Just Another Reason To Avoid Eating Fast Food

Did you know that the potatoes McDonalds uses for their french fries were grown using a pesticide so toxic, Idaho farmers can’t even enter their fields for an entire week after spraying?  But that’s not the end of it.  Once these potatoes are harvested, they’re not even close to edible.  They must “gas out” for six weeks in football stadium sized warehouses before finally being chopped up and sent to your local Mickey D’s.

If you want to be healthy, you have to buy fresh ingredients from a local grocery store and cook for yourself.  If you can afford it, buy organic produce.  Corporations today are so greedy, you can’t eat anything they produce.

I wonder how many people are getting cancer and other illnesses due to these toxic pesticides being used on our food?

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Mainstream Media Is Garbage

I’m sure this is no secret to anyone who reads this blog, but I lost faith in the media a long time ago.  I find myself reading news less and less, mainly because the news we have access to is propaganda mouthpieces for billionaires.  Like checkout this video from the H3 Podcast, reviewing a recent mashup of local news sources, owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group.

It’s just like Ethan points out; we’re living in a real life 1984.  We see thousands of news anchors, all reading from a prepared script, telling us to be wary of fake news.  -rolls eyes- It’s like, oh really?  Yeah, there’s all kinds of fake news, including this.  Journalists?  Give me a break.  You’re literally actors, reading from a script.  The question is, who is writing this script, and what’s their agenda?

This is where MIT professor Noam Chomsky can enlighten you.  These organizations are owned by powerful elites who are using these media outlets to manufacture consent.  What most of us see as “news” is really carefully crafted propaganda, meant to convince us that the correct courses of action in our democracy are those that are in the self-interest of a network of powerful corporations and billionaires.  This is true of CNN, Fox, MSNBC, ABC, whatever it is.

How do they manufacture consent within the public?  They have a variety of tools, but to deal with the relatively educated, intelligent, 10-20% of the population, they:

  • Select the topics and issues we pay attention to
  • Emphasize some things over others
  • Frame the issues in a biased way
  • Filter out information that goes against their agenda
  • Bind the debate and limit discussion within certain guideposts

They engage in a wide variety of activities.  They create and destroy social movements, justify wars, frame the discussion around financial crises, spur on ideological currents, control our record of ‘history’, and mold or psychological picture of reality, just to name a few.

For the remaining 80%, they want to distract you with things that don’t matter, and pit you against your neighbor.  They want you caught up in the left vs right nonsense, fighting over various issues that have no tangible influence on the real power structures.

This idea that media is out to inform the public and protect us from power is baloney.  They don’t serve the public.  They’re not out to help us make better decisions.  They don’t want us engaging in the political process, not in any real, meaningful way.  You have to realize the main aspects of the mainstream media.

  • Who owns these news organizations? 
    Giant corporations and billionaires.
  • What is their end-goal? 
    Profit.  Journalism takes second place to making money.
  • How do they earn money? 
    Advertising, which sells the products of large corporations to news viewers.  Media costs a lot more than consumers are willing to pay, so who fills the gap?  Advertisers.  So who do news corporations actually serve?  Their advertisers.  Just like Facebook, news corporations are selling a product to their advertisers — YOU.
  • Where does the information they report on come from?
    Everything that’s interesting comes out of big corporations and the government.  I doubt you’re interested in the day to day life of some everyday person, such as what Billy Bob is doing while he tinkers with his lawn mower in the garage.  Most everything that’s interesting in the world is coming out of big corporations or the governments of the world.  So in order to get the inside scoop of what products are going to be released, the tech involved, or even what’s going on within the government, news outlets need access.  But what if they get Apple angry at them by writing up bad reviews?  How will they get special information access on the next iPhone release? And what if Apple pulls its advertising?  Think of the loss in profits.  Or similarly, if they alienate their sources within the government, such as powerful senators, etc., those sources won’t appear for interviews and so forth.  So the system itself breeds complicity.  They have to play along or they go out of business.
  • How do they control this information?
    You can’t patent common ideas or general public information, so how would a news organization protect its product?  First they must choose which information they’re going to disseminate and frame it in a way that appeals to their base.  Next they have to isolate their base from other conflicting sources of information.  Why is this?  It’s the same reason religions demonize everything outside their cult.  It breeds loyalty.  Don’t get your information from them!  They’re lying to you, they’re biased, they’re untrustworthy.  But us?  We’re fair and balanced; unlike those other guys, we’ll tell it like it is.  This is why they play up the left/right false dichotomy.  It both gets people fighting with one another, breaking up public support on important issues (which is in the interest of the billionaires profiting from the current setup), and also breeds loyalty to their product.

This is a rotten system.  Whenever you’re reading or watching the news, keep all of this in mind.  I only watch the news out of curiosity, wondering what their current agenda is, and what distractions they’re using.  But I don’t trust any of it.  The mainstream media is garbage.

I don’t think we’ll ever get honest information as long as we live in a capitalist society.  It’s all profit driven, and that creates this nasty incentive structure that is inherently untrustworthy.

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Roseanne Cancelled

I’m sure you’ve all heard, but Roseanne’s hit television program was cancelled after Roseanne Barr tweeted that one of President Obama’s cabinet members looked like she came off the set of Planet of the Apes and belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood.  Now the conservatives are firing back, asking why Samantha Bee is still on the air when she has been saying equally nasty for ages now; for example, she just recently called President Trump’s daughter Ivanka a “feckless cunt”.  What a double standard!

I find this all depressing.  Can’t you both see that you’re mirror images of one another?  Both sides are trying to one up the other in acting like garbage.  When Ivanka posts a picture of herself with her son, why do you feel the need to post hateful comments, one after the other?  She’s a mother like anyone else.  You’re free to disagree with the politics, but can’t we be more civil and respectful?  And Roseanne, really?  Calling a black woman an ape?  We don’t need this.

Personally, I don’t want to see either Roseanne or Samantha Bee’s show taken off the air.  Say what you want to say; nobody’s making anyone watch your the shows.  If other people want to watch them, let them watch them.  But we should all take Bertrand Russell’s words to heart.

I’d like to see more love and respect in the world, especially toward those we disagree with socially and politically.

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Dancing Shiva And The World Of Form

I don’t typically collect art, but I’ve always been drawn to statues of Shiva dancing.

In the Hindu religion and other sects, this being creates, protects, and transforms the universe.  It is a limitless, formless, transcendent, unchanging, absolute being of pure consciousness, whose essential self is the very nature of the universe.

The circle in which it’s dancing represents the material world, and all of the outer flames represent its infinite expressions in the world of form, which are all creative, playful manifestations of this being’s nature.  The long hair represents that of a contemplative Yogi, extending out to all of creation, representing its mindfulness of all things going on in the dance of life.

In it’s upper-right hand is a drum, which is the drum of creation.  Beating it brings things into existence.  Notice that they represent creation with a wave of sound; in our best physical models of the universe, such as quantum field theory, the creation of particles is represented by wave-like excitations in a vibrating field, so it’s such a beautiful and accurate way of depicting the universe.

Its left arm is holding a flame which represents the destruction of everything.  All forms come into existence for a short time and then Shiva burns them up.  All is temporary in this dance.

Its other right arm is extending out toward you with its palm facing you.  This represents, “Don’t worry, it’s alright.  Be at peace in your soul.  Don’t be afraid.”

The last arm is pointing down toward its feet and Shiva is standing on this little being which represents us and our small-minded “ego”; Shiva is working to break us, to rid of us selfishness and petty ways of thinking.  This dance of creation and annihilation, this song of temporary forms, is meant to frustrate us and eventually break us down, until we once again stand weightless and spiritually centered, as represented by the other foot which is effortlessly raised, floating in the center.

Eckhart Tolle explains this dynamic in other language in this video.

When Shiva finally manages to break your ego’s back, you can finally center yourself, weightlessly, and escape the vicious circle of trying to find yourself in manifestations of form.  The constant frustration causes you to dig deeper and deeper, looking for something that’s “real”, until you finally reunite with this great power of infinite love deep within your soul, leaving you in a timeless peace which transcends anything in time and space.  You can call this God, your spirit, consciousness, awareness, the infinite, whatever, but the most important thing you can do for yourself is connect to it.

If you find it, you’ll be like the apostle Paul when he wrote to the Phillipians, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”  The language is obviously Christian, but its meaning is the same.  The only thing you have to know is that you are, just as God is and always has been, and that you share this nature as well.  Everything will be alright.

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Why I’m Not On Facebook

It’s funny, but I’m now becoming one of those older people who say, “What’s happening to young people today!?”  As everyone probably knows, I’m working as a physics lecturer, and I see young folks just immersed in these phones and I can’t help but wonder what they’re doing on them.  It’s probably hard for me to understand because I’m not on any major form of social media, like Instagram, or Facebook, or whatever.

Like take a look at these young college girls in this video.  This is a typical scene you’ll see in a university before class starts.  Everyone stares into their phone, and nobody is talking to one another; then you see them hold these things up in the air, make silly faces, and go back to staring at them again.

This baseball game makes for a perfect example.  From what I can tell, they’re not at the ball game to have a good time.  They’re not even paying attention to the game at all.  It’s more like they want to portray a certain image of themselves on social media, a sort of, “Look at me.  I had a good time today with the girls.”  And if all you saw was a few pictures posted on Facebook, you might think, “Oh, that looks fun, I wish I was there!  My life is so boring!”  But they’re not having fun.  They’re just hoping to be perceived as having fun, and what they really seem to be after is attention of some sort on social media.  But what do I know?  It’s just my guess.

I hate this stuff.   It’s so inauthentic.  Guys do it all the time in the gym.  They’ll do one set of curls to get warmed up, and then they’ll call their buddy over to film their next set.  Then you see them posting the video on Facebook and standing around for the next fifteen to twenty minutes, uploading the video, and waiting for responses.  After they’re done putting up some social-media facade of, “I’m at the gym working hard!  You should be here too!”  they seem rather uninterested in actually working out.  And there I am in the background, some middle-aged man with his arms at his side, exasperated expression on his face, waiting for this millennial to get off the machine so I can finish my workout.

When I was a young man I found all the new tech really interesting.  I even took the time to learn computer programming and made a living writing computer software for almost a decade.  At another time I was a network administrator, an expert in technology and IT.   But I’m very disillusioned with technology.  It’s convenient and can be really nifty, but that’s about it.  It’s not worth all the hype.

I only recently got my first cell phone.  It’s nice to be able to text my buddies at the gym, and work out when everyone’s going to show up.  I enjoy being able to set up meetings with professors and other graduate students, to collaborate on research.  I enjoy being able to email and text everyone from the palm of my hand, at any time.  It’s neat that I can always check the weather forecast, or look something up online real quick if I’m in need of a particular piece of information.  Having a GPS device in my pocket at all times is cool, especially if I’m traveling to meet someone and all I have is an address;  I never have to get lost.  There’s lots of convenient, nifty things it can do, but that’s it.

I don’t know what young people are doing on their phones all the time.  I don’t know why they find them so interesting.  I don’t know why they would rather stare at those things than interact with the people around them.  I don’t get social media, and I’ve never been interested in it.  I just don’t get it, but I’m a middle-aged man who is slowly but surely, each and everyday, getting more and more out of touch with the people around him.

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