There's a lot of political talk going around San Francisco these days, thanks to the recent election. There's also a fair deal of rioting due to the Giants' win, but that's a different post entirely.
I'll preface this post by saying that I'm nearly completely uninterested in politics. It's not something I think about, it's not something I participate in, and it's not something I talk about. And the main reason I don't like to talk about it is because people are not logical when talking about politics.
My favorite example is when people think a politician is an idiot. No politician is an idiot. It's their job, and their job is under a lot more scrutiny than yours is. Given the amount of politicians out there, the odds of an idiot being elected are just about nil.
Let's take George Bush, because no one likes him. I don't like him. More than any other politician, his policies have adversely affected me. I care about privacy and I care about traveling, and both became significantly worse under his watch.
But guess what? He had a LOT more information than I had, so I give him at least enough credit to assume that he did what he did for good reason. From my perspective, terrorism is a joke, airport security is nothing but theatrics, and spying on people is a gross offense. But I don't know anything about any of these things. George Bush did. So it's probably a lot more likely that he knew stuff I didn't know, and made some hard decisions as a result.
Back when I was gambling, we had two forums. One was called "General" and one was called "Private". Anyone who was a member could read General, but only a select few dozen could read Private. When I was finally admitted into Private, I was shocked at how much they knew that General didn't. In fact, things that Private did would look foolish to someone in General, because they didn't fully understand what was going on.
Here's an example: in Private we all played under multiple names. We'd pay people to use their identity and gamble on behalf, generally giving them a small portion of the profits. In the General forum we would actively discourage people from doing this, because casinos would catch on if hundreds of people were doing it. But we all did it.
As a result of all these accounts, we might have had 10 times more casino accounts than a General member. The hardest part of gambling was dealing with cashouts. Casinos would drag their feet, come up with reasons not to pay you, and ask you to fax stuff in. One solution we had was to simply bet you entire casino balance on roulette before cashing out. Half of the accounts would bust, the other half would double, and then you had only half as many cashouts to deal with. Sometimes we'd even try to quadruple or octuple up before cashing out.
If a General member saw this, he would think that we'd become crazy gamblers. But the truth is that it was a very smart strategy.
Maybe the same is true of George Bush.
Now we come to Obama. His platform was hope and change, and we've gotten no change, and there's not much hope for it either. Is Obama a liar who tricked us all to get into office? Probably not. He said he'd get us out of war because, with his privileged yet limited information as a senator, that seemed like the best course of action. Then he became president and got more information, and reversed his course. I don't think he's dishonest or malevolent, I just think we have no idea what's going on.
I'm reminded of this idea whenever I watch people watch sports. They all think that they're smarter than the coach and the refs, yelling at the screen, telling the people on the glowing box how dumb they are.
Maybe, just maybe, the people who rise to the top of these hyper-competitive fields aren't complete idiots. Maybe they're actually very skilled at maneuvering through minefields that we don't even know exist. At the very least, it's a serious possibility that should perhaps temper our criticism.
I wrote this a few weeks ago... since then I read George Bush's autobiography, which made me respect him a lot more. And realize that he's near crazy-level religious.
Really sorry about only posting once last week... too many flights and trying to do too much before leaving Japan.
Heading to LA tonight, Austin the next day, then Boston. RV road trip from SF to Austin. Yes!
Hi I'm Hitler,
I'm not an idiot. I rose to the top of a hyper-competitive political process so I must know something you don't know (no, not just about climbing the political ladder).
So if you ever find yourself in contradiction with my views, rest assured that I probably just know more than you about the subject in question.
perhaps you are correct. but people i general get pigheaded and don't look into things because that is just how people are. we're judgmental down to the core. half the time we are not looking at the bigger picture. so what we see on the surface if what we assume to be true
I think Bush is an idiot because he can't pronounce NUCLEAR. And its not like there is no one, no aide or staff anywhere, to tell him he is mispronouncing it, and easily teach him how to say it correctly. Some teacher along the way taught me. Say these two words. NEW, CLEAR. Now say them together. That’s all it takes. In 8 years he couldn't master that? Wasn't interested? No one brought it up? Disgusting! Because of Bush I think there should be a new presidential “law”. If you can't pronounce it, you don’t get to be in charge of it.
If you want to depict an idiot, you depict him pronouncing the word as nuke-you-ler.
- Homer Simpson "Nuke-you-ler. It's pronounced nuke-you-ler.”
- Peter Griffin [laughs at Lois] You said "nuclear"! It's "nuke-you-ler" dummy, the S is silent.
Bush ACTUALLY pronounced it that way, and apparently, didn’t care. - Idiot.
I think this is a good post and holds true for a lot of things especially the sports examples.
I don't think it's really that true for politicians though, of course they are not idiots to rise that high, but to say that they know better is a bad argument. Look at recent SOPA legislation for example, politicians don't know better than people that founded the internet but still many supported SOPA, even though the people that founded the internet told them not to.
The problem of course is by the time many politicians reach office they are in the pocket of people with a lot of money through campaign contributions etc. e.g. industry groups that benefit directly from government spending (taxpayer dollars), housing, education, hollywood.
I'd also like to enter this into evidence, discussion of US financial reform within congress.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLmD9TeUC54
There is only one person in that room that is basing their argument on anything close to logic (even if you don't agree with him), the rest are just reciting weak arguments they have used politically for years e.g. kids are our more precious resource we need to dump more money into education.
I don't know I think we have just seen him say a lot of very stupid things (George Bush). He has no presentation skills training and so comes off like an amateur compared to other presidents.
True you couldn't be an idiot and make it into office. But a lot of people once they get their owe so many political favours they rarely end up standing up for anything important. Ending in people calling them idiots.
I don't think George Bush made any of those decisions, didn't his team campaign on his personality not on his intelligence.
Tynan, I used to never think or speak about politics. Then I came across an old man named Ron Paul from Texas.
I still don't think or speak about politics.
Ron Paul opened up a lot of new doors -- the doors to the foundation of what matters in what most call "politics".
The rights of man.
Ron Paul can be your Gary Taubes for "politics", if you let him.
There is a saying in my home country "everyone knows how to govern except for the president". I am still conflicted with some of the desicions politicians make, but bringing up this point "they have more information......" makes sense, I actually never thought of it that way, interesting.
Where can you find me at 2pm on a Thursday? If you guessed by the pool being fed peeled grapes by the Swedish bikini team, you'll be surprised to hear that you're wrong.
No, really. You're wrong... At least this Thursday.
Actually, my friend Hayden.. WAIT... this is an important but totally unrelated sidenote :
Molly had flipped on the lights, which were quickly gaining their glow and illuminating the empty hallway before them. “I miss the old gas lamps. They had character, and they warmed the room for you!” Professor Ellery lamented. Indeed, it was only marginally warmer inside than out, and they removed their muddy footwear out of polite deference rather than their own preferences. Molly looked around the now lit hallway. It seemed unfamiliar somehow.
“Guys, this isn’t the dining hall,” she called out, just as Jim opened one of the side doors. “No, really? But it does have food. Free food, the very best kind of food,” Jim replied, moving over to a table at the back of the lecture hall he had just entered. The chalkboard at the front was covered in partially erased scribblings, but he was much more focused on the snacks at the back of the room. When guest lecturers came to visit, the school provided an assortment of snacks - usually sweet pastries, sometimes cured meats and other savory foods. Jim recalled fondly one time an Archaeology lecture about south-sea idols carved from green soapstone recovered during a Miskatonic expedition that had captured his interest, but not nearly as much as the deviled eggs in the back had. This time there were just a handful of pastries left, enough for everyone to have two and Jim to have three, plus half a pot of cold coffee which the four of them split from three mugs. Adam and Molly shared, which Professor Elery took note of. He was surprised to find in himself a pang of what he at first thought was jealousy. He hadn’t thought of himself as being attracted to the young woman, though attractive she clearly was. He had prided himself on having a jovial yet completely professional relationship with her and all his students. And besides, his heart still belonged to his beloved Marcia, though she was dead and long since buried. Still, the pangs of loneliness and heartache can make one think and occasionally even do terrible things, as he knew all too well, and Molly and the others would discover soon enough… he determined to think of his feelings as a fatherly protectiveness. Molly was one of his best students, and perhaps the one most in need of his guidance and protection, being in a uniquely vulnerable position as the only female Chemistry major at Miskatonic University. May in the administration still resented being “forced” by public opinion to allow women to enter, and his position as head of a department carried a good deal of weight, even if Miskatonic was focused more on the Humanities than the Sciences.
Adam had opened the door on the opposite side of the entrance hall. It led into a smaller room, a simple classroom instead of a large auditorium. There was nothing there besides the desks and chairs one would expect, small bits of litter, and the chalk board at the back, scribbled over with symbols he had no idea the meaning of. Adam was also a student of the histories, focusing more on Archaeology than Anthropology-he didn’t like having to think about the personal aspects of other cultures, especially ones still existing in the present day, but there was something about physical artifacts from the past that intrigued him, and therefore he had chosen to major in that. While his true passion was sport, he did feel a visceral thrill whenever he held something that was known to be ancient. He felt it even stronger when he was able to identify that for himself. While Adam was not particularly bright in terms of raw intelligence, he had incredible willpower, honed from years of daily exercise and practice, and was an excellent team player. When there was a project he was focused on, he was focused like a laser beam, and could continue working on it for long stretches, often overnight, and function well with minimal sleep (especially during the off season). When he was assigned to group projects, even if he did not feel particularly passionate about the specific project, he felt intensely loyal to his partners, and would go to extraordinary efforts to make sure that he pulled at least his fair share. More than one person had been assigned to a group project with him, inwardly groaned at having to work with “the jock”, and then been astonished and a bit ashamed at the effort and sincerity he displayed. The results were rarely astonishing, never genius, but often impressive.
Adam hoped that he would be able to focus his studies on deducing and verifying the ages of artefacts. He could easily picture himself as being on a team (he always pictured himself on a team) of experts hired by museums, universities, and private collectors, to verify the authenticity of the items in their collection. He hated cheats and frauds - unlike many of his teammates, past and present, he had never done anything unethical to improve his grades to stay on the team, he had just buckled down, worked hard, and been sure to only choose classes he was confident he could do well enough on - and the thought of being able to find out and expose people who made a living by tricking others filled him with a righteous warmth. He, like Jim, was a year ahead of Molly - Adam and Jim were sophomores, while Molly was only a freshman (“First Year,” as she insisted on being called), and he hoped he would be able to focus and specialize more on the verification of antiquities in the rest of his college career. Already he was developing instincts, and so when he slid his fingers across one of the desks and they came up dusty, he was surprised, and noticed this fact. He wasn’t sure what to make of it, save to be confused. How could dust have accumulated this quickly? This was the first true day of Winter Break, after the initial weekend, and surely this classroom had seen use the week before. Adam had never been inside it before, but surely it was used by other classes. Pondering it for a moment, he thought of the possibility that perhaps only some of the classrooms were needed during final exams, and so this one could have been out of use for a week or two more. That might be enough to explain the dust. Yes, that must be it.
He looked up at the blackboard again. He had assumed that the symbols were mathematical or greek, but looking closer he thought they were a mixture of something - hieroglyphs too blurred to be legible even if he could read hieroglyphs in the first place, and a series of triangles or blurred dots that may have been Sanskrit? But that was odd, because this definitely wasn’t the Historical Studies building. Maybe there had been a guest lecture here? But he would have heard about it. Oh, that must be it: some students were having a study session in here on their own for the finals. That also explained why the room was so messy - if the janitor hadn’t known people were going to be using the room, he wouldn’t have thought it necessary to clean again before the Christmas Break. Yes, that explained everything. He still couldn’t shake a feeling that something was off, that he wasn’t noticing something. It was like examining a vase for the chips and the different, visible layers of lacquer to try to determine its age, only looking at the minute details, never pulling back and seeing the big picture, only to miss that it was covered in a painting depicting the 1915 World’s Fair. He noticed this sensation and tried to pull his consciousness back and see what he was missing, but he could not quite manage it, and when his efforts led him nowhere fast, and he heard Molly call out that there were pastries in the other room, he went back and rejoined them.