node created 2019/09/29
If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you.
I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use and by some other means to give us knowledge which we can attain by them.
Nobody at any time is cut off from God.
It doesn't matter what our parents think. Most of our parents, despite their big careers and degrees, are zombies brainwashed by television, and think they are informed by watching the news and reading the new york times. They are, for the most part, lost. Not to mention, they will be dead soon.

What matters is our generation, and the generations after us. Edward Snowden, Bill Binney, Thomas Drake, and others have made the information available so we can know the truth, and act accordingly. People are now able able to choose, rationally, based on factual evidence, what side of history to be on. The true revolution begins in people's minds, after all. We are in a position to choose between an enlightenment and a dark age.
Frankly, most people have a grossly stunted sense of empathy, with exceptions only for those things that they have firsthand life experience with. An instructive contrast is media depictions of sexual violence against women: for a couple of decades, there has been a concerted effort to decry media depictions of violence against women (sexual or otherwise) that are perceived as unnecessary or trivializing. The success of these campaigns is to be lauded, but what they reveal about how empathy-bankrupt monsters most people are is sort of chilling: people en masse can be taught to play-act empathy by rote if it's drilled into their head that a particular case is no longer socially acceptable, but they don't seem to be capable (en masse) of practicing the skill of empathy itself.

For anyone who watches Game of Thrones: Compare the huge outcry against the depiction of Sansa's marital rape to _an entire season_ of infinitely more gruesome torture porn by the same perpetrator against a male victim, which included genital mutilation. Despite being a far more egregious and lengthy display of gratuitous and stomach-turning violence, the latter caused no backlash whatsoever, and is in fact still fodder for jokes about Game of Thrones-themed foods ("Theon's Flayed Sausage"), including from publications like Huffington Post which were some of the loudest complainants about how unforgivable the former scene was.

TL;DR: It's not a particularly popular opinion, but most people are far more depraved and far less capable of basic human empathy than even their own ostensible moral standards would imply. Like you, I can't relate to how people watch that stuff, but I can definitely understand it.
I've been thinking of a story from the Old Testament: Moses stood all day and all night with outstretched arms, praying to God for victory. And whenever he let down his arms, the enemy prevailed over the children of Israel. Are there still people today who never weary of directing all their thinking and all their energy, single-heartedly, to one cause?
There was a wonderfully illustrative story which I thought I had bookmarked, but couldn't re-find: it was the story of a man whose know-it-all neighbor had once claimed in passing that the best way to remove a chimney from your house was to knock out the fireplace, wait for the bricks to drop down one level, knock out those bricks, and repeat until the chimney was gone. Years later, when the man wanted to remove his own chimney, this cached thought was lurking, waiting to pounce...

As the man noted afterward—you can guess it didn't go well—his neighbor was not particularly knowledgeable in these matters, not a trusted source. If he'd questioned the idea, he probably would have realized it was a poor one. Some cache hits we'd be better off recomputing. But the brain completes the pattern automatically—and if you don't consciously realize the pattern needs correction, you'll be left with a completed pattern.

I suspect that if the thought had occurred to the man himself—if he'd personally had this bright idea for how to remove a chimney—he would have examined the idea more critically. But if someone else has already thought an idea through, you can save on computing power by caching their conclusion—right?

In modern civilization particularly, no one can think fast enough to think their own thoughts. If I'd been abandoned in the woods as an infant, raised by wolves or silent robots, I would scarcely be recognizable as human. No one can think fast enough to recapitulate the wisdom of a hunter-gatherer tribe in one lifetime, starting from scratch. As for the wisdom of a literate civilization, forget it.

But the flip side of this is that I continually see people who aspire to critical thinking, repeating back cached thoughts which were not invented by critical thinkers.
All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer. [..] But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.
Suffering is not the source of creativity. The desire to escape suffering is.
Nobody can save you but yourself - and you’re worth saving. It’s a war not easily won but if anything is worth winning - this is it.
The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.
A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once.
"Julius Caesar"
Ideology does not arise from pure reason, it does not spring from the void. Ideology does not exist on its own, only in conjunction with power structures; ideology is completely subordinate to physical power. Ideology does not create power, it rationalizes it.
If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.
Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching.
[Q: Isn't there a certain calculus that someone who is sitting in the shoes of a Condoleezza Rice can make, that they're responsible for the best outcome for American citizens, and there's an upside of going into Iraq which is we get one of the greatest material possessions in world's history, and there're downsides which are: we upset the international community, and maybe there's more terrorism. Couldn't you envision a calculus where they say, sure, that's the reason, and it's a good reason, let's do it. What's the flaw in the calculus?]

Oh, I think that's exactly their calculus. But then we ought to just be honest and say, "Look, we're a bunch of Nazis." So fine, let's just drop all the discussion, we save a lot of trees, we can throw out the newspapers and most of the scholarly literature, and just come out, state it straight, and tell the truth: we'll do whatever we want because we think we're gonna gain by it. And incidently, it's not American citizens who'll gain. They don't gain by this. It's narrow sectors of domestic power that the administration is serving with quite unusual dedication...
Talk titled "Why Iraq?" at Harvard University, November 4, 2002
Some bad companies: no big deal, no one's making you stay, leave if you don't like it.

Some bad unions: all unions are awful and the solution is to not have unions.
Some people spend their lives interested only in themselves. Almost all Japanese animation is produced with hardly any basis taken from observing real people, you know. It’s produced by humans who can’t stand looking at other humans.
Google's answer is, wake up, grandpa, this is the new normal. But all they're doing is trying to port a bug in the Internet over to the real world, and calling it progress.

You can dress up a bug and call it a feature. You can also put dog crap in the freezer and call it ice cream. But people can taste the difference.
Personally, I'm in favor of democracy, which means that the central institutions of society have to be under popular control. Now, under capitalism, we can't have democracy by definition. Capitalism is a system in which the central institutions of society are in principle under autocratic control. Thus, a corporation or an industry is, if we were to think of it in political terms, fascist; that is, it has tight control at the top and strict obedience has to be established at every level - there's little bargaining, a little give and take, but the line of authority is perfectly straightforward. Just as I'm opposed to political fascism, I'm opposed to economic fascism. I think that until the major institutions of society are under the popular control of participants and communities, it's pointless to talk about democracy.