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Are we too easily distracted?: While We’re Waiting

Spaceballs

Sports are a fantastic distraction from the problems of the world. Watching Lonnie Chisenhall develop slowly over his career into a legitimate star is fun and entertaining even if it is not going to directly affect many of the things that matter. Distractions are important too. They build community and camaraderie, which people need to have to help soften the divide once we get to the stickier important stuff in life.

One of the issues though is that people in general might too easily be distracted even on these topics. It is easier to run with a couple one-liners from someone who you generally agree rather than dive into a 49 page CBO report to figure out what is in the current AHCA plan- let alone formulate individual opinions on it. It is far easier to become distracted with a possible fake TIME magazine cover of Trump hanging at a golf course than it is to worry about potential Syrian chemical attacks or discuss expanding the nuclear energy capabilities of the country.

The biggest distraction of 2017 has been Russia. Well, there are a bunch of potential scary items about Russia that could well matter not only in the relations with the United States, but also how we conduct elections, and more. We need to be patient and wait for the detailed investigations to find that information. In the meantime, most in the media like to just glom onto the TMZ-style headlines though as they generate ratings- aka money. CNN producer’s have even admitted as much, and have been embroiled in a bunch of scandals due to it.

On the other side, the Washington Post had a three-person byline with dozens of sources on a long-form article that detailed the Obama White House handling of the Russia scandal more in depth than had been reported thus far. The article- with main sources being ex-staffers of that White House- was critical of President Obama, Republican leaders, and many other parties from August through December of 2016.1

Rather than focus on the partisan politics though, my mind keeps wandering to another distraction with potential real implications for the future. That being the cyber attacks that have continually appeared in nearly every phase of our lives over the past few years. ISIS has been able to hack into government websites in Ohio and Maryland to put threatening messages on their pages. Y!Mail has reported over a billion accounts compromised, British hospitals and FedEx (among others) were exploited with malware attacks. We even had the St. Louis Cardinals hacking the Houston Astros database to steal information ahead of MLB drafts, trade deadlines, and free agency periods.

A wise man once said “Evil will always triumph over good because good is dumb.” Whether or not that is true, the fact that our election machines were hooked up to the internet suggests we are not the brightest when it is well known how prevalent attacks have been. It would be simple enough to hook up the units one of many central intranet stations to load the information onto them, then return them for counting once the vote is completed. Instead, the machines were allowed direct connect access to the internet. What could go wrong? According to the Washington Post story, nothing went wrong on Election Day, but there were hacks and attacks in the months and weeks leading up to it (again, none is expected to have had any effect on actual votes tallied or have suppressed any voters).

Not that anyone should be surprised. We live in a world where Facebook admitted to running experiments on altering the emotional state of their users. It was recently uncovered that they also hold a patent that would allow them to secretly monitor users through their webcam (and again, the stated purpose would be to monitor and change your mood for their amusement- err, profit). Umm, about Mark Zuckerberg potentially running for POTUS and having access to the NSA…

Oh, right, the NSA is the organization that might be overstepping their bounds of protecting the country from terrorism by monitoring citizens without a warrant and developing high tech viruses. Not that the agency would let 50TB of data walk out the door. Oh? Yeah, that happened too. The latest wave of cyber attacks this week are thought to have originated from those files, which is why businesses are calling for the NSA to help fight them. Good thing that automated cars hooked up to the cloud is not a thing currently being developed.

Nevermind. I don’t want to think about everything wrong with a world. I need a distraction. Have you seen my baseball?

  1. If you are going to read anything political, this piece is the best by far for the level of reporting and the important details divulged. []

  • jpftribe
  • nj0

    True. Even if you say yes to suicide, it doesn’t follow that you have to say yes to government making it legal for someone to assist with one.

    One minor quibble though: I think there’s a difference between saying “the state doesn’t have the right to prevent a person from committing” (my words) and “every person has the right to take their own life” (your words).

  • mgbode

    Uh oh. Please guys, stay out of the Netherlands.

  • Garry_Owen

    Sure. My statement was an attempt to provide a “starting point” for a discussion of “rights,” from which the rest could proceed. It wasn’t related to anything you said.

  • nj0

    Don’t know. Don’t know. Yes, and yes. Whatever the cause(s), I stand by my summation: it’s pretty messed up.

  • mgbode

    Naw, I think you should try the sand wedge.

  • jpftribe

    I wish I had a brogue as eloquent.

  • Garry_Owen

    Good advice. Monty should have taken it in 1944.

  • nj0

    Ah, understood. Moral and ethical issues aside, my view is that it is basically impossible to enforce laws that prevent suicide. That being the case, I opt for pragmatic public policy that allows for it and makes it as safe as possible (“safe” as in avoiding/minimizing the risk of undue pain/suffering). Doing so would necessarily require the state to allow others to lend some level of assistance in the process. I accept this may be immoral and unethical.

  • nj0

    Not hot enough for me. Make it about global warming and maybe I’ll chime in.

  • CBiscuit

    I wish you would’ve AOL IM’d me this advice back in ’99.

  • jpftribe

    He’s too busy running the Cavs, so it’s still on “the list”.

  • mgbode

    what about people who might be suffering from depression? is that enough of a reason to assist their suicide? at what age do they get to take their own life? hormone imbalances of teenagers is quite a trip, for instance.

  • nj0

    So would you be comfortable with euthanasia being made legal, no strings, no need for terminal illness or any other bar to meet?

    I understand the concern about the state making those kinds of determination. Undoubtedly they’ll end up being arbitrary in one way or another. That said, I don’t know if the argument that the policy will be less than perfect is necessarily an argument that there should then be no policy, even with something as gravely serious as suicide.

  • Steve

    Maybe it’s far easier to say than implement, but require a doctor’s diagnosis, an actual medical professional, and not an agent of the state, of who is terminally ill, and will suffer a painful imminent death. We can treat depression, and it wont kill people by itself.

  • nj0

    As I see it: if someone wants to commit assisted suicide, they’d have to undergo some sort of medical review that would attempt to diagnose mental illnesses like depression and offer treatment options. People would be afforded every option to choose those other paths. If they say no, they say no. They can then find a physician who will assist them. Whether that physician will do so is on them. As for age, 18. Legal adult.

  • nj0

    Yes, this is a much more realistic approach allowing for euthanasia for the terminally ill. My craziness was the extreme “suicide for all” model, which – as horrible as it sounds – isn’t something I’m necessarily against.

  • nj0

    Jokes on you – there’s nobody running the Cavs.

  • Garry_Owen

    No. I am absolutely anti-suicide, and would have to draw the line against the state affirmatively endorsing it.

  • nj0

    You believe it to be morally and ethically wrong?

  • Garry_Owen

    And to be clear, euthanasia is categorically “homicide,” and a brand of homicide I could not support the state endorsing.

  • mgbode

    “If they say no, they say no.”

    As someone who has battled similar issues in the past, this is a dangerous statement. When you are in that state, there is no reason or logic at times behind how you might answer those questions.

  • mgbode

    terminally ill, and will suffer a painful imminent death

    While I struggle with the moral implications (and the ethical ones of how/where to draw that line), I certainly see the reasoning behind this allowance.

  • mgbode

    ledaero23 (from back in the day)

  • nj0

    Very true. I don’t necessarily advocate for such an extreme model, but I do think it should be legal for terminal ill. Problem is, to do that you have to provide some kind of protection for the physicians assisting in the process, which undoubtedly means some kind of oversight, which leads to a bureaucratic system (like the one I outlined) that has a ton of cracks and loopholes…. so I’m not sure what the answer is. How do you allow for a thing without promoting it?

  • Garry_Owen

    Stated simply (overly simply), yes.

  • nj0

    While we clearly disagree, I admire your conviction and civility. And please, don’t judge my moral relativism too harshly.

  • nj0

    I was hoping you’d say “no” just to see the line of reasoning behind it.

  • mgbode

    you have to make it an extreme option only and have some type of doctor peer review to ensure agreement on diagnosis.

    even then, you’d have those who want it more accepted using it as validation of it to justify more. it’s a tough subject with no clear answers.

  • Garry_Owen

    Likewise. And for the record, I don’t judge you at all.

  • nj0

    But even that, requiring a doctor review, is the state tacitly endorsing suicide which is a non-starter for many.

    If only we would have elected Hillary. I’m sure she would have had the answers.

  • jpftribe

    Myth. Market demand sets price, cost determines margin.

    I’m having a new roof put on my house by born and bred Ohioans. I’m paying less per sq ft than the roof on my Charlotte house done by a crew from Guatemala 15 years ago. Why? Because if you wanted your roof done after a catastrophic storm ripped through, that’s the price you pay and that was one of the best crews around. I have no idea what the crews are making, but I can tell you materials are less than 1/3rd of the cost.

  • mgbode

    I’m telling you, appoint me benevolent dictator. i won’t have all the answers, but i won’t pretend to have them either.

  • Saggy
  • Steve

    Talking head shows aren’t for reasoned discussion, they are for shouting at the idiot on the other side.

  • Steve

    But we don’t have a real budget at the national level. We can print more money, or take on debt, as jpf points out below.

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