Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn
dachte

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TSA Stuff and Conformity

Hear me grumble about the TSA controversy from a different angle than you'd think...

I am very irritated about the TSA controversy. I am not irritated at the TSA (so much, anyhow), I am rather irritated that suddenly there's this bandwagon of people suddenly deciding to protest things not much different than what they've occasionally had to deal with for years, and so it's trendy for people to "strike at the man" in this way. I hold that this bandwagon is manufactured, unreasonable, and a distraction from much more important things.

We live in a country facing serious budgetary problems in about 40 years that will require substantial tax raises, benefit reduction, or both, and we're not likely to do anything about it. We face large-scale climate change and we're sitting on our hands. Our pre-university education system is in very bad shape, leading to broadscale rot in our civilisation as anti-intellectualism and radical individualism pull the minds of big portions of our population backwards out of the modern era - among developed nations we're roughly on par with Turkey in coming to terms with evolution. Our infrastructure is decaying. Our news media as a whole are losing the standards that have kept them useful, leaving our democracy undernourished for facts-based debate. We're entering a post-hegemonic world with uncomfortable new political and business facts to digest, and we're failing to adapt, sweat, and work our butts off to be competitive and effective because we're too proud. Our political system is one of dependence - financial interests prevent effective taxation or regulation (consider the recent economic mess), create perverse incentives (see corn subsidies, also the recent economic mess), and push libertarian strategies inimical to long-term cultural/national health. It is possible for companies to make large profits while acting against the interests of society (from quant trading to tax evasion firms). The average health care our people have access to is among the worst among the developed nations. We've developed a bizarre xenophobia that's created an urgency to expel large groups of illegal immigrants and divide families without solid reasoning, turning a real and complex problem into a witchunt. We're a nation whose last leader was ok with torture and whose foreign policy has been unprincipled and littered with atrocities in the name of economics for over a century.

And yet the idea of a patdown or passing through some kind of scanner at an airport is suddenly a big deal. No. There are better things that deserve attention - airports have required some discomfort for awhile, this is not some creeping fascism, and it is really not a big deal. The current security regime might not be fun, it might not even be the most effective way to achieve its ends, there are a few people with unusual needs for whom it might work out particularly badly, but there are some sacrifices we make to live in civilisation. Parking tickets, jaywalking citations, taxes, jury duty, etc. If you're frustrated with your life, fix your life. If you're frustrated with the things I enumerated in my first paragraph, great, let's think about what we can do about them. If, however, you're going to make a big deal out of will-intentioned and not-really-all-that-unreasonable parts of living in society, I suspect you're either letting off stress from somewhere else here (so fix that!) or you need to think more about what it means to live in a society. People like this are embarassments, not heroes. Let's focus on what really matters - if you need people, let's look at Wall Street, all the lobbying that happens in DC, FoxNews (and maybe HuffPo). If you need issues, education and environment are great topics. If civil rights are a big deal, immigration and torture/rendition are good topics. Airport security measures are a red herring.

In other news (been meaning to write about this for awhile), about two years ago South Korea elected a President who shifted government policy regarding North Korea towards a more hawkish, confrontational tone. South Korea's military provoked North Korea by holding military exercises (with live ammunition) near the land border (in disputed waters) - North Korea initially responded with some light fire across the land border, but after nine days, today North Korea shelled a nearby island (also in disputed waters), killing two South Korean marines, injuring several people, and destroying some homes. Hopefully this won't escalate further - neither side has clean hands (or is particularly level-headed).

Recently have been experimenting with things much like origami. So far, I have things that look vaguely like flowers or palm trees - I'd like to experiment with moisture and coloured powders or chalk (applied in a series of stages with selective moistening to let me choose what color goes where) to take things further.

Also, at work I'm experimenting with NoCat as an AP management software - previously hacked together something for our Homenet project but I think NoCat will be more robust if I can get it configured to my liking before the project goes live.

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  • Still alive

    Been feeling a bit nostalgic. Not about to return to LiveJournal - their new ownership is unfortunate, but I wanted to briefly note what's been up…

  • Unplugging LJ

    It's about time I pulled the plug on the LJ version of my blog: 1) I'm much more active on G+ than I am with general blogging. I post many times a…

  • Mutual Trust

    I don't know which should be considered more remarkable: That a cat should trust a member of a far larger and stronger species that it can't…