politics (49)

Occam's on Steroids...

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Image source: Dictionary dot com

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

Originally from the entry: Apathy, Crisis, and Zappa (another blog I posted to before WordPress).

So what exactly is a constitutional crisis? We should be clear about what does — and, more importantly, does not — merit this description. It’s possible to have a major political crisis even if the Constitution is crystal clear on the remedy or to have a constitutional crisis that doesn’t ruffle many feathers.

Political and legal observers generally divide constitutional crises into four categories:

1. The Constitution doesn’t say what to do.

The U.S. Constitution is brief and vague. (Compare it to a state constitution sometime.) This vagueness has one major advantage: It makes an 18th-century document flexible enough to effectively serve a 21st-century society. But sometimes the Constitution leaves us without sorely needed instructions, such as when William Henry Harrison became the first president to die in office in 1841. At the time, it wasn't clear whether the vice president should fully assume the office or just safeguard the role until a new president could somehow be chosen. (It wasn't until 1967 that the 25th amendment officially settled the question.) When Vice President John Tyler took over, no one was sure if he was the real president or merely the acting president, nor was anyone certain what should happen next. Tyler asserted that he was, in fact, the new president, and since then, vice presidents who have had to step into service as chief executive have been treated as fully legitimate, but early confusion took its toll on the perceived legitimacy of Tyler’s presidency.

2. The Constitution’s meaning is in question.

Sometimes the Constitution’s attempt to address an issue is phrased in a way that could allow multiple interpretations, leaving experts disagreeing about what it means and making it difficult or impossible to address a pressing problem. In this way, both the Great Depression and the Civil War created constitutional crises. The problem sparked by the Civil War is obvious: The fight rested on a bunch of unsettled constitutional questions, the biggest of which was about slavery and the federal government’s ability to control it, a subject on which the Constitution was silent. And while the Constitution provided information on how a state could join the union, it didn't say whether one could leave it or how it would go about doing so. It obviously took a war to resolve this crisis.

3. The Constitution tells us what to do, but it’s not politically feasible.

This category of constitutional crisis can crop up when presidential elections produce contested and confusing results. In the 2000 presidential election, when George W. Bush and Al Gore were separated by just a few hundred votes in Florida, the tipping-point state whose electoral votes would determine the winner, the state’s election results remained contested for weeks due to a number of irregularities and a secretary of state who seemed determined to cut a recount short. In theory, the Constitution allowed for various solutions to this problem: Congress could have decided which of Florida’s electors to recognize, or Congress could have determined that neither candidate had achieved a majority in the Electoral College and let the House of Representatives decide on a president (per the process spelled out in the 12th Amendment). Such outcomes, while certainly constitutional, would have been politically infeasible, creating a significant legitimacy crisis for the new president.

4. Institutions themselves fail.

The Constitution’s system of checks and balances sets the various branches against each other for the laudable purpose of constraining tyranny. However, due to partisan polarization, individual corruption, or any number of other reasons, sometimes the political institutions in these arrangements fail, sending the governmental system into a crisis. This was the type of constitutional crisis commentators were seemingly referring to in describing reports that Customs and Border Protection agents (members of the executive branch) weren't following orders from the judicial branch.

Five Thirty-Eight blog: The 4 Main Types of Constitutional Crises, Julia Azari and Seth Masket

Secret Service Jan 6 text erased despite Congress' request

Jan. 6 texts missing for Trump Homeland Security secretary and deputy

Occam's razor: a scientific and philosophical rule that entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily which is interpreted as requiring that the simplest of competing theories be preferred to the more complex or that explanations of unknown phenomena be sought first in terms of known quantities Merriam-Webster

So, what do we call this?

Too many people who know that you're supposed to keep official records (Secret Service, Homeland Security) aren't keeping official records.

The GOP had CPAC in Vicktor Urban's authoritarian country (he's apparently not a big fan of diversity, and by extension, neither is the GOP).

Homeland Security: a lot of angst about the name came up post 9/11 because it sounded so - "Nazi." This is, sadly, when Alex Jones gained a lot of traction. He popularized "9/11 truthers" before he saw where his depraved bread was buttered with Sandy Hook, lying about dead children, and anything else he could glom onto for a fast buck that I hope he's finally being separated from his exchequer. It's like the chips all fell in place for the Joker to take over Arkham, and Batman is TDY across the universe with the Justice League.

Dumbo Gambino lied to 9/11 victims about going after the Saudis (15 of the 19 highjackers) to their faces in the height of their grief and loss. That hasn't stopped the sociopath from hosting the LIV golf tournament at his Bedminster course, because that would take something he has ZERO in his emotional fuel tank: empathy. It's all about money and protecting those who he thinks will give him boatloads more.

Malcolm Nance's new book: "They Want to Kill Americans" couldn't be starker. The Introduction had me up past midnight! He's gone back to Ukraine to help them win the war. I sometimes think it's safer than America right now.

Orange Satan didn't do this by himself. He had a lot of complicit help that doesn't mind turning our high-sounding Constitution into toilet paper (for flushing). He just saw where the wind was blowing after the country elected its first and so far, only black president, and lost its collective mind!

Coup. Insurrection. Insurgency. They're all words. We went from Obama's tan suit and Michelle Obama's bared arms controversies to the Grand Pooh-Bah storming the Capitol to save us from whatever addles their loose minds. For the record: the 1995 Million Man March was a peaceful exercise of the First Amendment that resulted in no Capital Police Officers' deaths, storming of the Capital, the display of an insurrectionist flag, Grand Pooh-Bahs howling at the moon, or the deposit of urine and feces.

The only option Malcolm gives in interviews about his book is to vote. Vote in record numbers every election. Vote for the proverbial dog catcher. Nothing is trivial. Fascism is a fungus on the body politic. You can't give it any room to grow, otherwise, we'll have a January 6 in 50 state Capitols. Dysfunction equals dystopia, not democracy or civilization.

Maybe we're not calling it a constitutional crisis because four decades of dumbing down a previously "informed citizenry" has led to the dichotomy of proletariat drones carrying "smart phones."

Also from the previous blog post:

"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

A few months before January 6, someone was flushing it.

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Counting in Counties...

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Credit: Amanda Montañez; Source: “Political Environment and Mortality Rates in the United States, 2001-19: Population-Based Cross-Sectional Analysis,” by Haider J. Warraich et al., in BMJ, Vol. 377. Published online June 7, 2022

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

Reality literally bites.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the link between politics and health became glaringly obvious. Democrat-leaning “blue” states were more likely to enact mask requirements and vaccine and social distancing mandates. Republican-leaning “red” states were much more resistant to health measures. The consequences of those differences emerged by the end of 2020 when rates of hospitalization and death from COVID rose in conservative counties and dropped in liberal ones. That divergence continued through 2021 when vaccines became widely available. And although the highly transmissible Omicron variant narrowed the gap in infection rates, hospitalization and death rates, which are dramatically reduced by vaccines, remain higher in Republican-leaning parts of the country.

But COVID is only the latest chapter in the story of politics and health. “COVID has really magnified what had already been brewing in American society, which was that, based on where you lived, your risk of death was much different,” says Haider J. Warraich, a physician and researcher at the VA Boston Healthcare System and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

In a study published in June in The BMJ, Warraich and his colleagues showed that over the two decades prior to the pandemic, there was a growing gap in mortality rates for residents of Republican and Democratic counties across the U.S. In 2001, the study’s starting point, the risk of death among red and blue counties (as defined by the results of presidential elections) was similar. Overall, the U.S. mortality rate has decreased in the nearly two decades since then (albeit not as much as in most other high-income countries). But the improvement for those living in Republican counties by 2019 was half that of those in Democratic counties—11 percent lower versus 22 percent lower.

People in Republican Counties Have Higher Death Rates Than Those in Democratic Counties, Lydia Denworth, Scientific American

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Leverage and Looting...

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Image Source: Storytelling for Everyone

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Democracy, Fascism, Politics

In Roman mythology, Janus was the god of doors, gates, and transitions. Janus represented the middle ground between both concrete and abstract dualities such as life/death, beginning/end, youth/adulthood, rural/urban, war/peace, and barbarism/civilization.

Source: Anderson Lock Blog (they're apparently locksmiths and historians on the side)

Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression runs on the money Russia gets by selling fossil fuels to Europe. And while Ukraine has, incredibly, repelled Russia’s attempt to seize Kyiv, Putin won’t be definitively stopped until Europe ends its energy dependence.

This means that Germany — whose political and business leaders insist that they can’t do without Russian natural gas, even though many of its own economists disagree — has in effect become Putin’s prime enabler. This is shameful; it is also incredibly hypocritical given recent German history.

The background: Germany has been warned for decades about the risks of becoming dependent on Russian gas. But its leaders focused on the short-run benefits of cheap energy and ignored those warnings. On the eve of the Ukraine war, 55 percent of German gas came from Russia.

There’s no question that quickly cutting off, or even greatly reducing, this gas flow would be painful. But multiple economic analyses — from the Brussels-based Bruegel Institute, the International Energy Agency, and ECONtribute, a think tank sponsored by the Universities of Bonn and Cologne — have found that the effects of drastically reducing gas imports from Russia would be far from catastrophic to Germany.

How Germany Became Putin’s Enabler, Paul Krugman, New York Times Opinion

Humans are the only obstacle to enacting renewable energy, and it is because of the secular gods we worship.

The European term "oligarch" has come into vogue because of Russia's war crimes in Ukraine. "Oligarchy: a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes," Merriam-Webster. The Austin Chronicle wrote a prescient piece in 2010: "Letters at 3 AM: 'O' is for Oligarchy," and the 2014 essay by professors Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page: "Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens" (Cambridge University Press). The end of the abstract:

The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. Our results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.

In what follows, we briefly review the four theoretical traditions that form the framework for our analyses and highlight some of the most prominent empirical research associated with each. We then describe our data and measures and present our results. We conclude by discussing the implications of our work for understanding American democracy and by identifying some of the directions for future research that our findings suggest.

Neither 2010 nor 2014 targeted Russian oligarchs. Our versions are called billionaires.

Investopedia definition of "billionaire":

The term billionaire refers to an individual with assets or a net worth of at least one billion currency units in their native currency such as dollars, euros, or pounds. Billionaires are extremely rich, with assets ranging from cash and cash equivalents to real estate, as well as business and personal property.

Subtracting liabilities from assets results in an individual's net worth. A billionaire's assets generally include things like cash and liquid investments, personal property such as real estate, jewelry, cars and other vehicles, and furniture. Business interests such as equipment and commercial properties are also included if the individual has a personal stake in a corporation.

Billionaires make up a small and very elite club of powerful individuals—both men and women—in the world. These people control enormous sums of money and the power and influence that comes with it.

Russian oligarchs steal their monies from Russian citizens and hide their gain in America, England, France: anywhere other than the places and eleven time zones that they live.

The Pandora Papers revealed the offshore shell game our plucky, Ayn Rand billionaire class (as well as some millionnaire celebrities we may LIKE) use to shield their money from taxes: the British Virgin Island, Belize, Samoa. American oligarchs own politicians, mostly in the Republican Party, but then there's Joe Manchin and Kristen Senema. The Democratic Leadership Council once embraced a "third way," ostensibly to siphon a lot of that American oligarch blood money to their election coffers, just like their Republican colleagues. It just meant they couldn't pay that much attention to African Americans, Hispanics, the LGBT, Women, and their concerns. Blue-collar workers, feeling rightly abandoned, fled to the former Grand Old Party, fed a steady forty-year diet of white grievance minstrelsy through AM talk radio, Fox Propaganda, and its myriad clones on sponsored networks and Internet cult personalities. After forty years of gaslighting, the minstrelsy has produced performance artists masquerading as politicians.

Gregg Abbott wants to bus immigrants at the border to Washington. He hasn't done anything since the deep freeze in Texas revealed their independent, libertarian ERCOT grid wasn't ready for the impact of climate change. Speaking of that, Texas climatologists are warning conditions are favoring a long drought this summer, summers that routinely hover around triple digits on the regular. Droughts mean fires, and evacuations like the ones we've seen in California are more likely. But no matter. Book banning. Bounties on women that exercise their rights to abortion (for now). Busing immigrants that I assume he'll have to "round up" (I doubt that, nor fighting drought fires is cheap, and he can't just stick the blue Texans with the bill). Book banning. Bounties. Critical Race Theory. Priorities.

A single individual making $100,000 per year will make a million in a decade. That same person would need 10,000 years to make their first billion dollars, or storage places for the monies in countries that they don't live in, and pliable politicians and banks to hide the theft.

Fossil fuels give American and Russian oligarchs leverage over the rest of the planet. Whether your grocers are Cosco, Harris Teeter, HEB, Kroger, Sam's Club, or Stop and Shop, the cost of food is directly proportional to the price of gas the truck driver has to pay at the pump to deliver it. The cost of gas is directly in your face at the pump. Students are paying legal loan sharks for the cost of education in America, more than in any other similar industrialized nation. Thus homeownership is falling among young Americans. Five-thirty-eight says they're leaving organized religion, and that might have a direct correlation to student loan payments that prevent them from moving out of their parent's house, settling down, and paying tithes and offerings as well as the aforementioned grievance minstrelsy. Churches without young people become museums. But the cost of living is leverage oligarchs execute over the populations of their countries. As many misgivings as I have for Elon Musk, we need SpaceX and other launch systems to get to the International Space Station or any other endeavor we pursue. Soyez isn't a space program: it's leverage.

Janus represented the middle ground between both concrete and abstract dualities such as life/death, beginning/end, youth/adulthood, rural/urban, war/peace, and barbarism/civilization.

Or, clean energy and extortion, existence and extinction, authoritarianism and democracy.

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Dystopian and Unthinkable...

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An activist holds a candle during a vigil in Lafayette Park for nurses who died during the COVID-19 pandemic on January 13, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Credit: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Topics: Civics, COVID-19, Epidemiology, Existentialism, Politics

With all due respect to the recently departed former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, she started using the phrase "indispensable nation" after political reporter Sydney Blumenthal coined it. From Foreign Policy Magazine:

In his memoir of the Clinton presidency, The Clinton Wars, Blumenthal elaborated on what the phrase was intended to represent: “Only the United States had the power to guarantee global security: without our presence or support, multilateral endeavors would fail.” Albright, then secretary of state, began using the phrase often, and most prominently in February 1998, while defending the policy of coercive diplomacy against Iraq over its limited cooperation with U.N. weapons inspectors when, during an interview on the “Today Show,” she said: “If we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us.”

The Myth of the Indispensable Nation, Micah Zenko, Foreign Policy

Though politically expedient, and in the parlance of activism, it "chants" well, we're not indispensable, nor are we exceptional. We allowed the worst of a pandemic to spread by ineptitude and Twitter addiction, science denialism, and conspiracy theory. Since the introduction of cable news and siloes of news consumption, we have citizens that believe in different versions of reality. It puts the "United States" in the realm of the oxymoron.

Now, we're at this grim milestone. Conservatives live to push buttons, "own the libs," grift off culture issues, and keep their constituents at high levels of anxiety and anger with right-wing echo chambers to ensure they vote for them to "own the libs." Progressives think high-minded logic, social media presence, "woke-ness," diversity, equity, and inclusion by proximity will produce a Star Trek utopia, because of high-minded logic. I purposely made each perspective a grammatical ouroboros. We're at a grim milestone because our major political parties have wholly different means of evaluating reality, and because compromise is frowned upon: "DINO, RINO." There are dark, nefarious forces that only the well-connected to Q-drops or Alex Jones can decipher.

431,000 non-farm jobs were added, and the unemployment rate fell to 3.6%. Yet, the 46th president's approval numbers are in the toilet largely because he isn't as entertaining as the last spastic, pathologically lying, hand-waving caricature of a mob boss with a dead ferret toupee, a metaphor for a lifetime of hiding hard truths from himself.

We are codependent on being perpetually angry, and not wed to the idea of speaking to our neighbors who might not consume the same media. We thus base our understanding of the world and facts on separate lenses we view reality through.

Tom Nichols, former professor at Annapolis Naval Academy, opined about "The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters" in 2017, and it doesn't look like we've turned a corner from that analysis of our national death spiral. Because we can "Google it," we're a Dunning-Kruger nation of narcissists and debase people who put a lot of work into understanding how the world works. We are a byword and a proverb. We are Guy Debord's "Society of the Spectacle."

“The whole idea of a democratic application of skepticism is that everyone should have the essential tools to effectively and constructively evaluate claims to knowledge.”

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

*****

Laura Jackson feels the loss of her husband Charlie like she is missing a part of herself. He died of COVID early in the pandemic, on May 17, 2020, just weeks after the couple celebrated his 50th birthday. Charlie was an Army veteran who served in Iraq during Desert Storm, and Laura finds herself returning to images of war and loss—to those who have lost a limb but still feel its phantom tingle, who unthinkingly reach for a glass of water or try to step out of bed before realizing what has been lost forever. Even now she still turns to find Charlie, eager to share a joy or a disappointment, only to remember with a jolt that there is a missing space where he once was.

“I don’t know that you ever get over it,” says Jackson, who lives in Charlotte, N.C. “Your person who was supposed to be there for life—to have that tragically ripped away has been a huge, huge adjustment to make.”

The U.S. will record one million confirmed deaths from COVID in the next several weeks. This toll is likely an undercount because there are more than 200,000 other excess deaths that go beyond typical mortality rates, caused in part by the lingering effects of the disease and the strain of the pandemic. These immense losses are shaping our country—how we live, work, and love, how we play and pray and learn and grow.

“We will see the rippling effects of the pandemic on our society and the way it impacts individuals for generations,” says Nyesha Black, director of demographic research at the University of Alabama. “This is definitely a huge marker in the way we will think about society moving forward—it will be that anchor event.” COVID has become the third leading cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer.

These deaths have wide-ranging consequences. The effects on children may be the longest-lasting. In the U.S., an estimated 243,000 children have lost a caregiver to COVID—including 194,000 who lost one or both parents—and the psychological and economic aftershocks can have lifetime negative impacts on their education and career.

What One Million COVID Dead Mean for the U.S.’s Future, Melody Schreiber, Scientific American

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The Way It's Supposed To Be...

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Topics: Civilization, International Space Station, Politics, Space Exploration

ALMATY, March 30 (Reuters) - A U.S. astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts safely landed in Kazakhstan on Wednesday after leaving the International Space Station aboard the same capsule despite heightened antagonism between Moscow and Washington over the conflict in Ukraine.

The flight -- carrying NASA's Mark Vande Hei and Russians Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov back to Earth -- had been closely watched to determine whether escalating strife had spilled over into longtime cooperation in space between the two former Cold War adversaries.

Russian space agency Roscosmos broadcast footage of the landing from the Kazakh steppe and said a group of technical and medical specialists had been dispatched to help the astronauts out of the capsule.

"The crew is feeling good after landing, according to rescuers," Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin wrote on Telegram messenger.

Vande Hei, who had completed his second ISS mission, logged a U.S. space-endurance record of 355 consecutive days in orbit, surpassing the previous 340-day record set by astronaut Scott Kelly in 2016, according to NASA.

U.S. astronaut, two Russian cosmonauts return home from ISS, Olzhas Auyezov and Steve Gorman, Reuters

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Breadbaskets and War...

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Image Source: Hub Pages

Topics: Biology, Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, Democracy, Existentialism, Politics

The cornucopia’s history lies in Greek mythology. There are a lot of different stories it might have originated from, but the most common one tells the story of the lightning god, Zeus. As an infant, Zeus was in great danger from his father, Cronus. Zeus was taken to the island of Crete and cared for and nursed by a goat named Amalthea. One day, he accidentally broke off one of her horns, and in order to repay her, he used his powers to ensure that the horn would be a symbol of eternal nourishment, which is where we get the idea that the cornucopia represents abundance.

The History Behind the “Horn of Plenty”, Winnie Lam, Daily Nexus

*****

Russia’s war highlights the fragility of the global food supply — sustained investment is needed to feed the world in a changing climate.

Six boxes of wheat seed sit in our cold store. This is the first time in a decade that my team has not been able to send to Ukraine the improved germplasm we’ve developed as part of the Global Wheat Program at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Texcoco, Mexico. International postal and courier services are suspended. The seed had boosted productivity year on year in the country, which is now being devastated by war.

Our work builds on the legacy of Norman Borlaug, who catalyzed the Green Revolution and staved off famine in South Asia in the 1970s. Thanks to him, I see how a grain of wheat can affect the world.

Among the horrifying humanitarian consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are deeply troubling short-, medium- and long-term disruptions to the global food supply. Ukraine and Russia contribute nearly one-third of all wheat exports (as well as almost one-third of the world’s barley and one-fifth of its corn, providing an estimated 11% of the world’s calories). Lebanon, for instance, gets 80% of its wheat from Ukraine alone.

Broken bread — avert global wheat crisis caused by invasion of Ukraine, Alison Bentley, Nature

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M.A.D...

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Image Source: Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, John A. Dutton, e-Education Institute

Topics: Alternate Energy, Battery, Biofuels, Climate Change, Environment, Politics

Want another reason to loathe Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? Just look at how it may completely doom the Paris climate accords — and our planet.

According to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the problem of climate change — which he admitted was “not solved” during the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow at the end of 2021 — “is getting worse” as Russia invades Ukraine.

As if things weren’t bad enough, Guterres insisted that the conflict is making climate change much worse, given how it’s disrupted fossil fuel supply chains in Europe.

“Countries could become so consumed by the immediate fossil fuel supply gap that they neglect or knee-cap policies to cut fossil fuel use,” Guterres said in a speech to The Economist‘s Sustainability Summit, his first climate change-focused addressed since COP26, continuing: “This is madness. Addiction to fossil fuels is mutually assured destruction.”

UN: Ukrainian War Fossil Fuel ‘Madness’ Might Destroy The Planet, Noor Al-Sibai, Futurism

"How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" John Kerry, C-SPAN, as spokesman for Veterans Against the Vietnam War, now the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate.

Paraphrased, "how rich are you as the last richest man on a dead planet?"

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A BFD...

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This one map shows the mounting tensions between NATO and Russia, Jeremy Bender, Business Insider, July 7, 2016

Topics: Existentialism, Fascism, Politics

I have been working on my dissertation, so I have understandably been missing from blogging. Now, I don't know if I will be able to give my final defense. One needs a functional planet for that.

Information bubbles are a big problem here in America. People sink themselves into warm, soothing cocoons of agreeable media and opinions until they lose touch with reality. It’s how we end up with stuff like Republicans admiring Vladimir Putin more than President Joe Biden.

Now imagine you took somebody who lived in such a bubble and gave them control of the world’s largest country by landmass and all of the vast natural resources that came with it, along with an enormous army. Oh, and also nuclear weapons. So many nuclear weapons. Do this, and you get the aforementioned Putin, whom Andreas Kluth describes as someone who not only lives in a bubble, but also has the power to reinforce it with quivering toadies attesting to the reality in Putin’s brain, that he is a stable genius with history, public opinion and international law on his side, and also a snappy dresser and the best at judo.

Putin’s Secret Weapon Is a Bubble Made of Toadies, Oil, and Nukes, Mark Gongloff, Bloomberg Opinion

Abstract

This paper presents the results of an indirect assessment of the personality of Vladimir Putin, president of the Russian Federation, from the conceptual perspective of personologist Theodore Millon.

Psychodiagnostically relevant data regarding Putin were extracted from open-source intelligence and synthesized into a personality profile using the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria (MIDC), which yields 34 normal and maladaptive personality classifications congruent with Axis II of DSM-IV.

The personality profile yielded by the MIDC was analyzed on the basis of interpretive guidelines provided in the MIDC and Millon Index of Personality Styles manuals. Putin’s primary personality patterns were found to be Dominant/controlling (a measure of aggression or hostility), Ambitious/self-serving (a measure of narcissism), and Conscientious/dutiful, with secondary Retiring/reserved (introverted) and Dauntless/adventurous (risk-taking) tendencies and lesser Distrusting/suspicious features. The blend of primary patterns in Putin’s profile constitutes a composite personality type aptly described as an "expansionist hostile enforcer."

Dominant individuals enjoy the power to direct others and to evoke obedience and respect; they are tough and unsentimental and often make effective leaders. This personality pattern defines the “hostile” component of Putin’s personality composite.

Ambitious individuals are bold, competitive, and self-assured; they easily assume leadership roles, expect others to recognize their special qualities, and often act as though entitled. This personality pattern delineates the “expansionist” component of Putin’s personality composite.

Conscientious individuals are dutiful and diligent, with a strong work ethic and careful attention to detail; they are adept at crafting public policy but often lack the retail political skills required to consummate their policy objectives and are more technocratic than visionary. This personality pattern fashions the “enforcer” component of Putin’s personality composite.

Retiring (introverted) individuals tend not to develop strong ties to others, are somewhat deficient in the ability to recognize the needs or feelings of others, and may lack spontaneity and interpersonal vitality.

Dauntless individuals are adventurous, individualistic, daring personalities resistant to deterrence and inclined to take calculated risks.

Putin’s major personality-based strengths in a political role are his commanding demeanor and confident assertiveness. His major personality-based shortcomings are his uncompromising intransigence, lack of empathy and congeniality, and cognitive inflexibility.

The Political Personality of Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin, Aubrey Immelman, and Joseph V. Trenzeluk, Department of Psychology, Saint John's University

At a joint German-Russian cabinet meeting in Siberia in 2006, German Chancellor Angela Merkel unsuccessfully tried to persuade President Vladimir Putin that cabinet ministers should be treated with respect rather than contempt. Resentment is the emotion for superiors while anger is reserved for equals. But contempt is the emotion reserved for those we regard as inferiors.

Now, Putin’s contempt for others is spreading far beyond his cabinet to include the entire western leadership, from Cameron to Obama. Putin’s personality and thinking have become grossly distorted by the effects of enormous, largely unfettered power on his brain. Since then, Putin has invaded Crimea and engineered the swift dissolution of a country.

Interpreting political behavior in psychological terms is always a risk: Ukraine’s ethnic balance is a fragile one and there is the scent of possible Crimean oil reserves as a juicy incentive for Putin’s political adventurism. But perhaps most politically useful of all is the whipped-up nationalist fervor to bolster Putin’s hold over a decaying Russian economy with its aging workforce and corrupt institutions.

But, after 15 years in power, psychological factors have to be taken into consideration in analyzing Putin’s actions and, more importantly, in deciding how to respond to them. And contempt must be considered as one of the most important elements of his psychology. It is not only contempt for what he almost regards as weak—and, possibly in his macho world view, effeminate—Western leaders. More important is his contempt for their institutions such as international treaties and laws.

The Danger That Lurks Inside Vladimir Putin's Brain: Contempt is key to Putin's troubling psychological profile. Ian H. Robertson Ph.D., Psychology Today

In this country, we have an entire party, and Reich Wing echo chamber "rooting for Putin." If anything, this lack of patriotism doesn't "flatter" him: he would regard them with contempt.

If you're NOT willing to fight for your country, and its ideals, let's replay "Red Dawn," with Patrick Swayze not fighting for the Wolverines, but with the Russians.

Or, more close to home: maybe these Confederate and Nazi flag-carrying "patriots" instead of fighting for the homefront, join the Warsaw Pact as they roll over the Ottawa border into the United States? Hey, a white Russian country is coming to save white supremacy? Who gives a damn about a Constitution, the "rule of law," or democracy? Why would Putin bother keeping such traitors ALIVE?

Here's a formula for starting World War III:

1. Install a useful idiot in a contested election (America, 2016 - 2020, they tried in France, and the UK, maybe).

2. Get everyone in the country tired of the complexities of citizenship, and democracy (just leave me alone, and let me stream Netflix).

3. Put undesirables like ethnic minorities, LGBT, activists, and artists on "kill lists" (so NOT like Adolf Hitler, and the Nazis, o_9). White evangelicals should hereby be called "evilgelicals" for supporting a psychopath (they've had practice in America with Orange Satan).

4. Threaten the world with nuclear weapons, and Armageddon.

5. Run the world, or, what's LEFT of it, like Dr. Evil.

Biden said the incident occurred while he was touring Putin’s office in the Kremlin.

“I had an interpreter, and when he was showing me his office I said, ‘It’s amazing what capitalism will do, won’t it? A magnificent office!’ And he laughed. As I turned, I was this close to him,” Biden said, signaling that the two leaders were standing just inches apart. “I said, ‘Mr. Prime Minister, I’m looking into your eyes, and I don’t think you have a soul.’”

“And he looked back at me, and he smiled, and he said, ‘We understand one another.’” Biden said. “This is who this guy is!”

Biden to Putin: I don't think 'you have a soul', Justin Sink, The Hill

By extension and relation, I'm not sure the American Reich has a soul.

Ukraine had a Russian puppet put in place by Paul Manafort, who mysteriously worked pro bono as campaign manager for Dumbo Gambino, voted out by the people of Ukraine in 2014. Putin has a new puppet ready to go once he kills all on his list.

Ukraine came into focus over the "perfect phone call" that led to the first of two impeachments, the second for an insurrection by our former head of state.

Ukraine has vast mineral wealth: "manganese, bituminous and anthracite coal used for coke"; "titanium ore, bauxite, nepheline (a source of soda), alunite (a source of potash), and mercury (cinnabar, or mercuric sulfide) ores." Source: Britinnica.com. China controls over sixty percent of lithium and nickel refining (you need that for those "Green New Deal" car batteries). Wars over resources are as old as human civilization. Expect the cyber warfare in Ukraine to extend to Europe, and other countries, like America.

"This is the way the world ends.

"This is the way the world ends.

"This is the way the world ends."

The stanza is from TS Eliot's poem "The Hollow Men." The traditional ending is "not with a bang, but a whimper."

The bangs (plural) may precede the whimpers, screams, gnashing of teeth, and the eternal silence of extinction.

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Cobalt and Caveats...

Video Source: New York Times

Topics: Battery, Chemistry, Climate Change, Environment, Politics

KASULO, Democratic Republic of Congo — A man in a pinstripe suit with a red pocket square walked around the edge of a giant pit one April afternoon where hundreds of workers often toil in flip-flops, burrowing deep into the ground with shovels and pickaxes.

His polished leather shoes crunched on dust the miners had spilled from nylon bags stuffed with cobalt-laden rocks.

The man, Albert Yuma Mulimbi, is a longtime power broker in the Democratic Republic of Congo and chairman of a government agency that works with international mining companies to tap the nation’s copper and cobalt reserves, used in the fight against global warming.

Mr. Yuma’s professed goal is to turn Congo into a reliable supplier of cobalt, a critical metal in electric vehicles, and shed its anything-goes reputation for tolerating an underworld where children are put to work and unskilled and ill-equipped diggers of all ages get injured or killed.

“We have to reorganize the country and take control of the mining sector,” said Mr. Yuma, who had pulled up to the Kasulo site in a fleet of SUVs carrying a high-level delegation to observe the challenges there.

But to many in Congo and the United States, Mr. Yuma himself is a problem. As chairman of Gécamines, Congo’s state-owned mining enterprise, he has been accused of helping to divert billions of dollars in revenues, according to confidential State Department legal filings reviewed by The New York Times and interviews with a dozen current and former officials in both countries.

Hunt for the ‘Blood Diamond of Batteries’ Impedes Green Energy Push, Dionne Searcey, and Eric Lipton, New York Times

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Tech Authoritarianism...

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GIF source: Link below

Topics: Computer Science, Politics, Social Media

To build the metaverse, Facebook needs us to get used to smart glasses.

Last week Facebook released its new $299 “Ray-Ban Stories” glasses. Wearers can use them to record and share images and short videos, listen to music, and take calls. The people who buy these glasses will soon be out in public and private spaces, photographing and recording the rest of us, and using Facebook’s new “View” app to sort and upload that content.

My issue with these glasses is partially what they are, but mostly what they will become, and how that will change our social landscape.

How will we feel going about our lives in public, knowing that at any moment the people around us might be wearing stealth surveillance technology? People have recorded others in public for decades, but it’s gotten more difficult for the average person to detect, and Facebook’s new glasses will make it harder still since they resemble and carry the Ray-Ban brand.

That brand’s trusted legacy of “cool” could make Facebook’s glasses appeal to many more people than Snap Spectacles and other camera glasses. (Facebook also has roughly 2 billion more users than Snapchat.) And Facebook can take advantage of the global supply chain and retail outlet infrastructure of Luxottica, Ray-Ban’s parent company. This means the product won’t have to roll out slowly—even worldwide.

Why Facebook is using Ray-Ban to stake a claim on our faces, S.A. Applin, MIT Technology Review

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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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Timeline source: Key Media Solutions: "The Reverse Evolution of Social Media Platforms"

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Fascism, Human Rights, Politics, Star Trek

 

What happens when media and politics become forms of entertainment? As our world begins to look more and more like Orwell’s 1984, Neil’s Postman’s essential guide to the modern media is more relevant than ever.

“It’s unlikely that Trump has ever read Amusing Ourselves to Death, but his ascent would not have surprised Postman.” –CNN

 

Originally published in 1985, Neil Postman’s groundbreaking polemic about the corrosive effects of television on our politics and public discourse has been hailed as a twenty-first-century book published in the twentieth century. Now, with television joined by more sophisticated electronic media—from the Internet to cell phones to DVDs—it has taken on even greater significance. Amusing Ourselves to Death is a prophetic look at what happens when politics, journalism, education, and even religion become subject to the demands of entertainment. It is also a blueprint for regaining control of our media so that they can serve our highest goals.

 

“A brilliant, powerful, and important book. This is an indictment that Postman has laid down and, so far as I can see, an irrefutable one.” –Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World

 

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Showbusiness, Neil Postman, Penguin Random House

The "corrosive effects of television" Dr. Postman's polemic critiqued was [ironically], CNN, launched June 1, 1980, on a television executive's "big idea."

 

Movies like the Rocky Horror Picture Show and Star Wars became cult classics because as long as customers were buying tickets and popcorn, theater owners would play the show for months, and in the case of the two mentioned, each over a year. Ted Turner's "big idea" was inspired by the creation of HBO: Home Box Office. It was the single, and only cable entertainment that expanded Hollywood's earning power, as measured by Nielsen ratings. It was unique as most television stations ended their day's programming at midnight, and so did HBO, initially. Mission creep extended their air time to twenty-four hours. "Saturday Night Live" -- essentially, an improv show was crafted for night owls, as it tiptoed past that demarcation point, by design. Ted would develop a 24-hour news service of "infotainment." The Nielsen altar gods needed satisfaction and a gimmick.

 

I always thought infotainment was coined by actor, and filmmaker Mario Van Peeples, but its origin was as a pejorative: "soft" news, versus hard, serious news. At a joint conference in the UK for media academicians, the infotainers put on comedy skits from 1980 - 1990 in their gatherings. The madness became a method as it's obviously been copied on either of the cable news outlets that cloned themselves on Ted Turner's model. We evolved from a nation that went from President Richard Nixon winning forty-nine out of fifty states, thereby becoming the first Republican to sweep the south with his "Law and Order" shtick post-Kent State and the violence at the Democratic National Convention, to the reality that he would be impeached in the House, and likely convicted in the Senate by members of his party due to the Watergate break-ins. It was the sober digestion of information from ABC, CBS, NBC -- noncable, pre-infotainment outlets, by an "informed citizenry" regarding the culpability of a criminal president, a president that many had voted for.

Star Trek: Enterprise premiered on September 26, 2001. Due to its unfortunate timing fifteen days after 9/11, and theme of a hopeful future, as well as the former CBS president Les Moonves' stated aversion to science fiction, ended after four seasons. His helm at CBS imploded with a sex scandal thanks to #MeToo movement accountability.

"24": I've only seen two episodes, and my casual observation is Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer reasonably kept audiences on edge. The show entered the national zeitgeist in 2001: In a post-Vietnam, post-9/11 world, we needed some heroes, Tom Clancy novels were the water cooler conversation rage, Sly Stallone in Rocky version 17, or Rambo; Arnold Schwarzenegger in just about anything: we were itching for some ass to kick. Dennis Haysbert introduced the idea of an African American president before Barack Obama appeared on the scene, then all of a sudden, it wasn't a good idea beyond fantasy and Nielsen ratings. The show ran from 2001 - 2010. Liz Cheney is lionized for upholding The Constitution since the January 6, 2021 insurrection, but her dad fantasized he was a character on 24, Jack Bauer maybe, or Jack Ryan from Tom Clancy novels. In our discernment between reality and fantasy, we were collectively "jacked." The intersection between information and entertainment might have impacted her dad's decisions that led to launching a 20-year war in Afghanistan, prior to which the Taliban offered Osama Bin Laden (but war makes more money than justice); lying about, or "sexing up" intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, destabilizing that nation birthing ISIS, and the atrocities at Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo. Lawmakers on both sides profit mightily from world instability, not world peace. But we live in reality, not a cartoon.

What South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is doing, what Texas Governor Greg Abbot is doing, what Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is doing, what Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson was doing, the lamentations of Alabama Governor Kay Ivey-post her lifting mask orders and encouraging "common sense," is the multigenerational poisoning of "whiteness," where, in a self-fictitious story, every move you make works out; every conclusion is Pollyannaish with white picket fences: the "good guys" (you) always "win" at the end of a bloodless cartoon, roll credits. This alternative, fact-free non-reality isn't five-dimensional chess: it's a societal dissociative disorder. It's the aftermath of centuries of lying to one's selves and preferring the lie over the truth. Pollyannaish vision is why after 20 years and trillions of dollars, we're shocked that our efforts in Afghanistan, or Iraq didn't work, that "when they stand up, we'll stand down" was always an empty slogan. Not facing the realities of a deadly pandemic, and its to-be-announced future Greek letter variants because of "free dumb" is figuratively, and literally a "no-brainer."

Apocalypse: It's a great title to a movie, story, supervillain, or blog post. It literally means "to uncover," or "to reveal." Biblical tradition translates and assigns it to the entire last book of the sacred text. Barbara Rossing tried to reclaim the negative interpretation of doom-and-gloom from evangelicals in her 2005 book "The Rapture Exposed." She saw this interpretation as dangerous, and lending to the United States engaging in risky international actions that could lead to Mutually Assured Destruction, or totally ignore climate change as a problem that will be solved only by the Second Coming. Fatalism like this led to our actions in Afghanistan, and Iraq. Pollyannaish viewpoints like this "kick the can down the road" to the next presidential administration, trillions of dollars wasted on corruption in Kabul that could have been invested in roads, education; universal healthcare in the US. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is an example of the peril of someone in power taking our continued existence for granted, and that "their side" will be the ones to survive. Not many former Secretaries of State have ever been called "doomsday clowns."

All Americans, Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, LGBTQ Americans, Women, immigrants are being affected by the anti-democratic efforts of Republican legislatures to either pick the voters they want to be counted or if elections don't quite go their way, THROW out the results! Dr. King referred to that as "interposition, and nullification." The reason Democrats pass symbolic bills in the House named for John Lewis, or the "For the People Act" is because they KNOW they will die in the Senate. The filibuster has been adjusted, carved out, flipped, manipulated for less than our ability to call ourselves a federal republic than for billionaire Oligarchs' tax cuts. Both parties are invested in the "status quo." It is ghoulish. It needs to change, our leadership needs to change, or our continuance as a country, as a human species, is in serious question.

I hope this post is a revelation, and with its act of uncovering and facing reality, we take different actions. I'm sure that was the whole intent of Dr. Neil Postman's warnings of simply cable; before social media proliferated; before phone apps were invented, before our news outlets consolidated, and morphed into self-deluding echo chambers kowtowing to Nielsen ratings, before politicians became craven liars in stark evidence of insurrection, and would rather rule over a smoldering ruin of feces than serve in an actual democracy. Our nation and the world deserve better.

Our nation and the world get better when "we the people" demand better.

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum, Margaret Atwood, "The Handmaid's Tale": Don't let the bastards grind you down. Demonstrate. Protest. Vote.

 

 

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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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Traitors and Patriots...

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Image source: AZ Quotes

 

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

 

Though hundreds of C.E.O.s signed on to defending voting rights in principle, many notable omissions did not, like the C.E.O. of Walmart, Warren Buffet signed as citizen, not head of Berkshire Hathaway; Coca-Cola and Delta felt they had said all that needed to be said, and JP Morgan Chase, who has a history of its initial fortunes on slavery, also declined.

 

*****

 

 

Sunday, my wife and I took a "sanity ride" to a park in High Point. It's an exercise we've settled into during the pandemic. We didn't leave the car, just driving around, just looking at kids and parents at what appeared to be a baseball game. On leaving High Point, we were followed by the police for several miles, likely running my plates through dispatch. I purposely drove five miles below the posted speed limit. The lights went on anyway. I pulled over to a building, my license and insurance ready, hands on the dash. By the time the masked police officer came to get my effects, he said my tags had expired. Running my plates, he probably saw I had no priors, so he advised me to pay for the tags, and bring evidence to the judge in High Point. The ticket would disappear, problem solved.

 

Expired tags were ironically the same reason Daunte Wright was stopped in Minnesota, on the same Sunday. We're both black men. The difference is, Daunte is no longer alive.

 

*****

 

Ulysses S. Grant was a Republican. During the Civil War, the slaveholding south were Democrats. That flipped with the FDR New Deal; the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 1965 Voting Rights Act, and 1968 Fair Housing Act. He and Abraham Lincoln would be aghast at the conspiratorial nuthouse their party in the 21st Century has become.

 

We are still a country with two factions: traitors and patriots.

 

President Joe Biden has largely given up on trying to negotiate anything with Republicans. There’s a good reason for this: the GOP is no longer a legitimate political party.

 

One of the most comprehensive and well-respected surveys of political parties worldwide is called the Global Party Survey and came out of work done at Harvard in the US and Sydney University in Australia. The researchers note: “Drawing on survey data gathered from 1,861 party and election experts, the study uses 21 core items to estimate key ideological values, issue positions, and populist rhetoric for 1,127 parties in 170 countries.”

 

What they found was that the Democratic Party in the US is fairly solidly within the norms for political parties in fully developed countries around the world. It resembles normal and legitimate parties in Canada and most of Western Europe.

 

The Republican party, however, both behaves and is ideologically most similar to Hungary’s Fidesz party, Turkey’s AKP party, and Poland’s PiS party.

 

All three are, essentially, fascist parties.

 

Like the Nazis & Fascists, the Republican Party Must Be Purged, The Hartmann Report

 

I would say four.

The traitors' ancestors brought my ancestors to this country against their will to work as uncompensated labor. The traitors' ancestors wrote "we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," and a mathematical loophole for holding kidnapped humans in bondage. The traitors are their descendants, shouting "all lives matter" while black lives obviously don't make a kind of duplicitous, hypocritical "sense."

The traitors believed the pandemic was a hoax, delaying our actions resulting in more deaths than necessary. The traitors believe masks are an assault on "liberty and freedom." That "liberty and freedom" apparently cancels the deaths of 578,726 Americans. That somehow opening with only 195 million doses given, 76.7 million fully vaccinated amounts to 23.4%: we need 70-80% to achieve "liberty."

The traitors are pushing the election "Big Lie," not unlike the "Lost Cause" narrative that amounts to superfluous bullshit: if you hold your nose, and compare it side-by-side, it's the same lie that caused the Civil War, inaugurated Jim Crow and domestic terrorism on people that didn't ask to be brought here. The traitors are passing laws to shorten early election times, close more precincts that stifle the voices of BIPOC, the young, the queer because they haven't had a platform since the 1980s that appeals to these groups. The traitors are trying to tank Kristen Clarke's nomination to the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department like they did Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court because someone fighting for the Civil Right to cast a vote might thwart the plans to block the votes of people who won't vote for them. The traitors don't want a 9-11-style commission to investigate and hold accountable traitors in an insurrection, guaranteeing the tactic will happen again if an election - local or national - is lost. The traitors are more motivated about Antifa (short for antifascist) than the fascists that scaled walls 100 days ago powered on this big lie, given voice by their fallen orange god who daily performed nauseating fellatio on Vladimir Putin, according to Michael Cohen, for a vanity tower in Moscow.

 

A spoken word artist I admire is Rudy Francisco, encapsulating my angst in the apropos "Adrenaline Rush." Being a person of color in America is an extreme "sport" at a traffic stop.

 

I will get my car inspected, update my registration with the state, and show proof to the magistrate in High Point. Even with inspection and registration in hand, I will be cautious, nervous, and driving five miles below the posted speed limit there and back. Wish me luck.

 

My wife and I made it home, as Rudy's mic drops at the end of his piece "this time."

 

Daunte sadly didn't.

 

 

 

 

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Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics...

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Which states have dropped mask mandates and why, Marlene Lenthang, Yahoo News

Topics: Biology, COVID-19, Dark Humor, Existentialism, Mathematics, Politics

Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

Mark Twain, also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lies,_damned_lies,_and_statistics

A follow-up to Tuesday's post: VOC...

‘No Thank You, Mr. President’: GOP States Still End Mask Mandates Despite Covid-19 Rise And Warnings From Biden, CDC, Alison Durkee, Forbes Business, April 2, 2021

Having some "fun" with mathematics. It's dark humor for all you young libertarians.

The current US COVID deaths are 573, 988 from https://ncov2019.live/.

The current US population is 332,494,997 from Worldometers.info. Each link updates minute-by-minute, so by the time you read this, these figures will have changed.

(US COVID deaths/current US population) x 100 = 0.17%. Round up to 0.2%.

That's pretty low.

For the "freedom-loving libertarians" spring breaking in Miami, or Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Corpus Christi, Texas - a thought experiment:

100,000 of you are about to dive into the ocean.

There is a 0.2% = 0.2/100 chance some of you will get devoured by sharks.

100,000 x (0.2/100) = 200 dead spring breakers.

So, out of 100,000 - 200 = 99,800, or 99.8% have a very good chance of not becoming "chicken of the sea," and surviving your spring break. The dilemma is, there will still be blood in the water. Blood that carries pathogens that despite your "Y" swimming lessons and the saline environment, you might ingest red tide, and suffer the consequences.

The problem is, your 0.2% chance is not zero. Under normal circumstances (and pandemics are once-in-a-century "not normal"), there's no libertarian case for this:

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Splitting Babies, Washing Hands...

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Pop Culture Guy: Foghorn Leghorn

 

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

 

To split the baby is a reference to a story in the Old Testament in Kings 3:5-14, regarding a decision of Solomon that shows his wisdom when given a difficult task. Solomon as king was often asked to judge between people with difficult problems, and his solutions were accounted as very wise. The term is often used to describe an unreasonable solution that may be used as a way to find an underlying truth.

 

In Kings, two women approach Solomon, both claiming to be the mother of the same baby. In fact, one woman has smothered her own child in her sleep and has taken the child of another woman with whom she shares a home. Upon waking, the mother of the living baby finds she is holding the dead child, who she knows is not hers. Since she cannot convince the mother of the dead child to give her back her child, they go to Solomon for judgment.

 

Solomon’s solution is fairly unique. He hears both sides, which are identical, and decides that the best course is to cut the baby in half so both mothers will have a share. To do this, however, means to kill the child. The mother who has already lost a child is happy with the solution, but the real mother cries out and begs Solomon to let the other woman raise her child alive.

 

When the real mother protests the solution and is willing to give up her rights as a mother to preserve the life of her child, Solomon hands the baby to her.

 

What does It Mean to "Split the Baby"? Tricia Christensen, Wise Geek

 

What did it mean? Pontius Pilate was the Roman procurator (governor) of Judaea living in Jerusalem during the trial of Jesus. According to the story, he washed his hands to indicate that he believed Jesus was innocent of any capital crime - if he was killed - it wasn't on him.

 

A famous idiom from Matthew 27:24

 

The prosecution put on a clinic in the Well of the Senate in their closing remarks. Every avenue to derail the trial on "procedure," or "constitutional norms" was deftly batted away. It helps when the prosecution is playing seven-dimensional chess, and the defense team of Foggy Foghorn Leghorn, and Rage Elmer Fudd, is playing jacks.

 

The former Party of Lincoln has ridden this Kraken before the Orange Orangutan. Roger Ailes and talk radio proto Karl Rove, "created their own reality" in a Rush Limbaugh, cigar-chomping, racist ranting clones (because you don't need talent if you get a raging crowd buying your product), against the libs, Feminazis, and cooties. For forty-one years, from Reagan to Orange Satan, they have gaslighted their constituents, blamed every convenient "other" they could label and shoveled money uphill like a Hoover vacuum to their one percent benefactors. They have no intention of getting off this bucking steer in the right-wing rodeo, otherwise, like rodeo clowns, they might get skewered by the bull.

 

I don't expect there to be enough votes to convict him. It will be just shy of sixty-seven. I hope to be pleasantly surprised. The arcane rules of the Senate even after the off possibility of getting to sixty-seven, then have to take a simple majority vote to remove him from running again for office. He will be fatter, four years older, more insane, and publicly incontinent in 2024 (he wears Adult Depends now). Entropy can save us, or his criminal trials for state crimes in New York, and Georgia can put him in a wardrobe matching his fake, and grotesque spray tan. Cruz and Holley are salivating at this possibility.

 

They are splitting the baby: forty or so white republicans, and their mascot, Tim Scott, will vote again to acquit a criminal. Not because they're no longer the "party of law, and order." Not because the Party of Reagan was any greater: he started his campaign BLOCKS away from the death site of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner; he spoke openly about Welfare Queens, Young Bucks, and African Monkeys. Doofus Gambino is the end of Entropy: over a long period of time, any system goes from order to chaos. Forty-plus one poodle is looking forward to the next midterm, the next election, the next voter suppression, and now added to the quiver: the next insurrection, Like see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil monkeys, they will ignore it, and use it as a tool if they lose future elections.

 

The Neo-Confederates are self-immolating, and not for some noble protest, but to maintain power at the expense of the republic. They are the party whose defense will relitigate "WHATABOUTISM" with Antifa (anti-fascists), Benghazi (might as well), and Black Lives Matter (because they don't). Foggy Fog, and Rage Elmer will unimpressively rest today. Gaslighting and created realities will blow them up to the high crest peak of BS mountain. Rage will then observe the Sabbath at sundown.

 

They are the party of white nationalists. They are the party screaming the N-word at Capital Police during the insurrection. They are the party of smeared feces and urinated Capitol halls. They have become the party of Camp Auschwitz T-Shirts: Work Brings Freedom. They are the party of the Battle Ensign of Robert E. Lee (NEVER call it the Confederate Flag) flying at the Capitol, something not accomplished during the Civil War. They are the party of Ukraine and Georgia election interference "perfect" phone calls. They are the party that would sacrifice their own sycophant Vice President Mike Pence and executes the first and only female Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. They are the party of Vice President of the treasonous Confederacy, Alexander M. Stephens, and the "Cornerstone Speech":

 

"Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth." Cornerstone Speech

 

They have not wavered from this mentality. It's been taught over and over, father to son, mother to daughter. The first gaslighting being the "lost cause" narrative lie, metastasizing to the inherited inferiority narrative shoveled at all of us, the proto version of birtherism, stolen from Orly Taitz. This "alternative fact" was amplified by a failed businessman, a faux billionaire that [probably] had Russian prostitutes urinate in a bed of the black president and first lady he hated with every fiber of his dark soul, that knows no love.

 

Eighty-one percent of white evangelicals left any allegiance they ever had to brown-skinned, Palestinian prophets, and voted for this Antichrist.

 

They, therefore, cannot be called Republicans any longer: they are fascists.

 

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Reality-Truth...

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Leonard Nimoy as Spock from "Amok Time," TOS, first aired September 15, 1967

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Human Rights, Politics, Star Trek

 

I've been finishing up the semester. I passed my preliminary exam. Now I'm working on refining my research question for my dissertation proposal, due late spring. I usually take a break from blogging around the holidays, and as my Dean put it, dissertations proposals are "a bear." So don't be surprised if I take a blog break for LONG stretches.

 

o'thia
Literally defined as "reality-truth" in Vulcan religion/philosophy, methods of emotional self-control, and teachings of pacifism. The term o'thia is also known simply as logic. Note: there is an error on the wiki - cthia, versus o'thia. See TOS novel: Spock's World, by Diane Duane. See beta wiki: https://memory-beta.fandom.com/wiki/Vulcan_language

 

As I type this, the FDA meeting on the Pfizer version of the coronavirus vaccine has concluded. They have taken the first steps towards approving the vaccine for distribution in America. The first woman in the world to receive it was a 90-year-old grandmother in Bristol. As she gave her arm and consent, many even in the UK expressed misplaced skepticism, expressing their version of European "anti-vax" sentiments. African Americans are still feeling the sting of the Tuskegee Experiment, decades later, and don't trust anything the current administration might have produced after waves of destructive behavior, destroying what was marginal "norms," but the pandemic has shown and is showing, we were not "normal," and we still aren't. The majority of WASP-C (White, Anglo Saxon Protestant Cisgender) countries are scarfing up vaccine supplies because they have the WEALTH to do so. We are still behaving carnally, like warring tribes over the next hill. The pandemic has revealed our world is imbalanced by racism and income inequality. A lot of the epidemics and pandemics stem from people trying their best to survive under circumstances they did not design for themselves. You can't complain about anyone eating a bat any more than you can about someone eating chitterlings and high-salt hog products when the scraps were literally all African Americans had to eat. See Umar Haque's article: "How Covid Proves the World is Even More Racist Than You Think." Start getting used to the term "vaccine nationalism." It's short-sighted: you can't do any international travel for business, or pleasure if developing countries - where we get a lot of precious metals - are still in lockdown.

 

Star Trek is modern mythology, born during the turbulent 1960s when there were the struggle for civil rights, women's rights, LGBT rights (Stonewall), civil unrest, assassinations, and the Cold War with the Soviet Union, "duck-and-cover" drills being as part of the school curriculum as masks are now. Gene Roddenberry envisioned a world in the far future, with fantastic technologies and cooperation among humanity that from September 8, 1966, to June 3, 1969, he obviously hadn't see demonstrated. In many ways, we're trying to "live up" to the optimistic (some would say Pollyannaish) vision today.

 

Star Trek inspired many P.E.E.R.s (People Excluded due to Ethnicity and Race, see David Asai, 2020 here, and here) into STEM, Dr. Ronald E. McNair, for example, and myself.

 

Spock particularly inspired me. He wasn't just Vulcan: he was biracial, not just of two cultures, but two worlds. From the canon, he seemed to experience xenophobia and insults from other "pure" Vulcans, as well as snarky humans like Dr. Leonard McCoy. Seeing myself in the outsider, "the other" in Science Officer Spock wasn't even a little stretch. Empathy for his fellow Vulcan's and some human's racism during the turbulent 1960s was easy.

 

o'thia

 

We are a country in the aftermath of being gaslighted by a man his clinical psychologist niece says is so delusional, he can gaslight himself. We are a country in the aftermath of four-hundred years of gaslighting between "superior" and "inferior." "Reality-truth" is anathema to him and his cult following, primed by forty-years of AM talk radio and four-hundred years of generational brainwashing. The Fairness Doctrine wasn't repealed by Reagan, but it was abandoned in 1987 during his administration's lame-duck years. It affected radio broadcast licenses, so you can say this probably led to Rush Limbaugh and right-wing talk radio. Fox News is television, thus unrestrained by whether we had a fairness doctrine when they arrived in 1996 or not. The Texas AG and seventeen other AG's - all WASP-C males (White, Anglo Saxon Protestant-Cisgender) have filed a frivolous lawsuit to overturn the 2020 election results because the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous People Of Color, and P.E.E.R.s among them) have no votes that they deem credible unless they vote for republicans.

 

[Chief Justice Roger B.] Taney -- a staunch supporter of slavery and intent on protecting southerners from northern aggression -- wrote in the Court's majority opinion that, because Scott was black, he was not a citizen and therefore had no right to sue. The framers of the Constitution, he wrote, believed that blacks "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever profit could be made by it." PBS - Dred Scott case: the Supreme Court decision, 1857

 

Dr. Mary Trump is the author of "Too Much, and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man." She's apparently working on a follow-up book on the country's collective trauma due to her uncle's incompetence, and more likely, his many undiagnosed mental disorders. Also, as I listened to her View interview, she wants to talk about how we as a nation - not the BIPOC, or P.E.E.R.s - have collectively ignored our past and never reckoned with the slaughter of Native First Nation Peoples, the kidnap, rape, and slaughter-at-will of the African Diaspora, to the point the current dwindling majority can't see me any more than Taney did my ancestor, Dred Scott: we have no rights they are bound to respect, and our vote is by definition "fraudulent," unless we vote for them as "masters."

 

"Reality-truth" - o'thia - saved the mythical Vulcans from self-annihilation.

 

We might want a steady diet of o'thia if we want to survive as a species.

 

"Wakanda will no longer watch from the shadows. We can not. We must not. We will work to be an example of how we, as brothers and sisters on this earth, should treat each other. Now, more than ever, the illusions of division threaten our very existence. We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis, the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe." Chadwick Boseman as King T'Challa in the movie Black Panther, Rest In Power.

 

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Truthiness, to Truth Decay...

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Image Source: Wikipedia link below

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

Truthiness is the belief or assertion that a particular statement is true based on the intuition or perceptions of some individual or individuals, without regard to evidencelogicintellectual examination, or facts. Truthiness can range from ignorant assertions of falsehoods to deliberate duplicity or propaganda intended to sway opinions.

The concept of truthiness has emerged as a major subject of discussion surrounding U.S. politics during the 1990s and 2000s because of the perception among some observers of a rise in propaganda and a growing hostility toward factual reporting and fact-based discussion.

American television comedian Stephen Colbert coined the term truthiness in this meaning as the subject of a segment called "The Wørd" during the pilot episode of his political satire program The Colbert Report on October 17, 2005. By using this as part of his routine, Colbert satirized the misuse of appeal to emotion and "gut feeling" as a rhetorical device in contemporaneous socio-political discourse.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truthiness

Roger Ailes was very explicit as to why he wanted, and created Fox News: he wanted a news outlet friendly to conservative interests in the wake of Watergate, and the resignation of President Richard Nixon. I don't think we realize how astonishing that was, and that we've mythologized those times as "halcyon days" of yore.

Richard Nixon ran on "law and order," and the fear of violence in the wake of the deaths of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. He subtly stoked white grievance, the so-called "Southern Strategy," infamously described by political operative Lee Atwater. It worked. He rode to power in 1968, and a landslide forty-nine out of fifty state win in 1972, where he became the first Republican to sweep the south.

Nixon didn't need the plumbers to break into the DNC headquarters Watergate building, but there's evidence he used government resources instructing them to do so. His Vice President, Spiro Agnew, was accepting "bags of money" at the White House - as he did as governor of Maryland - to do political "favors" on Capitol Hill. For all intents and purposes, that is bribery. Nowadays, they attach lawyers to it, and call it lobbying.

The Justice Department was in a conundrum: if they indict the sitting president for an illegal break-in, they have to indict the sitting Vice President for usury. Plus, that pesky thing called The Constitution said if removed from office, the next in line was the Speaker of the House of Representatives, then, as now, a Democrat. The "memo" came out, without legal standing, or precedence, that you "cannot indict a sitting president."

We did not have cable television, cell phones, or social media apps. Every single American, presumably many who voted for Nixon's landslide victory, got the same information from three television outlets: ABC, CBS, and NBC news. Telegrams, letters, phone calls, letters to the editor in local newspapers and polls showed the country's mood had turned against Nixon, plus his promise to get us out of the Vietnam War turned out to be a boondoggle: many families were welcoming their loved ones home in body bags in a war it clearly looked like we weren't going to win. Altruism and fealty to The Constitution had nothing to do with republicans then, or now. The party talked Agnew into leaving on a lesser charge to get Gerald Ford - a congressman from Ohio, with no association to Nixon, or Agnew - in as Vice President. Then, the Republicans could keep power at the Executive Branch if an Impeachment in the House led to a conviction in the Senate, and forced removal.

 

The speed of a sprinter, a thrown fastball, the luminescence of a distant star, or the Hawking's Radiation of a Black Hole is demonstrable, measurable facts. They are not subject to opinions, "alternative facts," quackery, or spin. On the one hand, first, second, and third place is determinable. The speed of a Rookie fastball pitched from a mound can be logged; the astrophysical properties of distant objects can be studied because there is an agreement on what IS true and what is false in sports and physics.

“Science is far from a perfect instrument of knowledge. It's just the best we have. In this respect, as in many others, it's like democracy. Science by itself cannot advocate courses of human action, but it can certainly illuminate the possible consequences of alternative courses of action.”

"The scientific way of thinking is at once imaginative and disciplined. This is central to its success. Science invites us to let the facts in, even when they don’t conform to our preconceptions. It counsels us to carry alternative hypotheses in our heads and see which best fit the facts. It urges on us a delicate balance between no-holds-barred openness to new ideas, however heretical, and the most rigorous skeptical scrutiny of everything — new ideas and established wisdom. This kind of thinking is also an essential tool for a democracy in an age of change."

“The whole idea of a democratic application of skepticism is that everyone should have the essential tools to effectively and constructively evaluate claims to knowledge.”

― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, also Brain Pickings: Science, and Democracy

The premiere of Stephen Colbert's witty and insightful show probably had a lot to do with the "truthiness" on Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. That was demonstrably a lie. Yet, time and comparison to our current tweet-addicted sociopath make memories fail, as even George W. Bush now can pay respects to John Lewis: he was one of three living presidents to do so. The current occupant is too racist, devoted to his base, and fantasy to do so.

Ted Cruz is a Harvard-trained lawyer, and like President Obama, an editor of the Harvard Law Review. He's taken to Twitter to spread baseless conspiracy theories, and promote a right-wing social media app, Parler, financed by Rebecca Mercer, who like her billionaire hedge fund father, funds right-wing causes around the globe. It also shows his disdain for the people in Texas that are his constituents: he thinks they're fools, and probably wants to run for president again on the gravy train of lunacy Orange Satan built. The Republican Party genuinely fear their own base. They've stoked them every time a Democrat ascends to the presidency that the great purge of "coming to take your guns" is around the corner, any minute now. There were more guns sold during the Obama administration than the current imbecilic nightmare. I assume gun industry sales will improve apace.

The irony is, Parler is a completely enclosed silo. Part of the perverse joy of social media by sociopaths is "owning the libs," a badge of honor after frustrating arguments back and forth on a platform that you get blocked. Similar I'm sure, to throwing pollutants in the air from smokestacks on trucks, thinking oneself immune from the effects on Earth-Two. There are few "libs" on Parler to own. It also shows the tech company's regard for the intelligence of conservatives is limited, but they can see an opportunity, like most snake oil salesmen and conmen, to make a fast buck off gullible marks.

You cannot measure a sporting achievement without a knowledge of the rules, and adherence to them to make a judgment on performance.

You cannot have a STEM field without knowing the foundations of its knowledge, what is, and is not possible, and adherence to The Scientific Method to make an evaluation of the outcome of an experiment, and the world.

You cannot have a Democratic Republic with truth decay. To list them together is an oxymoron. Unless your ultimate goal is a fascist state.

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Science Literacy, and Democracy...

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Derived from Carl Sagan in "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark," on Skeptic.com: Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (infographic)

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Education, Existentialism, Human Rights, Politics

 

 

"The human understanding is no dry light, but receives infusion from the will and affections; whence proceed sciences which may be called 'sciences as one would.' For what a man had rather were true he more readily believes. Therefore he rejects difficult things from impatience of research; sober things, because they narrow hope; the deeper things of nature, from superstition; the light of experience, from arrogance and pride; things not commonly believed, out of the deference to the opinion of the vulgar. Numberless in short are the ways, and sometimes imperceptible, in which the affections color and infect the understanding." Sir Francis Bacon, NOVUM ORGANON (1620)

 

"A clairvoyance gap with adversary nations is announced, and the Central Intelligence Agency, under Congressional prodding, spends tax money to find out whether submarines in the ocean depths can be located by *thinking hard* at them."

 

Both quotes from "The Demon-Haunted World: Science As A Candle in the Dark," chapter 12 - "The Fine Art of Baloney Detection," Sir Francis Bacon's quote is in the chapter intro.

 

The steps of the scientific method go something like this:
1. Make an observation or observations. 2. Ask questions about the observations and gather information. 3. Form a hypothesis — a tentative description of what's been observed, and make predictions based on that hypothesis. 4. Test the hypothesis and predictions in an experiment that can be reproduced. 5. Analyze the data and draw conclusions; accept or reject the hypothesis or modify the hypothesis if necessary. 6. Reproduce the experiment until there are no discrepancies between observations and theory. Source: Live Science - Science & the Scientific Method

 

Writing a physics and nano blog, one wants the audience (be they somewhat limited), to catch on to the central theme of the weblog: science, and the promotion of science literacy, for citizens of this country, and since this is the web, Earth.

 

SCIENCE IS FOR ALL STUDENTS. This principle is one of equity and excellence. Science in our schools must be for all students: All students, regardless of age, sex, cultural or ethnic background, disabilities, aspirations, or interest and motivation in science, should have the opportunity to attain high levels of scientific literacy.

 

Scientific literacy implies that a person can identify scientific issues underlying national and local decisions and express positions that are scientifically and technologically informed.

 

National Science Education Standards (1996), Chapter 2: Principles and Definitions, National Academies Press

 

This blog is a continuing, meaningful discussion about scientific and technological literacy (STL), and its importance in fostering a society of informed citizens – indeed, a prerequisite for participatory democracy – conversant in emerging fields as consumers and eventual future participant contributors. In the language of scripture, I would like to "begat" citizens versed in technology that want to research, discover, and publish in it. For a world so impacted by it, it is imperative we're all versed in it, scientists, engineers, artists, and lay citizens alike.

 

We have gone through a dizzying four-year experiment with technology and authoritarianism. No less than Foreign Affairs (Does Technology Favor Tyranny?) has studied the impact. It was fostered by a birther lie, and technology (Twitter). Though I doubt the current flailing will change election results, we have a number of citizens, in the words of Tom Nichols, who voted for the sociopath. Some of our fellow citizens "created their own realities" (Karl Rove), or delved into "alternative facts" (Kellyanne Conway). His political party could stop him, but they're too cowardly, afraid of him and his base. Sadly, these are NOT their constituents: most members of Congress are multimillionaires, worth well over the salaries we pay them. They serve, for want of a better term, American Oligarchs (Andrea Bernstein), and the businesses they give endless tax breaks to.

 

E Pluribus Unum is probably the first Latin phrase you've ever heard, or read: "out of many, one." It's the nation's motto, and poetic, but in the era of news feeds, echo chambers, and social media groups, E Pluribus Multis is more illustrative and quite apropos.

We must depart, somehow, in the next succession of days, from the false empowerment of divisive Multis, into a future fully embracing science literacy, and Unum for the survival of the species. Our baloney detection kits must be tuned to high gear.

 

“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”

 

“We've arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.”

 

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

 

We owe it to Carl's grandkids, and our children's futures, to get this right.

 

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The Next Authoritarian...

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Macska Moksha Press: Anti-war & anti-authoritarian quotations, Kollibri terre Sonnenblume

 

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

 

“All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible.” Frank Herbert

 

No less than "created realities" Karl Rove and "the room where it happened," and knock off Yosemite Sam, John Bolton, have said it's time to throw in the towel. Twitter has flagged his gaslighting and will have to decide if a lame-duck lunatic is beneficial to its bottom-line. Unlike Bolton, I don't think the GOP (gang of Putin) is "coddling" him.

 

I think they completely understand their audience.

 

Mike Pompeo is a West Point Graduate and Harvard-trained lawyer. He knows the State Department is supposed to coordinate the transition, and magical thinking announced to his boss's rabid followers only delays the inevitable. He plans to run for president one day, and he's trying to "ride the dragon" the right-wing has created over 40 years. 70 million Americans are the byproducts of 40 years of hate radio, Alex Jones, dark Internet sites, and Fox propaganda. They all decided to despite evidence, in the words of Tom Nichols, vote for the sociopath. That for all intents and purposes is their "base."

 

Reagan is a paper saint: he started the birth of this dragon in Philadelphia, Mississippi, blocks from where Cheney, Goodman, and Schwerner were found. The "wink-and-nod" to white supremacy had begun. It metastasized in four decades to a racist bullhorn after the nation's first and only black president.

 

Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham used the pushed-on-the-bench Amy Coney Barrett to secure their positions in the Senate, where they do absolutely NOTHING, except hold on to power for mostly their rich constituents, and the poor white rubes that think they hate the demographics shift as racially as they do. They are cynically playing this game because of the close races that should not be close in Georgia for control of the Senate. The miracles of Jon Ossoff and Reverend Warnock, both poised to oust incumbent Republican senators, will cement Stacey Abrams' Fair Fight as a blueprint that should be replicated nationally, that is if the democrats want to have power going-forward. She will win the governorship in 2022. However, the House lost 10 seats, and Georgia is in a runoff that shouldn't have been this close in a pandemic where the leader of their party is woefully inept and WAY out over his skis. But competence isn't necessary for authoritarians.

 

Authoritarianism, the principle of blind submission to authority, as opposed to individual freedom of thought and action. In government, authoritarianism denotes any political system that concentrates power in the hands of a leader or a small elite that is not constitutionally responsible to the body of the people. Authoritarian leaders often exercise power arbitrarily and without regard to existing bodies of law, and they usually cannot be replaced by citizens choosing freely among various competitors in elections. The freedom to create opposition political parties or other alternative political groupings with which to compete for power with the ruling group is either limited or nonexistent in authoritarian regimes.

 

Source: Britannica.com/authoritarianism

 

What Republicans should worry about is a more serious run of failure. Republican presidents — Donald Trump and George W. Bush — have now spent almost all of their last nine consecutive years below 50% approval. Add George H.W. Bush’s final year, and that makes 10 of the last 13 Republican presidential years, with the only significant exception coming in the period after the Sept. 11 attacks (we can’t know for sure, but it seems likely that George W. Bush was heading underwater by then).

 

In other words: Whether or not Republicans have a popularity problem, they certainly seem to have a governing problem, one that at this point could be symbolized by Trump’s utter inability to deal with the pandemic or by the party’s years-long attempt to dismantle the Affordable Care Act without having any alternative to offer. Of course, it is perhaps just the luck of events that dealt Republican presidents five of the last five recessions. And the Iraq War. And the coronavirus. But my suggestion to the party, if it has lost the presidency, is to spend some time trying to figure out why its presidents seem to have such a tough time in office.

 

Why Can’t Republicans Win the Popular Vote? Jonathan Bernstein, Bloomberg News

 

When you cannot win a popular vote, you probably won't want people voting. This is why I don't think we can afford to relax, even after this Herculean effort.

 

There are the runoff elections in Georgia's Senate race that will decide if Mitch McConnell maintains his majority leadership, or Chuck Schumer finally assumes it. It will decide if Joe Biden and Kamala Harris can get their agenda done, or this is a unique one-off due to the pandemic. It will decide how LONG we're suffering from the pandemic long after 45 is fighting subpoenas for his taxes, business practices, and trying to stay out of prison. I doubt his running for president in 2024. There are too many ambitious republicans that want to ride the dragon Kraken he's summoned. They don't necessarily NEED him for that, and they are hopelessly dependent (and afraid) of their base. There's an off-year election in 2021, where the Koch brothers or local citizens can decide local seats. There will be a midterm in 2022, where Kevin McCarthy is already eyeing the Speakership for himself. We don't get a break because authoritarianism and fascism will never take a break.

 

The next authoritarian will likely, not be a buffoon.

 

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