Friday 31 August 2012

Emerson, Lake & Palmer: The Barbarian


Published on Apr 3, 2012 by aqualungus

Although the composition of the first track, "The Barbarian", was attributed to the three band members, it is an arrangement for rock band of Béla Bartók’s 1911 piano piece, Allegro Barbaro. (Wikipedia)

Wikipedia: Allegro barbaro (Bartók)
Allegro barbaro, BB 63 (Sz. 49), composed in 1911, is one of Béla Bartók's most famous and frequently performed solo piano pieces. The composition is typical of Bartók's style, utilizing folk elements. The work combines Hungarian and Romanian scales; Hungarian peasant music is based on the pentatonic scale, while Romanian music is largely chromatic.

The opening melody of Allegro barbaro is largely pentatonic (the first 22 notes of the melody use a cell that consists only of a whole tone and a minor third, the building block of the pentatonic scale). Indeed, the opening melody uses a Phrygian mode subset.

As noted by Lendvai, like many other compositions by Bartók, also in "Allegro barbaro" numerical series like the Fibonacci sequence are widely employed. As an example, the ostinato F♯ minor pulsating chords occur in groups of 3, 5, 8, or 13 bars.

Wikipedia: Emerson Lake & Palmer (album)
Emerson, Lake & Palmer is the eponymous debut album of British progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, released in 1970. The album was intended not as an effort by a unified band, but as a general collaborative recording session, and as such, some of the tracks are essentially solo pieces.

Wikipedia: Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Emerson, Lake & Palmer, also known as ELP, are a sporadically active English progressive rock supergroup. They found success in the 1970s and have sold over forty million albums and headlined large stadium concerts. The band consists of Keith Emerson (keyboards), Greg Lake (bass guitar, vocals, guitar) and Carl Palmer (drums, percussion). They are one of the most popular and commercially successful progressive rock bands.

Some personal notes
I saw ELP in 1970 at their first concert ever in Toronto Canada. They opened with this piece. I have seen them several times over the years and they remain for me one of the greats. This isn't toe tapping music or a catchy tune. No, this is music which leaves you in stunned awe.


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Thursday 30 August 2012

How to avoid sexual assault: Don't dress like a whore

You open your mouth and on the spur of the moment say something you think may be brilliant or witty or even funny. Unfortunately you don't consider at the moment how time offers the much needed reflection necessary to see the myriad of implications in what you said and how others may have a totally different perspective on your supposed brilliance or wit or humour. Oh my kingdom for the ability to retract what I've written after hitting the Send button! But, too late now. It's out there in cyberspace for the entire world to read, analyse, digest, criticize and even mock and even if you hit the Delete button, it's too late as others have already copied your flight of unreasoned fancy and your miscalculation will come back to haunt you over and over again.

Krista Ford is the niece of Rob Ford, the current major of Toronto, Canada's largest city. She is currently a business student but more importantly, for the purposes of this discussion, she is the former captain of the Toronto Triumph, a team in the Lingerie Football League. (Yes, women playing football dressed in shoulder pads, elbow pads, knee pads, garters, bras, panties, and ice hockey-style helmets.)

Around 6pm on Wednesday, August 29, 2012, Ms. Ford tweeted some advice on how to avoid sexual assault:

Stay alert, walk tall, carry mace, take self-defence classes & don’t dress like a whore. #DontBeAVictim #StreetSmart

Considering her familial connection to the mayor of Toronto and her participation in Lingerie Football, her status is something of a minor celebrity and there has been quite a firestorm today, Thursday August 30. All the major news outlets are covering the story with analysis of this socially unacceptable blaming of women for being raped. Roger Peterson, a Toronto journalist with City News tweeted:

just curious, mace is a prohibited weapon and why are a woman's clothes to blame for a sexual assault

Dear ladies: It's all your fault
Without going off on a rant about Ms. Ford specifically, I underline the idea she expressed: the way a woman dresses contributes to her being sexually harassed. Certainly this idea is not new; it's part of our history. It's the idea that a woman merely by how she looks can excite a man and hence incite him to do things from sexual harassment to sexual assault. It puts the onus squarely on the woman as we seem to accept as some sort of a priori truth that men are always horny and will attempt to copulate with anything that moves. If I stick my finger in a tank full of piranha, shouldn't I expect to get it bitten off?

Ms. Ford is merely repeating what has been said for a very long time by both men and women. Yes, even women in some circles have accepted the idea that men are predatory animals with a sexual urge that sometimes leaves them incapable of rational thought. If a woman gets raped, it's because she incited a man to rape her.

On January 24, 2011 in Toronto, Canada, the Osgoode Hall Law School held a campus safety information session at which members from York security and two male officers from Toronto police 31 Division handed out safety tips to community members. At one point, according to the story, Toronto Police Constable Michael Sanguinetti said, "You know, I think we’re beating around the bush here. I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this, however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized." (my blog: Slutwalk: Support our sluts!)

Two women in Toronto, Sonya Barnett and Heather Jarvis organised a protest march on April 3, 2011 with the message to reject the belief that female rape victims are asking for it. Apparently over 3,000 people participated and judging by the list of other cities sponsoring similar events, this has become something much bigger than a protest against a single Toronto Police constable. In fact, Wikipedia now has an article entitled "Slutwalk".

Women have to have an orgasm to get pregnant
Crazy? Maybe now it's crazy but this idea has existed since just about the beginning of time. Our collective knowledge about sex, our own bodies, and the world in general is so limited and so incomplete, we have absolutely no idea that what we think is the truth is anything but.

In my posting "Rape? No problem! Women must have an orgasm to get pregnant." (Aug 21/2012), I discuss the gaffe committed by Todd Akin, U.S. Representative for Missouri's 2nd congressional district, member of the Republican party, and current candidate for the U.S. Senate during a televised interview. When asked in the case of rape whether a woman who became pregnant should have the option of abortion he replied:

Well you know, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, well how do you, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question. First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.

"If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." Now follow the logic of this one: if a woman gets pregnant after a rape, it means it wasn't rape because if it was rape, truly rape, her body would not have allowed her to get pregnant. I'll add nothing more here as I'm assuming if you're a woman, you are now turning beat red; there is smoke coming out of your ears and you have momentarily lost the power of speech.

Women who take birth control are sluts
When Sandra Fluke, a law student, spoke before House Democratic members to argue for having contraceptives covered by health insurance, radio personality Rush Limbaugh went off on a misogynist tirade the likes of which you'd have to be surprised didn't raise the ire of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). Mr. Limbaugh didn't just stop at calling Fluke a slut but went on to suggest she wanted the government to pay her to have sex as she was having so much sex she can't afford to pay for her own birth control. Was that enough? Apparently not for Rush. As a taxpayer, he added that if the government did pay for her birth control, he wanted her to film her sexual encounters and post the clips so he could watch. (my blog: Rush Limbaugh: That's spelled with one F and one U)

Okay, while Mr. Limbaugh's most egregious of behaviours is so far out in left field it's laughable, one only has to visit a web site for MRAs (Men's Rights Activist) to realise there is an underlying current of hate towards the female sex by certain men which defies belief. Where does this come from? If the birth of these attitudes came about in certain cultural or historical context, why do these attitudes persist today? Does that context exist today?

Rape is inconsiderate
In February 2011, I wrote about the strange case of a Manitoba judge who basically let a man walk free after the man was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman. (my blog: Justice Robert Dewar: rape is inconsiderate) The judge spoke of the woman not wearing a bra, having high heels, skinny dipping without a bathing suit and having plenty of make-up then went on to say that the circumstances were "inviting" and "sex was in the air". This is a male judge I'm talking about. How ingrained are these ideas in our society? I'd say they are very ingrained; more so than we realise.

No means no. Sex was in the air? As I wrote about Justice Dewar, "Money is in the air every time I buy a lottery ticket but that doesn't mean I'm gettin' any."

Final Word
I don't know Krista Ford. Maybe she's nice; maybe she's not. However what she said is not so strange. There is an undercurrent in our society of traditional values and here I'm not using the word "traditional" in a good sense. These values are patriarchal, misogynist, and parochial. They are also myopic but then again, does a fish know he's living in a fishbowl? We would like or hope that people would be better but these incidents, whether brought about by Krista Ford, Todd Akin, Rush Limbaugh or Justice Dewar are a reminder that we collectively have a long way to go. Yes, we pass laws but that doesn't mean we have automatically changed people's minds. Littering is supposed to be a crime but judging by the mess I sometimes see in public, it would seem that people still haven't bought into the idea. If they behave themselves, it's not because they believe it's the right thing to do, it's because they think that policeman over there is going to catch them. It scares me to think what's going to happen when that policeman goes home.


National Post - Aug 30/2012
Rob Ford’s niece Krista gives advice to women after sex assault news conference: ‘Don’t dress like a whore’
by Vidya Kauri

Twitter: Krista Ford @kristaford
I don't want to be Barbie, I want to bench press her. Former LFL LB/FS #13 • Personal Trainer / @demonathletes / Promotional Model / TV Personality. #occupygym

HuffPost Canada - Aug 30/2012
Dear Krista Ford, I Was Sexually Assaulted, but Not Dressed Like a Whore by Alice Moran
Dear a lot of people, but specifically Ms. Krista Ford,

In advance I'd like to say I am sorry. This is not the ideal situation to first acquaint oneself with someone and I am mortified. Sorry! However, under the circumstance, I feel like you owe me a moment of your time, even though we've never met.

The circumstance being you called me a whore.

I should clarify: I'm one of the victims of the recent string of sexual assaults in the Annex. 'Sup? It's nice to make your acquaintance.

HuffPost Canada - Aug 29/2012
Krista Ford Tweet: Rob Ford's Niece Apologizes After Sex Assault Comment Sparks Twitter Backlash

Google image search: Krista Ford

Wikipedia: Lingerie Football League
The Lingerie Football League (LFL) is a women's 7-on-7 tackle American football league, created in 2009, with games played in the fall and winter at NBA, NFL, NHL and MLS arenas and stadiums. ... The concept originated from the Super Bowl halftime alternative television special called the Lingerie Bowl, a pay-per-view event broadcast annually opposite the Super Bowl halftime show. The television show has become a staple of Super Bowl Sunday festivities for millions worldwide and is broadcast in over 85 countries.
Playing style is full-contact and similar to other indoor football leagues. Uniforms consist of shoulder pads, elbow pads, knee pads, garters, bras, panties, and ice hockey-style helmets with clear plastic visors in lieu of face masks.


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Wednesday 29 August 2012

Republicans want crackdown on pornography? But they buy the most!

The Republicans come to town to officially anoint Mitt Romney as their Great White Hope or the Great White Hype depending on your political inclination. The Party decides to finalize its official platform and announces a crackdown on pornography. When I go down my list of priorities in life, the bleak economic outlook, the unemployment rate, low tax revenue, globalization, war, famine, a lack of health care, or curing any one of a number of diseases like cancer or AIDS, worrying about what people do in the privacy of their own minds isn't at the forefront of my daily To Do. In fact, it's not even on the list.

Reuters - Aug 27/2012
Republicans call for crackdown on pornography By Andy Sullivan
The Republican Party is calling for a crackdown on pornography in a move that could pit social conservatives against hotel operators, television providers and other businesses that profit from the sale of sexually explicit material. .... Republicans have added language to their official platform that anti-smut activists said would encourage the federal government to step up prosecution of pornography involving adults. ... "Current laws on all forms of pornography and obscenity need to be vigorously enforced," the platform says, according to a draft obtained by Reuters. Republicans are planning a Tuesday vote on the document, a nonbinding statement of principles that tackles everything from monetary policy to abortion.

The Republicans want to crackdown on pornography; they want control what you watch. The Republicans want to make abortions illegal; they want to control a woman's body. The Republicans do not want government paid for birth control. After all, if a woman only has sex within the sanctity of marriage why does she need birth control? The Republicans do not want free health care; everyone should have the freedom to choose for themselves (read: fend for themselves). But granted the Republicans do want to ensure everyone has the right to bear arms. God forbid you do anything sexual they disagree with but go right ahead and shoot somebody.

However the Republican story gets, as Alice said, curiouser and curiouser.

CNN - Aug 23/2012
Strippers look to GOP to 'make it rain' By Ann O'Neill, CNN
[If] past conventions are any indicator, Republicans are likely to outspend Democrats heavily at topless bars and strip clubs, says Angelina Spencer. She heads the Association of Club Executives (, an organization for the nation's 4,000 "gentleman's club" owners. The group talked to members in the host cities of past conventions. "When we compared spending," Spencer notes, "the average showed Republicans spending $150 per person at an adult club, versus Democrats, who averaged $50 a person."

At one end of the spectrum you have the Conservatives or the Republicans and at the other end you have the Liberals or the Democrats. How can anybody explain the above disparity in the spending habits of the members of the two parties in an adult club? Anybody may ask why these people are in a strip club in the first place, but when the conventions come to town, business is booming.

Conservatives buy the most pornography
In my blog "Pornography: Who buys the most? Conservatives!" I cite several studies which equate how religious a population supposedly is to its interest in things sexual.

The Journal of Economic Perspectives in its Winter 2009 edition published the paper "Red Light States: Who Buys Online Adult Entertainment?" by Benjamin Edelman, Assistant Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School in which the author studied the purchasing habits of those buying adult entertainment.

As shown in Table 4, subscriptions are also more prevalent in states where surveys indicate conservative positions on religion, gender roles, and sexuality. In states where more people agree that "Even today miracles are performed by the power of God" and "I never doubt the existence of God," there are more subscriptions to this service. Subscriptions are also more prevalent in states where more people agree that "I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage" and "AIDS might be God’s punishment for immoral sexual behavior."

The author goes on to reveal that the most conservative state in the Union is Utah and the state with the highest consumption of pornography is also Utah.

Final Word
What is the truth? During Michele Bachmann's campaign to become the GOP candidate for president, she put forward not just that homosexuality is wrong but that it is a curable condition. I read about and watched video clips of some of her speaking engagements where one gay, a young man from her home state, heckled her saying he was being ostracized in his own community because of her ideas. I couldn't help thinking that if this young man moved to a more progressive area of the country, San Francisco for instance, he would be welcomed with open arms and nobody, absolutely nobody, would look askance at his homosexuality.

What is the Republican platform? Let's get rid of porn. Let's get rid of birth control. Let's make abortions illegal. Let's not have any sex education. If I'm hung up about sex, I have two options: deal with it or hide it so I don't have to deal with it at all. The Republicans are not the party of the future. They are the party of the past. They are the party of a traditional puritanical world which is trying desperately to hang on but basically no longer exists. Porn? You've got to be kidding me. That isn't even on my list of priorities. If you don't like it, don't look at it. Or should I say: if you don't like it, stop buying it.


my blog: Pornography: An investigation
10 articles; 1 set of conclusions; 58 pages; 22,000 words; 4 weeks of research.

I spent the month of October 2010 examining "pornography" and wrote a series of articles covering the various issues surrounding it. After spending an entire month on it writing 22,000 words, I arrived at some conclusions I'd like to share. My "executive summary" reads:

I will not pretend to have exhaustively covered this topic. However, I hope to generate a rethinking of the subject and a more objective discussion of what turns out to be not about pornography but about our sexuality. There are myths; there is misinformation; there are prejudices; there are political agendas which would set out to win at any cost including hiding the truth and twisting the facts. We as a society, as a culture are very uncomfortable about sex. We are attracted by it; we are confused by it and our lack of knowledge about it means we often just try to avoid it. Nevertheless, we are not going to escape it. Not only are we surrounded by it; it is actually part of us. It is time we faced our demons head on.

I give my conclusions to the various issues raised during this 10 part investigation of pornography.
  • Porn causes evil? Legitimate studies have found that as the availability of porn in society goes up, the rate of sex related crimes comes down.
  • Who buys the most porn? Conservatives.
  • People tell personal stories "I know a guy…", "I heard of a family…" and pass it off as scientific evidence. The plural of anecdote is not data.
  • What’s the real problem? We are all so hung up about sex, we can’t talk about it. Because we can’t talk about, we don’t deal with it and hide it. It's a sad state of affairs. The real problem isn’t so much pornography, it is our own sexuality.

Okay, let's stop being so serious. Ha ha ha. No wait, are the following statements funny or are they serious?

About.Com - Aug 27/2012
Republican Convention Jokes By Daniel Kurtzman

"Tampa could be hit by Hurricane Isaac, and they might have to cancel or postpone the Republican National Convention. A hurricane headed directly for the Republicans. More proof that God is a woman." - David Letterman

"This year the theme of the Republican Convention is '50 Shades of White.'" - David Letterman

"Welcome delegates to the 2012 Republican Convention! Remember to set your watches back 400 years." - Andy Borowitz on Twitter

"If its platform is any guide, the Republican party is staunchly pro-life until you are actually born." - Andy Borowitz on Twitter


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Tuesday 28 August 2012

Obama is a big time spender... Not!!!

Obama is leading the United States to financial ruin. Obama is bankrupting the nation. Obama is a spendthrift. I have read this. I have heard this. Republicans repeat it as a mantra and apparently some Democrats believe this too. Look in any newspaper or watch any news show and you'll find journalists and pundits dissecting and analysing statistics in an effort to conclusively prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that America, heck the entire world would be better off without one Barack Hussein Obama. Isn't that enough to make you want to sign up for Romney? Isn't that enough to turn any true believer into a Doubting Thomas?

I just have one question. Have any of these people looked at the numbers? Have you looked at the numbers? Yes, you. You are repeating what the Republicans say but have you yourself verified that what they are saying is true? You are echoing the news shows, the newspapers, and the pundits but have you ever taken the time to actually look for yourself? I may going out on a limb here (the joke is that I know I'm not) but I am hazarding a guess here that you, the Republicans, and everyone frightened of the political bogeyman have jumped on the bandwagon like a bunch of crazed lemmings. I'm going to repeat this until I'm blue in the face but running a country is a complicated job and nobody, not the Republicans, not the Democrats, not the completely biased commentators, journalists, pundits and bloggers can distill this complexity down to a few buzzwords or a campaign slogan. When Mitt Romney says, "I will lead us out of this debt and spending inferno" I would have to ask that if it was a simple as Romney makes it out to be, wouldn't you think that it would already be done? And since it's not "already done", I come back to thinking the problems are far, far more difficult that Romney understands. In fact, his simplistic go with the faith approach to all of this seems more the talk of a fool than somebody who understands the issues like the back of his hand. The pungent odour currently in the air isn't coming from the spring season's fertilizer.

Opinion: Obama is not a spendthrift by The Wall Street Journal
In Market Watch of The Wall Street Journal, the May 22, 2012 article "Obama spending binge never happened" by Rex Nutting attempts to explain why people think Obama is spending money "like a drunken sailor".

Of all the falsehoods told about President Barack Obama, the biggest whopper is the one about his reckless spending spree.
Although there was a big stimulus bill under Obama, federal spending is rising at the slowest pace since Dwight Eisenhower brought the Korean War to an end in the 1950s.

I find it interesting that all the criticisms of Obama are based on the current situation without any knowledge or acknowledgement of the history of the current situation. Rex Nutting explains:

What people forget (or never knew) is that the first year of every presidential term starts with a budget approved by the previous administration and Congress. The president only begins to shape the budget in his second year. It takes time to develop a budget and steer it through Congress — especially in these days of congressional gridlock.

The 2009 fiscal year, which Republicans count as part of Obama’s legacy, began four months before Obama moved into the White House. The major spending decisions in the 2009 fiscal year were made by George W. Bush and the previous Congress.

My opinion
The Office of management and Budget (OMB) is the executive agency that advises the President on the federal budget. The OMB publishes the official numbers for the budget of the United States of America. In their list of historical tables, the first document in the list is entitled "Table 1.1—Summary of Receipts, Outlays, and Surpluses or Deficits (-): 1789–2017", an Excel spreadsheet of budget numbers. I examined these numbers and see where The Wall Street Journal got their numbers. In that case, the author Rex Nutting is 100% correct.

Opinion: Obama is spending wildly by The Heritage Foundation
The Heritage Foundation is an American conservative think tank founded in 1973. In a rebuttal to the Market Watch article by Rex Nutting entitled "Setting Obama’s 'Great Fiscal Restraint Record' Straight" published on May 24, 2012, Heritage points out that while spending under Obama rose due to the stimulus package, it has not subsequently come down. They say that the current spending as a percentage of GDP is the highest it has been since World War II and it looks like Obama has no plan to bring this down.

My Opinion
Yes, the spending after making a huge jump in 2009 due to the stimulus package has not come back down. Why? Was the stimulus a onetime shot or are there other on-going costs? However, what is very odd is that revenues dropped in 2009 and have never come back up to the levels of Bush's final year in 2008. Heritage talks about spending but doesn't talk about that revenue.

Opinion: a slightly more balanced take by FactCheck.Org
In the Jun 7/2012 article "Obama’s Spending: ‘Inferno’ or Not?", FactCheck takes a more unbiased approach to analysing the situation. Obama has done some good. Obama has done some bad. But Obama inherited a mess that even Superman would have a dickens of a time solving and if Romney wins in November, I guarantee you that he too will be vilified when he fails to wrestle this beast to the ground.

My Opinion
For me, buried in this article, is one of the most important points of managing to balance the budget: revenue. Yes, while current spending is the highest it has been since WWII, tax revenues are the lowest they have been since the 1950s. Do I need to point out how many times Conservatives have refused to raise taxes? How many times the Conservatives have voted for low rates for the rich and demanded said tax breaks be kept in place for a "trickle down" which doesn't work?

Final Word
"Vote for me, I can fix this." You're s**tin' me. If anybody reads the above documents, you're going to scratching your head trying to get a handle on the numbers. You're going to be wondering how this mess got started and what has to be done to get out of it. I repeat that if it was a simple as anybody makes it out to be, it would be done by now. Since it's not, I'm guessing it has got to be far more complicated than anybody who's saying "vote for me" is making it out to be. Or they have absolutely no idea of what they're talking about.

The United States is so polarized right now; it is almost as if the entire country is on the brink of a political stalemate. The rhetoric has reached such unprecedented levels, one could wonder if the country might now have another Civil War. It is ofttimes explained that the economic cycle is ten years while the political cycle is four years and consequently politics is out of step with the economy. You have to enact a plan and keep at it for ten years to see it bear fruit. Instead, at the four year mark a public suffering from long-term memory loss and demanding to have their cake right now and not in ten years, votes for somebody else promising the world who then sets about demolishing the ten year economic plan. And so the mess begins.

No matter who wins in November, the United States is going face issues which date back decades. In the new world order of globalization, the economic landscape is not what it once was and will an America used to being king of the hill be able to make the necessary adjustments to remain there? Whatever the case, a public desperate for a quick fix is going to make a decision based on a slogan with little or no understanding of the intricacies of the issues in question. Don't forget when you cast your vote: if was that easy, it would be done by now.


Wikipedia: Office of Management and Budget
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is a Cabinet-level office, and is the largest office within the Executive Office of the President of the United States (EOP).
The OMB's predominant mission is to assist the President in overseeing the preparation of the federal budget and to supervise its administration in Executive Branch agencies. In helping to formulate the President's spending plans, the OMB evaluates the effectiveness of agency programs, policies, and procedures, assesses competing funding demands among agencies, and sets funding priorities. The OMB ensures that agency reports, rules, testimony, and proposed legislation are consistent with the President's Budget and with Administration policies.

Wikipedia: The Heritage Foundation
The Heritage Foundation is an American conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C. Heritage's stated mission is to "formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense".


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Monday 27 August 2012

Politics: It's not about doing the right thing, it's about winning.

I recently watched the six-episode mini-series called Political Animals about Washington politics. Sigourney Weaver stars as Elaine Barrish the current Secretary of State who is also a divorced former First Lady. Similar to Hillary? I think the writers may have had something more than just "similar" in mind when putting together the show but the claim is that this is a work of fiction. I enjoyed the series. Certainly I was thinking of The West Wing while watching people in powerful positions doing earth-shaking things, sometimes good, sometimes bad.

At one point, in a scene between Elaine Barrish and Paul Garcetti, the current president who appointed her to her position, Garcetti says that he is going to do something not because it politically advantageous but because it's the right thing to do. In light of recent events in the real world as the run-up to the November election in the United States, I have to ask myself if anyone can do something, anything at all because it's the "right thing" to do. Political expediency seems to be more the thing to consider than what's right or wrong.

Is that an odd statement to make? It certainly doesn't seem to be the least bit odd when I think of the rhetoric of the past year since the GOP started the process of selecting who was going to take the charge in trying to oust Barak Obama from the throne.

Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing.
- UCLA Bruins football coach Henry Russell ("Red") Sanders

While this oft-used quotation is part of the sports landscape, one can easily see that the idea has spilled over into all areas of life whether it is business or even war. In mentioning war, is the ultimate in conflicts representative of this winner take all attitude? To the victor go the spoils? There is no honour in defeat? Would you lie, cheat, and steal to win?

"It's better to get something worthwhile done using deception than to fail to get something worthwhile done using truth."
- Carlos Castaneda quotes (Peruvian born American best-selling Author and Writer, 1925-1998)

While the above statement seems to follow the idea that you must win at all costs, the keyword here and the keyword everywhere is "worthwhile". How does anybody know that what they're doing is worthwhile? Can they prove it or is it a question of faith? Yes, faith that you are right and everybody else is wrong. Osama bin Laden thought he was right. Jim Jones (of the Jonestown massacre) thought he was right. And I know I'm going to get flak for making this comparison, but George W. Bush thought he was right in invading Iraq while we now know there were no weapons of mass destruction and there was no connection with al-Qaeda.

In writing "Is the right answer counterintuitive?" ( Part 1, Part Deux) I wanted to point out some of the crazy rhetoric being passed around as the gospel truth.

50% of Americans pay no taxes
Those 50% are so poor; their tax credits wipe out any taxes they have to pay.

Raising taxes on the rich is class warfare
The lower 50% of Americans own 2.5% of America's wealth. The top 2% of Americans own 80% of American's wealth. Even Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the United States recognises this disparity and doesn't think it's fair.

We all need to be scared s**tless of terrorism
More Americans are killed on average each year by furniture falling on them than by acts of terrorism. Yes, you heard me, furniture.

Voter fraud is rampant in the United States
Studies have shown in various state elections that the percentage of fraud has amounted to 0.0001%. Now figure that out. That is one ten thousandth of a percent. Negligible? I'd put that just this side of nonexistent.

Cutting taxes for the wealthy creates jobs
If you say it often enough it becomes true? How about no matter how many times you say it, it still isn't true? Why do people keep repeating this over and over again like blind faithful lemmings when the evidence doesn't support the statement?

Obamacare: people should get what they can afford to buy
Out of the 50 million uninsured people in America, eighteen thousand die each year for lack of proper health care service.

Obamacare: it will cost a fortune to insure everybody
The U.S. already provides by law health care services in the emergency of all hospitals. Leaving people uninsured is not free; the system currently pays for all those free emergency room visits. It can be argued that somebody going to a family doctor would be cheaper than the person going to emergency. Plus, eighteen thousand people a year might not die.

Years ago I was having a debate with somebody about truth and politics. I said that two plus equals four and that truth is immutable. The person smiled at me slyly and replied, "You don't understand that sometimes two plus two does equal five." Now I realised that the point the person was making is that at certain moments, if the politician has the ear of the populace and has hammered home his message and gotten the loyal followers to believe in him that yes, the answer is five. Unfortunately, sooner or later the truth is going to come out. Yes you may have faith in the message and based on that message of "Follow me you'll be safe" you decide to jump out of the airplane. But sooner or later somebody else is going to figure out that the last person who jumped fell to their death and maybe it might be a good idea to strap on a parachute.

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.
- Abraham Lincoln, (attributed), 16th president of US (1809 - 1865)

Final Word
The election this coming November is not about the truth. It is not about what's right. It's about winning. And since it's about winning, that means exploiting the electorate or should I say the ignorance and fear of the electorate. Running a country is a complicated process. Making the right decision when there are many economic factors to consider including globalization is really, really, really difficult. You do not... let me repeat, you do NOT distill this down to some slogan like, "Vote Romney. Let's take back America." Take back America from whom? From the Chinese? From the Muslim Brotherhood? From Obama? One in four Americans think Obama was not born in the U.S. (CBS news - Apr 21/2011) One in six Americans think Obama is Muslim. (Huffington - May 10/2012) Michele Bachmann alleges connections between Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the Muslim Brotherhood and goes on to claim that the Muslim Brotherhood is directing the Obama Administration's approach to the Middle East. (Wikipedia)

This is going to be a crazy campaign. Don't forget to vote on November 6, 2012.


Wikipedia: Political Animals
Political Animals is a six-episode American miniseries created by Greg Berlanti and Laurence Mark. The series aired in the United States on USA Network from July 15 through August 19, 2012. Sigourney Weaver portrays Elaine Barrish, a divorced former First Lady and Governor of Illinois, as well as the current Secretary of State. While the lead character does have some similarities to Hillary Clinton, Weaver has said in interviews that the show is "very much about families who have been in the White House and the price they've paid for being in the White House and the fact that families who have been in the White House often try to get back in the White House or continue to try and get in the White House."

Wikipedia: Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing
Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing is a well-known quotation in sports. Its assertion about the importance of winning has been touted as a basic tenet of the American sports creed and, at the same time, identified as encapsulating what is purportedly wrong with competitive sports.

Wikipedia: Spoils system
In the politics of the United States, a spoil system (also known as a patronage system) is a practice where a political party, after winning an election, gives government jobs to its voters as a reward for working toward victory, and as an incentive to keep working for the party—as opposed to a merit system, where offices are awarded on the basis of some measure of merit, independent of political activity.

The term was derived from the phrase "to the victor belong the spoils of the enemy" by New York Senator William L. Marcy, referring to the victory of the Jackson Democrats in the election of 1828.

my blog: Is the right answer counterintuitive? Part 1
Two plus two equals four. There doesn't seem to be any room for debate about that one, does there? However there are many things in life which are open for debate.

my blog: Is the right answer counterintuitive? (Part Deux)
I have found over and over again that people say things as though it's the gospel truth without having one shred of evidence to back up what they're saying. I keep running into misinformation, a distortion of the truth or even outright lies all designed to support a point of view which may in no way reflect the reality of the world.

my blog: Stephen Colbert: And the #1 threat in America: terrorist furniture!
In the June 21, 2012 episode of The Colbert Report during the segment entitled "Threat Down", our humorous pundit declared the number one threat in America to be terrorist furniture. Referring to an article in The Atlantic which in turn refers to the recently published 2011 Report on Terrorism by The National Counterterrorism Center, Colbert notes that of the 13,288 people killed worldwide by terrorist attacks in 2011, seventeen were private U.S. citizens or 0.1%, one tenth of one percent of the total. The article, in referring to a 2011 consumer report, states that in 2010 (the last reported year) twenty-one people died from a falling television, piece of furniture or an appliance.

Wikipedia: Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy theories: Claims about Huma Abedin
In July 2012, Representative Michele Bachmann delivered a letter to the State Department's inspector general's office in which she tied Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to the Muslim Brotherhood and claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood was directing the Obama Administration's approach to the Middle East. Bachmann's letter also questioned how Abedin was able to receive security clearance.

Wikipedia: Barack Obama citizenship conspiracy theories
Conspiracy theories about the citizenship of Barack Obama claim that Barack Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the United States and is therefore not eligible to be President of the United States under Article Two of the U.S. Constitution.

Wikipedia: Barack Obama religion conspiracy theories
Barack Obama religion conspiracy theories—allegations that he secretly follows a non-Christian religion, or that he is the antichrist—have been suggested ever since Barack Obama began his campaign to become President of the United States in 2007. As with the Barack Obama citizenship conspiracy theories, these false claims are promoted by various fringe theorists and political opponents.


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Sunday 26 August 2012

Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders

She is the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook. Time Magazine named her in its "Time 100" list for 2012, the magazine's annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. From 1996 to 2001, she was the Chief of Staff to the United States Secretary of the Treasury under President Bill Clinton and from 2001 to 2008 she was Vice President of Global Online Sales & Operations at Google before going to Facebook. Sandra Sandberg is a leader. Sandra Sandberg is also a woman.

TED Conferences - Dec 2010
Speakers Sheryl Sandberg: COO, Facebook
Why you should listen to her:

Long before Sheryl Sandberg left Google to join Facebook as its Chief Operating Officer in 2008, she was a fan. Today she manages Facebook’s sales, marketing, business development, human resources, public policy and communications. It’s a massive job, but one well suited to Sandberg, who not only built and managed Google’s successful online sales and operations program but also served as an economist for the World Bank and Chief of Staff at the US Treasury Department.

Sandberg’s experience navigating the complex and socially sensitive world of international economics has proven useful as she and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg work to strike a balance between helping Facebook users control privacy while finding ways to monetize its most valuable asset: data.

"Whether you call it “scaling the company” or “managing hypergrowth,” Sandberg is one of the few executives on earth with a demonstrated knack for it. It’s clear why Zuckerberg, in particular, needed her." -Vogue, May 2010

Uploaded by TEDtalksDirector on Dec 21, 2010
Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg looks at why a smaller percentage of women than men reach the top of their professions -- and offers 3 powerful pieces of advice to women aiming for the C-suite.

Forbes - Nov 28/2011
Busting the Myth That Women Aren't As Ambitious as Men by Kathy Caprino
I’ve heard over and over in the past several years reference to the idea that professional women aren’t as ambitious as men. Disappointingly, I even heard Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook (whom I deeply admire) mention this reported “lack of ambition” in women on The Charlie Rose show recently. To Mr. Rose she declared, “Until women are ambitious as men, they’re not going to achieve as much as men.” There have been scores of articles written on the topic, including a 2004 Harvard Business Review piece, “Do Women Lack Ambition?”

Huffington - May 8/2012
What Ambition in Women Looks Like by Marcia Reynolds
The first time I heard Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, say that women lack ambition, I thought, "She's an executive, not a researcher. This idea will be disproved." Yet she continues to be given a platform to tell this story. People continue to listen. This is another low blow to high-achieving women.
  1. Women are not motivated by the traditional "carrot and stick" approaches that business counts on.
  2. Young women often don't realize the barriers to their success are still so strong.
  3. Women are told to act like men and are then chastised for this behavior.
  4. Women shy away from important career-defining conversations, such as negotiating how and where they do their work, asking for promotions and letting people know about their accomplishments.

Final Word
I find it interesting listening to both Sandra Sandberg and the criticisms. What came first the chicken or the egg? Are women less ambitious or are they taught to be less ambitious? Are they less ambitious than men or are they ambitious in a different way than men? Technically, any woman can do any job a man can do. Okay, except being a sperm donor. But from there, when we stand back and look at the whole of society, we seem to be collectively sitting in some sort of divide between the traditions of our past and the new ground we're breaking for the future.

Twenty years ago I moved into a new apartment and set up an appointment for Bell to come and install my phone. I heard a knock at the appointed time and opened the door to a female technician. If I was mildly startled, it wasn't because I thought a woman couldn't do the job, it was because I had never seen a woman doing that job in my life.

As far as I'm concerned, gender has nothing to do with competency. I've had two female doctors over the years and while both of them asked me if I was comfortable with a female performing a DRE on me, I knew that their ability in performing the procedure was determined by the medical diploma hanging on their wall not their sex. Why would a guy supposedly be able to do it better? (There's a joke in there somewhere but I'll leave it up to you the reader.)

Our society is changing but it is in many ways changing far slower than we realise. Traditions are hard to get rid of because removing them leaves the situation unstable. People are uncomfortable and don't know exactly what to do. Yes, change will come but it may be more due to the older generation dying off and taking their traditions with them. The new generation will be more accepting of change but they too will have the problem of figuring out just what the "new traditions" will be.

Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.
-Timothy Leary (Wikiquotes: Feminism)


FYI: Many attribute the Tomothy Leary quote to Marilyn Monroe. My research shows this not to be true. The major quotation web sites say Tomothy Leary and the fan web site Immortal Marilyn point out the same error.

Wikipedia: Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl Kara Sandberg (born August 28, 1969) is an American businesswoman. She has served as the chief operating officer of Facebook since 2008. In June 2012, she was also elected to the board of directors by the existing board members, becoming the first woman to serve on its board. Before Facebook, Sandberg was Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google. She also was involved in launching Google's philanthropic arm Before Google, Sandberg served as chief of staff for the United States Department of the Treasury. In 2012, she was named in Time 100, an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world assembled by Time.

Google search: women aren't as ambitious as men


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Saturday 25 August 2012

Hall & Oates: One on One

I'm tired of playing on the team
It seems i don't get time out anymore
What a change if we set the pace face to face
No one even tried to score
Oh oh i can feel the magic of your touch
And when you move in close a little bit means so much
Ooh yeah, you've got to understand baby
Time out is what i'm here for

One on one i wanna play that game tonight
One on one i know i wanna play that
One on one i wanna play that game tonight
One on one so slow

You can't tell me you don't miss me girl
I think i might know you too well
Wonder what you'd say if you knew that i was coming tonight
Want to? i want you can't you tell

One on one i wanna play that game tonight
One on one i know i wanna play that
One on one i wanna play that game tonight
One on one so slow
That's all you need to know now

'cause if it's really right there's nothing else
One on one i want to play that game tonight...


Uploaded by AssortedGenre on Jan 4, 2009

Wikipedia: One on One (song)
"One on One" is a song recorded by American duo Hall & Oates for their 1982 album H2O. It peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in March 1983, with the 1983 Compilation albums called Rock 'n Soul Part 1. It also reached number four on the U.S. Adult Contemporary chart and number eight on the U.S. R&B chart.

Wikipedia: H2O (Hall & Oates album)
H2O is the eleventh studio album from Daryl Hall and John Oates, released in 1982. A hit, it featured three top 10 US singles, one being "Maneater", which was the biggest hit of their career, spending four weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. The album title is a play on the chemical formula for water, where "H" is for Hall, and "O" is for Oates.

Wikipedia: Hall & Oates
Hall & Oates are an American musical duo composed of Daryl Hall and John Oates. They achieved their greatest fame in the late 1970s and early to mid-1980s with a fusion of rock and roll and rhythm and blues styles, which they dubbed "rock and soul." Critics Stephen Thomas Erlewine and J. Scott McClintock write,[1] "at their best, Hall & Oates' songs were filled with strong hooks and melodies that adhered to soul traditions without being a slave to them by incorporating elements of new wave and hard rock." While much of the duo's reputation is due to its sustained pop-chart run in the 1980s, they continue to record and tour, and remain respected by various artists for their ability to cross stylistic boundaries.


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Friday 24 August 2012

Is the right answer counterintuitive? (Part Deux)

I continue to present issues which divide us all. Are you for or against? Do you agree or disagree? Who does know the truth if the truth can be known at all?

Prohibition: get rid of whatever and your problem goes away
By outlawing pornography, all the sexual ills of society will be solved. We can reduce the rate of abortions to zero by making them illegal. Heck we can reduce the rate of abortion to zero by abstaining from sex. Keeping marijuana illegal stops people from smoking it. Keeping prostitution illegal stops it.

There is an interesting comparison to be made in all the above issues and prohibition, the outlawing of alcohol in the United States during the 1920s and elsewhere in the world.

After several years, prohibition became a failure in North America and elsewhere, as bootlegging (rum-running) became widespread and organized crime took control of the distribution of alcohol. (Wikipedia: Prohibition)

First and foremost, the outlawing of alcohol did not mean people stopped wanting to drink it. While removing "the thing" (I mean outlawing it) whether alcohol or anything else may seem like the logical step to removing a perceived problem, one doesn't in any way address that desire or need which drives people to seek out that thing. Prohibition didn't stop people from drinking. Outlawing abortions doesn't stop women from seeking them out. Marijuana is being smoked whether we know it or not.

But in using the word problem, there is the question of just what the heck is the problem and how widespread is it.

World Health Organisation: Global Status Report on Alcohol - 2004
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are about 2 billion people worldwide who consume alcoholic beverages and 76.3 million with diagnosable alcohol use disorders.

The current total world population (2010) is 6.8 billion but in 2004 it was around 6.4 billion. So, in 2004, 31% of all people consumed alcohol. 4% of the drinkers had a problem or 1% of the total.

Okay, if the problem isn't quite as grave as one would think, should we not reassess whether the "problem" is actually a problem? Yes there are people with a drinking problem. But the majority of people drink and do so responsibly. Anybody want to bring back prohibition? Anybody want to punish the many because of the problems of the few? Anybody can easily ask why the problem of somebody else ends up affecting their own rights and freedoms.

Obamacare: Everybody can take care of themselves
Fifty million people in the United States have no health insurance. If you can't afford it, don't buy it. If you can't afford it, work harder or work more so you can afford it. Capitalism at its finest.

Institute of Medicine of the National Academies - Jan 13/2004
Insuring America's Health: Principles and Recommendations
Lack of health insurance causes roughly 18,000 unnecessary deaths every year in the United States. Although America leads the world in spending on health care, it is the only wealthy, industrialized nation that does not ensure that all citizens have coverage.

A citizen has certain rights: freedom and liberty come to mind. Does a citizen have the right to be healthy?

Obamacare: It will cost a fortune to insure everybody
Thanks to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) of 1986, anybody can walk into emergency at any hospital and get treatment even if they can't pay. This is called uncompensated care or charity care. Who's paying to treat those people? The "system". Hospitals write it off or get something from the government or pass on the costs to those who can afford to pay. Nevertheless it isn't so much a question of how much it is going to cost to insure people; it is that not insuring them isn't free. The Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C. think tank estimates the future costs of uncompensated care for the period 2014 - 2019 to be $330 billion if the system is reformed, that is Obamacare comes into effect. If the system is not reformed, the cost of uncompensated care would be between $560 and $700 billion.

my blog: Obamacare: Congratulations on doing the right thing, America!
Obamacare is not perfect. But it is a step is the right direction. Socialism? Is helping your neighbour socialism? Is helping your country socialism? Is spending more on uncompensated charity care than on insuring people not very astute? Is spending more than any other country on health care but only ranking 72nd in the WHO's health assessment ranking something anybody would not want to turn around? Would you let 18,000 people die unnecessarily each year because they have no health insurance? You have a right to be free. You have the right to work, succeed, and travel. Shouldn't you have the right to be healthy?

Not everyone is paying taxes. It's not fair!
50% of Americans own 2.5% of the wealth in the U.S. or $1.45 trillion. These people are for the most part so poor, they pay no taxes because they earn nothing or next to nothing or they earn so little tax credits for the poor reduce their taxable income to nothing. The top 1% own 33% of the wealth.

my blog: All the rich are not billionaires
Notice how the conservative media use buzzwords like "class warfare" and "socialism". Notice how the conservative media focus on the idea that 50% of Americans pay no taxes. But, but, but the "no tax" refers to federal income tax and the statement in no way looks at what taxes anybody would be paying elsewhere at a state level or a municipal level. However the most important point left out of this rhetoric is that these 50% of Americans are the poorest in the country. The poorest!

Cutting taxes for the wealthy creates jobs
Trickledown economics? The experts, the true experts call this horse manure. FYI: The following two articles are well worth reading in their entirety. Even if you're Conservative and don't believe one word of it, I would say that both articles raise issues that are so important, everyone, Conservatives and Liberals would do well to immediately study this question scientifically without the bias of politics.

PoliticusUSA - Apr 29/2012
Paul Krugman Obliterates the Myth that Low Business Taxes Create Jobs by Jason Easley
Here is what the data really tells us. Since 1950 when taxes are lowered at the top, economic growth goes down. The notion that the US has the highest tax rate on business is another numbers manipulated canard put out there by there by the right in order to justify their policy of cutting taxes at the top while raising them for everyone else. It is true that the US corporate tax rate is 39.2%, but the effective tax rate, what businesses and corporations really pay, is 12.1%. After corporations take advantage of loopholes in the tax code, they actually pay less than a third of what they are supposed to. (General Electric apparently paid no taxes in 2010.)

Paul Krugman isn’t some academic. He is a Nobel Prize winning economist, who knows bullshit when he hears it. Carly Fiorina represents what happens when businesspeople try to enter into politics and fix the economy. Business people understand business, but business isn’t the same thing as running an economy. Due to the lack of a profit motive, the economy can’t be run like a business. George W. Bush has an MBA and his policies brought about the worst economy since the Great Depression. Mitt Romney was a successful businessman, but his record as Massachusetts governor suggests that he knows nothing about creating jobs.

The Straight Dope - Mar 23/2012
Does cutting taxes create jobs? by Cecil Adams
The con: A string of millionaire candidates for public office has duped a good chunk of the electorate into thinking the way to create jobs and otherwise solve the problems of the middle class is to cut the taxes of the wealthy. That's absurd. If the massive tax cuts of the Reagan era didn’t do the average worker much good, trimming another percent or two now sure won’t. What it will do is leave more money in the pockets of the comfortably affluent.

Terrorism is a huge threat to us all!
Are you afraid? But more importantly should you be afraid?

In the June 21, 2012 episode of The Colbert Report during the segment entitled "Threat Down", our humorous pundit declared the number one threat in America to be terrorist furniture. Referring to an article in The Atlantic which in turn refers to the recently published 2011 Report on Terrorism by The National Counterterrorism Center, Colbert notes that of the 13,288 people killed worldwide by terrorist attacks in 2011, seventeen were private U.S. citizens or 0.1%, one tenth of one percent of the total. The article, in referring to a 2011 consumer report, states that in 2010 (the last reported year) twenty-one people died from a falling television, piece of furniture or an appliance. (my blog: Stephen Colbert: And the #1 threat in America: terrorist furniture!)

Voter fraud is rampant in America
The news has been awash as of late of stories of how state after state is enacting all sorts of strict measures to combat a problem of such magnitude, it threatens the very bedrock of American democracy. One small wrinkle: the problem is so negligible it doesn't exist. As Stephen Colbert joked, "Our democracy is under siege from an enemy so small it could be hiding anywhere."

In Missouri in 2000 and 2002... We are aware of public sources substantiating only four cases (amounting to six votes within the state), yielding an overall documented fraud rate of 0.0003%.

In New Jersey in 2004... Even if all eight proved to reveal fraud, however, that would amount to an overall double voting rate of 0.0002%.

In New York in 2002 and 2004... We are aware of public sources substantiating only two cases, yielding an overall documented fraud rate of 0.000009%.

Brennan Center for Justice: The Truth About Voter Fraud

There is no documented wave or trend of individuals voting multiple times, voting as someone else, or voting despite knowing that they are ineligible. Evidence from the microscopically scrutinized 2004 gubernatorial election in Washington State actually reveals just the opposite: though voter fraud does happen, it happens approximately 0.0009% of the time. The similarly closely-analyzed 2004 election in Ohio revealed a voter fraud rate of 0.00004%. (Brennan Center for Justice)

Rolling Stone - Aug 30/2011
The GOP War on Voting By Ari Berman
As the nation gears up for the 2012 presidential election, Republican officials have launched an unprecedented, centrally coordinated campaign to suppress the elements of the Democratic vote that elected Barack Obama in 2008.

My pet peeve: Boiling Spaghetti
I have been serving up spaghetti sinners for going on forty years and nobody has ever complained. But complain about what I hear you ask? I commit the gravest of all possible sins against traditional world class chefs: I do not put oil or salt in the boiling water. Personally I have found that there are many variations on any recipe and since all roads lead to Rome, I would think that at the end of the day the final results count, not necessarily how you got there.

However I have run into people who follow the instructions about oil and salt to the letter and any naysayer will be duly chastised. Ridiculous? Of course. I invite you over for dinner and you criticize my cooking? I am not going to grant you entrance to my kitchen and your critique of my cooking will consist of nothing more than the finished plate I serve you. Well, if you're not in the kitchen while I'm cooking you can't see me practising the five second rule. Ha ha.

To all who continue this practice, I would say c**p. Not true. Wife's tale. But you're not going to accept my opinion as what the hell do I know about cooking? I did look into this objectively and discovered none of the great chefs use oil and few use salt and consider it optional. Read all about my pet peeve in my blog: Boiling spaghetti: to salt or not to salt.

Final Word
I have found over and over again that people say things as though it's the gospel truth without having one shred of evidence to back up what they're saying. I keep running into misinformation, a distortion of the truth or even outright lies all designed to support a point of view which may in no way reflect the reality of the world. A politician may fool us into thinking two plus two is equal to five but sooner or later the truth comes out. Of course, many of the issues I've raised here don't necessarily fall in the category of two plus two meaning it may not be so easy to conclusively prove one thing or another. However, it turns out that many do not take the time to investigate and even the journalists, the pundits, and the politicians may not take the time and consequently contribute to the general cacophony of "fake facts" being passed around as the truth.

We cannot properly address an issue if misinformation prevents us from properly assessing the issue.


my blog: Is the right answer counterintuitive? Part 1

Wikipedia: Rubin vase
Rubin's vase (sometimes known as the Rubin face or the figure–ground vase) is a famous set of ambiguous or bi-stable (i.e., reversing) two-dimensional forms developed around 1915 by the Danish psychologist Edgar Rubin.

Psychology Today - Jul 27/2009
The Definition of Insanity is... by Ryan Howes, PhD
Where did this saying come from? It's attributed to Albert Einstein (probably not), Benjamin Franklin (probably not), Mark Twain (probably not) and mystery writer Rita Mae Brown (probably so) who used it in her novel Sudden Death.

my blog: What the @#$%^* do I know? 2012-01-03
When I first started to stick my nose where it didn't belong, those dark hidden recesses where the sun doesn't shine (I secretly wanted to be a proctologist?), I discovered things. (Okay, now is this where I insert something like I was looking for the scoop but found the poop?) When I first looked at the idea of blogging, I quickly realized that bloggers use their blogs to state their opinion. Nothing wrong with that but as time wore on, I began to find a number of people stating opinions which didn't match with reality or at least my impression of what reality is. (Okay, Mister Wiseguy, can you really prove that the world is not flat?) All of my entries now have a references section in which I put links to (I hope) reputable sources: newspapers, professional journals and experts (people a hell of a lot smarter than me), all of which supposedly supports the point I'm trying to make. Sometimes I discover that the point I'm trying to make is unfounded. Yes, sometimes even I am full of s**t manure.

Facts are not decided by how many people believe them. Truth is not determined by how loudly it is shouted.
- sign at the Rally to Restore Sanity, October 30, 2010, Washington DC


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Thursday 23 August 2012

Is the right answer counterintuitive? Part 1

Two plus two equals four. There doesn't seem to be any room for debate about that one, does there? However there are many things in life which are open for debate. While some may be amusing, some have a big impact not just on our individual lives, but life in general, our collective life as a society. I am struck over and over again how we adamantly hold onto beliefs without any proof that said beliefs are in fact justified. This is the question I raised in the title of this article. Is our intuition really based on a set of unproven beliefs, superstitions if you will, which leads us to overlook the right answer, the true right answer? Are we repeating the same actions in the vague hope that things will eventually work out and we'll be vindicated?

America's Embargo of Cuba
Years ago one of the columnists in TIME magazine, Joel Stein I think, made a compelling argument for the United States to use the export of its own culture as a means of influencing and perhaps "taking over" in air quotes regimes it found unfavourable to its own view of the world. Rather than resort to sanctions, embargoes, even war, America should promote itself, its products and services, to the people in the streets, to develop in those people a taste for all things American including liberty, freedom of speech, and the right to vote. Falling back on the idea that it is more successful if you get somebody to want to do something as opposed to making them do something, the export of culture would develop a revolution from within. Don't force a regime to tow the line, get the people to rise up against the regime and kick it out of power.

All these years, just what has the embargo of Cuba achieved? The Soviet Union was the mother of all Communist evil and yet, because it was too big to ignore, the United States has always had a relationship with this country. Always. Right up to when it fell. And there is little old Cuba still going like the Energizer bunny. If the U.S. through the arms race or whatever takes some credit in changing the world political map, it is curious how it has failed to change one Caribbean island.

Wikipedia: United States embargo against Cuba
"Future students of American history will be scratching their heads about this case for decades to come. Our embargo and refusal to normalize diplomatic relations has nothing to do with communism. Otherwise, we wouldn't have had diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War, with China since Nixon, and with Vietnam despite our bitter war there. No, Cuba was pure politics. Though it started out to be a measure of an administration's resistance to Castro's politics, it very soon became a straight-jacket whereby first-generation Cuban-Americans wielded inordinate political power over both parties and constructed a veto over rational, mature diplomacy."
— Gary Hart, former U.S. Senator, March 2011

Get Rid Of Abortion
Notice that I didn't say outlaw it, I said get rid of it. An abortion represents an unwanted pregnancy. If all pregnancies happened when a woman wanted it to, when she was ready emotionally, financially, and spiritually (including maritally?), there would be no abortions. How much simpler can it be than that?

Unfortunately, the pro-life movement has completely focused on abortions instead of the idea of unwanted pregnancies and therein lies the problem. The pro-life movement believes that there is one and only one way to deal to avoid this issue and that is to abstain from sex. That's the theory. In practice, abstinence just isn't achieving the level of sex or non sex one would hope for. Why? Our sexual urges are not quite as controllable as we might think. When you look at the statistics, I'd say the world doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of ever seeing abstinence working. Just think about it. If I argue that if everybody used matches to start fires in a prudent manner following all practices for fire safety, we wouldn't need fire trucks because there would be no fires. Do I hear anybody voting to disband fire departments? I don't think so. We all know well enough that accidents will happen despite our best intentions and we better be prepared for them.

Yes, oddly enough, I agree with pro-lifers about the idea of having no abortions, but from there our ideas about how to achieve such a goal differs greatly. I am a firm believer in doing anything, yes, absolutely anything to eradicate unwanted pregnancies. This includes condoms, birth control, and for God's sake sex education. But what's the truly odd part of this story? By removing sex education and access to birth control, the rate of abortions goes up. Yep, the very policies put forward by the pro-lifers to stop abortions actually increase the number of abortions.

Guttmacher Institute - Feb 24/2009
1.94 Million Unintended pregnancies and 810,000 abortions are prevented each year
By providing millions of young and low-income women access to voluntary contraceptive services, the national family planning program prevents 1.94 million unintended pregnancies, including almost 400,000 teen pregnancies, each year. These pregnancies would result in 860,000 unintended births, 810,000 abortions and 270,000 miscarriages, according to a new Guttmacher Institute report. Absent publicly funded family planning services, the U.S. abortion rate would be nearly two-thirds higher than it currently is, and nearly twice as high among poor women.

my blog: Abortion: My final word on unwanted pregnancy
The point to my articles is just this: If a woman didn't pregnant, she wouldn't need an abortion. Ah, but I should be more precise. If a woman "wanted" to be pregnant, she wouldn't want an abortion. Yes, abortion is an issue; I'll let everybody else waste their time and effort arguing their stance to the other camp until they're blue in the face. I want to move upstream and deal with the issue BEFORE the pregnancy occurs. I want to be preventative. Yes, curative is good; curative is important but what can we collectively do to prevent us from even getting to an abortion.

Fight drugs but have needle exchange programs
When I say drugs, I'm not talking about your weekend warrior enjoying a doobie at a rock concert. I'm talking about your addict for whom drugs has become the daily obsession. I'm sure we would all want to help but sometimes helping seems oddly supportive.

Needle exchange programmes have as an objective to reduce the harm suffered by injecting drug users (IDUs) in using unsterile or contaminated equipment. Think about this. Society would like addictive behaviour to stop. Society would like there to be no addicts. But it admits that such a goal is at least today unobtainable so the better social policy is to control the phenomenon and not exacerbate it. If an addict is kept healthy in the sense of not getting ill from unsterile needles or from contracting HIV from a fellow addict, they may someday shake off their addiction. Plus, society itself doesn't bear the burden of an ill addict or another HIV infected person. Yes, we want to get rid of addicts but we supply them with clean needles.

Wikipedia: Needle-exchange programme
A comprehensive study by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2004 stated that there is a "compelling case that NSPs substantially and cost effectively reduce the spread of HIV among IDUs and do so without evidence of exacerbating injecting drug use at either the individual or societal level."

Erectile Dysfunction: all you need is Viagra
Not true. With or without ED, all you need is love. Right on the box it clearly states that the drug will help with blood flow but, and that's a big but, a man still needs to be sexually excited to get an erection.

my blog: Erectile dysfunction or just not sexually aroused
... while erectile dysfunction can be a physical condition... Stress or anxiety, low self-esteem, marital or relationship problems, performance anxiety and even an unsatisfactory sex life can have an impact on a man's performance, that is, can leave a man not "in the mood". Not being in the mood is not erectile dysfunction; it's just not being "in the mood". Gee, where have I heard this before? (hint: women not being "in the mood")

Men cheat because they're all a bunch of horny old toads
my blog: Sex: And the #1 reason why men cheat is...
All men are horny old toads. They can't keep it in their pants. Their wandering eye is without remorse. When the blood rushes from their head, their higher brain functions like morality, common sense and decency give way to unbridled lust, depravity and behaviour of the nefarious kind. Is it just something that is in our genes? This is where you chime in with, "Or is it just something that is in their jeans?"

A marriage counselor for over 20 years, rabbi and author Gary Neuman conducted a two-year study involving 200 men -- 100 who cheated and 100 who remained faithful. His findings form the basis of his 2008 book The Truth About Cheating: Why Men Stray and What You Can Do To Prevent It. What Neuman learned defies most commonly-held beliefs about why men cheat. Of the men surveyed:

* 92% say it's not just about sex
* 88% say the other woman isn't better looking or in better shape
* 55% don't tell their wives or deny cheating even when confronted with evidence
* 48% say cheating is about an emotional disconnection from their wives
* 12% would cheat no matter what

Divorce: your spouse has lost his (or her) mind
Not every person is the same. Not every couple is the same. Not every divorce is the same. Nevertheless for me there seems to a common thread to many if not all of the stories. You don't really know what's going on in the mind of your spouse. And it may very well be that he or she doesn't know either. After all, do any of us truly know what motivates us? Why does that person like chocolate ice cream but vanilla is my favourite? Although chocolate syrup can be good for a sundae and sometimes even for a Saturday. But I digress with a cheap thrill from a sexual innuendo.

In the 2010 book "This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness", author Laura Munson (my blog: Laura Munson: Save a marriage by doing nothing) recounts how her husband announced one day that he no longer loved her. Her response was that she didn't buy it. The truth seems to be that her husband was suffering a major personal life crisis brought on by a career failure, an excess of debt, and the fear of losing their farm. She gave him six months but he only took four to work things out and he came back a renewed man.

Some of the comments to a newspaper article about the book condemned Ms. Munson by saying she was a doormat and she should have booted him out from the beginning. Obviously if Ms. Munson had followed their counsel she would now be divorced and she wouldn't have a book. Nevertheless she fortunately took another approach based on a more correct assessment of the situation and her bet paid off.

The question here is whether anybody truly knows what's going on in the head of the other person. If a marriage heads south, what's the reason? The real reason?

Because he's a lying, two-faced sonofabitch. He can't keep it in his pants. He's a sex addict. He's a goddamn perverted deviant jackin' off to Internet porn. He's an ungrateful, unfaithful, untrustworthy, underhanded un-man with a tiny d**k. He's a selfish @#$%^* whore-chasing douchebag that deserves to be chemically castrated then banished to some far-flung South Sea island where he'll be forced to work on a chain gang for the rest of his rotten miserable life. (my blog: Why did that @#$%^* bastard divorce me?)

I would now refer back to Gary Neuman's 2008 book "The Truth About Cheating: Why Men Stray and What You Can Do To Prevent It" in which the author states that 92% of the men he surveyed said their cheating is not just about sex, 88% said the other woman wasn't better looking or in better shape and 48% said cheating was about an emotional disconnection from their wives. What? Just what the heck is really going on? Does anybody really know? After all, if you have no idea what the problem is how do you fix anything?

People seemingly go bats**t crazy and or become belligerent because they feel trapped. They see no way to escape. It doesn't matter whether this is true or false in your eyes, in their eyes it just feels that way. Obviously not every marriage can be saved but it's certain that if you can't identify it, you ain't gunna fix it.

my blog: Negotiating: Take what you want or get what you want
“The only people with whom you should try to get even with are those who have helped you.”
-John E. Southard

... continued in part deux


my blog: Is the right answer counterintuitive? (Part Deux)

Wikipedia: Blivet
A blivet, also known as a poiuyt, devil's fork or widget, is an undecipherable figure, an optical illusion and an impossible object. It appears to have three cylindrical prongs at one end which then mysteriously transform into two rectangular prongs at the other end.


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