Saturday, February 20, 2016


#Powerful #Truths

Disrupting the narrative. The common ground of the Koch Brothers and Bernie Sanders.

Charles Koch’s Friendly Letter to Bernie Sanders Complicates Campaign 2016’s Effort to Make Us All Dumb - Hit & Run : "Last August, Jon Schwarz over at The Intercept wrote a piss-take about how if the dreaded Koch brothers really cared about corporate welfare and criminal justice reform and intervention-skepticism, instead of just cynically using those issues to make their self-interested policy atrocities go down smoother, then they would be backing the democratic socialist Bernie Sanders...

This kind of binary gotcha game, in which there are forever only Doors #1 and #2, and politics always counts 100 times more than decades worth of philosophically based issue advocacy, is an almost-amusing attempt at enforcing tribal norms via cheap rhetorical entertainment...

Complicating such efforts today is a Washington Post op-ed from Charles Koch himself, in which he spends most of it exploring areas of commonality with—yes—Bernie Sanders. Excerpt: FrontPage Magazine 

The senator is upset with a political and economic system that is often rigged to help the privileged few at the expense of everyone else, particularly the least advantaged. He believes that we have a two-tiered society that increasingly dooms millions of our fellow citizens to lives of poverty and hopelessness. He thinks many corporations seek and benefit from corporate welfare while ordinary citizens are denied opportunities and a level playing field. I agree with him. […] [T]he United States' next president must be willing to rethink decades of misguided policies enacted by both parties that are creating a permanent underclass. Our criminal justice system, which is in dire need of reform, is another issue where the senator shares some of my concerns. Families and entire communities are being ripped apart by laws that unjustly destroy the lives of low-level and nonviolent offenders. 

Koch goes on to explain how his policy solutions differ from those of Sanders ("History has proven that a bigger, more controlling, more complex and costlier federal government leaves the disadvantaged less likely to improve their lives"); points out that it's "results, not intentions” that matter, and closes with a passage that reads as much as anything else like a warning shot across the bow of Republicans: 

When it comes to electing our next president, we should reward those candidates, Democrat or Republican, most committed to the principles of a free society. Those principles start with the right to live your life as you see fit as long as you don't infringe on the ability of others to do the same. They include equality before the law, free speech and free markets and treating people with dignity, respect and tolerance. In a society governed by such principles, people succeed by helping others improve their lives. I don't expect to agree with every position a candidate holds, but all Americans deserve a president who, on balance, can demonstrate a commitment to a set of ideas and values that will lead to peace, civility and well-being rather than conflict, contempt and division. When such a candidate emerges, he or she will have my enthusiastic support. "

"The war to which the student is being sent ended in 2014, according to President Obama..."

My finger is far removed from the pulse of the country.  This stuff makes me crazy.  Americans love war, apparently.

Death of the Anti-War Candidate - Hit & Run : "I have a student in one of my classes who told me the other day he had to finish the semester early because he was being deployed to Afghanistan for a second time. The class is about the history of American journalism, so the final lectures cover the media's role in pushing wars like the Iraq War, the war in Afghanistan, and even the war on drugs. I hope I get to cover that with him before he leaves. 

 The war to which the student is being sent ended in 2014, according to President Obama, who said the Afghanistan effort was over even though he had left 10,000 U.S. troops there. The withdrawal of those troops has been postponed a number of times, often at the behest of the weak Afghan government. In 2008, Barack Obama campaigned on the idea that he would end the unpopular Iraq War and focus on prosecuting the war in Afghanistan, which he argued President Bush had ignored by starting a second war in Iraq. Today, the Obama administration has been engaged in the war in Afghanistan longer than the Bush administration prosecuted the Iraq War. There are few pronouncements anymore explaining why the U.S. is in Afghanistan, other than to train Afghan troops and support counterterrorism operations, the mission for many years now. 

 Obama launched his presidential campaign as one of the few candidates who had opposed the Iraq war from the beginning (he was a state senator representing Hyde Park in Chicago in 2003). The introduction of positions on the war in Afghanistan complicated the anti-war narrative, but did not dispel all his supporters of it, as Obama apologists argued when President Obama's Afghanistan surge was being announced. Of course there were authentically anti-war candidates in 2008, on the Democratic and Republican side. The most successful of them was Texas Rep. Ron Paul (R), who also ran in 2012, winning six state primaries. The anti-war candidates on the 2008 Democratic side, like Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich and former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, were relegated to the fringes quickly.

Paul's position on non-intervention and war was unique among Republicans, whose foreign policy platform was captured in the 2000s entirely by philosophies of interventionism. In a 2007 debate, Ron Paul reminded his fellow candidates that George W. Bush ran in 2000 on a platform of "no nation building" and "no policing of the world." There's an even longer tradition of anti-war and non-interventionist sentiments on the right. Yet by the 2008 election, supporters of interventionism argued that "9/11 changed everything." Eight years later, the stalking horse of interventionists is the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a terrorist group that metastasized out of terror groups like Al-Qaeda that were able to operate in the region in large part because of the instability and power vacuums the Iraq War created. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Ron Paul's son, brought up this important critique in the 2016 election cycle, but dropped out after a poor showing in Iowa..."

This kid rocks.

Friday, February 19, 2016

"We define ourselves far too often by our past failures."

Always bears repeating.

Ryan Reynolds Gets It.

"I am genuinely up in arms about something or other..."

"...people are very threatened by a free lifestyle in the United States. They want to bring everyone into the fold, and they don’t like the idea of people living in a free type of manner."

"KB: On your blog, you talk about living a minimalist lifestyle. Would you care to describe this lifestyle and how you got into it?  
 SM: Divorce does that to a man [laughs].  I grew up in a typical American home. My parents were simple people. They didn’t have big material needs. My fondest memories were of camping outside in a little tent. As a kid growing up I had two pairs of shoes, one for the gym and one for school. I had one little suit that I was wore to Church. It was simple. There was never a question of what I was going to wear.  But when I got married, I got into some mass accumulation. 

After the divorce I just wanted a simple life. So I got rid of everything I owned and moved into an Indian teepee in rural Pennsylvania. It was fantastic. I had one trunk with some clothes and a ten speed bike.  After many years of travelling, I had a rule where if I couldn’t fit it into the trunk of my car, then I wouldn’t own it. I never liked to be tied down. I can basically be anywhere, at anytime, in about fifteen minutes. I lived very simply for many years.  

Once I got married in Philadelphia, I opened up a gym, bought my first house, and started accumulating stuff again. It was this constant worry about upkeep. Even though I loved working with people and loved owning my own gym, a lot of the time that I’d be at the gym, I’d just want to get home. Then I’d be at home, and I’d want to get back to the gym.  There was this chronic sense of dissatisfaction. Despite the fact that I had every type of material possession you could possibly imagine.  

 My wife and I ran the gym together. It was pretty tough on our relationship. We eventually broke up, and I moved out of her place. I've always had a dream of living in a small RV. ..

I lived in that van for basically three years. I can’t tell you how happy I was moving around in that RV. I drove across the United States, coast to coast, eight times. A lot of the time I basically lived in it in different towns. There are stringent laws about living in your vehicle. I used to hide out from local authorities [laughs]. It was really interesting because people are very threatened by a free lifestyle in the United States. They want to bring everyone into the fold, and they don’t like the idea of people living in a free type of manner. It threatens them. The norm is for everyone basically to work some job that they don’t really like and to buy stuff that they don’t really need. Eventually I started travelling more and more. I got to the point where the van became more of a nuisance. Right now it’s actually sitting in storage, and I haven’t seen it for two years....  

I have my life’s possessions down to a 90 liter bag.  When you carry your life’s possessions on your back, it's pretty easy to live a minimalist lifestyle...

I don’t really have any aspirations because there’s nothing on this Earth that I want. I want to have enough money to live the free lifestyle that I have...

Every animal on the planet trains and works out when they’re living a natural lifestyle. Only animals that are kept indoors and overfed lose that desire to play.   I had a cat that lived to eighteen years old, and she was still playful even up to the end. I think there’s an instinct in people to play. I think when you’re living a natural lifestyle and eating properly, then it doesn't even really require discipline. The days where I don’t feel like working out, I rest. The days I feel like working out, I I do. So to me, motivation is all part of being the human animal.  

KB: So you live day-by-day, just listening to your body. 
SM: Yup. It just always feels so good to move and to train. It’s just a joy. It’s not a chore...

It’s a little bit trickier because a lot of people aren’t built like me. So I do work on very specific goals. It helps the average person stuck in the material world, working at material jobs. I have to come up with goals that are realistic and attainable, and I try to put a timeline on achieving it. Most people are goal motivated. People want something to work towards. They need an endpoint. With myself, I don’t need that endpoint anymore.  Everybody on the planet shares one thing in common: we’re all going to die, some sooner, some later, some in the next minute or the next hour. As you get a little bit older, you realize that the end is near. And you start to prepare yourself for that. You start to become at peace with that. You just realize that all this human suffering and human striving is basically pretty meaningless.  The true goal should be elevated spiritual consciousness, the part of you that never dies...

Everyone has a higher self. Some people refer to it as the Great Within. Even in AA, they refer to your higher power. But your higher power is not some celestial being sitting on a throne in heaven. It’s all within you.  This was a key point in all the great religious texts. Guru is spelt Gee-You-Are-You. You are your own teacher. Everything you need to know is within. It’s just a matter of unlocking it, and it’s a matter of accepting that. You need to realize that you are God. Every person has the power to be whatever it is that they want to be. The catch is that you have to have the faith of a child. If you have fears or doubts, then you cannot receive it.  

KB: How do you dispel those fears and doubts? 
SM: That’s not to say I don’t have my fears and doubts occasionally. But over the years you just realize that fear is a fraud. There really isn’t anything to fear at all. Once you become aware of these thoughts, you start to awaken to the fact that you were taught to think like this at a very early age. Most people are completely sleep walking. They're not even aware of what they’re telling themselves. 

Once you’re aware, you can cleanse them from your mind. Some people refer to it as enlightenment. You don’t need to live in a cave in the Himalayas to achieve it. Every person is capable of doing it. It’s just about constantly monitoring your thoughts and realizing that they create your reality. 

What you believe is exactly what you’ll get. If you believe in scarcity, then that’s what you’ll experience. If you believe that you’re destined to have a shitty job, a crappy personal life, and a toxic relationship, well, that’s what you’re going to get. If you believe in abundance and in an unlimited universe like I do, then you experience more and more good.  Just realize that any setback you have in your life is the result of your own negative thoughts, fears, and feelings. You need to get control of that and reverse it...  

Life was never meant to be a struggle. So if things are effortful and are a real drag, you know that you’re headed in the wrong direction. Just stop and change directions. Or sometimes just stop and do nothing for a while. Sometimes the best course of action is no action.’s all about self-awareness. I still go through my stuff like everybody does. I’ll still run into human conflicts and fears, but at least I’m aware what needs to be done. Even awareness at a basic level changes everything. It’s amazing what happens. You just start to see more and more goodness in life and things start to get better and better.  It’s a practice—it’s just like working out. When you first start, you can’t run very far without going to mouth breathing. Maybe you can’t do any pushups in the beginning. But when you constantly practice, you get better and better. As you get better, things in your life just fall into the place. It’s almost like a miracle, but the miracle is self-created.

The person who learns to be satisfied with little, will always have enough. That’s an important concept for people. People don’t need a lot of stuff to be happy. You cannot find happiness outside yourself. I don’t care how many cars, how many houses, how much power you have, none of it means a wit. When you’re on your deathbed, it’s not going to matter one bit. It’s what you do with this spiritual life that you’ve been given that’s going to be the key. People just completely lose sight of that sometimes, and they have these really just sad, miserable lives. Everybody has the ability to be very happy, healthy, and prosperous. If they just realize that you don’t get those things from seeking outside yourself, you have to go within.  That’s what Christ meant when he said ‘the kingdom of God is within.'"

"It will take years of deprogramming yourself of cultural conditioning to live life on your terms."

The Look: "I learned how to tell if a man was dead by looking in his eyes. When living in Thailand and Vietnam, you learn how to spot the look. The look is what an old man gives when a short-haired harpy leads him down the streets of Vietnam. The man glances around to see smiling, feminine women everywhere. He may even see an older man with one of those smiling women. “What’s taking you so long,” he hears from her shrill voice. Slowly a realization hits. A man has wasted his life serving an ungrateful nag. He could have had so much more. His soul leaves him. 

 Men over 40 were lied to. The rest of us have no excuse. Before the Internet, men didn’t know any better. They did what worked for their parents generation – meet a nice girl who will become a great wife and mom, get a job, work hard. Men borrowed money for college, married well before they hit their prime, went deep into debt to buy a home to please the Mrs., and allowed an entitled woman to dominate his life. If he was lucky, she wouldn’t divorce him and kidnap his children. What he did was never good enough...

What is essential “man knowledge”? The odds are against you. The system wants you to live an unhappy life. It will take years of deprogramming yourself of cultural conditioning to live life on your terms. It will then take daily effort to remain grounded. No one will ever appreciate you. Deal with it. Men are viewed as pack mules. Working your ass off to support your family is simply what you are supposed to do...

People do not want to be happy, as becoming happy requires you to take action. Miserable people won’t watch a sunset or volunteer at a soup kitchen, even though those activities are proven to increase happiness. Stressed out people aren’t going to meditate. People love being “who they are,” as that requires them to take no effort to change. Avoid those people like the plague, as they are diseased of the mind. 

 90% of men are miserable. 99% of women are miserable. Finding happy friends as a man will be a constant challenge...

The best strategy to find quality people is to become one yourself while ruthlessly cutting out toxic people, users, and manipulators. Ever hour you spend with a moron, unhappy man, or gossip-mongering woman is an hour you’re not spending living your life vision. Women don’t complain because they want change. They complain because that’s what they like to do. Relationship books tell you to listen to your woman’s complaints without doing any mansplaining (that is, helping her solve problems). That’s bullshit...  Gossip and drama are black holes you will not escape from...

Fear is what’s stopping you from living the life you’ve always desired. Know your worth, increase your standards. I’m not anti-marriage, anti-kids, or anti-God. If your life vision is to be a Mormon with 14 kids, who am I to say otherwise? Life is full of magnificent possibilities. I’ve met happily married Muslims, old men who couldn’t imagine ever marrying again and instead choose an expat life, and everyone in between. I’ve met billionaires who are hen-pecked by unattractive women. Though feared in business, they sheepishly will tell you, “Hold on a second, I have to check in with the boss.” 

The more self-respect a man has, the higher standards he demands from women. Men in the West are brain washed to serve women. The real question you should be asking is, “Does she deserve me?” If you settle, you’re dead. That’s not a theory of mine that I came up with after reading a book. I’ve seen the look in the eyes of thousands of men. They are alive…and yet they aren’t."

"This sort of display helps explain why partisan identification among Americans is at or near historic lows."

The Fight Over Scalia's Replacement Shows Why Most People Hate Dems & Reps - Hit & Run : "Dems & Reps both have a good argument in the fight over who should pick the next Supreme Court member. Sadly, the argument is that both sides are sacks of shit.

...when it comes to the argument over whether a president should nominate a person to the Supreme Court in his last year in office, Republicans and Democrats can marshall all sorts of historical prejudice, most of which has been soaking in partisan hypocrisy like housewives' hands used to soak in Palmolive dish detergent. What is not at issue, however, is that the president has the constitutional right to do so and the Senate has the constitutional right not to act. I'm less interested in relitigating the recent and distant past when it comes to unspeakable acts of jurisprudential bullshit (hello, Chuck Schumer! hello, Ted Cruz!) than I am in pointing out how perfectly the current situation illustrates why confidence and trust in government has tanked in the 21st century. 

Before poor old Nino Scalia, the pride of Trenton, had even gone fully cold, Democrats and Republicans were already carping about the replacement process and hurling invective like a troop of howler monkeys playing with its own feces. The parties' handlers in the media—whether actually paid for by GOP or Democrats or simply assuming the mantle of "expert analyst"—went into partisan hyperdrive to walk through just what an outrage it was that Obama would even dare to nominate anyone or that the Senate would refuse to contemplate even a clone of Scalia (well, at least if it was derived using fetal stem cells...). This sort of display helps explain why partisan identification among Americans is at or near historic lows. In Gallup's latest take on the issues, just 26 percent of us will admit to anonymous pollsters on the phone that we are Republicans. That's one point above the historic low. And just 29 percent of us will cop to being a Democrat, which is the lowest recorded figure in Gallup's decades of asking...

I've written before about the problem with low-trust societies: Ironically, they push for more government involvement in everything as a reaction to reduced confidence in government. It's counter-intuitive but there it is. Especially from a libertarian perspective, it's a good idea if government is highly competent and sharply limited in its size, scope, and spending. In fact, the two things go together. I would submit that the decline in party identification and trust in government we've seen in this century makes total sense when you consider how poorly conservative Republicans governed and how poorly liberal Democrats have governed. Bush delivered not simply the opposite of what he promised (lower spending, humble foreign policy) but was incompetent in significant ways (Katrina, the wars, etc.). Obama may have inspired hope but similarly burned good will by deporting immigrants in record numbers, siccing the feds on medical marijuana shops, being pointlessly hawkish, and shoving a still-unpopular health-care bill through on strictly partisan lines. Each president was more than capably aided by their parties and their zealots."

People just really like sex.

Neanderthals and humans interbred 100,000 years ago, says study - The Economic Times: "Neanderthals may have been mating with modern humans 100,000 years ago, tens of thousands of years earlier than previously thought, a new study based on several different methods of DNA analysis has found. Scientists provide the first genetic evidence of a scenario in which early modern humans left the African continent and mixed with now-extinct members of the human family prior to the migration "out of Africa" of the ancestors of present-day non-Africans, less than 65,000 years ago."

"Men and women have competing reproductive goals"

This Chart Shows Who Marries CEOs, Doctors, Chefs and Janitors: "When it comes to falling in love, it’s not just fate that brings people together—sometimes it’s their jobs. We scanned data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014 American Community Survey—which covers 3.5 million households—to find out how people are pairing up. Some of the matches seemed practical (the most common marriage is between grade-school teachers), and others had us questioning Cupid’s aim (why do female dancers have a thing for male welders?). High-earning women (doctors, lawyers) tend to pair up with their economic equals, while middle- and lower-tier women often marry up. In other words, female CEOs tend to marry other CEOs; male CEOs are OK marrying their secretaries."

Female Hypergamy Is Real: "Some readers would demur that hypergamy isn’t sex-specific, pointing out that men also strive to find the best possible lover they can get. My rebuttal is two-part: One, men don’t date up based on social, economic, or occupational status. Men, if and when they are able to date up, do so based almost entirely on women’s looks. We’ve all seen or experienced how men trade up when they’ve come into a financial or social status windfall — younger, hotter women...  So male hypergamy — what is more precisely termed “physiogamy” — is different in kind from female hypergamy. 

"Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in."

ZEN PENCILS » 190. RUMI: The Guest House: "Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (1207-1273) was a Persian poet, scholar and Sufi master. He is a hugely influential figure in Islamic culture, is the most popular poet in the United States and collected translations of his works have sold millions of copies around the world. Rumi was a traditional Muslim preacher and scholar until the age of 37, when he met the Sufi mystic Shams of Tabriz. The two formed an intense friendship and Rumi completely devoted himself to Shams, shunning his usual teachings and disciples. The two were inseparable for three years, until Shams suddenly disappeared (some say he was murdered by Rumi’s followers who were jealous of the two). Rumi was shattered by the loss of his great friend and what followed was the greatest outpouring of heartbreak art in history. Over the next 25 years, produced an astounding amount of poetry, including 3000 love poems to Shams, the prophet Muhammad and God. He also wrote nearly 2000 quatrains (4 line stanzas) and the six-volume spiritual epic The Masnavi (one of the most important books in Islam)."

"Not since 2008."

Feels true.

"Every night we go to sleep, the person we were dies, and we get to make ourselves all over again every day."

Bruce Wayne, The True Mad Scientist Of The DC Universe (Batman #49 SPOILERS) - Bleeding Cool Comic Book, Movie, TV News: "We choose the person we want to be, every day we wake up. Circumstances shape us, sure, but the biggest drive is always ourselves. Every night we go to sleep, the person we were dies, and we get to make ourselves all over again every day. That’s not an uncommon philosophical observation, there’s plenty of good reading on this may I recommend Altruism and Reality: Studies in the Philosophy of the Bodhicaryavatara by Paul Williams? Or, you know, Batman #49 by Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette? Think about that, when you are going to sleep. If all we are is our conscious thoughts, our sentient mind, then every night, that person dies. Is this live, or is it Memorex, as Brundel asked after his first teleportation in The Fly. And our dreams are all the other lives we could, or couldn’t have lived…"

"She probably thinks Mattel has brainwashed male rhesus monkeys into liking toy trucks."

Sex and the Brain | West Hunter: "I just noticed an new article in PNAS – research by Daphna Joel a behavioral neuroscientist at Tel Aviv University. Using MRI, she concludes that the brains of men and women aren’t really different. She suggests that the notion that men and women behave differently may be a myth. She is, of course, utterly full of shit...

We know of many sex differences in the brain – not just volume, not just the fraction of gray matter vs white matter, not just big differences in the incidences of neuropsychiatric disorders like autism and anorexia nervosa. In a few cases (like CAH, or androgen sensitivity, or maybe Turner’s syndrome) we know something about the developmental mechanisms involved. We see analogous differences in animal models: and no, it’s not culture. If you want to determine a brain’s sex from MRI data (without cheating by looking at the Y chromosome) you build a statistical discriminator – you don’t create a continuum of “femaleness” to “maleness,” for the entire brain and score every individual region-by-region to find out where they fall on that male-to-female continuum. 

Moreover, similarity in gross anatomy does not ensure similar behavioral tendencies. If I compared the brain of a pit bull with that of a similar-sized border collie, I doubt if I could see the behavioral differences in the size of the amygdala or whatever. Those behavioral differences exist, they’re innate, they have a physical/genetic basis – but at the moment I couldn’t tell you what brain differences to look for. Could be differences in the distribution of neurotransmitter receptors, or differences in axon length, or dendrite connectivity – lots of things, including many that wouldn’t show up on MRI. Many couldn’t be seen by Ramón y Cajal. As for her expertise on behavioral differences between men and women – she’s a maroon. Reminds me of John Money, and his crap about how you have to learn to be a boy or a girl. Which he knew was false (David Reimer). She probably thinks Mattel has brainwashed male rhesus monkeys into liking toy trucks."

Today in the obvious, 2 > 1. "...divorce tends to double a child’s risk of a serious negative outcome."

Single Motherhood: Worse for children.: "It is true, as Roiphe believes, that most children from single-parent homes turn out fine. In her book, For Better or For Worse, psychologist E. Mavis Hetherington estimated that about 75 percent of children of divorce suffered from no major pathologies. In other words, most children of divorce do not end up depressed, drugged out, or delinquent. But Hetherington, who like Roiphe embraces changing family structures, also was honest enough to admit that divorce tends to double a child’s risk of a serious negative outcome. Specifically, she found that “twenty-five percent of youths from divorced families in comparison to 10 percent from non-divorced families did have serious social, emotional, or psychological problems.” Other research suggests that the children of never-married single parents tend to do somewhat worse than children of divorced single parents...

Take two contemporary social problems: teenage pregnancy and the incarceration of young males. Research by Sara McLanahan at Princeton University suggests that boys are significantly more likely to end up in jail or prison by the time they turn 30 if they are raised by a single mother. Specifically, McLanahan and a colleague found that boys raised in a single-parent household were more than twice as likely to be incarcerated, compared with boys raised in an intact, married home, even after controlling for differences in parental income, education, race, and ethnicity. Research on young men suggests they are less likely to engage in delinquent or illegal behavior when they have the affection, attention, and monitoring of their own mother and father. 

But daughters depend on dads as well. One study by Bruce Ellis of the University of Arizona found that about one-third of girls whose fathers left the home before they turned 6 ended up pregnant as teenagers, compared with just 5 percent of girls whose fathers were there throughout their childhood. This dramatic divide was narrowed a bit when Ellis controlled for parents’ socioeconomic background—but only by a few percentage points. 

The research on this topic suggests that girls raised by single mothers are less likely to be supervised, more likely to engage in early sex, and to end up pregnant compared with girls raised by their own married parents. It’s true that poorer families are more likely to be headed by single mothers. But even factoring out class shows a clear difference. Research by the Economic Mobility Project at Pew suggests that children from intact families are also more likely to rise up the income ladder if they were raised in a low-income family, and less likely to fall into poverty if they were raised in a wealthy family. For instance, according to Pew’s analysis, 54 percent of today’s young adults who grew up in an intact two-parent home in the top-third of household income have remained in the top-third as adults, compared with just 37 percent of today’s young adults who grew up in a wealthy (top-third) but divorced family."

"Watch out, by the way, anytime someone tries to limit the discussion to only two crappy alternatives while positioning theirs as the marginally less worse one."

The Heart of the Matter: It's Not a War, Silly; It's Just an Intervention!: "Should the west launch yet another war in Libya? You might think not, given how calamitous the last one turned out to be—given, in fact, that the results of the last war in Libya have become the basis for the new one!—but fear not, you can always count on The Economist to assure you of why we need yet another war. You see, what it all really comes down to is that, “In a situation where there are no good options, doing nothing may be the worst.” This is the kind of thing I’m starting to think of as Peak Economist—when the magazine can’t come up with an argument even marginally new, insightful, or useful about one of the wars it’s constantly calling for, and so defaults to the kind of sober- and serious-sounding but substantively vapid bromides that have become the trademark of its warmongering. So let’s pause for just a moment—longer, apparently, than the Economist allotted itself before publishing that marvelous bit of self-important onanism—to consider a bit of what’s so embarrassingly stupid about it. 

First, why should “doing nothing” be inherently suspect—especially when the only alternatives The Economist seems able to imagine all involve war? Now, in fairness to The Economist, war is only called war with regard to the “Libyan Civil War.” Western bombings and invasions are instead understood to be mere “intervention.” Seriously—“war” is used three times in the article, and only about the Libyan civil war. Intervention is used four times, and only about a western attack. In fact, I just decided on the spot to make “intervention” one of my favorite war-mongering euphemisms ever, reserved only for the noble actions of the beneficent west and denied to our adversaries such as the Iranians, who can only “meddle” in countries adjacent to them after the west has “intervened” there...

Sorry, I digress…we were talking about why “doing nothing” should be inherently suspect when all The Economist’s alternatives are so demonstrably awful. 

A question: is The Economist arguing that it would have been worse to have done nothing in Iraq rather than invading and occupying the country, killing well over 100,000 civilians and displacing another four million in the process? (Think about those numbers for a moment. Even accounting for all our imperialistic privileges and American Exceptionalism and all that, you could argue that’s kind of a lot of human beings to slaughter and turn into stateless refugees, and that it might possibly have been better to “do nothing” instead.) 

Or would “doing nothing” have been worse in Libya in 2011, when our war (sorry, “intervention”) destroyed the country and turned it into a breeding ground for ISIS? After all, if we’d “done nothing” last time, we probably wouldn’t need another war this time...

Of course, this whole “war or nothing” framework is itself bullshit, driven either by ignorance or propaganda. Now, I don’t think the people who write these articles at The Economist are so dim-witted that they actually can’t imagine a way of conducting foreign policy other than War/Do Nothing. So either they’re so morbidly attracted to war that their desire for more of it is blunting their imagination and occluding their reason, or they know full well that a country as disproportionately powerful and influential as America has countless tools at its disposal—War and Nothing being only two of them—and are deliberately misleading their readers in the hope they’ll be able to gin up another of the wars they seem to crave...

Watch out, by the way, anytime someone tries to limit the discussion to only two crappy alternatives while positioning theirs as the marginally less worse one. I come across this with regard to torture fairly regularly—“Well, if we can’t torture them, what are we supposed to do, offer them tea and crumpets?”— because, right, no one has yet figured out a way to interrogate a criminal suspect or captured enemy that doesn’t involve either waterboarding, on the one hand, or finger sandwiches, on the other. Whether done cynically or clinically, the technique is just a way to pull you into the confines of the box that limits the other person’s thinking, and force a result that logic and reason would otherwise reject...

Those are your only options, people: a full-scale invasion and occupation; the dreaded “do nothing” option; or some nice, sanitary air strikes and a handful of semi-secret troops. Which is it going to be—one of the two really shitty options, or the one that sounds a little less shitty by comparison? If this all feels as manipulative as a game of Three-card Monte, it’s because it is. Pundits who want wars can’t get them unless they convince the public to go along for the ride. And if that involves subterfuge, well, it’s all for the greater good, right?"

Religion, making everything worse since always.

Well, that's fucking terrifying.  

Muslim Beliefs About Sharia | Pew Research Center: "Among those who want sharia to be the law of the land, in 10 of 20 countries where there are adequate samples for analysis at least half say they support penalties such as whippings or cutting off the hands of thieves and robbers...

"In 10 of 20 countries where there are adequate samples for analysis, at least half of Muslims who favor making sharia the law of the land also favor stoning unfaithful spouses. six of the 20 countries where there are adequate samples for analysis, at least half of those who favor making Islamic law the official law also support executing apostates."

I continue to stand by my idea that people are good to the extent they ignore the doctrines of their "infallible" magic books and their gods self-appointed representatives on Earth.

"Everybody for President."

"1. The Guns and Dope Party. 

Robert Anton Wilson was a patron saint of the countercultural underground and Jack-of-all-writerly-trades, serving as associate editor of Playboy from 1965-'71 and authoring some 35 books, including The Illuminatus! Trilogy, co-written with Robert Shea. Wilson gave us the concept of “model agnosticism,” which holds that nothing should be regarded with absolute belief or denial, and once said, “My goal is to try to get people into a state of generalized agnosticism, not agnosticism about God alone but agnosticism about everything." 

In the early 1980s, Wilson founded the anarcho-libertarian Guns and Dope Party, which advocates, 
“(1) guns for those who want them, no guns forced on those who don't want them (pacifists, Quakers etc.); 
(2) drugs for those who want them, no drugs forced on those who don't want them (Christian Scientists, etc.); 
(3) an end to Tsarism and a return to constitutional democracy; and 
(4) equal rights for ostriches.” 

 In direct contrast to the Birthday Party, which promotes Nobody for President, the Guns and Dope Party platform is Everybody for President, and encourages us all to write in our own names at every election. The party also suggests everyone become a “genuine and authorized” tsar, a feat achieved by printing out a free card. Plus, its motto is one anyone could get on board with: "Like what you like, enjoy what you enjoy, don't be afraid to make slurping sounds, and don't take crap from anybody.”"

"Bill lied and hid behind the skirts of his wife and female cabinet members, who had to go out before the cameras and vouch for his veracity, even when it was apparent he was lying."

Younger Women Not Voting for Hillary Because She Killed Feminism - Hit & Run : "Why aren't women en masse—or at least in Democratic primaries and polls—flocking in support of the first female president in U.S. history? Is it that "intersectionality" (the idea that race, class, and gender are so intertwined that even self-identified feminists no longer care first and foremost about gender) now reigns supreme in terms of cultural and political identity? Is it that women have achieved enough equality that the lure of voting for the first female president isn't as big a deal as it would have been even 10 years ago? Is it ageism? Or lack of gratitude by younger women for the struggles their mothers and grandmothers went through? 

Or is it, as Maureen Dowd argues in The New York Times, a result of the leading role that Hillary Clinton played in revealing "feminism" to be a cyncial cover for more-important Democratic Party interests? 

 Hillary and Bill killed the integrity of institutional feminism back in the ’90s — with the help of Albright and [NOW co-founder Gloria] Steinem. Instead of just admitting that he had had an affair with Monica Lewinsky and taking his lumps, Bill lied and hid behind the skirts of his wife and female cabinet members, who had to go out before the cameras and vouch for his veracity, even when it was apparent he was lying. Seeing Albright, the first female secretary of state, give cover to President Clinton was a low point in women’s rights. As was the New York Times op-ed by Steinem, arguing that Lewinsky’s will was not violated, so no feminist principles were violated. What about Clinton humiliating his wife and daughter and female cabinet members?"

"...have you heard about our Lord and Saviour, Supreme Leader Snoke?"


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Return to the African continent.

The things I do for friendship, I swear.  Quick trip for a wedding.  Still, if you've got to go, South Africa seems like the power move.