Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
--C.S. Lewis--

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Random Stuff That Pops Into My Head

-Probably the most famous line in the song "Ironic" by Alanis Morissette is, "It's like rain on your wedding day". The word irony describes something that is humorous in a coincidental, and yet unlikely and unexpected way. For example, the biblical story of Haman, who ends by being hung on gallows he erected himself for his enemy Mordecai, is an example of irony. Rain on your wedding day is many things, but it is not ironic. The song itself might be considered ironic though, given the unexpectedly inappropriate nature of its lyrics.
-You know a fight was one-sided when the post-fight dustup between the winner and a prospective future opponent provides more action than the previous 12 rounds.
-The long-awaited commission report on reforming California's tax system is out...and being soundly rejected. How much proof do we need before realizing that an idea's quality is inversely proportional to the likelihood of its implementation?
-When I read stories like this one, I'm not sure what to think. On the one hand, it's nice for these poor people. On the other hand, wouldn't it have been even nicer and you know...actually meaningful, to have done this when: 1. it might have helped them advance their careers (usually the point of attending college), 2. it might have taken some political courage, 3. most of the people involved were still alive? Apologies 60 years after the fact show more concern with our own self-image than they do concern for the folks who were actually wronged.
-Speaking of ironic, how about the lead-in to this story? The author praises the Internet as something the government did well. Actually, the initial development of what we now call the Internet was done by DARPA, which is more private sector than government. Some excerpts from the Wikipedia article describing their unique model.
-"DARPA avoids hierarchy, essentially operating at only two management levels"
-"DARPA has an exemption from Title V civilian personnel specifications, which provides
for a direct hiring authority to hire talent with the expediency not allowed by the standard
civil service process."
-"DARPA neither owns nor operates any laboratories or facilities, and the overwhelming
majority of the research it sponsors is done in industry and universities. Very little of
DARPA’s research is performed at government labs."
-The Universe may be the greatest non violence-related show currently on the air.
-Does it bother anyone else that no sci-fi show dealing with invisibility ever tries to explain how a person can be invisible without going completely blind? No? Ok, never mind.
-English is funny. Take the word overlook. It can either mean, "to look on from a higher position" (which makes something more easily visible), or it can mean "look beyond without seeing", almost the exact opposite of the previous definition.