Saturday, June 29, 2013

Gay marriage, a smokescreen issue

Gay marriage is one of the "smokescreen issues" that is pushed in everyone's face by the propaganda machine aka mass media - our information supply - to divert attention from the really important issues.

The solution to this particular problem has been around since the idea of "civil unions" was conceived. A civil union approach could have been used to confer equal rights to gay people who want to marry, without tampering with the definition of marriage. If there are issues, resolve them.

But putting this issue to rest isn't the point at all. The objective is to keep the subject alive and ready to be popped into the news cycle on demand.

There's a pool of "smokescreen issues". Abortion is another. It's been decided that a woman is, and should be, in charge of her body. It's common sense. But again, a small number of people have decided this a compelling issue for all of mankind to argue endlessly over. Or, more specifically, to be thrown into the conversation to keep it from going in another direction.

This weeks examples of headlines that just happened to "fall through the cracks" while attention was shunted to smokescreen issues include what looks to me like the murder of Michael Hastings, and former US general James Cartwright being named in the Stuxnet leak inquiry.

As you may know, Michael Hastings was an investigative journalist. Can you imagine how chilling this is on the whole field of investigative journalism? Will Bill Moyers be next?

It's the headlines we're not seeing that talk about what's really wrong with America. The biggest injustice of all being the invasion of Iraq. Then comes the Wall Street barons who robbed us blind and plunged us into debt, the unbelievably large sinkhole called the MIC, the pitiful and declining state of health care, the complete loss of privacy and a foreign policy controlled by special interests that have parents sending their kids to kill and die for.

What we need, and can't implement fast enough, is election system reform. We've got to remove the big money from the equation. There are many people who care more about other people then a large salary and are smart/educated enough to get things done to mankind's betterment. These people exist and we need to build a path for them to get into office and truly represent us (what a breath of fresh air that will be!).

Then each of us wouldn't have to waste so many cycles thinking about these problems, only to rediscover being helpless to do anything about it. The answers to some of the biggest problems come easily when human decency and common sense are applied. We've been duped by suits with silver tongues who lack the human decency part. Just look at the current state of issues that are really important today. The invasion of the Middle East is about to enter its next phase, perhaps in Syria, but any country will do to keep the mission alive. If you could ask the people pulling the military strings whether they would ever consider the invasion of the Middle East as yet another defeat, this one larger then Vietnam because this one bites back, and they will shout you right down. Yet consider what's been achieved for all that blood, suffering and destruction. And now Bush is going around giving speeches? Read Vincent Bugliosi's book for what we need to happen.

For an interesting view on our information supply, see this video based on Plato’s Allegory of the Cave — how human perception of reality is manipulated by others.


Friday, June 28, 2013

Is It Wrong to Skip the Commercials?

Is it ethical to DVR a TV show and then fast-forward through all the commercials while watching it? G.G., LOS ANGELES

Dumb question, but it does remind me of a theory I think we should be thinking about: that advertising should never be in our faces, and ESPECIALLY TV advertising, which I will assume you know what I'm talking about without further description.

How should advertising work? I think it should all be in a giant database that we can query when we want to research or buy something. Yes, that would turn in-our-face advertising inside out. Good.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The 4 Plagues ... then, fix the Election System!

The 4 Plagues: Getting a Handle on the Coming Apocalypse By Don Hazen

"In an environment of confusion and despair, it helps to understand the forces at play, how they operate, and why they feel so overwhelming."

This article is a very thoughtful and compelling summary of America's plight. It should be read by all Americans.


"Many people are mystified as to the specific causes of their fears, with a mass media system that constantly broadcasts propaganda about how great America is and a new digital media system that may be exacerbating the problems for a society under immense and unprecedented duress."


"Virtually every problem we face has gotten worse over the past 40 years, and heavily sped up since 9/11 and the economic crash of 2007."


"The statistics are quite shocking. The poor are suffering—more than 46 million Americans live at or below the poverty level, ..."


"Almost half of middle-class workers, 49 percent, will be poor or near poor in retirement, living on a food budget of about $5 a day.”"


"On the other hand, no one could have predicted Occupy. Is there another upheaval waiting to explode?"

I think that the Occupy movement withered for a few reasons, must mostly because the movement didn't focus on one issue.

And there IS such an issue that is worthy of our concentrated attention: election system reform.

We can use computer technology and the Internet to find and elect the right people, and they in turn will intelligently fix what's broken.

We can (must!) use what's left of our democracy to replace the shills now occupying so much of government. By removing the big money we remove the corrupting influence. This opens the doors for educated, smart, capable and well-meaning, public-service minded people to occupy these offices. There are many good people out there who are not corrupted or beholden to special interests who would take office if given the chance and a respectable paycheck.

But let's get the process straight this time. The election process must begin with identifying the issues, not the candidates. We've been force fed the issues for so long now that we don't even realize it's been working that way.

Therefore the first task of our new system will be to help us develop the list of issues. Then, as this list takes form, candidates are invited to state their positions on each of the issues (think "spreadsheet").

Candidates for elected positions can load up their online profiles with videos of their speeches, links to articles they've written, and if they've held office, their voting record, etc. With this information accessible through our voting program, we can hone in on our real favorites and vote them into office.

Perhaps before too long it will be possible for us to use a program such as IBM's Watson to help us match our positions on the issues with those of the candidates running for the office, but let's get started with a basic apparatus. This is a perfect application for an Open Source development project, where programmers around the world share and improve the code. The program would then be shared by any country wishing to use it.