One of the ideas that I have toyed
around with for years is the philosophical question as to whether
Homo sapiens are a true intelligent species. My overall point
being that most animals have enough sense not to crap in their homes,
fight to the death, or practice fanatical or fantastical beliefs when
there is no evidence to support them. Yes, I know some exceptions
exist, such as chimps who have shown disturbing human-like behavior
such as organized group warfare and murder.
If humans were truly intelligent it
seems to me that we wouldn't totally trash the planet for resources
nor destroy whole ecosystems for short term gain. But yet we are
still doing both of those things all in the name of capitalistic
profit even though we have ample information that those practices
cannot go on for much longer. For Americans, water shortages are a
relative minor pain in the ass that stop us from washing our cars or
filling the backyard pools. In many regions of the world there is a
real possibility that countries might have to go to war in the
decades ahead to secure enough water for basic existence. And as for
ecosystems, the world's oceans were once thought to be inexhaustible,
but some species of fish are now commercially extinct because of
decades of industrial scale fishing.
Nor would humans instinctively divide
the planet into competing ant hills. Yes, world government is foolish
wish given that our species can't really shed our primitive tribalist
tendencies. That being my whole point, evolution has forced us to
cooperate for the benefit of our individual groups but we can't seem
to connect the dots and realize our species is just one big tribe. We
gleefully divide each other into countless groups for the benefit of
economic exploitation or outright genocide. If a starship full of
intrepid alien explorers discovered our planet and after some
observations realized we had divided the planet into over two-hundred
omnipotent, self-serving nation-states the best thing they could do
would be to quietly get the hell out of Dodge before we notice them.
On the matters of faith, while numerous
religions have promoted the ideas of serving the greater good and
that all men and women are brothers and sisters, you can't ignore the
fact that many people believe that only they know the will of God.
That delusion has brought about some of the bloodiest wars in
history. Even now fanatical and self-serving devotion to various
invisible friends causes otherwise decent people to commit monstrous
actions. You would think that an intelligent species might be able to
realize that if some A-hole religious leader commands his followers
to kill their neighbors because that is what God commands, they wound
just find a new holy man.
I was raised Christian, but the idea
that God would only let the followers of Jesus into heaven while
truly saint-like Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and countless others have to
burn in Hell because they practice a different faith is ridiculous.
While officially agnostic, I still follow what I was taught in Sunday
School as a young kid. As long as people treat each other decency and
respect and don't trash the planet, they should get their Heavenly
ticket punched. Yes, I believe that would even allows atheists and
sorry ass agnostics like me through the Pearly Gates. Screw it, not
to insult anyone but given the hypocritical and even monstrous
behaviors of supposed “holy” men and women in all faiths, if all
they have to do to wipe the slate clean is whisper a halfhearted
prayer of forgiveness to get into Heaven, otherwise decent idjits
like myself should be in like Flint.
Given my criteria on what it means to
be an intelligent species Homo sapiens pretty much fails across the
board. Yes, there are personal exceptions, but overall I tend to
agree with a character from a science fiction movie, humans are more
like viruses than mammals. No, this isn't some John Lennon-like
lament over an imagined Utopian society, our species will never
achieve such perfection.
On a personal level, what supports my
idea is that we live in a wondrous universe filled with mysteries and
intriguing possibilities but can't stop our squabbling for very long
to explore it. There are questions that beg to be answered but we
seem content to continue to crap in our home, fight to the death over
stupid shit like who has the better ant hill, and obey the commands
of delude psychopaths who believe they and God have one-on-one
Mudskippers, humans are little removed from their behavior
This is sad to write, but my one of my
few hopes is that Elon Musk succeeds in getting his dream of a
permanent human colony on Mars established. I firmly believe that in
such an alien and hostile environment where survival is the primary
concern the age-old human sins that have kept us bickering like
little mudskippers will be burned away. That over time humans would
evolve into an intelligent species, not gods by any means, but
a species that could look beyond their primitive desires and
delusions and find a worthy purpose for our existence.
Well shit, after rereading this it did
get a little John Lennon-like. Frak it, I'm getting a beer.
The only human desire that rivals the
ancient wish for eternal life is to be remembered. In fact since
researchers had shown other animals can cooperate in groups, use
tools, and even have a type of culture, the desire to be remembered
by those that come after us might be something that defines what it
is to be human. I say “might be” because given what we have
already learned from highly social animals like chimps and some
cetaceans, it wouldn't surprise me that they too have some innate
wish to be remembered by their descendants. How we would find
evidence of that, I have absolutely no idea.
Interpretations vary, but to me cave
hand paintings are at least a partial declaration that “I existed.”
That in a time long before writing, hand paintings on the walls of
caves transcended the limitations inherent to intelligent creatures
who know they will eventual die and be forgotten. Of course as humans
progressed we created written languages that were often carved into
the sides monuments to declare our triumphs and achievements so that
the memories of great exploits would live on, hopefully forever.
Years ago while reading about the ancient Egyptian pharaohs, I found
it somewhat humorous to learn that the hieroglyphic these ancient
kings had carved on the side of their vanity-driven monuments never
really mentioned any defeats they suffered in their lives or military
campaigns. One Egyptologist on a television documentary half-jokingly
suggested that any failures or defeats were carefully spun by the
pharaohs' scribes to seem positive by the clever use of careful
As the centuries passed humans made
sure anything they created had their name attached to it. Whether it
be books, paintings, or any number of other creations or discoveries.
It's just human nature for a person to want everyone to know that
their hard work or inspiration produced something that will live on
after they are gone.
This gets to the reason I am writing
this self-reflective crap. A few months ago I got into a conversation
with someone about our respective hobbies. Normally, I absolutely do
not reveal my blogging to anyone, my politics alone makes me an
outsider here in South Carolina but when your hobby can be considered
rather abstract and even slightly cerebral, well that just makes you
a total weirdo in the eyes of these sophisticated and nuanced folks. But since the
individual I was talking with seemed a little obsessive over his
model train collection, a fine hobby no doubt, I thought what the
The question this person finally asked
what was the point to all my efforts? I had already told him that it
has been years since I made a serious effort to have anything
professionally published. He knew enough about blogging to understand
that the vast majority of these websites go completely unnoticed by
the wider world. My usual, and largely true answer is that I use
blogging as a way to blow off steam and frustration. But there is a
deeper answer that you can probably guess.
At some point I intend begin recording
all my rants and various attempts at fiction onto some sort of
permanent storage. The idea being that when I finally head off into
oblivion my kids and their kids will have a record of my thoughts.
While in no way comparable to the massive ancient Egyptian monuments
left by the pharaohs, there is more than a little bit of vanity
associated with my intentions. Then again, I like the idea of
imagining what one of my descendants one-hundred years or more from
now would make of my ravings. This is assuming humans do not bring
about a planetary environmental collapse in the next several decades,
civilization destroying pandemic, or just go out with a good old
fashioned nuclear war.
This train of thought naturally leads
me to speculate on the ultimate way to be remembered. As our
technology has advanced the ways to recording our existence has
become more numerous and sophisticated. Making a video recording of ourselves is
so easy these days we're on the other end of Clarke's Law that says,
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from
magic.” Just image Joe and Jane Smith from the early twentieth
century seeing a commonplace video recording of a kid's birthday
party. They may not run away in fear from the magic picture box, but
they would have absolutely no idea what to make of it.
While the technology is still decades,
if not centuries away, I can see people making recordings of their
consciousness that would be fully interactive with anyone accessing
them. This brings to mind the question would such consciousness
snapshots be sentient beings deserving of human rights and
protections? Or would our descendants consider them nothing but more
sophisticated versions of home movies no one wants to see?
Several months ago, a Canadian guy I
know from Facebook posted a question wanting to know which American
president was worse, George W. Bush or Trump. His personal assumption
was that George W. could still claim the title since he had spent a
trillion dollars on the Iraq War and had approved the practices of
torture to obtain information from suspected terrorists and mass
Orwell-like surveillance on the general public. Being Canadian safely
ensconced in the bosom of top rate government healthcare and a far
more rational and intelligent population, he is totally cutoff from
the facts here in this cauldron of seething fear and rage that is the
True, the current occupant of the White
House hasn't gotten around to launching a totally needless but
self-serving war that wrecked the political stability of the good
chunk of the planet and destroyed literally millions of lives both
overseas and here at home. Well, at least not yet, and I mean every
word of that short statement. Trump's need for adulation and glory is
a dangerous combination and when joined with his saber rattling on
Iran, a favorite boogeyman for the clash of civilizations types and
the Israeli government, anything is possible. Despite the recent love
fest meeting between the narcissistic wonder and the little squirt
from North Korea, we are in no way out of the woods in that region.
What Trump has done that in my opinion
makes him so dangerous as to change my perceptions of George W.
to the point he is almost acceptable is to eat away at the basic
foundations of constitutional government and the very stability of
the country. Trump is desperate to begin persecution of his political
enemies and anyone else that doesn't measure up to his definition
of loyalty. Personally, I despise the racist Kebbler elf now running
the Justice Department, his policies on marijuana and immigrants are
at the very minimum backwards and self defeating for the former and
criminal on the latter. The only thing good I can say about Jeff
Sessions is that he recused himself from the investigation into
Russian interference on the election and has resisted Trump's
insistence that he do something to get rid of Mueller.
Civility, a tough concept for Americans
in the best of times, has taken a huge hit since Trump has risen to
national political prominence. The modern Republican Party, never a
bastion of progressive thought when it comes to promoting equality
now has admitted neo-Nazis and white supremacists running for elected
office. There is only one reason why such individuals haven't been
expunged on national television by the Republicans. And if you didn't
automatically think of the name of the person who is letting the
party of Lincoln slip into fascism you really need to get a grip.
Equally disturbing is how numerous
Republicans on social media are saying things worthy of not just the
propaganda arm of an authoritarian country, but outright totalitarian
police-states. Trump recently said to a Fox and Friends moron that he
wanted Americans to sit up for him the same way the North
Koreans do for the Kim Jong-un. Another instance involves a
Republican party official that recently tweeted we should all get with
the Trump program, or else. Not an exact quote by any means but close
enough to express her sentiment. What exactly the “or else” means
is anyone's guess but I have heard it repeated many times by other
Trump supporting morons.
The situation that has sent me into
spasms of anger and bewilderment is how Trump is now separating
children from their parents or guardians at the border. Yes, these
people are trying to enter the country illegally but they are still
human beings and should be treated with respect and compassion.
In just over a month almost
two-thousand children have been separated from their parents and
housed in conditions that at best approach that of dog-kennels or
even something far worse. If you've read a little history think back
to the Japanese interment camps of WW2 and how they were just thinly
disguised concentration camps. Adding another dose of inhumanity is
how Trump is using these kids as bargaining chips to get his wall
along the Mexican border. He blames the Democrats for his own racist
and xenophobic actions. Pretty much the same thing as an abusive
husband blaming his wife and kids for the beatings he gives them.
Frankly, I'm ashamed of being an
American right now. Far more than during the Bush years when you had Cheney
prowling the halls of government with his Sauron-like smirk. If the
United States hasn't fallen into the abyss we're damn near the
tipping point. Now if my words upset any super patriotic dipshits,
start a crowd sourced fundraiser and buy me and my family a Canadian,
Australian, or New Zealand citizenship. I'll gladly unass this
shithole and watch as you all go into societal nuclear meltdown from a safe distance.
As for Democrats be they “liberal”
or “progressive”, I honestly blame you lazy and petty fuckers for
the overall situation. I'm talking about the apathetic shits who
couldn't be bothered to vote despite the fact that they realized
Trump was a monster. And I have a special anger-borderline hatred- for
the “voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil”
crowd. God help me, I think more of the right-wing fanatics than you
guys and gals. At least the right-wingers have enough sense not to
cut their own throats.
As of this writing, summer hasn't even
begun yet and I feel myself longing for November. Either the assorted
Democrats will pull their heads out of their asses and take back at
least the House of Representatives, or Trump will be given another
blank check to remold the government and break the Republic. At least
the waiting and uncertainty will be over.
For most Americans, things don't get
more patrician than standing on the lido deck of the Disney Magic
cruise ship as it sails through Caribbean waters. There are far more
elite cruise lines, some so expensive that the brochures do not list
the prices for their little fifteen to twenty day jaunts around the
south Pacific or leisurely Mediterranean voyages. The idea being that
if you have to know the prices of such trips before hand, you
certainly can't afford them.
Don't get me wrong, while my family and
I have been on three Disney cruises, the price for those vacations
were nearly beyond our means. Fully knowing my following statement
will sound like a blatant advertisement for what largely amounts to a
soulless corporation, but Disney cruises are worth every penny.
On each of our three trips, when my
family and I finally retired to our cabin for the night it was
because of exhaustion from the activities. Yes, there were days
devoted to relaxing, and if that is your main purpose, a person can
easily find secluded and quiet places on the ship to read a book or
listen to music for the entire trip. When my wife and I finally do
another Disney cruise, that is exactly my plan. By that time the kids
will be mostly on their own, and we have no intention of bringing the
Back when the kids were younger they
were the main reason for the trips to begin with. But each morning I
made a point of getting up before my wife and them and grabbing a cup
of coffee to enjoy some alone time. Strolling the decks right before
sunrise you almost have the ship to yourself. Sure, there are others
up and about like the fitness types and the odd late night strangler
but you mostly see folks like myself just wanting a bit of solitude
before the energetic hordes emerge.
It was on our last Disney cruise in
January of 2011 that I had one of those special moments that I hope
never to forget. It was the second or third day of the cruise, and as
usual I sneaked out of the cabin leaving my wife and daughter still
fast asleep. The sun had just begun to break the horizon as I walked
on the lido deck heading towards the gigantic coffee pots situated
close to the restaurant where the buffet breakfast would be served a
couple of hours later.
After getting my cup of coffee, I found
a nearby seat looking out over the ocean to enjoy the beginning of a
new day. As the minutes ticked by the rising sun created an orange
hue across the water. While the overall weather was calm and clear,
the ocean seemed a bit choppy with countless small waves colliding
together sending up small splashes of water that twinkled as they
caught the sunlight going down. The scene by itself was one of those
picturesque moments true photographers would have twisted themselves
and their cameras into pretzels to catch ever visible nuance.
I did attempt to reach for my camera,
which should have been in the right side cargo pocket of my shorts,
only to realize that in my haste to leave the cabin as quickly and
quietly as possible, I had left it behind. Going back for it would
have been futile, by the time I returned to my spot the conditions
would have changed so I just sat back and enjoyed the subtle play of
light across the water. Hindsight always being more perceptive than
the present, it wasn't ten minutes later that another circumstance
appeared that caused me to wish I had gone after my camera.
The buffet-style restaurant and the
adjoining beverage station were at the ship's stern. And the spot I
was sitting allowed me a decent view of the latter half of the port side of
the ship. Right before I was about to get my second cup of coffee, I
noticed a section of the ocean that was far more choppy than the
rest. It didn't take long for me to realize that it was a pod of
dolphins on what amounted to an intercept course for the cruise ship.
Of course, I was enthralled watching
the pod catch up with the ship and then swim alongside. That wasn't
all, as the dolphin leaped through the air, I saw them tilting the
side of their bodies facing the ship upward. Anthropomorphizing the
behavior of animals is bad practice, but it appeared as if the pod as
a whole was inspecting the ship.
No big deal, it's well recorded that
cetaceans are curious animals who interact with humans on occasion
while in the wild. So it was no stretch to think that this pod, being
open ocean swimmers in well trafficked waters, had encountered human
ships in the past. What I still wonder about though is were there any
inter-dolphin communications going on between the members of that pod
as they swam alongside the Disney Magic? Were there any
dolphin discussions on what they thought the purpose of the Disney
Magic, since I imagine people riding around on a big ship for
pleasure is a completely alien concept to them.
While the scientific reports I have
read strongly suggest dolphins are not sentient, they are still
incredibly intelligent animals with sophisticated communications
abilities among themselves. I'm the type of person who freaks out at
the idea of understanding what other intelligent species, both
terrestrial and the hypothetical extraterrestrial type, think of
humans and their creations. Truthfully, I realize their opinions of
us is probably quite low since humans tend to screw up things and
destroy far more than we preserve and build.
For several minutes the dolphins kept
pace with the ship, but just as suddenly as they appeared some group
decision was made and they veered off almost perpendicular to the
direction we were going. That's the thing that still causes me to
wonder in amazement, did some pod leader suddenly announce to the
group the side trip was over or was there the equivalent of a vote?
Because while I have no evidence the pod had an ultimate destination
they were trying to reach, the way the group just changed direction
makes me think they had a particular place they wanted to be.
It wasn't long before the dolphin pod
was gone from sight once again leaving me to my thoughts. While my
encounter with them was tenuous at best, I count it as one of the
best parts of that trip.
Wikipedia defines the “American
Century” as the period since the middle of the twentieth century
when the United States rose to global dominance based on its
economic, military, and cultural power. No where near an official
hundred-year period but when you figure the European nations could
still be considered major powers up until the 1960's, I see that
unknown Wikipedia editor's point.
One of my college history teachers
defined the American century from our active participation into the
First World War, roughly 1916. His idea being that had the United
States not entered the European conflict on the side of the Allied
powers of Britain and France circumstances would have been much
better for Germany. With Russia out of the war and dissolving into
Bolshevik-inspired chaos, the German kaiser could have redirected all
his forces to the western front. In short, we saved the butts of
Britain and France forcing them to realize the growing power of the
United States could not be ignored.
Whatever the case, up until George W.
Bush plunged the United States into a trillion-dollar Iraqi quagmire,
we Americans were riding high on the global hog. Our system of
post-WW2 alliances around the world had at first contained an
expansionist Soviet Union and then insured its constructive demise as
it imploded. The American policy of international free trade allowed
an unprecedented expansion of wealth that allowed possibly billions
of human beings to rise above a poverty level existence. The same
goes for science and technology, the human race has gained more
knowledge in the last fifty years than any time in our history. We've
walked the surface of the moon, sent unmanned rovers and probes to
Mars and the planets of the outer solar system. Medical knowledge has
grown so fast we now casually tinker with DNA, the foundation of all
life. And as far as computers are concerned, the exponential growth
in that technology means we may live to see an actual sentient
artificial intelligence supersede humans in a couple of decades.
Yeah, huge mistakes have been made over
the decades, but we're talking humans here not all perfect and wise
gods. Hell, if you want to know the truth, I'm still surprised that
we got through the Cold War without nuking ourselves into a new stone
age, if not extinction itself. All good news, although I'm still not
sure about a recent supposition I read about that suggests that while
humans have polluted the hell out of the planet, we're still ahead of
the game since that knowledge will eventually force us to clean up
the place. The idea being that other, less aware alien civilizations
in the galaxy have gone extinct because they couldn't connect the
dots as to why polluted water, air, and soil was bad for them.
Frankly, given the forces of human greed and total willful ignorance,
I'm not sure if we will decide to clean up the planet it time.
With the “American Empire” roughly
keeping the peace and allowing most everyone on the planet to prosper
you would think politicians would work extremely hard not to frak it
up, which might cause a disastrous regional conflict, if not another
world war. Well George W. already screwed the pooch with his stupid
war to bring democracy to the Middle East. No, I have not forgotten about
his ravings over nonexistent Iraqi WMD's, but that's a whole other
piece of bullshit not important to my central point.
The success of American global
leadership since the end of WW2 has rested on the twin pillars of
free trade and military alliances. NO! It's not a perfect system,
especially since the vast majority of the newly created wealth is
controlled by an incredibly small percentage of rich elites that do
not hesitate to throw their weight around. But when the alternative
was a planetary scale nuclear wasteland, I'll go with what we have
and try to reform it.
Well if George W. wasn't bad enough we
now have a narcissistic A-hole occupying the White House hell bent on
not only wrecking the relatively successful global trading system but
totally alienating our long time allies. Right from the get-go Trump
said during the 2016 presidential campaign that he was going to throw
out all the trade deals that have been made. His reasoning was that
the United States was being taken advantage of by our allies. That
the poor hapless Americans were the fools of the world. A really hard
thing for anyone with any knowledge of modern history and a smidgen
of economics to believe since the United States created the game and
wrote the rules.
True, a lot of old technology jobs went
overseas causing a great deal of economic troubles for those working
in the affected industries here in the United States. But anyone with
just a few extra grams of intelligence and ability to look beyond
self imposed blinders would understand millions of American jobs
depend on selling products to the wider world. Yes, free trade hurts
but in the long run that is how you continue to promote overall
economic growth. Yes, trade treaties can be structured better on a
number of fronts like supporting organized labor and protecting the environment.
All Trump supporters hear is that
bastard promising to bring back all the nifty lifetime factory jobs
their granddaddies and fathers worked. The trouble though is if you
want to worship the religion of capitalism you have to follow its
tenets. Which in this case means businesses are going to search out
the cheapest labor to maximize their profits. The funny thing above
all the empty promises of bring back those factory jobs is that
automation will eventually remove most if not all human labor from the equation.
Unbeknownst to Trump supporters, and
the bastard himself, economic issues translates directly into
security considerations. Namely that no single nation can secure
international peace all by itself, no matter how much egotistical nonsense permeates right-wing media. This is where overturning the international system wiser
men and women created becomes a form of suicide.
China, the rising superpower out to
remake the world in its image, just launched its first home built
aircraft carrier. Its first carrier, a piece of Russian made junk
that they bought from Ukraine and totally rebuilt gives them a fleet
of two. No big deal you might say, Britain has two aircraft carriers
as does India. And several other countries all possess single
aircraft carriers, with most of them nothing more than token symbols
of national sovereignty. And honestly, if you combined all those
different aircraft carriers from those other nations they probably
couldn't scratch the paint of the U.S. Navy.
But China is different, their ultimate
goal is to take control of Asia and the western Pacific. The current
Chinese government is an often brutal authoritarian regime still
carrying a grudge over how the Western powers abused them from the
eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. China is already a great power
with the will and ability to become a superpower. And no superpower
wants the navy of another country cruising around in what the
perceive as their backyard. So they will continue to build and refine
their aircraft carrier program to achieve that goal. Now the Chinese
don't necessarily want a giant rerun of the Battle of Midway, in this
day and age that would cause more problems than it solves.
No, the Chinese have come to believe
that they will inherit Asia and the Pacific as the United States
withdraws because we can't hack the cost anymore. One recent report
on economic growth has that by 2030 the Chinese economy will be worth
$42 trillion while the United States will be at the $24 trillion
level. So keeping up with the Chinese will become impossible for the
United States to do alone. What's worse is that wrecking the
international trade system for stupid and destructive reasons will
only make it harder for long term economic growth that will enable
the West in general and the United States specifically to keep up
with China. That doesn't even begin to take into consideration how
damaged economic ties will make it difficult to get the Western
nations to rally together militarily should China decide to use their
growing navy to forcibly take control of the regions they want.
This is where aircraft carriers are the
most useful. See first of all they are offensive weapons of the
highest order. You do not maintain a such a fleet to defend coastal
waters. You possess carriers to project military power and national
influence far from home.
Despite all the moronic level rhetoric
about “Making America Great Again” the Republican party and Trump
are on the verge of gravely damaging the long term future of the
United States. Since the end of WW2, every member of the United
States government, both Democrat and Republican, has understood our
own national security is tied to that of our allies. Remember the
great Ben Franklin is quoted to have said to the other Founding
Fathers that would either all hang together or we will hang
separately. Pissing on your allies and economic partners just to
score cheap points with the MAGA Marching Morons is not the actions
of a nation with a future.
Measuring the beginning of the American
Century is subject of historical debate. However it is quite possible
that future generations will measure the end of our global dominance
as Election Day November 2016.
Source material: Foreign
Policy-April 25, 2018 “China's New Aircraft Carrier is Already
You are a Working Class Warrior, also known as a blue-collar Democrat. You believe that the little guy is getting screwed by conservative greed-mongers and corporate criminals, and you’re not going to take it anymore.