Camera-people—Reset the Stage (2017Sep28)


bible4

Thursday, September 28, 2017                                        4:01 AM

Camera-people—Reset the Stage   (2017Sep28)

Trump ran his campaign as if it were a live sequel to his TV game show, playing the crowd, trading dignity for attention. Now his presidency is more of the same. And I know, now that he’s president, you news-people can’t NOT cover his statements. But I have a suggestion….

Please stop forcing us all to watch Trump’s compulsive, neurotic hand-semaphoring. If you would simply zoom in tighter on his face, we wouldn’t have to deal with his wormy finger-dances—and, we could get a good look at those beady little eyes while he’s lying to us.

And if he shifts out of frame—let him. He’s been disrespecting the office and the spirit of the nation since he waltzed into politics. If he can’t speak calmly to one camera in direct address (like a president) that’s his problem—it’s not your job to help him make this into some ‘reality series’. He’s a goddamned government official—give him his camera but, please, don’t give him a stage.

Policy, Theoretically   (2017Sep27)


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Wednesday, September 27, 2017                                              3:24 PM

Policy, Theoretically   (2017Sep27)

Trump spouts an endless stream of lies, hate-speech, willful obtuseness, and the rhetoric of a school-yard bully (or is it ‘a junk-yard dog’?) yet the media displays these assaults on our society, these insults to our intelligence—then they turn around and talk about the ‘Administration’s policies’, discussing them as if they were ‘thought-out’, or ‘a settled matter’—neither of which is ever the case.

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To talk of a Trump policy is to posit a theoretical—unless we count ‘a pompous attitude and suppressed rage’ as a policy stance. Look at health care (ignoring the GOP for the moment—which, trust me, is the best you can do for them at this point). Trump’s office has never specified a single item of detail on health-care legislation—and Trump has never said anything on the subject that he hasn’t contradicted in some video archive somewhere. He has blamed specific people for his failure. He has attacked his opposition (everybody?) for thinking there is anything good in Obamacare. But positive input? No, Trump doesn’t play that.

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Now everyone is discussing tax reform—referring to Trump on this or that point—but Trump, being pointless, simply functions as a screen for GOP wealthy-donor pandering. He’ll say stuff (My god—as if this overgrown lap-dog could ever stop his yapping!) but it won’t have any bearing on anything besides himself.

The GOP will try to publicly reconcile their overall stinginess with their generosity towards the fat-cat donors, in statements that will push bamboozlement to new heights—but it’ll all be so much bullshit. Nothing new there—except perhaps the new, raw, nakedness of the GOP’s pandering to the wealthy, counter to any public-opinion-poll that shows 98% of citizens wanting the opposite. The wealthy, IMHO, are painting themselves into a corner. When there are only a dozen of them, and ten billion starving outside their mansion walls, what will their money be worth then?

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Alas, we are ruled by people who specialize in winning campaign fights—a mark against them, if anything. Look at HRC—woulda made a great leader—but she lacked Trump’s capacity for hypocrisy and bullshit. It was never about which would make a better president—lucky for Rockhead Man.

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Trump Cherry-Picks Our ‘Freedoms’ For Us (2017Sep25)


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Monday, September 25, 2017                                          4:50 PM

The recent episodes of “Trump’s Tweets” show our hero indulging in his own freedom of speech to condemn others’. He seems to misapprehend the distinction between authority and constitutionality—as if the Constitution’s Bill of Rights were a takeout-menu selection type of thing.

Trump’s so sure in his presentation of his opinions, it’s as if he had reason to be so sure—as if he had carefully pondered all the imponderables, after decades of discussion and experimentation, years of study, etc. But let us not forget that Trump is just blowing opinions out of his ass, strictly top-of-his-head, off-of-his-cuff bullshit that occurs to him, out of the blue—and he rushes to share it with his doting cultists.

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I know that nobody wants to—and I know nobody wants to bother. But let’s take a moment with his ravings-of-the-cycle: We may presume that the president is leaning hard on his own right-to-free-speech when he calls a bunch of people ‘sons-of-bitches’ in public. But he is not—he is using the phrase in a familiar fashion—like a ‘regular joe’, see? He’s so popular.

The more important argument—does this Kaepernik guy have the right to kneel during the singing of the anthem, in protest against civil injustice? Well, let’s see—he started out ‘sitting it out’—and then when people got ‘tudinal about that, he knelt instead—in deference to the flag and the anthem—but still making a protest. This Kaepernik actually had the grace to make concessions in his protest—out of respect for others’ feelings. Trump is more graceless.

But most important, to my thoughts, is that Trump doesn’t see the difference between a deal, a PR stunt, and the hallowed traditions of American ideals. He is of the class that has always gleefully used the USA’s greatness for their own purposes, while giving lip service to its truth—the class that makes it necessary to fight and re-fight these tired old fights about race, gender, religion, and rule of law. Entitled assholes, in other words—but we the people have never before been so well snookered into electing one of these sons-of-bitches.

And now he’s making hay while his son-in-law is shining—while the rest of those worthless GOPs balk at the ever-more-inevitable impeachment. I’d be tweeting random BS, too, I suppose—if I was living in the White House, and had no good goddamned reason to be there.

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What Happened? I’ll Tell You What Happened (2017Sep12)


New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to the reporters at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, March 10, 2015. Clinton conceded that she should have used a government email to conduct business as secretary of state, saying her decision was simply a matter of “convenience.” (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017                                          11:07 AM

What Happened? I’ll Tell You What Happened   (2017Sep12)

Hillary Clinton’s new book, “What Happened”, has been getting a multitude of similar reviews—all of which summarize her reasoning and smugly find it lacking, for a bunch of self-assured reasons. It makes me crazy to see this reek of misogyny continuing on, as if the election were still in progress.

We all know exactly ‘What Happened’. Hillary Clinton offered the country an intelligent, reasonable choice—and we, in our collective wisdom (or lack of) chose Donald Trump—an idiot we would be hard pressed to find the equal of. It is not Hillary who has to explain herself. ‘We have met the enemy—and he is us.’

The GOP blamed Obama for eight years of struggle to recover our employment rate—forgetting that Bush made the crater Obama then crawled out of. Did Hillary fail to recognize the spasms of rage and resentment being stoked by Republicans, Alt-righters, and Russians? Did she keep her head in an environment where quiet common sense had gone out of fashion? Yes. Does her being a minority of one mean that she should have acted like a carnival barker—that she was the one making mistake after mistake? Sadly, no—that was us.

The media, especially social media, whipped us all into paroxysms of hysteria over the 2016 presidential race—and only in such a fact-free, reason-free, top-of-your-voice environment could we have been turned around enough to have voted in a TV con-man with his hand out, groping for pussy. But hey—that’s What Happened.

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The Ephemeral Nature of Knowledge (2017Sep09)


GiaquintoWinter

Saturday, September 09, 2017                                          11:14 PM

The Ephemeral Nature of Knowledge   (2017Sep09)

In 1975, the two parts of the Apollo-Soyuz mission took off—Soyuz 19 launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Apollo from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. That’s how things were in my day—information was free, research was shared, all classes were open to audit. Oddly enough, science had to court interest back then.

Now that information has been commodified, the focus has turned to how the new data or discovery can be cashed in on for the highest price—even if it’s just a nuisance lawsuit against an actual inventor. If you want help with your computer, you have to pay for it. In the past, if something broke, you only payed for parts and labor—in our brave new world, we have to pay for explanations about products and services we bought in good faith. That may be the norm, but no way does that make it right and proper.

We see this info-hoarding effecting education, too, in scam seminar universities, scam online degrees, predatory school loans, and a general consensus among the business world that it is now okay for someone to be charged for information—and as always ‘caveat emptor’. Conversely, as Bill Maher addressed in his ‘New Rules’ last night, people can be charged for what they don’t know:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xP13QTOI9z4&list=PLAF22812129BFCD50&index=1

 

There is another side of the information situation—YouTube, Google, Wikipedia, Gutenberg.org, et. al—the Net-Neutrality crowd, so to speak—which allows anyone with computer access to self-educate, up to and including PhD-level science lectures from Ivy League professors on YouTube. The only catch is that it is all public-access, public-domain. For example, let’s look at http://www.gutenberg.org (The Gutenberg Project)—their mission was to make the text of every book available, online, for free.

When I first found this site, I was blown away. Previously, I had spent childhood in the library and adulthood in the bookstores—and neither could ever offer ‘every’ book, much less without leaving home. Gutenberg allows free text downloads of every classic in English literature—the only catch is, they can only offer what is in the public domain. Amazon started selling the for-profit books, the latest, the bestsellers, anything really—it was a bibliophile’s dream, even before they started in with e-books.

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Today, when you go to Gutenberg’s site, it has been hybridized, offering the same free downloads, but with a Kindle e-book-file download-option—so users can keep their reading material all on one device. The oddest part is that some of Gutenberg’s offerings have been re-issued as e-book classics by the publishers of the hard copy—making it possible to buy a book (say Jane Austen’s Emma) on Amazon, that is available free on Gutenberg. I know because I have done it—and keep both editions on my Kindle out of sheer cussedness.

But my point is that if you read every book they have (I’m joking—an impossible task, in one lifetime) you still would not be acknowledged academically in any way. The same is true for whatever you learn online—even the degree-issuing online institutions are condescended to by the analog schools—as if being on-site really impacts most of today’s workplaces.

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However, you can do things with knowledge—that is its ultimate purpose—so even if education can’t get you a job, it can still help you invent your own. Nevertheless, the sheepskin (as a ticket into a well-paid position) is a commodity now—and must be paid for. But all these conditions are just the extremes of greed brought out by the commodification of knowledge.

The real danger is the stagnation of research and development. Not only are the greed for profits skewing the directions of researching, but the findings themselves are kept confidential.

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The boom days of Thinking are over. In Einstein’s time, German universities were hubs of intercourse between academics and scientists, as were the great schools of Britain and the rest of Europe—and American institutions as well. Traveling to mingle with others in one’s field, holding conventions and seminars on the challenges of the day—it was as free as a bird. Nobody knew what an NDA was—hell, scientists at NASA were challenging the government’s Security strictures (mid-Cold War) because they claimed that science could only exist as a global effort, with shared information. Imagine.

And it is worth mentioning that the guy who ran IBM, who put up signs around the offices with the one word ‘THINK’—was not being cute. After two world wars, people didn’t waste time sitting around thinking—no one had had that kind of leisure in living memory. But it was exactly what IBM needed its employees to do. He had to actually encourage them to remember that thinking was their job now.

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The reason for the change was that academics had entered the everyday—it had started with autos and radios and such—but now people had electrified homes, TVs, rocket ships—and as the IBM staff thunk, it only got more complicated and scientific. Now, I’d have to write several paragraphs to summarize all the modern stuff in our modern lives.

But the dichotomy is still there—we still believe that achievement should make you sweat. We still believe that just sitting and figuring something out is a waste of time—‘things are okay as they are’. We are wrong to believe that.

We have accepted all the gifts of technology, but pretended that it was all for free. We are close to recognizing that technology has a cost on our environment—several decades have been spent on that inconvenient truth—and there are still those who refuse to acknowledge the bill coming due.

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We haven’t even begun to address the cost to our society of technology. If we are going to have our children growing up around wireless electronic devices, we need to start calculating the parameters of how much their development will be influenced, or even damaged, by certain gadgets, apps, and games. We also need to address the asocializing effect which smartphones have on both children and adults.

Beyond that, it would be nice to have a grown-up discussion about the fact that half of society has integrated itself with the Internet, to the point of total dependency on its reliability—while the other half is finding ways to disrupt online systems for political or profitable gain, assuring us that the Internet can never be secure in the way we need it.

Yesterday’s announcement about the Equifax hack, exposing private info on millions of Americans and their finances, leaves all those people vulnerable to ID-theft and bank fraud. And this is the same system that runs our banks, our government, our phones, and damn near everything else—while totally unsecure. I’d like to talk about that—wouldn’t you?

Still, the ‘big boss’ paradigm persists—the idea that a strongman like Trump is America’s best choice for a leader, here in the twenty-first century—should be a joke. A man who can’t even use Twitter without typos is the wrong guy to be in charge of an online, subatomic, robotic world, okay? Bluster is still very effective—a lot can be done with bluster. But like many American workers today, having an old skill-set leaves one obsolete for the challenges of today.

And while all the fat cats are getting rich off of each new boner pill or wireless ear-pod, real forward movement in science is relatively crippled by the secrecy and the patent lawsuits and the proprietary research that’s kept hidden.

It’s time for one of my ‘true stories from history’. In ancient China, the emperor’s court was very exclusive—successive layers of the grounds were off-limits to the public and to lesser officials. One of the innermost places was the workshop of the Emperor’s scientists and engineers. When one emperor’s reign ended, the new emperor would appoint new scientists and engineers. In this way, many inventions and discoveries came and went.

In eighth century China, an artificer created the first escapement clockwork—but the usurping Emperor caused all record of the clock’s design (and the clock) to be destroyed. Clocks would disappear, until they were reinvented in Europe, in the fourteenth century.

People tend to focus on firsts—who gets credit for inventing a new thing—who gets credit for noticing some physical constant for the first time? But this story struck me not as a story of invention, but a cautionary tale about the ephemeral nature of knowledge. If the machines break, if the books get burnt (or locked away), if the kids don’t get educated—all technology, all knowledge—just disappears. And information is a lot easier to keep than it is to find.

The way to preserve information is to disseminate it, print it, teach it, put it online, make a movie about it. The way to lose information is to hoard it, to dole it out for a price—as we have seen, when information becomes a commodity, a lot of cheap knock-offs get sold—fake news, scam universities, corporate climate-change denial. The truth is precious is its own right—putting a price-tag on knowledge only corrupts it.

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Oh, I Hope So (2017Sep07)


bible8

Thursday, September 07, 2017                                        11:33 PM

Oh, I Hope So   (2017Sep07)

I feel a tremendous sense of freedom lately—recent events have created the same sense of hyper-alertness, of being under attack—as a nation—that we felt for so long after 9/11 (the 16th anniversary of which is hard upon us). But we have recovered from the surprise ambush of ignorance—we have taken the measure of the beast now—and we see many ways to maneuver against Trump, his supporters, and his oligarch buddies over in the new Mob-run Soviet.

Instant destruction still looms, of course, but aside from the willful rush towards it, nothing is really new. So I’ve recovered from the sense of dislocated reality—I’ve got ahold of myself, and I have faith that the backlash will ultimately blow his weave right off his empty noggin.

Direct proof of Russian meddling and mischief—above and beyond the attempted hacking of voting machines, above and beyond the WikiLeaks disruptions—traced the spreading of lies through social media to Russian troll-farms pretending to be American Conservatives, posting disinformation on Twitter and Facebook—investigators can give hard data on the perpetrators now, so it can no longer be dismissed as mere rumor.

Evidence has also been found to indicate that Russian meddling very definitely saw Hillary’s defeat, and Donald’s sneaking a slim victory, as unexpectedly sweet revenge for Putin and a strategic victory for the Russian State. Of course, in spite of this solid picture that’s forming, we have an enthralled, segregated sector of Americans who still access ‘alternative news’, even as we expose ‘alternative news’ as a Russian disinformation and disruption campaign.

More importantly, we face a conundrum: Trump lies like a rug about America and the Federal Government and the elected officials. So does Russia. Are these two forces of evil coincidentally centered on the same presidential election? Or were they coordinating their lies for the promise of Russian banking loans and development deals? We’ll see, eventually, I guess. But, in the meantime, I’m satisfied that serious people are out there proving that Trump is dishonest to the point of treason—as I’ve shouted (in blog-post style) for over two years now.

And that lets me off the hook. Sure, I’ll remain a voice crying in the wilderness, blog-wise, but I’ll go back to focusing on basic principles and apparent paradoxes in current American events—now that the Trump-effect is starting to flicker and dim. I think we, as a nation, have finally hit bottom and come (partially) to our senses—beginning the long climb back up to a citizenry that would only laugh at the idea of a Trump presidency. Or, at least, I hope so.

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Can You Make Change? (2017Sep06)


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Wednesday, September 06, 2017                                              6:16 PM

Can You Make Change?   (2017Sep06)

In the Era of the Stupid President, we are all searching for answers: How did this happen? Who voted for the con-man and why? Were we tricked by the media, by Russia, or by Trump himself? How can we validate online sources and avoid ‘fake news’? Will our country survive four years of deliberate malfeasance—and, if not, why is he not impeached yet?

But I think I’ve found a central issue: How do people deal with change? And the answer is: Really badly.

As we grow older, we fight against accepting the change in ourselves. When people are presented with a new idea, they tend to fight against hearing it, to fight against accepting it, and to fight against living by it. Americans, being ‘free’, have a tendency to overdo our fight against change—we often claim our right to be wrong (even when it hurts others—which removes it from the arena of personal freedom).

And, as a nation that does poorly with change, we are the most vulnerable country in terms of future shock and disruption overload. While electronics and microbiology and nanotech and DNA-sequencing transform global culture, erasing millions of old jobs and habits, creating millions of new challenges and changes—we experience the drag of a national culture that has learned to be oblivious.

While less than a tenth of Americans (I’m guessing) are actively involved in making the future, at least half of us are so uninvolved that we don’t even vote. Our academic standings have dropped compared to the rest of the world. Our manufacturers move jobs to make a quick buck, leaving us shouting about lost jobs—while robotics inexorably replaces all manufacturing work.

Instead of growing our country with unlimited free wy-fy, we make it a commodity—guaranteeing that wy-fy will be withheld from the most desperately hard-striving half of the country. Instead of making healthcare a universal right that we can all rely on (at a sixth of what we spend now) we support the insurers and pharmacists that see healthcare only as a cold-blooded cash cow. We the People? Sounds more like We the Entrenched Business Interests to me.

People, generally, don’t change. They will follow someone they respect into a new paradigm—FDR, JFK, and Obama are a few examples. But without an idealist who also happens to have charisma, Americans are lemmings. We’re in lemming-mode right now. We need a leader. Or we need to learn to deal with change much more courageously.

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President Barack Obama is photographed during a presidential portrait sitting for an official photo in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)