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The Lessons of Brexit

2016-06-28

Category: politics

A little over half of the United Kingdom just voted to leave the European Union. The fallout is still to be determined, of course. Though I don't actually have any say in the matter, not being British, I still think of leaving as a stupid move. Someone I know argues that the Brits have simply voted to maintain their sovereignty and that is a good thing. That argument misses the point.

Imagine that you have a tray in front of you and on the tray there is a fork and there is a flower. You are presented with the choice to either smell the flower or to stick the fork in your eye. You may say that it is your right to choose. I will not argue that point; it is definitely your right to choose. However, if you choose to stick the fork in your eye, I am going to call you a moron. (Actually, I probably won't use such a family-friendly word.)

Having sovereignty doesn't automatically require that you be be separate. You have the right to get into cooperative partnerships that benefit you. Choosing to break such partnerships just to spite your partners is probably not in your best interest. It earns you the same respect that you would have gotten from sticking a fork into yourself.

Since the vote, reports of racial and xenophobic crimes have increased in England. That tells you a bit about the ones who really wanted to get out of the E. U. At that point, you may want to ask yourself if you want to side with those people. If you have to ask, "Those people are really horrible; am I one of them?" you may want to rethink your position.

You may be wondering what business it is of mine. That's a good question too. Here are your answers. First, as you may have heard, this exit has caused great disruption to the world economy. An economy only works if everyone is playing by the same set of expected rules. When the rules change, people get nervous and stop playing. In this particular case, no one knows what the new rules are going to be yet. It is going to take a while for all of this to settle down.

Second, rises in nationalism, particularly when accompanied by xenophobic violence, has had a bad history on this planet. It wasn't that long ago that perfectly rational people elected One-Nut to power. (Technically they elected his party to power and the party elected him chancellor and things just got a little crazy from there.) It doesn't take much to stampede normal people into wholesale, stupid violence.

The third reason this concerns me is that many of the people who voted to leave have characteristics of loud, angry people in the United States. I have to wonder if this encourages the locals or if they can learn from the Brits. In general, I don't associate learning with these particular people. There is a good chance that we could have a little exit from good sense of our own.

Regardless of where you stand on the Brexit, or the upcoming American elections, you can probably agree that people should do some thinking before they vote. Representative government works best when the voters are informed about the subject or person they are voting on. Fortunately, I have enough nihilism in me to not worry about it too much.


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Pathetic Crybaby Shoots up Nightclub

2016-06-21

Category: General

On June 12, 2016, a pathetic crybaby lashed out at the world by shooting up a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing nearly fifty people and injuring a little over fifty more. There is outrage about this, of course, because this is just another in a long line of shootings. Some blame the easy access to firearms. Some blame a lack of mental health resources. Basically, people are blaming the things they normally blame. I have another idea.

A few decades back, some people realized that successful people had higher self esteem. This also appeared in children. With the best of intentions, they decided that if the can boost the self esteem of children then the children would become more successful. As a result, children were told that everyone's a winner and there would be no losers. Participation awards became the norm.

Since then, there have been plenty of articles about the Millennials growing up to unprepared for some of the harsh realities of life. Though they are adapting better as word has gotten out that jobs don't pay for self esteem, there are still some issues out there. As with all humans, some adapt better than others.

The Freudian psychologists will tell you that the superego is what defines your concept of where you fit in the world. What's more, they say this image is formed in early childhood, often by the age of five. Imagine that your early childhood is filled with participation ribbons and an artificially enforced level result field (not a level playing field where one's strengths and weaknesses apply). It would tell you that everything should be handed to you so that you have what everybody else has.

Now, that same person grows into their teens and twenties. Nobody is giving you anything and you are seeing, not learning, that there are winners and losers. This world is abhorrent in the eyes of your superego. It is wrong! How do you deal with that? For some, they may struggle with mental health, either with or without treatment. Some may just drift through life, sort of giving up on effort or understanding things. For a few, though, there is a clear way to cope.

This is where the second part comes in. Every time there is a shooting, it is big news. The perpetrators have gone out in a blaze of glory and will be remembered forever. Even dead at the end, these people have done something. To the few people who see a severe conflict between their childhood ideal world and the adult version, this provide the socially mandated way to deal with it.

"Socially mandated?" you ask.

Yes, that is the method we all talk about. That is the thing we all discuss at great length. These shootings fit into the category of Notable Event and that is all one of these shooters need to regain their self esteem. Even when someone says they are only going to talk about the victims so as not to glorify the shooter, they are still acknowledging the shooter's work. You've basically given the shooter the title of One Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken, and that is way cool in the mind of one of these people.

There are only three things we can do to minimize these shootings, and they must be done together. First, start teaching kids that they will be judged on their efforts and that, due to social and economic factors, some of them will have to try harder to get the same results (but they can get results through hard, intelligent work). Second, we need to address the kids who were already told that everyone's a winner and provide them tools to cope and adapt to actual reality.

The third thing is probably the most important and the one that will be the hardest to pull off. We have to remove the positive self esteem factor from being a shooter. It is important that every shooter be described as a pathetic loser who has basically thrown a temper tantrum. Was it a major temper tantrum resulting in carnage? Sure, the shooter did it because he was a loser who just couldn't deal with life like a normal person. We have to make it clear that even the lowest members of society (regardless of how you define that) are more capable of coping with life than one of these crybabies that had to lash out with a gun because they were so pathetic. This is the only way to remove the positive self esteem factor from these shootings.

Unfortunately, there is no way to make this happen. Glorifying shootings is big business for news outlets. Other businesses sell t-shirts and bumper stickers mourning the tragedy. Politicians get a vehicle to spout whatever they typically spout. The general population is titillated by the horror of other people's suffering and the mystery of the culprit. Except for the shooting victims and those closest to them, almost everybody gains something they want from the shootings. That makes it hard to paint the shooter as a loser.


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Throwing Your Vote Away

2016-06-11

Category: politics

For decades now, the two major parties have told you that voting for a third party was effectively throwing away your vote. The reasoning was that the major party candidates were the only ones that stood a chance of winning, so voting for anyone else was a useless endeavor. Now that the major parties have produced two of the most horrible candidates, the old wisdom may need to be rethought.

Now, it is still extremely likely that one of those two candidates is going to be elected. Voting for a third party candidate won't change any of that. However, if enough people vote for those other parties, it may send a signal that the middle of the road voters are really tired of the extremists in the major parties getting their way.

Ultimately, that is the main issue with the major parties. Hard working, rational people don't have time to be actively involved in parties. This means that the parties are made up of a small part power-hungry politico and filled out with passionate morons. The politicos have found that they can really rouse the rabble with the stupidest of things and so that's what they do. Now both parties are facing major internal divisions and have chosen presidential candidates that worry pretty much everyone who isn't a die hard party member.

I do not belong to a party (my math is too good). There are some things the Republicans want to do that I may agree with, but their attachment to religious extremists keeps me from getting along with them. On the Democrat side, there are things that I like, but the communists and the social justice warriors are just as extreme as any Southern Baptist. That puts me in the middle, and pretty much in line with most Americans.

When this fall's election comes around, voting for one of the appointed Night Mares is the only real act of throwing your vote away. Instead, use your vote to shake up the major parties and see if we can't shake some of their nuts loose.


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I Have Been Slack

2016-06-02

Category: politics

Wow, I can't believe that it has been a little over three years since my last post to this website. Since the last post covered my mortality, it could have left people wondering a bit. I know it left my hosting provider wondering, and wanting to be paid again. In the interest of saving money, I've decided to move the site to someplace much cheaper. In doing so, I noticed my negligence.

In the intervening time since I donned the mantle of LibertyBob, things haven't been going very well. We are in a presidential race where neither of the presumptive major party candidates are very appealing. In addition, I'm hearing people blame the current president of every calamity since the dawn of man. This is not a good situation. I should probably do something.

Slow down a minute; I'm not throwing my hat into the ring for that job. I know better than that. If the job was imperial god-king for life it would be a different story, but I don't want to be president. A person would have to be nuts to want that. Instead, I'm going to suggest that all sane people try to find an alternative candidate and start working on the mother of all write-in campaigns to get a sane person elected.

"But Your Grace, where ever would we find such a person?" you ask.

That's a mighty good question. We need to find someone who has strong leadership skills, isn't a total jerk, and does not belong to an existing political party. It should be a person who understands law, economics, and media in the technological age. This person will probably have to be Christian in order to be agreeable to most voters in the United States. We should probably try to find a good Methodist; they don't seem too hostile toward any of the other denominations. This person should probably a third or more generation American citizen so we don't have to put up with those birther morons.

That really limits things quite a bit. If such a person actually exists, he or she is probably hard at work doing something useful and is not really worried about running for office. That makes this a real challenge. So, like any good Internet challenge, I want you to run with it. Figure out who you think would be a good candidate and start pushing them to the forefront. Tell us who it is down in the comments so the rest of us can know as well.

If we all pull together, we may be able to find someone who really should be in the Oval Office.


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Countdown to Fifteen

2013-04-06

Category: General

I met with my new cardiologist and he took me to heart when I said I wanted to be very scientific in my approach to treatment. He showed me the statistical model used to adjust the treatment of persons with my condition. For men my age with the same condition and treatment there is a ninety-seven percent mortality rate within fifteen years.

Well, that was a little more of the harsh science than I was expecting. My first thought was that fifteen years only takes me to the age of sixty. Then I had the happy thought, "I don't have to save up for retirement!" Then, that passed.

What the stats really say is that, based on historical data, if you gathered one hundred men my age and condition, it is likely that in fifteen years there would only be two other than myself. To be honest, I can probably take them out too. Of course, historical data doesn't take into account the latest technologies and discoveries. When we factor in all the things that may develop in the next decade and a half, I probably do have to save for retirement.

When you see a number like that applied to your life expectancy, it definitely set one to thinking. Just what should I do with the next fifteen years? I don't really have the general sense of malice to become a super villain. I don't have the resources to spread my DNA like Genghis Khan. My acting skills suck sufficiently that I have no chance in becoming a renowned actor. Don't ask me to sing. No really, don't ask me to sing.

One might think that it would be a good time to tighten up on healthful living. The prescribed diet is the same as recommended for everyone else, just slightly less of it. The prescribed exercise is the same, but just a touch more. Even then, the internals may decide to fail for unknown reasons. The trick then is to make a good effort at the healthy living, with just enough cushion to keep life enjoyable and interesting.

After thinking a bit, it occurs to me that I should probably tighten up just a little, but otherwise keep with my current plan. I'll finish grad school and decide where to go from there. In the mean time, I will continue to learn and experience things I always wanted to and never did. Up until now, I've never been one to fit the normal statistics; why should I start now?


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