Sep 14

Bombing the Scumbags is Sometimes killing the Innocent Too

Yes ISIS (ISIL) threatens to overwhelm our allies, to set up a terrorist caliphate; yes they have butchered thousands of innocent people, have taken a large number of women prisoner, have raped and tortured them, taken children to SELL–and yes we have to stop that. What worries me about our effort at stopping these people is that we are currently using bombing attacks to deal with them, and there are civilians in the way–and I’m amazed at how the media hasn’t even mentioned this possibility.

ISIS is known for taking lots of prisoners for various uses; if they’re hiding out in Syria, they’re hiding behind Syrians. And they are exactly the sort of scum to hide behind civilians. President Obama had to do something. I get that he (and most of America) doesn’t want a new US troop force sent into another war. But someone has to bring troops in. The coalition has to do it. It’s the only hope of getting at these mass murderers without killing lots of civilians by accident.

Chances are we won’t know for a long time how many innocents are killed in our bombings. It’s disturbing to consider. The President is between a rock and a hard place.

Sep 14

The Machines Are Screaming

At Best Buy yesterday, the products screamed. Some of them did.

They were smartphones and other devices cabled to tables that would suddenly siren at ear-splitting volume. When people tugged at them with a fractional excess of energy, they began to shriek with alarms. I was there about forty minutes and this happened five times. (No, I didn’t trigger one.) Can you imagine the stress of working there with that happening all day? Each alarm gave out a different repetitive, squalling, nerve wracking sound–it’s own proud, distinct variation. Sometimes it went on for four or five minutes. A Best Buy employee had to come and turn off the things manually each time they squalled.

And in no case did it really appear that anyone was trying to steal them. They were triggered by clumsy adults and impulsive children tugging at them a little.

This alarm–high pitched, piercing, and LOUD–when someone touches a sample item, one they’re being enticed to touch, seems to be a recent innovation at Best Buy and it’s a hamfisted one. It’s as if the store is hysterical, half-mad with fear of shoplifting.

On and on it went. After awhile, I started to understand what the sirens were saying, “HELLLLP! SOMEONE IS STEALING ME! THEY’RE PULLING MY CABLE TOO HARD! OH GOD! I CAN’T BEAR IT! I HAVE TO WEEEP WEEEP WEEEP WEEEP SHRIIIIIIIEEEEK! Please God! If you steal me Best Buy loses several hundred dollars! PLEASE NOOOOOOO! I HAVE TO SCREEEEEEAAAAAAAAM!”

Someone shoot that smart phone and put it out of its misery.

And you know what happened when I went into the parking lot? Right. A car alarm went off. The machines won’t stop screaming.

Sep 14

Hillary and Barack Meant Well. But I Think They’ll Find Out They Were Conned On Fracking

I believe–I have no documentation at hand however–that this is how it came about that Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton promoted fracking: At the time, natural gas was thought to be a good compromise with the fuel industry–and in itself it *was* good. Natural gas was still the fuel biz’s product, making them happy when it was sold, and when it burns, it burns very cleanly. So a win/win.

Then the fuel companies said, in effect, “We will run short of natural gas that is easily reached. But if we do more of this *harmless* process, fracking, we can have natural gas more and using natural gas will reduce pollution.”

It was explained how fracking was “safe”. And she and Obama fell for this. They made the mistake of believing industry “science”.

So they got behind it. Neither one knew that fracking would cause pollution of groundwater and, possibly, earthquakes. They’re probably still both in denial or dragging their feet on it because a world leader hates to reverse course.

But I think they will have to reverse course on this. The evidence is piling up. A consensus is building. People who are part of the Republican base, as well as Democratic, are being hurt by fracking.

As for why Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State “sold it to the world”, as the UK Guardian described it, the administration figured that encouraging more natural gas use globally in place of other more polluting fuels reduces the worst kind of carbon footprint and, importantly, helps stimulate America’s economy by helping American businesses that worked overseas. “We’ll be able to do more investment in America, Barack and Bill, if you push this!”

I’m afraid they were suckered. I hope they realize it soon.

Sep 14

Is An Apocalypse of Violence Coming?

Just a soothing thought to help you sleep…I am very much afraid that by 2035, the social pressures from populace displacement in the wake of rising seas and droughts and other famine-inducing climate problems, along with ever proliferating weaponry, confrontational cultures, xenophobic anxiety, and simple survival fears, will be magnified by crisis level population growth. Population density, past 8 billion, will amplify all those stresses, more crowding increasing tension and competition for scarce resources…leading to a peak of volatility. In short–the chances of violence will be vastly increased.

Violence, en masse and small scale, will reach a dramatic historic peak, a tsunami of bloodletting, a paroxysm of catharsis.

Just waves of violence rolling around the world…and then the population will be much reduced. What a miserable way to do it.

Some glibly cite reports that population is diminishing but in fact it’s only the *rate of increase* that is starting to diminish. According to reports from the UN and other groups, overall population will continue to increase across the globe until around 2050. Meanwhile, we’ll get up to 9 billion people halfway through the century.

If you want to do something about the risk of increased violence from all these factors, work to reduce carbon pollution and thus slow climate change. Education, too, can work against violence so support education and outreach where you can…

Conservation and education, taken together, comprise the best hope for our grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Sep 14

“Piper at the Gates of Hell: An Interview with Cyberpunk Legend John Shirley” — at Vice Magazine’s Motherboard

From the intro: “Dweller of dark Thisworld and Otherworlds, chronicler of “street” and assembler of mechanisms to go beyond, John Shirley breathes forth a smoggy twilight that is the end of the American Dream. A novelist at 18, tutored by Dune’s Frank Herbert, Ursula LeGuin, and Harlan Ellison, Shirley is the closest known phenomenon to being our Edgar Allen Poe.”

To read the whole thing, article and interview with lots of photos, click on the link: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/piper-at-the-gates-of-hell-an-interview-with-cyberpunk-legend-john-shirley

Aug 14

“What Have They Ever Done For Us?” …Inside the Strange and Strangely Familiar Minds of “Sovereign Citizens”

My article on sovereign citizens and assorted rightwingnuts is up THE RAW STORY now. Raw Story titled it “A science fiction author ponders the dystopic landscape of the sovereign citizen mind”

Originally it had the What have They Ever Done For Us? title and this quote from Monty Python heading it:

‘All right… all right… but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order… what have the Romans done for us? –Monty Python’s “Life of Brian”‘

Read the FULL ARTICLE HERE: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/08/26/john-shirley-on-sovereign-citizens-draft/

Aug 14

A Tactic for Reducing Police Violence

It’s hard to imagine any American city or town’s police force going completely gun free (even in the UK the cops have guns–just not on their hips. They have them around though). But we might see a significant improvement in statistics relating to police use of violence if we reorganize police forces into two groups of officers encountering the public, one unarmed, the other armed. Unarmed police–that is, cops armed only with nightsticks and pepper spray, and protected by kevlar–will be sent on most calls.

Other cops–not SWAT, that would be a subdivision of the armed group–would be dispatched if there’s some reason to believe there’s a possible wrongdoer armed with a gun. An armed robbery, for example. The armed cops will get extra training on subduing without killing. They will have the guns but will be encouraged to look for alternatives to using them. This will be an opportunity to rethink police training–but it won’t be disarming police.

If it works in one town to reduce needless killings by police, other towns may be encouraged to try it out.

Aug 14

Women Are Invading America

Looking around in the USA today I notice a disturbing thing. More and more women, and children. Where are they coming from? It’s obvious. What’s clearly happening is, women are coming across the borders, and they’re taking our jobs, and housing.

There are many children around too. And what do they do? They grow up to have jobs. Jobs older adults could have had.

When I hear women talking to one another, using foreign words like “feelings” and “love”, I feel excluded. Why can’t they learn our language? Children also bring new slang into the country, like “Dude, that’s sick”. What does that mean? Can’t they learn our language if they come here? Pretty soon we’re all going to be talking their gabble and the women will impose their culture on us. I for one do not want to “share feelings” whatever that may be.

Aug 14

She Showed It Can Be Done. Women in Men’s Sports.

It’s past time for bringing women players into men’s professonal baseball. Into the Yankees, into the Giants and so on. You know–try them out. If they don’t prove out, don’t show they’ve got the stuff to compete, don’t hire them. But this girl –see the linked article–shows that some women will have the right stuff. Tackle football–nah, I can’t see most women in that, if any. Women are tough but that’s not fair. (Hell I think tackle football is a dangerous sport, prone to causing brain damage, should be flag football instead, but whatever.) And if women can compete with men in golf, baseball, why not let them try out for “men’s” basketball?

There was a time when it was claimed that Japanese men couldn’t physically measure up to compete in American baseball. Those naysayers were proven wrong.

Now it’s time for women in the big leagues. http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/20/living/mone-davis-baseball-sensation-impact-girls-parents/

Aug 14

The United Nations: We Need It. But We need it to be Different.

I’m a big supporter of the United Nations and will remain so, probably, since it does far more good than harm. But its sprawling, badly organized affiliated activities are under-supervised, and can do real damage at times. Here’s an example: A UN force sent to Haiti to help a nation in crisis, accidentally–stupidly, as they should have known better– caused a cholera epidemic, and a great deal of needless death, because of irresponsible disposition of their base’s sewage. The UN so far is not taking responsibility. (Follow LINK for story.)

In other places, UN peacekeepers were under trained, inadequately overseen and some of them committed acts of outrage on women in Africa, and in other lands.

Yet the United Nations really has averted a good many wars, and saved millions of lives, and Unicef (a charity I regularly donate to) is effective in helping impoverished children. There are numerous other useful UN programs. The very *idea* of a United Nations is inspirational, has social value in itself.

Conspiracy theorists worry that the UN has or will have too much power. Sadly the UN in reality has very little power to help the world–it is run democratically, which is good, but it’s too loosely structured, and a great many of its outlying components run things their own way. Hence the Haitian disaster. If there was more intelligent, centralized oversight in the UN, there would be no cholera in Haiti now.

The UN needs to take responsibility when an associated group makes a mistake. It should tackle the health crisis in Haiti, and provide healthcare and clean water to all those people harmed its poor oversight–or to their surviving relatives and neighbors.

Ultimately, the UN needs to be more organized, more rule-driven, not less. Then we’ll see it it become a more effective force for good. Meantime, we cannot do without a United Nations in a world soon to be 8 billion strong; in a world challenged by climate change catastrophe, weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and fanaticism. We need a UN more than ever. But we need a truly ethical, responsible UN.