existentialism (106)

Dunning-Kruger Death Cult...

 

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

In a speech 40 years ago to a group of conservative preachers, Heritage Foundation founder Paul Weyrich said, “Now many of our Christians have what I call the ‘goo-goo syndrome.’ Good government. They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now.

“As a matter of fact,” he continued, “our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

Weyrich’s idea continues to animate the GOP today. In dismissing a Democratic push for reforms, including vote-by-mail, same-day registration, and early voting to assist state-run elections in the midst of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, Donald Trump opined, “They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

Starting with Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” in 1968, through Weyrich’s candid acknowledgment in 1980, to Donald Trump’s numerous rants, the GOP has consistently stood against reasonable voter registration laws and fair and equitable access to the polls — because they know they lose in a battle of ideas.

Wake up, folks: the campaign against democracy continues

Bill Dwyer, Oak Park, and River Forest Letters to the Editor, Opinion: Wednesday Journal
November 18, 2020, Updated February 11, 2021

The modern "gang of Putin" is Paul Weyrich's wet dream. There is a through-line from Barry Goldwater to Weyrich, Weyrich to Nixon, Nixon to Reagan, Reagan to Orange Satan. Goldwater got some disingenuous ads against him, painting him as crazy enough to start a thermonuclear war. Lyndon Baines Johnson won 486 electoral votes to Goldwater's 52. It was then Goldwater, years before Watergate, coined "you've got to hunt where the ducks are." The ducks were the disaffected southern Dixiecrats in deep depression because Civil Rights and Voting Rights from the US Constitution were being extended to African Americans. When you have privilege, equal justice seems like persecution. Privilege is a kind of willful blindness. For white supremacist power, party insiders weren't, and aren't, willing to remove the scales.

Former President George W. Bush indict(ed) the January 6, 2021, attempted coup in his remarks at the 20-year anniversary observance of 9/11. Bush, however, appointed federal judges during his tenure in a nod to Goldwater, Weyrich, and Nixon's "Southern Strategy." George W. Bush signed the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act when it was a bipartisan affair: it is now seen as existential for Democrats, and disposable for Republicans. The 2000 election was controversial: Bush won the electoral college and lost the popular vote, the second Republican presidential candidate to do so in this century. His party's nominees have lost the popular vote in seven out of eight presidential elections, and, by their admission, they are demographically shrinking. Bush's defense attorneys in Florida were Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, three of five judges appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote. The Patriot Act was seen as government overreach into civil liberties and birthed a lot of blogs on the left as mainstream media ignored it for access journalism. We're reeling from the expense of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, one too long in duration, and the other added via obfuscation. He may not have been as extreme as we currently see his party exhibiting, but he did inadvertently till the soil of institutional doubt.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given its colored people a bad check, a check that has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and security of justice. We have also come to his hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., "I Have A Dream," August 28, 1963

"The Wages of Whiteness" a book by David R. Roediger I use to juxtapose the check America is still trying to cash with African Americans without sufficient funds. The wage of this whiteness was supposed to have sufficiency in perpetuity. All it needed were pariahs that they could blame for any societal faux pas: the economy and welfare were the faults of "young bucks," and "welfare queens," not oligarchs and tax cheats. We were patriotic and resolute until Iran-Contra occurred, flooding weapons to the Contras, and drugs to Compton. Culture wars were always the right's "whitewashed sepulchers," dead tombs with the façade of rose-covered balconies, and rainbow farts out of unicorns. The pariah label was extended to all BIPOC, and karma is making them the majority by 2042. The check for the balance of supremacy is draining inexorably from the church bank account of the whitewashed sepulcher.

Texas is a laboratory for instigating "The Handmaid's Tale." Second Amendment rights trumps (pun intended) bodily autonomy. South Dakota's governor always looks high, giving the middle finger to masks and Lakota sacred grounds on the 4th of July during the alpha phase of the pandemic, and Florida's governor has the well-earned nickname "Death Santis" that will stick in his bid for re-election, and higher office. A heat map of COVID hotspots in California is almost an exact replica of the electoral areas that started the California recall. You can replicate that map in red states versus blue states. The entire party has devolved into a Dunning-Kruger death cult.

Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments, Justin Kruger and David Dunning, Cornell University

Abstract

People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. The authors suggest that this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it. Across 4 studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. Although their test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd. Several analyses linked this miscalibration to deficits in metacognitive skill, or the capacity to distinguish accuracy from error. Paradoxically, improving the skills of participants, and thus increasing their metacognitive competence, helped them recognize the limitations of their abilities.

After Watergate, the right deliberately designed an echo chamber to tell itself everything they wanted to hear: good, not bad, propaganda not history, fiction, not reality. Karl Rove told reporter Ron Suskind: "The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' [...] 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors...and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'" There is a district in Texas that every two years, consciously reelects Louie Gohmert to the US House of Representatives, the "disparage my asparagus" former judge, and lawyer. Nonplussed initially, Former Attorney General Eric Holder responded with the sickest burn a year later in 2014: "good luck with your asparagus."

North Carolina US Republican Representative Madison Cawthorne crashed a school board meeting in Henderson, NC to troll Governor Roy Cooper about masks. Key point: he wasn't there. Couple that with his abysmal grades the one year he attended college, at this point, I cannot take him, or the rest of his party seriously. I may not have been a fan of Ronald Reagan, but Reaganism stood for something; Trumpism is sadistic Seinfeld. They're all white grievance minstrels, performance artists, professional trolls, and nihilists. "Owning the libs" is all they live for. The asylum inmates running for office currently are mean-girl teenagers running on the population, and likes of their Instagram and Twitter accounts. Their platform is an empty wagon: making a lot of noise, and doing nothing.

"Idiocracy" did not take 500 years of political Entropy: it just took the desperation of a party that sees its power waning, and is clinging to power at all cost, even if that wage paid is the republic.

“The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
― Bertrand Russell

 

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The Eye of Horus...

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The Eye of Providence, Wikipedia. Not a conspiracy theorist, but greed, not mutual survival by cooperation, is how we got where we are.

Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming, Human Rights, Politics

Note: Because certain states are tied umbilically to coal, fossil fuels, and natural gas, this is a quandary. The same industry that's known about this problem since 1979 (my senior year in high school) hired the same law firms that obfuscated the risk of lung cancer to so many Americans, one of them, my father, whose death was from the accumulated damage to his lungs from a lifetime of smoking. Washington lobbyists are there to push an agenda for the companies they represent that have an influence on Capitol Hill lawmakers. They have a seat at the Paris Climate Accords because the goal of Capitalism is to maximize profits, sadly, at the sacrifice of the ground under our feet.

“Only when the last tree has been cut down, the last fish been caught, and the last stream poisoned, will we realize we cannot eat money.”

― Cree Indian Prophecy

The majority of the planet’s fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground if the world wants even half a chance—literally—at meeting its most ambitious climate targets.

A new study published yesterday in the journal Nature found that 60 percent of oil and natural gas, and a whopping 90 percent of coal, must remain unextracted and unused between now and 2050 in order for the world to have at least a 50 percent shot at limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

These results are broadly consistent with the findings of numerous recent reports, from the United Nations, the International Energy Agency, and others, which have “all provided evidence that dramatic cuts in fossil fuel production are required immediately in order to move towards limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees,” said Dan Welsby, a researcher at University College London and lead author of the study, at a press conference announcing the results.

Under the Paris climate agreement, nations are working to keep global temperatures within 2 C of their preindustrial levels, and within 1.5 C if at all possible. Research suggests that the effects of climate change—melting ice, rising seas, more extreme weather, and so on—will be worse at 2 C than at 1.5 C, and worse still at higher temperatures. These targets are an attempt to limit the consequences of global warming as much as possible.

Yet studies increasingly suggest that the 1.5 C target is looming closer and closer.

The world has already warmed by more than a degree Celsius since the start of the industrial era, which began about 150 years ago. A landmark U.N. report on climate change, released last month by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warned that the 1.5 C mark could be reached within two decades.

To have even a 50 percent chance of meeting the target, the U.N. report suggests, the world can emit only about 460 billion metric tons of additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That’s another 12 years or so of emissions at the rate at which the world is currently going.

That means global carbon emissions need to fall sharply, and immediately, in order to meet the goal.

Abandoning 60 Percent of Global Oil and Gas Might Limit Warming to 1.5 C, Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American

 

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Stupidity Exhaustion...

 

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

 

"Against stupidity, the very gods themselves contend in vain." Friedrich Schiller

 

“Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity, we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed – in such moments, the stupid person even becomes critical – and when facts are irrefutable, they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this, the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for when dealing with a stupid person than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.”

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

 

One of the Republican candidates in the obtuse recall election of Gavin Newsome, Larry Elder, admitted he didn't have the temperament to be Governor: he is the frontrunner due to name recognition as a conservative talk show host. “If someone tells you who they are the first time, believe them.” Dr. Maya Angelou. This is 2016 redux: even if he loses (which, for California's sake, I hope he does), he's getting absolutely FREE publicity. Flattery and narcissism gave us four years of incompetence, greater than 600,000 dead Americans, and dysfunctional, dystopian governance. Elder isn't stupid: he has a Juris doctorate. He's apparently violent, brandishing a weapon to threaten his ex-fiancé (smart woman). He is a callous opportunist who, like his orange muse, doesn't care about the damage his decisions would have on his state if he were to win the governorship. He would copy the stupidity of Greg Abbott, trying to block voters that look like him, prohibit mask, and vaccine mandates, open beaches to offshore drilling, and revoke any environmental protections. The current exodus from California would be put on steroids.

 

We've had four years of "sweeping the forest" to manage climate change, drinking bleach, or shining flashlights up our rectums to find the COVID, and now, ivermectin instead of vaccines, deworming, instead of leeches and swamp roots, perhaps? There are fires burning acres in California, flooding in New York subways, Philly streets, and tornadoes in New Jersey. After Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ida came sixteen years to the DAY, and the most consequential nation that could do something about climate change did NOTHING.

 

In other words, we have serious problems to consider that will ensure the survival of the human species and life on THIS planet. Ignoring climate change has only exacerbated its effects. We've ignored it since 1979 when the fossil fuels industry knew about the effects of their product. Their action was to hire the same law firms that obfuscated the effects of cigarette smoking. Instead of terraforming Mars, we should try terraforming Earth.

 

Neither did Texas remotely think about deputizing citizens to narc on women who might want to get a Constitutionally protected right to abortion due to incest, sexual assault, or the mother's health and zygote being compromised. "Deputizing citizens" means anyone on planet Earth getting $10,000 for suing doctors, nurses, clinics, partners, relatives, Uber drivers. "Deputizing citizens" is what this nation did to catch fugitive slaves. What if a blue state made it a crime to own a firearm? The 5-4 precedent made "the rule of law" in a nation that used to pride itself on that oxymoronic. How is this the common good? How is this E Pluribus Unum? The Republic of Texas, after midnight Tuesday, started looking like the Republic of Gilead. Flights out to relocate women should be arranged with the same urgency we evacuated Afghanistan. Athletic events, sports, tourism will take a hit. No one visited Chile during the rule of Augusto Pinochet, nor are few interested in traveling to North Korea to visit Kim Jong Un. Assholes aren't good for economies.

 

The state of Texas Republicans did not think twice about restricting voting rights for BIPOC: black, indigenous, people of color, the young, the aged, the invalid. A sign at the border on IH-10: "drive friendly, the Texas way" should likely receive an edit. They follow Florida in COVID-19 caseloads, and their hospitals are overflowing. The priority of the "family values" party is power, not babies or democracy.

 

There is exhaustion dealing with stupid people. By stupid, I do mean they fall into two camps: one is callously ambitious, saying what "plays to the crowd" for the advantage of seizing power. But like the dog that catches the car or Wil E. Coyote catches the Road Runner, they don't quite know what to do with the goal once it's attained. In other words, the chase was all that mattered. The other camp is the most terrifying: the Dunning-Kruger cultists, or people so convinced of their "greatness," so enamored with their superiority; you'd have a better chance of lecturing to a canyon; stone walls absorb more information. D-Ks cannot be rationalized with; D-Ks cannot be convinced. They will wear you down by a consistent drumbeat of drivel. It doesn't have to make sense, and that's the point!

 

Editorial boards used to exist in newspapers once read widely. They still do, but the advent of social media diminished their powers. Editors would peruse your words for grammar, diction, paragraph length, and LOGIC. It was an honor to be published in "letters to the editor" and a means to build up your writer's clips in the old school.

 

Social media has no editorial board, except for AI that applies moribund rules that make absolutely no sense (case-in-point: the septuagenarian Twitter adolescent that got his privileges revoked after so much damage and misinformation DROPPED 73% when his accounts were revoked). The more outrageous, the more misspelled it was; it didn't matter as long as it goes "viral," which wasn't a thing before the medium.

 

An entire party has emerged from the comment section of Facebook posts. "Owning the libs" is the only organizing ethos. Conservative intellectuals like Bill Krystal, Mike Lofgren, and George Will left the party that did not get better with the advent of Sarah Palin. A race-to-the-bottom led to the Chief Executive of incompetence and the governors of Texas and Florida cloning his ghoulish body count. They are speaking to the Dunning-Kruger, mask fighting, vaccine, and science-denying crowd. They are racing for the brass ring of dumbed down. Their orange, sandaled Golden Calf spoke to the Dunning-Kruger crowd because he IS them.

 

Trolls, like gremlins, should not be fed after midnight. That, unfortunately, happened in Texas. They have awakened a sleeping giant of women voters.

 

The 2018 tsunami continues in 2022, 2024, and perhaps, saves a republic.

 

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Critical Thinking...

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Damien G Jackaman, Facebook

 

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

 

A statement by Michael Scriven & Richard Paul, presented at the 8th Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking and Education Reform, Summer 1987.

 

Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness.

 

The Foundation For Critical Thinking: Defining Critical Thinking

 

Matthew Taylor Coleman, 40, is charged with two counts of foreign murder of a United States national in the slaying of his 2-year-old son and 10-month-old daughter. He is accused of shooting them with a spearfishing gun on Monday in Rosarito — a beach community 30 minutes south of Tijuana, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

 

Coleman runs the Lovewater Surf Co., a surfing school based in Santa Barbara, and is an alumnus of Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, according to the company’s website.

 

Coleman told FBI agents he killed his children by shooting a spear into their chests, explaining that he had been “enlightened by QAnon and Illuminati conspiracy theories” and “believed he was saving the world from monsters,” according to an affidavit in support of the complaint.

 

Santa Barbara surfer dad ‘enlightened by QAnon’ to kill his kids, feds say, Wendy Fry, San Diego Union-Tribune

 

Then, there was this: A fraternity brother sent me a Messenger video: "The Vaccine Itself is Dangerous! Please listen." The word vaccine was spelled with "V (o_9) cc," or an emoji. That makes it legit, right?

 

My response: "I’ve had the vaccine, and so has my family. I’m not magnetic, I don’t have a chip inside of me (except Sun Chip Garden Salsa). As a doctoral student, I have to take and pass EIGHT safely classes annually, specifically now centered on COVID-19 to work in my research facility. I’m not going to listen to this brother, respectfully."

 

His qualifier for the videographer? She was a young lady he met in passing, whom he found to be very attractive. "No sir I'm not taking anyone's word and I'm not taking anyone's vaccine, my brother from another mother. And, if your job requires it, I think they're infringing on your civil liberties. But I say this again my brother, know exactly what you have put in your body."

 

I pointed out he didn't know the ingredients of what he eats in a restaurant. He retorted he did, and it was a fellow frat that revealed his recipe secrets. He, of course, left out the fact that there are other restaurants ON THE PLANET he's probably patronized, and every chef in every restaurant is not going to be that forthcoming.

 

Me: "Do you have a stop sign or a speed limit on your street? Ever heard of 'no shirt, no shoes, no service?' How did those things NOT violate your 'civil liberties?' The only people I encounter that know nothing about civil liberties, or civics are libertarians. Fun fact: there aren’t any countries that follow libertarian philosophy. There might be a good reason why."

 

That was the end of it. I blocked him. I guess I'll see him at the convention (maybe).

 

From medical professionals being threatened by parents that somehow think "freedom" (rhymes with "free dumb") is more important than keeping their kids from being intubated or dying, to my fraternity brother accepting info from a pretty passing face, as a nation, we're bereft not only in civics but critical thinking. We're at the end of a fifty-year campaign of gaslighting that started with the 1971 Powell memo. Summarized excellently by Thom Hartmann, it's a corporate reaction to Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring," DDT, and avoiding environmental catastrophe, leading to cigarettes-not-causing-lung-cancer disinformation, continued with fossil fuel industry obfuscations on climate change since the 1970s; launched 10 years later by Ronald Reagan with his famous "government is the problem" inauguration speech, culminating in the current "American Carnage" we're all living through. We've gotten used to lying to ourselves: our nation's full history with all its brutality, mistakes, scars, and being lied to. We're all primed to likely take advice from a pretty stranger passing in a stairwell that you might want to date or a social media post that conforms and confirms your internal biases.

 

The abject stupidity of this moment is by design; it does not lead to a stable republic.

 

"One of the things taken out of the curriculum was civics," Zappa went on to explain. "Civics was a class that used to be required before you could graduate from high school. You were taught what was in the U.S. Constitution. And after all the student rebellions in the Sixties, civics was banished from the student curriculum and was replaced by something called social studies. Here we live in a country that has a fabulous constitution and all these guarantees, a contract between the citizens and the government – nobody knows what's in it. And so, if you don't know what your rights are, how can you stand up for them? And furthermore, if you don't know what's in the document, how can you care if someone is shredding it?"

 

"Notes From the Dangerous Kitchen," a review and a quote from Frank Zappa, Critics at Large

 

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On Fire...

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Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming</span>

The hundreds of climate experts who compiled the mammoth new climate report released today by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had to work under unprecedented pandemic conditions. At vast meetings forced online, scientists wrestled with how to convey the extent of the global crisis and the urgent need to act. It was uncanny to see “the echoes of one crisis in another,” says Claudia Tebaldi, a climate scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and one of the authors of the report.

The report paints an alarming picture but emphasizes there is still time for swift action to mitigate the worst of the projected impacts of climate change. Current average warming is now estimated at 1.1°C compared to preindustrial records, a revision based on improved methods and data that adds 0.1°C to previous estimates. Under every emissions scenario explored by the report, average warming of 1.5°C—a major target of the Paris climate accord—will very likely be reached within the next 20 years.</em>

That timetable “underscores a sense of urgency for immediate and decisive action by every country, especially the major economies,” says Jane Lubchenco, deputy director for climate and the environment at the White House ​Office of Science and Technology Policy. “This is a critical decade for keeping the 1.5°C targets within reach.” And the projections mean countries should come to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, scheduled for November, with the most “aggressive, ambitious” targets possible, she says.

Climate change ‘unequivocal’ and ‘unprecedented,’ says new U.N. report, Cathleen O'Grady, Science Magazine

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Reckoning, or Ragnarok...

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, COVID-19, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

 

I read Mary Trump's book "Too Much, and Never Enough," feeling a chill when in the epilogue she predicted: "my uncle is going to get a lot of people killed." Realize, when those words were typed on presumably her laptop, she, and all of us were not wearing masks, washing hands, or standing six feet from each other in public places. Our garden-variety doomsday centered on mushroom clouds, and nuclear codes. I have preordered "Reckoning."

 

The fetishization of guns in America, the violence in popular entertainment, online and streaming, the rationalization of every gory and gruesome mass killing has left the public numb, and conditioned to death on a massive scale. It is no wonder we're so nonchalant about the Coronavirus: "they probably had to die of something" -- this is systemic sadism.

 

Governor Asa Hutchinson in Arkansas looked so nonplussed at the lectern as he tried to explain to his constituents that he had been wrong to sign an anti-mask executive order, that he was beyond just "owning the libs." With the Delta variant, and Delta plus up to bat in South Korea, conditions on the ground had decisively changed. The fact that they were shouting the latest conspiracy theories gleaned from the Internet shouldn't have surprised him: he was the source of their original gaslighting. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey admitted the unvaccinated are making the pandemic more prolonged, and worse, without a shred of guilt at her previous anti-mask stance, or irony. Leave it to Death Santis to double-down, despite falling poll numbers. His go-to stance: attack Biden, pivot to brown migrants on the border; hope for racism. He's really using that Harvard law degree.

 

You can't have reparations without a reckoning.

 

According to Jacqueline Battalora, MD, JD, in "Birth of a White Nation: The Invention of White People and Its Relevance Today," white people became an official thing in America in 1681. Dr. Gerald Horne makes similar points in his book "Race to Revolution: The U.S. and Cuba during Slavery and Jim Crow." Prior to this legislative fiat, Europeans knew each other by their home nations, in essence, their tribes. The European continent was soaked in the blood, not of Moors, but other Europeans. America organized American society as "us," and "them," the civilized, and the savages, the "correct" ethos to enslave the kidnapped, and genocide the native. It's the perfect crime that has turned a profit for a small family of the wealthy for four centuries, the "vast sucking sound," to coin a phrase from Ross Perot. All they have to do is keep us at each other's throats. We now have the pejorative “RINOs,” and “DINOs,” when an earlier descriptor labeled such politicians “moderates.” There were litmus tests of loyalty to tribes driven by cults of personality, but tribesmen didn't make laws, moderates did. It’s how things got done, or euphemistically “how the sausage got made.”

 

We need to teach beyond the poetry of "Manifest Destiny," that the expansion and founding of the United States were for a created class: American oligarchs. They initially just didn't want to pay taxes to their benefactor, England. Thomas Paine clarified and made the reasons to break away from Europe profound, and noble, but his progressive ideas like equal education for men, and women, a progressive income tax, welfare for the poor, and the canard that could unravel the budding dominant world economy: he opposed slavery. It's probably why you haven't heard a thing about him.

 

Without a reckoning, there can be no healing, no atonement, or reconciliation. Without a reckoning of January 6, there can be no justice, and the "rule of law" is meaningless. Without a reckoning, the attempted coup was practice for the next. There can be no reckoning without accurate history. Eighteen states have passed interposition, and nullification laws to keep black, indigenous people of color (BIPOC) from exercising the voting franchise, in addition to overturning elections whose outcomes they don't like. If Republicans don't want to be called fascists, they should stop acting like them.

 

A reckoning will enable the next reconstruction since the first one after the Civil War was interrupted by white supremacy; the second - 1964 Civil Rights Act, 1965 Voting Rights Act, 1968 Fair Housing Act - by a relentless, fifty-year right-wing backlash. History told right tends to make readers uncomfortable, but information can and should change the reader or student for the better. Showing our flaws, and blemishes should make us strive to do better, not hide our past that can easily be sourced within a few clicks, our hypocrisy laid bare.

 

The future is mist and mystery. It doesn't exist, except for the decisions we make today. One of those is what the fictional Vulcans of Star Trek called O'thia: reality-truth. For us to build the future, we have to reckon with our past, our real past, where we’re not always the heroes of a mythologized story we’ve gaslighted over four centuries.

 

Reckoning: the action or process of calculating or estimating something; the moment of truth.

Ragnarok: the final destruction of the world in the conflict between the Aesir and the powers of Hel led by Loki, the god of lies and chaos — also called Twilight of the Gods.

 

Without true reckoning, there is only Ragnarok.

 

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Survival of Community...

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Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, COVID-19, Environment, Existentialism

Like his more famous contemporary, Spencer was enamored with the idea of evolution. But where Darwin focused on biology, Spencer imagined that evolutionary thinking could be applied much more broadly. In his mind, it governed entire societies. Today, when Spencer is remembered at all, it is usually for inspiring the ideology known as “social Darwinism”: roughly, the idea that the successful deserve their success while those who fail, deserve their failure.

Modern scholars, and the public at large, understandably view this idea with disdain. Philosopher Daniel Dennett has described social Darwinism as “an odious misapplication of Darwinian thinking in defense of political doctrines that range from callous to heinous,” while the journalist Robert Wright said that social Darwinism “now lies in the dustbin of intellectual history.” Today, few read Spencer’s dense and ponderous books, and his ideas are rarely taught. Gregory Claeys, a historian at the University of London, writes that of all the great Victorian thinkers, it is Spencer whose “reputation has now indisputably fallen the farthest.”

Spencer’s view, though mostly anathema now, appealed to influential conservatives and laissez-faire capitalists—among them, the industrialist Andrew Carnegie—just as it angered the socialists of the time. “Spencer hated socialism because he thought socialism was all about protecting the weak,” Lightman says. “To him, that was intervening in the natural unfolding of the evolutionary process.”

The Complicated Legacy of Herbert Spencer, the Man Who Coined ‘Survival of the Fittest’, Dan Falk, Smithsonian Magazine

According to Michael Price in Science Magazine, humans changed from hunter-gatherer (and presumably, wanderer) to communal living about 10,000 years ago. We seemed to vacillate between extremes, and each time, our back-and-forth switch could be traced through the common house mouse (like it or not, we appear stuck with them). Whether we wandered about or gathered harvests, we seemed to fair better with less Ayn Randian selfish worldviews, and more indigenous communal living philosophies.

An article published on the website Earthday.org is more explicit:

Humans and climate change are driving species to extinction at unprecedented rates. To slow or eventually reverse these declines, we need to better manage our land to preserve habitats and secure biodiversity – the variety of life on Earth. To that end, a study published this week confirms what many communities have known for years: To preserve biodiversity, we must turn to indigenous peoples for guidance and management.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Policy, compared levels of biodiversity in thousands of areas in Australia, Brazil, and Canada and was the first of its kind to compare biodiversity and land management on such a large scale. Researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) compared 15,621 geotropical areas across three continents, with great variations across climate, species, and geography.

To Save The Planet, We Need Indigenous Perspectives, Earth Day, 2019

We have been ravaged by climate events since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and have ignored them all. Ebola was the first epidemic we paid attention to and mitigated at its point of origin so that only two Americans died from it. It is therefore unconscionable that the current death toll of the Coronavirus is 623,353, as of this writing. It's likely to be higher when this post appears. 675,000 died during the 1918 flu pandemic. We're not far behind.

Speaking of Ayn Rand: the main idea of "The Fountainhead" was individualism vs. collectivism, or selfishness, versus community. Also, in "Atlas Shrugged," so beloved that former Congressman, and conspiracy theorist Ron Paul and presumably his wife named their son, Senator Rand Paul. "Shrugged" was about "a dystopian United States in which private businesses suffer under increasingly burdensome laws and regulations." "Looters" want to exploit the productivity of innovative industrialists has the not-too-subtle echo of "makers," and "takers."

GOP "leader," Kevin McCarthy saying "85% of Congress is fully vaccinated," so he says, we have no need for a mask mandate in the House. That declaration is a Freudian slip: that means 15% of 435 members of the House, or 65 members are unvaccinated by choice. 435 members of the House go back home sometimes, and presumably, many to Delta variant hot spots. The variant could then be weaponized on Capitol Hill where many of our lawmakers are in their seventies and eighties. The Delta variant can cause "breakthrough infections," and most of the hospitalizations and deaths are from the unvaccinated. There are also long-haul COVID survivors, the severe ones will put a strain on public resources for rehabilitation, and lifetime care. Again, those 65 can carry the Delta variant back to the House, and turn Capitol Hill into a COVID hot spot. With the 1/6 hearings just starting, it might be a cynical, pathological ploy to delay or demolish any hearings on the terrorist insurrection going forward. Only sociopaths could be so diabolical.

Ten thousand years ago, it might have been prudent to identify someone by their tribal markings, dress, and appearance. If you "did not fit in," there were no diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, only suspicion. "Fight, or flight" was wonderful against saber-tooth tigers, but terrible trying to espouse the tenets of a philosophy centered on E Pluribus Unum.

Borders are political constructs, just like race is a social construct. We are the byproduct of migration from the African continent to other areas, and adaption over hundreds of thousands of years. We look different because of the angle of incidence of ultraviolet light, the environment encountered, and the foods we consumed in those environs. We all for the most part have five fingers, five toes, and red blood in our veins. We all have the same needs on the Maslow hierarchy. It's why the Overview effect has such a profound impact on the viewers, but 7.6 billion inhabitants don't have a spare $250,000 for a ten-minute joy ride. The eviction moratorium expires Saturday, with no further extension. I don't think soon-to-be homeless people will care for an Overview effect.

It has to be in our best interest to help developing countries and industrial countries with vaccination rates: every nation has to get to 70% herd immunity, or higher for the safety of the species. If there's one hot spot in the world, there's the possibility of many variants spreading across the globe. It has to be in our best interest to mitigate climate change, and if past the tipping point, or politically not expedient, design our civilization's infrastructure to withstand the storms, power outages, freak winter freezes, floods, and raging fires.

Octavia Butler was an African American science fiction writer that didn't envision starships, except the relativistic kind. Her "Parable of the Sower" did predict a dystopic America devastated by climate change, social unrest, water scarcity, but apparently, in all that dysfunction, in2024 we land on Mars, and discovered microbial life there. We are three years from the date of that fictional nightmare. In the midst of that eerily prescient novel, and series, there was a rediscovery of community, of people helping people, protecting one another.

Social media is a faux community; it has atomized humanity in echo silos. We were prepped for this when television and entertainment became "infotainment," a bastardization, and a pariah to the body politic. BET, CMT, MTV is owned by Viacom, and caters to different audiences, cable news preceded it, and its digital extension is the oxymoron "social media" as humans stare blankly at their smartphones sucking time, and brain cells.

There is vaccine hesitancy among African Americans, decades stinging from the Tuskegee experiment. There is vaccine hesitancy from those who erroneously believe vaccines cause autism (that was refuted in a later paper). There are athletes who will eat what they are told, train as they are told, who now in the NFL have to decide whether to get a mandated COVID vaccine or forfeit games. Despite their nonprofit status, the NFL is a business, and businesses are not democratic.

The same people who deny climate change, are the same people who fought lockdowns. They are the same people who want Confederate monuments to insurrectionists, but history that would correct the record from obfuscations and mythology expunged, canceled. They are the same people who fought masks, and are the same people who don't want to get vaccines because they believe in the "survival of the fittest" scenario, that they will miraculously be the fittest, the luckiest; the living. Like the Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick volunteering grandparents to die for the economy in the early days of the pandemic. (He's probably not counting himself in that number on the altar of Moloch.)

To survive COVID, and climate change, E Pluribus Unum - out of many, one - has to be cosmopolitan, global. We are all Homo Sapiens, Earthlings, breathing the same air, using the same resources, and will expire on the same planet, as long as it's here, and we are. The United Nations is supposed to be our governing body to do this, a concept that is with its political enemies, conspiracy theories that start with "new world order," and authoritarian tyranny fears, that kind of falls hollow to the experiment in authoritarianism the United States made from 2017 to 2020. It was almost credibly sealed with a coup, on January 6, 2021, had it been competent. The next fascist might be more capable; the next coup might succeed.

For the survival of the species, "survival of the fittest" has to become a part of a selfish past and myth. It's easier to mask, or vaccinate against a pandemic, and mitigate climate change than building superluminal starships defying laws of physics to "escape" our mistakes.

We have to get beyond our learned prejudices, responsible for so much selfishness, sickness, and bloodshed. We need to see each other's survival in all of our best interests. Our empathy needs to evolve.

*****

“We have been forced to a point where we are going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demands didn't force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them. Men for years now have been talking about war and peace. But now no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it's nonviolence or nonexistence. That is where we are today.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

*****

No man is an island,Entire of itself.Each is a piece of the continent,A part of the main.If a clod be washed away by the sea,Europe is the less.As well as if a promontory were.As well as if a manor of thine ownOr of thine friend's were.Each man's death diminishes me,For I am involved in mankind.Therefore, send not to knowFor whom the bell tolls,It tolls for thee.

"For Whom the Bell Tolls," John Donne, Your Daily Poem

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The Anatomy of Delta...

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A computer simulation of the structure of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.Credit: Janet Iwasa, University of Utah

Topics: Biology, Biotechnology, COVID-19, DNA, Existentialism, Research

The coronavirus sports a luxurious sugar coat. “It’s striking,” thought Rommie Amaro, staring at her computer simulation of one of the trademark spike proteins of SARS-CoV-2, which stick out from the virus’s surface. It was swathed in sugar molecules, known as glycans.

“When you see it with all the glycans, it’s almost unrecognizable,” says Amaro, a computational biophysical chemist at the University of California, San Diego.

Many viruses have glycans covering their outer proteins, camouflaging them from the human immune system like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. But last year, Amaro’s laboratory group and collaborators created the most detailed visualization yet of this coat, based on structural and genetic data and rendered atom-by-atom by a supercomputer. On 22 March 2020, she posted the simulation to Twitter. Within an hour, one researcher asked in a comment: what was the naked, uncoated loop sticking out of the top of the protein?

Amaro had no idea. But ten minutes later, structural biologist Jason McLellan at the University of Texas at Austin chimed in: the uncoated loop was a receptor-binding domain (RBD), one of three sections of the spike that bind to receptors on human cells (see ‘A hidden spike’).

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Source: Structural image from Lorenzo Casalino, Univ. California, San Diego (Ref. 1); Graphic: Nik Spencer/Nature

How the coronavirus infects cells — and why Delta is so dangerous, Megan Scudellari, Nature

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Conscientious Stupidity...

 

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, COVID-19, Existentialism, Human Rights

 

"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Today is 203 days after January 6, 2021's attempted coup. "Insurrection" isn't quite as accurate with the passage of time.

 

Yesterday, the first hearings began, and they were emotional, riveting: angering. Officer Dunn didn't sanitize the word nigger by using "the n-word" because the persons that said it to him didn't stifle their tongues. Sometimes, shock is the best disinfectant.

 

We are now well in the Delta variant, and the CDC is re-recommending masks. Red states are already fighting mask mandates like this is a recommendation by gunpoint. The CDC cannot mandate anything nationally, they can only recommend an action. They can specify it for federal workers: they can either get the vaccine, or get tested daily, and the PCR test just isn't as painful, or intrusive as the Q-tip swab. The threat of unemployment can inform decisions as well. This whipsaw pain is unnecessary self-immolation. It's dumb. It could have been avoided.

 

Despite the fact that I am fully vaccinated, I kept all of my masks and hand sanitizer. I had a feeling with the disinformation from Facebook/Fox Propaganda/Russia, and the mini-fascists clone imitators - News Min, QAN, and Dumb Bart, we would go back in time to last year, because if they can't have power, they will induce chaos.

 

The clown show I expected happened. A crowd of white grievance minstrels assembled in front of the Justice Department during the 1/6 hearings to petition for the release of the (correctly termed by the Capitol Police yesterday, terrorists) said the same after the original Civil War. The boneheads literally having wet dreams on another one should think on this: the British Sterling used to be the global currency before the dollar. An unstable, insanely racist nation would have its currency dropped, replaced by the Yuan without a second thought. White supremacy would rule a no-man's-land equivalent to a shit pile.

 

Someone ran off Matt Gaetz, and his fellow fascists by simply asking him "are you a pedophile?" Nazis seem only interested in the unborn zygote: when they become living, breathing beings requiring food, clothes, resources, education, and employment, they're either freeloaders of the system depending on their shade of Melanin or if in their pinker culture, jail bait. IF he manages to keep himself out of prison with the white privilege-AMEX card, holiday dinners with his future sister-in-law are going to be dicey.

 

Gaslighting by narcissists, and willful, conscientious stupidity is apparently the only thing "exceptional" about this oxymoronically named nation. Ragnarok is falling.

 

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 American 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,” Good Reads

 

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Image Source: Space Billionaires, Please Read the Room, Shannon Stirone, The Atlantic

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Human Rights, Spaceflight

 

Note: The post title is sourced from The Atlantic article, as is the lurid artwork.

 

It is the experience of seeing firsthand the reality of the Earth in space, which is immediately understood to be a tiny, fragile ball of life, "hanging in the void," shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere. From space, national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide people become less important, and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this "pale blue dot" becomes both obvious and imperative.

 

The thing that really surprised me was that it [Earth] projected an air of fragility. And why, I don’t know. I don’t know to this day. I had a feeling it’s tiny, it’s shiny, it’s beautiful, it’s home, and it’s fragile. Michael Collins, Apollo 11. Source: Wikipedia/Overview effect

 

The best case for taxing the rich is made by a "space race" with billionaires leaving the Earth ravaged by a once-in-a-century pandemic in the form now of the Delta variant, climate change disasters that can't be gaslighted, and modern-day Hooverville tent cities IN the richest nation in the world, exacerbated since last year by the Coronavirus. Almost all new cases in what amounts to a fourth wave are among the unvaccinated, in a bizarre, nihilistic viral analog of the Cold War doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction, and Dr. Strangelove. But: "space, the final frontier" for billionaires, apparently is more important. Is it my observation only that each "spaceship" looks like a phallic symbol or pleasure instrument?

 

Bezos, of course, ruins the whole point of the Overview effect: “We need to take all heavy industry, all polluting industry, and move it into space and keep Earth as this beautiful gem of a planet that it is,” he said in an interview with NBC News. “That’s going to take decades to achieve, but you have to start. And big things start with small steps.” (Justine Calma, The Verge). That's a direct quote from the richest man in the world, a toss-up clone between either Dr. Evil or Lex Luthor.

 

The world's richest man has obviously not heard about space junk sipping lattes on his half-billion-dollar yacht, with a spare for the helicopter (hey, that's important). Just like Musk's "genius" idea of terraforming the planet Mars for humans by dropping nuclear bombs to warm it up. First point: Mars has no atmosphere to warm up. Second point: Plutonium-239 used in current thermonuclear devices has a half-life of 24,110 years, meaning the radiation level will be half as lethal in 964 human generations. Branson's price tag to do weightlessness is $250,000. You can afford it by entering a contest: the cost is $10, $25, $50, $100, which begs why anyone has to donate to a raffle for a ride with a billionaire? Batman didn't charge the Justice League for the Watchtower (I don't think). Bruce Wayne is a plucky superhero (or antihero); he's fictional.

 

Bezos, Branson, Musk, et al. are real, and they don't appear interested in anything other than their own enjoyment.

 

*****

 

Tuesday, July 30, 2024

 

  • Lauren writes about an astronaut who died on the latest Mars mission. People in the neighborhood say traveling to Mars is a waste of money when people on earth can't afford basic necessities.
  • Lauren also writes about the cost of water increasing. It's fashionable to be dirty since no one can afford to clean their clothes.

 

Shmoop.com: Study Guide, Parable of the Sower, Octavia E. Butler, Chapter 3

 

Rockets, moon shots
Spend it on the have nots
Money, we make it
Fore we see it you take it

 

Oh, make me want to holler
The way they do my life (yeah)
Make me want to holler
The way they do my life

 

This ain't livin', this ain't livin'
No, no baby, this ain't livin'
No, no, no, no

 

"Inner City Blues: Make Me Wanna Holler," Marvin Gaye, Genius Lyrics

 

A rat done bit my sister Nell.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Her face and arms began to swell.
(and Whitey's on the moon)

 

I can't pay no doctor bill.
(but Whitey's on the moon)
Ten years from now I'll be payin' still.
(while Whitey's on the moon)

 

The man jus' upped my rent las' night.
('cause Whitey's on the moon)
No hot water, no toilets, no lights.
(but Whitey's on the moon)

 

"Whitey on the Moon," Gil Scott-Heron, Genius Lyrics

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The Caveat of Cul De Sacs...

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A river snakes its way through the Amazon rain forest in Peru.
Credits: USDA Forest Service

Topics: Climate Change, Economics, Environment, Existentialism, Global Warming

The finding comes out of an effort to map where vegetation is emitting and soaking up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Earth’s trees and plants pull vast amounts of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere during photosynthesis, incorporating some of that carbon into structures like wood. Areas that absorb more carbon than they emit are called carbon sinks. But plants can also emit the greenhouse gas during processes like respiration, when dead plants decay, or during combustion in the case of fires. Researchers are particularly interested in whether – and how – plants at the scale of an ecosystem like a forest act as sources or sinks in an increasingly warming world.  

A recent study led by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California identified whether vegetated areas like forests and savannas around the world were carbon sources or sinks every year from 2000 to 2019. The research found that over the course of those two decades, living woody plants were responsible for more than 80% of the sources and sinks on land, with soil, leaf litter, and decaying organic matter making up the rest. But they also saw that vegetation retained a far smaller fraction of the carbon than the scientists originally thought.

In addition, the researchers found that the total amount of carbon emitted and absorbed in the tropics was four times larger than in temperate regions and boreal areas (the northernmost forests) combined, but that the ability of tropical forests to absorb massive amounts of carbon has waned in recent years. The decline in this ability is because of large-scale deforestation, habitat degradation, and climate change effects, like more frequent droughts and fires. In fact, the study, published in Science Advances, showed that 90% of the carbon that forests around the world absorb from the atmosphere is offset by the amount of carbon released by such disturbances as deforestation and droughts.

The scientists created maps of carbon sources and sinks from land-use changes like deforestation, habitat degradation, and forest planting, as well as forest growth. They did so by analyzing data on global vegetation collected from space using instruments such as NASA’s Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) onboard ICESat and the agency’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra and Aqua satellites, respectively. The analysis used a machine-learning algorithm that the researchers first trained using vegetation data gathered on the ground and in the air using laser-scanning instruments.

NASA Study Finds Tropical Forests’ Ability to Absorb Carbon Dioxide Is Waning, Jane J. Lee / Ian J. O’Neill

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MisInfo Wars...

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Image Source: Link Below

Topics: COVID-19, Democracy, Economics, Existentialism

Eric Boehlert nailed it on Press Run: the Murdock variant. I alluded to this Friday. True-to-form, the gaslighting led to a selloff on Wall Street of almost 800 points, from fears of the Delta variant conservative news outlets have been sacrificing their own viewers to impact. Question: Didn't Rupert Murdock, owner of Fox and the Wall Street Journal just lose money? Aren't all conservative oligarchs with propaganda outlets losing money?

The only thing that makes "sense" is that instead of news organizations, conservative "news" outlets are essentially a congress of sociopaths.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy today issued a public advisory on health misinformation, calling it a “serious threat to public health” and encouraging all Americans to help slow its spread during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. To that end, the National Academies have been addressing misinformation in health and science on multiple fronts and are taking steps to help cultivate a fact- and evidence-based information environment.

“This pandemic has demonstrated as never before how critical it is not only to combat false and misleading claims but also to get clear, understandable, and potentially lifesaving health guidance to the public,” said National Academy of Medicine President Victor J. Dzau. “The National Academies are eager to support the surgeon general in this effort and are committed to working with the research community, health care providers, government agencies, and others to help amplify credible, authoritative health information.”

“Misinformation is worse than an epidemic: It spreads at the speed of light throughout the globe, and can prove deadly when it reinforces misplaced personal bias against all trustworthy evidence,” added National Academy of Sciences President Marcia McNutt. “Research is helping us combat this ‘misinfodemic’ through understanding its origins and the aspects of human nature that make it so transmittable."

The surgeon general’s advisory defines misinformation as “information that is false, inaccurate, or misleading according to the best available evidence at the time,” and notes that, although some knowingly and deliberately share misinformation, many others do so inadvertently because they are unaware of any inaccuracy or they are raising concerns or seeking answers. The rise of social media has also enabled misinformation to be spread more quickly and frequently.

As Surgeon General Urges ‘Whole-of-Society’ Effort to Fight Health Misinformation, the Work of the National Academies Helps Foster an Evidence-Based Information Environment

Molly Galvin, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

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Smokestacks, and Psychopaths...

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Image credit: Daily Kos

 

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

 

In the south, you'll see some lummox proudly spewing black smoke from the back of his pickup truck (it invariably is always "his/he/him"), tricked out with dual black smokestack pipes to "own the libs," spew smoke in the air and cause environmental bleeding heart tears over caring about climate change. Indeed, "the cruelty is the point." Smoky seems to miss the point he's still on the same planet he's ruining. I'm down for him shooting his own foot: that would generate first a gasp as his talus explodes through his boot, then a guffaw. I will call 911 and tie you a tourniquet.

 

For a political party whose membership skews older, it might be surprising that the spirit that most animates Republican politics today is best described with a phrase from the world of video games: “Owning the libs."

 

Gamers borrowed the term from the nascent world of 1990s computer hacking, using it to describe their conquered opponents: “owned.” To “own the libs” does not require victory so much as a commitment to infuriating, flummoxing, or otherwise distressing liberals with one’s awesomely uncompromising conservatism. And its pop-cultural roots and clipped snarkiness are perfectly aligned with a party that sees pouring fuel on the culture wars’ fire as its best shot at surviving an era of Democratic control.

 

How ‘Owning the Libs’ Became the GOP’s Core Belief, Derek Robertson, Politico

 

Tennessee wants to halt vaccines - not just COVID, but everything! They fired the health commissioner because she was doing her job during a pandemic that's killed almost as many Americans as the 1918 H1N1 flu pandemic. Florida governor Death Santis is selling merch "Don't Fauci My Florida" after a beachside condo imploded from decaying (say it with me now: "infrastructure"), and he's second in US COVID numbers for the Delta variant. Luckily, Disney is streaming Loki because I think the Mouse may have to shut down again. "Kids get long haul COVID too." Someone needs to Fauci Death Santis' brain.

 

Fox Propaganda is pushing vaccine hesitancy as likely every anchor and crew member is fully vaccinated and following COVID protocols. Meanwhile, they are purposely sowing doubts about the efficacy of a vaccine people are fighting in the streets for overseas. This, of course, follows a Russian disinformation campaign that every opinion pundit at the Ministry of Pravda on New York's Avenue of the Americas seems to be parroting. "America's newsroom" has a Russian accent.

 

The conclusion of the Kerner Commission was we were "two Americas": one black, one white; separate, and unequal.

 

We are two Americas still: one vaccinated, one unvaccinated as a Delta variant spreads in mostly red states. For the most part, African Americans are showing social conservative values: they tend to get vaccines (most, not all), and when I'm in the store, I still see us all wearing masks. The cynical, dark calculus is, as more get sick and die (apparently, red-state republicans are cannon fodder on the altar of Moloch), the economy will falter. The party in power always gets the blame, for good or ill. This is 2022 and 2024, not because the criminal enterprise masquerading as a political party has any "ideas": it is the political equivalent of a binky for colicky, psychotic children; it is power for power's sake.

 

The presidency of George W. Bush may have been the high point of the modern Christian right’s influence in America. White evangelicals were the largest religious faction in the country. “They had a president who claimed to be one of their own, he had a testimony, talked in evangelical terms,” said Robert P. Jones, chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute and author of the 2016 book “The End of White Christian America.”

 

Back then, much of the public sided with the religious right on the key culture war issue of gay marriage. “In 2004, if you had said, ‘We’re the majority, we oppose gay rights, we oppose marriage equality, and the majority of Americans is with us,’ that would have been true,” Jones told me. Youthful megachurches were thriving. It was common for conservatives to gloat that they were going to outbreed the left.

 

But the evangelicals who thought they were about to take over America were destined for disappointment. On Thursday, P.R.R.I. released startling new polling data showing just how much ground the religious right has lost. P.R.R.I.’s 2020 Census of American Religion, based on a survey of nearly half a million people, shows a precipitous decline in the share of the population identifying as white evangelical, from 23 percent in 2006 to 14.5 percent last year. (As a category, “white evangelicals” isn’t a perfect proxy for the religious right, but the overlap is substantial.) In 2020, as in every year since 2013, the largest religious group in the United States was the religiously unaffiliated.

 

In addition to shrinking as a share of the population, white evangelicals were also the oldest religious group in the United States, with a median age of 56. “It’s not just that they are dying off, but it is that they’re losing younger members,” Jones told me. As the group has become older and smaller, Jones said, “a real visceral sense of loss of cultural dominance” has set in.

 

I was frightened by the religious right in its triumphant phase. But it turns out that the movement is just as dangerous in decline. Maybe more so. It didn’t take long for the cocky optimism of Generation Joshua to give way to the nihilism of the Jan. 6 insurrectionists. If they can’t own the country, they’re ready to defile it.

 

The Christian Right Is in Decline, and It’s Taking America With It, Michelle Goldberg, New York Times

 

The orangutan increased his margins with African Americans and Hispanic voters, surprisingly. Members of my family voted - insanely - in 2016 and 2020 for him. I don't tend to support racists who deny rental property to blacks in New York, say the Exonerated Five should still be in jail after DNA evidence, and a confession acquitted them, and over two dozen women accusing him of inappropriate behavior and sexual assault are all lying.

 

I'll give you a Mulligan for 2016. You believed the public fiction by reality TV he was a business genius (he isn't even as evidence shows, a "stable genius"). It was for "family values," so that might mean you're bizarrely against abortion and same-sex marriage. It's like television: if you don't like the channel, you have other options, and if you're against abortion (and not a woman) or gay marriage (and not LGBT), don't practice either. Problem solved. You probably believed in cooties as a kid.

 

After four years of lies, covfefe, mangled/slurred sentences, guttural cursing, saying President Obama SPIED on him, Olympic-level obfuscation, children in cages, white supremacists in Charlottesville, fawning obsequiousness to every dictator from Putin to Kim Jong Un he could find under a rock, the unanswered murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi; rubber bullets and teargas against mostly peaceful protestors (1st Amendment - look it up), haphazardly constructed border wall boondoggles like his six bankrupt businesses, tax cuts for no-one-that-looked-like-YOU, and you STILL voted for him after what is now after "I Alone Can Fix" January 6, 2021, is shaping up to have been an attempted coup, that says a lot more about you than it does about me.

 

I'm going to have to put some real estate between us for my own mental health.

 

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Thirty-Three Point Eight...

Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming, Politics

Fahrenheit to CelsiusCelsius to Fahrenheit
(5/9)(°F - 32) = °C(9/5) °C + 32 = °F

Handy-Dandy Conversion Table

 

Even though the Big Think video is informative, my critique is it presumes much regarding the audience, presumably the species.

 

The assumption is that even with the equivalent of supercomputers on our hips, humans will be motivated beyond the video to know the difference between Fahrenheit, and Celsius. What the average human mind will process is: "two degrees," which doesn't sound like much as mathematical dexterity is only encouraged in those interested in STEM.

 

On Wednesday, when former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee announced his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, his remarks on the occasion contained some of the usual sentiment about the importance of being a bold and inspiring nation—but they also contained something a bit unusual. “Here’s a bold embrace of internationalism: let’s join the rest of the world and go metric,” he said. “I happened to live in Canada as they completed the process. Believe me, it is easy. It doesn’t take long before 34 degrees is hot. Only Myanmar, Liberia, and the United States aren’t metric and it will help our economy!”

 

The Long, Tortuous History of the U.S. and the Metric System, Lily Rothman, TIME

 

The resistance to the Metric System (originally from the French) has to quote Ms. Rothman, "a long, tortuous history" in the United States. Resistance to "change" is inherently political, and we have but one of the two major political parties famous for looking backward, as well as celebration, and apoptosis of a hierarchal status quo.

 

I'm not saying the video isn't informative. The above formulas were drilled into me in middle school science class, and since I have made my living, and continue my education in STEM, mental conversion is a familiar exercise.

 

It should be for average citizens also. The video concerns two degrees Celsius hotter; the title I derived from one degree hotter (in bold below):</p>

 

(9/5) 0°C + 32 = 32°F

 

(9/5) 1°C + 32 = 1.8 + 32 = 33.8°F

 

(9/5) 2°C + 32 = 3.6 + 32 = 35.6°F

 

(9/5) 3°C + 32 = 5.4 + 32 = 37.4°F

 

(9/5) 4°C + 32 = 7.2 + 32 = 39.2°F

 

Add that to whatever is average summer temperatures in the Arctic, California, Texas, or North Carolina, and you can see why Environmental Scientists are hair-on-fire excited.

 

My critique is the video, well-intentioned, has the Curse of Knowledge Cognitive Bias.

 

Some of the best science lectures I've attended are when the speaker assumes the audience is hearing the information for the first time, provides a primer of about 15 - 20 minutes, and about a thirty-five to forty-minute lecture, allowing time for questions. It respects the intelligence, and time of the audience.

 

The opposite: the lecturer is so excited about their work, they hit Warp Seven after clearing orbital drydock, and head for Andromeda, 2.537 million light-years away. The only time they stop is when the host informs them their time is up, and it's evident the crowd has tuned out, checking social media, and drooling as they wait for the lecture/torture to end.

 

To communicate the gravity of the situation, I feel we need to communicate better to the general public for buy-in that: 1. There is a crisis, 2. We have to do something about it.

 

By logical extension, science communication can mean life or death. Ninety-nine-point-five percent of new COVID deaths are from the unvaccinated, so armchair conspiracy theories are not proving helpful. I took the Moderna vaccine. I did not become magnetic. I did not become the carrier of a variant. I'm a grandfather, so my infertility at this stage is kind of irrelevant. No one started tracking me (for what reason, God only knows).

 

Please feel free to share my post, and check my calculations. We all need a clear understanding, not fossil fuel industry/corporate lobbyist gaslighting, on where we're headed if we don't heed the warnings.

 

“Science-fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.” Isaac Asimov

 

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Power Density...

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Optimal size: wind farm efficiency drops as installations become bigger. (Courtesy: iStock/ssuaphoto)

Topics: Alternate Energy, Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming, Green Tech, Thermodynamics

Optimizing the placement of turbines within a wind farm can significantly increase energy extraction – but only until the installation reaches a certain size, researchers in the US conclude. This is just one finding of a computational study on wind turbines’ effects on the airflow around them, and consequently the ability of nearby turbines – and even nearby wind farms – to extract energy from that airflow.

Wind power could supply more than a third of global energy by 2050, so the researchers hope their analysis will assist in better designs of wind farms.

It is well known that the efficiencies of turbines in a wind farm can be significantly lower than that of a single turbine on its own. While small wind farms can achieve a power density of over 10 W/m2, this can drop to a little as 1 W/m2 in very large installations The first law of thermodynamics dictates that turbines must reduce the energy of the wind that has passed through them. However, turbines also inject turbulence into the flow, which can make it more difficult for downstream turbines to extract energy.

“People were already aware of these issues,” says Enrico Antonini of the Carnegie Institution for Science in California, “but no one had ever defined what controls these numbers.”

Optimal size for wind farms is revealed by computational study, Tim Wogan, Physics World

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Last Ice...

A polar bear perches on a thick chunk of sea ice north of Greenland in March 2016. These thicker, older pieces of sea ice don’t fully protect the larger region from losing its summer ice cover.A polar bear perches on a thick chunk of sea ice north of Greenland in March 2016. These thicker, older pieces of sea ice don’t fully protect the larger region from losing its summer ice cover. (Image credit: Kristin Laidre/University of Washington)

Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming

The "Last Ice Area," an Arctic region is known for its thick ice cover, may be more vulnerable to climate change than scientists suspected, a new study has found.

This frozen zone, which lies to the north of Greenland, earned its dramatic name because even though its ice grows and shrinks seasonally, much of the sea ice here was thought to be thick enough to persist through summer's warmth.

But during the summer of 2020, the Wandel Sea in the eastern part of the Last Ice Area lost 50% of its overlying ice, bringing coverage there to its lowest since record-keeping began. In the new study, researchers found that weather conditions were driving the decline, but climate change made that possible by gradually thinning the area's long-standing ice year after year. This hints that global warming may threaten the region more than prior climate models suggested.

'Last Ice Area' in the Arctic may not survive climate change, Mindy Weisberger, a senior writer for Live Science

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Coups, Crackpots, and Psychopaths...

He nailed it.

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

 

Coups

 

There is a strong Trump following in the military, and retired generals on the crazy train, making moot all the protestations about Bill Clinton being a "draft dodger." Mango Mussolini has five deferments from fake bone spurs. Most of the retired generals are part of the Vietnam era, when they, returning from the theater were spat on and called "baby killers," they resented rich kids dodging service, yet they support one because of the coming preponderance of Melanin in America's future: a future the old farts will never live to see. Most of those retired generals aren't BIPOC (black, indigenous people of color). Many of the terrorists from January 6, 2021, are being arrested, but the jewel will be getting the seditionists that helped the insurrection getting taxpayer dollars. The seditionists in Congress don't want a bipartisan commission because criminals don't want a crime investigated in which they participated. They will also - on cue - complain a special committee comprised completely of Democrats is grossly partisan.

 

Any coup unpunished, whitewashed, or ignored becomes a rehearsal. The global economy would pivot on a dime if we suddenly became a failed state.

 

Crackpots

 

The highest-rated show on Fox Propaganda (AI inserts this automatically on my phone) used the legal excuse that "no one should take Tucker Carlson seriously." Greg Abbott, after dozens of his constituents died this past winter, passed laws to let psychopaths open carry, and is continuing the grift of building the wall. Meanwhile, temperatures in the west are soaring to dangerous levels, and brownout is inevitable. Greater than one hundred degrees Fahrenheit without air conditioning is as deadly as freezing without central heating. He'd rather ban Critical Race Theory in K - 12 schools (where it's not taught unless kindergarteners are lawyers), and solve voter fraud (which doesn't exist). But hey, we passed Juneteenth: we just can't teach where it comes from, or what it meant to ex-slaves, their descendants, and America. We managed to protect the Affordable Care Act, but Moscow Mitch has promised to "Merrick Garland" any Biden nominee if he gains the majority in 2022. It's why they're blocking votes and making it harder. It's an admission of political impotence in [a[ Democratic Republic: in a fair fight, they know they would lose.

 

The modern Republican Party died at the 2016 National Convention when they accepted a nonprofessional politician, a gameshow reality host playing the role of "billionaire" (only Cy Vance truly knows) as their bizarre nominee.  They are now the party of conspiracists, domestic terrorists, insurrectionists, and QAnon. He plugged into an anti-democratic strain in the party that was tired of listening to talking points from conservative think tanks, and preferred ranting word salad from Archie Bunker, the racist dad brainwashed right along with them, and their shared hatred of the one-and-only African American president in 232 years of the federal republic. The former GOP have wined and dined racists winked and nodded at "states rights" Dixiecrats since Reagan's initial campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Entropy works in physics and politics: eventually, genteel racism was going to metastasize into a full-on fascist. It's only natural the "grand old party" seeing no fortune in attracting, or being beholden to people of color became the "gang of Putin." They thus needed no stinking platform in 2020. After decades of running on Reagan's "aw shucks" populism, white ethnic nationalism is far more appealing. "Deconstructing the administrative state" means installing a dictator after destroying democracy.

 

Psychopaths

 

"Chief Executive" references one of the many roles in the US Constitution for an American president. It became convoluted with "Chief Executive Officer" during the Reagan years.

 

Three years into the new century, and two past 9/11, a documentary called "The Corporation" aired on screens and quickly went to video, which you can watch at the link.

 

Synopsis

 

One hundred and fifty years ago, the corporation was a relatively insignificant entity. Today, it is a vivid, dramatic, and pervasive presence in all our lives. Like the Church, the Monarchy, and the Communist Party in other times and places, the corporation is today’s dominant institution. But history humbles dominant institutions. All have been crushed, belittled, or absorbed into some new order. In this complex, exhaustive, and highly entertaining documentary, Mark Achbar, co-director of the influential and inventive Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, teams up with co-director Jennifer Abbott and writer Joel Bakan to examine the far-reaching repercussions of the corporation’s increasing preeminence.

 

Based on Bakan’s book The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, the film is a timely, critical inquiry that invites CEOs, whistle-blowers, brokers, gurus, spies, players, pawns, and pundits on a graphic and engaging quest to reveal the corporation’s inner workings, curious history, controversial impacts, and possible futures. The Corporation charts the spectacular rise of an institution aimed at achieving specific economic goals as it also recounts victories against this apparently invincible force.

 

Case studies, anecdotes, and true confessions reveal behind-the-scenes tensions and influences in several corporate and anti-corporate dramas.  Among the 40 interview subjects are CEOs and top-level executives from a range of industries: oil, pharmaceutical, computer, tire, manufacturing, public relations, branding, advertising, and undercover marketing. In addition, a Nobel-prize-winning economist, the first management guru, a corporate spy, and a range of academics, critics, historians, and thinkers are also interviewed.

 

*****

 

In the book "The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success," Kevin Dutton explains that there are jobs that can attract literal psychopaths - and also jobs that are least likely to do so.

 

So what jobs are most attractive to psychopaths? Here's the list, originally published online by Eric Barker: 1. CEO, 2. Lawyer, 3. Media (Television/Radio), 4. Salesperson, 5. Surgeon, 6. Journalist, 7. Police officer, 8. Clergy person, 9. Chef, 10. Civil servant.

 

And for those looking to potentially avoid working with the least number of psychopaths, here's the list of occupations with the lowest rates of psychopathy: 1. Care aide, 2. Nurse, 3. Therapist, 4. Craftsperson, 5. Beautician/Stylist, 6. Charity worker, 7. Teacher, 8. Creative artist, 9. Doctor, 10. Accountant.

 

The premise of The Corporation is if the corporation is a person, what kind of person is it? According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual on Mental Disorders, the only "type" of person this can be is a psychopath.

 

So, why do we want a psychopath to have the nuclear codes? A care aide sounds more species-extending, and a lot more stable than fake billionaire gameshow hosts.

Juneteenth is my sister and my late father's 96 birthday. I will take a break next week in celebration and remembrance.

 

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The Edge of the World...

Giant Ice Shelf Crumbling Faster than ExpectedIcebergs break away from Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica last year. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming

Antarctica’s monster Pine Island Glacier—one of the fastest melting glaciers on the continent—is giving climate scientists new reasons to worry.

The trouble has to do with its ice shelf, a frozen ledge at the edge of the Pine Island Glacier. The ice shelf helps stabilize and contain the vast flow of ice behind it.

But now it’s crumbling into pieces.

In the last five years alone, more than a fifth of the ice shelf has broken away in the form of gigantic icebergs, which fall into the ocean and drift away.

At the same time, the glacier has begun losing ice at a faster rate. Since 2017, the speed of the ice flowing from the glacier into the sea has accelerated by 12%.

These losses are summarized in a new study, published Friday in the journal Science Advances.

The big question is what will happen next, according to lead study author Ian Joughin, a glaciologist at the University of Washington. There’s a chance the ice shelf may stabilize and the flow of ice will slow down, or at least stop speeding up.

Then again, “the other scenario is this process will continue and the shelf will fall apart far more quickly than we expected,” he told E&E News.

Giant Ice Shelf Crumbling Faster than Expected, Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American

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Common Sense...

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Thomas Paine

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, History, Human Rights

Note: This post meant for Friday was delayed by a crashing hard drive. I now have a brand NEW solid state version thanks to Best Buy and the Geek Squad (shameless plug). I now have the dubious and quaint job of finding all of my files on this newer, faster drive.

At a time when statues that honor our past often whitewash that history or honor traitors, Paine’s is a legacy all Americans can be proud of today and which our nation should honor. Paine was a thinker far ahead of his time. Almost uniquely among the Founding Fathers he opposed slavery and favored abolition, called for a progressive income tax to pay for universal education (including for both sexes), a welfare system for poor relief, pensions, women’s rights, and more. He was an eloquent advocate for equality and representative government, writing, “The true and only true basis of representative government is equality of rights.” He added, “the danger arises from exclusions.”

Thomas Paine was one the greatest political writers and philosophers of his time; his best-selling works, Common Sense, The American Crisis, Rights of Man, and The Age of Reason fundamentally altered the political and social landscape of the 18th and 19th centuries and helped forge the United States of America.

Thomas Paine embodies the American Dream in a selfless way, rising from humble origins and penury to become a foremost political figure of his time, a friend to humanity and a foe to tyrants. He never sought personal power or wealth; instead, he championed the rights of the “common” people and believed emphatically in the dignity and rights of humans, which drove him to challenge the traditional authority of kings and dogmas of established churches, forever changing the course of human history.

Thomas Paine helped create America. It’s time America honored his legacy.

Thomas Paine Memorial Association

We saw to our horror a modern insurrection on January 6, 2021. As the battle ensign of Robert E. Lee's North Virginia Regiment paraded the halls of the Capitol during the siege, we discovered later the number of confederate figures venerated at the "Temple of Democracy" as well as state Capitols and cities that were guilty of the first insurrection.

Thomas Paine was as much a Founding Father to the United States of America as any other whose histories have been whitewashed, and mythologized to the point of unrealistic apotheosis. He apparently named the United States (lately, an oxymoron), and penned the lines you've probably heard in one form, or another:

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. When we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price on its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”

He was a scientist, poet, philosopher, scholar, and best-selling author. He was a deist, as were most of the Founding Fathers, meaning they believed in a God, just not a sovereign one intimately tied into, or interested in human affairs. There is such a thing as the Jeffersonian Bible, where Thomas Jefferson took scissors to every miraculous occurrence in the tome. Yet like the Tulsa Massacre and other vile atrocities masked by state propaganda, Paine’s history is deliberately hidden: unknown except to atheists, agnostics, freethinking societies, historians and theologians who study him, and humanists who revere him.

Despite the artistic flow of his prose that inspired a revolution against the British Empire and birth of its American analogue, there are no statues of him at our Capitol, the seat of our power. It is ironic the vitriol against the District of Columbia becoming the 51st state, existing as the last visible example of literal taxation without representation. “It would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”

History is best defined as a study of past events, particularly human events, to learn important lessons from them. History gains insights from the past; science make hypotheses, design experiments, looking for patterns to make predictions that can hopefully improve our futures, extend our lives, and maybe, our civilization.

Thomas Paine, and the Tulsa Massacre: both are sins of omission, both leave a citizenry of a federal republic uninformed. Uninformed citizens don't make decisions using faculties of critical thinking skills, since that part of the brain is unused, if not atrophied. Uninformed citizens cannot manage the responsibilities of a democratic republic. Uninformed citizens are anathema to a democracy. Such citizens are open to conspiracy theories, as nature abhors a vacuum. What would our country be if we faced our past, and planned logically for our futures? Gaslighting history and ignoring science is a disastrous combination that limits our survival runway as a species. Without global cooperation, management of resources, addressing income inequality that exacerbated our response to the pandemic, systemic racism that impoverishes not just BIPOC, but nations, we will crumble, as other empires have. The Mayas sacrificed fellow tribesmen and women to a water god to eliminate drought. New flash: it didn't work out too well for them.

Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. When we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value.

It is not the time to tire. We must defeat this evil, or witness the death of democracy.

Our next actions will either save, or doom the republic.

Our next actions will be guided either by apathy, or common sense.

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Un-Democracy...

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PBS: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/mccarthy/

 

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

 

Even presidents who don’t believe in history need a historian to rely on. When asked, in 2014, by a delegation of students and history teachers for his chosen chronicler of Russia’s past, Vladimir Putin came up with a single name: Ivan Ilyin.

 

Ilyin is a figure who might have been easily lost to history were it not for the posthumous patronage of Russia’s leader. Putin first drew attention to him – Ilyin was a philosopher, not a historian, a Russian who died in exile in Switzerland in 1954 – when he organized the repatriation of Ilyin’s remains for reburial in Moscow in 2005. Ilyin’s personal papers, held in a library in Michigan, were also brought “home” at the president’s request. New editions of Ilyin’s dense books of political philosophy became popular in Kremlin circles – and all of Russia’s civil servants reportedly received a collection of his essays in 2014. And when Putin explained Russia’s need to combat the expansion of the European Union and laid out the argument to invade Ukraine, it was Ilyin’s arguments on which the president [relied].

 

Timothy Snyder begins his pattern-making deconstruction of recent Russian history – which by design, he argues, is indistinguishable from recent British and American history – with a comprehensive account of Putin’s reverence for the work of Ilyin. Like much of Snyder’s analysis in this un-ignorable book, the framing offers both a disturbing and persuasive insight.

 

Ilyin, an early critic of Bolshevism, had been expelled by the Soviets in 1922. In Germany, where he wrote favorably of the rise of Hitler and the example of Mussolini, he developed ideas for Russian fascism, which could counter the effects of the 1917 revolution. As a thread through his nationalist rhetoric, he proposed a lost “Russian spirit”, which in its essence reflected a Christian God’s original creation before the fall and drew on a strongly masculine “pure” sexual energy (he had been psychoanalyzed by Freud). A new Russian nation should be established, Ilyin argued, to defend and promote that ineffable spirit against all external threats – not only communism but also individualism. To achieve that end, Ilyin outlined a “simulacrum” of democracy in which the Russian people would speak “naturally” with one voice, dependent on a leader who was cast as a “redeemer” for returning true Russian culture to its people. (My insert: Make Russia Great Again?) Elections would be “rituals” designed to endorse that power, periodically “uniting the nation in a gesture of subjugation.”

 

The Road to Unfreedom by Timothy Snyder review – chilling and un-ignorable, Tim Adams. The Guardian

 

Black Wall Street was razed in 1921, the bombing by air dramatized in the sequel to Watchmen on HBO. Rosewood was massacred in 1923. The steamroller of violence began in 1919 after "The Great War," we know as World War I as African American soldiers returned from the war and filled factory jobs that whites found themselves competing for. The struggle for resources fosters violence. Standardized testing, De Jure redlining, and structural racism are all bloodless coups of violence. It is Pontius Pilate washing his hands before the crucifixion, but the aims and the ends are absolutely congruent.

 

In our country, one of the two major parties is actively practicing un-democracy: they are obviously not interested in "bipartisanship," except as a political cudgel on the democrats; there are 47 states logging hundreds of legislative maneuvers to make it harder for black and indigenous people of color (BIPOC) to VOTE. Armed "poll watchers" can intimidate, film, potential voters. This precedent is ominous now that you don't need a permit, or training to "open carry" in Texas: just a brain, no matter the state (or, damage) of an individual mind, and a functioning trigger finger. The ongoing, dystopian Arizona "fraud-it" is as much a template as January 6, 2021. If not challenged, we will see both again. In a two-party system, both have to accept that if your party lost the election, it's your job to come with better arguments the next time. Now, the equivalent of a tantrum is being constructed, modeled after the commander of covfefe Pablum, just one where votes are suppressed, gallows might be built, bullets likely fly, and blood from BIPOC bodies runs red.

 

“Not having a January 6 Commission to look into exactly what occurred is a slap in the faces of all the officers who did their jobs that day,” Gladys Sicknick said in a statement provided to POLITICO. “I suggest that all Congressmen and Senators who are against this Bill visit my son’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery and, while there, think about what their hurtful decisions will do to those officers who will be there for them going forward.”

 

“Putting politics aside, wouldn’t they want to know the truth of what happened on January 6? If not, they do not deserve to have the jobs they were elected to do,” she added.

 

Among the Republican senators who agreed to meet with the group, according to a source with knowledge of the schedule: Sens. Mitt Romney (Utah), Rob Portman (Ohio), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Susan Collins (Maine), Roger Marshall (Kansas), John Barrasso (Wyo.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Mike Lee (Utah), Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.).

 

Mother of deceased Capitol Police officer presses GOP senators to back Jan. 6 commission, Melanie Zanona, Nicholas Wu, Politico

 

The army hired Boston lawyer Joseph Welch to make its case. At a session on June 9, 1954, McCarthy charged that one of Welch's attorneys had ties to a Communist organization. As an amazed television audience looked on, Welch responded with the immortal lines that ultimately ended McCarthy's career: "Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness." When McCarthy tried to continue his attack, Welch angrily interrupted, "Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?"

 

Overnight, McCarthy's immense national popularity evaporated. Censured by his Senate colleagues, ostracized by his party, and ignored by the press, McCarthy died three years later, 48 years old and a broken man.

 

"Have You No Sense of Decency?" The United States Senate, June 9, 1954

 

These Senate Republicans blocked the January 6 commission bill using the antebellum filibuster.

 

Decency? I would say, that is a no.

 

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