Of Mice and Pontiffs

Image result for mouse pope

 

It’ll be as a slow eternal drip of ‘you’re a piece of shit’ until you too die among your own waste in a hospital bed attended by bored and surly interns.

 

So I found a sick mouse. It appeared to be an infant. It emitted adorable squeaks and had little tiny people hands. Some have called me a chauvinist asshole. I submit this story as proof that I’m at least 25 percent chic.

Instead of stomping it with my doc martins (which to be honest may have been more merciful) I tried to nurse it back to health. Unsuccessfully mind you because when I returned home from work the little pestilence had expired.

Besides the fact that it was barely walking I think it was dehydration that had truly done it in. If you are a dirty hippy like me and can’t stand to let nature slay the weak here are some pointers that may help if you come across a sick or injured rodent/squirrel/bogwraith.

Image result for bog wraith
I can haz cheezeburger?

First and foremost find out if there’s a wildlife rescue center. The one near me advises not to give the buggers food or water and just take them straight there. By the time I found the damned thing the place was closing. They have a Dropbox so all that would have happened was it would have died in a dropbox. Unless there’s somebody there behind closed doors afterhours which I sort of doubt.

If you can’t take it to a rescue center Qtips with water or goatsmilk might be the right decision. Even better if you happen to have a syringe. Mice eat broccoli etc. Do a websearch.

Annoyingly enough when I got home there was yet another sick mouse in the middle of my living room. Ugh…just as I’d sat down with my coffee to listen to my favorite E-pundits the damned thing squeaked. I’m surprised my giant hound dog didn’t try to off it. Could be the spots on the poor things back. Looked like wee tumors. Tragic, I put him in a box with the dead one and tried giving it water. It just sat there and as far as I know was buried or let go by a family member while I napped.

So, that and general fatigue are why I failed to post anything of substance yesterday. This little tragedy gives me some fodder for pontificating. Let’s have a philosophical wank shall we?

If I had come across these mice as a brood or as an adult I may have slain them on sight. They are after all disease carrying little vectors. Sure if it was a mom with nursing pups I may have released them in a field far from home. But getting gassed at animal control is probably more merciful than being dismembered by owls. Holy shit owls are awesome.

25+ Majestic Owls Caught On Camera | Bored Panda
I can see the damned.

Yet, because it was an infant and alone and sick (which means it might have been carrying an infection mice have very similar immunological systems so I’m kind of a retard) I felt the need to try to help it. Which may have something to do with me being a chic and wired to respond to an infants cry but I’m going to use this to say it had to do with numbers and health.

It’s easier to kill a platoon with a machine gun then it is to shoot a guy on a bagel run. Mice are quick little blurs of grey lightning that appear when you turn on the kitchen light. I don’t have much mercy for grey lightning. Definitely not the same amount as I do for a little squeaking thing that takes pathetic sips of water and stares at you with a pleading half lidded gaze.

So I suppose the conclusion from all of that is the banality of evil. Or rather how it unfolds. War is a shitty thing, that is just as destructive if not more destructive than murder, yet war is a hell of a lot easier than murder. Too easy in my opinion which is why we should be cautious about entering conflicts. There’s a primordial itch in all of us to secure our futures by any means necessary and its easy to excuse scratching it if the perceived enemy is numerous, healthy, and strong.

It’s also odd how it’s easier to care for a sick animal than a sick person. I think this too has to do with agency and capacity. People can hurt your feelings, and if they’re not making efforts to heal, it can get really frustrating. It can get downright hellish if you lose your temper with a sick person because sick people understand what you’re saying while yelling at a mouse freaks it out momentarily at worst.

There’s no finer torture than losing your temper with a terminal human. It’ll be as a slow eternal drip of ‘you’re a piece of shit’ until you too die among your own waste in a hospital bed attended by bored and surly interns. We still have a long way to come in end of life care, especially for the elderly, not only institutionally but personally on an individual level. It’s too often a thing that’s pushed out of mind until it’s too late to adequately prepare for.

Finally, let’s talk a bit about death itself and how to handle it. I don’t consider myself particularly wise or learned but I have paid attention to the thing for some time now. I think the healthiest thing is to view it as a passage as part of the same process that gave you life. Why should you want to live forever? Isn’t deterioration or one of the myriad accidents that can occur a sort of blossoming of its own that’s part of the rich garden of experience. I’m not Catholic I promise. I don’t get off on suffering and I don’t encourage it. I’m just saying it happens and suffering about suffering doesn’t make much sense especially for the sufferer. This is not by the way something you should say bluntly to a suffering person because that would make you a right cunt.

I think it is important to follow the instinct for life, to try to maintain your health, while being aware that your quinoa and yogurt diet won’t make you immortal and that you don’t want to be immortal anyway. Try to stay fit and capable of having a full range of experience without turning life into Lent.

That’s my mouse inspired pontificating. Hope you enjoyed. Since this was a bit of sermonizing please add to the collection plate in the patreon link if you can. A thousand mice will be freed from purgatory I promise.

Image result for benny hinn


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Fractal Radio | Episode 16 – Why I Wear Ties – Indie Mindset

 

 


A brief vlog about how to take yourself seriously without the crutch of approval from large institutions and general society. And how this attitude of mindfulness and purpose will keep you creative and stay the creeping hand of boredom.


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‘Don’t Datamine Me Bro’ – Taser, Axon, Skynet? (Part II)

Image result for axon the bunker


 

I was born in 1989. A mere 29 years ago and despite my ‘youth’ I still feel odd about cloud storage.

A radical shift happened in the new millennium. All my childhood and adolescent visions of precincts with tidy file cabinets of records attended to by harried cops and clerks no longer hold sway.

The question is…Is it a good thing?

Answering that question is difficult. At least in my estimation. This is because I don’ trust things that seem obvious.

Axon’s new SaaS database/analytics solutions for police records and evidence seems to be a game changer. I’m sure that departments have already been using cloud storage and other digital age solutions for at least a decade.

But this Axon partnership seems to be a step further. A step further in that it appears from my cursory research to be a form of outsourcing.

From a first assessment, this digitization and delegation is a lifesaver both metaphorically and literally. Better records, that are processed faster, and organized more efficiently give departments, citizens, and litigators more time to focus on problems rather than bookkeeping. This means that the overworked cops mentioned above may be a touch less burdened both in terms of paperwork and psychologically.

Real-time data capture and analysis will assure officers that their actions won’t be misconstrued and used against them. Which makes it easier to deploy policing solutions with confidence. Something that we all want since a cop who is less unsure of what to do due to the mercurial nature of social trends and court proceedings won’t get as much decision fatigue. Which means he’ll probably make fewer decisions that will lead to unnecessary injury or death.

Further, this high tech solution will give plaintiffs, defendants, and judges better and faster information. Information that is arguably less likely to be subject to human error. The time required to dig through ‘snail mail’ era police records and ascertain their validity will be lessened freeing up those famous court system bottlenecks.

This all seems rather rosy. Which is why I’m suspicious.

I am not suspicious of Axon, or the police, or technology. I’m suspicious of overconfidence.

There is ample precedent for people misinterpreting statistics and being swayed by the hard-nosed allure of data. ‘The numbers don’t lie.’

The latter statement may be true. But it’s truth is highly conditional. First, you have to have the right numbers, then you have to be able to understand what the numbers mean, and then taking that accurate data with your accurate interpretation and contextualize it.

“Well, it’s right there on camera!”

“The taser counter happened here.”

“This car was at this location at this hour.”

Etc…

All these things seem very certain. We do have a fairly robust system for weeding out overconfidence. But I fear it isn’t robust enough.

Goodyear’s article in The New Yorker gives one example that bolsters my concern.

Brendon Woods, an accomplished public defender in Alameda County, California gave a statement describing how “increased technology normally disadvantages the defense.” That seemingly infallible ‘scientific verification’ like DNA, fingerprinting, etc. biased courts towards the plaintiff. Despite this, he is uncertain that body cameras will follow this disturbing trend. “They’ve given us a fuller picture of the police interactions at the time. In the past, police have shaded evidence to comport with the narrative they want to portray. They can’t do it when it’s on video.”

As trite as it may be the phrase, “Where there’s a will there’s a way” holds true.

There are already examples that cameras like most other tools are controvertible evidence.

In 2014, Marion County, Florida, officers kicked and punched a man in the head in an effort to subdue him, yelling, “Stop resisting!” After this initial video where the officers performed lines for their Body Cameras that would justify their behavior another video from a fixed point camera on a building nearby surfaced. It showed the man run into a parking lot and lie down on the pavement, waiting to be arrested. The officers get there and begin the aforementioned assault.

My chief concern as I have said is overconfidence. Having supposedly hard evidence like video footage or DNA makes us just a touch too certain. Digitizing police records and the analysis of those records may have many pros. But I think the above episode does an excellent job of shedding light on some of the cons.

Cons that I think we should really thrust into the public conscious. Not so we can do away with these technological advances but so that we do not misuse them. Because it is not the technology that will most often cause the issue but misuse.

“The technology is the easy part. The human use of the technology really is making things very complex.” Says criminologist Michael White.

There is a variety of ways that the use of footage varies by region. Technology researcher for the ACLU, Jay Stanley says effective body camera use depends on such questions as. “When was it activated? Was it turned off? How vigorously are those rules enforced? What happens to the video footage, how long is it retained, is it released to the public? These are the questions that shape the nature of the technology and decide whether it just furthers the police state.”

I will discuss these questions and many others surrounding this issue in the next part of this series. (Like complications of outsourcing. I didn’t forget it I promise.) Thanks for reading.


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Fractal Radio | Episode 14 – Shortcut to your Nostalgia Circuits

 


So I was doin a bit of studying and stumbled on a U2 song with a sweet and simple (somewhat trite) lyrics ‘you’ve been everywhere.’ Which got me to pondering the funny way music and glib phrasing allows us to overlay our own lives and interpretations over a piece.

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I’m not much of a U2 fan but here’s the song so you get a better feel for what I mean.

‘Don’t Data Mine Me Bro’ | Taser, Axon, Skynet? (Part One)


However faintly the frantic words ‘don’t tase me bro’ still probably echo in the popular imagination.

Subduing a nebbish university student for an uncouth question is arguably the wrong way to use a taser.

Is there a right way? Figuring that out has been the business of Taser and the various departments implementing this ‘stunning’ new tool since the companies inception.

I draw my information from Dana Goodyear’s The New Yorker article, Fred Reed’s columns, and a policing website.

I chose to cover this story column style in my online magazine because it’s one of those things with lots of intersections. Which is very ‘fractal.’

Mr. Fred Reed is a Vietnam veteran, expatriate who continues a long career of writing books, and columns from Mexico. I stumbled on his material many a year ago and have never regretted it. He is able to provide accurate insights with a caustic wit as spicy as any salsa in his new home.

Image result for fred reed mexico
Mr. Reed

He spent some time riding with people in what he terms ‘The Street Trades’ (Police, Firemen, Paramedics). Something particularly salient to the current discussion and invaluable in navigating troubled times.
I was surprised to find that officers fire their weapons far less than I thought. Police funding often proves inadequate and departments aren’t left with too much ammunition to shoot down a range. There is also the thing that if one takes the trouble to notice has always made sense.

It’s pretty surprising…I feel a tad odd writing it but..you don’t want cops to be used to combat situations. As a rule, an officer will try to avoid using his firearm. Though some troubled areas of the country may indeed be battlefields, and many officers former soldiers, the police are not soldiers. Live fire, and mortal struggle are things that they avoid. Descalation is the better part of policing.

Readiness can vary wildly from department to department each having unique degrees of perennial public sector problems of recruitment, retention, funding, and corruption.

Fred Reed enlightened me to the fact that policemen often mutter ‘I’m going home tonight.’ Going home is something we don’t think about. It is something we don’t think about because the police think about it.

I’m as far removed from hero worship and starry-eyed delusions about ‘our boys in blue’ as Mr. Reed (a tireless critic of all stripes of OO-RAH culture despite being a former Marine). This is because while the details are fuzzy and likely over-romanticized by my writer’s brain I experienced something in Moscow.

Yes, twenty-nine years ago I was born in Russia. Which is a place like any other with wonders and horrors sprinkled in whimsical arbitrary quantities throughout the land. One of the wonders is the Moscow theater one of the horrors, a commonplace among metropolises ‘fucked up cops.’

Image result for moscow theater
Typical vodka swilling statist brutalism.

So when I wax lyrically about ‘our streets are safe due to their sacrifice’ I’m not doing it from some hickish Carolina naivete.

As a boy of six or so about to descend the stairs to the subway station, I saw two strong young looking officers man handle an old woman. My mother told me to turn away. Pulling me along and muttering something about staying out of trouble with the government.

I’m absolutely certain that this is not the rule for police in Moscow or anywhere. But I do have eyewitness experience of what certainly looked like police brutality and the cultural unwillingness of bystanders to intervene. While details may be fuzzy I vividly recall this episode as being the very first time I was mad at the whole world.

More recently I witnessed the overzealous prosecution of a close friend following a domestic dispute. I am not entirely certain that the officers didn’t fib. The plaintiff lost thanks to a level-headed judge but nonetheless, I have a sufficiently nuanced experience with law enforcement to say…

It is inarguable that policing is necessary and (along with an educated populace functioning in a relatively health economy) the reason why our streets are for the most part safe, most of the time.

They are safe because the police despite their many shortcomings are an effective deterrent.

The current political climate has thrust cops from one extreme of the spectrum to the other. Rather than erring on the bumpkin’s default idolization of the police they have painted them as overwhelmingly incompetent and evil.

This is a wrongheaded and very dangerous sentiment. All I need to cite for evidence are the murders of five police officers at the Dallas Police Protest in 2016.

Portraying the police as malicious, pig-headed racists can lead to no other outcome.

Which is why it is important to present the reality.

The reality being that the police are human, they vary wildly, in creed, color, and favorite pizza topping. Yes, we should expect them to set a high ethical bar. But we can’t expect them to be superhuman.

Fred Reed asks a very good question in his column ‘Test yourself in a dark alley.’
Imagine chasing a suspect down a dark alley and he pulls something out of his pocket, or whirls about, or lunges at you. It’s dark, many departments are understaffed, you’re likely overworked and tired…this guy might be somebody over reacting to a breakup or it might be a guy with a knife, gun, hell a machete isn’t unheard of. What do you do as the adrenaline builds?

Obviously, this problem is a sad reality of life. Excessive force and deadly violence are not you see just a police problem these are human problems.

Solving these problems will prove to be as complex as the story I found in the August 27th, 2018 issue of The New Yorker.

The story (Shock to the System) is by that publications former editorial staff member and active staff writer Dana Goodyear who covered the transition of LTL manufacturer Taser into Axon. Axon is Taser 2.0 with a stated mission of becoming the ‘public safety nervous system’ via cameras, databases, and AI-powered analysis.

The tale is long multifaceted and has more rabbit trails than all of Appalachia. Which is why in order to do it justice I must turn this piece into a series and promise to publish the rest within the coming week. I have a safety audit at my day job tomorrow and need to brush up all the little acronyms and mnemonics that spell job security for that marginalia known as management. Apparently memorizing lists satisfies inspectors more than a robust series of exercises. But I digress…


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Fractal Radio| Episode 13 – Taser, Axon, SKYNET?


Dana Goodyear (The New Yorker) recently visited Axon, formerly Taser. I use this story as a springboard for a discussion on policing, surveillance, and citizenship.


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https://www.policeone.com/patrol-issues/articles/60959006-7-of-the-biggest-issues-facing-law-enforcement-in-2016/

Read the Reed

https://fredoneverything.org/tales-from-the-street-trades-things-you-probably-dont-want-to-know/

https://fredoneverything.org/squad-car-dreams/

https://fredoneverything.org/christmas-in-the-street-trades/

https://fredoneverything.org/test-yourself-in-a-dark-alley/

https://fredoneverything.org/my-biochemistry-made-me-do-it-confessions-of-a-genetic-subroutine/

https://fredoneverything.org/lynching-zimmerman-and-the-coming-race-war-in-america/

https://fredoneverything.org/some-things-detwaddled-cops-race-that-sort-of-tlhings/

https://fredoneverything.org/community-policing-rounds-and-around-and-back-again/

https://fredoneverything.org/racial-profiling-the-view-from-a-squad-car/

Fractal Radio | Episode 12 – Public Safety Nervous System?


A brief overview of some grim realities of the street trades and one companies proposed solution to violence.

The connection between Mr. Reed’s points and The New Yorker article by Mr. Goodyear will become more apparent in later videos.

Apologies for the ‘minimalist’ approach today but I’m pressed for time.


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Fractal Radio| Episode 9 – Jointly Venturing into Vanity Fair


I just received an issue of Vanity Fair as a free gift for my subscription to The New Yorker. I discuss some of the articles therein and do a series of riffs on various topics including those found in my most recent essay: Pop Psych Perils

Edit: Trink bis auf dem grund translates ‘to the bottom’ not without a reason. I’m pretty sure that’s correct. But I already messed up once so maybe better you don’t trust my attempts at worldliness.


Topics Discussed

Trink Bruder Trink

merLOT

American Zen Revisited

Mail – Little Fears + Vanity Fair Why

Vanity Fair? | Because Hitchens

George Lucas

Howard the Duck!

Pop Psych Perils

Pop Evo Psych

‘Neo-Freudian’

My Psych Professor

Suits are Zen

Caution is Due Diligence in Science and Life

Maintenance and Progress

Fiddle Tune

More Vanity Fair

It Repenteh Tim Burners Lee

Fake News Discussion

Critical Thinking and Responsibility are the Answer Not Censorship

Plans for Future Content

Sketch of Sam Monroe Discussion

Psychedelic PSA

Virtues of Ascetic Discipline

Fin


   If ya dig it too…

Little Fears| https://littlefears.co.uk/


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Pop Psych Perils

One of my favorite articles on this topic is David J. Ley’s ‘No, Dopamine is not addictive.’Which is published in Psychology Today. There are however deeper and more complex perils at play in the age of information.

The reason that I find the aforementioned article particularly salient is because it touches on something that I call ‘facility delusion.’ Which is a rather awkward way of codifying an even more unwieldy idea. Namely, that technical jargon and the perception that one has grasped some concrete knowledge leads one to dangerous overconfidence. In the case of dopamine, it reduces your range of solutions to your problems and causes you to misinterpret and diminish the struggles of others.

As the meme goes, ‘We live in a society!’ And that means lots of complex interactions from even more complicated beings. The temptation to simplify is understandable even necessary but oversimplification is just as obfuscating as ‘Inception’ style convolutedness.

Now on to a bigger, uglier, stinkier fish. Think Coelacanth, it’s fitting since this fish is actually Evo Psych.

Image result for coelacanth

Evolutionary psychology is like psychology itself a young and emerging field. Like its parent discipline, it relies on a heady combination of biological nostrums, social statistics, and Freudian speculation.

I happen to be somewhat infatuated with this sexy new idea. But just like the blonde in the littleblack dress it’s probably better to take things slow, with skepticism, and prophylactics.

Caution is rare, especially in romantic situations. Which is why so many courters of this cute little theory are a touch overeager.

Primarily I am talking about lay people of whom I am a number. I have seen some professional academics turned raconteurs get a bit carried away. But, the likes of Peterson and Gad Saad suffer more from overzealous audience members than from serious errors. Which is why I’ll be discussing popular conceptions of Evo Psych and the giddy cynics that it both attracts and manufactures.

Narrowing your range of options can be healthy. In fact, focusing on specific aspects of specific phenomenon in a specific way is pretty much how science works. However, relying too much on a particular lens can make you nearsighted.

As funny as it sounds, myopia, is exactly what I’ve been seeing. The popular imagination wants to feel smart, gritty, and down to earth. So, everything is seen in pseudo-Darwinian terms. Breaking things down to limbic forces forged in the crucible of a dog eat dog world gives us a cynicism boner. Dr. House is in! Now we’re armed with all we need to spit forth world-weary, sarcasm-tinged, wisdom to the bewildered herd. We can break their rose-colored glasses and reveal the truth in all its chaotic primordial fury!

Image result for dr house
Cheeky!

That would be great if what we had was the truth. But sadly we don’t even have a very clear grasp of evolutionary psychology when we smugly opine about things like Sexual Market Value or ‘genetics.’

Evolutionary psychology is psychology that functions from the perspective of evolution. Assuming that evolution is true it uses the theory to explain neurology, general biology, and behavior.

Which is all well and good. The problem is not evo psych. It is Pop Evo Psych. The problem is that evo psych gives us insights into biological and behavioral mechanisms, it explains how those mechanisms arose, and why (Adaptation). It tells you that this is a car and that it functions so and so because it makes sense to function so and so, you are well adapted to be on roads etc. But it doesn’t tell what roads you are on.

The giddy cynics that I’m describing don’t realize this. Instead, everything is a comically oversimplified, edge lord-esque, set of ideas. You’re not depressed because your spouse cheated on you, your dog died, and your friends are listless idiots, you’re depressed because your mother was depressed. Your love interest isn’t a complicated barely scientifically understood entity that rejected you for mercurial reasons. No, your market value wasn’t high enough. Better hire a PR firm, preferably one sporting fuzzy hats and designer sunglasses.

Image result for mystery pickup artist
Peacockus Maximus

The sexual market value idea has merit. Some of it can be supported via biology and evolutionary psychology. However, immediately jumping to it as the cause for your relationship woes is silly. Just because we have primordial urges, that it may be the engine that drives the car that we are, this does not mean it is the road we’re traveling on.

There’s a huge emergent world of complex phenomenon like philosophy, ethics, art, and culture that comprise the highway system of human existence.

So when you feel lost in your relationship, in your understanding of the world, if you’re depressed or anxious this can be a multitude of things. Most of which don’t have much to do with the fact that you’re low on some arbitrary totem pole or attracted to pithy inattentive men.

The world is not a sterile laboratory. The world is dirty and baroque.

Monochromatically chanting the muh genes, muh secks mantra will leave you bored and lost. No matter how slick you feel reducing everything to chimpanzee absurdity.


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References

http://www.anth.ucsb.edu/projects/human/evpsychfaq.html

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/theory-knowledge/201601/the-is-psychology-science-debate

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/women-who-stray/201701/no-dopamine-is-not-addictive

https://evolution-institute.org/all-psychology-is-evolutionary-psychology/

Fractal Radio|Episode 6 – Prager U – Manly Man Reaction of Manliness


Came across an annoying Prager U clip oversimplifying the role of men in society.

Am I a triggered snowflake for reacting or am I manly manhood defined for standing up and voicing my opinion? You decide. No, screw that, I decide because

RAAAAAAAAAAAH! Look at my pecs. Yo.


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