Friday, November 29, 2013

Why Do We Regulate Pain Killers But Not Antibiotics?

Two points: I just finished watching the PBS|Frontline documentary Chasing The Nightmare Bacteria; I also just read about a massive study showing that access to pain killers is poor. You can watch the documentary below.

The takeaway from the documentary is that we are charging headlong into a massive, global, health crisis the likes of which the post-war era has not seen. We are overusing antibiotics in our food supply, and even with that not taken into account, fifty-percent of antibiotics are unnecessary. We should be regulating antibiotics like crazy, and yet we aren't.

What are we regulating? Pain killers. The study to which I linked above says that the regulations applied to pain killers had good intentions, but now they are causing harm.

No. They never had good intentions, and the intentions that we actually had all but guaranteed the negative outcomes that we now face.

We regulated pain killing drugs because they are "fun" drugs. Any and all fun drugs are bad, because fun is bad. Semi-legal fun drugs are even worse, because we cannot call those who use them necessarily scum. We regulate it because doctors judge their patients and disregard their pain.

My father has diabetic neuropathy in his legs, a type of pain that is known to be resistant to opioid analgesics. He is also opioid-resistent, making the problem worse.. (I am also opioid-resistant, but I'm not in pain, so it doesn't much matter to me.) This means that very few pain killers work for him. He actually had a doctor tell him "this dose works for me, so it will work for you."

Along with that stunning, stunning, display of arrogance, my dad has had to face judgmental stares, questions, and disapproving tisks from nurses and doctors. It took months of pain before a doctor finally listened to him. Months of pain.

I have felt it, especially now that I have to present an ID to get simple pseudoephedrine: guilt. I have been trained by society to feel bad about using particular drugs. This mindset extends into the medical world, but the coin is flipped. Whereas I feel guilty about using the drugs, the person in a position of power, the doctor, feels judgmental about my using and asking for the drugs.

If I am in pain, then I must suffer nobly, otherwise I am a bad person. No fun drugs for me! Because having fun is bad.As I mentioned, semi-legal fun drugs are the worst for a judgmental society, because we cannot automatically label those who use them as deviant. As such, we must put those who do use them through a rubicon of pain, judgment, scorn, and red tape to ensure they feel correctly bad about using them. You may not be scum, but you are almost scum.

We regulate pain killers for the same reason we regulate marijuana, cocaine, and heroin — for the same reason we imprison huge numbers of people every year for victimless crimes. We do it out of sheer, unmitigated stupidity driven by a history of conservative, Christian judgment and racism. And as I said, the problems we now face of unaddressed pain in patients: almost inevitable.

When we base decisions on blind dogma, the outcomes are always going to be bad. Dogma is almost never right, because if it were right, then it wouldn't be dogma. It would simply be knowledge.

If I smoke marijuana (which I do not do, never have done, and never will do) I hurt no one. I barely hurt myself. But if I take an antibiotic, I could theoretically create the germ that kills us all.

So tell me again, why is marijuana the one that gets me thrown into jail?

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Science Proves: Avoid Politics If You Care About Your Sanity

A study came out awhile back showing that politics kills your ability to effectively analyze data. For most informed people (and informed is a label that could be correctly applied to a very small percentage of the population), this was a total well duh! moment. Still, it's always good to have some rigidly-created data to back up anecdotal observation.

Every time I see something like this, I get depressed. As someone who loves science and philosophy, history and literature, the predilection for humanity to just revel in its own prejudice and stupidity is enough to send me off a bridge. To combat this suicidal drive, I read Machiavelli. While I think that The Prince may have been dark satire, its cold, cruel views of humanity always make me feel that if humans want so desperately to be tricked, then goddamnit, trick them.

Monday, June 10, 2013

This is Obama's Legacy

While I know that my voice is small and insignificant, while I know very few care about my thoughts, I feel the need to speak on this. I feel the need if for no other reason than to simply add one more spit of fuel to a fire that desperately needs to grow. I speak in the hope that this fire may engulf the nation and burn away that which needs to burn.

I never had hope. I never expected change. I never expected this. I never expected a president who, time and again, has proven himself the equal of George W. Bush in almost all matters. His failure has been spectacular. And while he has had some high-profile successes, such as Obamacare, and for these many of my progressive friends have given him props, I was reading about his constant and persistent failures in the journals and articles on civil rights, copyright, freedom of speech, and equal rights. I was reading about the small, operational decisions that most people don't care about. For me, this blowup over the NSA was, for lack of a better word, expected.

Osama Bin Laden should be proud. He didn't destroy the U.S. like he, for some reason, thought he would. Instead, thanks to fear mongering politicians, an idiotic populace, and two presidencies headed by men without scruples, he has managed to cause us to build what is perhaps the infrastructure to the greatest police state the world has ever known.

The U.S. is obviously not currently a police state. Progressive activists will point to certain elements of it that are similar to it -- be it police abuse, overreaching government, the TSA, or institutional bigotry -- but on the whole, the U.S. is decently free. But we are on a precipice. The slope is not nearly as slippery as conservative wingnuts would have you believe, but we have spent the past thirteen years, slowly but surely, walking down that slope. And now, here we are, further down that slope that many probably suspected we were.

It was an overused phrase during Bush's reign, and perhaps we are all still weary of it, but I will repeat it anyhow, in its non-paraphrased form. They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Friday, June 07, 2013

I Have Stopped Reading The News

I give up. I'm waving the white flag. I simply can't take the punishment anymore.

I am, of course, referring to the news. I used to get my news via MyYahoo!, which actually provided me a degree of protection of which I was unaware. It did it by being a really poor product. Feeds would fail to load on a regular basis, refreshes wouldn't happen, and the overall speed was pretty slow. This forced a restrictor on the flow of news from the various services to my eyeballs. This meant that, on any given day, I would only be exposed to a small handful of big news stories that reminded me that the world is shit.

Unfortunately, Google had to go and upset my little arrangement. A couple of months ago, Google announced that Google Reader was getting shut down. This caused everyone who had been using it to make the jump to another program called Feedly, which became an instant superstar. Out of curiosity, I made the jump from MyYahoo! to Feedly, and ho. Lee. Crap. The feeds to which I'm subscribed produce over five-hundred posts per day. I would spend hours just digging through the headlines, much less reading them. I was completely unaware of how much stuff is written. Billions of words, every day, efficiently being dumped into a list of stories that, no matter how fast I read, never seemed to empty. There was always more to read.

This alone would have been enough to overwhelm me. The subject matter, though, was what pushed me over the edge.

From my analysis of news stories over the past two months, I feel safe in concluding that the world is, and I believe that this is a scientific term, fucked. Like, really fucked. There is no place on Earth that isn't fucked. If the government is alright, then that country can expect to be turned into a burnt cinder by global warming. If the environment is alright, the government is set on being as bad as possible. If neither of those things are bad, then the economy is shit. And in all places, at all times, corporations are trying to destroy us all.

The first thing that I stopped reading was Alternet. I like the website. I think that it is a useful website. But the constant outrage -- the fact that no matter where you look there is extreme injustice -- I just couldn't take it.

The next thing that I stopped reading was Salon, another progressive website that is lighter on the injustice than Alternet, but still depressing enough to drive me into the arms of a warm coffee for comfort and a blank wall for entertainment.

After that, website after website fell. I lost interest in my gadget websites because everything on them is being manufactured by slave labor in shit-hole countries. I stopped reading about cars because gas costs $4,345.92 per gallon. I stopped reading economics news because no matter our education level, we are doomed to a future of poor pay and no free time. I stopped reading foreign policy news because other countries suck, and the U.S. sucks, and when the two combine it's like speed and kinetic energy -- double the country count and you don't double the suckiness, you actually quadruple it.

These trials and tribulations did provide one positive thing, though, and that is a new perspective. Currently, progressive media has a problem: very few people read it, and even though the Internet is overflowing with options for news, the majority of people get there news from a small number of sources. Before this experience, I was as puzzled as everyone else. I am no longer puzzled.

Not only is it freaking difficult to actually access with some acceptable speed all of the stories being published every day, but the subject matter is so universally depressing that it turns people into shell-shocked zombies, incapable of integrating further news in any meaningful way. To truly know what's going on is to feel depressed and powerless. There are so many wrongs that need righting, and those in power, nearly them all, couldn't care less. It is a war with a thousand fronts. It is overwhelming.

Since I stopped reading the news, I've been able to get more work done. I haven't been much happier, because I still know that nearly unfathomable injustice is being perpetrated whether I know about it or not. I have been more capable of dealing with that, though. Seeing the photos of this or that catastrophe would sap every bit of emotional energy that I had. I would simply sit there, unable to do anything.

I'd imagine that I will go back at some point. I care too much and think it too important to never go back. But for now, at this point in my life, when things are so difficult, I simply can't. I can't be made aware of the events because I cannot help but care. I cannot turn off my empathy and sympathy mechanisms. When exposed to certain stimuli, they activate, and on many days, it cripples me. I cannot afford to be crippled.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

RIP Roger Ebert

I have been profoundly affected by the death of Roger Ebert. I’m finding it difficult to simply do things.

When someone who is so good dies, especially someone as iconic as Ebert, it's hard to believe that they will ever be replaced. It's as though the world has suffered an irreparable loss. Even though my rational mind knows that there will be others, at this moment, my emotions will not let that thought take hold. Today, the world is less.

It seems odd to wax so poetic about a movie critic, but Ebert became much more than that. He was a prominent and charismatic intersection of social criticism, entertainment, art, and politics. He was a singular person. No other film critic comes close, and few writers begin to approach his scope of social analysis. Fewer still did it all while being so amazingly entertaining.

For me, this is the end of an era.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Monsanto Doesn't Need Protection. They Need a Boot to the Ass.

(UPDATE: Apparently, this entire thing is false. My statements about Monsanto still stand.)

Salon is reporting on how Monsanto successfully, and anonymously no less, managed to sneak a provision into Agriculture Appropriations Bill — basically the budget for federal spending on farms. This provision does precisely what you would expect a massive, evil corporation would want a provision to do: protect them from fallout caused by their own chicanery. In this case, the little provision is about preventing lawsuits regarding injury caused by GM seeds.

Now, first things first, I am not an enemy of genetically modified food-stuffs. I have almost no doubts about their safeness for human consumption, so this Monsanto Protection Act would likely never be used.1

The much more dangerous possibility, and the one for which I am leery of GMO anything, is ecological damage. While we can test foods on humans, we cannot test organisms on nature. The consequences of a super-plant, which is precisely what GM companies intends to make, when thrown into nature has a much higher probability of being damaging.

Moreover, I am also a hard-core anti-Monsanto fanatic, so potential application or not, I want to stop Monsanto from doing just about anything. There are few corporations that are as demonstrably evil as Monsanto. They are an appalling corporation run by appalling people. We should not be protecting them; we should be dismantling them.

As Salon notes,
“It sets a terrible precedent,” noted the International Business Times. “Though it will only remain in effect for six months until the government finds another way to fund its operations, the message it sends is that corporations can get around consumer safety protections if they get Congress on their side. Furthermore, it sets a precedent that suggests that court challenges are a privilege, not a right.”
It’s a terrible precedent that Monsanto will work to ensure becomes as solid as possible.


1: There have been a few scary studies, such as a well-reported one last year involving rats developing tumors. That said, the majority of studies show no issues. That’s not to say there aren’t issues. Indeed, I wouldn't be much surprised if there were, but as it stands, with todays data, they seem safe. Pesticides are another thing.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Conservatives Own Their History

I have often argued that to accept a worldview requires you to accept the history of that worldview — its genesis. You have to own that history. Frequently, this can be painful. Lots of worldviews have some nasty underpinnings. For example, the history that I must own because of my education in psychology is pretty dark. Indeed, many of my classes dedicated significant amounts of time to discussing the manifold failures of science and ethics that peppers the history of psychology and psychiatry. Owning, understanding, and thus learning from that history was a primary element of our education.

Not owning one's history generally requires revisionist history, whereby the nasty elements are either ignored (denialism), reduced in significance (reductionism), or reframed in such a way that makes those who enacted the bad stuff seem less bad — sort of a reverse ad hominem attack. Most of the time, these forms of revisionism don't hold up to even the slightest analysis. How, then, can people possibly believe them?

I don't think that they do.

Almost all revisionist history is found on the extreme ends of the spectrum. I don't want to say conservatism exclusively, because forms of extreme liberalism can be similarly insane. In the U.S. at least, "conservatives" are almost wholly responsible for this sort of behavior.

A funny thing happened on the way to the Capitol, recently. Conservatives are giving up on the revisionism publicly. Previously, they would vociferously deny racism and jingoism and try to fight on the same terms as the liberals and progressives. It doesn't take too long on a well-known progressive website like Alternet or Mother Jones to find extensive analysis of the inconsistencies inherent to this strategy. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it generally turns out to be bullshit.

It results in the Republican party currently trying to argue that their strategy will increase racial quality, increase tax revenue, increase good, decrease bad, and so on. Of course, as I mentioned, it takes little effort to find inconsistencies in this rhetorical strategy, but the current conservative movement is relying on its adherents not doing research. That works in the short term, but the slow death currently being suffered by the American conservative movement shows that it doesn't work in the long term.

Thus we have a few Republicans coming out saying that Republicans need to, for lack of a better term, stop being stupid. The most notable one that springs to mind is Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana -- a state that has taken full advantage of Bush's school voucher program to send its children to dozens of newly opened fundamentalist Christian schools.

Unfortunately for the future of the party, the majority of them are not doing this. They are reacting to the changing political landscape, though, and this is coming in the form of cracks —  cracks in their public facade behind which hides all of the nasty stuff that has been festering under the surface for the past seventy-five years. Overt racism, misogyny, fear, and intolerance were all more or less obvious, but they were hidden behind euphemism and circumlocution, and if those speaking the hate were ever called out on it, they would fall back on said euphemism and circumlocution to say that their attacker was "seeing things."

Now, though, not we have cracks. I suspect that these cracks represent the death throes of a fading social entity, to wit, the conservative, post-Depression social mores that defined the Greatest Generation and many of the Baby Boomers.

Some recent and salient examples of these cracks are Antonin Scalia barely hiding his homophobia and racism. We have dozens of examples of lesser people doing similar things, and while not nearly all of them are letting their defenses down enough to see all of the 'isms therein, they are letting them down enough to see the strange rationalizations that they use in private.

The example that sticks in my mind, and the example that triggered this article, was a set of comments from a variety of people in the Republican Party about how Joseph McCarthy was justified in fueling the Red Scare, and indeed, the Red Scare itself was completely reasonable. Again, this is unsupported by the evidence, but it is significant because the pretense of generally agreeing with the historical consensus has been dropped. No longer do they try to argue that the Soviet Union was a threat, but the Red Scare itself was wrong. Now they admit that they think that any charge against "evil" is justified in the righteous fire of American Freedom. They are now using the argument that McCarthyism was justified as support for whatever social crusade they believe needs to be enacted today.

The moral and philosophical ancestors of the current conservative movement are no longer being rejected by the conservative movement. They are owning their history, and I think that that is a big deal.

As I mentioned, I think that this represents the death throes of a social system. When faced with adversity, and unable to reconcile their views with the emerging mores, the movement is doubling down on their beliefs and are rejecting the rhetorical assumptions that have previously defined the arguments.

By rhetorical assumptions, I mean the set of unspoken beliefs about the definition and value of certain words that underlie a discussion. At the most basic layer, we have terms that are representative of physical phenomena: ball, cloud, rock. But anywhere above the basic layer of language, values and judgements are attached to the words: good, freedom, mother, bad. These values and judgments come from the massive and complex system that gave rise to the people using the words. The further apart two people are vis-a-vis their rhetorical assumptions, the more difficult communication becomes, because most of our higher level language is predicated on these assumptions. It can reasonably be argued that the history of philosophy has been a three-thousand-year-old process to strip away assumptions in a quest for a perfect language.

Many of today's rhetorical assumptions were defined with the last major social shift: the counter-culture. I'm using that term to describe everything that exploded post-WWII: feminism, civil rights, free love, drugs. The educated progressives of the day helped to define the values on which our modern language rests. Sixty-five years ago, a white person could casually describe a black person as a nigger in public with little fear of retribution. Today, though, doing so would be social suicide.

This is because, for all intents and purposes, we won the culture war. For a long time, the reaction of those on the losing end was to complain about "political correctness." That's the reason why that term is always used in a negative way. Political correctness is the sigh of the oppressed bigot.

Now, we have the oppression being cast off. They aren't going so far as to call anyone who is anywhere past off-white as a nigger, although I am confident that they are doing so in private, but they are complaining about how whites are the oppressed. Whites need to be afraid. Whites are under attack. They then look to a glorified past of white supremacy to show how "their" world is crumbling away.

And in their bizarre minds, this is true. They are still raging against a culture war that they lost decades ago. Rush Limbaugh has lost, as best as I can tell, damn-near all of his sponsors after his attacks on Sandra Fluke. Fox News ratings, though still easily #1, have fallen for the past many years. Gay marriage went from having minority support to majority support in less than five years. Acceptance of misogyny and the patriarchy is becoming widespread.

These are all good things from a reasonable perspective, but those who lost the culture war are not reasonable. They are angry. They are afraid. And they are going to make life miserable for the rest of us until they finally die out.

At least, as the Tea Party has put in stark display, these people are no longer pretending to be arguing the same things as us. They are openly admitting that they reject reason and rationale. They are openly admitting that they are speaking a different language from me. They are openly admitting that there can never be a common ground, and we are seeing this in Congress. There is no hope. All we can do is relax, and wait for the inevitable day when the world of the white conservative does precisely what white conservative are afraid of: pass into history.

So, my dear conservatives, roar and rage all you like. We won the war. The rest is just a waiting game. And I'm a lot younger than you, so I have all the time in the world.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Really Existing Free Markets

This is less than an hour out of your life that will hopefully change your views, if you haven't already heard this. It was a seminal speech given by Noam Chomsky and one of the most piercing bits of economic philosophy done in the past fifty years. I stress philosophy, because this is not economics. He mentions many economic studies to back up his philosophical thesis, but it is definitely logical and qualitative in nature.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

The Greatest Intellectual Dishonesty Of Religious Believers

I was just watching a documentary about Catholic history, and I was thinking about how so much of early Catholic belief was pulled from someone's ass. Indeed, after Augustine, and even a bit before him, difficulties in reaching conclusions from scripture alone resulted in the generally-accepted practice of determining doctrine from the works of interpreters. As such, we are in our current bizarre situation, where the vast majority of Christian dogma cannot be found in any gospels or scrolls.

For my part, the point of greatest WTF, and indeed the point of greatest intellectual dishonesty, lies with the learned members of the church who rabidly research church history, and thus admit the truth of the history, yet seem to ignore the inconsistency inherent to this. To wit, if one accepts the history of the church, they must accept that beliefs and behaviors have changed and evolved, existed before the church, and will likely exist after the church has faded. Indeed, they must accept that the church will likely fade.

How can one's beliefs be timeless and be true, if they were different in the past? To me, it is impossible. If an eternal truth is one way today, then it must have been the same in the past, and will be the same in the future. Admitting the evolution of the truth negates its status as true, at least as regards this situation.

For the average church-goer, my criticism doesn't much apply. Many of them are unaware of the history of their own church, and are even less aware of obscure theological conflicts like the "mystery" of the Trinity. Since their beliefs are nebulous and undefined, there is no conflict, and thus no intellectual shenanigans. But the hypocritical dishonesty necessary to accept the evolution of one's own dogma while still asserting the truth of that dogma is almost beyond my ability to understand.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Save The U.S. Post Office

I, a priest, a rabbi, and a shit-load of asshat Congresspeople who are trying to force the USPS out of business, all walk into the Post Office... all of them. I'm not kidding. I was in the Post Office about two hours ago and it was like a sardine can.

The fact that it was packed to literally overflowing was not what angered me. If anything, I felt sympathy for the man behind the counter, who was obviously frantic in his attempts to clear the line all by his lonesome. He complained loudly that back-up was supposed to be arriving, but "who knows?"

What infuriated me was the fact that this line -- this annoyance -- was business. Business was booming! If the UPS Store or Fedex Store had lines like this, they would be doing twice their current business. And yet, the USPS is losing money? How is that possible?

Oh right. It's not actually losing money. It's earning money. It's earning about a $1 billion annually. The reason why it is still technically losing money is those aforementioned asshat congresspeople who are literally forcing it to lose money.

To me, the USPS represents the corpus of America. It's on life support. It's being clogged up with idiotic hyper-conservative wingnuts. And it's on the verge of a collapse brought on by those wingnuts.

I do not think it exaggeration to say that as goes the Post Office, so goes America. And if we are stupid enough to, completely intentionally, drive this entire thing to collapse, then we deserve the bed we have made. We deserve every, single, fucking moment that we are forced to sleep in it.

Save the post office.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

The Open-Minded Westerner

The horse meat scandal that continues to unfold over in the UK (and seems destined to trigger a WTO conflict over what kind of import restrictions countries can implement) has also provided an interesting insight into the progression of Western thought.

Fifty years ago, if something like this had happened, we would have been up in arms. With one voice, we would have called out those in the countries passing this meat off as beef as savages. I don't mean something specifically like this, but a similar case of something that is socially acceptable in one culture coming into conflict with the mores of our culture.

The horse meat scandal has been met with two responses: people angry that they don't know what is in their meat; and people who seem to be entirely open to the prospect of eating horse nonetheless.

While the first response is probably the most important -- our global food system is a train wreck and this only serves to highlight that problem -- it is the second response that makes me smile. I have read dozens of articles online talking about eating horse meat as healthy, the ways to eat horse meat, what cultures do it regularly, and why we grew to not eat horse meat in America.

But what I have seen nary a mention of is how appalling it is to be eating horses. Imagine if people found that the burgers were 20% bug meat. Still harmless. Still meat. But people would be vomiting. That was the response that I was more-or-less expecting.

I think it a testament to general cultural progress when, after discovering that we are eating horses, that we respond with a general shrug. We're still angry, no doubt about that, but not because of the specific thing we were eating. We are angry because yet again, giant corporations are lying to us.1

It may seem odd to focus on this, but it makes me happy. It reminds me that we are progressing. It reminds me that deeply held culture dogmas can simply fade away, to be replaced with perspective and understanding.


1: I know that this is more complex than that, since the corporations were also lied to. But when a company is trying to sell crappy beef at super-cheap prices, color me not surprised when their supply chain management breaks down. Also color me not compassionate to their plight when the end result, horse meat, is only a single, salient element of a gigantic, broken system that they themselves perpetuate and defend.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Pathology of Arrogance

Jamie Dimon, the president of J.P. Morgan recent responded with "that's why I'm richer than you," in response to a question from an analyst during the earnings call for the company.

First, if Dimon's first response to a legitimate question is to belittle the interviewer, he is every bit the dickhead that many assume him to be. Second, it is utterly laughable that he thinks he is richer than someone else because of some skill or quality on his part. He is richer because of his life, his connections, his upbringing.

How can I say without doubt that it has nothing to do with his skill? Well, if not for the goddamned government bailout, J.P. Morgan would have gone out of business. And it is currently earning almost nothing once tax payer subsidies are taken away.

Yeah. He's brilliant.

Scalia Pretty Much Just Comes Out as a Racist

How do you put words to this? I mean... no. You don't. There is no reason to put words to this, at least not yet. The mere act of pointing to it is enough. Simply recognizing it is all that really needs to be said.

Judge Antonin Scalia has gone full Fox-News with a recent statement, saying that the Voting Rights Act is an example of racial entitlement. Because, you know how we give blacks everything. They're just too damned lazy to make use of it.

I was reading about SCOTUS cases a few days ago and was blown away to find that as early as 1986, we had a decision that upheld laws against homosexuality, Bowers v. Hardwick. It was fully overturned in 2003, where the court majority opinion was that it was wrong in 1986, and it is wrong now.

Of course, Scalia, along with Thomas and Rehnquist, were the dissenters. I'm glad to see that Scalia's vile bigotry and hate remains unchanged.

I do not think that I can effectively communicate through the typed word, at least not in the format of a simple blog post, the anger that causes my hands to shake even now. I want to swear like a ship full of sailors. I want to just smash by keyboard for ten minutes and then post it. The fact that this troglodyte of a human is a member of what is likely the most powerful judicial entity on Earth makes blood come from my ears.

Also in this is yet another example of the racism that is almost undoubtedly endemic in the tea party movement that defenders of the movement try to claim doesn't exist. Really? How many "isolated incidents" like this need to happen before everyone accepts that the current conservative movement is as much predicated on hatred of non-whites as it is paranoid hatred of government? A hundred? A thousand?

I will not mince words. He is scum. He is the highest representation of the infection of block-headed conservatism to which Fox News panders. Old men, clogging up the functioning of society. All that gives me hope is that they will all be dead sooner or later. Based on the fact that these men don't seem to much believe in doctors and good diet (hippy conspiracies and all that), I would assume that it will be sooner rather than later.

The world will be a better place when they are gone.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Intel and AMD Have Two Years To Get Their Shit Together

My post from yesterday talked about how happy I am that the portable processing market is seeing an explosion of innovation and development so fast that it will soon threaten the traditional computing market. CES is doing more to evince that reality than anything in the past two years.

Samsung, Nvidia, and Qualcomm are all releasing new, super-powered versions of their processors. Samsung is wedging eight full cores into their new processor, Nvidia's Tegra 4 has 72 virtual cores, and Qualcomm's newest Snapdragon 800 will allow for 4K resolutions and graphics power that is more than double the previous generation. When was the last time we saw leaps and bounds like that in the traditional processor space? Oh right. Never.

As the video below points out, the new Tegra 4 already delivers graphics on par with the Xbox 360, and at a higher resolution to boot. At this rate, it will only be a matter of time before this architecture and paradigm eclipses the old, x86 paradigm and architecture for every consumer use.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Phones And Tablets Are Getting Faster. Thank god.

CES is going on as we speak... I mean write... and by we, I mean I, since you aren't writing. Well, you might be writing. I don't know.

One of the biggest companies that is presenting is Intel, who is showing off integrated television technology about which no one gives even a single shit, and their newest line of processors, about which almost everyone gives at least one shit. Their upcoming processors offer a performance increase over the previous generation of, at most, 15%. This may seem pretty cool, since desktop processors usually moved in increments that large, but it's not. It's boring.

Compare this to other technology markets. Hard drives halve their prices every year while seeing 25% increases in storage capacity. I have two 2TB hard drives in my desktop right now that cost me less than $300 in total. And yet an Intel processor released a year and a half ago is still selling for the same price.

I have frequently suspected that, at least recently, the reason for this comparatively slow progress was that Intel utterly dominated the processor market. Other companies just could not get their act together in any signficant way. Just look at the graveyard of broken processor companies: Cyrix, Transmeta, VIA, IDT. And in almost all cases, their performance lagged Intel's chips. Even today, with only AMD remaining, AMD's chips cannot compete clock-for-clock. Intel is king.

What is a consumer to do? Grin and bear it? That's what we've been doing with Intel for years. Unfortunately, we cannot simply refuse to buy their products. Those of us in the know can buy our own processors from AMD (which I have done), but for the average person who simply wants a laptop to watch Downton Abbey on, they're stuck. It's Intel or nothing.

This tyranny is one of the reasons I suspect so many companies are jumping all over the tablet/cellphone bandwagon. There is no Intel hegemony. Indeed, Intel can't crack into this market to save their life. And precisely because the other companies are tired of dealing with Intel is one of the reasons, I suspect, that they are being less than accommodating.

Another reason is that I think Intel has forgotten what it means to compete. AMD and Nvidia have been going at it for years, doubling their GPU performance nearly every year. We are seeing the same thing in the portable technology space. Processors and GPU's see gains of double, triple, quadruple, every year.

That's the reason why the tablet space is so exciting while the laptop and desktop market is contracting. Because it is energetic! Every year sees something new. Innovation is driving things ever forward. Games on a cell phone look like the first games that came out for the Xbox 360. In two years, cell phones will be more powerful than the Xbox 360. We aren't seeing anything even remotely like that coming out of the old-guard companies.

I am so excited about portable processing. Not because I use it extensively. Truly, I don't. I spend almost all of my time on a desktop and a laptop. But we need something, anything, to get AMD and Intel off their damned asses and really push forward -- really innovate. While I didn't expect it even only a year ago, it is now obvious; the motivation, the fear, necessary to get the old companies to step up their game in the traditional computing industry will come from portable technology. It will come from your pocket.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Of Rapists And Nazis

The recent video, uploaded by Anonymous, of the Steubenville "Rape Crew" is suitably mind-numbing. It shows a human being, seemingly too young to even be coherently using the words he is speaking, display a lack of empathy and consideration that would make a psychopath blush.

It is coincidental that I was reading an article about The Angel of Life, Gisella Perl, who described her treatment in the death camps. Men would gleefully kill babies, throw women alive into furnaces, and beat starving, helpless human beings to death.

After the war, psychologists took up the task of studying the behavior of the Nazis. How could humans possibly become so depraved, and do so in such large numbers? Even those who were involved would look back with shock at their own actions.

The core of that depravity is on display today in Steubenville. While the holocaust and the behavior of a small town's stupid population are in different leagues, what allows the two to exist is the same. In a different environment, the boy in that video would have been a Nazi, or a mercenary, or a murderer. That behavior is simply the manifestation of an internal characteristic that I don't think I need to even bother trying to explicate. It is apparent.

What we saw, for a brief moment, is the rotten core that can take hold that is held in check by society. Yes, we do not have bands of mercenaries rampaging around the countryside like it was 1300's Europe. But just because the behavior doesn't manifest in the ways that they previously did does not mean that the Freudian motivation is gone.

What society has done, and especially what the progressive movement of the past one hundred years has done, is make the display of this behavior incredibly unacceptable. It is the genesis of the term "politically correct" in the pejorative sense. People who use the word "PC Police" or something equally negative are essentially saying that they are angry that they are not allowed to be aggressive, violent, or bigoted in public.

But what every oppressed group in the country knows full well is that this rot, this toxin, is in full effect behind closed doors. This monster, this animalistic man-child, would have never dreamed of saying these words in public, but he did so in private. He even defended himself to those in the room who made wan efforts at arguing with him.

This is only the most recent case of the festering underbelly of our society bursting out into the daylight like some pus-filled boil. Apologists for this sort of behavior love to point to the very consequences of their loathed politically correct movement -- the lack of public behavior of this sort -- as proof that it doesn't exist. They claim that those who pull the racism, sexism, or classism "card" are simply paranoid and themselves bigoted.

No. This rot exists, and pretending that it doesn't because we have brow-beaten those that would act this way into some semblance of submission fails to address the wellspring of the poison. We must chase bigotry and anti-social behavior wherever it hides. There can be no apologies. There can be no toleration. We must go after it with a righteous fire and the profound desire to see justice done, no matter how painful. Because until we do, we will continue breeding those who would be well at home stoking the fires of Auschwitz.