Class Warfare Blog

October 17, 2017

The MOTB, Another Billionaire Sponsored Culture Abuse

In a review of the soon-to-open Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. a reviewer in The Guardian said “More unexpectedly, a display on the Bible’s influence around the world makes claims for links between science and the Bible and contains statues of Galileo Galilei, whose claim that the earth revolved around the sun was challenged by the church, Isaac Newton, a devoted student of the Bible, and George Washington Carver, who rose from slavery to become a scientist, botanist and inventor and regarded the Bible as a guide to the natural world. Likely to raise eyebrows, an information panel states: ‘Are the Bible and science mutually exclusive? There is broad agreement today among historians that modern science owes a great deal to the biblical worldview. The idea that the natural world is orderly springs from the Bible. As the biochemist and Nobel laureate Melvin Calvin said, the conviction that “the universe is governed by a single God … seems to be the historical foundation for modern science”.’”

Many modern Christian spin doctors also claim the Bible as the source of inspiration and knowledge for all of science … but (you were waiting for that but, weren’t you) … you won’t find mention of it in history of science classes. Once again, we must look into Christian history to find why this impression exists at all. There were two famous Christian spin doctors, possibly the most famous of all (although there were others), so famous they are referred to as Doctors of the Church (Spin Doctors of the Church?), Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas. The Church “fathers,” meaning the prominent politicians of the early church, knew that they had a handle on the theological end of the faith (although they fought wars over it for about 1500 years—yes, actual wars with millions being killed and dying from associated causes) but they didn’t have levers to control all of society. So, Augustine folded a great deal of Greek philosophy into Christianity for them, as one would fold whipped egg whites into a soufflé. Greek ideas of politics and economics and whatnot became Christian doctrine, if not supported even vaguely by scripture, then by “tradition.” (The Catholic Church is very big on “tradition” as it allows them to invent their own history and then claim it has always been done that way or it was passed down to them from disciples of Jesus, even though there is no independent corroboration such people even existed.) So, now Christians had support for their efforts to control politics and economics, etc. (Remember it is all about control fueled by greed for wealth and power.)

Thomas Aquinas became a Church Doctor predominantly by folding in science, mostly the science of Aristotle, which is why most of the science in the Bible is wrong. The influence of Aquinas on science was so strong that people who subscribed to his ideas were referred to as Thomists.

According to the Christian spin doctor Aquinas, while you live on this earth, you belong to a single natural order, and you must conduct yourself in accordance with its laws. The presence of the natural law in all men also meant that there must exist a community of all men. Aquinas should have patented Natural Law or trademarked it; we still have Supreme Court justices referring to “natural law” for Pete’s sake. Will someone please tell those people that the idea of natural law is spin, sheesh!)

The Thomists then developed a very complex set of explanations that underpinned what had by then become the orthodox definition of humanity. But their basic claim was that natural law was made accessible to all humans, no matter what their origins, by means of what they called “first precepts” that had been inscribed in the minds of all human beings—hard-wired, so to speak—by God at the creation.

These “first precepts” were not simple instincts, such as animals (and humans) possessed. They constituted what were called “innate ideas” or “innate senses.” They allowed humans to see the world God had created as it really was, which meant that they allowed the rational human animal to recognize God’s existence and then to distinguish between good and evil and to act accordingly.

Brilliantly, they went on to describe moral instincts the same way: the first precepts of the natural law, they thought, allowed you to know that killing, theft, rape, incest, the eating of human flesh, and so on were all unnatural. They could be summed up in the commandment “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” These same people, though, could not offer much guidance about all the myriad codes of conduct, the habits and customs of which all societies are composed. They did not tell you that modesty and the wearing of clothes was natural, as was offering hospitality to strangers. This was where reason came in. The rational mind, acting on the innate first precepts, could deduce what codes were natural and what were contrary to nature. The problem was that the further you traveled from the initial “innate” idea, the more specious the idea became. You could, therefore, only be certain that your particular deductions were correct if they coincided with those of your fellows. This “common persuasion,” as it was called, was your sole guarantee, not because the community must always be right, but because God had created all men’s minds alike. Ta da! As we now know, morals are human constructs created to mutual advantage through human interaction. Aquinas highjacks this real source of morals and co-opts it into his faith so that people who know the truth cannot wedge it between the faithful and their faith because they already have a built-in source for where morals come from. (These Christian spin doctors (at least of old, the moderns are lame in comparison), were very clever in making up stuff to please their sponsors and help them control us “farmer-types” for century after century.)

The same happened with the science of Aquinas; it was highjacked for Jesus. Unfortunately Aquinas didn’t have high quality science to highjack, but he did have a complaint culture, one in which “universities” were for example run by clerics, selling the company line every day of every academic term. (Ordinary people didn’t concern themselves with such weighty matters, they were too concerned where their next meal might come from.) It became a matter of common knowledge that all of nature was created by the Christian god and all physical laws were manifestations of the same god. So, it is no surprise that scientists like Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, George Washington Carver, and Melvin Calvin assumed that their god was behind it all, as that’s what the propaganda had been for hundreds of years prior. They have also since been proven wrong in that assumption, but that is okay, being wrong is part of science, we just make corrections and move on. It is a shame the same is not true of religion as this museum is telling the same lies that have been told for thousands of years now.

The statement on their placard “There is broad agreement today among historians that modern science owes a great deal to the biblical worldview” is a lie. There is no such broad agreement. In fact, if you laid out all of the science in the Bible, you couldn’t read as much as part of a page without bursting out laughing. The Earth is flat, supported on pillars, the stars are on the firmament (a dome over the flat Earth). The earth is the center of the universe and the Sun and other planets and all of the stars rotate around it. Rabbits chew their cud, like cows do. Serpents talk. Disease is caused by demons possessing the afflicted. Pigs can be stampeded by demons. Fig trees will die if cursed. People are resurrected from the dead. There is so much nonsense one is really hard pressed to find any scientific sense at all. The billionaire-funded Bible museum may know their “broad agreement” claim is a lie or is suffering from confirmation bias and is repeating someone else’s lie, but it is a lie.

At one point in time, the church was the fount of all true knowledge because they incorporated all they could find into their dogma. But when real science, begun about 400 years ago, started contradicting everything the Bible claims as a scientific truth, the church has excommunicated, imprisoned, or executed scientists for their contradictions, finally succumbing to the truth, leaving only a few pathetic fundamentalist Protestant sects fighting the Evolution War and Islam, being Islam, yearning for the seventh century. (Note: Excommunication in the mind of the church is a sentence to the Lake of Fire for ever and ever, amen. Its use was coercive, designed to get the miscreant back into the fold but if not, meh.)

And if you aren’t convinced, consider that during Gallileo’s heresy trial, the Vatican’s own astronomer had confirmed Galileo’s findings as being true, but as Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino stated in private: although he agreed with Galileo, if the rulings of the Church were to be refuted by direct observation on this issue—even if it was not, as he recognized, a matter of faith—they might be refuted on others, which were. (Gallileo, then, was just collateral damage, I guess.)

Note: Many of these insights on Gallileo, Augustine, and Aquinas came from Anthony Pagden’s The Enlightenment: and Why It Still Matters (Random House Publishing Group—Kindle Edition).







They Are All For Competition … Until

The conservatives in this country are all for market-based solutions and competition under a capitalistic regime … until … until it hurts their bottom line.

The “party line” is that competition is good because better businesses succeed and poorer business fail, thus improving the overall quality of business. (I wonder if Trump’s evangelical Christian base understands how Darwinian capitalism is? Hmm.) But when it comes to businesses some of the elite have stock in or receive “campaign contributions” from (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, know what I mean?), then it is all hands on deck to preserve the privileges of that business, or the business itself.

The coal industry has been in decline for a very long time. In the early 1900’s almost a million people had jobs mining coal. By the early 2000’s that was down to around 75,000 and recently some say down to closer to 55,000. In those early days the reductions in the numbers of jobs was due to mechanization. Coal didn’t need as many men wielding picks and shovels when they got steam power, then electrical power to their mines. More recently, the demand for coal has dropped. Its primary use has always been as a fuel to create motive power, e.g. steam railroad engines, or stationary power, e.g. electrical generation. Recently, the POTUS unveiled a plan to lower the regulations of coal mining to unleash the sleeping giant. At the same time, a Southwestern energy company decided to do through with their plans to mothball three coal-fired electricity generating plants. The reason? There was a bit of a glut in capacity, electricity being cheaper to produce in plants using natural gas as a fuel. Coal is being displaced by … wait for it … wait for it … another fossil fuel. (Oh the irony! Har de har har …)

Even if it could withstand the challenge of cheaper natural gas, renewables like solar and wind are waiting in the wings to deliver a knock out blow. The only coal being mined in the future will be to make chemical feedstocks (chemicals used to make other chemicals). Burning it to make energy (and CO2 that is causing Climate Change) will no longer be part of the picture. In addition as “smart grids” become implement to distribute electricity, the huge amount of electricity being lost/wasted will become available for use, and …

Dude, the coal party is over. But archbusinessman and President of the United States, Donald Trump, still things coal is being killed by excess governmental regulation. Donald Trump is also dumb as a post. This is capitalism baby, you are supposed to be fer it, not agin’ it. (Somebody please tell Trump.)

And, I cannot stop by this topic without noting that some of the store-bought politicians are claiming that solar power and wind power are only succeeding because of government tax breaks and purchaser tax credits … and they say this with a straight face! These are the same elites that made sure that the coal and oil industries got healthy protections from foreign competition and … wait for it … direct government subsidies. The oil subsidy (the tap is still open) is a century old and costs tax payers $8 billion dollars per year. Will someone tell those pols that the idea was to protect the industry in its infancy, not through to the old age home.

I wonder if the coal industry will continue to get their subsidies after they close their businesses. After all, the bribes they pay the politicians for continuing to vote them in have to come from somewhere.

Coming Together, Coming Together, Things are Coming Together

My recent posts on greedy elites and education “reform,” led me to Bertrand Russell. (Don’t ask how. I read too much, understand too little, and make connections endlessly.) A book of Russell’s still worth reading is Free Thought and Official Propaganda, written I believe in 1922. Propaganda, the term, had just been invented and modern propaganda, to which Russell refers, was also recently born. Here are a few juicy tidbits:

“It must not be supposed that the officials in charge of education desire the young to become educated. On the contrary, their problem is to impart information without imparting intelligence. Education should have two objects: first, to give definite knowledge—reading and writing, languages and mathematics, and so on; secondly, to create those mental habits which will enable people to acquire knowledge and form sound judgments for themselves. The first of these we may call information, the second intelligence. The utility of information is admitted practically as well as theoretically; without a literate population a modern State is impossible. But the utility of intelligence is admitted only theoretically, not practically; it is not desired that ordinary people should think for themselves, because it is felt that people who think for themselves are awkward to manage and cause administrative difficulties. Only the guardians, in Plato’s language, are to think; the rest are to obey, or to follow leaders like a herd of sheep. This doctrine, often unconsciously, has survived the introduction of political democracy, and has radically vitiated all national systems of education.

Ah, Russell points out the current effort in education reform is to confine public education to depart only information, for the sole purpose of getting a job, but not to get citizens who think for themselves, because that undermines the urge to obey the elites and we just cannot have that. (Remember this is 1922.) He also says:

We are faced with the paradoxical fact that education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought. This is due primarily to the fact that the State claims a monopoly; but that is by no means the sole cause.”

Russell was concerned that the state, the “government,” as an instrument of the elite rather than the people, might follow totalitarian aims and reduce education to the “acquiring of job skills” or as Russell states, mere information. (The Republicans then current were not like the Republicans now or he would have been running around with his hair on fire.)

Bertrand Russell is also concerned about government by the big lie, fueled by big money.

“The art of propaganda, as practised by modern politicians and governments, is derived from the art of advertisement. The science of psychology owes a great deal to advertisers. In former days most psychologists would probably have thought that a man could not convince many people of the excellence of his own wares by merely stating emphatically that they were excellent. Experience shows, however, that they were mistaken in this. If I were to stand up once in a public place and state that I am the most modest man alive, I should be laughed at; but if I could raise enough money to make the same statement on all the busses and on hoardings along all the principal railway lines, people would presently become convinced that I had an abnormal shrinking from publicity.”

He “caps” these comments with “Propaganda, conducted by the means which advertisers have found successful, is now one of the recognized methods of government in all advanced countries, and is especially the method by which democratic opinion is created.” and “There are two quite different evils about propaganda as now practised. On the one hand, its appeal is generally to irrational causes of belief rather than to serious argument; on the other hand, it gives an unfair advantage to those who can obtain most publicity, whether through wealth or through power.

You can see that religion does not get off of Russell’s hook (its (propaganda’s) appeal is generally to irrational causes of belief rather than to serious argument). If these statements don’t describe the situation we are in currently, I don’t know what would. And, remember, he said these things almost 100 years ago.

The public school propaganda campaign has led people to believe the schools are failing (they aren’t. That teachers are failing to serve their students well (they aren’t). That poverty is not a barrier to accomplishment in school (it is). All of these lies were generated by propaganda machines with programs to sell.

Wake up people, before it is too late. The clarion call was sounded long ago. Awake! Awake!

October 16, 2017

What Ever Happened to the Scathing Putdown?

The was a political kerfuffle recently when Louise Linton, the wife of our current Secretary of the Treasury, posted a photo of herself (see below) and the Secretary exiting a government airplane on Instagram with the caption: “Great #daytrip to #Kentucky! #rolandmouret, #hermesscarf, #tomford and #valentino,” the culminating hashtags apparently referring to various pieces of her very expensive wardrobe.

A commenter then upbraided Ms. Linton for using a taxpayer-supported plane for what appeared to be a personal trip. Others criticized the flaunting of her wealth. Ms. Linton, in perfect The Empire Strikes Back form, lashed out at her critics. Much frivolity followed.

But whatever happened to the scathing putdown … the withering putdown … the blistering putdown? (Where is Dorothy Parker, now that we need her?) Is this the best we can do, people?

A quick check of Ms. Linton’s Wikipedia page shows she has either inherited or married into her wealth and hence has no “street cred” amongst her class. Her main accomplishments have been in minor roles as an actor, a skill she picked up through private tutorials. Wikipedia says:

“Louise Hay was born in the Murrayfield area of Edinburgh, Scotland, the youngest of three children of William and Rachel Hay. Her family owns Melville Castle outside Edinburgh, where she used to spend weekends.”
“Linton was educated at St George’s School for Girls and Fettes College. According to Linton, she trained in Edinburgh with a private coach from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, from which she gained honours after an exam.”

So, we can do better, people. Where is your scorn?

How about:
So, your main life skill is … what … shopping?” or
Did you major in college in marrying well?” or
Where did you pick up your skill in spending other people’s money?”
Did you need coaching in being an asshat or did that come naturally?”

Obviously the wimpy ass critiques of the Instagram comments made no dent in this woman’s sense of privilege, we need to provide higher quality feedback if we are going to bring these people to their senses if not their knees, at least out of their sense of entitlement.












The Political-Economic Elites

I made the point in a recent post (It All Is Starting to Come Together … and It Does Not Look Good, October 15, 2017) that civilization was created by elites coercing “citizens” into doing work that then supplied the elites with enough food and more. The methods of coercion were by means of physical force and through religious threats and promises. In our current world, the physical threats are less often delivered by thugs/warriors and more often delivered through politics, that is through rules, laws, and the threats of legal and police actions. For example, the rich think nothing of lowering their own tax burdens and shifting that burden onto the farmer class. What are we for, otherwise?

All of this comes from greed on the part of the elites. Greed causes the amassing of great wealth and then the wealth is used as a status symbol, even a symbol of cultural superiority. The old saw was that the rich were born on third base, thinking they hit a triple.

A classic example is available to us now in the form of our current federal Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Like all such secretaries, she was appointed by a rich and powerful person, and then confirmed by another set of rich and powerful persons (just barely, being confirmed in a “tie-breaker”).

You can find much of what you need to know from Mrs. DeVos’s Wikipedia page:

Elisabeth Dee DeVos (/dəˈvɒs/; née Prince; born January 8, 1958) is an American businesswoman, politician, and the 11th and current United States Secretary of Education.

Her credentials as a rich person are also evident:

DeVos is married to Dick DeVos, the former CEO of the multi-level marketing company Amway, and is the daughter-in-law of Amway’s billionaire co-founder, Richard DeVos. Her brother, Erik Prince, a former U.S. Navy SEAL officer, is the founder of Blackwater USA. Their father is Edgar Prince, founder of the Prince Corporation. In 2016, the DeVos family was listed by Forbes as the 88th richest family in America, with an estimated net worth of $5.4 billion.

Since, when describing her wealth they refer to her relatives, we suspect that it was acquired through inheritance and/or marriage, but there is a reference to her being a “businesswoman,” so maybe she has acquired some of her wealth through skill, so back to Wikipedia:

DeVos is chairwoman of the Windquest Group, a privately held operating group that invests in technology, manufacturing, and clean energy. DeVos and her husband founded it in 1989.

An investment group, not a real business, and with her rich husband … so, her wealth was not acquired through her own skill, but like all rich people of this ilk “her” wealth translates into an attitude of wanting to reshape the world to their liking, in this particular case, through education.

So, politics provides the physical force to coerce the “farmer” class into doing what the elites wish … still. I wonder about whether the religion coercion will be there, too. Ah … again according to Wikipedia:

DeVos in 2001 listed education activism and reform efforts as a means to “advance God’s Kingdom.” In an interview that year, she also said that “changing the way we approach … the system of education in the country … really may have greater Kingdom gain in the long run.”

Apparently God’s Kingdom on Earth involves many, many serfs working frantically to make wealth for the already wealthy.

And the agenda being promoted by Secretary DeVos? It seems to be the defunding and/or destruction of our current public schools system, which despite the current massive negative propaganda campaign, is working better than ever (the corporate media won’t run a story counter to the narrative that the schools are failing) and replacing those schools with charter schools and educational vouchers. The public schools are being run by the, well, public, so are not really under the control of the elites, so, reform is necessary (Sarcasm alert!). The charter schools can be large profit-extraction businesses, even when run as a non-profit (by paying large management fees to corporations owned by the charter operators to supply “management” and through real estate scams, amongst others) and the vouchers can be used to funnel public funds to religious schools.

There seems to be this hesitance in this country to provide tax revenues to support religious schools. Apparently it has to do with some vague church-state separation principle. So, if the outright support of religious schools (to, you know, “advance God’s Kingdom”—I wonder if she has a particular god in mind, hmmm …) through the front door won’t fly now, then maybe funding them through the back door will work (it is not public money, it is just a voucher).

Also, it has been a stick in the craws of the rich for a long time that they send their children to private schools but still have to pay taxes to send the unwashed children to public schools. The fact that they can afford this without stint is irrelevant; it is the principle of the thing. School vouchers is a way to get the public to pay for their children’s private educations.

And, as good Christians, there is no limit to the lies they are willing to tell, as long as it advances their religious jihad. At least the Muslims had the decency to put this rule in writing for their adherents. Yes, it is allowed to lie to infidels in Islam (taqiyya) and “allowed” in religions is a euphemism for “recommended.”

October 15, 2017

It All Is Starting to Come Together … and It Does Not Look Good

I am reading an amazing book about how we all got “civilized” (Against the Grain). Getting civilized, not surprisingly, has to do with cities. The word’s roots go back to civis (“citizen”) and civitas (“city”), so to be civilized is to be part of a much larger group that lives together. The book points out that the normal “story” of how this happened doesn’t quite fit the time line. The standard narrative is that people were primarily hunter-gathers, but when agriculture was invented, it allowed us to dry harvested grain, store it, and thus create a surplus that allowed us to live better through hard times, and it allowed us to support “elites,” that is people who had functions of organization: soldiers for defense, planners and builders, etc.

The standard narrative makes it sound like we stumbled on this good deal and just couldn’t wait to create cities, city-states, countries, royals, clergy, etc. Here is where the timeline comes in. This “agricultural revolution” came about around 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, so how come cities didn’t start popping up until about 7000 years ago. Apparently it is the case that cities did, they just failed over and over and over.

Grain is an important component for forming a civilization. It is one of a very few foods that can be stored in bulk and therefore taxed. The author keeps pointing out that if the staple of the area were a crop like potatoes, the farmer would leave their potatoes in the ground for extended periods of time, until they were needed. If they were harvested and not eaten fairly rapidly they would spoil. And, whereas dried grain can be seen and confiscated by the tax man relatively easily, taxing a potato field would require the tax man digging up all of the potatoes they claimed and then they would have the storage problem the farmer was avoiding by leaving them in the ground.

Ruins of Uruk, one of the earliest cities (5000-6000 BCE) … 3000-5000 years after agriculture was developed in this same region.

While having grain to tax is necessary for city-state formation, it isn’t sufficient. Anthropologists have shown repeatedly that when we made the transition to an agricultural society, people became sicklier, shorter, and lighter. In other words we went downhill in our physical development. The problem with grain-based societies is they concentrate too much sustenance in too few foods, the diet becomes much less varied and hence less nutritious.

So, why didn’t these cities come to stay if their superiority was so obvious? The reasons claimed in the book make excellent sense. Farmers have to work much harder than hunter-gathers, so in order to make people do it, you must coerce them. The work is more tedious and requires more energy to do, so nobody volunteers for it. Basically, if someone came up to you and told you they had this great idea, that you would work harder than ever and the surplus reward of your labor would devolve to the guy with the idea, how enthusiastic would you be? There were obvious other complications, so read the book if this is a topic that interests you.

So, to make a city, people need to be coerced to donate the labor necessary, with no obvious reward for their extra labor. There is an argument that can be made as to why cities came to have walls. It was not so much to keep enemies out, but to keep the laborers in. Gangs of laborers were taken out to work the fields or dig irrigation ditches, and then taken back in at night “for their protection.” (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, know what I mean?) Yeah, they were build to keep the labor force in.

Until the idea of a “surplus” stuck in the minds of the “elites,” greed didn’t play much a role in human behaviors. In cultures without such “governance,” people worked to create a sufficiency and then stopped working. When everyone had “enough” there was no urge to pile up more, more, more! (Growth, growth, growth … the economic mantra of our current age is the philosophy of a cancer cell.) Obviously there were petty squabbles when a delicacy was involved, maybe a beehive was found and people squabbled over distributing a small amount of a really desirable product, but by and large, everybody had something to do and everybody had enough to eat. Only a surplus of food can set the ambitious’ minds whirring. I imagine something like this: the number of fields currently under cultivation results in, say, 100 elites being supported (those not working at producing food). So, the top guys (it had to be guys) are thinking “if we doubled the fields under cultivation … hmmm, we could do so much more.” (It seems math was invented for this purpose, by the way, as was writing.) But there had to be land to cultivate and farmers to do the cultivation, but there was no limit on this kind of thinking. In one’s mind, one could double the size of the harvest, and then double it again, and again. This greed then leads to bringing more “citizens” under control, through using the warrior elites to capture them from nearby localities, or encouraging current farmers to have more children, and to bringing more land under their control.

The author of the book mentioned above is making a good case that cities just didn’t pop into existence and succeed because the idea was such a good one, but they failed repeated, for thousands of years, because ordinary people didn’t want them. Their lives as hunter-gatherers or pastoralists, or even sedentary hunter-gathers (if the local region were rich enough and had many food streams distributed throughout the year), were much easier, healthier, and freer than living as, in effect, a slave to the elites.

Now there were two primary sources of the coercion that made free people into someone else’s farmers: the force of arms (we take your grain to feed our soldiers who force you to grow more grain) and religion (the gods will punish you if you do not obey). Religions are based upon obedience: do this, do that, and if you don’t, there will be hell to pay. Religions threaten individuals and their families. The gullible become “devoted” as a compensation mechanism. Priests and their like do very little labor and must be a supported elite. (I suspect that the only reason medieval monks gardened, made beer and cheese, and raised animals for slaughter is that the local populations, ravaged by religion wars and disease, couldn’t support as many religious elites as the religions desired.)

If you look at the history of Christianity as a pillar of “western civilization” you can clearly see that it was shaped through power struggles waged by the elites. After Christianity got adopted as the state religion of the Roman empire, in the fourth century, as Rome declined as a “state” the religious factions in Christianity became more and more political. The Christian elites took over roles the Roman state left vacant, and adopted attitudes and mannerisms of Roman emperors. They took to maintaining their own class of warrior elites and began making war on one another. The subsequent religious wars in Europe killed a sizable fraction of the entire continent’s population and weakened Christianity enough to allow for the Enlightenment and eventually modern science. If those wars had instead been rapidly won by a ruthless dominant faction, we might all still be speaking Greek or Latin, and getting healthcare from demonologists.

So, fast forward to today. Greed has become a marker of “success” and “superiority” at least in the elite segments of society. Ordinary people equate being rich to being very competent, even when those involved inherited their money. Businessmen brag about how well they have done. They believe this reflects upon their qualities and has nothing to do with the qualities of the “farmers” (now diversified) who work their fields. They believe that since they are superior, they should shape our society, not just of the segment of elites but everyone else’s, too. They want to transform our schools to make better “farmers” (the purpose of an education used to be to make good citizens, now it is to get a good “job” … as a “farmer”). They want to transform our politics so they make all of the decisions. They want to transform our economies so they make all of the money and then can control to whom they dribble it out to (or is that trickle it down to). They want to control our health, so they can control who stays healthy and who dies young.

Our “civilization” is built upon greed.

The only response to the greedy elites is the one shown to us by history. We need to resist their enticements and their enforcements and break their power. In the early days we did it by sneaking out of the city walls at night and setting up on our own nearby. We did it by walking off of the job, essentially. We don’t have those options anymore as a suspect few of us have retained the ability to live off of the land. Now we must oppose them by creating institutions to oppose theirs. We need to create our own political parties, because the two we have in this country have been captured and corrupted by the greedy. We need to recognize that labor unions have been subjected to elite propaganda campaigns and political undermining because they oppose the high-handed, greedy actions of the elites. We need to recreate unions and strengthen the ones that abide. Before the courts are completely corrupted, e.g. the recent capture of the U.S. Supreme Court through blatant disregard for the law, we must use the law to constrain the corrupt at every opportunity. We must oppose religions that promise rewards when we are dead for obedience now.

Five thousand years ago, we were fighting tooth and nail to keep a greedy elite from making us their slaves. We need to do it again (still?) and be more effective this time. Other countries have shown that citizen-friendly states are possible (Costa Rica, the Scandinavian states, etc.) but as long as this country worships greed and greed-supporting gods, we are on the path to becoming slaves. (Do realize that it is already the case that “if you want to eat (or need medicine, or …) you need to work for the greedy elite.”) I am not being hyperbolic in invoking slave status as the end game for ordinary citizens in this country. We already refer to ourselves as “wage slaves” and we claim we are living from “paycheck to paycheck” (I am.). Think about it.

Sunday Religion Tidbit: Jesus Hates Fags?

The problem with Christianity is Christians. The most obvious idiots that prove this point are the members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, KS. (Remember Fred Phelps, their pastor? Surely he is burning in Hell right now … if he was right about all of that.) These are the lovely people with the God Hates Fags posters. They clearly don’t know their scripture because in Mark 11:13 it clearly shows that God hates figs. Figs, people, not fags.


October 14, 2017

God is Punishing …

After every recent natural disaster (or man-made one for that matter) some religious asshole gets up and claims that the disaster occurred because God is punishing the area because of … <fill in the blank here>. Usually the punishment is for the endorsement of gay lifestyles or abortions or whatever. For example, when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans 12 years ago, some from the Religious Right blamed the storm on a woman’s right to choose whether or not she will have an abortion, and as HIV/AIDS ravaged scores of people, religious leaders from the Right said the disease was the judgment of God. Some religious leaders said that the tragedy at Sandy Hook, where little children were blown to bits by a mad gunman, was God punishing gay people and for tolerance of gay rights.

(I can just hear Jesus saying, “When I said ‘suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God’, I didn’t mean they were supposed to actually suffer … certainly not while blaming me as the source of the suffering.” Note Imagining what Jesus would say or do is easy. Since he is a fictional character, anyone can put words in his mouth, including Christian Right assholes.)

But we recently have had hurricanes ravage Texas and Florida and I haven’t heard a peep as to why God was punishing those people. I suspect that since the Christian Right is very well represented in those states that He is punishing them for being assholes for inventing such self-righteous nonsense.

The fires in California are his punishment for abiding the presence of gays there.

October 13, 2017

Just Sayin’ (This Time It is Post-season Baseball … Again)

Filed under: Sports — Steve Ruis @ 1:09 pm
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This post-season we have both Jose Altuve (5 feet 6 inches tall) the shortest MLB player and Aaron Judge (6 feet 7 inches tall) the next to the tallest MLB player and their ghosted in strike zones on the TV are roughly the same size (all such zones having a fixed width but height adjusted to the height of the batter). I still think that on their best days this service appears to be run by an intern touching a light pen on a tablet display near where he thinks the ball crossed the plate and on their worst days, it appears they replaced the intern with a chimpanzee. I wish they would just turn off the distracting, inaccurate thing!

And while I am grousing here, they need to find some directors who love baseball. They frequently show a sequence of the pitcher’s face, then the batter’s, then the pitcher’s face again, then the batter and then snap out to a “normal” centerfield shot which shows the pitcher, batter, catcher, and umpire (then they cut to someone in the dugout, well their face anyway, and …). Why they are doing this I do not know. Do they believe the eyes of the pitcher and batter are windows into their souls? It is strange and they are missing the game at the same time. The infield has shifted to match the batter’s “spray pattern;” do they show that? No. The first baseman is inching in suspecting a possible bunt; do they show that? No. The pitcher throws to the first baseman while the runner is standing on the base; do they explain that? No. “The pitcher throws to first” is the comment. Hey, television is a visual medium, we can see that …. it …. just …. happened! This is not radio in which the action needs to be described. Why did the pitcher throw over when there was no chance in hell of “picking off” the base runner? There are reasons. He might have just been checking his pick off throw. If he hadn’t made one from that mound, or made one in quite a while, it is best to try an easy one, a rehearsal, before trying a harder one. He may have been lulling the base runner into thinking that weak ass throw was his “A Move” to first base, when he actually has a much quicker and better move in his repertoire. And there are other reasons.

Baseball is a sport declining in popularity … on TV, but with still strong attendance in ball parks. When are they going to wake up to the fact that their incredibly lame TV coverage might be due part of the blame.

October 12, 2017

Pass It On

Filed under: Culture,Race — Steve Ruis @ 12:38 pm
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