July 28th, 2013

Let Me Tell You Why That's Bullshit

The Objectivist States Of America

Before I go any further, I want to explain my hatred of Ayn Rand and why her brand of Objectivism is total bullshit.  Trust me, it will tie in to my point.

At the risk of oversimplifying (but then again, that's what philosophy is all about), there are two kinds of people in the world, there are Objectivists and Altruists.  Basically, it's Freudian analysis writ large.  It posits no one is really one extreme or the other, everyone is a blend of the two.  Objectivists do things because they can (see also:  Tony Stark in the Iron Man/Avengers movies) and why shouldn't they?  They know what they are doing, so quit trying to stop them from making the world a better place.  The other side of the coin is the Altruists, who are more concerned with doing things for other people than for themselves.  The true philosophical debate is where is the middle ground?  When is it more important to be Objectivist and when is it more important to be Altruist?

Now, into this debate stepped super asshole Ayn Rand.  Rand wrote two works based on her interpretation of Objectivism, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.  Rand's primary goal was to simply expound on the virtues of Objectivism.  Instead, she created its Worst Case Scenario.  Instead of talent and ability determining what could and should be done, arrogance became the fuel in the engine.  Characters were narcissists for whom power and accomplishment were birthrights (such as Roarke's rape of Dominique, which Rand stated in interviews wasn't really rape because Dominique wanted it, too).  There can be no compromise, no Altruism -- after all, if someone is forced to do something, that violates their freedom and rights to do as they wish, so Altruism is actually the enemy of Objectivism, not it's balance.  Roarke's speech to the court at the end of The Fountainhead, about how all geniuses ask in return for their creations that invariably improve the world is appreciation for gracing the lives of the inferior people sums up pretty much all you need to know.

This is the reason why, when people discuss Objectivism, Randian Objectivism gets its own subcategory.  It has experienced a huge surge with the advent of the Internet subculture, where people embrace things that make them different as some sort of badge of superiority.  The underlying philosophy, that they are smart enough to see why this is okay and the only reason you don't is because you are stupid therefore you have no business being in this debate, is actually a mainstay of political and religious debate.  I'm right, and you're wrong because, if you really understood what was happening, you'd agree with me.  That there is only one "right answer", and anyone who doesn't share your conclusion is automatically wrong.  But people on the Internet seized on Rand's twisted interpretation that sharing and considering others is for suckers and started using her philosophy to justify their actions.  These people are referred to as "Randroids."

Everyone still with me so far?  That's good!

Now, it is important to keep in mind that, a lot of the time, people espousing philosophies don't actually believe them, they just believe them AT THAT MOMENT.  The debate is going on, and this is their stance in the debate, not how they actually live their lives.  Objectivists will gladly donate to charity once in a while.  Altruists will, say, keep the extra coins they find in the vending machine once in a while.  The problem is when the debate is so overarching, that it encompasses so much, that the philosophies become a shield, one constantly being employed.  It stops being a counterargument and becomes a way of life.

If I were to say there was a difference between the first Obama Administration and the second Obama Administration, it would be the rise of Randroids as a political force.  It started with the Tea Party movement, which tries to hide under the canopy of Libertarianism but has nothing to do with it -- Libertarianism is "liberty for all," not "liberty for me."  Tea Partiers were on their way to a political death because their demands and representatives were just so goddamn loopy (I'm looking at YOU, Michelle Bachmann).  Republicans saw them as an easy-to-exploit grass roots movement that was actually on their side instead of against them.  The novelty of the situation prompted them to allow Obamacare to pass, thinking it made taking Congress and the White House a slam dunk.  There were so many ways they could have amended that or tied it up in committee.  They didn't.  They tanked it.

(For those saying most Americans oppose Obamacare and those saying most Americans support Obamacare, both of you can shut up.  I've seen plenty of polls saying both, and each one is selective.  I don't care what kind of support or opposition there is.  Bottom line:  Obamacare is the law of the land, and the sooner you start working to refine it instead of just propping it up or gutting it, the better off we'll all be.)

And then, the Presidential election.  Mitt Romney was doing just fine as the other front runners tore each other apart for not being a "true conservative".  But once Mittens got the nomination, he lost his focus.  Had he just kept talking his business school lectures, he'd have been President.  Instead, he decided he needed the support of the R loyalists more than the average American vote and began embracing religious intolerance, denial of rights for gays, and other things that were outmoded in the 1950's, let alone now.  Elections in a two party system boil down to which candidate is less likely to trample you.  Obama has done stuff wrong, but he wasn't advocating for the return of Jim Crowe-style legislation and a watered-down Randianism dressed up as a business philosophy.  Approval numbers for Obama were horrible, but they had less faith in Mittens to do right by them than Obama.  Obama had the deck stacked against him, and he still won.

This has sent the R's into disarray.  The anti-Obama sentiment is still out there, as any cursory read of the news will tell you.  37 states are currently introducing legislation to undermine Obama's federal rules on firearms.  20 states have passed laws opting out of Obamacare or radically changing what it entails within their boundaries.  And 25 states have laws ignoring parts of Real ID, the Washington standards for granting driver's licenses (to be fair, Real ID is not Obama's doing.  It was passed in 2005 under Shrub's administration, but that's not stopping people from sticking Obama with a bum rap).  This is setting up massive legal showdowns (and need I remind you, the Supreme Court in the last few decades has shown a shift away from states' rights.  You're gambling, and you're going to lose.  Badly).  Obama gave a speech at the University Of Central Missouri on July 24, and anyone where R-themed or Tea Party clothing was excluded from the gathering.

So, there's a lot of voter anger to take advantage of, but the R's can't seem to do it.  They don't realize they will never get mainstream support as long as they continue to harbor and promote racism and intolerance within the party.  They don't want to face the fact that the world has changed.  Being white, Protestant, and male is no longer the ultimate ideal to aspire to.  Despite the next generation of R's saying that change in the party philosophy is desperately needed, the old guard continues to stick their heads in the sand, thinking that a return to glory is still possible and time has not passed them by.

We have four big names running for the R nomination in 2016, and none of them is teaching unity.  Mark Rubio is currently the most popular choice, but he's seen his stock plummet after the Immigration Reform debate.  He's skipping a lot of public events hoping to keep his name clean, but it only makes him look like a chicken shit.  Ted Cruz has stated he is not seeking the Presidential nomination in 2016, but that's bullshit.  He's trying to keep himself out of the line of fire while weighing his options.  Enough people support him, he won't win, but he can barter his votes and support.  He's looking to be a player, and if he can leverage that into the nomination, he will.

This initially left Rand Paul as the only one making overtures in the R party (both he and his dad enjoyed peppering their speeches with Ayn Rand quotes.  I'm really starting to think supporting his dad's run for the R nomination in 2012 is the biggest mistake I've made since voting for Bo Gritz back in 1988).  Randroid has been courting the party faithful who don't really trust his peculiar free market philosophy, but he appeals enough to their hardline sensibilities that he has their ear.  For example, two weeks ago, he was in Iowa talking to the American Renewal Project, a group of evangelical pastors with a lot of sway over how their congregations vote, about how he'll fix their precious Christian nation (for a Libertarian, he sure doesn't seem to care about those who aren't Christian).  With his two competitors on the sidelines, he practically has the field to himself.

Which has brought about people looking for an alternative.  Running for President for four years never works out, as Sarah Palin recently proved.  But sitting out the 2012 campaign is looking to be the smartest thing Noo Joisey governor Chris Christie has ever done.  He has become the alternative to Randroid, and is stumping hard to the party faithful that Randoid's politics are certain doom come election time.  People are listening because twice they've had a shot at the White House and their arrogance has kept them out.  They want power?  They will have to serve the people instead of just assuming the people will serve them.

The unrest in Egypt is the battleground Randroid and Christie are currently fighting over, with Randroid calling Christie "Obama's favorite Republican," just the other day.  Christie is a danger to Randroid because he's a governor, not a congressman.  There has been talk of New York Rep Peter King running for President.  A twenty year veteran of the House, experienced foreign policy hawk, and a former chairman for Homeland Security, he seems to get the problem, telling The Hill, “when I see people like Rand Paul talking about drones killing people out to get a cup of coffee, I don't want that to be the face of the national Republican Party."  Unfortunately, King's stock in the House has risen because of support from Tea Partiers loyal to Randroid.  If he decides to run, Randroid can kill him off. Christie?  Randroid has no pull over him, and when the hurricane hit Jersey and Christie put aside partisan politics to help his state, he is in position to be the Altruistic counterbalance to Randroid's Randian Objectivism that makes so many people afraid.

Don't look for things to get really interesting until after 2014 midterms.  You are going to see more showdowns as Obamacare becomes the flag both sides rally the troops around.  Understand this:  neither party gives a shit about the voters, just doing whta they can to get the support of the voters.  No one is looking to work with Obamacare, keeping the good and getting rid of the bad, it's all or nothing.  Obama and the D's pushed through a law without really thinking the ramifications through, and are now hoping they can keep it together enough to not be a liability.  The R's are hoping to exploit the ramifications, making enough noise to keep their stances after Sandy Hook from getting to them.  "No, no, we're the only ones you can trust!  Don't let that get in the way!"

Until then, expect those big four names to keep on keeping on, strategically positioning their pieces...and turning voters into their pawns.

I Asked For A Hummer, And All I Got Was Spectral Disruption

Twilight ScienceHello, readers, and welcome to another installment of The Mystic, The Divine, And The Just Plain Weird.  Today, we are going to look at a strange phenomena called The Hum.

Reports of The Hum first started appearing in the 1950's.  People who had never heard anything unusual before started hearing a weird, droning hum, sometimes described as sounding like a diesel engine idling nearby.  Because so few people heard it, they were dismissed as crackpots or other such things, blaming mass hysteria or hypochondria.

But in the 1970's, The Hum started to spread.

Bristol, England became the first confirmed instance of The Hum.  About 800 people reported hearing The Hum, causing nosebleeds, headaches, nausea, sleep disturbance, and at least one suicide.  Eventually, The Hum was blamed on local factories working 24 hours a day and the resulting traffic.

Then, in 1991, Taos, New Mexico, got The Hum.  Starting that spring, people started complaining about it.  Realizing the chance to put SCIENCE! in action, a bunch of people from Los Alamos National Laboratory teamed up with the University of New Mexico, Sandia National Laboratories, and other regional scientists.  They detected The Hum and proved it existed.  But they couldn't find anything that was causing it.

Want to know what you're missing?  Here ya go:

Since then, The Hum has popped up in Largs, Scotland, Windsor, Ontario, Bondi in Sydney, Australia, and Leeds in England.  The Hum was detected in Kokomo, Indiana.  In 2003, researchers blamed that one on on two industrial sites — one a Daimler Chrysler plant — producing noise at specific frequencies.  Noise-abatement measures were instituted, but The Hum remains.

What exactly it is is unknown.  The Hum is estimated to only be detectable by about 2% of the population.  Tinnitus was initially blamed, but tests on people who heard The Hum found no diagnosis, their hearing was perfectly fine (some may be people who can hear outside the normal human audio range, which is possible and has happened).  Besides, researches have confirmed The Hum exists, so it's not human reaction.  It's usually stronger at nighttime in rural and suburban areas (it's possible cities have so much ambient noise it cancels The Hum out), and is only heard indoors.

Either way, The Hum appears to be spreading.  Sleep tight.