Monthly Archives: August 2018

Radical tourists

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/22/radical-leftwing-tourists-pimps-dictatorship-hugo-chavez-venezuela-sex-tourism

I should have realized that the guy who I thought was a hero for traveling to north Korea and other paces of the beaten track track, was a scumbag with an ideological fetish.  I guess I succumbed to the Halo effect.

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Multibillionaire let’s his 5 hospitals go bankrupt rather than to lose millions

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/08/31/patrick-soon-shiong-hostpial-chain-bankruptcy-verity-health-763686

Capitalism can be pretty disgusting. This is what happens when people with power don’t want to lose anything as they develop an insular notion of wealth

 

 

 

Democrats scrap superdelegate system

At least the Democrats have finally gotten rid of the undemocratic super-delegates. Strictly speaking they’re still there, but now they’re only a formality as they’ll be required to wait until the the popular vote is in before requiring them to vote with the popular vote.

Trump winning did make the Democrats more democratic, but it also turned the Republican party into the new Christian white supremacist party (with Russian support.) The Republican party wouldn’t be so far off the rails if Hillary had won, and Democrats would have been disgusted and tried to make the party more progressive for 2020. The Republican party would still like McCain, the American flag would fly at half mast for him at the white house, and the President would make a great speech about his personal qualities and how he served the country as a war hero despite any personal differences. The Supreme Court wouldn’t be insane, and the President wouldn’t call the far-left as bad as the far-right at Charleston after a skinhead ran over a Bernie Sanders supporter.

Abroad Hillary would call out Putin at Helsinki, issue sanctions on North Korea, keep the Iran deal, leave the Trans-Pacific Partnership to fullfil a campaign promise, and ultimately reevaluate the US’s relationship with China. At home she would talk about lifting the minimum wage, keep the diplomacy department fully staffed, keep the EPA strong, push renewables, and join in the fight against global warming. If the Republicans obstructed her popular policies like Obama, people would become fed up with them and it would be the last gasp of the “Rememberers” before they finally lose control.

Everything would have been better with Hillary.

Government should pay for gyms

From a socialist perspective, I just realized the government really should have public gyms in cities all over the country. It could cut down on the obesity epidemic. So many people justify their laziness by saying they don’t want to pay $5-10 a month, and they put it off year after year. (Of course the city should keep the power to kick vandals out the gym or ban them just like most libraries do.)

At the very least, the government should offer to pay for basic gym memberships for the poor. It would get those fat couch potatoes in trailers to try using the treadmills. Then it would always gnaw at their brain just like libraries and community pools do–it’s free, and your taxes are paying for it, so why aren’t you using them?

Inb4: “But you don’t need a gym to get a good workout, just go outside into the world.”

Well, that depends on where you live. You cannot get a good workout outside anywhere near heavily industrialized areas without a lungful of pollution. Even when you can, America has prioritized the rights of cars over pedestrian friendly cities with designated bike lanes separate from the threat of traffic. Just as importantly there is all of the costly equipment at gyms, they often have a pool, and trainers who lead in group calisthenics. There’s an entire culture that develops around good health as people get to know each other. If you want to spread that culture thoroughly, and those motivators, then it’s better to nudge people toward health consciousness with government policies.

Neglecting this form of preventive medicine means we will live less long, and less healthy, and the government will foot an even larger medical bill as our productivity also falls. I know I wouldn’t have tried the gym as college student if it weren’t “free” (as part of my tuition.)

 

I think more people would use gyms if we invested enough in them for them to afford interesting offerings and be less boring. We’re about to switch from dumb treadmills to simulations I find more interesting: VR and video game bikes. That way when you pedal you can actually go somewhere, and sometimes the scenery is in an exotic fantasy setting you wouldn’t see in real life.

The idea isn’t new and we’ve had video game bikes since the SNES bike, but video games have come a long way since then. Some of the ones I’ve tried were linked to social media (i.e. facebook) so you can show your scores and times to your friends. Biking in front of a TV screen is pretty boring, but if you hook it up to a video game there’s a challenge… (and the same could go for treadmills.)

I also went to a gym that has a fairly large 2 story indoor rock climbing which is definitely not something you can do at home or in your local park. It has yoga classes, zumba, and so forth too. They keep it clean, and I would go there if it were nearby, and I didn’t have to take a freeway and drive into another city just to use it.

By the way, I have lived with people who bought a treadmill, a stair-master and some bench pressing equipment. It was a waste of space since we hardly used them except for the treadmill. The stair-master wasn’t assembled correctly, but no one had the expertise to fix it. It’s a good example of where socialized property makes so much more sense and you know a gym would know a mechanic–but you couldn’t donate it to the city and expect them to use it, because we haven’t any designated places for storing gym equipment as we nominally do with libraries.

Many years later they ended up selling the bench press and weights equipment to a Mexican mover who wanted it for half off. At best his family will use it a few times a day–that means it’ll never get used nearly as much as at it would have at a 24/7 gym before it begins to become obsolete. So many people pay hundreds or thousands for their own equipment and then it just sits neglected in a garage because they don’t like the equipment. The waste is a failure of capitalism.

Maybe they wouldn’t do that if there was a gym in the city with plenty of kinds of equipment to switch through? Better funded gyms have lots of kinds of machines for working different muscles, with tennis courts, indoor basket-ball, tracks and pools–way more than you can possibly fit in your house. Koreans and Chinese already put unweighted exercise equipment in parks and they’re pretty popular. Think about it: kids are eager use the playground equipment and that equipment is everywhere, but when you become an adult you’re too big for the equipment, and for some reason we don’t invest in equivalents for adults, so there’s nothing for you to do in a park. It’s just boring empty space if you’re not a kid, which helps explain why people don’t go to parks.

Going to a gym is like going into an office–you know why you’re there, there’s little else for you to do while there, and there’s an infectious culture there. There’s also often a bookstore or brochures about eating healthy, and that knowledge tends to spread at gyms. I really think we should build subsidized public gyms right next to libraries, city hall or maybe hospitals.

Republicans are really just Russians

McCain was the last old Republican. Nowadays the majority of Republicans hate him.

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https://www.businessinsider.com/republicans-not-doing-nearly-enough-to-counter-russians-in-2018-2018-8 On Wednesday, Senate Republicans voted down Democrats’ attempt to add an additional $250 million for states to bolster their cyber security as its relates to voting machines and elections. A majority of Republicucks also think Russia should be allowed to intervene in an election. Of course they only hold this position because it suits them right now when Putin would try to keep Trump in office, and not for any principled reason.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/07/trump-voters-putin-russia/565592/

From now on I am going to call all contemporary Republicans “Russians”, because they act like them. (They don’t believe in the creed of Americans–democracy, jus soil citizenship, equality, liberty, free speech, constitutionalism, checks and balances, civil discourse, separation of church and state.

Musings on sociopathic tendencies in business and economics

Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of Theranos is clearly a sociopath. Through the power of charisma she attracted investment to a company that didn’t have an original product even though she was a conman. It’s a common story in the business world where sociopaths excel, and I’ve personally learned to distrust anyone with an unblinking piercing “deep gaze.” I no longer think a person’s facial expression or their shininess of their eyes can be taken at face value. I’ve learned from Sam Harris that the feeling you get from someone can be manipulated– it’s a trick that can be learned, and a deep gaze is one that many Buddhist gurus and priests have learned to use to appear spiritual and all knowing, and whenever I see it I remind myself that someone is probably trying to win my confidence.

Update: She’s literally the daughter of an Enron executive.

Continue reading Musings on sociopathic tendencies in business and economics

My childhood genius friend

When I was still a Christian in middle school my friend who was in the GATE program befriended an atheist kid who used to sit alone at lunch near the two of us, and he introduced us. The kid’s last school had given him an IQ test and told his mom, “Frankly your son has the best IQ we’ve ever seen and he doesn’t belong here,” so they skipped him from 4th to 7th grade and now he was taking pre-calculus. He looked like Frodo.

Elijah_Wood_as_Frodo_Baggins.png

At the same year his parents had a messy divorce which messed him up. His father was a wealthy doctor, and his mother was a controlling gold-digger who obtained alimony and never worked again while keeping a 3 bedroom house on a hill with a pool in a rich neighborhood for just her and her two kids. She told us she had gotten into a car accident that made her unable to work and was dependent on a government check, and she would say she was struggling to make ends meet. Whenever the kid visited me he would try to stay for a week, and it was as if he didn’t want to go home.

He had a superiority complex which I came to associate with atheists and he was rude, cynical and cold, and we eventually had a fall out after I invited him to come with my family on a road trip to the Grand Canyon and he complained the whole time and said he wished he hadn’t come.

(It was because of his personality and not religion). I decided to give him another chance and mend things later, but he wasn’t interested and acted like he didn’t know me even though we had talked about Civilization, Age of Empires, chess and politics for a year at lunch.

One time we talked about religion when he sleptover on a Sunday because my other friends wanted to do a bible study to keep the commandment, instead of going to church which we all hated even in late middle to early high school. He was hostile to us and tried to sabotauge it like a little kid, screaming with stretched out eyes that he was a demon and being obnoxious. The trouble when he argued is that he had no experience with other friends (let alone Christian friends), and didn’t know the bible or how to answer us because his parents were atheists. He told me the bible was just a book written by a bunch of clever old men.

He was too young to argue his case well. (He should have been in fourth grade but he was in seventh, while I was in eighth.) I tried to get him to read the bible on Sunday once and he spat in it. He had issues dealing with people, and I had no reason to take him very seriously.

He also was a complete loner, and he ended up failing at school, not adjusting, and being isolated from his peers at school. He was held back three years, was homeschooled at the end, and graduated with a GED. One of my stupid theist friends remained friends with him because 1) he felt sorry for him 2) was probably a repressed gay (he called himself assexual) 3) was as immature as a little kid and 4) he wanted to learn from his perceived intelligence because he was an academic failure who had been held back.

The last time I saw the genius kid, it was at my other friend’s house right after high school.

He had grown his unkempt curly brown hair out and looked like Frodo, had about 40 pimples on his unwashed face, wore a plain gray T-shirt and shorts, and he smelled because he said he said hadn’t taken a shower in a week. He had Frodo’s green eyes and often bragged about his German ancestry. I was still nice to him, but he just wasn’t interested.

P.S. I hope you can learn something from this childhood story. I was a ChristIan with a fairly closed mind, but I liked to argue and debate, and I might have eventually learned atheism from him if we hadn’t had a fallout because of his poor personality.

I’m also saying that Frederick Nietzsche’s philosophy and personality will never deconvert anyone to atheism. It’s just not effective and they will focus on your insults, perceived slights and tone rather than on the merit of your arguments.

Reading a guide to manual atheists.

I’m reading “A manual to creating atheists.” So far he has raised some good points about the importance of theist emotions and “meeting people on their level.” His approach is dumbing down your argument and not completing it, but instead stimulating their brains to finish the argument for you.

His approach has limits. From personal experience I was a kid on a plane from Hawaii and an evolutionist sat next to me and tried to talk me out of believing evolution was false. I told him, “Maybe the fossils were thereto deceive people.” He laughed as though it was a joke, and sat back.

What he didn’t realize is his technique didn’t get me to think about it. I was satisfied and thought I had come up with a clever answer up until I actually took a couple biology classes. It did help me to clearly embrace an idea and identity that could then be attacked and rejected, but one quick conversation with a stranger on a plane won’the do much. Honestly that was the only time I was exposed to someone who I thought was an atheist until college.

Oh, there was one more exception, but it has enough themes that it deserves another topic.