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Echoes and Mirrors » evil villian

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Is it so Absurd? An Argument About Class and Access

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

Recently, I celebrated a birthday. What happens on my birthday every year is that I also have to renew my vehicle registration.

The Ohio BMV (Does that not sound like a child mispronouncing DMV? Ohio, you are a joke.) was within walking distance from campus. So, on my birthday, I walked from school down there to find out that they moved across town. I wasn’t upset about having to give the state money on my birthday; I’ve had to renew vehicle registration for years and I was working anyway. No big deal.

But when I got there, I found a sign informing me that they’d moved to a location clear across town. One that I couldn’t walk to. Inside the mall. Which is important because by time I got out of work, they were closed and I couldn’t drive.

Now, I’ve been trying to make time to take a bus out to the new location, which simply hasn’t worked with their hours and my work schedule being about evenly matched.

Granted, I could have done my renewal prior to the last day possible. But I drive maybe once a week and hadn’t driven anywhere in almost three weeks leading up to it. I just forgot about it. I live in town and generally walk everywhere.

And so I suppose I would be inclined to argue that moving an essential government office to a location that can only be reached by motor vehicle presupposes an ability to either spend an hour or two taking public transit or the ability to legally drive already. Having a car or other motor vehicle is really more of a necessity than a privilege outside of major metropolitan areas.

Also consider those who are simply attempting to get a valid identification card (and can’t drive, by choice or otherwise). They now have to find some sort of transportation to the office instead of being able to walk.

This strikes me as a form of class warfare. A minor blow, perhaps, but it makes assumptions about minimum ability. Specifically, it makes an assumption of what I would call a middle class ability, or middle class access. That is access to either the time to arrange for transportation or the transportation itself.

Having access and having convenient access are completely different things. Purposeful inconvenience is a method of restricting the level of access and is somewhat evil. Coincidental inconvenience, on the other hand, would simply be a form of ignorance. I’m not sure what we’re dealing with in this case but I would highly doubt any intent was had. It seems more like someone simply didn’t consider the broader consequences of moving the BMV. That is, they did not consider anyone with less than a certain level of access.


Yelling at the Grass For Being The Wrong Shade of Green

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Americans Should Be Able to Sell Stuff Without a Permit

The normal mindset among U.S. officials is that prior permission should be required to sell legal goods to a willing buyer. Kids selling lemonade on the street are shut down. A Missouri man has been fined $90,000 for selling rabbits (he made about $200). In Illinois, an artisan ice cream maker is being shut down for lack of a dairy permit. Manuel Winn was arrested, handcuffed, and booked for selling magazines door-to-door without a permit. A Maryland mother of three was arrested for selling $2 phone cards without a license. Lots of municipalities are going after food trucks. A group of Louisiana monks had to go to court to win the right to sell simple wooden caskets to consumers.

Hey now, if papa government doesn’t get his cut then these so-called entrepreneurs are doing a disservice to America, obviously. And bigger companies/corporations are easier to get bigger cuts from. When it comes to forcing businesses to follow regulations all these little businesses become a burden on the bureaucracy. Government loves big-business, because big business funds campaigns and is willing to pay the government all sorts of regulatory fees to stay off their backs.

I just finished reading Milosz’s The Captive Mind, and I’m reminded of a frightening section of that book recounting the way the totalitarianism of Stalin’s communism couldn’t abide by even one person being in business for themselves. Only here we have the government insisting that every single business transaction be closely monitored and shut down if it doesn’t meet their exacting standards, not crushed/killed. This is what libertarians really mean when they say we need deregulation in business:

These needless, onerous regulations would be objectionable at any time. But they’re particularly problematic when many Americans find themselves unemployed, needful of income, and thrust into the position of doing what they can to get by. That may mean a series of garage sales, or selling fruit from a backyard tree, or making a craft to offer for sale on the street, or going door-to-door offering handyman skills, or any number of other informal businesses. We’re making things harder on the least advantaged among us, and some are forced to take more social welfare because laws prevent them from making a living on their own.

This isn’t a jeremiad against all government regulation. Should commercial airline pilots be required to have a license? Sure. Are zoning restrictions sometimes legitimate? Of course. But is society really going to suffer if lemonade vendors, casket makers and purveyors of $2 phone cards sell their wares without permission? The default should be that free citizens can engage in commerce with one another, sans any prior restraint by federal, state, or local governments. It’s time to deregulate.

It’s not a matter of everything being a total free-for-all, but nobody should have to ask permission to go into business for themselves if said business has no repercussions on others. This is one of the biggest ways people have confused libertarianism. That Salon publishes articles like “Why libertarians apologize for autocracy” doesn’t help. Of course, Roderick Long made a very concise and clear rebuttal of the bizarre misinterpretation of libertarianism by Lind:

One reason for Lind’s conflation is that he automatically translates being anti-democracy into being pro-autocracy — because he assumes that the only alternative to democracy is autocracy. But in fact there is a third option; rather than the many dictating to the few or the few dictating to the many, what libertarians seek is a world where nobody is in a position to dictate to anybody — or at least to get as close to that situation as possible. (It might be argued that such a system actually has a better claim to the term “democracy” than those regimes that typically receive that label.) For anarchist libertarians, this means replacing the state entirely with networks of voluntary association; for minarchist libertarians, it means structuring the machinery of government in such a way as to make it as difficult as possible to abuse.

In other words, libertarians don’t oppose democracy (in the conventional sense) because they hanker after autocracy; they oppose democracy because it is too much like autocracy.

And even this point assumes, generously, that existing democracies really are majoritarian. As many libertarians have argued, the logic of monopoly government and special-interest capture explains why real-life “democracies” tend to be plutocratic oligarchies in democratic trappings.

There you go: criticism of democracy, in a quick youtube video. Obviously, that means I favor autocracy because I don’t think that democracy works justly. I think many naysayers of libertarianism (as Roderick points out in the linked article) are simply making an either-or fallacy. There aren’t only two options, but the one advocated by the left libertarians is so mindblowingly unheard of that most people dismiss it before they even hear an explanation.


In Which I End Up Sounding Like a Conspiracy Theorist

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

I’m not big on conspiracy theories. Some are more entertaining than others, sure. And some are right in pointing out that something isn’t right in re whatever it is they’re theorizing conspiracies about. And I have one of my own.

I’m really concerned that I haven’t heard much really about this:

Artificial Leaf Could Be More Efficient Than the Real Thing
Speaking at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in California, MIT professor Daniel Nocera claims to have created an artificial leaf made from stable and inexpensive materials that mimics nature’s photosynthesis process.

The device is an advanced solar cell, no bigger than a typical playing card, which is left floating in a pool of water. Then, much like a natural leaf, it uses sunlight to split the water into its two core components, oxygen and hydrogen, which are stored in a fuel cell to be used when producing electricity.

Nocera’s leaf is stable — operating continuously for at least 45 hours without a drop in activity in preliminary tests — and made of widely available, inexpensive materials — like silicon, electronics and chemical catalysts. It’s also powerful, as much as 10 times more efficient at carrying out photosynthesis than a natural leaf.

With a single gallon of water, Nocera says, the chip could produce enough electricity to power a house in a developing country for an entire day. Provide every house on the planet with an artificial leaf and we could satisfy our 14-terrawatt need with just one gallon of water a day.

And it’s ready for production use. A gallon of water per day (probably more like 3-4 for American households, but really, that’s still not very much). In fact, they’re going to make them. And sell them in third-world countries that lack centralized power grids.

Couple it with a little wind turbine and a solar panel, and you’ll never pay for electricity again.

But we will never see this in America. Except as a niche market sold to eco-warriors and survivalists. (Not that anyone seems to have much of a problem with either group, but most of those who claim association are readily identified in some way as a nut.) Now here’s my crazy bit: it’s okay to lower your power use, but it’s impossible to cut yourself off from the power grid. I think it’s even illegal in most places (I could be wrong about that, but it seems like something a housing code would include for making a house livable).

And it’s not about electricity. It’s not about people being lazy. It’s not about economics. Or the environment.

It’s about power. Not the electrical kind. But big-industry, centralized power. As long as there is a very small number of places generating everyone’s electricity, they have America by the nutsack.

Oh, and according to the Japanese, Nuclear Power plants can get really dangerous sometimes. We have a pretty good track-record here in the US, sure. I guess that will last forever. We will never have a problem like that, right?

So it’s like this: they have figured out a way to dispose of a multi-billion dollar industry that, when faced with a natural disaster or a drunk engineer or a crack in some concrete, could irradiate huge sections of the planet. And that industry will instead continue building nuclear reactors really close to me.

And it’s not just in electricity or utilities industries – the federal government has been continually centralizing law enforcement and other things for decades. Everyone wants to do away with distributed computing that doesn’t have a centralized host (this new Cloud Computing thing is the solution to decentralized internet gibberish). There is a war against anarchism. They powers that be are insisting that for everything, somebody has to be in charge. And to that I say, no. No there doesn’t. Fuck off.

You wanted to see my crazy: there it is. I think that corporatism is going to destroy what’s left of humanity with e-books and fucking cloud computing. We’ll all be hooked up to the same power, internet, and ‘distributed’ systems. All traffic will be monitored or be pay-per-view/use and being outside of its grasp will make you an outsider in the truest sense. It’s going to taxonomize and categorize everything until we can’t fucking breath. And we’re going to shell out cash to the big centralized machines that give us our little happiness. And don’t forget to update your fucking facebook status either, to let the marketing drones watching that you’re upset or happy.

Yes, I’m on the power grid. That doesn’t make me hypocritical. If I shunned the power grid I wouldn’t be able to do anything. There is a line between being ideological and being stupid. We can still choose quite a bit right now. And we can still be anonymous (I don’t mean Anonymous, but you can be that too, if you like) for the moment. And when that changes, I’ll be in Peru, with a leaf-powered home, drinking Ayahuasca and laughing at everyone. I hope.


Possible SCOTUS openings

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Oh boy. There is a chance that anything that resembles property rights could outright disappear. Of course, the Daily Beast is putting Hillary Clinton’s name out there for this already. Because, you know, she has had such a long and glorious legal career.


Tin-foil hats can’t stop the gub’mint from taking away your medicare, and medicare can’t fix stupid.

Friday, February 12th, 2010

FOX News is taking a poll on it.

I think we all know what to vote for, people.

Of course, this hilarious clip regarding these whack-jobs has been making the rounds:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Sarah Palin Uses a Hand-O-Prompter
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Economy
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Silence! I will explain a bit of my life to you, wonderful plebs!

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

My cable went out for most of last week, leaving me without the distraction of the internet. I actually managed to get some reading done. I also got out of the house more. I met some very interesting people and interacted with a few I hadn’t seen in a while.

The way people see me and the way I see myself have never really been the same. And when they tell me what they think of me, I get this weird sense of leading a phoney life.

Regardless of what level of success they may have achieved in their chosen field of work or study or what external proof they may have of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced internally they do not deserve the success they have achieved and are actually frauds. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they were more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.

I am manipulative and intelligent. And a hell of a fun guy. But it’s not me.

Also, I need to start smoking again to balance my damn emotions, I think. The lack of nicotine is wrecking my ability to act like I’m not schizophrenic. Maybe tomorrow I’ll pick it up again.

I found my passport the other day, tucked away in the glove compartment of my car. It’s been renewed and lacks any stamps. I have the memories and can recommend good restaurants in places you’ve never heard of, but I can’t advertise it or sneakily leave it laying around my bedroom to be stumbled upon. My foreign birth certificate and box full of survival gear will have to suffice. Shakespeare said something along the lines of Life is a stage and we are all actors playing our parts. I never see myself as more than a supporting role – but who is the star of this play?

Seneca said, “Life’s like a play; it’s not the length but the excellence of the acting that matters.” Which goes back to the whole seize the day, enjoy every moment as best you can deal. In order to make portions of our life seem grand, don’t we need something to contrast them to? Misery and melancholy, or at least sadness and unpleasantness would seem to be absolutely necessary. I’m in one of the happiest segments of my life to date, right now, and I suspect that if I hadn’t been in some rather shitty places before now, it wouldn’t mean fuck-all to me.

Also, gauging a girl’s reaction to the word cunt has got to be one of the easiest qualifiers of all time. Having dated both women who would say it more often then me and those who would display embarrassing amounts of offense to the very utterance, it seems to be a good way to separate the feminazis from the feminine.


We’re All Gonna Die!

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization?

For most of us, the idea that civilization itself could disintegrate
probably seems preposterous. Who would not find it hard to think seriously about
such a complete departure from what we expect of ordinary life? What evidence
could make us heed a warning so dire—and how would we go about responding to it?
We are so inured to a long list of highly unlikely catastrophes that we are
virtually programmed to dismiss them all with a wave of the hand: Sure, our
civilization might devolve into chaos—and Earth might collide with an asteroid,

For many years I have studied global agricultural, population, environmental and economic trends and their interactions. The combined effects of those trends and the political tensions they generate point to the breakdown of governments and societies. Yet I, too, have resisted the idea that food shortages could bring down not only individual governments but also our global civilization. I can no longer ignore that risk. Our continuing failure to deal with the environmental declines that are undermining the world food economy—most important, falling water tables, eroding soils and rising temperatures—forces me to conclude that such a collapse is possible.

This is called survival of the fittest, a cold reality that is far from pleasing. Sometimes, things just suck. Resilient Communities and Networks are a solution to something like this. Of course, having a free market is, too (because it optimizes for trade).


This ought to be entertaining

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Good day,
I am Mr. Ming Yang, Director of Operations of the Hang Seng Bank Ltd, Sai Wan Ho Branch, Hong Kong. I have an obscured business suggestion for you, please contact me for further details on my Email Address:ming_yang804@yahoo.com.hk

Kind Regards,
Mr Ming Yang

Private email:ming_yang804@yahoo.com.hk

Better day to you friend!

I am interested in all sorts of business suggestions, even the less valuable obscured variety. There is a market for these suggestions, and although the suggestion boxes might fill quickly, they are only filled by suckers who do not realize the value of their suggestions! This is the right time to capitalize on the wealth of suggestions being bantied about all willy-nilly by the unsuspecting masses.

I am going to require a review of your obscured suggestion to verify its authenticity before moving forward with any arrangement (and there are quite a few wonderful arrangements to be had!).

We may even be able to trade suggestions and double our mutual benefit. Please consider this carefully as there is a timeframe that must be met in order to reap the gains!



Messed Up Priorities

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Cops help dream up high-tech police car

“I don’t see any downside to this car,” said Carl Latorre, a Pennsylvania State Police dispatcher who served 35 years as a Philadelphia police officer. “I am so excited about this car. This car rates up there with cops carrying automatic weapons to combat what the criminals carry now. It’s about time that something like this came about.”

Does anyone else have a problem with the police carrying automatic rifles? Carl, it’s a bad idea. These cars, though, are pretty fucking cool. Did you notice the flush lightbars? Makes identifying them a little more difficult.

Here’s what police cars ought to look like:


"Dude, all we are is dust in the wind."

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

Socrates is largely revered as an historical figure –in the eyes of the social sciences, especially those pertaining to critical thinking, both his life and the lessons he taught during it are greatly admired and studied. This is a man who has been dead for roughly 2400 years and never published any of his analysis or studies. His legacy was put into the history books by his (equally famous) predecessors, and students, Plato and Aristotle. Another figure whose life resembles this is me*, in 2400 years.

I will be forced to destroy my collected works in a drunken rage and my friends will attempt to piece together my teachings, which will only exist as spoken word, to assemble my cohesive universal philosophy. Socrates’ followers might have altered a few things and inserted a few of their own ideas – it is hard to say. Although they might have done their best not to change or intermingle their line of reasoning or words with my his, there remains a slight bit of confusion for philosophers and historians. My words, however, will be less often directly quoted. Most of my lessons will be told in either allegory or in relation to the stories of my disciples. Unlike Socrates, I will not be kidnapped and brought to the future from my teaching to assist with a history presentation at San Dimas High***, (which really only took place in the film Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure – a testament to his fame****). I will have a more historically accurate film made after me where they speak my ancient tongue and subtitle everything.

Much like Socrates, I will be persecuted for bucking the status quo; there will be both religious and political charges brought against me. While he was charged with corrupting the youth and impiety, I will be charged with attempting to incite riots and gathering people under misunderstood religious tenants that will later become one of the most powerful on Earth. Socrates was put to death quietly, quickly and mercifully; I will be put to death slowly and tortured throughout.

If my name were Jesus of Nazareth and I lived two thousand years ago.****

* And by me, I mean me. I am so very tempted to turn this very paper in, instead of something reasonable and serious. This version has all the pertinent facts for comparison with all the added bonus of being hilarious and ego-soothingly self-referential!

** This part might stay for the real paper, although I might actually have to explain the reference to Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Sad times when you have to explain something like that. Whoa!

*** If Jesus were a real Historical Figure, why wasn’t he brought to the future?

**** The Power of Snark?