Friday, November 27, 2015

Can you keep a secret?

There are always people who can defend what seems to me to be indefensible; reject what seems to me to be obviously desirable. 

I read recently of a technique to convince people whose political philosophy is opposed to yours to nonetheless support positions which you support – even if those positions are inimical to their own.  Basically, you frame the question in such a way that it echoes things that they already believe in.  For example, to convince a gun freak that registration of gun owners is a good thing, you might say that this is a method of eliminating the argument of anti-gun forces that nobody knows who owns guns, so they should all be removed from the general population’s control.  You frame this position as a way of pre-emptively weakening the opposing side.  

The people who promote this don’t seem to care if you actually believe what you say or not.  The goal is to win the argument.

What brought this to mind was an article I read on the question of strong encryption.  Several politicians think that encryption methods should have back-doors so that law enforcement can get access to the encrypted communications of terrorists and criminals.   
This section got my attention:
“People who protect liberty have to take care not to imply, much less acknowledge, that the draconian anti-liberty measures advocated by the surveillance state crowd are justified, tactically or morally, no matter what the circumstances. Someday a terrorist will be known to have used strong encryption, and the right response will be: “Yes, they did, and we still have to protect strong encryption, because weakening it will make things worse.”

That “and the right response will be” gets me, because I don’t think that you can say that in advance.  I think there will be times when encryption should remain inviolate, and there will be times when we will want law enforcement to be able to break it.  The problem is that we don’t know in advance.  The cops don’t like the idea of having to ask for access each time.  I don’t like the idea of the cops having unfettered access to secrets, because I distrust their integrity. 

I don’t think this is a black or white question, but that’s how it feels, at the moment. What do you do when you don't trust the people who know more about the threat, about the real world, than you do? 


Sometimes I think that I am a bit of a snob because I prefer,  and am willing to pay for,  hotels which delight.  Hotels which deliver a quality product.  As in --

- rooms that have sufficient acoustic insulation so that all one hears from people passing in the hall is a quiet murmur.

- restaurants with actual food, linens, and utensils.  I like a bowl of Froot Loops as much as the next person, but watching underpaid workers have to hustle to feed the masses is distressing, as is watching said masses showing up in pajamas.

- check in staff who know that the word is 'you', not 'yuhz'.

Good thing I don't have money, or I really would be a snob.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thinking about Syria

I read an article this morning about Syria, and how it became a hotbed of terrorism (which apparently describes Belgium, too.  Belgium!) It made me wonder when it is okay for a nation to interfere in the internal affairs of another nation. Who gets to decide?

And then I think Man, thats so awfully liberal of you....

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Trying to get restarted, with Italian, with French, with making menus, doing shopping.  But the memory of my daughter's travail hangs on..... and the idea of international terrorism sucks the air out of the room. I just want to huddle in bed.

Hoping that there are people who are smarter and more compassionate than me, running things.  Smarter, probably. More compassionate... compassionate at all to those who aren't like them.... kind of doubt it.

I want simple answers, and answers at all are thin on the ground. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Its over

Her appeal was granted.  She gets to stay in the Corps.

She also gets every single punishment that the cadets who actually did something wrong got.  Every single one.  Because, you know, she lied.

It appears that what nailed her was her desire to tell the whole story, which lead her to write a second explanatory statement, which lead them to say that the first was therefore a lie.  Apparently, their standard for statements is not 'truthful and complete', but just 'truthful'.  Leave out whatever you want. She told the full truth, and got nailed for it.

But she got what she wanted.  She's still in the Corps.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Oh joy. I'm now getting spam calls on my cell phone.

Still Waiting

Its not fair to say that, really.  She just turned in her appeal last night.  It will be at least a day, and possibly a week, until she hears whether the emperor gave a thumbs up or a thumbs down.  But when have they been fair in all of this?

One decent thing has happened, though.  Three different people have written to the emperor -- sorry, the commandant -- to say that she's a decent person, she's the kind of person we need, she's always gone above and beyond.  Two comments in particular struck me -- one, from a fellow cadet, one of the senior cadet-commanders, saying You always tell us that this is a training environment where we can make mistakes without affecting our lives.  And one from an actual officer,  saying I know this person, she's good, energetic, works all the time for the betterment of the corps.  I stand by her. And We can't let rigid adherence to rules make this a place where we are afraid to fail.

Neither sentiment is black and white, and the question of whether she acted exactly in the desired manner is black and white.  So perhaps these responses won't count for much in the results of things.

But finding out that her leaders, her compatriots - they think well of her -- that counts for me.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


And now we wait - again; this time, for the appeal to be lodged and reviewed - to see how deeply the insanity goes, in the Corps of Cadets.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


The Corps of Cadets Honor Court at my daughter's school recommended that she be expelled from the Corps.

Her sin?  When she wrote a statement of what happened during her roommates contravention of the Corps rules, she skipped over that she helped her roommates make a bed on the floor for the guys who were staying there past legal hours.  The next day, realizing that she should have included that, she amended her report to indicate that she had done that.

The Corps calls that initial omission 'lying on an official document'.  Not tolerable for someone who's going to be an officer.  Except, she's not.  She's in the civilian track. Everyone I've talked to says yeah, she'll get punished, but nothing serious.


My disgust with the Corps knows no bounds. I imagine they're deeply concerned about that.

Friday, November 06, 2015


I really want to take the Republican candidates seriously, especially since there is a chance that one of them could win it all - even Trump.  I think oh surely NOT, then I look at Silvio Berlusconi and think oh crap. Amuse the masses, make them feel as if only they get you, you're their pal, their defense against the nameless terrors,  and they'll elect you. They'll give you the keys. It's been done. 

So I really want to take them seriously.  I don't want to just despise them reflexively, I want to honestly look at them, evaluate them.

But they're such idiots and liars!