D is for Dummy   (2017Feb28)


Tuesday, February 28, 2017                                             9:11 AM

According to the New York Times, Trump wants to add $54 billion to our military spending, saying, “We have to start winning wars again.” This sorry fuckwad doesn’t see a problem with wars—just with losing them. It may be difficult for those of us living in reality to understand what this drooling moron means when he spews his ignorance. I believe this particular tid-bit was meant to suggest that we will go to every hot spot on Earth and use American Might to slaughter everyone involved, thus ‘winning’. I guess when you’re that old, mere diplomacy and world peace won’t get your dick hard.

BLOTUS says, “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.” He doesn’t want to admit it was just him—so he says ‘Nobody’ knew. This is the beauty of seeing reality as a story to be shaped, rather than a true thing—you can adjust the facts to make yourself look sane. Every-fucking-body knew—and everyone has known for years and years, that Health Care was complex—only someone who completely ignored politics until last year could possibly have missed the fact that Health Care was complex—and guess who that sounds like.


I know that facts are unpopular nowadays—but here’s one: the ACA was based on a Republican governor’s successful state program—it addressed several injustices that existed in commercial health insurance, it saved lives, and the only way it could be improved or made more economic would be to put back the single-payer option that Obama was forced to drop when he pushed the bill through. That’s the simple truth.

But Republicans and Trump campaigned on the notion that the ACA was evil incarnate—a curse upon the nation. They wanted to repeal it so bad they could taste it. They passed repeal bills in the House like sixty-something times. We can see now why they were so desperate—people have gotten used to health insurance—they like it and they don’t want anyone to take it away now. It turns out that some people look on this evil curse as a blessing—who knew that keeping kids healthy would be popular with parents—even dyed-in-the-wool Republican parents?

But how can they rail against something for years—and then turn around and claim they had no idea how complicated it was? How can they justify ending a government policy so popular that twenty million people signed up for it—and without any kind of replacement? Trump went on to say that his Obamacare-replacement plan is going to be incredibly super-terrific—he doesn’t have one yet, but he knows that it will be terrific. Is that just his subtle way of reminding us that ‘terrific’ has the same root as ‘terror’? I’m afraid so.


But I’m not going to condescend to you, dear reader, as if you were some brainless Trump supporter. You know he’s an ignorant, confused old elitist who snuck into a position he is unfit for. You don’t need me to tell you that the GOP has to use gerrymandering to win elections because their priorities don’t include serving the people. You don’t need me to tell you you’re being lied to—you can tell the truth from a punch in the face without any help from me. I only write these posts because I’m consumed with a thirst for vengeance, just dying for truth and justice to make a comeback.

Trump’s statements, his behavior, his so-called policies—I see them as proof of treasonous criminality and incompetence. Others see them as something to vote for. That’s an incomprehensible gap in our perception of things. I believe that a quarter of this country is made up of people who had trouble with school, with comprehension and reading skills—people who’ve spent their lifetimes being corrected, confused, and condescended to by intelligent people.

They hate subtlety, they hate ideas and ideals, they hate science and math, they hate history and education—and most of all, they hate eggheads, nerds, brains, or intelligentsia of any kind—study and knowledge are the enemy to that quarter of our population—the quarter who see Trump as their champion. Trump told them it’s okay to stand up in public and be an idiot, to say something that three-quarters of Americans laugh at for its inanity—that being a perfect fool is nothing to be ashamed of—and they love him for it.

Of course, it’s a little uncomfortable to come right out and champion stupidity, so they rebrand intelligence as ‘being liberal’. Then they change it to ‘libertards’, to imply that thinking is the real stupidity (and to get away with using ‘retard’ as an insult without anyone being able to call them on it). Sadly, they condemn thinking as if it’s something they would never do—when the truth is that thinking is something they’ve never been able to do.

That quarter of our population got Trump into office—but they had help. The people who didn’t bother to vote (which was fully half the country) may not have been stupid enough to vote for him—but they were stupid enough to let it happen. I give them a D.


Stuck in the Snow   (2017Feb27)


Monday, February 27, 2017                                             11:29 AM

I’m tired of discussing it. I’ve been in meetings with people I respected, people who knew what they were talking about—and still, at some point you reach a time when you just get tired. How much more tiring it is to have an argument (I won’t dignify them as ‘discussions’) with someone who is speaking from an emotional, partisan obstinacy.

They trot out their syllogisms, their zingers, their disdain for other points-of-view, their outrage, hurt pride, and puffed chests—the tools of those for whom reason holds no fascination—just a lurking fear that calm, sensible thought will prove them wrong, and a blindness to their emotional attachment to maintaining the wrong, if that’s the case.

It reminds me of a story. I was hitchhiking on I-684 in a snowstorm, coming back north from a visit to a friend in White Plains. Four guys in a real boat of a seventies car picked me up. Their friendliness was greater than their care for their automobile, for the windshield-wipers weren’t working and the driver was trying to reach out his window and wipe the snow from the windshield as he drove.

Traffic moves right along on 684—we must have been doing sixty when the driver’s attention to the windshield caused him to stop paying attention to the road and he went onto the shoulder. The shoulder had deeper snow, and so pulled the car further off the road—the steering wheel, at this point in the snowstorm, had become more a suggestion than an instruction.

Soon we were basically sleigh-riding the car through a field full of saplings by the side of the highway—shearing their tops off as the car’s inertia plowed us unerringly towards some older trees—trees with trunks that would put a quick stop to even the largest vehicle. The car, luckily, slowed to a stop just a few feet in front of one such tree. We all breathed a sigh of relief that we hadn’t met the tree, and piled out to try to push the car back from the tree and towards the road again.

The car wouldn’t budge. We pushed and pushed and nothing happened. I got down on the ground and looked under the car. I could see that we had sheared off a healthy sapling’s trunk and the base of the young tree was not only jammed up into the carriage, but bent towards the larger tree we had just avoided smashing into. Five men with slippery shoes in the snow would have had a tough time moving the car had it been free to roll. But this was five men trying to push a car hard enough to uproot a small tree—while pushing a car.

I tried to explain the physics to my kind travelers—but I couldn’t express myself clearly enough to make them understand that we would have to literally lift the car off the ground to extract it from the spot it was in—I couldn’t even get them to look under the car, as I had. They wanted me to continue helping them try to push the car.

At the time, I felt more stuck by my inability to get through to my new friends than by the car being physically, inextricably stuck where it was. I’m not an alpha-male—I’m not the assertive sort—when I say things, I don’t shout or insist—I just say them. It never fails to surprise me that no one ever listens—it’s not like I’m wrong all the time—and you’d think people would notice that, right? But, no—no one ever says, “Hey, we better listen to Chris—he’s usually right.” I only got noticed when I made a mistake. In that way, I’ve always identified with Hillary Clinton—the smartest person in whatever room she’s in, but the last person anyone wants to hear from—and just let her make one little slip….


Of course this was all long ago, back when I had a pretty sharp mind—I’m wrong all the time these days—I live in a fog. Yet, I still see some things that seem obvious, even in my fog, that I simply can’t believe others don’t see clearly. I still get exhausted trying to argue with people who don’t think about what they’re saying, just saying whatever seems like a ‘good argument’ or a clever rebuttal—and fuck the big picture.

And I’ve found that most people are not at all stupid—even the Trump supporters are not as stupid as one would expect a Trump-supporter would have to be to support Trump. They don’t lack intelligence. They lack respect. They don’t respect reason—because they’re afraid of it—maybe having a hard time in school taught them that logic is not their friend—I don’t know. They don’t respect themselves—and that pushes them to reject any show of respect for people that know what they’re talking about—or even for the subject under discussion. Most Trump-support boils down to self-loathing, turned outwards towards the rest of the world. They’re basically saying, “I’m gonna make an ass of myself—and you can’t stop me, because I voted for the king of the ignoramuses—and idiocy is in charge now.

The Russians support Trump. Bannon is a confessed anarchist who wants to destroy the government. Conway got so used to lying she tried to give it a name: ‘alternative facts’. At least ten of Trump’s hires since inauguration have been expelled due to unfitness. And Trump has claimed that a free press is the enemy of the people—if I was crook and a liar, I’d say the same thing. The Republicans—jeez, these scumbags—whenever one of them opens their mouths, I want to shoot’em for treason. How do these trolls get elected—are their constituents in a coma? What? I just don’t get it—and boy, am I tired of pushing this car.


The Fog Clears   (2016Dec10)


Saturday, December 10, 2016                                           1:34 PM

I think I’m starting to see it now. The typical Trump supporter thinks he’s won an argument with the world—proving once and for all that being smart, being open-minded, and being inclusive—that’s all for weak sissies who don’t understand how the world really works. There are a lot of Facebook comments that start out, “You liberals can all just sit down, now, and let the real men take over….”

And conviction is a wonderful thing—I can be pretty mule-headed myself. But I like to be sure I’m in the right, before I draw a line in the sand, or before I stop listening to the opposition. Simply being convinced that you’re right, without any foundation—that’s more like being crazy on purpose. Rationalizing frustration, confusing anger with a solution—these things can appear to be cogent choices, if we don’t look too far inside ourselves.

Emotion speaks louder than intellect—that’s why there’s that expression, ‘the still, small voice of reason’. You have to listen to your innermost self to know what you really think, apart from how you feel. But introspection is not a very popular pastime.

The question now becomes: when this inexperienced, ignorant poser starts to screw up everything he touches (and his cabinet choices, even before the inauguration, are just the appetizer) will those who voted for him realize their mistake, or will they rationalize again, finding yet more excuses for their poor choice?

A friend called me a conservative the other day—I never thought I’d see that. But after consideration, perhaps the pro-Trump people are the true liberal air-heads—allowing their imaginations to so strongly influence their perception of reality. The only difference is that real liberals want to empower the disenfranchised—Trump-libs are only out to empower themselves. But even if they ‘woke up’ tomorrow, and truly saw what they had done—it’s too late now—the votes have been counted. Is self-disenfranchisement even a word?

Atheism Is Dead   (2015Mar27)



Friday, March 27, 2015                                    8:52 PM

To speak against the local religion was a good way to get yourself dead, back in the day. That still holds true for some parts of the world—even some parts of America. But if we exclude the slimy backwaters of the world and of our country, one could reasonably state that atheism is a much safer subject for public expression. Sure, ISIS might behead you in some areas. Down in Texas, some good ol’ boys might decide to drag you behind their pickup. Even here in New York, there’s always the possibility that a rifle-toting extremist will come a-hunting for any outspoken advocate of atheism.

But by and large, it’s no big deal these days. There are so many ‘practicing atheists’ (people who don’t pray or keep the Sabbath) among the supposed Christians that the few who go to the trouble of being positively-professed atheists appear as more or less just extremely-lapsed Christians . And the rise of Humanism adds to that impression by collecting most atheists into a group that still searches for things like good, evil, meaning, and purpose.


I have a Humanist tendency, myself—but I find it takes a little care to go searching for a replacement for religion without transforming that search into a new cult of its own. I see morality and community, the two greatest benefits of established religions, as important to society. But I would beware of trying to justify goodness, badness, etc. on any more ideal, less practical grounds than their providing a friction-reducing framework for society.

Charity, for instance, has in many cases been analyzed by economists and found to be more cost-effective than austerity. It’s just good business—counterintuitive, yes—but still the right way to go. The benefits of that modern rarity, Honesty, aren’t even counterintuitive, they’re just very unpopular—even considered by many to be a sign of immaturity. But those who have fallen to temptation are always eager for company—it justifies their choice. How many of us felt pressured to lose our virginity by being made to feel childish while it remained intact?


My point is that God is completely unnecessary when choosing between good and bad. We are all familiar with con-artists, we are all warned that if someone offers us what seems too good to be true, it will surely be untrue. Ask anyone, they’ll tell you—there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Well, the universe works the same way. Humanity, as a species, as a civilization, requires socially healthy attitudes. Fat cats may not feel the universe’s kick-in-the-ass for being selfish and greedy—but we, as a group, are punished for allowing wealth to concentrate so greatly in individuals, merely for the remote chance we could become one of them.

And rich people, like lap dogs, are specially bred to their bizarre environment. Just look at lottery winners if you want to see the effect of great wealth on the average citizen—most of them have their lives destroyed, their families broken—some even go bankrupt. Some go mad and a few of them actually kill themselves. Sound like a dream come true? Only rich people, born and raised to take their wealth for granted in a world full of poverty, can handle sitting on a huge pile of cash—not that most of them are the picture of mental health, either.


But that’s a special case—the separation of the wealthy from the rest of us obscures the cause-and-effect of their follies. In general, we can see that taking advantage of others, whether by crime, betrayal, lies, or violence, will come back to haunt us eventually. Karma may not be a spiritual force, but there is symmetry in nature, and it applies to society as much as to physics. In cases of a ‘perfect crime’, so to speak, where the payback is difficult to trace, we still find that society as a whole is damaged by anti-social behavior. And since we live in society, we are in some way affected as individuals, too.

As individuals, we can make the case that society is not our problem. My theory that morality is socially healthy could be described as idealistic, in that sense. But again, as members of society, we can abrogate our responsibility if we wish, but we can’t deny our inclusion in whatever future we help to bring about. If evil predominates, society will self-destruct—an end that seems all too likely, and in the not-very-far-off future, to boot. If so, the good will perish along with them. If however, we somehow manage to save ourselves, I think I’ll enjoy having been on the winning team.


Okay, presentation over. I hope I got my point across. My ideals, if you want to call them that, are based on practical evaluations of the conditions of my reality—I don’t feel obliged to bring them all the way round to axioms of faith. They work well enough, and any further progress would involve greater knowledge than humanity has at present, or may ever have, or may be capable of having.

Someone recently made a point of humanity displaying an innate ‘sense of purpose’ and hung on that the premise that purpose must exist. He was arguing that atheists seem fixed on defining themselves by what they are not. He was arguing that today’s atheist is fixated on the big bang theory and other such mechanical aspects of existence, and ignoring the great mystery that still infuses all of observed reality. And he has a point.


But my point is that today’s atheists are new-comers to the party. Many of them are refugees from extreme fundamentalist families, often within extreme fundamentalist communities, where the madness of unquestioned faith and spurious, oddball dogmas made their childhoods into living hells of unreason and the suppression of feelings and ideas. They have my sympathies, and I welcome them to their new-found freedom to think for themselves.

However, with popularity comes dilution. When Christianity was new, you had to be pretty serious about your convictions—being fed to the lions is not a healthy habit. Then, in the intervening centuries, Christianity became popular enough to foster power, carnage, and corruption. Atheism has enjoyed the same refinement for centuries—it was not for the faint of heart or the only-partially committed. Neither was it a likely end for the uneducated—you have to be pretty comfortable with your brain to have the confidence to question God.


So we atheists were quite a cozy group up until this new century. The idea of activism was laughable—we represented such a small group that we were lucky not to be hunted down by the majority. This is no longer the case. The idea of atheism has become more commonplace and the number of those who self-identify as atheist has exploded. And we old-style atheists, due to the nature of atheism, are not hierarchical—we are not indoctrinating our ‘new converts’. For my part, I’m a little taken aback by the partisan populism such broadening of the field has incurred.

Part of the reason for my misgivings is that atheism doesn’t really lend itself to politics—it is a negative more than a positive position. It is an acceptance of the fact that, while the universe is an infinite mystery, humanity’s just wanting to understand it doesn’t mean we do—or even that we can. And the fellow trying to make the case for Purpose is doing something that it is all too easy for atheists to do—to try an end-run around the limits of human understanding by claiming that ‘human understanding’ has a priori value.


Sure, we have an innate sense of purpose. But we also have an innate sense of self-preservation and an innate sense of continuing the species. These are evolutionary traits necessary to the survival of the species. And what more important evolutionary step can a species that has developed consciousness take than an innate sense of purpose? Once our brains began to analyze and to question, would we not require a sense of purpose to bolster our self-preservation instincts? I see no reason to assume that a sense of purpose is any less a product of evolution than our other instincts.

It is even possible that such an instinct, necessary in an animal with consciousness, may have been the spark for all religions, from the prehistoric to the present. And even if I’m wrong about it being instinctual, I have never been willing to attach absolute value to any natural-seeming notions of the human brain. Who would? So many concepts throughout history, that once seemed like bedrock reasoning, have proved in time to be convenient fictions—the divine right of kings, the flatness of the Earth, the inferiority of women, the evil of homosexuality. There are even ‘intellectuals’ who have rationalized the justness of slavery, the demonization of left-handedness, or the perpetuation of the death penalty. So-called scientists ‘prove’ things like racial inferiority, ‘cures’ for gayness, or creationism.


People are stupid. Not just some people—all people. We have limited senses. We have only the vaguest understanding of physics and chemistry. We have a tendency to infuse reason with wishful thinking. We react emotionally to scientific facts and we use ‘faith’ to give the legitimacy of fact to our anthropomorphic dreams of cosmology and creation. So, when someone claims that a shared trait of humanity, like a sense of purpose, must have some meaning, I can only feel pity for their ingenuous loyalty to the idea of human reason—an oxymoron if ever there was one.

Former VP Al Gore wasted a good title on his climate-change documentary—if there was ever an ‘inconvenient truth’, it is atheism. And that is my concern over this influx of new, anti-religious converts—they have not so much accepted the ignorance of man as they have rejected the ‘revealed truth’ of religion. That is, unfortunately, only half the journey. The atheism that they will produce in years to come will bear striking resemblances to the religions these people have rejected—and the partisanship they bring to the party will facilitate the transformation of atheism into a religion-like structure, with its attendant assumption of the wisdom of humanity. Dogmas will arise that will make fundamentalism seem tame.

Bear2007May5 005

In time, atheism will deform itself so greatly that it will rival the enormous gulf between the teachings of Christ and the workings of the Catholic Church. It will go from a backwater for those of us who absent ourselves from intellectual pride, to a fulcrum of power for its political leaders. And if humanity’s past is anything to go by, atheism will eventually create dogmas of its own, easily the equal of any snake-dancing, tongues-speaking cult. When the day comes that the atheist majority begins to persecute people of faith, they will call it Progress. Yeah, right.