Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ethical Atheism; A+

There's been some discussion over on FTB about trying to spin a new atheist movement off of the current one; drawing parallels with feminism, it's been likened to "Third Wave". The first two waves were about staking the claim; this one is going to be about cleaning out or own closets. After a discussion (I'll admit, I was not part of), the name Atheism+ was determined, with A+ as the shorthand, for the movement.

For what little it's worth, I like it.

Not only do I get an H+ now, I get an A+, too.

Or maybe I'm an AH+, or a HA+, since my transhumanism is more important to me than atheism - after all, it's hard to build your person and schema around something that doesn't exist. So instead, I'm putting my faith and my belief in the future, and in the advancement and progression of the human species. I don't think we'll have AI Gods anytime soon - although if we do, that might be nice, for a certain value of "nice" - but as a species our best hope for the future is technology and progression. Therefore, I'm Ha+ (there was a chemical joke in here about being a positive ion of Hahnium, but apparently, the IUPAC decided that Dubnium is a better name. Java rejects this, because Dubnium is underlined in red. Of course, so is IUPAC.)

One of the geneses of this movement was the collective of misogynistic assholes that gathered around the atheist movement; snide, dickish, and moronic, these are the guys on Reddit and other internet cesspools. These are also the guys on Dawkin's forum, who deny the existence of racism and misogyny and, if you pull out all of the references to God and the attacks on evolution, don't sound any different than say, the Free Republic.

Well, any new movement has it's own manifesto. This is the first time that I've seen the manifesto for the A+ movement; creating a document that all members of the movement will abide by.

So here it is, in all it's glory.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Being Poor, Part 2

Being poor is being afraid to actually get a medical issue checked out, because you know that your insurance either won't cover all of the medication or even with insurance covering it, it's going to put you behind several weeks on your finding.

Being poor is hearing the word "surgery" and "surgeon" and feeling your heart sink because you know you're never going to have the money to take care of it.

Being poor is looking at your bank account and really wishing you could get that check ahead of time, because goddamn you need the money.

Being poor is posting any kind of trip that you would use to recover yourself or renew yourself after a long and hard quarter indefinitely when you find out that you're ill, and knowing there's not a thing you can do about it.

I'm still suffering from that sinus infection, but I went to the doctor today and learned something else, too: there's a problem with my ear. Thankfully, it's merely impacted earwax, something that can pretty well and truly be dealt with cheaply, but the resident that was working with me scared me when he said "referral to a ENT surgeon" (ENT means Eyes, Nose, and Throat, for those who don't know). I managed to get away with just 60 dollars in medication, and I haven't seen a pay check in better than three weeks and still need to get my oil changed on my car. And I got off lucky.

No, wait. I didn't. By the standards in the United States I got off lucky. But the United States doesn't set these standards anymore.

I'm tried of being thankful for what I have. I'm tried of hearing "You're lucky because..." No. If I were lucky, I'd be living somewhere that wasn't the United States. I'd be living somewhere that wouldn't heft all this shit on me, when I don't even have enough money to get out out of the fucking house on my own.

People say civilization is going to fall; our economy, or society, is built on a pyramid scheme. The pyramid scheme that capitalism built.

Well, hurry the fuck up. Someone put this miserable beast out of its misery, already.

Shut The Fuck Up, Fascist Dog

Joel McDurmon would like you to know that it has an opinion on the whole situation surrounding Todd Akin's ignorant and hateful admission of just how utterly stupid and psychopathic the Republican Party has become lately. When Todd Akin put on display how knowledgeable he was of 14th century medicine, everyone rightly criticized him. He put on display a core belief in the Republican Party today, once again showing how the Republicans do nothing but show contempt towards women.

To Mr. McDurmon: Shut the fuck up, you fascist pigheaded motherfucker self-righteous unholy coprophilic. You caitiff. You backbiting, contemptible, unscrupulous, reprobate misbegotten shit-eating abomination. You're a Backpfeifengesicht. I'm not going to engage you in a debate. I'm not going to be nice. I'm not going to play with the kid gloves because you know what? A debate is carried out when you think you can change someone's mind, or get them to see your side of the equation. Motherfucker, you won't see any side other than your own. You're not going open your eyes. You cannot reason a person out of a position they weren't reasoned into, and you know what? Fucker, you're not even in the same goddamn hemisphere as reason. So I have one thing to say to you, you self-grandiose piece of human detritus: Shut the fuck up.

No, seriously.

Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

I'm not a mean liberal. Hell, I'm just warming up, you arrogant douche. To even suggest that what Todd Akin has received (rightfully) received for his obscene and horrifyingly sociopathic comments is like to [WARNING! This link leads to the full article] gang rape - motherfucker, you need to shut the fuck up like right the fuck now. You needed to shut the fuck up yesterday.


This is not persecution. This is me treating you like the contemptible piece of shit you are. Fuck you, fuck your God, fuck your religion, and fuck everything you stand for you degenerate. You abnormal, vile, pusillanimous, beyond contempt wretched Hell-spawn. 

I'll say it one more time: Shut the fuck up, fascist dog*. Don't justify what you said. Don't try to explain it to me because all I hear is "I think rape is only real rape if the victim is [x]" - you don't have the first fucking clue, you rape apologist. And if you think your God believes that, your stupid fucking God can go fist himself. And there's not a fucking thing your pathetic little God will ever do to me, motherfucker. That's got to chaff your ass, knowing that your God won't do a damn thing to me even though I'm standing up and shouting him down. Because he doesn't even exist. Because the demon you worship is not the God that the majority of right-hearted and caring individuals worship. Your Old Testament Monster Under the Bed can go kiss the fuck off. Just like you, you pig-fucking fascist asshole.

*This comment is not intended to offend dogs. Dogs are intelligent, caring, social creatures. They are friendly, family oriented, and don't care what their masters are so long as their masters feed them, love them, and play with them. DeMar is none of that. He is not intelligent. He is not caring. He might be a social creature, but the social circles he travels through are likely the First or Second layer of Hell. He is not friendly. And he revels in all of the above, believing them to be positive traits. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

When It Comes To America...

1. Exuberant Nationalism
2. Enemies are Identified
3. Rights Disappear
4. Secrecy Demanded
5. Military Glorified
6. Corporations Shielded
7. Corruption Unchecked
8. Media Controlled
9. Rampant Sexism
10. Intellectual Bullying
11. Militarized Police
12. Elections Stolen

“The split in America, rather than simply economic, is between those who embrace reason, who function in the real world of cause and effect, and those who, numbed by isolation and despair, now seek meaning in a mythical world of intuition, a world that is no longer reality-based, a world of magic.”
Chris Hedges

“Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion.Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution.They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead.”
Henry A. Wallace 

And, of course, no conversation is complete without this one:

“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.”
Sinclair Lewis

Friday, August 17, 2012

Toxic Memes and Poor People

I'm at home tonight with sinusitis, so I'm writing this while in pain. It doesn't make me a very happy individual at all, but compared to the pain this damn sinus infection has inflicted upon me before, what I'm feeling now is nothing.

It hurt worse earlier. So bad I had to admit myself into an emergency clinic and now I have to wall my wallet away inside of my tin can so it doesn't strangle me for it. There's a reason I've waited to treat it - I just recently paid for breaks, so I'm hurting financially enough as it is. I was just hoping that if I ignored it, it'd go away. It's been chronic for the last month or so, since the end of the last heatwave. Part of the problem, I'm sure, is the fact that my neighbor is an asshole. this guy hasn't mowed his lawn all summer (being in jail hasn't helped, but I have a right to be mad at the general situation because it's an eye sore and the city should, but won't, do anything about it) but the weeds - gawddamn. They're bigger than I am. And they've spent most of the summer flowering; kicking my allergies way into overdrive. Even my cat has been suffering from allergies this summer. So I'm sure that's what causing it; that and the fact that work they have something in the filters that just makes it utterly unbearable. I stayed at work as long as I could today - I had to clock out early so I could carry myself off to an emergency clinic because it hurt so bad I wanted to cry. I have quite sensitive teeth; any kind of pressure on that nerve makes it unbearable for me. My teeth were literally throbbing today. I could feel them; I can still feel them now. It felt like someone was trying pry my face apart. Motrin didn't even take the edge off. I kept my patience until I realized that I just couldn't do this anymore. It hurt to talk; someone drove a nail through my jaw and lit that nerve that runs along the chin on fire. That's when I left work early, losing 2 hours of pay. I'm on antibiotics now, so hopefully I'll see some improvement before I go back on Tuesday. I have a weekend off to get better, at least.

Anyway, this post stems from something I've seen too many times.

America is a culture of soundbites.

It's a culture that compresses complex ideologies and multifaceted problems into a few words that, at most, give only a cursory and biased glace at the problem itself. This is what happens when you have a culture of soundbites. As a result, people begin to think in soundbites and begin to expect immediate solutions to present themselves almost as easily as the soundbites are tossed out by our ignoble leaders.

This isn't the first one of these that I've seen, but it is the most recent. And I've commented on almost every one that I've seen, including several arguments with people who thought they supported this stuff. I can't say how many minds I've changed; I doubt the people who support measures and rhetoric like this want their mind changed (as Fred Clark calls it, the "Good Jackie/Bad Jackie test". To my understanding, it works like this: if you tell someone some wild and fanciful story they're repeating is a lie/wrong, how do they react? If they react with "oh, I didn't know that", then you're looking at Good Jackie. If they get mad because you're telling them the truth and they storm off, then you're looking at a Bad Jackie. Most importantly, I reserve the right to be wrong about this. I hurt, y'all. This is not fun).

So, America is a culture of easy and simple soundbites for complex and complicated problems. Here's a very simple solution approach to a problem so complex it has bedeviled people since society first began.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

David Brin Nails It

I've not really read anything by Brin. The way I view David Brin is a clear depiction how even people with the same overall philosophy can have conflicts (Brin strikes me as being hypercapitalist/libertarian devoted towards a transparent society. I'm a hypersocialist/anarcho-communist devoted towards a transparent society. This is a far bigger gulf than it appears). However, most of the time - especially in the realm of popular culture - I find myself agreeing with him. Especially on matters of Romanticism in popular culture.

I recently discovered his essay on J.R.R. Tolkien and his take on the Lord of the Rings saga. I've read the Lord of the Rings - I think this is mandatory reading for any geek or nerd, so I'm good there - but at the time I read it, I didn't realize what it was preaching. I understood the fundamental anti-industry message that it sent, but being the person I am, I took it in a different way (unregulated, unwatched industry is not productive. Unregulated industry is destructive. Witness: the recent economic boondoggle that everyone keeps saying is getting better when it's really not. This was caused by unregulated banking industries; I view banks as enemies too, for what it's worth). I missed the aristocracy-promotion in the books initially.

Brin nails all that in more in his essay. This is probably my favorite quote from it:
Which brings us to another of the really cool things about fantasy — identifying with a side that’s 100 percent good. You can revel as they utterly annihilate foes who deserve to be exterminated because they are 100 percent distilled evil. This may not be politically correct, but then, political correctness is really a bastard offspring of egalitarian-scientific enlightenment. Witness the sometimes saccharine p.c.-sweetness of “Star Trek.”

Romanticism never made any pretense at equality. It is hyperdiscriminatory, by nature. (Have you ever actually read Byron or Shelley?) Whole classes of people are less worthy, less deserving of life, than other classes. The Nazis were archetypal Romantics.
I dislike the 100% good/evil. I think it's too simplistic. It's why I don't have classic supervillains in The Blue Pimpernel, and it's why I'm trying to make the Parties and the Families more sympathetic at the same time. There are no 100% good people. There are people who have motivations that are productive to society and those who have motivations that are destructive to society.

Take for instance, the Families. The criminal Families - there are more than one of them, but referring to them as one entity works, especially because Ari is there to bridge the gaps and attempt to help them act as one entity. The Families appear like traditional criminal families like the mafia. That's true to a degree, but the Families are also enterprises. They have an investment in the communities that they operate in. The Families support the local political machine because there's next to no tax base to support the Party at the local level. The Families, in turn, make their money by controlling the underground economy. They offered up - safe - medical services that were beyond the price tag of people or that were illegal. For instance, abortion; the Families brought aboard clinics and staffed clinics that would carry out this procedure. Birth control and other illegal materials were all for sale, you just had to know where to look. The Families would come in, kill off or absorb all of the competing gangs, and start to prop the community. They went so far as to help renovate areas and open up "banks" to help people get money they needed to pay off debt. Because the Families were primarily criminal enterprises, these were done with less-than-altruistic intentions. They were establishing a new economy based on the ownership of people who signed up for help. If you went to the Families for help you would get that help. But you would sign your entire life to them. So are the Families 100% evil? Or are they just a business? I personally can't see how the Families are any different from how banks operate today in the United States, aside from the fact that the Families appear to be more useful from a societal stand point. It's morally repugnant, but if you're offended by the Families and you vote Republican, you're a hypocrite.

The Party is not evil. The Party is pretty well and truly useless as a government; it's hopelessly compromised and corrupted at the local level, there's no legal elections anymore so there's no change of authority unless something drastic happens. At the national level, there are still those who believe in Democracy - these people tend to get elected from places like the North East, California, Oregon, and Washington. There are still agencies that work to serve - the FBI, while corrupt in some ways, still works with altruistic intentions, despite being crippled by the state's-rightists. Overall, it's so backwards-looking it's never evolved, and that stagnation has crushed it. They're also hopelessly divided and fractured; the Party is extreme by today's standards, but just remember the fringe expands with each year and what was extreme 10 years ago seems to be the norm today. The Party is actually moderate compared the elements that make it up. The first and most visible split in the Party in the party is between the Religious Extremists - who view the Party as not being extreme enough and not killing enough people in the name of God - and the Corproatists, who couldn't care less what God thinks so long as they continue to turn a profit. It's a collective of white men who couldn't be less unified if they tried; they've hopelessly failed the country, they've hopelessly failed as a government, but they continue because they are 100% certain that they're right and everyone else is wrong - with a certain value for "everyone else", because without their boogiemen, they fell apart. The Party requires the Families to even survive, especially at the local levels.

The 100% evil thing is cheating, in my opinion, and it often has negative implications.

Anyway, the essay is a great essay. You should check it out.

Also, an update: I finished my first rough draft (or came close enough to it for my own tastes) of the novella that bridges The Blue Pimpernel and Entropy. As I was writing Entropy I realized that Entropy was trying to do too much - rather than release Entropy as a crammed book, I went back to the drawing board. I hewed the first part of Entropy off and turned it into a novella bridging the two books; it's called Liquidation.

I finished the first rough draft of Liquidation. Now that I know what I want out of it, I've started work on the second rough draft (my writing style means I create at least two rough drafts of a work before I'm happy with it; I created 15 rough drafts of The Blue Pimpernel before I was satisfied, but I don't intend to do that again). I'll start posting sections from Liquidation in the near future, so watch this space.