Archive for October, 2009

Why I don’t value equality

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Today I read a post by a earnest young man over at Fist Full Of Euros talking about why he values equality in a form of a self interview. Since I am an equally earnest young man, I decided to explain why I don’t value equality.

What can you possible have against equality?

The only time people will be completely equal is in death. Trying to make people more equal is trying to make life more like death. I have this thing against death.

Surly that is extreme?

Not really. Death is static. Life is dynamic. If you look at the most equal countries in the world, they are also the most static. For example, Japan is one of the most equal countries in the world, but it is also one of the most ethnically homogeneous and the pressure to conform to the prevailing norms is enormous.

And that is the general rule around the world. The more equal countries are, the more ethnically homogeneous and the less social freedom they have.

But American has less social mobility then almost all other first world countries. How does that fit with your idea that less equality societies are more dynamic?

That is a misleading comparison. You can not fairly compare a large ethnically diverse country with smaller more ethnically homogeneous ones. If you compared the US with the EU as a whole, America would come out on top in terms of social mobility. And if you compared the experiences of immigrants with similar culture and educational backgrounds, you would find that they find it easier to make their way in the US.

For example, a lot of people who are born and raised in Montana want to stay in Montana. They may have great social mobility within Montana. But they will never have that great of social mobility visa the nation as whole unless they are willing to run off to wherever the latest boom is located. In a large country, you just have a greater disparity in cost of living and current economic conditions then you do in a smaller country.

But what could possible be wrong with trying to make it so that everyone has equality of opportunity?

In order for equality of opportunity to be sustainable, you have to have equality of responsibility. And I don’t want equality of responsibility. Among other things, equality of responsibility requires a that you make everyone serve time in the armed forces.

Along similar lines, you have to make sure that children have equally responsible parents. That means you have to take away the ability of parents to make choices about how they raise their children otherwise you will have differences in opportunity.

Those are only some of the reasons I think it is bad to strive for equality of opportunity.

Don’t allow yourself to be ruled by the needs of others

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Today I am worried about my sister.

I have seen to many woman be taken advantage of by their employers because they feel needed. I know of secretary who donates 4 or 5 hours a day of unpaid labor to her employer because she is needed. I knew a secretary who gave up her vacation time because she was needed. I know a woman who is doing the work of her boss and her work at the same time and being chewed out for not doing it all well enough. She puts up with it because she is needed.

None of these woman are trying to climb the career ladder. They would be perfectly happy to keep the jobs that they have. Indeed, there is no real prospect that they will ever advance up the ranks. And none of them are in positions where they need to be worried about their job. They would be indispensable even if they limited themselves to doing as much work as they were being paid to do. Yet because they feel needed they kill themselves trying to save the world from the pile of work that is not being done.

It is not that men never get themselves in similar situations. I myself have gone above and beyond the call of duty some times. Doing that occasionally is part of what make a good employee a good employee. So I would never argue that one should never gives anymore then one absolutely has to. But doing it occasionally is one thing. Allowing ones life to be destroyed is another thing all together.

And I rarely see men putting up with the kind of abuse that I routinely see woman putting up with. The few exceptions are well paid ambitions men who are trying to climb ever higher on the career ladder.

I expect that as the economic climate worsens, that will change for a lot of men. When a job is hard to get, it becomes harder for anyone to say no. But men who are abused in this manner will be putting up with the abuse because they will think that it is in their best interests. Not because the feel needed.

Everything has its cost

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Today I read a post on Naked Capitalism that commented on a recent New York Times article on how even those in American with jobs are facing pay cuts. Yves Smith (the blogger behind Naked Capitalism) used that article as a spring board to argue that Americans put to much focus on careers at the expense of other human relationships.

As much as I agree with the thrust of her argument, I have to say that the post was not well done.

For one thing, it was based off of a New York Times article about one American family. And the wife of that family was not facing any income cuts as a school teacher. Instead, all of the angst was coming from the man of the family who was an airline pilot.

Now airline pilots would not be my first pick to represent working class Americans for a number of reasons. But even more objectionable to me was the fact that Ms. Smith seems to make some unwarranted assumptions about the wife of the family that are not supported in any way by the New York Times article. Ms. Smith’s determination to make her points sometimes leads her to do ugly things.

Having said all that, Ms. Smith’s post caused me to reflect on my own situation. Having long ago made the choice not pursue higher earning opportunities if they would take me out of the area, I have a pretty good idea of the costs of not pursuing the job of your dreams so that one can maintain other social ties that are more important to you (in my case, the close relationship with my family).

I don’t regret my choice at all. But going by her past posts I don’t think Ms. Smith has much of an idea of what it would take to change America’s view of their careers or what the consequences of such a change would be.

But exploring that idea would put me way over my word limit.

Unrepentant Whining

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Today I was all in my own little world.

At one point in my life, I believed that this was perfectly normal. I thought that everyone could keep themselves entertained for hours with nothing more then their own thoughts. But as I grew older I found out this was not the case.

I don’t know if my rich internal life is a good thing or bad thing. To be honest, most days I think it is a bad thing. It feels more like a prison then anything particularly beneficial. Only a prison is a place you want to get out of, not a place you retreat to at the drop of the hat.

I think the real problem is just that I get bored too easily and I don’t have sufficient discipline. If I could overcome those two problems, I could at least write a lot about a lot of things.

And by write, I don’t mean the stupid little posts that make up most of this Blog. They don’t take any discipline to speak of. Rather, by write I mean putting out more things like Spinoza, Einstein, and the Failure of Reason or The Aesthetic Of Despair. Essays like that are only type of writing that really reflects my thinking but they take a lot of discipline to write.

I guess I really don’t know if putting out more essays like that that would be a good thing or not. I can’t say that the world would really benefit all that much. But at least I would have something to show for all the hours I spend doing nothing but thinking.

It is a moot point anyway. I don’t have discipline so there is no real threat of me inflicting numerous ridiculously long essays on the world. Instead of putting words to paper like I should, my mind always wants to start daydreaming about some new subject.

And there is always some small voice whispering that it does not matter anyway so why work so hard trying to spit it out?

Avoiding Failure

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Today I start a vacation. This week I need to butcher chickens (done yesterday actually), mow the back field (working on it), fix the chainsaw, use the chainsaw clear up remaining storm damage, clean up my desk, make changes to my Ape Man site, and get over this darn cold.

And I will be happy if none of the above gets done as long as I have an essay up on my essay site by next Sunday.

The essay that I so badly want to put up would be the next installment of A Critique of Christianity. I posted my Prologue back in July and I promised that more was to come. The delay has become embarrassing. It is all the more embarrassing because the Prologue is just me blathering personal information about myself and is only tangentially related to main thrust of what I wanted to argue when I started writing the post. To have such blather just hang there with such a pretentious title just makes the whole thing look all the more ridiculous.

Originally it was not supposed to be this way. I had some of the sections that were supposed to follow the prologue already written. But comments by reviewers who saw the drafts and and my own thoughts lead me to believe that I needed to insert another section between my Prologue and the other sections that I had already written. And it is this new section that has been the hold up.

In theory, it ought to be no big deal. I know what I want to write. All I have to do is write it and then edit it until it is readable.

But in practice it is hard. To get in the zone where I can write something the way I want to write this takes quality time in quantities. And that type of time is in very short supply for me.

Honestly, the above is all just an excuse. If I really wanted the time I could come up with it by hook or crock. The biggest problem is that I am scared stiff I am going to screw the whole essay up.

And if I don’t work on it, I can’t screw it up.

I am a very logical man.

Bits of Hilarity

Friday, October 9th, 2009

Today the news was just full of jokes. My sick sense of humor has been getting a real work out this evening.

Here is a joke that you might not have heard. Here is another one that you probably did hear.

But if you have as sick a sense of humor as I do, the fun is just getting started. Try saying the quote that leads off this post out loud and see if you can keep from laughing. If at first you don’t find it funny, try thinking about the implications of such a statement. Here is some more background info.

While we are on a role, it should be noted that Brant Hansen is always good for a laugh. The only problem with today’s post is that he pulls his punches and goes all PC at the end.

This one from a while back was a lot better. I did not realize at first that he was talking about a real service on offer.

A slightly more obscure source of fun comes from this letter. Hard as it may be to believe, Hertz was actually dumb enough to sue those people in open court. A better way of convincing the world that they are about to go bankrupt could not be found. Especially when their whole argument boils down to saying “6 months ago we were even more likely to go bankrupt then we are now.”

Believe it or not, I did not stay home today to collect all these bits of hilarity. Instead, I went to work even though I still don’t have my voice back and I still am coughing and hacking like a fool. But nobody threw rocks at me so all is well.

Expect for the fact that I am feeling a little crazy.


Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Today my energy level was up, but nothing else seems to have changed for the better. For one thing, I still don’t have my voice back. For another thing, I still have this weird burning sensation in my upper chest. I can’t tell what it is, but I mostly feel it when I swallow. Other wise it is mostly a dull background feeling.

I really wanted to go to work tomorrow because there is something I wanted to get done before I went on vacation next week. But if I go to work and I still can’t talk and I am coughing and hacking just as bad as when I left it is possible that people might stone me.

I have gotten quite a few people mad at me over the years for going in sick. They all have this weird belief that they are less likely to get sick if I refrain from coming to work when I am sick.

So I guess I should probably stay home unless my health improves dramatically overnight. And aside from feeling bad that I did not get done what I said I would get done, the prospect of staying home does seem kind of nice.

Especially since my energy levels are coming up enough that I can properly enjoy babying myself. Today I spent a lot of time drinking tea and playing Space Rangers 2. That is not my ideal way of spending a day, but it is lot more fun then spending it drinking tea and trying to sleep because you are too foggy headed to do anything else.

If I could just get to the point where I felt clear headed enough to do some serious writing I would be all set.

Systems shutting down to conserve power

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Today I don’t know what to write about. Last night was so bad I think I really was a little bit delusional. Today I mostly spent trying to sleep or reading the news on the internet and drinking tea. That does not leave one with a wide range of topic to talk about.

I can’t remember the last time the common cold took me down this hard. I mean, I have had plenty of bad experiences with the flu where I am throwing up and stuff. That is always real bad.

I suppose it is possible that I do have the flu. I did have a headache and I may have had a fever. But I don’t know about the other things that normally accompany the flu.

Anyway, it does not make that much difference. The prescription is still the same either way. Stay at home and whine until you feel better.

Some argue for going to a doctor, but this doctor says don’t bother unless you think you might have pneumonia. I don’t think I am there yet, though my coughs were causing a weird burning sensation last nigh.

On the other hand, I know other people with the same bug I got (in fact, I blame one of them for giving it to me) who have gone to the doctor and gotten prescriptions for antibiotics. But I have read that lot of doctors will do this just to make people feel like that something is being done for them (and on the off chance they have sinus infection or something). I suppose this might really help a lot of people get better (the placebo effect and all), but I would rather only take antibiotics if they are strictly necessary.

Mild Delusions

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Today the challenge will to come up with something that resembles a rational thought. It is a pity that it this way. There is so much on my mind that I could talk about.

I know this is so because I spent most of last night thinking about it while I was trying to sleep.

For example, I spent considerable time pondering the beginning of Yeats poem “The Second Coming”. You know, the part where it says….

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

I say “you know”, like I have the poem perfectly memorized. But while I had the first line of the poem remembered perfectly correct, I misremembered the second line. This is the problem with thinking about things in the middle of the night, there is no good way to check up on things. If I had, I would have realized that the lines from poem that read….

A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

Were more germane to the point I was wondering about. See at the time I was thinking of this passage from Matthew…

27For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

See, last night I had this dim memory of being convinced at some previous point in the past that Yeats was referencing this passage, but I could not remember the verse in question. So I was trying to remember if I had thought the reference was to the falcon.

This is the problem one has when one does not write down one’s thoughts. One is constantly being forced to reinvent the wheel.

On the plus side, it keeps you from being bored when you can’t sleep because of a bad head cold.

Growing Up

Monday, October 5th, 2009

Today I think I actually grew up a little bit. I took stock of how tired I was and I did not drive myself home.

What I would have done if I did not have the option of having someone else drive me home is something I would rather not think about. I probably would have just went for it and I probably would have made it home. But I don’t know. I have come awfully close to falling asleep at the wheel before and I am afraid that I keep pushing my limits I am really going to do it one of these days.

Given the fact that the plague that is afflicting me kept me up for most of the night last night and the night before that, I probably would have been even more grown up if I had just stayed home. But there was two things I told myself I had to do today, so I made myself go in. I almost managed to get both of them done to. Given that both of them put together should have taken me half a day, it gives you an indication of what my productivity was.

I should be in bed now, but I took a nap when I came home. So I feel more rested then I did when I went to work this morning. I hope that does not mean that I will have as much trouble sleeping tonight as I did last night. Sometimes naps can backfire on you like that.

Regardless, once I get to the point where I am well enough to sleep soundly, I am going to call in sick and sleep in.