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Member since: Fri May 5, 2006, 06:55 PM
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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.[1]
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, 08:21 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, 09:09 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)

Does anyone have a crazy left wing family member?

One would tend to think that all ideas are fair game and there can be conspiracies on the left and right and therefore among a population with people getting older and more set in their ways, getting more suspicious and paranoid, there should be as many left wing nuts as there are right wing nuts.

Thing is, it just doesn't seem that way.

I'm trying to think about what a liberal nut would have to bang on about. I don't see crackpot left wing chain mails forwarding around. We never had the inaccurate lies about either Bush floating around as we have had against Clinton and Obama. Nobody accused Laura of being a lesbian or Bush orchestrating the murder of a Vice Foster. About the strongest accusation was his election was illegitimate which is a far sight away from calling him a Kenyan Muslim.

Religion isn't exclusively conservative but those are the only ones you really hear about. There's no strong religious left pushing for radical reform like gay rights or political and social reform. All religious pressure in this country is towards strengthening the norms or returning us to an imaginary Christian root which is radical but still on the right.

Alternative medicine is where I have seen the most woo but there's not really exclusivity there. For every macrobiotic hippie I can find you a winger who has equally odd notions. You might not find many republican vegans but antivax cuts across the spectrum.

What's my guess? There's more money to be made from and thus more money put into promoting right wing craziness. Therefore when someone gets older and is more susceptible to falling for bullshit, that's what's there to believe in. And I am starting to wonder at just how much hard work has been put into crafting the conservative message, not just in the mainstream but in crazyland. UN mandates and black helicopters could have been spun as evil corporations but it wasn't. OWS had good points and could have been the springboard for moving from valid critiques to paranoia and conspiracy stuff. It wasn't.

I suppose that you could consider what I'm saying here to be a left wing conspiracy theory, that older relatives going nutty towards a particular political bent is that sort or thing but its only a nutty conspiracy theory if it isn't true!
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Tue Oct 8, 2013, 07:53 AM (116 replies)

Musings on the limits of growth, our economy and our deranged politics

I've heard this idea attacked from multiple angles and it gets pretty complicated so here's my nickel synopsis. Trying to boil down the theses of several books I've read recently, including Graeber's Debt and Heinberg's End of Growth.

Our money is based on debt and debt carries interest and this is incompatible when working within a steady-state or declining system; interest only works in a growing economy.

Imagine we have an economy with ten people. There's a hundred bucks in total circulation. At the start, everyone has ten. I decide to put one of my dollars into an investment. Now if I'm only collecting simple interest, I get $1.05 back no matter how long it takes the borrower to return the cash. Assuming I get the first mover advantage and start accumulating more wealth, there's a certain point where I'm holding a significant fraction of the dollars. If I want my pile to get bigger, I might argue that we should make more dollars for this economy.

But what does the dollar represent, really? It's an IOU to collect on goods and services. There's a maximum amount of useful work any person could perform in life. If you're farming my land for me, you can't give me more than a day's work or seven days in a week. It's just not possible, no matter what the books say you owe. If I'm due a month's worth of work, I'm not getting it out of you in less than a month, likely more if I can't monopolize your time.

Now add compounding interest to this mix. A dollar invested and returned with simple interest is pretty honest. A dollar invested that perpetually returns interest seems like magic. It returns money endlessly for no additional expenditure of effort or capital. But for this to work, the money supply has to grow. The economy has to grow. Otherwise, we quickly reach absurdity.

Think about where inflation comes from. Inflation arises from more money chasing fewer resources. And how does that happen? Because the imaginary economy is growing faster than the real economy. In my ten person economy, let's imagine half of us are investors with our original $10 stake growing into $100 apiece. (Supposing they wrangled an increase in the money supply, beyond the original $100 total.) Each of us is trying to secure the laborers and I must outbid my fellow to attract attention. This drives the price up. But even as my wealth grows through interest, the laborers are left with dollars whose worth is shrinking by the same rate. They are unable to park their wealth in the same investments available to me and my ilk.

But to keep the whole game afloat, we need growth. It can't ever stop or the bubble bursts. Is this not the very definition of a Ponzi scheme, a rigged game that requires a constant addition of new money to pay off the original investors? And the payoff promised for the new investors can only be paid off if more people are added to the base of this tottering pyramid.

The real question regarding growth is whether infinite growth is possible on a finite planet. This is not a question of ideology but of facts and science. And the abundant evidence is that it just can't happen. And what this means is that we need to seriously reevaluate our basic assumptions about economics and finance or else we are going to be seriously fucked. This is going to be as significant of a removing gods and spirits from explanations of how the natural world operates. Our economics is still lousy with voodoo and witchcraft.
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Mon Oct 7, 2013, 11:12 AM (2 replies)

Pop music and sex and silliness

Heard a bunch of people getting in a tizzy about a former Disney starlet twerking on MTV. So glad I don't keep up with pop culture.

I'm not going to venture an opinion on the appropriate role of sex in entertainment.... Oh, hell, I'll give it a go. I like sex, I like the ladies, but when sex is put at the forefront it's just covering up a lack of product. When someone sells me beer based on ladies jiggling in bikinis, that tells me the beer is no good.

American pop basically holds as much interest for me as American macrobrews. It's all Budweiser. I'll appreciate a good American microbrew or something from Europe.

Musically, here's something from Europe. Katzenjammer. It's not often you see a balalaika deployed in public. (Triangle guitar.)

Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Wed Aug 28, 2013, 04:11 PM (6 replies)

I am not transphobic, I hate name changes

Usually celebrities are the offenders. Cat Stevens is now some Islamic name, puff daddy can't figure out what he wants to call himself, snoop smoked a mountain of door and decided to become a lion, Prince becomes an unpronounceable symbol, Saul decides to become Paul. It's needlessly confusing. Istanbul, not Constantinople. Sports venues and famous landmarks being renamed because someone spent money.

Objectively I know these two things aren't really the same and I understand he's got gender confusion problems. But as far as my irritation with the whole thing goes, it has nothing to do with gender and more to do with constant name changing.
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Sun Aug 25, 2013, 12:35 AM (86 replies)

OWS -- where have they gone?

OWS is getting covered on Newsroom and I just finished reading Debt: the first 5000 years. The book is brilliant and frustrating.

I see there's a related thread to read up on here.


Well, it's August, 2013. Where do we stand on the issues?

Our come to Jesus moment should have been 2008. We bailed out the banks and told everyone else to pound sand. Conventional wisdom despaired at us ever getting action on this. OWS came out of nowhere and was amazing. We all thought we were oppressed alone and had no idea how many of us there were if we stood together.

I agree that society needs a monomyth to explain things. Manifest destiny, divine right of kings, mandate of heaven, religious or material world views, everyone needs a way of making sense of the world and doing right by it. We then have hierophants and priests and pundits and storytellers to help make sense of it and tell us why the way things are is the way things should be. The tacit agreement of capital to labor is you get a piece of the action but we keep most of it. It was a big piece and we could be happy with it. The last 30 years have seen what happens when capital renegs. The new deal is fuck you, now shut up. It's harder and harder for people to believe the American dream. As Carlin said, you need to be asleep to believe it.

OWS crapped in the punchbowl and The MSM went into overdrive creating a new narrative to explain things.

These protests seem like mushrooms. Sure, you can remove the mushrooms but the fungus is not gone, it remains beneath the soil. More mushrooms can arise at any time.

The underlying issues have not changed, things continue to get worse but the wheels are somehow staying on the smoking, rattling bus as it careens down the road, a driverless juggernaut.

So, is OWS gone or gone underground? Are things happening that aren't hitting the MSM or blogs?
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Thu Aug 8, 2013, 11:59 AM (44 replies)

Snowden does have to be crazy or ignorant but doesn't mean he's wrong

Someone famous once said a coward is a hero with a wife, kids and a mortgage. There's a reason why they draft 18-yr olds to fight wars, not 40-yr olds.

Talking about Snowden's state of mind to me is like going on about the horse-race aspect of an election rather than the different positions represented by the candidates. Of course, seeing as both candidates work for the same guys, there's not really much difference. Gay-friendly corporatism or bible-thumping corporatism, you're getting your corporatism like you're getting your spam in that Python skit.

It would not be impossible to imagine Snowden as ignorant of the enormity of what he was about to do, not fully aware of the consequences. I doubt Manning imagined what he would be facing when he leaked.

If he was aware of the consequences, then he would have to be a special kind of motivated. He would then be a martyr. He may not yet be dead but life as he knew it is over. Just having convictions doesn't always mean you're right. Timothy McVeigh was a martyr, just as much as your typical suicide bomber.

I don't think anyone in their right mind would volunteer for what Snowden has signed up for. Most of us are sensible cowards.

Just because someone dies for their beliefs doesn't mean we have to condone them. Snake-handling Christians die for their beliefs all the time. Same with Christian Scientists refusing medicine, government-hating gun nuts who go after cops as well as civil rights protesters, activists like Rachel Corrie, etc. It's up to us to decide the worth of the sacrifice, whether it is courage or some kind of crazy.

Ignorant or crazy, it doesn't really matter at this point. What do the facts he leaked say? If someone got away with murder for twenty years and he cheated on his wife and she went to the police with incriminating evidence as the jilted party, do we ignore the crime?
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Tue Jul 2, 2013, 02:52 PM (4 replies)
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