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Member since: Fri May 5, 2006, 06:55 PM
Number of posts: 1,857

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On dissipating the future impact of malicious psychopaths, a story premise

Imagine we have invented a chronoscope that allows us to see the future. Imagine that we are able to learn who will be the next Adolph Hitler, the next Ted Bundy, the next Dubya Bush.

Would it have been ethical to shoot Hitler in the head at age 16 for pre-crimes against humanity? What if consensus says no? What, then, to do with him? The best path would have been to call up the dean of the art school that wouldn't let him in and convince them to reconsider. Just imagine how beautiful those paintings would be, each one representing tens of thousands who who would no longer have to die. Of course, removing Hitler just clears the way for some other charismatic type to take the opportunity. Perhaps his outlet would be music school or perhaps a comfy and lucrative VP slot in a bank that carries no real responsibilities. There's talk of the banality of evil. It's not just that but the context of power. My girlfriend has relatives who are minor nobles back in Africa. They live here in the States in a modest house but they have thrones in the living room and want to be seated at the high table at any event they go to, be addressed by titles, and treated with a deference and respect they have not earned. It struck me how laughable they are here in the States. They have no power over me. Put them back home and with the power the family had fifty years ago, surrounded by young men with machetes and guns, they would be terrifying. Charlie Manson in jail is just a crazy old man. Charlie Manson on the outside with followers who would do whatever he ordered them to, that's terrifying. And really, what's the difference between your crazy right-wing uncle who says all liberals should be shot and the dictator who actually has the liberals shot? A death squad, that's all. Sure, there's a combination of ruthlessness and opportunity that puts a dictator in the position to have a death squad in the first place but I think that's less of a gap than we might imagine.

I look at today's inexplicably successful, the Justin Biebers, the JJ Abrams, the Lil' Wayneses and imagine that such a device might already exist, that there are teams of dedicated humanitarians seeking to find our most dangerous future psychopaths outlets so that their dark furies might be spent yelling at people in reality shows rather than signing death warrants in future totalitarian states. I think it's a fun guessing game to imagine the monsters we're preventing these people from becoming by remaking them into celebrities. Would Simon Cowell be a murderer, a dictator, a great swindler? What greater evil was Rush Limbaugh steered away from so that being a poisonous radio host is a fair alternative?
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Fri Apr 11, 2014, 12:18 PM (2 replies)

Where do your rights end and mine begin?

"The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins."
Zechariah Chafee

I think that's pretty sound in principle. If someone's behavior isn't harming me, it's none of my business. Two homosexuals want to go at it, none of my business unless they're noisy, same applies to heterosexuals. That's reasonable. If they're having sex on the front lawn, that's indecent behavior, same goes for a heterosexual couple or anyone parading around in the buff.

The kicker seems to be imaginary wrongs. I can prove a harm if a neighbor is dumping motor oil in the backyard or burning tires or running a meth lab. There's a code violation if he fills has backyard with livestock or turns his house into a daycare. But imaginary wrongs, that comes down to faith. Blacks in the neighborhood lowering property values, the mere presence of gays threatening to increase incidents of homosexuality among the children, there's no more factual basis to those beliefs than religious dietary laws. Show me the scientific test that indicates this steak came from a kosher-slaughtered cow and that steak came from a halal-slaughtered cow. Ok, with property values there might be a drop due to hysteria, the same as if people stop shopping at a business rumored to be owned by a witch but that's just ignorance.

If your identity, cultural or religious, is predominantly about who you hate, you are fucked. You have nothing to offer the world. The only positive contribution you can make is dying childless and letting your ignorance follow you to the grave.

What I think is being missed here with people in these debates is the question of public and private behavior. Nobody is legislating that you have to like people. If you don't like gay sex, don't fuck someone your same gender you don't believe in divorce, don't have one. If you don't like black people, you don't have to be friends. That's private. But in public you have to suck it up.

The one difference, I think, is between customer and proprietor. You don't have to shop at a given store but if you do, they're obligated to serve.
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Thu Feb 27, 2014, 02:59 PM (8 replies)

Chrysler Olympics ad so god damn American stupid

I don't know who the actor was but he's making fun of Europeans taking a month off in August and Americans being so driven and smart. We went to the moon and brought a car and left it with the keys because we're the only ones going back.

This makes me want to punch Lee Iacocca in the soul and he's not even with the company anymore.

Anyone else see this bullshit?
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Fri Feb 7, 2014, 10:06 PM (9 replies)

What I learned today about celebrity pedophiles

If you want to get up to anything hinky with kids, you need to be a famous director. Woody and Polanski have made this clear. The Lost Prophet's frontman should have been a director and not a musician. Unless you're as big as the King of Pop and even then he had to go to court. So maybe musicians should live in countries without extradition treaties.

Murder is easier to get away with. Even a B-list actor and sports celebrity can kill two people and get away with it. But I wouldn't advise OJ do anything sexual with kids. He's not famous enough to get away with it.

And near as I can figure, you can abuse all the drugs you want as a celebrity without any legal consequences. But if you OD, that's your own damn fault.

There's a sliding scale for sexism and racism -- you can get away with it if you're charming enough about it -- but antisemitism never goes over well. Tom Cruise is just as crazy as Mel Gibson but not antisemitic. Important lesson to be learned here.

But the other takeaway: you really can't mess with the IRS. See Willie Nelson and Wesley Snipes about that. They didn't know how to cheat on taxes all legal-like. It's called sheltering if you do it proper.

For all other mortals who are neither rich nor famous, you better watch your asses.
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Tue Feb 4, 2014, 03:29 PM (13 replies)

Rich people don't create jobs; customers do


It's a great read. The basic point is the boss always goes on about how he isn't running a charity. That's right! He's not going to employ people when he's not turning a profit. That's charity thinking. So he may start a business but if people aren't buying, he's folding.

The comparison made in the article is a tree. The seed didn't become a tree all by itself. Without the right soil, good air and sunshine, it's going to sprout and put forth its first leaves and die. So yeah, you couldn't have the tree without the seed and the DNA inside but you also can't have the tree without everything else.

One other point about businesses. They aren't in the business of providing jobs unless its for idiot nephews. They are in the business of being as efficient as possible. Anything that sheds jobs and maximizes profits is fine. If they can get rid of every American worker, they'll do it in a heartbeat.

Businesses are about creating jobs every bit as much as they are about paying taxes: they want to do as little of it as possible, use every trick to avoid it and regret every dime spent on it.
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Sun Feb 2, 2014, 12:40 PM (12 replies)

The Ukranian protests are known as Euromaidan


The Euromaidan (Ukrainian: Євромайдан, literally "Eurosquare" is a wave of ongoing demonstrations and civil unrest in Ukraine, which began on the night of 21 November 2013 with very large public protests demanding closer European integration.


That it all.
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Wed Jan 22, 2014, 01:31 PM (5 replies)

Has PBS really come to this? Deepak Chopra infomercials

I tend not to watch PBS much. Saw them doing a fundraiser the other day, the usual pledge drive stuff. But this time it was different. Usually they're just going on about arts and news and their programming and offering tote bags and DVD's of the shows for pledges. Well, this time they had on Deepak in the studio and were banging on about how wonderful it was to have him involved and would keep cutting to canned infomercials about his line of woo products. $150 value, plus membership on his woo website. They'd cut back to him and blather on a bit more, then cut to the infomercial.

I'm already offended that PBS is airing full-length, standard commercials in their primetime segments but this really takes the cake for me. This is a step far, far beyond where they've been before.

Anyone else miffed or has this become so common it doesn't even register?


"As Deepak Chopra taught us, quantum physics means anything can happen at any time for no reason!"
—Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth

Deepak Chopra is the most visible public proponent of "mind-body" woo and alternative medicine. He is also a writer of New Age/self-help spiritual books, that say things like "Look around you at the beauty of the Earth...Wooooo!" and "Look into the beauty of yourself...Wooooo!" Chopra sells something called ayurvedic medicine, which is apparently traditional Indian medicine filtered through the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and mixed with bad "physics" in order to treat the dangerously low levels of money in Chopra's wallet.
Chopra is a favored contributor at the Huffington Post, and was one of Michael Jackson's sketchy friends.
Almost anything can be cured if you rub enough woo on it, especially if you likes you some quantum woo. If woo alone won't do the trick, it means you've forgotten to put on the Yanni CD.
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Mon Dec 30, 2013, 07:21 AM (23 replies)

This is how special interest evangelism fails (sexism)

I've avoided most or the shit-flinging threads. I'm starting from sexism but it goes further than that. Here's what it boils down to, fundamental question:

Are you trying to change minds or bust skulls?

You have an issue you are passionate about. You feel that a portion of the population is on the wrong side of it. So, are you seeking to educate and inform to persuade or are you looking to exorcise your own demons? Are you looking for punching bags?

Some people will be jerks. Some people will hate gays, other races, women, the fat, the thin, other religions, etc. You can't reach these people, only contain the damage. You didn't win over racist southerners, you desegregated and guarded the kids.

But when someone is doing wrong out of ignorance, not malice, does attacking them do anything good?

Some evangelists are so interested in scoring points and doctrinal purity that they aren't spreading the word, they're spreading poison and squandering sympathy for the cause.

This failure mode is not unique to any one particular group: any special interest can succumb to it. This is a common human failure.

So when you are tempted to bandwagon or dogpile on the latest offense, please ask yourself what you're really going to accomplish. Is this doing any good?
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Tue Dec 24, 2013, 08:09 AM (34 replies)

A part of me wants to see a default, just to prove the GOP is crazy

But another part of me thinks this is like being on the Titanic and wanting to hit an iceberg, just to prove my contention that the captain is running the ship too fast too far north.

When does this country hit bottom and realize we've got a political problem? The GOP is crazy and the Dems aren't helping.

But hitting bottom doesn't always mean you rebound.

Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Tue Oct 15, 2013, 02:37 PM (2 replies)

Polarizing wedge issues, how many are inherently left vs. right rather than arbitrary?

The whole left/right thing gets to be a bit silly. The real world is full of color, even the most well-meaning of philosophies can reduce it to mere shades of gray, and the dull-minded and rigid try to posterize that down to black and white.

At it's most basic, politics is a way of deciding who gets what and how. It's one step up from just bashing each other over the head with rocks to determine winners and losers. In any political system, the conservatives will be the ones happy with the status quo, those who are on top. The reformers will usually be the ones who feel they have a raw deal. And if soever fortunes are reversed, so, too, are the political leanings.

If we look at at the Stalinist take on communism or national socialism, we see philosophies that arose from what are considered opposite sides of the political spectrum but have arrived at the same end state. I doubt the interns of a stalag would find much to differentiate it form a gulag. A bullet in the back of the head from a communist's gun feels about the same as from a fascist's.

Here's one take on the political spectrum as circle rather than line. You go far enough to the left and far enough to the right, you end up meeting in an ugly place.

Given that our society is running with the left/right framing, any given issue is going to be placed in one camp or the other. It will either be championed by one side and so the opponents will naturally flock to the other or it will be campaigned against actively by a side and thus defenders will go to the opposite side.

Given that the GOP base is white, it's natural to pander to them and support racist policies. When the Democrats abandoned Jim Crow, the Republicans swooped in to take up the cause. It gained them a lot of support. Democrats never really seemed to want to embrace gay rights but gays knew they'd have no traction with the Republicans and so picked the lesser of two evils. With a lot of arm-twisting, they were able to make the Dems take up the cause. Funny thing, though, the libertarian side of the right thinks sexual orientation isn't anyone's business but they don't have a strong enough voice to affect the party's platform. It's an inherent contradiction in their base. Likewise, the religious types are crusading against pornography and self-declared cultural filth even as the billionaires who fund the party have made their fortunes off of those very products.

What kind of amuses me is that nannystate is usually a critique levied by the right against the left for what's seen as social engineering even as they are blind to their own efforts at social engineering, i.e. banning abortion. It's the same kind of cognitive dissonance that sees defending segregation as simply a matter of states' rights while the DEA stomping over legalized pot is perfectly fine.

So, what sorts of wedge issues do you think could have gone either way? Gay rights, for example, could never have been taken up by the GOP. Nutrition, healthy lifestyle, anti-GMO crusading, that well could have become a religious issue if things had gone differently. Corporations could well have turned to the Democrats to create political opposition. It's pretty easy to see how wholesome foods and healthy living could be packaged with the Christian message and become as strong of a culture war issue as sex and abortion.

Can you think of any other issues that could have gone differently just as easily?
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Wed Oct 9, 2013, 05:36 PM (0 replies)
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