Dick Led Me to Yeats

Or perhaps it would make more sense to say that VALIS led me to The Second Coming, and who knows where I will go from there?

(Yeah, that headline might possibly be designed to troll for hits.)

I discovered this poem - The Second Coming – by W.B. Yeats whilst reading Philip K. Dick’s VALIS trilogy.

I’m a little appalled that I recognize so many lines from this poem and yet have never read the poem itself till now.) The poem was written 95 years ago, but could very well have been written 95 minutes ago.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

We’ve lost our moorings. Worse, we’ve lost control of the death-dealing tools we used to wield so expertly.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold

We’ve become more tribal, less global, more extreme, less sensible.

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

ISIS anyone? As I write this, these animals have just beheaded an American journalist.

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

I can get pretty passionate about single malt scotch, but that’s about it. I used to be full of passionate intensity, but the fires have dimmed and the conviction has waned. Do I lack conviction because I’ve experienced to much? The answer is – naturally – I’m not sure.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

The disorder and chaos surely mean something. Don’t they? Don’t they?

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight:

We stumble through the darkness, not thinking, merely reacting – predictably – to whatever stimulus we experience. 9/11 leads ineluctably to the Patriot Act and Homeland Security and Ferguson and ISIS and gods know what else. Wallenstein led to Bismarck led to Hitler. Luther led to Calvin led to the massacre of the Hugenots. There is nothing new under the sun.

somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.

Have we awakened something ancient, something bigger and colder and deadlier than we can imagine? Will we even know it if we see it?

The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

What rough beast indeed?

Mister Dick was one of a kind, as was – I presume – Mister Yeats.

20

08 2014

DISH Network Channel Guide & Packages Matrix

Jack’s Roll-Your-Own DISH Network Channel Guide

I realized recently I was paying too much for the TV I was actually watching, (we have DISH), so I decided to downgrade my plan. The problem is that the DISH website seems designed to utterly confuse anyone attempting to do what I did, which is get an answer to the question, “what’s the cheapest way to get the channels I want from DISH?”

To start with, they don’t list ALL the channels anywhere, nor do they even have a single page that lists every package they offer. I got the distinct impression that the website was designed to confuse rather than enlighten. Since I watch only six channels, I really didn’t think it made economic sense to pay for their America’s Top 250+ package. Yep, I was paying for 244 channels which I never watch. I’m thinking their business model is similar to that of a fitness club.

Anyway, I finally gave up trying to find the info I needed in a single location on their website, and built this spreadsheet instead. It lists ALL the programs they offer in column 1, and then marks which packages carry that particular channel in the columns to the right.

Please let me know if this is helpful.

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01

08 2014

Terry Gilberg Show 3 May: Sources for Commentary

Per my appearance on the Terry Gilberg Show on Saturday, May 3rd, I provide more detail and sources.

Connecticut Stabbing Perp Christopher Plaskton, may be show signs of psychosis.

Anti-depressants and ADHD medication are often correlated in these incidents. On Jan 7, 2011 Time Magazine reported on a study that listed the drugs most often linked with violent behavior. 8 of the top 10 drugs which are linked with violent behavior are specifically supposed to be mood-altering, and the 9th is allegedly supposed to address a sleep problem.

We can go back to Columbine 15 years ago for a chilling list that illustrates the problem. Eric Harris was taking the antidepressant Luvox. Klebold was witnessed taking the antidepressants Paxil and Zoloft.  (Officially, Klebold’s medical records remain sealed. Why?)

But there’s plenty more.

Mexican Army May Be Crossing US Border

Documentation of over 300 incursions over 18 years, but apparently not enough to get anyone riled up about Mexico actually invading the US militarily. Residents of the border actually have more complaints about the Border Patrol. Shades of the fall of Rome where the citizens welcomed the invaders because the tax code they lived under was so onerous. Perhaps the border residents think that Mexican government can’t be much worse than our own?

The number of BP agents has almost tripled since 1999, while the number of apprehensions has fallen to a third of what it was 15 years ago. So we have government employees accomplishing approximately 11% as much as they did 15 years ago. That sounds about right. (Since the raison d’etre of the Border Patrol is to secure the border, the fact that three times as many agents are doing one third as much work means that either (a) the need for BP has dramatically fallen or else (b) they’re way less effective than they were 15 years ago. Either way, it just demonstrates the complete utter incompetence of government.

Toronto mayor rob ford goes to rehab.  can he redeem himself and get reelected again?

Can you say “Marion Barry”? Twice elected mayor and once elected councilman. 1990 – caught smoking crack. 1994, re-elected mayor of DC.  2002 arrested for marijuana and cocaine possession. 2004 elected councilman. 2005 put on probation for not filing taxes for several years. 2011, probation extended because he didn’t file yet again.

I think Toronto has the mayor it wants. The real story here is not that Rob Ford has a vacuum hose for a nose. The real story is that a majority of Toronto voters don’t care.  The culture of Washington DC is one where using drugs does not disqualify a person from public office. Apparently the culture of Toronto is the same. In Arizona, our culture is a little different. I say “live and let live”. Just don’t make me responsible for paying for someone else’s addiction treatment.

Sexual Assault Investigation at Schools

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=308621629

 

04

05 2014

Church, State and Net Neutrality

When the US Constitution was written and approved in 1789, the Christian churches exercised a power over the culture that was at least equal – if not superior to – the power of the central government. For that reason, the culture in which the Constitution was created must be considered when interpreting the Constitution. Net neutrality today plays a role similar to that played by the christian church back then.

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American culture in the late 18th century was deeply Christian. This is not to say that every person was a Christian, or that every person believed or practiced Christianity. It is merely to say that the prevailing, publicly accepted ethic was traditional Judeo-Christian morality. Anyone who publicly violated those ethics would incur the opprobrium of the majority.

(Please note my repeated use of the words “public” and “publicly”. It is intentional.)

The Founders could implicitly rely on public morality to provide a counter-balance to any unbalanced behavior on the part of the government – at least insofar as that unbalanced behavior violated public morality and ethics. There was nothing written into the Constitution about balancing the power of the government against some external power because that external power was as common as dirt and as prevalent as air.

The situation today is greatly changed. The First Amendment to the Constitution clearly defines the most significant limit to the power of the government:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

To summarize: Congress is prohibited from:

  • Providing any governmental backing to any religion.
  • Prohibiting the exercise of any religion
  • Making it illegal to say some things
  • Abridging the freedom of the press

The powers prohibited to Congress by the First Amendment are powers that act as a counter-balance to the government. Those powers were – in 1789 – the church and the press. The power of the church is no longer a counter-balance to the power of the government, and the Olde Media press, (newspapers and broadcasters) have little more than the Public Relations arm of Government. In other words, the traditional counter-balances to government are no more.

However…

…the Internet is the great Counter-weight.

It allows the common man a voice that can be heard around the world, bypassing corporate and government gate-keepers and making public those things which governmental minions (governminions?) would prefer be kept secret.

So even though the Church is impotent and the Old Media press is co-opted, the bloggers, new media reporters and internet investigators stand today as the last line of defense against an ever-encroaching state.

“Net Neutrality” is a vital component of this counter-balancing power of the internet. If the corporate behemoths that own the “pipes” of the internet also are given power to censor the content, (by way of charging different rates for different types of data), then the balance of power is once again weighted disproportionately in favor of the rich and powerful and against the poor and powerless.

29

04 2014

Something Beautiful

Awesome video to make Monday beautiful.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bo_f8mV5khg

10

03 2014

The Brilliance of Bastiat on Government

This morning came across this gem from Bastiat on Government. Here, he mocks those who believe in the power of government because they expect it to be

…a beneficent and inexhaustible being, …which has bread for all mouths, work for all hands, capital for all enterprises, credit for all projects, oil for all wounds, balm for all sufferings, advice for all perplexities, solutions for all doubts, truths for all intellects, diversions for all who want them, milk for infancy, and wine for old age – which can provide for all our wants, satisfy all our curiosity, correct all our errors, repair all our faults, and exempt us henceforth from the necessity for foresight, prudence, judgment, sagacity, experience, order, economy, temperance, and activity.

That is both a perfect description of the modern view of government and also a timeless description of humanity’s view of a Divine Being. In our genius, we have replaced a transcendent Divine Being with an earth-bound one. <facepalm>

You can read his essays online or load them onto your Kindle through the Magic Catalog for Project Gutenberg.

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03

03 2014

Bear-Stearns Plus 6 Years

We’re coming up on the six year anniversary of the Bear-Stearns sale to JPMorgan. That was the event that motivated me to dig into the realities of the financial world. I’m preparing a bigger anniversary post for March 16th, (the anniversary of the actual event),but in the meantime, here’s a video from the protest we conducted on Wall Street in April of that year.

27

02 2014

Libertarian Paternalism: A Response to P. Pilkington

Phillip Pilkington is a research assistant at Kingston University in London and recently penned an article on “Libertarian Paternalism”. It provoked me. This is my response.

libpat[1]

Phillip,

In your article, you said:

Look, the libertarian paradigm is ridiculous… 

And then went on to state that libertarians believe:

…people exist as atoms in a world where each atom has no effects on other atoms except through completely free contractual arrangements.

To put it plainly, you’re wrong.

Whatever else you may have right in your article, you are simply wrong about what it means to be a libertarian and what libertarians believe. I agree with you that conflating “libertarian” with “paternalism” is also wrong, but you portray libertarianism as a crackpot belief system disconnected from reality.

Contrary to what you suppose, I am not mentally insulated from the world around me. You misrepresent the libertarian impulse.

Libertarianism is first and foremost an ethic; it is a belief system about how to have moral interactions with one another. The first principle of libertarianism is a moral rule, not an economic rule: Non-Aggression. To be a libertarian means to believe that coercion itself is immoral. Now, if you prefer to keep morality out of the discussion, fine, but then you are no longer talking about libertarianism, you are talking about something else — perhaps utilitarianism.

To support your assertion, you posit a “massive speculative attack on (a country’s) currency” and state that currency controls would be the appropriate response. But your illustration is flawed. Fiat currencies are innately coercive. A massive speculative attack on a fiat currency is just a battle between two criminal classes. Both are engaging in immoral acts – theft through fraud.

The libertarian response to aggression is proportionate defense.  If libertarians are disconnected from reality, then this is where the disconnect occurs: at the point of responding to overwhelming force. The people who control the reins of power in the state can and do crush individuals with impunity. The people who control the levers of fiat currency likewise crush individuals with impunity. As a libertarian, I have to stand and shout “crushing people who have done you no harm is immoral!” and for that alone I am considered a crackpot. Fine. I am a crackpot for believing that treating one another morally is preferable to treating one another as tools to be used and disposed of without a second thought.

You seem to be a good guy with a questioning mind and I appreciate that. Furthermore, you might be right and I might be wrong. If so, you’re going to have to support your assertions. Until then, you’re just making noise.

Respectfully,

Jack Heald

22

01 2014

Proposed NFL Rule Change

In my unending quest to be of service to humanity, I bring the following proposed NFL rule change to your attention.  But first, a little background.

Righting a Slight Wrong

I love football; I’ve been watching it avidly since I was less than 10 years old. I consider it the greatest team sport in the world, and want to see it thrive. To that end, I think there is an inequity in the rules that should be rectified.

credit: n0cturbulous

First, the rule in question is Rule 14, Article 2, Section 1:

“If a distance penalty, enforced from a specific spot between the goal lines would place the ball more than half the distance to the offender’s goal line, the penalty shall be half the distance from that spot to their goal line.”

In other words, if you commit a 15 yard penalty within the boundaries of your own 30 yard line, it will actually cost you less than 15 yards. Thus, the offender is penalized less harshly than if the foul occurred outside their own 30 yard line.  In other words, the defense actually has less to fear from a penalty the closer the offense gets to scoring, and the offense has less to fear from a penalty the closer they are to their own goal line.

Over the years, the of football are changed to balance inequities. For example, once the forward pass became a formidable weapon, defenses routinely engaged in pass interference to avoid giving up big plays. In response, the NFL changed the penalty for defensive pass interference so that the ball was awarded to the offense at the spot of the foul, regardless of how many yards were involved.

I believe the “half-the-distance” clause creates an inequity that could be remedied in the following manner. We will keep the rule as it stands, but add the following qualifier:

If the “half the distance” rule is enforced, then the offended team, (the team against whom the foul was committed), is allowed to “bank” whatever yardage they would have been rewarded had they been farther from their own goal line. The banked yardage accrues throughout the game and may be used when the team has the ball one time in each half. Once a team has used their “banked” yardage in a half, they will no longer accrue excess penalty yardage.

So how would this be used? Let’s say Team A has accrued 16 yards in their yardage bank during the first half of a game. They are driving to score near the end of the half, and notify the referee that they wish to exercise their banked yardage. Before the next play is run, the referee advances the ball 16 yards. If the additional yardage gives the team a first down, then a first down is rewarded. The only thing the banked yardage cannot be used for is to directly score a touchdown. A team may use banked yardage to advance the ball as far as the defense’s 1-yard line, but no farther.

Other questions:

Q. Can the defense use the banked yardage to back up the offense?

A. No, it can only be used by the offensive team.

Q. When is yardage added to the bank? 

A. Immediately after the team that is supposed to benefit from a penalty is “short-changed” some amount of yards due to the “half-the-distance” rule.

Q. Can a team use part of their yardage bank during the 1st half and carry over the remainder to the 2nd half?

A. No, all accrued yardage must be used at one time. Any unused yardage is forfeited at the end of the half.

Expected Effects:

  • Teams will use their banked yardage to score more field goals at the end of each half. Knowing that accrued penalty yards will be used to help the other team score, teams that are better disciplined will benefit more by giving fewer accrued yards to their opponents and thus suffering less than more penalized teams.
  • Commentators will criticize coaches about their misuse of banked yardage as much as they criticize coaches for their misuse of timeouts.
  • There should be a slight decrease in major penalties inside a team’s own 30 yard line.

Let’s make this happen. I’m looking at you, Bill Simmons.

12

01 2014

It made me weep…

JudgyBitch wrote this on Father’s Day. I just found it. It’s probably better for me that Father’s Day is far off in the rear-view mirror. It likely would’ve destroyed me had I read it that day.

I’m posting this under the Borderline Personality Disorder, because it fits.

 

18

09 2013