Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Heh, accidental overdose on meds, manic for 36 hours before crash

Err, not really a fan of the idea of "being on fire". I am probably a little too depressed, a little too cynical, a little too low energy, a little too distracted. But I would hate to "be on fire", I distrust manic energy.

Herma of Zeno of Citium. Cast in Pushkin museu...Image via Wikipedia
I am reading more about the philosophy of Stocism, and this really seems to ring true to me. I would rather be a Stoic bravely pressing on with purpose and determination, than be a frantic manic fire-bug. I don't mind the idea of working a little every day to be more purposeful and more determined, to see the benefit years in the future.

Sitting on your hands, waiting for inspiration to light a fire under you can be a terrible state of being.
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Snuffleupagus, you've been to paradise, but you've never been to me...

Aloysius SnuffleupagusImage via Wikipedia
Oh, Snuffie, you've been to Niece and the Isle of Greece while sipping champagne on a yacht

You've moved like Harlow in Monte Carlo and showed 'em what you've got

You've been undressed by kings and seen some things that a woolly mammoth puppet ain't supposed to see

Snuffleupagus, you've been to paradise, but you've never been to me...

I know it is hard being the semi-imaginary friend of a nine foot tall bird on roller-skates. I know you have been tweaking, and juicing, and base-jumping. This is a Sesame Street intervention, brought to you by the letter "J". Put down the giant syringe of heroin, as large as a fire hydrant, and lets talk.
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Monday, April 27, 2009

Rob my house, my Rottweiler will just shed fur on you...

Good thing my dog sleeps on the couch all day, would not want the couch to drift off of the ground, and float away...
Rottweiler Puppy by
My half-Rottweiler/half-Black Lab puppy girl, Susie, is pretty durn useless. She is a scared, anxious little thing, the rustling of a trash bag can send her scurrying. Susie is a sucker for anybody who tells her she is a good girl and gives her a pet on the head and a tasty treat, so professional burglars could get past her will no difficulty.

Image via Wikipedia
And, since Susie is such a fraidy-cat, she gets excited about anything she can bully, like a tiny baby in a stroller, or a very tiny dog, or an old weak person. Susie will bark and snap her little teeth, and make a total disgrace of herself. She is completely harmless, but it is still painfully embarrassing for me, the guy who is walking her through the neighborhood. My neighbors think I harbor a vicious dog -- they don't know that I just have a noisy fuzzy cream-puff on a leash.

A whole lot of uselessness, in a black fuzzy coat. That is my Susie dog!
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Friday, April 24, 2009

Casual Cruelty wins the Poopie Prize

What offends me, unfortunately, are things I am guilty of -- guilty more often than I will initially admit. That is why I think that people who get in my face are doing me a favor, when they point out my hypocrisy. The Jesus Bobble-Head on my desk knows that I know better.

Blood circulation:  Red = oxygenated  Blue = d...Image via Wikipedia

Casual Cruelty Cruelty, without any emotional engagement at all, offends and disturbs me. I will not lie; I can sometimes be purposely abrasive to escalate a situation that irritates me. But when somebody lets me know I went too far, I absolutely do not treat them like a non-entity. Even your very worst enemy is made of flesh and blood, and is driven by passions that are genuine to them. Do I forget this sometimes? Yes, to my shame.

Power Trips Power Trips are sick. If I go off on a Power Trip, please kick me in the pants. I will thank you for doing me that favor.

Taking credit, without taking responsibility Man, before you take even a tiny bit of credit, take the whole of the responsibility. And when you know how hard it is to take complete responsibility, you will be loath to take even a tiny bit of credit. You will just deflect the credit, and truthfully say that you were happy to help, the little bit you helped, to the best of your ability. Again, if I break this rule, feel free to kick my junk in the trunk; I will thank you for doing me that favor.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Matter of National Security! I ate the Terrorist Cookies!

17th centuryImage via Wikipedia
I need excuses mainly for my constant snacking. I was diagnosed with a fatty liver, and with eating less, eating better, and exercise I have gone from an obese 255 pounds to 231 pounds (weighed myself yesterday). I am on my way down to 198 pounds (I may be fooling myself about being able to reach 198 pounds. I am 6'1", but the last time I was 198, I was a scrawny high schooler. Everyone else will be happy with something below 220).

But the lure of the snacks is strong. I am not sure why I bother with excuses, my Baby just lifts a hand to smack me when she catches me with crumbs around my mouth. I really don't get a chance to get a word in, before receiving the dope-smack to the head.
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

One day I'll roll over my own foot in a 1948 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible

Wait, where is the input jack for my iPod?

Cadillac - Series 62
Why not a 1948 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible? Modern cars are boring. In the future, we should drive less, so we will have to make those few miles count. This ride is the epitome of cruising in style.

I don't care for the color red. Mine will be a midnight blue. And no personalized license plate. The ride is already personalized enough.
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Lessons from the Ming Dynasty: Can moralistic thinking lead to large system gridlock, crisis, breakdown?

I am listening to a series of lectures from Kenneth J. Hammond on Chinese History [ The Great Courses: From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History; Professor Kenneth J. Hammond; New Mexico State University ].  Lecture 24 describes "Gridlock and Crisis" in the Ming Dynasty.  Prof Hammond considers the philosophy of individual moralism of 16th century Chinese philospher Wang Yangming [ ].
Wang Yangming's later followers would use a sense of developed moralism by an outgroup to harshly judge the morals of an ingroup, with the conclusion being that the ingroup was unworthy of power, and should be frustrated at every turn, if they cannot be cast out outright.  Prof Hammond sees this as leading to gridlock and crisis, and the ultimate downfall, of the Ming Dynasty.  A more pragmatic thought that emphasizes a deferral to authority would have allowed the Dynasty to govern more effectively and well, Prof Hammond maintains.
The parallels with the modern American Republican party is clear.
I am not a supporter of current Republican obstructionism, but I think the correct interpretation is more subtle than Prof Hammond's thesis.
Personal moralistic thinking can bring clarity and action to bear against incorrect policies, and this is a very fine thing.  And personal moralistic thinking can lead people to foolish, destructive, vacuous obstructionism, and can lead people to petty "dropping out" of the system, and can lead people to petty "casting out" of opponents; vacuous obstructionism like the current Republican party after Obama's election, petty "dropping out" like Texas governor Perry's talk of succession, petty "dropping out" like militia extremism, and petty "casting out" of right-wing thinkers by the currently favored mainstream left-wing thinkers.
(How can I blame right-wing thinkers for "dropping out", if I tolerate left-wing thinkers "casting out"?  I cannot, without being inconsistent.)
Personally, I have a terrible time with over-moralizing and demonizing opponents to my viewpoint.  I am setting myself up to commit destructive, vacuous obstructionism, to commit "dropping out", to commit "casting out".  My error is not acknowledging the sincere genesis of my opponents' morality.
This is not moral relativism, or watering down moral conclusions until no action is compelled, or watering down moral conclusions until perfect inaction.  Acknowledging the sincere genesis of my opponents' morality does not imply moral relativism, because I can still strongly resist repugnant thoughts, words, and actions.  But, at least, I do not "cast out" my opponents to the ultimate wasteland, by contradicting my opponents possessing the capacity for human morality with a sincere genesis.
I will, at the first, make it clear I acknowledge the sincere genesis of their morality, even if they commit thoughts, words, actions to my disapproval, even if they commit thoughts, words, actions to my profound disgust.  I will also remind those I agree with that without acknowledging the sincere genesis of an opponent's morality, they are "casting out" that opponent with finality, and that opponent will feel justified in "dropping out", and that opponent will feel justified in actions of terrible extremism.
If I cannot, at the very least, reasonably and honestly, acknowledge the sincere genesis of an opponent's morality, I think it is better to not engage that bad actor in any way.  There are enough honest thinkers to deal with, without wasting time on the lowest.  My complete disinterest to rise to a particular person's attack should be the ultimate criticism.  I may have to construct a best construction on the intentions of an opponent, and state that where their prior actions contradicted the best construction, they were operating out of stress, or haste, or incomplete attention.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Will chariable healthcare giving to the poor materialize?

Comment to Arnold Kling's EconLog post on health care, where Kling makes a statement about health care charities materializing if the government stopped supplying health care.
> If you took away government, then my guess is that a lot of charity would go toward health care for people with low incomes...
I am not so sure.  That would depend on a large number of Americans acting with economic irrationally, and I am not aware of the evidence of such Americans existing.
Lets peg current monetary charitable giving in America, from all sources, at $350 billion.  Lets consider the 30 million Americans living under the poverty line.  Lets spend on each $1500, less than half of the $3600 that Canada spends on each citizen, on average.  So we are counting on over 12% more charitable giving to take place, to fund this calculated $45 billion.  We will assume that much more than this is relieved from the tax burden, so tax payers have more money in their pockets, to spend as they wish.
No matter what a person thinks of the poor receiving health care, a single person's contribution would have no measurable effect.  Whether an individual gives or not, the poor will still have the same access to health care.  So it is irrational for an individual to give charity.
You would have to rely on a group of people that have, as a compelling component of their identity, the need to contribute to the welfare of the poor.  We hope for something substantive, not at all like Mother Teresa's charity in Calcutta.  Mother Teresa's charity in Calcutta, while being a sincere expression of great sacrifice, made no statically significant improvement to the lives of the poor there, because, measurably, only palliative measures were given out to a statistically tiny number of poor.  Nothing like a functional health care system for Calcutta's poor came out from it.  We need tens of billions given, with regularity so building projects and professional salaries can be funded, to realistically call it a medical health care system.
Is there any evidence of a large enough number of Americans, large enough to fund a poverty health care system, that have the irrational compulsion to give to charity, because they have as a compelling component of their identity the need to contribute to the welfare of the poor?  I am not aware of any evidence.  I don't even see evidence of $100 million in charitable giving for American health care for the poor.  At at least $500 million, it would be significant enough to break out as a health care funding source, and there is no evidence that anything approaching that exists.  I doubt the poor state of current government health care programs would be enough to totally squelch their concern for the poor receiving adequate health care, if that concern really existed.  So, where are the hundreds of millions, already being giving now?  (We are talking about a reduced level of giving because funds are already coerced away by the government).
However I feel, morally, about the poor having access to health care, I don't place any faith in economically irrational behavior, here.  The human causes of economically irrational behavior are finite, when we limit ourselves to causes that are sufficient to surrender tens of billions of dollars from wallets, with the quarterly regularity to fund systems that include buildings and medical supplies and medical technology and thousands of professionals.  Such economically irrational behaviors have present day and historical consequences we can see.  They seem, to me, to be very well hidden, if in fact they exist.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

3 hours of Breakdancing, on a cardboard refrigerator box

Putting on my bandanna, and those leather fingerless gloves. Jheri curl in my hair. First I do that weird hopping/spinning move around the perimeter of the cardboard. Then, for the next three hours, spinning on my back, like a dying cockroach. And that wavy snake thing, on my belly. No way would I take a three hour nap. Totally breakdancing.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Kling's writings on health care get more ridiculous, amazingly

Very simplistic and trivially inadequate statement on "Some Libertarian Basics [on providing health care]" from Arnold Kling.
My comment:
> In an environment with a level playing field, perhaps charities that provide health care to the very poor and the very sick would be better funded and more effective than the existing government programs.
How is an employer supposed to be cheered by this statement of "libertarian basic" thought on health care?  I compete against manufacturers in different countries, and a larger percentage of my gross goes to keeping my employees healthy and their families healthy.  If my employees have to take a second mortgage and time off to provide health care for a relative, that clearly will affect productivity, because I cannot fully staff with heartless sociopaths, and wouldn't wish to, besides.  I don't see too many charities springing up to help me with my utilities expenses, or office supply expenses.  So if the libertarian answer is for me to wait for nonesuch health care charities to materialize from thin air, so that I can adequately compete and bring in US tax revenue and wages to US citizens, then, I am underwhelmed.
Doesn't this statement simply cede substantive discussion about health care to all parties _except_ libertarians?  I hope that this is a grossly oversimplified statement of a more realistic libertarian stance on health care.
I would feel more confident in a purely market solution where there was no government enforced medical provider monopoly, and no government enforced pharmaceutical and medical device patent monopoly.  I expect to see ubiquitous effective medical charities, legal unlicensed medical providers, and free licensing on all medical patents, and I expect them to descend to earth on the same fiery heavenly chariot.

A partial defense for Arnold Kling's views on heathcare

A comment to Patriot's Quill unfairly titled "Arnold Kling does not understand the concept of insurance":
I will not defend the totality of Arnold Kling's views on health care.  It is indefensible.  A single payer has more leverage to attempt to reduce prices, and no market-magic-mumbo-jumbo can deny that fact.  That is why a company of several hundred employees does not have every employee buy their own desk at Ikea or Staples, and then reimburse them by adding to next month's paycheck.  Kling cannot address this simple issue because then he would lose valuable "Going-Galt" points with his friends at the Libertarian Cato.  (To be fair, it is also true that single payer is not a magic solution either.  If there is no accountability for incompetence or graft with the legislated single payer, a market solution can look pretty good.)
Back to the post.  I read Kling's point here as more nuanced.  It is transparently true that Americans, as a nation, consume health care with some personal irresponsibility.  Consider health care costs as percentage of GDP.  How much could be saved by personal lifestyle changes with regards to health, like diet or eschewing a sedentary lifestyle?  How much could be saved by people, as individuals, choosing less expensive treatments, treatments that are less expensive but still effective.  Without a component in a nationwide health-care plan that rewards for using less expensive treatments over the course of a lifetime, we could have functional single payer system, but still with the tragedy of America, as a whole, paying much more for health-care and getting much less for it.  Co-payments can be an effective incentive.  Co-payment rates based on evidence of healthy lifestyle choices can be effective.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Gack! Don't carelessly cut me and laugh while I am bleeding!

We can all agree, music is the greatest scourge of mankind. I have 3 music titles, that have bummed me out the most.

The ladyfolk he is describing seems really scary to me. Frankly, she sounds like Jason from Friday the Thirteenth, or the Terminator. What with the carelessly cutting and laughing during the bleeding. "And the most she will do is throw shadows at you." Go ahead and throw those shadows, lady, just get out of here! Shoo!
Very difficult to erase from memory, with Top 40 playing it every 15 minutes, but I would like to give it a shot.
Did I mention: "She can ruin your faith with her casual lies"? I beg you, you meanface woman, please don't ruin my faith. I might need it later, for something.
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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fools is "Take a Break from the Internet Day"

All Internet April Fool pranks are charmless because they have no heart. I remember a streaming video BBC ad starring Terry Jones from Monty Python, that seemed to be a documentary about flying penguins. That had heart, and was enjoyable. But that is one out of thousands. This is all for the best, because I should be able to get more work done today, since my favorite site, Reddit, is unreadable today.