be for us; and our design does not match who they really are. We miss not them, but who we imagined them to be; who we needed them to be; who we wanted them to be.

The last form of missing someone that is readily apparent to me is the form that is less severe than jealousy but is, in reality, the same. This is the missing we feel when we see someone is exactly who and what we want but they are that for someone other than ourselves. We miss the person we cannot have and, thus, resent the person and scenario we have instead.

I miss lots of people.
I miss people in all of these categories.

I wish I could stop missing people in the worst of the categories and be present in the lives of the people whose presence would alleviate missing them.
Mostly, though, I wish I could erase the people who I miss because of who I thought they were..... I wish I could erase who I thought they were and see them for who they are from the start.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Liberalism vs Conservatism

I appreciate reasonable conservatives.
I appreciate reasonable liberals.
I appreciate reasonable people.

When people cease being reasonable I get angry which makes me unreasonable. I dislike being unreasonable.

The United States of America is NOT a Christian nation; it's a secular nation. Freedom of and freedom from religion. The state is, by law, supposed to be completely atheist.

The country was founded on very old ideas that were considered ridiculous by the ruling people of Europe when the US was made. Democracy and a representative Republic are both VERY liberal ideas.

The base laws of this country are a liberal experiment.

The Amendment process was designed with the idea that times change and, therefore, the core foundation of the government may require updates. THAT is a liberal idea that puts forth the idea of continuing change; which is a liberal idea.

With all of that, though, there are core concepts of the far left that over-step the foundational ideas of freedom and liberty. These ideas almost invariably slide into the realm of protecting the overall good at the expense of the individual; what makes them over-stepping is when they are unsustainable.

"To promote the general welfare" is an important liberal idea, and exact passage, in the core foundational documents that can sometimes be at odds with the core ideas of personal liberty.

The reality, though, is that we cannot protect the needs of the many by sacrificing the needs of the few in an unsustainable manner. That is no better than protecting the needs of the few at the expense of the many.
Reasonable Conservatives can see the benefits of protecting the many enough to allow them to all be individual contributors. The reasonable Liberals can see the needs of the individuals and discern where the burden placed on the individuals exceeds the ability of contributors to contribute.
I look at the current political climate and I see a splintering of ideals. I see the growing trend of fright-based neoconservatism that uses the language of the country's foundation in a warped and perverted manner to put forth an agenda of fear and hatred and exclusion rather than the core idea of "all men are created equal."
I want the conservative party that stood for minimalist government where all the government served a purpose that benefitted all. A conservative party that celebrates freedom for all. A party that supports freedom of, and from, religion such that it embraces ALL people from all beliefs. I want the conservative party that examines the bottom-line impact of social programs and implements them when the "safety net" has a net financial benefit to society
- Tiny homes for the homeless rather than shelter? It saves money per person? DO IT.

- Decriminalizing drugs decreases the number of users and abusers AND reduces violent crime AND reduces prison expenses? DO IT.

- Spending more on education shows economic growth and a reduction in prison expenses? DO IT.

- Keeping people from losing their homes when they have an economic hardship prevents them from having to use many more social services and allows them to become a productive member of the economy again faster? DO IT.

- We suspect people on social assistance are abusing the program in mass numbers and using the money to buy drugs so we want to test them. DO IT.......

- Umm. we found that 2% of the people tested actually had drugs in their system and the testing program costs significantly more than eliminating those benefits.... STOP IT.

- Rehab programs allow people to get off drugs and remain functional members of the economy? FUND THEM

- Tax funded healthcare costs less per capita than our current system and has superior performance on a maintenance level of care in every country it is used in? DO IT.

- Banking regulations being lifted causes a siphon that pulls capital out of the middle and lower classes and causes the consumer economy to shrink on a per-person-hour basis? BRING BACK THE REGS.

- Making free and compulsory high schools boosted the economy overall and we need college educations in today's world to move forward? MAKE IT HAPPEN.

- Kids are graduating college with 5-10 years' pay in school debt, crippling their ability to make a living and contribute to the economy? DON'T MAKE IT HAPPEN LIKE THAT, DO BETTER

- Guns are a major drain on the economy? LET'S WORK TO REDUCE GUN VIOLENCE

All of these ideas are NOT liberal when examined from a fiscal view. EVERY idea, when examined fiscally and without regard to whether or not someone is going to "get away with it" can be examined from the VERY conservative view of "show me the data."

When we make data-driven policies and laws we make progress that is responsible. We make the lives better for everyone. We follow the core ideas of making "the American Dream" a reality for everyone. Data-driven ideas and policies are how we temper our ethics, morality, and desire to help against our collective ability to actually help.

I'm glad that most of my friends get this (even when we tend to bicker over some of the specific points); I wish EVERYONE did.

SOME references on these topics:

Tiny Homes:

Decriminalizing drugs:

Education prevents prison:

Keeping people in their homes:

Welfare drug testing:
"The statistics show that applicants actually test positive at a lower rate than the drug use of the general population. "

Rehab to cut prison costs:

Health care expenditures:

Banking regulations:

Creating public high schools improved the economy:
Citation Needed

College education is needed:

College debt is crippling:

Cost of gun crime:

I AM the Credible Hulk

Friday, June 26, 2015

Why I hate the terms "white privilege" and "male privilidge"

No, it's not because I am a white male...

Well, it is and it isn't.

I hate the term because it does NOT reflect actual meaning of the word.

noun: privilege; plural noun: privileges
a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.
"education is a right, not a privilege"
As a middle class, white male with nearly crippling student debt that I am putting off by acquiring more I can tell you that I am NOT awarded any special rights. My life has been a life that I would consider the baseline of what EVERYONE should be able to have: I had two parents that cared for me; I had enough food to eat; I was warm enough in the winter; I was able to get a good public education; I had a dog; etc. These basics are NOT a privileged state in this country: they are the baseline of what SHOULD be.

Tangential side note: EVERYONE in this country is privileged compared to the world baseline.

Is there privilege in this country? Yes, absolutely. But it is NOT tied directly to skin color or gender. It's tied to cash. Is that cash tied to skin color and gender? In most cases it is because it has been accumulated and handed down.

I am NOT among the elite few who have privilege. I am the "zero line."
Therefore, everyone below "my station" is actually something else: they're oppressed.

noun: oppression; plural noun: oppressions
  1. prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control.
    "a region shattered by oppression and killing"

    synonyms:persecution, abuse, maltreatment, ill-treatment, tyranny, despotism, repression, suppression, subjection, subjugation; More
    "the young people in this country have known nothing but oppression"
    antonyms:freedom, democracy
This is where my real hatred of the terms comes into play.
By calling ME privileged we, as a society, are actually deemphasizing the true problem; we're taking away from the seriousness of what our society is doing to a rather large segment of the population. We're devaluing them even more by applying a false label to "my station" in life.

Anyone who lacked the meager, but sufficient, financial resources that I had in my youth is being oppressed.
Anyone who gains additional scrutiny from law enforcement because of their skin color is being oppressed.
Anyone who has more trouble finding a job because of their gender or race is being oppressed.

Privilege is not the problem: oppression is.

A lot of white people are uncomfortable with the term "white privilege" because it makes them feel "white guilt" but some feel angry at it for reasons they cannot label. I believe that they see the explanation I am laying out but have not found the words to apply to it. Meanwhile, those who support the term "privilege" would prefer to attack those who dislike the term rather than actually examine the situation as what it really is.

Some minimal research indicates that the term "white privilege" appeared in academia when people where studying the differences in the racial profiles in this country. This, in itself, tells me all I need to know about why the term was selected. Academia is controlled by older white men. The farther back in time you go the more true this is. Everyone likes privileges. To write academic papers that outlines that white men are privileged to be such would, at first, make those in charge of funding and grants very happy. They are, in the eyes of their researchers, the elite of the elite.

Why do we keep the term?
There is no proof on why the term is kept, except that momentum is hard to change.
My thoughts, however, are that keeping the term is beneficial to those who are truly privileged.
The rich are the only ones who carry legitimate privilege and extra rights. They have their way paved for them on a road of money.

I'm not the only one who sees this; there are many comics that highlight this reality. Here is one that does it exceptionally well:

This is a FANTASTIC explanation on how the little things that shape our lives change them. The comic calls it Privilege it partly is; but, it is also highlighting the oppression in our society. Even though I disagree with the terminology being used the way it is I think EVERYONE needs to read it.

But, I will now tear it apart; not for the content but to show where our terminology is terribly misguided. The yellow annotations indicate what I consider to be a regular baseline circumstance that EVERYONE should experience. The green is where actual privilege is being bestowed and, correspondingly, the red demonstrates where oppression is occurring; the orange is partway between active oppression and a normal experience that everyone should have. The blue is clearly labeled.

[Please pardon my terrible annotation on these graphics.... the only tool I have available as I write this is MS Paint]

The way we're using the term "Privilege" is an illusion. It is a smokescreen that allows those with the real privilege to go unnoticed. It's another tool to pit the "lower classes" against each other rather than having the bottom 99.9% see who the real enemy is. The usage of the word, is a tool to further the "class warfare" that is being applied to all of us; the very process of crushing the middle class and systematically oppressing the poor is a state that keeps the rich in their position (up to the very collapse of a financial society.... but that is another topic).

If you use the term "privilege" in this way you are not only being a foot soldier against the oppressed people but, also, against yourself.
I would love to see us change this pattern and start acknowledging that our system OPPRESSES women and all of the races other than white. The system crushes them systematically.

I am not privileged; I merely escaped the oppression engine so that I can struggle through this life.

If I were privileged I could use this:

To avoid this:

But, given that I had to move home after college and I have a year's salary in student loan debt I'd say I haven't been able to avoid this last picture.

That's NOT privilege; it's merely NOT being totally oppressed.

The more I think about this the more I believe it to be true.
If one examines the roots of culture in European-centric countries (e.g. countries, like the United States of America, which were colonized by Caucasian Europeans) it becomes apparent that there is a base expectation of barely sustainable, almost-poverty among the peasant classes. A level of economic freedom to be able to sustain oneself but not enough to "rise above one's station."
This is the baseline expectation that was brought to the colonies. The idea of an aristocracy that is better than the peasantry was an inherent part of the cultures that the colonists all brought with them.
This also included the idea that women are property rather than people.
Stack onto this the idea of slavery, which existed in much of the "civilized" world into the 19th century (and exists still in some parts of the world) and an idea of property is applied to anyone with a different skin color from those in the aristocracy.
The abject poverty of the minorities reinforces the perception that they are less than human. Their inability to escape the poverty reinforces the idea that they are all criminals because crime and poverty are linked. Desperate people do desperate things JUST TO SURVIVE.
Anyone who is having to turn to crime to survive their society is oppressed by that society.
When entire groups of people are stuck in poverty and the system makes it nearly impossible to escape they are as surely enslaved as if they were still considered property.

To call being recognized as an individual with individual rights and freedoms "privileged" is to declare that being considered property and/or worthless and/or trash is an acceptable NORM.

I reject this idea.

No one is property. No one is trash by default. No one is worthless unless they make themselves that way.

The oppression is systemic and reaches all the way back to indisputable oppression.

So why are we choosing to change the name, and the perspective, of this system now to make the people struggling to barely live the "American Dream" the enemy by calling them privileged when there are people of true privilege sustaining the overall system with their greed?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Dogs and the Beerfall

May all who hear my message beware this tale for it is a tale of conspiracy and adventure and betrayal as perpetrated by our dearest allies – dogs.
Our tale begins in times deep in the ancient history, this past Tuesday, when an allotment of alcoholic root beer was brought forth from the foreign land of “the store” to the vast empire of the dogs. In the time that passed since the arrival of the grand beverage many meals were consumed by the mystical beings known as “Mama” and “Papa” on the magical table of coffee, upon which all consumables are placed; NEVER to be touched by any of the dog realm.
Peace reigned through the land for many times until a grand opportunity arose. Yester eve there was a bottle of the magical elixir of the mystical beings left, unattended, on this magic table. Lord enforcer, Eirik, snoozed quietly on his preferred throne of the squishy couch cushions when the two rapscallions, Ms. Ellie and Young Master Ender, opted to cavort in the play of puppies and ran about the entire realm not once, not twice, perhaps even more than thrice in a circular fashion. In their playful rambunctiousness one of these younger citizens of the realm discovered the unattended bottle of magical Mama elixir and opted to investigate it. This activity, far from being encouraged, is against one of the paramount commandments of the realm. This commandment, of course, being issued forth as “get off the table” by the mystical and benevolent rulers of all. With neither Mama nor Papa present little Master Ender took the opportunity to investigate the contents of the bottle. In doing so he also experimented, although it was likely unintentional, with the physics of how a bottle can remain upright and the volume of force required to overturn the moment of inertia as the center of gravity is shifted.
                With a sudden “thunk” the bottle overturned itself, spilling forth a vast fountain of the magical beverage contained within. A beverage coveted by the citizens of the realm for it is a beverage that MUST be special since Mama won’t let them have any. The fountain poured with wild abandon onto the table of coffee and cascaded into a beerfall over the edge and onto the floor.
                Ever-vigilant, Ms Ellie, immediately leaped into action to “help” the situation. She sacrificed herself as a mop by placing her head directly under the waterfall with obvious intent to soak up as much of the spilled liquid as possible so that neither Mama, nor Papa, would have to clean it. When this effort proved insufficient to remedy the situation she began her additional efforts to clean the spilled liquid from the floor as she would clean water from her bowl. Young Master Ender, an impressionable youth to be certain, saw Ellie’s noble efforts to prevent the mess from growing and joined her in her efforts to clean the mess from the floor and surface of the table of coffee.
                After an age, perhaps 10 whole minutes, Mama returned to the scene to find the vast adventure completed and the clean-up efforts nearly terminated as well. She, contrary to the intent of the perfectly innocent members of the canine realm, was not pleased with what they had accomplished in her absence. She relinquished their freedom to the dungeons of “time out” and asked Papa to carry out the sentence.
                Meanwhile, Eirik looked on, paw on face, with a mild level of amusement. Once could almost hear him saying “I told you so” to his younger companions as they were escorted away.
                This morrow brought new light to the situation and brought a fresh dawn to the lives of the canine citizens. All is forgiven and, yet, Ellie’s fate has not been completed for, tonight, she must face the wrath of “bath time” to clear the remnants of her efforts from the top of her head.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Y --> X as Applied to the Concept of Social Privilege

I hold a view on things that many people, particularly those most affected, find offensive.
I hold the view that "privilege" is not an appropriate label for the societal advantages that being male and being white provide for someone.

My stance on this is based on the idea that the middle-class white male should be the base starting point for everyone. Everyone should get that level of opportunity and non-bias applied to their efforts to build a solid and sustainable life for themselves.

If we apply the Y to X methodology of problem solving to this situation we see that my view is actually correct.

First off we must define the problem statement.
What is wrong?

The thing that is wrong is that not all parties get treated equally.
It has nothing to do with gender nor with race; it has entirely to do with the mere existence of bias in the system.

This is, essentially, the "first split" of the problem and it results in three groups: people who are advantaged and have success handed to them, people who are able to achieve success without dramatic hurdles impairing them, and the disadvantaged who are often unable to achieve success regardless of their own abilities and efforts.

The next split, if one were to proceed toward trying to solve this problem, is to examine the data regarding conditions that lead to the three different groupings.

Rather than outline this from the "bottom up" methodology I will skip directly to the obvious conclusion. The advantaged group and the middle group are, mostly, white males.

This creates a false appearance of privilege because the other demographics see, clearly, a correlation between skin color and gender that is then interpreted as a potential causal mechanism. It is not. If it were a causal mechanism then all white males would hold all positions of power and no one else would be able to achieve any.

So let's split off that as a current demographic cause of the privilege experienced in the higher group as compared to the middle group. What remains is inherent wealth. Wealth is something that everyone in the advantaged group possess. They possess it in abundance. They possess it in enough quantity that they can set is aside to grow more wealth at rates that are hard to spend. (We could do another split on this group to examine those who earned their wealth versus those who inherited it, but I find that to be unimportant for this line of logic).

Examining the key difference between the second and third groups outlines a vast difference in the available wealth. The second group is able to meet their basic needs while the third group is struggling on a daily basis to ensure that they are fed and housed, etc. It is nearly impossible to break through the upper wealth barrier when your needs are met, and equally difficult to break into stability from poverty.
Thus the lower two groups cannot be privileged and the bottom group is actually oppressed by their socioeconomic status. This validates my opinion that middle-class white males are NOT privileged. They are the default starting point; the rich are the privileged and the poor are the disadvantaged.

The gender bias, like the wealth bias, is not a situation of males being privileged; it is also a situation of oppression.

By putting forth the accusations of privilege toward those who are obviously also struggling the blame of the overall situation is being misdirected and in such a way as to mask those really at the heart of the issue.

There are a lot of people who benefit from not being among the oppressed who fear the erosion of their own position through the elevation of the remainder. They should worry about this. Removal of the oppressive factors against women and minorities will force the more mediocre of the white, middle-class males to compete more for their own current position. This is not the same as privilege; it's increasing their competition by removing oppressive factors against those who are the opposite of privileged.

Examining the picture in this manner in a more widespread situation would bring about as much shame on those who fight to preserve the situation, perhaps more since they are then to be seen as supporting active oppression rather than relying on their own privilege. Examining the situation in this light will highlight those who are most privileged and that, in the end, will work to their detriment. This is why they are perfectly happy to distribute the claim of privilige in such a way as to dilute their own responsibility in the eyes of the oppressed.

We need to reverse our perspective on this and start calling those who are not privileged as being oppressed instead of examining the idea of all white men as being privileged.

I see the situation for what it is; I see that many people I know have opportunities that the "American Dream" promises and many more are encountering roadblocks along their way due to their skin color or gender. I see my own struggles and I know that I am NOT privileged; I am working through life as best I can. I have seen privilege - I have seen the rich who get everything handed to them. I see those who can treat people terribly with a complete disregard to anyone else. THAT is privilege; not struggling through day-to-day life.

We need to work at this problem not from accusing people of having an unfair ADVANTAGE but, rather, accusing society of being able, and willing, to create a disadvantage for a vast portion of the population.

How can we level the disadvantages out?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Device - fiction

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" - Arthur C. Clarke

So prophetic and true this statement is; and I know it first hand.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Little Dinosaurs

Carefully stalking her prey she tilts her head from side to side gauging the distance.
Her fast and powerful legs propel her across the landscape to intercept her meal in mid flight.
One quick crunch and the prey is finished; turned into a nutritious and tasty snack.

Satisfied, for the moment, she turns her head to see he sisters as they patrol the field looking for tasty morsels of their own.

A delicious bounty is discovered and they all run for their share before the others consume the whole in its entirety; their wings providing just enough lift to increase their speed and make their bounds hint at flight without ever achieving it.

Their calls shatter the silence of the afternoon as they revel in tearing the newfound food apart and continue with their personal entertainment.

The stalking and hunting continues for the duration of the afternoon and the pack returns to their nest for the evening.

The farmer counts her hens as she closes up the pen for the evening. "Good night, my little dinosaurs, good night."

Friday, January 2, 2015

Mandatory Phones

My life changed when I reached ten years old; that's when my parents split.
The next few years brought a variety of changes including the injection of the man who is, and has been for the past 20 years, my second father.

This man owned one of the first mobile phones in the area I grew up in. It was a bulky bag phone that had almost no talk time in the battery capacity and even less in the service plan.
By today's terms it was complete garbage.

But it was a phone IN HIS CAR!

I recall a variety of conversations about this including one in which we discussed calling the car in front of us because they had the telltale cellular phone antenna on the roof of their vehicle and the resulting realization that there was (and still is) no directory of cell phone users; especially not one that cross-references the cars into which the phones are in (now this is a moot point because they are not permanently installed in the cars).

The most intriguing conversation I recall happening brought out a shortcoming in my young vocabulary.

We were driving along and I was contemplating the reality of the phone in the car and the reality of how much the usage of phones was changing as cordless phones were becoming more reasonably price for homes and as long distance phone charges were becoming cheaper and cheaper. Extra functions, like call waiting, were being added and were reasonably priced.

It occurred to me, at that moment, that there would be a future in which the mobile phone was a major part of everyone's life.
"I think, in the future, mobile phones will be much smaller and be mandatory." I said.

The rebuttal was immediate. Mobile phones would NEVER mandatory; no law would be passed to force people to have them.

I outlined that that is not what I meant. I described that they would be so incredibly useful that everyone would have one for their own convenience because they would be small enough and cheap enough to replace, or, at least, supplement, the home phone.

My prediction was met with less forceful rebuttal than my use of the word "mandatory" but it came with a "well, this phone is not nearly as useful as I thought it would be. I wish I had never bought it."

The word I was trying to use is "ubiquitous," but I had never seen, nor heard, that word before so I could not use it. I went on to describe the very nature of the word and how I think things will play out for a bit longer before I realized that neither other party in the car cared, nor even believed what I was saying COULD be true.

Approximately seven years later I acquired my first cell phone. It was a Motorola Startac.
Approximately two years later I converted to ONLY having a mobile phone (banks had trouble with this concept for an additional two years or so).
Approximately four years after that I was handed a phone for work. It was required that I have one and that I keep it on me while at work. It was, in essence, MANDATORY for me to have that phone.

A couple years later the cell phone penetration rate in the U.K. exceeded 100% and in the U.S. it has approached it meaning that, statistically speaking, there is more than one cell phone for every adult in the country.

So, without even realizing that I was misusing the word in my prediction both my intended prediction and my accidental prediction based on the misuse of a word also came true.

Years later I predicted that the PADD from Star Trek would become a reality in my lifetime. That, too, was laughed at by people I know. But, at this point, I can say I was right on that, too.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Surveillance - fiction

The very first time two sentient species encountered each other the same process has been used.