Archive for October, 2010

I Am Not A Very Good Anti-War Activist

October 26, 2010

Do you remember the Viet Nam War? It was the first war ‘televised’.  Little did we know how  news editors  manipulated images and feeds from the U.S. government to shape public opinion about the war.

For those of you too young to remember the Viet Nam War… Viet Nam had been a French colony, and when the French were edged out by the Viet Namese, the French actually convinced the U.S. government that  the country would go COMMUNIST unless we Americans aided the loyal opposition.

We had no idea how organized they were, or if they had real support throughout the country, but  it appeared they had support of the southerners, and so, there became a North Viet Nam and a South Viet Nam.  With no proof of anything, a few  key players convinced our politicians, and  our State Department thaw—with military support from the U.S., ‘we’ could win  what was actually a civil war, and prevent the whole Indochinese region from….’going communist’.

I got to thinking about this because I was listening to This American Life and the  very compelling  story, Iraq  After Us.  Here is the link, so you can listen yourself:  http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/416/iraq-after-us

We Americans are s arrogant. We are so cock-sure we are right and moral and  infallible.  We do a piss-pour job educating ourselves—and we admit it—but get into a frenzy when out politicians—most of whom are NOT deep thinkers and whom we don’t trust, convince us that we and our way of life are under attack, and we must kill them before they kill us.

So…what do we do?  We send muddled thinking volunteers who fall for this propaganda to get themselves either killed or mutilated, or mentally screwed.  We didn’t learn from the Viet Nam experience  (the fact is, that many of those who remember it are not respected.  We are written off as old and out of touch), and  the media plays into this.  Every soldier is a hero.  It isn’t their fault things go wrong.  They couldn’t get jobs and had families to support AND—they are protecting our way of life.

Our way of life?  You mean the right to go bankrupt when you  are unlucky enough to contract a chronic illness?  Or to be paying off school loans on a degree you were led to believe would always  guarantee you a job?  I don’t get it.  I really don’t.

What has actually happened is that people of marginal intelligence are being taken out of the gene pool …and the people left  to breed in the U.S, are …for the most part…draining our society, not contributing.   This is what the statistical evidence clearly bears out.

There used to be a group called The Coalition for New Priorities that demonstrated clear, statistical evidence that for the money we spent on wars & the military, we could be energy self-sufficient with much less pollution, and we could all have  access to free health care.  The current main stream politicians call them ….socialists.  I was hoping with Barack Obama we’d come close to addressing this, but someone has convinced him that pouring money down the corrupt manhole that is Afghanistan will lead to them being able to govern their own country—as a country—and for a variety of reasons (mostly economic, but also cultural) that will never happen.

During the  Dubya Bush administration—during the war on Iraq (remember—weapons of mass destruction) we gave something like $280.000 A WEEK to Achmed Chalabi) for intelligence .  It all turned out to be bogus. A bunch of lies.  Gee, I wonder who he knew & was able to convince the United States Government to pay him. Who authorized that?  Don’t you wonder?  He was not an American citizen.  He just thought he had a good chance of being president of Iraq.  Iraq—part of greater Persia & the Ottoman empire—was not a COUNTRY until the British made it so after World War 1.   It was, essentially,  no mans land, a bunch of city states.  It defies any sort of logic that we would still be  dying to prop up an idea in our minds that this could be an actual country…just to make it easier to  get their oil to drive our vehicles when we could have poured the same amount of money into research to have Prius type hybrids a decade earlier.

I have recently had to make a very poor compromise in voting choices to  keep the conservative Republicans from  turning back the clock on some of the good government changes that have occurred under Obama.  I should have voted for the Green Party candidates, but I felt I had to vote for the body politic & not risk going back to 8 more years of utter stupidity.

Thankfully, with the internet, it is easier to nag our politicians.  I urge anyone reading this to click the link above & listen to what we’ve done NOT TO A COUNTRY—but to innocent people for a half-baked idea.  We should all be embarrassed.  I sure am.

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More on integrity—or the lack thereof….

October 13, 2010

When people think about culture, they tend to think about the physical stuff:  how people dress, food, music, visual arts.  We might think about what people believe.  Of course, our baseline—-our emic view, is what WE believe. What we believe is normal.  Everything else is either  bad, good, strange, funny, gross, shocking, beautiful, or whatever… in relation to what we call normal.

One idea, or value that we in America hold as a given—and actually what has made our economy thrive—is our cultural belief in credit, and honorably paying ones debts and honoring our commitments.  Since the economy  blew up—& we now know this happened because of the behavior of the banking and credit sectors  (including insurance)—industries based on the concept of  honoring commitments and being honest about them—-all bets are off.

In the early 1990’s Carter Roeber, a student at Northwestern University, under the guidance of anthropologist Karen Tranberg Hansen, went to Zambia  to study the concept of trust and credit in another culture.

Shylocks and Mabisinesi: Trust, Informal Credit and Commercial Culture In Kabwe, Zambia” was the dissertation he wrote.

What Carter learned about credit was that the less education and social standing people have, the less long-term their view (as a community) is, and the less access to credit they have.   Thus, they pay more for credit.   In fact, they end up paying a high rate of interest—what we used to call in the U.S. a juice loan.   It was what ‘The Mob’ squeezed out of you if you didn’t pay up.

Because they are not allowed to borrow from formal sources like banks,  they  pawn stuff & go to informal moneylenders.

This is important because our whole economy in the U.S. is based on access to credit. Now, what has happened is, that as our educational system is failing, and more and more people are innumerate and don’t understand interest or how it is calculated, they are going to PayDay loan shops & doing what the uneducated Zambians were doing 20  years ago.  Only this is America.  And it’s legal because it is not illegal.  & this will create more desperate people more likely to become involved in dangerous criminal activity.

That is one problem with lack of integrity

Here is a different example   In  the 1980s, many members of the American Miniature Schnauzer Club  realized that  many of the dogs they bred were  ending up  with  juvenile cataracts.  They realized it was no coincidence that so many dogs were going blind by the age of 2. They knew it was a hereditary condition.   They wanted to breed genetically sound dogs because they loved the dogs they were breeding. So , working with veterinary opthamologists, they embarked on a test breeding program to eliminate  Congenital Juvenile Cataracts— CJC.

They learned that  bitches who were blind, bred to males who might be carriers, produced a statistically significant number of puppies who would develop cataracts.  This way, they were able to eliminate  dogs of their own breeding who were carriers of CJC.

This was heartbreaking for many hobby breeders. They had to sell  some beloved dogs as pets (or keep them & not breed them) & start all over again.  In less than 10 years, they virtually eliminated CJC in well bred Miniature Schnauzers.  Notice, I do not say AKC registered Schnauzers, because hobby breeders are not the only ones breeding  AKC Miniature Schnauzers.  Backyard breeders & puppy mills also breed Schnauzers, & most of these people do not consult a veterinarian before they breed their dogs, and even if they did, virtually no veterinarian would advise them to have their dogs’ eyes dilated &  request a Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certificate.

And here is what happened:  those ethical hobby breeders  originally gave the  Schnauzer pups that were carriers of blindness (but not blind themselves) away—without AKC papers… and they explained to those puppy buyers why the pups were being given away and were not to be bred. But what the hobby breeders learned was that  NOT EVERYBODY HAS INTEGRITY.  & what started happening was that  those puppy buyers would find each other & breed to each others dogs, & they could get a Continental Kennel Club or APRI  registration (of course, this means nothing, but they sell the pups as registered…or puppy mill breeders would have left over registration forms from other litters …You can ask the AKC for all the registration forms you want—they do not check), so they’d register these  breedable dogs.

Ultimately, the ethical hobby breeders learned what was happening & started neutering the pups at a very young age—selling them neutered—so this would not be a problem, but the horse had escaped from the barn as they say…& that is why knowing the breeder, and knowing that others know the breeder—is important.

How are these issues of integrity related?  What does breeding dogs have to do with  honoring one’s word?  We are losing this integrity in the U.S.

It’s not illegal, so it must be legal…  If you are not an informed consumer, you will be screwed…and it may break your heart.

This is why I don’t trust organized religion. The leaders are so often involved in unethical behavior themselves while trying to bamboozle a flock into behaving.