Uncommon Sense

January 8, 2022

You Can’t Make This Shit Up!

Filed under: Business,Culture,Politics,The News — Steve Ruis @ 12:56 pm
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In the news I read that “California deputy district attorney Kelly Ernby died from complications of COVID this week after years of opposing vaccine mandates.” Ah, another dose of irony that will have no effect on her “followers” as they are vaccinated against irony.

A quote of hers in the coverage drew my attention and needs a response, I think. Here it is:

“I don’t think that the government should be involved in mandating what vaccines people are taking,” she explained. “I think that’s a decision between doctors and their patients…. If the government is going to mandate vaccines, what else are they going to mandate?”

Ah, let me think . . . governmental mandates, mandates, ah, we are mandated to:
• drive on the right side of the road
• pay our taxes
• get a driver’s license to drive a car on public roads
• requiring drivers on public roads to possess insurance
• that doctors, lawyers, and hair dressers be certified
• file a federal tax return by April 15th
• that medicines be proven effective before being allowed on the market
• that cars meet minimal safety standards
• that carcinogenic chemicals not be added to food, cosmetics, etc.
• and . . . and . . .
I could go on (and on and on . . . ) but I think you get the point.

These anti-government idiots seem to think that our governments have been imposed upon us by Martian Communists instead of them being the mechanism by which we act in concert. Our government (name which one you want: state, local, school district, federal, etc.) is “us acting together.” And yes, we do not want “too much government” or “too little government” but just “the right amount of government.” I don’t see how a comment like “If the government is going to mandate vaccines, what else are they going to mandate?” helps us find the right amount.

Plus this idiot is, excuse me, was a California State legal official; she should know that children have to be vaccinated to be admitted to a public school. The “government” has been mandating such vaccinations for decades! Plus businesses can mandate that their employees get vaccinated to continue to be employed. So, businesses should have the power but not us acting collectively?

We have to stop electing idiots to public office and yes, I do know they have a constituency. But even that constituency should realize that having an idiot representing their interests is not to their advantage.

November 21, 2021

Kyle Rittenhouse Redux

Filed under: Culture,The Law,The News — Steve Ruis @ 9:28 am
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So, the criminal trial is over and Kyle Rittenhouse is off the hook, right? Well . . .

Mr. Rittenhouse is off the hook for jail time, but now, one would expect, the civil suits should begin. I believe “wrongful death” cases will be brought, one for each victim, and I do not expect Mr. Rittenhouse to win all of these or even one of these.

The penalties in wrongful death suits can sometimes be discharged in bankruptcy courts but that is not a done deal. The amounts of money in such penalties are often tied to the amounts of money the dead people could have made had they lived, so Mr. Rittenhouse is looking at a future of being a very poor person, or . . . if the right wing assholes of this country embrace him, he could have a decent life but, of course, his notoriety will follow him.

June 28, 2021

It Is Easy to Be Confused

Filed under: Culture,Medicine,Reason,The News — Steve Ruis @ 11:47 am
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I read two blog posts recently, one that stated that none of the vaccinated (in the US) are dying from COVID-19 and the other (from the UK) that only the vaccinated are dying from COVID-19. Actually, both are true.

In the US, the unvaccinated are many, just under half of the population. In the UK, the percent vaccinated is approaching two thirds.

The vaccines are reported to be in the mid-90’s% in preventive effectiveness, which is not 100%, so the vaccinated will still be getting sick, but the vaccines also prevent more severe symptoms, so the vaccinated getting the disease will be dying at a lower rate.

Consider a hypothetical region that is 100% vaccinated. What is the death rate of the unvaccinated? It is zero, of course. The death rate of the vaccinated must be higher, by default, but what people don’t hear is that the death rate is much lower than it had been for the unvaccinated. So, the vaccinated dying at a higher rate than the unvaccinated is a logical consequence of a vaccination program.

I wish that headline writers would strive to be more accurate and more complete.

Otherwise you end up with people seeing “None of the Vaccinated are Dying” and “Only the Vaccinated are Dying” and those who are not detail oriented throw up their hands and claim that “you can’t trust the news media because everything changes at the drop of a hat. Or the ideologues choose which stories to “pass on” to others who are like-minded.

In writing this I realize that a great many of the “issues of the day” have been treated the same way, exacerbating our divisions.

Do you have any ideas as to how to fix this? (Obviously expecting more from the general population isn’t going to work as it hasn’t worked for forever.)

June 27, 2021

Donald Trump 2.0?

Filed under: Culture,Politics,The News — Steve Ruis @ 8:29 am
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Before we have dispatched Donald Trump 1.0 people are trying to identify Donald Trump 2.0. My brilliant partner worried when Donald Trump was first elected that someone would come along who actually had the talent and desire to do the job in a Trumpian manner, and we would then really be in trouble.

A post today on Medium.com had the subtitle of “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appears to be a GOP favorite to attempt to continue the former president’s brand of tyranny in 2024.” The title of the piece was “The Threat of Donald Trump 2.0 Is Beginning to Emerge.”

This is an abuse of the version labeling system.

While catchy and titillating as a title, the facts don’t match it, DeSantis is at best Trump v1.01.

He does not have the savvy, intelligence, or moxie to make it past v1.1 in my estimation. He is Trumpian in a slightly better looking package.

This is a little like when television became immensely popular. People worried about the effect it would have on education, children in toto, our culture, etc. I didn’t worry so much as I hadn’t seen anyone capable of using it effectively.

Have you seen a political TV ad recently? I stopped watching them years ago, but I occasionally watch one to see if anything has changed. So far, nothing has changed. There is nothing of value in a political TV ad and there are so many of them that any which might be effective are diluted out in a sea of mediocrity. (And they pay consultants millions of dollars to produce that crap.) So, no one has learned to use TV effectively, although Donald Trump did a better job of that than any previous presidential candidate.

The big threat right now is not Donald Trump, v1.0 or v2.0. The problem now is the antidemocratic Republican and Democratic parties. Yes, I know, one is worse that the other, I don’t care; they are both execrable. The uber-rich have captured our politics and now the entire system serves their interests and not ours. And, if you think their interests parallel yours, what planet are you from?

June 26, 2021

How Sloppy Language Misleads Us All

Filed under: Culture,Reason,The News — Steve Ruis @ 10:38 am

With the release of the Pentagon’s “assessment” of “UAPs,” that is Unidentified Aerial Phenomena,” more popularly known as UFOs, Unidentified Flying Objects, The Guardian offered a piece with the title “How pop culture has shaped our understanding of aliens.”


We have no understanding of aliens . . . zero, zip, zilch.

We have never met an alien, we have never studied an alien, we have never questioned an alien. All aliens known to us so far are either: (a) fictional (am a big fan, am I) or (b) provisional in that they are based upon reports of individuals who claim they encountered such beings.

I am a big fan of fictional aliens because they offer a mechanism for authors to consider different ways to think, act, and live, without judgment. Very cool.

But as to any “understanding” of aliens, we have exactly none. If you think you do, a reality check is warranted.

A better title would be “How Pop Culture has Shaped our Image of Aliens,” or something similar.

August 6, 2020

Foot, Meet Bullet

It is a good thing the modern GOP doesn’t understand or even recognize irony. Because if they did, their Irony Meters would break over this one. Apparently, President Trump has decided that the news media are to be banned from the Republican National Convention.

This comes from a president who was elected largely through billions of dollars of free advertising provided by the news media in the run-up to the 2016 election. the news media were so into being there to see what batshit crazy comments Candidate Trump would make now, that they covered every word he uttered. (MSNBC used a count-down timer on screen to time how long it was until Trump appeared again so you wouldn’t take bathroom breaks away from their channel. Yes, that MSNBC.)

Since people were in a state of “I can’t believe he said that out loud,” they tuned in for hours and both the GOP and the news media made money hand over fist.

So, Mr, Trump’s Brilliant Idea is to ban the news media from the single biggest free media event leading up to a presidential election.

Crack! Shit, there goes another Irony Meter. <sigh>

In the GOP lexicon, the antonym for greed is stupidity, I think.

July 2, 2020

The Misuse of COVID-19 Statistics

Filed under: Culture,Reason,The News — Steve Ruis @ 12:25 pm

I know Americans are virtually statistically illiterate but one thing keeps bothering me.

I read today in a local Chicago newsletter that “Illinois saw 828 new confirmed cases of Coronavirus and 30 more deaths in the past day. Both numbers were increases from previous days this week, but are still part of an overall decline since the peak of the crisis in mid-May. The weekend’s deaths were the lowest numbers in three months.”


The deaths recorded today were of people who contracted the virus days or weeks ago. The numbers of cases reported and deaths for any particular day/week etc. are not correlated. If, say, it takes 13 days on average to die from COVID-19, then the deaths of any day are linked to the number of diagnosed cases from 13 days ago.

The US as a whole has seen a recent surge in the number of cases of COVID-19 with the daily numbers reaching record levels. Then people are commenting that the brighter side is that the number of deaths hasn’t gone up. They need to wait a bit to even know what the effect of that rise in diagnosed cases results in.

March 6, 2020

False Dichotomies

The corporate news world has a secret weapon . . . that being fairness. Even Fox (sic) News labeled itself as being “Fair and Balanced” for many years (but have stopped using that tag line, which means . . .).

Here is how it goes: a “news” program brings on a guest who decries man-made climate change. Then out of “fairness,” they bring out a guest who thinks man-made climate change is hooey. That’s fair, right? Both sides of the “debate” get their argument heard.

But if one were to have scientists as guests in this scenario, roughly 97% of climate scientists, the ones who have actually studied the scientific problem, have one view (It’s real, bitches.) and only 3% think that it is not man-made or not primarily man-made. To be “fair” you would put 97 white balls in a fish bowl and three black balls and pull one ball at random each time you had a climate change scientist as a guest. If you got a white ball, you selected a scientist of the 97% cohort and if a black ball a scientist of the 3% cohort.

If one were to use the global population as a guide, roughly (Pew polling numbers) 68% believe climate change is a major threat, 20% believe it is a minor threat, and 9% believe it is not a threat.

But this is not enough of an advantage to the advocates for the status quo, that is the people who are making money hand over fist doing business the way things are now. So, the dichotomy became a dichotomy of view points. Guest A representing one view, and Guest B representing the opposite view, no matter whether those views are representative of the population of experts.

But, wait, there is more!

Often the view favored by the plutocrats is presented by a doctor of something or other: medical doctors, dentists, engineers, etc. Medical doctors are preferred because they are given the honorific title of “Doctor” even though their doctorate is not at all germane to the discussion under way. Consider as an example Doctor Ben Carson. But the use of the title “doctor” lends credence to the position of the person speaking, even though it is not applicable. Professors are called “Professor” even when what they profess isn’t the subject at hand.

This is yet another reason why I do not watch televised/computerized news programs. Their objective isn’t getting at the truth of a matter, their object is . . . just what is their objective, do you think?

November 18, 2019

When Punching …

Filed under: Politics,The News — Steve Ruis @ 12:49 pm

… make sure you are not punching uphill!


November 19, 2018

The Mass Media Are Giving Capitalism a Bad Name

Last night on television, one could watch a couple of documentaries. One was The Clinton Affair, an account of a presidential impeachment from 20 years ago. The other was an MSNBC “special” called Betrayal, The Plot That Won the White House, an act of treason by a GOP candidate for president from 50 years ago. Apparently we now have red and blue entertainments.

Other than treason being a mainstay in GOP national politics, both of these seem to be aimed at making money off of our political divide. There are enough Clinton haters to acquire a substantial audience for the first and enough Nixon haters to acquire a similar audience for the second.

This, of course, is as we are undergoing a major challenge to our fundamental system of government and there are topics galore that the public needs to become informed about. I do not see what benefit rehashing either of these stories has for people now. Nixon’s treason was undermining the Vietnam peace talks as a private citizen, is of a pattern. Ronald Reagan committed his treason in the Sandinista Affair and earlier in undermining Jimmy Carter’s negotiations to free our captives in Iran (in order to get elected). The details of Mr. Trump’s treason(s) have not been elucidated as yet. (I also have my suspicions about G.W. but that is another story. None of these have stopped or even slowed down people voting for these or other candidates from that party.

And, clearly, the more our “mass media” are asked to conform to the “standards” of capitalism, the more they become rootless seekers of profit. At one time the head of CBS News said something alike to “The news division doesn’t need to make a profit; I have I Love Lucy for that.” Today’s “news media” are scrambling for “revenue streams” to stay afloat and under such conditions will succumb to the dictates of survival of the profitable. Pandering to “red” and “blue” audiences comes natural as does ignoring the role a free press plays in holding our leaders to account. (Doing it after they are dead is a tad late.)

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