Archive for September, 2020

My Unpopular Opinion

Saturday, September 26th, 2020

I have some opinions that are unpopular, but this one is perhaps the least-popular out of all of them. But I must say, I’m not being given credible reasons to change my mind.

I think we can all agree that 2020 is not a very good year. Suffering abounds. We who are extremely fortunate have to redefine our notions of “suffering” so we can pretend we’re doing some of it and sharing in the misery, but deep down we know that we’re merely struggling with some occasional trifling inconveniences. Whereas others are literally wondering where their next meals are coming from, or their next month’s rent anyway. We know it’s entirely understandable for us to do some bitching. But we also know we need to be very careful about when & where we’re doing it, and of what’s making us feel like bitching. A lot of the time, in fact most of the time, we have to recognize these feelings as the feelings they are, and STFU about all of it. The old metaphor about the sadness for not having any shoes, “until I met a man who had no feet.” That’s us.

I have an unpopular opinion about masks, but it’s only unpopular among those who make a lot of noise. Among the quiet ones, I suspect — in fact, I know for sure — it’s not really unpopular at all. The idea that the efficacy of masks is on the fringe of established science, and that their applicability is more political than medical, is reinforced so frequently and just so blatantly that you’d have to live in a deep dark hole in order to keep yourself from at least considering it. Which I notice is where a lot of people are living, and those of us who do not live in deep dark holes, are strongly encouraged to do so. Encouraged by the loud people who make lots of noise to live in these deep dark holes. Watch only what you’re told to watch. Don’t think unsanctioned thoughts, etc.

I have an even more unpopular opinion. I think the rules aren’t going to save us. In fact, I think there is something terribly wrong, not only with the rules themselves, but with the people who cook them up and promote them. I think that they think rules are the answer to everything. Once again, it’s not the conclusion reached that I want to criticize, it’s the method by which people get there. Wear a mask! The advice is not wrong; in fact, I support it wholeheartedly if the conditions are right. Seven million people with the Chinese Virus means one out of every 50, and you don’t want to get this. We’re six months into this so that’s ample opportunity to share airspace with an asymptomatic carrier. But why are you riding a bike out on the trails all by yourself with a mask on your face? “I’m a transplant patient and I can’t afford to get this”…so, you wear a cloth mask? That’s the wrong equipment for what you’re trying to do. Such an error could be deadly. It makes an impression on me that I don’t see anyone in a hurry to correct it.

But, the rules people…rules, rules, rules…let’s establish another rule, that’ll solve everything.

They’re way out of control. That’s another one of my opinions, but this one is by no means unpopular. Everyone who’s taken the time to observe and then to give it so much as a moment’s thought has to agree. It’s our second-virus, these “Karens” interrogating us about “Where’s your mask?” and reporting us to the snitch lines if they see us embarking on non-essential errands. They’re not completely wrong. Intelligent people, by definition, have to adapt to new situations by way of changing their own understanding of what’s normal vs. what’s not, and it was always a given that we’d have to accept a new way of life. But they’re not completely right either. The reluctance to re-evaluate these new rules after we gave the rules a fair try and found out they’re not the right way to go. If you can’t admit you were wrong about your new rules, then what good does this adaptive intelligence do for anybody? And yet the situation persists. We’ve got a lot of people walking around among us who think rules solve all problems. Real life gives them a mid-course correction, but they don’t get corrected. They keep marching along in the same direction and at the same velocity, not surrendering even so much as a blip of momentum. They learn nothing…even when the suffering is their own…which it rarely is. Hmmm, maybe that’s the issue.

When we’re chasing arrow decals on the floor while shopping for groceries, turning into quivering neurotics who’ve discovered we’re pointing the grocery cart the wrong way even though we can’t do anything about it, it’s gone too far.

But that’s not an unpopular opinion.

I have an unpopular opinion that this “rules solve everything” mindset is not only in error, but may in fact be a serious mental illness. It would have been officially diagnosed as such if we lived back in the days where your continuing survival was fastened to your ability to think clearly. My opinion is that it’s not being officially diagnosed because, and only because, this is not the case. Everybody’s continuing survival is everybody else’s responsibility, and this has driven us crackers. I think there are people out there who simply cannot recognize that these useful technological innovations we enjoy, are the products of independent thinking. Chaotic, ramshackle roughshod thinking, in some kind of “Frankenstein’s Lab” — some cloister in which rules did not apply. We have new things we didn’t have before because someone had to say “I’ll do this because I’m not seeing any rules telling me I can’t do it”; maybe they even broke a rule to do it! And there are people who can’t even consider the possibility of that. They are so far gone that they think we have electric light because someone made a rule that we should have it. They think we put men on the moon because JFK expressed the desire that we should do it. They think we’re going to hit “climate change” targets in 2050 or 2100 because of these unelected, unappointed, unaccountable busybodies on commissions and panels make their “accords” and other rules saying we should hit them, and once we hit them the credit should go to the busybodies…who’ve never produced a thing someone else would want to buy, or helped to so produce, ever, for a single moment in their entire lives. I think there are people who don’t acknowledge the ones who sweat out the details, who go through the trial & error to see if something works, because they’re simply unaware of the necessity. They think forming the “vision” is all of the hard work that has to be done. I think they’re that far gone, because we’re in the Idiocracy now, not chased by any natural predators or threatened by any natural threats. I think the entire human race, at least that part of it that manages to make some noise, is a failure-to-launch kid who doesn’t know what a farm is, doesn’t know how food is grown, slaughtered, processed, and thinks the process of acquiring it consists solely of yelling at your mama that it’s time for her to bring a Hot Pocket to your bedroom.

I’ll say right now that’s not my most unpopular opinion. I’m still going after something else. But let me elaborate on this one: Politicians just love these “mom-wanna-hot-pocket-now” people. These people think we have cars and air conditioning and elevators because someone made a rule, and that means they’re giving the politicians all of the credit for everything. They think Barack Obama actually busted out His own wallet, pulled out some bills, and gave them the health care they need. My own Governor is kowtowing to them with a new rule that says no gas-powered cars sold here, at all, starting in 2035. Such bold leadership!

It’s not an unpopular opinion that this is the wrong way to go. It may be an unpopular opinion that this has all the trappings of a mental illness, but I wouldn’t write a blog post called “My Unpopular Opinion” about that. It’s not that unpopular.

No…my unpopular opinion is about bullying.

These days it has become quite popular to take part in building a new world that has no bullying. Now as I think about this just casually, at first I have to agree. It seems hypocritical not to climb onto the bandwagon. As a child I was one of the unpopular ones, I didn’t hit my growth spurt until rather late, and although I came out of it taller than most I spent nearly all of childhood shorter than most. I was bullied a lot. I understand bullying. There’s something wrong with the bullies. My own bullies were wounded, incomplete people and I could see that at the time.

In adulthood, as I look at some of the problems I solved, I can see I’m now paying my mortgage entirely by way of solving the problems that weren’t supposed to be solvable. I suppose in some way or another that’s true of all of us who pay mortgages, or at least some of us. A big chunk, more than just me. Now, how do we solve the truly vexing problems, the ones that are sufficiently challenging that maybe lots of others have tried to solve them and haven’t been able to do it. The problems that are sufficiently difficult that the solution, should it ever be presented and found viable, is naturally imbued with economic value. Such problems cannot be solved simply by way of following instructions. How do we do that?

The very first step is to conquer the feeling of frustration. To move past the “Well, this sucks” sentiment. To click past that notch, into the “So what are we gonna do about it?” And put some thought into that. The evaluation of whether or not the problem is solvable, with the resources currently available, comes right after that.

Bullying is essentially tapping on the glass to get the fish to move. It is the act of placing the bullying-victim in a situation he can’t escape, one in which his desire for the bullying to stop, intense as it may be, is entirely irrelevant. It is the creation of a situation in which all that matters is how the subject chooses to respond. Like many who make a living with their intellect, I am paying bills because — and only because — it is in my nature to obsess over how I choose to respond to perplexing situations, and how I feel about the situation is far less important to me. Like all of us who have a pulse, I did not emerge from the womb this way. I had to be changed. It’s not that I don’t feel bad when situations make me feel bad. I just naturally click past the notch because my clicker has been worn down to an un-clicker. It’s because of something missing, not because of something that’s there. I guess you could call that childhood abuse of some kind?

But the fact remains, that’s how we solve problems. Maybe I should hunt down the bullies from my childhood and give them a big thank you. I’ve often thought so. Maybe I should shower them with some huge checks? But if I did that, I’d have to leave enough in reserves to pay off the piece-of-crap cowardly “teachers” who didn’t do anything about the bullying and told me to handle it myself. I’d have to pay them even more, I think. They told me to handle it myself, so I did. Then the bully and I both got hauled off to the Principal’s office for fighting…and I learned firsthand how hollow and fake authority can be sometimes. The bully never bullied me again though. So many valuable lessons in one day…and none of them in the classroom.

I have to admit that if none of this happened, I’d be just another useless martinet folding his arms across his chest, and obsessing over “I don’t like this” and “we need a new rule.” I’d be just another one of these oxygen-thieves only pretending to solve problems, just chipping away at the liberty of total strangers. Just another amateur sculptor, deluding himself into thinking he’s making art, when he’s really just reducing a beautiful marble block to rubble.

Every justification a hardcore lefty-loosie progressive has for his most intrusive and destructive reforms, boils down to some statement beginning with the words “Don’t you see, we’re trying to build a new world in which there’s no…” followed by the thing they’re trying to eradicate from existence, forever. Today, progressives are turning boys into pansies. They’re actually offended by anything and everything that might possibly turn the boy into a strong, resilient, rugged man. They’ll get rid of all these resources, one at a time, systematically and methodically. In fact they’re already doing it. They’re fairly far down the checklist.

So we’re trying to build a new world in which there’s no bullying? Careful with those wishes.

My most unpopular opinion is that bullying is Chesterton’s Fence.

I note, here, that this does not mean I want to keep it. Bullying is unethical, unjust, and cowardly. There’s something wrong with the bully. We need to figure out what happened to the bullies to make them that way, and if we’re successful at that, then of course we would end up getting rid of bullying. So I’m not entirely opposed.

But it’s not like Cancer. If you really think we have a shot at getting rid of bullying forever, we’d better think long and hard about what we’re going to put in its place. It does have a function.

That’s an unpopular opinion. But let me go even further and twist the knife a bit:

We are living in painful times, right now, because these strutting martinets who always want more rules more rules more rules, weren’t bullied enough. We needed some bullying we didn’t have, back in the day, to stop these assholes from turning out the way they did. Between them, and bullies, they are the bigger problem by far. And we’re paying the price now because we didn’t have enough bullying. Someone unfortunately reached adulthood, and is now filling out their role in adulthood being very loud, seizing influence for all the wrong reasons…never having learned to think like an adult.

That’s why they think a new rule is the answer to every problem that comes down the pike. They never learned otherwise. They needed a bully or two in their lives and they didn’t get them.

They think, way too much, of how they feel about things. Whether or not they disapprove. They obsess over this when nobody cares, and become quite tedious.

They don’t think, nearly enough, of how they’re going to respond.

When that old “legacy bullying” is going on in the playground, that’s all that’s on the bully’s mind. That’s all that’s on the victim’s mind, too. What’s the response? That’s the Chesterton’s-Fence part of bullying. Get rid of it if, and only if, you can replace it with something else; and if you don’t have something to replace it with, or you don’t understand it, maybe you shouldn’t get rid of it quite yet.

We have this “new normal” of new rules that don’t make anything better and make lots of things worse. Those rules come from people who want all of the control but will accept none of the responsibility, and just like to crank out rules without regard to what effect the rules have. These people are that way because they only care about “do I approve of this?” and they’re not putting any thought into how they’ll respond. And they got to be that way because they weren’t bullied enough.

I can’t blame good-hearted, conscientious fellow citizens for disagreeing with me about it. But I have to be truthful: Every year I see come and go, in fact every week I see come and go nowadays, I am more and more sure of it. We’re buried up to our necks in rules that don’t make any sense and that hurt many while helping nobody, because some assholes weren’t bullied enough. I will even go so far as to say, if we’ve been trading the problem of bullying for the problem of these new-normal more-rules people, we should do a system-restore and reverse the transaction. Bring back the bullies. Because this was not a win. All we managed to do is change one flavor of bullying for a different one. In fact it hardly even qualifies as that sort of change. It amounts to a continuation of the same bullying with the same misguided zeal, with some “shelter in place” orders being written down and circulated, and some fancy speeches.

Does that mean I’m yearning to see Dr. Fauci, Gov. Newsom, Mayor Garcetti, Gov. Whitmer, Gov. Cuomo, or Mayor de Blasio subjected to playground harassment as I was? Subjected to the gum-on-the-bus-seat treatment? The “Indian Burn”? The pink-belly or the nipple-twist? Noogies? Loogies? “Stop hitting yourself”? Towel-snapping? Jammed into a trash can or a locker?

Let me be clear about that:

Oh no, I just realized this post is too long and so I will stop.

We Wouldn’t Even Be Having the Argument

Friday, September 11th, 2020

Biden’s backers are swaggering like they’ve got this thing in the bag, but they’re generally too young to understand how many times their guy ran for this thing and lost.

If he shared Trump’s strengths in actually being elected President, or if Trump shared his weaknesses, we wouldn’t even be having the argument.

The “beltway insider” thing is a serious Biden deficiency. In previous elections it was tossed around as a pejorative, casually and frequently, like spitballs. Biden is Mr. Insider. He was elected Senator at the very earliest possible age, in 1972. Not many people realize this. Had Congress been seated a few days after the election, or a couple weeks, as opposed to a couple months, he wouldn’t have been constitutionally eligible. Then he chafed his butt on the Senate chair right up until 2008 when Barack Obama chose him to be His running mate. You can’t get more insider than that. This guy’s asking for some real trouble each and every time he claims to be the liberator and fixer-upper who’s going to make it all better. Which is often.

Odd that Trump’s attacks are mostly veiled references to his opponent’s diminishing mental faculties. “If Joe’s got the answers, why didn’t he try them before?” is something you mostly see on social media, written by someone else.

My current theory about the President is that he’s keeping his powder dry. The evidence doesn’t point anywhere else. That could be significant.

Time will tell.

Duct Tape Them to Chairs

Friday, September 11th, 2020

Software weenies should work according to their own Hippocratic Oath of sorts, to first do no harm. I would have counseled my earlier self, given the opportunity to time travel back to the beginning, to pay closer attention to this “first do no harm” stuff. “Don’t be that guy.” Maybe make a list of that-guy types to try to not be…yes, that would have been good.

But I did pay at least some attention to it. This Dilbert strip, in particular, helped me acquire a little bit of practical wisdom, albeit perhaps a bit too slowly or too late. Don’t be that guy who burns the midnight oil, to put his team two steps forward and three steps back. Don’t be the guy everyone else would like to duct tape to a chair.

Seems like lately we have many sources of acute misery that have arisen to torment us, each one of them due to liberals not being duct taped to chairs. They’re roaming the streets of our cities after dark looting businesses someone spent their whole lives building. They’re ruining Star Wars. They’re promoting pedophilia on Netflix now. They’re running into the hills setting fires, after having pushed a bunch of absurd rules on us for years and years making it impossible or impractical to apply sound forest management. They’re still coming up with absurd lockdown policies and banning Halloween. They’re teaching college students to hate their own country.

I could add to this list throughout an entire afternoon if I really put my mind to it. Unfortunately, I haven’t got the time. Gotta make that living. It’s that “not been born independently wealthy” thing, sure does suck sometimes.

I’m among the riff raff who can’t close down hair salons to get my own personal, private session you see.