tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:/posts TQ White II 2023-01-07T19:30:43Z TQ White II tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1926058 2023-01-07T19:30:43Z 2023-01-07T19:30:43Z Situational Ethics is the Only Kind

Until the 1800's, all western ethics started with the Ten Commandments accepted as fact. Schopenhauer came along and said, 1) atheism, and 2) there are no preexisting rules except "will", which he defined as the common motivation for all things. He had another phrase for the intentional motivation that we usually think of as 'will'. His usage would cover, I think, vomiting, ie, something that is a consequence of our being but not intentional. Also, the motivation of a rock rolling down a hill.

He says that ethics are a consequence of the higher level intentionality of humans, ie, reason. Consequently, it is, I think, essentially an artistic fabrication with an esthetic based on emotion. He observes that some people have compassion, a "felt knowledge" that comes down to viewing harm to others as harm to oneself. (I would prefer to call it empathy.)

His fundamental understanding of the operation of will (his usage) in humans is egotistic and the equivalence implied by compassion forms the basis of his basic ethical idea, "Harm no one and help others as much as you can," ie, do what you can to avoid feeling the internal harm (sadness) that results from compassionate perception of other people's injury.

So, I think about your sequence of values, kill the guy on the spot, kill the guy in the alley, give him to the police and have them kill him, ... police try him and kill him, police try him and don't kill him, etc. 

Interest to me is the fact that that Schopenhauer doesn't provide any guidance on whether he should be killed. He has no 'thou shalt not kill'. If the person is a monster that in no way excites compassion, then his life or death is ethically neutral. Kill him in front of the kids, harm arises, compassion engages, QED: don't kill him. 

Sneak him out to the wilderness where nobody will ever know (avoiding whatever abstract societal harms) and he can do no harm. I guess that would count as you doing less harm (as long as you don't feel badly about for some perverse reason).

I'm a fan of Schopenhauer in a lot of ways. I absolutely agree with him that there is no god, that all ethical/moral principles are human fabrications that fundamentally come down to our emotional perspective and, even more, our esthetic evaluation of how we want our world to be. 

I have some different thoughts about where compassion comes from but, in the end, I am a huge fan of the premise that the basis of ethics comes down to (I paraphrase) a determination of one's idea of how pretty the social fabric should be.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1910211 2022-11-29T14:24:23Z 2022-11-29T18:29:24Z The Internet Only Deceives. Free Speech Online is a False Idol.

Some years ago, I had a friend who was a fashion photographer. He, with his wife, a stylist, had a contract with a local modeling college to do portfolio shoots for the students. I helped them sometimes. It was fascinating to see some completely ordinary looking girl (mostly) or boy come into the room and walk out with pictures that made them look wonderful and lovely. 

The appearance of people you see our side of a camera lens is completely false. Our society would lose absolutely nothing if every single one of these pictures never, ever existed. They are pernicious. They are a lie that make people feel badly about themselves and present a fake reality for us to live in.

Nobody my age really gets TikTok. Really, none of us really get 'social media'. Young people do and it leads them to eat Tide pods. It causes suicide. Depression is occurring at record rates and it is clear that social media is an important reason for it.

Also, riots on Jan 6. Death threats for election workers. Skyrocketing incidents of antisemitic behavior and harassment. Mass shootings. Our side of the social media lens is dangerous and awful.

It turns out that young people leaving isolation are 'romanticising' their work lives. I don't know if it's harmful but I do know that it's false. I don't get TikTok but I have seen it and it's always, inevitably, intrinsically false. It's entire point is to edit, ie, change, video so that it is quick and fun, ie, not like anything real.

Elon Musk and the Republicans are calling for Apple to be prevented from curating its App Store. He fears that, when Twitter achieves its goal of attracting Donald Trump and the Proud Boys back to Twitter, they will not let him distribute the Twitter app.

I no longer have any friends, even distant ones, who doubt the necessity of gun control. Most think that both the American fetish with guns and the modern absolutist interpretation of the second amendment are dangerous and wrong.

I'm here to tell you that our absolutist interpretation of the first amendment is equally dangerous. Just as the founders had no idea of armor penetrating bullets and machine guns, they had no idea of TikTok and Twitter. 

Their freedom of the press was a laboriously created page or two of text in print. Freedom of speech was someone preaching to fifty people, occasionally a hundred, who mostly had to walk a couple of miles to the meeting.

In 1984, Orwell envisioned a world where the the people in power suppressed individual communication and supplanted it with official lies. We have come to that world. He thought it would be the government. Turns out it's corporations. 

It's not muzzling the truth, it's drowning it out. We leftists tend to laugh at the right over the meme that Fox News listeners believe a ton of laughably, demonstrably false things, stolen elections, anti-vax, etc. The NY Times publishes the truth, the rubes just can't see it behind the gish gallop of awfulness.

Apple has power. It says it disagrees with the absolutist view of the first amendment. It says hate speech, pornography and calls to violence are unacceptable. Elon Musk, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz say it is.



TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1901724 2022-11-10T15:37:43Z 2022-11-17T15:26:16Z Mastodon!!
Let's face it, Twitter is morally bankrupt and participating in it is a morality problem. That said, I don't expect I will give it up before it dies of its own accord. It's bad but it's just too big and interesting to leave behind.

However, I find no community there. People are impolite and uncaring. I've hard harsh arguments about fine points of topics on which me and my interlocutors agree. I long for something more congenial. Also, I very, very much like the idea of a federated system based on the idea of like-minded people participating on a server with the ability to communicate with others. I think it's cool technically and I think it's the way of the future.

So, I'm now experimenting. I am active on https://counter.social/@tqwhite, a Mastodon variant that doesn't seem to join the federation, and https://mastodon.social/@tqwhite, which does. I've had good experiences so far on both and look forward to having a place where I can exchange some ideas and some news with nice people.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1901203 2022-11-09T13:11:26Z 2022-11-17T15:27:05Z Some Practical Advice

5.0 out of 5 stars
Amazingly competent product, nicely square, makes for a tidy refrigerator
Reviewed in the United States on November 7, 2022
Size: 2-PackStyle: Large (9.6 Cup)Pattern Name: Container Verified Purchase
For me, the main purpose, aside from containing food, is to stack nicely and not waste space. Other containers have big flapped lids and sloping sides that leave inches between containers.

These [(Rubbermaid Brilliance Plastic Food Containers)] do not. The walls of the container are very close to vertical and the flanges around the top and lid are minimal. The geometry lets differing sizes stack on each other in even multiples.

They are airtight and leakproof, amazingly so. I have never trusted containers full of soup before. With these I do.

I didn't think I would care about the crystal clear plastic but it's great. With my previous translucent ones, I could usually tell what was inside but this is much better. Also, the plastic is very hard and is more reliably clean.

The price is, of course, much higher than the Ziplock disposables they replace but, after mourning that company's decision to change and ruin their products (which I loved), I am now almost glad.

Because of my kitchen management practices, I bought a ton of these things, a couple of hundred dollars worth. My life is much better now. My refrigerator is organized. My food kept fresh. And, I can rely on the containers staying completely sealed. They are pleasant to look at and easy to use.

One extra bit of advice: The lids are substantial and, in storage, a bit cumbersome. Accidentally, I kept the boxes the containers came in and ended up using them as stacking organizers for the lids. Word to the wise.

4.0 out of 5 stars
100% Good. Thickens, emulsifies and has no problems at all
Reviewed in the United States on November 7, 2022
Size: 8 Ounce (Pack of 1) Verified Purchase
The package is good. The product is good. There is absolutely no reason not to use this.

PS, Xanthin dissolves in oil, not water. Stir it into the fat first.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Big enough package of perfectly good cheesecloth
Reviewed in the United States on November 7, 2022
Material Type: Grade 90Size: 5Yards Verified Purchase
When you buy cheesecloth in the grocery store, it's about a million dollars a square inch and the package has enough cloth to use like four times and two of those times your compromising how much you use because your at the end.

This stuff is reasonably priced but almost more importantly, you get enough at once that it's always enough on hand. If I want to strain something twice, no problem. I have plenty of cheesecloth.

The cloth itself is smooth, fine and strong. I like it a lot.

4.0 out of 5 stars
Pleasant versatile product adds umami flavor and not too much saltiness
Reviewed in the United States on November 7, 2022
Flavor Name: NaturalSize: 16 Fl Oz (Pack of 1) Verified Purchase
I put Liquid Aminos into almost everything savory. It's especially good for creating fake meat gravy when there are no pan drippings. I am very enthusiastic about it.

4.0 out of 5 stars
I use this as a weight, not as an anvil
Reviewed in the United States on November 7, 2022
Size: 4''x6''x3/4'' Verified Purchase
I have a couple of these [(steel jewelers anvils)]. One I use to stabilize my iPad stand. It's tall and wants to fall over. This compact, five pound beauty makes it sit nicely.

Also, I have found that many sandwiches are made better by setting them under pressure for several minutes to blend the flavors and cause the ingredients to adhere. I used a cast iron skillet for awhile. I bought one of these and use it, with a small cutting board, to compress sandwiches. Works a charm.

In both cases, I bought rubberized paint (of the sort used for coating plier handles) to coat them. The steel is not stainless and before I figured this out, the first one got rusty and pretty nasty looking. Now they both look great.

5.0 out of 5 stars
As a Cheese Lover, I put this tasty stuff in all kinds of foods
Reviewed in the United States on November 7, 2022
Style: 1 Pound (Pack of 1) Verified Purchase
On pasta, in meatloaf, mashed potatoes and a zillion other things, this [(Anthony's Cheese Powder)] provides additional richness to the flavor that makes me very happy. Also, I use it for both quick and elaborate cheese sauces. If I want some cheesy flavor on broccoli, I will quickly microwave it into some cream or milk. Thinned béchamel with a ton of cheese powder forms the base for a nice cheese soup.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1897806 2022-11-01T12:14:13Z 2022-11-17T15:27:22Z Twitter and Why People Hate Elon Musk Twitter was a major component of the right-wing (and Russian) manipulation of Trump's first election. It is an active vector for huge amounts of hateful speech, organizing to abuse people and misinformation. In recent years, Twitter has done things to reduce its negative influence. Now it suppresses (very few, imho) posts that are hateful (n-word, nazi, anti-semitic). It labels factual assertions that are false as false. And, importantly, people that abuse its terms of service can be punished. The most famous case being Trump's lifelong ban.

Musk has made clear he opposes these things. He says he wants Twitter to be conduit for free speech and has at various times made clear that he thinks Twitters content moderation and terms of service should be eliminated. Most people who are not him and Trump think granting the ability for evil people to send messages to hundreds of millions of people at once results in terrible changes in our society.

Outside of his attitudes about Twitter, Musk is a garbage person. For example, you may recall the youth group caught in a cave in Thailand. He called one of the people who helped a pedophile for no reason. He denigrates people in public and private.

He has shown himself to be on the side of haters of various sorts, tweeting things about trans-people, allowing racist behaviors in his companies, comparing the Canadian prime minister to Hitler, speaking about Liz Warren in nasty, sexist terms to his hundreds of millions of Twitter followers.

He denied the value of COVID vaccines and reopened his factories while it was still very dangerous, has done stock market manipulation, cheated in cryptocurrency markets, allows his companies to use suppliers with child labor, he fired his longtime (dozen years) secretary for asking for a raise and produced an endless list of dumb, cruel, nasty tweets, comments and anecdotes.

To be clear, he has also made huge contributions. His professional accomplishments are amazing and important. Many people, including me, admire him as much as I hate him. I have long understood that people who change the world are not like you and me. To do such things requires personality and attitudes that are not good on a personal level (Henry Ford and Thomas Edison were both horrific assholes).

Because we live in an era where he can literally talk to a hundred million people at a time, we get to see his pernicious influence more clearly. Personally, I can mostly live with him being an asshole if he keeps doing the very important things he does but, when he applies his megalomania to the nervous system of our already shaky society, I am pissed. There are a lot of people who feel that way.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1886738 2022-10-04T13:24:33Z 2022-11-17T15:27:37Z American Values: Ding Dong School was replaced by The Price is Right
Ding Dong School, which I thought had the magic mirror until today, and certainly watched, was a much more serious enterprise than I realized. It was created to be a literal pre-school. At the end of the show, Miss Frances asked the children to bring their mothers to the set where she would tell them about the lessons and let them know what (mostly art) supplies were needed for subsequent shows.

It was cancelled after four years and replaced by a show that was bound for infinite success, The Price is Right. It seems to me to be an absolutely perfect expression of the essence of American culture.

You can almost hear the management saying, "The best education for pre-school children is about the joy of knowing how much things cost and reveling in the thrill of the only worthwhile thing in America, consumer goods made by our advertisers!!"

That a public interest education show was specifically replaced by a show run favor of a show length commercial, tarted up as an intellectual exercise that could only be won by people whose main skill was shopping is just too 'on point' to bear.

But this isn't the most emblematic thing. Miss Frances had a veto over advertisers. The reason the show was cancelled is that she would not allow the show to be used to advertise BB Guns.

Childhood education eliminated because it did not promote gun love and replaced by a showcase of "shopping skills". America in a nutshell.


TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1873984 2022-08-28T13:18:44Z 2022-08-28T13:18:44Z Shelley, Atheism, Life and Afterlife

RE: This...


There are many things about these three essays that amuse me. The first is that this is claimed to be philosophy but is actually polemic. Shelley starts to try to deconstruct the problem into clear and fundamental ideas but, in each of the three segments, devolves into arguments about how society functions relative to these ideas and how that's bad. Nothing wrong with that but it makes a substantial part of the essay mere opinion and disagreement and, thereby, not so useful.

One thing I like, though, is his distinction between "creative god" and "theological god". This is a dichotomy that serves as a foundation in my own view on the matter, though I call the former "an independent, willful entity that can violate the laws of physics" and the latter, "cultural god". I believe that the latter is a real and important thing. The former, pure fantasy.

Even though, however, that last assertion suggests atheism, I do not include myself among people with that view. I define atheism as an assertion that the non-existence of god is a fact. A fact being something known for certain, eg, something like the fact of gravity pulling toward the center of the earth. No one who is not insane can doubt the reality of gravity on earth. I do not think it reasonable to claim the same certainty for the non-existence of god. Further, facts can be tested. The existence of god cannot.

I claim to be an agnostic. This word is used in several ways but, for me, it means that I believe that the existence of god, positive or negative, is by definition beyond the ability of humans to determine. It is my view that certainty of god's non-existence is every bit as ridiculous as certainty that it exists. The reason is that god, I'll use the shorthand, creative god, is a thing that can generate the entirety of reality. To do this, it must somehow be outside that reality (a creator that creates itself is too goofy for me to credit). A thing that is outside of reality is, in my view, outside our ability to perceive or correctly reason about.

That said, I am extremely skeptical of the existence of a creative god. I agree with Shelley's assertion that postulating a creator merely complicates the problem without answering anything. Where did god come from? If it has knowledge of creating a universe, does it create new ones every day? If not, what caused it to create this one? And, crucially, what caused the inspiration to do that, ie, what created the inspiration to create is no less a question than what created god or what created reality. None is any more satisfying than science or mystery.

He does pique a little interest in his opening evaluation of what causes "belief" though I think it would be more accurate if he had set up a structure distinguishing the ideas of agreement, belief and faith, not least because he is using the word 'belief' in reference to ideas that I would call 'faith'. In my taxonomy, belief straddles the two others. I believe in gravity. My view is more than mere agreement with the arguments in its favor but is not the same as a Christian's belief in the virgin birth but not entirely different, either. Were anyone to try to convince me that gravity is not real, I would not even consider the proposition. My perspective is nearly faithful.

I spent eight years in dedicated Torah study, hours each week, with real interest. One of the topics that especially interested me was the comparison of Judaism with Christianity. I concluded that the most important difference is that Christianity wants faith and Judaism wants performance. Do the Mitzvot and you are a good Jew. Do Good Works without Faith, and a Christian still goes to hell. Because I am a scientist at heart, I have thought a great deal about faith and what it is.

One thing is for sure: I am incapable of it. The love of my wife or children? I believe it exists. There is enough evidence that it is impossible to convince me otherwise. Evidence to the contrary that I cannot explain is ignored. I believe they (and my dog) love me. Period. But the views do rest on evidence, lots of it for a long time.

Fear is a sensation generated by a lump of meat in your head, mostly the amygdala. That is the part that calculates the difference between your current mental state and your expectations and generates some level of alarming ideas based on the difference. There is another lump of meat, the anterior cingulate cortex, that does sort of the reverse. It compares your current state to expectations and generates calming ideas based on the similarities. (Note that I am not only simplifying the explanation to the point of stupidity but I also know almost nothing about neurological topics.) The yin and yang of these two lumps seem to me to be important in figuring out what you believe or disbelieve. (Where something else entirely seems to be involved in 'agreement'. I claim that agreement is basically arithmetic about a topic.)

It is less clear what governs faith but I have read of brain surgery where they stimulated part of the brain and the subject reported feeling religious. The hippocampus, prefrontal lobes and anterior cingulate cortex are mentioned in this context. To me, it seems fairly obvious that there is some lump of meat or system that generates the sensation that Christians report when they talk about their belief in Christ. It is one that, in me, is fairly diminutive. In others, big and juicy.

So, what does it all mean? 1) We can never know if there is a god or not as a matter of fact. 2) Shelley is right. The idea of god does not offer any answers that are useful in understanding reality. 3) Faith in god is an explainable mental state. If you think it is divine inspiration, see point number 2.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1854009 2022-07-12T13:08:38Z 2022-07-12T13:08:39Z A Personal Note The other thing about Mad Men is that my father *was* Don Draper. He was an artist who did graphic design for packaging of grocery store products. Like Don, he made a boatload of dough in the second half of the sixties. He was universally recognized as a brilliantly intelligent and creative marketing graphic designer. He was attractive, well-liked and often hated. He was self-made and mostly tried to hide his very working-class roots.

He drove away the mother of his children with ego and condemnation. He arranged his life so that his children were unable to touch him. He married and then ignored a beautiful young woman making her feel insecure and unloved - much as he did with his first wife.

My mother didn't die young, but as far as her children were concerned she may as well have (I could write a similar comparison of her to Betty Draper). I was Sally. My sibs probably knew how to make toast but, we had to form a self-protective team as children and, I realize in recent years, I have spent my life feeling somehow responsible.

The comparison breaks down eventually. Don Draper turns his back on the money and seeks redemption. He has a fundamentally generous nature (which is so interesting and sort of surprising but, if you think about the advice he offered, the occasions where he stood up for people, his insistence on treating peoples' aspirations respectfully in the ad campaigns, it makes more sense) that, if it was present in my father, who did die fairly young, never was realized.

But, Don's journey to enlightenment is a lesson my dad could have used. Perhaps we all can.

"It's the real thing."
TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1844468 2022-06-20T17:13:17Z 2022-06-22T15:01:04Z A Unilateral Conviction: Pardon Trump When the Hearings End

I have had many conflicted discussions with friends over my contention that Gerald Ford was right to pardon Richard Nixon. I agree with his reasoning that damage wrought by a prolonged trial outweighs the value of proving what everyone knew to be true.

Reading this, I am moving in the same direction for Trump, with some reservations. Basically every sane person in the country now responds to pollsters with agreement that Trump committed crimes. The House committee is doing a great job and will have produced a damning and detailed record of them.

I now think that Biden should, once the House hearing is over very quickly announce a pardon.

A pardon is an ambiguous benefit. It removes the possibility of punishment (which I consider 100% impossible for Trump) but it also removes the possibility of a trial. It eliminates the possible forum where Trump could parade his lies and showboating for literally years.

The announcement should be made with high-minded justification. It is important to bring the country together. We do not want the precedence of subsequent administrations prosecuting each other. Etc. Etc.

But the real message is: The President and the Justice Department join Congress in the belief that he did it.

I imagine Trump screaming that the Jan 6 riot was "PERFECT". With huge recriminations about his stolen election and how weak Mike Pence is. None of that will matter to anyone except that 38% of deluded shitheads.

For the rest of, it means that we can stop paying attention to him and his shenanigans. We can take him and his crimes and potential prosecutions off the table. When a Republican whines about the persecution of Trump, it will sound mighty hollow.

And it will be in the better interest of the country.


TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1825581 2022-05-02T14:13:26Z 2022-05-02T14:15:25Z We Are Enough. You Don't Need Anything Else to be Worthwhile.

I read this passage and disagree. Well, I don't disagree with the final point. It is true that nothing matters to the universe. There is no 'god' thing watching us all. Our universe, I am convinced, is one of zillions constantly popping into existence as the physics of dark energy and virtual quantum particles continue their work.

But contrary to the implied bleakness suggested by this Weinberg guy assertion that it's "pointless", this vast multiverse idea seems to me to give our lives even greater meaning. The infinite course of the multiverse might not care about us but we still exist. Our lives matter to us and to those around us. 

That there is no grand external 'meaning' says to me, that our actions are the only thing that really do have meaning. It tells me that what we do is the only thing that is really important. 

The reality we construct, our actions in our society and culture, our reliance and support for each other, are not pointless. With the realization that we are less than a speck in the grand reality where nothing is any more important than anything else, we become the most important thing in the universe. 

All the rest is nothing, vast and empty. Only we are full of life and joy and love and hate and humor and meaning. As far as we can tell, that's all there is. That makes it infinitely more than pointless. It is everything.

It makes me think about those who say life can have no meaning without a god. In their view, their god has meaning. Our meaning is purely derivative, just as our liver cells are important to our getting an award. We just come along for the ride. Our liver cells didn't kill us by getting cancer and we didn't stop the god's glory by failing to worship it. 

This reality of the universe says that our glory is not subsumed by anything else. No other meaning is greater than our own. Our meaning is all there is. For twenty thousand years, humans have been fabricating meaning from whole cloth. With luck, we will continue for twenty thousand more. 

The multiverse might not care but we do and, apparently, that is everything.


TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1823234 2022-04-25T12:07:39Z 2022-04-25T12:07:40Z A Brief Discussion About Light
Not me:

"From my limited understanding a photon is a photon. What it passes through gives it’s color. Pure light is white and cannot be detected. When something absorbs every wavelength of something except for a certain color value that’s what is reflected back. For instance a green leaf on a tree… it absorbs every color except green and bounces green light off. Same with infrared except we need special equipment to detect it because it’s not visible to the human eye"


You are correct in the idea that the photons that are reflected and not absorbed is what causes us to see color. The idea "what it passes through gives it its color" is not right. The color of a photon is determined by the amount of energy that goes into its creation and it never changes.

Absorption and reflection aren't exactly what they seem to us, though. What actually happens is that a photon hits an atom and is absorbed. The energy of that photon puts the atom into an unstable state. This causes the atom to spit out a new photon to get back in balance.

Sometimes the unstable energy state does not result in a photon being re-emitted and, instead, the energy participates in some other chemical reaction. Sometimes, there is energy left over from that reaction.

That energy is re-emitted. The new photon will have that remaining amount of energy, ie, it will be a new color. The original did not change. It contributed to the creation of a new one.

This is what happens with photosynthesis.

Roughly speaking, chlorophyl molecules in plants absorb the light that hits them. That puts each molecule into an unstable energy state but, instead of re-emitting (reflecting) all of the energy, it keeps part of it by changing in ways that are part of the photosynthesis process. The part that is not used has the amount of energy to re-emit a green photon.

You mention white light as "pure". This is not really correct.

White light is not actually a color of light and it's sort of the opposite of pure. It is always a combination of photons with different energy levels contributing to a sort of illusion created by the chemistry of our eyes.

Our retinas have three chemicals that absorb photons. That means the the energy they absorb with the photon participates in a chemical reaction. That reaction causes nerve signals to our brains that we interpret as color.

Each of the three chemicals responds to photons in a narrow range of energies (which are also, btw, equivalent to wavelength). We call the experience we perceive from those chemicals, red, green and blue.

When all three chemicals absorb roughly the same amount of photons, ie, equal amounts of reg, green and blue, our brain interprets the signal as white light. The photons are not white, there is no such energy level. It is a bunch of different photons that our brains interpret as 'white'.

We cannot see infrared because the chemicals in our eyes do not absorb infrared light in a way that creates a nerve signal. Instead, those photons cause the molecules to vibrate in a way that we interpret as heat. That's why warming lamps in restaurants shine infrared on the food.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1801399 2022-03-01T16:50:03Z 2022-03-01T16:50:04Z Actually killing Russian soldiers is a very big step
In conversation with a friend , I responded to the importunings for Joe to become active in helping Ukraine. A number of people have insisted that we are already at war. I am not sure that I am opposed to America getting involved. I agree that letting this happen is very dangerous but it is not at all obvious what the right thing to do is.

We are absolutely not already at war with Russia. I get the metaphorical usage of the term and think it is appropriate. However, war means killing each other. Russia is not killing Americans and America is not killing Russians. This is their war with a friend of ours with whom we have no mandatory treaty obligations. It is strategic and symbolic. It is not war yet.

If Joe decides to do kill Russians, Russia will have a good reason to take off the gloves because America represents a very, very big threat. If I were Putin, when America steps into the battle, I would annihilate Ukraine to eliminate it as a threat. I would, at the same time, send troops into some other country or use some cruise missiles to attack as a diversion.

I would consider the use of tactical nukes because, if America starts attacking you, you better put it back on its heels very quickly or you are fucked.

That's the sort of arithmetic Joe has to do before he takes action in Ukraine, before he joins the war there.

This is a trageically difficult time. I am very sad and worried.
TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1799265 2022-02-24T14:20:15Z 2022-02-24T14:20:56Z Privacy is a fundamental right. I consider corporations like Facebook and Google to be analogous to rapists

We all accept that a man has a right to expect an evening of pleasant company if he buys a woman a nice dinner. It's a reasonable expectation that makes sense.

We are all creeped out, despite the fact that it's ubiquitous, when a man assumes that the woman will have sex with him because he bought her dinner. We are downright angry if he acts on that it either by forcing her or by being mean to her if she does live up to his expectation.

Which is to say, there is an implied obligation incurred when we accept free stuff but that obligation is not unlimited. The distinction between 'pleasant company' and 'assumption of sex' is level of personal intrusion. They are divided over a boundary that all decent people understand as intrinsic to the natural human rights of a person.

I claim that it is reasonable to expect me to see advertisements but that it is creepy and makes me angry when they share my personal information with anyone if they feel they can benefit. I think it's wrong. I think it's dangerous and intrusive.

There are people who focus on the supposed benefit of targeted ads. "Why wouldn't you want the big old internet figuring out just what you want? It showed your new favorite band. What's wrong with that?"

To me, that's like saying, 'the guy was clean and a considerate lover. She even had an orgasm. Why are you mad that he coerced her into having sex with him?'

I am a huge fan of Europe's GDPR. It recognizes information about you as yours. Their constitution explicitly asserts that privacy is a fundamental human right, just as we all understand that we all have a fundamental human right not to be raped. (And no, I'm not saying that privacy violation is the same, or as bad, as rape, or murder. I am saying it is analogous.)

I would add that I think that the level of coercion is worse than expectations for after dinner. These corporations are holding my friends and livelihood hostage.

If I do not make myself vulnerable to their depredations, I do not get to talk to my friends on Facebook. I live in a remote location. I have very little social contact without it and its ilk. I would be alone. I need to use Google a hundred times a day to do my work. Practically speaking, I would be out of business without it.

These corporations are essentially saying to me, "You choose, starve and be lonely, or let us sell your information to anyone we feel like selling it to. You live your life seeing your secrets [one time I googled breast cancer about a friend; for the next couple of weeks, corporations made clear they knew about it in ads] spread all over the internet. Don't like that, Tough shit."

I am pissed. I do not grant them permission to share my information and consider their doing so to be unethical and when I notice it, I feel violated.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1796836 2022-02-18T14:50:39Z 2022-02-19T12:50:40Z Meanderings on the sources of evil
Catholicism is famous for opposing divorce. One can only leave a marriage if the church allows it and, throughout history, women had no say. Abuse was rarely cause. Corporal punishment for wives was allowed. Marital rape was considered impossible. Women were kept in marriages against their will by the millions

Ubiquitous child abuse is not the only crime committed by the Universal Church in the name of Jesus.This does not, for me, necessarily color my evaluation of the belief system. I continue to think that Christianity is pretty. Knowing, of course, that all religions have vile fundamentalists, I started this note trying to isolate that from the nice doctrine.

I did a false start where I considered the idea of 'faith', per se, as the culprit and I will, after I think about it for awhile, probably conclude that faith, per se, is a bad thing.

But, I set that aside for now, party because I have to think it through and partly because it misses the point.

All religions have bad actors but only one has an organization embodied, for nearly two thousand years, in a global network of pedophiles and murderers. I readily concede that there has also been much good done but am very, very skeptical about the cost.

The reason I have a trouble separating the Christian wheat from the organization chaff is that, when Christians finally overthrew the pure tyranny of Catholicism, they chose Martin Luther to become a movement where bigotry replaced pedophilia while the murder and power mongering continued with zeal.

I might still be able to find a way around my distress over the singular damage Christians have done by comparing it to Islam, also a religion that uses it's 'prince of peace' concept as a shroud to conceal it's bloody minded attitude about those who resist its power. After all, it's not really just Christians.

But today, we have American Christianity showing huge support for every vile oppression the right-wing wants to put upon us. Anti-choice. Anti-vax. Pro-Trump. Pro-1/6. Pro-white-supremacy. Anti-environment. Anti-immigrant. Anti-science.

More than half of America Christians voted for Trump and all the vile practices he embodies as the leader of the most powerful country on the planet. The Moslems have done nothing that compares. Their influence in the world overall is small. Had Donald gotten another term, the Christians would have been the largest identifiable group that put him in a position to ruin the world.

Is it because of Christianity? Correlation is not cause. I still think that Christianity is a pretty doctrine. It is said that humans can mess anything up and with that, I emphatically agree. But, some things are easier to mess up than others. Nobody every committed genocide in the name of loving quantum physics.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1794169 2022-02-11T12:01:01Z 2022-02-11T12:01:02Z The Fermi Paradox

I am of the opinion that life is probably common, an inevitable property of resource availability, like rust where iron and oxygen are present. I suspect it is *everywhere*.

I also think that the variation we see on Earth is an indication of both how varied life forms are and how parochial our perspective is. We live in a place that got DNA. All the life has DNA and we think that means that 'life' means DNA. Considering the fact that those lifeforms range from humans to bacteria to lichens and that we can only communicate with mammals tells me that 1) we are stuck in a local paradigm and, 2) we are not taking the lesson.

The Fermi Paradox seems apparent because we imagine that life out there resembles us but, there could be a thousand trillion civilizations of dolphins and we would never know because their life habit makes the sky and stars and radios irrelevant. There could be lichen civilizations that develop and communicate at glacial speed and, having no thumbs, don't build tools, only communicating by chemical signals.

There are forests of thousands of acres that are a, genetically, a single individual connected by their roots and chemicals they secrete into the air. There is absolutely no reason to think that the interactions among them are not some amazing form of poetry.

The final piece of the puzzle, in my view, is the fact a mobile, tool building lifeform stands a really good chance of killing itself off well before it could make itself apparent to us.

The Fermi Paradox reflects a failure of imagination based on an arrogant belief in our own superiority and importance.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1793775 2022-02-10T13:39:50Z 2022-02-10T13:39:50Z 2,404 Voluntary COVID19 Deaths Is Just Fine. I Think It IS Over.

I've been perplexed since I realized that, as of February 2022, 2400 people are still being killed by covid19 each day. I wonder how, even with exhaustion, that can be a number most don't notice or, if they do, feel. Certainly, we are calloused and fed up but, when we hit that number two years ago, we knew that the 876,000 anual covid deaths that number implies is horrific.

I have realized two things about it that are different. The first is that most of the country was in lockdown. If thousands of people are dying when we are truly doing our very best to avoid it, that is terrifying. Each of us could see ourselves in that number because locked down people were dying in droves.

The other thing is that those deaths are largely voluntary. The number of vaccinated people who die of covid is essentially zero. Those 2400 are almost all people who have chosen not to accept a free, safe, easy preventative. They deserve their fate.

It is truly terrifying to imagine what the mortality would be if we hadn't locked down and disciplined our lives in the other ways we did. It is heartening to realize that as we return to medical freedom, only those who choose illness and death are dying. They aren't my problem. I realize that it actually is pretty much over.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1766840 2021-12-04T14:15:01Z 2021-12-04T14:15:01Z Reality is gender fluid
A person on Facebook whom I've known for a long time posted a picture of a gravestone that said something like "White People in Commercials RIP 2021". I personally have thought, "Sheesh. Literally every television show has a pair of gay men kissing." (I'm exaggerating. Often it's women kissing.) Also, I've thought things that support the idea that this has to piss off the shitheads 100%.

The problem, though, isn't that TV is making them "think" they've lost the country. It is that they *have* lost the country.

The TV and ad programmers are not making this shit up. Men are kissing men. Teens are allowed to have sex. Parents are allowing their kids to have gender fluid self expression. In droves.

If you are smart enough to earn money and live in a decent place, you don't mind. You think that you should love whomever you want and that you should express your identity however you want and that the old standards of behavior were mainly ways of keeping women in the kitchen.

And, as a person who has money, they manipulate you with programming that caters to your viewpoint. Since the shitheads are poor folk with little education and no future prospects of having money, nobody makes programming for them because they know that they will not be able to pay for anything more expensive than a truck and some food.

Fox News and Donald Trump talk about the liberal media as if it was a coordinated attack on them. It's not. Liberals are the worst. They are a million times less likely to toe the party line than right-wingers. They disagree about everything and hate conformity. Look at the problems they are having trying to get the Build Back Better bill passed. It's endemic to liberalism that liberals can't work together to get anything done. What's actually happening is that all decent people independently hate them.

It is worth noting that, while there is some social innovation (gender fluid is an idea not formalized until the last decade), none of these ideas are new and the liberal Hollywood elites have believed and lived them for a long time. Even so, when the country was racist, they never showed any black people.

I don't believe we saw any serious gay couples on TV in the eighties and it was transgressive to show them in the nineties. I guess there were some in the oughts but men kissing?, that's the last five years. Yet, the Hollywood elites have been mostly gay forever. Fucking Rock Hudson was kissing men in the fifties. It was a secret because the people who had money to buy ads and pay for movies hated homos.

We are in a brave new world and the shitheads are going to have to get used to it. They can hate all they want and dream of a world where commercials only have white people again but reality is not going to change because of their racist, homophobic angst. They are the only ones left who think white supremacy is a good idea. Who think that cis people in cis marriages are the only kind that are good.

Sure Amy Coney Barrett is on the Supreme Court but she's a result of the spasmodic thrashing of the old guard. She will kill the right to abortion but it will merely assuage the fears of the shitheads. Sixty to seventy percent of the country will still support women to get abortions.

Reality, as expressed in the lives of millions of people, mostly the educated ones who earn and spend real money, is tolerant, gender fluid, mixed race and enthusiastically helping their children live their truth to build a future where all kinds of people are happy and free.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1728267 2021-08-25T14:31:11Z 2021-08-25T14:31:12Z Wealthy People and Their Corporations Impoverish Another Batch of Workers

People complain about the civil rights consequences of No-Fly lists. Mysterious bureaucracy than can truly ruin your life with no recourse.

I complain about the credit rating companies. Another mysterious bureaucracy that can ruin your life.

One is the government. We love to note that the Constitution applies to them, not corporations. Facebook, we note, can selectively stop covid disinformation and should, even if our ideas of free speech are violated by that.

The story here is that the credit card processing companies are making decisions about what sorts of goods and services we can buy, about how people can make money and force changes in corporate policy.

Imagine, I digress, if the cellphone companies decided you were no longer allowed to phone Democratic congress people. You would be outraged, of course, but it's a corporation and it is allowed to have policies it prefers.

In that case, politicians who have power would probably beat them into submission. But, what if the affected party had no power? The policy would stand.

It turns out that sex workers have no power. The companies that run the movement of money around our countery don't like them. As with the cellphone companies in my example, they have simply told companies, you can't do business with them.

And so, OnlyFans.com is forcing them out of business in order to stay in business itself.

Someday we are going to have to wake up and force some changes. Our capitalist system is supposed to provide a free market, to provide options and the variety of services desired by the market.

There was an idea called "lassez faire capitalism" that was fully discredited in the Gilded Age, the time when the Rockefellers and Edisons and other wealthy people wielded their unlimitted wealth so ruthlessly that it resulted in the trade union movement, anti-trust legislation, and other reforms. Laisez faire capitalism, capitalism with no limits, was stopped.

Well, slowed down because it's been on the rise again since Reagan and it's become as pernicious as before. Obamacare is hobbled because he had to bend a knee to insurance companies. The Great Recession produced barely any reforms because the wealthy would not allow it. Our society is again brutally dominated by wealthy people and their corporations.

And so, sex workers pummeled by the technology that ruined the pornography business found a new way to make a living and have a decent life. And so, a cadre of corporations said, "We don't like that," and took it away.

Did you have any say in it? According to this article, the 'free' market said it was a good thing. According to studies, almost all of us use porn. But, the corporations do not like it so and their rules are enforceable while yours are not.

I do not know what the solution is because their power is so entrenched. Violent revolution honestly seems like the only possibility except that they control the security apparatus. Troops in Portland last summer were there at the behest of the rich people.

It requires some thinking, though. The future of freedom in America, well, really, the world, is bleak if we are limited to only doing things that are in the interest, religiously or economically, of the wealthy and their corporations.


TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1694540 2021-05-24T12:56:12Z 2021-05-24T12:56:12Z I still don't really know who I am
I do not believe I would ever have done anything that I thought might possibly hurt her feelings but I wonder what I would have done had I scrolled to her fourth Tinder picture to see her prosthetic. Would I have considered it disqualifying?, unattractive?, attractive?, too much potential hassle?

The closest I have ever come to disability is a woman I hooked up with a few times in college who had a foot maimed by a lawnmower as a child. Except for a small limp, you'd never notice anything if her shoes were on. I've never known anyone (let alone had a relationship) with a larger disability.

This article makes me wonder what I would have thought if I had. It makes me wonder what I should have thought. Certainly a missing leg is a defining aspect of her life. I can't imagine that it is unreasonable for it to matter to me if I was considering a relationship. But I'm not sure what response it should inspire.

It's easy for me (in my imagination) to think that, if I found her attractive in other ways, I would not care about a missing leg. But that begs the question of how I would respond to other things. Would a missing arm be diffierent? How about a wheelchair? How about the problem Elephant Man had? Mental affliction? How serious could I tolerate if the person otherwise appealed?

I know I can be generous about disability to some extent. Debbie has physical issues that require noticeable extra effort on my part, even an adjustment in the expectations I have for my life that might be similar to those required by this author's missing leg. But what would I think if I were young and had my whole life ahead of me?

And it makes me wonder what I think about the life of a disabled person. I know that when I think about the life of Joseph Merrick (the Elephant Man had a name, an identity, a life, ambitions, desires, quirks and foibles), I feel a terrible sympathy over the loneliness he must have suffered and think about what obligation decent people owe.

As I write this, I feel a little bit sad that I have missed out on knowing the experience and perspective of a friend whose life is different in this way. I don't know whether I would reach out for a date with this woman but hope I would.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1673164 2021-04-01T13:26:39Z 2021-04-01T13:26:39Z I feel like I want to cry
Browsing twitter today, I ran into this thread. I ended up spending most of an hour aghast. The insane amount of stories of girls being hassled, groped, embarrassed, betrayed, made fearful, is awful.

The harassment of women is universal and endless. If you think American society is way better than, say, Saudi Arabia, think again.

I feel like the testimonials here are a resource that should not be lost. I know harassment is a problem. I even know it is common. Reading this changed me. It is way worse than I knew. Without this, I would have never understood as I feel do now.

Something has to change. #metoo

I feel like I should also say, Trigger Warning. Whether you are a man or a women, this will make you feel bad.


TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1664820 2021-03-12T16:39:35Z 2021-03-12T16:39:35Z It is Important to Brush Your Dog's Teeth
I have had dogs all my life. They all had breath with a stench that was disgusting as they got older. The stench is an indication of decay and huge amounts of bacterial activity. Young dogs haven’t accumulated enough plaque yet to seem unhealthy. Without teeth cleaning, they will eventually have problems.

Oral hygiene problems are a huge health issue for dogs. Not only do most dogs lose teeth and often have abscesses and other direct oral health problems but bad teeth can cause heart and other problems. Also pain.

Teeth cleaning is good for the dog. It is also good for your wallet. Once your dog gets enough rotten teeth to be in obvious pain, it costs four or five hundred dollars to accomplish the oral surgery to remove them. It is also a fairly serious surgery. Their roots are very deep and require digging into their skull for removal.

My wife brushes our dog Dexter’s teeth every day. It is an excellent bonding moment that they both love. Dexter considers it a highlight and is very insistent if she gets distracted and needs reminding. Even better, his breath is fresh and nice. When he breathes on me, there is no unpleasant odor. If he licks, I never have the sense of repulsion I had with my other dogs thinking about the layer of bacteria being spread on my skin.

We made this video to teach you how to brush your dog's teeth:


TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1654766 2021-02-16T15:11:37Z 2021-02-16T15:11:38Z People who don't have important economic skills are worthless and deserve shitty food and bad lives

The notion that higher minimum wage discourages hiring is entirely unproven. In plenty of places, employment is up in the years after an increase. In general, a few years later, you cannot see any difference.

This notion is a conservative canard without merit. There are two huge flaws in addition to the superficial inaccuracy. First is the notion that employment at the current minimum wage is something that should be encouraged. Spending forty, fifty or sixty hours a week at an activity that does not provide enough money to support even one person, let alone a family, is a bad thing for everyone except the employer, both society and the worker are worse off.

The worker is deprived of almost everything that people claim to believe makes us human. Time with family, opportunity to learn, fun, self-improvement, child and elder care, exercise, you name it never happens. Add food insecurity, no preventative health care and it is slavery.

Society still has to cover much of the cost of support for that person and his or her family. Minimum wage workers require subsidized health care, subsidized food and subsidized rent. People at that wage level are often forced to engage in criminal activities to supplement their income so that children can eat so society is also required to spend more on policing and social services. And, where there is crime there are gangs and that adds to the social burden, too.

But, corporations win so we stick with the canard. Somehow we are convinced that there are tons of unskilled workers being employed to do things that the business can live without. The theory is that a business will spend large amounts of capital money to automate jobs rather than give more money to poor people. It is a ridiculous idea. Most low wage jobs are not really subject to automation (have you ever seen a robot janitor?) and, of course, the research does not support this idea anyway.

It is another conservative effort to make sure that workers are poor and afraid. Paying them a decent wage will only make them prosperous and unafraid. Better conditions, better benefits, better hours, better lives. The horror!

Paying unskilled labor a decent wage would demonstrate that people have value beyond the value of their work. Americans don't want that. Americans hate poor people.

So don't clothe your moral distaste for those less fortunate in economic theory. Stick with the real reason: People who don't have important economic skills are worthless and deserve shitty food and bad lives.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1653879 2021-02-14T14:18:51Z 2021-02-14T17:21:05Z One Minute's Delay. How We Almost Lost Our Democracy.
One of the very few criticisms I would make about the conduct of Trump’s impeachment trial is that they did not explore the consequences if he had succeeded. Many assert that he wanted to be a dictator but I suspect that most think it hyperbole, much as few realized the level of danger during the insurrection itself.

Until the impeachment trial, I knew it was bad but thought it was knuckleheads and idiots rampaging. Bad stuff might have, I thought, happened but it would have been a riot that got inside a building. Beatings, damage, shouting, ineffectual destruction and inchoate violence.

We now know that there was an intent to murder. “Where are you Nancy” and “Hang Pence” weren’t slogans, they were the intentions of weird psychopaths and trained militia people with a plan.

(Remember video of soldiers moving through the crowd outside the capitol, in a chain, a hand on the tactical vest of the soldier ahead, moving through the crowd with purpose and efficiency.)

Had the reinforced windows of the capitol failed a few seconds earlier, Pelosi and Pence would have been caught and murdered. Doubtless others would have been caught up in a melee. More people would have died.

What was the goal? The first people into the building shouted, “Where are they counting the votes?” They were there to “stop the steal”.

As Donald Trump well knew, there was no way to change the vote of the electoral college. The only way to change the outcome was to decapitate the government apparatus that would bring about the transfer of power. Hence, the death sentence for Pelosi and Pence.

But it would have been even worse. Just killing them would not insure Trump’s success. Unless the Senate was destroyed, it could reconstitute and certify a new president. Enough violence had to be done to prevent them from doing that. Killing, maiming, threatening the rest was also necessary.

According to the security cameras, this result was missed by less than a minute. They barely got the Senators out by the time the Senate chamber was captured by the insurrectionists. If Goodman hadn’t distracted them. If the windows had failed a minute more quickly. If someone had stumbled and slowed the evacuation. It would all be different.

And now, suppose… Pence, Pelosi and, say, ten senators are dead. Trump sends in the troops. The capitol is under military occupation with blood and death everywhere.

The country is enraged and terrified. Hundreds of thousands are on the streets everywhere. Opponents of Trump are outraged and rioting. Proponents are out with their AR-15s ‘fighting antifa’. Violence is universal.

More troops. Nobody disagrees that something has to be done to quell the violence. The Senate cannot certify the election because many are dead and wounded. The rest are shocked and dazed. All are under the control of a military controlled by Donald Trump. For their ‘safety’ they are sequestered.

January 6 comes and goes. So does the next week and no new president is certified. On the run up to the date of inauguration, there is no certified successor.

Biden’s partisans go to court but, our Supreme Court is conservative. Many are inclined to Trump’s authoritarianism. The majority like a very, very literal view of the constitution. It says the Senate must certify and it has not. They make clear that without certification, there can be no new president.

They regret the clear language of the constitution and encourage the Senate to act.

One imagines that the killing focused on those who were responsible for ‘the steal’. Those remaining are both terrified (nothing focuses the mind like watching a bunch of people slaughtered) and self-serving.

Maybe Josh Hawley is the new majority leader, they get back into session. This time the objections to the electors’ decisions in those six states are taken very seriously.

They brave the outrage of the liberals, after all, there are now huge amounts of soldiers under Trump’s command in every large city in the country, and only certify ‘legitimate’ electoral votes, ie, those that support Trump.

This scenario came within a minute of being reality. To say we dodged a bullet is understatement.

After putting Trump into office this way, the left would have taken to arms. We would have had a civil war but the big guns are controlled by an unhinged tyrant and would-be dictator who has already shown his thirst for power has no limits. There is no doubt who would have prevailed.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1638608 2021-01-11T13:42:39Z 2021-01-11T15:54:26Z I hereby renounce my complaints about homophobic bakers
So, a small analogy.

For years, when I had to show my ID to buy pseudoephedrine to the pharmacist, I was pissed. I made a point of always explaining that I thought having to identify myself because of someone else's criminality was bullshit.

One day, I was talking about gun registration and had an epiphany. I realized that this was exactly analogous to registering to buy pseudoephedrine. Guns are dangerous and we need to know who buys them. There is no way to know who is innocent so we register everyone... in both cases.

I stopped complaining.

I think today has to be another of those moments. We are happy enough to let the tech companies say, "You are doing something that we consider powerfully against the common good and we will not help you do it."

That is exactly what homophobic bakers say.
TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1638601 2021-01-11T13:35:44Z 2021-01-11T13:35:44Z On Making it Impossible for Parler to Exist
I want these people expunged, too. However, there is huge danger in establishing more buttons and switches that authorities can press to 'make us safer'. The people who passed the USA PATRIOT act created a bunch of them. One led directly, specifically to children in cages and the horror of the treatment of immigrants in this country.

I don't yet have an opinion about the specifics but I worry very, very much that instrumenting the US government with the ability to control the domain name system a terrible thing to do. It's great when Biden stops parler.com. A lot less great when President Josh Hawley does it for plannedParenthood.com. Perhaps horrific when the domains that Apple uses for iMessages are shut off. Or the ones used for signaling by ATT and Verizon.

When people complained to me about Apple refusing to hack iPhones for the police, I have always said that the police managed to investigate crimes without that throughout history. They can still do it. Same with these anarchist groups.

I am fine with the actions being taken right now to deplatform violent speech. Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and the rest are not required to do business with vile people. I am very, very reluctant to have the government control it.

Also, I do not actually think it is wise.

The reason we can shut Parler off and remove command and control (Trump's Twitter) is because they did not feel threatened and did their nasty work with obvious tools. If we make it too difficult for them to exist, they will adapt. Denying them access to tools does not cause them to cease to exist. I will cause them to get smarter and harder to detect and manage.

The fundamental mechanism of evolution is existential threat. If we provide that, they will evolve. I think it's a mistake to imagine that silencing them will work in our interest.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1630309 2020-12-21T15:07:20Z 2020-12-21T15:51:02Z Christmas is a Fake Religion

I been seeing this bit of Christmas revisionism around a lot lately. While I am happy enough for anyone to make up whatever fantasies they need to support their self-image and happiness, my self-image and happiness requires that I take note of the fact that these ideas have no historical merit. They are modern creations.

Christmas trees came to us as first from Yule celebrations as 'yew branches' in the 1700's which then graduated to entire trees, often pine. Though common in England, the fad for trees came to America when magazines started existing and loved to have articles about the spruce trees Queen Victoria's consort, Prince Albert brought from Northern Europe where Yule celebrations were common. Applying a symbolic death and resurrection to the trees is a completely modern innovation.

Candy canes are shaped that way because the ropes of candy are hung over rods like pasta and harden into a U shape. They are broken into two pieces. One has a bend at top. The other is straight. There might have been some candy company that was thinking religious blood thoughts when they made the red stripes but the white color is the color of the cooked sugar mixed with air. 

Yule, like the Saturnalia was celebrated at the solstice and both were big parties with. Saturnalia was Roman so it didn't have pine trees but they did have wreaths which were probably there because they wanted greenery in the winter season, and like Yule, they also had gifts.

Around the fourth century, the western (Roman) Christian churches moved Jesus' birth myth from the spring (the time of year when the sheep and shepherds mentioned in the story would have been around) to coincide with Saturnalia, probably to coopt it into Christianity.

Interestingly, Christmas was not considered a big deal of a holiday until the 1800's. In fact, it was outlawed as an immoral and dangerous party by British Puritans in the 1600's. It came into it's own, I have read, when the industrial revolution encouraged three innovations.

The first was the magazines mentioned above. Articles about the royal court were very popular among the reading classes in America. So was British royalty. By around 1804, Christmas was fashionable again because Queen Victoria liked it.

The next was that childhood became a thing. Before factories, children were worked in the family business/farm like everyone else. With the industrial era, work required expertise. It also created some prosperity. Children were neither able nor expected to work when little (among the elites, blah blah blah). Consequently, they became entertainment for parents and the notion of 'our precious child' came into fashion.

The last was the production of consumer goods. It was around that time that factories started producing meaningful amounts of stuff that were not tools but could provide amusement around the house. This included toys and other things for children.

These three, the fascination over Queen Victoria's tree centered Christmas celebration, the solstice gifting that accompanied Yule and Saturnalia (even though they had no Magi), and the desire to make children happy combined to produce a uniquely American celebration, ie, a capitalist orgy of buying, giving and consuming. The religious significance was always a distant consideration, if not a mere marketing excuse.
TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1628534 2020-12-16T16:40:56Z 2020-12-16T17:50:12Z RE: 14th Amendment and Not Seating Texas Litigation Supporters
I believe that there is a case to be made for not seating the bastards. Hell, I believe there is a case to be made for killing them. For me the question isn’t what we can do but what can we do to do some good.

My analysis of the current situation includes the idea that Trump has gotten us all hysterical. The constant antagonism and affront have put both sides, his supporters and us, in a fight or flight mode that is making everyone crazy. There are a lot of people, mostly on his side, that are otherwise reasonable humans who are doing shit that they would never consider at any other time in their lives.

I think that Joe Biden is right. The most important thing right now is to lower the temperature. Sure, we have the right to keep going in the bar fight and we are winning but, if nobody stops throwing punches, it can never stop. I think that it is best right now for our side to take the peaceful option whenever it is possible.

I am under no illusion that this solves anything in a long term way. The haters are still going to hate and those who will be subversive in pursuit of their own power will continue to do be evil. The problems will continue and will have bad consequences. However, we are in a moment when nobody can think anymore and those who are not fully bad people are still in the bar, swinging their fists because they are being told that we are swinging at them.

I do not thing we should, now that we have won the election, start actually swinging. I think that an effort to try to deny representation to people in those districts, even if justifiable, would represent actual swinging. It would encourage continued hysteria on both sides. This is the reason that I also hope Biden’s justice department decides to leave Trump alone. (States are different actors prosecuting for actual crimes that he mostly did outside of being president. I support their continuing efforts.)

I do support denying the people who supported the Texas litigation seats on committees. I believe that is a proportional consequence. It does not deny the people who voted for them representation in Congress.

None of the problems are going away because of this but it does allow a moment of relative quiet during which those who are not as evil can recover their senses. It also allows our side to pause and focus.
TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1625544 2020-12-07T22:08:50Z 2020-12-07T22:08:51Z It is Right to Close Restaurants and Open Malls There are three main reasons for the different treatment of malls and restaurants, the physical nature of the spaces, the behavior of the people and the activities engaged.

Malls are huge. They have a lot of air and big, active ventilation systems. Virus particles are diluted by all the air in the space and do not accumulate because the ventilation is so good. Because malls are always large corporations, they have better maintenance and equipment.

Restaurants are not huge. They often have lame ventilation systems and, because many of them are tiny corporations, they are often not well maintained. Particles have been well proven to accumulate.

People visit malls for relatively short periods of time and they are moving the whole time. This means that, even if there are a lot of particles in some spot, the fact that you are only there for a minute means you don't have time to breath in very many.

People sit in restaurants for hours, in one spot. If there are any particles nearby, you are there long enough to make sure to breath them all.

People barely talk in malls and, in decent places, they are masked when they do. Talking (singing, shouting, and otherwise using your breath) significantly increases the amount of particles emitted.

The only thing to do in a restaurant is talk except when eating. The fact that you have to take off your mask to eat makes the fact that you are doing a maximum particle activity even worse.

Which is to say, it *does* make sense to close restaurants and open malls.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1624281 2020-12-04T13:37:33Z 2020-12-04T13:39:08Z Three Faces of Don
Donald Trump is mentally ill. Like, Three Faces of Eve mentally ill. Instead of being forced to kiss his aunt's corpse, he had the brutal insanity of Fred Trump running a house where no kindness was allowed, no kindness ever shown, no one cared about the children at all except to encourage personality destruction at any sign of weakness.

Donald Trump is really living in an alternate reality, like one of Eve's alternate personalities. He not only cannot but does not believe that losing exists for him. Just as Eve's personalities were able to refer to each other as if they were real, for Trump, reality does not include him losing.

To have that as part of his world is to court the end of his ego, not in the grandiose sense, in the sense of his ability to see or know himself. His underlying psychological state is that he would cease to exist as a person if he ever lost. He exists, therefore he wins.

It is sick but it is more tragic than anything else.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1622517 2020-11-29T14:32:00Z 2020-11-29T14:32:00Z The Religious Freedom Death Wish Society


The term essential involves a calculation of risk and benefit. Campgrounds are housing for some category of people, their owners will go broke without customers and as outdoor facilities, the are very, very low risk.

Risk in this case derives from some combination of proximity, time and expected behavior.

People pass through liquor stores and banks for minutes at a time. Same with most businesses characterized as non-essential. That lowers the risk a great deal. From that perspective, you cannot distinguish them from grocery stores.

While I think it's ridiculous, my insurance company considers acupuncture a sufficiently important health service that they pay for it. That puts them on the positive side for benefits. Though the experience takes time, as a medical business, mask compliance is expected to be high. Lower risk.

Churches are like bars. People go there, stay a long time and engage in risky behaviors. Any mask that is not professionally fitted is going to allow plenty of virus laden particles out of each person when they are speaking in tongues, singing or whatever other stuff they do.

Close proximity means that someone else can readily (again, unless the mask is professionally fitted it's a risk reduction) not elimination) that someone stands a decent chance of inhaling it.

Further, liquor cannot be made at home. Nor can food or bicycle parts. God, otoh, can be worshipped anywhere. Your imam can council you with zoom. The calculation of essential includes, or should include, whether or not the good or service can be made available otherwise.

Also, the economic harm to the proprietor. Synogogues might have a claim of harm over high holiday ticket sales (an appalling practice) but I've not heard of many others selling tickets for services.

I think that Sunstein is right. This is not an important advance of conservatism. It is much less awful than decisions for Hobby Lobby, Little Sisters of Intolerance, etc.

However, it does signal two awful things. First, it shows zero deference to local authorities in dealing with a life threatening pandemic. (If this was in the future and the test positivity rate was not skyrocketing around the country, a different balance would occur even to me.)

It was implemented as a preliminary injunction exempting religious types from public safety rules. This is usually done based on some idea of irreversible harm. They have just said, "Sure you say you're so-called scientists say this is important to avoid death but death is only bad if you can't go to church." Fuck off, atheists, live in their pandemic.

Second, the establishment clause has become like the second amendment, a death wish for democracy. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act has to be repealed for democracy to function. Gun control has to be possible. We have to find ways to stop these lunatic interpretations of the constitution.

None of this will happen because the Supreme Court, while not signaling a new conservative extremism today, has signaled that human lives do not matter compared to observing the faith. They have made clear that practicality plays no role in their justice. It's easy to imagine that the machine gun prohibition that was perfectly legal in the nineties will be overruled if it happens today. I have no doubt that it is now legal to shout Fire! in a theater.

They have signaled that they think it just and fair that all of us die for principle, even insane ones, as long as you can tie it back to something they love. Freedom of religion never seems to include my freedom to worships zero-religion unimpaired.

i'll add finally that they also chose to prohibit this as a preliminary injunction done without a fact record. Had they asked, Cuomo's experts could doubtless have explained real facts instead of my ignorant and imaginary rationales. The emergency isn't dying sick people. The emergency is that people can't go sing religious songs at each other. It ridiculous.

The real emergency is right-wing religious nuts taking over our country.

TQ White II