Tuesday, January 21, 2020

I think it's past time to stop saying "F Nazis."

I mean, I get it, but it's gotten so tired that people who think it's important to keep the momentum up are starting to sound like they're trying to normalize or otherwise advocate for some obscure fetish.

Not a good look.

Just consider it.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Some people use incredulity towards Transubstantiation as an excuse to abandon religion

I don’t know why, though. I mean, yeah, in particular it’s a tough doctrine; it has been since the beginning (see John 6 for an early account). But to doubt some mystical paradox just for not fitting into a tidy, cozy mindset?
God is transcendent. Some things are supposed to be beyond normal understanding.
I mean, sometimes General Relativity and quantum mechanics freak me out--what is matter, why is there such a thing as phase velocity beyond mathematical tidiness?--but when I get close to a mental BSOD, I stop thinking about it and go do something else; I don't start doubting my Garmin.
Okay, relativity and electronics are on some practical level comprehensible, quantifiable, but I think what's going on is ex-Catholics are just disenchanted and Transubstantiation is just an excuse.  After all, it's the Catholic Church that is big on the Real Presence, so if that's not real, who's to say I can't use birth control?
I have some sympathy, if not in that last case.  It's a critical tenet and the New Testament even talks about people who take ill and die for receiving unworthily, so people who abstain in good conscience are just being honest and humble.
So maybe I do know why.  It's just usually not packaged up with the excuses I do hear.

Friday, January 17, 2020

So Stephen King recently tweeted that he considers quality, not diversity, when picking award nominees...

and predictably the twittersphere put words in his mouth so they could punch him in it.

There was the usual "White people are racist, men prefer to read about boobs" prejudice they had to inflate with zero evidence regarding King's actual nomination choices, but my favorite was one that went something like "your assumption that quality and diversity are mutually exclusive is part of the problem."

Uh, he didn't assume that.  He didn't even overtly admit it.  You and your thought fascists did.

All he said was they're not the same thing.  And the twittersphere proved his point by signaling to the world that they intended to make their choices of things, not by their own diverse standards of quality, but primarily by skin color and genitalia.

Sure, some of them dressed it up with "you just don't get minority art because you won't allow it to exist," but in the end, their motives were to pander rather than celebrate beauty.

This is not the old days when knowing Bruce Lee was Chinese behind his Kato mask or seeing Nichelle Nichols in a clerical position was a towering victory for representation.  We know Octavia Butler's opinion on this--and her name, even--because whatever her background, there aren't fat, cigar-smoking Stephen Kings in oak-paneled salons planning her career over scotch and cigars.

Funny how these people turn around and think that if they did such things, it wouldn't just be fair play but the only morally right way to run society.  They don't seem to se that these abuses can't happen--there are others, but they aren't political, and politics are all that concerns them, even above the actual victims when there are any--in a society where there are no such salons full of freemasonic string-pullers or whatever the going conspiracy theory is.

King isn't excluding the possibility of women or minorities being capable of good work.  He's just not patronizing undeserving tokens because we've known for half a century that affirmative action breeds distrust and mediocrity whether backed by force of law or unwritten policy.

Because if they can be that great, they can win without you being dishonest.  And if you're not honest, how will anyone ever really know?

Thursday, January 09, 2020

"Imagine highways run by regulations written in 1791.  Imagine limiting yourself to medical care that was available in 1791.  The second amendment was written in 1791."

Socialized medicine didn't exist in 1791, and neither did compact fully automatic firearms.  Is your argument about technology, or about regulation?  Because you seem to be saying basically that regulation needs to keep up with technology, but your examples are contradictory.  Most of your examples are not based on principles enumerated in the Bill of Rights, but assume that technology will provide more options to citizens over time that not only need regulation but are good for citizens to have; but the same logic doesn't support the point you're really making, that advancements in firearm technology should not be regulated in a way that lets people have well designed guns but just shouldn't have them at all.

That's the problem with dishonest metaphors and analogies built around half truths:  it looks like you're making a point because of the symmetry in your argument, but it's got the same symmetry as "heads I win, tails you lose."

Monday, December 30, 2019

The problem with millennials is...

...we (or, their parents; whatever generation raised them) were a little too zealous in teaching them to pursue their dreams and prioritize their values.

These aren't bad things in and of themselves.  I'm actually looking forward to some serious disruption in the business world when companies that hide bad management and abuse behind "old school/hard core" attitudes find their pre-millennial headcount has dropped below critical mass.  And I'm not just saying that because I currently work for a place that can't keep an engineer for more than a year because they've drunk so much of their own Kool-Aid that they think making people work six twelve-hour shifts is righteous and they're the victims of a shallow hiring pool and can't staff three eight hour shifts, and that they think that people quitting before their first paycheck is funny, and that this is just how you keep your head above water instead of really trying to permanently solve manufacturing problems instead of...again, making people work 32 extra hours a week just to make up for all the bad product that got produced and to make up for all the overtime that has to get paid now to the people who are working all those hours.

Partly that, but not just that, see.

The problem is that we taught them the good side, and we seemed to have taught them a thing or two about hard work because they will commit themselves to their favorite causes, as least if you can get past the "retweet, put up a bumper sticker, show up in the streets but stay home from the polls" contingent, but we didn't teach them that "adulting" is hard and unavoidable.

,...I forgot where else I want to go with this.

Wait, I remember.  A thread on Pinterest:

"Millennial hate is a thing rich folks started because they're pissed we have unpredictable consumer habits."

There is a lot here and I would only amend one thing:  not "rich folks" so much as "marketing departments"--or "older generations," because there has never been one that did not lament the poor character of the newer generation (which I suppose is fair; if each one is worse than the last, it's because the last one had better mentors).  That's where advertising dovetails with social engineering.  Since consumer habits do seem to be changing--and you can take "seem" however you want for me to make my point--it's not unreasonable to report on it.

And for all you propeller-heads out there, yes, I'm simplifying.  Think of the story I'm telling as an example rather than an overarching narrative.

It's interesting how nobody takes the long view.  Millennials are the way they are because they were raised that way, by parents who were trying to pass on the hard lessons they learned growing up while trusting schools that have been encroaching on in loco parentis in ways Orwell might have predicted if he had written Winston Smith as a teenager.  But these parents work at companies that have said marketing departments, they see changes, and maybe they don't or didn't realize it's a result of how they raised their kids, maybe they don't see the connection between what their children tell them and how all the children of that generation eat and buy and live.  That's a pretty abstract thing for parents to be analyzing in their children, enough that it's hard to recognize before it's too late, but I would think our social so-imagined masters would be a little smarter about it...if, like I said, these weren't the same people.

So we're far enough into the Long March that "critical theory studies" is mixed into nearly everything that gets taught whether or not a student majors in it.  The elites--the ones who are raised by the people who are telling us what to think, not the ones who are told what to tell us to think; the ones who are above and immune to the tides of contemporary philosophy, not the ones who think by acting woke with enough zeal they can win some real security--are taught to feed it to America, not to eat it.  The rest of America is taught to eat it.  But are they allowing enough engineers to graduate and tradesmen to get certified who retain enough of a sense of objective reality and empirical data to keep our planes flying and computers running?

"Keep in mind the subprime mortgage crisis was a shaping event in our generation's lives."

Yeah, fine, but you seem to have missed the historical lesson:  the government leaned on banks to offer nonviable loans.  I'm sure plenty of bankers were happy to get more payments than they would have otherwise, but I have heard firsthand that banks by and large didn't want to do it because they knew it would be bad for business--that people who hadn't been able to afford to buy homes previously were in that situation more often because they had money management problems, and less often because they had a streak of bad luck.  So don't think the government is on your side.  They'll tell you they're helping, but borrowers and lenders on the whole both ended up worse off than they were before.  We all felt it, and we all know what it's like to live through it.

"Boomers refuse to pay a living wage to anyone and then wonder why people don't buy anything."

Uh, no.  Boomers only refused to raise the minimum wage to what might be considered a living wage in some places before the rise in minimum wage increased the cost of living in ways no one could predict.  More money doesn't help you buy more if you still can't afford things.  And people were buying things on minimum wage long before you came into the picture, so how are you different on this point?

"Millennials value meaningful work over lucrative work."

That's great, and I'm not just saying that to be patronizing, but part of adulting is putting up with parts of your life--and that includes your work--that just aren't great.  Go ahead, blame your parents and teachers, but don't expect us to listen if you complain about it but never try to strike a reasonable balance.  Another part of adulting is taking on responsibility for things passed down to you even if they're not your fault; you're not being blamed or condemned for wearing cultural hand-me-downs, you're just getting all there is to give (and that is not a comment on how much more wealth your elders already have than you do; twenty years from now, you'll be twenty years down that path, too).

"Millennials do not deal well with their great ideas being shut down."

Okay, that's a partially valid point, whether or not it's really a pithy criticism of your attitude, but my experience has been the opposite:  throwing people barely old enough to drink into management positions and chasing whatever fad they were taught was the final key to permanent business success, until next year when they hire the next round of bright idea pimps.  But still, "we do it this way because we've always done it this way" is not always bad--someone came up with the term "standard practices" and the notion stuck for a reason--but it's not sufficient justification to refuse to consider change.  I have also literally heard this said as an argument against changing a workflow I'm part of where I work:  "But if we change things, then they'll be different."  Um, yeah?  They're supposed to be different because there are problems that are making us want to change what we do so the problems go away.

"I'd love to buy a house but I can't be certain I'll have the same income levels for thirty years."

This is interesting.  Things really are different from how they were before in terms of how people hold jobs.  I've changed jobs half a dozen times in the last twenty years, and the only times a change didn't come with an increase in income was when I was in a transitional situation, which seemed normal but might not be any longer.  But people are changing jobs more often these days because they are choosing to.  Layoffs and furloughs and downsizing are not new concepts.

"Why can't I build a little house on a tiny lot?"

There are lots available.  They're cheaper outside the city, so you'd have to drive, but at least your property taxes would be low enough that maybe you could swing a car loan.  They're cheaper than most houses.

"What about sharing a house with my friends?  The zoning board won't allow that."

The zoning board doesn't know how many guests you have, or how long they're staying, or whether they have any mail directed to you because you have enough trust to watch out for each other like that, or if they're helping you with expenses.  Just like how if you buy a house capitalism doesn't force you to buy new furniture.

"My old fridge was older than I was, and when my new one broke, they said I should have bought the warranty."

Not getting the warranty was probably foolish.  Disagree?  Do the math.  At some point paying fifty bucks for five years isn't going to be worth the hassle of a fridge that won't keep cold, and I do agree that it's unfortunate that things are designed to be replaced rather than repaired--but don't forget a repairman's labor is more expensive than a new appliance; I sympathize with the Maytag repairman but that clock has been running forward since before your time and you will be lucky (possibly bad luck) to see the day when that clock turns back.  Oh, did you do the math while I was ranting?  No?  Let me give you a hint:  it's usually cheaper to insure than to rebuy.  That's how health care got into the problem it, frankly, is still in.  When you do the math you'll know where the tradeoff is.  Maybe in your case it wasn't foolish, but if you couldn't be bothered to make an educated guess, that's really where your problem is.

"New fridges have a $400 premium to get a convenient configuration."

Oh, grow the fuck up.  This is why old people tell "when I was your age" stories.  You can't get the shelves where you want?  Why is it so hard to reposition the shelves yourself?  Did your parents do that thorough a job of teaching you the way to succeed is to find meaningful work and asking anonymous collective other people to deal with your #firstworldproblems?

"Entry level positions require 3-5 years of experience."

Old problem, also all perception.  LinkedIn is just one resource that talks a lot about how job postings go for two things, the ideal candidate and the one with the same profile as the person who just left the job.  If you can't figure that out from people telling you, we can't solve it for you as a society, no matter how much of your own soap you make and how much of your own vegetables you grow.  Although those are good things too; capitalism's great, but fuck consumerism.

"Even trades have a $5k+ investment for training and equipment."

If you aren't going into teaching, work training is usually cheap because your employer wants you to be highly competent and skilled; and either way, there are tax write-offs for personally covering work expenses.  And if you really just want to work, and don't find trades to be too drudge to consider?  take some shop classes in college, befriend the neighborhood gearhead, find the college grease monkey club.  Learn some Spanish and go to a Home Depot at four in the morning and ask the guys out front what it's like.  Follow them where they go and you'll learn a few things.  They won't buy you hammers and tape measures, but they'll have something you can borrow to start out, and if you pick something up quick on your own because you're a self-starter or because some grizzled master welder took a cotton to you and gave you a salty version of "how can I help you succeed at your job?" you'll get to the point where you won't need a $5k class, you'll just need a certification test.  Or you'll have the $5k, if you're planning ahead.

I'm painting with a really broad brush here and I'm sure there are many specific situations where it really isn't as straightforward as I'm making it sound, but my point is just that you're not helpless victims in a new world, you're just normal.

"Ask not what your economy can do you for you, ask what you can do for your economy."

There are people in the economy, not just commodities.  I thought you wanted to help people in a  collective style.  The heart of capitalism is finding people with an unmet need, finding a way to meet it, and offering to exchange what they need for what you need.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

You want to condemn people who criticize children? Then stop hiding behind children.

Some time ago Greta Thunberg, Asperger's diagnosee and child of high profile dramatists, issued a preciously narcissistic and well sculpted wake-up call to the UN about climate change.

Some people called her out for speaking out of turn:  what does a teenager know, when adults can't even agree on the meaningfulness of consensus?  Are her parents using her as a prop for virtue signaling?  Why is this particular event worth making Greta miss days of school?

Other people called out those people for being mean:  Don't you know it's not nice or fair to talk to children that way?  Why can't you just listen to her message and get with the program and shrink your carbon footprint?

My opinion?  We should be encouraging our children to learn about and participate in matters of the world, in a way and to a degree that is appropriate for their level of development.  When they do well, praise them, but be constructive rather than obsequious.  If they don't do well, still be constructive, but be charitable.

If you're going to thrust them out into the professional league, though...be prepared for the fallout.

You're the parent/guardian.  It's on you if your prized, adorable shill comes home shamed and with emotional scars.  That's because you're the parent and are supposed to exercise some judgment in what your child is facing.  Stepping in front of the public eye isn't quite as foolhardy as dropping your kid over the wall into the pit at the reptile house for some good pics for social media, but everyone else except for tyrants and busybodies are going to assume that you're managing the situation appropriately for your child's maturity level and that you recognize that they do not answer to you.

So maybe in the past people were reluctant to criticize a teenager for her juvenile rhetoric out of a sense of fair play to her.  And maybe bystanders will rate that a win for you this time.  But next time they will remember that your arguments are childish and that you won't even defend them yourself.

And what about Greta?

President Trump tweeted at her thusly: Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!"

She replied by changing her Twitter status to "a teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend."


I'm not sure about this "up against a wall" thing, but I think she's going to be just fine.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Not so recently I was turned on the the long novenas of St. Bridget.


There's a one-year one consisting of 15 Paternosters, 15 Aves, and 15 particular prayers every day for a year.  There's another that consists of 7 and 7 and 7 that runs daily for twelve years.  Both concern the wounds Christ suffered during His Passion, and various promises of graces that convey holiness in this life, happiness in the next, and a commendable Christian death in between are attached to each.  The prayers for the former (there is a warning about the verbiage but proceed with prudence) are here.  A description of the latter can be found here.

Such undertakings daunt me.  Or, at least, they did.  I recently started saying the rosary on a daily basis, after some promptings I could not ignore, and when I realized I just needed to accept the time commitment it became easy (in the past I had tried to muscle my way through the fifteen minutes of sitting still and reciting Hail Marys, but now it can take 30 minutes and I hardly notice).  And I have been saying a decade of the St. Gertrude prayer daily since grad school, which was about 15 years ago, so if I had started the Bridgetine prayers at the same time I'd be done by now.

One thinks sometimes it would have been nice to be back in Biblical times to experience things firsthand (not the dysentery so much as the miracles).  I have at times been jealous of the grace given to people who were there to be recipients of it; I'm not cut out to be a bishop, but if I'd been in Palestine a couple thousand years ago maybe I could have been chosen as an Apostle, you know?

Yeah, that's not how it works and that's the wrong attitude, but jealousy isn't rational.

But recently a thought occurred to me:  whatever advantages people back then had, they didn't get all the same ones that are available to us now.  Look at some of the promises associated with other devotions that arose in the Middle Ages or later:
  • The Rosary:  destroy vice, decrease sin, defeat heresies
  • The Divine Mercy: even hardened sinners who say it will die a happy death
  • Brown Scapular: None who die wearing it (non-superstitiously!) will suffer eternal fire
  • First Fridays: all graces necessary to one's state in life and great blessings to all one's undertakings
  • First Saturdays: Mary herself promises to assist by bringing the graces needed for salvation
Maybe this day and age is lean on living saints we can go to beg for prayers or miracles face to face, but these devotions can sure make up the difference.

The First Fridays devotion, also known as the Sacred Heart, is of particular relevance here.  It was presaged in the 13th century during a mystical encounter between St. John and St. Gertrude, whom the evangelist invited to recline on Jesus' chest as he himself did at the Last Supper.  When she asked why he did not elaborate about the experience in his Gospel, St. John explained that such was reserved for a time in history when the Church's love for God would have grown cold.  Four centuries to the day later, Jesus revealed His Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary.

What devotions, what graces, will be made available to our distant descendants, who will be struggling to see Biblical history over the haufenmist of Modernism that looms in between, over our very heads today?