Sunday, June 10, 2012

It has always bothered me - astonished me, really - that banks and such are legally able to sell MY debt.  It seems to me - at a human level - that if I owe someone - or in this case, a company - money, then I don't owe it to anyone ELSE. 

Shouldn't this should be a paramount notion in consumer finances?  If a corporate debtor-entity no longer wants MY debt, then it can forgive me the debt - otherwise, I will continue to pay, as agreed.  To sell my debt to another entity is - again, at the human level - absurd and truly feels criminal. 

And then I remember that nowadays so much money is "made" in exactly that way, by selling and re-selling other people's obligations, from false-front securities entity to false-front securities entity, from here to the Cayman Islands.

Decent Words in a Rotten World (from 2008-01-22)

From 22-JAN-2008....

Decent Words in a Rotten World 

There's something wrong here. And there. Look around the corner - scan the news - recall your folks' life - review your own. Something's wrong. Everywhere. It's called Life, the Big Picture, God and the Devil, Cause and Effect - it has many names. "Adversity" is a favorite one, too.
How can one deal with it? What about state terrorism? What about subversive terrorism? What about nuclear terrorism? What about starvation? What about AIDS? What about torture and the unbelieveable cruelties that are visited on relatively innocent people every day? What can one do about it?

Not a great deal. But the only way you can sleep at night is to NOT WORRY. This is not actually a cop-out. The fact is, it is utterly impossible for you to take care of the whole world, to have an effect on all the hideous swirl of life near and far.  You can't even affect a slice of it - it's often impossible to affect even the little world right around you yourself! Since all organizations and mass movements become in one way or another cesspools of chaos, corruption and cruelty, they are not really much of an answer.

So, to stay sane, and to avoid endless combat, you have to draw lines for yourself. Despite how you feel about the evils around you, you have to discern (a) things you cannot control, and (b) things that you can control. This is the starting point for avoiding suicide and madness. These are decentia verba, in my bad Latin, appropriate words for living, for being here.


Politics.... (an old rant from 2009 or 2010)

(An old rant, from sometime in 2009 or 2010) 

My head's in a spin.

Reading George Lakoff's 2006 book, "Whose Freedom?", his take on U.S. politics in recent years (post-911, and pre-economic debacle).  I'm trying to digest it.

It's disturbing for me, as politics always is.   He's describing & giving his personal/ professional analysis of the whirl of ideas, words and meanings that have been found in the politics of what I deem the Reagan Age (1981-present).

Unlike Lakoff, I find that a certain amount of the Progressive notions he holds dear are flawed.  For example, it is not true that the "economic safety net" fails to lull people into complacency; it tends to.  While the various Conservatives louldly assert that it does so in all cases (and so become liars or fools, just like the men who, during the Depression & the New Deal kept saying that same thing), a lot of Lefties simply think that that in itself is a non-issue (which is equally false).  It is not human or humane to simply condone failure and foolishness.  To re-phrase an old maxim, "Moderation and prudence, in all things."

These occasional epiphanies nudge me back toward the GOP/Conservative side of things.  But that can't last - for every time a GOP/Conservative smear-artist opens his mouth and sounds off in the unmistakable tones of "We're right, you're wrong - anyone who disagrees with us is a Traitor!" I find myself thrown back to the Liberal/Progressive side of things.  A "Winners-Only" Wall Street world, surrounded by struggling poor - the object of modern, Neo-Conservative, GOP policies, is simply not a humane or desirable one.

The political center - a conventional wisdom positing that people are (more or less) still people, despite political differences, and that Moderation and Toleration are the key virtues in Society, along with Prudence * - seems to have become a thing of the past, to judge from the media.  Everyone - Left and Right - is clinging to his or her Pole, and the poles of the media are more and more articulated, as Lakoff correctly points out, by the lusty, violent, demagogic idiots of 'talk radio' and its much bigger younger brother, Fox News.

I think that the Left has a lot to answer for, even if they do see the world through culturally amoral spectacles.  I think there is no doubt that the 60s destroyed the functionality of American private life, shredding traditions and restraints and self-esteem.  Its critical thrust may have been overdue in intellectual terms or in terms of enfranchising people held back by prejudice, but it also required a suspension of self-worth in everyone else

But that was something that rowdies and hotshots are never willing to do.

White Americans (especially men) found themselves saddled with a permanent general burden of putative guilt based on things that other men had done in other times.  The conventional wisdom had shifted to: men are bad, families are bad, white people are bad, heterosexuality is bad, restraint of any kind is bad, etc.  That, along with increased drug-addiction, was the negative legacyof the 1960s. White American men were seen simply as 'the bad guys', or even as 'the defective guys', in favor of every other group imaginable. To be 'okay', the media and schools implied, you had to be non-white, non-male, or - if a white male - you had to be queer.  So after years of that implicit denial of human value to plain old white guys, there came - from Reagan forward - a re-reaction, an insistence and a rebuke, an assertion that decent men should hold up their heads as people.

Surprise! - harassed native virtue joined with vicious ignorance & barbarism - and rebounded as anti-Liberal rage, and the GOP's Neo-Conservative & Wall Street & Bible Belt coalition was born.  (At least that's as far as I understand it.)

* It's interesting that even the word "Society" has become a dirty word for the Right. Apparently, in their mental universe, Society and Freedom cannot co-exist.

That Evil Socialist Healthcare Bill was Passed (an old rant from 2009 or 2010)

(An old rant, from ca. Spring, 2010) 

The Healthcare Bill - it's crappy enough, yes. I'm trying to figure this all out. If you hate Liberals, don't read the rest of this....

Re the Bill itself - we do have Market Forces to thank for it. Because a "free market" medical insurance and medical product environment has repeatedly been run as a business rather than as the medical service it exists to be, and so there was a need to do SOMETHING. While this big medical aggregate (a) tried to show a bright Corporate face, on one hand, on the other (b) it obstructed and denied coverage to its clients on a regular basis; while it (a) kept pumping up drug & medical services consumption and demand, it (d) simultaneously kept its prices as high as possible. In other words, it operated to make corporations and their higher-ups rich while becoming simultaneously less and less affordable to the rest of us - to the point where without "medical insurance", we couldn't even be treated.

Medical services should - really - start in the home. Hygeine; 911; stopping bleeding; eating real food instead of what's marketed; eating less (since we work less); and so on.  But there relatively fewer and fewer homes as years go by.  It often seems that only the rich and the simple even have homes, to speak of; the rest of the nation lives as a bunch of greedy mono-souls: "Hooray for me and to Hell with thee" is the modern motto, it often seems.  And yet crazy homeless wildlings shouldn't be denied medical help just because they don't have a stable and moderate way of life. Everyone should be able to get at least a basic bit of health care.

Where has the old 'middle-class' gone to? Now that the easy wave of American Prosperity is over, they have either moved up into the Rich, or fallen to wayside and become Poor. The USA needs to decide if it still wants to preserve a middle class at all, or just devolve into a Hong Kong sort of setup.

What the US really needs is this (so I think):
- The American people as a whole need to accept that people do get sick and die; as it is, no one seems to accept that death is a part of life, and we blame the doctors and the medical system for our lack of invulnerability and immortality;
- A Basic Local Care revolution - barefoot doctors, as it were, for the greater part of the USA, and not just a few super-high-tech medical centers; but if we leave it to 'the market', God only knows what that would bring! This needs to be a decently Regulated program, whether local or national.
- An interface of both Basic Local Care and Professional and High-Tech Centers: we need both, we need a balance. But since regular medical services are disappearing, merging into fewer and fewer single large centers, the AVAILABILITY of nearby medical care decreases. The model should be - illness, see the Local; serious illness, see the Professional; really serious illness, see the Medical Center.
- Responsibility on the part of the people RECEIVING medical care: stay clean, eat better, don't play with guns and STOP CHEATING and faking when you don't have medical coverage;
- Better still, we need a Universal Health Care system, so that oafs don't HAVE to cheat all the time to get care.  In other words, as long as the Market denies people health care, they will certainly cheat and not pay bills in order to get it.

So, instead of a 2,400-page document, we need a short, clear guide, a Medical Manifesto that mandates expanding basic care; requires education of the dolts who need usually need it so that they can take care of themselves (or actually be liable to blame for not doing so); that integrates the Local Basic Care providers in a simple & effective way with the medical upper echelons - the more expensive Professional Medical providers, and then beyond that the ultra-expensive Centralized Highest-Tech systems.

All that aside, I'm still trying to find out how the Obama & Pelosi-led Medical legislation will work, in point of fact.  If it survives the attacks from the Right.

"Not Wanted" Ads (an old rant from 2009 or 2010)

(An old rant, from ca. 2009 or 2010)

Want ads are a funny business. They reflect the dog-eat-dog nature of economic life: those hiring always want better and still better employees, and the rest of the applicants can take a hike. But as I've survey the last 40 years of changes in the pink-collar world that I'm familiar with, it becomes obvious that employment itself is becoming passé - while a few hard-core staff people will be needed in companies, other staff jobs - secretaries, mailroom staff, file clerks, messengers, receptionists - are first of all targets for lay-offs and attrition, and beyond that these positions themselves seem to be disappearing.

In the old days, weren't lay-offs more or less seasonal? Demand might drop, people were let go - but when Demand was up, they or others were hired back. Not so much these days. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Now, ignorance - in a general sense - is what constitutes our mental life: we can sense things (receive impressions) but never have complete knowledge - we cannot know HOW life works, how electrons and quarks can exist, or even if they do exist in the way we've imagined them.  Our ignorance is general, complementary to our little bits of knowledge. 

Beyond this, we also create from our sense impressions, new impressions - pro-facta you might call them:  a class of impressions not based on direct, immediate, concrete sensation, but rather things deduced or guessed at or constructed from intellectual conclusions we have made.  The realm, in other words, of ideas - such as the numeric world of algebra or the hoped-for world of an afterlife.  We can construct and impress these images on our selves. 

And then there is another category - God.  We fight over what God is because no one can truly prove it one way or another, as you might with a question of a rock's concrete qualities.  A bridge that stands against the wind is pretty good positive proof of an engineer's theories.  Given the ignorance, we shouldn't fight about what we don't know and can't demonstrate - but our urge to know (our innate dissatisfaction with our own ignorance) also engenders belief, in which we for emotional reaons enshrine pro-facta as hard facts or even as divine facts.  And if one gets onto the Platonic bandwagon of divinity, counting the divine as more real than reality, one gets into a war of Belief against Belief. Because every individual believes that he or she is right, and the rest of the world mistaken.

In a simple sense, the word 'belief' denotes the indefinite realm of the pro-facta.  I say, "I believe it's two in the afternoon," meaning it's my hunch that it is two, but I believe it and don't know it because I don't have my watch on. 

But 'belief' in a hard sense denotes something else.  It is the psychological realm of the True Believers, whose lives are dedicated to the pro-facta that they have enshrined as more real than real.  And it is here that the biggest fights start - not because of the necessary non-existence (in a technical sense) of these Beliefs (they are ideas, not things) but because the Beliefs are used to serve our own impulses, emotions and psychological needs.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My three-eyed blog still exists here on Blogger!  Despite Google's "New Blogger" dashboard. 

News?  Diverting factoids?  Rants? 

Not much today; but I did find a nice blog by an apparently mammary-obsessive girl (girl?) who styles herself "samuraifrog".  (Maybe it's a guy?)  "Electronic Cerebrectomy" is, I think, her blog's title. 

What's so attractive about her blog?  Let me count the ways....

  1. Her photos & self-portraits - beautiful visage & some oddball humor.
  2.  She has a "100 Favorite Playboy Playmates" entry - hard not to take a peek at that.
  3. She follows a lot of the same blogs I do - such as -
  • Random Acts of Geekery
  • Booksteve's Library
  • "Hooray for Wally Wood!"

 and so on. 
     4.  But most importantly, she's a Star Trek aficionada - and gives useful commentary as she DVD's her way through the episodes of the canon....  DS9!  Voyager!  and so on.