Archive for September, 2020

The power of propaganda

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

So, https://golf.com/lifestyle/celebrities/how-why-president-trump-cheats-golf-playing-tiger-woods/ tells what I suspect is a pretty accurate story about Trump’s character. We know that almost all of his business ventures have ended up bankrupt – which I think is what he’s trying to do to the country itself, so his conservative buddies can steal all of our social security money.

However, conservative news sources sell the idea that Trump is a good businessman, and conservatives buy the lie. There’s no convincing them that it is a lie – and here’s the part I find really puzzling. Over and over it Trump gets *caught* in his lies – like his firing of the pandemic team, his insistence that the pandemic would blow over, etc – and yet I can safely bet that my conservative friends have either already forgotten this fact or will conveniently forget it when it comes time to vote.

 

Sheer Covers Indigo Girls – Dead Man’s Hill

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

http://sheer.us/stuff/2020/SheerCoversIndigoGirls-DeadMansHill.mp3

Dear Republican Party

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

One thing you don’t seem to have thought of as you continue your social destruction fest is that things generally do not travel *up* slippery slopes. Every time Mitch gallops down another level of dishonorability it brings politics in our country down another level – and it’s not likely to go back up. Which means among other things that once Democrats are in power they’re likely to play every bit as dirty as Mitch has.

 

You all have proven to us lefties – as if we had any real doubt – that you have no honor at all. And you’ve made the world a much worse place. I hope you feel at least a little bit of shame. You’re lucky that there *isn’t* a higher power in control of all this, because if there was any sort of karma implemented at all you all would get to experience the suffering – which is vast – that you have visited on others. With everything from wars over false pretenses to prep up the petrodollar to rigging the supreme court to tax breaks for the rich to exporting total bullshit conspiracy theories to get people who are repeatedly hurt by your policies to vote for them, you are the worst.

 

Dear Democratic Party

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

So, I’ve repeatedly offered my (*very* experienced, valued at $100+/hr) time to help the democrats suck less at IT. In particular they need to find a way to work together to keep track of which numbers in their database are expired and cull them, they need to communicate the cull lists and with the various democratic groups, and they need to also stop calling so often for money that when they call to GOTV people automatically assume it’s another beg-a-thon call. All of this hurts their ultimate goal of getting people elected and also burns volunteer hours.

 

They also really should stop with the fake surveys which go directly to /dev/null in order to beg for more money. (To be fair, this isn’t a partisan thing, the republicans do the same thing)

 

They have repeatedly ignored me. I’m assuming there’s nepotism in the democrat IT department involved, although it’s possible that they just are so internally chaotic that the message does not get through.

 

One thing I’ve noticed about the Democrats is they have a real problem with triage. I agree that nearly all the things that people bring up as important to fix are important, but there’s certainly one thing that’s *most* important. In general left leaning groups seem to fall for identity politics and everyone seems to think that the item hurting *them* is the most important, not *the item hurting the most people*. This leads to everyone wanting to throw energy into their special hobby-horse while really large problems like ICE, the republican cheatiness surrounding gerrymandering, the republican cheatiness surrounding fair play in general (i.e. Mitch), and whatnot go unfixed.

 

I did recently buy a interesting book on possible ways to unfuck America’s deeply fucked political system. (Actually, strictly speaking, it’s not fucked – it does exactly what the 1% want it to do. It just kind of shafts the rest of us)

 

Anyway, the IT brokenness underlines how little they care about volunteer hours – I volunteered to do phone banking for GOTV in 2018 but 90% of the calls were wrong numbers, people with so much call fatigue that they hung up almost immediately, or people who were not eligible to vote. This made me feel extremely non-valued as a volunteer. I’ve repeatedly emailed my contact offering to help fix the situation but they have completely ignored me thus far. I suspect you have to earn your place in the organization not by having good ideas and good skills but by putting in a certain number of hours at pointless tasks.

One political thing that I think really needs to happen

Friday, September 18th, 2020

So, I guess it’s probably unlikely that the democrats would do this if they came into power, and we already know the conservatives are the cheatier of the two parties, at least when it comes to voter suppression and gerrymandering, so they’re not likely to do this, but it would be nice if we could get bipartisan support for the idea that we’re going to block cheating and corruption wherever it occurs.

What we really *don’t* want the democrats to do is redo all the republican gerrymandering to be democratic gerrymandering. A computer, driven by rules that both sides agree to and agree are equally fair to both sides, should draw district lines going forward.

We also don’t want the democrats to turn around and figure out how to do voter suppression on the republicans the way the republicans have done on the democrats. We should watch for all forms of voter suppression and suppress them.

And, of course, there are many other ways to cheat. Citizens United should be overturned, for example, as it represents a clear and obvious cheatyness. In general we should probably be building legal structures that correct for cheating and corruption as it occurs. Parties shouldn’t be delighted that they’ve found a way to cheat, they should be working to make any ways found to cheat impossible.

One thought that did just occur to me is maybe we  should ban political parties in general. They seem to lead to a lot of bad behavior.

Another thing that would be nice is to build the moral into both parties that government officials should represent everyone – especially officials like the president. Trump should have been removed from office for failing to even pretend to represent half of America – but, of course, the conservatives, by their actions, care more about winning than about continuing to have a country worth living in.

Intelligence is no defense

Friday, September 18th, 2020

So one of the things that’s scary about the political direction the world has been taking lately, and the upcoming election, is I recently got a reminder that intelligence is not a defense against propaganda. One of the problems I think we run into is that we humans are to a certain extent herd beasts and so we tend to absorb without even thinking about it the points of view of the people around us.

 

I’ve been continuing to discuss with my friend who is convinced the chinese communist party is the source of all the trouble in the world, that BLM and Antifa are fronts for the CCP, and that Biden is a Chinese puppet. I do agree that Biden clearly sees China as a ally – and that the TPP was a shameful attempt to pass a backroom deal without letting it see the light of day. But I also think that BLM and Antifa are primarily what it says on the label – a organization about police murdering black folk and a not-even-organized group of people fighting facism. I think Trump clearly represents facism – his attempts to rig the election by destroying the post office during a pandemic, his statements about how he should be allowed to have three terms, and his general behavior as if he were king, not president, and making no attempt to represent more than half of his constituents underline this.

 

Anyway, this friend of mine is clearly intelligent and capable and yet from my point of view they are deeply bought into a conspiracy theory that I suspect is being pushed by conservatives as one of the many examples of their motto “If you can’t win, cheat.”. It wouldn’t actually make sense for most of America to back the conservative party as it currently stands so they’re trying for a disinformation campaign to get people to vote for them anyway.. and clearly at least in a few cases I could mention it seems to be working.

 

Part of the problem here also I suspect is party identity.. a lot of people I think would never vote for Trump if he had “democrat” on the label, and would be horrified by his now clear-as-day white supremacism, his misogyny, all the creepy pictures of him with very young girls and his admitting to doing things like looking in on people in their dressing rooms at the miss america pageant – not to mention his attempt to destroy the post office in order to win, his tax cut which was a gift for the 1% who hardly need it, and let’s also not forget the grab ’em by the pussy tape, etc

 

By the way, does anyone want to bet about whether we’ll “wait until the election” to elect a new supreme court justice as the republicans insisted we do during the obama years? No, of course not, Mitch McCheaterson will probably have a pro-Trump-as-king-anti-abortion justice in the court before the week is over.

 

Anyway, it’s rather terrifying to me that intelligence is no defense – what ends up happening is intelligence ends up getting used to sell people on the point of view they’ve already adopted. Of course this underlines that I have no real way of knowing whether my POV is valid either – there’s kind of this hopeless sinking in quicksand feeling – but I do know that conservatives in general are headed in the wrong direction from my POV because I don’t *want* to return to the 1950s, or even stay where we are – I don’t want to live in a world where cops shoot black folk whenever they want, or where women are carefully held in subjugation, or where the president can destroy large swaths of services that are inconvenient for him (i.e. the post office)

 

I honestly think Trump belongs in jail far more than Hillary ever possibly could have, that conservatives are largely bought in on total bullshit stories, that the conservative entertainment shows like Fox and Friends are hugely damaging to the future of our country as well as selling non-stop lies and propaganda..

 

And let’s please all remember that Trump fired most of the pandemic team a few years ago, and that Trump’s repeated lies and inability to comprehend the situation led to the USA having 4% of the world’s population but 22% of the COVID cases. Well, that combined with the USA having capitalism as a disease.

 

It did also occur to me that by making sure they confirm whatever awful partisan judge Trump wants before the election, the Senate will be demonstrating that acting against the majority of the country is more important to them than acting in the best interests of the country (since what they really should be spending their time on right now is helping with COVID and the corresponding crash)

 

I also note that I would guess that at least a third of the lawmakers electing that judge have paid for a mistress’s abortion. I am certain Trump has. No hypocrisy here.

Sharing and the twilight zone

Monday, September 14th, 2020

So, this is going to be another of those multifaceted and meandering posts. It will definitely fall at least somewhat under the tinfoil hat heading.

First of all, I was having a conversation with a somewhat right leaning friend and it underlined for me, not for the first time, how scary the situation we’re in is. Numerous people on the right have been trying to stir up fear and anger over a number of things, and they’ve clearly succeeded. The willingness of the right to publish utter fiction and claim it as fact has gotten to be a big problem. No, antifa isn’t starting fires, no, antifa isn’t marxist, no, BLM isn’t marxist, yes, it is possible to be in favor of a increased level of socialism without being marxist.

(I’ve talked about elsewhere how we need a new -ism, since everything we’ve tried so far doesn’t work. Lately I’ve been thinking about how the command and control aspect of any society needs to have a whole lot of active protection against corruption because every human enterprise seems to, entropy-like, move steadily more towards corruption)

 

Anyway, one thing the right loves to do is conflate the social safety net democracy ideals of Bernie with the authoritarian ideals of i.e. CCP, CCCP, etc. I know it’s incredibly tempting to mix the resource allocation system and command and control axises – after all, most people can’t think about there being several different things going on here – but it is, ultimately, a lie – and part of how the powers that be get away with a lot of the awful they get away with.

 

It’s funny that so many find the idea of socialism so frightening since at it’s root, all it is is the idea that we share. Of course, there’s a lot of places where earth is dramatically against sharing that it would be a far better place if it was for sharing. Think about how many relationships have ended because of ‘cheating’ – we are wired to fall in love more than once, but the very stupid memetics this place runs on try their hardest to program us to think sharing is bad – and not just in a sexual partner sense. This whole anti-immigrant thing is a dramatic case of us being terrified at the idea of sharing. It’s really rather sad.

 

I was thinking while I was doing some experimenting with chord progressions earlier today how if I were running a country that had a whole lot of people wanting to move to it, i’d be tryign to come up with the technologies to welcome those people with open arms, and not to have any shortages. However, we seem to love the resource allocation system of idiocy and we’re determined to make sure Earth doesn’t turn into a utopia no matter what – so we skid steadily more dystopic.

 

Anyway, one of the thoughts I wanted to talk about is that I talk a lot about how we have enough computing power in our minds to render reality out of whole cloth, and I talk about wanting to be able to control this so I can experience specific realities – and I talk about this as being one of the forms of real wealth that is far more valuable than dollars (with the other form being friends) – but, one possible explanation for the steadily more bizarre relations between the left and right is that in fact all of us are always in realities rendered by our minds and just trading data back and forth to appear in each other’s experiences, and the right is dreaming a dramatically different dream than the left. It seems believable to me that there are in fact two different realities, and the people being led by i.e. Rush and Trump etc are living in a different reality than I am. It’s possible that lies *create* new realities, even, especially if enough people believe them.

 

Anyway, the whole situation is rather scary.. I wonder what my friend would think if he could see the Black Lives Matter flag I fly. Probably he would not be surprised since I have told him I’m to the left of Bernie. (I literally want to create a new resource allocation system – actually i’d probably create several and then have each state vote on which one they’d like to test out, and then let states change as it became clear which one was the winning system)

 

 

Quiz results of shwartz values test

Friday, September 11th, 2020

 

I didn’t really feel like this accurately captured me.. I feel like the benevolence should be higher. I maybe should have thought a little more about the data I was feeding it.

 

Flaws

Wednesday, September 9th, 2020

So, I’ve had quite a few thoughts related to flaws, and to ‘cancel culture’ lately.

On one paw, we clearly have some serious problems that we’re not addressing. I recently watched Bombshell, which made the very good point that the serial sexual abusers fired at Fox news walked away with more money than their abusees did.

On the other paw, I don’t think we want to go down the road of invalidating all art which is created by flawed people. Among other things, whether we like to admit it or not, a lot of artists tend to be flawed people, and we will all be poorer therein if we, for example, decide that we no longer want to read the works of Thomas Jefferson because he owned slaves, or Mark Twain because he used racial epithets.

Now part of why I may be saying this is that I remain a aspiring artist and I have certainly made my own share of mistakes and missteps – especially when I was younger, although also when under the influence of mania. (I’m not entirely sure those count as mine – a lot of them were things that I would never do, even things that I’m horrified by, and I’m trying my hardest to avoid repeating those manic states until I’ve reached a place where I don’t have to worry about repeating those actions. Is it still your decision if it’s not a decision you’d ever make if not for a bug in your hardware that pushes your neural circuitry past the shannon limit?). So perhaps I don’t want to be cancelled myself.

But beyond that I do also think that ceasing to enjoy the works of art of i.e. Garrison Keiler or Bill Cosby because of their flaws as individuals makes us all poorer and does not help anybody. It doesn’t undo, in the case of Mr. Cosby, the harm done by his actions. (It does actually kind of break my mind to think that the person who voiced Fat Albert, who I have identified with positive morality, also did the things he did – it does underline something that I want to discuss at length one of these days but am somewhat afraid to, the results of designing a organism via evolution)

Anyway, back to my original topic. One of the things I’ve thought recently is how most of Trump’s flaws are flaws I share, only at a much lower level. I certainly don’t lie every sentence but I also don’t always achieve 100% truth, and I certainly don’t think the only good republican is a dead republican but I am angry at members of the GOP for the harm they have brought upon us all year after year. I don’t generally embrace every nutwing conspiracy theory but I occasionally flirt with them.

I do feel I have to draw a distinction here at one point, though. One flaw Trump has that I do not is he is basically a thief, a con man, and a sham artist, whereas I create real things that do what they say they will do on the label. Sometimes with some flaws, especially in the alpha and beta releases, but I am not a con man. Still, I share enough of Trump’s flaws that I often wonder about my condemnation of him.

I do pity him, especially in the corner he’s painted himself in with his extreme debts to the Russian mafia – I also suspect whoever has Epstein’s tapes also might have some materials to hold over his head. Anyway, obviously he’s got very little freedom and he’s going to be hated for centuries. I suppose he may draw some comfort from knowing that even though history will thoroughly condemn him, he won’t be forgotten.

This, however, brings me to another topic. I don’t believe souls are separated into heaven and hell, there to forever linger. I believe we all continue forward and we run into each other again and again. So I have to believe in some path of redemption, even for Hitler or Trump. Of course, the question as to whether those individuals just get completely reset, all previous knowledge discarded, and invited to try again until they figure out how to be people we’d want to have around us remains a open one. But I do believe in redemption, even for the worst among us.

It’s also interesting to ask whether Trump or Dubya hurt more people. Dubya got almost a million civilians killed with his war over false pretenses, whereas Trump’s lies and preverications about COVID-19 are likely to kill at most 300,000, and probably much less. On the other paw, Trump’s destruction of the post office and encouraging of hate, divisiveness, and stupidity has also diminished all of our quality of lives somewhat. So it’s a difficult calculus to do even if we had a good unit for measuring misery, which we do not as far as I know.

Anyway, the thought of Trump as all of my flaws magnified, plus a few is a disquieting one, without a doubt. The one thing I can say without a doubt is I’d rather be me than him.

The police – thoughts

Saturday, September 5th, 2020

So, I’ve had a number of interactions with the police. More, I would say, than the average person, by a fair amount.

On the positive side of the ledger, my next door neighbor growing up was a police officer – as far as I know, he never fired his weapon at anyone and he retired from the force with honors – despite policing Washington, DC, one of the rougher cities out there at the time. It’s difficult for me to imagine him a white supremacist, or him enacting or condoning violence. Without knowing exactly how I know this, I have this belief that he was a good cop.

Another example I would cite is the car artist Speedycop – I’ve never met him in person but we have a lot of friends in common and we have conversed. Whenever I think of him, I think of the scene in Pirates Of The Carribean where James Norrington says “This is a beautiful sword. I would expect the man who made it to show the same care and devotion in every aspect of his life”. It may not be rational, but the beautiful and carefully executed artwork of Speedycop makes me suspect he is a good cop, and my interactions with him reinforce that belief.

On the other side of that equation, I’ve had police lie in reports about me, I’ve had police utterly convinced I was high even as I explained to them that I was experiencing a transient manic episode – I at one point begged them to take my blood in the hopes that analyzing it would reveal what was going wrong hormonally that I was experiencing semi-blackout mania. They tested for drugs, but no extra blood was taken for research purposes. I will say on the positive side of that that one police officer was clearly planning on beating me and another cop relocated me to his cruiser in order to separate me from that individual.

I’ve never been beaten by the cops, but once they came to my door in long beach, accused me of being a squatter, and *threatend* to beat me. They’ve aimed guns at me numerous times. If I were black, I’d already be dead.

Anyway, the point is, I don’t want to live in a world completely without police, but I think a world in which the police were better trained and less well armed would certainly be a better one. They shouldn’t be *able* to tear gas nonviolent protesters for weeks on end, because they *shouldn’t have that much tear gas*. Clearly they’ve been getting too many tax dollars. They shouldn’t have quasi-miliary equipment, and they should have a *lot* of training in de-esclation.

One valid point that the police have made is that you don’t i.e. blame all doctors for one bad doctor, or all plumbers for one bad plumber. On the other paw, the police are different. Plumbers don’t generally kill people with no consequences, for example.

I really don’t know what the right answers are. But something badly needs to change.