The Comedy of Being: Martin Heidegger

Martin Heidegger (“Being and Time”) often reads like a parody of philosophy.   The first 35 pages are replete with repetitive (in my opinion) insistences that before you can analyze reality in any sense you must apprehend the being-ness of being there in the radical sense of existential being, which everybody else has failed to do.

I consider the idea that Heidegger may be a massive fraud.  I think it’s a possibility.  He is very, very esteemed in the world of cool philosophy geeks, but it is quite possible that they are entranced by Heidegger’s incomprehensibility being confused for “mystique”, combined with the language that is almost poetically inane.  “The being of being is the beingness of not-being authentically in a non-thematic ontological context that cannot be known.”  Ok.  I made that up– but it’s close.

It is quite possible that he has hit upon something that everybody already knows in a certain valid sense and has taken to describing it as if it is hidden from everyone else and must be revealed to them.  Don’t you see that we are all breathing?!  We’re all sucking air in and out of our lungs!  This has profound implications for all of life.  Read him long enough and you begin to think about your breathing.  Maybe you try breathing differently.  Two exhales for every inhale.  Try breathing through one nostril at a time.  What if I stop breathing?  By golly, he’s right: breathing is incredibly important.  We all need to think about breathing.

He is his own best argument for Wittgenstein’s argument that the world is comprised entirely of facts.  What we believe to be reality is always and only a construct of the language we use to express our experience of it.   How does Heidegger know that everyone else does not know what he knows about being?  He offers no explanation.  He only knows the language that others have used to describe time and existence and phenomena but he really has no explanation of how he can possibly know that the way this language is used is inadequate to explain the authentic meaning of being.

He seems at times to assume we have a reason for believing there are others in the world, yet I have not seen the slightest discussion of the senses through which we experience others, and the world itself.  He seems to insist that we cannot really know if they have a real existence outside of our imagination, just as he doesn’t seem to be concerned about how time can be explained if we only barely understand the meaning of our own “being there” or Dasein.   Is time linear?  Is time atomic?  Is time continuous?  I’m at page 113.  I’ll let you know if I find an answer.

According to Heidegger, Western Philosophy has it all wrong because it has skipped the most essential truth which is that “being” itself, or “being there”,  or “Dasein”, is the proper subject of philosophy and has been almost entirely ignored, at least, since the Greeks.  He is going to rescue us from this terrible omission.  Get out of your car, burn your records and books, change your diet and haircut: we have  no way to experience the world.  Being there.

Let’s get this out of the way right from the start: Heidegger believes that Western Philosophy has forgotten the essential character of “Dasein” but what it is it has forgotten, he can’t seem to remember.

There it is.  I summed up Heidegger that way at Trinity Christian College 45 years ago and I stand by it.

What prompted this reflection is my reckless urge to revisit “Being and Time” now that I have experienced a lot more of both.  I am in my 60’s and haven’t looked at this book since I was in a philosophy course taught by Dr. John Roose at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois, back in 1973.  It is the only course I ever took anywhere which I did not complete, and for which I received an “F”.   It wasn’t the difficulty:  “Contemporary Philosophy” taught by Dr. Vrieze was far more challenging– and satisfying– and of course I did well in it.  I still remember a considerable chunk of that course, on Paul Feyerabend, Imre Lakatos, Karl Popper, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and others.  Feyerabend was the first philosopher I read that convinced me that it actually was possible for 2 x 2 to not equal 4.  And Karl Popper’s discussions of paradigms is still very useful to me.

But here’s a line from Martin Heidegger that I think you might find as amusing as I do (from “Being and Time”, translated by Joan Stambaugh, page 35):

Because phenomenon in the phenomenological understanding is always just what constitutes being, and furthermore because being is always the being of beings , we must first of all bring beings themselves forward in the right way, if we are to have any prospect of exposing being.

In regard to Kant, one question that remains: if we can never know a thing in itself– only our empirical experience of that object– does it matter?  If we can never know the thing in itself, then, really, does it even exist?    And so if Heidegger insists that we don’t apprehend Dasein– being itself– does it even exist?  More critically, does it matter?  Heidegger seems to believe that we can encounter Dasein if we cast off our archaic beliefs.  This makes him a superman, since he is the only one who knows about Dasein and he is here to enlighten us.  (In fairness, he does credit some other philosophers– even Kant– with having a diminished idea of Dasein).  But again, given his explanations of how we are ignorant of the decisive importance of Dasein, how can he possibly know anything about others’ experience of it?

All this so far and I haven’t even mentioned that Heidegger was a Nazi.



The Captive Psychiatrist

The great challenge of American film and literature is this:  the protagonist must disclose powerful personal stories of past abuse or crushing disappointments or betrayals to win the audience’s sympathy (and excuse his addictions, infidelities, and other bad behavior) but telling all this to the object of his or her affections would come off as self-pitying.  The only plausible venue for this type of disclosure is the therapist’s couch.  But in the popular imagination, only a weak effeminate pussy would voluntarily become so vulnerable as to disclose such details, so it must be dramatized as coerced.  Somehow, we must create a dramatic situation in which the protagonist can simultaneously disclose his vulnerabilities and mock the inquisitorial mind.

Here’s the problem, and it’s not a small one:  no psychiatrist or psychologist worth his salt would waste a minute of time on a patient that doesn’t want to cooperate.  It is a bedrock principle of psychotherapy that you can’t provide therapy to someone against his will.

And what therapist would even want to try?

But what if it’s a condition of probation, or shared custody of the children, or a job?  The problem does not change.   If a patient behaved the way Will Hunting behaves in “Good Will Hunting”, the therapist would almost certainly wish him luck in future endeavors and tell him he has willfully thrown away his probation or the job or the custody arrangement or what have you.

And so we have “A Clockwork Orange”, “Good Will Hunting” and “Shawshank Redemption” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Gangs of New York”, “Antwone Fisher”, and perhaps the worst of all, “Reign Over Me” (in which Liv Tyler played the psychiatrist– seriously) and so on.   It’s become an extremely tiresome trope, a sure indicator that a film writer has run out of ideas or is concerned that his audience is so stupid they won’t get the point of the story.

(An additional trope in many of these films is the therapist who cares so much that he or she chases down the reluctant patient and begs them to receive therapy.  Seriously.  The audience is invited to project themselves into a character so lovable that professional psychiatrist and psychologist will abandon personal schedules and work obligations in order to track them down and drag them into their healing arms.)

“The Sopranos” toys with the issue and frequently straddles the line.  Tony has a real problem: panic attacks.  He stops seeing Dr. Melfi for a while but the panic attacks resume.  He tries a different psychiatrist, who proves ineffectual.  He returns to Dr. Melfi on just barely believable terms, though he frequently blurts out something like, “I’ve had enough of this crap”.  The audience projects itself into a character who thinks he’s smarter than a psychiatrist.

What’s really going on in these scenes is the writer is trying to show that he is smarter than a psychologist or psychiatrist.

The most contemptible examples of this are those mildly enlightened films that pretend to have a real theme, an idea, an enlightened perspective on something, like “Reign Over Me” and “Good Will Hunting”.   “Good Will Hunting” lays the groundwork for the millions of Trump followers who are convinced that those educated elites are really no smarter than the average janitor (played by the charismatic Matt Damon).  But it would not be an asset to the character to have Will admit to how much harm he has suffered from his traumatic upbringing unless he is compelled to admit it; thus, the kludge plot mechanism of having his probation depend on attending therapy sessions with the utterly charming and sexy Robin Williams– who, nevertheless, threatens to kill him at their first session after Will makes light of Dr. Maguire’s wife.  (And the probation?  Another tired trope: Will was involved in a gang fight.  Because he is a bad boy?  Oh no– one of the gang members used to abuse Will when he was a child.  Hollywood loves bad boys but not if they’re really bad, just as they love titillation, but not real, honest sex.)

I used to work in a children’s mental health centre.  I can tell you that almost none of the psychiatrists or psychologists in these films approach believability.  Dr. Melfi in “The Sopranos” is particularly inept.  Now, I’m not saying that psychiatrists or psychologists can actually be smart and effective.  But they do have extensive training and they will have some idea of how they are going to approach the task at hand, even if their approach is contrived or transparent or just plain ridiculous.   Dr. Maguire in “Good Will Hunting” is supposed to win our respect by showing how tough he is when Will mocks his (deceased, unknown to Will) wife.

It’s not admirable: it’s downright stupid.




The Uncanny Absurdity of the Uncanny Valley

The problem with programming a machine to feel for others is, of course, that the machine might start to develop other feelings, ones unproductive to her work.  But Klara’s evolving emotions are crucial to our understanding of the novel as a technology of interiority.  The reader experiences Klara’s care for Josie through Klara’s empathetic narration, in which her desire to see Josie flourish and grow fails to completely suppress Klara’s desires.   [From a review by Jane Hu in the New York Review of Books.  2021-11-04]

I am completely baffled that a Nobel Prize winning author, Kazuo Ishiguro, would be responsible for such rubbish, or that a reviewer in the New York Review of Books would countenance such an observation.

I thought, perhaps Klara is a biological creation, as the replicants in “Blade Runner” may be (it’s not completely clear that they are).   When Roy Batty demands “more life”, he is expressing a desire, a want, an aspiration, which no machine can ever have.  That might be intriguing, but, of course, that essentially makes an argument for slavery.

But no: Klara is a robot.  She is at times relegated to a closet.  In the end, when Josie goes off to college, she is sent to a dump.

It appears that Ishiguro wants it both ways, in which case, he has failed as a novelist (I haven’t read the book– so I’ll come back to that when I do).  If, inevitably, humans become aware (as they are in the book) of the fact that robots have feelings, they won’t, presumably, leave them in the closet.  I leave open one possibility: Ishiguro has imagined a new  kind of relationship that the humans experience with their robots that blurs the distinction between mechanical and emotional.  But that does not seem likely given that the characters in “Klara and the Sun” sincerely believe that Klara does have feelings and treat her accordingly.  (It is perceived as an act of kindness when one of Josie’s friends prevents another of her friends from tossing Klara into the air to see if she can land on her feet.)  On the other hand, they put her in the closet.  Which is it?

Yes, many smart people really believe that it is possible for a robot to have feelings.  The theoretical framework for this concept rests on the perverse idea that human consciousness is formed by a quasi-mechanical process that takes place in dense particles.  If you have enough dense particles, eventually a “consciousness” can develop.  This fundamental to the belief in AI.

AI, my friends, is a myth.  Come back to me in 20 or 50 years and you will see I am right.

I have argued that this process cannot possibly produce a being with an aspiration or desire or emotion or any other biological characteristic.  Where does it come from?  How can you add 1 plus 1 and get 5?  There is no component of feeling or consciousness in any of the raw elements of a machine.  No matter how many 1’s and 0’s are in a computer brain, they cannot produce a 2: only a sequence of 1’s and 0’s.   Biological cells are not mechanical: they aspire to eat, to consume, to fuck, to absorb, to kill.   A robot only ever does what it is programmed to do“.  Klara can never be sad about losing her relationship to Josie because she could never have been glad to have it in the first place, and Ishiguro’s concept is absurd and Jane Hu’s review is a hollow, empty shell of misconceived rubble.

In “Never Let Me Go” the Klara’s are biological creations who exist only to give up their organs to other humans.  It’s a strange, alien concept (to us at the moment, in the civilized part of the “civilized” part of the world) which he made believable and sad.  I have no problem believing that such a circumstance could, at least theoretically, exist.

There is no way, theoretical or otherwise, a robot with feelings will ever exist.  Whatever we get– and I’m sure we’ll get it, given our surrender to every commercialization of every device ever– will be something mimics feelings which many stupid people will believe are just as real as their own.

Fuck them.  This is a dangerous course of intellectual development which, if it happens, will have dire consequences.


The Virus Virus

This article in the Daily Mail in Britain is contrarian and provocative and interesting.

I’m not sure I agree with Mr. Hitchens, but I agree with part of his sentiment: there is, without a doubt, a portion of public policy that is over-reaction.  It is almost inevitable, just as it was after 9/11.  The dynamic is inescapable: nobody ever got re-elected by declaring that things are moderately bad but not disastrous and we should all stay cool and calm and take some reasonable measures but not get carried away.  No, no– much better to say, “Extreme Situations call for Extreme Measures!”.  Let’s make it an acronym we can glibly roll off our tongues:  ESCEM.   Do you want to be responsible for any deaths that are the result of your lax prescriptions?  I see.  Then you will vote for my Patriot Act or my FISA courts or quarantine in place or whatever.  You will consent to torture and arbitrary imprisonment.  You will not vote me out of office because I continue to enable $300 million a year expenditures on a prison in Guantanamo that holds 34 prisoners without warrant or trial or habeas corpus.

This is something Mr. Trump has learned, as you can diagram from his earlier comments to his more recent dire warnings.  Yes, they did some polling, and they found out that most voters want the government to be worried.  Conventional political wisdom is that they will forgive over-reaction, but never indifference.

Someone on the news the other day said that governments can’t really go wrong in over-reacting.  You mean, like Iraq?  HUAC?  Viet Nam?

One thing that is verifiable:  the number of deaths attributed to Covid-19 includes a substantial number of people with other life-threatening conditions.  So we have a phenomenon that should not be unknown to critics of #metoo.  If an individual has emotional or psychological problems and anxiety and depression and was not sexually abused, then their dysfunction is caused by emotional or psychological problems and anxiety and depression.  But if they have emotional or psychological problems and anxiety and depression and were ever sexually abused, then their dysfunction is always caused by sexual abuse.  There is no other cause.

Obviously, this can’t be true, but it is widely and deeply believed.

In the same way, a certain portion — perhaps a large portion– of any deaths of any individual with Covid-19 will be attributed to Covid-19 even if the patient, as is likely, had other serious health conditions.  To this day, the number of deaths attributed to SARS includes elderly victims who were already near death and likely to have died soon anyway.

If I am right you are in for a mild surprise: the number of cases will diminish before you expect them too, and the number of deaths will not meet the most dire forecasts.  There are a lot of idiots saying this but not everything an idiot says is untrue.

The Covid-19 pandemic can only be prevented from resurging when at least half the world’s population has become immune to the new virus. And that can happen in only one of two ways: After enough people have been infected and have recovered, or have been inoculated with a vaccine.  N.Y.Times





Post PTSD Syndrome

“In many cases, more deliberate attempts to process the trauma – for example, trying to think it through or talk it through with friends and family – were actually associated with worse PTSD. The children who didn’t recover well were those that reported spending a lot of time trying to make sense of their trauma. While some efforts to make sense of trauma might make sense, it seems that it is also possible for children to get ‘stuck’ and spend too long focusing on what happened and why.


No, it’s not.  Researchers have hit upon the amazing observation that when well-meaning therapists, parents, teachers, and others make obsessive efforts to treat children for conditions that do not exist but which are projected onto them actually make things worse.  “You’re in shock.”  “No, I’m fine.”  “You’re in denial.”  “No, I’m just fine.”  “Oh, now you’re repressing it.  You need to get it out or you will have symptoms.”   “I don’t have any symptoms.”  “You pathetic human being: you won’t even deal with your issues.”  “Well, maybe I am having a few symptoms.”

Did you know that many high schools where there has been a shooting actually require students to be “treated” by a therapist in order to “process” their trauma?  This is justified with the pathetic medical analogy argument: would you allow a person who comes into a hospital with a broken leg to leave without getting a cast?   No, but your hospital will have him leave with a broken arm, a fractured pelvis, and a broken leg.  If he came to the hospital with a depression, he would probably leave with anxiety, PTSD, BPD, and an addiction.  And depression.  And medications, some of which treat the side effects of other medications.


Have you ever heard of “grief counsellor”, which is my nominee for the stupidest phrase ever coined in the last fifty years?


The Meaning of Facts

In his highly entertaining book, The Seven Types of Atheism, released in October in the U.S., philosopher John Gray puts it this way: “Religion is an attempt to find meaning in events, not a theory that tries to explain the universe.” It exists because we humans are the only species, so far as we can know, who have evolved to know explicitly that, one day in the future, we will die. And this existential fact requires some way of reconciling us to it while we are alive.   Andrew Sullivan in The Intelligencer.

The obvious question is, how can an event be meaningful if you don’t believe there is any meaning to all events– to the random conglomeration of events and things and ideas make up the universe?  If you can’t explain the universe, what meaning could an individual event have?  Other than, as some agnostics would have it, part of a life that is no less wonderful and amazing because it is limited to our lived experiences?

If you see an ant crawling along a box car, you could say that it is trying to get to a certain location.  Does that matter if the boxcar is going somewhere else?  Is the ant’s purposeful journey meaningful, if he can never possibly get back to his nest, or the food he is looking for?

Conversely, if an event is meaningful because it is part of a narrative of your relationship with an almighty creator, then how can you not draw conclusions about the nature of the universe from the meaning that you give your life?


Biological Annihilation

This sneaky little article in the New York Times seem to come out of nowhere– as the authors observed.  No one’s paying attention.  We better start.

It begins with observable detail.  If you are old enough, you will remember the annoying task of cleaning bugs off the windshield of your car after a drive in the country.  I remember it.  I remember how hard it was to get those messy little splatters off the glass, even if you used Windex or windshield washer.  You’d always had to take a second run at it to get the most persistent little blotches.

If you rode motorcycles, like I did for a time, you knew the experience of getting bugs into your eyes and mouth while racing along in the countryside.  Constantly.  There was no escape.

It turns out that we might be headed for a big, big problem.  Where are the bugs?

I look forward to the pesticide industry– which is surely studing the brilliant success of the oil (carbon) industry in sewing doubt about climate change — starting a campaign to try to convince people that 1) there are really more bugs than ever before,  2) pesticides do not harm bugs (except when they do, as advertised, and 3) suburban home-owners use more pesticides than farmers.  After a few years, and after these theories have been debunked, the arguments will become:  1) yes, there are fewer bugs, but the bats are to blame and 2) what’s the problem?  Do you like bugs?  3) pesticides actually eliminate predators of bugs.

A few years later and the strategy becomes, 1) all right, so we are causing the bugs to die, but you can’t sacrifice good farm jobs just to save a mosquito or two.   2)  it’s too late to do anything anyway.  3) don’t worry– by the time we die because the food chain is disrupted by the annihilation of insects, we’ll already have been killed by global warming.

At not point will anyone in the pesticide or farming industries admit that they were wrong.





Re. Noah’s Ark:

There 400,000 species of beetles
12,000 types of ants
20,000 of bees

The Polarities

The heart of the gulf between political parties and constituencies in the U.S. is wonderfully rendered by this beauty, a conflict between Big Sugar and People Who Care About the Health of Your Children, usually embodied in evil incarnate: the government.

Big Sugar, deeply aware of what happened to Big Tobacco, are cleverly trying to pre-empt any attempts by progressives to raise the taxes on sugary drinks.

Let’s step back for a moment.  Several big corporations, represented by associations with anodyne titles, produce a product, sugary drinks (pop and juices) that are scientifically proven to cause major health problems to their consumers, namely, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.   The health care system will eventually have to provide expensive care for a predictable percentage of these consumers as a result of their consumption of these products.  There is no confusion here, no “alternative facts”: the over-consumption of sugary drinks leads to tooth decay, obesity,  heart disease, and diabetes, for a large number of people.  Big Sugar does not contribute one penny towards the medical care that will eventually be required by this population of consumers.  You and I will pay that cost, through our taxes and increased premiums for health insurance.  The health care required by an obese 30-year-old with diabetes is part of the real cost of the product.

You and I are subsidizing the sugar industry.   They don’t subsidize you.   The leaders of this industry pay themselves lavishly and their investors reliably.  There is good money to be made in selling poison.

They don’t need our additional help: they already receive massive government handouts aimed at the corn industry which provides the basic ingredients of these products.  The government does not provide anything like this subsidy to the growers of broccoli or kale or spinach or carrots or anything else that might be nutritious: there is not nearly as much profit at stake for shareholders and investors in those crops.  Vegetable growers need to study the lobbying skills of the Sugary Drinks Industry: the rewards can be monstrous.

So your government not only tolerates the production and sale of products that negatively affect your health: they actually sponsor them.  The same way the Trump Administration is now actually subsidizing polluting industries like coal mining and taking away subsidies from clean energy like wind and solar.

So Big Sugar has sponsored several ballot initiatives presented as legislation that will prevent city governments from adding taxes to any groceries purchased within the state.  They advertise these initiatives with anodyne phrases about stopping out-of-control governments from taxing poor people and adding to their grocery bills and inhibiting the pursuit of happiness and joy and pleasure.  This clever ruse appears to be working in some states.  When asked, voters are enthusiastic: stop the tax.  When it is explained that the soft drink makers are sponsoring the bill, they are surprised.  They didn’t know.  The soft drink makers are spending millions on advertising; their opponents have much, much less money.

The thing is, no city is contemplating adding taxes to groceries.  Just to soft drinks.  Like Philadelphia, which has seen a 40% decrease in consumption since they imposed a tax on sugary drinks, and Berkeley.

Conservatives believe in freedom.  Freedom!  That means tearing up the wilderness with your ATV, while shooting at aluminum beer cans with an A-15 semi-automatic rifle, drinking your Coca Cola and eating more fries, and being bankrupted when you finally do come down with diabetes or wipe out on your ATV or shoot yourself in the foot because you can’t afford health insurance.

Is this a caricature?  Some people deserve a caricature.  Like the Texas pastor who disbanded a football team because a couple of black players took a knee during the anthem.   Because he believes it disrespects the valiant warriors who gave their lives in Viet Nam because Lyndon Johnson couldn’t bring himself to admit that he had failed.   The Texas Pastor was absolutely well-meaning, even kind; he had had the black players overnight in his house.  One of them was a good friend of his son’s.  He was still ridiculously wrong.  Ridiculous because there is nothing inherently disrespectful about taking a knee during the anthem, and, arguably, it is more respectful of the anthem and the flag than anything those attentive white people standing up and looking at their smart phones have in them.

The Democrats, and progressives, think it might be wiser to discourage excessive consumption of sugary drinks, reduce the rate of diabetes and obesity, and encourage people to get more exercise and eat healthier foods.  They think it might be wise for everyone to have health insurance.

But I don’t want the government telling me what to do!

Well, it’s pretty hard to argue with that.  Nobody likes being told what to do.   But government eventually got around to fighting Big Tobacco (though they largely sold out in the end, accepting a lot of money in exchange for not banning it altogether) and most people now accept the legislation that restricted their ability to enjoy tobacco products where-ever and whenever they pleased.

Government still largely restricts–severely– the consumption of marijuana, which, arguably, does less harm than Coca Cola because most people will not use it, and most users will not smoke more than a few joints a week.

The Government doesn’t allow builders to put asbestos in houses anymore.  Cars have to meet minimum safety requirements, as do cribs and pajamas.    A lot of lives are better because of government “telling you what to do”.

Eventually, enough people might come around to accepting the idea that sugary drinks should cost more to help cover the cost of the damage they do to public health.  In the meantime, progressive leaders will continue to be the target of ridicule and scorn by Republicans.  The “nanny” state.  Extremists.  Communists!  The “elites”.  (I don’t know what you call multi-billionaire stockholders and investors, if not “elites”).

Of course, sometimes it means that corporations get to tell you what to do instead.  Like pay 150% interest on “pay-day” loans, or $13,000 for a few stitches, or allow sugary cereals, candy and soft drinks to be marketed directly to your children on Saturday mornings and during Christmas movies.  Movies, like “A Christmas Carol”, about a heartless capitalist who inflicts misery on everyone he knows in order to increase his personal wealth.

America now has a serious problem with polarization of the electorate, meaning that the middle ground of acceptable political compromise is no longer available.  If I win, you lose, and vice versa.  And it’s not the fault of both sides.  To blame both sides would be to accept a false equivalency.  Just because some Democrats are just as polarizing as most Republicans does not make them the same.  Obama clearly offered to work with the Republicans in Congress; the Republicans clearly decided that, even if it hurt the nation, they would not cooperate with anything Obama wanted to do.  They placed their own political interest ahead of the country’s.

Two sides finding each other incomprehensible to each other, like those who believe that “Bohemian Rhapsody” is the greatest pop song every recorded, and those who, like me, find it absolute rubbish.

I’m not pessimistic.  I believe that eventually the chickens will come home to roost and people will begin to realize just what a bad idea Donald Trump was.




The Persistent Idiocy of Climate Change Deniers

Ah sheesh. Just when I thought I found a website that was serious about challenging the IPCC report on climate change, you find this: “The foundation was established in November 2009, shortly after the start of the Climatic Research Unit email controversy, with its headquarters in a room at the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, subsequently moved to 55 Tufton Street, London SW1P 3QL. Its director is Benny Peiser,[7][8] an expert on the social and economic aspects of physical exercise, and it is chaired by former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson.[9]”

An expert on … what? In a room… where? So, who’s funding you? They won’t tell, while insisting that opponents are funded by the environmental “industry”. Of course. Then they had to admit that a graph showing the temperature declining was “in error”.

“People such as Lord Lawson [a board member] are not skeptical, for if one major peer-reviewed piece of scientific research were ever to be published casting doubt on climate change theory, you just know they’d have it up in neon at Piccadilly Circus. ”  They only doubt science that gets in the way of profits.  But hey, if you get cancer, you’re free to choose a chiropractor over a physician if you really want to.

This kind of BS is exactly why reasonable, open-minded people have very little reason to credit the climate-change deniers. You do a search, survey the pro and con sites, and find the deniers are embarrassingly thin on the science, the logic, transparency, and integrity. And without exception, are funded by the carbon industry, oil and coal.

[whohit]The Persistent Idiocy of Climate Change Deniers[/whohit]

Global Total Failure

Since 1980, the obesity rate has doubled in 73 countries and increased in 113 others. And in all that time, no nation has reduced its obesity rate. Not one.  Huffington Post

That is a startling statistic.

It is worse than the frustrating statistics on education, which, in the U.S. at least, never seem to get better.  Nobody can point to a school system that is doing the thing that gets better results and which can be adapted to all the other school systems so that they all improve.  There are systems that have improved their results somewhat, but never, it seems definitively.  Nobody can go to a failing system and say, “it’s simple: just do what these guys did and you will get the same results”.

We know that Finland does great with their schools.  They don’t give their children homework.  There: try that in Peoria.

Anyway, back to obesity, reread that quote: not one nation has succeeded in reducing the obesity rate.

So, obesity is normal.  It really is, when you think about it.  Developed nations have certain things in common about it’s food production: the massive overproduction of sugary calories in junk food and excessively sweetened other foods.  These are profit centers for the “food” industry.  As long as governments refuse to legislate policies that diminish the supply of bad foods, the populations will not resist stuffing themselves with them.

Every single one of those nations is doing something fundamentally wrong and can’t see it.

I’m perpetually perplexed by the obesity issue.

Just 4 percent of agricultural subsidies go to fruits and vegetables. No wonder that the healthiest foods can cost up to eight times more, calorie for calorie, than the unhealthiest—or that the gap gets wider every year.

What if a town decided that it would no longer allow the food industry a free hand in providing endless supplies of fattening foods?  What if banned displays at store counters of racks and racks of sugar-coated candies and chocolate bars?  What if it required restaurants, like car makers, to meet a certain set of standards so that the average nutritional value of the foods served meets a certain minimum?

What if– simplest solution ever– it imposed a tax on sugary foods that reflected the increased costs of health care caused by their consumption?  What if a bag of sugar candies cost $15?  But a bag of carrots and celery cost $2?  You want to sell sugar-carriers to children?  Well, the cost will now include the amount required to provide the additional health care required by an entire generation of diabetics.

The Republicans, in the U.S., would rise like giant waves of ogre faces and scream at the top of their lungs, “the Nanny State is coming to take away your french fries!”  And they would win the next election.  “I don’t want the government telling me what to eat.  I want Nestle, Coca Cola, and Unilever to tell me what to eat.”

And the food industry will speak gently, through their highly qualified public relations people: fat people are lazy!  They need to exercise more!  We’re all about choice!  Candy can be part of a “balanced” wholesome nutritious diet.


[whohit]Global Total Failure[/whohit]