Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

42 Astoundingly Useful Scripts and Automations for the Macintosh

Work faster and more reliably. Use Perl, Python, AppleScript, Swift, and Automator to automate the drudgery of computer use. Add actions to the services menu and the menu bar, and create drag-and-drop apps.

Use simple scripts and make your Macintosh play music, roll dice, and talk to you. Create ASCII art from your photos. There’s a script for all of that in my new book, 42 Astoundingly Useful Scripts and Automations for the Macintosh.

Essential revolution: lasting reform

Jerry Stratton, December 29, 2014

But true reform strikes at the heart of corruption. There are some aspects of our government—sometimes, of what we assume government must be—that create corruption. The concentration of pro-government lobbyists and activists in one place creates a cesspool of corruption: and by this I mean capitol cities. Here in Texas, I live just north of Austin, the corrupt heart of the state. But with today’s technology, do we really need a capitol city? Given today’s technology, most, if not all, legislative activity can be handled from a legislator’s home town. If it’s possible to live without a capitol city, that will vastly reduce the ease of corruption.

The power to tax is the most deadly power of the state, and it promotes the most deadly corruptions, as businesses bribe and lobbying for some beneficial tax law or tax loophole. The federal government’s power to tax makes it a one-stop shop for buying favorable tax laws for one’s own use, and unfavorable tax laws for competitors. But does this have to be the case? Perhaps taxes could be levied only by the states, and the federal government given a simple percentage or flat rate from each state. The states could then experiment with different tax mechanisms, without the interference of the federal income tax and other federal taxes.

The best literature of freedom, from Animal Farm to Brave New World, agree on one dangerous power of government: the power to take our children and each them what the government wants them to believe. Our government education system focuses on local communities, but over the past several decades the federal government has been taking over more and more. It’s time to pass that power back to the states, and even back to parents themselves. If parents can choose where their children are educated without having to pay a double cost, the power of the state is vastly reduced. And, as a bonus, the power of diversity is vastly increased. Rather than a single monolithic education, we will have a rainbow of learning.

Our current system of two years for representatives, four years for the presidency, and six years for senators is designed to keep us from making bad decisions in the heat of the moment. At one time senators were even chosen solely by state legislatures (though legislatures often passed this power to their constituents). That safeguard is gone, and it will not return. But there are other mechanisms that can save us from temporary madnesses. For example, we could require that all laws sunset five to seven years after they are enacted, unless they are confirmed by a two-thirds or even three-fourths supermajority at the end of that time period. Laws that worked will be easily made permanent; laws that create strife and division will not, and legislators will either need to let that law go or come up with a better compromise, one that the people can actually agree on.

And may you and yours have a happy New Year, filled with hope for the future!

In response to Essential Revolution: The Return of the Republicans: The crime of the day is when you do it again.

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