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Treating Meniere’s & Its Symptoms

All about Meniere’s Disease. Updated periodically.

When I’m questioned about why I’m retired already, or when someone airs doubts like are you really disabled? the subject of Meniere’s disease is bound to surface. It is bound to surface because Meniere’s disease is the answer to both questions. If you just stumbled across this article on my blog and want to know what is Meniere’s disease? I’ve never heard of it. I can understand that feeling. I’d never heard of it before its symptoms wrecked my life.

Continue reading “Treating Meniere’s & Its Symptoms”

The Electoral College Explained

The Electoral College was designed to reflect the popular vote. A popular vote that depends on who is allowed to vote, and for whom.

For those of you who missed history class, or for those of you who don’t obsess about politics and elections on a regular basis, I offer this primer on the way that the United States picks its presidents and vice presidents. It is a method of selection like no other in the world. A needlessly complicated and arcane practice of voting for people who will vote for the people who will run this country, and we go through all these hurdles because of slavery. We call the result of that convoluted process the Electoral College (EC) and it still exists today, long after slavery is a thankfully distant memory.

Slavery? I hear you asking. Yes, slavery. Don’t take my word for it, look it up. Or you could just listen to this episode of NPR’s Throughline.

Throughline – The Electoral College – October 15, 2020

The EC has a long and troubled history. The EC wasn’t even in the first draft of the Constitution. James Madison, who wrote the majority of the document, claimed he preferred direct election of the president by the people, but instead wrote into it that congress was to select the president. This mechanism was deemed too prone to intrigue by the members of the constitutional convention, and was seen as crippling the independence of the executive branch by making it reliant on congress. At least two of the original attendees of the convention favored direct popular election of the executive, but this idea was sacrificed even before the writing of the first draft of the document in order to make inclusion of the slave states palatable to the Northern states.

There was one difficulty however of a serious nature attending an immediate choice by the people. The right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of Negroes. The substitution of electors obviated this difficulty and seemed on the whole to be liable to the fewest objections.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The historical fact of American slavery is something that the defenders of the EC should take heed of. The numerous slaves in the Southern states, slaves that the Southern slave owners and state representatives wanted counted as people for the purpose of apportioning representation, would have skewed the college and congress towards the South, which the North objected to. The South wanted slaves counted as people, for the purpose of representation, but not counted as people, for the purpose of profiting off of their slave labor. The impasse over the problem of representation in the legislature and at the voting booth threatened the entire constitutional convention, much like the problem of slavery threatened the possibility of American independence, not to mention the continued existence of the Union itself in 1860.

It was the invention of the three-fifths rule, a rule that counted each slave as three-fifths of a person, that allowed for a compromise on representation, and through that a compromise on the election of the office of president. Changes have been made to the EC along the way from then to now, but the essence of the college itself remains the same as it was back in 1787; and that essence is a safeguard against factions having an undue sway over the selection of the President.

The concern was not that the people would pervert the process, but that the factions, the parties, were to be guarded against. This was the paramount fear in the minds of the crafters of the Union. The EC was part of the whole package of division of powers, allowing for the will of the voting population of each state to be carried directly to the then new capitol. The preservation of state power was what the EC was designed to protect, enhancing the ability of sectionalism to thwart the corrupting influence of faction.

Faction almost immediately took hold anyway.

Some states reasoned that the favorite presidential candidate among the people in their state would have a much better chance if all of the electors selected by their state were sure to vote the same way—a “general ticket” of electors pledged to a party candidate. So the slate of electors chosen by the state were no longer free agents, independent thinkers, or deliberative representatives. They became “voluntary party lackeys and intellectual non-entities.”Once one state took that strategy, the others felt compelled to follow suit in order to compete for the strongest influence on the election.

When James Madison and Hamilton, two of the most important architects of the Electoral College, saw this strategy being taken by some states, they protested strongly. Madison and Hamilton both made it clear this approach violated the spirit of the Constitution. According to Hamilton, the selection of the president should be “made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station [of president].” According to Hamilton, the electors were to analyze the list of potential presidents and select the best one. He also used the term “deliberate”.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The 1800 election saw the fears of faction take form for the first time. The Jefferson/Adams split and the resulting confusion of a tie vote for Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr in that election lead to the first changes in the EC creating the running mates system that is still in use today.

The 1824 election, the first election in which the popular vote mattered, was the second time the EC failed to produce a president. Once again the House of Representatives was forced to debate and vote on presidential candidates, eventually electing John Quincy Adams, the son of John Adams, to the presidency. This so infuriated the winner of the popular vote in 1824, Andrew Jackson, that he broke with the party of Jefferson (Democratic-Republicans) to create the Democratic party, a version of which still exists today.

The formation of the other half of the two-party factional control of the United States government came about with the election of Abraham Lincoln. It was with the election of Lincoln that the regional Republican party graduated to the national stage. Lincoln is one of four presidents who won the office while not being on the ballots in every state, and the only president to win the office while not being on the ballot in more than 5 states (he was not on the ballot in ten of the eleven slave states) he did win the EC successfully, probably because the slave states of the deep South were already pulling their support from the union and actively engaging in dissipating federal power to the several states so as to strengthen their own hands in the coming war that they were actively conspiring to start.

The electoral college is the only one where they choose their own masters.

Abraham Lincoln, Team of Rivals pg. 630

However, the EC was set up to reflect the population of the United States as a whole. It achieved this through tying a majority of the electors from each state to the number of representatives from each state in the House of Representatives. Each district of the House being determined through the arcane process of census and redistricting, the seats apportioned based on populations within geographical regions. One elector for every seat in the House of Representatives plus one for every Senator. Add in the three electors for Washington D.C. (the same number of electors as the least populous state) and you have the number of electors in the current version of the EC, 538. It is supposed to return results that roughly equates to the vote of the majority of the population of the United States, and has done its job pretty admirably right up until the twentieth century when Congress short-circuited the representation metric that the founders set up.

How did the House upset the metric? They crafted the last in several sequential measures that set the number of seats in the legislature. The membership of the House of Representatives has been kept artificially low for most of the modern age. the number of representatives was fixed at 435 in 1911 and has remained at 435 as the population of the United States has grown exponentially. This has lead to an ever-increasing number of people represented by a single seat in congress, a ridiculous number of people that the framers would never have envisioned as acceptable. The original minimum population per house seat was 30,000; but the current representatives for the House each represent about half a million people, at least, with the higher population districts containing about three-quarters of a million people.

This is important, because this is how you get to the point where a candidate can win by well over a million votes in the popular election, and yet lose the election by electoral count. The EC is rigged against the popular vote being reflected in the makeup of the college, because the electors are not properly apportioned to the populations of the various states. For that matter, the House of Representatives no longer serves its function as a direct representation of the people, because it too is not apportioned correctly even though it was set up specifically to serve this purpose.

If the House of Representatives was allowed to grow again, as it did throughout the history of the United States, we would end up with a House that was made up of several thousand people. This may sound like a radical change to you, increasing the size of the house, but we’ll get a better representational cross-section of America if we do this and thereby end a lot of the talk about disconnected Washington politics in the process. Will it be more difficult to get important work done? I doubt that it can get more difficult than it is already. I think we will have to find that out first hand. Keep this point in mind.

So we have this thing called an Electoral College that votes for our president for us. The EC is forced to vote for the party that controls the states who appoint the electors who make up the college. These faithless elector rules were recently upheld by the Supreme Court. The size of the EC is kept artificially small because of the size restrictions set on the United States House of Representatives, resulting in neither the House or the EC reflecting the thing they were supposed to reflect, the numbers of people who live in different areas of the country, directly.

Party/faction controls everything in the United States today and nothing can be done without one of the two parties holding a majority in both houses of the legislature both in the several states and in the federal government. Even if the parties manage to hold both houses, the president from another party can still keep the nation at a standstill if all they control is the presidency itself. One man who keeps the United States from doing its business both at home and abroad.

It is damnably unfortunate for the sane people who live in the United States that the Republican party is demonstrably insane, and is being led by someone who either does believe or pretends to believe insane things. It is even more unfortunate that the Republican party has rigged the census and the districts that are currently in effect to favor their insane party leadership.

It is of small comfort to the 240,000 COVID dead Americans that the current governmental travesty is not even the first time in twenty years that this kind of miscarriage of justice has occurred. If the system worked as it was intended, then as a general rule the electors would reflect almost perfectly the will of the people who vote in a presidential election. But the system is being held hostage by parties that see their interests as more important than the interests of the population as a whole, even the populations that they are supposed to represent directly. They hold all the keys to the power that supposedly resides in the people themselves, and we have to take it back from them while we still have a country that is worth saving.

These parties/factions will stop at nothing to get into power, that is the reason that they exist. The reason that they were created in the first place. Party has replaced intellect and reason. We have become a nation of political face painters with no more understanding of the systems that supposedly rely on our input than our pets understand the workings of a can opener. Idiocracy was too real to be funny. The Trump presidency has proven this to me several times over now. The parties tell us to wag our tails, and we wag away expecting to be fed, never understanding that we could work the mechanisms ourselves if we simply stood up and used the political voice that is guaranteed to us by law.

The thing I learned from listening to that episode of Throughline that I linked earlier is that the EC was almost removed from the constitution by amendments twice in our history. Once, when the changes in 1800 were worked out, and the second time when we almost got George Wallace as a president instead of Richard Nixon (Now, there is an alternative history that I’m glad to not be in) As recently as 2018, Elizabeth Warren and other notables have called for the elimination of the EC. Fixing the election system is doable, if only we make it clear that what we want is everyone to be included and everyone to be heard by someone who represents them.

The EC has failed to do its job. It has failed to justify its inclusion in the fabric of American society, three-fifths compromise notwithstanding. With the 2016 travesty in the rear-view mirror it becomes painfully obvious that we either must amend the constitution to remove the EC, legislatively render it toothless in every state legislature in the US, or modify the structure that dictates its size and representation. One of these three things must occur. Several states have already passed the legislation mandating the popular vote outcome.

Video from National Popular Vote! National Popular Vote! What It Is – Why It’s Needed

If we cannot render the EC toothless legislatively, and if we cannot amend it out of the constitution replacing it with the direct election of the president by the population of the United States, then what we have to do is the easier thing that I alluded to earlier. We influence our representatives to do the thing they can do for us and themselves, and it’s part of the job we send them to Washington D.C. to do in the first place. They should legislate an increase in the size of the House of Representatives, and through that increase negate the corrupting influences of faction and money.

What the study and report above shows is exactly what I said. The imposed limitation of 435 members placed on congress by congress itself is the limiting factor for gaining more influence over our representatives, for gaining an equitable voice in electing our president. This is one of the easiest things to fix, and it would fix the EC at the same time. With one simple bill introduced in congress we could increase the size of the congress and reduce the numbers of us per representative. We could make the representatives more focused on communicating with their much smaller groups of constituents, and be much more replaceable by those same groups.

A constituent base of 30,000 people means that my specific region of Austin would have their own representative in congress. A larger congress would be impossible to control externally by factional politics. It would lead to the formation of regional parties and a dilution of power in Washington D.C. We’d need to build facilities to house the additional several thousand representatives, which will be a windfall for the states and Washington itself. I don’t see how this works out as bad in any real way.

So rather than paying more money to influence my congressman, vying for influence with dollars I do not have, I propose we pay the congressmen less money and multiply their number by about a magnitude. Require them to listen to us if they want to keep their jobs. As a bonus, the EC will increase in size and we won’t see a repeat of this last election again. Pick one of those three options and work towards it, if you want to save this country from itself. 


Editor’s note. This is an update to the 2016 piece that I wrote anticipating that the EC could be made to do its job when Donald Trump had appeared to win the EC vote, even though three million more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton. I expected that a majority of EC members would rebel and cast their votes for some other candidate rather than either of those two. I would have taken John Kasich at the time. At least he had a working brain, unlike Trump, and wasn’t hated by every conservative in the country, unlike Hillary Clinton. My hopes were dashed and there was no rebellion. The sheep that were put in place to vote for their parties nominee bleated, and we got President Donald Trump for four years.

I have now updated the update again, and moved it forward in time from it’s first publish date March 22, 2019 @ 6:54 am. I like this version better anyway.

Featured image is Howard Chandler Christy’s Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States which replaced a screencap of washingtonpost.com – How The Electoral College Works

The Two Party System

On the Dan Carlin Facebook group, a former moderator of the old BBS posted this little tidbit of a text string,

The real issue is not to that trump and Biden are the same, it’s that their differences don’t matter.

If you lived in Gaul or Hispania or Bythnia or Alexandria, The correct answer to Marius or Sulla is neither.

The corruption on display by Biden and Trump cannot be fixed by Your Guy.

Disempower DC. Let Oregon be a progressive. Let Mississippi be conservative.

It is the only hope to prevent the violence that will not be worth it, even if you win.

nmoore63, The Ponderous Right-Winger

We go way back, Nick and I, as if in saying “way back” you mean quiet but firmly militant enforced tolerance of disparate beliefs that are violently at odds under the surface. Kind of like the various ethnic groups kept together under the pressure of a dictatorship, now released to tell each other what they really think. Of course, I had to respond to this tasty bit of bait.


The belief that Biden is corrupt is where you stumble into the bullshit. There is no proof, none whatsoever, that Biden is corrupt. Even if there was, he hasn’t been a tax cheat all of is adult life and Trump has. He hasn’t defrauded his contractors since the 1980’s and Trump has. Joe Biden isn’t a racist, and Trump is. Joe Biden isn’t a populist, and Trump is.

Trump wants to be Marius or Sulla, a Caesar or Tsar, except Donald Trump doesn’t have the balls to do the work. Joe Biden isn’t even trying to be a dictator, so making that comparison with him is pointless.

The list of differences is nearly infinite. I have zero patience for people who want to pretend that Biden is the same as Trump or that the Democrats are the same as the Republicans. They aren’t. The similarities between Democrats and Republicans ends at the point where the parties have both inserted themselves into the framework of the country and shouldn’t be there. After that point, their goals diverge, as is demonstrated on a daily basis.

Republicans want to keep voter turnouts low, because that is what has worked for the oligarchy in the past, and they are the oligarchs that profited from discouraging voter turnout in days gone by. Over and over the points add up and the Republicans are the ones who are responsible for most of the problems today, because they took on those problems when they invited the Dixiecrats into their fold.

In four years the story may well be different. But as long as the Republican party remains the racist, fascist creation of Donald Trump, I will be a Democrat. The problem is Trump and his supporters, not the Democrats and the rest of the human race. If you don’t understand this point by now, you probably never will.

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I get it. I really do. You think that the states can go it alone if we only let them have a free-er hand. That is your anarchist beliefs talking. Anarchism is a dysfunction of the mental processes, it is not (not) a philosophy. If it was a philosophy there would be more to it than just believing you should be free to do as you please. The Zero-Aggression Principle (ZAP) or whatever your particular flavor of anarchism amounts to is not a philosophy. It isn’t a philosophy because aggression among humans is unavoidable.

In the end, when words fail, it comes to force. Anyone (anyone) who has lived long enough to raise their own children knows this fact. If they deny it, they are lying to themselves and to you. You doubt this? Your child is running towards the street and oncoming traffic. Do you stop them before they get run over? If so, you have used force to get your way. You have aggressed against your child. So much for anarchism. So much for the ZAP, it was zapped by parental concern. As it should have been.

So here you are, willing to use force to get your way, and you want me to believe that you won’t use it to get your way in most other situations where you think you’re right. You’ll use force, if that is what it comes to. This is human nature, and I’ve had a lot to say about the subject of human nature in my many years of blogging.

When this country (the United States) started there had never been any government quite like it before in history. There was Greece and it’s Athenian direct democracy, and then Rome and it’s vaunted (but largely powerless) Senate. But there hadn’t been a new government formed that was based solely on the words written on parchment.

A solid majority of the people who migrated here were aware of parliaments, but those nations they came from had kings and other forms of nobility that held the power. The American colonies were the first to fall to the new ideas of the enlightenment, followed closely by a few other countries that were most remarkable in their spectacular failures than they were in their successes.

The ideas of faction were nascent then. Poorly understood, loosely equated with political parties of the time, a thing that the founders of the United States wrote about in the most ominous tones. But even they fell into factions shortly after the first election that gave us George Washington. Factions that were firmly in place by the time that Thomas Jefferson unseated John Adams and became the third president of the United States.

Faction, it turns out, is unavoidable. But that doesn’t mean that we have to encode factions into the body politic. We don’t have to suffer them dictating policy on the whim of their supporters, reversing from election to election. We can remove them from the system, just like has been done in California, the only state that has so far done the work that needs to be done to divorce government from factional infighting.

How is this done, you ask? Jungle primaries and representative districts that are drawn by a non-partisan commission. That is how it was done in California and it will work in every state in the United States if the people of those states would agree that was what they wanted. So we take over the Democrats, because the Republicans are already off on a fool’s errand of vanishing returns, and then we make the system sound by passing state legislation that ends gerrymandering, institutes jungle primaries and mandates public financing for all elections.

With those measures in place every dollar that gets into a representatives hands from outside the government will be criminal and prosecutable. Their parties will be largely irrelevant aside from the issues the party represents. Whoever best represents an area will be the representative because there won’t be a corrupting influence involved in drawing the districts. It’s a long haul, but we can do it. We can do it forty-nine times (or fifty-one, or a hundred and fifty-one) if that is what it takes, because we, the Democrats, will have the majority. We will have the majority and we will maintain the majority for as long as the Republicans continue to pursue a vanishing, white, evangelical electorate.

For Republicans to win in the nation these efforts will create, they will have to actually change. There is little chance of conservatives ever embracing that liberal notion.

The Battles You Choose

Maddow speaks to AOC last night on her news program.

MSNBCRachel Maddow ShowRep. Ocasio-Cortez Warns Of Severe Fallout As Trump Rejects New Covid Relief – Oct 6, 2020

In that clip, and in other segments in the show, Rachel and her guests seem to be incapable of understanding what it is that Trump and McConnell are doing right now. She uses the phrase politically inexplicable several times. This is an incorrect assessment.

Telling Americans and their representatives in the House and Senate of the legislature that they won’t get coronavirus aid until after Trump’s SCOTUS nominee is confirmed is politically explicable, if you understand that the Republicans are fighting on a different battlefield than the rest of the country is fighting on.

The battlefield that the Republicans are willing to die on is the battlefield where they turn the United States, through control of its courts, into a Christianist country perfectly aligned with the prosperity gospel dogma espoused by their evangelical base. The dogmatic anti-abortion hordes that were created by Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority, promoted to power by Ronald Reagan, that went into resistance mode under Newt Gingrich and then the Tea Party, and are now given voice my Mitch Mcconnell and the last, dying coronavirus-infected gasp of Donald Trump. They are demonstrably ready to die on that battlefield, and they are determined to take us with them.

V.P. Pence’s attitude towards Kamala Harris and the extra COVID-19 precautions that the council on debates has proposed confirm this assertion of mine. He is quite likely a super spreader himself now, since he spends so much time sucking Donald Trump’s cock in their private meetings. It is only a matter of days before he too shows a positive coronavirus test result, and he’ll get the same gold-star treatment that is reserved for the politically powerful in the United States of today. This is the country that America’s evangelicals have been working towards since 1978. Do you like it?

The war the rest of us are fighting is the one where the coronavirus is destroying our country with the president’s help. The president that has done nothing but pander to his evangelical, white nationalist base since he took office. The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has given them all one last chance to lock in the changes to our government that they have been seeking for more than forty years now. They think that with six solid conservative votes on the SCOTUS they will finally be able to enjoy the fruits of their Christianist efforts, establishing the dogmatic supremacy that the evangelical faith was established to produce more than a hundred years ago.

Roe v. Wade Was a Conservative Decision

Liberals should not capitulate. The Democratic party should continue blocking the efforts to replace RBG with Amy Coney Barrett. She, like Kavanaugh and Thomas, has no business being on the highest court in the land, much less being there for the next sixty or seventy years. Her willingness to subvert fact with dogma precludes her from ever being suitable for the federal bench, at all. Do not give in and allow them to fast track the corruption of our courts. If the Senate confirms no more judges until after next January 20th it will be a service to the country, even if that service comes at the cost of more lives destroyed by the coronavirus. Don’t do anything, if that’s what it takes. I’m betting the conservatives will blink first. Especially once the coronavirus finishes working its way through the ranks of Washington elites.

h/t to Stonekettle on Twitter for the featured image. Who created that image Jimmy Kimmel?

Amazonian Elf Sex

…even the provocative director of the X-rated film Fritz the Cat, Ralph Bakshi, managed to keep it in his pants. His ambitious yet incomplete 1978 animated Lord of the Rings stays in the right lane, true to its high fantasy trope, even though the film is wildly psychedelic in its visual flair. Such a great contrast to his other fantasies Wizards and Fire & Ice which was R-rated Adult Swim fare decades before Adult Swim existed! Instinctively and thoughtfully, Bakshi knew that Tolkien’s story didn’t need all the Tits & Ass that had previously made the animator the darling of 70’s arthouse cinema. He kept that out of Middle-earth, indulging it elsewhere more suitably for his other films.

theonering.net
Facebook – TheOneRing.net

I am commenting on the content of the live stream and the quoted article above, so some of this will probably seem to be a little disconnected. But, here goes.

15:45 minutes. The #TORnTuesday hosts discuss Arwen being present at Helm’s Deep in the movie version of LotR, and how theonering.net and it’s fanbase stopped those scenes from being in the final cut. Arwen being at Helm’s Deep would have been perfectly acceptable to me if a) she was dispatched as the leader of the group from her grandmother and b) women were equally welcome in the fighting troops with men and so her presence was unremarkable. This would have required a major rewrite and a re-explaining of why the plot evolves the way it does. Specifically? Eowen showing up at the battle in front of Minas Tirith and everyone being surprised, especially the Witch King (the subtleties of ingrained systemic misogyny are hard to parse sometimes) If women were commonplace things in battle, why wouldn’t anyone have thought about Eowen being in the battle of the Pelennor Fields? I mean, Arwen glowed with the light of the two trees in the first film, she can do just about anything else in the story after that. Considering what else was done in the Two Towers that varies from the book, Arwen being at Helm’s Deep makes complete sense to me. I would love to see those scenes, that version of the film, right next to the final version. I mean, why not? Other than, of course, that wasn’t how J.R.R. Tolkien wrote the scene. It would have been nice to see the Helm’s Deep battle filmed as it was written. I’ll take the parts of it that I did get, I guess.

56:00 minutes. There is the description of the John Boorman scene of the fellowship coming upon the waters of Galadriel. I cannot describe precisely how overjoyed I am that Ralph Bakshi got to do his version of Lord of the Rings rather than John Boorman, who went on to make Excalibur instead. A great movie, but definitely not high fantasy.

Anyone who thinks LoTR, or this Unnamed Amazon Production (UAP) needs more sexing up doesn’t understand what Tolkien was trying to say with his work. Explicit sex scenes shouldn’t be part of Tolkien’s work simply because Tolkien wouldn’t have dwelt on the prurient in that fashion. It is contrary to his vision of what high fantasy was and is.

It’s like telling me that Star Fleet has been subverted is a plotline of a film (Into Darkness) when Gene Roddenberry specifically forbade that storyline in the Trek writers guide. You, the modern interpreter, can certainly go there. Once you do, the film cannot be part of the canon for that created universe. If you insist on including contrary things like storylines that aren’t in the text or scenes that are contrary to the sense of the work, you risk destroying the social groupings that form in fandom around the platform that the work represents because the work no longer presents a uniform vision of itself.

What is a Bad Film?

Ask Paramount how much they like their new Trek that the Abramanator created for them. Sure, that first movie made money. Forget ever making money with the universe after that point.

Elf sex may not be the one thing that breaks the Tolkien fandom groups, especially since slash fiction is what most people create in their own heads (apparently) but if they are going there in the series, it won’t take Amazon long to completely abandon the rest of the lore that Middle Earth is supposedly based on, in the name of drawing more viewers to the show.

Here’s a thought. Why not create a new thing and get people to watch that, rather than pretend that the new thing is somehow related to something you feel nostalgia for? Nostalgia is overrated.

I have little interest in watching what Amazon does to Tolkien’s second age elves; even if Jeff Bezos does embroider the life of Galadriel, a strong female lead character, so lacking in Tolkien’s work. I am loathe to sound off about entertainment that I do not want to feel obliged to watch. If I sound off on the subject, and they cite my words as some motivation for changing their work, I would feel obliged to spend quality time evaluating the resulting product.

I have little trust left for the corporate creators of entertainment. I am way beyond reticent when it comes to promising my time in this fashion. I’ve written off many of my most treasured memories of youth at this point in my life, as well as abandoned new infatuations when they betrayed what they supposedly were about in the beginning. I’ve written them all off because some corporate stooge somewhere wanted to make a few more bucks off of my nostalgia one more time.

So I am prepared to pretend that Amazon’s elf stories don’t exist just like I pretend that other entertainment that doesn’t entertain me doesn’t exist, before I’ve seen one second of the work as it is intended to be seen. It is my feelings being used to motivate me here. The only way that I can stop them from being used to manipulate me is to compartmentalize those feelings and lock them away where they can’t be abused by the unscrupulous. It is up to Amazon to produce some work or other that motivates me to watch it based on it’s own merits. Gratuitos elf sex isn’t going to be considered meritorious. That statement can stand in for anything else I might say on this subject.

…it should be ‘high’, purged of the gross, and fit for the more adult mind of a land long now steeped in poetry.

J.R.R. Tolkien (goodreads)

Featured image: Frodo, Gollum and Sam looking over a ledge, scene from the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. I googled the article title trying to find an appropriate image to feature for the article. DO NOT Google the article title. Just don’t do it. The blog oneroomwithaview.com has a series of articles titled Best Films Never Made that includes an article about Boorman’s attempt to make his version of Lord of the Rings. Paul McCartney was who he wanted to play Frodo. Frodo having sex with Galadriel. There’s an image you can’t unsee.

Governor Abbott’s Voter Suppression Effort

Local officials in Texas say they plan to fight a new order from Gov. Greg Abbott to limit the number of places where voters can hand deliver mail-in ballots.

Abbott announced the order Thursday, the same day local election officials opened the drop-off sites.

NPR.org

I’ve been of the opinion for decades now that the governor’s office has overstepped its constitutional bounds. It started with Pointy Boots, err, Rick Perry, but Abbott has stretched the areas that the office was intended to govern into areas that are far beyond constitutional intents. I know that interfering in city and county business was exactly what the writers of the Texas constitution were trying to prevent, and yet Abbott has done this routinely over the last few years with the legislature’s help.

Local officials, both county and city, should call his bluff this time. Tell him that he can either get the Secretary of State to issue a guideline that makes that limitation on balloting official (but still questionable) or he can drag the legislature back into session to make the voting changes he calls for a legislative directive that is demonstrably constitutional. Otherwise, tough. The counties make those kinds of decisions and the counties have already made their decisions.

Greg Abbott is not the dictator of Texas, he’s just the governor. His job is to look pretty, sign bills and cut ribbons. That is the extent of his power. That he can only do two of those things is not our problem.

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The district court was wrong to rewrite Texas law. But the distinguished judge who did so was simply following in the Governor’s footsteps,” Ho wrote. “It is surely just as offensive to the Constitution to rewrite Texas election law by executive fiat as it is to do so by judicial fiat. Yet that is what occurred here.

statesman.com

Roe v. Wade Was a Conservative Decision

The Republicans are poised to reverse Roe v. Wade! How can you be so cavalier about this?

A question I posed to myself in 2006

My response in 2006 went something like “Republicans have no intention of reversing Roe v. Wade. They would be fools if they did reverse it.” I’m beginning to suspect that I overestimated their intelligence on this particular subject. There has been a veritable deluge of attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade in the last decade, not to mention the war that conservatives are waging on Planned Parenthood in the mistaken belief that Planned Parenthood is where all abortions occur in the United States.

As the writing appears on the wall in this final gasp of American conservatism, the soon to be disempowered Republican party continues to slice parts of itself off in an orgy of self-congratulation. It seems that throwing all their morals out the window and voting for a confirmed con-artist, philanderer and pathological liar requires them to double down on their debunked claims to a moral high ground. They are convinced that if they only pass one more law they’ll finally be able to get rid of the medical procedure, abortion, by overturning Roe. They also seem to think that they’ll stop women from using birth control or morning after pills. I think they should stop while they are ahead.

Ahead you ask? How are they ahead? The answer is as demonstrable as the the lack of a moral high ground was in the previous paragraph. Roe was a conservative decision based on science and the law back when it was decided in 1973. It was and is conservative because it represented a partial step towards granting women the same bodily autonomy that men enjoy, before there was a detectable change in the woman’s body, while protecting the state’s interest in making sure that the maximal number of new citizens is born to each new generation of women. The state’s interest is expressed in those terms and in only those terms.

Abortion wasn’t even a hot button issue back in 1973 when Roe was decided. Several churches and leaders of the time signed on to allowing abortion to spread across the nation as a legitimate medical procedure back then. It wasn’t until the birth of the Moral Majority in response to the changes in the American family and the threat to the subjugation of women that the Equal Rights Amendment represented that Abortion became the focal point of American conservatism. American conservatism that was being used like a sock puppet by the Christianist right.

Throughline – Apocalypse Now – June 13, 2019

That episode of NPR’s Throughline covers how abortion was turned into the issue that it is today by Jerry Falwell and his merry band of Moral Majority pranksters. This article isn’t about Christianists and Christianism and why the rest of us who live in the United States should be opposed to everything that Christianists want to do to our country. They are important issues, but this article is about a medical procedure, abortion, and what banning that procedure does to the citizenry in general and women in particle. Why we as average citizens should be opposed to the banning of abortion that modern American conservatism is based on.

Access to healthcare is a woman’s right. There really isn’t any question about this because access to healthcare, a combined investment by the society at large as well as individuals caught up in the various healthcare systems across the globe, is every human’s right. This right is established through the fact that each person born came from someone who in some way contributed to the current status of medical knowledge and the existing medical infrastructure. People come from somewhere, and that somewhere is from other people. People created the healthcare system over generations, and this basic fact grants later generations access to the combined knowledge of their forebears on what should be an equal basis. An equality that is currently being denied to most people living today, but that observation is also a digression from the specific point I’m trying to make with this article.

Abortion is a medical procedure, no if’s and’s or but’s about it. As a medical procedure, abortion should be available to anyone who wants one, end of story. Or rather, it would be the end of the story if men had to carry the next generation in their bodies in the same way women do. But that isn’t how nature set procreation up. Nature put the bearing of young on women’s backs, not men’s backs. This left the women at home while the men formed hunting parties. It left them at home caring for children while the men created the first governments. It left the women at home changing and washing diapers while men learned professions and took jobs outside the house. Because of these historical facts, men today vy for access to a women’s reproductive organs, by violence if necessary, and then try to keep their unwanted progyny in the woman’s body by force of law since they, the men, set up that law through their control of government.

Men do not face the kinds of obstructions that women do in life. There is no litmus test for young men like there is for young women. No one asks men if they are planning to have children. No one hiring a man for work worries about the man getting pregnant and having to be absent from work. Women are by default subjected to these kinds of stigma because they are the ones that keep Homo Sapiens Sapiens a going concern. Without them there would be no future humans to buy all the stuff that H.S. Sapiens is obsessed with producing.

No one expects men to reveal whether they’ve had a vasectomy. No one wants to hold men accountable for wasting potential life every time they masturbate (no one who is sane does, anyway) their privacy is respected, even when it comes to making decisions about whether they will have children or not. This is not true of women.

Women’s health is fraught with demands to know things about their physical being that a man would never, ever, put up with. “She’s on the rag.” “You look fat.” “your tits are too small.” “When are you due?” the intrusions into their personal privacy defy any attempt at comparison to the way men are treated in public. The next time a man loses his shit in public, ask him if he’s played with himself recently. Go ahead, I dare you.

Female hysteria was once a common medical diagnosis for women, which was described as exhibiting a wide array of symptoms, including anxietyshortness of breathfainting, nervousness, sexual desireinsomniafluid retention, heaviness in the abdomen, irritabilityloss of appetite for food or sex, (paradoxically) sexually forward behaviour, and a “tendency to cause trouble for others”. It is no longer recognized by medical authorities as a medical disorder. Its diagnosis and treatment were routine for hundreds of years in Western Europe.

In Western medicine hysteria was considered both common and chronic among women. The American Psychiatric Association dropped the term hysteria in 1952. Even though it was categorized as a disease, hysteria’s symptoms were synonymous with normal functioning female sexuality. In extreme cases, the woman may have been forced to enter an insane asylum or to have undergone surgical hysterectomy.

Wikipedia.org

There is a right to privacy in the constitution, and the reason this right exists even though it isn’t enumerated is itself a function of constitutional jurisprudence. Political pundits talk about how abortion is a litmus test for potential Supreme Court justices. If there really were a litmus test when it comes to abortion, it ought to be the constitution that forms it since the constitution is what they swear to uphold. The test could be formed of a single question with two possible answers. What is the meaning of the ninth and tenth amendments to the constitution? The answer to this question could be either unenumerated personal rights and/or limited government power. Any potential judge that does not concede the existence of a right to privacy, of a limit to state power, does not have a place on the bench within the US court system. They demonstrably do not understand the document that they will be sworn to protect.

Roe v. Wade establishes a right to privacy in jurisprudence. The findings of all of the cases that involve privacy since that case rely on the findings of Roe for their justification. The court will have to find some other basis for privacy as a right in any form if they hope to preserve privacy after reversing Roe. Yes, the prospect of reversal of that judicial precedent is that far-reaching. To reverse it is to make us all wards of the state and to make all claims to privacy by persons, including the multi-national corporations null and void. Pick one. Outlaw abortion or lose your ability to talk to your doctor or attorney in confidence.

Evidence for life

Proving something in court requires that you produce evidence for your claims. First you have to prove that there is a life, a life with a conscious mind, a will to live, and not just autonomic responses. Breath is the baseline for determining whether human life is present. Without breath there is no voice to speak up in protest. Without breath there is no human life that medicine or science can document. Without breath there isn’t a soul, as your own religious document states.

Normal brain activity is another baseline piece of evidence. Normal brain activity which isn’t possible without a functioning set of lungs for each brain. Going into all of the vagaries of what life is and when it begins or ends is the subject of this just published article of mine EPHN: A Right to Life? and the long article I wrote on the subject of abortion five years ago, Abortion: As Natural as Life Itself. Abortion and its detractors are a frequent subject on the blog. Far, far too frequently for my taste and probably for many of my reader’s tastes.

After you do that you still aren’t done. You still have to show how you will preserve that life without harming the life of the mother-to-be, and by harm I mean economic as well as physical or emotional harm. If you did all of that, you might have a telling argument. Failing to do any one of those things will put you back at where we started this entire fiasco. Individual choice. The woman decides if she will have a child, and that means right up to the day before delivery as far as legal arguments are concerned.

Keeping abortion legal does protect the life of the real, live woman whose body you want to use as a government-mandated incubator. Women die during pregnancy and childbirth, all the time. Savita Halappanavar died an unnecessary death in horrible pain due to Ireland’s (since repealed) ban on all abortions. This will happen here too if abortion is banned. Underaged girls get pregnant. Rape and incest figure into these pregnancies. Will you inflict further harm on girls who have already been violated by someone close to them by forcing them to carry those pregnancies to term? Some of them will die during pregnancy and childbirth. Just exactly what limits will you set in your pursuit of protecting the life of the unborn? How many women will die because of your crusade? It should be your job to count them all. All of those lost lives will be the blood on your hands. May you have better luck than Pontius Pilate had in removing that blood.

Anti-abortionists are now attempting to change the basis for evidence in legal arguments through their promotion of judges to higher seats on the bench in the United States. Judges who are just fine with not forcing claimants to prove that there is a human life being taken with every abortion. This is far, far more dangerous a move than just reversing Roe would be. That way lies inquisition and its many, many victims as Christianists look to destroy the impure in their midst, the impure that probably don’t even exist. If we want to maintain courts as the bastion of common decency that they are in the United States today, we cannot allow them to weaken evidentiary rules.

The stage is set for the final act of this farce. The farce that started when the Moral Majority decided to make America a christian country and set about forcing their beliefs about the nature of existence on the rest of us. The problem for them remains the same problem that the United States Supreme Court faced back in 1973. Namely, if they force women to carry every pregnancy to term, who pays for that? Who pays for those children’s futures? Who makes sure that they have equal access to the benefits of society right alongside every wealthy, wanted child?

Who Pays? Well, We All Will

Your taxes will be raised to cover those costs. Don’t bother to try to disagree, this is written into the constitution. Brown v. Board of Education outlines the bare bones of what will be required of the general public if women are forced to carry every pregnancy to term. Equal schools for all those children. Equal access to healthcare. Equal access to the courts will ensure that this prediction will play out as I describe. Trillions will be spent.

Not just on schools and medical facilities, things we should probably be investing in anyway, but also on police and investigative capacity. Every woman will have to be registered as soon as they have their first period. They will have to be registered as a potential mother so that they can be properly tracked. Don’t say this won’t happen, it has already happened in Missouri and in Donald Trump’s concentration camps. Sexual activity will have to be monitored to make sure that no one attempts to prevent a pregnancy. This task will require a police force the likes of which has never been seen before in history. The Handmaid’s Tale only hints at the depths of depravity that will be required to insure that no pregnancy is terminated, ever.

That is what reversing Roe will entail. But it only begins there. The current thinking for who will pick up the tab for all these new children amounts to making the men who father them pay for them. As if men are made of money and all you have to do is tap them like a Maple tree and they’ll ooze more money than any number of children will require. Most men are too shiftless to be willing to work to support the results of every orgasm they experience. Considering the thousands of times the average male masturbates in a given lifetime, this is understandable. Most men are unwilling to devote themselves to raising children through their own direct effort. This has been my experience as a dad who spent two years at home raising his second child. Most men that I have revealed this fact to have been incredulous that I would waste my time in that fashion. As if crafting the minds and bodies of the next generation of humans was work that wasn’t of prime importance to every currently living person.

Equality will not be achieved by enslaving the men unlucky enough to be caught fathering children. They will never produce enough to pay the costs of raising those children properly. The failure to produce funds to guarantee equality will result in the taxpayer having to fund the shortfall. This means your taxes will go up, and up, and up…

…if you ban abortion. Someone has to pay for these children, and the full faith and credit of the US government will require that the taxpayer eventually pays that bill.

Should men carry their share of the weight? Certainly. Should we leave children in the hands of women who don’t believe they are people and don’t want them? No. Should we force the fathers to share the poverty with these women and their unwanted children? No. Shall we then confiscate children from parents that cannot raise them? Make them wards of the state and then task the state with making sure they have the best life possible? Seems to me we probably shouldn’t even begin to head down that road, the road that is labeled banning abortion. That’s the point that I’ve been trying to make since this subject was forced into my personal space as a teenager, witnessing the misfortune of people who didn’t pay attention in health class. Someone will pay for the stupidity, eventually.

If, on the other hand, I were trying to craft political positions for the movers and shakers on the issue of abortion. If I were asked to advise them on the subject of whether to support this or that bill limiting women’s access to healthcare (as far-fetched as that notion would be) I would tell them to insist on a quid pro quo arrangement.

“Fine, I’ll support your interference in the health and family decisions of the average woman in exchange for legislation that guarantees that there will be no homeless children in our state. Legislation that insures no children go without meals or beds to sleep in or whatever level of education they prove themselves capable of working towards. Either we agree on this equal exchange, or I will torpedo your bill with every legislative trick that I can muster.”

That would be my advice. Anti-abortionists claim to be pro-life. It should be beholden on them to prove that they really are pro-life by making every child a wanted child, every child a child with a home, every child a child who is not hungry. Either that, or they can just admit that abortion is sometimes necessary and give up the whole idea of interfering in a woman’s right to choose. They are, after all, the shiftless men I’m talking about.

Punishment is where the entire roller coaster ride of anti-abortion sentiment goes off the rails. The moment that anti-abortionists decided to punish women for their promiscuity with forcing them to raise children they don’t want, they crossed an unforgivable line in the sand. Children are not punishment, and we cannot afford to treat them as punishment. Infants become adults, people with rights they can assert for themselves, and those people will take their dissatisfaction with their unwanted lives out on the rest of us.

This experiment has been tried in recent history and the results are known. Ask Nicolae Ceaușescu how well that worked out for him (another dictator that Trump would have loved) You can’t, because all those unwanted children dragged him out of office and killed him. That is what has happened before when an authoritarian government attempted to make women raise children they didn’t want. If avoiding that fate means abortion is legal for the full term of a woman’s pregnancy then so be it.

All of the alternatives to the decision handed down in Roe v. Wade will be far less satisfying for anti-abortionists and Christianists than the status quo is right now. Over and over, looking at possible outcomes from reversing Roe, making abortion illegal, reveals that the current arrangement is most likely the best deal that those people can hope for because the chances that women will stop having abortions and stop having sex are almost nil, and that in itself represents a nightmare than men wake up screaming from anyway. Roe v. Wade was a conservative decision, far more conservative than what the status quo will be after the precedent is reversed, no matter which way the country goes after that. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The common refrain when abortion on demand became the law of the land was that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. The question that has never been answered has always been “what is the number that is rare?” I say let women decide. For themselves. For the Christianists out there in the audience: settle for the limited control you have now or potentially lose everything you currently cherish about American life. Because after women take back their rights to their own bodies, they are going to come after your other religious beliefs one by one, and people like me will encourage them to do so. Stop while you’re ahead.

You demand this life be born to appease you miserable vengeful god, but you then abdicate any responsibility for it whatsoever. Life begins at conception and ends at birth, well, at least society’s responsibility for it. To you, “sacred” means life must be born, no matter the consequences, and then it can die in the dirt and it’s not your problem. You would force life into the world, but shrug off any responsibility to build a better world for it.

Stonekettle Station

Case history

George Carlin: Pro Life, Abortion, And The Sanctity Of Life

They aren’t pro-life, they are anti-woman.

George Carlin

Portions of this article were previously published by me on bulletin boards across the internet (the Abortion thread on the DCBBS) for the last thirty years, and were also published previously on the blog here. Featured image: Norma McCorvey and her lawyer in front of the supreme court building, from Roe v. Wade, explained

EPHN: A Right to Life?

Part 3 of a series of posts defining the Emergent Principles of Human Nature. This effort is an outgrowth of a challenge issued to me ages ago by a fellow libertarian that I explain inalienable rights without including god. Like most challenges of this type, the work is larger than the speaker or hearer understands at the time.


A Right to Life. What does that phrase mean? It’s patently obvious that an individual can’t claim an unlimited right to continue existing. Nature itself fails by comparison to infinite existence, since life as we know it on this planet did have a beginning and will have an ending. Life as we know it is the closest thing to nature, or natural, that can be said to exist at all.

Individual lives are far more transitory than the multi-billion years of life as we know it. Life as we can scientifically determine has existed on this planet. Life that will continue into the unknown and unknowable future. Life that will (hopefully) continue in an unbroken chain until the sun turns into a red giant and consumes everything inside the orbit of the planet Mars some billions of years in the future.

Did any of the individuals that came before us in that four billion year chain that lead to your existence have a right to live? A right to life? They all lived, from the crude beginnings of genetic coding to the first multi-celled organisms to the primates that lead to the human beings that were your parents, all of them lived and bred and passed on their life or you wouldn’t be here. Did any of them have a right to their existence? Is that right manifested here through your existence alone?

Do the children you produce have a right to live, a right to life? Your friends?Your neighbors? Does the person dying of cancer have a right to life? The starving person, the homeless person, the person lying out in the cold on a freezing winter night? Do they have a right to life? Why aren’t we compelled to help them? Why do they die, if they have a right to life? You too will die, we all will die. Do we have a right to life?

If rights are a thing that can’t be revoked, and yet life itself abandons the physical body, can there realistically be a thing called a right to life? It is an open question, in my estimation.

Human life is different, I hear you saying, human life is precious. You are right, human life is different. I don’t know that I would go so far as to say it is precious considering how we treat the needy among us, but human life is demonstrably different from any other kind of life on this planet that has ever existed before, in spite of the common ancestry we share with all other forms of life we have ever found. From a scientific perspective, we are the first creature that has modified its environment to such an extent that the impact of our habitation on Earth could well wipe out all traces of previous life and permanently alter the planet in the process, requiring the Earth itself to regenerate the life-sustaining envelope we currently enjoy today.

We have probably already entered the next era of Earth’s evolution. The Anthropocene is still in its proposal stages in the halls of science, but there is little doubt remaining that we have crossed the boundary into the human-created environment, for better or for worse. So we are different than other forms of life on the planet. But do we have a right to this life?

It is a mistake to start a list of rights with a right to life beyond the basic observation that taking the life of another person negates one’s own right to continue existing in the eyes of your peers. Again, this is demonstrable. The knee-jerk abortion protests and the outrage over euthanasia practices illustrates this fact as well. We want to exist. We want to exist for as long as we can maintain that existence in a fashion that is acceptable to our own vague notions of normal existence.

Abortion frightens those who see it as ending a life. They see it as a retroactive threat to their own lives, a cheat that allows the sexually permissive to go free. This is why the anti-abortion movement turns into the anti-sex movement as soon as it feels that it has established the beachhead of ending abortion. This is why they are now trying to end the use of contraceptives and other family planning practices. In their eyes, sex is for procreation only. The sex that other people engage in, at least.

Euthanasia is a far more personal threat. Everyone who exists, lives, will die. Tomorrow or several centuries from now, all of us will be gone at some point. Even these words set down in a permanent form of expression will cease to exist, to have meaning. Euthanasia ends that personal existence before its natural time. It is the bookend to abortion, in the eyes of a believer. Abortion ends life before it starts, euthanasia ends life before it is supposed to end, naturally.

However, most people do not understand what nature is. Nature is not just precious life, but cruel slavery of the living of one species, for their use by another species. This happens in the animal world as well as the human world. It is the nature of existence. Energy for continuing life must be harvested from somewhere, and that means killing something in order to continue existing. Did the cow that was turned into your hamburger have a right to life? Cows are mammals. They share a huge amount of genetic code with humans because of this fact. Shouldn’t all mammals have a right to life?

You might go for that argument and respond in the positive to it. Let’s go further out on the limb. How about the plants and insects that we consume. They are alive. Insects are even mobile and have primitive brains. Don’t they have a right to life? What will we use to continue our own lives if all forms of food are considered forbidden to eat because of the impact that will have on the sanctity of life?

This is the mistake of a fundamental right to life laid bare. We have no problem at all with taking the life of other living things, even other humans. To our credit, we have become less violent over the centuries. You can’t walk out into public and just start killing people without facing negative consequences for your actions. Acting under the color of authority does give cover for a substantial number of sociopathic tendencies. Wars kill thousands of people, sometimes hundreds of thousands in an instant. Because wars are conducted under the authority of governments, we allow these massive losses of life to go unpunished.

The police are routinely forgiven for killing the defenseless by accident. They are granted the right to use deadly force, and some accidents will happen. Did the person killed accidentally by the police have a right to life?

The state conducting executions in the town square strikes most people as insane or barbaric in Western countries, today. But it was a common practice throughout the world in previous centuries and there are some countries that still practice public executions. No one questions the legitimacy of the threat embodied in a hogtied victim that is the scapegoat for some reviled behavior or other, but the person is just as dead in the end whether he represented a legitimate threat or not. Do they have a right to life? Why not?

These examples are the kinds of reasons that historical lists of rights start with a right to life, not the reasons that are bandied about today. Abortion and euthanasia are commonplace in nature. Nature is survival of the fittest in the most personal form imaginable. Abortion and euthanasia were so commonplace in previous centuries as to be completely brushed aside by the average observer. The elderly were allowed to die, to take the long walk, because we couldn’t afford to feed them anymore without threatening our own existence directly. The mammalian body will re-absorb or miscarry young that threaten the life of the mother, or the pregnancy will kill her. A human female who has children that she can’t feed would, and in some countries still do, simply leave the young exposed for predators or the weather to kill. These were far more common as occurrences than public hangings were. Every family would have experienced at least one of these once a generation until the modern age.

People are born, people will die. When do they begin to have a right to life? When does it begin?

…Consciousness requires a sophisticated network of highly interconnected components, nerve cells. Its physical substrate, the thalamo-cortical complex that provides consciousness with its highly elaborate content, begins to be in place between the 24th and 28th week of gestation. Roughly two months later synchrony of the electroencephalographic (EEG) rhythm across both cortical hemispheres signals the onset of global neuronal integration. Thus, many of the circuit elements necessary for consciousness are in place by the third trimester. By this time, preterm infants can survive outside the womb under proper medical care. And as it is so much easier to observe and interact with a preterm baby than with a fetus of the same gestational age in the womb, the fetus is often considered to be like a preterm baby, like an unborn newborn. But this notion disregards the unique uterine environment: suspended in a warm and dark cave, connected to the placenta that pumps blood, nutrients and hormones into its growing body and brain, the fetus is asleep.

Scientific American

When does it expire? Why does it expire?

the complete and permanent loss of brain function as defined by an unresponsive coma with loss of capacity for consciousness, brainstem reflexes, and the ability to breathe independently.

livescience.com

As far as EPHN would be concerned the first principle wouldn’t be life. The first principle is speech. Speech defines us to each other and to ourselves.  In some far-off future it’s easy to imagine that human life as we know it might not even be a requirement. Allowing for the granting of legal rights not only to qualifying AI but limited rights to higher level mammals capable of communicating. Speech defines who we are and what we know.

Without life there is no behavior.  Without behavior there aren’t any patterns to be analyzed.  There cannot be rights or Emergent Principles of Human Nature if there isn’t human life.  This problem is far more difficult to tease apart than any of the various ideologies crafted to grapple with it actually take into account. The many failings of the human animal listed in previous articles on the subject of EPHN all impact this problem. Perception is largely credited by the observer as being reality and yet perception is at best subjective or anecdotal.

Part of our mental dealings with the world around us involves assigning agency, purpose, to the things we interact with. This process is all but unavoidable.  The term for this process is Anthropomorphism. Try interacting with your pets without crediting them with human emotion, human motivation. The weather is frequently imbued with agency, as if the air currents that crash into each other actually think about dumping water in one place and not another.  If you stub your toe on a rock, you are likely to blame the rock for existing in that location rather than admit your own clumsiness, your gaps in perception that allowed the collision in the first place.

All manner of events in life are credited with consciousness, with agency, completely in error. Why would it be surprising then for someone to assign agency to a form, specifically the human form? Believers of various stripes credit their religious statues with agency.  What is clearly a construct of stone or metal can be said, even by non-believers, to project emotion. Art by its own definition should make you feel emotion, or it isn’t art in the judgement of the individual. But the emotion comes from within the observer, not from within the object. The statues are not happy or sad, joyous or vengeful, they evoke the emotion in the observer; they are crafted that way by human hands specifically in the hopes of garnering that emotional response.

Statues do not shed tears, do not bleed. Test after test reveals that contrary claims by the religious are baseless and there are many of these kinds of claims. Statues are constructs, devoid of agency, unlike a biological human form. What then of the form that does bleed or shed tears, is that human life? Not necessarily. Form is just the physical component of human life. Are amputees less human because their forms are not perfect? Are ugly people less human than pretty people? Of course not. There is something else, something in addition to the form which imbues the form with that thing we deem human life.

That elusive thing is consciousness. It is so elusive that we’ve only recently been able to detect its presence. We’ve only recently been able to attempt to describe what it is. It is there when you are awake and to some limited extent it is even present while you are sleeping, and it is gone when the body ceases to function normally. Without consciousness you are not you and I am not me. Consciousness defines human life and human principles, and without consciousness no concepts or conceptualizations are possible.

Consciousness coupled to memory, embedded in a recognizably human physical form capable of fulfilling the requirements for maintaining life. That is what creates the possibility for human behavior to occur, to be studied for patterns which can yield an understanding of the underlying principles that govern human interactions. Consciousness is the defining characteristic of human life, it is what makes everything else that we do possible. Life itself is not the basis of rights or principles, consciousness is. Speech is how we express what our consciousness perceives, which is why speech is the first Emergent Principle. Without speech we are even less than the other animals. Without the ability to speak our minds, we are not free in any real sense of the word.

Judging by the degree of those women’s intensity, I would say that it is an issue of self-esteem and that their fear is metaphysical. Their hatred is directed against human beings as such, against the mind, against reason, against ambition, against success, against love, against any value that brings happiness to human life. In compliance with the dishonesty that dominates today’s intellectual field, they call themselves “pro-life.”

Ayn Rand

Featured image: Michelangelo Creation of Adam

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

This was her dying wish, expressed to her granddaughter. She hadn’t been dead ten minutes before Senate leader McConnell was assuring everyone around him that the thing he argued for under Barack Obama’s presidency did not apply to the vacancy left by the death of the Notorious RBG (Tumblr) Trump intends to nominate someone to the court as early as Monday or Tuesday, even though it can be easily argued that he is president right now because of Mitch McConnell’s refusal to do the very thing that they are both planning on doing, replacing a deceased jurist on the Supreme Court when a presidential election is impending.

The hypocrisy and demonstrable dereliction of duty that is shown on both Leader McConnell’s and Donald Trump’s part when it comes to stuffing conservative judges into the federal courts as fast as they possibly can is beside the point I want to make here today. They have both been bought and paid for by the oligarchs who run this country, have run this country almost from the time of its founding. Their entirely predictable intentions are irrelevant here.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was only the second woman to serve on the SCOTUS when she was appointed, the first being Sandra Day O’Connor. When she started practicing as an attorney, she had a hard time finding and keeping a job because the law at the time was a practice for men, not for women.

The notion until the ’70s was that the differentials based on gender riddling the law books operated benignly in women’s favor. So women were excused from jury duty—well, that was a favor. Who would want to serve if they didn’t have to? Michigan’s law saying women couldn’t be bartenders—that was a favor, because bars could be pretty raunchy places. Laws like that were rationalized as operating to favor or protect women. The challenge for me was to get the judges to see that, far from operating benignly in women’s favor, these laws, as Justice Brennan said so well in Frontiero, put women not on a pedestal, but in a cage.

theatlantic.com
NPR – Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Champion Of Gender Equality, Dies At 87 – September 18, 2020

Nina Totenberg, the voice of the narrator in that nine minute NPR piece, has covered the United States Supreme Court since she was hired by NPR back in 1975. Nina Totenberg herself has fought many of the battles that the Notorious RBG had to fight. The canned nine-minute segment prepared by NPR in the event of RBG’s death covers the basics of her history on the SCOTUS. It is not enough information if what you want to know is “Who was Ruth Bader Ginsburg?” like I do. To further that quest I next queued up this episode of Radiolab, a rebroadcast of one of their spinoff More Perfect episodes about RBG and her impact on the court.

Radiolab – More Perfect: Sex Appeal – September 18, 2020

In that episode Jad Abumrad mentions that there were two movies made about Justice Ginsburg. I didn’t know about a second movie, so I had to go look it up and watch both of them.

RBG (2018)
Magnolia PicturesRBG – Official Trailer – Mar 7, 2018

I had always intended to watch this movie. I love documentaries and I have a fascination with the how and the why of a Supreme Court justice becoming a rock star. Becoming so famous that she inspired young women and men around the world to wear clothing and accessories (and even tattoos) with her face on it.

I watched the documentary on Hulu.com. It is also available from Amazon Prime (title link above) it is a proper documentary of a person, touching on all the parts of RBG’s life from childhood to 2018 when the documentary was made. Her time working for the ACLU is mentioned in passing, but they don’t appear to identify the attorney that worked with RGB to start the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU (Brenda Feigen) the movie also goes through several of the cases that she was notorious for winning or writing an opinion about.

…the movie opens with statements of loathing from famous conservative figures. The fact that they hate her so much is a tribute to her dedicated liberal views, which she defended to her dying day. In my opinion, the documentary is the better of the two films.

I can’t imagine what this place would be — I can’t imagine what the country would be — with Donald Trump as our president … For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be — I don’t even want to contemplate that.

a faker

He has no consistency about him. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment.

RBG on Donald Trump. 200,000 dead Americans agree with her.
On the Basis of Sex (2019)
Focus FeaturesON THE BASIS OF SEX – Jul 16, 2018
The law is wrong.

On the Basis of Sex starts with a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg in college and follows her up through her first argument of a case before a court as an attorney. Being an attorney was the job she wanted to do but was denied a chance of doing because she was a married woman with children. There is considerable deviation from the reality of her history in this film. The fictional plotline works to drive the narrative, so it is forgivable. However, it is also two hours long and feels like a two hour film when you are done watching it. The ending is satisfying, so I would give the film a positive review if I were to sit down and try to write a full review, which this paragraph isn’t.

This episode of the Daily from the NYTimes tells how her real history transpired, as opposed to the history provided as a backdrop for On the Basis of Sex.

The Daily: The New York TimesPart 1: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg – Sep 21, 2020

Part two

NYTimes – Part 2: The Battle Over Her Seat

Vox’s Today, Explained on RBG

Stitcher – VOX – Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy, and the future of the Supreme Court, explained

She fought, and she won, battles that put women on equal footing with men before the law, right in the face of an overwhelming majority of contrary opinion. Again and again, she staked out the battlegrounds that legal arguments would be fought over, and she succeeded in making women largely equal to men even without the Equal Rights Amendment to the constitution.

To this day women’s rights in this country are provisional, based on legal precedents won in court and not on constitutional law, and this is because of the actions of the Christianists of the Religious Right. It was through them and their leaders like Phyllis Schlafly that the Equal Rights Amendment failed to be adopted by the deadline in 1979. That women’s rights exist at all from a legal perspective is largely because of RBG; and make no mistake, this is the reason that conservatives and Republicans hate RBG and will ignore her dying wish that the next president be the one to pick her replacement.

This is the important fact, the fact that inspired me to spend a considerable amount of time reading, watching and listening to the history of Ruth Bader Ginsburg over this past weekend. Republicans hate RBG because she is a woman and she has the temerity to speak her mind in the face of legal male privilege. Remember this fact when it comes time to vote in November, not whether or not Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell succeed in making the SCOTUS an organ of conservative dogma. Conservatives and Republicans do not think women and their opinions are worthy of note. Women should be in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. They certainly shouldn’t be on the Supreme Court. If Trump nominates a woman, and McConnell hypocritically gets the nomination approved by the Senate, that woman will agree with this sentiment, just as Justice Thomas thinks black people should be forced into second class status. What he doesn’t say is that he believes this because that injustice will inspire the re-creation of the United States as a black nation.

Conservative/Republican women in politics believe themselves subservient to men and yet attempt to lead anyway. Contemplate this fact until you understand what it means.

Over a long career on both sides of the bench — as a relentless litigator and an incisive jurist — Justice Ginsburg helped us see that discrimination on the basis of sex isn’t about an abstract ideal of equality; that it doesn’t only harm women; that it has real consequences for all of us. It’s about who we are — and who we can be.

Barack Obama
Kiki Bader

200,000 Dead Americans

I was wondering when we would cross this threshold. It is tragic, the numbers of dead Americans, Americans who did not need to die but died anyway because Donald Trump is the most inept and useless person ever to hold public office, let alone hold the office of the President of the United States.

If you look closely at the featured image you will notice in the lower corner the number of cases and deaths worldwide. (Google link for current data) We have 4.25% of the world’s population, but have nearly 20% of COVID deaths worldwide. Think about what that statistic means.

We are the world’s richest country. We have a medical system that the rest of the world comes to when they need cancer treatment or cutting edge organ transplants or other kinds of rare surgery. But when it comes to basic epidemiology, we fail utterly at protecting our own people from a VIRUS.

This failure is due to a lack of effective leadership, and the leader of this country is Donald Trump. He is to blame for every, single needless death. Every one of them. If you vote for Donald Trump, you are voting for the murderer of 200,000 of your fellow Americans. He killed them as surely as if he took a knife and sliced their throats open himself, because he knew how bad this virus was in February and did not do anything to stop its spread until March when it became clear that the United States was going to see huge infection rates soon.

His newly appointed pandemic Czar and his new pandemic policy, herd immunity, will kill between two million and six million Americans if it is allowed to follow the natural course that they have set in motion. As I said previously, if all those deaths could be limited to Stormtrumpers then I would call that death toll justice served. But it won’t be just Donald Trump’s supporters who die. Everyone will know someone close to them who will have died from this disease. Everyone.

There is no choice in the election for President on November 3rd. There is only more Trump insanity and the destruction of our once great nation in the process, or sanity and a continued United States represented in the form of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I will be voting for sanity. I hope the rest of you will be too.

It’s been three years now. In order to get a sense of the history of what OHM means, I will link a few crucial posts. I wrote The Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) when it became clear that the Republicans were going to nominate Donald Trump.  I wrote The GOP Cuddles Up To the NSDAP when the GOP refused to ostracize the OHM for his dangerously xenophobic populism. I wrote Caveat Emptor on the day Trump lied with his hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the US constitution. I wrote Bullshit is Bullshit on the day I stopped even trying to catalogue the blatant disregard of the truth by the OHM. It mystifies me why people still listen to him, and why the OHM still holds the office of the president. #MAGA means Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans. Anyone who believes differently is a MAGA themselves, otherwise known as a Stormtrumper, h/t to Berkeley Breathed.

Bad Prelude to the Fall Season

For the last month, it’s been really bad. I’ve missed two raid nights in a row due to illness, the first two in a really long time. I’ve been fighting with near constant constipation for weeks. Yesterday I spent all day on the toilet with diarrhea. I haven’t talked about my Irritable Bowel Syndrome (with Constipation, making it IBS-C) diagnosis yet largely because it is too embarrassing to talk about bodily functions like that. Still, it is getting so bad that I’m going to have to do research on the subject so I will probably write something to codify what I find out about it in the coming months.

In the meantime I combat the symtoms of IBS-C at the same time as I combat the symptoms of my other chronic illnesses. I’ve had brief bouts of vertigo over the last three weeks, the worst of which started after the last struggle with constipation.

Sunday I woke up dizzy. My head was ringing so loud from tinnitus that I felt like I was under attack. I kept holding my head down trying to escape the noise and the pressure, looking over the tops of my glasses at everything and wondering why it all looked so blurry. I had nausea accompanying the nearly unexperienced session of diarrhea, so yesterday was a fun day. I did get nearly finished playing Horizon: Zero Dawn, at least.

I’ve joked for years with the Wife about wanting to have diarrhea because constipation is so uncomfortable and mine seems to never end, especially in these last few years. At least then my experiences in the bathroom would be different. After my marathon running to and from the bathroom yesterday, I can honestly say that I don’t look forward to a repeat of that experience any time soon.

At 1:39 AM this morning the pressure changed in my head. I no longer felt like my brain was being squeezed between my ears on both sides. For the first time in at least 24 hours, the pressure was off. The tinnitus changed pitch as well. Now I just feel like I’m going to faint.

This chronic illness crap is for the birds. Listen, existence. Pick one condition and stick to that one condition each day, please. I can’t take all the changing of things you are going to punish me with each day. One at a time. Take a number.