Thoughts My Brain Made

If you flunked your IQ test, don’t drive.

Governments are like compost heaps — if you don’t turn them over regularly, all they’re ever going to do is lie there and stink.

Think of institutions in general as being like dairy products — they go bad quickly and need to be replaced.

Hubris

A utopia of 10,000 years, if one were ever to exist, would end when a new generation looks upon all the peace and prosperity bequeathed them by their elders and sneers, "We would have done it better." And once they age into power, they try, and destroy it all.

How can anyone wonder, then, that there never has been a utopia of even one generation, let alone thousands?

Preserve Your Sanity: Keep It Simple

If you want to keep from driving yourself crazy “fixing” the rules to keep up with how people get around them, stop trying.

Boundaries are not there just to be boundaries. They are there to serve as warnings of potential harm to come. Let the consequence of the boundary-crossing be whatever that harm is, not some malum prohibitum tome of penalties completely unrelated to the reason the boundary is there.

You can’t protect the snowflakes forever; they have to grow up sometime. Healing up from self-inflicted bruises is a necessary part of that.

Personal Propaganda

I write fiction too, and have even sold some. So of course I still work at it in hopes of selling some more.

In a story I’m currently writing, I needed to segue into a scene that I knew had to happen, but I was blanking on how to do it. So, I decided on some exposition — which I would ordinarily have used to illustrate the setting, or the mindset of one or more specific characters, but which this morning I decided to use instead for some philosophy. And it actually does end up leading rather smoothly into the scene:

Institutions are, by definition, corrupt – in part because they are established by mere mortals, which makes them hardly unique, but also because they are established to promote specific goals, which inevitably put them at odds with other, potentially more laudable goals. But it’s the human part that turns them inevitably toward more corruption as the institutional goals, which may one day end the need for the institution, are subverted in favor of the institution’s perpetuation.

By perpetuating the problems it was founded to solve, if necessary.

Government agencies are notorious not only for falling into this trap, but for encouraging private institutions to follow suit, including especially those institutions founded specifically to discourage this process. So naturally there have been attempts to organize society without formal government, which fell even harder. Thousands of years of civilization seem destined never to teach humanity that the fault lies not in their works, but in their selves.

Which is not to say that societies that accept corruptibility as a given and attempt to use it against itself work out any better than those that surrender to corruptibility and hope for survival of the fittest. Corruption being an absolute evil, it cannot be brought to terms – it will never negotiate in good faith, and at bad faith it always wins by experience. It is a war often lost, never won, paused unwisely only to be renewed with regret.

For all that, the fatal error of institutions is that they treat the war as a public one, when in fact it is a war that rages within each for his own soul. Were humans capable of existing in pure solitude, that war could be won, sometimes — and when not, at least the consequences of losing the war could be suffered only by the loser. But we are not, and cannot be. We are doomed ever to fight this private war in public, and to have our defeats suffered by others.

[Character Name] had often enjoyed the time to think about such weighty ideas in this job of his, but now he was confronted with the truth of his predicament, of how he was targeted to become the victim of other people’s failure to win their personal war with corruption.

Emphasis added for effect.

“Customer Retention”

In times like these, one is confronted with the realization that there are more stupid things under the sun than are dreamt of in Horatio’s philosophy — and that which of them is actually the stupidest may never be known to man. But corporate “customer retention” practices must be damned good contenders.

If you’ve ever become dissatisfied with a service provider such as a phone company or cable TV company, and wanted to end your relationship with it, you’ve probably encountered customer retention. You find yourself talking to someone whose job is to make promises he can’t keep and won’t try to, like an abusive husband who suddenly realizes his poor, battered wife is the most important thing in his life and he’ll she’ll just diiiiiiiiie if she leaves him.

We see enough pop culture references to the battered-wife phenomenon to believe it must work for the abusive husbands. The sad thing is, these tactics must work for corporations too because no matter how much they piss off people who complain about them, they still do it.

Nor is it limited, it seems, to industries like those. I’ve just encountered it with regard to medical services, and while I’d had no particular complaints about the service I'd received (Mrs. McG had one, but only one), the change was in order to reap the full advantages of a change of doctors we had decided needed to happen. The medical practice we were quitting barely shrugged as we left, but someone from the service provider favored us with a customer retention call yesterday that makes me fear for that man’s wife, if he has one.

And now a company whose front-line personnel have always treated me pleasantly, carries the stink of the ninth circle of Hell. If circumstances ever lead me to consider returning to that provider, I will first have to find out if that man is still employed there. If he is, no dice.

Truth Matters

...but not to Liz Cheney.

You could be tested for COVID-19, and have the result come back negative. You could be tested again, with the same result. And again, and again, and again. The Democrats in Washington would still consider you impeachable for having COVID-19.

And so would Liz Cheney, the ostensibly Republican at-large congresswoman from Wyoming.

Donald Trump’s speech before the Capitol demonstration did not incite violence, did not call for a coup, did not inspire insurrection. You can read it yourself.

A creature of the D.C. swamp can easily disregard the truth for politics. That’s what Liz Cheney has done.

This is what you call a moment of clarity.

Update, January 18: Wyoming Republicans agree.