Critical Thinking, Feminism, Hillary Clinton, Politics, Science

What does Carl Sagan have to do with Hillary Clinton?

Re-upping this 2010 post from my now shuttered blog, Blue Lyon. The only edit I would make is to add this to the third paragraph: “See also the treatment of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election and its aftermath.” 

A Sunday Morning Reading: Carl Sagan, Science and Witchcraft

In The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (Ballantine Books, 1996), Carl Sagan stressed over and over again the need for science literacy, critical thinking and skepticism. We need not understand the finer points of each scientific discipline, but we need to understand the scientific method and how to apply it in our daily lives, as well as in our national and international policy-making.witch-torture

Sagan also argued that ignorance of what-came-before can set us up to commit the same errors in the here-and-now. Understanding the past is key to living in the present and planning for the future. To not know our history and our human propensity for unskeptical thinking  is to doom us to continually make the same mistakes, to never move forward, or worse, finish ourselves off as a species.

In Chapter 24, Science and Witchcraft, Sagan revisits the witch hunts of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries that consumed Europe and America.  The parallels in the following passage to today’s political environment are striking: Guantanamo, indefinite detention, military commissions-vs-civilian courts, National Day of Prayer, torture, the run up to the Iraq war, the prosecution of whistle-blowers, even the 2008 Democratic primaries.

Sagan appears prescient. He wasn’t. He was just aware of history.

If we do not  know what we’re capable of, we cannot appreciate measures taken to protect us from ourselves. I discussed the European witch mania in the alien abduction context; I hope the reader will forgive me for returning to it in its political context. It is an aperture to human self-knowledge. If we focus on what was considered acceptable evidence and a fair trial by the religious and secular authorities in the fifteenth-to-seventeenth century witch hunts, many of the novel and peculiar features of the eighteenth-century U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights become clear: including trial by jury, prohibitions against self-incrimination and against cruel and unusual punishment, freedom of speech and the press, due process, the balance of powers and the separation of church and state.Friedrich von Spee (pronounced “Shpay”) was a Jesuit priest who had the misfortune to hear the confessions of those accused of witchcraft in the German City of Würzburg (see Chapter 7). In 1631, he published Cautio Criminalis (Precautions for Prosecutors), which exposed the essence of the Church/State terrorism against the innocent. Before he was punished he died of the plague – as a parish priest serving the afflicted. Here is an except from his whistle-blowing book: Continue reading “What does Carl Sagan have to do with Hillary Clinton?”

Politics, The Commons

Net Neutrality Fight Continues

I cannot believe we are still fighting this bullshit. I wrote this eleven years ago on May 12, 2006 on my now-shuttered blog, Blue Lyon.

The telecoms want to create a tiered Internet where web page owners who can pay for speed will get faster loading pages, etc. Right now the Internet works much the same way that phone service works. We all pay our monthly charges and we all get the same service. You pick up the phone, dial the number, and voila! your call goes through at the same speed as George Bush’s or Paris Hilton’s. It doesn’t matter who you are or who you are calling.

Currently the same sort of system applies for web hosting. When we pay our monthly web hosting fee, it doesn’t matter who we are, what the content is on our pages or anything. My web page doesn’t load faster than Amazon.com’s, nor does their web site load faster than mine. Both load at the same speed. But, if the telecoms have their way, not only will we be paying for access to the web, owners of web site will ALSO be required to pay fees that will allow their pages to load quickly. If they can’t afford it, too bad. Their sites will be choked off. Even the big names on the Internet (Amazon.com, Google, etc) are against this, yet, it appears that our Congress Critters are in bed with the Telecoms. Click on the ad to the right. Learn more. Sign the petition to protect Net Neutrality, call your legislators.

July 12, 2017: DAY OF ACTION: SEN. WYDEN LEADS THE BATTLE FOR NET NEUTRALITY (Wired)

Without net neutrality rules, internet service providers ranging from home broadband companies like Comcast to wireless data providers like Verizon would be free to slow video streams, charge you extra to access particular content, or outright block you from visiting sites. Net neutrality advocates worry that this would be a huge blow to free expression online, as well as hamper innovation as smaller companies might have to shell out to large telcos to get their content seen by the public. Wyden echoes those concerns, and especially worries about the impact on small businesses in his state.

The FCC passed the current incarnation of its rules in early 2015, and it was immediately sued by the broadband industry. These days, the industry says it doesn’t mind net neutrality in and of itself, but opposes the part of the FCC’s Open Internet Order that reclassifies internet service providers as “Title II” common carriers, which means they’re regulated more like traditional telephone service providers.

The trouble with the industry’s argument is that thanks to a lawsuit that Verizon won against the FCC in 2014, the agency can’t enforce net neutrality rules without Title II reclassification. “It is the teeth behind the concept,” Wyden says. “And without it the companies aren’t going to do it. We’ve seen them use the legal process previously with court cases to try to get around what net neutrality is all about.”

#resist, Don't Agonize, Organize, Love and Kindness, Peace, Politics, Tolerance

Now comes the hard part

One week ago. I was there.

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This was the easy part.

Now we have to go home and organize in our own communities. We have to hang on to what we felt last Saturday, whether we were in Washington DC, at our local marches or just watching on television. We must remember the solidarity we felt, especially when the work gets hard or boring or someone pisses you off or when you think it should be done a different way or some person or committee screwed something  up or when it looks like we are going in twenty different directions and we can’t settle on a course of action.

Or. Or. Or.

And to be perfectly frank, I’m not worried about THEM dividing us. I’m worried about us taking care of that all by ourselves.

We are on the same side. Hold on to that. And be kind to each other. We need ALL of us. And if some of us aren’t as woke as others, if some of us put our foot in our mouth, if some of us are unintentionally oblivious, please, give us the benefit of the doubt.

There is so very much at stake.

 

 

 

Hate Won, Hillary Clinton, Politics

31. She can never clear herself.

digby-suffer

“A Sunday Morning Reading: Carl Sagan, Science and Witchcraft”

Originally posted on April 18, 2010 on my now-shuttered blog, Blue Lyon.  It still holds up. 

 

 

 

 

In The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (Ballantine Books, 1996), Carl Sagan stressed over and over again the need for science literacy, critical thinking and skepticism. We need not understand the finer points of each scientific discipline, but we need to understand the scientific method and how to apply it in our daily lives, as well as in our national and international policy-making.

Sagan also argued that ignorance of what-came-before can set us up to commit the same errors in the here-and-now. Understanding the past is key to living in the present and planning for the future. To not know our history and our human propensity for unskeptical thinking  is to doom us to continually make the same mistakes, to never move forward, or worse, finish ourselves off as a species.

In Chapter 24, Science and Witchcraft, Sagan revisits the witch hunts of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries that consumed Europe and America.  The parallels in the following passage to today’s political environment are striking: Guantanamo, indefinite detention, military commissions-vs-civilian courts, National Day of Prayer, torture, the run up to the Iraq war, the prosecution of whistle-blowers, even the 2008 Democratic primaries. Sagan appears prescient. He wasn’t. He was just aware of history.

If we do not  know what we’re capable of, we cannot appreciate measures taken to protect us from ourselves. I discussed the European witch mania in the alien abduction context; I hope the reader will forgive me for returning to it in its political context. It is an aperture to human self-knowledge. If we focus on what was considered acceptable evidence and a fair trial by the religious and secular authorities in the fifteenth-to-seventeenth century witch hunts, many of the novel and peculiar features of the eighteenth-century U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights become clear: including trial by jury, prohibitions against self-incrimination and against cruel and unusual punishment, freedom of speech and the press, due process, the balance of powers and the separation of church and state.

Friedrich von Spee (pronounced “Shpay”) was a Jesuit priest who had the misfortune to hear the confessions of those accused of witchcraft in the German City of Würzburg (see Chapter 7). In 1631, he published Cautio Criminalis (Precautions for Prosecutors), which exposed the essence of the Church/State terrorism against the innocent. Before he was punished he died of the plague – as a parish priest serving the afflicted. Here is an except from his whistle-blowing book: Continue reading “31. She can never clear herself.”