thinking about the world differently . . .
January 8th, 2017

Respect

Sean Spicer, the spokesperson for president-elect Trump, complained that the media does not accord DJT with the respect he deserves.

Pardon me, I always thought respect is something you work for, earn. That is is not something you get because of your genetics, good looks, or haircut… Apparently, along with other norms of this society, that respect earning bit is also flipped over on its head.

Along with this “good morning message” in the news, came the realization that indeed this reaction is just that bump in the rug that scurries around lookinh for an outlet, the problem is much deeper. Rob Goodman wrote this excellent article titled “What the King of Hawaii Can Teach Us About Trump – A political fable from 1819.

It explains the fate of norms. While it will not make you feel fuzzily relieved, you will understand where things are, where they could be, and outline a way for each of us to move forward and to imprint of ourselves anf our norms on the upcoming “new order” in the world. An important message…

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.

January 6th, 2016

The Right to Bear Arms

A (deadly) serious political cartoon that says it all. Have we had enough yet? The arms race is now accelerating to the point that soon the danger will be crossfire.

Published December 11, 2015 by Aussie cartoonist Sean Leahy [Wikipedia entry] in the Brisbane Courier Mail, this commentary focuses on the total lunacy of this “right”.

The Right to Bear Arms

The Right to Bear Arms

December 12th, 2014

Sitting on the razor’s edge

On Thursday Dec. 11, 2014, CIA Director John Brennan uncomfortably sat on the razor’s edge.

In his comments in defence of torture methods in interrogation following 9/11 (he called it “harsh interrogation techniques”) he said that it is “unknowable” if the intel could be extracted from persons being interrogated by conventional methods. (I am paraphrasing what he said, but you can read a report about his speech here, in the Washington Post.) he said this according to the report:

“The cause-and-effect relationship between the use of [harsh tactics] and useful information subsequently provided by the detainee is, in my view, unknowable.”

As I see it – and hopefully each of you who read this see it – if you have no idea which is better, Brennan feels it is ok to go immoral, inhumane and to torture because, heck, why not?

I bet it is hard on Brennan’s backside to be so firmly seated on the razor’s edge, talk about “enhanced seating” arrangement…

I also note the interesting linguistic structure that permeates the defense establishment:

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.

Donald Rumsfeld

(Above quotation found here.)

November 26th, 2014

Quite hard to swallow considering the source, but…

In an article titled North Korea says the U.S. is doomed just like the Roman Empire, in the Washington Post Nov, 26, 2014 [read here online], writer Adam Taylor reports how the North Korean government portrays the USA, in view of the current tumultuous events that are tearing the USA. They draw a parallel to the Fall of Rome.

Clearly, their reading of history is slightly distorted to serve up more of their self-interested and self-aggrandizing propaganda. But they are not 100% incorrect, either!

Look at the events then: repeated defeats in military adventures (now we have Iraq, Afghanista), huge disparities growing in the Roman society of then (oligarchy and 1%ers now), lots of mind-numbing going on in the form of games for Roman population (yesteryear’s version of electronic shoot-em, nuke-em Xbox games of today), events in the Coliseum that drew huge flocks (“reality shows” today), and growth of political despotism along with oligarchy (today’s political ruling class and the ilk of Koch Brothers.)

The same happens to be mostly true for North Korea but the propaganda machine chooses to ignore the doom knocking on their doors.

But we should perhaps keep our minds open to critique and the lessons of history.

March 18th, 2014

Naked Aggression

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Pat Bagley is a liberal American editorial cartoonist and journalist for The Salt Lake Tribune in Salt Lake City, Utah, and an author and illustrator of several books.

Mr. Bagley (@Patbagley on Twitter) published the following on Twitter. I think he nailed it , huh?

naked aggression
January 26th, 2014

Prediction: NRA will say “People Kill, not Guns”

My personal prediction is that in the usual manner the NRA responds to shooting instances in the USA, in about 5 days they will repeat their mantra “it is people who shoot and kill, not guns!”

They will follow by assisting more whackos buy more guns, lobbying stronger in Congress (whom they pay plenty in various ways – try campaign donmations!) To pass more lenient and permissive laws to allow more whackos to buy and own larger, more deadly assault weapons “for self protection”.

What a crock of horse manure!

And our society buys it, laps it up, endorses it and brainlessly adopts the “rational” explanation: see, if we had more guns out there, someone would have been able to shoot down the shooter in the Mall of Columbia in Maryland yesterday.

Great thinking – put more guns out there to shoot down the increased number of people who have guns and use them to shoot people. We live among morons.

Of course, the NSA, another three-letter organization like the NRA, now licks its chops in glee, saying: “if we could spy more openly on US Citizens we may have been able to glean the intentions of this one shooter in advance, and stop thayt person!”

Presumably they would have stopped him by shooting him down, or???

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…

October 30th, 2013

I can’t stand lazy software

Last week I lost two critical files (among others!) when my Blackberry went kaput! I tried to upgrade one piece of software, and the BlackberryWorld – the applications store manager that runs on the Blackberry demanded to be upgraded too. I agreed. Thereafter, nothing worked right.

When I installed the initial upgrade to the application program I originally tried to upgrade, the Blackberry kept rebooting every time the BlackberryWorld application even stirred. Yeeech!

But that was just the beginning. The Blackberry then lost its mind! With all that booting, the operating system probably went south…

I connected the BB to the laptop where the “Blackberry Desktop Manager” runs, to correct that problem.

It started and ran into some roadblocks.

The process goes like so: All the memory in the Blackberry is downloaded to the laptop. It contains all the information that is in the calendar, emails, contacts, and in my case also the password and accounts access information.

Then the operating system is repaired. Then the data is restored.

The data is stored on the laptop in a file with the date in the file name.

So far so good.

The first repair failed. The process repeated. Good data was downloaded from the BB to the laptop and place in that file with the date in the name.

You can do this as long as you want and everything is fine. AS LONG AS THE MEMORY in the BB is intact. If the memory blanks out or is corrupted somehow, the next iteration of the process will download garbage from the BB and keep it in the laptop.

So now you know the way this story will unfold. In the second failure, the memory was corrupted, in fact, blitzed out, blanked out, erased.

The desktop manager program went about doing its thing again: Copy the memory from the BB to the laptop, and in the process WIPED OUT THE ONE GOOD COPY of the critical information.

The Contacts file can be restored from the backups – and after much work it succeeded, although it was not the most current copy, but an older generation. Some issues which I decided to not delve into.

The password and account access file was lost. The software I used for that became obsolete a few months ago and I started copying the info – manually! – to another password application on the laptop. I did not finish the entire process, only about half. The remainder was lost and I have not been able to find any way to restore it.

So where is the “lazy software” part? It takes just a few short lines of code to make the name of the backup file unique. In my case, each iteration of repair would create a backup of the memory into a uniquely named file, without destroying the previous backup copy.

This was not done!

At this point I have sustained so much damage to the information that I am officially done with Blackberry – may it be torn apart and sold in pieces or wherever the latest corporate shenanigans will take this business. It is a pity – this was a GREAT company, and it did GREAT software, GREAT hardware, and exquisitely goo networks for businesses and individuals. It prided itself on being super careful and aware of the needs of industrial strength processes, hardware and software.

But the laziness of one piece of software caused me enormous damage and turn me off on that company!

So I am done with Blackberry.

Not 100% sure how to proceed. There are two thoughts –

(1) Get a dumbphone and a 7″ tablet. Keep data on the tablet in a form that is replicated on the laptop and lock it up super tightly in terms of encryption. Carry the tablet with you for the data. Keep the phone only for calling.

The choices for phone and tablet are obviously at issue. Also, the cost of connecting the tablet to a cellular network, as well as WiFi.

(2) Get an Android of some sort – a Samsung. I am not enamored with iPhones, but keep an open door for that platform.

The issue here is that I’d like to have a little better than iPhone or Androidal smartphone for the work I occasionally to do on the go.

The keyboard is functional, but will make me tear my hairs out if it is longer than 25 minutes at a stretch 🙂 …

So this story explains why I did not post here for a few days, and what the BIG THING in my professional and technological life is.

October 3rd, 2013

I’ll be facing divine retribution, I guess…

This is going to happen for sure to me.

You see, for years I have been a fan of the singer Elton John. I like his singing, his passion, and the outspokenness of his lyrics and art (and admire that he is true to his nature in his lifestyle.)

But the dear Imam Seidzhagfar Lutfullin, who serves as an imam in Kazan in Russia has apparently heard from God. God told him authoritatively that fans of Mr. John will receive a punishment for their fandom because Elton John is gay (see here). Openly, unabashedly and unapologetically Elton John insists on being Elton John.

Elton John is planning a concert in Russia in support of Russian gay folks. Imam Lutfullin objects to such frivolity and heinous expression of sin.

According to the good Imam, I must “not to give into the temptations of the devil” and turn my back on an artist, and a human being. I guess I’m doomed – I won’t follow the advice, mostly because I doubt seriously that the good Imam indeed communicates with God who tells him I should behave and live in the world.

I have the sense that God is really busy working in other, somewhat more critical parts of humanity, saving souls, and guiding people to live in ways that enhance humanity, not plunge it into the dark abyss of medieval discrimination and superstition.

 

June 25th, 2013

What a doubtful distinction

The United States is the world’s leader in prison population. It has 5% or so of the world’s population. But when it comes to prison population, we have 2.2 million people
behind bars and that comprises 25% of the world’s
incarcerated population.

The RATE of incarceration, i.e. prisoners per population is also highest in the USA.

We are in GREAT company: China is next with 1.5 million prisoners (but many times the population) and Russia has 870,000 in prisons.

Sources: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/uk/06/prisons/html/nn2page1.stm

http://list25.com/25-things-you-wouldnt-believe-about-these-countries/2/

So we remove people from society and house them somewhere. We lose their productivity and whatever they can contribute to society AND it costs our society more $$$ to house, feed, and provide whatever care we provide for these folks.

Yes, I know the instinct is to say they contribute nothing we want, they are criminals, after all! But that seems to be lost on the many contractors who build favtories powered bny prisoner work. The prisoners get slave wages, perhaps less, but someone makes some money profitably on that arrangement.

We also know that many of the prison population are not there because of their criminality but because they got ensnared in a nasty system which we call in the USA “justice”. Racism and xenophobia play a huge role in how deeply people get stuck in this system.

We are indeed a dim light to the nations.

May 13th, 2013

This Is What Poverty Really Means…

Most of us have a vague and fuzzy sense of what it means to be poor. It is a fuzzy notion because few of us have really experienced true poverty as millions of people experience day after day after grinding day.

Here is a poem that will give you a bit of a taste of how debilitating poverty really is:

I AM

My clothes will have to do cause I am poor
My hair will have to grow cause I am poor
My hand will keep filling out public assistance cause I am poor
My mind will pray for one less period cause I am poor
My mouth will be polite to my indignant boss cause I am poor
My heart will allow violent relationships cause I am poor
My teeth will slowly ache away cause I am poor
My paycheck will fade away more cause I am poor
My voice will fade away more cause I am poor
My feet will stand in line for food cause I am poor
My eyes will fade from no glasses cause I am poor
My body will deteriorate further cause I am poor
My ears will hear you walk by cause I am poor
My life will be less than yours cause I am poor
Cause I am poor
I am poor
I am

Lauren White, Member of the Community of the BeLoved

This poem was published in Mary’s Pence Spring/Summer 2013 Newsletter. The Community of the BeLoved is a grantee of Mary’s Pence, and you can read about them here.

You can learn more about Mary’s Pence here. In fact, please do – you will find ways to fight poverty in a sustainable and lasting way with no loss of dignity.

[Poem reprinted by permission of Mary’s Pence and the Community of the BeLoved.]
April 8th, 2013

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today Israelis and Jews all over the world remember the victims of the Holocaust of World War II, when 6 million Jews were killed because they were Jews, along with millions of other people in Europe of Roma descent, homosexuals, and other “others”.

And one might think that the horrors of that era – just 70 years ago – might affect the thinking or values of humanity today. But it seems not have made much difference. We read fresh reports of people of all ages being killed in Syria, by their own government forces, deadly clashes between Egyptian citizens who are “other” to each other (Christian and Moslem), and arrests and incarceration of persons by Hamas in the Gaza Strip because their haircut is “different”, ostensibly offensive to someone who decided they were the authority to decide on such matters.

The intolerance that marked the atrocities during WWII have not diminished today, and perhaps have become even more extreme in their expression.

Each one of us must resolve today that we will do something – even tiny, small, seemingly inconsequential for the big picture, to remove something from that scourge of intolerance, of fear of “others”, of the arrogance we harbor thinking that we are somehow better than the “other”.

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.

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