Thursday, September 29, 2016

If You Can't Play by the Rules, What Should You Do?

(From last summer:)

Listening to the radio (Asahi Broadcasting 1008 ABC -- Dojo Yozo, my wife's choice), Russia's repeated efforts to show the world they are superior by irregular means are in the news again.

Superior by irregular means.

That means cheating.


LinkedIn sends me lists of current hot topics on their news regurgitator uhm, aggregater, and I took the bait last night.

Something about Wells Fargo's top level management getting to sit in the hot seat while some Congresscritter wonk roasted him.

My mom explained something interesting to me when I was a teenager.

Roasting people is easy.

Helping put the pieces back together is much, much harder.

Putting the pieces back together after a roasting is very much harder still.

Which activity has more value?

If Stumpf is a criminal and should commit 切腹 (seppuku) resign as a self-induced punishment, it looks to me like Warren is a hypocrite and a criminal. What should she do?

Yes. What the top management at every bank is doing to make ends meet is unsavory. They should quit doing that. Management should take severe pay cuts.

(The obscene pay rates were a proximate cause, of course.)

What Congress is doing is also unsavory. Let's go back to the Russian Olympic team.

If you can't win by the rules, what should you do?

A real sportsman's answer will be
Take pride in playing the game well, right, and fair. And playing hard, of course. It's not nearly as much fun if you don't put your heart in it.
The guy who is in the game for some reason other than the game will have other answers.

Some will shrug their shoulders because they don't really care.

Maybe they'll quit playing because it's too hard. That would be their answer, and maybe it's not a bad answer. At least they will step out of the way, even if they quit supporting the game.

Maybe they won't quit because, hey, it's a better way to kill time than doing drugs (or pornography, etc.). Their answer will be, "nothing special," which is also not necessarily a bad answer. Every game needs people who support the game by just being there.

Others will suffer angst. Why would they suffer angst? Probably precisely because they are not in the game for the game, but for some external gain.

The Russians (not the players, the politicians) are apparently in it for political influence. They are not the only ones.

Others will be in the game for monetary or other kinds of gain. So many are in it for praise -- from parents, coaches, teachers, friends, or even from people they don't even know.

Those who are in the game for gain external to the game have motivations which can not be moderated by consideration of the game. They don't care if their winning destroys the game.

If they cannot moderate their ambition, they must win.

At all costs, they must win.

Even if it destroys the game, they must win.

What will they do if they can't win the game?

Change the rules.

Sometimes we talk about "game changers" with awe. Changing the game can be a good thing.

But when it means letting certain players (and we all know who they are) use performance enhancing drugs, it doesn't just change the game, it destroys the game for those who don't want to use performance enhancing drugs.

I've thought about making two versions of the Olympics -- not that I have the power or authority to do so, but as a suggestion, perhaps, or maybe as a plot element in a novel.

One version would be for non-professionals. Maybe they train for an hour or two a day, but not for eight hours a day. They have other jobs to put food on the table. Life doesn't end if they lose.

Another version would be for semi-professionals. They train for more than six hours a day. They probably don't have other jobs. Life changes drastically if they can't win at least a few every now and then.

That much has been regularly suggested, but it's hard to figure out how to make it work. (We do have the world amateur games, sometimes.)

Maybe we could have a full-on professional world sports showcase. These games could be no-holds barred. Practice 12 hours a day. Use every technological aid you can. Performance enhancing drugs? Sure. Risk suicide if winning is so important. These games would be for the crowd whose life ends if they lose.

The problem is still how to make it work. You need rules. Lots of rules. Detailed rules.

The rules change the game.

If you can't win by the rules, change the rules. Add more rules to help your side.

So, what about Warren and Stumpf and the banks that have to win at all costs?

It's not just Wells Fargo, of course. That's part of Warren's duplicity. It's pretty much every major bank, and not just the banks that are cross-selling when they should be just letting the customer alone.

It's not just Dodd whatever, not even just Sore beans and Oak leaves. That's another part of the duplicity.

Sure, I agree with some of what Warren said, but she wasn't interrogating. She was committing the logical fallacy of taking target practice on a sitting duck. Shooting fish in a barrel.

It looks cool, and it accomplishes zero except helping her win in the public image contest.

We have to win. We can't back down.

So, what is the solution?

More laws?

Give me a break.

It comes back down to you and me -- to bringing back a social atmosphere where the multiple errors of the meme,
Nice guys finish last. 
are well known, and understood and accepted by all.
Nice guys finish. They sometimes finish first, even when the game is rigged.

The overly ambitious burn themselves out, and try to take the rest of us down with them. And they never finish.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Why Vote? What Does a Vote Mean?

Following on from this rant ( on the state of the current election and the use of voting for someone who supposedly can't win, I guess I should explain my theory of voting.

Some people say, "Why bother voting? You can't change anything anyway."

It's a lie.

If you don't vote, you sure won't change anything. Unless you decide to take the law in your own hands, at any rate.

Sure. One vote is like a grain of sand on the beach.

But if there are no grains of sand, there's no beach.

This is something that takes faith in your fellow man.

There are several ways to take the law in your own hands.

Anyone can find materials and make a bomb and dump it someplace where people will get hurt. Anyone can buy or make a gun and shoot it at the people they think hurt them. It makes a lot of noise, but what does it change?

It may seem like taking the law in your own hands, but it is really just doing the opposite.

It only makes people more determined to do what they thought they were going to do anyway.

If you have a lot of money, you can bribe people to do things you want them to. Sometimes it actually sort of works, but they aren't really doing it because they care. So it doesn't really work all that well.

If you have a lot of money, you can directly help people who need help. Buy wheelchairs, prosthetics, medicine, etc. for people who need them. If you have a lot of money, you can hire people who need a job to do something they can do (and write it off on your taxes). These kinds of things need to be done, by people who have that kind of money.

But, statistically speaking, you don't have that kind of money.

There are other useful things you can do. You can drive courteously. You can open doors for people whose hands are full. You can donate to crowdfunding projects. You can attend a church or social function that you sort-of believe in and encourage the others there to do what they can believe in.

Maybe you can't pass a miracle and cause someone in a wheelchair to suddenly not need the wheelchair any more. Maybe you can't give a person a job. Maybe you can't solve all the social problems in the world and win the wars against poverty, crime, bad health, etc.

But you can smile and say hello to that person in the wheelchair, so his life is a little less painful.

It's like sand on the beach. Little things make the world better.

If the little things don't get done, there's no beach.

If you vote, that tells the people who get elected that someone cares who gets elected.

If you follow up your vote by contacting the elected officials and telling them the good things they are doing, it helps them listen when you have to ask them to change something they are doing.

If you helped elect them, they may feel some duty towards you.

If you didn't, they will likely still want to see if there isn't a way to satisfy you, in the hopes that you'll vote for them next time.

If they are honest public servants and don't care whether you vote for them next time or not, they especially need to hear your opinions. Otherwise they make lose their desire to be public servants, and start giving in to the lobbies.

And while you are talking with them, they may think of something you can do, to help avoid making more laws and raising the taxes that more laws always generate.

Voting doesn't really end at the ballot box.

And that is why it is important to vote.

[JMR201610281721: Expanded a bit more on this here:]