Monday, April 6, 2015

Drunk History and Economics - Sodom and Gomorrah vs Indiana

Yesterday I'm over at Medium reading this article... ‘They Want To Kick You Out And Make You Leave Your Home State. That’s Not Right.’  While I'm reading it I'm seeing these beautiful parallels (and perpendiculars?) between Indiana and Sodom and Gomorrah (SG).  But it's been a really long time since I've read the Bible story about SG.  Being inspired by the article to clear out the dross... I head on over to and read it again... Genesis 18.

I get the distinct feeling that I've never truly read the story of SG.  As I've mentioned elsewhere... I grew up reading the Bible... a lot.  But now that I think about it... I'm pretty sure that my family might have skipped over Genesis 18 and 19 more than a few times.  Not to say that we finished Genesis 17 and then mysteriously started up with Genesis 20.  We didn't read the Bible in order.  We would start off with a prayer and let God mysteriously determine what chapters we read.  And for some reason... God steered us away from Genesis 18 and 19.  Now I know why!

The story of SG is all kinds of fucked up.  And as I appreciated just how fucked up it is... I came to the conclusion that I'd really love it if the story was told on Drunk History.  Have you seen Drunk History before?  It's a show on Comedy Central that combines entertainment and education.  I'm a huge fan of combining entertainment and education.  Education should be fun!  Learning should be entertaining!  

Drunk History was originally a "Funny or Die web series created by Derek Waters and Jeremy Konner in 2007".

Here's the first volume...

As you can see... the narrator tells some historical story while drunk.  And then more or less famous people act the story out according to how the drunk person is telling it.  How accurate can the story really be when the person telling it is drunk?  Is that even a good question?  Maybe.  Are we giving more weight to the entertainment or to the education?

In any case I decided that it would be all types of awesome if there was a drunk history episode based on the story of SG.  Except, I'm also pretty sure that if I sent the request to Comedy Central... that they would mysteriously skip over it.  This realization totes bummed me out.  Like, I was moping around for minutes and minutes.

Today I had an epiphany.  I don't need Comedy Central or... Michael Cera!  Hmmm... I'm reconsidering that last part.

What I'm trying to say is that I can totally get drunk and tell the story about SG!  Will it be as good as Comedy Central could do it?  Uh, maybe not.  But with my version I'll also throw in economics... and some parallels/perpendiculars with Indiana.

The hardest part will be the getting drunk part.  I really don't drink these days.  Back in my infantry days I was a super drinker.  Now, not so much.  And the supply of alcohol reflects this.  There's a tall nearly full bottle of martini and a medium quarter-full bottle of cinnamon whisky.  That's it.  I'm already on my second glass of martini mixed with Trader Joes sparkling berry drink.  I'm pretty sure that I'm buzzing.

The story of SG starts off with Abraham having a conversation with the Lord.  The Lord tells Abraham that his wife Sarah is going to have a baby.  Sarah laughs when she overhears this because both she and Abraham are super old.  And the Lord's like, "hey, I can make it happen... and it's going to be the start of a very great nation.  And it's going to behoove you to impress upon your people to worship me".

To emphasize the last part the Lord bring up SG.  What's going on in SG?  Well... they certainly don't worship the Lord.  They pretty much just have a lot of gay sex all the time.  And it's because of this sinning, that the Lord plans to destroy SG.  This is what he tells Abraham.  Again, to impress on Abraham the value of ensuring that his nation doesn't follow the path of sin.

Oh yeah, I forgot about the two or three angels that were guests of Abraham and disguised as men.  When the Lord told Abraham that SG's days were numbered... the angels started walking to SG.

What happens next is priceless.  It's all kinds of beautiful.  Abraham asks the Lord... "are you going to throw the baby out with the bath water?"  LOL.  Why is this so funny?  Because it's a pretty reasonable question.  It's such a reasonable question that it's funny.  But it's also an extremely economical question.

Abraham:  Let's say that there 50 righteous people in SG... would you spare it?  Because that would be pretty unjust to severely punish the innocent and guilty alike.
Lord: Sure, that's pretty reasonable.  If there are 50 righteous people in SG then I'll totally spare it.
Abraham:  Well... I'm nothing but lowly dust and ashes but... what if there are only 45 righteous people?
Lord: Ok, I won't destroy it if I find 45.
Abraham:  What if there are 40?
Lord: Ok, I'll spare SG.
Abraham:  Now, please don't get angry with me... but what if you only find 30 righteous people?
Lord:  If there are 30 righteous people in SG...then I'll still spare it.
Abraham:  What if there are only 20?
Lord:  You have a deal
Abraham:  Please don't get angry with me because this is the last time that I'll bring this up... but... what if there are only 10 righteous people?
Lord:  I'll spare SG for the sake of 10 righteous people.

What in the world was that?  It's pretty epic.  Does it sound familiar?  Kinda reminds me of what they say about our justice system... it is better for 10 guilty people to go free then it is to wrongly convict one innocent person.

We see this distinct back and forth on the value of not throwing the baby out with the bath water.  If throwing the bath water out means that we also throw out the baby... then perhaps it's better not to throw the bath water out.

x = the baby
y = throwing the bath water out

Value(x) > Value(y)

I'm on my third drink now.  It's mostly martini.

The next part of the story is Genesis chapter 19.

It starts off with the angels arriving at SG.  Some guy named Lot just happens to be hanging out at the city gate.  And he's like, "Hey guys, gotta warn you that this place is pretty iffy.  You shouldn't tarry here long."  For some reason the angels want to hang out in the street at night but Lot manages to convince them to spend the night at his place.

That evening a crowd of gays gathers outside of Lot's house.  The gays range from old to young.  Evidently they heard that there was some new meat in town and they are looking to have some fun.  So they tell Lot to send the strangers out so that they can "know" them.  And that's "know" in the biblical sense.  As in to have sex with.

Lot replies that they shouldn't be so wicked.  But he doesn't stop there.  And what follows is supremely fucked up... but maybe not so much?

What Lot does is he offers the horny crowd his two virgin daughters.  He's like, "I have two virgin daughters... do what you want with them but leave my guests alone".  How messed up is that?  It's pretty messed up... but... there's probably a good reason that they are virgins.  As in, they live in a city full of gays.  And it's for this reason that the crowd has absolutely no interest in Lot's offer.  They're like "no deal!"  So maybe it's not so messed up that Lot is willing to sacrifice his daughters to protect the strangers?  It sure seems messed up though.

The crowd of gays gets pissed that Lot isn't giving them what they want... and they are pretty darn close to breaking down his door.  At that point the angels step in and unleash some heavenly can of whup ass.  They strike the crowd with blindness.  This ways the gays can't find the door to Lot's house.

The angels then tell Lot to gather up his family and get the heck out of dodge because they had been tasked by the Lord to destroy it.  Lot goes to find his son in laws.  Son in laws?  What?  Uh... yeah.  It shouldn't be a surprise that they show absolutely no interest in leaving.  Nope.

So it's pretty much just Lot, his wife and their two daughters.  How many is that?  Less than 10.

When they manage to make their way outside the city... Lot's like, "wherever shall I go, whatever shall I do?"  Not quite.  Lot does say that if he flees to the mountain that he's probably not going to survive.  So Lot asks if he could flee to some tiny city named Zoar.  And the angels are like, "ok, cool, you go there and we won't destroy that city... but whatever you do... when you're fleeing... don't look back!"

I don't know if they actually added emphasis... they probably didn't because Lot's wife looks back and she gets turned into salt.

Hmmm... why did Lot's wife look back?  Was it morbid curiosity or something sentimental?  My vote is for something sentimental.  She was missing something about her sinful hometown... and she paid the price.

For whatever reason, Lot didn't feel safe in Zoar.  Maybe it was because the people of Zoar would wonder whether he was responsible for the destruction of SG?  Perhaps?  In any case he takes his two daughters and goes to live in a cave.  And then?  The daughters confer with each other, "well... our bloodline is going to die unless we do something about it...".  Dot dot dot.  So the older daughter gets Lot drunk and has sex with him.  And then the next night the younger daughter does the same thing.  Their plan proves successful and they both get pregnant.  What about Lot though?  Ignorance is bliss?  Or, "haha... you pranked me!  good one!"  ???

In any case, the logistics and demographics of SG are... curious.  Right?  I want to know what percentage of SG were women.  And straight.

What role did you want Michael Cera to play?  All of them?  That's just greedy.

So I'm sure that at this point you're dying to know where the parallels and perpendiculars are to ‘They Want To Kick You Out And Make You Leave Your Home State. That’s Not Right.’

LOL.  Well... to begin with there's the title.  Right?  I don't get the impression that Lot and his family truly wanted to leave SG.  Or maybe they did?  They just needed a nudge from Cass and Sunstein?  heh.  I bet those two guys go around gently nudging everybody.  Like, every time you're somewhere with other people... and you get nudged... and you're not sure who nudged you... then you can bet your bottom that it was Cass and Sunstein.  Nudgers!!!  How dare they gently push us in the right direction!  Who do they think they are?!  Angels!????

I just got my fourth drink.  Finished the bottle of martini and the bottle of blueberry sparkling juice.

The broad parallel is that in SG the straights were in the minority while in Indiana the gays are in the minority.  I guess?  We guess?

What else?  Foot voting!
Like these people should all just move to the Bay Area! Like the Bay Area is just bustling with affordable housing for people from Indiana! It’s such a cop-out. Justice matters everywhere, you can’t just say ‘get out of there.’ - Joel Street
Bay Area vs a cave?  LOL.  Bay area vs having sex with your parents in a cave?  In which direction do you think Cass and Sunstein would nudge Joel Street?

Here's Bret Wilson, another gay, also on the topic of foot voting...
But when the law got passed, I’m like what am I doing here? I was really active in phone-banking around gay marriage, but do I have another campaign in me? Indiana is wishy-washy. Why am I here when I could be in an accepting state? That was the biggest struggle: do I stay or do I go now? But then I think: that’s what they want to happen — they want to kick you out and make you leave your home state. That’s not right. I should feel safe in my own state.
You should feel safe in your own state?  Why?  Cuzz you were born there?  Do you think this logic would have appeased the angry mob of gays trying to break down Lot's door?

Back to Joel Street...
But the calls to boycott the whole state — it seems like a blunt instrument. It damages Indiana companies that were actually doing their best on LGBT rights. It reinforces all sorts of feelings of self hate that a closeted kid in Indiana would have anyways.
Blunt instrument is right!  The Lord destroying an entire city is the epitome of a blunt instrument.  Blunt instruments throw the baby out with the bath water.

Back to Bret Wilson...
I’ve never personally been turned away from a business for any reason. Still, I don’t want my tax dollars to go to something like this: I’m paying them for them to decide whether they’re going to let people discriminate against me. 
Dear Bret Wilson, I really don't want your tax dollars to go to something like this either.  So please pray tell why you don't like tax choice on facebook!  Tax choice really isn't a blunt instrument... it's a precise instrument.

The Lord?  It didn't seem like his angels really performed a very thorough survey.  Like, if you're going to decide whether or not you destroy an entire city... then perhaps it's a good idea to err on the side of more, rather than less, due diligence.  Maybe it happened behind the scenes?   Perhaps?  Who knows.  It's certainly not included in the story.  And the fact that it wasn't included is worrisome.

How much progress have we made since SG?  Lauren Smiley wants us to know that three gays from Indiana aren't too happy with how things stand in Indiana.  Well shit.  Smiley and her three gay friends really clarified things for us.  Smiley engaged in far fancier due diligence than we suspect that the Lord's angels engaged in.  Or not.

With all due respect to Smiley and the Lord's angels... how about we give taxpayers the opportunity to speak for themselves?  For some reason I'm more inclined to give ALL their spending decisions more weight than I am willing to give a couple personal stories.  Perhaps it's because I'm under the impression that actions speak louder than words?  Or maybe it's just because I'm drunk?  Or maybe it's because, according to Google, the population of Indiana in 2014 was 6.597 million people?

Oh, man, I really want to round up to 7 million.  Because, when you're drunk, you really want easier numbers.

7 million people.  And Smiley's like... here's what 3 of them have to say!  Well shit... there you go.  Not really though.  Markets work because we can all speak for ourselves.  And if you don't like what somebody says with their money... then.... you're free to speak differently for yourself.

We really should get into the whole issue of respect vs agree.  I was raised by Christians.  To be more specific.... I was raised by 7th day Adventists.  Yes, Luke Wilson invented cornflakes.  Just to put my bias on the table.  Luke Wilson is cereal.  Then again, so is my fabulous friend who is going to open up his new plant shop in Silverlake CA.

I might disagree with what them Indiana Christians have to say with their taxes... the point is though... who truly knows what millions of them will actually say when given the opportunity to put their money where their mouths are?  The angels don't know.  Smiley doesn't know.  You don't know... but wouldn't you like to know?  Wouldn't the Clash like to know?  Whatever Christians truthfully communicate with their money when given the opportunity... I'll most definitely respect their perspectives enough to give them the freedom to accurately communicate their preferences.


It's the next day and I'm no longer drunk.  Last night I finished my fourth drink and went to the grocery store with my gf.  She drove of course.  Grocery shopping isn't so bad when you're drunk.  I asked her if she knew the story of SG and she replied, "the guy loses his power when he gets his hair cut."  heh.  Shopping, cooking and eating a steak pretty much derailed my story.

Reading over this draft though... I'm pretty impressed that I managed to hit most of the main points.  Did being drunk hurt or help?  If it helped then I hope it didn't help too much because I'd prefer not to have an excuse to destroy my liver!

Even though I hit most of the points that I wanted to... there are definitely some points that could use a lot more development.  Like the Clash... I wonder how many people are going to catch the reference to the relevant song?  Here it is... Should I Stay Or Should I Go and some of the lyrics...
Should I stay or should I go now? (Yo! ¿Me frío o lo soplo?)
Should I stay or should I go now? (Yo! ¿Me frío o lo soplo?)
If I go there will be trouble (Si me voy, va a haber peligro)
And if I stay it will be double (Si me quedo, es doble)
So you gotta let me know (Pero que tienes que decir)
Should I cool it or should I blow? (¿Me frío o lo soplo?)
Should I stay or should I go now? (¿Me frío o lo soplo?)
If I go there will be trouble (Si me voy, va a haber peligro)
And if I stay there will be double (Si me quedo, es doble)
So you gotta let me know (Pero que tienes que decir)
Should I stay or should I go  
If we could choose where our taxes go... then we'd be able to more accurately communicate our preferences.  This information would help people decide whether it's more valuable to stay or go.

It's been who knows how many thousands of years since SG... and the value of accurately discerning the preferences of the masses is still not appreciated.  We do have ballot voting but it's all type of ignorant to believe that surveys come close to accurately reflecting demand.  Demand isn't shouting for something... it's when people put their own money where their mouths are.

With tax choice... we'd know the demand for anti-gay laws not just in Indiana... but in every city, state and country.  This information would help people make informed decisions.  It would help them better answer important questions.  Should they foot vote?  If so, then where should they foot vote for?

Joel Street argued that justice matters everywhere... but tyranny of the minority seems a lot less just than tyranny of the majority.  It doesn't seem very just for Street to impose his morality on a state full of Christians just like it wouldn't have been very just if Lot had somehow imposed his morality on a city full of not-Christians.

Clarifying demand is pulling our heads from the sand and confronting the truth of people's preferences.  With demand clarity we'll quickly and clearly see significant geographical disparities in prosperity.  There's going to be a strong positive correlation between prosperity and diversity.  This definitive proof will help people really understand that progress truly does depend on difference.  The regions that have more diversity will do a lot better than regions that have less diversity.  As a result, the regions with more diversity will grow and the regions with less diversity will shrink.

If prosperity is truly correlated with justice/diversity... then there shouldn't be any need to force it on people.  All we need to do is let the evidence speak for itself.  It stands to reason that people are going to want to foot vote for the areas that have better options.  And the areas with better options are going to be the areas with the most diversity.

Basically, if somebody 1. believes that diversity has to be imposed or 2. supports our current system of government then they don't truly understand the value of diversity.

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