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Uncle Josh is a Geek

A quick follow up to the LiveJournal reminiscing during an otherwise busy Holy Week (two down, five to go!). I found my GeekCode block and have updated it:

-----BEGIN GEEK CODE BLOCK-----
Version: 3.1
GM/ED/MU d- s-:++ a+ C++ !U P--- L ?E W++(+) N++ ?K w 
M+(+) PS++ PE-- Y PGP t+@ 5+++ X+@ R+++ tv+ b+++ DI++ 
D+ G e+++ h--- r+++ z?
------END GEEK CODE BLOCK------

Sadly, the Geek Code page is blank. The Internet Archive does it’s thing. I have long wanted to build version 4, especially as our understanding of Geekery has expanded enough to call football fans wearing jersey in public “cosplay”. Maybe that’s just me. There is no room in the 3.1 Geek Code for the Geek of Sports, or the Geek of Athletics.

The Geek Code is also biased towards Unix and Perl, instead of modern (or my preferred) language: Python. It also refers to Netscape. Really?

But it was a fun distraction 20 years ago. Robert A Hayden had some fun. It’s time for that kind of fun again, I say.

Uncle Josh is a Geek was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much

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Uncle Josh Fights for the Commons (Multnomah County Measure 26-184

The “American Commons” is a phrase I use to describe my ideal political party, although at this point it’s really about being in full support of Democracy as opposed to Oligarchy or Monarchy. One of the things we need to do, as a country but also at every level down to the neighborhood, is apply Democracy to the election process. One way to do this is to publicly finance campaigns, letting each serious candidate draw from a stipend during the official three-month campaign season and have the state buy advertisement slots which can be distributed evenly among those candidates.

In the meantime, we have Measure 26-184, which puts strict restrictions on how much any individual can donate to a county-level campaign. To win broad appeal, political figures will need to make a broad appeal instead of getting one or two special interests with deep pockets behind them. I am for this measure.

I believe that we will not be able to fix any political process problem until we get the effect of big money out. I know many wealthy people prefer anonymity, but they still manage to turn the world to their personal liking. See Gawker Media for the latest example of someone imposing their will on thousands of other people just because he could afford to do it.

As I also noted on Facebook yesterday, this year’s pamphlet seems low on arguments and those arguments are very one sided. Measure 26-184, however, has a great argument in opposition. There is only one argument in opposition, and it is well worth the read.

The online version can be found here (PDF version). The argument in question is on page 35 of the online document.

Uncle Josh Fights for the Commons (Multnomah County Measure 26-184 was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much

Uncle Josh goes all Aaron Burr (Oregon Measure 94 post)

Thanks to Hamilton, most Americans know a story of Aaron Burr. Burr does not always act to better his position, but waits for someone to realize his virtue and give him status. When he does decide to make a move to get into “the room where it happens” he finds the last available seat is taken up by Alexander Hamilton.

Imagine (or remember) a time when the only way to learn about new movies was to read the news paper (which came to your door every single day) and scan the ads. Sometimes there was a movie reviewer, and some times an ad on TV, and sometimes schoolyard scuttlebutt. You are twelve years old. You see a bunch of movies that look good (they aren’t, but you’re twelve! What do you know?) and you look forward to a whole summer of catching movies.

Then a new rating comes out: PG-13. You may be allowed in, but you hear society telling you “wait until you’re older”.

A few years later you get into college, because a college education is the way to a good job and financial independence. Then a ballot measure to limit property taxes goes up and your per-credit costs triple in a year and your books get five times more expensive. You hear “wait a little longer” for financial independence.

Then you enter the work force just as people push to raise the retirement age, keeping the best jobs in the hands of the more experienced workers for longer. You hear “wait a little longer” for job promotions.

You work and start to think about retirement, and are told that social security is going to be gone, or you’ll have to wait longer to see any benefits, or work well past the retirement age to build a nest egg stable enough to retire on.

You end up thinking your 65th year will see a rash of “mandatory retirement” movements that kick you out of the workforce with an estimated thirty years to live and only the savings for ten, and you really can’t work anymore.

This is what I think about when I read Measure 94. The measure would remove the mandatory retirement age of 75 for our justices. Not replace, mind you: remove.

There are no arguments in opposition.

The argument in support is that no other government position has mandatory requirements, and we have a new way of looking at age, so 75 isn’t seen as “old” anymore. This is a fair argument.

On the other hand, it also makes younger people “wait” for a chance to be elected to the judiciary if that’s what they want.

I suspect I will vote for it, only because my only argument against it that I can come up with is the wallow of self-pity for my generation. The only thing that could make me vote against it is if any of our judicial positions at the state level were lifetime terms like the US Supreme Court. This page claims this is not the case in our state, so I guess I have no reason not to vote for it, and voting for it adds an element of consistency to our state government.

Afterword: This page (An Introduction to the Courts of Oregon) has a lot of good information about how our courts currently operate.

Uncle Josh goes all Aaron Burr (Oregon Measure 94 post) was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much

Uncle Josh Fixes the Olympics and Saves a Nation

That’s one hell of a promise in the title, isn’t it? It’s a big idea that will take a lot of planning but I think it not only can work, it can be a huge benefit to the world in general and Greece in particular.

It’s commonly accepted that Rio was not ready for 2016. Swimmers should not be told “don’t touch the water because it’s nasty”. The poor shouldn’t be kicked out of their homes to make way for Olympic villages. This is a common problem with other Olympic venues. I’d have to look it up, but I think I remember hearing that very few host countries make money on the Olympics because of the temporary costs associated with running things and building things and occasionally violating people’s civil rights (assuming they have any in the host country).

It would be a lot more efficient if there was one Olympic City with permanent facilities for the Games. This is my big idea. Maybe two, to accomodate the Winter Games.

To save a country that needs help and sticks with tradition, I proppose we build Olympic City in Greece. 

Host countries will be responsible for the ceremonies and general design to bring their national flavor to the Games. Every country that participates in the Games will provide financial support, and the Host country will split the proceeds with Olympic City.

Permanent housing can be built for the althletes and trainers and families. When the Games are not in session, tourists can stay there. Various countries can schedule with the Host country to bring their athletes to the official Olympic City for training in the actual venue. This is probably where the corrupt can profit, taking bribes from the “important” countries for the best on-sate training schedule.

The benefit to Greece is financial. To get there, go through Greece. Play toursit it Greece. Boost Greece’s economy through tourism and supporting Olympic City. I hear it’s a beautiful country.

The Games will not suffer from repetition, because new games will be introduced, and that will require massive building projects. For example, I understand Surfing will be introduced in 2020. This prevents land-locked countries from hosting the Summer Games. Is this fair? There may be no surfing scene in Greece, but we can engineer anything. Hell, we made it to the moon with less calculating power than a TI-83. We can make gnarly waves (or whatever they call them) in the Meditteranean. 

It should be a long term project, but start now. I’m not sure offhand how far out the games are scheduled, but strat now, build it right, and let the world celebrate human achievement through sport instead of bashing countries for failing to prepare for the games.

Uncle Josh Fixes the Olympics and Saves a Nation was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much

Uncle Josh Turns to the Hymnal

I have found it hard to put things to words lately. This is making NaNoWriMo difficult, my online writing class an impossibility, and any sane reaction to the Paris attacks beyond all hope. But today the processional hymn managed to give me words:

O God of every nation, of every race and land

redeem the whole creation with your almighty hand;

where hate and fear divide us and bitter threats are hurled,

in love and mercy guide us and heal our strife-torn world.

 

From search for wealth and power and scorn of truth and right,
from trust in bombs that shower destruction through the night,
from pride of race and nation and blindness to your way,
deliver every nation, eternal God, we pray!

 
Lord, strengthen all who labor that we may find release
from fear of rattling saber, from dread of war’s increase;
when hope and courage falter, your still small voice be heard;
with faith that none can alter, your servants undergird.

 
Keep bright in us the vision of days when war shall cease,
when hatred and division give way to love and peace,
till dawns the morning glorious when truth and justice reign
and Christ shall rise victorious o’er all the world’s domain.

William Watkins Reid, Jr.

 

Uncle Josh Turns to the Hymnal was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much

Uncle Josh defends Atticus Finch

Okay, so I’ve heard all sorts of stuff about Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee’s “first novel” that didn’t wow publishers at the time but the next book, To Kill a Mockingbird, came out in 1960 and has been considered one of the great American novels of the 20th century.

The deluge of reactions to Watchman seem to be “Atticus Finch is a Racist” which appears to be the exact opposite of the man we meet in Mockingbird. It’s shocking. It’s almost libel.

There’s enough about the book and how it may be exploiting Lee, and that it was never meant to be published once it was shelved, to make me not want to read it. The stuff about Atticus being a member of the KKK is also hard to swallow. I’m probably going to decide that Watchman is in the same class as Highlander 2 and The Phantom Menace: a sequel that doesn’t really exist in a sane an rational world.

I maintain, however, that America needs Atticus Finch from Mockingbird. We need that good man who reacts to his own sense of justice. At every turn, he takes the higher road (as my memory of Mockingbird tells me). Several years ago the American Film Institute ran a special about the greatest heroes and villains of the movies. Best Villain: Darth Vader. Best Hero: Atticus Finch.

I have not heard anyone attempt to reconcile the Atticus of Mockingbird to the Atticus of Watchman, but one theory my sciolism can manage is this: Mockingbird recounted the story from a child’s POV and the natural hero-worship of a parent. Watchman apparently deals with Jean Louise’s disillusionment about her father. Thus, Atticus from Mockingbird is not the real Atticus Finch Lee was writing about all along.

Even if this were true, which I doubt, I still say we need Atticus Finch as described in Mockingbird, even if he is pushed more into mythological bounds by rose-colored youth. We need the man’s advice and wisdom and temperament.

As we enter yet another election cycle where war-monger Lindsey Graham is looking like the closest thing to a reasonable human being the Republicans can get, imagine an election where civility reigned. Imagine people who stood up for good things and explained without vitriol what they want to bring to the table.

Instead we have attention-seeking assholes like Donald Trump trying to buy publicity through our election cycle.

I’ll take Atticus Finch any day.

Uncle Josh defends Atticus Finch was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much