Anachostic

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Tag Archives: overpopulation

The Social Security GUID

With the recent Equifax debacle, I froze my credit file at all the places I was able to.  But the news still keeps on coming.  Whenever I read about these events, I think, “Why can’t we just request a new Social Security Number, like we can request a new bank account number?”

Well, for one, there’s not a lot of SSNs available. 1.2 billion at the max, and I’m certain that you can’t have SSNs like 000-00-0000, and there’s probably a few other notable blocks that couldn’t be used, so it’s less than that.  And with people constantly dying and being born, those numbers are always getting used up.  If we were to allow people to request new SSNs easily, we would exhaust the available supply very quickly.

So, if we were to reimagine how our country’s income tracking system could be implemented, we should make sure it’s not going to need an update for a very long time.  And when you think of things that are going to last a long time, I think of 128-bit values – GUIDs.

I understand that the retrofit of a new field in databases around the world to accommodate this new ID value would be nigh impossible, so this is just a thought exercise in what we could want from a national identifier.

Foremost, we would want our ID to be replaceable at will, but we would also need to be able to keep a history of former IDs.  For example, if your ID was stolen or leaked, you would simply request a new one, and the old one would be archived.  The old ID would continue to be valid for existing credit lines and other previously established links, but would no longer be valid as a lookup for new lines of credit or other interests.  Ideally, you would update your old accounts with your new number.  Maybe it would be mandatory to keep your ID up to date within a year of changing it.

Second, your ID should not be able to be guessed or calculated.  There are guidelines for the structure of SSNs that indicate approximate year of issue and state issued in.  With a random GUID, there is no such pattern (although it could be somewhat implemented with the resultant loss of security).  The vastness of a 128-bit space would nearly eliminate guessing.  The length of a GUID also means it would be difficult for people to memorize upon overhearing someone else reciting it.

So, if we were going to do this, do it right, do it big. Go from 10 bits to 128 bits and never think about it again.

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A World Without Stereotypes

The concept of stereotypes has been around for a very long time.  It’s only fairly recently that “Social Warriors” have taken up the fight to eliminate the use of stereotypes using the universal weapon of shame.  I’m not saying that I’m in favor of keeping or eliminating the use of stereotypes.  I’m saying that the point is moot.  There are no stereotypes anymore.

Stereotypes have historically been a “bad thing”, because they encourage prejudice.  They allow you to assume the behavior or personality of someone based on external factors.  I certainly don’t need to bring up racial stereotypes, we all have plenty of examples for that.

Stereotypes provide a slightly less offensive use, also.  They are coping mechanisms, where one can sort of explain away behavior that they find objectionable.  Like I say, that’s only slightly more offensive, since all you’re doing is reinforcing the stereotype in your mind for future prejudice.

Anyway, like I said, there’s no reason for any of that anymore.  I’ll provide an example and you can build it out from there.  Long ago, you could make an educated guess (which is just a polite term for prejudice) as to how a driver would behave on the road based on the vehicle they drove.  BMW drivers?  Women in minivans?  Old, beat-up, rusty Toyotas?  Little foreign cars with fart cans for mufflers, lowered to the ground?  Are you developing mental images for each of these?  Well, those images are all outdated.

You used to be able to see a car swerve on the road and say, “Typical (stereotype).  No surprises there.” Or pull up behind a vehicle covered with bumper stickers and think, “Yup, pretty much what I thought” when you analyze the stickers’ content.  But no more.  Any car can surprise you.  An “old-person Buick” goes weaving through the lanes; you get honked at by a fleet of micro-sized cars; middle fingers from corporate vehicles.

The reality is, everyone is an asshole.  It doesn’t matter what car they drive, they are going to be an asshole on the road.  Taking that a little further, it doesn’t matter what their gender is, what their race is, or what their religion is.  They are going to drive like shit and put everyone at risk for their own selfishness.

Now, can this logic be applied outside of the highways and interstates?  Maybe, but probably not yet.  Over time, maybe we can eliminate our differences in the non-driving world and we can all be a common humanity of assholes.  I can see progress being made on that front every day.

But more seriously, there are so many goddamned people now, it is not possible to be prejudiced.  You simply cannot predict what any one people will say or do.  You will consistently be surprised, for better or worse, and usually for the worse.  If you try to create stereotypes, you will have so many distinctions that it becomes useless to try and refine them any further.  It’s part of the individualization fashion, started when Windows 3.1 came out.  Yes, I blame Windows.

Get Off My Lawn, And My Beach, And My City, And My Country, And My Planet

Over the weekend, I got to spend some time at the beach and it was pleasant.  The key to that pleasantry was going early in the morning, before the large families arrived.  As I was basking in the silence, actually able to hear the waves, I thought about how nice it was right then and how it wouldn’t be so nice in a few hours.

I thought about these groups of people with screaming children and boom boxes and thought it would be really nice to not have to be around them.  But obviously, they have just as much right to any public space as I do.  It’s just that my quiet presence wouldn’t intrude on them, but their boisterous presence would intrude on mine.  Somehow, that doesn’t seem fair. 

I thought up a label for these people.  They are “environment modifiers.”  Wherever they go, they modify their environment to suit themselves.  Natural beauty?  The sound of nature?  Unnecessary. We have children and portable stereos.  It’s just like being in our house or our back yard, only the visuals are different.

I mulled over different ways to handle this.  One idea was segmenting the beach into noisy and quiet zones.  Of course you don’t say it like that.  The beach is divided into “those who love the sound of children playing” and “those who love the sound of the sea”.  And those are truly mutually exclusive.

And sadly, this little microcosm is applicable to our society as a whole, when the loud and obnoxious drive out the polite and quiet.  When decisions are made based not on merit, but on amplitude.  Where resources are acquired sorely through aggression.  When acquired resources are resold to others at a profit, when the justification of that profit is solely getting there first.

“And the meek shall inherit the earth.”  What a wonderful, ruinous place it will be to inherit.

It Wasn’t Me This Time

Today, I got an answer to something that I’ve always wondered.  What would I do if an accident happened right in front of me?  Well, it was actually right behind me.  I drive that road every day after work and I know how it can get. 

The road is a two-lane off-ramp connecting two interstates.  At that time of day, the right-most lane gets backed up.  There have been times that I couldn’t merge in and I couldn’t very well stop and hold up traffic in the left lane, so I was forced to take an alternate route home.  Because the right lane backs up and the left doesn’t, I think that people driving in the right lane (and this has happened to me) misread the speed of their lane, because they are keeping pace with people in the faster left lane.  Then all of a sudden, your lane grinds to a halt.

If you’re lucky, you’ll see it happen a couple of cars ahead, if you’re not lucky, the car in front of you will suddenly slow down.  If you’re really unlucky, the car in front of you will swerve onto the shoulder and the car in front of them will be stopped.  All of that happened today.

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I actually was not lucky, I was surprised by the car in front of me.  The cars behind me were less lucky.  I escaped unscathed.  But not being involved in the accident, what was I to do?  This is the question I had been wondering about.

See, I hate the world.  I really hate people.  I blog about it; it’s not a secret.  But I hate that the world is that way.  And so what did I do in this moment of truth?  I pulled over and jogged back to see if there was anything I could do to help.

Everyone was as fine as you could hope for.  One guy who had his airbags go off seemed a little stunned and I had to roll his windows down to get some fresh air in there (Airbags really stink.  That’s the second time I’ve smelled it.)  Another Samaritan was checking on drivers too and said he would call 911, but he disappeared quickly after.

I hung around until the police and paramedics arrived and gave everyone my contact info in case their insurance company wanted it, but I’m not sure I’ll be of much help.  The people behind would have been better witnesses, but everyone’s got somewhere to go…

So, why didn’t I take off like everyone else?  It’s not my problem – I was lucky.  I suspect that I don’t care about “people” because I can’t.  I can’t care about them because I can’t do anything about it.  People trapped in a cave in Argentina?  What the fuck can I do about that?  People right behind me getting in an accident?  I can try to help there.  It’s a proximity thing.  I might have said before that help begins locally and this just reinforces it.

I Guess It Was My Turn.

The last couple days have been pretty hard for me.  Not difficult, just hard.  I’ve been having a hard time getting along with the human race, specifically on the roadways.  My outlook changed last Saturday when I was driving home on the interstate, cruising along with the other cars and I glance in my rear view mirror and see someone right on my ass.  I mean, right there.

“Surely they realize how close they are and how unsafe that is.  They’ll slow down now.” is the thought I had in my mind when the impact occurred.  Everything in the car went flying. drinks spilled, shifter thrown into neutral, GF screaming.  Even though we were surrounded by cars, it’s surprising how quickly openings appear when cars collide.  I was able to quickly get over to the right hand median.  But my assailant didn’t.  Nor did he have any intention of doing anything of the sort.

Still in shock, I hadn’t realized yet that the car was in neutral, so trying to take chase of the other car was delayed by a few precious seconds while I wondered why the car wouldn’t move.  Did I take so much damage that my tires were pinned?  Nope.  I got back in drive and took off in pursuit.

Unfortunately, traffic worked hard against me, blocking me in lane after lane.  And I was disadvantaged because I’m clearly not as reckless as the one who hit me.  My hopes of catching the assaulter fell quickly.  One of the cars I caught up to and tried to get around started gesturing at me.  They kept pointing to the right hand side of the road even though we were in the left lane.  Eventually, we both pulled off to the left side.

I immediately went and looked at my damaged bumper.  Honestly, it wasn’t bad.  The other people got out of their car and explained that the car I wanted just got off on the exit we just passed together.  Well, that’s lost.  But, they said they got the plate number, so hooray!  We traded info in case I needed a witness (tip: highway patrol and insurance really want a witness).

So, to speed the story up a bit, the police were unable to find a matching car with that plate number.  I have to pay my insurance deductible because no one can find the hit-and-run bastard.  But, I’m grateful things didn’t turn out much worse.  Getting hit at 75mph, I could have swerved, flipped, gotten t-boned, hit a pole, and maybe even taken out other cars (and who would then be responsible for that?!).  Things aren’t that bad.

But they are.  I had been slowly getting more and more frustrated by the behavior of other drivers on the highway.  Insanely unsafe driving with no regard for others.  I’ve recently had to keep my composure when delayed by accidents.  It takes a lot for me to not get to the accident site and yell out the window, “You motherfuckers!  Do you see what you’ve done?!”

When I see a car coming up behind me now, my first thought is, “Are you going to hit me, too?  Why don’t you?”  Every time I see someone weave through traffic, I think, “Are you going to run away?  Do you even know what risk you’re taking?  Do you even fucking care?”  I know the answer.  They don’t.  I used to not let that worry me, because these self-centered assholes never affected me.  But now they have, and I want to wage war.

Right now, I’m debating on buying a dash cam.  I feel I need to document this insanity.  I’m also giving thought to creating a website exposing these ridiculous drivers.  I will probably need to get some council to determine if such a thing is legal, and I really hope it is.  To have a searchable database of license plates with user-submitted video proof of the owner’s dangerous driving habits, that may make a difference.

And if it doesn’t, or if such a thing can’t be done, well, I guess I just have to suck it up and pay the deductible.  The assholes win again. 

Encroachment

‘Tis the season to be homeless, or so it seems.  I’ll start by saying I’m ambivalent about homeless people.  I really don’t think there is a solution to it, much less a solution to those that actually desire to be homeless and live off of charity.  My reaction to homelessness would be, in D&D terms, chaotic neutral.  but anyway, the stories…

Case 1: The GF and I are out driving and stop at an intersection.  There is a woman wearing the standard-issue safety vest for panhandlers.  Joking around, I commented, “nice butt,”  the GF commented, “nice phone in the back pocket.”  But joking aside, the GF is a lot more generous and tolerant of panhandlers than I.  She will regularly offer a drink or a snack if she has one available.  I infrequently do that.

Anyway, to get to the point, the woman turned around and it was a person that my GF knew from her job.  Knew pretty well, in fact.  That changed a lot and not in the way it might sound.  This woman would show up nearly every day totally drunk and just be belligerent all day.  This is not someone you want to give money to, because it goes to one thing.

Case 2: I’m pulling in to a restaurant for lunch and a vagrant is in the lot.  I leave the car running and pretend to be busy with something inside.  Undeterred, he comes over and is happily gesturing at my car.  Yeah it’s a nice car.  I give him a thumbs up through the window hoping he’ll continue on.  Nope.  He continues gesturing and finally I roll down my window.

The guy is deaf, for real or not.  Signing some stuff, pointing and making noises.  I have no idea what he wants.  He eventually hands me a piece of paper with his pitch pre-written on it.  He’s deaf; he can’t hear or understand what I say; he wants money for McDonalds.  Sigh.  I give him $5 and tell him to enjoy his meal.  He seems extremely grateful.

Case 3: I’m leaving a restaurant and a guy is in the lot with a bike.  “What kind of car is that?”  “It’s a Miata.”  “A what?”  “A Miata.”  “Hold on I can’t hear you.”  He comes closer as I realize what I’ve gotten myself into.  “A what?”  “A Mee Ahh TA”.  “Oh!  That’s a beautiful car.  Must be very expensive.  Never seen one like that before.”

Trapped, I am.  “I just want to fuckin’ say something.  I want to fuckin’ thank you for acknowledging my existence.  All these other people just fuckin’ fly away.  They don’t even say anything.”  And it goes on like that.  It’s cold and drizzling outside and I’m not a fan of that situation either.  So to end the conversation, I say “you know, you really need to find shelter.”  And at that moment, I thought, “God damn it.  Why did I have to say that.”  I get more story, about his mom, who loves him.  I see him trying to figure out how to use whatever I’ve said to work in some kind of pitch, a pitch that will be full of profanity, certainly.   He points at an overpass and says how he has slept there for 5 days. (That’s his shelter, he says). 

I figure, ok, we’re going to do this, huh?  So I asked, “why do you do that?”  He was caught off guard. I said, “I know there’s shelter here in town.  Why don’t you go there?”  Well, he had to think quickly for that. “eeehhhhh, those shelters…. they’re not… nice.  They have bed bugs.  It’s not good.”  And I was getting ready to tell him it had to be better than a bridge when he commented, “he’s eyeing me up.”  I asked, huh? and he said “the cop over there.”  Then I hear behind my car, “Excuse me, would you mind coming over here and talking with me?”

The vagrant walks over and I shut my car.  I’m going to take my opportunity to get out of this.  I look in my mirror and no I’m not.  I’m blocked in by the police.  And… another car shows up.  I catch little bits of their conversation: “You from around here?”  “You have any weapons on you?”  “You said some things that worry me.  Are you going to get violent with me?” Oh boy.

So, the officers don’t find any reason to detain him and let him go.  So I’m going to just finish this up and get home.  I do the nice, dumb thing.  As he walks by the car to get his bike, I offer him a can of Coke.  I want that to be the end and I’ll go.  Nope.

More conversation ensues.  I finally tell him that he needs to clean up his presentation, stop swearing so much, and better things will happen to him.  I have to put the car in gear and start moving for him to get the hint.  I think he stroked the hood of my car as I backed away.

So there’s three recent interactions with the homeless and vagrant within a couple of weeks.  Where it goes from here, I can’t be sure.

A Small Light Bulb Moment

Add to the list of soon-to-be-obsolete things: automotive high-beams.

A little over-dramatic, sure, but give it some consideration.  When is the last time you got to use your high beams?  Ok, that’s a loaded question.  Some people would say “all the time!” and some would say “never!”  It depends on how populated your area is.

I was driving home one evening and I was able to use my car’s high beams for the entirety of one span of roadway.  I never saw another car.  And that made me think back to my previous living location where you’d never get a chance to use your high beams because there were cars on every road at every hour of day.

As we become more overcrowded in this world, our high beam usage is going to become diminished, possibly to the point of being irrelevant.  Then again, we’ll probably have self-driving cars by then and we’ll all be shuttled around in cars having nothing more than marker lights on them.

YOLO

Just a little behind the times on this one.  I’ve heard a lot of this “YOLO” thing going on, and after some consideration, I’ve chosen to redefine it.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of Theosophy, the main point of it is that, as souls, we are constantly evolving through the process of reincarnation.  With each life, we are put here to learn lessons and pay back Karmic debt built up over previous lives.  As you go through these lives, you build inherent skills, which are displayed as natural talent; wisdom, which is shown as common sense; and other intangible skills like spirituality and tolerance.  “You can’t take it with you” is only for material goods.  Your soul’s qualities persist.

So, accepting the teachings of Theosophy,  you can imagine there have been souls who have been through many different lifetimes.  Some have learned their lessons well and gained all the skill, wisdom, and wholesomeness from each lifetime.  Others haven’t learned and still continue to be cruel, greedy, and intolerant.  The world is full of both types of people, you can’t doubt this.

But the world is also full of many more people.  More people on this Earth than ever before.  More bodies, more souls.  These bodies must be filled with young souls, those who have not had the experience of many lifetimes to learn how to be good.  Many that have to pay back Karmic debt through lack and suffering.  Some that are learning from their current situation, and a lot that are not.  It takes a long time to learn some lessons.

You can see this in the attitude of the younger generations.  You can see it every day in so many people.  It’s a sense of desperation.  Even driving in the city, you can sense the desperation in how people drive.  They must pull out in front of you, because they feel if they don’t, they will never get in.  Never.  That’s how the world is behaving.  Now or never.

These people don’t understand that this life is nothing.  There will be so many more lives to enjoy if you live this life right.  If you don’t, you’ll make up for it next time.  And hopefully, you’ll learn it that time.

So, for all the desperate people and their rally cry: “You Only Live Once!” I respond knowingly, “No, You’ve Only Lived Once.”

Why, Baby, Why?

The other day, while working around the house, I heard children screaming in the neighborhood.  I idly thought to myself, “Why do people have children?”  Then I thought a little more and got more serious about it.  Why do people have children?  They say that the people who decide not to have and raise children in their lifetime are being selfish, but when I got thinking about it, it seems the opposite is true.  With a little brainstorming, these are some reasons I came up with:

  • To continue the human race
  • For the experience of raising a child
  • Because your parents want grandchildren
  • Because you need help working your farm/business
  • You need a male child to continue your family name
  • You grew up in a big household and want to have the same experience
  • Babies are beautiful
  • It’s the thing to do/all your friends have babies
  • You’re getting old and having babies when you’re older is risky
  • Your spouse wants a baby
  • You don’t have a spouse and don’t want to be alone
  • Your spouse is going to war and you want something to remember him by
  • It just kinda happened

Of this entire list, the only reason that is not selfish is the first one, and I haven’t heard anyone use that one before.  The last reason is irresponsible, but that’s a different post.

The typical rationalization of parents is “You’ll never understand the feeling of unconditional love,” which is false if you’ve ever owned a pet.  Another common statement is regarding the wonder of watching a child grow and learn.  Yeah, anyone can get that anywhere from any child.  “But it’s different when it’s your own.”  Hear that?  “…your own.”  When coming from a parent, it’s a statement of “Look what I made.”

Obviously, parenting is filled with pride – selfish, dangerous pride.  When you have a child, you give up your own identity and start projecting through your children.  To be fair, this isn’t always the case, but the parents who don’t do this are classified as poor parents or uninvolved parents.  Then, it is recommended you live through your child.

But, isn’t that the proof that child-raising isn’t selfish?  Despite the initial reason for having the child, you have to be selfless and sacrifice everything to raise the child?  Quite the opposite, because by doing just that, you are burdening the child with creating your happiness as well as their own happiness, your success with their success.  Their problems are amplified because they become yours, too.  This is why so many parents (mothers, usually) have extreme separation anxiety at college-time, because suddenly they’re alone with no life.

If people would ask “why?” before having kids, and really look at the reasons and be honest with themselves, maybe we could manage this population crisis.  After all, the first listed reason is well taken care of.

Ayn I Rand. I Rand So Far Away.

For a while, I’ve been watching “patriots” circle-jerk over Ayn Rand and I never understood why.  So, I took a short amount of time and read a short book of hers called Anthem, which I assumed would be typical of the Rand philosophy.  I can say I have no further desire to read a Rand book.  For as much as conservatives scream about the evils of socialism and communism, the world that Rand wants is just as evil, just in the other direction.

To me, Anthem is a tribute to selfishness and hubris.  The final chapters are filled with an excess of “I”, “me”, and "my”, which is meant to contrast with the whole rest of the book, where the primary character refers to himself in the plural, “we”.   This book’s story is set in an absurd world, because it’s the only world that you could even begin to justify the main character’s actions and beliefs.  Some future world where humanity has regressed to the dark ages and is controlled by a collection of councils, who have mapped out everything so there is no personal choice.  And somehow, people today think we are moving in that direction?

As I neared the end of the book, knowing what was going to happen, I thought I would write a blog post as an epilogue to the story, describing what would happen when this extreme individualistic philosophy grew.  Turns out I didn’t need to.  The book already had it covered.  The primary character took over an old house, claimed all its possessions as his, planned to convert it into a fortress, planned to build an army and wage war on the existing community, make his house the capital of a new world and be the absolute leader.  This is a good thing? 

At the turning point in the story, where the character begins to learn at a hyper-accelerated pace and surpasses the entirety of humanity in knowledge, it is not dwelled upon that he stole items from various councils to accomplish his learning.  While it sounds understandable to break the laws of an absurdly oppressive future world, the general message, reinforced in the closing of the story, comes across as “Do whatever it takes for your own benefit.”  This is something to strive towards?

The problem with this book and the current flavor of individualism is the inherent exclusiveness.  Coming along with that is the despise and near hatred for fellow humans.  In this mindset, everyone is out to get something from you and you’re not going to share anything with anyone you don’t deem worthy.  In this mindset, you have no need for anyone else – unless you need something from them, of course.  The viewpoint that a person has no value whatsoever and contributes nothing to society is the default instead of the exception.  Trusting no one but yourself is the overriding belief.

So what becomes of a society of individuals?  How does anything move forward?  How can there be any progress without shared resources?  Consider a bunch of individuals living by a stream, each using the water for daily life.  A new person comes along and dams the river upstream so he can do whatever he wants to with the large pool.  That’s his right; he’s doing whatever his individual desires want.  The others downstream suffer.  Without any governing body, I suppose the dam owner would simply be run out or killed and the dam destroyed.  Sounds like an incredible world to live in, where whatever you make is yours and only yours.

The concept of radical individualism like portrayed in Anthem and in the equally absurd previous example are possible when there is no overpopulation crisis.  If someone cramps your individual freedoms, simply move farther away.  This, accurately, is how America got started and is how and why it grew so powerful.  but with as crowded as America is now, we have no choice but to be socialistic.  We do not have the space nor the independence (as in lack of dependence on others) to make this happen.  Maybe being a farmer in the rural Midwest would be suitable for such people, but not everyone can attain this.

There’s always such a big cry from the people who feel they’re being repressed.  “Why can’t I?”  “The government won’t let me (insert anything here).”  The answer is that what you want is not good for society.  Not everyone can go and start building a nuclear power plant, because not everyone will get it right, then we all have to pay for the mistakes.  The answer this book purports is that it doesn’t matter.  The only thing that matters is that it is good for me.  Although in the closing chapters the book came very, very close to using this phase, it didn’t.  The phrase, usually reserved for unmentionable acts, is “The end justifies the means.”  And to have a society built on that belief would be a terrible one to live in.