Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Mojave Rocket Show: Spectator Capitalism at its Finest

At the risk of revealing some traits of libertarian geekness, I admit that I enjoyed viewing the White Knight webcast from Mojave. The Rutan Brothers' bizarre airfleet of gliders, home-built planes, and micro-rockets is impressive, and provide some of us with a Ray-Bradbury sense of wonder. Others, however, watching from the cheap seats might be a bit dismayed at the corporate overtones of the entire spectacle. The Rutan Brothers supersonic adventures are of course funded by the 3rd wealthiest man in the world, Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft with Bill Gates, El I.T. Padron Supremo. Now Virgin Airlines, owned by former punk rock producer Richard Branson, has jumped into the civilian space race as well. 7-up and the M n Ms have also made an appearance: NASCAR in orbit.

There are plans to offer commerical space travel, though tickets for the Virgin/Rutan space vacations are not cheap: about $190.000.00 a seat--not exactly coach rates. One wonders how many jobs the Rutan Brothers offer to Mojave and the surrounding communities. They must have a team of dedicated programmers, assemblers and some engineers, but it's probably not more than about 100-200 people. To be honest, it appears like some expensive fun for really rich geeks like Allen and Branson--hire some propeller heads out in the Mojave Desert to build neat toys, and maybe someday, there will be a little fleet which various IT barons and celebrities and their dates du jour may use to jet around in orbit for a few very expensive minutes. Yet does such high concept, rocket science capitalism do much for the economic and social problems of Kern County and SoCal as whole? I do not think it does. It is more of a sort of high tech hedonism, a dangerous and exciting game for the Corporate Boys to marvel at while many of us, not Einsteins or Lindbergs, are allowed to watch mutely from the sidelines, or in front of monitors, our computers, our entertainment, our dreams stamped with Microsoft Inc.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Objection Overruled

The "overrule" right of Superior Court judges offers many possibilites for injustice, if not tyranny. Since judges are under no obligation to establish or prove whether a given piece of evidence is true or false, they may simply overrule objections to evidence and thus a falsehood or mistake may become accepted as truth.

Imagine this scenario: a policeman or probation person gets up on the stand in a civil or family law matter (or presents a report) and asserts that you had a FIREARM or drugs in your possession once when arrested, for say, being intoxicated. Yet let us say you were arrested, but DID NOT have a gun nor drugs at the time and there is no additional charge for this, no sheriff's report etc. You and your attorney strongly object to this admission (a defense attorney may not even want you to object--and you have to fire him or her on the spot). Regardless of the actual truth, the judge has the power to overrule your objection and in effect introduces a falsehood into the record, which is now accepted as a "fact."

This happens quite often in fact. The facts become phucked. But since the judge has no requirement to prove anything to anyone (except to himself and others in the black gown posse), nor is he obligated to check the police report (assuming of course that the police report is correct...hah), the "facts" introduced into the court record may or may not be what actually happened. Yet the absurdity does not end there. If you lose at the trial court (maybe due to the introduced falsehoods) and then file an appeal, you cannot introduce new evidence at the appellate level showing these facts were wrong or mistaken--such introduction, though generally not granted anyways, was recently prohibited by a US Supreme Court decision. You may file a separate Writ of Habeas Corpus which may or may not be heard; in a civil case, you generally do not have this recourse.

At the appellate level, the judges generally are there to protect their fellow country club members, er, junior colleagues. Unless you are lucky enough to be granted a habeas corpus hearing, you can protest such bogus admissions all you want, and nothing will happen--that's the "law " of the land. As far as a Habeas Corpus or Petition for Review, the Lord Justices are not required to take ANY case, and if you are a day late with your filing....dem's da breaks, peasant. Years ago, when Grand Juries still had power over the judiciary, I imagine judges were far more reluctant to make any unconstitutional and/or unethical decisions, knowing that any lapse of judgment was likely to cost them their jobs. Since the county grand juries have been neutered (a few decades ago), certainly many judges have returned to the "off with their heads" style of courtroom procedure, especially in low profile cases, plea bargains, or backwater districts.

A much more scientific and logical court system is needed at all levels, with rigorous requirements for evidence and perhaps tribunals consisting of a panel of judges, psychologists, experts. etc. Shouldn't judges also possess have a great deal of psychological expertise since they are oftne making character assessments? Creating a special State Grand Jury--comprised say of academics, psychologists, reporters, citizens, etc.--to review the judiciary (superior, appeals, supreme courts)--would be a start. Take a look at the California supreme courts's record of denying review for a laugh--it's about 98% denial.

American judges are not scientists, nor are they usually ethical or logical. They are sort of petty aristocrats following the tradition--a mostly corrupt and privileged tradition--of the English barristers. At least we could make 'em wear a wig.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Wiccan: None of the Above

Whether they are fundamentalists or muslims, pagans or Catholics, “faithful” people continually argue and bicker over their respective belief systems and their rights. No one seems to argue, however, about the actual truth of these “faiths.” Are they all true? All aiming for the same spiritual goal? Obviously the Christians—-whether protestant or catholic--have the majority and the weight of tradition behind them, for better or worse. So their “faith” would appear to merit the term “religion,” whereas pagans who follow, say, Wotan, or Hecate or whatever are better termed a “cult”: the distinction seemingly a matter of how many sheep are in the fold.

It seems not to have occurred to any of these “faithful” humans (regardless if they are Baptist conservative-hypocrite types, muslim zealots aiming their prayers towards Mecca, or a small group of lesbian orgy gals chanting to the Moon Goddess) that there is no rational explanation or justification for their beliefs. Faith is not a method of proof. And no miracles have ever been confirmed (notwithstanding regular reports of, say, the Virgin of Guadalupe), nor are there any grounds for believing in occult or mystical phenomena. Jesus walking on water OR an all-seeing prophet such as Mohammed OR a moon goddess OR the zodiac are all, I assert, equally false.

We might agree that there are noble ethical truths expressed in religious texts; the Sermon on the Mount provides some decent rules for human conduct, even if we don’t subscribe to the belief system. Many reasonable humans would agree the Ten Commandments are in principle correct, I think; we might also respect Buddha’s teachings that “life is suffering.” Yet these ethical rules are not usually what is being debated. What is debated is who or what we should worship, what is the proper theological authority, what is the appropriate spiritual King that we should obey.

Instead of obeying some godly authority (which is, if we adhere to any reasonable, scientific viewpoint, at best a metaphor), however, we should obey reason, or rather base our actions and beliefs on reason and scientific thinking if possible. Your car does not operate courtesy of Jesus, the Buddha or Hecate; “Mohammed” has nothing to do with your computer. Wotan or Krishna do not make an appearance on the Periodic Table.

Obviously the Founding Fathers made sure that no particular faith would become the state religion, and no citizen is required to be a member of any church. We should recall that Founding Fathers such as Jefferson or Franklin or Washington did not subscribe to any organized form of Christianity; their ideas and thoughts being more molded by Enlightenment thought and Greek rationalism. That type of rationality is now, unfortunately, in short supply.

Prove me wrong.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Feminist Bureaucracy Rises at C-SUB

Cal State Bakersfield now features a Women and Gender Studies Department. That's rather amusing, especially considering that one of the most sexist and racist "professors" of C-SUB and of the Cal Skank bureaucracy is a member of the WGS faculty: its name rhymes with "Merry Dykowski." I am sure there are quite a few CSUB alumni who might attest to Professor Dykowski's irrational, domineering, anti-male classroom manner. The unstable, nearly hysterical Dykowski, who admits that she cannot do basic mathematics or logic (which are just part of the oppressive phallocracy, right?), has, notwithstanding her lack of basic analytical skills, forged herself quite a career as a literary parasite; one of her biggest and most profitable lies is that "all men are fascists" and that nazis were the embodiment of masculinity.

Queen Merry is known, among that union of little rhetoric-belching creeps and freaks who now make up the belle-lettrist biz, i.e., the MLA, as an "expert" in the writings of Virginia Woolf. Woolf was a mentally-ill writer who killed herself by putting stones in her jacket and jumping into a river, though she is now proclaimed as a great feminist icon. Woolf apparently hosted tea parties in some place termed Bloomsbury, and her guests included intellectuals such as Keynes and the philosophers GE Moore and Bertrand Russell. Unfortunately, the logical and scientific rigor that characterizes the writings of the economist Keynes and the philosopher Russell never penetrated Virginia's writing; instead of addressing the nature of probability or the theory of reference and meaning, Woolf instead wrote obscure, salacious novels about an aristocratic bisexual woman whom she lusted after in real life. Yet in the current academic milieu, Russell--whose Voltaire-like wit, and Apollonian reason and wisdom completely tower above the fuzzy, pop-Freudian rhetoric of Woolf--has been pretty much pushed to the side; instead it is the madwoman Woolf who represents Bloomsbury and indeed English civility and "rationalism."

Feminist scholars such as Dykowksi and the other parasites that make up the CSUB Women Studies Dept. also have no need for the logical rigor which characterized the works of men such as Keynes and Russell: researching the theory of probability or Zeno's paradoxes requires quite a bit more careful analysis and mental clarity then simply spewing out Sapphic fantasies or implying that "all men are fascists." Yet in the current academic climate of postmodernism, logic has been relegated strictly to a few corners of philosophy departments. In fact the typical feminist distrust of logic and science, and indeed even of the traditional empirical methodology of social sciences (how many fems. know what ANOVA is) leads them, more often than not, to hold beliefs and attitudes about men and about society which have no empirical support whatsoever; feminist "scholarship," if not most humanities scholarship, thus mainly consists of sweeping, vague generalizations, sometimes eloquent, but possessing no more truth than some redneck’s political and racial prejudices.

Though it's unlikely they could make it through the first paragraphs of "Of Grammatology", many feminists (such as Merry Dykowski) assume that Derrida, Lacan and crew justify their own lack of reason and evidence: "..there is no transcendental signifier, like, and reason and science are phallologocentric, just an oppressive discourse, and so we don't need any evidence for our claims." If feminists and postmodernists carried out their irrational hatred of logic and the products of logic, they would, to be consistent (though if you're in the po-mo biz consistency is not much of a concern) not drive cars, not use bridges, not use their computer (i.e. get off of the web, made up of phallocentric networking protocols and programming languages, sistah), and, indeed, never visit a doctor.

Yet the CSUB WGS Dept. will of course make use of the college website, and the faculty members--nearly all females--will commute to their state-funded offices and classrooms in their luxury cars, where they can teach classes chock-full of like-minded, hot-to-trot bisexual and lesbian women who think they are doing some deep thinking when reading Woolf's garbled, overgeneralized idiocy such as that found in "Three Guineas," or in attempting to explicate Dykowski's further mangling of reason and philosophy: all believers, if not acolytes, in the Liar's Church of Feminism.

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