VOTE!

If you believe that poor people are the problem – Vote!

If you believe that immigrants are ruining this country – Vote!

If you believe that the government is evil and must be destroyed – Vote!

If you believe that America is a Christian country, and white means smarter, more powerful, richer – Vote!

If you believe that businesses can choose to not serve people they hate – Vote!

If you believe that countries that are our partners are idiots and countries run by totalitarian dictators are our new friends – Vote!

If you believe that women are less than men – Vote!

If you believe that woman’s health care is a pre-existing condition that murders babies – Vote!

If you believe it’s okay to say whatever you need to say to win and then do whatever you want afterwards – Vote!

If you believe corporations are people too – Vote!

If you believe that the Bible is the absolute word of god (even if you choose to ignore some bits) – Vote!

If you believe any relationship that’s not one man, one woman is evil and should be killed – Vote!

If you believe that healthcare is not a right – Vote!

If you believe that spending money you don’t have is okay so long as taxes are low – Vote!

If you believe it’s okay to make working peoples lives harder while you make the rich, richer – Vote!

If you believe it’s okay for politicians to profit from their decisions – Vote!

If you believe it’s okay to take from others, as long as it doesn’t effect you – Vote!

If you believe that the press are liars and politicians are honest – Vote!

If you believe global warming is a lie – Vote!

If you believe guns are a right but any gun control is wrong – Vote!

If you believe that black people are scary – Vote!

If you believe unions are bad, but weak employment laws are good – Vote!

If you believe its okay to pay a fortune for for-profit education – Vote!

And of course if you happen to think any or all the above is abhorrent – Vote!

If you are a citizen and you don’t vote, then you are the problem!

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Where I want to Live

In the past I’ve been pretty confident in my view that both parties in the US held some good ideas.

I’ve always thought that the best places to live allowed individuals almost unfettered personal freedom, with the only limits being that since everyone is equal, no one can tell you what to do. So, if your ideas demanded someone else change their way of living, then you couldn’t do that.

I’ve always thought that if didn’t matter what color you are or what sex you decided you’d like to participate in, that was entirely up to you.

I don’t like to wear my trousers below my underwear, so I don’t. I don’t really like seeing anyone else do that, but quite simply it’s up to them, not me and I don’t have the right to change their clothes.

If men want to dress as women, or women want to dress as men, to me it’s really no different as any other configuration. I don’t have any issue with men marrying men, women marrying women, or any other permutation of the wide and varied spectrum of sexual modes that exist. Actually, I think it’s great for everyone to be whatever they desire, either my nature or nurture.

I never really realized how much prejudice people of color suffer. I guess being white I inherently have white privilege, as racists don’t pay me any attention.

I know I’m conflating race and sex, but that’s the point, we’re all the same and I just don’t get why anyone gets treated differently based on anything.

I’ve never seen a difference in the workplace based on people’s ability based on sex. Man or Woman really makes no difference, except for the pretty obvious ones, that women generally have to do a lot more in life than men. A job is hard enough, but women also have to look incredible every day (Men’s clothing is much simpler and the whole makeup thing bamboozles me, I couldn’t do it) and have to deal with being the factory to create other people. Frankly I can’t imagine how hard it must be to be a woman, and I’m in awe of how women don’t let the extra pressures of social expectations and biological processes hold them back. It seems very reasonable that a woman doing the same job as a man should be paid more, in the same way that people who work in expensive cities get paid more, a weighting for the extra work and costs that are incurred. Seriously why don’t women get paid more than men for the same work?

How can it be that people with darker skins go to different schools, have less money and get treated worse? I get the history, if your parents had less opportunity, then you will have less opportunity, it’s a very simple and calculatable model. But it’s also very obvious and fixable. The law can be used to straighten out these issues, but instead we continue to use the law to exacerbate these issues. And with inequality everyone loses, no one wins.

No one want’s to pay taxes, obviously, everyone wants to keep more of what they earned themselves. So how can we build a society where we get everything that is needed to create and maintain a prosperous society without massive taxation? Obviously, there is a cost to creating and maintaining society, but it seems nuts to expect cuts in tax to solve the issues. We need infrastructure, schools, laws, protection, and that costs a lot. I believe that today (partly because of the excessive costs of healthcare) we in the US pay more overall than anyone else. The tax rates vary country by country, but so does what they include. Federal, state, social security and local taxes plus health, car and house insurance, plus payments for retirement, purchase taxes, fuel taxes, licenses and approvals, educational costs all are bundled to some extent in most countries. When you add all these up I think we pay MORE than pretty much everyone else. But any tax cuts that happen here, really only impact the people who don’t pay any of these taxes.

I love the idea of running a surplus as opposed to a deficit, and year by year paying off debt, so that taxes can eventually be lower. It will take a long time, but just like balancing a personal account, that’s the only way to solve long term debt issues. There are many things that need to be improved, but often the answer is not to spend more, it’s to pay less for the services and good that are needed. But we have a model whereby business pays politicians to spend top $ on products and services, in no-bid contracts at multiples of the prices paid by others.

We have shitty roads, not just because of a lack of investment, there are national deals with industries that mandate what types of roads are built. We have concrete roads, when we know that concrete roads don’t work as well as more modern materials, but it’s the deal that lead to a bunch of politicians getting a lot of money fifty years ago, and every politician since still drinks from the same trough.

We pay more for the same drugs as people in other countries, because politicians were paid to sign laws saying the government can’t negotiate drug deals but will pay list price. Seriously how can that every be right. The drugs are American, designed and often built here, and yet we pay the highest prices anywhere in the world, because politicians were paid to agree to the deal, and politicians from all parties fill their pockets the same way every day.

This practice has been made illegal all over the western world, where politicians regularly swap their pin stripe business suites for black and white arrows when then break these laws, but in America it’s all legal. Politicians are supposed to be servants of the people, not the other way around.

The issue has become worse year by year, as we have learnt to hate “the other” and allow the flaws of the ones closest to our own team.

We’re at a point now where the most extreme, corrupt, sexist, racist, xenophobic, flawed president and vice president fiction could ever have imagined became the leaders of the free world, supported by the machinations of the crumbling remains of our cold war enemy who moved the wealth of an empire into the arms of the men who ran their secret police.

And it was in response to a black man being president and supporting a woman as his successor.

I still believe that there are good ideas that can come from both sides of the political divide, but until the right stands up to the crazies they have given power, I don’t think it will matter what the left does.

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How to automate the process of building an entire city

It makes little sense to send people to Mars to build a city, as people need a level of infrastructure that makes living there impractical until you build the infrastructure needed to survive.

It makes a lot more sense to send machines to build the environment and send people later.

What if robots could mine raw materials, build the factories to process the raw material, build the infrastructure to build more robots that could then build everything needed to sustain life.

There is no reason why this cannot be done!

Phase 1 – Robots investigate available raw materials (survey)

Phase 2 – Robots mine raw materials (mine)

Phase 3 – Robots use the initial raw material to build refineries to produce building materials and factories (Build)

Phase 4 – Robots build more robots out of refined material (replicate)

Phase 5 – Robots now build everything needed to sustain life (buildings, machines, infrastructure) (Implement)

Phase 6 – People arrive (Immigrate)

How long would it take? 50 years, 500 years? Probably somewhere in between.

I believe phases 1 and 2 are almost practical today. While phase 3 is partially possible today.

It could be started on Earth right now. Build the technology to build cities from nothing, anywhere on the planet, and potentially beyond.

A few square miles of barren land, a lot of smart minds, enough investment to make it happen.

This is the project that is needed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Economics, Politics, Society and War

There is a clarity of mind that the Republicans bring, that cannot be replicated by any other political party.

Republicans understand that money is truly a fictional construct. All that matters is that the people who have more, create space between themselves and those who have less. This is the fundamental truth of every society.

“Those who have least serve those who have most.”

You must create huge gaps between us and them, and to do this you need to create categories of “them”, while creating power for the “us”

There is power in clarity of purpose. While everyone has their own personal concerns, the Republicans have focused on bigger, longer-term, more direct power.

Finding every way possible to separate people with a genetic predisposition to have more melanin in their skin from those with little, has become a primary method of creating an us vs them. And if you don’t agree then you’re clearly an evil liberal socialist who should be derided and insulted in every way possible. This model wasn’t invented in America, but it is being perfected by the Republican party of President Donald Trump.

Germany in the 1920’s and early 30’s was the most advanced culture in Europe (and probably the world), their symbolism when looked at without the hindsight of the terrible atrocities that came slightly later, were impressively modern. Art, science and design were centered globally in Germany. And then came a very focused extremely polarizing us vs them concept.

All you need to do is define the “them” and make sure they have less, and automatically you have more.

Take out morality, allow any means to justify an end, insult, imprison and totally destroy anyone who is unlike yourself.

Find a loud and controversial figurehead to take center stage, say whatever he likes, create controversy that takes the focus of the real power, allowing the real power to make real changes to social, economic, political, legal frameworks that destroy the “other”

When eventually the fake figurehead is stopped, it’s too late the real changes that were desired by the “us” are already done.

Read “the rise and fall of the Roman Empire” (or at least find a comic book version to scan). Read up on the history of the Byzantine empire, the British empire, the Spanish empire, the Third Reich, The Muslim empires. And then read the art of war, and learn how power uses strategy and tactics to win.

The United States has quickly tripped to the right, but it hasn’t fallen over fully, quite yet. But it’s still toppling slowly.

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Lack of empathy is a political tool

I’ve held and postulated the theory that many people have no empathy.

And in case you don’t understand the concept of empathy it is simply the ability to understand the feelings of others.

There is a group of people who exhibit a total lack of empathy. Here are some of the exhibited behaviors:

  • They think being gay is wrong and should be illegal.
  • They think that being dark skinned is an indication of wrongness and should be seen as less.
  • They often think that their sex is better than the “other” sex, is smarter, stronger, more powerful etc.
  • They think their religion the only religion and is perfect, others being wrong and evil.

Some people may call people with this deficiency of empathy – bigots, sexists, racists or fundamentalists.

With the recent ridiculous separation of parents and children, being endorsed by the president and his followers, I’d suggest that Republican is a better name for this lack of empathy.

It now seems to be the single defining, unifying force behind republicans.

The only time that republicans seems to understand the issues with their ideas is when they find out that a member of their kith or kin are gay, changed religion or married someone unlike themselves. If it doesn’t impact them directly they don’t see the issue. That’s the definition of a fundamental lack of empathy.

 

 

(14)

Please or Annoy the President?

How to please Trump

  • “I’m impressed by your businesses”
  • “I’m impressed by your golfing ability”
  • “I’m impressed by how attractive, beautiful women find you”
  • “I really like the way you wear your hair and the length of your tie”
  • “I love the way you insult anyone and everyone”

How to annoy Trump

  • “I need you to think about something that doesn’t directly impact you”
  • “I need you to make a decision and stick to it”
  • “I need you to say sorry for any/all of your terrible comments/behaviors”
  • “I need you to stop being a racist/sexist/xenophobe”
  • “I need you to act with decorum befitting the role of the President”
  • “I need you to read and understand the papers you are asked to sign before you either sign them or not sign them”
  • “I need you to understand and abide by the US constitution.”

 

Today If I had the chance to speak with President Trump, I suspect he’d by rather annoyed….

 

 

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Finding Out You Are Wrong, Should Be the Best Feeling.

The human mind is a complex device, but it is not perfect. Everything we learn, we learn through a combination of comparison to previous experiences and then using learned logic techniques to extrapolate new information, which we then can use to compare to already learned information. This is not a simple process, and much of the information we learn is interpreted by filters before being made available to the comparative engines of the brain.

I’m simplifying everything of course, because this is a short blog and I’m an opinion that is based on my own experiences, comparisons and logic.

But simply this process is fraught with potential errors. It’s very easy to learn things which make no sense outside the framework you have already learned.

When you were a child you were taught many subtle things that were only designed to make your parents lives easier. They may well have not been true. Some of these you will encounter as a child and will cause you to question your earliest beliefs, but some will pass through your experience untested and will become true to you as an adult. If these are then proved to be wrong later in your life, you will have a very hard time deciding what is true.

If you believed Santa Claus was real through to your late teens, it’s very likely you would have a very hard time ever considering that he was not real. Imagine if you had received presents under the tree every year until you were 20, and had absolutely no reason to question where they came from, because no one had ever had that conversation with you. What would it take to then persuade you that it was just a story made up my marketing companies to sell more coke.

We all have our versions of Santa Claus; some believe people of a different skin color are a difference species; some believe that socialism in the form of social security or government run healthcare are inherently evil; some believe that their particular variant of religion is the only one that is “true” and everyone else is going to hell; some believe that their family and friends are superior because they all came from the same country in Europe and all became rich due to their grandparents work. And some beliefs are very subtle, but no less damaging to our ability to learn new ideas.

The basic issue is one of trying to change a “core belief”, something that was learned at a young age and has never been tested by your personal experience.

The way the brain works creates fixed pathways for specific situations that become impossible for you to think outside of.

As a species, we must continuously test core beliefs, and where we see evidence that contradicts what we inherently know to be true, we must be willing to look deeply at the evidence and question our own reticence.  It’s hard, but it’s how we become better people.

Here are some statements that cause this form of cognitive dissonance for some people:

  • The earth is round.
  • The earth revolves around the sun.
  • The moon is not a source of light, and revolves around the earth.
  • Evolution is the name of the process of random mutations providing variety that make some variants more likely to survive changing environmental conditions than others, and over very large timescales explains the variety of all life on earth.
  • Skin color is just a simple environmentally preferential variance in a subcutaneous dye found at a lower level in the skin and is not an indicator or any other attribute.
  • The universe was not created for the pleasure of one single species on one single planet out of billions, but is most probably one universe of billions in a much larger system than we can perceive.
  • Guns are dangerous, and their use should be carefully controlled.
  • Trickle-down economics doesn’t work.

At this point a lot of people’s brains may have exploded (of course since those people are unlikely to read my rant or care about my views, It’s not so much of an issue, but maybe some exploding brains (metaphorically speaking) would do the world some good)

When you challenge a core-belief and break its hold on you, you open a world of personal possibilities.

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Why Is A Politician Doing Exactly What They Promised So Terrible?

Democracy is not a perfect political system; it is just the best political system of all those that are known.

America is not a pure democracy, but a fragile psedo-democracy model that relies of the goodness of people to adhere to the spirit of a constitution written hundreds of years ago by a group of amazing people whose shared experiences lead them to a stunning series of ideals around freedom, equality and happiness (happiness, was never a political consideration before 1776, Anywhere in the world, what a truly amazing ideal!).

The process in the US is one of sharing aspirations aimed at like-minded voters during the primary cycle, which is then attenuated during the election cycle to try and draw more votes and then the winner again attenuates their ideas with those of all sides during their time in a role. The result is that everyone is mildly dissatisfied with government, but most people are not furious. It’s not a perfect system, just one that balances experience and power with need and desire.

What happens when a candidate points out that it’s a stupid system, sticks a finger in the air and decides to go all in to win and then do exactly what they said they would do?

What happens is the balance changes, the fragility of the conventions that allow for happiness, equality and freedom are put to the test.

It’s quite amazing that no one thought of it before. It’s a very high risk strategy, “all or nothing”. And we are living it today.

Global history indicates that it’s a bad idea, that the balance shifting in such dramatic ways will lead to hyper-changes to security, economics, the environment and society; not just in the USA but globally.

The security of the world is finely balanced. With borders maintained by a mix of weapons, physical barriers and most importantly economic interests.

The global economy is not based on natural resources, but promises. Currencies are no longer underwritten by gold and silver, but by a mesh of interconnected promises, treaties and subtle winks between national banks. If the largest economy decides to change these rules, every single nation will be looking to garner an advantage from the change, and it’s not clear who would win that battle.

Saying “fuck you” to the world may feel good (really good), but when you play a strategic game, it’s important to know how players will respond to your moves, and it’s not clear that’s the way it’s currently working.

The good thing is, that since no one thought the presidential election would go the way it went, it’s likely that no one built the brain trust to plan a response. So, it’s not just the USA running with scissors, the world is now doing it.

Donald Trump is either the smartest president that every existed in the history of history itself, or he is starting something he will quickly lose control of.

I’m rooting for the Donald to be everything he says he is, but as a scientist I like to see evidence, peer reviewed before agreeing with such a situation. I have seen the evidence of the last two weeks, I’ve listened to the peer reviews, and I’m beyond worried.

As a very smart comic character once said “with great power comes great responsibility”

Lower regulation doesn’t naturally translate to “better”, it can, but why would a business freed from a regulation do the right thing. It takes something else.

Lowering federal taxes, just increases state, local and hidden taxes.

Things that are likely to happen (not guaranteed, but more likely every day)

  • Hyper debt
  • Hyper inflation
  • Hyper unemployment
  • Less human rights
  • War
  • Shorter life span, and a lowering of the quality of life overall
  • A worse environment (air quality, water quality, farm land quality)
  • Less equality
  • Less government oversight
  • Less investment in happiness (the arts)
  • A greater gap between rich and poor
  • Higher overall taxes for the average person (fed, state, local, privatization and deregulation costs*)
  • Less global trade
  • Higher fuel prices and dirtier fuel processes
  • Lower wages
  • A less educated population

*Privatization and deregulation costs

  • Higher Healthcare costs
  • Higher drug costs
  • Higher food costs
  • Higher Road tolls
  • Higher safe water costs
  • Higher heating and cooling energy costs
  • Higher internet costs
  • Import taxes
  • Higher school costs
  • Higher local policing and fire safety costs
  • Uplifts of travel to pay for private security
  • Higher fuel prices
  • Higher train travel costs
  • Higher banking costs

We have become used to all politicians lying, and we know it is wrong.

But maybe a politician telling the truth may be a hell of a lot worse.

 

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Bury Bad News.

Political press officers have been using the technique of “burying bad news” for decades. It’s a powerful technique, you wait until something powerful and newsworthy happens and you release your bad news at the same time in a less powerful way. Most of the time your bad news will then get a lot less coverage.

The time journalists can spend on any single story continually get shorter, as the demand to fill airwaves and column inches increase. There are a lot less journalists each year, being paid a lot less and being asked to do a lot more. The result is exactly what we see, large volumes of lower quality content.

It is much easier to interview a “man on the street” or an “expert in her field” on their opinion on an event or the views of another pundit, than it is to deeply investigate a story.

In today’s climate, every single contentious comment from a politician is jumped upon with gusto. A moronic tweet at 3am can fill hours of TV and radio and many column inches on websites.

I subscribe to the New York Times, get a copy seven days a week, and this gives my access to their online content as well. Why do I subscribe? Well to be honest for two main reasons; One, my wife loves to do the crossword every day on the subway and two, I have a dog and so need a regular supply of paper. Oh, I read the paper online every day, but it’s one of many news sources I go to try and get a perspective of the world. Sure, the New York Times does seem to be one of the better news sources, and they clearly do continue in the tradition of in-depth journalism, but with thousands of news sources available everyone feels the need to check numerous ones to get a fuller perspective.

I’ve given up on TV as a news source. Fox news and MSNBC spend all their time discussing what they think, and not reporting news. CNN is too careful to show that they are not biased and so present all sides if each inane argument without ever making a journalistic assessment. The BBC world news still seems quite good though (but I may have a built-in bias there)

The Huffington post, the drudge report et al clearly have a bias, but their bias is around trying to attract a specific demographic and punch them in the face with as much advertising as they can, they clealy see news content as a means to an end, and not an end unto itself.

There are a bunch of sites that started as aggregators of content as a method of generating ad based revenue, and have since started to try and become valid news sources. But this is hard to do and their failures are becoming legendary (e.g. buzzfeed)

What these competing ad-funded news sources have in common, is that they will pounce of anything that brings in an audience. And contentious quotes are always going to be newsworthy.

Burying bad news has never been easier.

Politicians pass a law that will increase the national debt by billions. Oh, look over there, the president elect just insulted a transgender woman and is tweeting about it.

Voting rights are taken away from people who have the same name as other people in prison. Oh, look over here, a pundit just said we should nuke japan.

It takes a lot of effort to fully investigate and report on a story, and the organizations that are doing this good work must wait days, weeks or months to get all their facts in place, write the story and get comments from all relevant parties. But a pundit can spout an opinion and have it communicated in seconds.

We must slow down the process of news, to the speed of integrity and completeness. We can’t allow critical news to die just because someone let a nip slip or tweeted something stupid.

We need to hold everyone accountable, and this needs high integrity journalists working for long periods of time on each story.

Choose your news source(s) based on their integrity and their tenacity, and not their ability to reaffirm your pre-existing position. A great news source will look at every attempt to bury bad news, see it for what it is and look for what exactly they are trying to bury. When someone shows you a bright shiny new thing for no reason, ask why.

Yes I started getting the New York Times daily for spousal fun and canine sanitary reasons, but I’ve come to really enjoy it as an excellent news source, one of the best I’ve found anywhere in the world.

 

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