Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Oggy Reflects Humbly

I figured my recent screed would get some vile responses and that's what happened. Actually, I'd be disappointing if no one was offended. I got what I asked for and I don't feel good about it. Not one person said, "You are right, Oggy, we've been lied to and we've lied to ourselves and now it's time to make amends."
It was more like, "You are the hypocritical cunt, Oggy! You suck ass! I will slash the tires on your van if I see it parked outside my house. You piss in a milk jug so who are you to talk?"
"I don't see you housing any illegal immigrants in your pervert/creeper van, you piece of shit."
"Fuck you, Oggy! You'll reap what you sow when I put my foot in your ass."
"Coward and hypocrite. Go back to Honduras you greasy motherfucker and take some Guatemalans with you."
 "I'm fat and watching baseball and drinking a gin and tonic and I think you are a total asshole."

Ok, you get the idea. I would apologize but I really don't feel sorry. I feel superior to everyone because I am superior. I can out philosophize you and out fight you and out write you. I can stand on my head and shoot marbles out my ass to the moon if that will please me. And I'm not sorry for pointing out the incredible stupidity of my fellow man. Yes, I know what's wrong and I will repeatedly demonstrate my disdain for humanity all while living in a van and pissing in milk jugs and showering naked in the desert and shitting in shallow holes. It's insanity! I know! But these are fucked up times. Do you really want to go to the grave knowing that Richard Nixon set a precedent and you followed it? REALLY? The guy was a fucking narcissistic monster. He was bombing two countries at once, lying to America, spying, making affordable health care impossible, destroying lives with a drug war that only recently was determined to be a horrible idea, and finger fucking Chairman Mao at the same time. NOTHING HE DID WAS RIGHT. So, I reason, to counteract all the evil done by Nixon we must open our borders completely, transfer all the wealth of the Republican party to a new State known as West Texas, where Honduran refugees will be welcomed to air conditioned luxury funded by legal heroin and enjoy socialized medicine. Why? Because that's the exact opposite to what Nixon would want.

I'm sorry you are too dumb to realize that. So we will continue to reap the shit storm.


I've been hiding from the scorching heat at the public pool and the library. So I've been reading random books about true crime, guitars and economics.
Not pertinent to anything in this essay
I don't know when economics became the new philosophy but Steven Landsburg has a very good manner of presentation that has me thinking I missed my calling in college. Malcolm Gladwell immediately annoys me with his post-modern arrogance and Political pundits are repulsive and Dave Berry has used every joke twice and Erma Bombeck is dead so I'm sort of lacking opportunities to read some topical and amusing non-fiction. Landsburg provided me with not only a relief from my spiritual torment but endless philosophical leather to chew on fruitlessly for at least a year.

Landsburg approaches everything from a unique perspective. I'm at once hoping he does eventually control public policy, and also hoping he is never allowed to control public policy. Allow me to explain this contradiction.

His book, More Sex means Safer Sex is a title that caught my pussy deprived psyche off guard and I took the book to a secluded corner of the library hoping there would be nude pictures in it. Alas, the title is merely one of those modern bait-and-switch titles that has nothing to do with me, Oggy Bleacher, having sex, and more about tempting me to pick it up at the airport before a morning flight to Dallas. Damn you, Landsburg!

Actually, the title refers to a theory that I had to read twice to understand. I thought at first he was mocking the gun nuts of the world who think more guns means safer streets*. But no, Landsburg is saying that because shy, faithful people don't have casual sex enough they leave the casual sex world open to promiscuous, reckless cum swappers...who then either transmit diseases or have loveless orgasms. The theory is that withdrawn people should be paid to have sex because that would somehow dilute the sex society of diseases. It's the kind of theory that immediately seems insane but Landsburg isn't making a joke and his lengthy reasoning slowly altered my opinion. In the case of casual sex making for a healthier casual sex culture, I still disagree. Since we are really talking about my familiar hypothetical fantasy worlds (the lofty economist gets to call this a "theory") I don't think paying a shy, disease free person to fuck casually is the correct approach. What we want, ideally, is that those with diseases get tested and treated so they don't infect anyone else. Yes, if you want to complicate things (and I think that's Landsburg's specialty/literary scheme) then you could postulate that paying abstinent people to have sex would technically dilute the disease pool, but is that a practical solution? He even recommends wives openly cheat on their husbands as a service to the world, which I totally support.

Even if I didn't like his theory I like the fact he devised such a theory because it blurs the line between economics and philosophy. Everything he writes about from an economic or cost-analysis standpoint is something I've written about from a philosophical/moral standpoint...but it seems we don't reach the same conclusions so one of us is misled...and I think it's me.

I'm biased, is the problem and Landsburg is more open-minded. He approaches each problem like a scientist who is not going to impede an ugly conclusion. If you asked his personal opinion about the justice system he might come up with a different response than the one he thinks will actually work. I, however, would skew everything to fit my preconceived utopian ideal.

For instance, he proposes a jury member be allowed to read anything and talk to anyone regarding a case. Sequestration would be a thing of the past. His argument is that since freedom of speech influences everything else in our lives, such as elections, jobs, etc, then why shouldn't it affect our decisions on trials? A juror's impartiality isn't going to be affected if he's allowed to go about his business as an adult would and discuss a case casually while it is going on, and his opinion would certainly be enriched, so let him do it. The rigidity with which court trials are conducted is like it was created on holy paper in blood to be implemented by a species of mankind that doesn't exist yet, so it's pretty much a failure, lots of innocent people go to jail and lots of guilty people go free.

One good comment he has is to separate the jury into two groups of 6, and if they reach the same verdict then reward them with money because humans respond to competition. And here's a novel idea: when a criminal confesses to a crime or someone has a totally air-tight alibi....WE SHOULD STILL PUT THEM ON TRIAL. Why? Because we already know what the verdict should be we will be testing the jury to see if they are paying attention. And because you will never know as a juror if you are on a mock trial or a real one you will always pay attention. And he suggest something I've said which is that the jury and prosecuting attorney who finds someone guilty who is later proven innocent must all spend the remaining time in jail. And if a parole board lets someone out who violates their parole then everyone must go to jail. Landsburg says the parolee's first housing should be in the parole board member's houses.

Landsburg is a professor at a traditional university so he has to deal with traditional grading systems. A, B, C, D, F. These are awful indicators in my opinion and grade inflation or inaccuracy is a real problem since grades don't even show what the grade means. I've had classes where I assigned myself a grade. I learned early on to always give myself an A. As a teacher, I avoided giving grades. Usually I let a student do the work over again until it was an A. I can't rectify the futility of assigning a numerical percentage to something like a creative writing assignment or a hand drum lesson, so I could never teach in a traditional environment. Some universities, I think UC Santa Cruz is one, avoid grades because they are not useful and their graduates still contribute something to the world. Landsburg has a few ideas. One of the ideas is Grade Budgets. Each year a professor has a certain number of A grades he can give out. If he gives them all out in one class then he has to wait a year before someone can get an A. Also, a track record of grades by a given professor would evaluate/quantify what a grade actually means. There are solutions but, like the judicial system, our traditions and our apathy keep us rooted to poison soil.

I will give one more example of where Landsburg and I do not agree: obesity. Landsburg writes, "the obesity epidemic is caused by some combination of medical advances and low fat foods."
Really? I thought it was people making bad choices about food. Let's examine the 2 parts of this theory:

1) Medical Advances: "Obesity is bad for you but not as bad for you as it used to be." Lipitor, Pravachol and other drugs allow people to be obese without dying. So not only are more obese people surviving to be counted but since they know they can survive they have less of a motivation to combat their obesity. There is no need to avoid obesity since you can eat as much KFC as you want and the doctor will thin your blood out and put balloons in your arteries. I guess he has a point but this is a misuse of the drugs and people are still eating too much and not getting enough exercise.

2) Low Fat food: low calorie/engineered foods means people will either eat more to make up the difference in calories or eat less and lose weight. Low fat ice cream offers people an option to have a treat believing they are being healthy. They might think to themselves, "I'll eat this fried chicken tonight because tomorrow I can have low fat yoghurt." But tomorrow arrives and they promise they will have a fried egg sandwich and bacon because tonight they will eat a salad with low fat dressing. See, they postpone the healthy option but the healthy option is always factored into their unhealthy choice. I would point out that the unhealthy food choices are promoted by way of highway signs pointing to Cracker Barrel. Politically and culturally a decision has been made to put supermarkets further away from highways than a junk food fat factory. Big Red Soda employees should all quit, in my opinion, as their conscience compels them to do the right thing. I think conspiracies don't factor into Landsburg's thinking enough. Propaganda is paramount in American cultures so while there might be some underlying aberrations the biggest problem is the fucking propaganda that stimulates our aberrations.

I actually have 1 serving of low fat yoghurt and 1 banana in the morning with about a half serving of fiber cereal mixed in. That and some drinking water is the sum total of my breakfast, which I eat as soon as the Walmart parking lot cops bang on my window at 6 am. Then I do not eat until about 3 PM...and yesterday I went to JC's Tortas and had the most ridiculous Torta ever, named The Ezequiel, after the biblical prophet. It was actually just a ham and cheese and jalapeno, tomatoes and lettuce and avocado sandwich. It was a gigantic sandwich that I completely devoured as I watched the Mexican news about the "train of death" on which tormented immigrants catch a free ride north, (and I decided I would also hop on that train and learn what that means). The torta bread was fresh and though the pollo torta was better I cleaned my plate. I was still craving more so I rode my Vespa to Caliche's Frozen Custard and got a mountain of hot fudge and brownies and custard and I think whipped cream also topped with hot salted pecans. It was the best custard ever, enough for a village of Hondurans, and I could not eat it all so I actually lashed the remains to the moped and drove back to the van in a hail storm planning to eat it later. I had at least two offers to buy my Vespa during that trip, an odd encounter with a homeless person, a visit to a western store to look at $300 beaver hats, and one nearly fatal close encounter with a truck. etc. (I do not know how economics fits into all of this but I'm sure Landsburg could make it.) So, I go to the supermarket where I take a sponge bath in the bathroom and wash my hair and ass crack and while I am there I see a body fat analyzer and sit down and learn the following:
Oggy's current stats:
Height 6'.
Weight 159.
Marital Status: Nope
Body Fat 8.64%.
Lean Mass 91.36.
Flexibility: Decrepit.
Hydration 2.04.
Bank Account: Depleted

What's my point?

Says Landsburg, "It's the economist's job to explain where we ought to be headed, and the political scientist's job to explain why we can't get there from here."

*I say that NO guns would mean safer streets. And a gun nut would say, "that's never going to happen, so..." and I would respond, "well, neither is everyone going to be armed, so...". and they'd say "it's easier to arm everyone than disarm everyone, so..." and I would say "that's a great fucking plan" and the debate would deteriorate.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.