outlier_lynn: (Default)

January 2015

181920 21222324

Most Popular Tags

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Monday, November 24th, 2014 07:50 am
Chuck Hagel resigned. A White House spokesman said it was mutual.

The two sentences sum up the news part of a ten minute NPR report I listened to this morning. One fact, one official statement about the fact. That's it. The rest of the story was conjecture by the reporters and rumormongering.

Rumors are NOT news.
Conjecture is NOT news.

Unsubstantiated pseudofacts are NOT news.
Unexamined statistics are NOT facts and are NOT news.
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Thursday, July 10th, 2014 08:30 am
I subscribed to the White House mailing list primarily because I wanted the weekly radio message and I don't think it is carried by any local radio station. The mailing list failed me for that purpose, but I've been reading it anyway.

I read it because I'm trying to figure out just why I feel like I've been slimed by the end of it. It is the language used and the sentence structure. It seems to be calculated to create a particular emotional response. Each email drips with sincerity. And regardless of topic has no real data. If it is about the state of the economy or jobs or health care, there are a few carefully chosen statistics of relatively low meaning surrounded by patronizing sympathy or nearly incoherent bombast.

The blather coming from both parties is not intended to educate the public about important issues of the day. Rather, the intent is to create an emotional responses such that the electorate can be easily controlled or, at least, easily distracted.

As much as I think the President is a very good politician, I also think he is a complete liar. Still. Even though I can't trust the Demarcates to protect the principles of American Freedom, it is abundantly clear what the Republicans would do if they were once again in charge of the Federal Government.

I think most of the Founding Fathers would call for a new revolution. I suspect, if they could have seen the future, the constitution would not have allowed a two-party system. There is something to be said for proportional representation.
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Monday, June 30th, 2014 07:25 am
The Hobby Lobby case reported out. 5-4. A closely held corporation cannot be required to provide contraception coverage. So, now a corporation is a person with religious freedom.

I am of mixed feelings about this decision. I do not think employers should be the providers of health insurance at all. It is a dysfunctional system and really gives the employer too much power and way too much information about the private lives of employees.

On the other hand, I do not believe a corporation, even a privately held one, should have any rights normally associated with a human being.

I gotta say, I loathe the Roberts Court.

EDIT: I found out that a "closely held" corporation is any corporation in which 5 or fewer individuals can combine to own a controlling interest. Oh, joy!

After having read the Opinion of the Court, I can only conclude that the justices were fishing for any excuse to agree with Hobby Lobby. I do not agree with opinions quite often, but I can usually follow a well-reasoned line of logic. Not in this case. The opinion is all over the map and no logic can be found. I am sad.
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Thursday, May 8th, 2014 07:21 am
I sometimes stop in at a local coffee house to get a bagel. This morning the young woman accidentally closed the register before getting my change from the drawer. That cleared the transaction. She asked me to do the math. My bill was $6.55. I gave her $7.00. She couldn't figure out how much to give back.

She has a high school diploma.

In related news, I read a summary of a longitudinal study conducted jointly be three universities. The study followed American kids from kindergarten through high school. All the children were native English speakers. The study was looking for the reasons for performance differences by ethnicity. Here is what it boiled down to: Asian kids applied themselves more than whites who applied themselves more than Hispanics who applied themselves more than Blacks.

Tied that data to other studies and we have added another 50 pounds of paper to the stack of "Why our schools continue to fail."

I know, we need more of "All Children Left Behind."
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 07:22 am
Okay. It is not new. What is new is the level of annoyance I have when the phrase is spoken. The phrase is "the right side of history." I guess most people want to be "remembered" well even if those remembering are only family and friends. People in power, though, want to leave a "legacy."

As motives go, that one really sucks. When one is dead, one will not know how or if one is remembered. It won't matter. But it does matter in the present. While angling and spinning and twisting to create a legacy, vast swaths of human misery are left untouched because the likelihood of failing to make a difference is too high. And, it seems, nobody wants to be remembered as a failure.

Then we have the tricky problem of determining the "right side" of anything. The problem, of course, is believing that there is some set of intrinsic values called right and wrong. Circumstances change and what is workable at one time may not be workable at another time.

My favorite example of this is "gay marriage." I really, really hate that phrase. "Same-sex marriage" is better, but "no marriage" is best. Leaving the spiritual side of marriage for the superstition that the parties are party to aside, marriage is a civil contract. Like all contracts, it governs the way entities interact. It sets down rights and responsibilities of the parties. It should also include the process for dissolving the relationship. We leave that part to "family law." (We are idiots.) We are fighting the good fight for marriage equality. Except it isn't equal. Marriage is still defined as a particular legal agreement between two people and administered by the state. It is not flexible and tinkering with the edges will not leave people on the "right side" of anything at some point in the future.

When defining the question of marriage as who is in and who is out, it seems like there is a right side and a wrong side of history as long as we assume that future generations are going to continue to live in the superstition of marriage. Circumstances will change. We might end up with a future in which we are laughed at for out barbaric notions of relationships. (I personally have high hopes for our future selves in this regard.)

Other current and very popular controversies about which we feel there is right and wrong are also mired in social superstitions. The right and wrong of a given point of view depends entirely on the differences between that point of view and other points of view. Good, bad, right, wrong and simply determinations made by filtering behaviors through one or another collective morality.

We each fight for our point of view. And we fight harder when our sense of self and our free expression are being suppressed by a majority point of view. This is so if we are a minority facing systemic racism, genderism, sexism or heterosexism; or, if we are in the majority, having our values strongly questioned. We will fight to protect "our way of life" even if we have to deny others their freedom of behavior or thought.

So, to those in power who believe they are leaving a legacy by trumpeting their particular moral positions, stick your super-sized ego where the sun doesn't shine. You, too, are just another bully pushing an agenda that not everyone wants.
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 08:00 am
DOMA is dead. As it should be. It should have died on a 9-0 vote. But, no, the bible-loving conservative justices dissented and Scalia dissented loudly. The Constitution and case law is clear, the government must have a compelling reason to treat some folks differently than others. There can be no compelling reason for DOMA.

And, in a non-decision that I expected last year, SCOTUS decided they had no business hearing the Prop 8 case. Duh. That chain of events failed when the California Supreme Court decided clowns could defend Prop 8 in federal court.

So, same-sex marriage is again legal in California and the Feds will (eventually) give marriage benefits (and detriments) to any couple who is legally married in their state. On to Full Faith and Credit! A much


EDIT: READ Scalia's dissent. Whoops! I agree with him. As soon as the Executive said they were not going to defind DOMA, the courts should have been done. The Congress had no authority to defend the law. I'm probably going to edit this post again when I read the dissent on the Prop 8 case. It was "not heard" because of the standing issue. Scalia should have loved that since he just wrote it in his DOMA dissent, so ...

EDIT 2: The dissenting opinion in both cases is the one I mostly agree with. Scalia held fast to the idea that the folks defending had no standing in federal court. He was correct in DOMA. He was not correct in Prop 8. The California Supreme Court gave standing to the idiots defending Prop 8. I like the precedent, though. I hate the initiative system and anything that SCOTUS does to put limits on it is okay with me. I think, though, the majority was looking for a suitable way out of ruling on merits same-sex marriage.
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Friday, April 19th, 2013 07:40 am
It appears that the marathon bombers were, in fact, foreign terrorists. This is not what I wanted to see. I wanted to see some nice home grown christian militia. What will the Pres do with this in our "war on terrorism"?
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Friday, December 14th, 2012 09:13 am
The American legal system is misunderstood by most Americans. And, this includes at least one member of the United States Supreme Court; Justice Antonin Scalia. He has repeated talked about immoral behaviors. He believes that he has an obligation to rule against immorality while SCOTUS has slowly and doggedly moved the other way for all of its long history.

He says that murder and homosexuality are the same because they are both immoral. Well, Your Honor, if your religion forbids an act, you should, by all means, refrain from the act. But you better not rule that other people cannot act because your religion forbids it.

You are clearly a disgrace to the bench. You do not know American History and you do not understand constitutional law.

I'm really tired of you.
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Wednesday, November 7th, 2012 08:08 am
It doesn't happen often, but the election results suited me pretty well. Two measures I voted for, but didn't care much about, were, as I expected, defeated. But Prop 30, the Governor supported tax initiative California desperately needed, passed. And the most of the candidates I supported won.

And that means the Republican Party is losing its stranglehold on San Diego.

I see some hope for America. :) Billionaire money wasn't enough!

I also see the violent death throws of the ultra conservative movement. At least, I hope I do.
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Wednesday, October 17th, 2012 07:29 am
The best part of the the 2nd Presidential Debate was when the moderator called Romney on a lie.

The worst part is that half the country believes Romney/Ryan have any love for "high wage jobs." To be more accurate, many of the people supporting the Romney/Ryan are doing so for reasons other than economic. They are convinced that the Democrats are godless people who are hell bent on corrupting their children. Still, There seem to be some combination of three attributes that drive Republican voters: The compulsive need to control everything; bone deep ignorance; and, a highly charged fear of the unknown future. The first attribute describes the national power brokers and the local self-appointed patriarchs (mostly religious leaders).

Well, I'm not surprised that the election is close. Hell, Dubya was elected (more or less) and reelected (more or less) and will likely go down in history as one of the worst presidents to date.

What I can't understand is why Obama isn't talking about the failure that Supply Side Economics is. Why in the world are the Democrats letting Romney/Ryan get away with saying that cutting taxes allows companies to high more people. Companies higher more people when they have a need, not when they have more money. Demand drives job creation. And only demand.

In the Great Depression, there were plenty of goods on the shelves. The businesses that didn't go broke in the bust were still producing. Unemployment was high, but MOST people had jobs. And most people were NOT SPENDING MONEY. Demand was low. No new workers needed. And, for some reason, Obama never mentions that it took 10 years and WWII to dig out of that.

He also refuses to mention that in a global economy, our recovery is linked to the world economy. We are growing very slowly because the rest of the world is slowing down. The fact that we are growing at is quite a surprise to me! And he doesn't really talk about the root financial issue: Crooked bankers. And it doesn't matter if we talk about investment bankers or the bankers that loan money for houses and cars. It is a giant game of manipulation for the highest short term profit. And it always has been.

And then there is gasoline. The president missed an opportunity last night. He should have laid the blame for gasoline prices exactly where it belonged. The commodities speculators and refiners. We are being manipulated and we have been manipulated since the heyday of Standard Oil. There really is no competition in the oil industry.

Bah. Or, more the point, baaaaaaa.
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Monday, October 15th, 2012 08:23 am
The Economist has a video story reporting the rise and fall of the stock market from 1929 as charted against who was in the White House. It is foolish to take it at face value because the economy is sluggish for up swings and damn near immediate for down turns. But there are other facts about the stock market's behavior based on which party controls the White House.
A lot more )
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Monday, September 3rd, 2012 10:20 am
I think that is a very interesting phrase. One that I can defend or defend against depending on the meaning given. A quick search on the web and one finds folks one all sides of the question of definition.

I think most Americans who subscribe to the notion that respect is earned mean, simply, that the earner is consistent with the views and values of the person granting respect. And not just consistent, but a leader promoting the views and values. A leader of the opposition does not earn respect. And this is the meaning I defend against.

A different meaning is more akin to being a hero. A fireman who enters the severely damaged and still burning building because there MIGHT be someone trapped inside, for instance, has just earned some respect. This is the meaning I can defend. Although for me, it is really a matter of earning "extra" respect.

If one can earn extra respect, is it possible to debit respect? Yes, I think. This is a two (or more) sided coin, too. As the fireman earns respect for putting life and limb at risk for the life of another, the arsonist loses respect for putting the victim at risk. Less dramatically, the fool driving drunk or recklessly loses respect every time they get behind the wheel.

But what is respect, then. lists three definitions pertaining to people: esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respect for her judgment; deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment: respect for a suspect's right to counsel; to show respect for the flag; respect for the elderly; and, the condition of being esteemed or honored: to be held in respect.

By those definitions, one has honorary respect by position even if that position is "old." I say honorary because it really has nothing to do with the individual, rather to the granfalloon the individual is a putative member of. That is certainly not an earned respect to me. I seldom give extra respect due to granfalloon membership.

That leaves the first of the three dealing with a person's worth and so forth. If we assume that everyone has the same "base" level of worth as a human being, that is, no extra respect given, we can assign a level of respect like the balance in an account. To that balance we credit or debit respect.

How, then, do we, as individuals, decide who to credit and who to debit? I think that is almost entirely based on our individual points of view about right and wrong. In my fireman example, it would be easy to imagine a scenario in which the guy with the gasoline can is the hero and the firefighter is the villain. The difference is one of point of view. One person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter.

I do not think it possible, or even desirable, to eliminate points of view. I believe they are necessary to life (which is, of course, just a point of view and subject to falsification). But I do think it is desirable to KNOW that what we hold as good and condemn as bad is just a point of view and has no inherent reality. And I believe that our most profound decisions, the ones with the biggest consequences, should always be based on our knowledge that right and wrong is subjective and that forcing our opinion on others will lead to prolonged conflicts of various levels of violence.

We should protect ourselves. It is human nature to do so and we will do so. But we should find optimal solutions that don't demonize entire groups of people. We seem to always do this, so maybe we have little choice in the matter, but "official" policy should steer a different course when ever possible.
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Wednesday, August 29th, 2012 03:02 pm
Take it as a given that the Rolling Stone article intends to paint Mitt Romney as a psychopath as we barrel down on November, it is a very good article about the nature of our economic system as it has developed over the last 40 or so years.

Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital.
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Wednesday, August 29th, 2012 08:20 am
I wanted to ignore everything said in and about the Republican Convention. I failed. This morning I turned on the radio as I always do when my alarm goes off on weekdays. I listened to a recap, and a few minutes of Ann Romney's speech and a few minutes of Chris Christie's speech.

And I am again left with this question. Are these people fucking short sided, power hungry, psychopathic, nut jobs who care not for the future of the United States?

I can't for a minute imagine that the folks pulling all the strings in the Republican Party actually believe their publicized view of the world. It is so detached from reality and the history of human affairs that it seems unlikely that they really believe they could enforce their moral and economic policies. Have they never heard of the French Revolution or the Russian Revolution? Do they not know what happens when power and wealth become too concentrated? Are they that fucking stupid?

Are half the people in the US so detached from reality that they really think it was this president and this congress who wrecked the US economy? Well, yes. They are. And if they are fed a constant stream of vitriol and lies denouncing the Godless ways of Democrats and blaming the current president for all sin and corruption in the world, they will believe it, because it is far better to blame someone else for you lot in life than to take personal responsibility for it. So while the Republicans are jumping up and down to celebrate Ayn Rand's misunderstanding of human beings, while they all are sure they are really just like Hank Rearden or Dagny Tagart, and while they swear by the Trickle Down words of Ronald Reagan (their John Galt), they are the first one's screaming about how unfair the world is. Really, people. Really? This is mental illness, is it not?

I can believe, however, that the Republican puppet masters are very, very good at their jobs and the race for the white house will be a lot closer than it has any right to be. Stacey and I talk about leaving the USA. We won't. We are really too old to be an acceptable pair for a saner country to take. We would cost more than we are worth. :)

It doesn't matter, really. Other countries have different social issues to fight, but everywhere you go, there are people. And people will always find ways to make everything be about us vs. them.
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Monday, August 20th, 2012 10:10 am
I forget sometimes that state legislatures and the US Congress are filled with lawmakers who are elected by a something over half of a smallish number of votes. And I forget that there are very few requirements to be met if one wants to stand for office. So, it is no wonder that so many of the lawmakers across the country are blithering idiots.

Cases in point, in Kentucky and in Tennessee.
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Thursday, August 9th, 2012 08:29 am
According to Rogers Telecommunications, the content of their ads is covered by Canadian free speech guarantees even when the content is not factually true. And they are using that to defend against a possible $10MCD fine.

Story here

The implications, if they win on that point, staggers the mind. And not just for Canada, but for the US as well. Any opportunity to redefine the popular understanding of "free speech" will move into the legal world given enough time. Advertisers and political operatives already walk a thin line between merely "misleading" and outright lies.

As far as I am concerned, we define free speech to broadly in the US. It is difficult to take action against hate speech if it is delivered by a politician or in the name of religion. Even if that hate speech can be shown to contribute to a violent act by a listener.

If Rogers wins, it will be even more difficult to pursue criminal or civil action against liars. Lying as a tactic for profit or power is a prime skill for most of the richest and most powerful people in the world. Psychopaths have no problem looking you right in the eye and lying about anything and everything.

This defense must not be allowed to get traction. Really, Rogers? Really.
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012 07:45 am
Well, big brother scares me a little. He scares me in his pandering to wealth and his evil side would like cameras in my bedroom to make sure I'm not sinnin'. And big brother can trash an economy in seconds. However, in all his worst, big brother believes in his misguided heart that he is doing everything for the good of the country.

I'm much more afraid of the Creepy Uncle Pedophile that is big business. The creepy uncle is not all interested in the welfare of his nieces and nephews. He is only interested in getting off at any cost. In this case "getting off" is "making money" and it doesn't matter one damn bit what the consequences are. In the world of profit/loss risk analysis, any disaster that does not cost more than the profits gained is acceptable. Tobacco, coal, oil, wall street, fast food, weapons, food in general. All these industries have all sorts of rationals for the "good" they do and don't concern themselves with the fallout because someone else will be responsible for that.

No, I'm not too worried about my big brother even though he is increasingly abusive and colluding with my creepy uncle. Mom, the loyal opposition, will keep him from getting too out of hand too quickly. Creepy uncle, though, is a serious threat to the health and welfare of the family. And all to satisfy his rapacious appetites.
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Monday, October 31st, 2011 07:45 am
We have dug ourselves into a self-serving hole in America over that last 90 years. Before I get to the specifics of this commentary, I want to point out that we collectively can't get enough of what we don't want.

Why do we think that Employers owe us (the workers) anything outside the purview of business. I can understand vacation time, I can understand holidays. I do not understand PAID vacation time and PAID holidays. I do not understand Employer paid or partially paid health/dental/vision care plans or Employer paid or partially paid retirement plans. Or rather, I do understand how it all happened, but, for Pete's sake, enough! The one thing Unions seem to have gotten right (at least on paper) is Union retirement/disability. That is certainly more rational that Employer paid. Employers have the incentive to have a regular turn over of employees so that the older ones (that cost a lot more money in pay and benefits) are laid off. We have laws about that, but we only need those laws (mostly) because the current system is too fragile and far too irrational.

Government, single-payer health care. Taxes sufficient to pay for it. Regulation sufficient to keep costs rational. My notions go far beyond these, but I would incur the wrath of everyone if I denoted them. Let me just say, "rational" should always win over "emotional" in the delegation of health care services. Limited resources and all that. If I, at sixty, were diagnosed with a serious cancer, for instance, that had a very poor prognosis, and, I had a complicating issue of congestive heart failure, I don't want anyone spending tens of thousands of dollars making my remaining time miserable in the off chance that I might get a couple more years. Put that replacement heart in a better candidate, save those limited chemo drugs for a better candidate. Really, I will be pissed if resources are wasted on me because of some emotional, irrational desire. The Terry Schiavo case is an excellent example. The woman was dead in every way that mattered except for the emotional lunacy of Robert and Mary Schindler. All the damn way to SCOTUS!

Forced retirement plans in which the government collects a percentage of gross income and hands it to the 401K (or similar vehicle) of your choice. You would get to say how your money is invested, but not IF it is invested. A modified Social Security system. Actually, an unmodified SS. Lets go back in time when SS was JUST retirement income. No payments to the children of dead people just because the dead person died. I think disability retirement should still count, but some rational idea of what disabled means. Differently-abled is not the same as disabled. It was not all that long ago, that retirement was or or less an euphemism for death. The whole idea of living a life of travel and golf (or whatever dream you might have), is NEW and generated by ADVERTISING to sell Sun City in Arizona. I remember that ads. I remember my father saying that it was a giant scam.

Tax fairly (that really does mean progressively) with few, if any, deductions. Tax on gross income. Other forms of tax and use fees should be severely limited. Tax those things we want less use of and don't tax things we want more use of. For example, booze tax, tobacco tax, gasoline tax and no tax on renewable energy. Do away with the whole notion of tax credits. Further, do away with the tax break deals that local governments give to businesses to "bring jobs" to their area.

outlier_lynn: (Default)
Tuesday, October 4th, 2011 08:04 am
Patents and copyrights had a reasonable beginning. The intention was simple and clear. Someone who spent time and money developing a device or writing their masterpiece is given a reasonable amount of time to profit from their imagination and sweat. That is a good idea. And it was always a person; a real human being was the inventor or writer.

Over time, the congress and the courts have extended the length of time the inventor or writer is protected and changed the nature of the "person" to include corporations and foundations.

Patents, especially, are not longer protecting the inventor. In many cases, the human inventor gets nothing. An invention conceived on company time (and sometimes non-company time) is owned by the company even though the inventor's name is on the patent. It is possible to get a patent then bury the device. Something useful is held, purposely, off the market until its usefulness is overcome by advances in science or technology. The invention is withheld because it would diminish the value of other goods produced by the company.

Many great technological advances in the computer industry fell into a deep hole because a competing, but less great, bit of hardware/software/protocol needed protection. Some large company buys up a small company in order to kill off a better product.

Worse than all this, we have created a niche market of sorts; a protection racket backed by the three branches of government in the US and becoming entrenched in international law. We have created patent trolls. A business model based on extortion. Right now Microsoft is claiming that it owns some patents that the Linux/Gnu operating system violates. It is using this claim and its billions of dollars in the litigation war chest to extort money from smaller companies. Companies that have decided it is cheaper to pay the extortion than to fight it.

It is time. Past time. We need some serious reform in the US Patent Office. I think it is going to be past time for a long time to come.

We can no longer pretend that the US government (and all "developed world" governments) are agencies acting in the public good. It has always been the case that wealth controls the government, but capitalism concentrates wealth. Fewer and fewer people hold any real power.

The "voting public" is fed a constant stream of lies, half-truths, and enthusiasm. Then they vote -- against their self-interest.
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Wednesday, April 27th, 2011 11:56 am
The It Get's Better is a disempowering load of crap.

Really? Is the message for our bullied youth "We know you are helpless, so just sit it out and hope it gets betters some time in the future if you haven't been beaten to death in the meantime!"? I don't think so. Why isn't the message something like this, "Organize, document, demand action."

When I was in eighth, ninth, and tenth grades, I was bullied in school. Even had my arm broken by the bully in eighth grade. (No action was taken against the bully.) I could see no options at all. No options were offered up by the adults charged with my education and protection. In those days, there were no "tolerance" clubs or school activities promoting tolerance. Mostly, the authorities chocked it all up to "boys will be boys" and "they will grow out of it."

RARELY do bullies stop bullying. I haven't been physically attacked by bullies in 50ish years. That does not mean I haven't been bullied and gay bashed. Unsurprisingly, the bullies always have the same adolescent swaggering and language. (Read the signs held up by the WBC idiots to see my point.) Waiting it out is not a solution. It is depressing as hell. Wait it out? Most teens -- in fact, most people -- have the subconscious view that the way it is now is the way it will always be with a faint hope that something might change. Waiting it out, as a response, just makes the helpless feelings grow and grow.

The solution is to teach, mentor, and encourage young people HOW to take responsibility for the circumstances in their lives. In the case of bullying, and other forms of discrimination, one solution is for the bullied to band together, organize, document and demand action.

How much history do we need to study before we figure out that oppression never changes without significant ACTION by the oppressed. It does not get better until the victims of bullying and abuse stand up in mass and do something about it. Telling our stories to each other might feel like action, but it accomplishes little. You want bullying to stop? Stop being bullied. Get loud enough and bullies might hear something that changes their attitudes. Maybe. But they aren't going to have any revelations on their own.

Organize, document, demand action. Add that to "It Gets Better" and I'll be more inclined to play in that game.

In the meantime Center for Partnership Studiesl