Shorties: The Reawakening

Sorry for the tab dump here. I’m in the progress of migrating RSS readers and all is madness.

Gee, I wonder why that would be!: These big events tend to inspire copycats. Well maybe if we didn’t glorify the asshats who do this stuff….

On Bad Trade Deals: Um, yeah, we need to keep paying attention.

It’s All Greek to Me: No?

On the Redditpocalypse: I was beginning to think the place was too big anyway. I have yet to evaluate alternatives.

On with the body count: Our police violence problem has gained international attention.

YSK: Ponzi and pyramid schemes.

Meanwhile: How dare people — particularly young people — want jobs that pay a living wage! Particularly in these 10 states…

An interesting view: On consent.

Lemmings: Well, I suppose inasmuch as illegal immigrants are by definition here illegally, sure. But by that standard, lots of people have “bad intent.”

Finally: Via my old and dear friend Rachel, a misplaced dominant seventh chord was once all it took to land you in jail. Listen for yourself near the bottom.

Music Monday: A Night at the Symphony

This is probably my favorite full symphony composition of all time. And that’s saying something from a lady who loves her some Wolfgang Amadeus (yeah yeah and props to Ludwig Van).

In Closing: some more NSA and privacy follies; student loans; crude; illustration of double standard; embarrassing coincidence; lost Sherlock Holmes story; malls have always been an easy target and I’m not sure why this is news (oh but if you had to go through a TSA checkpoint to go shopping I bet Americans would say enough); a shocking misunderstanding of anatomy; because ads will surely cure you; and amusing alteration of signage.

Bonus Music: Funky!

More here. I particularly like the fact that this wasn’t just a production of the dance team and assorted Pretty People. Yeah, even a Fort Worth girl can appreciate what they did in Dallas.

In Closing: Yay, we’re last; scarfgate debunked; not a fan of Obamacare, but I did come out ahead; all those poor people taking advantage of the law!; not sure what to say; yeah; on moral agency.

Music Monday: Come Out

Here’s a long overdue habit for some people: see others as human beings rather than members of a group of people. Or as one guy put it, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Racism (and sexism) should have gone out of style a generation ago. Yet, somehow or another there are those that think it’s ok to criticize the President’s heritage rather than his policies. There are people who fear or think themselves better than those who are different — bafflingly, often at the same time! This is the 21st Century; time to stop it.

Since each of us is an individual, that means each of us must stop ourselves if we have an unworthy thought before it becomes a despicable action.

In honor of MLK’s birthday, I bring you music from the Civil Rights era. Come Out is an early work of minimalism. I recommend listening in stereo and giving it at least 3 minutes before you decide whether you like it or not. I’m a little disappointed that so little is said about the technique of layering tape recordings that differ ever so slightly in timing.

Fail.

Some years ago, I read a book called the Inner Game of Music. In a manner of speaking, it was about getting out of your own way. Oddly enough, one of the things that stuck with me about this book was a peculiar concept: giving yourself permission to fail. Apparently many people have learned this lesson from many sources.

So yes, it can be a good habit to permit ourselves to fail. And although I am far from the first person to explore the concept, I would like to share why I think it is so.

Paying attention to failure teaches how to succeed. Of course, this only applies when we pay attention, and fail “mindfully.” The truth is that most of us fail a time or two when we are learning something new. One anecdote from the Inner Game of Music relays how when a pair of musicians tried to isolate when their duet went awry, suddenly it was perfect! When we pay attention to how, when, and why we fail, we come up with solutions.

Failure teaches us about ourselves and about reality. How we react to failure can give us insight to who we really are — but again, only if we are willing to pay attention. But more importantly, failure can be the beginning of discovery! Or, as Isaac Asimov put it, “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka’ but ‘That’s funny…'” Consider Alexander Fleming discovering that the “contamination” in his bacterial culture was actually exactly the exact bacteria-killer he’d been looking for. If he hadn’t been willing to learn, he might have thrown away that specimen and never discovered that antibiotic.

Sometimes, our failures fail spectacularly! No, I’m not talking about all those online videos we’ve watched many times of people doing stupid things on skateboards or motorcycles. I’m talking about a failure that turns out for the best. My favorite example occurred in the original Iron Chef series. Chen Kenichi was the chef who specialized in Chinese cuisine (a footnote, his father invented “shrimp in chili sauce”). A French challenger chef decided to take on Kenichi-san rather than the show’s French specialist, perhaps thinking this gave him an advantage. The secret ingredient was yogurt, unused in Chinese cuisine. You can see for yourself: between 8:30 and 9:00 minutes into the video, Kenichi-san gives himself permission to fail. After all, he’s never used this stuff, never even tasted it. But freed from the need to succeed, he experiments and innovates his way into one of his most memorable wins.

There’s nothing wrong with failing now and again, as long as you aren’t doing something colossally dangerous.

In Closing: milk fail; chart fail; vax fail (don’t do this one); wedding fail; jobs report fail; weight loss fail; just, fail; patient confidentiality fail; accidental paleontology win!

Music Monday: Just Drive!

I bet you were wondering how I was going to work habits in, weren’t you?

So, let’s talk about driver safety. Did you know that there are a lot of people out there who still don’t wear seat belts?? If you’re one of them, I know a habit you should be working on. Driving while distracted is a terrible and potentially deadly habit you should break. Finally, let’s be aware that older cars have fewer safety features than newer ones and drive cautiously.

Oh, and probably best not to let your cat drive at all.

Music Monday: Weezer

In Closing: Reading about the people justifying torture can seem like they are torturing the truth; a few police brutality and racism items; common sense may not be common; TPP; she can’t be trusted to make a decision regarding having a baby, but she can somehow be trusted with a baby. Oh, and one last must read commentary.

The truth is, None of Us Can Breathe

So, please mark December 5, 2014 in your calendars. It is the day that I agreed with George W. Bush, when he said the Eric Garner grand jury results were “hard to understand.” Sure, we look at the video and say “how the heck can a cop get away with choking out a man on a sidewalk for a non-violent offense?” If anybody other than a police officer had killed Eric Garner, this case would be a slam dunk.

Instead, the system worked to protect cops at the expense of those they are supposed “to protect and serve,” just as it did in Ferguson. And really, any of us could have been Eric Garner. Any of us could have been the person breaking a minor law and ending up  — more or less — publicly executed. And let’s just face the truth: the odds of that happening are simply higher if you are a person of color. Then, you might get a public execution for picking up a toy gun or some other stupid pretext, or you might end up being kidnapped by cops in your own yard. Furthermore, it would be stupid for me to pretend any longer that the same rules apply equally to both blacks and whites.

One thing that gives me hope is that many people are feeling like they can’t breathe. Like they’d better stand up and do something. And even though a full 1% of our population is either in prison or on probation — think about it, one out of every hundred kids you went to school with, one of every hundred people you ever knew from work, one out of a hundred of everybody who was ever your neighbor, now a criminal — even though that’s true, it’s not the only thing that makes it hard to breathe.

A lot of us understand that freedom is more than not being executed in public, is more than not actually being in prison. It’s not much good to be free if you can’t afford the trappings of liberty: food, a roof over your head, medical care when you need it, little picky things like that. And sure, we had some very good employment data yesterday! There are more jobs, more jobs in more different industries, fewer unemployed people. All those are good things. However, median weekly wage is still within a few bucks of where it was in 2007, a shade under $800. Have your expenses gone up since 2007? Mine have. Take a look at the rest of those charts. Somehow, long term unemployment is down, but labor force participation is also down. Isn’t that interesting.

So yeah, the middle class can’t get ahead. People below the middle class aren’t even doing that well. And even though there is evidence that higher wages wouldn’t cause corporate profits to collapse, there are people who consider wage growth to be a problem. Yeah. It’s a real problem when people can work their way out of poverty instead of deeper into it; you might have to treat them like human beings.

In a very large nutshell, there’s laundry list of reasons why “I can’t breathe” resonates more than “Hands up, don’t shoot” ever could.

 

Uber Alles: I’ve given up trying to write something about that not-cab company that thinks it is above the law (maybe that’s how they came up with the name?). They didn’t bother to actually suspend operations until a couple days after the judge said stop it, and then they whined about how this cost Nevada 1000 [part time, contractor, no benefits, oh yeah and provide your own car] jobs.  I’ve already been shouted down about how I don’t know what I’m talking about, and yet a Nevada judge used many thoughts similar to mine in his ruling: there’s no promise that Uber drivers can be held to the same public safety standards as cab drivers (commercial level insurance, DOT physicals, ongoing vehicle maintenance/condition).

In Closing: alert the media, give a kid a job and he’s less likely to become a crook; literary words; a car, a car, my kingdom for a car; which big cat are you?; diet; circumcision; Democrats.

You can’t breathe either? Here’s some music for you.