Welfare Makes America More Entrepreneurial

Welfare Makes America More Entrepreneurial

The above link is to an Atlantic story that talks about how the social safety net actually increases the chances of taking the risk of being an entrepreneur.  The evidence presented in the article seems to back this idea up.  It personally seems like common sense to me.  A safety net is not meant to provide someone with a comfortable middle class existence.  It merely allows for survival in the face of economic hardship.  If one knows they can take a risk starting their own business without facing abject poverty, it seems to me they would be more willing to take that risk.

The Walking Dead in the Age of Anxiety

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The Walking Dead in the Age of Anxiety

The above article is an interesting read if you are fan of The Walking Dead, as I am.  It’s an article that tries to get at why the show has such a hold on the popular imagination.  It also examines the show, and zombie stories in general, for there political and cultural messages.

Ted Cruz Says Global Warming Alarmists the Equivalent of Flat-Earthers

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Ted Cruz Says Global Warming Alarmists the Equivalent of Flat-Earthers

Wizard Ted Cruz says that global warming alarmists are the equivalent of flat-earthers.  It would be easy to get angry about this, except we already know Cruz is saying this to whip people like myself into a frenzy all while appealing to his know-nothing base.  I feel pretty confident that people like Ted Cruz, as harmful as they are, are the exact kind of people that are going to doom the modern Republican Party and its anti-science brigade to the history books.  I’m scared about what damage they can do on the way down, but there is no doubt that Ted Cruz and his ilk represent the last gasp of a dying order.  People become extreme and rabid when they feel something slipping away forever.  Ted Cruz, even though he is appealing to the hoopleheads*, really represents unfettered corporate power combined with religious zealotry.  Fortunately for us, in a democracy even such power needs a base to support it and that base is mostly old and white on and on the outs.  What’s scary though is that we are running out of time to stave off the worst impacts of climate change.  So while Ted Cruz and those he represents will not be with us for long, they just might be able to do enough damage to doom the rest of us and the descendants of the human race for a long time to come.  So while I don’t think we need to worry much about Ted Cruz, I think those of us that care need to fight his ideas at every turn.

*Hooplehead: a member of the ignorant masses; an uneducated commoner; an idiot. word popularized by HBO’s Deadwood.

Why Are Americans More Afraid of Isis Than Climate Change?

Why Are Americans More Afraid of Isis Than Racism and Climate Change?

Earlier today I wrote about how the media often distorts what Americans should really be concerned about.  This is especially true when dealing with thetas that face the American people.  The above article gives a list of what Americans are afraid of.  In this country we are incredibly concerned about terrorism, which comes in at number three on the list, but not climate change, which comes in at last as things listed on this list.  What’s so absurd about this is that Americans had about one in 20 million chance of being killed by a terrorist in a study done in 2010.  Meanwhile everyone is going to be affected by climate change in some way.

Costa Rica Has Only Used Renewable Electricity This Year

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Costa Rica Has Only Used Renewable Electricity This Year

The above link is to an article about how Costa Rica, for their electricity, have only used renewable energy since the beginning of this year.  The country is currently meeting around 94% of it’s total energy needs from renewable.  Some of the reasons that they are able to do this are unique to Costa Rica.  However, this goes to show that there is no reason that the United States can’t do much more that we are currently doing, which is generating roughly 13% of our electricity from renewable sources.

The Axis of Stupidity

Today I was reading about Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s mind bending defense of banning gay marriage.  Being a Texas resident, I know that we are in for the long haul concerning this kind of idiocy.  Recently I also posted about Florida Governor Rick Scott’s insane banning of the terms global warming and climate change.  I am well versed on his idiocy as my girlfriend lived in Florida for ten years.  Rick Scott vs. whoever was the Governor of Texas has been a constant argument as to who lived in the state with the dumbest head politician.  We can’t very well leave out Scott Walker of Wisconsin either.  You can learn about him at the Scott Walker is a douchebag Facebook page.  I just decided this morning that these three, especially because they actually have some power on a national level, are our three worst governors.  I think we should start calling them The Axis of Stupidity.  Even if you find this grouping to be a little bit random, it’s really no more random than the Axis of Evil grouping.  So go forth into your day, I have now given you The Axis of Stupidity.  Enjoy…

Mass Death, Critical Thinking, and Media Distortion

There is a digital sign, very close to where I live, that lets the passerby know that 457 people have been killed on Texas roads this year.  That is 457 people killed on the roads in the state of Texas only, in just over three months of one year.  There were 2,877 victims during 911.  So roughly one sixth of all of the people that were killed as the result of 911 have been killed through traffic accidents in the state of Texas this year from January 1st to March 24th.

Yet, no one is particularly troubled by this, unless of course they have been some how touched by one of these accidents in a personal way.  Meanwhile when 911 happened we lost our collective shit, resulting in the invasion of a country that in no way was related to 911.  That invasion led to far more death and destruction than 911 did.  I am not saying 911 was not a horrible event.  I am not saying that no response was necessary.  I am only saying that if you compare the results of 911 to the results of what happen all the time, it didn’t warrant the kind of response that it created.  We did not need to change every law in the land, drop bombs on other people, etc.  We should have gone after the people directly responsible, mourned the dead in the way that we should mourn all people that have fallen before their time, and gotten back to business as usual.

I would imagine that most people would agree with this now, especially in concern with our ill advised adventure into Iraq.  So why am I bringing this up?  (And I’m even bringing it up again as I have touched upon this idea before.  I am constantly reminded of this idea from the sign that I see every time I leave my house to go out into greater Austin.)  Today over at Huffington Post the headline is about a plane crash in the Alps where right now 150 are feared dead.  This number is less than a third of all the people that have been killed in Texas highways this year, and it is far away, so the chance of us knowing someone that died is even less.  Yet, this is the HEADLINE at Huffington Post.  I can only imagine what cable news is going to do with a story like this.  I assume, and hopefully I’m wrong, but I doubt that I am, that cable news is going to have a fucking field day with it!

We live in a democracy.  To have a democracy that functions efficiently, it is important that the citizens of the democracy can assess what’s going on and make educated choices concerning problems.  Yet here in America, a sort of tabloid lizard brain runs the show in determining what is important to focus on.  That is if you take the view that things aren’t being actively manipulated to keep us afraid and in the dark.

When horrible events occur, which with news cameras in almost every part of the globe, they are going on consistently in some form or fashion on a daily basis, we must try to maintain some kind of perspective on things.  As citizens of the United States and as citizens of the greater world, what actually concerns us?  What is a tragedy and what is a threat?  Given that we as humans only have so much time in a day to devote to understanding the world around us, what is really important for us to know and what is not?  When is something blown out of proportion to where it actually prevents us from making wise decisions?  This does not meant that we should be callous to suffering.  It only means that we should not let suffering blind us into creating other suffering in the world.

The way that our news media operates actually causes us to be less informed, as we are overloaded with the horrific and the sensational.  Anytime a news story comes on one should ask, “Does this affect me and my life in anyway?  Does this increase the likelihood that I am going to make better decisions about the world?  If it does not, can I acknowledge that I am watching this for mere entertainment or escapism?”

I would prefer that all Americans quit watching TV news.  If they can’t, I would at least prefer that they limited the amount of time they spent viewing it.  TV news, even though I mentioned Huffington Post up above, is the worst at pumping up false threats, while ignoring real events that we should be learning about.  However, if one is not going to stop watching TV news, I think people should at least take the right set of tools with them, as they try to sort through the insanity of the day.

Critical thinking is more important than ever.  In a world full of information, it is those that understand how to interpret information that are going to stand the best of thriving in this world.  Unfortunately our schools are moving more towards standardized testing, more towards rewarding the unthinking worker bee.  These are the exact opposite of the skills that are truly needed in the modern world.