thinking about the world differently . . .
July 16th, 2017

Ironic, isn’t it?


Indeed! Democracy dies in Darkness. Oligarchs are main producers and suppliers (and beneficiaries!) of darkness.

Of course it is rather ironic for WaPo to use that in its masthead as a motto-like. Ironic, in that WaPo is a mouthpiece for oligarchs who are the main purveyors of darkness in our society.

December 3rd, 2016

2016 Elections

Took place Nov. 8. It was yuge… Enough said. Seems like entire swaths of the Mercan population were thrpwn into sudden anxiety (maybe?) and uncertainty (quite likely.) What will future life in the USA look and be like.

Very good question.

The analysis is on high speed. Party entities are trying to figure out what they did right, or wrong, or both.

Seems like most analysis INSIDE party entities is hammering the same the same… New answers will probably not emerge, because the premises and assumptions are the same the same, but the population experienced something new this time around; two non-the-same candidates.

One was stifled half way towards the finish line (yeah, that’s Sanders) The other went on to become President-elect of the USA.

The “differentness” in this case is that both felt, sounded, perhaps even were taking a break from the established political framework.

Sen. Sanders broke early and although ran as a democrat, broke with the traditional lines of communication with voters, broke the norms in terms of messages, and did phenomenally well, till he foiled and declined to run on his own merits. Was he a real anti-establishment candidate? I am thinking yes, but I also think Sanders scared himself when he realized that he had a REAL shot. What a pity.

Trump kicked the GOP in the shins, maybe even higher, and managed to subvert the GOP to become his carriers of water and all other things he may need.

Whether he will be the anti-establishment president he seemed to promise is unclear. Let’s come back to that in a few weeks.

So we’ll see if the voters will be getting the change they really wanted in the political make up of the USA.

I am skeptical Trump is the harbinger of change.

November 28th, 2015

As a society, can we afford this welfare?

We hear much whining about people getting money from the government and doing nothing, just sit around and watch TV, and have more kids. You know the talk about “welfare queens”…

Here are some statistics and hard pieces of information to tuck into your belt, so next time you hear the “welfare queen” talk, you can yank out this material and whine right back…

question-who is the welfare queen

The sources for this infographic are The Tax Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice.

October 11th, 2015

Hilarious and utterly true

Saw this post early today in Naked Capitalism http://nakedcapitalism.com, an unabashed site reporting on events and happenings in a way few dare. NC also has brains, rock-solid analysis, and research.

Anyway, the video was apparently originally discovered by “abynormal” somewhere, and brought to NC’s attention. It is a skit by Jonathan Pie satirizing the “clean, sanitized” news.

Warning: the language is unsanitized! Sensitive ears might burn to a crisp.

 

Looks like the satirical sector of our society, always a harbinger of things to cone, is paying attention to “the news”. That news sector has long been seen as the mouthpiece of the oligarchical ownership, and not true voice of veracity.

The commentary on the post is equal in quality to the post itself, and worth reading.

November 28th, 2014

How democracy is practiced in most of the world

One of the mechanisms of democracy that facilitates representation of The People in the decision making process is “representative government” or “representative democracy”. All western democracies in the world today include this mechanism. In this scheme of governance, people select representatives which in turn represent the will of the people who elected them in the legislative body of the government. This is how it is SUPPOSED to work, but we all have witnessed various degrees of degradations of this mechanism and its distortions to suit other power centers. For example, we see the injection of large monies into the elective and legislative process, which lends the entities behind the money undue political influence. The Supreme Court of the USA established recently that corporations – inanimate entities created by humans – are endowed with “personhoods” and thus have certain rights as natural humans have, although not some of the obligations and burdens humans have (such as going to jail for legal transgressions!)

One of the themes of yesterday’s Thanksgiving celebrations in the USA and Canada was to give thanks for the freedom to live in a free country, elect political leaders and so on.

Wiley Miller is the artist behind the cartoon strip Non Sequitur. His view on our form of “representative government” is summarized in his strip for today which you can view online here:

nq141128

Let’s think over our “blessings”, be more thoughtfully critical of what they really are, and consider the adjustments to be made to accomplish true representation of people, and less of the “personhoods” of corpocracy and their oligarchic paymasters.

December 12th, 2013

The Gap

I have written a lot about economic inequality. (Some say the adequate word is “ranted”.)

Another visualization of the widening gap and the enormity of the problem was published in Quartz today in an article titled “How many months it takes an average worker to earn what the CEO makes in an hour” by Ritchie King and Roberto A. Ferdman.

You should really go and read the article, but here are some teasers: McDonald’s 6 months and 4 weeks, Target 4 months and 4 weeks, Walmart 4 months and 3 weeks.

From the article:

The disparity is alarming. CEOs of American companies now earn some 270 times what the average worker makes.

(Emphasis is mine!)

Why is this a problem? in part, the answer is that the rise in CEOs pay has outpaced the rise in the workers pay by huge margins. This means that eventually – sooner than later – workers will not be willoing to work for the pay offered because it is too low – and it makes no sense to starve while working your arse off. The disparity is the gun powder accumulating to explode in social disorder and the collapse of the society we are used to living in.

From an economics perspective, this is utterly unsustainable in any case.

What can be done? LOTS! First of all inform yourself, then vote with your dollars – do not buy in places which are abusers of workers – the likelihood is that you too are in the class of “workers” and perhaps now you do not feel this gap, but just hang in – corporate greed and the greed of the 1%ters knows no bound apparently. So hit back with what you can – do not give them your dollars to the best of your ability.

I know, you say your “contributions” are meaningless. Not so! EVERY dollar counts, that is true for the 1%ters and that is even more true for you. If you and millions of others make a tiny “contribution” to the impoverishing of the 1%ters and the huge corporations, they WILL feel the pinch.

November 8th, 2013

Amazing – THIS is the USA

It is not that image you may have in your mind. The REAL USA is this: According to numbers that were just released this week, 49.7 million Americans are living in poverty. That is an all-time record high.

On Nov 08, 2013 16:34 UTC the population of the US was 317,029,737, according to US Census Bureau. Employing the services of a calculator, it seems that 15.6% of the population of this wealthy nation (?) is poor!
And there is much much more. This article enumerates 21 hard-to-believe facts about America, the poor and the wealthy. [Update: This article was just given to me…]

The opening item was fact #5 from that article. Here is another:

#8 According to Forbes, the 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined. So 400 people have more wealth in the USA than almost half the ENTIRE POPULATION of the same USA.

If you find this staggering and mind-boggling, you should. It means that the wealth transfer (a previously-visited motif in my blog!) continues apace, emptying your pockets and transferring its content to the pockets of the wealthy few. This is supported by fact #7 asserting that household incomes in the USA have declined over the past 5 years!!!

Here is another tidbit to drive home the point of wealth transfer: Fact #11 asserts that 18% of all food stamps in the USA are spent at Wal-Mart. You are aware of course (or are you?) that the Walton Family is the richest family in the USA and probably the world. In Forbes’ March 2013 Billionaires list, the name Walton appears in spots #11, 14, 16, and 17 with wealth totaling more than $107 billion. There are a few more Waltons on that list, but due to marriages they carry other names (suck as Kroenke, Laurie etc.)

Food stamps are financed by the taxpayers, you pay those taxes. Large sums enter the Wal-Mart coffers, and move to the pockets of the Waltons. the wealth transfer path is fairly straight forward – your pockets to the Waltons’ pockets.

Read the the article with the facts on wealthy and poor America – it’ll shock you!

So what can you do? A LOT! Vote with your dollar – DO NOT buy anything at Walmart. Vote with your dollar – DO NOT buy products from companies that participate in the wealth transfer. Vote with your dollar – change your lifestyle to rely on LESS items that are highly processed. You get the drift…

August 10th, 2013

Who are the TRUE Job Creators?

On May 17, 2012, Nick Hanauer recorded this TedTalk in Long Beach CA.

 
Mr. Hanauer is one of the 1%ers. He is the CEO and co-Chair of Pacific Coast Feather Company, was one of the original investors in Amazon.com and created a company which he eventuallyy sold to Microsoft for $6.4 billion. He also founded Second Avenue Partners in 2000, a Seattle-based Venture Capital company.

And yet he understands economics! Perhaps his background in creating and running all these companies plays a part in all this.

The main point he makes is this: The REAL Job Creators are not folks like him, the 1%ers! It is the Middle Class. Their ability and wish to buy goods and services allows businesses to hire more people (“give a job to someone”) to produce the demand for the good and services.

Therefore, concludes Mr. Hanauer, raising taxes on the Middle Class and reducing their spendable income is a folly!

He demonstrates the inanity of the assertion “the rich are the job creators” by pointing out simply that the rich are few. They cannot possibly buy so much more and consume so much more as to create the demand that would propel businesses to hire more people in significant ways. In other words, the rich have no way to “create jobs”. The mass of the Middle Class does however!

He asserts that RAISING taxes on the 1%ers is a GREAT POLICY to increase the wealth in the economy, it is good for the poor, good for the middle class, and ultimately good for the owners of the businesses (the 1%ers!) who end up profiting.

Thus he manages is a 5 minutes and 50 second talk to debunk thoroughly the blather of the Republican Fog Machine in defense of lowering the taxes on the rich.

If I were among the 1%er, I’d work diligently to take out and shut up any and all Republicans who tout this policy. It is idiotic first of all, but so-so damaging to the fortunes of 1%ers!

July 26th, 2013

The Common Ingredient

What do jet fuel, electrical transformers and breakfast cereal have in common?

BHT.

BHT is short for butylated hydroxytoluene and it is an organic compound that is used as an antioxidant additive in jet fuels, electrical transformer oil, and breakfast cereal.

Found this list of 25 Craziest Food Additives on a website listing all sorts of “List of of 25” items, many quite astonishing!

June 1st, 2013

Look Ma, No Hands…

More like “Look Doctor, No Hands!”

The Burger King Whopper can now be eaten hands free, get fatter with less effort even…

 

May 18th, 2013

People WANT to be dumber…

Aereo just won a reprieve in court.

Aereo distributes what I call “moron TV” to the subscriber over the Internet. Here is the way it works: Legally, anyone can deploy an antenna, receive local TV services broadcast over-the-air and feed it to their television and watch it.

Aereo does the same for you. They deploy an antenna for you on a subscription basis (it is only abnnout the size of a quarter coin, set in a datacenter) and then send the signal from your antenna of local TV broadcasting to you over the internet. You can feed this signal to your TV, to your computer, smartphone, even to your toaster!
Local TV stations saw this retransmission of the programming as an infringement of their copyright and took it court.

In March 2012 Aereo was sued by several TV broadcasters trying to stop their service from going live in NY City. Aereo in its defense says they do nothing different than putting up an antenna for their customer – that’s legal. And they send that signal to you – that’s exactly what cable TV does and has been for years now!

The Court has lifted an injuction against Aereo and let it work while the case winds its way through the Federal Court system. Which means years and years…

In April 2012 the federal appeals court gave Aereo a temporary reprieve. Now the company is planning to expand to 22 cities throughout the USA aNd fight their case in the meantime.

So they may lose in the end, but it’ll be years down the road. Meanwhile, a $8 per month subscription fee gets you more dumb TV cheap – no cable fees that could cost anywhere from $70 to $200 and more each month. And Aereo gets your cash flowing into their pocket.

What a culture…

April 28th, 2013

Stuff Happens…

This last week had a plethora of “stuff happens” to choose from, take your pick.

First, in my local Congressional District 2 in Minnesota, Ms. Sona Mehring withdrew from the race for the Congressional seat (on the DFL side). She was in the race for a mere 22 or 23 days. In her announcement, she said she came to the conclusion that her job as CEO of CaringBridge had a higher priority.

When she joined the race on April 2, she was an unknown, and apparently had not participated much in the political life in MN or in the district. She has solid business credentials, and said she has ideas on how to work across that chasm called “the Aisle”.

The only candidate now is Mike Obermueller. He ran two years ago, and came from waaaay back to garner a huge part of the vote (though not enough to win the seat) and a huge advance in the name recognition he had in the district. All in a very short and tight time frame.

One more person has spoken about running in the DFL side, but has not officially become a candidate, so it is in the class of vaporware – maybe, maybe not.

We also heard from Washington via Politico that Congress is negotiating an exemption for itself and its staff from the requirements of ObamaCare. This was an interesting piece of news, and did not come as a surprise: Few people in the USA have the deep-seated conviction that people in Congress hold strictly the interest of The People in all their actions, Puh!

The news was refuted quickly (here and here) the next day – no, Congress is just trying to set straight problems with the way the law is written. Yeah, right…

A few short weeks ago, Spamhaus was attacked over the internet by a mechanism called DDoS. Spamhaus is an organization that investigates  sources of spam on the internet and maintains a blacklist of internet locations where spam comes from. This helps legitimate organizations to reject any communication from known spam spewers.

Obviously, spammers and their masters are always incensed when their Internet address appears on the blacklist. Cyberbunker, a Dutch company that provides internet services and hosting to all comers who can pay (few, if any questions asked!), has had a long-standing feud with Spamhaus about including some of Cyberbunker’s IPs on the blacklist as spam sources.

The DDoS attack created a huge (and useless!) workload for Spamhaus’ servers to the point where these servers collapsed and could not perform useful work. DDoS stands for “Distributed Denial of Service”.  The servers are so overloaded that they cannot do any useful work on behalf of the organization they serve. The attack came from multiple sources (over 30,000 servers) and thus the “distributed” description.

At some points during the attack, the internet experienced 300 times more workload than it normally does. Quite incredible.

There were rumors that Cyberbunker was the source of the attack. A complaint was issued, an arrest warrant issued, converted to a Eurozone arrest warrant, and yesterday, the Register of the UK reported that the chief of Cyberbunker was arrested. The long arm of the law…

It should be noted too, that Cyberbunker was one of the internet service providers which hosted WikiLeaks when it was pursued across Europe by government after government and allowed it to continue its operations.

…and the leaky faucets continues to leak! Maybe you too received an email from LivingSocial that its security was breached and 50 million records of subscribers were stolen. No credit card information, but names, addresses, birthdates, and email addresses (along with more-or-less useless encrypted passwords) was stolen. LivingSocial is a coupon clipping service similar to Groupon owned by Amazon. They paid a very nice chunk of money for LivingSocial, but the promise of the fad is not showing much life lately.

And Apple’s numbers are not going to be pretty. Some pundits are wagging their tongues that Apple is on the hunt to replace current CEO Cook with someone else who might be able to revive to creative zest of Apple.

March 31st, 2013

The New Landscapes

The Online magazine Slate published an interesting article about a Chinese-born and Beijing and Australia-educated artist, Yao Lu, and his art.

Here is an example of what he does:

Yao Lu 2007 Autumn Mist in the Mountain with Winding Streams

While this picture looks … well, picturesque, and a cultural sequel of the Chinese fine landscape art of the past, careful examination reveals that the scene is an orchestration garbage mountains.

So much for modern day technology improving our lives.

The article has many more images and some interesting narrative by the artist. Worth clicking through.

February 11th, 2013

The Dummification of America

Paul Krugman wrote another fine article in the opinion page of the NY Times.

It is about the adamance of the GOP to push through an agenda of dumb, dumber, and just plain stupid for America.

This time it is GOP Rep. Eric Cantor speaking about policy and spouting irrelevant and plain silly ideas.

Mr. Krugman also mentioned as supporting evidence the July 2012 momentous occasion when the Texas GOP’s Party Platform included this passage on education:

Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

God forbid, kids will develop thinking skills and be able make choices and decisions based on analysis and facts instead of hammered-in “fixed beliefs”.

We are marching gallantly towards the 15th Century!

As you read the article, pay close attention: you may not believe the other examples for deliberate dumbing attempts the GOP is doing, but what you read is right. The sources are all there, follow the links, lavish your eyes on the articles and resources. Your mind may reel, but you can probably control those convulsions. Good luck!

December 21st, 2012

Tell us how you really fell about them…

Tonight, before the end of the world 😀 Robert Reich took some time and posted this on his blogsite. It was about the monumental failure of the GOP in Congress to counter-punch the Obama administration and DO SOMETHING!

Speaker Boehner pushed through his “Plan B” that was going to raise taxes on earners of $1m. and higher by expiring their Bush-era tax break. But Boehner could not find the votes in the House and withdrew the legislation. The plan was going to affect 0.0033 (1/3rd of one percent) of the richest people in the USA, about 400,000 in number, according to Mr. Reich’s article.

Mr. Reich wrote 2 concluding paragraphs in the article describing the Republican Party. I enjoyed reading these:

It has become a party that routinely shills for its super-wealthy patrons at a time in our nation’s history when the middle class is shrinking, the median wage is dropping, and the share of Americans in poverty is rising. 

It has become a party of spineless legislators more afraid of facing primary challenges from right-wing kooks than of standing up for what’s right for America.

Mr. Reich, can you be more open and tell us how you really feel about the Republicans in Congress? Please, don’t hold back..

[Robert Reich is a professor of Public Policy at University of California at Berkeley, and before served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. He has written thirteen books, and is a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause.]
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