thinking about the world differently . . .
January 26th, 2017

How to navigate the NEW truth

5The NEW truth is just my term for the phenomenon spreading worldwide, much more openly since the 2016 Election campaign in the USA. Yeah, we are the “trendsetters” here, although it is no great source of pride.

The new truth is what both campaigns were using to twist and bend whatever info was out there to suit their marketing and communications needs. In the past, this was done in a more subtle way, such as the laws passed in several US states named “right to work” laws. These laws are specifically aimed at reducing or destroying collective bargaining power workers have (union representation), by cleverly denying unions the right to collect membership fees from workers when those workers are not members of the union. The rationale behind the fee collection is that workers benefit from collective bargaining (e.g. work conditions, hours, safety standards improve for all workers.)

Denying the agency fees to the unions undercuts their ability to support workers during work actions and makes their job harder.

The laws to affect these denials are called “right to work” because they allegedly “protect” the workers who are not interested in being represented by a union. This is, of course, a complete deceit and verbal sleight-of-hand.

Such examples of subtle deceit were rampant in the past, but in the new politics, sublety is apparently not sufficient. A new mechanism appeared a few short years ago, which more openly deploys a lie.

To understand how this works have a look at today’s Dilbert cartoon.

Pointy Haired Boss (PHB) posted a racist post about the mythical Elbonians and was called out by Dibert in yesterday’s strip.

This relates to the wave of “fake news” items, which is still another step away from truth and deeper into the reaches of lies which sort-or, maybe, kinda pass like true stories.

On January 14, 2017, there was an interesting article on NPR by WNYC On The Media titled “A Taxonomy of Trump Tweets“. It provides a brief structural analysis of the tweets produced by the new President of the USA. These tweets, while seemingly the rantings of an insomniac lunatic, do have structure, they have purpose, and a theme. The analysis is provided by a heavy-duty scientist, George Lakoff, a cognitive linguist of great renown.

The article is an 8 minute or so of reporter Brooke Galdstone’s interview with Lakoff, well worth your time. The transcript of the interview is here.

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.

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.

March 10th, 2015

Government Efficiency

A political hot potato, undoubtedly… Extreme Republicans would like to shrink government to such a size that would make it possible to drown the governement in a tub. Of course, they would like to have the road to their homes ploughed out of the snow in the winter, potholes filled and repaired in the summer. Presumably, this would happen via that well-proven process called “magic”…

Government Efficiency

Government Efficiency


Let’s see, medical research on the disease afflicting them should be financed by another segment of aforementioned “magic”.

The other side of this coin is a behemoth, overburdened by regulations detailing how one may lift their little finger, when, and the necessary forms to fill out prior to such lifting. I doubt one needs to worry much about such beasts – they fall and may never be able to get back up because of their own weight…

Somewhere in the middle lies the answer. And the target efficiency moves aroind, never staying in exactly the same spot. Milk production, meat packing or medication safety, should be heavily regulated with plenty of money for inspection by competent and well educated inspectors. Our lives depend on such government processes – they better NOT be tiny and bathtub-drownable.

The only way to reach a spot that may be proper is by continuing to calibrate the optimal spot. It is called politics and it REQUIRES transparency.

Either you become part of it or yoi are a person looking for “magic”. Good luck to you, but please stay the heck out of politics, lest you are called delusional.

November 30th, 2014

Hello – this is your Mind on Education – any questions?

In the “old days” there was this great and shockingly frank public service ad – your brain on drugs. You can still see it here. It gave Americans a bit of a jolt and I want to believe also helped curb some of the demand and the use of drugs.

Here comes the next installment – education. There has been a lot of talk about the value of education, especially with the escalating costs of getting an education and a degree.

So here is the analog to the video you may remember or have taken the time to watch (above.) This is from an article in the Washington Post. It vividly demonstrates the advantage of a degree in terms of lifetime earnings potential and compares it to earnings without a degree.

Sure, it is hard to earn a degree. Our Congress and especially Congressman Kline (chair of House Education Committee) are making it harder, too, by jacking up the interest on educational loans. You gotta pick a bone with your congressional representatives… But ultimately, with all the debt load – it is still a bargain. If you have a possibility – jump on it and go to school, get a degree, even an advanced degree and then live well.

The value of a degree
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.

March 20th, 2014

Goal Setting

Hmmm...

Hmmm…

March 20th, 2014

Arrogant US Senator

Knows it all, Sen. Burr. When he is confronted by eloquently presented facts that refute him, he slithers around, slides around the questions and the facts, and goes on like he is still right! Can you spell n-a-r-c-i-s-s-i-s-t?

Watch the video below.

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 28th, 2014

“Outing” Paul Revere with NSA Metadata (kinda…)

Finally, a bit of time and the promise I gave is fulfilled in this post.

On Jun 9, 2013 Kieran Healy wrote a blog with a story. This was just a short while after the adventures of the NSA into spying on American and non-American citizens can to light so dramatically with Mr. Edward Snowden’s taking flight after revealing some (and since then, many more!) of the unsavory details of the spying.

It is possible that Mr. Healy’s story was a response to NSA’s patently false claim that they were merely collecting metadata, data that does not and cannot personally identify any individuals.

In his story, set in the revolutionary period of America’s history, how develops step by step, along with the mathematics and logic and rationale, explaining how the British Kingdom’s “NSA” could have “outed” Paul Revere – by “merely collecting metadata, data that does not and cannot personally identify any individuals.”

The heart of the method is social network analysis. This simply means that with suffucient metadata about the social networks prevailing, the connections among the groups, through individual members in the groups, can reveal and out who is who in the groups, the dynamics of interactions, and important facts about the roles of individuals within all these networks.

Paul Revere - at the heart of the "Network"

Paul Revere – at the heart of the “Network”

In the entire analysis process, there was never use of any information about the discussions of the individuals in the groups involved, so their positions could not be gleaned from the content of their talks, writings or any other expressions. The only information used was metadata – who connects with whom, how often. Other public information was also used – such as the membership of groups – but this information took no spying to obtain, it was public information.

If you feel that metadata is innocent enough, read this article, and dive into the content – I assure you it is well worth it! Believers in the harmlessness of metadata will be have their naivete jarred beyond repair, I hope!

Of course, your naivete should have been removed instantly by asking this: If it is so harmless, how come this metadata is so vehemently sought by the NSA in pursuit of those they suspect in terrorism acts or terrorism PLANS? If it can find a terrorist’s planning in the haystack we call “world population” don’t you think it can find your own activities which the government does not approve of? (And I am not talking about illegal activity!)

This article by Mr. Healy gives a whole new flavor to “staying in touch!”, don’t you think?

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???

January 23rd, 2014

NSA, Presidency’s Power Grab – Going Rogue?

On the last day of 2013 I moved to a new home – the NSA undoubtedly has the detailed “metadata” on that move! 🙂 – and the preparation time before and unwinding of it all after the move are my excuse for not posting for awhile.

It is quite disturbing that repeatedly now, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board1, produced a report that criticizes the NSA’s collection of indiscriminate data which includes information on American Citizens in violation of their civil liberties and civil rights.

It is bad enough that such indiscriminate collection takes place – “just in case we can find something in there” – on ANYONE in the world. I understand and admire and support any and all investigative efforts to prevent terroristic activities, but the cost to civil rights is way too high.

To make things worse, today’s Oversight Board’s report claims that

“The Section 215 bulk telephone records program lacks a viable legal foundation under Section 215, … and has shown only limited value,”

And

“We have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation,”

So, again remind me WHY this collection work continues?

Moreover, why are legislators divided in the US House and US Senate and do not unanimously vote the summary shutdown and destruction of all the collected data?

Who are THEY serving? I though they in are in service to us, the people of the USA. I must have misread the Constitution somewhere…

And a similar cherry goes to our beloved President. Except he is taking the morally turpid low path, a power-grab to snoop on American Citizens for no apparent reason other than quoting again and again the fear-based rhetoric of those who would take his presidency down in a heartbeat – the Conservative wings of the GOP.

The same Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, also states in its report that the collection is questionable under provisions of the First and Fourth Amendments, and raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy.

The true insult to Americans by the NSA and its supporters is the repetition of the argument that “bulk metadata is no encroachment on civil liberties and rights as it reveals no personal information.

If it does not, how can such information lead to prevention of activities of harmdoers? I read that argument as pure, unadulterated, and untreated bullshit (forgive me for the use of this word – it actually seems to be rather mild and courteous description for the argument.)

In my next blog post I’ll describe the work of some brainy guys showing how easy it is to find the proverbial needle in the haystack of data. (With the bulls and haystack, seems to be a little agriculture going on here today 🙂 …)

Is it time to send a message to Congress and the President that they should kindly pack it in and go home and stop collecting payroll from us? They certainly do not represent or work for OUR INTERESTS!
 
 
 NOTE 1:
Allow me to disabuse anyone who thinks that the board I speak of is some liberal, left-wing nut Commie organization: The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board was
established at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission in 2004. At the request of lawmakers and Obama last year, the board reviewed U.S. intelligence gathering programs and it will issue a separate report on Internet surveillance.[Source: Reuters http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSL2N0KX12N20140123?irpc=932]

December 30th, 2013

Happy New Year 2014 – and your right to vote!

First of all, Happy New Year to all for 2014! May this year bring to you all that you desire and wish for.

The Atlantic today published an article by Andrew Cohen. It is an attempt to counter the following question: “If I Need ID to Buy Cough Syrup, Why Shouldn’t I Need ID to Vote?”

The article goes into some length discussing and explaining the issues surrounding the concerted Conservative movement in the USA to limit the voting right, or at least limit the voting public and make certain their decline in the demographics is not reflected in the voting on issues.

The short answer is simple: “Voters in the USA have a constitutional right to vote, but there is NOTHING in the constitution that provides them with the right to buy cough medicine.

But go deeper – if you have time!

The question is BOGUS! To vote, you must identify yourself – so the entire premise of the question is totally false.

This becomes clear when you understand the question is NOT about identifying a voter but about what sort of identification is required. Invariably, when you delve deeper into the types of ids the Conservatives “approve of”, it becomes clear that they are harder to obtain, require time and effort to obtain, and generally cost more money. That might limit the population that will obtain such ids. It also means that poorer folks in the USA are less likely to obtain such ids, i.e. they cannot vote.

It should be NO SURPRISE that poorer folks in the USA generally tend to vote more liberal and more progressive and less for Conservative causes.

Imagine the surprising coincidence 🙁

The article quotes the ACLU as follows:

Research shows that more than 21 million Americans do not have government-issued photo identification; a disproportionate number of these Americans are low-income, racial and ethnic minorities, and elderly. Voter ID laws have the potential to deny the right to vote to thousands of registered voters who do not have, and, in many instances, cannot obtain the limited identification states accept for voting. Many of these Americans cannot afford to pay for the required documents needed to secure a government-issued photo ID.

[Quote came from this source.]

Conservatives also decry the “voter fraud” that is perpetrated. Amazingly, there IS FRAUD, but all the documentation points to the fact that when it exists, the extent is so minute that is does not change results in any significant way. In another blog here I wrote about a GOP official who claimed that there were 4-5 cases in a county of over 1 million voters.

So, no, the fraud is another bogus reason.

Don’t let Conservatives pull this fraud on you – beat them to the punch, stand up to their fraudulent claims and speak loudly to defeat their efforts to limit voting participation.
 

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