Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Calm

One other note on the Hoffman Process.  You are often asked how you feel.  Since most of us are emotionally constipated--at least in terms of our ability to consciously name varying and often complex feelings and even sensations--they give you a list of perhaps 100 different feelings, such as shy, shame, happy, focused, content, worried, anxious, etc.  This is a cheat sheet, so you can start naming and owning your emotional life.  Even people who think they are completely logical are in fact feeling often.  Those feelings may simply be condescension, a sense of superiority, anxiety at being wrong about something, etc.

Anyway, several times I was--I actually think startled is the right word--to find nothing, no feeling to name.  Then I realized CALM is one of the possibilities.  Calmness is an absence of negative or positive emotions, but it IS a feeling.

It's odd to contemplate, but I think as a modern American I have become addicted to sensations, and forgotten that simply being is not just an option, but an eminently good one.

Chrysalis Work

I have been doing what I am calling Chrysalis work, which is deep unconscious work.  You do this with guided visualizations, and also through allowing deep content to come up. I recently completed something called the Hoffman Process, which I just have not felt like discussing, because I continue to experience it, and am wanting it all to flow before I try and capture it intellectually.  It is more or less open source, though, and it is my understanding that you can share any and all of what is done.  It is and will always be much more useful and effective done in a focused, intensive setting.

One tool I thought I might share because it seems both powerful and simple is the Elevator.  Take some difficulty you are having (what they would call a pattern), such as procrastination, and form a question, such as "why do I procrastinate so often?"  Then imagine you are standing before elevator doors, which open.  You go in, and your question is written on an enormous button, which you push.  The doors close and you go down for a while.  Then the elevator stops, the doors open, and a scene is presented to you.  Make a note of what that scene is.  It is quite likely it will be from your childhood.

Do this 3 or so times, and then interact with the images intuitively and intellectually, and see what they are telling you.  In my own experience, simply calling this content up helps relieve some of the behavior.

They teach other tools as well, but I thought I would share that one.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Goodness Philosophy, some simplifications

Lumosity tells me my brain is best suited to be a mathematician.   I like this.  I am in actual fact a very poor mathematician--I never even got through Calculus, although it remains on my list of things to do--but ever since taking Geometry my freshman year in high school with Mrs.  Edwards I have loved the notion of building logical structures with terms I get to define.  An absolute bedrock principle with me is that any thought system that is worthwhile can be shrunk to a series of short bullet points, and expanded virtually indefinitely.  And the mathematical formula encapsulates this principle.  Think of the domain of F=MA.  It is all of visible reality, or all reality consisting in what we call "matter" or "mass" for simplicity.

Goodness is "sharing happiness gladly".  Three words, but large possibilities.

I would, for example, differentiate goodness from duty.  Duty, in my view and experience, largely stems from a generally unconscious fear of negative consequences.  Duty is often beat into us, verbally and/or physically.  We do the right thing not because we instinctively empathize with or feel compassion for someone, but out of some combination of habit and fear.

And obviously you cannot SHARE happiness if you cannot feel it.  Happiness is the essence of love and connection.  Where they are present, happiness is present.  And where they are absent, happiness is absent.  Now, it may be me, alone, feeling love and connection with my higher self, with God, with the universe, and sharing that.  This is what holy men, when they actually warrant the term, do.  The grade of the holy man is the grade of happiness they can share.

Fanaticism in the NAME of some alleged higher good, obviously, cannot qualify here, because I have put consequences, concrete outcomes, into the definition.  If you say you want "social justice", but everything you touches turns to shit, if people become disempowered, poorer, more disconnected, more violent, more resentful, less loving, less beautiful, then you have shared nothing.  You have in fact impressed upon the world your own LACK of love, lack of true happiness, lack of true purpose, lack of goodness.  This is the path of the left wing radical.

And I want to alter the fairly abstract "Perceptual Breathing" in favor of simply calling it curiosity.  I will remind you that neurologically, curiosity is the literal opposite of trauma.

My system, then:

Axiom: The purpose of life is to pursue Goodness.

Definition: Goodness is sharing happiness gladly (I should of course define happiness, but that will have to wait for another day).

Postulates: Three daily decisions most support this purpose:

1) Reject Self Pity
2) Persevere
3) Be curious

Geometrically, this may not be quite right.  It's been many years since Freshman Geometry.  Still, I think what I am trying to do is obvious enough.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Post on cops and violence

This is a cut and paste from an email I sent someone who works with cops.  I am going to start dialing down my participation in current issues to focus on larger, longer term ones, but thought this might be worth sharing.

. . . it seems obvious to me that you are feeling embattled on this cop issue, and I thought I might share my two cents, in private. First off, I think the decision in Ferguson was just. I thought the verdict in the Rodney King was just. Anyone who actually knows the facts of these cases (most seeming do not) cannot argue otherwise. 

 But in the case of Eric Garner, SOMEONE should in my view have been fired. I don't know if you know this, but the Officer in Charge was a black woman who did NOTHING to stop or alter the trajectory of the take-down. She would be the obvious candidate, but she was granted immunity in exchange for full cooperation. That adds a different racial charge to the whole thing, one which few talk about. 

 More generally, though, it is CLEAR that in at least some, perhaps extremely rare, cases, cops get away with major abuses of force, which are indefensible. This does not mean they should go to jail, but it does mean both that they should be fired, and that the public should SEE them getting fired. Cops are not doing themselves any favors protecting their own EVEN WHEN they KNOW they are guilty.

I got into a bit of a tiff with Matt at the Bang Switch. I messaged him a video of a cop breaking a guys window--when he was in a passenger seat and not even the driver was accused of a moving violation (she didn't have her seatbelt on)--and pulling him out for not being able to provide an ID quick enough. Again, he was not the driver, and there were two kids in the back. This was in Hammond, Indiana, where they likely figure every black male has some sort of warrant on them. 

 The point I made was that this cop is teaching these people to FEAR, not trust the cops. The cops in theory exist for the protection of all, but when they do shit like that, they are violating the public trust. NOT ONE COP on that forum did anything but defend that cop and/or attack me. Do you see the problem? I worked for a police department and interfaced with cops on a daily basis for three years. I knew all the radio codes, all the violation codes, and spent perhaps a thousand hours listening to their Channel One traffic. I shared a locker room with them, and wore a uniform.  I went to their line-ups.  I have a pretty good idea how things work. 

 And the way they work is that their default position, no matter the provocation or alleged crime, is to protect their own. Always. Clearly, Internal Affairs does catch some, and the law catches up with more, but the culture is one of tolerating the assholes. I saw that as recently as that thread on Matt's Facebook page (I messaged him, and he posted my message, which was fine.). I would encourage you to read this story, and just contemplate it. I refuse to participate in the racialization of this issue, but obviously will weigh in on the larger issues of justice and accountability.:  http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/08/what-i-did-after-police-killed-my-son-110038_Page2.html#ixzz3Kz3oQgex
I understand where you are coming from, and bear no animosity towards you. I would not want to be in your position. The reason for this message is that I think there is a place for nuance. I argued last week that cops were going to get killed because of all this, not just because of the propagandistic use being made of the racial divide certain unprincipled people have created and continue to abuse, but because it has opened up the issue of police abuse of power generally, which has to be seen in the context of NSA spying, SWAT teams proliferating like mushrooms (Did you know the Dept. of Agriculture has a SWAT team?), and, again, the belief even reasonable people will reach upon research that cops do sometimes get away with murder, and very little is being done about it. 

 Eric Garner did not deserve to DIE for selling cigarettes, and no one was fired or censured for it. It truly is like his life didn't matter. And it's not just race. Here is a white girl, killed by a cop who will face no consequences: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/09/samantha-ramsey_n_6123820.html

Integrity

Well, I just spent a week in what felt like Rivendell, in a scenic little hollow in Napa Valley, where all the rain caused water to flow everywhere.  I literally spent the week in constant contact with the sound of flowing water.  In a reference I don't think anyone got, I felt like I was in a Tarkovsky movie.  We even had a fire ritual.

I am still processing, but one obvious, large thing popped up this morning: when we violate our own principles, it is like doing something wrong in front of a child.  There is a childish part of ALL of us which notes our behavior and withdraws or expands in response.

Can you remember being a child?  Where there not times when you shrunk and felt less when perhaps your parents fought loudly?  Or when your father cheated on something?  Or your mother went into a hysterical rage?  There are countless possibilities.

Most of us are raised with at least nominal nods to traditional moral virtues, but at some point we start to realize that adults violate them, and some violate them constantly.  Our world is, if not filled, at least burdened more than it could be, with the results of human evil.

When you are confronted with this fact, you more or less have two choices: you can accept as actually right the violations of principle, or you can react against them.  When you are a child, though, you really DON"T have much of a choice, if the offenders are your parents (and to some extent, being imperfect, they always are) or people close to you.  No 8 year old is going to take a principled stand in defense of honesty on a sustained basis.  They may cry out, in their childish way, but they will be told to shut up by most people capable of dishonesty in the first place, and soon enough the cognitive tension will push their outrage deeper in them, even if they don't forget it.

Here is the thing: I woke up this morning and realized that when I break MY rules, it is like punishing that child.  Most of the happy, creative, joyful, connected, playful, HONEST places in us still exist emotionally as children no older than perhaps 12; and we lose connection with those inner children when we knowingly violate OUR OWN rules--and we all have them.

I realized this week that I have the soul of a soldier.  What the soul of a soldier cries out for is a mission, a cause larger than itself which is intrinsically beneficial to others, and which requires hard, sustained effort to accomplish.  This is my personal soul's deepest hunger.  It is the key to my happiness.

And I think most ACTUAL soldiers are like this too.  If you peel back all the cynicism and anger and defensiveness and general irritability, most soldiers have very childlike attachments to their units and cause.  There is a deep love and connection, EVEN IF they outwardly don't show it.  I see it.  Evidence for it is everywhere.

And beyond this inner child, which is more or less a highly sophisticated sensor for contradictions and hypocrisies, there is a spiritual self, which I really feel I made some contact with this week.  It is calm, deeply joyous, inherently brave, determined, and bright.  You cannot get in contact with it, and certainly cannot maintain contact with it, if your inner child's bullshit detector gets or remains triggered.

What is called virtue is simply enlightened self interest.  This is the core of what I have to say.  It is not unique, but most important truths are and always have been voiced in many different ways, constantly, throughout history.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Smoking

To continue my rant, I decided to look at the rules in the People's Republic of California, a once-prosperous State currently bleeding tax-payers, and likely to go broke in the next ten years due to sheer stupidity.

Pulled this up: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_smoking_bans_in_the_United_States#.C2.A0California

Look at the rules in Marin County: May 23, 2012 banned in all condos and apartments, as well as all patios within residential units. Anyone caught smoking will face a $100 fine and will be sentenced to five community day services. A second offense warrants a $300 fine and ten community day services, and a third offense being $700 fine and fifteen community day services. Landlords may opt out of smoking restrictions by designating 20 percent of their units reserved for smoking and may permit e-cigarettes to be used inside apartments and condos. All other outdoor areas, including bar and restaurant patios, and private homes that are not of multi-unit residences and smoking in cars are exempt from the ban.

Calabasas: 2006, banned in all indoor and outdoor public places, except for a handful of scattered, designated outdoor smoking areas in town. Believed to be the strictest ban in the United States.

Glendale:  October 7, 2008, banned smoking[54] in/on and within 20 feet (6.1 m) from: all city property (except streets and sidewalks); city vehicles and public transportation vehicles; city public transit stations; places of employment; enclosed public places; non-enclosed public places; and common areas of multi-unit rental housing. Some of the areas where smoking is prohibited are authorized to have smoking-permitted areas, subject to regulations. Also, landlords in Glendale are required to provide disclosure to a prospective renter, prior to signing a lease, as to the location of possible sources of second-hand smoke, relative to the unit that they are renting.

I get that people can say they don't like smoke.  I get that it certainly does not improve health.

But there is just something creepy about this to me.  I don't want to live in a world where the government can tell me what I can and can't put in my body.  We all die.  Every regulator who imposed every one of these regulations, and everyone who agitated for them, and everyone who opposed them: in 100 years, barring breakthroughs which can only happen if mainstream science abandons its orthodox materialism--not likely soon--all of them will be dead.  Their minds will not be downloaded.  Minds are not machines, and this is a necessary presupposition for those drooling over surrendering their souls to machines.

Why not live and let live?  There are too many fucking people worried about bodies and neglecting souls.  I like and trust smokers far more than health nuts.  They are at least in partial touch with their true emotions.  It is of course possible to be emotionally and physically healthy and reject things like smoking, but it seems to me most of the people pushing these things are emotionally detached ideologues.

One of the feeds on my Facebook posted an old video of Hollywood Squares, with Paul Lynde (how did I not figure out he was gay?  I guess I was too young when I was watching it), and they asked him something like: What is the collective name for gluttony, sloth, lust, wrath, pride, envy, and greed?  

He answered: The Bill of Rights.  Call me a Libertarian if you must, but I think he was on to something there.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Race and Propaganda

I have really realized over the past couple of days how thoroughly propagandized the American nation is.  Look for example at this Jon Stewart clip: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/12/04/i-honestly-dont-know-what-to-say-jon-stewart-goes-serious-on-eric-garner/

He says:
"We are definitely not living in a post-racial society." Stewart added, "and I can imagine there are a lot of people out there wondering how much of a society we're living in at all."
It sounds reasonable.  He is establishing his "caring" bona fides, and sharing that he GETS that blacks just aren't treated the same as whites.  This is a type of Integration Propaganda.  Integration Propaganda has as its goal the creation of a homogeneous group which can be counted on to accept the pronouncements of its elders with little or no question.  Jon Stewarts audience no doubt sees him as being profound, empathetic, that he has identified some important truth.

But the actual truth, as I have argued at some length, is that whites and blacks are killed in roughly even ratios, if we compare Officer Assisted Homicide (can we call it that?) rates among whites arrested for violent crimes, with those of blacks.  If we compare arrest rates across all crimes, blacks clearly fare much worse, with perhaps a 75% higher death rate, but I suspect most deaths are from arrests from violent crimes.  I don't know how to find that statistic.

My POINT, though, is that there are PLENTY of miscarriages of justice between cops and white folks.  I have posted 4 in the past couple days.

So when Jon Stewart invokes race, he does so without an empirical basis.  He is just saying what people in his position, coming from a certain worldview, say.

And again, to be clear, I think someone should have been charged with reckless endangerment or negligent homicide in this case, but the fact remains this was not PRIMARILY racial.   Bad things happen to white people too.

And this is the point I wanted to make.  The difference is that white people are not a target for Agitation Propaganda by left wing propagandists.  We are not whipped up into frenzies when a blatant (and there are much worse cases than Brown or Garner) crime is committed by police.

The whole point of mixing Agitation and Integration propagandas is to create a growing cohesive group which will believe whatever you say, and to foster that cohesiveness through carefully planned and targeted hate campaigns.  That is what is intended by calling everyone who disagrees with leftists "racists".  You both signal your belonging to the group, and the radical OTHERNESS of the person or people you have labeled Other.

That leftists--particularly leftist academics--claim to have rejected this process is simply evidence of some combination of intrapersonal stupidity, willful hypocrisy, and the cognitive distortions which invariably attend the rejection of principle, in principle, as a heuristic device for coordinating action and behavior.

Long day.  I'll leave it there.  Thought I should say something though.

Edit: I remembered what I had wanted to say.

If he were truly concerned about the plight of the innocent, about justice, about protecting the weak, Obama could easily find the same statistics I have, and conclude that some national initiative in favor of reforming the police review process might be in order.  That would be the sort of thing a Democrat from another generation might have undertaken.

But this guy, in my view, is mainly concerned with the USE all the confusion and violence can be put to.  HELPING people is simply not something that is even on his radar, except to the extent he can be seen doing so, and use that imagery for further propaganda.

Propaganda, for leftists, is an end in itself.  If conformity is the end, propaganda is the means, which makes it an end.  To BE is to be part of the group, and to be part of the group is to accept what you are told.  Therefore accepting propaganda comes very close to a sense of self outright.  That is the desired end state of aspiring Fascists everywhere, and in important respects they have come very close to realizing that ideal in America.

Justice

You know, it seems obvious to me that it is not useful to speak of a process for acquitting innocent cops UNTIL we have a process for convicting the GUILTY ones.  We cannot speak, legally, of good cops and bad cops.  The distinction is between cops and civilians, with the latter having greatly curtailed rights in disputed situations with respect to the latter.

Now, I want to be clear that I KNOW cops have all sorts of rules.  They must document everything. Reporting is half of what many do.  I KNOW they have all sorts of rules of engagement, etc.

But when they break down the wrong door, and shoot an innocent person, something major needs to happen.  Period.  We can discuss what, but at a minimum the Officer in Charge of a clusterfuck should be fired, and "disbarred", which is to say legally prohibited from "practicing" law enforcement anywhere in the country.  We disbar lawyers, and revoke medical licenses.  Why not cops?

And I think we need a special process for cops.  Grand Juries presently have to decide whether or not to file criminal charges.  What happens after that is between the police departments and the officers.  This is in part how Grand Juries can get convened over and over and NOTHING happens to bad cops, because they can't make criminal charges stick, and they don't have alternatives.

We can and should have grades of charges for Grand Juries to consider which do not presently exist on the books, with the least being official censure and some loss of pay/benefits/seniority, with a middle being getting fired, with or without retirement and benefits, and a high end being a criminal charge, ranging from reckless endangerment to 1st degree murder.

Those charges can then go to a jury trial.

As we read recently, a Grand Jury, if it so chooses, can "indict a ham sandwich".  But it can't make those charges stick.

And to let this play out, in Ferguson I think Wilson should have been exonerated, and everyone calling for riots and his death arrested.

In the case of Garner, I think they should have gone for negligent manslaughter.  That WAS a chokehold; choke holds are banned.  Simple logical process.  He had no extenuating circumstances.  He was surrounded with armed reinforcements, and making a Misdemeanor arrest (I would assume).

In the case of the guy I posted on the other day who tried to stop a drunk 19 year old with his body, and wind up killing her, I think he should have been fired without benefits and disbarred.

Smart cops know, I think, that if they are never seen as paying any consequence for what are in some cases more or less open cases of murder through at least stupidity, at some point they will start getting violent push back.  It's in their interest to SHOW the public that they are willing and able to cull their ranks of the violent and incompetent.

China

I read China is now, based on what I suspect is its own reporting, the worlds largest economy.  BFD.

Remember this: http://www.businessinsider.com/china-now-spends-125-billion-per-year-on-riot-gear-and-stability-maintenance-2013-5


The country is estimated to have more than 180,000 protests each year and the ruling Communist Party spends vast sums on ensuring order -- more even than on its military, the largest in the world.
I will repeat, as I do from time to time, that  China is formally a Fascist nation, which is ironic given all the anti-Fascist rhetoric one sees from  Communists.  The only important different between Communism and  Fascism is that Fascism is an almost viable economic system.  It only truly works when conquering other nations, as Hitler did with the Ukraine, and China did with Tibet, but it works much better than pretending that people are automotons who are indifferent to their environment, treatment, pay, and autonomy.

Fascism is great for enriching oligarchs, and has been a great boon to the ruling Communists, who live lives of luxury, and are exempt from most of the laws which control everyone else.  They are their own class, and one can see why they would institute such repressive measures to protect their class status.  One can see, that is to say, if one is amoral, crass, materialistic, and GROTESQUELY hypocritical.

Professionalism

Read this article: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/08/what-i-did-after-police-killed-my-son-110038_Page2.html#ixzz3Kz3oQgex

The issue is not black or white--that is a propaganda meme being used by the usual suspects for the usual purposes--but rather a nearly complete lack of accountability on the part of police for incompetence.  As he notes, with regard to his own State: "In 129 years since police and fire commissions were created in the state of Wisconsin, we could not find a single ruling by a police department, an inquest or a police commission that a shooting was unjustified."

Here are the stats on the FBI: "from 1993 to early 2011, F.B.I. agents fatally shot about 70 “subjects” and wounded about 80 others — and every one of those episodes was deemed justified, according to interviews and internal F.B.I. records obtained by The New York Times through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit."

Nationally, officers are cleared of any wrong-doing about 400 times a year in the shooting deaths of suspects, but NOBODY seems to track how many are charged.  I would guess based on the fore-going stats, the number is very close, or AT, zero.

Here is the thing: we have professional standards for doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects, electricians, and many others.  If an electrician fucks something up and causes a house fire which kills someone, they can be charged, at minimum, with criminal negligence.  If a doctor does something stupid they can have their license revoked and sued for malpractice.  Egregious cases can still warrant  criminal charges.

There are best practices in police work.  The choke hold used on Eric Garner--and don't give me any bullshit that an arm targeting the caratoid, and it looked like the windpipe, as they moved, isn't a choke--is WORST practice.  It is banned.  Cops know this.  They are trained in it.

THEREFORE, using a choke hold is at a minimum prima facie evidence of professional incompetence/malpractice, and in this case what I would call clear negligent manslaughter.  This applies particularly since he was not attacking them, and they had AT LEAST 4 offers present, and based on how many people were moving around afterwards, more like 5-6. If you have me a week to design and test strategies for dealing with large men without choking them--including the most basic use of interpersonal skills to calm him down--I have no doubt I could do it.

There needs at a minimum to be a police equivalent of being disbarred, of being deemed unfit to do police work of any sort.  More generally, though, it seems ABSURD that police are trusted to investigate their own.  I would suppose it obvious that people who hate cops could be relied on, if trusted with full authority, to commit any number of atrocities against justice.  The cops in the Rodney King case never should have gone to jail (that's another matter I won't deal with here).

At the same time, though, a lack of accountability means that INNOCENT PEOPLE die.  Cops have rights: so too do the people  they shoot and kill.  If you are a SWAT Team and hit the wrong house because you are having a bad day, and kill someone--which has happened several times at least in the past few years--guess what?  You go on the fuck up list, and you get to work somewhere else, like McDonalds, and your pension is revoked.

You say "but cops make mistakes, too."  When you are serving a warrant for something like unpaid student loans--this is an actual case I read about--then FUCK YOU.  You stupid sons of bitches need to do your goddamned homework, and if you can't be bothered, then I repeat: FUCK YOU.  Go pollute some other job, using money from someone willing to tolerate your stink.  No retirement, no severance.  This, in lieu of jail, which I think overgenerous.

This argument is like architects saying " but my job is just so HARD", or engineers saying "But my job is so COMPLEX", or an ER doctor saying "But I have so much STRESS."

Can we not stipulate as basic elements of the policing process that you not default to banned worst practices?  Can we not stipulate that at a minimum?

I want to be clear: this is not a rant against cops in general.  I recognize the value and inherent risk in what they do.  This is rant against BAD, INCOMPETENT, UNPROFESSIONAL cops who give everyone else a bad name.

I will share one story.  I know a woman who got drunk one night with her boyfriend, and the next day went down to Barney's neck of the woods, and got lost. They asked a cop for directions, and he smelled alcohol on the boyfriends breath, and promptly arrested him.  While this was going on, she was carrying their baby, and she was getting freaked out and scared, so she asked if she could go into the gas station (where they were stopped), and he ignored her.  So she went in.  He followed her, took the baby out of her hands, and handed it to the clerk, and then punched her so hard she woke up in the hospital.

She sued.  I don't know what happened, but these people ARE ON THE STREET.  What he did was not policy.  It was not legal.  It was an assault, pure and simple, but five gets you twenty he is or soon will be back on the street, with no charges, and that the case will settle out of court for not much money.

Some cases are OBVIOUS.  This was all caught on camera.  Such cases need to be subjected to criminal prosecution.  Cops need to go to jail.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Determination

I post this in part because I want to remember it and am feeling too lazy to journal it.  I can type 5-10 times faster than I can write, and it has the added merit of being legible.

I was dreaming last night I was driving, and construction kept interfering with my path.  I was trying to go somewhere, but endless concrete loops and dead ends were in my way.

So I got out, grabbed my car, and climbed up a steep rock embankment--using one hand to get handholds, since the car was in the other--to get myself back on the highway I wanted.  I have never carried a car before.  That was new.  It wasn't that heavy.

I really want to break through some old limiting behaviors, and feel I have found some good strategies for doing it.  I will have more to write on the specifics once I hit some behavioral benchmarks I have set for myself.  It's far better to speak of what worked than what might.

Nanny Bloomberg and smoking

From what I read, Eric Garner had been arrested 8 times for selling cigarettes without paying the five dollar something tax that in his infinite intrusiveness Nanny Bloomberg--the prick--instituted to busybody his way into the lives of every New Yorker who smoked.

Not only was this law put on the books--for the alleged good of New Yorkers--but the Chief of Police gave it priority and strongly encouraged beat cops to make arrests.  This is idiocy.  This is taking the War on Drugs to its absurdist extreme.  If they wanted to punish him, fines would have been quite sufficient.  It is not a big deal one way or the other.

And I can totally relate to why he was pissed with them.  I would have been pissed too.  He had figured out a way to make money that, at worst, led to New York collecting slightly less in taxes.

Now why was Garner doing this?  TO FEED HIS FAMILY.  How complicated is that?

And why were people buying from him?  Simple: Socialists ALWAYS create black markets by charging such high taxes that avoiding them becomes profitable in and of itself.  As I noted the other day, utopian Denmark has a thriving black market, with half of Danes admitting they buy things under the table to avoid taxes.

So you have on the one hand an idiot law, passed by idiots for idiots, and enforced by a combination of drones and idiots, and at least one man dead for it, and children who NOW will either go without or be forced to USE some of that tax money these jackasses are collecting to make ends meet, in the form of social welfare benefits.

Dumb top to bottom, side to side.

And I can't resist adding that this overall war on Tobacco is another source of irritation to me.  If people want to smoke, and they tell their insurance carriers the truth, they are COVERED.  It's nobodies fucking business. It's something many people like because it calms them down.

And I have long felt that these stats on second hand smoke exposure among adults are BS.  Yes, people should not smoke in malls or at work, but a few whiffs here and there is not going to affect anyone.  No, you should not smoke around your kids, but if they get a whiff every now and then, that's not going to hurt anything either.

Did you know chronic smokers only have a 1 in 20 chance of getting lung cancer?  The rate for the population as a whole is 1 in 100.  This makes smokers 5x more likely to get lung cancer, but only 5% of them actually will.  My own guesstimate is that roughly 1 in 2 smokers never suffers anything more serious than a smokers cough.

Sanity on race and cops

Posted Facebook.  I decided to break my rule.

I think adding some context to some current debates might be useful.
42% of arrest related homicides are among whites. 32% among blacks. This is a ratio of 1.31. What I will note is that in absolute numbers more whites are killed by cops in the arrest process than blacks. Our media would have you believe that number is close to zero. It isn't. I will post in comments a very recent case exactly similar in kind to the Eric Garner case.
Now, here is a table showing total arrests:
I have divided total white arrests by total black arrests--for all causes--and the ratio is 2.46, which means that proportionately blacks are more likely to die in the process of getting arrested. However if I select ONLY for violent crimes--which I think we can safely assume also carry the highest risk for both sides--the number of arrests for whites is 236,394, and for blacks it is 155,088, which is a ratio of 1.52. This STILL reflects a higher rate for blacks, but not a huge one. If my math is correct, the rate is 16% higher.
If we have a crisis, it is that nearly 3,000 people died in the process of getting arrested, or in custody and that their deaths were formally classified as officer-involved homicides. And again, in absolute numbers that represents about 1,244 white people, and 931 blacks.
Now, most of these were likely folks who came out shooting and got dropped. But not all of them.
I would like to tell the people using this for racial polarization, profit, and ratings to kiss my ass. Eric Garner's killer was clearly guilty of at least reckless manslaughter, but the problem is not primarily a BLACK problem, at least statistically. We are having riots because it is being portrayed as such, but wrongs are being done to ALL races. What was done to Garner was wrong, but the same sorts of things are happening to everyone, at roughly comparable rates, or at least that would appear to be the case.
I am having vivid fantasies of putting some journalists, politicians and agitators in old fashioned stocks and having people throw rotten fruit and vegetables at them for a day or two.
You don't make people smarter by making them dumber. What you do is make them USEFUL.
I will note that nothing good usually happens to the pawns. None of us should aim to be a tool for someone else's end, but rather to seek our own purposes, with our own wills, our own knowledge, and our own wisdom.


Do you know about this?  19 year old kid leaves a party in a field, terrified and drunk, stupid cop tries to stop her car with his body, gets his foot run over, panics, shoots and kills her. No charges. Underage drinking is not a capital offense. It may be that some of these people do not deserve criminal trials, but in my book if you do something that stupid once, your ass bounces high on the way out, and you are put on a permanent national shit list to make sure no one rehires you.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Eric Garner

This is a murder, plain and simple: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1ka4oKu1jo

Selling cigarettes is something you issue a citation for (or, according to the person making the recording, breaking up a fight), not something you use a choke hold for.  And aren't chokeholds something from the fucking 70's?  It is KNOWN that unless they are used carefully, they kill people.  You can cut off oxygen too long, collapse the wind pipe, or--as appears to have happened in this case--trigger a heart attack.  That's why cops have been carrying tasers for 20 years.

Police, when they take the job, understand they are granted both power AND responsibility.  This is no different in principle than a surgeon fucking up a heart surgery.  They are paid to do it right, and there need to be consequences when they do it wrong.

An issue that is becoming increasingly obvious with cameras everywhere is that some cops seem to view all resistance to their authority as a pissing contest which they refuse to lose.  This guy was mouthing off at them, but likely because they have hassled him many times.  They arrested him basically because he wasn't sufficiently obsequious.  I worked for a police department in college, and repeatedly saw "Arrested for Resisting Arrest".  I was never able to work out the logic of that.  A more accurate phrasing might be "pissed me off."  I would suspect that some cops make this particular arrest much, much more than others.  The others are the ones to be trusted, in all likelihood.

This is very different from the Michael Brown case. There were plenty of cops, and Garner did not offer resistance.  Even when they were taking him down he didn't try to hit anyone.

I really like this guy

http://rare.us/story/milwaukee-sheriff-tells-megyn-kelly-how-obama-and-eric-holder-have-hurt-america/

In my view it is BLACK people who need to start asking: what the HELL have all these people allegedly crusading on our behalf actually DONE for us?

Nobody is looking out for blacks in this country, least of all their supposed leaders, and supposed advocates.  That is why failure continues to be widespread, and unchanging.

We don't need to have ghettos.  We don't need to have areas of concentrated poverty.

Much of this will require fixes in monetary policy--a full solution certainly will--but much can be done even within political policy.  Charter schools and vouchers are the most obvious place to start.  They WORK, which is why Democrats oppose them.  What happens to their constituency, when they no longer need look to the government for assistance?  This is why ending schools which were generating MUCH better results, particularly for minorities, was one of the first things De Blasio did.

Here's a link: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/education/2014/03/bill_de_blasio_vs_charter_schools_a_feud_in_new_york_city_has_broad_national.html

De Blasio also finds himself in a pretty lonely situation: By going after the charters, he is attacking one of the most promising urban school reform strategies available to Democratic mayors across the country these days, and he’s doing it without offering a clear alternative. 
Among the 870 Success Academy seats blocked was a modest 194-student expansion for Success Academy students in Harlem to move into a new middle school. That triggered days of searing presscoverage pointing out that those 194 students, all low-income minorities, were coming from a school, Success Academy 4, that killed it on the new state test scores, with 80 percent of the students passing the math test, and 59 percent the English test. The co-located middle school the mayor is protecting and where many of those 194 charter students would end up: P.S. 149, where 5 percent of students passed the math test, and 11 percent the English test. 
Wasn’t de Blasio supposed to be the champion of improving education for have-not children, his critics asked? 

Drug War

I'm still trying to keep my opinionating off Facebook.  This is a post I deleted.
Priorities: "There were approximately 600 police officers and detectives manning the borough of Manhattan in the Narcotics Division when I worked there.
When I worked in the Manhattan Special Victims Squad, we were responsible for investigating all felony sex crimes and child abuse cases in the borough of Manhattan. Our caseload totaled approximately 4,000 cases per year. We were staffed with 22 Detectives.
I recall having a pile of active case folders on my desk and trying to prioritize them. Should I work on the infant who was burned with an iron, the woman brutally beaten and raped at gunpoint, or the 11 year old child sodomized by his uncle? Of course I attempted to work all of them with due diligence, as did most of my colleagues, but the frustration of such a caseload never ceased. In the back of my mind I knew there were only 22 of us and yet 600 narcotics officers were working cases without a victim."
What needs to be added is that Asset Seizure laws have effectively turned the drug war into a For Profit business. We have been fighting this "war" since the Reagan years. I can't see any strong positives that have come from it. We have, on the contrary, compromised many civil liberties, created many new wards of the State in our penitentiaries, and militarized our police forces. Those are not desirable outcomes. Yes, drugs can cause people to do bad things. So too can alcohol. But as he notes above, surely we can grant that possessing crack is much less injurious than raping someone?

The Boy Scouts

I'm reading through a catalog targeted at men of a certain age, those at a minimum, I would suspect, who can remember standing up to change the channel on TV, and whose childhoods had lots of beef stroganoff and Hamburger Helper.

They have a reproduction of the 1911 Boy Scout Handbook.  Seeing this brought a wave of nostalgia through me.

There was a time when being a Boy Scout was an honorable thing, when young boys were brought up to value integrity, preparedness, alertness, diligence, and practical knowledge.  This was a widespread and pervasive ideal.

It seems to me we are not only primed for, but seeing, a strong cultural resurgence of the basic Liberal ideals which informed American politics for most of history.  Self reliance, kindness, honesty: all of these work to produce an informed, active, responsible public.

Ponder for a moment the obvious success of the Art of Shaving stores across the country (I travel, and am seeing them everywhere).  Could one not readily correlate this with the Republican wave in the most recent election?

Life is uncertain, but it is much more uncertain when the basic ideal which have made us successful are daily attacked and denigrated--directly, or through being ignored.

I think we have reached a tipping point where there is too much confusion, where the desire to do right, to tolerate things we don't like, has passed into anger, and an open willingness to call for returns to old ideas.

Goodness, as I define it, is being able to live happily on your own, and to be happy for others in their own successes, to take pleasure in them.  It is the opposite of Schadenfreude. It is the opposite of self righteous anger on behalf of people who have not even asked you to help them.  It is the opposite of intentional divisiveness, bitterness, anger, vitriol.

What we might term the Golden Age of the Boy Scout no doubt covered up much that was bad.  It did not make enough room for including women as cultural equals (or superiors).  It did not make room for inclusion of blacks, who I suspect may have been banned outright in some areas.

Boy Scout culture converted easily to militarism.  I personally think it was vital that we battled both the Nazi Fascists and the Communist Fascists.  Anti-Communism was vital throughout the second half of the 20th Century, and remains important.  Our colleges are filled with people who would end our freedoms if they could, returning us to earlier ages of cruelty and barbarity, as seen in Cuba.

Now, though, I am with Rand Paul that enough is enough.  Let us combat direct threats to our nation, but not try and guess 15 moves ahead as to who might threaten us.  We need, as one example, to let Iran know their civilization will end if they attack us with a nuclear weapon.  North Korea will cease to exist, as a socialist paradise or anything else.

Beyond that, though, I would support large increases in National Guard participation, and a substantial draw down of our standing military.  We do not need to patrol the worlds oceans for free any more, even though we need to retain strike capabilities.

Ideals remain ideals even within conditions of change.  The whole world was racist in 1776, and less than a 100 years later some 600,000 Americans died trying, in no small measure, to redefine them as human beings just like white people, with equal sufferings, equal wishings, equal rights. 200 years later it is self evident to nearly everyone that racism as an institutional creed is anti-Liberal and wrong.

People can change, and institutions can change, without altering their guiding ideals.  You do not attack ideals: you attack ideas, and the behavior they support.

This is my foundational objection to Leftism: it does not in fact contain ANY ideals. It is a purely destructive cultural process.  I have argued this at length.

And I want to be clear that I make no foundational distinction between the soft version, which I call Sybaritic Leftism, and hard Leftism, which I call Cultural Sadeism.  The first LEADS to the second, perhaps slowly, perhaps quickly, because it rejects IN PRINCIPLE all ideals other than leveling, other than bringing the high low.  All socialisms are bad for this reason.

It is a perfectly acceptable ideal to want the poor fed, clothed and housed.  But this is not the ACTUAL ideal of socialists.  Everywhere this awful creed is implemented standards of living go down in aggregate, chronic unemployment becomes endemic, and anger builds.

Now, obviously there are continuums.  I speak to the principle of egalitarianism as a primary goal.  Slaves are equal, but they do not thereby become happier or more enlightened.

No society can be better than the aggregate average of the individuals in it. That a society as a whole can be a target of moral improvement is the great lie that leftists tell over and over, in no small measure, I would argue, because by invoked the General, they exempt themselves in the particular from cultivating virtue.  France's Msr. Hollande hates poor people.  John Kerry doesn't like paying taxes. Neither does Al Sharpton.

And returning to an article by the strongly Left-leaning Guardian, the Danes seem to be living on credit cards: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/27/scandinavian-miracle-brutal-truth-denmark-norway-sweden

Why do the Danes score so highly on international happiness surveys? Well, they do have high levels of trust and social cohesion, and do very nicely from industrial pork products, but according to the OECD they also work fewer hours per year than most of the rest of the world. As a result, productivity is worryingly sluggish. How can they afford all those expensively foraged meals and hand-knitted woollens? Simple, the Danes also have the highest level of private debt in the world (four times as much as the Italians, to put it into context; enough to warrant a warning from the IMF), while more than half of them admit to using the black market to obtain goods and services.
Perhaps the Danes' dirtiest secret is that, according to a 2012 report from the Worldwide Fund for Nature, they have the fourth largest per capita ecological footprint in the world. Even ahead of the US. Those offshore windmills may look impressive as you land at Kastrup, but Denmark burns an awful lot of coal. Worth bearing that in mind the next time a Dane wags her finger at your patio heater.
Most seriously of all, economic equality – which many believe is the foundation of societal success – is decreasing. According to a report in Politiken this month, the proportion of people below the poverty line has doubled over the last decade.Denmark is becoming a nation divided, essentially, between the places which have a branch of Sticks'n'Sushi (Copenhagen) and the rest. Denmark's provinces have become a social dumping ground for non-western immigrants, the elderly, the unemployed and the unemployable who live alongside Denmark's 22m intensively farmed pigs, raised 10 to a pen and pumped full of antibiotics (the pigs, that is). 

My point: problems have solutions, and humankind has been on this Earth long enough to know what works and what doesn't.  As I have said Conservatives can certainly be anti-Progress.  But they can also be anti-Regress, and we have reached the point where that is their primary mission.  Whatever benefits may have accrued from asserting the rights and importance of women and minorities have been achieved.  They are our (middle aged white men, in my case) equals (or superiors: my world view has no need to assert equality as a necessary given, in either direction) legally and socially, to the extent they work to do so.

But Boy Scout virtues continue to be relevant.  They are the path to creating and sustaining freedom, and freedom is in my view the sine qua non of human advancement.  Everyone who claims otherwise is peddling a lie, normally in pursuit of a totalitarianism which they seek because of their own moral inferiority, their own inability to grow as people, to learn to process anger, grief, and LIFE itself, in all its ugliness and beauty and ordinariness. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Investing

I tend to take what money I might earn which most people would spend on a vacation, and spend it on personal development.  My reasoning is very simple: when you teach yourself to be happier, with less, you have made an investment which pays dividends forever.

Let's drive this hopelessly into the realm of abstraction.  Let us say that your current Happiness Quotient is 1.  Let us say that if you lose your job and decline in status, it will go down; and if you get promoted and advance your career, it will NOT go up permanently.  Most successes have short shelf lives.  It will stay at 1, perhaps advance to a 1.1 or 1.2 once you get a corner office.

If you work your ass off and get your dream job, and your dream S.O. (S is Significant), then you advance perhaps to 1.5, with the same risks of decline if status or relationship change negatively.

Posit, however, that you invest money and time directly on the "happiness process".  Let us say that you are a 1, but with work and time advance to a 2 that is NOT TIED directly to external validation.  Let us say that you learn to keep the 2 even if you wind up living in a yurt in a rural county next to a pig farm.

Is this not smarter than pursuing happiness indirectly?  I think it is.

Being a modest, unassuming soul, I plan to write a book entitled "Saving the world", or perhaps "How we do it (survive)".  One core point I want to make is that consumerism, conspicuous consumption, greed, excess: none of these are NEEDED for human happiness.  There are groups who want to use FORCE to make us live lives which require less material stuff.

But why can we not reach such states voluntarily?  As one example, I proposed perhaps 4-5 years ago that it would be INTERESTING if the primary determinant of house status was not size, but how cleverly it was constructed, how cleverly it was built, how well it blended with its setting.

And to that end I proposed many things.  Paints that change color.  Pipes running through the house showing if it is raining or not.  Smoke in tubes that gets disturbed when wind is present.

And of course all SORTS of possibilities exist in the external structure of such houses, which are very small inside.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Michael Brown conspiracy

http://conservativetribune.com/possible-ferguson-witness-killed/

If it is true that people who witnessed the shooting were threatened, then that means that dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people knew DAMN WELL that Brown was guilty, that he brought the shooting on himself; and that they instead acted as if he were innocent.

This is disgusting.

People like this DeAndre Joshua are the hope of the black community.  It is an abundance of people willing to do the right thing, even though unpopular, which makes white America work.  If this is true, this kid showed both a lot of courage and a lot of integrity.

People like that are worth being proud of.  They do the black community proud.

And the people who shot him, if we are understanding this story correctly, are the BANE of black America.  They are the ones who drag it down, make it hellish, make it impossible to get ahead.  They should be fought at every corner, across every front, every hill and every valley until this useless rage is removed and replaced with common sense and common decency.

Don't hold your breath though.