Saturday, 15 June 2019

The Enemy Is Us

In 1813 from U.S. Navy Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry to Army General William Henry Harrison after his victory in the Battle of Lake Erie, stating, "We have met the enemy, and they are ours." The cartoonist Walt Kelly first parodied the line in 1953, although the panel we see below was done in 1971. When I first saw it, I recognised the ironic truth to the changed words: We are our own worst enemy.

Yes, at the end of the day, the cause of all our problems is ourselves. Pick any issue - global warming, abortion, elections, the environment, health care, etc. - and the trouble stems from our worldview or lack thereof. We are so ignorant; we are so unqualified for dealing with any of these issues.

I think of modern society with its cell phones, computers, and Internet looking down on ancient cultures who worshiped, for instance, the sun as a god, making sacrifices for a good harvest. We all know that there is no such thing as a sun god: Those ancient cultures were so backward, so primitive.

But are we any better? I've heard it said that the human race has made no progress over the past two thousand years. We're just as dumb as before, only now we have high-speed broadband. We proudly assert the progress made with science and technology but overlook the philosophical, the spiritual, and the moral. For the most part, we remain greedy, self-centered individuals with a disregard for the bigger picture.

Admittedly, I'm painting a depressing portrait of the world. However, let me add that while there is bad in the world, there is a lot of good. I'm hopeful. Of course, what other choice do any of us have? We have to remain hopeful for the alternative is unthinkable.

Some of the issues we're dumb about
  • Make something illegal and it will go away
    Case in point: abortion, drugs, sex work. Legislating something as a crime doesn't stop it. If human beings want it, they'll go after it, even under penalty of jail time. I contend that if we as a society truly wanted to deal with an issue, we wouldn't just use the law. After all, you can never stop a river. You can divert its flow, but you can never stop it. Don't believe me? Let's all go back Prohibition. How did that work out? (Prohibition in the United States lasted from 1920 to 1993. Wikipedia)
  • Hide the truth to make a profit
    How many people have died from smoking? The tobacco industry hide the facts as much as possible because they were making a fortune. The fossil fuel industry knew decades ago about climate change but hide the scientific analysis so they could continue making a profit at the pump. The sugar industry hide the science and diverted public attention to fat. We know now it's sugar not fat that is the bigger culprit in heart disease. Healthcare should be the right of all citizens and should be funded and overseen by the government. Unfortunately, in the United States, it's a for-profit industry which has little taste for seeing any changes which would erode their profits.
  • Religion
    What can I say in a few words about such a topic? While I agree that faith is beneficial, I find that man's interpretation of God and His Will to be the source of much evil in the world. As for the Bible — probably applicable to all religious texts, regardless the religion — pick your stance: pro-war, anti-war, pro-abortion, anti-abortion, pro-slavery, anti-slavery. The Bible will furnish you with a passage to support anything and everything. Years ago (Sorry, I've hunted on the Net, but I can't find this.), I read about a sect in the States (West Virginia?) which had banned all music based on an obscure passage in Timothy. Yes, banned all music. Whenever I hear somebody use a biblical passage to explain or justify their position, I know they have first formulated their position, then gone to the Bible to find whatever will support said position. In other words, they have not carefully weighed the pros and cons, examined other options, etc. They've started with their conclusion and then backed up to find supporting arguments.

Final Word
We may start with the best intentions, but we sometimes screw up royally. We can blame other people, faulty ingredients, bad supplies, or even the weather including sunspots, but we did it so we're to blame. During prohibition, bootleggers turned to denatured (poisonous) alcohol as a source of product. Attempts to renature (make non-poisonous) were not always successful. It's reported that upwards of ten thousand people died from drinking bad alcohol. Oops. The enemy is us.


References

Wikipedia: Pogo (comic strip)
Pogo is the title and central character of a long-running daily American comic strip, created by cartoonist Walt Kelly (1913–1973) and distributed by the Post-Hall Syndicate. Set in the Okefenokee Swamp of the southeastern United States, the strip often engaged in social and political satire through the adventures of its anthropomorphic funny animal characters.

Wikipedia: Walt Kelly
Walter Crawford Kelly, Jr. (1913–1973), commonly known as Walt Kelly, was an American animator and cartoonist, best known for the comic strip Pogo. He began his animation career in 1936 at Walt Disney Studios, contributing to Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Dumbo. In 1941, at the age of 28, Kelly transferred to work at Dell Comics, where he created Pogo, which eventually became his platform for political and philosophical commentary.

Snopes: Did the U.S. Government Purposely Poison 10,000 Americans During Prohibition? - May 12/2017

Wikipedia: Prohibition in the United States

Erin Brockovich
In this 2000 biographical film, the heroine has discovered that PG&E has contaminated the groundwater of Hinkley, California, leading to sickness and death among the townsfolk. The corporation attempts to solve their problem by throwing money at it: out of sight, out of mind. In this two-minute clip, the magnitude of the issue is brought home to PG&E: It's not a problem if it's not my problem. I don't care about the faceless individuals who may be inadvertently affected by my business practices.

Published on Jun 1, 2011 by MovieClips
YouTube: A Lame-Ass Offer - Erin Brockovich (6/10) Movie CLIP (2000) HD (2:00)


2019-06-15

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Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Random Humor 2019-06-11


Bülent Üstün (b 1974), Turkish cartoonist
Wikipedia: [translated from=Turkish]
Instagram: hayvanbustun
Twitter: @bulentustun
















More Humor

my blog: Clothes Dryers and Chaos Theory - May 29/2019

my blog: The Gunfighter - May 18/2019

my blog: White Jesus - Dec 30/2018

my blog: Hot To Masturbate - Apr 20/2015

2019-06-11

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Saturday, 8 June 2019

Why do I bother?

The other day on social media, specifically Facebook, I said A. Somebody accused me of meaning B. But I said A. They disagreed with B. But I said A. Now I'm wondering if I hadn't explained myself clearly, or was this person seeing this through their own personal lens of interpretation (bias)?

"I know you think you understand what you thought I said,
but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
-Unknown (misattributed to Alan Greenspan - Wikiquote)

Whatever the case, why am I wasting my time like this?

Urban Dictionary: timesuck
Something that's engrossing and addictive, but that keeps you from doing things that are actually important, like earning a living, or eating meals, or caring for your children.

"Ever since I got on Facebook I haven't been able to stay away. I'm spending hours on it each day -- it's a total time suck, but I can't stop! Grocery shopping and laundry will have to wait."


This sums up the hilarity of all this. Or should I say stupidity?


While I suppose one could make the argument that in a way, social media is the modern form of a town square, church, or coffee shop, that is a communal place where people gather and talk to exchange ideas, does it demonstrate, albeit in a faster and more global fashion, an odd characteristic of the Human species?

I've noticed how uninformed and ill-informed we all may be in our worldview. Your average person does little or no research into anything. They accept as gospel truth whatever has been passed on to them by their family, friends, and their local community (read: peer group). Two plus two equals five. One repeats it but never checks the math.

I'm sure that (just about) nobody would disagree with the idea that the Earth circles around the sun. However, at one time the Roman Catholic Church, based on their interpretation of the Bible, believed the Earth was the center of the universe. in 1633, they put Galileo under house arrest because he refused to renounce the Copernicus idea of the Sun being the center and the Earth circling around it. Imagine how freaked out the church would have been to discover the Milky Way and neither the Earth nor the Sun was the center.

We may laugh at this, chuckling at the ignorance or even stupidity of the leaders of the Catholic Church back in the 1600's, but is that same idea applicable today? And if it is applicable, would we recognize it? I'm fond of the saying, "Does a goldfish knows it's living in a fishbowl?" The idea is that we are so wrapped up in our own lives, our own culture, our own country, can we divorce ourselves of that influence and look objectively at our own beliefs, our own worldview? I'm right, and everybody else is wrong.

Pick an issue, any issue: climate change, abortion, immigration, marijuana, trade deficits, Brexit, alternative facts, fake news, etc., and there are people who know with absolute certainty what the right answer is. But are they the modern day equivalent of the church elder who stuck with the notion that the Earth was the center of the universe because they interpreted the Bible as having said so?

Am I saying any of this with the notion that I, myself, know the right answer? Not at all. I'm no closer to the so-called truth than the next person, but unlike the individual convinced of the infallibility of their "opinion", I'm going to admit right up front that I could be wrong and will continue to seek out what's right.

I'm fond of saying,

Independent scientists independently doing independent research, independently arrive at the same results.

That's not an opinion; that's a fact.

"Just the facts, ma'am."
-Sergeant Joe Friday, Dragnet*

* And to start my quest for the so-called truth, let me point out that Sgt. Friday never said this. Snopes explains how this common phrase was born out of a parody of the original Dragnet radio show then shortened through repetition. (Snopes: Dragnet's Sgt. Joe Friday character frequently implored female informants to provide "Just the facts, ma'am.". False)

I'm reminded of the children's game "Telephone" (or Chinese Whispers) where one person starts with a phrase and repeats it to their neighbour. That neighbour repeats it to next person, and so on. After a number of repetitions, one checks to see how the original phrase becomes altered. We don't realise it, but this is going on every day in our society, through the news, social media, and over a cup of coffee.

Final Word
My original point was about arguing with strangers. Why am I wasting my time? Politics have become so polarized that nobody is debating the issues anymore. I find the conservative end of the spectrum has thrown science and facts out the window. The Right is leaning so far right, they have taken to conspiracy theories. Rather than do on the ground, in-person, investigative analysis, all anybody has to do is search on the Internet from the comfort of their own basement, paste together random searches, and offer up a wild explanation for whatever is the issue in question. Alex Jones? Sean Hannity? Fox News? QAnon? Don't make me laugh. This is absurd. Don't think so? Pizzagate: Hillary Clinton is running a child sex ring in the basement of a pizzeria. Are you freakin' kidding me?

Where does my worldview come from? Facts. Science. Experts. And while the so-called fake news is not 100% perfect — They make mistakes like anybody does. — it is "false equivalence" to say that a mistake by a respected source such as The New York Times or The Washington Post means anybody should start listening to Fox News, the most biased, misinforming, unscientific source of skewed information and conspiracy theories. Laura Ingraham? Tucker Carlson? Don't make me laugh.

Am I a "libtard"? Yes, and I will point out that if you label me a libtard, you've just said more about yourself than you have about me.


References

my blog: What the average voter doesn't do about Donald J. Trump - May 25/2019

my blog: Why do so many incompetent men become leaders? by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic - May 12/2019

my blog: Why do we believe things that aren't true? - Apr 17/2019

Full credit to xkcd by Randall Munroe for the following cartoon. (He says on his web site I can publish this without asking.)


2019-06-08

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