Tuesday, November 30, 2004

British vs. American Sensibility

Hi. Back from the ether void. Just as something off the cuff, it had always struck me as inappropriate to impeach Bill Clinton over his Paula Jones testimony. I do think it was perjury but of such an immaterial nature that no prosecutor in his right mind would prosecute. It's like investigating a murder and prosecuting someone for lying about their weight. We all fudge sometimes. I'm really a 170 it's just that these 190 lbs is just "summer weight" and I'll take it off after the holidays... yeah right. I haven't weighed 170 lbs since I was 19 but sometimes keeping the fiction is part of the way we rationalize our decisions. Even when I got into working out, I just added tone and muscle ... didn't lose weight.

However to the point, here is an example of how something rather risque should be handled.

Blunkett apologises over lover's rail ticket

Tom Happold and Mark Oliver
Tuesday November 30, 2004

David Blunkett tonight admitted he had been wrong to give a first class rail ticket intended for MPs' spouses to his former mistress Kimberly Quinn and said he would repay the £180 cost.
A spokesman for the home secretary said that Mr Blunkett was sorry for the "genuine mistake" of giving a return train ticket from London to Doncaster to Mrs Quinn, with whom he had a three-year affair, which ended this summer.

The move came shortly after an inquiry into the possible misuse of his MPs rail warrant was announced by parliament's standards watchdog following a complaint from a member of the public. That inquiry by Sir Philip Mawer, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, will still go ahead despite Mr Blunkett's apology and offer of repayment.

The home secretary had previously maintained the ticket was justified because he was, at the time, in a relationship with Mrs Quinn, the publisher of the Spectator, who is now reconciled with her husband, Vogue publisher Stephen Quinn.

A Home Office spokesman said tonight: "David has always said that if he had breached parliamentary rules over issuing a return ticket for spouses to Kimberley Fortier he would be willing to reimburse the House. Having examined the detailed rules today he realises he has made a genuine mistake and will be repaying the cost of the ticket to the parliamentary authorities and apologise for his mistake."

Mr Blunkett is also the subject of an independent inquiry announced yesterday into claims he used his ministerial position to speed up a visa application for Mrs Quinn's Filipina nanny. This is a much more serious allegation.

A former Treasury economic adviser, Sir Alan Budd, has been appointed to investigate the claim. Some MPs have called for the Budd inquiry to be wider but it will just examine the issue of the visa. Mr Blunkett has insisted he is not guilty of any wrongdoing.

Mrs Quinn, who is two months pregnant, was in hospital today suffering from medical complications. Her husband said the problems were not serious but he did not know when she would be discharged.

See how things should be handled? An embaressment, sure. A minor investigation and probably a wrist slap. If everyone who expedited a visa for personal reasons were in jail however half the legislature would have to be jailed however. The woman was probably having the affair to make her husband jealous. She got to sleep with someone famous. Her husband got jealous and now he has her back. She has a baby on the way. Possibly even her husband's baby. Mr. Blunkett got what all men want, and all men want one thing in particular. No commitment on his part, a satisfying affair ended without clinginess in the breakup. True love? No it is not true love. But get your heart ripped out by true love and you'll find that maybe enjoyable affairs with definite closure are a bonus.

If not everyone happy, then at least no one impeached. A minor embaressment yes, but not a hijacking of the Constitutional powers of our government that while impeaching over a lie over an affair are ominiously quiet not six years later when the lies over the justification of a war rest unquietly along with the questions arising from not one but two suspect national elections. No we just won't all talk about that and will studiously ignore it despite the months and months of public hand-wringing and hyperbolic moralizing over someone lying about their sex lives. We all lie about our sex lives my friends when put on the spot, including me. I am no exception there.

If only we could say that the depth of our public corruption were politician's affairs, government travel vouchers, and resident visa favortism. That almost sounds quaintly innocent that a coverup could be over a marital indiscretion. Ah such days of innocence are not to be had here in America. Here we have no more coverups, for our crimes are committed in the eye of the public and we all quietly avert our gazes lest we offend social propriety by commenting on the corpse stenching up the sitting room.

UPDATE: As it turns out, Mr. Blunkett has resigned from government. Was I wrong about him getting a slap on the wrist? No. The reason why is two fold. First the investigations into him today did find him guilty only of a minor impropriety - of letting his mistress and lover use a railpass normally only useable by spouses. He has repaid the cost of the rail pass and apologized. Amusingly the investigation has turned up, not surprisingly, evidence of other ministers of Parliment also using passes inappropriately, so he has plenty of company. Also the more serious investigation, into whether not not he expedited a visa has found that while they can connect it to his office they cannot connect it to him personally. So he can always blame it on an overzealous aide. More importantly the report found no evidence of a coverup, so most of his supporters are relieved. He was guilty of two minor and I may say rather common indiscretions only and cooperated fully.

Secondly a new poll finds that 67% of the British public favors him returning to government after the next general election in 2005. They are already talking about it in media and government circles, about Blunkett's return as if it were a done deal. So the scoop is that Blunkett get's a leave of absence from work to pursue his child custody case, he has actually become more popular with the public, he got to look noble and resign on behalf of demanding to see his son and win good publicity for himself, and that Tony Blair in need of such a more popular minister after another year of Iraq dragging on is almost sure to bring him back.

So my original prediction of a mere wrist slap and pro forma punishment seems in fact to be unfolding as we speak. Blunkett has done himself a world of good by this turn of affairs. If you had asked me if there were any chance of him becoming prime minister before this I would have told you never. But his numbers have improved so much that it has to be considered that he is in the running now at least on the outside, with Brown as the inside track candidate as always. Perhaps Blair, Brown, then Blunkett?

And again there was no cover-up and the drama political was there but in the end, things remain much as they were. Hardly a Constitutional crisis one might add for a man to have a lover.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Yearly Turkey Pilgrimage,

As of tomorrow I'm off and I promised my relatives I would stay offline this year during the holidays so blogging won't resume until my return. I guess they actually like talking to me when I'm around eh? Go figure. Then again I am a cold fish somewhat naturally.

Good luck to you all and safe travels.

oldman

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Hunting???

I have to say this is the worst hunting dispute that I've heard of!!!

Five dead in hunting dispute
Alleged gunman arrested after fight over tree stand

The Associated Press
Updated: 8:28 p.m. ET Nov. 21, 2004
HAYWARD, Wis. - A dispute among hunters over a tree stand in northwestern Wisconsin erupted into a shooting that left five people dead and three injured Sunday, a television station reported.

The alleged gunman, a man from the Twin Cities area, was arrested Sunday afternoon, Sawyer County Chief Deputy Tim Zeigle told KSTP-TV of St. Paul, Minn.

The shootings happened near Birchwood about noon. The station quoted authorities as saying the shooting began after a hunting party saw a hunter they didn’t know occupying their tree stand.

That led to a confrontation. One victim used a walkie-talkie to call for help, but when other hunting partners came to the scene they also were shot, the station reported.

One of those wounded was in critical condition in a Rice Lake hospital, and one was in fair condition, KSTP reported. The condition of the third victim, who was taken to a Marshfield hospital, was not immediately available.

I don't hunt myself but grew up in a hunting community. Most of the hunters I knew were very soft-spoken responsible and reliable men. Sure they liked to have fun now and then, but this sort of stuff would be unthinkable. However I'm in a time-warp apparently. First I'm shocked by the openness of Christian Evangelical disregard for the separation of church and state in the military, and now I'm going to find out that the hunters are no longer nice guys that I used to go to school with and work with either?

Fortunately I am pretty cynical so I'll survive it. However I do wonder if I have been living in very representative communities. I guess not. Perhaps that's why the Republican party going bad while I wasn't entirely unaware I was not prepared before 1999 to consider the scope and depth of the depravity and illegal ambition. Some bad apples sure, but not the entire party hijacked. I guess Delong is still in that time-warp because he keeps on asking about the adult Republicans.

All the adult Republicans have i) washed their hands of this ii) are now libertarians iii) are now conservative Democrats (like me, I finally registered this year) or iv) waiting for a chance to try to pick up the pieces.

But back to this guy. Whoever he was, he was totally out of control. He just started blasting people. Over a tree stand. I've known hunters for a long time and if you find someone's stand there is a sense that you can use it but that you had better get off quick if they show up. It's much more well regarded to build your own tree stand. A whole rite of passage and manly sort of thing.

This guy though he just started mowing down people with a high-powered game animal rifle. Not cool.

Why do I care about Amtrak? Simple, I don't.

I don't in fact care about Amtrak.

What I do care about is that there is going to be a energy-limitation population density implosion occurring. If handled correctly this can be utilized to reconsolidate the capital investment basis and support the asset values of the means of production within this country. Using mass transit we could create a new travel and distribution system that could first survive the energy-crunch and then expand based on the decentralized network of alternative-energy production.

As a commentator noted, there is considerable profit and potential in consolidating communication and utility services as well because the current distribution grid whether from water or electricity is both inefficient and wasteful.

Frankly I don't care if Amtrak goes under - so long as we could get an investment pool together to buy out its assets and implement the new model. Frankly with the pressure on regional, local, and national budgets about to happen in the next few years once this borrowin binge becomes unhinged road construction will have to switch to point-to-point use models supplementing the ground-rail distribution system. Regional plane flights and internationals apparently will still be profitable but the national carrier hub-spoke system is going down.

Urban planning for the 21st century will have to either face the reality of radically changing the precepts of end-user design philosophy in transportation routing architecture and civil engineering or we will face unacceptably large numbers of homeless, hungry, jobless individuals in crime-ridden and economically devastated urban zones.

Yet all shall go to waste without leverage, and so I hope I have the courage to grab the live wire when it comes my way.

Iranian Invasion Alert: Blair told to choose

The Guardian (UK) is reporting a leak from the Pentagon indicating that they've switched from war-gaming from simulations where they strike Iranian nuclear sites to simulating strikes on political targets in support of a regime change in Iran.

Pentagon hawks have begun discussing military action against Iran to neutralise its nuclear weapons threat, including possible strikes on leadership, political and security targets.

With a deadline of tomorrow for Iran to begin an agreed freeze on enriching uranium, which can be used to produce nuclear weapons, sources have disclosed that the latest Pentagon gaming model for 'neutralising' Iran's nuclear threat involves strikes in support of regime change.

Although the United States has made clear that it would seek sanctions against Iran through the United Nations should it not meet its obligations, rather than undertake military action, the new modelling at the Pentagon, with its shift in emphasis from suspected nuclear to political target lists, is causing deep anxiety among officials in the UK, France and Germany.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is due to meet on Thursday to decide whether to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for being in breach of non-proliferation measures.

Sources close to the Bush administration have warned that Tony Blair will have to choose between the EU's pursuit of the diplomatic track and a more hardline approach from the White House. [emphasis added]

The logic behind the scenes seems to be that they think they can get domestic authorization for airstrikes on Iran in the same punitive vein as airstrikes against Saddam, and then when Iran responds by shafting the US forces in Iraq, this provides justificattion for full escalation to ground mobilization.

Crazy, insane, completely different from the air strikes on Iraq, no similar authorization from the international community, etc. yes I know all that.

Nonetheless from a political domestic PoV it may work. Remember all the times over the last decade and a half where we bombed Iraq, or cruise-missiled Afghanistan and Sudan? Once you start thinking of it like that, you realize this is a viable strategy on the table.

Make a tactical set of air-strikes unilaterlly on Iran that you know will fail based on bad-faith previous precedents, do absolutely nothing to prevent the absolutely predictable retaliation against troops in Iraq, then use the retaliation to incite the public for a ground war against Iran.

The scary thing is that it will work.

More on Mass Transit to come.

I like the ideas I'm hearing. Let me mock up some transit authority commuter track layouts. Imagine a central city for example with outlying zones. The big city is the hub and the branching depots are the outlying supported residential zones. Heavy duty highspeed freightcars come into the city and can be disbursed to the outlying minor hubs for pickup by truck or picked up directly at the main hub. The outlying zones have high-speed commuter cars that bring them into the commuter network in the big city. Then imagine curvilinear overlapping off-center concentric circles of intracity travel or a curvilinear french curve intersection design for the intra-urban travel.

The normal model is either a square grid (inefficient)or a concentric centered set of circles with radiating spokes - "spiderweb" - design. Imagine instead two sets of concentric circles with the central circles intersecting at city center. An alternative as I said would be the french curve style curvilinear design. The idea is stop trying to make a people fit a geometry and instead find a geometry that will fit into the travel shortest-distances in people-space. Make the intersections fit the major activity centers and let the lines curve between them.

As der Fool indicated, this is an architectural concept already employed only since it's a city we just can't through up grass and then pave where the students make their own routes of shortest transit. Instead we have to look at city congestion patterns and identify centers of activity and routes that serves flows and then schedule commuter cars for the temporal flux of those flows. Then you have to design an equivalent L-train or M-train (magnetic car) type system to move people. There should be express cars for strict A to Z major centers of activity transit, and cars designed for pick up and drop off at various points probably one type in the first half of the transit (A to K) and one for the second half (L to Z) or even three types so you divide it into thirds.

And for God's sake if you're expanding or doing construction you need to do something similar but not exactly the same for roads. People do not live on a grid. We need to stop trying to impose a grid on people. That's half our problem right there. Let the people drive where they want to drive and build the roads to get them there.

Dept. of Proposals: A new kind of News,

Jay Rosen has a very important essay up on BOP.

My response was to write a comment proposing a new hybrid type of entertainment/media channel model. Right now we need to change the ground rules, reframe what's going on. That means breaking previous precedents.

I didn't think that we could fight back with the media wars with the capital investment needed. The only hope at this point would be to I think start a combination media and entertainment channel on cable if you were truly serious about this.

(A cable channel because cable is the future and a media and entertainment channel because the capital startup will be lower. Still horrendously expensive but at least conceivable. And it has to be like actually entertaining, not like this liberal radio stuff. Liberals have proven constitutionally that they are incapable of really doing substance and entertaining well at once. Okay. We just need to accept that. However what liberals are good at is entertaining or news in stand alone formats. There they outperform conservatives. So let conservatives mix entertainment and news, that's their strong point. Instead make snappy engaging entertainment and news alternate. And give premium rates for entertaining and engaging commercials, especially if they agree to be run in blocs.)

Media is headed toward entertainment, so the only way we can fight that is to put the firewalls back up while delivering content segregated entertainment and news. We also need to reframe this fight. We can't fight it out and win with it being the liberal news against the conservative news.

Now the truth is that what used to be conservative is now liberal. Have you heard Walter Cronkite recently? He's shrill. Not approaching shrill, just plain shrill about this Administration. But that's the concept we need, a Water Kronkite style news program that is concise, witty (think John Stewart only doing real news), and above all absolutely factually trustworthy. By adding the Sports night/Oberrman and Stewart style (Everyone ... say no to Dennis Miller) of thinking and humorous newcasters doing real news and combining it with a straightforward entertainment component based on some shows that appeal to heartland and some shows that appeal to coast aesthetic sensibilities you could really open up a wedge and give FOX_news a run for it.

Let's face it, everyone is still running on the News formula pionned by Ted - all news, all the time. This formula over time however is kind of dull however. That's why entertainment is creeping into news, because we watch TV for entertainment and so if we must have news all the time it must be entertaining.

Let's break that formula. Normal entertainment throughout the day. Then scheduled news breaks for about 15 minutes or half an hour with alternating fast paced summaries and detailed subject spots. Then let them go back to their normal entertainment programming, then break in again.

Also you'd need to set up at least degree different ad scheduling times, and tell the shows to cut their shows to ad schedule A,B,or C to create a kind of variety in advertising timing. And for God's sake, give price breaks to people who come up with witty and entertaining ads that keep people from turning the channel, and better price breaks for people willing to group them.

Of course you'd need to come up with programming, but that is certainly possible. The point is that you need to break out of this dillemma on TV of trying to outright Fox or relying on the decaying network news brands. And of course you'll want to do it all - sports news, entertainment news, serious news, talkshow serious gues news, etc. What you want to cut out is talking head pundit news and Jerry Springer news. If you want to put an expert on, interview them. Don't let them get up and go at each other like cats and dogs. No "discussion" forums. These almost always go bad, even the liberal ones. A talkshow host interviewing concurrently two experts is fine, as long as they don't get to talk to each other. And put some real interviewers on with teeth for God's sake. Put Russert and Matthews to shame.

It'll work and if you can find the programming, which I definitely think can be done, then you'll not only get your message out but make money over hand and fist.

And have huge popular audiences. Program development I don't want to knock it, but I could produce better programming than like 95% of the stuff out there on a bad day half conscious and drunk. The question really is quantity. For that you need to develop a stable of producers, shows, writers, and developers rewarded for innovation, performance, and quality. You'd think that would be expensive but if you trade security plus the opportunity to hit it big if a show does, creative freedom, and keep a sharp eye out on trying out fresh talent you'd be surprised at what a good deal you could get. If you get to people early, you can get good people for cheap when they're unknown and they'll be grateful for steady work. Later if they hit it big you'll have to renogegotiate or lose them and you should go into that with your eyes open, but it's a sustainable model.

Personal Contemplation: The Break of Day

For Ellen, as encouragement to be calm and strong, so we may pass through come what may and see again a new dawning after the break of day.

When night does come and over all will fall,
it is right to seek bright lights beckoning
and in the sounds of music grand find some
comfort in our friends and their warm support.

So close not your eyes with tears nor fill your
ears with shrill cries of fear and doom, but
clear your mind to see the danger drawing nearer.

When rights are taken away and wrongs are here
to stay remember you are not alone and that if
we stand tall against the break of day still
this war of liberty we may yet win and sway.

For when the curtain over the drama falls and
the American dreaming of World War Two Refought
falters then scales from many eyes shall drop for
in the total heartbreak of the horrendous shreik
of the past shattered is the only hope left for
life, liberty, and happiness for all.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Why Amtrak Isn't Profitable

Why isn't Amtrak profitable?

There are lots of answers but the most basic one is subsidy. People talk all the time about "mass transit" in this country. Yet why hasn't it ever taken off?

The answer is fairly simple. People prefer to drive cars instead of take mass transit. The problem with mass transit is not building it, it's getting people to use it. Why do people drive cars?

Because for thirty some years we've driven down the nominal price of oil using our petro-currency monopoly. Until we recently broke our own petro-currency monopoly when the Fed Funds rate went down the oil price shortly thereafter followed. Our market position as issuing the currency oil was priced in allowed us to have low interest rates and cheap oil.

Right now as organizing most of our suburbs and exurbs are not going to be energy sustainable commutes if the price of oil keeps on going up.

That means we need to start getting serious about mass transit. Prevous attempts were futile and I didn't bother about trying to change things. As long as the petro-dollar ruled it was pretty clear that mass transit wasn't going to work. However things have changed and are changing now.

We need to seriously think about mass-transit now. Otherwise there is going to be a big crunch as people collapse back into urban zones. The price in core urban areas of real estate already high would skyrocket. Now is the historical moment when we really need to start thinking about a serious national mass transit plan.

Do we want it locally owned or operated? How about state or regional? Who pays for the infrastructure? Does the government guarentee the initial developments? Where will we zone the hubs and rails?

It's not just commuters. The food and goods distribution in this country is right now based upon truckers. They will still have a place. However with deisel prices rising even faster than gasoline prices, that is going to become increasingly economically unviable.

What I envision is a dual use commuter and commercial hub/spoke system. It's not the most ideal but we know how to make it work (airlines) and we can charge companies that ride the rails with their cars an infrastructure fee. It could be built relatively quickly by simply expanding the legacy rail system which is basically on the same standard design concept. If we do it fast when the time comes, there will be minimal suburban and exurban implosion and the increased profitability from lowered transport fees will increase the viability of various businesses.

With airline consolidation and increased jet fuel costs, the age of cheap flights is coming to a close. New high speed trains and tracks could be a cost efficient alternative for continental travel. This is the time to start thinking about this stuff, before the big crunch hits.

The Infamous MNF (ABC) Owens-Sheridan Skit

Here is a blog noting it and it has a link to the cached video.

Being a dirty old man I of course watched it. It is pretty innocent really. Actually the part I liked the most surprises me. When she drops the towel she clearly blushes.

I thought that was interesting. Most people can't blush on cue. Being an actress maybe she can. However it lent the whole thing a kind of ... plausibility that the previous rather canned dialogue left me cold about.

I'm sure if it was involuntary it was just the embaressment of disrobing. There is nothing really sexy about shooting nude scenes. However I strangely found the blush and it was rather obvious kind of touching.

I wonder if they used CGI to insert it or if it was coached or of it was real. Whatever it was it was a good move, a nice touch.

Most people are obsessed about getting ahead or being famous or proving that they're better than others. What I am really interested in is people's emotions and how to tell whether they're real or not and what they mean. That is the great fronteir which I do not understand well.

That and how to get a job based on that kind of emotional empathy and networking. Resume grind sure. Credentialize great. But not this kind of "being who you really are" or "build it and they will come" stuff. That's what I've been trying to get in touch with these last several years. I figure if I can do that, then I'll be as normal as I can ever become insofar as being like other people.

Friday, November 19, 2004

How I Got To Be The Oldman,

My chronological age is pretty irrelevant, for more than one reason. I first began my blog with the intent of not discussing my internal life not because there was something very interesting or damning to hide but simply because I didn't want it to get in the way. That's been the problem in my life it always get's in the way.

It is quite normal for people to want to get to "know each other" in a more innocent sense. It has a lot to do with what I'm talking about.

As I will share however unfortunately the atypical and abnormal type of psyche I possess makes this sort of thing very difficult and almost absurd. People try to judge me by what they think they know about me, and it can get them into big trouble. It probably doesn't help that I'm a social mimic and therefore personality assessments can create a conflicting impression that unfortunately can lead to misunderstandings.

Often the inadvertant discovery also ends genuine attempts at relationships.

Let me back up a bit and discuss the rationale for this and why I have for so long lived my life alone.

People assume that there are certain things that are true about all people. This is not a conscious assumption. People are wired to act in a certain way. These are not ideal. They are simply practical inbuilt instincts of social mammals. They practice and assume various things like empathy, conscience however twisted, a general pattern of subjective aging, etc.

Well those things aren't true about me. I wish they were. I'm about to discuss something that is pretty private to me. Everyone has their little quirks and this is mine.

When I was very young I used to hang out with old people. My parents were concerned that I was not playing with all the other little kids so they took me to a certified psychiatrist. He ran some tests and observed me. He had several conclusions which since I was observing him at the time, I can vouch for their accuracy.

The first is that I had at that young age already the completely developed mind of an adult insofar as maturity, foresight, relative experience, discipline, etc. That's why I'd been hanging around the nursing home. I was naturally gravitating toward my social peer group.

The second was that I was very smart and furthermore that I instinctively saw the darker and more cynical motives of human life. Third I effectively had no sense of guilt, no conscience, and was effectively as remorseless as a sociopath. Like most sociopaths I had an advanced ability for social mimicry that would later let me fit in with just about any cultural or social group I involved myself in. Finally, my primary problem seemed that all of these things had a great deal of difficulty socializing with people on a level of intimacy because I was not what they expected and it was very difficult for myself to be intimate with others when they were always assuming things about me that were not true.

He had some further advice which basically meant encouraging me to socialize with my own chronological age group.

Since I have lived several decades from the time of that evaluation, I can say quite unfortunately the good doctor was correct. It's more than just a psychological trick thing. My adult attitudes and foresight allowed me to pull and conduct some very advanced capers even as a child. These "adventures" as we can call them then gave me more experience. Which I then turned into more adventures to get more experience. Most of them done for the sheer hell of the experience.

Moreoever this wasn't some simple shrink babble. I wish it were. One thing that became apparent is that no matter how much I tried pretending to be part of my age group that I knew how to get things done and understood issues far above my age. I've been called a lot of things. Old soul. Heartless bastard. Wise. Wicked. etc. People would seek me out for advice, for help, for a comforting shoulder. Frankly it was embaressing. How would you like to be worried about whether or not you were going to go to prom and have some adult with grey hair break down and babble to you their sorrows? Most of the time I told them how to fix their silly problem and went back to be pretending to be part of my age peer group.

Let me define "pretending". I do not pretend that I have feelings for others that I do not. Most of the time this is not necessary as I only develop feelings for others after a very long and continuous exposure and even then I generally don't express them well. I don't "pretend" in the sense that I lie about my background. By pretending I mean that I try to fit in as much as I can and simply allow others to think what they want while not fully explaining when I act outside of the normal boundaries of that type.

So by "pretending" what I really mean is that I don't try to rock the boat about other people's expectations, allow them to think of me as a "type" they are familiar with, and don't disabuse them of their usually wrong interpretations of my behavior. Usually the explaination is in line with a "type" they think I am belonging to. This is not malicious deception. I do not cheat anyone. I certainly don't go out of my way to take advantage of anyone. Nor do I fail to repay back sooner or later people benefiting me.

I just mean that I let them think what they want, because the alternative is an incredibly awkward and clumsy explaination that most people couldn't "get" anyway. This is just a convenience. I as I will discuss below the fact is that I am rather not equipped with the sort of maliscious desire to deceive and manipulate others that some sad persons have. What wouldn't they get?

Because of the little quirk of my background, I am already subjectively older than most people will ever live with the attendent experience and skills of that long life.

My parents, good but simple people, that they were didn't fully understand what the pschiatrist was explaining to them though I did. They didn't understand for instance that there are a whole range of psychological and neurological abnormalities that can occur. One of them is the run of the mill sociopath. Another is the rather retarded Austistic child. Another rather rarer is the autistic savant. A less severe condition is that of the Asperger's syndrome which generally makes the sufferers socially clumsy but at least independently functional and sometimes gives them savant like abilities. Some have usually pretty harmless obsessive or compulsive disorders associated with their gifts.

I am none of these things. However my clinically diagnosed condition gives me some features similar to each of them. This is not completely undocumented in the literature, just a little variation on the basic psychological and neurological abnormalities. My obssession is the collection, analysis, and application of information.

Please don't think of me as a monster. If I have no conscience, then I have no pent up issues either to take out on others. If I sometimes lack empathy, I also lack the interest in hurting others. I have no wounded child to take out on others. I have no adolescent juvenile insecurity or rage to manifest itself in aggressive projection. I have no impulsive sadistic instincts that give me pleasure in hurting others. Most of the time it just means I see things objectively, not as they should be but just as they are. No conscience so no ideals, no ideals and no truly deep religious beliefs, and then you have no ideologies to confuse the thinking.

Most of the time I am more honorable and more trustworthy than other people can usually achieve because of this. This is simply because it doesn't occur to me to break my deals. Nor is it really logical to break them because of a belief. I intend something. I do something. I carry it out. The thought of betrayal is relatively foreign to me though I am good at spotting those who have no intention of keeping their word. While some people think beliefs are good, the majority of beliefs are prejudicial. For instance some people believe that it's wrong to kill babies but okay to kill adults without appropriate legal representation. To me that's insane. Either you should be completely pacificistic, or accept the doctrine that it is due process and social justice that is the important issue and not life or death.

Likewise abortions bother me, but generally because the women who I have known who had abortions seemed conflicted. Part of them wanted to keep the baby, and part of them didn't. And my thinking was well if they didn't want the baby why did they voluntarily put themselves in a situation that they could become pregnant?

Of course human relationships are just more complicated than what my rather simplistic and logical black and white emotional spectrum allows. I logically recognize that and take that into account. However logically knowing it and "grokking" it are two different things. To me it's as if the person is insane.

That's what I mean by being without conscience or empathy. I just mean I am incapable of fully understanding the complex motives of real personal emotional difficulties. I am great at understanding strategic conflict or tactical or logistical problems and solving them quickly. Those are logical. I have a hard time understanding murky and confused but very human motivations that lead people to do some very strange things. While I have no emotional hesitation at killing, I have ever rational and logical objection to needless or pointless death. It is not death or suffering that bothers me, but waste and irrationality.

Sometimes there are very good reasons for wanting somebody dead. Osama bin Ladin and his buddies are a good example. They are your enemies. Kill them if you can. Other stuff isn't so logical however in war like invading Iraq. Even from the point of view of "Blood for Oil" it was a bloody stupid idea. It was completely illogical how they tried to invade for oil but didn't set themselves up to win.

What is very bad however and usually ends badly however is when someone tries to dominate, bully, play cat and mouse with me, or otherwise use aggression on me. I have no conscience. There I have no hestitation in utterly bringing down, humiliating, or inflicting massive pain on those that attempt in any way to hurt me. Unfortunately there are criminal types, petty and white collar, as well as bullies or just those with superiority complexes in life. What they don't understand is that I don't care about their games. When they dance with me they dance with the devil, because I have not the slightest hesitation about destroying someone trying to hurt me.

It's a documented issue with Asperger's syndrome kids, though as I said I do not suffer from that exact syndrome. They find that these kids have a hard time using limited or refrained violence. Smack them on the cheek, they may go for the throat. For me too, there is a difficulty in discerning the difference between someone trying to intimidate me and someone trying to kill me. So I go for the throat. Since most people are too nice to try to beat me up, it usually doesn't come up in my normal life. Thankfully.

Part of my social mimicry which is quite instinctive is that I tend to treat others the way they treat me only I try to do it better. You trust me, I'll trust you. You help me, I'll help you. You try to hurt me or sell me out, I'll ... yeah. It's not voluntary. I don't sit down and think of it as the golden rule. It just happens. Faster than I can think about it.

For the vast majority of people who are quite decent, they do quite well by me. It never occurred to them to try to burn me. Therefore they never found out that I had another side.

So oddly enough lacking a conscience and being a mimic rather than having empathy made me more trustworthy than the average person. Why should I betray my own agreements? I am not afraid of any person. I am not afraid to take the consequences of my choices. I do not blame others for my problems. I do not attempt to weasel out of things because I feel differently.

But I do have doubts and angst and inner turmoil. Just not about all the usual kinds of stuff people have. What I want is to really learn how to fall in love with someone. Odd isn't it? I've lived this long and never been able to become intimate enough to fall in love with someone else. Dallied, flirted, whatever, sure. But not the real thing. Not the simple act of just bonding deeply with someone you care about and really knows you.

Women have described me while talking with me as dealing with a brick wall. They throw something at me, and it bounces back or is reflected. It's very frustrating for them because they want to break through to the "real me". That's the social mimicry at work. However the real me is I think afraid of rejection. Deep down I guess I've always been afraid of letting down the walls and letting someone else really know me deeply enough to fall in love with me - or I with them. Ladies are very good at discerning when you're holding out on them I'm afraid.

That simple thing that people take for granted, the ability to fall in love, has been my whole life denied to me.

So that's how I got to be The Oldman. My parents never shared the results of the diagnosis with others but they didn't have to. People just started noting that when I thought others weren't looking I would act like a rather crotchety and grumpy old man. With my natural advanced subjective age I was able to carry out all sorts of crazy adventures. These gave me more experience, which I used to pull off even crazier capers. Even while trying to avoid it, I became known as wise and very knowledgeable. Adults much older than me came for me for advice or put me in charge of organizing things.

So that's how I got the nickname. They just started calling me that in sort of jest and it stuck. I am the oldman. Always have been. Even though I'm chronologically older now I am still troubled by the same problems. I have experience I can't put on a CV. I have troubles fitting in with normal job descriptions which frankly bore me to death. I have never as yet fallen in love with someone and they with me. And frankly that's what

Odd isn't it? So that's why my chronological age even now that I'm starting to get white hairs is irrelevant. I am already in some ways older than most people here will ever live to be. Some days I feel it too especially with the injuries I've gotten on my crazier adventures. On the other hand, on levels of basic intimacy and getting close to others I'm less sophisticated than a teenager. It's not physical experience that I lack, it's emotional experience.

Which is what the good doctor pointed out when he diagnosed me those many years ago now. When later I sought out the help of an excellent clinical psychologist this was pretty much his eventual advice as well. I just need to learn how to personally relate to people. That is my weakness. And the inability to do it screws up the rest of my social life, because I have to pretend to be something other than I am which is great at first but is limiting because if you don't open up and let people know you they will generally trust you only so far.

Which is why I'm writing this. Larry, my psychologist and later friend, would approve since it means I'm finally starting to let the walls down.

To summarize I have a clinically diagnosed psychological abnormality. The principle affect of this psychological abnormality was to predispose me toward the attitudes and later the learning curve of a person of advanced age - highly knowledgeable, highly experienced, and highly disciplined. This resulted in others treating me quite properly as someone much older than I was. It however also interfered with my normal age peer group socializations so in some ways I'm not as emotionally experienced as your average teenager.

It's not that I can't get women to like me. For whatever reason, women do like me or at least enough of them do. One said it had to do with my confidence. However it's opening up that I lack for. Over the last few years I've been taking the advice my psychologist and living a quiet life instead of getting mixed up in adventures. I agree with him that these have mostly proven distractions from my ultimate insecurity.

This insecurity doesn't stem from my job or social recognition or whatever. My condition makes me either imperviously and relentlessly self-confident. It's actually a bad thing because sometimes I take on really big projects that are much more difficult than they appear. And it's bad because I have a hard time finding normal work. Not because of my employers or mentors, but because I have a hard time accepting working according to other's scehdules. Social recognition isn't important to me much, but I do wish I could find a way to harness my talents to help those who employ me now better. But it's hard because they don't really know me and I don't really know what they want. That's why I like deals. They're spelled out in exact details what the expectations are. Then I just focus on fulfilling those expectations. It's not their fault it's just a misunderstanding. If I work with someone I need a very clear idea of what they want or my attention tends to drift off.

It is oddly enough the thought of genuinely opening up to someone that scares me. The old what if they don't like me for me type thing?

I mean what am I inside but a rather heartless and grumpy old man afterall? Not the sort of thing your average woman expects to find in a body like mine when it opens up.

A woman once wrote something I think rather profound. She's married but in an open marriage. She was writing about all the sad middle-aged men she ran into, who loved their wives but weren't sleeping with them because they couldn't communicate. It's the "talking" part of the relationship that is hard for me. It's even hard for me to really communicate with my family. For me to "talk" would require me to act like I truly was, which would and when it has slipped out, has been very upsetting for them.

No parent likes to be treated like a child and put in their place, especially if they are acting like a child and the person putting them in their place is their 5 year old kid. The human mind isn't meant to deal with stuff like that. And yes I did. Most of the time I was content to play the role of their child. However when they got of line too far I put them in their place. Pretty devastating for a grown adult to get faced down by their preteen kid and told how and why they've screwed up and how to fix it and that they had better not screw up like that again next time.

So if someone wants to make fun of me, please at least give me the dignity of making fun of who I truly am. If I am sad or pathetic in any way, it is that in the end I am just a lonely old man who lives by himself and only has his old war stories to tell. That is pretty awful enough as it is and it has the virute of being true.

And the truth is that I would rather have people make fun of me than have anyone give me pity. One thing I do not lack for is pride. Pride has always been my downfall.

But I am not writing this out of self-pity, just a candid recognition of who and what I am. Embracing it has been difficult. Nosce te ipsum Know thyself. Then be true to thyself. Such simple words. Such a great challege.

Right now I would settle for a job, but I don't want a job based on me looking for it. I want what other people have - what I see happening to others like my younger female relative. I want to be able to be myself, accepted for it, and sought for work based on that.

It's not about just a job for me. What this is about is me trying to take down that wall. It's about me trying to accept myself for what I am, and finding a place a destiny a path in this world based not on how well I can fit in to someone else's idea of what I should be but who I have always been. Which is just like that old duffer down the street playing chess in the park. Heck I was playing chess with him or someone like him at the same age most people were learning to read and write.

Oldman in a not quite old yet body is what I am. I am over the hill now chronologically which helps. The older I get physically the actually easier it becomes for me. But that's what I want I really really want: a chance at a life based not on how well I can calculate other peoples reactions and adjust to them (which is very fast and very well) but a life based on relationships with people who know me.

It may sound strange but as they say the grass is greener on the otherside of the fence. Most people want or at least admit they need maturity because that's what they don't have. On the other hand they have intimacy. Which I don't have. So that's what I want - relationships and intimacy - not just with a woman which would be nice but a life based on a web of people knowing me and me knowing them. As for this other stuff, this whole information collection and analysis I'm good at it - probably better than most people can ever become. It's that whole savant thing. So sure I could make money on it. But more than that I want not praise, not fame, but simple acknowledgement. As in yes this is who you really are and this is what you do just so I can stop pretending. I'm pretty tired of that. It can be fun but in the end it just leaves you alone.

Yes I can analyze the flaws of others and design fiendishly complicated schemes that will destroy them while leaving no evidence to convict me. However that get's boring after a while. The bad thing about lacking normal empathy is that you can't enjoy hurting others. I can know what others feel by inference and observation, but it's like black and white television compared to color. I just don't "get" the full impact. So while I can follow along, I don't always "get the joke". This is why my humor tends to be dry and cutting with an emphasis on irony and sarcasm. It's like not having color-vision is the only way I can describe it.

My mother told me that, well she told me that I must lead a very lonesome life. I do. It doesn't bother me most of the time. It's like being color blind. Most of the time you just don't know what you're missing. The very definition of a human being however is that they strive to be more than themselves. It is that very striving that defines humanity, and not their present characteristics. Only a sentient being can be aware of themselves, and then seek to exceed their original design parameters. I don't have to be more than I am, but I want to be. That is the kernel of the story of Pinnochio. "I want to be a real boy." is his statement to the world.

I want to know what I've been missing out on. That's what I've been trying to accomplish.

And that is how I got to be the oldman, I was born an oldman.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Aha it worked! (just not for me yet)

A few days ago, I wrote a post about my life philosophy of how to get a job by not looking for one.

Since then a younger female relative of mine, fairly close, has gotten a job in just that manner! Her and her husband had just moved to a big city this year. They'd started a small business making PR marketing materials based on his webpage design and her artwork and management skills. Then they had a baby. Cute little bugger. However things had been kind of tough for them.

I'd been worried about them and had helped out and was going to help out more. However it things have completely turned around for them! As it turns out, someone saw her artwork and decided to hire her as a senior marketing manager. She's got six people working for her and she's getting paid very well, though not six figures (yet). This is definitely a step up for her in the world, and if she follows along with this she'll easily make VP of marketing division before age forty. This is marvelous news for them.

I shall have to congratulate them when I see their little tyke over Thanksgiving.

I should emphasize that only having had the baby a few months ago, she hadn't been looking for work at all. Completely out of the blue, they called her up to ask her to submit her portfolio. Less than three days later they had her come in for an interview. After a perfunctory pro forma interview she's been hired to start very soon.

This is excellent for her since she is really not the type to be cut out for being a housewife if you know what I mean, and her husband prefers to take care of their baby himself. A rather ideal arrangement don't you think? So this is good news for them. It is also yet again more vindication of my theory of the unplanned yet destined life.

Such an approach is no substitute for hard work it must be emphasized. The theory is to seek to improve one's self and then let the work find you. Other ways work of course, and this method is a little nail-biting but I've seen it work many times. Those that seek work often turn out unhappy, while those that take the work that finds them are generally much more self-fulfilled.

This is not to say they are all rich. One of the interesting lessons of life is learning to be content with what makes you happy rather than chasing after that which you imagine you ought to have. The happy life for a person could be a quite modest one. However some people aren't willing to settle for that. On the other hand, the happy life could be a high-powered career tight-rope walking act. That's the whole point, you should let your bliss guide you rather than rely on conventional thinking.

Now if I could only get it to work for me! To be fair I choose to follow my head over my heart a long time ago and have paid for it for a long time ever since. I just hope that my long exile from my own "destined" life is coming to an end and I can "get on with it". I just wish my long wait would finally be over.



Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Just Plain Wrong,

First of all I don't particularly like guns. It's been years since I've even handled one. Second of all I support the interpretation of the Second Ammendment that indicates that individuals have a right to arm themselves. This is despite that I would be at an advantage if firearms were widely banned and rare. Furthermore I support the right of hunters, even though my preference for steak is Bessy rather than Bambi. However this is just plain wrong. From MSNBC:

Hunting via Internet? Officials wary
Computer controls rifle-camera combination
Updated: 11:38 p.m. ET Nov. 16, 2004HOUSTON - Hunters soon may be able to sit at their computers and blast away at animals on a Texas ranch via the Internet, a prospect that has state wildlife officials up in arms.

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A controversial Web site, http:/www.live-shot.com, already offers target practice with a .22 caliber rifle and could soon let hunters shoot at deer, antelope and wild pigs, site creator John Underwood said on Tuesday.

Texas officials are not quite sure what to make of Underwood’s Web site, but may tweak existing laws to make sure Internet hunting does not get out of hand.

“This is the first one I’ve seen,” said Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wildlife director Mike Berger. “The current state statutes don’t cover this sort of thing.”

Underwood, an estimator for a San Antonio, Texas auto body shop, has invested $10,000 to build a platform for a rifle and camera that can be remotely aimed on his 330-acre (133-hectare) southwest Texas ranch by anyone on the Internet anywhere in the world.

The idea came last year while viewing another Web site on which cameras posted in the wild are used to snap photos of animals.

“We were looking at a beautiful white-tail buck and my friend said ’If you just had a gun for that.’ A little light bulb went off in my head,” he said.

Internet hunting could be popular with disabled hunters unable to get out in the woods or distant hunters who cannot afford a trip to Texas, Underwood said.

Berger said state law only covers “regulated animals” such as native deer and birds and cannot prevent Underwood from offering Internet hunts of “unregulated” animals such as non-native deer that many ranchers have imported and wild pigs.

If you want to hunt something you should actually you know have to go and hunt it down. And if you want to kill a large large mammal for yourself, as I have, then you should have the grace to go out there and confront it and see for yourself the violence you have wrought blowing away that animal. If you can do this and do it fairly humanely and sportingly then hunting is acceptable.

However turning it into a video-game for so many reasons is just plain wrong and should not be done. We already have enough problems with kids and virtual gaming violence these days. As conservatives, do we really want to be supporting actual internet moderated killing? The right to bear arms and the legality of hunting does not allow somebody to sit at a keyboard and use a mouse to kill something alive a hundred miles away. Yes hunting is violent but the very act of the hunting and the difficulty involved in themselves pay homage and respect to the value of life. We should never make it easy to take a life. Conservatives who oppose abortion on the basis of the sanctity of life should think twice about supporting something that clearly trivializes and undermines the stark hazards moral and physical involved in taking life or lowering societal standards about what is construed as being acceptable justification for taking life.

This is just plain wrong and should be opposed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Theory and Practice of the Philosophy of Life,

When I was growing up I absorbed the idea from my high school counselours that what I really needed to do was develop a career plan and sit down and send off a lot of resumes and apply to internships that I liked. Working my way up the "ladder" of success would then lead me to happiness, fulfillment, and riches. Or at least a secure middle management position at a firm with a good pension plan.

The thing is that this theory will in fact work. I know many people who subscribe to this theory. I used to be one of them. They go out there, separate their emotional and professional lives, and climb the ladder or at least straddle the network of success and hobnob themselves into great position. I think that's great. There's nothing wrong with that.

Except that most of these people end up with gnawing feelings of having missed out and discontentment somewhere in middle life. I was lucky or unlucky in that I had my midlife crisis pretty early before I had entered my midlife in fact. So I did what any self-respecting person would, I tried to find something satisfying figuring that it was my over competitive and overly materialistic nature that had brought me down. That did bring me happiness for a while living as an idealistic teacher without tenure and without roots.

Then I realized the great truth which is that while money does not make you happy neither will a lack of money make you happy. As a matter of fact it's not about money at all as far as I can tell. It's about that saying printed over the door of the Oracle in the Matrix film and also more classically though perhaps just as fictiously over the supposed door of the Oracle of Delphi.

Nosce te ipsum.
Know thyself.

Life is all about not fate but destiny. Destiny isn't something that forcibly happens to you. Destiny isn't a predetermined set of events. Destiny is character. This does not mean to imply in a Calvinistic sense that material success is the sign of God's favor, it means to imply that our happiness in life and the kind of life we lead depend entirely upon our not very predictable natures and our ability to be true to them no matter how awkward they are.

Of course we are responsible for our actions, but insofar as they do not deprive others of health, liberty, or property we are mandated to be true unto ourselves.

Of course the trick is that this is not easy. The reason why this is not easy is because of the old conundrum: If no one can be stronger than themselves, why do people fight with themselves all the time?

So it is that no matter how aware you are, you can be no more self-aware than your own awareness. Imagine your mind as a box, no matter how big it is, it will have a hard time fitting something bigger than itself in it. Make sense?

So too our self-awareness no matter how aware we are is self-limited by the very nature of our awareness. This is why it's very hard to get to know yourself and see how you fit into the big picture. When you see other people it's easy to give advice for them, but it's much harder to be objective about ourselves because it is always easier to be aware than be self-aware.

The reason why I'm talking about this is that I give great advice about networking and finding jobs to other people. On the other hand, I'm having trouble finding the proper career path for myself. Isn't that both ironic and awkward?

You see the real secret to finding a really great job is not to look for one. By that I mean that there is a hidden emotional order to life. I'm not arguing for a mystical force field that forces us into certain events. I just mean that behind the scenes people have ideas of what they want and how they want it to work out. Then they go and fix things so that they work out in accordance with their ideas.

The secret to finding a great job therefore is to just be yourself and expose that self to others and let them signal to you where you should go looking or offer you the job outright. I've seen it happen dozens of times. Most of the time when hires are made, people already have an idea of who they want or at least what kind of person they want. Then they go looking for it.

Of course you can always groom yourself to fit into somebody else's idea of what they want. That risks you waking up one morning two decades down the road and thinking you missed out on life though. Alternatively you can just do the resume and credential and qualification grind and technically ace any standard set for you and probably somewhere someone will just quick need somebody and you fit the bill and they'll select you. You can also try to hob nob it, get into all the right schools, go to all the right parties, get your pictures taken with all the right people and you'll get hired and promoted up the line. No doubt about it those kinds of methods work.

However I don't think that they can ever make you truly outstanding. By outstanding I mean that you will make the absolute most amount of money that you can make and get the most done and get the most recognition you can possibly handle while remaining balanced and having a happy personal life. I call that the "good life". Now the fact is that a lot of people don't want the "good life". Maybe they have something to prove. Maybe they're willing to let their emotional lives stagnate in order to accomplish some great goal. Maybe they're just not content until they have a trophy spouse, a condo to vacation at, a yacht, a bank account with seven or eight zeroes, four heart attacks, etc.

Having the "good life" means potentially settling just for relationships with whomever naturally comes into your life and treats you well and quite probably a whole lot less money than you think that you might have been able to potentially earn in your wildest dreams.

The problem is that in real life you can't separate your emotional life and your professional life. It just doesn't work like that.

So strangely enough, the best way to find a job is not to look for one. Instead you should try to do what will make you the best that you can be and let the job look for you. Of course you shouldn't turn away opportunities. That's the whole point though, to pay attention to who wants you instead of chasing after that which you think you want. I've seen this work many times. Many more than many times. I have spent the last several years cataloging all the times I have seen this happen.

Most of us are afraid. Fear of failure, of success, of change, of being rejected permeates our thoughts. When I talk about denying ourselves, I'm not talking about the mad scheme to rob a bank you had when you were twelve. I'm just talking about when the glory and the glamor and the hype and the accusations are all stripped away about you, just you, and nobody else but you.

Who are you?
What do you want?
Do you have anything worth living for?

Know thyself. Nosce te Ipsum. Be true to thyself. Such simple words. So hard to live it. So hard to see yourself as only others can. So hard to see yourself and see it in the big picture all at once.

In practice it is so much more difficult. What I know is this. I'm behind in my bills because I've been giving money to my family, but am making payments on my credit card to huggle it. I know that my current job evaporates in less than six months. I know that I have absolutely no plans for what to do about it afterwards. I'm not looking for a job. But I still don't have a job!!!

LOL. This is why it's easy to hand out advice but hard to take it. I'm taking it but it's not easy. Isn't that weird? But that's life. That's real.

There are so many things I want to do. There are so many things I need to do. There are so many things I could do. There are so many things that it would be very easy for me to do and would be completely ruinious for people I don't like very much. Yet out of all these things, I only get to live one life.

So I quietly work away at what the spirit moves me to work on here. I expressly do not look for a job. I am letting the work find me. I don't have anything lined up yet. I do have greater appreciation for all the times in the past when people have found it hard to take my advice even though I and they knew it was the right thing to do.

Psychologically I'm starting to feel a bit like Hank's fictional character cooped up in the Terminal. My patience is not so benign however. I feel like a hungry hawk moving serenely through the air, agonizing because it's been a while since he's eaten but knowing his only chance is for the rabbit below to betray itself with some movement some small mistake something to give it away before the hawk can stoop. This is the why of life, and this is why it's not easy to follow it, and only people of real courage can. Because only someone with the courage to just accept themselves for who they are can bear the agony of waiting and not knowing, certain that sooner or later something that matches their nature will make itself apparent and then that is when they make their move.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Better a Whore than a Slut,

I am of course not talking about women, but men here. Specifically Tony Blair who is the slut in question. From Talking Points Memo:

JACQUES CHIRAC dealt a blow to Tony Blair’s attempt to heal the wounds between the US and Europe last night by saying that the Prime Minister had won nothing for supporting the war against Iraq. As Mr Blair used a keynote speech to present Britain as a “bridge across the Atlantic”, President Chirac doubted whether anyone could play the “honest broker”. Speaking before he visits London on Thursday, he said that it was not in the nature of this Administration to return favours.
Mr Blair suffered another setback when Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State and the administration figure most trusted by Europe, resigned. There were doubts over whether his successor, possibly Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Adviser, would be as accommodating.

M Chirac, speaking to British journalists, including The Times, soon after General Powell’s announcement, revealed that he had urged Mr Blair to demand the relaunch of the Middle East peace process in return for backing the war.

“Well, Britain gave its support but I did not see anything in return. I’m not sure it is in the nature of our American friends at the moment to return favours systematically.”

Josh then goes on to question if the word 'poodle' applies. Poodles of course are above what Tony Blair has become. Dogs are infamously loyal and sometimes fawning, if you feed them and give them affection. Therefore a poodle is at worst a henchman or a servant. Below henchman is a whore, who owes no loyalty but at least can claim the honor of a thief: that they stay bought as long as they are paid. Beneath even a whore is a slut. A slut is one who throws themselves at another chasing after them, when the other uses them, abuses them, and discards them without any consideration in return.

Therefore in this world, if you must serve then at least demand some sort of recognition and become a servant. If no one will take you as a master, at least have the pride to be an honest thief or an honest whore or an honest mercenary and be loyal enough to stay bought when you are getting paid. Above all else, avoid becoming a slut that throws one's self away at the feet of others only to have them despise them.

Better by far to be a free person beholden to none but keeping your word to all. However if you are forced by circumstance to take service, then serve well and honorably. Always avoid throwing yourself away, because in the end no one respects someone who just throws themselves away for nothing.

And that my friends is the tenor of the discussion between Chirac and Blair.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Philosophy Sunday: Why Conservatives Should Not Ban Abortion,

Part of the most fundamental heart of the conservative moral philosophy is not the sanctity of life but instead responsibility. It is liberals with their interventionist state that declare life to be sacred, and that state management of the quality of life should be exalted. Instead a conservative fundamentally beleives in personal responsibility and taking responsibility for one's own quality of life rather than relying upon the state. To a conservative life is not sacred but responsibility and consequence are. This is why conservatives support the reasonable use of military force and the death penalty, because international conflicts will have irreconciliable differences that cannot be ignored through diplomacy and "making nice" and personal lives will have consequences that cannot be forgiven merely through saying sorry.

Let me relate to you a story, here as told by the Guardian (UK):

Boris Johnson sacked by Tories over private life

Gaby Hinsliff, chief political correspondent
Sunday November 14, 2004
The Observer

Tory MP Boris Johnson was sacked from his party's front bench last night over lurid claims about his love life.

His fate was sealed by the mother of his alleged mistress, Petronella Wyatt, who said her daughter had become pregnant by him and had an abortion last month.

Johnson, who is married with four children, had categorically dismissed the allegations only last week as an 'inverted pyramid of piffle'- and, crucially, he had assured Tory leader Michael Howard they were untrue.

Last night Howard said his colourful arts spokesman and party vice-chairman had been 'relieved of his responsibilities'. He is said to have been unable to forgive Johnson for having apparently misled both newspapers to whom he had earlier denied the allegations and Howard, who publicly backed him.

'This is nothing to do with personal morality. Last weekend when all this came up Michael stood by him and said shadow ministers can live their lives as they want, it was not a matter for him,' said one. But 'it is a matter for him when shadow ministers don't tell the truth'.

Howard offered him the chance to resign, but Johnson insisted on being fired.

The episode brings an end to an unlikely but uniquely engaging political career. Johnson, 40, who is also editor of the Spectator magazine, became one of the few modern Tories able to capture the public imagination, even provoking speculation he could be a future leader.

He had already survived the now infamous Spectator editorial accusing Liverpool of wallowing in its grief over the death of hostage Kenneth Bigley, after visiting the city to apologise.

But the saga of his alleged relationship with Spectator columnist Wyatt was the last straw. Reports first emerged last weekend that Johnson, married to barrister Marina Wheeler, had had an affair and that his mistress subsequently had an abortion.

While he denied it, when Petronella's mother Lady Wyatt was asked if the two were having an affair, she said tellingly: 'Not any more.'

Today's Mail on Sunday claims Wyatt had two abortions, the last one paid for by Johnson, and that he had offered to leave his wife. Asked about the abortion claims, Lady Wyatt reportedly said it had been 'just one'. She confirmed the relationship to the News of the World, saying her daughter had realised it was 'going nowhere'.

What are we to make of this story? It is the same reason that I believe led Moses to allow divorce and for Jesus ever the heavenly perfection(ist) to state it should not be allowed. In heaven there is no divorce. Neither according to Jesus is their marrying and giving in marriage. That neatly solves that problem.

However on earth where people are imperfect divorce is a necessary evil. Yes, we would all like to think that people should fall in love and work out their problems and stay together forever. It is what we would all like to hope for in our own lives. However while it takes two to make a relationship work, it only takes one to call it quits.

Now in practice I am against divorce, just as I am against the financial situation that makes divorce being tantamount to poverty for most women and children of divorced families, but the question isn't whether it should be available it is merely a question of making it pragmatically reasonable.

In a similar way, the death penalty is a necessary evil. It would be nice if life in imprisonment were sufficient punishment or deterrence. However in extreme cases it is not, and the prosecuting attourney may need the threat of the death penalty to get that life sentence. I understand that in many cases the death penalty is not fair or just, either in the trial phase or the penalty phase. I do understand the need, quite desperate, to reform that system so that at the very least death penalty defendants get a fair trial. I think it would be good if prosecuting attourneys knew that if they prosecuted on the death penalty that they couldn't just steamroll an exhausted overstretched public defender. I am not for dubiously putting men to death.

Additionally, I am against abortion personally. I do think that killing babies is wrong. However I am also for war when warrented even though I know that military actions or even sanctions which are nothing less than modern seige kill many children. I am also unwilling to send US soldiers to Somalia so that women may not be raped there and babies not killed in the genocide that is happening. This is the real world and we cannot fix all problems in it though we should not make them worse if we possibly can avoid it.

Is there really a moral difference between me supporting military action that I know will end in the deaths of little children, whatever the rational, and approving of abortion? In the end it is an issue of individual as opposed to social responsibility. Society has the role of ensuring that I do not have my life deprived without due process, where due process means it has not been arbitrary, unpredictable, or unwarrented. However the rule always has to be that if it is my life at stake or society's interest then the responsibility of my life has to be on my own shoulders as long as society has given me a fair shake.

In cases where persons are not ready to be responsible for themselves, we have an imperfect system that appoints those close to that person to make the decision for themselves. This is true even when there might be a conflict of interest as long as it is not extreme. This is the fundamental justification behind the concept of parental notification of abortions. Personally I think that it should be passed, because the practical reality is that most of those parents when confronted by that choice might if anything pressure their kids to have abortions when they might want to keep the baby. That has been the historical case. Conservatives should not kid themselves otherwise.

Extending this legal rationale I argue that the adult therefore who is pregnant has the same rights to terminate a pregnancy as the adult whose child has become pregnant has the right to be notified.

As a matter of fact, I have helped three women obtain abortions. All three were mothers. All three had boyfriends or husbands. In one case, the boyfriend proved incapable of handling the responsibility on his end. In the other two cases the women wanted to hide the abortion from their partners since they were already at the edge of true poverty but also realized the emotional impact that the abortion would have on their partners.

One could argue that I didn't have to help them at all. I didn't of course have any legal responsibility. I did personally think it was wrong. However there was a stark choice for these women. Abandonment by their partners and poverty or maybe both, because sometimes in the real world the guy doesn't stick around and acts like the stand-up dad. The reason why I assisted them is simply that they were employees or associates of mine, and I take a strong attitude of responsibility toward those working for me.

At any case, afterwards I ensured that each woman would have the means for a better life and eventually learned to be more responsible. One married her partner, one ended up divorcing him for infidelity, and the last improved her life without her partner. I thought their dillemmas were foolish but that is the nature of people. I thought my duty best served by helping these women obtain a new status in life that would make sure that they did not have to ever have an abortion and sufficient wisdom not to have an unreliable partner ever again.

Life is messy. Stuff happens. People let other people down. People kill each other, and sometimes it is the only reasonable solution. Sometimes people get blown to bits because the alternative is to cede control of a nation to another country that will make things for yet other people worse. It's not very morally clear or black and white. People who think they can make it that way aren't being very honest, because history has shown that ideologoues actually end up causing more harm and more unnecessary evil than realists do.

The way I show my disapproval of these things is creating conditions that in the long run lower their incidence rate while addressing the underlying concerns. However as the above drama in England shows sometimes people just fuck up. People both men and women just sometimes make bad or unwise decisions. And then you have to clean up the mess. It is cleaning up our messes and learning not in the future to make them that defines adulthood. This is why the conservative movement has always been known as the "party of grown-ups".

The problem is that this is no longer the case. Now conservatives are screwing up as much as liberals and overextending just as far. While this may be motivated by the best intentions, we all know the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Good intentions aren't enough. One also has to be a grown up and that means cleaning up and admitting our failures.

It doesn't matter how good a rationale, and it wasn't all that good, it sounded to invade Iraq. It's a clusterfuck over there right now. And no amount of feel-good propaganda should convince people otherwise. It is not the cost of war that is most troublesome, though that is mounting, it is the lack of direction and a plan for success that is troubling. The grown-ups are not in charge.

We just have to pray that somebody in Washington pulls their head out of the sand and appoints some grown-ups because otherwise Americans will begin to discover just how bad things can really get and why taking responsibility isn't a moral virtue but a pragmatic one.


Saturday, November 13, 2004

A Rant about Double-speak

I understand the need for people who scheme to take over the world in order to couch their policies and claims in Orwellian Doublespeak. Claiming the impossible in order to propose the improbable in order to dupe the credulous is a time-tested tradition of bad guys. However there are some depths of linguistic depravity that have just gone too far.

What I'm ratning about is the use of the term "pockets". It began with the War on Iraq, with any sort of areas resisting Ameribrit domination described as "pockets". That was an acceptable use of the world, because really not that many areas were in open revolt. Then however the cancer of the insurgency began spreading all over Iraq, and you couldn't walk down the street without being kidnapped and having your pleading face shoved into a camara for a humiliating display on Al Jazeera. It was still called "pockets" which was ridiculous but then again Five Oclock follies always are.

However now the term "pockets" has spread to British social services and it's just gone too far!

The Independent (UK) reports that 2/3rds of whites surveyed admitted that they were racist.

Two-thirds of whites say they are biased against minorities
By Sophie Goodchild, Home Affairs Correspondent
14 November 2004

Two-thirds of white people in Britain admit they are prejudiced against at least one minority group, with Gypsies and asylum-seekers the main targets, according to an authoritative study published this week.

The damning report identifies five types of bigotry displayed by whites, ranging from outright aggression to more subtle forms of prejudice that undermine attempts to make Britain an inclusive society.

The findings will be presented to ministers and MPs on Tuesday and will show that prejudice is still widespread, with asylum-seekers, Asians and travellers all regarded as cultural threats to traditional English values. The study, commissioned by Stonewall, the gay rights lobby group, also shows prejudice against gays, lesbians and the disabled.

According to Stonewall, the report revealed "significant pockets of unpleasant prejudice against minorities". [emphasis added]

The real news isn't that 2/3rds of white brits might admit they were racist, though that is interesting, it's that a British official called 2/3rds of the population "pockets".

Now as far as I'm concerned that is just going too damned far. Using pockets as a term is of course meant to minimize the scale of a described phenomena. However 2/3rds of a population is decidely not qualified for proper usage of pockets! Furthermore I don't even object to the use of Orwellian Doublespeak, it's the pointless and mindlessly idiotic usage that I object to. Does the person in question really think that he can minimize the impact of the finding by describing it using the word "pockets"?

If the continued use of the word "pockets" by American and British authorities and media continues, the Oxford English Dictionary may have to revise the definition of the word "pockets" to mean the supremajority of any described group. Our grandkids may be telling each other "Oh yes, they invaded and took over pockets of the entire country subjugating it!".

When two thirds of Iraq is in open revolt against us, will it still be described as "pockets of resistance" because the Kurdish area is not particularly violent yet?

Such is the mendacity of trickle-down government mendacity.

Look if people are evil and want to take over the world, I can deal with that. I'll try to fight it, but hey whatcha gonna do right? People will be people, which means on the whole nasty and pathetically brutish when they're not whining. But spare me the mendacity of fawning and mindless imitation of badly applied linguistic perversions. That is what makes me want to give up on the human race, not that they might lie but when they get so tangled up they can't tell the difference between their lies or what's real.

Okay that was my rant. I feel better now.

Hello all,

Sorry about the hiatus but as a commentator noted I had been offered posting privileges at www.bopnews.com. The main advantage of this site is that it offers me the ability to post pictures. I have decided to keep this blog active, but I will offer postings based more on philosophy, other writing, and personal issues. It will be my own private blog on other words.

If you like my geostrategic comments or my presentation of economic issues, then please look for me at BOP.

For instance because I was able to post pictures I have been able to write articles that I have long wanted to write, but was unable because of the difficulty of posting and hosting images, charts, and tables on this blogger format.

This Peak Oil article that I write about is for instance much more easily understood since I have been able to include charts to my hearts content.

Likewise my post on the oil-currency realignment is much clearer with the charts showing in easy visual format what is happening.

Likewise with charts of markets and economic indicators I was able to make a powerful argument that we have entered a new low growth era in my post American Economic Transition.

Please enjoy those and come back and visit this site because I will begin posting my other writing, general philosophy, and personal reflections on this site. I don't think it will be a problem to write for both, I merely felt that with my first week on BOP I should produce some interesting material to introduce myself to the audience there. I will continue to maintain my authorship on both blogs. I also have been involved with some of the people at BOP on starting a party reform movement. Some of my writings there focus on that. As that get's underway I will have more time to post my reflective and analytical writing here.

Never fear, I haven't abandoned you ... merely been expanding my writing sphere.



Thursday, November 04, 2004

Open Thread: Venting the Spleen,

Okay whenever something bad happens the shrinks talk about people going through different stages: denial, anger, sadness, acceptance, etc.

Before we can move forward people need to work through how they feel. Otherwise their minds and judgements will be clouded by their emotions of past events instead of reacting to present necessities.

In the spirit of this I am opening up an open thread. Anyone who reads my blog please put in your two cents.

I will not tolerate the following: trolls, super-long posts especially ones quoting huge sections of news articles (put a link in if you want to ref something), and mindless reactionary boosting for some radical extremist agenda left or right. If I see it I delete it. But I do this not in a spirit of censorship but in a spirit of increasing signal to noise ratio. If you have something to say, even if it's not PC, but it comes from within you please share it. I just want authentic expressions of individuals, not memes or proganda or sloganeering.

Don't post propaganda. Post how you you really feel. From the heart. Write it with feeling.

I also suggest any of you that know of blogs out there or have blogs on your own pass on the word. This is something all the people in the coalition that got defeated need to do. We need to come together and express our deepest aspirations and fears.

Only once we've done this can we stand strong and know what we will be fighting for.

Even if you don't normally comment, please write something down. Not for me - for you. And if you don't do it here, go some place and write it down and share it with someone.

Poisoned hearts can not from heaven's breast capture the sweet nectar of delightful victory's caress, so those who limp in their souls and the angry troll have yet to pay the toll come here now and bear witness to the disappointments and tears of yesterday's ghosts so that the past may at last be laid to rest.

Be of good heart and cheer, and fear not, for times will bring blacker days but anon shall come our chance to make it right. :-)

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Weeping and gnashing of teeth,

Well my hat is off to Rove. He really did win this election by means fair or foul. The sad thing for me is not that Bush won. I was expecting that the results would show that, and have been for weeks.

My prediction was that in the real world Kerry would according to all data and polls win by up to 4-5%. If you look at the demographics - Cubans sliding toward Kerry, women breaking for Kerry, independents breaking for Kerry, etc. - it perfectly supports that. However my expectation wasn't that the real world rules would apply but that bizarro world rules would apply.

Before the election the cartoon strip ran this cartoon which I will quote:
"You don't hold that a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth?"
Karl Rove, speaking to Plato

In the bizarro world rules I fully expected that Florida would never go to Kerry, despite as said 90% of blacks turnout for him and Cubans sliding into his column and more women coming into his column, and that the GOP would just make up the numbers they needed. Something similar but not as widespread as in Ohio. That plus given massive GOP turnout - the story that wasn't these past few weeks (I'd carefully noted it ... it seemed somewhat odd that the media wasn't covering that angle) - in the Southern states and wedge issue politics gave the GOP the edge.

Since I expected bizarro world rules to apply I am not surprised at all.

No the sad thing for me is not that Bush will have four more years. It's the eventual agony. You see most of my friends and family voted for Bush. Now when things fall apart I'm going to have very strained social relations with them. I am not the type to say "I told you so,". However they will already know that, and it's going to be ugly.

It's going to be ugly and they're good people. I'm sure that when all is told and said and done that they will regret this vote for the rest of their lives. Especially when they or their kids or their friend's kids get sent to die in foreign wars. Or watching their retirements destroyed. As I said I won't ever mention this to them.

But I'll have to watch them suffer, knowing I can offer no comfort. By my nature I have difficulty doing anything other than acting with candor. What am I gonna say to them? You deserved it? You brought it on yourselves? I told you so?

I can't say those things. They might be true but I can't say them. I'll just have to be nice to them, no extra nice to them, and not mention the topic.

This could actually be good for the Democrats. It's more important that they have their illusions stripped and learn how to fight and understand how impotent they truly are. That and it will expose all the intellectual lite collaborating sell-outs in their midst. I'm also not unhappy that the Clintonistas have been banished for another four years. I take some comfort that Rubin has been relegated to the history books rather than made some sort of idolatrous god. Only then can some good come from this.

Stirling wrote this before the election:

Lyric, the angels sang of a dream called Democracy,
Stolen in darker corners by the goblins of hypnocracy -
rule by the worst, from last to very first,
and an ethos of defeat, a morality of retreat,
that gives way to darkness, and ultimate deceit.

Decrepit the wheels of mediocracy turn,
We repeat the cycle, but never learn.
And while a distant land is set to burn,
We, instead, our comments churn.

To whorship on that bandar-fire like frogs,
and document our descent to madness with blogs.

To which I replied this:
Be stalwart Stirling! The worst is yet to come, yet fear not! For in the darken hour when all hope seems stripped away then will illusions fall and through the grieving pall shall people at last pass beyond the past and in the ruin of all shining tall then at last hearts shall uncover that outer beauty had its origin only from strength however imperfect hidden deep within so then upon broken foundation stones will the flowers of a new spring bloom brighter than rockets red glaring so that having lost it all we found a joy unexpected and unforseen in America's new beginning.

I think he was depressed about how things were going. I can't say I blame him. He was prescient enough to sense something was wrong, though he hoped better. Me I was just my usual cynical self so I wasn't disappointed at all.

There are two problems. The first one is symbolically the way that this nation handles Gay rights. Personally I don't support gay marriage either. I think it's too soon for it. On the other hand, whatever you feel about banning gay marriage would you think it was worth two trillion dollars in debt? I think any sane person would have to say no. But that's what was on the menu. Vote against gay marriage, even when the other guy doesn't support gay marriage either, and be billed two trillion dollars. Because that's what the optimistic projection of the Bush deficit for the next four years will be.

The second problem is that we have a party in power but not capable of governing. The other party is marginally more capable of governing but incapable of holding power. There's going to have to be a lot of soul searching in this nation before we can set things right, and times will get very dark before that comes to pass. Republicans aren't ready to rule, and Democrats aren't ready to win. I took quite a bit of flack for saying that a few months back - not ready to win - isn't what people who work hard want to hear. But they weren't ready to win. So they didn't. Not just the Presidential election but they got tarred in every close Senate race out there.

Now if we were in the real world we would ask ourselves what are the chances of Republicans picking up all 5 very close races even the one in Lousiana which has weird rules so that they didn't even have to have a run-off there. In the real world we would say that the probability of that happening was very low and look with some curiousity into the mechanics of how that happened. But this isn't the real world. It's bizarro world.

And in the bizarro world Republicans aren't ready to rule and Democrats aren't ready to win. Sad but true. So we will all suffer for it.

Gonna be rough times, but that's what we're in for now so no use complaining. Americans as a whole, whether by Republican stubbornness or Democratic fivoltry, have gotten us into this. Nothing to do for it but make the best of it.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Hold on Blogging,

It's not that I couldn't blog now but I would rather have my stuff not overshadowed by the US election right now. Most of the stuff that people seemed interested most in hearing from me on - economic blogging - is understandably not in the limelight at this moment for entirely reasonable reasons.

When this all settles down soon enough, or at least people get locked into their various struggles, assuming it doesn't all blow up in our faces I'll get back to blogging.

Maybe then ordinary long term economic analysis will be something everybody is ready to chew over instead of chewing their nails over the election.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Work for us now... or work for us later,

This is a yahoo / AP news item:

DURANGO, Colo. - A part-time college instructor has apologized for kicking a student because he was wearing a Republican shirt.

Fort Lewis College student Mark O'Donnell said he was showing people his College Republicans sweat shirt, which said "Work for us now ... or work for us later," when Maria Spero kicked him in the leg at an off-campus restaurant.

First let me say that impulsively kicking someone for wearing (even a dumb) shirt is foolish and wrong. I am of the opinion that barring racial, sexual, or other forms of harrassing, threatening, pornographic, or profane expressions that it's pretty silly and stupid to ban people for wearing clothes. Clothes are generally a harmless way for people to express themselves and generally I feel sorry for fashion victims rather than being offended by their outre tastes.

So clearly the instructor was out of line not to mention not being a very good role model.

However the content of the shirt's communication "Work for us now ... or work for us later," is at the very least heavy-handed in its humor and to me at least disturbing in its sentiment. There is at the very least an implied if vague menace along the lines of moral suasion.

"Do it if you know what's good for you." can depending on its tone and context for instance be construed as potentially coercive.

What's disturbing to me is that this kind of sentiment leak I'm afraid is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the real sentiments of what the movement has become. With people like Delay and Rove setting the tone at the top, this kind of sentiment is far more pervasive than for instance William F. Buckley who had the integrity to both disavow the Iraq war and suggest that the proper analogy for it was the French retreat from Algeria.