Thursday, February 28, 2013

Living Together

Ragnarist Individualism ~ Overview

Ragnarist individuals and systems seek to fabricate different forms of segregation, creating illusory categories that divide different elements of life against one another. As touched on in classification, this method is optimal for a sustained destruction of life because it allows for the destructive agent to target an isolated, weaker section, rather than all life. In more simple planetary terms, one species is easier to drive to extinction than the whole biosphere. In economic terms, one individual is easier to drive to homelessness, exposure, and starvation than a community of a hundred, a thousand, or eight billion.

"Western" human societies express this tendency in its strongest form through the idea of the "individual": a self-supporting, self-responsible unit of measurement underscoring all transactions. While vague allusions are made to shared responsibility and collective burdens, all professions, all law, all medicine, and all entertainment are centered around the individual; the single biological human unit.

Practical Implications for Housing

Zoom in a little, to the single human making life decisions. In western society--again, use America as the easy example--each person is solely responsible for that person's welfare and actions. A person may starve, thrive, kill, save, spend, and buy, by her- or himself. Criminal punishments and economic damages are levied against single persons; single identification numbers make a single person liable for taxes and other social responsibilities.

Operating within this context, the cleverest thing any given person can do is live with a partner. Why? Because housing is designed to exploit the idea of "individuals." The "elite" humans who control zoning, development, construction, and capital flows design entire societies around the individual. Sidewalks, meals, bikes, cars, apartments, condos, houses, and offices are designed primarily for one person, with occasional allowances to "couples" and "families." This creates ridiculous planned inefficiencies in resource usage for people who accept things as they are: when a young woman hits 18, she's expected to get her own apartment and provide for herself. A family home, formerly housing her plus two parents, suddenly has a vacant room, kitchen space, hallway space, bathroom space, etc., and the kid now pays for her "own" place, furnishing space and food and furniture for one. It's a fiscal nightmare that translates into massive profits for credit card companies, low-quality department stores, sexual abusers, vocational training schools, and other young-adult predators.

Everyone essentially understands some of the money aspects of this, which is why so many people find roommates, get married, or order the "extra large" pizza and share out slices, instead of everyone ordering their own personal pie. If you're into evolution, people have been hardwired since the inception of life to live together, sharing labor, protection, and comfort, and maximizing their returns from everything they do together. So when a society tries to destroy this, and turn people into isolated individuals, it takes a few thousand years--antilife is fighting against, say, millions of years of evolution.

Ergo "the family" is allowed. Cities carefully use zoning restrictions and fire codes to limit the numbers of people allowed to live within any given apartment or house ("single family residence" or "no more than two people a bedroom" being popular examples), but in America, those codes are generally not necessary, except on Indian reservations or in low income communities: social mores have already crushed into most Americans' brains the idea that they should be in charge of their own household.

Costs of Individualized Housing

The costs of single-, couple-, or family-limited housing are tremendous. Not only in terms of wasted space, but in terms of energy, food preparation, security, entertainment, and health, the single-unit residence is a calamitous extravagance. A nation filled with individuals and small family groups, each provisioning standalone walls, roofs, refrigerators, and front doors is a weak, fragmented nation, succumbing easily to elite divide-and-conquer tactics, such as recessions. The "I am independent; I have my own car!" American trope is being recognized by many as a mistake, compared to mass transportation, but individualized housing is a far greater nightmare than that, on par with individualized health insurance.

Space. So easy. How many hours a day is the kitchen counter used by one person, two people, or six? How many vacant hours does any given individual/family pay for the privilege of having that kitchen counter empty and unused? A private toilet, tub, or bed makes more sense, but--the garage? The guest room? The back staircase? The upstairs linen closet?

Energy. A house with more people is warmer, nach, but in winter, maintaining a warm house for X dollars of heating oil warms up everyone in the house. If ten people in ten apartments pay quantity 10X for their heating bills, ten people in one large apartment probably pay about quantity 2X. Same for air conditioning.

Health/Food. Who's going to finish the last of that 23 pound turkey? Who makes dinner tonight? Just like the extra-large pizza, or splitting stuff at a Chinese restaurant, individualized food preparation, or "having it your way," causes either massive proportional wastes in terms of preparation time and grocery bills, or decreased sanitation in terms of necessary storage time. Increased variety, e.g. health and enjoyment of life, comes either through being a rich yuppie dropping $80 every three days at Whole Foods, or being willing to split your organic squash-salmon quiche with three other people.

The health effects of a "community" are more profound, though less dollar-measurable, than anything else. The most individualized nations on Earth are the more depressed (diagnosed, drug-taking, and hidden) nations, and they're also the ones with more suicide, child-care costs, unsupervised violent kids, wacky middle-aged bachelors trying to ape the young, and lost, mournful, wandering elders with no one to talk to. Children are meant to be raised by a community, which is relatively easy to see; what is more difficult for most westerners to accept is that adults are meant to be raised by a community, too. Loss of access to the wisdom of elders, and the wisdom-outlets of juniors, is emotionally crippling to isolated individuals or closely-proximate families. It leads the very young and the very old to pet fetishism in search of child replacements, and the frantic middle-aged to fertility clinics, wedding planners, and excessive use of Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr, in desperate attempts to mimic the communities that millions of years of evolution have told them they need.

Not only in terms of reduced use of cigarettes, caffeine, alcohol and pharmaceuticals, but in the immeasurable costs of conversation, emotional security, heart-attack call response time, and peacefulness of life, does the individualization of housing destroy humans.

Security/Entertainment. So, who's gonna watch the place while you're on vacation? Feed the fish? Water the magnolias? Anyone wanna watch Batman? Gosh, I wish I could afford a 50 inch plasma. Oh crap, I forgot to pick up eggs. I wish Steve was here--he owns the DVD. What album was that from, again? Does this face look right to you?

Pitfalls

Obviously, there are a lot of nice things about the idea of shared living space. Even more obviously, there are a lot of awful things about it. Who put that red smear on my towel? Who left the quiche on the counter all night? No, you can't watch Top Gun right now; I'm sleeping!

They're all avoidable, and rather easily. There are ones you haven't guessed at, which pop up only when you get started doing it; we'll cover those, too, in the next segment, and explain how they can be easily fixed.

Then we'll talk about what the elites have in store if you figure out how to do it right. Finally, we'll conclude with how to keep under the radar, solve the community-building problems, and make it all work without getting Branched.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Worldbuilding ~ Wanna Play?

The occasional n00b, as well as fantastically rich, famous, and powerful creators, worldbuilds on the cheap with info-dumps at the beginnings of their tales. As Schulz parodied so well, it was a dark and stormy night. John Richton was a sexy millionaire with questionable behavior but strong inner morals who had a PhD in biochemistry and played the harpsichord and lived in a high-rise penthouse apartment with six girlfriends when he got the call from the President that he needed to save the world again from a team of reverse-secret narco-terrorists whose membership included a former bikini model upset with the mistreatment of animals in Uruguay and possessing secret inner doubts about their mission.

You'd think it would be painful, but, like, the Hogwart's express was red and Robert L. looked mysteriously like Tom Hanks and Katniss knew that the world of the future was a harsh and bitter place where the world was divided into twelve lawless districts and one affluent city where poverty was formally humorous and doesn't it prove how thoughtful we are because we know that when it's announced it's bad and yet they kept watching Survivor and bombing Pakistani kids on TV so obviously they didn't learn anything because they weren't supposed to.

...which is why bad worldbuilding is so vital to the Powers That Be. Persecuted Puritans fleeing the Church of England in search of freedom, brave white pioneers migrating westward in search of land and survival, regretful white slave-owners learning to live in harmony, and Islamofascist freedom haters, are necessary reagents in the story that has brought one place to where it is now.

Imagination, conduit art, builds the possible. If all you ever learn to understand is what you're told in an info-dump, you're unable to discern real, subtle worlds around you, as you travel through real life over the course of, say, decades, where plots are longer than 90 (sigh) or even 180 (gasp!) minutes. You can make people buy/read/watch anything, if they've been previously conditioned to possess only the patience necessary to be told, by a voice of narrative authority, what the world is and how it works.

But I digress. If you want to play, send me an e-mail, high dot arka, [at ] g-mayle DOT! com. Sender source will be protected, no player information will be released without the prior express e-mailed consent of that player, yada yada. Time commitment? Once a week, for about as long as it takes to read a blog post. Mass info will be sent in bcc format. Nothing will be published without prior e-mailed consent of all players, yada yada. All player/player interaction passes through the High Arka filter. Once you sign up, you get your character sheet, then your initial prompt.

Monday, February 25, 2013

ACRES Release: Prison Reform

Arken Counselling and REformation Services, Ltd. ("ACRES"), is aware of, and greatly concerned by, America's longtime status as the nation with the world's largest proportional and total prison population. It will please many of those ordinary citizens worried about social, economic, and educational reform that, once ACRES completes the lobbying process, we'll be proud to work with local governments nationwide to integrate our latest service, FacePrison.com (C) (TM) (R), with the nation's prisons (Unfortunately, "PrisonBook.com" was already taken by an opportunistic seller of actual "books," but our subsidiary, Arken Internet Domain Services, was able to place a claim on FacePrison).

At ACRES, our in-house, double-blind, peer-reviewed research has already proven the positive rehabilitation effects of near constant prisoner internet access and social networking usage on:

1) Inmate safety
2) Guard safety
3) Reduced facilities maintenance costs
4) Reduced water usage

"It's a lot more effective," said Dr. Gerald Quincy-Levine, lead researcher and past president of the American Psychiatric Confinement Association's eastern division, "to have a guard tell a client, 'hey, do you want your password voided for a couple days?' than it is to put them in the hole [solitary confinement ~ eds.] or simply resort to tasering or f--krooming [deliberately placing an inmate in confinement with known sexual predator(s) ~ eds.]. We've seen drastic drops in recidivism, and we think that CCA and the other major players will soon be copying our research."

Indeed, prison industry response to ACRES' venture has been positive so far, and our proposal for a "Phase III" received a standing ovation by last year's Bohemian Grove attendees, as well as delegates to the latest Transatlantic Conference on Neuropsychology.

Dr. Quincy-Levine was forthcoming about his hopes for the future: "[T]he strongest critics at the [event] asked things like, 'How much is this going to cost us?' and 'Won't they be able to,' you know, 'hack stuff if they're online?' But, frankly, the answer to both those questions is no [he means "to the second question" ~ eds.]. In close partnership with several Google-affiliated netsweeping programs, we were able to keep prisoners from accessing any non-preferred sites, and all the computers were running either Apple operating systems, or Windows 8 prototypes, so there's no way for an end user to access command functions or alter the way the computer operates. Basically, it's point and click."

Stunningly, our researchers found that inmate clients were "a little bit more happy" and "substantially more happy" with their prison experience after the introduction of FacePrison. Prisoners were able to update one another on work schedules and cell assignments, "like" one another's statuses, and receive banner messages from trustees, guards, wardens, and even an inspirational quote from the Governor Herself, when she was invited to ACRES' offices to review the program, and expressed interest in communicating directly with her State's prisoners. Online prisoner purchase models have also shown a dramatic upsurge potential in the non-prison economy, as well as a potential reduction in non-prison enforcement and city police and county sheriff monitoring costs for potential clients. Because of the positive results from these initial studies, ACRES feels that research in this area has a dynamic future for reducing crime in society as a whole.

Looking Forward
it's nice cause, cause, you don't gotta pay for internet and stuff.
-Anonymous Client 1
It's like facebook an' sh-t, only better, 'cause you know all the people you friends with, and you...see them every day.
-Anonymous Client 2

Most importantly, nearly all interviewees reported to our research team, and to associated members of the Federal Department of Corrections quality review delegation, that they felt "about the same," or were "a little bit more happy," about their lives in prison than their lives outside prison. The quotations above are only a small sampling of the positive inmate responses received directly by the team. In addition, inmates were asked to not "like" statuses unless they felt generally content and safe that day, resulting in a nearly 100% vote of confidence in the program. "You just can't deny what we're seeing from this data," said Rachel Frisch, PhD.

Although it will take time, and a great amount of study, to decide how to most effectively proceed, the evidence is impossible to ignore. In accordance with standards of scientific fairness, the results were forwarded to the federal government's Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and Citizen Emergency Relocation Assistance Service for further review.

(Many thanks to Pied Cow's recent George Will: Bleeding Heart Liberal.)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tax Theft 9

Succeeding Part 8.

Brief and easy. Remember the illusory fiscal cliff? Part 2 of the series touched on the estate tax, which information now needs to be adjusted for the latest congressional heist. The fiscal cliff show innocuously raised the estate tax exemption amount from $1 million per person to $5.25 million per person, and allows traditionally married couples to double that to $10.5 million. The estate tax rate was also lowered from 55% to 40%.

In the spirit of the series, besides the many other tricks the fiscal cliff job slid through, it used the excitement of the charade to get payroll tax dollars to socialize professional tax services, but only for elites. Millions of dollars in prorated congressional and staff salaries and benefits, millions of dollars of media time, and countless hours in public opportunity cost were spent by the tax base in order to subsidize a subtle, yet major, reduction in tax rates for the wealthiest Americans. Not the wealthiest "earners," but the actual wealthiest people.

At first blush, it seems like an obvious money grab: Congress just cut taxes on wealthy estates, right? That sounds bad enough. A small number of "progressive" observers have noted as much. But it's actually much, much nastier than that. Why? Because, even before the "fiscal cliff compromise," wealthy people were not paying estate tax anyway. There are so many ways to "get out" of estate tax that it could make your head spin. Really--get banged in the head by the thousands of pages of the I.R.C., and your head will spin, or at least feel like it.

So why is it so bad to reduce the rate when wealthy families weren't paying the estate tax anyway? Because, in order to not pay estate taxes, it cost those wealthy families a dozen thousand bucks or so to pay accountants or tax attorneys to set up the fantastical tax structures that would cause them to avoid the tax. Essentially, wealthy families would pay a firm ten grand to come up with a tax avoidance scheme, so that they wouldn't pay estate tax. The more money, the more complicated the scheme, and the more the fee. Churches, schools, and charitable structures were the pinnacle of these schemes, for the richest families (those in the Congressional range or above).

The fees, whatever they were, were a drop in the bucket for these multimillionaires and their families. What the fiscal cliff job really accomplished by raising the estate tax exemption amount, and lowering the rate, was to make it cheaper for the wealthy to go on not paying the tax. The tax wasn't going to be paid anyway--the entire fiscal cliff show just reduced the amount that it would cost in order to hire private firms to continue to avoid the pretend-estate-tax. It's not enough that elites get to hoard those obscene chunks of assets over generations; they're also spending prodigious sums of payroll deductions simply to make their avoidance a few thousand bucks cheaper.

If you're an American, would you like to mail Dianne Feinstein $450 to help pay H&R Block to prepare her 1040s this year? No? Well, you already did. And you just prepaid her accountant your share of $17,500, too, to make it easier for her ~$20 million publicly-declared holdings to stay in her family.

Continued in Tax Theft, Part 10.

~ You used ~

Chainsaws
Chainsaws
Always
Chainsaws

It didn't use to be this way. Grandma says, she does, back when she was little, it wasn't just a joke. You could rent them at the hardware store--you know, to clear the yard. Rent them for 19.99 for the day. It wasn't something to be funny about. Get a chainsaw, get your terrace-work done. Get a chainsaw, be responsible. Get the association off your back about those creeper vines. Get some exercise. It wasn't something to be funny about.

So I might be a little emotional about it. All the letters from the association, but they just don't rent chainsaws anymore. Grandma says they used to, back before what happened. At the hardware store down on fifteenth, even. Am I supposed to use those clippers, or maybe this big pair of scissors? Nobody likes using scissors on plants. It doesn't match, like trying to draw on a tree with a crayon. You need a chainsaw to clear creepers; I'm sure of it. Yard work, hard work, ties and rails, out at the farm, down at the shipyard. Wherever you need. Chainsaws, always chainsaws. Just press the button and the work is done, problem solved. That's what Grandma says. You used to be able to rent them.

It's like a meatloaf sandwich you find on the subway. 2AM, empty car, the seats are all white plastic cushions and the siding's all green, peeling off, you know, like it's been peeling for years and doesn't intend to go no further. Even if you pull. So there we were, sitting on the bench, me and Grandma, next to this old Jamaican guy. I knew he was Jamaican 'cause that's what his shirt said. And this sandwich, down there on the floor of the car, which was mostly empty--the car, not the sandwich--while we rattled past stops and the day just got longer. There's this meatloaf sandwich, hot and rich, on toasted panini, with russian dressing just spilling out the sides and avocado chips sitting on the plate next to it like they belongs there.

One of those nice plates, it was on. The kind of plates you get at restaurants where they can survive bein' dropped on the floor. Even the plate still looked hot. Ready to serve. The whole car smelled like meatloaf, and we were all eyein' that sandwich. Hadn't eat in come seven hours, by then. So, would you eat that sandwich? We know it's okay, because Grandma did, but back then, that day, we didn't know, and I didn't trust it, so I didn't.

Okay, it's nothing like the sandwich, but I wanted to talk about that sandwich. Grandma tried it. We thought it was from Luigi's, or maybe from the devil. Left there halfway through a delivery--by a carrier from Luigi's, probably, pretty certain about it, except why would it be on a plate and not in a bag?--and the car's empty, no bums, so all this time passes and no one ever eats it. But then Grandma sees it, and she's brave, 'cause she's from the old times. It looks real good, those bites, and halfway through she offered it to me and the Jamaican guy, but I wouldn't try none, and neither would he. Not even the chips. Grandma had it gone by our stop. She left the plate on the seat. That'll throw the next guy, right?

1968 Wilkes

Water withered leaves, good man--forget about the roots. Just grab the hose, and spray that flow, 'pon leaves, but not the shoots. Spit toward lofty mountains, glare down at your knees; buy shotguns for the gooks and ganders, harmoniously.

~Gravl Wilkes

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sinful Queers and Stupid Minorities Syndrome

Let's work on an epic story together. This one will be a fictional drama, beginning in the vicinity of the late 1970s. For this story, let's pretend that we're evil villains from, say, America, and that we care only about money.

Problems and Objectives

We've got problems. People are still pissed about the Vietnam War, and a bunch of blacks and Mexicans are growing up after that whole "Civil Rights" thing. It makes them think they should do more than just use public restrooms and vote and stuff.

Worse yet, along with Civil Rights for dark people came the perverts. With 1980 approaching, it becomes increasingly clear that we're not going to be able to consistently shame certain sexual behaviors in public.

On the international stage, Iran is really pissed about that operative we put in charge of their country. The one with the secret police and executions and torture prisons who stole all their natural resources to give to us. That's right, the "Shah." The Iranians actually want that stuff for themselves! And they have a lot of natural resources over there. If they get strong and ally with Russia or China, we might become slightly less rich.

It's like a perfect storm is brewing. What we need is a way to accomplish three objectives:

1) Weaken Iran;

2) Weaken domestic minority populations, and make the darkest of the minorities, blacks, look responsible for poisoning the planet with their evil African seed;

3) Make gross queers look evil and responsible for the destruction of mankind.

The problems we're going to face in this are:

1) We can't look like we're weakening Iran on purpose. It can't be "our fault." Someone else needs to do it.

2) We also can't look like we're trying to weaken our own domestic minority populations, especially after that whole Civil Rights thing. We definitely can't look like we're deliberately making "Africa" appear to be the source of the world's problems. When we make Africa look evil, it needs to seem innocuous.

3) We ultra, triple-definitely can't look like we're specifically targeting queers as bad. If possible, we have to look like we're helping them out, rather than pushing them down the stairs.

4) Money. Lastly, we have to PAY for all this stuff. We're already spending secret dozens of millions on stuff all the time, and it's getting really expensive with, like, Russia out there. So whatever we do needs to make some cash that nobody knows about (see 1-3 on "secret").

Weaken Iran and Make Money

So, we need to weaken Iran. Let's have that guy in Iraq do it--the one we put in charge there recently. We can give him chemical weapons and stuff so he really hurts Iran. But, we don't want Iran to entirely lose, or it won't be there later for new wars. So we need to help both sides. If we sell Iran weapons, it could make them strong enough to fight Iraq for a long time. Let's play both sides.

We can pick up some extra cash by selling more weapons to Iran. Stupid people think the weapons are for "our armed forces," so they won't question when we tax them to pay for building those weapons. Then we sell them to Iran, and it's like, "free money, party!" We can use that cash to fund other proxy wars if we need to.

Weakening Modern Urban Stuff, Like Minorities and Queers

How can we destroy minority communities, and yuppie gays, without it looking like it was our fault? It needs to be something they do themselves, but they'll need help. What we can do in our story is take our cash from selling those weapons to Iran, and use it to buy drugs from warlords in South America. We'll take those drugs to the U.S.A. and flood urban communities with them, so that all of those "free love" queers and annoying poor dark people will find themselves surrounded by highly armed, well-connected criminal gangs that encourage young dark people to use and deal drugs.

These won't just be the same coco leaves and other stuff that people have been growing and using for thousands of years just fine. We'll mix new drugs up in careful ways, load them with chemicals like cigarettes, and make sure that they are terrifically more addictive and harmful. We'll fry the coco leaves with baking soda if we fricking have to, so that it hits those dark brains differently than ever before.

Unexpected Bonuses

Then, let's have a twist! Things turn out even better for our heroes than we suppose. All the drugs start destroying the immune systems of their users. Amazingly enough, all that stuff we put in them is causing users to be less healthy overall, to lose their free, organic, all-natural, inborn immune system responses, and to get weird cancers and diseases that should've been wiped out already in the first-world. Blacks in inner cities are, like, poor and stuff, and don't have medical care, so they just die of weird diseases that nobody notices and that never make it into statistics because they're so irrelevant--if those black people don't get shot first by the Crips. But wealthier, whiter, party-going people have been using the drugs, too. (It's the 1980s now in our story, and we'll have all those potent recreational drugs start to weaken people and kill them off.) Millions of people are using these new drugs, so this will eventually be a big deal.

Obviously, we can't find fault with the drugs. For separate reasons, we can blame the drugs for everything EXCEPT hurting immune systems. We need to come up with something that we CAN blame the damaged immune systems for. So we'll blame GAYSEX. GAYSEX caused damaged immune systems all of a sudden. And sex in general is sorta guilty too, because gays are so dirty and horny they'll do EVERYONE. So they spread this condition to even straights. Young, party-going straights who have NON-MARRIED SEX are also partly responsible for this. Also, we have a population that is already worried about dark people--blacks, Mexicans, and stuff like that--having too much sex. MINORITIES are having too much sex also. And some of them are GAY.

It's settled, then. When people who are using these new recreational drugs start getting sick, we'll find one of the millions of kinds of passenger viruses that are already in a lot of people, and blame that thing.

We need a name for the damage that happens to people after they use the drugs. Let's call it something evocative--something that indicates that GAYSEX or just NON-MARITAL SEX is to be blamed...something like "gained" or "obtained" or...hm...no, our P.R. guy is out today, so let's just call it "SINFUL."

All right, Sinful. Sinful Queers, and Stupid Minorities, have given people this Syndrome. SQSMS! Rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? Too bad we didn't have a more clever-sounding name--something that sounded like a real word would be even better and catchier. But we'll stick with SQSMS.

Billions

The heroes of our new story are smart. When a few years have gone by, and the TVs and newspapers have started to notice the sick people, we'll take, like, hundreds of millions of dollars and give it to drug companies and research labs to investigate this mysterious phenomenon. They'll formally release to the public that "SQSMS," or "Sinful Queers and Stupid Minorities Syndrome," is responsible for all the bad stuff that happened. And then we'll spend hundreds of millions of more telling people that it is because of GAYSEX and HORNY MINORITIES that this "disease" has spread. Everyone will get really scared. We will predict that, because people are too horny and too gay, SQSMS will spread across the entire world and end humanity. So people will want to spend billions of dollars more on drug companies and research labs to cure this disease. Oh boy, our main characters are evil--and rich! And, we look like heroes the entire time, because we're fighting to save even those dirty gays and minorities from their condition!

In the meantime, remember those crazy Iranians and Iraqis that we gave all those weapons too? They're dangerous! Really dangerous! Now that we sold them all those weapons, we can actually use those weapons to justify attacking them. We'll start with Iraq and hold a major war. (I know, I know--just like the "drugs" and "SQSMS" part of our story, this sounds way too evil to believe. In the real world, no one would actually do things this malevolent, or try to kill and deceive people across the entire world. But this is only a movie plot.)

Setbacks

Then, another plot twist! Recreational drug use will peak in the late 1980s, but begin dropping off as too many DEA agents and cops actually do their jobs, and too many minority communities and gay groups react by educating people about the dangers of the new drugs. People stop using our drugs at such a high rate.

Amazingly, SQSMS rates start to DROP. It's completely weird how that happens. The rates just drop and drop and drop the lower recreational drug use gets, and suddenly, people start to think less about SQSMS. We make a major movie about it, blaming PUBLIC GAYSEX for the plight of the main character, who dies of SQSMS. It's a tear-jerker, but people still won't care about SQSMS as much as we'd like. It's not scaring them anymore as a worldwide deathkill epidemic. How are we going to make it look like this disease is an epidemic disease, which spreads by fluid transfer, and not just some lifestyle disease caused by using dangerous drugs?

Treatment

I gotta warn you--this next part of our story will seem to make completely no sense. It will seem almost too evil to believe. But it's just a fictional movie we're making, so we'll stick to our story.

Here's the next part of the story. In order to fight SQSMS, people need to have SQSMS. And people aren't getting it enough. So, what we'll do is give them SQSMS. As we know, SQSMS is caused by drugs that suppress the immune system. We need to find a way to destroy immune systems with drugs, but make it look like the drugs aren't responsible.

What drug should we use? How about a drug that was created for chemotherapy a few years ago? A drug that was classified as highly toxic years ago, that was designed for cancer treatment but not disseminated widely because it harmed the human immune system too much? That drug would be perfect. The evil villains in our movie will have an immensely wealthy, powerful drug company produce this drug, which we'll call something cool, like "Retro-Viola."

But how will we get people to take the drug, and actually catch SQSMS? Simple: remember how we blamed SQSMS on one of the millions of passenger viruses that so many millions upon millions of potential customers, I mean people, carry harmlessly, anyway? We'll start a national drive to test everyone for that virus. As our finest scientists have shown us, this virus came from Africa, created by great apes and transmitted to horny dark people. Those awful, horny minorities then transferred it to perverted gay people, who brought it to America. So it is both the fault of MINORITIES and GAYSEX. Anyway, the point is, we'll start to require that everyone be tested for the SQSMS virus. (The "positive" test will never actually SHOW the virus present, but any kind of evidence that lets us call the test positive is good enough to get them prescribed.) And a lot of those positive people will get scared, and start taking the new Retro-Viola drug. Then, this drug will destroy their immune systems, and after a few years, they'll have no immune systems left, and get SQSMS. This will prove, completely prove, that SQSMS is caused by a minority/gay virus, and not by drugs!

The Bad Guys

We need some bad guys for our movie. There will actually be characters in the United States--WHITE, UN-GAY characters--who will notice something really, really weird. They will notice that SQSMS never develops in Americans who have not either heavily used recreational drugs, or used immunosuppressant drugs like Retro-Viola. These bad guys will try to get people to stop taking drugs. They will even claim that there is no such thing as SQSMS--that SQSMS is not the fault of GAYSEX or HORNY BLACKS, but actually the fault of our drugs.

To make the bad guys look wrong, we'll need to find some people who have SQSMS-like conditions who haven't taken drugs. Even after years of searching, we can't find any in America. So, we'll blame Africa. When we can't find enough cases occurring in America among drug users, we'll go to Africa and claim there are a lot of cases there. Everyone knows that American sexual discipline, education, safe sex, condom use, and inherent reduced American sinfulness has caused American SQSMS rates to drop under the wise guidance of the AMA. However, those stupid horny Africans just won't listen, and they keep having unprotected sex. Not at all like responsible Americans.

But where will we find cases of SQSMS in Africa? Luckily, people in Africa die all the time of easily preventable diseases, because they don't have patented American vaccines. They still die of stuff like dysentery and TB, over there. So when they do, we'll just track those statistics and say they died of SQSMS. See? The Africans were responsible for it from the beginning, with their stupid monkeys and chimps, and now they're responsible for continuing it, what with their unsafe sexual practices! Problem solved!

Then, we'll get a bunch of people to be emotional about the Africans' plight. We'll get them to donate money to buy drugs to cure SQSMS in Africa. We'll feed those drugs to Africans and it'll be so emotional and stuff when drugged Africans finally develop some of the same SQSMS-related diseases that Americans have.

Naysayers

A lot of crazy (and DARK!) politicians in Africa have tried to keep American researchers from foisting drugs on their people. These crazy Africans have gone so far as to call SQSMS an "American conspiracy" and a "CIA conspiracy." But, African political leaders aren't to be trusted. Just like weird gay people in America who say that drug companies are trying to make a profit by creating deadly illnesses in order to justify drug sales. Those people aren't to be believed, because they don't understand how implausible it would be that someone could tell a lie to start a war or sell a drug.

Sigh. So many crazy people actually think our story is real. But we'll just make a nice, simple action-drama movie for people to enjoy.

1) Iran-Iraq War.

2) Iran-Contra affair.

3) CIA drug coordination--Dark Alliance.

4) DEA drug coordination--Powderburns.

5) Specific black targeting of cocaine/crack--From The Wilderness.

6) Gays and Canadians brought AIDS to Americans. Perverted gays just wouldn't change their lifestyles. Some delightful selections: "...the initial failure of the gay community to accept changes in life style allowed AIDS to rage out of control in the early years of the disease." And, "At one time, Gaeten had been what every man wanted from gay life,'' Mr. Shilts writes. ''By the time he died, he had become what every gay man feared." (Those stupid, horny queers! Look what they did to themselves! They think gay sex is okay! Well, we'll teach them.)

7) That stupid dark continent created the scary death epidemic disease of unending world destruction via queersex. Monkeys/Chimps create SIV/HIV.

8) AZT.

9) And, the indispensable Duesberg. The final piece in this particular puzzle. Reading his research twenty years ago was like reading Elliot Abrams' notes on how to make sure Iraq got invaded twice. Even if you're not into medical journals, his abstracts and Q&As are laystyle.

Updated with a couple more links:

10) Coalition of scientists ask for Robert Gallo's original research identifying HIV to be withdrawn, because his identification was faked.

11) A gay man shot Gianni Versace, also a gay man. The media went wild over the shooting, claiming that the shooter, Andrew Cunanan shot Versace because Cunanan had tested positive for HIV, and panicked over it. After Cunanan's body was tested again, he tested negative. The AIDS-related publicity suddenly vanished.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Star Wars Futures

(More SW Stuff. Racial slurs are used, unpleasantly and deliberately, to highlight the loathsome messages that Lucas slipped into the analyzed plots.)

So, what will the new Star Wars movies be about? Let's review what we know, and predict the future.

First Two Trilogies Specifics

Star Wars Plot Point 1: An evil empire of faceless white people pursues a wealthy princess from California through space. The goal of the empire is to expand the dominion of a single white man who talks about enjoying hatred and killing. The imperial soldiers call themselves by Nazi names, and their officers wear Nazi-styled uniforms.

Star Wars Lesson 1: You can tell evil people by their similarities in speech, dress, and manner to evil people from the past. Evil people wear dark colors, and are always really obvious about being evil.

Dangerous Tidbit Inside SWL1: Evil people and evil empires are not always, or even at all, identifiable by their similarities in speech, dress, or manner to evil people from the past. Evil people accomplish evil things by pretending to be nice. They talk about humanitarian intervention and they lament collateral damage. People conditioned by Star Wars to see evil as obvious are often unable to identify as "evil" evil actions perpetrated by tyrants or stormtroopers who talk about human rights and justice, rather than about tyranny and hatred.

Art-specific Lucas Issue Inside SWl1: Politics aside--on a personal level, George Lucas is obsessed with two things in life. Firstly, Nazis. Secondly, being reincarnated as Harrison Ford. Try as he might, he cannot get over the desire to be as ruggedly handsome and sexually vital as Indiana Solo. And try as he doesn't, does he care even the tiniest bit about the dozens of millions dead in Stalin's gulags, the millions of victims of Maoist China, the napalmed children of the Vietnam War (happening right as he finished up his script for A New Hope), the Filipino bone piles of the Spanish-American War, the American Indian genocide, or any of that? No, but with his every breath, he will take care to remind the world that Adolf Hitler, the most widely-agreed-upon figure of evil in the history of mankind, is bad. So his heroes have to fight Nazis across ten movies, and to hell with the rest of the world. And of course, the wealthy, powerful heiress to an acting and producing family is the natural choice to play a young, vulnerable rebel.

Star Wars Plot Point 2: The rich princess faces capture by the Nazis. Her only hope lies in a wise British man who has lordship over a patch of sandy desert on a nearby planet. She stores vital information about the empire's ultimate weapon--the Death Star--in a robot, and the robot escapes to the planet. The robot is found by some dirty, scuzzy, physically stunted desert people in robes, who sell it to a young man with an American accent. Attracted by a picture of the princess, he goes for advice to the wise British man. En route, he is attacked by a different set of desert men, called "Tusken Raiders," who are violent and territorial and try to kill him without any provocation whatsoever. The wise British man long ago learned secrets of Oriental fighting, and he offers to teach the boy these secrets.

Star Wars Historical Aside: If rich princesses get in trouble, it is the duty of British and American people to help them out in deserts.

Star Wars Lesson 2: Wise British men know the secrets of the universe. Deserts are often filled with worthless, untrustworthy scavengers. Most desert people and desert clothing are filthy and stunted. If they're not that, then they are tribal, irrational, and violent, and need to be killed to live safely in the desert.

Dangerous Tidbit Inside SWL2: Wise British men may know the secrets of the universe, but they are not the best source for East Asian history and culture. This will come as a surprise to George Lucas, and many, many Englishmen and Americans, but even after centuries of raping China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and the rest of the Far East, the British and American empires are not (gasp!) the best sources of information on Asian culture. Ascribing stunted versions of eastern philosophy to a white nobleman, and passing "the Force" down through blood, westerner to westerner, is a tidy way of rewriting history.

Worse than replacing Asians with whites is the treatment offered Africans in the first Star Wars movie. The dirty, untrustworthy Jawas of the Sahara desert try to sell a broken droid to Luke. They are cruel to the droids they capture, and they are a society of parasites, living only off of the hard work of others. This is the "lazy darkie" American view of slavery-era African-Americans. It could be a coincidence, but Lucas' "bad desert people" trend continues throughout all of his work.

The Tusken Raiders are the extra-bad Africans. Like Lucas' Jawas, they live in the sandy deserts of Africa, wrapped in robes, violently raiding the settlements where decent people live. They're "the sand people," and both innocent Luke and worldly Ben Kenobi know that they are dangerous. They're easily frightened, though. (Later, in Episode III, we find out they are also into BSDM-rape of brunette white women. In fact, it was the vulgar sandy-desert people that created Darth Vader in the first place; he was just trying to protect his mother from their horny lust for white women. See Ep. II!)

Lucas used the Jawas and the Tusken Raiders to send a message about the backward, violent, extermination-warranting nature of Africans, in particular Muslims and Arabs. Americans find Saharan-style desert clothing exotic and fearful, courtesy the endless, ongoing Crusades to massacre those damned dirty sand people who live in Jerusalem.

Real African people might wear loose, billowy desert clothing to allow them to shed layers during hot daytime, then easily replace them during cool nights. They might wrap their mouths and hair against blowing sand, to help them in breathing. However, to Americans, wrapping your face can make someone seem shifty; wrap your face in a cloth wrap, and suddenly you're an oil tycoon sheik or a Taliban member. Lucas loved the opportunity of showing how decent, white, blond-haired, blue-eyed Luke Skywalker lived in the middle of the desert without needing such clothing, but how the backward, violent, disgusting Jawa and Tusken peoples wore African-style clothing.

A black character does appear in the second movie (Billy Dee Williams = Lando Calrissian), proving that Lucas' hero has a black friend. Granted, the black friend is a dirty traitor who sold everyone out for money, but he eventually figures things out.

Art-specific Lucas Issue Inside SWl2: Jesus, Lucas, how likely is it that an entire culture of Jawas could exist doing nothing except selling androids that fall safely from the nearby solar system during space battles? Even in a solar system where there are a lot of space battles (not the boring backwater 'burg the main character says the planet is), how many Jawas does it feed, selling one or two used droids per week to poor moisture farmers? And that's if those droids fell from space, survived the impact, and landed on the tiny percentage of the entire planet that your tribe of Jawas had to constantly search for fallen pieces of usable hardware.

Star Wars Plot Point 3: The Trade Federation, composed of babbling simpletons with a fishy appearance, blockades a lush, wealthy planet in response to a tariff dispute. Another princess (but an elected one, this time) attempts to oppose the tariff, but the democratic legislative body decides to further investigate the issue, so she is forced to start a war with the greedy Federation. (As before, Lucas casts his favorite heroine-type: a rich Jewish girl with strong Hollywood connections.)

Star Wars Lesson 3: Beware weird-talking, Japanese-like, sushi-eating fish creatures.

Dangerous Tidbit Inside SWL3: Despite the only attempted Asian representation inside the franchise up until The Phantom Menace, all Japanese and/or Asian people are not bad. Even if the Dutch East India Company sent knights back to Britain armed with superior knowledge of East Asian culture, the Asian people remaining behind are not all bad. The babbling fish-people of Lucas' Trade Federation, dropping the letter "r" and using exaggerated Asian-American accents, fit neatly in with his Nazi obsession, when it came time to write his second ("first") trilogy. Lucas had to mock Japanese because the Third Reich had Imperial Japan as an early ally, so obviously, the Evil Space Nazis needed to have Stupid Space-Nip Allies behind their buildup. He made them interested in "trade" because he was conceiving of the story during America's (and California's) racist 1990s fears that Japanese companies were buying too much real estate in America.

Art-specific Lucas Issue Inside SWl3: How many silly, childish accents can you pack into one franchise? Apparently, the number approaches infinity. Also, even Star Trek paid jobless linguistics PhDs to make up dialogue consisting of foreign space-languages. Except for a few derivative Spanglish lines from "Jabba the Hutt," Lucas didn't figure that one out until 1999.

Star Wars Plot Point 4: Before each movie, the good guys and bad guys are announced, and battles are promised.

Star Wars Lesson 4: Fighting is cool because it is cool. If someone is bad, you fight them without thinking about why.

Dangerous Tidbit Inside SWL4: Fighting is cool because it is cool. If someone is bad, you fight them without thinking about why.

That one should be obviously bad, but with a generation of Americans and many millions of others worldwide raised on the Star Wars franchise--succeeded by a generation raised on the equally vapid, blunt, "declared good against declared evil" Harry Potter franchise (also straight out of Anglo-America-land)--it is little surprise that when the Prez'dent and/or Prime Mini'stuh says someone is bad, most people are unable to think anything other than "fight." American country music's similarly trite "Let's Roll" gets bad press, but the reverse-stigmatizing effect of Star Wars and Harry Potter of unthinking violence has a far deeper impact on children's minds. Violence can be good, great, fun, and exciting, and maybe even honorable and necessary, but violence without thinking about why, because the opening credits tell you so, is exactly the kind of message that Lucas wanted to send.

The heroes in the first three Star Wars films never explain why they're against the Empire. The slightest moral dilemma is never expressed. The only potentially evil thing the Empire ever does during the trilogy is blowing up Alderaan with the Death Star, after a prominent politician and insurgent operative from Alderaan, with the support of Alderaan's political structure, steals the designs for a weapon housing several thousand Imperials, planning to bring them to a rebel organization dedicated to attacking and destroying the Empire. They also give the wealthy princess-prisoner the opportunity to reveal a true military target, but she lies, and Alderaan is blown up. Since we already know the Empire is bad from the credits, and since it calls itself an "empire" and its officers speak by rolling their r's like filthy Germans or Hispanics, we know the Empire is bad, so we don't need to worry about the relative morality of different forms of destruction during open war. Even Clerks addressed the morality issue; Lucas couldn't be bothered, because he had krauts and sand-niggers and japs to slur.

Star Wars Plot Point 5: To destroy the Old Republic, Count Dooku travels to a desert planet far from the capital, where a hive of ugly, brown insect men help him build an army to overthrow the government.

Star Wars Lesson 5: To destroy democracy, white people collaborate with dark people from dusty desert planets. These dark people may be affected by notions of collectivism.

Dangerous Tidbit Inside SWL5: Democracy, or any kind of government, can actually be upset without help from dangerous people from dusty desert planets. And, contrary to Lucas' continual vision, every non-white person who lives in an area of low rainfall is not a mindless, violent terrorist. This is how Star Wars sees Africans, Arabs, and Muslims, but--again, believe it or not--everyone from the Sahara desert and nearby countries is not either: an unthinking Tusken-Raider-style savage; a worthless, lying, thieving little Jawa; or, a brainless, violent, insectine communist Geonosian.

When countries in Africa try to nationalize their oil reserves, coal reserves, land, labor, or anything else, they are swiftly invaded by France, Britain, America, or all of the above, the people murdered, and the situation stabilized. When the dark-skinned locals object, they're killed by American flyovers or proxy thugs. When white people in America object, they're accused of being in sympathy with the dark-skinned people, or just not understanding reality. This is the nasty lesson of the second trilogy, and though Lucas tried to dress up a lot of his racism two decades later, he failed to eliminate the "sand people are bad people" giveaway.

First Two Trilogies, Overview

Specifics could go on, but we'll turn to the bigger picture first. The first trilogy, 1977-1983, tells the story of a banal, evil empire being defeated by a band of plucky heroes. The second trilogy--err, the "prequel," or the "real first trilogy"--tells the story of an evil young German corporal in the post-WW1 period--excuse me, ambitious Senator in a galaxy far far away--seizing power from the Senate, and stealing the resources of the republic to use to build an empire.

The plot explains Lucas' entire worldview: good, decent people, led by the right kind of wealthy entertainers, have built a democratic republic. That democratic republic is then threatened by usurpers who desire power. The usurpers win, temporarily, forming an evil empire, from which the galaxy is saved by the blood descendants of the Chosen people, who have a greater connection to the Force than other people.

The Necessary Successor

The necessary chunk for the next trilogy is the story of how a new Republic can be built by the heroes, while beset by the attempts of bad people to stop them. The Star Wars worldview of simple, obvious, unrealistic good versus evil will complete, in the third trilogy, the entire story of civilization: beginning at the end, the next trilogy will show how good governments are formed out of chaos. Then, the good governments fall due to greedy people willing to conspire with sand-darkies, after which the Nazis are defeated by people who rebuild a good government.

Given Lucas' history, and the history of the same team of dozens of inbred producers and contributors it's going to take to cobble the thing together over the course of several years, we can predict that the "new republic" will be beset by awful Africans, Muslims, and Arabs while it tries to form. The blood-Chosen race of special people (to whom the galaxy always rightly belonged) will struggle to defeat the few traitors to the cause, assisted by a bunch of eastern-style, collectivist darkies who are too stupid to understand that the democratic republic is good for them. These stupid easterners will reveal themselves, eventually, to be Nazis in disguise, because anyone who disagrees with the heroes is always a Nazi.

Look for a more ethnically diverse cast, though. One thing Hollywood has always been great at doing over the years is adding in just the right blend of women and/or minorities to appear proper within whatever the current historical climate says. So, the first Star Wars had zero black people and one woman, followed by one black person and a second woman in the second and third movies, followed by several black people and almost four women in the next three movies. We might even see a few token "good Arabs" in the next ones, just to reassure us, in true Aladdin style, that not all people from the Middle East are bad--just everyone there who isn't taking orders from the main characters.

Oh, and while we're wrapping up here, you know the "Sith"? The evil faction of violent, angry, openly hateful force-users behind every problem in the galaxy, including the manipulation of violent desert people toward anti-government behavior? As well as consistently choosing the wrong lightsaber color? Guess at the origins? That's right; it's from "Seth," e.g., an Egyptian word. And dark, dusky, desert people live in Egypt. Even some Africans (gasp!).

Don't worry, though. The brave, French-derived "Jedi" are there to save good white people from those dusky Africans. A few years ago, in a country very, very close, a man decided he was finally going to show everyone just how bad those desert dwellers really are.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Come Together, Part 2

Missing the Point

Come Together discussed how irrational racism is used as an explanation for anger produced by rational economic threats. When White Red Stater gets upset at Brown Immigrants, we can easily call it race-based decision-making, but when Brown Recent Immigrant gets upset at Brown Current Immigrant, the "race-based decision-making" model proves inadequate, and casts doubt upon whether the model applies to whites, either.

(We'll get into sexuality and gender in the next part, but upon request, we'll go a little farther into race first.)

In the absence of simplistic color- or flag-based modeling, social scientists have attempted to substitute more advanced forms of color-based modeling: among them, the tendency of human infants to look longer at faces that are more like those of their parents. The infant attempts to memorize the similarities in the features of its "tribe" so that it will recognize its caregivers faster for increased safety, and advocates of a racism-based world have used this look-time data to suggest that people are naturally racist. They were easily countered, decades ago, by idealistic true-believers in a racism-based world, who preferred the idea of "taught racism" to "inherent racism," and demonstrated how carefree babies would play with babies of all sexes and races, unless otherwise interfered with by their parents.

In that, the true believers were accurate. "Taught" stereotypes have existed as long as humans have been able to teach their children to not pet those really large cats with orange and red stripes.

21st century human politics, though, enjoys clinging to the terminology of traditional racism. Obama claims America is post-racial, when it's clearly not, while American ethnic studies departments focus on a confessional, antiquated notion of unabashed racism. Both perspectives--the former deceptively reassuring to white voters, the latter controlled by misguided anger--miss the origins of and justifications for real racism, and with that, the chance to successfully get rid of it and, more importantly, to prevent new ones from springing up (the American academic perspective does regularly brush up against real stuff, though it doesn't like to talk about it a lot).

The "missing of the point" is, like most official point-missings over centuries of colonialism--from the Napoleonic Wars to the new Baghdad embassy--missed on purpose. As said earlier, if low-wage, asset-less serfs hate one another for speaking in nasal accents (Britain v. France), liking Allah (U.S. v. Iraq), or allowing Madonna to roam free (radical Islamists v. the Great Satan America), they're less likely to be upset at the people who left them low-wage and asset-less, or in danger of becoming low-waged and asset-less.

Saving Ourselves

Saving ourselves from the isms doesn't seem like fun. If you're confronted with an actual jerk who actually dislikes "Mexicans" because his father's father's father did, it can be difficult to come up with the idea of forgiving him--with acknowledging that the grudge had a short-sighted, misguided, but otherwise rational origin in economic competition. As said earlier, the rational portions of the origin do not excuse the jerk's behavior; do not make it right; do not make it okay. Acknowledging those rational reasons, though, allow us to stop pretending that racism emerges from an indecipherable past of scary hatreds beyond our comprehension.

The jerk is a jerk for a reason. If growers and manufacturers stop manipulating the idea of "governments" and "citizenship," using the Fed to control business loans and bubble/recession cycles, et cetera, and the jerk gets a stable job, a reasonable salary, a future for his old age and children, then he'll suddenly care a lot less, or not at all, about whether or not Hispanics are doing other work, or shopping at the local Walmart. Modern governments love addressing "racism" and other isms, because the implied message is that cultural divisions are caused by morons who think skin color and bodily features are more important than they really are.

Consider the insult of calling someone's anger "racism." Take our example jerk: Joe.

Joe's Day

Joe is sitting in his trailer, desperately flipping through a two-weeks-old newspaper in search of a job that he mighta missed last time. His back hurts, but he hasn't had insurance in years. The kids are complaining because it's ramen for dinner again, when Joe's wife Betty notices that they'll all be splitting ONE ramen, since as cause her hours got cut at the beauty shop.

Coming to the end of the paper, Joe looks out the window, across a weed-strewn acre with seven burned trailers decaying in a cluster. On the other side of a pothole-laced street lies the chain-link fence around the Organic Vita Farms packing plant. A big green truck with Sonora plates is unloading sixty Hispanic guys from the trailer, where there isn't air conditioning, let alone seatbelts. Or seats. A cheerful, pudgy white security guy is there to make sure no one gets lost. The workers rush eagerly down the trailer's ramp, and through the plant's bay door.

Desperately, almost jealously, Joe watches them head toward twelve hour days of low cash pay and company lunches. Just like last summer, and the summer before, there were "no jobs" at the plant. No jobs, my ass. Staring at all the workers, Joe thinks of the guy at the service garage who fixed his car last year, who didn't speak English, and the night crew at Walmart. And the plant, right across the street, where his dad had made enough, thirty years ago, to pay for Sally's asthma inhalers and be able to hold his head high when he went into town. Into the plant, those guys, doing everything that needs to be done. "Lousy fucking wetbacks," Joe mutters.

Suddenly, dust stirs the bare ground outside his trailer. Rotors buffet the air. A rainbow-colored helicopter settles to the ground. A dozen people in mixed flannels leap from the side door, charge the trailer, and kick the door open.

Betty's hand drops a plastic fork into the boiling ramen. The television almost slides off the counter--one of the kids braces it, but keeps watching.

A young woman in stressed jeans marches up to Joe's couch, flanked by two men in hemp sandals. One points an iPad menacingly at Joe, who trembles while the young woman snaps a picture with her Blackberry. "Central Texas University," she informs Joe, with a voice like ice. "College of Social and Behavioral Sciences." She flashes a laminated ID.

Another shudder racks Joe's shoulders. An unlit Marlboro falls from his lips. "What...what you done the, that heli, helicopter for?"

"You," sneers the woman, pointing across the street, "don't like those human beings across the street because they are brown of skin." She tosses her head at the man to her right. "Get me that couch--this is going to take a while."

With a crisp nod, the man lowers his iPad. He takes a bag of thawing mixed vegetables off the paisley chair cushion, and wheels the chair over to face Joe. Behind him, several of the older students have turned off the television and moved Betty and the children into a bedroom.

Lip curled, the young woman sits on the paisley cushion. She draws herself even closer to Joe, until their noses are nearly touching. "Listen up," she hisses, "because I'm only going to say this once. Émile Durkheim was born in 1858. It was a time of crisis for the people of France. The core tenets of..."

The more she speaks, the harder Joe shakes.

Remember

Again, remember that there are still a few Joes who actually do have problems independent of any form of rationality, economic or otherwise. To understand is not to exonerate; to forgive is not to forget. Instead of telling Joe, "Hey, you dummy, just because they have different skin doesn't mean you should dislike them," we might tell Joe, "The factory owner is the one who is so greedy that he's busing in people at three dollars an hour so he can buy a sixth mansion, and so he doesn't have to hire you at seven dollars an hour. And they only came here because the factory owner's brother, Senator Owner, used the Fed to crush the Sonoran economy so that there would be workers willing to take your job for $3 an hour."

It's relatively complicated explaining to Joe how that works, and Joe's likely to get angry at you while you're doing it. Especially if Senator Owner has been promising to build a border wall. Like all real explanations, it takes more mental effort to explain and understand than sitcom-style explanations like "they hate freedom" or "they hate tan skin" (or "big wall is good!"). But, it is a real answer; a real plot with a real solution. Joe's anger at immigrants and stuck-up, real-world-ignorant students at Central Texas University, gets him nowhere. Similarly, those students' anger at backward, diversity-ignorant people like Joe, gets them nowhere. Combining those two elements (awakening the proles, if you like) into a realistically-directed anger at the schemes that create justified anger--justified anger at economic failure, and justified anger at racist expressions--is the bane of Senator Owner and his taxes and NAFTAs and quantitative easings.

Continued in Part 3.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tax Theft 8

Continuing from Tax Theft 7.

This entire series, beginning here, has discussed how different kinds of tax exemptions are used to force non-exempt taxpayers to subsidize exempt taxpayers. Some business deductions were discussed in Part 5, where we looked primarily at commercial loan deductions. All business deductions, though, are structured to use the resources of almost all taxpayers to subsidize the businesses of very few taxpayers. Many liberals and progressives will complain about "corporate welfare," in terms of direct corporate tax breaks and government investment in corporations, and that's certainly a large part of the picture, but the yearly, un-debated, shadow world of business deductions, with over a hundred years of history taking it off the public negotiation table, is far more powerful.

Business deductions operate on the obvious, completely fair rationalization that, if it costs you money to make money, you shouldn't have to pay income taxes on the part you didn't get to keep. That rationalization is then twisted like an ugly mutant, and used to justify certain deductions while not justifying others, resulting in the body politic picking up the tab for big business investment. Here's an example:

Cameron's Example

Cameron Peabody inherits $3.6 million from his grandmother (his sisters and his brother inherit similar amounts). Cameron decides that he's ready to stop fooling around with his life, and starts a construction company. After a lot of deliberation and planning meetings, he decides to name his company Peabody Construction, Inc. His lawyer, accountant, and business manager help him set everything up, and he hires some experienced builders to get his name out there with local subcontractors.

When his father sends him to meet the city manager, Cameron is nervous, but he remembers to maintain eye contact and be clear about what he wants--and to his surprise, the meeting goes well. He wins the bidding to have Peabody Construction construct the parking lots, restroom facilities, equipment sheds, bleachers, field and field lights for the new baseball park.

To get all this work done, Cameron's accountant takes some of the advance funds from the city and begins taking bids from subcontractors to do the work on the ground. Cameron, though, wants to have his own people do the parking lot, so he needs a couple backhoes, a couple scrapers, a resurfacer, and at least one cement truck. He buys them all at a cost of $800,000, and the work gets done.

When the last square of astroturf is cut and fitted, everyone in town is happy. A plaque by the home team dugout thanks Cameron Peabody of Peabody Construction for his contributions to the community, and local elementary schools name drinking fountains after Cameron. It's been a tough year, but after paying all of his subcontractors, and paying his own employee salaries, Cameron has an income of $1.6 million.

With the highest portion of it bracketed at a 39.6% rate, that means he should be paying income tax of $533,349.00. He didn't have to pay any taxes on the amount he inherited; he didn't have to pay anything for all of those lunches and builder's conventions the mayor took him to; he didn't have to pay any taxes on the community goodwill he inherited from his father's connections. We're focusing only on that year's "earned" income (heehee--ftw, Cameron!).

So, $533,349.00 in income tax, paid to the IRS that year for Cameron, right? That extra $533,349.00 is needed to pay for wars, roads, urban development councils, bailouts, and other stuff, right?

No, because of Cameron's other business deductions. Cameron had to spend $800,000 on those big construction vehicles, and he gets to take 100% equipment deductions, so his income goes down to $800,000, from $1.6 million. His tax drops to $253,349. He saved $280,000--hurrah for Cameron!

But Cameron isn't done. It cost him $112,000 to operate those big vehicles this year, with fuel and repair costs, so his income drops to $688,000. Tax drops to $214,149. Double hurrah! And licensing and insuring those expensive pieces of equipment doesn't come cheap, either: it costs around $30,000, so his income drops to $658,000, and his final tax due is $203,649.00.

Oops--we're still not done. Peabody Construction, Inc. paid for Cameron to attend an expensive builder's conference in Manhattan, and a commercial negotiation seminar at a pricey lodge in the Hamptons, which is a must for anyone serious about understanding zoning regulations while trying to manage a serious regional construction office. Cameron brought along his intern, Veronica, to help him present a professional image during the dinners and meetings, so he had to pay for her, too. After covering all the room fees, restaurant bills, day trips and speaker fees, his income is down to $594,000, and his tax at $181,249.

Frank's Example

Frank always knew he wanted to be a doctor, but when his girlfriend got pregnant, he had to find insurance, and jobs are supposed to have insurance. The one he got, working on a construction crew, didn't offer insurance as a direct benefit, but he could get it if he deducted about half his paycheck, so he did that.

In order to work at Peabody Construction, Inc., Frank has a problem: he can't work from home, so he has to drive to the job site every day. It changes a lot--Peabody does work all over town. And the "parking" at the job site is usually on a pothole-strewn hill covered with old nails and chunks of loose concrete. So Frank buys a used work truck for $26,499 from Peabody Ford (owned by Cameron's brother, Bryce Peabody), and he goes to work. He's required to buy a hard hat, a hard hat with an affixed light, and three bright orange safety aprons in order to be licensed by the general contractor, and if he doesn't wear coveralls, steel-toed boots, and bring lunch in an un-crushable cooler, he literally can't function on the job site. If he wants to get a job next year, he absolutely has to network with his co-workers and the site foreman at the Gully Bottom Grill three or four nights a week, or else they'll call him a sissy and he'll be replaced next year.

At the end of the year, pulling his share of 60 hour weeks, Frank has collected wages and overtime in the amount of $53,000, more than he ever hoped. After a standard deduction, he's liable for about $6,800 in taxes.

That's a tough pill to swallow, considering that Frank has $417.00 in his bank account, and he doesn't feel $53,000 richer. But then he comes up with an incredible idea: deductions! Frank realizes that he spent $26,499 on a work truck, and around $1,200 on equipment that he uses 100% at job-sites. To keep his shoulder and back from acting up, and to hedge against future problems, he bought medical insurance for his body, which took $3K from his paycheck. Without his wife helping get his lunches together, answer calls from supervisors while he was driving to and from job sites, and coordinate his shifting overtime schedule, Frank would be ruined, but he didn't pay her a salary, so he can't deduct that. He did, though, buy her health insurance for another $3K.

Frank's income is already down to $19,301, which means income tax of $998.00. Hurray, right? It gets even better, though: all of that networking that Frank did at the Gully Bottom Grill cost him about $800 worth of tequila, tips, and mozzarella sticks, so his income is down to $18,501, for tax due of $878. He already had way more than that deducted from his paycheck, so he should be eligible for a refund!

Unfortunately, we probably see where this is going: none of Frank's deductions count. Frank is still liable for $6,843 in taxes. (Oh, and that's federal. Frank will owe more to his state.)

Why and Why Not?

So, Cameron gets to deduct almost anything, and Frank gets to deduct almost nothing. Cameron can deduct 100% of work-related equipment, but Frank gets to deduct 0% of it. Why? The rationale goes, "Cameron bought his backhoe only for use in construction, while Frank bought his truck for both construction and personal use." No Franks get around that one, even if Frank can prove that his truck was used 100% of the time for driving to work or work-related events. Even if we take out the Gully Bottom Grill entirely, and Frank gives up future jobs just to get the truck deduction for one year, he still doesn't win. The IRS favors Cameron, every year, taking it for granted that Frank's truck is in a completely different class than Cameron's trucks.

Frank's other work gear, too, suffers this fate: no deduction. Cameron's three business cell phones are deductible, but Frank's one cell phone is not. Cameron's trips to New York are deductible, but Frank's trips to the Gully Bottom Grill are not. Cameron's liability and theft insurance is deductible, but Frank's is not. Even when Cameron insures his backhoes--necessary equipment for the construction company--it is deductible, while Frank's insurance for his own body--100% necessary for Frank to work--is not. This abjectly ludicrous theme holds true across the board: the government claims that all of Frank's expenses have a "personal use" aspect, while almost all of Cameron's expenses, however personal, can be tabulated to Cameron's business.

At finer levels of inquiry, this can be connected to a feudal style of property-preference: it is assumed that everyone decent has at least one phone, car, and vacation for personal use. Cameron doesn't get to deduct his first phone line, car, and vacation, and neither does Frank. But Cameron gets to deduct everything above and beyond that. All his extras are subsidized by the tax base, e.g., people who cannot afford extra assets are taxed in order to help pay for others' extra assets.

How many Franks does it take to cover Cameron's deductions? About 52. 52 Franks will pay the tax bill that makes up for the deductions of one Cameron. Not coincidentally, this is about how many employees Peabody Construction, Inc. has: 52 for each owner/investor. Bigger companies increase that proportion, so that enough "income" passes to employees to cover the boss' expenses.

Continued in Tax Theft Part 9.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Come Together

One of the American communities most hostile to illegal Mexican and South American immigrants is that of multi-generation American-born Hispanic conservatives. Traditional divisive theories of race, nationalism, class, gender, language, and religion all fail to explain this. Why? A very important distinction is concealed in there--one that illuminates a lot of the farcical American divisions of sex, sexuality, belief, and race.

Race Fails

Popular university and media theories of racism suggest that whites--or blacks, or Chinese, or any other group you like--might be prejudiced against Hispanic immigrants because the Hispanics are Hispanic. Deep within Hispanic communities, where slight variations in skin tone or accent can signal powerful meaning to Hispanics, racism analyses could apply to Hispanics, too: immigrants who were more or less brown or more aboriginally-featured might be discriminated against because of those differences.

Racism theories, though, break on the rocks of "race" and other race-like differences themselves: many dark-skinned American Hispanics, who speak poor English with a heavy Sonoran accent, will discriminate against lighter-skinned, European-blooded Hispanic immigrants who speak English with more of an American (California) accent. That kind of intra-Hispanic example is the tip of the crucible, because plenty of strident white "anti-racism" activists will support immigrant rights, opposing the policies pushed by Hispanic community leaders.

(This happens outside the Hispanic community, of course. Many African Americans will be hostile to certain subsets of black immigrants, including European blacks, who have entirely dissimilar generational and life experience than, say, slave-descendants. And just as in the Hispanic community, eager white university students are often first in line to push "anti-racism" immigration policies that aren't considered realistic or desirable by the American races they're supposed to be affecting.)

Nationalism Fails

In the absence of race being able to explain community feelings on immigration, pop culture looks to nationalism. Inside Hispanic communities, this one breaks even faster: take the example of Hispanics who live near Texas' border with Mexico, visit Mexico every month to see the rest of their family, and are viciously opposed to relaxing government policies designed to punish illegal Mexican immigrants.

Meanwhile, white Texan businessmen from Michigan eat enchiladas, encourage their kids to learn Spanish, consider seceding from that awful country ruled by Barack Obama, do a lot of business with Mexican trucking, shipping, and oil companies, and hate white Frenchmen and New Yorkers for being so socialist. And those same wealthy Texans hate illegal Hispanic immigrants.

Across the street at the community college, poor white and mixed-race native Texan students hold afternoon practice debates on how to address the problems of how an American sense of cultural superiority causes big growers to discriminate against illegal agricultural workers.

Class, Gender, Language and Religion Fail

By now, we probably get the point. Well-off American women of Hispanic ethnicity speak scornfully about irresponsible, poor Guatemalan teenage boys crossing the border for work. Poor white Americans grumble about wealthy Canadians buying small businesses in their town. New Mexican Catholic Hispanics of Mexican descent, who speak Spanish in the home, fume at the thought of exclusively English-speaking Catholic Hispanics sneaking into Arizona.

Money Succeeds

America's traditional resistance to immigrants, or to difference in general, stems primarily from the same rifts in a self that cause any given individual to be hostile toward any other. A self's fear or insecurity (not pop versions of "ignorance" or "self-confidence") is the cause. In this case, staying away from mind or spirit, economics translates into the most practical understanding.

The Cycle of Ism Tropes ~ Here, Racism

The popular models of explaining American anti-immigrant sentiment fail because they are designed to do one thing: blame very real, very fair, very understandable human sentiments on the ignorant/uneducated, anti-modern attitudes of the people stupid enough to espouse those sentiments. Elites design tropes like "racism" with a cyclical effect in mind: blunt, honest racism divides people against each other based on illusory categories, which easily balloon into the design of entire societies.

After a while--maybe generations--the trope begins to contract under its own weight. Humans notice that the defining traits of the racial categories are unclear at best, highly generalized, and purposefully misapplied to achieve alternate social ends (e.g., African American slavery or sharecropper labor price controls). At the same time, people descended more recently from African genetic strains have more fast-twitch muscles, and Finns are more likely to have blond hair than are Chinese. Two kinds of unavoidable obviousness clash against one another, until the entire thing has contracted to a singularity, whereupon it can expand later in another form.

These isms fail because of those unavoidable pieces of obviousness; to identify the potential for standardized discrimination means accepting the potential for being able to actually divide people into workable subgroups that can be either hated or sheltered. The contracting phase of the cycle, where the sins of old are washed away in celebrations of acceptable diversity, is defined by the same divisions that marked the expanding phase. In the case of racism, that means accepting common boundaries and differences that never should have been so important in the first place, except to family genealogy buffs and geneticists. Fighting a nightmare-monster only makes it more real, which is why people who buy guns for home defense end up shooting a family member more often than a burglar.

The Economics of Immigrant Hate

So why, then, would some Hispanic communities be so vigorously against illegal Hispanic immigration? Because illegal immigrants, or even legal ones, swell the labor pool and shift the supply/demand equation in favor of employers (and/or investors, small business owners, etc.--it works at any asset level you prefer). If an undocumented person (let's just say "an illegal" in recognition of the relative stupidity of the terms "immigrant," "illegal immigrant," and "undocumented") does a job, a citizen doesn't get the job. Because of an illegal's "illegal" status, the illegal is more likely to work under unsafe conditions, accept lower pay, and otherwise undercut the citizen in every other economic way.

This happens because of the zero-sum nature of western capitalism, in the land of no guarantees. Illegals use public services like emergency rooms, schools, roads, et cetera--all things that citizens are taxed for. A dollar for an illegal is one dollar less for a citizen. The anger--or just the vote against--of some of the Hispanic community is understandable.

What is awful for the citizen, of course, is worse for the illegal, because little kids dehydrate to death in the desert all the time, and illegals get beaten and raped in prison, or shot by licensed or unlicensed paramilitaries on either side of the border. But the why of it all is the insecurity of the Hispanic community: the very real understanding that, in a competition to see doctors, have beds and roofs, and feed children, illegals are on the other side. Everyone else, including citizens, is on the other side of any given individual or family also, but illegals offer an easy target.

Drawn from the example, here's a short list of the factors motivating some Hispanics' hostility to recent immigrants/illegals:

1) Worries that, in tough competition to survive by finding cheaper housing and sustainable jobs, immigrants will get those jobs instead of prior citizens;

2) Worries that immigrants will use social services paid for primarily by a citizen tax base.

...and here's a short list of the things not motivating hostility to recent immigrants/illegals:

1) Notions of racial superiority/inferiority;

2) Lack of basic and/or modern and/or university-level education;

3) Notions of cultural superiority/inferiority;

4) Notions of gender;

5) Perception of class, religious or language differences.

Finally, here's a list of the things the example does not teach us:

1) Racism/sexism/gender discrimination are acceptable or good;

2) Nationalism, class discrimination, views of religious/linguistic superiority are acceptable or good;

3) There aren't actually people out there who discriminate separately on the basis of race/sex/gender/nation/class/religion/language/etc.

The Important Lesson

The important lesson to draw from the example is one of understanding. Traditional "racism" theories claim that a person's fear over losing her job or place in a community is caused by that person's ignorance of skin pigmentation, cultural differences, and shared humanity. If only that person stops being so ignorant, and gets some education, racism-based theories say that everything will turn out fine.

Wasn't that clever? What did "racism" just do, there? It took a person's very tangible, real, economic fears, caused by an awfully real and terribly unjust economic system, and reduced them to the level of a children's picture book. Suddenly, Joe hates Jose not because Joe is scared to death his kids don't have health insurance and there aren't enough temp. holiday openings at Kohl's, but because Jose is a little more tan in color. If you believe that, then Iraq is mad at America because of America's freedoms. (It also suggested that spending money on universities will help cure Joe's disease.)

Stereotypical White Dude in Texas, struggling for a minimum-wage job, is perfectly right when he worries that adding more potential employees to the local labor pool will affect his life in a negative way. We can recognize that without saying that Stereotypical White Dude's slurs or anger or divisiveness are right or good, should he choose to feel or employ them. Furthermore, we can recognize that Jose The Stereotypical Hispanic-American Dude in Texas is perfectly right when he worries that adding more potential employees to the local labor pool will affect his life in a negative way. It doesn't mean that Joe or Jose are "racist," although they might, because of their fears, develop actual cultural/racial prejudices that they might pass down to their children, with all those associated irrationalities.

Recognizing the origins of Joe's and Jose's feelings means something wonderful--particularly if you've been subscribing, in any way, to those traditional isms. That recognition means that "racists," and their origins, and our trademarked western notions of ism-theory, are not fantastical boogeymen suffering a disease of ignorance, who come from a plane of inchoate evil seeking the irrational destruction of all modernized, educated, diverse peoples. Rather, those explanations are false flags disseminated by elites to explain why one group of rational people, struggling to survive, is scared that another group of rational people, struggling to survive, will make that struggle harder. American Hispanics hostile to illegal immigrants are not racist, anymore than are ethnically Arab French Muslims hostile to legal French immigrants. They may express their anger in ways that academics and corporate media news feeds would describe as "racist," but their true motivations are something entirely different.

(If you follow Irish history, or just American history, there's a parallel to be seen in the way elites simplistically explain away resource conflicts. When England invades Ireland and slaughters Irish people, elites write it up as a religious battle of "Protestants v. Catholics," rather than as one of "England taking land and natural resources and killing people." When European settlers invade the North American continent and slaughter the natives, elites write it up as the progress of civilization, Christians v. heathens. On each side, there are actually people, maybe a lot of people, who end up hating "Catholics" or "Christians" or "redskins" or "whites" through a natural response to terrible experiences, or just a belief in the news. As Christopher Columbus' mission statements, or the greedy plots of the English throne, show us, though, the initial focus was on wealth, resources, and power--not facile notions of deities or skin color.)

Seeing the rational, real beginnings to "racism," or the other isms, is a light of hope, expressing the shared humanity that the isms suggest has gone unnoticed. If Jose the Hispanic-American is hostile to Jose the Mexican illegal not because of race, and there's something rational and real behind it, then maybe Joe the white guy is hostile to blacks for the same reason. The solution to all of these is not diversity education, because the economic struggle will continue to resurface with different targets: say, Muslim Arabs from the Middle East. "Racism" will never vanish, under that model; it will just contract into a new ism, generating a different fairy-tale for Joe's "irrational, uneducated, unscientific hatred" that can explain away Joe's or Jose's rational reactions to economic insecurity. Racism vanishes not through "informing" Joe or Jose about Dia de los Muertos and tacos--again, laugh at the idea that "Afghanis hate Americans because of their freedoms." Racism vanishes through acknowledging Joe's or Jose's real, human, fair, just, understandable fears about being screwed over and left with no food or shelter...and fixing those problems so that they don't need to lash out at anyone. Which means that, when Joe or Jose get angry at immigrants, they're expressing the exact same frustration at an economy based on exploitation and war that every other libertarian/liberal/progressive expresses in different ways. The simple differences of "nation-states" and "citizenship" have taught Joe and Jose to misunderstand that their enemy is not immigrants, but the elites who have created the deathly game of economic survival. The university educations and advanced race-studies theories of the liberals and progressives have taught them to misunderstand that their enemy is not "racists" like Joe or Jose, but the politicians actually producing the economic fears that get attributed to "racism."

Understanding the trick of the expansionary and contractionary cycles of mainstream isms, and helping out the "ists" on the basis of theory, is something that will generally fall toward the more educated, liberal, progressive group: the group more likely to become aware of the cycle. To the target group, then, falls the opportunity to forgive the ists their foolishness. It can hurt. Particularly if someone's ever made an insulting remark about [insert group here] and you have [family/friends/self] connections to that group. It is, though, truly more of an opportunity than a threat: if all that stuff is realistic and understandable, then there's a rational fix for it, and it's the same fix that you're looking for in other places. Recognizing that someone hates you not because you're a freedom-loving, sexually-liberated American, or because you're a tan Spanish-speaker, means acknowledging your own fears about the worth of modern education, a niche in a cutthroat economy, and whether or not you'll survive the next elite drawdown. It unites you, in shared irrationality, toward seeing the sameness in the uneducated others who are so irrational about their own fear and anger--the stereotypical racist, if that's your image. Dropping your own insulting theory that they act the way they do because of ignorant racism allows them to express their anger at the real source of their worry, and points both your arrows and theirs toward the unfair economy that pitted you against each other in the first place, and was the source of both ignorant, misguided racism and ignorant, misguided educationism. As a black friend used to tell this one, "I'm not prejudiced--I hate everybody equally!"

We shine toward the same goal. Come together.  

Continued in Part 2.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Cast of Players


The Ogre ~ Uncommon

An Ogre is dimly aware of the Game--just enough to know who the Kings are. Ogres want to serve Kings as directly and loudly as possible. An Ogre takes pride in brazen strength and brutality. Finding reality in the savage, an Ogre craves intense forms of bases: extreme exercise, gluttony of low quality foods, mechanical gamesmanship, or group posturing.

An Ogre's glory is being in the right place at the right time, dying heroically, or receiving great gladiatorial rewards. Ogres are not intelligent enough to ascend to Kingship, so extreme prowess or chance may lead them to temporary posts that they cannot fulfill, after which they may humbly revert to retirement. Kings often shelter older Ogres better than Serfs, as an example to younger Ogres of the rewards of service.

An Ogre's downfall is expendability. Ogres who overplay their own hand may fail to realize how many other Ogres are available, and find their best offer significantly too high. Once they have overplayed, they find that their strength is useless to Kings. In anger, fallen Ogres often turn their strength against Kings' Ogres, and are easily outnumbered and overpowered. Powerful failed Ogres may become Reavers, or if hope is sufficient, Waifs.

The King ~ Rare

A King is well aware of the Game. Kings carefully manage royal images to offer an outlet for Ogre strength, Serf misery, Necromancer madness, and the amusement of Fools and Jesters. In many ways, they can be said to control the entire Game. Thoroughly sated in lesser things, Kings search always for exotic experience.

A King's glory is to remain a King. By employing a horde of Confidants whose power relies independently on the King, the King may easily ensure that no talents of confidence are turned against the King. A King wishing to risk greater glory may partner with other Kings to amass more power and influence at the expense of lone Kings, or weaker groups. As long as all Kings agree to cheerfully withdraw when the results of a confrontation are evident, the risk of preparations and maneuverings is reduced for all.

A King's downfall is overestimation of the King's own power, or empathy. Affection for a potential mate, concern for a Serf's misery, or fear of a Necromancer's creations can affect the King's ability to present a royal image. Other Kings will then immediately turn upon the failed King for threatening the institution of Kingship. A King who overestimates that King's own power may try to overpower another King prematurely, or fail to yield immediately when disfavored. That King will then be turned upon by other Kings for threatening the institution of Kingship.

The Serf ~ Common

A Serf is unaware of the Game. Serfs believe in the natural order of things, and accept their lot with misery and small amounts of hope. In a world they see as a self-contradictory mix of inherent superiority and random luck, Serfs are always confused, easily angered, and easily calmed. Serfs are drawn to expressions of randomness: games of chance, physical self-risks, and tales of abrupt fame.

A Serf's glory is to pass through epiphany or muse, and become infected with thought or beauty, offering an extremely low possibility of becoming any of the other types of Players.

A Serf's downfall is to remain a Serf. The extremely rare "randomly successful" Serf will swiftly spoil success through grandiose behavior.

The Necromancer ~ Uncommon

A Necromancer is unaware of the Game, longing only to use the resources of Kings to explore the deepest pits of dark magic. Necromancers throw themselves at the bases of thrones for permission to study. They develop clever toys and vulgar monsters, and delight in having permission to turn their creations loose on the weak. They may staunchly support one or more Kings against others, but will use their power in the service of all Kings, finding such meaning in the power itself that they consider themselves the greatest beings in existence, and their creations the greatest work.

A Necromancer's glory is to develop a monster of such horror, or a trinket of such commonplace utility, that all other Necromancers are forced to take note. To be enshrined within the ancient parchments after the names of great Necromancers of previous ages: that is the immortality and the joy the Necromancer seeks.

A Necromancer's downfall is empathy. Dwelling too long on the ultimate uses to which one's creations are put does not lead to power. Cunning Necromancers must separate themselves from the results of their work, ascribing it "beyond them," and being dazzled by thrones. Those who do not--those who question whether it is right to build a monster--will be shifted to trinket production. Those who question trinkets also will be cast out as Serfs. For their questioning, they will be stricken from the necromantic records as a heretic who stands against knowledge.

The Fool ~ Common

A Fool is only dimly aware of the Game. The glimpse causes madness, to which the Fool responds by enthusiastic participation in many aspects of life. The Fool loves many of the Fool's superiors, and cheers loudly for most grand events. With good nature, the Fool boos one grand event as not being as worthy as other grand events, and boos one King as being not worthy as another King.

A Fool's glory is to be acknowledged, directly or indirectly, by a King, or to be directly acknowledged by a high-ranking Necromancer or Jester. Wrapped in a dream of madness, the Fool lives vicariously through illusory champions, and finds, always, a constant, dull glory in their successes.

A Fool's downfall is to too enthusiastically cheer for a trend that has suddenly gone out of style. The unlucky Fool will then, naively, cling to the dream of the past--an outdated vision of Kings that only Fools ever truly believed in--and be vilified by all, including other Fools. The Fool will carry old standards to the grave, until then enduring as a fossil of the past, loathed by newer Fools.

The Jester ~ Uncommon

A Jester is aware of the Game. Understanding the nuances of sorrow and despair, Jesters use wit and drama to mock other Players wherever the opportunity may arise. Jesters ultimately serve Kings, even while mocking them publicly with extreme vigor. Ultimately, Jesters find pleasure in shaming, embittering, and defeating those they laugh with, and at. Jesters may break the hopes of Waifs, Fools, Serfs, and even Fallen Angels and Reavers. A Jester's rhetorical skill is at its best when it recounts the simple, obvious difficulties of the other Players, and translates them into grim failure. A Jester shines in history when remembered for mockeries delivered so powerfully that they can be leveled against other Kings and Fools in different times.

Jesters rise to glory when Kings recognize blather so skillful that it can be used to calm the world to the tune of mockery alone. Like contests of the strongest Ogres, contests of the wittiest Jesters entrance Players into a somnatic representation of their roles, ensuring Kingly harmony. Kings reward mighty Jesters, ensuring the tallest platforms and most colorful banners for those who speak of emptiness. The great Jesters' task is to maintain the Game by so disparaging the Board and its Players that the Game seems inevitable.

A Jester's downfall is, like an Ogre's, expendability. When a Jester fails to remember that many other Jesters are able to speak cleverly about nothing, the Jester may overplay a hand, and fail to be distinguished. A successful Jester must, therefore, be a simultaneous mix of false, braying-loud modesty, and genuine, braying-loud arrogance. If an intelligent Jester fails to be distinguished, the refuge of bitter, sardonic contempt always beckons: the Jester may retreat, heroically, to the role of barroom crank or office prankster.

The Confidant ~ Rare

A Confidant is fully aware of the Game, to a level that transcends the knowledge of Kings and Jesters. The Confidant can appear as any Player, even to the extent of that Confidant's inner life. Confidants often employ their skill as the finest of Jesters.

The Confidant finds glory in the Game itself. As long as the Game continues, the Confidant is happy. Anything that threatens the Game, including powerful Reavers or caring Kings, must be destroyed.

A failed Confidant brings about its own downfall. An empathetic shift in a Confidant's thoughts can lead to visions of a world without the Game. The failed Confidant may, rarely, become a Reaver or Fallen Angel, but is more likely to expunge itself from the Game quietly, in a way that will not go noticed or risk hurting the Game. A failed Confidant's death is often not a failure, but a gift to other Confidants, and to the Game itself.

The Waif ~ Rare

The Waif is aware of the world beyond the Game. Glimpsing beauty, the Waif is tormented by the hideous nature of the Game, and strives to free other Players from its grip. The Waif may turn to art, true charity, or self-immolation.

A Waif's greatest downfall is to fall under the sway of Kings, Jesters, or Confidants, and be drawn away from vision and back into the Game. Recognizing the danger that a Waif poses, Kings and others who love the Game strive to quiet the Waif, cleverly and indirectly, by channeling the Waif's efforts into acceptable aspects of the Game. The Waif who depicts glorious scenes within bleak fortresses may be trying to steal a window out, or may be acting under the direction of a King, Jester, or Confidant, and creating a crippled fantasy that leads only back to the Game. A Waif may also fall victim to simple Rogues, but at only a slightly greater rate than other Players.

With long neglect, a Waif may see its vision turned to the service of representing only Fools' errands and Kings' banners, recreating Game-worlds, using technique at the command of Kings, and coming to believe, like a Necromancer of art, that rewarded technique alone is the highest form. This fallen Waif no longer seeks expression, or discriminates in the use of its technique, but becomes a sword in the hands of Kings, willfully blind or even bored by the uses of its own creations.

A Waif's glory is to spread its vision, widening a beam of light into the murk of the Game, and die hoping that the opening grows wider with time--or merely to escape therein, alone, and hope that others come after.

The Rogue ~ Common

Rogues feel aware of the Game, but only at the lowest of levels. Utterly-self interested, but largely powerless in a social sense, Rogues are Kings without power or Confidants without knowledge: they pillage, seduce, and deceive, though only at a small scale. They are constantly useful to Kings, but always replaceable.

A Rogue's downfall is the casual punishment of crime, or the social perception, and condemnation, of crime. Lacking an understanding of the power of Kings, Rogues can easily overreach: once a Rogue has attained a little power, the Rogue may confuse that power with a King's power, and assume that it will serve as well. The Rogue then loses. Similarly, once a Rogue has gained a little intelligence, the Rogue may confuse that intelligence with a Confidant's intelligence, and assume that it will serve the Rogue as well as the Confidant--a bigger score will then fail, bringing downfall.

A Rogue's rare glory is to seduce a foolish King, and become elevated to Kingship and a venerated retirement. A less rare, but still uncommon, Rogue's glory is to pitch loyalty behind a King, and be elevated as a trusted protector, able to enjoy the table scraps of kingship.

The Wretch ~ Uncommon

A Wretch is downfall. Lacking the power of a Reaver, the outlets of a Waif, or the sight of a Fallen Angel, the Wretch is left with impotent anger at the Game, bitter insults for almost all its Players, and at best, a sad plea to a dream, scarcely glimpsed, of something else. The Wretch is a Fool without Foolish enjoyments, and a Serf without naïveté. The Wretch cannot believe in Kings, and has a violent difficulty imagining other Games.

The Wretch's downfall is to remain a Wretch; in its misery, the Wretch proves, to simple Serfs and foolish Fools, the truth of a King's words. The Wretch's rare glory is to rediscover beauty and become a Waif.

The Fallen Angel ~ Rare

A Fallen Angel breaks a different set of rules, entering the Game to help the Game's other Players. Naïve and wise, the Fallen Angel searches for other Players to whom to reveal the Game. The Fallen Angel loves and hates the Game.

The Fallen Angel's downfall is belief in the self-evidence of beauty and truth. A Fallen Angel may trust that other Players will be swayed by beauty, and be crushed when this idea fails. This may cause a loss of belief in beauty and truth, and transformation into a Wretch or a Reaver. Avoiding that downfall, a Fallen Angel may yet become caught in the minutiae of the Game, believing that shining light upon the inner workings of the Game will make obvious the self-evident nature of the Game's cruelty and horror, and cause all Players except Kings to cancel the Game. This quest may lead the Fallen Angel to become absorbed with exposing the intrinsic details of the Game, and transmogrify thereby the Fallen Angel into a creature of the Game: a Confidant, if sight is kept, or a skilled Rogue or miserable Wretch, if sight is lost. Within the Game, self-contradictory pieces of the Game seem obvious to the Fallen Angel, and an unwary Fallen Angel can have its spirit broken by other Players' acceptance of impossible tautologies.

Because of the nature of their conflicting desires, Fallen Angels and Confidants are often able to recognize one another's type, and instinctively understand their natural opposition over the continuation of the Game. The Confidant sees in the Fallen Angel the greatest risk to the Game, while the Fallen Angel sees in the Confidant the Game's greatest supporter--greater in that, even, than the Kings. The Fallen Angel and the Confidant play a minigame within the Game, the Fallen Angel striving to make Players see the Confidant as a Confidant, and the Confidant striving to make the Fallen Angel appear a cheap Rogue, a dreamy Waif, or a cunning Confidant.

A Fallen Angel's glory is the start of a new Game.

The Reaver ~ Rare

The Reaver understands, and hates, the Game and all its Players. Beset by a desire for revenge against the Game that has hurt it so, the Reaver seeks the destruction of all Players in any way possible. A Reaver is more often created by the suffering of one close to it, rather than the direct wounding of the Reaver's own body. Reavers carefully conceal their motives, or create false motives, in order to keep the Game going in the event of their failure, for they understand that if they fail, their greatest hope for the destruction of the Game and its Players comes in future Reavers being able to strike unexpectedly.

A Reaver's downfall is destruction by a great union of Players seeking to preserve the Game, after which Kings and Confidants will guide almost all other Players in hatred of the Reaver, painting the Reaver as an aberration, beyond any rational explanation. The most rare, powerful Reavers may see downfall through subtle, purposeful self-destruction, if a glimmer of interest in other Players remains in them. The failed Reaver may become a Waif, a Fallen Angel, or a Wretch.

A Reaver's glory is the end of all Games.