New Study: Extinct Animals Were Mostly Bad At Capitalism

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A new government study reveals a correlation between animal species which have gone extinct in the last few centuries, and their lack of participation in the free market system. To put it bluntly, the species which no longer survive were lousy capitalists.

At best some of these breeds had attained a rudimentary comprehension of bartering. But most animals packs or other social orders do usually border on socialism or communism. Even the bees, whose own numbers have recently been on the decline. Despite living in a system of monarchy, essentially a dictatorship, bees have proven to be beneficial to the planet and to mankind. Unfortunately they have been unable to protect their assets, and are known to invest widely and foolishly.

Experts now place some of the blame on the animals themselves, for not adapting and embracing the simplest of financial concepts or even a common currency.

extinctMany say this is one aspect of a larger problem. Wildlife in general is unwilling to adapt to modern ways of life.

Even to this day, most animals refuse to cooperate in any established social norms. Governments around the world have invested money, time, and effort. They have installed ‘Animal Crossing’ signs on roads where automobiles and animals often intersect. To this day though, you would be hard pressed to find any animals actually crossing at the signs. They refuse to use them or indeed obey any traffic regulations. You would think they couldn’t even read them. Everyday, animals still haphazardly cross the busy roads and highways whenever and where ever they please.

Virtual Vitriol

shutfixWhy are people like this?

I was hanging out on Facebook a little while ago, talking on a thread. Some of you know I like the band Phish, and the thread was about their albums and songs and their live shows, and how would you introduce someone to the band and their music?

The thread veered as threads do, a festive, fun, informal little discussion about some of the band’s albums and our initial reaction to them.

At one point I was talking about a common opinion among Phish-heads, and one I must admit personally held some credence when I was younger. The notion that longer songs are better. I was in a playful mood, so in the comment I stated it as, “Longer = Gooder.”

I know ‘gooder‘ is not a word. I can see the little red line pop under it informing me of a language breech.

So, the next comment was from someone who had not participated in the thread up until this point, either they were only lurking or they just found the conversation. Either way, their first offering to the topic was to call me out on my word usage.

I asked if he was seriously going to attempt to reprimand me in an informal conversation about the band Phish on Facebook, especially since mine was not the only non-word in the dialogue. Some folks had used words such as ‘Squicky‘ and other fun recent additions to the lexicon.

This person held their ground.

I told them they were similar to the person who would look over my shoulder at a live concert, correcting my punctuation and grammar as I attempted to keep a set-list of the songs and continue to dance my ass off at the same time.

I asked if they had written angry letters to Phish about the misspelling of their name, and some of the words they use in their songs, such as ‘thunk.’

I pointed out that the band itself has some song titles which are not real words, ‘Gotta Jiboo‘ and ‘Faht‘ for example. But, I continued, I was pretty certain this person had corrected the song titles on the back of their CD case, properly renaming the songs with their red permanent marker.

I told this person I know it’s not a word, but I was certain in the context people would be able to grok the intent. It’s not like I made up a word like ‘frundlesporkled‘ or something vague and indecipherable. Gooder is not a word, but you can pretty easily deduce it’s meaning.

This person must be a real blast at parties.

The thing that irked me, though, was this was the first thing they added to the conversation. They had sat on the sides reading along without adding a comment, an opinion or even a ‘me too’ to the discussion. They didn’t speak up until they saw me use a non-word.

Why are people like this? I don’t get it. Sometimes I think its envy or something similar, these folks can’t produce an original thought within their tiny skulls to save their life. So they take out their frustration on anyone who dares to say anything out of the ordinary. I don’t know.

Shakespeare made up words. I told the person I admired their rigid adherence to the guidelines of the language, but this is not school, and ‘you are not my editor.’

I don’t know if it made this person feel better or superior to point out my foible. I’m not sure, I just don’t get people sometimes. These are the sort of people who write YouTube comments and hang out on reddit.

Speaking of reddit, I had a similar run in there. It was pretty much the last straw. I rarely check into reddit anymore just because there are too many small-minded nasty people who only value an opinion if it is vitriolic.

I was talking in a thread about the TV show Community, and the return of the shows creator and executive producer Dan Harmon.

I commented that I was glad he was returning, and seeing the way the show faltered when NBC and Sony replaced him was a vindication of sorts for Mr. Harmon’s unconventional approach to making good television.

This one redditor tore into me; a lengthy, nasty soliloquy rife with expletives and sentences in all caps. Besides ridiculing me for daring to defend him, this redditor went on to call Mr. Harmon ‘King Baby,’ and other colorful descriptions.

I tried to clarify my position, but it fell on deaf ears. Sometimes you have to know when to cut your losses and move on. Pick your battles, if you will.

The next day I check into reddit and see a long thread of conversation has branched off from the conversation I was in. And who decided to pop in and comment but Dan Harmon himself, who had some scathing words for this nasty redditor.

And here the real hilarious thing was how this redditor’s attitude changed. ‘King Baby‘ was now being addressed as ‘Mr. Harmon, sir.‘ And near the end of the conversation this redditor offered to buy Dan Harmon a drink if the occasion ever presented itself.

I told this redditor after all this was over, I hoped he enjoyed his beer with ‘King Baby.’ He tried to defend his change of tone as it being in a completely different conversation.

“An entirely different conversation that grew out of our discussion,” I said, “The word we use around here for such a change of heart is ‘Two-Faced’. Do not even bother replying,  I’m done with you, I will not read or respond.”

And I didn’t. I let that thread die, and I rarely even look at reddit anymore because it is filled to capacity with this petty, nasty, duplicitous, miserable sort of person.

So, why are people like this? Are some people unable to find any sort of contentment unless they are putting someone else down?

I don’t know, but there seems to be way too many of this sort walking around on the planet.

I got a genuine laugh, an out loud laugh, from this redditor and the way his tone changed. The vitriol he aimed at me for defending the guy turn obsequious when the man himself showed up in the thread.

It reminds me of the saying, ‘Those who say it can’t be done should not interrupt the ones who are doing it.’ It’s not a direct analogy, but is the same sort of tiny-minded person.

I know my punctuation is suspect at best, and my penmanship has turned to chicken scratch, but this is the best I can write down the songs and still enjoy the concert. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to read it. You are free to write the set-list any damn way you wish. You are entitled to your opinion, but you aren’t required to share, and I really don’t care to hear it.

Good day to you, sir. Kindly shut your clamoring trap, and let me get back to dancing.

©M²XIV/REM

Half Mast

cartooncandleSo now we must add the Los Angeles airport and the mall in New Jersey to the list. Thoughts and prayers to anyone who was involved or has family involved. Yet another senseless tragedy we aren’t really prepared to deal with but have become accustomed to their almost regular occurrence.

I was on Facebook reading the comments. One friend was trying to get a clearer picture of what happened, and another person on the thread was talking about how he generally doesn’t try to dig deeper for the truth for a few days, when the sensational reporting subsides.

That seems a terrible tragedy in itself. We have become so complacent about these terrible events that we are able to formulate and recognize a regular protocol for how we individually process the information. Does this bother anyone else?

I’ve read the constitution, I’ve heard the arguments on both sides. I don’t have an answer and I won’t pretend I do. But it seems to be something we at least have to talk about. I don’t want to take away anyone’s rights, and I don’t want to enable anyone to come after your guns; but I also don’t think this is something we should accept as just another regular part of our lives.

How long is it going to be before we can discuss these things, how much more does it take to spark a dialogue. We are not too far off from our flag being flown permanently half-mast.

I hear the argument that says that any sort of regulation would only punish the law-abiding gun owners. The criminals will always find a way to get a weapon, we will only make it harder for citizens who only wish to protect their homes and families. I understand the point and to some extent I can see the point; But why is this same mentality not applied to anything else? Millions are spent every year on this out-dated notion of the War on Drugs, even though by the logic of this argument, criminals will always find a way to get their drugs, we know we can’t stop them all, so why do we try?

candleSome will argue that any law requiring background checks or any stipulation of what and how much we can own is a violation of the second amendment. I see where they are coming from but I do not agree. The right to bear arms is listed in the Constitution but there is nothing stating that no qualifications could not be employed. By that argument isn’t also a violation of our rights to deny gun ownership to felons, the mentally ill, and minors.

I don’t know the answer, as I said. But we need to have an adult discussion about this. This is a terrible thing to get used to, to accept as a part of our lives from now on. We don’t hear of shootings on a regular basis happening in Australia or Europe or even Canada.

And I know guns aren’t the only issue. Too many in this country are suffering and struggling with mental illness. The cultural and social divide becomes an ever-widening chasm. People react with drastic actions when the legal options offer no path to freedom and no satisfaction.

This is not something we should grow accustomed to, this is not a natural part of our lives that we might as well accept because there no way of avoiding them. We cannot afford to be complacent, and we shouldn’t sweep the conversation under the rug and say now is not the time to discuss these things. When then? What will it take for us to look at this problem and try to find a solution?

I don’t think we can afford to put it off any longer, and if the patterns continue, it will be less than a month, maybe less than a week, before we hear about the next event. Another terrible senseless action taking more innocents from us, and then another impetus to look at this phenomenon in a somber and sober light.

© Robert Emmett McWhorter

Credit: Player One: 90 days remaining

This Just In!

pleasefeedThe United States Government has gathered nickels from couch cushions and dimes stuffed in corners. The pilot found four dollars in the cup holders of Air Force One. Mitch McConnell was convinced to sell some of his kraut-rock record collection.

The collectors will finally stop calling. The Election Company won’t drop the twenty four billion dollars in late fees, rate increases and rustier status, but as usual we can leave that until later. Much later, hopefully the next shift.

failTwenty four billion, that should teach us how dedicated they are to eliminating government overspending.

John Boehner just went to the bank and broke his billion dollar bill. He has gone out now to pay the meter. An ambassador from China will be by in the morning to remove the boot from the Capital.

©Robert Emmett McWhorter

Neil Armstrong/ Explorers Day

‘Columbus sailed the ocean blue,
In fourteen hundred and ninety two…’

dalicolumbusWe’ve all heard this couplet. It was ingrained in us at school. Maybe it’s no coincidence that it seems to be the only part of the story that history has recorded correctly.

October 12 has long been observed as Columbus Day, coinciding with the day that the New World was ‘discovered’ some five hundred years ago. For the last few years, I have been saying we should change it to Neil Armstrong Day. It started as a little joke, one of the random, somewhat humorous off hand remarks I am likely to make.

But every year when the day comes up, or when the Apollo 11 mission gets mention, my resolve grows more serious. I have decided to add to my list of goals, along with a few other personal missions like Standardization of the English Language, the preposterous bucket list I have gathered with little hope of ever achieving, but never-the-less remain adamant and vocal about.

On October 12, 1492 Cristóbal Colón landed in the Bahamas while searching for a new and easier trade route with Asia and the Indian sub-continent. This much is true. The fact that the people who already lived here for thousands of years are still referred to at times as ‘Indians’ attests to his stubborn insistence that he thought he had sailed his way around the world. It didn’t take long to realize that this was not true, yet the ignorant if not offensive misnomer persists.

columbusdayWe were told in school that Columbus ‘discovered’ the Americas, but by now we all know this, also, is not true. Besides discounting the hundreds of thousands, more probably millions of Native Americans already living here, it has recently become generally accepted fact that he wasn’t even the first European to land on the continent. The Norse, The Vikings, specifically Leif Erickson, are currently considered to be the first to make the trip across the Atlantic some five hundred years previous. There are others who cite evidence of the Knights Templar, Irish Monks, The Dutch, The Scottish Freemasons, or the Merovingian French may have made the trip.

But the Natives, the ‘Indians’ as he insisted on calling them to downplay the mistake he had made in navigation or estimating the size of the planet, they were here first. And we know their story does not end well.

For a long time we heard that Columbus himself was not involved in the tragedy and travesty that is the story of the Native Americans after they were ‘discovered’, and he couldn’t be held responsible, in fact that it was wrong to blame him at all for the ultimate genocide that was committed on two continents.

columbusThis, we find out, is also not true. Columbus set himself up as Governor of the island he named San Salvador, took natives as slaves, the rest were forced to give up their own ways of life and beliefs and convert to Christianity, or be subject to violence or death.

Why then would we want to celebrate this man?

Indeed, for almost as long as there has been a Columbus Day, there has been protest and sometimes outrage against it. In much of South America it has been renamed as Discovery Day, which still seems like a slap in the face to the people who had already been living here. Other attempts to rename the holiday with politically correct titles and euphemisms has led to Dia de la Raza (‘The Day of the Race’), ‘Hispanity’ Day, and quite a few variations on the theme. It has also been called Day of Indigenous Resistance and Native Americans Day in more recent times. Hawaii is one of a handful of states that do not recognize the holiday, but instead mark a day of observance for the Polynesians who are credited for first landing on the Hawaiian Islands.

So I propose, instead of dragging this stale, immoral, and degrading celebration any further into the future, why not rename it, re-brand it for someone who truly deserves recognition?

armstrongsketchOn July 21, 1969, as part of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. Almost immediately and ever since, he has been likened as a ‘Modern Day Columbus’, although now I would argue this comparison is an insult to Armstrong’s legacy.

But if anyone is deserving of a Holiday in their honor, truly few can dispute Neil Armstrong.

He did not design or build the Saturn V rocket. He did not invent or collaborate on the hundreds of technological advances that came forth from these missions; many of our modern household devices such as cell phones, computers, navigation devices, and much of the progress made in health care, transportation, internet and communications, nanotechnology and robotics was born from NASA and the moon missions. And it is true, Neil Armstrong was just one man in the mission, the captain of the crew, and the first to step onto an alien surface and proclaim it ‘a giant leap for mankind’, but still just one man among the half million people who worked to make the moon landing possible.

armstrongstarBut as a spokesman, as a symbol of the achievement, there really is none more deserving in my opinion. After returning to Earth and making the obligatory rounds; the parades, the interviews, the speeches and such, he quietly slipped back into anonymity. He shrunk away from the spotlight, wishing just to live a normal, quiet life. He famously turned down requests to bask in the glory, to sell out the achievement, to promote his own name, or use this new status to his advantage.

This is why I suggest, a little more vocally and emphatically every year, we rename the day as Neil Armstrong Day, or at the very least Explorers Day.

"I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer -- born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in the steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace, and propelled by compressible flow. As an engineer, I take a substantial amount of pride in the accomplishments of my profession." ~Neil Armstrong

“I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer — born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in the steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace, and propelled by compressible flow. As an engineer, I take a substantial amount of pride in the accomplishments of my profession.”
~Neil Armstrong

He was just one man on the team, and indeed everyone involved should be considered a hero in his or her own way. But as a symbol of the achievement, and as the first man to actually step onto a surface that was not Earth, he is a perfect candidate for the honor. For the celebration of what mankind can achieve when we set our minds to it and all pull together and work as a team.

Add to it the fact that he actually achieved what history says he achieved, unless you believe the conspiracy theorists who claim it was done on a Hollywood sound stage, or until we find proof that the Vikings in fact landed there first five hundred years before.

© Robert Emmett McWhorter

Revolting Thoughts

I think we’ve all heard the grumbling. It started on the fringe, little whispers from the most extreme papers and websites. But the voices are growing in numbers and becoming more brave and outspoken. As the divide between the rich and the poor grows wider, and the political divisions between left and right become more polarized, the quiet chant is becoming a battle cry, a call to arms.

Everyday our ability to fix things from the inside appears to grow incrementally more impossible. Some are saying it’s time for revolution, to burn it all down and start over.

But a Military takeover, revolt or coup rarely put anything better in place. Look at the messes in the Middle East since the ‘Arab Spring’. We have a fine Constitution in place, and we should keep it in place– or restore it, as some would say– with the Taxation Mandate, the Second Amendment, the General Welfare Clause, and all.

We were very lucky George Washington was man of the character he was. At the end of the Revolution most of the world, and many of the colonists, expected him to claim a throne; to replace the old monarchy with a new one. He disbanded his army and ceded power to the Continental Congress; this was met with disbelief when the rest of the world heard the news.

When the current Constitution was ratified and enacted, and Washington became president, most thought he would remain so for life. He stepped down after two terms, a precedent not broken until Franklin Delano Roosevelt in World War Two.

This is an exceptional case, things rarely work out this well. The French revolution ultimately led to Napoleon. And despite everything that Lenin spoke of, once the Russian Czar was dethroned and the Soviets took power, it was basically one totalitarian regime in place of another.

History retells this tale ad nauseam.

It will be a difficult road to repair from within; so many Americans disillusioned by politics, and those who do become involved are mostly caught up in the bickering between stale and meaningless alliances; red-hats are better than blue-hats, or vise versa.

It is high time we recognize that these people we repeatedly vote for and elect, to be our voice in the government and to protect our interests; with few exceptions, they are not ‘liberals’ or ‘conservatives’, they are not Democrats or Republicans; and they do not represent us, or in fact care about us at all. We have been divided, and unless we realize this and act, we will be conquered.

If we can get to a place where we’re not fighting one another, and recognize the real threat against us; if we can convince a majority of the population to become active in the effort; we can turn this course around, and take back our country from the powers and entities which are currently purchasing our government, and the politicians who have become little more than corporate whores. It is in their best interest to keep us distracted.

We, the people, the average American citizens, the peasants, the once middle class– our issues are not against each other, we are more the same than dissimilar. I hope we can come together and put the petty grievances aside, reclaim our solidarity and independence, and work united to take back our country. Indeed, a house divided cannot stand.

© Robert Emmett McWhorter

During the Government Shut Down…

… with ‘Non-Essential’ employees on furlough, should Congress continue to get paid?

Of course, Congress should continue to receive compensation. I mean, we talk about assisting the poor, the disabled and those who can’t help themselves. Have you ever seen a group so morally bankrupt, mentally disabled and so backwardly spiteful, they would cut off their own heads to keep from pulling them out of their asses?

But we should not call it ‘paid’. It seems to suggest they worked, or somehow earned it.

Notice of Scheduled Termination

EMPLOYEE: United States Congress #113 

REASON FOR DISMISSAL/TERMINATION: Unexcused Absence. No Call, No Show.
TERMS: No severance, no reference.
REMEMBER: Congress works for US! They are elected by US! And paid by OUR TAXES, and are expected to represent OUR INTERESTS!
Did any one of us permit this shut down? Did we authorize a request for vacation? Do you recall them asking for time off? Did they call in sick and at least make a half-hearted attempt to sound like they had a bad cold?
Unless congress can come up with a doctors note in the next 72 hours that explains that they were physically unable to work and also unable to notify us, we should consider this absence an Abandonment of Position, and start looking at some resumes and applications for potential candidates to replace them.

after wandering the desert forty years seeking medical attention…

In 1974 Richard Nixon (yes, that Richard Nixon) saw the need for Healthcare Reform. He saw the rising costs of medical care and the propensity for abuse and greed from the Insurance companies.

He proposed a plan similar to Obamacare- except it would be labeled by some as more ‘socialist’. The Nixon plan expanded Medicare to anyone and everyone, and also established State-Run Insurance Programs, where Obamacare still gives the business to private insurance companies (free market, private industry.)

When an uninsured American needs medical care or winds up in the hospital and is unable to pay, who do you think foots that bill? We do. You do, I do. It means higher medical costs, insurance premiums and taxes; as the hospitals, clinics, insurers, doctors and care providers attempt to recoup their loss.

Is this the plan you prefer?

For well over forty years this country,  the citizens and even our politicians have recognized a need for a change. It’s not a matter of the government becoming a babysitter so we no longer take care of ourselves, it is a matter of us standing together against an industry; the corporations and companies that have been gouging us, extorting our savings, and leaving us defenseless to fight, because individually we have no teeth against this Machine.

Very, very rarely in the last half century would you hear anyone defend the plan in place, or rather- lack of a plan. There weren’t many who would jump to defend the insurance industry’s greed or the practices of pharmaceutical manufacturers. It was generally understood across the board; we were being bent over by these institutions, and were powerless to do anything about it.

Finally, we have a defense. At long last a plan is put in place, and while it may not be perfect and may need adjusting and revision, it is a plan we have been waiting for, fighting for, and shouting for as long as I have been alive.

And it is very interesting to hear this argument come into play , that ‘we don’t need it, we don’t want it’. Ten years ago this would have attracted curious looks, and give people a reason to question your sanity and grasp on reality.

If you want to remain on that side, defending the practices of the greedy powers that have been sticking as many hands in our pockets as they can possibly fit; until one day they decides you have nothing left to offer, and dismisses you with a ‘preexisting condition’; I can’t stop you, and it is well within your rights. But please be aware, and honest about who you are actually supporting, defending and rooting for.

Something Walmart This Way Comes *

evilwalmartThe national conversation about employee benefits and fair compensation has turned into an argument. The minimum wage in the United States has not kept pace with our rising cost of living, nor has it kept pace with the increasing profits reported by many large corporations.

As far as benefits, many employers have long taken measures to keep from having to provide healthcare or other perks to their workers, usually keeping hours below the threshold that would legally require them to invest in their employees.

Walmart is not the only perpetrator of this injustice, it is certainly a widespread problem and many companies and corporations are complicit in such policies. But I use Walmart in my example, as the biggest retailer in the world, they make themselves an easy target.

I can’t believe how many middle class Americans will jump to the defense of these corporations, shouting down the employees asking for a living wage and benefits, they’re just looking for a ‘hand-out’.

“Its not supposed to be a career blah blah…, teenagers can do it blah blah blah…”

If this is you, it might be high time you turned off Fox News, stepped outside your house and saw that most the people working retail or fast food these days are adults. In their twenties through their seventies. And it’s not that they are unskilled, it is the fact that the jobs have left this country. Look at anything you buy at Walmart and tell me if you ever see a ‘Made in the USA’ sticker on it.

These companies are reporting billions in profit every year, some of them tens of billions, Record numbers. But the workers who are often the face of the business, assisting customers and collecting the money; paying them a living wage would be  a ‘hand-out’.

Employees are paid as little as legally possible. To make things right, some reatilers assist and instruct their employees on applying for SNAP, food stamps, public assistance, whatever is available to make up for the fact that the employees cannot live on what they earn. Fifty two percent of Americans who have a family member working in fast food receive food stamps and other government assistance.Why the hell doesn’t that piss you off?

Hours are kept just under the threshold for mandatory benefits, such as health care. If one of these employees needs medical assistance or goes to the hospital, and doesn’t have insurance and can’t pay; who do you think foots that bill? You do, and I do. It means higher medical costs and higher insurance premiums and sometimes higher taxes as the Hospital, Clinic or Medical Center tries to recoup that loss. Why the hell doesn’t that make you blood-spitting furious?

I’m not knocking anyone attempting to run a business and get rich, but these corporate entities take every step they can to pay for the minimum upkeep, as little as possible in taxes, and pay the workers the lowest legal wage; and we get  stuck paying for it, we’re expected to make up the difference.

We are paying for greed. We are paying Corporate America to bend us over and we smile as we’re violated. We are paying them to piss on America; our systems, our values, and our citizens. You’d call it a hand-out to pay an employee enough to survive, but you don’t mind throwing your legs in the air and spreading when the poor, little Multi-national needs you to pay for its business practices. If you are not already brain-dead, or don’t enjoy your corporate intrusion served up cold, dry and abrasive, Why in the hell aren’t you outraged?

Oh, but look at the low, low prices..

*with acknowledgements to Trey Parker and Matt Stone who named a South Park episode ‘Something Walmart This Way Comes’

© Robert E McWhorter

Truth in Campaigning

DATELINE SPRINGFIELD–  Even though we are still three years away from the next Illinois Governor’s Election, potential candidates are already testing the waters with a more contemporary way of marketing themselves to voters.

Citing the long and sordid list of corruption and convictions in state politics, Governor Pat Quinn and Republican Bill Brady are researching, as some are calling it, ‘Truth in Campaigning’.

Earlier in the week the Incumbent Governor issued a press release on his web-site stating that, “Although infractions are full expected of my Office, I promise that if re-elected, all my crimes will be misdemeanors and my scandals petty matters of indiscretion and personal moral failings”.

Meanwhile, the Brady camp is said to be market-testing some new television ads in which the gubernatorial hopeful states: “I vow that all the grift, shady dealings, and strong-arm machine-politics of my term will be, ultimately, for the good of state of Illinois and the people who work and live here.”

Word on the street is that, although voters do appreciate the new, full disclosure of the candidates, most feel it is time to stop voting for Crooked Democrats and Crooked Republicans, and start voting for some Crooked Independents.