Wednesday, May 3, 2017

An Open Letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

Dear FCC Chairman Pai:

Stop the incessant push to restrict Internet access by creating “fast lanes” for wealthy subscribers and “slow lanes” for everyone else. The Internet is more than just a channel for commerce; it's also an important channel for public communications that serves society on many levels. Citizens are not well served by regulations that favor the wealthy over the non-wealthy by restricting and/or limiting Internet access for an entire class of citizens. The way I see it, Chairman Pai, is that your primary responsibility is to the people who pay your salary, not to the corporations that pay you bribes.

Please do the right thing.

Best,

Phil Hanson




Thursday, March 23, 2017

We Have Met the Enemy

One of the most appealing things about modern society and all its trappings is that irony abounds. While capitalist systems devour themselves, the global human population goes farther into serious overshoot, and the global ecosphere trends toward chemical imbalances that will destroy its ability to support life, it seems illogical to assume that the very things that brought the world to this ignominious state of unwell-being will somehow save us from it. Absent radical changes to the economic, environmental, political and social policies now in effect, we’re toast.


Monday, March 6, 2017

About that Wall


Our so-called president is delusional if he thinks that just because good fences make for good neighbors, high border walls make for good allies. History shows us that high walls create bitter enemies, and exist as much to keep resident populations inside as to keep invading hoards out. Walls breed fear and distrust.

Rather than building walls, we should be tearing them down and building friendships, instead. Tackling global problems arising out of for-profit capitalism requires global cooperation, which is most easily obtained by gaining trust and forging friendships among nations. At a time when humanity stands on the brink of ecocide, putting up a wall is about as stupid as it gets.

Of course, every stupid idea deserves a silly rhyme to commemorate it. This one's based on a children's classic:

Grumpty Trumpty built a high wall,
from which, soon after, he took a hard fall.
Not all of his minions, nor all of his kin,
could put the Pumpkinf├╝hrer together again.

How will the Cheeto Burrito* pay for his Great Wall? Slashing social benefits for the 99% and giving huge tax cuts to billionaires are my two guesses.

Projected to cost a minimum of $15 billion, Trump's Folly could easily exceed $25 billion when the costs of defending lawsuits and typical cost overruns are factored in. That's a lot of money to commit to a project that is almost certain to be reversed by the next duly elected U.S. President, who is absolutely certain to be smarter than the current one.


*Kind of doughy, full of shit and sprinkled with Cheeto dust (among other things).



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Fear and Hatred Never Sleep


If it were possible to determine sexual orientation at the fetal stage of human development, you can be sure that abortions would not only be legal in the states now seeking to outlaw them, but for certain fetuses they’d be mandatory.

Religion is the stimulant that keeps fear and hatred alive and awake. Fear the gay, fear the different, fear the other, andabove allhate, hate, hate everything you fear.

No wonder that increasing numbers of people are turning away from religion. Genuinely moral people can neither abide the bigotry nor the hypocrisy.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Classy Comparisons


Who knew that reviving a blog can be harder than building a new one from scratch? To ease the task and mark the beginning of my return engagement with Frieddogleg, here’s an inspiring 3-minute video that compares middle class to world class (with mellow background music that makes your meager time investment even more worthwhile), and subtly suggests in a tangential way that by changing your life you can help transform the world.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Dear John (an open letter to Oregon's governor)


Dear Governor Kitzhaber,

Really? The public soundly rejected SB 633, so you'll just shove it down the public's collective throat anyway?

GMOs are an economic dead-end, and the companies that seek to peddle that particular brand of snake oil to the public know it. If GMOs had real commercial value, the public would be clamoring for them, not trying to get them rejected; if GMOs had anything of value for the public, companies like Monsanto wouldn't be engaged in endless rounds of expensive litigation and/or legislation involving their ill-conceived products. Allowing the planting of GMO seeds anywhere in Oregon without strict conditions attached risks irreparable harm to Oregon's agricultural industry and permanent changes to its ecology. Please, don't go there.

Sincerely,

Phil Hanson


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Capitalism: A Criminal Enterprise



The problem with seeing the world in terms of money is that you miss the world.

Apparently, that’s a prerequisite of the capitalist mindset. Given the choice between a healthy environment and a healthy bottom line, the committed capitalist will consistently choose the healthy bottom line. If the choice is between clean, pure water that communities depend on for life support and hydrofracked natural gas to sell on the open market, they’ll go for the money, communities be damned. If they must choose between healthy ocean ecosystems that benefit all life and a temporary supply of cheap fossil energy to sell on the open market, they’ll choose the money without a thought that a collapsed ocean ecosystem will eventually doom us all. In any situation where the choices are sustainability or short-term profits, diehard capitalists take the money and run.

Such is the allure of the dollar sign, that seductive icon of wealth and power and international symbol of greed. In musing, it seems probable that dollar signs are to human eyes as blinders are to a horse. Blinders keep the eyes focused on what’s immediately ahead while allowing the wearer to avoid sight of anything in the least bit scary, disturbing or unpleasant. Dollar signs enable capitalists to ignore global warming and deny climate change while they go about their daily business of converting essential wealth into short-term profits.

Capitalism, which pits the wants of a few against the needs of the many, depends primarily on theft for its success. It starts with the theft of the land, followed by the plundering of natural resources in and on the land and in, on or under the oceans, the theft of workers’ time and labor throughout the full range of production processes and, finally, the theft of environmental services and of taxpayers' dollars allocated to clean up the mess capitalists leave in their wake. Without theft, capitalism really doesn't work very well; it’s just not profitable.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Truth of Consequences



“In the last two years, reported sexual assault cases in the military rose from an estimated 19,000 to 26,000. Last year, the number reached an estimated 71 cases a day.” ―Heidi Heitkamp


Consequences? There are all kinds of consequences, some good, some bad, some intended, some not. What are the consequences of raping a fellow soldier? Well, there’s the loss of trust, the loss of comradeship, the loss of unit cohesion, the loss of unit discipline, the loss of respect, the loss of military pride …. So many losses and not a single win. Everyone loses.

The U.S. Military is rapidly gaining a reputation for being a place where the hard-up go to get laid. Until there are real consequences for rape in the military, expect an increase in sexual assaults each and every year; without consequences, bullies with poor impulse control feel free to participate. In the meantime, military rape victims ought not hesitate to frag their rapist at the earliest opportunity. (Note: For the best outcome, this should be done in an actual combat setting to provide cover for plausible deniability.)

Assuming that all of the people who actually have the power to stop sexual assaults on fellow soldiers―the would-be rapists, military commanders and members of the three branches of government―eventually come to their senses and collectively act to end rape within the military’s ranks, what kinds of deterrents might they use to ensure compliance with anti-rape regulations among the rank-and-file? What punishment might they use to bring home the consequences to those who would victimize their comrades-in-arms?

Does life in front of a firing squad sound too harsh?


Monday, June 17, 2013

Growing Pains



''Every nation has both a right and responsibility to keep its population in balance with its resources. The notion that you can grow forever is crazy economics.'' ―Mark O’Connor


In the world outside a coal mine frogs are the canaries, and they are dying.

As we humans change the chemical composition of the atmosphere, the oceans, and of the land itself, the very planet we depend on for life support is rapidly losing the ability to support life. Scientists and other experts warn that we are fast approaching critical tipping points on numerous fronts and that mass extinctions are a likely result.

Few people seem to grasp the precariousness of our situation―the immediacy of the dangers we all face―and fewer still fully grasp the proximate causes of it. Until we acknowledge the human element at the epicenter of environmental degradation and resource depletion―until we stop thinking in terms of resource shortages and start thinking in terms of excess demand due to overpopulation―and begin an honest dialog aimed at resolving these difficult issues, we are condemned to live a “slapstick comedy” kind of existence.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Best Things in Life


Some of the best things in life are the priceless gems we take away from direct experience, deep introspection or direct observation; these are among the things that help us better understand the world we live in―or help us imagine a better one. Here’s a baker’s dozen of my personal favorites:

1) All things are connected in some way, even when the connections seem tenuous or non-existent. What affects one thing affects all things.

2) Money isn’t wealth, per se, it only represents a future claim on wealth. In essence, it’s a facilitator of trade, but it does more than just that; it also invites one or more (usually more) additional parties (middlemen) into what would otherwise be a two-party transaction.

3) In the real world, physics apply; there is no magic, only illusions; there are limits to all finite things.

4) In a rational world, knowledge supported by science trumps religion-based dogma.

5) Things aren’t always what they seem to be.

6) Sometimes things are exactly what they seem to be.

7) Complex systems create complex problems that require complex solutions and complex explanations.

8) The economy is in no way economic; it squanders resources by turning things of value into money.

9) If it’s too big to fail, it’s a criminal enterprise.

10) If government could be bought, it already has been.

11) Religion provides cover for bad behavior.

12) Advancements in technology require new advancements in technology to deal with the aftermath.

13) At some point you have to stop striving for more and start striving for better.

Got some of your own? Feel free to share them in the comments.