Sunday, April 13, 2008

Designated Experts

Being an expert on something requires a lot of time learning and experimenting in whatever subject that something happens to be. The considerable investment of time makes it impossible for most people to become experts on very many subjects. As a result, we rely on others that have made themselves (or simply declared themselves, in most cases) experts to provide the dumbed-down version on which we base our opinions about the things we don't fully understand. Basically, if a person can convince our uninformed minds that they know more than us by saying something we don't understand, we will just take their word for it.

As an example, let's say someone says they can speak a foreign language that you have never heard spoken. Since you don't know a single word in that language, they could be speaking complete nonsense or just showing they can count to ten...their limitations are not apparent to you. If you happen to travel to a country where people speak that language and use some of the words that you were taught by your designated expert, you might find out they don't know as much as you thought.

So, what if your designated experts disagree on something? Being ignorant of the subject, you are probably going to go with the most persuasive...or the one that doesn't smell like onions. Of course, being persuasive doesn't necessarily mean being correct. It could just mean they know your prejudices, phobias or tendencies.

Okay, another example for warming. There are a lot of "experts" on that subject and they don't appear to all agree (I'm not sure how much of that is part of the smokescreen, I'm not an expert). Unless you have the time, inclination, money and knowledge to do exhaustive research yourself (which would take considerable amounts of each), you have to make your assessment on the subject based on the information the "experts" provide (which also may be based on flawed data). Once again, if the message is repeated enough, a large portion of the population will believe whatever that message is...meaning those that have found a way to profit from the message will spend the money necessary to prime the pump and quiet any opposing "expert".

Taking a slight side trip for a second, why have the major corporations suddenly jumped on the "green" bandwagon? Well, one reason General Electric has "gone green" is that it sells low wattage light bulbs. If they say that replacing your present light bulbs with low wattage bulbs will "save the planet", a lot of people will go out and buy them (they neglect to mention that those bulbs use mercury, which is pretty harmful to the environment). "You don't hate the planet, do you?" Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Kind of like, "You support the troops, don't you?"

It's pretty hilarious to me that these corporate "environmentalists" have convinced a lot of people that turning off their lights for an hour will "save the planet". The premise is that power companies won't have to produce as much electricity using power plants that pollute the environment. Guess what? Those power plants produce as much electricity as they can for the life of the plant, that's how they make money. If you don't buy the electricity, it is sold to someone else, but it is still's a business. You might personally save a few cents using lower wattage bulbs or increase the crime rate in your area by turning off the street lamps, but it's definitely not preventing any pollution.

Ethanol is another thing that will "save the planet"...unless you use a coal power plant to make it, huh? It's like putting paper in the recycling bin and then watching the janitor dump it in with the rest of the trash, isn't it? Not to mention, using a food crop to make fuel, which can't be a smart thing in my mind.

Solar panels are made with toxic substances that pollute the environment.

Biodiesel production can even cause problems.

Of course, since I'm not an expert, I have to rely on other people's, the data could be flawed or manipulated and I would never know.

I don't want to leave you with the impression that I'm against recycling, alternative fuels, conservation of natural resources, organic farming, renewable energy, etc...I'm not. How could anyone be against them? You might as well be pro-cancer. That is the consensus that will be used in the next round of corporate "green" propaganda to steer the true environmental movement in the direction of higher profitability and greater control.

So, turn off your lights for an hour, put in some mercury filled light bulbs, pass laws that force others to conform to the corporate "green" world view and feel good about yourself...or choose your designated "experts" very carefully.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Last week Gerald R. Ford, former President of the United States, died. Ford was appointed Vice President by President Richard Nixon when Spiro Agnew resigned from the post because of legal troubles, he then became President when Nixon was forced to resign in the wake of the Watergate scandal. Ford immediately pardoned Nixon, thus preventing the trial and probable conviction of his predecessor.

Ford was never elected Vice President or President and wasn't successful in his election bid after a fairly uneventful partial term in office (with the notable exception of pardoning an obvious criminal)...he was far from what would be considered a "great" President, but, apparently he was better than the rest of us. Five days of memorial services, bands, twenty-one gun salutes, honor guards and being buried at a museum dedicated to him (of course, he also has a Presidential library, they all do now)...that's a lot of pomp and circumstance for a mediocre President. All of this is actually a "toned down" version of a Presidential burial since he was such a "regular guy"...believe it or not.

Like most politicians, Ford will have as many things named after him as is humanly airport, an aircraft carrier (it's in the works) and whatever else his friends and supporters can manage. Then, his body will rest in the modern equivalent of a pyramid, the grounds of his own museum (Ozymandius must build his monuments). You see, the "elites" believe this is what they deserve...since they are better than the average person. That's what these people have to believe, in my opinion, if this kind of grandiose burial is considered muted.

Without humility, people will govern as tyrants...that's the danger in politicians thinking the way they do. Eventually, they will be tracing their bloodlines to prove their divinity...and immunity to the laws they create for the rest of us.

When I'm being beaten to death by an orderly in a nursing home so that a weapons manufacturer can have a corpse to use for ballistics testing, I'll be remembering every state funeral that my tax dollars funded and wonder if a library dedicated to me would make my passing more pleasant. I doubt I would notice the difference.

Okay, less caffeine, more focusing on positive things for a while...Happy New Year!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Cure for Toothaches

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about raising the minimum wage again after about ten years of having it at its' present level. Simple lesson for those not following along in the textbook...if you raise the minimum wage, the retailers have to pay their employees more, so they raise their prices for goods and services. For those making the minimum wage, the buying power of their check is the same. Anyone making more than minimum wage doesn't get a raise, so the buying power of their check is reduced.

I know that it makes people feel like the government is doing some good, that's why politicians are pushing for make you think they are making things better while not changing anything. Congress definitely doesn't want an angry mob storming the capitol when they realize what the government is really doing.

Okay, for the simple people that are about to write me a nasty note (both of them)...I'll dumb it down some more.

Let's say (for the sake of simplifying) that a combo meal at a fast food restaurant costs the same as what the minimum wage is...for this illustration, let's say seven dollars. Let's raise the wage of the person that makes the meal to eight dollars an hour. The fast food place isn't going to pay its' employees more money without bringing in enough money to make up for the added they either reduce the amount of food in the combo meal (which they would never do) or they raise the price to eight dollars for the meal. If they reduce the amount of food, you will have to buy more to get what used to be included in the meal...which means, either way you are spending more to get the same as you used to get for seven dollars.

For the person making the (now) eight dollars an hour, it still would take an hour of work to buy the meal...just like it was before the price went up. For anyone making above minimum wage, it would take more labor to earn the money for the meal than it used to...reducing their ability to buy things.

What I left out of the illustration is that the employer could also hire illegal aliens for less than minimum wage, outsource the labor overseas or build a robot that can do it. Those solutions would reduce the available jobs (for legal citizens in the case of hiring illegals) and drive wages lower, so, any solution they decide to use will make the situation worse for the average worker.

Raising the minimum wage to help people uses the same logic as punching someone in the stomach to get rid of a toothache. If you're having to think about that analogy, you might want to read this post ten or twelve times before making a comment.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Does it bother anyone else that people play fast and loose with terms? It gets more extreme as time goes guess is that the overstated terms lose their punch as they are used more frequently, so they have to get more outrageous to mean anything over time.

Take the word "hero", for example. Everyone is now a hero. It gets applied in all kinds of situations that are far from heroic. If you go hiking by yourself, don't take any communication device, get trapped by a large rock and have to amputate your own arm using a dull pocket knife in order to save yourself, you are not a hero...lucky to have survived, but not a hero. Any situation where you save your own ass does not qualify as heroic, especially if you got into that situation by being an idiot.

Taking a wrong turn in a war zone, being captured by the enemy and then being rescued a week or two later by someone else does not make you a hero. Call me silly, but not being able to read a map doesn't sound heroic at all. You might use the word "hero" to describe the rescuers, but definitely not the rescued in this my opinion.

I realize those are old examples, this is about my thousandth time being irritated by it so I have a few stored up.

More recently, President Bush (W.), when making a speech praising the capture of some alleged terrorists, said, "this nation is at war with Islamic fascists."

I hate when people resort to the dictionary in an argument, but, in this case it's better to make sure everyone is on the same page. So, from, here's a definition of fascism:


often Fascism
1. A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.
2. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government.
2. Oppressive, dictatorial control."

That definition could apply to several governments that I can think of at the moment, but I don't think that the people Bush was referring to would qualify. Once again, this is part of the "repeat it until they believe it" brainwashing the US government favors in the mass media. It is also, in my opinion, an attempt by the US government to magically turn anyone they want to attack into Nazis and relive WWII in the press...they already have a script for that one, so adapting it would be easy enough.

I'm going to do another thing I hate...quote somebody. Here's a snippet from an essay titled "Politics and the English Language" written in 1946 by George Orwell which you can read here.

"The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable’. The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning."

Mr. Orwell could have written that's worth reading the whole essay.

We are fed a steady diet of meaningless crap that changes interpretations as it pleases the storyteller. Nebulous bad sounding labels are put on anyone that the government wants you to hate and nebulous good sounding labels for themselves. After you've seen the fourth or fifth interpretation/repetition of an event, the cycle is hard to deny.

Of course, television is proof that America loves being told the same story over and over again...hell, movies, books and games too. The audience doesn't want anything new, they want the hot wife married to the goofy husband, the sexual tension between two characters that lasts for five seasons until they get married in the series finale and the smart worker with a dumb boss. It's like television writing hasn't progressed since "I Love Lucy". They want commercials to reinforce every stereotype, men who can't figure out how to wash clothes, clean anything or take care of their kids. It's easier to just let the car steer itself by following the grooves cut in the road, I guess.

History does seem to repeat itself, but the loop is getting shorter...and simpler.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Friendly Robots

I'm getting pretty sick of people falling for every slight-of-hand trick the U.S. government throws at us, so, I'm going to vent for a second...sorry.

As usual, the government throws up smokescreens to keep the populace occupied while they find new ways to screw this case, it's illegal immigration. They don't really want to fix anything, they just want you to demand they do something about it so that they can offer a solution that gets them more of what they want...control and money. If the government starts to suggest doing something that makes sense to you, they've found a way to turn it against you.

One solution that has been suggested for the illegal alien problem, put the military on the border. Instead of giving the Border Patrol the funding they need to do the job, they would love you to beg them to use the military within our own borders...the general population would be next, of course. If you're not familiar with the "Hagelian Dialectic", we are getting a lot of good examples lately...soon, we'll all be experts.

The reason people (for the most part) are sneaking across the border in the first place is to earn what would be a sub-standard wage to any citizen of the U.S. The only people that benefit from that are the companies that pay below what most people could survive on. They'll tell you that no American wants to do the job. What they leave out of that sentence is "for the wages we pay". If the companies that hire illegal aliens were required to pay even the standard minimum wage (health insurance would be nice too) to their workers, they would quickly invent a machine that did the same work so that they wouldn't have to pay. It has abolutely nothing to do with Americans being unwilling to do the work, it's about money...the same reason a lot of the other jobs are being "outsourced" to other countries. It's pretty pathetic when McDonald's looks at outsourcing the minimum wage job of taking a drive-thru order.

Okay, quick fix for this smokescreen, force all companies to pay at least the standard minimum wage to all workers with optional health insurance and retirement plans. See how easy that is? I can't wait to see what kind of robots they come up with to avoid it...I hope they're friendly.

Now, stop falling for this! It was only brought up to get you worked up, just like gay marriage, prayer in school, displaying the Ten Commandments on government property, the "War on Drugs", the "War on terrorism", etc. They have a whole bag of tricks that get all the idiots to march in the street with hand-made signs...wrestling is getting way too predictable (sorry, a reference to a previous post if you haven't read it).

Okay, I had to get that out before I had to hit someone with their own sign. I have to stop talking to people, the stupidity might be contagious.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


You can be, seriously. To be fair, anyone can be fooled, tricked, misdirected, bamboozled or whatever term you would prefer. Face it, it's not really all that hard to do if someone is determined. Of course, I include myself in this unfortunate group. It has happened to me just as much as anyone else even though I make a concerted effort to not be taken in by constructs of those that wish to take advantage of my mental shortcomings.

We are vulnerable for a lot of reasons, some we can control and some we can't. Some of the things we can't control are the limitations of our senses. There are a lot of examples of how our senses can be fooled. My favorite demonstration involves spinning a disk with a black and white design on it fast enough that your brain decides the design has color in it (if you haven't tried it, it's as simple as it sounds). Our senses are limited because our brain is designed to compensate for the crappy data they the digital zoom built into a camera, it works, but can only do so much. Television and motion pictures take advantage of the limitations of our vision, so it's not all bad.

Approximation, that's how our senses and mental processes tend to work. In my opinion, that's why we have the need to categorize gives our brain an easy way to recall information, however flawed the generalizations may be.

In addition to the horrible information our brain receives, the brain's approximations are easily affected by mood, assumptions based on previous experience, sleep, magnetic fields, what we ingest and a whole host of other factors. That's why we build instruments to measure things more precisely. Nothing is perfect though, even the instruments of measurement we create are made using assumptions...sounds hopeless, doesn't it? About all we can do is constantly test our conclusions based on established "knowns" that were created using more assumptions.

In short, don't believe anyone or anything without verification. Test your conclusions constantly and be open to the possibility that your tests or "knowns" are flawed. Accept theories you create until your constant testing proves them wrong...and eventually, it will. Chaos can be a little scary, but, life is chaos...or the system is so large it appears to be. Don't let fear cause you to stop questioning and testing or someone will use that fear against you.

Well, that made the voices

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Group Grade

When you were in school, if you had a similar experience as me, you were probably assigned group projects on occasion. The nature of my degree made group projects pretty common and sometimes the larger part of the overall grade. Of course, not everyone was interested in doing the work or even in learning the skills necessary. These people just wanted the degree, not the knowledge that the degree represents...they were content to let the others in the group carry them.

There are people that live their whole life getting by on the group grade...they're in all walks of life. What is disconcerting is that sometimes (probably more often than I want to believe) they are in critical positions. They aren't exposed until there is an event that they are supposedly qualified to handle where they fail miserably...often causing harm to others.

As an example, the mayor and city council of New orleans, the governor of Louisiana, the President of the United States and all of the associated agencies to those offices following hurricane Katrina. Everyone involved screwed up to the point that people died...I think they have had their exposing event.

You want to believe that people know what they're doing, but, think about the people you deal with every job is completely populated by overqualified genius' and everyone has an agenda. On a side note, have you ever noticed how a CEO will call their company a "team" until the bonus checks get passed out?

As I stated in a previous post, the media (and slower witted people...don't worry, even if they read this they won't know we're talking about them) assumes that the qualities of a character that an actor has portrayed are the qualities of the actor. By the same token, having a job title doesn't mean you are qualified. Of course, these kinds of assumptions are what people that attempt to manipulate others count on. It could be something as innocent as a magic trick or something as deceptive as naming a law that restricts personal freedom and paves the way to a totalitarian regime "The Patriot Act".

Yeah, I've got issues. I just wish there weren't so many things that reinforce them.
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