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QotD: Be Like Water

You must be shapeless, formless, like water.

When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle.

When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot.

Water can drip and it can crash.

Become like water my friend.

—Bruce Lee

The Union of Concerned Scientists is just that, concerned.  They've created a system by which any government-funded scientist can report the situation or the data if their science is challenged by politics.  The UCS is not partisan, they are simply interested in maintaining this process by which we approach the truth in an objective manner.  They want to see science continue in spite of the increasingly anti-science culture of our nation.  Anyone who is not science trained is increasingly likely to have a negative opinion of science.  Scientists in general are working to understand how things work which allows us to develop medicines and technologies that improve our lives.  But television appears to be more entertaining when the doctor is the devil.

Recently my partner and I have watched almost two seasons of a series on Netflix called The 100.  The premise is that a nuclear holocaust has occurred on earth, and the only humans surviving are the residents of the space stations that were in orbit when the earth was irradiated.  The leaders there decide to send 100 (young and beautiful) criminals down to earth's surface ("the ground") after 200 years of waiting for the radiation to dissipate.  The pretty criminals are outfitted with bracelets that transmit vital medical data back to the Ark (a composite of many space stations), so that those who stay in orbit can tell if they are dying of radiation poison or something else.  It turns out there are some humans who've survived the radiation and are living on the earth's surface.  There are also a set of humans who've survived because they are inside a radiation-sheltered palace underground.  The evil elites living underground have been surviving by tapping the blood of the "grounders" who survive outdoors, and by enslaving them by way of addiction.  The violence escalates as these groups all battle for dominance, rendering the show almost unwatchable by yours truly.  I have never been habituated to bloodshed.  I don't want to be.

The evil elites in their underground palace use science and medicine to live well, with infinite hydropower, delicious food, and vicious defenses from the humans on the surface. They only care about themselves, and consider that they have a right to the planet.  They do not care about human suffering or life.  Captured humans are either "harvested" for their blood or bone marrow or converted into slaves called "reapers" who do the work of fetching more humans to be harvested.  The reapers are also cannibals, disposing of the harvested bodies.  The medical scenes have two sides.  One side of the wall shows white sheets and fluorescent lights like a hospital, and the other side of the wall is inhumane, with people in cages waiting to be used, giant needles penetrating people's necks and limbs, bone marrow being harvested without pain management or concern for the survival of the source person, and humans being scrubbed down like animals before a slaughter so that they can be hung upside down and drained of blood.  It is utterly sickening.

The good people in the series are the "grounders"--barbarians who hack at each other with swords--and the "sky people" who crashed to earth and didn't die because they were smart and found a stash of guns.  This series creates a world in which the educated are hateful and the barbarians and criminals are reasonable.  It is a populist story without the overweening power of big business, and without the inquisitive media.  The only media in sight is the television series itself.

This series is targetted at the young, and it is perpetuating a worldview in which science and medicine are evil and bad.  Education is not valued except for the mandatory techie in each group who saves the day by being smart.  Heartless "strength" is valued over and above love.  This is the kind of television that sets us up culturally for longterm rebellious ignorance.  If this one series has this perspective, how many more are there?

QotD: Hafez on Fear

Fear is the cheapest room in the house.
--Hafez, Persian poet
I've been keeping my mouth mostly shut about out political situation because I find myself disagreeing with much of what is said on all sides.  Trump is clearly delusional, and generates his own "alternate reality" which is how he has managed to get this far.  Humans are susceptable to anyone who has certainty, and tend to adopt the views of a person who knows the truth.  This is the secret of gurus everywhere.  Be certain and people will believe.  It doesn't matter if the truth they know is not true.  All it really needs is truthiness and regular repetition to be adopted.

Only 26% of registered voters actually voted for Trump.  That 26% includes several people who are dear to me, whose thoughts and opinions I respect.  The most common reason cited for their vote is hating Hillary.  In most every election that I've voted in, I've voted more against someone than for.  Only when I vote for 3rd party candidates can I really say I'm voting FOR someone.  Both the Dems and the Reps are corrupt, and have been so for a long time.  Every candidate who gains their party's nomination does so by agreeing to tow the line, to serve the corporate donors and perpetuate the corruption that has our nation's nuts in a vise.  Ethical candidates will never get those nominations; they must compromise with greed.  The Republicans elect dummies, actors, class clowns and now a narcissist.  It's embarassing.  Obama was smart and thought he coud do some good but had to quash his own ethics to serve as a Dem.  He tried to do no harm and it cost him dearly.

I worry that Americans are so idiotic as to really believe Trump's denigration of the media.  Our media is not perfect.  They parrot each other, and stories become more simplistic and less nuanced with each repetition.  Few outlets do deep investigative reporting, but some do!  They will be hard at work in the years to come making sure that somebody actually understands what is going on.  If you are one of those who believes that all media is corrupt and Trump's twitter feed is the source of truth, your IQ must be <85.  A friend of mine recently reminded me that "half of everybody is below average", well that may be true but even the less bright can have bullshit detectors that work.  I hope everybody's BS detectors are getting tuned up on this nonsense.

I also disagree with the out-freaking I hear from the Democrats.  If our nation and institutions are so fragile that one demagogue can tear them completely apart, then it was never going to stand in the first place.  America is an experiment, not a guarantee.  Nations come and go.  Species come and go.  We may not be one of the longer-lived species.  We have no hope of competing with cockroaches or horsetail.  So lighten up already.  Laws are made and repealed.  Nations are created and fall.  The planet is already infested with us.  Ten out of ten people die.  This is the way of the world, and freaking out doesn't do anyone any good.  Be an activist in the resistance if it suits you, but don't have a stroke.  Let's all just take a deep breath, and then a few more.

The group that I do not hear speaking up today are the once-upon-a-time small government anti-corporate libertarians.  Where did you go?  Why aren't you speaking up?  Are you holding your nose in the back row of the Republican party?  Perhaps you are simply happy that so many regulations will fall, that every bureacracy under the executive branch will be decomissioned, and that government will indeed shrink.  Do you not care that the new form will be fascism?  Do you not care that your fishing streams and forests full of game will be poisoned by industrial gasses and runoff?  Subsistence survival gets a lot harder when the environment is destroyed.  We might need those rivers for something other than kayaking.

QotD: The Deceased Remain With Us

The day my mother died I wrote in my journal, "A serious misfortune of my life has arrived." I suffered for more than one year after the passing away of my mother. But one night, in the highlands of Vietnam, I was sleeping in the hut in my hermitage. I dreamed of my mother. I saw myself sitting with her, and we were having a wonderful talk. She looked young and beautiful, her hair flowing down. It was so pleasant to sit there and talk to her as if she had never died. When I woke up it was about two in the morning, and I felt very strongly that I had never lost my mother. The impression that my mother was still with me was very clear. I understood then that the idea of having lost my mother was just an idea. It was obvious in that moment that my mother is always alive in me.

I opened the door and went outside. The entire hillside was bathed in moonlight. It was a hill covered with tea plants, and my hut was set behind the temple halfway up. Walking slowly in the moonlight through the rows of tea plants, I noticed my mother was still with me. She was the moonlight caressing me as she had done so often, very tender, very sweet... wonderful! Each time my feet touched the earth I knew my mother was there with me. I knew this body was not mine but a living continuation of my mother and my father and my grandparents and great-grandparents. Of all my ancestors. Those feet that I saw as "my" feet were actually "our" feet. Together my mother and I were leaving footprints in the damp soil.

From that moment on, the idea that I had lost my mother no longer existed. All I had to do was look at the palm of my hand, feel the breeze on my face or the earth under my feet to remember that my mother is always with me, available at any time.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh, "No Death, No Fear”

QotD: Gravity and Stillness

Gravity is the root of lightness;

stillness the ruler of movement.

~ Lao-tse

What is Fascism

From a poster seen in the holocaust museum:

Early Warning Signs of Fascism

Powerful and Continuing Nationalism

Disdain For Human Rights

Identification of Enemies

As a unifying cause

Supremacy of the military

Rampant Sexism

Controlled Mass Media

Obsession With National Security

Religion and Government Intertwined

Corporate Power Protected

Labor Power Suppressed

Disdain For Intellectuals & and the Arts

Obsession With Crime & Punishment

Rampant Cronyism & Corruption

Fraudulent Elections

For contemplation...Collapse )

QotD: Wash the Sacred Dishes

Wash the dishes relaxingly, as though each bowl is an object of contemplation. Consider each bowl as sacred. Follow your breath to prevent your mind from straying. Do not try to hurry to get the job over with. Consider washing the dishes the most important thing in life.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

QotD: Stranger than Orwell

Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer, and above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult…. All that was required of them was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make them accept longer working hours or shorter rations. And when they become discontented, as they sometimes did, their discontentment led nowhere, because being without general ideas, they could only focus it on petty specific grievances.

– George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

Quotes otD: Atheists on Faith

I have observed that the world has suffered far less from ignorance than from pretensions to knowledge.  It is not skeptics or explorers but fanatics and ideologues who menace decency and progress.  No agnostic has ever burned anyone at the stake or tortured a pagan, a heretic, or an unbeliever.
--Daniel J. Boorstin

One of the proofs of the immortality of the soul is that myriads have believed it.  The also believed the world was flat.
--Mark Twain

Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking.  It's nothing to brag about.  And those who preach faith and enable and elevate it are intellectual slave holders, keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsesnse that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and destruction.
--Bill Maher

A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.
--Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile.
--Kurt Vonnegut

The most costly of all follies it to believe passionately in the palpably not true.
--H.L. Mencken

An agnostic is an atheist without the courage of his convictions.
--Studs Terkel

I was raised an atheist.  Every Sunday, we went nowhere.  We prayed for nothing.  And all our prayers were answered.
--Heidi Joyce



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