Monday, October 29, 2012

On Civil Discourse

So I want to start this one with a bit of a disclaimer. There will be a few unpleasant, un-politically correct, or downright offensive words in this post. I try hard not to use them in general, but given the nature of the topic, they will come up in quotations or when I paraphrase what was said. I actually know very little about the demographics of the folks that read this blog, so if there are going to be kids reading it, be responsible and talk to them about it.

I've managed to avoid talking about specific contemporary events so far, but I've been toying with this commentary for a while, and a really obvious example came up, so here we go.

This past Monday was the third presidential debate. I watched it, along with a whole lot of other people; one of those people was Ann Coulter. Now, Coulter is known for being inflammatory, and in this specific instance she tweeted "I highly approve of Romney's decision to be kind and gentle to the retard." This received a lot of attention, but there was only one piece I have read that really speaks to it well in my mind. John Franklin Stephens has written about the use of "the r-word" at some length, and this is a pretty clear example of it.

But this post isn't to denounce Coulter specifically; that was just a useful example.

Public discourse, particularly in the realm of politics, has gotten ugly over the years. My mother talks about watching William F. Buckley and disagreeing with everything he said, but respecting him nonetheless. There was a time when we could do that.

But now everything has gotten polarized to a truly frightening degree and everything is given in apocalyptic terms. If the media is to be trusted at all, large portions of the country believe that if the politician they don't like gets elected president, that it will be the end of the world as we know it. Would you like to know a secret?

That is almost certainly not the case. Things will most likely be ok either way.

Here are some more fun things: Obama isn't a socialist. If you compare his policies to those of actual socialist countries, he's at best a moderate conservative. Also, Romney isn't actually a plutocrat, and for the record, G. W. Bush wasn't/isn't a nazi. Also, no one is Hitler. I'd just like to get that stuff out of the way.

We use terms like this because they evoke emotions, and are easily understood on some base level, but they are wholly inaccurate and we should aim to converse better than that.

I have a confession to make; I am an internet arguer. I argue with people on the internet. I do it a lot. I may have a problem.  And in debates on the internet, it is very easy for things to escalate quickly and get to a point of true absurdity even faster. It's generally not very productive.

And people behave the same way in the real world, too. There are rules to civilized debate and discussion. It's commonly understood that you attack the idea, not the person, and that you articulate it the best you can. These rules have also been disregarded.

Now, please don't misunderstand me. I'm not a proponent for censorship. I don't think that I, or anyone, has the right to tell you what you can or can't say. I just don't think that is ever acceptable. What I do believe in is self-control.

I grew up doing martial arts. Any dojo worth it's salt will teach you that anger is a dangerous and foolish thing. You can also easily learn that from Star Wars. If you fight angry, you will almost certainly fight sloppy, and make mistakes. If the person you are fighting is good, they will absolutely exploit those mistakes and you will lose. If they aren't, in your uncontrolled state you may well do more damage than you intended. This is as true with words as it is with fists, as most of us know firsthand.

Have you ever gotten into an argument, gotten upset, and then hurt someone you loved by spurting out something in a fit of anger? Worse, have you ever been angry and seen that opening where you knew you could hurt them, and you took it because it was there? I think most people have at some point; I know I have. I also know I have always regretted it.

Which is why I have trained not to do that anymore.

If we want to convince people of things we need to be calm and reasonable. If we want someone to see our point of view, we need to demonstrate that point with well thought-out arguments. When you attack someone, they will go on the defensive and the conversation has ended, even if you both keep talking. Words have meanings and word choice is one of the more potent tools we have. We need to learn how to say what we mean.

So if there is a hope for rational discourse, we need to change our own behavior and our own expectations. I know that I am not perfect in this, but I'm trying. I also expect a certain level of discourse from people around me, and simply will not participate if a common level can't be found. Maybe that's a little too "I'm taking my ball and going home," but it's the only move I have. As I said, I can't tell someone what they can and can't say. I can only choose what I will respond to.

Getting mad at someone, insulting someone, hurting someone can feel really good. It's one of the less pleasant parts of human nature, but it is there. Maybe it stems from tribal living, or other hierarchical structures in human development. Maybe it stems from the fact that we are emotional and instinctual creatures before we are rational. I'm not a psychiatrist, sociologist or anthropologist, and I think you would need to be all three to hope to really answer that question.

But the fact that it is real doesn't mean it is the right way to do it. We are social animals, and if you want to succeed, you need society in one form or another so we need to learn to work together.

And that starts with our ability to actually talk to each other. Not to talk at each other, yell or attack... but the ability to actually converse.

And until we decide to make that change, things are only going to keep going down the route they have been following.

Come all you bold sea men

So I have the next real update written. I have revisions back from the people who do that for me... I just need to go over it and it'll be up.

And hopefully I will get to that today.

In case anyone doesn't know, the HMS Bounty was lost today in the storm.

I don't want to start rumors and I don't have any more information than you can find on the news right now.

14 people have been rescued, two are still missing.

I just... I don't even really know what I'm writing this for. I just need to put something down to try and calm myself down.

My deepest condolences go out to the crew, who has lost their ship and their home. And God willing those last two souls will be found safe and be returned to those that love them.

I am a little speechless right now.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Self-regulation in a free market

One of the big debates in American politics currently is the issue of regulations. You have representatives from various industries and organizations out there arguing that the government is regulating them to death.

On the other side of things you have environmental groups, workers rights groups, and consumer advocacy groups saying that we need to be putting more regulations in place to protect workers, consumers, and the environment.

On the anti-regulatory side of the argument we often hear about the concept of industry self regulating. We hear about the invisible hand of the market applying pressure to industry to regulate itself. I see this as problematic, especially given the culture of quarterly profits that our nation seems to have developed.

To really get into this issue first requires getting into the nature of the free market. In a pure capitalist society the only function of industry, at the core, is to make money. It does that by providing goods and services that people want or find beneficial. The theory is that the people will decide on the value of a thing, and pay for it accordingly. Companies will be controlled by the market and prices will be managed because if a price goes too high, or the public finds out about some terrible thing the company is doing, then another company will step in and make the same product better, or cheaper. This prevents exploitation and keeps costs down to the consumer through competition. It also protects us against monopolies.

This is predicated on a few important  things. The first of these is an educated public with the ability to make choices. Without the consumers being able to look into the business practices and actually understand them, or the ability to choose another company to do business with, the whole model breaks down quickly. I find this to be the most clear in industries that have had the luxury of creating natural monopolies in an area. Back when I lived in Baltimore, my electricity came from BGE. For a long time, there wasn't another option for energy suppliers. (Apparently there is now, but I don't honestly understand how that works. If anyone knows more about that, I'd love to talk to you.)

So if it turned out that BGE was getting their energy from mountain top removal coal mining (with which I have some pretty serious issues) I wouldn't be able to do much of anything about it. Going without electricity is certainly possible, but we should have a higher standard of living than that. BGE also pulled one of the more impressive scams I have ever seen. During the collapse in '08, people tightened their belts and one thing that happened was a pretty massive effort to conserve electricity to save money.

BGE responded to this by raising the cost of energy so they could keep their profits; Demand went down, so price went up. This is what happens when you have monopolies.

But so without a population that has access to information, and the ability to at least basically understand it the people are unable to make an informed choice. And without choices... well... I don't think I need to finish this sentence.

Now, as stated before, the point of a business, especially under this system is to make money. Their product should be beneficial to the people in one way or another, and at a price that the market agrees is fair. The practices used in its production should come out to being acceptable to the public both in terms of human resources, and environmental impact. If any of this fails to be true, theory is that the company will fail; the free market will sort it out.

There is an inherent flaw in this idea however. It is the inherent flaw in most systems, so it's not a unique problem. Humanity simply doesn't function this way. History is rife with examples, but lets start on the basic, philosophical problem.

If a company's primary goal is to make as much revenue as possible, then they are going to make their product as cheaply as they can, and sell it for as much as they can get for it. Cheap production is easy to explain. Minimizing the cost in the labor force is providing as little pay as you can, the least benefits possible. Making things safe is often expensive, so industry has an incentive to do very little to ensure it. The less you have to spend on your employees, or your company, the more potential income you have.

And as for sales prices, I don't know that anyone can deny that advertising carries at least as much, if not more weight than actual value. The definition of the "market value" is whatever the market will bear. So really, the ideal method is to create something cheaply, and convince people that it is worth a great deal of money. I know this sounds basic and obvious, but I like to make my position clear.

So this brings us to the concept of regulations. In a pure free market, the government keeps it's hands out of business and lets  the market do it's thing. The problem is, the businesses within the market have no real incentive to regulate themselves. It is cheaper, by far, to mistreat your workers than to help them and look out for them. It is cheaper, by far, to pollute the environment than to protect it. It is cheaper to put out an inferior, useless, or sometimes dangerous product and advertise the hell out of it, than it is to make good, safe things. You can try and argue that this isn't true, but you have to argue that all of history is false to really back it up.

Much of the regulation that has come to pass is in some way connected to terrible things that have come before. I would like to start with something that is still rather fresh in everyone's minds; lets talk about the economic collapse in 2008. Bankers were making money, hand over fist bundling sub prime loans into mortgage backed securities (MBS) and re-selling them as sound investments. The ratings agencies were invested in it, and were rating these MBS bundles as much safer investments than they really were. The big banks were leveraging their investments to unheard of levels, and were making a killing doing it. Everything was great, and everyone was getting rich right up until they weren't.

The bubble burst, and it became clear just how deep the hole was and everything collapsed; we all know what followed. And the kicker is, nobody got in trouble for it. A bunch of people did some mostly legal things and managed to break the global economy and will never see the inside of a jail cell for it. This is the industry that claimed it should be trusted to regulate itself back in the 1990's and was given the chance. This is the same industry that still claims it should be allowed to do so.

Look at the shipping industry. In  1920 a piece of law known as the "Jones Act" was passed by congress giving sailors a few protections. If a sailor was injured on a vessel, he could sue the owner or the captain for negligence and take them before court to get compensation. This was not granted under the international maritime code that preceded the Jones Act. American flagged ships also were required to keep an American crew, and if an American sailor were put ashore in a foreign port the company was required to get them back to the United States.

All of these provisions were reactions to common business practices of the day. If one of the sailors was injured and unable to work, they became a liability. Not only were they not working, but they were eating, and taking up space. It was in the interest of profit to get them off the ship as quickly as possible and leave them in whatever condition they get there. Paying for medical care would be expensive, especially in such a dangerous industry.

It was also common practice to crew up a ship in America headed for another port, and upon arrival in some small, relatively poor nation, to fire the crew and hire on locals at a fraction of the cost, leaving the Americans stranded in some foreign, and sometimes hostile place. The companies interest was not the sailors, but the profits; it makes it all very simple.

We see abuse of workers throughout history, almost as a constant. From child labor and company towns to the Triangle Factory Fire and the Radium Girls the pattern just keeps going. To industry, the workers are just parts in the machine, and easily replaced.

In the interest of time, I'm going to skip on talking about environmental impact because I think it's pretty clear, really.

And as for the consumer, we constantly have things put out into the market that are dangerous, flawed, or generally useless. We have an entire market of "medical" supplies that are nothing but placebos with little scientific backing at best. We have shoes and cloths made in sweat shops selling for hundreds of dollars, and then there's the fight club equation  for auto recall. Tobacco companies lied about the dangers of their product while working to make it more addictive and products made for children until recently (and maybe still now) off-gas toxins. Yes, companies don't want to kill their customers, but how many have to go down before it hurts the companies bottom line. That is a very real math that we see done. As much as the advertising will tell you that they really care, and that their product will make you smarter, or more attractive, or give you a bigger penis it just isn't so. They spend more on advertising than they do on product testing because selling it is what counts.

The only way that self-regulation in industry can possibly work is if we manage to develop an entirely different mentality towards how we approach the world. If we had a collectivist view then yes, the idea of the high tide lifting all boats would certainly make it seem more beneficial to a company to regulate themselves for the protection of others. This mentality would also lead to the end of war, crime, poverty and everything else that has been holding society back since society came into existence.

This is also a pleasant fiction, and nothing more. It goes against the very basics of human nature and, as far as I can tell, will never come to pass. That is why we need to have some form of regulation to keep things in check. And that is not to say that the government is the answer to all things and can be trusted, but at least hypothetically we can vote people out of the government and have some control there. We need regulations that work, and make sense. We need to get rid of the back room deals and sweetheart negotiations between industry and government, and get it leaned down to being a swift, efficient system.

And there I go on pleasant fictions again. We have a lot of work to do before we can get to that point, I suspect.

Monday, October 22, 2012

quick note

So if you guys didn't notice, I'm generally going for updates at the beginning of the week. Got one that is still undergoing a little bit of revision and should be up tomorrow. I've also invited another person to put some stuff up here so there can be more than one a week.

not sure when he's going to start posting, but I expect it will be pretty solid.

So, see you all sometime tomorrow with a new post.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

American Prison Blues

Being "tough on crime" is a fundamental part of nearly every politician's platform in the American political system. It makes for great soundbites and on a base level makes a lot of sense. Who doesn't want people to be tough on crime, besides criminals, obviously.

The problem is that to actually impact crime in any meaningful way is complicated and not the kind of thing that lends itself to simple arguments and soundbites.

First off, I think there is some data that we need to get out of the way. America has the highest incarceration rate in the world, far and away. Worse than any repressive regime you can name, and way worse than any developed nation in this world that has even the pretense of freedom.

Now, you could certainly make the claim that maybe these other nations are killing people rather than arresting them, thus keeping the numbers low, but Russia is about 300,000 behind us, and that would be quite a feat; I think it would probably have made the news.

It is also worth noting that this is a relatively new thing. Incarceration rates were fairly stable for a long time, and then suddenly jumped up in the 1980s. It is not my intention to get too deep into that, but pointing out that incarceration rates are going up while crime rates are going down seems worthwhile.

These are not my main points, but will absolutely become relevant in a little bit.

Beyond the meaningless fluff of the concept are some very real ideas. "Criminals must be punished" and "Prisons are too comfortable these days" are pretty common ideas. We have Sheriff Arpio in Maricopa county Arizona being lauded from the right for his imaginative and arguably cruel methods. We have large numbers of people promoting and defending the concept of torture, under the Machiavellian theory that "the ends justify the means." We have seen a very real shift towards hardline punishment, and a sense of callous disregard towards people who commit crimes at all.

When a bunch of students sitting on a sidewalk at UC Davis were pepper sprayed for not following an order to leave, we heard "Well, they should have done what they were told" from a huge segment of society, ignoring the fact that they were non-violently protesting. It is clear that we take being tough on crime very seriously, regardless of the nature of the crime. We see a belief that the law is the law, without even looking at whether the law is just.

And that is where we are today. We believe that crime requires severe punishment, and that whatever we have to do to get that perceived justice is fine; We believe that if we have to break a few eggs to make that omelet, so be it.

And before my liberal friends go off the hook on me for saying that they believe that, there are plenty of people who do not believe these things, but our culture en masse has accepted this as the way of things.

Now, for all the talk that prison has gotten to be too gentle, let us first all admit that we still would rather not be there. Yes, they get passable food, and apparently cable tv, and get to go work out regularly, but personally, I like being able to go where I want; to leave. And we can talk about how harsh prison should be, but we also need to talk about the why. I have been unable to find any evidence that the recidivism rate in Maricopa county has changed in any statistically significant way since Arpio took over. The crime rates don't seem to be particularly affected either.

So the only real argument for these harsher methods is that it should be punishment, justice; It should be vengeance. If the punishment doesn't lessen the recidivism, and can't be demonstrated to be a deterrent, then we are only left with it being a form of collective revenge.

So we take these criminals and we lock them up. We take them out of society and we put them into cold, concrete cells with other criminals. If there is the slightest bit of truth to television and movies, regardless of the cable tv, prison is not the best place ever. The biggest issue is the very nature of the people involved.

The prison community is one of dominance through force; Violence and sexual predation. Rape, murder, assault and gang violence are all kind of the norm, along with a thriving black market for various goods and services. This is the community we throw these people into.

So lets say that a person is arrested for robbing a bank. I'm not going to sit here and say he's a good guy; he robbed a bank, and didn't physically hurt anyone in the process. This guy is probably looking at fifteen to twenty years in prison for it.

We have all heard the ubiquitous advice to people going into prison. "Don't drop the soap" and "When you get in, find the biggest baddest guy you can, and hurt/kill him." The first is obviously about protecting yourself from rape, and the second is about positioning yourself in the power structure of the prison community. You have to prove that you are not someone to trifle with.

And for fifteen years, our bank robber will live in that society. Never mind the fact that he will be sitting around with other criminals, often talking about crimes and committing them. We are taking a relatively bad guy and putting him into a situation where being the worst guy you can possibly be is one of the better survival tactics. He will be conditioned to it- he has to be in order to survive. He will learn to see vulnerabilities and attack them, viciously. He will learn to react to any attack on him, regardless of scope or scale, with extreme escalation because that's how you protect your reputation as the biggest and baddest.

And then he will be released when his time is served.

So now this thing, this animal, this warrior that the prison culture is in the real world, but all of those instincts and conditionings are still intact. Add on the fact that he's going to have a difficult time getting a good job because he's a felon, and has a fifteen year gap in his work history. If he's lucky he ends up at a minimum wage job. So he works his minimum wage job, but that's not really enough money to survive, so now we have a trained, vicious animal in a place of desperation.

Is it any wonder that recidivism is so high?

There is a fundamental flaw in this system, because it creates conditions to make people worse, not better. And yes, there are certainly people who come out completely reformed, but they are not the norm. They are what we should be trying for.

But rather than trying to fix this system and build it towards rehabilitation, we're incarcerating more and more people, driving more people into this world of crime.

Rehabilitation vs. Punishment has always been the argument about prisons, probably ever since we started building prisons. I get the instinct towards punishment. Revenge is sexy, and in the heat of the moment it can feel great. It can even be righteous. The question we have to ask, however, is whether it furthers society as a whole.

Pretty clearly, I'm contending that it doesn't.

We need to control the violence, and break up the gangs in prisons if we ever want to let people come out whole and functional. If we continue with what we are doing, we're going to just see these cycles continuing.

We should have education and job training in prisons, and it should be mandatory. We should have therapy, both group and individual to try and help people actually see what they have done as wrong. It will not be easy, and it will not be one hundred percent effective, but it is the only way to have a hope of giving these criminals a real sense of remorse.

Without remorse, they have nothing that will really keep them from repeating the behavior.

And we need to keep non-violent offenders well away from the population that breeds this kind of violence, because all we do by locking them together is create more violent offenders with short sentences.

This is getting longer and longer, and I could just go on, but it may be time to stop. If you will only indulge me on one last little trip.

We are now talking about privatizing our prisons. Outside of the huge risk for conflicts of interest between judges or attorneys and the owners of the privately run prisons, and ignoring the fact that this ends up costing the state more while removing oversight, there is a base problem here.

Do we really want it to be in anyone's best interest for the incarceration rate to go up? Should we have owners and stockholders rooting for it? Encouraging it?

Like I said, I understand the desire for punishment for the wicked, and I'm not saying that there shouldn't be punishment. Personally, the idea of being locked up and unable to roam is maddening and terrifying to me-that covers the punishment in my book. But we have to decide if that punishment is the best thing we can hope for, or if we can perhaps strive for better. To actually make these criminals better; to make them able to be part of society.

I'm struggling to conclude this, because the conclusion seems very clear to me. As this blog continues, you will often see me advocating for the less satisfying answer because it's also the answer that better solves the problem. It's not about feeling better, it's about being better.

What we are doing is clearly not working, and we need to fix it.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Thoughts on the City on the Hill

There has been a lot of discussion about the concept of bringing freedom around the world, specifically to the middle east in the past years. We moved into Iraq under the theory that we would be greeted as liberators bringing the light of democracy to the people. We saw this not to be the case.

I cannot think of any examples of that actually working.

In our own history we saw slaves stand up against the northern soldiers there to free them. If you will indulge me to a slight expansion of the concept, you have the Europeans and Americans both trying to bring "civilization" to the natives on this continent with bloody and terrible results. A people will fight against an outside instigator, even if it is against their own personal best interest.

And yet, when faced with the atrocities of dictatorships and theocracy, one cannot justify on a moral level a tolerance of such things. Genocide, violence, and cruelty will always follow in the shadow of these things.

The question is, what can be done to fix this; to stop these evils and promote freedom and social justice into these darkest of places. It is problematic at best.

I would posit that freedom as a concept is infectious; it has gone viral, if you will. We see it in European history as well as American history; there is a pattern. In Europe there has been a slow, constant push against monarchy and theocratic rule since the Renaissance driving towards more and more secular, egalitarian and humanitarian political and social systems.

In America we have extended rights to more and more groups of people as time has moved along; African Americans, Women, Immigrants, various religions and now we are on the cusp of giving Gays full marriage rights.

There is a inexorable march towards freedom and liberty.

We equally see this march moving through the Middle East. What has come to be known as the Arab Spring was the most obvious example of this, but not the first. The youth of Iran have been in rebellion of one form or another for years now. They are pushing for a more western nation and government, and have been slowly making progress. While they may not say it, they are looking to be more like us, and without our direct involvement at all.

We may not have invented the concepts of democracy and freedom. We aren't the first to talk about inalienable human rights. We weren't even the first to ban slavery, but we have popularized these ideas, and through American Exceptionalism we have silently, almost insidiously pushed these ideas upon the world. Western culture has permeated the world.

Which brings us to the whole idea of the City upon the Hill. Originally from the bible, but used by American politicians as a philosophy for America to follow; and we have. The effects can hardly be denied: American culture has changed the very nature of the world we live in.

So after this long introduction, we come to the point. The best thing that we can do is to be better ourselves. If we make ourselves stronger, more just, and kinder, then we further strengthen the lighthouse on our shore that shines as a beacon of freedom.

Let me be open and pragmatic. I love my country, but I do not feel that it is without fault or problems. I will speak more to the problems because, well, the good stuff can stay good; we need to acknowledge and improve on our weaknesses.

We have a country that glorifies the soldier and the "just war", but leaves thousands of veterans in the streets. They lack medical care, housing and mental care. On a base moral level, this is unconscionable. At the very least, we owe it to those who put their lives on the line for us that they should be cared for.

And both morally and philosophically, that concept should be extended. We believe in the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. With life, comes care for life, and to my mind it is truly that simple. While the numbers are difficult to nail down, most studies I have seen claim that tens of thousands of people die annually in this country due to a lack of healthcare. Many more are driven into poverty.

Our education system has slowly been falling apart, leaving our youth less and less prepared to deal with a global market. There are many that blame the unions for this, and some of that blame is probably fair. More importantly though, is the fact that we have been cutting funding for education left and right. We have cut art and music classes, dulling the creativity that has always been at the core of what makes our country great. We talk about the liberal arts as being worthless, as if culture, literature, history and philosophy were not fundamental to our founders. Our students now learn from outdated books in crowded rooms catering to tests and the lowest common denominators. How can we hope for advancement if we don't expect it of the future generations and hold them to that expectation?

Our government has started cracking down on our base freedoms more and more. Rights to protest have been limited. Privacy in many forms has been attacked, and are still being attacked as I say this. None of this is to say that we are less free than many of the countries that we are standing against, but we are less free than we have been in the past.

So outside of the philosophical and moral issues with these problems, we have to look at the bigger picture. This is propaganda for the nations we wish to improve. These are things that can be used against us, showing our hypocrisy. It gives them the ability to say "what right do they have to come here and tell us how to live when they can't keep their own house in order?"

And that argument is absurd, because we are far better off than those living within these theocracies and dictatorships, without question. But perception is as important as reality, and propaganda does have the capability of changing perception.

So rather than attacking these countries with our military, I posit that we must turn inward and take away the propaganda tools that are used against us. Let us inspire those around the world to fight for their own improvement. We cannot bring them freedom; invasion only inspires people to fight against you. What we can do is show the revolutionaries, the freedom fighters and the youth that the freedoms they desire are real.

Let the idea be a virus sliding through their borders. In this day and age, information cannot be stopped. The flow of information can be slowed, and diverted, but never stopped; like water, it will always find a way. And the idea of freedom, once it finds a bit of fertile soil, cannot be stamped out. It is a long game, without question, and one lacking in the sense of glory of direct involvement. It doesn't let us feel like the great heroes, but it will also lead to real success.

And it will be hard, because a regime will have terrible death throes before giving up its control. We need to be cautious and defensive, with great focus on our intelligence community to keep us safe from attacks meant to instill fear and create regressive reactions. We have to be strong, and brave, and truly stand for the ideas that have, and can once again, make us the greatest nation on Earth.

And by holding those principles above all else, we show the world what freedom means, and what it is capable of. We remove the easy propaganda and let the people see that we are truly what they can be. We need to be the beacon again; the City upon the Hill.

Changing Tacks

So in the time since I had the idea to start this blog I have has little luck in visiting more occupations, so my involvement has become far less direct. I have, however, been studying, debating, and thinking a great deal.

I've decided that there are things I want to write out, if nothing else to get them into a place that they can get torn apart and revised by a wider audience than I normally get to speak with.

We will see how well this goes.