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I can't personally abide populism, but I am intrigued how it can share such similar sentiments across the left/right spectrum. This but from John Haidt (author of "The Happiness Hypothesis")  really teases out something that's been on the tip of my tongue for a while:

We really hate cheaters, slackers, and exploiters. By far the most common message I saw at OWS was that the rich (“the 1 percent”) got rich by taking without giving. They cheated and exploited their way to the top. As if that wasn’t bad enough, we the taxpayers then had to bail them out after they crashed the economy, and so now they really owe us for saving their necks. It’s high time that they started giving back, paying what they owe.

As a point of comparison, a similar look at signs found at the Tea Party rallies suggests that protesters there are also chiefly concerned with fairness. The key to understanding Tea Partiers' morality, though, is that they want to restore the law of karma. They want laziness and cheating to be punished, and they see liberalism and liberal government as an assault on that project. The liberal fairness of OWS diverges from conservative and libertarian fairness in that liberals often think that equality of outcomes is evidence of fairness.

I think the final conclusion is somewhat unfair, something tells me most liberals can accept a level of outcome difference, but the current one feels a bit on the high side. However, the economic focus on outcomes, versus the focus on process generally is probably correct. I don't think these goals mesh together well, but it does explain why the desire to change is so strong (fairness issues are kind of the bread and butter of our social being).

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Wromanticm but Wrong

After reading this quote from "1066 and All That", I think I have a beautiful description for my philosophy of conversation now: Wrong, but Wromantic. I mean, it just grabs the gleeful enjoyment I get from grabbing the weaker side of an argument, making a go at it, and trying to have a good old time the entire way.
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There were a few extra hairs on my comb today.  Toss in a couple more extractions when Ella goes to town sitting on my shoulders, and it's pretty hard to avoid the obvious conclusion that "abandon ship" has been ordered. I'm not a particularly vain person about my appearance, but memories of being called "shaved pig" in boot camp are kind of hard to unremember. 

My intial reactions to the losses are not out of character: To hell with it- If the boys aren't strong enough to hold on, they don't deserve to be there. Still, this coping mechanism isn't without it's disadvantages as it lacks a perspective that allows for some kind of growth and proper acceptance (acceptance being the keyword, it doesn;t make me less of a man to have no hair, so fighting it goes against how I generally do things). It's still too early to start considering shaving it, or alternate combing styles, but perhaps imaging how it would look, could be useful

Ah, much better.  I feel more mature now. 

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It sure has been a while. A lifetime to be precise; not mine of course, but rather that of my seven month old daughter, Ella. At this point in her upbringing, I have to say it's been enjoyable. She sleeps most of the night, and when she does wake up, she takes a bottle and goes right back down. 

But, enough of the more banal details, this is livejournal, and this is the place and the time for the emotionally evocative, and having a baby tends to cause a lot of fervid stirrings in the soul. There's nothing quite like the look you get just before the crack of dawn when she recognizes you coming over to the crib, the smile on her face and the gleam of her eyes illuminates the dimly lit room, "You came!" she seems to say, "I'm so happy!" It can be hard to withstand such unconcealed feeling. Perhaps it's a certain fear of dwelling on such sincerity that's prevented me from coming here more often. It can be uncomfortable. 

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On Blogs and Blather

From the NY Times review of "Bird Cloud" by Annie Proulx

“I like a colorful, handily cluttered kitchen and Bird Cloud’s cabinets and drawers in red, violet, aquamarine, burnt orange, cobalt, lime, brick, John Deere green and skipjack blue inspires stir-fries, osso buco, grilled prawns, Argentinean salads of butterhead lettuce, tomato, sweet onion, roast lamb with Greek cucumber and dill sauce, frittatas, rhubarb sauce with glasses of dry Riesling for the cook. You bet.”

When I first read this I thought, "This sounds like the spam I get in my inbox." On another level, though, it kind of cuts me too. I can be as self absorbed in dense prose as the next writer that fancies his output, so who am I to snicker? It would be nice to make shorter, more to the point pieces, but that's no where near as fun; and hell, it's her book. If she can get a publisher to put out a memoir, good for her; and if I can get LJ to continue giving me free space to archive my ramblings, more power to me.

"More power to me?" Well, that was a bit presumptuous now that I look at it. Then again, a blog is all reality a self focused concept (although, to be fair, often highly influenced by what people have to say about it), so by its very nature it can be a bit immodest. Still if enjoys putting out stuff, and by chance others enjoy reading it, then it's a good thing. Which brings to mind a recent blog related discussion...

A buddy of mine recently discovered the LJ account of a close friend. She was very shocked that anyone would post this stuff in public, and read a few paragraphs from one of the girl's entries. It was composed of gorgeous prose that would swell into sublimity and crash into depressiveness. In short, perfect stuff on LJ with good writing and raw emotion. Although I have a bad habit of taking the opposite side of people's concerns (damn gadfly reflex) , in this case, I took my actual position as I consider the act of opening up in writing to be an opening up to oneself as well, and as honesty to self is almost a cardinal moral dictate to me. It even goes beyond the simple act of catharsis, as not every paragraph results in feeling better, some make us feel worse, and inasmuch as that causes us to be aware of problems that need correcting, it's a new good.

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As a water treatment guy, I feel obliged to talk about the hexavalent chromium story. A friend of mine asked me about it, and I emailed him this reply:

Hi B,

It's true inasmuch as CrVI (hexavalent chromium, as opposed to the other form Cr III, which is probably inside one of the vitamins you may have in your cabinet) has been found in tap water. A question exists as to whether most of it is from the tap itself, or in the lake proper (I lean toward a decent chunk being in the lake).

Currently, it has caused stomach cancers in mice (these expeiments tend to involve megadoses, and assume that the dose response curve goes to zero, just so the result itself isn't scary), although for people,  it's supposed to be just via inhalation as opposed to ingestion, because the acidity of our stomachs converts it to a more benign form (research is out on the topic). I believe the Erin Brockovich issue was with lung cancer to push this point home.

Still assuming that it's in the lake water (some of it most assuredly is), and it could cause stomach cancer at that exposure level (and stomach cancer is very. very rare in america), then the current treatment method is activated carbon with anonic and cationic exchange. If memory serves, the water bill in chicago is something like 500/year. If reducing stomach cancer is worth changing that cost to 5000/year (I'm being generous. I think it will be more than 10x the current cost), then the person should argue for iit. I don't think bottle water, except the ones that are distilled are going to do much better by the way. Some of the water they tested is stuff that would be used for bottled water (most just use activated carbon). I'm rather amazed hawai's water was the worst.

That all said, it's useful to know this kind of thing. It shouldn't impact day to day living, but represents one of those 'is this a priority?' issues. I'd think pharmaceuticals should come first if we're really looking to add treatment issues. Also, point source control may be something worth discussing (tanneries and paint plants are common sources), but that comes with its own issues, although most people don;t think of people moving chemical plants overseas as a bad thing, but hey, I'm just an engineer not a policy guy.

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Pregnancy and Perspicacity

As the missus enters the later stages of pregnancy, her personality is beginning to be altered by the hormones and discomfort. Nothing too significant at this point, but a healthy reminder that we are not just the sum total of our experiences and knowledge, but also of our perceptions. It is easy for a person to be aware that there is some chance that tomorrow, they will cease to be; it's another thing entirely for them to be consumed by its possibility compared to its likelihood (this isn't B's issue,  just an example that makes for an easy thought experiment). In our day to days lives this is probably one of the most important markers of our personality.

On to other issues.

Sturgeon's Law: 95% of everything is crap. A lady was discussing black movies on NPR today, and was complaining that there weren't enough quality ones out there. It then struck me that there just wasn't a lot of black cinema generally, and that was probably the true cause. It would seem that to get a few good movies there has to be enough dreck that through simple chance, a few good movies pop out. Or, perhaps just as likely, there has to be enough entertaining stuff that a few people get their fill of it and go "I want better quality," and a market is created.

Or, to shorten it up: We owe a small debt of gratitude to bad art for the couple of good things out there.
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Some things bug me...

Is the word pants plural because it covers your genitals?

Genitals is the singular of the word, but remove the 's' and it becomes genital, and adjective, so showing less reveals more?

Interestingly, it even carries over to the term private parts. Which of course, occur in one's private part. Of course, Latin has pudenda ("the thing one should feel shame about"), which was used more commonly than the singular, pudendum. Also with genitalia (pl) vs genitale (sin), the situation being called a plurale tantum.

Speaking of odd things, the word penis comes from the latin term for 'tail" (the translation of both meanings is apparently retained, as in the dogs tail, and getting some tail). The middlle english term was 'yard' (hehe),  which also meant a staff, the old english was teors (related to calamus-flag), or waepan (yes, as in weapon). Naughty words really haven't changed in form too much. Although ass, descending from arse, possibly comes from the 'ears' part of 'earsgang'.
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Why Sharing Internal Thought Processes is Dangerous

Now, disregarding the man/woman part for a moment, the comic has an interesting discourse on the inability to present viewpoints when people's temperaments differ. Even the basic idea, a TV dinner evokes different images within each of the parties -and more interestingly- in a way that's not necessarily opposed; a tv dinner can of course be both a pale imitation and compartmentalized, but it can just as easily be either too.

With viewpoints and matters of the heart in discussion, the most important part is the constructions; The guy here views his intake of emotions separately as an efficiency mechanism, thereby justifying something that may merely be his natural inclination (I say this because that seems to be what the introspections in my own head indicate). Speaking of myself, this is always a dangerous field, as it's awfully hard to describe the workings of one's head in a way that doesn't make it sound like "it's the right way." One has to be pretty coldblooded (or very badly depressed) to view their own thought processes as wrong (those 'I'm an idiot moments' shouldn't count...).

The third panel represents the reasoning why I posted this. The other day, I was asked by my sister in law "what about love?" in response to entry on shame and guilt as motivations. At first, my thoughts reflected on the fact that I commited an error I've often accused others of: Going for the less happy emotion over the sadder. In response, I considered the fact that looking at the negative repercussions of things is essentially a glass half empty view of why we do positive things as well. My argument that pain is a bigger motivator stands, but there's certainly as aspect of the more painful emotions in most of what I pay attention to, which the guy here also falls prey to. I have to face the fact I enjoy the apple cobbler of remorse quite a bit.
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Shame and Guilt

I've come to start wondering whether I'm more drive by guilt or shame. Guilt being a concern for doing what's good or bad to my own conscience, and shame being that concern for how others view my actions.

The reason the concern pops up is that I've often noted that my ideas for good or bad tend to be different from others on a consistent basis -perhaps my overexposure to history tends to leave me more accepting to pain and suffering in the abstract, but to also make me more inured to my own discomfort/inconvenience in the concrete when my aid can be useful- so my actions often go towards a shame based action with a rationalization about why I did it that way, and most likely a discussion with the person around me about why I don't consider the action I took to be optimal. This of course means I reveal a lot of my motivations to others, ironically furthering the detachment that I was striving to avoid -although I think people generally like having someone around who's willing to reveal vulnerability in a sphere most of us tend to want to avoid.

On the other hand, while I often feel the abrasion of my own ideas against other's, I often espouse the belief that rules -laws, really- are more like a game, and don't exist outside of their enforcement or voluntary recognition. Then again, i guess this is still guilt based since my main concern here is with punishment, as opposed to be shunned.

Technically, it doesn't really matter which one I'm more motivated by, as my actions are fairly self consistent, but the awareness at least would be a form of self honesty, and I'm past the point of thinking I need to be a rock holding off the rush of the sea in my morality rather than a tree, strong but also providing comfort and succor to those around me.