Class Warfare Blog

October 21, 2013

I Can Hardly Wait

Filed under: Technology — Steve Ruis @ 8:13 am
Tags: ,

Now that cars are being made that can sense danger ahead and even apply the car’s brakes for us, I expect that soon teenaged drivers will invent some very interesting games with these cars. Another triumph for Darwinism.

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October 20, 2013

Faith in Technology?

I was driving to a coaching session today and overheard a sports commenter stating that he was watching one of the playoff baseball games going on and he was observing umpires calling pitches as strikes that were six inches off of the plate. It took a bit but I soon realized that he was using as a reference for his judgment regarding the quality of the officiating a piece of visual tech called “PitchTrax.” This appears as a illustrated strike zone in a box in the lower right hand corner of the screen. Now, for an umpire to call a pitch a strike, some part of the ball must travel over some part of home plate at a height between halfway from the batter’s shoulders to his belt and down to the bottom of his knees. This is according to the rule book but, of course, no umpire calls it that way. The effective strike zone is from the player’s waist (his “belt” down to the bottom of the knees. This “zone” is shown in PitchTrax as a 3×3 grid. Since the plate is 17˝ wide and the distance from the bottom of the knees to a player’s belt is approximately 20˝ you end up with a rectangular grid, slightly taller than it is wide. (Plus umpires also have personal quirks to their strike zones., but that is for another article.)

When a pitch is thrown PitchTrax throws up a numbered dot in the location of the pitch, the dot being the scale size of a baseball, so if any part of the dot touches any part of the grid, it should be called a strike. Unfortunately and by my estimate only one quarter to one third of the pitches called by PitchTrax are anywhere near being accurate. My best estimate of the technology used is an intern with a mouse clicking on the spot they thought the ball passed the plate. Check that, make it a drunken intern.

Realize that the most common camera angle used to show pitchers and batters is from center field, roughly 10-15 degrees to the right of the pitcher and angled slightly downward, so we can see the pitcher and catcher and a batter in either batter’s box. The pitcher, average height of about six feet, is standing on a mound of earth 15˝ higher than the level of the playing field. They stride toward the plate, lowering their body somewhat, before throwing the ball from just above shoulder height, so the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand (called the pitcher’s “release point”) about six feet off of the ground. The batter’s strike zone begins at about three feet off of the ground (the belt) and goes down to about a foot and a half off of the ground, so a straight line from the pitcher’s hand to the level of the strike zone is dropping at least three feet and maybe as much as four and a half feet. In other words it is coming down hill. Not only that but the ball spends almost all of its time in flight above that straight line. This is due to gravity; the ball always travels in an arc. Consequently the angle the ball is making at the plate is steeper than the angle of that downward sloping line. This is basic physics.

The reason I bring this up is that it looks like the dot on PitchTrax shows up where the ball hits the catcher’s mitt about one third of the time. But the strike call is made based on where the ball was when it passed the front part of home plate. And since the ball was actually angling down and, more importantly, because the ball is coming in at an angle to the line of view of the camera, it is physically impossible for the spot the ball travels across the plate to match up with the position of the ball in the catcher’s mitt four feet behind the plate. This is especially true with a left-handed pitcher because the angle between the ball’s flight and camera angle is even greater.

On very rare occasions that center field camera lines up with the release point of a right-handed pitcher and we end up looking right down the path the ball makes and when that happens you can really see how poorly PitchTrax’s drunken intern is at spotting pitches.

Any idiot can see this is the case, so why was that sports commenter trusting PitchTrax above the judgment of a very good plate umpire?

I think that as time goes on and we become less science literate as a culture, technology is something we don’t understand, but something we have faith in, faith that it works.

If this is true, we are not putting our plutocratic masters through their paces. The least we can do is expect real bread and real circuses, and not fake ones. Because if they realize we will accept fake technology, you can expect a steady diet of it. (Did to see the movie “Wag the Dog?”)

Christians Against Charity! Onward Christian Haters! Sing it with me!

Tony Perkins is the head of the Family Research Council (FRC), a Christian organization that says its mission is to “advance faith, family and freedom in public policy and the culture from a Christian worldview.” Mr. Perkins said recently “as Christians we will be held responsible for the policies adopted by this government because it (the government) is us,” Perkins continued by saying that Christians shouldn’t see the government as a way to help the poor: “The government has a responsibility to care for the poor? That’s not what Scripture says.”

So, conservatives seem to work this way. When it benefits their viewpoint they quote scripture, but not the Constitution and vice-versa. These same ideologues ignore the expressed role of government stated by the Founding Fathers to “promote the general welfare.” See, the Constitution uses the word welfare, it is mentioned there!

Do you hear any of these assholes mentioning that?

No?

Do you hear any of them mentioning “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s?” Or their Saint Paul’s admonishment to obey the government in all things secular and to be good citizens?

No?

Their conservative motive is they don’t want to pay taxes to support the poor. In other words, they worship Mammon.

Could it be that Christianity is just a tool for these conservative hatemongers? Just maybe?

October 18, 2013

Greed is Good?

A study has shown that the more one studies economics, the more positive one feels about greed. And economists are quick to use the term homo economicus (economic man) to describe modern people, as if we have stopped evolving physically and now are only evolving socially and homo economicus is our natural state.

So economics is based upon greed, even though they say it is “enlightened self-interest” instead of greed but then define “enlightened” as what serves one’s self interest. Our democracy, on the other hand, is based on the exact antithesis: collaboration. This grand experiment, many forget, constitutes a claim that we can govern ourselves, rather than having some divinely sanctioned monarch rule us for our own good. (Interesting that it was always for our own good and the monarchs always got rich and still do.)

In order for us to govern ourselves we have to continually strive to do the most good and the least harm, not necessarily that which creates the most profit. Currently we are failing in that endeavor.

What I am saying is there is a direct conflict between capitalism and democracy. There must be a balance between the two forces for us to survive. Unfortunately that balance has been lost. Our Congress has been bought and paid for by the monied interests. The average wealth of those serving as Congressmen is about $14,000,000 and few of them brought it with them when they entered Congress. Also, they stand to make even more when they leave public service and start lobbying those left behind.

We must get the money out of politics. It is absolutely essential. We can start by allowing only those represented by an official, actively or prospectively, to donate money to their representatives campaigns. (Yes, others have the right to free speech, so they can argue that constituents need to financially support a particular candidate but only if the source of the money behind the communication is made clear. They do not have the right to steamroll a district into electing a candidate they wouldn’t otherwise on a wave of out of district money.) We can set reasonable limits on how much any one person (including corporations) can contribute. We can start by requiring Congressmen to recuse themselves if they have received donations from any entity covered by any prospective law. We can start by replacing the political judges on the Supreme Court with some actually willing to be independent. We can start by taxing the rich; they have proven they cannot be trusted with that much free speech.

October 16, 2013

The Tenor of Our Times

I have lived long enough to be shocked by the moral shift in the tenor of our politics. We have gone from a war on poverty, which was really quite successful, to a war on the poor. Fueling this change is the concept of freeloading. Nobody approves of freeloaders, nobody. But the despicable Tea Party has managed to channel what racism there is left in this country into a freeloading scenario. They believe that white people are paying taxes largely to give “free stuff” to poor black and brown people. This is despite the fact that the primary benefactor of most successful anti-poverty program in this country, Social Security, is white women. This is despite the fact that there are more white poor than any other category.

But this is why Southern racists are willing to support policies that give their tax money to rich people instead, at least they are white! So, if anyone wonders why poor people identify themselves as Republicans, you now have the answer.

But let’s take a step back. What is wrong with giving to the poor? Hell, even Christians do it. I believe we could easily guarantee food and shelter to every citizen, for a tiny fraction of the cost of our war machine. The Pentagon is right now destroying military equipment that was never used but has become obsolete and which we couldn’t pawn off on some poor country. If we were to go back to the military budget in George Bush’s first year, we could free up about $400 billion dollars per year (not per decade as most political yahoos claim to pump up their numbers to get attention). With that much money, everyone in college could be given a free education. Everyone hungry could eat and everyone homeless could be given shelter.

Now such an idea gives Teabillies the heebie jeebies because they think that all of the poor will then have no motivation to work. They picture some black or brown person in a hammock in a homeless shelter eating government cheese thinking that they finally got it made. So you can see that this whole attitude is fueled by racism. Tea Partiers believe that black and brown people are inherently lazy and that given even the most meager level of existence, they would not want more, all evidence to the contrary.

It is time to stop making war on the poor and build a better country by providing enough of the basics that any child can go to school and build a better life without having to think about where her next meal will come from or whether she will sleep outdoors tonight.

October 14, 2013

Chinese Call for De-Americanized World

For those in the Republican Party who believe that running through the debt ceiling would be good for the country . . .  consider that the Chinese have been relatively silent about the extortion tactics of the Republican Caucus in Congress . . . until now.

If you would like to know what they think, consider the following quotes from a recent press release:

“. . . instead of honoring its duties as a responsible leading power, a self-serving Washington has abused its superpower status and introduced even more chaos into the world by shifting financial risks overseas, instigating regional tensions amid territorial disputes, and fighting unwarranted wars under the cover of outright lies.

“. . . the world is still crawling its way out of an economic disaster thanks to the voracious Wall Street elites, while bombings and killings have become virtually daily routines in Iraq years after Washington claimed it has liberated its people from tyrannical rule.

“Such alarming days when the destinies of others are in the hands of a hypocritical nation have to be terminated, and a new world order should be put in place, according to which all nations, big or small, poor or rich, can have their key interests respected and protected on an equal footing.”

For you reality-averse Republicans, this “gonna mean yo’ fat cat donors are gonna be royally pissed at you when you lose them huge amounts of money” as the world divests itself of distorting American financial instruments, like the U.S. dollar and Treasury notes.

I Call Bullshit on Extreme “College Readiness” Efforts

The current corporate takeover of public education effort centers on the Common Core National Standards, renamed the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) after it was pointed out that the federal government was forbidden by law from promoting or requiring a nation curriculum or national standards. These standards, drafted with money from the Gates Foundation (and little other input) were designed to create college readiness/preparedness in all students, starting in kindergarten. The reason for this dramatic change? They claim that, in the future most jobs will require a college education.

Hello?

That was the old economy. Thanks to the effing plutocrats, we have a New Economy and it isn’t one based on a highly educated work force. Ask around to see what the unemployment rate is for recent college graduates; it ain’t low. Yes, we will need some college educated folks in the future, there is no doubt about that, but these so-called “reformers” are telling us all of our children are going to need a college education, which means they think that nearly all of their jobs will require such and this is just flat out wrong. One technician will serve the needs of keeping manufacturing robots running, rather than a whole bevy of highly skilled and educated technicians who used to operate the machines (which in turn replaced even more tool and die workers, which in turn replaced even larger numbers of blacksmiths, etc.).

Ask yourself this question: what do you do when a computer or other electronic device breaks or stops working? Do you take it in for repair or do you recycle it and just go buy another. (Ah ha, I thought so!) And where are those gewgaws made? Rarely in the U.S. And where do you purchase your replacement? Online? For every computer technician or systems analyst online retailers employ, they employ more shipping clerks. How much of a college education do you need to become a shipping clerk?

The jobs available in the U.S. are becoming less technical and more “service” oriented, meaning that in the future people will need to be able to serve customers by selling things, processing forms, giving directions, answering questions, etc. None of these things is going to require a college education. If you think so, you haven’t been paying attention.

So, not only is the approach of the CCSS hostile takeover folks an abomination, but their rationale is, too.

October 13, 2013

Does Being Cut by a Two-Edged Sword Hurt More?

Late in the evening on September 30, 2013, the House Rules Committee Republicans changed the Rules of the House so that the only Member allowed to call up the Senate’s clean continuing budget resolution (CR) for a vote is the Speaker himself or Majority Leader Eric Cantor or his designee. This was a move to block any other parlimentary move to get a telling vote on the Senate bill.

Please realize that the Senate bill was based on a deal cut by Speaker Boehner at spending levels including the sequestration and over the objections of many Democrats just to keep the government functioning. It was and is a compromise on the part of the Senate and House Democrats. So much for “they won’t compromise,” and wasn’t compromise a dirty word for Republicans just a short while ago?

The move by Boehner will, in the best tradition of two-edged swords, also make it quite obvious who caved when he himself (or more likely his designee) brings the bill to a vote which is almost a must at this point as there is no time left for a new bill to make its way through both houses.

Why?

Filed under: Politics,The News — Steve Ruis @ 8:24 am
Tags: , , ,

Joe Wurzelbacher, otherwise known as Joe the Plumber, is back in the “news.” Why? Is the man an elected official? No. An expert on some topic? No. A representative of some core constituency of the body politic? No. (Unless he somehow got elected leader of Racists for America.)

Why is anything the man has to say considered “news.” Nothing I have to say is considered news. Probably the same is true for you. This is not fair. I am smarter than Mr. Wurzelbacher and better looking, too. How come he gets to be on TV and I don’t?

We have the same problem with politicians. Why are comments made by Michelle Bachman (R-MN) considered news? Is she a leader in her party? No. Is she a standout legislator? No. (Can you name one bill she has written?) Is she a standout thinker on matters political? No.

We are creating these people by providing them air time. They get continued airtime by astounding us, not with their brilliance but with their vacuity.

We have transformed politics into the Goon Show.

October 12, 2013

Obama Derangement Syndrome? A Thing of the Past

A wonderful article in The New Yorker by Adam Gopnik provides some perspective on ODS that is a must read. The right-wing deranged come by honestly!

www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2013/10/the-john-birchers-tea-party.html

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