It’s OK To Be Racist

Okayyyyy

No it really isn’t okay to be a racist. But it did get you to click, didn’t it?

I woke up this morning to an alert about an incident involving Universal Studios and the firing of an employee for inappropriate behavior. My first thought was, is this really a news story? Surely an HR problem at Universal Studios is not alert worthy news. I swiped it aside and forgot about it for five minutes.

Then it struck me, this employee was fired for making the international symbol of “made you look“. Any Millenial who has not been hiding in the dark recesses of his parent’s basement knows this game. Someone says “What’s this?” while looking down. The unknowing victim looks and sees this gesture:

And then the victim goes “Ohhh, got me!” while the trickster chuckles and says “Got eem!” and gets to punch the arm of anyone who looked.

It’s all good fun.

Apparently this gesture is now “racist”.

Hence the “outrage” felt by this interracial family from Colorado who unknowingly fell prey to the game whilst visiting Universal Studios in Orlando.

That kid must be a racist!

Even the USA Today story admits that it’s important to understand that symbols have context. Without knowing the history of this employee how can we know for sure that he made the gesture as a racist prank? Did Universal actually investigate? Did they actually find anything?

For that matter, did they even actually fire him? Seeing as he was in costume, it would be easy for the company to lie and say he was fired as a virtue signal which could then be reported as front page news. How do we even know the employee is a male? Too many questions that the media hasn’t answered.

The first I heard of this gesture being “racist” was when the Anti-Defamation League decided to add it to their “Hate on Display” list. Was it racist in March? Would this employee know that?

Who knew?

I have seen people harassed for nonsense like this before. When I was a kid there was a local high school teacher and coach suspended because the baseball team was using a Klan symbol for a good luck charm. He supposedly knew there were connotations but since the team members were doing it out of tradition (and appeared ignorant of the connection) he didn’t stop them. He was practically drug out on a rail because he was “a racist.”

One of the professors at my university was threatened for handing out exams “differently” to black students on the front row of the classroom. They perceived the act as racist, and therefore it was racist.

I’m sorry, but hand gestures, random symbols, and non-motivated acts are not racist. They are what they are. Unless the person or persons making the gestures, drawing the symbols, or committing the act does so with the intent of displaying some sort of belief in racial superiority it is simply not racism.

I once helped get a real racist fired from my workplace. He was quite vocal about his beliefs that people of color (blacks and Hispanics in particular), Jews, and women were inferior species. He threatened to punch me in the face when I called him out on it. Since we worked with a black woman, several white women, and many Hispanics, we felt he was a liability, especially in the dangerous line of work we were in.

It practically took an act of congress to get him fired. Which is why I am calling BS on this story. This looks more like a “stir the pot” story to me. Note, the offended family has houses in Colorado and Orlando, and they can afford to go to a special event at Universal. Maybe it’s a stretch, but could this just be another case of rich liberal “outrage”?

I’m waiting for the follow up to see how this story turns out.

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Much Ado About Climate

If you haven’t been under a rock for the last few weeks you might have noticed a very angry girl showing up in your news feeds. If you have been under a rock, meet Greta Thunberg, the 16 year old Swedish “climate activist” who somehow went from relative obscurity to an audience with the United Nations apparently without any help from anyone else.

This post is not about her.

No. I want to address three premises advocated by Greta and others of her persuasion.

  • Premise A: The climate changes.
  • Premise B: Human activity is a major cause of climate change.
  • Premise C: Climate change is going to have catastrophic effects on humanity

Premise A is common sense, like anything in nature, climate is variable and dynamic. Study it long enough and you are bound to see it changing. We know the climate has changed in the past, and we know it continues to change. There aren’t many people who disagree with this premise.

B and C are really the only debatable ones here.

Those who advocate for B like to use data from the past century or two to assert that the pollution begun during the Industrial Revolution has ravaged the climate and started us down a spiral of doom. But that dataset is too small in my opinion. Especially if you claim, as they do, that the earth is six billion years old. Two centuries of precise or semi-precise data is hardly a speck in the vast atmosphere that is geological time (see what I did there?).

Even if a correlation can be made between pollution and temperature change, a causation cannot be established. Weather and climate predictions contain many many variables. Miss a variable or put too much importance on one and you can skew the results dramatically. There is no way to accurately know how much impact human activity has on climate without establishing how much impact human activity has on climate. They are chasing themselves in circles.

We know that there are many variables affecting climate. Why place so much emphasis on human activity?

Well for starters, if you accept premise C, premise B offers you a speck of hope. If climate change is going to be destructive, isn’t it comforting to know that we can do something about it?

Unfortunately the people who accept all three premises don’t seem to be comfortable at all. They are terrified. Terrified people are easily manipulated by the political classes. This is why we see people like Miss Thunberg advocating that the politicians “do something about it.” They truly believe that coercion by governments is the only way to stop the coming “crisis”.

Those who believe the world is quickly approaching its demise would be better off getting out of politics and getting into engineering or environmental jobs like forestry or ecology.

Climate change-fearing engineers could invent products to replace what they deem environmentally destructive. They could make those products better than what is currently in use. They need to understand that people respond better to good products in the marketplace than to having guns pointed at their heads and being forced to change their every day behavior.

If they are concerned about carbon in the atmosphere they should be using wood for everything. Plant trees, let them grow, cut them down, plant more. Trees are one of the best carbon sinks out there and the younger they are the more carbon they suck up. Instead of yelling about deforestation they ought to get a job in forestry and learn how to sustainably manage forests.

I know I said this post isn’t about her, but let’s get back to Greta. What’s truly awful about this whole debate is that we have gotten to the point in human history where instead of discussing data, facts, ideas, opinions etc. we’d rather lob insults and labels or mock the physical or mental traits of certain people on the other side.

Stop making fun of this girl for her looks, her diagnoses, and her emotions. Instead, point her to more effective uses of her time than lobbying people who are only interested in keeping their own power.

Accept premise D: if A, B, and C are true, the market can and will find a way to solve the crisis. And people like Greta Thunberg have the perfect amount of passion to flourish in that market.

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Gossip Sucks

Gossip has been on my mind lately.

It was brought up at church that gossips won’t inherit the kingdom of God. They are put in the same category as adulterers and liars and thieves. I never really gave it much thought, but I’ve noticed quite a bit of it going around at work and in the culture in general. I suppose it’s always been there, but for some reason it has been more noticeable to me lately. Probably because of the mention at church. When you start looking for something, you’re guaranteed to find it.

What constitutes gossip? Is merely relaying information about the actions of someone gossip? Or is there a malicious intent that makes it gossip? I think we all know that one person who just can’t wait to tell us the juicy news about so-and-so and what they’ve been up to lately. Is that person a gossip? Is the news media gossip? Is pretty much everything on social media gossip?

The dictionary defines gossip as “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as true”. Given this definition I’d say we could call gossip lies. The facts may be true but then again they may not be. The entire purpose of telling them is merely to malign the character of the person you’re gossiping about.

So yes, probably most of what is on the news and in social media is gossip.

There is a bandwagon effect underneath most gossip. Those who share or indulge in the gossip are only sharing the “information” favorable to their own team. The source of the data is unimportant. What matters is that it confirms the suspicions of those sharing it. Sex abuse scandals are fraught with this kind of gossip. If you believe the accuser you share all the nasty details of the accused. If you support the accused you smear the accuser.

True justice is lost in gossip. Due process shuts down, mired in the tedious, nasty points of each side. Everyone loses, some more than others. The case never ends either, even if the courts are done with it. Years down the road there will still be fingers pointing back and forth and rumors being ruminated on.

The worst part about gossip? You know the person sharing gossip with you is most definitely gossiping about you. Heaven forbid you end up on the receiving end of someone’s poor opinion created purely out of the mouths of others.

Be careful what you listen to. Be even more careful what you pass on.

The Flame Blame

(C) Ed Hall, Not used by permission. I hope he forgives me. Heck, who’s reading this anyway?

“You might like my latest cartoon” came the message from my political cartoonist acquaintance. I’ve been following him for some time and while our politics rarely line up I at least appreciate his passion and willingness to push buttons and boundaries.

But this time he really pushed one of my buttons.

I’ve been standing on the sidelines and avoiding conversations about the wildfires in California. The few places I did comment with my knowledge and opinions didn’t seem to get anywhere. People have decided to look at the whole situation through whatever political worldview they have chosen for themselves. Even the wildland firefighter community on social media has collapsed into bomb lobbing and insult hurling.

Everyone wants to blame someone.

My cartoonist friend (and the environmentalists) want to blame climate change (and the Republicans). Yes, weather does play a major role in the spread of fire, and in the availability and moisture level of fuels. But just like you can’t blame an ice storm for car accidents, you can’t blame the climate for wildfires.

People are the cause of accidents, whether they be car crashes in an ice storm or devastating wildfires in a drought. The ice did not make the driver crash, the driver’s response to the icy road caused his accident. The climate did not create the devastation, the policies and practices of people in response to the climate created the devastation.

When Trump blamed the fires on lack of management he wasn’t entirely wrong. There is horrible management going on in many of the forests around the country. Much of that mismanagement is concentrated in the western states, particularly the three bordering the Pacific ocean.

Environmental groups, loggers, ranchers, and developers have been knocking heads in that part of the country for decades. The lobbyists for these parties have all gone to the Federal government to get their way in the land management game. Full fire suppression, a lack of timber thinning, a lack of controlled burning, and an explosion of building in the wildland interface are all polices and practices tied to these groups and their lobbying one way or another.

But just like you can’t blame the weather, you can’t blame mismanagement. Because mismanagement has a root.

Blame lies squarely on the concept of Federal ownership and management of land. The Federal government was not created to do such a thing and is not capable of doing it effectively.

Better put: land is best managed by the people who own it and live on it. Those are the people with real skin in the game.

When land belongs to everyone it becomes fodder for political ends. Public ownership means that I get to call the shots for land thousands of miles away from me. This is usually land I will probably never see, and ecosystems which I may never study or understand.

But locals know the land. Locals know what happens when you manage the forest one way or another. They live in it and derive their economic well-being from it. They have a vital interest in making the whole thing work. Mismanagement has direct and dire consequences upon them.

Ironically it is often these locals who lobby the Federal government to do what they wish because they don’t get along with the other locals. The ranchers don’t like the loggers, the loggers don’t get along with the recreation special interests, and no one gets along with the environmentalists. And no one gets along with the Fed either, because while trying to please everyone, the Fed enacts and carries out policies which please no one.

So while the ranchers are happy to have cheap (ie Federally subsidized) open range grazing land they are not happy with the fences the environmentalists want put up to protect the watershed. And the loggers are content to log land managed by their Fed friends but they are not happy with the ranchers for burning up timber while trying to improve grazing conditions. The environmentalists are happy to have a giant monopolized force machine to restrict all human action on nature but they are not happy with… well… anyone.

We should get the Federal government out of the business of land management and turn it all over to the locals. Let the local loggers and the local Hippies and the local ranchers sort it out amongst themselves.

At least then when it burns out of control we know who to blame.

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An AnCap Take on Voting

Voting… Every year it seems that we get a barrage of election mail and our medians and street corners are covered in ugly signs begging us to vote for this candidate or that, vote “no” on this, or vote “yes” on that. Every election is “the most important election we have ever seen”. The message that everyone should vote is drilled into our heads time and time again.

I just chuckle at all of this madness.

Due to travel I have not been able to vote in the past several elections. It wasn’t for lack of trying either. I applied for absentee ballots, but was informed that I had to have an address on file in my local precinct, something that had to be filed in person, at least a month before the election. So I gave up.

The whole situation got me thinking, can a consistent AnCap vote? I don’t believe in the monopoly of power that is government, what business do I have choosing who runs that monopoly? I don’t believe others have the right to select my master, why should I be a hypocrite and seek to choose theirs?

So I have decided I will not vote for candidates. It would be hypocritical for me to compel others to live under someone I have chosen but they have not consented to. I don’t want others to choose my king, why should I choose theirs?

However, given the chance, I don’t see how it’s hypocritical to vote on amendments and such, when one is voting in favor of more freedom. For example, Amendment 1 on the Florida ballot this year expands Florida’s property tax Homestead Exemption drops taxes on 60% of homesteaded properties (according to some sources). Number 2 keeps in place a limit on tax increases. Number 4 restores voting “rights” to felons who have not committed murder or sexual crimes. 5 is an amendment that would require a super majority for the legislature to raise taxes. These are no brainers.

The rest? Not so obvious. Florida has a fun way of blending several unrelated things into one amendment which makes it even more difficult for careful people to parse out their votes. One section of a proposal might sound great, but the rest is terrible. Or like 6 the amendment may have a ton of great ideas but then ending up striking down someone’s constitutional rights.

I may or may not get down to the polls this year. Life’s been crazy lately and it’s hard to get even time for myself, much less time for my “civic duty”. Plus it takes time to read through the amendments and not just rely on the opinions of others to make my decisions. So if I do, I will let you know how it goes.

If not, oh well.

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Kavanaugh, That is All

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You know, I don’t normally pay attention to politics anymore. Honestly, being an ancap, I really don’t have a horse in the game. I couldn’t care less what party is in power, as long as they all leave me alone. Nor do I really care if Brett Kavanaugh gets the seat on the Supreme Court.

That said, it’s history in the making so I was compelled to tune in to the hearings. Here are my thoughts, whatever they are worth to you:

  1. What a s#*tshow. All the Republicans want to do is jabber on about how bad the Democrats are. All the Democrats want to do is ask the nominee a bunch of gotcha questions which have little to do with determining the validity of the accusations against him.
  2. Judging by the media and social media mudslinging, due process is not really a thing any more in this country. If you’re a conservative, he’s not guilty and she’s a terrible monster. If you’re a liberal, he’s a monster and she’s a poor victim of literally the whole of society. No one really wants to go through the process of comparing allegations to witness accounts or evidence, we just go ahead and assume guilt one way or the other based on whether it fits our politics.
  3. Personally, I’m going to agree with Kavanaugh on this: she was assaulted at some time in her life. Given the lack of witnesses or evidence against him, and given the positive statements about him and other evidence in his favor I don’t believe we can definitively say it was him who committed the assault.
  4. If I have to make a call, I’m going to say the committee rules that the Senate vote proceed. And I’d bet he gets the seat. Mostly because of the slant of current politics though. If the Democrats had a complete majority in the Senate, he wouldn’t get the seat.

But then again, like I said, I don’t pay that much attention. I could be completely wrong about how this will turn out.

But the circus sure is fascinating.

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