Monday, September 12, 2016

Anger

by Madeleine Kando

I am angry. Angry is the perfect description of how I feel about Trump. I remember my high-school days when I was bullied beyond description, but had no recourses to protect myself from the continuous barrage of insults, intimidations, humiliation and abuse.

This is how I feel about the Trump phenomenon. I say ‘phenomenon’ because it is no longer this one disgusting individual that I am angry at. The root of my anger has kept pace with the spread of the disease. Like cancer, you first notice it in one small part of your body, so you can focus your anger on your left breast, but soon it has spread to your lungs and your kidneys.

Now it’s not just your breast that is worthy of your anger, it is the polls, TV, newspapers and the radio. There is so much time spent discussing, analyzing and ‘understanding’ the Trump beast, but I know deep down that these are all feeble attempts at rationalizing something that is pure evil. Like trying to understand what goes on in the mind of a murderer. Does it help? Not an iota. In fact, it is counter-productive.

What does help is ANGER! Anger is the only solution when someone is trying to destroy civil society. Don’t we realize what kind of monster we are facing? Are we too civil to respond with the only effective defense?

If you are faced with evil, the first line of defense is to call it by its name. Then, once you have done that, you have entered a zone where only you and your opponent matter. There are no ‘extenuating circumstances’. That is what Hillary Clinton doesn’t understand. You have to fight dirty and if the dirt smears off on you, so be it.

I’d rather have a dirty Hillary than a Trump as President. What about you? leave comment here Read more...

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Do Polls Shape Public Opinion?

By Madeleine Kando

Like many of you, I have been trying to make sense of the Trump phenomenon. How did we get to the point where almost half of the American voting public considers electing a buffoon as our next Commander in Chief?

There are many theories out there trying to explain this: 1. He speaks to the anger of many Americans who are disillusioned politically and suffer economically. 2. He fills a power vacuum in the Republican Party. 3.The sheer volume of media coverage has turned into a self-perpetuating cycle. Etc.

It is also possible that Trump’s incredible power of self-promotion has created the dreaded ‘feedback loop’. Political scientists point to a strong correlation between media coverage and a rise in the polls, especially early on in a campaign. And being chosen to participate in the primary debates also depends on where you stand in the polls. In other words, one step rests on the previous one, which has resulted in Trump’s mystifying success.

It also helps that he talks about every issue in vague terms, leaving room for interpretation of what he says to fit many foot sizes. His BS is an intentional maneuver to disorient and take the sails out of his opponents’ rebukes. He is a master strategist. Maybe it is true that he knows more about the military than the generals.

Unfortunately, the same feedback loop has also caused Hillary to get trapped in a negative spiral. Negative stories about her have been talked about over and over again, ad nauseam. Trump’s response to accusations is to not admit guilt, ignore the accusation and move on to something else.

The real problem with polling is that the results of the polls in one area affect people’s opinion in another part of the country. This is terrible. You get either a self-fulfilling or a self-defeating prophecy. In psychology they call it the ‘bandwagon effect’, when people do something primarily because other people are doing it, especially when they are uninformed.

Is it a coincidence that Trump’s current campaign manager is a pollling expert? Manipulating the ‘will of the people’ is Trump’s middle name, and he is incredibly good at it. He knows that polling not only measures public opinion, but also SHAPES it. leave comment here Read more...

Friday, September 9, 2016

DIVING

By Madeleine Kando
A Travel Journal

After a 6-hour flight from snowy Boston, I land at the airport in Belize City, sweating like a pig in my turtleneck sweater. It is quite a change from the huge hubs in the US; a small building with brightly colored walls where small, old men are having fast food dishes on the benches. I get my boarding pass for the plane that will take me to  Ambergris Caye.

Ambergris Caye is Belize's largest island, known for its scuba diving in the Barrier Reef with its famous 124 meter-deep Great Blue Hole. I have committed myself to a 7-day diving package at a five-star resort, where I will meet up with my daughter Aniko and my favorite niece Leah, both avid divers.

The plane finally arrives, about the size of a large car, I would say. The seats are made for midgets and they squeeze as many of us in as they can. Once the last passenger has wormed her way to the front into the co-pilot’s seat, the tiny wheels on this flying motorcycle start rattling and furiously turning as we gather speed.

Against all odds we are suddenly airborne. The view is magnificent; the ocean is blindingly blue. We fly over lagoons, large patches of algae and in about 20 minutes we approach San Pedro, the main town on the Cayes. Soon the wheels get slammed down with a loud clatter on the runway of a tiny airport, not much bigger than a backyard. Read more...

Accusing Hillary



 As long as this wretched campaign goes on, I have to keep participating in the debate and add my two-bits worth so as to impact the scale and hope to make a contribution to Clinton’s victory over Donald:

On Sept. 7, we saw Matt Lauer’s inept and unfair handling of the Clinton-Trump Commander-in-Chief Forum. He held Clinton’s feet to the fire, spending nearly half the time grilling her about her e-mails. On the other hand, he let Trump get away with major lies, including his denial of having supported the Iraq war.

The “Hillary-is-a-liar” has now become a cultural MEME with a life of its own, embraced by most of the media. It is out of control. It is hardly questioned any longer. When it is, as done for example by Paul Krugman on September 5, (see his “Hillary Clinton Gets Gored”), the questioner himself gets crucified.

But this knee-jerk prejudice is itself the biggest lie. As we showed a few weeks ago (Mirror, mirror on the Wall) Hillary Clinton is among the more truthful and honest politicians around. Read more...

Monday, September 5, 2016

Humanity's Future: the Next 25,000 years



 Dear People: This is to let you know that I have just published a new book, with the above title.

Here is part of the preface:
This book is an experiment. Like most people, I grew up on Star Trek in its many generations, Star Wars, and innumerable other science fiction materials, from optimistic classics such as Arthur C. Clarke’s and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 to a variety of apocalyptic prognoses. All of these are fairly specific.

What I have always wanted to do is write a general, comprehensive (pseudo-)history of the entire future, a total extrapolation of what we, humans, have been doing so far. I also wanted to give the story a positive twist, one that places us, humans, at the center, and which relies on US to be the solution rather than the problem. So this is it. An experiment, an attempt to describe the WHOLE picture. Ambitious and flawed, I’m sure. But pretty unique and provocative, I hope.

The story evolves from mundane, early 21st century contemporary politics to a cosmic apotheosis. The first chapters examine the struggles of current nation states, with a special focus on the United States. Presidential successions, immigration, the economy, the energy crisis, the war on terrorism, etc.
Read more...

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Why are some Countries good and some Bad at the Olympics?



No matter how much this is denied, most people probably link Olympic success with some sort of national, moral superiority. Medals equal national pride. Well, this is precisely the idea  which I will NOT touch with a ten-foot poll in the present article. What I DO want to do is offer some OTHER explanations, or at least correlates, of Olympic success and failure. This is pop sociology, speculation meant to draw your interest.

This year, once again, the usual countries dominated the medal count. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US has usually been dominant, with China rising as somewhat of a competitor in recent years. During the Cold War, the Soviets and their vassals (particularly East Germany) were in the forefront of the medal count, thanks to massive cheating.

At first, a country’s most obvious advantage seems to be a large population: The top eight countries in the overall medal count - the US, the UK, China, Russia, Germany, France, Japan and Italy - are all among the world’s twenty most populous nations. However, such rankings are unfair, as they do not take population size into account. Is China, with nearly a billion and a half people, not entitled to more medals than Grenada, with a population of 100,000? (There are fourteen thousand times as many Chinese as Grenadians!).
Read more...

Monday, August 22, 2016

Aetna Leaves Obamacare: A Public Option is the Answer



Aetna, one of the major insurance companies in the country, is pulling out of the Obamacare exchanges in 11 of the 15 states where it currently offers plans.

The reason the company gives, is that it is losing money selling insurance to individuals who are in need of more care than was anticipated. But some experts (including economist Paul Krugman) say that it is vindictiveness after antitrust authorities turned down a proposed merger between Aetna and Humana.

Now, why they are losing money is confusing. They say that there are not enough healthy people to financially offset those with major health problems who require high-cost care.

So, what happened to the ‘Individual Mandate’? Isn’t there a requirement that everybody gets health insurance or pay up to $2000 in penalty? (in 2017). Does it not get enforced? Are there too many exemptions? Wasn’t the whole point of the ACA to make health insurance cheaper and available to more Americans?

Whatever the reason, that means that over 800,000 people on the exchanges will have to look for alternatives and in some areas of the country, there isn’t much to choose from. You wonder how that can possibly be legal, that health insurance companies are allowed to stop providing coverage in the name of profit. Read more...