Tags: kibbitz

topsy and hat

Okay, so I'm a loser... wanna be a loser, too?

Well, the party head and SP-USA candidate in the government simulation convinced me to sit in for another week, working in the Socialist caucus to help put together a platform. I can deal with that - theory and debate within the safety of a party list- no Sean Hannity or dittohead-dodging. Plus, I think that I might open a few minds and even a couple of minds entertaining hitherto unthought radical questions would be well worth my time.

It's hard to believe, yes, but that ranting "libertarian" Danny is vying for Speaker of the House, and if he doesn't get that, he's got his party's nomination for president. His first act was to introduce a bill to abolish all federal income and property taxes. It won't fly, but I was amused.

Interesting Sim - there are plenty of Libertarians, plenty of Democrats, a few Constitution Party and a handful of Independents and Socialists, ...but not many Republicans; none of the conservatives want to claim that party.

Anyway, I've been encouraged by the game moderator to whore for more players (of course, preferably of my party)... so if anyone feels like being a slacker-representative with me, let me know and I'll find out where to get your invites. Any funky legislation you want to propose?
william morris

Parting shot

Yep, I'm done with the "simulation".

I was going to just leave it, but I felt that Danny's last response to my post was so misleading, I'd feel irresponsible giving anyone the impression that it was a well-reasoned refutation of socialism. So, here I go on a parting shot and onward to spend my time reading something more entertaining.

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EDIT: Humorous. Someone just responded to this nominating me for "President".
Don't worry, my resolve is strong (actually, the annoyance of the game is greater than the pleasure received by approval from strangers - a purely Epicurean calculation). I'm still going to leave the game.
william morris

Political rants for the bored : More tiring than NationStates...

...and much more pointless, so far.

Recently, I was invited to take part in some simulation of American government on Yahoo groups. I was a bit wary, but wrote up a little political introduction as requested and was immediately ushered in.

Naively, I was hoping that this would be actual debate on issues to improve this country, or if not that, a group to debate different ideas, but so far it is neither. So far, I am sitting on the Capitol steps being barraged by Sean Hannity Newspeak while people in the Capitol are naming and re-naming their caucus and offices (maybe it is a realistic simulation of the American political process ;P ).

Anyway, after any illusion of usefulness vanished, I've been holding on to its rapidly-eroding entertainment value. I'll probably be dumping it soon, but in any case, for anyone's masochistic needs out there, I'm posting a couple of threads here (behind a cut, of course).

Three dramatis personae are:
  • Jim (a Texas Republican, retired army and fond of long paragraphs),
  • Danny (a Californian Libertarian, possibly functionally illiterate, sadly older than his dialogue)
  • Bill (a Socialist candidate for President from Montana, unkown quantity),
    ... not to mention yours truly, Matthew the boy. *bows*

    Cliff Notes Overview
    Jim provoked Bill by calling him a Maoist. Bill took the bait and said "AM NOT!! Jerks!". Jim then blundered like he couldn't tell the difference "All you socialists look alike". I responded to this post, then Danny parried with a wit of his own.
    I said, "Uh, yeah".
    He said, "I showed you!"
    I said, "Uh, yeah".
    Jim wrote back, ignoring most of the questions I put to him, but blathered some more about Saddam - 9/11- !!!eleventy-one!! And I responded, hoping for the best, fearing the worst, but thinking that it might make a decent LJ post.

    "The Dialogue" or "Twelve Three Angry Men"

    WARNING: Some content may be unbearably boring, resulting in bleeding eyes, nausea, concussion from striking head or sudden onset of catatonia. Viewer discretion is advised.

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  • topsy and hat

    even mediocre sci-fi can have a point

    Combining my dual interests of utopian novels and stuff to read in the bathroom, I've been reading Mack Reynold's Commune 2000 A.D.. The book is inspired by a dystopian look at a world similar to Bellamy's 1887 utopia Looking Backward (which I have available to anyone via my BookCrossing hobby); a few of his other books are also inspired by Bellamy, for better or worse. Considering we shared an interest in Bellamy (and Bellamy's flaws), not to mention an interest in Esperanto, I figured I'd give Reynolds a try.

    The book reads like someone who really wanted to make one point, but felt it necessary to build an incidental story around the points rather than just writing a more direct essay. His attempt at inventing the slang of the future is embarrassingly lame and the sexism is unbelievable at times; the plot was predictable and I caught on to the sinister dystopian master plan 154 pages before the PhD protagonist (the book is 181 pages long). Despite its failings, it has a couple of good points, which I will reproduce here to save anyone else undue pain (unless you're looking for 'undue pain', in which case, by all means read the book).

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    And the climax of the book... a rant against collectivism, couched as a revolution against the welfare state, which demonstrates well that the cradle-to-grave welfare state is Collapse )

    I'll probably muse on these thoughts in a later post.
    william morris

    Memo to the (Coalition of the) interested

    Last night, I heard Randi Rhodes talking about the Downing Street Memo and how Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) was trying to get one hundred thousand people people to sign a petition asking for a response from the adminstration regarding the memo's veracity. Since the mainstream media is more concerned about Michael Jackson, Deep Throat and Runaway BrideTM than a July 2002 memo explicitly stating that "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy [to invade Iraq]", Conyers was hoping that 100,000 signatures would be required to get the attention necessary to push the issue in the House. As of last night, Conyers had 87,000 signatures, and thus decided to raise the bar to 250,000. A quarter of a million people expressing concern should grab some serious attention, seeing how many seats in the House are up for re-election in 2006.

    To put this in perspective, John Conyers is a ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, which is the body that draws up articles of impeachment. This request from the administration is the first step in calling for an official inquiry into the violation of federal law (and possible war crimes) by Bush and Cheney.

    Well, after hearing about the petition a couple of times, intending to "look into it", and whatnot, I decided to sign the petition. The case looks pretty substantial and is coming from within the government, as opposed to MoveOn.org or IPJC which would be easier to ignore.

    So, if you've got nothing better to do, and you're not afraid to let Alberto Gonzales know where you live, I encourage you to SIGN IT.

    EDIT: More background news you won't find in the American press
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    flames of fire

    A note on religion

    UPDATED from old private post

    Kith and kin

    Every now and then, I get a question on how I can identify with Buddhism, Catholicism, and Neopaganism, without falling into a muddle in the middle. The walls between these (and any "religions" in the modern age) seem thick and unyielding, and cannot flex without damaging the integrity of the whole. I've met syncretists (such as Zen Druids and Christo-Pagans) who seem to flex walls in this way, some with more success than others.

    I wonder though how much twisting and flexing is actually necessary? On the surface, none at all - the walls between "religions" in my opinion, are simply manifestations of the original wall, the compartmentalization of religion at the beginning of the modern age (demonstrated by Kant and his "starry heavens above me and the moral law within me"). If the moral law within (identified in Christian terms) in no way reflects the universal "starry heavens above", but is something essentially private, then how much greater is the chasm between private moral laws of a European and private moral laws of an Arab. Religion having been whittled down to a list of "beliefs", western philosophy of religion further reified religions by trying to compare and contrast lists of "beliefs" as logical statements.

    This logical approach was/is flawed in many ways, most of which stem from the language-like nature of religion:

    First, languages cannot be compared and contrasted so easily - is French a deficient language since there is no equivalent to the English word "mind"? Or are both French and English deficient because they lack the gradations of "white" that exist in Inuit languages? Or do they simply approach the same reality from a different perspective?

    Second, languages do not rise in opposition to each other but in relation to a historical context. Again, French didn't create a concept "sympathique" simply to taunt the English lack of such a word, nor as a critique of the German nuances to the word - they developed the concept out of their own experience. Likewise, Gautama didn't formulate the Four Noble Truths as a reaction to Moses or Jesus, but as an insight into his lived experience. Jesus wasn't founding a religion in opposition to druids on the other side of the world, but was sharing a vision among his own people.

    So, my first answer to confusion over my Buddheo-Catholic-Druid self is answered in terms of language - I'm a religious polyglot. I work comfortably within a number of religious milieus.

    My second answer has to do with culture and religion Collapse )
    flames of fire

    No insincere fawning and no insincere knee-jerk bigotry

    I've given the last few weeks of religious "changing of the guards" some space to process.

    I may be completely deluded (very possible) but I feel relatively peaceful about the recent events... "peaceful" , not "pleased". I was no fan of JPII and still haven't been moved by his "televisional beatification" - but neither do I hate him. He was not/is not a saint, nor was he simply a sincere old man naive in the ways of the world - he stood firmly for some good, but then again he stood firmly for some bad stuff. He was a human being, just like any other.

    I honestly didn't think that Ratzinger would be elected, but I was never secure in that doubt. I have no doubt that he has the potential to do some pretty crappy things, but I'm not afraid of him. In a way I can't explain very well, I am optimistic about the world-process - theologians would call it 'faith' (trust) in Wisdom, Gandhi would call it 'satyagraha' (clinging to Truth). I have some history with Ratzinger, "Benedict XVI", and ironically, he had some part to play in the development of my optimism (though negatively), so I'm not afraid. There have been worse popes than both JPII and BXVI and yet the earth still revolves on its axis.

    I was waiting for this reflection. It captures some nice points:

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    bad cat

    News packaged for easy consumption

    It's not like I usually expect "fair and balanced" or "candid and impartial" from news. Nor do I usually expect the police to be bastions of "truth, justice and the American way". So, mix media and the po po, and there you see my crisis of faith (don't worry; the crisis is long since over and I've lowered my expectations appropriately).

    I'm not being ridiculous here - I know it isn't true that "every cop is bad", so don't bag that on me. Even though it's not true that "every cop is bad", why is it more reasonable to assume that "bad cops are an exception to the rule"? I have met one cop in my entire thirty-three years that I felt was an honest public servant - I'm not saying that there aren't any others, I'm just asking why is it that every other time I've met a cop, they've been "questionable"? Granted, I don't hang out at FOP functions and so my sample is small, but still... one in say twenty? Those aren't good odds.

    That being said, I do think that often idealism encourages people to become cops. It seems that "public service" encourages their negative qualities more than positive, and many become jaded to cope. It's a complex thing I'd like to understand. In the mean time, I reserve the right to be irritated.

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