Thursday, June 30, 2016

Neither a Borrower nor a Lender Be

"I'm self-funding my own campaign."
— Donald Trump on Monday, February 1st, 2016 in a campaign rally in Iowa

I would promise to strangle the next person who told me Trump is the most trustworthy of candidates because "he financed his own campaign" but really, at my age I lack the stamina.  So many necks (red and otherwise) and so little time.

Besides the shaky argument that he'd be honest by being beholden to no contributor, it's not entirely true since not only does he have donors, but much of that self-funding consists of loans by him to his campaign. Whether or not he intends to use donations to repay himself is unclear either from his record or his promises.   But of course he's hardly refraining from asking for money and apparently in mockery of his accusations of dishonesty against his opponent, he's mocking the law too by soliciting donations from officials of foreign governments on their official e-mail accounts.  Investigation?  Sure maybe 75 years from now when they're done with investigating Clinton for treason while ignoring a Republican Secretary of State for doing the same thing.

Has any candidate done more for ratings than Dishonest Donald? We'll probably hear little about this scandal. (Yeah, yeah, Bloomberg is the Liberal press.) Don't look for even the most "Liberal" of the Liberal press to inconvenience that goose in the laying of it's golden eggs.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Energizing the Base

Makes me feel like I'm in grade school again and it's supposed to. Sitting there, hand in the air knowing the expected answer and hoping to be the first to yell out "GUNS!"

Like so many of these Facebook posts, it's meant for the converted and not to convince anyone outside the tribe. To the convinced, it will slip by the normal reaction of skeptical analysis and will immediately toggle the "boy, those gun nuts are just plain stupid" program. and the "if he argues he must be one of them" subroutine. Guns!  Just guns and only guns! is the Pavlovian response, There's only one cause, only one solution in this simplest of all possible worlds.

People are simple and want only simple answers. That's why we have demagogues. That's why we make conclusions from inconclusive date.  We have about twice the automobile fatality rate of the UK and Australia, can we assume the same causes?  Do we dare to add other countries to the same question or have we Gerrymandered the short list?  Are we selecting the data points to fit on the theoretical curve? Where do we fit on a universal danger list?

To those outside that bubble the first reaction might be "Those countries have a different health care system and they don't dump the mentally ill on the streets."  It might also be true that there are fewer members of a large impoverished, addicted. angry and hopeless class trapped inextricably by circumstances, prejudices and a lack of social services, housing, education, opportunity for improvement, medical care and adequate diet: so much fodder for the many hate merchants we have. And of course no one is defining mental illness here.   Even the less perceptive from outside the circle might suspect the band is playing another false equivalence Foxtrot.

Does restricting the view to massacres only, that tiny proportion of the firearms assault spectrum give a biased view? Is the apparent trend real, is it a short aberration on a line with a different long term trend?   Is it the same kind of sophistry as letting the deeds of one man be the paradigm, the "typical." It comes right out of the manipulator's playbook.

Of course those countries have had massacres. We're just inclined to think they don't because the teacher is always right. The UK has had a great many of them: Bloody shootings in Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin bombings in London. Spain, France and other countries in Europe have had massacres in train stations and public areas for years. Algerians, Basque Separatists,  Baader-Meinhoff in Germany and the Red Brigade of Italy; ISIS, al Qaeda, etc.  Mentally ill pilots crash planes, crazy people use truck bombs and poison gas and set fires,shoot up newspaper offices, theaters, night clubs and hotels. It doesn't register with us as being the same thing even though the innocent victims are the same type and degree of being dead.

Worst ever! worst ever! is what you hear and you're not supposed to factor in the fact that the previous worst ever and comparable school shooting was 90 years ago and the century's experience seems more sporadic and episodic than progressive. Everything is getting worse, say people like Trump and the Tea Party con men  and manipulators of all kinds and the respective bases have never been more energized. No one will bother to notice that murders and armed assaults have steadily declined for decades despite the stated erosion of gun laws.

If it comes from our crowd we don't question, we just glad hand, high five and fist bump just the way the Trump Chumps do every time some silly giggling camp follower excuses his latest gaffe.  After all, part of being a cult is to alienate the outsider and prevent him from being heard. It works.

So what if you have constructive ideas, will it ever be heard through the untruths and distortions; red herrings and outright lies?  Over the grins and back slapping? I think not. Semi-automatic will always mean machine gun and they always spray super high velocity big-bore bullets that actually aren't.  The number of murders will always be off by a factor of two. The decline in the number of guns per household will always be explained as bad or irrelevant and the lack of correlation between regulations and effects will always be shouted down. It's always getting worse, it's a disaster, a trainwreck and only Donald or Bernie or Hillary of Ted can save us. Hey teacher - pick me!

And then there's the unsupported assumption that only guns are suitable in a world where most massacres are done with bombs, from Haymarket Square to the Anarchist bombs of the early 20th, to Oklahoma City to New York and Washington DC to Boston. The single cause fallacy supporting the single solution fallacy.

I'm tempted to ask whether gun control advocates are just Onanists or are they really interested in winning over an opposition who doesn't trust any of their reassurances because of all the lies?

Just Island universes are we, or non-intersecting circles in some vast Venn diagram. No one to tell us what we don't want to hear that we can't dismiss with a snark and a bark and some fudged figures as the world ends, not with a bang but a giggle.  Call on me teacher!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Springtime for Trump

Shocking to wake up and find you've lost enough to buy a nice house because some Brit Brats with nose rings and face tattoos want to return to chauvinist nationalism and don't understand or like foreigners or the way the modern world economy works.

Everyone suddenly notices that Herr Drumpf might just defy reason and find himself the American Führer. Drumpf who seemed yesterday, taking time off from campaigning to do some shifty business,  to think running away from the EU means Scottish independence, which it doesn't, or that the
British can now have their own currency, which they always have had, and can protect their borders which they already do. I'm betting that most fifth graders know that.

Everyone has begun to reminisce about how the disaffected Weimar Republic Germans who felt left out and cheated and robbed, turned to the scapegoats offered by the Nazis and decided to Make Germany Great again. I'm starting to be very aware how possible it is that we'll have a president who wants to default on Treasury bonds to "improve" the economy and make American hate again. I see wealthy old men, with their yachts and Ferraris wearing Trump hats and I see tens of millions of less wealthy ones losing their pensions and savings because Trump has the economic expertise of a garden slug, his campaign almost bankrupt like many of his businesses. I see him sitting in the White House screwing the American people as he did with his bogus "university" I see him making America White Again, deporting millions and destroying lives and families and ruining the lives of children while peddling real estate and cheap steaks like the huckster he is.

The UK may get a chance to change their minds.  The US won't if Trump is elected.  Absent a revolution or a military coup we'll have to ride that train straight down to hell. This is a man, we're told by people close to him, reads Hitler's speeches and admires Goebbels' technique of repeating a lie until it becomes true.

Crooked Trump.  Say it loud. Say it again.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Another Brick in the wall.

So what - you expected something different? If it's about guns, you vote no, plain and simple, and no thought required beyond thinking about how badly the NRA will punish you for giving a crap about who wins the war with Islamic State and al Qaeda and the rest of them. You're a Republican, it's what you do.

Sure, a great many proposals have been misguided, ill-informed and even illegal, but keeping guns from suspected enemies of our country is not just a good idea, it's essential and as long as there's due process and an appeal process, the worst it might mean for a prospective firearms purchaser ( or explosives or ammunition ) is a delay. The lives saved may include not only yours and mine, but the miserable ones of the Senators who voted that proposal down yesterday. Hardly anyone voted against shutting down the 4th amendment because we are at war,  why can't we do something that does not challenge the second because of the same war?

The sad thing though, is the way we live in our bubbles, not listening to anything outside of them, not crediting unbiased information coming from the outside, as we would as a member of a cult. I listened to VP Biden last night struggling to remember the formula for kinetic energy you learned in high school and getting it wrong, telling us one infuriatingly more time that Assault rifles use "big bore, high caliber bullets" which are far more deadly, when of course they use smaller, less powerful rounds than other rifles, only more of them. It's part of the definition, but you've heard that too many times from me and if you live in some other bubble than I do, you still won't listen and didn't believe me those times either. If he's in your bubble, you don't question him and anyone knowing more about physics or guns is the devil, not to be believed.

Perhaps you'll believe me when I opine (once again) that all firearms are very dangerous and the danger derives mostly from the person holding one. That's why I support the legislation that recognizes the danger of this amorphous, decentralized, but viciously deadly worldwide enemy. It's not Islamophobia, it's reality and the vast majority of the people they kill, and torture and oppress are Muslims who hate them too.  Background checks are limited in effectiveness, as we've seen from Orlando, and someone may be able to pass all kinds of sanity and competence tests, but harbor a plan to attack Western culture and Western lifestyles.

But if you're in one bubble, belonging to that particular cult, you didn't even read this so I'm not talking to you. If you're in the other bubble, you may want to go on believing in the propaganda thereof and concentrate on one tendentiously defined class of weapons and paying no attention to others quite as deadly or even more so, because any information that comes from any expert of any qualification will be ignored without the same tired old Shibboleth: "Assault weapons! are the worst problem!

Will blocking legal gun sales to would be terrorists stop terrorist attacks? No, it's too easy to have a friend buy one for you like you used to do to buy beer when you were underage, (admit it) but as part of beefing up national security, improving interdepartmental communication, it's a necessary brick in the wall. Not Trumps imaginary Maginot line, but the real wall we need between us and our real enemies.

But don't rant and rave and carry signs - keep calm and call your Senators, your Congressmen. Internet petitions aren't as good as a phone call. If it's true that nearly 90% of us favor blocking sales to terrorists, making an effort to get rid of high capacity magazines - neither of which are forbidden by the 2nd amendment - they need to listen to the one authority higher than the NRA: you and me.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Keep Calm and. . .

No, really, just keep calm. . . please.

"The worst thing about America is GUNS!"  I'm told, and if I disagree, I've been brainwashed by an organization I don't belong to or listen to and have contempt for.  Why? because zealots argue by the numbers the way a salesman is trained: with lists of objections and standard responses but without the yelling and insulting that make it hard to sell insurance or swamp land. When it comes to guns, food, cars, economics, taxation, immigration, religion and a few other subjects dear to the brainwashing trade, it's about avoiding the facts to avoid refutation. "Don't ask questions, just look at the bogeyman!"

 One preempts the calm, rational approach by attacking first. Nebulous and ill defined attacks are best for this purpose.  Sure, guns frighten the hell out of some people and everyone has the right to their fears, but other things may be more dangerous. That's why when I suggest banning the most dangerous feature of any gun, I get "no, only assault weapons, read the script or shut up,"  If you want to see a working definition of "conniption" just say calm and stick to the facts.

Sign here to send a petition to "Help stop the use of bee-toxic pesticides!"  Could we keep a bit more calm because there's no particular evidence that pesticides are causing or contributing to this apparently widespread phenomenon of  hive collapse syndrome, and even if the EPA has the power to ban or eliminate such things if they do exist, it doesn't mean there's any scientific consensus on the etiology of this disease which may not actually be new and appears on more than one continent. There's plenty of activist consensus, but as with the fanatical but unsupportable assertions about Autism spectrum syndrome and vaccines,  it's based on rumor and conjecture and hysteria, just as the previous notion that it was all about cell phones because after all, Post Hoc means Propter Hoc. Certain people prone to see real and imaginary ills to be the product of evil corporations (aren't they all evil?) won't question it though and if you don't, well you're brainwashed. Science?  Just keep banning until the problem goes away.

"I don't need any facts, I just know" said one Solon after I asked him whether a proposed measure had a record of previous successes.  I'm afraid that response is too commonplace when certain, activist-dominated subjects are involved. But what do I know?  I've been brainwashed by the facts and made a fool of by calm reflection. The 'solution' has been an abject failure more than once, but he just knows it will work which is a form of the argument from ignorance.  After all it's a gun control proposal and so it will, ipso facto,  control guns, just as all those "Crime Bills" we were urged to support in the 70's and 80's that made things worse. Or those bills to "untie the hands" of the police that also made things so much worse and the Drug bills that filled our jails with harmless and ordinary people, destroying the lives and families we were supposed to be protecting.  As old Daniel Webster said:
 "the strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many a bad measure." 
The end may justify the means sometimes, but the urgency and fear don't justify all proposals. None the less, if your plan fails, you can always blame it on the appropriate bogeyman to escape the inevitable "told you so."

I'm looking at a list of statistical rankings of fatality risks in our country.  It's in response to the "worst thing" assertion.  Of course as with all such things you have to define terms and I'm taking the liberty of defining worst as the most dangerous, the most likely to kill you and of course Heart disease, stroke and cancer are by far the leading causes of death. Odds are it's curtains for you and me sooner or later, I'm afraid.  It's full of many  interesting observations including that bicycles are enormously more dangerous than motorcycles in terms of how many people are killed on them.

 Assault by firearm?  It's number ten at 1 in 300 and that's terrible at first glance or at second glance, but then as with motorcycle accidents at 1 in 802  and death by drowning and immersion at 1 in 1073, those are averages for the entire population and if you don't go near the water and don't ride a motorcycle these risks don't apply, just as if you don't live in certain neighborhoods and don't get involved in gangs or drugs, your odds of firearm assault may vary - enormously.

Cause for some thought here about apparent risk and actual risk?  Nah. We just know we're right and reflection is weakness and if the group advocates something but I advocate something stronger, I must be a dupe, a stooge of the standard bogeyman. Pick one from the menu.

The overall likelihood of a fatal drug overdose is almost on a par with fatal shooting, but of course neither you nor I is likely to do them, (although I can't be too sure about you) Averages can be hugely misleading and they certainly are when used to frighten people into grasping at straws or laws.  So if I say that chances are something other than guns is gonna gitcha even if you do watch out, it's not because there's no danger from firearms and killers, but it's not the worst and I can prove it. There may be something worse in other senses than guns - say like injustice or the lack of access to medical care or higher education voting rights or legal council or even safe water, for our suburban Detroit friends.

But there is no anti-motorcycle advocacy group. The Motorcycle Haters are far less organized than the Monsanto Haters and of course since hardly anyone is an organic chemist or geneticist, has a degree in biology or agriculture, it's a perfect windmill for the bee saving Quixotes of America to tilt at. Bike haters?  They're around but not nearly so outspoken.  I think they're afraid of us.

As with all things relative to our fear and anger industry, the Worst Thing, as Orwell told us in 1984 is very personal. The worst thing may just be your own fear. It may be something you haven't thought about while being terrified of something else because what you fear is mostly about partisanship and manipulation. It's about preventing calm and objectivity.  It's all about what group has washed your cerebral cortex. It's less about the principles than about the principals. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Recreational Belief

And while I'm on the subject of  dishonest advertising, I saw an article just now claiming that thousands of scientists have proved Einstein wrong - again.  How's that?  Why, although that German immigrant predicted and provided a mathematical basis for gravity waves, he opined that we wouldn't have the technology to detect them directly, which of course we do and we have.  Einstein's theories aren't wrong, the article's title was wrong.

If only this weren't standard procedure in the media. Take the Tesla ascendancy. He invented radio is the trendy thing to say among millennials although others invented it a long time before. In fact James Clerk Maxwell developed the mathematical basis for electromagnetic waves in the late 19th century and Heinrich Hertz demonstrated broadcasting and receiving them in 1885 and Thomas Edison actually received a patent* for a ship to ship radio system, including a quarter wave vertical antenna in that year. He sold it all to Marconi.
Tesla's claim to radio was that Marconi sent a signal across the Atlantic using a Tesla coil which of course he didn't, he used a Ruhmkorff coil which had been used by others, including Hertz to send radio signals.  The courts were simply confused as was the case many times in the history of radio.

Tesla invented AC power distribution including the transformer and alternator and AC motor but actually he didn't. Most of Tesla's "inventions" were thought experiments that never worked because the science was wrong. His dearly held goal was to send electrical power to customers without wires. Didn't work and would have been deadly if tried.

But recreational belief is our national sport.  It's fun to say Edison didn't invent the light bulb because he knew about other efforts that didn't actually work but it's only shifty rhetoric and it all depends on a shifty description of "invent" It just makes you feel so hip to recite such things.  I suppose the Wright brothers could be stripped of their title because they know about Lilienthal or Langley and NASA gets no credit for the moon landing because of Jules Verne. Anyway, if someone invents a working time machine he won't have invented it either, because of  H. G. Wells.

U.S. Patent 465,971 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

And the Home of the Brave.

I'm sure the mourning and weeping and candle lighting will go on for a while and I'm sure the finger pointing, panic mongering and political accusations of guilt will continue apace.

I have to look at how France has reacted after their own, much larger attacks in recent years.  It's been very different I think. From over here, it looks like expressions of solidarity and refusal to be afraid typify the nation we like to joke about and accuse of cowardice.  Paris has just lit up the Eiffel Tower as a token of solidarity with the usually supercilious and superior USA.  Thank you and Vive La France.

We on the other hand have been spending our time both trying to stress that Orlando was a Jihadi attack and furiously denying it. Look not to the murderer's hand, say some. It's all about the guns. It's all because Obama won't say Islamic terrorism, say others. It's only because he used an "assault rifle" said one guy before I blocked him on Facebook. He would not admit that the Glock 17 pistol he carried actually was "military grade" but the rifle wasn't. Handguns are irrelevant apparently, if you're rabid about "assault rifles" but don't really know what that means. Many think they are legal machine guns, others thing the same bullet is more deadly because the rifle has a pistol grip, but neither panic nor politics make for truth or support logic. The first thing I saw this morning was an admonishment that we don't have a constitutional right to shoot 100 people at once.  Thanks for reminding me that murder is illegal but I'd like to see a gun that can do that. We don't have a constitutional right to blow up buildings or set fires in nightclubs either. Meaningless non-sequitur designed to argue for the gun control policy that failed so miserably in this case. Be afraid! We're all in danger!

Where is the "let's stand together" rhetoric? No, it's more like "you can't go out any more" cowardice being hyped up by anti-gun panic brokers and when coupled with "they're going to take away our guns" panic on the other side, we're as funny as a Punch and Judy show to people that wish us harm and destruction.  We're simply not the home of the brave we once were and apparently Europeans still are. From a gun-free America to driverless safety cars to the idea of a locked down walled country I feel surrounded by mewling, trembling, pants-pissing cowards.  None of this bodes well for us remaining as the home of the free either.


I've got to admit it's getting better (Better)
A little better all the time (It can't get more worse)
-the Beatles-

Panic is big business. Hysteria is a moneymaker and the road to riches for those who can inflame and outrage the public.  So of course the persuaders of every persuasion are here to make you think everything is going to hell. Immigrants are going to ruin us, the debt is out of control, all our jobs are going to Mexico and most of all we're all going to be killed. After all you can't go to nightclubs or movie theaters and it's open season on Black children. Gluten will kill you and disease resistant crops will turn you into a wheat stalk and preservatives and processed food?  Oh my God!  This is the worst ever, we're all going to die and all trends point in the direction of Hell. 

All these arguments seem to be the worst when they're not really true or are oversimplified to the point of distortion. The overall trend in violent crime has been down for decades, employment is at record highs and so many things have improved over the last 8 years you'd think someone would notice the dire prognostications of Obama's failure didn't happen, but it's not to the benefit of power that we notice.  Every downward blip is a trend, and an indicator of impending calamity. So obviously we need to stay inside and buy guns before the Obaminator - oh excuse me - Dishonest Hillary takes them away.  We also need to make them disappear with the magic wand of badly written legislation. After all last time we banned "assault weapons" sales went up and numbers increased in a big way.  Lets do it just as badly again.

And by all means let's stay angry. Lets believe these are the last days as they have been for thousands of years now.  Nothing is random, nothing is cyclical, everything is a trend and a downward one. 

The best way to show a trend in a set of data, is to take a small sample. A large sample of mass shootings in the US looks quite a bit more than a series of irregular occurrences with quiescent  periods in between. The previous "worst mass shooting" was in 1927 when the population was a third of today's and falls behind the latest by about 4 deaths. Perhaps toning down the "if this trend continues" rhetoric just a bit might allow some breathing room, but again, that doesn't serve the interests on any side who like the used car salesman, wants you to ACT NOW! 

Act now before we discuss how we go about reducing these things.  Is it one problem of several? How much can we expect from gun regulations, how much increased surveillance and enforcement will we accept.  Do we deprive people of constitutional rights if they are under suspicion?  Do we accept racial profiling? We've already set aside the 4th amendment and perhaps illegally. Do we set aside the 2nd without due process because we are afraid?  this is more than a rampage shooting, more than an act of terrorism, this is an existential crisis for Democracy in America and certainly we need to handle it by pumping up the volume, hyping up the sloppy rhetoric, fuzzying up the logic and making it personal. The craziness, the evil - it's all on their side, but don't question our assertions, our shibboleths or our logic.  Now all together POINT THOSE FINGERS.

Friday, June 10, 2016


Seems like most politics these days ( and everything is politics) involves creating a bubble, a frame of reference that doesn't necessarily have a one to one relationship with the world as an outsider might see it.  Many of those Republicans for whom Obama is a "disaster" and Hillary is a "trainwreck" inhabit a place where the economy is bad and getting worse, where freedom is being eroded and where America is no longer "great."  That makes it easy to support things that drag down economies, erode freedom and make the world hate us. The "tyrant' Obama has taken no guns, created millions of jobs, and all the dire predictions are still dire, but unfulfilled, or they are from outside that bubble anyway.

But that's a cheap shot, or an easy one at least, it's harder to see such things in your own bubble.  I argued with someone not long ago who asserted that life in America is much more dangerous than it was way back in 1971.  Gun crime is everywhere  and out of control you see. You can hardly go outside and of course there are all sorts of charts and graphs that at first glance make it seem that way, often by isolating small sections of a long curve and projecting things into the future. It's the sort of approach that gives us the appearance of an Autism epidemic or a health crisis when in fact there isn't either.

I recall that at the end of the infamous 55 MPH experiment, all sorts of famous people, like the OJ defense lawyer Barry Schenk waxed passionate about the "coming bloodbath on the highway." The bloodbath that not only didn't materialize but the death rate continued to decline and still does. The speed limit had no positive effect on highway safety despite years of repeating the theory as an axiom.

The Bill Maher health analysis that had us getting sicker by the day what with all the evil things put in our food and water by evil scientists and satanic corporations also  has had to contend with the opposite results but somehow, or at least within the belief bubble common to so many Democrats, the conviction that the danger from guns escalates every year has escaped over 40 years of contrary statistics.

There was a quiet and not repeated bit on the local news last week about the latest Florida crime statistics which show another 5% or so decrease in gun crimes, even as Florida continues to grow rapidly.  And here that piece of Godzilla legislation some like to call "stand your ground" was supposed to produce a bloodbath, an open season on Black children. Allowing concealed weapons was supposed to do the same, but here we are with the lowest level of violent (and non-violent crime too, apparently) since they started keeping records in 1971. Perhaps we can ignore the old Occam thing and invent some reasons for it that preserve the core beliefs and our own sense of  superior wisdom?

The FBI confirms the trend for the nation as a whole, but who trusts anything outside the bubble of community wisdom anyway.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

If I Only Had a Heart

Researchers at the University of California are trying to develop a pig whose organs contain some human DNA which will make it possible to use those organs in humans without rejection. Is this good news for those who will die waiting for a human donor or who don't qualify by reason of age?

I should think so, but of course we can always count on popular superstition, fear of the new and the love of  making money from it.  So as soon as hope emerges, headlines pop up to dash them. "Trading Ethic for Organs" blares the article, because if your 14 year old daughter needs a heart, if you dear mother needs a kidney or a marrow transplant, you're certainly going to have too much sympathy for a pig.

And of course this pig with some human DNA is successful, it will be GENETICALLY MODIFIED, and you all know what that means!  All the other pigs will die, and the bees too and if you eat bacon you'll start to oink and maybe even vote Republican. That's just before the sky falls, of course.

Friday, June 03, 2016


Quite frankly, nobody is going to make America great again, at least not to any universal agreement. Nor is it really possible to define the word. That's why it makes such a catchy campaign slogan. Everyone has his own notions about greatness.  For some it means to make America white again, for others it means to return to a day when this was a manufacturing powerhouse and assembly line jobs allowed workers to be part of a booming middle class, a time when foreign competition was feeble and public tastes preferred domestic goods. It's not going to happen and temporal dysphoria, like entropy, will increase. Short of an apocalypse, the world continues to get smaller.

Change itself , like the expansion of the universe, seems to be accelerating.  By the time most people develop what feels like an understanding of how things are, it's all changed, the technology, the certainties, the requirements of social intercourse, the goals of citizens, the expectations and even the language change ever more rapidly.  I doubt that even Taoists are comfortable going with this turbulent flow. I'm certainly not and it may explain my love of antiques, art and old technology. Perhaps it explains all those off-the-grid survivalist shows, the back-to-nature attempts that usually aren't very honest and it certainly explains the obsessive use of words like "artisinal," Natural, craft and Organic, one sees in advertising.  Make no mistake, advertising is the soul of our culture and ours is a backwards looking one. At a time when cars are become autonomous robots, jukeboxes, internet cafe's and video game parlors all wrapped in armor, we still see ads telling us how the Lexus isn't produced, it's "crafted."  We see clips of hands sanding a block of wood for the dashboard and we feel soothed even though we know it's all automated and turned out by robots. Deceit is the root of our culture although we may call it by other names, the cars we're told to worship for having 200 horsepower outsell those with 700 horsepower because we see the world through the dark lens of advertising. The way we smell and taste things owes far more to the expectations we've had instilled in us than it does to tongues or noses. Placebos are often perceived as more effective than real medicine and everyone with a cause feels justified in any level of misrepresentation to further it, it doesn't matter that a mushroom with a gene removed that turns it dark when cut simply must be dangerous to all life on Earth without any evidence just as surely as vaccinations don't work and cause Autism. You can save the planet by wearing organic hemp underwear, Reality terrifies us although we have no actual connection to it.

It's not new, the reaction to rapacious modernity, It was the industrial revolution that spawned the Arts and Crafts movement and gave most of us the wealth to purchase it.  It's scientific farming that's allowed us the freedom and time to raise the hysteria and hypochondria that keeps the aisles at Whole Foods crowded and causes people to adopt the "Kale Cleansing" or Carb Counting Gluten-Free life style, or Copper Compression underwear tuned to Natural frequencies. Advances in medicine produce a distrust of medicine as do advances in most everything, including civil rights, justice, equality and freedom -- and we react accordingly. Is racism fading or getting worse? You tell me - and I'm sure you will.

Some of us resent losing the sense of White Anglo-Saxon protestant primacy we could feel 75 years ago and we support Trump. Others insist nothing has improved and nobody seems to like the way things are, the way they think things are going or their part in life. So we have Bullies for Bernie. We've had "leaders" dedicated to keeping things the way they were or we thought they were, no matter how awful it was for some and we have those who passionately hate what is and envision something altogether different and much more pleasant for them without much concern for what's possible or moral or legal. Welcome to the American fugue state.

America was once great we all agree as long as we don't have to be specific about for whom or when or in what sense that was. America's current greatness is still beyond challenge even while we complain so much about the current "disaster" or claim that everything is "broken," something we can do without any reference to a broader picture.   It's enough to cite one talking point and one example real or manufactured, to support either certainty.

Is it any wonder that a candidate can base his campaign on returning to a lost greatness while his advocates insist we're the greatest there ever was?  It's only a wonder in a rational world, and where are you going to find one of those?

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Stupid is as Stupid Does.

Many scholarly articles suggest  a link between the easily disgusted and the chronic Republican voter. Reading that Donald finds windmills disgusting makes me wonder just how extreme this man is, as windmills are not typical gag reaction triggers for the party which abhors Humanism, homosexuality, pornography and most things with a sexual component.  The Laissez Faire Conservative attitude extends only to the regulation of business and finance, not to how one might dress or with whom one forms romantic relationships or in what mythology one chooses to suspend disbelief. Windmills. I hesitate to hear his ideas about hydroelectric power or photoelectric panels, much less the satellites that collect global temperature data.

Indeed I have had about enough of all his ideas about race and gender and medicine and climatology: about his conspiracy theories and immigration fantasies. There's no drought in California, the planet is freezing! Rapist, Mexican drug mules are streaming North across the border and a president can, by fiat, make a major religion illegal and put a faith test on immigration laws.  11 million people in boxcars. It's certainly worth the 600 billion dollar cost to protect our dollars and daughters from people who have lived and worked here for decades and even lifetimes -- even the children raised here who know no Spanish. You know, the ones who pay taxes yet can't collect Social Security.  Good think he's got a good relationship with "the Blacks."  I might have worried otherwise.

Is all this cognitive chaos scarier than the fact that facts have no bearing on his opinions or the opinions of the millions of Denialists that clog the national arteries?  Faith over fact, prejudice over principle: the equations of idiots and the answer is always Trump.

Compulsory cynicism and mean mockery aside, this is a man of no morals or ethics or conscience. It's not as though he is unique in this, but that our United States is unique among Western Industrialized and allegedly enlightened nation in having more than ten people who disagree with that. One thinks of Sodom or Gomorrah and weeps.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

When You Gotta Go. You Gotta Go!

I'm sure the hope that those "smaller government" patriots will get their minds  and their intrusive policies out of the toilet is entirely vain, but I read this morning that the plight of transgender high school students, banned from their desired washroom is headed to the Supreme Court.  The spectacle of Conservative "thought" battling with ancient demons has lost its amusement factor after all these months of  our grotesque presidential rhetoric and whether or not the SCOTUS will hear the case or what decision they come to the only solution I can see is one I'm told exists in Great Britain, is the ability to have one's birth certificate modified to show the gender one has adopted.

A shorter term solution, although I'm not recommending anyone adopt it, is for protesting students to simply do their bodily functions at the door of the Principal's office and trade one disgusting act for another disgusting attitude.