Categories
General

Mindlessness

Slow.  Take a minute.  Think about it first.  Look before you leap.  The early bird gets the worm.  Here’s your worm.

“commodifying the obvious”

One in four people are stupid enough to buy this crap.

gratefulness reminders

meditation, yoga, exercise, walking

cluttered by distractions, bad feelings, and the consciousness of bad taste.

muckmindfulness

Essential point: teaching a corporate raider to take 12 minutes at lunch time to meditate and 12 seconds three or four times a day to be grateful for something does not change the fact that he is working 12-hour-days and screwing elderly people out of their pensions.

Mindfulness removes the religious framework of Buddhism, which is, make the world a better place.

Categories
General

Panda Patent

All of the pandas in the world are owned by China.

This is a fact.  They all come from China and China will not allow anyone to take one of their pandas anywhere without their permission.

This is not, on the face of it, unreasonable.  Pandas are an endangered species and it is China’s responsibility to ensure that we have a sustainable population somewhere.   (Actually it is a “conservation reliant vulnerable species”, meaning, not quite endangered but not quite safe.)  It is very difficult to get pandas to mate in captivity.  They’ve even tried the panda version of viagra.  In the wild, the female panda will often have two cubs of which she will select one to live.   Let’s see that one in Disney.  They are also working on methods of artificial insemination, and have just had their first success.

According to Wikipedia:  “By 1984, however, pandas were no longer given as gifts. Instead, the PRC began to offer pandas to other nations only on 10-year loans, under terms including a fee of up to US $1,000,000 per year and a provision that any cubs born during the loan are the property of the PRC.”

Why are any cubs born to these pandas the “property” of the People’s Republic of China?  Because if you don’t agree to those terms, you don’t get the pandas.  Since when does ownership of a living creature entitle one to claim future progeny?  Since other nations agreed to these obscene terms because they just couldn’t bear to be without the adorable panda in their zoo collections.

 

 

 

Categories
Film General Politics

Trevor Noah – the Blather Monster

Jon Stewart, while he was hosting “The Daily Show”, never forgot one thing– he was a comedian, not a journalist.  His version of the Daily Show consisted of his presentation of amusing contradictions in the political life of the United States, and, occasionally, the world.  Parody and satire.  The most engaging part of his shtick was his ability to play the naif who hadn’t realized what this or that politician was up until he was exposed to the revealing side comment or earlier statement on video or credible facts or dick pictures.

Trevor Noah is not a journalist.   He is not a reporter.  He is not an editor.  He has no credentials aside from his status as a stand-up comedian.   But “The Daily Show” has evolved into something it was not: smart-ass political rants.  He often sounds like a college sophomore out drinking with some friends.  “Can you believe he said that?  What a moron!”  Then he gives us his editorials– a serious lecture about what Trump should be doing instead, and then coaxes his captive studio audience to roar their agreement.

It all tastes a little bitter after an election in which it became clear that Noah is deaf to what drives public opinion and the electoral college.

Stewart stayed a comedian– a famous moment was when he appeared on a talk show on Fox to discuss the state of politics in the U.S. and the host accused him of mocking serious political and social issues and Stewart responded– yes, but I am a comedian.  You are journalists.  You have a different responsibility.

Noah has positioned himself as a journalist but without the background, training, experience, or accountability we should demand from all journalists.  The definition of what he does is a simple expression: blow-hard.

Worse than that– he is tiresome.  It became depressing to tune into this show night after night to hear the same repetitious rant about Trump, every single night, after night, after night, after night.   The ratings are down, not just because Jon Stewart is no longer there: but because Trevor Noah has become tedious and unfunny.

 

[whohit]Trevor Noah is not a Journalist[/whohit]

Categories
General Politics

Terrorism Response Paradox

Some reporting on the spurious “Toronto 18” terrorist cell makes the same mistake I believe most people make when it comes to understanding the motivations for a terror attack.  Rosie DiManno, for example, in the Toronto Star, asserts that the goal of the Toronto 18 Cell was to alter Canadian policy on the war in Afghanistan and free prisoners of war.

The members of the cell– goaded into making stupid comments by paid informant Mubin Shaikh–  served the interests of the government and police very well: they were crowing about how they stopped a deadly terrorist cell, even if the only actions these keystone jihadists ever took were at the direction of Mubin Shaikh (who conveniently forgot to record certain conversations).

But the goal of terrorism is not to win specific political objectives.  The terrorists know they are a minority and can never win a battle in direct confrontation with the powerful state they seek to overthrow.  That is why they are guerrillas, and not an army.  It is to provoke the government into over-reacting, thus provoking moderate sympathizers into joining, so the movement can win more recruits, until it is strong enough to win a direct confrontation.

Can it work?  What do you think the result of the Iraq invasion was, in terms of the size and scale and membership of ISIS?  Yes, it worked very well indeed.  Exactly according to the cookbook.  Well, even better: it did more for ISIS membership than Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi could have dreamed.

So every time there is a terror attack, what do the Western Nations do?  Exactly what the terrorists want them to do.  Over-react.  Scream headlines.  Mass hysteria.  A frantic urge to strike back, as hard and forcefully as possible.  Let’s get out there right now and help them recruit as many new adherents as possible.

Not everyone is on board with the stupid response.  I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of people who seem to understand this and express the intention of carrying on with their lives without fear or suspicion,  because they believe that they should, not only because it’s the best way to live, but because it may well be the most effective response to terrorism.  It diminishes their power.  It makes them look weak and ineffective.  It makes us look strong and confident.

[whohit]Terrorism Response Paradox[/whohit]

Categories
General Politics

The Soiled American Church

After tapes were released showing Trump discussing women he’d like to assault in the most disparaging and vulgar terms with a TV host, you might have expected that evangelical Christians would have bailed on him in droves.

If there was anything at all sincere in evangelical Christianity; it it actually meant anything to anyone in America; if there had been an ounce of integrity in the leadership of those denominations, Hillary Clinton would be your president today.

This is not a quaint little eccentricity.  This is the heart and soul of what America represents to the world as a Biblical Faith, the same faith that challenges atheism and materialism and evolution and promiscuity and gay marriage and, we are to understand, health care and social security–  speaking with its forked tongue: forget everything we told you about morality and ethics: Donald Trump is Jesus’ choice for president.

Pat Robertson declared that he could “see” Donald Trump sitting on a throne in heaven, at the right side of the Creator.  And he was not threatening to strangle him to send him there.

One could justly argue that religion in America is dead, and America is the most irreligious nation on earth.  You simply cannot argue that you represent true spirituality when you vote for the most un-Christ-like candidate ever.  When you endorse views that are antithetical to everything you have ever preached to everyone about your religion.

We are talking about their own standards here– their expressed disgust for American sexual morality and the “character” of politicians.  It all means nothing.  The next time you hear an American evangelical Christian talk about “values” and “morals” and “faith”, you now know that it means nothing more than a passion for cutting taxes on the rich and photo-ops for vulgar, grasping little patriarchs in the Oval Office.

[whohit]Evangelical Bankruptcy[/whohit]

Categories
General Justice Politics

Pro Life: Neil Gorsuch

Progressives who find most conservative politics regressive, ignorant, or just plain stupid, regularly hear from more enlightened conservatives or moderates that so-and-so or such-and-such is NOT a typical conservative.  Oh no, he is intelligent and fair and thoughtful.  He’s not a racist at all.  He doesn’t even sound like Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly.

How often were we not told that Paul Ryan was one of those exceptions: the “brains” behind the Republican Party who, after 7 years in opposition, claimed to have a brilliant replacement plan for Obamacare that would be both cheaper and better.  Then we saw how singularly unimpressive he was.  He had nothing.   He had the same old, same old, same old: tax cuts for the rich.  The free market, which has never reduced medical costs before, would suddenly, miraculously, reduce medical costs. And, snake oil salesman that he is, he assured us that the tax cuts would generate so much economic growth that the increased tax revenue would more than make up the difference.

We hear the same delusions about Neil Gorsuch, the Republican nominee to the Supreme Court.  He is not like Thomas, who hasn’t said a word, hasn’t had a question, hasn’t even made a joke in 20 years.  Oh no.  And he is not as corrosive as Scalia, no, no, no, who ridiculed the very idea that old white men of the 18th century shouldn’t have the final word on justice in the 21st. Gorsuch, we are told,  is brilliant.  Even some liberals — so we’ve heard– think he has a great legal mind.

Well, Mr. Gorsuch has written a book.  Yes indeedy.  It is a book on whether or not the government should allow individuals to receive assistance in committing suicide. Now, when Mr. Gorsuch testified before Congress as to his qualifications for the Supreme Court, he made it very clear that he was neutral and objective, when it came to political issues, and considered every legal case on its merits alone.  That’s why you have no right to assume he would automatically be against the rights of an individual to assisted death just because he appears to be every ounce the conservative he claims not to be.  No right at all.

Oh, of course he is against it.  He is a Republican who claims to be a Christian: he is in favor of death, generally, but not when you choose it for yourself.  And not when it is in your body.  And not when it’s purpose is to end intolerable suffering.

If you think it is a little harsh to label him as “in favor of death”, you would need to convince me that he is not in favor of capital punishment, or the death penalty, or a more powerful military, or bigger bombs, or war against nations that have the impertinence to deny us their oil wealth. He does give a nod to a nominal-consistency on the issue: Once we open the door to excusing or justifying the intentional taking of life as ‘necessary,’ we introduce the real possibility that the lives of some persons (very possibly the weakest and most vulnerable among us) may be deemed less ‘valuable,’ and receive less protection from the law, than others,” Well, there you go.  Surprise!  He really is pro-life.  Or is he?

“Introduce the real possibility”– do you understand how weak an argument that is?  He is saying I can’t find a real argument against the right of an individual to make his own decision about when to terminate his own life in the face of intolerable suffering and incapacitation, so I argue that something else that might come afterwards should be illegal, therefore, physician assisted suicide should be illegal.  If people are allowed to drive 50 miles an hour, they might later drive 100 miles per hour, so driving 50 must be prohibited.

I used to be perplexed, somewhat, by conservatives and their “pro-life” values.  Most of them are not “pro-life” by any stretch of the imagination, in any sense of the meaning of “pro” and “life”.  I’ve never understood why they would call themselves pro-life.  It’s like McDonalds declaring that they are in favor healthy diets and good nutrition.  Well, there you go: they offer salads.  A chaser for your Big Mac.

In a later comment, Gorsuch tries to cover his tracks.  He says that taking a human life by a “private” individual is morally wrong.   So he slipped up in the early passage.  He meant to say that life was sacred, “other than– of course– if my government wants to kill a few people in order to take their oil, which I, as a patriotic citizen joyfully embrace”.

What is a reasonable exception?  When your government needs to give the oil companies access to more oil?  When your government needs an airfield to supply the air force that helps with the war against the government that doesn’t want to give access to their oil to our oil companies?  When we need somebody to attack because our citizens are frightened and angry that some terrorists have attacked our country and those terrorists are citizens of a nation we can’t attack because they voluntarily sell us their oil so we have to attack some other nation that had nothing to do with the attack but whom we hate anyways? When families of the victim of a terrible crime just can’t sleep at night until they see the perpetrator– or someone who may or may not have been a perpetrator but didn’t have a good lawyer–  killed, to make things even? When a man has killed a police officer, but only if he is black or poor and can’t afford a good lawyer who knows how to plea bargain and negotiate and hire private detectives to cast aspersions on the character of the witnesses or the provenance of the bullets or whether or not someone was merely standing his ground?

More on whoever.

[whohit]Neil Gorsuch[/whohit]