Showing posts with label predictions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label predictions. Show all posts

Saturday, October 4, 2014

China's Hired Thugs

More news from Hong Kong. I really don't see how anyone can defend China. Whatever it was before, a communist dictatorship evolving into a capitalist dictatorship, right now it's a kleptocracy, with crooks holding the power and unwilling to share any with the people.

A country with no morality at all and no legitimate legal system and no free press and no uncensored Internet is not the country I want to download software from. For that matter, I don't think our Western business leaders are wise to send all our jobs over to China. They may make a little money in the short-term but in the long-term they or their descendents will regret that fateful decision.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lesson of Hong Kong

China is reneging on its promise to let Hong Kong be free for fifty years only because its leaders have calculated with cold political calculus that they can defy and break their promise to the West and get away with it due to the economic interdependency between the West and China and the new strength of China. This is worth noting. In the future, expect China to break all promises, whenever and wherever it can, because it is absolute evil aligned with the darkness. If annihilating all Americans would produce a profit and no consequences, then the Chinese would do so. They do not know the concept of morality and misinterpret it as weakness, as evil-doers always do. I foresee that China will take Taiwan, and risk the next world war when they also muscle into neighboring countries, such as Japan and the two Koreas. First will come demands for concession, which will only increase, and then will come land grabs, because the leadership thirsts for power, for domination. Perhaps America will be diminished then and incapable of being the white knight any longer, because our strength is every year squandered stomping ants and anthills to no purpose, squandered on pointless exercises in pride and vanity to remind our greying population of past glories in WW2. But the glory days are gone, and debts accumulate, and not much is made in the U.S.A. anymore, and the U.S. is dumbing down and wallowing in corruption and chronic mismanagement that only gets worse year after year with no end in sight. There must some day arise a new champion in the West, a land with better governance--where will that be?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart is the funniest man alive. . . and his Daily Show will be watched even a thousand years from now for insight into our time. Of course, he is backed up by a phenomenal team, brilliant writers who furnish him with killer material by research, insight and wit. It is a mistake to overlook these silent partners, but I do not know their names. Yet if I did, then we would overlook the people who support and nourish those people, such as their families and friends, and so on in a neverending chain that eventually encompasses the whole world. Jon is golden product of our age, and we are proud to have produced him. He is creating classic television that will never die.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

No More Passwords

In the not-so-distant future, people will wear rings containing a universal password--in a matter of speaking--for all their personal online services and data. This ring will transmit via direct physical contact to a computer or other device that has been granted access to that individual ring. Devices that have not been granted access will not be able to access the ring. The ring will allow browsing sites without logging in and with near-perfect security. Mobile phones and computers owned by the user will be inoperable and in lockdown mode, broadcasting their GPS location to their owner, should anyone other than the owner attempt to access them.

I say the ring contains only a password "in a matter of speaking," because passwords are insecure by their very nature, subject to brute-force attacks. People of the future will look at passwords as a primitive stepping stone to the next generation, which is algorithm-based. An algorithm encoded within a ring can decrypt any encrypted data owned by the user and log in to any web site instantly. This method of encryption cannot be defeated, because the encrypted data is not sequential and is not key-based, but deciphered using a complicated matrix-based algorithm which varies for each individual and which also varies depending upon the time of day and time of year, body temperature, and perhaps some other environmental factors as yet to be determined. To decode such data is impossible, regardless of available resources. . .

The ring functions as a unique key that can be stolen or copied, perhaps, but needs physical possession. Thus, hackers without access to the ring are without any luck at all. Theft will consist of old-fashioned robbery or burglary to obtain the ring. But a ring is relatively easy to secure, certainly easier than many alternatives such as passwords. If one's person is safe, then one's data is safe. This is both a natural and very simple method of safeguarding data, requiring little more vigilance than people ordinarily exercise in safeguarding precious gold and platinum rings. However, there will have to be a way for law enforcement to inactivate stolen rings following a complaint of theft and DNA confirmation that the real owner is who he says he is.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Talking Cat

I used to wonder why my cat made odd, uncatlike utterances sometimes. When pressed by boredom, aggravated by the overwhelming desire to go outside, which is a constant craving, he will make a long, strange howling sound. I used to worry he was suffering from a physical ailment or temporary insanity. Today, I had the inspiration that he is trying to talk. It would be only natural to imitate a human practice that he has observed every day of his life and which brings us humans so many obvious benefits. We are able to communicate and cooperate effectively due to talking, and the cat is intelligent enough to grasp that and to desire this ability for himself. If he could talk, he could express his desires and perhaps even persuade us to do his bidding. He has not enough brain development to manage any words. I have never recognized any syllables.

I wish that such a cat could be bred through successive generations for hundreds of years in a nurturing environment that encouraged the development of intellectual gifts. It would be interesting to observe the end result. Maybe Heinlein's talking cat is not such a far-fetched notion after all.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Where is the U.S. Going?

The problem with America is that too many people place money before country. They sell out. In order to save money, they send jobs overseas or import workers from other countries to do jobs Americans could do. Everywhere one reads that tech companies need to hire skilled immigrants, but this is a lie. There is more than enough indigenous talent to go around. Companies just don't want to pay living wages. They want to pay $1 an hour for tech support.

The reality is that the rich are only concerned about getting richer. The politicians do not care about any of the problems impacting workers. All they care about is assisting their cronies to sell bullets and bombs. That is the only real reason we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, in order to enrich the cronies of politicians. All of the other reasons given are transparent lies. I read recently that the U.S. spends $4 billion a month to protect Afghanistan, where the economy generates $1 billion a month. That is clear and obvious stupidity, unless one's cronies are getting rich from the protection racket. The whole situation regarding foreign policy just seems stupid and designed to benefit a few rich cronies at the top at the expense of the rest of the country.

The politicians work tirelessly to make the country worse off than it was before, creating new problems rather than solving old ones. They start new wars, continue old ones, waste money, and create new problems for the workers.

At least Obama did something. He won health care for the workers, but in order to pass something through the stodgy, right-wing Congress, a Congress of millionaires, many compromises had to made. The result is still better than the old system, but it's not perfect. I give Obama credit for actually doing something positive to help working-class people, whereas his predecessor Bush did nothing except make the country poorer. There are a lot of things Obama could have done, had the Congress worked with him instead of against him. Any perceived shortcomings are the fault of the Republicans, who sabotage anything that might help workers.

I have come to believe that Republicans hate workers even more than they hate gays and racial minorities. Any issue that touches on the lives of working people, the Republicans are predictable. They don't even need to think about it. Anything that might harm, impoverish, hinder, or complicate the lives of workers, Republicans support 100%. All the changes made by Republicans tend to make workers poorer and sicker. I cannot think of a single thing the Republicans have ever done to help workers, but I can think of about a dozen things the Republicans have done to harm workers.

Foreign policy and national security are issues where President Obama has proven naive and unaware. He does not seem to grasp the long-term ramifications of his foreign policy decisions. I think it is really horrible to bribe the hostile state of Pakistan with billions of dollars so that we can bomb their country. I think it is such a bad decision that it may in fact be a symptom of collective insanity, of schizophrenia.

Obama is just as bad as Bush was with his national security dementia. But perhaps the problem is systemic. Obama inherited a massive national security complex, and it wants to be used. The machines want to be used, and all the people who think like machines also want to be used. To not use them has political costs. Newspaper editors characterize Obama as "ineffective" and "vacillating" because he does not bomb Syria into the Stone Age. But Obama has cooperated with the machine in most respects. Perhaps Obama is not courageous enough to challenge long-held assumptions and existing political dogma, such as the war against marijuana. I do not think we have had a really courageous, dynamic and interesting President in my lifetime. We have had men who follow. They just go along with whatever is going on when they inherit the office. They are not thinkers.

I foresee the swift decline of this country's economic, educational, democratic and social measures. Already we see that the rights we once held dear are being eliminated one by one. This country is less free with every passing year. The state is getting more paranoid and more effective at using technology to spy on citizens.  Anyone can be put in prison for life at the touch of a button. If someone is inconvenient, they can be quite easily framed for any number of sex or drug offences. The apparatus to make this happen is already in place. It may even have been used already. No one knows, because there aren't many investigative journalists around anymore. Very few changes would be required to change the U.S. into a country resembling, say, Russia or China.

There will be a massive lower class, people entrenched in poverty, and a tiny upper class. Crime, drug use, and political instability will become much more common. Education will decline as people realize that it has little or no economic value. A college degree means nothing in the U.S. It is just a piece of paper that represents debt.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

DoomsDay Project

I concur with many others that there needs to be a backup made of all the world's knowledge, for the potential event, which is well within the realm of possibility, that civilization as we know it is destroyed. The backup must be in imperishable format, which excludes magnetic copies. Perhaps a certain hardy breed of optical discs could be used, but the knowledge regarding how to build machines that will read and power these discs must obviously be stored in a different format, perhaps paper, parchment or papyrus. We must include a Rosetta Stone consisting of images and their verbal equivalents, because it is not certain that language will remain unchanged. The security of this backup is the most important aspect, because if it is discovered by primitive people of no understanding, it will all be wasted upon them. The archive must be sealed using a method that is impenetrable except by technological means that reflect a Renaissance-era civilization, and it must also be hidden, yet detectable by advanced deduction, for instance, recognizing artificial (man-made) features in an environment. Redundancy is essential too, because some backup locations may be compromised by primitives or obscured by the shifting landmasses of the planet. A thousand airtight and waterproof capsules should be dispersed over the globe, some underwater, some in the desert, some in the tundra, and everywhere in between.

A further refinement to this idea would be to lock and entrap the capsule, requiring the answer to a riddle for access. If an incorrect answer is attempted, the contents of the capsule can be destroyed using acid or perhaps a different kind of chemical reaction. The riddle will require empathy in order to solve. This would offer the capsule some protection against being discovered and misused by evil-doers. Unfortunately, history has a way of repeating itself, and a capsule with a lot of technological knowledge in it is not necessarily a good idea. What the human race needs more than technology is philosophy. Technology brings many horrors into the world and empowers the dark, powerful, tyrannical souls to dominate others. Perhaps the capsule should indeed contain nothing of technology and only philosophy, to point out the ways to obtain learning merely, without giving explicit instructions on how to build this and that. The great frailty in the human race is that a human mind can be very apt at technology and care nothing at all for philosophy. It is better that philosophers hold the keys to technology rather than tyrants and would-be tyrants, as is the case in many countries today.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The NSA Spying Scandal

Each new revelation of NSA spying on people all over the world is a reminder of the type of people who have power in Washington, D.C. The warlords have great power of technology at their disposal, due to plundering the taxpayers and buying enormous amounts of hardware and hiring brilliant technology workers. But the warlords lack morality. They only care about their narrow, selfish interests. The ones that wrap themselves in the cloth of Jesus employ the ancient ruse of piety that deceives many people into thinking that they do have a moral compass, when they don't. At least one of their brilliant technology workers demonstrated that he possessed what they lack, and they hate him for it. Their wickedness exposed, they are wrathful, because they realize that their pretences have less power to persuade.

Great technology paired with low morality is the dilemma of the modern age. The moral aspect of the human species has not really evolved much since the bad old days. I think that the greatest surprise for people of my generation is that nuclear weapons were not used since the end of WW2. I would not rule out nuclear war, however. Nations do not always intend to go to war. War just happens. It is indeed possible to have a nuclear war by accident. I think that over time, if the nations of the world do not become moral, but remain as they are, then one day the world will win the lottery ticket for nuclear war.

In regard to spying, the United States has set a bad moral example for the other world powers. American power fades due to our leaders, the mighty warlords, who think constant warfare is the only necessity and that everything else can be ignored, delayed or mishandled. They have botched everything but a handful of overseas conflicts that benefited America very little or not at all. Out of arrogance, American leaders refused to draw any lesson from the Viet Nam conflict. They refused to learn from history. They believe that knowledge is unimportant, suitable only for academics, except where technology is concerned, because technology has direct military applications, and through the military, they think they can force their will on others.

While American power wanes, the power of China increases. A day will arrive, and I think it is not far away, when China, not America, calls the shots, both figurative and literal. Will China be moral? No, China will play "follow the leader" and do as we did and much, much worse. I do not look for China to set itself above us and be a shining example of morality, because China opts for whatever is expedient, never what is right, and their leaders are outright thieves, tyrants and hypocrites. So China will do much worse. Only fear holds China in check for now, but fear is on the wane in direct correlation with U.S. power. And Russia will do what it has always done, proving that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Monday, October 7, 2013


I occasionally worry about potentialities like heart disease and stroke. I think fear is something that comes and goes as life progresses. I remember when I was going to school, there was much fear, because of schoolyard bullies. In the last two years of high school, there was no fear. In college, I was fearless. The only thing to fear were things that were relatively easy to prevent, such as car accidents or AIDS. I didn't drink and drive, and appreciated the virtues of condoms and abstinence, the two methods to prevent the spread of AIDS. As one gets older, one contracts various medical conditions like obesity or arthritis or lower back pain that, while minor, are a reminder of the greater problems that lie ahead. Looking ahead, there is certainly a lot to be afraid of, such as senility, stroke, heart disease, loss of brain function, incontinence, and the list goes on.

I think what I fear most is an undignified end. The best death is instantaneous, without long, lingering pain and suffering, and planned, rather than abrupt. The problem with untimely death is that things may be left undone that should have been done, like setting a will in order or doing things for people. I remember helping others care for an elderly, very ill lady about a year ago. She expressed great fear. I think she was afraid of losing control, either of body or of mind or both, and of death, which represents loss of control and loss of identity. I think that she had been strong once. It is difficult to maintain a philosophical pose when death is so near, in the room so to speak, hovering over one's shoulder. I think it is only natural to feel fear. And there is nothing wrong with fear either. Fear has a purpose, too. Fear often keeps us alive by restraining our actions.

Reading biographies of people can be a comfort, because there is the observation that others, even the great and the powerful, and geniuses with fantastic powers of intellect, have passed through the same transitions brought on by age. I have often thought that Shakespeare was shortchanged in the longevity department. Add Chopin and Mozart to that list. It seems that in our rapidly progressing technological world, each generation is luckier than the previous one, because advances in medicine continue to expand and improve the human condition. I wonder, though, whether society will be able to maintain this progress in the face of daunting challenges, such as climate change and economic instability. I don't feel like the Republicans in Congress have any answers. They seem to create new problems rather than solving old ones. It seems to me that there are not enough jobs anymore, due to the automation of so many tasks that used to provide employment to millions. Of course the Republicans don't care about that and wouldn't know what to do about it even if they did care. Education will decline, crime will increase, and politics should turn nastier. The idle and impoverished millions around the world will become fodder for revolutionary sentiment at some point or another, if history offers any guidance in the matter. Whether social unrest takes on a right-wing or left-wing banner is hardly important. I hope for continued stability at least during my lifetime and in my region of the world.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

First Impressions of SolydK, Manjaro, and PCLinuxOS

Canonical's decision to embrace Mir and abandon X and Wayland has consequences for Ubuntu derivatives such as Kubuntu, Xubuntu, and Linux Mint. Also, I've noticed that Canonical's development has been focused on features that mean nothing to me, such as the Unity desktop. I feel that Shuttleworth has a vision for my desktop that differs dramatically from my own. This means Ubuntu and I must part ways at some point in the future. For that reason, I've been exploring other distros in the hopes of finding one that can replace the various Ubuntu derivatives I have been using.

I evaluated Open Suse 12.3 several months ago, but Open Suse still hasn't figured out intuitive printing and a lot of other basics, which is curious. I have the impression that Open Suse doesn't really want new users. Open Suse seems to be the beta-testing sandbox for Suse Enterprise, just like Fedora is the beta-testing sandbox for Red Hat.

I tried SolydK (version "201309," released 9/23/2013) out the other day. I was impressed that it offered to install the ATI proprietary driver for me. A most auspicious beginning! Not every distro offers that kind of service, for sure. I was very pleased seeing it download ATI's fglrx.

But then when I rebooted (as recommended), I got the black screen with nothing visible. Nothing to be done there. Pressed the power button. Second time around, I chose Recovery Mode and got the command line. I typed in "StartX" to see what happens and got the "Solyd blacK" screen again with nothing visible. I can't work without seeing what I'm doing, sorry, I'm not a Jedi Knight yet, only in training. Hit the power button. I then rebooted again in Recovery Mode and uninstalled Plymouth via "sudo apt-get remove plymouth", based on suggestions in the SolydK forum for someone who also used ATI and had a similar problem. No dice. I've now rebooted four times to a "Solyd blacK" screen. I am guessing this is a problem that only affects users with ATI graphics who choose the recommended options of installing the proprietary driver and using Plymouth.

One more thing I'll note is that early in the install process, Solyd identified my hard drives as sda and sdb, and the description for both was "Model". That would deter any Windows user right away, because it is unclear which drive the system will be installed on, and clicking "Forward" might very well begin the install process for all the user knows. As a Linux veteran, I knew to boot up Partition Editor to find out what sda was, but not every user will know to do that. Yet I noticed on several SolydK reviews, there were screenshots where the drives were clearly identified during the install process, so maybe this too is a problem that just impacts my rig.

My next experiment was Manjaro Xfce 0.87.1. With dismay I noted that it was using the same installer as Solyd. Sure enough, I got the same problem with my hard drives being identified only as sda and sdb. This time around, I opted to disable Plymouth, but install the proprietary driver. Manjaro installed, and I rebooted, but Grub spat out an error and went into recovery mode. That was the end of my experiment with Manjaro.

Next, I tried PCLinuxOS, 64-bit KDE version. I first heard of PCLinuxOS and indeed about Linux in general through Piers Anthony's excellent and entertaining blog. The fact he used Linux was a big factor in persuading me to give Linux a try, especially after Microsoft dumped Vista and then Windows 8 on an unsuspecting public. I have been pleased with Linux and glad I learned about it, and I wish with all my heart that more people used Linux.

PCLinuxOS installed without any problems. As one reviewer noted, the installer could use additional refinement, such as a Back button in addition to the Forward button, and maybe a few other little things, but it worked out well for me in the end. "Unrefined" is perfectly okay, when set in contrast with "not working at all." Possibly the most important aspect about a distro is ease of installation, because without the initial install, nothing else happens, and installation forms a strong first impression.

For me, PCLinuxOS's main charm that sets it above the Ubuntu family of distros is the premise I won't have to reinstall later, a major headache for Ubuntu users. I also like how easy it was to update and to install my network printer. Setting up the printer was a trial with OpenSuse 12.3 and influenced me to abandon Open Suse. I've been pleased with PCLinuxOS so far and appreciate some of its features, such as installing everything including the kitchen sink, which annoys some reviewers but pleases me. I can easily uninstall what I don't like, and I think it is helpful to have the apps there to play with, because otherwise I might never find them on my own. I thought the option for changing the wallpaper could have been more intuitive--I had to google for the solution--but that's a minor demerit.

The update procedure for PCLinuxOS is a bit cumbersome, although in my brief experience, it has worked without error. The user is notified about updates by an exclamation mark in the taskbar. Contrary to expectations, clicking on this does nothing. However, by right-clicking on the icon, a menu pops up with several options, none of which read "Install Updates." I gave up at this point and researched online in order to learn how to update PCLinuxOS. The procedure is as follows. After right-clicking the red exclamation mark icon, one selects the option, "Run Synaptic," and enters the administrative password for root access. Once in Synaptic, one clicks the "Refresh" button to refresh the data. After that, one clicks the "Mark Available Updates" button, followed by "Apply." In total, several clicks are needed, with delays following each one. I wish the update process were as seamless as that of Linux Mint's wonderful Update Manager. Every Linux distro tends to reinvent the wheel, but not all of their wheels roll equally well. Of greater concern, I did not notice any descriptions of the updates. Usually, Ubuntu derivatives offer at least a sentence or two of description about the packages being updated and their function, which can help the user troubleshoot any future problems. However, I weigh this inconvenience against the much larger inconvenience posed by new releases in Ubuntu and Ubuntu-derivatives such as Linux Mint, which require the user to completely reinstall the operating system and reconfigure everything at the cost of several hours' work.

Uninstalling applications in PCLinuxOS has been unintuitive as well. When I tried to uninstall KFloppy, Synaptic informed me that I would also be uninstalling an important kde library used by many other applications, which surprised me. This is not behavior that one might find in Linux Mint. I clicked OK anyway, just to see what would happen. I expected various applications to break. What actually happened was nothing at all. After uninstalling KFloppy, Kfloppy was still there in the menu. I clicked on it, and it loaded just like before. My conclusion is that uninstalling is buggy in PCLinuxOS. There is a possibility that it works sometimes, but it certainly does not work all of the time.

I was disappointed to find that all of the energy-saving features activate during video playback in VLC, an annoying bug that was also present in several versions of Linux Mint. I suppose distro developers never watch videos and only read books, which is commendable, I suppose, depending upon the nature of the books they read. My solution to this bug has been to disable all of the energy-saving features, which means that PCLinuxOS costs more to run than any other operating system, including Windows. I have read that Caffeine is one potential solution to the problem, but if this is the only solution, then I think it should be installed by default.

In conclusion, I think that PCLinuxOS deserves to be higher on the DistroWatch list than it is at present. In general, it is a solid, easy-to-use distribution, which is what I want and expect from a distro. As Canonical's strategic decisions continue to impact Ubuntu-based derivatives, I think more and more people are going to migrate over to other distros in the years to come.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Antibiotics to be Replaced by T-cells

Antibiotics are a primitive remedy for infection, because they kill indiscriminately and foster the evolution of resistance in germs. I have not accepted an antibiotic prescription in over twenty years. If a doctor prescribes an antibiotic for a mild or moderate condition, one that is not persistent or life-threatening, he is in error. The remedy does more harm than good. Most often, antibiotics do not have the intended effect. They destroy bacteria within the body, but the specific variety of bacteria or the viruses that caused the illness remain unscathed. Humans require certain microbes in order to live well.

In the future, if there is a future, that is, if humans don't destroy their civilization through neglect or anger, antibiotics will be replaced by T-cell therapy. T-cells with the body's own signature will be induced to grow in the laboratory or within the body to target the specific illness and no other. This will eliminate the ravages of sickness and disease without the disadvantages of antibiotics.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The DEA's Fishing Expeditions

Here's an interesting article about how AT&T feeds the DEA information concerning their customers. Remember that old yarn about how only terrorists would be targeted for warrantless surveillance? Now the target list includes suspected drug dealers--or anyone remotely related to them. No need for a warrant in today's America. We've abandoned that right. Technology has reduced the labor cost of law enforcement fishing expeditions to such an extent that little basis is needed to justify the cost in time or money. Just as spammers can reach out to millions at no cost, so can the government. An undercover identity on Facebook may be reused millions of times. If compromised, the name and location can be changed, and all the other information reused. Email text can be recycled, with minor alterations if needed. Artificial intelligence in software programs can eliminate much of the human involvement ordinarily needed in these operations. The government stoops to using the tactics and methods of spammers. So I think that that George Orwell's prophetic work, 1984, is closer to being a reality. Government and corporations work hand-in-hand to compile massive databases about people, while concealing their methods and their motives. Who really knows who is targeted and for what reasons? Who knows what is being planned for the future? Anyone that informs the public about the massive ongoing violations of citizen's rights is pursued to the ends of the Earth and faces the severe punishment reserved for murderers.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


I'm not thrilled at the prospect of my country getting involved in Syria. In Syria, both sides are anti-American. I don't see that there is any advantage to be gained for the U.S. by getting involved. If the Syrian tyrant is removed from power or diminished, it is pretty clear that another anti-American despot will take over from him, more than likely an Islamist that wants to torture and kill infidels. One thing's for sure, there won't be any notion among the Syrians of gratitude or of repaying all the money we spend assisting them. The warlords spend money we don't have on wars we don't need. I don't see why the U.S. always has to foot the bill, especially when our economy is in shambles.

I don't know how many Americans remember the Afghan War of thirty years ago, when the U.S.S.R. invaded Afghanistan. President Reagan praised the Afghan resistance--the Taliban and Bin Laden--as "Freedom Fighters," and the C.I.A. spent money arming them. My father was so brainwashed by U.S. propaganda that he composed poems praising the "Freedom Fighters." My father doesn't like to talk about that anymore, but he used to recite his poetry with great passion and conviction. After the freedom fighters won, they installed Islamic Sharia law and gave sanctuary to anti-American terrorists. In retrospect, the communist regime that the Soviets tried to preserve was not that bad. It was certainly better than the Taliban by any measure one would care to apply. The communists gave rights to women, such as the right to be educated, something the Islamists will never abide. Not only did the U.S. spend billions putting the Taliban in power, they also spent more billions removing them from power. The gist of it all is that the warlords do not take any clues from history. They are completely incapable of learning from past mistakes, like Afghanistan and Viet Nam, or else they don't care about their country and just want to grab money from the taxpayers. War in modern America is just a way for the military to justify its oversized budget.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Socrates and the Afterlife

Like many Greeks, Socrates believed in the afterlife, that is, that our individual consciousness will survive death, invisibly entering a realm outside of this world for a time before cycling back into a new human body. That must have been a great comfort to him while he was under sentence of death. I think he saw himself as a servant of the gods (my text says "God," but as his people were polytheist, I think the translator took liberties). He expected a reward of some kind or at least a better life after death, poor fellow. The belief has abiding appeal. There are many still today that do what they do because they think their reward will be great in Paradise. And it can be argued that in some cases this seems to be a beneficial illusion. That all illusions are harmful is a difficult argument with an uncertain outcome.

I can't say Socrates feels cheated now that he knows he was wrong, because he doesn't know anything, any more. He is ended. I don't accept the notion that individual consciousness survives death. I don't feel individual consciousness is all that special or deserving of preservation; it's just a complicated, beautiful machine, wondrous in its powers but temporal, fading and dying like a flower never to be seen again in this world. Beautiful things are created anew and destroyed all the time, everywhere. There is really no need in the scheme of things for human beings to be immortal. Reaching the top of the food chain has led to hubris among our people.

Socrates went around questioning people and tripping them up in logical arguments. He seems to have been a show-off and had no shortage of enemies. I don't find his arguments very persuasive, although he does raise good points. In the ancient world, I'm sure his arguments seemed strong, because there wasn't modern science or modern education around to refute them. He probably was a good speaker and a natural extrovert, to get so many followers. Although he disclaimed a desire for power or influence, I think his strongest desire was to appear wise and witty before these young men and to keep them interested. I think pride and his desire for attention and flattery were his downfall. He made political and social mistakes, apparently, because his enemies succeeded in persuading the citizens of Athens to condemn him to death. The sentence was surely unjust, which makes Socrates a martyr for freedom, specifically freedom of inquiry and perhaps freedom of speech.

The thought of science prolonging human life forever is not necessarily a comforting idea. The first people to consume the pills that grant immortality will probably be the worst people. They will seize the technology for their own and want a monopoly upon it, just as people seek sole possession of other treasures and powers.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Bezos Takeover of the Washington Post

I'm not thrilled about Amazon's Jeff Bezos taking over the Washington Post. Amazon doesn't treat its warehouse workers well. For instance, Bezos cuts down on electricity costs by forbidding air conditioning at the warehouses. I would expect that Bezos will apply his slave philosophy to the Post, not just mistreating current and former Post employees but also eradicating any editorials, opinions or articles concerning worker's rights. I think Bezos is foremost a person who thinks very little of workers, only as a means to an end, and is focused only on making money and accumulating prestige for himself. I'm surprised that anyone would view his latest acquisition as anything other than a move designed to make money and accumulate prestige for Bezos. His philosophy begins and ends with his bank balance. I expect the Post is going to be muzzled when it comes to any enterprises related to Bezos or his allies, and it will become the attack dog concerning any rivals of Bezos.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Religion, Liberalism and Progress

I've been on this earth a long time in human terms, and what surprised me the most was the acceptance of gay rights and indeed gay marriage during my lifetime. There has been quite a rise in consciousness from the 1970s. I can't help but feel that some kind of balance is being restored, that this is a natural process. The homophobic status quo was too far one way. There was no balance. Injustice was obvious to anyone with eyes to see. In a society where people can express themselves, gay rights were inevitable. The injustices were too numerous, too glaring, too easy to understand. It is not, after all, a complicated issue. It is not an issue that people can't relate with, either. However, I suspect the main catalyst for change in the area of gay rights were the rich. Homosexuality is a trait that arises without regard to economic status. So when gay consciousness awoke, due to the efforts of brave and creative poets, writers, artists and activists, and all gays began to feel a sense of loyalty and belonging to their group, the rich gays were already in a position to manipulate the levers of power to bring about change. If factions among the rich didn't want change, then I don't think change would have happened. Certainly there was very little movement for change among the so-called moral guardians in the church, mosque or synagogue. The priests were asleep, dreaming about God and talking in their sleep about God, not caring about the world, about society.

Back in the 1970s, our top fear was nuclear apocalypse. There was a feeling of hopelessness and inevitability about the coming nuclear exchange between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. Now our top fear is global economic meltdown and global climate catastrophe. There is also a feeling of hopelessness and inevitability about that as well. Maybe we will soldier on somehow through the problems of today and tomorrow. I don't know. I think it is possible that all three fears might become a reality--nuclear exchange, economic meltdown, and climate change. I think the basic problem of our species is that our advances in technology outstripped our advances in philosophy. Medieval religions are not well-equipped to handle modern issues of any kind. There is not a moral element in society other than liberalism that wants to tackle any important or difficult issues.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Dreaming of My Enemy

I dreamed of my enemy last night. Why, I don't know. I haven't seen him in twenty years. Maybe he died, and his passing somehow touched my unconscious. Don't scoff at my supernatural hypothesis, reader. There is more in heaven and earth than is dreamt of in your philosophy. His father died early of a heart attack, and so perhaps now that he is reaching the same age as his father. . .

He isn't my enemy any longer, of course. Twenty years has a way of erasing such distinctions, at least for me, and for the relatively mild wrongs wrought by that nothing. I don't care enough about him to even search the Internet and find out what he is up to. I've tracked down others--old flames, friends, and acquaintances, out of curiosity in the past, but once my curiosity was sated, I always had the feeling of "so what?" It doesn't really matter what they are doing now, or whether they are not doing at all--whether they are dead. Once so many years pass by, then people are strangers, whatever they might have been before. Absence doesn't make the heart grow fonder after all.

He was hell on wheels back in the day, and I used to think of him as my archenemy, as indeed he was for a time, but then we got older and ceased to care. The last interaction I remember with him, he was standing by the side of the road. His car had a flat tire, and he did not know what to do. The fool hadn't carried a spare like I always have done. He probably did not know how to change tires. I said not a word, but kept on walking. He could read the look on my face well enough to gather that I wouldn't have lifted a finger to help him. That was what impressed me the most about him, that he could appreciate the consequences of his past actions.

What was my dream about? I don't recall. Maybe it was an erotic dream. He wasn't bad-looking, as enemies go. I don't remember him having a girlfriend, even though he trumpeted his homophobia to everyone, like a pathetic badge of honor. I thought for sure he was a closet case. He palled around with the best-looking guy in school, his very best friend, and didn't spend any time with girls at all. There always seemed something fake to me about his loud avowals of desire for females. I have known a lot of straight guys in my day, and they didn't feel the need to run down gays.

The night before, I think I dreamed about the upcoming phone interview on Friday. I remember a strong premonition that things would not go well. The tension caused a spasm in my left calf, which woke me up. The muscle was like a rock. It was bruised the next day from the long-lasting spasm. I detest spasms, but they do occur on rare occasion, the body turning on its owner.

I don't think much of that premonition, because almost all phone interviews go ill. Phone interviews are just a quick and cheap way of weeding people out, when somebody has a ton of applications. The odds are all against a phone interview. If somebody is serious, they will meet in person.

What use are premonitions if they foresee likely events? I want a premonition that will make me rich or give me an opportunity to work and earn money. That's the kind of premonition I desire. I don't trust poor psychics. And I don't see why psychics would need to sell their services. I don't want premonitions of unhappy events, either. No more damn spasms. I want premonitions of good things that could happen to me, if I do a, b, and c.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Our Government is on the Wrong Track

Some are cynical about everything to do with government. Being a Democrat, I am persuaded that sometimes the government is capable of doing good things and that it acts as a check and balance upon private power. But government's security apparatus certainly has proven itself capable of excess.

The Washington Post posted an article today about how the government has been spying on Americans through the Internet. The Guardian followed up with another article explaining how pervasive the government's spying is. I can't say I was surprised, as I have detected the shadows cast by agents on numerous occasions through the years. I rather suspected that widespread spying was going on, targeting ordinary Americans for a multitude of rationales which all boil down to keeping the poor in their place and bringing more power to those who already have it. Ah, those with power always want more! Is that not an accepted fact of human nature?

Those who believe that their communications on Facebook, Google or other online services are respected as privileged and private are fools. Those who believe the government does not release viruses and spyware are also deluded. There are many undercover agents posing as ordinary people on Facebook, Amazon, Google and every other social media site. To lie is nothing to them--a mere trifle.

The rich and the powerful crapped their pants upon realizing the levelling potential of Internet technology. Now governments around the world, including the U.S., are doing everything they can to subvert the technology in order to enforce the age-old paradigm, wherein the less privileged remain so and the aristocracy hold all the cards.

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Vikings Are Coming

Vikings is a new show that every student of history should watch. It smacks of historical accuracy to me. The script is fairly well-written, too, depicting a primitive era in European history, the Dark Ages. Christianity and all the other sacred cows of Western civilization are treated in a fair, objective manner. I was skeptical at first, but the show won me over with its good characterizations, realistic action and realistic dialogue.

As a side note, I found it amusing to imagine that Vikings depicts not only our past but our future, after various calamities foreseen and unforeseen descend upon our planet. Such a thought can only amuse one who expects to be dead by such a time. I am an optimist. I expect all now living to be dead before our civilization collapses into barbarism.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Suffocating Under Prescription Laws

Today, the restrictions on life-saving medicine are an obvious manifestation of Social Darwinism. Medicines such as Albuterol, the rescue inhaler for asthmatics, require a prescription by an expensive medical doctor. Readers unfamiliar with Albuterol should know that is a non-narcotic medicine that asthmatics require on occasion when their asthma acts up. It is not typically something that one takes on a daily basis, but rather as needed, such as during allergy season. Inability to obtain Albuterol can lead to death by suffocation at the utmost, or costly visits to indifferent nurse practitioners at expensive, far-away medical clinics in order to obtain a script for twenty-five doses of the common generic drug, Albuterol. A visit may cost as much as a hundred dollars, not counting the Albuterol itself, which is additional. Always the words on the label read "NO REFILL," guaranteeing another visit a few months down the line and another hundred dollars flushed down the toilet. Making Albuterol difficult to obtain is unethical, because it increases the risk that an asthmatic will die of suffocation.

Why is Albuterol a prescription drug in the first place? That's a good question that would be difficult to answer without cynicism. Almost every drug that does anything requires a prescription. The reason is the government thinks people are idiots. Some people are idiots, sure. But most people would rather be given the benefit of the doubt. I believe one should assume that people will make wise choices, given adequate information, and yet even if they do not, it is better that they should be given a choice. My belief is a natural extension of my bias toward democracy. Those who are authoritarian take the opposite view, that only an authority should decide what is best for an individual. I suppose one's stance on this issue reflects one's political affiliation. There are some that would be happier in Iran or China, being told what to do and what not to do all the time.

In my view, doctors should not have an exclusive monopoly on prescribing life-saving medicine. In order to justify such a monopoly from the ethical perspective, doctors would have to always be available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to instantly write a script to anyone who needs it at no cost. This, of course, is impossible for anyone, let alone a doctor. Doctors are hardly available at all, and when they are seen it is at great cost and at their convenience, not the convenience of the suffering. I conclude that prescription and indeed drug laws in general will have to be revisited in a future society founded upon ethics. I doubt that any change will happen in my lifetime, but perhaps future generations will come around to a similar viewpoint as expressed here.
techlorebyigor is my personal journal for ideas & opinions