Don’t Feed the Greed

Capitalism is the premier greed-based economic system, which takes no heed of consequences in the pyramid-game of asset accumulation (profits, products/goods, wealth, etc.).

Industry members, news media & critics alike often talk about the corporate side of things: predictions or goals for ever-increasing profits, share price valuation/manipulation, workforce reduction (& other methods of pushing down the price of “human capital”), material costs, supply chain innovation, etc.

However, it’s not just the magical “persons” known as corporations who are driving the race to the bottom, but also the real people who buy things. Yes, the consumer side is also greed-driven; we are trained from childhood to want as many things as we can get, and at the cheapest prices. Continue reading “Don’t Feed the Greed”

Reclaiming the Conversation: “Cowardice”

Whenever there’s a new terrorist attack such as the May 2017 attack on Ariana Grande concertgoers in Manchester, I hear myriad voices proclaiming it “cowardly” or an act of “cowardice.” I always thought this was strange. What in particular about a suicide bomber coincides with the meaning of “cowardice”?

From dictionary.com, cowardice is: “lack of courage to face danger, difficulty, opposition, pain, etc.”

Suicide bombers are perhaps the ultimate facers of danger, difficulty, opposition, pain, etc. Even non-suicide terrorists face substantial danger and difficulty.  If anything, terrorists virtually fearless; one wishes they were more fearful (fearful enough not to do such horrible things). Continue reading “Reclaiming the Conversation: “Cowardice””

Reclaiming the Conversation: “Climate Change”

I remember asking my astrophysicist uncle what he thought about “Global Warming” (the old name for “Climate Change”) somewhere around 1990; he replied, “It’s an interesting theory.”  I think that’s kind of where a lot of [non-ecologist] scientists were at the time.

Even though “Climate Change” as caused or exacerbated by human activity seems to have gained something of a scientific consensus, I think it is ultimately a catchy, but virtually useless phrase. Yes, of course the climate changes over time – this has been happening since before humans walked the earth and is, to some degree, a natural occurrence. Ultimately, this is what weakens the environmentalist stance vis-à-vis this oblique terminology.

Actual climate change is but a part of the problem, or more accurately, a consequence arising from the problems of human technology and terra-forming. I say trash (& do not recycle) the phrase, “Climate Change,” – let’s talk about the real issue, which is Destruction of Natural Resources or Non-sustainability.

Continue reading “Reclaiming the Conversation: “Climate Change””

The Affliction of American Optimism

Probably the most deeply ingrained myth in the USA is the idea that anyone can gain anything, that if you work hard enough (& think positive), you can achieve any success.  If you flip the same pieces around, the same belief system says that people get what they deserve.

I can’t imagine a more hostile piece of elitist malarkey. Sadly, even people who are not successful believe this, as it gives them hope that they can succeed far beyond what their circumstances would seem to allow.

The fact is that circumstances matter. Not everyone is given equal opportunity in our highly skewed educational system, where some public schools are much better funded (with correspondingly better outcomes) than others and where some schools have inaccurate “facts” or religious tenets in their course curriculum. Continue reading “The Affliction of American Optimism”

The “Pro-Life” Movement is a Fraud

I can understand how an individual might be anti-abortion. I don’t agree, but I get it – life is precious and all lives (even potential lives in the form of fertilized eggs) should be nurtured and allowed to flourish.  However, the so-called “Pro-Life” Movement is a complete fraud.

  1. They do not actually care about babies.
    Any rational person would understand that the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies (and thus abortions) is to promote & enhance birth control methods which can prevent unwanted pregnancies from occurring.  But the Pro-Life movement does everything they can to eliminate any meaningful sex education and prevent access to birth control.  Moreover, they reject social programs that would enable struggling parents to more easily care for infants and young children (e.g., paid maternity/paternity leave, flexible work schedules, daycare subsidies).  That’s because they want to punish people for having recreational sex, most specifically women.
  2. They do not care about life.
    Once a baby is born, most pro-lifers don’t seem to care in the least what happens that baby. It’s fine with them if it goes into our flawed and overburdened foster care system or if a single mother struggles desperately to keep a roof over their heads. Moreover, the “pro-life” movement is linked with those who support death penalty for “criminals.” Finally, as with many Americans, the majority of “pro-life” individuals enjoy the products of slaughter (e.g., meat, leather) and even direct killing for sport (e.g., fishing, hunting).

Continue reading “The “Pro-Life” Movement is a Fraud”

stepping sideways from police violence

I was deeply saddened this morning to learn of the Dallas sniper shootings during Black Lives Matter protest last night. I was upset that human beings (police officers) were murdered and also at the potential social impact of such violence (in maligning the Black Lives Matter movement, though I was glad that leaders of that movement have quickly denounced the shootings).

I would never condone that kind of violence, but I can somewhat understand what might have driven someone to that extreme. The rash of killings by police and the general lack of accountability could drive some to rage and despair.  How would it feel to realize that you might be murdered by a police officer at a routine traffic stop?  I’m white, so that’s very unlikely for me, but not so for many Americans of color; I can imagine living with that prospect could be so devastating as to feel completely adrift and hopeless. Continue reading “stepping sideways from police violence”

Bad Androgyne

I am a bad androgyne. Or maybe I’m just tired. I live in a gender-fluid soap bubble. Externally, well, there aren’t 13 moon cycles (months) and there aren’t 3+ genders either. There are, but there aren’t.  So I just go-along to get-along and I don’t make much effort to correctly gender we who exude ambiguity.

I am drawn to androgyneaity, to ambiguousness, to ambivalence. Of course! I love it and I am it. But I don’t know how to articulate it within a linguistic-cultural structure which just has no concept of a gender-neutral person.

Even in Spanish, a language where all objects are routinely gendered, there is a workaround gender-neutral pronoun for persons built into the language (su/sus which can mean his, her, their and your). English has no such concept, only “it,” which denotes a thing. Continue reading “Bad Androgyne”

Bowie-esque Requiem

When I first heard of David Bowie’s death (Jan 10, 2016), I was mostly indifferent and even slightly annoyed. It seemed my entire (non-work) social sphere expected me to be devastated. Normally, I find it irksome that our celebrity culture encourages people to think they “know” celebrities and be emotionally invested in celebrity lives, so it was that my first knee-jerk response was a “So, what?” mild annoyance, as I’ve never touched or talked with this person.  And to be honest, I’ve loved only a small portion of DB’s music, most of it older stuff that I listened to as a teen in the 1990s. I’ve paid little attention to DB or his albums in the 21st century, so it seemed I had little cause to be “affected.”

Me, circa 2011
{LuQ Stardust ~2011}

That said, DB was important to me, so much so that I made a “self-portrait” collage all about him (as me or vice versa) when I was 20: “Rock Starr” (the prints hang in my bedroom). For a time, I even had an email address ending in davidbowie.com (when he had a social networking site in 1999 or so, long before facebook or patreon). David Bowie was a beloved cultural icon/pioneer and hugely important to counterculture as a non-conformist superstar, in the pre-internet days where finding out about independent musicians was quite difficult. DB was a Gender Outlaw inspiration (not only to male-borns, check out 1967’s “She’s Got Medals,” a tale of a drinking, fighting, cross-dressing woman soldier), as well as a White Ally, long before I had any concept of institutional racism (e.g., this 1983 video of him criticizing MTV for not including more black artists in their lineup). Continue reading “Bowie-esque Requiem”

Confirmation bias – a Design Nightmare

I’ve been thinking about design lately, as I’ve been working closely with User Experience Designers at work, helping to optimize the candidate experience for our job search (& apply) web application, and also for my personal projects and personal consumption of various digital products. One thing I do not understand is the near-ubiquitous “confirmation bias” that User Interface Designers have.

What I mean by “confirmation bias” here (a pun and not the popular phrase) is the tendency for designers to add frequent and unnecessary confirmation messages.
To always show a confirmation is like punishing users for taking the correct action.

For example, when I want to access any program from inside the Nintendo Wii menu, it asks me “Are you sure you want to load?” which is quite annoying, since it has the prompt every time and I just want it to start loading the application (e.g., Netflix), not question me. Continue reading “Confirmation bias – a Design Nightmare”

Aging

I’ve been thinking about aging a lot as I’m fading into the 3rd quarter of my 30s & so many friends/peers are in their 40s. Aging has always been gradual, but suddenly, it is all too noticeable. I got so used to my body as it was, but everything is changing. My general resilience has tanked; my skin, muscles, metabolism are all just a bit off. I’ve been getting more injuries which last longer & small physical inconveniences like headaches and tiredness can no longer be easily “powered through.”My energy, fortitude and tolerance are drastically reduced & it’s all a bit depressing.

I finally get why people have kids. Well, maybe not the primary reason in their conscious minds, but, wow, it a good way to avoid dealing with aging. To be wanted, needed, by a being so new, delightful, all-consuming. To be surrounded by external youthfulness is such a wonderful distraction from an inevitable and immutable self-decline. Continue reading “Aging”