part 1 here
part 2 here
PBH: Can we resume the interview?
HC: Sure. What do you want to talk about?
PBH: I'd like to know what sources you use for current events in the USA.
HC: How do you want to define current events?
PBH: Whatever you watch, read or listen to on a regular basis.
HC: For what subjects?
PBH: Political subjects. Social issues. Economic concerns.
HC: I'm not sure I follow you.
PBH: For example. Maybe you subscribe to The New York Times, or The Economist. Or maybe you visit Huffington Post. Or you listen to NPR.
HC: Does this imply some set of standards? Do those sources you listed qualify as some kinds of placeholders?
PBH: I was thinking about the kinds of sources I use myself.
HC: Gotcha. Is it okay if I use other sources?
PBH: As long as you list them.
HC: Well, I talk to my friends. See what they are talking about. Who they listen to, what they read.
PBH: And do you use the same sources as your friends?
HC: There was a time when I did. Sometimes I do now. Not often.
PBH: What does that mean?
HC: Around 25 years ago, I used sources similar to what most of my friends use now.
PBH: But you don't now.
HC: Not really.
PBH: And why is that?
HC: With each source I reached a point where their bias was tangible and once I noticed that bias, I would get a bad vibe on further encounters with the source. Like they were lecturing me. Politely, but still telling me what's good and what's not good, through the slant and tone and tenor of their presentation. Like they're saying, "these are the good sources and/or experts, the ones we're citing or using in our broadcast, and those other ones are baaaaaad."
PBH: This was a problem?
HC: The bias I suppose is inevitable in a partisan society like ours, but that doesn't mean I have to agree with something Team A says is good, or disagree with something that Team B says is good. I kinda quit peer pressure games around 7th grade. Maybe 6th. I like to look at things from a will it work? perspective. I find the tribalist view ultimately is doing -- what was that phrase from the late 80s era, the soft bigotry of low expectations? -- it's doing that. It's settling for the A vs B without seeing that A vs B is not dealing with what happens to us peons down here at the XYZ end of things.
PBH: What does that mean?
HC: Unless you are working at the level of a US Senator or a cabinet head, or are one of the toybox donors for a fed politician's campaign, or are one of the well-connected businesses who benefit from porky pig slaughters in the congressional mess hall's killing room, it really doesn't matter whether A or B is the good team or the hero or the well-intended one or the more progressive one. It really doesn't. I don't know how someone can watch Bush/Cheney swap out, and Obama/Biden swap in, in the most seamless manner imaginable -- and actually with more effectiveness in the worst areas -- and still think it's about A vs B and your team being superior to their team.
PBH: You don't think we have to stick with the system we have, warts and all? You sound like an anarchist. What was your response to the Boston Marathon bombing?
CBR: Doctor, I just want to interrupt because that's actually three separate questions. Can you ask them sequentially, as separate questions?
LSL: OBJECTION! You're ordering around my expert again!
CBR: Lyspe, seriously. That's enough.
PBH: Mister Caidagh, do you think we should stick with the system we have?
HC: You mean that whole change from within idea? That system?
PBH: Yes. Using the system we have, and trying to improve it.
HC: I don't see the point. Well. That's not exactly correct. I guess if I think about it as an addiction, something you crave even though wanting and using it is bad for you, and deluding yourself on how it's going to work out in the end -- yeah, if we use that metaphor, it starts to make sense. In fact it's a lot like heroin addiction. Yep.
PBH: You have been addicted to heroin?
PBH: So your metaphor isn't that good. Is it?
HC: Have you ever been a member of Congress?
HC: Then you really shouldn't be talking about whether Team A vs Team B is working out well for you, should you?
PBH: I don't understand.
HC: Exactly. The addict's dilemma. I want this. I want this outcome after doing this. I want it to keep going on, forever and ever, like that. Every buzz better than the last. Every memory of a buzz making me want a bigger buzz next time. Yeah. It really is a solid metaphor. I'm going with that.
PBH: You seem to be off on a tangent here.
HC: The pull of believing in the likely success of change from within politically, that's a lot like the pull of the ultimate buzz from whatever substance or act or psychodrama you're addicted to.
PBH: You're really out there.
HC: I'm sorry. In about ten years, the people on your team will have accepted the truth I just shared, but as their history shows, that acceptance will be ten years too late. But still, your team's supporters will say, "better late than never." That, or the other variety, "the terrifying person on the other team really was horrible in his public statement on the issue, and we don't want that reality!"
PBH: Mister Caidagh, I'm not really following your answers very well.
HC: It's that metaphor block, isn't it?
PBH: What does anything you said in the past 7 or 8 answers mean? Are you a Republican, or are you a Democrat?
HC: I choose C. Or maybe D. Possible I'd go with E, F, G or any other one.
PBH: We're back to the rugged individualist again, aren't we?
HC: No. Maybe this time you'll believe me when I say the word rugged doesn't apply.
PBH: Did you read Ayn Rand ever?
HC: I did. I read The Fountainhead and I read Atlas Shrugged. In 1991, 92 era.
PBH: Did they inspire you?
PBH: Did they make you want to do things differently? Did they change your viewpoint?
HC: They only changed my viewpoint on what each book was about, actually, as compared to what others had told me each was about.
PBH: They didn't influence your political views?
HC: No. I can't imagine a political manifesto based on her views as implied through the two books I read. She's kinda black-and-white about things. I remember thinking she simplified a lot of things just to create an us-vs-them dynamic in her tales. I wasn't impressed by her social theories about government vs business, and wasn't really convinced by the extent to which highly individualized people seem to succeed almost cartoonishly in her two books I read. On the other hand I think she's correct about how bureaucracy and corruption make people prone to want an opt-out like Galt's Gulch -- if you accept her cartoonish world, that is. I don't think a Galt's Gulch could arise in America today, even if you could put together a cluster of rich people interested in something like that. I also don't think that businessmen, if left alone with their will-to-profit, are going to be wise about resource use and other social impacts and costs related to their operation. So I don't really have a lot of respect for her view as a scheme. I think she had some points right. I think she got a lot wrong. But I think she's correct about individualism being important, at least for people who are driven toward an indiosyncratic end. I think what bugs people about her views is that a lot of humans just want to belong to one big happy family, and to those kinds of people, individuals are somehow threatening.
PBH: So you're not a libertarian?
HC: Huh? I'm surprised someone's suggesting that category for me. What's it based on?
PBH: Your blog entries seem like they are Republican but you say you're not following Democrat vs Republican, so that leaves only libertarian.
HC: Really? I have only 3 choices?
PBH: I suppose there's also the Greens and the Communists and the Socialists on the Democrat side, and on the Republican side they have the God Squad too. But those all seem like versions of Democrat and Republican. Nobody ever votes for any of them.
HC: So if you were the owner of a Baskin-Robbins franchise, and most of your customers bought either chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry, would you ditch all the other flavors because most didn't want them?
PBH: That's different. Baskin-Robbins created a business model around 32 flavors. We don't have an American Democracy model built around a large number of party flavors. What we really have is a model built around Democrat vs Republican.
HC: That's my point. Well, one of my points, at least.
PBH: You're confusing me now.
HC: Americans ignore every choice except Their Team against the Enemy Team. And when doing this, they force themselves to choose between two versions of the same system. And the versions are not really meaningfully different. It would be like being at Baskin-Robbins and having a choice between a vanilla that is 60% vanilla 40% chocolate, and a chocolate that is 60% chocolate 40% vanilla. And you could argue over whether that little 10% flavor split difference from 50-50 is actually meaningful.
PBH: Now you're really confusing me.
HC: To make it extra palatable, you'd have to call the 60% vanilla version something like UberVanilla, or The UnChocolate.
PBH: I don't really like chocolate ice cream. It seems so -- I don't know -- working class.
HC: Most of those who choose the 60% vanilla version would agree with you.
PBH: I'm very hungry. Could we possibly break for lunch now?
HC: Ask Lyspe if his poppers contact is ready to meet.
LSL: OBJECTION! I'm going to The Gringo Cantina for jalapeño poppers, and I object rather strenuously to Caidagh's continued efforts at impugning my habits and preferences.
CBR: Let's take an hour for lunch. It's obvious this is going to take all day, and possibly longer. Lyspe, please try to be back here by 1 PM.