Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Looking for a new bogeyman

Almost immediately after the death of former terrorist bogeyman Osama Bin Laden, news reports started popping up all over speculating on who would replace him as the Terrorist-In-Chief. Here are a few examples. (a) (b) (c)

There is no conspiracy to keep us living in fear of terrorism. It all develops as naturally as any other public issue meme. However, it's undeniable that memes benefit some more than others. The meme of our society living under the threat of collapse due to the efforts of a relative few fanatics is of great benefit to the existing power structures; political, military and industrial power structures.

The economy of the United States is highly dependent on defense spending. For those Americans who love to chant "We're Number One", well, you can't deny that they are right - at least when it comes to advanced weaponry, computers, spy tech, personnel training and maintenance, etc. Over 40% of the world's military spending each year is done by the U.S. The second leading country in military spending is China, and they spend roughly 15% of what our country does. The 2009 U.S. budget called for nearly $700 billion in defense spending and that was before the extra $75 billion of emergency funding for the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This obscene level of spending has to be justified somehow. With the fall of communism as a viable threat to sell us on, the Nineties left a chasm that needed to be filled and "the worldwide threat of global terrorism, primarily emanating from the Middle East in the form of Islamic Jihad" provided a flimsy cover. At least at first. Then came 9/11/2001. You could almost feel the collective sigh of relief coming out of the military/industrial complex.

So now, with Osama Bin Laden an historical footnote, the search is on for a new bogeyman to haunt our dreams and allow our government to go unchallenged in spending outlandish amounts of money to insure that you don't die this year in cataclysmic attack. Feel the fear, and don't ask questions. Your life may depend on your obedient acquiescence. It would be better if you question the $1 billion spent on women's reproductive health or the half billion dollars earmarked for public broadcasting.

Friday, May 06, 2011

You can believe in Colbert's God

News and thoughts

I was in the hospital last week after going to the E.R. and discovering a blood clot in my right leg, part of which had moved to the lungs. I'm out, on blood thinners and doing as well as ever. I can honestly report that I never said a prayer.

There's an article today on LiveScience which talks of a study about men, and how much they think about sex during the day. Seems that we think just as much about sleep and snacks as we do about doing the horizontal mambo. In all fairness, the study was conducted with college aged men. Had it included the over-50 set, they would have found that we also think as frequently about urination and various pains.

In a discussion recently, I complained that believers in various gods almost never try to engage me on the specifics of their god, choosing instead to turn the discussion to my atheism vs. some nebulous notion of god as a first cause. In turn I was told that it was me who was running from the "big question" of whether there is an ACME All-Purpose God of the Universe. Fine. I'm running. But until someone tells me exactly what they mean by god, I see no value in debating its existence.

Speaking of specific gods, I'd still like to know how Christians can be sure that Satan isn't the real Master of the Universe. Maybe Satan is the one who created everything, is every bit the joker he is described in the bible, put out this ridiculous bible to test the intelligence of his creation, and will punish all of those who die believing the Jesus fable. I'm guessing that they somehow know due to the very same reason, rationality and logic they used to become Christians in the first place.

Latest news on Osama Bin Laden - he's still dead. Ignorant Muslim fundamentalists still exist in the millions. We should get out of the wars we are in, but exploiting the on-going "jihad" is just worth too damn much money for too many people for that to happen. Besides, did you see all the monkeys swinging from trees, screaming "U.S.A! U.S.A.!" and informing our leaders that this issue has traction? Human beings (in general) are so much more ignorant than we'd like to think.