Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Wage Slave (yeah... that's what you are)

Hell, it's been a long time.

Let me say that today I wrote the words "wage" and "slave" on my arms. And it's not because of the traditional vision of a wageslave. I did this out of rage and helplessness or hopelessness. Sadly. But I realized today what it means to be a wage slave.

Not a slave to your boss, but to profit. A profit-slave may be the more accurate term. Today, I had helped this lady on the phone with some data that we sent to her. However, at the end of the (admittedly) long conversation, after hanging up, my boss started to get a little upset, raising his voice and saying how I should have them go through him first, because he has to charge them money for "lost time" that they're taking from me. And I understand his point.

Oh wait, I must mention, that prior to the hang up, the lady on the other end was very nice and said "thank you, you've been so helpful." And it made me happy to hear that, that someone's day was made easier by my help. So imagine how startled I was when my boss had raised his voice right after that. Not only NOT thanking me, but reprimanding me.

I told him, twice, firmly, "Do not yell at me." and he kept with the louder voice... Again: Do not yell at me. He stopped, and we got to the task at hand, which he had initially come to discuss. Now, he left shortly after, and I was ragey by this time, so I punched the table. Crying. See, I get these little "fits"... I have to contain my rage, or it's not pretty, so I hold it in, and then I just cry and let it out that way.

But in that crying, it occurred to me, that here I was, being a human... Helping someone, honestly, and just doing it because it's something RIGHT to do. But then, money becomes involved, and a profit has to be made, which means we have to charge for your time, and it becomes a commodity, and the whole process of human interaction is thus mediated through economic transaction, and it all becomes a game of numbers.

So there I am, realizing that I'm enslaved in my relations with other people during work time to a commodity, earning money, and if I'm not, I'm being "bad" or whoever is distracting me is "bad" because we're not making profit.

And I felt bad for my boss then, because I knew that he was just as much a victim of this as I am. He HAS to think that way because he runs a business.

So, imagine my shock, when he calls me up later, and I grab the phone expecting him to ask me for some information, or have me run something through the computer... And out come the words, "Hey, Dave, I'm sorry for yelling at you earlier."

And I told him it was alright... Because it was by then. I think he felt bad. I felt bad for making him feel bad, which is a pathetic issue I have... This horrid guilt complex I have. Anyways, I had gone from anger to some sort of pity/compassion (a half blend of the two, which is weird to me...)

So, I had ended up surreptitiously sending an e-mail of the file that I had told the lady on the phone from the other company that I was going to send (after initially fearing that I couldn't rebuild it... but after a bit of thought, i figured out a way to do it.)

I sent it, and she thanked me much (this was after her reply to my informing her of my boss's order to go through him before me) Can you say convoluted? Again, it made me feel good. And I was glad that I sorta broke the rules. However, I had promised her this file on the phone, and if I figured out a way to deliver it, I wouldn't feel right not giving it.

I broke the wage-slave cycle by refusing to submit to it's demands of profit (and honesty before the profit machine) because I gave my word to another human and fulfilled that before bowing to Mammon.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Race

I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin. There were exactly three black kids in my high school. Two were brothers. I thus did not have much exposure to people of other races. I did know one lady from church, and her grandkids, as well.

However, due to my lack of interaction, I had assumed that I was not racist. Of course not. My father, yes... he's racist, but anytime he or one of my sisters made a comment, I would proceed to show my disapproval. Then, 1997 came along, and I moved to the "big city," that is to say, Madison, Wisconsin.

Having lived in the city a couple years I noticed that I was a bit racist. More than I would like to admit. But I should clarify that I perceive two types of racism. Both, I think, are rooted in ignorance. Both are very sociologically induced perceptions.

The fact is, however, that the biggest problem with such feelings are that they are just that: feelings.

These are not rational thoughts. Ultimately, these are fears, perpetuated by a society that, whether consciously or not, continues to portray certain images of black people. I use black people here, because this is dealing more specifically with them, however, it could be said that any stereotypes may be held of any race. I am talking here, instead, of my own innate prejudices.

I don't like to admit that I am racist. It's certainly not a nice thing to think of yourself. But honesty is the best policy, no? So here is what I've learned through my experiences in the world...

1) I am a racist.
2) This racism is not a racism of hatred.
3) Instead, there are two types of racism that are held inside of me:
a) Fear: This is the standard sort of racism that most people have. However, I place my logical mind over these fears. For the most part. My understanding of this fear, however, is that it is not merely race based, but also class based as well. In other words, if a black man came up to me with a suit on, and spoke very proper english, and looked intellectual, I would most likely not be intimidated. However, take a stereotypical "gangsta" kid, with the big puffy jackets and hanging pants, especially if he's hangin' with his crew, with all the slang... well, I admit, that I am intimidated. I fear them. This is due to culturally ingrained images of the big scary black criminal. There is also the feeling of being "gamed" when talking to such individuals. The reason this is race based as well as class, is because if I'm talking to a lower class white person, though I am skeptical, I still don't have certain innate biases towards being "conned" by them. Now, due to this fear and reaction that I try to suppress, I come to the second type of racism that I hold.

b) Guilt: The song that Ian McKaye sang with Minor Threat, "Guilty of Being White," expresses this sort of feeling. However, he seems to be angry at those who would manipulate that guilt. I don't do that. I do have a guilt. When I pass black people on the street, I am very very very conscious of my perceptions. And I am also worried about how they perceive me as a white person and how I perceive them. I don't want to notice race, but I do, and I feel horrible that I do notice that. The thing is, I'm a bigot in much more harmful ways towards those that are not black, but rather, Republican/Right-Wing, and yet I don't feel guilty for that. I'm not sure, but perhaps that is because it's okay to hate ideologies, but not innate characteristics?

My understanding of class and race is such that I know better to feel the fear that I do. I do not try to emphasize fear in order to displace blame by saying it's a "natural reaction." It's always important to overcome such prejudices. And I know this is something that I should do with my other prejudices. Now, what I meant to say before, was that my understanding of class & race lead me to see the condition of the majority of black people in this country as related to our social class division, and that it has been rigged from the very beginning. When one is in an environment, it is hard to escape and jump out of it. Unfortunately, too often, when a black person succeeds, they move on into the (white) business world, and rarely move back to the neighborhoods from which they came. How often do they invest in their communities? Rarely. Again, this is just my own interpretation, and facts may prove me wrong. But I believe that statistics do point this out. If I am wrong, please correct me.

Race, however, is merely one part of the "scientific" mind (ie: the mind that divides), and that even though it's irrational, it is "rational" in the sense that it is part of the same process of thought whereby one says "this is this, and that is that. This is not that, and that is not this." This is part of my larger philosophy and understanding of the world, which I shall touch on in future entries. I see this, then, as not an isolated issue of race or class or homophobia, etc... Instead I see a larger process at work which could perhaps be called the process of individuation and tribal solidarity. Again, that's for another time.

I've made my point, and I've got to return to work, so until another day...

Peace...

Sunday, May 08, 2005

"Culture of Life", my ass!

Happy Mother's Day!

The day to celebrate the woman who gave birth to us (unless you, dear reader, were a test-tube baby, but I digress) is a perfect day to post about this topic.

However, despit expectations, this post has nothing to do with Terry Schiavo, per se. Or abortion. But it does have to do with fundamentalism.

Originally this idea had occurred to me during a show I went to in the past year... It was Amon Tobin, Kid Koala, Sixtoo, Blockhead and Bonobo. I was really impressed with Kid Koala, and as Amon Tobin kicked it into high gear, I started to really dance. During that time I began thinking about our culture. By "our culture," I am referring to the electronic music culture.

The ideas of parties and raves and a celebration of life. I was contrasting this with Osama bin-Laden, and thinking of the Taleban's banning of kites. And how their religion is about subservience... that's what Islam means: submission. How they want to make order in strict accordance with their God's laws.

We, on the other hand, celebrate chaos and diversity. We do not need rules. We celebrate life as the force that moves through us all. That we are servents of life, of motion, of dance. They are servents of death, of stasis.

The music that they ban, we rejoice in. It is the celebration of sexuality, of Eros. When I say they worship death, I mean it, not just in the suicide bomber sense, but in their restriction of the erotic.

And their way of life is only a matter of degrees separate from the Christian fundamentalists. And to mention degrees reminds one of the game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon..."

Footloose, the Christian tighty-pants in that movie and their staid policies removing sensuality and fun and life and rock and roll from the lives of these children. It is not much different than the Taleban, except that the Taleban was much more strict. Maybe Afghanistan needed a Kevin Bacon. Footloose 2, perhaps?

We love life, we desire to create to make music, to rejoice and dance.
They love death, they desire to restrain, to abolish the making of anything (in heaven or on earth or in the sea... that is idolotry)...

They say that want life. They oppose "murder". But it's we children of Gaia who oppose the wars that they make, oppose the executions they carry out (even though they have no right to "cast the first stone," as they themselves are sinners), oppose their boring ways.

They want life, except when it's born. Then they couldn't give two shits... Once that baby is born, they don't give a fuck. They're all for life, but not liberation.

Is that really life? Is that living?

No.

Then it can be said that they aren't for a culture of life. They don't love sexuality. They are restrained. They hate sex. They hate the body. They hate the organic. They hate the evolving, growing life that is the earth. They plunder, rape, steal and destroy, in warfare against other people, and against the earth.

They are agents of death. Worshippers of a demon called Thanatos.

Monday, May 02, 2005

On Federalism

I consider myself a Federalist, however, not in the sense of the traditional American view of Federalism as National government, but rather, in the federalism that arises from Anarchist theories of social organization. However, I do not believe in anarchism. I would consider myself progressive and populist. And a de-centralist. In this sense.

One of the things that I work towards a deeper understanding of in my life, is the relationship of the one to the many, the individual to the group, the inner to the outer, the private to the public. All these spheres of organization have a two way power relationship.

Currently our theory of Government (though hardly, in practice, actually implemented in a pure sense), sets up a bi-cameral legislature, which represents in the first part, the people as a whole, and this is the House of Representatives. The second chamber of congress is the Senate. There are two different systems for each of these. The theory behind the House is that the will of the people is fickle, and apt to change. It thus sets a short terms of two years. The Senate, on the other hand, is supposed to represent the States. It gives equal voice to each state, so that the groups that live in lesser represented areas get equal measure to the more populated areas. This assures a theoretical balance between rural and urban. Senators have six year terms. These members are supposed to be wisened elders, and thus stay in longer to keep their wisdom.

In one sense, this is very similar to the British model, where the Senate would be similar to the House of Lords, and the House similar to the House of Commons. Sure, it is more democratic. The Senate is not made up of Landed Gentry, but rather elected by the people (or should more properly be elected by the States, since it is the state they are representing, not the individual).

The version of federalism I have is one that rises to from the bottom to the top. This is dependent in my theory on two houses of representation. In my system, the two houses are the Inner Chamber and the Outer Chamber. The Inner Chamber deals with the internal issues within a particular level. The Outer Chamber acts as a diplomatic arm to the level that's higher up in the hierarchy. The Inner Chamber is chosen directly by the populace. They then elect a smaller number of representatives to the higher level up.

It may be best if I give a better defined example than these abstract "levels". So, let it be... At the very root level, there is the individual. This individual lives in a community: a town, village or city. In a city, of course, things can be broken down into neighborhoods. But let us take the municipal level. Above this, we have counties. And from counties into states. And states into the nation. However, I would add a regional section of a state, between the county and state level. This would essentially be a federation of counties with similar regional interests.

I would also add another level between the state and nation, which would be a federation of states into regions. So, of course, one would have "The Pacific Northwest", or "The Midwest", or "The Great Lakes", etc... Finally you have the highest level in a country, the nation itself. However, even in the nation, there is an outer chamber, which acts as a congress to deal with foreign nations.

I should also mention that these "regions" that I mention are bioregions. Systems of natural habitat and environs that are contiguous in a manner such that they have related interests.

One of the fundamental principles of Federalism is autonomy of the lower level. "States Rights" if you will. The only reason the federal government should enter into lawmaking at a lower level is when it deals with the interaction between two states. This is similar to how the United States deals with many issues. The Federal Trade Commission, which regulates interstate trade of goods, is founded upon this principle, that interstate issues may be regulated by the higher body. However, I would make it so that the lower chamber of the higher body (National Government for example), would need to write such laws, and they would not automatically become law. Instead, this body would then send these laws to their respective representatives home states. This would then travel down the chain to the lowest level that the law would affect, whereupon that lowest level would ratify the legislation or not, depending upon it's beliefs in it's vested interests. More on this topic shall be forthcoming.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

hyperthymia, constitution, and delusional behavior

Awesome synchronicity just now:

I'm mildly hyperthymic now (after yesterdays dysthymia), so i decided to do a little more research on cyclothymia (it's been a while since I read about it). Cyclothymia is a mild form of "manic depression" or more properly "Bipolar disorder". My cycles seem to be less frequent, which is good.

Anyways hyperthymia is a mild mania, the opposite of dysthymia, which is a negative state of mind, darkened, joyless.

I google hyperthermia, and one of the links is a list of psychology definitions (based off the dsm-iv). As I read further down, I notice "delusional" as a definition:

A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that sustained despite what almost everyone else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary. [DSM-IV]
As I'm reading this, the thoughts of all the bullshit happening now in our political system and the theocratic push that's happening, especially with regards to evolution and the "pro-life" push, as well as "activist judges" (isn't it funny how the right takes exactly what they do, and label their opponent as one who engages in that conduct... Judge not, lest ye be judged, for in the manner in which ye judge, so also shall ye be judged...)

Are not these beliefs in opposition to what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary?

So, I had clicked on a link earlier in a metafilter post, and it was open in another tab. I began to read this article by Bill Moyers (already, from the first paragraph, I'm hooked... i recommend it!!!) In it, he says "...one story after another drives home the fact that the delusional is no longer marginal but has come in from the fringe to influence the seats of power."

Exactly what the fuck i was thinking.

how far are we going to go?

this article discusses the "constitution restoration act" the text of which proscribes the federal courts from making any ruling on an agent of the laws "acknowledgement of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty or government."

(Full Text: thomas.loc.gov)

it also has within it, this quote:

In interpreting and applying the Constitution of the United States, a court of the United States may not rely upon any constitution, law, administrative rule, Executive order, directive, policy, judicial decision, or any other action of any foreign state or international organization or agency, other than English constitutional and common law up to the time of the adoption of the Constitution of the United States.

-----

read that again, friends. recently the supreme court ruled against executing those who committed their crimes while still a "juvenile offender". in this decision, they make note of the fact that globally there is a trend in the industrial, western, democracies that find this a behavior that violates standard ideas of human decency. (of course, that's not the legal phraseology :) ) According to this law, if it passed, the supreme court could not apply the constitution in such a way that conformed to modern standards that have evolved over the past century. It would be a frozen, immobile, static block.

these are the ones who hate "activist judges" and yet have people like Roy Moore (who is pushing for this amendment) in their party, and a president and congress that rushes into a last minute session to force the issue of Terry Schiavo to the supreme court in hopes to overturn it... the supreme court refused to look at it. the republican judge who ruled in favor of Michael Schiavo is now being called a crazy by his own party members.

these fuckers are raging, foaming out the mouth, rabid, and completely delusional.

if we hand the world to them, we are 100 percent completely fucked.

but you know what, industry doesn't give a shit, as long as they can make a buck. how much is it going to take before those who hold the wealth itself realizes that these fuckers are completely absolutely fucking bonkers? when will Bill Gates give a fuck? at least Soros is trying. i don't love the guy. he's a cruel fucker who preys on the weak by playing currencies against each other, hoping to make a profit off the backs of those who have lost the most. but, he understands the danger if these people continue their march to power. as long as these super-rich fuckers who run the major industries continue to get paid, and as long as they can forestall armageddon just long enough to make enough money before they die... however the fuck much money that is.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

FDA and reform

When I say that I'm not a traditional leftist, this is one prime example of what I mean by that. I'm talking in particular about the reform of the FDA. Though I don't like all of what the Libertarian Party of the USA(LPUSA) has to say about deregulation, in this one thing, I tend to agree in theory with their view.

The traditional view of the FDA is that it's there to protect us from the big, bad corporations who want to do us harm. This may or may not have ever been true, I'm not going to be precocious enough to presume such a thing. However, there are some current happenings, of which most people are aware, that indicate that if it was the case at one point, it's not the case now.

The latest occurrences of faulty "consumer protection" are the instances of release to the public of pain-killers known as COX-2 inhibitors. The three brands that have been identified with problems are Vioxx, Celebrex and Bextra. Vioxx has been withdrawn from the market. The makers of Celebrex have stated they aren't going to withdraw it, but rather stop advertising for the drug. The insurance company Kaiser-Permanente is not allowing doctors to prescribe Bextra until further safety tests are done.

All information indicates that this class of drugs increase the risk of stroke and heart attacks. Congress is now looking into this matter, to see what exactly went wrong. However, I fear that all they're going to do is essentially add another layer of bureaucracy to this already obfuscatory system, which will not only alleviate problems but just make it even more difficult to correct future failures. It has been shown recently that the FDA has ignored findings of its own scientists. The FDA has their explanations("not published in a peer review journal" is one), and that's all fine and dandy, but the fact remains that there are insufficient safeguards in place.

Further recent issues that come to mind are those of Naproxen Sodium(the ingredient in the OTC medication, Aleve), and Fen-Phen(the combination of Fenfluramine and Phentermine which acted as a weight loss medication). With Naproxen Sodium, we see a similar issue with regards to an increased risk of heart attacks, and Fen-Phen caused problems with heart valves in many patients.

When one looks at the totality of these situations, we see that something is definitely broken with the system. I would never say that we should just let "the market" regulate itself. That's absurd. But as it stands now, the FDA is essentially in the employ of "Big-Pharma". And these issues have no sign of abating for now. George H.W. Bush has been on the board of directors of Eli Lilly, as has Kenneth Lay. There is an incestuous relationship all around. One can, of course, say that this indicates the corruption in politics and money, and not the bureaucratic machinery. But the fact of the matter is that this machinery is intimately tied into the politics and money. Political appointees are placed in high positions in these institutions of social protection, and their job is dependent on feeding at the trough of subsidy money and the whim of the person who appointed them in the first place. The subsidy money, in this case, often comes from the companies they are supposed to regulate in the first place.

So, the question becomes one of finding appropriate solutions. And what is a good solution? To be honest, I'm not sure, but I have an inkling it's something that the left won't like. And that is a sort of breaking down of the machine itself. Not to destroy it, per se, but rather to allow a multiplicity of "consumer rights" groups that can label and review medications. This leads to a more democratic process of information distribution, and opens the door for opposing viewpoints. Currently, if you disagree with the views of the FDA, you are considered a crank, and in some instances, this may indeed be the case. However, there are many times when whistleblowers are blocked out of the process of discovery because of this very perception. I am not saying it is a "conspiracy" as it were, except the ordinary conspiracy of money to further entrench itself into the hands of those who already have enough.

With todays information age, we have the means to distribute various interpretations of data. With the current system, there is one arbiter of right and wrong: the FDA. This seems like a good idea, because it doesn't get all confused with different "facts", however, there are plenty of problems with power being concentrated in one department like that. We on the left say we like democracy, then why are we not calling for a democratic involvement in the public process of safety. We leave it to the "experts" of one institution. But there are many people, with many different views, and I think it would behoove us to encourage a system that allows for this kind of distribution of information.

There are two issues with this that would need to be resolved(at least that I can see): That of the release of test data. And this would require some sort of legal and enforcement mechanism to ensure that no data is kept private from the people(yes, yes, I know, there's a possibility of corruption in that, also). The other issue is making sure that these consumer advocacy groups aren't actually front groups for the pharmaceutical companies themselves.

One other problem with an implementation of this system is the current "big daddy" approach to protection that we in the U.S. have. We have been raised all our lives with being protected by the government, and it is also in corporate interests to have us be good, passive consumers. Opening up the system to a multiplicity of groups would require us to inform ourselves of various points of view before deciding on a proper course of action. This is not what our government and businesses really want.

The final issue that I can see that would need to be resolved is also another big one, and that is the one of advertising. More money is currently spent on advertising than it is on research. That's a disturbing fact. It drives prices of drugs up more, it wastes capital from efficient utilization for medical purposes into producing trinkets for doctors(pens, memo pads, etc...) and adverts in magazines and TV. Doctors then have a vested interest to push one brand of drug over another(even if they say they don't, and truly don't believe they do, there is a subconscious "reciprocation/altruism" factor that arises, which is a very basic, biological function.)

Caps on advertising need to be pushed back into place as they were before 1998. The industry's excuse is that it's "empowering the consumer" to learn about medication, and encouraging them to see a doctor about a potential problem before it becomes larger than it might otherwise become. It sure sounds nice, doesn't it? Don't believe the hype.

We need to figure out a better system than what we have now, because the one we have is broken. One of the biggest problems, I believe, is that the system itself is a totality, and that as long as there remains the incestuous relationship between politics and business, cracking a dent into this system is nigh impossible.

But these are some possible solutions, I think, that may be better than the current system. Your mileage may vary.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Mere ad hominem

Source URL for this article: http://linkfilter.net/?id=73597

Recently, I've had the opportunity to witness a bit of childish behavior on linkfilter

There happens to be a user known as Psychomike who appears to be a hardcore right-winger, perhaps a freeper Now, many of the users of linkfilter seem to be more on the left side of the fence(of which, I gladly consider myself a member)

Recently, psychomike posted a link that claims that the Saudi's are teaching extreme Wahabbism in America, that it's a muslims duty to wage jihad inside America, using surreptitious means if necessary.

That article cites this report from freedom house that has done research into some of these mosques who are receiving financial backing of the Saudi government or associated people(ie: princes of the royal family)

Now, the first thing I noticed is the immediate bashing of psychomike that people did. Saying things such as "Shut up, Psychomike!", etc... There was no discussion of the merits of the article, just ad hominem attacks on the link, due to the fact that it was posted by psychomike, and seemed to have an anti-islamic slant.

One poster noted that his link was to an article on WorldNetDaily, which as you may or may not know, is a right-wing online newspaper. They used this as an argument to discredit it. However, even though this wasn't a direct ad hominem, the fact is that this is still not a logical argument. To discredit a source due to it's potential bias is flawed methodology and will not advance your own knowledge of that which you are researching. It's my firm belief that it's important to read varied sources of information, with an understanding of the inherent biases of said information, and trying to filter out the bias through proper analysis.

Now, I did click on the link, read the article, and read the report that the article was based off of. I wanted to know who "Freedom House" is, and noticed that they're partly funded funded by the Bradley Foundation, which is a right-wing think tank (part of the so called "vast right-wing conspiracy). It is, however, important to note that Bradley Foundation isn't the only source of funding, and that the more liberal George Soros has a part in this organization as well. So, the question then becomes one of bias in the original article, and what methodologies of research were used.

Unfortunately, this is not debated in this forum, and mere ad hominem attacks are presented as logical thought. If the left is ever to awaken to it's true potential again, there needs to be a re-adherence to the principles of reason.

I want the left to be vocal, indeed. I'm tired of them wussing out all the time. However, I don't want them to completely dumb themselves down, and present "common sense" arguments as the be all and end all of a discussion(as much of the right-wing tends to do).

Though I thought it important to discuss the Saudi role in 9/11, and that it's vital to ask ourselves where we stand in in relation to various governments in the Middle East, and how we support their oppression of their people, we must continue to ask hard question, both about our opponents beliefs and our own. That requires looking at cold hard facts, as much as they are revealed to us, and drawing conclusions based upon that information.