Ideology is a Mind Killer

Ideology is a Mind Killer

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Your Brain on Hashtags

By Mel Carriere

This is your brain.

This is your brain on hashtags.

I think most of us are old enough to remember that old anti-drug message from the late 80s, when the word hashtag had not made it into common usage yet.  It was only last year, in fact, that the term hashtag found its way into the Oxford English Dictionary.  So why does my spell checker keep underlining it?  If hashtag is good enough for Oxford I think it's a little presumptuous of the spell checker to keep telling me it's not a word.

Bit even though the original campaign associated with the above slogan had nothing to do with hashtags, the effect on mental performance is essentially the same.  Even if people are not dulling their brains with drugs, they can certainly dull their thought processes with hashtags, and extensive hashtag use may even be worse.  I mean, you can come down from drugs and still function on the job and in society, but once you get started with hashtags it's really hard to get your brain back to where it can work on its own.

This dude you see above was having a real problem thinking for himself, and after his doctor sent him in for an MRI they found out he had an enormous hashtag lodged in his cerebral cortex.  They also diagnosed him with an inoperable case of "Twitter Finger," a condition in which the index finger gets whittled down to a pencil-like point by repeated punching of the tiny "favorite" and "retweet" icons.  The doctors said that if this poor sap had reported the problem earlier they might have been able to cut out the hashtag before it got serious, but as it was it metastasized and invaded his entire brain.  Now he can't even go to the bathroom without someone hashtagging him through it.

If you've been on Twitter long enough, you know that people don't even use real words in their 140 character thoughts anymore, they simply attach whatever hashtags may be acceptable to whatever circle of friends they run with or whatever ideology they have attached themselves to.  Ideology is a wonderful thing because it relieves one of the responsibility of coming up with a uniquely individual personal philosophy, which requires far too much time for quiet contemplation.  Nobody has time to contemplate anything these days when there are all these intoxicating, hypnotizing, tantalizing, mesmerizing screens everywhere to distract our attention.

Hashtags have made the world even better because brainwashing yourself with someone else's ideology doesn't even require one to memorize any lengthy, dull, formulaic maxims, like in your mother and father's day.  All you need is to remember the appropriate handful of hashtags and you are good to go.  Actually, you don't even need to memorize the hashtags if you don't want to.  Just keep them stored in the memo pad on your phone and you can copy-paste from there, like I do.

If you run with the lefties you can pull out hashtags like #UniteBlue, #NetNeutrality, or #StopRush, and you are guaranteed immediate acceptance without ever having to enunciate a complete sentence on your own.  On the other hand, if your buddies sit across the aisle with the older, stodgier old money types, or are only over there because they are sucking up to get good jobs after graduation, hashtags like #ocra, #Benghazi and #BlameObama can get you some really good tee times at places where a working stiff like you has no place being.

Just remember not to try and make up your own hashtags.  Not only is this considered unorthodox, schismatic behavior that does not conform to the strict dictates of doctrinal purity of whatever ideology suits your fancy, but there is absolutely no need to vex your tired brain in this fashion.  Somewhere up in the cloud there is a great hashtag-making thinking machine to do this for you, and if you're lucky like the guy in the picture up there, and let's face he really is the lucky one because he really gets it, sooner or later the hashtags will dull your senses into oblivion and you'll have plenty of time for other things.

Image is from, with a little tweak by me.

The combustible mixture used in The Truth Bomb includes a generous portion of java from Starbucks and other corporate coffee conglomerates, and none of this is cheap.  Therefore, unless the ads to the right and above complete annoy and offend you, please investigate what my sponsors have to say.  

Friday, February 20, 2015

Bully for Labor! - Why Can't Labor Negotiate its Own Price?

By Mel Carriere

The Truth Bomb has taken a sabbatical for a little over two weeks now, and I apologize to anyone who has been following this blog in earnest.  It's not exactly like I've been taking a break from writing, it's just that there hasn't been any subject that has sparked my outrage enough to rant about it here on these pages.  This is my personal soapbox where I vent my spleen about political and social topics, but my spleen hasn't been bursting with indignation lately so there hasn't been a need to pop a writing catheter into it.

But three days ago my spleen started to look a little bit red and puffy again when I saw a Facebook post featuring a quote by Theodore Roosevelt, a former Republican President of the United States who was also, peculiarly enough by 2015 standards, a Progressive thinker.  Roosevelt caused a division within the GOP ranks in 1912 when he split with the Republicans and became the candidate of the short-lived "Bull Moose (Progressive)" party.  Along with its declaration of war on the "unholy alliance" between corrupt business and corrupt politics, the Progressive Party proposed such things workers take for granted today, such as minimum wage laws, an 8 hour workday, workmen's compensation, and limited injunctions in strikes.  Progressive thinkers today typically carry along a vial of holy water to protect themselves from spiritual contamination caused by anyone labeled with the demonic GOP tag, but at one time in this country there actually were open-minded Republicans who were fighting for the little guy and not trying to push back the clock on labor standards, as they do today.

So that's a brief synopsis of the importance of Theodore Roosevelt in history, and the Facebook post I saw about the good old rough riding Bull Moose said this:

It is essential that there should be organization of LABOR.  Capital organizes and therefore labor MUST ORGANIZE.

I'll be honest in saying that I don't know where this quote comes from.  I don't know when and where Teddy Roosevelt said it, or even if he said it at all.  Just because it's on the Internet doesn't necessarily make it real.  But the reason the quote attracted my attention is because it conforms to my own thoughts on the right of working people to organize and negotiate the price that employers pay for their services.

Labor is an essential component of the production process.  Raw materials are an essential component.  Factories, machine tools and computers are essential components, as is financial capital.

For some reason, however, economic philosophers of a conservative inclination accept the right of all these components of the production process to negotiate their own prices, except for labor.

The mine owner driving a load of iron ore to the back dock of the smelter is considered quite within his rights if he haggles over the price of that ore, or withholds it for a better price.  The industrialist providing the machinery to that factory would be called a fool if he didn't try to get the best price he could for his products.  The banker making a loan to the smelter to finance increased production is not looked at askance if he tries to get the best interest rates he can on that loan.

But for some outrageously inexplicable and unfair reason, collective bargaining by workers to get the highest price they can negotiate for their labor is met with outrage.  Union activity is looked upon by a significant portion of the American public these days as sketchy, immoral, even borderline illegal.

Furthermore, it is the working people who would benefit most from Unions who have the greatest complicity in causing their dangerous decline.  We have cut our own throats, in other words, by allowing the propaganda machine of Corporate America to plant this insidious, anti-Union worm into the minds of the voters, who are overwhelmingly workers.

We refer to many of our more affluent employers as the 1 percenters.  By extension, therefore, we are the 99 percenters.  99 percent of the vote beats 1 percent even in a Saddam Hussein sponsored election, so why do we continue to elect politicians who act contrary to our interests?  Why do we continue to allow ourselves to be brainwashed with this bogus "trickle down" theory of economics,which insists that if we leave the greedy billionaires to their own devices the accumulated wealth of these tycoons will spill over and come pouring down to the rest of us, to our great prosperity and happiness.

Today I heard a news items on the radio where Wal Mart was patting itself on the back for giving its workers a raise to 9 dollars an hour.  This isn't trickle down; this is a clogged pipe from which only an occasional drop of rusty, tainted, undrinkable water makes its way down to the thirsty masses below.  Wal Mart's move is a joke and an insult.  The corporation hiding behind the slick smiley face mask is saying to its workers  that they aren't even as good as animals.  The six Wal-Mart Waltons on the Forbes list of billionaires have a net worth of 144.7 billion.  None of that wealth would be possible except for those wage slave workers who toil away toward the ultimate comfort of the Waltons every day, and in gratitude from their magnanimous employer continue to live below the poverty line.

My favorite author and fellow Californian John Steinbeck said that the poor in America "...see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires."  Therein lies the problem.

We've allowed this to happen to ourselves, my friends.  Business cannot function without us.  We've got to start organizing again  and get the bigger piece of the pie that we deserve.  "Trickle down" was a corporate lie that Ronald Reagan force fed down our throats.  Let's take a lesson from the much wiser Republican Theodore Roosevelt who said that not only is it a good idea that labor should organize, but that it is essential.  He said, in fact, that we MUST organize.

If one of the rich fat cats is letting us in on one of the secrets, I think we should pay attention.

Image attributed to:  "T Roosevelt" by Pach Brothers (photography studio) - This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3f06209.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information.العربية | čeština | Deutsch | English | español | فارسی | suomi | français | magyar | italiano | македонски | മലയാളം | Nederlands | polski | português | русский | slovenčina | slovenščina | Türkçe | 中文 | 中文(简体)‎ | 中文(繁體)‎ | +/−. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

The combustible mixture used in The Truth Bomb includes a generous portion of java from Starbucks and other corporate coffee conglomerates, and none of this is cheap.  Therefore, unless the ads to the right and above complete annoy and offend you, please investigate what my sponsors have to say.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

I Hated Wind Farms, When Hating Wind Farms Wasn't Cool

By Mel Carriere

Oh Barbara Mandrell where are you now?  Even though I didn't like country music even a little bit when she was popular in the 80s, I had late adolescent fantasies about that woman that have absolutely nothing to do with this article except for the title of one of her most popular songs, which I have absconded with and reworked to serve as the title for this blog post.  She still looks lovely thirty years later, by the way.

I received a message via Twitter just a few moments ago, and after a frustrating day of scanning through current news items trying to find a topic I felt passionate enough to write about for THE TRUTH BOMB, this tweet finally piqued my interest enough to get my butt in front of the computer to hack out a few lines.

The tweet, from a Twitter account called "Stop These Things" (meaning, I presume Wind Farms, and not adolescent fantasies, which I still suffer from at the age of 51), read as follows:

"Intermittent wind energy kills birds, bats, doesn't reduce CO2, increases power prices & causes deep community chaos..."

I believe the part about the birds and the bats, and since I am a passionate defender of both of these creatures I'll go along with that.  The other parts I am not certain about, especially the deep community chaos, which seems like a bit of hyperbole, but I will go along with the program of "stopping these things" just to save the birds and the bats.

The point I am trying to make is that I didn't need this tweet, or any of the rising tide of tweets, blogs, editorials, sound bites, or even the resulting deep community chaos to make me dislike the wind farms.  I disliked them from the very beginning, when disliking wind farms wasn't even cool, like it is now.

I remember at one time Wind Farms were a very fashionable thing, de rigueur if you want to use a very snooty term for fashionability.  All the liberals were on board with wind energy when Obama breezed into office in 2008, and I remember Wind Farms and the so-called "renewable energy" they provide were a key component of his energy platform.

But I haven't liked these hulking, bladed monstrosities since I first saw them somewhere around Livermore in the Bay Area of California.  This was back in the mid-90s, when my Barbara Mandrell fueled fantasies were a little fresher than they are now, and even then I didn't think they were cool.  At that time I wasn't the fan of birds as I am at present, but I still couldn't help but think, as I drove past dozens, maybe hundreds of the towering spinning blade machines, that they needed a modern day Don Quixote to tilt with them and bring these unsightly dragons down.  The problem from my point of view is that they took up so much damn space.  They were a blight on the landscape from horizon to horizon.  In plain talk, they were just ugly. Surely, I asked myself, that can't be an efficient way to crank out a few watts just to run the toaster and the television set?

Little by little I was vindicated in my view of the Wind Farms.  The ornithologists and their pals were the first ones to jump on board, when they made it known that those horrible white blades covering the hillsides killed raptors such as hawks when they attempted to perch on them.  Little by little the views of the naturalists gained steam and now the hard core libs at last are starting to backpedal away from the idea of Wind Farms.  The politicians aren't so vociferous about them anymore either.

Oops!  Too late guys.  Now you've set up these eyesores everywhere.  They've built a whole slew of them east of my town of San Diego, at a place called The Tecate Divide.  And as if the Wind Farms weren't bad enough, the Solar Farms have joined in with the fun of consuming acres upon acres of fragile desert ecosystem at very little bang for the buck.  Keep driving down that Interstate 8 from San Diego, past the Tecate Divide and eventually into Arizona, and sooner or later you will come across an enormous Solar Farm sitting on the left side of the road.  It looks impressive and very high tech, but now we are being told that these Solar Farms, in addition to providing renewable energy at an enormous investment in acreage, also fry birds to a crackly crunch as they try to fly past overhead.

Maybe one of the key components of renewable energy should be that if it takes up half the county to run your refrigerator it probably isn't any good.  But I could have told you that a couple of decades ago, before the evidence from the naturalists and the anthropologists investigating the phenomenon of windmill-induced "social chaos" came pouring in.  I knew it back when those wicked thoughts of Barbara Mandrell, playing the fiddle in that tight little sequined dress of hers, were still spinning the blades of my dirty little mind...

The above image is attributed to:  "Shepherds Flat Wind Farm 2011" by Steve Wilson from Orpington, UK - flickr: More Windmills....... Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -