Friday, February 18, 2005

New word
New term for a comedian: chortlemonger

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Lucky me
All this Social Security stuff has been making me think. I'm 56 years old. If Ray Kurzweil is right, there's a good chance that I'll be ready for Social Security right about the time when the scientists figure out how to make people live pretty much forever:
Many experts, including the authors, believe that within a decade we will be adding more than a year to human life expectancy every year. At that point, with each passing year, your remaining life expectancy will move further into the future.

As I understand the present proposals for Social Security, those who are now within ten years or so of retirement will be guaranteed full coverage for the rest of their lives. Now, following Kurzweil, that could be forever. Unfortunately, for younger people, no such guarantee is available, although I can well believe that the personal equity accounts that Bush is supporting will allow today's twenty-somethings to make a lot more money than I ever did on my admittedly spotty SS contributions. But the trade-off there will be no automatic guaranteed government income forever. I may be the last of the complete socialists, able to loaf indefinitely even when, because of medical advances, I could be working. Am I lucky or what?
Schema? Schemata?
I read somewhere on the Web about how a good army allocates its officers. Sorry I can't link to it, because I can't remember where. There are two continua, from Brilliant to Stupid and from Active to Lazy. So, the officers break down into four groups:
1. Stupid but Active
2. Lazy and Stupid
3. Brilliant and Active
4. Brilliant and Lazy
Group 1, Stupid but Active, are very dangerous. These men must be reassigned, transferred, cashiered, whatever. They will get many men killed in battle, or even in training, because they don't have a clue what they're doing and yet are always doing things.
Group 2, Stupid and Lazy, form the mass of the officer corps. They head almost all the field units. They're not dangerous, because, even though they don't know what to do, they do as little as possible. They're not very useful, however, because they can't figure out what to do. They do get along with the masses of soldiers, because they're very much like them.
Group 3, Brilliant and Active: These are the staff officers, who are always having bright ideas and doing things. They can't be successful field officers, because the men - and the Group 2 officers - hate them, because they're always pushing soldiers to do stuff. They're only useful at Headquarters and do most of the work there.
Group 4, Brilliant and Lazy, are the top commanders. These are the guys who can be relied on to come up with good ideas but to delegate the carrying out of those ideas to the Group 3s. Every few months they may make a tour of the front lines, but they're usually relaxing and drinking, like Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now or Nero Wolfe, who let Archie Goodwin do all the legwork.

My goal, of course, is to be recognized as a Group 4, even though I'm not in the army. Someone should write a management book using this schema (These schemata?) But I just got a new bottle of gin and it's been in the freezer long enough to be nice and cold....

Monday, February 14, 2005

Straightening out the tangle
I would be even more straightforward than Instapundit or the Goodridge case:
Yes, the creepiest line in the Goodridge case is the one about there being three parties to every marriage -- the couple being married, and the state.
Marriage is not a relationship between a man and a woman, it is a relationship between an individual and the state. Anyone who's ever been through a divorce, or even contemplated one, knows what I mean. The relationship between a man and a woman is called love. You do not - or should not - enter into marriage to get anything from your mate. The bonds of love are your only security with relation to the one you've married. Signing a marriage license application binds you to a certain standard of behavior set by the state, not by your mate. In return, the state guarantees certain financial benefits, including tax relief and inheritance rights. From the state's point of view, the beneficiaries of this relationship are the children of the marriage. The state has an obvious interest in keeping new taxpayers coming along, as without them it would fail.
It's hardly surprising that the expectations that many have of the marriage relationship are often disappointed. When love disappears, the bare framework of legal obligations is frequently insufficient to achieve the state's aims. Any woman who's tried to get the state to force an absent husband to pay child support, and any man who's tried to get a fair shake from the state in domestic litigation knows the incompetence and impenetrability of the state apparatus. These facts form just some of the background that make me shake my head in wonder at "gay" folk who actually expect state certification of their pretend "marriages" to do anything good for them or for the society as a whole.
Which forces an odd conclusion: Since successful results - well-reared children - from a marriage depend on love, and cannot be forced, and the state depends on successful marriages, the state itself depends on love. Who would have thought it?