24 April 2014

brain dump

1) Game of Thrones so far has been good. With much going on. (Spoilers hence)
a) Arya finally gets back on the scoreboard. The Hound is still a poor companion to travel with, but better than most. As he might say
b) Baelish has a rather spooky reappearance and continued ruthless pragmatism. "Gold can buy a man's silence for a time. A bolt to the heart buys it forever" is not quite as good as the chaos is a ladder speech.
c) Joffrey, in case people didn't know, dies. Commencing most of the season's whodunit routine to kick in (but immediately setting that in place with a "I did it" routine that everyone on the show must then figure out, poorly)
d) Dany continues to be a badass. Dragons are going to be a big problem soon.
e) Dorn sounds like a fun place. This might have something to with Oberyn having an orgy every other scene he is in though.
f) Tywin's use of the Socratic method to school poor Tommen was worthy of Socrates too. The Socratic method is designed to get people to arrive at what you want them to arrive at, not to reason together. "Oh you have listed a virtue, here let me find the worst possible exemplar of that virtue. Pick another" is a fun game for a self-serving power-mad man. That entire scene with Cersei's nearly silent protests is very reminiscent of the sequence in season 2 with Arya telling him anyone can be killed for how well the silence speaks.
g) I think they mangled up the Jamie-Cersei scene. Badly. I have a hard time understanding the "well she doesn't want it, but then she does" as something that isn't a rape or isn't a problem for both of their characters' arcs. This has a lot to do with how it is depicted. I do not think it was somehow intended to calculate a degree of sympathy for Cersei. The previous sequence with Tywin was. That was not (she was asking Jamie to kill their brother after all). And I do not think it was intended to calculate a degree of "oh yeah, Jamie's a bad guy" either. His arc in the book makes more sympathetic than almost anyone (Tyrion, Dany, Jon, and Sansa being the possible exceptions).

2) I do not have a strong opinion in the great ranchergate standoff or whatever it is. From what little attention I have paid it, it seems like a conflict between the power of states to tax and the power of states to create takings, both of which to be enforced by court rulings, versus the recognition of states of the rights of individuals to own property and to use that property unmolested without unwarranted government seizure. Despite this apparently libertarian-ish theme, it is not crossing my typical political radar screen and isn't so over-the-top sensationalized in what I do see that it commands unreasonable quantities of media attention like the Malaysian airliner disappearing to make it unavoidable as a story.

In truth I do not find it very interesting except as another narrow anecdotal point about armed people who don't want to pay taxes. The fact that there are apparently snippets of him making absurdly racist and ignorant statements about slavery and the welfare state does considerable violence to any contention that he should be regarded as a heroic figure in this context.

My mostly-libertarian-ish politics may find resistance to government incursions worthwhile, but I also don't think it worthwhile to oppose the precepts of the existence of property as a commodity, which in effect requires the existence of those states to protect it. Eminent domain abuse or the related concept of asset forfeiture laws are very common issues that run through libertarian threads, but they typically are ignored in coverage where they are most commonly used (eg, against poorer people or minorities). If this entire hullabaloo encourages more reporting and coverage of such things where they impact all people, and not just favored classes such as reasonably wealthy ranchers as private land owners, I would consider that a success. I do not think most of the people cheering this on would.

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