Category Archives: Trypod

Indivisible Wednesday. A Few Choice Words on Conservatism

Wednesday’s Indivisible is a stark contrast to the other days of the week, in more ways than one. The first Wednesday show of the 100 day run started with the host saying he thought we were pretty divided after all that, and then proceeded to trash the notion of indivisible itself each and every Wednesday since then. Perhaps it is because Wednesday’s Indivisible show is run by and interviews conservatives and Republicans.

This week they didn’t even bother to talk about the subject of the week, healthcare, for half the show. Rather than let the Honorable Senator from Wisconsin, Ron Johnson, continue to mouth half-truths and outright falsehoods for the whole program, the host decided to bring on a conservative apologist and attempt to explain away the actions of the authoritarians in their midst.

A few words for the Senator first. Medicare is for the disabled, the old and poor women with children at home. It isn’t for people who could work and get insurance. There hasn’t been a welfare program to speak of in this country since Bill Clinton signed it all away in the 90’s. So your target of choice, welfare queens, don’t exist anymore. Nice try Senator. You should really try harder.

But that really wasn’t the annoying part. The annoying part of the show started about halfway through when the guest changed to Conor Friedersdorf who attempted to explain away the Nazi elephant in the room. The authoritarian problem in the electorate.

Mr. Friedersdorf first suggests that conservatives were resistant to change. That excuse is good as far as it goes, but it really doesn’t cover the half of it. I’ll get to that in a minute. He goes on to add that the second thing that conservatives don’t like is government interference. Luckily I had swallowed the mouthful of tea I had just drank because it would have been all over the wall at that point.

They don’t like government interference? Since when? They want government to be able to put pipelines anywhere they want. They want government to keep women from getting medical care that conservatives might not approve of. They want government to keep people off of drugs, etc, etc, ad nauseam. There are very few things conservatives don’t want government involved in and most of them fall into the area known as my business. Sadly, my business as it applies to conservatives is just as varied as the business of the US is; and so consequently isn’t enforceable as law in any real sense. There are some fine upstanding conservative drug dealers and pimps who would disagree with most of your social conservative stances on the subject of easy sex and profligate drugs.

Conservatives love change as long as the change is in the direction they want. They want to change healthcare back to what it was before there was healthcare. Back to when there were no cures or treatments for disease, just charlatans on soapboxes preaching the value of their snake oil. They want to change science back to religion, change the world back to christian and change the president back into a king. At least they appear to have succeeded on that last point. Conservatives are adverse to change only so far as the change that took our ape ancestors out of the trees and into caves.

Conservatives are not fans of small government. Conservatives are fans of low taxes on themselves, and they currently enjoy some of the lowest taxes on the face of the planet. Taxes will be even lower for the wealthy, lower than they’ve been since before the Great Depression, very soon now. Conservatives love authoritarians, they’ve been installing them for other democracies for several generations now. They’ve got a dictator in mind for us at the moment, too.

twitter.com

There is something they could do to convince me and the rest of the liberals otherwise. Convince us you aren’t the racists, fascist and authoritarians we think you are. It goes something like this; we will believe the leadership of the Republican party and conservatives in general are not fascists and racists on the day they punish Steve King for being a racist and a fascist and not one minute before that.

What King said was RACISM with a pedigree directly traceable to The Fourteen Words (Also “14” or “The Fourteen”) of White Supremacism and White Nationalism, to wit: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” The Fourteen words are directly traceable to 88 words taken from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, “What we must fight for is to safeguard the existence and reproduction of our race and our people, the sustenance of our children and the purity of our blood, the freedom and independence of the fatherland, so that our people may mature for the fulfillment of the mission allotted it by the creator of the universe. Every thought and every idea, every doctrine and all knowledge, must serve this purpose. And everything must be examined from this point of view and used or rejected according to its utility.” Next time you see a Neo-Nazi, look for the tattoos, 14/88, THAT’s what those symbols mean. 14 words. 88 words. Right there. 

Stonekettle Station on Facebook

It’s real simple. Hang Steve King out to dry for his blatant embrace of eugenics and racism, his wholly transparent use of white power talking points, and I at least will believe that you are earnest in your desire to bridge the gap. Span the distance. Meet us halfway, at least. Until then I’ll be waiting here for the next shoe to drop. What will His Electoral Highness do next? Not even I am willing to guess that, and I’ve gone out on a limb for some pretty silly notions in the past.

Killing in Cold Blood

The state of Arkansas plans to put to death eight inmates over a span of 10 days next month, a pace of executions unequaled in recent American history and brought about by a looming expiration date for a drug used by the state for lethal injections. 

New York Times, Arkansas Rushes to Execute 8 Men in the Space of 10 Days

This strikes me as a really stupid reason to schedule a massive number of executions. Perhaps the stupidest reason I’ve ever run across since realizing that the death penalty is a holdover from the barbarity of our past that we should really leave in the past. The numbers of businesses who don’t want to sell you drugs to kill your inmates with should be your first and last clue that the thing you want to do isn’t something you should be doing.

I want it over and done. I do. I’m tired, boss. Tired of bein’ on the road, lonely as a sparrow in the rain. Tired of not ever having me a buddy to be with, or tell me where we’s coming from or going to, or why. Mostly I’m tired of people being ugly to each other. I’m tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world everyday. There’s too much of it. It’s like pieces of glass in my head all the time. Can you understand? – Stephen King, Frank Darabont The Green Mile

I believed in the death penalty when I was a child. I took the pro death penalty side in our high school debate team. We patted ourselves on the back for discovering the notion that beyond a shadow of a doubt meant the convicted were guilty. As a child, everything I knew was certain knowledge. What a comfort it was then, absolute certainty of truth.

When I was a child, I spake as a child,
I understood as a child, I thought as a child:
but when I became a man, I put away
childish things. For now we see through a
glass, darkly; but then face to face: now
I know in part; but then shall I know even
as also I am known. – 
1 Corinthians 13:11

I know so little now, it is a wonder that I find the certainty to set words to paper. I do know this; The Innocence Project has tracked the number of exonerations in the United States since DNA evidence was allowed. As of this writing, 349 people have been exonerated. They couldn’t have committed the crime they were convicted of, because evidence from the crime does not match their DNA. Twenty of those 349 people were serving time on death row. Thirty-seven of the 349 plead guilty even though they could not have committed the crime.

When I realized that people were fallible, that government was frequently in error, that majority opinion had no more connection to reality than the flipping of a coin, I backed away from believing that we were ever going to be smart enough to know who really needs killing. I have a challenge for those who hold fast to the belief that the death penalty is right and good. Listen to this podcast, a portion of the radio documentary Witness to an Execution which aired in 2000, and then imagine yourself in their shoes, if you can.

For my part, I recognize hell when I hear it described. I can hear eternal torment in every voice that speaks, especially the ones that say how much they believe in the death penalty still. I would not willingly stand in any of their shoes even for one execution.

The government should not be allowed to do anything that individuals within the society are not allowed to do. In the heat of the moment, in the crisis of real time, certain actions are valid that wouldn’t be valid in other cases. When no other option presents itself, it is permissible to kill. Cops and prison guards should be armed and forgiven for actions taken in legitimate self defense of themselves and society, just like any other member of society would be forgiven in their place.

An unarmed prisoner strapped to a gurney or a chair is not a threat. Killing that person is killing in cold blood. It can only be counted as murder, making us no better than the murderer that we have exacted justice upon. Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is preferable to making myself a party to murder, even if the man that we are killing “needed it”.


(based in part on this post

DST? Why?

“I don’t really care how time is reckoned so long as there is some agreement about it, but I object to being told that I am saving daylight when my reason tells me that I am doing nothing of the kind. I even object to the implication that I am wasting something valuable if I stay in bed after the sun has risen. As an admirer of moonlight I resent the bossy insistence of those who want to reduce my time for enjoying it. At the back of the Daylight Saving scheme I detect the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier, to make them healthy, wealthy and wise in spite of themselves.” – Robertson Davies, The Diary of Samuel Marchbanks

Every time I have to change my clocks (whether it’s to fall back or spring forward) the blood pressure goes up a few points just contemplating Daylight Saving Time.

I’ve tried just ignoring it in the past, and that didn’t work out too well. Missed appointments, extremely early arrivals, whatever. Not really a solution. I’ve tried going to bed earlier in advance of the change, setting the clocks ahead early, also not very effective. You name it, I’ll bet you I’ve tried it. No matter what, this time change thing always turns into a nightmare.

Thanks Kaiser Wilhelm! Well, truthfully it was our buddies in New Zealand who first suggested it,

Modern DST was first proposed by the New Zealand entomologist George Hudson, whose shift work job gave him leisure time to collect insects and led him to value after-hours daylight. In 1895 he presented a paper to the Wellington Philosophical Society proposing a two-hour daylight-saving shift, and after considerable interest was expressed in Christchurch, he followed up in an 1898 paper.

They were apparently smart enough to realize that this really didn’t change anything about when the sun comes up. Leave it to the ever efficient Germans to think that they can control the sun’s motion in the skies through legislation. They were the first ones to pass DST into law, so that much of the Last Week Tonight segment is true. The Germans were hoping to conserve coal for the war effort during World War One, but current studies show that there is no energy benefit for instituting DST,

The result of the study showed that electricity use went up in the counties adopting daylight saving time in 2006, costing $8.6 million more in household electricity bills. The conclusion reached by Kotchen and Grant was that while the lighting costs were reduced in the afternoons by daylight saving, the greater heating costs in the mornings, and more use of air-conditioners on hot afternoons more than offset these savings. Kotchen said the results were more “clear and unambiguous” than results in any other paper he had presented. 
Kotchen and Grant’s work reinforces the findings of an Australian study in 2007 by economists Ryan Kellogg and Hendrik Wolff, who studied the extension of daylight saving time for two months in New South Wales and Victoria for the 2000 Summer Olympics. They also found an increase in energy use. 

From: Study: Daylight saving time a waste of energy

I just can’t wrap my head around how this ‘saves’ anything, and why this is a benefit.

I can clearly see why DST is cherished and loved by authoritarians everywhere. I’m sure the #MAGA are foursquare in favor of it. I can’t think of a better way to demonstrate the power and authority of government, that even the sun can be commanded by His Electoral Highness. Now that is a showcase of control on a grand scale (in China they only have Beijing time. Talk about authority) Trump can dictate what time the sun comes up and the sun will listen. Maybe he should tackle that Pi thing, try dictating that it will be 3.2 or something. I’m sure that will work just as well.

I can hear you laughing, dear reader. I’ve had this argument several times with many different people. Inevitably the person who thinks DST is a good idea will exclaim “Do you really want the sun to come up at 5:30 in the morning in the summer?” It still does come up at 5:30 in the morning, we just call it 6:30.

 I’m coming to the conclusion that there should just be UTC and local time. Local time can then be set according to the city authority or whatever the farmer in the field wants it to be. UTC is really the only relevant time anyway. The only time relevant aside from where the sun is in the sky on a given day. Local sunrise or sunset is the only metric that matters in the end. Timezones themselves have been rendered pointless by modern mechanisms. Not even trains rely on timezones anymore.

Imagine just for a few minutes, what it would be like for your GPS to calculate time variance based on degrees of longitude rather than twenty-four one hour timezones. In the same way your phone can change times for daylight savings, it can change time to keep up with your actual position on the globe. The device that you already rely on to tell you what time it is could just do the time calculation for your location and actually tell you what the local time is. The satellites that control GPS already perform these calculations just to be able to talk to each other and establish UTC for themselves.

Cities could assert their own authority and set time for the regions they control. That measure of standardization for a specific local area is understandable, but why would a farmer care what time it is in the city unless he is going there? Why does someone in Austin need to care what the time is in Denver, Washington D.C. or Los Angeles? If you need to know, ask your phone like you do for every other thing you need during the day already.

Why is this so hard to figure out?

(This topic is a frequent flyer around here because WE’RE STILL FUCKING DOING THIS STUPID SHIT. Posted here and here previously)

#trypod – Dating Advice and Tim Harford

If anyone were to ask me for dating advice…

No one ever does, one of the benefits of repeating the story of how I met The Wife almost 30 years ago. I have to say, this is an unexpected side benefit from knife skills and stories of knife skills, not being bothered with requests from single people asking “how can I be as happy as you?” I mean, knife skills have their own benefits to you and your partner, such as the person who has your six in a bar fight having the ability to gut anyone who comes at you from behind. That is a very useful skill, but I never thought the story itself had a benefit until I started writing this post. I’ll have to remember that.

…anyway. Dating advice. I hereby vow to never give any. If I’m ever tempted to I will simply tell people to listen to this one episode of Planet Money,


Then I will tell them to subscribe to Why oh Why and listen to Episodes #8 How Will I know  and #12 Oblique Strategies specifically to get to the end of the story started in the podcast linked above. Why would I do that? Because a single girl like the host of Why oh Why is going to know more about dating than any guy who is breathing, and I’d be a bigger idiot than Tim Harford to offer any suggestions of my own.

Not that I disagree with Tim Harford. I’m rather fond of him. I’m currently listening to his 50 Things that Made the Modern Economy podcast, and I’m loving it. I’m noticing a pattern with Tim Harford, and that pattern is his love of the Oblique Strategies approach to answering really hard questions. Hard questions that don’t have right and wrong answers, like most things in life.

I mean he uses Brian Eno’s deck of cards in another (enjoyable) episode of Planet Money,


He mentions Oblique Strategies again in this TED talk,

Personally, I don’t think he did the host of Why Oh Why any favors by pulling out Oblique Strategies as a way to answer her questions about dating. Reverse (the card he drew) is a particularly cryptic concept to apply to the notion of mate selection and dating. You can’t really reverse. Asking herself why she started the dating and the podcast about dating (her interpretation of the meaning of reverse) leads her essentially to the question of discovering who she is before trying to find a mate. Life is to short to worry about finding out who you are before getting on with it. Part of finding out who your are is taking the journey through life. Picking a mate or even a series of mates if need be is also part of that process.

What follows is as close as I will ever get to giving advice on this subject. When you are doing things you like, you tend to find people you like. I think that is why so many people suggest “get a hobby” as a way to meet people. I think that is also the wrong advice. Get on with living your life, and then notice who you are living it next to. Across from. In competition with. Have conversations with those people. You might discover your very own knife-wielding love of your life. Or not, as the case may be.

Why #trypod? Clearly you didn’t listen to the episodes. NPR and other podcasters are running a promotion this month trying to get people to promote podcasts using the hashtag trypod. I’ve promoted four podcasts in this blog post, not that I’m counting or anything. I routinely post what I’m listening to (if it is good) to my Google plus profile. What I look back on and really like gets spread around to other social platforms. So nice try NPR. I’ll play along. Been suggesting things for people to listen to for years now.

Daniel Dennett on Consciousness

One of my favorite philosophers was on The Economist Asks,


The Economist asks: What is consciousness?

Every word is a little software agent that replicates and competes for space in people’s minds and on the page and everywhere else. It’s the differential reproduction of things like words, and other memes that can’t be pronounced, that’s what creates human culture. – Daniel Dennett

His new book is From Bacteria to Bach and Back.  I love Daniel Dennett. The human groups that could communicate essential information; danger/safe attack/hide food/poison. Those groups would have a higher probability of survival than the ones who could not. What an insightful application of knowledge at work in that observation. All of it because of him and his work. I (and science) will be forever in his debt.

Facebook status update backdated to the blog. 

Killing in cold blood

Reading Knappster today (“Surf Naked for Jesus” why did you change that?) Ran across his entry on the 1000th death penalty victim. I don’t shed tears for murderers, whether they work for themselves or the state, but I do have one point I’d like to make.

The quote is:

“For some reason, apart from my general opposition to capital punishment (which pretty much comes down to “I can’t trust politicians to deliver mail on time; why the hell would I trust them to decide who needs killin’?”), I didn’t find “Tookie’s” case exceptionally compelling. Maybe if I’d studied the case more closely I would have, but I let it go by because … well, pretty much because a lot of people more prominent, more educated in the facts of the case and more interested had already taken it up. So. Anyway. Another state-sanctioned killing under the bridge.”

(emphasis added)

I can define my opposition to the death penalty quite easily. The government should not be allowed to do anything that individuals within the society are not allowed to do. Killing in self defense is allowed, and cops and prison guards should be armed (and forgiven) for actions taken in ‘self defense’ of themselves and ‘society’.

But, I have a hard time believing that an unarmed prisoner strapped to a gurney (or a chair, depending on your states murder predilection) presents any kind of a threat. And the killing of that person can only be counted as murder, making us no better than the murderer that we have exacted justice upon.

Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is preferable, in my opinion, than making myself party to murder; even if the man that we are killing “needed it”.


Mea culpa review 2017. I know I’m not a libertarian anymore because I feel no need to utter the word state when I mean government. When you need special words to describe the thing you hate, so that people like you can understand what you mean, you have started down the road to mass hallucination. However, the subject of killing in cold blood remains largely the same for me as it was back in the 90’s when I convinced myself I was a libertarian.

I believed in the death penalty as a child, I took the pro-death penalty side in our high school debate team. We patted ourselves on the back for discovering the pat notion that beyond a shadow of a doubt meant the convicted were guilty. As a child I knew everything and it was certain. What a comfort it was then, absolute certainty of truth. That kind of thinking went out the window for me with my health. I know so little now, it is a wonder that I find the certainty to set words to paper.

When I realized that people were fallible, that government was frequently in error, that majority opinion had no more connection to reality than the flipping of a coin, I backed away from believing that we were ever going to be smart enough to know who really needs killing. I have a challenge for those who hold fast to the belief that the death penalty is right and good. Listen to this podcast about people who are present at hundreds of executions, and then imagine yourself in their shoes, if you can.

For me, I recognize hell when I hear it described. I can hear eternal torment in every voice that speaks, especially the ones that say how much they believe in the death penalty still. I would not willingly stand in any of their shoes even for one execution.