It might be time...

It looks like livejournal is falling into the clutches of a dictator. It might be time to so farewell. It is a shame that the web is so poisonous and terribly designed now. It all disgusts me. Livejournal was a good starting point, but everything raced to the bottom to become the outrage/distraction/attention machine that the web has become. It truly disgusts me. I know how much better things could be, and we can't have it because of money, power, and the frailties of our nature.

Anyone know how to get all the data off of livejournal? ALL posts, and ALL replies?


Had a terrifying Trumpcounter... the kind of thing that is going to happen more and more often until we have to abandon the continent for northern Canada. I was driving north on Tucson Boulevard when a woman having a breakdown of some sort wandered into traffic ahead of me. She wasn't in my lane, but I stopped, because she was being erratic. She stood on the striped line between two lanes (she was crossing against the light). She bent over and pulled a piece of paper out of her backpack. It said "TRUMP" in white letters over an American flag.

By this time, the person behind me was honking and yelling at me because all they could see was that the light was green. So, the person behind me jerked out into the left turn lane to go around me. Seeing this, the woman in the midst of a nervous breakdown quickly crossed in front of me holding the piece of paper with the word "TRUMP" on it like it was... some kind of magical force or something. The honking person was looking at me, honking and yelling, "It's green, asshole!" and almost hit the crazy woman. She slammed on her brakes in the nick of time. The crazy woman ran back for her backpack at which point the honker peeled out and made it through the light on yellow. Good job! Way to make the light!

Anyway. The woman having a nervous breakdown picked up her backpack, finished crossing and then turned north to cross Speedway. Speedway is a six lane 40 mph boulevard. It is the busiest street in all of Tucson. She held out her "TRUMP" sign and wandered right in front of cars that were going about 25 - 30 mph. I am honking like crazy at this point in an attempt to just raise some kind of alarm. She crossed. She would stop a car and hold the "TRUMP" sign out in front of her, and then start pointing at cars coming straight at her in the next lane with one hand while holding the sign in the other. She was screaming gibberish at this point. I coudn't make any of it out. She got across the street in this manner, but she was very nearly killed a couple of times.

I finally went through the light on the next cycle. She was putting her "TRUMP" sign into a manila folder in her backpack at this point. I decided I wanted to come back and observe to try to see if there was any conceivable way I could intervene to keep this person from getting killed. Or... at least... if she got killed, make sure it was by someone in a pickup truck festooned with TRUMP bumperstickers. I turned around and came back down south on Tucson to the same intersection from the other direction. At this point, she was screaming and pulling her sweatpants off. I decided to not intervene in any way. The reason to make a call to the Police to request a "mental health check" is to prevent this woman from traumatizing someone who might accidentally kill her with their car. I didn't have a phone. And I wasn't going to speak to her. I figured I'd drive around the block a few times and try to observe the situation from afar.

She seemed to calm down and the last time I saw her she was walking down Speedway with her pants off (she had a longish t-shirt on) and one shoe on.

The thing that concerns me is the displaying of the "TRUMP" sign with the American flag background. These troglodytes are all fired up. They are feeling empowered. And they have very strange ideas. Authoritarianism breeds this kind of odd, magical thinking. This woman was like some kind of medieval wizard waving this sigil around. In her mind, it had the power to *literally* stop traffic. She had, in her mind, accomplished something. She had "shown us." What it was that she thought she was showing us is mysterious and personal. We were being shown something. We were being taught a lesson. And I don't think this sort of thing is going to stop. I think it's going to get worse.

How to Find a Job Doing What You Love!

Chapter 5 - Compromise

Great job! You've discovered what your life's passion is. You've discovered the circumstances under which you can do it! Now we need to figure out how to make that into your life's work! Let's continue with Miguel. Miguel's life passion is to skip stones on a placid, isolated pond in the wilderness while wearing his birthday suit. That's a dream worth having, and soon we will help Miguel to find his dream!

First, his birthday suit. That's great. What a dream worth having. And Miguel we can get you about halfway there. We can get you a job where you wear a suit. Remember, compromise is the key! We can't always get what we want. But if we try, we find we just might get what you need. And in this case, you need to wear a suit to your new job!

Second, a placid, isolated pond in the wilderness! What's "wilder" than an office full of cubicles? I can't think of anything, because that's where I've spent the bulk of my life over the last thirty years! And what's more isolating than the stark anomie of modernity? Nothing. We've worked hard to create a soulless, breathless, confining prison for your mind, Miguel! So, you're wearing a suit to your office!

Finally, skipping stones... Well, people like to skip their insurance payments don't they? They just want to float across the pond of life, the scumbags. And when people skip their insurance payments, their claims need to be denied, don't they? So, put on your suit and skip to your new job denying people's claims over the phone in your cubicle. I mean, actually, it's not a cubicle. You get a cubicle after about eight years, depending. It's a long desk with a partial partition between you and the person sitting next to you. Truly WILD!

A Science Experiment

I would like to do this somewhat simple science experiment.

Present people with blank cards on an assembly line, and ask them to select the cards that are slightly misshapen in some specific way. About 1 in 50 cards will be misshapen. It will be some obvious thing, like a corner is cut off. Here's the rub... one in ten cards will be a different color. It will be just-noticably different. That's it...

You see that just noticeable difference? The color difference is not what the subject is scanning for. The subject is scanning for say... a punch hole in the middle of the card like this:

And again, only about 1 in 50 cards will have the hole punched in it. The subject will control the rate at which the cards appear. I think this can even be done on computer. So in the experiment there will be basically two factors: how often the "defect" occurs, and how often a different, but non-defective card appears. I want to see what combination of rates, changes the attention of the subject. That's it. I am betting that this or something similar has been done a long, long time ago. My hunch is that if one is looking for a very rare defect (a 1 in 50 defect) and it is in the midst of a common non-defect difference (the slight variation in color of ~ 1 in 10 cards), that the subject will zero in on the non-defect difference, and spend more time and attention on the non-defect difference than the "normal" cards.

Come to think of it, I think it would be better if the non-defective but "different" cards are different because of their shape rather than their color.

I think you can guess what this experiment would "prove."

It's a Thing

Where would one go to discuss "a thing?" Why do I want to discuss this "thing?" What "thing" are you talking about? The thing is not an object. It is a behavior. The behavior is this: Walking (or strutting, frankly) down the sidewalk with ear buds in, LOUDLY rapping and gesticulating. The gesticulations are like the kind people did when "spoken word" was a big deal. The person doing this will often get very wild. It is uncomfortable to watch. They are sometimes unaware of their circumstances. For instance, they will veer out into, or very close to the street. What is this? Why are people doing this now?

sigil bleeding

So... if you have a legal right to hold a sign... you get sign spinners. The sign spinner has a legal right to hold a sign, and a legal right to wear a bowler hat. For a few months you have a sign spinner out there with a sign and a bowler hat on. Everyone knows that that guy with a bowler hat has a right to stand there with his sign. One day, he hangs his sign up on a nearby pole for a few minutes, and rests his bowler hat on the corner of the sign so people know, "Bowler hat guy is taking a leak, he'll be back in ten minutes." Eventually, by familiarity, the "right" to stand there is shifted from the person TO THE BOWLER HAT. And the next thing you know, it's "legal" to put up a sign as long as you hang a bowler hat off it. And then someone steals the bowler hat, so you PRINT A BOWLER HAT ON THE SIGN. Then you progressively make the bowler hat smaller and smaller...

This is the magic trick.

We see it all the time in other arenas. You put a bumper sticker on your car, next to an American Flag bumpersticker. Gradually, over time, the two are connected in people's minds. American Flag... Marine... American Flag... Marine... American Flag... Marine... Conclusion? Marines are MORE AMERICAN than you, and therefore have more legal rights than you. Why? Magic trick that's why. FLAG FLAG FLAG FLAG. Want to see it work? Put a rainbow flag on your car, and put an American Flag next to it. See how long it takes for someone to vandalize your car.

I am seeing it now with the Confederate Battle Flag. People put a Marines sticker on their car, and an American Flag on one side of it, and now... lately... for the last let's say... six weeks, I am seeing the Confederate Battle Flag on the other side of the Marines bumpersticker. Is this a good thing? No it sure as shit is not a good thing. But who will do something? No one, of course. Because there is also a rifle rack in the window of the truck. Message received. I am MORE THAN YOU. I have MORE RIGHTS. You are LESS THAN. And if you have something to say about it, I WILL FUCKING KILL YOU.

And the left lets this happen, not by permitting them to do it... but by accepting their terms. When people started putting the rainbow flag on their Priuses, they should have put the American flag next to it. But they didn't. They accepted that the Rainbow Flag is IN OPPOSITION to the American flag. And now we are seeing the Confederate Battle Flag being blithely, casually accepted next to the American flag. All I am saying is that "we" have as much right to the American flag as "they" do. But we aren't willing to accept the violence that will inevitably follow attaching the symbol to our causes. Because we accept their framing, their martyrdom, and their legal superiority over us.

paralegal sign spinners

The sign spinning craze has died down, because people find them to be trashy and offensive and distasteful and methy and annoying as fuck. But I've been thinking of what a fascinating battle it was over the last ten years or so.

This has to do with peoples' rights and their ability to SELL their rights, which fascinates me. For instance, it is illegal to affix a sign to a utility pole. But it is NOT illegal to stand there holding (or waving) a sign. So people sell their free speech when they become sign spinners. That's what they're selling. The whole spinning aspect is an extra thing. So... what happens is sleazy businesses like pawnshops put up signs and they get taken down. Then they hire sign spinners because a person has the legal right to HOLD a sign.

Having established that a person has a right to HOLD a sign, the pawn shop then has the person stand there HOLDING a sign WITH A LARGER SIGN next to the person on the sidewalk. Then gradually, they reduce the number of hours that sign spinner works! For instance, they'll have the sign spinner stand out there for an hour in the morning and the evening. Then if the police come and say, "You can't just have a sign out there," they can (and do) say, "Ohh... that's the SIGN SPINNER'S sign." And if the police say, "The sign spinner isn't there," they reply, "He's on break." Having that retort then permits the pawn shop to pull a slick move. You hire the sign spinner for less and less time progressively. Any time anyone complains, they've pulled a sort of moving of the goalposts. They have slid the window of the argument, and now they can put a big, trashy, ugly piece of shit sign out on the corner. They have a spinner next to it for the minimum number of hours a day they can get one to "legitimatize" the standing sign. Then when there are complaints, they send an employee out for a little while holding an emergency spinner. Then the cop leaves and the employee comes back inside.

They have taken other bizarre actions as well. The oddest one is to fire the sign spinner altogether and have a rotating sign affixed to a mannequin out on the sidewalk, but within sight of the store. That is bizarre. What they are trying to do here is shift some of the legal "magic" onto the act of moving the sign in and of itself. What makes the sign illegal, the para-thinking goes is not the person holding it, but rather the fact that the person holding it is moving. So bizarre. But this is how scumbags slide laws around to favor themselves.

Thankfully this is all fading. But I expect it all to make a comeback under Twitler with cries of, "Come on! I'm a BUSINESS man! I'm trying to MAKE A LIVING!" which justifies breaking the law in some people's minds for some bizarre reason.

Half-hatched Messages

I recall a bumpersticker I saw a while ago. It read, "Capitalism: Making lazy people whine since 1776." Now, I know the point of this bumpersticker is that the message transmitter, the car owner, was announcing, "I'm not lazy, unlike all you pieces of shit who I have to WORK for and support. You shiftless Liberal scum." Something like that. And the 1776 part is either in reference to the Declaration of Independence or The Wealth of Nations. I'm not sure which, if either. The point is that there is a Gilded Age, in the past, when people weren't lazy, liberal pieces of shit like YOU, but rather, they were manly, responsible, real MEN, god dammit! LIKE ME. You piece of shit. And of course, by "lazy people" they could be implying some racist garbage too.

Now I don't want to get bogged down in the specifics of this one bumpersticker. What gets me is the perplexing, self-contradictory non-sequiteurs that people manage to pack into bumpersticker length aphorisms. When you see one, you think, "Okay... I sort of get what you are trying to say, but... What the fuck? You make no sense." These messages seem to come from a different world that I do not understand. In many cases, I can't understand them because they make no sense.

I can try to parody them, but it never quite works. I don't actually believe the nonsense. So, it's difficult to capture the essence. And the people who (sort of) hold these views are aware of how stupid they look to other people. But they also think everyone else is stupid for not "getting it." The messages come from a place of deluded doublethink. And the holders of these views are perfect vessels of doublethink. When you ask, "What the hell does that even mean?" They sense that you are digging for more information so as to more effectively mock them. So they will often play it off as a joke. The message is not meant to make sense. It's made to make nonsense to other people who think nonsensically, the way they think nonsensically. It's not JUST a dogwhistle though. It's a nonsense dogwhistle. These messages aren't a simple 2+2=5. They aren't just nonsense arithmetic. They are nonsense algebra built on a long list of unstated 2+2=5 propositions.

I'd like more examples, if you see them out in the wide world.

Things like, "Out of work? Like Healthcare? Try Hillary. Yeah, right. Call me in the morning!"

What? What could this possibly even mean? That's not something I saw. I am trying to make up examples of this kind of nonsense. But it's hard to think nonsensically on purpose. There's a big element of unstated premises in there. The message presumes the receiver holds many premises in common with the transmitter.

Don't like starving? Try Obamacare. As if! Mow your own lawn.


Instant Justice!

I had a rare "Instant Justice" moment. I was driving home from delivering a few books to a few different Little Free Libraries. I was on a four lane road, two lanes in each direction, with a speed limit of 35. I am going 37, with the cruise control on. So, from way far back I can see a car coming up real fast. There are two lanes, mind you. There is no one else on the road. He gets right up on my ass, backs off, rushes up, backs off, rushes up, and then belaboredly puts on his turn signal, rushes around me and really aggessively gets right in front of me as we come up to a green light. And he stops at the green light.

This is classic road rage. I am sorry I was driving the speed limit on a road where there is a whole second lane for you to pass me. I was prepared to apologize. I know what is going on. We have a Prius, and some people around here are getting very aggressive. So, I am prepared for something along the lines of, "Every goddamn day one of you Liberal piece of shit Prius motherfuckers CUTS ME OFF," and yadda yadda yadda. I look in the rearview mirror. There is no one on the road, so I am prepared to just pop it in reverse and get the hell out of there.

But lo! Waiting at the intersection, at a red light, to turn left onto the street me and Mr. Road Rage are on is a Police Cruiser. Maniac McGee does not notice the Police Officer, he opens his car door, and apparently notices the cop just as he is stepping out of his car. He quickly gets back in, puts on his turn signal and turns right. The cop immediately does a lights on U-Turn! INSTANT JUSTICE!

I can just imagine this asshole, "You don't understand, officer! That guy was driving 10 miles an hour! I swear to God! He's drunk! Pull HIM over! I was trying to save lives!"

Abdicating to Anarchy

I have noticed a strange decision, or lack of a decision, in certain private spaces, that may serve as a metaphor, or a guide for modern thinking in society at large. It has to do with the self-checkout layout in modern stores. It has to do with the ruleset surrounding the lines. Basically, the stores have abdicated to anarchy. It's interesting. Someone had to do calculations or test a model, or possibly watch hours of video to come up with this idea. When there is a new way of doing things, there must be a ruleset to go along with it. If there's a new lane for "High Occupancy Vehicles" on the highway, then a new ruleset must be constructed to go along with it. And that means there will be unexpected interpretations of the new ruleset.

And this happened in the self-checkout. The stores had a choice. They could establish a ruleset and make it obvious and unavoidable, or they could say, "Anything goes!" And they consciously chose "Anything goes!" And I think I know why. If you establish a ruleset, by say, posting a sign that says, "LINE FOR ALL CHECKSTANDS FORMS HERE" then you are inviting unexpected interpretations, and further, you are expecting angry customers to come to YOU for resolution of the unexpected interpretations. For instance... Say someone stands in the line when it is short, their place comes up, they walk over to the open self-checkout stand, start the process and then, "Oops! I forgot a few things!" Ha ha! What a forgetful Sally you are! So, they walk away and get five or six things. Where does one draw the line? The same "accidents" cause problems at "counter serve" restaurants. Well, not accidents... The same thing happens when you go to a "counter serve" restaurant.

Let's say there's one group in front and three open tables when you walk into a "counter serve" restaurant. You stand in line, get a menu and wait. Then the people in front of you are, of course, taking their merry time ordering. And another group walks in. They see a bunch of people standing in line, and what do they do? They walk over to one of the three open tables and put down their coats and purses and shit and then get in line behind you. Well... it's no big deal. There are still two open tables, and at the rate the assholes in front of you are ordering, some other table will probably leave before you sit down anyway. And then another group comes in and sees an even bigger line and pulls the same stunt as the group directly behind your group... coats and tables in an open booth. Now, you are screwed.

And what happens? You end up sitting outside or something. You sit down at a table that just cleared out and someone who works at the restaurant gets all huffy at your group for making unnecessary work. But it's NOT YOUR FAULT. It's the fault of the assholes who came in after you and put their shit down. If they hadn't done that then you would have sat at an open table and the table that you are now sitting at would have been cleared while they ordered. But they had to fuck shit up.

Same sort of thing back at the grocery store with someone standing in line, getting the self-checkout and then running off to actually do their shopping. I haven't seen that happen, actually, but I am sure it does. The point is this: When the establishment doesn't use signs or other explicit indicators to demonstrate what behavior is expected, people will do whatever the fuck they want to do. People might do whatever the fuck they want to do even when signs and other behavioral cues are in place in any case. So no matter what happens, when things get busy, there will be conflict.

Here's the rub: If the establishment makes rules, when people find "exceptions" that happen to favor them (and some people are experts at finding "emergencies" and "exceptions" that give them priority) then the people they are fucking over, the people behind them in line will blame the establishment. But if the establishment makes no attempt at establishing a ruleset, then people will blame the violator. And hold the establishment blameless. And this is happening often in places where rulesets should be strict. The establishments, by abdicating to anarchy, are shifting the responsibility onto the customers to come up with techniques and strategies to insure fair access. It's a really shitty thing to do. Now in addition to checking out and paying for your crap, you have to negotiate a complicated set of behaviors with strangers with absolutely no cues or behavioral standards.

I didn't make it clear... the main conflict is... Let's say there are six checkout stands. Are there six lines, one for each checkstand? Are there two lines, one for the checkstands on the right, and one for the checkstands on the left? Or is there one line for all six? You go and stand there in the middle, but if you are off to one side or the other, then some guy behind you looks at the situation, and sees that one of the customers on the right group of three is about to be done, and this guy... this asshole... decides, because at this moment it favors him, that the "rule" is two lines, one for each group of three checkstands. And he comes up and stands to your side. What do you do? What can you do? He knows he's being an asshole. And you know for good and goddamn sure that if you did the same thing to him, he would suddenly decide that the rule is, "one line for all six checkstands."