Sunday, March 30, 2014

Apparently, In The Wind

"He probably had more impact on people of my generation than any other creative artist. His voice and lyrics haven't always been easy on the ear, but throughout his career [he] has never aimed to please. He's disturbed the peace and discomforted the powerful."
-Bill Clinton, while awarding Bob Dylan a Kennedy Center award in 1997 in the East Room of the American White House.

"[His music] redefined not just what music sounded like but the message it carried and how it made people feel."
-Barack Obama, while awarding Bob Dylan the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010 in a different room of the American White House.

"Smile. Thank you. Keep up the good work. Let me shake your hand."
-Bob Dylan, while receiving any given honorarium from the head of state of the United States or the United Kingdom.

When the British and Americans spend decades and billions of dollars gushing over how great someone is, what an icon of progress and change that person is, and how thoroughly that person represents the "struggle" against war and greed, that is a clue, people. A giant clue.

When someone celebrates "the times they are a changing" while the firebombing of Vietnam only increases, it's another clue. The only surprise is that it took so many years before the Imperial Seat began recognizing Dylan with something bigger than billions of dollars and constant airtime. "Our fighting blood was up, and we wanted to kill niggers...This shooting human beings beats rabbit hunting all to pieces," is the favored melodramatic quote of an American kid killing Filipinos a few decades before Dylan made everyone feel good and rebellious about killing Iraqis instead (here's a page for ya). Because Lyndon Johnson and Barack Obama are completely different people.

Some might blame the baby boomers for their atrocious narcissism, but perhaps it's less of a generational thing, and more of a national one, to believe that having crocodilic guilt pangs while listening to a few nasally tunes somehow makes up for melting the flesh off ten thousand screaming rabbits. But hey, you can't blame Dylan for being a sellout--look what happened to Lennon when he refused to kiss the ring. No more record deals, and a dwindling fan base, while Dylan gets pushed around southern California by mp3 producers, so that the next generation of uncreative vocal-reverb lip-syncing assholes gets to feel "traditional" by producing enough tributary cover CDs to choke a regional amazon.com distribution center.

(Odds are, in 2045, Dame Lady Gaga is going to be cited as a driving force behind the ending of the First Iraq War, while she receives a medal from President Chip Romney.)

Consider Obama's commendation quote again: "[His music] redefined not just what music sounded like but the message it carried and how it made people feel." Damn right, it redefined how a lot of African American R&B and folk sounded, repackaging it, along with some cracker covers, into a whiteface performance that, along with Elvis Presley, TV and radio audiences in the new white suburbs were more than happy to listen to. That quote reveals Obama's intelligence, also. "How it made people feel." That's exactly what Dylan's music was supposed to do, as protest music--make people feel that it was a protest; make people feel that it was protest music. Major record labels, rich & powerful producers, and nationwide public attention, do not get showered on real protest. What Dylan did sing about (when he wasn't tracking down and covering unlicensed folk music like a musical version of the Brothers Grimm) was a vague, ephemeral sense of powerless, inactive guilt. This isn't even to mention Clinton's colossal lie, that Dylan "disturbed the powerful"--who were so disturbed that they kept making his albums, putting him on tour, quoting him in magazines, posting his picture everywhere, and inviting him to the seat of American global hegemony to recognize him with awards.

Driving your '58 Pontiac home from the office, parking in the two-car garage, eating a chicken dinner, then sleeping and returning to the office...making sure the ball bearings get shipped to the factory so the jets get up in the air so the napalm gets sprayed across the Cambodian child's carcass...

Driving Dad's '58 Pontiac to school, getting forced to study math and literature and physics, so you can put on a suit and get a boring job working for The Man, so that the ball bearings get shipped to the factory so the jets get up in the air so the DU melts across the little Muslim's carcass...

...and all the while, you're comforted by the fact that you sort of know it's "wrong," somehow. Gosh, isn't it rough being white, heading to school and the office, and putting on your favorite records to soothe yourself, while all those kids die over there? Obama nailed Dylan perfectly: it was all about how the music made the targets "feel." To hell with Asia; to hell with Africa; to hell with anything, except my own vague sense of guilt. As long as I put on my Dylan records, I'm a civil-rights crusader of the antiwar brigade, fostering justice while simultaneously contributing to blowing the hell out of all those people whose deaths make me feel bad about myself--up until I put on those very same records!

The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind. Who would've thought the bastard had it right, after all? I shouldn't need to change my behavior--I'm just a twig blowing on the wind. All those demolished Pakistani houses; all those jutting, sun-blistered bones in the Mesopotamian desert; they must've fallen over from natural causes, or something. How should I know? I was busy polishing up my trophy room. Or was it my record collection? The point is, it's not my fault. I sorta feel kinda a little bit bad for it. More later--gotta get back to the office.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Revolutionary Police

The revolutionary police are never actual revolutionaries--the revolutionary police, in the traditional "problems with revolution" drama, are, in fact, composed of former establishment sympathizers, who run the technicalities of revolutionary doctrine to extremes in order to make clever points about the inherent flaws in the revolution itself--whether or not there are flaws, and whether or not the flaws have anything to do with the doctrinal-conformance punishments advocated by the revolutionary police.

Histories of revolutionary police demonstrate not how wrong revolutions are, but how right they are, and moreover, how powerfully wrong the former establishment was. Robespierre and Stalin acted on behalf of their class, sacrificing their personal names in the service of the old order. They worked to discredit, by stuffing themselves full of straw, something that threatened their parasitic kind. We fear burning Reichstags, camps and falling towers, because we're meant to associate those things with any attempt at salvation.

Valuable Storylines

Dr. Dawson discusses AT&T here, and, via Ad Age, addresses some of the ways that advertisers use perceived audience reaction to adjust the plots of their commercials. Quoting him quoting Ad Age:
'"It’s Not Complicated” may have been its name, but the insights that drove one of AT&T’s most successful ad campaigns ever were based on a massive three-year big-data project that was plenty complex.

The campaign featuring comedian Beck Bennett and little kids in a classroom was the product of a three-year project. It involved an analysis of 40 copy-test variables and tagging 370 AT&T and competitive wireless communications ads on everything from the type of humor used and how characters interact to type of storyline.

The BBDO-created campaign that resulted from the analysis generated an additional $50 million in sales in AT&T’s estimation, said Greg Pharo, director-market research and analysis for the telecom in a presentation at the Advertising Research Foundation’s Re:Think 2014 conference in New York today.

...

Mr. Pharo and AT&T Senior Data Scientist Damon Samuel, who made the switch from working on the telecom company’s marketing-mix analytics team to working on the project, delved into sometimes surprising details about what works and what doesn’t in their ads and those of rivals. Among the lessons:'

-Ads with storylines are very effective

-Informative demonstrations boost ad performance

-Simple outperforms complicated

-Slice-of-life and transactional or promotional ads can both work

-Humor is effective at driving recall, brand favorability and likeability, but not all types of humor are equal

-Character interaction matters a lot
The latter hyphenated list is Dawson's paraphrasing.

Now, what does this mean? All of the cute little commercials--Superbowl, prime time, and daytime TV--are (1) scripted, acreative bullshit, (2) produced only for money, based upon (3) speculative, stupid surveys of college students or people who actually answer survey calls during supper and do other such things, (4) under the complete and utter creative control of people who want to produce something that will create a positive corporate image, yet occasionally employing (5) talented, hardworking, creative people prostituting their abilities.

...and, they're (6) nonetheless very effective, even though everyone and their cousin's next-door neighbor's friend's dog knows, by now, that commercials are manipulative drivel meant to make you think something that isn't true, often in order to get you to buy something.

We know that, right? We understand that cowboys and cigarettes are juxtapositioned for a reason. To a lesser extent, we understand that presidents and saxophones or jet fighters are positioned for a similar effect.

And yet, (6) haunts us, because commercials are still powerful tools. Even people now generations into this "modern" world, who have grandparents that grew up understanding about how commercials were bullshit, get manipulated into buying things without realizing it.

You've probably figured that out, already--at least about commercials for products you don't like. In the interests of harmony, we will not here mention the products you do like, such as your iPhone. The slightly more difficult part is realizing that books, movies, and music are the same way. The same kinds of people, and the same people, who spend billions of dollars figuring out how to adjust a couple percentage points in portable phone appearance--they're also out there deciding upon printing and publishers, scripts and screenwriters, CD deals and which garage band to bump off the future-track.

By and large, they fool you. You pick up the stuff from the library, get a recommendation from a friend, or catch the movie, thinking of yourself as an independent consumer, yet really only gobbling up something with as void and compromised a message as choosing your mobile phone based on the attractiveness of the model hired for the commercial.

Time and again, in the strangest of ways, these really bright people get fooled by the cultural branding "entertainment" into thinking that it's either not a racket at all, or much, much less of a racket than, say, politics or ice cream. That's why the inclusion of imperial entertainment in the "radical dissent" worldview is such a fun theme to return to, here at the edges--it's a complete, comprehensive, Machiavellian scheme that canvasses the entire entertainment world, of which almost everyone is still not aware. Many people have figured out that there was a reason a lot of metal got swiftly recycled in the northeast in late 2001, and many people have figured out that the Democratic Party is just a ratchet for the Republican Party. And yet, they're out there gobbling up the latest bestseller and fawning over the hot new show, as blithely unaware of the emptiness, and the viewpoints being reinforced, as some poor white guy who thinks Mitt Romney is on his side.

Go watch a producer scratch out some lines for "clarity." Watch a committee of boring managerial assholes delegate, to a sniveling contact person, which picture will be painted to appear on the cover of which book. Watch a newspaper editor decide which letters are too "extreme" to reprint along with the forty-seven others. Not a racket? Sure, all those things may be affecting the situation, but it couldn't possibly be a racket, right? It's all just a game! A game of trillions of dollars where people play for their lives.

The power of entertainment--of image, setting, character, narrative--controls what and how and why people live and die. That, we can argue about later. Here, we're focusing only on the connection between the megacorps that sell one kind of product, and those that sell another. There are two primary messages here: the first is, as a human being stuck here for a while to learn, from a personal-interest perspective, stop telling yourself that there's any redeeming value in their commercials. The second is, if you want to boycott voting, or be any kind of deviant political thinker at all, start including in your repertoire an unwillingness to patronize corporate entertainment. Recognize the common threads between funny Superbowl ads and funny comedies. If you're willing to watch one, then it's time to be honest with the rest of us and turn on the Superbowl.

Why do you kill?

Flies are our fault. Flies are the result of--the punishment for--our proclivity for killing little unwanted things we find in our environment, rather than merely brushing them aside or taking them outdoors. Just like antibiotic-resistant staph infections, flies developed as jerky, twitchy, buzzy, annoying things because of our habit of killing, rather than removing. Now, the poor bastards can't even fly straight on their own.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Every Child Fed

If you're ever in the situation where someone says, "Oh, you're so negative, you criticize everything, tear down everything, but you don't actually have any ideas," the right response is the Every Child Fed program (get in a few centuries ahead, and be viewed as a prophet by all your surviving friends in memoriam.) That's the point at which many/all anarchists fail--they actually don't have anything to say but "State sucks." Not just anarchists, but most everyone else who complains about, say, "western culture." What would they put in its place? Socialism, run by who? Full democracy via instant facebook voting for policies? Who gets to suggest the policies that bother everyone with instant voting alerts?

All fun stuff, that, but I'll skip ahead to the right answer: ECF. And ECF gives rise to lots of tangental issues that provide lots of other fun stuff to think about, too. We'll do that, but we'll start with ECF.

Every Child Fed

So, what would you suggest we do? The best answer, always, is the most humane: Every Child Fed. Instant worldwide establishment of a mortally-enforceable policy that caloric sustenance is a basic human right for any human. Now, the cruel Darwinist assholes, a.k.a. Objectivists/Libertarians/etc., would prefer that poor people starve rather than rich people have to share, which is why we only say every child fed. Little helpless kids, who couldn't possibly be of use in the factory system. The age point might be arguable, but we're going, first, for the essence of the policy.

Granted, maybe the next John Galt could fend for himself as a brutally-tough, street-smart five-year-old (only by stealing from those who actually work, but that's a separate subject)--but even John Galt the infant couldn't survive as a thief. So Every Child Fed keeps alive future John Galts and Tony Starks, for those who desire such presences. The Randian objection, of course, is Market-Style Evolution: those whose deoxyribonucleic acids are superior will have superior children who deserve food, but those whose DNA is inferior, and who need to be expunged from the gene pool, will be unable to provide for their children, which children will then starve, improving the species by their deaths. That's the pop-science preference for inferior children--death--ergo modern social and economic policy. It's about what they call evolution, people. You can't have your cake and eat it, too. If you want a decent world where inferior children shouldn't go extinct, you have to be willing to give up on big business' rationalization for eugenics.

Moving back away from that touchy subject--ECF. The policy we must advocate upon any point of demand is ECF, so that children are fed. The rationalizations are obvious, if you're not into pop-evolution: human decency requires that we not let children starve as long as we are not ourselves starving. Nothing should be more important, to this species, than preserving its weakest members to save everyone the potential for their future development. When challenged on any policy point, say, "Every child, everywhere, should be fed." That beats any other policy argument ever spoken in the western world.

Nuts and Bolts

How does ECF work? Well, unfortunately, it requires a state--an organized endeavor of human beings marshaling the use of managerial techniques and patenting the use of force. By whatever name, some kind of organization has to ensure that the calories are made available, and that no one is prevented from having them. It's easily done; we have hundreds of governments doddering around the planet, spending hundreds of trillions of dollars encouraging their citizens to shoot one another. It would be an incredible savings, even in the first year, to set up distribution and service warehouses every few square populated miles. We could cut back a little bit (just 1%, or so), on military budgets. Or, even, school budgets. If you're wedded to "education policy" in any way, ask yourself: should we be paying for teachers and books when some children are literally starving to death? What prevents lifelong education and engaged citizenry more: lack of access to teachers, or lack of access to life? So yeah, cut back on a few drab cement administrative buildings and books, and we can afford ECF, even without touching military funds. Easy peasy. So fucking cheap it's not a rational point of discussion to say it couldn't be done.

But then, how do kids get there? Similarly easy, from a policy-making perspective: stop a kid from getting four-times-a-day access to ECF, and there's a police response. Equally cheap to pay for; we could cut back slightly on parking ticket enforcement. Dozens of governments have legions of people canvassing the globe in search of pirated DVDs and cannabis sativa, hassling kids for skipping school, and spending billions of dollars checking birth certificates and passports to verify what "country" a person is a "citizen" of. Simply issue a few thousand departmental memos, and suddenly, the worlds' uniformed thugs are vigilantly ensuring that all kids have access to ECF cafeterias. They're following up on reports of sicko parents who lock kids in the attic, religious bastards who won't let the kids go eat because of menu disagreements, and hungry perves who lurk outside the centers to lure kids into their vans for a little illegal play. By and large, though, even assuming all of the latter things happened, kids can go into these cafeterias when they're hungry, swipe an ID, and get their basic meal. Child starvation drops to statistical zero.

Positive Side Effects

Simplistic, idealistic crap, yes, but do consider the positive side effects. Consider them in a postmodern light, though--what's in it for me? Presume that the kids' lives don't even matter. Maybe we're the President of the United States, or the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, or the head of a university, or some other heartless entity who doesn't care about children suffering to death. Even so, there are side benefits to ECF.

Delinquency, greatly reduced. Adults worrying about kids' futures and thereby diminishing their own economic performance for their host country, greatly reduced. Kids unable to focus on education and future careers, greatly reduced. Dead bodies and human waste needing to be removed from the streets, greatly reduced. Corpses floating in canals, reservoirs and rivers, greatly reduced. Truancy, trespassing, petty theft, greatly reduced. Grand larceny, assaults and batteries, greatly reduced. Hungry child soldiers being impressed into armies for the promise of food, greatly reduced. Diabetes, obesity, etc., greatly reduced as hungry kids don't turn to sugar corps. to fill aching bellies.

So, as in all other things, the libertarian bullshit fantasies would actually be improved by ECF. Just like when you tell libertarians, "But if you paid taxes to invest in ghettos, the reduced African American crime rate would actually save you money in prison taxes in the long run," ECF counters their points. Granted, they're not going to make the connection, and this isn't a guide to how to fix libertarians; the point is for you to recognize it as the ideal first step. All this stuff will be hashed out in the centuries ahead, with the business community getting no more rational in its arguments, and later on forgetting how wrong it was.

The Menu

Back to now, the menu. Three meals a day is ridiculous; it's Henry Ford's idea of human eating, conjoined to all the other fun we're having in the Gilded Age (e.g., what we traditionally think of as the Gilded Age, minus its "end," which never happened, plus the 20th and 21st centuries). Diet-enthusiasts know about "grazing," and how it's better. We'll just start with four meals a day as our ECF starting policy point.

Meal 1, 4AM to 10AM: oatmeal bowl, with or without slivers of local meat; tofu patty; carrot cake (not actually carrot cake--one of those cheap, non-tasty, but painfully healthy patties with 40-odd kinds of condensed fruits and vegetables, not necessarily containing carrot at every center, but the name will stick).

Meals 2 and 3, 10AM to 4PM & 4PM to 10PM: rice bowl (standard rice quantity with slivers of local vegetables and/or meat) and treat (salty, sugary gelatin hunk that will get removed after a few years because it turns out to cause alimentary sclerosis in extremely rare circumstances, which a couple bastards knew ahead of time, and their memories will end up disgraced).

Meal 4, 10PM to 4AM: hell soup (informal tag for the soy-broth sodden veggie-rice chunk blend that's more of a casserole, really, but which drips a lot. Not because anyone's a tofu freak, but because we're going for cheap basics, and also a little because the first upper dispenser vents look a little like horns.) and treat.

Yeah, easy, and way less than a buck per day per kid, and so cheaply offset by the 95% reduction in your local Health & Human Services, Department of Festering Corpse Removal that it's a tax savings even without considering the reduction in liquor-store robberies for breakfast cash. All organic, 'cause it's produced and transported under guard (guard needed for the first few generations of transitional period), at designated centers within each zone, and all local (/shudder) 'cause it's cheaper. No one really wants to eat there as a preference, but so many people find that it's easier than the whole store and store and prep thing that they find themselves there more often than they'd planned, even in the transitionary period.

The Facilities & The Policies

We say "meals a day" even though the service time is not standard; a "meal" is akin to "one admission ticket, one trip to the counter." Each under-18 kid's little ID swipes 'em in once during each period, cumulative trips if they missed an earlier one that day, but no rollovers beyond each 24 hour period.

Guarded--at first--production centers (call 'em "farms" for the sentimental), one per zone, regularly attached to each service center. Service centers: no parking, walk or commune only, multilevel cafeterias with bank-style deposit windows. Swipe your card, get a tray. Under-18 only inside, age- and sex- segregation available by request ("I'm, err, not comfortable eating with all guys...thank you. Oh, thank you." Or, "Uhhh, my Mama says I hafta sit in the kids room"). Reverse-movie-theater policies, backed by onsite security (which security rather quickly comes to know the temper of its associated community): no leaving with inside food or beverages, escorted out if you throw cake at your neighbor, etc.

Again, it all seems pie-in-the-sky, but have you ever been on a U.S. military base? With far worse production and distribution networks, far more extensive security issues and membership issues, far more convoluted menus and policies, these places maintain a worldwide network of hundreds upon hundreds of 24-7 kitchens constantly serving millions of people. Not only is Every Child Fed an immense savings of money, it's an immense savings of human time and energy--forget all the benefits, it's just a much, much easier way to accomplish what we already accomplish in our own clunky ways. Sure, most kiddies would prefer to eat at home, where the food is often tastier, but the available safety net of the local ECF Center is such a nicety you can scarcely imagine it from here.

Trunk tight. Cheap. Easy to understand. Easier than de-segregating the American military, done worldwide with the swoop of a pen, and with state military force to back up the human right. Try to form a political faction that shuts down your local center, and end up in jail, your picture and ID emblazoned on the local intranet's "Wanted to starve your children!" list. No more buying a home within half a mile of a park, pervert.

The Free Rider Response

This really gets useful here. The other stuff is all cool, in some ways, but still looks like idealistic crap. The point of considering ECF in 2014 is not idle fantasy, but to learn to hone our goals and expectations. We do that by considering the "free rider" problem, and how ECF would have to adapt to it.

What is "the free rider problem"? It's the traditional greedy bastard ("libertarian") response to any kind of nice idea: if you offer a free ride, so many people will take advantage of that ride, without giving back, that the system will break down. Offering welfare, for example, means that everyone will immediately stop working in order to use welfare. Nach, that has never happened in all of the previous human histories of state assistance, but it's the most common selfish objection to any kind of social safety net.

Remember "There's no such thing as a free lunch"? That's the non-Confucian maxim of such people, who perhaps don't remember being fed lunches by their parents when they were 2-year-old pant-shitters.

We're not here to counter them, though, but to use that viewpoint to develop our own hopes and dreams. There are such people in the world, remember? A lot of them. There are people who will sit on the couch, take charity from someone else, and never get up and help out--ever. They'll leech endlessly, stealing money and time and food from those who think hard and work hard, never giving back, and occasionally, dragging other people into the abyss with them. That's a problem with charity, whether personal or social--the lazy, selfish sickness of those willing to debase themselves.

The tricky issue with such people is that they usually have an excuse. They feel that they do actually work hard, but no one appreciates it, or that they are the only ones with bad luck, so it's not their fault, or that they were wronged somehow in the past by the people/situation they're taking advantage of, so that makes it okay to take advantage. Luckily, that's not most people, but it is enough people that we all instinctively understand the free rider problem: if you share your wallet with others, eventually, someone will steal money. If you offer free food, some people will drop every aspect of personal responsibility, and let your hard work provide for them--forever.

Free riders are problematic not only to those who provide--because they are taking advantage of a program meant to help people who would be unable to get food otherwise--but because enough of them would necessarily destroy any system of generosity. The traditional libertarian argument about national health, or food stamps, or American "welfare" payments, is that it will encourage people not to work because they can succeed without working. Not only is this a bad incentive, but if enough people took part in it, everyone would starve. If every single person on the planet (or enough of them) decided to stop producing food because food was free, then there would (literally) not be enough food, and we'd all starve--and it would ultimately be the fault of those stupid and idealistic enough to be bleeding-heart generous and give food away.

That take on humanity--that it would willingly go extinct rather than working to provide for itself and others, and that it would debase itself by living on handouts when it was capable of doing otherwise--is erroneous, and we'll deal with it elsewhere. This is the humanity-loathing idea that people crave lonely, parasitic existences of survival at the expense of others, which is to say, Market-Style Evolution--we do only what we need to seek pleasure and maintain genes. That can be dealt with elsewhere. What we need to accept for the purposes of ECF is the truth that there are people like that, and a lot of them: the world has a lot of free riders, which is why ideas like Objectivism and Market-Style Evolution are so popular: they provide a deep philosophical appeal to people who, deep down, actually are the selfish, resource-gobbling creatures that they claim all species are.

What we'll do here, below "the free rider response," is study the ways that free riders would react in response to the Every Child Fed program, and how that response would have to be dealt with in order to protect the program. What we'll see as the picture develops is that, in order for Every Child Fed to actually work, it would have to gradually become Everyone Fed--and Everyone Housed, and Everyone Cared For. The associated, generalized maxim is that decency and life, like their counterparts selfishness and vileness, are creatures that grow in order to survive.

Free Rider Problem #1: Carry Outs

The biggest free rider problem at ECF's inception was dubbed "carry outs," involving people over the age limit getting food using child mules. Hunger and poverty occurring outside ECF facilities motivated adults to urge children to bring them food from ECF centers. Adults, of course, could not enter the centers to eat, but they could use their greater physical power, or social connections, to coerce children into smuggling food out of the service centers, and to adults.

This scheme was a great one for the crooks behind it. The production costs of the food were zero, because the ECF program provided it. All you needed to do was threaten a kid to eat their 4 meals a day, but smuggle out as much as they could hide in their clothes--everything non-liquid made the trip salvageable. Utensils stolen in bulk could later be repackaged and sold back to the ECF program for a profit, and if you could keep your mules alive on just stimpills for a few days in a row, that was all the more food they could not eat inside the center, and smuggle out to you.

Many of the adults who participated in ECF theft (and certainly almost all of the children) were not loathsome of character; many were simply trying to survive. Selling extra food to starving adults, many of whom had just become ineligible for the program, kept entire underground economies alive, and saved thousands of lives. Even for those not at risk of starvation, reselling ECF food turned a nice profit. In the profit-economy, opportunities such as "free food" and "cheap labor to bring it out of the centers" was an unavoidable consequence.

The Birthday Problem

The next free rider problem was the birthday one--namely, having a birthday. Once you hit 18* (*the local equivalent thereof), everyone knew you were off the program, so people would go to extreme lengths to fool the system, and continue getting meals as long as they could. Kids wouldn't usually see the problem coming themselves until they were 12 or 13, but as they approached that fateful day of "no more meals," most of them realized that death, or the camps, lay in their near future.

What kinds of responses did we see, then, from these rational actors? Well, women would bind their breasts, walk with disguised hunches, use extra-chirpy voices, and toy with what makeup they had available, all to try to appear still-just-seventeen. Men would attempt partial shaving (to appear as though they didn't have adult beards), go on starvation diets to try to limit physical development, hang out with younger groups of kids, or just try to fight their way in.

None of the above helped, though, without ID fraud. Wrist chips were forged; they were extracted by unlicensed surgeons, and put in by street doctors you could never quite track down afterward, when some 19-year-old lost a hand and died of amanatis; people threatened, cajoled, bribed, and whored, just to get scanned into the service centers for another few weeks' or years' worth of meals. Birth and death registry fraud abounded, as criminals fabricated entire lives and backgrounds in order to turn a 17-year-old into a 16-year-old who still had 2 years of free food left, and entire security industries had to be developed to verify, protect, and account for the people who were eligible to be served.

People who died during the early ECF times were particularly valuable, because anyone who died under 18 could be "replaced" by a hungry 22-year-old in search of a pre-existing entity. Kids would often protest that, because ECF saved money each time someone died before receiving a full 18 years of benefits, it was only fair that those benefits be assigned to someone else. Hundreds of magistrate courts had to be set up across the globe to handle arguments between individuals and medical facilities about when someone had actually been born--those who wouldn't turn to computer hacking simply argued that the nurse had "written down my time of birth wrong," and that they'd actually been born one year later.

Thugs would lurk outside the centers, or on known travel routes, to warn children about their upcoming birthdays, and to begin to suggest various ways they could work their way into the system. The transition to adulthood, and the loss of that ready source of food and water...

The Train Robbery Problem

An old-world problem plagued the ECF centers, too. In a situation where only some people have food stockpiled, and others are hungry, conflict will arise. Regular, drab, old-fashioned attacks on food convoys, farms, warehouses, and the service centers themselves abounded. Any hungry adult knew exactly where the food was stored, how it was packaged, and what was on the menu any given day. It didn't take long for farms to become, essentially, military bases, subject to worker checkpoints, and rife with expensive administrative fraud. Managers who "mistakenly" sent a truck in the wrong direction could feed a neighborhood--at the same time as they lined their own pockets, got a security team killed, and substantially increased future operating costs.

The Shelter Problem

A great thing about ECF centers was the shelter they offered. During those 3-4 meals a day, kids were out of the sun, out of the rain, out of the hot, and out of the cold. The centers had clean running water, functioning toilets, security guards to prevent social harassment, and if you had a medical emergency while eating, an onsite nurse. Naturally, some kids wanted to be there all the time. Particularly those that didn't have beds.

For the homeless, then, the centers became more than cafeterias--they became homes. Kids would try to hide out in the hallways, the bathrooms, behind out-of-service serving carts...everywhere. The motivation was profound, for people who, after dinner, would be sent to sleep on a filth-strewn street, subject to gang violence, and at risk of not surviving to come back for breakfast.

To response to this problem, ECF had to increase security. Operating costs went up, as additional personnel had to check the service centers hourly to be sure someone wasn't trying to sleep in a forgotten corner, or wasn't using a bathroom stall as a place for a nap. Food-service staff had to time cafeteria use, to ensure that kids weren't lingering over their meals for 6 hours just to be able to stay inside.

By the same token, center users started to feel harassed. Those who ate slowly, rather than gobbled their food, began to feel that they were "being watched," and getting "hurried" by the security personnel, who were only trying to make an honest effort to prevent abuse of the facilities. It became less fun and relaxing to use the place, because you needed to be an efficient, careful automaton, get your meal in, then get out, lest someone come over to ask you meaningfully, "Are you doing all right, Miss?"

Overeating

A small problem, but one blown up in the media, was how many meals a child would receive per day, and how many calories per meal. Many a pun was abused in the service of portion-size arguments; a minor scandal erupted when a certain news outlet spread the story that some centers were allowing chubby kids to "make as many trips as they liked to the line" per visit. The one visit, one trip rule discussed at the beginning of this blog post was established in response to the latter complaint, even though the problem wasn't ever nearly as big as some claimed.

Administrative Bloat

The program's response to all these problems was to add additional layers of personnel to deal with the problems, which made the program more expensive. Ironically, it became more exclusive, too, as all that oversight served to create regulations that could be selectively enforced by local staff, harassing undesirables away from the program for mere technical violations, and further perpetuating existing prejudices. Every Child Fed was still dozens of times cheaper and safer than former food policies, but many of the cost increases were exactly the things that the program had been designed to prevent.

Everyone Fed

Which led to the only right answer: everyone needed to be fed. If everyone could be fed, then there was no "competition" between your 17-year-old self and your 18-year-old self. Caloric reassurance for everyone saved so much money that it made even ECF's first year look like a ridiculously expensive capitalist plot. Now, being human was enough to be admitted. No more wrist chips, no more birthday checks, no more "which center is nearest your home, ma'am?" Fraud disappeared entirely, because there was no more gain to be had from fraud. Everyone, everytime--so simple, and so cheap. All the criminals immediately lost their jobs; the streets cleaned themselves up, and everyone enjoyed things, except when the occasional rare wacko started throwing his tray around, and had to get tackled by security.

Every so often, a fat dude would go back for seconds, then thirds, then fourths--but giving every fat dude in the world as much as he wanted to eat proved to be nearly a hundred times cheaper than constantly monitoring every line, or carefully weighing and measuring ounces and molecules per-packet.

Diet-fad-followers take note: in fact, Everyone Fed eliminated most obesity, and not just because the standard food was pretty bland. Scientists later determined (after years of ponderous analysis) that obesity had been caused by subconscious fear of future scarcity, and had been a creature of "abandonment-potential communities"--the preferred academic jargon for societies that existed prior to ECF.

Everyone Housed and Cared For

Just as with food, the "shelter" and "healing" issues proved more cheaply met holistically. Nearly a century of work proved, beyond even an un-reasonable doubt, that guaranteed housing (as comparatively bland, clean, and wholesome as center food) not only eliminated the problem of camping-out in cafeteria hallways, but solved the lion's share of all other preexisting species problems, as well. (To the ire of many long-time critics, a hybrid sort of capitalism proved the most efficient economy to exist on top of those programs, provided it was hobbled such that it only existed above and beyond the basic plan of food, shelter, and healing--which rather eviscerated it into something entirely different, to many scholars, who continued to object to the nomenclature even generations after the "hybrid" label was first added.)

What does all this teach us? If you're here, you probably know that small investments in "social welfare" are not only a really cheap and efficient way to run society, they're also "morally right." If you're inclined to be contemptuous of humans, and imagine a magnified free-rider burden (e.g., you're fiscally conservative, Republican, libertarian, eugenicist, Objectivist, et cetera), then you know that social welfare only weakens a nation/species by allowing the unfit to survive, and placing an undue burden on the strong.

What the ECF situation teaches is that, if you're interested in doing things that are morally right, or that will "fix" the current set of human problems, then you have to make a complete solution. Feeding just every "child" only gives rise to problems of supply and demand, inclusion and exclusion, and security monitoring, which is likely to lead right back into the type of situation we have now. While pushing for ECF is still a good thing, so far as thought experiments go, it shouldn't be the end goal, however nice it would be in practical effect for billions of actual people. Sure, it's the first form that will eventually be tried, because those who advocate for ECF will claim that it's the "only way" to make some changes, and that starting small is better than nothing. That's the same lesser evil argument that ultimately supports evil. What ECF really stands for is "starving adults." Sure, children need more protection, but if we're going to do the right thing, why not just do the right thing? ECF is a tool of negotiation with the heartless (who might be swayed from their tough, realistic, macho fiscal positions by the thought of children starving, even though they would merely sniff in contempt at the thought of 18-year-olds or 50-year-olds starving); it is not a complete end goal.

The dream of structural change we're circling here is the effecting of systematic love and caring--things that shouldn't be bounded and classified. Next time around, don't forget what ECF taught us.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Stupidest States

We all know that the stupidest U.S. states are in the south and in the midwest. They're rust belt, flyover, down south, and they suck. They've got way more racists and bigots, their senators are always Republican, and they're mostly uneducated rural white people who don't understand the advancements of modernity, like hybrid cars and women CEOs.

We're not just pulling this out of our asses. We've got evidence to back it up, too--they have lower test scores, worse universities, and their school boards and other aspects of local government do funny, stupid things.

We all do know that. And, since those states are so justifiably stupid, we feel good about it. George Zimmerman from Florida, the Border Patrol in Arizona, Kansas School Board from Kansas, and God-only-knows-what in Nebraska. Texas is always trying to secede, and it had George W. Bush, too. You can't make this stuff up. Truth is stranger than fiction, in those lands of highway overpasses, unweeded church graveyards, and racially motivated violence.

It feels really good to be a wealthy white person lampooning those places, especially if you're heartily lampooning white people. It makes you feel progressive and non-racist to have that attitude about the stupid flat midwest or the stupid sweaty south or any of that.

Buuuuut...but guess what? Those states, that progressive, well-off, white, diversely-educated Americans like to hate? They're the ones who are closer to Mexico. They're closer to the blacks in Haiti, and the blacks on all the other islands, and closer to the Cubans, and closer to the hordes of swarthy Salvadorans and Nicaraguans who would just love to invade and steal all our fruit fields and our jobs, and they're states where Indian tribes have more political power, and Native American populations are larger or more culturally cohesive. These stupid states are sometimes literally on the border with Mexico (not Canada--a state can be on the border with Morissette, who only vaguely understands the definition of "irony," and Beiber, and still be respectable), which means a lot of poor, uneducated people bringing down the numbers on the graph, thereby proving that the whiter air in Connecticut raises I.Q.

All of this makes us realize that, whoops, maybe it's not so very enlightened and un-racist to be contemptuous of those states. Yes, the Kansas City school board is full of white idiots, but the traditional funny impression of that state is largely based upon the traditional New Yorker impression of how stupid the plains tribes were (they hoarded all the buffalo, don'tcha know, instead of slaughtering it all for shipment to Montana to process into New York Lean 12 oz. strips at a premium rate per Manhattan plate in 1838.

Oopsie! It's actually more racist than racist, to have those opinions! Oopsie! The American impression of "stupid and rural" is often based upon larger tracts of more-quality land set aside for Indian tribes, and in the "stupid" southern and midwestern states, the tribes are often stronger, and haven't subcontracted away quite as much land to white developers in search of better master-planned modern cities and communities. Londoners used to think New York was stupid and savage because the Indians were more alive; now, Manhattanites and the rest of the urban wannabes think that the entire border with Mexico is stupid and savage, because there's still more native blood floating around the place.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Power Doesn't Corrupt Because

1) All parents do not abuse their children, even in private and even when they wouldn't get caught if they were clever;

2) All bosses and teachers are not unkind, even in private and even when they wouldn't get caught if they were clever;

3) All stronger people do not abuse weaker people, even in private and even when they wouldn't get caught if they were clever; in fact, many of them go out of their way to teach, give, and help, and draw both a personal pride and a selfless pride from offering shelter and sharing knowledge.

It may be that "modern governmental power" corrupts, and it may be that corrupt people tend to seek "modern governmental power," but this is a far cry from "power corrupts." Naturally, a worthily-bashable dead white male was the one most popularly credited with the claim that power corrupts; even more naturally, it was one of the bloodviles, English royal line from some of the heights of the British empire. Descendants of Milton would, of course, fawn over the literary notion of "Satan," and love the idea that power must necessarily corrupt, freeing them of responsibility for millions of starving serfs, and the horrors of the state-funded BSDM chambers that still drive so much of their rotting tourist revenue today.

Oh, boo hoo, I did something wrong, but it wasn't me; it was power. If power corrupts:

1) You have no hope, because anyone who gets power will abuse it, so human lives will always be either powerless and futile, or terrible and tyrannical;

2) It is wrong to try to get power to help people, because you're not trying to help people, you're just trying to get power in order to be corrupted and abuse people.

See how neatly Lord Acton's axiom spoils the waters for the human future? If power corrupts, everything has to suck. We accept the American genocides because we've spent two hundred years believing that we can have nothing better, since any leader will necessarily be evil--and it won't be their fault, because it was the fault of an abstract philosophical concept. This is the kind of excuse you'd expect a PHIL 101 student to try when caught cheating on the final--"I had to look, because hidden knowledge requires a search for knowledge!"--but it's not the kind of excuse we should accept from our historians, our teevees, our leaders, or most importantly, ourselves.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

I wanna play dinosaurs too

We often misapprehend why "culture" gets created. After Johnny Depp helped rip off Dark Shadows, for example, there's a new Lone Ranger, starring Mr. Depp, and talks are underway for a new Spiderman, which may or may not include that same guy in different makeup, this time as a nerdy newspaper photographer for a major metropolitan newspaper.

Certainly, there are the social control aspects of books and movies--the creation of consensus out of thin air, and the establishment of falsified large-scale memories, when indirect literary allusions create reference points in fans who aren't smart enough to recognize that they did recognize, process, and remember a minor conversational point between two respected characters. The military is good, anglicized culture is more peaceful and intelligent, there is no such thing as an Iranian Jew, the Sioux were melodramatically peaceful yet governed by the same essential sexualized and economic dominance patterns as European settlers...et cetera.

And there's profit, of course; concessions, product-positioning, movies selling other movies, and intellectual property rights over fleets of spinoffs and toys. There's certainly a profit aspect, and there's certainly a social control aspect.

Somewhere adjacent to the celebritization of the mannequins that dance for the stupefied masses, though, is another explanation for western culture: the simple self-absorption of the actual "creators" (a.k.a. the producers who pay and get to call themselves creators). Along with all the other purposes that our mainstream stories serve--probably the biggest actual emotional drive behind them--is the innocent curiosity and excitement of the people making it all. Rich people, for example, who've never had to be actually creative, see something, get excited, and think, "I wanna do that, too!" Just like a little kid wanting to try out a katana or a gun, or play dress-up after a movie, western owners and producers recycle culture so often because they're playing.

They read Milton, or watch an old movie, and suddenly, they're telling someone to produce, or "producing" (paying) themselves, a modern version of the classic take on the fall from grace, or an emotional retelling of unknown characters from the Civil War who meet with known characters of the Civil War before dying in the Civil War.

Their dress-up looks really official, real, and grown-up only because they have so many billions of dollars at their command, but really, it's nothing more than dress-up. That's why we've gotta try to forgive them. Those underdeveloped brains, playing at entertainment and entertaining the others, aren't wholly evil; they're just people who never had the opportunity to get past the stages of experience that others of us already mastered when we were 3, or 8, or 42. So for our own growth, we pity, and forgive, rather than devolving to the kind of criticism that, if they were not so comparatively stunted, they would deserve.

They see Batman, and they think, "I wanna be Batman!" For a certain kind of person, this would just mean a little mental fantasy; for another, it would mean putting on the living room throw blanket and running around the house to fight crime. For the latter kind of person plus adulthood, cash, and connections, it means a franchise revamp--and suddenly, everyone's off to see it.

"Hey, I wanna play Lone Ranger too!"

"I wanna play dinosaurs!"

"I wanna play ninjas, and, and TRAINS, and, and SHOOTING, and, and...and SEXY GIRLS and their BREASTS!!! And the ninjas fight cowboys, who's also ROBOTS!!1! And there's, there's...BOOOOOOM! Explosions and the train goes off the tracks!" "...but, but I want kissing, and hugging, and true love! And this, this one time, I saw a man look really smart when he put his hand on his chin, and it made me feel kinda weird inside...I wanna have a guy be SMART, too, and have lotsa TALKING about big SMART STUFF..." "--goes BOOM, and the raptor alien spaceship lands on the WHITE HOUSE, cause I saw the news, the boring stupid doody news, and what if the White House was EXCITING, cause raptor ninja cowboy robots smoking cigars like big brother us'ta do when I's too LITTLE???!839!?!"

<3 LE

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Blacks on Blondes

Everyone knows that niggers go hog wild over white women, but George R.R. Tolkien knows better than anyone. HBO made sure not to vitiate the juiciest details of Martin's take on Gosford of the Rings, spelling out in sexy detail all the worst--and best!--traits of the subhuman jungle rawlers known as "black people." Among these:

1) Darkies, shot in the heaviest possible makeup, go sexually crazy over white women, shot in the fairest possible lighting;

2) Darkie women, a.k.a. filthy cumslut whores, are driven sexually mad by darky men, white men, and are driven into rabid jealousy by the presence of white women, who will no doubt steal their men away (because their men have an uncontrollable lust for such women);

3) In their zeal to protect their men, darky women willfully and freely debase themselves in front of everyone, violently confront those who steal "their" men, and encourage darky men to engage in violence to obtain their freely-used nether parts;

4) White men, because they know the white women secretly want them, can slum a little by eyeing darky women, but don't condescend to touch them except as occasional lust/semen repositories for idle moments;

5) Darky men and darky women love violence, which is a fundamental part of their jungle-ghetto culture, while white men understand that violence is only a grave means to an end, to prevent dark people from spreading their dark jungle-sex civilization across the planet;

6) Rock and roll music was just this kind of vulgar National Geographic intrusion into otherwise wholesome white civilization;

7) Darkies, when engaged in their sex-slut dance parties, prefer BARBECUED CHICKEN and NON-KOSHER PORK, drenched in salty sauce and covered in stinky, germ-ridden flies, because darkies don't know how to properly clean or prepare their food;

8) By our white blood are your dark slut-dancing civilizations kept safe from an ephemeral "threat" that we never see, therefore obey us, dance sluttily, amuse us by killing each other in vulgar rituals intrinsic to your dark blood, and we'll occasionally toss you a white woman.

I mean, yeah, there's plenty to say about Game of Thrones, but having reviewed lots of actual KKK/Aryan recruitment material, I gotta tell you, Game of Thrones is worse. The "dark men lust violently over white women, and dark women are worthless sluts trying to keep their mens' attention away from unwilling white puntang" thing is at least hidden behind bell graphs when the Aryans are making their awful points. Martin doesn't even bother dressing the bigotry up.

Whatever else you might say about this particular century, the combination of a rich half-black American President, the genocide of millions of actual blacks in Africa, and the fawning affection so many middle class white westerners show toward Game of Thrones is fraught with too many meaningful connections to be a coincidence. Hunger Games and Transformers are the soundtrack to the electronic panopticon, Downton Abbey is the melody of the conquest of Ireland, and Game of Thrones is the soundtrack to the genocide of the African continent. No wonder they like them so much.

Anyway, enough political arguments, fellow Roman. Want to catch a few matches at the coliseum?

(S1D1c.46'-53')

Clairmont review re-post

Baron Ludwig von Nichts suggested, in response to this most recent post, that this one look at this Nicholas Clairmont article, prompting this one's response, recorded here for posterity:

In the same way that Clairmont says that (merely) half the world lives under 1984-style conditions, his article is half right. Our common humanity should indeed move us to protect people from injustice and tyranny.

However, what many of you are noticing is that Clairmont is, himself, a happy citizen of a totalitarian state, yet he believes that only the other totalitarian states are bad. And he believes this because of what his own state's media tells him about conditions in the other states.

His article is a wake up call to the few free peoples remaining in the tiny corners of the world, whom we hope will someday liberate those of us who live in the totalitarian superstates. Perhaps he's failed to notice the (1) denial of voting rights to generations of, and millions of, primarily-race-based "non-citizens," the (2) megacorp control of fraudulent elections, the (3) paramilitarized police forces that roam the domestic battlespace, beating and killing defiant citizens, the (4) massive rape- and torture- imprisonment of, again, generations of and millions of primarily race-based "felons," the (5) meganational spy network that reports nearly every proletariat action to the elite, the (6) conjoined violent and administrative refusal of the right to assemble and/or use free speech, and the (7) fleets of robot death armies killing mountains of people without either judicial due process or legislative Magna Carta.

The sad irony of Clairmont, here, is that he is really so very right, and he says things that very much need to be heard by the many comfortable cowards of the world--who sneer at black kids that hold up con-stores (sic), then pretend that writing an anarchist blog will "challenge" something--but he then channels that comfort into the ludicrous belief that his "own" tyrants are somehow different from Vlad Putin. Clairmont is right that decency should move good people to act. We are not those good people, though, nor are we those free people. We are internet cowards, some of us being paid to write that we are otherwise, and some of us not being paid to write that we are otherwise. The real good people out there are either fighting back right now, or too weak or stupid from the effects of sustained starvation or imprisonment to move their molecules in the proper direction.

(From an entertainment perspective, this is the end result of the billions of idiots who fantasize about "Game of Thrones," pretending that those elites who rule by blood and chance are, essentially, good people forced into a tough situation unless they're on the other side. While we're on the subject, westerners' churlish obsession with their own non-existent Arthurian history, coupled with their inability to literarily characterize without benefit of a .doc file full of canned reminders to the team of authors/scriptwriters, continually furthers the myth that "The Middle Ages" (TM) was something that bore at least a loose resemblance to white film crews chasing white people around New Zealand with old paperbacks in their pants' pockets.)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Higher Math & Lower Death

(Disclaimer by request: this is going to involve, necessarily, transmorlative functions, so in many aspects, it is not traditionally explicable; ergo, don't feel that you're missing something if you're not already familiar with many of the issues discussed.)

On the Justifications for War

Posit that we have two groups of people, Group War ("GW") and Group Peace ("GP"). Posit also that GW and GP are engaging in a dialogue about their desired outcomes for the future. GP's argument is that war is too horrible to contemplate, while GW argues that war is indeed horrible, but is necessary, because it accomplishes some desired end.

Many of us have likely faced this situation in what we would call "real life." For example, you're chatting with a friend about international politics. You are staggered by your friend's seeming inhumanity, and reference American drone strikes. You reference the horror of civilian casualties, and you think that the discussion will undergo a massive change right there: e.g., you believe that, in order for anyone to advocate for war, that person would have to deny the occurrence of such horrors. You might think that your friend would begin arguing that reports of civilian casualties were false, or that the "civilians" killed were actually bloodthirsty terrorist combatants, or other such nonsense.

Sometimes, that does happen. Sometimes, members of GW argue that there are no real civilian casualties. They approach the problem from a framework of racism or cultural supremacy: insisting, for example, that all Muslims, all Arabs, all Pakistani, or all of "those people" are terrorists, therefore there are no civilian casualties. Other times, they argue that a bleeding heart liberal media makes up civilian casualties in order to stir emotions and gain readership.

When the latter argument is made, you might conclude, "Oh, this person is just stupid." That's a reassuring conclusion in many ways: maybe the person isn't really a callous or bloodthirsty killer of children, but rather, someone so dimwitted that they don't really believe in the existence of so many humans in the middle east who are being killed as part of a war they want no part of. Maybe members of GW simply subscribe to an old-fashioned, ignorant racism--inhuman in its own way, but also strangely reassuring, because if they learned to overcome that racism, their deeper humanity would then cause them to oppose the killing of innocents.

The American Liberal

Far more imposing an opponent than the ignorant racist is the intelligent apologetic, which you may have encountered in the form of the American liberal. This is Bill Clinton; Barack Obama; Digby; any of the other intense warmongers who thoroughly disavow open racism, but who still advocates for imperial war. The standard American liberal, confronted with tales of robotic drones killing two-year-olds in the night, agrees that it is horrible, and is aghast at the notion that "racism" might play a part in drone war.

However, the standard American liberal has many reasons to still be a part of Group War. They include:

1) "It's their fault [the "real" Arab terrorists' faults] for putting their families in harm's way;"

2) "We're acting on the best information we have available, we take every step possible to avoid killing people, but sometimes it just happens as a by-product of war, which I agree is horrible;"

And, to top them all off, the best possible argument for modern warfare, which is filled with so many levels of justified-yet-disguised pigheaded racism and subtly archaic ignorance and self-interest that it appears, paradoxically, rational:

3) "For civilization [or "the human race"] to survive in a world of proven constant conflict and the great game of states, thereby preserving a few pockets of decency for a few lucky people to live in reasonable comfort, many non-progressive, medieval peoples have to be forced to stop using violence, which requires the use of drones, and we can't afford to risk so many soldiers' lives to stop them with targeted raids, so we have to just bomb neighborhoods and hope for the best, while never forgetting our humanity, and deeply regretting the necessary loss of innocents."

Recognize #3? If you get an American liberal with the emotional strength to withstand the discussion, they will always end up at #3. It's the only plausible retreat from the other justifications for war: a plea to the inevitabilities of natural selection, capitalism, free markets, and the American need to survive in a harsh jungle of realpolitik states.

Cold, indeed. Horrible, yes. And yet, this gets spouted, on occasion, from people who are otherwise quite decent--people who, if they're able to move past their comfortable blinders of American exceptionalism, might actually get it. There are American liberals who were active in the "American Civil Rights" (TM) struggle; people who resisted the Vietnam War and understood the racist notions and corporate lies that drove said War...and yet, these same liberals then fall for the same arguments when it comes to the Iraq War a few decades later. People who cried--really cried--about Vietnamese kids burned by napalm, and who cursed Henry Kissinger to high heaven, find themselves, forty years on, "the establishment," explaining away chunks of six-month-old Afghan viscera as glibly as Hillary Clinton.

How? Why? Many of us have come to this point of confusion, marveling at the colossal levels of concealed racial supremacy and cognitive dissonance conjoined to such GW viewpoints. Here's where the math comes in.

Life and Death as Functions

The problem here is an improper weighting of variables in transmorlative functions. More traditionally put, members of the group "GW" are "putting too low a value on life," or "arguing that, when a tree falls in the forest, it makes no sound if no one is around to hear it." Here are earthly versions of some of the functions:

C - W > Q

Here, let C equal "civilization," let W equal "the tangible costs of war," and let Q equal "chaos," e.g., something like anarchy. As a sentence, this goes, "Civilization suffers the costs of War, but even after suffering them, still trumps the costs of unrestrained and widespread anarchy."

Now, there is a lot to quibble over in that one equation, and that's where most political arguments end up. Anarchists will suggest that Q is in fact zero, and that a lack of order is not a negative thing. Civilization may be greater than nonexistence, but it is not greater than "the costs of chaos," e.g., "anarchy." Let "N" equal nonexistence, and look at the anarchist argument as a function:

C - W > N < Q

Anarchists, then, are saying, "We could do it better," or rather, in a more Nate Doggish way, "Nobody does it better": an unplanned, decentralized system of not-states would produce a superior result. American liberals will argue the opposite, advocating for the first equation, which, with anarchy added in, would look like this:

American liberal's equations:

C - W > N, or Civilization, less the horrible costs of War, is nonetheless greater than Nonexistence

AND

C - W > Q, or Civilization, less the horrible costs of War, is nonetheless greater than the horrible costs of Anarchy


It seems a bit clunky, and more than a bit ridiculous, to attempt to "force" math to explain this stuff, right? There's a good reason, though. Continuing, with anarchists' preferred two versions of the equation:

(White) Anarchist's equations:

N > C - W, or Free People Without States are greater than State Civilization less the horrible costs of War necessary to maintain it

AND, the more daring, insightful version of anarchy's argument:

N > C + W, or Free People Without States are greater than State Civilization and the horrible costs of War upon which State Civilization thrives


Really, the same point, but the latter version pulls fewer punches, and better characterizes entities like Barack Cheney.

The Part Where Math Helps

"Contorting" these arguments into a mathematical format often seems ridiculous, but it does actually help us realize something that might not be apparent without the math. First, we must understand that the arguments haven't been contorted--these are the arguments, directly expressed as equations. American liberals argue what they argue because they are making a cost/benefit analysis of the situation. They "don't like" drone strikes, and dislike some of Obama's policies, but feel they're necessary, and go along with it all, because they're running the C - W > N rubric. Anarchists, and many progressives, counter them using the N > C + W, so it's essentially a mathematical argument.

So, where does the math actually help us? Easy. If you remember your basic algebra classes, you know that variables can be shifted around on either side of an equation, provided the equation remains balanced. Ergo, in the case of the following:

2 + x = 4

x must equal 2, right? Because if 2 + x = 4, we figure it out by subtracting 2 from each side, like so:

2 + x = 4
-2 -2
x = 2

And there we have the foundation of algebra--balancing the equation yields results. We all know that, right? So, let's use the tangible mathematical arguments from above, and apply that kind of algebra to them.

C - W > N
+W +W
C > N + W

...adding a War to each side, to get rid of the negative W, proves that Civilization is better than Anarchy plus War. Easy, right? And for the anarchists:

N > C + W
- W -W
N - W > C

Revealing, this last equation--it shows the truth of the anarchist argument, namely, that anarchists hate states so much that even Anarchy and War combined are better than (state) Civilization. What? Take a look at the most recent equation, N - W > C, with the variables spelled out:

Natural Freedom and Anarchy less the horrible costs of War is still better than State Civilization Without War.

Revealing indeed, of the western middle class' affection for what they call "anarchy," and their dark envy of the elites who control civilization. So many sheltered westerners claim to be anarchists, disavowing a need for any kind of collective police force that would require the extremely mentally retarded to be kept away from kids at the playground, just because they're so used to the comfort of life under a state umbrella that they don't believe there are benefits to collective action, be it called "state" or otherwise.

This isn't meant to devolve into an argument over anarchism, though, so put that aside for now. Focus on the American liberal's apologia for war. We want to find the functions' missing variables. Being able to add and subtract things on either side of the equation produces many ridiculous results, which, when expressed mathematically, show us how ridiculous many of our arguments are. Like geometric proofs, shifting the variables in our little rationalizations show how flawed they are from inception.

Ridiculous, right? A stilted attempt to say nothing at all by reducing complicated issues to math? I promised to show how these explain otherwise-liberal war-apologists, and so I will--using those equations.

Challenging the Apologist

When you approach the apologist, your argument is, "The costs of war are so great and horrible that what you call civilization is not worth those costs." E.g., your argument is, indeed, a mathematical one: "The greater-than sign should be changed to a less-than sign." What you are arguing is:

C - W < N

While what the Obama-apologist is arguing is:

C - W > N

So, your argument is mathematical. You're also arguing that quantity "W," i.e., "The costs of war," is larger than the American liberal says it is. And that's a big argument--you can spend dozens of hours arguing, correctly, about (1) how inaccurate drone strikes are, or (2) how you can't trust tribal Pakistani informants who are accusing neighbors from other tribes of al Qaeda "membership" in exchange for briefcases of cash to feed their families and try to escape the killing zones. You can argue that (3) fewer drone strikes occur in larger cities, not because there are fewer potential terrorists there, but simply because corrupt local politicians are able to better protect their cities from American murderers, and direct the wrath of American murderers toward poorer rural villages.

All of these things are true--and eventually, if you find a patient enough liberal, all of these things will be conceded. And yet, the argument will not be won. No matter how big you make "W," the American liberal's unalterable position is that the greater-than sign starts off facing "C," or civilization.

You can assault the value placed on "civilization," next. You can discuss the millions of Americans in prison; the millions of starving children; the international police state and the financial fraud and environmental devastation of civilization...and still lose, because the "greater than" sign is there.

So you turn to the only place you can, the place I said you would in the beginning: trying to argue that the greater-than sign should be switched into a "less than." You want to tell the killing-apologist, "These things simply aren't worth it. They are too horrible." But because you lack the tools that could properly address the problem, you lose. The greater-than sign stays there for the liberal, it remains a less-than sign for you, and life goes on (for some of us).

The Missing Variable

The variable that we're missing here is an integral part of the transmorlative function, which, expressed in this mathematics, is the "turner" of greater-than/less-than signs. Variables of this type cannot often be expressed in Earth maths, so they sound speculative and pointless, however, one has been an acknowledged part of Earth arithmetic from the beginning, and you're probably already familiar with it: dividing by zero. We all know that you can't divide by zero; when working with fractions, if you have:

174
0

...you have a problem. Math teachers will tell you to just write the solution as "zero," but the real answer here is, "Error," as in, "What your calculator says when you try to divide something by zero." Dividing by zero is another of the lovely paradoxes of this perspective that we all kindly ignore, so long as we're able to keep using the rest of the system to calculate the trajectory of flying objects, and other such things. Dividing by zero is not expressly related to what we're doing here, but for purposes of this discussion, it demonstrates the unexplored attic rooms in the old Victorian manor of our maths--so, if you accept that you can conceptualize, but not properly solve, dividing by zero, you're able to acknowledge other "Error" functions, and realize that any arguments worked out that way are flawed.

Dividing by zero, or partitioning nothing into something and representing it as a quantity, is fun, and related to costless energy production, but again, ignore that for now. Focus on the old equation, C - W > N. Our problem here is that it is an equation; restated, the problem is that neither the "equals" sign, or the "greater-than" sign, or the less-than sign, work out in this place. That's why the argument can't be won, and why arguing for a larger W, a smaller C, or an inverted greater-than symbol is inherently faulty. Here, that's like trying to divide by zero. It's an error, even if your heart's in the right place.

The missing variable is L, which we can define in almost the same words as "W": the costs of war. We should even replace "W" with "L" in our original function, like so:

C - L > N

L has different characteristics than W, though, which makes it invaluable for working things here: L cannot exist. Said another way, L must not exist, e.g., there can be no equations in which L is weighted, for L is the ending of equations, so its appearance in any function in Earth maths is anathema. Like the sudden appearance of zero as the denominator of a fraction, the appearance of L indicates a flawed equation; an impossible equation; an irrefutable proof that the original setup, no matter how complicatedly it was presented, had a fundamental flaw. C - L > N, then, is wrong without argument. That has to be accepted in order to achieve the desired result: a world where the existence of L is not reasonably contemplated.

Eliminating the Unwanted Variable

From this perspective, that appears to be pie in the sky, wishful thinking, et cetera, and yet, it's necessary to get where you (may) want to go. C - W > N is an insane argument; a heartless argument; and, maybe less importantly, a wrong argument, even if all you read is the New York Times. The quite literal and hard-headedly-grounded economic costs of war are too expensive to make C - W > N sensible.

Nonetheless, it's still an arguable equation. You can have a rational disagreement about C - W > N, where one party may be provably wrong, but still making a valid, internally consistent point. To argue about the weight of C, W, or N brings into play opinions about the merits of, say, "clean streets" or "food stamps," and leaves open for speculation the merits and responsibilities of both sides. The war apologist may be confused, heartless, or simply stupid, but s/he may still have that argument rationally.

The argument that needs to be had to settle the issue here is the quintessentially simple argument that dividing by zero is impossible, and that so too is the existence of L. What is "L"? Well, it's not measurable here, which is why it has no place within this rational framework. In this case, L is:

1) Four seconds of the encapsulated agony of one thirty-eight-year-old woman who has just found her infant crushed beneath a fallen first-floor roof and who realizes that she probably won't be able to have another;

2) Two seconds of the encapsulated terror of one infant when it hears the loudest, scariest noise ever and realizes the roof is getting closer really fast.

Granted, L could be called "emotional" here, which is why we've been trained to avoid it in our rationality--but just like dividing by zero, there are places where there aren't actually any emotions involved, but things as tangible and measurable as our ability to weigh barrels of cabbage. In this particular shadow, our ignorance of what makes the scale move causes us to work with broken equations. Unavoidable in some arenas, but once we figure out that certain operations don't "work," we need to stop employing those operations. Trying to have rational arguments with people about inverting the greater-than symbol is fail, even if you're right, because your counter-argument will also be wrong. C - W < N is wrong, because if you add a W to each side, you get C < N + W, or C < N + L, or "Anarchy plus the costs of War is still better than awful state Civilization," which is wrong because it includes L. If you hate the idea of Barack murdering families in their sleep, then you can't stand for the existence of L.

To have any chance, however small, of being effective, you have to be willing to address the real point: the existence of L. You need to suggest the bane of modern realpolitik, namely, the impossibility of taking any action which could cause L to appear anywhere on the board. Any other form of equation is flawed, because any equation which leads to an L variable being stuck inside Earth maths is going to be wrong.

Your Levelheaded Take

When you haven't been told about certain variables, you still understand this. It was not by "cold, rational" means that you came to oppose drone-strikes against Arab kiddies; rather, you already recognized the infeasibility of L, and you were just trying to express it in the best way you could, by saying, "C - W < N." Wrong, but your heart was in the right place. Yet, because you were wrong, the American liberal senses an instinctive wrongness in your argument--their own humanity, telling them that your argument will lead, also, to L...and so, they feel justified in resisting it, even if their resistance is in the form of an impossible defense of L.

If you're into realpolitik, and don't like any of the presumably mushy stuff, look at it this way: the only way to be actually right, and the only way to address the issue at the core of the disagreement, is to point out the characteristic impossibility of L. L can't be weighed or valued, here, except to call it something like "negative infinity," or "the destroyer of worlds and equations," which must be wholly prevented. Using L that way solves a lot of other arguments had here too, including the white western anarchy one--because leaving kiddies to the whims of roving gangs is impossible, there must be some sort of communal safety arrangements.

Anyhoo, looking forward. There are places where L can be used, but it's not here or now. The operative thing to remember is that, like it or not, you'll have to employ so-called mushy variables in order to be correct. Most war apologists don't actually believe in C - W > N, even though they think they do. What they're actually trying to do, by supporting war, is to subtly argue the insane, impossible position that L is weighable and usable here. That's why they so easily dodge stuff like, "The CIA decides who to murder based upon cash-purchased testimony from the local drunk," or, "The police could arrest the suspect rather than the military blowing up the suspect's entire family." They're not actually invested in the variables they claim; what they are invested in is the ridiculous notion that L can become part of a measurable debate.