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Prophet 451

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Member since: Wed Jul 27, 2005, 05:10 PM
Number of posts: 9,194

About Me

Opinionated Englishman.

Journal Archives

Should Churches Be Taxed?

So I finally got Star membership and thought I'd celebrate by uploading my own avatar (same one use on everything) and creating my first poll in ages.

Simple question: Should churches be taxed?

Quick Survey - How's Your Internet?

Curious about what kind of net service my American friends get. If you don't mind sharing, how's your download speed and what do you pay for it?

Here (British Midlands), I pay roughly $50 a month for 150Mbs, no cap.

Would You Vote For Hillary?

Would be a poll, except I'm not a star member so I can't post polls. Straight yes/no question. Assuming Hillary gets through the primary and is the Democratic nominee in 2016, would you vote for her (holding your nose if necessary)?

If you want to add your reasons why/why not, feel free.

Why People Vote Republican

Crossposted at suggestion of another poster:

Firstly, remember that 19% of the US population thinks the sun orbits the earth. A fifth of the electorate are dumb as dirt, in other words.

Then you have to allow for a media that is, on the whole, right-wing. Contrary to the mantra that the public have been brainwashed into believing, all US media (outside of three hours on MSNBC in the evenings) tilts right to a greater or lesser degree. And that's a direct result of the fact that almost all broadcast media is owned by a small number of corporations and corporations tend to be conservative.

That's important for two reasons. Firstly, the human mind is incredibly susceptible to repetition. Hear it often enough and you will believe virtually anything (and I do mean anything). The RW media acts as an echo chamber that constantly reinforces the Republican message and doesn't call out Republican's outright lies. Secondly is the phenomenon known as "incestuous amplification". What that means is that, when you keep people getting their information from sources which agree with them, their beliefs tend to get more extreme. Take a few guys who think W was an ok president, lock them in a room for a while and they'll come out thinking that W was the best president ever, the sun shone again on his watch and he should be on Mount Rushmore (and yes, this has already happened with Reagan).

Media is also what shapes your ingroup and outgroup. Put simply, your ingroup are people like you or who you aspire to be and your outgroup is everyone else. All of you automatically and unconsciously discriminate in favour of our ingroup and against our outgroup. That's automatic, happens even in the very young and has been shown to operate even when the assignments to groups is explicitly random. Through the corporate media have trained people to always kick downward when they are dissatisfied. Trained them to resent the poor shmuck on welfare, not the corporate suit making millions (and that's in addition to the fact that I have never known a country that hates it's poor like the USA).

The rural population also identifies Democrats with cities, with hated elites, with minorities, with the modernity they hate and fear. Obama caught hell for saying that the rural people, scared of a changing world, cling to their flag, guns and religion but he was entirely right. They also identify Democrats with abortion. In the western world, abortion is only an issue in the US and Ireland and Ireland is virtually a theocracy. Consider also that the USA is one of the few countries where being intellectual is widely considered something to be hated and resented. Egg-headed elites who think they're better than us shitkickers. Education and intellectual achievement are not only not admired but actively resented.

People used to tell me that the USA was a classless society. That was bollocks. The USA is even more classist than my own UK, it's just that your classes are trained to only hate those on the rung below them. So the people on welfare are despised most of all. The average citizen has been trained to regard every cent spent on welfare as a dollar stolen from him personally. And the USA venerates greed. Only in the USA is libertarianism, a philosophy which boils down to "people should starve rather than taxes supporting them", still a thing. Only in the USA and UK do people still think of poverty as a moral issue, that the poor are poor not through teh vagaries of the employment market or increasing company consolidation or even just because the capitalist system requires winners and losers and requires a certain level of unemployment to keep wages down. In the US and UK, the unemployed are blamed for their own poverty. The PtB still think in Dickensian terms of the "undeserving poor", that the poor are poor because they drink or do drugs or "don't have the habit of work" (our demonically evil DWP minister).

Consider also the cognitive bias that means if we hold a wrong belief, not only will we resist correction, we will hold the belief even more strongly and resent those who tried correcting us. When your Republican brother-in-law sends you some chain email about how terrible Democrats are and you mail back a correction, he doesn't change his beliefs. He holds them even more strongly and resents you for trying to correct them. Maybe you should skip Thanksgiving this year.

Consider that fundamentalism, a theology that, in Weird Al's words "I'll be laughing my head off, as you're burning in hell", a theology that essentially exists simply as a revenge fantasy that promises everyone the believer dislikes will burn, is a powerful political force and Republicanity is now the dominant Republican faith. Republianity is a mixture of lip service to Jesus (while jettisoning virtually everything he actually taught), Nieztchian will-to-power, Randian beliefs to justify psychotic anti-tax zealotry, Nazi-level nationalism and worship of the military and Rapture beliefs that were invented wholesale out of a few twisted-from-context Bible verses about a century ago. It has it's own high priests (Pat Robertson, Limbaugh, Beck), it's own messiah figure (Reagan), it's own devil figure (Obama although really, it's whoever the most high-profile liberal of the time is), it's own designated scapegoats (liberals) and it's own versions of history, economics, psychology, theology and jurisprudence. And a lot of your countrymen have been brainwashed to believe that fictional view of the world. They even have a museum and "university" to promote that faith.

In addition, the US still have a race problem. A big one. African-Americans are arrested and imprisoned at vastly disproportionate rates. And the response in much of the USA to that is not to suggest that there is something deeply wrong with the way law enforcement is doing things but to think that African-Americans are disproportionately likely to be criminals and that criminality is not attributable to their environment (such as poverty, the single most reliable indicator of criminality) but to something about black people in themselves. This is an example of what's called the "fundamental attribution error", a psychological bias that says, when we do something wrong, we will attribute it to outside factors but when someone else does something wrong, we will attribute it to them as a person.

Finally, the Southern US still votes Republican almost as a block. And in much of the Southern US, the education is almost laughable, includes much "USA, best country in the history of ever!" triumphalism and the Civil War is still viewed as the "war of Northern Aggression" and it totally wasn't about slavery, dammit!

It is not difficult to manipulate humans. Humans are instinctively obedient, Milgram proved that. Humans are instinctively conformist. Asche proved that. Keep the lie simple enough, repeat it often enough and people will believe it. Hitler proved that.

Many reasons

Firstly, remember that 19% of the US population thinks the sun orbits the earth. A fifth of the electorate are dumb as dirt, in other words.

Then you have to allow for a media that is, on the whole, right-wing. Contrary to the mantra that the public have been brainwashed into believing, all US media (outside of three hours on MSNBC in the evenings) tilts right to a greater or lesser degree. And that's a direct result of the fact that almost all broadcast media is owned by a small number of corporations and corporations tend to be conservative.

That's important for two reasons. Firstly, the human mind is incredibly susceptible to repetition. Hear it often enough and you will believe virtually anything (and I do mean anything). The RW media acts as an echo chamber that constantly reinforces the Republican message and doesn't call out Republican's outright lies. Secondly is the phonomenon known as "incestuous amplification". What that means is that, when you keep people getting their information from sources which agree with them, their beliefs tend to get more extreme. Take a few guys who think W was an ok president, lock them in a room for a while and they'll come out thinking that W was the best president ever, the sun shone again on his watch and he should be on Mount Rushmore (and yes, this has already happened with Reagan).

Media is also what shapes your ingroup and outgroup. Put simply, your ingroup are people like you or who you aspire to be and your outgroup is everyone else. All of you automatically and unconsciously discriminate in favour of our ingroup and against our outgroup. That's automatic, happens even in the very young and has been shown to operate even when the assignments to groups is explicitly random. Through teh corporate media have trained people to always kick downward when they are dissatisfied. Trained them to resent the poor shmuck on welfare, not teh corporate suit making millions (and that's in addition to the fact that I have never known a country that hates it's poor like the USA).

The rural population also identifies Democrats with cities, with hated elites, with minorities, with the modernity they hate and fear. Obama caught hell for saying that the rural people, scared of a changing world, cling to their flag, guns and religion but he was entirely right. They also identify Democrats with abortion. In the western world, abortion is only an issue in the US and Ireland and Ireland is virtually a theocracy. Consider also that the USA is one of the few countries where being intellectual is widely considered something to be hated and resented. Egg-headed elites who think they're better than us shitkickers. Education and intellectual achievement are not only not admired but actively resented.

People used to tell me that the USA was a classless society. That was bollocks. The USA is even more classist than my own UK, it's just that your classes are trained to only hate those on teh rung below them. So the people on welfare are despised most of all. The average citizen has been trained to regard every cent spent on welfare as a dollar stolen from him personally. And the USA venerates greed. Only in the USA is libertarianism, a philosophy which boils down to "people should starve rather than taxes supporting them", still a thing. Only in the USA and UK do people still think of poverty as a moral issue, that the poor are poor not through teh vagaries of the employment market or incresing company consolidation or even just because the capitalist system requires winners and losers and requires a certain level of unemployment to keep wages down. In the US and UK, teh unemployed are blamed for their own poverty. The PtB still think in Dickensian terms of the "undeserving poor", that the poor are poor because they drink or do drugs or "don't have the habit of work" (our demonically evil DWP minister).

Consider also the cognitive bias that means if we hold a wrong belief, not only will we resist correction, we will hold the belief even more strongly and resent those who tried correcting us.

Consider that fundamentalism, a theology that, in Weird Al's words "I'll be laughing my head off, as you're burning in hell", a theology that essentially exists simply as a revenge fantasy that promises everyone the believer dislikes will burn, is a powerful political force and Republicanity is now the dominant Republican faith. Republianity is a mixture of lip service to Jesus (while jettisoning virtually everything he actually taught), Nieztchian will-to-power, Randian beliefs to justify psychotic anti-tax beliefs, Nazi-level nationalism and worship of the military and Rapture beliefs that were invented wholesale out of a few twisted-from-context Bible verses about a century ago. It has it's own high priests (Pat Robertson, Limbaugh, Beck), it's own messiah figure (Reagan), it's own devil figure (Obama although really, it's whoever the most high-profile liberal of the time is), it's own designated scapegoats (liberals) and it's own versions of history, economics, psychology, theology and jurisprudence. And a lot of your countrymen have been brainwashed to believe that fictional view of the world.

In addition, the US still have a race problem. A big one. African-Americans are arrested and imprisoned at vastly disproportionate rates. And teh response in much of teh USA to that is not to suggest that there is something deeply wrong with the way law enforcement is doing things but to think that African-Americans are disproportionately likely to be criminals and that criminality is not attributable to their environment (such as poverty, the single most reliable indicator of criminality) but to something about black people in themselves. This is an example of what's called the "fundamental attribution error", a psychological bias that says, when we do something wrong, we will attribute it to outside factors but when someone else does something wrong, we will attribute it to them as a person.

Finally, the Southern US still votes Republican almost as a block. And in much of the Southern US, the education is almost laughable, includes much "USA, best country in the history of ever!" triumphalism and teh Civil War is still viewed as the "war of Northern Aggression" and it totally wasn't about slavery, dammit!

It is not difficult to manipulate humans. Humans are instinctively obedient, Milgram proved that. Humans are instinctively conformist. Asche proved that. Keep the lie simple enough, repeat it often enough and people will believe it. Hitler proved that.

They're features, not bugs

The monied elite, the PtB, want what they have always wanted: A populace with no options and no security, desperate enough to work for pennies or a workhouse bed for the night. Forget selling to the US middle class, they'll sell to the much bigger Asian markets.

Once you realise what their agenda is (and I'm not talking about an overarching conspiracy, simply that the corporate elites tend to have similar goals), everything makes sense. Education gets cut because worker drones only need basic literacy and numeracy. The plebs are pushed into debt because it makes them more desperate. Ditto eviscerating Social Security and welfare (and Clinton must take a lot of blame on that one). Keep them desperate, keep them scared, and you can get away with paying them pennies, or a meal or a workhouse bed.

Six Months Smoke Free

About seven months ago, I asked a few DU members about their experiences with e-cigarettes. Most of those who had used them recommended them. So I tried a cheapie disposable (disgusting and lasted about six hours) and it proved that it could work for me. I ordered myself a Tornado V3 kit and some liquid the next day. That was the beginning of April.

Overnight, my 50 a day dropped to 5. Over the next week or so, I cut out the remaining five. April 23rd, I levered myself out of bed, went to pick up my baccy tin and lighter and thought "no, let's see if I can do without".

I haven't smoked a single cigarette since that day. My liquids still have nicotine (although that's slowly going down as well) but I've gone from 3000+ toxins and sucking concentrated smoke into my lungs, to one toxin and huffing flavoured steam. Perfect? No, but much, much better. My breathing is much easier, my sense of smell and taste are back (I hadn't realised how much hot sauce I was putting on everything!), I no longer have to worry about the effect of my smoke on my SO and cats, my SO is overjoyed and my cats much prefer the smell of cinnamon and cherries over the smell of stinky tobacco smoke.

Six months. No smoke. No tar. Just nicotine and a few nice flavours. E-cigs help people quit and I've taken to suggesting them to everyone who's having problems quitting the smokes.

Thank you to every DUer who encouraged me to try this. And Kat, Lily and Cracker thank you too.

Minecraft is really good

It's difficult to explain but think of it as Lego with monsters (although you can turn the monsters off). Beware that you will need the Wiki to get anywhere. The crafting is incredibly deep and complex but there's no tutorial and much of it is counter-intuitive. You can find servers everywhere, I play on the PC Gamer server.

I would also recommend Introversion's Prison Architect. You run a private prison and have to do everything from build the place to staff it to organise supplies. The catch is that you can run the place however you like. If you want to do a prison that specialises in healing, rehabilitation and education, you can do that. If you want a fascist prison that keeps the inmates in line through fear and intimidation, you can do that too. Despite both approaches being viable, it's very, very hard to keep the place running properly and profitable (which may be a meta-comment on private prisons generally).

If you have a joypad (game controller) for your PC (you can play them with keyboard but it's more difficult), I'm a huge fan of Traveller's Tales franchise of Lego games. The basic premise is that they recreate popular movie series with Lego characters. Any violence is just done to Lego bricks who fade out. They're designed for kids but epitomize "fun for the whole family". I'm 38 and love them to bits. The third installment of Lego Batman is out soon.

The venerable Civilization series is now on it's fifth edition and more complex, time-sinky and maddening (in a good way) as ever. You pick a nation, covering everything from the Aztecs to the Iriquois, each with their own bonuses. You start out with one settler, who can found a city. Then you guide the nation to it's future, controlling everything from what gets built (will you concentrate on public education or build a huge army?), political policies, diplomacy, resource harvesting and religion. You can pursue a path of peace through diplomacy and mutual regard, you can raise armies and conquer your way to victory (although it's incredibly difficult to do the latter).

Finally, I'm a huge fan of the Thief games. You play a snarky criminal called Garrett who lives in a weird medieval/steampunk city. You steal things. You do this because it's the only thing you're good at and you need to pay the rent. Now, it is possible to kill everyone in sight and loot their corpses but Garrett is not much of a fighter and the game penalizes you for taking that route. The gold standard is the "ghost run", where no-one sees you or detects your presence and people only know you've been there when they discover their valuables missing.

There's five for you. All except Minecraft are available on Steam (huge online game store/community) for reasonable prices. Hope that helps, and have fun!

the PtB don't WANT to eliminate poverty

A) Capitalism requires some poverty, requires some unemployment, to keep wages low.
B) Much of the country believes that, if you provide funds for people at the bottom, they'll get to like it there. They genuinely believe that making poverty "too comfortable" will stop people trying to do better.
C) Much of the country has been trained to resent anyone getting anything at all in welfare, has been trained to view a penny spent in welfare as a dollar stolen from them personally.
D) Much of the country still thinks in Dickensian terms, that the poor are poor because of some fault of their own, because they drink or take drugs or "don't have the habit of work" (our demonically evil DWP Sec).
E) The PtB is talking about alleviating "extreme" poverty on the fairly safe bet that, if you handle teh people actually starving in the streets, everyone will assume the problem has been dealt with. Anyone in poverty after that obviously doesn't work hard enough. The plebs, in both our countries, have been trained to only ever kick downward, to never question the oft-told myth that it's possible to make more from benefits than working and never consider that doesn't mean benefits are too high, it means wages are too low.

I grew up poor. Being disabled (I'm severely mentally ill and physically crippled), I'm still poor. And I have heard all the excuses, all the moralising, all the resentment. I';m for a national minimum guaranteed income but it'll take a real, blood-in-the-streets revolution before the PtB let that happen.

What DOESN'T draw their wrath?

Obama could have appointed the risen Christ and they still would have attacked him for it.
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