Blog: Relations between public and private power

Relations between public and private power
Relations between public and private power
Date: 2019-Jun-02 22:27:13 EST

Been recently thinking about the different emphasis different political philosophies put on public versus private power - I eventually came around to be concerned about both, and to see both as potentially decent tools to check the other. I think good societies keep an eye on challenges coming from both camps. A good example is when a company - typical holder of the most potent private power - has control over a public forum of some kind, and decides on acceptable expressions of views there. I am not a fan of anything but the most minimal rules for any broad forum (Twitter, Youtube, so on), even when there's substantial other public goods to chase with these efforts. And so I would be happy to see government attempt to ban such private censorship, or at least see if the lines culd be drawn. But likewise, even though I believe the state is generally more accountable to the public interest than corporations, the public interest is sometimes fragmented, with voting being just one measure of it. Efforts to clamp down on dissent, whether supported through elected representatives or not, are often circumvented through privately written tools, and this too is to be lauded. I don't feel this is a conflict so much as a productive tension - there are some cases where we must put all our trust in one entity (or class of entities), but such tensions are generally healthier long-term than a single guardian of society's interests. In this, the entities ideally become resigned enough to potentially dominate the common cases without being able to provide a complete lock on a topic - in frustrating the purists society wins.

This weekend I finally, having found the missing set of screws and other components a few weeks ago, put together my keyboard stand. Feeling very good about it - it's now actually convenient to play keyboard (don't need to pull it from leaning against a wall to weighing down on my lap - the thing is ridiculously heavy). Been working mostly on the Spinach Rag, but also a few other songs. It's a joy to play so conveniently. And this in turn has me thinking back on being a memoriser rather than a sheet-music reader. Most other people in the orchestra used sheet music to play, to the level where they had a tough time playing without it, while for me reading music was a burden and while I could usually manage to read along as I played, I got little from it. I think I've been leaning towards the understanding that most people actually rely much more strongly on memorisation than they think, so the difference probably is actually is that I'm a little more honest plus I'm just missing a capability. My reasoning is that if most musicians were as sheet-music centric as they think, they wouldn't need to practice specific songs, just reading music itself plus musical proficiency - the need to practice specific songs tells me that they internalise the music as I do, just maybe not as strongly.

In April there was a Quillette post on divorce that I was vaguely aware of - while at present I financially support Quillette at some low level, it's mostly that I want them to exist to counterbalance the wrong kind of liberals - I'm frequently frustrated with them too. Some of the chatter in their community runs much more conservative than they do, and some of their articles are more for that part of the community - I got the impression from some of this, before reading the article, that this was one of those weirdly-far-right articles rather than their standard faire, thinking this was people railing against divorce in general rather than the much more narrow point that lying in the courts to get divorce on suitable terms is a terrible thing. I was thinking of railing harder against this article (I'm contrarian there too), but was relieved to see the narrow point is solid. Still, I started to gather my thoughts on divorce (as my parents divorced near the end of my undergrad in a far less civil way than would have been ideal, most of the blame for that presumably sitting on my father's head, although we're again on speaking terms years later), bringing in some context from my life (to be clear, I have never been married). I don't think divorce per se is a bad thing, and I don't want people to be reluctant to do it if they think it's probably the right thing to do. I believe it should be doable by either party, and I don't think having kids actually makes it worse compared to the alternative - a nonfunctional marriage is in my view a worse environment in which to raise kids than a divorce-properly-done. One fairly healthy model I'd have would be that there's something that starts to feel missing in the marriage, both sides talk about it, they try to fix it, but after a month or more, one side becomes convinced that the marriage cannot be repaired and decides it should end. After more conversing, it's clear to both sides that things are busted, even if one side would like to keep trying. And so they file for divorce and start the messy business of disentangling their life. If they have kids, then provided it's practical (nobody's heading off to another country), they don't disentangle entirely, but enough to back down to civility that might rebuild into a strange kind of friendship or sibling-like tie sufficient for them to remain good parents. That's the ideal. It's not what happened with my family, but had it played out that way I would have been largely emotionally unaffected by the divorce and would see it as not that differently desirable an outcome than had things remained solid all the way through. Why little different? Part of it is that I don't see marriage as being about trying fairly hard to make a shared life, rather than a promise to make it work or pretend it's working regardless of facts. And I think the consequences of pretending it's working (or trying to force it) as usually worse than ending it. I don't disgregard the possibility of rough spots in a relationship and the value of trying to work through them, but I trust people will use their judgement on their specifics, and even if they sometimes give up too early, they might likewise stay too long in something that can't work (or even can't work for the now - occasionally people remarry people they divorced, later in life after having figured some things out). Returning briefly to Quillette, there are a few things in their portrayal of divorce that I see as wrong and unhealthy - one example being "Lies are at the messy heart of divorce" - this may be true for a certain set of circumstances around divorce, but they're not a necessary trait (hoping I'm not misunderstanding the context).

Finally feeling mostly recovered from last weekend's trip. Still pretty sunburned.