31 August 2016

Bakari Willsky Kafele*

I had no expectation that my partner would take on my last name.

My intention was to do like one of my clients when they got married: he took her last name as his middle name, and she took his last name as her middle.

But my partner wanted everyone in the family to have the same last name, which certainly seems reasonable.
She also wanted to keep both of her parent's last names, in honor of them.  But she didn't want to have 4 names.  Also reasonable.
So she decided to hybridize her maiden middle and last names (one of each of which were her parent's last names) and make that her middle name, and then take mine for a last name.

Brotsky Williams becomes Willsky.

Me, being all egalitarian and such, found it acceptable for her to take on some of my name only if I was doing the same.  And, conveniently, I had no middle name.  So I'll take her new middle name as my own as well.

25 August 2016

I'm So Fancy: On the Consept of Cultural Appropriation

I used to have I'm So Fancy, by Iggy Azalea, as my phone's ringtone, for the express purpose of annoying Social Justice Warriors.


Because she is white (so say the SJW), she has no business making rap music.
Black people invented hip-hop, therefore only they have the right to produce it.
White people can listen and enjoy it, perhaps, but they should not be able to make any money off of it.

As counter-point, allow me to introduce "Unlocking the Truth"

20 August 2016

The Mechanic and the Bumper Stickers; On Cultural Isolation

I broke the axle of my truck.

Turns out, even though the truck model is very popular, and the company made parts interchangeable for many years before and after mine came out, mine just so happens to have one of the rarer weight capacity and gear ratio combinations, which means if I replace it I will most likely either not be able to haul as much or I will lose MPG on the highway.

There is only one place I could find in the area that rebuilds axles, so I removed the wheels and hubs and took the axle to them.

The city of Hayward, where the gear shop is, is two cities south of Oakland, CA.  Oakland, which is the next city south of Berkeley, and across the bay from San Francisco.  This is where Gavin Newsome, Nancy Pelosi, and Barbara Lee are from.  The center of the anti-Vietnam war movement, the gay rights movement, and the birth place of the Black Panthers and Black Lives Matter.
It doesn't get much more liberal than the Bay Area.

But, see, I was heading to a gear shop, a place that rebuilds transmissions, axles, and transfer cases, primarily for big trucks and off-road vehicles, plus the occasional hot-rod or classic car.

I was expecting a couple of middle aged to older white guys.  I would not have been the least surprised if they ranged somewhere between conservative and libertarian.

But I sure didn't expect this:

18 August 2016

The Last Taboo

Disclaimer / “Trigger Warning”
This is easily the single most "triggering" topic in our culture.  Its about the only thing which causes Americans to react as strongly as a True Believer reacts to an insult of Muhammad.  Its about children and sexuality.  If those two words in one sentence were enough to cause some strong feelings inside you, it may be better to just skip this post.

Random Thoughts (dot fyi)

As you may have noticed, I now have a much simpler URL (the words in the address bar)

Instead of "biodieselhauling.blogspot.com", which really has nothing at all to do with the blog content - it just happens that I hosted my first blog on my business website's server, and then when I moved to a Google server, I didn't put any time or thought into the new name!
Plus, having a free domain meant I had to have ".blogspot.com" tacked onto the end, as an ad for google's blog platform.

I thought about doing a custom domain a few years ago, and came up with "random thoughts" - but it was (and still is) being parked by one of those amoral "buy something you have no need for and no intention of ever using so that you create an artificial scarcity and can turn a profit without having contributed anything of value to the world" type companies, (in dramatic contrast to my experience when my desired business website "biodieselhauling.com" was parked!)

I contacted the company that was holding my idea hostage, and they said they would be more than happy to sell me the rights to the name they were not using and had no intention of ever using, for just $5,000!

Hmm, I guess biodieselhauling.blogspot.com isn't so bad, especially given I only have around 30 subscribers.

But since 2013, "the internet" has been coming up with new TLDs (the thing after the dot), and now there are dozens, possibly hundreds, of options besides .com, .net, .org, and .gov.

I haven't really been writting much since 2013 though, so I hadn't really thought about it.  A long boring day of Coast Guard Reserve duty motivated me back into the writing habit, and today is randomly popped into my head to see what options there were these days.
So, I paid Google $20, instead of that $5,000.  I probably could have found cheaper, but this way it was trivially easy to integrate my existing blog with my new domain (basically just clicked one button in my admin page, done).

So here we are.
The original address is forwarding here automatically, and I expect it will indefinitely, so your existing bookmarks should continue to work, but now typing my blog into the address bar by hand or doing a google search should be a lot easier.

12 August 2016

Your feelings don't determine ethics

I recently started reading the Odyssey by Homer.

Its always fun to see how entirely different cultures view the world, which things are apparently universal and which things we make assume to be universal but actually are specific to our own particular place and time.

For example, we think of empowered female sexuality as a recent invention, appearing only after modern feminism, but in the ancient Greek story, as patriarchal as any culture, the hero is held captive for seven years as the demi-goddess Calypso's personal sex slave (though in his heart, he wanted always to be faithful to his wife back home).  Another time the witch Circe, having turned all his soldier into pigs for future eating, decides, upon learning that he is the legendary Odysseus, not to turn him into a pig after all - on condition that he have sex with her; which he agrees to only on the condition that she turn his companions back into human afterwards.

But what really struck me was realizing how the worldwide human sense of morality appears to have made a fundamental and permanent change following the creation of the League of Nations (the original UN) and the various Geneva conventions.  They date back as far as 1864, but on the time scale of human civilization that is a trivial time span.

Today, a culture which violates certain specific international agreements is considered by the rest of the world to be the very embodiment of evil - using chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons, deliberately killing civilians or captives, or taking advantage of an occupation to engage in theft, rape, or slavery.
Oddly enough, shooting people, blowing them up, and restricting access to food and other necessities is considered entirely normal and acceptable behavior...

05 August 2016

A Technique to Terminate Tantrums: Directed Self-Calming via Incentivized Alternative

I'm not totally sure on the name.  I just came up with it this morning, and hadn't spent any time thinking about it before.  I like the directed self-calming part...
How about I actually start at the beginning, instead of the end, eh?

Kids throw tantrums.

By tantrum I mean any combination of yelling, crying, and flailing, which is triggered by a conflict with another person which doesn't allow them to get whatever it is that they want.
Crying because an errant football hit them in the head as they were playing in the park would not count as a tantrum.

Kids, unfortunately, do not come with instruction manuals.

One would think that evolution would naturally guide us to instinctively know the best way to deal with children in a species that instinctively provides "parenting", but for some reason it doesn't.

This technique may have been come up with plenty of times, by many different people, and it may even be written down many places, but I personally have never seen anyone else use it, have never read about it.