Dumb

The clock is tick-tick-ticking off its judgments. Tick – stupid. Tick – Hey, stupid. It’s new. I bought it for six bucks at the local five-and-dime. La Virgen de Guadalupe smiles serenely from its face, held aloft by angels.

Black Swan, White Swan... Let's Call the Whole Thing Off

Formal logic might be the blackest of magics (and it makes for the most excruciating of reads). Just try figuring out the Black Swan Problem. Read a ton of obnoxious articles by formal logicians – who I imagine wear capes and brood in towers while they go about their dark art of turning language into math – without pushing your thumbs into your eyeballs until they pop.

Donald Duck: High Priest of the Illuminati

Conspiracy theorists are dreadfully thorough, but I guess most of them missed this one: Donald in Mathmagic Land, the 1959 Disney featurette starring Donald Duck which teaches us about the Pythagorean cult, the pentagram, the Fibonacci Sequence, and the Golden Ratio.

Jack Kirby And Comic Book Mysticism

You may not recognize the name Jack Kirby, but if you’ve ever argued with your friends over who gets to be Cyclops when you were playing X-Men in your backyard, then you’ve been touched by his creations.

Eye of the Skeptic

Those “I’m always right” types absolutely need faith, or else those vicious doubts start creeping in. Not only will you find faith in the religious mind, calling God a fact, you’ll also find it lurking in the atheist, saying He isn’t. Come to think of it, anyone who uses the word “fact” so easily must be pretty faithful, at least when it comes to their own nonsense.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Dumb -Infectiv

Originally published July 27, 2014 via infectiv.com

The clock is tick-tick-ticking off its judgments. Tick – stupid. Tick – Hey, stupid. 

It’s new. I bought it for six bucks at the local five-and-dime. La Virgen de Guadalupe smiles serenely from its face, held aloft by angels. There were two options: burgundy or black; but the black ones were misprints, stretched wide, turning La Virgen into La Gorda.

As I hung up the new prize, I told my wife about the apparent dumbing down of America that’s been going on behind our backs. I’d heard all about it while I waited in line.

“I just found out my kids don’t know how to read a clock. Had to teach them, myself,” said a round woman standing behind me while she studied the clock in my hands. “They’re in high school, for chrissake.”

I nodded sympathetically and put my purchase on the counter.

The cashier had been eavesdropping and piped in, “And they don’t know how to count back change, either. If the register messes up, they’re all, ‘What do I do? What do I do?’ ”

As I told the story to my wife, I mimed a panicking teenager, flailing my arms; coughing and sputtering. I set the clock onto the nail, stepped back and frowned. Off center.

“Lousy kids,” I said

(Read the Rest...)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Here We Go, Again!

Welcome to the brand-spanking-new, revamped, polished, licked clean Joshua Lee blog. Here you will find a complete index of my published articles.

Hire me. I have no artistic integrity, and will say almost anything to get that paycheck.

Hi-o!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cop-Killer: The Disturbing Trend of Anti-Police Sentiment -Infectiv

Originally published July 16, 2014 via infectiv.com

It’s been a little over a month since two anti-government radicals, Jared and Amanda Miller, shot and killed two police officers and one bystander in Las Vegas before one was killed and the other committed suicide. This wasn’t the result of a Mexican standoff, a wild car chase, or a government raid. Just two off-duty cops, enjoying lunch at a Cici’s Pizza and probably never guessing that they were sitting in the cross hairs of a pair of psychopaths armed with a number of handguns, one shotgun, and an unhealthy amount of extremist rhetoric.

If there had been some kind of summer-movie-style standoff – the Millers fighting heroically against a militarized police force – one would expect these two to be held up as martyrs for some cause by one anti-police group or another. But randomly killing two men as they enjoy some awful buffet pizza isn’t even on the same planet as heroic; and trying to imagine even the worst Alex Jones-type militant right-winger group supporting these two killers is a hard stretch.

But that’s exactly what happened.

According to Jason Sickles of Yahoo News, the Facebook page of Cop Block blew up with celebratory posts, including, “The good news is, there are two less police in the world.” These posts were later removed, but only after Yahoo contacted Facebook, who then intervened.

Cop Block is an advocacy group promoting “the education of individual rights through the dissemination of different viewpoints and tactics that seek to curtail the all-too-common rights-violations and unaccountability that today exists [in regards to law enforcement].”

Pete Eyre (co-founder of Cop Block) claims the group is opposed to violence. “There was blanket rejoicing over the deaths of two people and I don’t think that’s good in any situation. It didn’t fit Cop Block ideology. The site’s not an anti-police thing; it’s like a pro-personal empowerment site.”

Too bad one of its most popular blog entries is titled, “When Should You Shoot a Cop.
But they are by no means alone. According to a report released last week by the Southern Poverty Law Center, titled “War in the West: The Bundy Ranch Standoff,” there are over 1,000 anti-government extremist groups (including anti-law enforcement) currently active in the US, up from 150 in 2008. How they define “active” or label such groups isn’t exactly clear, but even if they are fudging numbers, the undeniable trend is apparent everywhere.

Faith in authority figures has eroded rapidly in recent years, especially since the Snowden revelations. Combine that with the recent windfall of marijuana supporters in the US, and a nervous, distrusting attitude toward our police force is to be expected.

Here in Albuquerque, NM, that attitude has developed into a palpable paranoia. Our local Police Department was investigated earlier this year by the the Department of Justice, who concluded that they have been using excessive force in their policing. This report followed public outcry after a video surfaced of officers shooting and killing an unarmed homeless man, the 23rd victim of a police shooting since 2010. At the protests which followed, I personally watched as they tear-gassed a group of peaceful protestors (children amongst them) while wearing body armor and gas masks, driving around in armored transports that looked like tanks. And just the other day it was reported that they’ve purchased 350 AR-15 rifles, a military-grade weapon, to arm their soldiers.. I mean, cops.

In a place like this, where a passing police cruiser marked “Armed Response Team” can give you some serious chills, the idea that the police are not to be trusted is an easy pill to swallow. But to stop the violence by throwing more violence on the fire is ridiculous.

If the Millers had actually set off some kind of successful revolution, I’m pretty sure it would have ended up with “meet the new boss, same as the old..”

Jared’s Facebook page was full of anti-cop and anti-authority rhetoric. He claimed to want freedom from a government that was trying to take all of his civil liberties away. I’m sure that if someone had described the police as “gun-toting, power-hungry fascists,” he would have agreed. The fact  that this description could easily be applied to he and his wife would probably go unnoticed, though.

I’m under the impression that the Millers were only concerned with the power given to our police, because they were jealous of that power. Murdering a stranger in the name of an ideology smacks of fascism, if you ask me; and I would imagine that these two crazies were only anti-fascist when it was the other side that had the guns.

Or, it could be another one of those classic cases where someone becomes the very thing they were fighting.

Either way, these two assholes have really managed to put a dark spot on the image of anyone opposed to the escalating militarization of the police. While they were at it, they managed to kill two men who were probably just trying to get through another shitty day at a shitty job. And all so they could play out their stupid control fantasies and pretend that they were the ones in power, for once.

But as the Great Bard, Kurt Vonnegut once said, “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Black Swan, White Swan... Let's Call The Whole Thing Off -Infectiv

Originally published July 10, 2014 via infectiv.com

Formal logic might be the blackest of magics (and it makes for the most excruciating of reads). Just try figuring out the Black Swan Problem. Read a ton of obnoxious articles by formal logicians – who I imagine wear capes and brood in towers while they go about their dark art of turning language into math – without pushing your thumbs into your eyeballs until they pop.
 
Good luck.

I’m pretty sure there’s some kind of contest going on where each of these schmucks tries to outdo the other by taking simple ideas and complicating the hell out of them with the smartest-sounding words they can find in a thesaurus. Whoever can turn a paragraph into 3000 words wins!
So here’s the incredibly easy concept that you won’t find anywhere in plain English:
Black Swan Problem:
  1. Dude sees a swan. Said swan is white.
  2. Dude says, “Oh, snap. I guess all swans are white.”
  3. Everyone agrees. All swans are white.
  4. But then I see a black swan.
  5. Dude looks like a dummy.
Black Swan Solution: Don’t be that dude.

This all apparently happened in real life when a Dutch sailor named Antonie Caen became the first European to catch sight of a black swan in 1636 near Shark Bay, Australia. Up until this point, there had been a common English idiom, “You’ll see a black swan before… ” which had roughly the same meaning as, “It’ll be a cold day in Hell when… ” 

Caen’s discovery, and the subsequent scientific legitimacy given by Dr. John Latham in 1790, killed the saying by stabbing it to death with irony. Now, a “black swan” had to be something we thought didn’t exist, but in fact did.

It would be like waking up one morning and being confronted by the front page of the newspaper – Scientists Discover Winged Pig in the Yucatan. I can already imagine the memes crowding Reddit.

(Read the rest...)