The Recent Rash of "I declare Facebook can't..." Postings

I am no big fan of Facebook corporation. Like Google, they are here to exploit our data and I don't love that. However, Facebook's claim to intellectual property that you put on this site is not that weird, extreme or unreasonable.

We all post stuff here so that people can see it. The law says that you own the copyright when you type stuff, post pictures, etc. If Facebook shows that information to your friends, Facebook has violated your copyright and you could sue them.

The reason their terms of service include a license to your posts is so that they are not at legal risk when they show your posts. It's necessary and reasonable.

Some people get upset that the license language allows them to create derivative works. This is also necessary. Eg, any of us can request a copy of our Facebook page/history. This is a derivative work and anything that is in it would be a copyright violation without that provision.

Privacy is a weird issue in the modern age. One big shot I pay attention (Bill Joy) to said, in the nineties, "Get over it. There is no such thing as privacy any more." I think he was probably right.

However, I retain a certain amount by not posting things I feel private about. Facebook will never be able to reveal my important secrets because I don't post them. What I do post, I want known. Honestly, I think that's true of us all.

Which is to say, don't worry about Facebook. Worry about what you say. Facebook is a wonderful thing that provides us with the ability to have conversations with each other though we are separate in time and space. Honestly, I rejoice in it. I think you should, too.

The Second Republican Debate

I know everyone is dying to know...

I'm calling this one for The Donald, Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio. 

The Donald kept his aggression but lost his bellicosity. He was a tiny bit more thoughtful and seemed less like a gigantic asshole. He showed some humor and, almost, a little self-deprecation.

Carly Fiorina is incredibly articulate. She is focused, knowledgable and smart but, even more, she is able to express herself with amazing clarity.

Marco Rubio deserves a mention. He seemed relatively solid and composed. His presence on a national stage didn't seem like a bizarre non-sequitor this time.

Most of the rest showed some improvement, as one would expect. They have experience now. Still, none of them seemed to deserve to have a boost in the polls.

Ben Carson's prominence continues to amaze me. He just doesn't seem smart. He doesn't have any ideas. He is conciliatory and kind of dumb. Scott Walker was much better this time. Still an empty suit, but last time he really seemed like an idiot. 

Chris Christie is said to have had a stronger performance but, I don't really see it. He was fine, but who cares. Jeb! was still without inspiration and, to me, seemed a little desperate to be taken seriously.

Huckabee and Cruz continue their role as the cruel, evil ones. Rand Paul is, imho, a cipher.

Two other things struck me.

First is the amount of increased weaseling. Again and again these people repudiated their previous positions. There was no one, except, sort of, The Donald, who stuck to their guns.

The other thing came to me in the final segment. The question asked how the world would "look different" after their presidency. Only The Donald answered the question. The rest talked about themselves or criticized Obama. The Donald said something to the effect, "It will be great. America will be great. More jobs. More money. More everything. We will be respected. It will be great."

Now, I know that's entirely bullshit but, it does show, ironically, that he has the confidence and vision to talk about something other than himself. Based on those answers, for the rest of them, the most important thing about their potential presidency is them. For Donald Trump, the most important thing is that "It's going to be great."

I think that's why he's doing so well and it's a lesson I hope that Hillary can learn. It's odd that this weird egomaniac can offer a lesson in selflessness and it's benefits as a campaign tactic.

People of the Amygdala

The conservatives bedeviling our society do not have wrong ideas. They do not disagree with you. They are not influenced by logic or fact. They live in a world of fearful emotion. When confronted by these contradictions, their huge amygdalas perceive contradictions with normal expectations and cause them to have alarming ideation and fight or flight hormones are secreted.

When you hear a weird noise at night and have a feeling of dread, that's your amygdala speaking. You have no facts to support dread. You live in a world with no zombies or serial killers. Still, your amygdala generates the worst possible ideas and emotions.

Because your amygdala is the right size, the rest of your brain (something called the 'anterior cingulate cortex' is responsible for dealing with complications like a weird noise or ideas that don't fit your previous expectations) quickly dominates your thinking with rational explanations, essentially generating a new faith system based on its rationalization of the event.

For amygdala people, the fear doesn't go away. The mental process that rationalizes is weak and cannot secrete enough hormones and neurotransmitters to compete with the alarm.

The only thing that calms is faith. Ideas with their intrinsic back and forth of conflicting thoughts always stimulate fear. Only the certainty of faith, of previously known and accepted ideas, avoids stimulating the amygdala and reduces the alarm.

For these people, gay marriage (abortion, black people, etc) are like weird sounds in the night. These things violate their expectations and their amygdalas react with alarming ideation.

Opposing these people with facts and argument does nothing. Pointing out biblical contradictions simply stimulate these overgrown amygdalas to more alarming ideas, to more fear.

I haven't figured out the way to communicate to the People of the Amygdala but, it's not with facts. We need to find a way to talk to their fear in a way that subverts and lessens it. We need a way to introduce new articles of faith without stimulating the gigantic amygdala.

Tough goal but, it's the only way we will survive as a society.

Update 11/29/18: Researchers examined the role of fear and security. Slightly different angle. Consistent. Very interesting. Washington Post

The Drum Beats

I have long thought that this country was heading toward violence. The change in partisanship. The viciousness and intolerance of the religious right. Economic polarization. Traumatic feelings of fear about climate change. Destruction of the unions and condemnation of the very idea of social action among labor. The use of "liberal" as a deep and effective slur. The list of intractable influences causing desperation among the working and under class people in our country is long.

When Trayvon Martin was killed and the right celebrated. I felt that the fuse was being lit. When Black Lives Matter was ridiculed and then subverted, I thought that arrogance on the right had become truly dangerous and inflammable. In another thread here on Facebook, I read a guy saying that this is the first time in his life that someone has declared "open season" on police. I have no doubt that he sneered when someone said it was open season on black boys.

After the abusive police response in Fergusson when Michael Brown was murdered, I began to feel even more uneasy. Each step along the way. The tick tock of black boys being killed, now that we bother to notice.

But none of that set me as far on edge as the completely unrepentant attitude of the police, the gun nuts, and the right wing politicians. Instead of seeking to assuage the fear that all of us who are not rich now feel when we see a cop in the mirror, they proudly claim that the kid didn't raise his hands far enough, that the woman wasn't sufficiently respectful. They aren't distressed about police brutality, they celebrate it.

That leaves the oppressed with nowhere to turn. We know that Congress will do nothing. We know that the local authorities are in favor of this police behavior. When the demonstrators in the aftermath of the abuse of Sarah Bland were openly carrying assault rifles and the police were, for a change, not abusive and authoritarian, I thought, "it's begun."

Anyone who failed to notice that the police respect violence more than peace is a fool. Now, you watch, the slippery slope has been engaged. Police are dying. The authorities are going to show their stripes by loudly condemning those deaths where they are silent about black boys.

I don't (necessarily) recommend it, but I hear the drumbeat. The cries of sorrow about Trayvon and Michael and Sarah and the rest are starting to sound like cries of another sort and I think we all have reason to be afraid.

A New Social Paradigm

As technology progresses, we are going to need fewer and fewer workers. There are always going to be substantial numbers of people who cannot get jobs.

At the same time, there are people who do not desire to fit into the capitalist paradigm and those who don't. Call them lazy if you like, but there are people who detest the idea of 9-5, working to someone else's priorities, or something else about a job. 

Lots of these people are have jobs because they can't survive without them and are doing a lousy, or at least uninspired, job. They are taking work opportunities away from those who feel differently.

Because there are lots of people who like to work. They like being on a team. They like participating in something big. They want more stuff. There are a million reasons. That's where capitalism comes from. And lots of them do not have jobs because some less motivated person was forced to take it.

This disproportionately affects young people because old people, who often lose their motivation as time goes on, are entrenched.

It's my opinion that we should change the idea of welfare to the idea of 'base support' and make it available to everyone. The goal would be to help people who are unmotivated from taking jobs away from those who want them.

Base support would provide a decent life but to avoid civil unrest and other problems, we need to provide activities to avoid boredom and to provide ways for people to gain some luxuries. (Have and have not is a dangerous thing.)

One of the ways I would deal with this is by vastly increasing the amount of educational opportunities and then changing the general concept of society to consider failing to attend university to be a sign of weakness.

Nobody would be able to flunk out (we don't need to ration school seats because we can create infinite amounts of them; they are not connected to market cycles) and for most people it would mainly be entertainment. But, this would also make it so that nobody was excluded. There would be some people who would never have had any education otherwise that would be geniuses and accomplish huge things.

And, in the workforce, people who don't like it would not be taking up space, doing a crappy job, demotivating others, etc. Everyone who was working would be there because they want to accomplish stuff. Productivity and profits would skyrocket. Overall happiness would increase. People would be able to live life in a way that suits their personality and skills.

Hillary v Bernie: I love them both. I just don't know who I want to see in the White House.

Let me help you out. One of them has already spent eight years in the White House, six years as a Senator and four as Secretary of State. One of them built and ran a solid national organization (her 2008 campaign).

Both of them are hated by Republicans. Both of them are much more liberal than either the Congress or the American people. Both of them will face an oppositional Congress that will severely constrain their ability to achieve liberal goals. Consequently, though I think Bernie is more liberal than Hillary, their views will not be the controlling factor, Congress will.

One, if he is enabled to seriously affect this race, might be able to push Hillary far enough to the left that she becomes unacceptable to the independents who she needs to win. Those same independents, however, will never, ever vote for Bernie. 

In fact, neither will most Democrats. Bernie is a socialist. You and I and people like us are the tea party of the Democrats. We are the lunatic left that will, if we insist on pushing our agenda, discredit the Democratic party by convincing the general public that the Republicans are right, Obama and the Democrats are radical leftists.

Right now, people generally don't believe it. Everyone knows that the R's are lying idiots but, when Joe Sixpack finds out that an avowed socialist is a serious Democratic candidate, he will.

So, my conclusion is this: Because of Congress, it doesn't matter much which of them is in the White House. But, deciding that your prefer Bernie be in the White House (instead of an incredibly accomplished, prepared, experienced woman) presents the real possibility of getting a president of the kind that can make a real difference, a Republican.

Wells Fargo Bill Pay Unreliable

Once again, my wife has had to jump through hoops to deal with the Wells Fargo Bank's failure.

In this case, she triggered an important payment on the 16th of the month. The money was immediately removed from her account. As it promised, on the 23rd of the month it said the payment was "delivered".

On the 30th, she got a notice that her payment was late.

On the 31st, the payment actually got there.

On another occasion, a payment was lost for months because, we eventually learned, of their paperwork problems. In that case, we had to argue with the cable tv company every month to prevent them from turning off our internet, etc. Their computer had no way of dealing with the fact that the banks records had a clear (but mislabeled) record of them receiving the money.

Wells Fargo is, of course, a huge, horrible company. But, I'm accustomed to these sorts of companies being at least marginally competent. I am wrong. Wells Fargo lost the cable tv money for several months. Just lost it and caused a huge amount of hassle. Their Bill Pay service is unreliable. It takes your money. Says it's made the payment but doesn't.

I suggest you avoid Wells Fargo like the plague.

Police Want Everything. We Get Nothing.

For hundreds of years until just less slightly recently than this, crimes were solved even though cell phones did not exist. Somehow society managed to survive. 

The change in police capacity that we experience is not that they cannot get into cellphone data. It is that they can use it to violate our privacy to an unprecedented extent, even without being able to overcome encryption.

"Until very recently, this situation would not have occurred."

Comparative Attraction

To some, the fact that women by substantial margins, choose lesbian and gay porn (according to stats from Pornhub, a large porn website) is surprising or entirely explained by the anti-feminist content of most straight porn.

Years ago (and I wish beyond all measure that I could find the it), I read an NY Times article that talked about a functional MRI study they did of people watching porn. Showing gay and straight porn to gay and straight women they found...

Gay mens brains lit up when they saw gay porn but not straight porn

Straight mens brains lit up when they saw straight porn by not gay porn

Women brains lit up no matter what kind they were shown

The responses were, of course, nowhere near as clearcut as that but, the study concluded that the female response to porn definitely worked along a spectrum while the male response was fairly binary.

I don’t know any more if the article suggested, or I had the idea and have just integrated into the memory, but it seems clear, both from the study and from the responses of women I’ve known, that female sexuality *is* a spectrum thing. That women are, again allowing for all human variation, by and large, neurologically bisexual. For some women the response to other women is so small that they consider themselves hardcore straight and others, well, others are not-only-neurologically bisexual.

This fits with of common experience, too. As power dominated as the ‘girls kissing in bars’ thing is, it is hard to imagine a publicly acceptable coercion that would be sufficient to cause most men to tongue kiss another man. Or, three-way sex and the mythology of elaborate rules about ‘crossing swords’ that is absent from situations where women form the majority. Even the differences in casual physical contact, sleepovers, etc, that are apparent in some adult women would seem to fit.

It makes sense, too, when you consider evolution. When we were mere prehistoric beasts, women were smaller and stuck with the babies (oh, how times have changed ;-)). It is easy to imagine that the females who were repelled by huddling under the mammoth hide with the other females got a lot colder and died sooner. Perhaps ones who didn’t socialize properly during such cold spells were at a survival disadvantage and, considering how horny people are in general, it’s easy to imagine there being a sexual component of that, too.

Thoughts on Dealing with Conservatism

This makes huge sense to me.


Imagine, if you will, that you're alone in a house. A really weird noise happens. You immediately get a cold sweat and worry that something bad is happening. You have instant, negative ideation that highlights the worst case. Nobody hears that noise and thinks, "That is a weird mouse." The alarm is coming from your brain's early warning system, the amygdala. It's job is to inspire defensive reaction to events and does so by adding worrisome ideas to your thoughts.

This is, obviously, almost metaphorical in its simplicity but, it captures the high level consequence of the amygdala's contribution to your life.

So, now imagine a person being faced with a really weird noise in the form of an idea that doesn't fit with their preconceptions (just as the weird house noise doesn't fit with your expectations of quiet or gentle creaking at most). If that person has an enlarged amygdala that is more active, those discordant ideas result in an amygdala contribution and that contribution is alarming ideation.

When you say to a conservative 'abortion', it's disagreement with their already settled view that it is bad gives their amygdala reason to engage. It induces a defensive feeling of being attacked and adds horrible elements to their ideation. Liberals think, saved lives of young, used to be pregnant girls. Conservatives think, immoral whores doing whatever they want. Liberal think, tens of thousands of children who will not grow up unwanted. Conservatives think, dead babies everywhere. Etc.

In addition to the alarming ideation, the defense against attack aspect (useful if a saber tooth tiger is a real possibility, not so much if it's a fellow citizen who disagrees) prevents evaluation of the other ideas. One does not rationalize a threat. One fights it. One's preconceptions are there to be protected. Their potential change is the essential threat being opposed.

So, liberals, due to their experience with brains dominated by the anterior cingulate cortex, are perplexed that conservatives take positions that are counterproductive to their views, fail to understand the essence. Conservatives only care about protecting their preexisting ideas. A policy to minimize abortion is completely unimportant to a person whose fundamental brain motivation is to adjust the environment so that the disapproval of abortion is brought to a level that is consistent with their internal view.

This is important as we move forward into an increasingly partisan world (research shows that political views are an increasing part of mating decisions; if brain structure is a strong contributor to political orientation, we have a population of young people who are breeding purebred partisans). There is no progress to be made addressing conservatives with reason or appeals to the practical consequence of their policies. An approach needs to be devised that appeals to their interest in protecting their world view.

In a simplistic way, what we need to do is figure a way to establish a religion that is consistent with the practicality of the world. An alternative where, say, a national deficit is not seen as violating every precept of self-reliance and integrity, but is, instead, seen as, say, a garden of eden gathering of resources.

That's silly. But the point is that the smart, flexible minds who have made the modern world what it is, need to start to take into account the special needs of conservative minds. Just as we no longer try to teach autistic children using the same techniques as we do other kids, we need to devise new techniques for communicating with conservatives that take into account their enlarged amygdalas.