I was fixing links in Caveat Emptor today and realized that I had never linked directly to the original material for this video that was referenced under the observation that Trump was a shameless self-promoter. The original content was a Huffington Post piece that was just the video running in an otherwise empty page, and Huffpo is now owned by Verizon and I’m not a fan of Verizon or their expanding empire. The link in Caveat Emptor now points to this article, through the magic of time travel. Traveling three years into the future, with the click of one link. Or, three years into the past, if you click the Caveat Emptor link. How does that happen?
As I was listening to the audio for the video, while re-editing the rest of the links in the article, links that went to the old blog address, I realized that this video is even more timely now. Timely, now that we are witnessing the potential genocide of the Syrian Kurds, our allies for all the years of the Syrian civil war. Our allies in our vain attempt to see the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad come to an end.
Vain because Vladimir Putin staked his reputation on Assad and vain because we allowed a dictator to take control of Turkey. A dictator that needed a scapegoat in the Kurdish minority in his own country,a minority that just happened to be taking up arms in revolution in the country next door to his. If only he had a way to get the United States to stop backing these people? Enter the easily manipulated Orange Hate-Monkey, Vladimir Putin’s favorite American president.
Trump has indeed done something irreversibly stupid now, and fixing the problem requires that we get rid of him in a hurry. It’s too bad that Republicans were too chickenshit to stand up to the bully and had to wait for a woman to put the bastard in his place. So, he’ll be impeached, and if we’re lucky he’ll be removed from office right after the Republicans get the balls to remove Moscow Mitch from his seat in the Senate. I’m afraid it will be too late for the Kurds by then though.
Yep. It is just too bad that no one was listening to Keith Olbermann three years ago. Maybe we would have been prepared if they had been.
(lit. “useless eaters” or “useless mouths”) Similar to life unworthy of life, a designation for Jews unable to work, people with serious medical problems or disabilities, and other Untermenschen not deemed to be useful to Germany.
On March 28th, 2019, we learned that the proposed Trump budget was going to defund the Special Olympics, as well as strip the paltry millions away from special needs children across the United States. Betsy Devos defunding Special Olympics? They are useless eaters after all. The Orange Hate-Monkey, coward that he is (luckily for targets that he selects) backpedaled as fast as his bone spur disability would let him. At least, when it comes to visible programs like the Special Olympics he is backpedaling. But when it comes to the more invisible cuts? What happens to them? Are they rescinded?
Whether he says they are or not, whether congress overrides his ridiculous budget and drafts a new one from whole cloth, the question still remains, why? Why target these programs in the first place? Because they enable the useless eaters in our midst, that’s why.
That is also why he wants to change disability insurance and defund social security and kill Obamacare. All of those programs allow people to survive without working, and you can’t keep paying people not to work. If you are a Nazi a fascist or a stormtrumper, that is what you believe.
Does society exist? Most anarchists and conservatives would say it doesn’t. I present a counter-argument.
When was the last time you stalked prey, ran it down and then ate it? That’s not a realistic question, is it? I mean silly, right? I’ll skip over asking if you’ve crafted your own weapons with which to hunt game, I know most people have not and the creation of the most basic tools an individual can make is a skill that vanishingly few people can exhibit. When was the last time you planted seeds, watched them grow, and then harvested the crop? Well, all of us have probably tended a garden in our lifetimes. Agriculture is in just about everybody in some way. There is something real about digging in the dirt and watching plants grow. Something very zen and rewarding about the entire process. However, gardening is definitely not the same as growing everything you need to survive all by yourself year in and year out.
Why am I asking these questions? Because that is what it means to be truly self-sufficient. To be able to produce the food you require independently. To be able to create all of the tools and clothing you require to survive in any climate in any region of the world. If I were to ask you about building your own shelter, even fewer people would understand just how difficult that process and others are. They would be clueless as to just how many people are required to create the many things we take for granted. Take for granted (i.e. an entitlement) especially in the US and other developed countries.
I have heard the challenge, repeated many times over my years in libertarian circles, to prove the existence of society. It is almost a mantra to some individualists, and I know there are survivalists out there who are convinced they could live on their own indefinitely. Some of them even can do it, I’m sure, but the number of people who could do it are a fraction of a percentage point of the entire human population. That is a pretty steep hill to drop off of, if the lights just go off one night and never come back on.
Coming from the other direction, the number of people the Earth could support if everyone had to live a hunter-gatherer life is probably less than one billion people. I haven’t seen anyone do a back of the envelope calculation on that in several years, so my number is off I’m sure. The point is that the number of people the world can support in a primitive lifestyle is smaller than the number of people our established technology can support. The systems built and maintained over centuries by people who just want to see their children have it easier than they did, to be able to survive without having to claw their way through every day wondering if they’d make it through the next day.
The nine-to-fiver who complains about the cost of his latte has no clue, none at all, just how many people who had to labor to get him his coffee with milk in a container that he could just throw away when he’s had enough caffeine to keep him alert. And he gets that tasty beverage in exchange for a promissory note, a debt instrument, money, that the retailer then passes back down the chain eventually to the field workers in a far away country that actually touch the soil and grow the coffee that he thinks he paid too much for.
All of this, the high numbers of people, the ease of access to goods and services, the ability to do some task divorced from producing sustenance for yourself directly and still be fed, clothed, sheltered? All of it is evidence of society. Money is evidence of society, all by itself. Money is a socialist system, a system that exists because there are others to trade with in the first place. Without the group’s agreement, you’d still be running down prey like your ancient ancestors did, and hoping that the animal didn’t injure you before you killed it.
Watching the seventh season of The Walking Dead, I was struck by the notion that the entire group still wears clothing that doesn’t visibly disintegrate when they move. Seven years on, they still aren’t spinning and weaving thread and cloth. Patching shirts and jackets. For that matter the vehicles still run after being essentially without maintenance on the side of the road for years. Gasoline still burns even though (as anyone who has experience with small engines can attest) you’re lucky if you can get a lawn mower engine to start after it’s been sitting idle through one winter. Lucky to get it started because the fuel itself is unstable and will degrade over time. Rick and Carl and the rest of the crew? They’d be walking or riding horses everywhere by now because the fuel to run modern vehicles can’t be easily created without a vast infrastructure of technology that very few people understand.
That’s television, you say? Of course it is. It’s fantasy. And so is the notion that any of us are truly self-sufficient. None of us can replicate even the most simple of machines that we rely on daily, and yet we delude ourselves into thinking that we are capable and independent. Rational actors on a vast, mathematically predictable stage. That ability to delude oneself in that fashion? That too is evidence of society. Flat Earthers are a modern invention, and absolute proof of society’s existence. You don’t question that the Earth is round when you watch the people who will bring back your dinner tonight sail over the horizon to catch fish. The curvature of the Earth is as evident as the gnawing hunger in your belly.
I first thought about writing a post like this one after listening to this episode of Freakonomics,
I was inspired by the complexity of the process of creating one of the oldest tools modern man utilizes, the simple wooden pencil. As the episode goes into, the pencil is hardly simple at all. It took generations of tinkering and tweaking to create the object that you and I think of as a pencil when we say the word “pencil”. This TED talk portrays the complexity of the subject more quickly,
Unfortunately the video is hosted on Facebook only. I apologize for the cludgy video interface design that comes along with that; the parts that aren’t directly copied from YouTube, I mean. Modern technology is so much not like the pencil. Facebook’s baldly abrasive and ham-handed attempts to acquire all internet traffic for itself are a hallmark of poor design, but that is a different subject for some other day. The subject for today is how the simplest of objects that we take for granted, a toaster, a pencil, are beyond the ability of any one person to put together and have work properly. So much for the dreams of rugged individualism and self-reliance. Would you mind passing me that cup of tea, please?
The triumphs of the free market are actually nothing like triumphs of the free market. They are products of society, government and business working together. This is the part of the human equation that most individualists simply cannot wrap their minds around. None of us get exactly what we want. Not even the wealthiest of wealthy men gets exactly what they want out of life. To the extent that anyone’s needs are met it is done through cooperative effort. Like-minded people working together for a common goal. The most that any individual can do by himself is survive, and that only for the brief instant that their life contains. If that’s all you want out of life, survival, then you really are a pathetic creature. I grieve for you.
Here’s some evidence of the government funding that Mazzucato’s talking about. DARPA, or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, created during the Cold War to keep American technology ahead of the Soviets, has over the years produced several kinds of missiles and airplanes as well as the first computer mouse, miniature GPS receivers, HD displays, and a digital personal assistant. ARPA-E, or the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, founded under George W. Bush, has funded a variety of energy projects, including battery-storage tech; the Department of Energy, starting in 1978, invested more than $130 million studying the extraction techniques that have come to be known as fracking. And the National Institutes of Health has helped fund the vast majority of all new drugs approved by the FDA.
Editor’s note: January, 2020 – I updated links for the content that is hosted off-site. TED added their Facebook only content onto Youtube and their own website. Freakonomics now forces me to link to their content on Stitcher to embed it. It would have been nice if they had done some of this work for themselves, giving me links to the Stitcher locations for each episode. Instead I had to search, find, and then rebuild the embed for both episodes I link here. Such is the life of a blogger who is his own editor and website manager.
Media, like most industries, is still dominated by straight, white, cisgender men ― at least at the top. How many women have been pushed aside over the years professionally because of the preferences of more powerful men who turn out to be predators? How many predatory men have been propped up by other predatory men? And how many stories have gone untold in the process?
Sports metaphor. That should be the first sign I’m not myself. I have no use for sports, but an upbringing at the foot of a man who never missed a game (Baseball, Football, you name it) has layered my subconscious with a multiplicity of sports metaphors that lend themselves to almost any situation. Sadly.
Was working on a piece for the blog a week ago when this latest round of Meniere’s fun started. Haven’t had a spell like this in living memory. I’ve had short-term worse recently (a drop attack about a month ago lasted less than 10 hours) but I haven’t felt this ill for this long since I gave up work in 2005.
I have been on the Meclizine for the last few days. The affected ear has been hypertussive (all sound hurts) for over a week now. The tinnitus has been off the charts loud, and I’ve been off and on vertiginous for the whole time. Every thought feels like it has to be forced through jelly to get out of my head and onto the page. More than a week avoiding sound, bright lights, etc. Going a bit stir crazy, I think.
I’m pretty sure this is my allergies acting up. I haven’t been eating or doing anything out of the ordinary that could have caused it. Unless the excavation going on in the neighbor’s back yard is releasing something into the air (mostly joking) I can’t think of anything else that could be the cause.
Which is the big problem with this disease. It just hits you. You’re down, can’t think of anything you might have done wrong, so you play association games trying to figure out what triggered this attack that you’d rather die from than suffer through. That’s how you get to conclusions like low-salt diets and alcohol and caffeine causing the symptoms. The truth is that there doesn’t need to be a cause, and nothing you remember doing actually is as fault. It is a disease, and the symptoms occur because you have it.
Allergies are a known trigger with me, though. Pollen levels for various plants are generally elevated when my symptoms are bad. It was spring and fall pollen season that first triggered symptoms for me way back in the 1980’s and 90’s. To top it off I quit getting my allergy shots a few years back because I had concluded that I wasn’t getting any additional benefit from continuing them. I had been getting shots for over a decade, I really didn’t see the point in continuing.
Given what I’m suffering through now, perhaps stopping treatment was a mistake. Time to head back to the allergist and see if the shots can’t get me back to something resembling normalcy. Shots twice a week again, really looking forward to that. Beats the alternative, as the saying goes.
I identified with number 4 on the list almost immediately,
4. There are good days and bad days.
…since the first order of business today was to take my first shower since Friday or Sunday. Given that I can’t remember when it was, combined with my inability to stand my own smell, today is shower day one way or the other.
It was glorious and at the same time frightening, since balance in the shower is of paramount importance. I try not to think about how clean the shower walls are when leaning on them. Cleaner than I am after 5 days, in any case. Now back to vegetating and re-watching last season of The Walking Dead. Prepping for next season early, since in my currently hazy state I barely remember watching the episodes before anyway.
I posted this on the 13th of July. It was July 8th when I started the piece I wanted to write next. Today (July 21st) I finally got out of the house and went for a three mile walk. First time I’ve gone on a decent walk since (checking Endomondo) the 10th. My how time crawls when stuck in a rut. Felt like it had been a month or more. Got dizzy while walking but I’ll take it. Best day in over a week so far.
I gave up updating this every day that I felt moderately well enough to write. On my birthday it was a month since I wrote this piece and today (August 22nd) I felt like writing again. Felt like writing if only my ears would stop trying to pop out of the side of my head.
I received a brand new Nexus 5 for my birthday, and that has kept me beautifully distracted since I got it. I can finally play some of the games I’ve been wanting to play and install several apps that just were too big for the HTC Evo Shift that I’ve been using for the last two years. My heartfelt thanks to the friends and family who made the gift possible. It really was the only thing I wanted, one of the few things I can use while essentially bedridden for days at a time.
But I don’t write on a phone, I write on a keyboard. I have to feel well enough to get out of bed, not collapse in the easy chair with Netflix to comfort me, sit down in front of a computer or with a laptop and write. Then I have to have something in mind to write about.
Back to the ears again. Pressure and sensitivity to sound again today. The tinnitus drowns out thought and makes long chains of reasoning virtually impossible. Next week I will go to the allergist and probably get myself tested again, start shots again. I don’t know what else to do, so I’ll return to allergy treatments and see if that helps.
Just felt like letting everyone know I was still alive. Here’s a picture of my dog wearing my walking hat to cheer everyone up.
American Atheists filed a federal suit in 2012 claiming the 17-foot display at the museum built with a mix of public and private funds was unconstitutional. The group said its members suffered from both physical and emotional damages from the presence of the beamed cross, resulting in headaches, indigestion and mental pain.
The problem here is, this is just another form of pareidolia. Every building which is multi story has a beam intersection of this kind in it somewhere. Most of the bigger ones have thousands of them. So the significance of this one intersection is miniscule compared to the numbers of intersections destroyed in the collapse. Additionally, it was a virtual certainty that an intersection would come to rest in this fashion, exactly as documented. If I were to go digging through records of demolitions I could probably produce at least one example of this from every single one. It is meaningless, a trick of the eye and the believing brain.
What this piece of wreckage represents is nothing more than the human tendency to assign meaning where there is none. It is not a cross except in the minds of people who want to see a cross; consequently, the reason they want this particular intersection saved is entirely religious and in no way secular. Just FYI, a trained eye can easily reveal that the two intersections are not the same, so the symbolism of the cross standing amidst the debris? Lost on the people who salvaged any old structural intersection to satisfy the calls to preserve the one everyone claims to have remembered.
What if structures were formed in crescents or Stars of David? Which group would find those shapes significant, and would we be receptive to their calls to preserve their symbols? Remember FOX’s depth of acceptance of the structure they deemed the Ground Zero Mosque? Read the hysteria surrounding the design for the flight 93 memorial, and then tell me how these arguments are not religiously motivated.
In response, Paul Murdoch released a statement saying that there was no open or hidden Islamic symbolism in his design; rather, the proposal was based on the bowl-shaped terrain of the site. Other supporters noted that the crescent image was also the shape of an embrace. Nevertheless, Murdoch acquiesced and amended his designs in an effort to avoid a larger political controversy. The architect therefore revised his design into a circular shape bisected by Flight 93’s path toward its eventual crash site. Additionally, site planners installed a visitor’s center and a marble “Wall of Names.”
Seventeen years and $60 million later, the final phase of the Flight 93 National Memorial has ended with the completion of Murdoch’s “Tower of Voices.” Here, the architect presents a variety of numerical homages to the tragedy of September 11. For example, the tower is 93-feet-tall and contains forty wind chimes, one each for the Shanksville crash victims.
This is the most telling fact. No church has spoken up and offered to host the christian monument on their own property nearby. There are plenty of churches within visiting distance of the WTC site for this to be a simple solution to the problem. Since they’ve already substituted a different intersection for the one seen in the wreckage that christians have assigned so much meaning to, they could just as easily have cut I-beam crosses for every single church in New York from the wreckage of the WTC. Every church in the state could have featured one, if churchgoers actually thought that there was this much meaning in a structural intersection. Since this hasn’t happened we can safely assume that the significance is minor.
I sat on this article for years waiting for a final ruling. There never was a final ruling. The cross is still on display, as far as I know. The fact that its meaning comes from religious belief and religious iconography will result in its eventual removal from the memorial site. This is because at some point the site will be wholly publicly funded and public funds cannot be used for religious purposes. The United States government is forbidden from endorsing any religion.