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?


Colonial Williamsburg

I realize the postings have been scarce as of late, but that’s due to a lengthy bathroom renovation, which will in itself constitute a lengthy post once complete.  But for now, I’ll highlight our recent vacation–the modern equivalent of a suburban slideshow:

But first, some background.  As in, why would we decide to go to Williamsburg, VA?  I will tell you: it was a timeshare arrangement through one of Liz’s colleagues.  And no, we didn’t buy a timeshare.  The time slot was gifted to us.

After perusing a list of available locations, Williamsburg won out.  Partially because we hadn’t been there before, partially because it was within road trip distance for the spring break week.  And I think we’ve all had enough Florida to last us a while.  And, like, history and stuff!

I’m not certain why Virginia is for lovers.  And as we had the kid with us, there wasn’t an opportunity for Liz and I to figure that bit of local culture out for ourselves.  I did notice that there were a lot of pull-offs with nice views, so I guess there’s a high potential for 50s-esque Lovers’ Lanes, if that’s still a thing.

For example, take this Greenwood-Afton Rural Historic District view:

According to the sign, it’s the lowest passage through the Blue Ridge Mountains, so due to transportation implications, it’s an old town.  Makes sense.  Lover’s Lane indeed, had we loitered there too long and I started discussing infrastructure and logistics with Liz.

And speaking of infrastructure, check out the George P Coleman Memorial Bridge in Yorktown.  Bridges!:

The next day, we got to see a naval vessel pass under it:

It was later moored up at the Naval Weapons Station further up the York river:

Okay, enough of the ship.  Local history time!

For those not in the loop, Colonial America had some disagreements with the British.  The particular incident at this spot in Yorktown involved an American and French siege of Admiral Nelson’s forces.  The British were defeated in the engagement, and as victors tend to do, a phallus of triumph was then later erected to immortalize the event.  In this case, the Yorktown Victory Monument.

A museum at the battlefield itself has George Washington’s original tent too, which gets the place legit coolness points:

The original fortifications were mostly fenced off, but some sections were open.  Here I am making the kid appreciate the effort required to storm the lines:

And here we are enjoying some local seafood, as is mandatory when visiting the coast.  They were very big on the oysters there, sporting varieties from all the major river inlets.  I had never had a sampling like that before, and sure enough, they did all taste a little different.  I also remember getting food poisoning the first time I ever ate them, but thought that would be an isolated occurrence.  I was wrong.  That night was mighty unpleasant.

The old man joined us for a couple days.  His sister and that part of the clan live nearby–a happy accident as we didn’t figure that out prior to booking.  It made an excuse to meet up and visit some touristy local shops along the waterfront while the kids ran around, though they didn’t fancy my idea of visiting The Great Dismal Swamp.  For reference, the last time we spent time with them, Liz became known as “outdoorsy”, so they’re not exactly the type to venture too far from civilization.

We never did make it to the swamp, partially on account of my oyster problems, partially due to the distance.  Instead, we chose a venue with less walking and more toilets: the Virginia Living Museum, an indoor/outdoor mini zoo and aquarium that highlighted local biology.

But the ultimate goal was Jamestown.  No history lesson needed there.  That was simply a checkbox item for while we were in the area.

Except we didn’t realize Jamestown Settlement and Historic Jamestown were different attractions.  We ended up at the former, which was a museum with an outdoor settlement re-creation complete with replicas of the original ships.

Still cool though.

More history that night followed with a Williamsburg ghost tour.  The history kind–not the try to find evidence of the flatulent supernatural kind, to be clear.  Turns out the kid really likes a compelling narrative.

We still made it to Jamestown, Historic Jamestown, on our final day, which included its own museum too.  You’d think they’d combine some of these, except their ownership varied.  Quite a racket with those tickets.  But, as with Virginia’s roads having tolls, inadequate funding requires passing the bill to someone, and I’m familiar with Ohio roads and museums, so fine–I’ll pay.

True to form, there was another victory phallus, this one to commemorate the first “successful” English settlement in the Americas.  All it took was the mass importation of unskilled colonists until some of them finally survived.  Okay that’s a bit cynical, but after days of reading the history, that’s essentially what happened.

When the seat of government moved further inland, the fort was abandoned.  I guess they weren’t too keen on preserving a place with that many buried bodies.  Then it was assumed that the James river eroded the original land, but excavation later revealed the palisade post holes, which were used in the rebuilding.  So the current fence is exactly where it was originally, with only a corner having been lost to the river.  Damn cool to me.  Also unsettling at how small the place was.

A path circled the local area, with all the old housing foundations.  The road to the rest of the island was closed however, so we were denied the scenic tour.  A lot of things were closed, presumably due to the pandemic.  Oh well.  We got to visit the fort.  So concluded the Virginia trip.

Except for a small detour coming home.  I wanted to see the New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia, because bridges and infrastructure and such!  Well, mostly because it’s just an iconic Americana image, and we didn’t have to deviate too far to see it.

Liz declined to take the scenic boardwalk down the full 876 feet.  There are limits to her outdoorsy-ness.

The kid also seemed done with vacation, so I’ll conclude here with a picture of her unamused vacation face against the bridge backdrop:

Vacation 2022 done.  We missed 2 years because of the pandemic.  Hopefully we can still do a few more of these.