7.20.2016

Casus Belli

For the last six months of my less-than-illustrious military career, I spent time in a leg unit in the good old FRG. The BC couldn't quite get a handle on what to do with the likes of me....way overqualified E-4 with a Bachelors, a GT score of 160, and a crypto clearance. I was very much an odd duck.
Anyhoo....When they found out that I could both type and could nest recursive clauses, I spent a shitload of time editing and rewriting op-plans (infantry officers have a uniquely poor grasp of the English language).
Reforger, NATO dep, etc, etc. I went through them and edited the shit out of them.
One thing that I distinctively remember is the "Denial Operations" aspect of these pieces of screed.
I would posit, that if push came to shove, and Erdo got too frisky, that the 40-80 dial-a-nukes at Incirlik can be rendered moot in a single strike. They won't do much good if where they used to be is at the bottom of a radioactive crater.
I would also posit that even Erdo knows this. What he is trying to discover is: Do anyone have a pair in Washington?
Maybe BHO doesn't, but I would also posit that there are a bunch of AF O-8 through O-10 who damn sure won't let Erdo have their toys.
For that matter, if it comes to that, Vlad P would probably look the other way.

7.19.2016

A council of Buehrgers

What are the odds?  There are three answers below in the little blogger checkbox dohickey

Question one:

What are the odds of a major Western Democracy having a major insurrection/coup in the next 365 days?

7.18.2016

Maturity

I am an old man
This is not the country I grew up in.
Nor is it the country I want my grandchildren to live in.

I read this good gentleman every day.  I enjoy his fellow-traveller, cranky old man personae immensely, as that is my personae as well, and he does it so much better than I do.  Multiple kudos are always in order.

But what is the country he wants to have his grandchildren grow up in?  I would hazard a guess that it is the United States of 1950 to 1975 era.  Life was pretty sweet then, we had full employment, a more-than-ample energy supply, and a set of competitors that were busy rebuilding economies destroyed by a war that never touched our shores.

Simply put, you can't get there from here.

This is a problem with my generation, and Jim is of my generation.  We had it so easy for so long that it is hard for us to believe that what we had wasn't real.  It was an illusion forged out of destruction that we didn't see and a reckless use of limited resources.

The world has returned to its normal fractious state of competing interests that we cannot control. Our foreign policy has been reduced to the Byzantine staples of destabilization and bribes.  Our industry has been gutted and the manufacturing jobs that once formed the core of our vibrant economy have been shipped to third world sweatshops where profits accrue to corporations and despots.

Our education has been reduced to a "drug and sequester" set of tests administered by a professional class more concerned with maintaining their monopoly, regular raises and privileged self-advertisement than the mundane challenge of teaching.

Our corprate and party leadership has become a class of rentier worthy of the title ancien regime.

No Jim, the country in which you wish to raise your grandchildren is long gone.  I am afraid that what we have, with all its warts,  is the best on offer though.

Time to get back to work and roll up your sleeves.  Your grandchildren will live in an environment smaller and less ostentatious than the one you so long to give to them.  It will be defined by the hard work that they and you and their parents put into the mix.  If it is good, it may very well be that they are the exception, not the rule.

In case you have forgotten.




7.17.2016

The First Step

Physicist David Bohm liked to stress: “In scientific enquiries, a crucial step is to ask the right question.  Indeed each question contains presuppositions, largely implicit.  If these presuppositions are wrong or confused, the question itself is wrong, in the sense that to try to answer it has no meaning.  One has thus to enquire into the appropriateness of the question.”

7.15.2016

Just an Odd Question

Please take the little yes/no/maybe quiz below.

Question of the week:

OMG:  My God:  Mein Gott:  Mon Dieu

Now....the question is:

Is it ever appropriate to use the first person possessive in reference to what you accept as a higher authority

7.14.2016

Short and Bilious

OK, I am only going to say this once.

If you are one of the pathetic loser middle-class white men who drive around in their SUV with the windows open and your little lap dog (Read here Shitzu, or King Charles Spaniel, or Bichon Frise or some other little yapping fluffy bag of shit) sitting on your lap.  Please stop reading this blog...Now, forever!  You are a loser who I don't even want reading my material in case there is a chance of any of your utter and complete lameness somehow crawling back along the alleyways of the internet and infecting me.

If you are one of these morons with a SUV and the following;
  • a NRA sticker, 
  • a pro second amendment sticker, and 
  • a sticker defining gun control as holding your weapon with both hands, 
and your little white dog sitting on your lap actually barking at people at traffic lights .......well, all I can hope is that you haven't reproduced.

This country is exceptional, but I posit it isn't for the right reasons.




7.13.2016

Quick and Easy

This is probably the easiest post that I have ever written:

I sent an e-mail with the following quote to Tiberius, Gaius, Claudius, and Cicero. 


I suspect the reason has to do with one of the unmentionable realities of contemporary American social life—the fact that so many Americans these days long desperately for a good excuse to hurt someone. Watch the way that Americans behave toward anyone they’ve decided it’s okay to hate, and you can count on seeing a really impressive degree of viciousness in action. This is why we fetishize vampires and zombies, why mass murderers occupy so large a place in our collective imagination, why policies that punish the poor for their own destitution enjoy bipartisan support, and so on.   
Return From Cicero
Relatedly, our video game culture, which mostly involves killing guys (human or monster) and stealing their stuff.   Talk about an "impressive degree of viciousness in action."
Interesting that all the violence in the video games and movies is classified very clearly in our culture as entertainment. I believe it is true that bullet manufacturers have struggled to meet demand from the general public - since the beginning of Obama term one! This is also part of the entertainment industry - ripping off rounds into a picture of a hated individual. Or maybe patriots are just stockpiling the bullets - daydreaming of the day when they might be called upon to commandeer a Bird Sanctuary or something even more patriotic. But if the bullets are being stockpiled, eight years of maximum overtime production is a lot of bullets isn't it? Anyway, the classification of all this stuff as entertainment might be a little red flag that folks are a bit warped these days.
Return from Claudius
(A paraphrase of something I read years ago, I don't recall who said it.)
In commercial, advertising-driven media, you the viewer are not the consumer.
The advertiser is the consumer.
You are the product.
Return from Gaius
It's probably that we've always been a bit warped in the head. Humanity as a whole, that is; look at all the stuff we've come up with (Crusades, slavery, cultural superiority); this isn't really new. You could make an argument that some of the game developers probably just wanted stuff like those video games to work as a vector; that is, something for people to channel their anger on instead of other people. Like a punching bag. And still, there are games and books who show that people are trying to move past the whole hate/violence thing. But even then, it's still there today. That's likely always going to be true.

7.12.2016

訟 Arguing (hexagram 6)

Yes or No.

Stay or Go.

Trump or Hillary.

The real problem with the system is that we try to distill from a complex, nuanced set of preexisting conditions a binary decision.  A or B.  Yes or No.

I think that this is because  the way that our language and the simplistic manner that the media portrays the issues in front of us.  I refer to this as the "Passive Voice" problem that Microsoft foisted on us in the 90's

The world isn't really like that.  The world is about setting it up so that no one is all that displeased or all that happy.  It isn't about getting your way and ideological purity, it is about compromise and living in a society where there is an almost certain chance that the guy sitting next to you doesn't agree with you about any number of issues.

Consider the following little spreadsheet outlining the past eight presidential elections


You have to look at these results in the way you would look at the results for the world around you. Lets use eleven people in this little thought experiment.  You and the other ten folks are working on a problem.  Four other people agree with you for a five.  Five people disagree with you.  Then there is old Jake over there who, as usual comes in from left field.

Now, if you knew all the people involved, and you valued them as people, you would sit down and try to work something out.  No one would be very happy with the end deal, but nearly everyone could live with it.  Jake would stay around because his view would probably be one of the reasons that you managed to get anything done at all.

But that isn't the way we do things as a country or a congress.  All the issues are polarized and not available for compromise.   Anything that is amenable to a compromise is held hostage to the political posturings needed to for bargaining chips in  the ongoing issues in the "polarized" column.

You see, there is no such thing as truth in the public forum.  Truth there is what every man wants it to be for himself.    Context is everything in the public forum.  When the events are reported, they are reported in a vacuum, nuggets picked delicately from the ore of real world experience to serve the needs of shaping public opinion.

This is the real problem with the state of the electoral system today.  The problems are structural (gerrymandering and safe seats), venal (the purchasing of politicians by actors actively opposing a government by the people, for the people),commercial (the castarati of the media), and ecclesiastical (the incessant pushing of the religious sphere into the political sphere).  The infection here is systemic and I, for one, would sincerely doubt that the rot can be expunged.




7.11.2016

College rambles

Now the greatest heresy, that education makes you better.

Nope, in nearly every case here in the good old USA all an education does is make you status oriented. Even the meanest "commercial recreation" graduate seems to have it in his head that his "education" puts him ahead of the pack.

My eldest is twenty now, he was taking classes over at the local community college instead of being subjected to the vagaries of a high school indoctrination.  I am trying desperately to keep his eyes on getting an education rather than getting a job.  Now, this is harder than one would think.  It is basically a way of approaching the college experience in a manner not tainted by the capitalist system that has hijacked the sector.

I am not having him keep his "eye on the ball" where the education that he so needs is defined by the diploma that will grant him the right to apply for a job.  I am trying to get him to take classes that teach him about the world that surrounds and enfolds him.  History is good, English allows for an ability to communicate effectively, math teaches him complex thought.  I am trying to convince him that taking classes in subjects like geography and geology, will serve him as well as classes in psychology and sociology.

But he will also need classes like Psych and Soc in order to be able to parse the world around him. It isn't that these disciplines hold any great portion of the "truth", but they will allow him to ask the questions leading to better a understanding the people who inhabit the world around him. So those should probably be on the table.  I am also hoping that he manages to get into some of the trades oriented classes so that he can find something to do with his hands.  That is a much tougher sell.

But I have to recognize the idea that eventually he will have to enter one of the "programs" in order to get the ability to pay for his food, drink, and respite. But because a major part of education is to find a way to get by in a strange land, and everything has become a function of the peculiar guilds that run the world today:  You have to check off the boxes that they set up for their new apprentices.

But the idea that a college education is the sole, noble means of achieving a means of support has run its course.  The colleges today are diploma mills of the internet and a vulgar means of slipping small amounts of  money to barely qualified Adjunct Professors and large amounts of money to the administrators.

The overall business plan is to keep the "status" filter going by parroting on television commercials the idea that only college will provide.  The "colleges" then convince the young and stupid (1) to take out massive amounts of student loans.  The college administrators then pay themselves handsomely for the service that they render to the financial industry delivering the debt-slaves to the market.

I read an article in the past that went on about how in law offices even the runners need four year degrees.  Well, who the fuck wants to be a runner in an Atlanta law firm?  The answer is, folks who are seeking status.  To be around the big people is worth any effort, because you might get invited to eat their leftovers one day.

If you are going to make it in this world, you had better figure out how to live outside of the rain shadow of the rich.  A plumber is well paid, an electrician is an excellent job, soldiering has always been honorable.

The vast bulk of college graduates merely run excel spreadsheets as a tiny part in a play for the benefit of the rich.
_____________________________

(1) Yes, stupidity is a state that the young often inhabit, but rest assured, it is curable through being kicked repeatedly in the teeth by an uncaring world

7.08.2016

Lifestyles

Now this is one of the oddest creations that we have come up with as a culture,  the idea that the accoutrements of your daily life define you.  While I recognize that there  has always been luxury goods and status symbols to differentiate between oneself and the hoi polloi, the West seems to have gone a little apeshit with the concept.  The US is particularly guilty, but there is plenty of tacky going around for just about everyone.

Now, when you look back to the olden days, which, by the way, were considerably more fucked up than we ever thought of being, wealth was held by the upper tier of society.  One stocked oneself with arms and armsmen and kept the larder stocked by taking from the helpless and keeping it.  Thus was lifestyle maintained in the "good old days".

Since the advent of good old Hank Ford and the production line, things have changed.  Now the outer trapping of what used to be considered wealth is available to one and all.  Homeless folks sleep in cars, eat prepared and packaged foods, and other such strange discontinuities.

So we are in a wealthy society where ownership of exquisitely frivolous things is the norm and almost a right.  I have seen folks paying for junk food with food stamps while texting on a smart phone.  Unemployment checks go to keep up payments on the SUV.  Retirements get raided for marble countertops.  All these things happen.

But all of these things do not occur in a vacuum.  All of these things are built around the strange distortions built up by the current free market system itself.  Mass production has at its core mass consumption.  As the old song goes "you can't have one without the other".

So the law of supply and demand here in the West is best described as a death embrace.  We have a society of small folks grasping for mass produced icons of acceptance and ease.  These "essentials" are supplied by a corporate culture that would die if they stopped selling such.

So, what can  you and I do about this you ask?  Well, nothing.  We are in a societal cycle and the widely held myth that a few rebels can hold out against a juggernaut is at best laughable and there is no historical precedent for this ever occurring.  The menu items for the next twenty years are

  1. Take it
  2. Leave it
As an aside, menu items one and two may not be available

The system is deteriorating, sometimes in subtle ways barely noticeable by the most astute, sometimes plastered in headlines.  No matter the level of public notice, the deterioration goes on.  The system we live in is fraught with contradictions, and Hegel taught some uncomfortable lessons how this kind of stuff usually gets resolved.

Right now, that contradiction and the angst that goes with it is is becoming palpable.  The fact that the level headed Yves at Naked Capitalism feels it, gives much credence that there is something afoot.  The have's know that the system is rotten, and as any rational person would do, they are trying to get while the getting is good.  The Preppers are doing the same thing on a smaller scale.  Both strategies are built around the simple and time-tested concept that having something when there isn't enough to go around is probably a wise plan.

But the haves and the preppers have also stumbled upon the idea (and it isn't a bad one) that having sufficient firepower to keep the goods in your larder instead of operating an involuntary distribution center is also a good plan.  Again, the overall strategy is the same, but the execution is at differing levels.  The haves are purchasing police departments and the Department of Homeland Security.  The preppers are stocking up on 7.62 rounds.  Guess who will win that play.

The house isn't on fire yet.  But folks are starting to smell smoke.  The serious issues with maintaining a consumer culture are apUproaching fast.  The bulk of the American populace knows no other way of life.