Manifestos are a dime a dozen but the deaths they cause are real–and tragic

The thugs who commit mass shootings often back up their murders with a manifesto that purports to (a) gain converts and (b) show that their actions were justified.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “The attack in Buffalo is the direct result of white nationalist propaganda, specifically the ‘great replacement’ conspiracy theory, being promoted and now mainstreamed by major public figures. While this false notion that white people are being systematically replaced by Blacks, immigrants, and Jews has deep historical roots, it has gained traction in recent years.  And with that traction has come violence, both physical and political.”

Such theories, ideas, and notions are not only arrogant but abhorrent. Some people argue that the killers in mass shootings are not insane but have been radicalized by white supremacy propaganda of one stripe or another. My view is that “being radicalized” in this way IS an example of insanity, but splitting hairs about definitions won’t fix the problem. Neither will be banning freedom of speech.

I would like to see more forums, books, articles, TED talks, and other initiatives that promote a dialogue about the inflammatory issues that divide us rather than leaving the entire discussion to Facebook and other threads where is no civility or enlightened attempt to explore what is polarizing us and why such things frighten people to the extent that they take others’ lives and are killed in the process.

We need to develop new ways of looking at the world rather than perpetuating fear and distrust that, if not addressed, will turn our country into an armed camp of competing insanities.

Malcolm

What if we’re just machine code?

Ever since the philosopher Nick Bostrom proposed in the Philosophical Quarterly that the universe and everything in it might be a simulation, there has been intense public speculation and debate about the nature of reality. Such public intellectuals as Tesla leader and prolific Twitter gadfly Elon Musk have opined about the statistical inevitability of our world being little more than cascading green code. Recent papers have built on the original hypothesis to further refine the statistical bounds of the hypothesis, arguing that the chance that we live in a simulation may be 50–50.” – from “Confirmed! We Live in a Simulation” in Scientific American

The Matrix Poster.jpgMy first question is this: “Whose computer is it?”

And then, I want to know if they’re running Windows 1.0, Windows 95, or Windows ME.

I haven’t read whether or not accepting the validity of this sumulation is a red pill/blue bill matter. I’d probably take the red pill if I got to have dinner with Trinity.

Then, too, I like the idea of downloading whatever information I need to do whatever I want to do as–in the movie–suddenly have the skills to fly a helicopter.

Perhaps the red pill will prove that the idea of a computer simulation world is just an illusion or, if it isn’t, that the whole shebang is running on Jerry Seinfeld’s computer. Or, worse yet, on Steven Wright’s computer.

I’ve always believed that seeing isn’t believing, that things are not what they seem to be. So, I have my doubts about the idea that everything is machine code or assembly language running on a Fugaku compter hidden in a nondescript barn in Peoria.

If it is, heaven help us if somebody accidentally hits crtl/alt/del.

I think the best we can do at this point is continue to live our lives as though we’re real and never say anything nasty about Jerry Seinfeld or Steven Wright.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat.”

Good electricity or bad electricity?

When a bricks-and-mortar (“real life”) friend or an online friend buys an electric car and leans on me to go and do likewise because that’s good for the environment, I tend to skip the usual questions such as how far can you drive, how fast can you drive, and do you have to map out the locations of charging stations before you go anywhere?

Mustang Mach-E

Since I’m “supposed to buy” an electric car to “do my part” in reducing climate change, my first question is “are you charging up what car with good electicity or bad electricity?”

“But electricity is neutral,” they say. “It has no agenda.”

“Okay,” I respond, “but if I’m to help fight climate change with my electric car, I’m not making much of a dent in the problem if my–let’s call it ‘bad’–electricity comes from fossil fuels, right?”

Some people look like deer in the headlights. “I hope that’s not where my power comes from?”

“Odds are, it is. Look at these statistics: 60% of our electricity comes from fossil fuels, that is, petroleum, coal, and natural gas.”

“I thought we were going better,” they say.

“We are, but not better enough. Do you have solar panels on the roof of your house?”

“No.”

“They might help reduce the amount of bad electricity,” I say.

“They would. Maybe I’ll do that some day.”

I have these conversations all the time when new owners of electric cars suddenly become disciples even though they were driving a gas-hog car the day they saw the light and went all electric, car-wise.  Maybe we need cars with solar panels. Until then, I’m going to want to know where that electricity is coming from.

Malcolm

Lena (Florida Folk Magic Stories Book 3) by [Malcolm R. Campbell]Malcolm R. Campbell writes fantasies, magical realism, satire, and realism though he’s never sure which is which.

When the pharmacy loses a prescription

The stranglehold doctors and pharmacies and the feds have on prescription drug is always hard to navigate through, much less cope with.

My wife had three refils on a prescription. After getting two of them, the pharmacy says there isn’t another one. The doctor says there is. Making matters worse, the pharmacy has lost the original paper. They won’t budge.

Rx Symbol Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | ShutterstockOur only hope is that the doctor will call in a new scrip. Meanwhile, the situation causes a lot of stress. My libertarian viewpoint is that we should be able to buy the drug without a prescription. First to avoid the hassle that occurs when things screw up. Second to get drugs available out of the control of big pharma and find a way to take bottles of pills that cost pennies to make away from those who charge thousands for a handful of pills.

The system is broken in so many ways. But, the fix is a political football. Meanwhile, a lot of people are hurting.

–Malcolm

I’m tired of springing forward and falling back

If I were king of the United States, I’d get rid of daylight savings time and mandate standard time for everyone all year. I’m trying to sail against the wind on this, I know, as more states are shifting to permanent daylight savings time.

I guess that means people are more willing to put up with dark mornings than dark afternoons.

Every darn thing in the house has a clock on it. Other than the phone and the TV, that means wasting a  lot of time changing everything forward and back. As for the car, forget it since (on our cars) there’s no “set clock” function, so we have to push various unrelated buttons on the radio to change the time.

I know some of you are thinking that time is an illusion anyway, so who cares? A lot of people care, apparently, since DST is apparently more popular than standard time.  I guess if we actually left our houses for after-work shopping, we’d want that “extra” daylight to be after work. But, we’re all shopping online these days, so we don’t need more after-hours sunshine.

Since more people are quitting their jobs these days, they can go shopping whenever they want.

And, no matter what time we’re using, most people are late anyway.

Life would be much easier if we embraced the darkness.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of novels based on magic.

In the old days. . .

. . .we said we were killing commies for Christ because in many ways we were. Before that  we were killing heathens for Christ and now I suppose we’re killing Jihadists for Christ.

Dark sarcasm summed up the way many of us felt when the “Killing Commies” phrase was popular, though just as politically incorrect as it is now.

In reality, it’s easier to fund and justify war if you don’t mention that you’re killing people. It’s also easier if you leave Christ out of it since He was never really in it in spite of what some people thought.

Around the world, bloggers are blogging for peace today. I didn’t sign up at blog4peace so this is an unauthorized post.

Peace comes from within, I think. That’s where it starts. You have to feel it and know in your heart and soul that war (or killing anyone for any reason) is a violation of universal tenets. War comes from the ego’s fear. Peace comes from the soul’s love.

I really don’t know any other way to say it.

Malcolm

We lost the brief love and unity our nation felt on 9/12/2001

Wikipedia

The days that followed, much like the days after Kennedy’s assassination, were days of communal grief and processing. Let it be noted – it is important that this be noted – that in those first days after the attack, unlike the ugliness of the military misadventures that have come to mark America’s official response to that day over the last twenty years, the people of the United States were beautiful. In our heartbreak and horror people were vulnerable, actually, and open. – Marianne Williamson

When a family experiences a tragedy, they draw together and support each other and console each other with love and compassion that they may feel uncomfortable displaying on normal days. So, too, a town wiped out by a flood or a tornado or a nation hit with a terrorist attack that takes nearly 3,000 lives.

Those feelings of national unity and concern for each other didn’t last. We lost our chance to keep that focus during the last 20 years. Now we find ourselves in a polarized nation where the default response to the smallest of things is often uncvilized hatred.

“Hey, there’s an old lady without a mask; let’s beat the shit out of her.”

“What do you mean I can’t come in your store without a mask? I’ll be back tonight to torch the dump, teach you a lesson you son of a bitch.”

I guess if one feels righteous enough, they can be immature.

Some of you will disagree, but I place a substantial amount of the blame for today’s polarization and uncivilized behavior at the foot of the U. S. Government. In my view, its response to 9/11 was about as inept as its response to leaving Afganistan. The so-called “Patriot acts” are an example. When a government spies on its own citizens, what kind of result should it expect? We can’t even get on an airplane without being searched. So much for probable cause.

The remains of our country’s once great news media have taken chaos and turned it into biased reporting, and that includes both CNN and Fox news. Both networks highlight divisiveness because it’s good for the ratings even thought it harms the country.

So today, while I will not forget 9/11, I also will not forget the unity and compassion of 9/12. We lost 3,000 innocent people on 9/11/2001 and then in the years that followed, we lost our national soul. Two paths diverged in a wood, and we took the low road, the one that’s killing everyone who survived 9/11. Today I wish we could, as a nation, look at how things anded up and resolve never to allow them to end up that way again.

I don’t think we will, but I can hope.

Malcolm

U. S. complicity in the brutal 1950 repression in South Korea

Lisa See has written a wonderful novel, The Island of Sea Women,  about the women who worked as haenyeo divers on South Korea’s Jeju Island during the 1930s and 1940s. The focus, in addition to the matriarchal-world of harvesting food from the seafloor, is on the long-term relationships between the women and their families during a very dangerous period on Korean history.

In 1950, there were brutal purges in South Korea by the U.S.-stalled government of Syngman Rhee against real and imagined communists in the south, including Jeju Island. Multiple villages were burnt, thousands of innocent people were brutally tortured and killed, all based on the lame excuse that a communist walking through the countryside proved everyone there was a potential sympathizer.

I found myself growing more and more angry about the complicity of the U.S. in these massacres as I got farther into the novel. See mentions in the afterword that Jeju citizens were forbidden from speaking about what happened for 50 years under pain of death.

The Americans, who occupied South Korea at the end of World War two classified anything having to do with the purges, the pictures of which look like something out of Nazi Germany. Our military could have and should have brought order to the land it governed. Instead, as General MacArthur claimed, the U.S. viewed the executions as an “internal matter” while local commanders surreptitiously cheered the brutal putdown of the left-wing uprisings, and even took pictures of the mass graves of innocents killed in the process.

To learn more, I suggest http://islandstudies.net/weis/weis_2016v06/v06n4-2.pdf, an author mentioned by See in the novel’s afterword.

As a grade school student, I saw news reports about the Korean War. What I did not see–since it would be classified for years–was any news about the South Korean president we installed killing his own people. Once again, we were cut off from the truth about what our country was doing, or in this case, not doing.

Lisa See has not only written another powerful novel that teaches us much about a culture far away but one that sheds light on another failure of our civilian and military leadership.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of magical realism and contemporary fantasy novels including “Conjure Woman’s Cat.”  We are especially happy with the highly praised narration of the audiobook.

Blog for Peace

Yesterday, bloggers around the country were blogging for peace. I should have done it, but I wasn’t feeling very peaceful as I watched the election returns and felt that the country wasn’t going to seem very peaceful no matter who was elected President.

I appreciated Marianne Williamson’s all-to-brief run for the Presidency, not because I thought she had a chance of winning, but because she was disseminating a different message, one of hope and the ever-available possibility of transformation. Her candidacy reminded me somewhat of that of Eugene McCarthy years ago in which he said his goal was more in getting a message out than expecting to win.

I feel these days that Americans are a huge dysfunctional family that can’t quite stop the squabbling long enough to work together. If I had some magic words that would convince everyone to pull back from their most antagonistic stances, I would have blogged for peace. 

Seems to me, no one is listening. Half of the memes I see on Facebook are wrong because those who posted them only care about one side of the story. I’m more of a moderate than those screaming on Facebook, so after finding no common ground with the most volatile posters and groups, I’m at a loss to find anything to say that matters.

Today’s political reality seems forever on the verge of a mog waiting to happen. Yesterday people were squabbling about the Fox News’ call that Biden won Arizona. The mob didn’t seem to realize that Fox News’ decision desk isn’t running the election. I have to idea how to talk to people who have no clue how stuff works.

I should have blogged for peace, but sometimes it just doesn’t seem worth the effort when everyone seems geared up for a fight.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of two contemporary fantasies, “The Sun Singer” and “Sarabande.”

What You Need To Know About QAnon 

QAnon is the umbrella term for a sprawling spiderweb of right-wing internet conspiracy theories with antisemitic and anti-LGBTQ elements that falsely claim the world is run by a secret cabal of pedophiles who worship Satan and are plotting against President Trump. Though some influential individuals are active in the movement, it is not an organized group with defined leadership.

Source: What You Need To Know About QAnon | Southern Poverty Law Center

Americans–or perhaps certain elements of the media–have been running amok looking for conspiracies beneath every rock and under the woodwork of everything building.  This reminds me of the McCarthyism of the 1950s when the House Unamerican Activities Committee “saw” communists everywhere.

At the time, when the committee said so and so is a communist, my response was “so what?” But in those days, communists were presumed to be working for the Soviet Union and were often blacklisted (most famously by Hollywood) by their employers.

The blacklisting is happening again. The daily news brings us reports that various people have been fired for expressing their personal opinions on Facebook as though they’re part of a conspiracy, in college lectures, in speeches, in books, and when this happens we’re all reminded that the First Amendment doesn’t protect us where we work–or on Twitter and Facebook as it turns out.

These days, if somebody “screams I’m offended,” my response is “so what?” But corporations, including colleges, are often influenced by those who are offended more than by who’s right.

This article tells us what’s behind all the shouting.

–Malcolm