May 05, 2017

Today is #StopBuyingCrapDay

Otherwise, it's known as Karl Marx's birthday.

I'm not a Marxist, whether of original persuasion, or Leninist, Trotskyite, Stalinist, Maoist, etc. Nor am I a neo-Marxist. Marx himself, though he made appeals for more scientific study of economics, wasn't that scientific. Besides, the Hegelian philosophical core idea behind his whole theory, the old thesis-antithesis-synthesis, is neither good science nor good philosophy.

That said, I find some interest in the Frankfurt School, for moving beyond traditional Marxist constraints on thought. Ditto for the likes of Franz Fanon, in part because people like him, unlike some alleged Marxists in the US today, do not believe everything reduces to class in the end. While I'm thinking of the likes of Doug Henwood, who tried to claim that Jim Crow was all about Southern whites breaking up working class Southern solidarity (not), or Adolph Reed attacking Black Lives Matter, not all alleged Marxists or fellow travelers are that way. Asad Haider is somewhat that way, though not as bad as what I've heard from others, I'll state.

Per the hashtag above, for various reasons, my day is different than Adbusters' Buy Nothing Day.

First of all, I want nothing to do with Adbusters' pretentiousness.

Second, per "No More Work" author James Livingston, in this piece, the market (though he's vague in the interview about what "the market" means), and its liberalism in the classical sense is a necessary part of democratic socialism.

So, by "stop buying crap," I mean:

1. The made in China tschotchkes you don't need.

2. Trying to at least cut down on junk food.

3. Stop buying overpriced "branded" products. Why are you paying money for a T-shirt or cap with some corporation's name on it? Why aren't these corporations paying you instead?

4. I mean, stop buying so much in general. Instead of approaching this from a Marxist angle, try a Zen angle. Or my neo-Cynic one. Revolt against society more. Per Livingston, some type of capitalism isn't bad. Hypercapitalism is.

5. And per the image (story behind it here), and something I need to do myself, is stop using credit so much.

May 04, 2017

Nick Kristof, Nobel Peace Prize idiot

Nick Kristof, the left-neoliberal NYT columnist who is overrated, an example of the Peter Principle in mainstream media in the inside-the-Beltway to Acela Corridor world, etc., etc., laments Aung San Suu Kyi's Burma having blood on its hands; in retweeting Frances Townsend, he's referring to attacks on Rohingya Muslims, which, for anybody claiming Buddhism is a religion of peace, have been done by the Buddhist 969 Movement and other very non-peaceful Buddhists. I've written about them before.

Hey, Nick, LOTS of Nobel Piss Prize (as we call it here) winners have dirty hands:
2015: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (coddling Charles Taylor)
2009: Dear Leader (and his later drones, al-Awlaki, etc.)
2002: Jimmy Carter (the Carter Doctrine & Middle East wars)
1994: Arafat, Rabin, Peres (kabuki theater on both sides)
1991: Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma and its current problems
1988: UN Peacekeeping Forces (long history of rapes)
1983: Lech Walesa (possible spy for Communist Poland's secret police)
1979: Mother Teresa (wanting women to stay poor, anti-birth control)
1978: Sadat (thuggish at home) and Begin (1940s terrorist)
1973: Henry Kissenger and Le Duc Tho (a face-save vs. spinning the war out; heither was peaceful)
1945: Cordell Hull (did nothing about the pre-war anti-Semites in State Dept. who blocked Jewish refugees from Europe)
1937: Lord Cecil (Allies kept Germany blockaded after WWI; blockade itself was illegal under international law)
1919: Woodrow Wilson (racist)
1906: Teddy Roosevelt (warmonger, racist-lite).

That took me all of five minutes.

I'm sure part of the problem is that Kristof believes the BS about Buddhism being a religion of peace, as well as believing the BS about Nobel Piss Prize winners.

May 03, 2017

Additional James Comey revelations to the Senate

CNN nailed the top ten of the FBI director. But there's more.

Additional revelations from James Comey's Senate talk today:

1. Huckleberry J. Butchmeup (hat tip to friend Brains) wants Anthony's Weiner.

Don't tell me he didn't elbow aside Huma Abedin last summer!

2. James Comey masturbates to "intelligence porn."

Seriously, you're another non-journalist trying to make your own ruling about the First Amendment. GFY.

3. Sally Yates thinks Leonard Peltier is a Russian mole.

Seriously, maybe she does. Why else did she tell Dear Leader to deny him commutation? (And she did.)

4. Patrick Leahy is jealous of Bernie Sanders. (Could be true, amirite?)

5. Huckleberry J. Butchmeup secretly wants Julian Assange's babies. (I made you throw up in your mouth, didn't I?)

6. Hillary Clinton threw a nightshade again at Bill Clinton. (It's surely possible.)

7. Loretta Lynch wanted Barack Obama's babies.

It's also surely possible. And, what are the odds you think Dear Leader ever had more than his eyeballs wander, post-marital vows?

8. Christophe is pissed that people attacked him, falsely, for closing LAX, and Lynch gets off lightly.

(Christophe is now in hiding with Richard Simmons.)

9. The Democrats are getting ready to claim Trump's iPhone, specifically his Twitter feed, has been hacked by Moscow.

My only question is, why has this claim not already been made?

10. These items are all more relevant to reality than most of what we heard from Senate chambers. However, per the NYT, not CNN, there was one scary, very relevant takeaway: Comey wants to keep on spying on communications.

And, (May 9), there's the really serious issue of Comey being fired, Dems partially hoist by their own petards and boatloads of MAGA-level lying everywhere within Team Trump. My initial thoughts here.

Business Orwellianism: Human resources

Let's face it, for about 99 percent of businesses in America big enough to have a human resources department, these companies do not care about finding and developing the talent within their employees as a resource of the humans they employ, let alone extending the idea of "talent" beyond skills to emotional and psychological expertise the development of which will be more beneficial to the employee, and thus make her or him more beneficial to the company, but also more "beneficial" to herself or himself as a human being.

Oh, sure, some higher-end corporations look more and more to assess these psychological and emotional talents, but in almost all cases, it's still for a business-exploitative utilitarian angle. And don't get me started on the even more neoliberal phrase of "human capital."

And, frankly, I'm sure this is why most big business CEOs oppose basic income or universal income or guaranteed income ideas. ‡

That said, back to the non-parenthesezed start to that last paragraph.

Small businesses at times have more incentive to develop the employee as a whole person because if you don't, it affects a large chunk of small-office interpersonal dynamics, and if those dynamics were at least OK before, then you're on the spot. That's of course praising with faint damns, which is another issue itself.

But big business doesn't even have this incentive. And resume-scanning programs that are far from AI, which itself can't search for emotional intelligence, can't cut the mustard.

==

‡ I may delve deeper into the woods on any nuanced differences between those three phrases, plus issues about libertarian-driven versions of such ideas, in future blog posts, especially that latter. There's a lot of techies that support some version of this, and many are, IMO, likely somewhere between tech-neoliberals and libertarians.

May 01, 2017

Jurickson Profar is REALLY sucking if his replacement is Pete Kozma

The Rangers infielder Jurickson Profar has been optioned to the minors to be replaced by Yankees castoff and, before that, Cardinals non-standout Pete Kozma. The Pete Kozma for whom I invented the Kozma Line, the sabermetric version of the Mendoza Line named after Mario Mendoza.

THAT Pete Kozma. (Who was himself sent by the Cards down to Memphis when he fell below the Kozma Line.) The Pete Kozma who didn't even play in the majors in 2016.

Weirdly from the Rangers' POV, Profar is hitting better than Kozma, relatively speaking, this year, and the two of them are washes for each other in fielding stats.

MLB Trade Rumors has more on their possible reasoning. Basically, the stRangers still have hopes for Profar and don't want him to gather rust and butt-splinters on the bench, whereas Pete Kozma is already ... Pete Kozma, and at the baseball-old age of 29, unlikely to ever be anything but Pete Kozma.

TX Progressives talk redistricting, resistance, JWP trial, more

The Texas Progressive Alliance salutes all worker-related marches on this year's May Day (and this blogger thinks secularly yet seriously about Canton) while bringing you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff takes a very early look at potential Congressional races for 2018.

SocraticGadfly offers his professional and personal reflections on the career and trial of "Our Man Downtown," John Wiley Price.


Democrats keep looking for excuses to kick people out from under their tent, and the evidence was everywhere PDiddie at Brains and Eggs looked over the past couple of weeks.  There aren't enough Marches, Resistances, and Revolutions to overcome so much squabbling, backbiting, and infighting.


====================

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Scott Braddock reports on the voucher astroturfing story.

Robert Rivard makes the case for changing the timing and frequency of San Antonio's elections.

Michael Li rounds up and summarizes the remaining disputes over the Texas Congressional map.

Therese Odell recoils in horror from the transcript of the AP interview with Donald Trump.

Sandra Thompson follows the money that is opposed to bail reform.

Juanita tries to explain how State Rep. Phil Stephenson twice screwed up a bill to name a highway after a murdered state trooper.

Jay Blazek Crossley advocates for lower speed limits on neighborhood streets.

Former Rep. Scott Hochberg explains why he is voting Yes on the HISD recapture referendum.

April 30, 2017

Jesus and god and tornadoes and Canton

Going beyond any snark-in-brief I've posted in past such cases on Twitter, and going beyond a briefer post about a woman allegedly "praying and diverting away" a tornado in metropolitan Dallas a year ago, in light of the tornado in Canton, Texas, that killed at least five people yesterday, and per the header, there's nothing to do but jump in.

Why are you, if you are, praying to your Jesus for the people of Canton, when he was either not strong enough, or else not morally good enough, to keep that tornado from happening in the first place?

In theology, the issue is called "theodicy," or the issue of divine judgment.

In this case within theodicy, where alleged omnipotence directly conflicts with alleged omnibenevolence, it's calls "the problem of evil."

Or, as Rabbi Kushner put it, "why do bad things happen to good people?" More on that in a minute.

Now, some of you, conservative evangelicals or fundamentalists, will quote either Job or Paul's quoting of Job, of god saying "my ways are not your ways."

Well, the alleged inscrutability of god is nothing more than a dodge itself.

Because you now have a god either not omnipotent, not powerful enough to make his ultimate plans clearly known to intelligent humans, his alleged creation, or else you have a god not good enough to keep his intelligent human creation from avoiding psychological pain by being left unaware of god's ultimate plans through a tragedy.

And don't try to go meta on me. If you claim that god or Jesus trying to explain himself would cause further turmoil itself, re-read the immediately preceding paragraph, because it's what I would repeat to you.

But, this isn't just a piece for the fundamentalist or nearly so — whether within Christianity or the other Middle East-based monotheisms.

If you believe in a more liberal version of your faith, whether Christianity, Judaism or Islam, have you ever wrestled seriously with this issue? Do you still, even if not taking your scriptures literalistically, still believe in a god who is both all-powerful and all-good?

What if' you don't?

How much short of omnipotent, or omnibenevolent, can a monotheistic deity be and still rightfully be accorded worship, etc.?

Or, if you're a New Ager, how much short of omnipotent, or omnibenevolent, can a depersonalized Higher Power be and still be trusted or sought out?

And, New Agers of certain stripes who literally believe in it (ditto for Hindus and Buddhists) do NOT cite "karma." That's more offensive than conservative Christians' "original sin."

And, this isn't just logic chopping. Divine goodness or not, human confusion in the face of trying to puzzle out an alleged divinity's actions and more are all highly emotional matters.

Also, this isn't just about so-called natural evil. Human evil falls in the same place.

Substitute "child sexual abuse" for "tornadoes."

I write this in a mix of sorrow and anger.

I feel sorrow for (and sorry for) people who can't or won't open themselves up fully to the deep feelings behind the confusion — and perhaps anger — they feel themselves over where they're at religiously at times like this.

And, per Hume, since reason should be the slave of the passions, yet guide it, I feel a second sense of sorrow that this means people can't or won't reason their way to new insights because they refuse to be fully in touch with their emotions.

And then I feel anger at those within conservative Christianity in the US who attack non-Christians, and especially secularists as allegedly immoral (not true on divorce or adultery), anti-American (we're not a Christian nation), or that there's a "war on Christianity" (hyped by Bill O'Reilly of moral problems galore).

Jesus allegedly spoke about specks of wood in others people's eyes vs. wood planks in one's own. Paul talked about believers who could only take milk, not being ready for meat or other solid food. Please take note.

Within faith-based major thinkers, of the last century or so, I suggest starting with Unamumo's "The Tragic Sense of Life," available in text online here. I'm not here to convert anybody to secularism; I am here to challenge shallow, unreflective belief systems when they're thrust in other people's faces.