Recent Articles

Lee Camp Compares Elections in the U.K. and the U.S.

| May 24, 2015 | Reply

Once a person can clearly state the problems, the solutions becomes clear. With regard to the corrupt bread and circus elections in the United States, Lee Camp makes the problems crystal clear. Note, especially the short campaign season in the U.K. (a matter of weeks) and the fact that in the U.K. TV and radio political ads are banned.

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How to get richer by squeezing money out of the poor: invest in trailer parks

| May 23, 2015 | Reply

Here’s where free market fundamentalism leads us: dulled consciences and oppression of those on the brink of homelessness.

From the U.K. Guardian:

Some of the richest people in the US, including billionaires Warren Buffett and Sam Zell, have made millions from trailer parks at the expense of the country’s poorest people. Seeing their success, ordinary people from across the country are now trying to follow in their footsteps and become trailer park millionaires. The Guardian went to Orlando to learn the tricks of the trade from Frank Rolfe, the self-appointed dean of Mobile Home University, as he led would-be investors around a trailer park for sex offenders.

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The sickness of the U.S. political system in one graph

| May 4, 2015 | 1 Reply

Bottom line of this research: It doesn’t matter what most Americans want their politicians to do.

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The Plan of Represent.US to wipe out legalized political corruption

| May 1, 2015 | 1 Reply

Josh Silver of Represent.US presents the plan:

Here is more.

The plan boils down to this:

We are protecting our communities and our country from corruption by passing city, state and federal Anti-Corruption Acts.

Problem = Corruption.
Solution = Anti-Corruption Act.

The American Anti-Corruption Act sets a standard for city, state and federal laws that break money’s grip on politics:

  • Stop political bribery by making it illegal for elected officials to raise money from interests they regulate.
  • End secret money by mandating full transparency of all political spending.
  • Empower voters with an opt-in, individual tax rebate for small political donations.

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How artificial sweeteners cause obesity

| April 27, 2015 | Reply

I had heard that using artificial sweeteners can cause obesity, but hadn’t before seen an explanation. This article by Tom Philpott of Mother Jones describes the mechanism:

[A] slew of studies have shown that faux sugars may actually contribute to the very diet-related maladies they’re marketed to protect us from—type 2 diabetes, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, strokes, and heart attacks… [T]hose who drank at least one diet soda per day were 43 percent more likely to suffer strokes and heart attacks than people who drank none, even after controlling for such factors as weight, level of exercise, diabetes, high blood pressure, and intake of calories, cholesterol, and sodium. Another large population study, published in 2009, found that daily diet soda drinkers were 67 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people who shun them—again, even after adjusting for lifestyle and demographic factors. …

Purdue University behavioral neuroscientist Susan Swithers suggests that fake sweeteners do their dirty work by confusing our digestive systems’ Pavlovian response to sugar. When you smell food, she explains, you begin to salivate and your stomach begins to grumble; that’s your body preparing for what it assumes from experience is a hearty meal to come. Similarly, she says, a sweet taste is a “pretty good indication that sugar is going to arrive in your body”—that is, a blast of easily digestible calories. So, quaff Pepsi, and your body starts releasing digestive hormones and increases its metabolic rate, “because you have to expend energy to get energy out of your food,” she explains.

Fake sweeteners appear to subtly disrupt the trillions of microbes that live in our digestive tracts. But when you start ingesting sweet blasts that then don’t deliver the usual calorie blast, your body no longer knows what to expect. As a result, Swithers says, tests have found that “animals who have experience with artificial sweeteners don’t seem to be as good at regulating their blood sugar levels when they get real sugar”—hence the associations with diabetes and other metabolic troubles. And this mechanism would appear to be independent of the kind of low-calorie sweetener used.

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A Fun Way to be More Successful

| April 26, 2015 | Reply

Eric Barker shows the research: worker bees are not the most successful workers, and it’s because they are focusing only on the work while ignoring their social needs and becoming unhappy in the process.

Barker recommends this excellent TED talk by Shawn Achor:

Another helpful post is Barker on getting organized/happy.

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About ignoring the Old Testament

| April 26, 2015 | Reply

Most Christians I meet embrace only the most popular teachings from the New Testament, but ignore all of the embarrassing passages from the Old Testament, all the while claiming that the Bible is the most important book in the world.

This site reminds Christians that Jesus himself embraced all the Old Testament.

1) “For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:18-19 RSV) Clearly the Old Testament is to be abided by until the end of human existence itself. None other then Jesus said so.

2) All of the vicious Old Testament laws will be binding forever. “It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter of the law to become invalid.” (Luke 16:17 NAB)

3) Jesus strongly approves of the law and the prophets. He hasn’t the slightest objection to the cruelties of the Old Testament. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest part or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.” (Matthew 5:17 NAB)

3b) “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16 NAB)

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About Libertarianism

| April 25, 2015 | 3 Replies

At my Facebook page, I often banter with self-declared Libertarians. This is a comment I recently wrote, attempting to explain my disagreement with a claim that the estate tax should be repealed (and, in fact, the IRS should be abolished):

I disagree with your assumption that everything will become the land of milk and honey if only government will just get out of the way. I’m not for bad government, yet much of the federal government today is bad government. But if we dismantle government power, power will re-assert itself, one way or the other.

Government HAS gotten out of the way of Wall Street, Insurance Industry, Big Pharma, Telecoms, and they have run rampant — they are FUCKING the American public. They are like sociopathic gangsters and thugs who have filled the vacuum, thanks to the federal government having already gotten out of the way. We already HAVE libertarian government regarding many major industries, many of whom pay no tax or minimal tax. And we now see their true colors. They don’t give a shit about ordinary people–they fuel the short-sighted desires of their boards, officers and stockholders They believe that they live in a amoral oasis–a moral-free zone where commerce is simply a place to make money, despite long term damage to ordinary people or the environment. Most big industries also seek to destroy all competition and steal your money through monopolistic practicers, because the current system invites this, once the “evil” once the government steps out of the way. For instance, large monied industries are in the process of dismantling all consumer protection laws – it’s happening right now in Missouri.

I’m for smart, self-critical government that serves as a referee to keep the playing field even. I’m not for wild-eyed governmental reallocation of money from those who work hard to those who choose to not work hard. But the government involvement I seek does require funding, and the next question is where this funding should come from. Taking a tiny slice of money from extremely rich dead people does not offend me to the extent that that funding is used wisely to increase opportunities (not guaranteed outcomes) to those who need a hand and who desire to work hard to become taxpaying citizens themselves.

I was not born into poverty — I assume you were not either. Those who were born into poverty cannot be expected to magically do well, although a few of them will, despite the horrible odds against them. We can either cross our fingers and hope (or pray) that they simply somehow become productive members of society, but there are only relatively rare examples of that. To the 8 year old kid who is trapped in a crappy household, school and neighborhood, it is a moral imperative that we lend a hand, not just sit there and let him or her languish.

I try to live in the real world–I’ve avoided any form of gated community, but I need and appreciate public funding to allow good things to happen. I treasure public libraries (which allows me to volunteer to teach ESL) and public parks, which thousands of people in my neighborhood enjoy every day. One of my children goes to an amazing public performing arts school where almost 70% of the kids are on free or reduced meals. I see these kids brimming with potential every day, and thank goodness the government has offered them an incredible opportunity. Shall we yank that food from those kids and tell them to go find food in dumpsters? Should we close down the public schools and tell those families to go find private schools that will give them high quality educations pro bono? Good luck with that plan. There are millions of kids out there who need better food, shelter and schools, and for the great majority of them, no one is stepping up for them. I believe that government has a legitimate roll to play.

Can we do better than we are currently doing? Of course, and a huge reason for that is that people from all points of the political spectrum have been trying to grow government to fuel their pet projects and pet ideologies even when those programs have been shown to be counterproductive and destructive.

I understand, then, your distrust of government. It is run poorly in many respects. But completely unplugging government funding, which I understand to be your preferred approach, is an experiment I am not willing to partake in. It will turn society over to the mercy of gangsters and thugs, many of them wearing suits and ties. Note that I am not criticizing you for being “selfish.”

All of us want to keep what we work for. Most of us are wary of altruistic schemes, other than our own pet projects. My concern is that pulling the government out of the picture will lead to massive social disorder many levels of magnitude greater than our current level of social disorder.

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The bad things about religions

| April 23, 2015 | 2 Replies

New article at Raw Story is titled, “These are the 12 worst ideas religion has unleashed on the world.” If only religions would divest themselves of these tendencies. But then, if they did so, they wouldn’t be considered religions.

Chosen People

Heretics

Holy War

Blasphemy – Blasphemy is the notion that some ideas are inviolable, off limits to criticism, satire, debate, or even question.

Glorified suffering

Genital mutilation

Blood sacrifice

Hell

Karma

Eternal Life

Male Ownership of Female Fertility

Bibliolatry (aka Book Worship)

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