Philsophizing Sheep

He brushes his teeth and then places a glass of water on the night stand beside his bed. He prepares the covers and cracks open Christopher Hitchens’ autobiography. Normally reading puts him to sleep but not tonight. The Japanese might attack (inside joke and long story). Legend says when you can’t sleep at night it’s because you’re awake in someone else’s dream. So he uses his FB ESP and wakes everyone up in the world up (just to make sure). Fundamentalist Christians respond by thinking the Rapture has taken place. His bad.

Sleep continues to elude…

Not one to count sheep he attempts to excoriate the insomnia by engineering a LEGO version of Edoras–contemplating what specialty type of pieces would be needed to construct a retractable roof or a hidden slide away closet for Grima by the throne. Maybe a sparkly, glowy Palantir piece could be incorporated? Oh First World problems you’re so charming: why can’t you be tiring?

So he contemplates resorting to going outside to lie down on the trampoline coddled by the sound of the wind flowing through the leaves above. There’s neither wind nor stars to look at tonight. (Legend says when there’s no stars or wind there’s a low pressure weather system present. Oh wait, that’s science that says that.) 

So he resorts to mindlessly watching television; and rather than turning off the mind it starts to whirl about at a million miles an hour as he watches a documentary on human trafficking which causes him to marvel at how truly wretched humanity is generally (and he wonders ponderously how he has contributed to that misery generally (of course)).

Adults kinda suck, he figures. Kids? Kids are awesome. They say crazy stuff and they’re so insightful and forgiving. But the adults? Not so much awesome there.

Having exhausted BBC news, the Fail Army YouTube Channel, email, and FB news feed for amusement, he heads back to the living room, cracks open his book again, and thinks to himself, “If I’m in someone else’s dream could you dream me asleep now please? Oh, and uhm, I’d like a six pack, my curly hair back (you can keep the ear and chest hair) and a million dollars, and to be 10 again. Let’s do this; and man I am sooooooo screwed for tomorrow.”

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Linked in Time and Space

You look at the beautiful and colorful Saskatchewan sunset–with its purples, pinks, oranges, magentas, blues and greens–and feel the same emotional response I do despite our being separated by whatever distance.

There’s an interesting metaphysical implication in this: in the same sense we can be separated from one another by distance (and feel an identical depth of emotion) we can likewise be separated by time and share the same connectedness or emotional response.For example, if someone looked upon Michelangelo’s sculpture entitled “David” in the 1500s and felt awe at the sculptor’s ability to represent the human form, which I am sure happened, and then you yourself looked upon that same marble statue in 2015 and had a similar response you would, in a sense, be united through time with that person living in the 16th century by your shared emotional response. The same affect takes place with listening to a piece of music produced by Beethoven, reading a psalm written by King David, or spending some of the little time you have in this existence experiencing the natural world like a sunset.

So despite the geographical or chronological distance separating us we can share the most deeply held sentiments and experiences in common; kind of a beautiful notion when you think about it.

Hmmm, in a strange sort of way this notion reflects some of the nuances of Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Note: no animals were harmed and nothing was smoked while this status was being crafted.

American Healthcare

The majority of Republicans don’t believe you should be required to pay into healthcare, or buy insurance, if you are young and/or healthy. This is an absurd way of looking at insurance.

Think of it this way: in rural Tennessee there was a fellow who forgot to pay for fire protection. So when his home started on fire the fire department arrived with one purpose–to prevent the fire from spreading to the man’s neighbors who had paid for fire protection. The man begged and pleaded for fire protection services to put out the blaze but they refused. He didn’t pay the fee.

You don’t buy insurance because you’re house is currently on fire any more than you pay taxes to pay for police protection services only when your home is in the act of being broken into. The whole premise of insurance is to have some capacity to deal with adversity, obstacles and problems, etc. in the future.

When it comes to healthcare you might not be sick now but odds are you’ll eventually, we’ll all eventually, make use of it; it makes some intuitive sense then to have everyone pay into insurance so we can pool our collective wealth avoiding such things as:

  • Bankrupting families who have to sell homes, cars, cash in assets, etc. to pay for exorbitant health care costs in order to seek treatment. When I was younger I had a number of medical procedures to determine whether or not I had cancer. These procedures would’ve cost me thousands of dollars (money I would not have had in my early 20s). Luckily I was born in Canada so I paid nothing for any of these procedures.
  • Pushing the elderly out of healthcare because a good proportion of them are stuck on a fixed income. My mother died of lung cancer in 1998. The various procedures to detect and attempts at treating the disease would’ve bankrupted my family; however, we paid nothing, not a cent for her treatment (and yes we did pay something, we paid taxes over time, and consequently we were able to worry about just caring for my mom in her last days instead of paying for her care).
  • Needlessly forcing young people off of their parent’s insurance plans, i.e. even young and apparently healthy people can suddenly grow sick.

I’ve met a number of Americans, particularly ones in their 20s, who were forced into the following gamble: don’t buy insurance this year so I can pay for that car or student loan. They gamble with the fact that cancer and a host of other illnesses do not discriminate and frequently appear as though out of nowhere. Why gamble in this way when it isn’t even necessary? There are, ironically, more cost-effective and productive approaches to healthcare than the private insurance Americans appear to love so much.

So, while there are some legitimate criticisms of a universal healthcare system like Canada or England has, e.g. long wait times, the use of older technology in diagnosis and treatment, etc. Canada’s system is far more efficient than whatever the heck America has had. Specifically, Canada has longer wait times because everyone–even homeless people–can access the healthcare system. (With that said, people who are seriously ill do not wait but are fast-tracked to the front so they can receive emergency treatment. Yet, no system is perfect, sometimes people do get overlooked…but far fewer compared to the millions of Americans who had no healthcare whatsoever prior to Obamacare.) The only reason you don’t find these longer wait times in the United States, historically speaking, is because private insurance systems naturally keeps millions of people out of the system because of cost. People who can’t afford insurance don’t make use of insurance or related health services. Good system? Stupid system.

In a meeting with all 52 senators at the White House today, President Trump argued that single payer (or the American equivalent of universal healthcare) doesn’t work because it would cost more money than would be taken in. I beg to differ. Canada, Sweden, Norway, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Finland, Belgium, etc. all  have universal healthcare systems (or socialized healthcare) and these countries are doing fine. Healthcare outcomes in these countries are much better than what Americans experience by comparison. Why can’t some Americans see this?

If you bombard people with a trope like “universal healthcare doesn’t work” or “socialized medicine” doesn’t work enough, you can convince people through shear repetition that it doesn’t work. The thing is the American free-market approach, or placing profit over people, doesn’t work compared to what other G20 countries do (you can Google “healthcare comparison outcome” and you’ll find article after article backing up what I’m saying here).

Ideology and political culture. Free market fundamentalism is an ideology that’s alive and well in the United States despite being discredited by not delivering what it promises to do, e.g. trickle down economics. American political culture is prevents a lot of people from seeing socialism as a living option, i.e. people have been pounded and pounded with anti-socialist, pro-free market tropes, since they were young they cannot tell the difference between liberal socialism and authoritarian communism. Also, it would be difficult to establish a centralized system in a country like America because the United States, historically speaking, has purposely set up a system where individual states are preserved from interference from the federal government. A country like Canada, therefore, which has a strong central government was, and is, able to do things more seamlessly than America. This doesn’t mean you cannot establish a single system for America; it just means there’s an additional hurdle in the American context.

Wonder’s Return

“Ours is a time that would have sent the Greeks to their oracles. We fail at our own peril to consult our own.”

Harold Goddard

The older you get the more you learn about yourself (or so some say that is the way of it). Surprisingly I find myself currently on the other side of reason despite my genuine love for logic, rule of law, intellectual honesty, and the practical application of knowledge.
I am excited because a whole new organ of perception, as Goethe observes, has re-opened before me. Though I will continue to consult oracles–science, history, honest inquiry, objectivity, books, experience and curiosity–I think my allegiance is returning to that youthful and exuberant hand-maiden of reason known as ‘wonder’ (and with that reality is suddenly pregnant with possibilities again because I have finally given up the desire for certainty).

Think/Exploit Different

Before you buy your next pair of running shoes, consider the following: the Chinese worker who made your shoes for you (Nike, Adidas, etc.) makes on average $210.27 USD a month. A pair of Nike shoes in China costs $235.00. Their entire monthly wage is not enough to buy one pair of shoes. Their low wages are made possible by globalization, i.e. you and I want cheap/quality goods so corporations move out of North America to set up shop in countries with little to no labor or environmental standards in order to maximize profits.

I recall reading something the so-called ‘forward thinking’ Steve Jobs observed about the whole process, “People don’t care where their iPods come from; they want cheap affordable electronics.”

Google “apple suicide nets China” and you’ll get an appreciation for how well Apple has treated its Chinese employees (who are one step removed from being chattel slaves). Our consumer habits in NA profoundly shape the way workers are treated in China, i.e. when we purchase a Nike or Adidas or Apple product we don’t think we’re contributing to the exploitation and oppression of millions of people…but we are.

Have a wonderful day shopping…
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-05-06/china-workers-power-sets-off-strikes-for-nike-wal-mart

Canada Day Advice for the Easily Offended

Some Quebecois and First Nations peoples in Canada are saying they won’t sing “Oh Canada” on Canada Day, i.e. it’s not my country. Well, it is your country because the freedom NOT to sing or the privilege of singing is enabled due to “Canadian” democracy. This petty tribalism serves to divide us and identity politics takes us into a vacuum leading nowhere.

Disclaimer for the too-easily and/or oft-insulted: the phrase “petty tribalism” is not a reference to African or First Nations tribal systems; I’m not using it anthropologically; it is a political science term that can and should be understood as the equivalent of “sectarianism” or “chauvinism”. If you intellectually “jumped” at the use of the term tribalism, odds are you aren’t doing much thinking; you’re reacting.

Canada’s history is pretty clear in terms of the mistreatment of First Peoples, e.g. ancestral lands stolen (80% of Quebec and British Columbia’s lands are involved in land claims disputes); the passage of the Indian Act and establishment of the reserve and residential school systems (an attempt to assimilate aboriginal peoples); the failure to meet obligations as set out by the various numbered treaties (ensuring First Nations people could live proudly, independently); the nutrition deprivation experiments of the 1950s conducted on aboriginal children at residential schools; and then just good old fashioned racism (which I’ve seen first-hand First Nations peoples having to go through). I acknowledge and teach it all in my classes.

And here’s the thing, progressives seem to think that if they drop a few tropes and phrases, e.g. “white male patriarchy” or “historically marginalized” and suddenly they’re the “good guys”.

*And here’s where people will get insulted if they don’t actually give me something of a sympathetic reading*

I do not have to first practice a sort self-loathing in order to acknowledge these terrible things happened to First Nations peoples (and that these things have ongoing effects on First Nations peoples). I can appreciate my country—perhaps the healthiest democracy on the planet—AND at the same time acknowledge its problematic history; and while I understand why some people do not consider Canada “their” country, I would like to put forth the following observation: there isn’t another country on the planet, arguably, where you can preserve your unique identity (among other competing identities) and enjoy the full protection of the law.

There’s nothing more “Canadian” than that.

Some Thoughts About the Left

Never has there been an example in history where an ideology (or a group of ideologues) say to themselves: we’ve gone far enough, no further, e.g. identity politics, political correctness, etc. just like National Socialism or communism in the 20th century have a certain grim logic to them that seems to escape its adherents, e.g. when I use the phrase “Boy, it sure is hot out here” and feminists consider the usage of the word “boy” a form of micro-aggression, I think it’s safe to say we are living in a society that has more in common with Orwell’s “1984” than the Canada Baldwin/Lafontaine’s envisioned or the America Jefferson/Lincoln envisioned.

Watch the video below before continuing on.

I suppose this is what Hegel alluded to when he observed history is composed of paradigm pendulum swings where conservatism is ascendant for a time, then the paradigm swings the other way and liberalism becomes fashionable, and so on and so forth. This new “liberalism” isn’t liberalism though; it’s a pseudo-liberalism that smells more like a secular religion than a political philosophy, e.g. if you go back centuries the Catholic Church tried to engineer society by controlling what thoughts and ideas and expressions its adherents used to help save them from hellfire. The politically correct crowd is equally well-intentioned when it comes to “saving” people from oppression it seems; it is something if not ironic that in an effort to combat oppression the political left has become oppressive itself. I abandoned the left primarily for this reason and gladly occupy the center. I’m hoping more people will join me there going forward.

Take heart: maybe liberals will be reminded that everyone is entitled to intellectual freedom, expression, etc….even those they disagree with or the ones who promote unpopular views. You don’t fight terrible ideas by turning your back and not listening or outlawing them from being expressed; you fight lousy ideas by coming up with better ones and communicating them rationally.