16 February 2018

That whole gun thing

Everybody's talking about gun control as an issue again, without talking about the core problem. (In the US and Canada.)

Access to firearms is seen as a guarantee of a right to enforce patriarchal white supremacy through violence.  (This is not an enumerated right but it's absolutely trivial to make an historical case for it.)

You can sidetrack into the "you don't treat me the way I think I should be treated so you're all going to suffer" (personal, local implementations of the core social drive for fascism; this is also the thing that ties it into the strong correlation between domestic abusers and those who commit gun violence) wibbling, because the traditional "economic marginalization" solution to unwelcome attitudes doesn't work when everybody has been economically marginalized, but while that's definitely A problem it's not THIS problem.  (If unspoken core cultural precept was "live by the precepts of the Benedictine order", we'd definitely have problems but they wouldn't be shooting-up-schools-and-concerts problems.)

So all those folks coming up with desired gun control laws; that bit about "qualified instructor"?  That's only going to work if all the instructors are black women, who have an at-will, no-justification-required power to flunk people for attitude.

At a time when the cousins have a department of their federal government engaged in active ethnic cleansing going on and the changing climate's effects on food security are gaining scope.

15 February 2018

The delusion of manliness

I keep seeing people talking very earnestly about a need to re-imagine manliness.

This is part and parcel of the huge ghastly mistake involved in considering gender of public relevance.

One of the things you can pick up from a cursory examination of biology over the last couple-four decades is that any kind of judgement-based taxonomy is an inherent disaster.  It leads to unresolvable arguments to the limit of available emotional energy and it cannot do anything good because there's nothing there to connect it to facts.  Quantified, materialistic, falsifiable taxonomic hypotheses give us new knowledge (Afrotheria! Whippomorpha! murder parrots!).

Thing is, gender is a social construct. It's a creature of feels.  It's deeply contingent on who knows what developmental events.  It's generational in variation. It's not usefully subject to a predictive analysis.  (Your ancestors are always your ancestors; your understanding of your gender changes over your life.)

ANY community where there are attempts to make fine distinction of gender presentation style turns into this incomprehensible fractal thicket you can't hope to understand without participating in that community.  This applies to boring neighbourhoods where dad is ritually required to barbecue just as much as it does to edgy queer communities in bad parts of town.

The historical solution was savagely destructive enforcement of a gender binary; we're going to make this simple.  (The limiting-variety version of getting enough technical-sense control to have a system.)

The historical solution is stupidly expensive, destructive, and unconscionable.  The "let's be aware of every community's distinctions" reflex of politeness is simply impractical; there's no way to keep track of living definitions across diverse communities.  (No way to provide matching variety or to build the variety amplifier to get a working system if we're not going for the forcibly-limiting-variety version.)

The thing we can actually do is not treat gender as having public relevance.  (It might have a lot of personal relevance; it might not.  But that's a friend-group and personal and maybe community thing, not a general-public-society thing.)

That doesn't mean some sort of soft patriarchy of understatement; that means taking the notion of gender off all the forms.  It means adopting a single standard salutation.  It means writing dress codes in utterly gender-neutral language.  (It means harsh and savage regulation about acceptable salary ranges and mean, cruel, and heartless laws criminalizing surreptitious gender norm enforcement.)  It means designing bathrooms differently.

If you want an analogy, consider sexuality.  Someone who is gynosexual is not interested in every woman or most women.  The very broad term is obscuring the large amount of work necessary to establish what sort of intimate relationship any particular gynosexual person wants to be in.  The work is necessarily personal.  (To meet "wants", yes it is personal, no matter how many cultures have had arranged marriages.)

So, anyway -- public significance of gender starts with patriarchy which starts with bribing your army with women as property back in the Neolithic somewhere.  You don't get to a just society -- there is no just patriarchy -- while maintaining the public significance of gender.  Any "manliness" that's ascribed generality, rather than temporally and personally -- these are the people who know what this means -- locality is perpetuating the attachment of necessity to injustice.

It's a mistake everybody needs to stop committing for themselves; it's the "am I who I want to be?"  "What purpose does it serve to act like that?", "Am I trustworthy?" questions.  It's work.

It presents the possibility of a good outcome.

Writing update

I have a cover for The Human Dress.  I have about 4,000 changes left to review.

I have a cover for Under One Banner.  The dedicant liked it.  The copy-editor has it, and has been afflicted with mischief since they got it to such an extent that I could wish to send Halt to visit until said editor's surroundings and circumstances commenced to be better behaved.

The building I live in has been sold to a developer; I'll be moving sometime March.  I have a place to go to, but it's sufficiently far away that the logistics present challenges.  (One may not transport cats in rental cars, for example.)  Work is being good about this.  (It does not harm that I'm headed in a direction convenient to work's future plans.)  This does nothing good for the book schedule, not least in terms of predictability.

So -- not dead.  Still working on books.  But packing has to come first.

12 February 2018

If fear excuses

From: Graydon [address obscured]
To: jus.minister@gov.sk.ca, Jody.Wilson-Raybould@parl.gc.ca
Subject: if fear excuses

If fear excuses -- if what I feel renders it acceptable to discharge a
firearm at a fellow-citizen -- then the next time a car cuts me off
while I'm cycling, I can do my best to shoot the driver.  I will have
been afraid; I will have been at immediate risk of death.

If fear excuses -- if what I feel renders it acceptable to discharge a
firearm at a fellow-citizen -- then it's completely right and proper to
find the people trying to fund tar sands projects and shoot them,
because they're participating in a project that's surpassingly,
terrifyingly likely to kill us all by breaking agriculture long before
the seas come up or the great plains of North America become a desert.
I am afraid; if the death risked is not immediate, it is soon, and
grimly certain.

If fear excuses -- if I what I feel renders it acceptable to discharge a
firearm at a fellow-citizen -- then there is no peace, only panic.

You job and your oath require of you that you take the precedent of the
present result of the trial of Gerald Stanley and grind it into dust.

Leave aside, narrowly, that the jobs and oaths of your governments
require much of you that is not done with respect to the First Nations
peoples of Canada; leave aside, narrowly, that the present's ongoing
habits of genocide are a blight and a stain on anything that Canada
might hope to become.

Do the one narrow certain thing you must.


Graydon Saunders

29 November 2017

I should probably mention...

Under One Banner will be off to first-pass copy edit in the first week of 2018.  (Presuming the dedicant doesn't tell me I've flubbed it utterly.)  Still vaguely-sorta on schedule for early Q2, 2018.

The Human Dress is back from 2nd pass copy edit; Draft2Digital's deadline for "out before Christmas" is December 11th.  There are about 5,000 differences I need to look at and work has deadlines, so that's not going to happen.  I am hopeful for "before Under One Banner" at this point, but not much more specifically than that.

Also, I need to find a cover designer, the previous (excellent) one having been overcome by improved circumstances and departed the trade.

26 October 2017

Why manufacturing?

This came up as a tangent to an Erik Lund history-of-technology post; why worry about manufacturing?  Why is rearranging dirt more important to the economy than rearranging schedules?

(Anybody who thinks rearranging schedules is easy needs to try it with several competing sets of interests and priorities; for difficulty, the schedules might be more fundamentally so.)

Right now, we're in the early stages of the end of the world, in at least the sense that fall of the Western Roman Empire was the end of the world.

One of the things that means is that while capital creates long supply chains to maximize returns on investment, instability shortens your supply chains.  There's three ways this is certain to happen in the next five, and the next twenty, years.  ("Short term", if I don't watch what I'm saying.)

  1. We're going off oil.  We're going off fossil carbon generally.  This is going to be a combination of solar PV being flat out less expensive, dawning horror at just how bad the climate swing is going to be (see if you can get housing sale data for Florida by age and education...), and the collapse of American hegemony ("the Oil Empire maintains the stable oil markets necessary to the deployment of all that capital" and "the Oil Empire manages to keep people from effectively opposing technologies like fracking" both apply).  Does this shift the basis of naval power?  That happened in the 1950 with nuclear submarines.  It may force notice; it is very likely going to break the commercial arrangements which came in with DREADNOUGHT's continuation of the Anglo thalassocracy.
  2. Food security is going away.  Direct habitability is going away for at least places with large populations.  (Second order, "I can get food there", is a different and more general question.) This is going to do in economic predictability; the supply chains don't notice the people suffering, but do notice the lack of spending, the loss of productivity, and the shift in economic focus from what people want to what people need.  Also the inoperable ports and rail links.
  3. We're at the front edge of an age of miracles so far as capability goes; there's clinical trials of effective anti-aging treatments reported, there's meta-materials, someone will eventually figure out how to get bulk graphene.  Normally innovation is irrelevant because incumbents can keep it from getting enough capital to threaten their markets.  The historical counter examples are all either extremely prolonged (see "clocks, Europe, 1400-1800") or side effects of three enormous wars.  (Napoleonic, Great War, Hitler's/Great Patriotic/Great Pacific; incumbents willing to be less rich in preference to maybe losing in a war of annihilation.)
ALL of these things will shorten the possible supply chains.  Not because anyone wants there to be shorter supply chains and a less capable economy, particularly, but because the predictability necessary to the present arrangement isn't going to hold.  (Has stopped holding, and isn't likely to come back.  Even if everybody with significant political power does the optimal thing for the next century over the whole planet, it's not likely to come back.)

So the answer for "why is manufacturing important?" is "shorter supply chains are less capable but more resilient; to be reasonably sure you'll have all the critical stuff, you need the ability to make it locally, for someone value of locally, and remember that value of locally is significantly political".

One awkward part is that VLSI is really difficult and takes enormous supply chains.  Communications isn't a luxury, and one thing that's likely to be interesting about the next twenty years is the difficulty of keeping the incumbent communications infrastructure working as the necessary supply chain length gets unmaintainable.  Here's hoping some equivalent to direct electron lithography gets established as a viable alternative Real Soon Now.

Another awkward part is no one knows what's going on, supply-chain wise; heat pumps and window glass and autoclaves and refrigeration and tractors aren't optional as functions, and doing it with electricity and aluminium and glass instead of coal and iron and brass is obviously entirely possible but making sure all the parts of the supply chain are functioning and close enough hasn't been addressed.  It ought to be, and it ought to be with some urgency.

(I am, tangentially, all for trade and for long-distance trade; we're desperately going to need it to be a bunch of local economies rather than one global one, though, because we're not going to be able to keep a global-supply-chains one running consistently this coming century.)

So -- gotta be able to make knives and abrasives and paint and bandages and soup pots and dust masks and shoes and socks (keep thinking about just how much stuff is on the real list; artificial light should come to mind) in a couple local places by a diversity of means, or there's no resilience of supply, and we need the resiliency of supply because there's going to be no meaningful agricultural or climatic predictability for at least the next hundred years.

13 October 2017

My American cousins...

Somewhere in the machinery of your government, there's someone who was carefully chosen for being not especially empathetic, never having made any mistakes at anything their whole life, and for not considering themselves especially important.  (You can't reliably put duty and country ahead of your own personal feelings if you've especially much got personal feelings.)

They're also not that old and still in the time of life when you can be extremely fit.  It won't help with the empathy and it certainly won't help with having developed the kind of robust personal wisdom that'll help in a terrible crisis.

The best thing you can do for that person is to get Congress to take away their job, because right now their job is to follow the President around, carrying and guarding a set of nuclear launch codes.  There's a real risk the current President is going to order an unprovoked nuclear attack -- the aggressive war y'all hanged people for at Nuremberg but worse -- and at that point, that person's true duty, the thing required of them if they're to go on not having made any mistakes at anything their whole life, is to out-draw the Secret Service and shoot the President dead.

That's an unreasonable amount of heroism to ask, and y'all are the Sovereign People.  Get ahold of whatever representatives and senators you can, and tell them to  Pull The Football.