Friday, June 23, 2017

America Sucks!

Our culture is obsessed with...

Bathrooms. Gender. Immigrants. Vaccines. GMO's. Crime & Violence.

If I were to do a poll of the top trending posts on my Facebook feed, all of these would easily populate the top 10.

But why?

We know statistically that sexual assaults of minors primarily occur in three places. The home, daycares, and churches.

We know that many of the causes of gender variance (beyond the obvious norms) are biological and genetic in nature. We've known this scientifically for half a century or more. Yeah some of this is just people being weird (but who cares???!??), but most of it is not.

We all recognize immigrants in our family lineage, and statistics show that immigration is not a burdensome drain on resources or a significant source of crime. We KNOW this.

Vaccines allowed us to take diseases that our immune systems could not ameliorate in 500 generations, and ameliorate them in less than 10 generations. Sanitation played a huge role too, but far from the only role.

GMO's are just the latest in a centuries-long trend of genetically modifying food for our benefit. Norman Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize is personally responsible for saving perhaps a BILLION lives through his work. Ever heard of him?

And finally, the sentinel fear factor. Crime & Violence. We have less of it today than ever before, no matter what your feed tells you.


The problem I have with all of this isn't necessarily the arguable details of the above. We can have many conversations about and nitpick the above assertions, which are nonetheless broadly true.

The problem I have is that these topics are now front and center of our national priorities. And this is a signal to me, of the beginning of the end of a culture.


Post World War Two America was a uniquely powerful and fertile period in our countries long and storied history. Perhaps it was the ONLY uniquely powerful and fertile period in our countries long and storied history, but I am old enough to truly remember this.

This period of innovation in science, engineering, social justice, and quality of American life....stopped. It stopped in my lifetime.

That period of American pride and manifest destiny waxed on philosophically by your parents and grandparents is demonstrably OVER. It's done. We have gone from a period where the United States led the world in every sense of the word, to a period where the United States leads the world in almost no sense of the word.

China is building the worlds largest Hydroelectric power station, with output of 22,500 MW. And they have an economy growing at 10% a year. They've poured more concrete since 1990, than the U.S. has since 1900. They are poised to pass us by in aerospace dominance within a decade or so.

That plane you hop on to fly from city to city in the U.S.? Was designed and built in Brazil, the third largest aerospace power in the world. When American's think of Brazil, they think of Carnival, girls with huge asses in bikini's, and "that's just some third world hell hole". American's are stupid. :P

Russia builds the rockets that WE USE to deploy satellites and send cargo and crew to the International Space Station. America established and created the largest aerospace agency in the history of mankind, NASA.....and now we're buying rockets from Russia.

I could go on and on with other damning statistics, but given many of my other posts on this topic I'd feel like I was beating a dead horse bringing them up again.


That isn't to say that Brazil, China, and Russia are utopia. Far from it. But it is equally true to say that worrying about where people take a shit isn't exactly conducive to our social and ethical dominance either.

Out of the 400 wealthiest individuals in the world, about half live here in America. There are a whole lot more than two countries, so that's impressive. And yet we rank in the 30's in infant mortality? Out of the top 10 in education?

Why are we worried about often nonsensical things when we have crumbling infrastructure, entire cities with poisonous water supplies, healthcare and education costs spiraling out of control to the point where no one can afford them, environmental damage and consequences our own Department Of Defense recognizes as alarming that our own government does not?

We tend to blame all of this on politics and politicians. And indeed this *IS* the doorstep we should lay the problem at. Government and governance exist just for these kinds of broad issues. But is it that simple?

Politicians do not come here by passing through a membrane from an alternate reality. They come from American families, American Churches, and American Schools. And we vote for them.

We did this to ourselves. And we won't be able to do anything at all about this until we recognize that we are our own problem.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Beating a dead horse with Snapchat

So it looks like Snapchat is in trouble again, for being "insensitive".

This time it appears to be because they've opted for a rather ridiculous filter to celebrate women in science, that also gives them digital eye shadow and smooth skin.

It does seem a bit much. Too much with the eyes! :P And unnecessary. But........

Hello?!???!?!?! This is Snapchat. Not the National Association of Women.

Snapchat doesn't exist to solve world problems or to be a "voice" for our culture. It's an app, predominately used by women (70% of the base), to send pictures and short videos. And yeah lots of goofy filters. It's the grownup equivalent of buying pointless shit for your house in Nintendo's Animal Crossing. :P

So now this story is making the rounds of online news and social media. But is it relevant? Does it matter?

As a man you'd think I'd leave such an issue alone, as it doesn't really impact me. Or does it? Last time I checked about 50% of the earth's population are women. Having an opinion about a woman's issue is at least in part having one about an issue of the human condition. So hear me out.

Social media makes it a bit easier to get carried away with linear thinking, and it certainly can become an easy avenue for expressing that thinking. Too easy at times. It can become a reality distortion field.

"The squeaky wheel gets the grease" is a corollary to a simple truth in human behavior. People expressing outrage (whether justly or unjustly felt) are louder than those who are not outraged. They usually get more attention and feel empowered by it. It tilts the discussion. While that's no bad thing, that is rarely where solutions lie. And the overall truth usually resides somewhere between those extremes.

People can be convinced, rather easily, to value things that have no intrinsic value. That's a given. Just like the time Penn & Teller got hundreds of people at a green rally to sign a petition banning water, WATER! Granted, they did engage in "lying by omission". But that was easy. All they had to do was rely on the fact that NO ONE WOULD QUESTION a position that fit with their notions. Even of those notions are demonstrably retarded or naive.

People can feel victimized even when they're not being victimized. People instinctively rally behind ideas, because belonging to something usually trumps reason. We're social primates after all. I won't pretend that our culture doesn't have a load of work to do in leveling the playing field between the sexes and how they are judged. Indeed, any attentive student of history can realize that culture itself exists to amplify the otherwise rather subtle differences between the sexes merely for the sake of social order.

Seriously though. There are bigger fish to fry than Snapchat filters when it comes to equanimity between the sexes, something I feel is intrinsically way more important of a concept than mere equality.

People pounced on this perhaps because it's EASY, not because it's terribly relevant.