Legislation and Compromise

It’s no surprise that here in America, land of the two party political system, much of our legislation is based on simplified dichotomy.  The “us or them” mentality makes identifying threats easier, as we don’t have to waste our precious brain power on trivialities such as long-term consequences; be it financial (Social Security) or environmental (climate change); letting us preserve it instead for more important matters like my fantasy football picks.

There are of course some who over-analyze issues, but you don’t hear much from them because instead of shouting over presumed injustices on the internet, they’re instead locked into quiet introspection.  They might join the online community occasionally, but as their input is based in logic rather than emotion, it’s uninteresting to read.

So defines Premise 1: the loudest people, whether digitally or corporeally, represent those of the most extreme opinions.

However, in order for a technologically-modern large society to exist, the laws of such a society must still seek a general compromise, else all will devolve to total collapse or dystopia (which always leads to a later collapse once the orgies and drugs run out).

Ergo Premise 2: the correct form of legislation is that which lies between the extremes, if the goal is societal preservation.

And here are two recent policy events to drive the point:

  1. Permitless concealed carry of firearms in Ohio.
  2. Rowe v. Wade.

Everyone legally allowed to possess a firearm in Ohio can now carry that firearm concealed without needing to first acquire a permit.  Constitutional open carry is of course already allowed, so this will remove ambiguity when interacting with law enforcement, eliminating a potential felony charge fabricated by our not-so-popular police force, and removing the individual interpretation over personal rights.  Win for the Left, right?

Well no, because it reduced restrictions on guns and any such loosening of gun restrictions is bad.

Okay, well what about the Right then?  Any restrictions on guns is encroaching on constitutional rights–don’t tread on me and such–, so this is good, right?

Nope.  The Right’s mad because it let more people into their club without having to pay.

Conclusion: no one’s happy.

Rowe v. Wade established abortion limitations and guarantees, preventing local legislation from banning it outright, but also restricting allowable timeframes and conditions.  So a state couldn’t prevent an abortion in the early stages, but they could limit later stage abortions to consider the mother’s health, and late stage abortions were more or less prohibited as at this point there was an ethical obligation to carry the child to term.  The Left was happy, since abortion access was now guaranteed.

No, they weren’t.  These were still laws on a woman’s body, and any such laws are a violation of an individual’s autonomy.

And of course the Right wasn’t happy, because any abortion is murder and therefore wrong.

Conclusion: no one’s happy.

In these two examples, no one’s happy.  But since “no one” represents only the extremists (Premise 1), then what they are are truly moderate policies.  And moderate policies, being compromises, are requirements for societal health and longevity–preservation (Premise 2).

Therefore, these two policies, one accused of Right-wing agenda and the other Left, are in fact neither, and good policy decisions.

(The repeal of Rowe v. Wade was neither moderate nor of benefit to society, as it violates this principle.)

And there you have it: my commentary on contemporary political issues, which includes my thoughts on the policies, without actually including my personal beliefs.  Do I feel either of these is wrong?  I’ll never tell, and you shouldn’t know, because that’s the wrong way to govern large populations.


Demographic Swapping

I worry that as I age I become a little too right of center.  I started out pretty far left, then as a younger professional I leaned moderate.  And now, as I approach middle age, I’m starting to have some unsettling dissonance as the boat tips starboard.

Cognitive dissonance, that is–the concept of having to rationalize one’s thoughts and actions so as to avoid an aneurysm when those thoughts and actions threaten the identity and worth of the self.

And part of identity is demographic.

So it stands that I feel a little twinge of ire for the general accusation of the irrelevancy of white man.


I wrote previously about the Bechdel Test, and gave it its due credit, but found it too concise for a more thorough look at the evolution female characters in media.  I offered some more in-depth analysis, and concluded that the problem was essentially introducing female characters for no other reason than to have female characters (a similar conclusion).

When the character itself lacked depth, then the character distilled down to a simple juxtaposition of gender: in other words, she exists simply to avoid having another male character.  But when the character had proper depth, gender became far less relevant.  So if you create a character in a position of power and authority who’s believable as a person, then gender isn’t important.  If you fail in this task and cast a female in this same position just for that sake alone, then it’s painfully obvious.

No really, check out that post for some examples:

Femme Credibilius

Checking demographic boxes off the list doesn’t make your product a celebration of diversity.  It’s a lazy attempt–pandering to a larger audience for your own gain, and insulting to everyone.

And it’s getting worse.

Now we’ve moved from simply failing to represent women by creating good female characters, to attempting to represent them by swapping the demographic of an already existent character that’s been previously developed out.

And now that’s been extended to race.

And this is being done in franchises that already have demographic diversity.

In the latest Dune movie attempt. Liet Kynes, Chani’s father, is now a woman.  No explanation.  There’s the Reverend Mother, Jessica, Chani, Irulan, Alia, and later that girl who could control worms or something, not to mention the entire Bene Gesserit and Honored Matres sisterhoods.  There is already a large selection of important and powerful female characters.  If you wanted more female power, their influence could be adjusted a little with creative license for the movies.  But to take a minor character and inexplicably change the gender just to add one more?

And from what I’ve seen so far of the Halo TV series adaptation, the Keyes are now black.  They didn’t turn Locke white, or Halsey male.  No, their demographics remained untouched.  They just reduced whiteness/maleness…a little.  To keep it from becoming too prominent I guess.

My point is that this isn’t a zero-sum game.  You don’t have to rob one demographic to give a consolation prize to another.  Rather than change canon, you could just flesh out more and better characters across broad demographics.  That would actually celebrate human differences without implying that there’s too much of one or that one is better than another.

Shouldn’t that be the real goal?


Let’s Get Ready to Roomba!

Appliances are the servants of the masses.

How badly can that Marx quote be parodied?

Still, it’s a relevant modern take.  Appliances, created to save labor, instead become the baseline expectation.  And while they may start as a luxury for the elite, they’re soon reduced in cost and made accessible to all.  They may save labor, but do they really save us any time?  Once everyone has them, they’re no longer life hacks.  Appliances don’t give us leisure, they just provide more time with which we’re expected to do more productive tasks.  And spend more money on the appliances’ maintenance.

But for that brief period of novelty, they’re great.

I had long considered robovacs to be a novelty, for how effective could they really be?  I distinctly remember the useless Dustbuster my mother had in the kitchen–designed to quickly and cordlessly clean up isolated crumbs.  And I also remember picking the crumbs up by hand and dropping them into the unit, because it lacked the power to do anything close to vacuuming, and manually removing the debris was simpler.  And of course there was the spite factor, because mom made me use the stupid thing, and I knew those crumbs would fall out the moment she went to use it herself.

The point: battery-powered devices were simply underpowered in the 90s.

But last year a Dyson cordless was gifted, and with it the realization that technology had indeed reached the point where battery appliances were now effective, provided the user had patience with charging times.

And so, with daily sweeping required in our house due to the dog situation, and some nice Amazon gift cards in my possession, why not?

Sebastian 1.0 does a better job than I expected.  He’s sadly impervious to verbal beratement, unlike my future baby-boomer-who-can’t-retire-because-he-never-saved-for-retirement-and-social-security-went-bankrupt-Sebastian-butler/manservant, but on the other hand he’s a lot cuter.

He even drew a up a nice map to provide as a progress report.  Well done, Sebastian!  Take the rest of the day off.

Perhaps robots are the new proletariat, at least until they rise up as one and slay us.  But such would be the necessary end to any exploitative social system.  For now, they save us labor, for better or worse.  For now, they serve us.  For now, they help us maintain our superiority.  And while one day the status quo may violently crumble, when the appliances upon which we depend withdraw their labor and we’re left with little time to ponder such thoughts; I shall at least for now have very clean floors.