Trump v. NFL

There’s what you mean and there’s what you  say and then there’s what it sounds like.  Most of us, in our everyday lives, are cognizant of that fact  and  go to  great lengths not to  say  anything offensive.  Then we apologize like crazy if we accidentally do.  Most people in public life, even more so.  You know, like  when they get an actor on a talk  show and they say “What was it  like  to work with _______?”  They never say “Oh my  fucking God, he was the biggest asshole I’ve ever met in my life” even though the law of averages states that that must, at least on some occasions, be true.
Donald Trump, however, is not like that.  He has no filter, and sometimes things come out sounding a bit off.  When he called  Mexicans rapists, he didn’t mean ALL Mexicans, presumably.  Likewise, in his comments earlier today, he didn’t say ALL NFL players were sons of bitches.  Just any of those who expressed their personal opinions, any  of those who object to the fact that police are murdering black people at a steadier pace than they are solving any crimes, and Colin Kaepernick in particular.
His fans will be supportive.  But, in another way, the statement reveals Trump’s extreme disconnectedness with American culture.  He suggested that  if any fans saw any players not standing for the national anthem, they should just turn and walk right out of the stadium.  Does he have any idea how much NFL tickets cost?
To tell you the truth, I don’t either, but I know  it’s a lot and I know that somebody who’s shelled out good money for a pair of them is not likely to turn around and leave before the  game begins just to make a political point.  People come to a football game to  watch a football game, not to dither over the national anthem.
Maybe, on the other hand, Trump does know how much NFL tickets cost, and just doesn’t think it’s a lot.  Because, you know, he’s really, really rich.  And an asshole.

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Crossing the Line

A couple nights ago I wrote about Morgan Freeman, kind of defending him, because despite his lame ass ‘We’re at war with Russia’ video, I still like him as an actor and respect him as a human  being.

I meant to segue from that into one of my regular themes, which is that you have to separate the individual from their work, the art from the artist.  If you expect everybody in public life to be a good person, you’re expecting too much.  Look around.  Half of  the average people you know  are assholes in some way  or another, and there’s no reason at all  to think  that success, fame, or money would make anybody any less so.

After Charlottesville, in the wake of the furor to take down all  the Confederate  statues, I had internet friends who felt we should also remove statues of Jefferson and Washington, because they were slaveholders.

A few cities have canceled Columbus Day, and replaced it with Native Americans day, which is kind of token, and only 1/30th as long as black history month, but whatever.  I’m not against Native Americans having a day, or a month, or even reparations which they certainly deserve, but I think Columbus, evil, crazy, racist and ignorant though he was, is kind of an important figure in American history.

Pound was a Nazi.  Elia Kazan, an absolutely brilliant director from the McCarthy era, was a creepy scumbag who was perfectly willing (him and Ronald Reagan) to co-operate with McCarthy.  William Burroughs murdered his wife, or at least accidentally manslaughtered her with a gun while high  as a full moon over a pumpkin patch, Edison stole other people’s ideas, Picasso and Gandhi both treated their wives like dirt, and Abbott and Costello, believe it or not, didn’t like each other in real life.

Nobody’s perfect.  A few  days ago, a Facebook friend was  trying to convince me what a monster Freud was because, apparently, he was dismissive of child abuse.  Damn.

There’s nobody in life who  is above criticism, but let’s try to keep things in perspective.  Talent is not exactly the same thing as morality.  And we shouldn’t look to celebrities as role models, or else we’re going to be continuously disappointment.

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Singularity v. Extinction

Will we reach the singularity before we commit species wide suicide and take the  rest of life  on Earth with us, or not?  This was  a question that  took up  about a minute of conversation tonight at the  poetry reading, but I think it’s a real good question.

Of course, there are  many factors to consider.  First, what are  we defining as The Singularity, because I’ve  definitely heard  different definitions, but the way I’m defining it here is that point in  the future when we can just upload our knowledge, our memories, our  sense of self, into the computer where it  will merge and mingle (actually, I think the mingling version might be  a lot less  scary  than  a full  on merger) into a single, great, absolutely immortal species  mind.  Disembodied, sure, and some would say that makes it not worth it, but it is  immortality, along with a kind of omni-cognizance, so I  think it would be pretty cool.

Now, how close to that possibility is one question, and how close are we to extinction is the other.  I’m kind of an optimist on the second question.   There are some really bright people who are working on alternative energy sources, and how to restore the right  balance of  carbon  and hydrogen, and all sorts of cool, green stuff, bullet  trains and electric  cars, and so much, so  much more.  All it takes is a  sharp, sudden shift in the public consciousness and we’ll get that as soon as a developed and populated land mass suddenly  ceases  to exist.  So, yeah, I think humanity will take  it right to the  brink, because we’re stupid, but will pull  back  from the  brink, because we’re not  actually suicidal.
How far away is the  singularity?  Hell, I don’t know, but things do appear to be developing at a swift pace, both in  brain biology  and cybernetics, and each development feeds on the last in  a wonderful, cascading  effect, so I’m guessing 20 or 30 years, based on nothing.

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Morgan Screws Up

I like Morgan Freeman.  I really  do.  I’m a fan.    I love ‘Through the Wormhole’ and have  never, to my  recollection, seen him in a film I didn’t enjoy.  Also,  he runs a bee sanctuary on his farm in Mississippi, and that is a very cool thing and indicative of a man who truly cares about the human race.

I also don’t have any objection to Rob Reiner.  I wouldn’t call him the most stellar director of all time, or rate him among the top 30 comedians of my lifetime, but I have been  entertained by him on occasion and rate him as a generally harmless sort.

Their recent joint endeavor, however, with Morgan Freeman narrating a short video charging Putin with trying to destroy the U.S. and saying “We are at War With Russia” was a bit out of line.

The U.S. is most certainly not at  war with Russia, nor should we want to be.  Come on, we’ve been in Afghanistan for more  than 2 decades, and haven’t won.  In Afghanistan, we’re fighting against a bunch of guys who  may have  guns, but that’s about it.  They don’t have an air force.  We lost to Viet Nam, a country that’s only about 1% of Russia’s size.

How is the U.S. going to deal with a country that can actually fight back?

So, it’s kind of crazy.  But, I’m not going to start hating on Morgan Freeman because of it.  Or Rob Reiner.  They’ve got  their political opinions, which I think are kind of ridiculous.  But, I’m still going  to watch ‘Through the Wormhole.’

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Robots, and some Jobs they will do

When robots  take all of the jobs, one result will be that some services previously only available at a high price will become much more affordable.  So, instead of taking jobs, they will be improving our lifestyle.

They’ll probably take a few jobs, too, a major technological change to society like that is bound to be a bit wrenching.  Of course, robocars are going to eliminate a lot of jobs for truck drivers and cab drivers.  On the other hand, that means that shipping costs will be lowered which is bound to be good for the economy, and cab drivers will no  longer be able to defraud people.

They might still be able to converse, though, which will be interesting.  You won’t have to tip your robot bartenders and waitresses.  But, there’s a couple of other jobs I’m thinking of.  Robot massage parlors will  boom.  No, I’m not  talking about sex dolls.  Seriously.  A robot masseur doesn’t need to make a living wage, and they can work long  hours and apply just the right pressure and it will  be cheap enough everybody  can  go  get  one  at the end of a hard day’s work because, hey, why not, we’ve earned it.

Another one, which depends on a certain amount of near sentience, being able to respond to questions and statements with understanding, is psychology.  Who goes to  psychologists today?  Not many.  It’s expensive, and a lot of people don’t want to pour out their troubles to a stranger, no matter how committed they are to doctor-patient privilege.  A robot with a nice soothing voice and a literally encyclopedic knowledge of human emotions and  ailments and a completely non-judgemental attitude, on account of not actually being human, might just smooth right  over that problem.

Those are a couple of jobs  where I  think they will have a positive impact, and expand the  field rather than  take  jobs.  I’m sure there will be others.

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Spicer’s Not Funny

I didn’t watch the Emmy’s and probably wouldn’t have even if they were broadcast here, but firsthand knowledge is seldom an  impediment to me stating my opinion, which is what I’m about to do.
I wouldn’t have watched them because I haven’t seen most of the shows which were nominated for awards, don’t have  any programs I was really rooting for, and would probably be disappointed in the winners as I think most major network TV programming is godawful crap, it’s just cop show after  cop show in  a non-stop orgy of violence.  Talk about terrorism.  The TV industry has got people thinking that murder is a common occurrence and you can’t trust anybody.
Nonetheless, I strongly object to Sean Spicer being invited to speak there.  I don’t care if it was a joke segment, I don’t care if he was introduced by Stephen Colbert – Colbert can have him as a guest on his own damned show if he wants.  This was supposed to be a celebratory, even a festive occasion, and they invite someone who is known for trying to shut down access to information, to silence the press, to damage democracy.
Sure, he was never actually convicted of a crime.  I’m pretty sure that lying is not a crime, or else half of American (and not just American, other countries have this problem, too) would be in jail.  But that’s no reason to treat him as if he was a normal, harmless, jovial old guy who took some hits in the political arena and now  we can laugh about it.
That makes it seem like it was all O.K.  That makes it seem like Trump is O.K.   Oh, sure, he’s a bad president, but we can laugh about it, can’t we?

No, we can’t.   And we shouldn’t.  This shit isn’t funny.

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What’s Going to Happen

We all have our own ideas about  what happened, and,  therefore, about What Happened.  My Facebook feed is about evenly  split between people who are mocking the book furiously, and those  saying we should ignore it.

I don’t have a lot  of  Hillary  supporters among my Facebook friends.  Anyway, I  believe I blogged on that topic a few nights ago, with the idea that  the Internet is vast and can host one more than one  conversation at one time, the marketplace of ideas is  inevitably going to have more than one stall.
But tonight I’m just going to make a prediction.  One more week, tops.   After a week, nobody will be posting about Hillary’s book and we  can go back to more immediate topics.  This is based on a couple of  things.

The juiciest  bits have already been mined.  I don’t  know that for  sure, and  a few more will  trickle out, maybe, but you kind of can’t top  the pony page, or the 4 minute abs bit, or her failure to understand the point of Orwell’s 1984.
Like any book, some people  will buy it, some will refuse to buy it, and the vast majority of the American public, who’ve never set foot in a Barnes and Noble in their life, will  carry on obliviously and not even be  aware there was a book.

Her supporters have  probably already bought it, or will soon.  Nobody else is  going to buy it at all.  So, sales drop, news drops, sales drop.  That’s the way  it goes.

Once the book does fade from the news cycle, Hillary won’t have much else  she can due to stay in the public eye.
So, my  friends, patience.  It won’t be long  now.

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