Friday, February 23, 2018

Don't Be A Mouthpiece For Vladimir

     Interestingly, every bit of coverage of the FBI's Russian election-interference case, from NPR to NBC to Fox News reports that the ongoing Russian effort is to find divisive issues and fan the flames -- not just pushing for (then) Mr. Trump, Sen. Sanders and Ms. Stein in the 2016 election, but anything else they can grab, including the recent school shooting. They are pumping out lots of extremist noise on both side of the issue.

     Have an opinion about that atrocity; have an opinion about what should be done in response to it. Express your opinion anywhere that'll let you, if that's what you want to do. But take a close look at memes you share; take a close look at tweets and opinion pieces you pass along. Is it from a source you know, or is it pot-stirring from some clickbait mess? If it cherry-picks quotes, does it provide a source or link for the full text, audio or video?

      Debate is an important and useful part of political discourse. Saying your piece and standing up for your beliefs is one of the ways we process horrors like the Parkland mass shooting -- but don't be played by Mr. Putin's online culture-warriors.
      We stick different bumper stickers on our cars but we all drive together on the same roads pretty peacefully. That is one of our great strengths as Americans. Remember it.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Saw Mom Yesterday

     She's in better spirits.  She...flickers: she knows you for awhile, and then not so much, and then she remembers again.  But she's happy, not scared or sad.  And they're keeping an eye on her blood chemistry and adjusting her medications accordingly.

     The situation isn't great but it's about as good as it could be, in light of her age and health.  Mom grew up during the Great Depression and WW II, at the very tail end of what's been called the "Greatest Generation," people who not only endured by persisted and triumphed.  But no one wins their last battle; the best any of us can hope for it to enter it unafraid.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Worry About My Mom

     I'm getting better but I'm Ssill not quite up to snuff.  Some of it is the muscle relaxer.  Some of it is...I don't know.  Worn out. 

     My Mom's having some more serious difficulties.  Any prayers, positive vibes and good thoughts you'd send her way will be much appreciated.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Nominally Off This Week

     Though I am on call if the weather gets better.  And I'm still sick.  I did a poor job of taking my medicine on schedule over the weekend, and now I am keeping track.  Maybe that will help.

     Something I dislike even more than the way people shout talking points past one another in the wake of firearms tragedy is the level of personal attack to which many descend.  It is actually possible for people to have deep, fundamental disagreements without either one of them being evil or uncaring.  But not, it seems, without them accusing one another of it.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Friday, February 16, 2018

It's Not License To Be A Jerk

     I'm sick and tired of people behaving like arseholes and when they are called on it, shrugging it off by claiming to be "on the spectrum."

     That's not how it works.  If you're on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum, you're not any different than anyone else with a disability who is able to function in the wider world: sure, decent people treat you fairly, and decent -- or at least ADA-compliant -- workplaces and businesses have removed physical barriers, but if you're on wheels or sticks, if you can't hear or have lost a limb (and so on), you've still got to work harder than the person who isn't challenged.  I watched a blind man cross a street the other day; he read the signals fine by ear and with his cane leading the way, crossed briskly, found the curb, stepped up (the cut is offset and he'd missed it), crossed a patch of grass to the sidewalk and worked his way over to the traffic-light pole to press the button so he could cross the intersecting street: it was more work for him than you or I encounter accomplishing the same task. 

     And if you're not so good at social interaction, that's not a license to be obnoxious.  It means you're going to have to work harder at saying "please" and "thank you."  If you're not so good at reading nuance, you're going to have to ask people for clarification. And you're probably going to have to figure out how to phrase it in advance.  It's not a badge of specialness or a get-out-of-awkwardness-free card, it's a problem, and one that you must deal with.  Deal with it.  Work at not being a jerk.

Thursday, February 15, 2018


     Wednesday hit with a thud at mid-afternoon, when TV news devolved into the kind of close attention given to a disturbed killer that disturbed killers crave--

     The predictable talk of "too many guns" and "violent video games" and so on followed; they are cheap and easy things to blame but boys have always played violent games  (remember cap guns and tin soldiers?)  and this country has long had widespread firearm availability and ownership.  What nags me is that no one seems to much care about identifying and maybe even straightening out the killers before they strike.  There's a pattern of torturing small animals, of social alienation, threats of violence and so on that appears to be common to many people who later commit horrific crimes, and it is largely ignored.  Instead, there's a focus on the means -- guns for mass shooting, the hardware of imprisonment for abductors -- or the victims (who indeed rate attention) or the now-outre personality and behavior of the criminal.

     Where was all that when the kid was a Cub Scout?  Where was the concern when he kept tripping fire alarms?  It it enough to expell a child with behavioral problems from school, and let the wider world deal with them?

     For every person who commits a headline-grabbing crime like this, a few dozen more are committing lesser violent crimes; or among the homeless, and perhaps preying on their fellows.  If we're determined to be "doing something," let's direct our energies at people, not objects.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Read It. Read The Links.

     Reason magazine may have found the next Michael A. Bellesiles: Nancy MacLean, author of a hatchet-job bio on one of the early lights in the Public Choice movement.  She certainly has an agenda, and is quite willing to dream up quotes to match.  Have a look.  Don't sperg out, follow the links.  Paging Mr. Fisk....

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

It Wasn't.

     They guessed wrong.  The tower guy started up one of of my employer's towers in a nice sunny downtown location, got about thirty feet up, said "Whups!" and became very meticulous about maintaining two points of attachment as he climbed higher.  Ten feet on, he shook his head and called down, "There's ice on every horizontal surface!"

     That was it for tower work yesterday.  I had plenty else to do.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Can It Be...?

     After weeks and weeks of (well-justified), "Not in this weather," the tower crew is thinking this is the week.  We'll start with (what I hope is) a small task today, and -- weather permitting! -- move on to the big job tomorrow.

     Given that the outstanding feature of the weekend was sleet and today's forecast calls for a high of 33°F, I'm a little surprised.  But I've worked with these guys for years and they have a very finely calibrated sense of the possible when it comes to weather and high places.