Lots of stuff . . . that’s that I muse about. Or, is it “muse on?”
See? I muse about/on that too.
Along with my musing, I present a few B&W photos. Except, they are not B&W. They are shades of gray with some specks of pure black and pure white. Mostly, they are gray . . . just like my musings.
For them just interested in the photos, there’s a gallery at the bottom. I say that because I be writing mucho lungo. Lots and lots of me just letting my fingers go where my mind will lead them.
FYI, I’m doing this in the hope that putting it down on (virtual paper) will empty it from my mind and free me up to write fiction.
All of these photos can also be seen in THIS SmugMug Gallery, and all of the originals can be seen in HERE. You can also click on the photos to get a slightly larger version.
So, what am I musing about these days? Well, there are always the old stalwarts; politics and religion. Let’s begin with those.
Something I care about a great deal is at the intersection — crosshairs — of politics and religion. I’ve written about it before (HERE and HERE) and should come as no surprise to my readers. I’m referring to one of the greatest personal freedoms one can have; the choice to end one’s suffering.
Specifically, the voluntary ending of one’s life with assistance from the medical establishment when one faces the prospect of a slow and agonizing decline due to a terminal condition. It’s often referred to as Compassionate Choice but I prefer Right to Die.
The current nominee to the Supreme Court — Judge Neil Gorsuch — is a sadistic man who delights in the suffering of others and would like nothing better than overturning hard-won measures currently legal in some states. He might argue that statement.
He might say his motives are purely ethical. Of course, his ethics come from a cruel and unjust god, so as far as I’m concern, that’s not a valid defense. To me, he comes across as a sadistic individual steeped in a blood cult and wanting nothing more than for humans to die in agony as offerings to his god. It sounds harsh, but that’s how I see it.
Whatever his reasons, I disagree with him, and will write my Senators to grill him on the issue . . . they won’t, but I can ask.
There’s one other thing about religion . . . I occasionally come across “Ten Questions Every Atheist Must Answer.” Touted as “clever” and “logical,” answering those questions will make atheists see the errors of their way.
Few religious people read my blog — it might have something to do with me questioning their ability to reason — but whenever these “ten questions” cross my path, I marvel at the naiveté and lack of philosophical background evident in the formulation of the questions.
Also, arrogance . . . shored up by ignorance.
So far, most of these less-than-brilliant questions seem to come from Christians. Then again, we live in a predominantly Christian country, so that’s understandable.
I have questions for you, dear Christians . . .
Are you not aware that questions relating to our existence — who we are, what we are doing here, where we came from — were being asked, debated, and answered literally thousand of years before Christianity came into being?
Are you not aware that much of what you are taught as revealed to you by god is based on writings and ideas that long predate the rise of your blood cult? Ideas presented and deemed sufficient and worthwhile in of themselves without adding the threat of eternal damnation to augment their validity? Ideas that originated from the minds of humans?
I ask those questions even as I know the answer to each . . . “no.”
On another tack, I recently listened to a podcast that examined the tale of “The Eloquent Peasant.”
“The Eloquent Peasant” is about a downtrodden commoner who will not accept the provincial bureaucrats who steal his possessions, and sways the Pharaoh himself with his extraordinary powers of persuasion.
Here’s what struck me about this story . . . it’s the arguments put forth by the peasant — Khunanup — to the ruler. This link takes you to the transcript of the podcast and there you can read of the rebuke Khunanup gives his ruler. I would copy it here, but people’s eyes would just gloss over.
Instead, I’ll tell you it speaks of the struggles of the poor against the tyranny and uncaring indifference of the rich and powerful. It speaks of income inequality, justice inequality, and the fact the rich and powerful can steal with impunity even as common people face severe punishments for stealing no more than food so that they would not starve to death.
Khunanup’s arguments prevail . . . and therein sits the proof that it is but a tale.
In the real world, the rich and powerful would not have been swayed by Khunanup’s arguments. Justice would not have been served. This I know from reading both ancient and modern history.
The story dates back to 1800 B.C. and the writing even contains references to the golden rule; long before it was included in the Bible to be ignored by most good Christians.
What’s interesting to me — and caused no small measure of distress — is the fact that so little has changed in roughly 3900 years. Today, we live in a world where justice is not equal for all, where the rich and powerful routinely bend and break laws with nary a worry about punishment but where the common people can see their whole lives ruined even for unintended “transgressions.” We live in a world where rulers — and elected officials — are demonstrably only interested in more power and to enrich themselves while caring nothing for common people; people they purport to serve.
I say distress because it made me realize there is no hope. We travel the same path of people who lived, toiled, and died four thousand years ago. If that doesn’t tell you that “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” then nothing will.
In writing the above, I got to thinking about the very rich and powerful. Specifically, how unlikely the idea — despite their protestations and promises — they give any kind of effluent (liquid or solid) about us.
I used to think that a person of meager means who rose to a position of power would be inclined to better the lives of others. I no longer think so for I have first-hand evidence that is not the case. Once people “make it”, the majority sport two common traits of the powerful . . . contempt for those below their station and the notion they were somehow “better than.”
The other end of the spectrum — people born into families with lots of money, power, and prestige — are no better. Take our current President . . . please.
There is no way he will ever convince me of what he says; that he wants to help the common people, that he cares about us peons, that he “knows” of our struggles. No, no, and NOPE!
Just to be clear, Hillary never, ever, ever sold me on the idea she cared about me and mine — or anyone. At most, we were convenient pawns in the game of aggrandizing most politicians play.
We entrust the governance of our lives to people who have no clue what it means to live our lives, no idea of our struggles, no understanding of our worries, no awareness of our frustrations.
. . . but, I can’t really blame the powerful, at least not here. Here, in the US, they get elected by people who should know better . . . but don’t. I think they are about to learn yet another lesson, and it will not be pretty.
I mean, some people might look at me and consider me rich. I get that. Things are, after all, relative.
. . . up to a point . . .
I think Bill Gates is currently the richest man in the US at something like $85 billion dollars. For them who don’t know, a billion is one thousand million.
To put that into perspective, I sold my house last year for a shade over $400K. I’m rich, right? I mean, I still have to buy another house, but hey . . . $400K.
Bill Gates could buy 200,000 homes like mine . . . and have $5B left over.
He could give $10 dollars to every man, woman, and child in the world and have more than $5B left for his living expenses. With $5B, he could spend $167M a year for 30-years before he ran out of money. That’s about $450K — more than I got for my house — every day of each year for the next 30 years.
I have no envy or resentment toward the man. Some might even say the world is the better because of him. Others might say he — while building Microsoft — ruined a lot of people’s lives, squashing competitors as if mere pests.
I know he’s won awards for his charitable work through his charitable foundation. You can go read all about the charitable work he does.
Were I in his place, the question I would ask myself is . . . how much money do I really need? My net worth keeps growing by more than what I give away to charity each year. Am I OK with that?
I can’t answer for Mr. Gates. I mean, I know his answer. Certainly, I’m never going to be in his place. Heck, I really don’t know the answer even as far as I myself is concerned.
. . . but I think I would give away $80B and keep only $5B for myself and try to get by on $167M per year (a shade less than half a million dollars a day). However, it could very well be that I would break out in a cold sweat and decide I really need to keep all $85B . . . and however much I keep adding to it.
It sounds like I pick on Gates but he’s just an example. Forbes each year publishes a list of the to 400 richest persons in the US. The poorest of them in 2016 was only worth $1.7B.
I feel for them, although it’s likely higher now, what with the market booming at the prospect of help finally being extended to the wealthy.
Collectively, the top 400 richest people in the US are worth $2.34T . . . more than the bottom 61% of the country combined — 194M people. Most people have a hard time visualizing those kinds of numbers. Here, read THIS.
Where am I going with this? Nowhere. I just like numbers.
Oh, OK . . . I have a low opinion of people who hoard things well beyond what it takes to live comfortably. But, what is “comfortably?” It’s a valid question and one that is difficult to answer. But, here’s what annoys me to no end and why I get pissed off at people in power and rich people (often, they are one and the same).
I’m tired of listening to pundits, movie stars, Senators, CEOs, and every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a bit of money tell me, tell us, how we should live and what we should be happy with.
If you make tens of millions a year — or in the case of Gates, a couple of billions a year — kudos to you, but do not, do not, I say, presume to “know” anything about how “regular” people live, and most of all, shut your trap when it comes to telling others how they should live.
Healthcare, infrastructure, and the military industrial complex. Yes, I’m still in a writing mood.
Our government has pledged a few things . . . A replacement to Obamacare (better, stronger, cheaper, better, better, you’ll see, really, we mean it), major spending to upgrade and repair our infrastructure, and major spending to make our military — apparently in a state of disrepair — the best and strongest in the world.
As far as I can tell (the proposed bill was a lot shorter to read than the original draft of the ACA, a.k.a. Obamacare) what this bill will do is hurt a lot of people. Some may remember my original objections to Obamacare. Heck, I lost a couple of Liberal friends over it. I still see problems with it, but think it could be improved.
The Republicans are just aiming to turn it into a disaster, once again hurting the poor and the lower Middle Class. Maybe even the upper Middle Class . . . can’t have them people getting uppity and thinking they might get to be rich someday.
. . . you should see Republicans salivate for it. Except, of course, the ones who don’t think it screws enough people and want even more drastic cuts in Healthcare.
On the Infrastructure front, we’re talking about adding $100B a year for ten years to repairing our “disgraceful” infrastructure. Now, here, I tend to agree with the general principle of it . . . except I already see the seeds of corruption, favoritism, and a crapload of money going anywhere but on our infrastructure.
As far as I can read, we don’t have enough construction workers for that kind of effort. I mean, we might if we import immigrants, but we’re talking about deporting them.
Heck, we have difficulty filling current construction jobs, especially at the higher skill levels. Not to mention truck drivers jobs that are also difficult to fill and which resulted in companies lowering their standards for hiring. Doesn’t that make you feel better about driving along next to an 18-wheeler?
Our military. It’s in shambles, I hear. We need to make it better, stronger, better, more powerful, better. No matter the cost, full steam . . . er . . . full nuclear power ahead.
After all, we need to keep our citizens — the same citizens who will die due to lack of good healthcare, lack of clean water and clean air, and just lack — safe while they die. But, save a few of them because we need also need people to die half-way around the globe and help keep rich people safe back here at home.
If you listen to certain people, our military is currently at best marginal when it comes to fulfilling their missions. BUT . . . that’s the crux of the matter.
It depends on what we consider their mission should be. Look HERE to compare the US (No. 1 ranked in military power) with Russia (No. 2 ranked in military power). Sure, in some things they outnumber us. But, look at the actual hardware and capabilities. Same with China.
What exactly are we preparing for?
Let’s see, is there anything else I can write about? I want to fully clear my head of all this junk that’s rattling around in there.
I could write about racism, political correctness, social issues . . . the number of people I could piss off is staggering.
I should mention that by the time this gets published, it will be Pi Day.
I could write about the anti-science streak that runs rampant in the Republican Party. Some argue that Republicans are no more anti-science than Democrats.
In one Forbes article, the author states Republicans are being asked questions by “anti-Republican reporters” and those reporters ask about evolution and stuff like that.
Now, there is a certain amount of validity to it. For instance, people on the left are more likely to reject science when speaking about GMO or Vaccines, or Nuclear Power.
I agree that Liberals are not challenged as often about their anti-science beliefs. They should be.
By all means, point and laugh at celebrities and lawmakers who do not understand vaccines, rail against GMOs, and question the efficacy and safety of vaccines.
. . . but that does not change the fact that when asked about Evolution, most Republicans will say “no such thing.”
The fact is that for most Americans — according to psychologists — “skepticism about scientific claims doesn’t depend on your political affiliation or even your level of science education. Instead, they say, it depends on whether those claims confirm or conflict with your core beliefs.”
I’m not impressed with psychologists. Read the above quote. Doesn’t it sound to you like one of those “what came first? The chicken or the egg?” questions?
Skepticism of scientific claims comes from your core beliefs . . . but aren’t those a function of your political affiliation and education?
Whatever the reason, I am constantly bombarded by statements I want to correct. Some relate to science, but some drift way over into a massively flawed view of the universe and our relation to it. Most of the time, I hold my tongue as I make a mental note to steer clear of the person.
Occasionally, I’m stupid enough to say something.
I can immediately see the realization in their eyes . . . I’m one of “them.”
Yes, you know . . . them people who “know” things, who read and stuff.
The good thing is they stop talking to me about it . . . the bad thing is they stop talking to me about it and stick with people willing to confirm all manners of conspiracy theories and metaphysical claims.
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating . . . I claim no expertise beyond the ability to read and research. Make a claim, and I’ll look into it. However, that is dependent on the type of claim you make.
Make a claim that violates what we know about the universe and the world, and I’ll dismiss it on the strength of hard-earned knowledge and the absolute lack of evidence. Now, if you have evidence, that’s another matter . . . but so far, no one has ever brought me anything more than a strong belief to shore up extraordinary claims.
Well, It’s getting late and this post has reached a point where even the most ardent followers long ago started to skip words, sentences, whole paragraphs and even entire pages, so let me wrap this up.
I have two more photos, they will have to stand without the accompaniment of a rant or two.
Well, I emptied my brain of all sorts of garbage.
I hope it stays out.
Here’s the Gallery:
That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.
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. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.
Finally, if you interpret anything on this blog as me asking or wanting pity, encouragement, or advice to better my life, know my subtle mix of irony, sarcasm, and humor is blowing right by you.