Having A “Normalcy Bias” Isn’t Abnormal; It Should Be…

If a presidential contender coming down an escalator announces to the world that he’s running for President because America needs a wall to keep out all the Mexican rapists — and everyone (after an initial burst of outrage) shrugs because they’re already consumed by that contender’s next outrage — somewhere inside that shrug was born their “Normalcy Bias”.  Calling Mexicans rapists went — within a sentence — from being an outrage to being… “normal”.

That’s just how Trump speaks, the MSM told us.  Racism?  No.   Poor word choice — yes.  And, just like that, the MSM had built absolute racism into its Normalcy Bias.  Racism was — IS — now completely legit.  Pussy-grabbing worked the exact same way.  A few moments of outrage tempered by the “timely” release of a Wikileaks dump — which, too, got NORMALIZED.  Shall we toss LYING onto the bonfire?

How quickly did the MSM normalized the fact that a president of the United States lied more reliably than he told the truth?  Though they knew what Trump was saying was a lie, still they continued to report each lie as if it WASN’T a lie and therefore had to be considered as possibly the truth.

Sorry, but a turd is a turd is a turd. Call it a “perfumed package” if you like or a “surprise” or even just “poo”.  It’s a turd.  It stinks.  It has to be cleaned up.  Making it “palatable” while making it “do-able” also makes it “palatable”.  Maybe it shouldn’t be.

What our MSM can’t seem to grasp is how badly THEY are being fooled every day by their own Normalcy Bias.  When, say, you know going into a (rare) press conference that the Press Secretary is going to lie to you — and then you LET HER LIE & (worse) let her GET AWAY WITH IT, you are further solidifying HER Normalcy Bias that she CAN get away with just about every time.  What’s the cost of lying?  Nothing.

Normalcy Bias is no one’s friend.   It’s comfort with what is even if “what is” is utter bullshit. Normalcy Bias is how that frog slowly gets boiled to death without ever realizing it.

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Movies I Adore: “Don’t Look Now”

Every now and then you have to quit bitching and moaning and shout your love for something. Being a filmmaker, movies have always “spoken to me”. I adore it as a form of storytelling. It’s so easy to get wrong. Soooooo easy.

But when a movie is right. It lives inside your head. It’s the storytelling and the look and the characters and the dialogue and the music and the casting and even the greens and set dec — it’s all sublime. There are lots of “directors” but only a handful of artists. I’ve had the pleasure of working with an artist — Bob Zemeckis.

In a way, Bob’s an “artist of the impossible”.

Bob was one of my Executive Producers when I did Tales From The Crypt for HBO. I wrote most of the episodes he directed. For starters, he is an incredible collaborator. He truly knows how to get the very best out of everyone he works with. Which is where the “impossible” comes in. At some point, in a Zemeckis piece, there’s going to be at least one shot that — if you’re looking and realize you’re watching it — is impossible. Meaning — yeah, the shot’s there in the movie but how the hell did they get it? It’s impossible!

When I was a young buck, a terrific documentary filmmaker I had the honor to know — Greg Shuker — turned me on to Nicolas Roeg’s “Don’t Look Now” — a psychological thriller starring Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland.

Don't Look NowI don’t want to give away a great ending but — that the ending works as effectively as it does, that it’s as memorable as it is — it’s a testament to the masterful work director Nic Roeg has done up till then.

Water plays heavily.  The color red, too.  Sutherland plays John, an art restorer preparing for a project he’s about to start in Venice, Italy.  He and Christie’s Laura own a farm out in the country where their two young children are playing on a rainy day.  Their young daughter drowns in the pond — something her father “senses”.  He rushes outside but too late.  He pulls her body — clad in its red mac — from the pond with a doleful wail.

It’s a few months later.  They’ve buried their child.  Their son is at boarding school as the restoration project in Venice begins.  On their first night, Laura and John make love (for the first time since their daughter died) then go out to dinner.  At the next table are two elderly English sisters.  One is blind.  They happen to be in the ladies’ room when Laura enters.

The blind sister is psychic.  She says she’s seen Laura and John’s daughter.  She was happy.  Laughing.  Laura is blown away.  She doesn’t know what to think.  But John — when Laura tells him — thinks it’s all nonsense and wishful thinking. 

And yet.  As the movie goes on, John begins to catch glimpses of a fleeing figure in red.  Is it the spirit of his daughter — or something else?

Roeg was a director of photography before sliding into the director’s chair.  His films look great.  He captures Venice’s wateriness — its dullness.  Its greyness and fog.  He captures the feeling one gets — being there — of wandering in circles — hopelessly lost.  But the Roeg’s real genius as a director was in how he cut.  He had a way of intercutting two scenes that no one else could touch.

An excellent example — the scene where John and Laura make love for that first time since their daughter’s death.  Roeg intercuts the sex — which is very intimate (there have always been stories that the sex between Christie and Sutherland was real) — with John and Laura, post-coital, get ready to go out for dinner.  You really get the feeling that they’re a couple — which makes the sex we keep intercutting back to feel more organic and real.

For my money, the sex scene in Don’t Look Now is one of the best 2 or 3 sex scenes in all of movie history (the caveat being that most sex scenes suck).  And — here’s the kicker — it’s between a married couple.  That’s a sex scene you never see — between married people.

Nic Roeg died a few months ago.  I still owe Greg Shuker — for introducing him to me.

Dear Christians: Stop Listening To Paul; Listen to JESUS Instead

It sucks that an atheist has to explain Christianity to Christians. But — the fact is — atheists have a perspective on Christianity that Christians intrinsically lack (and can never get). THIS atheist — having perspective — sees a distinct difference between Jesus (the supposed “inventor” of Christianity and “Christianity” (his supposed “invention”).

Oy. Where to begin…

Back in the 1985, Robert Funk (an American bible scholar) created The Jesus Seminar. Funk wanted to promote “biblical literacy” via a “historical-critical” approach that viewed Christian orthodoxy with extreme doubt. Funk wanted the Seminar (composed of about 50 critical-thinking biblical scholars and 100 lay people) to identify (if they could) and draw out a “historical Jesus” from the texts — a man apart from any mythos. While the Seminar was most active in the 1980’s and 1990’s, its work has continued up to today.

The Jesus Seminar concluded that (this is taken from Wikipedia’s page on the Seminar) —

The seminar also concluded that at best we can put a dozen to a dozen-and-a-half sayings into Jesus’ mouth — as things Jesus might have said (vs the self-referential things he almost certainly did not say because it would never have occurred to him).

That means that, effectively, most of what we think of as Christianity had nothing to do with Jesus — and everything to do with Paul who was the one person hard at work creating far-flung churches (among the goyim) made up of goyim. The overwhelming majority of the NT is Paul communicating with and building his church communities. And he’s mythologizing Jesus as he goes — converting “Historical Jesus” into Christian Church Jesus.

Real Jesus despised the “church” (in his world – the Temple authorities). Jesus’ whole message was “You don’t NEED a church to have a relationship with god”. Since that’s the case (according to the Jesus Seminar), then why on earth would Jesus advocate for the creation of a “church” to speak for him? It’s ludicrous on its surface.

Jesus preached a simple message — that’s why it’s endured. Simple & doable. Why, even a humble atheist can “do unto others” without contradicting themselves.

For “Christ’s sake” — following Jesus is incredibly simple (and rewarding). I bet following a church can’t hold a candle to it.

Sunday Sermon: The Inexplicable Power Of OOGA-BOOGA

I consider myself an aficionado of bullshit. I don’t “like” bullshit — but I do see how pervasive bullshit is. I see (having fallen for it myself to the point of nearly offing myself because of it) — how seductive bullshit is; I see how easily every last one of us can fall under its sway — and become its slaves.

Bullshit captures us and holds us because it appeals to the lazy, irrational, can’t-be-bothered-with-the-Truth lizard brain that epitomizes conservative mind-think. It sees a mystery — and, where the “gaps” are in its knowledge, it puts ooga-booga instead of a simple “I don’t know the answer to that yet”. It assumes magic must be the answer to what it doesn’t know. Ironically — if it waited five minutes (while someone curious went at the answer), they’d LEARN — it isn’t ooga-booga, it’s biology or chemistry or physics or some other natural explanation that simply needed to be stumbled over.

There’s a reason the religions of the world love to educate children — they can break a child’s capacity to think at the get-go and replace analytical thought with acceptance of mythology and ooga-booga. Did Life-As-We-Know-It begin in a singularity — or in the mind of a physically powerful but emotionally fragile deity?

If you don’t have microscopes or telescopes or celestial navigation or calculus or any of the other human innovations that gave us the TOOLS with which to replace ooga-booga explanations with REAL ones — you’ll give in to the ooga-booga because you don’t know any better. “KNOW” is the operative word here.

On this subject — quick side note here — I recommend this remarkable lecture by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Among other things he touches on naming rights (why do so many stars have Arabic names?)

The point of “naming rights” is that it reflects “discovery”. Being the “inventors” of celestial navigation — a human innovation that put a big chunk of ooga-booga to bed — Arabs (having no competition to consider) named the stars they identified — and fixed in the heavens & their mind — in the language they spoke: Arabic. It’s a great lecture — absolutely worth the time to watch. He touches on ooga-booga, too.

As Tyson articulately explains — even the greatest minds in science have given in to that old, (apparently) hard-wired-into-us urge to give in and fill in the gaps in our knowledge with ooga-booga and its bedmate Magical Thinking.

Those of us NOT beholden to ooga-booga must call out the ooga-booga for what it is whenever we see it. Maybe we should use the term “OOGA-BOOGA” to describe it — instead of “bullshit”.

Even calling it “bullshit” gives “ooga-booga” way too much credence.

If America’s Going To Heal Itself, FIRST, It Needs To Ditch The “Magical Thinking”

Believing in Magic is fun. It’s the deus ex machina side door out of anything hard and overly challenging. Like Life.

In the theater, it’s “god from machine” — an ending that doesn’t actually add up or make sense but — it was time.

It’s why religion proliferates still — even in the face of cold, hard facts that contradict it. Cold, hard facts aren’t nice. Facts aren’t in the “nice” businesses. They couldn’t give a rat’s ass whether you “like” them or not. Hell — “You” don’t even exist to them.

Facts just are. They’re a-political. They don’t ascribe to any particular faith. To look at them, and interpret them, you don’t need a church. You need a mind. When you refuse to use your mind, a church will quickly step in and do the thinking for you. But churches don’t base THEIR worldview on the world, they base it on their foundational texts — written kajillions of years ago by well-meaning but uninformed men.

If the scribes who wrote what eventually was assembled into the Pentateuch (the Old Testament) — including Genesis — had known that microbes and pathogens exist (therefore explaining sickness and disease) or that earth was NOT at the center of creation (in fact, we’re nowhere near it’s center — if there even is one), they would NOT have written the texts they wrote. Their texts would have been informed by their knowledge. It’s kinda how knowledge is supposed to work.

Instead of the “Book Of Genesis”, perhaps there’d be the “Book Of String Theory” or “The Book of Quantum Physics”.

If that were the case, there’d BE no Magical Thinking.

America has always been extremely friendly to Magical Thinking though. I’m sure it’s not a coincidence that a bunch of offshoot, whackadoodle religions were born here. You can think of Protestantism as an offshoot of Catholicism (and Christianity as an offshoot of Judaism), but what the hell is Scientology an offshoot of — other than Chicanery? At least Mormonism pretends to be an offshoot of Christianity (though it takes Christianity to crazy bullshit places even Paul would have called it “over the line” and “beyond anyone’s capacity to believe it”. I’m sorry — Jesus visited North America? Um, no — if he existed, he most certainly did NOT.

The reason nonsense like Mormonism & Scientology (and a host of other to-silly-to-speak-their-names beliefs) finds purchase here is that Americans have always had a “thing” for Magical Thinking. We believed, for instance, that not outlawing slavery in our foundational document — our Constitution — would work out for us. The Civil War and its aftermath says we got that wrong.

Magical Thinking starts early. We force it on every single kid. Some of it — sure, it’s endurable: fairy tales, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny… But the rest of it is just pure ignorant masquerading as something else. It’s what adults tell kids when they (the adults) don’t know the answer: it must be god. It must be ooga-booga. It must be MAGIC.

No — it’s not Magic. It’s NEVER Magic. Magic does not exist.

If a surgeon or pilot stepped out to say hello before getting down to work — and they said they had decided to forgo science today; instead they’ve placed the outcome of YOUR surgery or YOUR airplane journey in the hands of MAGIC (better hope it works!), I don’t think YOU would want them to continue.

There’s a reason.

Quick side note. I differentiate between “religion” and “spirituality”. I don’t equate spirituality with magic — though the relationship between them is fraught. Spirituality is awe. It’s wonder at what we don’t know yet. I also don’t necessarily equate magic with any religion’s core message — so long as the core message isn’t its magic. Take Jesus, for instance. One can laugh at Magical Thinking all while happily Doing Unto Others. You don’t need the magic to take a little good advice.

Every Day, I Feel More & More Hopeful; Here’s Why…

I’ll own it straight up: between a mood stabilizer & copious amounts of THC (we’re talking “COPIOUS”), I walk around most days in a state of perpetual bliss. But I do not, for two seconds, ever forget that I live in a shithole of a world. I live in the most fucked up times imaginable.

I live during World War Three.

Yeah — WWIII — I have a sneaking suspicion that, once the smoke has cleared, we’ll realize this whole experience has been a cyber war (or an disinformation war — same difference) being waged on us principally by Russia (but with “assists” from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and probably Israel, too).

What we thought was “just how life is” will turn out to be Historic. Historical. History On The Hoof. Lucky us.

But, just as things swing to the negative, they can’t stay there. Everything cycles. Nothing remains stagnant. Not for long in the great scheme of things. The swing back in the other direction is already a happening deal. The intensity of the swing back in our direction will be in direction relation to the swing in that direction.

Caveat — we don’t know yet how massive the swing was in “THAT” direction. We think it was bad. We have no idea how bad. We were swinging wildly toward outright authoritarianism. The Republican party has completely surrendered whatever ideals it had to just plain holding on to power for power’s sake.

Well — no power, no money — I imagine they saw it as a package deal. They weren’t wrong.

But the same reason the Republicans & conservatives felt compelled to cheat & even commit treason to hold onto power is the reason I feel hopeful: Demographics.

Republicans & conservatives fear America’s shifting demographics. While they tell themselves that THEY are American Exceptionalism, they’re dead wrong. America IS exceptional because of its diversity. Such diversity from so many cultures in one place — that never happened before on a grand scale (it did before in places like, say Baghdad from 800 – 1100 when, being an open city, ideas from all over flourished). Rome benefited from getting influences from its far-flung colonies. Growing diversity means extinction to a party of White Christian Men.

If not “extinction” then Zero Political Power. Ah! There’s the rub!

It comes down to political power. Who has it — and who’s acquiring it? The Culture of Old Christian White Men had it — and Everyone Else In America is in the process of acquiring it. That’s what’s happening all around us. Being as women and people of color make up a lot of that “Everyone Else” who’s been out of power, that spells the worst news imaginable for Old Christian White Men.

Trumpism is Republicanism is Conservatism. I’ve said here before and will say again. I KNOW what Progressives want — it’s right in our name: we want PROGRESS. We want people to “progress”. We want the most people to do the best they possibly can — and believe that will bring the most prosperity and happiness to the widest possible part of our population. It won’t be cheap. But investing in people almost always returns handsomely on that investment. It’s greed & conservatism that wants to gaze at the cash in its pocket — and screw the people.

Conservatism — as it’s name says — wants to “conserve”. Not what will be — but WHAT WAS. In the past. When White Christian Men were the alpha dogs and everyone else was their bitch. Conservatives want to conserve THAT. If I’m wrong, please correct me. What ARE conservatives trying to “conserve” if not the past?

The last election wasn’t “The Blue Wave”. It was the Blue Wave’s leading edge. Having tasted political power, more and more women and POC will step forward, run for office or just vote. The more Americans vote, the more progressive we are. Because we’re so diverse.

Even if the republicans “could” stifle the Mueller Report (they can’t), the numbers are completely against them. Women are already outraged at conservatism’s treatment of them. Just wait till the Jeffrey Epstein story really catches fire — and the Big Names he’s been protecting start getting aired.

Wanna see outrage & moral indignation?

I am hopeful BECAUSE so many women are so outraged. I am hopeful BECAUSE of their oral indignation.

I am hopeful because FINALLY America’s women — and our people of color — OUR DIVERSITY — are coming center stage and TAKING the political power they should have been given long, long ago.

2020 Will Be Different BECAUSE So Many Women Are Running

Our Main Stream News Media sure love a horse race. I guess it’s because horse races are easy to report. Who’s the favorite (according to the odds makers)? Who’re the jockeys? Then – when the race gets run — the winner is almost always easy to identify. A simple story for simple minds to tell.

But not all horses are the same. Some have no business running in races. And some will outclass any field they run in.

And some horses aren’t horses at all. They’re women.

Even as things that have never happened before happen, our MSM insists that these things have happened before. Presidents committing treason, for instance. Or so many women running for office and winning.

At present there are 5 Democratic women running. According to the Washington Post, there could conceivably be 11 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/01/09/11-democratic-women-who-could-run-for-president-in-2020-ranked/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.5dd174e9044a ) .

The lingering passion, among Democrats, is for a woman to get the nomination again. Whereas Hillary Clinton’s win was stolen from her, the next woman president won’t suffer that. It’s almost a guarantee. I pity the fool who even tries it. Women are on the come in American politics. They are transitioning from being “A” player to “THE” player.

Now — here’s what our MSM still doesn’t get: As women become more dominant in American political culture, they will directly impact that culture. Presently, American political culture is overwhelmingly “male” in its nature. Trump has taken it to a kind of perversely viagra-y extreme — like a painful erection that won’t go away and isn’t even capable of coming. It’s an erection for its own sake.

Trump epitomizes it especially when he says things like “I alone can fix it”. That is a supremely “MALE” thing to say. No woman would ever even think such a thing because her biology knows better. A women, pregnant with child, needs help. She needs help to carry her child, to bear her child and to raise her child. Yes, indeedy — it takes a village. Women know this. It directly impacts who they are, how they think, how they plan.

It directly impacts how women interact — with other women and with men. When women have to problem solve — that gets impacted too. They look around at the collective — the women nearby — the women going through the same sorts of things — and they seek both communion and council. They seek consensus. They seek a working relationship with the community that will assure both their safety and happiness and the safety and happiness of their children. Nothing, to a mother, is more important than that.

This is the organic result of having children begin their lives inside yours.

Men — for comparison’s sake — while capable of genuinely loving women — are designed to spread their seed far and wide. Think of it as “Flirt N Squirt”. That, too, impacts how WE think and behave — and practice politics.

Men don’t need anyone else to survive. We can, if we’re of a mind to, flirt n squirt till the day we die (or lose the capacity to flirt and/or squirt). That’s why only a man could even imagine saying “I alone can fix it”. Because a man thinks he can “be” or “accomplish anything” all by his lonesome.

He’s wrong, of course. Absolutely wrong.

With so many women running — not just for POTUS but for offices at every level — their way of thinking and doing things will impact the way we currently do things — the men’s way. Instead of male unilateral decision-making, we’ll shift toward female multi-lateral decision-making.

Here’s my other bet. Unless they’re forced to compete with men, women don’t naturally ‘dick measure’. Unlike men who love to break each others’ balls, women (though capable of cruelty) commune together. I would be shocked-as-hell if the lineup of Democratic women — as they debate each other — started dissing each other the way Donald Trump took off after every opponent he had.

Women won’t (my bet) stand there and snipe at each other like angry little boys. Because they aren’t — and never were.

My bet is that women have already changed our political culture profoundly. As usual, our Main Stream News Media are the last to get hip to it.