democracy (38)

Curated, Created Realities...

 

 

Image source: Facebook meme

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Climate Change, Democracy, Existentialism, Fascism

 

What is lost in the above Facebook meme: 5:00 - 5:30 pm was typically your local news. 6:00 - 6:30 pm, before “Bewitched,” was your international news, the Walter Cronkites, Mike Wallaces, and Harry Reasoner’s time to scare the living crap out of you that the world beyond our borders, during and post-Vietnam, was still going over a cliff. Hence, there is a serial lineup of sitcom talent for an obvious purpose. We also got cut off at midnight, white noise after the anthem, and a nation avoided insomnia because no 24-hour options existed.

 

Dr. Neil Postman was a Professor of Journalism at NYU. I will recommend two books in this post: “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Showbusiness” and “How To Watch TV News.” Both are essential in an era of gaslighting and misinformation.

 

Above, you peer a lineup that existed on network television in the early 1970s and continued throughout the Reagan era. It went essentially unchanged until the early 2000s.

 

Though I enjoy watching Star Trek on streaming services, this is recent. Enterprise, like Voyager, Deep Space Nine, The Next Generation, and The Original Series were all available on standard channels and cable television. Discovery and Strange New Worlds were first launched by CBS Streaming and then bought out/transferred to Paramount Plus. Nostalgia requires a checking account.

 

Saturday morning cartoons ENDED in September 2014. I can at least see Bugs Bunny on YouTube. Occasionally, Facebook brings up Tom and Jerry, The Roadrunner, etc., on my newsfeed because the algorithms have read my desires and given me what I would most likely wish to see. In this case, nostalgia is free, but now, more than ever, I am the product.

 

“Many decisions about the form and content of news programs are made on the basis of information about the viewer (Internet history), the purpose of which is to keep the viewers watching so that they will be exposed to the commercials” (bots and propaganda).

 

Neil Postman, Steven Powers, “How to Watch TV News.”

 

ABC, CBS, and NBC are running game shows and reality shows in prime time where sitcoms, dramas, actors, and writers used to be employed. As “Amusing Ourselves to Death” puts it, the news, 24-7-365 (366 on leap years), has become our entertainment. How did this happen?

 

In 1972, Richard Milhouse Nixon won a landslide election, winning 49/50 states and 520 electoral votes to his Democratic opponent, George McGovern’s 17. “Other” received one electoral vote. Judging from the redness of the map, a lot of African Americans voted for “law and order” or did not bother to show up at the polls. The Vietnam War trudged on, and the body count approached a staggering 282,000 U.S. and allied military deaths.

 

Two years later, in 1974, Nixon resigned in disgrace after the revelations of the Watergate burglary investigation by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, the subsequent investigations, and the relentless media coverage that swayed a nation from electoral route to, maybe we need to get rid of the president who emphatically stated “I am not a crook” might be a crook. In this case, presidential larceny could not be tolerated.

 

This was possible because Americans had a shared reality innocently framed by what we viewed for entertainment: as many kids in Rural Hall watched Archie Bunker and Saturday cartoons as my neighbors did in East Winston. Although we were in the throws of forced busing due to the 9-0 Supreme Court Brown vs. Board Decision in 1954 (“all-deliberate speed” came about 20 years later in North Carolina), these shows gave us a framework for conversation, jokes, laughter, and community. The above shows weren’t the bastions of diversity - only “Room 222” had a diverse cast - but a shared entertainment experience made us feel more “united” than we do now.

 

Roger Ailes was an aide in the Nixon administration. After Nixon’s ouster, Ailes wanted a news network that was friendly to conservatives and biased against liberals. According to a Rolling Stones article, he created a propaganda network and a fear factory. The fear seems to be in the workplace and projected to its audience, absorbing propaganda nightly. After his death, it still runs top-down, like Pravda, not like a news organization. Since it’s profitable, even after the Dominion lawsuit and the upcoming lawsuit with Smartmatics, the network thinks it can absorb the legal losses of billion-dollar settlements and survive. That is frightening power and reach.

 

I cannot leave their rivals out of this. CNN was the first parent cable news network that “birthed” Fox and MSNBC from “Crossfire” (Paul Begala on the left, and Tucker Carlson on the right). They all follow a framework of “what should you fear of the ‘other.’” Television networks have always competed for viewership through television shows staffed by writers who create content. Shonda Rhimes’ “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal,” and “How To Get Away With Murder” on the public airwaves are distant memories. You need a streaming subscription now. I pay for several, but it’s not normal, nor should it be seen as normal.

 

What happens when your “United States” has no framework for a shared reality?

 

The Republican frontrunner/former reality TV huckster has not debated in the primary and doesn’t need to. He probably won’t in the general election either. He presided over the deaths of 1.13 million Americans due to the botched handling of the Coronavirus that, arguably, his Republican predecessor (43) put the medical professionals in place, and his Democratic successor (44) continued and expanded. Forty-five pulled them out of China to “own the libs” and found himself and the country flatfooted to identify whether the virus came from a food market or a lab leak. The U.S. had the worst performance of Western nations, exacerbated by not promoting masks and pushing non-cures like hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.

 

But, the party and a sizeable amount of the nation want to give him the nuclear codes again because, heck, he's entertaining, in a perverse, psychotic sense. For example, the fictional Batman is grim, determined, disciplined, and rarely smiles in the comics. His nemesis, Joker, is a murdering psychopath, but Jack Nickelson and Heath Ledger made him "entertaining." We all watched both versions of Mayhem.

 

If you can sell soap to 1950s housewives, you can sell racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia to the rubes who can’t, or won’t, afford streaming alternatives. And sell soap.

 

You “keep the viewers watching” not with clever sitcoms and nighttime dramas like “Dallas” and “Dynasty,” but anger at the “other.” Who is “other?” The people who don’t watch your network share your curated views. One side is “woke,” the other is fascist. No one talks.

 

We’ve had decades of Civil War reenactments in city parks, and no one died. Therefore, there is no appreciation that in an actual, modern Civil War, the death toll would likely overrun the hospitals more than Sars-CoV-2 did with the alpha through delta variants. The U.S. dollar would cease to be the currency of global trade, and world order would collapse into fiefdoms, dictatorships, and warlords, which would be fine to oligarchs who separated themselves from society generations ago and only come down from Mount Olympus to influence/bribe our politicians. Homo Sapiens (Latin: “wise men”) should choose a more apropos name: Homo Stultus (“stupid men”), and fully own Idiocracy. It didn’t need 500 years.

 

Humans are storytelling creatures. We need entertainment in the form of books, poetry, well-acted plays, movies, and television shows. We also need knowledge, facts, and accurate history to make a collective assessment of where we’ve been collectively as a nation and a species and where we’re going as a nation - perfecting The Union or over a cliff. Karl Rovian “created realities” nor Neo-Nazi book bans accomplish either necessity.

 

“Infotainment” is neither news nor entertaining, and Dr. Postman’s warning about the parent of this debacle, Ted Turner’s HBO-inspired infotainment, CNN, rings from his grave:

 

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books (well?). What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.

 

“This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.”

 

Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

 

(The parenthesis in both Postman quotes are my adds for emphasis, as are any bold type.)

 

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Births, Stats, Mathematics...

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Source: Brookings Institution

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Democracy, Existentialism, Fascism

Cate Cox and Brittany Watts: Their last names rhyme, but their circumstances couldn't be more diametrically different from one another.

Cate Cox is a married suburban mother with two children. She previously lived in a suburb of Dallas, Texas, but due to her condition, she had to flee her state. A complication with her pregnancy put her life at risk and the possibility that she might not be able to conceive again if her pregnancy weren't ended expeditiously through a procedure now outlawed in Texas.

Brittany Watts, an African American woman, had a stillborn, unfortunately, in the toilet. The fetus was found in the drain, and she was charged with abuse.

Mrs. Cox eventually left Texas for the procedure, having the financial means to leave and get the healthcare that she desired.

Ms. Watts was a frightened young woman who had left the hospital twice before her miscarriage. Yet she's charged with felony abuse of a corpse in Ohio.

Abstract

The Effects of the Dobbs Decision on Fertility*

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization sparked the most profound transformation of the landscape of abortion access in 50 years. We provide the first estimates of the effects of this decision on fertility using a preregistered synthetic difference-in-differences design applied to newly released provisional natality data for the first half of 2023. The results indicate that states with abortion bans experienced an average increase in births of 2.3 percent relative to states where abortion was not restricted.

Source: The Effects of the Dobbs Decision on Fertility, IZA Institute of Labor Economics

The Dobbs Decision was a strategic salvo shot at the year 2045:

New census population projections confirm the importance of racial minorities as the primary demographic engine of the nation’s future growth, countering an aging, slow-growing, and soon-to-be-declining white population. The new statistics project that the nation will become “minority white” in 2045. During that year, whites will comprise 49.7 percent of the population in contrast to 24.6 percent for Hispanics, 13.1 percent for blacks, 7.9 percent for Asians, and 3.8 percent for multiracial populations (see Figure 1).

The shift is the result of two trends. First, between 2018 and 2060, gains will continue in the combined racial minority populations, growing by 74 percent. Second, during this time frame, the aging white population will see a modest immediate gain through 2024 and then experience a long-term decline through 2060, a consequence of more deaths than births (see Figure 2)

Source: Brookings Institution

24.6 (Hispanics) + 13.1 (African Americans) + 7.9 (Asians) + 3.8 (Multiracial) + 0.9 (Other) = 50.3%, which is apparently an existential crisis on the right because "white" supremacy is anxiously numerical.

Excerpt from "Black Labor, White Wealth: The Search for Power and Economic Justice," (August 1, 1994) Claude Anderson, Ed. D., Chapter 2: Power and Black Progress:

Chapter 2, page 33, subsection titled:

Numerical Population Power

     In a democratic society, the numerical majority wins, rules, and decides. The theoretical rights of a minority may or may not be respected, especially if they are a planned minority. Numerical population power is the power that comes to those groups that acquire power through their sheer size. The black population peaked in the 1750s when slaves and free blacks accounted for approximately 33 percent of the total population. The high numerical strength of blacks caused fear and concern among whites. They feared the loss of their own numerical power. Word of black Haitians' successful slave revolt in the 1790s had spread across America and reportedly ignited several slave revolts in Southern states.

     The First U.S. Congress enacted the first naturalization law that declared America to be a nation for "whites only." The Naturalization Act and other income incentives attracted a mass influx of legal and illegal European ethnicities, followed by Asian and Hispanic immigrants a century later. The immigration quota for blacks remained zero until their total percentage of the population declined to nine percent. By making blacks a planned numerical minority, white society assured its dominance in a democratic society where the majority always wins. Source: Sample chapter

Hence, a national ban is actually what they want. Fifteen weeks will be sold as a "reasonable" compromise, and then it will be paired down to the goose egg that is the actual target. Hence, the hostility towards mixed-race couples and multiracial children from their union: they're not on the "white" team. Hence, the hostility towards the LGBTQ community and whether or not they conceive by surrogate or artificial insemination, their union does not produce enough "white" babies to maintain a numerical majority for the "white" team. Mrs. Cox and upper-middle-class suburban women like her will always have the means and the money to flee any complications and save future childbearing years. Ms. Watt will have one of two options: either flush her undesired fetus while in a state of shock down a toilet or die from complications that she cannot afford to mitigate.

The American Eugenics Movement, unfortunately, had a boost from prominent scientists who wished to rid the world of the "feebleminded" and the unfit. They did this through forced sterilization and control over who could get married (to procreate in the first place). If you've ever used the terms "well-bred" or "good breeding," those originate from eugenics, now accepted as a pseudoscience, once promoted by one of the founders of the transistor and Nobel laureate in Physics, William Schockley. Coupled with southern Jim Crow, eugenics-on-steroids in the hands of the Nazis led to the Holocaust.

Nazi authorities created the Lebensborn program to increase Germany’s population. Pregnant German women deemed “racially valuable” were encouraged to give birth to their children at Lebensborn homes. During World War II, the program became complicit in the kidnapping of foreign children with physical features considered “Aryan” by the Nazis.

Source: Lebensborn Program/U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

More Than 700,000 Ukrainian Children Taken To Russia Since Full-Scale War Started, Official Says, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty

Dramatic Population Drop in Russia, as War, COVID and Emigration Exacerbate Declining Births, Health Policy Watch

The First U.S. Congress enacted the first naturalization law that declared America to be a nation for "whites only." The Naturalization Act and other income incentives attracted a mass influx of legal and illegal European ethnicities, followed by Asian and Hispanic immigrants a century later. The immigration quota for blacks remained zero until their total percentage of the population declined to nine percent. By making blacks a planned numerical minority, white society assured its dominance in a democratic society where the majority always wins. Source: Sample chapter

If one is desperate to maintain a majority or "goose your numbers," you might be capable of anything to achieve those ends.

Very soon in the founding of a new nation, however, White Christians began to establish their well-being by using the resources, bodies, and lives of others. Through their own "witchcraft," European Christians employed a mysterious and threatening potency that was the practice of using the other for their own gain. In [James W.] Perkinson's description, through the projects of the modern Christian empire, "a witchery" of heretofore unimaginable potency ravaged African and aboriginal cultures...For Perkinson, the witchcraft of White supremacy was conjured through racial discourse as an ideological and practical frame that he identifies as the 'quintessential witchery of modernity.'... In Perkinson's chilling words, "Whiteness, under the veneer of its 'heavenly' pallor, is a great grinding witch tooth, sucking blood and tearing flesh without apology."

Excerpts: The Sin of White Supremacy: Christianity, Racism & Religious Diversity in America," by Jeanine Hill Fletcher, CH 2: The Witchcraft of White Supremacy, 47, 48.

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The Red Road...

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Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Democracy, Existentialism, Fascism

I can hear an irritated counterthrust already. The president has not driven the United States into a recession during his almost seven years in office. Unemployment stands at a respectable 4.6 percent. Well, fine. But the other side of the ledger groans with distress: a tax code that has become hideously biased in favor of the rich; a national debt that will probably have grown 70 percent by the time this president leaves Washington; a swelling cascade of mortgage defaults; a record near-$850 billion trade deficit; oil prices that are higher than they have ever been; and a dollar so weak that for an American to buy a cup of coffee in London or Paris—or even the Yukon—becomes a venture in high finance.

And it gets worse. After almost seven years of this president, the United States is less prepared than ever to face the future. We have not been educating enough engineers and scientists, people with the skills we will need to compete with China and India. We have not been investing in the kinds of basic research that made us the technological powerhouse of the late 20th century. And although the president now understands—or so he says—that we must begin to wean ourselves from oil and coal, we have become more deeply dependent on both on his watch.

Up to now, the conventional wisdom has been that Herbert Hoover, whose policies aggravated the Great Depression, is the odds-on claimant for the mantle of “worst president” regarding stewardship of the American economy. Once Franklin Roosevelt assumed office and reversed Hoover’s policies, the country began to recover. The economic effects of Bush’s presidency are more insidious than those of Hoover, harder to reverse, and likely to be longer-lasting. There is no threat of America’s being displaced from its position as the world’s richest economy. But our grandchildren will still be living with and struggling with the economic consequences of Mr. Bush.

The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush, Joseph E. Stiglitz, Vanity Fair, December 7, 2007

I am enjoying the New York Times bestseller by former Congresswoman Liz Cheney, Oath and Honor: A Memoir and a Warning. The book was sold out, so I bought the CDs to play on my car’s player as I casually drive to and from work. There are 11 CDs, and from the few I’ve listened to, she has an hour’s worth of material for each. The book is 384 pages.

I enjoy her erudite writing and observations of our current moment and crisis. Though we probably don’t agree on many things, I admire her integrity, love of her parents (particularly her dad), her family, and demonstrated fidelity to the US Constitution.

However, her dad was a part of the administration that Nobel laureate Dr. Stiglitz discusses in his Vanity Fair article. It was her dad who, instead of searching for a VP candidate, nominated himself. It was her dad who championed the disastrous war in Iraq, a country that did not attack us on September 11, 2001. He didn’t just “sex up” the intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; he lied. That license led to thousands of Iraqis killed and the fertile ground from which sprang Al-Qaeda in Iraq, followed by ISIS. That license led to pathological licentiousness to lie more than 30,000 times in a four-year presidential term. “Deficits don’t matter” leads to truth not mattering—Post hoc ergo proctor hoc.

It was her dad who said:

“You know, Paul, Reagan proved deficits don’t matter,” he said, according to excerpts. Cheney continued: “We won the midterms [congressional elections]. This is our due.” A month later, in December 2002, Cheney told the Treasury secretary he was fired.

O’Neill says Cheney told him, `Deficits don’t matter,’ Chicago Tribune, January 12, 2004

I remember reading this on my Kindle: The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill, Ron Suskind. For Liz’s dad, deficits didn’t matter. That drove the drunken stupor of tax cuts that led to the cliff we almost fell off in 2008. There was a real crisis when the Obama-Biden administration took office after the financial crash spawned by the “deficits don’t matter” philosophy.

Wall Street was, of course, bailed out over Main Street. COVID bailouts benefitted the rich. That’s why Wall Street is more than willing to do it again. Until we see some CEOs and Hedge Fund Managers frog-marched in shackles, what onus stops them?

The Dow Jones hit a record 37,000+ Thursday. Yet, we’re into how we “feel” about the economy. I don’t think it’s “feelings.”

Inflation soared across the globe last year, peaking near 11% in the eurozone and above 9% in the US.

The source of that high inflation has become a well-trodden line. Analysts have typically laid the blame on supply-chain bottlenecks created by excess demand during the COVID-19 pandemic and exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The war also increased energy prices, leading to further rises in inflation as suppliers factored in higher transport and running costs.

While this contributed to rising prices, the report finds that company profits increased at a much faster rate than costs did, in a process often dubbed “greedflation.”

Profits for companies in some of the world’s largest economies rose by 30% between 2019 and 2022, significantly outpacing inflation, according to the group’s research of 1,350 firms across the US, the UK, Europe, Brazil, and South Africa.

The biggest perpetrators were energy companies like Shell, Exxon Mobil, and Chevron, which were able to enjoy massive profits last year as demand moved away from Russian oil and gas.

A June study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) found that 45% of eurozone inflation in 2022 could be attributed to domestic profits. Companies in a position to benefit most from higher commodity prices and supply-demand mismatches raised their profits by the most, the study found.

CEOs of the world’s biggest companies consistently sounded the alarm on inflation as a significant barrier to growth. Many blamed rising input costs on their own price hikes. However, lots of those CEOs appear to have instead used the panic of rising costs to pump up their balance sheet.

The biggest study of ‘greedflation’ yet looked at 1,300 corporations to find many of them were lying to you about inflation, Ryan Hogg, Yahoo Finance, December 8, 2023

In essence, gaslighting is the psychological manipulation of a person, usually over an extended period of time, that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator—the act or practice of grossly misleading someone, especially for one’s own advantage. Election season can create emotions spanning from immense anxiety all the way to extreme apathy. The public arguing, divisiveness, and competition for votes, including political gaslighting, can be overwhelming and exhausting.—Vernita Perkins and Leonard A. Jason, Merriam-Webster.

Political gaslighting has one objective: to undermine the truth, or more accurately, to undermine objective truth.

“Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.” Winston Smith, in “1984” by George Orwell. Under torture, O’Brien makes Winston say he sees five fingers when O’Brien is holding up four. The Party was the arbiter of truth, and “truth” was whatever the Party or O’Brien said it was.

“There are FOUR lights!” Jean Luc Picard shouted defiantly under torture by Gul Madred in Star Trek: The Next Generation: “Chain of Command, part II.”

There are strategies to combat gaslighting. Despair can be debilitating and a self-fulfilling prophecy if the worst possible outcome that you can think of happens.

The best strategy I know to combat despair is to work on a campaign that you’re passionate about. In 2012, it didn’t look like Barack Obama and Joe Biden would get re-elected against Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan (former Speaker of the House - remember him?). My wife and I volunteered to call from the campaign office of Sean Patrick Maloney, who we had never heard of. He won and became our Congressman as long as we lived in New York. He sadly lost his seat when congressional districts were redrawn, so he was competing for the same votes as another Democrat.

The best weapon against gaslighting is truth.

Liz Cheney is telling the truth and bringing receipts—truth matters.

She quotes her dad on the second CD, who admonished her to “save the republic, daughter,” missing the irony his “deficits don’t matter” rhetoric spawned what we’re all living through.

Take heart. Tell the truth. Truth matters in the face of lies. Grind it out next year and vote.

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Power and Resources...

 

 

 

French economist Thomas Piketty compares the US economy to Europe in the Gilded Age. Oregon Live, 2014

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Climate Change, Democracy, Existentialism, Fascism

 

Thomas Piketty wrote "Capital in the 21st Century" in 2013 centered on the wealth inequality we can see all around us. I can see more house-less citizens on the streets of North Carolina and Texas (on a recent visit) than I can remember from my youth because back then, we didn't have 8 billion inhabitants on the planet. There is a documentary of the same title on Amazon Prime video. The premise is ominous, and it bears witness to the stress that our world system is undergoing.

 

Dr. Piketty suggests that the rise of fascism around the world is because of income inequality. The climate crisis only exacerbates the supply chain, as thousand-year weather events are now more frequent than we would like.

 

Fascism is on the rise globally, but it is for lazy people. Propping up a so-called "strongman" gives a fall guy: if he (usually a "he") is right, he gets all the praise. If he's wrong, there can be one of two reactions: a coup (a coup, political, physical, or both is usually how they came to power in the first place), or a flaccid, impotent collective powerless shrug by the populace. So-called "strongmen" (an ever-oxymoron) are preferred when there is uncertainty, supplies are scarce, and people are fleeing wars, biblical tsunamis, and isolated by pandemics. When people are afraid, they are ripe for conmen and charlatans who will "fix" what is wrong and reflect back to halcyon days that never existed.

 

Democracy requires a shared reality, upon which sides debate and come to a consensus for the betterment of the electorate. Consensus means that you and your side won't get your "laundry list" after laying out your arguments, at least in that particular debate. It requires compromise and logic to be successful. It also helps that you are sane.

 

Whether you set your government framework on capitalism, communism, republicanism, or socialism, the divine right of kings, each has a hierarchy decided long ago of those who deserve the wealth and riches, and those pariahs at the base of the pyramid that do not.

 

Russian aggression in Ukraine, Hamas attacks in Israel; and Somali refugees in Europe are all because we are on the same volume of a planet that existed 43 years ago when we were only 4.4 billion people, and the American military after Vietnam was licking its wounds, reframing around an "all-volunteer force." The Soviet Union still existed as an existential boogie-man. Now, that remnant interferes in democratic elections worldwide, because the notion of participation in a stable world order is anathema to a kleptocracy.

 

Modern-day robber barons are no different than their ancestors, who met untimely ends in the French Revolution. Since we fought a Revolutionary War to depart the authoritarian crown of King George, the word sounds adventurous, avant-garde; "cool." Revolutions are bloody, and they aren't always for noble reasons.

 

"We tolerate no one in our ranks who attacks the ideas of Christianity. Our movement is Christian." Adolph Hitler, 1928, Snopes

 

The current status quo is unsustainable. We can't keep siphoning up ("trickledown" is gaslighting) tax breaks to American oligarchs and tax shelters in America and Europe for Russian oligarchs. It is thermodynamically impossible to "consume our way to utopia," and colonizing Mars is a pipedream by Elmo Musk, whose plan to terraform the Red Planet is impractical, impossible, unworkable, and dangerous. I'm not against space exploration. Far from it. Seeing the runaway Greenhouse Gas Emissions on Venus informed our models on Earth. Mars at one time probably had an atmosphere, water, and life about four billion years ago. The point is, the planet doesn't have either now, and the closest planet to terraform is right under our feet, without a requirement of VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing), rockets, or superluminal star drives. It merely requires something we should have learned to do in kindergarten: sharing resources with one another for the "common good" of continuance.

 

Cooperation is survival. Hoarding is death.

 

“Last year, I had a life-changing experience at 90 years old. I went to space, after decades of playing an iconic science-fiction character who was exploring the universe. I thought I would experience a deep connection with the immensity around us, a deep call for endless exploration.

 

"I was absolutely wrong. The strongest feeling, that dominated everything else by far, was the deepest grief that I had ever experienced.

 

"I understood, in the clearest possible way, that we were living on a tiny oasis of life, surrounded by an immensity of death. I didn’t see infinite possibilities of worlds to explore, adventures to have, or living creatures to connect with. I saw the deepest darkness I could have ever imagined, contrasting so starkly with the welcoming warmth of our nurturing home planet.

 

"This was an immensely powerful awakening for me. It filled me with sadness. I realized that we had spent decades, if not centuries, being obsessed with looking away, with looking outside. I did my share in popularizing the idea that space was the final frontier. But I had to get to space to understand that Earth is and will stay our only home. And that we have been ravaging it, relentlessly, making it uninhabitable."
-- William Shatner, actor

 

Credit goes to the respective owners.
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A Cult of Ignorance...

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Asimov image: https://karsh.org/isaac-asimov/

 

Sagan image: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0755981/

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Climate Change, Democracy, Existentialism

 

Note: The Nobel Prize will be awarded starting Monday in Physiology, then Physics (my admitted favorite), Chemistry, Literature, Peace, and Economics the following Monday. Thus, the concentration of the postings will be Nobel as they post. I will be “nerding out.”

 

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding [its way] through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

 

Isaac Asimov

 

This is an often-used quote for memes from a longer essay by Isaac Asimov, who was at the time a professor of biochemistry at Boston University and the author of 212 books of science and science fiction (an interesting “side hustle”). I provided the link above and below, highlighted with his name. Dr. Asimov had much to say about the state of affairs as he saw it during my freshman year at North Carolina A&T State University in 1980. It was also the year the New York Times reported more black males in college than in the prison industrial complex. It was an election year and the year for the inaugural of 24-hour news media in Ted Turner’s Cable News Network (CNN), which birthed copycats Fox and MSNBC in 1996. It’s hard to imagine that before Ted’s innovation, television wasn’t a profit-making enterprise as much as a public service. Pundits didn’t wear their party affiliations on their sleeves or give “opinions” on the “news.” Mostly, they did not lie to their audiences to goose ratings either.

 

Asimov’s poignant observation of the phrase “Don’t trust anyone over 30” had to morph to “Don’t trust the experts” since Neverland never existed. The Second Law of Thermodynamics (the “arrow of time”) does, and did, meaning that those who gave that warning eventually would be untrustworthy after the “big 3-0.” Therefore, “Don’t trust the experts” became the foundation for railing against elites, which means anyone who goes to a library, pursues an education up to a terminal degree, or reads a book.

 

Experts created the Internet. Experts like “Hidden Figures” Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan enabled the United States to get to the Moon (there would be no “SpaceX” without them). Experts like Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett were one of many who helped to create the mRNA technology for the vaccines used to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

But “Don’t trust the experts,” a vapid slogan or talking point if there ever was one.

 

Sloganeering in the Cambridge Dictionary has a succinct and to-the-point definition: “trying to persuade people by repeating phrases instead of explaining your ideas.” It means the absence of an argument. Thus, there is a deliberate absence and avoidance of thinking or outlining to formulate a cogent framework, relying on volume and repetition so that others will begin following your “lead” from the sheer exhaustion of gaslighting.

 

*****

 

“I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…

 

The dumbing down of Americans is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30-second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.”
Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

 

*****

 

Dr. Sagan published these words in 1995. Both authors’ works are still available years after their deaths.

 

Celebrating ignorance invariably leads to a cult of ignorance.

 

It is a cult of ignorance when expertise is assailed as bullying.

 

It is a cult of ignorance when your side can’t admit to losing the Civil War or a presidential election.

 

It is a cult of ignorance when Dr. Fauci, Senator Romney, the FBI, the CDC, elected officials, and VOLUNTEER election workers must shell out dollars to protect their families from raving lunatics who believe every conspiracy tall tale printed, uttered, tweeted, or truth-ed.

 

Source material: Cult of Ignorance

 

Climate scientists are experts, yet they cannot be believed if the stupefying mantra is to be obeyed. The war against experts has always baffled me. No couple during Braxton Hicks contractions wants an Appalachian folk medicine doctor like Granny from the “Beverly Hillbillies” applying moonshine and a hacksaw or Norm, the mailman from the sitcom “Cheers” to start spitballing and wing it through the full delivery.

 

But, “it’s the weather,” following the “Don’t trust the experts” mantra, despite new Hurricane Katrinas repeated since 2005 across the globe, fire seasons in California and Canada, and women never having complications from ectopic pregnancies, high blood pressure, depression, stillbirths that need intervention by what is now illegal in most neo-confederate states (“conservative” they are not) because of the “sanctity of life” until the children are old enough to be lead-sprayed by psychopaths. Because in terms of climate, some wish to induce the apocalypse, and because in terms of bodily autonomy, the stork brings all babies alive and well as requested to cisgender parents, and no “others.”

 

*****

 

I contend that the slogan “America’s right to know” is [a] meaningless one when we have an ignorant population and that the function of a free press is virtually zero when hardly anyone can read.

 

What shall we do about it?

 

We might begin by asking ourselves whether ignorance is so wonderful after all and whether it makes sense to denounce “elitism.”

 

I believe that every human being with a physically normal brain can learn a great deal and be surprisingly intellectual. I believe that what we badly need is [a] social approval of learning and social rewards for learning.

 

We can all be members of the intellectual elite, and then, will a phrase like “America’s right to know” and, indeed, any true concept of democracy have any meaning.

 

Isaac Asimov

 

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Cloth Diapers...

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Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Democracy, Existentialism, Fascism

 

This essay is derived from a creative work of the same title, posted on my poetry blog Monday.

 

Happy birthday, mom. I miss you.

 

Sixty years ago, you were thirty-eight years old. I was one year, one month, and one day old. I was apparently potty-trained, which I didn't know until my big sister told me after I bragged that my granddaughter, your great-granddaughter, was potty-trained at two.

 

"We had cloth diapers back then. No one was playing with you, Reggie."

 

I took this to mean the task of changing cloth diapers, flushing the load, and WASHING them was probably unpleasant. It also subtly suggests that disposable diapers stifle our development.

 

Twenty-two years ago this past Monday, a Saudi Sheik, Osama Bin Ladin, trained by the CIA when he was in the Mujahadeen, fighting a proxy war with Russia in Afghanistan, convinced 19 hijackers, 15 from his nation, to plunge top-filled planes into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon: Flight 93 was supposed to hit the Capitol, except for the passengers who decided to intervene, "let's roll." 3,000+ people died. The nation was terrorized.

 

On your birthday, four little black girls were murdered for the crime of singing in a choir, or, correction, PRACTICING to sing in a choir for a performance. It happened on your thirty-eighth birthday. It was a Sunday.

 

Monday, you and Pop had to go to work like it was "normal." Violence has been normal for African Americans since the 13th Amendment ended enslavement (EXCEPT as a punishment for a crime: "wiggle room" that has been abused), the 14th gave us birthright citizenship, and the 15th gave at least our men, the right to vote. That was immediately thwarted in the aftermath of the antebellum South by naming the number of coins/marbles/soap bubbles in a bottle, poll taxes, tests to recite The Constitution (when civics knowledge for the average citizen - then, and now - would likely fail miserably).

 

You both had to drop me off at the sitter and hope to see me alive again and pretend, like every black person at the time, that this was "normal."

 

"Two medical professionals, Dr. Elizabeth H. Blackburn and Dr. Carol W. Greider,
Shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine with Dr. Jack W. Szostak in 2009 "for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase."

 

"The long, thread-like DNA molecules that carry our genes are packed into chromosomes, the telomeres being the caps on their ends. Elizabeth Blackburn and Jack Szostak discovered that a unique DNA sequence in the telomeres protects the chromosomes from degradation. Carol Greider and Elizabeth Blackburn identified telomerase, the enzyme that makes telomere DNA. These discoveries explained how the ends of the chromosomes are protected by the telomeres and that they are built by telomerase.

"If the telomeres are shortened, cells age. Conversely, if telomerase activity is high, telomere length is maintained, and cellular senescence is delayed."

Source: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2009/

 

Telomeres are shorter for African Americans, a byproduct of 400 years of racial terrorism.

 

We were, and are, terrorized for being human, for wanting what's in The Constitution, for exercising our birthright citizenship. They want to take that away, too., for undocumented immigrants, then probably selective brown people who won't vote for them. The Growth and Opportunity Project said they should reach out to African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, the LGBT, Women, and Youth to expand the party. They instead engage in "culture wars" that are silly, like fighting the banning of gas stoves (there isn't one), the replacement of incandescent lights with more climate-friendly fluorescent or LED lights, and somehow, it's outrageous to suggest limiting beer consumption (no one did).

 

I'm tired, momma.

 

September 11, 2001, Pop had been dead for two years. The boys were in fourth grade and college. They had questions. I had no answers, and I wanted to talk to Pop, but I couldn't. Now I can't talk to you.

 

As Americans finally experienced, on September 11, 2001, the psychological effects of the horrific fear of not knowing what calamity would end your existence.

 

Living in fear of being killed for the "sin" of being alive shortens your telomeres.

 

As my big sister observed:
This country needs more cloth diapers for our development.

 

Happy Heavenly birthday, momma. I miss you. Love, "Stink."

 

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60 Years Ago Tomorrow...

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Source: March on Washington, History dot com editors

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Democracy, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

 

Sixty years ago tomorrow, two dear friends turned a year old, and ten years old. Sixty years ago tomorrow, I was a year, and 12 days old. The March on Washington happened on the eighth anniversary of the terrorism and slaying of Emmett Till, August 28, 1955, the actual date of original march August 28, 1963, this coming Monday. The demonstrators asked for a form of reparations that would come in the Civil Rights Bill in 1964 the next year, the Voting Rights Bill in 1965, and the Fair Housing Act in 1968. Dr. King, in a recording before the march opined that "we were coming to get our check." There were celebrities like Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Marlon Brando, and future politicos (on opposite sides now) Nancy Pelosi, and Mitch McConnell. The march was a sea of "diversity, equity (sought) and inclusion (goaled for)" in that there were African Americans, white Americans, Jews, women and other minority groups on the Washington Mall. It was the "future and the hope" Gene Roddenberry and Lucille Ball launched Star Trek from. In two hundred years, we will have to get something right about living together.

 

At the original march, there were very few, if any, women allowed on the platform, John Lewis and Dr. King being the most famously remembered, as the Civil Rights Movement had a notable flaw: it was misogynist to its core. A lot of work behind the scenes, the arrests, the enduring of fire hoses was done by women like my big sister, heretofore unacknowledged. The hierarchy the then young people were marching against was a justification for those who "had," and those who "had not," but that did not let women at Langston's table yet. This stratification is a competition for resources, and those who have had the resources are never eager to part with or share them, even if it insures species survival. It makes "trickledown" a gaslighting myth, as any distribution, regardless of speed, is anathema to the system.

 

Tomorrow, there will be a commemorative march populated by the "least of these": African Americans, Asians, Hispanic/Latinos, LGBTQ, Women: all whose constitutional rights as citizens and EXISTENCE as humanity has been challenged since August 28, 1963. There has been a sustained assault by the ones who have benefited the most from the hierarchy that established Levittown's that are more economically segregated (de facto) than de jure (by law). No one has to burn crosses on your front lawn if you can't afford to live there. All of the aforementioned groups have seen the Voting Rights Act gutted, Roe vs. Wade eliminated, bodily autonomy and privacy of what we as citizens do at home in our bedrooms, down to contraception itself for the same reason: the hoarding of resources by those who consider themselves "worthy" so long as they have pariahs' necks to stamp.

 

The world population in 1963 was estimated at 3,195,779,247.

 

The world population in 2023 is estimated at 8,045,311,447.

 

Source: https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/WLD/world/population

 

Generation X was born between 1965 and 1980. Millennials from 1981 to 1996. Generation Z from 1996 (overlap) to 2012, and my granddaughter is "Generation Alpha" from 2013 to 2025. Source: https://caregiversofamerica.com/2022-generation-names-explained/

 

The globe hasn't gotten bigger, and Zephram Cochrane hasn't cracked the warp drive code (note: in the fictional Trek universe, he isn't born until the 2030s).

 

The world population is projected to reach 8.5 billion in 2030, and to increase further to 9.7 billion in 2050 and 10.4 billion by 2100. As with any type of projection, there is a degree of uncertainty surrounding these latest population projections. United Nations

 *****

Broadly defined, ecofascism is any environmentalism that advocates or accepts violence and does so in a way that reinforces existing systems of inequality or targets certain people while leaving others untouched. It is basically environmentalism that suggests that certain people are naturally and exclusively entitled to control and enjoy environmental resources. Some types of people, in other words, are “native species” and others are “invasive.”

 

The term itself is still very much up for debate but gathering currency largely due to high-profile individuals who have explicitly identified themselves as ecofascist. An example includes the man who murdered 51 People in a Christchurch, New Zealand, mosque in 2019. The El Paso, Texas, shooter, also in 2019, did not refer to himself as an ecofascist, but he plagiarized the Christchurch shooter’s manifesto, including many of its bogus arguments about race, nation, and environment. More recently, as you mentioned, another young man drove several hours to Buffalo, New York, where he targeted Black grocery shoppers.

 

A common ecofascist argument, then, links national environment to population, contending that certain (often specifically nonwhite) populations, within the US or beyond it, are the primary cause of climate change and other environmental issues.

 

A Darker Shade of Green: Understanding Ecofascism, September 7, 2022 | Elaina Hancock - UConn Communications

 

I would also call this "eco-eugenics."

 

Environment. Levittown. Wealth. Population. All determined by a sick, psychopathy. Divided like a pie on the table of the depraved, in this case, the pariah Lazarus, and his kin get no crumbs from the Koinonia table. When you found a nation on the land grab and murder of its indigenous inhabitants, from Columbus to "Manifest Destiny," when you cultivate and build your wealth on the backs of kidnapped enslaved people from the continent that BIRTHED humanity, the only way you can maintain such a system that would make Alfred Hitchcock BLUSH is through the application of unmerciful violence. "Christian nation" and "United States" become a form of delusion and self-gaslighting. You might have to ban a few books to keep up the façade. Burning them would be too obvious.

 

I don't know what the world will be in 200 years, just like I don't know if a Zephram Cochrane will ever exist, but I hope for my "little one's" sake in six decades, it is still here, balanced on indigenous sensibilities with the environment, more egalitarian, and less authoritarian, the inequity quelled and every stomach filled, including hers, sixty years from now. She will be a little older than me, hopefully in a better world that I helped form.

 

2083: 10,427,226,400, Source: World Population Projections

 

"When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten and the last stream poisoned, you will realize that you cannot eat money." Cree Tribal Prophesy

 

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Cartoon Network...

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Mick Fleetwood's Maui Restaurant destroyed in Maui fire. Allison Rapp, Ultimate Classic Rock

Topics: Battery, Chemistry, Civics, Civilization, Climate Change, Democracy, Existentialism

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The Herculoids were a Hanna-Barbara cartoon that only ran for two seasons, from 1967 to 1969. From ages five to seven, I didn't demand much from my Saturday morning viewing pleasure: good guys, bad guys, action, good guys pummel bad guys, in this case, casting them off the planet. We landed on the Moon in their last year of air (it's a shame that history is now controversial). Dr. King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated In Medias Res. My understanding of Physics and STEM came much later.

Zandor, Tara, and Domo were the human protagonists defending planet "Amzot" (the writers threw spaghetti at the wall on this name). In a tepid reboot, they called it Quasar, a little more astrophysical but nonetheless kooky. They had a laser ray dragon (Zot), a rock ape (Igo), and a ten-legged rhino/triceratops hybrid that shot energy rocks from his snout (Tondro, the Terrific, because, yeah). Gloop and Gleep were human-sized, protoplasmic creatures called "the formless, fearless wonders," with eyes, and Gleep, was somehow the "son" of Gloop, without genitalia or gender (go with the bit?). The humans also shot energy rocks from slingshots at the foes too dumb to leave Zandor and his jungle planet alone. If the rocks were made of Lithium, they shouldn't have lasted too long: one of its properties is its volatility in oxygenated atmospheres.

In 1967, I would have been five years old and not too demanding of my visual entertainment on Saturday Morning Cartoons, as this old form pastime was called.

Taking a few courses in Physics drives a probing question and observation:

 

Where were the flocks of laser ray dragons, the congress of rock apes, the herds of rhino/triceratops hybrids, and what marshy bog did the "formless, fearless wonders" ascend from? It seemed Zot, Igo, Tondro, Gloop, and Gleep were the only ones of their kind.

In "Sarko: The Arkman," Sarko kidnaps Domo, Igo, and Tondro for his "collection" on another planet. Zandor rides Zot with Gloop to ANOTHER PLANET without the need of a spaceship, escape velocity, pressurized spacesuits, protection from radiation, or the friction of reentry to Sarko's world. Even if the planet was in the same orbital plane as Amzot, it didn't appear to take him long, and he wasn't bruised by a single meteor during the trip nor tanned from radiation burns (or dead). Gleep clones five copies of himself to protect Tara then turns up in a scene making himself a pillow on Sarko's world to catch Domo. Zot flew escort to Sarko's ship on the way back to Amzot again, with no loss of life. Did you follow all that?

Five-year-olds don't need Physics lessons, just a simple plot, a lot of action, and taking care of "evil-doers" before you play outside after Saturday cartoons.

It's magical thinking, but not a way to run human society.

 

"The human understanding is no dry light but receives an infusion from the will and affections; whence proceed sciences which may be called 'sciences as one would.' For what a man had rather were true, he more readily believes. Therefore, he rejects difficult things from impatience of research; sober things because they narrow hope; the deeper things of nature, from superstition; the light of experience, from arrogance and pride; things not commonly believed, out of the deference to the opinion of the vulgar. Numberless, in short, are the ways, and sometimes imperceptible, in which the affections color and infect the understanding."

Sir Francis Bacon, NOVUM ORGANON (1620)

 

Maui is a dystopian hellscape. It is now the deadliest wildfire in American history: until the next one. Reuters reports the cause of the fire is unknown, but 85% of all wildfires are caused by humans, as is the anthropogenic climate disruption that helped light the match. Hurricane Dora energized the spread, fanning the flames across the island that was experiencing a drought. Part of Maui's problem is prior to the predictions of climate scientists coming true in recent real-time, Maui never had to prepare for drought conditions or massive wildfires. Did I mention the island chain is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean?

Maui was the Capitol of the old kingdom of Hawaii before colonization. It was a tourist attraction and the seat of culture. Maui is the place where the Hula dance and the Samoan language were reconstituted and practiced. A 150-year-old banyan tree burned in the flames. It will survive IF the roots survived the savage flames.

 

"Some 271 structures were destroyed or damaged, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser said, citing official reports from the U.S. Civil Air Patrol and Maui Fire Department." Reuters

 

There is a throughline from Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Hurricane Dora in Maui. That throughline is climate change, gestated into the climate crisis, birthed into climate catastrophe. In eighteen years, we have shuffled, obfuscated, and kicked the can down the road right into our children's and grandchildren's future. We have allowed political operators and lobbyists for the fossil fuels industry to quote their "science as one would": "It's summer." "There is no climate change." "It's a (fill in the blank) hoax." "How can there be global warming if New York is blanketed in snow?"

The tobacco and fossil fuels industry used the same researchers and same lawyers to sway public opinion and sell their products. It is a myopic concentration on quarterly profits, not looking at the damage to the planet beneath them going forward. If Adam Smith's capitalism is our "salvation," there should be market-based solutions to ensure a functional civilization as corporations pursue profits and bought and paid-for politicians pursue policies that sustain both commerce and civilization.

Otherwise, their vulgar opinions have not offered solutions nor modeled societal collapse.

The Guardian reported from the National Academy of Science that more than 50% of life is in the soil beneath us. Life on Earth may survive our own hubris. It likely won't be intelligent or anything resembling human civilization.

Cartoon Network Physics is only good for five-year-olds on Saturday morning cartoons. There are no laser dragons, rock apes, rhino/triceratops-hybrids, and energy rocks to deploy to our rescue. It fails humanity in the long term. "Sciences as one would" has led us to this precipice. "Sciences as one acknowledges" will lead us away from it.

Note: The blog will resume Monday - Friday postings on August 21st (traveling for work).

 

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Change, Crisis, Catastrophe...

 

Topics: Civilization, Climate Change, Democracy, Existentialism, Global Warming

In my post on Friday, two weeks ago, I compared the Earth to a plastic or glass bottle in a microwave. Of course, YouTube has an example of someone not taking Thermodynamics seriously. After a LONG two minutes and some change, the explosion is a sad but apt metaphor for the climate change that we have allowed to become a crisis, barreling forward into a full-blown catastrophe. It’s dystopian what’s going on. A short list:

In Italy, they’re discussing “underground climate change” as the summer is so hot it melted the insulation on their power grid underground. They’re also evacuating for wildfires.

If you fall on the pavement in Phoenix, Arizona, you’re taken to the burn unit, as asphalt in Arizona has been measured at 180-degree temperatures. Well, it's below boiling.

Off the coast of climate change-denying Florida, the ocean temperatures are 101.4 degrees Fahrenheit, balmy for a jacuzzi but catastrophic for coral that acts as a natural barrier to hurricanes and “us,” as it is in our food chain. Their death is the bellwether of coming food shortages, which of course, usually precipitates armed conflicts, either internal or international.

At the behest of a classmate from NC A&T, my wife and I attended her family reunion in Fayetteville, NC, a week and weekend before my family reunion in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The similarities I recall were striking (they’ll make sense as to how this relates to our current situation):

Good food! African American Family Reunions are legendary for spreading food, including fried chicken, baked beans, homemade macaroni and cheese, and potato salad.

Fellowship. I saw cousins I hadn’t seen in years. I did a “paint and sip” party, where I hadn’t painted ANYTHING in decades. It was a cathartic activity led by a therapy artist for people suffering from mental health crises like PTSD.

The purpose of the business meeting, in my friend’s and my family’s case, was the discussion where to have the NEXT family reunion. For my family, 2025 will be in California (Columbia, SC as a backup), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 2027, and Greensboro, NC, in 2029.

In each case, planning for the NEXT family reunions assumes we have a functional planet to plan and experience them on.

Mathematics is said to be applied philosophy, physics applied mathematics, and engineering applied physics.

In America, policy is applied physics coupled with political realities.

Currently, in certain democracies, we have parties that concede to the reality of climate change and those obliged to the Fossil Fuels Industry, which is likely the most destructive industry, only second to military contractors.

Fossil Fuels has known about the effects of their product since the late seventies when I was in high school. They hired the same lawyers who obfuscated the effects of cigarette smoking, enabled by spineless politicians who themselves, like drug dealers, weren’t smokers. The body count rivals the holocaust.

That body count was in the millions of humans volunteering to pollute their bodies. The coming body count will number in the hundreds of millions of climate refugees fleeing from coastal cities and the house-less dying from heat exhaustion.

The hoarding of wealth does not consume me, which is the basis of our current crisis: industries and individuals who are too selfish to think beyond the current business quarter and the next quarter. That’s the span of their attention, and the only thing that will spark their attention is if any action they take is profitable and they can avoid paying taxes that help the rest of humanity they’re a part of.

What is happening astonishes climate scientists. This dystopian hellscape was to occur in the year 2050: a twenty-seven-year acceleration.

Part of planning family reunions is the notion that there is a future and a hope to have children and add to the legacy of families.

Millennials and GEN Z are starting out living longer with their parents than previous generations, not purchasing their first home, not attending worship services, delaying or opting to NOT have children because they’re bereft of a future, or hope, stolen from them by a generation in its twilight, that doesn’t care about the wanton destruction they leave in the wake of their grandchildren due to mental depravity and greed.

“People with hoarding disorder have persistent difficulty getting rid of or parting with possessions due to a perceived need to save the items. Attempts to part with possessions create considerable distress and lead to decisions to save them. The resulting clutter disrupts the ability to use living spaces (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).”

Source: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/hoarding-disorder/what-is-hoarding-disorder#:~:text=People%20with%20hoarding%20disorder%20have,to%20decisions%20to%20save%20them.

If you’re not used to sharing, you’re likely to use phrases like “socialism” and “communism” (or woke) when the fact is, you don’t care about anyone or anything other than yourself. This self-absorption will only buy them a few weeks at best after a full societal collapse. At that point, “billionaire” and “millionaire” are irrelevant titles with no places to spend.

Part of planning family reunions is the notion that there is a future and a hope to have children and add to the legacy of families.

Because of the avarice of evil men (mostly), I’m starting to have my doubts.

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Megalomania...

You’re going to have to pay me… One Billion Dollars! … Sorry, One Hundred Billion Dollars! Photo: Warner Bros; Getty Images, Jonathan Chait, NY Mag, March 8, 2018

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Climate Change, Democracy, Diversity in Science, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights, Women in Science

Megalomania: a mania for great or grandiose performance; a delusional mental illness that is marked by feelings of personal omnipotence and grandeur

Narcissistic Personality Disorder: a personality disorder characterized especially by an exaggerated sense of self-importance, persistent need for admiration, lack of empathy for others, excessive pride in achievements, and snobbish, disdainful, or patronizing attitudes 

Useful Idiot: a naive or credulous person who can be manipulated or exploited to advance a cause or political agenda. E.g., It is one task of the KGB [in 1982] to apply its skills of secrecy and deception to projecting the Soviet party's influence. This it does through contacts with legal Communist Parties abroad, with groups sympathetic to Soviet goals, with do-gooders of the type that Lenin once described as "useful idiots" ….

—The Wall Street Journal, all the above from Merriam-Webster.com

Are we suffering from mass psychosis? Does it explain January 6, 2021, and the insanity that has descended from it? Was a substantial fraction of our nation led astray by a megalomaniacal, narcissistic useful idiot?

"A flood of negative emotions" is the business model of a lot of news outlets on the right. Determined to regain the audience lost after the Dominion settlement, Jesse Watters succeeds Tucker Carlson at the 8:00 hour, launching into a racist diatribe against the 44th president because they have to get their viewers back to repocket the $787.5 million dollars they had to pay out. Jesse, the "stable genius," forgot that Hawaii is our 50th state, but that occurred almost immediately after November 4, 2008.

When I was a senior in high school, 150 businesses owned everything we saw in print, on television, and heard on AM or FM radio. Now, with the expansion of the Internet, that ratio reduced EXPONENTIALLY to six corporations. With the expansion of the Internet, propaganda can be projected without a filter. Hitler deftly used radio to reach his masses, our current demagogue used Twitter until he was kicked off, and he was so devoted to this avenue he had to generate a knockoff to continue the conversation with his cult. Megalomaniacs never had it so good.

"Dr. Evil" was the antagonist in the Bond derivative "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" and its natural sequel, "The Spy Who Shagged Me." It's the type of flippant character that makes "team normal" think that no one could possibly be that over-the-top. Then, the year 2016 said, "Hold my beer."

Menticide: a systematic and intentional undermining of a person's conscious mind: BRAINWASHING - Merrian-Webster.com

Ms. Senko’s groundbreaking film examines the rise of right-wing media through the lens of her father, whose immersion in its daily propaganda had radicalized him. His new fanaticism rocked the very foundation of their family. She discovered that this phenomenon was occurring with alarming frequency in living rooms across America. The film reveals the consequences that this radicalized media is having on people, families, America, and the world.

The Brainwashing of My Dad (2015)

Rush Limbaugh, of stogies, four traditional marriages (I guess he needed practice?), bombast and blatant racism (I guess why Clarence Thomas liked him?), was the Grand Pooh-Bah/Grand Dragon of an echo chamber that still persists long after his transition. Under the attack of menticide, 24/7 fearmongering on "the border," "CRT," "DEI," "Immigrants," "LGBT," "People of Color," and "Women with bodily autonomy" are the substitutes for "young bucks," "welfare queens," and "Barack the Magic Negro." Rush and his Zombie clones are ginning up fear on a regular basis, hacking everyone's reptilian brain stem made into mountains of gold and an unstable society. There must always be enemies for those who fear change and shadows.

At its core, this is about resources. Resources are subdivided by hierarchies so that certain universities that are "elite" (and beneficiaries of enslaved peoples) are picked first for employment after graduation. Most academic positions at universities seek the same graduates from the same elite PWI schools. Once the dust settles, universities will resegregate, and sadly will Fortune 500 businesses. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion only mattered as slogans to avoid lawsuits post-George Floyd. With the end of Affirmative Action, what holds them accountable if, like campuses, the diversity among the workforce declines? Who would care?

Hierarchies have allowed societies from Egypt to England to rank and rate their populations into the worthy and the unworthy, the Brahmin and the Dalits, and the haves and the have-nots. "Occult" typically refers to magic, but it means hidden, and hiding knowledge is what gives a group self-designated as rulers of the rest their edge. "Conserving" the status quo allows for the continued acquisition of wealth beyond avarice and passing it on to their progeny. That means ignoring inequities, and climate crises, particularly heat waves in Texas's case since most of the workers affected happen to be BIPOC. The "Supreme Court" repealed Roe vs. Wade, Affirmative Action yesterday. What was left untouched: athletic programs, legacy enrollments, the children of employees, and millionaire gifts by benefactors like Fred Trump, that got his stupid son into Penn, and Jared Kushner, who, by his grades, couldn't have gotten into Harvard without daddy-the-jailbird's help. Roe and Affirmative Action were both decided by the Warren Court, an Eisenhower appointee. The Roberts "Court," appointed by "W," who lost the popular vote in 2000, and his Republican successor, who appointed three justices, losing the popular vote in BOTH elections, is determined to repeal the 20th Century and is coming for the 21st in LGBT rights. I use quotes in that the Roberts junta is neither supreme in the practice of law nor a court of jurisprudence. It is the extension of libertarian billionaires, the mythology propagandists of "reverse discrimination," and thus fascistic.

Ayn Rand, for the moment, has won. Welcome to 1953.

This paradigm of looking back to "great again" is unsustainable. We cannot solve income disparities going back to the fifties. No new technical designs will come from the back of the bus. The LGBT will not be returning to the closet to make closeted, cisgender couples feel comfortable in their camouflage bigotry, nor has a single-banned drag show stopped a single gun massacre in America. Women will not be returning to the kitchen and the state of barefoot and pregnant because that idyllic "Leave it to Beaver" Levittown never existed, except in "master-planned communities." Justice Ketanji Brown-Jackson's dissent is poetry.

We're not going back.

We have to figure out climate change, sustainability, and feeding eight billion souls that are growing at an exponential pace that will take us to nine billion in 2037 and ten billion in 2057. I won't be here, but my granddaughter will be. A lot of grandchildren will be. Hoping for starships is like wishing on magic lanterns.

There is no functional analog in nature to a billionaire. Insects run their colonies via pheromones, and the most significant member of the colony is the Queen: males are drones and sperm donors. Patriarchy is a human construct.

The U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) nevertheless estimates that annual investments of $39 billion to $50 billion would be required to achieve a world without hunger by 2030. Source: Brookings Institution.

But they won't. The core of their Hoarding Disorder is maintaining the inequity that puts them at the apex of society's pyramid; they've mistaken a designed system as "natural," making them apex predators. Only the second part is correct.

“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.”

— Nelson Mandela

I'm revamping the SAT program, which ended during the pandemic, for as long as it lasts, with an online component. We'll also discuss strategies to apply to the colleges and universities they desire. The youth are relevant to our shared future and survival.

On a dysfunctional planet, billionaire status is irrelevant.

“Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won; you earn it and win it in every generation.”

— Coretta Scott King

“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

― Thomas Paine, The American Crisis

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Fascism and Laziness...

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Source: Washington Monthly, "The 12 Early Warning Signs of Fascism," Martin Longman, January 31, 2017

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Democracy, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

But beyond him being (obviously) a genocidal maniac, there's an aspect to Hitler's rule that kind of gets missed in our standard view of him. Even if popular culture has long enjoyed turning him into an object of mockery, we still tend to believe that the Nazi machine was ruthlessly efficient and that the great dictator spent most of his time…well, dictating things.

So it's worth remembering that Hitler was actually an incompetent, lazy egomaniac, and his government was an absolute clown show.

In fact, this may even have helped his rise to power, as he was consistently underestimated by the German elite. Before he became chancellor, many of his opponents had dismissed him as a joke for his crude speeches and tacky rallies. Even after elections had made the Nazis the largest party in the Reichstag, people still kept thinking that Hitler was an easy mark, a blustering idiot who could easily be controlled by smart people.

Why did the elites of Germany so consistently underestimate Hitler? Possibly because they weren't actually wrong in their assessment of his competency—they just failed to realize that this wasn't enough to stand in the way of his ambition. As it turns out, Hitler was bad at running a government. As his press chief Otto Dietrich wrote in his memoir The Hitler I Knew, "In the twelve years of his rule in Germany, Hitler produced the biggest confusion in government that has ever existed in a civilized state."

His government was constantly in chaos, with officials having no idea what he wanted them to do, and nobody was entirely clear who was actually in charge of what. He procrastinated wildly when asked to make difficult decisions and would often end up relying on gut feeling, leaving even close allies in the dark about his plans. His "unreliability had those who worked with him pulling out their hair," as his confidant Ernst Hanfstaengl later wrote in his memoir Zwischen Weißem und Braunem Haus. This meant that rather than carrying out the duties of state, they spent most of their time in-fighting and back-stabbing each other in an attempt to either win his approval or avoid his attention altogether, depending on what mood he was in that day.

Hitler Was Incompetent and Lazy—and His Nazi Government Was an Absolute Clown Show | Newsweek Opinion, Tom Phillips

Axios has obtained leaked private schedules of President Donald Trump showing how he’s spent his time over the past three months. According to the leaked schedules, our president has spent 60% of his “working” hours since the midterms in unstructured “Executive Time.”

Executive Time is supposed to consist of time in the Oval Office, but Trump wakes before 6 a.m. and doesn’t leave the residence for five hours. He spends that time, according to Axios, “watching TV, reading the papers, and responding to what he sees and reads by phoning aides, members of Congress, friends, administration officials, and informal advisers.” And, we can safely assume, tweeting like a madman.

Then, usually around 11:00 or 11:30 a.m., the president finally gets off his ass and actually does some work, attending an intelligence briefing with his chief of staff. The idea for Executive Time, which during the three months the leaked schedules totaled 297 hours, came from former chief of staff John Kelly because of Trump’s disdain for regular schedules.

Trump Could Be Our Laziest President Ever, According to Leaked Schedules, Peter Wade, Rolling Stone

Democracies require informed citizens. "Democracies did not originate with the founding of the United States. The term 'democracy' comes from two Greek words: "demos" (the people) and "kratia" (power or authority). So, of course, DEMOCRACY is a form of government that gives power to the people. But how, when, and to which people? The answer to those questions changes through history." See: https://www.ushistory.org/gov/1c.asp

Fascism has a self-built mythology of efficiency that generations of psychopaths have used gaslighting by pamphlet to the Internet to convince rubes and middle-of-the-road citizens that they're "stable geniuses." News flash: They're not.

Fascism as a term didn't come into vogue until Benito Mussolini in Italy. Prior to that, Jim Crow, black codes, and the Confederate South were all the foundations Mussolini based his philosophies on. Nazi Germany based its treatment of the Jews on Jim Crow, American black codes, and the Eugenics movement (which they put on steroids).

Fascism is the parent "ism" of every one of the "isms" that's used to classify, objectify, demoralize, and categorize humans into this unmoveable hierarchy where the fascists/psychopaths have put themselves on the top: 1. They think they deserve it because of some "magical formula" that's varied from "it's God's will" and evolution, post-Darwin, post-Nietzche. The formula is fungible so long as the outcome is the same. 2. The inherent "inferiority" of anyone else who isn't a fascist/psychopath. 3. Anyone with a three-pound functional brain that can read history and reason for themselves is "woke." America had black people. India, under the Caste system, had Dalets: the pariahs, the untouchables. Nazy Germany had Jews. Russia has Ukraine, which at this moment is destroying all of its delusions of superiority.

Fascism puts everything in the lap of the "dear leader." Thus the responsibility for the government running efficiently, or running like a crap show, is the. "dear leader's." That way, when everything GOES to crap, it's the leader's fault, not the citizens. Since he is the source of "truth," they await to hear, by pronouncement, tweet, or "truth social."

“The past was alterable. The past had never been altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.” George Orwell, "1984"

German citizens, post-1945, claimed to "not know" anything about the atrocities. As Dumbo Gambino appears to be careening toward federal indictments, what will be the excuse in a post-MAGA world (if we ever get to a post-MAGA world)?

But since all you have to do to have a democracy is, well, inform your citizens, how would governments distract them?

The IBM Simon was manufactured by Mitsubishi Electric, which integrated features from its own wireless personal digital assistant (PDA) and cellular radio technologies. It featured a liquid-crystal display (LCD) and PC Card support. The Simon was commercially unsuccessful, particularly due to its bulky form factor and limited battery life, using NiCad batteries rather than the nickel–metal hydride batteries commonly used in mobile phones in the 1990s or lithium-ion batteries used in modern smartphones.

The term "smartphone" was not coined until a year after the introduction of the Simon, appearing in print as early as 1995, describing AT&T's PhoneWriter Communicator. The term "smartphone" was first used by Ericsson in 1997 to describe a new device concept, the GS88.

Source: Wikipedia/Smartphone

Abstract

The use of smartphones has been increasing worldwide. Usage of these devices has been associated with addiction and adverse emotional states. This study employs a mixed methods approach to study these relationships in an Australian sample. The study comprised 164 participants aged between 18–70 who completed the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale, the Smartphone Addiction Scale, and the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale. Seven participants were also interviewed, providing answers of a qualitative nature. Smartphone addiction significantly predicted higher levels of smartphone usage. Additionally, smartphone addiction and distractibility also significantly predicted higher levels of stress, depression, and anxiety. Qualitative results identified themes such as convenience, time of the day, and activities in relation to smartphone usage as well as short‐and long‐term effects of this usage. Findings indicated that both distraction and addiction have an influence on the use of smartphones and that increased usage has detrimental consequences for emotional health. Themes such as dependence and temptation, and interferences appear congruent and consistent with the results of the scales used.

Smartphone distraction‐addiction: Examining the relationship between psychosocial variables and patterns of use | Humberto Oraison, Olivia Nash‐Dolby, Bruce Wilson &Ridhi Malhotra, Australian Journal of Psychology, Taylor & Francis Online, 2020

Smartphone addiction, sometimes colloquially known as “nomophobia” (fear of being without a mobile phone), is often fueled by an internet overuse problem or internet addiction disorder. After all, it's rarely the phone or tablet itself that creates the compulsion, but rather the games, apps, and online worlds it connects us to. Health Guide

Democracy requires informed citizens. Fascism requires couch potatoes.

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Threat Assessment...

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Domestic Violent Extremists Will Be Harder to Combat Than Homegrown Jihadists, The Rand Blog

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Democracy, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

Source: https://www.dhs.gov/ntas/advisory/national-terrorism-advisory-system-bulletin-may-24-2023

Summary of Terrorism-Related Threat to the United States

The United States remains in a heightened threat environment. Lone offenders and small groups motivated by a range of ideological beliefs and personal grievances continue to pose a persistent and lethal threat to the Homeland. Both domestic violent extremists (DVEs) and those associated with foreign terrorist organizations continue to attempt to motivate supporters to conduct attacks in the Homeland, including through violent extremist messaging and online calls for violence. In the coming months, factors that could mobilize individuals to commit violence include their perceptions of the 2024 general election cycle and legislative or judicial decisions pertaining to sociopolitical issues. Likely targets of potential violence include US critical infrastructure, faith-based institutions, individuals or events associated with the LGBTQIA+ community, schools, racial and ethnic minorities, and government facilities and personnel, including law enforcement.

Duration

Issued: May 24, 2023, at 2:00 PM ET

Expires: November 24, 2023, at 2:00 PM ET

Roads, bridges, mall outlets, power stations; churches, mosques, synagogues, temples; drag shows, pride parades, nightclubs; K-12, community colleges and universities; every BIPOC, even those like the gunman in Allen, Texas, who was Hispanic and sympathized with white supremacist propaganda enough to kill; the Post Office, Police Departments, the FBI; and where you and I work.

A Big Lie about an election that was lost, not RIGGED, has put a target on all of our backs. Our so-called representatives only offer "thoughts and prayers" after every gun massacre, but will not propose legislation, will not even propose liability insurance, like the kind we have on cars, for the small percentage of us that insists on collecting arsenals. It's as if they WANT this "American carnage" to usher in something darker, like Kristallnacht, like fascism. America was a refuge for Stephen Miller's grandfather and Albert Einstein during the Nazi pogroms. Will Canada be a refuge for American Christian nationalist pogroms?

Here are some thoughts I've been mulling for a while, and I would like to forward them now:

One: Fascism doesn't stop with your favorite "out-group."

I have African American friends in my community that use the Bible to legitimize their bigotry toward LGBTQ+ people. My own epiphany happened during a diversity class in the 1990s when the professor asked one of the attendees a question: "Mr. _______, do you CARE where Mr. ______'s spermatozoa are deposited tonight?"

The second Mr. ______ is me, to whom the blunt and salacious question was directed. The technique was to make the first man think: are you overconcerned with his sexual practices? My oldest son was 11, and my youngest son was 1 at the time. Continuing the thought experiment: Does it matter to your heterosexual relationship? If it does, either you or your wife is closeted. James Baldwin was a close friend of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Lorraine Hansberry, author of "A Raisin in the Sun," was a closeted lesbian due to the times. Pauli Murray was also a closeted lesbian, lawyer, and civil rights activist. Bayard Rustin, a gay man, was one of Dr. King's closest advisors and the chief organizer of the March on Washington in August 1963. See SPLC: Learning for Justice.

Two: Everyone needs a "green book" plan.

My mother graduated from a school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for "Practical Nursing," similar to an Associate's Degree now. She. and my father used a green book, a guide to let them know on long trips where to get gas, where to stop to eat, where to go to the bathroom, and where to sleep. In the 1950s, they NEEDED this to get from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to Philly and BACK. It worked because otherwise, I would not be typing this blog. Our risk is not due to a preponderance of Melanin only. It is all public places now.

Do you speak another language? Is your passport current or expired? Part of our "green book" may be in formulating an exit plan. When all "hell is breaking loose," it's a little late.

Three: The State owning women's bodies is fascism.

The Nazi regime encouraged the birth of children deemed “racially valuable” in order to increase Germany’s “Aryan” population. This campaign closely reflected the regime’s racial ideology and theories of eugenics. The Lebensborn program was designed by the SS to increase Germany’s declining birthrate. It was originally intended to provide pregnant “Aryan” women with financial assistance, adoption services, and a series of private maternity homes where they could give birth. By the end of World War II, Lebensborn became involved in the Nazi regime’s systematic kidnapping of thousands of “biologically valuable” foreign children to be raised in German homes. Source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

In Russia, they are kidnapping Ukrainian children and spiriting them to Moscow. In America, six anti-Christian Mullahs overturned 50 years of precedent to induce forced births because of a demographic that is itself a chimera: if so-called "white" people had its origin in the Bacon's Rebellion of 1681, codified in the first Census of 1790, counting "free whites, all other free persons, and slaves," The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, In barring their immigration to the United States for ten years, all categories of humans in the United States are the product of government fiat to justify hierarchy for the purpose of theft from the masses. Dr. Alan Goodman said, "Race is the power of an illusion." For the Christian nationalists: "And He has made from one BLOOD every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings," Acts 17:26. Therefore, you cannot be "replaced" if you never really existed beyond being a variation of humans. This was the first Big Lie.

Four: Vote early; don't show bumper stickers, flags, or paraphernalia.

In Austin, Texas, during the 2008 elections, a neighbor was such an Obama fan he paid $5,000 for him and his wife to shake the future president's hand. He had as large a banner touting Obama-Biden on his front lawn as our neighbor (nearer me) did for the 2004 election with Bush-Cheney. The Obama-Biden sign was vandalized with the n-word and swastikas; nothing happened to Bush-Cheney (there's a double entendre in there). Ahem: This happened in the waning days of the "compassionate conservatism" era, the gateway drug before Christian nationalism.

It's obvious the incident was instructive to me. I give to the party I see upholding The Constitution, but I don't sport the "swag." Some might derisively call what I'm suggesting "respectability politics." I have called it survival for my many trips around the sun, here billions of years before my birth, and will be here billions more after my death.

I appreciate the Department of Homeland Security's warning, but I've been aware of this extremism since before one of the political parties nominated and elected a demagogue.

I have been on this Earth for sixty-one years. As a black man, I have never felt "free."

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Gaming Apocalypse...

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Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Dark Side, Democracy, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

2 Timothy 3:1 This know also, that in the last days, perilous times shall come.

This is NOT an eschatology blog. The second verse is a common cudgel to the LGBT community, bellowed from the pulpits of soon-discovered closeted pastors. Several laws are passed to ban drag shows, as in North Carolina, but not a peep about gun massacres. Guns with muzzle velocities of 1,006 meters per second, or 3,300 feet per second, eviscerate human flesh to unrecognizability. There were two mass shootings back-to-back in San Antonio, Texas. Merriam-Webster list ominously 66 synonyms for "perilous," some of which are: dangerous, serious, treacherous, unhealthy, grievous: and fatal.

Culture wars are NOT designed to solve anything. They are designed to concern, enrage, and engage the reptilian part of the brain that leaps at every shadow and requires long rifles to go into Starbucks, libraries, or drag shows because of "freedom." Banning books, drag shows, and "woke" are solutions in search of nonexistent problems.

What does a Constitutional Crisis look like? Yesterday, in the Orwellian committee, Jim Jordan ostensibly "leads," is government-paid gaslighting. The whistleblowers brought before the sham committee lost their security clearances, each for a cause. One refused to arrest a January 6th terrorist because he "didn't agree that he should be arrested." Getting fired for cause in at-will states used to be a very Republican viewpoint. The current Congress majority in the House is not Republican.

As Representative Stacey Plaskett, the lawyer Jim Jordan pretends to be pointed out, he and the committee are the 45th president's defense lawyers. His last one quit after dim bulb blurted out in the Cable, Not News fascist rally, “I took the documents; I’m allowed to,” oblivious to the fact every statement, every tweet, every "truth" on his knockoff website is a documented confession. Meanwhile, Jim Jordan screamed like a banshee when Representative Daniel Goldman, another lawyer Jim Jordan is not, read him the House rules on whistleblowers. Jim has a Juris Doctorate but never took the bar. It shows. He would have to study instead of ranting and Spitballing.

What does a Constitutional Crisis look like? Seventy-two percent of Americans feel birth control should be [a] legal right women in this nation should have. Seventy-one percent want gun laws to be stricter. In both cases, a majority of citizens want something that the bureaucracy of government hems up in red tape where it dies in committee.

What does a Constitutional Crisis look like? Christiane Amanpour, in a commencement address to Columbia, blasted her employer's decision in a proper British accent to platform a psychopathic fascist in prime time, as she said, respectfully disagreeing with clueless, paste-eating CEO Chris Licht. She showed more backbone than Anderson Cooper chastising his dwindling audience, and Jack Tapper, trying to make the Durham report more than a flaccid "bombshell" to suck up to the Sith overlords of the Cable, Not News network. I've eliminated the app from my phone and blocked the CNN Politics alerts on my iPhone. I see no more reason to watch it than I saw to abuse myself on Fox with Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, Meghan Kelly, Tucker Carlson, and soon Sean Hannity violated the third rule for Mogwai every night, instead of midnight, at 8:00 pm. When Amanpour is CEO, and CNN returns to being "the most trusted name in news," maybe I'll return. Neil Postman was a prophet.

We have a Supreme Court that is neither. Trust in our institutions is at an all-time low as John Roberts "whistles past the graveyard" of our federal republic, allowing the extremist more extreme than HIM to steamroll him from an intolerable 15-week ban to torching Stare decisis. When a small minority of gun owners holds the country in an ongoing hostage crisis, when women lose a right that's been with them for two generations, when the highest court in the land might as well wear jerseys with logos from the billionaire who pay for their vacation junkets, we don't have to keep asking what a Constitutional Crisis looks like. The crisis is staring us in the face as we look away from it.

If the current administration doesn't win in 2024, the party that comes to power might shred what is left of The Constitution and declare it too "woke" for display, to follow, or study. At that point, we devolve from lawyers to Bronze Age Scribes. At that point: we've devolved from a republic to sovereignty and fascism. King George, in the end, would have won.

No need to study the LSAT or pass the bar: just Spitball.

2 Timothy 3:1 This know also, that in the last days, perilous times shall come.

Synonyms of perilous: dangerous, serious, treacherous, unhealthy, grievous: fatal.

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The Illusion of Perfection...

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Source - Jati: The Caste System in India, Asia Society

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Climate Change, COVID-19, Democracy, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

“In America, this battle to wipe out whole ethnic groups was fought not by armies with guns nor by hate sects at the margins. Rather, this pernicious white-gloved war was prosecuted by esteemed professors, elite universities, wealthy industrialists, and government officials colluding in a racist, pseudoscientific movement called eugenics. The purpose: create a superior Nordic race.

“To perpetuate the campaign, widespread academic fraud combined with almost unlimited corporate philanthropy to establish the biological rationales for persecution. Employing a hazy amalgam of guesswork, gossip, falsified information, and polysyllabic academic arrogance, the eugenics movement slowly constructed a national bureaucratic and judicial infrastructure to cleanse America of “the unfit.” Specious intelligence tests, colloquially known as IQ tests, were invented to justify the incarceration of a group labeled “the feebleminded.” Often the so-called feebleminded were just shy, too good-natured to be taken seriously, or [simply] spoke the wrong language or were the wrong color. Mandatory sterilization laws were enacted in some twenty-seven states to prevent targeted individuals from reproducing more of their kind. Marriage prohibition laws proliferated throughout the country to stop race mixing. Collusive litigation was taken to the U.S. Supreme Court, which sanctified eugenics and its tactics.”

War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race,” Edwin Black, page xv, Introduction (paperback edition)

I purposely did not watch the coronation of now King Charles and his former mistress Camilla. Many tuned in for the “Pomp and Circumstance” of the ceremony. As a descendant of kidnapped Africans, thus far, uncompensated in the form of reparations, it was antithetical for me to celebrate the origins of the global slave trade that displaced so many for the enrichment of so few.

It was also interesting to see how they managed the public relations fiasco of Harry and Meghan, the former Duke and Duchess of Winsor. Giving their estate to Jeffrey Epstein, associated with Prince Andrew, both virtue-signaled to the intolerant in the United Kingdom and pedophiles that “happy ever after” was always a facade of mind and propaganda.

The illusion of perfection is pursued first by setting up a hierarchy, a societal pyramid that, at its apogee, are the humans who, by political fiat and outright brutality, have set themselves apart from the rabble as the elite, the wealthy, the one-percent: the closest things to gods in the flesh the rabble can think of.

In India, the illusion takes the form of the Caste System:

At the apogee are the Brahmin, the Priest, the closest to the gods; therefore, the closest things to gods the people below the apogee have ever seen.

Below that is the warrior caste, Kyshatriyia. In a human body analogy, the Brahmin is its head, and Kyshatriyia is its arms.

Vaisya is the merchants and landowners – the torso.

Commoners, peasants, and servants are called Sudra – the feet.

Beneath the feet are the outcasts, the untouchables, the unredeemable called Dalets. Their lot is the clean the streets and latrines.

Within the caste system or Jati, individuals cannot raise themselves in the societal pecking order. Still, the entire GROUP can by emulating another group above it (no explanation given at the link as to who, or what judges an entire group rising from mediocrity in the pecking order).

Isabelle Wilkenson based her book, “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” first on the Indian System, then compared it to the German System during WWII, and finally to the American System that seems self-reinforcing by inertia, almost perpetual.

The illusion of perfection debases the lives of the Indigenous: the Aborigines in Australia and the First Nation Peoples in North, Central, and South America. Continents populated with peoples who have a culture, languages spoken and written, historical records, and civilizations are raized out of existence because if they don’t worship the same as Europeans if they don’t speak like Europeans, if they don’t particularly look like Europeans, they are irrelevant, they are unpersons, Aborigines, African Americans, Dalets. In this case, “black lives don’t matter” because they never did.

As I type this, the illusion of perfection has visited an outlet mall outside of Dallas, Texas, in Allen, where I have close relatives. We now have more gun massacres than we have days in the year, and the only way it will improve is if it suddenly stops tomorrow. Newsflash: It won’t. The illusion of perfection can only be reinforced by violence. Showing facts, history, and scientific data invites backlash and a brutally efficient gaslighting operation through Secretary Clinton’s “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

The illusion of perfection punches down at the weak (fill in the blank for any outgroup you might know or belong to) because it always has. It’s “easy” to punch down on immigrants because the “gang of eight” proposed the only solution before Marco Rubio ran for president. It’s “easy” to lambast the LGBT community because the “solution” they won’t vocalize would sound a lot like German concentration camps or the hanging wall in “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. If the "horse is out of the barn," then the original door was opened by the Brown vs. Board of Education 9-0 decision by the Supreme Court (1954), the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Richard and Mildred Loving vs. Virginia, 1967, the Fair Housing Act of 1968, Roe vs. Wade, 1973 (repealed in 2023), Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015: if you repeal one part of the 20th and the early part of the 21st Century, you must using the darkest, cynical logic, repeal it all.

In the illusion of perfection, Dr. Edwin Black focuses on eugenics, but isn’t eugenics a form of secular religiosity? Both have an elite, the chosen, the pure: the elect who deserve, and the "others" who are damned. As he pointed out, whole universities and academic tomes devoted themselves to reinforcing what amounted to a lie. Still, like any broadcast on Fox Propaganda, it was a lie that a large swath of people wanted to believe.

The illusion of perfection has the same septuagenarian running against the same (now) octogenarian who repaired the damage post-COVID the septuagenarian caused. The octogenarian is trailing the septuagenarian because the octogenarian – four years senior to the septuagenarian, isn’t “entertaining” (or racist). I guess they never saw the White House Correspondence Dinner the septuagenarian avoided due to a lack of a sense of deprecating humor and an easily bruised ego (the octogenarian killed it, by the way). The octogenarian was VP to the first and only African American president, and his VP is the descendant of an African American father and an Indian mother. I'm glad he's not racist.

In a Washington Post article about the latest sacrifice to American Moloch, the congressional representative for the mall ended with this vapid statement because the gun lobby and NRA made him memorize the script like an automaton:

“Rep. Keith Self (R), who represents the Allen area in Congress, said on CNN that people who were calling for gun control, rather than just thoughts and prayers, ‘don’t believe in an almighty God … who is absolutely in control of our lives.’

“’[People] want to make this political, but prayers are important,’ he said.”

Allen, Texas

© May 7, 2023, the Griot Poet

“Thoughts and prayers” means

I refuse to legislate

While the gun lobby pays!

I have a sneaking suspicion that Representative Keith Self(ish) doesn’t believe in any other almighty God in his particular religion other than Mammon.

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Caveat Modifier...

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The Biofire Smart Gun. Photographer: James Stukenberg for Bloomberg Businessweek

Topics: Biometrics, Biotechnology, Computer Science, Democracy, Materials Science, Semiconductor Technology

Tech Target (Alyssa Provazza, Editorial Director): "A smartphone is a cellular telephone with an integrated computer and other features not originally associated with telephones, such as an operating system, web browsing, and the ability to run software applications." Smartphones, however, have had a detrimental effect on humans regarding health, critical thinking, and cognitive skills, convenient though they are.

I've seen the idea of "smart guns" for decades. Like the fingerprint scan for biometric safes, it's a safeguard that some will opt for but most likely won't unless compelled by legislation, which in the current "thoughts and prayers" environment (i.e., sloganeering is easier than proposing a law if you continually get away with it), I'm not holding my breath. A recent, late 20th Century example:

In 1974, the federal government passed the National Maximum Speed Law, which restricted the maximum permissible vehicle speed limit to 55 miles per hour (mph) on all interstate roads in the United States.1 The law was a response to the 1973 oil embargo, and its intent was to reduce fuel consumption. In the year after the National Maximum Speed Law was enacted, road fatalities declined 16.4%, from 54,052 in 1973 to 45,196 in 1974.2

In April of 1987, Congress passed the Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act, which permitted states to raise the legal speed limit on rural interstates to 65 mph.3 Under this legislation, 41 states raised their posted speed limits to 65 mph on segments of rural interstates. On November 28, 1995, Congress passed the National Highway Designation Act, which officially removed all federal speed limit controls. Since 1995, all US states have raised their posted speed limits on rural interstates; many have also raised the posted speed limits on urban interstates and non interstate roads.

Conclusions. Reduced speed limits and improved enforcement with speed camera networks could immediately reduce speeds and save lives, in addition to reducing gas consumption, cutting emissions of air pollutants, saving valuable years of productivity, and reducing the cost of motor vehicle crashes.

Long-Term Effects of Repealing the National Maximum Speed Limit in the United States, Lee S. Friedman, Ph.D., corresponding author Donald Hedeker, Ph.D., and Elihu D. Richter, MD, MPH, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health

Homo Sapiens, (Latin) "wise men," don't always do smart things.

In an office parking lot about halfway between Denver and Boulder, a former 50-foot-long shipping container has been converted into a cramped indoor shooting range. Paper targets with torsos printed on them hang from two parallel tracks, and a rubber trap waits at the back of the container to catch the spent bullets. Black acoustic foam padding on the walls softens the gunshot noise to make the experience more bearable for the shooter, while an air filtration system sucks particulates out of the air. It’s a far cry from the gleaming labs of the average James Bond movie, but Q might still be proud.

The weapons being tested at this site are smart guns: They can identify their registered users and won’t fire [for] anyone else. Smart guns have been a notoriously quixotic category for decades. The weapons carry the hope that an extra technological safeguard might prevent a wide range of gun-related accidents and deaths. But making a smart gun that’s good enough to be taken seriously has proved beyond difficult. It’s rare to find engineers with a strong understanding of both ballistics and biometrics whose products can be expected to work perfectly in life-or-death situations.

Some recent attempts have amounted to little more than a sensor or two slapped onto an existing weapon. More promising products have required too many steps and taken too much time to fire compared with the speed of a conventional handgun. What separates the Biofire Smart Gun here in the converted shipping container is that its ID systems, which scan fingerprints and faces, have been thoroughly melded into the firing mechanism. The battery-powered weapon has the sophistication of high-end consumer electronics, but it’s still a gun at its core.

A Smart Gun Is Finally Here, But Does Anyone Want It? Ashlee Vance, Bloomberg Business Week

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Dark Frequencies...

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Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Democracy, Existentialism, Fascism

Dystopia

© April 12, 2023, the Griot Poet

Gun massacres are so

Frequent now, George Orwell’s

Prophecy banal.

Lamentation

© April 12, 2023, the Griot Poet

Gun massacres are so

Frequent now that Orwell weeps:

[Nightmares] actual.

 

*****

 

The graph is part of an exercise that I do after every shooting. If you’ve got a stock app on your smartphone, it’s easy to track. There is an uptick in any stock that trades with gun manufacturers. It was simple to blame it on the fear of gun control that never materializes, despite the massacres’ gruesomeness or the victims’ innocence. It turns out that terrorizing citizens is public policy. When you get beyond the reflexive “thoughts and prayers,” what do you have left other than the obvious? Terrorized citizens can’t think clearly, don’t read leisurely fiction or historical record, or absorb civics or critical thinking. Voltaire warned about tyranny, but the threat of assassination seems to be as tyrannical as the Kremlin. Putin has eleven time zones, terrified by everybody dropped from a window, every dissident imprisoned in a gulag, or every ex-pat poisoned in another country. America is dangerous to our health inside and outside our homes (see: Breonna Taylor). Where do we go in public that cannot become a crime scene?

It turns out that my “Stop the Bleeding” kit arrived after Easter instead of before, delayed by the likely deluge of other orders from my active shooter class and others around the nation that decided the 55th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King was a GREAT day to do a class! A taser I ordered for my wife came in from Amazon on the same day.

After Tennessee, on April 11, 2023, America had another mass shooting in Louisville, Kentucky. The governor of that state lost two friends, and a third at the time was in critical condition. Five people were killed, and about nine were injured.

April 13, 2023, a 35-year-old English teacher was killed by a lone gunman in the drive-through of a Dunkin Donuts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her eleven-year-old son was unharmed in the backseat, but he saw his mother executed for no reason. His psyche, regarding harm, is another matter. Mother’s Day is next month, and I don’t think the cliché “thoughts and prayers” will cut it.

I now carry pepper spray on my keychain. I have a telescoping baton that makes a metallic “shooshing” sound, a hopeful shock to an assailant. In addition to pepper spray and a taser, I plan to give my wife my 9mm pistol (hopefully without the same glitches as Sig Sauer pistols, shooting when not hitting the trigger) and a purse that will double as a holster: if threatened, she’ll have to shoot through it. We didn’t leave Afghanistan: we brought the war home.

 

*****

 

Jonny Quest” is one of the many cartoons I’ve taken to collecting on DVD. I bought a DVD player that looks like a laptop but only has the drive, screen, controls, and remote. Jonny Quest was about the adventures of Jonny, his friend from Calcutta, Haji, his dog, who looked like a pug mutt, “Race” Bannon (that’s how his name was listed). And Dr. Benton Quest, who had as much of an impact as “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau” and “Marlin Perkins’ ‘Wild Kingdom.’” The STEM focus of the latter is self-evident. Dr. Benton Quest was a biologist on one Saturday, a physicist on the next Saturday, a Chemist, or an Electrical Engineer on any given Saturday where the situation needed him to be! There were car chases, a Cyclops, spider legged robot spy, dog fights with a Nazi, and LOTS of guns! Dr. Quest was the epitome of a nanotechnologist*, years after Dr. Richard Feynman’s lecture “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom” circa 1959 and years before Dr. Norio Taniguchi coined it at a conference in Japan in 1974. Thankfully, neither Jonny nor Haji were involved in gunplay.

“Jonny Quest” is utter fantasy, a cartoon. All of us kids were in on the “gag.” Only the “evil-doers” died, never us “good guys.”

I feel like we’re going to war every day instead of work.

What kind of country or cartoon is this?

 

*****

 

*My “elevator pitch” definition:

Nanotechnology regards biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, and physics, all of the major STEM disciplines at the nanoscale. Nano means “billionth,” or 10-9 meters. Nanoscience is the theoretical observation of nanoscale phenomena. Nanoengineering is exploiting that phenomenon towards a practical (engineering) end, as in manufacturing something that can be purchased or consumed. Before I entered the field, Dr. Quest was probably the first nanotechnologist I had ever seen and didn’t recognize because the definition wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is now.

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Innocence...

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Topics: African Americans, Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Climate Change, Democracy, Diversity in Science, Environment, Existentialism, Fascism, Global Warming, Human Rights

Trauma at 55

© April 3, 2023, the Griot Poet

 

Graduation day.

No child smiling because we

Lost Martin Thursday.

 

April is National Poetry Month. This photo of five-year-old me inspired my haiku about my kindergarten graduation. It should have been a happy day with parents in the audience.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on Thursday, April 4, 1968. Our graduation was scheduled for Friday at Bethlehem Community Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

All thirty-six students were blissfully unaware of the political earthquake that this was or that it had occurred. As we all aged, we probably learned of the death threats and the near assassination by a deranged woman at a book signing. We were unaware of the "Missiles of October" in 1962, barely scratching the planet's surface or taking our first steps before potential Armageddon. Medgar Evers was assassinated in Mississippi in June of 1963, and President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in November of the same year in Dallas when we were a little over a year old. Brother Malcolm was assassinated in February 1965 when we were almost three. I don't recall the University of Texas. Clock Tower shooting in 1966, but we were four then. My classmates, like me, probably heard a program on the local radio station, WAAA-AM, on Sundays from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, "Martin Luther King Speaks." At that time, the caveat was that he spoke, addressing his audience directly over AM, the complete analog of today's social media. What are now tapes or YouTube videos for later generations: it was him, alive, breathing, and speaking. Martin, then Robert F. Kennedy, June 6, the president's brother running for president, fell that year.

I recall my mother kissing me profusely, promising to be there for the graduation, and saying "I love you" repeatedly. I had no doubts about that.

I also remember my father's eyes: red with bloodshot, dried tears on his cheeks. To that point in my brief existence, the thought of him crying was alien, foreign.

The kindergarten teachers sat us down. We assumed to prepare us for the costumes we would wear – white shorts, shirts, and bow ties for the boys, and skirts for the girls.

"Children, Dr. Martin Luther King was shot yesterday and died."

Stunned silence.

I am on the front row, the photo's first student on the left. The eighth student on that row is a girl who I recall having a crush on: she has her right knee pointing towards her left leg. She would break the silence before our ceremony with an ear-piercing screech, repetitive, inconsolable grief beyond her years, perhaps mimicked from a funeral. We all knew what "died" meant. In some form or fashion, by five, you have lost beloved pets or relatives that you never thought would leave the Earth.

The seed from her grief cascaded through the graduates like a malignant vine. The time was 9:00. We cried for two hours, during which someone with a pickup truck, a rebel flag flying, drove through the parking lot, yelling over and over so our young ears and teachers could hear him, "Martin Luther Coon's dead! Yahoo! The South will rise again!"

I lay on the linoleum, palm heels in my eye sockets, wailing my [own] notes. The teachers were crying with us, trying to console themselves and us, allowing us our grief. We went down for a nap at 11:00. Perhaps our teachers did too.

We went out for a brief recess, probably to clear the fog from our brains, but as I recall, we moved like zombies, with no one on the seesaw, children sitting, staring numbly on the swings, and no action on the monkey bars. Then we went in and got dressed.

Our parents would be there at 1:30 pm. I have described why not a single child graduating in the photo was smiling. Staring at my unsmiling, well, forced smiling parents, I remember this poignant thought post-grief beyond my brief years:

 

"We're not kids anymore!"

We would all start first grade in the fall without him.

I hugged my big sister tightly that evening, a student activist in the Civil Rights Movement attending Winston-Salem State University, because I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, what "died" meant.

*****

Devolution

(Post-Cold War and 9/11)

© April 4, 2023, the Griot Poet

 

I did duck-and-hide

Drills, kids as cold warriors:

Now, active shooter.

 

My employer hosted an Active Shooter/Stop the Bleeding training at my facility on probably the most insensitive date they could pick on the calendar: the 55th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King. As the first haiku eludes, time does not heal trauma. For the first half, both instructors had experience in law enforcement and the military. The second set of three instructors from a local trauma center featured a combat medic, who taught us through a cadaver dummy to stuff gauze from a "stop the bleeding kit" (there is a website to order directly).

I participated in the class vigorously to fight the "sugar crash" from the doughnuts offered.

We saw a lot of videos, one featuring the shooter in the Naval Shipyards gun massacre. The other was the bodycam video from the recent incident in Tennessee at a Christian School where three adults in their early sixties (around my same age) and three nine-year-old children were sacrificed on the altar of American Moloch. The original intent of particularly white evangelical Christian schools was to protect the "innocence" of their children from sitting next to someone like me. Somehow "thoughts and prayers" for a Christian school, no doubt inspired by Brown vs. Board of Education being actualized in the South, seemed oxymoronic.

"Duck-and-hide," or more accurately, duck-and-cover, where drills were part of civilian preparedness in the event World War Three spontaneously broke out. They gave us manuals we should read (I still have mine). The teachers and manual said that getting under the desk was the best way to survive the nuclear fallout if you were not the center of the blast radius. Preconscious and curious, my parents had bought the complete volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Internet of its day. Foreshadowing my eventual STEM majors in Engineering Physics, Microelectronics, and Nanoengineering, I read the "Nu" volume on nuclear weapons. I sadly concluded after my research that the drills were government-sanctioned gaslighting, a word I now use. The word I used then is a two-syllable word with the popular abbreviation "B.S." Plutonium 239, the ore of choice for thermonuclear weapons, has a half-life of 24,100 years, meaning that it would be half as radioactive in about 24 millennia. This drill wasn't to save lives but to reduce panicked stampeding that, I admit, would help no one. The official nuclear doctrine of deterrence is M.A.D.: mutually assured destruction. We'll see if Russia in Ukraine remembers this at all.

The United States has been in some war 93% of the time from 1775 (before its existence) to 2018. This factum is according to Smithsonian Magazine. The article's caveat is how to interpret "war": declared congressionally, unilaterally by the executive, or (in my opinion) upon one's citizens.

I will attend my precocious granddaughter's fourth birthday party this National Poetry Month. She is one year younger than my five-year-old image. After getting her a "Dr. McStuffin's Medical Kit" for Christmas, she immediately assigned herself as her grandparents' doctor. She even does televisits when we chat on Google Hangout.

Yet she grows up in a world of the continuous threat of Armageddon. Add to that designed scarcity, economic Disaster Capitalism cum neoliberalism, rising global temperatures, and active shooter training when she starts kindergarten in the fall, minus the "stop the bleeding kits," even with her Dr. McStuffin credentials. Because of the malaise of government and gun lobbyists, we've reduced her citizenry to becoming a combat medic in the future, whether she wants to or not.

I bought a "stop the bleeding" kit. It should be here before Easter.

"We're not kids anymore!"

None of us are.

 

 

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Functional Fascism...

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Ron DeSantis previously said he wouldn’t get involved in Donald Trump’s indictment “in any way.” | John Bazemore/AP Photo, Gary Fineout, Politico

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Democracy, Existentialism, Fascism

NEW YORK — The share of Americans who identify as white and Christian has dropped below 50 percent, a transformation fueled by immigration and by growing numbers of people who reject organized religion altogether, according to a new survey released Wednesday.

Christians overall remain a large majority in the U.S., at nearly 70 percent of Americans. However, white Christians, once predominant in the country’s religious life, now comprise only 43 percent of the population, according to the Public Religion Research Institute, or PRRI, a polling organization based in Washington. Four decades ago, about eight in 10 Americans were white Christians

The change has occurred across the spectrum of Christian traditions in the U.S., including sharp drops in membership in predominantly white mainline Protestant denominations such as Presbyterians and Lutherans; an increasing Latino presence in the Roman Catholic Church as some non-Hispanic white Catholics leave; and shrinking ranks of white evangelicals, who until recently had been viewed as immune to decline.

White Christians are now a minority of the U.S. population, survey says, Rachel Zoll, Associated Press

It was the first panic and the first indication that white evangelicism focused on earthly political concerns more than heavenly meditations. Eighty-one percent of them voted for the vagina-grabber after the Access Hollywood tape. It was soon after this he, or as Michael Cohen's indictment called him, "individual one," directed his then-attorney to pay hush money to Karen McDougal, a Playboy Centerfold, and Stormy Daniels, an adult film star, coordinated with then editor of the National Enquirer, David Pecker, which is the most apropos last name I've seen to be the editor of a supermarket rag. He was called before the Manhattan Grand Jury before they voted on indictment.

Impeachment is a form of federal indictment, but the twice-impeached former president beat the rap in a stacked Senate jury. Then, when he didn't win re-election, a point he was cognizant of, he ordered a mob to Capitol Hill to seize power, an insurrection for the first time since the Civil War, a breach of the Capitol for the first time since the war of 1812. For his new presidential campaign, he upped the ante from Reagan's "states rights" speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi, by staging his first rally in Waco, Texas, the sight of the standoff between the government and the Branch Davidian Cult. It's talented bigotry to invoke George Soros and call an African American District Attorney an "animal. If dog-whistling, it's best in a gross sense to hit one target with two epithets.

"Individual One" started his first presidential campaign taking birtherism in the gutter with him and raising it from the swill like an anointed Phoenix, with 3,500 lawsuits against him, including Trump University (which he said he would "never settle" until he did). Part of his narcissistic "charm" is he never seems to pay for any crime he commits, no matter how outlandish it might have been, even insurrection. It might explain his follower's attraction to him: he's a reverse Robin Hood; he steals from the poor suckers and gives to himself. They all think they're in on the gag, but in true conman fashion, marks usually are not.

Earlier this week, three children and three adults were gunned down by a former transgender student at a Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee. I have fond memories of variety shows like "The Old Oprey" and "Hee-Haw," based on a soundstage there. Governor Bill Lee asked for prayers. He has written anti-LGBT laws, restricted abortion rights, banned drag shows, banned books, and expanded permit-less carry; without the need for safety training or practice. Tennessee paused further expansion of freedom for guns; contraction of civil liberties in lieu of "thoughts and prayers." Congressman Andy Ogles also sent "thoughts and prayers," yet posed with his family in a 2021 Christmas photo armed to the teeth with assault weapons. Now that the indictment that was supposed to happen last Tuesday happened yesterday, the former president continued to threaten "death and destruction" simultaneously, or soon after that, a photo of him with a baseball bat next to Alvin Bragg's head like Robert De Niro as Al Capone in the movie, "The Untouchables."

"If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it's a duck!"

At the same time, his likely challenger in the GOP primary breezed through a clone of his Soros-African-American Attorney bigotry and said that he would not assist in his extradition if he refused to leave Florida for his arraignment.

That is collusion by an officer of the court, and a governor, to break the rule of law.

During the January 6 Hearings, many of the insurrectionists in Congress ignored subpoenas sent to them by the committee. Now that Jim Jordan has actual Judiciary Committee power, he's proven that he got a law degree but didn't pass the bar. Good luck enforcing your subpoenas.

But that shouldn't matter for the goals of today's republican right. The Growth and Opportunity Project (the 2012 GOP Autopsy) called for the party to expand its base beyond white evangelicals, rural dwellers, conspiracy theorists, weirdos, fascists, racists, misogynists, and insurrectionists with irritable bowel syndrome. It called for them to expand to women, minorities, immigrants, the LGBT, and young people. It rightly predicted the diversification of America and assumed that a functional political party would absorb the study's wisdom.

The party and its avatar in 2016, 2020, and apparently, 2024 rejected it.

If Governor DeSantis, like Jim Jordan et al., ignores the New York indictment and “will not assist in the extradition,” it's not very far from that the "rule of law" becomes meaningless.

Past that Rubicon is the rule of the mob boss, warlord, or one man as king. There would be no civics, civil rights, or civil liberties, just lords and serfs, the next logical step of income inequality. Dictators never give up power, so elections, if held, would become meaningless "public spectacles" like they were in Saddam Hussein's Iraq and are in Vladimir Putin's Russian Federation. It simply takes the slow-boiling frog destruction of the rule of law. After that, fascism becomes actionable and functional.

“I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness..."

Carl Sagan, "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark"

And the world, like old Europe, will become soaked in the blood of our fellow humans. Warlords have a tendency not to get along.

If the world is like Europe in its violence before the world order after the Second World War, where could we run after the Third?

June: We have to run.

Luke: What?

June: We waited last time. We waited too long, and we didn't see how much they hated us. I lost you, and then we lost Hannah.

Luke: Are we just gonna forget about her now?

June: We will never ever forget about her, but we cannot help her if we are dead. It's changing, Luke. This country is changing.

Luke: No, Canada's not Gilead.

June: America wasn't Gilead until it was, and then it was too fuckin' late. Luke, we have to go. We have to run. Now.

Season Five of "The Handmaid's Tale" finale on Hulu, TV Fanatic

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Less Than A Decade...

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Hoesung Lee, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, speaking at the global climate talks on Nov. 6 in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. Credit...Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Topics: Climate Change, Democracy, Environment, Existentialism

A new report says it is still possible to hold global warming to relatively safe levels, but doing so will require global cooperation, billions of dollars, and big changes.

Earth is likely to cross a critical threshold for global warming within the next decade, and nations will need to make an immediate and drastic shift away from fossil fuels to prevent the planet from overheating dangerously beyond that level, according to a major new report released on Monday.

The report, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of experts convened by the United Nations, offers the most comprehensive understanding to date of ways in which the planet is changing. It says that global average temperatures are estimated to rise 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels sometime around “the first half of the 2030s” as humans continue to burn coal, oil, and natural gas.

That number holds a special significance in global climate politics: Under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, virtually every nation agreed to “pursue efforts” to hold global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Beyond that point, scientists say, the impacts of catastrophic heat waves, flooding, drought, crop failures, and species extinction become significantly harder for humanity to handle.

But Earth has already warmed an average of 1.1 degrees Celsius since the industrial age, and with global fossil-fuel emissions setting records last year, that goal is quickly slipping out of reach.

There is still one last chance to shift course, the new report says. But it would require industrialized nations to join together immediately to slash greenhouse gases roughly in half by 2030 and then stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere altogether by the early 2050s. If those two steps were taken, the world would have about a 50 percent chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Delays of even a few years would most likely make that goal unattainable, guaranteeing a hotter, more perilous future.

“The pace and scale of what has been done so far and current plans are insufficient to tackle climate change,” said Hoesung Lee, the chair of the climate panel. “We are walking when we should be sprinting.”

World Has Less Than a Decade to Stop Catastrophic Warming, U.N. Panel Says, Brad Plumer, New York Times

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Four Days...

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Credit: Jose Luis Pelaez/Getty Images

Topics: Civilization, COVID-19, Democracy, Economics, Education, Existentialism

Working four days instead of five—with the same pay—leads to improved well-being among employees without damaging the company’s productivity. That’s the recently reported result of a four-day workweek test that ran for six months, from June to December 2022 and involved a total of 61 U.K. companies with a combined workforce of about 2,900 employees.

During the COVID pandemic, many workers experienced increased stress and even burnout, a state of exhaustion that can make it difficult to meet work goals. “It’s a very huge issue,” says independent organizational psychologist and consultant Michael Leiter, who was not involved in the new report. “You see it, particularly in health care, where I do much of my work. It’s making it much more difficult to hold on to talented people.” He explains that stress in the workplace makes it difficult for companies in health care and many other fields to recruit new hires and keep existing employees. But greater awareness of burnout and related issues can have a positive effect, Leiter adds. “People are demanding more changes in how the work is organized,” he says.

That demand is what led the independent research organization Autonomy, in conjunction with the advocacy groups 4 Day Week Global and 4 Day Week Campaign and researchers at the University of Cambridge, Boston College, and other institutions, to publish a report on what happens when companies reduce the number of days in a workweek. According to surveys of participants, 71 percent of respondents reported lower levels of burnout, and 39 percent reported being less stressed than when they began the test. Companies experienced 65 percent fewer sick and personal days. And the number of resignations dropped by more than half compared with an earlier six-month period. Despite employees logging fewer work hours, companies’ revenues barely changed during the test period. In fact, they actually increased slightly, by 1.4 percent on average.

A Four-Day Workweek Reduces Stress without Hurting Productivity, Jan Dönges, Sophie Bushwick, Scientific American

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