Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Law Enforcement Art of After-the-Fact Lying

There is something being avoided in the wake of the Ferguson non-indictment having to do with the nature of the police mindset when it comes to defending themselves against any charges of wrongdoing: institutionalized lying.

It is a fairly common historical practice for polic
e to lie after the fact in order to justify an action. It's usually something like they smelled pot or alcohol, or the person "looked like" someone with a warrant for what are relatively minor acts of bad behavior. But lies being told also include claims that allow a much worse collection of bad behaviors. Claims of seeing a bulge under someone's coat (meaning they thought it was a gun), someone made a threatening gesture, or trying to grab for their gun (the main claim in the Ferguson case that supposedly justifies the shooting) can be used to allow a police officer to avoid personal responsibility for anything, including murder.

I have worked with all kinds of police forces across the country and this attitude was impossible to miss. And from what I could tell, it's just about universal. So don't be so quick to assume that when a police officer makes a claim that is used to justify their actions that the claim is true. There is more than a minor chance that they are lying. The lie will also be adamantly supported by other officers everywhere so that they, too, can do so in the future (or have a past lie remain acceptable). The routine has become a law enforcement art form.

The Perfection of Police and Politicians

It's amazing that we, as a species, don't toot our own horn more often about having the ability to consistently choose nearly perfect people to put in police uniforms. When compared to the rest of society, the lack of guilty verdicts and criminal prosecutions must point to some virtuous character trait that all police departments can detect when hiring people, right? This can't be a coincidence.

As a point of investigative comparison, we must also have a knack for picking politicians who are more ethical than the rest of us. They also rarely end up being convicted of anything when compared to non-politicians. The numbers being so different, labeling this contrast as coincidental would also  be hard to do.

How did we end up so fortunate as to have evolved to a place where we always seem to put the most perfect among on in these most important jobs? If aliens have visited us, they must be living the rest of their lives in awe of this human trait.

Could there be other groups we need to admire for hardly ever being found guilty of anything? We certainly would not want to leave anyone out when honoring people for their ability to stay out of trouble with the law.

The most likely additional group worthy of celebrating is probably the rich. This group is a little different than the others because its members are not directly chosen. But those in this group also seem to stay out of trouble with the law at rates that are much higher than the rest of society. Being rich must also have the side-effect of being (or becoming) a more ethical creature.

In the U.S. being white is also an apparent group membership that means a more law-abiding existence. White people are found guilty of things way less often than people of other races. This group must also have an innate ethical compass that keeps them from committing the crimes committed by other races.

Given all of this evidence, we should presume that members of these groups are free of guilt where members of other groups should be assumed to always have an abundance of it.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Parents Announce Newborn's Candidacy For 2040 Congressional Campaign

I'm wondering if the backlash we're experiencing against an increasingly early Christmas shopping season can also be used to stop increasingly early political campaigns. We haven't even sworn anyone in from the last election and people are already lining up to run in (and ruin) the next one.

There is absolutely no reason we can't have a proper election with only a few months of campaigning. Way cheaper, way less annoying, way more likely to avoid burnout, and way more likely to attract more qualified candidates.

But politics isn't known for being humanity's friend, so I'm not going to hold my breath.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Trickle-up Tax Credits

It is a fairly common refrain from advocates of trickle-down policies that those with the most money should have a reduced tax burden. The reason for this position is that those at the top of the economic system are to be seen as "job creators," a group whose members are supposed to be worshiped and thanked for allowing the rest of us to work for them. It is then "logical" under this impaired view that a requirement these people pay taxes (or a progressively higher tax rate) is unfair because of this huge favor they are supposedly doing the rest of us already. For them to be seen as a source of tax revenue is an insult in this deranged model.

There are plenty of reasons to reject this silly and confused argument, but an important one I generally fail to see has to do with a type of piracy. Not only are the falsely labeled "job creators" to be lauded for their willingness to let everyone else earn money for them in this ruse, but they are to be given credit for the taxes paid by everyone else. This poisonous position actually allows the most privileged among us take credit for taxes they do not pay. And not only to take credit for them, but gladly be given credit for them by those actually paying them.

I can't help but place this mindset in the same category that includes people who make excuses for their abusers. It's a human trait that seems to always find new ways to fail us.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Toilet Paper, People of Equal Importance

One of the things about humanity I think is telling but few others notice at all is the fact that labor costs on business spreadsheets are not shown any differently than paper clips or parking expenses. If we were a species that actually wanted to claim a moral basis for unchecked capitalism, the cost for humans would be noted in a way that reminded us to honor one another, not lump us together with everything else where the goal is to pay as little as possible. The way we train ourselves now is to ignore the humanity of humans, having been convinced we don't deserve to be treated any differently than toilet paper.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Loneliness of Miscommunication

An idea struck me today that should have surfaced within my brain quite a long time ago: despite the romantic reputation of a life filled with variety, the more varied one's life experiences, the more lonely that person is likely to be.

I pull this idea in part from an often repeated insight about loneliness not being an absence of people in one's life, but a lack of people with whom one can successfully communicate. This type of communication problem is readily recognized as being in play for people who simply have a highly unique brain chemistry or who have lived through various kinds of physical trauma. But I don't think loneliness caused by a highly varied and unique life is generally acknowledged.

People with highly varied and unique life experiences I think are much more likely to find points of commonality with others to be weak and functionally nil. Even when there seems to be a promising overlap of experience or knowledge open for exploitation, for those who have lived a highly unique life the opportunity is often quickly exposed as an illusion.

This wouldn't be a problem if it wasn't a common human trait to seek out people who understand us. We often hear people dream about a partner that "gets me" and fill out dating questionnaires designed to match people who have the most points of commonality. We look for groups to join on websites like meetup.com to meet people who might be similar to ourselves. We engage with special interest groups, volunteer for causes we support, and look for connections with people who have similar hobbies by attending conventions and conferences. When given the choice, we move to neighborhoods where people are most like ourselves. This search for compatible others is a core part of being human, and when the search fails, loneliness is a highly likely result.

As is often the case with things we romanticize, a downside exists that gets little attention. When we learn about people who have lived lives filled with adventures or strings of disconnected experiences we find alluring, it's natural to glorify the person's life. But if one looks carefully enough, the lonely downside is what might deserve the attention more.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Where Is The No Minimum Wage Paradise?

Headline: "Minimum wage increase wins in four red states"

As usual, I'm curious about something. This time it's about people who are against wage supports.
If the thinking behind the anti-minimum wage position is valid, it should be relatively easy to find at least a few examples of high wage areas that are just awful places to live and low wage areas that are pretty close to paradise.

Maybe I'm not looking hard enough, but I can't find a single example of either.

 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Reincarnation, Patina, and Marriage Proposals

Another offering of satire headlines...

New survey shows 87% of professional athletes secretly wish their most intense fans would "just
get a life already"

American Psychiatric Association internal report shows depression caused by reincarnation errors

University researchers conclude surprise public marriage proposals most successful when done
right after last call

Hoping to avoid regulations, drone makers renaming their products "cordless kites"

Looking to expand beyond the saturated teen market, video game maker Blizzard Entertainment to
make Warcraft Antiquing: Quest for Provenance & Patina
 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Our Irrelevant Best

After seeing it referenced many times, I have finally read Mountains Beyond Mountains, a book about Dr. Paul Farmer who has become famous for bringing health care to some of the world's poorest places, most notably Haiti. The story gives me a bit of whiplash because the timing coincides with lots of prominent people in this country actually trying to take away health care from millions.

Even though we've had various versions of The Golden Rule around for millennia--something few declare to be an awful idea--we sadly continue to see it as immaterial, even in circumstances when it would be most useful.

I sometimes think an accurate flow chart of human thoughts and behaviors (assuming one could be created) would look like something an insane person would draw during a psychological test about their own thoughts and behaviors. A hopeful sign for such people usually includes an understanding of the problem and a desire to improve. Unfortunately, I see little of that when looking at humanity as a whole, making me see a less golden future.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Supernatural Sounds of the Forest

I heard again recently the supposedly deep philosophical question, "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound"? When I am exposed to this question it makes me cringe a little because it shows how deep our broken sense of existence actually goes. Just asking the question reveals the mistaken idea that the universe has a chance of being supernaturally influenced by the mere presence of a single human. The only thing uncovered by this question being formed, letting alone it being answered, is yet another example of what's dysfunctionally possible from humanity.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Power of the Pro-Pain Vote

It is often asked why the poor and powerless vote against their own interests when given the chance. When this question comes up I can't help but look for clues in similar human activities like abused spouses who stay with their abusers, people with low self-esteem who deny what's positive about themselves, and people who have a fetish for pain. It's unlikely that these things are completely disconnected from one another.

There is also a somewhat common mindset that supports the idea that those with power deserve it and those without power don't. (This idea is the basis behind caste systems in all their forms as well as the concepts of karma and heaven & hell.)

It is unfortunate for humanity that we have these capabilities that give support to what hurts so many of us, with no exception for self-inflicted damage. So it's no surprise to me that people deny opportunities for improvement, even when they are clear and easy to claim.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Horse Sense, Macaroni and Cheese

Continuing with the satire headlines...

New measuring techniques confirm "horse sense" standards are inferior to educated guesses, rules
of thumb, and "we've always done it this way"

Local man vows to solve mystery behind identical cooking instructions for every brand of
macaroni and cheese

Hopes of Candy Corn makers dashed as Halloween sales again fail to spur after-holiday interest

The world's most wealthy and powerful pushing U.S. to invade and impose our new anti-voting form
of democracy


 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Wolf Blitzer, DeBeers and Cooties

A few more satirical headlines that I thought I'd share...


Wolf Blitzer sets new goal to go outside before end of the decade

Hidden cameras reveal 73% of doctors cross their fingers during Hippocratic Oath

New Wikileaks documents reveal conspiracy behind DeBeers' diamond-girl friendship claims

God admits massive universe for humans was a mistake; vows to be less wasteful on future projects

Research confirms being gay is a choice often made during childhood in response to learning about cooties

The Scrap Value of Humanity

I think it is clear that humanity is a malfunctioning model of existence when the top fears of some people seem to be Ebola, voting, non-white "foreigners," women who want health care, and post-death fantasies. We are barely hanging on to an ontological status at all. It's hard to imagine us being qualified for anything other than the universe's bargain bin, offered for scrap.



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Monsters, Mules and More

Yes, more satire headlines...

Noticing that "well-adjusted people don't buy a lot of guns," NRA takes official stance against mental health care

Investigation reveals Ben & Jerry's "flavors" just silly names for chocolate, vanilla, strawberry

Survey shows book dedications are empty gestures, have no positive impact

Mule-hinny group forms to fight intra-equine discrimination

Growing minority of monsters feel Halloween is an insulting token holiday, want year-round recognition

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Satirical Headlines Continue...

Hidden Tragedy: thousands die annually in covert rye v. wheat grain wars

Newly analyzed data show time saved running yellow lights ends up being wasted

"Return Whites to Europe" campaign to kick off on Thanksgiving

Rich whites, blacks agree: poor blacks are the problem

Health insurance companies to raise rates for domestic violence victims who stay

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Anti-Photogenic Bigfoot


I just saw these two images on a Facebook feed at about the same time and thought together they were funny....

Source for image: http://wordsandtoons.com/2010/03/23/i-just-unfriended-bigfoot/bigfoot-facebook/

Overview Map of North American Bigfoot Sightings (Source for image: http://penn.freeservers.com/bigfootmaps/)




Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Satire Headlines Continue...

Toothbrush company insider admits new "advanced" model is nothing special

Survey shows professional dog walkers silently despise pooper scooper laws

Committee formed to search for conservative comedian who isn't an ignorant vicious ass

Pillow company sued for failure to include permanent cool side

The Ongoing Victory of Errors

When the Information Age brought us the Internet and its possibilities for sharing what we know on a wide scale, the expectation of positive dividends for humanity was repeated often. But, like a lot of expectations, the actual result has been quite different.

Along with the much greater access to quality information that has certainly been achieved via the Information Superhighway, the advancement has been largely eclipsed by propagation of bullshit that has also been given an accessible method of delivery. Getting good with the bad is a common and expected human experience, but in this case the good is losing big time, in my opinion.

Of course there are a lot of examples of improvements where the good outweighs the bad, but when looking in a larger sense at the overall change to our lives and how we interact with one another, I think the victory (so far) goes to the bad.

I think the reason in play has to do with the human need for training in order to overcome the many weaknesses and biases we all endure as part of the homo sapien package of existence. We are not knowledgeable and wise by default. It takes work--a lot of work--and the passing on of information from sources where human failings have been filtered out as much as possible. People don't generally deploy a valid method of checks and balances on their own. Adopting error-filled conclusions as credible is the much more likely result. But the effort will still be made to not only share damaged conclusions, but impose them on others, which is where the bad comes into play in a big way. When enough people sharing bad information reaches a number that appears to award legitimacy, those in the group become hardened in an act of self-defense and "the good" corrective information that is also available is shunned.

It's certainly true that it can be detrimental to have gatekeepers over the information that gets shared. But our current experience of being able to flood the world with open nonsense shows us the pernicious side of downplaying the value of chaperones and editors who use knowledge of our weaknesses to share the verifiable best we have to offer.

I don't have high hopes of our descendants reaching a workable balance anytime soon. But I do hope that the problem gets openly recognized and efforts for improvement based on that recognition are eventually undertaken.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Revolution-Invasion Problem

I think it's true for everyone that we sometimes find ourselves thinking that someone else (or a groups of others) is in some respect inferior because they can't understand something we can (or think we can). When this happens, the attitude can smear into a larger negative view of the other person (or people) causing what I like to call a superiority complex.

When this happens to an extreme level and involves large number of other people, the term arrogance comes into play and produces a corresponding negative view of self-declared superior person by everyone else. This, I think, is a type of balancing effect that we humans deploy in order to support a sense of equality most of us find appropriate.

In a much larger sense, however, the concept balance is what can cause everything from small arguments to large scale wars. In the attempt to maintain balance, these actions are often called revolutions or revolts. But conflicts can also be caused by the self-declaring superior party thinking they somehow have implicit permission to take detrimental actions against others as a way to try and make sure those seen as inferior don't begin to think they aren't. These actions might broadly be called invasions.

So, it seems that we can find a motivation for conflict in seemingly opposite conditions; one being the attempt at balance and equality (revolutions), the other being the attempt at maintaining some type of superiority (invasions).

This sometimes makes me think we'll never achieve a permanent peace as the pendulum swings back and forth between these opposing motivations for conflict.