For a variety of reasons I haven’t posted any serious thoughts in the past few months but there’s been plenty to talk about.
2017 was a tough year psychologically. I think I speak for many people, not just me, but there was a serious mental exercise that took place trying to keep up with the news and remain sane about it. The bombardment of information is challenging in both quantity and quality. From the mass shootings to the natural disasters destroying so many lives and livelihoods, there's been a lot of human suffering to endure. And of course, to state the obvious, it’s bad alone just having to witness it, can’t imagine actually LIVING through it. Hence why we must always be humble and grateful for what we have.
At the same time, it’s very hard to keep up with everything going on with Trump and the world at large, combined with the fact that everything is “fake news” or some kind of “biased opinion”. No matter what you say, there’s always a counter argument, often leaving us without confidence on what is true. How do we deal with this? I’m sure some of you have tuned out to the news cycle as a way to deal with it, as I did somewhat over the past few months (though Love Knowledge doesn’t let me fully tune out, both a blessing and a curse). However, I don’t think that’s the best strategy, at least not in the long run. Everything in moderation, including negative news that makes us sad/angry/frustrated/etc, but still, we cannot deal with problems if we choose to ignore them. We cannot rely on others to fix things for us, we all need to do our part.
Truth is a difficult thing to obtain. It always has been but it feels like now more than ever. I think the first practical step towards dealing with the issue of living in a “post-truth” world is to establish quality sources of information. This is a complicated topic that I’ve been meaning to write about for some time but my over-simplified answer for now is to seek a variety of news sources with an emphasis on independent media. It is not to say that corporate media like the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal cannot do good journalism, but it is to say that independent media will often give you a better perspective on what’s really going on in the world. At least that has been my observation. Ideally, one would review both corporate and independent press and get as much information as possible but for practical time constraints, that's probably not possible. I myself have chosen to focus on independent sources. I will address all this in more detail in a future essay.
I'm sure for some the idea of independent media is suspect. Are these just blogs on the internet? No. If not, aren't they just citing 'official' sources like the NY Times, Reuters, etc in their reporting anyway? Yes and no. Sometimes they cite the "mainstream" media sources, other times they offer original reporting. Again, it's not to say that the NY Times cannot report on real atrocities and highlight injustices in society, but is that their main mission? Do they highlight stories of government corruption of the US (regardless of the party in power), for instance, or mainly focus on the crimes of other countries? If we want honest reporting of US crimes, should we go to US mainstream media? This objection is frequently lodged at RT (formerly Russia Today), a Russian state-sponsored media outlet. Should we trust their reporting of Russian politics? Probably not at face value, but if that's the case, why isn't the same true for US media? The answer is, it is. Therefore we must be skeptical and question everything. Independent media, generally speaking, has little to no corporate or government funding (hence, there is a lot less outside influence on their reporting, if any). But it's hard to make blanket statements and over-generalize about any media outlets in particular or in general. The point is more about trust. Independent media outlets cover issues like the military-industrial complex and the US imperial empire, and question 'official' government narratives, let alone much more taboo topics like election fraud (not voter fraud) or false flag operations. Anyone that is willing to discuss these topics, which are real, gains a lot more trust than those who systematically ignore, ridicule, or suppress such information. There is a lot more to be said about the differences of 'mainstream' vs. independent media but as mentioned above, I will address this in more detail in a future essay.
Love Knowledge has attempted to curate from some of these independent media outlets but there are many others to get to and more analysis needed. The problem is simply time and resources so I welcome anyone’s help and ideas. The short-term goal (with our small team and budget), has always been to identify then curate from the best sources. Eventually we want to offer original content as well but for now I think focusing on identifying and promoting these top independent sources is valuable enough, given our current situation. There are other goals as well, which I’ll get into later, but for now I’m only focusing on identifying quality sources of information and I welcome your feedback towards identifying them.
The list below is certainly not definitive but here are some of my favorite sources for news and analysis. Please add any independent media/authors/journals/magazines/etc I left off in the comments below. If they're not already on my full list of sources they will get added and eventually analyzed. Thanks in advance for the help.
• AlterNet • Antiwar.com • Black Agenda Report • Center for Investigative Reporting • Center for Media and Democracy • CommonDreams • Consortiumnews.com • Counter Current News • CounterPunch • Democracy Now! • Dissident Voice • Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) • FactCheck.org • Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting • Food & Water Watch • Futurism • GIJN - Global Investigative Journalism Network • Global Research (Centre for Research on Globalization) • Global Voices • In These Times • Independent Voter • InsideClimate News • Institute for Policy Studies • Institute for Public Accuracy • Investigative Reporting Workshop • KPFA Radio • Media Roots • Mint Press News • Mother Jones • Naked Capitalism • NationofChange • OilPrice.com • opednews.com • PolitiFact • Pew Research Center • Popular Resistance • Post Carbon Institute • Press For Truth • Project Censored • ProPublica • Ralph Nader Radio Hour • Salon • Shadowproof • Slate.com • SOTT.NET • The Anti-Media • The Bureau of Investigative Journalism • The Center for Public Integrity • The Conversation • The Corbett Report • The Empire Files • The Indypendent • The Intercept • The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists • The Nation Magazine • The Progressive Magazine • The Progressive Radio Network • The Free Thought Project • TomDispatch • Truthdig • Truthout • The Real News Network • Washington's Blog • Zmagazine • Znet • WhoWhatWhy • YES! Magazine
There's a lot more to say and more big picture strategy I want to discuss but this post is long enough as is. Stay tuned for more…
THE PREAMBLE: In most solidly "blue" states, voting is a pretty simple and straightforward process on a technical level, which is why I generally have little respect for eligible voters who choose to abstain. However the process of deciding who to vote for is becoming increasingly difficult. The candidates on offer seems increasingly intolerable, and the campaign coverage people are most likely to see has long been skewed, inadequate, and increasingly irrelevant. What makes matters worse, our boards of election apparently are ill-equipped and/or unwilling to provide sufficient/basic information about candidates to voters. Though it's not actually their responsibility to provide detailed candidate info (that's what campaigns are for), they should provide basic, vetted information about candidates and relatively detailed nonpartisan information on ballot proposals.
THE POINT: I haven't been following 2017 NYC Election campaign coverage closely and I'm under the impression that turnout will be pathetically low, but nonetheless I did do enough research to be able to cast an absentee ballot containing a few votes for listed candidates and a couple of write-ins. One particularly hard decision to make was which judges candidates to vote for, if any. My Queens election guide did not contain ANY information about the judgeson the ballot, and it was not very easy to find a website with information on them. I did eventually find information via the website of the New York State Unified Court System. If you're looking for info on your county's New York Supreme Court and NYC Civil Court candidates, you should be able to find information on the site... IF a bio and statement was submitted for the candidate. For example, James J. Kevins, Jr (running for Supreme Court in the Eleventh Judicial District) does not have any information showing on the site. Perhaps he figures next to nobody would ever read it anyway. And that might be a correct assumption... sadly.
In case of a divorce, if the couple has a child together while married, both the parents have equal parental right over their child. Each parent has the right to the custody of their child when they separate. It will be decided by the court to which parent child custody should be given. The court strives to reach a decision in the best interest of the child. The number of factors that a court looks into before making a final decision includes
The age of the child
The wishes of the child (The child should be of adequate age to inform the court about his/her wishes)
The relationship of child with each of the parents, siblings and other family members who may significantly impact the child's best interests
The child’s comfort in his home, school and community
The mental and physical health of both the parents as well as child
If you are going through a battle for child custody, you must be aware of the laws and how decisions about your child will be made. The Child custody Lawyers in Boca Raton can help you to know the details of child custody and may help you to make your chances of winning the child custody strong.
Before I get into the role and importance of engineering, I’d like to make the terms “Engineer” and “Engineering” clear in the reader’s mind. Webster’s Dictionary defines Engineering as “the applications of scientific and mathematical principles to practical ends such as the design, construction, and operation of efficient and economical structures, equipment and systems.” An Engineer is an individual who is educated to use the principles of Engineering to create technology and wealth for society.
The role of engineers in society and their importance is rather simple yet profound. Engineers are the designers for nearly all man-made objects and all others are still only made possible by the existence of engineers and engineering. The reason is simple. Anything that has to be built needs a design, a blueprint. All infrastructure in society, all vehicles on the road, air and sea, all technological and electronic devices, and so on—all these objects needed to be designed before being built. Those designers are engineers.
As you can see, most of the material world outside of Mother Nature herself was possible only because of engineers. Whether it be a mechanical engineer, civil engineer, electrical engineer, or another type of engineer, some kind of engineer was ultimately responsible. Besides the man-made objects that make up our physical world, there is also the interaction between peoples, countries and cultures that give us “society” and our current global culture. The means of interaction being the ability to travel (planes, cars, trains, ships…) and the ability to communicate (telephone, internet…). Again, both are made possible by engineers. So if you love your iPhone / Droid / Smartphone, don’t thank Steve Jobs or whoever else runs the company. Thank all the engineers working for him that actually made the phone.
Given the above, does it seem odd that this profession isn’t as recognizable as say, doctors or lawyers? When one thinks of a highly respected profession, doctors and lawyers are typically the first to mind. I credit this mostly to mass media (think of all the doctor and lawyer shows there are), their high paying wages, and their profession’s ability to make their line of work seem extremely vital. I will elaborate on this in a future post.
The point being, engineers are absolutely vital to the existence of society. Therefore, they should be given the kind of recognition that other so-called “top professions” get. It obviously seems ridiculous to consider this but the kind of treatment celebrities and professional athletes get is far more deserving of engineers, a profession that contributes more to society than all celebrities and athletes. When considering why you admire who you admire, one of the fundamental principles should be to consider how much that person contributes to the progress of humanity. Great leaders and thinkers, artists and poets, generals and soldiers, engineers and architects, these are the kinds of people we should look up to. Those who expanded our understanding, improved our thinking, inspired us to greatness, protected our freedom to live our lives, and allowed us the ability to live at all...those are the kinds of heroes humanity should praise.
Original Publication Date: June 6, 2011. Note: My general worldview remains the same but I would revise my opinions somewhat. See [bracketed comments] for my latest thoughts (11.15.16).
Throughout history, there has always been a ruling class and those who are ruled. The conditions of those ruled used to be barbaric, and in some places still are, but great advances have been made leading up to our current situation. Let's not forget the constant struggle humanity has fought for freedom even though we consider ourselves free1. Although our freedoms are greater than most places in the world, we are still not where we need to be when considering the influence of powerful corporations and special interest groups in Washington, overlooking the needs of the people2. So there is still much work to be done, both here and abroad3. Those who care about the future of our country, of our species, and of this planet, should care about these issues and others like it. Even if we can live our lives in relative comfort and let the world go to waste after we're gone, that's hardly an excuse not to do something now. Do it for your future offspring, do it for humanity, and simply do it on principle alone.
This is my overall view related to "Class Warfare and Humanity's Struggle". Now I'd like to elaborate on the three points referenced above.
1 - I'm particularly referring to Americans when I say "we consider ourselves free", speaking as an American.
As for our level of freedom in this country, I would say we are a very free people. [Five years later and I would say we've not only lost freedom, but I ranked it higher than I should have in the first place. What I describe next is about freedom of movement and speech, but speech has limits, certainly within corporate media and mainstream opinion. So overall, I'd say we're definitely not as free as we think but certainly better off than many other countries, if I had to rephrase that.] We can exercise a lot of freedom in the range of our actions and in what we can say, but there are some very fundamental freedoms we are not getting and that is still a big issue we must overcome. The real freedom that we are not getting is democratic participation in determining how society is structured and run.
We have the illusion that we have the freedom to elect this official or that in Washington (and technically we do) [or to some degree not, maybe. I have since come into contact with the work of NYU Professor Mark Crispin Miller who is a media studies expert. He's written a couple of books on election fraud, and although I haven't looked into too deeply yet, it looks like a legitimate problem to me from his work and testimony of a computer programmer admitting to doing this (Computer Programmer Discusses Election Hacking), among other evidence. Links to this evidence will follow shortly and be listed at the bottom of this post] but realistically we don't have any real power because regardless of who's in office, powerful elites in this country will influence our government promoting their needs over the needs of the whole. This corruption of government exists all over the world and is nothing new. History has shown that those with power try to protect it (and usually seek to expand it) at the expense of the masses. It follows from simple self-interested logic that drives most actions in the world, especially from the kind of people who seek and fulfill such positions of power. I would argue that a just society should not have such large inequities of power, wealth, and standard of living. [We don't have to all be the same of course, but there is more than enough wealth to eliminate poverty and still keep things largely the same, at worst.]
Point 2’s expansion will go into this further.
2 – I pick political corruption as my main example for why we’re “not where we need to be” because it is this unfair influence that will then skew legislation away from only serving the good of the people, therefore causing problems in all areas affected (which is pretty widespread). For many examples and evidence for how widespread corruption goes in Washington and their damaging effects, read any of the following books:
One quick point regarding the third book, written by Arianna Huffington. Forget the fact that you may or may not like her politics. This book shows a lot of clear examples of the abuses of lobbying (along with other undemocratic characteristics of our “democracy” and what we can do about it) but is certainly a good source of corrupt behavior in our government.
3 – I think our main focus at first should be to resolve national issues of poverty, education, and health care. [My new main focuses, in no particular order, would be climate change, regaining control of our government (through election reform/removing money from politics/etc), and promoting independent media. The issues I outlined before look at things from a different point of view. Those are the critical tools, in my opinion, to allow someone to have a fair chance at life so they can make something of themselves. Don't start poor (have bare essentials), have access to good education (which I'm still focused on actually, i.e. independent media), and ensure people have healthcare to remain healthy. My new focuses are climate (immediate largest existential threat, in my opinion), regain control of government so we can make smart policy decisions as a country, and education as always to help as many people understand what is happening and to join the fight against it (that's where Love Knowledge tries to come in). I think education is the key to everything.]
This will promote the health of our citizens and give them the tools to make it on their own. Once we get all our people on stable ground and have a very robust system of education in place, then we can start working to improve this world. In the meantime, I do not think we should abstain from helping others when needed but not spend as much as we do. If another country has a natural disaster or needs help in other ways to prevent human suffering, we should step in. But often our aid to other countries acts as a tool of influence in how things are done there and is not given in good conscience. Also, maintenance of all our military bases on international soil is unnecessary and very expensive. We should scale back our use of authority in other regions and focus more of our energies building internally. For more information about this and other problems with U.S. foreign policy, read this book: Failed States - Noam Chomsky. Just one of very many he's written on the subject.
As a final side note, I’d like to take a brief moment to speak about professor Noam Chomsky. In the course of my intellectual discovery as an adult, Chomsky has been one of the most inspiring, knowledgeable, and arguably the wisest person I’ve come across. [I have since learned of his opposition to conspiracy theories and draw disagreement with him there. I believe the JFK assassination and 9/11 were examples of proven conspiracies (evidence of this will be provided in future posts but for now here's a brief introduction into 9/11 evidence that challenges the official story Architects and Engineers: Solving the Mystery of Building 7) but not only does he try to discredit them, he does so while making some statements that are uncharacteristically illogical for someone of his intellect. To me, that indicates Chomsky is knowingly putting out disinformation. That is highly problematic and requires serious inquiry but I do still think his other works are worth reading. He could still write well on some topics while putting out mis/disinformation on others. Obviously that is a very unsettling to discover but one can understand why someone may want to disassociate themselves from conspiracy theory (i.e. for practical purposes like career, reputation, etc). This warrants a separate post in the future. For now, here is a video of Chomsky discussing these conspiracy theories Chomsky dispels 9/11 conspiracies with sheer logic and make illogical remarks like "even if these theories were true, who cares?" I will elaborate more in the future post.]