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Undefining politics
polydad
It's 1:22am, I'm up, might as well try to do something useful.

Yesterday I went to the annual Pacific Green Party convention with Brian. Was a waste of time; these terribly well-intentioned people are as clueless as they are well-intentioned, and, like most humans, single-mindedly dedicated to preserving their delusions. I don't have the time or personal resources to play therapist to them.

After that, we went to the DSA Electoral special-interest group, which was better. The DSA has changed a lot since I checked 'em out for the second time about 4 years ago; they've stopped obsessing on defining 'socialism' and started focusing on working on the *practice* of it, which is something we-as-a-nation are deeply and seriously in need of.

There's a piece of serious work that wants me to do it, which is devising, defining, and publicizing a replacement for the concept 'socialism'. Too much of the concept has gotten tied up in the "sports-team" model of politics, where the entire focus of each major political party is on "The *other* party are Bad Guys, and we are not them, so we must be the Good Guys!", and the Socialists are defined as league expansionists, who agree with the underlying schema but want their own bit of turf in the battle. This is what turned Grandpa Fred off them in the 1920's; they didn't want to *eliminate* authoritarianism, they (Mensheviks) just wanted their own turn on the top of the pile. Still not good for those stuck further down in the pile.

By focusing on *practice*, the current, roughly 2-year-old iteration of the DSA is doing a much better job of focusing on having government work for the public good, which I appreciate. Minor irritation in that the 'big tent' policy still leaves room in that tent for the hard-core Marxists, who are the biggest proponents of keeping the Team Sports model as the core of political revolution/reform. They want their turn as autocrat, too!

I'm not doing that work today, even tho' it keeps chewing on my ankle. It's a subset of a larger work, which includes Brian's Presidential campaign, my Para and Schmoo ficton, and my theory work on Positive Proxy. What I'm trying to do is bring that down to the level of "What do I do *today*?" so I can resume focus and get something useful done.

I've run myself out of attention span for the moment; I'll see if I can chase down a few more Z's and get back to this.

Stuffed Squash
polydad
Filling tasted pretty good; now to see how the final product turns out.

About a pint of Barley
Maybe half a pound each of three kinds of mushrooms, chopped coarsely, mixed with a medium-coarse chopped onion and a heaping teaspoonful of chopped garlic and browned
Two different soup stocks
A can of chopped tomatoes
Cashews
Grated ginger
Cinnamon
Salt & pepper
Half a cup of rose
About a cup of chopped prunes
A cup of eggnog that didn't get out of the way fast enough

If I had 'em handy, after tasting I'd have loved to have added a cup or two of finely-chopped celery, a bell pepper or two, a couple of habaneros, and some fresh herbs. *shrug* Not bad anyway.

Just got done stuffing it all into two Delicata, one Butternut, and a medium-sized sugar pumpkin, and sprinkling some seasoned breadcrumbs over the top. Now for an hour at 350F and find out how it turns out.

*Focus*, dammit.
polydad
I'm writing for my usual reasons; I have things I need to be doing and I can't focus on doing them. Maybe writing why might help.

During high school, I only had one part-time job. Not because I didn't want more money, but I was the one taking care of a lot of the "dying generation" -- great-aunts and uncles in their late 70s who were in the process of dying out.

Most of 'em had numbers tattooed on their arms. Tattoos are common now; this probably doesn't mean anything to you. What it means is that they had been concentration-camp inmates. Jews don't have ten commandments, we have 613, and one of 'em is "no body mods," so of course the Nazis hit on that as their way of identifying prisoners and humiliating them at the same time. And in the mid-1970s, laser tattoo removal either hadn't yet been devised or hadn't been well-publicized; I just know *I'd* never heard of it.

One of the things I learned from the older generation was that there are three responses to Nazis: Shoot. Run. Or shoot and *then* run. This was reinforced by reading a biography of Gandhi, in which he was quoted as saying that militant nonviolence worked with the British, because they had active consciences, but wouldn't've work with the Germans.

I've been dismissed from the Democratic Socialists Information Security committee, because the chair doesn't think I'm radical enough. But I'm still on the texting-list, and they'll be sending 3 "security people" (de-escalation training only) to an internal informational meeting that the Proud Boys, a neonazi group, has called for an action against.

Nazis in Portland. Who'da thunk? What do I do? Stay away, or "just happen" to be walking down the right street at the right time carrying a stick? The police have already been informed, and have commented that this doesn't seem to them like sufficient reason to become alarmed. That's the fascist pattern; when *we're* getting hit, there's no reason for alarm. If we hit *back*, suddenly it's a riot and the tear gas and batons come out. Same thing we did to the blacks in Mississippi in '64, for a value of "we" I'd prefer not to think too deeply about.

So for a week from Tuesday I can either take a walk with a stick or stay home and do nothing. Is it time for me to go take an extended visit to my brother in New Zealand? I don't think so, but it's starting to get close.

The other thing going on is I'm trying to do a paper on the Commerce Department. In one incarnation or another it's been around since 1785, so there's a truly massive amount of bureaucratic inertia going on there. Having the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under that umbrella made sense when sail was the major mode of transport, but you may have noticed we haven't been doing that for a while. But the NOAA is still there.

That's silly, but largely benign. OK, we've needed a Department of Science, Research and Technology (where NOAA belongs) since I was a kid, but continued bureaucratic inaction is just what bureaucracies *do*. But the Department of Commerce would be better named the Department of Business Welfare, as most of what they do is give away huge chunks of money to businessmen, with very little of that silly "prove you need it" shit that poor people have to go through.

So, yeah. We can't give inner-city school kids a lunch program, but we can give millions to billionaires because they claim they can make more millions with the seed-money.

I'm a "warrior" only when fascists are trying to shame people by calling them "social justice warriors", a label I accept with pride. In the real world, I'm a 62-year-old cardiac patient who had some martial arts training 40 years ago. I may have to go try to save the asses of some of my young friends who think they can talk Nazis out of beating on them, and I'm researching the government I once thought existed to help me and it's looking grimmer and grimmer the deeper I get into the details. Makes it kind of hard to get my homework done.

Maybe next I can use y'all as a sympathetic audience to do homework in front of. Would be a lot more constructive than what I've *been* doing.

...not Causation
polydad
I’ve heard a recently oft-quoted statistic that no nation can stand when 3.5% or more of its population is in active resistance to its government. I call bullshit.Collapse )

Stuffed Peppers
polydad
This is more a philosophy than a recipe at this point, but I do hope to get it there.

Brown a bunch of mushrooms and onion together; brown some ground beef separately. Drain each. Boil some grain at the same time; I used quinoa, but rice would have been better. Also boil some raisins and cashews in bourbon.

Combine all the above along with some tomato paste, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper. Stuff it all in the peppers, and bake 'em for half an hour.

I've been eating the results for 3 meals in a row, now, and I'm not tired of it yet.

Crystal Ball. Well, OK, marble.
polydad
So here’s my optimistic scenario for American politics over the next two years:Collapse )

Well, *that* was fun.
polydad
Back from a week in LA helping my 86 year old Dad move in with his girlfriend. They have a nice two-bedroom condo in Redondo Beach, and while the rent was not mentioned this is probably saving them at least nine grand between them over what the "assisted living" facility was overcharging them. And Dad gets his ocean view back, which for reasons I will probably never understand is important to him. (He *hates* going in the water, or on it in anything smaller than a cruise ship.)

I got the public version of girlfriend Carole's history. Dead husband Tony was a "factor", which she described as a debt collector. The combination of that, her incessant praise of all things Italian and especially Sicilian, and her description of him as a large and immensely powerful man, who retired from the business immediately after a bad auto accident crippled him, suggests to me that he was a mob enforcer, which would make him the only mob guy I've heard of getting out on a medical. It would be difficult to be terrifying on crutches, I have to admit.

She has seven kids, Anthony and Tom living nearby in other parts of LA, Karen and Suzy living in Seattle, Michael and David living in Maryland, and Deborah being several years dead, nominally from diabetes but practically from simply not ever taking care of her body.

And there's a lot more detail I won't bother describing here. She fills the air with noise, more often happy than not, and I get the impression she's never actually had anyone *listen* before. Murray's *hearing* is terrible, but his *listening* has never been anything less than fantastic.

This morning I met with Brian and Patrick, the former running for President in 2020 and the latter for Governor in November. After Patrick loses in November (he's not even a potential "spoiler"; despite all his earnest running around he's unlikely to get more than a couple percent of the vote) I hope to persuade him to run in 2020 for a lesser office -- not sure which one, yet. State Senator and State Rep. both come to mind; he's more interested in State than Federal politics, regardless of how much we could use a new Congressman from that district.

And it is suddenly bedtime; more on that in the morning, I hope.

*sigh* Adding another one to the stack.
polydad
"Breaking the Scale". About what happens to human judgment when the scales upon which judgment occurs exceed human capacities. Case example: Mom's old "Save your tears until they're useful," when the standards *her* Mom provided were based on escaping the holocaust, meaning no discomfort is worth acknowledging unless more people than I'm ever going to meet are going to die as a result. Contrast: Hypochondria.

Regaining balance
polydad
At my peak, in '99, I worked best balancing 5 projects. I could dart around between them, keeping all the plates spinning up to speed, and put in some concentrated focus on one and get back to the other 4 before they slowed down too much to avoid falling.

This week I tried to go from 2 to 3, and I'm not sure, but I seem to have crashed. Not the plates, me.

Let's try that again, and see if I can make it work.

I start with Solarpunk, which is the idea that we can have our rosy, optimistic, positive technological future *now*, starting from the real world we currently live in. An ethos without an instance is a vacuous abstraction, so we need a project to demonstrate it with. So I pulled the Arcology out of my ass, and mapped it to all the current civic problems in Portland, any or all of which it could be used as a tool to resolve.

That's one. Two is the Para and Schmoo ficton, which I devised as a fiction tool to provide an example of what both living in the Arcology and participating in a positive-proxy political system. It's set in 2035, so as to give the audience a stake in participating in it. I have the option of moving that a bit to give myself some more room, but I'd drive a stake in the sand at 2050. I'll be 93 then, which I do reasonably hope to achieve.

Three is Brian Abel's campaign to be President of the US. You've never heard of him, and unless I can do a much better job of lighting a fire under his ass you never will. He wants to run as a Green candidate, which is effectively the gadfly turf of Jill Stein and Ralph Nader. Brian basically read the Green party platform, said "Sounds good to me," and tossed his hat in the ring. I can *bring* him to the point of creating a political philosophy and running with it, even getting through the primaries and running in the actual election -- but it's going to be a long haul, and we don't have much time.

What caused me to drop all my plates was in trying to fit Brian's presidency into Para's timeline. In 2020, the Democrats could run a baboon and it'd win, so the best Brian is likely to manage is getting to score a few electoral votes, and even that's a stretch. But Para and Schmoo is a work of fiction, so I can include eight years of President Abel in it if I can figure out how. So I asked Brian, and he was no help whatsoever.

Now to regain my balance.

No more alarm clock.
polydad
So as said last post ago my only source of ongoing contact is playing alarm clock for my thirty-year-old bio-son. And now I've had enough of *his* abuse and have told him I'm not doing that any more.

We'll still have our 6am (9 his time) scrum, until he gets offended at that too. But since he's absolutely convinced that any attempt at humor is an attempt to make fun of him, that'll be either today or tomorrow.

Which means I've got nothing. Let's see what I can do with it.

Wrong kind of organizing.
polydad
So today I went to an organizing workshop. What the title neglected to state was that it was a *labor*-organizing workshop, which is a far more limited seminar than I was looking for. Made several good contacts anyway, and have followed up with 2 of them.

The core of the idea is that "organizing" means "building contacts." So, talk with people. And most of the rest of the content was on how to hold conversations without being a self-serving jackass. This is a very good idea, but I was hoping for something a little bit less-obvious and more involved.

Brain? Where are you, brain?
polydad
Okay, the coffee's helping.

Very often lately, or so it seems, I've turned to writing here as a centering tool, trying to find which universe I'm in and adapt myself to working in it. Haredi Jews have a prayer for every situation for similar purpose, but I'm not Haredi and only culturally Jewish (and my Hebrew has lapsed to the "effo bet shamush?" level, i.e., "Where's the bathroom?"), so I need to find a different solution.

Hmm. Pick some favorite songs to listen to on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9q5Sbj3km4 for a start, and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U05f60wipag.

Brain full, need to unload
polydad
OK, I've attended one event and sent out 3 letters so far today. And had an excellent nap. So what am I going to do about the remaining 9 letters on the list?Collapse )

Successful Failure
polydad
I've never been so pleased to throw away work.

I posted this morning about my distraction. Then I went and wrote out a proposal, and it was awful. It *really* stunk.

And then I threw it away and started over. Only got a few paragraphs start, but now it's a good start and I can do something with it. And if I hadn't written my previous pile of dreck I wouldn't have been able to.

So yay for successful failure, and on with the project!

Spleen, world. World, spleen. Now play nice.
polydad
I've got a grant proposal to write. The first question on the form is "What's your website?" so I need to create a website for the project. Fine, I started writing. And I find myself continually distracted by the inabilities of the people around me to recognize simple and straightforward *evil* when they trip over it.

We have in the United States two political parties, the Party of Malevolence, currently in power, and the Party of Incompetence, busily waiting for them to fall out of it. We're trapped between Bumblefuck and Murderthug.

What we are suffering from is poor storytelling. Look at the whole Marvel cinematic universe for a case example. There are two teams, the Good Guys and the Bad Guys, and the Good guys will always win and the bad guys will always lose and that's it. As a culture we've learned that winning makes you good, so if you won you must be good, never mind how many innocents you slaughtered in the process.

Yeah, OK, recently they've backed off from that a bit and made effort to Save The Innocents. But at this point that entire genre has gone so far off the Suspenders of Disbelief that it doesn't matter any more. The Bad Guys will always score just enough hits to allow the defending Good Guys to work up a good head of Righteous Indignation, whereupon they throw physics out the window, dial up the super-powers to about 25 or so (even those heros who don't *have* any), and engage in some righteous ass-whooping. The righteous ass-whooping is the orgasm of the story, and all the rest of it is just window-dressing setting up the stage for it.

Damn, there's too much going on here for me to keep hold of it. We can end the positive feedback loop and get back to telling better stories by focusing on building rather than fighting. In a fight, everybody loses, it's just that some folks lose a little less than other folks. If we build something, the project is the story, and its coming into existence is the success, and it leaves us richer by one whatever-the-fuck-it-is.

It will almost certainly be necessary to remove some of these malignant boils from our species. Rather than indulge our sadistic impulses, we should simply end them as quickly and expediently as possible, redistribute all the resources they have managed to sequester, and move on. Gloating is actively counterproductive, no matter how good it feels. We don't want to glory in the defeat of our enemies, we want to get back to making something beautiful.

So the evil that we're tripping over is that we've been subsumed by the sports-game mentality. Playing games is fine, it's fun, and it only becomes a problem when we start mistaking games for life. The model is not the thing. We need to look at what *surrounds* the simulation and not get bogged down in doing ever-better simulating. We're already *too good* at lying to ourselves.So since Thursday I've bought and installed a second, bar-sized (3.3 cu. ft.) refrigerator, put a couple of bread-boxes in the corner, and hung a big hanging basket next to the new fridge. I've also gotten some trays to put the spices on, tho' one of the tray needs legs so it can go above the other tray, and I'm not done with that part yet. (Bought steel bar-stock, bent it to shape, drilled holes in 'em for mounting, and drilled 'em too small. And my arm is too tired to drill 'em out wider for at least the next two or three hours.)

Place looks vastly better. Liam has already started ignoring the new changes and dumping his purchases on the counter, and I've already nagged him about it. We'll see how long *that* continues.

Spleen, world. World, spleen. Now play nice.
polydad
I've got a grant proposal to write. The first question on the form is "What's your website?" so I need to create a website for the project. Fine, I started writing. And I find myself continually distracted by the inabilities of the people around me to recognize simple and straightforward *evil* when they trip over it.

We have in the United States two political parties, the Party of Malevolence, currently in power, and the Party of Incompetence, busily waiting for them to fall out of it. We're trapped between Bumblefuck and Murderthug.

What we are suffering from is poor storytelling. Look at the whole Marvel cinematic universe for a case example. There are two teams, the Good Guys and the Bad Guys, and the Good guys will always win and the bad guys will always lose and that's it. As a culture we've learned that winning makes you good, so if you won you must be good, never mind how many innocents you slaughtered in the process.

Yeah, OK, recently they've backed off from that a bit and made effort to Save The Innocents. But at this point that entire genre has gone so far off the Suspenders of Disbelief that it doesn't matter any more. The Bad Guys will always score just enough hits to allow the defending Good Guys to work up a good head of Righteous Indignation, whereupon they throw physics out the window, dial up the super-powers to about 25 or so (even those heros who don't *have* any), and engage in some righteous ass-whooping. The righteous ass-whooping is the orgasm of the story, and all the rest of it is just window-dressing setting up the stage for it.

Damn, there's too much going on here for me to keep hold of it. We can end the positive feedback loop and get back to telling better stories by focusing on building rather than fighting. In a fight, everybody loses, it's just that some folks lose a little less than other folks. If we build something, the project is the story, and its coming into existence is the success, and it leaves us richer by one whatever-the-fuck-it-is.

It will almost certainly be necessary to remove some of these malignant boils from our species. Rather than indulge our sadistic impulses, we should simply end them as quickly and expediently as possible, redistribute all the resources they have managed to sequester, and move on. Gloating is actively counterproductive, no matter how good it feels. We don't want to glory in the defeat of our enemies, we want to get back to making something beautiful.

So the evil that we're tripping over is that we've been subsumed by the sports-game mentality. Playing games is fine, it's fun, and it only becomes a problem when we start mistaking games for life. The model is not the thing. We need to look at what *surrounds* the simulation and not get bogged down in doing ever-better simulating. We're already *too good* at lying to ourselves.So since Thursday I've bought and installed a second, bar-sized (3.3 cu. ft.) refrigerator, put a couple of bread-boxes in the corner, and hung a big hanging basket next to the new fridge. I've also gotten some trays to put the spices on, tho' one of the tray needs legs so it can go above the other tray, and I'm not done with that part yet. (Bought steel bar-stock, bent it to shape, drilled holes in 'em for mounting, and drilled 'em too small. And my arm is too tired to drill 'em out wider for at least the next two or three hours.)

Place looks vastly better. Liam has already started ignoring the new changes and dumping his purchases on the counter, and I've already nagged him about it. We'll see how long *that* continues.

Pass me the idiot hat
polydad
...So I got the idea to put all the spices on the top shelf of one of the lower cabinets. On trays, so they could be stacked. Didn't work well; kept knocking over the bottles on the lower tray. So, solution: Put legs on the upper tray so it wouldn't hit the lower bottles.

The trays are 20"x14", so I got two 3' long steel bars to form legs with. And then I formed them for the 20" side instead of the 14" side, and now have to un-bend the bars and re-bend 'em.

Oops.

Oblique progress
polydad
I didn't get most of my list done today, and I still feel great about it.

Met with Brian at 8am, and he brought his wife and friend Randy with him. After we spent a couple of hours discussing his (non-)campaign, we went back to my place and I gave him about a quarter of the stuff in the driveway I'm still trying to get rid of. And then he gave me a ride to and from the resale store to pick up the breadboxes I bought on Monday.

And then the new mini-fridge arrived, and I rearranged and cleaned the kitchen. And then made dinner for Garrett and Darius, altho' Garrett was a no-show, which seems to be a pattern with him.

Tomorrow I want to swap the big hanging basket in my bedroom for the little one, and hang the big one in the kitchen. And then mop all the moppable floors. And then it's time to get back to writing Para and Schmoo.

Yay, progress!

Busy bee
polydad
Zoomed right down my list today. One logistics phone call, confirmed by email, two contact follow-up emails, purged the fridge, went food-shopping, and set up an eggplant parmesan for dinner. Two things left on the list: Swap out the large hanging basket in my bedroom for the small one, so that tomorrow I can put up the large one in the kitchen, and go to a Bus Project event.

Nokea
polydad
I'm not going to Ikea any more. I can't really point to the reason(s?) being in the store is so unpleasant, but it is and the unpleasantness is not worth either the occasional bargain or the reasonably decent meatballs.

Overloaded brain, please reboot
polydad
Okay, I'm now working on a 2020 Presdidential campaign.Collapse )

Para development
polydad
Can I get some suggestions and questions?Collapse )

Welcome to oh-dark-thirty
polydad
Tried going out of the house yesterday. Went to Food not Bombs, which was good, but going out at all in this heat was a mistake...Collapse )

Progress is slow.
polydad
Gary will be by with his pickup today to help me take the entertainment center to the Salvation Army. That still leaves me with a couple of pickup-loads in the driveway, which I still have to sort through and dispose of. And then will come finishing up the modifications on the cargo trailer, which will include reinstalling the blown-off roof. (It's not open to the weather; I'd added corrugated steel roofing on top of the existing plywood, and apparently didn't use long enough screws.) This will include completely reorganizing and cataloging the *contents* of the trailer, since the modifications will include reinsulating the walls and ceiling.

Aaargh.
polydad
I was outside 'til 2am last night sorting and arranging stuff for the charity pick-up, was up again at 5am doing more of same, came inside to hit the john at about 8:10am, and came out again to see the ass-end of the departing truck, with only a third of the stuff I'd intended to donate gone from the front part of the driveway.

Now to find a way to get rid of the rest of it.