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existentialism (11)

Liar Eschatology...

David Lewicki, Twitter


Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Human Rights


The Power of Positive Thinking is a self-help book by Norman Vincent Peale, originally published in 1952. It makes use of positive case histories and practical instructions to propose the method of positive thinking. Peale's work describes how to achieve a permanent and optimistic attitude through unending positive conscious thought, usually through affirmations or visualizations. Peale writes that such techniques will give the reader a higher satisfaction and quality of life. Though negatively reviewed by scholars and health experts, The Power of Positive Thinking became popular in public opinion when first published and continues in popularity today.

Source: Wikipedia

 

*****


Liars for Jesus debunks many of the historical lies invented and used by the Christian nationalist history revisionists in their efforts to further their far right political agenda and destroy the wall of separation between church and state in America. Liars for Jesus is not a book about religion. It is a history book, presenting and fully documenting the true stories and historical facts that are distorted in the "Christian nation" pseudo-history promoted by the religious right. Chris Rodda, August 10, 2006, Amazon, Volume 1

Liars for Jesus debunks many of the historical lies invented and used by the Christian nationalist history revisionists in their efforts to further their far right political agenda and destroy the wall of separation between church and state in America. Liars for Jesus is not a book about religion. It is a history book, setting the record straight by presenting and fully documenting the true stories and historical facts that are distorted in the "Christian nation" pseudo-history of our country. Chris Rodda, January 6, 2016, Volume 2

 

*****


Come 1953, this legal prodigy was named McCarthy’s boy-wonder chief counsel, and the news photos told the tale: the sharp-faced, heavy-lidded 26-year-old with cherubic cheeks, whispering intimately into the ear of the bloated McCarthy. Cohn’s special skill as the senator’s henchman was character assassination. Indeed, after testifying in front of him, an engineer with the Voice of America radio news service committed suicide. Cohn never showed a shred of remorse.

You knew when you were in Cohn’s presence you were in the presence of pure evil,” said lawyer Victor A. Kovner, who had known him for years. Cohn’s power derived largely from his ability to scare potential adversaries with hollow threats and spurious lawsuits. And the fee he demanded for his services? Ironclad loyalty.

For author Sam Roberts, the essence of Cohn’s influence on Trump was the triad: “Roy was a master of situational immorality . . . . He worked with a three-dimensional strategy, which was: 1. Never settle, never surrender. 2. Counter-attack, counter-sue immediately. 3. No matter what happens, no matter how deeply into the muck you get, claim victory and never admit defeat.” As columnist Liz Smith once observed, “Donald lost his moral compass when he made an alliance with Roy Cohn.”

 

*****

Yesterday was the 75th anniversary of the Normandy invasion. Our national embarrassment managed to be an embarrassment on the world stage. What I thought was missing was any discussion of the African American soldiers and sailors that sacrificed for this nation during that war, specifically to show their worth as citizens and as human beings. We've fought in every war this nation has prosecuted in its history, yet the descendants of the African Diaspora are still fighting for their rights in this country. I found the absence of any discussion ironic and disturbing under current circumstances.

I cannot attest Donald Trump ever HAD a moral compass to lose. His father was arrested at a Klan rally in NY city, 1927; he and his father discriminated against people of color in their rental apartment buildings; the Central Park 5, for which he refuses to apologize: Charlottesville. He has divided the nation with a racist jigsaw. He's more Darth Vader to Emperor Palpatine, Darth Maul to Darth Sidious; under demon to Lucifer. The degree of evil doesn't matter: it's just evil.

Norman Vincent Peale's philosophy has had it's supporters and critics, both in science and clergy. Marble Church - the spiritual descendant of Peale's philosophy - is claimed by the Trumps, the pathological liar referring in the past to Peale as his pastor. A lot of Norman Vincent Peale's method have other names: "name it and claim it"; "new thought" and "positive mental attitude." It's the kind of thing a sales representative reads to pump up their egos to press on. It is the kind of philosophy an urban youth might use to motivate their enthusiasm to overcome their economic circumstances. It is ripe for warping by a demagogue.

Chris Rodda responded to the pseudo-historical polemics published by David Barton, a "historian" who possesses no PhD in the field as most historians do. He is the go-to "expert" for talk show hosts like Glenn Beck et al to tell their audiences kind fables that comfort their angst regarding the changing demographics of America. He tries to rewrite actual history to fulfill the fables of a group he hucksters, where "facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." John Adams But those "stubborn things" are of no consequence to Christian fascists.

The only way to see the Venn diagram merger of religion and pathological lying is the nexus formed in the mind of an addled man between these two men: Norman Vincent Peale and Roy Cohn, Yin and Yang; light and darkness. A brain that can only hold onto "Two Corinthians" as a biblical verse he MIGHT have heard in the scant attendance he's logged at the Crystal Cathedral, for his thus far dedicated following, his voluminous tableau of lies doesn't matter. He fulfills what Christian nationalists cum evangelicals and white nationalists the world over want more than eternal salvation - power. The ends justify the means: voter suppression, resistance to "advise and consent" Merrick Garland's appointment to the Supreme Court (a stolen seat); Russian interference so long as white privilege, white supremacy - white power continues to rule. Our bent away from democratic norms predates the Russian attack on our elections in 2016.

The soul of a republic is apparently a small price to pay for this idolatry. It will be the death of our country...and the world.
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Atticus Mueller...

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Human Rights


“Let me begin where the appointment order begins, and that is interference in the 2016 presidential election,” Mueller said, and he sketched out briefly what his investigation alleged: that Russian intelligence officers “launched a concerted attack on our political system,” and released information in a scheme “designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate.” Meanwhile, “a private Russian entity engaged in a social-media operation where Russian citizens posed as Americans in order to influence an election.” He added, “The matters we investigated were of paramount importance.​​”

A few minutes later, as he finished up, Mueller returned to the theme. He said it even after thanking members of his team (and, in what truly did sound like a rebuke to the president, noting, “These individuals who spent nearly two years with the special counsel’s office were of the highest integrity”). For his final public words in a decades-long life in government, he chose to say this:

I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interference in our election. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American. Thank you. Thank you for being here today.

Whether the motivation is treason or narcissistic ego: the Russians also have their cyber fingers into our infrastructure and power grids, which means we could literally be held hostage and not able to fight back. Maybe for a reelection campaign that didn't go well for their chosen candidate? Our federal elections are covered by The Constitution. It is our unique ability to select our own leaders, the "peaceful transition of power" as an example to the world. The Russians are sowing distrust, racial discord, tribalism and animus on a platform supposedly a road map to true, representative democracy. The Arab Spring started in Tunisia with a vendor's self-immolation, spread by Social Media. We were on our way to utopia, before this detour to dystopia.

Utopia to those in power is the opposite: dystopian. “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.” Franklin Leonard

If you make money with tobacco, you might fund an effort to broadcast misleading information about the health impact of smoking. If you make money with fossil fuels, you might sabotage electric cars, or publish quackery on doubting climate change and global warming. If you make money publishing "alternative facts" to a largely WASP-C, septuagenarian audience, if you're Saudi Prince Alwaleed or Australian Rupert Murdoch, Fox News is your Pavlov's dinner bell.

Atticus Finch and Robert Mueller are the same type of lawyer: steadfast and by-the-book, with an almost unshakable faith in the system of jurisprudence each officer of the court - fictional and real - serves. They are from a time where Winston-Salem had a morning Journal and evening Sentinel newspapers: all your news, "breaking" or otherwise; advertisements for cars, clothing, apartments and homes were there and those adds paid for most newsrooms to do their jobs as members of the fourth estate that held power accountable, and did not practice "access journalism" where they now or seldom do not. They came from a time where there were three major news networks and radio programs with audiences and followers (millennial translation: pod casts). Adults read large novels, books of poetry and plays for entertainment and children inhaled comic books for shear pleasure. It was a time when the terms "moderate republican" and "conservative democrat" weren't pejoratives. It was a time a 448-page Mueller Report would have been read in about a week. It was a time before our technological distractions made us all attention-deficit, and with that lack of clarity, a democracy is for the ripe picking for Putin and his puppet. Our continued freedom never depended on elected officials that work for us: the continued existence of this democratic republic always has depended ON us.

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” Frederick Douglass
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The Strength of Ignorance...

The Meaning of War Is Peace, Freedom Is Slavery, and Ignorance Is Strength in Orwell's "1984", Natalie Franks, PhD, Owlcation

 

Topics: Climate Change, Global Warming, Existentialism, Politics


Note: Please forgive the midweek rant but...this...is...insane.

Mr. Trump is less an ideologue than an armchair naysayer about climate change, according to people who know him. He came into office viewing agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency as bastions of what he calls the “deep state,” and his contempt for their past work on the issue is an animating factor in trying to force them to abandon key aspects of the methodology they use to try to understand the causes and consequences of a dangerously warming planet.

As a result, parts of the federal government will no longer fulfill what scientists say is one of the most urgent jobs of climate science studies: reporting on the future effects of a rapidly warming planet and presenting a picture of what the earth could look like by the end of the century if the global economy continues to emit heat-trapping carbon dioxide pollution from burning fossil fuels.

The attack on science is underway throughout the government. In the most recent example, the White House-appointed director of the United States Geological Survey, James Reilly, a former astronaut and petroleum geologist, has ordered that scientific assessments produced by that office use only computer-generated climate models that project the impact of climate change through 2040, rather than through the end of the century, as had been done previously.

 

Trump Administration Hardens Its Attack on Climate Science
Coral Davenport and Mark Landler, New York Times


It's insane, but cynical: the current Russian-installed occupant of the Oval Office is 72, meaning by 2040 if the afterlife doesn't want to screw with him, he'd be 93, still Virtual Reality tweeting his inane thoughts further rattled by Entropy, Alzheimer's and Dementia while firmly encompassed in adult pampers on his sixth trophy wife from whatever is left of the Czech Republic! We're personally causing the extinction of millions of species, and one of them might be the linchpin break in our own food chain.

NONE of the morons making these decisions will live to see the impact of them. They will cash in and peace out to the planet richer than Solomon, fiddling like Nero as the world burns. The end of white Christian Evangelical America occurred rather quietly around 2017, only noted by demographers, authors that notice such things...and white Christian Americans! This is why they could vote for the vagina gripper without a hint of pious hypocrisy, literally 81% of them selling what's left of their souls. This is why they're in a wholesale panic in Texas...TEXAS could turn blue by 2045! This is a naked power grab masquerading in choir robes that are demonstrably, decidedly Klan white. The other impact other than the lack of coitus would likely be the proliferation of readily available guns for violence, the opioid crisis and farmers affected by the trade tariffs committing harikari. But we won't talk about that because...logic (or, lack thereof).

They don’t even WANT you to vote a week from Tuesday. They hate voters and they hate voting. They have worked with a religious fervor to game voting tallies in Missouri, and Tennessee, and North Dakota, and Ohio (we can thank the Supreme Court for that), and Florida, and North Carolina, and most notably in Georgia, where elderly black people were literally pulled over for trying to vote, and where Republican gubernatorial candidate and current secretary of state Brian Kemp purged over 300,000 people from the voter rolls. They don’t want you voting, and they don’t particularly care if it’s fair or not. And if you happen to resist, the president already tacitly endorsed violence against you.

This is because Republicans hate a true representative democracy. And if they hate that, then they hate America. And if they hate America, then they hate you. I know Republicans say they LOVE America. They love it so much they wanna marry it. But that’s not true. They only love using America, mostly as a means of engineering hate.

They also hate your kids. If they liked your kids, they would support paid maternity leave, free health care, free child care, better public schools, and they would do everything in their power to enact stricter gun control laws so that schoolchildren don’t get routinely slaughtered en masse. They hate all of those ideas. They even hate teachers. You ever meet a teacher? They’re fucking saints, man. It doesn’t matter. Republicans hate them and would rather die than pay teachers a living wage.

In fact, they don’t just hate your kids, they hate your grandchildren as well. If Republicans gave the thinnest of shits about your grandkids, they would act with incredible haste on every Defcon 1 climate report that says we’re doomed if we don’t stop humping carbon to death. But they don’t. They hate the Earth, they hate the future, and they HATE any report that might dare ask them to take a break from pillaging the lands. Those reports go right into the shredder.

And they hate reporters too. Of course they hate reporters. A reporter just got kidnapped, tortured, and dismembered by Saudi Arabia (the country that was home to the majority of 9/11 hijackers, mind you). Did Republicans give a shit? Of course not. This is because they hate reporters. They get so much mileage out of hating reporters, it’s almost impressive. Why, it’s as if breeding hate and resentment is the only thing they do competently! They hate facts. They hate whistleblowers. They hate the truth. They don’t even like QUESTIONS. How dare you ask a Republican a question? That’s really rude. The president thinks you should be body slammed. If Republican leaders liked answering for shit, they would hold more town halls. Instead, they fuck off back to their home states and huddle up with their donors.

 

Republicans Hate You, Drew Magary, GQ

"War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength." George Orwell, 1984, Spark Notes


These words are the official slogans of the Party, and are inscribed in massive letters on the white pyramid of the Ministry of Truth, as Winston observes in Book One, Chapter I. Because it is introduced so early in the novel, this creed serves as the reader’s first introduction to the idea of doublethink. By weakening the independence and strength of individuals’ minds and forcing them to live in a constant state of propaganda-induced fear, the Party is able to force its subjects to accept anything it decrees, even if it is entirely illogical—for instance, the Ministry of Peace is in charge of waging war, the Ministry of Love is in charge of political torture, and the Ministry of Truth is in charge of doctoring history books to reflect the Party’s ideology.

That the national slogan of Oceania is equally contradictory is an important testament to the power of the Party’s mass campaign of psychological control. In theory, the Party is able to maintain that “War Is Peace” because having a common enemy keeps the people of Oceania united. “Freedom Is Slavery” because, according to the Party, the man who is independent is doomed to fail. By the same token, “Slavery Is Freedom,” because the man subjected to the collective will is free from danger and want. “Ignorance Is Strength” because the inability of the people to recognize these contradictions cements the power of the authoritarian regime.

This is insane...and terrifying.

...and we are all living through a tweet-created, GOP-enabled dystopian nightmare.

This is terrifying as we might be staring down the barrel of our own extinction.

At least there will be no billionaires,..

...or assholes (not that for most, there isn't much of a difference).
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The Great Filter...

Image Source: Gizmodo and originally, Wait, But Why

 

Topics: Astrobiology, Carl Sagan, Climate Change, Drake Equation, Existentialism, Fermi Paradox, Nuclear Power


“The universe is a pretty big place. If it's just us, seems like an awful waste of space.” Carl Sagan

My First Contact scenario doesn't involve Vulcans, warp drive or impossible scenarios: it involves radio transmissions, as communication is a big part of the Drake Equation. Specifically audio, video and digital data (Internet?) of extraterrestrial origin as we would confirm before announcing to the world. Assuming the aliens developed their technology in an oxygen-nitrogen environment, the language we could hear might amount to a lot of "clicking" noises, that mathematicians - specifically specialists in cryptography, and linguists - would dive into deciphering. Eventually after coming up with a Rosetta Stone of syntax, we could translate what would amount to news, drama and sitcoms. Of specific interest might be their political climate and sectarian strife (if any). More particularly, did they successfully translate through their "Great Filter"...

...or, if they did not.
 

*****


I'm a big fan of Jordon Peele's incarnation of The Twilight Zone, particularly the sixth episode: "Six Degrees of Freedom." It is unfortunate that popular show title describes our current political climate.
 

I won't give away the intriguing ending, but Peele has mastered the macabre plot twist of Rod Serling's writing style, and (my opinion) his surreal monologue delivery. It's streaming, so you may have to pay less than you would for a single movie ticket per month to view it. I've enjoyed it andother shows so far, and I get no monetary gain for the endorsement.

"The Great Filter, in the context of the Fermi paradox, is whatever prevents dead matter from undergoing abiogenesis, in time, to expanding lasting life as measured by the Kardashev scale.[1][2] The concept originates in Robin Hanson's argument that the failure to find any extraterrestrial civilizations in the observable universe implies the possibility something is wrong with one or more of the arguments from various scientific disciplines that the appearance of advanced intelligent life is probable; this observation is conceptualized in terms of a "Great Filter" which acts to reduce the great number of sites where intelligent life might arise to the tiny number of intelligent species with advanced civilizations actually observed (currently just one: human).[3] This probability threshold, which could lie behind us (in our past) or in front of us (in our future), might work as a barrier to the evolution of intelligent life, or as a high probability of self-destruction.[1][4] The main counter-intuitive conclusion of this observation is that the easier it was for life to evolve to our stage, the bleaker our future chances probably are.

The idea was first proposed in an online essay titled "The Great Filter - Are We Almost Past It?", written by economist Robin Hanson. The first version was written in August 1996 and the article was last updated on September 15, 1998. Since that time, Hanson's formulation has received recognition in several published sources discussing the Fermi paradox and its implications.

Using extinct civilizations such as Easter Island as models, a study conducted in 2018 posited that climate change induced by "energy intensive" civilizations may prevent sustainability within such civilizations, thus explaining the lack of evidence for intelligent extraterrestrial life.[5]" Source: Wikipedia/The Great Filter

The Great Filter is alluded to in science fiction with or without warp drive: Star Trek described global wars on Earth and the fictional Vulcan that involved their respective nuclear holocausts. For the Vulcans, recovery involved a relentless embrace of logic, or as I recall reading in a Trek novel, "reality-truth." For Earth, it essentially involved accepting help from the Vulcans after the human species was discovered warp capable through a singular genius with a funny name post self-induced Apocalypse, a Deus ex Machina plot device used since publicly performed Greek and Roman plays. We don't have warp drive, but we do have thermonuclear devices poised for Armageddon. We don't have Vulcans, but we once did have the Easter Islanders, just as once we had the Dodo.

I've often encapsulated The Great Filter in my own dictum: "intelligence is its own Entropy." I think when Carl Sagan was alive, the regressive forces we see now denying science, climate change; verifiable facts and reality were well engaged in his day of the original COSMOS. Slowly, shows like COSMOS lost their appeal to Game Shows cum Reality Shows, and as a country we reveled in our distractions, added as channels on cable and Internet multiplied like E. coli. and measles resurgence as well as our grasp of what is real and verifiable. In fact, we seek distractions in gadgets and online machinations in the constant need to fill "horror vacui."

In the east, nothing meant something, particularly in clarity of thought: Mu Shin No Shin - "the mind without mind" or more colloquially, "no mind." As translated from the martial battlefield to artists both martial and objective; and Zen philosophers, it offers a certain clarity that can be attained when not focused on minutiae detail, but accepted reality "as-is" after diligent practice. A practice like karate forms that takes years of repetition, dedication and study. That is the key to mastering anything, from martial arts to science to civics.

The stars are silent. Intelligence may be rare. Vulcans if existing may not be benevolent, and in the myopic attention span of the erect species of which I am member - "wise men"...fleeting in longevity.

We hope we're past The Great Filter. I'm not sure we are.

 

Related links:

The Great Filter Might Be What's Preventing Aliens from Reaching Us,
Joanie Faletto, Curiosity

The Reason We've Never Found Intelligent Life Might be Because We Are Already Going Extinct,
Climate change might be humanity’s "Great Filter." Karla Lant, Futurism

The Great Filter, a possible explanation for the Fermi Paradox – interview with Robin Hanson
Science, Technology, Future

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Relics of Entropy...

 

Topics: Biology, Entropy, Existentialism, Futurism


I've passed all my courses and now have the task of putting my Thesis together. I'm anticipating a successful completion from a good start.

My granddaughter is as well, with a good family (I'm biased) surrounded by a support system of extended friends and close relatives.

I'm understandably concerned by headlines like these:

Up to one million plant and animal species face extinction, many within decades, because of human activities, says the most comprehensive report yet on the state of global ecosystems.

Without drastic action to conserve habitats, the rate of species extinction — already tens to hundreds of times higher than the average across the past ten million years — will only increase, says the analysis. The findings come from a United Nations-backed panel called the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

According to the report, agricultural activities have had the largest impact on ecosystems that people depend on for food, clean water and a stable climate. The loss of species and habitats poses as much a danger to life on Earth as climate change does, says a summary of the work, released on 6 May. [1]

 

*****


Capitalism has generated massive wealth for some, but it’s devastated the planet and has failed to improve human well-being at scale.

Species are going extinct at a rate 1,000 times faster than that of the natural rate over the previous 65 million years (see Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School).

Since 2000, 6 million hectares of primary forest have been lost each year. That’s 14,826,322 acres, or just less than the entire state of West Virginia (see the 2010 assessment by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN).

Even in the U.S., 15% of the population lives below the poverty line. For children under the age of 18, that number increases to 20% (see U.S. Census).

 • The world’s population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050 (see United Nations' projections).

By 2050, my granddaughter will be 31, and I likely a memory to her.

I came of age during the sixties when our Civil Rights leaders became Civil Rights icons and martyrs. I came of age when "duck and cover" drills were the order of the day. I came of age when post Civil Rights, we tried at least to act...civil. Forced busing gave way to De Facto desegregation in the public square in education - until the end of forced busing and re-segregation; malls, sports arenas (especially there) where some modicum of the old "control of black bodies" could be exercised with less bull whip and more paychecks and professional sports contracts.

The seventies would be the last time production kept pace with pay: we've been in a hamster wheel since then, and the gulf between the super rich and everyone else has become an un-crossable chasm. We're more oligarchy than democracy, and the owners would sooner than later transform us into a full dystopian fascistic hell scape than help solve the problems they've created.

The point is, despite all the challenges, I came of age. I lived. I loved. I laughed. I cried. I learned to drive. I married. I had children and they are starting to have children.

It would be lovely for my granddaughter to have a planet on which to have a tea.

Lovelier still for her parents (my children) to become grandparents in my absence on a planet still able to support life and a civilization that could support such an endeavor with minimal environmental impact.

Or...she and I could be relics of entropy, where our ashes will not be discernible from scientist to citizen, layman to philosopher, capitalist to socialist; black to white and prince to pauper. In a blink of an eye on the scale of cosmic time...we would all become irrelevant to an unfeeling universe.

I am again biased. I think my granddaughter (and yours), deserves a little more than that.

 

1. Humans are driving one million species to extinction, Jeff Tollefson, Nature
2. Unless It Changes, Capitalism Will Starve Humanity By 2050, Drew Hansen, Forbes

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Either...Or...

The Mueller Report (CNN.com - read it while you can)


Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, Existentialism, Human Rights, LGBT Rights, Women's Rights


I'll be taking a break for finals, writing my thesis and the birth of our granddaughter. Her entrance to this plane is pending.

For her, it's all hands on deck.

The future belongs to the young, soon born and yet-to-be born. The future is diverse and more tolerant than the Neanderthal mythologized past we're being dragged to. The present is hopefully planning for a future that will be 8.6 billion in 2030 and 9.8 billion in 2050, and the strains on resources that will bring. The present is hopefully planning for a future with a warmer climate, and our strategy towards ameliorating it. The future is being written, with every tweet and malfeasance of a man epitomizing more demon than Christian; more boorish mobster than sophisticated president. He's covered by a complicit evangelical base and a Republican Party that's less diverse, whiter, aging and dying off. Instead of diversifying, they're doubling down on "The Southern Strategy" for one last push for white supremacy, a push that will take the entire country and the world over an existential, unrecoverable cliff.

Either we're a Constitutional, Federal Republic...or, we're not.

This started...on a porch in Philadelphia, Mississippi, a miniscule distances from the site three Civil Rights workers - Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner - were murdered in 1964 for the "crime" (according to the KKK) of registering black voters:

"I still believe the answer to any problem lies with the people. I believe in states' rights. I believe in people doing as much as they can for themselves at the community level and at the private level, and I believe we've distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended in the Constitution to that federal establishment." Ronald Reagan

1964...the year the Civil Rights Act passed. Followed by 1965...the year the Voting Rights Act passed. Three years later, we lost Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy as the Fair Housing Act passed. It was also the year, finally, Richard M. Nixon after Lyndon B. Johnson refused to run for reelection - was elected "law and order" president, running and winning on The Southern Strategy born of racist fear.

The seventies was a loss of innocence with the shame of "losing" the un-winnable Vietnam War, the near impeachment of Nixon, his pardon and his successor getting beaten by a peanut farmer in Plains, Georgia, himself only serving one term due to the Iranian Hostage Crisis. The eighties was muscular, toxic masculinity disguised as action heroes: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis were young then and box office sensations. They were also admittedly as republican as "the gipper." Arnold would become governor of California and his fiscal failures turned what was a large land mass red state to almost reliably blue. After his affair on Maria Shriver, he's redeeming himself as a climate advocate and adversary to the current occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Tom Steyer nor "Auntie Maxine" needs tell us.

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Some caveats and perspective: Secretary Clinton in a Washington Post op ed cautioned a rush to impeachment. The historical memory in this country is deliberately brief, as history nor civics is seldom taught in secondary education. There were Watergate hearings on ABC, CBS and NBC. There was daily education on a president that had just won a landslide reelection - 49 out of 50 states - that didn't need burglary or "plumbers" committing. The case was made to the American people over 28 months, and even after the tapes became public, he STILL had a 24% approval rating among his ardent supporters when it was evident he was going to get impeached in the House and convicted in the Senate by members of his own party. This was the foundation for Roger Ailes to form what would become Fox Propaganda.

Impeachment isn't about conviction: it’s about The Constitution.

We’re either “a nation of laws, and not of men,” or we’re a nation of ONE man.

Either “no one is above the law,” or every elected official can “shoot someone on 5th Avenue” and get away with it.

Impeachment isn't about this president: it’s about the NEXT president.

If THIS one gets away with his clear crimes, every nation can pass information to the candidate they would desire for president as a matter of "diplomacy." No president will ever have to divest from their business if they have one. Jimmy Carter gave up his peanut farm, so he would not violate the Emoluments Clause. No presidential candidate will EVER again show their taxes, and thus open to bribes and manipulation by distant actors. Government "of the people, by the people and for the people" will go from Russian handler to Russian roulette.

We either do this, or we’re not a country: we're a kleptocracy.

Either we're a Constitutional, Federal Republic...or, whatever emerges after this Caligula will not resemble our best self-mythology. It will be too stark, too dark: too dystopian.

For our granddaughter, I must fight until my last breath for her future...because it is hers.
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Near the Levee...

Credit: Mario Tama Getty Images

 

Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming


Related spoken word piece: Near the Levee

We cannot exist as a nation without a basic acceptance of common facts. I can't say "2+2=4" and another "2+2=5" and we BOTH be correct!

Abortion: Let's accept hormonal teenagers are likely to do something a little more than "make out" and pet heavily. They have myriad means of gathering information on the sexual act. We can educate them on birth control and responsible sexual behavior as the Netherlands does. Or, we can try "abstinence only" and get abysmal teen pregnancy rates as many red states do.

Climate Change: A sane republican administration accepting the science might use cap and trade policies to make polluting uncomfortable for manufactures financially. Compliance would be a matter of the bottom-line.

A democratic administration did something: The Paris Agreement was landmark policy, involving "an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance, signed in 2016. The agreement's language was negotiated by representatives of 196 state parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Le Bourget, near Paris, France, and adopted by consensus on 12 December 2015.[4][5] As of March 2019, 195 UNFCCC members have signed the agreement, and 185 have become party to it.[1] The Paris Agreement's long-term goal is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels; and to limit the increase to 1.5 °C, since this would substantially reduce the risks and effects of climate change." They might actually spearhead green technologies, spurring economic and job growth.

We're not at a sane point in our republic now.

The $14 billion network of levees and floodwalls that was built to protect greater New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was a seemingly invincible bulwark against flooding.

But now, 11 months after the Army Corps of Engineers completed one of the largest public works projects in world history, the agency says the system will stop providing adequate protection in as little as four years because of rising sea levels and shrinking levees.

The growing vulnerability of the New Orleans area is forcing the Army Corps to begin assessing repair work, including raising hundreds of miles of levees and floodwalls that form a meandering earth and concrete fortress around the city and its adjacent suburbs.

 

After a $14-Billion Upgrade, New Orleans' Levees Are Sinking, Thomas Frank, Scientific American

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The Insistent Center...

Image Source: Facebook

 

Topics: African Americans, Civics, Existentialism, Extinction


NK Jemisin is an African American author of speculative fiction. She's also the victim of a group of trolls on the Internet referring to themselves as the "sad puppies"/"rabid puppies" because of the lack of Euro-centric main characters in her stories, which for the author IS the point.
 

Sonequa Martin-Green, lead on the CBS All Access Star Trek: Discovery was vilified by the same alt-right, racists that could not see anyone other than the clone of Buck Rogers, James T. Kirk, Jean Luc Picard: White Anglo Saxon Protestant, Cisgender (WASP-C)  males as the central "hero" figure and ruminations of fictional "white genocide."

A man who earned his law degree, passed the (ironically) bar and served the nation as Attorney General for the George H.W. Bush administration was also the architect of pardons for key figures in the Iran-Contra Scandal. His 19-page unsolicited memo/job solicitation born of the effectiveness of Rupert Murdoch propaganda cum Fox "News" as he likely regularly consumed that informed his treatise. He was on point yesterday as he dusted off the 80's play book to try the formula on an international audience viewing on cable, Internet and social media. He was immediately labeled a pitiful hack, a caricature of a country bumpkin lawyer and NOT the nation's attorney, but the current president's* Roy Cohn.

William Barr lied. His boss's staff lied. His boss is a prolific liar, telling 8,718 as tabulated January of this year. The Mueller Report - redacted or not - only confirms what we already know and that the hypocrisy of the white evangelical right rises to the stench of dung hills. The institution is the white-washed sepulcher of white nationalism. It is the spur of the exodus with organized religion in the US.

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

There are TEN attempts to obstruct justice in the report. Despite lies told to Mueller by his then deputy press secretary  Sarah Sanders, despite the fact the report did NOT exonerate him, his minions, his staff, his fascist cult base will claim total exoneration, because facts and fascism are not on speaking terms. They never have been.

GONE are the halcyon days of Grey Poupon and Tan Suit scandals breathlessly pursued by Sean Hannity et al. President Obama DID golf during his presidency as did his WASP-C predecessors, but his current successor has taken golfing to steroidal levels, greeted by the same right wing propaganda echo chamber...with crickets.

All these intersect in Venn diagram fashion of centrality: of a 400-year insistence that the stories told about our country has one hue, one type of damsel in distress and one repeating, ad nausem conclusion: the hero is white, heteronormal.

And that hero has to be white because our concepts of god is a white male in the sky, judging and damning every aspect of our existence. Therefore the president in tan suit with Melanin is an aberration from the mental ideal we've been conditioned to respect and accept.

Let me be blunt:

1. The POTUS is a crook. As David Frum points out, it may be a choice of the current presidency*, or rule of law.

2. He is a racist. He doesn't have to wear a swastika; a Klan hood or quote chapter and verse of Mein Kamph. As George Will opined, he's barely on speaking terms with the English language. He's an admitted nationalist. He's tweeted against a sitting congresswoman and Somali immigrant that has increased death threats against her. He's too cowardly to do his own violence, but he's pyromaniac enough to light the fire and run.

3. The AG is a hack and a liar.

We’re not a democratic republic; not even an oligarchy or kleptocracy. We’re a kakistocracy: “government under the control of a nation's worst or least-qualified citizens.”

This is what Rome looked like before it fell.

This is what - for our own survival - we have to fix.
 
Gil Scott-Heron: B-Movie, Genius Lyrics (both insightful analysis and prophecy).
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Sunshine Fascism...

Source: Ecosia Images


Topics: Civics, Existentialism, History, Politics


"We are a people of different religions, but we are one. Which faith conquers the other is not the question; rather, the question is whether Christianity stands or falls... We tolerate no one in our ranks who attacks the ideas of Christianity … in fact our movement is Christian. We are filled with a desire for Catholics and Protestants to discover one another in the deep distress of our own people." (1928) Wikiquote: Religious views of Adolf Hitler

 

*****


Fascism is a movement that promotes the idea of a forcibly monolithic, regimented nation under the control of an autocratic ruler. The word fascism comes from fascio, the Italian word for bundle, which in this case represents bundles of people. Its origins go back to Ancient Rome, when the fasces was a bundle of wood with an ax head, carried by leaders.

On March 23, 1919, the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento — a group that grew out of a number of earlier movements that had also used the image of the fascio in their names — met for the first time in Piazza San Sepolcro in Milan. At this rally, Mussolini said that membership in the new group “commits all fascists to sabotaging the candidacies of the neutralists of all parties by any means necessary.”

“Mussolini thought that democracy was a failed system. He thought that liberty of expression and liberty of parties was a sham, and that fascism would organize people under state power,” Ben-Ghiat says. “Their idea was you would be freer because you wouldn't have any class consciousness. You’re just supposed to worship the nation. It’s nation over class.”

The corollary of that belief was the idea that anything that might impede national unity had to be gotten rid of, and violently. In fact, violence was seen as beneficial to society.

And “society” was not a loosely defined idea. Rather, Mussolini and those who came after him had very specific ideas about who got to be part of the nation. It followed that those who did not fit the mold were seen as disruptive to that unity, and thus subject to violence.

To set the tone for a dystopian movie, one typically gets a noir treatment: lighting is dark, air is misty; camera angles are stark and weather is typically overcast. The decision to "go glum" is likely due to only having a few hours to make their point and resolve any plot twists to the denouement and conclusion. An in-your-face theatrical release might involve swastikas, goose stepping and nostalgic, feel-good faux patriotism.

Even though there have been decidedly darker days under authoritarian regimes, every day looks like any other day when ruled by fascism. There are for example, photos of Hitler on holiday at his villa in Bavaria. It looked sunny; he (for a monster) looked happy.

Democracy depends on a shared set of facts that can be debated in discussed either in a court, on a congressional floor or near a coffee machine at work. It's affable and seeks a happy medium: no one gets everything they desire, but it does require compromise.

Fascism is nothing at all like that. Like George Orwell's famous novel, "1984," fascism requires and demands power for its own sake. It wants what it wants for the sake of wanting. History has no meaning to it at all. Logic and reason have no appeal or sway in people who traffic in "alternative facts" or its Karl Rove precursor: "created realities."

- It is why you can justify the outright theft of land from First Nations' peoples and slaughter them at will for "Manifest Destiny."

- It is why you can have the transatlantic slave trade with no moral or monetary compensation (reparations) to its African Diaspora descendants.

- It is why they demonize people of color as "lazy, shiftless, moochers and cheats" on all things, particularly academic, and now the SAT college scandal has blown up the previous myth of meritocracy in their faces that they were desperate to maintain for credentials and supremacy. 

- It is why as presidential Manchurian Candidate, can say "WikiLeaks! I love WikiLeaks," and on the arrest of Julian Assange can say with a straight, orange face "I know nothing about WikiLeaks."

- It is why the same can incite violence of his followers and deny doing so in the same breath.

- It is why the Attorney General can send an unsolicited 19 page memo campaigning for a job to essentially not be the top cop, but the president's personal Roy Cohn and slow walk the Mueller Report to Congress and the public.

- It is why we insist on telling ourselves comforting fables about American benevolence; about being Winthrop's "shining city on a hill" (who himself had no stomach for "the other") so as to not face our own national depravity...

...our own foundation of racism, sexism, homophobia, genocide and fascism.

Giovanni Gentile (not Mussolini) coined the phrase "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power." But this is not what access media conglomerates will say about it. They'll pretend there is still a middle ground that only requires compromise and clever arguments. They will still opine for a former, mythological days where things worked if only (typically) democrats gave concessions to republicans' demands.

During the Great Depression, Marine Major General Smedley Butler narced on what was called the Business Plot to overthrow Franklin D. Roosevelt and install Butler as a dictator compliant to corporate interests. He wrote the treatise "War is a Racket."

There are quite a few American billionaire families with Nazis ties, starting with Ford, GM, Chrysler, IBM, and JP Morgan Chase. The Koch’s father did business with the Nazis and Russians. The Bush’s and Kennedy’s (Prescott and Papa Joe) were Nazi sympathizers.

Ayn Rand provided the fictional cover: behind every massive fortune, there are likely crimes.

 

*****


To set the tone for a dystopian movie, one typically gets a noir treatment: lighting is dark, air is misty; camera angles are stark and weather is typically overcast.

 

When you tell yourself comforting lies, a liar may ascend to power.


Fascism like weather can change its environs and display its power on blithe, sunny days.

 

Related link:

More Than A Dozen European Billionaires—Linked To BMW, L’Oréal, Bosch—Have Families With Past Nazi Ties
Madeline Berg, Forbes Magazine

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AI, Control and Turing...

Image Source: Comic Book dot com - Star Trek


Topics: Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, Existentialism, Star Trek


If you're fan enough as I am to pay for the CBS streaming service (it has some benefits: Young Sheldon and the umpteenth reboot of The Twilight Zone hosted by Oscar winner Jordan Peele), the AI in Starfleet's "Control" looks an awful lot like...The Borg. I've enjoyed the latest iteration immensely, and I'm rooting for at least a season 3.

There's already speculation on Screen Rant that this might be some sort of galactic "butterfly effect." Discovery has taken some license with my previous innocence even before Section 31: we're obviously not "the good guys" with phasers, technobabble and karate chops as I once thought.

That of course has been the nature of speculative fiction since Mary Shelley penned Frankenstein: that playing God, humanity would manage to create something that just might kill us. Various objects from nuclear power to climate change has taken on this personification. I've often wondered if intelligence is its own Entropy. Whole worlds above us might be getting along just fine without a single invention of language, science, tools, cities or spaceflight, animal species living and dying without anything more than their instinct, hunger and the inbred need to procreate unless a meteor sends them into extinction. Homo sapien or homo stultus...

It is the Greek word mimesis we translate to mean "imitate" but can actually be more accurately said as "re-presentation." It is the Plato-Aristotle origin of the colloquial phrase "art imitates life."

Re-presented for your consumption and contemplation:

Yoshua Bengio is one of three computer scientists who last week shared the US$1-million A. M. Turing award — one of the field’s top prizes.

The three artificial-intelligence (AI) researchers are regarded as the founders of deep learning, the technique that combines large amounts of data with many-layered artificial neural networks, which are inspired by the brain. They received the award for making deep neural networks a “critical component of computing”.

The other two Turing winners, Geoff Hinton and Yann LeCun, work for Google and Facebook, respectively; Bengio, who is at the University of Montreal, is one of the few recognized gurus of machine learning to have stayed in academia full time.

But alongside his research, Bengio, who is also scientific director of the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA), has raised concerns about the possible risks from misuse of technology. In December, he presented a set of ethical guidelines for AI called the Montreal declaration at the Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) meeting in the city.

Do you see a lot of companies or states using AI irresponsibly?

There is a lot of this, and there could be a lot more, so we have to raise flags before bad things happen. A lot of what is most concerning is not happening in broad daylight. It’s happening in military labs, in security organizations, in private companies providing services to governments or the police.

What are some examples?

Killer drones are a big concern. There is a moral question, and a security question. Another example is surveillance — which you could argue has potential positive benefits. But the dangers of abuse, especially by authoritarian governments, are very real. Essentially, AI is a tool that can be used by those in power to keep that power, and to increase it.

AI pioneer: ‘The dangers of abuse are very real’
Yoshua Bengio, winner of the prestigious Turing award for his work on deep learning, is establishing international guidelines for the ethical use of AI.
Davide Castelvecchi, Nature

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Antithesis of Wisdom...

 

Topics: Biology, Civics, Climate Change, Existentialism, Entropy, Mars, Politics


Chimpanzees look up to those they consider to be more prestigious, echoing the way that young people admire celebrities such as David Beckham and Cheryl Cole, according to a new study. Researchers found that apes copy the actions of those they consider to have high status within their group.

Professor Whiten commented, “Teenagers look to pop stars as social models, copying their clothing, mannerisms and speech. Adults are inspired by prominent members of their society, such as successful professionals. Our study shows that chimpanzees are similarly selective in their choice of trend setters.” [1]

 

*****


Abstract

Humans follow the example of prestigious, high-status individuals much more readily than that of others, such as when we copy the behavior of village elders, community leaders, or celebrities. This tendency has been declared uniquely human, yet remains untested in other species. Experimental studies of animal learning have typically focused on the learning mechanism rather than on social issues, such as who learns from whom. The latter, however, is essential to understanding how habits spread. Here we report that when given opportunities to watch alternative solutions to a foraging problem performed by two different models of their own species, chimpanzees preferentially copy the method shown by the older, higher-ranking individual with a prior track-record of success. Since both solutions were equally difficult, shown an equal number of times by each model and resulted in equal rewards, we interpret this outcome as evidence that the preferred model in each of the two groups tested enjoyed a significant degree of prestige in terms of whose example other chimpanzees chose to follow. Such prestige-based cultural transmission is a phenomenon shared with our own species. If similar biases operate in wild animal populations, the adoption of culturally transmitted innovations may be significantly shaped by the characteristics of performers. [2]

 

*****


Thwaites glacier in West Antarctica is often referred to as the "Doomsday glacier" because of its sheer size and position as "'backstop' for four other glaciers which holds an additional 10-13 feet of sea level rise." [3] Add the two feet of sea level Thwaites holds and Florida may have a little more to fear than the denials of their republican senators on the impact of climate change.

I've used the term fascism before, not because it's powerful but because it's stupid. The basis of its appeal is fear: fear of the "other," fear of the future, fear particularly of a supposed loss of birth numbers, therefore future voters and numerical power. So-called "white" supremacy has always been a math game of bad algebra and pure ignorance.

But it does not benefit the crowd proudly without Melanin, intellect and possessing MAGA hats: the celebrity chimps with all the bananas above them they worship use the faux demarcation points of politically constructed cultural differences to rob blind the very people that become their shock troops. Rigging elections is not beneath the 1% simians, as they've motivated their rubes that their "white" team won, despite the lack of sharing of spoils after said rigging, Russian interference or not. Socialism is thrown up as demon while demons rob rubes. They ask for "trick-down" bananas" and get feces. Smoking causing cancer must be denied. Humans causing climate impact MUST be denied until the last drop of oil; the last fracking of methane. Then, the royal chimpanzees will wall themselves up as sea levels rise, soundproof beyond "weeping and gnashing of teeth." They'll have extra bananas to live on as the rest of the planet starves. Eventually, their impressive supplies will run out. Perhaps they'll resort to the cannibalism as the Jamestown colonists did in desperation, eating their own children first. Eventually they will see their last sunrise in splendid, decaying mansions atop a canopy of the forest they razed. Currently, their high potentate Orange Orangutan cannot discriminate "orange" and "origin"; that his own father was born in the Bronx and not the Germany and thinks windmills causes cancer.

Homo sapiens, (Latin: “wise man”) the species to which all modern human beings belong. Homo sapiens is one of several species grouped into the genus Homo, but it is the only one that is not extinct. [YET] See also human evolution. Source: Britannica

Entropy - the measure of a system's thermal energy per unit temperature that is unavailable for doing useful work. Because work is obtained from ordered molecular motion, the amount of entropy is also a measure of the molecular disorder, or randomness, of a system. Encyclopedia Britannica

Having stupid citizens also serves a more ‘noble’ purpose. Although most of us want to be treated as intelligent beings, it is also in the interest of ruling parties – be they political or religious – to have an overall stupid population, dumb enough to make them controllable. Education and knowledge are being pushed aside in favour of technical training. Governments are more interested in a highly-skilled labour force than in critical and intelligent citizens. The media feed the population with ready-made entertainment and information, thus forming people’s minds according to what is preferable for the overall functioning of society. Zoereei, Homo stultus

Mars may have been a living world once. We still study it. We wish to terraform it. Mars as a world still takes 687 days to complete its year. It will take 365.25 days for Earth to complete its year...whether we're here, or not.
 

Homo Stultus - foolish man, stupid man: the chimps are exonerated.

1. Chimpanzee trend-setters: New study shows that chimps 'ape' the prestigious, University of St. Andrews, 2010, Phys.org
2. Prestige Affects Cultural Learning in Chimpanzees, Victoria Horner, Darby Proctor, Kristin E. Bonnie, Andrew Whiten, Frans B. M. de Waal, PLOS Journal
3. A glacier the size of Florida is on track to change the course of human civilization. Pakalolo, Daily Kos

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