Goth on Ice: I Feel Pretty

Okay, not really. (I own a mirror; I know what I look like.) The title is a reference to the two new techniques my coach started this last class: Spirals and lunges.

Spirals and lunges are techniques where the point isn’t intricate footwork like in twizzles. They’re not about the speed and rotation of spins. They’re not about the athleticism of triple and quad jumps. No, they’re about grace and elegance, about looking good on the ice.

Coach Julia has an instruction video for spirals. One of the keys is getting sufficient flexibility, particularly extension in the quadriceps, to produce be able to get the free leg up high.

One “trick” my own instructor gave me was that this is one of the very few techniques where you should lock the knee of the skating leg. Doing so helps keep your weight on the back part of the blade preventing catching toe picks and making a very painful faceplant.

And here’s Coach Julia’s tutorial on forward lunges.

Let’s just say that I’ve got a long way to go yet.

Kia Troubles

Wondering if anybody can offer suggestions.

I recently did the timing belt on my 2009 Kia Spectra. And while doing that, I replaced the accessory belts since they had to come off anyway to The timing belt went fine, but since then I’ve had consistent problems with the AC compressor drive belt. First problem was the tensioner pulley fell off the car. Not sure how that happened. I torqued it to spec. Car is a salvage title (“Rebuilt”) and had clearly been hit on that side so maybe it was just faulty. In any case, losing the AC belt took out the belt that drives the water pump and alternator. And since the power steering is driven by a belt off the water pump, that pretty much took out everything.

Replaced the alternator belt while I went out looking for a replacement for the AC belt tensioner and idler pulley.

Found one on Amazon that included the axle and tension adjuster screw. It’s an almost but not quite correct match. The incorrect aspect is that there’s not quite sufficient space between the hex head on the adjuster screw and the flange that serves as the bearing surface to fit into the slot on the mounting bracket on the engine. Some work chucking the screw into a drill and spinning it with a file on the underside of the hex head (not a load-bearing component) took off about 50 mils (one and a quarter mm to you metric folk) and that was enough to let it fit.

The problem is that the AC drive belt tends to walk off the pulley–outboard so that it starts to collide with the belt driving the alternator and water pump, taking it out and…suddenly we’ve got our fingers crossed that the battery will last long enough to get home and hauling the steering wheel around by main force because no power steering.

I’ve tried various tension levels in the idler pulley. Doesn’t help. Tried replacing the pulley with one specific to the Kia thinking maybe there’s some subtle difference in dimensions between this one and the “correct” one. Nope. Same problem there.

I’ve been through four AC belts and three power steering belts (currently have the old one on) trying to solve this problem. The only parts I’ve touched in this subsytem are the harmonic balancer (which drives the belt), the tensioner, and the belt itself. The belt driving the water pump and alternator is fine, which suggests the problem is not with the harmonic balancer. That leaves the tensioner or something else just chose this moment to let go.

Any suggestions?


On the way home from the ice rink today, there was a brief “growling” sound from the front of my car, the steering in my car suddenly got heavy, and then the electrical fault warning light went off. By that combination I knew that I’d lost the alternator belt.

I promptly drove to the nearest auto parts store (wasn’t going to chance trying to get home on just the battery). Bought not one but two alternator belts (one to get home on and one in case I damaged the first on the way. Also a 12 mm combination wrench because of course I didn’t have my tool kit with me. (Need to get a halfway decent tool set to leave in the car.) Replaced the alternator belt in the parking lot of O’Reilly Auto Parts. Old one didn’t break exactly but had walked off the pulleys and basically shredded lengthwise. Part of it, about half the normal width, was still present stuck between the pulleys.

Now normally this would be just further aggravation but, as it happens, this may be the clue I needed to figure out the problem with the AC belt. You see, the AC belt had been walking off its pulley with disturbing regularity. Normally, that would mean something out of alignment but the only component that could be out of alignment that I’d messed with at all was the harmonic balancer (had to take it off as part of the timing belt change). However, the alternator belt, also run off the balancer, hadn’t before this been giving me any trouble so I didn’t think the balancer could be the problem. Now I’m wondering if maybe the extra length and more “open” routing of the alternator and water pump belt might have made it more tolerant of a misalignment. In any case, losing both alternator and AC belt is a strong indicator that the problem lays with the harmonic balancer.

So right now I’m waiting for the engine to cool down before getting under the car and checking. Since the alternator pulley is on the front of the harmonic balancer, I can check it against water pump and alternator with a straight edge. Can’t do that with the AC.

Happy (or not, as you prefer) World Goth Day: An Annual Event

Normally I do these in the evening, but for today I’ll post early.


For those unfamiliar, here’s a brief history of Goths, the Gothic subculture and why “Goth”  even though they, we, were nowhere about when Rome was being sacked. (I’ve got an alibi!)

And some pictures of Goths, being Goth (what can I say, I like couples):

goth couple 37
goth couple 36
goth couple 32
goth couple 30
goth couple 27
goth couple 23
goth couple 22
goth couple 19
goth couple 10
goth couple 12
goth couple 4

If this interests you, Toxic Tears has some tips on getting started:

Socialism Means Central Control of the Means of Production: A Blast from the Recent Past.

You know, I keep running into people, even nominally right-leaning people, who are apologists for Socialism. No, the problem isn’t that it wasn’t “done right.” The problem is built into the very foundations of the concept.

Let us be clear on one thing. “Socialism” whatever form it takes: International, National, “Democratic”, “Market” (whatever that’s supposed to mean, but it was apparently a thing back in the 1940’s), whatever, cannot escape from the definition of socialism itself: an economic system where the economy is centrally planned and where the means of production are owned or controlled by the state. “Control” is the key element that makes it socialism. That is the core element of ownership. If one remains an owner “on paper” but the decisions about use are dictated by the state then it’s socialism. Because the real ownership is by those who make the decisions, whatever some piece of paper says about ownership.

Now, this is the important part. Tattoo it on your eyelids, add it as the welcome screen on your computer, whatever it takes to get you to learn it and remember it deep down in your gut:

YOU are a “means of production.” And that means that you need to be “controlled/owned” by the state. You. Not just your neighbor. Not just “the wealthy”, the “1%”, “cishet white males”, or whatever other group you want to bring down. You.

In socialism, the state decides what use you will be put to. Not you, yourself, not the nice party leader in your neighborhood, some bureaucrat a thousand miles away who doesn’t know the first thing about you personally except as a number in his spreadsheet…and cares even less.

Totalitarianism isn’t the result of socialism gone wrong. It’s the very core of socialism, following from the simple fact that the most important means of production, the most important capital, that needs to be centrally controlled by the very definition of socialism, is human capital.

And human capital means you.

It’s slavery. That the slaves–you and me–are owned and controlled by some vague collective (really someone who claims to be acting on behalf of that collective) instead of individual slave-owners does not change its essential nature. All the promises in the world about “fairness” and “equality” do not change that. Slavery that’s equal is still slavery.

A socialist society is a slave society. The only difference between it and other slave societies is that no one (except possibly a few nomenklatura–the handful claiming to act on behalf of the collected and being able to enforce their dictates) is free.

To advocate for socialism is to advocate for ones own slavery. (No, you won’t be part of that nomenklatura.) Well, if you want to make yourself a slave, that’s on you.

The problem is, you want me enslaved right alongside you.

Social What? A Blast from the Past

As I have mentioned before, I was the guy who always got bullied growing up.  Late developing physically making me the “runt” all the time.  Slower, weaker, and less coordinated than my classmates.  “Odd” interests (space, science fiction, science in general).  Oh, and poverty.  Can’t forget poverty.  All of those added up to the “weird kid” that everyone picked on.

Take all that.  Add in a bit of “face blindness” (faces, unless I know them really well, tend to look alike to me; take two faces and let me compare feature by feature and I can differentiate them so long as I have both in front of me, but try to recognize someone, particularly in a crowd?  Not happening).  And still more there’s the weird way my mind can be “wired” so it’s a recipe for never learning to read “social cues.”

I don’t get social cues.  And, as a result, I have major, major social anxiety issues.

So when this picture popped up on my social media feed, I got it, totally:

flirt back.jpg

As what I said above suggests, I have no idea what “flirting” looks like on the receiving end.  Part of that is that, in addition to the above reasons, because I’m a big ugly, relatively “low status” by most markers (neither of remarkable physical attractiveness, nor with any significant wealth, nor fame, nor power/influence) guy so I don’t get flirted with much.  Even if I did I wouldn’t recognize it.  So, maybe I do get flirted with but just don’t recognize it.

If I did recognize it, I have no idea how to flirt back.  So, if someone were to flirt with me, getting no response, they probably wouldn’t do it twice.

And that’s just talking about casual flirtation.  If I wanted to go beyond flirtation to a relationship or even a dalliance?  Troubles just begin there.

What I said up above about not getting social cues?  That applies here.  Even if by some miracle I recognized “flirting”, I have no idea what “signals” suggest that moving beyond casual flirtation would be welcome.

And if, somehow I managed to recognize those signals (perhaps if said signals were applied with a baseball bat–see Neil Gaiman’s bit on “how to seduce a writer”–more on that in a bit), I have no idea how to actually take whatever steps I need to take to move things in that direction. (I don’t know and would be deathly afraid of crossing some line that I don’t get because I. don’t. get. social. cues.)

There’s also a problem with that “signals applied with a baseball bat”.  You see, sometimes in the past young women (this was mostly when I was in school) would do just that.  And in every case but three, they were doing it as part of a “set up” in which I ended up as the butt of some rather cruel joke–making me think I had a chance only to jerk the rug out from under me in a very public and messy fashion, leaving me humiliated.  Each of those three exceptions, well, they turned out badly for other reasons.

Did I mention social anxiety?  That’s a large part of it right there.

When people trying to be helpful say “you just…” every word after “just” turns into the adults talking in the old Peanuts’ cartoons.  “wah wah wah wah wah.” Okay, not that bad.  I mean, the words sound like English but they don’t combine into anything that makes sense to me.

So, yeah, Goku.  I get it.  More than you know, I get it.

FaceBook Jail Changes a Man.

Over on the Book of Faces I received a 3 Day ban for this:

“Incorrect information that could cause harm” was the specific charge.

Look, you might worship at the shrine of the CDC, think Fauci should be nominated for canonization (never mind that he’s still alive), and follow every instruction that comes from his mouth with slavish adherence (two masks? Of course). However, whether one agrees with the pronouncements or not (I have my own opinion) those recommendations do have downsides that one would be well advised to keep in mind.

Yes, staying home does mean that you’re avoiding sunlight and fresh air. Now perhaps that’s a good thing where you are. Perhaps the air in your house is filtered and of better quality than the smog choked air outside. (Presuming you live in a place with a serious smog problem and presuming your house has that kind of filtration–most don’t.) And you may be all “sun? Skin cancer? No!” and get adequate vitamin D from supplements. More power to you, but one cannot deny that “stay home” orders or recommendations do mean avoiding fresh air and sunshin.

Look, even if we assume that masks are significantly helpful in slowing the spread of Winnie the Flu (virus particles are too small to be stopped by the mask and droplets carrying said particles which might be stopped by a mask only carry something like 3 feet even without a mask so social distancing, or even just recognizing personal space, should be more than adequate, but let’s assume), the fact remains that having a piece of cloth or the filter material of medical masks over your face provides a prime breeding ground for bacteria. Every time you cough, sneeze, or even exhale bacteria from your mouth and nose are deposited on the inner surface of the mask. Every time you walk past a bathroom that has been recently flushed you pick up bacteria and even fecal matter on the mask surface. It’s microscopic to be sure and you never notice it, but it’s there. And your continued breathing provides a warm moist environment for the bacteria to grow and to be ingested.

Normally, the levels of bacteria that are already in your body, and that you’ve breathed out, the amounts you pick up in passing a bathroom, or when out and about, don’t do you any harm. Your immune system is more than adequate to deal with them. But normally, you don’t have a culture dish strapped across your face allowing them to grow and multiply until they are too much for your immune system to handle and you get sick.

Doctors, using masks in hospitals and their offices replace those masks frequently. The masks are either disposed of or sterilized before reuse. How often do most people replace their own masks?

Continuing down the list, if people are restricted from going out, from going to the park, bars and restaurants, bowling alleys, whatever, then what exactly are they going to do except stay home and watch television or play on their computers?

“Unknown chemicals” might be a bit of an overstatement, it’s not much of one. The vaccines in question are still experimental. No studies of long-term effects have been carried out on them because there hasn’t been time for any such studies. Basically, the population is being used as one, gigantic, clinical trial. And it’s being done without proper informed consent. And to “encourage” people to participate in this clinical trial the President of the United States gives them a binary choice: “the rule is very simple: Get vaccinated or wear a mask until you do.”

And what have we been doing but instill a sense of fear and anxiety in our children, the very ones least at risk from Winnie the Flu? We teach them that a bare face is a threat, a danger. We have children now over a year old who have never seen a bare face other than their own parents’. That, in itself, is an experiment in psychology, performed once again without any possible informed consent and on young children.

And, well, the mere fact of my current stint in FaceBook Jail underscores the final statement.

Look, one might argue that all these things are justified, that the risk of Covid 19, or as I like to call it, Winnie the Flu, is so great that it justifies all the ancillary harm it does. That might even be a defensible argument, provided one actually measures “died from CV19” from “died from ‘X’ while also having CV19.” (A person with advanced cancer, months past his expected survival time, who happens to contract CV19 and then dies most likely died because of the cancer, not the Coronavirus.) But in the real world there are rarely solutions only tradeoffs. More of one “good thing” means less of another. Less of one “bad thing” means more of another. And you can’t navigate the best course if you can’t even discuss the downsides–the good we have to give up for the “good” of the proposal, the bad we get in exchange for the bad the proposal is supposed to deal with. And even more rarely is the same “optimum tradeoff” of these goods against those bads the same for everyone. But government invariably applies the same tradeoff to everyone.

Even if one wishes to make the argument that all these restrictions, of which masks are a part, are worth the downside, that does not mean that you get to just ignore that downside. And while it may be worth it to you, what gives you the right to make that decision for someone else, someone who, perhaps, has different issues. Does your feeling that a mask is worth the problems make it so for a rape victim who suffers severe PTSD every time anything is placed over her face? Does it make it so for the combat vet who left 40% of his lung function in the sands of Kuwait and ends up in gasping fits in mere minutes trying to breath through a piece of cloth? Or how about the athlete who can’t train with breathing even a little bit restricted? And how about those kids and the psychological damage of not seeing human faces in person outside their own family?

None of those are hypotheticals. All of them are people I know personally. And they tend to be dismissed because people even attempting to discuss the downsides…well, 3 day ban on Facebook.

“By holding gun on everyone on Earth and calling it protection? This isn’t freedom; this is fear.”

Cap has always got a way with words. (Or he used to; some of the current incarnations not so much.)

Fun with the Project Kia

So, I had to change the timing belt on my car, a 2009 Kia Spectra. As the video above shows, there are a lot of steps involved because of the other things you have to remove to get access to the belt. I was also somewhat intimidated by the task because the last time I replaced the timing belt on an engine, in my old Mitsubishi Eclipse, I was on a very tight budget and didn’t replace the tensioner (the manual said doing so was optional). Result was the belt slipped and destroyed the engine. (Interference engine) The Kia also has an interference engine so it was with great trepidation that I began the task.

The video above is very good and I followed it almost exactly. There were just a couple of glitches along the way.

First, before starting I removed the spark plugs. This makes it much easier to rotate the crankshaft to align timing marks. It also helps at the end of the process to turn the engine over and make sure everything is working smoothly.

In my car the crankshaft pully/harmonic balancer was frozen fast. I had to get and use a harmonic balancer puller to remove it.

I did not remove the bracket between the engine block and the AC compressor. I was able to finesse the lower timing belt cover off without doing so.

At the end of the process, mindful of the problems I’d had in the past, once I got the new belt, tensioner, and idler pully on, I carefully turned the crankshaft through two full revolutions, checking to make sure there was no interference.

I took the opportunity, while I was elbow deep in engine, to replace the accessory drive belts and go ahead and do an oil and filter change.

There were a couple of “gotchas” along the way. I already mentioned that crankshaft pully did not come off easily requiring a puller. When using a jack under the engine, remember that the oil pan is made of aluminum. Use a piece of wood to spread out the force so you don’t crimp and potentially damage it. When you reinstall the passenger side motor mount bracket you may find that the holes in the mount don’t line up with the bolts. The trick there is finding just how high to jack up the motor so you can get them at least somewhat lined up, the lower the motor so the mount bracket slides into place.

Once the work was done, I test drove the car and there were…problems. The timing belt appeared to be fine (sigh of relief, given past history). However, when I was driving the car taking my daughter to work, I heard an unusual clatter from the engine compartment. The sound was a kind of metallic gurgling. At first I thought it was just air in the cooling passages (from replacing the water pump, relatively standard to do along with the timing belt on this engine) and that it would settle as the coolant worked its way through the passages and the air got pushed out. Indeed, that seemed to be the case as the sound soon faded.

On the way back home from taking my daughter to work the sound comes back along with an electrical system warning. At the same time, the steering got heavy. I was able to baby it home and pop the hood to find that the alternator belt had jumped its track. It was a mess, half its width stripped away and, of course, not turning alternator and water pump (which meant power steering wasn’t being driven either). In this engine, one belt off the harmonic balancer turns the alternator and water pump. A belt off the water pump turns the power steering pump, so losing the alternator belt meant losing all three of those things.

I replaced the alternator pump with the one I’d pulled off it when changing the timing belt. It still looked in good shape. While doing so, I noticed that the AC belt (also run off the harmonic balancer) was missing. So, alternator hooked up, I headed out to the parts store to get replacement belts. I figured I either didn’t have one or both of the two properly set on their pullies or I didn’t have them properly tensioned causing one to jump, taking out the other. The power steering belt (run off the water pump) looked fine–just hadn’t been running once the alternator belt went. I got the new belts, got home, and looked at installing them and…

The tensioner idler pully for the AC was gone. Not there. Completely missing. The bracket was empty.

Now, I had torqued that thing to spec when I buttoned things up after the timing belt installation. I have two torque wrenches–a bigger one for foot-lbs and a smaller one for in-lbs–and I use them.

My best guess, is that the idler, like many things on this car, was old and was on its last legs. Even though torqued to spec, it failed causing the AC belt to go. And the AC belt, being adjacent to the alternator and water pump belt, took that out with the results described above.

So for the time being I’m stuck with running without an AC belt in place. I’ve ordered a new idler/tensioner pully for the AC belt from Amazon. For the part I’ve ordered, someone, not the vendor, in a ‘”question” about the thing said that it wouldn’t fit this generation Spectra but the description specifically says it will fit that generation Hundai Elantra. Since the Spectra is basically a rebadged and re-trimmed Elantra, built on the same Hyundai-Kia J3 platform, with the exact same engine, I’m guessing the answerer is wrong on that matter.

In any case, fingers crossed. If it’s wrong, I’m not out a lot.

So, in the meantime, no AC, but otherwise things are running fine. Engine runs smoothly with no indications of any problems. I know that nothing here should actually alter the performance of the car but for some reason the car always seems…happier after maintenance work is done.

Yes, I know, “pathetic fallacy.” Deal. 😉

The Goth on Ice is Back!

It’s taken a long time for me to fully recover from the auto accident I was in at the end of January. Concussion from the accident, then pushing too hard to get back to soon leading to setbacks in the recovery and…well, it took time but eventually I got back onto the ice in a limited fashion: nothing that involved any fast head movement, nothing that pushed limits which could lead to a fall, and if the “mental effort” required to skate starts going up it’s time to stop for the day.

Recently I hit a milestone that cleared me for return to full activity. After discussion with my treatment provider, we decided that a good marker is if I could regularly skate 30 minutes without any concussion symptoms (including that marked increase in the “mental effort” required to skate) then I should be good to go. (Please note, this is not medical advice. Consult your own health care provider before returning to the ice after any injury, but especially after a concussion.

One of the things I have been working on in particular has been my two-foot spin. It’s still kind of hit or miss. It happened to “hit” when I was testing for completion of Adult 5 so I passed that…the last element I needed to complete the level. I am now, unequivocally, in Adult 6:

Adult 6

  • Forward stroking with crossover end patterns (Not included in Basic) √
  • Backward stroking with crossover end patterns (Backward stroking is Basic 6, the “crossover end patterns” is not included)
  • Forward inside three-turn, R and L (Basic 6)
  • Forward outside to inside change of edge on a line, R and L (Not included in Basic) (I will note that my current instructor is treating this as “power pulls” which are a different technique but the name in the instructional materials changed from “Forward outside to inside change of edge on a line” to “Beginning power pulls”)
  • T-stop, R or L (Basic 6: R and L)
  • Lunge (Basic 4) √
  • Two-foot spin into one-foot spin (Basic 6)

(Items in bold are the things I’ve already completed.)

Here’s an example of some recent work with spins. It’s not the best I’ve done but a big improvement over where I was. In particular I’m finding the “sweet spot” on the blade a lot more commonly than I was before:

One of the things my instructor had us do in a recent class was this exercise where we were doing forward edges around one of the hockey circles then deepen the edge, which involved deepening the knee bend, so you skate a tighter circle inside the hockey circle and tangential to it. When you return to the hockey circle, you open up the edge a bit and continue on the hockey circle. It looks something like this (forgive the poor artwork):

As I understand it, that’s about control of your edges. I’ve been practicing it some during my public skate sessions. I can hold my forward edges pretty much until I coast to a near stop. Backward…not so much. Still working on that. One online coach recommends as an initial exercise for a more advanced technique than anything I’m working on right now (Back spin, to be precise), doing a backward outside edge while holding the spin body position, all the way around one of the hockey circles. And while I’m not anywhere near ready to start working on back spins (Free-Skate 2, 3 levels above where I am now), I don’t think it’s too early to work on holding my back edges for an extended period.

The other thing I have been working on is the forward inside three-turn. It remains a challenge, in part because I’ve been doing it wrong. That means I now have a bad habit to unlearn before I can start doing it right.

Still…looking back it’s hard to imagine how far I’ve come in just over two years.

Types of Tyranny

Tyrants come in three basic flavors. In order from least bad to worst:
First you have those who have no goal other than their own aggrandizement. They are the ones who want power and wealth for themselves and are pretty open about that being their goal. Most tyrants in history were of this variety. They conquered neighboring lands to increase the tax base so they can have more comforts and luxuries. And if the peasants starve, that’s no problem to them, so long as they get their portion.

This kind of tyrant is almost refreshing in his honesty. You know where you stand with this kind of tyrant. He’s largely predictable. And, when it comes right down to it, people other than the tyrant and his sycophants really have no problem with folk fighting back against this kind of tyrant…provided you win.

(From the mini-series “Shogun”:

Toranaga: “Tsukku-san says that the Netherlands were vassals of the Spanish king until just a few years ago. Is that true?”
Blackthorne: “Yes.”
Toranaga: “Therefore, the Netherlands – your allies – are in a state of rebellion against their lawful king?”
Blackthorne: “They’re fighting against the Spaniard, yes, but –
Toranaga: “Isn’t that rebellion? Yes or no?”
Blackthorne: “Yes. But there are mitigating circumstances. Serious miti- “
Toranaga: “There are no ‘mitigating circumstances’ when it comes to rebellion against a sovereign lord!”
Blackthorne: “Unless you win.”
Toranaga looked at him intently. Then laughed uproariously. “Yes, Mister Foreigner…you have named _the one _mitigating factor.”

The second type is a bit more subtle. This type of tyrant is adept at coming up with excuses for why his tyranny is “for the greater good”. You need to give up a little freedom here…for the greater good. You need to pay more in taxes…for the greater good. You can’t have this…for the greater good. You can’t do that…for the greater good.

And one “greater good” after another and soon you find yourself in a straitjacket so tight you can’t breath.

The problem here is that many people buy into the “greater good” arguments. And it’s always a “greater good” to come. When it doesn’t happen, as is the case most of the time, there’s always an excuse. And the excuse is usually whatever you had to give up for that “greater good” you didn’t give up enough. You have to give up more.

And the very extent that people, even those being restricted by the tyranny, believe the “greater good” argument, and if you resist the tyranny in their mind you are the “bad guy”. And, yes, even if you win, you remain the “bad guy” in their minds.

But in this type of tyranny the tyrant remains somewhat limited. He has to at least have some sort of plausible “greater good” for the tyrannies he wants to implement. It doesn’t have to be real, just plausible enough to convince people with limited information (and the tyrant always makes sure they have limited information). The tyrant doesn’t have to believe the arguments. Better, indeed, if he doesn’t (and we’ll get to that in a moment), but plenty of people will.

And so you don’t have to fight the tyrant, but all the people who willingly go along with him because they believe it’s for “the greater good.”

The third type, and the one who is truly the worst, is the true believer, the one who really does believe the tyranny is for “the greater good.” Whereas the non-believer has to concoct a plausible argument for why the tyrannies are necessary for the greater good, the true believer has no such limitation. The true believer only has to convince himself and the human capacity for self-delusion is without limits. While there are limits to how far the openly self-interested tyrant or the deceptive tyrant can go the self-deluded “world saver” seeking “the greater good” has none. He will fill the extermination camps with bodies, send millions to the gulags, “persecute to death” any number, and will feel virtuous doing so.

And his sincerity can be more convincing than the deliberate deception of the second type leading to thousands, even millions of willing accomplices in his tyranny.

Left vs. Right

Possibly the best representation I’ve seen yet although one might argue where the various societies actually fall on the curve. (I would submit that there is quite a bit less overlap between “Current ‘war’ addicted U.S.A.” and “Most of current Europe” than is shown.)

One could make it a single axis with government control and power to the left and individual liberty and responsibility to the right but by putting them on different axes you acknowledge that some societies can fall not on the curve shown but inside, between it and the axes, having less of both government control and power and individual liberty and responsibility. After all, it’s quite possible for a government to disproportionally restrict individual liberty relative to its overall size and power. Likewise it’s possible for people’s liberty to be restricted by means other than the government they live under. I have elsewhere used the example that being able to get on your roof with a rifle defending your home from barbarians is liberty. Having to constantly do so (and therefore not being able to be free to pursue other pursuits) because the barbarians are ubiquitous is not. Thus, it’s possible for a society to be inside the curve, between it and the axes. The curve, however, represents an outer limit. It is simply not possible to have a great deal of individual liberty and responsibility and a government with a lot of control and power.

But note down there at the lower right. “Threshold of impossibility”.

I have noted elsewhere that at some level someone will get together with some others and combine to impose their will by force on others. Unchecked, this becomes government, since that’s what government is, really, the license to use force to compel obedience. They vary endlessly in form and scope but that one point remains the defining factor.

When that group does get together, the only way to stop them is for others to get together. That requires organizing in defense against them. The problem there is the “free rider” problem. In a strictly voluntary organization an individual benefits not to pay for that organized defense, so long as somebody does. The problem is that each individual has that same incentive: let somebody else pay for it. This is the classic free-rider problem. The end result is either a few people end up disproportionately carrying the burden or the whole things falls apart. And so, those arranging the defense end up, they must end up, compelling contribution from others. And so you have government.

And so we have an irreducible minimum, kind of like a Zero Point Energy of government. You can’t completely get rid of government. Best you can hope to do is to keep it pruned back and kept to the ideals of “to secure these rights”.

Even that goal is highly optimistic and requires a great deal of “socialization” to responsible self rule to implement. We’re nowhere close to being able to implement such a thing. And, so, the best we can hope for is to maybe, with prodigious effort, move things fractionally in that direction.

And given the state of our electoral affairs, I’m not even sure that’s achievable in the short to medium term.