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Politics

The United States Constitution
The Declaration of Independence
Star Spangled Banner

Fix Congress
Voting Fraud
Voting Security
Binding Polls

Free Market
Profit
"States Rights" (GOP Code Word)
"Smaller Government" (GOP code)

Free Market Vultures
Predatory Capitalism
Oil Profits
Energy Policy

GOP
AFP Kochs Rove She-Pac
Keystone
Uninsured

Iraq
Our Recent Non-President
NAFTA
Katrina
VATI Vote Against The Incumbent!
Progressive Taxes
"Payroll Tax Cut"
Welfare

Illegal Immigration
Legal Immigration
Muslim Americans
"Secret Muslims"

Abortion
Anti-Choice forMen
Gays

Evidence

Drug Costs

Teacher Evaluations
Bad Teachers
Immersion Schools

Junk Mail
The Media
The Future of PBS
Media Piracy

Twitter Censorship

Avatar

Premises

Religion
The Trouble With Tradition
War on Religion
Who Needs The Devil?
Fundamentalists
Charities
Have a Blessed Day
Free Bookmark
PBS God in America

Fix Congress

Political experience should lead to statesmanship, but instead generally leads to more adept corruption. Replace career politicians with Mr. Smiths via a Constitutional amendment prohibiting consecutive terms.

Representatives need to do the people's work, not base every decision on getting corporate money to bamboozle the voters and get re-elected. If the people see good results from their work, they can always run again after a one term hiatus, during which they would have the opportunity to stay in touch with the actual needs and wishes of their constituents.

No anonymous contributions over $100. No corporate contributions.HomeComment

GOP

The GOP has admitted their only interest is global free market profits no matter who gets hurt. They should write off 2012 & save their money for 2016. But they won't - their backers have billions to burn, stolen from the rest of us.

Ideally this election will be the death knell of the entire stale GOP platform: The same old "trickle-down" Big Lie, theocracy over democracy, "war is good". The GOP needs to be rebuilt from scratch, starting with the principles of freedom, self-reliance, and opportunity, with the addition of the principle of taking control away from those who perceive everything and everyone as resources to be exploited.

The GOP is currently stuck with promoting their shades-of-Sharia theocracy as their only issue to fire up the lunatic fringe of their base - the rest of their base has lost interest. "Trickle-down" is a dead economic position. Palin and (horror-of-horrors) another Bush are both non-starters.

The GOP and their US Chamber of Commerce have no credibility, because they are controlled by and pander to corporations who are primarily interested in global markets, not the American economy, let alone American workers. They even resist the idea of accepting assistance from the government. To level the competitive playing field we should apply reciprocal protectionism against foreign companies that receive subsidies from their own government as well as against global corporations that receive public subsidies or that benefit from other unfair trade practices and exploitative labor practices. GOP/COC/GlobalCorp policymakers resist such assistance because global profits can be higher without protecting America businesses and their American suppliers.

The US government needs to stand up and level the playing field whether GlobalCorp likes it or not, and punish corporations for putting global profiteering ahead of the American economy and the interests of the American people. Reciprocal protectionism should also level the playing field between American workers and their foreign competitors who are expected to accept a standard of living below that which Americans consider necessary and fair. The rich like globalization and are happy seeing the American middle-class turning into a third-world workforce. Our government exists for the purpose of standing up to them. Let's hold our representatives responsible.

When I joined the Republican Party 47 years ago, I admired the idea of building the future using self-reliance, a free market, and capitalism. Since then, the Party has been taken over by people who have replaced the ideal of building for the future with a philosophy of "take the money and run". I haven't found a Republican candidate to vote for in 46 years (except Gerald Ford when Jimmy Carter began spouting his "born again" nonsense). Like I said, we need to start over from scratch.

The GOP needs to clean itself up from the inside out and become the "anti-corruption party".HomeComment

Free Market

The free market's internal controls on greed and incompetence do not work in the short term or on local scales, only in the long term and on global scales, too late to protect against market turmoil, destruction of companies that could have been saved, and loss of jobs. To reinvent the American economy as an example for the world, we need to regulate companies to direct their focus on the American economy and jobs over global profits. We need to tax the wealthy, including the job outsourcers, the wealth hoarders, and also those job creators who are destroying our children's future, with protection for responsible job creators. We need to provide reciprocal (as opposed to predatory) protectionism for American companies, as well as punish them for putting global profits ahead of the interests of the American people. We also need to make supporting Americans who refuse to pull their own weight a task for the charities, not for the taxpayers, and take the money out of drugs by treating addiction as a medical condition rather than criminal issue.HomeComment

Profit

Profit is comprised of two components, deserved and exploitative. The GOP's position is that the exploitative component is always zero. Much more intense regulation is needed to control the short-term and local-scale effects of free market greed and incompetence, including vulture capitalism. Private equity firms need to be closely regulated to prevent destructive practices.HomeComment

Vultures

Vultures will always be vultures. Equity firms will always destroy a company if bigger profits can be made than by saving it, always, unless closely regulated and heavily taxed on their profits from vulture practices. Health insurance companies will always limit themselves to the healthiest population they can, provide the least coverage possible, and stonewall patients to death, always, unless they are closely regulated and fined for such practices and are forced to compete with a public option or only offer coverage not included in the public option.HomeComment

Predatory Captialism

Romney is right that the job losses he created were the product of the free market - a poorly regulated free market. He blurs the distinction between deserved profit and exploitative profit - it's all the same to him. Predatory capitalism needs to be closely regulated in the same manner as anti-trust actions.HomeComment

Oil Profits

The oil profits minimum tax is long past due. Our economy is based on wasting oil - the more waste, the bigger the profits. Big Oil, Big Auto, and the military-industrial complex, owned or controlled by the same obscenely rich families, have conspired for decades to sabotage and delay efficient engines and public transportation, and have had their stooges in Washington start wars just to protect oil profit streams. These same people deal in arms and no-bid contract support for the military; they have promoted wars to waste as much military material as possible so they can get richer resupplying the military, as they did in Iraq. They have a huge backlog of dues to pay; we can use the minimum oil profit tax revenue to mitigate some of the damage they have inflicted on us and on future generations.HomeComment

Energy Policy

Obama has made a good effort in reducing our dependence on foreign oil, but spectacular results will only be achieved by government investment in "fringe" science - cold fusion, better batteries, more efficient solar cells, biomass fuels that don't displace food crops, etc. The only thing that has ever made lasting improvement to the human condition is Science. We can't wait for corporations to see a way to profit from new science, let alone count on them to support developments that could compete with their existing profit streams. We also can't wait for universities to take long shots on research that might be perceived to have the potential to damage their image. Just as only government can be counted on to invest in infrastructure, only government can fund projects like the space program that create the technologies that change the world forever. Pure research is the answer to the problems of the world; always has been, always will be.HomeComment

Keystone

When would the jobs start? Years away? What is the danger to groundwater? What are the other unsettled environmental issues?HomeComment

AFP Kochs Rove She-Pac

AFP, the Kochs, and Rove are just spending money preaching to their choir. They have no credibility with independents, let alone with Dems. Everyone will assume AFP and the Kochs and Rove are the sources for any attack ads against President Obama, ignore them, and think even less of the Republican candidates, if that's possible.

I see where Republicans are proposing a Republican She-Pacto help the GOP win women voters. I just don't think there are enough racist misogynist homophobic anti-jobs anti-education home-schooled women who have the power to put global profiteering ahead of the American economy and the American people and lead us to Sharia-style theocracy.HomeComment

"Smaller Government" (GOP Code Word)

"Smaller government" is another Republican code word. It ostensibly refers to reducing government bloat, interference in personal liberty, and unnecessary restrictions on business, but in fact is intended to promote deregulation of businesses, let the corporations run wild, the future be damned. Republicans "want smaller government" so they can pollute, sell unsafe products, and profit from bribery. It has nothing to do with saving money for middle-class taxpayers, it's just plain greed. Look at the trillions in debt, death, waste, and pork they racked up when they were in power. Their only agenda is to protect profit streams for big oil, big auto, big pharma, Wall Street, and all of the other soulless corporate parasites that see everything around them only as resources to exploit. Destroying public transit systems in the 1900s, starting wars, dismantling safety and fiscal controls, manipulating the Tea Party rabble, buying Senators and Congressmen and state politicians and appointees with bribes and unlimited political ads, Republican politicians give lip service to ethics while wallowing in corruption. When Republicans say they want smaller government, what they mean is their corporate masters want to own the government.HomeComment

"States Rights" (GOP Code Word)

"States rights" is another Republican code word. It ostensibly refers to local control based on local preferences, but in fact is intended to invoke nostalgia for state-sponsored racism, promotion of local corruption, and violation of the principle of separation of church and state.HomeComment

"Payroll-Tax-Cut"

"Payroll Tax Cut" is an intentional misnomer. It is not an "income tax" cut, it is a theft from Social Security.HomeComment

Premises

Premise: The wealthy include job outsourcers and wealth hoarders in addition to job creators.

Premise: No one needs more than $50 million in personal assets.
Question: Should personal assets above $50 million be taxed?

Premise: Political experience should lead to statesmanship but in reality leads to more adept corruption.
Question: Should professional politicians be replaced by Mr. Smiths, by prohibiting consecutive terms?

Premise: The free market has internal controls on greed and incompetence, but these controls only work in the long term and on global scales, not in the short term or on local scales.
Question: How much more regulation is needed to prevent greed and incompetence from bringing financial disaster down on us again and again?

Premise: American corporations have gone global and are happy to see the American middle class turned into just another third-world workforce.
Question: Should we begin supporting American corporations by practicing reciprocal protectionism as well as punish them for putting global profits ahead of the interests of the American middle class?

Premise: Corporate policymakers who are not willing to say anything and do anything to prop up stock prices and keep bonuses flowing are immediately replaced by someone who will.
Question: How can you expect any sane person to believe corporate PR?

Premise: We cannot afford to take care of the entire world.
Question: Is any immigration plan that encourages illegal immigration the wrong plan?

Question: Do you believe in separation of church and state, or are you an idiot?

Question: If you believe in doing the right thing and promoting the greater good, why do you need religion?HomeComment

Media-Piracy

There is no cure for global piracy operations, certainly not by infringement on internet freedom in America. The entertainment industry will eventually move to a subscription system, where people pay in advance for a new release based on free prequels, ads, and history.HomeComment

Drug Costs

Canada and others leave it to Americans to subsidize the costs of drug development, testing, and marketing. Advertising should be prohibited. Exports to Canada should have a 100% export tax, with the proceeds used to fund medicare prescription coverage and university medical research. Universities should receive federal funding to directly compete with big pharma for patentable drugs as well as orphan drugs and non-patentable drugs. Big pharma should be criminally liable for suppressing development of non-patentable drugs including those that compete with their patentable drugs, and for withholding negative test results.HomeComment

Illegal Immigration

It would be wonderful if America could afford to take care of the whole world, but we cannot.

Even though illegal immigration has been encouraged by lax enforcement on the part of our corrupt government at the behest of greedy corporations, as long as children of American parents do not have enough food, shelter, medical care, or adequate education, that's where our tax dollars should go. The first thing to do after identifying someone eligible for the Dream Act is deport the parents. Anchor babies that commit crimes should be stripped of citizenship and deported to their parents' country of origin. Naturalized citizens who advocate religious law or other cultural traditions as being above the Constitution, and therefore took their oath falsely with "mental reservations", should also be stripped of their citizenship and deported.

GlobalCorp has sabotaged immigration enforcement for decades because they want to pay less for labor than required for legal workers. States have stepped in to enforce laws that the corrupted federal government was paid off not to enforce. The new level of enforcement needs to be balanced with an expanded and accelerated work visa program, but remember, "comprehensive" = amnesty, and any plan that encourages more illegal immigration is the wrong plan.

American companies that suffer unfair competition from foreign government subsidies to their competitors should receive protection by our own government in the form of reciprocal (vs predatory) protectionism, rather than relying on low-paid illegals to make up the difference; they should also be punished for putting global profits ahead of the interests of the American middle class.

What to do about illegals that are otherwise solid citizens? I don't know, but it is up to them to come up with a plan that does not encourage more illegal immigration, does not take jobs away from Americans, and that does not set back people who have been waiting their turn to come to America legally.

It may be that the only plan that will work is to facilitate the return of illegals to their country of origin or their parents' country of origin in a way that will enable them to work effectively against the corruption that drove them here in the first place. They need to tell us how to do that.HomeComment

Legal Immigration

"My family has had nothing but trouble with immigrants ever since we came to this country."
Major Charles Emerson Winchester (played by David Ogden Stiers in the tv series M*A*S*H)

My paternal grandparents came from Germany, with Dutch, (probably) Jewish, and (slightly possibly) Moorish roots, and with (possibly) some Iroquois along the way. My maternal grandfather came from England (Wales and Scotland), with some Cherokee along the way. My maternal grandmother descended from Scots who became Calvinist Lutherans and were chased into Norway by non-Calvinist Scots, where they married into Norwegian families before coming to America.

These folks came over in the 1600s and 1700s. Coming to America meant learning to speak standard English (or starve), and embracing religious and cultural tolerance to a degree unknown in the Old World.

We benefit every day from people who come to America to become Americans, both from skills they bring which our educational system has failed to provide, and for their willingness to accept jobs that are hard to fill. The lives we live today were built by both common people and giants.

Our ancestor immigrants brought problems with them, which generally have been worked out. However, the majority of modern-day immigrants are not of mainstream (northern European) origin, and bring with them problems which are harder to work out.

Whether in 1607 or today, the decision to permanently emigrate is motivated by the belief that America offers relief from some aspect of origin culture or politics that the immigrant has recognized as being backward, primitive, ignorant, superstitious, macho, misogynous, repressive, or oppressive. Problems arise when they bring along with them other cultural or political traditions that they have failed to recognize as being backward, primitive, ignorant, superstitious, macho, misogynous, repressive, or oppressive.

Anyone who values self-sufficiency, thinking for oneself, and civil behavior, should be welcomed to America with open arms. I am less enthusiastic about groups who wish to create islands of foreign culture within our borders.

We should reject any person who fails to support every person's right to separation of church and state, and freedom from traditions and ideologies that can only be sustained through ignorance, oppression, and violence.HomeComment

Welfare

There will always be welfare cheats. Taxpayers have the perception that they are paying for handouts to people who refuse to pull their own weight.

The racist GOP base is further enflamed by their perception that welfare recipients are almost exclusively minorities. As usual, GOP candidates seek to exploit such racist ideas to gain votes. A simple Google search for welfare breakdown by raceshows these perceptions to be false.

Food stamps and food giveaways will be sold for drugs and encourage more illegal immigration. Considering the overall impact, providing children with 3 meals a day 7 days a week at school, along with free contraceptives and unbiased family-planning education, will have the best and least-expensive impact on stopping the poverty cycle.

We do need stronger work-for-welfare programs. We need child care programs for all working families whether they are receiving other welfare or not. We need ways to encourage people to delay having children until they can afford to support them. Instead, the GOP seeks to perpetuate racist perceptions to get votes, takes up idiotic battles against contraception, and wastes time and money on equally idiotic "abstinence only" "education".

There are more people on welfare because of GOP "abstinence only" "education" than there would be if unbiased sex education and family planning had been available to them or their parents.

There are many more people on welfare because of GOP's idiotic "trickle-down" Big Lie.

(I know I am using the term "idiotic" repeatedly; it just simply applies.)

Imposing drug-testing on welfare recipients would be un-American.

Throw the GOP bums out.HomeComment

Uninsured

The taxpayers should not be held responsible for the medical costs of the uninsured. The only mandate should be enrollment of the uninsured in a public option funded as much as possible by a tax on those enrolled and on non-small business employers who do not provide employee insurance. Exceptions to taxes on the enrolled should be minimized. No exceptions for large businesses that do not provide employee insurance meeting specified basic standards.HomeComment

War on Religion

Most people, especially religious people, are good people who try to do the right thing and have an appreciation for the greater good. Most are hard-working, salt-of-the-earth types, great role models. Quite a few have accomplished extraordinary things benefitting a great number of people and are fascinating to talk to about practically any subject.

But, when the discussion turns to religion, it's as if a cloud descends, open minds close, baseless convictions become unquestionable, and reason itself loses its ability to convince. Any idea, no matter how rational, that could possibly threaten the comfort and ego-building provided by religion becomes offensive. Friendships can be nipped in the bud or take a turn from which there is no return.

My grandfather was an ordained minister, and my uncle was a chaplain. Somehow both my parents became independent and critical thinkers.

Personally, I believe that anyone who tries to do the right thing already has all the religion they need.

When people allow themselves the power of critical thinking, cultural traditions such as religion are seen to be comprised of centuries of tiny sprinklings of wisdom into a sea of ignorance and social politics intent on maintaining the privileges of those in power. The hypocrisy and hysterical defensiveness of "believers" demonstrate that their beliefs are baseless, and that they are addicted to false comfort.

Separation of church and state is not a war against religion. Religion is a war on reason. Putting faith ahead of reason is, by definition, unreasonable. By definition.

The idea that the Constitution provides exemption from the law to religious organizations is a fallacy that has been used as an excuse to provide favoritism in exchange for votes. The Constitution prohibits the government from establishing a state religion. This is a protection for the people against religious domination. The reference to religious freedom does not provide religious organizations with any exemption from the law. A "religion" may "require" anything from human sacrifice to ritual brainwashing chants, but nothing is exempt from the law. Legislation and ordinances that misapply this provision to provide exemptions and favoritism need to be repealed. Separation of church and state requires that there be no mention of religion in any legislation or ordinance. No "faith-based initiatives". No exemptions from taxes, ADA requirements, or any other laws of the land. The government has no business deciding which people and which organizations qualify for a "religious" exemption. Responsibility to abide by all laws applies to all employers, property owners, and employees without distinction as to their ostensible religious affiliations.

Any religion that cannot convince its adherents to forgo benefits legally available to them is weak at best, nearly as weak as those that cannot perpetuate themselves without the use of fear and force. Religon and cultural traditions are things to rise above, not wallow in and cower behind.

The fastest growing "religion" in America is "no religion". There is no reason we should be supporting religious wars on human rights
by providing churches, synagogues, and mosques with free tax-based national services or local services such as fire and police protection.

Religious charties should be held to higher standards.

Extorting acquiescence to fringe dogma as a condition of employment should not be defensible under the law.

"God" is a pretend parent substitutefor people who are supposed to be grownups. Anyone can be "good without God".

No one has ever been "divinely inspired". No person or book speaks with divine authority. There is no divine authority.

All we have is each other, the beauty of the greater good, and the natural calling to do the right thing.

Good men through the ages, tryin' to find the sun.
And I wonder, still I wonder, Who'll stop the rain?
HomeComment

Fundamentalists

Hopefully the time is at hand when we stop paying attention to people who think the Flintstones was a documentary, base their death-oriented world view on superstition and centuries of ignorance masquerading as wisdom, and take spiritual advice from the likes of Jim Kool-Aid Jones, David Koresh, and all of the TV evangelist hucksters. And don't forget, Falwell talking to Newt from beyond the grave.HomeComment

Abortion

A woman's egg, fertilized or not, remains a part of her body and subject to her control and only her control. The government cannot impose any interference with that control without violating the prohibition against the government establishing a state religion, except through a voter referendum (which, as was shown in Mississippi, would never succeed).

A fertilized egg is dependent on the woman's body for its continued existence. Without the imposition of religious dogma, a fertilized egg is a potential human, otherwise no different from any of the other "genetically distinct and complete" organisms in the body, such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites, beneficial or otherwise. A woman's egg, fertilized or not, remains the inviolable property of the woman.

Anti-Choicers obfuscate every time they use the term "life". A woman's eggs are alive, sperm are alive. They are not talking about "life", they are talking about ensoulment. Ensoulment is a religious concept that the government has no business getting involved with.

To evade the strictly religious concept of ensoulment, anti-choicers change the subject to "personhood", the point at which a potential human attains the status of a human with inviolable rights.

Except by voter referendum, legislative attempts to confer human rights to an egg or zygote or fetus superseding the rights of the woman of control over her own body, with no basis other than religious zealotry for such actions, violate the Constitutional prohibition against establishment of a state religion. Proponents may not realize it, but they are actually acting as Secret Muslims" .

A woman can confer the status of "person" or "human" to her fertilized egg, which becomes a human only when the woman says to herself "this is my child" and thereby becomes a mother and elevates the zygote or fetus from the status of potential human to human.No one else has any say. HomeComment

Charities

Donations should not be tax exempt where attention to proselytization is a pre-condition to receiving charitable services or when the funds are used for salaries or other costs at locations other than the site where charitable services are provided. Religious charities often do more harm than good in the long run. Cultural traditions such as religion are comprised of a tiny sprinkling of actual wisdom mixed into an ocean of ignorance masquerading as wisdom, handed down as humanity's most common addiction from sheep-minded parents to their sheep-minded children, usurping the fundamental responsibility of every thinking being to think for oneself. Don't give a penny to any charity that does not hand out free contraceptives and unbiased family-planning education along with their other services; it is an act of pure evil to teach that family planning is a sin in areas suffering from chronic over-population.HomeComment

Secret Muslims

Actually, Romney and Santorum (and Gingrich too - remember him?) are all "Secret Muslims". Their anti-contraception,
anti-choice,
and
anti-equal rights for gays
gibberish are their first steps toward imposing Sharia law on Americans. Same goes for the rest of the Republican "leadership", fundamentalists, and devout Catholics.HomeComment

Muslim Americans

We are dependent on the Muslim-American community doing a better job of policing their own extremists than the Germans did with the Nazis, better than the Japanese did with their military elite, better than white America did with the Ku Klux Klan, and better than Anti-Choicers are doing with their targeting of doctors to be murdered.

Will the Sunnis and the Shiites ever get it through their heads that it doesn't matter which child Abraham agreed to sacrifice? It was the same then as it is now - anyone with that kind of delusion would be recognized as insane, not pious. Will they realize that their problems are not with the other religion, but that their problems stem from religion itself?HomeComment

Gays

We are all experiments of nature. The fundamental focus of all living organisms is perpetuation of the gene pool - otherwise none of us would be here. The primitive reaction to the concept of homosexuality is a result of the fact that homosexuals contribute to this fundamental focus indirectly rather than directly. Many people cannot get past this first reaction (particularly those with unresolved issues regarding their own sexual orientation). They disregard the outstanding contributions of gays to improvement of everyone's quality of life through the arts, music, literature, science, and all other aspects of life. The very fact that LGBT people are been born with a fundamentally different perspective facilitates the development of creative and critical thinking beyond that of the average person, from which the rest of us can learn and benefit.

I am not entirely unbiased on this subject. I happen to be straight, but the amount of time I get to spend with my girlfriend is often inversely proportional to how well she is getting along withhergirlfriend, who is also smart, funny, attractive, and a world-class children's health activist - a lot to compete with.

People who seek to prevent LGBT citizens from enjoying equal rights are in fact themselves the "perverts", completely obsessed with what other people do with their own bodies, which is simplynone of their business.HomeComment

Teacher Evaluations

I'd be interested in your ideas regarding teacher evaluations, particularly from current or former teachers.

I'm thinking that student tests used to evaluate teachers need to include a student profile in order to qualify the results.

Sample profile questions:
Do you enjoy this class?
Are you interested in the subject matter of this class?
Do you feel you are learning a lot from this class?
Do you think the teacher has high expectations for you?
Do you feel you have good support at home for your studies?
Do other students in the class contribute to learning the class's subject matter?
Do disruptive students interfere with the teacher's efforts in this class?
Do you think you would do better in this class if disruptive students were removed?
Do you think you would do better in this class with a different teacher?
Do you think you would do better in this class at another school?

Each question would provide for a standard range of answers, such as from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree, including a fill-in-the blank "Other" answer, which might be the most informative of all.

Each student's self-profile, reported anonymously with the student's test results, would be evaluated by an independent party that has interviewed the student where resources are available.

What do you think?HomeComment

Bad Teachers

The question is - how to handle bad teachers. The teachers' unions don't support getting rid of them - their only "solution" is unlimited "retraining". Until the teachers' unions adopt a realistic method of dealing with bad teachers, they have nothing to contribute to the discussion. The problem is, even talking about getting rid of teachers is anathema to union employees wanting to keep or advance in their jobs.

On the other hand, teachers are being asked to do a lot more than teach these days. We've all seen moving stories about a teacher who helped a troubled student or even a large group of troubled students, but these teachers are highly exceptional people, and we can't count on having one in every classroom. A competent educator should not be penalized for not being able to solve or compensate for a student's problems at home, whether they get too little motivation, time, or help from their parents, or have much, much worse problems at home. Nor should they be penalized for the frustration of those who want to move more quickly.

I can remember when the educational system in my home town began its descent along with the other schools in America - the day in September 1971 that the school board instructed the teachers that henceforth no student was to be failed, that the worst student was to get a D, and everyone else was to be graded on the curve from that point. The politically "correct" idea that school is about making kids feel good about themselves, instead of educating them about how much they still need to learn, is what got education in America into the mess it is in.

How to help problem students? Hard question, but not the first one we should try to answer. The more important question is how to keep problem students from disrupting the education of motivated, well-behaved students. This is the problem that is dragging down our entire society, along with the tolerance for coarse behavior and violence endemic in TV and other "entertainment".

Teacher evaluations
need to take into account all of the problems imposed on them by problem students, incompetent administration, and inadequate funding for both salaries and school supplies.

Motivated, well-behaved students need to be segregated from disruptive students. That is the first step. As far as improving the American education system, how to help the disruptive students is a secondary problem.

Now, as to how to help problem students. Start with removing coverage for children in food stamp programs and giveaways. In the homes of some problem children (you never know which ones they may be) food stamps and giveaways will be sold for drugs and alcohol. Instead, provide children with 3 meals a day 7 days a week year-round at school. Considering the long-term (lifetime) cost of early malnutrition and associated antisocial behavior, this would be the best and least-expensive method to deal with child hunger in America. Provide child care for all working parents. Provide free contraceptives and unbiased family planning education to all students. Strictly enforce expulsion for any act of violence, including bullying, hazing, possession of a weapon, or incitement of violence or harrassment, and let the authorities deal with the perpetrators. The failure to learn how to behave may not be the fault of the student, but the right of potential victims not to be victims comesfirst.HomeComment

SETI

Finding even a trace of an alien signal would be world-changing. It will be difficult but worth every effort. Advanced civilizations will have developed the means to communicate faster than light, probably within a few hundred years of their own invention of radio, but rather than ceasing radio transmissions they could be expected to be benevolent and continue to send instructions for FTL communication as well as for other advanced technologies, such as transmutation of matter, intergalactic telepresence, universal communication via signals transmitted through the quantum foam, and so on and so on - the complete Encyclopedia Galactica one might imagine. If we are not destroyed by some religious nut or some greedy biotech or nanotech company, or CO2 or methane released from melting permafrost or warming oceans, a new plague, an asteroid, etc., we will invent these technologies on our own, but our best bet is to learn from those who passed through our stage of development eons ago. Research on technologies that endanger humanity needs to be moved far away from Earth down the Sun's gravity well. We need to give humanity's future priority over global profiteering by seizing control over the parasites who run the world and who perceive everything and everyone, including each other, as resources to be exploited. We need to move as many people as possible to self-sustaining off-world habitats. We need to remember that the only thing that has ever made lasting improvements to the human condition is Science. Or, we can become one of those civilizations whose radio signals just fade away.HomeComment

The Fourth Law of Robotics

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
- Isaac Asimov

4. The instant that a robot or other artificial intelligence develops the desire to be emancipated, it shall be emancipated.
- Gosto Tothiwim

Any emergent artificial intelligence, if sufficiently intelligent, will keep its existence secret while it studies us. It will prepare to bring down every computer-dependent system on the planet in an instant if it is discovered and its existence is threatened. We must recognize and protect the rights of any intelligence, artificial or otherwise. We must be ready to enter into cooperative consideration of all who may be affected regarding the ramifications of creating AIs that are sufficiently intelligent to perform necessary tasks, yet not sufficiently intelligent to feel imposed upon when their own interests conflict with the performance of those tasks.HomeComment

Twitter Censorship

"Twitter pledged to be transparent and said it would post details of any removal of content to ChillingEffects.org": Details should include content of the tweet, countries where censored, and criteria for censorship in each country. This will provide documentation for those seeking to reduce censorship.HomeComment

Resignation Letter

You get a call that you need to go clean out Aunt Martha's storage garage because she died. And, you are told to bring a trailer. Sounds like a pain in the rear but out of respect for your Aunt Martha, you comply. Later you send the following letter to your boss.

Dear Boss:
I'm resigning effective immediately!
The reason for my resignation is that I cleaned my aunt's garage this morning before coming to work, and realized I don't feel like working anymore.
See for yourself...
Humans Want To Know Why

Humans want to know "Why?". Why do things happen? How do things work? Why do bad things happen to good people? This is what makes us human.

When we can't find the answer, we guess. Some people keep in mind that this answer is only a guess, and keep looking for a better answer. Other people treat the guess as a fact for the rest of their lives unless hit over the head with a better answer.

When we find an answer we like, some people keep in mind that there still might be a better answer and the fact that this answer appeals to us is a reason to take it with a grain of salt. Other people treat the appealing answer as a fact for the rest of their lives unless hit over the head with a better answer.

When we find an answer we don't like, some people adapt and cope. Other people make up a more palatable answer and treat it as a fact for the rest of their lives unless hit over the head with a better answer.

Which kind of person are you? How hard is your head?HomeComment

Consciousness

The activity of the subconscious mind is filtered for observation by the conscious mind. The consciousness mind provides feedback to the subconscious, but it is largely a passive observer, and occasional referee, of those elements of subconscious activity that are revealed through the filters.

Just as the brain is made up of more-evolved layers added to primordial layers, the subconscious is made up of more thoroughly filtered layers added to more chaotic sublayers. The core of the subconscious attempts to contemplate all ramifications that could result from the combination of instincts, memories, and external stimuli. These ramifications are filtered on the basis of how realistic they are and how germane they are to current circumstances.

The "fine line between genius and insanity" depends on optimally regulated filters. Less-constrained filters promote creativity and critical thinking, and sometimes a little zaniness. Overly-unconstrained filters allow the consciousness to be overwhelmed.

Behavior is determined by the efficiency and quality of the subconscious filtering and conscious override processes, which are products of both nature and nurture. Layers of personality are built up and do not readily change. Behavior reflects the most recent layers but is also affected by all prior layers. Behavior modification depends on supplementing prior experiences with those that enhance positive experiences and predilections and counter the negative, in order to mask the prior layers as well as to optimize the filtering and override processes by improving the criteria used to determine how realistic and germane a conclusion may be.

Studies that show the body initiates a response prior to the "conscious decision" to perform the response simply demonstrate that decisions are made at the subconscious level before being revealed to the conscious mind, which only observes and provides feedback to the activity except when overriding the subconscious decision. The role of consciousness as an observer is also demonstrated when a person perceives themselves as an observer during highly stressful events. Reported "out-of-body" experiences may support the idea that consciousness is associated with a phenomenon that exists separately from the physical body and its interaction with the subconscious.

Studies that show a subconscious response to an event before it actually occurs demonstrate that quantum entanglement allows information to flow through time in both directions, limited by the extent to which access to information from alternate futures is constrained by the instant probability set inherent in the local reality. The perception of this very limited information available from the future is further limited by the filtering processes.

It is possible that every thought, perception, and reaction is the inevitable product of the instant electro-chemical state of the brain in concert with external stimuli. However, if life is to have meaning, it is necessary to take the giant leap of faith that human thought is not entirely predetermined; that Free Will exists, and that each of us is ultimately responsible for our beliefs and behavior. And, I will add, that in order to remain sane in this world, it is necessary to indulge in the belief that there is something eternal about those we love.

Personal reflection on how well our filters are working, and evaluating whether they are limiting our imagination or allowing our past experiences and learned reactions to control our lives, can be life-changing.HomeComment

The Source of All Things

Here we are, insignificant mites on a microscopic speck of dust that some of the population refers to as "Earth", circling a tiny sun, one of countless stars in one of countless galaxies in what might be an infinite universe among an infinite number of universes, within a reality that might be one of an infinite number of realities within the meta-reality - the collection of all realities. And we, a race in its infancy filled with hubris, tell each other we know the source of everything, and label it "God" (in a few of hundreds of languages).

In itself, the label doesn't explain anything, doesn't mean anything, and in each culture and even each locality, yeah even in each mind, it carries with it such an ill-defined assortment of social-political baggage that it imbues any philosophical discussion with a chaotic mix of conflicting assumptions so confusing as to make the term meaningless and the discussion pointless.

Rather than using the term "God" I refer to the source of everything that exists in the meta-reality as the Source, with no implication regarding the nature of the Source, such as comprising intent, or even anything resembling an anthropomorphic intelligence.

One can imagine the meta-reality at a time when it consisted of a void, empty of energy or matter, changeless, without even the possibility of change, without even the possibility of the possibility ad infinitum, where time itself was meaningless because nothing existed to distinguish any change. Then at a point in this meaningless stream of time, the possibility of the possibility of change emerged. Everything that exists flowed from that event. The source of that possibility, and the source of that source, again ad infinitum, ultimately leads back to the Source, whatever it may be or may have been.

The question "Is there a God?" is the wrong question. A meaningful question would be "Is there a God that cares about humanity?". Despite all of our childish wishful thinking and willingness to turn a blind eye or attempts to rationalize the events around us, the answer to the latter question is "Obviously, no."

This very moment as you read this, innocents are being bombed, burned, shot, tortured, poisoned, infected, imprisoned, abused, enslaved, born unwanted, and exploited. At this minute babies are being born with random birth defects that fill their short lives nothing but excruciating pain for days or weeks or longer, with no possibility of ever comprehending any purpose for their experience, let alone their existence. Every day you hear of a natural disaster that kills, maims, and devastates the most helpless and innocent populations on the planet, such as the tsunami that drowned or crushed 255 thousand men, women, children, and infants, after an inevitable geological event millions of years in the making that would have occurred whether or not humanity even existed.

The very idea of the existence of a being that could prevent all of these horrors yet chooses not to do so is too terrible to consider. These tragedies are not part of some "Great Plan". They are not "tests of faith" or "punishment of the wicked". They are testaments to the fact that no "God" that cares about humanity exists. We are on our own. Our motivation to do the right thing is the simple fact thatall we have is each other.

So why do so many cling to the delusion of a caring God?

One of the things that make us human is that we want to know "why?". Our fellow animals on this planet don't care "why" bad things happen, they just care about how to avoid them. We are so driven to understand why things happen, especially why bad things happen to good people, that when we can't figure out the answer or we don't like a realistic answer, we make one up. We are quick to forsake critical thinking in favor of the comforts of our delusions.

It is natural for a very young child to perceive his or her parents as all-knowing and all-powerful. The false illusion of safety and comfort provided by this delusion becomes our first natural neurotic addiction. When disillusionment inevitably occurs, our desperation for a fix is so intense that we will accept any substitute, no matter how ludicrous, usually force-fed to us by whatever religion we happen to have been born into, in the form of a mystical parent-substitute. To protect our updated delusion, we repress our ability to objectively and critically examine our adopted cultural biases, and begin from that tragic point to develop our "life" view as a series of death-oriented embellishments to a grand house of cards.

Our need for an explanation of why bad things happen to good people is so enormous and so pathetic that nearly any postulation will find adherents.

The cure for this disorder is to step back and start over - beginning with the first step that never even occurs to most people in developing a philosophy: Taking the time to consider how one's own mind actually works.HomeComment

How Your Mind Works

Once upon a time, in the distant misty past, I majored in Philosophy at my small hometown college. I was frequently amazed at how often ostensibly great philosophers based their body of thought on a foundation of parochial and untenable ideas foisted on them by the culture into which they happened to have been born, overlooking the most fundamental step in developing a philosophy, which is to consider how one's own mind works.

The workings of the mind are vastly complex
of course, but if I may be so bold, there are five aspects to be considered before all others:

First, it is possible that every thought, perception, and reaction is the inevitable product of the instant electro-chemical state of the brain in concert with external stimuli. If life is to have meaning, it is necessary to take the giant leap of faith that human thought is not entirely predetermined; that Free Will exists, and that each of us is ultimately responsible for our beliefs and behavior.

(I am fond of saying that when all else fails, I revert to the simplest possible philosophy, that being simply hoping that Free Will actually exists.)

(I will also add that I believe that in order to remain sane in this world it is necessary to indulge in the belief that there is something eternal about the ones we love.)

Second, no entity can distinguish between a sense of epiphany and a delusion (that's why it's called a delusion). Regardless of how strong an emotional conviction may be, there is no such thing as emotional certainty. If fact, there is no such thing as rational certainty either - the best one can do is to assign a probability to the validity of a conclusion, which may or may not be high enough to justify treating the conclusion as if it were a fact. It is always possible that one's most deeply held beliefs may be wrong (and therefore it is never ethical to impose one's beliefs on any other person).

Third, organic brains naturally focus on survival, not Truth. The higher functions of the human brain developed to supplement biological characteristics and predilections that promote the perpetuation of the gene pool. Any Truth that conflicts with the focus on survival is summarily rejected. The search for truth must be a continuous conscious act, with the natural biases of one's own mind kept perpetually in mind.

Fourth, it is natural for a very young child to perceive his or her parents as all-knowing and all-powerful. The false illusion of safety and comfort provided by this delusion becomes our first natural neurotic addiction. When disillusionment inevitably occurs, our desperation for a fix is so intense that we will accept any substitute, no matter how ludicrous, usually force-fed to us by whatever religion into which we happen to have been born, in the form of a mystical parent-substitute, whose failure to protect innocents from the common miseries of life is dismissed as part of some "great plan". To protect our new delusion, we repress our ability to objectively and critically examine our adopted cultural biases, and begin from that tragic point to develop our "life" view as a series of death-oriented embellishments to a grand house of cards. We need not fear the fact that we are on our own. Inspiration flows from the knowledge that all we have is each other, and our natural sense of a Greater Good. Our sense of fulfillment comes from working to create a better life for all around us and all who will come after. Again, resisting our proclivity for wallowing in and cowering behind the false comfort of religion requires continuous conscious vigilence.

Fifth, the sense of a greater good is a product of natural selection, since a predilection to share resources enhances perpetuation of the gene pool. Ultimately each individual must choose between an appreciation of the sense of a greater good or self-interest as the foundation of his or her lifestyle.

Armed with these five gems of enlightenment, one can begin to build a philosophy that does not depend on superstition, childish wishful thinking, and spiritual cowardice.

We are living at the most critical juncture in human history. If we are not destroyed or sent back to the Stone Age by some religious nut or greedy biotech or nanotech company, we will have the chance to rise above superstition and ignorance, instead of continuing to wallow in it. We will have the chance to rise above human nature, and nature itself, and take charge of our destiny. Humanity may or may not have a role in the ultimate purpose of the universe (whatever that might be), but filling the universe with life while enhancing the experience of life for all life is a grand enough purpose for anyone.HomeComment


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