Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Right Question

Most days my assumption is, we are not even asking the right questions. So, one reasonably wonders, what is the right question? The right question is WTF? On what do I base that seemingly cavalier assertion? I'm so glad you asked (click): Historical Population

Is it any wonder that I claim Climate Change isn't at the bottom of the Modern Ills Pyramid. Oh sure, it is hugely important and anything we can do to blunt its effects is likely worth doing. That said, we are still whistling-past-the-graveyard unless we also confront the facts about over population. The same is true for many of our other problems. They all trace back to this basic fact; too many humans are vying for the same finite resources of this planet.

Concurrent with that sad fact, is the little situation we have with many our fellow humans failing to move forward out of their bronze age belief systems to face the reality of the twenty first century. I know, that sounded rather harsh. But keep in mind, if the predictions of our best minds are even close to accurate, the near future will be way harsher. So, by all means, (my beloved believers) keep the endearing traditions that warm the heart and bind people to their ancestors but, for the love of Cthulu, lose the other, less helpful, baggage. 

It is clear to any reasonable human willing to absorb the facts that we can not persist in procreating like the earth had infinite space and resources. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Can you help poor Polly?

Somewhere out there is a third year poli-sci major looking over the current political/societal landscape and despairing. She feels her name is not really important but let’s call her Polly. Anyway, Polly is considering whether to drop out and go to work as a costumed cartoon character for Disney World, or worse yet, staying in school but switching her major to MBA. Lord knows I don’t need to tell you, dear reader, these are two of the last things the world needs more of at this dark moment.

Polly’s hopes for the future are hanging by a mere thread. Her one simple wish is a gazillion shares on this meme. More than anything, Polly hopes the name Humpty-Trumpty catches on. The prospect of millions of people around the world thinking of America’s forty fifth president as Humpty-Trumpy is like a beacon of hope to Polly and so many others like her. Can we really afford to extinguish the one bright shining thought to which they so desperately cling?

If you would like to support this effort, please share this post. If you won’t do it for poor Polly, do it for the “Polly” in your life.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Maybe we could learn something, ay?

I am sure all these points are contributing factors. However, I would argue, the most important prerequisite for this outcome was the fact that Canadians have a societal-level sense of unity. That is, they recognize the value of their fellow citizens. They realize that by sticking together and ensuring that others do not fall through the cracks, there will be enough for everyone and everyone will do better.

For fifty points, this is in sharp contrast to what country? Here are some hints. 

In this other, once great, country, they have devolved into a self possessed culture where each one feels entitled to grab the most for themselves. They tend to justify this behavior with an outdated, prejudicial, and mean-spirited idea that those who have nothing find themselves in that condition because they are lazy and worth nothing.

In such a society it becomes easy to imagine that millionaires and billionaires achieve that status because they must be way more valuable than other people. Many of the citizens in this society find difficult to believe those wealthy people are merely the ones who thrive in a game primed for greed, narcissism, and money hoarding. In this society, sharing and cooperation for the common good is for chumps. Instead, one is drawn to emulate the behaviors of the greedy. In this way, the me-me-me carousel keeps spinning.

For another fifty points, who can predict the logical outcome of this game? Here are some hints.

 The masses will continue trying to become more like their heroes, the millionaires and billionaires. It will not occur to them that they are late to the party and their chances of reaching their dreams are infinitesimal. And it most certainly will not occur to them that, were they to reach their dreams- they wouldn’t like who they’d become. Meanwhile, each one will be looking at her fellow citizens, who is also scraping up the crumbs left by those who own everything, and thinking, “that guy is the apocryphal frog-in-the-pot”. Such disdain will make each feel briefly superior, but in truth, they are all standing in water that gets warmer by the minute as more wealth is distributed upward.

So, here is one way of seeing the problem, these people are lost because they started out by surrendering the simultaneous pursuit of happiness and well-being for themselves and their fellow citizens. This fact is well understood by those who own and/or control almost everything (the ownership class). It is then a trivial matter to let just enough crumbs fall from their table to keep the illusion of sharing and cooperation alive. Meanwhile the owners consolidated their hold on the dissemination of information (media) to ensure they controlled, to a large degree, the messaging. In short, they made sure they are the people who tell the masses that the system is working for them. And how do these opinion makers ensure most will never question the message? One might imagine they would use sex to sell the message. In fact, they use fear and anger.   

In the end, the masses appear oblivious to the fact that the system they are using to achieve wealth (and become more like their idols) tends to funnel most of the money to the already wealthy. Even if it slowly begins to dawn on them that their dreams were an illusion, how will they get off the treadmill to nowhere? In the framework of the game, anyone who steps off the treadmill is a loser.

One way to look at the conundrum.

Capitalism is arguably the greatest wealth creating system ever devised.
Capitalism set in a system where it is worshipped rather than being employed as a useful and thoughtfully regulated tool leads to this bleak place.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

News, terror, and amusement parks

What do amusement parks and news outlets have in common? They are both purveyors of fear. And what is the difference between them? The amusement park looks you dead in the eye and says, “Get on the rollercoaster. You are going to pay us to frighten you and you are going to love it!” I respect that. Sure, it is rapacious and unapologetic capitalism but, the terms are clear and overt. I am not so certain I could say the same about many of our news outlets.

Like many Americans, I recently watched the drama caused by the so-called Austin bomber. I was saddened by the casualties but having lived through the era of the “uni-bomber”, I was relieved that the whole episode was mercifully brief. Kudos to the brave and dedicated law enforcement officers on this front. However, what struck me was how quickly our attention turned to what we now consider to be the most important question. Were these bombings an act of terrorism? Was the perpetrator a terrorist? When the perpetrator was discovered to be a caucasian and an American, our mutual abhorrence with regard to his actions quickly faded. In its place, we found a way to be divided. Lines were drawn based on who was willing to call him a terrorist and who was not? Our news outlets told us we were at war with each other over a labeling issue. It wasn't even a hard sell. We were primed.

Did you ever stop to wonder why there are national discussions on who should be labeled a terrorist? We ask ourselves if we are labeling too many foreigners as terrorists and not enough homegrown Americans. What about the color divide, we collectively muse? Sure, there are lots of brown terrorists (most of us are pretty quick to agree on this) but are caucasian terrorists being undercounted? If it were not so deadly serious, it would be laughable.

Meanwhile, how many are questioning the gruel we are offered? Why are we now more obsessed with tactics (terrorism) than criminal acts (murder and destruction)? If we have a national consciousness, any thoughtful discussions in that realm are now surrendered to fearful fretting, anger, and thoughts of vengeance.

If you suspect the coverage of “terrorists” and “terrorism” is somehow not in line with day-to-day reality, you are not alone. We are all victims of terrorism now. But, perhaps, not by the agents we imagine. The simple fact is, terrorism specifically and fear-mongering generally are big business with many purveyors. A number of our news outlets would certainly qualify. However, like any multi-level marketing scam, there are many other sellers in the chain as well. And who is buying? We are.

A worthwhile link on the topic by actual experts:

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Our Democratic Republic under attack

As the legal noose tightens around the president and his cohorts, it seems like a good moment to remember some recent history.

Our precious democracy was (and by all accounts, continues to be) attacked by hostile powers. Especially of concern, is our voting system (one of the foundations of free and fair elections in a democratic republic). At least one of the hostile powers was an external agent called Russia. The other hostile power was the Republican Party. Through a well-thought-out and concerted effort to inhibit voting by persons they believed to be opposed to their agenda, Republicans became an internal threat to our democracy.

One needs only to observe the public reports of their behavior before, during, and after the recent elections. Under the guise of protecting us from voter fraud (supposedly undocumented alien residents purposely voting illegally by their milliions) Republicans brazenly attempted (and arguably succeeded) to tilt the elections in their favor. They used gerrymandering and every form of voter suppression they could bring to bear. The only reasonable inference one could draw is, these people were convinced they could not win on their ideas and were willing to employ any tactic ( no matter how unfair, unconstitutional, or mean-spirited) to insure their victory. The fact that they were funded by hugely wealthy autocrats also contributed to the travesty.

Were that not a sufficiently horrifying set of circumstances, these hostile powers (both internal and external) appear to be shameless and persistent in their Machiavellian efforts to undo centuries of effort to create a more perfect union.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Cowardly bombers, brave Americans, and a shady President

Washington Post Link here

For those of us too young to remember the era of the so-called “una bomber”, these heinous crimes can be difficult to solve. Let us all hope our law enforcement agencies (including the FBI) will soon bring these tragic crimes to a halt.

It might also be a good time to note, while we can always find a bad apple or two in any barrel, for the most part the folks who do the work of finding these criminals are brave, dedicated, patriotic Americans. They regularly risk their lives to save ours. They continue to do this important work night or day rain or shine and despite the recent overt, despicable, and unsubstantiated slurs leveled at these fine people.

Keep in mind, the person largely responsible for slandering these honorable people is currently under investigation by the people he rails against. The fact that he is being investigated has nothing to do with who is a Republican or Democrat (vicious assertions by Fox News talking heads notwithstanding). One might rightly wonder why I can say this so confidently. Which brings us from the headlines to our bride civics lesson. The President is under investigation because evidence has led investigators to his doorstep and that of his close personal allies/friends. Just so we are all perfectly clear on this point, Special Counsel Mueller does not single-handedly decide the veracity of the evidence. He, like any other prosecutor, must present evidence to a judge and/or a grand jury in a court of law. This is one of the ways in which our legal system helps to sort out personal attacks from valid evidence to be applied in a lawful prosecution. So, naturally it follows, when one casually smears the Special Counsel or his team, one also smears the judge and jury with that same brush.