Ezra Klein, Constitutional Asshat

This video of Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein has been making the rounds.  Apparently, the Constitution is a little too hard for him to understand because it’s so (gasp) old.

Ok, I know that’s not exactly what he was trying to say.  Mr. Wonk here was just arguing that the founding document of this country is open to some measure of judicial interpretation.  Though, it almost appears here that he’s dismissing the use of any legal framework that’s open to such interpretation.  How can any system function with such ambiguity?

I think he’s actually chafing against the constraints of any legal framework at all.  The following quote I think gives a truly frightening view into the mind of Mr. Wonky Wonk Wonk (h/t):

The problem with the Nazis was that they were genocidal white supremacists with an appetite for continental hegemony. To invoke them in order to tar, by association, privatization, or “appeasement,” or socialist policies, or other policies that were not related to their murderous crimes is a noxious debate tactic that should be widely and rapidly condemned

Yeah, that was a clarification he added to a post praising the economic miracle of Nazi Keynesianism, as if their economic policy could be decoupled from their totalitarianism.  If you think that, I have this neat little book for you, and it’s a quick read.  In Mr. Wonkster’s little Fascist brain, if the Nazis just eased up on the death camps and the foreign invasions, they would have been a perfectly fine regime.   It’s like he learned his political philosophy from bad Star Trek episodes.

Needless to say, if if that’s the only thing you find objectionable about the Nazis, you may just have some problem getting the concept of a constitutionally limited government with strictly enumerated powers.

Arbitrary Government

One thing that eludes Statists of all stripes is the fact that the more discretion the State has to act, the more prone it is to manifest the baser aspects of human nature.  When the State is free to act as it will, it becomes as petty, vindictive, stupid and arbitrary as its constituent bureaucrats.  It becomes a question not of following laws and regulations, but who you happen to annoy.  And just because you’ve only heard this once or twice doesn’t mean it’s an isolated incident.  Since the State’s agents wield a great deal of power because of intimidation it stands tor reason that there are many more abuses than people actually report simply because few people are willing to piss these people off.


Writing tip:

If you want to really do this, you can’t complain about lacking the time.  If you lack the time, it’s only because you have placed things higher on the priority list than actually writing.

Things like blogging. . .

That is all.

Why the FCC imposing Net Nutrailty is a Bad Thing

Talking about this.

Most of the supporters of the move may be correct in the effect of the proposed rules.  In fact the problem with the FCC has very little to do with exactly what they are attempting to do, even though it is a solution still in search of a problem.  The problem is that the FCC has absolutely no jurisdiction in the area.  The idea that they should be allowed to go forward after both courts and the legislature have said they don’t have the authority just because this particular rule by executive fiat is not that objectionable is absurd and shows a political naïveté that borders on the pathological. After all, what could be wrong with letting executive power do whatever the hell it wants to do without regard to the courts or the legislature, after all we all know that when executive power is unchecked it is never ever used to impose political orthodoxy, suppress dissent and persecute dissidents. It’s not like we would ever again elect a chief executive that wasn’t all rainbow progressive smiley faces. . .

Dear Liberals: when you advocate executive power grabs like this for the sake of political expediency, you are handing the successor regime the power to do whatever it likes, and I doubt you all will be happy with that outcome. Don’t believe me? Look at all the unhappy Conservatives who gave the executive branch obscene powers when their guy was in charge.

You really don’t think this can have a bad outcome?  If the FCC has jurisdiction, how long before it starts regulating content?  You really want to see fines on bloggers for saying fuck this shit?

Still here

The quiet is due to me working on Marked, the new project that (at the moment) supersedes the NaNoWriMo novel.  I’m working on that one because, even though the NaNoWriMo project has more words, Marked is in a state closer to completion.  This is primarily due to having written a proposal for it for Eleanor to shop around, so I have a detailed outline of the yet unwritten bits.  The benefit there is the fact that all the little plot decisions, including those about pacing and scene order, are made for me so when I get to 80K words, the draft will be a lot closer to its final form.  The 50K from NaNoWriMo needs serious plot/pacing/scene revision before it counts as being anywhere close to done.

Anyway, still alive, activity on the Blog and Facebook to the contrary.

If I don’t blog before then, Merry Christmas.

Upgrading is a dangerous thing. . .

Well I applied the security update to WordPress and everything went fine, then I tried to upgrade my calendar plugin, and it nuked the whole site.  You will notice the calendar is now gone. . .

I’m going to have to look for a more stable plugin, I don’t want to deal with that again.

No one has said this about Wikileaks

At least no one I’ve seen.  But the U.S. Government should be damn thankful this happened the way that it did.  We dodged a major bullet that could have been way, way, more damaging than this debacle has been.  How could this have possibly been worse, you ask?

Simple.  What if Private Bradley Manning had not been interested in embarrassing us, and was more interested in harming us?  Would he have gone to a public website with his trove of secrets our Government had failed properly to secure?  Or would he have gone to our actual adversaries, say Iran, or China, or Venezuela, or Russia?  What would have been the result?  Well, it would not have been made public, the recipients would be all too eager to continue exploiting this hole.  This information could have leaked out of the State Department sieve for years, radically altering the results of our diplomacy with no one the wiser.

This way, at least, the U.S. is aware of everything that’s been compromised which minimizes the damage.  (Think, what good would cracking the Enigma have been in WWII if the BBC started broadcasting intercepted Nazi communications?  Not very.)

What worries me is the fact the hole was so damn large that I find it hard to believe that Private Manning was the first to think of exploiting it.

I owe someone at SF Signal a beer.

Here’s the podcast.  They review their best-of-2010 lists and I actually got props from two of their panelists for Heretics.  I’m starting to get nervous, what if John doesn’t like the final book?

Also, watch that podcast, I’ll be recording an interview for them this week. I will let everyone know when it gets scheduled.

Utopias again

So Charlie Stross has posted a lament about the dearth of Utopias in SF of late.  If you follow my blog, you may already have a good idea of what I think about that.  There are several issues I have with his post. (Probably all having to do with us being so politically opposed to each other that if we collaborated on a story, the manuscript would annihilate itself in a burst of gamma radiation.)  I mean, when I read the following:

Burkean conservativism tends to be skeptical of change, always asking first, “will it make things worse?” This isn’t a bad question to ask in and of itself, but we’re immured a period of change unprecedented in human history (it kicked off around the 1650s; its end is not yet in sight) and basing your policies on what you can see in your rear-view mirror leaves you open to driving over unforseen pot-holes.

I tend to see the false dilemma created by assuming that conservative policies are the only ones that fail to forsee potholes. I mean, look at all the great centralized economies of the 20th Century. But that’s neither here nor there.  What Stross would like to see is an attempt to deal with the future in a positive manner:

We need — quite urgently, I think — plausible visions of where we might be fifty or a hundred or a thousand years hence: a hot, densely populated, predominantly urban planetary culture that nevertheless manages to feed everybody, house everybody, and give everybody room to pursue their own happiness without destroying our resource base.

Ok, I can see that.  But even that paragraph starts radiating the inherent bias that gives the lie to the final clause.  All Utopias, since they ARE the solution, are synthetic monocultures that accept no dissent.  The above essentially tells us in this particular “Utopian” vision, we all must adapt to densely-packed urban living.  Those who much prefer to live in a small town or rural environment would be SOL when it comes to peruse their happiness.  But we can fix that, by controlling the population…  Ooops, now we have China.

The problem is inherent in one of Stross’ premises:

[…] we should be able to create a new golden age of utopian visions. A global civilization appears to be emerging for the first time. It’s unstable, unevenly distributed, and blindly fumbling its way forward. But we have unprecedented tools for sharing information; slowly developing theories of behavioural economics, cognitive bias, and communications that move beyond the crudely simplistic (and wrong) 19th century models of perfectly rational market actors […]

There is the assumption that some universal global order is inevitable and in some sense desirable. It’s neither. It is not inevitable because the cultural and societal norms across the entire planet are divergent enough that a truly universal social order is only going to be possible by either making it so diffuse as to be largely irrelevant, or so powerful that it can crush the outlying populations into a thin paste. It is not desirable because you are giving your whole social order a single point of failure. With a single global order, you insure that when things finally go pear-shaped (and the one immutable rule of history is that things will) it takes down the whole planet with it. Our current series of crises are a demonstration of the principle: If Greece had bankrupted itself fifty years ago, no one would have cared.

So one answer to Stross’ final lament:

Because historically, when a civilization collapsed, it collapsed in isolation: but if our newly global civilization collapses, what then …?

Is to say, “don’t put all your eggs in that particular basket.”

Everyone does this different.

From another Steve I have linkage to Jeff VanderMeer showing some of the process of revision he goes through, sending pages of his manuscript to red pencil nirvana. It’s interesting to me, because I’m somewhat a polar opposite when it comes to revision. If I didn’t ask for critiques from third parties, I might not ever have an actual hard copy of the MS until the publisher sends me the copy edits. In order to show you anything truly equivalent, I need to show you this:

That’s my process.  When I do my revisions, I basically clone a new copy of the MS (which is usually separated into a different Word Document for each chapter) and do my edits on the computer on the new copy.  Above is fairly typical.  I end up with four to five folders with different drafts.  And a “final” which is what goes off to the editor.