Recent Articles

Regulating Wall Street Banks is critical to saving the middle class

| February 1, 2015 | Reply

Regulating Wall Street Banks is critical to saving the middle class.

Read More

More of my favorite quotes

| January 28, 2015 | Reply

It’s been awhile, but here is another batch of some of my favorite quotes. To see all of them, follow this link.

“Christianity: Because you’re so awful you made God kill himself.”
Anon on Facebook

“The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.”
H. L. Mencken

“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.”
Albert Einstein

“When you get to be our age, you all of a sudden realize that you are being ruled by people you went to high school with,” noted the late novelist Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. “You all of a sudden catch on that life is nothing but high school.”

“I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, not the hate them, but to understand them.”
Baruch Spinoza, Tractatus Politicus, 1676.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”
Robert Swann

“When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers.”
Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900).

“Big Brother in the form of an increasingly powerful government and an increasingly powerful private sector will pile the records high with reasons why privacy should give way to national security, to law and order, to efficiency of operation, to scientific advancement and the like”.
Justice William O. Douglas:

“Once the government can demand of a publisher the names of the purchasers of his publication, the free press as we know it disappears. Then the spectre of a government agent will look over the shoulder of everyone who reads. … Fear of criticism goes with every person into the bookstall. The subtle, imponderable pressures of the orthodox lay hold. Some will fear to read what is unpopular, what the powers-that-be dislike. … fear will take the place of freedom in the libraries, book stores, and homes in the land.”
Justice William O. Douglas:

“It’s just an accident that we happen to be on earth, enjoying our silly little moments, distracting ourselves as often as possible so we don’t have to really face up to the fact that, you know, we’re just temporary people with a very short time in a universe that will eventually be completely gone. And everything that you value, whether it’s Shakespeare, Beethoven, da Vinci, or whatever, will be gone. The earth will be gone. The sun will be gone. There’ll be nothing. The best you can do to get through life is distraction. Love works as a distraction. And work works as a distraction. You can distract yourself a billion different ways. But the key is to distract yourself. A guy will say, “Well, I make my luck.” And the same guy walks down the street and a piano that’s been hoisted drops on his head. The truth of the matter is your life is very much out of your control.”
Woody Allen

“The second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half.”
Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821 – 1881)

“The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.”
Ernest Hemingway, author and journalist, Nobel laureate (1899-1961)

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”
Galileo Galilei

Read More

Everything you need to know about ramen noodles

| January 28, 2015 | Reply

Everything you need to know about ramen noodles

Read More

Time to end legalized political corruption. Here is how.

| January 27, 2015 | Reply

We can root out corruption in politics. PLEASE watch this 4 minute video. You can be a big part of them movement that will bypass the current corrupt political process to get the job done. Liberals, moderates and conservatives support this measure by more than a 2/3 majority. Let’s get money out of politics.

Read More

40 Powerful Issue Ads

| January 27, 2015 | Reply

Many of these issue ads deliver a vivid jolt. As indicated by the title of the article, many of these do make me stop and think.

Read More

Heavenly unanimity

| January 25, 2015 | 1 Reply

I was raised Catholic and I was taught to believe that God was actually three distinct persons in one, somehow, and this was nebulous.  But I was also told that there were a lot of other heavenly characters up there.   I don’t believe that prayer is communicating with any sentient being, but a lot of people do believe this.

It is interesting that whenever someone tells me that they prayed and that they received wisdom,  all members of the Trinity, and Mary, and all the saints and cherubim all agree with each other on all topics. It’s not like people seeking prayer guidance come away with this result: God says take the new job, whereas Jesus says wait a month and think about it, whereas Mary says go back to school, whereas the chorus of angels sings that you should give it all up and join a commune.   It seems like there is a lot of Groupthink going on up there . . .

Read More

Have a nice day

| January 25, 2015 | Reply

Ever notice the way people use the phrase, “Have a nice day”? Or “Have a great week”? Or “Enjoy your vacation”?

These are all essentially wishes, secular prayers. There is no expense involved in saying these things to anyone other than the cheap breath we expend while saying them. This is definitely not paradigmatic expensive signaling explored by Zahavi.

Therefore, we might as well wish BIG. Shouldn’t we say, “Have a nice year”? Or even, “Have a nice lifetime”? Or I hope you live a good life for 1,000 more years”? Or, I hope that you and everyone you know, and everyone you don’t know, and people who aren’t even born yet, have ecstatic lives”? Or “I hope you and all present and future sentient life in the multi-verse enjoy your lives”? Or “If there is an afterlife, I hope that all of those sentient dead people in heaven and hell, and those formerly in limbo until that was abolished by the Pope, have great lives/afterlives”?

There is actually more going on than vapid wish-making. Notice that the length of time chosen by those who utter “Have a nice [choose a period of time] correlates with the next time that that person will communicate with you. A good friend might say, “Good luck with that project next week,” knowing that you will communicate to each other in a matter of weeks. What if you only see someone sporadically? Then you might say, “Have a great summer.” What if you might never see that person again? Then you might say,”Good luck with your new job” or “Good luck with that new diet.”

Regarding those who actually know you, then, “Have a nice day” or “Enjoy your weekend” often signal social or emotional closeness.

This is not the case with the checkout person at a big box store, who hands you your bags of purchases and utters the phrase required by her oppressive corporation: “Have a nice day.” I hate that these folks are forced to work like automatons, to the extent that they are made to utter canned phrases to customers. I like to break through that script, asking how their day is going, or whether they are working a long shift. If they are reciprocating, I “wish” them that they will enjoy the remainder of their evening. At least some phrase to break through the chatter we so often encounter, and make some semblance of a connection, looking them in the eyes and meaning it, when I tell them “Thank you.” But never, “Enjoy the remainder of your life, as the time-treadmill of oblivion moves you inexorably toward your demise.” That, of course, is a different topic.

Read More

Lack of human connectedness as the cause of “addiction”

| January 22, 2015 | 1 Reply

This article at Huffpo argues that addiction cannot be found as internal chemical hooks, but rather as a symptom of human boredom and isolation:

The rats with good lives didn’t like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did.

At first, I thought this was merely a quirk of rats, until I discovered that there was — at the same time as the Rat Park experiment — a helpful human equivalent taking place. It was called the Vietnam War. Time magazine reported using heroin was “as common as chewing gum” among U.S. soldiers, and there is solid evidence to back this up: some 20 percent of U.S. soldiers had become addicted to heroin there, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Many people were understandably terrified; they believed a huge number of addicts were about the head home when the war ended.

But in fact some 95 percent of the addicted soldiers — according to the same study — simply stopped. Very few had rehab. They shifted from a terrifying cage back to a pleasant one, so didn’t want the drug any more.

Read More

Ignorance about income disparity in the United States

| January 22, 2015 | 1 Reply

According to this article in Slate, Americans are ignorant of how outrageous wealth disparity is in the United States:

According to the Harvard study, most people believe that the top 20 percent of the country owns about half the nation’s wealth, and that the lower 60 percent combined, including the 20 percent in the middle, have only about 20 percent of the wealth. A whopping 92 percent of Americans think this is out of whack; in the ideal distribution, they said, the lower 60 percent would have about half of the wealth, with the middle 20 percent of the people owning 20 percent of the wealth.What’s astonishing about this is how wrong Americans are about reality. In fact, the bottom 80 percent owns only 7 percent of the nation’s wealth, and the top 1 percent hold more of the country’s wealth – 40 percent – than 9 out of 10 people think the top 20 percent should have. The top 10 percent of earners take home half the income of the country; in 2012, the top 1 percent earned more than a fifth of U.S. income – the highest share since the government began collecting the data a century ago.

Read More