Occam's Chainsaw
From Wikipedia: "Occam's razor (also written as Ockham's razor from William of Ockham (c. 1287 – 1347), and in Latin lex parsimoniae) is a principle of parsimony, economy, or succinctness used in problem-solving. It states that among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected."

I have a couple of old and valued friends who are enamored of conspiracy theories. Now that in itself can no longer be said to be a bad thing. There are conspiracies out there in the real world. There is a conspiracy to discredit global warming as valid science. Most people will admit this unless they believe that global warming science itself is the product of a conspiracy. Either way, someone is conspiring! Likewise, if I had suggested ten years ago that the NSA was intercepting nearly every e-mail telephone call and facebook post, you would have rolled your eyes with derision. As you now know, they are doing all that and more.

So it is that when one of my friends asserts that 9-11 was an inside job, or that the British royal family is in league with the Bavarian Illuminati in a secret cabal running most of the world and in league with lizard people, I do not roll my eyes. Well, actually, yes I do, but I admit that there is a small, miniscule possibility that they might be right in spite of the gross improbability of their assertions. What I rather do is apply what I call "Occam's Chainsaw".

Occam's Chainsaw is my personal replacement for Occam's Razor, which fails to function properly in the world of politics, corporate greed, and foreign relations on a geo-political scale. In those spheres the silly and absurd frequently get project funding. Occam's Chainsaw is simply the principle that, if a conspiracy theory asserts something that is nearly impossible to prove or disprove, and we are essentially powerless to do anything about it even if it is true, ignore it and deal with the bad stuff you can prove or fight against.

Any other path leads to madness or despair.

Be seeing you.

On Memorial Day
"We must honor while we can, the vertical man.
Though we value none but the horizontal one."

W.H. Auden

Today is Memorial Day. There are lots of flags and patriotic slogans flying on facebook and lots of war movies on the TV. If you want to honor those who died for their country, give a $5 bill to that poor SOB with a cardboard sign at the onramp when you go up to get the steaks for the BBQ. Chances are pretty good he's a vet. He's still alive and not particularly useful in promoting the next war, so our country isn't interested in honoring him.

Dead vets are much more cost-effective.

Be seeing you.

Another Naked Cycling Event

The Atomic Spaceship
"Perhaps, then, it is small surprise that the launch of the Orion was the greatest technical hurdle to its success. A single Orion launch would have left a trail of fallout across a tremendous swath of the land or sea, the radiation from its bombs would have charged the ionosphere and the Van Allen belts around the Earth, and its series of electromagnetic pulses would have destroyed all electronics within hundreds of miles of the launch site with the larger designs. It became clear to the GA physicists that solving these problems was crucial for the viability of the Project."


She Walks Among Us
Some months ago I relocated from Sacramento to Woodland in order to regroup. Shortly thereafter I gained survival employment ...back in Sacramento. As a result I commute there to work, but shop here as a rule. Still, now and then I venture back to Sacramento to visit friends or to shop for things hard to obtain in the smaller city.

It was on such an occasion that I happened to be driving past the once-mighty Country Club shopping center, so-named before they thought to call them "malls". I saw a woman in perhaps her late fifties pushing a heavily laden shopping cart which bore canvas luggage along with the usual plastic bags and such. A German shepherd trotted by her side, its tongue lolling. Upon the top of the basket sat a large orange tabby placidly watching the scenery roll past him.

I was reminded of the story of how the Hindu Saint, Ramakrishna, experienced an awakening when he saw a prostitute transform into Parvati. The woman still bore herself proudly as she walked. She carried her dignity about her yet. I could see the goddess within her with the right kind of eyes.

The Greeks told stories of how Hermes used to walk among men in disguise as a beggar and reward those he encountered according to the treatment he received.

Maybe He does, and maybe so does Athena and Diana and all the rest of that great dysfunctional family.

The world would be a better place if we behaved as if it might be so.


"Did We Just Kill a Kid?"
From :http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/pain-continues-after-war-for-american-drone-pilot-a-872726.html

via http://cryptogon.com

A soldier sets out to graduate at the top of his class. He succeeds, and he becomes a drone pilot working with a special unit of the United States Air Force in New Mexico. He kills dozens of people. But then, one day, he realizes that he can’t do it anymore.

Bryant was one of them, and he remembers one incident very clearly when a Predator drone was circling in a figure-eight pattern in the sky above Afghanistan, more than 10,000 kilometers (6,250 miles) away. There was a flat-roofed house made of mud, with a shed used to hold goats in the crosshairs, as Bryant recalls. When he received the order to fire, he pressed a button with his left hand and marked the roof with a laser. The pilot sitting next to him pressed the trigger on a joystick, causing the drone to launch a Hellfire missile. There were 16 seconds left until impact.
“These moments are like in slow motion,” he says today. Images taken with an infrared camera attached to the drone appeared on his monitor, transmitted by satellite, with a two-to-five-second time delay.
With seven seconds left to go, there was no one to be seen on the ground. Bryant could still have diverted the missile at that point. Then it was down to three seconds. Bryant felt as if he had to count each individual pixel on the monitor. Suddenly a child walked around the corner, he says.
Second zero was the moment in which Bryant’s digital world collided with the real one in a village between Baghlan and Mazar-e-Sharif.
Bryant saw a flash on the screen: the explosion. Parts of the building collapsed. The child had disappeared. Bryant had a sick feeling in his stomach.
“Did we just kill a kid?” he asked the man sitting next to him.
“Yeah, I guess that was a kid,” the pilot replied.
“Was that a kid?” they wrote into a chat window on the monitor.
Then, someone they didn’t know answered, someone sitting in a military command center somewhere in the world who had observed their attack. “No. That was a dog,” the person wrote.
They reviewed the scene on video. A dog on two legs?

Fear Itself
I know they say that if you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear. A quick glance at history indicates that that's not true. Innocent people are forever getting caught up in machinations of the secret police - and that's what the intelligence apparatus is, our very own Stasi, although currently more benign in execution.
Perhaps I shouldn't use the word "execution." It brings up so many bad memories. Let me say that they are not at the moment taking on ordinary dissenters. I consider myself to be an ordinary dissenter, so I am grateful for small favors.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/carroll/article/Please-sir-I-am-but-an-innocent-free-speaker-4074582.php#ixzz2EO7RJcBT

Why I Support the ACLU
A Texas high school student is being suspended for refusing to wear a student ID card implanted with a radio-frequency identification chip.

Northside Independent School District in San Antonio began issuing the RFID-chip-laden student-body cards when the semester began in the fall. The ID badge has a bar code associated with a student’s Social Security number, and the RFID chip monitors pupils’ movements on campus, from when they arrive until when they leave.


Moral Compass Going South
Let me get this straight: General Patraeus, after overseeing drone attacks on civilians, "Enhanced Interrogation" of prisoners and helping President Obama compile secret assassination lists, is no longer morally qualified for his job because he kept a mistress???

Screw Anger Mangement!
Maintaining the Societal Status Quo
By Bernie Levine, PhD

Americans have been increasingly socialized to equate inattention, anger, anxiety, and immobilizing despair with a medical condition, and to seek medical treatment rather than political remedies. What better way to maintain the status quo than to view inattention, anger, anxiety, and depression as biochemical problems of those who are mentally ill rather than normal reactions to an increasingly authoritarian society.

The reality is that depression is highly associated with societal and financial pains. One is much more likely to be depressed if one is unemployed, underemployed, on public assistance, or in debt (for documentation, see “400% Rise in Anti-Depressant Pill Use”). And ADHD labeled kids do pay attention when they are getting paid, or when an activity is novel, interests them, or is chosen by them (documented in my book Commonsense Rebellion).

In an earlier dark age, authoritarian monarchies partnered with authoritarian religious institutions. When the world exited from this dark age and entered the Enlightenment, there was a burst of energy. Much of this revitalization had to do with risking skepticism about authoritarian and corrupt institutions and regaining confidence in one’s own mind. We are now in another dark age, only the institutions have changed. Americans desperately need anti-authoritarians to question, challenge, and resist new illegitimate authorities and regain confidence in their own common sense.

In every generation there will be authoritarians and anti-authoritarians. While it is unusual in American history for anti-authoritarians to take the kind of effective action that inspires others to successfully revolt, every once in a while a Tom Paine, Crazy Horse, or Malcolm X come along. So authoritarians financially marginalize those who buck the system, they criminalize anti-authoritarianism, they psychopathologize anti-authoritarians, and they market drugs for their “cure.”
Mad In America


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