In the summertime

31 05 2015

Three signs of summer in the absurd household:

1. Sheer fabric in the windows:

026

2. The summer quilt:

028

3. The shaving of the legs (human, not feline) twice rather than once a week.

Nobody needs to see a picture of that.

Oh, and the heat, of course, the fucking heat.

How could I forget.

Advertisements




Same as it ever was

30 05 2015

There are three issues for which American presidents will always—despite campaign promises, previous votes, and party positions—go their own way:

Trade, energy, and security.

Presidents will always seek expanded trade agreements, greater access to energy resources, and whatever is necessary to secure what we now, alas, call the Homeland.

Democrats and Republicans will vary in how they go about this business—Dems may talk more about renewables and Republicans may project a greater hawkishness—but in the end, each of them, as president, will sign the trade deals, drill for oil and gas, and sop up every last bit of information flowing through the leaky pipes of cyberspace, all to “strengthen America”.

This cuts across interests in both parties. Environmentalists and labor activists will get screwed by Dems on energy and trade, perhaps placated with a few wilderness set-asides or anodyne words in trade deals; hawks and nativists will be unsatisfied by Republicans daunted by popular opposition to extended wars and willingness to open borders to both people and products, respectively; and (civil) libertarians will be screwed by presidents of both parties when it comes to the ever-expanding national security state.

Thus, the more ideologically-minded partisans on either side of the divide will be forsaken again and again, the everlasting Charlie to President Lucy.

~~~

As one of those ideologically-minded partisans, I have some sympathy for those who want to believe that this time, this time things will be different, and who disillusioned when they are not.

But as a fan of Machiavelli, I think it is better for us not to have illusions about power.

The promises are nice–necessary, even, to move us to canvass and call and get out the vote—but they go only so far as politics will allow them.

And on trade, energy, and security, that ain’t very far.





Circus Maximus MMXVI: Never gonna get it

28 05 2015

I’m so glad Rick Santorum is now officially in the race (which he’ll lose) for president.*

Why glad?

Because, while he has no chance of winning, he, like Mike Huckabee (who won’t win), can make some fun trouble for the candidates who do have a shot.

Carly Fiorina (who won’t win) might bless us with more ads featuring diabolical livestock, but is otherwise uninteresting, as is George (just plain “who?”) Pataki. And Ben Carson, who is a truly terrible candidate, will likely simply be politely ignored by the rest of the field before he retires to the Fox sinecure for which he’s auditioning.

Ted Cruz (who won’t win)? He might be fun to watch just to see how much he pisses off everyone else, and I’d bet dollars to donuts that Huckabee or Santorum will be able to needle him into a highly entertaining aneurysm.

On the Democratic side, I’m glad Bernie Sanders (who won’t win) is running. He, along with Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb (neither of whom will win), won’t give Hillary Clinton much of a workout, but hey, a few laps around the track are better than none at all.

In any case, I make no predictions as to who will ultimately prevail in either the Republican contest or the general election. Clinton’s a strong candidate, but that’s no guarantee of nothin’: whoever the GOPpers pick will likely also be a strong candidate.

Which means that, a year from now, my sang froid will be gone and I’ll be reminding myself to Take deep breaths.

*Yes, it’s officially the race (which he’ll lose) to be the Republican nominee, but we all know the point of winning the primary (which he won’t) is to run for president.





Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

26 05 2015

Don’t ever change, Donald.





Wait wait wait

20 05 2015

Two things:

1. The reasons I want to be on Twitter are the reasons I shouldn’t be on Twitter.

2. Want to make something relatively small relatively big, and then small again?

Easy: Don’t do that small thing, day after day after day, until it looms so large that you can’t not do it, after which it shrinks back to smallness.

Bonus thing! Delay checking enrollment on your summer session-I course, and then, upon finding out it’s so low it likely will be cancelled, think, Huh, guess I should put up a freelancing ad, and then not do it.

You know, on the off chance that in the next 10 days enough students will sign up and everything will be all right.

Because nothing like doing nothing to make sure everything will be all right.





Wow unbelievable

18 05 2015

This is too easy.

Autonomous cars will be commonplace by 2025 and have a near monopoly by 2030, and the sweeping change they bring will eclipse every other innovation our society has experienced.

No, and no.

They will cause unprecedented job loss and a fundamental restructuring of our economy, solve large portions of our environmental problems, prevent tens of thousands of deaths per year, save millions of hours with increased productivity, and create entire new industries that we cannot even imagine from our current vantage point.

Possibly, unlikely, unclear, perhaps, unclear, unclear.

The whole piece goes on like this, ending with

But perhaps most exciting for me are the coming inventions, discoveries, and creation of entire new industries that we cannot yet imagine.

 It is exciting to be alive, isn’t it?

Well, beats the alternative, I guess.

I was going to say I don’t want to rain on Mr. Kanter’s driverless-car parade—but of course I do.

Of course I want to smack him upside his head and say “Have you never heard of the steam engine? the telegraph? high-yield agriculture?

ANTIBIOTICS, fer-cryin’-out-loud-from-the-top-of-the-Empire State Building!”

Or how about the freakin’ bar-code, which, while certainly not up there with ANTIBIOTICS (fer cryin’ out loud. . .), is more innovative than a car. Without a driver.

You know what was innovative? The car, that was innovative.

The driverless car? Cool tech, bro, and it may eventually become more popular than the drivered-car, with some of the effects (good and bad) Kanter mentions.

But it’s still a car, still takes up space, still requires roads, still requires traffic infrastructure (signals, policing, snow removal, road work) still requires maintenance, still moves people one or a few at a time.

It’s more of the same, except hands-free.

Maybe my perspective is skewed because I live in a city in which most people get to and from work and wherever without getting behind the wheel. Granted, we enter vehicles (taxis, limos, buses, trains) which someone else is driving, but the idea that one can get from here to there without paying (much) attention to what happens in-between is. . . old.

Perhaps someone living in a place less densely crossed with mass transit or car-service options might be able to grab the sweepiness of the no-driver-car than I can—maybe if I had to drive from Sheboygan Falls to Milwaukee every day, I’d be more excited at the thought of spacing out while hurtling up and down I-43.

But one of the advantages Kanter lists of driverless cars—that these would also be ownerless cars—would likely not be seen as an advantage by those in rural areas and small towns, not least because it’s not clear that there would be sufficient population density in a place like Sheboygan County to make it worthwhile for some company to set up a fleet of to-rent cars. And even if they did, I doubt that people would be willing to wait for that car to show up from the other side of the county just so they could make a beer run.

And hey: why would driverless cars necessarily be ownerless? I mean, maybe they could be, but why would not-driving a car make you want to not-own a car? Yeah, owning a car in New York City is a pain, but the rest of the country is most definitely not the city.

I could go on—no, really, I could—but who wants that. So let me end by saying, yeah, driverless cars might someday take over the road, and maybe that’ll lead to some of the (not-so-) nifty things Kanter mentions in his essay.

But it’s still a car. On a road.

Ain’t nothin’ new about that.

~~~

h/t Robert Farley, Lawyers, Guns & Money





All things weird and wonderful, 51

14 05 2015

I don’t understand this.

But I laughed.

Redditor In4theKill

So, just go with it.

~~~

h/t Cute Overload