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Showing posts from June, 2015

The Heterogeneous-Threshold Model of Cyborg Pride

Last Saturday one of my buddies posted this on Facebook:
"My news feed is starting to look like a battle broke out between the Confederates and a skittles factory and I'm just sitting here waiting for the new Minions movie to come out." It turns out that 26 Million Facebookers rainbowed their profile picture following the Supreme Courts ruling on gay weddings and that's a lot of people. It's only 4% of the 650 Million Facebook users, but that seems like the right percentage to me. I was wondering to myself what Big Data analytics the Palo Alto  gang might get from their rat lab and it sounds like they've been gathering a bunch of interesting data from those unwitting subjects. Pride, it has been observed, brings out the worst in us all and calling it gay doesn't make it any less sinful.

Back in 2013 Facebook ran an experiment with the Human Rights Campaign to see how many users would change their profile picture - to an = sign. Then some scientists at F…

Escape from the Clinton Correctional Facility

The Adirondacks in New York State are a beautiful place and as the official state park web site says:
"Summer in the Adirondacks is all about chasing adventure – on mountain trails and mountain bikes, in rivers and lakes, and deep forests shaded by towering pine and balsam trees. Whatever adventure means to you, you'll find it here in Northern New York." For Richard W. Matt, 48 and David Sweat, 35, that meant cutting a hole in their prison cell wall that lead to a steam pipe that led them to freedom. Yes, "a chronic criminal who was a gun-loving high-school dropout from a broken home and a big-spending Romeo" were gallivanting around scenic upstate New York for weeks breathing clean mountain air and drinking from cold, refreshing springs. What a relief it must have been from their daily grind behind the white walls of the temporary home to three thousand souls in Village of Dannemora.
"A violent melee between two factions of inmates broke out in a re…

Hamburger Hill #LustWins

Conventional military wisdom is that hill battles should be avoided if at all possible, the cost in men generally wouldn't be worth the fight. When a commander was ordered to take one they would often question the rationale, "Is this a hill worth dying over?" I've never been able to get a hard on for Gay Marriage (marriage is many things, but gay?) or Same-Sex Marriage (merge maybe, but how do you marry two like things) or homosexual rights in general. Having squandered my life whooping it up with 1%ers in Virginia's horse country, in DC's DuPont Circle (the fruit loop), in San Francisco's hills, in NYC's concrete canyons and LA's shimmering ocean of lights I've never felt the equestrians, K Street lobbyists, Pacific Hights walkers, investment bankers and film studio executives that I've met were anything resembling an oppressed minority - even though they were homosexual. Though they are a minority, they are a very prosperous minority…

Health Care (Tax)

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Bill Toland wrote a pretty good history of America's health care system and how it evolved throughout the 20th Century and though he left out some nuggets who the hell really cares. The point is, it's been a rolling clusterfuck pretty much from day one and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) doesn't change that reality in the slightest. Everyone calls it Obamacare as though, somehow, Obama was the designer and implementer (if you could even call it implemented, which you can't) of this monstrosity - but a better name for the ACA is Obamatax because taxing is what the bill/law has always been about. With taxes comes pain and slow economic growth but we'll all get through it and at the end of the day... we'll still have a health care crisis in America! Because health insurance does not equate to health care - making the world better for insurance companies is a noble goal and bilking dollars for the Federal treasury from an obli…

anti-realism in any of its different forms

John Searle has recently written a book on perception "Seeing Things as They Are: A Theory of Perception" and what's right about it. The condensed version: what you see is what you get. In it he gets after the Bad Argument about perception and it's quite fascinating when you consider how engrained the bad argument is in the poppy fields of philosophy.
The Bad Argument turns on the truism that perception, like all other mental faculties, does not provide us with infallible access to the world. We sometimes get things wrong, from a perceptual point of view. As Ben Cohen says:
Don’t you just hate the difference between seeing things ‘as they are’ and ‘as they ought to be’?
Indeed, I do. And we "see" things every day - we see more in one year than most humans throughout history would see in a lifetime when you take into account the TV, Mags, Internet of things that saturate our perception. But the "difference" in those actual things is not their real…

Don't Look Away

“A person gets from a symbol the meaning he puts into it, and what is one man's comfort and inspiration is another's jest and scorn.”
―Justice Robert Jackson

In 1798 eight of these thirteen stars represented a slave State. The history of this flag is long and storied having gone through many transformations over the years. By 1861 the number of slave stars had risen to 15 and they decided to break away from the United States and form their own country - but those stars remained on that US flag throughout the bloody war to keep them in the Union. And there those stars remained - through reconstruction (occupation), segregation and all the rest - they remain there today.



Slate claims the GOP wants to keep pandering to the Confederate flag as though the GOP had anything to do with it. It wasn't the GOP that put the flag on the State House or wove it into the State Flags of various Southern States. But despite the fact that the Confederate battle flag was resurrected by Democr…

Gran Met gets the hook

JuJu and Voodoo rituals have a powerful effect on human consciousness rooted, as they are, in the deep dark sections of the mind -  The unconscious which informs and illuminates the conscious. In my younger years I had a friend who, by his own admission, renounced Christianity as a result of his participation in voodoo rituals he experienced during years of travel to Haiti. This renunciation of the sky God as a sign of atonement with the earth god(s) lead my friend to some dark places, but did not ruin him. In fact, he was quite successful in this world with a town house on Capitol Hill in DC and a summer house in Wisconsin he was a member of numerous cultural organizations funded by the US Government, authored several fascinating books on American Indian culture and was befriended by rock & roll bands who appreciated his academic knowledg of primitive drum music. I never asked him weather he witnessed or participated in human sacrifice rituals while touring Haiti, but his tales o…

Hokey Shtick

My 7th & 8th grade science teacher was a wonderful man - a naturalist from the old school. He f'n loved science, though he would have despised the casual profanity in the now common expression - being a religious man, member of the church choir and forthrightly pious in the best Christian sense of the word. He had a wonderful sense of humor and loved to engage his students in discovery and scientific experimentation but if he caught one of them scribbling on their desktop (me for instance) he'd whack them HARD across the head with his big open palmed hand. He was a lifelong and committed Democrat and got our school invested in Recycling Programs, tree planting, roadside trash pick-up drives and all the 1970's eco-fads that swept grade schools across America. I loved him, as you can imagine, even with (or maybe because of) the occasional corporal punishment that would probably get him arrested in today's educational environment. He instilled in me a great love of sc…

"think about the issue of gun violence collectively"

A mass murder is usually a tragedy, and certainly the murder that took place yesterday at Emanuel AME Church qualifies as tragic horror. There are no words and no "collective action" that can heal the wounds inflicted on the families and community of Charleston, SC - only time and prayer. I sympathies with the impotence President Obama must feel at moments like this because there really is nothing he can do from Washington DC to undo or sooth the pain this psycho killer's violence inflicted on a good man and some women. I guess his presser today was about as much as he could do and it was good that he addressed the topic but how he can say...
"Now is the time for mourning and for healing. But let's be clear. At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn't happen in other places with this kind of frequency." with a straight face is beyond my abilit…

The descendants of Ham

This troubled soul has been in the news lately and I'm honestly loath to write about her specifically, but rather her as some kind of warped totem of racialist "thinking" in the USA. By now there's probably not a person in America (or the world) who has not heard the story of Rachel Dolezal and her fall from race, but for those who just emerged from their cave today Vox.com breaks it down. Her experiment is not so unique, and if she'd been smart enough to write a book about her experience she'd be treated like a hero instead of a whack job.

And what a book that would be! My suggested title "Black Like Thee". She could tell a fascinating story about what it's like to attend Howard University in Washington, DC as a white woman and what it's like to be a black NAACP leader in Spokane, Washington. As a white artist she attempted to sue Howard University - Dolezal’s lawsuit contended that Howard was “permeated with discriminatory intimidation, r…

God's Not Dead, Russell Wolfe

It's always interesting to see technological change obliterate an established way of doing things:


But it wasn't NETFLIX alone that killed Blockbuster and all the other video stores - There were innovators like Russell Wolfe who also added their blade to the thousand cuts inflicted on "physical media" by digital distribution business models. Mr. Wolfe went after the Pure cinephile and got them to subscribe to his faith based movie service.


One of Wolfe's last efforts was the a heartfelt take down of academic egg heads in the provocatively titled "God's Not Dead" reviewed at Rotten Tomatoes. Funniest review came from Mike McCahill at the Guardian - "Ban this sick filth." But 80% of the people seem to like it.


Maybe Nietzsche was half right.


Update 6/15: I guess I shouldn't just leave it hanging like that with no exposition on this theme. To my mind the term "God is dead" is the most misunderstood expression in modern history - …

The thrill is gone

It looks like the Democratic chickens have come home to their racist roosts. I can't think of any other way for Chris Matthews to explain today's House defeat of the Displaced Workers' Aid legislation.
"Democrats handed President Barack Obama an embarrassing defeat on his trade agenda, blocking final passage of fast-track negotiating authority just hours after he made a rare visit to Capitol Hill to seek their support. In a 126-302 vote Friday, Democrats helped reject a displaced workers’ aid program they usually support that was needed to proceed to a final vote on fast-track authority. The House then quickly voted for the fast-track measure, 219-211, though it won’t go to Obama’s desk unless the worker aid bill also passes."  That's right, "Democrats helped reject" - you know, they "helped" in a bi-partisan manner as they say.


They "helped" 144 times and that's 75% of them helping to poke a stick in the President'…