Wednesday, February 29, 2012

RSA Animate - Choice

Choice = Freedom? Really?

Then why are we overwhelmed by it? Here's someone who's thinking beyond the meme...

Why not wake up your brain with this quick bit from the Royal Society. McGilchrist was featured in a post here last year. There is just no end to interesting videos on this website.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Noblesse oblige, passee?

Well, well, well....

Yet another scientist informs us that, short of the sort of mind altering experience known to Scrooge (Dickens' nineteenth century version of an acid trip), today's wealthy, by and large, just aren't very nice guys. The more money one has the less likely one is to be genuinely empathetic with the needs of the less fortunate, or to even be truly aware of what 'less fortunate' means in real terms. I can't tell you how many times someone from the "upper classes" has tried to deny this fact to my face. Proof that Denial isn't just a river in Egypt. And did you see that idiot Buffet complaining how some banks were 'victims' of the few folks who managed to get any money out of their houses before the banks foreclosed. Poor baby. Tell you one thing, before this is all over, no one will be left on the sidelines. People will have to choose which side they're on. LIke we used to say in the 60s, you're either part of the solution or part of the problem.

From today's Bloomberg News:
Are society’s most noble actors found within society’s nobility?

That question spurred Paul Piff, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at theUniversity of California, Berkeley, to explore whether higher social class is linked to higher ideals, he said in a telephone interview.

The answer Piff found after conducting seven different experiments is: no. The pursuit of self-interest is a “fundamental motive among society’s elite, and the increased want associated with greater wealth and status can promote wrongdoing,” ...

The “upper class,” as defined by the study, were more likely to break the law while driving, take candy from children, lie in negotiation, cheat to raise their odds of winning a prize and endorse unethical behavior at work, the research found. The solution, Piff said, is to find a way to increase empathy among wealthier people.

“It’s not that the rich are innately bad, but as you rise in the ranks -- whether as a person or a nonhuman primate -- you become more self-focused,” Piff said. “You can change that by reminding upper-class people of the needs of others. That may not be their default, but have them do it is sufficient to increase their patterns of altruistic behavior.”

How like the monkeys we are! Well said, and this is all to the good, no? (See previous post re RSA about increasing empathy in the world as the solution to world problems. Of course the Dalai Lama has been saying this for years. And though I empathize with the "human" problems of the wealthy – most well-off folks I know live rather lonely, though often busy, lives in denial of their loneliness – it doesn't mean I'm for letting them have their way with society at large). Perhaps, rather than turning their backs (the wealthy's version of "turn the other cheek") on the less fortunate (those who do the actual daily work that provides the wealthy with their wealth), this growing emphasis on raising consciousness among the privileged of what it is to be born to simply survive in the world will change things for the better. One certainly hopes so.

So after decades spent leaning over birthday candles and wishing, former aspiring Catholic saint that I am, only to be a "good person", it seems I took the trouble to save this comment from some forgotten site that rather succinctly expresses my current mindset :

"i don't want to better myself anymore.
i just want to surf the blogs, eat candy corn and pick dead leaves off
my plants."

a little break from the nutrace.

Monday, February 20, 2012

RSA Animate - 21st century enlightenment

Nothing like flowers from a friend to warm your winter view....

So, what will it take to make a better society in the 21st Century? What do we mean by that? This short video on the subject is just so good I had to share it with y'all.. From the royal society for the encouragement of the Arts, via D's website. Check their other interesting videos as well. Simply Bril.

A few good quotes from it:

If you want to be a happier person, don't read a self-help book. Just have happier friends.

and here's another:

Successfully functioning in society ... requires us to have a relationship to our own reactions rather than be captive of them, to resists our tendencies to make right or true that which is merely familiar, and wrong or false that which is only strange.

I watched it three times. Lots of mindopening ideas here. Not the least of of which is the Margaret Meade quote at the end, an idea that never goes out of fashion.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

For my British pals...

"Humans are only intermittently rational, living mostly in realms of hope, fear, memory or fantasy, lost in the power of the imagination. "

Well said by Polly Toynbee in yesterday's Guardian, as she makes a brilliant, reasonable argument for secularism, that is, a firm separation of church and state, while cautioning the British public that Cameron may be "test marketing" the usefulness of the very same anti-religion persecution complex in UK that has managed to find such a solid, irrational, repressive footing in US politics in recent decades. I don't know why, despite support for the anticipated March for Reason planned in DC in March, members of the political right in American just don't get it. Maybe they DO get it, but find it politically advantageous to play the dumb, inflexible zealot. Polly writes:

"I will defend to the death anyone's right to practice any faith, if it breaks no law, interferes with nobody's rights nor claims undue public policy influence. Church bells, calls to prayer, displays of crucifixes, beards or side-locks are freedoms, alongside bare midriffs and knicker-short miniskirts. Personally, I am affronted by women in face veils, but that's my problem. I will argue against them but freedom of speech, thought and dress are non-negotiable. But so is the right to robust argument that may offend religious sensibilities, including the right to challenge the improbability of the faith itself – and the right to make jokes."

British pals, take heed. The government- sponsored American Revivalist Tent Show is headed your way.

IF you haven't seen this little gem, sit back and enjoy a total crackup. Every time they say Thebenbernank I lose it. If you don't love this, you got a hole in your soul. best moment: "You must be sh**ting me". There are more of these on youtube. But this is the best one. Tho' Sarah Palin talking to Jesus fun.

Finally, there's mischief afoot that may be hopping the pond, coming soon to a legislature/state unemployment office near you. This Guardian article, Work for free and 'be of benefit' to a multinational like Tesco, warns of corruption vis. certain UK laws now require folks who collect unemployment (in UK called "jobseekers allowance" so folks don't forget to look for a job I guess) to participate in various community service schemes where they work full time for zip under the guise of "training for future employment". While this wasn't supposed to have anything to do with the corporate world, the public, private wall of separation has been severely breached and voila! the corporate scavangers have moved into to take advantage. And who's to say they can't?? Fox guards henhouse! How 'bout working the night shift for Tesco, the Walmart of Britain, for no pay, while the corporation dangles the chance of a job someday before your eyes. (Actually you' re only promised an interview. ) The writer distills the message:

."..the crucial point is that unpaid work – bad enough when it applied to supposed "interns", but grim beyond belief when used on the unemployed – is now being built into what some people call The New Normal. Given the thousands involved, it clearly represents a boon to the kind of multinational giants whose profit margins must be creeping upwards thanks to the plentiful supply of people "

Some British companies have refused to particpate in this government fiasco (bravo Sainsbury and Waterstones) that is essentially training the British public to work full time for no pay in return for an unemployment check, a check YOU paid into with your taxes, in collective social agreement (known as government) with your fellow citizens, a covenant to support each other from the common coffer when you can't find a job.

That the public could tolerate such a thing really blew me away. But this mentality that if you're poor, or jobless, you are somehow at fault, lazy, lacking some basic human value, seems to be rooting itself into the western psyche right along with blaming the Greek "lifestyle" (god, at least they have one!) for the mess International Banking got them in. Imagine being forced to choose between destitution or the indignity of working for free. And how are you sposed to look for a job if you're working for free?? It's essentially indentured servitude. Read more about this insidious ruse here, including some of the stores Brits or traveling Americans may want to boycott in the UK that are taking advantage of the unemployed, (Boots, TK Maxx, Topshop, etc).

Those poor corporations. They richer they get the more they seem to disdain humanity, the less human they appear. Soon they'll regress down the evolutionary ladder to resemble lower ape species. Hey, then we can drag those knuckle walkers to the Supreme Court and present them as evidence against their own "personhood."

If we're allowed in court by then.

Greece: A Country in Ruins?

Or maybe just smarter than the average bear.....

Surfing the Net with a cuppa at hand is my version of 'reading the paper' as I start the day, or attempt to, and this morning I came across this award winning econoblog via Max's site . I've heard this guy's contention hinted at elsewhere, but not so specifically, that come end of March (end of first quarter) we're in for a firestorm in the markets and serious market chaos. The few, one or two, folks seemed quite timid about saying this were nonetheless quietly sure of themselves. Run on banks not out of question? Who knows? Looks like March 23 is the target Greek default date, according to this blogger, not only in the works but the grand finale of the show expected and, you can bet, planned for at the top levels of banking in the US. So all this market hoopla baloney, up and down like a seesaw as it responds to the sideshow 'talks' in Greece, is just so much cheap sausage, served with a side of tension to keep gamblers and speculators looking for bargains.

Me, I've always wanted to go to Greece..... my measly dollars might do very well there traded in for drachmas. In ruins? Not so much.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Adam Smith, we hardly knew ye...

Right wing "free marketers" love to quote Adam Smith, early 18th century father of economics, in praise of self interest as the god of prosperity and in defense of an end to government intervention and regulation of markets, including mitigation of unfair exploitation of labor. But in truth, and those who have studied the History of Economic Thought (no longer taught in many universities, according to my former economics professor – "no demand" he said) know this is a fallacy. Smith was well aware of the cruelty of unregulated capitalism. His comments below are predictive of the current state of the US population, poorly educated, obese, a nation of couch and screen potatoes, resistant to fact, and willing to believe anything that lets them, as citizens, off the hook when it comes to making a serious effort to understand and change their society for the better.

His description of what happens to an industrial (it's just as applicable to so called "white collar" office workers) labor force mercilessly indebted and exploited by the power brokers is timely, and thank the gods there are still reputable economists out there writing about this today. Will anyone notice?

"The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations . . . has no occasion to exert his understanding. . . . He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become. The torpor of his mind renders him, not only incapable of relishing or bearing a part in any conversation, but of conceiving any generous, noble, or tender sentiment, and consequently of forming any just judgement concerning many even of the ordinary duties of private life. Of the great and extensive interests of his country he is altogether incapable of judging; and unless very particular pains have been taken to render him otherwise, he is equally incapable of defending his country in war. The uniformity of his stationary life naturally corrupts the courage of his mind. . . . It corrupts even the activity of his body, and renders him incapable of exerting his strength with vigour and perseverance, in any other employment than that to which he has been bred. His dexterity at his own particular trade seems, in this manner, to be acquired at the expence of his intellectual, social, and martial virtues. But in every improved and civilized society this is the state into which the labouring poor, that is, the great body of the people, must necessarily fall, unless government takes some pains to prevent it."

Adam Smith. Read the whole article at Economonitor today.

Adele does politics at the Grammy's? We wish.

Newt: "Not an ethical shred in his oversized head"!!

Would that Adele had the chutzpah. More of this kind of nonsense, please! And thanks, Delthea, for the twitter link.

And here's a new RT news show with a host I find more intelligent and much easier to take than the self-important Rachel. Check Alyonna out.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day, Everyone, from the cold North Woods, where the stars are bright and the Rivers Frozen.

I watched a pair of bluejays this morning. They mate for life. He was feeding her, up there on the high branches. The male feeds the female when she's 'brooding', that is, sitting on the nest. While it seems a bit early for mating season (Bluejays normally begin to fool around in March), he was most def feeding her, flying up to her with a seed from the feeder, with "look, look what I have for you!", beaks meet, and voila! LOVE. Maybe they just like it this way all the time, brooding or not, maybe they switch off. who's to say they can't? Sweet, don't you think? We could all use a loving mate like that. Most certainly we'll all need one in the end. I know I've lovingly fed a fella or two, meals made from the heart in the hope he'd notice, feel the love. Unfortunately,.. well....

Old bluejay proverb: Choose Mate Wisely or suffer consequence! [spoken with faux chinese birdlike accent] And looking back, I see it was the handsome ones who were most selfish, who noticed least, the odd looking lovers who were most attentive to others, who expressed appreciation for my food. Really, girl, didn't you read that lesson in that old copy of Aesop? When you were TWELVE!

Just stubborn, i guess.


From the comic site XKCD. And here's a big 'muah!' to all the good souls out there who love me just as I am as I do them.

May your day be filled with love.

and lest you think my mind has gone all mush, I had to post this quote about the Greek situation from Max Keiser's website today in response to the man who wondered if the bankers were up on the 50th floor watching the demonstrators and laughing as the police drove them back with (american made) teargas:

"I am laughing at the Bankers. Do they really think they can control Greece. The more austerity they impose the stronger the black economy will become. More repression will only cause a stronger passive aggressive reaction.

Like a woman from the old Soviet Czechoslovakia told me. “They pretended to pay us and we pretended to work.” "

RTP: Refuse To Participate in the charades: credit cards, bank cards, loans, auto ownership, insurance scams, all but local spending, corporate shopping, including online, etc. No netflix, iTunes. I'm just starting this list and trying to figure out, without dropping out, how to work toward a lifestyle that lives it. RTP: That's my answer to the corruption we face. Defund the corporate economy and defund political candidates who aren't on the same page. There must be some way to organize and implement this. This is where the people's power lies. Like Nancy Reagan advised: just say NO. Stop giving these shysters your money. Spend mindfully if you spend at all.

Think about it. In the end the choice will be convenience versus liberty. What was it Franklin said? He who chooses security over liberty deserves neither. Every day it looks more likely we will all have to choose, and sooner than you think. And our choice will reveal what kind of person we really are.