Why do we have “foodstuffs”, but no other stuffs? What about “clothingstuffs”? Or “drinkstuffs”? “sexstuffs, drugstuffs, rockandrollstuffs!”
It’s an odd world.
The Ghost of Dibble Hollow
So driving the little boy home from orchestra, we heard something on WNYC about Christopher Columbus, and that reminded me of how in at least some movie version of Little Women or something the protagonist would exclaim “Christopher Columbus!”, and that on the old (old!) Superman teevee show Perry White would exclaim “Great Caesar’s Ghost!” (which in at least one episode caused that ghost, or someone pretending to be him, to appear), and that in some book that I read as a child there was a ghost (coincidence, that) who would exclaim “Crimenentlies!” or something by way of a satisfying exclamation that would not get them in trouble with the grownups.
I told the little boy that I suspected the book was “The Ghost of Dibble Hollow”, and I wondered if that book was on the web. It is, in fact it is more or less all over the place, including many copies of the same cover that my edition had.
And for that matter there is even one person mentioning it for exactly the same reason I am here, albeit with the exclamation spelt slightly differently.
That was a good book. I haven’t read any kid books recently; I really should. Doesn’t take long, and is good for the soul. Maybe I’ll reread A Wrinkle in Time or somefing.
The kind of libertarian I still am
So reading Griftopia has, at least for the moment, substantially changed the sort of libertarian I am. The change centers around an observation something like “small government would be great, if we had only small crimes”.
The thoroughgoing libertarian will probably respond to this by saying that the only reason we have big crimes now is precisely that we have big government, but that does not seem very likely to me. Certainly the massive fraud perpetrated by Goldman-Sachs and friends in recent years did exploit the government in lots of ways, but it also exploited investors big and small, and various other parts of the private sector. I see no reason to think that if the government was small, there would not be other things (large popular investment firms, pension plans, leading banks) that would be large, and these (and large numbers of private persons) could easily be defrauded of enough money that the fraudsters would be rich enough to buy off the government and prevent their own prosecution.
So, sadly, I think we need a relatively large and expensive government, if only to keep an eye on the inevitable large and wealthy potential criminal organizations. (Not to mention defending the borders.) Of course it’s still a hard fight to keep it from getting corrupted, too! But at least it seems like there’s a fighting chance.
My Second Life self has a Twitter account, which started out being all Second Life type twitterings, but recently has started to be about more and more political stuff, as I observe with benign interest the Occupy Wall Street folks and etc, and get into the occasional squabble with some right-wing type, one or two of which I follow (“follow”) out of general interest.
Had a bit of a frank exchange of views with one Joe Brooks, who seems to be sort of a halfway sensible conservative, at least sometimes. He is quite anti-Occupy, and more pro-TeaParty, whereas I am rather the opposite. He thinks Occupy Wall Street and so on were started by and are controlled by Communists and Labor Unions and things, whereas I think the Tea Party was started by and is controlled by the Koch Brothers, their (shudder) Americans for Prosperity, and the Republican machine in general.
My impression of the Tea Party is that they took some “stop giving money to rich people!” sentiment around the time of the TARP bailouts, added some “Lower my taxes!” to obtain a general “The Government should tax and spend less!” which could then easily be bent into “Less government regulation!”, which is of course exactly what the rich people want, so that they can continue to become richer, some of them by more or less blatantly illegal and/or immoral means. Quite an ironic circularity there.
I can well imagine someone co-opting the Occupy Wall Street folks’s “stop financial industry fraud!” into “more regulation of Wall Street” and then “more regulation of business” and then “more government power”, which tends to become “more power to the already powerful!”, which is again what various of the bad guys want.
So one has to be careful. But in the case of Occupy, I don’t think that’s happened (yet?).
Here is a very excellent open letter and warning from a former tea party movement adherent to the Occupy Wall Street movement all about co-optation and stuff. Everyone should read it.
The kind of Obama fan I (still) am(n’t)
So I am really not hardly at all happy with Our President.
I mean, WTF.
Got rid of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell; that’s good. But…
He’s surrounded by the same Goldman-Sachs crowd that destroyed the economy for their own personal gain, and they are as far as I can tell now working to make sure that they and their cronies still in the private sector can do it again next time they want another few billion dollars in the kitty.
He’s not turned off the absurd waste of Federal money on the stupid and immoral practice of prosecuting and persecuting medical marijuana providers who are doing things that are completely legal under their state laws. He promised he would do this, and he very simply isn’t.
He’s kept us in stupid wars, expanded those wars, and gotten us into new ones. He pretty much promised that he would do this, too, but I think most of us assumed he was just saying that to get votes. That’ll teach us to hope that someone is being a hypocrite!
(In, ironically enough, his Peace Prize speech, he basically announces that America will wage war not just to defend itself and its allies, but to make sure that every nation in the world respects “the inherent rights and dignity of every individual”. I mean, excuse me? Not with my children, you don’t!)
He has claimed the amazing ability to execute American citizens without trial, on the unilateral say-so of the President. I mean, what the F’ing F? This is completely hideous, unconstitutional, unAmerican, nasty, dangerous, and wrong. We were horrified when Dubya merely claimed the ability to imprison (“detain”) citizens without due process. How can we be calm when Obama claims the ability to kill us?
Anyone who is thinking, well, this was a special case, and it was Obama after all, please consider:
2014, President Romney dies from a bad batch of Botox, and Vice-President Bachmann gets the top spot. Shortly afterward she has a vivid dream in which God tells her that America is at war with atheism.
Two weeks later simultaneous drone strokes take out the national headquarters of American Atheists and the Ethical Culture Society, as well as Richard Dawkins, in the U.S. on a speaking tour. Casualties are in the hundreds.
The Bachmann administration claims that it was a legal national security action, and cites the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki as precedent.
Couldn’t happen? Well, if the Obama administration’s assassination of al-Awlaki was legal, you will have to explain to me why the hell not.
This is why we have warrants, judges, checks and balances, separation of powers.
So the President seems to be a not particularly Progressive statist with ambitions of American expansionism. The potential Republican nominees are all either insane, lying hypocrites, or both. I am not overjoyed!
But this, too, shall pass.
In other news
Here is a Stanford (related) AI class that anyone in the world can take and apparently some hundreds of thousands of people intend to. I understand their servers are needing some upgrading. :)
And today’s candidate for Shortest 419 Letter, presented in its entirely:
Be my partner in this huge $17.3M deal.
The evils of convenience
I am pretty fond of this here WordPress theme. On the other hand I am not fond of the right-justification (nearly always a bad idea on computers except in the most thoroughly-typeset documents), nor of the egregious grey lines around all my images. Guess that is the price I pay for not having to hand-code and SCP-upload all these here words!