Alms for the Shareholders

Every single cent of tax you pay into welfare for persons that are working but still in poverty is a direct payment into the pocket of private corporate shareholders. By subsidizing the housing and food of impoverished workers through your tax payments, you are allowing the corporate shareholders that employ them to not have to do the same. They work for the corporations, the corporations capture the private profit, and you pay the workers from your own check. Fair is indeed fair. You are allowing private corporate shareholders to enrich themselves off your largess, while simultaneously not providing a basic standard of living for the workers devoting their precious life-times to the shareholders’ private wealth accumulation. Corporations such as McDonald’s and Wal*Mart have turned this perversion into an explicit business model.

Capitalism: Lift All Boats!

Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe settle a class action lawsuit for $325,000,000 to a class of 60,000 engineers, for agreeing with one another to not hire the engineers away from one another. This *voluntary contract* among the big four software companies served to artificially reduce demand for high-tech, high-skilled workers, to keep the wages down through collusion. The capitalist markets at work, to lift all boats!

The full story:

The Two Understandable Moralities

The only two moralities I’ve ever understood were those of the Jain sect, and of Peter Singer. The first draws the line at ‘everything alive.’ The orthodox practitioners actually carry a broom about and sweep in front of their steps, in a symbolic attempt to not step upon even microscopic life forms. A little untenable in modern, non-hermetic life.

The second draws the line at ‘everything human.’ It finds fault and violence in mere inaction. By not helping when we know there is suffering, even somewhere foreign and distant, we are not behaving morally. But, as we know from all the social sciences, we are a tribal species, and what is most proximate and genetically-related and self-narratively important concerns us most. Our concerns are circumscribed by our limitations. This is the essence of ‘tribalism,’ or in other cases, ‘egoism.’ Freud — holla!

There is no end to this story. Thank you for tuning in.

♥ Sterling —

One Hour of Porn and Facebook

To earn what the Koch brothers earn in *one hour*, an American minimum-wage worker would have to work *seventy-six (76) years*, full-time. Is each hour of one human’s life in our society, even the ones distracted and spent dicking around on social media or looking at pornography, worth more than a lifetime of work by the people cleaning our buildings and stocking our retail shelves?

My fucking lord how did we let it get like this? Maybe we Xers and Millennials should all give ourselves a medal, because we are all special, and we all deserve one.

The full story:

TEDTalk Fail

I watched a TEDTalk by some military General who said the most important thing you can do is ‘make your bed when you wake up each day.’ Something about setting each day in order, setting the tone, routine, or something. So I did. I got up, I made the fucking bed. I’m about to unmake it in a pile of Mighty Taco, too, but that’s a tangent. So I made the bed. And I proceeded to subsequently have the worst day I’ve had in a year. Ergo, TEDTalks is Communist bullshit. Jalapeno Poppers, tho —

Closed System Collapse

I keep a fifty-five gallon saltwater aquarium, in which I’ve had several fish for as long as three years. Suddenly and inexplicably, upon returning home one day, the fish were dying — swimming to the top, struggling, a slow, tortured death in a closed system they could not escape. I had just added two new organisms, and with them a half-gallon of foreign water, from the aquarium store. I hypothesize one of the organisms may have been diseased, or the water contained chemicals, bacteria, or other microorganisms that my existing system was ill-equipped to handle. I tried desperately to do a 50% water change, to no avail. One day, after three consecutive years of living their merry little fish lives in a closed system that was regularly maintained, all my fish — every single one of them — died within twelve hours.

You see, when a change happens in a closed system that the organisms living within are ill-equipped to handle, the tragedy comes quickly. Just a slight alteration in the closed system’s conditions can make life untenable for certain species within that system. Mind you, not all life — the saltwater worms and hermit crabs and soft coral all survived whatever malady struck — but the fish, the centerpiece of the system — all perished. So you must assiduously endeavor to keep a closed system in homeostasis. A synonym for this word is ‘sustainable.’ Because the slightest homeostatic hiccup can rapidly kill the centerpiece organisms of that system, in totality, with the snap of a finger. Kill them regardless of how long they’d been there prior, and how safe they felt. Just a few degrees change.

Oh well, I guess there is no larger moral here.

R.I.P. fellas — Sterl

Bleak Art on the Wall

The very large renovated warehouse in which the business I work for resides, among many others, regularly hangs new art on the walls every few weeks. Some is for sale. Today was the first time I had to stop dead in my tracks, because the art just forced me to consider it. Bleak and dark and beautiful in content and style — black and white pencils, pen-and-ink, muted, cool watercolors, of sad human subject matter, empty inhuman subject matter (one of a sinkhole in the ground, for instance), and dark abstractions.

Very, very good, all thematically cool, doleful, and evoking a void. Then I looked at the placards. All were done by local high school students as part of an art contest sponsored by our congressman (who, of course, plays in a rock band). I don’t see much art by teenagers, but if this is representative, I think it says something about ‘Generation Z”s potentially hopeless outlook on the future. And not without good reason, considering the present adults are fucking them and the society and planet they will inherit so rapaciously.

Movie: Terms and Conditions May Apply (2013)

The best horror movie I’ve seen in a long time is actually a documentary about online Terms & Conditions, which may apply, when you sign into basically any online service you kind-of-feel is “free.” This includes the medium we’re talking on now [this was originally posted on Facebook -- Sterl], and pretty much any other you can think of in the online domain: e-mail, cloud-based docs, search engine inquiries, browsing history, VOIP voice data, et-fucking-cetera.

Now we all know the NSA is fucking us super hard. But that’s a big, unspecific idea. You want to know *how* we’re being fucked? And how really, really bad it is? (Hint: more than you had even imagined, you cynical prick.) Check out this movie (Netflix! — who, by the way, is also collecting your searching and watching habits).

Movie info:

Pentagon v. NASA

Department of Preemptive Military Aggression and Drone-Killing Innocent Brown-Skinned Foreign Civilians (a.k.a., ‘Department of Defense’) budget: $495 Billion. National Aeronautics and Space Administration budget: $17 Billion (and a lot of that is rocket science, which serves to, oh nevermind).

As a proxy: odds are 29:1 we’ll kill each other on this tiny rock in the universal hinterlands before we find another one suitable for us to live on. Kill each other over which hairless primates ‘own’ portions of the planet against other primates (nevermind the other species, they can go where they want, but we get to shoot at them with devices the vast majority of us couldn’t figure out how to make ourselves), and which primate gets to command the other primates in a showing of anachronistic, bullshit social dominance (a.k.a., politics in a democracy, naked force in an autocracy, or ‘the boss’ in a workplace hierarchy).

Popcorn anyone?

A Word Game for You

I have a word game for you. If you succeed, you are entitled to the reward described below the game. The game is this: take the following text below, and interpret it in such a way so that it means: ‘the people may have every single one of their communications monitored and catalogued on gigantic databases with neither warrant, nor probable cause, nor concern for particularity.’

Okay, here is the game’s text:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Have you succeeded in your interpretation? Great!

Here is your reward:

You are hired as a federal judge in the United States of America!

Congratulations, and thanks for playing.