Meanderings on the sources of evil

Catholicism is famous for opposing divorce. One can only leave a marriage if the church allows it and, throughout history, women had no say. Abuse was rarely cause. Corporal punishment for wives was allowed. Marital rape was considered impossible. Women were kept in marriages against their will by the millions

Ubiquitous child abuse is not the only crime committed by the Universal Church in the name of Jesus.This does not, for me, necessarily color my evaluation of the belief system. I continue to think that Christianity is pretty. Knowing, of course, that all religions have vile fundamentalists, I started this note trying to isolate that from the nice doctrine.

I did a false start where I considered the idea of 'faith', per se, as the culprit and I will, after I think about it for awhile, probably conclude that faith, per se, is a bad thing.

But, I set that aside for now, party because I have to think it through and partly because it misses the point.

All religions have bad actors but only one has an organization embodied, for nearly two thousand years, in a global network of pedophiles and murderers. I readily concede that there has also been much good done but am very, very skeptical about the cost.

The reason I have a trouble separating the Christian wheat from the organization chaff is that, when Christians finally overthrew the pure tyranny of Catholicism, they chose Martin Luther to become a movement where bigotry replaced pedophilia while the murder and power mongering continued with zeal.

I might still be able to find a way around my distress over the singular damage Christians have done by comparing it to Islam, also a religion that uses it's 'prince of peace' concept as a shroud to conceal it's bloody minded attitude about those who resist its power. After all, it's not really just Christians.

But today, we have American Christianity showing huge support for every vile oppression the right-wing wants to put upon us. Anti-choice. Anti-vax. Pro-Trump. Pro-1/6. Pro-white-supremacy. Anti-environment. Anti-immigrant. Anti-science.

More than half of America Christians voted for Trump and all the vile practices he embodies as the leader of the most powerful country on the planet. The Moslems have done nothing that compares. Their influence in the world overall is small. Had Donald gotten another term, the Christians would have been the largest identifiable group that put him in a position to ruin the world.

Is it because of Christianity? Correlation is not cause. I still think that Christianity is a pretty doctrine. It is said that humans can mess anything up and with that, I emphatically agree. But, some things are easier to mess up than others. Nobody every committed genocide in the name of loving quantum physics.

The Fermi Paradox

I am of the opinion that life is probably common, an inevitable property of resource availability, like rust where iron and oxygen are present. I suspect it is *everywhere*.

I also think that the variation we see on Earth is an indication of both how varied life forms are and how parochial our perspective is. We live in a place that got DNA. All the life has DNA and we think that means that 'life' means DNA. Considering the fact that those lifeforms range from humans to bacteria to lichens and that we can only communicate with mammals tells me that 1) we are stuck in a local paradigm and, 2) we are not taking the lesson.

The Fermi Paradox seems apparent because we imagine that life out there resembles us but, there could be a thousand trillion civilizations of dolphins and we would never know because their life habit makes the sky and stars and radios irrelevant. There could be lichen civilizations that develop and communicate at glacial speed and, having no thumbs, don't build tools, only communicating by chemical signals.

There are forests of thousands of acres that are a, genetically, a single individual connected by their roots and chemicals they secrete into the air. There is absolutely no reason to think that the interactions among them are not some amazing form of poetry.

The final piece of the puzzle, in my view, is the fact a mobile, tool building lifeform stands a really good chance of killing itself off well before it could make itself apparent to us.

The Fermi Paradox reflects a failure of imagination based on an arrogant belief in our own superiority and importance.

2,404 Voluntary COVID19 Deaths Is Just Fine. I Think It IS Over.

I've been perplexed since I realized that, as of February 2022, 2400 people are still being killed by covid19 each day. I wonder how, even with exhaustion, that can be a number most don't notice or, if they do, feel. Certainly, we are calloused and fed up but, when we hit that number two years ago, we knew that the 876,000 anual covid deaths that number implies is horrific.

I have realized two things about it that are different. The first is that most of the country was in lockdown. If thousands of people are dying when we are truly doing our very best to avoid it, that is terrifying. Each of us could see ourselves in that number because locked down people were dying in droves.

The other thing is that those deaths are largely voluntary. The number of vaccinated people who die of covid is essentially zero. Those 2400 are almost all people who have chosen not to accept a free, safe, easy preventative. They deserve their fate.

It is truly terrifying to imagine what the mortality would be if we hadn't locked down and disciplined our lives in the other ways we did. It is heartening to realize that as we return to medical freedom, only those who choose illness and death are dying. They aren't my problem. I realize that it actually is pretty much over.

Reality is gender fluid

A person on Facebook whom I've known for a long time posted a picture of a gravestone that said something like "White People in Commercials RIP 2021". I personally have thought, "Sheesh. Literally every television show has a pair of gay men kissing." (I'm exaggerating. Often it's women kissing.) Also, I've thought things that support the idea that this has to piss off the shitheads 100%.

The problem, though, isn't that TV is making them "think" they've lost the country. It is that they *have* lost the country.

The TV and ad programmers are not making this shit up. Men are kissing men. Teens are allowed to have sex. Parents are allowing their kids to have gender fluid self expression. In droves.

If you are smart enough to earn money and live in a decent place, you don't mind. You think that you should love whomever you want and that you should express your identity however you want and that the old standards of behavior were mainly ways of keeping women in the kitchen.

And, as a person who has money, they manipulate you with programming that caters to your viewpoint. Since the shitheads are poor folk with little education and no future prospects of having money, nobody makes programming for them because they know that they will not be able to pay for anything more expensive than a truck and some food.

Fox News and Donald Trump talk about the liberal media as if it was a coordinated attack on them. It's not. Liberals are the worst. They are a million times less likely to toe the party line than right-wingers. They disagree about everything and hate conformity. Look at the problems they are having trying to get the Build Back Better bill passed. It's endemic to liberalism that liberals can't work together to get anything done. What's actually happening is that all decent people independently hate them.

It is worth noting that, while there is some social innovation (gender fluid is an idea not formalized until the last decade), none of these ideas are new and the liberal Hollywood elites have believed and lived them for a long time. Even so, when the country was racist, they never showed any black people.

I don't believe we saw any serious gay couples on TV in the eighties and it was transgressive to show them in the nineties. I guess there were some in the oughts but men kissing?, that's the last five years. Yet, the Hollywood elites have been mostly gay forever. Fucking Rock Hudson was kissing men in the fifties. It was a secret because the people who had money to buy ads and pay for movies hated homos.

We are in a brave new world and the shitheads are going to have to get used to it. They can hate all they want and dream of a world where commercials only have white people again but reality is not going to change because of their racist, homophobic angst. They are the only ones left who think white supremacy is a good idea. Who think that cis people in cis marriages are the only kind that are good.

Sure Amy Coney Barrett is on the Supreme Court but she's a result of the spasmodic thrashing of the old guard. She will kill the right to abortion but it will merely assuage the fears of the shitheads. Sixty to seventy percent of the country will still support women to get abortions.

Reality, as expressed in the lives of millions of people, mostly the educated ones who earn and spend real money, is tolerant, gender fluid, mixed race and enthusiastically helping their children live their truth to build a future where all kinds of people are happy and free.

Wealthy People and Their Corporations Impoverish Another Batch of Workers

People complain about the civil rights consequences of No-Fly lists. Mysterious bureaucracy than can truly ruin your life with no recourse.

I complain about the credit rating companies. Another mysterious bureaucracy that can ruin your life.

One is the government. We love to note that the Constitution applies to them, not corporations. Facebook, we note, can selectively stop covid disinformation and should, even if our ideas of free speech are violated by that.

The story here is that the credit card processing companies are making decisions about what sorts of goods and services we can buy, about how people can make money and force changes in corporate policy.

Imagine, I digress, if the cellphone companies decided you were no longer allowed to phone Democratic congress people. You would be outraged, of course, but it's a corporation and it is allowed to have policies it prefers.

In that case, politicians who have power would probably beat them into submission. But, what if the affected party had no power? The policy would stand.

It turns out that sex workers have no power. The companies that run the movement of money around our countery don't like them. As with the cellphone companies in my example, they have simply told companies, you can't do business with them.

And so, is forcing them out of business in order to stay in business itself.

Someday we are going to have to wake up and force some changes. Our capitalist system is supposed to provide a free market, to provide options and the variety of services desired by the market.

There was an idea called "lassez faire capitalism" that was fully discredited in the Gilded Age, the time when the Rockefellers and Edisons and other wealthy people wielded their unlimitted wealth so ruthlessly that it resulted in the trade union movement, anti-trust legislation, and other reforms. Laisez faire capitalism, capitalism with no limits, was stopped.

Well, slowed down because it's been on the rise again since Reagan and it's become as pernicious as before. Obamacare is hobbled because he had to bend a knee to insurance companies. The Great Recession produced barely any reforms because the wealthy would not allow it. Our society is again brutally dominated by wealthy people and their corporations.

And so, sex workers pummeled by the technology that ruined the pornography business found a new way to make a living and have a decent life. And so, a cadre of corporations said, "We don't like that," and took it away.

Did you have any say in it? According to this article, the 'free' market said it was a good thing. According to studies, almost all of us use porn. But, the corporations do not like it so and their rules are enforceable while yours are not.

I do not know what the solution is because their power is so entrenched. Violent revolution honestly seems like the only possibility except that they control the security apparatus. Troops in Portland last summer were there at the behest of the rich people.

It requires some thinking, though. The future of freedom in America, well, really, the world, is bleak if we are limited to only doing things that are in the interest, religiously or economically, of the wealthy and their corporations.

I still don't really know who I am

I do not believe I would ever have done anything that I thought might possibly hurt her feelings but I wonder what I would have done had I scrolled to her fourth Tinder picture to see her prosthetic. Would I have considered it disqualifying?, unattractive?, attractive?, too much potential hassle?

The closest I have ever come to disability is a woman I hooked up with a few times in college who had a foot maimed by a lawnmower as a child. Except for a small limp, you'd never notice anything if her shoes were on. I've never known anyone (let alone had a relationship) with a larger disability.

This article makes me wonder what I would have thought if I had. It makes me wonder what I should have thought. Certainly a missing leg is a defining aspect of her life. I can't imagine that it is unreasonable for it to matter to me if I was considering a relationship. But I'm not sure what response it should inspire.

It's easy for me (in my imagination) to think that, if I found her attractive in other ways, I would not care about a missing leg. But that begs the question of how I would respond to other things. Would a missing arm be diffierent? How about a wheelchair? How about the problem Elephant Man had? Mental affliction? How serious could I tolerate if the person otherwise appealed?

I know I can be generous about disability to some extent. Debbie has physical issues that require noticeable extra effort on my part, even an adjustment in the expectations I have for my life that might be similar to those required by this author's missing leg. But what would I think if I were young and had my whole life ahead of me?

And it makes me wonder what I think about the life of a disabled person. I know that when I think about the life of Joseph Merrick (the Elephant Man had a name, an identity, a life, ambitions, desires, quirks and foibles), I feel a terrible sympathy over the loneliness he must have suffered and think about what obligation decent people owe.

As I write this, I feel a little bit sad that I have missed out on knowing the experience and perspective of a friend whose life is different in this way. I don't know whether I would reach out for a date with this woman but hope I would.

I feel like I want to cry

Browsing twitter today, I ran into this thread. I ended up spending most of an hour aghast. The insane amount of stories of girls being hassled, groped, embarrassed, betrayed, made fearful, is awful.

The harassment of women is universal and endless. If you think American society is way better than, say, Saudi Arabia, think again.

I feel like the testimonials here are a resource that should not be lost. I know harassment is a problem. I even know it is common. Reading this changed me. It is way worse than I knew. Without this, I would have never understood as I feel do now.

Something has to change. #metoo

I feel like I should also say, Trigger Warning. Whether you are a man or a women, this will make you feel bad.

It is Important to Brush Your Dog's Teeth

I have had dogs all my life. They all had breath with a stench that was disgusting as they got older. The stench is an indication of decay and huge amounts of bacterial activity. Young dogs haven’t accumulated enough plaque yet to seem unhealthy. Without teeth cleaning, they will eventually have problems.

Oral hygiene problems are a huge health issue for dogs. Not only do most dogs lose teeth and often have abscesses and other direct oral health problems but bad teeth can cause heart and other problems. Also pain.

Teeth cleaning is good for the dog. It is also good for your wallet. Once your dog gets enough rotten teeth to be in obvious pain, it costs four or five hundred dollars to accomplish the oral surgery to remove them. It is also a fairly serious surgery. Their roots are very deep and require digging into their skull for removal.

My wife brushes our dog Dexter’s teeth every day. It is an excellent bonding moment that they both love. Dexter considers it a highlight and is very insistent if she gets distracted and needs reminding. Even better, his breath is fresh and nice. When he breathes on me, there is no unpleasant odor. If he licks, I never have the sense of repulsion I had with my other dogs thinking about the layer of bacteria being spread on my skin.

We made this video to teach you how to brush your dog's teeth:

People who don't have important economic skills are worthless and deserve shitty food and bad lives

The notion that higher minimum wage discourages hiring is entirely unproven. In plenty of places, employment is up in the years after an increase. In general, a few years later, you cannot see any difference.

This notion is a conservative canard without merit. There are two huge flaws in addition to the superficial inaccuracy. First is the notion that employment at the current minimum wage is something that should be encouraged. Spending forty, fifty or sixty hours a week at an activity that does not provide enough money to support even one person, let alone a family, is a bad thing for everyone except the employer, both society and the worker are worse off.

The worker is deprived of almost everything that people claim to believe makes us human. Time with family, opportunity to learn, fun, self-improvement, child and elder care, exercise, you name it never happens. Add food insecurity, no preventative health care and it is slavery.

Society still has to cover much of the cost of support for that person and his or her family. Minimum wage workers require subsidized health care, subsidized food and subsidized rent. People at that wage level are often forced to engage in criminal activities to supplement their income so that children can eat so society is also required to spend more on policing and social services. And, where there is crime there are gangs and that adds to the social burden, too.

But, corporations win so we stick with the canard. Somehow we are convinced that there are tons of unskilled workers being employed to do things that the business can live without. The theory is that a business will spend large amounts of capital money to automate jobs rather than give more money to poor people. It is a ridiculous idea. Most low wage jobs are not really subject to automation (have you ever seen a robot janitor?) and, of course, the research does not support this idea anyway.

It is another conservative effort to make sure that workers are poor and afraid. Paying them a decent wage will only make them prosperous and unafraid. Better conditions, better benefits, better hours, better lives. The horror!

Paying unskilled labor a decent wage would demonstrate that people have value beyond the value of their work. Americans don't want that. Americans hate poor people.

So don't clothe your moral distaste for those less fortunate in economic theory. Stick with the real reason: People who don't have important economic skills are worthless and deserve shitty food and bad lives.

One Minute's Delay. How We Almost Lost Our Democracy.

One of the very few criticisms I would make about the conduct of Trump’s impeachment trial is that they did not explore the consequences if he had succeeded. Many assert that he wanted to be a dictator but I suspect that most think it hyperbole, much as few realized the level of danger during the insurrection itself.

Until the impeachment trial, I knew it was bad but thought it was knuckleheads and idiots rampaging. Bad stuff might have, I thought, happened but it would have been a riot that got inside a building. Beatings, damage, shouting, ineffectual destruction and inchoate violence.

We now know that there was an intent to murder. “Where are you Nancy” and “Hang Pence” weren’t slogans, they were the intentions of weird psychopaths and trained militia people with a plan.

(Remember video of soldiers moving through the crowd outside the capitol, in a chain, a hand on the tactical vest of the soldier ahead, moving through the crowd with purpose and efficiency.)

Had the reinforced windows of the capitol failed a few seconds earlier, Pelosi and Pence would have been caught and murdered. Doubtless others would have been caught up in a melee. More people would have died.

What was the goal? The first people into the building shouted, “Where are they counting the votes?” They were there to “stop the steal”.

As Donald Trump well knew, there was no way to change the vote of the electoral college. The only way to change the outcome was to decapitate the government apparatus that would bring about the transfer of power. Hence, the death sentence for Pelosi and Pence.

But it would have been even worse. Just killing them would not insure Trump’s success. Unless the Senate was destroyed, it could reconstitute and certify a new president. Enough violence had to be done to prevent them from doing that. Killing, maiming, threatening the rest was also necessary.

According to the security cameras, this result was missed by less than a minute. They barely got the Senators out by the time the Senate chamber was captured by the insurrectionists. If Goodman hadn’t distracted them. If the windows had failed a minute more quickly. If someone had stumbled and slowed the evacuation. It would all be different.

And now, suppose… Pence, Pelosi and, say, ten senators are dead. Trump sends in the troops. The capitol is under military occupation with blood and death everywhere.

The country is enraged and terrified. Hundreds of thousands are on the streets everywhere. Opponents of Trump are outraged and rioting. Proponents are out with their AR-15s ‘fighting antifa’. Violence is universal.

More troops. Nobody disagrees that something has to be done to quell the violence. The Senate cannot certify the election because many are dead and wounded. The rest are shocked and dazed. All are under the control of a military controlled by Donald Trump. For their ‘safety’ they are sequestered.

January 6 comes and goes. So does the next week and no new president is certified. On the run up to the date of inauguration, there is no certified successor.

Biden’s partisans go to court but, our Supreme Court is conservative. Many are inclined to Trump’s authoritarianism. The majority like a very, very literal view of the constitution. It says the Senate must certify and it has not. They make clear that without certification, there can be no new president.

They regret the clear language of the constitution and encourage the Senate to act.

One imagines that the killing focused on those who were responsible for ‘the steal’. Those remaining are both terrified (nothing focuses the mind like watching a bunch of people slaughtered) and self-serving.

Maybe Josh Hawley is the new majority leader, they get back into session. This time the objections to the electors’ decisions in those six states are taken very seriously.

They brave the outrage of the liberals, after all, there are now huge amounts of soldiers under Trump’s command in every large city in the country, and only certify ‘legitimate’ electoral votes, ie, those that support Trump.

This scenario came within a minute of being reality. To say we dodged a bullet is understatement.

After putting Trump into office this way, the left would have taken to arms. We would have had a civil war but the big guns are controlled by an unhinged tyrant and would-be dictator who has already shown his thirst for power has no limits. There is no doubt who would have prevailed.