The White Flag


The Myth of Instant Gratification.
March 20, 2011, 4:30 pm
Filed under: Old Articles

People often cannot seem to find time for improvement and future planning. Instead, they devote their time to the current moment, to activities that are instantly gratifying. People do this for their happiness, but could it be that this is a farce?

If I spend all my extra money now on perishable goods I will not have attained the same amount of pleasure had I saved my money to buy an object of greater value that will sustain through time. For instance, buying things purely for the satisfaction they bring us now, such as high calorie beverages, sweets with refined sugar, and fast fatty foods, will lead to tooth decay, disease, and obesity. Whereas one could acquire more happiness by denying pleasures of excessive spending on goods of low worth now, to redirect that money and time toward a more satisfactory good, such as a new car, later. Or, that saved money could be utilized to prevent the stress of not having adequate funds to pay for an emergency expenditure, the avoidance of pain can be as satisfying as a car sometimes.

People that tell themselves they do not have the time to change their habits, or the world they live in, also tell themselves they have time to relax, and indulge in empty pleasures of the now. If hedonistic indulgence now is done with the intent of attaining happiness, I argue that a life time of happiness will surely exceed the fleeting bliss of the moment. To elaborate, choosing to go to college to work hard for a degree, and all the extra knowledge that comes along with it, instead of taking the less demanding route of the unstable job, will lead to a higher and more fulfilling happiness.

That is, a person with a job who avoids the “hard” work of school takes on the much more difficult challenge of struggling through life without a particular skill to call their own, making them tethered to whatever employer they find. On the other hand, a person with a degree (or another type of skill which they have earned through persistence) will have the freedom to go where they desire because their talent will always be useful. The person with a skill experiences less worry and struggles because their skill is a security, thus people who avoid skill building to avoid the hard labor it requires are, in actuality, burdening themselves with a much more challenging experience.

Humans have the ability to be rational, but to be human is not to act with reason. It is unreasonable to be expedient all the time. People who take short-cuts in their life are only doing a disservice to themselves, which is not rational because it is self-destructive. It is self-destructive because there are alternatives to expedient decision making that will lead to a better future. A rational being will act only with the intent of building their life to its highest potential, for a rational being realizes they are the only being capable of improving their own life.

Maximize your utility, use knowledge and reason to improve your life, instead of allowing desire to control it.

-The White Flag

United States

The assault on workers’ rights continues in Michigan. I cannot blame these governors, everyone knows their allegiance lies with corporations, that has been an American tradition since forever, and has served us especially well since 2008.
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“The state House and Senate Minority Leaders have already called for a state constitutional amendment protecting collective bargaining rights, but Michigan voters can bypass the legislature altogether and call for a constitutional amendment by petition and referendum.”

“In short, this means slightly over 300,000 signatures are required to place an amendment protecting workers’ rights on the ballot. Once the proposed amendment is on the ballot, a simple majority of the electorate can turn it into law.”

“As in Wisconsin, Michigan elected officials enjoy a safe haven period immediately after they take office — ‘a recall petition cannot be filed against an officer until the officer has performed the duties of the office to which elected for a period of 6 months during the current term of that office.’ ”

Of course Republicans are fighting Obama’s decision not to uphold DOMA (Defense of Mirrage Act), heterosexuals are superior to other sexual orientations, and many closed-minded people fought the hard fight to ensure the law reflects that attitude. As proud heterosexuals we must continue putting inferior Americans in their place.
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“Congressional Democrats introduced on Wednesday, March 16, legislation that repeals the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal law that bars the government from allowing same-sex couples to receive the same rights and benefits as a married man and woman.”

“Following Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement that the Obama administration would no longer defend the law in court, House Republicans moved quickly to condemn the action. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) called the administration’s position ‘regrettable.’ ”

“But that was the least of it. Far-right politicians such as former House speaker and perennial 2012 Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich went so far as to call for hearings on Obama’s impeachment if he did not continue to defend the law. Though he later said that his statement was distorted, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Arizona) told ThinkProgress that he would support hearings on Obama’s impeachment if he did not defend the law in court.”

Obama is committed to closing Guantanamo, but before doing so he has to open up a few more secret prisons where he will not have so many legal battles over indefinitely detaining people without a trial.
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“The Obama administration’s recent announcement that it would restart military commission proceedings at Guantanamo Bay is a huge disappointment to anyone who values a commitment to due process and the rule of law. The military commissions are a second tier, flawed system of justice that will only produce verdicts highly vulnerable to appellate challenge.”

“In May 2009, after already pledging to close Guantanamo within one year of taking office, he announced he would use both military commissions and civilian courts to prosecute terrorism suspects. The decision to use the military commission system, even if only in part, was bad then and it is bad now for a variety of reasons. But it is not new. What is new is the ease with which the administration is willing to hide behind recent congressional restrictions as an excuse for the failure to close Guantanamo and bring more terrorism suspects to justice.”

“The restrictions only bar the use of DOD funds. The administration can still use Department of Justice or Homeland Security funds for the same purpose. The restrictions also expire at the end of September so Obama should be laying the political groundwork to prevent their extension now.”

“During one Fox News interview [U.S. General David Petraeus] said, ‘Gitmo has caused us problems, there’s no question about it. I oversee a region in which the existence of Gitmo has been used by the enemy against us.’ ”

Civil Liberties

Sometimes it is okay to act with complete disregard for human life, and the rule of Law? If you ask the American Government the answer is often, “yes.”
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“Over the weekend, senior US state department spokesperson Phillip Crowley was forced to resign for saying the treatment of alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning was ‘ridiculous… counterproductive and stupid.’ His comments came after Manning claimed to be stripped naked and forced to parade in front of his guards and placed on ‘punitive’ suicide watch.”

“President Obama has backtracked on one of the first promises of his tenure. When he approved the continuation of the Guantánamo Bay detention camp this month, despite an earlier promise to close the controversial facility within a year of coming to office, Obama effectively endorsed the inhumane and degrading treatment of 172 terrorism suspects that must surely be tantamount to torture. In Afghanistan, an even larger detention centre at Bagram airbase, known as the ‘New Guantánamo’, was touted as an alternative to the Cuban naval base. Now it appears both will be in continuous operation into the foreseeable future.”

“For years, Amnesty International and several other rights groups have reported on the widespread use of torture at all levels of Pakistan’s law enforcement and security authorities, in neighbouring Afghanistan, and in every one of the countries used as rendition sites by Britain and the US.”

“ ‘Never once,’ said Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s leader for the first seven years after the September 11 attacks, did British authorities tell him not to torture terrorism suspects. He argues that the silence was tantamount to ‘tacit approval’ of what Pakistan security authorities were doing.”

“In last night’s programme, former CIA chief Michael Hayden justified the use of waterboarding on terrorism suspects, as one of the ‘heroic choices’ that unearthed a ‘treasure trove’ of information.”

Bradley Manning must be put on the most extreme suicidal watch because if he kills himself he will get away with upsetting our gracious rulers, as well as, exposing their war of its impotence and atrocities. Exposing the wrong doings of a nation should be punishable by death; like they say, let the punishment fit the crime!
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“There is no such need for the cruel mistreatment now reported as being practised on one of their own, the diminutive US private Bradley Manning.”

“Mr Manning is made to stand naked outside his cell this morning, and apparently on all future mornings. This is the culmination of a punitive regime which has gone on for 10 months under which, although untried and unconvicted, he is not allowed to sleep or exercise in his cell during the day, is denied any personal possessions and is barred from conversing with the guards.”

“Every five minutes he is required to answer that he is fit and, if he turns his face away while asleep, he is immediately forcibly woken up. In an Orwellian trick, this is dubbed “prevention of injury” for his own protection. When Manning finally protested, sarcastically, that he could no doubt injure himself with the boxer shorts which are all that he is left with at night, the boxer shorts, too, were taken away.”

The White House is considering proposing new legislation that would allow the government to monitor a person’s computer activity if that person is caught viewing, or downloading material protected under copyright. This law is extremely frightening because these copyright laws are most commonly broken by youth, who have no money, thus could not drive themselves to the mall to purchase this material if they desired too. Furthermore, this law could easily be abuse to secretly tap into American citizen’s computers after the unknowingly using a website that hosts illegal material.
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“A white paper recently published by the White House’s Office of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator urged Congress to make ‘illegal streaming’ of content a felony and allow law enforcement to wiretap those suspected of being involved in copyright infringement.”

“The white paper called on Congress ‘to ensure that DOJ and U.S. law enforcement agencies are able to effectively combat infringement involving new technology’ by clarifying that streaming unauthorized audio or video is a felony.”

Business

AT&T will open the gate for companies to end Internet freedom by making its access too costly. Business practices like this will end net neutrality whether laws are passed or not.
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“Starting May 2, AT&T will begin implementing monthly usage limits for its U-Verse and DSL users and charge $10 fees every time a customer exceeds the cap.”

“[…]DSL customers will have a 150GB monthly usage limit, while U-Verse subscribers will get 250GB. AT&T will impose the $10 fee for every 50GB over the limit a customer uses.”

“Other bandwidth-hungry online services include video streaming company Netflix, where three hours of HD video would use up all 150GB available to DSL customers; Nielsen ratings show that the average American watches a little over five hours of television every day. Video conferencing, file sharing, torrent downloads and watching 1080p-resolution HD videos on YouTube would also become difficult to do without racking up extra fees.”

“Rep. Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) also expressed his worry over the potential repercussions of AT&T’s usage caps. ‘I am concerned that charging more for increased usage would raise prices for some consumers and potentially lead to lower broadband adoption levels,’ Markey told The Hill. ‘This would undermine our broadband goals as outlined in the National Broadband Plan while undercutting our global competitiveness, and I will be closely monitoring this decision.’ ”

Health

If you are on a diet you should not be drinking soda pop, no, instead you should be drinking diet soda pop. It is soda made for folks on a diet!
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“Last month we reported on the dangers of many artificial sweeteners. Now a report links diet sodas to a 61% increase in strokes and heart attacks.”

Your brain needs exercise too!
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“In addition to cognitive challenges (such as taking a class, learning a new skill or even just doing some brain teasers), several studies concur that physical activity helps keep your mind sharp. Moderate activity has a positive impact on mental acuity, but cardiovascular workouts that really get your heart pumping seem to have the greatest effect. What’s more, an active lifestyle will have a long-lasting impact on your mental fitness.”

“One study found that even short bouts of physical activity in previously-sedentary seniors restored some of the brain loss that’s associated with aging.”

Dieting for your brain.
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“Your brain weighs just 3lbs or so – a fraction of overall body weight – but it gobbles up about 20 per cent of your daily calorie intake. A brain-healthy diet is essential for keeping your memory and intellect sharp and your mood buoyant.”

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