"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up."

Arthur Koestler 


Digital Life



I think that a large part of the problems in the US are  caused by centralization. 

Here is what one of my favorite bloggers, Charles Smith said on this.

Increasing centralization has been viewed as the solution for all social and economic problems for quite some time.

 The Eurozone project is one recent manifestation of this belief.

The basis of this belief is rationality and efficiency.

 If we centralize production and decision-making, we eliminate all sorts of inefficiencies. Decisions can be made by "top people," and supply chains can be rationalized from a hopelessly inefficient clutter down to a supremely rational and cost-effective pathway.

Ironically, in eliminating inefficiency and messy decision-making, centralization eliminates redundancy, decentralized pathways of response and dissent.

 Once you lose redundancy and all the feedback it represents, you lose resiliency and fault-tolerance. The centralized system is fault-intolerant and fragile.

The emphasis is Smith's. 

It is not that the market system has failed, it is that we do not have a market system. 

In the Noam Chomsky documentary I posted recently, Chomsky said that maybe a capitalist system would work, but we do not have one. I thought that for a left-leaning guild anarchist to admit this was interesting. 

While I will try not to commit the No True Scotsman fallacy I have blogged about before, this critique of our modern system seems correct, almost Old Testamenty. 

In the system God established for His People, each family had a plot of land that was enough for basic food production. To prevent a reprobate, like the prodigal son in the gospels, from wasting away his family’s future, this plot of land could not be sold, only leased for at most 50 years. Thus there was a limit to centralization. Every 50 years, to a degree, there was a reset. The reason I say to a degree is that dwellings were not returned and grazing land was not owned but held in common. 

Our modern society is filled with excessive centralization caused by both greed and the desire of the government to control the people and their wealth. This control is a lot easier if things are centralized. 

Is the way God set things up in ancient Israel a coincidence? Or is it a template we should consider today? 

I have been a church-going kind of guy for 50 years, yet I have only heard this scripture preached once. And the interpretation offered was laughable. No, these verses are not critiquing the suburban lifestyle. 

Isaiah 5:8-10 from the Message, tells us:

8-10 Doom to you who buy up all the houses
    and grab all the land for yourselves—
Evicting the old owners,
    posting NO TRESPASSING signs,
Taking over the country,
    leaving everyone homeless and landless.
I overheard GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies say:
“Those mighty houses will end up empty.
    Those extravagant estates will be deserted.
A ten-acre vineyard will produce a pint of wine,
    a fifty-pound sack of seed, a quart of grain.” 

One of the most interesting things about this prophecy is that it took over a century for it to be fulfilled. But fulfilled it was. 

No, even as much as it sounds like it, this is not a description of modern America. But as Mark Twain sagely commented a century ago, history does not repeat—it rhymes. 

The prophet continues:

11-17 Doom to those who get up early
    and start drinking booze before breakfast,
Who stay up all hours of the night
    drinking themselves into a stupor.
They make sure their banquets are well-furnished
    with harps and flutes and plenty of wine,
But they’ll have nothing to do with the work of GOD,
    pay no mind to what he is doing.
Therefore my people will end up in exile
    because they don’t know the score.
Their “big men” will starve to death
    and the common people die of thirst.
Sheol developed a huge appetite,
    swallowing people nonstop!
Big people and little people alike
    down that gullet, to say nothing of all the drunks.
The down-and-out on a par
    with the high-and-mighty,
Windbag boasters crumpled,
    flaccid as a punctured bladder.
But by working justice,
     GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies will be a mountain.
By working righteousness,
    Holy God will show what “holy” is.
And lambs will graze
    as if they owned the place,
Kids and calves
    right at home in the ruins.

No, the prophet is not talking about alcoholism. He is speaking of excessive consumption, and the example used is one of gluttony. 

The prophet continues in verses 18-19

Doom to you who use lies to sell evil,
    who haul sin to market by the truckload,
Who say, “What’s God waiting for?
    Let him get a move on so we can see it.
Whatever The Holy of Israel has cooked up,
    we’d like to check it out.”

There are two thoughts here. In verse 18 seems to be critiquing our their whole society that is based on lies. I recently canceled Hulu Plus. The main reason was the ads. I think about these things all the time, yet I find myself influenced by the ads. You will be as well, often without even thinking about it. The reason that corporations buy ads is that they work. I am not saying I will never use Hulu again, I might. But it is far more likely I will just wait for the shows to appear on Netflix without ads. 

It seems to me that Verse 19 is the prophet offering up an obvious objection. It has not happened yet, they say, so it will not happen. Remember that it took over one hundred years for this to happen in history. While Isaiah is not speaking to the US, the parallels are so obvious that I wonder if I even need to comment on them? But I do. 

I have heard the next verse quoted, but always out of context. 

20 Doom to you who call evil good
    and good evil,
Who put darkness in place of light
    and light in place of darkness,
Who substitute bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter!

No this is not talking about homosexuality. I am not saying that calling the sin of Homosexuality normal is not wrong. It is. I am saying that this is not what the prophet is talking about. 

The prophet is talking about preachers like the late Jerry Fallwell—court preachers, court prophets, defenders of the status quo, and prosperity preachers I blogged about recently. Those that speak of our current version of Babylon as if it is a manifestation of God. No, it is a manifestation of a different spiritual being. Should you think that I am saying that many sincere Christians are worshiping a false god? Yes, you should.   

A true prophet is always on the edge of respectability—or way past that edge. Thus it is no surprise that correct and biting social commentary often comes from the "crazies" in our midst. Chomsky may be a good example of this. Society views him as crazy. Glenn Beck is another example, although a flawed one. He alternates between saying things that need to be said, with being a court prophet. This may explain his popularity.  He does not ask too much from his viewers but feeds their presuppositions. So if you decide to watch him, make sure that your bullshit filter is well maintained. Alas, most people have no filters at all. 

Since Isaiah 5 is a song, as was most Old Testament prophecy, it seems only fitting to conclude with a modern musical version of Isaiah 5 by another "crazy."

While I included much of Isaiah 5 in this blog post, if you want, you can do some "homework" and read Isaiah 5 in its entirety. Even if you are not a believer, I feel you will find it instructive. 


Milk Is a Scam

I often post or embed videos with which I disagree. This is one.

Some of the arguments here I found extremely unconvincing. While I think Dr. McDougal made a strong case against babies drinking cow's milk, I am not a baby.

On the other hand I see no reason to use milk as a beverage. Drinking any form of protein, carbohydrate, or fat in a liquid form is in my opinion a mistake. The calories so consumed do not seem to properly signal, at least to me, that I have eaten.

But I see no reason not to eat some dairy occasionally. I do so. I eat Greek Yogurt, as long as sugar is not added. I also use cheese as a way to get my vegetables past my lips, not always an easy thing for a manly man like me.

This brings me to McDougal's final point. It is true that male humans have prostates and seminal vesicles, and this is common mostly in vegetarian mammals. All primates have this--vegetarian or not. Many primates, like us, are omnivores. That is, we eat plants and animal products. This does not fit the template that McDougal is pushing, veganism.

But it does fit the template I am using: eat your fruit and vegetables, add some meat, dairy, and enough fat to keep one satiated.

So while I disagree with the premise of the speaker,I find it interesting enough to embed it here on my blog.


NSA Slow Jam


Quantitative Wheezing

One reason that I am skeptical about a lot of health studies was brought to my mind by an economic survey I read. The survey concluded that a smoker earns 19% less than a nonsmoker. I hope it is obvious that smoking does not cause a drop in income.

Instead someone who smokes, statistically speaking, tends to be of a lower socioeconomic class. If a smoker quits, they will not suddenly change classes. Their net income might go up as smoking is expensive, but not their job description or their class.

Health studies show consistently people who exercise are healthier than those who don't. This seems rather obvious. However it is not clear what they are measuring. It is just as logical to infer the opposite. Rather than conclude that exercise leads to heath, it is just as logical to conclude that health leads to exercise. Recovering from gout this week you can be assured that I did not walk my normal 2 miles three times a week, in fact I did not walk at all unless I had to!

But back to smoking, I think we need to help smokers out by having the government give them income price supports. It seems unfair that they have a smaller income. We need to help. Instead of quantitative easing, which only helps the banks, I suggest a program of quantitative wheezing to help smokers.

This makes about as much sense as our current economic policies.

Note that I am not saying to light up that smoke, nor I am saying that you should become a couch potato. I am saying that you cannot trust the statistics or the health stories you are hearing. They are not reliable. If you want to know the truth you have to look deeper.

So I am using these two examples, just to prove a point ...

I will post the full show this is from next Tuesday, just to prove the point of the large number of videos that are available without watching commercial TV. If you can't trust it, why watch it?