May, 2016

May 16

Obama Works Toward Nuclear Disarmament. Is He a Good Man?

“Obama’s Hiroshima visit strengthens his call for nuclear disarmament” says the headline from the Guardian.

And yes some powerful people really do work for a better world.

You think Pres Obama’s support of the new pacific trade agreement is bad? Could be. But he insists it requires new environmental rules and in the long run will help America, pushing back against Chinese trade dominance. He also feels it’s an “on balance” thing–this has deficits for us but *on balance* it will help the economy over the long haul. He could be wrong! But that’s what he thinks: a gain for American in the long run.

You think his use of drones to take out al Qaeda, Taliban, and Isis operatives is bad? He’s changed the protocol for it to try his best to reduce civilian casualties and they’re doing far fewer of the strikes now. He feels that he has to keep terrorist organizations off balance and that it’s having a beneficial effect overall. I will guess that he feels that ethically it’s the best outcome in the long run; that it’s overall a gain for the world at large as well as Americans. I would guess that someone gets chewed out, or fired, when he finds out there was a sloppy targeting. Maybe he’s WRONG to authorize drone strikes. But it’s evident to me he sincerely believes it will be a gain for everyone over all, to take out terrorist and extremist leadership. The intended targets are, after all, people who advocate throwing acid in the faces of young girls for wanting an education.

Going back, his use of Wall Street connected people in his administration–he felt that in order to get banks and other investors *investing* again, he had to open up dialogue with them through intermediaries, and show he wasn’t hostile, even though he was pushing reforms. Maybe he wasn’t tough enough–or maybe the GOP blocked his efforts at tougher reform. They certainly blocked his jobs program.

Did he make a mistake on fracking? I think so. I think fracking’s going to be banned state by state in this country. He can make mistakes. But the guy is sincerely trying to work for a better world.

May 16

Campus Fraternities are an Embarrassment to the 21st century

“Condoms, tampons and feces: Oregon fraternity suspended after ‘disgraceful’ trashing of Shasta Lake” headline from the LA Times

Headline from the Daily Dot: “fraternity rape culture is even bigger than you think”

Since college fraternities have no real relevance in the 21st century–not a valid relevance–and since they consistently are a hotbed for over-drinking, the idiotic abuse of pharmaceutical drugs, sadistic and even lethal hazing, and the spreading of vile subcultures like racism and rape culture; and since they seem to teach a sense of unreasonable entitlement, academia should just end “fraternal” institutions. It’s slow to do it because of the old-boy donations stream. Colleges should do the right thing–something they have a long history of not doing.

The “Greek system” is an engine of old fashioned classism; it is utterly meaningless to today’s education–it’s only a device for insularity, a campus echo chamber of the dregs of 19th century values.

“Boolah boolah boolah rah rah rah, Kappa Bagel Frinka!”

We should reply, “Shut up and fuck off you left over parasite from the age of robber barons and Jim Crow.”

May 16

Hillary, Bernie, and the Big Picture

–Several points I want to make about the Democratic candidates for President:
       1) Bernie Sanders has no responsibility to quit the Presidential race before the Democratic convention has made its choice. He genuinely has a purpose in continuing through the convention, whether he’s likely to be nominated or not. At the very least, Bernie is creating a political base that will have enough momentum to overturn the right-wing dominance of the House and the Senate. Overall, he is like a lens focusing national consensus on political reform: a genuine reform of campaign financing, the breaking up of financial “institutions” (is a pirate ship an institution?) into smaller, more regulated, less threatening structures; on meaningful regulation and single payer health care; on a reduction of military spending; on much better wages and conditions for Labor. . .And in order to accomplish that he needs to rally people into political determination and political action. This grassroots organization can be extended beyond the Presidential election, even if Hillary Clinton is elected. Sanders accomplishes this most effectively by using the pulpit, the stage, of the Presidential primary, to continue to rally his people toward that political revolution…
     I’ll just add, while I think Sanders has a plan for reforming banks if he’s elected, he doesn’t need to have every step of that reform laid out now–he can organize that once elected, as long as we know what his goals are. And we do.
      2) The right for years has has been exaggerating about the Clintons; has been spreading assumptions, jumping to conclusions, smearing them. The Clintons made their mistakes–the pumping up of prisons, the weakening of financial regulations. They have learned from their mistakes. And there’s nothing wrong with an ex-president being paid hefty speaker’s fees, and nothing wrong with a stateswoman, a person trying to rally support for the Clinton Foundation, with charging her own fees to speak. It’s done every damn day. It’s called lecturing. People did it for a living going back centuries.
There is no evidence–just accusations being taken as evidence–that she gave preference to any donors to the Clinton Foundation. The Clintons do not make money themselves from the Foundation, either. The problem is that the left, perhaps spurred by right-wing operatives, have been picking up on conservative exaggerations and slanders re Hillary Clinton–the new, young left has been appropriating these exaggerations from the right and even the far right. In short, they’re dancing on puppet strings for the right, when they attack her as corrupt–when there is really no evidence of actual corruption.
      3) Conservatives, Libertarians, Theocrats, Trumpies–they all benefit when Bernie supporters lose their objectivity and spout insults and inject blind emotion into the contest; Clinton supporters are helping Trumpies and righties when they lose objectivity and rage at Bernie supporters. The divisiveness will divide the vote on the left; to some extent already has. The fascists love it when we on the left call each other fascists.
     4) I am voting for Bernie in the primary–and again in the general election IF he gets the nomination… If Clinton gets the nomination I’ll vote for her. Clinton fans should vote for Bernie if he gets the nomination; Bernie followers should vote for Clinton if she gets it. And I am confident that Bernie Sanders will endorse Hillary Clinton if she gets the nomination from the Democratic Party.
      And if we vote in the general election for whoever is chosen as the Democratic Party’s nominee–each vote will trumpet a resounding No! to right-wing political opportunism and manipulation.

May 16

Does God Exist? Yes and No

When people say they’ve lost their religious faith, the core reason is nearly always that they observe the world to be a mess, that cruelty and despair are integral to the world–probably to the cosmos–and God does not intervene, “hence God doesn’t exist”. I don’t blame them. They’re both right, and wrong, in my view.

There are various rationales offered to us for the existence of evil in the world–”it’s necessary so that free will can also exist” is one–but in fact evil probably exists because nature simply iterates that way, ramifying so that we receive “evil” (relative to our consensus reality) along with “blessings”. But a “blessing” seems doomed to be crushed eventually, as if it were a happy woman suddenly abducted and murdered: victimized by the infinite rolling of the cosmic dice; by entropy, and the bitter shortness of life; by death.

To me, there is no God per se, but that doesn’t mean there’s no Supreme Being of any kind. The mistake is in assuming that there must be a higher being defined by our childish notions. “The Supreme Being has to be our creator!” Then who created the creator? “The Supreme Being has to have deliberately designed this Grand Absurdity!” Says who? Primitive tribesmen in the Middle East 2500 years ago? “It has to be all-loving and good according to what humanity thinks is loving and good.” Same answer, and that presumption is your need for a perpetual parent which you superimpose on the world.

And these notions of your God’s loving kindness are strange in the context of the Bible where God does at least as much mass murdering as blessing–drowning millions of babies in the Great Flood for example. This same fellow sends billions of people to burn for all eternity for entirely arbitrary reasons. That should have been a sign from the first something was wrong with the whole concept.

But that doesn’t mean there’s no supreme, or higher being. Sunlight can be cruel. Be congruent with its nature, however, and it cultivates you. Darkness can be a blessing–modify harsh sunlight with shade, a modicum of darkness. . .

To me this pervasive, intrinsic consciousness–this hypothetical higher being– has some background, rootlike connection to our own consciousnesses. Then again, it’s like a river one goes to for irrigation– you must fetch out the water yourself, but it is, by its nature, always on offer. Just remember that a river is a natural force that might drown you as well as quench your thirst. The Nile is not kind or unkind. Nor is it a distinct god. Tillich said, the being that pervades the cosmos is “not a person–but not less than a person”.

It seems to provide a mysterious kind of guidance, and nourishment. But it’s not going to listen to your prayers for money or physical healing or saving innocents–it’s for us to save the innocents. The consciousness intrinsic to the universe is beyond listening to us as individuals…Do you hear the individual splash of every raindrop that falls in every storm?

Childish, self pitying notions of its obligations to us merely obscure it from view. And when we look for it, we tend to look with the wrong part of ourselves.

May 16

Sanders Supporters will Probably be Smart Enough, When the Time Comes..

I THINK that Bernie Sanders will inevitably endorse Clinton–if she gets the nomination–and when he endorses her *most* Sanders supporters will vote for her in the general election. Maybe a fair number won’t. But the majority will. And I think that’ll just squeeze Trump out.

It has to work out like that, if the country is not to slide into the dust-heap of the lowest of the lowest common denominator–because apparently voters in Ohio and many other states don’t care about Trump’s racist statements (which he’s now trying to cover up), they don’t care about his flagrant slobbering after his daughter, his poor understanding (to put it kindly) of foreign policy, his floating the idea of killing lots of women and children in the Middle East because they’re the families (he supposes) of terrorists, his verbal degradation of women, his wife’s posing (presumably with his approval) in the nude for a major magazine, GQ, *while chained to a briefcase full of money*, his deliberately catalyzing violence at his rallies, his association with white supremacy, his cartoonlike plans to close the southern border–none of that bothers them.

So we have to hope that Sanders supporters, if Hillary Clinton gets the nomination–she probably will–will be forward-thinking enough to vote for her. I know he’ll be intelligent enough to endorse her.

If you wonder WHY Trump’s supporters follow him no matter what–it’s the power of magical thinking. The power of the primitive mind. The power of the subconscious:


May 16


“And so, Mr Trump, as the Secretary General of the United Nations…”

“And I, as head of NASA…”

“And I as head of the Republican Party…”

“All of us wish to give you this great honor. We, and millions of others, have agreed that you should be *king of your own planet!*”

“Wow. I can’t say I’m surprised, I should be–I mean, sure, it sounds like I haven’t got modesty, but I do, but let’s face it, let’s be honest, I SHOULD be king of the world.”

“Ah, yes, BUT this world is too small for you, sir–we have one that’s hundreds and hundreds of times bigger than this world…it’s a gas giant in the Phlebotnick System, and we feel that you deserve to be–and should have the honor of being…the sole king of it.”

“Wow. Being king, I make all my own decisions, right, no congress! I mean, how great is that? How many people would I rule over?”

“Well–it’s a very big planet. So–just imagine how many there are there!”

“Billions and maybe trillions, right? But how would I get there?”

“Oh we’ve arranged fast transportation for you! You’ll be going at something approaching the speed of light!

“And you can come back anytime you can!”

“What? What do you mean ‘anytime I can’?”

“Oh, oh he means, anytime you want to come, why you just get in the spaceship, and fire her up and…you’ll see!”

“Okay, but I want that in writing.”

“Certainly. We’ll fax it to you.”

“And I’d better bring my wife. Or maybe she could come later. Don’t want to disappoint the ladies who want to meet the king on this planet!”

“You won’t be disappointing any ladies there, Mr Trump! Every lady there will be available to…meet you.”

“Now, Mr Trump–right this way, sir–we’ll send you out immediately. You can have a press conference there the instant you arrive. Talk to anyone you like!”

“Ha! No Hillary there, right? No Paul Ryan?”

“They definitely don’t plan to go!”

“Right through this door sir! Make yourself comfortable in that chair.”

“This chair is pretty  comfortable, not bad. But damn, its strapping me in, like it’s grabbing me and holding me down, here. I need a designer chair, I know a guy in Italy…”

“No time for that, Mr Trump! Bon Voyage!”

“Hey wait! What about a lunch on the way!”

“Your needs will all be taken care of! Good bye!”

“Lock the door down, Bill. Step back…farther…countdown begins…”

*** *** ***

“It’s gone! A successful launch!”

“Let’s go people, we don’t want to be late for the worldwide celebration!”

The Happy Ending

Inspired by: Kepler Has Nearly Doubled the Number of Confirmed Exoplanets in Our Galaxy

May 16

GAME OF THRONES Tears Apart Newborn Babies For Entertainment

Tried to give GAME OF THRONES another chance but when they entertained us tonight by having a pack of vicious dogs tear apart a baby, they crossed a line, and I have ceased watching again.

When I’ve complained about a television program that is sadistic, using cruelty for entertainment without any balance, without any moral center to refer to, someone says, “But oh John, you have published some very dark fiction, some violent fiction indeed…” But you know, there were always lines I wouldn’t cross, and there was always a moral center. Occasionally I probably got carried away with some act of revenge in a story or novel–but then I wasn’t writing for a television show going out to millions and, anyway, I would never have a baby (and his mother) torn apart by vicious dogs. The way they dramatize it, too, it just doesn’t feel like it’s a protest against the horrors innocents are subjected to. It feels like, “just more entertainment.” Like “useful torture” on “”24″ and Fear the Walking Dead”, and beloved characters eaten alive, in excruciating detail, on “The Walking Dead.”

As seven billion people increase to 9 billion people on a climate changed Earth where food will likely be scarce and billions pushed into desperate migration, empathy will become a rare gem. It will be around–but it’ll be rare and precious. How long before we make the cruelty more than fictional television, and put the Romans to shame, leaving their timid little bread-and-circus entertainments far behind? Are we now engaged in a televised preparation for that society?

Do we really have to degrade ourselves in advance?