Tag Archives: quantum

Alternate Reality

alternaterealityWell, the quantum experiment failed, and I’ve been so depressed about the results of the election that I haven’t done a show in two weeks. Of course, when things change, it’s not always for the better, so we’ll be looking at what dystopic world now surrounds us, and if it was really that different than the indefinite, extra-judicial despotism we were bound for, anyway.

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-11-24: Alternate Reality by The Stranger on Mixcloud

PLAYLIST
In the Hall of the Mountain King – Duke Ellington
Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out – Bessie Smith
Offertorium: Terra tremuit et quievit – Anonymous
Village Green/Village Green Preservation Society – Ray Davies
All Thoughts Are Prey To Some Beast – Bill Callahan
On A Good Day – Joanna Newsom
Meditation of the Night – Benjy Wertheimer
Sunshine Of Your Love – Cream
House Of The Rising Sun – The Animals
Went Home Today – Merriday Park
Flame Sky – Santana
Lucky Man – Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Kid Charlemagne – Steely Dan
Where Have All The Good Times Gone – David Bowie
Looking for Safety – Steve Roach
Rockets – Cat Power
Lachlom – Yael Naim
Troubles Will be Gone – The Tallest Man on Earth
Prayer – Kow Otani
Rusty Cage – Johnny Cash

With glitches, screw-ups, and assorted shenanigans galore, this ended up being the most expensive election ever, a whopping $6 billion. Millionaire political donors still ended the night with far more influence than the American people. Make no mistake about it, the Big Money won big, and inequality in political wealth undermines the principle of “one person, one vote” and threatens our very democracyTwo thirds of winning House incumbents outspent their opponents by a factor of nine.

As we saw on election night, Karl Rove made some absurd prediction about Ohio, which inexplicably turned out to be true! While looking at his ipad, he claimed the vote would turn out drastically different than the exit polling. At the same time, many members of Anonymous were raided by police, even as they had threatened to release proof that the election was rigged. They are not being granted interviews or media access at this time, and their computers or DOX kept under lock and key.

The results are indeed being challenged, as Voting and civil rights activists claimed that Pennsylvania’s voter ID law was causing mass confusion across the state as people tried to go to the polls. Voters waited in lines for hours, many asked for photo identification, and some were even turned away, despite a judge ruling that this was illegal.

“We’ve definitely gotten reports about voters being turned away,” Eric Marshall, co-director of the Election Protection coalition, told TPM. “We’ve had reports of people who have shown up, been asked, and when they didn’t show ID they were turned away.”

Examples abound of how easily the entire election could have been rigged, with not much more than a few dollars’ worth of parts from RadioShack.

“It’s a classic attack on security devices,” Roger Johnston tells Popular Science. “You implant a microprocessor or some other electronic device into the voting machine, and that lets you control the voting and turn cheating on and off. We’re basically interfering with transmitting the voter’s intent.”

Americans need to look inside ourselves, reflect on our values and question: why do we allow our fellow citizens’ votes to be discounted? Why do we put up with this?

Long lines were the story for in many poor neighborhoods across the country, while Florida’s Governor Scott Brown reduced early voting times. Neighborhoods of color were disproportionately affected, a repeat of 2008:

The AFL-CIO study tracked with similar findings in other recent elections. An MIT survey of 10,000 voters in 2008 found that waits for African Americans were more than twice as long as those for white voters for both early and election day voting.

With the number of problems with the provisional ballots and inconsistencies with the exit polling in Ohio, many progressives are alleging fraud:

1. Claims of Fraud
2. Voter Suppression
3. Obama Wasn’t Progressive Enough!
4. Rich People are just going to vote for the Rich guy no matter what because he gives them free stuff!
5. There is no God.
6. The Conservative Media

But now we have to contend with the unskewed polls, that Karl Rove was right. The rich are vindicated by their love of money over country.

Fully 89 percent of Romney’s 2012 voters are non-Hispanic whites. And they rule the country. They want to shut down the government like they almost did in 2011. They want people to die from not having health care. We must not bow down to them yet.

Republicans, triumphant and spiteful, are already promising to throw us off the fiscal cliff.

In an exclusive statement to the  far-right Brietbart.com , McConnell promised conservatives that he wouldn’t be willing to raise taxes at all to avoid the automatic spending cuts and tax hike trigger that will otherwise go into effect

Now is their perfect time to make severe cuts to popular programs in the social safety net; Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, disaster relief, food assistance, housing and other threatened programs, so they can happily grant big handouts and tax breaks for major corporations.

And then there are the extremist ingrates, far-right radical Republicans that think Romney isn’t severely conservative enough. In many ways, the election did not change anything.

This year, neither presidential candidate focused on blasting a do-nothing Congress or, in Obama’s case, “Republican obstructionism”. I think it may have been this lack of energy, this satisfaction with the status quo, that lost him the vote. He wasn’t progressive enough.

Because the right will keep on moving righter now. Via TPM:

The head of Maine’s Republican Party defended himself on Thursday over comments he made about black people committing voter fraud in his state. he still insisted it was “unusual” to see so many black voters at the polls in an overwhelmingly white state.

“The reason I said it, ‘cause I don’t know where you live, but where I come from in rural Maine, it’s a small percentage of the population. I think we’re the whitest state in the country. So if you go to the polls and see people who are black, it’s unusual. And when you see a lot of people who are black, like six or eight or ten people, you think, ‘Wow, where do they live?’ That was my point.”

“Everybody has a right to vote, but nobody in (these) towns knows anyone who’s black. How did that happen? I don’t know. We’re going to find out.”

And of course, those Anti-American secessionists who are fed up with “Progressives” like Obama, and apparently even “Moderates” like Romney.

Thousands of petitioners from seven states (many headed by race-baiter Matt Drudge) are demanding the White House let them secede from America. Thousands more are petitioning the White House to just kick them out already and be done with it.

Despite President Obama’s defeat, one petition demanding the administration “grant the State of Texas to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government” has secured over 83,000 signatures. The White House has said it will respond to any petitions that receive backing from 25,000 people or more.

Meanwhile, George GOPers are claiming that there has been an ‘Obama mind-control conspiracy‘ growing over the last four years. A “conspiracy to transform America from the land of the free, to the land of the collective,” and lawmakers there say that “our own governments are doing this. Our own local city councils and county commissions – they’re doing this.”

Other lawmakers in Wisconsin are backing a bill that would declare the Affordable Care Act illegal, and allow law enforcement to arrest any federal officials who try to implement it.

Many businesses are vindictively taking a stand against Obama’s health care legacy (which is going to be hard for Republicans to repeal), but threatening to cut worker hours.

  • Papa John’s CEO plans to slash workers’ hours so he doesn’t have to cover them. It’s one of the nation’s 50 biggest low-wage employers.

(You know who not to take seriously when they say they really want everyone to have health insurance and ‘it’s a shame’ Obamacare isn’t the right way to insure more people? People who run businesses where only a third of workers are insured. And do you really want potentially sick people making your food?)

  • Applebee’s New York CEO says he’ll ax jobs because of Obamacare. Zane Tankel, another so-called “job creator” who’s threatened to fire employees and freeze hiring.
  • Small business owner in Georgia says he fired workers who voted for Obama. “Yesterday I called all my part-time employees in and said because Obamacare will be enacted (despite Romney winning) I was cutting their hours from 30 to 25 a week so I would not fall under the Obamacare mandate,” said the man, who identified himself only as Stu. “I had to lay two full-timers off to get under the 50-person cap. I tried to make sure that the people I had to lay off voted for Obama.”
  • Las Vegas businessman says he laid off 22 employees after election night. ~Las Vegas business owner to radio host Kevin Wall on 100.5 KXNT, after firing 22 of his 114 workers yesterday.
  • Coal company lays off 160 workers because of Obama’s “war on coal.” Claims they laid off workers who had voters cast their ballot for the president. This is illegal, for one thing, but also idiotic. Obama’s policies had only benefitted the coal industry.

Yes, we will continue to live in an economy where most of Americans toil their lives away with few options, little upwards mobility, fewer and fewer rights, all in the servitude of the American wealthy ruling elite class. The CEOs want us to work longer hours for fewer benefits.

Lloyd Blankfein – CEO of Wall Street behemoth Goldman Sachs — told CBS News’ Scott Pelley that he believes the retirement age needs to be raised because “in general, entitlements  have to be slowed down and contained

Even federal judges want people to work without wages!

The corporate masters seem to have forgotten they depend on working people for their own survival.

Yes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. As for Obama’s legacy, hastily handed over to someone slightly more conservative but with less foreign policy knowledge, it will be a dastardly one.

It really makes you think that, no matter what Alternative Reality had happened, we’d still be screwed.

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-11-24: Alternate Reality by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

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How would you like to start a religion?

In Alain de Botton’s recent book; Religion for Atheists, the School of Life philosopher argues the benefits of religious thinking. He points out that the shared values in humanist philosophy and religion are not mutually exclusive. Moreover, the structures and traditions of each may be useful in creating a society that we can all agree is good and moral, regardless of their personal God (or lack of one).

Big Think – Alain de Botton “Religion for Atheists”

Those with brilliant acumen for realizing the essential effects of religious and spiritual thinking, as well as skeptical and critical thinking, should use every tool to navigate an otherwise trapped society ruled by charlatan plutarchs and snake-oil salesmen.

Tim Mawson has argued that atheists need to pray in an open-ended fashion, at the very least as a personal experiment to falsify the possibility of one’s own spiritual pantheon. Or is this a dubious step down the path to belief, activating and placating the God delusion parts of the brain? Or can a sufficiently intelligent brain maintain the divisions between outwardly-seeming contradictory systems of thought? Though Richard Dawkins would ask ‘what’s the point?’, many others ask ‘what’s the harm?’

Or as Kadam Morten (teacher in the New Kadampa tradition of Buddhism) explains, the neuro and cognitive sciences have shown an increasing benefit to the sustained practice of meditation, which can permanently change the structure of the brain and improve attentional capacity. Buddhists belief in the interdependence and interconnectedness of all things – a kind of unified theory of everything, and that all of reality is a distortion, which is echoed in the disconnect we know exists between physical reality, our sense organs, and the brain that illusorily compartmentalizes our experiences. Morten reminds us that the human capacity for love, compassion, peace, apology, happiness and joy all live in the brain, and can be understood through the lens of both spirituality or scientific discovery.

Since we all seem to be wired for belief, whatever the survival mechanism that brought us to this point, these instincts have clearly had a massive impact on religion, art, society, ethics and emotion. And while the corroborative neural pathways in humans and other animals can tell us a lot about brain evolution, the more subjective questions of emotion may always be beyond our grasp. How could we ever fully understand what emotion an animal is feeling, or even apply the human words we’ve developed with our own electrochemical impulses? But that doesn’t mean that we can’t be more informed, more literate, in our empathic roles as researchers and investigators and thinkers.

Some of these questions are (as yet) unfalsifiable, which makes them useless to science, but not necessarily to our growth and adaptability as humans. Provided there is no conflict with the current model of scientific knowledge, the Canon, then perhaps the ever-evolving systems of religious and spiritual thinking in our history can also build into a productive model of social utility.

But reconciling the physical world of hard science and metaphysical speculation is nothing new, and the brain is certainly capable of maintaining multiple worldviews.

When Einstein referred to his God, he was referring to Spinoza’s God. Indeed, when Richard Dawkins denies God, he refers implicitly to the God of traditional theology, and not Spinoza’s being of infinite attributes… or being itself. In so doing, the Big Bang can be the creation myth, empirical discovery becomes our theology, the laws of physics our forms of magick, and the Heat Death of the Universe becomes analogous to the Eschaton.

The Philosopher’s Zone – Beth Lord “Spinoza’s God”

This is not to say that science is based on belief, that creationism is in any way equitable to evolution, that quantum physics can by extrapolated on the macro-scale to justify mystical flim-flam, or that energized memory crystals can infuse the power of intention to transform reality into the magical alternate version you desire. Some things are simply false notions.

Atheists are still the most hated and distrusted group in America, despite being on average just as moral and law-abiding as any random religious adherent (and certainly more than some I could mention). Reason and philosophy have different aims from religion, the extent to which these various factors rule our lives and interact and cooperate with each other partly determining the kind of person we will be.

Theists do battle with atheists, atheists fight right back, many religions disenfranchise or discriminate against others, while some atheists belittle agnostics and others whose beliefs and opinions differ from their own.

The false dichotomy has it that people on the right behave and believe irrationally, and that those on the left are amoral heathens. But what if all parties involved transcended their petty differences to find those sticking similarities? How could we organize our communities, nations, and minds in such ways as to accept the verifiable truths found in science, and the infinitely complex beings we believe keep us thinking, going, doing, feeling, and helping?

Lest we forget that our great American experiment was started by a group of deists, who believed in a necessary first cause but were otherwise largely agnostic regarding the idea of an interventionist Creator. They believed that intellectual pursuit, discourse, and hard work were what built a nation, not an affinity to ghosts and clouds. True, while many of the groups that came to America to escape religious persecution and indoctrination were more puritanical, many others rightly splintered from them. Splitters.

Even Scientology, which is only fifty-eight years old and is largely regarded as a cult of science-fiction quackery, has spawned a reform movement of former members now disillusioned by the Church, but still firm believers in the metaphysical benefits they receive through their form of worship:

Marty was given intensive auditing, carried out lengthy meditation exercises, and at one point during a “communication drill” in which he had to silently stare into a counsellor’s eyes for an hour, underwent what he calls an “out-of-body” experience. “I literally exteriorised from my body,” he says. “It was incredible. It changed everything.”

The tools of science reveal that meditation alters brain-wave states, ritual belief and thinking change the dosage of electro-chemical impulses, and fasting raises the user’s perceptional awareness and focus. All this without the drama of a a bullying god, danger of fraud such as dying in a sweat lodge under some nincompoop new age guru, myopic prejudice rendered by dogmatic interpretations, or tithing your savings to a theocorporate entity.

Perhaps a truly superintelligent being (AI, extraterrestrial, extradimensional, god-like, or ourselves in the near future) would need to explore an infinitely rich tapestry of realities involving scientific discovery, spiritual self-reflection, psychoanalysis and even experimental psychedelic use.

“It has to do with your own intelligence. Truly stupid people aren’t interested in psychedelics because they can’t figure out what the point of it is. It feeds off intelligence. It’s a consciousness-expanding drug. If you don’t have any consciousness you can’t expand it.”

-Terence McKenna

And while an extreme intelligence would be largely unpredictable, given that its parameters for growth and survival would be very different than our mortal comprehension, it is useful to note that no strategy or resource would go ignored or unconsidered. It should go without saying, but often goes unnoticed, that a diverse set experiences, techniques and modalities for thinking will yield a more well-rounded, intellectual individual with wider options and resources for problem solving and deep reflection. We may even reach a point in our development towards super-intelligence that allows us to induce analytical or spiritual thinking, psychedelic or profound experiences all at will, depending on what suits our present needs.

Science is still the greatest tool we have for discovering the truth about the physical world, and neuroscience may bring us answers in the coming centuries concerning our elusive and dated conceptions of consciousness and self.

But epistemology and metaphysics aside, the most pressing and useful marriage of these techniques and schools of thought could further the higher order ethics usually found in humanist philosophies, and in the desire utilitarianism of Alonzo Fyfe, as “the idea that morality involves using praise and condemnation to promote desires that tend to fulfill other desires, and to inhibit desires that tend to thwart other desires.” This empirical system defines ‘general good‘, which can be either true or false, and the more specific ‘moral good‘:

“A good desire is a desire that tends to fulfill other desires. A bad desire is a desire that tends to thwart other desires.”

It uses relational values in such a way to determine a moral realism and not a moral relativism, in the same way that, say, distance can be both relative and definitely quantifiable at the same time. This would seem to result in a society that pursues civil libertarian values that do not adversely affect the lives of others, while rejecting both the individual subjectivism of psychotics and narcissists, and any desires based on fictional precepts such as neo-conservatism or fundamentalist dogma. In other words, such a system of ethics avoids the dangers of both populist and oligarchical power-mongering based on false notions. It, like other rational forms of philosophy and political science, would allow religious followers to worship as they see fit, so long as they do not infringe on the rights of others. This would seem simple and American enough, and perhaps such a reasonable approach may one day replace the heated rhetoric and violent passion of theocratic conflict.

Conversations From the Pale Blue Dot – Alonzo Fyfe “Desire Utilitarianism”

In the realm of the secular sciences, peace is already being wedged into the Middle East, with cooperative endeavors such as SESAME, or Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications, which has been bringing together physicists from Israel and Egypt and Jordan, and perhaps eventually Iran.

Culture codes, languages and biases cannot be changed overnight. But perhaps the ongoing reformation (of art, science, philosophy, and religion) can utilize these ideas to bridge the gaps in these disparate fields. As we can see, they all have vital importance to operating minds, and we need only to overcome the contrived conflicts that have arisen through ignorance, but that may otherwise doom us with their obstinacy.