02
Nov 14

Is Money in Politics the Problem? Or is the Problem You and Me?

Money in politics is the problem? It’s part of it. But blaming money is like saying, “Giving lots of candy to children is the cause of their tooth decay”–no, it’s just as much the fact that children haven’t learned to say no to candy, like most adults have. The problem is that children are just…children. They’re supposed to be innocent and impulsive, of course. Nothing wrong with that. But the problem is not so much candy–it’s the person.

The problem with money in politics is the people who are easily swayed by propaganda, and, in the case of politicians being greased by lobbyists, by self interest. The problem is the person.

A percentage of people seeing an ad funded by the Koch brothers slandering a candidate will be skeptical–but a great many people, maybe most, will take the ad’s propaganda in wide-eyed, gape-mouthed, and with no conscious filter at all. They aren’t actually conscious when watching the ad. Their eyes are open, the words are heard on some level, but they’re not bringing enough to the process to be skeptical about it. They are not going to invest energy in checking the facts. As the saying is, they’re being spoon fed.

It’s going to go on. We can try to raise money to provide spots that wake people up to the facts, and that could help–but we could also go for the root of the problem. We can look for ways to show people how they’re asleep when they think they’re awake. And that in itself could startle them into skepticism about the latest production of the Big Lie. It could even startle a congressman into discovering his conscience.

No, I’m not saying that people who have different political opinions from me are low consciousness. I’m saying that almost everyone everywhere is low consciousness, I’m lower consciousness than I should be, and I’m saying that consciousness affects, among other things, how we make social decisions. Including political choices. My *opinion* is that right-wing extremism and blind conservativism is characteristic of low consciousness–and there are studies that suggest that it’s a fear-driven politics, grounded in bigotry–but ultimately, I don’t make a definitive claim about the correspondence. I think–work on consciousness…and see where your conscience takes you. If an increase in the scope of awakeness leads one to choosing a conservative path, so be it.

We can literally become more conscious–more awake. There are paths that offer this possibility.


29
Oct 14

HATRED: It’s a Game.

HATRED. It’s a game…an actual videogame coming in 2015–and may well become the most controversial videogame ever. For good reason.

“The player-character is a mass-killing villain who hates humanity and begins a “genocidal crusade”[1] to kill innocent civilians and police officers.” (That’s wikipedia on this game which is almost self parodying in the name that was chosen for it–HATRED) — so, violence in a game with a reasonably decent heroic player, I accept; but violence where the gamer plays as a serial killer, plays as a vicious mass murderer, no. To me…that’s the difference here.

If one is playing a game when one is taking out clearly defined evil people who prey on the innocent, I feel that’s acceptable. I do play Call of Duty. I’m not saying Call of Duty and other games of that ilk are never problematic–in the case of a psychopathic personality, a person really on the edge, it’s possible that first person shooter games like Call of Duty could contribute to that person’s pathology; that is, they could nudge him (her?) a little more in the direction of acting out violently in the real world, if they’re already leaning that way. *Maybe.*

There was a real life especially vicious gang in Oakland–a small gang, but a gang–that used to ritually play Grand Theft Auto before going out and committing their crimes. But those people were going to be dangerous anyway.

Yet… we’re looking at a game where people are playing a psychokiller and that’s how they WIN, by killing the innocent, by mass murder…some weakminded brutish individuals could conceivably be pushed into unconsciously accepting the game as an kind of endorsement or validation of thrill-killing.

I don’t think any game can make a murderer out of a psychologically healthy person. But there are lots of unhealthy people and some are quite borderline. Low IQ people could also be at risk.

I would be unable to play the game Hatred. I hope it’s not widely released in this country.

Again: The player-character is a mass-killing villain who hates humanity and begins a “genocidal crusade”[1] to kill innocent civilians and police officers


25
Oct 14

I Saw a Spider Throw a Spear…

I saw a SPIDER THROW A TWIG yesterday….I watched Brunhilda the garden spider repair her web after a windy night. I don’t generally like watching spiders as I have primeval-fear issues with them (I suspect, and I am not joking, that some of us have DNA memory from proto-anthropoid ancestors who were at risk of being caught and eaten by giant Shelob-scale spiders) …but I became interested in this very large, bulbous-rumped gold and black garden spider, who was repairing her web in my front yard. I got so involved I gave her a name, Brunhilda (the ones in the big webs are females).

I noticed she was working deftly to disentangle a very small twig from her web; I watched her unfasten it and I was stunned to see her *throw it*, using two forelegs, almost like throwing a spear, to get it clear of her web. I didn’t know they did such things.

She then went about repairing damage to the little radial connectors between the circular webbing. She did something else I didn’t know they did, then–normally, spiders seem to build up webs by extruding them directly from the spinnerets on the tips of their abdomen. But as I looked closely–my face just six inches from this large spider!–I saw this one dip the very tip of a tarsus, the end of her leg, into the glue pot of her spinneret.

She then stretched the web goo *from the tip of her leg* to replace short connective links between two web circles. It was like a paintbrush sort of movement with the tip of the foreleg, or like the use of a brush from a glue pot, but it stretched a short line across. I was impressed with her deftness. And seeing her in the sunlight I had to admit she was rather pretty.

I spent enough time watching that I became rather caught up…as if in a psychological web…and hence named her, and then found myself worrying about her last night during a bit of a rainstorm we had. Then I laughed at myself. Worrying about a spider! What a dolt!

I’m going to go check on her now.


24
Oct 14

Why There Are No Comments Here Now and How WEIRD It’s Become

Weird stuff happens online.

I had to take comments off my blog, because we were getting overwhelmed with spam. But it didn’t work–somehow FOUR THOUSAND spam comments appeared under ONE posting. This was after we’d used the blog’s basic tools to eliminate all comments. Sometimes its porny links, more often it’s stuff that’s pretending to talk about the comment with some “one size fits all” remark like “Wow what a great blog, so stimulating, it makes me think of how great this new potato peeler is, from whammy jammy industries” or something.

But lots of times it’s clumsy translation, via some lame translator app, of Russian or something, coming out like “This is very so much powerful to my good, I get the hots in my golden parts so friendly, thanking at you whole cow.”

And at other times it’s about increasing google hits for some particular product or site–there are companies that do that all day.

So now, I’m told by webmaster: “Okay we have some serious problems here. Thousands of comments appeared with no reason. My tech guy is weirded out. He says there have been a # of “brute force” attempts to hack into the blog. So I am installing some security and also deleting the comments manually—which will take hours—as well as nuking the very folder…This is all what probably burned up my server.”

However we got rid of those too and made it impossible to comment so…we seem to be okay now. I regret the loss of the legit comments along with the zillions of spammy ones. Couldn’t be avoided.

If you want to comment on something here feel free to do it on facebook, or write to me via of the contact info at http://www.john-shirley.com


24
Oct 14

Eat Your Bar Codes! Children in North Africa Wish They Had bar Codes to Eat

Will GMO vegetables and fruit eventually be tinkered so that bar codes grow right on each celery, tomato, ear of corn, pear, and so on?

From a future Monsanto FAQ list: “We’re often asked if the bar codes that are appear on produce,thanks to genetic engineering, are edible. Yes they are! They are part of the skin of each vegetable and fruit, and can be consumed with enjoyment, since each one has a tang designed for the specific fruit or vegetable they appear on. Bar codes grown on our GMO tomatoes have a mild salty taste, since many people enjoy salt on tomatoes. Bar codes on potatoes are mildly buttery. Each bar code is infused with extra vitamins. So enjoy your bar codes–they’re the imprint of good taste, good health, and good engineering!”


18
Oct 14

To the Greedy who Brazenly Blare About the Bible and Demean the Poor

There are many who frantically wave the Bible and claim to reverence it who have scarcely read it; most of them formed their impressions of it from misheard preachers, or heard those who despoiled the riches of the Bible, or who focused on the Bible’s Old Testament barbarities–naturally it is barbarous as the Bible is a product of human beings. (But perhaps a few were inspired human beings.)

Those who blare of the so-called “Prosperity Gospel”, exhorting the hoarding of wealth; sneering at the poor, calling them indolent–certainly these buffoons have never studied the New Testament’s Epistle of James, which comes between Hebrews and 1 Peter. Opinions vary, but it was likely, in large part, dictated to a scribe by James, the brother of Jesus of Nazareth.

Here are relevant selections: “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world…”

“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire…Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.”


14
Oct 14

Child Abuse on the Set of The Walking Dead? Quite Possibly So.

Saw the season premier of The Walking Dead which was well directed, edited, well made– and played out exactly as I assumed it would. It was a pretty disturbing episode but what disturbed me most was not the fiction but the real life bit: there’s a baby in the show, right? They showed a bad guy grabbing the baby, threatening to kill it unless someone disarms. Right. Okay but this was *a real baby* and the real baby was genuinely frightened by the actor. Really frightened. Really small baby. Parents? Off camera, watching. Hey, a paycheck is a paycheck. Baby harmed? Perhaps not. But was it right to *actually* terrify an *actual* baby for your entertainment?

It was not. I’ve often seen really small children on various shows, and you can see they’re unhappy and pressured. They are looking out of shot at their parents…

But this is the worst I’ve seen. That baby was terrified by that actor and what he was doing.

I think they should be called on this.

That baby was terrified and *terrified is hurt*.


09
Oct 14

A Glimmer of Light

I keep having to remind myself…

When I look around at humanity, at human behavior, and I see the innate selfishness of people, the likelihood of otherwise decent human beings becoming icy-hearted monsters overnight should their food and territory be threatened…I have to remind myself that it’s amazing that society, such as it is, works at all.

It’s inspires hope to see mundane, day to day accord; to see people stopping at traffic lights, signalling when they change lanes; to see at least some people picking up their trash as they leave a beach; to see people recycling; to see (some) cops actually trying to help people; to see almost all planes landing safely; to see most people on freeways reaching their destination safely; to see the great majority of people behave civilly in a restaurant or mall; to see people simply checking out books in libraries, and returning them; to see kids at least showing up for school; to see a city fix a water main; to see a functioning, well maintained sewage treatment plant; to see people show up at the voting booth…We take those things for granted. But we shouldn’t.

We’ve forgotten how abundantly possible it is to have social chaos to the point where those simple things are not routine. The fact that they’re possible at all, given human nature, strikes me the way a distant light glimmering from a town would if I were lost in a dark, cold, night-shrouded forest. A distant gleam–yet that glimmer is all around us, in ordinary life.

And look a little further–you can see lawyers working pro bono to get the wrongly convicted freed; to see a corporation with a large program to help children living in foster homes; to see people organizing, with no profit motive, to save elephants from extinction or to provide clean water to sickly children in a far away land…

I keep having to remind myself…


07
Oct 14

The rainbow animation

Watering plants in the sun we see rainbows in the stream. It seems to me that the rainbow is an animation, a sort of cartoon. The rainbow looks quite consistent; true, it wavers in an out of view with the irregularity of the waterflow but it’s usually intact for several seconds. Each individual drop is a prism, very briefly refracting the sun. But each drop is also moving; is on its way from hose to plants. I’m seeing an area of refraction repeated by passing drops, each one offering its individual animation cell for a split second as it passes; it then flies beyond the ideal viewing angle, with respect to my eyes, but a following drop does its own refraction as it too passes.

The overall rainbow is complete with the usual range of colors, vivid primary colors and purple shading to violet, orange to red. The whole image is one finished rainbow, rippling like a banner in the wind. This is remarkable in itself: the animation not just drop by drop at the ideal angle, but laterally expressed into a curving rainbow band. The precision of randomness again seems innately contradictory but it’s simply a beautifully written-out equation; it’s written in air, sunlight, water, gravitation, momentum, velocity, and other insignia, over and over again…


30
Sep 14

REPORT ON the third planet from the sun in system 3991919511

‘To summarize our report 789797 on the civilization occupying the third planet from the sun in system 3991919511 in galaxy 171090891, it is enough to say that this bipedal species succumbed to classic “screen neurological fixation” syndrome. Our team’s final extended observations confirmed that the majority of the species spent most of its time staring into rectangular screens of various sizes, caught up in imagery attuned to their nervous systems, their neuronal firing, and, most of all, stimulation of hormones by symbolic scenarios designed to replicate ancient instinctual responses to visual cues relating to mating, acquisition of resources and protection of territory.

‘In addition, the ubiquitous rectangular screen imagery was thought to be charged with cultural significance, “art”, religious iconography, and “the joy of living in the free marketplace”; these superstitions were persistent, and served to reinforce the glamor of the imagery in all its manifestations. “Social media” provided highly addictive stimuli to personal recognition centers of the brain, and entertainment media provided further stimuli, by proxy, to areas associated with sexual congress and violent self assertion. Reinforcement of familiar “memes” stimulated release of other neurological chemicals associated with maternal reassurance.

‘These hypnotic pattern fixations prevented a wider awareness of existential risk, hence the majority of the species was increasingly unlikely to act on indications of risk and were unable to counter certain more goal-driven segments of the population who were adding exponentially to environmental damage. The species reached mass terminus after about 259 thousand years of expansion…’