This is a podcast feed I’m using to communicate with the staff at Tamarack House, with podcasts or other content I think they might find interesting. To subscribe, the uri is http://blainn.com/?feed=rss2&category_name=Tamarack
For stuff that’s not necessarily relevant to Tamarack House, but that I think is cool, subscribe to http://blainn.com/?feed=rss2&category_name=Podcast . I might include some of my own content there, as well.
Now, to see if I can put two files into one post and have them both show up in the feed.
Just in case anybody noticed that the website was down for a couple of weeks. I had a shortage of cash at the time that my hosting bill came due. But all is better, now.
BTW, if anybody is noticing this, could you drop a comment to say “hi.” I don’t know that anybody has subscribed to the RSS feed here to see that this is going on. I’d like to know if I’m talking to someone other than myself here if I don’t also post the link to FB.
A podcast I was listening to yesterday pointed out that what I’ve been calling the Priesthood Ban was also a ban on black women entering the Temple. This was not a product of them not having the priesthood, since non-black women don’t hold the priesthood either, but were not barred from the Temple. So I think the proper label for that is the Temple and Priesthood Ban, and I wish every place you’ve ever seen me use the former term to be considered to be the latter. Thus, the title of this post (which will probably make no sense to people not familiar with regular expressions — sorry).
I am guardedly optimistic about the process we’re going through right now, wrt the Sequester <tm>. The part of policy-making which is so annoying is the part where the process is working — the part where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, because those darn other-siders won’t just get out of the way and let us have our way! Nobody is supposed to get their own way all the way — that’s not what pluralism and democratic institutions are about. We are supposed to hammer out workable compromises, making concessions in return for concessions on the other side that give us some of what we want. And what we’re facing right now is a very abrupt change in the way we’ve done things, and that’s really what’s causing the frustration.
Previously, the way we greased the gears of compromise was to give people on each side something they wanted to get — an increase in spending here or there, or a tax break, etc. And the way those played out tended to be things that increased the deficit. Now, we’re in a situation where increasing the deficit isn’t available. We can’t give people what they want that same way anymore. We’re going to have to give up things we want — everybody is. And this is hard, because every dollar spent, and every dollar brought in through taxes (maybe even every dollar borrowed — thinking about that) has a constituency who don’t want to lose what they’ve got. And the more dollars, the more powerful the constituency. So, there are loud voices (money and power buy volume) proclaiming that the sky is falling — recall the doom-and-gloom about the Sequester two weeks ago, and how now the word is “We never said all of this was going to happen in a day or a week.”
With the current make-up of the Congress, solutions are going to have to address the concerns and desires of the right and the left. Tax increases of some kind will be part of the package — and already have been. Spending cuts will as well, but spending cuts reach more people than tax increases targeted at the very few who pay most of the taxes, so there is resistance there. But it’s going to have to happen, along with some kind of restructuring of the sacred cattle in the military and SS/Medicare/Medicaid. Lots of fear-mongering has gone on there, and will continue for a time, but the reality of the need for that restructuring can not be avoided forever, and the price of that avoidance is going up quite quickly.
I think the best thing we can do at the level of the electorate is to not buy in to the fear mongering, even when it’s targeted at us as members of key demographic and interest groups. This will work best when all parties bring savings by means of giving up things they like, as well as savings by means of giving up things they don’t like. I’d love to see every member of Congress required to bring forward a solid plan that’s 50/50 stuff they like and stuff they don’t to reduce the deficit to the target by 2/535th each. If they put it on the table, and take the political hits for it, we can start getting an increase in the reality of the conversation, rather than the rhetoric and hyperbole we’ve been getting up until now.
The “rich” are relatively easy targets right now, politically, but they’re also more able to protect themselves from changes in the tax code — you can spend a million dollars on tax attorneys and accountants to avoid paying five million dollars in increased taxes. And shots at them are more likely to cause collateral damage through unintended consequences than they are the more emotionally satisfying “taking them down a notch” which is frequently behind those shots.
Along those lines, there has been conversation about the confiscatory tax rates from golden ages like the 1950s, and how they must have been good for the economy. What those points fail to grasp is that there was no real intention for anybody to pay those rates, and very few (if any) did. The point of those rates was to be the stick that pushed the wealthy to make use of what are sometimes called “loop-holes” to get them to manage their money in ways policy makers wished them to — the social engineering side to the tax-code, where legislators extend their influence without having to actually take money through taxes and spend it. Personally, I would like to see all of that social engineering done away with, and a simpler tax code that doesn’t require (nor benefit from) the use of tax attorneys and accountants to navigate. But I’m one of those crazy, radical Republicans, and every dollar of tax loop-hole has a constituency as well (lots of money is made via tax preparation and avoidance), so my idea has no chance of happening.
Since I own my own domain (guess which one?), I have an infinite number of email addresses I can use. So, when I create an account on a new website, I can give each one a customized address that I can track to know who had which address. Then, if they sell the address to spammers, I can know exactly who did it. Thus far, I’ve identified Buy.com and Emusic.com and Podpickle.com for doing so, and, today, Equifax.com joins the list.
So, if you’re considering using any of those websites, be ready to give them a throw-away email address that you can walk away from when they sell it. I’ve added that address to an email filter so it goes directly to the bit-bucket, and I will never seen anything sent to that address again.
Okay, so I just spent a while in a thread about the proposed change in BSA policy regarding gay youth and leaders on Deseret News, and it was my daily dip in the part of Mormon Culture that drives me up the walls — the smug, self-righteous, never questioned confidence that “we” are right about everything, know everything, and those who disagree are sad, stupid, unrighteous people that we will deign to pray for God to enlighten. Makes me want to swear like the Rodeo Song (it’s gotta be 40 below somewhere).
In what way is a policy that denies men participation in this program who have not violated the Law of Chastity compatible with the teachings of the Gospel? There seems to be this idea that this policy change is being driven through by NAMBLA as a way of “recruiting” lots more gay youth they can have sex with. Because, presumably, there are tons of young men out there thinking “I just can’t decide if I want to have sex with boys or girls,” and, if they can only listen to a promotional video where someone extols the highlights of choosing the gay lifestyle (it’s just a non-stop orgy, donchaknow, until God kills you with the AIDS, because he hates fags), they’ll instantly be drawn into the clutches of these evil perverts.
Sorry, but that’s just pathetic nonsense.
A very dear friend of mine is sexually attracted to men. He’s been married for 30ish years now, and he and his wife are grandparents. He’s a TR holder, a social worker, and has created several valuable resources for people struggling with difficult life issues. Prior to publicly “outing” himself on his same sex attraction he was an active, effective and much-appreciated scouter, but the current BSA/Church policy meant that he could no longer do so. Not because he’d done anything wrong in scouting. Not in response to any complaints of inappropriate behavior. Not because he was touting the gay lifestyle, or protesting any policy of BSA or the Church. Just because of an attraction he’s been able to control for decades. How a church that preaches repentance and forgiveness through the Atonement can justify participating in an organization who, with this policy, run counter to those teachings is beyond me.
This policy, I believe, was designed to protect children from predators. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. All a predator has to do is say that they are straight (which is more than likely true) and the policy is bypassed. What does a better job is requiring criminal background checks, and requiring double leadership so that the boys are never left alone with an adult. And those policies have been in place for some time now. They don’t mean that there is no chance any scout will be molested by a scout leader, but nothing can eliminate that chance other than technically by dissolving BSA and doing away with the titles “scout” and “scout leader.”
The time for this policy to be gone is long since. The time for educating ourselves on the nature of sexual identity and orientation is also. And the time for getting over this Mormon notion of superiority is even longer since. Go read/watch/listen to Pres. Benson’s talk on pride again. And then go demonstrate Christlike love to someone. Or go home teaching. Maybe both.
Everybody elected works for the people in about the same proportion. They were all sent there representing a constituency, and all of those people deserve to have their voices involved in the process, even when they are wrong. The purpose is not to come up with the optimal outcome — it’s to come up with an outcome that most people can accept. Fighting and maneuvering and compromising is an important part of the process. It’s annoying to watch, but it’s designed into the system, and it’s a feature, not a bug.
And it’s the only way we’re going to get this deficit problem solved. We’ve tried all kinds of commissions, and passing laws to limit how much can be spent and how much can be taxed, and they have clearly and abjectly failed. Now, we’re disturbingly near the point where we can’t maintain the illusion that we can ever pay back those we have borrowed from, so borrowing more is becoming less and less possible, and that’s the only reason we might be able to fix the problem.
We can’t do it all by cutting government spending, because every dollar spent has a constituency who have a narrative about why they should get at least triple more than they do, and why anybody who wants to cut it is stupid, evil, short-sighted and, probably, greedy. We can’t do it all by increasing taxes because every dollar taxed has a constituency who have a narrative about why they should not be the ones paying as much as they do, and why somebody else should pay more (and someone is probably greedy there, too). So the solution is to get all those constituencies together in one large dialogue where the rules are that, when it’s done, the deficit has to go down reliably and consistently in real terms (no more gimmicks like leaving all the unspecified spending cuts for 2 to 120 months down the road). It has to go down this year, and next year, and drop to zero in less than a decade, and not go back up.
How we accomplish that will require serious negotiations in good faith, and the people in power have no real experience in doing that. Word on the street is that the President is particularly bad at it, for example, but his Vice President is pretty good at it. But they can only go as fast as the electorate are willing to go, and that’s where the growing-up I mentioned before needs to take place. Less with the dismissive rhetoric, more with the listening respectfully, and more with the doing the homework it takes to understand the process.
This batch was different from previous batches in that I did no coring of the apples of any kind — just cut them into quarters and dropped them in the crock. I used a cheap, small Walmart bag of Granny Smiths and Golden Deliciouses, along with a small paper bag of whatever was closest to the door in Haggen. I added no water, but did add seasoning and lumps of cane sugar for the cooking phase. And, then, I used a screen colander to squeeze the stuff through.
The screen colander did a much better job of getting stuff through than my plastic colander that only has holes on the bottom of it (nothing up the sides), However, I have a bunch more stuff left in the colander, and I think I’m going to move it to the plastic colander so it can let through more of the pulp without letting through the seeds, skins, and the like. I’ve had two bowls of the stuff that got through the screen, and it was very liquidy, but very tasty. And there was no problem from not adding water — it cooked down to a pulpy paste with a little stirring after just a couple of hours in the crock pot.
For Next Time
I’m considering not doing all the seasoning in the cooking phase. I’m not sure. I’m also thinking about taking some of the pulpy stuff I get out, after I’ve done the liquidy stuff out, for apple butter. And I’m told we have the Foley food mill around here someplace, and that would make this a lot easier. If I can find it.
Much of the problem is that the rational folks on both sides of the issue often ignore each other in favor of pointing to the crazies on the other side and saying “That’s just crazy!” They also tend to ignore the crazies on their own side, and focus on the other rational folks on their side. Thus, they function in a paradigm where all the crazy people are on the other side, and all the rational people are on their own side. It’s a false paradigm. Until that falseness is widely recognized, the issue is unresolvable.
What rational folks on the gun control side need to hear and understand that the pro-gun folks understand:
- Semi-automatic is not machine gun. You get one round fired each time you pull the trigger. You just don’t have to work a bolt action or lever action to load the next round.
- Semi-automatic rifles are useful for hunting and target shooting. They are used for these things far more often than they are used to kill children in movie theaters, by many orders of magnitude.
- There are millions and millions of firearms owned by lawful and responsible people which never cause a problem for any lawful person or society. Owning a gun and carrying a gun does not prove that a person is unstable or dangerous.
- Most hideous gun events involve the violation of multiple existing gun laws. Like mass shootings in gun-free areas.
- Changing gun laws doesn’t change gun realities. Only law-abiding people change their behavior in response to changes in law (obvious to anyone who has driven a public road or freeway). Changes in law will not stop those who disregard the law, but it can turn safe and honest people into unintentional technical criminals.
What folks on the pro-gun side need to hear and understand that the gun control folks understand:
- Many people have never had any contact with a firearm of any kind. What they know of them, they have learned through TV, movies and books, where they are used to kill and injure people hundreds of times a day. They find guns scary, and don’t understand why any sane person would want them to exist.
- While they might like to think of a world without weapons and violence of any kind, they don’t really think it’s reasonable or useful to talk about taking all guns away. Reasonable regulation is not necessarily the camel’s nose that leads to full registration and forced disarmament.
- It does make sense that people who own guns use and store them responsibly, and that they be trained to use them safely and effectively. Nobody wins when people use and store their guns irresponsibly. These things will probably not be legislated, but it’s good to advocate them at every turn, to show the gun control folks that the goal is not to produce a fantasy wild-west scenario.
A little assurance from each side that their goal is not what the other side fears can go a long way to calming people down. After that, constructive dialogue can follow. It’s not as much fun at pointing at the crazies on the other side and laughing at them. It requires more thought and consideration. That’s why it rarely happens. But it is possible.