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?

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

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.

Charley Horse

I’m getting these weird muscle spasms in my feet. The muscles in the tops and sides of my feet will lock up and pull my toes into strange-looking contortions.

I have no idea what is causing this. It could just be exercise. I used to get charley horses in the calves of my legs after riding my bike all day. I would also periodically get them after long walks. When I was in cardiac rehab the nurses insisted we stretch after each exercise session. That did seem to cut down on the muscle pain afterwards, and so I’ve kept doing the stretches since then. They seem to help. Maybe I should stretch the muscles in my feet as well? That does seem to help relax them afterwards.

It’s all just so damned weird, this getting old crap. Pains in places I didn’t know existed until I was over fifty.


I’ve modified the quadriceps stretch that I’m doing and grabbing the area just above my toes instead of the ankle when stretching. Maybe that will help.

This was the first post written completely in the WordPress mobile interface. Spelling errors are the interfaces fault (damned autocorrect!) I have now fixed those while re-editing on the desktop.

Summer Doldrums

I haven’t felt like writing, or even up to the attempt at writing, for more than a week now. I don’t know why. It could be my allergies. It could be the tinnitus that is making even listening to podcasts extremely hard. I did manage to finish reading my first physical book in several years. I will write about that experience soon, I hope. I hope I’ll feel up to reading another book soon, too.

I’ve been playing a lot of Horizon: Zero Dawn lately.

That is all I’ve been doing, aside from reading. I haven’t even managed to get online to run with my guild in World of Warcraft. Sinuses feel like they are going to pop out of my head. Sick to my stomach with something, probably just the Irritable Bowel Syndrome acting up.

It is even possible that it is the summer doldrums affecting me in ways that I’m unaccustomed to. I haven’t felt this lethargic at this time of year since 2015. The sum total of all these complaints means I’m on hiatus for the foreseeable future. I’ll see you all when I see you.

How Are You?

I never say “I’m fine” When asked this question. Well okay, almost never. Even when I was reasonably healthy I hated the “How are you?” and “I’m fine” responses. It is all so meaningless. Just say hello.

Just say hello, because you don’t really care how I’m doing. I can prove this general assertion. If someone launches into a list of their illnesses when asked “how are you?” it is demonstrably seen as a breach of manners. They don’t really care and the mannerly response to this feigned interest in the other person’s health is the discardable reply “I’m fine.” This allows the real conversation to commence.

So why ask? When I’m asked this question as part of a greeting I try to give “fair to middling” as my response. Why? Because it evades the question and makes a mutual joke out of the feigned interest in my health. Unless that person is my doctor or a fellow chronic illness sufferer, I assume the question is just an assumption of familiarity that does not exist. If we were familiar, they would know not to ask me that question unless they wanted to talk for an hour.


The Wife took me to task for this beef of mine.

…one thing I find highly annoying is your beef presumption that the person who asks how you are doing is just babbling meaninglessly. That is the utmost arrogance. Yes it is part of polite conversation but it is intended as a conversation starter and can be as short or as long as you chose. How often have you seen me ask that question without wanting the real answer? That’s probably why so many people talk to me and though yes they do sometimes give me more that I wanted, it starts connections. Just something more to chew on.

She is allowed to give me beef in return because I have been forced to wait on her for half an hour to an hour while she talks to clerks and cashiers, fully engaged in a total stranger’s complaints and whims, and I’ve done this more times that I can count. I’ve gone out to the car on more than one occasion. Gone out to the car, gotten in the driver’s seat and pulled out of the parking space. Started to drive off. This is the only way to get her to come out to the car so we can leave on some errand that can’t wait for a spontaneous conversation to end.

When I go into a convenience store, it is inconvenient to talk to the cashier for a half-hour when all I needed was a doughnut and something to drink. A five minute excursion, tops, when it is just me. When she’s along, pack a lunch to eat in the parking lot waiting on her to finish her conversation. She is on the other end of the spectrum from the average person when it comes to conversation. An anomaly. An outlier. The exception that proves the rule.

Chronic illness sufferers know this to be true. No one wants to hear about your pain. A good portion of the time even the people you pay to care don’t care about your pain. This fact is demonstrated to us repeatedly until we learn to shut up about what is bothering us. Just say hello. It’s not too much to ask.

COVID America

COVID-19 didn’t lay America low; it simply revealed what had long been forsaken. As the crisis unfolded, with another American dying every minute of every day, a country that once turned out fighter planes by the hour could not manage to produce the paper masks or cotton swabs essential for tracking the disease. The nation that defeated smallpox and polio, and led the world for generations in medical innovation and discovery, was reduced to a laughing stock as a buffoon of a president advocated the use of household disinfectants as a treatment for a disease that intellectually he could not begin to understand.

Wade Davis – rollingstone.com

h/t to my brother for his find of this article.

COVID-19 is Airborne

This Viewpoint suggests that infection control guidelines should be re-evaluated to account for the predominance of small particles within infectious aerosols. Protective devices available to health-care workers have a range of protection, increasing from surgical masks to filtering facepiece respirators to powered air-purifying respirators. Although these are indicated for close encounters, their limitations highlight the need for improved administrative controls, such as more rapid diagnosis and isolation, and the development of vaccines and treatments. These data support calls for the recognition of aerosol (ie, traditional airborne) transmission of SARS-CoV-2.144 This could facilitate the use of enhanced dilution and directional ventilation and other environmental control options—eg, air disinfection with ultraviolet germicidal irradiation,145 which might be especially helpful in congregate settings such as nursing homes. Implementation of improved infection control measures could prevent future morbidity and mortality among health-care workers.

thelancet.com

It is airborne. I wish they would just come out and say the word airborne in the media that is targeted at the general public. The average person isn’t going to care about the vagaries of the scientific definition of airborne. A reproduction rate over 5 (which COVID can have) means that the transmission is functionally airborne. Why quibble over the semantics?

If airborne transmission were shown to be a major factor, some experts have suggested it could be helpful to wear masks indoors, even in settings where social distancing is being enforced; that tighter regulations may be needed for ventilation and air conditioning to minimise recirculating air; and that it may even be appropriate to install UV lights in some buildings to guard against potentially infectious particles.

theguardian.com

This article from the New York Times details investigations into methods of transmission aboard the Diamond Princess back in January. Nothing short of a properly adjusted N95 mask or multiple layers of cloth over the mouth and nose will keep you from catching the disease when someone is standing next to you has it. This makes Trump’s fumbling of the supply chains even more damning than I initially thought it was. If masks had been mandatory and available early, a good portion of the deaths we have seen across the country could have been avoided.

nytimes.com