Recent Articles

Bill Nye on the foolish concept of race

| August 18, 2015 | Reply

I completely agree with Bill Nye on the issue of “race.” We should all reject the concept of “race.” It is wholly and completely unscientific. We are all of the same species: We are all human beings. Yes, we humans come with different skin colors and we have various features that differ based on our ancestry, but we are all human. In rejecting the concept of “race,” I would urge that we maintain and vigorously enforce laws that protect people from other people who foolishly continue to believe in “race” and act on that foolish belief. If we keep clinging to unscientific unsupported notions of “race,” though, we will FOREVER be divided for an idiotic reason, regardless of how well-intentioned our belief in “race.” Unfortunately, the belief in “race” has long been widespread; and it has long been institutionalized and repeatedly used as a tool for oppression, power and financial gain. Rooting it out of every little corner of the planet will be an immense task requiring that people listen closely to those who do careful science on this issue, and then do their utmost to recognize that every person is of the same species.

Nye does not reject that there are such things as social tribes but warns that they can be destructive: “There have always been tribes . . .but what we have to appreciate now is that we live in a global community. Tribal loyalties are fun when it comes to the Superbowl but they are not relevant when it comes to our future. We are all in this together.”

We can fully recognize the need to protect people from racism and racialism while rejecting the concept of race. In my view, we should all be fighting a two front war. Deny the existence of race while at the same time protecting people from the ravages of racism. To anticipate objections to this post, yes, race is social construct that is as real as any social construct. But it is inevitably and ultimately a destructive social construct. It’s time to dismantle it while carefully protecting people from bigots.

We can fully recognize the need to protect people from racism and racialism while rejecting the concept of race. In my view, we should all be fighting a two front war. Deny the existence of race while at the same time protecting people from the ravages of racism. I thought I made this clear. Yes, race is social construct that is as real as any social construct. It is an ultimately destructive social construct. Time to dismantle it while protecting people from bigots.

I’m too impatient to wait for those who embrace “race” to wear each other out with insults, wounds and killings. I’m certainly not willing to wait for an interplanetary diaspora. I want the stupidity (and consequent mistreatment of innocent human beings) to stop NOW. There is no need to wait any longer. We can get entirely rid of the notion of race while yet embracing friendships, communities, extended families and extended ancestry, as well as 80,000 types of diversity rooted in real life things. And let’s keep in mind that ALL of us have ancestry that undeniably extends to the same place: Africa. We are all ultimately African. Starting now, let’s seek diversity only in meaningful things, such as the content of our character.

It will take many people immense effort to break out of the racialist matrix. One of my early steps out was reading about Star-Bellied Sneetches, a book demonstrating that even young children understand the problem. The concept of race is poisonous–used for mischief wherever it is used What I propose is that we embrace people while rejecting race.

this topic really frustrates me because we are all victims of this “race” scam yet we all continue to cling to this empty dangerous concept that you can use a smattering of physical characteristics to judge an entire person. And why is it that a President who has a “white” mother and a “black” father end up being called “black” or “African American”? Are we that low on brain wattage that we oversimplify like this? Why do so many of us cling to race? Ask cui bono, to whom does it benefit? It benefits many in many ways. For some it provides evidence-free victimhood. For others, an instant community. For others, evidence free scapegoats. And for most of us, “race” is a concept born out of laziness – we don’t want to do the hard work of really getting to know each other

Addendum 9-8-15

Path dependence plays into this issue big time. If people had been getting along, oblivious to skin color or other trivial physical characteristics we associate with “race,” and if someone came along and suggested, “Hey, let’s start generalizing about what kind of person we are dealing with on the basis of ‘race,” a totally unscientific and incoherent concept that I have invented based on trivial physical characteristics of humans. As people with geographically correlated trivial characteristics intermarry over time, it will become more and more absurd to determine who is of what race. I propose in fact, that a President who has a “white” mother and a “black” father will be deemed “black,” and this will invite people to treat him/her with unwarranted presumptions as to what kind of person he/she is.” If someone had made that proposal in this hypothetical scenario, it would (or at least, in an intelligent world) SHOULD be immediately rejected as absurd, divisive and dangerous.

My conclusion: the only reason we continue to divide people by “race” is because ignorant people from long ago started doing so, and they did it for horrible reasons related to power-mongering and economic advantage.

Read More

More evidence that Bush and Cheney intended to mislead the nation into the Iraq war

| August 18, 2015 | Reply

When you think in small enough chunks, everything becomes moral or amoral, never immoral. Hannah Arendt’s Banality of Evil is illustrated below, with regard to the behavior of CIA briefer Michael Morell. The conduct and motives of Bush/Cheney are a different matter entirely.

Host Chris Matthews asked Morell about a statement Cheney made in 2003: “We know he [Saddam Hussein] has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.” Here’s the conversation that followed:
MATTHEWS: Was that true?
MORELL: We were saying—
MATTHEWS: Can you answer that question? Was that true?
MORELL: That’s not true.
MATTHEWS: Well, why’d you let them get away with it?
MORELL: Look, my job Chris—
MATTHEWS: You’re the briefer for the president on intelligence, you’re the top person to go in and tell him what’s going on. You see Cheney make this charge he’s got a nuclear bomb and then they make subsequent charges he knew how to deliver it…and nobody raised their hand and said, “No that’s not what we told him.”
MORELL: Chris, Chris Chris, what’s my job, right? My job—
MATTHEWS: To tell the truth.
MORELL: My job—no, as the briefer? As the briefer?
MATTHEWS: Okay, go ahead.
MORELL: As the briefer, my job is to carry CIA’s best information and best analysis to the president of the United States and make sure he understands it. My job is to not watch what they’re saying on TV.

Read More

Living without air conditioning – again.

| August 17, 2015 | 1 Reply

I was happy to see that my electric bill for July in St. Louis was a relatively low $120. That includes all of my electric bill, which heats my water and runs the air conditioning. Some would say that I don’t do a very good job of air conditioning. When I’m living at my house without any guests, I never set it lower than 80 degrees (far higher than many people I know), and I supplement that 80 degree setting with fans. It feels great in here, and it all makes sense to me–if someone said that the high temperature was going to be only 80, that would be a wonderful day. Further, when I’m going to be mostly in my office for the day, I shut off the AC entirely and use only a small window unit.

When I got my recent bill, I was in a mood to congratulate myself, but a recent article in The Boston Globe suggests that I’m not doing nearly enough. Here’s an excerpt:

But although there are a handful of anti-A/C crusaders out there, the idea that we need to be using less of it hasn’t become a touchstone of environmental enlightenment, like recycling or hybrid cars. This may well be an indication of how deeply it has shaped our world: While we can imagine giving up plastic bags and Styrofoam, living without climate control seems unfathomable, especially during a heat wave.

Until recently, however, civilization was humming along just fine without this costly convenience—and going back might not be as impossible as we think. The human body is quite well suited to deal with heat if we let it, and if we back away just a little bit from our assumptions about what it means to be comfortable, it’s easy to picture an alternate reality in which, instead of flipping on the freon at the slightest provocation, we learn to cope with the air we have. The human body is surprisingly adaptable, and by weaving together techniques from the past, ideas from hot-weather countries, and new findings from building design experts about what people actually find comfortable, we can see a surprising portrait emerge of what life might look like if we, as a society, decided we could no longer afford our addiction.

A lot would have to change. We’d wake up earlier, and nap in the middle of the day to make up for it. We’d ride bikes and scooters everywhere, and swimming would replace running as the preferred form of exercise. Maybe we’d see the return of porch culture—of screened-in card games and flowing iced tea. And maybe we’d start taking pride in tricking out our finished basements. After a while we’d get used to it, just like we got used to the artificial indoor chill we take for granted now. And who knows—eventually we might even come to like it.

Oh, and my favorite quote from this excellent article: “We’re not cartons of milk, after all; we will not spoil, even if we do sweat a little.”

Read More

How to privatize the government

How to privatize the government

| August 17, 2015 | 1 Reply

Noam Chomsky has it down to four simple steps:


Read More

Funny or Die video exposes Planned Parenthood

| August 17, 2015 | Reply

If you want to know the details of what Planned Parenthood does, this video from Funny of Die doesn’t mince words:

Read More

How well do you keep a steady beat?

| August 16, 2015 | Reply

Whether or not you play a musical instrument, how well can you keep time while tapping? This website will give you the opportunity to test yourself.

Read More

Eric Barker compiles 5 Shortcuts To Bonding Deeply With A Romantic Partner

| August 16, 2015 | Reply

As a person who is divorced and dating, it was with special interest that I read Eric Barker’s latest on “5 Shortcuts To Bonding Deeply With A Romantic Partner.” These shortcuts appear to be legit and powerful, maybe too powerful. Thus, one should be cautioned to not use these shortcuts on the wrong person or you might end up in a long-term relationship with the wrong person (I’m thinking of two things in particular: the task of staring into each others’ eyes for an extended period and a list of personal topics that, it is claimed, will rocket the relationship forward).

One of my biggest take-aways, though was this:

John Gottman, the #1 guy on making relationships work, says 69% of a couple’s problems are perpetual. These problems don’t go away yet many couples keep arguing about them year after year. Via The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work:

Most marital arguments cannot be resolved. Couples spend year after year trying to change each other’s mind – but it can’t be done. This is because most of their disagreements are rooted in fundamental differences of lifestyle, personality, or values. By fighting over these differences, all they succeed in doing is wasting their time and harming their marriage.

The above finding would seem to be a warning to choose one’s potential partner exceedingly carefully because most of the conflicts of a relationship will remain conflicts for the entire relationship. On the other hand, I sometimes think and laugh at this episode of Seinfeld.

Barker’s advice, which he carefully compiles from many other sources, is something I will have at the ready, appreciating its power to send two people spiraling off into the wrong direction together.   One the other hand, these suggestions might serve as a tempting dose of jet fuel for what is already a good match.

Read More

Why Leviticus does not impress me regarding LGBT

| August 15, 2015 | 2 Replies

How many times have you heard someone dust off a copy of the Bible and quote from Leviticus as an argument against homosexuality or any form of sexuality other than heterosexuals engaging in missionary-position-half-dressed-in-the-dark sex? Well, James M. Kaufman wrote an impressive letter to radio host, “Doctor” Laura Schlesinger. I found a copy of the […]

Read More

The power of listening

| August 10, 2015 | Reply

A good friend of mine named Tom was an excellent parent – his son was a really cool kid. When I was about to adopt my first child I asked him what advice he had for raising children. He said, “Listen to them. Listen actively. Everything else will follow from that.”

After having raised two children, I find that to be excellent advice. Eric Barker has published a post on the power of listening. He calls it, “How To Be Loved By Everyone: 6 Powerful Secrets,” which is not a good title, because I consider it self destructive to try to be loved by everyone. But I agree with the content of the post, which centers on improving relationships by active listening. Here are Barker’s take-aways:

Be a detective. You need to be interested. The best way to do that is to play detective and be curious.

How little can you say? Ask questions. Paraphrase to make sure you understand. Past that, just shut up.

Can you summarize to their approval? If you paraphrase what they said and they reply, “Exactly” — you win.
Don’t try to fix them.

Be Socrates. Help them find their own solution. People remember their own ideas best.

Monitor body language. Eye contact and open postures are good. Touch their elbow to help create a bond.

Review the common mistakes we all make. And then don’t do them.

Listen and people will listen back. In fact, they’ll do more than that. They will come to trust and love you.

He ends with this quote by David Augsburger:

“Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.”

Read More