Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Yes, Transgender rights, but what about the vulnerable ones?

About 20 years ago I was walking out of my downtown office for lunch and I spied two young black boys breaking into a newspaper machine for the quarters.  It was downtown at lunch and the sidewalks were filled with people. No one - including me - tried to stop them and hold them accountable. You see to do so in inner city St. Louis might get you called a 'racist' and who wants that trouble.  If they'd been white in the suburbs, sure we would have stopped them.  But these kids were clearly damaged by our indifference - no doubt they interpreted the impunity that they had and attempted more and more audacious and serious crimes until they ended up in jail or worse.  It is quite possible that middle class, white society, through its self righteous indifference, hated those boys to death.

We now have the great "Transgender Liberation".  Up until now if I had seen a person that looked like a man going into a women' bathroom or locker I would have personally gone up to them and told them to get the hell out and if they resisted found enough other men to throw them out.  I have no doubt any number of seriously Trans men went in unbeknownst to me and did no harm but if I had seen someone questionable there's no doubt what I would have done.  No more.  For to do so in today's rights environment would get me punished. Now the Transgender bathroom issue isn't really a big deal for my daughter or her friends - they're upper middle class and live in communities where there are lots of responsible and vigilant civic minded people who will keep the craziness to a minimum.  But I keep thinking about those doomed boys.  And their sisters in inner city schools where misogyny and sexual violence are already endemic.  The doomed boys no doubt will interpret the new regime as giving them another form of 'fun'. And the schools will struggle to fight against it, fearing - as we did - to be brought up on civil rights charges.

So once again we may end up with a situation where middle class, progressive, white society - through its self centered, self righteousness - finds a new way to hate poor boys and girls to death.

Sexual Predators are like wolves: they adapt.

I have friends who live in Jackson Hole.  The National Parks were being overrun by an elk herd that had grown to 20,000 animals.  So the Feds introduced a timber wolf pack from Canada. In a period of years the timber wolves reduced the Yellowstone and Grand Teton elk herd to 1,000 animals.  Then the timber wolves turned their attention to private Elk ranches.  The ranches, having barbed wire and electrified fences had thought their animals were safe.  But the wolves adapted to take advantage of the new situation.  Their tastes have also become more esoteric - they found it easy to kill the somewhat domesticated elk.  My friend posted a photo of 18 dead elk - only two had been eaten on at all - they had had the fetal elks ripped from their wombs.  It turns out that the modern timber wolf has adapted to the point where it likes baby meat....and kills for fun. My question is this:  if wild predators adapt to take advantage of the opportunities that changes in their environment offer, how much more will human sexual predators take advantage of the new rules on "Transgender" to do much more of that thing that they find so fun? And when they do, who will take responsibility for the decision to make their predation so much easier and more frequent?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Progressive Paradoxes

Here are some things Progressives believe that make no sense to me. It could be that my libertarian psyche simply can't conceive of them and so I solicit good Proggos to set me straight.  I recognize that there are probably many libertarian/conservative paradoxes as well but the paradox is that the true believer (moi) can't yank the beam out of his own eye, only the others side's.  I welcome anyone who wants to outline them for me.  Now without further ado: on with the paradox(es?, paradi? hmmm).

1. Progressives hold that the US is a particularly if not uniquely sinful nation - despoiling the environment, looting the third world and funneling the wealth to plutocrats.  Yet they consider it axiomatic that the US government is the key to 'fundamentally transforming' America to heal us of our 'sin'.  Yet this government is derived from the degraded nation.  How can the product of degradation rescue that which has made it?

2. Progressives complain that capitalism concentrates too much wealth and power in the hands of a small elite, fostering Oligopoly and Monopoly.  Yet their solution to thousands of independent power centers holding too much power is to take that power and centralize it in a single Government monopoly that includes monopoly on the use of force.  How does further concentrating wealth and power at the center "disperse" and "democratize" power?

3. Progressives argue that all cultures are valid and that it is inappropriate to 'privilege' western cultural norms over those of others.  They say everyone's culture should be respected and honored as a matter of course.  Except for one:  Traditional American Christian Culture. Progressives are utterly intolerant of the older, more traditional version of American culture that still has a large, perhaps even majority following.  How can Progressives respect cultures that are far more reactionary than traditional American Culture and not do the same for the culture that most of them grew up in?

4. Progressives argue that many private or quasi private services (healthcare, banking, etc.) should be managed and controlled if not owned by the state.  But that means that resource allocation and policy choices will be decided by between 30% and 60% of the electorate voting once every two years, most voting as a tribe in utter ignorance.  Even worse, this process excludes other critical stakeholders like immigrants and our continental neighbors from having any meaningful input into policies that certainly affect them. Yet the same people that 'swing for the seats' with a few minutes of clueless voting every two years invest hundreds of times more effort and brain power in their shopping behavior giving all of them, including our neighbors and immigrants, multiple opportunities to influence myriad power centers with their economic 'votes' every day.  Given the degraded and wholly notional "control" exercised over the US Government, why do Progressives call it "Democratic"? Why isn't the market which gives everyone a say multiple times a day more Democratic and egalitarian?

5. If it is illegal discrimination for a business to deny services and products available to the public to someone based upon race, gender, religion or sexual preference then how do Apple, Paypal and Bruce Springsteen get away with denying everyone in a conservative, Christian, heterosexual culture like North Carolina, or Indiana access to their services or custom?

6.  How is it that progressives like Apple and Paypal boycott US states for regularizing toilet rules while they both do massive amounts of business in places like Singapore or India where homosexual and transexual acts are outlawed? How can they despise their co citizens who share their culture and are much closer to them even on issues with which they disagree, while forgiving other cultures of much worse sins?

7. Politically elite Universities are the most 'progressive' places in the country.  Yet they explicitly skim off a cognitive elite and facilitate their intermarriage, creating a self sustaining and set apart caste of elites who share their University Experience.  How do progressives in these institutions justify the reactionary results of their labors?  Much less the 4X real increase in per unit cost of the same education that was on offer in 1980.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Appropriating cultural appropriation appropriation-wise

OK.  So let me see if I've got this straight:  If I choose to wear dreadlocks as this (remarkably pathetic looking) white man at SFSU was accosted for, then I am committing "cultural appropriation" of an 'African' hair style. Yet according to archaeologists, the first dreadlocks were worn by Egyptians.  So all people except those of Egyptian descent who wear the 'locks are in fact cultural appropriating. And while we're at it:  trousers (pants if you're a girl) were invented by horseback riding pastoralists on the edge of China.  So Big Boy pants are Chinese.  So everyone drop 'em right now, you racist, cultural appropriators, you. And of course the concept of cultural appropriation comes from the western European philosophical tradition of existentialism, post modernism and literary deconstruction. So even using the concept much less the term of cultural appropriation is culturally appropriating my culture.  So back off man! You're oppressing me.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Hello

Hello.

It's such a little word. 
Just five letters, two vowels.

Yet it travels farther than any other.
Reaching across canyons that divide us.

Where we sit alone, aloof, waiting to be rescued.
By the brave ones, the ones that dare risk the jump.

We watch and wait for them, in readiness to catch -
the life preserver that saves us from ourselves.

I'm grateful for all the brave souls.
Souls who reached out to me.

Souls like yours.
Bearing a word:

Hello.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

And so it begins

Lee Kwan Yew demonstrated that you can run a successful authoritarian regime. So long as your economy is far from the innovation/productivity boundary so that it is easy to generate outsize returns. And so long as you govern a small, homogenous polity. It also helps if you have Anglo Saxon constitutionalism with its common law tradition to constrain your henchmen's impunity. And critically:  you must be brilliantly competent.

Not so a 3.7 million square mile (vs 256) 320 million (vs 4.5) person empire spread over 7 time (vs 1) and 11 climactic (vs 1) zones that is at the innovation/productivity boundary. The wrenching changes required of economies at the boundary to keep growth moving forward attract rent seekers eager to profit from or retard the changes. Decisions made far away by unfireable apparatchiks in a ramshackle bureaucracy appear  illegitimate and oppressive (because they often are). The law which once was grounded in a tradition of constraining the state is now the seen as the state's tool of oppression in service to the richest,  most lavish of the rent seekers who infest the visibly richer, plutocratic capital city that is so very far away.

It is a system that is so huge, so complex that success can only be achieved at times of unusual international and domestic stability (Clinton 1) or during the emergence of a strong national consensus (Reagan) managed by highly skilled leaders able to expertly surf the waves of change. Yet I doubt if either RWR or WJC could handle today's challenges because the state's rule is so very much more invasive and manipulative than even back then. The unfireables have so much more power in large swathes of our society with only a modest and fading democratic audit of their activities. And Barack Obama is not a competent man. Neither will Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump be up to the task. The curse of brittle centralized authoritarian empires is a string of weak rulers and we have had such a string. And there is little doubt it will continue.

And the increasingly cynical left authoritarianism of the current occupant of the Eagle throne has engendered an equally troubling backlash. Both sides have concluded that the state is far too powerful to safely entrust to their political enemies for 4 or 8 years. Both sides calculate that they cannot afford to lose and so the political violence has begun.  Verbal violence has begat street violence has begat open talk of political murder which I fear will lead to real political murders on a scale never seen before.

Only then will the arrogance and cruelty of the centralizers become clear. But then it will be too late to amicably reorder our relations into the looser, less centralized, prescriptive and bureaucratic polity that our wiser forefathers built for us. I fear the poison will have sunk so deep into our hearts that both sides will calculate that the only way to ensure their survival is victory.

And then the real killing begins. Both here and around a world shorn of its stabilizing hegemon. And the people will cry out: My God My God why have you forsaken us? And the Gods of the Copy Book Headings will reply  "We did not forsake you. In your greed and arrogance you have forsaken us".

Monday, March 14, 2016

This chick is nuts.

I'm waiting for a friend at this topless damn you smartphone spellchecker! I mean tapas bar. I'm sorry but I've been having knock down drag out fights with lady in my phone and I think the cyborg you know what is resorting to sabotage. She's extremely territorial and gets jealous at the slightest provocation. I decided to use the rental car's GPS lady rather than her (she's been deliberately routing me onto giant traffic jams because I turn her off at night but I have to, she won't stop beeping) and she threw a cyborg hissy fit. I'm searching for a nice boring Midwestern man avatar. This chick is nuts.

The Chain

He couldn't make the Wise One understand.

The chain was biting into his ankle.  The unbreakable chain that bound all the continental children.  Up until now, it had been loose but some of the others had tipped over the edge into the abyss and now it was getting tight.

"Well of course there are problems" the Wise One said in an exasperated tone as he bit into a ripe peach he had just plucked from the tree. "Look at these peaches!".
"Yes, but the chain."
He looked down at the links around The Boy's ankle and their taughtness that stretched off into the distance connected to their friends and their friend's friends and others who were already gone. He looked at his own, which was as loose or looser than than The Boy's had been and shrugged.
"You worry too much."
"But it hurts!" The Boy said, straining against the chain. His shoes skipped a fraction of an inch as he pulled.
"You must be exaggerating because I don't see Cal or Jurgen squawking....." tossing the now exposed pit aside. "Things are just like they've always been, have a peach" proffering the ripe, beautiful fruit to The Boy who had both hands around the chain and his feet jammed and scrabbling the ground.

Off in the distance they could hear Cal and Jurgen laughing and calling back and forth to each other.  They were lying on the ground and their respective chains were dragging them slowly, ever so slowly but they didn't seem cut into their ankles the way it did The Boy's and anyway, they didn't seem to mind.

And the Wise One was right:  things were beautiful.  The trees were filled with fruit, the sky was a sparkling blue and there was a babbling brook darting and dancing all the way down to the abyss. The roar of the water as it fell in almost drowned out the cries and moans of those inside. The Slavic kids scrabbling at the steep sides, trying to stop their slide, the Asians, almost all boys, grim jaws set, climbing over the bodies of others clamped to the wall and the Bantu wails from all the little ones at the bottom - too young and weak to even begin to escape the dark, cold water.

A number of the children walked over to talk to The Boy and The Wise One - the ones without chains.  "Why do you have a chain?" they asked.
"Because we are Continentals!" The Wise One answered proudly.
"But you'll end up in the Abyss"
"No we won't" The Wise One said a little too defiantly as one of the littlest fell screaming down the side.
"Why don't you just unlock your lock? Take the chain off?"
The Boy winced but not from the pain of the chain in his skin but from the mention of the treason he planned.
"There is no key", The Wise One said.  "Well, to use a key wouldn't work", he finally admitted "because all of those other kids further down - the ones that don't realize what is happening to them - would fall in all the faster" he said with an intensity that belied his feigned nonchalance. "There is no choice, we must remain linked no matter what".
"Do you think you're your brother's keeper?" said the Free Leader incredulously.
"Yes, of course, we're the responsible ones"
"Then why are you letting the chain drag you all down to the abyss?  Do you like coldness and darkness?"
"No, of course not. But this is what we've always done"
"That's a lie" shouted, The Boy - "There never used to be these tight chains, we all stayed together in the meadow and played but it's only been a little while since we were all chained together, ever since the abyss opened in the middle."
The Wise One rounded on him "for your own good, so you wouldn't stray. Please be quiet, you're making things worse" as The Boy's straining legs and shoes skipped again.

By the by The Wise One wandered off to debate with the Free Ones, he had so much slack in his chains he could walk the entire meadow.  The Boy, exhausted from his fight looked around furtively and digging in his pocket retrieved the golden key that they all had before they accepted the lock and the chain.  But many of the children had been careless or improvident and had lost or sold theirs.  Not The Boy. He looked at the key's gleam - it read in finely etched letters:  "Liberty".  All of a sudden a wail went up among some of the other tightly dragging children who jealously pointed at The Boy, chanting "key, key, key".  He frantically began trying to fit the key in the lock and release it but his hands were tired and bloody from the fight with his chain and he kept dropping it.

The Wise One looked up from his reverie, and called out the alarm to his still loosely chained friends.  As The Boy finally recovered the key one of them kicked it out of his hand and it flew far away....out of reach for the tightly chained Boy.
"Please, he begged, please give me my key back".
"No, you're not allowed to flee, you're nothing but a coward."
"For God sakes! I'm going to be dragged into the abyss, don't  you understand?  Please, please give me my key! It's mine! I saved it."
The Free Children came over, looking pensive.
"Well surely you'll help me, please just go get my key - it's right over there.  There's nothing they can do to you".
But they just stood there, staring.
"Why won't you help me?" The Boy cried out.
"We can't" Said the Largest of their group "Every child has to choose to be tied to a chain or to become truly free of their own accord.  We can't do anything except encourage.  It's every child for themselves".
The Boy sobbed as his shoes finally broke their friction connection with the ground and he landed unceremoniously on his back - moving a full half a foot Abyss-ward in the process.  He lay there softly crying as the chain dragged him towards his end.  After a while he began humming and laughing, talking to himself and smiling.

The Wise One turned to the Free Ones "See, I told you he wanted to stay chained" and walked away with his steadily shortening chain in tow.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Someone Great

You say you want someone great, is that too much to ask?

But asking is easy. Getting and becoming are the task.

For great men are made by women and great women by men.

That battled for each other in a fight to the end.

You say you want someone great well so do I.
Someone with the love and faith to fly.
So we can ride on angels' wings
And remember our forgotten dreams.

It's easy to not be great, choosing just to survive.

But living that way it's sometimes hard to tell we're alive.

But to win someone's heart to hold her and keep

Is the task of a lifetime, greatness to achieve.

You say you want someone great well so do I.
Someone with the love and faith to fly.
So we can ride on angels' wings
And remember our forgotten dreams.

And in the end it would be enough, enough to say

We loved each other every single day.