Political Thinking

Monday, September 16, 2013
Mom has always said I kept her up the whole night I was born, and more than a few over the couple of years since then. Sleep is so over rated, isn't it, especially when there are things to do and learn. But the last few years have been a bit troublesome on occasion. Those night sweats were awful. Worst, versus wurst, of all are those almost irresistible urges to move furniture... but there's always something better to do. I mean, like, moving furniture might cause a feller to break a sweat... on purpose.
.. and goodness gracious, people might even see.

So there I was, in the wee small hours one morning, working on a test system program but having difficulty getting my mind in the right gutter. As with any creative endeavor, to be effective we really need to get our groove on, and it just wasn't happening that night. In those instances it sometimes helps to work on something else for a while, something similar but still different, and in surfing around the internet this digital magic carpet landed on a name... John Forbes Nash, Jr.

Nash is the bipolar, paranoid schizophrenic genius, and Nobel Laureate, about whom the book A Beautiful Mind was written. He's also made significant contributions to the fields of mathematics, artificial intelligence, economics, and game theory. He defined what came to be known as Nash equilibria, a critical component of his theories of games and economics. More about that later. What reached out and grabbed me was an autobiographical statement at the Nobel Foundation website, to wit; "...gradually I began to intellectually reject some of the delusionally influenced lines of thinking which had been characteristic of my orientation. This began, most recognizably, with the rejection of politically oriented thinking as essentially a hopeless waste of intellectual effort. So at the present time I seem to be thinking rationally again in the style that is characteristic of scientists."

He "intellectually reject(ed) some of the delusionally influenced" and "politically oriented thinking" as a waste of effort. That's an interesting comment. Politically oriented thinking...

How often do we observe our elected officials, our illustrious and self proclaimed leaders, our champions in the hallowed halls of congress, worrying more about the political fallout of voting for or against this or that bill? Frequently, I think.

This past Friday, 13 September 2013, I listened to Tennessee's own, and Chattanooga Homie, Senator Corker being interviewed on a Knoxville radio station. He began by apologizing for being out of breath as he'd just finished a bicycle ride and hadn't been able to exercise for a couple of weeks. Pobrecito. I wondered how he'd fare out on patrol with 75 to 150 pounds of 782 (battle) gear strapped to his, uh, back like our nation's finest in Iraq, Afghanistan, or other hell-holes into which we send them. Then later in the interview he really brought to mind a line from an old 60s song, albeit the context was significantly different... "come on baby light my fire."

Now I'm sure he was absolutely certain making comments such as "what's happening in Syria is seeping out into the rest of the region" and "to me it's very important to us, to our national interests, that our nation maintain its credibility," that he'd spent hours and hours and hours in high security meetings on the subject, sounded presidential and powerful when addressing the issue of "limited military strikes" on Syria. They sounded rather Napoleonic to me, and causes one to wonder where the money's coming from to pay for these so-called limited military strikes upon a nation where both sides hate us and are killing one another, where we have no national security interest and there is no threat to our own nation, not to mention the very real possibility of unintended consequences from such actions.

It's easy for a politician to call for military action when the closest he's ever been to a firefight, or looking down the business end of any weapon held by someone whose intentions are questionable, has been a kilobuck a plate fund-raising dinner isn't it. When was the last time a politician, any of our political elite, ditty bopped into a feed store or the local farmers' co-op in places like Ten Mile or Beersheba Springs or Flintville or Midway.

If we observe our elected elite, Senator Corker, Senator Alexander, Congressman Chuck, Esquire, Congressman DesJarlais, MD, et al, one might easily suppose it's difficult for those of the elite ruling class to lower themselves to the level of us commoners while walking around singing that old Mac Davis song:

Oh Lord it's hard to be humble
When you're perfect in every way
I can't wait to look in the mirror
'Cuz I get better lookin' each day
To know me is to love me
I must be a hell of a man

Have we recouped all of those TaxBucks invested at a guaranteed return rate of 7 to 1 for Volkswagen yet? How about Wacker or any of the other businesses we've ransomed our first born male children to attract to the area? Gee golly gosh darn, those were our tax dollars too... and not even invested with the idea that we need to protect our national street creds in a land far away where people hate us but pose no direct threat to Americans as long as we stay away.

But we always have elections, don't we, as a couple of State Senators out in Colorado discovered when some Home Boys got uppity and went after them for attempting to restrict their 2nd amendment right to keep and bear arms... got them recalled. Outspent 7 to 1, Home Boys still prevailed. New York Mayor Bloomberg and his gang of political thugs couldn't even save them when the Injuns got restless, could he.

I'm still trying to get over Karl Rove's dismal showing during the last election... 1.3 percent success with the candidates his PAC backed with all that money.

Here we come
Walkin' down the street
We get the funniest looks from
Politicians we meet

Hey, hey, we're The People
They think their seats are secure
But we are gettin' busy
Maybe they shouldn't be so sure

Aw man, I'll owe Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart serious letters of apology for that one... and The Monkees.

Here we go, too, with those Nash equilibria. You see, Nash states that a game is in equilibrium when all the players have made the best strategic decisions they can based upon the information available, what they know of the other players' decisions, and that none of the players has anything to gain by changing their own strategy. It's a perfect example of how politicians have gamed the American people for decades. But that story is changing isn't it. Flowery speeches and flashy words have lost their glitter. Citizens and tax payers have finally discovered that "comprehensive" appears in the dictionary somewhere between bravo and sierra, so does "political thinking," and they aren't buying it any more.

If a genius like Dr. John Nash realized that his delusions subsided when he threw off the chains of "political thinking," what does that say for our politicians who make every attempt to determine the political ramifications of their thinking, or non-thinking, which ever the case may be, games?

I'll finish that test program one day. It's still on the pile of piddle projects to be worked on as distraction from those urges to move furniture in the middle of the night. But every time I begin to write code and look over the plethora of programming languages, the various dialects of BASIC, Assembly, C, C++, C#, visual this, drag-and-drop that, OoP, or whatever, I'm also reminded that computers process information as a series of 1s and 0s. I mean, like, how many ways are there to say yes or no? The entire field has been taken over by girls. The proof of this is quite simple, two words... the phrase "Okay, fine."

Royce Burrage, Jr.
Royce@Officially Chapped.org

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