cancel-culture and more

The new mini-series on Netflix named “The Chair” is really quite good. It stars Sandra Oh who portrays a college professor who gets caught up in cancel-culture’s impact on life in a university.  Perhaps I wouldn’t have understood if I hadn’t just  finished reading “The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth” by Jonathan Rauch. His book is primarily about truth within democracy and recent attacks on our society from the media, right wing pressure groups, lobbyists and even politicians.  I highly recommend it to anyone who values preserving truth and freedom within our democracy.   

Jonathan Rauch was able to finally explain clearly to me how it is that some “truths” that are supported by a majority of people can be ignored, run down, and voted out of existence by just a few.  Some of these truths cluster around the climate crisis, financial inequality, racism, jobs.  I have always blamed lobbyists, conservative media, evangelical religious groups, etc.. I have felt impotent and powerless when things that were obvious to me continuously were defeated. At least now, Rauch has helped me understand the mechanics of these many distortions of truth that are pushing our society towards the brink of autocracy and fascism.

The following is a portion of a paragraph quoted directly from his book.

“A field known as “public choice” concerns itself with the ways in which narrow pressure groups can out-organize and dominate much larger majorities. Consider American rice farmers. From 1995 to 2019, U.S. rice subsidies cost almost $17 billion. The benefits were concentrated on a small set of farms; two-thirds of the money went to the biggest 10 percent of the farms, each of which received an average of almost $1.3 million. You could be sure they were organized, resourced, and determined to defend their subsidy, and woe unto the legislator who would try to zero it out. Meanwhile, the cost was spread over the whole U.S. population. Rescinding the entire amount would have saved each of about 140 million taxpayers about $120 over the period, or less than five dollars a year: too little to notice, much less to organize against. lf a group opposing rice subsidies did manage to organize, the rice lobby would pull out all the stops to defeat it. But usually, as the economist Mancur Olson showed, the asymmetry between concentrated benefits and diffused costs is such that the majority interest does not organize at all. Over time, pressure groups accumulate, capturing resources which might have flowed elsewhere. If the process is not checked, entire economies and societies can calcify and rot.”

This example really affected me.  Many years ago, I watched my Uncle cry over losing his farm to big-business farmers and no one seemed to care.  Rauch’s book has a chapter with suggestions for us to resist, fight back, and defend the Constitution of Knowledge. I highly recommend that you read his new book. Understanding contains the beginnings of solutions.

Wanted: No War

The longer other countries, such as Iran and North Korea, are not allowed to have nuclear energy, the longer they are dependent on oil!

As The Guardian said “The establishment assumes that Iran can never possess nuclear weapons, yet the United States lives with nuclear-armed adversaries like Russia and China and aligns with the nuclear-armed military dictatorship in Pakistan.”

The Climate Crisis almost demands that we enable the building of more nuclear power plants. We have learned from our mistakes how to build them safely now. We should offer to build nuclear facilities for any country that wants them! Especially Iran and North Korea.

But Big Oil, with their fossil fuels lobby, holds tremendous economic power and influence on politics, particularly in the United States. They continue to scare the public over anything nuclear.

We need to fear Climate Crisis more than War. Iran having the ability to build a nuclear warhead is not nearly as dangerous as Trump having control of the US arsenals.

No Is Not Enough – the book

The new book “No Is Not Enough” by Naomi Klein should be read by all. It was rushed out in reaction to Donald Trump, but includes important comments about climate change and the anthropocene.

Because one of the most unjust aspects of climate disruption is that our actions as adults today will have their most severe impact on the lives of generations yet to come, as well as kids alive today who are too young to impact policy — kids like Toma (her son) and his friends, and their generation the world over. These children have done nothing to create the crisis, but they are the ones who will deal with the most extreme weather — the storms and droughts and fires and rising seas — and all the social and economic stresses that will flow as a result. They are the ones growing up amidst a mass extinction, robbed of so much beauty and so much of the companionship that comes from being surrounded by other life forms.

The above quote from the book is how I feel about my grandchildren (aged 12-19). Global warming, climate change, neoliberalsim, the USA oligarchy, Trumpism, all of these things are not their fault. The adults of the “western world” have effed up society and the planet so bad that I feel revolution will be the only way out. And these kids will be fighting the wars, unless we can help wake people up to the dangers.

Get a copy of the book, buy it, library it, borrow it. And learn more at

noisnotenough.org

theleap.org


“I’m not looking to overthrow the American government, the corporate state already has..” – John Trudell


States that Discriminate

I love my state — California. We have an Assembly Bill AB 1887 that prohibits state sponsored travel to 8 states that have passed laws discriminating against various classes of people. I think more states should follow suit, to put pressure on these backward, mean state governments.

This list is here to help me remember to not vacation in these states and to minimize travel time if we must travel through them on the way to somewhere else.

• Alabama
• Kansas
• Kentucky
• Mississippi
• North Carolina
• South Dakota
• Tennessee
• Texas

Some day, hopefully, these states will change their laws and support all people.

Noam Chomsky Interviewed at Google

Noam Chomsky appeared at Google in Cambridge May 23, 2017, to speak to an audience of primarily Google staff. The video of the “Google Talks” event was published to YouTube June 5.

This discussion seemed to be more personal than I have heard Chomsky before. Usually Professor Chomsky is “on topic” all the time. The interviewer did a great job, acting like a student sincerely interested in Chomsky’s early life and how he became an activist.

Later in the talk, the word “internet” came up, more and more. Chomsky obviously uses Google products, but only mentioned Google Translate specifically.

He warned about using Artificial Intelligence for more than just data mining. AI should be used for more humanistic endeavors. Understanding ourselves, our species, should be the focus of our prime directive.

I enjoyed it and recommend that you take an hour to listen to a very open discussion: human existence should be our number one priority.

You can watch it by clicking here

or by going to www.youtube.com/watch?v=2C-zWrhFqpM directly.

You can also just search in YouTube.


Solving big problems is easier than solving little problems. – Sergei Brin