May 23

Forth

“For when anything is changed and sallies forth from its confines, it is at once the death of something which previously existed.”

-Lucretius

May 23

Ana

I think experiencing anesthesia should be counted as death. There’s no consciousness there any more, so…death.

You wake up as the same person — you think — but really it is a different you. One who has passed through cessation of all conscious thought, volition, action, experience.

And then been rebooted in the same body, but with a different mind. Much like the other, dead mind, but not quite the same.

How many times have you died?

May 22

Apocalyptic narratives

I was wrong I think about why apocalyptic narratives are so popular now. Or at least missed the largest single explanatory factor.

Previously, I thought they were popular because climate change is obviously occurring and this will potentially be a civilization-ending process. Yes, that does have something to do with their rise but probably isn’t the primary reason.

I suspect these narratives are common now because in an apocalypse, if you survive everything you do has value and is consequential. Unlike most of our bullshit jobs, our worthless daily activities that benefit no one and most likely harm many people, everything one does in an environment of collapse has immense meaning — for surviving, for helping others and for having a future at all.

Craving meaning is what I think is going on here. Yearning for something unequivocal. Part of why young people vote for Sanders in such overwhelming numbers is this same quest for meaning, the hunger for something that matters. Young people aren’t dumb. They know a life of precarious and poorly-paying jobs making someone else rich — and from which they will never be able to retire — will definitely not be a happy or fulfilling life. (And they resent it even more when their “wise elders” who had it much better than they ever did or will condescendingly inform them that they must suffer this way to fund the lavish retirements and keep up the house prices of those who’ve directly harmed them.)

Apocalypse is in vogue because what you do — the choices you make — can’t not matter.

Now, for many young people and quite a few older ones, any choice they make won’t really matter at all.

One can see the appeal.

May 22

Easy

What would be the most effective terrorism if terrorists actually cared about achieving their goals? This site got me thinking about it, and I think this is correct.

But now I’m wondering: if they were acting for political goals, what would be their best strategy? I think it would be to attack the technological infrastructure. There’s no way all that stuff can be guarded, and one person can do a lot of damage with little risk of being caught.

Indeed — give me three people, a few pounds of C-4 and a weekend, and I could eliminate North American internet access for three to six months. Maybe longer. I don’t mean it’d be partially available. No, it’d be gone.

Why no one has done this, I don’t know. Because it’s so, so easy.

If you doubt, it’s no harder than this even in North America.

May 21

FWP

When a writer grapples with something like this, I’m tired of the idiot chorus screeching “First World problems!” as if that somehow invalidates it.

Motherfucker, I live in the First World! All I got is First World problems!

On a more serious note, is there any more worthless pseudo-refutation of someone’s thoughts? Or less useful? It’s the tactic of those who have nothing better to contribute, because it’s not as if they actually want to discuss Third World problems at all, either.

I should write an extension that anytime it parses and detects that phrase, it either removes the comment from my view or replaces it with the phrase “I am part of a bozo explosion.”

May 21

Bad data

Turns out most of the narrative — unsurprisingly — presented by the mainstream media about who votes for Sanders is wrong or at least highly misleading.

If you look at race it seems Clinton owns the “black vote.” But Jeff Stein writes, “several polls have put Sanders ahead of Clinton among young African-Americans; in the Reuters polling data, for instance, Sanders beats Clinton by 25 points among black voters aged 18 to 29.

I bolded that last line because I’m very tired of being told that Sanders is the candidate of privileged white people.

The media narrative was designed to mislead. Is it ever any other way? I expect there are things about Clinton that are similar, though not to the same extent since she is the establishment’s anointed candidate.

Ugh, why am I posting about this again? Trump’s got this one in the bag anyway, because of the undemocratic Electoral College and because misplaced 90s nostalgia won’t be able to put Clinton over the top.

May 20

Housing

Of all the atrocities to sense and ethics that occurred during the Great Financial Crisis, this one dumbfounded me the most because at the time I thought, there’s no one way anyone can get away with this. But they did. Easily and with very little pushback or even reporting on it.

What precipitated this was that the mortgage industry thought they could ignore a 300-year old system of property law. They considered it too costly and time-consuming to generate and store (and pay to publicly record) paper assignments for every single transfer. Never mind that it was the law. Never mind that having a well-established property records system, so you can buy and sell property with the confidence that nobody else has a claim on it, is what separates developed and under-developed nations. The industry didn’t want to pay for it, so they didn’t. And they dared everyone – homeowners, politicians, law enforcement – to stop them. And given what transpired, and how little accountability we ended up seeing for this, you have to acknowledge that the industry made the right bet.

In short, there are millions of houses out there now where it’s not clear in any real way who owns them — oh, some bank says they own them, or some family believes they own their house, but if you actually examine the chain of title it’s pretty clear there is fraud along the way — and guess what? Fraud invalidates current title.

(And I actually do know a fair bit about this. I worked at an offshoot of Transunion for a while before I broke into IT, first as a proofreader but later after I got my own team and did a good bit of title examining. This means determining if a title has a clear chain of ownership, no liens, and that the property description is something that makes sense. So yeah, I actually do know how to examine a title to industry standards; I once upon a time got paid to do it and I was really good at it.)

I don’t foresee millions of title invalidations. But nevertheless it is possible. Most likely, the title invalidations would benefit big banks anyway so here’s to hoping it doesn’t happen. My point though is that there are millions of properties out there now where the title documents by dint of massive fraud back in the title chain are completely compromised, and it is very possible that this fact could cause harm in the future.

But if you don’t see the problem with what happened think of it this way: what if you showed up at the DMV and your name, say, is Jennifer Martinez. You’re getting a license, let’s posit. You have a birth certificate written in crayon that claims your name is “Twiggy Nietzshe.” Your document that establishes your current address is some scrawl limned in Sharpie on the side of your cat. And you have a current passport from the country of Neverland and another valid one from Atlantis.

But the DMV takes a look at this, pronounces it all good, and hands you a license.

By way of absurdity, the above is just as ridiculous as what the banks got away with above. Really. And they should’ve been smacked down just as hard as you would be if you showed up at the DMV with that collection of “documents.”

I think foreclosure and chain of title being difficult to understand is what caused this to be woefully under-reported, but it was for me the most shocking event of any that occurred during the GFC, this repudiation of 300 years of very well-established and previously-incontrovertible property law.

Having worked in the industry, I have no idea how any of it is still operating with so much clear fraud right out in the open.

One of the biggest scams in history that very few even know was and is a scam, and one with still-extant very real financial and ownership risks.

May 20

Degrees

You can no doubt be obese and healthy — for a little while.

Just like you can be submerged in water and remain healthy — for a little while.

Reality eventually intrudes in both cases, however.

May 19

Hintin’ it’s not Clinton

I’ll be glad when this election is over, no matter the outcome. Tired of hearing about it. Tired of witnessing formerly-sane people descend into terror and nostalgic fantasy.

I don’t support Trump, Clinton or Sanders — but I fundamentally can’t understand anyone who supports Clinton. What a terrible choice for the country, for progressivism, for feminism, for the world.

I can understand supporters of Trump, though I disagree with them. I can understand Sanders supporters, because I mostly agree with them (though not as much with their candidate).

But I can’t understand — will never understand — their apologies and excuses for Hillary Clinton’s mendacity, corruption and terrible leadership skills. Her policies will be destructive to the nation and the interests of the US. Trump has a way with words — or at least short phrases — and “Crooked Hillary” is perhaps the most apt political slur ever.

Clinton might arguably be the lesser evil, but she’s still damn evil indeed. She won’t be president (it’ll be Trump because the electoral college favors him) but that she could be is a terrible fact of American political life.