Daily GUIDE-ance:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I've been rereading The Salmon of Doubt, a collection of Douglas Adams's writings published after he died. (BTW, I recently tried watching the television version of The Guide. I felt I owed it to Douglas Adams to try. I made it through two episodes. When it's that low, can your really still call it a budget?)

One of the last segments in this book is a lament for Douglas Adams by his friend, the biologist and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins. In it he shares a parable Douglas once made up about a man who believes that his television is inhabited by tiny people, living tiny sitcomish lives, competing in miniature sporting events, and bitsy reality or talk shows, all for his viewing pleasure. And engineer explains to the man about electricity and cathode ray tubes, transmission and receivers, etc. The man listens carefully to the engineer, agreeing with each step of the argument, and in the end the man says that now he is satisfied, and that he finaly understands how television really works.

Then Adams's punchline: "But I expect there really are just a few little men in there."

An equally valid punchline could have been: "Well, that proves it: Oprah is imaginary!"

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Below, John rants about politics and apologizes for it:

I hate Obama. No point in making a secret of it. I can't stand him. Personality-wise I find him smug, ignorant, arrogant, egotistical, obnoxious, stilted, awkward, trite, effeminate, impotent, and terminally predictable. He's a loud mouthed bore.

Philosophically?... Maybe the best way to put this is to say that his personality seems to be a derivation and extension of his philosophy.

I read the full text of his jobs speech. Here's some reaction:

"The agreement we passed in July will cut government spending by about $1 trillion over the next ten years. It also charges this Congress to come up with an additional $1.5 trillion in savings by Christmas. Tonight, I’m asking you to increase that amount so that it covers the full cost of the American Jobs Act. "

Ah. So we don't have the money to pay for your plan. And you want Congress to find some for you. How is this a plan!? Shouldn't how you are going to get the money be at least as important to your plan as how to you are going to spend the money? You have an incredibly detailed plot of how to spend the money but only "I'm asking you to cover the full cost of the American Jobs Act" for a plan on getting the money? What a complete waste of space.

"In fact, this larger notion that the only thing we can do to restore prosperity is just dismantle government, refund everyone’s money, let everyone write their own rules, and tell everyone they’re on their own – that’s not who we are. That’s not the story of America. "

Er? Heck yes, I wish you would do exactly that! Refund my money. Back the freak off. Get out of my face. Dismantle Obama 'care'. LEAVE ME ALONE.

"How many jobs would it have cost us if past Congresses decided not to support the basic research that led to the Internet and the computer chip? What kind of country would this be if this Chamber had voted down Social Security or Medicare just because it violated some rigid idea about what government could or could not do? How many Americans would have suffered as a result? "

Yeah. We'd never have come up with computers or the Internet without Big Brother. Nobody but career politicians and bureaucrats would ever have the daring or foresight to invest in this technology on their own.

And geesh. Where would we be without Social Security? Oh yeah. That's exactly where I am going to be, come retirement. Only poorer. Every shrewd investor in my generation knows Social Security is totally solid.

Sorry about ranting about politics! I can't tell you how weird the 2008 election was to me. I mean sometimes, I have a hard time relating to other humans. The TV, the magazine headlines at the grocery check out, most movies, professional sports, everyone's obsession with beer, all seem to me like artifacts from an alien culture. I just can't get behind the mindset that apparently drives Joe Walmart. But usually I get along well enough by reminding myself that we can't ALL be super geniuses, and piously forcing myself to be charitable. (Until they are out of earshot that is. Then I howl unspeakably rude things and cackle madly at my own wit under my breath.) In short, I have mostly come to terms with having a significantly different (smarter!) drummer than regular people.

But not THAT much smarter. 2008 just about convinced my that I really don't belong on this planet. More than half the people voted for this crackhead ?!?!? It was and still is mindblowing to me. And since then, I pretty much quit bothering about politics in disgust. But now that the obvious has been painfully demonstrated with 3 years or so's worth of dramatic failure... I feel like maybe it might not be a total waste of my time and energy to talk about it again.