Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Movin' Right Along

"I haven't moved in a year and a half."  That was my witty come back to a friend's crazy accusation that I seem to move quite a bit.  Okay, maybe I do move more than most.  I don't have the numbers, but I suspect my average stay at a given residence is about 3 years.  The fact that I would have to guess is probably a sign as well.

When my roommate and I moved into the place we're at now, we decided to spend a little more on a place with lots of amenities.  These are amenities that we never use.  We weren't inclined to use them as much as we thought; that's true.  It's also true that this place was sold right after we moved in, and went downhill rapidly after that.  So these amenities became less appealing.  We also found out pretty early on that the utilities, and associated fees, were higher than we expected.

So, we're moving, and I'm excited for a number of reasons.

1. I will be saving $150 to $200 a month.  Part of this is fewer amenities, but also rent prices have gone down in my area.

2. We have decided to spend some of that saved money on a cleaner.  So many people have said, "you're that lazy..."  If their homes were perfectly clean, then they'd have a point.  They way I see it, I'm paying for cleanliness, and they choose not to.

3. I'm even closer to work.  I'm literally down the street.  It will be maybe a 10 minute walk.

4. I'm getting a new bed.  I've had a queen for I think 17 years.  What I really want is a loft bed.  It's going to come with more space.  But also, I think it will be easier to control the climate and lighting in the enclosed area.  Plus there has been some advancement in mattress technology in the last 17 years.

5. It's time for a new office chair as well.

6. Finally, there are a few changes I have been reluctant to make to a place I'm renting, but I'm just going to go for it.  Changes like hanging hand sanitize and paper towel dispensers.  I might even spend a little on sound absorbing panels.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Necessary Lies

Months ago I listened to a podcast where the topic discussed was, "Necessary Lies of Civilization."  The idea is that we collectively and subconsciously agree that society is better off if we tell ourselves, and each other, that certain things are true, when they are not.  We lie to ourselves.  Lies like, "Crime never pays."  Lies like, "Hard work pays off."  It can, and often does, but there are certainly people who work harder than I who are worse off; and many better off who work less hard.  Hard work is one factor; one resource.  But what kind of message is that?  Since then I've kept my eyes open for these lies as one more veil to lift to see the world as it really is.  That led me down a really unexpected path.

Start with all American adults who are of sound mind who have formed an opinion about when a person becomes a person.  I'm ignoring everyone who has not formed an opinion.  I'm ignoring everyone who is repeating what their religion tells them.  Look at everyone who has used logic to determine when they believe a person becomes a person.  It seems to me something like 99% would agree that a person become a person at birth.  Does this make sense?

It never has to me.  Imagine explaining to a robot that this adult human is a person, and that adult pig is not.  You could easily point to a superior intelligence, abstract thinking, an appreciation of art...  This would not be a hard task.  But that robot would immediately use your criteria to determine a new born baby is not a person.  So you'd add, "And everyone who can be expected to develop these traits."  Great, but now the robot would tell you that any unborn human is a person.

What I'm getting at is, how does anyone use logic to determine that a person become a person at birth?  And it finally hit me, they don't.

There is a huge cost to placing that point of demarcation at any point after birth.  There is a huge cost to saying, "these humans are people, but these humans are not people."  I think every atrocity in human history has started with that idea.  And there is a huge cost to putting that point before birth.  Pregnancy has huge costs.  Financial, of course, but the cost of time, and effort; the effects on a person's body and life.

So the majority of people tell that lie, but it is a lie.  If a new born baby is a person, then he or she was a person ten minutes earlier.  And if its not its not.  And I get it.  We tell ourselves each life is priceless, but that's just one more lie.  We all decide how much we are willing to give up for our safety, the safety of the people we love, and the safety of people we will never meet.  This isn't a call for action, if anything it's a call for transparency.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Influencing Politics

With apologies to Benjamin ...

It's the rules …

In a prior blog post, I shared what was to be a letter to the editor but what turned into a commentary … too long ( too wordy, would you believe? ) for a simple letter to the editor. My paper failed to publish it.

Perhaps I don't blame them. But I'm not giving up. I have trimmed the nearly 450 word article to a mere fraction of that. It's below; I believe it's still hard-hitting.

It's the rules, buddy,

As the economy has been a major factor in many nation-wide elections, so too should the rules of the United States House of Representatives be this year. For it is those Rules, and some practices that have evolved due to them, that have precluded even consideration of common sense bi-partisan legislation. Legislation doing what is supported by an overwhelming majority of voters and which would pass easily in both houses. Think Health Care; DACA; Immigration; Roads and Bridges

The Problem Solvers' Caucus, consisting of forty-some Republicans and Democrats, with the Support of No Labels (nolabels.org), a bipartisan citizens group, proposes a series of specific changes to the House Rules that would break these barriers to consideration of bipartisan legislation. New rules could be implemented in the next Congress, as the incoming Class chooses its Rules in January. The old rules are usually rubber-stamped and the Caucus aims to change that.

Communicate with your favorite candidate for a Congressional seat, or a member of her or his Staff; talk about the proposal to change some of the House Rules. GOOD: Ask for support. BETTER: ask for a pledge of support. BEST: communicate that your vote hinges on such support.

With enough citizens leaning on elected officials this way, change can happen.

It's the rules, buddy,


What do you think?
If you would like to comment but don't care to use the comment field, send an email to  wrjsojourner@gmail.com.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Unexpected Consequences

When I sold my car years ago, I started taking the bus.  And I always intended to purchase a backup bus pass.  I'd like to think I would have, but after dragging my feet for a couple of months, a friend took the decision out of my hands by giving me one as a gift.  That back up buss pass was not used often, but I was always glad to have it when it was.

The other day I was out at the mall with my mother and aunt, and sent them home on the bus.  I couldn't just pay for them with a bus pass and walk away because they needed to transfer.  Good thing I had my trusty backup.  I told them I'd pick it up next time I stopped by.

Now you might expect that to be the end of a very boring story.  My mother and her husband each have their own bus passes, my Aunt was only in town for a couple of days, and my uncle has been a shut-in for years now.  I'm not sure if I'm using this term entirely respectfully.  He has been dragged out to get some clothes, and he does mow the lawn and such.  I think he may have even walked down to the corner store once in a while.

If someone gave him a bus card, the chance of him using it would have been around zero.  But it turns out someone else's bus card laying around was some kind of temptation.  He has used it, a couple of times.  I don't know where he went, but anywhere is better than nowhere.  As for me, I told him to hold onto it, and I'll get it from him later.  Much later.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Fallout 4 Downloadable Content

Having sunk hundreds of hours into Fallout 4, I figured it was time to buy the DLC pack.  Quite a bit of that DLC just added stuff you could build.  It's not something I would pay for, since mods do that much better.  Here's my take on the rest.

The story line was short, but fun.  I loved that they added some Silver Shroud lines at the end.  The ability to upgrade robots was probably something above and beyond what mod authors could be expected to do, so that has value too.  I could see myself spending $15 on this alone.

Nuka World
One of the big complaints about Fallout 4 was that you were railroaded into being a good guy, even if how you went about helping was questionable at times.  Nuka World does add story and game play, but it seems like it is mostly there to let you be a bad guy.  If you just start killing all the slavers when you arrive, you'll miss out on some of that game play.  So, it's really not for me.  I don't fault them for creating it.  I will play it through, but would not buy it on its own.

Far Harbor
Now this one is interesting.  I loved how you just became a detective.  Nick and Ellie just start referring to you as Nicks partner.  You even have a couple of opportunities to introduce yourself as a detective.  It feels organic in a way that nothing else in Fallout 4 has before.  You have worked with him long enough that it makes perfect sense that you would just fall into place as this detective's partner.

I like the new area it added, and the completely different Scooby-Doo island feel it had.  The fact that most of the island was unsafe for habitation actually made it feel more populated.  One issue I had with Fallout 4 was how people treated you like you were a nobody long after you accomplished much more than any one person realistically could have.  The things you do in Far Harbor feel like something one person could do, and the people seem to notice.  If you're carrying a big gun they'll say, "With firepower like that, no wonder you did X, Y, Z..."

And I even liked the moral questions they gave you at the end.  It was thought provoking in a way that the main story line of Fallout 4 wasn't.  It even kind of rewrote that main plot by implying that you were an android all along.  Which is super interesting, but too much to get into in this blog post.  I would have totally paid $50 for this expansion on its own.