Justice, of the Social Sort

Social justice only happens when we treat people as individuals in accordance with their conduct.

However, most of what writers try to float as "social justice" is some variant of robbing people like Paul to pay people like Petra. The Pauls are given less than their conduct deserves out of some warped notion of tribal guilt.

That is not justice of any kind.

To Rent or To Own... To Be Employed or To Own

How many people have said to me that they think renting is throwing money away but owning goes toward somethiing. Many.

How many of these people consider whether working for someone else vs. starting and owning your own business is the same question. Very few.

What Social Justice People Want From You

People who make a lot of noise about social justice aren't very clear about what the end game is for all of their noisemaking.

They can't name it explicitly because, deep down, whether they know it or not, their end game is your guilt. And your guilt is their power.

They can win this only with your assent.


Live your life the best you can playing the hand you were dealt. Live like your long-term happiness and well-being are your primary goal.

Sure... help others from time to time, but for your own reasons. Share your truth for your love of the truth. Share your knowledge for the love of knowledge. Share with people whom you enjoy because of their love of their own lives.

Never let sacrifice or guilt become your motive power. Never apologize for your priority of fact over feeling.

Wax On, Wax Off: The Arpeggio Meditation by Daniel Ward

Ukulele Magazine recently featured an article written by Daniel Ward on practicing arpeggios slowly and another article expanding on it.  I've incorporated meditative fingerpicking into my daily practice first thing to get focused on breathing and listening. 

I have also adapted the practice for the key of G Major:


Fingerpicking practice, breathing, and listening. Arranged by Francis Luong (Franco)

G                                 Gmaj7
    Gtr I

  Em7                                 Em6

  Cmaj7                               D7sus4            D7

  G                                   Cm

The Good, the Bad, and PowerTab

I decided to try assembling a tab using powertab which is pretty old these days and hasn't been maintained.  I don't suspect I'll continue using it.  Print output has severe issues with title alignment on Windows 10.

My inelegant workaround is ASCII output, which permits me to adjust the text.  I just don't think I have the patience to PDF, screenshot, and crop after using that dreadful interface.  

 screenshot and crop from PDF

screenshot and crop from PDF

How to Be An Asshole and Feel Good About It

(Warning: Turn on the sarcasm filter.)

The Formula

If I care about...

  • (Group 1: the victim... please select one or more)
    • women
    • gays
    • transgendered
    • blacks

...then I have a license to belittle, harrass, and disrespect people who are...

  • (Group 2: the privileged... please select one or more)
    • men
    • straights
    • cys-gendered
    • non-blacks

...and anyone who criticizes my arguments in favor of the same victims.

The Mentality of the Enforcer

"The privileged" (Group 2) have no ground on which to demand common decency unless they first pound their chests about how privileged they are.

Unless they understand the depths of their guilt, we will treat them in accordance with that guilt.

By treating "the privileged" badly, I am being kind.  I am increasing net kindness in the world.  And I am only being mean to people who deserve it.  Their lack of inclusiveness as evident by their lack of making similar noises is all the evidence I need of their bigotry.

There is no live-and-let live with bigots.  You can't ignore them.  You have to shout them down and make civilized conversation impossible for them.

Only by making the right noises can they prove their innocence.  Maybe then they can they be permitted to be heard.

You can tell a person isn't a bigot because they also shout down bigots.  Support these people.

Anyone who disagrees is a bigot or is giving comfort to the status quo.  They stand in the way of social progress.  They need to be treated like bigots.

If I have identified a new type of victim that other people aren't including, I've changed the game and I'm a winner.  I get to mistreat any people who don't acknowledge this unsung victim until they start making the right noises.  I love this game!

In the end, the world is going to be such a kind and inclusive place!

I'm really making the world better!

Pooping rainbows and love out of my ass is amazing!

Franco Q2 2017: 90-day Lookback

Ukulele Practice Everyday

Pretty sure I played ukulele every day in the last quarter.  On the days I didn't feel well, I played for 30 minutes or so and then shut it down.  On the really crazy days, I put in about 4 hours.

I can spend 20 minutes a day practicing a song that is only 2 minutes long and still not have mastery over it after a month.  And so, I have a lot of respect for people who make it look easy.

I've been recording video of my practices.  I was doing this selectively at first but found that I was too nervous about "getting it right" for video and it didn't feel natural.  So I decided to purchase an external 4TB USB drive and now I am recording nearly every minute of my practice.  I burned ~3.2GB of storage just yesterday.  It's an extravagant use of storage, but totally worth it and storage is cheap.

I posted 3 videos to my Youtube channel and 9 videos to my Instagram profile.  I've been embracing a mode of "Document, Don't Create" and it's a lot easier for me to just post something that has rough edges with that mindset.

The 50 songs project is going strong, albeit slowly.  I now have a combined 43 songs on my "accepted" and "active" lists.  The instrumental solo songs take a good bit longer to be able to play but are very rewarding.  I have found that most of my energy goes toward this and I am fine with slowing down the project for this purpose.  James Hill's site, The Ukulele Way has been the most important resource in my development during the last 90 days.

Also, I finished working my way through Harmony and Theory and I am now pursuing Ear Training during breakfast.

Physical Challenges

Q1 2017 presented a number of physical challenges for me.  A shoulder injury sustained while practicing Jiu Jitsu has made me reluctant to do pull-ups since January and those were a staple of my workouts.  So I've switched to resistance bands and I am doing my own rehab.  I can now do half height (to 90 degrees) pull-ups without too much distress.

And, just a month ago, I found out just how bad it is to add miles really quickly.  I ran so much I limped for a week.  So I put myself on the injured list and I will not be running either of the races I listed on Franco Now: 2017 1Q.  That being said, I did run with The Raven in Miami when I was there in January, so I had my fun.  I am still proud of most of my training but I am looking forward to taking a break from running to heal up.

Time Enough for Heinlein

I read a LOT of Heinlein.  Added many quotes to my Aphorisms page.  I think I've just about had enough of him.  So going to move on to other readings.  Dune perhaps.  And more Sanderson.

Strong Tech

My tech development went pretty well during Q1 2017.  I made a conscious effort to spend more time working on frontend Javascript/ReactJS/BootstrapCSS work and it has paid off nicely.

I have agreed to take on Scrum Master role for the team so I will have study up to understand how I can help the team to better organize and turn our hard lessons into new cultural practices.

And Other Things As Well

I hosted two WDS Local DC meetups.  I do a roll-call in the days before each to ensure a quorum before proceeding.  It works well enough.

I didn't do so well at contacting a friend each day but I feel like I did pretty well at keeping in touch with remote buddies.  I averaged a phone call with a long-distance friend about once every 2 weeks and even managed to get some people on/before their birthdays.

I started the process for becoming a volunteer with the County.  Going to try to focus on assisting Seniors with living during 2017.  And I am hoping that I can incorporate ukulele into this.

Healthcare, Government Mandates, and Individual Freedom

Language choice lesson:  When you believe in the right of government to dictate to insurance companies what they MUST cover, you might also refer to it as government TAKING AWAY coverage when that mandate is removed.  (maximum hyperbole achieved... break out the torches and pitchforks)

But when you actually ask WHY the government has any business making mandates to insurance companies and you don't take it as a given... removing a mandate might be perceived as a movement from coercion toward freedom.

As an aside, it's interesting for me to ponder people who run startups but react favorably to government control of health insurance and medicine.  I think it's contradictory to do so.  Startups do well because they enjoy a large degree of freedom on HOW and WHAT they do.   And often they see no problem with DISRUPTING things like regulatory taxi cab franchises imposed by the government.

But, somehow medicine doesn't get the same treatment.  I mean it's life or death!  So questions like these don't automatically fall on the side of freedom:

  • Will government mandates will manage not to reduce innovation and investment? (blank out)
  • Don't insurance companies have a right to try to structure different business models that might change the entire industry? (blank out)
  • Wouldn't burdensome government regulation give advantages to larger businesses than smaller ones? (blank out)
  • Who the hell would want to start an insurance company given a trend of increasing regulation and decreasing freedom?  (Maybe the world just needs another social media app)
  • When costs get too high, how long will I have to wait for a procedure if I don't have political connections? (blank out)
  • When waits get too long, will I have to call my senator to get things moving along?

In the end, we still need to answer for Liberty.  Does it matter?  Do we still believe in it?  And if so, by what right do mandates like the ACA force us to pay penalties for our only real right: to get to decide for ourselves what we will and will not do.

A lot of people think of a guarantee of health care or basic income as a matter of kindness.  They think of it in terms of what kind of guarantees a prosperous society can provide.  But will society remain prosperous if we go about destroying the foundation of prosperity? What about freedom? 

Folks, I don't see it as a country that believes in freedom if the government can tell a person they MUST buy insurance or pay a few hundred dollars to the government for no reason.  

What will they tell us we must tomorrow?  I mean... all a government seems to need is the right justification, the right notion of duty which will get them 51% of the vote to support it.  And that's assuming a weak one.  

What could a guy who doesn't even give a shit about freedom like Vlad Putin require?  Because a guy like that can get elected.  (The people who use kindness as a motivation for instituting government control of medical care tend to assume benevolent government but that is neither a law of nature nor statistically probable)

Look... those of us who believe power corrupts and absolute power corrupts, absolutely, HAVE to ask this question: What happened to universal and inalienable rights?  Because everything I hear about these days sounds fucking alienable to me.

Government should begin with the premise of every person having fundamental rights to act according to their judgment in pursuit of their lives, barring violations of the same rights against others (force and fraud).  

In the age of pragmatism, these ideas are dated.  It's old-school to even believe in principles.  It's laughable to believe in absolutes.  Whatever... I am what I am and I have never been good at winning the popularity contest.  

My friends might be surprised to know that I'm with the Republicans that want to repeal the ACA entirely.  Frankly I don't even think that would go far enough.

My vision for better health care is a government retreat from regulation of it.  No mandates.  Less regulation and thus more new entrants and more stale model disruption.  New smaller organizations to organize and share the burden of medical risk (which is supposed to be the job of insurance companies).  No artificial state boundaries.  Delete tax deductions for health care insurance premiums for employers and make the playing field level for individual buyers.  Voluntary charities to help provide insurance to those in need.

Probably won't happen in my lifetime. 

Observations on Resentment

This morning after reading a vague emotional post by a woman who has decided to write off white women...

Two friends and I set up a rule — no more white women for 2017. We are not accepting friend requests online or in real life. We don’t have the energy required to vet people and then wait for the other shoe to drop.

Can't help but muse that people who truly develop self-esteem can't get this upset by not being seen by others. People who establish good boundaries are not subject to surprises by who she thought other people were.

You cannot base your self-esteem on accidents of your birth. Your race. Your height. How good looking you think you are.

Neither can you base your self-esteem on your relationships. The people who try this always end up resentful and bitter. (And, apparently, more than a bit racist.)

I suspect the most important thing to your self esteem that you can do is to look at the world and decide what you're going to try to be. Then do it. Then check in and ask yourself how it's going.

It is my prediction that people who are intentional and rational harbor fewer resentments toward others. There are probably fewer incidents of misplaced trust as well. When you begin with the idea that no one else owes you anything, every kindness is a gift rather than an expectation. The people in whom you take pleasure are enjoyable for their own sake for as long as those interactions last.

What is the relationship between expectation and resentment? What is the relationship between ideas about moral duty and expectation? How is it that people you barely know can "betray" you so badly you are "waiting for shoes to drop"? What would happen if you just accepted people the way that they were and interacted more with the ones you sincerely enjoy without trying to change the ones you enjoy less?

These are all questions of attitude. And they are worth muddling through for a person who seeks to understand themselves and spend more time acting out of self-worthiness than resentment of others.

That's a worthy goal isn't it? To spend more time acting out of your self-worthiness. Sounds good, anyway.

Moral Trickery Files: Ancestral Guilt

Here's an opportunity to practice philosophical detection. Consider the headline and main quotes of this article:

African Union criticises US for ‘taking many of our people as slaves’ and not taking refugees | The Independent

“The very country to which many of our people were taken as slaves during the transatlantic slave trade has now decided to ban refugees from some of our countries,” said Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

The statements of politicians worldwide are loaded with moral trickery... fallacies intended to confuse you so that you simply concede the point.

I wrote the following as a comment to this article on a friend's wall.

I must reject the person quoted as a person who panders to the notion of Ancestral Guilt. His assertion deems Americans today to be as equally guilty of slavery as the ones who actually perpetrated it in the past.

Effectively, one could abstract this and say that the speaker believes that You and I assume moral guilt for the actions of those who came before us. This is a mess, because where does it stop. Could the same tactical maneuver be used to re-assign the blame earned by Muslims that kill onto the ones that do not?

Further, what of the African collaborators involved in the slave trade?

"The historians John Thornton and Linda Heywood of Boston University estimate that 90 percent of those shipped to the New World were enslaved by Africans and then sold to European traders. The sad truth is that without complex business partnerships between African elites and European traders and commercial agents, the slave trade to the New World would have been impossible, at least on the scale it occurred."

"...The African role in the slave trade was fully understood and openly acknowledged by many African-Americans even before the Civil War. For Frederick Douglass, it was an argument against repatriation schemes for the freed slaves. 'The savage chiefs of the western coasts of Africa, who for ages have been accustomed to selling their captives into bondage and pocketing the ready cash for them, will not more readily accept our moral and economical ideas than the slave traders of Maryland and Virginia,' he warned. 'We are, therefore, less inclined to go to Africa to work against the slave trade than to stay here to work against it.'"

Perhaps history forgives the villany of African slavers because there is no political gain in flogging it.

Much as I agree that Trump's order is an immoral clusterfuck, this article's premise is objectionable due to the moral shell game described above.

A Thousand Years by Christina Perri - Ukulele PDF

One of the songs I've been working on the last couple weeks has been "A Thousand Years" by Christina Perri. I love me some ballads in 6/8.

What's nice about this tune is that I've had to learn it on the Bass Guitar in the past to play with Mama's Black Sheep when I used to play bass more and they let me come out and play.

What's nice was that the song was already really familiar to me and I like it a lot despite a source that is guaranteed to revoke anyone's man-card: the movies from Stephanie Meyer's Twilight Series.

Screw the source... it's a good song. And getting it down on Ukulele was even more enjoyable than learning it on bass because the chords have really nice musical lines.

Below are Youtube Links to recordings of this song by my beloved friends from Mama's Black Sheep and the original recording by Christina Perri.  Have a listen to both and tell me which one you think is better.  

The Mama's Black Sheep version is publised on the depicted "Live at the Bevy CD/DVD set" and you can buy it at their Sheep Shop.

Civility's Requirement: Live and Let Live

In the context of politics, civility cannot thrive unless all sides believe that a fundamental task of government is to establish and protect the ways that people who disagree, who perhaps even hate one another's ideas, can disagree/hate peacefully, each being left alone to live according to their own mores on their own property.

Today, I predict we will witness an impressive amount of uncivil behavior.

Rationality: Willingness to Observe and Not Being An Arrogant Fool

Rationality depends on 2 things:

  1. Being willing to look a phonemena and make observations about fact.
  2. Accepting/learning that it is possible to look at coincident facts in some phenomenon and come to the wrong conclusion about causality at work in that phenomenon.

If either of these 2 aspects are absent you can still make assertions but you may not say that the assertions are rational.

Rationality is thus at odds with hubris, which assumes your own infallibility.

It is also at odds with faith.

An application of rationality to an assertion which begins as faith can be regarded as rational but can no longer be regarded as faith, which eschews the need for evidence. The more one rejects the need for evidence, the more one's faith is said to be strong.

No Mere Cog

Many people hold in esteem the concept of believing in something "greater than the self"... or being a part of something "greater than the self". It's not something they question a lot... just sort of sounds right.

What if the challenge of being a human being is not to find something "greater than the self" but rather to realize that you are a self that is worthy to stand apart on his or her own merits. Yes, you take part in things, but the things are not who you are.

To desire to be part of something "greater than yourself" strikes me as similar to the desire to be a cog in a machine.

I don't know anyone who aspires to be merely a cog. I know unique and beautiful human beings all trying their best to find new ways to be more fully themselves.