Random observations and tiny rants

Ideas, opinions, and insight into the human condition stem from the flow of sensory and cognitive inputs crossing the path I travel. Occasionally, I feel like sharing them. The opinions, not the inputs; look up your own data.

Yup! Another opinion piece. For them tired of my written words, there is a small gallery of the photos at the bottom of the post. Or, click HERE for the SmugMug Gallery. Either will let you bypass the spewings therein. 

I should preface what I’m about to write by saying nothing is absolute. I’m writing things based on what I felt at the time when a particular piece of information registered in the conscious parts of my brain. Often, my instantaneous thoughts regarding a given subject are not overly charitable and should probably not be taken literally . . . although I will tell you otherwise. 

Let’s begin with . . . 

. . . motorcycles.

We currently live in closer proximity to people than we have for a long time. None of the people around us have heard us play loud music, play our TV turned up too loud, or speaking loudly. We even whisper when walking by other units.

In contrast, we hear music, slamming doors, televisions, kids running around, people speaking loud enough for us to know what they are talking about even when they are across the way, dogs barking — we thought we’d left barking dogs back in Colorado — and all manners of noises associated with people going about their lives. That’s fine . . . we understand that’s the price we pay for living in proximity of people. 

And now, someone who rides a Harley has moved into the building next door. Not a tough thug sporting tattoos and reeking of booze. Just a “regular” guy. This particular Harley is loud . . . very, very loud . . . purposely so. The man, some dude who looks affluent and hence likely educated, never fails to gun the engine while still in the enclosed area bounded on three sides by three-stories buildings. 

I don’t pray, but if I did, I would pray for the man to splatter his bike and his brains on some of the brutally jagged lava found all over this island. 

Some might find that harsh . . . what can I say; I’m a harsh guy. 

What if he has a wife and kids? Well, two immediate benefits; one, the wife might find someone more considerate of other humans (a good thing) and, two, the kids would have a chance of not growing up as self-absorbed and inconsiderate jerks. Also, they might be less likely to buy a Harley, that too a good thing. 

You can’t be serious! He could be an upstanding member of society, someone who contributes significantly to the betterment of mankind. Sure, anything is possible, but inconsiderate jerks seldom fit the character you describe. But even if he is, the world sorely needs less inconsiderate jerks. 

I can’t believe it! Disperser, you can’t be that cold; we’re speaking of a human life here! Ah; I see the problem. You take me for someone who automatically assigns worth to all human life. Let me enlighten you on that; I don’t. As far as I am concerned, worth is difficult to earn and easily lost; if you needlessly diminish the quality of other people’s lives, your worth rapidly falls to the point where I believe the Universe is better off without you.  

I’m disgusted with you! You are a monster; it’s just noise, after all! Probably, but I’m a quiet, respectful, and civil monster who tries to make sure no one has cause to be annoyed with me . . . other, then, you know if they read my blog. But, I’m not forcing anyone to do so. 

. . . plus, you know prayers don’t work, right?

Billionaires and the apocalypse . . . 

If one needs reasons to be disgusted with the ultrarich, please read THIS and THIS. There’s also THIS, but, you know, it’s the Daily Mail . . . it does have nice photos, though. 

I’ve expressed my opinion about Billionaires . . . it’s low, and just when I think it can’t get any lower, I read stuff like that. 

For those who don’t click on links, the articles cover the trend amongst the ultra-rich to “prepare” for the coming breakdown of society. You know those “preppers” people make fun of? Well, these are preppers on steroids. 

It’s not all, of course. Some billionaires ask the same questions I do . . . if you are worried about the end of civilization, has it occurred to you to examine the role you’re playing in bringing it about? What are you doing with your multiple billions of dollars? I mean, aside gloating that you make more money in one hour than most people make in a lifetime? 

Ever heard of income inequality? Of course, you have; that’s why you are building yourself a shelter.

As for the billionaires who are asking the questions, . . . they are still billionaires. Not impressed.

What surprises me about these articles is that these people must not have read any fiction. I can tell them exactly what would happen in the case of a breakdown of society . . . that security force the billionaires hired? The billionaire and his family would become their slave labor or be killed. 

I’m hoping for slave labor, but I’ll take them being killed . . . and I don’t even believe in Karma.  

Religion and politics . . . 

Some time ago I questioned the notion that people were becoming more secular. Specifically, that religion would have less of an impact in politics. I mean, eventually, it will . . . have less of an impact, that is. 

Eight years ago, I remember reading the Republican Party had made a tactical blunder by aligning itself to the Religious Right. Some were openly saying that unless the Party moved more to the center, they will never win another election. Of course, they had lots of help on their road to the WH; Democrats paved the road there by being dicks about a lot of things.

I’ll let you in on a non-secret . . . Christians are just as fanatical as Muslims and just as focused. I say we are entering an era of unprecedented religious influence in American politics (and possibly around the world). Some will argue it was always in politics . . . no; not like this, at least not in living memory. Not this angry. Not this intolerant. Not this vindictive. Not this uncaring and disrespectful of other belief — or lack of belief — systems. And, like I said, it’s just getting started.

I will be called on it, I’m sure, but in the fifty years that I’ve lived here, I’ve never before worried my atheism puts me in danger. 

You’re joking, right? No. 

We have rights; protection under the law. We are a secular country, for Christ’s sake! Right. What you said. 

Here’s the sadder thing; the Left, the Liberals, the Democrats, whatever you want to call them who would oppose the coming disaster . . . they seem to have no clue. I hear talk of open rebellion from people who are looked at as leaders of the “resistance.” Some even call into legitimacy the use of violence. 

There is nothing that will play more into the hand of the people currently in power and into the hands of people who voted them in there. 

Now, I understand the dilemma . . . how can you win minds over to your side when those little minds live in echo chambers?

Good question . . . and why I say we are screwed. Doubly so because there’s actually two echo chambers, both claiming unearned legitimacy.  

Belief and reality . . . 

By now, we’re all sick and tired of fake news . . . 

. . . or, maybe not.

Let’s agree on something, can we? You and I, as reasonable and learned individuals, should be able to discern what constitutes “real news” as opposed to “fake news.” 

Except, we can’t. For us to assign the label “real” or “fake” to a piece of news, we have to first trust that source. That trust is what can get us into trouble. 

People say we can trust the big names in media . . . except that when I read articles, I often hear a bias, be it conservative or liberal. As a consequence, I don’t know if I’m getting the whole story. It does not help that when a source happens to cover a subject I know a little about, I notice things left out, things misrepresented, sometimes, even wrong things. 

It happened with Bush, it happened with Obama, and it’s happening — in spades — with Trump. 

But, it also happened with large and small media outfits, it happened with newspapers, it happened with “respected” news sources. 

Now, someone is sure to pipe up and say something like “making a mistake is not the same as lying.”

Really? . . . because, you know, it has the same result; someone is misled into believing something or other that is not true. Plus, one need not outright lie.

Once I know someone has a bias or has lied to me — or made mistakes — that entity can say or do whatever they want, but they will never have my full trust.

Even if they make a mistake? It depends; is it only one? Is it small? is it honest? It all matters. 

Who do you trust? I mean, people will say to check multiple sources, but that’s crap. 

For example, ever heard something about a friend, had it confirmed by another person, and you still didn’t believe it? You go directly to your friend for their version . . . and you hear discrepancies in your friend’s story. 

Somewhere in the aggregate of everything you heard, lies the truth. 

Ultimately, you make a decision as to what and who to believe and I can guarantee you that decision will be biased by many things, all of them under your control (what you know, your experiences) plus one that isn’t: your gut feel.

Whichever way you ultimately lean, you construct a reality based on your belief, and this is a huge problem these days. Most people do not constantly question their belief; they do not check if their belief coincides with facts and reality . . . rather, they shape their reality to fit their belief. 

The bad news for everyone is that the elections have proven you can make people believe anything. The other thing it proved is that news sources are just as easily blind to their own internal bias . . . or they embrace it.

Saving money . . . 

We’re watching Conservatives under Trump — literally under Trump — work hard to make the US the greatest Third World Country of all; a Banana Republic with the strongest military ever seen in human history. 

They’ve figured out the best path to fulfilling their goal is taking away what little aid we give families in need and give a lot of money to the industrial military complex that funds their re-election campaigns. 

I had a brief moment of hope one day when I heard some Republicans were balking at the needless cuts . . . until I realized they objected to the cuts not being deep enough.

One particular odious argument is often heard out of the mouths of Foxtards. It goes something like this: some welfare recipients are using the money to buy “luxuries.” Therefore, we should cancel the whole program. But, we must make sure our military can protect them as they starve to death.

For them who have not heard the argument, let me put it in simple and easy to understand terms . . . 

Say you have ten kids (because, you know, you lack the capacity to understand how reproductive systems work) and you prepared a meal. All the kids are sitting at the table and Timmy, the lame one with an attitude, throws a fit and pushes the plate off the table and the food spills on the floor. 

You get pissed off and yell “That’s it! None of you appreciate my hard work! None of you are getting any food!” and you proceed to gather all the food the other kids are still trying to eat and you take it away from them. 

Then, you buy expensive tickets so that you and your macho lover can sneak away on a cruise to a foreign land where you hope your lover will beat someone to a pulp and maybe even kill them.  

The end.

One of the many problems we face — aside corruption and politicians who could not care any less about “regular people” — is that we are seen as nothing more than profit centers. 

Health care in this country does not work well because Insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, makers of medical equipment and supplies, all see us as potential profit. Obamacare has problems because the part of the law was written to accommodate the medical industry. It was never about getting a healthier population, providing care for all, taking care of the neediest. 

That’s why I objected to Obamacare . . . it helped some people but it increased the burden on a whole lot of other people. And I don’t mean slightly. Copays too, were a problem, even for those who got a large subsidy for the premiums. 

And that’s why I object to Trumpcare; I see nothing that’s lowering the cost of healthcare for anyone and it will hit the poor the hardest. 

You want some sobering statistics? Read THIS. Then read THIS.

As you read those, remember also that Republicans are the ones who say we are not entitled to anything . . . they are the ones who want to cut Social Security, Medicare, etc. 

They say we will run out of money for Social Security by 2027 . . . perhaps we would not have if politicians had not dipped into the Social Security Fund as if it was their own private cookie jar.

It’s not just Republicans, of course. But, they are the ones currently in charge and the ones who will hurt people because they have formulated a made-up reality which holds that the government bears no responsibility toward its citizens. They are smug about it, too. 

Happiness . . . 

Norway was just listed as the happiest country on Earth (the US is in 14th place) . . . I could dive into the metrics and come up with a few hypotheses as to why the difference but would rather ponder a moment on something else.

The fact that there are whole industries focused on sowing unhappiness with one’s lot in life. 

Understand, I’m not saying we don’t have problems. But, at the same time, we also have organizations focused on “creating” unhappiness. Advertisers are obviously a part of it, but so are political and social lobbying groups. 

At the heart of it, two things are common to all such efforts . . . 1) you have rights,  and 2) someone is messing with those rights. 

Rather than get into contentious political, racial, religious, or economic issues, let me take a simple example that recently crossed my path. At issue is the right of women to go topless (the Free the Nipple effort). 

Side note: despite evidence that the movement was started by a woman, I can’t help but think some guy named Dwayne is behind it all. Yes, yes, I know; gender equality and all that . . . still think Dwayne thought this would be great. 

I’ll make this as concise as possible . . . the same people who don’t want to see nipples are also likely to think it’s not right women should be forced to wear burqas. 

At the heart of the debate are social norms . . . people are most comfortable living within the familiar when it comes to social norms. As societies change, social norms change (for better or worse is not the issue) and people have a difficult time adapting. 

For instance, a woman might argue she does not want to be forced to look at other women’s breasts . . . that same woman would not be happy being told her bare arms are offensive to someone else and that she would have to cover up. 

I can almost hear the argument . . . “But, but, it’s not the same!”

It seems the same to me; someone doesn’t like something and thinks they shouldn’t have to put up with it, especially if they never had to put up with it before. 

Personally, I can recognize that in some cases — probably this one being one such case — it’s more about having the right than exercising it. It could be that given the right, women would start walking around bare-breasted, but I don’t think so. For one, every guy has that right and I don’t see many of them doing so . . . and most of the guys that do, shouldn’t, but that’s between them and their mirror. 

What does this have to do with happiness? Being outside one’s comfort zone creates unhappiness. A change in the way we do things creates unhappiness. Imaginary rights being violated creates unhappiness. 

The current state of US society seems — at least to me — in a state of perpetual unhappiness. For some, it’s a real thing; their lives are severely impacted by a number of factors that are both real and of consequence. For others, it seems more a matter of looking for stuff to be unhappy about, claiming victimhood, claiming emotional distress, and just plain wanting to exercise a measure of power over others. 

Now, combine that with religion, politics, and the economy, and there’s some real discontent simmering in this great melting pot of ours. Again, I’ll reiterate that it’s not to say there aren’t real problems. But I do see made-up problems masking real issues. Perhaps, that’s by design.

I think this is enough . . . more, in fact, than most want to read. 

Before I end with the gallery, let me leave you with something that might help you go through the day. It’s something I came across back in the 80s, I think. They have served me well. Print this out, cut the contour, and then cut along the interior curved line (the line crossing the “B” in the Right ear and the line crossing the “T” in the left ear. You’ll then be able to wear those over your ears by passing the ear flap through the slit. 

I’m working on a similar thing for the eyes so that you don’t have to read my bullshit. 

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

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