3 December 2013
The savviest members in the infamous One Percent spend lavish amounts hiring the best propagandists in the world, making malleable advertising people and politicians quite wealthy in their own right. With such minions at hand, the One Percent deflects the average American away from the country’s real problems onto incendiary but basically inconsequential (to the One Percenter) single issues such as abortion and gay marriage.
This is hardly a secret. Entire college textbooks explain how they do it, e.g. Who Rules America. Unfortunately, the average American is ill read, credulous, and easily led. So these $upermen with their single issue bait and sturdy basket of hooks, lines, and sinker myths continue to rule.
Of course, every now and then some member of the moneyed elite ratfinks on the rest. Here’s one explanation featuring comments by billionaire entrepreneur Nick Hanauer:
“Sorry, Folks, Rich People Actually Don’t ‘Create The Jobs’”
Hanauer is a true heretic: “Raise Taxes on Rich to Reward True Job Creators: Nick Hanauer”
I think I’m in love.
3 December 2013
George Orwell’s Big Brother is a standard term now, but those of us in the US should look around and start thinking of Big Uncle. Or maybe we should think of Big Google.
In any event, there’s much to be concerned about, and some of those concerns are the topic of this article:
“Tomgram: Peter Van Buren, 1984 Was an Instruction Manual”
When I was in high school, my classmates and I were worried about dystopias like those depicted in Brave New World and 1984. Alas, the world we now live in looks a lot like a combination of both novels. Ironically, of course, fewer of us worry. I mean, what could be wrong with a country with smart phones and the Internet?
Most of us are aware that our email is monitored, our Internet habits tracked–even if only by eager sellers, but how many of us worry that our cars can be hacked? The death of journalist Michael Hastings brought out some conspiracy theorists who claimed he was killed by car hackers. That’s totally crazy, right? Of course, who’d believe that–or this: “Car Hacking: Your Computer-Controlled Vehicle Could Be Manipulated Remotely”
Do you rest easier knowing that should you piss off the wrong people, your new car could be hacked to send you into a tree at high speed? Do you know your new microwave oven comes with a chip to track your cooking activity?
Oh well, just more reasons for those of us left who still worry to use a privacy-oriented search tool like Ixquick.com? I’m not ready to give up the Internet yet, but I am starting to look over my shoulder.
15 November 2013
What’s the first four syllable obscenity that comes into your mind?
If you aren’t sure about syllables, think in terms of the rhythm and fill in the blanks. For example, shout this out: You no-good, dirty da-da da-da!!
If you didn’t come up with Al-an Green-span, you might consider shifting to this curse in the future. It’s appropriate. It will create some laughs and some blank looks, but ultimately it may produce more shock than some common, overused and hence increasingly ineffective curse. Better yet, you can get away with this one in polite society since, technically at least, these words are not offensive, even though they should.
Not sure this is a curse? Read this: “Alan Greenspan, Doing His Best to Make Things Worse”
Now try using Alan Greenspan as a curse. Be creative. Go for variety.
Hey, you Greenspanning Greenspanner! Go Greenspan yourself and your Alan Greenspanning politics too.
Consider this your duty to history. You’ll be honoring the history of the “span” in the English language. In it’s verb forum, it’s an archaic past tense of “spin.” Appropriate, doncha think?
Apologies to anyone else innocently named Alan or Green or Green+anything. More apologies to anyone unfortunately names Alan Greenspan. If that’s your name, the judge will understand your need to change it.
13 November 2013
This short video by a law professor focuses on the disproportionate number of non-violent offenders who end up being prosecuted and jailed, often for startlingly long terms.
“Why the War On Drugs Looks Even Stupider When You See What Other Countries Do”
Why do we persist in focusing on non-violent criminals?
Could it be because of capitalism?
If you were running a privatized prison, who would you want making office furniture for you–a violent criminal or a doper now off dope?
11 November 2013
Many cruising along happily with the current abundance of fossil fuel from fracking would do well to consider the future. Specifically, people need to understand the well known term Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROI). Soon enough–but not soon enough for me–fracking will become expensive, perhaps even too expensive to warrant the drilling. Read about it here:
“Could Fracking Boom Peter out Sooner Than DOE Expects?”
Enjoy this fleeting illusion of abundance, this sweet spot. Reality will return soon enough.
29 October 2013
Andrew Delbanco hooked me on page three of his College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be when he lists what he thinks a college education should give a graduate. Instead of the usual list of skills or prattle about job opportunities, Delbanco sets down a few habits of mind:
1. A skeptical discontent with the present, informed by a sense of the past.
2. The ability to make connections among seemingly disparate phenomena.
3. Appreciation of the natural world, enhanced by knowledge of science and the arts.
4. A willingness to imagine experience from perspectives other than one’s own.
5. A sense of ethical responsibility. (3)
That list remains a highlight for me, but Delbanco’s historical information about America’s most venerable and venerated colleges and universities provides good context for thinking about where we are today.
Still, even if I’d read no further than page three, I’d still recommend College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be. The ability to write that list tells me that at least one other person shares my view of what should result from a solid liberal education.
25 October 2013
An article from The Stranger, a Seattle weekly, graphically displays the America we live in. One man, one vote? Not if a powerful corporation is a person. In that case, it’s one corporation, millions of votes. Unfortunately, way too few actual people read or investigate much of anything.
“Just Look behind the Curtain”
From what I hear from those who still live in my birth state, 522 will most likely be voted down. If so, chalk one up for the Masters. As one of the comments under the article says, “Rich corporations hate for the Serfs to have choices.”
Free speech collides with fairness and democracy. To quote the lead character in an old, old sit com, “What a revolting development this is.”
Damn, I’m mad.