Friday, July 29, 2016

Belief vs Knowledge



People mostly believe they understand what they know.

Take "Free Trade", for example. It's held as common knowledge that import levees, export duties, taxes and the like are contributing factors to measuring the degree of free trade between countries.

"Free Trade" is a myth.

Or more precisely, "Free Trade" is an arbitrary, hypothetical metric that establishes an unattainable standard of uninhibited trade between distinct market entities. Arbitrary, because there has never been a documented example to reference against. Hypothetical, because no one can describe how to realistically achieve such a transaction. Unattainable, because no transaction can be cost free.

"Free Trade" is a fictional economic standard to be forever striven for. As such, it serves as a mechanism whereby all trade can be comparatively analyzed to measure the relative costs of separate and otherwise incompatible transactions. From this, the actual transaction costs can be distinguished from the rest of the component costs that contribute to "value" (itself a largely individual standard irrespective of the item(s) being measured).

Free trade is also frequently a political illusion, served up to distract the voters from the blatant manipulations imposed on trade transactions by, or in response to, government.

Of course, if government went away with the morning sunrise, free trade would still be unattainable since all parties to a transaction would still have to exert some measure of expense in order to effect a transaction at all. Government makes sure the traders aren't the only one's to get something from the deal. Theoretically, in exchange for that added cost, government provides an independent recourse for dis-satisfied traders to seek recompense less directly than might otherwise be the case.

Because free trade is something people believe in, they think it must also be "real" in the same sense items being offered for trade are. Just because we know trade exists, doesn't mean we understand it.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

How Did That George Carlin Line Go?



"I stand here before you, completely behind you, ..."?

Sorry Gary Johnson, I had to stand with my DV Brethren and Sisteren on this one.

Catch you in November.

NBC Poll results

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Strategy Of Ideology

From my Facebook timeline.

In classical strategy, Advantage is pursued by everyone to advance one's Position (remember, Position is measured as a constantly varying relative value against other's, as well as your own, existing condition). A common technique used to achieve such advancement is Misdirection - saying or doing something in an apparent effort that disguises your own benefit from other's view (and the reason there really are essentially no "unintended consequences"). If you want to avoid imposing possibly misleading or simply incorrect value judgements on the actions of others - and your reactions to them, I recommend applying the above metrics to all aspects of your life.
Political ideology is rife with misdirection, both to gain and retain adherents as well as defeat the efforts of competitors in their positional maneuvering. The temptation to address ideological arguments in ideological terms is a two-fold mistake, you limit the structure of your own arguments to meet the assumptions of your opponents ideology.
The linked blog post below is an excellent example of a fact-loaded ideological argument that ultimately fails of its full potential due to the acceptance of the ideological terminology it confines itself to. That it succeeds to the extent it does (and I find the underlying observation inescapable personally) is testament to the authors writing skills:



Sunday, July 17, 2016

More Of That Away Game Activity

From my facebook timeline:

Fellow HEMA member Michael Sims posted a link to something by one Arnold Ragas from (the US state of) Georgia according to his post. I made the following comment there and think it worth claiming publicly with the minor caveat that I intend the following in the most positive way I am capable of (however poorly I may have conveyed that in the original):

"Can't say about skin, but we all wear our own stereotypes and see them a lot too. The biggest difference I have with BLM (or AARP or the NRA for that matter) is I don't go around crying about how my life isn't immune to all of that ... and you shouldn't either. Anyone who doesn't know you personally is going to be at least a little bit suspicious of you (and even if they do know you if their like my friends). We pay cops to be suspicious. You may suffer from your own stereotypical burden, but you ain't special that way so get over yourself and get on with making your life as successful as you want it to be."

This is the Arnold Ragas statement I was responding to:

"Sometimes my black life matters.
It mattered the day I was walking to my car at Lenox when I was ordered inside a police car until I sufficiently explained my purpose for being in the deck. My keys in hand provided no clue. It mattered the very next time I was in the deck and again ordered inside a police car until I again sufficiently explained my purpose.
My black life mattered the day I was helping someone move her furniture from her apartment to a moving van when several police officers pointed their guns at me until I sufficiently explained my purpose. Carrying a microwave to a moving van provided no clue.
My black life mattered the day I was looking through storefront windows and police detained me and questioned me until I sufficiently explained my purpose. It mattered further when I reached into my pocket for my wallet and they pulled their guns on me. My black life almost became matter on the pavement.
My black life mattered the day I was ordered inside a room at the DeKalb county courthouse and forced to explain my purpose. Being a lawyer wearing a suit in a courthouse provided no clue.
My black life mattered the night I was jogging in my Johns Creek subdivision when a police officer drove 5 mph and followed me for nearly a half mile until I finally and exasperatedly turned around and yelled, “What?!?!” My Nike shorts, shirt and running shoes provided no clue of my lawful presence. After all, I was running.
I never really thought of myself as a thug. I’m clean cut. Clean-shaven. No dreads. No golds. No tats. No sagging pants. Hell, I even own a pair of khakis.
But what do I know. Maybe I AM a thug. I graduated college but it took me 5 years. I graduated law school but I wasn’t top ten. I served 3 terms in the state House of Representatives but I never got more than 60% of the vote. I served 9 years as a judge but does Probate court really count? I’ve appeared on news shows as an expert on political and legal matters but my tie didn’t always quite match.
Or just maybe my skin is the sin and no accomplishment vaccine can inoculate me.
Sometimes I wish I could try on white skin. Not to keep; just to test drive for a few days. But moreso, I wish my white friends who condemn the black lives matter mantra could wear my skin. They’d probably cut the test drive short. They’d know what it feels like to be routinely viewed as a suspect instead of a person. They’d learn that black lives do indeed matter.
But oftentimes, for all the wrong reasons."

I'm a high school dropout. I joined the US Navy during the tag end of the Vietnam War because I didn't want to miss my generation's war. I labor under none of the lack of recognition for the really commendable accomplishments Mr Ragas struggles with, but nobody in or out of my life really gives two shits about any of my "accomplishments" either ... nor should they. We are all to some degree the sum of our accomplishments, but we are even more the product of all the really crappy choices we didn't make instead. The only people who are likely to know very much of any of that are we ourselves. Thankfully (I don't know about you, but some of that shit I didn't actually do but semi-seriously considered is really embarrassing, you know?).

Life's a lot of hard work, and we all ought to know by now what the real reward for doing hard work is: more work. Now that you've had a good snivel, Mr Ragas (and everyone else who feels the same way feel free to jump right in here), shake it off and get ready to go back to work. There's always going to be a lot more need's doing than there are those of us to do it. From the sound of things in your life, you could really help us out getting some of it done, too.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Let's All Vote At Them


Something that occurred to me while on another forum, what if the EU doesn't accept a Brexit "Leave" vote majority? It's not like we have to look very hard to find other examples of the EU rejecting a plebiscite they don't like - Ireland's numerous votes rejecting the Lisbon Treaty come easily to mind. I do have to say that I'm finding it difficult to visualize a British government capable of taking the Iceland approach to recalcitrant officialdom, so just how is the UK going to counter an EU siege of their island Castle? It's not like the EU hasn't already undermined the moat or anything like that; can you see the for-so-long-stymied hordes being released by France charging out of the Channel Tunnels on the British end of things? The acts of piracy on the contested fishing grounds of the North Sea? All those banks on Jersey being "invaded" by hordes of heavily armed EU cops and regulators?

The possibilities are rife, as they say, so I just don't see the EU politely taking their aspirations for world dominance (and the loss of all that British cash) and quietly giving up just because their British lackeys couldn't get this one simple thing right the first time 'round.

I'm not sure there IS a large enough pop corn supply for this show.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

History Matters


I've been flouncing around this idea for some time now; time to say something it seems.

Through much of the 1920's Germany was a battleground between numerous militant ideological groups, some of them actually German. Prominent among these were the groups generally lumped under the rubric "communist", who for the most part actually were an invading ideology from the not-quite-yet-established USSR. Countering this ideological invasion was a collection of mostly domestic German political factions, many of which were themselves socialist in nature, and the actual German government. The accepted history is that Adolph Hitler found employment with the German military intelligence establishment infiltrating many of these groups. By means obscure today, Hitler rose to legitimate political prominence by achieving control of one of these socialist political groups and "successfully negotiated" a merger with at least two others, resulting in the much-decried National Socialist Democratic Workers Party. And that's how arguably the raging flaming asshole of human history defeated an ideological invader and became a national hero. Briefly.

In related action, the leaders of the nascent USSR infiltrated their ideological invasion agents into the United States during the same time period. That invasion proved marginally more successful than in Germany in that no centralized opposition arose in the USA, but there can be no question that it occurred, as confirmed by the many former Soviet official documents that have become public knowledge in recent decades. The limited success these invasion agents achieved is of less modern importance than is the fact they developed many times their numbers of fellow believers and even more of those who achieve personal success by advancing arguments and beliefs long since disproved. This is an example of a successful change of a national political context.

Nearly a century of history later, we find ourselves targeted for ideological invasion by a different group of ideological activists. You know ... Muslims.

Human historical experience regarding ideological disagreement resolution doesn't offer much opportunity for a different process taking place this time, but one can always hope. And it is a process. A pattern of reinforcing incitements will continue to take place, many of them seemingly "obviously" unconnected (by those who don't take inspiration from them). And now that ideological conflict resolution process is blatantly occurring within the United States.

This promises to be a long, drawn out series of events dominated by more own-goals and blue-on-blue casualties than victims of actual attack, and that's not counting the casualties experienced by the ideological non-combatants of our attackers. There is no "enemy headquarters" to attack, the primary combatants make every effort to subvert our social and political structures against us, and there is as yet no widely adopted ideology specifically countering their beliefs for us to rally 'round.

Everything takes place in a context of events and beliefs. Hitler's "heroics" against communist invasion and domestic political success don't make him a good, or even arguably sane, man. People in similar-seeming circumstances to those from the "Good Hitler" days makes identifying with his actions and statements from then more understandable, but the cure for that is to improve the similar-seeming circumstances. New context leads to different beliefs resulting in different actions chosen. The trick for us today is to discover the means to arrange a new context for Muslims that makes their own "Good Hitler" ideological activists unacceptable to them. Good trick that, I agree, but it's what I've got so far.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

HEMA Thoughts


There have been several instances of HEMA members remarking on the politics and beliefs of others in recent months on HEMA forums and member's personal sites. In each instance, moderators of the various HEMA Facebook pages eventually resolved the discussions but were required to do so by repeated persuasions and/or ex officio diktats.

I believe there might be a better way to confront this circumstance in future.

A Proposed HEMA Standard:

Whenever any HEMA member believes the behavior or stated beliefs of someone involved with HEMA might be problematic, they should first seek to answer two questions on there own initiative before airing their concerns on any HEMA-associated forum.

First, "Is the person or group imposing their behavior or beliefs onto unwilling others?"

Second, "Are they infringing on other's study or practice of HEMA as a result of their beliefs or behavior?"

Unless, and to the degree, either answer is "Yes", then a problem with a measurable degree of objection and correction has been identified, and HEMA moderators should immediately be requested to resolve the potential for conflict.

To the extent the answers are "No", then a distinction of personal taste and social circumstance has arisen, and an assumption of HEMA neutrality is the appropriate response.

HEMA Alliance is an international organization, dedicated to the scholarly study and re-creation of historic European martial arts forms and practices. It is only to be expected that individuals or local groups from our many different country's of origin will find it necessary to motivate and structure their pursuit of our shared field of study by means different, or even unacceptable, to members from other locales. It should be remembered that beliefs and practices are frequently largely malleable responses to temporary circumstances, and that so long as the specific combination of these do not inhibit the free pursuit of HEMA study's and practice, they should be regarded as unrelated to HEMA.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Detour Ahead


Here in the Land of the Free, the Oklahoma Highway Robbery Patrol just got a helping hand to further their efforts at collecting the largess of others into a more easily distributed package.

It used to be the crooks were the one's without the badges.

I hear New Mexico is scenic.

When Reality Is Revolting, Forbid Reality


Charming. Political Socialism at its finest.

All of which leaves one to ponder; just how many lynchings happen in a setting convenient to a photographer "capturing the moment" (and the perpetrators) in the act? And in such numbers that the government feels compelled to "do something about it" - other than actually creating the conditions that aren't conducive to lynchings being considered a practical option in the first place, you understand.

Well, it could never happen here. Oh, wait ...

Monday, June 6, 2016

"Don't Do The Crime ...



... If You Can't Do the Time."

That's the famous aphorism isn't it? And, on its face, a sensible enough conviction; we all should be ready to accept the consequences resulting from our actions. In the case of our criminal actions, the courts determine our sentence and we ultimately fulfill that sentence will-we, nil-we., or so goes the theory.

And if we have been convicted of a felony and completed the decreed penalty, still we forever bear the legislative Mark of Cain as we attempt to return to the ranks of "good citizen".

Unless you live in the US state of Virginia (and only committed a "good" felony, of course), in which case you get some of your Constitutionally guaranteed rights (sorry about the video auto-start, blame The Atlantic) handed back to you. For the current voting cycle anyway; no telling what some subsequent Legislature and/or Governor will come up with down the temporal road.

The God Of Abraham may indeed be the vicious, cruel, and vindictive individual He is touted to be in the various editions of His Book, I hold to my more general Agnosticism on that topic too, but I don't think acting so on our own claimed Constitutional Authority is in any way consistent or even reasonably arguable. Unless you choose to argue from a basis of your personal fear and cowardice.

Can we take as a given that laws are, or at least ought to be, written so as to punish those duly convicted of violating them (and reasonably expected to inhibit committing said crime just by consequence of their very existence)? If that truly be the case, why do we think it such a good idea to impose a lifetime penalty as well?

If commission of a given action is deemed worthy of imposition of a period of incarceration (or "only" just a financial penalty), isn't it only honest and consistent with the stated justification for our having Constitutionally Guaranteed Rights (capitalized to drive home a point about the source of said rights) (for the record, I consider rights to be an intrinsic component of the human condition, regardless of any individual's viewpoint regarding how that human condition came into existence) that individual exercise of those rights be temporarily suspended pending completion of the duly adjudicated penalty imposed? If an action taken outside the law deserves a limited penalty, why do we insist on imposing a lifetime penalty anyway?

If you are afraid that some convicted felon might offer a threat to you just by his (or her's; let's not add sexism to your burden of justification too) very existence, maybe the more logical, not too mention effective, method for you to pursue is to increase your individual defenses against anyone doing you harm. Because we all only have to look at incarceration rates to recognize how effective a deterrent criminal laws are, don't we?

I also abhor the petty politicization that Virginia's recent restitution of certain civil rights has taken, but I also recognize the strategic inevitability of that occurring. I just happen to believe that making "good citizenship" an easily achievable standard works to all our better long-term interests as a nation built on the exercise of individual human rights.

What's your excuse?