Czech Republic Form of Government: Ask the Giant Internet Brain (3/25/16)

Today in "Ask the Giant Internet Brain," I pose the question: What form of government did Czechoslovakia choose after rejecting Soviet style communism and becoming the Czech Republic (peacefully) in 1993 (splitting with Slovakia).

My hypothesis, based on nothing, was that that the Czechs would have fled far to the opposite extreme of communism, unregulated free market capitalism.

As it turns out though, when I asked the Giant Internet Brain, I had to reject that hypothesis. In fact, the Czech people seem to have collectively chosen a social democratic* parliamentary republic, not unlike that of the United States, as their favored form of government, with a two chambered legislative branch, an executive branch that reports to the legislature, and a judicial branch, as well as a progressive taxation system.

So much for uninformed guesses!

Today, the Czech Republic is ranked the 10th most peaceful country in the world by the people who rank such things, and its capital, Prague, has the lowest unemployment rate in the European Union (of which it is a member) - SOURCE. I visited and rode my bike around parts of Czech Republic in late 2013, and it is a fantastic country, historically vivid and with a low cost of living (based on my principle metric, the cost of a pub pint of beer in US dollar equivalents: ~$2.50).

* Side Note: Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is an avowed democratic socialist. In the next installment of "Ask the Giant Internet Brain," I'll pose the question: Is democratic socialism the same thing as social democracy? Of course, you could always go ask the Giant Internet Brain this question too, or any other question you may have. It will answer you, though you may have to check the accuracy of its sources.

This installment of the 2 Minute Reader is brought to you by: THE CZECH REPUBLIC.

RELATED LINK: Sanders says corporate media's 'conflicts of interest' hurt his campaign.

Harper Lee's "Go Set a Watchman" Negates Message of "Mockingbird"

OK, I read Harper Lee's "Go Set a Watchman." I wanted to see what all the hype was about.

It was a fast read, but I wish I hadn't read it. It's horrifying and pretty much nullifies the entire egalitarian moral message all school children are taught to believe in when they read Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird."

It takes place a few years after Mockingbird. A 26 year old Jeanne Louise "Scout" Finch returns to Maycomb AL from New York, where she resides. She discovers that her father, Atticus Finch, has started attending KKK meetings (called "Community Councils" in the book, but the alliteration could not be more obvious) in order to "help" what he sees as the poor and less intelligent black people of the town to not be "victims" of the NAACP's unchecked attempts to make blacks equal to whites. He views himself as a "white savior" trying to protect the inept black people from the harm that will come to them if they are allowed to participate in the white man's world as equals. It's quite twisted and ridiculous.

Scout is at first horrified to find that her father has gone to the dark side after everything he taught her about being color blind and treating all people equally (the basis of Mockingbird). However, Atticus and his brother, Dr. Jack Finch, work on her and eventually Scout embraces their philosophy. We learn that, as color blind as she may be, she still thinks black people are inferior. What?

I kept hoping there would be some kind of plot twist where Atticus reveals he joined the KKK just so he could be a mole, working to destroy racism from the inside. Nope. He's totally racist, although he thinks he is a "good guy" for protecting blacks from the evil socialist government and the NAACP. It only adds insult to injury that it was a beautifully written racist screed. Lee has a way with words and it is a good, fast read.

That being said, don't read it if you don't want your bubble burst on the moral message of "To Kill a Mockingbird." It makes a mockery of it (pun intended).

Why was this book published? No one knows.

Trump Supporters Are Exactly Like Anti Vaxers

I realized today that in many ways Trump supporters are exactly like the anti vaccine people. The parallels are uncanny.

1. Trump supporters are totally gullible and susceptible to lies. They are also highly risk averse and fearful of even the minutest threats (like Islam) to their safety, notwithstanding the hard numbers that suggest most of their fears are unfounded. For example, you are literally far more likely to die from almost ANY cause other than Islamic terrorism, yet fighting ISIS is all the Republican candidates ever talk about (they like having Bogeymen to keep Americans afraid and compliant).

2. Trump supporters, like anti vaxers, hurt those around them by their actions (sometimes literally), selfishly adhering to a patently false philosophy based on lies and partial truths.

3. Trump supporters appear to lack critical thinking skills, like anti vaxers, which is attributable to the planned dismantling of our educational system via budget cuts, standardized tests, and charter schools. Sadly, I think the dumbing down of the educational system in the USA has diabolically backfired on the Republicans who pushed it through over the past 30 years.

No amount of contrary facts or media analysis can dissuade a Trump supporter.

The difference is that you can force an anti vaxer to get vaccinated for the good of society. You can't force a Trump supporter not to support Trump for the good of humanity. That would be undemocratic. But it's the same exact idea if you think about it.

The media has failed in its responsibility to critically analyze news for consumers who can't do it themselves. Driven by corporate advertising, mainstream media outlets are dishing out infotainment. Many people have to get their news analysis from satirical comedy shows...

I Hope Bernie Sanders Has an Upset Win in Super Tuesday Primaries

I hope, for the entertainment of Americans, that Bernie Sanders pulls out a huge upset win over Hillary Clinton in the Super Tuesday (3/15/16) Presidential Primaries.

I promised my girlfriend Deborah I wouldn't say anything disparaging about Hillary Clinton, like how the DNC establishment has rigged the system to coronate her as the Democratic Prez candidate, or how sick I am of having to vote for the lesser of two evils in general elections. So I won't.

But our political system is broken. It picks two candidates who appeal to the lowest common denominator, and thus appeal to very few. As a result voters are apathetic and turnouts are so low that the Presidential race is a knuckle biter because so many disenfranchised voters simply aren't happy with the two choices and stay home. If the candidate in the general is not Bernie Sanders, I will be disenfranchised. I will still vote, because I always do. I think any Democrat should be able to crush a Republican opponent in a landslide, but that requires people to turn out to vote, and voter turnouts are at record lows because of the aforementioned disenfranchisement and subsequent apathy.

People have to take personal responsibility for their own actions. I can't compel another person to vote, nor who to vote for. All I can say is that statistically, when voter turnouts are high, the "Good Guys" tend to win elections.

So what are you gonna do? (Leave a comment below.)

Personal Responsibility

If there is one thing in the world I would really like to see, it is more people (everyone, in fact) minding their own godd@m business and leaving other people the f@ck alone in their personal lives (with the exception of people that we've granted meddling authority to as a society, like cops and health practitioners and government regulators, for example).

Everyone in the world is responsible for their own thoughts and actions and no one else's. You need to focus on your own self improvement/actualization and stop worrying about what everyone else is thinking and doing. Unless it's directly f@cking up your right to life, libery, or pursuit of happiness, f@ck right off.

I am not sure why some people feel compelled to meddle in other peoples' business, but I suspect it comes down to a couple reasons. One of them is probably insecurity. People are not perfect, and if they are insecure about their own imperfections, they may try to point out other peoples' imperfections to take the attention off their own. Another corollary to this is "tearing someone else down to build yourself up," the cornerstone of the Drama King/Queen personality type.

The other reason is probably fear of failure, a characteristic of the "fixed mindset" personality type as described by Carol Dweck in her book "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success." If you don't want to face your own imperfections and don't think you can improve as a human (you think you are hard wired "as is" and unchangeable), you might take the approach of focusing on someone else's problems and issues as an excuse to avoid facing your own "fixed" flaws." You have far less chance of improving other people than you do yourself, but the difference is you can blame your failure to "fix" other people on external factors you have no control over. This is the "lost cause" mentality behind the expression, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink."

Be the horse and lead yourself to f@cking water, OK? Then if you don't drink, you have no one to blame but yourself. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Now here's Kim Kardashian flaunting her boobies, for no reason.

If Voter ID Laws Disenfranchise Even One Legit Voter, They Are Not Legit

He lost his driver's license fishing that first Saturday in April, his first weekend out after the season opened. He'd placed it on the seat of the row boat, along with his fishing license, which was also lost. He must have knocked them into the water as he was struggling to unsnag his line. He hadn’t caught any fish. Without a license, he couldn't fish on Sunday to redeem his poor luck. He’d have to wait until Monday to get a new driver’s license.

He spaced it on Monday though. Too busy at work. On Tuesday he got up early to vote in the state’s primary election before the long lines formed later in the day. When he arrived at the polling place, there were only a couple people before him in line.

"Name and address, please?" the elderly volunteer at the table enquired as he stepped up to get a ballot. He gave the requested information. He'd voted at the same polling place for years. The volunteer paged through the log book in front of her, with its inverted signature boxes next to the names of registered voters, seeking the entry that legitimized his participation in popular democracy. When she found him, she looked up and said, "I'll need to see a photo ID."

He was reaching for his billfold when he remembered the fishing trip mishap and paused.

"I lost it over the weekend," he admitted to the volunteer. "What are my alternatives?"

"You can file a provisional ballot," the volunteer replied. "However, you'll need to show a valid photo ID before it can be counted."

"I've voted here for years,” he protested. "Isn't my name and address right there in your little book?"

"It may be," the volunteer responded. "But a valid photo ID is still required. It's the law."

"When do I have until?” he asked. He felt stupid and embarrassed in front of the poll workers and the handful of voters waiting behind him in line.

"The polls close at 8 PM," the volunteer replied.

He filed his provisional ballot and left. He didn't have time to go to the DMV before work. He drove to the nearest office at lunch time, but the line was too long. He couldn't get back there in time after work because the DMV closed at 4:30.

When he arrived home from work, his wife asked him what was wrong.

"I tried to vote today, but they wouldn't count it without a valid driver's license," he told her. "I lost it fishing on Saturday."

"Why didn't you go to the DMV and get a new one?" she asked.

"I tried," he responded. "Line was too long. I couldn't get in over lunch."

"What about your passport?" his wife enquired.

"I didn't think about that," he said. "That's a good idea. Where do you suppose it is?"

They scoured the house. It was 7 PM by the time his wife found his passport in the hot box in the study.

He flipped it open excitedly and his face dropped.

"Expired," he said, tossing the passport onto the desk. "Last month."

"I'm sorry, dear," his wife condoled. "I wouldn't worry too much though. Mr. Trump is sure to win big."

"That's not the point," he said. "I wanted to vote. I had a right to. The voter ID law was supposed to keep ne'er do wells from voting, not me."

6 Word Novel

"Sperm cancer? What's the cure, Doc?"

A Dangerous Blog Post

I am going to tell you something the corporate American political establishment really does not want you to know.

The world is actually safer today than it has ever been in history. Yes, let me say that again. You are safer than you have ever been in history.

This is fact. Statistical fact. Math does not lie. You are less likely today to die from any cause: disease, violence, accidents, etc.

That being said, you are also more likely today to die from any cause OTHER THAN TERRORISM.

That's right. For all the fear and hate mongering the corporate media and politicians are spewing about the pant shitting danger of ISIS and extremist Muslims killing you, these things are actually very unlikely to kill you. If you die, you can be almost 100% certain it will be from something else.

So why so much focus on the danger of terrorism?

I don't know. But I suspect it is because it is low hanging fruit for the establishment to compel desirable behavior in the populace. When you're crapping yourself with fear about terrorism, you aren't paying attention to reality and the establishment loves that. They have learned they can fuck off as much as they want, and any time you start to notice it, they divert your attention to the sinister bogeyman of terrorism.

The oligarchy has always used bogeymen to hold onto power. Communism was a big one for decades after WW2. When the Berlin Wall fell, the curtain was dropped on that Bogeyman. The media and pols quickly sought a new source of "terror" to keep people scared and obedient. Terrorism is just the current source of fear based compliance. After 911, people became very sensitive to Islamic terrorism as a risk factor for sudden horrific death. So it's easy for the media and politicians to short circuit your thinking, rational brain by mentioning terrorism.

However, in the USA, you are thousands of times more likely to die from a mass shooter's bullets than from a terror attack (it can be argued that rampant gun violence is terrorism, but it's usually not Islamic in nature...most of the time mass shooters are Christian or non-religious).

As an American, you are more likely to die from lightning or even a rare brain eating parasite than from a terrorist.

Another reason we inflate the danger of Islamic terrorism is probably that there is a belief that something can be done to prevent it. You can bomb the shit out of would be Muslim terrorists (set aside for a moment the fact that doing so breeds more Islamic resentment against the West).

But why do we assume nothing can be done to prevent lightning strikes or Naegleria infections? Those things are ridiculously preventable. Don't play golf in a thunderstorm and don't swim in muddy ponds in the South. Boom.

Actually, preventing Islamic terrorism is relatively hard to do. It takes a lot of technology and bureaucracy and analysis. Thank God terrorism is as rare as it is. The reason people fear it so much is because of the same psychological mechanism that makes people fear flying. Air disasters are so incredibly rare (though you are still statistically more likely to die from one than from a terrorist, you are more likely to die in your own house than on a plane...) that when they happen, it captures peoples' attention and the risk becomes more salient in peoples' minds, even though the danger is unchanged. Terrorism is also super rare and when it happens, people become super sensitive to it, and the establishment power mongers totally exploit this sensitivity to keep you afraid and willing to agree to whatever "preventive measures" the power mongers propose. Wiretapping your phone? OK. Imprisonment without trial? OK. Extrajudicial drone killings with collateral damage? OK. Patriot Act? OK. Millions of dollars in unfunded military spending while cutting welfare to pay for it? OK.

The establishment does not like this information getting out. So please share it far and wide. Thanks!

Bernie's Numbers

The corporate mainstream media will tell you Hillary Clinton has it in the bag over Bernie Sanders.

However, that's mathematically false. Hillary did get more delegates on Super Tuesday in total. But Bernie did very well in some states and he could still pull it out, by the numbers (i.e., the number of delegates that are still in play in states that haven't had primaries yet).

Yes, Bernie has a tough fight ahead and the diabolical establishment forces of money and evil are throwing everything they have at him to keep him down. But he's still up and fighting hard. He knows his sh!t.

Recall he was the underdog with 3% national support when he started out and now he's basically tied with Hillary on public support and has more money in the bank (from small donors, not from PACs and Wall Street) than her. He is still a contender.

But the corporate media, fed by corporate advertising, which feeds Hillary's coffers in exchange for graft, wants to psych you out and make you think Bernie can't win. Don't believe the hype. He may very well not win, but it is too soon to say that decisively. So don't. Think freely and for yourself instead.

On a mostly unrelated note, PBS NEWS HOUR is still the boringest news show ever. If it were on a commercial network, it would have been long gone. I would literally rather watch paint dry...

Corporatist vs Populist (the New Right vs Left)

Corporate politicians and the mainstream media still espouse the outdated one dimensional political spectrum of Right vs Left. But in this 21st century age, it doesn't work anymore. People are not one dimensional. They can be conservative about some things and progressive about others.

The new political spectrum should be redefined as Corporatist vs Populist, or in the simplest terms Top vs Bottom (or Haves and Have Nots). What we have in America today is a vertical spectrum where wealth flows from the bottom to the top, and as it does, the middle class that drives the economy disappears. Because money drives politics now, most politicians are oligarchs who take their marching orders from the top (Corporatists), not from the people (Populists). Viewed on this spectrum, it doesn't matter if a politician leans right or left. It matters how close they are to the top or the bottom.

Regardless of your political persuasions, viewed this way, Hillary Clinton is a Corporatist (most of her campaign contributions come from big corporate donors) and Bernie Sanders is the Populist (most of his campaign contributions come from people, actual real people). Think about that.

Align yourself on that Corporatist vs Populist spectrum and vote accordingly.