BEEPS AND BLIPS FROM OUTERSPACE
NYR: AGE OF IGNORANCE
quotation"In the past, if someone knew nothing and talked nonsense, no one paid any attention to him. No more. Now such people are courted and flattered by conservative politicians and ideologues as "Real Americans"defending their country against big government and educated liberal elites. The press interviews them and reports their opinions seriously without pointing out the imbecility of what they believe. The hucksters, who manipulate them for the powerful financial interests, know that they can be made to believe anything, because, to the ignorant and the bigoted, lies always sound better than truth:
Christians are persecuted in this country.
The government is coming to get your guns.
Obama is a Muslim.
Global Warming is a hoax.
The president is forcing open homosexuality on the military.
Schools push a left-wing agenda.
Social Security is an entitlement, no different from welfare.
Obama hates white people.
The life on earth is 10,000 years old and so is the universe.
The safety net contributes to poverty.
The government is taking money from you and giving it to sex-crazed college women to pay for their birth control.
One could easily list many more such commonplace delusions believed by Americans. They are kept in circulation by hundreds of right-wing political and religious media outlets whose function is to fabricate an alternate reality for their viewers and their listeners. “Stupidity is sometimes the greatest of historical forces,” Sidney Hook said once. No doubt. What we have in this country is the rebellion of dull minds against the intellect. That’s why they love politicians who rail against teachers indoctrinating children against their parents’ values and resent the ones who show ability to think seriously and independently. Despite their bravado, these fools can always be counted on to vote against their self-interest. And that, as far as I’m concerned, is why millions are being spent to keep my fellow citizens ignorant."--Charles Simic (NYR Blog)
POSTED 2012-04-02 11:30:41 CATEGORY LITERATURE POLITICS RELIGION SCIENCE TAGS GOP IDIOCRACY ROME IS ON FIRE STUPID THERE IS NO HOPE
EPIC TALE OF A CONQUERING HERO

IN WHICH I FIX
MY GIRLFRIEND’S
GRANDPARENTS’ WIFI
AND AM HAILED AS A
CONQUERING HERO.

"Lo, in the twilight days of the second year of the second decade of the third millennium did a great darkness descend over the wireless internet connectivity of the people of 276 Ferndale Street in the North-Central lands of Iowa. For many years, the gentlefolk of these lands basked in a wireless network overflowing with speed and ample internet, flowing like a river into their Compaq Presario..."

read the rest of the tale at McSweeneys.
POSTED 2012-01-28 09:30:49 CATEGORY FUNNY LITERATURE TAGS EPIC GEEK TENACIOUSD
US POLITICIANS: TAKE ME TO YOUR LIZARDS

So long, and thanks for all the fish

Does this sound familiar?

Ford Prefect explaining to Arthur Dent about why a robot said "take me to your lizards".

"It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see..."

"You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?"

"No," said Ford, who by this time was a little more rational and coherent than he had been, having finally had the coffee forced down him, "nothing so simple. Nothing anything like to straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people."

"Odd," said Arthur, "I thought you said it was a democracy."

"I did," said ford. "It is."

"So," said Arthur, hoping he wasn't sounding ridiculously obtuse, "why don't the people get rid of the lizards?"

"It honestly doesn't occur to them," said Ford. "They've all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they've voted in more or less approximates to the government they want."

"You mean they actually vote for the lizards?"

"Oh yes," said Ford with a shrug, "of course."

"But," said Arthur, going for the big one again, "why?"

"Because if they didn't vote for a lizard," said Ford, "the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?"

"What?"

"I said," said Ford, with an increasing air of urgency creeping into his voice, "have you got any gin?"

"I'll look. Tell me about the lizards."

Ford shrugged again.

"Some people say that the lizards are the best thing that ever happened to them," he said. "They're completely wrong of course, completely and utterly wrong, but someone's got to say it."

-- Douglass Adams in So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

We have a system where people are too afraid to vote for someone wildly different from the status quo simply because of the risk of the vote not counting and someone even worse being elected.The election system, which has a byproduct of creating two dominate parties, is to blame for people making save votes.  There are two mutually exclusive problems we need to solve before getting our nation back in line: Winner-Take-All districts and Single Choice Voting.Winner take all:

The Winner-take-all system reduces the quality and choice of candidates.  Political parties nominate a candidate, which are then included for election.  People vote for those choices and the majority vote wins a district.  So, since a whole district is won by the majority even with a close election, a candidate can win even while not garnering the popular vote.  The system disenfranchises voters by conscripting the votes of people that were opposed to the majority candidate.

This problem can be addressed for Federal and Statewide elections with the National Popular Vote initiative.  I suggest reading up on it since it is the easiest method for election reform since the State Legislature determines how Electoral Votes are divided among candidates.  There is no need for Congress to pass a bill.  Each state can fix the problem.

National Popular Vote disconnects the candidates from the party (therefore you can have multiple candidates from the same party on the ballot) and overcomes the winner take all district problem.  Not only that, it will direct the attention of the political candidates to the proper places (where there is a high Electoral Vote to moderate voter ratio).  NPV also plays nice since it doesn't go into effect until a majority of States have signed up (based upon Electoral Votes).  In addition, there is no fear of Mob Rule with NPV since the Electoral College would still exist.  The people making the individual Electoral College votes still have the choice to go against the grain, against the will of the people, and make the right vote if needed.

Note: I'll have to make a separate dedicated post on National Popular Vote since it's that important for reforming our country.

Single Vote Elections:

The method for choosing two top candidates for a run-off vote when no single candidate initially received a majority vote is the other major reason why people are compelled to make a safe vote time and time again.

Voting for a third party is scary since it makes it possible for the least desirable candidate to win.  This often happens when a major political party splits.  The unsplit party wins since the voter base was divided in the other party.  This reinforces the corrupt two party system we currently suffer.

The solution is Full Ranked Choice voting (aka Preferential Voting with a full list of candidates).  A full ranked choice vote (where the voter orders all candidates for an instant run-off) is the most just system and allows voters to go beyond taking the safe vote.  A voter can order his ballot so that the large party candidates are ordered at the end of the list.  A voter has more liberty with his/her vote and risks nothing by choosing a new party candidate a the first vote.

Full Ranked Choice voting and National Popular Vote are essential for dismantling the massively powerful party machines and making our politics more moderate... more party independent... more just.

Note: As with NPV, I will make a dedicated post on Full Ranked Voting.  It is extremely important.

POSTED 2011-12-04 10:50:00 CATEGORY LITERATURE POLITICS TAGS HITCHHIKERS GUIDE NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE RANKED CHOICE VOTING TOWEL
1Q84: AN IMMENSE DISAPPOINTMENT
1Q841Q84 by Haruki Murakami
1 out of 5

It has become apparent Murakami has lost steam. His stories and style of writing are forced and repetitive, almost to the point of being a symptom of dementia. As with After Dark, 1Q84 has been lackluster and surmounted to nothing more than a waste of time.

I do not recommend 1Q84. Save your money and time (this book is about a thousand pages on poor quality paper and binding... all which way about 30 pounds). The only reason I didn't sell the book to a used book store halfway through was my respect for Murakami... Sadly, the book only worsened to a point of being a vile droll non-story, degrading my almost idolistic worship for the author.

Having finished the book, I have nothing but sympathy for the Japanese readers who read the first release that ended with the 2nd book. Murakami probably felt "compelled" to write more and produce the 3rd book because of the resulting backlash from the critics and readers. Knowing this, the 3rd book is an even more trite supplication that reads like hydrochoric acid sprayed as a fine mist onto your corneas.

In all, 1Q84 appears to be a social experiment in testing the will of his readers. In this work, Murakami has played the role of a literary torturer imposing benevolence on his fanbase. If Murakami doesn't have the desire to write, he should hang up his hat and gracefully bow out instead of creating constipated byproducts like 1Q84.

Still, Murakami has produced some amazing works and I apologize for my overly critical review of 1Q84. His short stories are spectacular and A Wild Sheep Chase is unmatched.I'm not sure why you would want to, but you can get 1Q84 from Amazon.
POSTED 2011-11-20 19:34:35 CATEGORY LITERATURE TAGS FEEL YOUR LIFE PEEL AWAY AS YOU READ JAPAN LITTLE PEOPLE MURAKAMI
MURAKAMI'S SPEECH WHILE ACCEPTING THE JERUSALEM PRIZE
"Between a high, solid wall and an egg that breaks against it, I will always stand on the side of the egg."--Haruki Murakami
Read 1Q84, Murakami's latest novel.
POSTED 2011-11-04 09:48:09 CATEGORY LITERATURE TAGS EGGMEN JAPAN
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