Neil deGrasse Tyson on Climate Change

global-warmingTwo interviews with Neil deGrasse Tyson on climate change. Particularly enjoyed the sad but true comment that the wealthy won’t deal with it until they lose their wealth. When Reagan was acknowledging holes in the ozone layer he flipped the problem and said it would be an economic opportunity. Vendors can make money selling sunscreen, hats, etc. I am waiting for climate deniers to flip and say it is an opportunity for alternative energy, new building construction, and pollution removal equipment–coming soon.

How is misery morally dismissed as economic opportunities for those in place to capture gain?


Jim Newman. bright and well

Social Media and Cultural Literacy

twitter activismAs part of the WIS3 conference I learned to use Twitter. The reaction to the use of online media to discuss the abduction of Nigerian girls raised the issue whether online activism is more than virtual? The conclusion here was that it does. It raises awareness, gets personal narratives out, and begins further actions. If information and getting the word out is power than online activism is a vital part of material activism.

Collectives, coalitions, and groups are more effective. Gaining membership has always been the difficulty. Online exchanges help people sort themselves and further engages them by making the issues immediately tangible. It’s not some distant political issue but you’re friend right there online.

There is an anarchical aspect. Blocking helps with rabble and there are no trigger warnings. Threads are broken into digital flotsam. Messages are separated from their birthing discourse.

In “Faking Cultural Literacy” Karl Taro Greenfeld disses online engagement as superficial, know nothing.

What we all feel now is the constant pressure to know enough, at all times, lest we be revealed as culturally illiterate. So that we can survive an elevator pitch, a business meeting, a visit to the office kitchenette, a cocktail party, so that we can post, tweet, chat, comment, text as if we have seen, read, watched, listened. What matters to us, awash in petabytes of data, is not necessarily having actually consumed this content firsthand but simply knowing that it exists — and having a position on it, being able to engage in the chatter about it. We come perilously close to performing a pastiche of knowledgeability that is really a new model of know-nothingness.

Greenfeld basically blames social media for people reacting in a binary fashion and further that people do not bother to even read the linked articles beyond the headline if that.

According to a recent survey by the American Press Institute, nearly six in 10 Americans acknowledge that they do nothing more than read news headlines — and I know this only because I skimmed a Washington Post headline about the survey. After we’ve skimmed, we share. Commenters frequently start their posts with TL;DR — short for Too Long; Didn’t Read — and then proceed to offer an opinion on the subject at hand anyway. As Tony Haile, the chief executive of the web traffic analytics company Chartbeat, recently put it, “We’ve found effectively no correlation between social shares and people actually reading.” (He tweeted that.)

Hmm. In learning to use Twitter the real time aspect of involvement has an immediacy that is difficult to perceive until you have used it. If anything it seems more responsive and involved. While the time spent on any given message gets less and less as you try to speed through the many tweets the intensity of the exchange is not less but more. After awhile the long articles linked to tweets begin to feel like rumination, excessive digestion of information already found in many other tweets.

I found myself skimming the linked articles looking for information rather than enjoying language and structure though that wasn’t totally absent; I added articles in which I wished to linger later to lists and mailed links I could use as citations. The links do not clue the content as they are encoded so you have no more information unless you interrupt your message stream to go find it. After awhile this seems like an interruption during heated conversation. The concierge has come by to tell you something while in mid sentence.

The long posts seem like news arriving to the West coast from the East coast by means of the pony express. What arrives is already old news, almost irrelevant.

This immediacy feels like eruptions from a didactic ADHD. They are effective at getting attention. Participation is not like sitting beside a creek in a sylvan glen but rather waterfalls rushing to pools and further waterfalls over bumpy calamitous rocks.

There are the many personal interjections as well where it becomes clear that real people are involved. It becomes near impossible not to wish to remain engaged in the stream of messages flowing by, sometimes at an alarming rate. In this sense it seems like information and personal accounts are coming to you at video game speeds where if you don’t keep up you might miss something vital and not make the next level.

To say that this is superficial is to miss the exchange of breadth for depth, for lingering versus running engagement. Of course, I can stop at anytime but the lure is strong. I don’t think this is unreal. I did experience it as an alternative universe while trying to engage in regular social life of Memorial weekend parties. I was the first of the party to know the UCSB shooting because the tweets were yelling my way–and this was the following day. This doesn’t help conversation where the pace of discourse is sedate and self monitored.

I don’t know if I can stand the speed of exchanges but it’s clear that once engaged it is of enormous value. When not engaged it is a force to be reckoned with in understanding how we positively participate in politics and others through social media.

Jim Newman, bright and well

Dan Caplis Says Racists Must Be Atheists

racismBetween Cliven Bundy, Donald Sterling, and Dan Caplis it’s been a banner week showing Chief Justice Roberts to be an unmitigated idiot when he says racism no longer exists in America. As if it weren’t obvious everywhere. After all they aren’t hanging blacks in Texas anymore though there seems to be some love of heating them to death in prison. But that’s not a color thing, just a poverty thing. And what is the racial profile of poverty and those in prison?

Racial healing seems so obvious to Justice Roberts, it’s hard to imagine he thought it ever existed–that he understands how Clive Bundy would say slavery was better for people of color. They were housed, fed, educated you know. When everyone reacted and abandoned Bundy he could only lament that if only people knew his heart, his black heart, he loved people of color. Bundy is no outlier. I have lived out west. Many assholes think slaves were well cared for and are worse off now. Those were happy slaves. Well, some weren’t but most were. Better than the welfare leaches they are now. Thus birthed the Tea Party. A racism so large it overwhelms run of the mill conservatives.

Must be true. Hell, now the South can’t even kill someone on death row they want to with some jazzy cocktail of poisons. Why not a grand opium trip with some crack–that seems to kill many easily and with a lot of fun. Oh yeah, no fun allowed. If you give a nice last meal, why not the trip of a lifetime? Who would have guessed that hanging, shooting, or the guillotine would be so compassionate.

Who knew that the bible was anti racist? I only read it so I must not know so there must be some allegorical thing I missed. Dan Caplis says racists must be atheists, no god-loving person is racist.

Caplis argues, “Nobody who believes in God can be a racist, in my view, because once you believe God made us, you mean, God made junk? God many somebody lesser just by virtue of the color of their skin? So my starting point is always all racists must be atheists. They can’t possibly believe in God.”

His rationale is that no person who believes in God could possibly believe God “made somebody inferior just because of the color of their skin,” and after getting pushback on his radio show for the remarks he made it clear that he has nothing against atheists as a whole.

It’s not biblical. It’s his definition of god in the Church of Caplis. Ok, so long as he’s not quoting the bible in any way where there are some 200 supports of slavery and racism–hatred of strangers is as common as fleas. Oh right, slavery is really a form of indentured servitude and the bible says not to beat your slave to death, only a little, just enough and slaves should obey their masters. Though without doubt if there were a Jesus he was as swarthy as can be without actually being a beautiful, blue-black African. Jesus would be on the top of the stop and search frisk list.

That so many self avowed Christians are racists or think the impoverished lot of people of color is self induced makes me think you can’t be Christian unless you’re a racist. Back that with the bible and you can be sure that any Christian who isn’t a racist is corrupting the bible to their own benefit.

But then we’re only human as Donald Sterling shows, proving a cock has no color. Isn’t it racism if you’re willing to fuck them, have a relationship with them, but don’t want to be seen in public with them? Unless it’s the pretty chick by your side. A prize no doubt. A beautiful trophy. Poor bitch. It’s a sad day when a woman of color fucks a white bigoted ass. They say prostitution isn’t legal except in Nevada. Hmmm, maybe open prostitution should be allowed and this ingrained racism stopped. At least the john likes the prostitute and she’s not a trophy for status.

Donald Sterling proves once again that men will fuck anything that moves or doesn’t move while maintaining moral standards of social status and contempt of what he’s fucked. Considering what an ass he is, V. Staviano proves the same though she seems free of contempt but it’s hard to know since she isn’t heard; she lets the tape do the talking. She does say she wished she had lighter skin–gaaack. I guess fucking is about power and release after all. But of course women shouldn’t do it so I am sure many think as Donald Trump does that it is V. Staviano’s gold digging fault as she is just screwing for money–but he’s screwing for status.  And presumably both of them get some sex.

Sterling was generous after all–he didn’t care that she had sex with other black men, proving yet again it’s not about sex but racism and sexism. After all he can parade her around. Though if Staviano had a hope of making millions without screwing the ugly, racist bastard I bet she would. Want to stop undesired prostitution give women economic power.

No doubt Sterling is an asshole about LGBTQ issues as well where it’s Ok to watch and screw em but don’t let them marry or kiss in public. I don’t know but it’s likely. Isn’t this all supposed to be private anyway?

That the Bunny Ranch in Nevada has banned both Sterling and Duck Dynasty dudes shows prostitutes are more moral and honest than most Christians. Very sad that so many people think only a few prostitutes really want to be prostitutes. As if women weren’t like men wanting casual, exhibitionistic sex, a lot. As if women wouldn’t have paid-for sex unless they were abused, impoverished, or desperate for big status or money. As if women didn’t like sex because it is sex and it’s nice if you can make money at something you like. Asa Akira has written (some in Haiku) “Insatiable: Porn–a love story” about how her upbringing was entirely uneventful neurotically and yet she always wanted to have far more sex and exhibitionism than society allows.

Jon Stewart handles Bundy and Sterling beautifully.

Jim Newman, bright and well

Christ’s Suicide and Easter

christ's suicideMy daughter returned from a trip with friends and had to listen to christian radio on the way. She lost interest in Easter; it’s about suicide! Our family had to somehow recover it as a spring holiday. An excuse for feasting, lots of protein, consuming our last home raised ham, curried tofu, green beans, potatoes, and being together as family.

Why would churches be against suicide except for a prophet who claims to be the son of god? How could it be a suicide if Christ knew he would be alive anyway? How is suicide bad if the next world is with god as claimed? How would he be giving up his son if he knew he would become alive or if there were some sort of autonomy-connection-awareness within the triune god? Wars and ostracism have been committed based on the appealed veracity of these distinctions. It’s also why faith of immortality cares less about the truth of it but rather the hope for it. It can’t possibly make sense and that’s its value. To be beyond reason. You can’t easily argue the absurd from within.

The meme that Christ desired to be crucified to redeem the sins of all humans is the cornerstone of christian faith for most. It is what separates the old from the new testament. In order to redeem the Judaic text, the old testament, and not blame Jews for allowing Christ to be killed, Christ has to allow himself to be killed in passive suicide. This has many troublesome issues only the faithful can support. It would have been much less interesting if Christ had stabbed himself to death. The grotesque images of Christ bleeding on a cross resonate deeply. Far beyond the merit of the act. Yet suicide is contagious and becomes its own problem.

The act of living may require more courage than suicide. But for the sake of a good story Christ had to die and the church needed a Paul to create and spread the memes. It is the idea of sacrifice that counts and not how much sacrifice it really is. Confabulating son and father, mortality and immortality, just adds icing to the cake. Think of how a small gesture like taking out the garbage, or doing the dishes, or working late adds to a relationship. Once trusted the gifts need not be so great.

Just how courageous was Jesus? Most men and women would give up their life for their families. Soldiers routinely give up their lives for the group or just for the idea of bravery and courage, to be boldly brave. Terrorist attacks show how individuals will risk all to save the group when if they were passive they most likely would not be harmed. Again and again we have examples of how people will sacrifice themselves for others they do not even know, strangers even.  It’s hard to know who really is a stranger; we all know more strangers than friends and family now.

Would you kill yourself for six friends, 10, 20, 100 or 1,000? If you knew you could stop global warming would you commit suicide? Would you let yourself go when the lifeboat is too full to hold even just one more or would you swamp the raft? Would you jeopardize your life on a  Everest climb by attempting to rescue another disabled climber?

Over and over I hear and read of stories of bravery and courage where the degree of cost, the importance of success, are far less than that of Jesus. If what he believed was true his suicide was a no brainer and hardly merits slight respect. I would bet that nearly everyone would commit suicide if they knew they were saving their entire community. The real question is who would not commit suicide for their family of life?

Jim Newman, bright and well

Saudi Arabia Declares Atheists Terrorists

king-abdullahIn an attempt to silence political dissent Saudi Arabia rebrands atheists as terrorists and of course anyone who disagrees with wahhabi is an atheist.

Article one of the new provisions defines terrorism as “calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based”.

Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director of Human Rights Watch, said: “Saudi authorities have never tolerated criticism of their policies, but these recent laws and regulations turn almost any critical expression or independent association into crimes of terrorism.

The laws are also meant to stop peaceful protestors and to prevent Saudis from fighting in Syria and gaining weird ideas against monarchy.

Might want to delay that trip to Dubai.

We would never have had this problem if these nomadic tribalists had not been living on top of enough oil to make them the worlds biggest producers back in the 70’s. Further if we had paid any attention at all to the evidence of global warming already present then and changed our energy demands. Further if globalization had meant supportive commerce and not coercion to conservative policy.

Jim Newman, bright and well