Archive for January, 2014

2014/01/31

But it’s not that simple

On Twitter I follow a few rational-seeming right-wing types, to try to avoid the echo-chamber effect, and yesterday one of them posted about the big kerfuffle where MSNBC implied that the Right Wing might not like interracial marriage, saying how offensive it was and all.

I replied, as one does, saying that, um well, isn’t disliking interracial marriage sort of a Right Wing thing, after all? One of the other people in the thread gasped at how horribly offensive I was being, and we went back and forth a little with me trying to suggest that certain attitudes about race really are, as a matter of historical fact, associated with certain political factions, and they (from my point of view) ducked and weaved a little and then got quiet. I was really impressed, though, with how thoroughly the person seemed to live in a world where interracial marriage (and maybe even same-sex marriage) weren’t a right-left issue at all, and right wing racism was just an offensive myth.

In trying to decide whether to follow this person also, I looked at their earlier “tweets” (and ultimately decided not to follow them), one of which was something that reminded me strongly of the kind of thing that I might have posted like 25 years ago myself, if posting was something people did then, back when I still identified as Libertarian.

And since I seem to be never getting around to that Grand Unified Why I Am Not A Libertarian Anymore posting, I thought I’d at least post about this.

The “tweet” in question was an image, one of those “image that is basically just text” images that social media so loves. It said:

The Rich Man, the Poor Man, and the Politician
A Tale of Income Inequality

There is a rich man and a poor man.
The rich man makes $1000 a day.
The poor man makes $10 a day.
The difference in their income is $1000 – $10 = $990 a day.

The rich man builds a factory.
Now the rich man makes $2000 a day.
He gives the poor man a job at the factory.
Now the poor man makes $100 a day.
The difference in their income is $2000 – $100 = $1900 a day.

A politician decides the “income gap” has grown too large.
He taxes the rich man $1000 a day, gives it to the poor man.
The rich man can no longer afford to run the factory.
He closes the factory. The poor man loses his job.

Everything is as it was before.
And the politician takes credit for “closing the income gap”.

This is a cute Just So story, very typical of, maybe even a little more complex than, the average Libertarian Just So story.

But, like all of them, it leaves out so much that it ends up pretty much completely irrelevant to reality.

These people really need to read “The Jungle” or something.

But short of that, here’s a slightly more realistic version of the story.

The Rich Man, the Poor Man, and the Politician
A Tale of Inequality

There is a rich man and a poor man.
The rich man makes $1000 a day.
The poor man makes $10 a day.
The difference in their income is $1000 – $10 = $990 a day.

The rich man builds a factory.
Now the rich man makes $20,000 a day.
He gives the poor man a job at the factory.
Now the poor man makes $100 a day.
The difference in their income is $20000 – $100 = $19900 a day.

The rich man’s factory pollutes the air that the poor man breathes.
The products the factory produces are poorly-made.
The poor man’s working conditions are dangerous and unhealthy.
The health insurance the poor man buys from the rich man’s insurance company
will drop him on a technicality if he gets sick.
Once he’s too old to work, he will have nothing.
Taking into account actual quality of life and not just money,
The difference in their income is $20,000 – $5 = 19,995 a day.

A politician decides there is too much “inequality”.
He taxes the rich man $8,000 a day, and the government uses that:
To enforce laws on clean air, product safety, and working conditions.
Not to mention Obamacare. :)
To provide the poor man with Social Security.
And to prevent unfair labor practices.
The poor man joins the union and his pay rises to $200 a day.
The rich man can still afford to run the factory;
after all he’s still making $11,800 a day.
Taking into account actual quality of life and not just money,
The difference in their income is $11,800 – $200 = 11,600 a day.

Which is still quite a lot, but
the politician can take some credit for “reducing inequality”.
And things are generally fairer and cleaner.

Sadly that second one won’t really fit on a Twitter placard…

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2014/01/30

Four webcomics

So here, randomly, are four webcomics that I’ve become more or less addicted to.

(Or maybe not so much randomly, as so I don’t forget myself!)

These are all of the “have a wonderful time binge-reading all the existing ones for hours when you first discover them, and be suddenly distraught when you get to the latest ones and the Next button stops working, and you have to wait a day or a week for the next one waaaahh” kind.

So you can do that. :)

Questionable Content: I wouldn’t really expect to like this so much, as it’s mostly just squishy relationship stuff among a bunch of vaguely artsy vaguely techie young persons in some urban setting, with just a bit of SF thrown in here and there (there’s a whole “we have working AI” subplot that showed up more earlier on and not so much lately). But I do! I guess I like the people, and they are fun to hang around. (The art has evolved amazingly since the beginning.) Updated weekdays, I think.

Sinfest: Very cool metaphorical or surreal or fantasy or something strips, but with realistic and sympathetic characters (some of them demons, robots, God, the Devil, Buddha, the artist, his pets, etc). Interesting development of characters and themes over time. Updated I dunno several times a week?

Oglaf: haha woot! Funny sick twisted sexy usually-pornographic comics about anything and everything, often in a medieval-fantasy sort of setting. Some recurring characters and themes and plots, but also just craziness. And porn. Not for the easily offended. :) Updated like Sundays or something.

Cura Te Ipsum: a great and wonderfully-drawn SF novel of a comic, about a guy who goes around with a bunch of alternate-universe versions of himself, including some female ones, some that are kids, a few that want to kill them all (himself last), and so on. A bit of the feel of Gerrold’s classic, but with more mystery and character development and a gory antagonist and so on; doesn’t feel at all derivative. Also it’s a comic! (And there’s an active fanbase that comments extensively on each page, and either praises or whines about the frequent use of Latin, Dr. Who references, and so on; but I haven’t read all that many of the comments, because the story is the important thing.) Just got to the “oh no I’m caught up!” stage on this one last weekend, and am still in withdrawl. Updated Monday Wednesday Friday, which is not often enough wahhh!

Suggestions for other worthwhile webcomics welcome in the comments, which we do have a comments section for down there ya know!

:)

2014/01/28

Thank you, Pete

My one hope is that the guitar’s going to be mightier than the bomb.
–Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger – Singer, Songwriter, Activist – Dies at 94

THIS LAND IS OUR LAND: GOODBYE PETE SEEGER, 1919-2014

A Moment Of Pete: When Pete Seeger Murdered HUAC, Just Like A Communist

A MOMENT OF PETE: THIS BANJO SURROUNDS HATE AND FORCES IT TO SURRENDER

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2014/01/25

Warm and Cold Places

Ooh, it’s snowing again!

So the other day (when was that?) when it was very cold, I decided to see a little more of the city, and I went up the stairs and walked on the surface (surface!) from Grand Central Station to Times Square (the route of the S train, basically).

And it was very cold!

In fact I had intended to walk all the way to the Port Authority Bus Terminal (on 8th Avenue, where one picks up the ACE line), but it was so cold that by the time I came across a subway entrance down into Time Square Station I plunged down eagerly.

Also I had forgotten my gloves, but was was okay because I just kept my hands in my coat pockets. Except when I had to take them out to use my phone as a scanner in order to interact with portals and such.

Because I am playing Ingress on my new Smart-o-Phone!

Ingress is a fun ARG (Augmented Reality Game) sort of game that makes you actually move about in the real world and be near certain locations and stuff when you push buttons on your phone, in order to deal with the XM Satellite Radio signals (or something) that are leaking into the world and something something portals and mind-control fields and stuff and also lots of videos that I have not watched.

Your phone, in the game, uses a network of orbital satellites, originally launched for the military, that enables it to tell where you are in the real world to within, in good conditions, like a few feet.

Oh wait, that part is in real life.

Weird.

So that is being cold and playing Ingress!

There are lots of other things I have been wanting to weblogify about, but I don’t necessarily remember them all, but I will not let that stop me.

Of course it would help if I could remember what I have already weblogified about, but that is easily done! One moment…

Ha, I see I wanted to weblogify about Ingress, and I have now done that. A little at least. Maybe I should mention that as a neophile I am in the Enlightened faction rather than the Resistance (of course we should cooperate with whatever force is sending mysterious energy into the world to boost mankind into the next phase of evolution; what could possibly go wrong?) (also it reminds me of SMAC, which is nostalgic), and I am currently level (um) five of eight (where each level requires twice as many Whatever Points to achieve than the one before, like old-fashioned Dungeons and Dragons, so eight is wayyyyy off).

Oh, and adventures! Yes yes, that is really the main thing I wanted to write about, because woot.

The other day (longer ago than the day that I did the walking on the surface thing, I think), there was this snowstorm during the day while I was at work, and also it was very cold, and it took me about two hours to make the usually-twenty-minutes trip from The Station to home.

This was because, while not all that deep, the snow was beautiful and fine and powdery and very cold, so driving on it was sort of like driving on lots of little hills and drifts made of teeny tiny ballbearings, which is a thing that ordinary two-wheel-drive cars are not all that good at.

(Here is an Instragram of the faithful car waiting for me in the parking lot, with tiny ballbearings all over it.)

At first it was pretty much fine, driving along the local highway, as long as I did not try to go too fast, and was careful to restrain the car’s natural desire to slide gradually off of the road and into the comfy ditch at the edge.

Then I had to turn off of the local highway onto the even more local highway, and as soon as I turned the wheel slightly the car got very enthusiastic about the whole turning thing, and I left the road several yards before the actual exit ramp, and excitingly went around the wrong side of the Exit sign and up a little bank and down the other side, trying to work the controls so that the car would not stop there in a disrecommended place, and was successful enough that the car and I slid right back onto the exit ramp, about halfway along, and fortunately no one was coming because we continued (if I am remembering right) to slide right through the red light and onto the even more local highway which was where we were trying to be.

So that worked out. :)

Then the even more local highway was fine until I got about even with The Mall, from which point on the road I could tell that the Big Hill leading up toward home was all covered with vehicles with flashing lights and things, so I turned (carefully) into the parking lot of The Mall since there wasn’t anything else obvious to do, and parked, and SMS’d M about how there would be a delay in getting home.

Also I went into the bank’s ATM place to get money out since i was short on cash anyway, and to recharge my phone which was short on electricity and they have a plug there.

(Here is an Instagram taken from inside the bank’s ATM place.)

I clomped about out in the snow a bit (there were very very few other cars or people around; I don’t know what all those other people on the train and parked in the station parking lot ended up doing; very mysterious), and walked over to the bottom of the Big Hill and found out from the fireperson there that the Hill was not closed due to the tiny ballbearings on the road, but rather due to a fire that had happened on a road just off the even more local highway, on the hill, and it would probably be awhile before it was open again.

And from my prior experience, trying to get up the hill in the car over the tiny ballbearings would probably not have gone well even with no emergency vehicles or fires or blinking lights involved.

So I got back in the car again and tried to go around the other way, but found I could not go up even the relatively small rise in the street leading back around the other way, so I stopped at a little (and surprisingly open) convenience store opposite that street, and bought hot coffee, and a muffin, and some of those irresistible soft chocolate chip cookies that come in boxes. And a banana.

Then since I had seen a plow-looking thing go by and there was a good run for getting up to speed by starting from the convenience store parking lot, I tried the street again, and got over the rise, and slid successfully down the other side and onto yet another local highway, and around various corners and through lights and things to within site of The Other Big Hill that was the last thing in the way of getting home.

The whole going-the-other-way thing had been problematic mostly because of this Other Big Hill, which is quite steep for trying to get up in the prevailing ballbearing conditions, but does have a nice long run before it for getting up to speed, so I did the obvious thing and sort of slid up the hill at a comparatively dizzying rate, and skewed around onto Our Street which is a bit before the top of the hill, and slid down Our Street and fishtailed slightly into the driveway and was home.

Woot!

And we had cookies (and a banana) to go with the delicious chili (or possibly chilli or chile) that M had waiting for me. (Here is an Instragram of that; yum!)

So that is those adventures. I do love the winter!

(Oh, and if you are in the neighborhood you should go to the Steampunk Coffeehouse! Because it is good!)