Odds and Ends

From around the Intarwebs:

Ed Driscoll has dug up an old review of Michael Moore’s movie Roger and Me. I found it interesting because she exactly describes what took me years to figure out. Blatant lies notwithstanding, the key quote is:


It does something that is humanly very offensive: Roger & Me uses its leftism as a superior attitude. Members of the audience can laugh at ordinary working people and still feel that they’re taking a politically correct position [242-245].

Yeah. And doesn’t that seem to be common these days from the left? Disagree and you’re a rube, worthy of contemptuous mockery.

Freeman Hunt links to a thorough take-down of the Penn and Teller “Vatican” show that I found so appalling. Seems they were more than a little factually challenged. Confirmation bias is the enemy people: Take a chainsaw to them hobby horses.

This Doctor Zero guy at HotAir is pretty dang good. Here he’s talking about confidence, and talks about the way the government bumbling through the private sector tends to undermine it. These talks of health care nationalization—well, not so much the talks as the fierce drive that always seems on the verge of achieving it—undermine the medical sector. I suspect we’ll see some shortages even if it doesn’t pass. (If it does, shortages are a certainty.)

My old pal Nick Hodges re-tweeted Jeff Atwood (of Coding Horror) about the apparent increasing effectiveness of placebos. I tend to be cynical about this stuff and just assume the pharmaceutical companies were lying about the effectiveness of anti-depressants.

Chuck B. (back40feet on Twitter) tweeted about this cool book, The Math Book: From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension. Total nerd moment here.

Finally, I’ve been sitting on this post from “Cloven, Not Crested,” a blog I occasionally read, entitled “Are Women Unhappier?” I suspect that, on the whole, they are (as I suspect men are, on the whole), but a segment is probably far happier than they ever would have been. But I haven’t had the time to do the topic justice.

Check ‘em out!

Freeblogging!

The inimitable Freeman Hunt has had a blog for quite some time, but I never linked to it because she didn’t blog much. But since the new baby came around she’s stepped it up a bit, so I added her to the roll. She has a couple of posts I wanted to call out, too.

Item the first: He Is Not Coming. This is a rather depressing and scathing indictment on modern society, not entirely undeserved. But I’m not sure I agree with the conclusion. How many people 235 years ago fit the mold that Freeman outlines? A small percentage, to be sure. We have a much smaller percentage today, to be sure, but we also have one-hundred times as many people (in this country). The percentage can afford to be smaller–with the only rub being that there has to be an appreciative audience.

I believe a segment of the audience is getting more receptive with each passing day.

Also, while The Boy and I are looking at learning Latin (on Victor Davis Hanson’s advice), I would note that the Founders did not know the language of relativity, of computing, of information science and so on. The game has changed and education needs to reflect that. Today, the primary skill may be knowing how to sip from the firehose.

The past had its festering effete as well, even if today universal education and socialism has allowed them to spread their disease as a philosophy.

Finally, I’m not sure we need a “he”. I think we need–and may have–a “we”. That’s where the “he"s and "she"s will come from. We don’t need a revolution: We need a hundred revolutions. The rot came from the top down; the cure will come from the bottom up. Economics may work better supply-side; liberty must needs be demanded.

Item the second: Freem also linked to a blog called "Life is Not a Cereal” with an entry on what to do if your homeschooling kids get “school envy”.

Homeschoolers are not immune to “grass is greener”-itis. This is almost entirely resolved by acquainting them with the realities of industrialized schooling? Yes, those kids get to have recess. But, yes, they must take it, whether they want it or not, it is always an exact amount of time, and hell, you never know when you’re going to be stripsearched.

As the entry also points out a little bit of consumerism can take the edge off: Let the kids buy “back to school” supplies or lunchboxes, for example.

Finally, it’s not unheard of for homeschoolers to let their kids take the senior year of high school. Certainly there’s nothing wrong with that, though it’s preferable that they have their college degrees first.

Anyway, check out Freem’s blog. Oh, especially these pictures from her grandfather from 1952. She claims they’re military but they look an awful lot like The Thing From Another World to me….

Organic?

Freeman Hunt tweeted an article on organic being unsafe relative to other foods. This is probably true, if you take the entire category of foods that slap the word “organic” on their box/package/can, whatever.

The usual attack on “organic” begins with “organic doesn’t mean anything” or “it means ‘containing carbon’”. But, of course, since the ’40s at least, it’s meant “raised or conducted without the use of drugs, hormones, or synthetic chemicals”, presumably going back to the earlier meaning of derived from or pertaining to living organisms. Then, of course, there’s a larger, vaguer meaning which has to do with adherence to a particular set of dogma as varied and splintered as Christianity.

The premise of “organic” is that modern agricultural techniques result in less nutritious food, or food that otherwise has unwanted side-effects. If only, the argument goes, we had the nutritious food of the 19th century, we might all live into our 50s.

Actually, it’s easy to snark, and harder to make truly substantive points here. Many factors led to the earlier deaths of our ancestors, including (perhaps) a lack of food, but perhaps not the general quality of food when you could get it.

My suspicion is that many modern agricultural techniques are truly harmful, but only in the slow, ticking time-bomb way that is rather preferable to the less slow, horrible approach of starvation. The organic market is one that places a premium on long-term health (they presume) over short-term economic gain.

The yin to the synthetic pesticide yang is mineral depletion of the soil. It’s really not debatable that the foods we get in the market are not optimal, nutrient-wise. All you have to do is stop by a roadside vegetable stand or pick an apple off a tree to know that something is lost in transit.

Whether that’s due to the soil we can debate, and I’ll take that up at a later time. The point is, if mineral depletion of the soil is the key element, a product can be certified organic, be produced with the greatest attention to health imaginable, and still be as bad or worse than non-organic food. (For simplicity’s sake, I’m ignoring the myriad shams.) As bad, because just like their conventional counterparts, they lack the nutrients. Worse, because without conventional treatments, they’re susceptible to all the same diseases with none of the protections.

So, it’s not at all surprising to find “organic” foods more susceptible to disease or bearing disease: Between the charlatans, the well-meaning-but-ignorant, and maybe some bias in the research, I would be surprised to find anything else. (See the earlier discussion here about raw milk.)

I don’t have any kind of magic bullet here. Obviously, the ideal would be to test food items for both the presence of various substances: poisons, pathogens, phytochemicals, minerals, and so on.

Tricorder anyone?

Free Marketing

There’s a bit of back and forth about free trade here, which seems to be centered around externalities. (Centered around externalities? Nu?) Guy A argues, well, sure Barbies are $2 cheaper, but a thousand guys are out of work and doomed to alcoholism and divorce (ok, not all). He doesn’t follow through with the thought, though. Are those the only implications?

I immediately wondered how many fewer Barbies were sold at 20% higher cost. And what happens, on a larger scale when, say, 20% fewer toys are sold. Do you get 20% fewer toyshops? Do you spread the formerly localized misery around throughout the supply chain, down to 20% fewer little girls getting what they want for Christmas?

Guy B argues, but what about the Chinese, now saved from alcoholism and divorce? Also, he goes to the root issue about using force and the implications of allowing the government to, essentially, make business decisions for people.

But when you start with protectionism, you have to assume the people you’re arguing with are taking the position that, yeah, it is okay for the “greater good”.

You know, the heartless businessman is such an accepted trope, I bet nobody has ever even tried to tackle the reality. It’s just taken for granted that businessmen will save that $2 and lay off their workers, which doesn’t really match what I’ve seen. Most of the businessmen I’ve known really loathe laying off people, especially good people.

Anyway, as someone whose field went from esoteric to hot to increasingly downgraded and outsourced–all without ever being really understood–I’m inclined to wonder if the damaging thing is the idea that a Man Can Only Do One Job In His Life and a Company Must Take Care Of Him.

Protectionism is, at its best, an attempt to preserve that notion. We’re still serfs serving feudal lords, in that view, though at least we have some mobility. At its worst, protectionism is a tax on the populous to ensure the wealth of the entitled. Someone decides some occuptation is entitled–say, corn farmer–and so we all pay more for sugar and can’t get a decent soda any more.

Of course, the educational system was set up to provide exactly this kind of worker: Someone who’d take orders and sit still and do things by rote all day. As it turns out, this 19th century “ideal” isn’t the best approach for survival in the 21st century, though our schools don’t reflect that.

But it’s easy for me to take this tack, as a guy whose resumé qualifies as ridiculous in terms of the various things I’ve worked with, and who picks up new things pretty aggressively. (I sort of have to do that, because the more logical and robust approach–building a business and customer network–is not something I’m good at.) It’s more interesting to look at whether it’s ever neccessary for industry to be protected.

Consider, in a truly free trade system, that a foreign supplier can flood a zone with cheap goods at a loss and drive local suppliers out of business. And having established a monopoly, they can raise prices again. This is a gag pulled by big companies, not just foreign ones, and it does raise some thorny issues.

But I do note that these thorny issues can be resolved with flexibility, agility and mobility, given the right technology. If local suppliers can’t compete with larger ones when they cheat, then you bring in more of the larger suppliers to keep each other honest. And if the local suppliers still can’t compete in that arena, you move them to a different one. If you’ve got 1,000 people making Barbies, maybe you split them up into 10 groups of 100, all able to act indepedently and fill demands at a level a foreign supplier can’t.

With heavy-duty industrial stuff, that’s not possible–yet. But perhaps it will be. I’m biased, due to being heavily involved in computers over the years, but I see high-tech electronics not being all that different from 19th century tech, only much, much faster. And it seems like that high-tech stuff infringes more and more on clunky ol’ steam-era tech.

But regardless where technology takes us, businesses and their employees are always going to be served by being able to shift gears and change directions.

(Original article tweeted by Freeman Hunt, who has some cool 60-year-old pix up on her blog now.)

Missing You, or Where The Girls Aren’t

Well, Knox was apparently moving (will she still be “Knox” if not in Knoxville?), Freem had a baby (and a tea party) and Darcy chose this inopportune moment to selfishly go on a cruise. To, like, New Zealand or something. She’ll probably come back with a kiwi for a boyfriend and an Austrian accident.

Without Ruth Anne dropping the occasional pun grenade, it’d be a tomb in here. (And I should note that Knox has stopped by and Freem is still tweeting a bit at odd hours.) Troop just finished (what he hopes is his last) tax season. And otherwise I’ve probably just not been very interesting.

But I got to thinking about the Loudon Wainwright, easily one of my favorite singer-songwriters, who wrote this song back when he was on M*A*S*H for the absent nurses:

And I wonder if they miss us,
Now wouldn’t that be funny?
Now that we’re without them
We can hardly stand ourselves.

But my fondness for the ol’ Loudo has always struck me as odd, in that the guy’s life has been almost at the opposite end of the circle from me. He’s always been a ladies man, incredibly devoted to his mother but unable to keep a relationship together, whose kids have, shall we say, mixed feelings about him.

The trajectory of his life (as the listener can ascertain it, which is–one hopes–dramatized) has followed a sort of predictably sad path from cocky, angry, snarky young man to doubting middle-aged divorcee, to old man contemplating his fate.

And perhaps the appeal is in that trajectory. Despite writing very specific songs that no one else can sing (and reducing his commercial viability as a songwriter thereby), they do speak to certain universal truths.

And I see now that Althouse is talking about sad songs, which fits in with this message, sitting on my laptop for the past 6 hours. Loudon has written some of the most profoundly touching music about his parents since their deaths, and I was thinking about this song, “Missing You”, which I believe is actually about his mother:

He don’t stay out any more
No more staying out past four
Most nights he turns in ‘round ten
He’s way too tired to pretend

Sure you might find him up at three
But if he is, it’s just to pee
Some nights he’s awake till two
That’s just because he’s missing you
Just lying there and missing you

He don’t sleep late any more
Up like a farmer half-past four
When that sleepy sun comes up
He’s halfway through his second cup

And his day’s work is done ’round two
That’s when he starts in missing you
Quarter-to-three it’s time to nap
He always says “No nap, I’m crap.”
His motto is: No nap, I’m crap.

Guess he’s just set in his ways
He does the same damn things most days
Seven twenty-fours a week
With lots of down-time so to speak

He hardly glances at a clock
Since his routine is carved in rock
Man’s a machine what can he do?
Just keep on going missing you
Keep right on going missing you

His teeth fall out, so does his hair
But in his dreams you’re always there
A jewel in his unconscious mind
A miracle, a precious find

But in the end he’s all alone
He wakes up and his jewel is gone
There’s a heaven and he knows it’s true
He’s stuck on earth just missing you
And it’s hell on just missing you
Back where he started missing you

And here’s a wan waif singing it a capella.

I Feel It In My Fingers, I Feel It In My Toes

It must be spring, because we’re talking about sex again.

Althouse had a thread about prostitution in New Zealand and, predictably, like clockwork, the “all women are whores” meme surfaced. Though this was “all women trade sex for material goods” which is the complement to “all men pay for sex,” I guess. (You don’t hear “all men are johns”, much, though, do you?)

I stayed out and let Freeman tangle with it for a while, and then Darcy added her two cents, and finally–I swear, it’s like a mouse to cheese, putting up these dubious philosophical propositions–I caved and wrote a very lengthy response. Which I’m going to repost here and add a few things because, believe it or not, I had even more to say.

First off, the emphasis is wrong. And men are likely to make this mistake because they’re so strongly sex driven, but relationships aren’t “about” sex. Sex is part of a relationship. If it’s the reason for your relationship, you probably are better off with a prostitute or–if you’re more monogamously inclined–a mistress.

But it’s such an impoverished view of the whole man-woman dynamic. Anyway, here’s what I wrote, with some additional notes:

Actually, the theme of the “cheapskate girlfriend” is not at all uncommon in a relationship where the woman has or controls the money. That particular phrase isn’t common, I’d grant. (“Stingy bitch”, maybe.) This reflects more the fact that men don’t complain much about their women not giving them money because society associates masculinity with economic prowess.

Women talking about cheapskate men was used as evidence of their material natures. But women also complain of stingy lovers and, truthfully, stinginess in all areas of life. Sometimes people just complain. Other times, well, it’s easier to say “He’s tight with money” than “he doesn’t love me.”

And, certainly, women make this association, too, to a degree. Women who use this as their primary criterion are known as “gold diggers”, a phrase which most wouldn’t appreciate as a descriptor much more than “whore”.

Saying that “most women trade sex for material goods at one time or another” but then trying to defend it as “well, it’s not professional, so they’re not whores” seems a bit specious to me. Isn’t “trading sex for material goods” the very definition of prostitution? How is it not “professional” if they’re getting paid for it? Are they pro-am?

I also don’t buy Sofa King’s addition of “a close personal relationship”, either. The phrase was “material goods”. There’s a qualitative difference between “close personal relationship” and “jewelry”.

There was a little sleight-of-hand here. Revenant used the word “material” and Sofa King added relationships as something men give women for sex. This is one of the creepier notions. Young people get into relationships because of sex–and, certainly, women were traditionally the gatekeeper (“no sex until we’re married”) because they were risking more.

I’ll get into this more later, but sex sex. In other words, if a man and a woman have sex, it’s not necessarily an equal exchange. In fact, it’s probably almost never an equal exchange. The woman’s risk is greater, partners’ sexual apettites are almost always going to be different or out of sync, and just the raw value of time and attention is unequal from person-to-person.

Men and women in relationships do things that lead to sex. You could cynically attach a monetary value to all those things, and say they were both trading things for sex.

This is belied by the fact that the exchanges continue even when sex isn’t in the picture. And sex continues even when there’s no material trade.

One might: have sex to strengthen a unit that better survives in the word; have sex to get pregnant; have sex because it has a physiological and psychological benefit for your partner; have sex just for sex–because it’s fun.

None of this is prostitution or “trading for material goods”. Most of it falls into the category of “moral”.

Sofa King actually said “What is the moral basis for saying that any one of these forms of compensation is superior to any other?” Which is just kind of silly. Morality has all kinds of things to say about when sex is okay and when it’s not. Sex is one of the driving forces of morality.

But the part that made Darcy sad and which I thought was–well, demonstrably false as well as cynical–was when Rev said “A guy who tries building a relationship on kind words and deeds and going dutch on everything isn’t going to get any. The relationship is probably going to die early on, too.”

If I were to make an observation about women, it might be that they’re shallow. I’d say the same thing about men, too, though, and I’d add a caveat: They’re superficially shallow. Heh. That is to say, we all judge based on outward appearances at first. Guys go for the pretty girl, women go for the rich guy–and, frankly, I’ve never seen good looks work against a man, or money work against a girl.

But ultimately, most of us look a little deeper, and a guy can go a long way on kindness–even if he doesn’t mean it.

As clichéd as all this stuff about women + gifts is, isn’t there also a cliché about the poor young couple starting out with nothing but love? (True story: A friend of mine is celebrating his wife’s birthday by taking her to the park and picking flowers from their garden, etc. Guaranteed he’s “getting some” tonight.)

There are a lot of other clichés that don’t fit neatly into the women-as-whore paradigm. Lots of men are supported by women. Medical students hook up with nurses (and then when they’re established drop them for showgirls). Starving artists hook up with waitresses. Starving artists mutually work menial jobs, supporting each other as best they can.

No, in practice, there are only a few situations where this idea works out at all.

Do women sometimes receive an expensive gift that they respond to with sex? Sure. Some relationships degenerate to the point where the only worthy expression of affection is money from him and sex from her.

But in a healthy relationship–one that isn’t going to end when her beauty or his money runs out–when an expensive gift moves a woman to sex, it’s because it represents something else: The attention of the male and his demonstration that he values her, that he’s willing to work or sacrifice for her, and so on.

In other words, there is an exchange going on. It’s just not a material one.

Rev and I have locked horns many times over materialism. He’s a materialist; he believes in nothing but matter. I think that’s pretty silly because, you know, why would I bother with a piece of meat? Heh.

But a materialist is sort of stuck here: If there is no spiritual component to life then there has to be a material exchange of some sort, if you are kind to someone, that has to trigger something in their brain that releases a chemical that makes them feel good, or some damn thing.

In the stereotypical situation, where the man wants sex more than the woman, his sexual attention is at less of a premium. It can be self-centered. If she’s not in the mood, sex can be her gift to him. (Wise women know this and wise men appreciate it.)

But how does he reciprocate? However good and considerate a lover he may be, where’s the exchange in terms of doing something for your partner that you wouldn’t necessarily be inclined to?

You think women respond to expensive gifts? Try doing the dishes. Paint a room. Fix something around the house. Rub her feet. Give her a back rub (that doesn’t end up as a breast massage). Try easing her burden a little bit. Do something you wouldn’t do except that it makes her feel good.

Try writing a poem or a song or doing something that demonstrates her place in your heart. Yeah, you stink at it, and it’s embarrassing, but she loves it. Perform it in front of an audience.

Hell, just show her affection during day-to-day life. Maybe you both have jobs and kids and things are crazy, but you give out the same sort of “we’re on our honeymoon” types of signals as you pass in the hallway, and see if that that diamond ring doesn’t turn brass.

The “sex for stuff” paradigm only works with particular sorts of relationships with particular sorts of women.

Most women won’t put up with it.

Boy, is that last line true. My favorite female commenters: knox, Darcy, Freeman, Ruth Anne, Amba–I can see them kicking a guy in the nuts who gave them a shiny bauble and expected sex in exchange for it. Women with any sense of self-esteem have a sharp sense of when you’re calling them a whore, no matter how masked.

Women are funny that way: They’ll give freely and generously something you couldn’t ever buy from them.

Bit Maelstrom: The “Spring Is Sprung” All Sex Issue

Over at Trooper York’s House of Ill Repute, he often posts pictures of saucy wenches in various stages of partial dress and posed provocatively, which in one particular instance prompted this from Freeman Hunt:

All the crawling or arching around in these “aren’t I sexy?” poses, knowing that the pictures are being taken for the explicit purpose of allowing strangers to better have mental fantasies about them…well, like I said, it cracks me up.

Well, yeah. Let’s be honest: Sex is a pretty absurd thing. Around this mechanical, repetitive act which lasts (according to some) 3-5 minutes on average, we build a huge mythology, several industries, and ruin our lives for!

Pogo commented

I have never seen a woman do that pose anywhere in my whole life. Just photos and music videos. Where does it come from?

And I was reminded of a bit Dennis Miller did about sex with his wife, where she (at least in her act) licks her own breast–and then gave him a look that said if you ever tell anyone…so, of course he puts it in his act.

But sex is sort of like dancing, in that you can’t be too worried about how you might appear to others. Your concern is your partner (or partners, if that’s the way you swing, baby!) and sometimes that means doing things that, out of context would look silly.

As Freeman is fond of pointing out, the women of (e.g.) Playboy are not fat, even if they’re on the larger side of normal compared to fashion models–because that’s what guys like. Same could be said for the various poses used. And while men are more visually oriented (the experts are fond of pointing out), women too have their own aesthetics as far as how men should be and act.

I’ve always thought of sex as a sort of closed circuit/feedback loop: While sex is a very simple thing, eroticism is entirely the agreement of the people involved–and that can be as elaborate as anything. Everyone has to feel comfortable expressing one way or another that notion of “Aren’t I sexy?” I mean, really: How good is sex going to be if the parties involved are diffident or concerned about looking cool?

I note, of course, that Freeman specifically mentions strangers, and Pogo said he’d never seen them–but not that he’d never done them. Heh.

Well, it’s an odd assortment of posts with the tag “blake says he knows that pose”, but I suppose it’s no worse than the chop-busting I get under the category of “blake says he knows her”. That one prompted me to write the massive list of famous people I’ve encountered–none of whom I know well, or who could pick me out of a lineup consisting of me and the corpse of Herve Villechaize–but I never posted it (and since then, I remembered a half-dozen more people I’d forgotten to put in there).

And, of course, it’s all a big distraction from the fact that Troop’s sex life is a far-ranging and storied one that would put Wilt Chamberlain (or at least John Holmes) to shame.

You Love The ’80s, Apparently!

Although pointy breasts remain a strong influence on my traffic–and how sad is that, given that I haven’t pointed to a breast in months?–there’s a lot of love for the Friday The 13th Part 2 review and my “Betsy Russell Gets A Cramp” post.

Apparently, a lot of people can’t figure out what the hell happened to Paul at the end of F13-2. Sorry, guys: Nothing. He just vanishes. They only wanted one survivor, I guess, and, I dunno, ran out of film or something.

As for the latter reference, well, I’d guess a lot of guys from the ‘80s know that movie and remember that scene. (Even if it would make Freeman Hunt laugh derisively.)

I actually do have a pointy breast picture worth posting, but I think I want to put it “below the fold” as they say, lest anyone be offended. (I can’t imagine who would be, it’s so silly, but I think it’s rude to pop up with a questionable image. Most people seem to read this blog at work.)

The Reset Button

Freeman Hunt talks about slavery and the stimulus here, prompting me to continue puzzling over the concept of “test-driven” government.

One of the great regrets Thomas Jefferson had–and consequently we’ve all had, whether we know it or not–was that he could never figure out how to make a reset button. He didn’t phrase it in those terms, obviously, but he was quite concerned about the tyranny of older generations upon the younger.

Rather prescient, if you ask me.

Seventy-years ago, the so-called “greatest” generation voted in an alleged pension plan which allocated the wealth of the young to the old. This Ponzi scheme continues to be sold on the notion of “we’ll steal from our children, then you can steal from yours”–a plan which probably looked a lot better while the nation was undergoing a baby boom.

Of course, a lot of things happened 70 years ago that essentially ended the American Experiment and put us all on the hook for things like the impending “stimulus” bill. People had been made desperate enough by the consequences of bad governance that they were willing to accept more and more governance.

With the schools safely in the government’s hands, a fondness–a romanticization, even–of state-driven solutions necessarily grew and flourished.

All of them require enslavement of future generations.

Yes, that sounds more dramatic than it actually is. The truth is a banal slouch toward socialism, which itself is a half-hearted communism. Somewhere along the path, war will intervene–which Freeman posits will be against one of our creditors, but I wouldn’t rule out revolution. After all, the old and infirm members of our society are essentially robbing the young and healthy. Talk about a slam dunk!

It doesn’t have to happen this way, of course, and it may not in our lifetimes or even in our children’s. We could elect, theoretically, a super-Reagan type: Someone who was absolutely dedicated to tearing down the various enslavements; someone who was more dedicated to that proposal than having a second term; someone who wasn’t afraid of being assassinated.

It seems like a long-shot.

We could get a series of Reagan-lites, though. One might have thought that the success of welfare reform–which Democrats are quick to attribute to Clinton, but quicker to try to undo–would have taught the ruling class something, but there seems to be no point–no fire in the belly–for candidates who would make themselves and their peers less powerful.

So, this also seems like a longshot. Especially when the only party that considers it even a valid approach only considers it valid when they’re out of power.

A lot of people fault Bush for not vetoing more when the Reps were in power, but in fact, the Rep Congress should’ve been busy tearing things down and stopping the President. That’s really why they were elected. That whole Contract With America thing–the very line of thinking that gave the Reps their first majority in my lifetime–if they’d stuck to it, they’d still be in charge, and we wouldn’t be looking at the current crisis in the same way.

W was barely elected in the first place, and mostly as the anti-Gore. It was Congress that had the mandate and Congress that screwed it up.

And all for the want of a reset button. If only we could establish that laws passed only applied to those who passed them! “Every generation needs a revolution,” Jefferson said. What would be nice is to figure out how to completely clean house and start from scratch, maybe every ten years. Erase all Federal law. Maybe relocate the capital in a random spot.

It wouldn’t work, of course. Plenty of laws have timeouts and they’re just re-upped without a single debate. Maybe if our representatives were chosen at random?

It’s the same problem I have with the whole test-driven concept: in code, we have very simple tests and objective answers about what right answers to particular inputs are to be. In politics, I see people looking at “3 + 4 = 6” and yelling that six is the right answer, and that seven is an oppressive neocon Jewish-controlled conspiracy.

I don’t know. I’ve never been able to crack this nut, even with the benefit of 200 years of hindsight Jefferson didn’t have. Though sometimes I wonder if the American Confederacy didn’t have the right idea.

Updates

I was off doing diabetic things today. The doctor we’re working with seems pretty optimistic that we can improve The Boy’s situation, which is good because he’s currently suffering a head cold and he needed some good news.

Since we were near his favorite restaurant, we went out to eat and then on the way home caught the only showing of Waltzing With Bashir which I’ll put up a review of shortly. (I liked it, but I thought it was kind of feckless, in that way modern Western cultures seem to be these days.)

I’m up particularly late as the we also got the dog fixed, and he’s not doing too well. They had to dig around for an hour (!) to locate an undescended testicle. (I hate “fixing” animals in general, but it is the kind thing to do if you’re not going to let them reproduce.)

Freeman Hunt (whose tag I seem to have misspelled) put up a great bit on the “stimulus” bill that I wanted to comment on, and she also submitted my essay on homeschooling and subversion to the homeschooling carnival, which pointed to it. I try not to overdo on that stuff, but perhaps I’ve been too restrained, so more on that front as well.

Night all!