Friday, December 2, 2016

It's the economy, stupid.

We've all encountered the person who says climate change can't be happening, the planet isn't getting warmer, because it's cold right now. I'm pretty sure we all know that that's a result of an overly simplistic understanding of what climate is, how it works, and we know that they're thoroughly wrong.

 Now, President Obama is handing over the strongest economy in ages - but Trump's voters are convinced the economy's wrecked, and Trump can fix it. Why is that?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Prison Problem

In the news today, the US Department of Justice has announced that it intends to end its use of privately-run, for-profit prisons. There has been much rejoicing, but though this does represent a great step forward, offsetting the great retrograde step of using the damn things in the first place, it does not solve the underlying structural problem with the USA's system of incarceration.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The country I left is gone.

In voting to exit the European Union, the British electorate have killed my homeland. A manifestly imperfect homeland, but a land which strove to be welcoming, to learn from the new people it met. A land which acknowledged its bloody past as Not What We Ought To Have Done. The hope I knew has been swept away in a stream of fear, and of exploitation of that fear for personal gain. The recriminations have begun; Scotland now demands another plebiscite, so that they at least may escape the folly of the English. People who voted to leave now profess remorse, claiming that they did not expect to actually win. The pound, once an exemplar of a strong currency, wilts in the heat of uncertainty. London's financial engines falter, and Calais demands an end to the cooperative arrangement which made popping over to France a trivial matter for those within a few hours of the Channel Tunnel. The Troubles are about to re-emerge, worse than they ever were because everybody thought we had things sorted out; Northern Ireland wishes to remain within the EU, within the group which acts as guarantor of its first run of peace in a century.

The United Kingdom is united no longer, and the land I grew up in, with all its flaws, is dead, killed by ignorance, xenophobia, and lies. Oh ye who now tread the soil of the British Isles, walk softly; for you walk upon the grave of my first home.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Economics Sundays 1: TANSTAAFM

The title acronym is shamelessly stolen from Robert A. Heinlein; his aphorism was that There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch, but it's just as true that There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Market. All markets are unfree, and what we have to decide is how regulated they ought to be.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

State of the Silas

Today, I had possibly the best reason to go to Harbor Freight, which is a seller of crap-but-cheap tools, hand, electrical, and even air-powered. I got my impact wrench there, after scoring a compressor for free when the people across the street decided they could get by with a smaller one. Today, I needed more of those blue rubber gloves (I use them when preparing chicken, since it makes cleaning my hands much easier and less water-intensive) and a leather punch, because the belt I've been wearing recently (a replacement for my much-abused Swedish army belt, which lasted me twenty years!) had become too loose. I needed an extra hole, and we didn't own a punch. Now we do.

What makes this even better is the fact that one of my brain pills has a side effect of weight gain. It's harder than ever for me to keep my weight down (my mother can attest to my struggles; I simply enjoy food, and tend to thicken at the waist) but I'm managing it. That's cause for celebration.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Appropriation

I try not to be an asshole. Unfortunately, many culturally problematic things never really sink in until you're on the receiving end. Today, I learned what it's like to be on the receiving end of appropriation.

Everyone assumes that using the language of other cultures is respectful, whether it's spoken language or nonverbal language. It can be - but sometimes it isn't.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

"It's only a joke!"

Today is April 1st, which is otherwise known as the worst day on the internet. Everyone thinks it's funny to tell plausible lies, and everyone thinks it's my fault I'm upset because I should have known better than to believe them.

Fuck that noise, I say. Do not wilfully damage people's trust in you. Put on a silly hat, or make your lies so utterly outrageous that they cannot possibly be mistaken for real. The onus is on you, as the perpetrator, to ensure that your pranks are not harmful. You do NOT blame the victim. Ever. In any situation.