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Sunday Morning Reading Material First Sunday in June 2012- I Just, Ugh, God Edition

It’s Sunday Morning. Sundays are for working early in the day so that you can host a buncha nerds and do some boardgaming in the evening. Exciting, isn’t it?

This week: There is basically only one story worth mentioning this week: a private spaceship left Earth’s atmosphere, docked with station orbiting Earth’s atmosphere, and returned safely to Earth. Humanity is still taking some tentative steps towards birth.

If you’re wondering about today’s “edition headline”.

I had nothing to do with this.

I had a conversation with my boss recently, in which I asked him “as a capitalist, why do you hate free markets?” Much like being asked to choose between the devil and the catholic church in the 1500s, the fundamental tension between free markets and capitalism is one which is entirely missed in the American public discourse. The dichotomy is too well ingrained. Yet the system where cash and assets are prized over the ability easily offer the public new options and new opportunities is proving a failure at providing things like good public policy and public welfare.

Don’t give away your labor, folks. It’s the only thing you’ve got.

When I was in Ohio, one of my jobs was to convince black voters that this time, they would be allowed to vote. In 2004, every possible legal and quasi-legal obstacle was enacted to prevent just that. The 2006 “wave” of Democrats allowed them to put in place systems that attempted to get the maximum possible voters to the polls. The 2010 wave of Republicans seem hell bent on tearing those systems apart. Which is reasonable from a party which thinks voters can go to hell.

When humans think about war, we tend to recount the glory; the passion. The “band of brothers” war pornography makes warfare seem like a noble endeavor. And so, the homeland is armed with propaganda about brave youngsters off to do their bit for God and Country. The cost is hidden. Not merely the direct costs, but the indirect costs- the deaths that show up only years later.

Remember how, several months ago, I got all excited that Orwell’s Diary was back? Well something similar: Left Behind Friday is back!!

There are a lot of people who are pissed at the DMV. Rightly so. The DMV is terrible, terribly run, and poorly equipped. Interestingly enough, I think most actual DMV workers really are moving about as fast as they can, given the equipment we’ve given them. I say “we” because the DMV is, of course, a service provided- and paid for- by we the people. It’s function is to make sure that inept drivers aren’t on the roads. They do a passable job. They’d do a better job if we the people were willing to pay for more DMV employees, and pay to upgrade their equipment.

Things that aren’t an example of good governance: The no-fly list.

This meditation on complexity is both fascinating and clarifying. Worth mentioning in this context: it is the primary (perhaps only) function of government to foster social complexity. Good government can do this while maintaining ease of social navigation.

Humans have a tendency to create complexity over time. We’re social creatures. We form relationships. Its in our very genes. TL;DR? Science has proven that Star Trek is right: humans will be nailin’ the green-skinned aliens as soon as we meet ’em.

That’s the good side of the human tenancy to cooperate. The down side? We’ll cooperate with evil just as readily as good.

Most retail workers are recorded as they work. Every action is kept on a hard drive, and if impropriety is suspected, management can call up footage to confirm if this is happening. I’m sure knowing this has kept more than a few people from embezzling. This won’t help me with my DMV wait. But it might help people with the “getting shot by cops” problem. Imagine how much better-behaved police would be if they understood that everything they did was under constant surveillance by their boss. Because remember: the police are your employees. They serve you.

Are you planning on moving to San Francisco? Your guide to district stereotypes! (startup-landia is for realz, though)

If you listen to just one podcast this week: Combo attack!

If you click just one link:

Humans are pretty damned awesome.