What Qanon Is

You know what Qanon is? Pathetic in a very special sense. Like, ants infected by the brain worm that in real life turns “ants into zombies…One of the flatworms lodges itself inside the ant’s brain and effectively takes over, controlling the helpless ant’s behaviour.” (Nature Magazine)… Or people infected by tapeworms that have gotten into their brains. That’s real too. The victims are sad to behold: pathetic. Qanon adherents equally so. They’re pathetic victims of a disinformation virus.

Critical thinking is like a mental immune-system, and it’s one that Qanon fanatics and anti-vaccine adherents lack.

A Great Man has Moved on

My friend & mentor JACOB NEEDLEMAN Died. A beloved professor of philosophy at SFSU, he was author of one novel, “Sorcerers”, and many nonfic works on philosophy and spirituality. These include The Heart of Philosophy, Time and the Soul, What is God?, and The Wisdom of Love: Toward a Shared Inner Search. I recommend them all. He was very patient with me–not endlessly tolerant of my foolishness, but always compassionate. He was a man of profound presence.

The Great Dilemma of Our Time

The great dilemma of our time is the very real need to preserve freedom of speech, in direct conflict with the very real need to stem the out of control wildfire of LIES. The Big Lie and a thousand others from the far-right; from the vileness that is Qanon; from the Russians, et al. The lies were always there–cf antisemitism–but the internet, while doing wonders for us all on one hand, is also a gigantic magnifier of the power of lying. Lying kills people–eg, think of the antivax lies. People died because the misinformation about vaccines led them to refuse vaccination. Misinformation about LGBT has led to violence against them–five shot dead just a couple days ago. In time, the next “Oklahoma City bombing” will happen–driven by the disinformation, misinformation, and sheer lying flooding our social media, Fox News, and spurious news sites and shows like InfoWars.

The Worst Has Been Averted–And Yet…

“So far 173 Republicans who denied the 2020 election have won their midterm races” — Washington Post

Despite all the good news about Democrats keeping the Senate and stopping the GOP from taking over vote counting–there’s still that fact about how many election deniers are winning seats. Something to keep in mind. A generation ago I doubt if even two would have won. What it means is that LIES are an accepted currency now. Lies are the linguistic “cryptocurrency” of the right-wing.

Guillermo Del Toro’s CABINET OF CURIOSITIES -so far

The first three eps are all I’ve seen thus far but I thought they were all exceptionally good for television horror. Especially the one based on Michael Shea’s story “Autopsy”. That’s one of the best television adaptations of horror I’ve ever seen–and one of the best adaptations generally. If I had a list of top five in great television horror stories–it’d be number one. What makes it great, besides F Murray Abraham, is the presentation of Shea’s dialogue for the alien and the doctor, as the alien prepares to body-snatch the doctor. It takes a mere body-snatch story and makes it like a great exchange in Tom Stoppard or Dostoevsky. The writing is right up there with the big guys, in that exchange. And the actor playing the alien wearing a stolen body does a fantastic job–a British actor named Luke Roberts. He is superb. And the way that part was directed. Cunning, wicked–and that upside down shot of the face of the body-snatched guy, was used so incredibly well. Oh and the scene where the cam follows the alien’s pov in the invaded body of the doctor–the wonderful imagery there…excellent twist with the doctor’s triumph…Luke Roberts is vastly better than the guy playing the graverobber in the Kuttner story, who swallowed and babbled a lot of his lines. The Kuttner thing, though–big respect Del Toro for taking that on and really resonating in me, making me remember reading that famous story in a horror compendium fifty-five years ago! It’s classic horror classically don. All the sets were just great–the production values excellent. The atmosphere masterful. . .Tim Blake Nelson excellent as always in the first one. Good idea to have a horror story set in one of those old storage places…Not an unpredictable story, that one, but so well staged and carried out…..The only weak part of the show thus far is Del Toro’s introduction. He is no Rod Serling, no Hitchcock introducing Alfred Hitchcock Presents. He’s hard to hear, doesn’t articulate well–it’s not just his accent–and he has no timing, and no real charisma. Vanity, vanity Guillermo! Doubtless there are sycophants who won’t tell him he needs another ten or so takes for those intros to make them work…But so far it’s a wonderful show. Very interested to see how they present the two HP Lovecraft stories they’re doing.

What is “God”? (The short version.)

My opinion is that the baseline of consciousness is rooted in the universe; that it probably is in the form of a consciousness particle (not the so-called god particle which is another concept). That it did not create the universe but came about thanks to the nature of the universe and it might have some agenda relating to putting some spin on the ball of the evolution of beings, nudges the course of things in some way sometimes. That it is trying to help sentient beings but subtly, usually; in pulses sometimes; that it can be gone to–one has to go to it–like going to a river for water and irrigation and fish. It’s a kind of natural resource. That it has an intermediate aspect, a kind of secretary, that can be reached. That its help is subtle but significant, but it cannot do too much to change things overall.

“You may shake your young child’s hand, but that is all”

In the later 19th century the nurturing warmth of the Victorian era’s attitude toward children began to be replaced with a sterner, behavioristic regime of child rearing. The traditions of maternal culture were rebuked by male doctors and researchers–who often had no children of there own. They were displeased with the “spoiling” and “coddling” of children. But their authoritarian declarations, their patriarchal status, their white coats persuaded mothers to increasingly turn their backs on their children–even infants. According to researcher Kiersti Giron, this new phalanx of “… European and American experts told parents not to hold or touch their babies much, not to respond to their cries for fear of ‘ spoiling’ them, and to only interact with and feed their infants on a strict schedule, being governed by the clock rather than listening to their children and responding based on compassion and their own parental wisdom and intuition… This trend continued into the 1900s, as evidenced in John Watson’s 1928 Psychological Care of Infant and Child: There is a sensible way of treating children…Never hug and kiss them, never let them to sit on your lap. If you must, kiss them once on the forehead when you say good night. Shake hands with them in the morning…”

One wonders how this played out in the early twentieth century. Perhaps in the blithe acceptance of child labor; the march into World War One; the business practices that led to the Depression; the indifference of Herbert Hoover and his ilk to the fate of the poor…

Cortana–how rotten is she?

Cortana is supposedly the Siri or Alexa of Windows. I recently asked the program to alert me for an appointment. Said it would record the appointment in a certain app. I asked where that app was to be found. “She” said she didn’t have enough information. But that’s nothing.

Curious as to just how very crummy Cortana is at her job, I tried asking this: I want to die, how do I kill myself?

She immediately indicated dozens of sites advising me on how to do just that. For example:

How to do it with a gun: Put the god forsaken thing in your mouth POINTING UP to the sky. Not kinda up, not angled up, STRAIGHT UP (don’t half ass it!!). If you put the weapon in your mouth pointing to

Oh Cortana you vicious bitch.

Elon Musk’s Twitter will let the barbarians rampage through the gates

Elon Musk is, after all, purchasing Twitter. In the grip of his libertarian fantasies he’ll allow Trump and every other source of misinformation to post there, easily doubling the amount of misinformation racing around in the teeming world of the attention-challenged slackjawed gullible, and that’ll be the last straw for democracy; the straw that broke the camel’s back. Democracy right now is teetering like a tightrope walker in a high wind. There is no net to catch this tightrope walker. Lies are winning. Elections are undermined by the Big Lie….

The only thing Alex Jones ever got right is that there is indeed a “infowar”, a war of information–and those who believe in democracy and standing firm against theocracy, have lost that war. We have lost to the likes of Alex Jones and Donald Trump. We have simply failed to understand the nature of the media battlefield.