Category Archives: whatever

whatever doesn’t fit anywhere else

since when

Do the citizens of the United States have any say in their own government? The standard answer is that they do not, and this is backed by statistics, and voter preferences, and yards of congressional records. How do we know this?

Do the people in the US support Medicare for All? We know that Congress will not, at the moment, pass any bill of this sort. But, “The vast majority of Americans, 70 percent, now support Medicare-for-all, otherwise known as single-payer health care, according to a new Reuters survey. That includes 85 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans. Only 20 percent of Americans say they outright oppose the idea.”

Do the people in the US support free college tuition? “This might be an idea whose time has come: Nearly two-thirds of Americans are in favor of free college for everyone, and about three-quarters think at least some people should be eligible for free college, a new survey shows.” This means state colleges, not private ones, though it would affect private institutions by the character of grants the government would be giving students.

But any of you who have been following the debates in the public sphere will know that both Medicare for All and free State College Tuition are characterized as proposals by the “far left.” What does that mean? First it means that the people who are so characterizing these ideas are so far out of touch, being on the fringes of our society, as to mischaracterize the center of public opinion as far left.

One more thing, part of the public conversation is the Green New Deal. Do people support it? “The survey conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication found that 92 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans back the Green New Deal plan.” First recognize that the GND is a bill without teeth, that is it only provides context, not juridical action. Its temper is more of a statement of intentions.

But the GND is characterized as “far left” just because its proponents in Congress are Democrats. Since Mitch McConnell has taken leadership of the Senate, not one bit of legislation has come to a vote on climate change. But he is readying a vote on the Green New Deal because he thinks any Democrat who votes for it will “self immolate.”

He may be right, in that the right-wingtip press will try to immolate those democrats. But, as a citizen, if you have only been listening to Pat Robertson, Fox News, Breitbart News Network, or Daily Stormer, you don’t have the full story. You have the corporate story, that is Capitalism out of control, not the the voice of the citizens.

Need I mention how what percentage of the population believes cannabis should be fully legal, happily under a regulatory regime like alcohol or tobacco. “About six-in-ten Americans (62%) say the use of marijuana should be legalized, reflecting a steady increase over the past decade, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. The share of U.S. adults who support marijuana legalization is little changed from about a year ago – when 61% favored it – but it is double what it was in 2000 (31%).”

So, it looks like Democrats, and Independents, have the voice of the public, the voice of ordinary citizens, while the Republicans have lost that in favor of the corporations that are trying to protect their interests: insurance companies; big pharma (Medicare for All and MJ legalization); colleges that rely on overinflated tuition costs; oil and gas corporations, etc.

And we suspect these groups because of the multi-millions of dollars pouring into election coffers by these groups, by the persistence of lobbyists in the halls of Congress, and the persistent rhetoric of the right-wing news outlets. But the data is in. Those who oppose the moves outlined above are just out of touch with normal US citizens. They are not representing their constituencies. Their interests oppose ours.

Here are a few funny tricks used by politicians who oppose these measures to garner votes. First, these are unimportant issues. What’s important is making abortion illegal, continuing our moral dumfounding about the use of drugs, mistaking what we believe or don’t believe as the measure of patriotism, race baiting, shouting against “socialism,” “the left,” “gun-control advocates,” etc.

The shouts against socialism are cooked up with a background of fear of communism, and the bad reputations of countries that have tried to convert their countries into communist ones, and have fallen to the ordinary corruption of overweening bureaucracies. These arguments have nothing to do with distinguishing the useful distinctions between business that is better taken care of by government (social security, medicare, medicaid, tax collection, prisons) and those better taken care of by private interests like manufacturing, and energy efficiency.

But those shouting against socialism blind themselves to the government subsidies (social support of private industry) used for fledgling industries like alternative energy (that is now mostly self sufficient, given market forces), and the egregious misuse of public funds for older industries that should be taking care of themselves like banking, auto manufacture, and farming. We still support them to prevent the loss of jobs, corporate collapse, etc., but the most strident rebukes of the new “socialists” come in full light of social support for unpopular programs like unnecessary wars and conflicts, a president out of control who cooks up an emergency to spend money that could go for people who are really in need in this country. So the president and his republican allies are calling for 5-8 billion for construction of an unnecessary and already passé technology to block our southern border, while not one additional red cent has gone to fight the opioid problem which is killing tens of thousands each year.

The Republicans who are shouting “FAR LEFT! FAR LEFT!” are really shouting at the center of our population. But the voters who are putting them in office are being distracted with pseudo-moralizing crap about abortion, law and order, gun freedom, a weirdly unreal and truncated version of the Constitution, and patriotism, none of which signifies the real problems US citizens face.

it’s been ages

Today I am thinking it is time to write. It’s been a while since I did, almost 3 years. But, what has happened in those years almost defies imagination, at least my imagination was too impoverished to imagine a porn star president, a republican party that has gone overboard to expose their racism, vicious capitalism, favoring the rich to the disadvantage of the poor, cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, trying to privatize what could only be fairly adjudicated by the public government sector. Add to that the fairly clear racism of the criminal in the Whitehouse which many of his cronies in the private sector refuse to admit, even trying to shame those who are affected by it, blaming the victims. The implicit violence of the rhetoric surrounding this president’s language is a deep shame to most citizens in the United States. Add to that the benign response of most of the Republicans in Congress as well as outright defense of policies that are both inhumane and a shock to the moral compass that should drive leadership, and I am just about speechless.

Finally the dehumanization of our fellow citizens becomes clear. First, education has been under attack by the mostly republican administrations in the nation and states of the past 30 years. This doesn’t mean that educators are blameless, but that they have often been the recipients of decisions that they cannot control, decisions made by those who have no investment in education or science, and make educators out to be the enemy of the people. Second, the disparagement and lies that “capitalists” have used to reduce and eliminate unions, undercutting their bargaining power, and reducing the lives of workers to the status of proletariat, living on wages that ensure their continued dependence on the company and a persistent poverty. Irrespective of the theories that have come to the defense of a person’s right to work without being saddled by union dues, the writing is on the wall. These people defending these theories are giving more wealth and power to the companies against the worker. Third, complaints about how bad medical coverage is provided by insurance companies is coming to a head. These companies support giving multimillions of dollars to executives, while carrying on policies that deny coverage to people who have fairly paid their premiums. The red tape required to administer healthcare is outrageous requiring the employment of a whole industry of people to both understand and distribute services. And those costs and services are still impossible to predict, and the variety of health plans makes insurance payments problematic in the extreme.

Capitalism in its pure form is an unstable social system. In fact, capitalism is not a social system at all. Under the constraints of ethical realism, capitalism would be forced to provide living wages and benefits, close the loopholes that create a dependent and impoverished workforce, and reign in the salaries of executives and management, provide real and substantial healthcare for its workforce that didn’t force individuals to go bankrupt to pay their hospital bills. If it is to operate, it requires an equitable social system, not a government that just gives corporations what they want without constraints. Further, the corporations that are profiting from the broad freedoms afforded within our republic should be becoming responsible for the maintenance of the stability of our society, not the rapacious scalping of its citizens for profit.

The recent cries about socialism really have nothing to do with any useful version of socialism, which also requires an ethical realism to administer. But rather, these are thinly veiled accusations of communism. This is rhetoric without logos, or ethos, rhetoric that expects and preys upon the ignorance of people, not on their best well-governed sensibilities. It uses the sinister pathos of the mob, trading on the worst instincts of a threatened people. It is an attempt to govern by threats of impending doom using fear of the other, and fear of losing. There is little trade with truth, or facts, or indeed with the real world. The free press, supposedly, and in its best lights, is there to guarantee a critical eye is cast over those who claim to govern in our name. But it has now been accused of being the enemy of the people by the very people who are under suspicion. Yes, yes, yes, the press is not blameless, but the people who are swallowing the bad faith arguments about the press being the enemy of the people are buying into the machinery of tyranny under a false notion of freedom.

So, what do we do about all this. I am unsure. I know what I would desire, realism in government and industry, fairness in the distribution of goods and services, and get the dirty money out of government itself.

Predictions? Universal health care in 10 years, maybe.

favorite quotes on facebook

I am disappointed that the only MySpace like thing on Facebook was downsized, that is, “My Favorite Quotes.” It is still there, inside the profile, but not prominent. So I put My favorite Quotes right here.

Season 3, Babylon 5, episode 6, Lanier says: “The darkness carried in the heart cannot be cured by moving the body from one place to another.”

Inscription on a bell at the school Clifford Stoll went to:
All truth is one
In this light here may science and religion endeavor for the steady evolution of mankind
from darkness into light, from narrowness to broadmindedness, from prejudice to tolerance,
It is the voice of life which calls us to come and learn.

I am not proceeding by linear deduction, but rather by concentric circles. Foucault, “Archaeology of Knowledge”

Effective history leaves nothing around the self, deprives the self of the reassuring stability of life and nature, and will not permit itself to be transported by a voiceless obstinacy toward a millennial ending. It will uproot its traditional foundations and relentlessly disrupt its pretended continuity. This is because knowledge is not made for understanding; it is made for cutting. Michel Foucault (AME, p. 380)

When you turn your car on, does it return the favor? Cadillac commercial. I’ve got an S2000, and when I turn it on, it returns the favor.

“The best thing you’ve got going for you is your willingness to humiliate yourself.” Simon to Melvin in “As Good As It Gets”

It’s only in the mysterious equation of love that any logic or reason can be found. John Nash in “A Beautiful Mind” (the movie)

Half of being successful is just showing up.

People cease to be foreigners when we recognize emotional structure in them.

[B]ut most of all the attempt, ever more determined, to fix a price for every offense, and thus to dissociate, up to a certain point, the offender from his offense—these are the traits which characterize with increasing clarity the development of penal law. Whenever a community gains in power and pride, its penal code becomes more lenient, while the moment it is weakened or endangered the harsher methods of the past are revived. (205)” Nietzsche, Geneaolgy of Morals, ch 2 section X. On these grounds America has become increasingly weak over the past 30 years.

“The only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable is each other.” Alien in the movie Contact

I put no stock in religion. By the word religion I’ve seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination be called the will of God. Holiness is in right action and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves. And goodness—what God desires—is here [in your head] and here [in your heart]. By what you decide to do every day, you will be a good man. Or not. –Priest in movie “Kingdom of Heaven” speaking to Balian.

Lee Smolin “We have had enough of the weight of violence, and its justification in terms of any and all systems by which people can be made to believe in their special access to absolute knowledge.”

Without empathy there can be no community.

it’s about human rights! it’s about being a good person!

(I put this on Tumblr.com so I thought I would also put it here)

When we talk about Feminism it is not about domination, sex, or being in charge, it is about creating the situation where the rights of women as stated in the constitution are distributed as they are for men as stated in the constitution.

It’s easy to see why some men get enraged by any talk of feminism. In their minds (mistakenly) they are losing property. Under a feminist rubric, they would no longer get to treat women either as property, or as individuals with rights that are subservient to theirs. They would not be able to think of owning their women any more, or possessing their women, or as having a right to do whatever they want with or to their women. If women are individuals with their own rights, equal under the law then instinctual dominating male behavior would be marked as wrong, their violence as a violation, and their property as stolen, misused, and misappropriated.

When we talk about Gay Rights, it is not about being able to sue employers who don’t hire you, but about not being fired just for being gay. It is about having the same civil rights as those who generally conform to the CIS norm. Gay marriage is not about demeaning hetero marriage, (heretos do enough of that themselves,) but about having the same civil rights as a hetero couple: the right to raise children, visit their families in hospitals, the right to inherit from their spouse without any special codicil to their will, family health care, and dozens of other rights married heterosexual couples enjoy as citizens of this great nation. It is the right not to be imprisoned, harassed, mistreated, or relegated to second-class citizenship just because of the person they love.

For the uninformed among you: genetic and phenotypical evidence is in! Both genetic and formative processes are partially responsible for a person being gay or lesbian. On top of that, training and experience is partially responsible. Is this a fault of people or just a normal variation?

The numbers are in. We have conclusive evidence that gay and lesbian people have been around as long as we have been collecting history. It is a normal variation.

It would be easier to live in a society where all people are respected for being people, not for some secondary trait like maleness or femaleness, gay or straight, tall or short. However we should make a distinction between good and evil, right and wrong, There are good and right ways to treat people, and evil and wrong ways. Start with the universally accepted Golden rule. Treat others as you would be treated and the world will be a better place. Be one of those who adds to the goodness instead of taking it away.

#gay #lesbian #heterosexual #human rights #civil rights #normal #abnormal #gamergate #being polite #golden rule #decency #kindness #feminism

the creative power of words

We have almost but not quite forgotten that words themselves have a creative power reflective of their creator. This is the fascination we have with the best literature, our dearest loved ones, the humor of the incautious or well-crafted turn of phrase, and it is what we depend upon implicitly when we pore over the best books. The intuitive leaps made possible by an intelligence like our own when we encounter another intelligence like or unlike our own that stimulates us to make connections building knowledge in ways we didn’t imagine.…

We attribute happily a spiritual being to language that we can hardly admit as Westerners so enamored with a closed and perfected story; whether it is logic, mathematics, or theology we favor tying all the loose ends and making a consistent dead lump of a thing. We grind the soul of the poet and the artist for their extravagance and treat their work as a receptacle for our dusty commentary when all the while our brains feed on the creative heat we take from their genius. And yet their work is not diminished by our critique nor exhausted by the gift it gives. The unimaginative soul closes the book with never a glance back while the virus implanted by the words courses through the mind bringing it to a fever. Those who have woken to the power of words greedily seek out their effect and find even in the most obscure and disabused notions a very real transformation. The birth of an idea is the making of a universe. Man truly does not live by bread alone.

Language is in this sense a life of its own that partners with its auditors, listening to very sound of the universe as it expands, the keening of the earth as it bears the weight of its inhabitants.

all the reading i want to do

For a number of years, in the rush of the tides of my life, I stumbled across stories I would like to read but couldn’t imagine taking time for them at the moment.

So now I have this collection and in an effort to actually read these pieces, I place them here on my blog, earliest to latest. Unfortunately, some articles have disappeared. Here are the remainders. Some of these I have read in full, but left them because they were so good. I left them so I would read them again. So, for your perusal, my unread articles.

The folly of Scientism

How to fund an American Police State

Computing with Soup

A World Without People

TED Talk: Questions No One Knows the Answer To

Privatizing Marriage is Unjust To Children

Life Without Sex: The Third Phase of the Asexuality Movement

Grantland: Gambling and the Mob in Hot Springs AR

Peter Singer and Tyler Cowe transcript

What’s happened to A New Kind of Science?

Does moral theory create extremism?

The Satan of the Gaps (Pt. 1)

Dusting Off GOD

How Collecting Opium Antiques Turned Me Into an Opium Addict

The most interesting company in tech: Valve

TEN VIRTUES FOR THE MODERN AGE

Does Brain Science Disprove Freedom?

Head Like an Orange

ENCAPSULATED UNIVERSES

Edge and the Art Collector

Jesus healed using cannabis, study shows

Why It’s Good To Be Wrong

An Unwanted Guest

The Snowden files: why the British public should be worried about GCHQ

How traffic actually works

I tooke a bodkine

Embracing the void

What No One Tells You About Losing Lots of Weight (not for the faint of heart)

Famous Resolution Lists: Jonathan Swift, Susan Sontag, Marilyn Monroe, Woody Guthrie

Healthcare.gov and the Gulf Between Planning and Reality

What is reality?

Teleology Rises from the Grave

Life is a Braid in Spacetime

8 pronunciation errors that made the English language what it is today

The Volcano That Rewrote History

OK, that just about sums it up.

Sorry some of the full articles are behind a paywall. At least there’s a sample.

miscellaneous verse

Quietly He speaks – to my heart
In the middle – of the day

—–

And I would kiss my desire goodbye
Only for His love.

—–

There’s a time when God will open your
Heart and give you your desire
He’ll fill your heart
with lasting desire to do His work.

—–

You will be a sweet fragrance of life for the living
Death for the dying
A garden filled with choice aromatic flowers
through the living Christ.

—–

To catch a butterfly
You must be perfectly still
and fragrantly full
Let him alight on your lovely petals and
drink God’s nectar to the full.