I used to not believe in the death penalty

Those days are over. In fact, there are many cases where there is no doubt the suspect did the deed, and the deed is so heinous that it defies logic to spend any money on warehousing the criminal.  Emmanuel Aranda, for example. I would gladly open his skull, and I see no compelling reason to warehouse him. Home invaders? Summary execution. So many kinds of cases. The Charlotte cop who just killed a man who complied with her orders? Shoot her in the heart with the same gun. All of those who would initiate violence unjustly. Death is a fitting reward.

Build the 3rd Temple AND annex Palestinian territories. Do it.

It’s the only fucking way to actually give Palestinians back some power. Make their ghetto, no-man’s-land a part of Israel proper, and then give them voting rights they never had, before, as a consequence.

That’s the actual gambit. It’s meant to dazzle and explode the brains of idiotic and/or opportunistic Jews who break the law cuz “Gawd told me it’s mine.” Give them EXACTLY what they want, and correctly calculate that, even if they see what the logical implications are for the actual improvement in the situation of Palestinians over time through civic engagement, they cannot not take the bait. They can’t not do it. They’ve been fighting to do it for years and years and years and that train won’t be turned around.

Welp, their book does say “by way of deception”, and so it is. And the 3rd Temple? NOT having it is the only thing that empowers pre-tribulation Christian horseshit. Pre-tribulation interpretation of the Bible is erroneous theology, but holy shit, there’s also no stopping that train. All you can do is pull the trigger on their End Times machine and watch as absolutely nothing happens. What could they possibly do about it, then? Well, like the Jewish settlers, nothing.

It is the only way to end this stupidity. Pull the trigger on it and watch as hilarity ensues, and not supernatural warfare.

I went to Chichen Itza years ago. It’s a fake, and apparently that’s kind of an open secret.

Our tour guide, George, was himself of Mayan descent, and an indigenous person who earned enough money whilst on the reservation on the Yucatan Peninsula to buy himself a proper Mexican Social Security number and status as a real human being, and not merely an animal, which is how the indigenous Mayans are treated by the Mexican authorities.

He explained to us that do-good German society people and the Church pretty much cobbled together many of the “ruins”, and his facts are accurate. Even according to orthodoxy, the pyramid was “discovered” by a German architect, who paid the natives to bear him on a litter through the jungle, where he found “the site of a torn down pyramid”, where not one stone stood atop another. The German architect proceeded to “rebuild” the pyramid with the “available stones” to its “original form”. That’s a convoluted way of saying he made it up and had the training to build a pyramid, anyway, as an architect. You have to kind of be an asshat to not be able to extrapolate that. I’ll chalk it up to gullibility and motivated reasoning, but mostly it’s due to the fact that the authorities lie you to directly about it, to this day.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Go there, yourself, visit the Pok-ta-pok court and the stellae, where a fanciful carving suggest that people from all over the world, including Europeans in suits of armor (!) came to watch the famous ball game. Uh huh. It’s an open secret. It’s right there, and apparently rude to “take it away from them”. I think that’s horseshit. They are stone-age people, just like indigenous folk all over the world, and they already have dignity, unless you think they don’t and thus you need to make up a back-story for them. But if you do think that, then you don’t really see their dignity, but seek to cover up what you perceive as shame. Man, fuck you all for being so stupid and shallow. How many other “historic” sites, the world over, “discovered” by the Church, are merely inventions?

Tell the truth or die in a fucking fire.

Probable Misreporting Of Just-Released 2019 Social Security Trustees Report

[Sure enough, the news block in which this article was contained was populated with exactly the kind of bullshit this article predicted. This was the only headline in the block that didn’t scream SS armageddon. Why don’t I trust the professionals in this country, or anywhere else? Because primary programming (self-advancement) seems to actually trump every other motivation. Bet on it and never be disappointed.]

The Social Security Board of Trustees has just released its annual report to Congress. If past reporting is an accurate guide, it will be misreported.

Thanks to decades of a billionaire-funded campaign to undermine confidence in Social Security, the Trustees Report will likely be greeted with cries that Social Security is going broke. The truth is that Social Security is in strong financial shape.

The just-released Trustees Report shows that Social Security has an accumulated surplus of roughly $2.9 trillion. It further shows that at the end of the century, it will cost just 6.07% of GDP. That is considerably lower, as a percentage of GDP, than what is spent today by Germany, Austria, France and most other industrialized countries on their retirement, survivors and disability programs.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Unsurprisingly because Social Security’s income and outgo are projected out so far – three quarters of a century – the Report projects a modest shortfall. (This is a much longer valuation period than private pensions use and even than most other countries use for their Social Security programs.)

According to the new report, Social Security is 100% funded for the next sixteen years, 93% funded for the next 25 years, 87% funded over the next 50 years and 84% funded for the next three-quarters of a century. There is no question that Congress can raise enough revenue to eliminate the projected shortfall. Indeed, we can afford to expand Social Security.

That brings us to the second misreporting we are likely to see. Along with that modest, unsurprising shortfall being the cause for breathless media reports about supposed collapse, the report will be greeted, again if past experience repeats, with lamentations from many observers that Congress has no plan to address Social Security’s projected shortfall. That is incorrect.

Democrats have specific concrete plans that they stand behind. They plan not just to ensure that all promised benefits will be paid in full and on time for the foreseeable future, but to address our nation’s retirement income crisis by increasing Social Security’s modest benefits.

It is only Congressional Republicans who have no plans – at least that they are willing to publicly embrace. That is perhaps because (given that they reject requiring even the wealthiest to pay more) their preferred “solutions” involve benefit cuts, which areoverwhelmingly opposed by voters across the political spectrum, including Tea Partiers and the most conservative Republicans.

Democrats are moving forward with their plans. The Social Security 2100 Act, introduced by Rep. John Larson (D-CT), is one such bill. It has 203 cosponsors in the House of Representatives—over 85% of all Democratic representatives. Larson has held several hearings on the bill and intends to bring it to the House floor this spring.

Several other bills to protect and expand Social Security benefits have been introduced in the House and Senate, and nearly every 2020 presidential candidate serving in Congress is a member of the bicameral Expand Social Security Caucus.

Again, it is Republican politicians who have no plans that they are willing to stand behind. Not only has not a single Republican this Congress cosponsored any of the Social Security bills introduced by Democrats nor introduced one of their own, they appear to be standing in the way.  No one believes that the Senate will act – once the House has passed a bill expanding Social Security, while restoring it to long-range actuarial balance.

Notwithstanding that none of the bills have Republican cosponsors, they are totally bipartisan – at least, by the measure that matters most. As divided as the American people are over many issues, we are not divided about our deep support for Social Security. Support for Social Security expansion, and opposition to benefit reductions, cuts across ideological divides. An overwhelming majority of Republican voters, according to poll after poll, support Democratic proposals to expand Social Security.

Just last month, on March 21, the Pew Research Center released a poll showing that 68% of those identified as Republican/Lean Republican believe that Congress should make no cuts to Social Security whatsoever. A year ago, in the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections, Public Policy Polling found that 56% of those who voted for Donald Trump and 55% of those who identify as Republican would be more likely to vote for a candidate who “supported expanding and increasing Social Security.”

Furthermore, a 2014 National Academy of Social Insurance surveyfound that 80% of Republicans believe that Social Security is more important than ever; 72% of Republicans responded that they “don’t/didn’t mind paying Social Security taxes;” and 65% of Republicans agreed that “we should consider increasing Social Security benefits.”

And this bipartisan, consensus view of the American people is the right one. Social Security is a solution. It is a solution to our looming retirement income crisis, which threatens the retirement of so many of today’s working families. Social Security is a solution to the increasing economic squeeze on middle-class families, a squeeze which jeopardizes the economic security of all generations. And Social Security is a solution to the destabilizing and immoral income and wealth inequality, which has resulted in a handful of Americans richer than Midas, while most Americans find their economic security crumbling. In light of these challenges and Social Security’s important role in addressing them, Democratic leaders – and the American people – are asking the right question: Not how can we afford to expand Social Security, but, rather, how can we afford not to expand it?

Republican politicians are standing in the way. For those for whom Social Security provides basic economic security now or promises to do so in the future – that is, virtually all of us – what we must do is clear. In 2020, we must make our voices heard. Those office seekers who support expanding Social Security and restoring it to long-range actuarial balance must be voted into office. Those who don’t should be retired. Fortunately, for them and thanks to the rest of us, they will have their Social Security to fall back on.

[https://www.forbes.com/sites/nancyaltman/2019/04/22/probable-misreporting-of-just-released-2019-social-security-trustees-report/#4d1edb996e73]

DUNE AND RELIGIOUS APPROPRIATION

“All science goes back to something that we believe because we believe it. We believe it because we believe it and we have no proof for it. It’s like a religion.”

Anyone who has read Dune won’t struggle to believe that those are the words of Frank Herbert. The celebrated American author has made a career of cross-pollinating his literature with themes of religion and science and none of his work does it with quite so much vigor than his infamous Duniverse.

Beginning with the 1965 novel Dune, Herbert delivers a poignant examination of religion, mysticism, politics, ecology, science, sociology and humanity through the futuristic lens of a feudal interstellar society that exists thousands of years into the future. His story revolves around a young noble boy called Paul Atreides who is caught up in the political rivalry over the control of the most valuable commodity in the universe (melange/spice) but ends up becoming a prophet to an oppressed people looking to take their freedom and land back from tyrannical powers. Now forgive the rather basic summary of the plot of Dune— there are of course far more narrative twists and turns that I could talk about, but for the purpose of this piece I’m going to focus on the religious influence on his prose and characters.

dune

Herbert was raised Catholic before converting to Zen Buddhism, but there are several religious theologies including Christianity, Judaism, Navajo and Islam he has appropriated in the novel or reworked to create new religions that play a significant role in the evolution of this feudal society. More often than not, religion is used as a weapon by authorities to keep people, planets and the universe in place and allow the few to control the many. The superpowered sisterhood of the Bene Gesserit is among the worst culprits. For centuries, the matriarchy has engineered various religions to include myths and prophecies of their own design in order to utilize them later for their own gain. The Bene Gesserit did this to the Fremens and it is their religion that takes center stage in the book and most closely borrows from Islam.

For this desert-dwelling race, whose home is on Arakkis where the spice is farmed, Herbert mixed elements of his adopted Zen Buddhism (several of the epigraphs are his own version of Zen riddles/koans) with Sunni Islam in order to create their religion. The Fremen are thus descended from Zensunni Wanderers, a religious faction who, according to the Terminology of the Imperium, broke away during the Third Islamic Movement from the teachings of Maometh, also known as the “Third Muhammad.” It is because the Zensunni escaped from slavery and persecution to Arrakis that the Fremen people, through a collective religious resolve based in ecology, were able to survive the treacherous climate, evade the capture of the Emperor’s forces and make the planet their home.

Much of the Fremen language is laced with Arabic (the language of the Quran) and Islamic terminology too. “Auliya” is the Arabic word for “saints” and in the Duniverse it means “the female at the left hand of God” or “God’s handmaiden” in the Zensunni Wanderers’ religion. “Ulema” is another word with Arabic origins as in the book it refers to a Zensunni doctor of theology while in reality, it is the name for a Muslim doctor of the science of religious law.

Paul, of course, has a Fremen name with origins in the Arabic language too. In the novel, “muad’dib” is a mouse admired by these nomadic people for its ability to survive in the desert and the young hero adopts it for himself. “Mu’adibs” in real life means “teacher” in Arabic, which is, of course, an apt title for Paul who becomes not just a teacher to the Fremen but a prophet too.

Many readers have likened Muad’Dib to Muhammad, the founder of Islam and it is obvious why. Muhammad was exiled from Mecca by the Quraysh, a powerful tribe, after preaching that there is just one God (he called Allah) compared to the many gods believed to exist in pre-Islamic Arabia. After finding sanctuary in Medina, Muhammad united his followers and many tribes under one religion, Islam, and together as Muslims, they took back Mecca. In Dune, Paul is run out of his home and threatened with death but escapes to the desert and soon enough he and his mother Lady Jessica, of the Bene Gesserit, secure their safety within the Fremen community by exploiting the Messiah legend that her order had put in place.

Like Muhammad to Muslims, Paul becomes a prophet-like figure to the Fremen and under his leadership, they take back control of Arakkis as well as the entire universe. However, this religious power comes with severe consequences as Paul knows that if he leads the Fremen rebellion against the Emperor it will trigger a mass genocide across the Imperium. Herbert again uses Islamic terminology to describe this massacre, a “Jihad,” which in modern times is more closely associated with terrorism and the extremists who manipulate Islam to justify their destruction. Herbert, however, wrote this book in the ‘60s, so jihad had a slightly less loaded meaning. Khalid Baheyeldin makes this point in an article on the subject.

“In Dune, ‘Jihad’ is described as Holy War,” he writes. “The contemporary stereotype of Jihad in Western media conjures images of planes crashing in buildings, or young men in suicide bombing missions. However, in Dune, ‘Jihad’ is given more of a realistic meaning: struggle for justice against oppression, a fight against evil by the masses, even by rebellion or armed resistance. The Harkonnen and the Emperor’s Sardukar are seen as oppressors, and the Fremen (especially the Fedaykin), use armed resistance against them. This is labeled by Frank Herbert as ‘Jihad,’ and is very close to the real meaning of the concept.”

Herbert does not, therefore, seem to be using his appropriation of religion, Islamic in particular, to portray the various theologies in a bad light. In fact, many readers of the Islamic faith have enjoyed his work. “None of my friends or I came across anything offensive, even the more conservative ones,” Reddit user amifufu writes. “Rather we found it interesting to see how a culture we are familiar with influenced Herbert’s universe. It’s not something you see very often.”

dddune_1.jpg

Others, however, that by creating a Lawrence of Arabia figure in Paul, he is using Islamic culture to perpetuate a white savior narrative. “Herbert relies on the fact that you don’t know Arab Islamic history to lend the story exoticism and fantasy,” writes Zaina Ujayli. “Add that their prophesied savior is the son of the colonist extracting Arrakis’ resources and you have Orientalism at its finest.”

Maybe they’re both right. Yes, Herbert does appropriate Islamic tenets and terminology to create his own brand of fictional religion, but the people who practice it, at least in the first book, are the ones you are rooting for. They are the equivalent to the Resistance in Star Wars, the heroes when so often Islam is associated in pop culture with the bad guys. However, when the Islamic prophet of Muhammad is seemingly white-washed into the image of Paul Atreides, Herbert is still guilty of creating religious appropriation in his text.

Paul is part of the dominant society and he and his mother use their powers to manipulate the religious beliefs of a disadvantaged minority culture to their own advantage. The fact that we’re going to now see this play out on screen in a new movie by Denis Villeneuve, with no Arab or Islamic actors playing the main Fremen roles only perpetuates the issue.

In the end, Dune is a 50-year-old book in which Frank Herbert borrows a large amount of material from various theologies, cultures and even other sci-fi novels (check out Sabres of Paradise) in order to write. Yes, he appropriated religious ideas, but it wasn’t to put them totally in a bad light. In fact, Herbert was critiquing the messianism of science through the Bene Gesserit and their psychology powers just as much as the messianism of Paul by the Fremen. As Timothy O’Reilly, author of Frank Herbertwrites, “It is too easy to see messianism as something that happens only to desert peoples like the Fremen. Less immediately apparent is the fact that to Herbert the neurotic use of science in modern Western civilization betrays the same pattern as messianic religion.”

Herbert didn’t like the idea of being trapped in the box of absolutism that both science and religion champion and Dune was his way of using each belief system to hit that home. “Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense,” he writes in Book Three. “But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.”

Well, I believe in that.

[https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/dune-and-religious-appropriation]

5-year-old Michigan boy calls 911 asking for McDonald’s, officer picks up order

WYOMING, Mich. – A 5-year-old Michigan boy had a craving for McDonald’s but his grandmother was sleeping so he called 911 and made a request.

WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids reports Iziah Hall of Wyoming asked the dispatcher April 14 “Can you bring me McDonald’s?”

Dispatcher Sara Kuberski says she told him no but reached out to police. Officer Dan Patterson stopped at McDonald’s and picked up an order on his way to check on the home.

He says when he arrived the boy asked him to leave because “grandma’s gonna be so mad.”

[https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/5-year-old-michigan-boy-calls-911-asking-for-mcdonalds-officer-picks-up-order]

Lil’ Dicky’s “Earth”, Corey Booker’s “Unity”

It’s so sad that it’s funny. The, uh, smash-hit “Earth” says nothing. Nothing at all. Essentially it tries very hard to say one thing that everyone can agree upon, but if you look closely, no one even agrees with all of the messages in it. “Germany, we forgive you”? I mean, what? Oh, did Germany need forgiving? Who is “we” who are doing the forgiving? On whose authority? What the fuck are you even talking about? Oh, I see. You love the earth. Well, good for you, everybody. Maybe next year we can all rally around I Like A Good Bowel Movement or something else that is so universally acceptable that to say it is to say nothing at all.

Corey Booker’s message of love and rising above acrimony and tribe isn’t taking. Sorry, Corey. You picked a party, now you’re stuck with a whole group of people who don’t really stand FOR anything so much as their own political ascendance, but rather focus on what they are against. You can’t fix that. They are where they are, and you can’t make people grow up or stop projecting and externalizing their own insecurities and unexamined emotional and psychological bugaboos – the motivation for their activism.

We’re not that complicated. We seem to just find it very, very difficult to allow ourselves to see what is only obvious. Ignorance is not bliss, however. I mean, unless bliss looks like unrelenting tribal, political anger.

I don’t think our species is ready, at the level of distributed, species-wide intelligence, to let us fix any of this, though. It is the one who is in control, and I don’t call it god, because I am an atheist and hold no belief in the supernatural. We evolved to vie and fight and strive, and as ugly as all of this is? It’s really about as good as it is ever going to get for this species. Meaning that if we tame our wildness and overcome being language-bound and tribal, we will no longer really be the same animal, anymore.

We have some issues to overcome as a species, I think

Generally, I start from the premise that existence is a kind of truth, and we exist, and thus what we really are and how we are really biologically programmed to behave is a kind of truth, but we have precedents for dealing with problematic, true things. Pissing oneself comes to mind, immediately. Sure, this urge is natural, but do any of you feel cheated for having been potty trained?

Well, our cognitive hygiene is something we rarely consider, if we ever consider it at all. It simply isn’t part of the public discourse, because the concept itself appears to be a stranger to most people.

And I’ll just go ahead and put it out there: the desire to shape our image in the minds of others is a losing game. It’s a bullshit game. Have you ever heard of Reader Response theory/criticism? You cannot presume to know how to make people think of you in a certain way, and worse, you cannot both actively pursue intellectual autonomy and an authentic life AND be engaged in spinning, constantly trying to control things that aren’t even yours to control.

Be yourself, and if there’s nothing there, then create something individual and unique, under your own power. And let people either like you or not, and do not let it matter too much. In case you haven’t noticed, the law protects individuals. Lean on that. Understand why it is that this is encoded in law, read history and philosophy, and if you want a real kick, read the history of Western philosophy.

I mean, you kids DO know that open borders are a Right Wing dream, don’t you?

You can have a welfare state or open borders. Pick one. If you pick open borders, you get a huge, new work force that will underbid you, every time. Great for owners of capital. Not so great for anyone else. But if you applied just a little rigor, and mixed in just a little fucking vision with all of your empathy, you’d know that. Your inability to be honest with yourself – ostensibly for fear of discovering you may be wrong – is a major liability.

You are not your mind or the contents of it. You do not have to defend beliefs and ideas as if they are YOU. You are you, and you are more of a process than a static set of ideas. Make the process a robust one, and be the one in the room who has made a friend of truth. It may cost you the rest of your friends, but if so, fuck ’em. They were never actually any good, and now you know it.