The Fascists add Another Line

Published at 09:52 on 30 August 2018

First they came for the undocumented aliens,
      but I didn't speak up because I was not an undocumented alien,
Then they came for the refugees and the Muslims,
      but I didn't speak up because I wasn't a refugee or Muslim.
Then they came for the Hispanics near the border,
      but I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Hispanic living near the border.

Really, this gets creepier and creepier.

And yes, I’m camping. Just not in a remote area, so I can access the Internet this time. It’s still on the drizzly side here, so I’m doing inside stuff waiting for things to dry out a bit more before heading out on my bike.

Political Tipping Points

Published at 08:04 on 29 August 2018

They have two main characteristics:

  1. It is an accurate term. When a tipping point is triggered, change happens fast.
  2. The exact mechanism of the tipping point tends to remain hidden until the tipping happens.

If, when it’s all over, you could go into a time machine and go back a few years, most people would find your news from the future surprising.

Consider the case of the USSR and its empire. In 1980, it seemed as strong and long-lasting as ever. Afghanistan had just been invaded, and the USA and its empire had been forced to accept this (because challenging it would have meant challenging the USSR directly, a big no-no in the nuclear era). Even in 1986, the USSR and its empire had a semi-permanent air to them. Yet by the end of 1989, the Berlin Wall had fallen.

Or consider the case of Suharto in Indonesia. His dictatorship was tolerated because at least the economy reliably grew. Then the banking system collapsed, in no small part due to the regime’s own crony capitalism. When Suharto went cap in hand to the USA, his normal benefactor, he discovered to his dismay that years of patient activism on the East Timor issue had made him mostly toxic to Congress. He got no bailout, Indonesian society quickly turned on him, and he was compelled to resign.

And so it may be with Trump. He’s managed to turn the GOP into a party of his slavish followers. However, much of this following in Congress is coerced; many GOP congressmen secretly dislike Trump. They only play along because he has them cowed.

If, as I fervently hope, the GOP gets severely punished by the voters in November, this may force a recalculation: Republicans in Congress may well see it as being more to their political benefit to distance them from a doomed cause than to ally with it. Such distancing becomes increasingly likely if the Democrats launch investigations of Trump and these investigations uncover dirt.

Suddenly, many of the GOP may well realize that their toast is buttered on the side opposite they thought it was. At that point, the end will come surprisingly (to many) quickly for Trump.

Or it may happen sooner or later than that. I’m merely speculating on one possible mechanism, and as mentioned earlier, the mechanism often remains hidden and unperceived to most.

The one difference is that Trump is unlikely to merely resign. His ego won’t support such an option. He will either have to be removed against his will, or he will end his life because he won’t be able to live with the existential crisis that acknowledging his own fallibility will produce.

Authoritarians Do the Strangest Things

Published at 18:43 on 28 August 2018

Fourteen years ago, the “Church” of Scientology was establishing a web presence consisting of hundreds of eerily conformist “individual” web pages for its members. (The site in question is now long gone, of course.) I don’t know how many people were stupid enough to fall for it, but it was beyond me how such an effort could prove even remotely convincing.

Now Amazon is stealing that page from the Scientoligists’ playbook, this time with Twitter accounts instead of home pages. Again, it’s beyond me how anyone could find this even remotely convincing.

Then again, I’m an anarchist in a world of capitalism and government fans. Maybe most people really do find it convincing when people say stuff even though it’s transparently obvious that it’s being coerced out of them?

At Last, a New Job

Published at 13:51 on 28 August 2018

At long last, I have a job. I’ve actually been pretty sure of it for some time, but the process of getting a sure-thing offer has been bureaucratic, so I’ve held off posting about it until it was indeed a sure thing. It’s at a Fortune 500 company, not a startup, so bureaucracy is to be expected.

All my past experience to date indicates there are no truly good matches for me in the high tech world, so I’m not expecting this to be a one. The one time I did find an apparently good match, it didn’t last. Realistically, that’s about the best I can expect from this gig: 2 to 3 years before the level of change accrues to make it no longer a match for me. At the least, I have every reason to expect it will be better than the egregious mismatch that led me to depart from my previous job.

My hope is that will be sufficient time to allow me to pursue opportunities out of the high tech world by then. I was faced with the task of attempting that transition right now, when things are just not quite to the point where I’m financially ready for it. Now it seems I will have time to prepare.

I did get the job by breaking my Taleo rule; even though it was at a firm that uses Taleo, I applied anyhow, because the listing indicated the job was a far better-than-normal match for my particular skill set. I figured that if I took care to use every last buzzword in the job listing someplace in the data I fed into Taleo, I stood a better-than-average chance of getting a phone call in return for my efforts. I didn’t actually bother to enter in my entire résumé by hand, because I could fill out the Taleo forms honestly for my past two jobs and end up using all the required buzzwords.

I figured that the hiring manager would be mostly interested in my résumé, and if my attempt at hacking my way through Taleo was successful, I’d have a later chance to amend that information and make it complete. The cost in time and effort would become worth it once there was a very good chance of being hired if I did so. (The cost in time and effort is not worth it otherwise.)

The moral of the story is that no set of hard-and-fast rules can always be applicable to all situations. One has to have the flexibility to make exceptions.

My start date is Tuesday the 4th. That means it’s time for a combination end-of-summer and celebratory camping trip, starting as soon as possible. I’m about to start packing this afternoon, and plan to be underway after breakfast tomorrow morning.

I plan to visit Neah Bay and revisit Lake Ozette. As the wording implies, I’ve never been to the former place at all, despite long being curious about just what the northwestern extreme of Washington state is like.

Neah Bay was actually the alternate destination for this trip; several weeks ago, when I came up with possible places to visit, the Mowich Lake area of Mt. Rainier came up at the top of the list. However, it’s supposed to be cloudy, rainy, and quite chilly at that altitude for a good chunk of the next few days. The coast will still be damp at times, but I can expect the temperatures to be milder. Mowich Lake will have to wait for another year.

So I’m about to head off. It’s unlikely you’ll see anything more posted here until I return.

The Risk of War is Increasing

Published at 14:10 on 24 August 2018

As predicted, the deal with North Korea has basically crumbled.

Now we move on to one of the other predictions in my earlier post: the stage where the deal makes the world less safe from the risk of war, because it means Trump realizes he was Baby Kim’s rube. Not only that, the deal crumbled at the moment when the noose really seems to be tightening around Trump’s neck with respect to the Mueller investigation, giving Trump an even greater motive towards bellicosity. There’s nothing like war to distract the masses from a domestic scandal, after all.

Tom Nichols doesn’t seem to think this is likely. I wish I could be as sanguine as Nichols on this one. Yes, Nichols is correct in that Trump is no master at quantum multidimensional political chess; events of the past several years have shown clearly that Trump is barely capable of playing political checkers. But Nichols is also a conservative and a member of the defense establishment, which will naturally tend to lead him to turn a blind eye to ideologically (and career-wise) inconvenient insights about ruling classes’ propensity to use war for domestic political purposes.

So while I certainly hope Nichols will be proven correct (and he might be, Trump is definitely incompetent), I can hardly be sure about that.

How to Create a Pedophilia Scandal

Published at 07:32 on 20 August 2018

  1. Create a religious dogma where the only acceptable sexual orientation is heterosexual,
  2. Place on all a burden of expectation that one will marry the opposite sex and raise a family,
  3. Have a single exemption from this burden if you take a vocation in the church,
  4. Create a power hierarchy in those vocations,
  5. Promote the idea that said hierarchy should be unquestioningly trusted (including with children), then
  6. Act shocked, shocked, that said hierarchy is full of self-hating gay men who abuse their authority for sexual gratification.

Why the Blue Wave Will Be Irrelevant

Published at 11:54 on 19 August 2018

The explanation touches on this principle.

Analogous to how fascists (and Trumpism is a form of fascism) believe that whatever the fascist leader says is by definition always right, fascists believe that only political outcomes that create fascism can ever be legitimate. Therefore any election that undermines Trump’s power must by definition be illegitimate.

A blue wave election will be said to be the result of millions of illegal aliens voting, the result of foreign collusion, the result of Deep State collusion, or any number of other pretexts. Even if the winners are allowed to take office (and it’s an open question if all of them will be), the resulting Congress, and anything it does, will be “illegitimate” in Trumpist eyes.

The same will apply to any presidential election in 2020 that fails to return Trump to office, or to place Trump’s annoited successor into office. It will be “illegitimate.” Odds are high that Trump will declare a state of emergency and refuse to leave office if he runs and loses in 2020. And that’s if he doesn’t declare one and try to override a Democrat-controlled House or Senate first.

Ultimately, the only solution is likely to be a willingness to fight Trumpism via various means of direct action. For the time, I do plan to support electoral means of reining Trump in, but I don’t expect widespread success.

I’m mainly doing it for sake of argument so that I can confront liberals later with an example of the demonstrated impotence of their chosen method: I chose to suspend my doubts and help you try it your way, it didn’t work, now can we discuss other means?

I only hope that this works. A big part of me worries that liberals are in general so terrified of taking any personal risks that they will by and large opt to choose submission to fascism over struggling for liberty.

A Good Political Sanity Test

Published at 08:49 on 17 August 2018

Can you see the many parallels between Donald Trump and the regime (first Chávez, now Maduro) that rules Venezuela?

It’s not biased to either the left or the right. The politically deluded on the right will find it difficult or impossible to acknowledge Trump’s misdeeds. The politically deluded on the left will find it difficult or impossible to acknowledge Chávez’s or Maduro’s. It’s an equal-opportunity screen.

If you are not for liberty and against authoritarianism, then you and I really don’t share that much in common, sorry.

If So, I Move to Linux on a Commodity Machine

Published at 08:06 on 6 August 2018

If Apple is really going to dump real keyboards, I will stop using their products.

Per the article, yes, Apple’s current keyboards have very little travel. As such, they have very poor tactile feedback and I find them unpleasant to use. I haven’t bought an Apple keyboard for a desktop machine in years, and if I’m using my laptop on a desk, I will plug it into a real (classic IBM Model M) keyboard using an adaptor.

If I’m traveling, I put up with the suckiness, because basically all laptop keyboards suck. The laptop form factor dictates the small travel that makes them suck.

But if Apple makes its laptops emulate the awfulness of a stupidphone, game over. The lack of real keys is one of the big reasons why I refuse to get a stupidphone.

And yes, “stupidphone” is a much more accurate term for the things, considering:

  • Non-existent tactile feedback, as already mentioned,
  • Very limited battery lifetime,
  • Bulky, awkward size,
  • Poorly-coded, software-based user interface that makes use as a phone more awkward than a traditional cell phone.