hard heads soft hearts
Friday, January 25, 2013
My primary emotion on Aaron Swartz's suicide is regret I didn't speak out against the treatment of him. In his brief life Aaron Swartz was a man who, to an incredible extent, never cold-shouldered, turned away or withheld his hand from anyone, and I wish we had done the same for him. My primary memory is of Vince Foster's suicide, and John Brummett's chapter on Foster:
My primary thought is that we need better metrics for prosecutors. 2 suggestions: 1) the proportion of charges that a prosecutor brings that consist of BS crimes: wire fraud, mail fraud, computer fraud, perjury, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, etc. versus real crimes: murder, rape, assault. 2) the spread between the threatened charges and the plea-bargain. A lower spread means a better prosecutor.
We need less and better prosecutors, in my opinion. One person's opinion I would really welcome on this subject is Vincent Bugliosi, one of the greatest prosecutors of all time.
This Radley Balko article is good for the most part, but the attempt to equate George Zimmerman's prosecution with Aaron Swartz's is wrong, IMO. Aaron Swartz did not kill anyone, George Zimmerman killed an unarmed teenager who he pursued, chased down, and initiated an altercation with.
I think the Obama/Biden proposals on gun control are sensible and worth doing. However, I think gun control supporters should have some humility, because the worst shooting of this kind took place in Norway, a country with strong gun-control laws. There is a also a full-employment component to these shootings, it seems to me: After he dropped out of school, if Adam Lanza could have had a make-work guaranteed job, it seems to me it would have helped the situation. And I don't know whether failing school with the added burden of student loan debt increased James Holmes's bitterness.
I thought I would have nothing to say about politics, but I do have one thing: Somewhat to my surprise, perhaps regret, I find that if you want candidates to vote for in 2014, you have to start in 2013. A schedule that seems to me to make sense is November 2012-Easter 2013: campaign off-season; Easter 2013 - 4th of July 2013: platform discussions (What & Why); 4th of July 2013 - Labor Day 2013: Evaluation and/or recruitment of candidates, including current elected officials (Who); Labor Day 2013 - 2014 primary: primary campaign (How); 2014 primary dates (When). I'll have my opinions on platforms and litmus tests in my next blog post, in mid-April.
One opinion I have on a policy platform is that I don't want to vote for anyone who has not 1) constructed and/or endorsed a plan to achieve full-employment by the end of Obama's 2nd term, and having achieved it, keep it there more or less indefinitely 2) retroactively endorsed a plan that would have kept the economy at full-employment from 2007-2009, even given the strong demand shocks of that time period.
I've mentioned before that I'm a fan of the 1974 BBC adaptation of David Copperfield. I haven't mentioned my 2 favorite lines, from the first episode: "Hold your tongue, Traddles!" & "Be a man, Master Traddles!" I was so taken by Peter Bourke's performance as the (adult) Traddles, I googled him, and the first result was this heart-breaking story of rape:
"The commitments we make to each other — through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security — these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great."
"Bender: I can't see what's happening! Are we boned?
Leela: Yeah, we're boned."
". . .It is, for example, almost two years since Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles declared that we should expect a fiscal crisis within, um, two years. . ."
Two questions I wish could be asked of anyone who warned about the fiscal cliff:
1) Would the fiscal cliff have increased the deficit, or reduced the deficit?
2) Would the fiscal cliff have increased the debt, or reduced the debt?
I don't disagree with "the left" on much, but I do disagree on the call to prosecute Wall Street folk. In a way, such calls seem to me a bad symptom of our age. We don't believe in government's ability to make anybody's life better, but we still retain a touching faith in its ability to make some peoples' lives worse.
"No matter how cool we try and be, no matter how much we try and separate ourselves from the world with mirror shades and attitude, we all know that inside we're very soft people who yearn to love and to be loved and art reminds us that it is a possibility, and music connects us with that important fact about ourselves - that we love love, and that anything else is incidental, irrelevant, cynical and not interesting to us fundamentally." - Stephen Fry
"SamFry presents The Dongle of Donald Trefusis.
Episode Three: Birds Of A Feather
I lead a pretty busy life, just this side frantic some times. I rise early to attend to emails and administrative duties. The night will usually have brought in requests for assistance from most countries of the world. At eight AM sharp I walk twenty-nine miles to a gym. This achieves several things: it helps keep me trim, it allows me to listen to audio-books, podcasts, and music that help with my learning Russian, refreshing my understanding of epistemology, and the latest developments in fluid dynamics, as well as perfecting my knowledge of the back-catalogues of the Black-Eyed Peas, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins, and other pulse, vegetable or legume-related Rock combos. There's much to be said for this morning ambulation. The gym itself usually takes up forty-five minutes or an hour of squatting, lunging, crunching, curling, pressing, pushing, lifting, swinging, grunting and stretching, which ends with two hours in the steam room and a long, luxurious shower. This whole regime, from walk to emerging from the gym, which is one I manage eleven or so mornings a week, takes no more than twenty minutes. Time-management is crucial here."
"A grave injustice is often done to the reputation of Jeeves's employer, Bertram Wilberforce Wooster. Bertie is all too frequently described as a 'silly ass', a 'gaping idiot', a 'boobie', a 'vacuous imbecile.' In fact, this is distinctly unfair. Wooster may not have the giant intellect of Jeeves, but he does have one great quality, worth all the brain in the world - his good nature, his kindness, his absolute determination at all times to help his friends. Bertie is far too considerate ever to put the blame on someone else when things go awry, too chivalrous ever to repel the advances of an unwanted female, too kind to refuse a request for help."
Oscar Wilde, Stories for Children:
The Young King
"Is not He who made misery wiser than thou art?. . .
. . .and as for thy dreams, think no more of them. The burden of this world is too great for one man to bear, and the world's sorrow too heavy for one heart to suffer". . .
"Sayest thou that in this house?", said the young King, and he strode past the Bishop, and climbed up the steps of the altar, and stood before the image of Christ. . .
George Orwell: "I cannot say with certainty which of my motives are the strongest, but I know which of them deserve to be followed."
next post: 2013-04-16
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