Friday, May 25, 2012

Television has ruined America.


My problem with TV is multifold. First it speaks from a position of authority it often hasn’t done anything to maintain. Fact checking has drifted off in popularity. It is a passive form of communication on the part of the viewer. Humans are wired to learn from input from visual and auditory communication, it is how we evolved to be such a successful species. We have a rare skill to take in information through other people and benefit from it. Many other animals have learned behaviors that they take on by modeling their parents. Learning to hunt for example is innate for reptiles and some birds, but most mammalian hunting patterns are passed on less intrinsically generation by generation.

Humans surpass even this ability; by passing ideas on through many generations into the future and across great distances, thanks to the development of language. This innate ability, the ability to learn from other people who we may never meet face to face, has been corrupted by people who wish to control societies at meta levels. Television sets norms. Mirror neuron response is automatic and innate. We often are not even aware of the influence that sets the tone of lives. If you see people modeling behavior, regardless of whether on a screen or in real life, some small part of your brain is calculating somewhere if the behavior you are witnessing would be beneficial for you to emulate.

The passive level of “entertainment” has another effect as well; when you read a book or a news paper you can stop at any time, take out a pen or pencil circle a word or bracket a section of text, research the topic and make an informed decision whether you agree with the statement or not. If you are having a conversation with a person, and they make an informative comment about a topic, you can ask them questions, learn more about the concept or the motive behind their desire to share it with you. But with television, it is like being lectured to in a crowd, it is very hard to pause and research a concept further. Some small part of your brain stows stuff away as “potentially useful information” with out vetting it, as the next rapid fire talking point comes up.

(I invite you all to open a new tab on your browser and look up “mirror neuron response” to check and see if I have given you an accurate picture of the phenomena. I write this blog pretty informally, Usually you are reading an unedited first draft. Hence the name “mind access“, this is how I write “off the cuff" so to speak. That said, all I have in the world to work with is my perspective, and as much as I like to think I have the facts correct, I could be wrong. I encourage people to find factual errors in my work and post them in the comments below, it not only helps other readers, it helps me by honing my understanding.)

Television is a creation of man, and there for subject to mans own shortcomings. For things to be broadcast as news, they have to be news worthy. No body tunes into the ten o’clock nightly news to hear about the small good things people do for one another. You get the occasional story about a person who overcame terrific adversity to triumph at some goal, or nice thing a notable person has done charitably. Rarely do you see behavior like polite driving or being nice to the person who is selling you food. So some of the most important parts of maintaining a healthy community are not part of the mass zeitgeist.

The result is a tendency to rely on television for you sense of community (though beloved characters in sitcoms or what ever) and withdraw from the community in general. This is then exacerbated by the mostly negative  nature of televised new and information. News hours are flooded by rapes, murders, hostile nations out side of our borders, and many other negative images. This becomes the perspective of the “out side world” and paranoia creeps in. The truth is the world isn’t out to get you, most of the time the world doesn’t even know you exist. Ask your self. “Do I know the names of more people; in my favorite show, or the people who live on my block?”

Worse yet, some people have realized the full potential of these effects and strive to manipulate public opinion. It might be a product they wish to sell, or a political agenda they wish to forward. They understand more about the way a human mind works than you would be comfortable knowing, many multi millions of dollars have been spent on marketing research. It is one of the best funded branches of psychological research.  (Again, don’t take my word for it, use the critical thinking skills that are one of the best gifts of your evolutionary heritage and research it.) You can make a pretty safe bet that they understand how your mind works better than you can.

So through the practice of laissez-faire fact checking and repeating talking points they can manipulate society at large. This is the mechanism that is used in our democracy to bend the public will into acting against its own interests and towards the interests of a handful of moneyed elites. This is the tool they use to create cracks in the social structure they can then cleave into voting blocks. This is the weapon they use to control our elected officials. Television has the effect of homogenizing cultures locally and globally.

The first step to living your life for your self and not the aims of others is to banish television from your life. The good and enjoyable parts of it are not enough to justify exposing ones self to the threat posed by insidious agents. From preventing the environmental damage that results from wanton consumption to empowering people to become more invested in their community as well as the direction of our nation, it is imperative that the human race moves past the TV era.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Forgiveness: The weapon of the protester.

The growing resentment of the disenfranchised youth is starting to manifest itself in protests. With the political attacks on education currently taking place in Washington DC this is likely to grow as over the summer many students have to face the harsh reality of student debt. I worry that some of this anger and resentment will be unjustly aimed at the police force.

It serves no greater good to fight against the propagandized victims who are in most cases simply doing their job. Sure a handful of cops are being overly aggressive, but I see that as more of a symptom of a much larger problem. I am sure that in time, we will see that within the culture of the police force, their actions are out of fear and repression spawned from pressures higher up in the chain of command over the visible foot soldiers. They have not yet come to realize that the system they are fighting to defend will eventually turn on them as well if they succeed.

It is important to keep protests civil. As the manipulators behind the scenes attempt to quell popular opinion, attacks will undoubtedly become harsher, but if we as a people stand firm in the resolve to keep non-violent, sooner or later the enforcement apparatus will begin to question the motives of the decision makers. Remember that they too are humans, who fear losing their jobs or their lives, if violence escalates it will only make it easier for them to turn a blind eye to the just nature of our cause.

Forgiveness is the greatest weapon we have. If our actions continue to remain peaceful despite the disrespect of the propagandized enforcers our numbers will surely grow, if we slip into the dangerous cycle of violence not only does it justify their response, but it limits new participation. Don't let the persistent evils pulling the strings win by dividing us on front lines with each other. I can assure you that the real target of our anger will not be found on the street, but in the offices of those who have chosen to expand their purview past their rightful place.

Ending corporate influence of politics will not be accomplished by fighting our own police force or by defacing public property. Violent action will only lead to having the rights of our constitution further stripped from us. Already, freedom of speech is barely a vestige of what was once a proud tradition in our country, don't let them justify further eroding it. Stand up for what you see as right, but not by doing what is wrong.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Politics incorporated.

The model of corporate leadership that is infecting american politics is especially troubling in the context of environmental policy. Corporations are amoral enterprises that are solely focused on short term gains. The current model of corporate success is based on the income level of top level management on a yearly basis. Climate change is impossible to successfully counteract within this model because of the lag time between cause and effect.

If our carbon emissions are not curtailed today to nearly pre-industrial levels the harshest effects will not be felt by those in power today, those effects will be felt by the humans 100 years or so in the future. The sad truth is for those over the age of fifty are not going to face the problems in store. They will drift off into their twilight years riding the remaining vestiges of the status quo like the last bastions of innocence. Sticking my generation and those after me with the bill.

So it makes perfect sense for them to deny climate change or fight tooth and nail against real change. Why should they make any sacrifices if they are not going to directly benefit from them? They have bought into a pathological lie propagated by sociopaths who are simply not concerned with the future past their own lifetime. Now this is not a call to start distrusting anyone over a certain age, or start a young vs old class war. There are plenty of older people who do understand and are willing to make changes in their lives to benefit the great grand children they will never meet.

Sadly those individuals are not a majority in the political sphere. The current political actors that govern america are too much like the early industrialists who saw no issue with pumping waste directly from their factory into rivers and lakes. Citing costs or economic damage to prevent change is treason as it directly effects our national security in the future. Those who continue to insist the corporate model is acceptable for the political system are traitors to our country.

The market has its place; when consumer choice can act as a limiting counter force, the corporate model is perfect. For compulsorily systems or altruistic endeavors like health insurance or environmental policy and education, proponents of the amoral system of the corporate model are a out right threat to our national security. We cannot afford to let those who will not choose to act in the best interests of our nation continue to have the strongest influences in politics any longer.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

For profit government?

My views on corporate america are pretty obvious. But what you might not know, is I don't actually hate corporations or want to dismantle them. Large scale operations are capable of producing some goods much more efficiently and with less environmental impact. It is the scope of their control I wish too curtail. There are significant portions of the economy that are well within the acceptable purview of corporate america. But like an expansionist empire, they foolishly believe their model works best in all situations, and this is patently false. Corporations are amoral, concerned only with the profit they can ultimately extract and distribute to a small proportion of individuals at the top of the organization.

Where does that leave most of the rest of us? Well most people my age fall into three demographics from a corporate viewpoint. A consumer base to be cajoled and manipulated. A dissonant group to be marginalized. Or labor to be disenfranchised. None of these demographic groups are seen as contributory to society in general. None; from a corporate stand point, have any value past their function to the corporate system. So where do you fall in this system? Well often it is more a ven diagram than a box, with people tending to fill multiple roles supporting the corporate hierarchy.

The consumer. What are the basic elements necessary for life? Food, water, shelter, maybe a case can be made for community and sense of purpose. But we have been led to believe that it takes more than this to "live today". On a lark, I have lived for more than five months now with out a cell phone. Twenty years ago, this was normal, but now when I say it people look at me like I am from another planet. Corporate has a keen understanding of marketing (cognitive science is heavily funded by the private sector), they create social norms via television or other mediums. In essence controlling society in a deep and profound way.

The dissonant. Some of us buck the system, or lack opportunities and are forced into three subsets. Those who strive to play within the letter of the law but fight the spirit of it. These are protesters, or anti-corporatists who resist purchasing corporate goods and services as much as possible. Secondly are those who are desperate enough to break the law. Often becoming drug addicts or gang members. And lastly those who withdraw. These are the rural poor or survivalists. Corporate america, instead of finding ways to coexist, prefer to solve this problem with bigger prisons with thicker walls (which they then can extract a profit from).

Lastly labor. I mean that literally. Labor is vital to the corporate structure. It is where goods and services provided are generated. Coincidentally, this is also where most of the consumer based gets their economy from. In order for a single corporation to be successful (in this case success is measured only by the amount of profit the highest level of management can extract) they must disenfranchise labor as much as possible. The closer they get to slavery, the better. This is accomplished in several ways; out sourcing jobs to countries with cheap labor pools for instance, or by removing required skill sets from an operation through automation, or by preventing organization of labor and collective bargaining rights.

All of this is maintained by the illusion of advancement. Corporate structure is designed to be a closed system. If there was actual room for advancement for everyone, then the model of corporate structure would break down. (see previous posts about predatory capitalism). It is no wonder that the corporate manipulators of our political system see education as an "entitlement", anything that adds value to society with out benefiting some corporate entity would be maligned.

It is time corporate america learned its place again. As equals in the political spectrum with the american people. The government is supposed to provide and control services for everyone in our nation. The undue political influence of a short sighted and amoral entity (in the form of corporate lobbyists) is the single largest threat to our national security today and to the future of our nation.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Education as an entitlement?

Recently a debate has sprung up on capital hill regarding student loan interest rates. Some contend they are nothing more than another entitlement program to be cut in the face of the necessary austerity measures needed to bring the federal budget back under control. Now for those of you who read this might not recognize the following writing style or word usage, but this really pisses me off.

Who the fuck do they think they are? Have they ran out of people to screw currently so they have to start screwing the future generations early? Equating education with the likes of welfare and other social programs has got to be the single most ignorant stance ever taken in the history of governance. Education is the fucking cure to the welfare state. Crime rates and poverty are inversely proportional to educational access. Anyone advocating more barriers to education for the general public is truly a traitor against the national interest.

I understand that finding ways to encumber the american people with debt is important to creating a docile work force, but the methodology of forcing future innovators into indentured servitude isn't just the kind of short sighted decisions we are used to seeing coming out of the political spectrum, but a new level of avarice. Do we really want the scientists of the future forced into discovering slightly longer lasting versions of viagra instead of working on cures for less profitable diseases?

Science is not market directed. If an avenue of scientific exploration doesn't have a clear path to a marketable product, it will simply languish in the private sector. Many of the scientific advances we take for granted in our daily lives came from spin offs of what was once unpractical science. Computers are a perfect example of this. So is GPS navigation, or velcro, or many of the petroleum products we consume, all of these were spin-offs from research directed in other ways.

If the great scientific minds of human history were shackled with a mortgage on their minds much of the progress we point to as the barrier that separates us from the likes of cavemen would have undoubtedly been stifled. There are plenty of other "golden cows" that make up the federal budget that could be stream lined with much greater effect on the deficit, like the run-away military spending, that don't attack the future of our nation.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Write in for a Change.

Hey America! And yes I mean ALL of America, not left or right leaning America, or tea party America, or green party America, but all Americans. Do you really feel as though your best interests are being served by our elected officials? I know I don't.

The political system as it is today seems to have become a shell game of empty campaign promises where the lack of real progress is blamed by participants across the line of demarcation between "conservative" and "liberal". Yet any time a corporate agenda wills it, those same actors fall all over them selves to cooperate. Our political system is a wholly owned subsidiary of amoral corporate interests. I for one am sick of it.

It is time to send a warning shot across their bow. Vote for your genuine interests from now on. I don't care if those interests are best represented by libertarians or greens or the tea party or socialists. Just write in anyone from out side the corporate controlled political two party spectrum. Don't let them cow you with fear of "the other guys" or drive you with wedge issues they have no real interest in actually addressing any longer. Both parties are nothing more than two corporate controlled factions manipulated to maintain the illusion of choice.

Like advertisers imploring you to choose coke vs pepsi when both are filled with diabetes causing high fructose corn syrup. In reality you can  choose; coffee, or tea, fruit juice, or even clean water and be much better off for it! If you feel there is a party, no matter how unlikely they are to gain power, that better represents your interests, you owe it to your self, to the nation, and to our collective future to stand up for those principals.

It is time to remind those who have gotten lazy about maintaining the farce of political representation that the voting public still has significant power in America. This is about restoring the people's voice in the political sphere of influence. The time for "R" and "D" is over, it is time to "I"mplement!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

State Of Our Currency

So america took the dollar off the gold standard decades ago. In other words, there is not an equal amount of gold in the vault to match all of the paper money floating about. So that got me to thinking, "what does back the dollar?" I think i have the answer. Oil.

Our entire economy is petroleum dependent. Food, manufacturing, even getting to work in the first place is hard to do without consuming this resource. For some even turning on a light switch expends petroleum. More tellingly is the fact that on the world market oil as a commodity is priced by "dollars per barrel".

This freaks me out. Our economy is based on a finite resource. One that some experts believe is past its peak production point and will require exploiting much more costly and difficult locations to maintain. Am I missing something or am I the only one who thinks this is just plain insane? This isn't a long term solution, it isn't even a short term goal. This reeks of the kind of short sighted, quarterly profit motivated, poor judgement you would expect out amoral corporate america, not our political leadership.

If you have read my past posts, I have stated that sustainability needs to be the new metric of success. This is exactly the opposite.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Modest Proposal

Today in biology class we broached the subject of global climate change. It came up as a part of ecosystem ecology, there have been several extinctions lately that are directly attributable to the loss of habitat as the result of climate change. It hit me! I have the solution. Plants are capable of absorbing immense amounts of carbon dioxide from the air to the tune of giga-tons a year. Only just slightly faster than animals produce carbon dioxide through the process of cellular respiration.

We might be able to attenuate climate change to nearly sustainable levels if we simply round up and exterminate all animals on earth besides us! Think about, if we are the only carbon dioxide producers, plants would be capable of removing all of our waste gasses for us. Better still is the fact that some of the dirty work is already being started for us naturally. More species are currently transitioning from threatened to endangered than ever before in the history of biological sciences.

So I implore you all, start with the dog and cat or what ever you need to do to numb your self to the pain, but you need to off set your carbon foot print your self. The average american is responsible 17.5 tons of carbon dioxide per year (including power generation and food transportation) and in order to balance that you will have to kill approximately 450 tons of animal bio mass per year to off set it (though more like 600 tons if you drive a Cadillac Esclade). We can each kill 450 tons of animals every year per person per year can't we? I mean it has to be easier than getting the federal government off our oil dependent economy, right?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Keeping my mind occupied.

I enjoy watching the media try to box the Occupation Movement into the normal societal lines that have been imposed on the voting public for so long. They usually just end up ranting about how the movement "lacks a cohesive message" or even more telling, maligns it as "a bunch of hippies or bums".

What they are doing is running up against the inherent flaw of the lop sided political system in america that is designed to hand down political ideals from a centralized pulpit. In this system you are forced to choose "good" or "bad" in a them vs us way. There is no "them" or "us" only a "We". (This might come as a shock...) I self identify as a progressive, but I do not agree with many of the ideals of the democratic party, so where do I fit in?

Occupy is decentralized and multilateral, the direction of the movement is based on group consensus, but it is also based on participatory action. It cannot be defined by; "conservative", "liberal", "anarchist", "socialist", "libertarian", "labor", or the host of descriptors we have for so long taken as necessary for a political group to exist. It is all of these and more. It is an open forum where anyone who shows up has an equal voice, where ideas and ideology meet to share concepts in the open.

The participatory nature of the movement also means that if a cause is unworthy, than you can choose to abstain, without judgement. Right now, those who are choosing to participate, are not different from those who are not,  participants are simply waiting for everyone who are choosing to abstain to decide to voice their opinions and effect the direction of the movement. If someone drives by and chalks the movement up to a bunch of dirty hippies and bums in a park, it is because THEY are choosing to allow it to be that way.

Nobody is qualified to speak from a position of authority on Occupy who hasn't actually participated. Even if all they do is show up to a general assembly, eat a snack and listen, they are as much of the movement as anyone else. No longer is it acceptable for us as a nation to be divided into voting base and turned on one another, nor is it acceptable for us to be made to feel as though our voice in determining the direction of our country is invalid or only partially right. Why does it have to be determined without our consent?

This is about empowering the people, the vast majority of citizens, who for far too long have been forced to play second fiddle to the self interested elites that garner the lion share of political influence. Unplug your television and never plug it back in again the next time you felt pidgin-holed into an ideal you don't agree with by the political party you lend your allegiance too. The enemy of good isn't perfection, its disenfranchisement.