Getting Sentimental: A Musical Interlude

This one’s a little different from most of my musical interludes.  I usually put up some darker stuff–goth and metal music for the most part.  Here I’m taking a more sentimental/love song/ballad turn including some stuff from before my “Musical Awakening” of the last decade.  I’m sure there’ll be some eyerolls from some of you at some of these, but the heart likes what the heart likes. 😉

This one always gives me chills 

This is only a small part of my “sentimental” playlist, but this is a good one to finish on, I think.

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Some Soul Baring

Folk who have been following this blog for a while should have twigged to the idea that I’m pretty close to an open book here.  There are some things I keep to myself (doesn’t everyone?) but on the whole I’m pretty open.

I’ve mentioned before that I grew up in the LDS church.  Sometime around my late twenties I ended up drifting away from it.  I just found that I didn’t believe too many of the core doctrines any more.  It started with Young Earth Creationism and, well, once I started picking at that thread, things started unraveling.

About the time I was going through technical training in the Air Force, there was a musical produced by folk at Brigham Young University called “My Turn On Earth”. It was a schmaltzy little piece which, in the course of its story, gave a brief precis of a number of LDS doctrines (the pre-existence of spirits, the cause of Lucifers rebellion and fall, the eternal nature of family–more on that shortly–etc.)

Mind you, back then I’d never actually seen the musical.  What I had was a cassette recording of the soundtrack (I’ve since found a recording of a performance on Youtube–and it was as nice as I imageined; one doesn’t have to believe the story to enjoy it as a story).  And, frankly, I loved the music.  Okay, this was way before my “musical awakening” and getting introduced to Goth and Metal music.  It very much had a “show tune” vibe.  Of course, they were show tunes, so that just made sense.  But, in particular one of the songs–well, more a medley of two but it’s the second part that really did it for me and can still move me to tears. (Yeah, yeah, I’m just a sentimental softie.)

To explain that you have to understand that while I no longer believe the doctrine of the LDS religion, a lot of my early emotional conditioning/imprinting/whatever you want to call it came out of it.  And the big one there was the idea that marriage and family was supposed to continue not just “until death do you part” but “for time and all eternity.”  “Heaven” in a very real sense, was simply a continuation of a loving family…forever.

Mind you, I hadn’t personally experienced that perfect family, or even a sort-of-all-right-family.  I had, however, seen it in others.   And while I recognize that seeing others vs. experiencing ones own has been described (with considerable justice) as comparing someone else’s “highlight reel” with ones own “behind the scenes”, I could still see that a good (let alone perfect) family where the people love, care for, and support each other and having that continue forever is extremely attractive, and it’s more tangible than most conceptions of “heaven” that don’t really “sing” for me. (I may joke about “Viking Heaven” offering sex, booze, and meat, but the reality is this “continuation of a great family forever” IMO has that beat hands down.)

As a side note, this is why I roll my eyes when people tell me “you can believe what you want.” You see, I can’t think of anything more appealing than that:  family, loving and caring for each other, continuing for all eternity.  That would be my heaven.  If I could just throw a switch in my head and believe the doctrines of a church that offers that, I would.  And so, whatever happens after I die–oblivion, non-existence, or some form of afterlife–remains a great unknown.

And so, not having promise (that’s meaningful to me anyway) of an “ever after” I’m left with trying to do the best I can in this mortal condition.  Of course, like everyone else, I’m hampered by all the flaws and difficulties of human frailty–and the fleeting nature of human life is no help at all.  But it’s a goal, and a high one.

And in the meantime, one can listen to this beautiful little song:

It may be horribly un-goth for me to admit (Hey, I’ve got layers! 😉 ) but there are a handful of love songs that I consider among the most beautiful and moving ever made.  There’s the Righteous Brothers “Unchained Melody.” There’s Elvis Presley and “I can’t Help Falling in Love” and “Love me Tender.” “If” by Bread.  And the second part of this one ranks right right up there with them.

Here in our love, I feel something of Eternity. (Eternity)
Looking at you, I can see right through to Eternity (Eternity)
Millions of years like pearls before us wind away.
They wind away. (They wind away.)
Millions of years like pearls before us
Yours and mine
Today.

We will go on, building upon Eternity (Eternity)
Growing with you, flowing into Eternity (Eternity)
Suddenly hours and days are spinning
Suddenly Heaven is beginning
Suddenly now the veil is thinning
In a place or two.
Suddenly now I see Eternity is you.

Suddenly hours and days are spinning
Suddenly Heaven is beginning
Suddenly now the veil is thinning
In a place or two
Suddenly now I see Eternity is you.
Eternity is you.
Eternity is you.

 

There Ought to be a Law: A blast from the past

Inspired to bring this one up from a recent article asking if Americans are “ready to legalize Prostitution.” Frankly, in most cases more problems are created by making something illegal than were caused by the issue in the first place.  Once you put people’s activities outside the law a lot of the social and even legal (after all, if they’re already breaking one law, what’s one more?) restraints go away.

One basic rule of life is that if there is a demand for something, then someone will create a supply. Making it illegal doesn’t end that. It just brings all the trappings of criminal activities along with it. We saw that with Prohibition. We see it in “Prohibition II”. And we see it in prostitution.

And so, I wrote the following on the subject of “There ought to be a law.”


Actually, in the vast majority of cases, no, there ought not to be.

Think about what “law” means.  Law means that someone from the government can come and use force on a person to make him or her comply, to submit.  Force.  And if they resist that force, the government can increase the level.

In the end, if they continue to resist, the government can kill them.

Even if you don’t have a “death penalty” on the books, it is always the end game of a person refusing to submit to the law.

And it has to be that way because without that ultimate use of force, there comes a point where someone can say “no” to your law and you have to say “okay.” At which point it’s no longer law but a strongly worded suggestion.

So when you say “there ought to be a law” you are saying “it’s worth killing people to ensure that this happens” or “to make this less likely to happen.”

That’s what “law” means.  That’s what law is.

It is the same with anything you want the government to do and to pay for.  Taxes, after all, are also laws.  Someone can say “no” to paying the tax and you send armed men to force him or her to pay.  And if he resists those armed men, they can kill him.

“The government should provide/pay for…” means “we are willing to kill someone to have…”

And it’s not even just the willingness to kill the people who break the law because the use of force occurs before any trial is held to determine guilt or innocence.  Police respond to a bad tip and break into someone’s home.  Resident, having no reason to expect the police, acts to defend himself.  And the result is the coroner has to come and haul away one or more bodies.

Someone, maybe several someones, dead because “there ought to be a law.”

This is not to say that there should be no laws and no taxes, but that we need to go into that eyes open about what it means.  Does a study on why Lesbians have a higher incidence of being overweight (an actual CDC study) really  justify killing someone?  Is it really worth killing people over smoking an unapproved plant?  And so on.

Thomas Jefferson wrote:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed

There, I believe, is the crux of it.  To secure these rights of LifeLiberty, and Pursuit of Happiness, does justify the use of force to the point of deadly force.  Defending our nation, laws to censure those who credibly threaten the rights of others to Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness, and the minimal necessary taxes to accomplish those ends.  And no more.  Let other things be accomplished by other means, means that don’t come with the sanction to use force up to and including deadly force.

Reserve law and government for things that really are worth killing over.

Oh, and one more little thing.  Before you decide that it’s okay to kill those “other people” (you know who they are) because you don’t like what they’re doing, just remember:

Anything government can do for you, it can do to you.

Fallacy of Equivocation

The fallacy of equivocation is where you use a word with multiple meanings such that one meaning applies to one part of an argument and another meaning applies in another part of the argument, but it’s treated as though the meaning is the same.  For example: “Philosophy helps you argue better, but do we really need to encourage people to argue? There’s enough hostility in this world.” Here “argue” is used in two different senses.  In the first, it’s used to mean to present a collected series of statements that support a conclusion.  In the second, it means to disagree with someone in a hostile manner.  Monty Python made a comedy sketch out of that difference:

Another form is to use a word with one meaning while expecting others to apply a different meaning.  Congresswoman Ocasio Cortez used just that form with her recent description of detention centers used to hold people caught illegally crossing our borders until their cases could be adjudicated “concentration camps.”

When you hear the word “concentration camps” what’s the image that comes to mind?  Buchenwald and Auschwitz?  Yeah, me too.  I would also include Manzanar, Topaz et al as well.

What we have at our borders, however, bears as much resemblance to those places as a friendly Golden Retriever bears to a rabid Timber Wolf.

We have certain facilities where folk who have been caught breaking our immigration laws are held.  You might argue that our immigration law should be changed.  In fact, I’d agree with that proposition.  Personally, I could wish for a way to reliably identify folk who believe wholeheartedly in our Founding ideals (which, sadly, our founding practices often fell short of) so we could open the doors wide to them while being much more restrictive on people who don’t. (We can absorb some but too many, too fast, and we end up with an electorate actively opposed to those founding ideals–and we already have too much of the home-grown variety of that.)  But until such time as the law is changed, it remains the law of the land.

What we do not have are people are rounded up strictly on the basis of their ethnicity.  We’re not requiring all persons of certain ancestry to report to “relocation centers.” We are not sending out squads with carte blanch to round up any such folk hiding in folks’ attics.  We are not imposing brutal labor requirements on them while feeding them a pittance.  And we certainly aren’t shoving people wholesale into “showers” where the only “shower” is lethal gas.

We are instead enforcing our laws, as humanely as is practically possible given the realities of circumstances.  The conditions are far better than many of our servicemen and women live in.  And they’re certainly far better than the people in them subjected themselves to in order to illegally cross our border.

Frankly, if I were fleeing an oppressive regime that directly threatened me and mine (after all, “seeking asylum” is a frequent claim–although why they didn’t present themselves at a point of entry and make that claim rather than waiting until they got caught is left as an exercise for the student) then a cot, a roof (even a canvas or nylon one), and three square meals a day would be a godsend.  And having to stay put while they confirm my case would be a small price to pay to escape whatever I was fleeing from.

But by simply using loaded language, the fallacy of equivocation, Ocasio-Cortez attempts to short circuit actual argument of the merits of one approach to dealing with the issue or another.  She claims on one side that the detention centers mean the “dictionary definition” of concentration camps and so she’ll continue to use the term.  But she uses the term explicitly to call up images of Auschwitz and Buchenwald.  Indeed, her use of “never again” in this context demonstrates that’s exactly what she’s doing “with malice aforethought.”

And others are coming to her defense on that.

Unfortunately for her she managed in doing so to anger a lot of people who have family who dealt with real concentration camps and they are not amused.  Politically, I expect this to backfire big time.

Oops.

 

“Abolish the Family”?

Yes, that idea is being seriously proposed to “Dismantle Capitalism”.  Here’s an archive link.

How about “no”?  Does “no” work for you?  If not, then how about “hell no”?

If anybody’s been paying attention (like, say, looking at yesterday’s blog post) they know just how important I consider family to be.  I’m far, far from alone in that.

The theory in socialist/communisty/whateverist ideas is that if you eliminate the family, and the attachment people have to family, they’ll transfer that attachment to “the people” or more accurately, the State: “The State is mother.  The State is father.  We live for the State.  We die for the State.” Once that happens, the theory goes, we can eliminate this crass materialism and people seeking their own advantage and everyone can live in harmony in a perfect socialist paradise.  And, yes, people have tried that, whether by simply trying to minimize the roll of parents, undermining the familial connection between parents and children, or even outright taking children to be raised by the state.

It never leads to a good end.

It doesn’t work.  It never works.  Even if you eliminate the biological family:  Keep people segregated.  Reproduce only by artificial insemination.  Hey make it in vitro fertilization and artificial wombs to remove the parent child relationship entirely except as purely genetic.  Raise children in creches with no idea who provided the genetic material and who among others might possibly share some of that genetic source material.  You still won’t eliminate the drive to family.

Family is important.  Family is vital. Family is what makes the world go around.  Milton Friedman noted that the smallest economic unit isn’t the individual so much as it’s the family.  In situations of voluntary exchange, individuals will routinely make changes that are detrimental to them personally if it benefits their family.  Which is a fancy way of saying that people are quite willing to make sacrifices for their families.

Take that away and people don’t then gravitate to the faceless collective of “the people” (nor to their self-selected “representatives” of the regime in charge).  Instead, they create new units of their own to replace that familial bond.  A common example of that is gangs serving as surrogate families for gang members.

You cannot eliminate the family while still retaining anything resembling human.  Separate children from their parents and they find surrogate “parents”.  Separate siblings and they find surrogate siblings.  What they do not do (with perhaps rare exceptions) is sublimate their drive for family into humanity at large.

The results of attempts to eliminate family have always been abysmal.  The substitute families almost by definition tend to be highly disfunctional (not to say that “natural” families–which have taken many forms over the course of recorded history and before–are all shining examples, but they’ve generally worked out better than not*). The idea of family has been so universal across the multitudinous cultures of humanity that one might almost think there is a reason for it, if for no other reason than, from my experience, people have generally been happier in a family relationship than not.*

So, to repeat:  “Abolish family”? How about “no”.

*Yes, I am well aware that there are counterexamples to these ideas.  And, no, I don’t have anything more than a general impression of the truth of the basic principles.  I just also happen to think that family would not have survived so long, through so many iterations, in so many widely disparate cultures, if it didn’t fulfill an important, fundamental need in the human species. “Happiness” and “worked out better than not” will serve as terms for the fulfilling of that need.

Sadness–A Musical Interlude

I had a particularly bad night recently (these are scheduled several days in advance, so things should be resolved by the time this pops up).  Thus the theme of today’s musical interlude.

There’s a movie “Deathgasm” that I haven’t seen (yet) but from which a couple of “memes” have come from.  One of them has a metalhead guy explaining to what appears to be a very non-metal girlfriend the attraction of metal.  When you hurt, you listen to metal and it’s better because someone else knows the pain.

Whether specific bands singing about stuff actually “know the pain” is really irrelevant in the greater scheme of things.  The illusion is sufficient to create the catharsis.  Metal and Goth are particularly good for that purpose.  I think Country might be as well but with very few exceptions I have just never cared for the “sound” of country.  It’s a matter of personal taste and, as always (and especially when it comes to music) your mileage may vary.

And so, here are some songs that I find particularly cathartic when the mood strikes.

And that should be enough for now.

 

“To Me Socialism Means….”

This bit has come across my social media feed more than once:

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People like to denigrate Ms Occasio-Cortez’s intelligence.  I’ve done it myself (for what seems to me good reason).  However, this really isn’t an example of that.  This is a common result of what comes when you define something not my the processes and incentives involved, but by the hoped-for outcome.  People get told over and over again that “Socialism means…” followed by things like fairness, providing for the poor, “social justice”, and what have you.  And, as a result, when those outcomes don’t happen, of course it wasn’t “real socialism” because it didn’t provide the desired outcomes.

This leads folk to implementing the same processes over and over again, claiming, once again, that it’s for the desired outcome.  And, of course, they dismiss any failures because if it didn’t have the desired outcome then by definition it wasn’t socialism.

The catch to all that is that you don’t implement outcomes.  You implement processes.  And if the processes don’t lead to the outcome (as, time and again we have seen with socialism) then all the definitional objections in the world aren’t going to change that.

Another example.  Marx claimed that once socialism was implemented the state would “wither away.” What about the processes involved and the incentives created cause the state to wither away was left more than a little vague.  It would be unnecessary because people would just do the things they needed to do for the “common good.”

That this doesn’t describe any human population of any size since the dawn of time is just glossed over.

But, clearly, since the state in Communist Russia, or China, or Cuba, or Cambodia, or (more recently) Venezuela have not had their states wither away (although, perhaps, Venezuela is rapidly heading to failed state status, if it’s not already there, that’s not hte same thing at all), therefore they can’t possibly be “real socialism.”

The problem with that particular issue–the state “withering away”–is that once you have the dictatorial power necessary to establish socialism–to collectivize the farms, to strip people of their hard-won property rights, to force people to comply with the various task that must be done (without the use of prices, including price of labor, to attract people to less desirable occupations)–you attract people who desire that kind of power for its own sake.  While it’s not something I particularly grasp, there are folk out there who like ruling over others.  And if, somehow, you manage to get everyone else to agree to work together in harmony without any price or other self-interest motivation (and good luck with that; see above about no society of any size in history) those in power before that point aren’t going to just step aside.  And one of the things they will do with their power is ensure that they always need to remain in power.  If there isn’t a reason for them to retain power (“for the common good”, of course) they’ll manufacture one.

“We have always been at war with Eastasia.”

This all comes by attempting to define things by the stated hoped-for outcomes rather than the processes and the incentives those processes create.  The nice thing about a system of voluntary exchanges coordinated by changing prices is that the process provides incentive for people to provide for the wants of others because they can then exchange that for things they want.  And the incentive is to produce the most value, as those they are exchanging with see it, at the least expenditure of scarce resources that have alternative uses.

The process of free market exchange does more to accomplish the stated hoped-for goals of socialism than the process of socialism ever has…or ever will.