Thursday, May 14, 2015

Conservatives Still Fear "Agitators" of Positive Change

Story: Ted Cruz blames Obama — saying the first black president has ‘inflamed racial tensions’

I don't think many people realize it, but this kind of rhetoric is just a reworded sentiment from the people fighting the abolition of Jim Crow laws when they cried about "outside agitators." This kind of language is based on the awful idea that people who are oppressed should just accept it and stop complaining, and others looking to help should also quit attacking the status quo. Change, even if it results in an improvement, is to be shunned for people who assert these positions.

I find it deeply saddening that we still have to put up with such nonsense.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Dimming of America

Story: US cited for police violence, racism in scathing UN review on human rights

It is not likely that major U.S. news outlets will pick this up, but this continuing deterioration of the country's behavior toward its own people and its standing in the world are things that aren't going away.

In addition to what's in this new report, the country's press freedom ranking continues to drop, now ranked 49th out of 180 countries (; many countries outrank us when it comes to education (; income inequality is atrocious (; and our health care system is ranked as the worst in the developed world (

With all these issues (and many more), we actually have large numbers of people who see as more important things like yet another war, nutty conspiracy theories like a federal invasion of Texas, denying climate change (and science in general), and putting more outdated religious ideas on the law books.

Our future doesn't look particularly bright.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Confusing Founders With Fortune Tellers

I've written in the past about a dangerous phenomenon I called founderism where we give past declarations power over us now. The most prominent examples are collections of laws and religious texts.

I recently saw a reference to something similar called "Founder's syndrome," a "difficulty faced by many organizations where one or more founders maintain disproportionate power and influence following the effective initial establishment of the project, leading to a wide range of problems for both the organization and those involved in it."

This situation is one that exists while a founder is still alive and in power, but the phenomenon I have previously mentioned is similar with the difference being proxies that take over for the founder(s) to cause the same problems. We can see this problem playing out every day with the people who see things like the U.S. Constitution and the Bible as somehow perfect, attempting to enforce it as they declare "the founders" would want.

We need to get rid of this idea that something that is declared or created at any point in time is somehow untouchable. Not only should everything be open to change, it should be a requirement. Nothing any human declares can include an accurate prediction of the future. It's just not possible. Thinking it is possible is the worst kind of thinking and does us a tremendous amount of harm.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Destroying Democracy With the Power of Concentration

Story: Republicans push for a permanent aristocracy

A large estate tax should be part of a larger overall philosophy that concerns itself with the concentration of wealth. Too much wealth in the hands of too few people destroys democracy and makes any political-economic system underneath irrelevant.

For those in favor of something resembling a pure capitalist world, that can't even be considered without a way to keep in play a very large number of very small players so that none of them has too much power and influence. This is the idea behind anti-trust laws, but they are continuing to be whittled away to nothingness, an ongoing effort with the same wealth-concentrating goal as estate tax elimination.

There is no way a democracy can survive as one unless a huge and continuous effort is maintained that stops the concentration of power. It can be successfully argued that this philosophy is the core idea behind the country's constitution with the "separation of powers" tenet being its main principle. Throwing away a respect for this key component of democracy is dooming We the People.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Democracy's Dead Canary

To me a valid democracy's canary in a coal mine would bee everyone showing an incredible amount of respect to the people elected to office because they are the ones chosen by the people themselves to take care of things. This deference would include the wealthiest and most popular among us. This would be a sign that the canary is still alive, democracy is working, and We The People are being respected as democracy intends.

But it's obvious that's not anywhere near our sad reality where the most wealthy and powerful are figuratively spitting in the face of We The People and choosing the ones who are in office to take care of them only. The very idea of democracy seems to have been abandoned for a system that keeps the name for appearances sake but does not even remotely resemble the idea.

The canary is dead. R.I.P.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Fear of Abstinence

Story: Two Georgia Prison Guards Resign After Photo of Beaten Inmate Leaks

The point in the headline of this story is not the issue I'm writing about. I'm writing about the reason the inmate was beaten: refusing to join a prison gang.

When reading this story I was reminded that this kind of reaction may be related to the way atheists are seen and treated by theists. The person who refuses to join a religion is also seen as a threat and open to attack, even when the real threat exists between religions (or gangs) and is openly acknowledged by adherents. Refusing to participate is, for some reason, unacceptable as an option.

This idea is also the central theme of the current popular book and movie Divergent, with characters in this story who do not join a "faction" being the lowest members of society and openly declared to be dangerous. This general motivation is also something I remember from post-Civil War America where African-Americans who wanted to be self-sufficient on their own land and not take part in the economics of the country in general were attacked and eventually either driven off their land or killed.

I think this trait also plays a role to varying degrees in other things that include sexual identity and practices, not having children or getting married, ethnicities, food choices, political parties, sports, and more.

It seems to be the case for a large majority of humanity that not participating in a recognized grouping system makes many of so uncomfortable that we can resort to violence over it. There are certainly circumstances where we need to come together in groups in order to function efficiently, but, like a lot of things we do, we take it too far. This trait is certainly one of the many things holding humanity back.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Capturing The Moment With Words

Writing should be seen the same way we see a photograph--a record of a moment of movement. Instead, we tend to give the written word an undue amount of authority when it is really only a single frame of the fluidity of existence, just like a picture. Each freezes a moment of time, one of light, the other of thought. Each can record those precious moments, but neither should be seen as an authority or source of truth when the future presents a question. These slivers of our past are markers of where we've been, but should not be taken as things that determine our future.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Robertson Rape-Murder Fantasy Actually Justifies Christian Atrocities

Story: 'Duck Dynasty' Star Imagines Vivid Rape And Murder Scenario For Atheist Family

This incident is getting quite a bit of play from various media sites. The head of the Robertson clan of religious zealots is trying to make the case that atheists have no morals and would therefore have no alternative but to accept a family's brutal rape and murder. Not only is the assertion that atheists have no morals an outrageous falsehood, this scenario is actually one that fits better within a Christian framework.

The entire Christian religion is based on the idea that nothing anyone does matters because every believer eventually gets a pass and goes to heaven anyway. With this in mind, a more appropriately aligned scenario would have the Robertson clan raping and murder a family of their choosing each Saturday night and then get absolution from their god every Sunday. Then, when the Robertson clan and their victims all end up in heaven together, there would be no hard feelings and everyone exists side-by-side forever in paradise.

The moral of this story is that Christianity allows for anyone to do anything without suffering any consequences in the end. In addition, victims get to live forever knowing that their murderers and torturers get no different treatment than those who lived without murdering and torturing people.

It's no wonder people with the sickest fantasies and tendencies flock toward this religion.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Fake Gun Shop Bad, Fake Abortion Clinics Good

Story: NRA Affiliate Is So Scared Of This Gun Safety Video That It Wants A Criminal Investigation

This story is about a fake gun shop that captures the reactions of people who are told the real statistics about gun violence. The NRA members and conservatives in general are upset, but it is not too far from the tactic used by fake abortion clinics, something they strongly support.

Oh, we hypocritical humans. We can't go a day without showing that side of ourselves. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Discriminating Self

I like the sentiment in this image, but it won't be realized anytime soon because almost all of us conflate beliefs and ourselves even if it's not on purpose or realized.

As I've written before, our literal self-identity does include held beliefs, especially the strongly held ones. It is why so many people become defensive when their beliefs are challenged. To attack someone's beliefs is to attack them personally and the same self-defense mechanism kicks in that is used when physically attacked or threatened.

So this idea is ideal, but until we recognize the error we commit with making beliefs a part of our self-structure, it's not something that will happen, unfortunately.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Godly Sticks and Stones Exception

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.*

*Gods not included.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Laughing Revelations

This is not always true, but it seems to me that it is more often than not the case that when a progressive person laughs at something it reveals something about the level of their intellect, whereas when a conservative laughs it reveals something about their level of ignorance.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Igoring First Time Failures

It is a fairly common refrain in many circumstances that problems can best be resolved by returning to some point in the past. Phrases like "return to fundamentals," nostalgia for "old time religion," along with similar sentiments that want to return to some sort of beginning moment are so prevalent that they hardly ever get challenged when put forward.

This needs to change.

I would assert that the first go at anything is almost always a failure. Examples include the formation of the United States. The first document, the Articles of Confederation, was a colossal wreck and had to be replaced rather quickly. The U.S. Constitution has been updated so many times (and ignored and reinterpreted many more times) that it would be rather useless today if put forward in its original form.

Religions, too, are also constantly updated. Christianity and Islam are clear examples of this, both being modifications of Hebrew religious traditions, which also changed over time quite a bit because of their unworkability (among other reasons). Mormonism fits in this category as well, with major changes having been adopted since its inception because its original doctrines became unreasonable.

Other examples of the failure of first attempts include just about any scientific hypothesis, use of new building materials, the first airplanes, creation of musical instruments, learning to draw (or create any kind of art), how to farm, sex, and more. There is probably no case of anything in the history of humanity that can be declared to be better when it was first introduced or created, either as a species or individually. We improve things with time, not the other way around. Our experiences guide us to make improvements. It's what humans do, and a lot of the time we do it pretty well. We only harm ourselves with attempts to return to some fictional past moment because something is wrongly seen as having been degraded.

The past if full of failures, as is our future. But our future is also where corrections are made and improvements implemented, so it only makes sense to put our focus there, not the past.

Fake Associations Basis For Military, College Athletics

It seems to me that a country's military outfits are about as connected to their countries as college sports teams are connected to their schools. Both are in name only with their existence being for independent purposes.

Political Cult Pacifism

I'm not the only one who thinks that there are more than a few similarities between religious cults and Fox News. Find any list of criteria for religious cults and the Fox News organization and its viewers fit nicely.

The creation of this cult is no small matter and, like other cults, should be exposed by those who care. The best case scenario would be for mainstream media outlets to take up the task to expose what's going on, but they don't seem to have the ability or the will to do so.

If anyone wants a sign of horrible things to come, this is one of them. I can't think of a scenario where the rise of a fanatical cult was later seen as a positive thing for humanity.

Planetary Exchange Rate

Getting people to convert parts of the planet into money for others to wield as a weapon over them is the creed of the capitalist. Those who find this a compelling point of view hold a baffling position that defies what it means to be human.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Corporate Feudalism

Story: The rise of the non-compete agreement, from tech workers to sandwich makers

This is a scary and dangerous trend for a society that wants to remain focused on the people who live within it. It is a move by people who own and run corporations to control the company's employees in a way that pushes us back in the direction of slavery. That may seem like an extreme statement, but when an owner of something looks to restrict general freedoms of people providing its labor, what else should that be called?

As I've written before, a corporation is a virtual entity we, as humans, created. Therefore, it should be something that serves us--all of us--not the other way around. We are the masters and it should be the slave. By allowing the small handful of people who own and control corporate entities to become the master everyone else inflicting an increasing number of restrictions on their lives, then it's more closely related to feudalism and slavery than is likely to be admitted.

Hopefully our descendants will evolve to work against our constant movement for control of the majority by a tiny minority. Until then, we'll have to suffer the repetition of this continuing societal structure with the main adaptations being mainly a series of different names for it.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Indistinguishable Dementia

It seems to me that people diagnosed with dementia who speak on the subjects of politics and religion are only moderately distinguishable from undiagnosed extremists on the political and religious right. While it is certainly possible that people suffering from dementia rant about equal rights, consumer protections, peace before war, treating the poor with dignity, and support for science, but I think it's much more likely that you'll find the opposite. I know of no study to show if this is true or not, but it would be telling to find out.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Testify No More

I usually carry a small notebook where I write down stray thoughts hoping to do something with them later. Looking over a few notes from the past week or so, among the things I've jotted down are "we rarely go to the source, opting for someone else's opinion/summary" and "we tend to like 'witnesses' as proof for things as varied as religions, weight loss products, stop smoking programs, crimes, and more."

Even though I saved these thoughts days apart, I think there is a common idea, one that has to do with the tendency to accept what we're told if the person telling it to us is, for some reason, acceptable as a source. That acceptability can be simply that we like the person, that we have liked past declarations by this person (relevant or not), we don't wish to question authority, we see no reason to challenge what's being said, and a whole host of other reasons that include nothing independently viable. We tend to need a human voice to offer viability, and, unfortunately, often that's all we need or want. This is one of our greatest weaknesses because it falsely gives power where it doesn't belong (testimony), and, because it's human-based, it's open to honest mistakes and purposeful manipulation.

Instead, what I would hope we come to realize as a species is that we remember to discount what people say until or unless it is verified, and not just when it's a single human witnesses or storyteller. A bunch of people repeating the same thing does not give it any more weight than exists for a single person giving testimony. It's a shame that we can't trust ourselves, but given the proven tendency for lying, the inherent problems that exist when trying to communicate anything, and the inability to tell the truth even when we try because our memories aren't perfect, we need verification that eliminates as much of the human element as possible.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Fear Of People Power

Story: How billionaires destroy democracy

This is just one recent story of many that are consistently being written having to do with the problems that come with high concentrations of wealth under the control of a few people. We keep seeing the evidence that this is a bad idea but fail to really do anything about it. Why is something that is so obviously detrimental left unchanged?

Buried among the reasons we humans tend to not act in our best interest in this regard is something that I don't think gets discussed much. It is the tendency--maybe even a unacknowledged desire--to be ruled by a small group of elites. I think the main reason this may be true is because it allows us to point to someone or some group specifically when we want to know who's in charge. Even if we don't like something that's going on, there is a level of comfort knowing that there is a tangible something out there running the show. If power and wealth are too heavily diffused, then that ability is nonexistent and, to most, unsettling. It's more comforting to have something concrete (or close to it) that can be assigned responsibility.

(This is also likely the reason gods were invented, and the reason for the eventual move from a pantheon of gods to monotheism.)

This same principle is likely in play when it comes to monarchies, and all feudal systems. These systems are set up to funnel wealth and power to an elite few, yet they have their supporters among those under their control. If there is a problem that arises, the solution is hardly ever to give "power to the people," but to replace the current ruling class with another one operating with the same authority. They system isn't flawed, they will say, only the people in charge are flawed.

One of the ironic things about this condition is the usual support for democracy and capitalism that is repeated by supporters of inequality. The cognitive dissonance is astounding. When it comes to capitalism, for example, the "magic hand" so many tout as the key to it working includes the requirement that there be a large number of very small players so that none of them has the power of influence on their own. When it comes to democracy, it can only be operational if "we the people" can actually participate in it. Again, a large number of very small players is key. But we have those with the most wealth and power convincing us otherwise.

And here's the main matter what name we give a social system and what components we pretend to put in place under that name, we always seem to find a way to create a small number of off-the-chart winners with the vast majority of people accepting their lot as titanic losers. Until we, as a species, have the courage to actually put power in a non-distinct entity like "the people," we will continue to let a handful of us rule the rest, meaning our future will be more-or-less a series of minor name changes to the systems we pretend are different.