Uncommon Sense

September 29, 2021

Logic, People, L–O–G–I–C

Filed under: Culture,Medicine,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:39 am
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Consider the following photograph.

The Young lady’s tee-shirt is implying that since Jesus wasn’t vaccinated, then she doesn’t need to be either.

I think this person needs a lesson or two in logic. According to her, Jesus wasn’t vaccinated, but then he wasn’t exposed to COVID-19, either and, well, vaccinations hadn’t been invented, yet.

Would it have not been better, instead, to ask “What would Jesus do?” And then answer “In order to love my neighbor, I will get vaccinated.”

In addition, Jesus, she claims, is a god. Gods don’t get sick unless they want to. Is she a god? No? Just an ordinary human? I wonder if she thinks that all of the rules that apply to gods also apply to her.

Ian Welsh on the Elite Pigs at the Public Trough

Filed under: Business,Economics,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 8:12 am
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And how China is wriggling off the capitalism  hook . . . successfully.

The Advantage of Permission & The Fall Of Oligarchies

September 28, 2021

King Croesus, er, Gates

Filed under: Business,Culture,Morality,Reason — Steve Ruis @ 1:58 pm
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One of my favorite authors was extolling the virtues of Bill Gates for all of the philanthropic great things he has done.

I look at things quite a bit differently.

Bill Gates overcharged us for years for often shoddy products. He, however, had captured much of the market for his software so we had few choices. (I tried many of them) He did produce softwares that were quite helpful to many of us (Word, Excel, etc.) but made the bulk of his money selling his operating system, Windows. How a computer could be sold without an operating system is a bit bizarre, exposing the topsy-turvy growth of the PC market. Imagine buying a car and then having to shop for software that would allow you to use it. Actually, imagine a car manufacturer that would allow someone else’s software to run it’s products. (Not going to happen.)

In any case, Mr. Gates charged so much for his products that his personal worth got to exceed one hundred billion dollars. Nobody needs that much money. To spend a billion dollars, you would have to spend $532,000 per hour, for every hour of every business day . . . for an entire year. Even Mr. Gates couldn’t spend that much money, so he collected way more money that he could possibly use. An alternative was to collect less money, allow us to keep some of our own and see what we could do with it. He still could be filthy rich with a few billion dollars in his pocket, but. . . .

So, Mr. Gates is now being lauded for what he is doing with the Money Bin full of money he has collected. I have written about this before using the phrase “Bill Gates ideas are better than yours.” He and his ex-wife run the Gates Foundation and decide what gets funded and what does not. The ideas he likes get funded. Others do not.

Imagine if they had, instead, set up a public trust with the mission to make people’s lives better and just shoved all of the money their way. But that would involve letting go, letting go of the control over that money. That would also involve not being a person everyone wants to suck up to. Imagine that, you’d be able to tell your real friends from the friends of all that money!

Personally I kind of like Bill Gates. I am a bit of a geek, he is definitely a geek. But “professionally” I like him not at all.

September 27, 2021

Aw, Poor Rich Babies

Filed under: History,Morality,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:34 pm
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I was watching a show on the National Geographic Channel recently. I think the title was “Lost Treasures of Egypt—‘Pyramid Tomb Raiders’.” The gist of the show was to point out the elaborate lengths the builders of the Egyptian pyramids and tombs of all kinds took to prevent the tombs being robbed of the treasures they held. Poorer people were buried with bowls of beer and food and prized possessions that had only personal value. Robbers wouldn’t bother such tombs as there was nothing of value to steal by the time they got around to being able to rob them (certainly not enough to copmpensate them for their labor, digging up the ‘treasures”). But the really rich people included jewelry, death masks of silver and gold and other valuable goods that had considerable value when sold. Those tombs they would rob and rob them they did. The robbing proceeded to such an extent that finding a tomb that has not been robbed has been a very, very, rare occurrence (Tutankhamen’s tomb being one of the exceptions).

So, the wealthy hired architects and engineers to design clever ways to keep the robbers out, but the robbers beat them every time, through grit and determination (and insider information).

Part of the protections was, of course, religious. The tombs were declared to be sacred and “defiling them” would be punished by the gods. Ah, the elites, they love to put on airs and the religious officials love to help them. The officials performed ceremonies declaring the sites to be sacred and established curses to inflict anyone who had the temerity to disturb those graves.

Effing elites.

They got robbed any way. Poor babies.

I have a sure-fire scheme to eliminate grave robbing: don’t put anything worth stealing in your grave. Instead give away all of your gold and silver and jewels to the poor. And instead of building immense mausoleums, far bigger than is needed to house your earthly remains, build something modest, and the money you save could instead be used to built public works that benefit the people. Such things would make your name live on longer than the elaborate (and soon to be robbed) tombs.

My mother and other ancestors possessed fairly common wisdom, part of which she taught me. One part of that was “you can’t take it with you.” Those Egyptian elite assholes tried to take it with them, so they got robbed. Served them right. I am still amazed at the archeologists and such, modern tomb raiders who should know better, siding with elites, declaring all of the preserved bodies they find as being sacred remains. Sacred to whom? They don’t even believe in the gods that made them sacred in the first place any more. Such is the deference to the elites they drum into us.

September 19, 2021


Filed under: Culture,History,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:21 am
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No, not the wooden sticks you chewed on in the fourth grade so they wouldn’t work at all as designed. I am talking about individuals who declare themselves to be in charge and order the rest of us around.

I am fascinated by rulers. Every one of them was absolutely certain that they had been chosen for the job because of their sterling characteristics, which was usually because Daddy was ruler before and it is only right to hand such chores down parent to child. But not always. Hitler was convinced he was the man for the job and his conviction was part of his personal power, power that got him elected and then accepted as a ruler, not just a politician.

But rulers are going away, you say? I think not. They have just changed location. Now that we have succumbed to rule by corporation (corporatism), making corporations lords of our government and culture, who are the corporate titans but dead ringers for the rulers of old.

How did we get to this point?

Many historians suggest that the idea of kings arose from war band leadership. War bands were outgrowths of hunting bands, which established some of the base parameters. A hunting band wanted to be led by the member who made the best decisions, the ones that put meat on the fire safely. Similarly, when “war,” actually just strife between two or more larger tribes broke out, the hunters, now warriors, wanted the most capable leaders in charge of the war band, otherwise an inept leader could get them their asses handed to them on a platter. And male egos being what they were, those positions were certainly contested.

But a war band leader wasn’t a leader over all, unless there was a continuous state of war, which there almost never was. The Vikings seems to keep their war band leaders in check, but many other cultures did not seem to do so. Large scale conflicts gave opportunities for leaders to demonstrate their leading abilities.

It seems a logical progression for a war band leader to cash in the personal loyalty of a cadre of warriors to take over a tribe and rule it despotically.

On a different career path with the same end, priests looked to use their standing with the gods to usurp such positions. There are quite a number of cultures that did not allow this to happen: shamen were kept on short leashes, religious leaders who failed to deliver the goods, ended up out in the bush on their own. But there were enough who grasped the prize of being the ruler of a tribe to set a model for others.

Take the early history of Christianity for example. In the early days, Christianity was dominated by charismatics and by those who got direct revelations from god. Other than that they were collectives of believers, meeting in people’s homes. But before long, people in those groups started giving themselves titles, such as bishop and deacon. A structure was created, a hierarchical structure unsurprisingly, and finally the separate branches of Christianity merged to make a hierarchy of centers of Christianity, which then proceeded to prune away those branches which did not take a knee in front of the orthodox powers. (This was done with violence as well as with politics.) The official histories claim that this was dome to preserve the purity of scripture, but I sincerely doubt that. It seems to have been done in a search for power over others. The unofficial titles of “father” and “papa” or “pope” usurped parental authority. Addressing people as “child” or as a member of a “flock” implied that they needed to be lead, etc. These wordings were no accidental.

Supporting all of this is a basic human yearning (I assume) to be led, to be guided by someone wiser, who would take the responsibility upon themselves rather than any of us having to do that. This lack of courage on the part of “the people” is quite common and it manifests in many ways, this being just one. We seem to embrace a passive role in our society, letting others determine what is important and what needs to be done and what does not.

A tiny minority of us, however, really want that ruler position. And it didn’t come easily. In order to be an effective ruler, you need to make sure the people got their bread and circuses, well at least their bread. And it was bread that gave us rulers. Prior to mastering grain crops, the “leaders” were specialists and temporary. Once a crop was grown which could be harvested, dried, and stored, then the ruler minority found its magic formula: coerce the agricultural labor of the masses to make grain, which was then “taxed,” aka confiscated, dried and stored. The dried grain could be used to feed the elites and to trade for other things. That the coercion worked, led to elite positions as coercers, aka guards, aka, muscle, aka thugs, aka tax collectors, etc. And once the coercion racket was showing to work, it was expanded.

Not that this was easy. The first Mesopotamian city-states rarely lasted more than a few decades before falling apart. But once the “ruler-types” got the taste in their mouths, they were hard to stop. And please do not assume this was the only way this happened, human variation will not be denied. (I would love to learn how Göbekli Tepe was founded.) Certainly other patterns existed for a time, but could not compete once this one got rolling.

The Purpose of Human Existence

Filed under: Culture,Philosophy,Religion,Science — Steve Ruis @ 8:58 am
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I continue to write about this because I see questions galore on Quora and Medium about “the purpose of our existence at the material/physical level.” For some people just the miracle of our existence is insufficient, there must be a grand scheme behind the scenes that we are helping to fulfill.

Allow me to throw a bucket of cold water on this idea through a favorite tool of Albert Einstein’s: the thought experiment.

Here is how it goes: for a period of 24 hours, human beings disappear and leave no trace. Along with us disappearing, so does all of our superstitious claptrap: souls, ghosts, etc. . . . all gone, but for just 24 hours.

What purpose or purposes do you think would exist once we were gone? I suggest “all gone.” Of course if we left behind written records alien archeologists could decipher them and discern that we believed we had a purpose in the universe. When they stopped laughing, they would recognize that our species hadn’t really been around for long when it fell.

Before the 24 hours elapses and we come back, ask yourself: how would the rest of the universe be affected by our disappearance? I hope you would see that there would be no effect of any note on the rest of the universe.

Purposes are things we invent. We invent them for ourselves, as individuals, and sometimes we band together in groups around a shared purpose. Shared purposes can also be very large, such as winning a total war in your country against an invading force, but it takes a large number of people to shape that purpose and keep it going.

The desire that there be some outside purpose for the existence of humanity as a whole, is the wish for there to be some supernatural agent which will take responsibility, rather than us taking responsibility for ourselves, as it were. Which of these two beliefs is the child-like one? Is it any wonder that so many religions ask you to “become like a child,” because if you do, then you de facto accept a belief in the existence of that deity, all because you didn’t want to take responsibility for yourself and for a few people around you.

The seeking for a grand overall purpose for all this is an egotistical juvenile search. If you just look at your life openly you will see that you have many purposes you have created all by yourself: you have the purpose of being a good parent, for example, or an exemplary worker, or a purpose to make a shitload of money, or a purpose to be the best player at you local poker game, or. . . . If you have a goal and act upon it, you have a purpose. If you want a purpose, establish a goal and start acting upon it. Go around and tell people your purpose(s) and you may even find people who share one of them and will help you meet it.

Should you decide to search out the grand overall purpose of humanity, be sure to wear your diapers.

September 18, 2021

Lies and Truths

Filed under: Economics,History,Politics,Reason — Steve Ruis @ 12:57 pm
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Consider the following quotations:

“(T)he question of their necessity (trade unions) is really superfluous. As long as there are employers with little social understanding or a deficient sense of justice and propriety, it is not only the right but the duty of their employees, who certainly constitute a part of our nationality, to protect the interests of the general public against the greed and unreason of the individual; for the preservation of loyalty and faith in a social group is just as much to the interest of a nation as the preservation of the people’s health.

“Both of these are seriously menaced by unworthy employers who do not feel themselves to be members of the national community as a whole. From the disastrous effects of their greed or ruthlessness grow profound evils for the future.”

“For in politics, as in other fields, the use of economic pressure always permits blackmail, as long as the necessary unscrupulousness is present on the one side, and sufficient sheep-like patience on the other.”

“Otherwise he (a nascent politician) runs the risk of either having to change his former position on essential questions, or, contrary to his better knowledge and understanding, of clinging to a view which reason and conviction have long since discarded. In the former case this is most embarrassing to him personally, since, what with his own vacillations, he cannot justifiably expect the faith of his adherents to follow him with the same unswerving firmness as before; for those led by him, on the other hand, such a reversal on the part of the leader means perplexity and not rarely a certain feeling of shame toward those whom they hitherto opposed. In the second case, there occurs a thing which, particularly today, often confronts us: in the same measure as the leader ceases to believe in what he says, his arguments become shallow and flat, but he tries to make up for it by vileness in his choice of means. While he himself has given up all idea of fighting seriously for his political revelations (a man does not die for something which he himself does not believe in), his demands on his supporters become correspondingly greater and more shameless until he ends up by sacrificing the last shred of leadership and turning into a ‘politician’; in other words, the kind of man whose only real conviction is lack of conviction, combined with offensive impertinence and an art of lying, often developed to the point of complete shamelessness.”

“If to the misfortune of decent people such a character gets into a parliament, we may as well realize at once that the essence of his politics will from now on consist in nothing but an heroic struggle for the permanent possession of his feeding-bottle for himself and his family. The more his wife and children depend on it, the more tenaciously he will fight for his mandate. This alone will make every other man with political instincts his personal enemy.”

Comments of the Trump era or on our current politics?

Actually these are attributed to Adolf Hitler, in Mein Kampf, which he wrote in 1924. He was by no means done creating himself, so his opinions may have changed over the next twenty years. It is hard to say.

Many people refuse to read this book, as they assume it is all lies. I argue that were it all lies it would have had little traction with the German people. Yes, there were plenty of lies and misconceptions and errors of thought, but there are also many observations that seem as true today as they were a century ago. Hitler also has a disarming way of admitting he had been wrong, many, many times, but that may have been a ruse to establish a position of “I may have been wrong back then, but I am dead right now.” Again, hard to tell. It is rare to get into the mind of a ruler, so books such as this one, Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, and a few others are worth reading.

September 17, 2021

The Power of Prayer

Filed under: Culture,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 1:03 pm
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I saw a powerful photograph of NYFD’s Chaplain Mychal Judge’s body being carried out of the wreckage after 9/11. He insisted on staying in the lobby of the East Tower to pray for all of the valiant firemen and policemen working to evacuate the building. He called upon Jesus and God to “end this now.”

Of course, the building fell on him, killing him.

Death by irony, apparently.

So many people, good at heart, dying from delusions. Could not his prayers be heard if delivered outside? Did God think that people wanted more destruction and chaos and that He should “bring it on,” such that prayers were needed as a kind of poll, to get Him to change His mind? Ah, it is a mystery.

As for rewards coming in Heaven, apparently the good priest is being lined up for sainthood. (Don’t hold your breath, as he was gay.)

September 16, 2021

Fact or Fiction: The United States Are Controlled by Satan-Worshiping Pedophiles Who Run a Global Child Sex-Trafficking Operation?

This sounds like a SNL skit or an article for The Onion, but according to a newly released survey, 15 percent of Americans agree with the false premise central to the QAnon movement that government, media, and financial worlds in the United States are controlled by Satan-worshiping pedophiles who run a global child sex-trafficking operation.

The finding is contained in a Public Religion Research Institute study released last Thursday based on interviews of more than 5,000 U.S. adults in March.

Polling that relies on agree/disagree questions can overstate the extent to which respondents actually hold such beliefs, but the survey nevertheless underscores that the allegations of the QAnon movement have been embraced by a significant number of Americans.

In the survey, 23 percent of Republicans agreed with the statement. By contrast, 8 percent of Democrats and 14 percent of independents agreed with the statement.

Well, those data would be concerning if you assumed that the respondents are serious. Currently I do not.

Americans currently contain a large component which wishes to throw a monkey wrench into “the system” as it currently is, and that system includes the all too haughty polls conduced by “pollsters.”

For example, I feel that political polls turn our elections into contests, the most used term is “into horse races.” Consequently when I receive a phone call or an email message asking for me to share my opinions, I decline. “Thanks, I don’t do polls.”

A less passive response would be to answer their questions and give the most effed-up responses one could dream up and this is what I think is going on.

This is, I suspect, in response to the government using lies and propaganda to “control the population” to the point that it has little to no credibility left.

Take the UFO issue as an example. We now know that the government/military set up programs to obfuscate, lie, and mislead the public over and over and over. When this was finally admitted, was anyone really surprised? Were you surprised?

The lying has become so brazen that politicians will say one thing yesterday and the opposite today and when this is pointed out to them, they shrug “Fake news!” We’ve been getting gaslighted by our own government for so long it no longer causes outrage or even draws comment.

The Apostle Paul vehemently said, in his own writings (we think), that “I am not a liar!” Apparently back then, being a liar had consequences. Now it seems to be only a qualification for becoming a politician.

Footnote on Irony It is now recognized that fear is the strongest lever in the propagandist’s toolbox. So, why was the lame excuse used in all of those UFO sightings, that the public wasn’t ready for the truth. I can’t think of any better lever for the ruling class to use than the fear of aliens. Turning human politicians into “Satan-worshiping pedophiles who run a global child sex-trafficking operation” seems peanuts compared to what one could claim to be the “alien threat.” Imagine the fears: They eat human babies! (They must be atheists.) They claim to have proof that their gods exist! They want to move here! They are fleeing a way more powerful alien species! Their penises are enormous and their sexual appetite for human girls is unbounded! . . . and on and on.

Controlling that narrative would be easy. The “authorities” could spend money up the yin-yang to deal with the alien threat. Military contractors would be sending their neighbor’s kids to prestigious colleges, they would be so “rolling in it.”

Funny they didn’t think of that then, but maybe their new “transparency” on the issue is just the first salvo in such a campaign, finding that the old levers aren’t as effective as they once were.

September 13, 2021

Collective Unconscious . . . or Collected Unconscious?

The philosopher/psychiatrist Carl Jung’s contribution to the “transcendental” aspects of out lives was the “discovery” of the collective unconscious.

What exactly this is is often dependent on who is describing it. One author describes it thusly: “This layer contains the accumulated historical, collective experiences of humanity. It is … the psychology of the instincts of humanity.” When asked what the contents of this collective aspect of the mind are his answer was that they “relate to the common experiences of humanity. They are the mental component of the instincts.”

Uh, okay.

It seems impossible to write about the contents of Jung’s collective unconscious without once mentioning the word archetypes. This word literally means “original types,” and is therefore considered to mean “some kind of plan which organizes causal factors, operating from a metaphysical dimension of the collective unconscious, shaping life at the material level.”

This was considered by many to be Jung’s most significant contribution to the understanding of the unconscious psyche. (I love the fact that the word psyche stems from a word meaning “breath,” likely derived from the “breath of life.” It has also been equated with the word soul, which I find ironic in that therefore a soul is just hot air.)

The reason I labeled Jung as a philosopher/psychiatrist is that he seems to be desirous of resurrection Plato’s forms, including a quasi-transcendent realm in which they exist.

The existence of “unconscious minds” is accepted today with little quarrel. It encompasses all of the mental activities, mental skills, and what have you, that we are unaware of as they operate. The use of “brain scanners” (fMRI, etc.) has brought us the first real data we can use to study these activities. For example, we now know that imagining an image utilizes the same brain regions as seeing an actual image, even when we are dreaming.

But imparting special powers to these “realms” is not at all supported. So, cataloging things that our unconscious minds can do may find that we share certain abilities in common, after all we are using the same hardware, does not imply any connectivity at all. There is a great deal unaccounted for when children are trained first by their parents and then by their teachers. And, of course, people take Jung’s work run off making claims such as “we are all connected,” or “we are all one,” and even “the universe is conscious and we are just motes in that consciousness.”

I would be shocked to not find commonalities in our unconscious mental abilities. And we can collect this information but does that imply a “collective” unconscious? I think not. In Jung’s time he did not have the tools we have now and we may yet discover such a thing, but it will hinge, I am sure, on what mechanism allows one unconscious mind to connect to others to make a collective possible.

I think such conclusions are hugely premature, driven by a strange to me desire on the part of many fellow humans that there be a “transcendent realm,” or collection of things that transcend reality. I can’t think of anything more steeped in superstition and con artistry. The ideas of heavens and hells, after lives of various other sorts, fairy realms, etc. The idea of a “life after life” couldn’t be more contradictory. The idea of reincarnation is also rife with transcendent tomfoolery. Where are souls stored before they are recycled? What the heck is a soul? Who operates the machinery? etc. (As a teacher, I found reincarnation very attractive in that if you didn’t learn your lessons, you had to repeat a grade, or grades(!), until you did!)

The idea of something, anything, transcending reality is so potent an idea that it takes collected unconscious abilities and elides them over to collective unconscious abilities, almost whether that makes any sense at all.

If Jung hadn’t have done it, casual readers surely would.

If these people had a theme song, I suspect it would be this:

Is That All There Is?
I remember when I was a little girl, our house caught on fire
I’ll never forget the look on my father’s face as he gathered me up
In his arms and raced through the
Burning building out on the pavement

And I stood there shivering in my pajamas
And watched the whole world go up in flames
And when it was all over I said to myself
Is that all there is to a fire?

Is that all there is, is that all there is?
If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is

And when I was twelve years old
My daddy took me to the circus, the greatest show on Earth
There were clowns and elephants and dancing bears
And a beautiful lady in pink tights flew high above our heads

And as I sat there watching
I had the feeling that something was missing
I don’t know what, but when it was over I said to myself
Is that all there is to the circus?

Is that all there is, is that all there is?
If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is

And then I fell in love
With the most wonderful boy in the world
We’d take long walks by the river or
Just sit for hours gazing into each other’s eyes
We were so very much in love
Then one day he went away and I thought I’d die, but I didn’t
And when I didn’t I said to myself
Is that all there is to love?

Is that all there is, is that all there is?
If that’s all there is, my friends, then let’s keep

I know what you must be saying to yourselves
If that’s the way she feels about it why doesn’t she just end it all?
Oh, no, not me, I’m not ready for that final disappointment
Because I know just as well as I’m standing here talking to you
That when that final moment comes and I’m
Breathing my last breath, I’ll be saying to myself

Is that all there is, is that all there is?
If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Leiber Jerry / Stoller Mike

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