Fix the small problem, break the big problem

If you have a big problem and a small problem, and you solve the small problem in a way that makes the big problem worse, that’s a bad solution.

Imagine “solving” a squeaky air conditioner fan by breaking the AC completely!

In the US, people voting who shouldn’t is a much smaller problem than people who should be allowed to vote not being able to, or mishandling of ballots after the vote. Voter ID laws and roll purges “solve” the smaller problem by making the bigger problem worse.

(You might already have an acceptable ID, or the documentation needed to get it — and the time and money to handle it. But what if it’s hard to get the time off? What if you can’t cover the fee without skipping meals? What if you need to cross two states to get the docs and can’t afford the car/gas/motels?)

If you assume good faith? Pushing to block people from voting, while simultaneously refusing to protect registration rolls or polling machines from mishandling or cyberattacks that we know are ongoing, is bad problem solving at best.

But it’s hard to assume good faith. Because those ID requirements and purges are more likely to unfairly disenfranchise people who might vote Democratic. And the ongoing Russian attacks that Mitch McConnell doesn’t want to guard against have favored the Republicans.

So it’s really easy to conclude that GOP politicians don’t want fair elections. They want elections tilted in their favor. Even if it means leaving the door open for a hostile foreign government to attack.

And anyone else who finds those vulnerabilities.

What’s in a Name? (1984 Edition)

I always find it weird when someone insists that 1984 is warning about socialism because of the party name. The horrors committed by IngSoc are authoritarian, and have nothing to do with whether the economy is socialist, capitalist or communist, or the state is a republic, monarchy, etc.

You could easily imagine a libertarian state where a big enough corporation has the powers of ubiquitous surveillance, controls communication and information, has violent agents asserting control over people, etc. Same abuses, no socialism.

I mean, Cyberpunk corporate dystopia is an entire genre.

And we don’t even need to imagine giant corporations with microphones in homes, tracking people’s every move, mediating their communications and their access to knowledge, driving them toward the daily outrage.

Art or Eyesore?

A few miles from Hearst Castle, a trash collector spent fifty years cobbling together his house out of junk and found objects. As Cambria became more trendy in the 1970s, neighbors wanted him to tear down the multi-level “eyesore,” while others saw Nitt Witt Ridge as a folk art monument. It’s still there, and still a controversy within the city and its historical society.

This seems like the kind of roadside construction that would fit in with American Gods’ cosmology. More like The House on the Rock than Hearst Castle, despite the proximity.

And it turns out that the first of Wyland’s 100+ whale murals, on the wall of a Laguna Beach hotel, was later painted over as an “eyesore.” (C’mon, really?) But since then, a friend of his bought the building, and he’s recreating the original mural. On canvas this time, so he can move it if anything happens to the wall!