Sunday, January 31, 2010

God Damned Christians

Don't get me wrong.
I'm not damning Christians.
This is just what they believe.

Remember original sin? Original Sin... That's right. Christians believe that they were born damned by God – because Adam and Eve didn't do what they were told.

Can you imagine what that must do to their collective psyche?

I can only imagine the pressure of believing that you're already destined for HELL... unless you do exactly as you're told... and then you only might be forgiven.

I can only imagine being told: You're not worthy. You were born not worthy. Start groveling now, you worthless piece of humanity. (And furthermore, anyone who believes otherwise is even more worthless.)

The psychological impact on a culture has to be hugely intimidating and repressive (which would likely lead to the intimidation and repression of others). Every facet of Christians' perception of reality must be effected in a way that pressures them to conform to the culture of the Christian power elite.

You better watch out.

You better not cry.

You better not pout.

I'm telling you why.

Jesus Christ is coming to town.


He sees you when you're sleeping.

He knows you when you're awake.

He knows if you've been bad or good.

So, be good for goodness sake!

(Actually that last line isn't really applicable. Christians aren't really being asked to be good for goodness sake. They're being told to be good – or they're going to HELL!)

They want you to be afraid, very afraid – so that you won't speak up. But speaking out is the first step towards improving our society. We live in a culture that effectively stifles dialog that might lead to innovation and change for the better.

I'm sure that some academic by now has asked the question; what does this fearful attitude do to a culture? If you know of their conclusions, please leave a comment. But for now, I'll just hypothesize.

I am somewhat of a Christian myself; because I was raised in a Christian culture. I don't go to church. But I have been to a few. Personally, I didn't like how they were organized. I didn't like how we all had to sit there and listen attentively to some guy tell us how to live our lives. I believe that if there is a God/Creator, it gave us all our own individual minds – so that we can think for ourselves.

Not that Christian church “leaders” actually have that much power. History has shown that they don't. We always have the power to go to a different church – or not go at all. And if that starts to happen, those Christian church “leaders” had better change their sermons, quick, or their church will go extinct.

For centuries now, we have witnessed Christian belief systems evolve. As our technologies have changed, as our communities have consequently changed, and as our political systems have adapted; so have our cultures and our belief systems.

Sometimes, our societies have changed for the better because of Christian beliefs. The abolition of slavery in the U.S. was primarily driven by Christians.

However, when Christians and the political elite get together, the results have usually been disastrous – such as during the Inquisitions.

My point is simple. We live in a very dynamic culture that is driven by numerous desires and restrictions. Even our religions are constantly changing. (Just a generation ago, there were no mega-churches.)

So; what is the point of claiming absolute knowledge of right and wrong – and scaring the bejesus out of people into doing as they are told?


Quite obviously, no human organization is above reproach. If you involve people, there will be corruption. If there is power to be taken, there will be those willing to lie to take that power. And the temptation to get even more power, wealth, and influence can drive even Christian “leaders” to ally themselves with the scheming demons within our society.

The unholy alliance between the Christian right wingers and the corporate oligarchy is the most dangerous example in our present society of making deals with the devil to grab political power - and stifle change for the better. The ultimate risk of this to Christians is that our society could easily slip into a form of violent, oppressive fascism that perverts the true message of Christianity.

And what is the true message of Christianity? Don't ask me. Ask Jesus.

The Bible, of course, quotes Jesus saying a lot of things. It would be nice to know what Jesus considered the most important. But we do know. Even in Jesus' case; actions speak louder than words. What was Jesus willing to die for?

The one thing we all know that was of utmost importance to Jesus Christ was his attitude about the “money changers.” Ultimately, his comments regarding the “money changers” got him crucified.

It appears that in Jesus' eyes; “selling out” was the most important wrong an ordinary person could commit.

So, if Jesus did come back and saw so many Christian “leaders” obsessed with money and power; what do we think he would say? If Jesus were to see the televangelists preaching power, money, control, and hate; my guess is that he would be just as unhappy as he was at the money changers - probably more so.

But not all Christianity looks like the greedy, self-righteous, power-hungry people we see in front of the cameras. In fact, I beleive most Christians are not like that. These are the people who are a force for good within the churches. And like Jesus, they need to speak up, even if there is a risk.

I have been very impressed that some churches are becoming more environmentally aware. It is my hope that living sustainably will become a Christian priority. It only makes sense:

If there is a Heaven, our odds are pretty slim of being welcome there if we ruin the world we have domain over now.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Empire Strikes Back

Three Strikes:

Strike 1. The “Supreme” Court has shown us again why Congress fights so bitterly over “Supreme” Court Justice appointments. Think about it. Congress isn't arguing over who has the best credentials, the most honest judgments, nor the least bias. No. It just sounds like that. What our “leaders” really want is what their benefactors want. Which, of course, makes their benefactors the true leaders of our nation. And now it will be worse.

The “Supreme” Court just handed down a 5-4 decision that big money can spend even more on manipulating our minds during elections. This is a major setback in efforts to limit money in American politics.

This isn't about freedom of speech. This is about “freedom” to manipulate.

This will likely be a serious setback in our collective efforts to fix things. It doesn't have to be. But as long as Americans are so damn gullible, propaganda will succeed.

...And do you think the mass media is upset about this? Oh sure, all the way to the bank. We're talking windfall profits here for the mass media. The really big money can now vie for ad time – and of course, even further manipulate what you know.

(One more thing; Justice Sotamayor voted against this. It was those phony poser “conservative” judges who chose to radically change how we regulate our elections.)

Consider this:

The ratio of income of the rich to everyone else has been becoming greater every year since the 70s. If we let it, this trend will continue until there are only a few very rich and a lot of very poor Americans. The mechanism for this massive transfer of wealth is our manipulated economy – controlled by our manipulated elected officials and manipulated bureaucrats. Add to this; our manipulated “Supreme” Court. What's worse, if we continue to neglect this, things will only get worse and worse and worse.

We are only left with a couple of tough to accomplish options. But they are options we should have been pressing for all along. One option is to ratify an amendment to the Constitution to clean up elections. The other is to publicly fund campaigns. Now that these options are all we have left, we have the opportunity to focus on really fixing things... Or we could do what most of us have been doing my whole life; let them slowly take everything.

Strike 2. Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy's seat has been taken by a Republican claiming to be an Independent. He might actually be somewhat of an Independent, but don't expect the future Republican/Independents to be honest about it. It's now quite apparent; pretending to not really be a Republican is what it takes to win, and some Republicans will do anything (ANYTHING) to win.

Of course, we can't blame all this selling out on just Republicans. Democrats and Independents sell out to. Blue dog Democrats look to be especially susceptible to “contributions.” I guess everyone has their price.

Our elected representatives are capitalists. So much so, in fact, that they're up for sale themselves. But we're to blame for that. We've allowed an electoral system to continue to exist that we know is inherently considerably biased against honest politicians.

A candidate can't get elected in this country without taking campaign contributions from anyone who will give. Big campaign contributions, especially in the form of propaganda, cannot be passed on. Consequently, candidates cannot refuse what are in effect required bribes.

Moreover, manipulated decision making has been slowly designed into our electoral process. Which is why, in a State with a solid history of voting Democrat suddenly elects a Republican. People are vulnerable to massive campaign spending. (Of course, this isn't really news now, is it?)

On top of all that, Democratic Party momentum has faltered. America's broken system hasn't changed enough since the Democrats got a super-majority in Congress. A whole lot of potential Democratic voters stayed home in Massachusetts; impotently thinking that their vote doesn't count. Well... they're right. They're vote doesn't count much. But it does count some. And the powers that be just love it when those oppressed masses stay home and accept their pathetic fate.

A word of advice. VOTE! Help out with campaigns you can believe in. And remember, don't vote for the candidate with the most ads – especially if they are attack ads. (Somebody you shouldn't trust is likely paying for those attack ads – to manipulate your vote.)

Strike 3. The wireless communications industry wants to subvert net neutrality. This is the big one. The internet providers know that the future of the internet is wireless. They've been forced to put up with net neutrality on land lines. But they claim the wireless internet is different.

Hell yeah it's different. These are our airwaves. American airwaves are the property of the American people. And we want net neutrality!

This is not just a matter of money. This is a matter of being able to communicate. The collective intelligence of all of us on the internet just may be the greatest hope we have for dealing with the consequences of our actions of the past century.

Not that everything we did in the last century was wrong. It's just that everything has consequences. And it's time to pay the piper, unless we can figure out a new dance.

But figuring out how to deal with the worlds problems just doesn't seem to be all that important to the wireless industry. They want some of those windfall profits too. Hey, there's big money in drowning out the voices of those who won't pay for the privilege to be noticed. (read irony here)

Allow me to digress. Net neutrality on wireless networks is NOT a privilege! These are our airwaves! And we are the customers. Isn't the customer always right? Net neutrality is what makes the internet so special. It is a privilege for the wireless providers to get our business. Not the other way around.

A government is supposed to be on the side of the citizens. Federal regulators have no right to allow the degradation of the internet so that they can get a high-paying job later with the company they once made rulings over.

You never know. Federal regulators may not cave in – this time. They haven't so far. But we can expect that the internet providers will keep pushing and pushing – hundreds of times, if that's what it takes. We need to stay ever diligent.

If ever we are going to fix this inevitably collapsing mess, we'll need to communicate without restrictions.

Net neutrality is what freedom looks like.

Allowing big corporations to profit in any way they want is not.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Who Tells You What To Think About?

I was switching channels between the news programs today and all the reporters kept asking; when will the economy be recovering? I suddenly realized at that point that they were all asking the wrong question...

It's crazy to be asking when things will return to the way once they were. Time only travels in one direction. We can't go back.

What the reporters need to be asking is; what is being done to create the new economy?

We're thinking about this all wrong. We're waiting for our “leaders” to fix things. They can help immensely, but that's not really how things get fixed. The new economy will be created by us – which is essentially how the new economies always have been created.

Imagine what our nation might achieve if all the 300 million people in this country decided to be truly creative (in a constructive way). Sure, there would be a lot of chaos – most of our ideas wouldn't work very well. But if we all took it upon ourselves to fix this mess we've allowed to happen, some of us would find ways – and quite possibly, the new economy could be stronger than anything in history.

So, why do we keep sitting on our couch, waiting for the economy to get better for us?

I believe it's because that's what we've been trained to do. Remember, no reporters have been asking what you are doing to create the new economy... So...What are you doing?

...Even if all you do is to decide to spend your money differently, you have made an enormous difference.


Capitalism creates a culture that tells you what to want.

Democracy is a system that requires you to tell them what you want.

There are those who don't want us to think for ourselves. They want us to be dependent upon them. Because as long as we need them, they can drain us of our wealth. And I'm not just talking about money here. I'm talking about our society. I'm talking about our natural wealth. I'm talking about our ability to create wealth.

I'm talking about Americans submitting to a “group think,” empowered by collective propaganda, that has systematically amplified our worst behavior.

We have the capacity to create a new, healthy economy based upon our strengths, not our weaknesses.

...And let's face it. Our present economy is based upon our weaknesses.

  • Advertisers don't want you to be happy. They want to make you unhappy so that you will give them money for them to make you happy.

  • Advertisers don't want you to be independent. They want you to be dependent upon them.

  • Advertisers don't want you to think. They want you to do what they say.

  • And most importantly, advertisers don't want you to create a better world. Because if you did that, you might not need them.

It's time to think for ourselves and create a better world.

I'm not a communist. I don't hate capitalism. I spent ten years of my life getting irradiated for this country during the Cold War. Personally, I don't think it was that big of a deal, but I do believe that I have contributed something towards the right to speak up.

I believe capitalism should not be used as an excuse for immoral behavior. And I believe that, for quite some time now, criminals posing as capitalists have broken into – and dismembered our democratic republic. I also believe they hope to convince us that it's a bad idea to fix things, even if they have to lie constantly - and distract us at every opportunity.

In the long run, this isn't going to be good for anyone.

No system can function without reasonable boundaries and limits to behavior.

No system can function without the ability to adapt quickly to change.

No system that devours itself will continue to function for long.

We need to create a new economy. And to do that, we need to consider all the tools we have at hand. The powers that be won't do this for us. But in a democratic republic, we are supposed to be the powers that be.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Why Build Clean Nukes When We'll Pay Them To Build Dirty Ones?

...same design constraints...

Does anyone remember the 6000 SUX from the science fiction movie Robocop? That's right, the futuristic car from an American corporation that was just the same old tired design with a new paint job – and lots of promotion.

Here it is over 20 years after this prophetic movie was made and guess what? Most of us are still driving the equivalent of the 6000 SUX... It was predictable – and not just with cars.

Have you ever stopped to realize that big established industries don't like change? Sure, they'll change to save a buck – even if it means the product will fall apart in half the time. But real innovation, real product improvement, is seen as an inconvenience to established manufacturers, and an impediment to profits – especially if there is no competition pushing them.

Sadly, that's exactly where we're at with the American nuclear industry. They've spent a lot of money on public relations to sell us on a product that hasn't really changed significantly in 50 years. (They're now promising us passive controls against reactor meltdown instead of active controls. Important, but only significant if you ignore all of nuclear power's other pitfalls.)

Just like the auto industry; the nuclear industry touts all the insignificant changes they've made as major improvements – while pretending that true major improvements are only possible in the far distant future. Oh yeah, and all the while manipulating the government to make it as difficult as possible for any competing industry to grow.

We've seen this repression of competition with the wind energy industry. In the 70's, the U.S. had a significant lead in wind technology over the rest of the world. Now, we have to buy our wind generators for big windmill fields from some other country. Ironically, American companies initially developed wind generation technology. But they were financially held back, many were run out of business, and now we've lost our lead.

How was it done? With subsidies. Our tax dollars were used to help the wind industry's competition (coal, etc.) more than they helped the wind industry. Though expensive (for taxpayers), it was a rather ingenious way for politicians to claim they were helping alternative power generation – while helping their competition orders of magnitude more.

You see; it was cheaper and more profitable at the time for energy companies to manipulate the U.S. market than innovate and develop safer and cleaner alternatives. Hence, we now have the power generation equivalents of the 6000SUX – while foreign companies have leapfrogged us in renewable energy. What the hell happened? Simply, nobody with authority in America thought long-term.

In America; electricity is a commodity. One watt is pretty much the same to most customers as the next. So, the primary driving force is to make that watt as cheaply as possible.

We see this at places like New Jersey's Oyster Creek nuclear power plant. The plant's owner, Exelon Corp., won't build cooling towers (to prevent killing of nearby marine life) unless they are forced to by law. And they'll most likely pay good money to influence politicians to see that the law never gets written. Effectively, killing marine life never really plays into the financial equation for them.

In a world where all that matters is money, this makes financial sense. But we don't really live in that world. So it's time to give these companies more to think about. It's time to adjust the bottom line in such a way that they do the right things.

Alert: The worst thing we can do now is give the nuclear industry more money to keep doing the wrong things. In 2005, Congress authorized $18.5 billion for nuclear reactor loan guarantees. It would be the biggest mistake in the history of U.S. nuclear energy to follow through on these subsidies. We should instead use the money to develop what we really want; truly clean and safe nuclear power – without uranium. And it is very likely that this can be done.

From the 50's to the 70's, U.S. scientists developed the technology for far less dangerous thorium reactors. However, the designs never gained favor of the U.S. government because the military/industrial complex was more interested in making nuclear weapons. I guess it sort of makes sense. It was the Cold War. Hence, uranium nuclear reactors got government support.

But now, we're finally more interested in generating clean power at nuclear power plants. So, why not use that $18.5 billion to develop significantly better reactor technology?

A WIRED article, Uranium Is So Last Century, reports that thorium reactors are potentially cheaper, safer, more efficient, and don't leave us with high-level nuclear waste to deal with. Wow! That's really significant. So, why hasn't the nuclear industry jumped on this opportunity? I'll tell you why. Because they can't afford to.

Nobody in the nuclear industry wants to pay to design a new reactor with significantly better technology. OK... I guess that's why we have big Federal science projects. I can deal with that. Let's use our tax money to develop thorium reactors. And let the nuclear industry wait for significantly better designs.

Right now, other countries are dedicating quite a bit of effort on thorium reactors. Yet where is our money headed? For subsidies to a backward industry?

Just like back in the 70's, American politicians want to subsidize the competition to innovation. In the end, at that rate, the American nuclear industry will have antiquated nuclear reactor technology – and other countries will have leap-frogged us in thorium reactors (which American scientists, financed by taxpayer dollars, initially developed).

We're betting on a loser – because they've convinced us that they are the only game in town. The uranium team is not the only game in town.

The greatest weakness of a capitalist democracy is that it gets mired in its own successes – and cannot grow functionally.

But we can learn.

Please...Write the White house.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Nobody Wants A Dirty Nukie

Just last week, a nuclear power plant in Ontario accidentally spilled 210,000 liters of tritium into Lake Ontario. That's enough tritium to fill more than two Olympic-size swimming pools. However, nuclear industry officials say that's OK. The spilled tritium was only 0.1 percent of allowable monthly releases.


Canada allows each nuclear power plant to release the equivalent of 2,000 Olympic-size swimming pools of Tritium per month? I didn't believe it. But this is not the only report I've found.

Hey, it isn't a coincidence that Canada just happens to be the world's biggest exporter of uranium. Paul McKay, a Canadian journalist who has won Canada's highest awards for business writing and investigative journalism; has written in his new book Atomic Accomplice “These exports generate $1 billion a year in Canadian cash flow – but bequeath to the world enough fissile material to make 5,000 nuclear warheads every year.”

Moreover, these accidental releases of tritium aren't just happening in Canada. Here's a report of a release happening just about the same time at Nine Mile Nuclear Facility - where they want to build another reactor (see map).

But things could be worse. In India, a fire at a nuclear lab just killed two people.

In Mubai, 3 people were arrested with 5 kilograms of “depleted” uranium. (Depleted uranium is still radioactive and poisonous.)

And in Germany, a University of Mainz study has concluded that German children under 5 years of age living within 5 kilometers of 16 nuclear reactors had a cancer rate 60% higher and a leukemia rate 100% higher than expected.

The verdict has been in for a long time. Nuclear power is dangerous – and will continue to be for hundreds of thousands of years.

I used to work within the nuclear industry – nuclear weapons that is. I used to work at the Nevada Test Site. I worked in containment. My job was to keep radioactive debris from escaping the ground, or at least the boundaries of the Nevada Test Site.

The one thing I learned in my decade of blowing up nuclear bombs was that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PERFECT CONTAINER. The radioactivity is going to get out. The best we could possibly hope for was to minimize the damage – and convince people that was good enough.

Video: Atomic Cafe

Yes, that's right. We've been systematically lied to about the safety of nuclear radiation for decades. But that's OK. The military/industrial complex made billions (and I got a paycheck for 10 years).

We can't just blame this all on a few corrupt executives and politicians. Hordes of us either want jobs in the industry, or want to keep our jobs - no matter the consequences. I saw it back when we stopped nuclear testing on my Native Homeland in Nevada. It was amazing. Almost to a man, all of the cold war employees cared more about keeping their jobs than irradiating America (and themselves). The inertia to keep doing the same thing (even if it is wrong), is huge.

Consider this: What if there were a better way to generate nuclear power that would cut out that billion dollars a year Canada gets for selling uranium? There may be. (See my next blog entry.) If so; do you think for one moment the companies (and employees) involved with mining, transporting, and utilizing uranium would support that new technology? ...Even if this new technology were far safer? Not for a moment. It would cut into their pay.

If you've got a dirty nukie, other people with clean nukies will run you out of business.

This is what the status quo is all about:

If it's still making you money, don't fix it.

This attitude is a sure sign that an industry is on its last feeble leg – or the nation's economy that supports this industry is about to collapse. Eventually, either competitors will develop an industry that races by, or the whole system will collapse of its own weight.

But does the nuclear power industry care? Sure they do. They see an opportunity for a quick multi-billion dollar profit. F*<# the future. Or apparently, in their minds, people of the future will be so technologically advanced, there won't be a problem we create that they won't be able to fix. (Just who are they kidding?)

The nuclear industry is so stuck in the days of the “peaceful atom” that they ignore the obvious. Competitors have already invented the technologies that will trivialize them.

But like all marginalized industries, they're not about to go without a fight. Even if it is obvious they are in the wrong... Hey, they just want things to be the way they used to be.

For instance, the magazine Power Engineering (in the article Executive Roundtable on New Nuclear) quotes nuclear industry executives trying their best to ignore the enormous nuclear waste issue they intend to make worse:

Q: Is Yucca Mountain really off the table? If so, where should we go from here?

James Miller (Southern Nuclear Operating): The spent fuel issue is not a barrier to the nuclear renaissance.

George Vanderheyden (Unistar Nuclear Energy): I'll simply tell you, I don't know... It is not a technological issue, it's not a safety issue... Our country just hasn't made the decision.

Michael Kansler (Enrergy Nuclear): I wouldn't call Yucca Mountain 100 percent off the table... it just means that they are going to look at it again.

Bryan Dolan (Duke Energy): We think a public corporation should assume responsibility for used fuel management; something that can operate outside the politics of an organization like the Department of Energy.

Steve Winn (Nuclear Innovation North America): It's not something that factors into the decision on whether to build the plant or not.”

This is cold, calculated ignorance. And they hope we'll buy it. In fact they hope we'll pay for it.

In the same article:

Q: How important is getting a Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantee?

Miller: We feel strongly that the DOE loan guarantees are helpful to America...

Vanderheyden: Federal loan guarantees are absolutely critical to our proposed new project...

Kansler: would be nice to have some partners to share in some of that financial risk.

Winn: I think it's critical.”

In other words, if we left this up to the free market, the nuclear industry would be finished.