The Government Doesn’t Owe You Anything!—So, Earn It Yourself

The Government Doesn’t Owe You Anything!—So, Earn It Yourself

—March 27, 2016

So I’m watching a news blurb on how Millennials are more idealistic than their parents. And, yes, watching because I’m trying to determine whether there’s any substance to the story, because usually such “generational” stories are full of subjective bullshit (please see March 21 blog: “Are You Really A ‘Millennial?’).

And then some weird graphic comes on the screen. I believe it’s the “Spongebob SquarePants” crab character, and he’s getting showered with money. The graphic states: “Many Millennials also believe the government should guarantee jobs and a high standard of living.”

Bing! I’m riled up, pissed right off, and ready to rant!

OK, you spoiled little Millennial twats…exactly why should the government “guarantee” jobs and a “high standard of living?” Why does the government owe you anything? What in your short little, meaningless lives thus far, have the bulk of you contributed to humanity, let alone to the country, state, county and city/town that supported you while you were growing up?

What exactly is it that makes you entitled to a guaranteed job and a high standard of living?

And let me pause here to note that I’m not just ranting at Millennials (and seriously doubt that the stupid graphic I’m referencing represents any “truth”), but am more ranting at anyone who believes that “the government” owes them anything beyond the bare basics as supported by the hard-earned tax dollars provided to the government in return. Those bare basics being:

  • defence (military)
  • security/safety (police/fire)
  • K-12 education
  • a bit of support for those truly in need
  • infrastructure that ensures smooth flow of transportation, energy and communications.
  • and yeah, maybe some help on the healthcare front (I’m kind of half-Canadian now, and partially believe in the merits of socialized medicine).

Anything beyond these basics is “gravy,” and I don’t understand why so many people believe that the government owes them so much more….

OK, so taxes might be a bit on the high side, but most of the people clamouring for “more” tend to be those paying the least. And if you’re not really paying anything into the system, well, then, piss right off and try to show just a bit of gratitude for what you are getting (i.e., the basics).

Let me make one last point: I’m pretty sure that those Millennials and others who might believe that the government should “guarantee jobs and a high standard of living,” also ascribe to the notion that the government should provide free college education to all.

Well, the government already provides support to those wanting a college education…. That is, support for those who’ve earned it. While not a “free ride,” the government provides generous college education support for those who serve in the military.

So, go “earn” your college-level education, and then pursue that job and high standard of living. But please, don’t expect the government to just give it to you.

—Originally published in Hash It Out! March 25 

Be Like Mr. Spock and Hash It Out With Logic in Mind

Be Like Mr. Spock and Hash It Out With Logic in Mind

“If you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be truth.”

—Mr. Spock, Science Officer/Second Officer; USS Enterprise

So you’re hashing-it-out with your buddy, who seems to have the upper hand and is poised to win the argument, but then you flatly state, “most illogical,” refute the tenets of his argument with ease, and then counter with your own logical brilliance, which proves beyond reproach and not subject to further dispute.

Sound far-fetched?

Well, it doesn’t have to be. All you have to do is be like Spock, and make sure that your side of the argument is logically structured….

OK, so that may prove to be a a stretch, but at the least you should be able to refute any fallacies within your opponent’s argument, which in turn should makes your position in the argument that much stronger. And guess what, fallacies tend to run rampant within context of most everyone (especially politicians) trying to make a case. The key is in being able to A) recognize a fallacy when utilized by your sparring partner, and B) then being able to swiftly articulate how the fallacy renders their side of the argument moot.

And, you didn’t hear it from me, but…familiarity with fallacies will allow you to utilize them when trying to bolster your own piss-poor excuse for an argument.

A fallacy is the use of “invalid” or otherwise “faulty reasoning in the construction of an argument. While some fallacies are committed intentionally in order to manipulate or deceive, many are construed by accident due to carelessness or ignorance.

Fallacies were originally identified by the ancient Greek philosophers, who basically spent their time drinking Greek wine, chasing peplos and hashing out every topic conceivable, from “what is the meaning of life?” to “does the soul reside in the heart or the mind?” to “what would be the best way to get Aphrodite into bed.” While today we at Hash-It-Out! are arguing about who would win the match up between Superman and Batman, some 2,400 years ago Aristotle and his buddies were undoubtedly arguing about who would win the matchup between Ares and Poseidon.

Fallacies can either be “formal” or informal. An argument based on a formal fallacy is always considered wrong, and can be proved so mathematically, while an informal fallacy may have a valid logical form, but may render the argument unsound due to a false premise. While there are less than two dozen recognized formal fallacies, there are more than 50 informal fallacies and numerous sub-variations of these fallacies.

Perhaps one of the most recognized formal fallacies is that of “affirming the consequent,” which mathematically is represented as:

  1. If X then Y
  2. 2. Y
  3. Therefore X

Or to put it in prose:

  1. If it rains my car will get wet.
  2. My car is wet.
  3. Therefore, it rained.

This represents a logical fallacy because it does not account for other possibilities. While the conclusion is an all likelihood true, something else—say, the neighborhood brat with a water balloon—could have caused the car to get wet.

While formal fallacies crop up in arguments, you are probably more likely to face an informal fallacy while you hash it out. In fact, you are undoubtedly already familiar with quite a few of them. Consider these:

Red herring—irrelevant subject matter inserted into the argument to draw attention away from the true subject of the argument.

 

The straw man—basing an argument on a misrepresentation of an opponent’s position.

Ad hominem (to the man)—attacking the opponent instead of the argument.

Appeal to authority—asserting something as true due to the position or authority of the person who asserted it.

Argument from ignorance—Assuming a truth because it has not been or cannot be proven false, or vice versa.

Begging the question—providing the conclusion of an argument as the premise.

Appeal to emotion—argument through a manipulation of emotions, rather than through valid reasoning (this one’s gotta sound quite familiar to all of you guys with girlfriends and wives—Doh! I’m gonna catch it from the girls for this note!).

Argumentum verbosium (proof by verbosity)—one of my personal favorites, in which the speaker utilizes so much jargon and obscure information that the audience is forced to accept the argument in lieu of admitting ignorance or lack of understanding.

So, know that you have a basic understanding about fallacies and logical reasoning, you might want to study upSpock-s-Brain-mr-spock-29467198-632-468 some more before you try to be like Mister Spock.

You can check out this website—Thoushaltnotcommitlogicalfallacies.com—for a more detailed primer on fallacies, or just Google “fallacy” to see what you come up with.

—Originally published March 22 in Hash It Out! 

Are You Really a Millennial?

Are You Really a Millennial?

—March 21, 2016

Are you a Millennial, a member of what is also referred to as Generation Y?

If you said “yes,” I have to ask, “how can you be sure?”

How do you know that you’re not a Gen. Xer? Or, on the other end of the spectrum, a member of the onrushing Generation Z?

Who or what defined you as Millennial, and under what authority? Or perhaps you “self-identified” (which seems to be quite popular within all matrixes of “identification” in the 21st Century).

I ask because journalists, market researchers and so-called generational experts spout off about “Millennials” ad nauseam, and yet few of them take the time to explain exactly how they determined what constitutes a Millennial, if they bother to delineate the generation at all.

Quick question: what are the Millennial birth years?

Ask 10 different people that question, and I’ll bet you get 10 different answers. You will also find a wide variety of birth-span ranges should you read 25 assorted Gen. Y-related news stories, market research reports or insights into the mind of the “Millennial” by an “expert.”

The same applies to a much greater extent with Generation X, the most maligned U.S. generation of the last 100 years. Let’s see, “Slacker Generation,” “Generation Me,” “Baby Bust,” and other negative monikers are often used to describe this generation. All undeserved, I must add.

For the record, I have the creds to debate this issue, because when I’m not writing for several other web sites and providing editorial consulting for various clients, I work as a demographic researcher.

And let me tell you, most of what you might read about Generations X, Y and Z is fraught with unsubstantiated opinions and likely not based on any substantive objective research.

Why, you ask?

Because few of the so-called experts delineate the generations or, when they do, explain any justification for their delineation. And, absent clearcut, logical delineation, objectivity is essentially rendered moot.

Consider this first in relation to the Baby Boomer generation, which was–for marketing purposes–the most studied generation in American history…up until the advent of Gen. Y.

Pretty much everyone agrees that the Boomers’ birth-year span started in around 1945/46 and ended in 1964/65, and that the generation’s birth range consisted of 20 years, which has historically been accepted as standard for delineating a generation.

But then came the Xers and that axiom was thrown out the door. I have seen Generation X delineated with as few as seven years, and have seen them described as starting in 1960, when most everyone believes that Boomers were still in full-production swing. I have seen more than 50 different delineations of Gen. X, in various articles and reports, with only about 25 percent making any logical sense.

Especially given that so many of the experts compare and contrast the generations. And, if the generations being compared are given different numbers for their birth-year spans then of course the comparisons are going to be flawed. Most of the “experts” talk about how small Gen. X is compared to the Boomers, but most of these “experts” only give the Xers a 10- to 15-year birth span, and sometimes, less.

Duh…. If you’re going to compare 15, 10 or less years of a generation’s births to 20 years of births, the generation in question is going to be comparatively smaller.

But, for the record, the X birth numbers were small. If you give Gen. X the standard 20-years of births and “logically” follow the Boomers by beginning the generation in about 1965, then yes, by births Gen. X was about 9 million smaller than the Baby Boomers. But guess what? Add a little time and a lot of immigrants to the equation and Generation X numbers almost grew as large as those of the boomers.

All this to say that the delineation of Generation Y, the Millennials, is all fucked up because the “experts” played around with Gen. X so much. I’ve seen Generation Y described as being born between 1980 and 2000, or 1985 to 2006, 1990 to 2002, and even 1977 to 1993. But at least they occasionally get a 20-year time span, though usually less, and sometimes more.

And just to complicate things further, the “experts” are already pontificating aboutman-mygeneration-Black-optimized Generation Z, waxing poetic about the characteristics of this still-emerging generation. And these characteristics are all over the map: “Least likely to believe that there is such a thing as the American Dream.” “More risk averse than the Millennials.” “Have a digital bond to the internet.” “Tend to be independent.” “Expect to find a job that will be an expression of their identity.”

A Job! Really…?

According to what would be the most logical delineation based on a sequential following of the Boomer Generation, the oldest members of Gen. Z are only 11-years-old, and I seriously doubt that these 11-year-olds are already pondering their future employment.

Oh, and some of these pundits are also asserting that Gen. Z is the largest generation currently alive in America, and/or the largest American generation ever, but I would surmise that these generational geniuses are either using an especially broad birth range, or just haven’t bothered to actually count the population numbers according to the delineation being used.

I believe that the lack of a universally accepted delineation of the generations is largely due to researchers and marketers liking it that way. It lets them move the goalposts in order to shift populations in order to fit particular preconceived premises, and then absolves them from any blame should their generational theories prove wrong.

So, next time you read an article about Gen. Y, X or Z, take note of whether the author has bothered to delineate them by noting their generational age span or birth-date range. If so, try to determine if it makes sense, and that the given time frames work in relation to other generations. If not, treat the article with the same skepticism you should be giving to the vast majority of 21st Century U.S. Politicians.

Oh, and for the record, the logical delineation of Generations X, Y and Z based upon sequentially following the Boomers with the standard 20-year generational time frame is as follows:

  • Generation X—born between 1965 and 1984 and currently aged 32 to 51 (est. U.S. population of 82.9 million).
  • Generation Y—born Between 1985 and 2004 and currently aged 12 to 31 (est. U.S. population of 86.6 million).
  • Generation Z—born between 2005 and the still-to-come 2024, and currently aged 0 to 11 (est. U.S. population of 40.4 million).

–M.J. Moye

Brilliant Skiing Ruined by Caustic Comment

Brilliant Skiing Ruined by Caustic Comment

So my 12-year-old son and I are on the Marmot chair lift. Not really chatting a lot because my son has reached that pivotal age at which boys figure out that adults are really, really boring.

We are crossing a couloir, which is a deep, snow-filled gully ripe for skiers way braver than I who are eager to take on its 170-degree walls, half-exposed rocks, wayward trees, and natural ramps and jumps. Two relatively tepid and timid snowboarders are making their way down when one aborts a jump by trying to veer off its summit, but ends up in a heap astride its peak—becoming a “Walrus” (a term we use to describe a snowboarder “at rest”).

Our chair passes over them as his companion says something along the lines of “are you OK?” but we can’t make out the muffled reply. The downed walrus seems a bit shaken, but starts shuffling himself off the small peak when we look up the mountain slope to see a skier racing down in a high-speed slalom toward the couloir.

Not even the hint of a pause—and trust me, I would stop at the edge and give long thought before making a descent—and the skier makes 20 feet of ever-so-graceful air before flawlessly dropping into the gully.

His skiing is beautiful and leaves me breathless, and my son and I both pivot in the chair to watch as he speeds underneath us and towards…

…the jump where the still-on-his-knees walrus has half-way scuttled off the bump, but stalled not knowing whether to go right or left because the brilliant skier is heading towards him at light speed. There is enough room for the skier to make the jump but he aborts by skirting the walrus on the other side. And then we hear it:

“Get out of the way, Dickhead!” says the skier, in a loud, nasally voice of spoiled contempt.

The skier is instantly no longer brilliant, no longer among the finest artistry in motion on that mountain.

My son looks at me, mouth wide open, with an expression best described as, well, a “12-year-old’s aghast,” though by no means feigned.

“Dad,” he sputters. “What a— He was… Dad, he was the ‘Dickhead,” he stammers referring to the hotshot skier.

Normally, I might have been inclined to rebuke my son about the use of such inappropriate language, but given that he may have learned it from me to begin with, and I totally agreed with him at that moment, I refrain (though I do have to chastise him later when he re-tells the story to his aunt and calls the Hotshot a “douce bag”).

“I hope he breaks his leg,” my son then adds.

And at this point I’m struggling, because I’m kind of wrestling with similar thoughts. But I pull back and give my son the twin spiels about how two wrongs don’t make a right, and that wishing such thoughts about bad people only brings us down to their level. And I probably did so with a similar lame level of eloquence as displayed here.

I also had to give Hotshot a bit of leeway because A) some skiers despise Walruses; B) Hotshot may not have realized that Walrus had wiped out; and, C) Walruses often flop down right where they shouldn’t.

Anyhow, while I’m not sure whether my words had an impact, that moment has stayed with my son, as it has with me…still dwelling on it two days later.

On several occasions while paused during a descent or waiting in a lift line, my son has nudged me in the ribs to ask, “is that him?”

“Who,” I reply.

“You know, the…’Jerk'” (though he sometimes tests me with the other term).

And I look, spot the indicated target, and determine that it isn’t him (who had been quite distinctive with incredible skiing finesse, red hair {Yeah, Hotshots don’t need helmets}, red bandana and an olive, check-patterned parka).

As for myself, I think I’m dwelling on it because of the utter lack of civility. There was just no cause at all for the Hotshot’s comment. The jump was nothing in the grand scheme of this mountain’s challenges, and puppychow in relation to the air the Hotshot had just caught moments before. Hotshot had the space to take the jump, and plenty of room on the other side of Walrus. And, for all Hotshot knew, Walrus could have been injured.

I don’t know, what had been a brilliant moment turned ugly in an instant with a simple, undeserved utterance. That lack of civility, that stupid caustic comment, was just so unnecessary.

And perhaps such a bellwether of the lack of American grace in the 21st Century….

Whatever Happened to “Black is Beautiful?”

Whatever Happened to “Black is Beautiful?”

—March 4, 2016

What’s with Americans wanting to be outraged all the time? Is it just me or does it seem like Americans across the country are perceiving everything as a possible insult or disparagement.

Black folks seem to be especially touchy of late, what with a light-skinned black actress playing Nina Simone in an upcoming biopic feature film stirring up the latest outrage….

And, oops, I may have just made a major faux pas, as I referred to them as “Black” rather than “African American.” But sorry, I refuse to use “African American,” as most Black Americans are about as “African” as a German Shepard is “German.”

Or to put it another way, if I were insulted by being called “White” and insisted upon being referenced to by a moniker based on my ancestors, then I’d be an English-French-German-Scottish-Spanish-Dutch-Acadian-American-American (please note that the “American-American” part of that description is due to some Native American blood in my line).

And I’m about as English, French, German, Scottish, Spanish, Dutch or Acadian as a German Shepard is “German.”

All in all, pretty ludicrous, eh?

So earlier this week a Black couple stopped into an IHOP restaurant in Texas to pick up a to-go order, and were “stunned” to find the words “BLACK PPL” printed on the receipt, apparently as a means of identifying who the take-out order was for.

The couple took great offense at being called “Black,” raised a ruckus on social media, contacted the news media, and garnered a quick public apology from IHOP and a firing of the wait staff who had erred by identifying the couple as “Black.” Because apparently calling Black folks “Black,” is racist…even if you happen to be Black yourself, which the poor waiter was.

Well, Rolman Sparkman, one-half of the aggrieved couple who contacted the media about the alleged slur, said the most “shocking” thing about the incident was that the waiter was “Black.” Though apparently Sparkman had no qualms about calling the waiter “Black.”

The fired waiter, Dwayne Williams, attributed his use of “BLACK PPL” instead of getting the couple’s actual names to the restaurant being especially busy at that time, and said he certainly did not mean to cause offence, and, “as a Black Prince myself,” was not being racist.

No word yet on whether the couple is planning to file a lawsuit alleging egregious harm and all manner of mental trauma due to the racist insult.

Which begs the question(s), would being called “Black” hold up in court as a racist epithet? Since when has “Black” been considered racist? And, whatever happened to “Black Power” and “Black is Beautiful?”

Kicking Off the Season—Just Me and My Boat!

Kicking Off the Season—Just Me and My Boat!

—March 2, 2016

It is an especially cold mid-winter day. The type day that gave reason to mammalian hibernation, as just trying keep warm in the cold of the open air would rapidly deplete an animal’s fat reserves. So cold that birds are reluctant to fly and the briny water of the harbour has iced over, encasing docks and mooring balls in a steely grip.

Any thoughts of boating quickly turn to thoughts of hypothermia and speculation as to how many minutes—or would that be seconds?—one might survive from an accidental spill overboard into the open waters. Thoughts of boating also quickly bring forth the image of the lonely boatyard, some 300 boats enshrouded in tarps and plastic, that are further covered with a thin layer of crusty snow. The place so still that it seems if the boats have been sitting there for years, like the headstones of a centuries-old cemetery.

But no, life will return to the boatyard, and in just two long months the first of them will be launched and the boating season begin again with the first whisperings of spring.

This idea of a “boating season” is something folks in the deep south and out on the southwest coast don’t have to contend with, as their boating season is year round. And yes, we boaters up here in the cold northern climates are envious. We miss our boats during the long winter season and sometimes wish we lived in a place where it’s possible to jump on one’s boat and take a toot on a warm (what’s that?) February day.

Sometimes….

We relish our short season, and with the annual changing of the seasons get to experience an elation that would be entirely foreign to you deep south and southwest coast boaters. It’s an elation equivalent to that experienced by children on Christmas morning—boundless joy over the promise of all the foreseen and unforeseen boating of the season yet to come.

It happens every year in mid to late April, after I get the call that my boat has been launched, rigged, and is ready to go. As soon as work permits, I load my truck with sails, sheets and the minimum gear needed for safety and comfort, and head to the boatyard. It is always a solo venture, as I like to savour the season’s first outing—that trip from the marina to my dock—alone, just me and my boat.

I am usually just about shaking with excitement by the time I climb onboard. And though the boat always seems quite the mess, what with mold in the cabin and the deck dirty with grit from the rigger’s shoes, discarded tape and broken clevis pins, it doesn’t bother me as my annual cleaning later in the week is just part of the overall spring ritual. I check the rigging and lines and inspect the boat from bow to stern, mentally checking off all the things that will need to be done to prepare for the season’s successful voyaging. The engine and its fluids are checked, and then the starter pushed, which will bring a smile to my face upon hearing the familiar sputter of the Yanmar diesel. The engine tested and ready for action, the sails will be hanked on next, a job much easier with two, but one I do happily alone, just me and my boat.

When all seems ready and I can cast off and head for my harbour, I crack open a beer and pause to enjoy the boat sitting quietly on the mooring. I look around at the few other boats that have been launched, all in various stages of readiness. I try to just relax and enjoy the beer, but the season has begun and I need to feel the boat move. So I cast off and put her into gear and head out of the harbor. If there is a favorable breeze I will unfurl the jib once I’m in open waters, and sail for my harbor, but if not, no bother as I am content to motor with the knowledge that there will be many months of sailing ahead.

It is the best day of the year, and the elation I feel while heading for my harbour—just me and my boat—makes the change of seasons and months-long absence of boating worth it.

—Originally published in February by slidemoor.com.