4/30/2018

Life in These United States, Then and Now

Educational Danger Signs

I just discovered that a friend who I’d worked with for ten years back in the eighties has a BS in Physics. From what I knew of his life and professional story, I’d always assumed he was a college dropout. There were lots of reasonable reasons that I’d made that assumption, but it was still surprising to find that not only did my friend attend and complete his undergraduate work, but he did it in the most difficult field in higher education.

This isn’t the first time this has happened to me. During my career, I worked with more than a few terrific engineers and researchers who said absolutely nothing about their academic life at the beginning of their careers. That might not seem unusual, unless you consider the fact that I was a part-time college student going nights and weekends for two decades and a full-time electrical engineer until I finally completed my own undergrad work when I was 43 years old. Many of my co-workers knew I was struggling my way through school and I had lots of conversations with quite a variety of people about why I was doing that and got even more advice on how to make college less painful. I had a fair list of professors and college instructors who were also personal friends and who also helped me figure out the devious path to a degree in a system that brags a lot about being “non-traditional student friendly,” but puts as little effort into that as possible.

The other end of that academic non-disclosure phenomena is the inspiration for this rant, though. During my brief stint as a college educator, I was suddenly surrounded by a wide variety of “academics”: from professionals who were winding up their careers as instructors to academics who had spent their whole lives pursuing academic credentials or leveraging those credentials into an academic career to recent college graduates with no life or professional experience. It didn’t take long to discover that the more useless and pointless an academic career had been, the more proud of that wasted time an instructor would be. I sat in course development meetings, listening to pitches for totally useless and frivolous courses from clearly awful instructors desperately trying to justify their existence in the institution, amazed at how corrupt academia could be.

An acquaintance in his mid-70s regularly feels the need to remind me that he has a PhD in one of the many trivial liberal arts self-study fields. He uses that “credential” to justify a host of marginally informed positions on everything from economics (he can’t balance his own checkbook) to science, mathematics, and engineer (with no background in any of those fields) to arguing the validity of his own field of study since the foundations of that field have been wreaked and reconstructed since he received his education fifty years ago. Literally, nothing he was told was true and incontrovertible has turned out to be fact and the thrust and direction from his former field of self-declared expertise has taken a 180o turn from when he was an active academic. None of that has any effect on his grip on his academic credentials as a weapon against all debate on every subject.

I wish this were the only time I’d run into this strange academic dychotemy. At a once-vocational school turned-academic failure where I once worked, the really obscure and mostly-unemployable academics (art history, cultural and linguistic anthropology, musicology and ethnomusicology, English and speech, and so on) became the political powerhouse in the organization and, in record time, drove the school to bankruptcy. I was blessed to get to watch the last five years of this American farce and tragedy from the distance of retirement, which took a lot of the sting out of seeing something good and productive turn to crap. However, I did get stuck attending a couple years of meetings with that crowd in the driver’s seat and it was both painful and enlightening. Their entire professional and personal lives revolved around their academic “accomplishments,” since no one had ever once paid them money for actual work or measurable productivity. Young and old alike, since their outside-of-academia “experience” was the same, these characters were convinced that their academic career was equivalent to actual work and should be regarded with the same respect as the music instructors who had actually produced products and services someone willingly bought.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to observe this weirdness up close and I’m gladder that my actual career preceeding that experience provided me with enough resources to be able to say “that’s enough of that” before it seriously pissed me off.

4/27/2018

Human Evolution?

When I was a kid, I read a LOT of science fiction. Since most decent literature was banned from my hometown library and the schools, the only thoughtful input I had was “Analog Science Fact and Fiction,” “Worlds of Tomorrow,” “Super Science Fiction,” “New Worlds,” and a few other magazines that led me to science fiction authors like Azimov, Bradbury, Clark, Heinlein, Sturgeon, Lem, and a collection of people who expanded my mind and universe. One story, among hundreds I barely remember today, that stuck with me like a bible or a philosophical text is Cyril Kornbluth’s “The Marching Morons”: probably the most accurately predictive piece of speculative fiction along with 1984. I’ve written about this brilliant novella and the derivative-but-stupid movie before, “Who Cares about Idiocracy,” and I’ve referred to The Marching Morons more often than I’ve probably written about Barak Obama or even the living evidence that we are in the twilight of humanity’s idiotic existence, Donald Jerkoff Drumpf.

The difference between Marching Morons and Idiocracy is as dramatic as the genetic space between Obama and Trump. The Marching Morons is funny, accurate, and brilliantly predictive. Idiocracy is . . . idiotic. The problem isn’t that intelligent human beings are not breeding and are vanishing; the problem is that idiots are breeding like well-fed rats and rapidly outnumbering the brilliant but slower-growing and much smaller species. Because of that, the species is rapidly splitting into mental haves and have-nots. For the moment, the rarer, smarter, more productive minority are supporting the growning horde of nitwits, but that never lasts.

The information humans have accumulated is now doubling every 12 months and that pace is constantly accelorating, but the majority of homosapients are not participating in that information revolution in any way. In fact, it’s likely that they might be getting dumber at an amazing rate. Not only is the dumbing-down happening in primative cultures like the Mideast, Russia and eastern Europe, the jungles of South America and Africa, the slums of Indonesia and India/Pakistan, and the undeveloped portions of the world, but in first world industrialized countries like Germany, France, Scandinavia, and Asia and declining empires like the USA and Great Britian. It’s not just that these humans are not keeping up with change, they are slowly regressing as stupid people breed and interbreed with stupid people. There is evolution on one hand and de-evolution in mass on the other.

knowledge-doubling-curveAt some point in homosapien’s past, the species must have peaked. There was likely a point where the majority of humanity was pretty much at the same mental level and where change and technology began to seperate the average from the superior. At that point, what author Yuval Noah Harari calls “homo deus” began to seperate from the herd. Sometime around the beginning of the industrial revolution, the acceloration of knowledge kicked into gear and WWII really amped it up several notches. The Cold War and space race kept the pressure on and pressure and diminishing resources are what force evolution.

knowledge-doubling-curve2The graph in the previous paragraph illustrates the shape of knowledge growth over the last 120 years, but what might really point out to you why this is generating so much stress is a graph of just the last 20 years (at left). An interesting feature of exponential curves is that when you drill down into any point of the curve, the rise is still startlingly exponential but you can see either the important moments where dramatic change occurred and/or the technology leaps that allowed/forced those changes. This list of milestones tacked on to the technical capabilities of our combined world cultures ought to be intimidating. If it isn’t, you don’t understand what happened.

overpopulationWhile the cream of our species is analyzing the make-up and state of the universe, the folks swirling the evolutionary toilet bowl are still clinging to the delusion that the earth is flat and god-given resources are infinite. If you keep in mind the incredible accomplishments of a grossly under-funded NASA in the last 20 years and paste that next to the fact that “homo uno” (or is that “homo oh no!”) is still debating among itself whether NASA managed to get a man on the moon almost 50 years ago, it should be obvious that cream is being seperated from the genetic milk by something resembling a nuclear materials centrifuge.

EarthOvershoot_mobileThe evolutionary drivers are progress, resources, curiosity, survival, money, and power; the usual suspects. I have always believed that as resources diminish, evolution speeds up. We are at a point on this planet where our resources are being chewed up infinitely faster than they are being created and renewed. Americans deluded themselves into believing that Peak Oil was a farce during the Bush years and accelorated that resource’s depletion to the point where nutty extraction activities like hydraulic fracking seemed like a good idea. That temporarily drove US oil prices down at the expense of billions of gallons of unpolluted underground and above ground water resources. Humans survived for thousands of years without oil, but without water we’re finished in a few weeks.

As best I can tell, no generation has seriously worried about the survival or welfare of the following generations. As much as humans jabber about homosapien’s capacity for planning for the future, that anticipated “future” appears to be about a year away, at the most, for most of our species. For most of our existence, that was probably enough planning since practically any sort of disaster was likely to wipe out everyone we know. Noah’s flood is a terrific example of a local event blown up into an imaginary extinction of everyone on the planet and a reboot of all other animal species. Anyone with the slightest grip on reality would interpret that biblical story as the kind of thing primative people would imagine if they had never travelled further than the next hill past their valley. A small percentage of humans know, today, how far away the next mountain range is and, more importantly, how far away the next livable planet is likely to be. They aren’t going to wait for the rest of us to struggle our way into getting a grip on the last century’s technology. Sooner or later, they will move on leaving “homo uno” behind to pick over the scraps and fight among ourselves until the dreary end.

4/17/2018

The Rat’s Book Club

Preface

I started this list in MID-April, 2018, the best and worst of times in my life and in my country. I decided to publish it before it was finished because . . . it’s my damn blog and I can do whatever the hell I want here. But, mostly, because I promised a friend that I would recommend some books for him and I wanted to get it out quickly for his purposes. However, if this list intrigues you I would recommend bookmarking this page and returning to it occasionally. I am absolutely going to be continually updating it until my laptop drops out of my cold, dead hands.

The List

In my life, there have been books that were integral to my career, books that informed me, books that inspired me, books that I wish I’d have read 40 years ago, books that entertained me, and books that saved/changed me. In a given week, I typically read 3-8 books; mostly for entertainment. But the book recommendations I’m leaving here are the ones that informed me, inspired me, those that I wish had existed when I really needed them, and those that saved/changed:

Books that informed me:

  • Everything technical by Don Lancaster, most of which are obsolete today. However, the book that probably kept me afloat and motivated the longest was The Incredible Secret Money Machine II, which is in its second edition (1978, re-issued for the 5th time in 2010) and is now available for free as an eBook here. At the core, ISMM It is a “business book” for artists, inventors, and the best of what are called “entrepreneurs.” The technology is mostly obsolete, but the business and personal advice is timeless. It’s hard to believe this book was first issued in 1978. I feel like I’ve had a copy for my entire life. The first Lancaster ISMM idea to take-away, don’t buy these books, get them from your local library and save the cash for necessities.
  • Several books by David Halberstam, who started me on my path to whatever political and social philosophy I have, but The Reckoning was a manufacturing history education: the parallel histories of Ford and Nissan from the turn of the last century to the mid-1980’s as told by one of America’s greatest non-fiction authors. I was lucky enough to stumble on this book when I was training engineers in Phil Crosby’s “Quality Is Free” program. The combination was instrumental to my life outlook and my love of manufacturing.
  • John Muir’s How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step-by-Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot belongs in both the “informed” and the “inspired” category. In its 19th edition, this 1969 book first saved me from my first serious car purchase (a 1967 VW convertible) turning into an economic catastrophe for my family. Then, it turned me on to a lifetime of mechanical repairs, inquiry, and lots of fun.
  • Soul of A New Machine by Tracy Kidder. This 1981 book was written when a “small computer” was about the size of a large executive desk, so the technology described is pretty ancient. However, the book is about management, leadership, and teamwork; all timeless subjects. Anything I ever attempted as a manager, teacher, parent, and co-worker was tempered by the things I learned from Soul. I have tried to read everything Tracy Kidder has written since and there are no lemons in his publication history.
  • Intuitive Operational Amplifiers: From Basics to Useful-Applications and Intuitive Analog Electronics by Thomas Fredrickson. This book drug me, kicking and whining like a little bitch, into the thought process that allowed me to become a circuit designer. I still own these two books, but Fredrickson’s other books about CMOS electronics and digital computers were also instrumental in keeping me employed for an excessive interval. Many of the viewpoints Fredrickson described are still part of how I think, teach, and work.
  • The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy by Alan Cooper. Have you ever wondered why software is so user-hostile and counter-intuitive? Have you ever experienced the sort of arrogance that only nerds and geeks display, where they imagine themselves to be superior because they’ve figured out one tiny strand of the computer world and feel compelled to flaunt that as if they were a high school bully? I stumbled on to this book about a decade ago and it explains everything I’ve ever hated about software. Re-reading it today explains everything about how the nerds and the internet provided Trump and the Russians a platform with which to wreak the 2016 election. On average, computer geeks are not complete people. They do not know how to work in teams, they put themselves and their power over the needs and good of everyone else, and they are close enough to being psychopathic as possible without getting locked up. Inmates explains why and how to fix it, but we probably won’t because part of the problem is that humans are emotional suckers.

Books that inspired me:

  • Further Up the Organization by Robert Townsend, 1984. I was incredibly lucky to have stumbled on Up the Organization: How to Stop the Corporation from Stifling People and Strangling Profits, the first version (1970) of Townsend’s management philosophy, just before I was put into my first management position. The updated version, Further Up, came along just when I began to be involved in managing a large manufacturing department and I kept my copy nearby for almost daily reference.
  • Another David Halberstam book, The Amateurs: The Story of Four Young Men and Their Quest for an Olympic Gold Medal. This book was part of four chapters in my life. When I first read it, in 1985, I was working for a hyper-competitive audio company, living in southern California, and beginning my drive for a college degree as a night student. The drive the California skullers used to win their place on the team and, then, an Olympic medal was inspirational and motivating. Almost a decade later, my youngest daughter was in a life-changing car crash. She had read this book when she was younger, but she read it again during her recovery and it helped to drive her to an incredible total recovery from her terrible injuries. “Nobody beats us,” was her therapy mantra. A few years after that, my father suffered a collection of illnesses and lost most of his sight. He listened to the Amateurs book-on-tape (read by Christopher Reeves) and it helped him carry on with his new limitations. Finally, in 1999 I went to a David Halberstam book signing and lecture. Afterwards, I brought him my hardback copy of The Amateurs to sign and told him what it had meant to my family. He told me it was also his wife’s favorite book and we had a wonderful conversation about writing, history, and our families.

Books I wish existed when I was young enough to do something with the information:

  • So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love by Cal Newport. This is the book that started this list. Brad, this one is for you. If nothing else connects with you, the “Career Capital” concept ought to, "The traits that define great work are rare and valuable. Supply and demand says that if you want [this work] you need rare and valuable skills to offer in return. Think of these rare and valuable skills you can offer as your career capital. The craftsman mindset, with its relentless focus on becoming ‘so good they can’t ignore you,’ is a strategy well suited for acquiring career capital." This concept, alone, would have changed so much of my life that I try not to think about it too much.
  • Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality by Paul Tieger, 1992.  Don’t get me wrong, Do What You Are helped immensely in helping me decide what to do after I’d left California, my family, and my career in 1992. But if I’d have had that information in 1965, I would have taken a totally different life path and had a more productive career.
  • Dr. Barbara Oakley’s A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science. I also wish I’d have had this book when my two daughters were in high school and, later, for their college careers. It would have changed all our lives, dramatically for the better.
  • Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity by Charles Duhigg. For me, the exploration of teams and teamwork was the core to the book, although I’m sure I took other things away from it. There are many counterintuitive things to learn about teams.
  • Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. Focus is the key to any sort of significant achievement. The key to focus is paring away useless or unproductive activities, leaving the essential task clearly in sight. I just discovered this book a few months ago and am still wrestling with the early stages. At 70, there may no longer be an essential task I care enough to take on, but getting rid of the inessential stuff is more than satisfying.

Books that saved/changed me:

  • The top of this list will always be Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Many claim to have read it, few have accomplished that feat. Everything from my “with a will to work hard and a library card” mindset to my willingness to study and understand new technology, to my belief in “quality as a lifestyle” was implanted by Robert Pirsig, who died last year leaving the world a better place than he found it. I have given/loaned at least a dozen copies of ZATAOMM and not a one has ever come back to me. Now, I have an eBook edition and it goes almost everywhere I travel. There are sections of this book that I have flagged for those moments when I need a reminder of the fact that “good is a noun,” not an adverb. Or, as Zen Buddhist practitioners would say, Quality is not something you believe in, Quality is something you experience. To me, all of that insight came from reading Zen and the Art.
  • David Halberstam’s Vietnam reporting in the New York Times was syndicated in the Hutchinson News, a paper my father delivered for a while. Those articles formed my opinion of the Vietnam War and of the US war machine and kept me level-headed during my 1966 draft process. You can get a feel for that reporting with The Making of a Quagmire: America and Vietnam During the Kennedy Era. Halberstam's relentless pursuit of truth turned into his The Best and the Brightest masterpiece about the people who drug the country into the Vietnam War and their gross overestimation of themselves and their brilliance. I could go on with David Halberstam book recommendations for a long time; everything he wrote was amazing.
  • At one time, when I was about 20, I went into a frenzy of reading “everything Bertrand Russell.” I still refer to the things I learned in his books and from his life and hold him as the highest ideal of a human being. Russell’s 1957 “Why I Am Not A Christian” was probably a turning point for me, as an individual. I read this essay in a collection of Russell’s essays, all of which were enlightening in the forceful way that word was originally intended. This essay is full of statements that highlight the religious fallacies, “If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause. If there can be anything without a cause, it may just as well be the world as God, so that there cannot be any validity in that argument.” Or “Nobody really worries much about what is going to happen millions of years hence. Even if they think they are worrying much about that, they are really deceiving themselves. They are worried about something much more mundane, or it may merely be a bad digestion; but nobody is really seriously rendered unhappy by the thought of something that is going to happen to this world millions of years hence. Therefore, although it is of course a gloomy view to suppose that life will die out—at least I suppose we may say so, although sometimes when I contemplate the things that people do with their lives I think it is almost a consolation—it is not such as to render life miserable. It merely makes you turn your attention to other things.” Russell rendered the idea of religion and gods to be so pointless that serious consideration of those ideas just withered into childishness. And religion still is, in my mind, nothing more than childish timid foolishness thanks to Mr. Russell.
  • The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck. I’m understating the fact when I say I am incredibly uncomfortable talking/writing about my life’s battle with depression. While nothing has alieved the feeling that I don’t deserve any part of the life I’ve had, The Road Less Traveled helped make it survivable at a time when I had less interest in my next breath than you can imagine; unless you’ve been on the same trip. I have given away several copies of TRLT and no longer own a hard copy. Life is survivable when the broken into categories of disipline, love, religion/philosophy, and grace and accepting the fact that life is difficult; if you can accept that as fact, it’s easier to tolerate the hard bits. Not a lot easier, but anything is better than the nothing gained otherwise. The worst thing about depression and any mental illness is that you, the patient, are completely responsible for your treatment. The possibility of outside help is inversely proportional to the intensity of the illness. The Road Less Traveled is a fairly useful guidebook to self-help and that is about as good as mental healthcare gets. 

4/16/2018

A Dumb Idea Compounded

In 1789, the “founders” of this country considered several options, including democracy, and decided on a distant cousin; a republic. A republic is "(1) a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law (2) : a political unit (such as a nation) having such a form of government." In theory, there shouldn’t be a significant difference between a republic and a democracy, if you can believe the “body of citizens” represents the majority of citizens. In the beginning of the United States, that wasn’t even close to being true. In fact, the only “body of citizens” included where white men who owned property. Over time, there has been a lot of yak about “one man/woman, one vote,” but it’s all bullshit. All throughout the country’s history, a good bit of our country’s activity has been about keeping some group or groups from voting to protect (you guessed it) white men who own property.

Tonight, I attended a Goodhue County board of supervisors meeting and saw how little democratic representation we have even at the county level. Unless you are one of the hyper-rich white men who own property, you might as well be dead and expect one of your representatives to bring you back to life. As a dispossessed member of the 99%, you do not have a voice in this “republic.” In this particular meeting, the overwhelming majority of voters filling the room where there to try and prevent the council from changing the county’s regulations regarding responsibility for monitoring the nusianse value of an enclosed pig factory. Regardless, the board voted five to three to approve the reduction in county responsibility. Meaning, local government has one more employee (the “feedlot inspector”) who has a job but no responsibility. The feedlot owner, however, got a county pass to pump unlimited water, pollute above and below ground, and no responsibility to the community in any way.

The county board and staff’s password was continually “as long as they are obeying the rules” they are not doing anything wrong. Of course, it should have been mentioned that the industry has been writing the rules (just like this local piece of . . . legislation) for at least 40 years. But the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has been doing a lousy job since Pawlenty and the Republicans started their version of Reagan’s War on the Future. At the meeting, we heard residents of Dodge County implore the commissioners, provide them with mountains of data, and even appeal to their humanity and patriotism to no effect. What passed for their minds were made up and this misrepresentative form or government proved itself to be corrupt and incompetent, again.

Apparently, the only semi-functional state government in this country is the referendum system; like:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Utah

You’ll notice Minnesota is not among that group. Minnesota doesn’t even have the lame “veto only” referendum option. Politicians and bureaucrats have way too much power practically everywhere, but if citizens do not have the power to override those vested interests, we get the kind of crap I witnessed at the Goodhue County commissioners meeting last night.

4/12/2018

Say "Wow!"

I don't often read a piece from the right or the left that does much more than depress me even more. In an odd way, Tom Engelhardt's piece today, "Tomgram: Engelhardt, America Last?" did the opposite. "So much of this has, of course, already been buried in the sands of history, but that’s no reason for it to be forgotten. Almost 17 years after 9/11, the parts of the planet that 'the greatest force, etc., etc.' was loosed upon remain in remarkable upheaval and disarray, while failed states and terror groups multiply, producing more displaced people and refugees than at any time since the end of World War II. Another great power, China, is rising, and an economically less than great Russia continues to hang in there militarily and strategically by force of Putinian chutzpah. Not surprisingly, American decline has become a topic of the moment."

The essay does an clear and insightful job of analyzing how far the country has fallen since 2001 and how many challengers have arose since we decided to stomp off on an "empire building" fit of hubris that put the wisdom and benevolence of the United States into such doubt that even our long-time allies began to make alliances that would eventually challenge American supremacy to the point that even the dumbest people in this country desperately went searching for someone who could convince them that America could ever be "great again."

Here is what we should have learned from our insane response to the 9/11 attacks, "Lesson one: It should have been too obvious to say, but wasn’t: Earth can’t be conquered by a single power, no matter how strong. Try to do so and you’ll end up taking yourself down in some fashion."

The United States is being "taken down" internally and externally and the lesson every failed empire has learned from doubling-down on military firepower is that a powerful military is never all it is cracked up to be. In fact, building a powerful military is always a precursor to a nation cracking up. "Lesson two: In the twenty-first century, military power, even that of the 'finest fighting force in the history of the world' (another presidential descriptor of these years), isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It doesn’t matter how many hundreds of billions of dollars you put into building up and maintaining that military yearly or how many trillions of dollars you sink into its wars and the mayhem they produce."

Engelhardt lists three other lessons the world should learn from watching the US disintegrate into a chaotic relic and he anticipates at least four more lessons we will learn on our way down the chute. It's worth reading if you are inclined to want to learn from history. Otherwise, you can be a typical American and keep your head buried in the sands of superstition and nationalism, you can chant the variations on "four legs are better than two" ("lock her up," "make America great again," "America first," "drain the swamp," etc.) until your unemployment and/or Social Security checks stop coming because the nation is bankrupt and dissolving. History is usually examined by the survivors, not the perpetrators. So, it's likely that everyone but the remnants of the citizens of the United States of America will be doing the analysis in the near future.

4/01/2018

The Face of Racism

face_of_fascismPick any one of these guys, they all appear to be the same privileged, spoiled, hate filled racist assholes. Have you wondered who they are, where did they come from, and how they ended up being such despicable semi-human beings? Some of these faces have become well-known, at least in their hometowns, thanks to the internet. The rest of us are left wondering if these people are our neighbors and that is the question we should be asking. Charlottesville, Virginia, to many of us, is the kind of place where we’d expect racism, fascism, and ignorance. It’s the South, isn’t it? To people who know the place, it’s more subtle than that.

face_of_fascismFor example, the Trump-spawn asshole front-and-center of this now-famous picture is a University of Nevada scumbag named Peter Cvjetanovic, who is now whining “I’m not a racist,” in spite of overwhelming evidence. Even when this guy speaks in self-defense and with some preparation time, he comes off no differently than his now-famous picture, “As a white nationalist, I care for all people. We all deserve a future for our children and for our culture. White nationalists aren’t all hateful; we just want to preserve what we have.” I assume he means his white privilege is the “what we have” he wants to preserve. Equally unsurprising, the University of Nevada is sticking by their Nazi student and employee. University of Nevada, Reno President Marc Johnson said, “There have been numerous inquiries about Peter Cvjetanovic, a student at our University who participated in the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. Based on discussion and investigation with law enforcement, our attorneys and our Office of Student Conduct, there is no constitutional or legal reason to expel him from our University or to terminate his employment.” Moral values are, clearly, not part of the student code of conduct in Nevada, since that would typically give the university plenty of leeway for firing a neo-Nazi if they cared about that sort of thing.

cole whiteA little more surprising is the story of Cole White, who lost his job at Top Dog, a Berkeley, California “libertarian hot dog restaurant.” Top Dog, a downtown Berkeley restaurant, posted a sign on its door saying, “Effective Saturday 12th August, Cole White no longer works at Top Dog. The actions of those in Charlottesville are not supported by Top Dog. We believe in individual freedom and voluntary association for everyone.” Supposedly, White “voluntarily resigned” his weenie job with his weenie employer who went the extra mile to let the world know they did not fire their neo-Nazi employee. The last thing libertarians want is for anyone to think they have ethics. Just ask Paul Ryan how Ayn Rand would feel about that. I have to wonder what kind of idiot would buy a hot dog from someone who doesn’t believe the state has the right to ensure the safety of food?

Mostly, the faces from Charlottesville are unsurprising. They are the the bad guy in every Karate Kid movie. They are the spoiled, upper-middle class kids whose parents foot every bill and enable every moment of their miserable, useless lives. Unfortunately, I think calling out every neo-Nazi, every homicidal militia Klan’er, every future abusive middle-manager or cop in that crowd is going to be a thankless task. The country has been breeding for this class of creep for 250 years.

By the way, both of you know you are going to be bald by 40, right? Enjoy that pre-skinhead look while you can.