Category Archives: Politics

Musings on the body politic, on the way things are.

The End of Irony – ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ Marvel’s triumphant finale, would be better without the genocide

‘Avengers: Endgame,’ Marvel’s triumphant finale, would be better without the genocide | Think

Have we lost the ability to understand irony?

”  ‘Avengers: Endgame’ is a machine designed to turn atrocity and genocide into an entertaining game. It’s kind of fun. But it also makes you wonder what it says about us that we want to have fun in this way.”

I have not seen the movie, but master pieces like “Dr. Strangelove” made “fun” of global annihilation. Stanley Kubrick reportedly wanted to make a straight film from the book until he understood the true implications.

It is precisely the insanity of our times – whether calmly accepting genocide on other continents, or massive portions of our population incarcerated on spurious cause (e.g. War on Drugs,) or species annihilation, or the large scale near-term destruction of our habitat through climate change, or a President blatant in his crooked lying – that offers no alternate depiction. Any movie showing this in its true fashion would be considered ridiculous in the recent past or naive now. The true horror can only be reflected with irony and satire.

But in a politically correct simplistic mind set doing that is not acceptable any more. The rest is silence.

So it goes.

190426 think 1 avengers endgame ew 1246p 95de1039c5ea1abdfe1f2e327be2b2e2 fit 2000w

‘Slaughterhouse-Five,’ 50 years later: What Kurt Vonnegut taught one soldier about war – The Washington Post

‘Slaughterhouse-Five,’ 50 years later: What Kurt Vonnegut taught one soldier about war – The Washington Post

“So it goes.”

I have reread Slaughterhouse Five multiple times. I also liked the movie. A young Valerie Perrine will be forever imbedded in my mind as Montana Wildhack looking at me from a tub. She made Billy Pilgrim forget his PTSD and created a respite throughout his time travels escaping a senseless hell. She brought peace.

I used to think there were some “just wars” like WW II. I am starting to believe there are NO just wars. I suspect Hitler’s rise could have been prevented by a much better foreign policy following WW I. His expansion could have been curtailed by a smarter, more unified diplomacy and the prevention of interference by multinationals, who worked on both sides to profit. The holocaust was preventable both by a different policy, the lack of constraints within Germany, and a more open policy towards accepting refugees in the US.

Slaughterhouse Five was published right around the time I was drafted for the Vietnam War. My lottery number was 39. There was no hope. I was called for my medical – “report to a bus pickup location with two days change of clothing at 6:00am.” A day before the life-changing event  I had a sudden medical issue and had to be rescheduled. The ensuing bureaucratic delays were enough to still be at home a couple of months later when Nixon cancelled the draft. A major lucky break! I was totally unsuited for military duty and likely would have gotten myself killed. If not, I would have been a classic PTSD basket case before that term became wide spread.

Life is strange. So it goes.

Om Shanti Om.

Doomed Boeing Jets Lacked 2 Safety Features That Company Sold Only as Extras – The New York Times

Doomed Boeing Jets Lacked 2 Safety Features That Company Sold Only as Extras – The New York Times

For Boeing safety costs extra! Note that both crashes and hundreds of deaths could have been prevented by an optional software feature costing NOTHING to produce! The fact it was an option indicated it was known there could be a lapse.

This is not just American Capitalism at its finest! What has happened to ethics in leadership? It is amoral. There should be a criminal investigation.

“As the pilots of the doomed Boeing jets in Ethiopia and Indonesia fought to control their planes, they lacked two notable safety features in their cockpits.

One reason: Boeing charged extra for them.

Now, in the wake of the two deadly crashes involving the same jet model, Boeing will make one of those safety features standard as part of a fix to get the planes in the air again.

In the software update that Boeing says is coming soon, MCAS will be modified to take readings from both sensors. If there is a meaningful disagreement between the readings, MCAS will be disabled.”

Opinion | A ‘Disgusting’ Yale Professor Moves On – The New York Times

Opinion | A ‘Disgusting’ Yale Professor Moves On – The New York Times

How a target of students’ ire came to write a book about humanity’s transcendent goodness.

Christakis’s wife, Erika, who also taught at Yale back then, had circulated a memo in which she questioned a university edict against culturally insensitive Halloween costumes, suggesting that students could police themselves and should have both the freedom to err and the strength to cope with offense. She wrote that her husband concurred.

Despite listening and reasoning Nicholas Christaki was ostracized by some students. I think this intolerance fueled by youthful righteousness and the unwillingness to tolerate other reasoning is unhealthy. It suppresses healthy debate, which is so important in any academic environment.

It moves debates and deep thinking of what is moral to a fanatic emotional pitch, very similar to the “hatred of the other” in our current political and social siloes.

Meet Andrew Yang: A ‘fairly normal guy’ running for president on a radical platform

Meet Andrew Yang: A ‘fairly normal guy’ running for president on a radical platform

“His “Freedom Dividend,” which would provide a $1,000 monthly check from the government to each U.S. citizen over 18, is tied to his belief that automation and artificial intelligence are poised to eliminate millions of jobs, such as truck driving. Trying to do something about that doesn’t make him radical — it makes him, as he says, “a fairly normal guy.” “

It’s encouraging to see this.

Seth Abramson on Twitter: “1/ Whatever you think VP Dick Cheney was to President George W. Bush, take that, make it 3 times as sinister, make Bush 10 times more sociopathic and a devout criminal, and make Cheney stupid, venal, and entirely dismissive of our rule of law and you get what Kushner is to Trump.”

Seth Abramson on Twitter: “1/ Whatever you think VP Dick Cheney was to President George W. Bush, take that, make it 3 times as sinister, make Bush 10 times more sociopathic and a devout criminal, and make Cheney stupid, venal, and entirely dismissive of our rule of law and you get what Kushner is to Trump.

I think Seth Abramson has a point I missed in my last post.

Tony Schwartz on Twitter: “You read Trump’s anguished tweet about Saturday Night Live and the late night hosts all making fun of him and what’s clear is that underneath all his bluster, rage & hatred there is a sad, lost little boy desperate for the love and approval he never ever got.”

Tony Schwartz on Twitter: “You read Trump’s anguished tweet about Saturday Night Live and the late night hosts all making fun of him and what’s clear is that underneath all his bluster, rage & hatred there is a sad, lost little boy desperate for the love and approval he never ever got.”:

A while back I realized that the GOP must be controlled by a backstage cabal that decided some time ago to put puppets into play. It became clear with Ronald Reagan, who was a third rate actor willing to learn his lines, die his hair, and wear the make up. He was good at ad-libbing along core concepts, especially with the whispering help of Nancy. He had me! He was the last Republican I voted for when I saw the damage. Yes, I was a conservative when that still had principles and values.

Bush the Elder appears a little more of his own man. George the Younger needed more help. But it was clear that Dick Chaney was there to keep things in line for both of them. Very “prudent.” But boy that man was the devil and more obvious than McNamara or Rumsfeld. Of course, none can compete with Henry Kissinger in pure, premeditated evil.

Trump seems to be an experiment gone sideways. From an acting perspective, we are now at amateur Reality TV level. The real management in Reality TV is  massaging the talent ego and editing after  the fact. The trouble is that works with “The Apprentice,” but is a problem in case of nuclear war and a polity addicted to social media.

Intelligence and ego-wise we have reached bottom. Trump has always had trouble with is ego: appearance is all, tallest buildings, lots of gold, fascist dictator mentality. But his lack of intelligence and morality accelerated by his dementia together with a phone running Twitter has made him really hard to handle. And it seems that his immediate handlers are also not “the best and the brightest.” The pure instincts of a conman coupled with his need for adoration still make him a dangerous demagogue with his base, who need him just as much. The danger is with terrorists on the fringe put on fire.

The Greek tragedy (or Shakespeare – choose your poison): the women most loved by him (for him love and lust are the same) are not likely to truly adore or love him. Love and lust unrequited are the greatest pain of all! But given the suffering and deaths already in play, I cannot feel compassion.

An experiment gone wrong and hopefully the end of the line, Fox News not withstanding.

Ars Technica: Behind the Curve a fascinating study of reality-challenged beliefs

Behind the Curve a fascinating study of reality-challenged beliefs

The documentary tracks how people form and maintain bizarre beliefs.

There’s a scene somewhere in the middle of a new flat Earth documentary that acts as metaphor for so much that surrounds it. Two of the central figures of Behind the Curve are visiting a spaceflight museum that pays tribute to NASA, an organization that they believe is foisting a tremendous lie on an indoctrinated and incurious public. One of them, Mark Sargent, sits in a re-entry simulator that suggests he should press “Start” to begin. He dutifully bangs away at the highlighted word “Start” on screen, but nothing happens.

He wanders away muttering even more about how NASA’s a giant fraud. Meanwhile, the camera shifts back to the display and zeroes in on a giant green “Start” button next to the seat Sargent was in.

I believe it’s not necessarily the seeing of facts that is the issue, it’s the underlying rules and patterns, the mental models that create selective attention and understanding.

Seeds of Destruction

file-20170522-25008-1fmr6bo-2019-03-10-17-05.jpg

Image taken from the article: Our ‘selfish’ genes contain the seeds of our destruction – but there might be a fix

The internet and social media spanning the world with billions of participants is changing the nature of our culture and civilization. Due to its fast spread its dramatic impact is likely higher in a shorter period than the invention of writing and the printing press. Film and radio as propaganda media had a dramatic impact on WW I and WW II. Will social media be seen as the fire that destroyed Western Civilization due to its pervasive impact?

In my view one of the most destructive culprits in the universe of social media is Facebook. It does not do this unknowingly.

Facebook’s seeding of social destruction is by cynical design. The system’s true monetary value is your data and ATTENTION.

ATTENTION is generated by siloing the user base and feeding each silo information that is bound to excite. It either fervently supports the shared outlook or fuels hatred of the opposition. The Facebook algorithm selects the user postings and seeded information from other sources in front of you based on deep analysis. If you look at the placed information, it is aimed at generating division even if it appears to support your point of view.

The silo user base amplifies this attention.

HATRED of the opposition is the strongest emotion here. Although we think we are debating facts, they move to the background. I should also note that the rules we use to view the facts in relation to the world are distorted impacting our perception of “truthiness.” More about that in another post.

In other words, Facebook’s SHAREHOLDER VALUE IS HATRED. It has earned them billions!

It is very destructive in its pervasiveness.

The destruction is on several levels:

  • The resulting divisiveness is poison to rational discourse.
  • Facts are no longer important, beliefs are.
  • It prevents rational resolution of issues based on compromise.
  • Trust in institution or experts is undermined and destroyed.
  • It leads to extreme leadership and demagoguery, which play into the tribal hatred. Centrism cannot compete in this atmosphere.
  • Eventually the polity is destroyed, because it cannot any longer be governed and function.

This is Stephen Bannon’s agenda. We are mid game in this regard, but well along the way of destroying institutions and regulation forged over the last decades and centuries. In fact, our Separation of Powers is no longer working! This is a constitutional crisis or at least Constitutional Rot. The real problem is not only that many people are seriously suffering (economic inequality) or dying (lack of healthcare,) but we are not furthering pace and the worldwide action required to solve climate change. And the window for climate change action is closing. Even if we get out polity back into a state of health, it might be too late to avoid catastrophic consequences, which will especially impact poor nations and lead to further global instability.

Although we seem to act like a “Banana Republic,” we are the largest economy in the world. Our leadership, action or inaction count in a dominant way.

To paraphrase Cato the Elder, Facebook must be destroyed,

Note: I originally posted this in response to a concern about social media’s destructiveness on the polity on Facebook. After some thought I had to elevate my response and start moving my focus away from Facebook only using it as a means of distribution and getting attention.

ps I first was alluding to the “Eve of Destruction” by Barry McGuire, but then also found the Sons of Aeon, a melodic Death Metal Band wailing from Finland. My son really turned me on the genre, which actually has some very thoughtful if dark lyrics and exquisite instrument playing. I have become a fan of Katatonia (lately more progressive rock).

Here then the lyrics for Seeds of Destruction:

Sight into the future… Does not exist
We need no prophets to realise it
Next breath you’re about to take
Could be your last
Drown yourself in hatred, forget the past
This world of confusion
Where moral is just a word
Meaningless and forgotten…
Thing we should not talk about
Souls for sale
Dreams of yesterday… Drifting away
A glimpse of humanity… Does not exist
See the smile on their faces… You’ll realise it
Filth holds the reins of power
Rivers are turning red
Irrigate the fields of hate
Sow the seeds of destruction
There will be blood… Where dead roses bloom

And a quick taste of Katatonia from their track Last Song Before The Fade from their album The Fall of Hearts:


Who’s in control
Spite
So cold in this light.

Reflective summary
Froze me in a frame
My time had run out before the future came
Depart from insight
Breach was made.


For good reason this generation does not sound very hopeful. Time for some peaceful “Hearts of Space!”

Not just here: Post-truth politics is alive and well in Brexit Britain

url-2019-01-15-11-31.jpg

This is a fundamental problem of current politics amplified by social media. It is a fertile ground for fascist countries to seed discord. We need to get beyond it to survive as democracies.

“The various tribes have consistently hidden behind principles to avoid endorsing an option that is *actually* on the table — or building a consensus behind their preference. Worse, they have decided to ignore the real-world problems that accompany their solutions.”

Post-truth politics is alive and well in Brexit Britain