Archive for December, 2019

Culture Of Denial

December 14, 2019

“Philosophical skepticism is a philosophical school of thought that questions the possibility of certainty in knowledge.” (Wiki) The classic academic example is usually that of the 18thcentury Philosopher David Hume who used it to analyze cause and effect certainty. The example of two billiard balls colliding can be used. Analysis after the fact can generate a mathematical trajectory for each of the balls. But prior to their colliding? Reason relies on probability, high or low. The skeptical outlook is that prior to their striking we can never really know, with certainty, what will occur. There’s a whole lot more to it than that, but this is a simple blog posting. Over a half century ago French Philosopher Jacques Derrida introduced the analytic approach entitled Deconstruction. “Derrida’s approach consisted of conducting readings of texts looking for things that run counter to the intended meaning or structural unity of a particular text. The purpose of deconstruction is to show that the usage of language in a given text, and language as a whole, are irreducibly complex, unstable, or impossible.” (Wiki) This blog posting could be considered a text. Close scrutiny of its content can be used to show inconsistencies, particularly in meanings and usages of words, phrases, and concepts that may differ in spoken language as well as in meanings agreed to with either (spoken or written). There’s more to it than that. “In philosophy, empiricism is a theory that states that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience.” “Empiricism in the philosophy of science emphasizes evidence, especially as discovered in experiments. It is a fundamental part of the scientific method that all hypotheses and theories must be tested against observations of the natural world rather than resting solely on a priori reasoning, intuition, or revelation. Empiricism, often used by natural scientists, says that “knowledge is based on experience” and that “knowledge is tentative and probabilistic, subject to continued revision and falsification”. Empirical research, including experiments and validated measurement tools, guides the scientific method.” (Wiki) Deconstructing the just provided Wiki text on empiricism, one could easily inquire whether theories would need to be tested against observations of the unnatural world? Natural or unnatural observations? Except for Derrida’s, these philosophic insights, approaches, and methodologies are very old. Derrida’s deconstruction begs the question as to whether body cam and doorbell camera recordings are text? If not, then what are they? Likewise for audio recordings and digital records (more data!). Strange things occur when these various methodologies are mixed up in the everyday – deconstruction is used on empirical findings, skepticism is used to undermine inconvenient probabilities, etc. Video shows a young female reporter being touched on her behind by a passing charity fund run participant. He is arrested. Will his defense be that actual “cause and effect” cannot be proved from a deconstruction of the video since it doesn’t show her back side? Within hours of the abomination of the Sandy Hook massacre social media was already flooded with analysis skeptical of the veracity of the news reporting through deconstruction in the form of conspiracy theories. Journalistic accounts certainly are a kind of text. Is this a valid deconstruction? And what happens when reams of scientific research and study are treated as text and systematically deconstructed for commercial gain? We find this repeatedly with global warming, public health concerns such as addiction, gun violence, suicide, environmental conditions, etc. Now we find this fetid philosophic ratatouille en masse with the GOP’s defense of Dear Leader (no smoking gun with the Fifth Avenue doorbell cam video recording). And social/digital media, integral to the dissemination of knowledge with regards to all of these goings on, where is it? The ambiguity of being a “platform” helps it escape responsibility for any of it, virtual or real. Try deconstructing “platform.” Does something stand on it or hover? Can it be found anywhere or is it everywhere? What is the intended meaning? And what is the real meaning? What is not a “platform”? When complex, sophisticated philosophic methodologies are casually treated as internet “platforms”,  unchecked cross media intermingling mix ups occur. What are currently described as “conspiracy theories” grow and thrive in this philosophic incubator. Such a petri dish fosters and sustains the contemporary culture of denial.

ALEC Gets Religion

December 9, 2019

For the past 6 plus years Analysis has uncovered the ALEC template followed on many legislative bills run through Ohio’s house and senate. For those still unfamiliar with the history, mission, intent and reach of ALEC, Analysis recommends a brief visit with Wiki (“The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a nonprofit organization of conservative state legislators and private sector representatives who draft and share model state-level legislation for distribution among state governments in the United States.’). ALEC is derogatorily remembered for all the times state bill sponsors have forgotten to remove another state’s designation from the generic ALEC bill template. But now there’s a new sheriff in town. Readers may recall this blog’s 11-13-19 posting (Free Exercise Of Faith Democracy) and its coverage of HB164 (Ohio Student Religious Liberties Act) and SB 155 (informing about a procedure to reverse a chemically induced abortion). Reporting for The Guardian, 12-9-19, Jessica Glenza headlines: ‘An outright lie’: Ohio lawmaker shown to be linked to group pushing rightwing Christian bills. “An Ohio legislator who said he had “no knowledge” of a rightwing Christian bill mill called Project Blitz is, in fact, the co-chair of the state branch of an organization behind the campaign. The Ohio state representative Timothy Ginter sponsored a bill called the Student Religious Liberties Act. Opponents argued the bill would provide students with a religious exemption to facts, and would frighten teachers and school administrators into including religion in school functions. The Guardian revealed the bill was nearly identical to one promoted by Project Blitz, a state legislative project guided by three Christian right organizations, including the Congressional Prayer Caucus (CPC), WallBuilders and the ProFamily Legislators Conference. Project Blitz aims to promote and help pass conservative legislation across the US to fulfil its rightwing Christian agenda. When initially approached, Ginter told the Guardian in an email from a legislative aide that he had “no knowledge of ‘Project Blitz’ and has not been working with WallBuilders or the Congressional Prayer Caucus”. However, a screenshot shows Ginter was listed as the co-chair of the Ohio Prayer Caucus, the state chapter of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, as recently as January 2019. Ginter’s former chief of staff, Chris Albanese, is currently listed as the state director of the state chapter of CPC, Ohio Prayer Caucus.” Butt weight, there’s always more. “The Congressional Prayer Caucus also circulated an Ohio Prayer Proclamation. Among its signers are Ginter; the former representative Bill Hayes, who originally sponsored the bill; and the former House speaker Cliff Rosenberger. Rosenberger resigned in 2018 after a search warrant and subpoena revealed the FBI was investigating Rosenberger for corruption involving three payday lending representatives, according to the Dayton Daily News.” Analysis finds current Licking County Prosecutor and former State Representative Bill Hayes to be one and the same. Analysis finds all this to indicate that this successful methodology of influencing state legislation shows ALEC has gotten religion (or is it religion has gotten ALEC?).

Framed, The Continual Sequel

December 8, 2019

It is a made for TV movie. The characters may vary but the story line remains pretty much the same. Town inherits heirloom. Image is unsettling. Town patriarchs can’t bear to look. It doesn’t fit in with their promotion of utopian development (whatever). Yet without it the identity of the town is incomplete. The patriarchs’ solution? Put the heirloom in an ornate and extensive frame; the bigger and more elaborate, the better. The latest Newark Ohio episode of this sequel is the recent (12-5-19) “public forum” on what is termed “homelessness” (as though a “home” is something to be consumed). “Analytic Insight, hired to help the community determine how to reduce chronic homelessness, showed its initial findings Thursday night in a public forum hosted by United Way of Licking County at Career and Technology Education Centers of Licking County. The consultant presented some local opinions of the problem, resources available to help the homeless and plans for the remainder of the project, expected to wrap-up in late March. Another consultant, Luken Solutions, will analyze immediate needs for low-barrier shelters.” (Forum on homelessness in Licking County stirs emotions, criticism, Kent Mallett, Newark Advocate, 12-6-19) We’ve seen other sequels to this made for TV movie. Previous iterations of the unsettling image of Newark have been about the local meth and opioid epidemic, non-existence of local public transportation, paucity of local affordable housing as well as existing substandard housing stock, and hunger. The storyline is always the same. Something about the image disturbs. The town patriarchs covertly attempt to keep it from being part of the “welcome to Newark” brochure. So the answer to addressing the image, without which the town would be incomplete, while promoting the brochure is to very publicly frame the disturbing image. Consultants are hired. And more consultants on top of that. Studies are bought and paid for along with the consultant’s fee and retainer. In the end the disturbing image remains. When confronted, the patriarchs can point at the elaborate and extensive frame they’ve furnished at great expense. The story’s ending is rather predictable and somewhat anticlimactic. ““I’d like to have a busing service, a fixed-route busing service. Can’t afford it. There are things you can’t afford. You reach a balanced budget by saying no to things.”” (newly reelected Newark Mayor Jeff Hall quoted by Kent Mallett, The Advocate, 10-20-19). The affordability of being able to frame it? No problem.

Uncanny Prophet

December 1, 2019

uncanny |ˌənˈkanē| adjective: strange or mysterious, especially in an unsettling way

prophet |ˈpräfət| noun: a person who advocates or speaks in a visionary way about a new belief, cause, or theory

“The illusion of America as the earthly paradise, in which everyone recovers original goodness: which becomes in fact a curious idea that prosperity itself justifies everything, is a sign of goodness, is a carte blanche to continue to be prosperous in any way feasible … we are entitled to defend ourselves by any means whatever, without any limitation, and all the more so because what we are defending is our illusion of innocence.” (Thomas Merton, in a letter to Leslie Dewart, September 1962)