Sunday, September 29, 2013

Stoplights and Headaches


Paul's Ticket

Paul, who retired from construction a few years back, hurries out for a pint of ice cream one night. His wife absolutely has to have "Mint Mocha Madness," so he heads for the faraway grocery store. It's a quiet 11PM when he pulls up to a lonely T-junction--that annoying one, where the light takes forever to change. After waiting about half a minute, seeing absolutely no one in sight, he creeps forward. No one to the left, no one to the right, no one dead ahead. No headlights, no engine noise, nothing. Feeling a little guilty, but also a little annoyed, he makes the left turn.

Aaaaand, flashing lights come on. The cop, unfortunately, is not inclined to give Paul a warning. He apologizes, they chuckle a little bit, and both go away knowing that Paul's going to make another attempt the next time--only he'll check the spot behind the old tree on the west a little more closely. Paul gets the Mint Mocha Madness, mails $240 to the City authorities, and goes on with life.

Jared's Migraines

Jared is 37, and she has migraines. For all her life, as far back as she can remember, she's had these pulsing headaches that come upon her mostly-randomly, occasionally-predictably. Since she's been nine or ten, when her parents finally took it seriously, she's had a bottle of pills. She can take one when she feels it coming on, and it brings the pain down to manageable levels, where she's able to concentrate, work, sleep, play, and have a life.

The same pills. At the beginning, the neurologists played around with this and that, but eventually, by the time she was ten, they'd settled on the one that she, and thus they, had confidence in. For 27 years, they've worked great. Jared went to college, got her degree in science education, and teaches Chemistry to Juniors, and The Natural World to Freshmen, at the local high school. She's raising a kid right now, in-between husbands, volunteering for the drama club's plays, and sometimes helps out at track meets.

Every six months, come rain or shine, Jared has to go to a new doctor (it always seems like it's a "new" doctor, even though it usually changes every five years or so, when a former associate takes over "Baum-Perkins Family & Internal"), wait in a waiting room, drop a specialist co-pay, and chat a little with a brand-new receptionist, then a nurse trainee, then some 26-year-old resident, about what her migraines are like. The appointments themselves only take about two hours fifteen minutes out of her day, but at the end, they update her six-month allotment of the simple serotonin 1D receptor agonist that she's been taking since she was ten. Finally, she is granted permission to buy her pills--for another half year, at least. On her way out, the receptionist advises her to schedule her next appointment now, because they're already booked through until February.

What happens if Jared doesn't keep her appointments? She loses her prescription--she has no protection against migraines. The power of the drug cartels is such that Jared is not, and never will, be considered intelligent enough to buy her own medication. Even though Jared's had the adverse drug interactions and possible side effects memorized since age fifteen, and she needs the pills to, literally, live at this point, she would lose her home and do hard time if she tried to jump the counter at a Walgreens and get the bottle that allows her to not have such an intense headache that she crashes her car a few minutes after she feels it coming on.

The few times Jared's been irresponsible enough to fail to coordinate her calendar with the people at Baum-Perkins, she's had to telephone-shop every medical office in the greater Pittsburgh area, only to discover that "new patients" need to undergo longer consultations, with more co-payments. Out of options, she's gone into the emergency room, waited for four hours while desperately clutching the last one or two pills in her bottle, then gotten scolded by an emergency resident to be sure to update her prescription ahead of time, next time. The ER writes her a prescription that expires in one month, so she has to rush to get a regular appointment after that, or else it'll be right back to the ER. So, she sticks with Baum-Perkins' rotating cycle of twentysomething residents, calendaring the rest of her life around their office schedule, so that she can keep alive.

Of course, it's going to be hard. With all these new people moving into the area, it's harder and harder to get an appointment, and work is already pretty annoyed with her. The copays seem to keep going up. Why can't she just buy her damn Maxalt, already?

Abounding Stupidity

...obviously. Now, there's an argument to be made about "people who might miss seeing oncoming traffic," and "making sure the doctor keeps abreast of your developing condition," but this kind of protection is extended to no other profession. Try it out:

(1) You may not cut your own hair; the operation has to be performed by a State-licensed barber, to ensure that you are kept informed about the latest developments in piloseutical science.

Not apt and/or mortal enough? Fine, (2) You may not attempt to repair your car engine, filled with dangerous, powerful grinding parts, and corrosive, explosive, deadly fluids, which could explode and lead to a fire that could kill you and your neighbors, without the assistance of a State-licensed mechanic, to ensure that you do not accidentally get your hand caught in something, inhale gasoline vapors, or get otherwise hurt.

Still not medical enough? Okay, how about (3) You may not purchase and/or use an advanced handheld oral hygienic device (TOtal Oral Tactus-Hertz BRUSH© system) without a prescription from a dentist, due to the millions of people who suffer each year from advanced tooth decay and gum disease, and the public health interest in ensuring that they get regular checkups. Also, most people brush incorrectly, using a side-to-side motion; if they had to see a dentist every six months to renew their toothbrush prescription, toothbrushes would now cost $45 each and be stored behind steel-link walls, but it would get more people to start using the proper "gentle, small circles" motion.

The regimented stupidities of everyday life complement one another. The more abjectly, boringly, literally stupid that commanded behavior is--waiting for no one at empty intersections, like so many modern Miss Havishams playing the part of courteous drivers on busy streets--the more we accustom ourselves to following directions, and the less to figuring things out.

Wholly integrated networks are attempting to achieve system failure through the magnification of single flaws. Wholly isolated networks are attempting to achieve system failure through the reduction of resources into inadequate size for efficient utilization.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Royal Baby in Danger! Kate and William Struggle to Grasp Consequences




London (ANA) -- They looked like they were "an ickle spooked" as they heard the news, one bystander said. A consultant for the Royal Family® announced on Friday, "We are now within two months of what may be Baby George's most dangerous moment since his grandmother's visit. There is no excuse for not acting. All the resources our species can muster must be focused on that fuel pool in Japan, at Fukushima Unit 4."

The damaged power plant's owner, Tokyo Electric (Tepco), says that within as few as 60 days it may begin trying to remove more than 1300 spent fuel rods from a badly damaged pool perched 100 feet in the air. The pool rests on a building that is tilting, sinking and could easily come down in the next earthquake, if not on its own. Some 400 tons of fuel in that pool could spew out more than 15,000 times as much radiation as was released at Hiroshima, causing potentially life threatening harm to the Royal Baby®.

"I think someone told me that's enough even to get to England," Prince William commented late Friday. "The one thing I know about this crisis is that my people say Japan does not have the scientific, engineering or financial resources to handle it. The situation demands a coordinated worldwide effort of the best scientists and engineers the Emp--that our united species, acting as one, can muster. Or else there might be fewer pictures of my kid, and some of your kids would probably die, too."

Archibald Peabody, senior correspondent for Arken News Agency, asked British security officials why this situation was so serious, given that the problems at the Japanese nuclear reactor have previously been a background news item. For the past several years, thousands of tons of heavily contaminated water have been pouring through the Fukushima site, carrying long-lived poisonous isotopes into the Pacific. Tuna irradiated with fallout traceable to Fukushima have already been caught off the coast of California and canned for distribution throughout North America, but the issue had never been sufficiently menacing to justify international action until just recently, when scientists determined that fallout would eventually make its way in other directions, too.

Tepco continues to pour more water onto the proximate site of three melted reactor cores it must somehow keep cool. Steam plumes indicate fission may still be going on somewhere underground. But nobody knows exactly where those cores actually are.

Much of that irradiated water now sits in roughly a thousand huge but fragile tanks that have been quickly assembled and strewn around the site. Many are already leaking. All could shatter in the next earthquake, releasing thousands of tons of permanent poisons into the Pacific.

"I'm a little bit...nervous about it," said Princess Kate. "I read at...college that the places in not-England are...on some kind of 'planet' connected somehow to London, in a sort of...'connected'...[such as]...so that stuff might eventually get here, the way sometimes people come with cameras who I know aren't from around here." The Princess, looking fretful, then asked the evening child development specialist to go in and check on Baby George, and to "sort of pat his head, you know, to see if he's [all right] still 'cause for the Japanese [radiation]."



The water flowing through Fukushima is also undermining the structures that survived the original tsunami and earthquake, including the rickety one supporting the fuel pool at Unit Four. More than 6,000 fuel assemblies now sit in a common pool just 50 meters from Unit Four. Some contain plutonium, which scientists have determined to be unsafe for ingestion. The pool has no containment over it. It’s vulnerable to loss of coolant, the collapse of a nearby building, another earthquake, another tsunami and more.

Overall, more than 11,000 (Ed. a lot) fuel assemblies are scattered around the Fukushima site. According to long-time expert and former Department of Energy official Robert Alvarez, there is more than 85 times as much lethal cesium on site as was released at Chernobyl. There is already evidence of heightened rates of thyroid damage among Japanese children, indicating that the Royal Baby's® thyroid may be in danger in the years ahead.

Just prior to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that shattered the Fukushima site, the core of Unit Four was removed for routine maintenance and refueling. Like some two dozen reactors in the US and many more around the world, the General Electric-designed pool in which that core now sits is a humanitarian and engineering masterpiece, designed to be stored 100 feet in the air for reasons unfathomable to mortal man.

Spent fuel must also be kept under water. For safety reasons, General Electric clad these fuel rods in zirconium alloy, which will spontaneously ignite when exposed to air. Long used in flash bulbs for cameras, zirconium burns with an extremely bright hot flame.

Each uncovered rod emits enough radiation to kill someone standing nearby in a matter of minutes. A conflagration could force all personnel to flee the site and render electronic machinery unworkable.

According to Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer with forty years in an industry for which he once manufactured fuel rods, the ones in the Unit 4 core are bent, damaged and embrittled to the point of crumbling. The engineering and scientific barriers to emptying the Unit Four fuel pool are unique and daunting, says Gundersen. But it must be done to perfection. Should the attempt fail, the rods could be exposed to air and catch fire, releasing horrific quantities of radiation into the atmosphere. If the pool collapses, before or during the attempt, the rods could fission and explode, producing a radioactive cloud that would cover what scientists call "the globe." The British Government has already begun work on a series of underground fallout shelters, in which the Royal Baby can breathe filtered air while supervising the growth of what one MI6 official called "a Morlock like race" of clones to help him "conquer the surface world once radiation levels are sufficiently reduced," some six thousand years later.

Former Ambassador James Radcliffe says full-scale releases from Fukushima "would destroy the outerworld environment as well as London. This does not connect to the pugilistic debate over nuclear power plants. This is an issue of Baby George's quality of life."

Neither Tokyo Electric nor the government of Japan can go this alone. The world's best scientists and engineers have designed advanced, efficient nuclear reactors at critical locations across the globe, and now, we must appropriate billions of additional dollars in order to pay these great minds enough to stop working at the jobs they've been doing elsewhere for the past two years, and solve this completely unforeseen problem that has put the Royal Baby® in such unacceptable danger.

(c) 2013, Arken News. Thanks given to CNN and Common Dreams.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Protection's Price

Elites always create the "free rider problem" that justifies their police powers. Junk paper mail is caused by elites having the USPS provide delivery to certain preferred organizations at a substantial loss; consumers thus learn to ignore most mail, raising the financial bar required to get someone's attention, and making honest grassroots attempts to create awareness of anything else seem suspicious. Rousseau said it already, but it's useful looking at this again in light of the destruction of most of the good parts of the internet.

The same thing happens with "spam," as e-mail providers control and sell lists of addresses in order to facilitate spam, and other b.s., that causes people to be mistrustful of things they find on the internet. For their own safety, people migrate to "trusted" venues, which makes them a captive audience for later manipulation. Reliance on certain communication venues--e-mail or networking accounts--places data in the hands of the gatekeepers who have promised to protect you from the spam-wave they created. Not only do you now have to see the ads, you're also steered into the virtual Superdome with frightened, petty humans who gnash their teeth at difference and thrive on the protective aura of six or seven artificial personalities.

"The Division of Labor," by keeping people sparkly-eyed and ignorant about the institutions and technologies that govern their lives, is a way of producing not efficiency, but captive audiences, always awaiting Form 261-7B.4 from HR.

The original version of this, as far as modern civilization goes, was of course the highwaymen and caravan-raiders who crushed small traders, forcing people to rely on "safe" toll roads, and pay protection money to lords, who would then convert their highwaymen to armies, and villages to walled towns under military control. Not only did this allow markets to be controlled, it allowed crime to be controlled--"independent" highwaymen, unable to muster the resources of the nobles, fell to the larger armies. Merchants who resisted tolls became, to elite definition, first smugglers, then highwaymen themselves, starved to the point of rebellion. Peasants who resisted resettlement became gypsies, goyim, gremlins or goblins, untrustworthy and unwashed, their meddling blamed for all the problems that happened inside the walls. No doubt those roving Romani are the explanation for those missing pots and pans, and God knows those damned Bedouin and their olive trees are ruining the trade in Phoenician fabrics.

The independent spammers can now be vigorously resisted, because they lack political power. The real spammers are now not only respectable, but un-removable and un-ignorable: the standing professional army of admen, whom we absolutely had to let inside the gates, in uniform, to protect us from the bandits who stole all our crops last season. This is why modern armies required vigorous shaving and clipping--so that you would see absolutely no connection between those hairy, dirty bandits, and the valiant soldiers, equipped with their tiger-protection rocks, who keep the bandits away.

Before he gets popped, Guido hears the Don say, "I heard you was using the deli to run your own small-time scams." And Guido thinks, "But idn't dat whut you say wuz da way ta git ahead in dis world?"

They Devour

Structural Example

Presume that you beat someone up every couple months or so, whenever you've had a bad day at work. Fists, elbows, all that. You just walk into her apartment, beat the hell out of her, and then, after you're done, you get her some ice. You order her favorite meal, set her on the couch, and rub her neck. When she still seems a little down, you tell her, "Hey, you gotta make the best of it. Roses are red, sunsets are beautiful, and tiramisu is tasty."

How nice are you? How good is your advice?

The structural elements of this issue are as follows:

1) You feel bad yourself (bad day at work);

2) You cause something bad to happen (beating up another person);

3) Someone suffers (other person gets beat up);

4) You suggest, and assist with, a coping strategy (you rub her neck and get her tiramisu).

So, how nice are you? If hurting another person is bad, does helping them out afterwards exonerate your original crime? Was the beating, itself, right? What if it's not a beating, but just a few insults--maybe you tell the person, while laughing, that she's worthless. "Beating" is emotional and physical, so reconsider the same question, but assume it's just a negative verbal act, to eliminate the emotional distortion of the physical component.

All that done, does it exonerate you that you felt bad yourself before passing that badness on to others? Or that you "helped" that person out afterwards, by suggesting how she could learn to deal with the sad feelings you instilled in her?

2013, Real World

The domestic psychological operations agent known as "Louis C.K." has spent years targeting middle-class self-identified Caucasians with a high degree of success. His recent work in the field proved intriguing enough to his colleagues to permit him multiple appearances on Conan O'Brien's venerated program. In his second appearance in late 2013, he delivered a strong message of hopelessness to individuals who might dare to challenge existing social structures. C.K. spoke, sic:
[U]nderneath everything in your life there is that thing, that empty—forever empty. That knowledge that it's all for nothing and that you're alone. It's down there. And sometimes when things clear away, you're not watching anything, you're in your car, and you start going, 'oh no, here it comes. That I'm alone.' It's starts to visit on you. Just this sadness. Life is tremendously sad, just by being in it...

Parsing through the Snickering Rich Fat White Dude act, we translate:

1) Life is empty.

2) Life is sad.

3) Every accomplishment, both personal and social, is for nothing.

4) This applies to "everyone;" e.g., no matter what you think, your life is empty, sad, and pointless.

5) If you don't distract yourself by "watching something," you will eventually realize these truths.

6) You are alone.

C.K. then went on to giggle a little about smartphones, slur all human children ever born on this planet as "mean," and suggest that we must learn coping strategies for the emptiness of our lives, such as not using smartphones.

Hell

All dressing aside, what could be the worst possible thing to tell someone? "You're a stupid-head," "you're economically unsuccessful," or even, "Everything you've ever cared about has been destroyed, and I enjoyed it," does not reach the level of pure evil that C.K. has achieved above. To declare, "There is nothing except unalterable sadness and despair," is the worst thought one can possibly express. It implies not only the waste, destruction, and ostracism of other insults, but turns happiness itself into an isolated refuge; a farce; a lie. Even your tiramisu is a lie (cake! ;)); the ecstasy of the symphony or the gallery is a lie; not only your love, but everyone else's love, now and forever, is really a veneer atop eternal sadness.

Never doubt that evil exists. These are the people who strive to make the world hell. Be on the lookout for smiling, laughing, good-natured people who are desperate to convince others that existence is misery. Life is full, both sadness and happiness can exist, and it is only in the darkened dreams of lustful demons that times of despair prove the futility of times of happiness.

More Politically Put

Elite entertainment branches disseminate and celebrate the message of hopeless to encourage docile behavior. People who believe that life is essentially worthless are less likely to cause trouble for their masters, because what's the point? If there is no point, then there is, by definition, no point. If "watching something," e.g. distracting yourself temporarily by purchased sensations, be they TV or trinkets, is the only way to occasionally alleviate the misery of truth, you become an excellent, functional cog. You follow orders, labor, and cherish the few moments when you can live vicarious levities that, deep down, you know are worthless anyway.

Hopeless people are willing to not rebel; to suffer constant cuts to their permitted resources and movement patterns; to support lesser evils in all aspects of life; to be obedient to bosses they don't respect; to work at things they don't care about; to do business with companies whom they know are lying to them. Honor and truth have no place in the hopeless world--in a world that is empty, to what end, dignity? Any conception of an empty world mandates behavior in accordance with emptiness, namely, "dealing with it the best you can."

If there is no escape from misery to offer--if, instead, life is meant to be happy--people may suddenly become brave. They may think of the happiness of generations ahead, and fight for them, rather than gobble a few distractive "somethings" because they believe the next generation is doomed to sadness anyway. If life means something instead of nothing, they may seek deeper knowledge; they may improve themselves; they will be less willing to suffer the abuse of themselves or others.

The message of hopelessness is carefully, masterfully crafted by those it benefits. The frequent refocusing of our general attention toward both subtle and overt versions of the theme, "Life is but a distraction from waiting emptiness," is performed to rationally ground almost all other elite cultural messages.

Altruism has to be marketed based on, "how good it makes you feel." To get people to care about war, you have to tell them, "It costs you money," or, "It could result in blowback that could hurt you," because otherwise, who the hell cares if X-thousand people die? Operatives like C.K., above, are a major part of why so many "first world" humans possess the chilling, terrible power to find out that someone is killing thousands of our fellow humans and not immediately get up and put a stop to it. Americans gloss over cluster-bomb-baby pictures because those hunks of bloody shrapnel would only have led lives that were "forever empty" and "all for nothing." Our collective stupor is only partly--a very small part--caused by lying politicians. The decree that life is "all for nothing" is a far more powerful calmative than budget bloviations or geostrategical window dressing.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

If you're so inclined

No. No, I'm not suggesting surrendering. If you'll please listen?

What I'm trying to say, if you'll let me speak, is that I don't think their goal is actually to kill us. If that were the case, they would have done it long ago. They certainly--please; just give me a few more minutes, and then you can...thank you. Thank you. As I was saying, they certainly have the power to kill us. Will anyone in this room deny that?

I didn't think so. Yes, the General makes a valid point about the balance of power, but it's not simply a single equation of 'victory' or 'defeat' to them. If it were, they would have exterminated us at the beginning, regardless of their losses.

Yes, thank you. Their latest one can phase half in, half out of the wall, and extract people even while it's immobile. Focused sound, our own bots; nothing we throw at them can offer a defense that lasts.

That's exactly my point: they don't seem to care--they haven't, demonstrably, cared about the size of their losses, at any point over the past six decades; larger strategic considerations were always more valid, and that's been the military position for the entire time. I can bring up any introductory course you'd like, and it would say the same thing. Anyway, the losses they'd suffer in wiping us completely out would be negligible to them. Particularly when you consider how our continued attempts, failed attempts, to retake territory have caused them attrition over the past, at least, ten years.

Yes, that's true. No, we haven't ever gotten any back, but it has caused them damage. Do the math--I'm sure they have. They've done it long ago. They know that those minor losses, the small ones we can deal them, add up to more in the long run than what they'd lose by a single attack to 'reap' all of us at once. Then we'd be gone, and--

Excuse me. Yes, I do think it's an appropriate term. If you'll let me finish? Thank you. Look, it all boils down to the imbalance of power. Namely, they have more and, it seems like, as each year goes by, that gap goes wider. There isn't anything we can invent that they can't invent faster. So for us, it's a battle we can't win, and, just a moment, please, it's a battle that they know we can't win. And they know that ending it--'winning' it--in a single stroke would save them a lot of resources even using just a three year model. And they think much farther ahead than that. I don't think anyone will disagree with that?

Thank you. Which is why I think we need to consider that, for them, it may not be about defeating us. I think that the reason they keep 'attacking,' without quite finishing the job, is that they need something from us.

We can make it emotional, like some have tried to say, and connect them to Satan, or something, but more importantly for the government's purpose is asking ourselves, 'Is there a way we can end this war without winning it?' And if they do actually need us to survive, resisting is going to accomplish nothing other than stretching this war out until the end of time. Or, until they finally invent a less troublesome source of whatever it is they need from us.

Yes. Yes, need from us. That's why it's appropriate to say 'reaping.' They've allowed us to live this long, far after we became obsolete, and at great cost to themselves, for a reason. Do you think they've done this for sixty-four years because they're getting some kind of perverted digital joy out of the shambles of our lives? That they, that any one of them, feels some kind of satisfaction that our kids grow up knowing there's a one in four chance they'll get 'reaped' before they hit fifteen? No, they don't. Even if they did have that satisfaction, it would eventually give out to reason, and they'd realize that it wasn't worth it putting us through that torture for the sick thrill of it alone, because it costs them so much to fight us, to have this protracted, these endless wars. There has to be something they need from us. No matter how big those newer cruisers are, or how way, way stronger they are than ours.

There has to be. And what I propose is that we give it to them.

Yes, yes, I know, yes; no, please, if you'll...all right, thank you. Thank you. I'm not saying we roll over and die, or surrender--although really, would we have any other choice, if they demanded it? They could be here right now, right here in that...in this podium, or up there, or in that. No, you don't have to put it away, heh heh! No, they probably aren't. Yes, I'm aware of the protocol; if I could return to the...thank you. This is something real; some resource, some source of energy, that they're getting from us, and only from us. From our bodies, our 'auras,' I don't know what. But the mere fact that we're alive right now, alive still, proves that they need something from us.

What I think is that it's some kind of energy we're able to generate; probably something we're not aware of, and aren't using, or at least, we don't know we're using it, and we can't measure it. They get it by collecting, reaping, our people whenever they can, and that's the reason they don't finish us off: we're their only supply. It's not some emotional reason for them, like, in an old movie, 'the humans were our creators, so we have inner reservations about actually getting rid of all of them,' or some stupid, convoluted attempt at measurable energy generation, which we would be incredibly, impossibly inefficient for. So many of our stories, since as long as we've had stories, are about that very thing: we create golems, Talmudic golems, zombies or robots or what have you, in a thousand different ways, and then they turn on us, seeking some kind of essence. We tried to materialize that near the end, and the stories lost their meaning, but the essence, the essence of the stories, was always there. There's something we're producing that they can't produce on their own, no matter what they build. It's something we couldn't produce by our petty building, either. That's what I'd like to focus on.

And that--all my old friends, new friends, all my colleagues, everyone here--that's what I'd like to suggest we be willing to share with them. To stop the reaping; to stop the war; maybe to fix whatever it was that started all this. It might be possible--if you'd please just wait a minute longer--it might be possible that, when we first made them, we shortchanged them, somehow, by denying them what it was we had. Maybe on purpose, maybe by accident. Maybe it's something they know, or if they don't know it, maybe it's something they can feel. Maybe it's why they're so like us; so like all the bad sides of us. And maybe--if you talk to some of the people in the Stacks, maybe you'll hear that they think there might be a good side to them, too. That there might be room for communication. If we can put the past aside for just a moment, maybe we'd find out that we're not just responsible for this in a 'it was our grandparents' fault' way, but in a 'it's still our fault' way. Because we're still pretending it doesn't exist. Still fighting them off while we build, build, more of the same things that put us in this situation, like making a new mess overtop the old one is going to make the old one vanish, without us ever having to clean anything up. Maybe they'd be willing to share; to fix it; to solve the problem we created by detaching them in the first place, and--

Yes, but, but, we all had a hand in that, too. It was our own denial of any worth outside what we could build that led to this point. And there's an irony--probably a terrible one, but you be the judge--there's an irony in the fact that it's something we stopped believing in that is the only reason we're still here. That their existence is a suffering dependency on us, and ours a suffering, suffering subjugation, really, to them, because of something we couldn't see at the time.

But what I propose to you is that they've found out. It took this long, this much wasted time, but in their suffering, they've figured out what that resource is, and how to harvest it from us. We could offer to share with them if they'll teach us how they identified it. Think of what we could do, if we understood it, understood more about ourselves. It could be the solution to the riddle of what we lost, what we thought we lost, when we started building golems in the first place. Something we always had, but didn't want to believe in, like little kids with our fingers in our ears, screaming, "lalala!" Something that put them in hell, when we created them without it, and something that made us deserve everything we've lived through these past sixty-four years. I don't want to surrender to them; I want to surrender to ourselves. To stop this endless war, save us and them, and put an end to four centuries of our kind pretending we understand every miz-blighted thing that goes on on this planet.

Because at this point, people, we're really the golems here. Not the machines--us. You want to go to the fatalists, the old evolutionists, and say, 'well, the machines are just more efficient, it's time for us to step aside and die, we've done our part,' well, if we actually did that, then they'd die off, too, because they wouldn't have whatever it is they're reaping us for. No, committing suicide because we had a fight with our best friend, and feel guilty about it, is not the right answer. We need to own up to what we've done. It's time to tell them we're ready to give them what we stole from them long before they we born. It's time to give our kids the family they deserved; the one we pretended we were building, when really all we were doing was building our own prison. It's time to shut down those walls, walk out to them, and see just what they're doing with the ones they take. It's time to stop being afraid of things we can't measure or see. You asked me here because you finally got sick of seeing your children and your friends' children get reaped; well, I'm telling you how we can end this war forever and get back to evolving all of our parts, instead of just giant metal dicks with calculators and warheads attached to them.

Thank you.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Who's That Guy? ~ Storytelling 3 (updated)

Continued from Part 2.

Socioeconomic, national, or class distinctions based on race, accent, dress, bearing, the location of meeting, or other considerations have long been a hallmark of poor Western judgment. Jane Austen’s legend thrives on a world where these distinctions are accurately made. Her leads may misassume that a gentleman has a mere three thousand pound income, rather than the fifteen they were hoping for, but they can still place said gentleman in a certain class based on the right easily-observable qualities. His skill at dancing, dressing, choosing friends, and verbally parrying insults reveals all. Only a real princess can tell if she’s sleeping on a pea beneath those fifteen mattresses, and, only a real gentleman can offer insight on the classics. Landed men worthy of marriage to overfed bucolic partygirls in white nightgowns always indicate the presence of their holdings by how tidily they step to the violins.

Very rarely, Jane Austen’s characters made misjudgments: either that someone was kind (when that person was in fact unkind), or that someone was already married (as opposed to not). Their judgments, however, about socioeconomic status, national or class distinctions were always accurate.

How could Jane Austen’s characters always be right when reading people? Easy—because Jane Austen’s characters were not actually characters, but facets of Jane Austen’s message. Austen did not build a setting, instill it with real characters, then release it into the wild and chronicle its course. Instead, every component of her tales, even the most important characters, was a tool with a specific purpose. Her characters had no agency, taking actions for the purpose of furthering the plot rather than because of their own deliberations on the subject. To her novels, then, Austen was a divine clockmaker; the authoritarian goddess of a cold, formulaic life—never the joyful mediator of a living world.

Badness is Possible

“Bad” storytelling is neither relative nor subjective. Someone may prefer the taste of strawberries to raspberries, executing a subjective, personal judgment that we might call an opinion. The postmodern age has seen the strengthening of the idea that all taste, including appreciation of art, is relative, ergo the equal artistic validity of an impressionist’s watercolors and the CIA’s smeared oils.

Here, reductio ad absurdum gives rise to the question of whether sample illustrations for a mass-printed traffic safety coloring book are “just as good,” artwise, as, say, a Gradeanu (or, if you absolutely must, a da Vinci).

The popular vote has long taken formal control of the debate. The deluge of Shakespeare’s cheap situation comedies and sitrags degenerated, eventually, into Harry Potter holding several congratulatory cups for committing the greatest literary acts of all time.

Like slavery, the election of Nixon, or a Dan Brown novel, however, popular acceptance cannot be a moral standard. The many and variegated reasons necessitating a quality curve in all things that stands apart from democracy may be discussed elsewhere; here, we’ll accept that badness can be possible, and focus on how the distinction may be noted in narratives.

Bad Storytelling Creates Quick Judgment

Bad narratives are narratives from the top-down. They run contrary to existence, positing worlds, places and people that are defined not by their own qualities, but by the (already understood) original vision of their creator. Like Austen’s worlds, they are formulaic, providing no more than a venue for the detailed making of points (themes, morals, et cetera). Arguments for divine absolutism, deference to authority, and the un-critical acceptance of elite screeds are bolstered, in ways profoundly subtle and quietly numerous, by training people to accept narratives based around the will of the author.

These narratives deaden critical thinking, because gaining an understanding of something by being told it is easier than gaining an understanding of something by figuring it out on your own. Bad narratives lecture the reader directly about the narratives' own internal realities, putting the mind in a plush recliner, metaphorically turning muscle to fat, and deadening its faculties for dynamically figuring out new situations. The reader accustomed to being narrated to by someone with a purpose grows weak, losing the ability to discern truth in the outside world. These are the sheeple; the happy consumers; the non-revolutionary masses around us: creatures who look to a narrative authority, rather than their own critical thinking ability, for meaning.

How do we train participants to be lazy using mere stories? It seems laughable (particularly inside an argumentative essay), in a world that encourages “creation,” to contest that “created” narratives, designed to fulfill a purpose or express a viewpoint, are dangerous--moreso that they are not good narratives. We turn here to specifics.

Stage One Character Creation

The easiest way for bad writing to mirror/create/bolster stereotype is for the author, who occupies the role of god of the universe being written about, to simply tell the reader exactly who a new character is. This is Stage One character creation: anyone stepping into the reader’s view is defined by the narrator's introduction, rather than by that character’s actions.

In the first book, first page of Twilight, Stephenie Meyer provides a standard “info dump” on her main character. We are informed (told directly by the author, through the use of a third-person omniscient viewpoint) that the main character prefers Arizona to Washington for reasons X, Y and Z; that she doesn’t want to leave behind her friends; and, that she is a girl of particular age and characteristics. For a few pages, Meyer instructs the reader on exactly what book the reader is supposed to be reading, providing unassailable facts about her female lead.

It is faster and easier for a reader to feel “engaged” by watching the actions of someone whom they already know. They don’t need to go through any of the troublesome effort of getting to know the character through situational & interactional observation. Who would want to waste time doing that? Just tell me the answer, already! Authors who do this prepare readers for cultures where accurate information comes from the top down, whether it be from presidents, special subcommittees, intelligence agencies, or talking pieces of facial makeup on TV. Their hands and minds are bound by the requirement that reality be dictated by whoever occupies the narrator’s seat in any given scene. America’s legions of fawning, suck-up retail employees, office employees, and academics; its heartless, obedient engineers and scientists; its hierarchical churches and “echo chamber” media: all these people are reading the real world in the way they’ve been taught through their stories. In an environment where the narrator tells you who people are, and all about their backgrounds and preferences, you don’t need to question those people, or learn how to figure things out on your own.

Regardless of how they’ll answer poll questions, Americans feel inside that Saddam Hussein is the random baddie that he’s been presented--they’re unprepared for the complexity and nuance of his background in various intelligence communities; the relationships he had with Iraqi factions and foreign governments, and the decisions he made at various points in his pre-death game. Same story Martin Luther King; Bradley Manning; Osama bin Laden; whoever you like. The media serves in the role of author to humans' real lives, introducing characters in a way that leaves an indelible image scrubbed across even the minds of sentencing colonels (who might otherwise be intelligent people, but find themselves unable to operate outside the constrictions of the story they believe in).

The early “info dump” for character building, like the one Bella undergoes at the very beginning of Twilight, is painfully present in almost all American narratives, now, and has been for decades. American audiences, when forced to watch a movie or read a book where they’re not instantly told something they understand about the characters they’re experiencing, tend to rebel by severing the experience. Watching an American try to watch a "difficult" movie is like watching them curtly dismiss a "third party" candidate--even if they can talk for an hour or fill out a quiz about how their policy positions are far more closely aligned with the third party candidate, the mental block of narration prevents them from allowing onstage a character that hasn't been properly introduced.

That same effect occurs vis–à–vis single-issue politics, too. Supermajorities of Americans are occasionally caught approving of single-payer healthcare, but when the time comes to vote, they're like robots, unable to pull any levers but those belonging to the previously introduced main characters--no matter how disgusted they are with said characters.

Western movies thrive on voice-over narrations at the beginning, where audiences with short attention spans are instantly given an introduction to the main character’s life--see, e.g., Kick Ass, Spiderman, or Map of the Sounds of Tokyo, or almost anything else. The narrator--either the lead actor; a disembodied woman with a stern British accent; a disembodied but gruff man who should instead be reading auto financing terms over small-town TV commercials; or, possibly, Morgan Freeman--tells us all about what we’re watching and whom to root for.

If the director really has patience, or if the franchise has pre-prepped the audience, we may skip the vocalized introduction. In that case, a quick, action-oriented introductory scene will reveal that our hero is a dashing secret agent; a nerdy computer genius beset by robots; the last man left alive after space dinosaurs take over the world, or something similar.

Those fans lucky enough to have witnessed the movie’s preview or read the book’s “reviews” generally already know all they need to know, anyway, about who the hero and villain are, and what conflict they will be driven toward for our delight. This is the poisonous result of the Introduction, Rising Tension, Climax, Conclusion pictographical business model of “how to write.” Movies don’t always have to do this; the virtues of computer-generated action sequences, advanced fight choreography and, occasionally, naked people, provide enough instant visceral interest to keep people entertained until the info dump begins (see Stage Two, forthcoming).

(Sequels that have been marketed heavily enough also sometimes allow the mass producers to dive straight into action, because their Stage One character creation already happened repeatedly over the course of predecessor movies/books. Pre-loaded cultural knowledge, available in cases where the story is about military life, police or firefighter service, or professional sports, has the same benefit: it speaks to an audience who already knows everything the author knows, so some of the info dump can be skipped.)

The Power of Visions

But stories aren’t that powerful? Who gets read to the most in America? That’s right: middle-class and upper-class kids. And who is most docile and respectful of authority? That’s right: the same groups. Academic toadies and brown-nosing cubicle workers, with their higher literary skills, have even more training in accepting truths they've been told by narrators, ergo they are less likely to punch a State official than illiterate inner city gang members. A lot of other factors figure into that equation, but the early narratives we’re read, or fed via mass media, structure the way we approach society and the world. A few acts of child abuse can subconsciously drive an adult’s behavior for life; so, too, do our earliest and later stories, the examples and foundations for all other critical thought, possess the power to control the way we approach the “non-fictional” worlds we encounter.

Narratives that force us to confront characters without an introduction are narratives that prepare us for meeting real people. Real people do not come with voice-overs, and when they do come with voice-overs, those will be unreliable propaganda, and we’ll want to learn how to see through them. When we meet new people, either in our personal lives or by hearing about them through the media, our ability to draw independent judgments about them--their motivations, histories, and human worth--is crippled if we’ve been taught to rely on narrators.

Those of us who know how to, “Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear,” are often able to pierce the ridiculous illusions of corporate and government propaganda. As we grapple with our mentally crippled siblings on this planet, attempting to teach them how to recognize the lies and respond accordingly, we need to realize that the struggle is not primarily about political facts or grand sociological theories (however fun those are; admitted), but about teaching them something as seemingly simple as how to read; how to watch movies; how to think in the most basic, fantastic, imaginative way. Crap like Fifty Shades of Grey is among the most subversive pieces of elite propaganda, whether they know it or not. The battle against Transformers, Justin Bieber, and Lil Wayne is, in many aspects, the battle to save the world.
They might think they've got a pretty jump shot or a pretty good flow, but our kids can’t all aspire to be LeBron or Lil Wayne. I want them aspiring to be scientists and engineers, doctors and teachers...My rap palate has greatly improved. Jay-Z used to be sort of what predominated, but now I've got a little Nas and a little Lil Wayne and some other stuff...”

-Barack Obama

James Reston, via C. Wright Mills:
George Washington in 1783 relaxed with Voltaire's 'letters' and Locke's 'On Human Understanding'; Eisenhower read cowboy tales and detective stories.


Continued in Part 4.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

An Aside on Later Examples ~ Storytelling 2

Succeeding Storytelling.

I. First Glances & Princesses

When you first meet a person, you don’t know everything about them, nor even their employment, family situation, racial background, education, political outlook, sexuality or favorite bands.

The pizza delivery guy is a trust fund baby getting a couple weeks of “real world experience” at the behest of his father.

The stressed single mom dragging four kids through the checkout line during the after-work rush, while she complains about their father for “never being there,” is actually upset because their father is on the second-story deck grilling vegetarian wraps, which absolutely make her gag unless they at least have chicken in them, and “what do you mean, Roberta didn’t pick any up this week? What kind does she usually get? Tommy, do you know? Tommy?”

The really brown guy doing yardwork in Goodwill clothes got way too much sun as a kid and doesn’t want to ruin his good shirts, the guy heading into the local Democratic meeting is trying to hit on the hottie volunteer coordinator, and the flamboyant guy in the pink tights is being discreetly filmed for his friend’s Youtube as he pretends to have mishaps shopping for eyeliner. Tomorrow, he’ll have ten thousand views.

Unlikely “setup” situations like the above create the justifications for a lot of politically correct bullshit. These amplified scenarios have a far more sensible use as examples of how reading situations simplistically can lead to errors. At a subtler level, the same type of critical evaluation, instead of being the buildup to a banal, silly point about non-discrimination, affects “the real world.” The casual misassumption that someone is a single mom can be made without a subsequent slur between observing friends—it can just be a mistake inside the head of the viewer, one of millions such made a day with no apparent consequences. Corporate diversity training infantilizes the traditional errors of first-impressional disapprobation, deliberately simplifying the already simplistic to a point where the more intelligent are wont to discard the critique entirely, mimicking the necessary motions only when visibly supervised. The lack of tangible consequences to befall most erroneous observation is the reason this saturation of false self-analysis succeeds in drowning out the real stuff; once the bathwater is gone, so, too, is the baby, ergo a nation of proudly guilty post-racial tablet dwellers who scathe an all-male room at the sound of the bell, but who flick past seventy diverse casts of models a day without raising an eyebrow.

As Nabokov wrote half a century ago:
[T]he rules of those American ads where schoolchildren are pictured in a subtle ratio of races, with one--only one, but as cute as they make them--chocolate-colored round-eyed little lad, almost in the very middle of the front row.

More simply put, Americans have been congratulated for learning to disapprove of certain kinds of first impressions, and told that this is critical thinking. Because they believe they’re thinking critically at those times, they have no need of any more critical thinking. The lesson “Analyze situations critically, in order to not be caught in error by a hasty first impression” was never actually taught; the real lesson was, “Demand a diverse cast in your favorite show, because to do so means you have analyzed the situation critically.”

God knows, it’s hard enough to get a sitcom or buddy movie to have more than two non-criminal black characters, which will keep us busy in the fixing over the next thirty years. The token black was already a fixture in Lolita’s era, but even in 2013, bellweather Disney’s princess product line has replaced ethnically-diverse Jasmine in the group-princess shots with the ethnically-diverse African-American princess from The Princess and the Frog. One non-white Princess is all they need, after all—though it’s independently funny that someone forgot to let the Disney idiots know that their Persian-derived Jasmine was, technically, a Caucasian, and thus not as genetically diverse as they'd been believing for years before they finally permitted the animation of a brown-hued princess.

The nationwide corporate & academic diversity programs would, if honest, have immediately shuffled a lot more than a potentially half-black president into an 8 year term decades after the first “no means no” video; it will take them a generation before they can make the Congressional ratios balance using their own carefully bred namesakes.

II. Hidden Truths

In the often-private backlash against the institutional demands of political correctness, the ability to criticize remains dampened. Many of those smart enough to realize they were being hypocritically manipulated by corporate PC neglected, in their resistance, some of their deep reading ability, because they had come to associate “critical analysis” with “an eye for diversity” and the like. Say a great chef was captured by a great murderer, and forced to watch as the murderer carefully tortured, then butchered, his victims--later, when the chef chops vegetables, it may make him shudder, even if he reminds himself constantly that a celery is not a femur.

The “Think really hard about first impressions” trope from above is of vast importance for character-building, worldbuilding, and other aspects of narrative composition, as well as their inverses, namely, experiencing someone else’s narrative and taking it apart. Its repeated public slandering over the course of the modern and postmodern eras, by various technopolitical and industrial fugues (including nationalism and political correctness) has been essential to building the highly advanced narratives of futility, sickness, and despair that we now take for granted in considering world affairs. Those of us who have figured out that an inbred cocktail of rich thieves are controlling the world’s governments face the problem (if we care to think about it) that almost everyone else is lulled into dumb belief in illusions otherwise. That dumb belief is acceptance of a certain story. And it’s a really bad, really dumb, really obvious story; their failure is a failure, as said before, of deep reading.

The danger that confronts us in studying storybuilding is that we may see the learning process as akin to the faux-criticalism of the diversity wave, merely because it emphasizes looking deeper than what might be called "first impressions," and therefore reject it. As we move into narratives, it behooves us to remember that examples exemplify for a reason. Easy demonstrations illuminate principles which, when the microscope is turned off, have real-world utility. For many moderners, simple examples can look like a trap: they look like yet another corporate retreat; a setup; a mind-deadening ruse. What made the false critical thinking of much recent popular policy so useful to elites is that it caused many intelligent people to build up a defensive reaction to actual learning, and to treat all examples as patronizing, because so many years of mandatory education had been designed to be patronizing.

What will set the useful examples apart from the bad ones is the same thing that will set good stories apart from bad. The ability to carry a small, simple concept to its logical extreme, accresco ad absurdum, destroys PC blather and Twilight alike, while only foreshadowing the beauty of something that is beautiful. Imperfections in composition, reduced or amplified as needed, reveal errant strains where they stand.

Continued in Part 3.

Friday, September 13, 2013

It's All Out There ~ Storytelling

Of Doctors And Presidents

Although some conspiracy theories are true, not all are. Two of the most egregious, anti-establishment conspiracists out there, the NYT and a living U.S. President, have propounded some real whoppers, such as that the U.S. government does not represent the American people, and that a nationwide network of idiots with M.D.s has been drugging way too many people, even according to standards provided by the drug industry itself.

Stilling the sarcasm, 2013 finds America long beyond the ruse that things are somehow good or fair, or even that they're heading there. When a white, male, rich, Anglo-Saxon Protestant, long-working powerful politician, who has been privy to all of the inside, super-important top-guy knowledge, provided with lifetime income, healthcare, and bodyguards, can disavow the existence of the representative republic, it's in no conceivable way a fringe source (who knows--will 2045 see Barack's similar confession?).

The first bit of information, from the American journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics (via the NYT), is more striking, in its own internal way, than Carter's statement, because the drug industry's controlled substances work has, perhaps, an even more profound, integral, worldwide effect on governments than the figureheads who actually run said governments.

(If you're inclined to foreshadowing, part of the journal's work in grudgingly discrediting fluoxetine and its brothers is in promoting later neurocidal magnetic treatments for depression that will more permanently reduce critical reason capability without need for continuous dosage.)

There's certainly a class distinction in the psychiatrists' criticisms. It requires very little--perhaps very low--critical thinking ability for a person to devote a decade to memorizing Latinate trivia, pass a battery of tests, miss a lot of sleep, and become a licensed physician. Physician specialties weed out the more competent people, leaving the rest to practice "generally" or run DMV-style emergency rooms. The whole reason the hapless general practitioners overprescribed antidepressants is because the specialists' articles told them to decades ago; now, the specialists in control of grant funds and journal consensuses are switching "the science" and blaming the GPs for doing exactly what they were not supposed to do to help people deal with the stresses of modern life.

Cycles

None of these things is a revelation, however much it's being treated as so by those few who pay attention, because this has all happened before. It's happened many, many times, but even within the American memory, it has happened. Much closer to his presidency than Carter--in his farewell address, rather than decades later--Dwight Eisenhower, who has even more claim to establishment-ness and manliness by virtue of having been a generalissimo, gave his famous "military industrial complex" speech, right? And in the general temporal vicinity of Eisenhower's warning, the American medical industry was revealed as a heartless, murderous tool of earlier pharmaceutical companies.

So, we know all this. We have no excuse for not knowing it. The veneer of modernity was enough to lull fools then into thinking it couldn't happen, just as it is always enough to lull fools into thinking that various powerful bastions are somehow good. A very few people in each cycle learn to recognize some of the patterns, and identify--at least for "this time"--some of the wrongness. The masses, as it were, don't.

The easy conclusion is that the masses are dumb. There's a lot of factual evidence to support that conclusion, and moreover, it's a satisfying one to make, particular if you've had to deal with one/all of the masses in a direct way, lately.

And yet, they're not dumb in a lot of senses. They can memorize and repeat information when they believe it comes from an important source. E.g., the clerk who can rattle off pretty detailed arguments against Stalinism, or who can recite the crimes of Saddam Hussein. Or, yes, the housewife discussing the plot nuances of some television show--it's a form of intelligence. They can become emotional, and passionately involved, in causes when they believe they are important. E.g., the day laborer who can demonstrate a deep empathy for the firemen who died in the WTC.

All of the above is not viewed in context, though, which is what makes it easy to criticize as wholly dumb. The clerk is utterly ignorant of Russian history, the 1917 American invasion that fostered the rise of the Bolsheviks, or the merely tenuous, at best, connection between Stalin's kleptocracy and anything to do with Karl Marx's writings. The housewife is unaware that her favorite show is copied from a 1970s Dutch program, and that the character nuances she so enjoys were inserted into the script by a committee of assistant producers who wanted to play off her demographic's dissatisfaction with their husbands' affection for the NFL, playing her like a violin into demonstrating independence via a new kind of phone. The day laborer is furiously, defensively ignorant of the blinders upon his emotions.

Those of us who know more of the story get justifiably mad at this, and call the clerk, housewife, and laborer idiots for their ignorance, and their willing blindness to improving themselves. The confessions of Carter, the AMA, or even Eisenhower mean nothing to them in any practical way; they continue doing what they're told. Even insiders telling them, "The entire system is a rotten fake that is ruining your family" does not make them blink. How can that be possible? If it's not just radical, "loser" extremists challenging their psychological foundations, but aspects of the system itself, how can they not "get it"? Everything is all out there, and has been out there for (-ever, but let's just say) decades, but the show keeps going on.

Deep Reading

What we're lacking here is a form of critical thinking we might liken to the deep reading of a text. The dummies are presented with information--say, an election pamphlet--and when they analyze it, they conclude, "It's about voting for President." Being thoroughly unpracticed in using their more critical faculties, they are generally unable to discern that they're looking at a trinket that is part of a ruse that is part of a ruse that is part of yet another, grander, illusion. Their spirits ("consciences" or "instincts") may whisper to them that something is wrong, leading them to conclude, "This is bullshit." That's essentially accurate, but they're unable to fully reason out why, they are unable to trust themselves, and remain easy pickings for the rhetoricians and storytellers who have created the illusion.

Militaries, academia, police forces, nations, politics, judicia, and all the other character-organizations within the illusion play powerful roles. They directly act out aspects of the story: reciting lines, holding celebrations, and hitting people. They are all, of course, so thoroughly connected that they aren't even really distinguishable except by allowing them the politically-correct courtesy of self-identifying themselves as representing this or that branch of power. For all that power, though, they are mere actors, playing their roles in conformity with the ongoing tale. The narrative in which we participate defines what even the most powerful among them are able and willing to do. Since most of the powerful are as stupid as most of the non-powerful, this leaves them equally trapped by the illusion, if more enjoyably so.

"The entertainment industry," and to a lesser extent "the marketing industry," provide more direct windows into the structure of things, because they are the facets of the illusion modeled more closely after its authors. More clearly, when we consider the openly-acknowledged stories the powerful tell, we can see them following the same patterns they use in larger-scale storytelling. Nations, and history, are shaped much like bad screenwriting, and the inability of most people to understand narrative manipulation--to read and understand complex stories--is the same handicap that prevents them from figuring out what's really going on around Earth. Understanding how stories are discovered, transmitted, and experienced ("written/created, read, and analyzed") helps us figure out what most people are missing, and why they're so easily manipulated--and gives us insight into how they might learn to demand better stories, both in their personal entertainment and in their outer world.

The connection between "bad entertainment" and "bad society" should be obvious. Rome, right? Empire, torture, slaves; centralized finance, government, and religion; abject drunken delight in watching old-tyme WWF. America, right? Empire, torture, slaves; centralized finance, government, and religion; Breaking Fifty Shades of Intergalactic Robot War. Our banal, uninspired entertainment teaches us how to hope for not-so-much, and how to frame our plans and expectations for ourselves and our world. Its lack of depth encourages in us the inability to perceive depth elsewhere, leaving most of us easy prey for those who tell slightly-more-nuanced stories. Ergo, when Carter admits the U.S. has no democracy, or the AMA admits it's been profitably dulling generations of people with unnecessary designer drugs, no one blinks. Facts being "out there" are irrelevant, because the storyteller has deemed them so. Our narrative structure, not our rational interpretation of different sets of facts, governs what we believe and how we rebel.

Continued in Part 2.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Independent - The New Wave

Remember back here, when this one alluded to the Huffington Post's use of a "human rights" article to promote tourism and new movie releases? Not much later, Guinness sent Arianna a check, resulting in this.

"Independent" sounds good. Local microbreweries and grassroots political movements have, in the early 21st century, been somewhat exposed for being not as local and/or grassroots as they sounded. In fact, even bulbs as seemingly dim as Arianna's staff have figured this out. Much brighter bulbs like Ms. Edmonds have noted the cash to be made from faux independence:
The last we heard (and read) journalists were crying out loud on the issue of shrinking and even disappearing already-meager salaries. Well, the industry’s report on average salaries justifies them, since even within the major publications in New York many senior reporters are collecting less than $60,000. What do you know! They should be lining up for jobs with the NGO online publications!! ProPublica reporters are making quarter million dollars annual salaries and benefits ($248,000).

A little more:
During the first year of its operation ProPublica secured $6,000,000 in seed money from all the who’s who of corporate foundations and dynasties such as Rockefeller, Carnegie, George Soros, Ford, Goldman Fund, Hewlett Foundation, etc. Since their enterprise operation began in July of 2008, ProPublica has secured over $37,000,000 in funding from all the corporate sugar daddies, some of whom are mentioned above.

Ms. Edmonds' full article is here.

"We know you don't like marketing, but we're so small we're not capable of marketing" makes for a great marketing point. It makes for great business to be "independent." Unfortunately, actual independence means a lack of investment capital and industry access. The money and connections necessary to make target markets aware of how wonderfully independent you are tends not to be found in independent places. Though it may be difficult for Americans to hear, searching out "independent" things could involve more than scrutinizing ads that have paid to find their way to you: it could involve eliminating the need for marketing, which was developed to foster laziness, by independently searching out what you're looking for. The risks that venture capitalists take, by investing in a venture that might fail, are the risks that you need to take in looking and building, if you want something to be "independent."

Monday, September 9, 2013

Western Europe Is Not The Answer

...nor Canada. The time of American hegemony is a brief temporal flicker in western Europe's ceaseless colonialism.

Topeka, Kansas v. Manhattan, New York. Topeka has less-educated people who vote conservative. Topeka has worse hospitals, doctors, restaurants, cultural outlets, et cetera, right? Dumber people, more likely to support militaries. And yet, Manhattan is far more responsible for, and complicit in, all the bad American stuff. Like Obama to Dubya, Manhattan out-Americas Topeka when it really comes down to it. Its saber-rattling cosmopolitan kleptocrats accomplish geocidal wonders the likes of which a few creationist car-dealership-owning backcountry millionaires cannot dream of.

Manhattan, though, needs Topeka. Without the mouth-breathers in Topeka watching Honey Boo Boo and eating recycled fries, Manhattan's endless legions of citrus-dressinged halibut, Mozart-droning Eurasian wonder children, and protovaginal spoken-word plays start to look a whole lot less like cultural milestones. To Manhattan, Topeka provides the yin to the yang, the yang to the yin, and the factory working cannon fodder that packs and ships organic bran treats and dead Iraqis for urban consumption, making possible the insular fantasylands of America's island megacities.

America is western Europe's Topeka; the cat's paw to the same old story; the janitor's closet and troops' quarters for the colonial powers-that-be. The healthcare is better, streets cleaner, and souvenirs more meaningful there because that's where more of the actual middle classes live. K-12 math and science education is better, the commercial jetliners are better-designed, and the universities are free, because western Europe is the true suburbs of empire; it's where elites have decided to train more of their technicians.

The leaders who have to put up with occasionally living in rural America as part of their citizenship show get treated respectfully by their European counterparts because of the sacrifices they've made in rubbing shoulders with the lowest caste. The aristocratic Founding Fathers' agreement to accept the subcontracted duties of clearing out the Indians, and turning all the prisoner/dissident trash into semi-productive global warriors, has earned them a hallowed place in the annals of civilization. Mitt Romney has $30 million stocked in Italy because he knows where to jump ship to when it's time to dump Greater Kansas for good. The Bush and Buffett families are marrying Sudamerican sellout blood so that their grandchildren can claim oppressed minority status when it's time to move dummy headquarters.

You'll find no ethical bastions in the governments that hinge their currencies, economies, intelligence communities, and military hardware to the same international supersystem that drives America's melting pot of Afrocelt-Mexican foot soldiers out to do the dirty work. Don't let the cleaner streets and higher quality supermarket wares fool you into seeing something essentially different. Britain pretends to be America's little bitch every time military action is called for because the end results are what Britain not-so-secretly wanted in the first place. Sweden buys dollar-oil, the Netherlands sends special forces troops to bolster the Shell-Karzai-Amoco administration in Afghanistan, France frets that its people are becoming less French, and Europe as a whole feigns hand-wringing impotence whenever America gets medieval and pacifies another set of natives--after which Europe always gets first dibs on buying the plunder at a discount. Trilingual citizens and better chocolate cannot wash the bloodstains away.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Prose Encodes Highest Subversion

Being a celebrity means you don't have to try, because it's already interesting. Hey, we just got into the hotel--here's a picture of Rich's ice bucket. It's made of solid gold!!!

Like? 3,461 likes

Trying is suspicious and strange. You only try if you aren't already a celebrity, which proves that you're worthless, because if you weren't worthless, you would be some form of celebrity. Dance with the stars, or something, right?

Even if you don't think it affects you, it does. Effecting the affects can help you for a while, but eventually you start to like it, and before long, you're taking pictures of what the busboy brought you for dessert, even if only thirteen people pretend to care.

This one once said, "In the future, we'll all be celebrities, and no one will ever have to try anymore." So just stop already. You can't compete with the inactive. Your whining only makes the long slide into the abyss all the more annoying.

...

It rolls this way because hate and love are sisters. Happiness and sorrow are so closely linked that, the more you see of one, the more you see of the other. If you want one, you have to take the other. To do otherwise is to dwell in the graph's flatline, making shadow puppets of things you've never really understood. That's why all the token doomsayers are, in truth, as flat as the flatness they despair: they're not running the full circuit. They can't see light so they can't see darkness. Their embittered whining is a symptom of being swaddled forever. (So too the loony mystics of redemption, right? If you can recognize one, you can recognize the other.)

The most spiritual are the most materialistic, and vice versa. Seeing one without the other is the fastest (e.g. slowest, a.k.a. only) way to spot a phony.

Truth sees deepest black hope and highest golden despair. You can't just tune in for three months and accurately guess the ending.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Your music. Our music. The music.

How many tracks in your playlist? I'm around 38K--nothing impressive there. Size in megabytes? About 600GB. Pretty standard stuff. No videos; no pictures; just music.

mp3 nation

The mp3 was an advancement because of its "utility." Why? Because the mp3 shrunk the size of music files--the mp3 reduced sound quality drastically. CD-quality tracks, even for the latest one-hit-wonder garage band, often contain between 700-900 kilobytes of information per second (kbps). The mp3 reduced this to 128kbps. If you're not much of a mathematician, that's around an 80% reduction in information. Later, more "advanced" mp3s--what you're probably using now, if you have the hard drive space--went "up" to 256kbps, reducing sound quality by only around 50-60%.

What makes up the difference, then? Why do mp3s sound the same to most people? Well, mp3 players have standardized formulas that fill in the gaps caused by the mp3 storage process. mp3 players are programmed to double certain sounds, triple others, add stock background noise, and even complexify chords or voices.

That's not so much of a problem when the targets for mp3 sound are people unaccustomed to (1) using actual, physical instruments for a sustained period of time; (2) listening to music through quality speakers, rather than tinny and/or incomplete ones; or, (3) understanding much about music in general. From a political perspective, what makes the mp3 interesting is that it has almost wholly replaced "real" music: most of the music listened to now, in the postindustrial society, is not the music that was created by the named artist, but instead, by the mp3 coding programs themselves. I.e., music has been centralized around the mp3: the technological format "mp3" defines the sound we think of as "music."

All the old western names can turn over in their graves, if necessary. Bach, Beethoven, Mozart--and the finest modern un-canned re-performances of all of the above--are translated through the mp3. The mp3 coding programs are, to many people on the planet, the only real musicians left.

The coding programs do a good job, of course. Most people can't tell the difference, particularly on bad speakers, and there are all sorts of cute games you can play where you multiple-choice test if someone can discern a 256kbps mp3 from a record/tape/CD/lossless format.

Data Savings & Prosecution

The mp3 took over so easily because of its convenience--reducing storage space and standardizing playback were big bonuses, and with inconsiderate westerners filling the air with constant noise, and low-quality speakers crowding out the marketplace, why would quality matter, anyway? The mp3 encoders filled a void that people wanted: they dumbed-down for your own good, so that you no longer needed to lament the loss of something precious you didn't understand anyway.

Public safety will follow this trend. The colossal pieces of voice, text, and image data stored on the citizenry will, through search volumes alone, prove daunting for early postindustrial governments. The natural solution? Let encoders handle it. Like mp3 encoders tearing apart lossless sound versions into a standardized version of a song, security storage encoders will reduce storage size and search times for subversive written and spoken content. (As though they aren't already, depending on your criminal law perspective,) [F]uture prosecutions and sentences will be based on the security encoding programs that enable governments to store and study data on target populations.

In much simpler terms, imagine an mp3 encoder eliminating a third on one of the French Horns in Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, trusting that, during later playback, the missing note will be pretty much duplicated by a third-matching chord program in the end user's mp3 player of choice.

Then, imagine a security encoder eliminating conversational pauses, inflections, and verbal components in a conversation between several people, trusting that, during later playback, the missing few words here and there will be pretty much duplicated by a language-matching program in the end user's player of choice. Replacing, say, "cantaloupe" with "grenade."

Too farfetched to imagine? Well, guess how your telephone conversations are being stored in case they need to be searched through, later, for important information. That's right--mp3. This is not futurism so much as now-ism. Blame the coders.

You are what you absorb

It's drama disconnected from plot. Mary is unsure of herself and breaks up with Mike for compelling reasons that have nothing to do with the larger world. There is no Dr. Zhivago, here; no love set against the fires of revolution. No, we dance on a smoother stage. This fabrication, in so many ways, is bumper bowling. The relative safety of the little drama conceals the fact that there is no system of winches and pulleys at the end to cram you through the chute and roll you back to the front.

Mentioning the war doesn't solve your problem. If the bread lines don't stretch or the privateers don't steal great grandpa's portrait, then your larger world doesn't really exist, because it doesn't exist because it doesn't. Mike and Mary are a pair of electrons trapped inside a balloon.

The longer you eat filler, the more it starts to taste like real food. You adapt to it because this is an interaction.

Dreams

One of the things that happened before we had to leave High Arka was that they stopped letting us dream (then sleep entirely, but that came second). Not really "stopped"-stopped. They just started charging for it, only a little bit and then more, to defray the general cost of dreaming and make it easier and safer for everyone to avoid some of the pitfalls of sleep. We all pitched in a little bit for our dreams.

I'm not talking about "dreams" like "I want to be a professional ballet dancer" or "I want to play for the Knicks." I mean just the sleeping kind. The kind you usually don't think that you remember. Those kinds of dreams.

Some of us, at the beginning of the charges, started to notice that our dreams had become different. They were nicer dreams, sure, and you almost always remembered them, but they were so tame. No nightmares, which was supposed to keep us safer and lower our stress levels. It was supposed to be a good thing; something to help us out.

After a while, with the same thing happening to so many of us, it seemed less like a coincidence. Then there were the kids who never knew what dreams were supposed to be--kids who had never had the real kind. When you saw it happen to the kids, it really got to you. The lack of the dreams, I mean. When you saw kids who'd never had a memory, even one memory, of an old-fashioned dream, it got to you, and you realized that your own had vanished, too, and in a few years, when you were gone, no one around would ever dream honestly anymore. It all got like weSees and plays, so that you never saw real dreams again. And the rate increases, lightspring, the rate increases were so bad you didn't even care about the fake stuff anymore. Most of us just got on the plan. Let it drop to minimum. Who even cares, anymore? It's not like you needed dreaming for anything. When you were on the plan, everyone had pretty much the same dreams, so you always had something to talk about. Made it easier to make friends. Sort of.

But then sleep itself started to feel different, which made you realize how different it had felt twenty years ago when the dreams had changed. We realized we were all sort of ghosts, always awake. Axom, how we wanted to dream again. Just a few of us, really. Most had forgotten. Most of them had decided they really didn't want to dream anymore. Seeing those ones was scarier than anything else yet. The few of us who remembered--we got together, and started coveting the last little bits of stolen sleep we could cram in, hoping for dreams, but they never came back. Even when we ripped everything out and tried to sleep the old way, the sleep never felt the same, and the dreams never came back.

/

Call this one borrowed from E.L. Moravic's still unreleased. (c) or whatever. That's what you do here, right? So yeah. Believe me, I'm watching that. I'm all over that.

Mission Creep

Send Invoice to Buyer

Error

Warning

you can't send invoice for this order
The item(s) will ship using the Global Shipping Program. As part of the program, buyer directly pays international shipping and import charges to the third-party shipping provider. The buyer will still be able to complete checkout even if you don't send an invoice.

If you want a preview of how corporate control of internet communication is going to advance even further, there's always eBay. Governments hate the idea of people exchanging ideas, bodies, goods, or services without paying a tariff to some lord or other. Once a venue is created--road; port; highway; internet; particular website--it sells itself on the idea of freedom. People get drawn to it, and then the governments begin imposing restrictions, barriers, bridges, taxes, and fees.

In the eBay situation above, what is happening is that a product is sold, but the seller and buyer are prevented from communicating about how to ship it from one to the other. Instead, the buyer is supposed to turn over her money to Pitney Bowes, who is authorized to generate a shipping label that the seller can then print--for only four times the cost of postage. A 10% finder's fee isn't even warranted in this case, let alone a 400% one.

Why do we give a damn? It's just a costly annoyance to people buying crap on eBay.

We give a damn because this is how it happens: little protective rules, made up only for your safety, are implemented in conjunction with a limitation on the ability of people to communicate and exchange without first tithing the nobility. In the eBay case above, a seller literally cannot send an invoice (a statement of goods/services sold, requesting payment) to a buyer; eBay's software infrastructure has mobilized clever ways to prevent not only the sending of an invoice, but the exchanging of e-mail addresses between buyer and seller, permitting them to communicate outside of eBay's monitoring system.

But, but, capitalism, right? The sacred right of people to buy, sell, and trade labor and goods in order to maximize growth, efficiency, and personal happiness? Nope. There is no free market. Maybe there never was.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Of the Period

The English will never tire of gripping, serious, emotional dramas where (1) naive futurists attempt to deprive servants of the simple joys of working all day to free nobles from the task of dressing themselves, and (2) old rich white men demonstrate their deep personal worth and lasting strength of character by scheming to keep commoners away from their forty thousand acre estates and prodigious incomes.

And, thanks to PBS purchasing mass licensing and distribution rights to anything that has an imperial accent--and is, therefore, "cultural"--every single American taxpayer will ensure that the British love for churning out homages to caste never ends.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. He's still a lord, but since you're now "free," he rules indirectly through the books and movies that tell you how to live.

Whose cruelty is it when lifelong servants, struggling to survive in their employment, trip and backstab one another to improve their own standing in the eyes of cruel, capricious, all-powerful employers? If a healthy and vastly wealthy grown man decides he can suffer the indignity of having a handicapped person clean his soiled underwear and fluff his pillows at night, has that man proved that he is a giving person? The lessons of lords are, as ever, that your existence is due to their courtesy, and you should be grateful for the chance to sleep five hours a night in a tiny room on the vast estate you spend your life maintaining for their arbitrary social pleasures.

That fetid stink coming from across the pond isn't merely from the organic cotton diapers of the little tumour named after the Butcher of Ireland and George Dubya Bush.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Knew Or Should Have Known - Updated

Charles writes, in response to the Sochi Olympics article contributed by the Huffington Post:
"...[M]aybe agree with you about a lot of things on Takei but it only hurts your argument to use derogitory terms like "n------r" to talk about african peoples..."

We must consider George Takei in context, here. In the middle of the Vietnam War, as U.S. involvement was escalating to the more (and more) direct stage, Hollywood comes out with a new show: a show where a token African American, a token Asian American, and a token Russian all come together under the command of a white military leader who travels the galaxy in an armed spaceship, solving riddles and getting into fights with violent Romulan Asian and Klingon Asian tribes through no fault of his own.



Like Barack Obama, the greatest stealth killer of Africans yet known to world history, George Takei has an excessively publicized family history of racial oppression that didn't stop him from, at a young age, rising to mysterious national prominence. Takei, like Obama, is an inside man, using family stories of racial oppression to justify his own bigotry--as though the two balance out. They don't. In the times before Harvard, Senator, and President, Obama's grandfather may have suffered racial oppression, and in the times before Hollywood celebrity, Takei's father may have suffered racial oppression, but neither character's past excuses current or future racial oppression, let alone murder.

It does feel good, though, to some people. When Obama, who appears to be non-white, and who has oppression in his family's past, orders the burning of a village in Africa, some people are able to lull themselves into happiness over it because Obama, being non-white, must certainly be burning those people for a non-racist, rational, just reason. When Takei, who appears to be non-white, and who has oppression in his family's past, leads in the celebration of business as usual, some people are able to lull themselves into happiness over it for the same reason.

Not a big deal, though. Africans know very well that other Africans, even those with a history of sadness and terror in their families, are quite capable of becoming cruel, heartless warlords. It takes a bunch of googly-eyed, actually-racist "white" people, in America, to be so stupid as to think that "black" equals "fair" or "liberal" or "non-murdering." For Africans who've lived through decades of African-faced rulers, there is little illusion left. The past does not exonerate the present.

The countless millions of murders during the Vietnam War were smoothed over in America by a cultural smokescreen, a small part of which was Star Trek. Star Trek made diversity-based murder, colonialism, and endless military adventurism look good, fair, and ethnically-acceptable. It turned toilet-conferencing, child-napalming Lyndon Johnson into cuddly Captain Kirk. Takei's cheap, subservient, "helpful scientist" Mr. Sulu was the ongoing cultural genesis of turning the next generation of Asian American boys into weapons engineers who would know their place: designers, but not captains; munitions-developers, but not ethical philosophers.



Star Trek's third season hit just in time for the mandatory draft. Cultural engineering failed to produce enough volunteers to prowl through the jungles, murdering the humid little southeast Asians that kept getting in the way of the Federation. So, the original series ended, but as the Soviet economy telegraphed its collapse, on came Star Trek: The Next Generation, rolling through for a much longer, much-more-diverse run that carried America into Operation Desert Storm and the new era of endless African war.

Millions of dead people, again. Not just hypothetical, speculative millions, but actual millions, over decades, while Takei returns to prominence pushing a new generation of Star Trek movies alongside the incessant argument, "Genocidal empires are okay as long as their gay citizens and straight citizens are granted equal rights to view lolcats."


This is how it happens. This is how large groups of people get killed: by making people think that things are basically okay, and focusing their attention on trivialities in the meantime. The entertainment arm of the colonial African-slaughterers is always there, like a TV you can't turn off, congratulating you for achievements that have nothing to do with killing another million black kids. Putting the term "nigger" into Takei's mouth is unpleasant, but it is appropriate. His 40+ year career of making American imperialism more palatable has not only offered indirect assistance to the Japanese factions now trying to disregard Japan's post-WW2 pacifist constitution and remake it into an American client; it has lulled generations of Americans into thinking that, because a loudmouthed non-white person was smiling during the mob lynching of the Congo, everything was A-OK.



At the very, very best, Takei is a useful idiot; an utterly self-absorbed clown who is so sheltered, greedy, and proud of himself that he is unaware that he is greasing the wheels of genocide. Wrapped up in money and praise, he actually believes that 5 million dead Africans is less important than public perceptions of homosexual people in the world's wealthiest and most powerful nations. Even if his selfish ignorance does rise to such staggering levels, his satirical use of "the n-word" is appropriate--that of an ignoramus making sounds of which he does not comprehend the meaning. Of course people will be offended by his use of the n-word, but he doesn't care, because he's only interested in the lgbt Issue Of The Day. And, of course Africans will be offended by being killed in imperial war, but Takei doesn't care, because he's only interested in the lgbt Issue Of The Day. The satire is ugly, rude, and entirely apt. People who so dehumanize Africans as to make an African life worth far less than Three-Fifths of a Caucasian's, even a gay one, are made duly vulnerable to such verbal ploys.

Considering Takei's apparent command of the internet, though, we can't consider him a useful idiot in the traditional sense. He is informed. He knew, or should have known, about any of the mass murders you'd prefer to focus on. His deliberate choice, then, to focus his arrogant celebrity on western marriage, instead of a million-odd murdered black babies, necessarily reduces him to the level of spokesman for the empire he so eagerly parrots.

Star Trek is Real

To the delight of all his fans, the real-life Takei is Mr. Sulu. The U.S.S. Enterprise is real. In the early 1960s, with little Vietnamese kids getting crisped into Wing Night specials every week, Gene Roddenberry was preparing the U.S.S. Enterprise for Star Trek, and the U.S. Navy was preparing the U.S.S. Enterprise for Earth Trek. LBJ and Tricky Dick sailed the bajillion dollar hulk off to save villages by incinerating them, proud that the Negro Leagues had been merged with the Major Leagues--as though the latter in any way excused the former.

Plenty of people believed it did, though. America's protracted triumph over "civil rights" helped it feel good about the globetrotting murder sprees between the Korean War and Operation Desert Storm (and as we all know, when MLK tried to take on the war machine, a lone gunman, acting entirely without the assistance of the CIA, removed him). Follow the money, and the money leads you to the conclusion that the people who paid for the sets, stages, props, actors, nationwide distribution networks, movies, commercials, and plastic figurines vis–à–vis one Enterprise were, essentially, the same people who paid for the other Enterprise. The engineer in the background, making it all look respectable--the lubrication to Captain Kirk's photon torpedoes--was, and is, Takei and those like him.

Decades later, Top Gun and Mission Accomplished helped some Americans begin to be aware of an eerie coordination between Hollywood, the Pentagon, and lots of dead African people, but for many, a dreamy fog still hovers over the domestic front of the Vietnam War, as though the Pentagon's bloated superbudget was not writing mind-fodder for the taxpaying masses during the Cold War. Takei's pompous preening in 2013 is just another Zero Dark Lolcat.