Our Feelings Are Being Hacked

If you think you’re immune from being hacked (and, yes, I mean you, not your computer), then you’re probably not aware. And perhaps there is nothing as dangerous as lack of awareness.

Yuval Noah Harari outlines 21st-century hacking dangers in this Ted Talk and offers suggestions for resistance. It’s well worth watching. And, more importantly, it’s worth considering the risks and challenges to individuality. To independent thought. The risks to you. To me.

It’s also worth questioning whether we should be participating in certain internet platforms such as Facebook. Some time back I decided to drop out of FB and am convinced it was the right thing to do.

Last week I watched the Steelers-Panthers football game on Fox. It came with Amazon Prime. It’s the first I had watched commercial television in a while. OMG, the commercials. And the product placement in the announcer booth. The entire experience was commercialized and manipulative. It was a good reminder of the constant attacks on our independence. On independent thought.

Awareness. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. And realizing how unaware I still am.

Misogyny Turns Out to be a Turn Off for Certain Women

When you choose a misogynist bully to lead your party, as have the Republicans, it turns out certain people will be repelled by your values. Especially, certain women.

I remain perplexed by women who continue to support the misogynist-in-chief. But it is what it is. At least there will be fewer of them in Congress next year. And more women who find his crude, demeaning, predatory conduct to be repulsive and thoroughly unacceptable.

The Great Amazon Stickup

Here is the handout (corporate welfare) Amazon (and, by extension, Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, who is history’s richest man) is receiving in exchange for siting new offices in New York, Virginia, and Nashville:

Incentives from New York state: $1.525 billion:

$1.2 billion in refundable tax credits over 10 years.
$325 million from Empire State Development.

Incentives from New York City:

Property-tax abatements for up to 25 years.
$900 million in job-creation tax credits, plus other unspecified tax credits.

Incentives from Virginia:

$550 million cash grant over 12 years, plus potentially an additional $200 million based on future job creation.

Incentives from Arlington:

$23 million in cash over 15 years.

Incentives from the Tennessee:

$65 million cash grant.
$21.7 million in state tax credits.

Incentives from Nashville:

$15 million cash payment based on job creation.

Add them up and you will see the biggest  corporate giveaway in our history. Corporate welfare and crony capitalism are indeed alive and well in the good old U.S.A.

Of course, it’s not news to anyone that capitalism has no ethics or morals. The only question is, will such a system override every other value and principle this country professes to hold dear? Will the rich and powerful demonstrate some ethics and morality on their own? Continue reading

If You See the Stock Market as a Sign of Presidential Success, Then at Least See Clearly

Lest I mislead you, I do not subscribe to the belief that a president should be judged by the stock market. Or that either Mr. Obama or Mr. Trump was the principal driver in the rise of the stock market during their terms. But some people do, especially, it seems, the Trump acolytes who want others to believe Mr. Trump is a good president as proven by rising stock values. The graph undercuts such silly ideas, although, to be honest, I don’t expect facts to have any bearing on the foolish beliefs some of my fellow Americans tout. We are, after all, living in the post-truth era. It’s the narrative that counts. Facts be damned.

Code Is the World’s Language

Apple CEO Tim Cook believes it’s important to learn how to code. He thinks it’s even more important than learning English as a second language.

When recently visiting France Cook said, “If I were a French student and I were 10 years old, I think it would be more important for me to learn coding than English. I’m not telling people not to learn English in some form — but I think you understand what I am saying is that this is a language that you can [use to] express yourself to 7 billion people in the world.” He added, “I think that coding should be required in every public school in the world.” I think he’s right. Continue reading

Another Lost War

The U.S. has been fighting in Afghanistan for 17 years, the longest war in our nation’s history. Yet the Taliban, our adversary, is stronger than it’s ever been since the American invasion. By now it’s clear to all but those wearing rose-colored glasses that America has lost another war. It just refuses to admit it. So it will spend billions more and suffer who knows how many more casualties before eventually conceding defeat. Just like Vietnam (although with fewer American casualties). Continue reading

When Will Enough Be Enough?

You’d think unions would be thriving today. But they aren’t. The masters have instilled enough fear to keep the serfs in check. And the propagandists have done a great job of selling the story that this is the way it should be because, after all, unconstrained capitalism is what God intended.

When will enough be enough?

I have no idea. But I have to believe the day will come. Eventually.

Are People Leaving or Moving to Your State?

As the above shows, the gainers continue to include the Southeast, Texas, the Mountain States, and the Northwest. The losers are led by Illinois (I’m still amazed anyone who can leave stays there given the dire fiscal and tax situation and crappy weather) and New York (which continues to hemorrhage retirees to Florida). Those who can bail on Kansas, too, as the Republican governor and Republican-controlled legislature do their best to destroy the economy and social fabric of the state in the stupidest experiment I’ve ever seen any state run. I continue to wonder how Arizona and Nevada are going to water their expanding populations. And, of course, there is New Mexico: the most underperforming state of all. Given its location and climate, it should be growing, yet somehow manages to make itself as unappealing and dysfunctional as possible.