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.