Saturday, October 31, 2020

Understanding America?

It was an enormous surprise 4 years ago when Trump was elected. Another surprise was that this was predicted by Michael Moore. Btw Moore is again warning not to count our chickens before they hatch.

What then arose was a need to explain this. After a little research I thought I had discovered reasonable explanations:
  1. The elephant curve, that middle America was either making no progress or going backwards economically. They were angry and voted for an angry outsider from the political establishment, Trump.
  2. The Democrat candidate, Hilary, was a pathetic self serving liberal who promoted identity politics and eschewed class politics.

At the time I felt Michael Hudson was on the right track in calling for a break up of the Democratic Party. His analysis, along with the late David Graeber, identified the central problem that both Parties were and are captive to Wall Street.

Over those four years as a casual, part time observer of American politics I felt those two explanations were sufficient to explain what was going on.

Four years later, is there a need to update this analysis? I have been searching and now think I know a little more.

Russia gate, based on flimsy evidence, was a failure of the Democrats to face the main reason why they lost, namely that their candidate and policies served the elite and would not improve the situation of middle America.

BLM is a race based movement with some legitimate claims but does not clearly identify the key issue in America, namely, the dire economic situation of the growing precariat.

China. Niall Ferguson, when interviewed by Coleman Hughes, identified the main good thing that Trump has done: clearly identified China as a real and growing danger to the world

Joe Biden is in cognitive decline and his political history shows he is either a scumbag (eg. with regard to the whistle blowers Snowden and Assange) or a non entity. The Democrats could have appointed a moderate reformer like Bernie Sanders. They chose not to which indicates they have learnt nothing new of value over the past 4 years.

The Lincoln Project, Republicans who are anti Trump, do make occasional entertaining videos but are dishonest in the way they promote Biden.

Institutions such as the New York Times and Universities have by and large been taken over by the woke movement who believe such things as:
  • Democrats lost last time because of Russian interference
  • Russia remains an existential threat to US democracy
  • Free speech has some importance but anti racism is far more important
  • Only fascists, nazis, white supremists, terrorists and racists support Trump
  • Assange belongs in prison because he helped Trump last time

Now the social media giants (twitter, facebook) have yielded to the pressure and are censoring their feed in support of Biden. The fearless, free press, where is it?

The culture war against a main stream media that has long stopped trying to tell the truth will have to go on whoever wins the election.

There are people in America, outside the main stream media, who make sense to me. I describe them as just informed citizens, of varying political allegiance, who have the blinkers off, are passionate about finding the truth and have growing numbers of supporters. Here are some of their names: Michael Hudson, Glen Loury, Coleman Hughes, John McWhorter, Glen Greenwald, Niall Ferguson, Matt Taibbi, Joe Rogan

The current choice, in the words of Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper, is between one bowl of shit and two bowls of shit. Coleman Hughes is supporting Joe Biden since he feels it might lead to a less deranged left wing as opposed to a more deranged left wing (if Trump wins). Take your pick.

If you think the above is on the right track and want to hear it better argued then watch this interview of Glen Greenwald by Joe Rogan:

Monday, October 05, 2020

Watch this video about George Floyd's death

Watch this video about George Floyd's death, to the end: George Floyd, the Law, and the Absolute Necessity of Due Process

update Oct 13
I wrote below, "if we base our knowledge on a brief snapshot combined with a blinkered or incomplete view of how the world works then we are bound to get it wrong"

Unfortunately, this is what I did. When I look again at the original bystander video it is very clear that Derek Chauvin callously rejected, for 4 minutes, the repeated advice of spectators after George Floyd lost consciousness. This is ignored in the pro cop video.

One of the spectators who identifies as having trained at the police academy repeatedly calls out (supported by other voices) he’s not resisting … you’re stopping his breathing … various comments about what sort of person Derek Chauvin is, your a bum etc … he’s not responding right now (after GF loses consciousness) … check his pulse … the man ain’t moving …. he’s not moving (in the middle of this Chauvin takes his hand out of his pocket and grabs his mace to threaten the spectators) …. get off his neck … you gonna let him kill that man (to the other police).

George Floyd is unconscious for 4 minutes before the ambulance arrives and then Chauvin takes his knee off Geoge Floyd's neck. Here is the link to the original bystander video: Full cell phone video of George Floyd Police Incident (complete video)

update Oct 6:
When I saw the original video I saw (along with the rest of the world) a callous cop, not threatened himself (hand in his pocket), brutally killing Floyd. But the new video shows the following:
  • cops doing their job by the book, including knee on the neck
  • knee being lifted at times by the cop
  • Floyd saying "I can't breathe" repeatedly before he had the knee on his neck
  • Floyd being continually uncooperative and acting as though he had taken something
  • Floyd admitting he was on drugs
  • Police calling ambulance twice
  • subsequent documentation that he had taken enough fentanyl to kill himself
  • much of this was hushed up for months

All of this has significant epistemological and political implications, eg. if we base our knowledge on a brief snapshot combined with a blinkered or incomplete view of how the world works then we are bound to get it wrong

The Hippocratic oath of activism: First educate yourself.

update Oct 8:
Read: George Floyd autopsy report, with cause of death and other factors

This comment at the YouTube site by Staff Reporter is consistent with my reading of the autopsy report:

This documentary does not go far enough and question why on the final autopsy, the hospital personnel inserted 2 chest tubes for drainage, a trach for breathing, 2 IO Catheters which are contraindicated for heart patients. Floyd had 4 major occlusions in his heart, 2 of which in the same blood vessel. He also had an IV Catheter taped to the left side of his groin and a needle puncture mark seeming to indicate that he died before they could make the incision to perform an angiogram for stent placements.

Also, his lungs were inflamed and edematous, because he had tested Covid positive and now we know hooping, which could mean he was shooting baskets or this can apparently mean he shoved crystal meth in his anus (ass), either in solid form or dissolved in water, resulting in a quick and intense high according to the urban dictionary. However, the final autopsy notes "the back, buttock and anus are unremarkable." Drug hooping can, but not always, result in irritation of the anus. Thus the benefit of the doubt goes to the officers.

There were no signs of asphyxiation, meaning no blood clots in the tissues, no petechiae hemorrhaging and no bruising. The neck and larynx were structurally intact as well.

Remember an hour and twenty four minutes passed from the time of the 911 call at 8:01 p.m. until the time of death was called at the hospital at 9:25 p.m. Clearly enough time to perform all of the above medical procedures and why they are documented in the final autopsy.

introductory scratch projects with a story theme

I've written an introductory course in Scratch multimedia / coding. I teach it to year 7s. After some experimentation and thought I realised I could have a short story as a feature of all the projects. ie. as well as teaching a technique or Scratch skill, use that skill in a story context. This makes things more engaging for a broader range of students.

1) Weird animals

Cat barks, dog meows then add a third animal that makes a weird animal sound

2) Fly around

Butterfly moves 5 times, makes a sound, changes costumes with a speech bubble at the end

3) Say something

Cat has two speech bubbles and text to speech then changes into a banana. This introduces the text to voice extension.

4) Rooster wakes up Frank

The rooster crows, changes costumes, pauses between costume changes, returns to original costume. Then sends a message to another sprite, Frank, who responds.

5) Cat glides to mouse

I made a cat glides to mouse game. Students have to make a remix and then find the mouse co-ordinates and type the correct x and y values into a glide block.

6) Teleport

Avery expresses a desire to teleport. Then her wish comes true. But after that the stage does some weird things.

7) Dance then add a sound

Choose one of the Dance characters since they have more moves. Your character dances to music, says something at the end. Then record and add your own voice. Finally, choose the Spotlight backdrop and program the Stage to make the lights change colour

8) Music

Use the music sprites since they have more variety in sound. Create multiple instruments playing random sounds together. Make the random number equal to the number of different notes in the instruments drop down box. The instruments grow and shrink too

9) Two player maze game

Put two different balls on the screen. One of them is steered by the arrow keys. The other is steered by the w,a,s and d keys. Then make a target object and build a simple maze for the two players to navigate through

10) Scribble

What sort of scribbler are you? Test it out on a blank sheet of paper!

Get the pen extension. Then put the pen down. Start with: pen size = 1, move random (50 to 100), pen color 1 to 100 (ROYGBIV) and turn (1 to 360) (full circle). Repeat lots of times.

Then randomise pen size and experiment with variations of moving randomly. See if you can produce more interesting scribble than the example shown!

11) Interactive Whirl

Twist the squirrel by moving the mouse. The squirrel feels pain if you twist too much!