Something Dark Did Rise

The ugly side of America woke up and stalked innocent moviegoers. If this isn’t a wake-up call to all the gun supporters in this country, then you have to have a pretty hard heart when it comes to guns and violence.

And please, let’s not blame the movies. That fact the guy selected this movie is obviously highly symbolic, but this vigilantism ain’t Batman’s fault.I’ve already heard it on conservative radio: What they needed in that theater was someone else with a gun. Come on! This is the last situation where another gun would help. This was a theater full of laypeople – families out for a night of entertainment. Even if someone did have a gun, in that difficult environment they would have been just as likely to shoot someone else as the gunman.

A mother finds her son in the chaos.

Imagine you were there – the theater is full – mostly adults, but plenty of teenagers and even some young kids. It’s dark, smoky, the film is blaring. You realize that something’s not right. Someone is shooting. People run and scream. More shots, people bleeding and slumping over. Now, suppose you are carrying a gun. Are you going to ask yourself, “How can I, in a calm manner, so as not to attract the crazy man’s attention, get my firearm and shoot him before he hurts anyone else?” Or are you going to say “Where the fuck are my kids! Get down!”

So if you are still hard-hearted about gun control after this, I want to ask you a question: Do you want to live in a society where anyone can shoot anyone at any time? Because it seems to me that’s exactly where we’re headed.

And even if you still think guns should be readily available, surely you must acknowledge that gunsellers need to do a better job of making sure guys like that asshole aren’t able to get themselves a fucking military arsenal!

Posted in Government, Laws, Movies, Politics, Prejudice, Psychology, Society

Tips to Fix a Slow Computer

So you’ve been using that PC or Mac for a couple of years, and it’s slowed to a crawl. Maybe it even burped one night and erased your collection of 19th Century Death photos.

Here are some simple tips to keep things running.

Keep your cache clear. Fully empty your browser cache manually from time to time. Get rid of the cookies and clear your search history. Most browsers have this function in the Privacy or Security tabs of the Options Menu.

Uninstall Old Programs and Drivers. If you’re not using something anymore, dump it. You can always get it back.

Create A Separate Login for processor-intensive activities. If you do a lot of video editing or gaming, create separate logins just for those functions. You may want to create one just for business applications or one justfbor web surfing. Don’t surf the web much under these logins. This will keep your important programs running smoothly.

Get A New Hard Drive. 2 Terabyte drives are coming into the $100 range. There’s no excuse to not have plenty of backup space. Keeping large video and audio files off your main hard drive will speed up access for programs.

Avoid Anti-Virus Programs and other memory suckers. These processor hogs can kill a good time. Most people don’t surf to suspicious websites very much. The best defense against viruses and trojans is to have a solid backup of your important data, and …

KNOW HOW TO REINSTALL YOUR OPERATING SYSTEM. This is the digital equivalent of changing a flat tire. If you can’t do it, maybe you should go easy on the driving. Reinstalling Windows isn’t really that difficult. I’m sure, now that Apple is using Intel chips, installing the latest MacOS isn’t too much trouble either. The key is getting your programs back, and restoring your data. Take a tour of your computer. Make a list of all the programs you need to reinstall. Don’t forget to print it before you reformat that 500GB drive that’s bursting at the seams. Find your installation disks and note your Product Code.

It’s a process, but it will often restore a sluggish PC back to factory-operating condition.

Posted in Computers, Technology Tagged , , ,

Capitalism Run Amok

What happens when you’ve run out of ways to increase your business? You’ve already raised prices, and raised them again. You’ve laid employees off and forced the remaining ones to take a pay cut. No cuts for executives, though. (The mortgage on the St. Moritz villa is due.) You’ve trimmed the bennies down to nothing. You pinched every penny and squeezed every dime. But, somehow, it’s just not enough.

Why not try arson?

Yes, a couple of intrepid Domino’s Managers burned down the Papa John’s across the street in the hopes of scaring up more business.

But really, isn’t this just the free market deciding? Doesn’t it go to the core of the conservative economic argument? “People should be free to make as much money as they want in any way they see fit.”

We already make tons of laws based solely on the profit motive. Why not allow torching your opponent’s brick-and-mortar? Everything’s digital now anyway.

Then these demolitions could be supervised by properly trained personnel to ensure no collateral damage spreads to people or other property, or that the whole town stinks of tires and skunks for months.

There’s got to be a lot of Fire personnel who would love to make a little cheese on the side. It’d be like privatizing the Fire Department! Another victory for small government conservatives, whatever they are.

“I’d like to report an arson.”

“Well, let’s see. What’s the address? Looks like they got a Safety Certificate, signed off by a licensed Arson Engineer and a licensed Safety Engineer.”

“But-”

“Look, prove it’s personal and not just profit motivated and you might have a case. Otherwise, quite wasting my time. I got real criminals to catch.”

It’s all about the money anyway, right. So if your insurance covers it and you can afford to rebuild – well, all it really cost was some points, right?

Posted in Uncategorized

1776 All Over Again

Economic Injustice. Financial Oppression.

It’s a concept that many people cannot seem to get their heads around. This country suffers under the most dire circumstances to face us since our inception.

Although we all supposed have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in America, where is the freedom for those who fight month after month to keep their rents and mortgages current? To keep the lights on and the water running? How are your free if your primary concern is simply survival?

We are in black darkness and confusion.

The Occupy This! movement aims to identify and codify the nature of those injustices and set up a financial Bill of Rights that will protect every American from economic injustice in the same way the Constitutional Bill of Rights preserves every American’s right to free speech. The logical end to it is a New Declaration of Independence – only this time, instead of the Divine Monarchy, we must declare independence from the Corporate Monarchy.

Some in this country have never faced financial oppression or economic injustice. It’s really not their fault, but, because of this, they have no idea what the rest of us are going through. They have no idea how to fix it because the fundamental problem escapes them.

They are comfortable and they want to stay that way, and sadly, they see the changes that would really help the downtrodden as a threat to their way of life. And that’s true, if, by “way of life,” you mean “using money to keep a running score in life and deride and punish the losers, while granting access to the common standard-of-living to a select few.”

Of course, there’s nothing they suddenly wouldn’t be able to do, except, maybe, own another house in Greece. The rest of us might finally be able to own the one we already live in.

How do you fix America?

Posted in Government, Laws, Philosophy, Politics, Society Tagged , , , ,

How to Save the Economy

So the Feds are rattling their sabers at California’s medical marijuana dispensaries again.

They’re upset that Proposition 215 has been “hijacked” by the profit-motivated. Just how two-faced is our government anyway? Big pharma profits handsomely from the sale of thousands of drugs, most of which are more dangerous than marijuana. Corporate hospitals and insurance companies make money hand over fist. The entire industry profits off the misery of others.

Look, if we’re going to ban things based upon how harmful they are, then let’s face it, marijuana is low on a very long list. It’s below, alcohol, below nicotine, below acetaminophen. Below hundreds  of prescription painkillers. Viagra will make you blind, people! Blind!

It’s finally time for the government to grow some stones, stand up and admit that it made a mistake. Just say it. It’s okay. “We were wrong. Marijuana does not belong on this list of illegal substances. It was a mistake to put it there in the first place” There. Doesn’t that feel better? Think of the taxes! Think of the fees!

Now we can study it’s potential benefits and learn about its real dangers. We can grow industrial hemp. Once, America ran a Hemp for Victory campaign. Again, hemp can save our nation. Industrial hemp makes everything from food, oils and chemicals, to textiles, paper, plastic and fuel. Think of the jobs!

Let’s admit it. The only thing that makes marijuana dangerous is that it’s illegal. Time to wake up from our collective reefer madness.

Come on, America. Get down of your high horse and just get high.

Posted in Drugs, Government, Laws, Politics, Society

Is Lance Armstrong A Dope?

Oh, piffle. It’s not mean to ask. And anyway, the answer is no. Lance Armstong is no dope. Neither is Barry Bonds. He just understands what most people who are not “professional athletes” do not.

Professional sports is not the stuff of athletic contests. That’s what the Olympics is for (or used to be, anyway). They are live, dramatized, semi-improvised theatrical performances.

Like gladiators in ancient Rome, today’s athlete is all about the performance. They are well-paid, but essentially powerless men, whose every move is at the whim of the wealthy men who sign those large checks.

The whole thing is a freak show. Have you seen a picture of Mark Maguire’s arms circa 1998?

His triceps are as big as my ass! I mean, come on!

So dope on!

Your thoughts?

 

 

 

Posted in Drugs, Laws, Politics, Psychology, Society, Sports Tagged , , , , , ,

American Assassination

Ah, the shooting of a sitting Congressperson.

There hasn’t been an assassination in America since John F. Kennedy. Unless you count the death of Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, which some people do.

This horrific incident underscores the mess that American politics have become. As Keith Olbermann said so well in his Special Comment, the metaphors of violence must be repudiated. Certain conservatives may also wish to refudiate them as well.

Make no mistake. Assassination is the right word. Jared Lee Loughner tried to assassinate a sitting Congresswoman. He did it because he listened to the violent rhetoric of the right-wing opinionators who would rather destroy those who differ with them than try to work out those differences, or at least learn to live with them.

I can’t say it any better than Keith did. Listen to his comments. Listen to them twice.

Thanks, Keith. You’ve never been more spot-on.

Posted in Immigration, Laws, Politics, Prejudice, Psychology, Society Tagged , , ,

A Smattering of Stats

What’s the largest minority in the United States? It’s sort of an odd phrase, isn’t it? “Largest minority.” What the hell does that mean? Depends on how you characterize a minority.

According to Wikipedia, “A minority is a sociological group that does not make up a politically dominant voting majority of the total population of a given society.”

Okay, I see what that means.

According to the Office of Management and Budget, the Federal Agency that sets the standard, “The revised standards will have five minimum categories for data on race: American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and White. There will be two categories for data on ethnicity: ‘Hispanic or Latino’ and ‘Not Hispanic or Latino.’”

These are the only minorities the Federal Government recognizes for any purposes – education money, minority business grants, census data, and on.

Hm. That’s interesting, but culturally, I’ll look at a broader cross section.

For the record, the largest minority in the United States is, in fact, Hispanics, at about 16% (48.1 million). Here’s that stat and bunch of other interesting information about Hispanics in the U.S.

Hovering right there with them, depending on how many people got deported, how many stumbled across the border today and how many converts you have one way or the other, is atheists and the non-religious, at almost exactly 15%.

Blacks and African-Americas are about 12% (38.1 million). Asians are about 4.5 (13.8 million %)

The percentage of Americans who are disabled is 18% (51.4 million).

Some studies show that gays are 10%, some show much lower..

All religions except Christianity combined, including Jews, Muslims, Pagans, Hindus, Buddhists and New Age Hippies, comprise somewhere between 4% and 8% of the American population.

Of all these groups, only one has no political power, no sway with marketers, no representation in Congress (except one) and little outreach. In short, only one of these groups is completely disenfranchised.

Atheists.

congressman pete stark

Posted in Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science, Society Tagged , ,

Opening the Lines, Part 2

Continued from Part 1.

The assertion of non-belief is neither aggressive nor evangelizing. Frankly, this attitude is a deep offense to most atheists, myself included.

The thing that makes me really angry is that people think it’s okay to say that an atheist is a bad person simply because he or she is an atheist. I am not a bad person because I refuse to agree with someone’s opinion about God. Neither is someone a bad person because they do believe in a non-existent all-powerful deity.

People make strongly pro-religious posts on Facebook all the time. No one displays any concern or takes responsibility for my offense with these kinds of posts. In fact, I rarely comment on them, even though I do find them deeply offensive.

People are entitled to their opinions. But let’s be clear: an opinion is a conclusion reached based upon facts in evidence. Opinions demand respect. A belief is not an opinion. I can make up all sorts of crazy beliefs. I could worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and hope to be touched by his noodley appendage. Belief is the purposeful suspension of critical thinking. A belief neither deserves nor is entitled to the slightest respect.

And while it may be easier not to talk about these issues, and just sweep the tension under the rug, it’s not better to do that. In the long run, it just leads to festering resentment that eventually spills over to violence. It’s time to give up the luxury of pretending these differences don’t exist, and start talking about them, explaining our views and where they come from, and finding ways to accommodate one another. We have to live on this planet together. We have to use the same Internet. So we may as well all get used to there being someone out there who disagrees with our core beliefs.

I always invite anyone to engage in discussion with me at any time.

Return to Part 1.

Posted in Philosophy, Prejudice, Religion, Society Tagged , , ,

Opening the Lines of Communication

I would like to explain why I believe what I believe. Maybe this will help you understand or deal with atheists in your life.

I have found, in my personal experience, that people who disagree with me on religious issues will often accuse me of evangelizing. I take issue with the term “evangelical” because it tries to paint atheism as just another religion, and subject it to the same treatment as religion. Atheism is not a religion, nor is it a belief system. It is a creed that utterly rejects belief and its systems.

Most so-called “evangelical” atheists would agree with me that, because believers have had it their way for so long, that even the merest peep of dissension is seen as aggressive, pushy – as evangelizing. This is the only frame of reference that believers have. This is what they do – evangelize – therefore, someone who tries to talk to them about their religion in a way they’re unfamiliar with must also be evangelizing.

I also strenuously object to characterizing the assertion that I worship no God because no evidence proves that such an entity exists as evangelizing or aggressive. People think that by characterizing such assertions as aggressive, they can marginalize the assertion and the person making it. Essentially, I feel that people are saying, “I disagree with you, therefore, you are the aggressive one, therefore, I can safely ignore you.”

I have fought such characterizations since I was five years old. And atheists have been historically maligned for much longer and more vigorously than other groups. Forget five hundred years of slavery for the Jews, forget the 200 for Blacks in America, atheists have been persecuted for over 2500 years! We have been standing in the shadows – the shadows of the shadows – and no one should have to live that way. Atheists are the minority’s minority.

Continued

Posted in Laws, Philosophy, Prejudice, Religion, Society Tagged , , ,