Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ranting, in spite of fabulous weather

This is another week of the best season in Calgary. Generally sunny and cool during the day, colder, but still not cold at night. Today was a beautiful day for running, about 8 C (46 F) with a bit of a wind. My concession to the cooler weather was to put on a long sleeved tech shirt.

After a bit of stretching I ran an hour even about mid zone 3. It turned out to be 9K almost exactly. The goal was to keep my feet quick and light. I checked my turnover several times and was right on 88 steps per minute, counting every time either the right leg touched the ground. Sometimes I count when it's the left leg, but not both.  If you do the math, taking 85 to 90 steps per minute works out to 5100 to 5400 steps per hour. However, the pedometer said I took 9100 steps during that hour. I am baffled. I could understand the pedometer reading 10,000 to 11,000 steps by counting each time one of my feet touched the ground. 9100 "steps" per hour works out to 151 or 75 steps per minute, depending on what exactly it's counting. I don't believe either of those numbers. Anybody have any experience with pedometers that explains this?

A little while ago I was reading about efforts in the USA to change the laws around abortion. And birth control. And miscarriages. Here's the article.  These fruit loops want to classify birth control as abortion. They think birth control causes abortions. And abortions (any abortion, at any stage of pregnancy, for any reason) are bad. And since abortion is the destruction of an embryo, then miscarriage, which is the same thing, is a crime too. The Christian Taliban don't care how it was caused, they just want a chance to snoop into someone else's affairs to accuse them of a crime. And we all know how keen the USA is to prosecute and punish crimes, especially against the poor and black.

I'm so appalled I barely know what to think. For almost all of human history, women have had little or no control of when they got pregnant, and had to put up with astonishing mortality rates around child birth. A pregnant woman, and one with small children was traditionally tied to the home delivering child care. Since there was no effective birth control, she was at the whims of her husband about how often they had sex and she got pregnant. Very few women survived till menopause given the primitive medical system until very, very recently. It's probably the single largest waste of human potential. But then they weren't real people, so what did it matter?

That there are men who want to regress to this world I can at least intellectually understand, since it gives these neanderthals control to make up for their lack of stature out in the real world. Tying a woman to a small child is just about the best control mechanism there is. 

But that there are women who want this change leaves me dumfounded. Why? The only thing I can think of is that they assume they themselves will not have to get on that pregnancy treadmill, but don't mind their sisters or daughters having to do so, in order to satisfy some weird control kick. I don't know.

There are already 7 billion humans on this planet. We don't need more. We need less, way less, since we cannot sustain our living standards much longer. We need to help countries get their birth rates down. If we don't, eventually the Four Horsemen will. Every country that has increased funding to educate girls and women, and help them with family planning have seen their family sizes drop, and the standard of living go up. Hans Rosling has some amazing presentations on this. 

The USA might be the first, and hopefully only, first world country to test the reverse. Obliterate the right to birth control, watch family sizes grow, watch the GDP fall even more as women contribute less and less to the economy, and watch a very bad situation turn even worse. And they will have done it to themselves.

What makes it harder to understand is that they are willing to let big corporations police themselves, even knowing they will foul the environment in the singleminded pursuit of internalizing the profits and socializing the costs. Why do they insist on controlling the wombs of the world, that never did any harm to anyone, and not control companies with established records of pollution, human rights abuses, fraud, and many other crimes?

I blame the right wing religious fruit loops. They are all about exerting control, and using whatever stick comes to hand to regain control over society, with themselves at the top of a new theocracy. They have been attacking science as a whole, with the individual fronts on medical research, climate change studies, teaching evolution, dumbing down text books in general, and more that don't come to mind this instant. Any resistance to them is met by hysterical outrage, again, using whatever cheap debating tricks come to hand first. 

Including outright lies. Their big one is that the USA was founded as a "Christian" nation, when it was no such thing. If anything, the Founding Fathers were clear they wanted a nation where the government couldn't meddle in religion, and vise versa, because they believed that everybody ought to be free to worship as they pleased. There are many more.

Voting rights are also under fire, and not just for women. The Republicans have been trying, and recently succeeding more and more to disenfranchise the poor, the mobile, the black, the Latino, the immigrants, the atheists, the sick, the military, and anyone that has ever been in prison. 

The USA is already one of the least egalitarian nations in the world. I just saw a great TED talk on this. Go take the 16 minutes to watch this. I'll wait till you come back. In fact, I'm going to watch it again too. He has some great graphs that show how much of an outlier the USA is. As I've said, some inequality is good, but too much is very bad. Too much led to the French Revolution, and led to a great deal of social unrest the last time it got to these levels in the USA. 

I think the OWS movement is the start of a new wave of unrest. If the elites don't get off their cloud very soon, and realize their drive to have it all is going to lead to a situation where nobody has anything, including them, that realization will be forcibly brought home to them. More and more people in the USA, and growing numbers in Canada, are being pushed into a place where they no longer have anything left to lose, no attachment to society around them, and a burning rage towards the people they perceive as having caused the problem.  

Such people are dangerous. Protests and marches will get bigger and bigger as more people lose everything. The messaging will get louder and louder as the elites ignore them. The problem is that it tends to get out of hand. The police start trying to enforce the will of the elites, and scuffles turn into struggles turn into running battles turn into outright warfare and cities burn. As we all know, the USA is awash in guns. 

In recent decades, we have seen many revolutions. As long as the police or the army are willing to fire into a mob, the people commanding them will retain power. For a time. But we see revolutions where the police don't fire into the crowds, and that government is finished. Even tyrants that seem strong can be overthrown in the historical blink of an eye.

I don't know which way the USA will go, but I suspect starting fairly soon, the police will be firing into crowds, and it will go on for a long time. Many politicians are former military, or come from a legal prosecution background that tends to look down on most people in the system. Almost every governor routinely signs off on executions. Going from that to ordering the militia to fire into a crowd of protesters is only moving from retail to wholesale murder. Not such a big step. Anyone who wants to know what happens next need only read the history of Rome, or 18th century France, or modern day Iran.

For much of my life, the USA has been the self proclaimed "City on a Hill", with the President "the Leader of the Free World". They claimed the moral high ground in all the many, many conflicts they inserted themselves into. As I've learned more and more history, I see more and more the difference between what the USA says, and what it does. I think it's this, more than almost anything else that has led to the decline of the USA. Until they get their shit together, the decline will continue, which will affect us and everybody else. 

Lest you think I'm only pointing south, Canada has lots of warts too. We have problems with what we say, and what we do, especially where Natives are concerned. Our corporate elites have a nasty habit of selling out Canadian companies to foreign interests, who then (understandably enough) manage the company to suit the owners, rather than the people who built it, or live down wind. Our political elites have a nasty habit of skimming off the top and creating rules that favour them if it's good, or penalize other people if it's bad. Many of the rules that apply to ordinary Canadians don't apply to the people that run the country, and that's a bad thing. 

Most of all, people being passive only encourages the vermin in power to carry on with their theft. We need to be an active populace watching the government, and making them watch the big corporations and other organizations that are trying to make a world that only works for them. It isn't just voting, or writing letters. I think the time has passed for that. It's time for people to work together to form Non-Governmental Organizations to multiply our influence. To get standing before the committee meetings, the public hearings, the Royal Commissions, and other places where public policy is decided. We need to start getting ordinary people into political power, and ruthlessly remove them from it when they demonstrate they have been swallowed by the system.

Lots of changes needed. Who else will I see trying to make those changes?

1 comment:

  1. Nice rant. Making birth control/abortions in the US will really help their economy! I seriously wonder what goes on in some people's brains... obviously not much!

    This is one (of many) areas that I don't agree with the Church on.


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