Archive for December, 2009

Humanity: The Short Version
December 25, 2009

As a species, we humans have reached a unique point in our history, one that, if we think at all, forces us as a species and as individuals to expose and ponder the bedrock fundamentals of our existence.

Historically, we span about ten thousand years give or take. Prehistorically, perhaps a couple of hundred thousand. Before cities and agriculture, humans hunted, gathered, got by day to day.

After cities and agriculture took hold, we started thinking beyond the day – or some of us did. Most people still struggled to survive. But there were philosophers and priests and mathematicians and scientists of various sorts.

Two fundamental beliefs guided the development of human society. One was the individual’s belief that he would go on forever, either as a coherent consciousness or in some other way. The other was the belief that humanity and civilization would go on forever and would benefit from what the current thinkers and tinkerers did.

Today those two beliefs no longer can be considered sacrosanct.

Cut away the mental garbage and a couple of things stand out.

There is no god, there is no supernatural anything. The religionists have had thousands of years to come up with something besides wishful thinking and bad logic and have come up with nothing. There is no compelling reason to accept any supernaturalist explanation for anything, and, on the evidence, no compelling reason to accept that the individual continues on in coherent form after physical death.

Accepting that carries its own baggage wrapped around the question “How then do I live my life?” Various philosophies and value systems sought to answer that question with varying degrees of success, but they always had the benefit of a second consideration, that humanity would go on forever.

That second consideration today is that humanity may in fact not survive the next hundred years. We have altered, and continue to alter, the biosphere that supports our fundamental life processes, and that alteration, if continued, guarantees that humanity, along with most life forms now existing, will die. Sooner rather than later. There is no legitimate scientific argument against that prediction. The laws of physics will not be compromised or argued with, despite the wishful beliefs of politicians in America and around the world.

In view of that world view, or end-of-world view, the question, “How do I live my life?”, gains new baggage.

Indeed, how does one live one’s life when the future of one’s species has been cancelled, rained out, annihilated by the species itself?

Certainly we can go on eating while there is food, and carry on all the necessities of survival. We can even continue to procreate, an act which in no small part has brought us to today’s grim situation.

But the things that make us unique on Earth, the learning, the discoveries, the creations of art and literature and architecture and technology, those things suddenly lack purpose, or at least the purpose they have had in the past.

For ten thousand years we have learned stuff about our universe and found it worthwhile to do so because we believed we would live forever in some form as individuals and thus carry the knowledge on with us, or because what we learned and discovered and created would live on as a benefit to humanity. The desire for wealth and fame motivated us too, but these still depended in part on the continued existence of the species in some basic way. We are the only species, as far as we can tell, that can foresee its end, both the end of the individual and the end of the species itself.

Now that it is probable that there will be no humans, and that such active, probing intelligence will quite possibly never again appear on the Earth once we are gone, and if we accept that the individual who dies is indeed fully dead and utterly incoherent, how, assuming and facing complete annihilation, do we answer the question, “How do I live my life?”

#

Advertisements

Sarah Palin: A Coward With Lipstick
December 23, 2009

Proof that she has neither brains nor guts, despite being a dangerous, lying demagogue. One might hope that she leads the Republican Party into the wilderness and it dies there.

 

Nailing Obama
December 21, 2009

Drew Westen nails the psyche of Barack Obama to the wall in this piece at Huffington Post. Westen says what The Lion (and a few million others) have been thinking. One can only hope the skinny guy is listening.

Why Global Warming Matters…
December 18, 2009

 

image

From a NASA collection of photos of Earth from space.

The rings are Saturn’s.  The photo was shot by the Cassini spacecraft in 2006, and shows Earth as seen from Saturn.

Earth is the small white dot in the upper right quadrant of the picture. In the detail photo at the upper left the moon is a hazy bulge at the upper left of Earth.

We are small, we are insignificant in the scheme of the universe, nothing out there gives a damn, and we have no place to go.

 

submit to reddit

Great Quotes For Today… And Tomorrow… And Yesterday
December 14, 2009

“They don’t hate us because we are free,” Gravel said of the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. “They hate us because we are killing them.”

– Former Senator Mike Gravel, quoted by Chris Hedges at Common Dreams.

 

A Bucket Of Cold Water In The Face; Financial Fraud In The White House
December 13, 2009

Matt Taibbi lays out the financial fraud of the Obama administration in Rolling Stone. It’s what you expected when you read the names of his economic team last year, but Taibbi lays out the ugly details of the sordid deals. Read it at Common Dreams. It’s very long. Keep a vomit bucket handy.

 

Massachusetts Senate Candidate Is A Funny Guy, A Real Bright Light
December 10, 2009

The primary elections to choose candidates to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat are over. Predictably the blonde state Attorney General Martha Coakley won the Democratic nomination, disproving the dumb blonde theory of anything.

On the Republican side a state senator named Scott Brown won by defeating his unknown opponent by about nine to one. The eleventh vote was thrown out on a technicality.

Mr. Brown immediately set about proving that he’s a funny guy, a real laugh getter. Here’s one of his opening salvos from today’s Globe:

“There’s a clear contrast,’’ Brown told reporters at his Needham headquarters. “If [voters are] happy and everything’s going well for them, send Martha down there. But if they want somebody who’s going to be an independent voter and thinker and look out for their interests, then they should send me.’’

He sought to paint Coakley as a Democratic automaton, saying she would be “almost robotic in the way that she’ll be in lockstep with [Senate majority leader] Harry Reid and the special interests and the president.’’

The first funny thing is that bit about the voters being happy and such. A real knee-slapper of irony! Maybe a little above the heads of the Republican base though. After all, people are suffering through a bad financial crisis and a couple of wars, brought to them by… Republicans.

So old Scotty is presenting himself as a Republican who’s going to look out for the interests of the suffering people whose suffering was brought on by Republicans. Funny stuff, funny stuff!

But Scotty says he’s going to be an independent voter and thinker. Hold that thought, dear reader, hold that thought. One might be uncharitable and suggest that if he says he’s going to be those things, then he hasn’t been up to now. But The Lion’s regular readers know that The Lion is a charitable fellow, especially when it comes to Republicans.

Be that as it may, and it may, Scotty’s next comment, the one about Ms. Coakley being robotic, an automaton, marching in lockstep with Harry Reid and such, now that’s a laugh riot, worthy of at least two minutes on the old Laugh-In show, or five minutes on The Daily Show under Jon Stewart’s kind and gentle handling.

Apparently Scotty has missed the news over the last year, the news which showed the Democrats being all over the map on various issues, debating and arguing with each other, disagreeing and squabbling, fighting, even. And it’s well known that Harry Reid can’t, doesn’t, won’t keep the Democrats on the same page. Perhaps Scotty doesn’t read the same newspapers that Sarah Palin doesn’t read.

It is true that the Democrats haven’t really been arguing with the Republicans to any great extent, but that’s because the Republicans have closed ranks, marched in lockstep with their leaders, made a point of saying ‘No!’ to every Democratic piece of legislation, have behaved like robots and automatons, have offered nothing to the national conversation on critical issues, and made clear they intend to offer nothing except their standard chorus of automated ‘No!’.

Building on that base of funny material, Scotty went on to boast that he signed a pledge to not raise taxes, and challenged Ms. Coakley to do the same.

“Very simply, I will not raise taxes on the American people,’’ Brown said. “We are in the second year of a recession that is pushing many Massachusetts families and businesses to the brink. More taxes will make it harder for them to get through this economic downturn.’’

Such drollery, such waggery! Entities on the brink of financial collapse don’t tend to pay much tax to begin with. What an amusing way for Scotty to show his fiscal good sense by promising not to raise taxes on people who don’t pay taxes. But of course that would include the rich friends of the Republican party who were pretty much exempted from paying taxes for any government service during the recent reign of the Republicans under George Dick Bushney. Isn’t it nice to see a politician who thinks of his friends?

And of course it’s good to see a politician define his principles and stick to them no matter what. It’s good to know that if the economy goes belly up again that Scotty will not violate his principles, will not lift a finger to help the families and businesses being destroyed since that would cost money and might require taxing his rich friends. 

Of course one might think that Scotty is simply appealing to his base of Republican Conservatives, otherwise known as the far right wing of the right wing of the Republican Party. But as has been shown time and again, humor is not an efficient or effective way to reach them. On the other hand, it probably wouldn’t hurt to have all fifty-three of them on his side.

Yes, Republicanism is alive and well in Massachusetts, and will be coming soon to a comedy club in your blighted neighborhood. Laugh it up, folks, this Scott Brown is a funny, funny guy. Heckuva job, Brownie!

submit to reddit

In The Woods In Afghanistan For Christmas – Double Bogey
December 8, 2009

Tiger Woods…

Apparently he played the wrong club several times.

The Globe reports today, second-hand, that his wife has had enough and moved out.

Tiger himself is reported to be in seclusion. Hiding because of the hiding he’s taking in the press.

One or two women, he might have played through, taking a penalty shot on a bogey fairway. But ten? So far? Unless Tiger’s got a bit of the sociopath in him, he’s got to go a long way to repair his career and his reputation.

Too bad. All the money and the adulation got to him. He let it happen. And he played the squeaky clean athlete all the while. Kind of like the baseball liars pushing their faux heroism while jamming drugs into themselves. It’s the hypocrisy, stupid.

He should have stayed single. He could have banged all the dames he wanted, and been admired for it by millions of fawning males. But with a wife and kids? That puts him down in the moral pits with United States Senators of the Republican and Conservative persuasion (and yes, the occasional Democrat, but at least the Democrats don’t lecture us on morality and virtue while they’re banging their mistresses).

Afghanistan…

The big argument today is whether to call the increased troop commitment a surge or an escalation.

Doesn’t matter what you call it. It’s just bullshit to cover Washington’s political asses and get more people killed and put more money into the pockets of profiteering contractors and corporations.

According to a recent CNN poll 64 percent of Americans agree ‘that Afghanistan is a linchpin for the nation’s security’ and that the ‘safety and security’ of the United States are at stake.

The Lion doubts that five percent of the population could provide an intelligent and informed account of the situation there.

And maybe one percent have asked the question of what would happen if Afghanistan were transformed into a somewhat stable nation next Tuesday. Would the U.S. be safer and more secure?

Hardly. Eight years after the casus belli we’re not fighting anyone responsible for attacking New York and Washington then. To say that Afghanistan attacked us is fatuous in the extreme; we might as well say Boston and New York attacked us – that’s where the weapons came from, that’s where the operatives operated from. That their parent organization had camps in Afghanistan is irrelevant.

Instead the American government keeps cooking up new reasons to fight a scruffy bunch of religious nationalists who won’t ever quit and whose numbers grow as the presence of foreign forces acts as an efficient and effective recruitment tool.  Recruitment is furthered by the Afghan government, which is broadly and profoundly corrupt, from the very top to the very bottom.

It could be said that the Americans are killing for religion and dying for corruption.

It’s the Big Fool and the Big Muddy all over again.

Oh, and that successful surge in Iraq? Five bombs in Baghdad killed over a hundred people yesterday and injured two hundred, and those are just the latest in a long line of post-surge violent acts. Elections are being put off. The same factions are at each other’s throats. And one hundred twenty thousand American troops are still there, still mired in the sandpit of an illegal, immoral, unjust, plain flat out wrong war.

Happy Holidays.

[Christmas present… lookee here…]

submit to reddit