Friday Quote – Mark Twain

25 May
May 25, 2018

“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”

Let’s just say this came up this week.

It’s Never Too Early To Review Preps

23 May
May 23, 2018

According to the researchers, 2018 is expected to have a busier than average hurricane season. Tampa has a lower than average hit rate, mostly due to Tampa Bay. That doesn’t mean we don’t get hit, as was demonstrated by Hurricane Irma last year.

What I learned from last year is that anything above a Category 1 (maybe 2) will mean I’m evacuating. Most likely over to my brother’s place. His place is better situated and I’m pretty sure we could ride out a Cat 3. Maybe down to the girlfriend’s. Higher than a Cat 3, and we’re all heading north. Which is why I’m glad I have the truck.

So, it’s time to start reviewing both the bug-in and the bug-out supplies. Food (human and cat), water, batteries, paper products, ammo, etc. All the fun stuff.

The good news is that after last year, I have stuff to make evacuation easier. Particularly for moving the important electronics and my cats. More importantly, my brother and I have a plan for taking stuff down, packing it up, and moving to another location.

Toastmasters Conference AAR

23 May
May 23, 2018

Disclaimer – I am not currently a Tosstmasters member. This will most likely change before the end of this year. Many of these observations are from an outsider observing a major event for a specific group with its own lingo and speak.

So, how did I end up attending a conference? The Girlfriend is an officer in the district, and since we only see each other on the weekends at the moment, she asked if I’d be interested. Plus, I can always use advice on polishing my “stage” persona and writing.

Toastmasters, just like any organization, has its own lingo. Since this was a big conference for the organization, it’s to be expected that they would use their acronyms and phrases fast and furious. Sometimes I could pick up through context. Others I just needed to ask The Girlfriend.

The workshops were hit and miss (mostly miss), but I did pick up some ideas for improvement on my speaking. Most of my public speaking is providing training or performance reporting, so it was nice seeing other types of speeches.

The contests were entertaining, although one part was more entertaining for me than the conference. Toastmaster protocol is when a constestant is introduced it is “Contestant, Speech Title, pause, Speech Title, Contestant.” And every time they did that, I flashed back to Hot Fuzz and the clerk at the grocery store.

Overall, I enjoyed myself and will probably enjoy it more next year when I attend as a Toastmaster and not just as a guest.

Metal Tuesday – Five Finger Death Punch – Burn MF

22 May
May 22, 2018

You ever have those days when you’re done with humanity, but you still need to stay in the office to finish a task? Yeah. That’s when this song comes out.

City States

21 May
May 21, 2018

Listening to the Squirrel Report podcast, the proposal to break California cane up. Alan said that if California broke up, we might see a rash of states breaking up, particularly where one city or small, densely populated geographic area is essentially dictating to the rest of the state.

This gave rise to my latest brilliant idea. Federal city-states. If a city has a population of at least one million in its incorporated or traditional boundaries, it could become a city-state. A city-state would keep proportional representation in the House, but only one Senator.

Here’s the kicker of my most brilliant plan. Either the city can petition Congress to secede from the state to become a federal city-state or the rest of the state can petition Congress to kick the city out.

I know this is a brilliant idea because it came to me at oh dark early when making a bathroom run. All the great ideas happen then.

Tab Clearing

17 May
May 17, 2018

I’m borrowing Tam’s title and clearing out articles that I meant to do full posts on.

Teaching Situational Awareness to Kids – Because I have two in my life, and I’d kinda like to keep them out of danger.

The Economist saying how wonderful universal health care is for all nations. This was one I wanted to fisk, but I’d recommend reading it to understand how the proponents think.

Syrian Metal Is War – Yeah, like I could scroll past that article.

[Finland ends its universal basic income experiment.(https://fee.org/articles/finland-ends-its-experiment-with-universal-basic-income/?utm_source=zapier&utm) I like the concept of a basic income that replaces all other welfare programs. It just doesn’t seem viable in the real world.

Start-ups make an alternative for braces, and the dental groups rent seek. – I hate when businesses use the violence of government to keep others out of the market.

The Volokh Conspiracy has an excellent column on not supporting laws you wouldn’t kill someone to enforce. Honestly, that would be an interesting bit of mandatory language in any law that assesses a criminal or civil penalty. Make the legislators affirm that this is important enough to possibly kill someone over.

A surprising column from The Atlantic on cultural appropriation. I swear to FSM that I would laugh in the face of any person foolish enough to accuse me of that. Or denigrate.

That’s all for now. I’ll probably need to do this again.

Children Doing Dangerous Work

17 May
May 17, 2018

This Bloomberg article on a proposed relaxing of certain regulations is so full of pearl clutching, the damn string should break.

The DOL will propose relaxing current rules—known as Hazardous Occupations Orders (HOs)—that prohibit 16- and 17-year-old apprentices and student learners from receiving extended, supervised training in certain dangerous jobs, said the two sources. That includes roofing work, as well as operating chainsaws, and various other power-driven machines that federal law recognizes as too dangerous for youth younger than 18.>quote

You mean, the jobs that are in demand? And they’ll be supervised? I’m not seeing a fucking problem here.

For fuck’s sake, every state allows sixteen and seventeen year olds to independently operate cars. You know, those two-thousand pound machines that can hurtle themselves down the road in excess of a hundred miles an hour? The ones that routinely kill 30,000 a year? If we can trust them to operate those machines, why couldn’t they operate others?

Rights and Goods

15 May
May 15, 2018

Right to life. Right to property. Right to keep and bear arms. Right to free speech. Right to free expression. Right to healthcare. Right to education. Right to religion. Right to associate. Right to clean water. Right to clean air. Right to privacy. Right to feel safe.

Some of these “rights” are not like the others. Can you spot the difference?

Rights, by their nature, are inherent to sentient beings. We have them because we have ownership of ourselves. So, the very first right – the bedrock of everything else is the right of property. I own myself, and by extension, I own what I create. I own the fruits of my labor or the fruits of my trade. The right of free expression protects my ability to create and trade. The right to self defense protects my ability to prevent others from forcibly taking my property – including my own life.

Because rights come from that fundamental property right, they cannot require the abrogation of others’ lives, labor, or capital. There can be no rights to food, education, and healthcare that are based upon the requirement that others are forced to surrender their time, knowledge, and resources – only the rights to produce and trade for education, healthcare, and food. Et cetera.

Usually at this point, I get lambasted by those who do believe in the rights to other people’s property that I want the less fortunate to be uneducated and die from a preventable disease caused by malnutrition. Or something similar. Because “muh rightz.” If they wanted to commit a straw man fallacy.

This is where social goods come in. By goods, I’m not denoting morality, but rather a product/service that is purchased to further social goals. Such as making sure every member of the society has a minimal level of education, healthcare, and food to function and be productive. Or to care for those who can’t care for themselves. Social goods are not rights. They are the cost of being in a society. As people have differing opinions of the value of market goods, they can have differing opinions on the value of social goods. They can also have differing values of how those goods are paid for and distributed.

My personal preference for social goods should be as much done through private means. Businesses and charities are more responsive to the needs and desires of their customers. Are they perfect? No. Businesses and charities are not some force of nature, but collections of people, and people can screw anything up. At the end of the day though, businesses and charities primary means of engagement is through voluntary exchange with their customers.

I’m very cautious about what social goods I think should be provided by government. Unlike businesses and charities, the government doesn’t require voluntary exchange. The government has the ability to enforce it’s (or more to the point, the people in power’s) desires through violence. That difference means that the government is not as responsive to its customers or efficient in the use of its resources.

Metal Tuesday- Classical Month – Gustav Holst – Mars Bringer of War

15 May
May 15, 2018

You want some good ominous music? Forget the Imperial March from Star Wars. This is the one you want.

I would also highly recommend listening to the entire suite if you’ve got an hour to kill.

Income Inequality- Bogus Statistic, Real Issue

14 May
May 14, 2018

I was listening to the Reason podcast with Jonathan Rauch was being interviewed about his new book. Of course, I’m going to recommend that you listen to the whole thing. I found it very enlightening about the nature of happiness, particularly for those hitting middle age.

One item that came up during the interview dealt with how most people view income inequality. In my opinion, I’ve always considered income inequality a bullshit metric. Something used to gin up the masses and sell papers and clicks. IMHO, the far more important metric is how are the people doing year over year or over time. It’s not like the economy is a closed system. As long as people’s lives are consistently getting better, then why should it matter if some segments are increasing more than others?

This is not normal human psychology. People tend to base their happiness on how they are doing compared to others. It really is important to keep up with the Jonses. When people don’t think they are improving as fast as the rest of the world, unhappiness abounds. This becomes intensified with all the media streams blaring out conspicuous consumption of the various media whores – I mean, celebrities.

This unhappiness is what unrest is made of. Or at least, one thing that can contribute to a restless population. It also appears to contribute to the rise of populists – on both sides of the traditional political spectrum. Note the rise of Trunp and Sanders. Both of them tapped into the unhappiness of the population by promising the people to make their lives better. To either bring the people’s livelihoods up – or bring down those the people think are doing too much better.

I’m not going to pretend that there’s an easy solution. It’s a psychological issue, and nothing about psychology is easy. People are just too fucked up. IMHO, there are some things that should be done. We need to look at economic policies that help increase people’s standards of living. My personal hobby horses are free trade, low taxes, and limited regulations. I don’t see how trying to redistribute wealth by taxing the top earners would help grow the economy and increase standards of living.

Although I still think it’s a bullshit metric, I’m going to take a more careful look into income inequality – but more as a gauge of the populace. This may be one of the leading indicators of a real civil problem. One that might require me to make sure I’ve got enough ammo and storm shutters on my windows.