Archive | February, 2012

Are colleges liberal indoctrination mills?

28 Feb

Last week republican presidential candidate Rich Santorum said Obama was a snob for wanting all Americans to have the opportunity to go to college and get an education. He said this to the cheers and applause of a crowd of happy idiots.

The fact that higher education is good is almost axiomatic. (Don’t worry, we’ll wait while our conservative readers take a moment to google that big word.)

Got it? Good. Moving on.

Why do republicans like Santorum despise higher education? Simple. They view colleges as indoctrination mills where faithful, pure, and impressionable young people go to be brainwashed by a bunch of godless Marxists.

I would say the problem is that they are unable to accept that reality has a liberal bias, but I think the issue is deeper than that.

I don’t think they understand the concept of reality in the first place.

Without understanding the concept of reality, any argument made to stress the importance of reality might as well be in an alien language. They simply aren’t capable of comprehending. This isn’t because they’re bad people, or that they’re inherently stupid, just that they’ve never been exposed to the concept and have consequentially built up their entire world view on a foundation of ignorance.

I think this lack of an understanding of reality is the driving factor behind not only their disdain for education, but their mistrust of science and fervent religiosity. (But I’ll get to that in a moment)

How to do you about explaining reality?

Well, right now you’re in reality, whether you know it or not. It is the same as a fish that might not realize it is in water, but nonetheless is swimming in it. This place you’re in, it has laws. We don’t know every law there is, but we’ve been steadily finding out. So far we know this about the laws: You can’t break them.

This is not like a law against speeding where you can break it, and then get a ticket. You are not physically able to break these laws.

This place you’re in, it does not care who you are, how much money you have, or how strongly you feel about something. It will act in accordance to its laws and if you refuse to play along, you do so at your own peril.

So how do we know how to act in this place that has its own laws and doesn’t care about us? We watch. We test something and see how it works. If it does work, it fits with reality, if it doesn’t, then we must abandon the idea because it doesn’t fit. This may be extremely uncomfortable because people often have a lot invested in an idea, only to find out that it doesn’t fit. (And then a lot of them try to ignore that it doesn’t fit, only to eventually be destroyed for not playing along)

The richest, most powerful man in the world can stand on a beach and command the tide not to come in, but reality doesn’t care. If he refuses to move, he will drown. (That’s called natural selection, but that’s a different topic)

Unfortunately, republicans grow up being told that the world they live in is a certain way, even though that’s not how the world really is. Again, it’s not because they’re evil, or stupid, they are simply misguided. The older people telling them how the world is were also misguided by their parents, and their parents before them. Nevertheless, the children are taught to respect authority and that not questioning (faith) is a virtue.

The big disconnect comes with the idea of testing your views against how reality works to see if they stand up. This notion of testing is the heart of the scientific method. This disconnect also explains why conservatives are hostile to science. They just don’t operate that way.

College is a testing ground. People go to college in order to test ideas and see how they work. It is safer to test ideas in college where people outside won’t be impacted if something doesn’t work. Would you want a bridge builder testing a new design on an actual bridge that your family had to drive across? No. You’d want them to test it elsewhere to make sure it works, THEN come build the bridge.

College is a free market of ideas. This is possibly the only place we can make an analogy that conservatives might understand. What is the free market? Companies that are able to adapt survive, companies that don’t, fail.  (Also a form of natural selection!)

In college, ideas that work succeed, ideas that don’t, fail. So with this in mind, lets look at colleges.

Yes, colleges tend to be more liberal. A conservative would look at that and think “well obviously that’s because all the teachers are Marxists.” The truth is, it is not that the professors are Marxists, it is that conservative ideas fail the test against reality. If they passed, if ideas like “less access to birth control=fewer pregnancies” held true with reality, then you’d see colleges backing that.

Colleges are instead a reflection of reality. If colleges look liberal, it’s because reality is liberal.

So what’s a conservative to do? Change and adaptation are antithetical to conservatism, so instead the buckle down and shove their fingers in their ears even harder. They denounce education, denounce learning, and try everything they can to undermine the threat to their understanding of the world. This usually is in the form of disuading people away from education, like Santorum just did, cutting funding to education, or even building up their own bubble.

It is possible for a child to go from home school, to a private evangelical college, to the job place without ever having to come in contact with a new idea. Naturally, the results are disastrous, but since they’ve been brought up to believe that the conservative  world view is unquestionably correct, the fault for failure must always rest with some foreign enemy or saboteur.

The real tragedy is that, with these people in control of the country, when they refuse to move for the tide, we all drown.

The emperor has no clothes!

25 Feb

I have been wanting to write this for a while, but never found the words to really articulate what I’d like to discuss. I then saw this video on why conservatives don’t like Rick Santorum and realized that this is a perfect example of what I’m sick of.

For those of you who are in a hurry and don’t want to watch the video, the main point is this: Conservatives don’t like Rick Santorum because of his ideas, they love his ideas, it is just that Rick doesn’t know how to couch the crazy in a way that will be easy for the rest of the country to swallow.

All of the other “smart” politicians may have the same radical views, but they are clever enough to hide these ideas behind a sort of “code” that makes the ideas more palatable. Everyone knows what they’re really saying, yet it is as if the public is trying to give itself plausible deniability.

Everyone knows the emperor is naked, but the rawness of that fact makes everyone uncomfortable, so they delude themselves into pretending that they don’t notice. If you pay attention, you can see politicians using this type of “coded” language everywhere.

One of the current popular republican attacks on Obama is to call him the “food stamp president.” (Despite the fact that the program isn’t called “food stamps” and it was actually expanded and serving more people under Bush, but don’t let facts get in the way)

“Food stamp president” is code for welfare. Who’s on welfare? Poor people? Who are predominately poor? Black people. So food stamp president really translates into “Obama is giving all our money away to undeserving poor black people.” (though I’m tempted to use the N-word since I feel that would be more appropriate in how social conservatives view black people)

Larry Wilmore has a great bit on analyzing Newt Gingrich’s use of the code in this clip.

Just as words can be used as camouflage for possibly unsavory positions, laws can be camouflage for unsavory actions. As with words and positions, there exists a multitude of uncomfortable facts about government that people would rather cover up with pretty wallpaper.

One of the most recent examples was the take-down of the file hosting website “megaupload” and the imprisonment of the site’s owners.

The US government has wanted to censor megaupload at the behest of their corporate donors for a while. The problem? They couldn’t legally do it. SOPA gave them an opportunity to do what they wanted under the guise of legality. When SOPA failed to pass, that legal guise evaporated. What happened? The government said “fuck it. We’ll do it anyways.”

Here is the ugly and uncomfortable truth that people would rather not acknowledge: The government is going to do whatever the hell it wants, regardless of the laws. You have no rights. If the government really wants to censor you, to lock you up, to kill you even, it will. Your constitution and bill of rights, your laws and “justice system” are really just a placebo, a pacifier. It gives you the illusion of having protection, the illusion of being able to force the government to play by some pre-determined rules.

The “fuck it, we’ll do it anyways” mentality is prevalent throughout the government. You saw it in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq. You saw it with us invading Pakistan to kill Osama. Pay attention to the occupy protests; you’ll see the government crushing protests and media in a way you’d think only possible in some third world dictatorship.

And yet nobody wants to call bullshit. Everyone seems to prefer for us to play this cutesy little game of hidden meanings. For once I wish we’d cut the crap and let ideas stand naked for scrutiny, no matter how much their logical conclusions make us uncomfortable.

Liberal strategy and the moral high ground

22 Feb

I feel like the strategy of most left leaning political ideologies revolves around being a martyr in the hopes that your martyrdom will inspire the general public to act on your behalf.

For example: The occupy movement. Everyone insists on keeping the protests peaceful, especially when the state cracks down hard on the media and protesters. They hope that somehow images of police beating and pepper spraying the elderly, students, and pregnant women will inspire the average American to get up off the couch and join them.

Their whole strategy revolves around winning the sympathy of the general public. Whenever anyone in their ranks acts or suggests violence, everyone is quick to try and silence that individual for fear of losing victim status and by extension public support.

But here’s what bothers me: What if the public doesn’t give a shit?

Seriously, how does this victim strategy work if the public doesn’t care? What if people are too invested in the system, too afraid of uncertainty, and they tune you out, change the channel, or skip to the sports section of the newspaper?

The entire strategy falls apart. Instead you just become a doormat for the state. You are willingly lying down to get stomped on. How convenient!

Over the years I’ve grown increasingly more disillusioned and cynical with regards to the possibility of general public ever acting.

I just feel that no matter what happens, the majority of people are, at best, just going to ignore you and, at worst, will actively defend their masters. Just the other day my parents were talking about how much damage the occupy movement has done. All I could think to myself was “Here are people who are fighting to free you from an oppressive society, and you’re recoiling from your freedom.”

So if that’s the case, what’s the point? What does it matter if you have the “moral high ground” or not? The people you’re trying so desperately to please have already decided they don’t care or like you.

Fuck what the public thinks. They’ve chosen their fate.

But on the other hand, armed uprising seems futile. If there’s one thing the state has perfected, it’s violence. In an age of 24/7 surveillance, predator drones, and a willing public of fearful slaves, there’s no possible way you can out-violence the state.

So what is there to do?

Update on life

21 Feb

It’s been a while and a lot of things have been going on so I wanted to write a life update in my diary.

After months of searching I finally found another job after losing my first one in August. I’m now a part time pc repair technician at a little company in Irmo, SC. I’m pretty much the entire company. The owner, who previously did everything, died of stomach cancer about two months before the hired me. Since he did everything, there weren’t any other tech people. There’s one secretary, but she doesn’t know anything about computers. His brother has taken over for the time being, and so I’m the only one actually working.

I don’t think the company will be around much longer. I’m trying to plug the leaks, but I’m only one person who, while learning to be technical, is nowhere near the level of IT skill as the previous owner. We also don’t see enough business to pay the rent. /sigh So the job hunt continues.

In the meanwhile I moved back in with my parents. I know…. It’s not that I don’t like being around them, it’s just that I miss the freedom, the ability to leave the house at 2 am without arousing suspicion or waking the dogs (and consequently everybody else). I really hate how it looks from the outside. People who live with there parents are seen as losers who can’t get a real job, who don’t have any social skills, who aren’t responsible.

I have social skills, I had a real job, and I am extremely responsible. I’m perfectly capable of living on my own and taking care of myself. I did it for years at college, and for the entire time I had my first job afterwards. It really just comes down to economics.

Losing my job wiped out my entire meager savings and then some. I also can’t sign a year long lease on an apartment if I might lose my part time job soon. On top of that, I’m trying to be gone by August/September.

I’ve decided on Australia. They have a working holiday visa program for people between the ages of 18 and 30. The want you to have $5000 AUD before coming, so I’m going to save up around $7000 USD. The way it works is that you can work and live anywhere in Australia for a year, but no longer than 6 months with each company. I’m planning on flying over there and looking for work. If I build up enough of an IT skills background, that shouldn’t be a problem. After living there a year I’m going to apply for permanent residency.  That’s the plan at least.

On other notes, I got my A+ technical certification, and next I’m thinking about getting my Network + and possibly some Microsoft certs. I also got my conceal carry permit for South Carolina. I’ve been going to the gun range quite a bit and it’s pretty fun. Oh, and I built my own gaming computer. That had been a goal of mine for ages, and it’s awesome now that it’s finally finished.

I also just bought a ticket to go skydiving. I’m terrified. I hate heights and falling more than anything, so I figure the best way to get over it is to jump out of an airplane. I want to have some adventure in my life. I’m hoping doing this will help me show myself that I can do anything and will ultimately make me a more confident person.

Other than that not much has changed. Did a little housecleaning with regards to friends and relationships which leaves me with only a few people I interact with from time to time here in Columbia, but I’m getting used to that.

Not sure what else to include in this update. Those are all the major things going on in my life at the moment. I guess I’ll just end this here then. Laters.

Age and political philosophy

21 Feb

Today while driving into work I was trying to find an anarchism podcast to listen to. I wouldn’t exactly call myself an anarchist, but it is a political philosophy I’m interested in.  (I also have a soft spot for much maligned, often misrepresented philosophies, hence my attraction to atheism)

I clicked on one podcast link from a liberal news group I had found the day before, expecting to hear a podcast about what anarchism is as a political philosophy. Instead it was a 3 minute long clip of the host dismissing anarchism because of an incident he witnessed in a coffee shop.

Two people sitting at a table near him were having an argument about anarchism. The person arguing for anarchism was in his early 20’s and the person arguing against anarchism was significantly older. These people caught the podcast host’s eye when the younger of the two became very loud and rude, interrupting everyone else in the coffee shop by screaming how anarchism was the only way to true freedom.

The host then made some snide remark about how the youth had learned this through his extensive life experience.

That really upset me. Yes the youth was being an asshole, and was probably not representing his philosophy very well by conducting himself the way he did, but it was out of line for the host to dismiss a philosophy someone has simply based on age.

There is a famous quote wrongly attributed to Winston Churchill that has always irked me for the same reason:

“If you’re not Liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not Conservative when you’re 35, you have no brain.”

The mentality goes something like this: I’m older (and therefore automatically wiser and smarter) and so any philosophy I ascribe to must be correct. Any philosophy a younger person subscribes to that conflicts with mine is obviously wrong due to their lack of life experience. 


I’m sorry, but that’s ridiculous. It would be just as fallacious for me to dismiss all elderly conservatives based on the notion that they’re conservative simply because they’re old and thus set in their ways, afraid of change, and are uncomfortable that the world doesn’t resemble some idyllic utopia of their imagined past.

People of all age groups ascribe to any number of philosophies. To Flatly say “all anarchists/liberals/whatever are young misguided kids and therefore wrong” is simply unfair and false.

Ideas should be judged on their merits, not on the age of the person espousing them.

Extreme moderates?

2 Feb

This might sound conter-intuitive, but I feel there is a group of people in American politics who could be classified as extreme moderates.

Moderates often pride themselves on not being overly for or against one political wing or another. The biggest issue I have with extreme moderates their superiority complex. They feel that since they are somehow “impartial” they are closer to the truth and they see their steadfast refusal to acknowledge valid points made by either the right or the left as a virtue.

They will adamantly defend the notion that all points are equally valid, that all points of opinion should matter, that eventually they start denying fact in order to maintain their extreme moderatism. They live in a delusion where everything is equal.

For example, they will hold a fundamentalist preacher’s views on evolution as just as valid and worth considering as that of an evolutionary biologist. They will agree that the average Joe’s refusal to accept global warming  is just as good as the mountains of peer reviewed research by climatologists the world over. Their delusion is not limited to just talking about facts, it also extends to generalizations.

A perfect example is the assassination attempt of Gabby Giffords. That murder attempt brought violence into the national spotlight, but the extreme moderates were quick to rush in and say “No no no! Conservatives don’t have a problem with violence! Liberals are just as violent! Everything’s equal, everything’s equal!!!”

No. 

Everything is not equal. The conservative movement does have more violent members than the liberal movement. I’m sorry if that makes you squirm. Liberals don’t murder abortion doctors, shoot up churches (Like the UU church in Tennessee), bring guns to rallies, put cross-hairs on political opponents, or use violent imagery in speeches and campaign messages.

The reality is that one person’s ignorance is not as valid as another person’s facts, but extreme moderates won’t let reality get in the way of maintaining their “impartiality.”

 

**On a side note, they piss me off just as much as those anti-ism people. “Oh, I don’t like to be classified so I try to ignore all “isms” No you idiot, you’re an anti-ismist! You can’t escape it! It’s how we communicate! You need words to convey ideas! If you have ideas, then there are words to describe those ideas. If you don’t agree with the whole definition of one particular ism or another, then say so! But to just flatly say “Oh, I’m beyond describing” is utterly pretentious and ridiculous.

 

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