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Generic Confusion

When you leave, my blog just fades to grey
Nu ma nu ma iei, nu ma nu ma nu ma iei


News? Check. Politics? Check. Music? Check. Random thoughts about life? Check. Readership? Ummm.... let me get back to you on that. Updated when I feel like I have something to say, and remember to post it.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Public assistance and optics

At notalwaysright.com or one of its related sites, I read a story that's familiar. The submitter, a woman buying foods using food stamps or another public assistance program, recounted how she was challenged by the person behind her in line because she bought an Oprah magazine at the same time. She recounted how she responded, one of those "Who are you to judge?" responses.

First of all, I think we can all agree that buying an Oprah magazine is a serious lapse of judgment.

I'm not the kind of person to debate a random person in line, but if I were, the story wouldn't end there.

Her: "Is it your job to tell me how to live my life?"
Me: "Let me ask this, are you a registered voter?"
Her: "Yes."
Me: "Do you follow the issues and vote regularly?"
Her: "Yes."
Me: "I'm glad to hear that. Now, you are absolutely correct that it isn't my job to control what you buy when you're on public assistance. However, it is the job of our elected officials to set the terms for public assistance programs, including what one can and can't buy. And it is the job of registered voters like us to elect these officials.

"Now, what you need to consider is the optics of your purchase here. Were your benefits to be cut by $20 a year, you no doubt would protest, saying that you can't afford it, that people like you are least able to afford it. But this purchase here indicates you could afford it; you'd save enough by cutting one luxury purchase like this each month. A magazine isn't a luxury, normally, but by being on a public assistance program where you state that you can't afford necessities, that makes everything else a luxury.

"And given there's a public library in this town with a reading room with dozens of magazines, with rather generous hours of operation, buying a magazine indicates you either place a high value on convenience, or are subject to impulse purchases. Neither option reflects well on you.

"For voters who not only have to pay for their own necessities, but also the necessities of others, they are understandably upset by behavior like this. Upset voters vote for candidates that will be less generous with public assistance.

"Now, is your sense of self-righteousness worth that?"

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A humorous analysis of the marriage debate

Humorist Iowahawk manages to reference Gilligan's Island while bringing up the only reasonable solution to the debate over what should constitute a marriage:

The problem, I think, is that marriage uniquely represents a religious sacrament that doubles as an official secular legal status. We don't have laws, for example, that recognize someone's baptism or confirmation. Because of that duality of marriage, attempts to expand its definition naturally are seen as an attack on religion, while attempt to restrict its definition are seen as the imposition of religion on society. Everybody gets mad and yells.

The solution? Maybe it's time for government to get out of the whole marriage business altogether. Or at least to treat it as a standard civil contract between adults conferring certain privileges (wills, powers of attorney, co-ownership) and obligations (say hello to alimony and the marriage tax penalty, Bert and Ernie). Don't want to call it "marriage"? Fine, call it a civil union, domestic partnership, blancmange, whatever, leave it open to any pair of consenting adults. Leave the holy sacrament business to churches, and if First Lutheran or Immaculate Conception or Temple Beth-El don't want to bestow the title of "married" on a same sex couple, that ought to be their own business. You get married at a church, you get blancmanged at the county courthouse.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Easy Mode

John Scalzi's most trafficked blog post of 2012 was a bold assertion that being a straight white male was life's easy mode. The term is borrowed from modern video games.

Understandably, it got some reaction.

Here's my response.

Imagine that you play the Powerball lottery. For those unfamiliar with this lottery game, you win by matching five numbers drawn from a pool of 59 balls, plus one ball (the Powerball) drawn from a separate pool of 35 balls. Now imagine that some segment of the population starts by being told that one of the five white balls that will be drawn is numbered 1.

That's easy mode for sure. In fact, knowing that information, you could buy every combination with 1, ignoring the larger number of combinations without a 1, and reap a huge profit when you win a prize much larger than what you spent.

However, in this case, you can only buy one ticket, for this one drawing.

Your chances of winning are considerably higher, but your chances of losing are almost the same.

Some of the reaction to Scalzi's post must have been because of the use of the word easy. When you're told your life is played on easy mode, yet you can easily name a hundred different struggles, then that's like saying your struggles are meaningless. They're not meaningless to you.

Even for those who understand the term perfectly, in its gaming context, just how meaningful is the easy mode for the world's hardest game? There's no instruction manual, no cheat guide, no tutorial. Even on easy mode, you'll be a failure most of the time.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Equality

Some incredible lines today at Chick-Fil-A. We're talking a line wrapping around the building at the location near me, and that was at 8 PM.

What strikes me as ironic about the issue is that the people who fight Chick-Fil-A because they don't support what they call equality of marriage (really, the loosening of restrictions that will still be applied equally) expressed no reservation about leftist politicians applying the laws surrounding business licenses unequally. I'm convinced that this issue is what's driving the fervent support for Chick-Fil-A today. Saying you have to agree with the party line to do business is something out of a Communist or National Socialist government, not the United States government.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

You didn't build that

A particularly odious statement from the president:

"If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."

That's rich, coming from someone who literally built nothing, created nothing, did nothing that relied on his own resources.

It echoes the hateful statements of the Democrats' hand-picked Massachusetts Senate candidate, Elizabeth Warren.

Let's state the obvious. Government functions such as the military and police, protecting personal and intellectual property rights, help in allowing people to profit from what they build. But these functions help everyone, and are available to everyone's benefit, yet not everyone builds something.

Take, for example, this funny website, You Didn't Build That. Barack Obama is the spiritual godfather of this site, but he didn't build it. Clever individuals adapted pictures and memes to make an enjoyable read.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

A clear case of sex discrimination

Barnes & Noble has apologized after a senior citizen said staff at one of the retail giant's Arizona stores ejected him because he was on his own in the children's area.

Omar Amin claimed a store worker told him a female shopper had complained he was in the children's area in the store in Scottsdale, The Arizona Republic reported.


It seems that suspicion of people based on their appearance is perfectly okay to lots of people, as long as they're not some protected class. And this is just another example of the nonsensical demonization of fellow citizens. It's getting so bad that a good person fears helping a stranger, because of the suspicion it provokes from the hypersensitive.

I'm glad no one ever bothered me when I read a certain book series at the store (since I wasn't going to be seen buying it!).

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Campaign Finance Reform

At PrawfsBlawg, an interesting discussion of campaign finance reform. The legal cases are obviously far above me, but it's interesting to see mention of the many cases upon which Citizens United drew legal precedents.