Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Summer Reading

I've been going through these books. Some I finished. Some almost. Some nowhere near ...

Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming

A friend loaned me this one. I was hoping to write a review but I don't think I'll have the time. Suffice to say it is an exhaustive, comprehensive and devastating expos√© of the Doubt Industry which also includes a plausible explanation for the reasons why otherwise intelligent, respectable scientists would debase themselves the way that they did. (Basically it was a dogmatic adherence to the "freedom" of "free markets." Also, a lot were nuclear physicists who owed their careers to the US government and still saw their job as being to defend said government and the US-American way of life.)

Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo

This was quite interesting. Galileo was a pretty smart dude. Amazingly observant. The way he discovered the moons of Jupiter and the way he speculates on the surface of the Moon and the nature of sunspots .... incredible. There's also a summary of the actions of his critics that eventually ended up with his being placed under permanent house arrest. (He chose that over being tortured. And he was lucky that the Pope liked him because he could have just been sentenced to death.)

The Tides of Mind: Uncovering the Spectrum of Consciousness

This I got at the bargain table at "Coles" in Jackson Square. David Gelernter is a path-breaking computer programmer. (He was one of the unabomber's targets. He's also religious, a climate change denier and a Trump supporter! I found out all that a few minutes ago.) Maybe I'll finish it. But not on the subway on the way to or from work. Because I'm tired during those rides. And a lot of the first chapter is him describing the incoherence of the state of consciousness we're in as we're about to fall asleep. Some of the reviews I just looked at say it's an amateurish, overly "artistic" look at the phenomenon of consciousness. That made me think that it's like a couple of other books I've read recently wherein the authors seem more concerned with showing off their breadth of culture than with sticking to the point.

The Pig That Wants To Be Eaten and 99 Other Thought Experiments

This book would make a good undergraduate's introduction into philosophical thinking. The writing is clear and concise and the summaries of the philosophical source material is fairly accurate. But three-quarters of the way through it's gotten repetitive. Then a chapter on whether the President of the USA should break the law (assassinate a genocidal dictator somewhere) to promote the greater good (preventing a massacre) rubbed me the wrong way. The premise that the USA is a force for good in the world is clearly nonsense. Then, not long afterwards there was an incoherent thought experiment based upon the supposed wisdom of serial fraudster Bjorn Lomborg. I'm not sure I'll finish it.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Elizabeth May & the Toxic Trudeau Hater

I always liked Elizabeth May. She always seemed like an honest, principled person who would be forever content to cheer-lead for the Liberal Party of Canada. However, in hiring Trudeau-hater/Scheer-supporter/fake-scandal mongerer Warren Kinsella, May is either showing her true colours, or, that she's lost her mind.

The Greens are saying that in today's hard-boiled, gloves-off political climate, they need an attack dog like Warren Kinsella to "defend" themselves from the smears and innuendos that will soon be coming their way. But Kinsella isn't a shield. He's a weapon. And he's got his own agenda. And it certainly isn't the health of the planet (which is what the Green Party claims is THEIR agenda).

I certainly hope that May regains her senses and turfs Kinsella. Because we're still suffering under a first-past-the-post electoral system and the Liberals need EVERY SINGLE NON-CONSERVATIVE VOTER'S VOTE in order to stave off the GHASTLY Cons. (And, BTW. the reason we still have FPTP elections is because Guy Caron said something in a committee or some such thing and that Justin Trudeau, despite his powerful MAJORITY GOVERNMENT was powerless to simply ram through his preferred electoral option. He simply couldn't do it. There was non consensus in the land. And the Liberal Party when in government has never done anything without a broad national consensus. (Unless you're talking about spending $4 billion on a pipeline or signing-on to an imperialist-led war somewhere.) So, if you're going to say that it's Justin Trudeau's and the Liberal Party of Canada's fault that we remain in a state whereby the anti-democratic, contempt-of-Parliament, homophobic, eco-cidal Conservative Party of stephen harper and Andrew Scheer and Jason Kenney and Doug Ford remain contenders for power (thanks to the prevalence of stupidity and racism and ignorance and laziness and stupidity amongst the population) I'll tell you to GO FUCK YOURSELF. Because it's all the fault of that NDP MP in that committee who said something that neither he together with the rest of the opposition MPs COMBINED could have forced the Liberal majority government to do. IT IS NOT JUSTIN TRUDEAU'S FAULT!!!!

Doesn't May, and the Green Party and those OLD toxic-Trudeau haters (who are AGED, and therefore OLD, and therefore GOING TO DIE SOON, and therefore unimportant and probably senile and who cares what OLD "shudder" people think???) realize that only JUSTIN TRUDEAU CAN SAVE THE WORLD???? Who else is going to pay lip-service to the Paris Climate Accord while FAILING to meet even stephen harper's emissions targets? Who else is going to continue to service the Koch brothers' agenda while mouthing platitudes and absurdities about using the money from the Tar Sands to invest in clean energy? Don't people realize that a carbon tax is THE ULTIMATE BEST THAT CANADA CAN DO to pretend to believe that civilization is going to fry in 10 years unless we show that we're pretending to do something????

Listen people: Justin Trudeau is VERY HANDSOME. In his own way he's BRAD PITT-LEVEL GOOD LOOKING!!! I might have forgiven Christy Clark for all her BAD SHIT that she did in British Columbia if she'd have let me TIT-FUCK her.

I can only imagine what I'd be like if I was sexually attracted to men!!! And he PROMISES nice things!!! So what if he often doesn't deliver? So what if his eco-warrior stance is FRAUDULENT??? He's socially liberal. He's all for welcoming everyone and a champion of LGBT rights (just like his father!!!) and he's a definite improvement on the creepy, Christo-fascist harpercons.

[So: In case you're wondering; there's a little bit of satire and a little bit of sincerity in this crazy, mixed-up post of mine.]

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Stupid stephen harper

stephen harper is lowlife degenerate scum who desecrated what little we have of democracy in this country, so I have no compunction against mocking and insulting him and his laughable attempt to write a fucking book. And if doing so has the practical effect of puncturing a balloon-headed moron who is supposedly the "mastermind" behind the political bowel movement of conservatism, so much the better.

So, now I'm going to deal with his prologue. Here he starts off talking about watching Donald Trump become the president of the United States and how, unlike how for many other people, this didn't take harper as a complete surprise. FWIW it didn't take me by surprise either. And I apparently got there earlier than harper did. Because Trump was demolishing his Republican rivals because they were offering more of the neo-liberal crap (called the "Washington Consensus" for a reason) that had gotten the country into the sorry state that it is. Trump, meanwhile (and however insincerely) was promising to renege on free trade deals and thereby bring manufacturing jobs back to the USA and to get the country out of the endless wars in the Middle East and elsewhere that (apparently) even right-wingers are heartily sick of. The policies of his rivals, that were so unpopular were, by the way, the same policies that harper had done his level-best to bring to Canada.

harper mentions how Trump wasn't really a "conservative" and that his "birtherism" made him appear a fool and a bigot. And if Trump is a fool and a bigot, then who voted for him? Here comes a quote typical of the hypocrisy and pomposity that gives harper's book its own peculiar smell:

For many liberals, wedded to the belief that those who disagree with them are fools and bigots by definition, that answer [that Trump's voters are also fools and bigots] may be good enough. For us conservatives, who fancy ourselves students of human nature and human experience, it should not. The ones with the foolish and preconceived notions were those who got it so wrong. It is time to re-examine our assumptions.

Awww! Now why would progressives think that conservatives are fools? Is it because they vote for shambling, hypocritical embarrassments like the Ford brothers? Is it because they "support the troops" by voting for political parties that do the most to abuse the troops when they are injured, maimed and useless? Is it because they often don't understand the first fucking thing about how the world works? And why would we call them "bigots"? Just because they hate all Muslims as terrorist death-cultists? Because Andrew Scheer stood at the same platform at the same event and spoke to the same crowd that had listened to a goddamned WHITE SUPREMACIST (Faith Goldy)? Is it because Trump denied Barack Obama was an American because his skin was dark? That Trump continued to call for the execution of the Black and Brown-skinned Central Park Five even after DNA evidence proved their innocence? Is it because of their monstrous hatred of the First Nations?

Shut the fuck-up you goddamned whining snowflake!

And "students of human nature"? Hi-fucking-larious! Morons, hypocrites and closet-cases. stephen harper himself is a pompous ass who insisted (against all protocols) that the CAF salute him, as their "commander-in-chief" even though that ceremonial role is held by the Crown. And then when he heard gunfire in the halls of Parliament outside the Conservative Party caucus room, this "warrior-chieftain" ran to a broom closet to wet himself.

These imbecilic scum will call for "hard time" and long prison sentences for people accused of drug crimes but when one of their own turns out to be a criminal addict they will weep piteously and say they pray their friend gets help to wrestle with his (infrequently her) demons.

No harper, you're not a student of human nature and experience. You're a plodding dullard and an emotional basket-case.

harper then concludes with the unoriginal (but strange given his own contributions) observation that public policy in the OECD over the last couple of decades hasn't benefited ordinary people and how we have to figure out why this happened and what to do about it. The fact that progressives have been saying this the entire time and have laid-out numerous policies to help ordinary people is either deliberately ignored by harper or he's so insanely deluded that he can't even process it. he can't even make the connection between his fighting with leftist opposition to his policies and the fact that leftists were criticizing the policies he himself is now saying haven't worked.

The prologue continues but my energy (and interest) flags for the day. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Elite Plans For Climate Change

Here's a good article by Richard Moser: "Doubling Down: The Military, Big Bankers and Big Oil are Not In Climate Denial, They are in Control and Plan to Keep it that Way." The United States Department of Defense, the financial insurance companies, ... heck, even the oil companies (!) do not deny that human-caused global warming is real. But the perpetrators have no plans to reduce their contributions to the problem if it will negatively impact their bottom-lines. No. They plan on adapting to the new reality and profiting from any proposals to ameliorate the crisis. (The insurance industry won't call for the abolition of capitalism. It will hike premiums and refuse to provide coverage for vulnerable sectors.)

So how is it that the bankrollers of climate chaos, investing  $1.9 trillion in fossil fuels just since the Paris Accords, also claim to “manage and mitigate these climate-related risks?”
According to the bankers, the problem with climate change is that it’s “posing significant risks to the prosperity and growth of the global economy.” What they will not say is that the global economy — which demands enormous fossil fuel production and consumption — is posing significant risks to the climate. The global shipping and aviation on which peak profit-making depends is, like the military, exempt from the Paris Accords. The bankers, generals, and politicians are protecting the sources of their power.
It's a decent summary of the situation that shows how the petro-dollar backs-up the military-industrial-complex which props-up the US-dominated world economic system which serves the capitalist class very well. They are NOT going to undercut the basis of their wealth and power.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

stephen harper and the Dunning-Kruger Effect

Now, Please understand that I would never pay money for a book by Canada's most nauseating prime minister, stephen harper. I wouldn't even take the trouble to sign it out of the library. However, a couple of months ago I was at a friend's house and I saw that under the coffee-table he had a copy of harper's attempt at remaining relevant and masquerading as a "thinker" of weighty matters: Right here, right now: politics and leadership in the age of disruption. My friend (only an occasional follower of politics) said that he saw it and thought he should try to see what "the other side" is saying about the world. (He's a pro-union, non-racist guy. Socially liberal who enjoys his middle-class lifestyle.) He said that he started to read it but soon grew bored and then irritated. harper (he says) divides Canadians into "good" ones who believe in the things stephen harper believes in, and "bad" Canadians, who do not. And the first third or so of what my friend read was (according to him) harper simply asserting this principle no matter what the topic. My friend said he had no interest in reading further and that I could have it if I wanted it.

Well, actually holding the book in my hand and knowing that I could read it at my leisure, with no due date to return it, and having wasted no money on it, I gave myself over to the sadistic, morbid compulsion to read it the way people slow down to look at a traffic accident beside the highway. I know that stephen harper is a moron and a fraud so I know the book will provide me with loads of unintentional mirth. Also, given the sad fact stephen j. harper (despite his demonstrated absence of brain power) remains a strong influence, an >√©minence grise of the intellectual vacuum that is the Canadian Conservative scene, perhaps it would be fun to expose him as the same dunderhead that he's always been. That by writing a book (or attempting to write a book) harper unwittingly validates the Dunning-Kruger Effect, to whit: He's a stupid man who doesn't know he's stupid and thereby stupidly imagines that the odours of his brain-farts are worthy enough to compile into a book that people are supposed to read and not laugh at.

For today's post I'm just going to deal with the quotes from the book that are featured (in the place of laudatory reviews from reputable critics that they obviously couldn't get) on the back cover.

ON THE AGE OF DISRUPTION: "This is an age of increasing disruption of all sorts --- one that is now having significant political impacts in even the most stable, advanced democracies."

Yawn. Vague. Useless.

ON PRESIDENT TRUMP: "I do not know whether Donald Trump's presidency will succeed or not. But what I do know is that the issues that gave rise to his candidacy are not going away."

Wow. What a brave stance to take!

ON PUBLIC POLICY: "The policy-maker has to understand why something is good public policy and continually calculate how it is playing out. And if it's not working out well for the public, in a democracy, you fix the policy; you do not denounce the public."

Holy fuck! Was Afghanistan good public policy? Especially since (as I pointed out here) you insulted the people for questioning that clusterfuck? Was austerity good policy? Was keeping nuclear reactors operating when they needed maintenance good policy? Was (as we'll focus on again) weakening railroad safety regulations good public policy? Was climate change denialism good public policy???Did stephen j. harper ever do anything that could be described as "good public policy" the entire time he presided over Canada? [Answer: NO.]

ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE: "Trade is complicated. It has winners and losers. Trade negotiations require clear-eyed knowledge and in-depth assessment. It is as possible to get a bad deal as a good deal. And political leaders have a responsibility to know the difference."

First of all, harper's commitment to free trade was based on ideological and not on "clear-eyed knowledge and in-depth assessment." Secondly, regardless of his own behaviour, I think we'd all have to agree that that statement is depressingly banal and useless.

ON IMMIGRATION: "The real key to a successful immigration system is convincing the  public that the system serves the national interest, that it is not injurious to working people, and that it is administered with integrity and consistency."

Remember; It's not to actually DO any of these things. It's to convince the public that you're doing these things. (Even when you're not.)

ON CONSERVATISM: "Conservatism is rooted not in abstract 'first principles' but in real-world experience applied to the needs of regular people."

More stupid bullshit. harper pursued a policy of ruinous tax-cuts, austerity and de-regulation based on nothing more than a crude ideology. Throughout the early chapters of his book harper will admit that recent policies (the neo-liberal consensus shared by both his party and the Liberals) have failed "regular people." So, he didn't follow his own advice. (From what I've read so far, harper will be trying to blame China for most of what went wrong.)

ON GLOBAL BUSINESS: "Get back to basics. Invest and hire. Contribute positively to the communities in which you operate and make sure the people you touch know about your enterprise and what you are doing for them. Distance your own firm from unnecessary controversy and bad business behaviour."

Ha-ha-ha! Don't forget to also eat food when you're hungry. And remember to distinguish between healthy food and rotten food. (Also stay away from eating vomit and shit.) Drink liquids when you're thirsty. (Make sure that they're not poisonous liquids before ingesting them.) Imagine the sort of person who would read that plodding drivel and find a revelation in it!!
So, I hope you enjoyed this post. I've only read a couple of chapters and they're so full of bullshit that felt that I should stop and deal with them (to the extent that I do anything anymore) before continuing with the book. I certainly don't want to waste anymore time than I have to on it.

Monday, June 24, 2019

I'm quite mad you know.

After stephen (pissing-in-the-closet) harper was found to have won his majority government through election fraud (on an election that was called because of his demonstrated contempt of Parliament) I came up with a ludicrous notion of a campaign to force him to resign and have a new election called to be fought on the basis of respect for parliamentary democracy. It involved establishing the case that harper's right to govern over us was illegitimate; a months-long grassroots, door-to-door/in the streets, public outreach program asking people to join a campaign against harper, to an escalating series of protests, occupations and strikes.

I had this stupid belief that if you're going to ask why people aren't in the streets, "doing something" about harper, then you, yourself, should have a plan that you could suggest people try. Especially if (as it turned out) nobody else was really proposing anything. Obviously, trying to put meaning into the slogan "Educate! Organize! Resist!" was a completely moronic idea and saner heads prevailed. My proposal went nowhere.

[I've just recalled another instance of my pathological compulsion to put meaning into otherwise empty statements! And I blogged about it here but can't seem to find it. If I find it later I'll attach a link right "HERE." Anyway, I was on fazebock and someone posted a link to a news story about a current instance of police brutality in the USA. One of my fazebock frendz commented words very similar to "And the same thing will happen in Canada unless we do something." I asked him what he meant by "do something." He said that well, he wasn't qualified to make suggestions. I told him that as an adult citizen of Canada OF COURSE he was qualified, so what did he suggest? And he essentially said that we should all just keep pointing these things out and then a critical mass will develop and from out of that, SOMEBODY ELSE would suggest an actual plan. And then the problem would be addressed.]

So, as a result of the failure of my shit-for-brains strategy to stand-up against harper and his throrough abusing of our pseudo-democracy, and for a bunch of other asinine reasons (the inability of so many progressives to recognize that people such as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau are monsters) (the way otherwise intelligent people allowed themselves to be swept-up in the utter insanity of "Russia-gate") I've become rather despondent lately.

"His mania for his mad schemes ending in (inevitable) frustration, the patient becomes listless, dissipated."

But, you know, at least I wasn't frothing at the mouth babbling about how the Left should actually DO SOMETHING rather than bloviate when we're faced with a challenge. At least I wasn't letting my delusions of omniscience cloud my mind and prevent me from realizing that petitioning corrupt psychopaths and holding afternoon rallies to DEMAND that our governments of corrupt psychopaths obey us OR ELSE NOTHING!!! really are productive exercises that achieve real results. It's just that I can't see these results and all the lefty-writing I read keeps saying how things are getting worse.

But sadly, I've had a relapse. As you know, Doug Ford got elected as premier of Ontario with a majority government. His election platform was practically non-existent (he'd put beer in corner stores and he'd cut taxes). But, to dispel the paranoid fears of all those centrists and leftwards voters he explicitly promised that nobody (presumably meaning those working for the provincial government) would lose their jobs.

Just like his dearly-departed, shit-for-brains, international laughingstock, homophobic, racist brother Rob had said (in the campaign for mayor of Toronto), Doug Ford essentially said that there were oceans of "gravy" of wasteful provincial spending (including municipal spending paid for with provincial transfers) that could be eliminated, thereby allowing him to provide tax-cuts and while still guaranteeing no cuts to provincial services.

Of course, everybody knew that this was bullshit. Everyone knew that upon becoming premier, Doug would pretend to find BILLIONS more provincial debt than the previous Liberal government had said there was; and that he therefore HAD NO CHOICE but to enact painful cuts. (But, obviously, he would still carry out his tax-cuts because those would spur economic growth ... except that they don't.) And, what makes this even more nauseating is that (as I said above) this all happened with his brother Rob and his yammering about all the "gravy" at Toronto City Hall. Rob Ford paid a bunch of outside consultants to go over the city's accounts and they informed him that there wasn't a lot of waste at all. Maybe he could fire the gardener who watered the plants on city property. Then the city could save about $100,000 and have a bunch of pots filled with dead ferns to show the public, but that was about it. Shamelessly, even though Doug Ford went through this exact same process 8 years ago, he was now imposing this insanity on the province, on Toronto, and every other municipality in Ontario, stupidly babbling about how he'll give them time and outside help to let them balance their budgets.

I could go on about Doug Ford's cruelty and stupidity and the genuine dangers for the future health of the people of Ontario but it's not hard to find other sources that can tell that story. Many of those other sources are written by the same sorts of people who fulminated about stephen harper for nine fucking years without ONCE proposing any serious plan to get rid of him. Even after he was found guilty of contempt of Parliament and exposed as having committed election fraud.

Yes! Yes! You can sense that my madness is consuming me once more! You're right! I'm quite mad you know! I'm convinced that a premier with such a sickening, dangerous agenda, elected by morons on a campaign of stupidity and lies, and who has a disapproval rating of 75%, SHOULD AND CAN be taken down. If only progressives could stir themselves to take steps to do so. Call me crazy. (That's what I'm doing.)

Apparently somebody on Fazebock called for a "general strike" against Doug Ford on May 1st, which was then about a week or two away. (I'm hazy on the timeline but I know it wasn't a great deal of time.) In response, literally thousands of people in cities across the province had their little rallies. Thousands of people! In a province of 13.6 MILLION. Or (to put it another way) 1,000's out of 13,600,000. In other words; "the usual suspects" plus dozens more. I went to a union rally the day before at Queen's Park to "defend" public health care. This "defense" consisted of the usual rigamarole of busing-in thousands of union members who got the day off to stand on the Queen's Park lawn and listen to criticisms of government policies and shout "SHAME!!!" every once in a while for a couple of hours and then, when it's wrapping-up, somebody announces how "We've sent the Premier a message today!" as well as instructing people to take the "struggle" back with them to wherever it is they're going.

As I've been saying for this entire post, I'm so bonkers that I see such obviously productive activism as an almost complete waste of time! And, furthermore, being the megalomaniac that I am, I feel compelled to force my harebrained schemes for doing something else upon innocent fellow progressives since I'm blind to the genuine, focused, strategically brilliant activism going on all around me.

And so, in yet another bout of frenzied, maniacal delusion, I concocted [once again] a plan to go beyond the [inarguably] brilliant strategy of whining on the internet and milling about in peaceful crowds on a public square shouting "SHAME!" for an afternoon.

It should go without saying that the fruits of my labours were stupid and insane. They don't even bear talking about if the subject is serious "resistance" to a dangerous, cruel, deluded government. But since the topic is how mad I am, I'll regale you with the wacky details:

  1. Write an "omnibus petition" demanding that Doug Ford cancel his entire agenda of destructive policies
  2. Have all the activists all across the province who would ordinarily turn-out for an anti-Ford rally (anti-poverty activists, union activists, parents of autistic children, public transit advocates, environmentalists, etc.,) and have them actually go [in pairs for moral support] to the people (pedestrians on the street/door-to-door to people in their homes) armed with the petition, information about how Doug Ford's policies hurt ordinary Ontarians, and a questionnaire. [Estimate that in Toronto perhaps 3,000 to 5,000 out of 2.7 million people. Hamilton, 300-500 people. Sudbury 100-300. etc.,]
  3. The questionnaire will be used to gauge the level of support for action against Doug Ford's agenda, up to and including participation in a province-wide general strike. It also includes circulating the petition themselves among family, friends, co-workers, going door-to-door themselves to try to build a "snowball effect."
  4. Have the petition completed by the summer. Ontario has 13.6 million people. It has 10.2 million eligible voters. Ford's disapproval rating is 75%. Imagine the impact of a petition with 6-7 million names calling on Ford to cease and desist?
  5. To the extent that Ford tries to ignore the petition conduct protests, occupations, etc., while calling outright for a general strike. 
  6. If Ford's response to the petition and the protests is disappointing enough (say, by October), set a date for a general strike. (Perhaps the end of November?) Have people told to wear something signifying their willingness to participate in a general strike. Make it known that employers who punish workers for participating in a general strike will bring down a world of hurt upon themselves. Communicate to the business-class that supports Ford that they should tell their boy to stand-down.
  7. Have the general strike. See what happens. 

Now, obviously, I can understand why an ordinary person (like the healthy, well-adjusted ignoramuses I described in my last post) would find this absolutely insane from the get-go. But these stupid fuckers will be found pumping the last drops of gasoline from the pumps into their SUVs to try to flee the apocalypse that global warming will bring to them in a few years. Obviously their first reaction to all of this all at once is going to be a mixture of incomprehension and vague disapproval.

What surprised me (and only because I'm insane and couldn't have known better) is that anti-poverty, pro-labour movement activists would look at my plan and also find it completely ridiculous, without a shred of credibility, rotten nonsense from start-to-finish. You know; so CRAZY that the best response is no response at all. I mean, where to begin? Right? An all-encompassing petition? Going out and talking to people to educate them and find out where they stand? Introducing a concept like a "general strike" and getting as many ordinary people to warm-up to the idea first? What's a sane person supposed to do when faced with such drivel?

Last time (with my anti-harper stupidity) I reached out to groups like the Council of Canadians, precisely because they were NOT fire-breathing socialist radicals, but, rather, the sorts of ordinary, white bread, "respectable" Canadians who make up the bulk of our population that I felt were needed to construct an actual mass-movement. But (besides being insane) I guess my plan was also too militant for such gentle souls. So this time I decided to bring my plan first to a local anti-poverty activist who has decades of experience. He's done lots of good work on issues of housing and benefits for poor people and from his fazebock posts and other writings is a genuine socialist.

So I sent him a simple message saying that I was calling him out of the blue but I wondered if I could have 30 minutes of his time to lay-out a plan to stop Doug Ford. He said sure. Meet next week at this restaurant. Great. The day before the meeting he messages to apologize that he's sick. Can't make it. No problem I say. Get well soon. (From his fazebock activity I got the impression that he wasn't sick but that's probably my insanity talking.) So a week goes by and I message to ask if he's feeling better and can we meet. (I also take the time to explain in greater detail who I am, about my anti-harper ideas and their fate, and why I've reached out to him personally.) He says sure. So we meet and I spew-out the same gibbering insanity I've described above.  He says it sounds good and he'll bring it up to his organization at their next meeting. That's all I could expect from him at that point so I thanked him and said goodbye.

More than a week goes by. I message and ask him if there's been any response to my idea. He tells me the group had just met the day before I spoke to him and meets up every two-weeks. He'll be bringing it up the coming Tuesday. Well, that Tuesday was over a week ago and nothing. I didn't even bother to enquire. As is the point of this post, I'm dimly aware that I'm mad. Quite mad. Starkers. So bonkers that I came up with a political campaign that is so stupid that it should have gone without saying. Obviously I'm too fucked-up to understand exactly WHY it's ridiculous, but I'm able to read the embarrassed silences of others to know that in some way it's totally irredeemable. Total shit, through-and-through. The poor man has wasted enough of his time listening to my ravings. To pester him to the point where he's forced to embarrass me would be cruel.

However, still in the grip of my mania, last week I also emailed a more detailed description of my insanity to someone from the Ontario Federation of Labour, whose job it is to conduct political activism campaigns. (Which, up to this point, consists of the sorts of rallies I describe so disparagingly above.) Obviously, I've heard nothing back from this individual either. I'll give her two weeks. But I'm starting to grasp that the best response to an insane screed from some unbalanced nobody is no response. Because some of these crazies crave attention. And even a negative response will encourage them to continue with their time-wasting drivel.

If only I were a sane man! Then I'd be able to understand why it makes perfect sense to ignore a plan such as mine while at the same time posting on your Fazebock wall stuff like this:

"Boos are not enough. Empty the workplaces and fill the streets."

That was part of a short post referring to Doug Ford getting loud boos when he appeared at the Toronto Raptors Victory Rally.  As I say, if I wasn't a lunatic I'd be able to grasp how getting a core of activists to actually talk to people and plant ideas for a general strike in their heads months ahead of actually trying to conduct one is utter insanity, but posting vague calls-to-arms to your 2,000 followers on Fazebock isn't. If I wasn't so kookoo-bananas I'd be able to understand that the best way to lead a general strike is to tell 2,000 of your friends to immediately leave their place of work and go outside into the streets. (I suppose he meant "right away" because otherwise, ... DAMN! If only I could figure it out!)

The fact of the matter is that, in my desire to understand, I actually commented on his post asking how we could bring that about. (He didn't answer.)

Not long afterwards, (on some political group somebody else signed me up for) another left-wing radical (who is a "friend" of some of my closer Fazebock "frendz") posted the following:

"As the resistance moves to general strike/dual power ..."

In my narcissistic cocoon of half-baked theories and delusions of grandeur, I apparently have been missing the "resistance" and its building momentum not just to an actual general strike, but DUAL POWER!

  • Dual Power is both a type of institution and a strategy to change the world. Dual Power means new, independent institutions for people to meet their own needs in ways capitalism and the government can’t or won’t. Unlike nonprofits, where a board of directors (and usually wealthy donors!) makes the decisions, Dual Power institutions are created and controlled by the people they benefit. By developing them, people create a second kind of social, economic, and even political power, separate from government and capitalism. (That’s what the “dual” means, in duality with the current system.) These new community institutions then govern themselves using participatory democracy, which means that everyone plays an active part in decision-making.
Wow! Holy Christ! The Revolution is farther along than I'd realized! Doug Ford's reign of thuggery and error has galvanized Ontario's working class into constructing its own independent institutions of self-government and employment and social programs!

Not being able to grasp the realities that are right in front of me, I asked the gentleman whether it was really true that "the resistance" was going in the direction he said it was. He informed me that "a lot" of people in the labour movement were thinking this way. That the only question was whether we were going to demand that Ford change his policies or that he actually resign. The same thing had happened in the 1990s in the "Days of Action" against Mike Harris. Having participated in the Hamilton and Toronto actions I was aware that the Ontario unions carried out one-day general strikes in cities across Ontario between 1995 and 1998. And that nothing really changed after each one-day strike in one city. Harris stayed in power from 1995-2002.
Between late 1995 and 1998, Ontario unions called eleven "Days of Action" that were, in effect, political strikes against the provincial Conservative government of Mike Harris. The Days of Action were a series of rolling, one-day general strikes in different towns and cites, involving not only unions but also many social movements and community organizations.
Eventually Ontario's unions called hundreds of thousands of workers into the streets, shutting down many private businesses and public agencies, while also holding mass demonstrations and rallies throughout the province. While they did not succeed in bringing down the Conservative government, the strikes did challenge the Conservatives' anti-worker onslaught, and they helped develop a new group of labor and community activists.
Did I tell you about the time I "challenged" Evander Holyfield to a boxing match? My goal was to be the world heavyweight boxing champion. And while I didn't achieve everything I was after (he broke my jaw and knocked me out in the first 5 seconds of the first round) nonetheless, I "challenged" him and more people knew of my existence afterwards than did previously.

Sadly, as a result of my mental afflictions, these Fazebock statements by these two radical dudes appear to me to be stupid, deluded nonsense. As if it is not I who is the insane party, but rather, them. I apparently see things mixed-up and reversed. When Doug Ford is swept from power and the institutions of the working classes' "Dual Power" are up and running (I don't know when that will be because they haven't given me a timeline) perhaps then I'll be able to piece the clues together after the fact and slowly begin to grasp how it all came about.

[I think it needs to be pointed out that these statements were also made in the context of OPSEU's president saying they would protest at the upcoming "Ford-Fest" because they didn't want to "kick him when he's down." If OPSEU is part of the "resistance" they're obviously in the more conservative wing. Which makes you wonder who is leading the radical "general strike/dual power" wing. Argghh.]

Okay. Sarcasm time over. Lord help me but I can't see that these online yammerings about spontaneous general-strikes and "dual power" are anything other than stupid, childish, deluded nonsense. Gawdammit! I can't bring myself to believe that the Left's continued reliance on petitions and afternoon protests isn't Einstein's definition of insanity: "Doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result each time." I'm sorry, but I really don't see how it's insane to go out and talk to people to try to bring them over to your side. Leftists are always complaining about how the corporate media filters out opposing viewpoints. It's obvious from the internet that the mere existence of, and easy access to, Leftist analysis has improved that situation (which is why the oligarchy is trying so hard to block/discredit/smear alternative news sources) but not to a significant enough degree. Well, instead of impotently complaining about that; DO SOMETHING! Take your message directly to the people! And when you do, ... for FUX'S SAKE! ... have a plan for what you want to do with them!

This seems so blindingly obvious that I'm completely at a loss for the smug, stupid, lazy-assed refusal of these other "geniuses" to even want to discuss it.

So there you have it. Last post I talked about how brain structure and life experiences create the fearful, wretched creatures that are "conservatives." As well, I speculated on the mental make-up of apolitical types, saying that maybe their prodigious production of serotonin kept them self-centered, selfish, and incurious of the wider world around them. And, in this post, I appear to be talking about the mental incapability of the last piece of the puzzle: Those who know there's a problem and who want to solve the problem but seem totally incapable of even being able to begin thinking about the realities of HOW to solve the problem.

And all of this navel-gazing has made me think: I'm a pessimist but I'm not a "conservative." I would rather focus on the good things in life. I would rather have a good time. I don't like slasher movies or hospital dramas because the idea of teenagers being mutilated and people dying of disease doesn't entertain me. Nor do I enjoy zombie movies. I'll be dead myself one day. And while I don't want to be venerated I also don't want people to think of me as some potential brain-eating, stinking, rotting monster.

I'm a pessimist. Too many people are optimists. For no reason. Perhaps their fear of the reality of failure is what keeps them from looking seriously at what needs to be done. They sense the job is vast. Perhaps beyond them. So they'd rather content themselves with doing what they've always done. And that includes empty, posturing statements about "revolution" and "general strike" and "the people, united, will never be defeated!" and "hey-hey/ho-ho/[insert-name-here] has got to go!"

I can't escape the impact of politics on my life. But I can remove myself from actually caring about whether things will change. Given the incapacities of the progressive movement I honestly believe we're doomed. I'll continue to write, but just for my own diversion.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Humanity is Doomed: Part 3,672

First off, there was something I'd meant to say in my last post reviewing the two books about Canadian soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. It was that in both of them soldiers mentioned how they wanted to go to war because that's what they were always training for. They wanted to see how they'd hold-up in combat. They wanted to see if they were effective soldiers. Now, this is understandable on some level but it's also evidence of how dangerous a militarized culture can be. Imagine a foreign policy built on the desires of people champing at the bit to go and shoot at people!

But, anyway, ... onwards!

Lately I've been thinking about the consequences of "conservatives" supposedly being more fearful, with larger amygdalas. Reports on these studies sorta came and went with a little jeering about how right-wing chest-thumpers are actually wussies and that was that. But maybe we should think more about this. Now, it's possible that people are simply born with big amygdalas. In which case, they're just more fearful, end of story. But the brain has been found to be a constantly developing organism. Maybe it's the case that people subjected to trauma (especially childhood traumas) would develop larger fear responders than they ordinarily would have. Maybe you're born with a large amygdala and on top of it, an abusive childhood makes you even more fearful.

In which case, many of the "conservatives" shrieking about dangerous Muslims, scary Black people, scary changes to their world, etc., are the victims of childhood trauma. Isn't it ironic that "conservatives" are so opposed to social welfare programs that would reduce childhood poverty, stressful homelives, etc., that would all go to mitigating the factors that made them such fearful creatures?

I guess this is because "conservatives" fixate more on negative things. From that first link in the second paragraph:

In a 2012 study, liberal and conservative participants were shown collages of both negative and positive images on a computer screen while their eye movements were recorded. While liberals were quicker to look at pleasant images, like a happy child or a cute bunny rabbit, conservatives tended to behave oppositely. They’d first inspect threatening and disturbing pictures—things like car wrecks, spiders on faces, and open wounds crawling with maggots—and would also tend to dwell on them for longer. This is what psychologists call a “negativity bias”. If you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. When attention is biased toward the negative, the result is an overly threat-conscious appraisal of one’s surroundings. Essentially, to many conservatives the world looks like a much scarier place. This would seem to explain why so many major conservative viewpoints tend to be rooted in irrational fears—like fear of the president, immigrants, Muslims, vaccinations, etc.

This being the case, "conservatives" will fixate more on people abusing the system, thereby cheating them, than they do on the very real benefits that such programs bring (this cynicism and paranoia extending even to programs that would benefit them personally).

Anyway, the thing that progressives should do is to continue to fight for policies that reduce trauma in society. (That is, the opposite of the neo-liberal/austerity nightmare we're presently in.)

There's more that could be said about this but I want to move on to my next point.

Humanity is doomed because, on average, we are focused mainly on our own immediate social circles and the practical realities of our everyday lives. A terrifyingly large number of us really are incapable of caring about people outside of our networks of family, friends and other intimates. We are incapable of empathizing with people from far away who act slightly different from us. Just think about all the people you know who have zero clue about what's going on in the world. The people who never think about the poverty that exists in the city they walk through. And here I'm not talking about "conservatives" who believe that refugee applicants at the US -border are all drug-mules/"reconquistadors' or that poor people are all scammers and criminal drug-addicts. I'm talking about people who don't even notice the sufferings of others nearby and have no interest in finding out about events going on beyond their immediate line of sight. (Although it is the case that many "conservatives" demonstrate an inability to care about something unless it affects them personally. Like a finance minister who allocates funds for a particular disease because his one of his own children has it.)

So they lack empathy. And they lack curiosity in the wider world. They are focused. I believe they have very vigorous and robust production of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter thingamabobby that does a lot of things but one thing it does is block-out stimuli that your brain has decided is unimportant for you to be able to function. Serotonin deficiency is a factor in depression, energy, etc..

What I'm getting at is that many human beings are simply wired to care only about themselves and their immediate family and friends. And their focus in life is on how to best SUCCEED in obtaining the resources to provide a life for themselves and their immediate loved ones. So, those seemingly happy people working at some uninteresting job, driving their nice cars to their nice homes without a care in the world? That's who I'm talking about. They've figured out how to personally succeed and they are completely incapable and uninterested in understanding the big picture. They can't maintain an interest in people starving in Africa, or First Nations' children committing suicide, or refugees fleeing wars and calamities in South America or the Middle East, because they're not wired to.

Now, all of these people I'm talking about; Can they still be "good people"? The person who was traumatized as a child and who is hard-wired to view most things as a threat; the airhead who works in marketing and finance buying a monster home out in the suburbs and commutes to work in a SUV; ... are they "good" people still?

That's why I've always tended to shy away from the words "good" and "evil." There are things that we like and things that we don't like. That's it. So, for the most part, some fearful "conservatives" ... (I don't know why I'm putting that word in quotes. I think I started this with the notion that an actual conservative has a developed body of ideas whereas they people I'm talking about have visceral responses to their environments.) .... can be quite friendly to people of their own kind, and even to "others" who have proven themselves to be non-threatening over a longer period of time. (Like a Black person or a Muslim who they work with and have decided that they're not a threat.)

Few of these types of people will actively seek the destruction of strangers or passers-by. So, by that indicator, they're "good" people and not "bad" people. And, to the extent that they have no control over their ideas and actions, to their fear, selfishness, insularity, etc., etc., ... can they really be accused of being "bad"?

But here's the thing: This is a big reason why nothing changes. Something from one-quarter to one-third of our society is comprised of people who self-identify as "conservative." They're afraid of terrorism. They're afraid of deviations from traditional moral values. They desire an authoritarian father-figure to protect them. They're afraid of crime. They're afraid of change. We can't do anything about changing these people other than to try to figure out how to keep them from getting angry while still advancing our own progressive agenda.

I have no speculation about the numbers of the second group of people; the healthy, seemingly happy, focused, prosperous ignoramuses. But I'm pretty sure it's vast. They're successful members of the species. They know how to play the game and survive. But if the rules change, they might be put-out. Sure, they'll be better at pushing others out of the way to get the emergency rations. They'll adapt (if they're intelligent enough) with greater relative success to the new rules in the crumbling of civilization than will progressives who are not as focused and selfish.

But it's the blissful ignorance and complacency that makes society's downfall so inevitable. We have one-third of the population convinced that Global Warming is a commie-hoax designed to enslave them and another large group (one-third to sixty percent of the population) that hardly thinks about it and contributes to the problem through their excessive consumption of resources.

We were designed to obtain food and shelter and to procreate. We became quite successful as a species at doing so. But in so doing, we've created an ecological monstrosity. And it is my belief that, as a species, we're simply not equipped to recognize the problem and respond to it in time. In short; Humanity is DOOMED.