Friday, December 30, 2016

Maybe I just need to get off social media.

Teh stoopidz, it burnz.

I usually skip right over it, but I just spent twenty minutes chasing articles on Twitter looking for some sobriety.  What did I find instead?

Mockery of "deplorables" allegedly griping about the election being rigged and then backing down when a recount is proposed...but when does a faction that wins an election ever complain about corruption and demand recounts--and then, only in swing states they won, and not swing states they lost?  Red flags raised about allegedly alt-right Twitter feeds getting suspended, insinuating it's official and wannabe neo-Nazis who are getting censored but not really showing that it's not just a broad list of people who were reluctant to support Mama Hillary in her time of need, or at least not making it clear that censorship of people you mildly disagree with on some issues is bad no matter who you are.  Some doctored photos and quotes that probably also were doctored showing Obama emitting rainbows and threatening not to be so nice once he stepped down--rhetoric I haven't seen since his '08 campaign, rhetoric that was tellingly absent in '12.  Outrage about Trump doing personal deals and threatening national security, even though he's not in office.  Outrage once again at the failure of the electoral college, where eleven states can cinch the presidency...but somehow it would be okay for politicians to focus on Boswash, Chicago, and L.A., which if they thought it through would be sufficient in a strictly democratic system, because, y'know, this is modern America and we have modern needs.

Again, there's lots of stupid on the other side too, but one point I'm trying to make is these people whose security in social media seems assured don't even recognize the irony (to put it politely) of their concerns. 

And another point?  This is the status quo.  Things aren't any different from what they've been for the last, oh, eight to eighty, maybe even 190, years.  Act appalled all you want--things aren't perfect--but don't act shocked.  This goes for high level politicians as well as hoi polloi who voted for them.

Be mindful of the dangers of taking privileges that you wouldn't like your opponents also taking but in a different direction.  You can hold a tiger by the tail, but you can't hold a snake.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

So, in looking for other things, I found an image similar to the one below with a caption that read something like "Can we stop telling women what to do with their bodies?"

The irony puzzled me.  This wasn't the first piece of evidence I've found that the originator wasn't intellectually all that like most post-theistic "life is a tool and we are its master" types think they are, but it didn't seem like the most insightful juxtaposition.

So, a word to the wise:

This might be a picture of a girl, but it is not a woman's body.

Bodily autonomy is not the answer that cinches it for abortion.  It is the question.

You and we might be talking about issues that are related, but they are not one and the same issue.  Both sides need to be reminded of this from time to time.  And then we can actually have a discussion.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Some wisdom from Dan Lane, commenting over at According to Hoyt:
Why with all that extra time… [saved by having students memorize knowledge] You could actually *teach* instead of indoctrinate. ... Ah, heck, we can’t be having that, now can we?
Indeed not. Children who learn their lessons are harder to lie to. Children who are afforded a richer education for having memorized important/useful facts before they are mature enough to discern them from raw data and first principles are also going to be harder to confuse and mislead. In a word, they will be less gullible sheep than what our would-be betters would prefer to "take care of." Instead of just checking your kid's homework and making sure it's done and hopefully resisting the urge to "edit" the occasional mistake to make sure he gets a good grade, look at the curriculum itself. See what they're teaching and see what they're not teaching. Keep in mind that the weird things you see and the weird gaps you don't are not all just pedagogical fads.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

To be fair, I don't think highly of any of the candidates in a lot of ways; nor will I claim that they are without merit...

...but I do wonder, with the lousy "why can't they both lose?" and "they're obviously just different brands of the same party" candidates we've had the past several years: How many of the neocons, the fiscal conservatives who were socially liberal, who migrated Rightward in or around the 90s, were actually setting up a false flag operation that is coming to fruition today?

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Deceptive juxtaposition

I wonder if it's just where I work.

A few years ago I moved from a red state to a blue state.  The area I live in is in many ways like where I used to be, so it's easy for me to use the mental shorthand of thinking I'm in one of those place where it's actually a mostly red state that is overcompensated by some large, ultraviolet population centers, but then someone says something that I'm shocked to hear when I'm not on the Internet.

I may have mentioned a certain coworker before; nice young lady, smart, talks about how she grew up in a conservative redneck family--and they have their issues, I won't knock her that--and then how she got to college and her eyes were opened.  I appreciate her somewhat hipster taste in restaurants and breweries in the area, but I couldn't help teasing her once about professors saying "Didn't you know everything your parents taught you was a lie?" with a straight face.

Totally lost on her.  But also only tangent to my point.

She's a minority amongst the abortion supporters I cross pass with these days.  She likes to talk about how going to third world countries to "teach them about" contraception and abortion would be a great way to help bring education to women and bring their country to modernity.

The majority?  In the abstract, I hear talk about the real hardship cases, how it's a necessary last resort for lonely and helpless women in a real bind.

In the concrete, however, "real hardship" is a little nebulous.  One suggested a few weeks ago mandatory abortion for pregnant women who contract zika.  Another said to me that if she found out her teenaged daughter was pregnant, they'd immediately take a trip to Planned Parenthood; no discussion, no negotiation, no consideration for alternatives.  "So much for being a choice," I said.  "No!  She's not old enough to know what comes with motherhood!"  That argument would have gone in a different direction if her teenaged daughter weren't just hypothetical, but I did notice a pattern.

There's a lot of talk about the hardship cases.  But mostly there's a lot of people who want to preserve some right to a certain lifestyle, and they're willing to destroy real civil rights to get there.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Try again, Hulu, Microsoft, whoever you are....

Okay, so I was going to post some gripes a few weeks ago about how Hulu replaced the Favorites list with the Watchlist, because now it was mixing all the shows I want to watch with shows I no longer want to watch (either because I didn't like them after a few episodes or because the show had ended) all in a non-list format that was harder to apprehend in a glance.

It seemed I had to click on the shows I did want to watch every few weeks to see if there was an actual new episode, and then dig around to make sure the episode that started playing by default was the earliest unwatched episode or just the most recent one.  Turns out I only have to read the green flags in the corners of the show icons a little more closely to figure that out--admittedly there's no good way for Hulu to know if I stop watching a show after ten minutes because I don't like it or because I got interrupted--but defaulting to the latest episode after I've missed three is really bad functionality, and I still have to dig to find it how soon or how long ago an episode would have expired.  I used to be able to see all that at a glance, Hulu.  I'd understand if you were pelting me with more show suggestions to try to get me to watch more things, like how grocery stores put dairy in the back to maximize the number of people who have to walk past the largest amount of product, but that's not the experience they're giving me.

It also took me a while to figure out how to get the shows I'm done with off my Watchlist, but I'm still wondering about all the defunct shows I never got around to watching that didn't make the transfer.  Maybe I'm getting too old for technology, but I don't think that explains why Primer is still on there, but "The Aviators" isn't.

Lately I've also seen a similar change in the functionality to the programs I use at work, and it seems to be based on some aesthetic that is not the convenience of the user.  Why is it that when I edit a file and go to save it, Windows defaults the save location to the last place I saved a file of that type, instead of where the file already exists?  This was a problem developers solved in the 1980s.

And, Adobe?  You're guilty, too.  Let me turn off that infernal tool menu that pops up with every PDF I open and takes up a third of my window, and if you're going to bury commonly used functions under five levels of clicking instead of two, let me customize my toolbar and put it there, all right?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

I weep for the electorate

I read an alarming headline for some Internet editorial a while ago about how the electoral college is "destroying" democracy.  I didn't have the patience to watch it, so I don't know what direction it really went in, but I wondered about all the people who also stopped at the headline but didn't know any better and walked away thinking "Yeah, why shouldn't my vote directly apply to presidential races?"  I wondered if the guy who did the piece also didn't know any better or like the Democrats a few years ago acted surprised when the electoral votes didn't strictly line up with the popular vote (an inexcusable display of hypothetical ignorance from a politician, in my not so humble opinion), just to try to score rhetorical points with a public that has largely forgotten its civics lessons.

Listen:  presidential voting is representative in order to be more representative, not less. In a purely democratic system, candidates could woo the top half dozen population centers, ignore the other 80% of the country, and walk into the Oval Office.  It would just be the most expedient way to run a campaign.  It would also be unfair to people who lived too spread out to be reached except by social media or snail mail.  Yeah, they have to take the bad with the good of their lifestyle, but don't talk about fair representation in a system that would consistently disregard them as bad investments.  If a president could focus on three states and skip flyover country, why would he care about the disapproval of everyone else?  So the electoral college forces them to address a broader base.


I have a coworker who has been saying for months, in his defense of Bernie Sanders "Socialism isn't what everyone says it is!  It's the exact opposite!"  I didn't have the stomach to probe, but recently someone else did, and hence I have some material to write about.  He wasn't satisfied when our resident lawyer read an online definition of socialism as being a system that has common ownership of all means of production and no private property.  Instead he tried to explain how socialism doesn't mean government control of businesses, just that the people get to have a say in how businesses are run.

He's not stupid, but apparently he didn't ask himself the question about how the people are supposed to "have a say" in how, well, everyone else's business is run:  basically, it would have to be either the government somehow granted authority to impose its will on the people's behalf, or something so much like that as to be practically indistinguishable.

I like Bernie; he seems to be the most human candidate still out there mixing it up with the electorate.  But some sort of large scale town hall meeting where every business decision and property variance is ratified by consensus is not going to be what any stripe of socialist would be able to bring us.

Maybe we're just not "ready for it," as yet another coworker put it.  I shudder to think of us being conditioned to gleefully accept all the baggage that comes with American liberalism, or of us being so ground down as to be willing to tolerate it as just another circumstance.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Idolatry, or not

One of the dumbest claims I've heard lately against Catholicism is that the Vatican "took out" the prohibition of idolatry or "removed the second commandment."  Sometimes they'll say it was "taken out of the teaching," as if by simply neglecting the subject, Rome could trick people into worshipping the statues (for some reason) that decorate Catholic churches.  Other times they'll actually say it was "taken out of the Bible," which they generally will explain, if you insist they justify their argument and in return show them a Catholic Bible that doesn't cite some spurious Nonalogue or have any textual gaps with the KJV, as "the second commandment was hidden between the first and third commandments with the way the text was laid out so Catholics wouldn't notice."  Basically that's saying Rome wants everyone to worship statues, so they messed with the punctuation and hoped nobody would ever look closely at the text or talk to someone with less pathetic reading comprehension skills about the Nine or Ten Commandments.  

I can only think they believe these accusations to hold any merit or possess any ability to convince anyone because their failure to distinguish idolatry from the mere presence of statuary in the argument stems from a cognitive failure that prevents them from recognizing the distinction.  Maybe they had some intent of targeting the veneration of saints as a practice, which I would understand, but when they follow up with "Where in the Bible does it say to worship Mary or the pope?" I realize I don't have a logic I can reach them with.  So, please, folks, if these are among the sharper arrows in your quiver, just please... rest in the knowledge that you're not going to win any converts by using them.
I've seen the same thing used to reject purgatory.  "It's, like, a second chance at salvation."  "No, it's not.  Only people who are saved go to purgatory.  Catholics just have a different understanding of how saving and sanctifying grace are applied to the saved soul.  If you're saved but still have some propensity to stumbling or backsliding in specific or habitual ways, purgatory is the stage or process by which that is rectified.  The damned don't get, or want, the option.  After the moment of death, you don't have anyone left on the fence who might choose a third option."  "Well, it still looks like a second chance at salvation."  "Well, 'what it looks like' isn't an argument."
Indeed, the teaching goes beyond the cliched overzealous affection for statues.  A higher standard is held out, one which should look familiar to almost everyone:
But back to that overzealous affection for statues and such:

For the record, here's the KJV's version of the first three commandments:

I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.  Thou shalt have no other gods before me.  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;  And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.  Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.  Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:  10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:  11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

And here's the NAB version:

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall not have other gods beside me. You shall not make for yourself an idol or a likeness of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or serve them. For I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their ancestors’ wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but showing love down to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. You shall not invoke the name of the Lord, your God, in vain. For the Lord will not leave unpunished anyone who invokes his name in vain. Remember the sabbath day—keep it holy.Six days you may labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God. You shall not do any work, either you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your work animal, or the resident alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
If you insist on relying on the incidence of widespread failure of reading comprehension to argue that ecclesial conspirators want to go against the Bible while keeping up appearances, it's an indictment of your position, not evidence for it.

And here's the Catechism on idolatry (paragraph 2084 through 2141), which I will abbreviate for convenience:
"The first word contains the first commandment of the Law: "You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve him. . . . You shall not go after other gods."5 God's first call and just demand is that man accept him and worship him." ... "The one and true God first reveals his glory to Israel. The revelation of the vocation and truth of man is linked to the revelation of God. Man's vocation is to make God manifest by acting in conformity with his creation 'in the image and likeness of God': There will never be another God, Trypho, and there has been no other since the world began." ... "When we say 'God' we confess a constant, unchangeable being, always the same, faithful and just, without any evil. It follows that we must necessarily accept his words and have complete faith in him and acknowledge his authority. He is almighty, merciful, and infinitely beneficent. Who could not place all hope in him? Who could not love him when contemplating the treasures of goodness and love he has poured out on us? Hence the formula God employs in the Scripture at the beginning and end of his commandments: 'I am the LORD.'" ... "Adoration is the first act of the virtue of religion. To adore God is to acknowledge him as God, as the Creator and Savior, the Lord and Master of everything that exists, as infinite and merciful Love. "You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve," says Jesus, citing Deuteronomy." ... "The first commandment forbids honoring gods other than the one Lord who has revealed himself to his people. It proscribes superstition and irreligion." ... "The first commandment condemns polytheism. It requires man neither to believe in, nor to venerate, other divinities than the one true God." 

"Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, 'You cannot serve God and mammon.' Many martyrs died for not adoring 'the Beast' refusing even to simulate such worship." 

"The divine injunction included the prohibition of every representation of God by the hand of man." ... "Nevertheless, already in the Old Testament, God ordained or permitted the making of images that pointed symbolically toward salvation by the incarnate Word: so it was with the bronze serpent, the ark of the covenant, and the cherubim." ... "The honor paid to sacred images is a “respectful veneration,” not the adoration due to God alone:Religious worship is not directed to images in themselves, considered as mere things, but under their distinctive aspect as images leading us on to God incarnate. The movement toward the image does not terminate in it as image, but tends toward that whose image it is."  

Thus, anyone arguing otherwise is misinformed, or spreading disinformation, be he Catholic or anti-Catholic.  You can argue against the rate of iconolatry, but don't argue about its endorsement.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

I should never have given my boss my personal cell phone number....

He always could have gotten it from HR, but now it's all "Are you coming in Saturday?" and "Can you be here Sunday at nine AM?"

Granted, he's less demanding of my time than past bosses, but they just demanded long hours and didn't talk about it; now, if I say "No," then I'm the bad guy.

Caveat operator:  don't let them think you're negotiating casual overtime (if you're exempt) or on-call/no-advance-planning scheduling.

I even had to tell my boss once that I refused to work Sundays because I can normally get the work I am personally responsible for in fewer than six days ("You shouldn't have to work Saturdays," he said; "I know I shouldn't," I replied, "but the way things stand right now, I nevertheless do"), and if the people who "need" me to assist or cover for them a little can't get that taken care of in the 86% of the week I'm in the office, then they need to plan better.  He agreed, but he still asks.