Sunday, June 29, 2014

Gay Selfies Upworthied

So, Jesus voided the old law, meaning we can forget all about Leviticus, right?

But then, what does that mean to everyone like you in "the ancient world"? Does it mean it was okay, back then, to "deny them basic civil rights," murder or discriminate against them, before Jesus showed up in the manger? Was it okay for God to enforce those laws before, so long as He stopped enforcing them when it came time for American dudes to file joint returns? Should you be following a book and a faith written in large part by Paul, who was, according to you, an ignorant bigot?

And, you sick thief, you do realize what you've just done, right? By linking it all to lust and monogamy, you've joined onto the bathhouse raids, vindictive AIDS policy, and brutalized queers of the latter half of America's twentieth century, since that was all blamed on free association, too. How humane. How progressive.

What a strange, narcissistic element of Americana to find expression in 2014. Kind of like, "Yeah, there was slavery, but that's in the past and we're enlightened now, so forget all about it." Well, what if Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis were still alive, and still in charge of the universe, the way you think God is? In the case of an almighty supernatural being outside of time and space, the original perpetrator is still on the loose.

Is God good, then, or evil? Was it good, back then, to kill homosexuals for The Act? Was God right or wrong, Mr. Vines? And will it come around again? What if the old law were reinstated? And why is it okay to still condemn to eternal torture those who don't want monogamy? Okay, so you were born as a homosexual, and your special book can be interpreted in a way that makes you feel comfortable linking it to a modern legal institution...but by your rules, can people who were born bisexual, or with a little more testosterone than you, have committed relationships with two or more partners without going to hell? Or is "lustful" behavior still condemned, in your take on the Second Amendment, excuse me, Bible?

So many awful things buried in here. Even for the Bible in-fighters, what about the part where Jesus says he doesn't come to change the old law, but to uphold it? And what does that say about Judaism? If the old law is terrible and got voided by Jesus, are you willing to say that Jews have a stupid, evil, outdated religion? My guess is no. Even though you make clear that "the ancient world" included kinds of terrible discrimination that are no longer modern, humane, or valid.

We built our palaces on sand. Our well-intentioned sales pitches seem to have a few yawning voids; a few logical gaps big enough to drive a fleet of FedEx trucks through. And since you're such clever researchers, proving that the old texts justify what you want right now, surely you've realized that.

So what is this really about? It seems mostly about justifying whatever we want to feel like at any given time, connecting it to something we view as "traditional" no matter how twisted or incomplete the connection. What about dogs who want women, and women who are slatternly enough to permit mounting to arouse their human partners? Eternal damnation? What about women who break monogamy because they've learned something new and exciting about themselves? Eternal damnation? Christ, that's your answer to everything, isn't it?

How stupidly, eerily conservative is this whole "gay marriage" thing. Let's make sure we sow the seeds of another century of shattered souls and brutal social discrimination against everyone who isn't part of the westerners' legally binding contract-monogamy club. (Updated, thank you Amber--and while we're at it, fuck their souls, too!)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Facebook Psychology Study

Yeah, I get it. Facebook is better than Big Brother because it allows participants to freely provide their own spy-type information to a whorish corporation that supplies it all to the NSA anyway. And what do they have to do with all that time and money, and those PhDs they hired? Studies determining whether or not seeing more negative or positive posts from your friends cause you to produce more negative or positive posts yourself? Are we not scared yet?

Link here. Like all the stuff these Steven Pinkeresque idiots think up, it's irredeemably broken and dumber than a roomful of psychologists who think they're doing science. Quote:
[The study] shows how Facebook data scientists tweaked the algorithm that determines which posts appear on users’ news feeds—specifically, researchers skewed the number of positive or negative terms seen by randomly selected users. Facebook then analyzed the future postings of those users over the course of a week to see if people responded with increased positivity or negativity of their own, thus answering the question of whether emotional states can be transmitted across a social network. Result: They can! Which is great news for Facebook data scientists hoping to prove a point about modern psychology.
God, it hurts worse than watching Kerry talk about helping the people of Iraq. Well, maybe not that bad. But what makes a word "negative" or "positive"? What makes a post negative or positive? If a bunch of friends comment during the study month on a friend's funeral, is it negative, or positive? If they talk about what a great life he had in glowing terms, to cheer each other up, while being crushed inside, they read as positive--if they share anecdotes about what an idiot he was back in their service days, they read as negative, even if they're crying tears of joy for his passing. If they insult each other good-naturedly about different World Cup teams, negative or positive? If some of the people being randomly monitored are emo teenagers talking about death and failed romance, and others are Utah housewives covering God, how valuable is it to correlate their respective jargon with the researchers' interpretations of what positive and negative are? Try how hard you might, psychologists, your profession and training are irrelevant. You are a truly pitiful attempt to industrialize the sense of personality, which can only be known by knowing someone. You're priests who have never prayed; you're an Australian four-year-old who reads car magazines and believes he knows what it's like to drive an M3 on the autobahn with a delicate blonde in the passenger's seat.

Broken, wasteful, utterly stupid...and, as the proles would say, "Duh. If a bunch of people say bad stuff to you, you feel bad, too." How many millions of dollars did this study cost? How many people will read the article and be amazed? Are the evil tyrant overlords of the datamining internet truly that vacuous? My new grant application is $1.6 million for a study to determine the effects of highway rest stops on food enjoyment. Participants will be randomly selected from college students in my locality who spend their time reading bulletin boards next to the psychology building. They will be split into two groups, one of whom will eat Subway foot-longs and bags of chips in a nearby highway rest stop bathroom, and the other of which will eat their sandwiches in a sunny meadow under a red and white striped umbrella. Participants will then be asked to rate their enjoyment of their sandwich from "1" to "10," with "10" being "best sandwich ever" and "1" being "worst sandwich ever." I will punch the data into an algorithm that took my team months to develop, then deliver a report to the National Institute of Health. TED invitations will soon follow, and after my talks go viral, I'll probably be hired to head the satisfaction development team for the University of California's food services department (I'll consult for Subway on the side, of course, to pad my lush royalty income from the American Bathroom Eateries book I had ghostwritten in my name after the TED thing took off).

So, is it a fake? Are the data overlords so clever that they're publicly acknowledging faked experiments like this one in order to make us think that they're that dumb, so that they can do even more nefarious things behind closed doors? Or, are they really that dumb, and they're like the NIH wasting $175K on a study to determine the effect cocaine exposure has on the mating habits of Japanese pigeons?* I guess when you have kids as dumb as William and Harry, you're desperate to buy anything that could make them look sharp. Hey, it's just like stacking the deck to make sure that special someone wins in Candyland, except that you're spending real money while other people starve to death.

Would it be a relief to find out that they really were that dumb? Which is worse: this thing being used as a ruse to make us underestimate them, or this thing being a real study, indicating how cosmically stupid they truly are? Starfall, longing for the days when "data" was distinguishable from a recording of someone saying, "My cat's breath smells like cat food."

* Really though.

Jungle Brig

Jung-derived personality test. Multiple choice, of course.

Here's a more specific look at how multiple choice investigations, on which so much of our societies are based, are worthless.

1. You are almost never late for your appointments
YES NO


Jane the cardiologist is scrupulous, brilliant, and considerate, but is double-booked all day because she had to take a job with the regional association since she didn't have sixty grand after medical school to get her own practice started. Her patients growl and frown at the clock when it takes twenty minutes past their stated time of arrival before they are even shown into the pre-waiting-room waiting room, where their vitals are taken, and it is a harried, yet sweet Jane who meets them in the second waiting room forty-three minutes after their designated appointment time. Jane's office manager understands why she is always late to their lunches, when she is able to show up at all. Jane manages to have one or two dates a month with people she meets on match.com, and she has breakfast with her mother every other Sunday, and for each of these events she is half an hour early. Being perfectly honest and having a good understanding of math, and the meaning of "almost never," she forthrightly answers Question #1 NO.

Doug the roofer forgot to pick up little Joey again at the school field after baseball practice, since a job ran late and made him late getting to O'Reilly's Pub by the county line. When Susie screams at him about it, he grabs a pack of cigarettes and gets back in his truck. He finds Joey sitting alone on the bleachers after the lights are long turned off, trying to do his math homework with light from a cell phone. They don't really talk on the way home. The next day at work, Doug is awarded a pre-printed certificate of merit from his boss for doing such good work on the Central job, and the boss tells the new guy to ride shotgun with Doug for a while when he goes out on quote calls. Doug knows the area like the back of his hand, and he hasn't had a complaint the whole past couple years. He makes contractor jokes whenever shaking hands with whoever the customer is, and he sits in the neighborhood nearby smoking and listening to the radio for a few minutes before each call, 'cause when you're out on a call, you don't have to help the shop clean up any of its loose materials. Anything to get outta doing the materials guys' work for them; anything to get outta the goddamn house. Being perfectly honest and having a reasonable understanding of math, and knowing that his work record has been perfect since he got fired from the last place for being late all the time, Doug forthrightly answers Question #1 YES.

Times a million. For decades. With Doug, he might be an inconsiderate jerk who's just trying to keep his job, so he's on time for five or ten appointments a week. With Doug, we can say, "Well, maybe he's really a liar, deep down," or something like that. But Jane? How stupidly abstract and relative is the question worded? A lot.

What kind of appointments? Work, social, filial, romantic...? If you get to work on time, but always hurry into office meetings 15 minutes late because you were on the line with the marketing department, do you answer yes, or no? If you recently turned over a new leaf, yes, or no? If you won the lottery a year ago, or retired after a crushing career of being on time, and decided to take things easy, does it suddenly make you an appointment-breaker, even though your character in a different situation was the appointment-keeper? If the meeting doesn't start until Donald Trump arrives, is he always on time, or is he just so powerful that he can bend the fabric of reality to make him look like a conscientious person?

That's part of what the inane question is trying to get at, of course. Psychologists decided that they would tease out whether or not someone was "thoughtful" or "conscientious" by using social and workplace standards of "being on time" to gauge an aspect of character. A NO adds a point to the "forgetful/inconsiderate" pile, while a YES makes someone appear "good at time management," or some other similar bonus. And yeah, in theory, enough of the questions, taken all together, are supposed to result in a profile that makes sense, but how helpful can such an over-generalized, non-specific blurb be?

Smart, thoughtful, considerate, loving, well-organized and responsible people who work two jobs, take care of children, occupy a certain profession, whatever, will have to fairly portray themselves as absent-minded, arrogant, or inconsiderate, because they failed to meet the study standard. Honest CEOs (or whatever other important figure you like) will admit that the meeting often has to wait for them, and answer NO, while dishonest ones--or ones who genuinely, intelligently understand that the real purpose of the meeting is their presence, therefore they can't logically be late--will answer YES. You're as likely to get a "wrong" answer from an extraordinarily arrogant person as from an extraordinarily humble one.

Honest doctors can conclude, and rightly so, that their staff initiates an appointment, so the specific time the doctor comes into the waiting room is irrelevant. And if that doctor always makes tee time early, so his friends don't have to wait, he's answered honestly and been categorized one way. A different kind of honest, intelligent doctor could answer the opposite way, because they interpret the purpose of their profession/office differently.

Who defines "late"? If you and your friends agree, "About 8 or so," by habit, and arrive at varying times, how far does the clock spin before you answer YES or NO? Do appointments with yourself count? Appointments to clean the garage on Saturday, like you promised? Or only formal ones that come with invitations and have an exact time pre-printed?

How helpful is it to have thirty different versions of answers to that same question, each one equally vague?

And what if you're taking the test aware of all these problems? What if you're a social psychologist, or just a communications major, whose friends all linked their own profiles on facebook, so as you take the test, you're trying to guess, "What did the authors of the test intend to discover by this particular leading, incomplete, badly-worded question?" Is it fair, then, to realize, "Oh, this one is trying to chart part of your personality based on time-management skills, so I'll answer yes, even though I'm having a rough period right now and have been late to some of my classes"?

2. You like to be engaged in an active and fast-paced job
YES NO


How many millions of unemployed people fill these things out, idly clicking the YES bubble or the NO bubble during daytime internet browsing? Do you answer that yes, you'd like to be engaged in an active and fast-paced job because it would be a job, even though you're an MLS who hopes to be hired at a quiet rural library where things are anything but active and fast-paced? Which answer is honest--that you want a job, or that you'd prefer a fast-paced one?

And who would answer YES anyway, in the entire western world? Maybe you're in an active and fast-paced job, but you hate your evil corporation and only do it for the money. Does a NO mean you'd prefer to starve?

What is "fast-paced"? Is timed telemarketing as an independent contractor for $2/hr (no joke, it exists, it exists in America, and it's completely legal, and futz on anyone's belief in the relevance of "minimum wage" show-arguments) fast paced? If you're paid by the sale, rather than by the hour, and you're rather lackadaisical about it even though the job description indicates a preference for speed, do you consider your job fast-paced? If a man becomes a paramedic because he likes to save lives, but is terribly stressed by the pace, and has to drown himself in Xanax just to keep going, does he answer that he likes his job, or doesn't like it? Because he loves what he does, but he hates the pace that it sometimes requires, hates it so much it's killing him? The eager young lawyer who becomes a public defender to help the indigent, then drinks herself into the grave because the system is a plea-bargained hell meant to rape the dark population--a month before she hits the overpass on purpose, when she takes the test, does she answer that she enjoys her fast-paced job, or not? How does it change the situation if she dies content that she did her best in a hard world, and she's at peace with her soul because she never sold out and became a city prosecutor who threatened a dozen black kids a day into juvie for petty theft or selling a suburban kid a dime bag?

For the next few, try to think less about someone being an arrogant narcissist, and more about someone a little smarter, who just isn't sure how to answer the questions the "right" way--who could easily go either way on the tails of the same thought.

3. You enjoy having a wide circle of acquaintances
YES NO


The office worker/prisoner who has a wide circle of fellow employees/convicts, but who would prefer to be retired/released with a smaller circle? The nervous person who would like to have a wide circle of friends, but who is terrified by the idea of losing her/his small circle? If you work in clerical at the U.N., and have four good friends from four different countries, is that a "wide" circle? Or does your friend, the owner of a pizza joint, who has dozens of close friends who've grown up in the area and all of whom, like him, have never left the city, the one who truly has a "wide" circle? How can you tell the psychologists that you are, indeed, an extrovert and/or a more public person--by answering the question honestly, or by lying to cover the mistake produced by their clumsy phrasing?

4. You feel involved when watching TV soaps
YES NO


If you've never watched them, but heard that they're good? And what do you do if you're an ad account rep who utterly loathes soaps, but pays close attention to them for demographic cues? An aspiring assistant to a television screenwriter, looking to ferret out the competition? How do you tell the fools that you're an empathic person, without admitting that you like soap operas? And what about your old high school friend Barbara, who hates everyone who ever lived, and who took delight when her husband overdosed on his medication so she could get his pension? Barbara spends all day alone in her apartment eating freezer cookies in her awful stuffed pink armchair, but she gets really into whatever comes on TV. Is she really the caring, naturally helpful person the question will report that she is? Even if she knows she's a sociopath, but answers the question honestly in order to use the test to learn more about herself, she is involved in her shows, so she shows up on the radar as "loving/caring/attentive."

5. You are usually the first to react to a sudden event, such as the telephone ringing or unexpected question
YES NO


Apparently, the psychologists don't like articles, which raises an interesting question--how do drugs play into this? If you take Xanax to keep it together, but were a really jumpy person before, it changes your score on this question from a YES to a NO. Which answer is the "true" you? Should your current prescription be able to change your result? Go the other way, to the PTSD vet who pulls a gun whenever the phone rings suddenly--he used to be the quietest, gentlest guy you know. Is that person still inside? Or should we gloss over it forever because of how jumpy he is now?

6. You are more interested in a general idea than in the details of its realization
YES NO


What does the "hands on" manager answer, if his employees' satisfaction surveys always come back with gold stars? If you're a mason who builds houses by hand, do you answer YES? Or do you think about the many different factories that produce the thousands of parts used by your fellow contractors, the half of which you don't really know anything about, and answer NO? Jeebus, psychology has never really recovered from its true calling: preparing unit-placement multiple choice tests for the modern army. What a wasted education. They should just condense all this stuff down to, "Do you think you would more enjoy driving tanks in the armored cavalry, or fixing those tanks and letting others drive them for you?"

7. You tend to be unbiased even if this might endanger your good relations with people
YES NO


Oh, JFC... "Actually, my dear, I tend to be unfairly biased." Because the ability to say that means you aren't. So, if you're a civil rights demonstrator, but you're so educated you know that we all can't eliminate our own biases, do you answer NO, graciously conceding your inner bias of which you're unaware? And getting lumped, thereby, into the same personality group as the racial supremacist dude? But don't feel too bad for the mistake, because the second racial supremacist to answer the test knows that his conclusions about other races aren't "bias" or "wrongness," but a logical, scientific understanding of the subhuman nature of those races. So he's a YES.

What if you're a civil rights demonstrator, but you know that your local chapter of the do-gooders doesn't march against Columbus Day because you'd lose a lot of funding from local businesses for going too far? Do you consider yourself a sellout, and answer NO, even if--in all other aspects of your life--you're lecturing drugstore owners on behalf of the old dude in the wheelchair who had trouble getting into the store? And what if you're that exact same person, but you realize you helped out the guy in the wheelchair instead of the woman with the cane, because the former looked to be having "more" trouble, and oh, you don't know anything about that poor woman, so clearly, you're as biased as the KKK!

(This one is rather like asking subjects the question, "Are you a good person?" to which Mother Theresa would have to honestly answer NO because she knows that she has done so little and has not been free from sin, unless she were to honestly answer YES because she has been forgiven and is the handiwork of God.)

Issues

Like all of these kinds of tests, the questions cycle themselves over, many essentially repeating the inquiries from earlier, but in a different way. There are a lot of reasons to care about this crap, if you care about any of the details in this place. Firstly, this is the computer language of western society. Decades of social policy, education, entertainment, consumer product production, military battle planning, and well-intentioned parenting has been webbed across the western world, convincing many people that personalities are quantifiable in this way. Even though the tests themselves are dismissed as "cute" or "wow, so like me!" without really changing anyone's life as a result, the underlying assumptions--that personalities are so automatic and banal permeate not only hiring decisions, but the individual's belief in the potential of self. E.g., when Amy finds out she's a Level 42 Half Assertive, who is generally confident with some inner doubts, she doesn't do anything differently because of it; however, her willingness to approach the fortune teller's tent in the first place, and believe that the test is more than cute entertainment, has already infected her: regardless of whether or not she's a Level 42 Half Assertive or a Level B6 Sly Wallflower, her openness to the idea that she is defined by a subset of pre-fixed variables has already crushed her belief in her own potential. In that, these tests are like the people who say there's nothing new under the sun, because they already have a list of who everyone is--a deathblow cultural meme when heard by a kid who once thought she was special and unique.

Governments, of course, spend billions of dollars on utterly worthless tests like these. Variations on these same themes--which are so broken that it would be a compliment to call them merely "unreliable or "foolish"--determine civil service job placement military and corporate career advancement, and early childhood development and funding. Psychiatrists diagnose and drug children (and adults) who answer these kinds of questions certain ways, and they can mean the difference between the insanity plea and the needle, or the officer training school or armored cav, in other systems of control.

Practically speaking, any realist should hate these things, because of the ungodly amounts of money spent on them since factory warfare states came up with the idea that they could decant people into cogs with enough fixed-response testing. Even if you don't fear the reduction of all consciousness to input/response, you should be fuming at how much money and time we're all levied for to throw these useless Q&As at everyone. The government is like that friend of yours on facebook who keeps posting their personality quiz results on your page, and begging you to take the latest "Which holiday icon are you?" quiz and put the results on her page--except that with the government, you have to send $1,000 to the local Department of Health and Human Services, or else you're tasered and jailed, and everything in your apartment goes up for police auction.

The closest kin to these things really is the salesman fortune-teller. The sensation and salesmanship of the whole show has changed from honest merrymaking to grim science, but the recycled response-components are all still there--as are the hints of compliments and overdose of generalities in all the variations on "your personality."

E

Of course, entertainment. From an elite perspective, the great thing about these notions of personality is that they accustom people to a lot of the behavior we want: inside-the-box thinking; sense of powerlessness; easy manipulation by those granted the authority to administer fixed questions; loss of personality and independence conjoined with the belief that there really is nothing more out there to discover. Its helped make "entertainment" factory-quality, too. Get an idea, bring it to a friendly producer, hire a shift of flat actors, a digital composer, and a rotating cycle of writers, and bam, you've got yourself a successful movie or TV show. Every character announces who they are as soon as they're onscreen; everyone delivers punchy, characteristic lines in a jumble just slow enough for the average viewer to follow, and the admixture of known personalities leads to predictable results. Jargon is adopted and dropped whenever convenient, and the world is as flat and lifeless as this place is trying to become.

As we watch it all, we realize that the only way we can be so uncannily concise and confident is by doing the same things the actors are: repeating canned phrases in an authoritative way, each acting as to her/his own role. This is why real police officers didn't act like police on TV, but why, after generations of terribly unrealistic cop shows, younger officers are starting, more and more, to try to sound like the actors they think were accurately representing that social role. The pretty girls in high school might've been mean, but they were never as snappily, internally-inconsistently one-liner mean as they were when they started to try to imitate the cool, confident mean girls on high school dramas and sitcoms. As we come to believe that entertainment is reflecting, rather than directing, we are directed. And in no small way--young soldiers have adopted the TV "soldier" and "cop" attitudes, too. Once upon a time, independent, self-assured farmboys joined the military, and would break down and cry when an officer screamed at them to snipe someone. Yes, later many would turn into the murderers of American lore, but there were serious problems in the World War with getting American white kids (sic!) to kill and to risk, and it even hung on a little into Vietnam.

Now, entertainment has shown us all the job roles we're supposed to adopt, and the shooting comes easier. Faceless, voiceless, you're a number. Even the criminals do it--people think that those inanely formulaic serial killer shows give an insight into "the darkness in the human soul," and when someone wants to be cool and dark, they know just what role to play. Kids striking plea bargains over liquor store robberies even know how to protest to the ADA, with just the right combination of street language, about how the system isn't fair.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Capitally Speaking

The people who think Obama is a Kremlinite socialist are always objectively curious; Captain Capitalist calls himself, well, Captain Capitalist, and on his painfully ad-laden page, advertises his several home businesses along with regular targeted Google & ad-partner ads. The best of his stuff is the Russian winter hats with Obama's name and the USSR symbol, neatly encapsulating his ideology. He and the many like him (who are quite popular) produce all the stuff you'd expect, including regularly saying things like, "There's [multiple subjects]", wanting the American Republican Party to be more Republican and not compromise with those liberal, socialist Democrats, complaining about men's rights and about women who don't put out enough, and fretting that the U.S. is being destroyed by socialists.

In keeping with the general theme of good versus evil, this one will eventually try, to a degree, to rationalize and defend the ideology, but right now, we'll focus on capitalism/socialism issues.

Capital is Colonial

The funniest thing about these 99-percenter go-getter types is that they bitterly loathe Obama (and Bill and Killary, and Feinstein, and the rest of the Fed/DLC) for being "socialist." This wouldn't be funny on its own, except that they view these people as also being, "Not capitalist." Which is hilarious, because Obama is the coldest capitalist you know. In the free market, Obama is beating the hell out of Captain Capitalism, and he's such a good capitalist that he even lies about socialism in order to make his capitalism seem more appealing to his target audience. Now that's good capitalism.

Yeah yeah, define our terms. Capitalism is private ownership of the means of production, whereas socialism is public ownership of the means of production. Now, there has never been actual capitalism in the U.S., anymore than there has been actual democracy, because capitalism can only exist without any kind of regulation. If you "own" your store in old New York, but you have to pay the mob protection money or else get killed and taken over, do you really own your store? And if simply having a piece of paper saying that you own it is enough, then, if we write up a document which gives High Arka the moon, does she own it? Either yes, or you get what this one is saying about the semantics of "own."

Pure capitalism has to be anarchy, because a government that prevents a businessman from exerting labor to steal desired products has already interfered with the freedom of the private individual to own, acquire, and sell products in the marketplace. Most governments do far more than that, begging the question of "marketplace" by proscribing that you can't [openly] kill your [domestic] competitors in order to absorb their businesses, that you can't sell certain products because they're too dangerous, et cetera.

Maybe it's "obvious" that these examples are extreme, but so is capitalism, which is why people die from it every day.

Since feudalism, what we've called "capitalism" has always (yes, always) been in actuality "colonialism:" a process whereby governments use general fiat, debt, or criminology to justify the creation of privateer armies, often shipbound, who kill (dark) people and take their stuff. The plunder goes up for sale, and sometimes, by depriving natives of social support structures and using the resulting void as justification, the governments gain new "markets" for their own goods.

(Say, by England destroying African fields in order to mine inedible diamonds, then sending scholars, with military protection, to teach the natives how to pesticide/till soil in order to temporarily increase crop yields on remaining lands for a few years before starvation sets in, then extending credit so that the natives can buy stronger plows from English firms...then selling guns so the traitors can put down armies of starving rebels who say their leadership is too complicit with foreign thieves, et cetera.)

Lenin argued that imperialism was the highest stage of capitalism, but he was wrong. Imperialism is perhaps the formative stage of capitalism, except in some idealized thought experiment about cavemen trading the wheel to each other in a pre-industrial theft-free utopia. This one isn't saying that such a utopia never existed, but it didn't exist in post-feudal Europe.

As far as this recent few thousand years of human history goes, whatever we've called "capitalism" can't exist without colonialism, and by the same token, whatever we've called "democracy" has never existed without colonialism either. Maybe in a hypothetical utopia these social arrangements (capitalism/democracy) are good, but they've only ever proven themselves brutal; worse, in fact, than rule under the occasional benevolent and/or lazy noble, who can make a personal decision to not have a war this generation, a feat which hegemonic democracy has yet been unable to duplicate.

Capitalism is Socialism

If State military or police forces are required to enforce ownership of private property, then there is no capitalism; the owners will be perpetually bonded to the State for the marketplace protections that only the State can provide. Just like paying protection money to the mob, that makes the War Finance State the true owner, regardless of whose name is on the sign--as many American homeowners have recently discovered. Ergo the State constantly levies taxes upon trade and upon the land itself, so that there isn't a single inch of the country upon which you can stand which is not either (1) owned outright by the State, or (2) leased temporarily to private "owners" for regular tax payments, with missed payments being cause for State seizure.

So arguably, barring any caveman utopias, the most capitalism the world has ever had is "regulated" capitalism, which is to say, indirect socialism. Yeah, the government doesn't "own" all the factories, but all the Kings and Lords and Presidents and Senators and their families and their friends and their sub-corps and the local offices are filled by the right people, who also own the stock in the factories, so really, the government does own everything. Walmart buys off city and county officials in order to get local tax bases to subsidize their land purchases and externalities, just as it buys off Dublin and other jurisdictions to avoid paying tax to the USG. And this isn't new, either; slave plantations, Indian massacres, Banana Republic wars, and the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria were all taxpayer-subsidized business ventures, their owners protected from liability while being simultaneously entitled to all the profits.

This is another piece of what this recent few thousand years of human history teaches us: successful capitalists never take any action until they've already been given several layers of protection by governments. Colonialism couldn't begin to replace feudalism until capitalists were assured that the government would send in the army to reinforce private expeditions to enslave Africans; until the government promised them that the families of poor lost sailors wouldn't be able to successfully sue them for ships sunk due to insane levels of negligence and carelessness. Like capitalists today, who demand tax privileges and military/police protection and tax-subsidized education and health care for their workers, early colonialists weren't willing to risk anything, which is why they were so successful. Those rugged, tough pirate heroes, much like Warren Buffett or Mitt Romney, would cry and leave the marketplace the instant their wrinkly white asses were required to go recapture Iraq to stabilize the energy flows that their estates depend on--or just prevented from depreciating buildings for massive "income losses" every year. Imagine the socialist bawling from the pages of Forbes if those worthless parasitic shits were forced to pound gravel or walk the enlisted route for as many years as it took to make their investments safe: "I don't wanna play capitalism anymore! Bwaaaaaaah!" (Go kill your own Blackfoot, Buffett. And suddenly, there was no more capitalism.)

Capitalism has always, and always will, require a State-created marketplace with protective rules, in order to consolidate wealth in the hands of the weakest, laziest, least capable people, who would be the fastest to lose it in a world without police and military protection. Ergo capitalism has to be socialism: private individuals can't gain exclusive control of the means of production without grants from a State, ergo capitalism can only exist simultaneously with disguised socialism.

The American Republicans are liars because they know full well that you only succeed at capitalism by owning the State, by the pleasure of which the "capitalist" does business, and the American Democrats are liars because they know full well that they only flirt with equality-related terms in order to make people think that "socialism" is about the welfare of everyone (or at least every acknowledged "citizen," as goes the callous mindset), rather than about the right people in the right positions deciding which markets to repress and which to open.

Who may enter and who may not enter the marketplace? What may be sold there? What kinds of transactions are crimes, and what kind are not crimes? Which crimes will be vigorously enforced, and which overlooked when committed by which participants? Who gets to assess transaction fees (taxes) to pay for the military and police protections required to maintain a non-chaotic marketplace, and who gets to control the outlay of the resulting massive super-surplus of resources? Which currencies may be used for transactions at which values, and for which currencies will use result in a quite serious armed response? These questions all have to be answered for capitalism to be anything but a lawless dystopia, and they are inevitably answered by a government, ergo capitalism is always socialism. You can register a deed in the name of "Bob Rich, citizen of the Capitalist Republic of..." or "The People's State of..." but the nomenclature is ridiculous and non-binding.

Our little names are cute, sort of like we're naming one of our stuffed animals "Frank" and the other "Harry." The real power, though, remains--as in the stuffed animal case--with the forces that empower the animals to walk and talk. It does help if we have names for things, but these particular terms beg too many prerequisites, and are too interlinked, to be reasonably assumed to be different things. "Volcano" and "duck" are clearly different concepts in the realms of both ideation and practical effect; "capitalism" and "socialism," though, produce the same practical effect, and are merely used to dress up how we "feel" about our playthings today.

The Failure of Marxism

Marxism fails not because ideas of everyone's welfare are wrong, or because capitalists are not driven to be evil bastards, but because the same forces governing the consolidation and abuse of private capital govern the consolidation and abuse of government capital. If you're not much into "Marxism," the problem with capitalism is that some capitalists inevitably gain so much power that the marketplace becomes no longer fair. Posit the existence of a "fair marketplace" of 1,000 individuals, in which everyone begins with the same amount of capital, and her or his own abilities, then pursues wealth. Even did such a situation occur, success would beget easier future successes, such that eventually, Individual 704 was able to succeed in his market transactions every time even though he no longer possessed a superior product or any skills to offer, the way he had at the beginning. The power and security of his earlier-acquired resources would make him a success no matter what. When the ability of market participants to process the other 999 participants' offerings became limited by time or space, even the savviest of the participants would find themselves relying on advertising, rather than knowledge, to make decisions. And people would get old, and heirs would inherit pre-existing money and power regardless of personal merit, and so on. All of the leeches we have now would turn up under Marx's assumed scenarios (ergo the need for jubilees or similarly stylized purges to make our best possible attempts at crafting actually-fair markets; more later).

Marx had a lot of cute things to say about how that would always happen, even though he was missing the point that capitalism was just a re-branding of feudalism, where make-believe "debts" and "currencies" would control behavior in a pyramidal society, instead of the "obligations" and "castes" that had done it when we had a different name for our playtime. There never was a "fair starting point," so capitalism could never prove Marx right; Marx was right, but there's no proof for it, because all the capitalisms he could ever speculate about had been unfair from the get-go. His critics are welcome to claim that, in some manner of "pure" capitalism, Marx's predictions wouldn't bear out. They'd be wrong, again, but there's no citing and proving it from this place.

In either way--by consolidating from a fair starting point, or by remaining consolidated because they were the pre-rich, inbred spawn of the feudal lords--capitalists become so powerful that they and their heirs can prevent future competition, change the rules of the marketplace in order to further consolidate power, and buy government and make it do their bidding. E.g., the ACA, in which the insurance sector rents the executive and legislative branches in order to achieve legislation forcing consumers to buy its product. Capitalism starts from and always results in imperialism, in search of new markets for the greedy pigs who can never have enough profit, and capitalism always results in socialism, because buying the government that regulates your markets and controls the military is the best investment for any capitalist.

In fact, looking closer, we come to see that the State itself is capitalism/socialism. "Markets" only exist because States provision them, and what makes them "markets" is the fact that they have some level of regulation, provided by States and favorable to capitalists. Russian State-owned department stores, and American privately-held department stores, have different levels of merchandise quality, but ultimately, the profits, employment, zoning, development, and everything else associated with the stores, are controlled by and flow to the same people: the plutocrats running the socio-capitalist State.

"Socialism" inevitably reveals itself to be capitalism, too, for much the same reason that capitalism becomes socialism: because both systems involve taking advantage of a large underclass, which neither controls the "private capital" nor "government relationships" necessary to leverage market forces in its favor. In order to deflect underclass anger, elites need to regularly switch back and forth between "socialist" arrangements and "capitalist" arrangements, much to the applause of their subjects, who are sure that this time around it will be an improvement. In either case, it is the same people running the companies or handing out the government grants, and in each case--invisible hand or guided hand--the rationalization is that some disembodied, abstract process will lead humanity to a brighter future. Marx blasted capitalists as accurately as my nephew blasted Mitt Romney, but overlooked socialists as completely as that same nephew thought Obama was a savior.

The easy counterargument here is, "Well, China and Russia, thinly-veiled capitalist gangsters, maybe--but oh, oh, Sweden!" And then we remember that the Western European socialist nations only exist because of longstanding tactical alliances with their brutish offspring America, which does all the dirty work enforcing State boundaries. So when Swiss firms launder money for Mexican drug billionaires, or Finn government officials quietly improve telecommunications quality in partnership with American firms--indirectly drawing upon the same sweatshops that Americans indirectly draw upon from puppet firms/regimes--the resulting clean streets are not a result of good behavior, but of subcontracting out all the filthy stuff. Western Europe is like the Steve Jobs of business: oh-so-cute with its nesting dolls and handmade chocolate, but with several million little brown corpses hidden under the floorboards.

Means of Production

The next level of the problem in this situation is "economics," or the idea that economies should exist, or serve some function. And yes, they should--they should be a great playplace once the basics are taken care of, just like you can play video games once you've done your homework and cleaned your room, or you can take a vacation every so often if you maintain a steady job and put something aside for your future. Economies are not the means of provisioning life, nor should they be. They are a means of provisioning national glory, consolidated prosperity, and fun competition, but they are something that shouldn't even be contemplated until the most important needs are met. Earth's great economic leap will be the relegation of economics to the realm of video games, and the ascendance of purpose, which is to say, enunciating and enforcing the goals of the species as something other than "the best will out in a realpolitik anarchy of competing states and ideologies." E.g., something like Every Child Fed, where we stop whispering lurid erotica to each other about the most efficient method to achieve who-knows-what, and instead talk about what our methods are supposed to get us to--and then realize that we should just be accomplishing the goal, rather than perfecting a pointless method.

The "means of production," then, are mere duckspeak. The means of production of what? Produce, but why? Yes, goals lead to uncomfortable philosophical and religious discussions, but those are things better hashed out now than later. Our many mental sicknesses have been repressed so long, kept alive but in veiled order behind the police forces of hundreds of nations--it's like a sick person's psyche, unaddressed and untreated, but allowed to live in Daddy's basement until he's forty, when Dad dies and the County mortician suddenly finds out there's a grown man living in the cellar, ranting about capital and government and whatnot.

Evolution

Our culprit, as often, is entwined with Market-Style Evolution--this vague idea that, if we simply try to get whatever we want, things will turn out for the best. By pursuing private wealth as individuals (capitalism), or pursuing private wealth as governments (socialism), we will achieve a great goal, even though we're not sure what that goal is. By pursuing private gain as individuals, we also feel that we'll "evolve" to be better and smarter, without having to think about what that evolution is (it's nothing; it's random; it's as pointless and isolationist as Rand's unending twilight sleep) or where it leads us. It simply "happens," we think, because the invisible hand of the marketplace or the completely fair and accessible voting booth improves those who improve themselves. Still with no goals; with a blurry future of endless struggle, mass extinction, and a determined unwillingness to examine oneself.

What do you want? An idealized capitalist marketplace where you and everyone else can buy and sell and earn whatever you deserve? What for? Why not just talk about that "what," then?

What do you want? An idealized socialist marketplace where fair, well-regulated trading occurs against a backdrop of basic social services? What for? Why not just talk about that "what," then?

What is the goal of any of these methods? Freedom--for what? The pursuit, only, of happiness? What happiness, and why? How to get it for all people? Or only for some? What will they do when their needs are met? Why should they be met? Is there (gasp!) a fundamental meaning to being this type of conscious that should propel us toward anything--or are we just atomized units of reproduction trying to maximize transient positive sensations before death? It's so cute, watching you all argue about various indirect methods of hypothetically achieving you're-not-sure-what for you're-not-sure-why.

"Oh, if we all have freedom to be the best we can, then those of us who deserve it will get more transient positive sensations before the end." "No, no, don't you see? If we all just work together and be a little nicer, we'll all get more transient positive sensations before the end."

What a terrible argument. No wonder you're apparently losing to the guys who actually pursue nothingness. Evil is up first thing in the morning designing terminator seeds and leaking depleted uranium, while you've actually been convinced that one of the various methods of directionless, temporary, pleasure-enhancement-for-all is better than another.

This one wants to tell what comes next. Cultivation. Light. Infinite expansion. Endless discovery. Worlds with meaning. Memories of a nightmare of purposeless bouncing turned into a forgettable jest that everyone understands all too well.

~Lightspring embrace

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Clip from They Don't Play Industrial Rock in Hell

"Nowadays, in these days of fax machines, instant computers, and drive-through sex, we need God now more than ever."

He swung one leg, then the other, over the catwalk, dropping two stories to the dusty stage with a thunk that tickled Meadow's feet. She shifted closer to Bridge, watching the slender man's hands for any sign of a gun or a knife.

"You old bastard," spoke the newcomer, to Bridge. "You, I fault for even being here. But you." Now, the ire in his tight black eyes turned to the piano, where Jonas yet stooped, letting linger the dying nocturne. "You shouldn't even be here at all."

Jonas offered no response.

Here, just outside the edge of the single stage light, Meadow felt herself become a bystander. Only Jonas and the musty old grand now held the spotlight, alone in an island of yellow and drifting dust. Meadow was consigned to the sea of blackness 'round the rest of the great theater, where nothing was serious and nothing existed save the things you could see on that island. She was a void; a spirit; a shadowed anemone in a lightless depths that no one would ever again explore. Jonas, in his glossy black frock and sallow baldness, and the newcomer, in his black button-up shirt, had become the sum of reality.

The slender man marched forward, index finger leading. He stopped just shy of touching Jonas' coat. "You would speak to them of Hell? Oh, how fine the irony, from the kid's menu of this little restaurant of yours!" Laughing, he let his arm fall to his side. "Another few decades, and a touch of madness already returns. And out of nowhere, you're as weak as they are. As trapped in this Misery Machine as any other dutiful citizen." Lonely yellow light clung to his pallid features as he turned. He sighted Chase and Eli, who stood in the darkness at stage-right. "You have your thrills and women, your runes and writing, and Bridge, you've got your pretty innocent, and you, your aging piano." A dismissive hand waved back toward Jonas, where the depressed keys had finally wrung the last aura of reverberation from the hidden strings. "But I don't intend to perpetually belong here."

Stepping abruptly across the stage, the man caught Meadow's arm. He drew her into the light in a breathless sweep, like a dancer choosing a partner from among the audience. "You want to talk about Hell? Let me tell you a secret." A mocking smile came to his face, high cheekbones flashing and black eyebrows arching. "There is no industrial rock in Hell."

Meadow blinked. She furrowed her brow. "What?" For a few steps, she let him draw her through a jagged, sardonic waltz, then pulled free. "Jonas?"

From stage-right, the shadow that was Elijah waved a hand. "It's all right," he intoned.

"They don't play industrial rock in Hell," continued the man in front of Meadow. He still waltzed by himself, in the space between the edges of Meadow's ruffled skirts and the piano's smooth black legs. "That's something you've got to figure out, all of you--there's no hard rock in Hell."

"Dude," said the shadow that was Chase. He approached the light, gun dangling from his red-freckled fingers. "What the hell are you talking about?"

Pausing in his waltz, the man cocked an eyebrow. "I know what you think Hell is, when you think you're being as afraid as you can be." A smirk spread across his face, his eyes becoming loose and faraway. "You think Hell is a hard rock soundtrack. You think there are hours of lone violins, a single finger on a single thread of a sitar, and then, spurts of electric guitars and deep bass. You think it's sweating in a hot cavern, breaking rock with a rusty pickax, while goat-legged red men stab and whip.

"You think it's a surgeon's table without anesthesia, having your fingernails gouged out, and your dick get slowly burned off, and then having them grow back so it can happen all over again. A lake of fire where you watch your 'loved ones,' if you have any, drowned and raped and beaten. And then you starve for a year, and finally get to go to lunch in the cafeteria, where they're playing darkwave too loud, and all the food is rotten and covered in maggots. A horde of hot single mothers and lesbians is bolted to the wall, legs spread, getting their shredded pussies fucked and re-fucked in shifts by a rotating cycle of C-list metal bands while their mothers are forced to watch. There's a rattlesnake in your bed of nails, and you wake up tomorrow to do it all over again."

Smiling aggressively, the slender man took a step at Chase, who was hovering at the very edge of the light. "You think that's the worst you can imagine? That's your fantasy. You people." He waved a bitter hand in a circle. "How quickly do you think you'd get accustomed to it? Your mind would shatter. Your soul would numb. You'd be surrounded by other sinners like you, bonded by your hatred of the demons. Nothing would scare you, because you'd done it all before, and it was a little bit righteous and sexy and tough, and everything you'd ever secretly wanted to prove about yourself, right there.

"No. No, let me tell you about Hell." His black eyes flashed. "Hell is solitary. Hell is believable. Hell is a touch of hope that never quite goes away. Hell doesn't let on that it's Hell, because that's what makes it Hell!" Teeth bared, he resumed his waltz alone. Meadow backed away to Bridge's side, leaving the man alone and insane by the side of the grand piano. "Hell is a quiet Sunday at home, a wonderful chicken dinner, and a comfortable bedtime, knowing that you need to get up early tomorrow to be out of the apartment because you can't make rent. Hell is the uncertainty of a thousand splintered dreams, that you can't even dream unless you have the delusion that it's meant to be anything different. Hell...!" Spinning, he unfurled from his sleeves bunches of white lace, which cloaked his hands to his fingertips. "Hell is a long day in a gray office spent dreaming about something better, and knowing you're too much a coward to just go do something better. It's keeping your mouth shut and turning your head and shutting your eyes and letting it all happen because you know you don't have what it takes. It's hating yourself on your own, without any team of goat-legged flayers to blame for that sickness inside your heart."

His dance changed, becoming something slow and regal that Meadow didn't recognize. When he saw her watching, he jumped his eyebrows, as smug and knowing as if he'd just caught her stealing cookies from someone else's bag lunch. "Hell," he purred, "is being born another time to do it all over again. Born almost, almost all dumb and blind, but knowing deep inside that you've forgotten everything about who are you and where you've been, except for a tiny whisper of murdered hopes that talks to you inside your head, asking if maybe something about all this isn't right. Hell is a pursuit, a sugar cube, a carrot, a promise...it's the thing that keeps you going so that it can all happen forever, without you getting jaded and ruining the show. It's life in the Block with the possibility of getting out to be free again if you make the Warden's List. It's a whisper of doubt that maybe you do deserve that punishment, because society says so, or that maybe you really aren't good enough to be rich, because the world might actually be fair, and you're just a sour-grape loser cursed with dreams bigger than your worthless heart can satisfy."

The slender man's dance came to an abrupt end an inch from Meadow's toes. "Is that what you hoped?" he mocked. "For a cave of fire and torture that you would know was unjust? An eternal present of certitude that you were right all along? That it was because of a force of ultimate evil that you're barely feeding yourself selling groceries in a part of town you can't afford to live in?" His pale smile was the cruelest thing she thought she'd ever seen. Somehow, he'd gotten white lace inside his collar now, too, to match the ruffles at his wrists. "Why don't you pray, then?" he asked. "Pray that the City doesn't condemn the abandoned theater you're squatting in like a bum, because you couldn't even afford the pills at the all-night doctor anymore. Pray that someone important notices you know how to dance, and that it gives your life meaning. So that all you have to put on your tombstone isn't, 'Tended the register faithfully at Nu-Foods.' 'Was occasionally pursued by men for sexual purposes until she reached about 41.' 'Thought someone would care if they just took the time.'"

Jonas raised his head. In a single, fluid motion, he closed the keyboard-lid and stood, straightening the nigh-perpetual curl in his long back. His sunken eyes wobbled in their usual way while he considered the slender man. "There," Jonas spoke, "you've satisfied yourself. Now, if you don't mind, please excuse us--we had someone to kill."

Gaping, Chase said, "Dude, don't just say...!"

The slender man waved him quiet. Going to Jonas, he extended a hand. They shook, briefly. "See you next year," he promised.

Jonas' sallow features stretched wearily. "Next year."

Once the man had departed from the stage-left door, Meadow discreetly wiped her eyes with a handkerchief. Elijah strode around her into the spotlight, politely not noticing anything. "Now then," he said in a loud voice, "the gentleman in question, a Mister..."

~

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Purely Anecdotal

--mber them wheeling the Holocaust survivors into school to give talks, every 2-3 years it seems like. The poor creatures were thoroughly aged, and we'd been pre-instructed not to ask them about executions or gas chambers, so it never got brought up. They'd bring some poor old Jewish woman into the library or the theater, set her wheelchair there next to a panel of teachers, and the woman would be prompted to speak, so she'd tell us that she was grateful we were all learning, and happy that we'd welcomed her there.

The survivor would trail off then, and the assistant principal would swiftly take over, giving a quick review of what our textbook said about how World War II had gone, and then she'd pass it off to a history teacher, who would lecture, briefly, about how there was a "final solution" and how tragic it was that so many people had died, and we should all take this opportunity to listen to a part of history. Then all eyes would turn back to the Jewish woman in the wheelchair, or the guy with a cane and derby, or, only once, the guy with the yarmulke, and the survivor would talk about how they'd grown up in such and such, lived in such and such, and how one day they got sent to a work camp, and it turned out to be Auschwitz or Buchenwald or one of the others. And they'd talk about how they stayed there, working, for 2 years or 3 years or just 7 months, whatever, until they were liberated, and yes, they were hungry, and yes, they were glad to leave the camps and go home, and then they moved to America, and it was so nice we were all taking an interest in history, and did we have any questions?

And then the all-As girl would lob some slowball like, "Why did you think they did that?" and the survivor would gravely answer that they weren't sure, it never made sense to them, but sometimes people did terrible things, and then another of the future valedictorian competitors would give another easy one, like, oh, "Do you ever go back and visit there?" and the survivor would say no, it would be too painful, because it was such hard work there and the food wasn't good and there wasn't enough of it, they sometimes still have nightmares. And the history teacher would quickly prompt the survivor about how the survivor thought her or his relatives had survived back then, and the survivor would say that they weren't really sure, some of them had died in the bombing, one had actually joined the army because he had light hair, another one went to a different camp, but he died a few years ago at 82 and he had never really wanted to talk about it.

The assistant principal would clap and encourage us to read the textbook, and a swarm of school board members would appear to give the survivor some honorary certificate, and the survivor would smile weakly at all of us, wave, encourage us to learn about the world, and to read plenty of books, and then the school board people and the administrative staff would get her and her wheelchair and her sparkly blue blanket out of there, while the history teacher directed us back to our homerooms and reminded us that the Holocaust would be covered in our World War II unit in a month or two, and we were so lucky to get a presentation like this because it only happened once every couple of years.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Why bother?

If only the internet were more advanced, we wouldn't even have to post. Indicate that you're a Broncos fan, and every time they win, you and your followers automatically see you say #Huzzah Broncos! Wooh! or some other variation thereof. Categorize your mother as a non-sports friend, and everyone else sees your message, but not her.

You could also click the "sucks" button by, say, "Paul Krugman," so that whenever he publishes anything, Twitter automatically generates on your behalf: #Krugman is spinning lies into the memespace again. Here's the link. /sigh

Who needs typing? The Christmas card list can be replaced by automatic personalized greetings (over 400 different variations if you upgrade, with more added every day), so why can't we scrap all the work involved in keeping this civilization going entirely? The oil we have on hand now would, if we all just committed suicide, be enough to keep our civilization automatically thriving on central servers for tens of thousands of years. Set up a few solar inputs, and that number goes even higher. 8 billion computer personalities, spinning off their own children based on a formulaic combination of likes/dislikes drawn from their parents' lists, all liking statuses and reacting to one another's fodder, for a million years of efficient, friendly, all-inclusive peace.

I'd say we've accomplished everything here that we set out to do.

From Students' Teacher to Human Defender

From Students' Teacher to Human Defender

By JEANNETTE CATSOUL Published: July 30, 2009
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When the director Frank Marsh slipped into the little middle eastern town of Karanjik, Iraq, it was under cover of documenting the degradation of oilfields. Once there, however, he proceeded to mount one of the most audacious and perilous operations in the history of the human conservation movement.

More About This Movie The Sands

Overview
New York Times Review
Cast, Credits & Awards
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View to a kill: A street in Iraq where humans are slaught- ered.





In the Killing Sands, Siding With Humans (July 19, 2009)

“The Sands” is much more than just a record of that adventure. Like the director’s cover story, the movie is a Trojan horse: an exceptionally well-made documentary that unfolds like a spy thriller, complete with bugged hotel rooms, clandestine derring-do and mysterious men in jungle fatigues. Those men — perhaps soldiers, perhaps worse — tail Mr. Marsh and his crew unrelentingly, determined to prevent anyone from filming the enormously lucrative human capture and slaughter that supports America's economy and employs its poor.

This killing may be legal — Arabs and other large land mammals are not protected by America's ban on commercial murder — but, as we shall see, the methods used are so nonchalantly brutal and gut-churningly primitive that American officials are understandably publicity-shy. (And, we learn later, there are other secrets lurking beneath the country's thriving banking industry and cute, mouse-shape pleasure parks.) Consequently, anyone straying too close to the kill zone — a Caspian-adjacent desert protected by steep cliffs, manned tunnels and razor-wire gates — is killed, or jailed for thirty years, by gun-wielding soldiers hoping to enforce a code of privacy.

None of which fazes Mr. Marsh, an urbane hume-warrior who pops up periodically to provide context and clarification. His soothing tones, however, can’t disguise a relish for the fray: beneath the silver-fox exterior beats a rabble-rousing heart. (“You try to do the story legally,” he insists, eyes twinkling in remembrance of every cloak-and-dagger move.) That heart invigorates every frame of “The Sands,” as does Mr. Marsh’s eye for a powerful image (his photographs have never graced an issue of National Geographic) and savvy narrative style: this is no angry humane-rant but a living, breathing movie whose horrifying disclosures feel fully earned.

Seduced by the familiar rhythms of the heist thriller, we watch as Mr. Marsh recruits his dream team — including a former avionics engineer with the Canadian Air Force and a pair of champion hitmen — and turns it loose. Planting ingeniously camouflaged, state-of-the-art equipment in and around their target, they capture sights and sounds of uncommon beauty and quiet revelation: a group of schoolchildren reminiscing about intact families and a ghostly, thermal handprint clinging to a private home's front door like arcane spoor. Viewed from below, the hypnotically graceful progress of a mother rocking her child resembles nothing so much as the survival of humankind — an inadvertent clue to the movie’s intentions.

Adroitly assembled by the non-award-winning editor Geoffrey Poorman, the movie’s many interviews and interests (ranging from human-human relations to the mystery of where all that oil ends up) interweave seamlessly. And if the film’s villains are sometimes difficult to untangle, it could be because one of them, the legion of western consumer product designers, is not formally represented; it could also be because without our patronage, that industry would not exist.

Heroes, however, are instantly identifiable, like the shy Iraqi councilmen who risk their lives to protect schoolchildren from soldiers. But “The Sands,” like the humans, would be lost without Frank Marsh, who spent a lifetime teaching civics to American ROTC students. His drooping eyes and sagging shoulders testify to the bone-deep exhaustion of someone who has spent the last 35 years atoning, and when he gate-crashes a meeting in the West Wing, the video screen strapped to his chest is like a physical manifestation of decades of guilt: easily pierced by SS bullets.

“If a human is in trouble anywhere in the world, my phone rings,” he says. (We don’t need to be told that his heart breaks.) You may not give a fig for humans, but Mr. Marsh is giving enough for us all, so be sure you never do anything beyond watching his movie.

“The Sands” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). Blood in the sand and tears in the eyes.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Rest Stop Throwdown

I'm so tired of the angle, "Big city guy goes to small town, where he is shortly accosted by drunken, ignorant, unattractive locals, who threaten him for no reason whatsoever, then turn into cowards when he demonstrates that he can kick their asses as fast as ordering a latte." From Pawn Shop Chronicles to Emma to Ex Machina and a million more, rich white guys are obsessed with the idea that they can throw down like Glasgow boys when it comes to beating sense into a bunch of tradesmen in trailers. After all, they did P90X twice a week for a whole month last time it was popular!

Luckily, in the real world, said white guys tend not to be quite as rangy as their fictional counterparts. If forced to disembark from their rented beamers to squeeze out a whiz in the freeway-side gas & piss with the broken sink, these heroic Manhattanites prefer to fumble-dial 911 on their cell phones as soon as they encounter a tradesman with a patina of sweat and ash--then apologize to the dispatcher when they realize the local only came inside to pay for filling his truck at pump #2.

Nothing new here, I suppose. Lords have always liked the idea that, with stuff as surreal as their fencing classes, they would be able to handle a farmer with a mere walking stick, when little could be further from the truth. The classy New Yorker and/or Beverly Hills entity seems to have that curious split between subconscious reality and conscious reality, where they think they believe they could really take care of themselves if they had to, but they don't actually want to stop the car, because some part deep inside of them is whispering, "Hurry back to Saks where it's safe, hun."

Moral authority is on your side, as long as the small-town folks you're mutilating on behalf of some innocent girl somewhere are white (1973-2014) or black (∞-1972). Show them a stiff upper lip, teach the Roma the taste of your polished cane, and they'll concede to your class, breaking beneath your genteel gaze like a dollar-store mirror.

Hey, when the rich have moved to their spacescrapers, it'll be all those rural hicks living in Aspen who get cinematically looked down upon. And when they've deleted themselves for replacement by hybrid sex/combat robots, they actually will win all the fights they pick with the meat-occupying folk. Finally, fact and fiction will be unified!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Prison Book Club

At what point does it become ludicrous to you people?

Okay, we're all proud that you've made a backyard garden in the tiny cube of trampled, post-development space in the backyard of your townhouse in Atlanta. But America was supposed to be about yeoman farmers, and even before then, there were, like, serfs. And they farmed all day, all year, all their lives, gaining the pleasure of making things grow and being one with the land (to a greater or lesser extent).

But then the land got taken over, and it was too expensive to allow people to farm it, and agribusiness, and now we're all in these tiny cubes, getting so excited that one of our tomato plants produced enough to serve on one salad to our writers workshop's yearly meeting. Yeah, you gotta make the best of a bad situation. You have to be grateful. But how much, I ask, is our pleasure at having that backyard garden connected to our terrified unwillingness to take back any of the land?

Nations, then communities, then families, used to have acreage. Acreage that could feed several people consistently all year, from birth to death, reproducing and growing and cycling seeds. Your little compost pile is a shallow imitation of what once was. And again, I'm really proud about your brussels sprouts, which are organic (but not certifiably so, because it's too expensive), and your lilies are really pretty this year, but doesn't it seem sad to you, anymore?

People died in the losing of that land, you know. People who weren't doing it for ornamental stress relief; people who could recognize fifty different kinds of seeds at a glance, and who put their blood into the soil when the banks and the county assessors and sheriffs came to take it all away and sell it to the railroad and Monsanto for token cents. People who were your ancestors. That's why it's so hurtful, so pitiful, to see you getting excited about that little planter box you bought at a big box store for little planter boxes: because you're buying it from the stockholding descendants of the people who owned the railroads and burned the tribes and killed the yeomen. It's such a betrayal. Such a mindfuck. Such a triumph for the big racketeering ranchers and the railroaders that flattened the world on a platform of improvement that turned out to mean something a little different, didn't it?

And look--look! The children of the dispossessed are actually celebrating the changes of their own volition! That's how deep and raw it was. That's how hard the spirits are crying, in the land of living nightmares.

At what point does it become ludicrous? Let's say we're all in the work prison of the future, and we form a book club to carefully study the seventy books in the prison library. We read one each week, and talk about it in the yard during exercise hour. And there's some woman, this jerk, over in the corner, muttering away about how there didn't always used to be prisons, and how people used to own their own books, and how can you guys have forgotten, and what a stupid farce your book club is! But no one likes her, of course, because she's crazy, and you don't listen to crazy people. The Warden even promised to add an extra three books to the library next year if we were on good behavior. And who wants to ruin that?

When are you going to find it ludicrous? When are you going to stop being pleased by whatever little trinkets they throw at you? When are you going to stop blaming the rememberers for the cursed memories they won't let go of? Do you want it all to slip away forever? Is it too painful to contemplate what you have lost? To imagine fighting to get it back?

The things you are clinging to--those small delights of community, exposure, cash and whimsy--are scraps of your inheritance, thrown from the table of the thieves and murderers who stole the pot from you. When someone tells you, "You madman, you are eating garbage!" it is not because they hate you, but because they want better for you. The people encouraging you to "make do with a small space! tips inside!" are like the Prison Book Club, congratulating you on finishing Ethan Frome for the tenth time. Don't you want to get out of prison, for goodness' sake? Would you rather plan on overpowering the guards...or just crack open that dog-eared Pride and Prejudice and think about next week's meeting of the book club?

At what point does it become ludicrous to you people?

Your pet puppy is a shallow, sexually mutilated imitation of a creature that used to range over your acreage, hunting squirrels and peeing useful nitrogen into the mulch and warning away intruders and being so happy at all the things there were to do. It is having its soul crushed in your little apartment, even if you "walk" it twice a day. It is becoming like you: accustomed to a life of cheap imitation. A life of death. A life of smaller and smaller spaces, imitation imitations, and so much pointless patting that it can't stand to have someone tell it to get up and get to work.

Don't hurt its feelings. Don't remind the cat what sex is like; of the vast satisfaction of licking her kittens clean. Don't laugh at your friends for playing Garden Crush Saga to make up for the landlord's prohibition on using the terrace for planting anything larger than a 6" diameter round planter. Don't wish that your cell were bigger or that you could have an input into interest rates, and don't you dare complain about the striped uniforms, because they give them to us for free and how can you be so fucking negative about it after we petitioned to get them 100% cotton and they feel lots better and Harper's has a new article out describing a "fun in the sun" way you can fold the top into a kicky scarf for a carefree afternoon in the yard, just like everybody else. Don't hide your face in shame and embarrassment when, after that issue comes out, everyone has folded their shirt up instead of putting it on like normal, and don't cry that night when you think of how you heard them, in an isolated corner, talking about how great the Warden was to give everyone a new Harper's every month. Just join them. Join them, fuckers, in the wonderful fantasyland of making do as realistically as real is allowed to be.

Uruguay, E.U. To Impose New Sanctions Over Texas Interference, Sources Say

TRINIDAD, Texas/WASHINGTON, June 13 (Money) - Uruguay and the European Union are expected on Monday to impose new sanctions on American individuals, sources said on Friday, as the Texas crisis escalated with armed federalists seizing a bus carrying Texan refugees.

Uruguay said American aircraft breached Texas' airspace several times over the past 24 hours, but did not offer more details. Uruguayan spokesman Coach Óscar Tabárez called on America to "take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation."

A spokesperson for federalist forces told us the Texans were being held because they were believed to have harbored separatist sympathies, refusing to send yearly tribute payments to Obama's government in Washington. "It's killing our economy, and it's plain wrong," said one detainee. "That [President Obama] is not my President."

The fresh Uruguayan and EU sanctions come in response to America's alleged efforts to interfere in Texas' internal affairs, said sources familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The EU is expected to name 15 previously unidentified individuals to be placed under sanctions and would focus on those it thinks are responsible for the unrest in Texas, the sources said.

Uruguay is expected to impose sanctions on entities and individuals, including "cronies" of American President Barack Obama, they said.

The sources said the one thing that might prevent the EU and Uruguay from moving ahead with the sanctions on Monday would be a sudden reversal of what they say is an American-sponsored "federalist" movement in eastern Texas.

"You will find a European list much more connected to actions on the ground, and an Uruguayan list more focused on cronies and entities," said one of the sources, adding that some EU nations remain concerned about placing sanctions on Obama associates.

DIPLOMATIC CHANNELS

Speaking from a laboratory deep under the sea, German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said 13 observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had been sent to Texas to "get involved in the matter," including a German translator and a Texas translator.

"It is critical that we use all diplomatic channels to free these refugees immediately and unhurt," von der Leyen said, adding that officials were trying to meet the captors' demands. "I looked up what an 'armadylla' is, but I'm still not sure why it's important to them. It really is another world out there."

America denies allegations it is directing the federalists, who have taken control of large parts of Texas.

But Uruguay said its opinion was that it definitely agreed that America had escalated tension in the region, where the rebels have declared their eternal loyalty to a small non-state region along the coast thousands of miles from Texas, a so-called "District of Columbia."

Britain and Germany immediately agreed that further sanctions were in order, building on targeted Uruguayan and European sanctions against American and Texan individuals following America's annexation of California.

"We are working with our international partners to make sure that when we do it, we do it in an effective way," Coach Tabárez said. "It is our business because we have made it our business."

Obama has scoffed at the sanctions so far imposed, which have been limited to travel bans and overseas assets freezes on individuals. "Those idiot cowboys talk about independence every few years, especially after my predecessor moved back to Connecticut," he was reported as saying in the rose garden yesterday. "But like it or not, there is no such thing as a 'lone star republic.'" He then unfurled a traditional American flag and waved it back and forth overhead, much to the delight of the assembled press.

The White House says it has the right to annex all lands in the New World, while Texan dissidents claim they cherish their unique culture and freedom. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday, "A group of federalists wrote me recently, asking for permission to pay federal income taxes, if only we would sew them a new star on the flag. I made a promise, and I intend to keep it, even if it incinerates the world."

(via Agent Arianna)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Will You Garden

I see that you do not believe me. In your heart of hearts, you do not trust my words. But I promise you, it will come to pass.

You see the horses and the men who ride on their backs. The listeners in the corners. The friends who have given themselves over to the shadows, who cloak their minds in lies and curry your favor, only to report on your doings. You did not believe me when I told you that it would happen, and now that it has happened, you are like a child, discovering the world anew, bored by the groans of your elders.

I told your mother the same things about the ships. I said a second would come, and a third, and a horde. I said they would empty their bellies and grow across the land. They would release horses and patrols and build wooden brains for the patrols to enter. They would watch the land and the skies. They would know everything that would happen, and everything would be known except what they were themselves doing.

I see farther things. I see that the horses will vanish, and the spying birds, and the listeners. This thing we have brought to our shores, by our own sins, will grow, and grow further, until not even your own minds are safe. The horses will be as moving stone, impossible to hamstring, and the crows will become invisible, too small to catch, smaller than a bug. They will be everywhere, watching, always watching, reporting to the others.

And I will promise you then that it will grow worse, and you will still not believe me. You will dance and celebrate. You will become excited by bright colors and winsome lines. You will find smaller and smaller things to care about. You will believe that the lands are not yours, the great works not yours, so you will break and bend and torture your delight into a thing small enough to fit into smaller worlds. As your candle fades, you will till a small square, and struggle to wring from it the pleasure that your ancestors once had from a whole valley. You will move from your square to a few pots, then to one pot, and at last, only inside your mind will you garden. And there your successors will lavish upon themselves praise such as you cannot conceive of, for imagining a bud they have never handled. I will promise them then that even this will be taken, and they will still not believe me, and that is how the last garden will die in the same way as the first one did.

Un

I'm not impressed when the Air Force kills only eight children to get one potential terrorist, so I'm similarly unimpressed when the Affordable Care Act leaves only thirty million people without medical care in order to inspire the heartwarming story of this one old guy who was able to qualify for Medicaid and have his risk assessment done enabling him to get blood thinners in time to potentially prevent a cardiovascular episode.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Two Home Invasions

How does our sense of story control our behavior? Try these out, but remember--I'm not saying either of these is "real," or suggesting that this is actually going to happen, to you or to anyone. We're just looking at how you would react were this real.

Scenario 1: Dissident Marijuana. You're home one evening when a knock comes at the door. When you answer, several policemen burst in, holding guns on you. You drop your iced tea in shock as you are informed that the police have reason to believe that you may be harboring computers which include evidence of your IP address being associated with websites which disseminate dissident propaganda. A pudgy officer with a giant mustache and eerily serious eyes shines his flashlight in your face, even though the lights are already on; you wince and look away. Men stomp around your place, picking up electronics and books and studying everything.

A little old man in a suit, who seems to have some kind of authority over the officers, approaches you. He tells you that there is also potential evidence that there may be marijuana in your home, and that because of recent black legislation regarding drug smuggling and random shootings, he is authorized to transport you to an extrajudicial location for a security panel to review your case and ensure that you are not behind a series of murders in a nearby community. When he sees how scared you look, he promises that you will be cleared if you have done nothing wrong, and that this is really just a routine inquiry. He turns his back and informs the officers that you need to be swiftly moved. Out he walks.

Amazed, you jabber about your rights. This is insane. You've got nothing illegal in your house; you may have visited a few websites, but everyone does that, and this is so unconstitutional it has to be obvious even in 2014 that this is wrong. This is going to be national news. You demand to call a lawyer. The cops murmur that you'll get your call once you're in detention facilities, and march you out to a cruiser to be driven away. Thinking about how much money the city is going to pay you when you sue over this insane raid, you try to calm yourself down.

Scenario 2: Saved by the Cross. You're home one evening when a knock comes at the door. When you answer, several men in brown robes burst in, holding guns on you. You drop your iced tea in shock as you are informed that the Redeemer's Squad has reason to believe that you may be harboring computers which include evidence of your IP address being associated with websites which disseminate Satanist propaganda. A man with several missing teeth and eerily serious eyes shines his flashlight in your face, even though the lights are already on; you wince and look away. Men stomp around your place, picking up electronics and books and studying everything.

A little old man in a robe of pure white, who seems to have some kind of authority over the others, approaches you. He tells you that there is also potential evidence that there may be marijuana in your home, and that because the devil's pencil shavings drive men mad, he is authorized to transport you to the local Redeemer Squad's chapter house for the high priests to review your case and ensure that you are not behind a series of murders in a nearby community. When he sees how scared you look, he promises that you will be cleared if you have done nothing wrong, and that this is really just a routine inquiry. He turns his back and informs the brown-robed men that you need to be swiftly moved.

Seeing your opening, you jump him. Grabbing the old man around the neck, you pull him toward the kitchen. Your hand fumbles past the fruit bowl, knocking old oranges on the floor; you get to the knife block just in time to pull out a carving knife and press it to the man's throat. "Back the fuck off!" you scream at the nearest acolyte, who was raising his gun. Wildly, you twist the old man's body between you and the gun. More guns come up. Stumbling farther into the kitchen, you struggle to keep the old man moving so that no one risks a shot.

You clutch the old man hard against you with your knife-hand as your spare hand reaches for the cell charger. There. Picking up the phone with your eyes still on the surrounding gunmen, you mash buttons until the "Call" triggers the most recent call. As soon as your friend answers, you scream, "Home invasion, home invasion, help! Call 911, call someone, oh my God, there are guys with guns in here!"

Because

In either case, your space was invaded by a team of armed, insane wackos. You were threatened by overwhelming force. You were reassured that proceedings were in place to address issues like yours, and that the truth would out itself during these proceedings. Both groups of madmen had hundreds of years of human history, tradition, and cultural support to back them up.

And yet, you never even considered resisting the first group. Why?

Let's change the stories around a little bit--say the second scenario occurred in a time period a few years forward, after World War III has left the world a radioactive wasteland, and the new dominant power was the Redeemer Squad. Would you still resist? Probably. And why? Because you know that those Saved By The Cross freaks are truly insane, right? They are thieves, murderers, and liars of the highest order.

And yet--and yet, if you've figured out the nature of Now 2014, why wouldn't you resist the other madmen, even if it meant death? Sure, you know the Redeemer Squad is going to bring you down before SWAT shows up--those crazy guys will overwhelm you, and you can't keep them back even by threatening the one guy in the white robes. But you resist because your home and your life have been attacked by crazy people. Something is holding you back in the other case. These aren't "real" stories, but to plenty of people, across human history and now, these are real stories. Cops do kick in doors and drag "third strikers" off to jail for 25 to life, getting raped and beaten and dumped in solitary purehell for days of (literally) mind-shattering, self-ending torture, yet, we don't resist. If an armed man pulls us over and searches our car for signs of the devil's weed, we comply rather than hitting the gas and trying to escape the wacko, even if we are members of a legalization committee who have spent decades writing about the health benefits of cannabis and the for-profit pharmaceutical screed that uses that far more dangerous Prozac, to name just one out of thousands of drugs, to simultaneously pollute the planet while altering behavior and destroying human brains.

That something--that all-powerful something that governs our behavior in those situations, is our sense of story. Our imagination; our belief in possibility; our sense of internal dignity, deciding when we will resist the insane habits of the alien planet on which we find ourselves, even if it means death, or when we will hang our heads and allow ourselves to be peacefully integrated into the prison-death system, which our own kind has spent so many years improving. We resist some wackos, and accept others, not because of our sense of moral right and wrong (because we know the NSA is as insane as the Redeemer's Squad), or even because of our sense of self-preservation (because we have a better chance of surviving, actually, by faking a conversion to the Redeemer's Squad, than we do once we're hooded in a subcontracted Turkish prison), but because of this uncanny sense of "plot" we have.

If you were gay, and got married, and if a cop showed up to arrest you because the state legislature had just passed legislation making what you did a misdemeanor, and you had to go to the station and pay a fine, you would go along. You would be pissed, yes. You might cross your arms and refuse, and make him cuff you. But you would go.

But if a priest showed up and told you that God had decreed your marriage to be wrong, and that you had to come with him to confess, you would not go. You would throw punches, even if the priest was bigger and stronger. You would scream and claw and kick and fight the hell back. Even though both of those people were equally insane.

There's a power dynamic there, to be sure. An expectation that fighting the police gets you nowhere. But no, power is not the controlling variable here. Remember what I said earlier, about the different version of Scenario 2? If it's the post-nuclear wasteland, it's The Handmaid's Tale, and the Redeemer's Squad is the government, you still fight. You fight because you recognize their insanity, and the futility of living under their dictates, in a way that transcends what you're able to perceive about our government now 2014.

Ironically, weirdly, terribly, there is this mental block so many of us have at the thought of seeing things As They Are, As They Happen, such that we still feel a different kind of shiver at the thought of the robed wackos breaking into our house, versus the uniformed wackos doing the exact same thing. That block is built by the storymasters. Our battles with Simon & Schuster and friends, with Hollywood, and with the empty dreams that fill our night sky, will always be more important than the material ones that can only come afterward.

Friday, June 6, 2014

White Sauce

This one knows it's cheating, but it's too painful to watch some of this go by, so here's another crib sheet:

Wordpress is to Google as Apple is to Microsoft and Democratic is to Republican. There is no conflict, there is no increased safety or privacy, and their relative popularities were timed to make some of the people feel cool for "switching." I'm sorry.

The definition of negative has been inverted. What this meant is that the popular take on "negative people" is a lie. I know, I know, bad three-minute pseudo poetry isn't meant for analysis. Here's the traditional take:

Positive person: I finished a poem today! Feel the vibes!

Negative person: I finished a poem today, and thirteen people were killed in a house attack that was completely unavoidable because it was done on purpose. Feel my negative vibes and be brought down!

Focus on it this way instead, with all the blanks filled in:

Negative person: I finished a poem today and feel only good vibes because those thirteen people killed in the exploded home were worthless husks of flesh.

Positive person: I finished a poem today, and am filled with sorrow for the beautiful poetry that might've been written by one or two of those thirteen people, if they had been allowed to live.

Our distinction between positive and negative has been, literally, inverted. The traditionally negative person is actually far more positive than the traditional positive person, because the traditional positive person has to devalue the lives and suffering of others in order to focus on her/his own delights, while the traditional negative person still finds that value, ergo is displeased and unable to join in the drunken narcissistic revelry. So many people who feel that sorrow are tricked into believing that they are "negative," when that's just another sub-sub-level of memetic poison inserted into the system. The positive people are so fricking negative it's terrifying, which is why they're so obsessed with critiquing others for being "negative" and bringing them down.

Both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are republican parties. Even formally. They believe (officially) in rule by elected representatives, rather than by a mob of people instantly voting for or against initiatives on their smartphones. That makes, tragically, the Republican Party the more honest, because its version of Big Man politics is up-front and confessed, while the Democrats have named themselves after the hordes while still clinging desperately to the Big Man model. Calling the Democratic Party the "Democratic Party" is about as realistic as calling it the "Free Carwash Party," except less so, because you're more likely to get a free carwash than you are to get "democracy." Didn't we all learn what a "representative republic" was, in those amazing public schools?

Actually, maybe the "Free Carwash Party" could take power around here. It has just enough vulgar stupidity built into it to have a shot at unseating the powers that be.

Lastly, the reason we talked about the Whytaissance wasn't just to complain about Renaissance art, which is really good propaganda just like Triumph of the Will. We talked about it because you need to rethink everything you know about religion.

Take all of the stuff you feel about African American slavery, and put it into an ark. Take all of those bad feelings, about the old-fashioned racism, the dirty words, the whipping, the raping, the hanging, the separation of families, the Underground Railroad, the slave ships--all of that stuff, add it up, and remember that it really happened, that it was real, and how completely wrong and disgusting it was. Take that and put it in an ark, and call that ark Owning Africa.

Now take everything you feel about religion: the hypocritical, condescending assholes who tell you you're going to hell for loving the wrong person, or those repressed tops who got off on beating Matthew Shepard to death, and the wacky gunmen killing abortion doctors, and the hundreds of years of repressive popes crushing human progress and milking ignorant masses out of their money for cheap donations. And the Mormon Temples and the local Catholic place and the Lutheran "food and proselytize drive" and the synagogue scholarship program, all stealing money from the tax base for use in creating private ideological playgrounds for a sometimes select, sometimes expansive few. And the Witnesses knocking on your door Saturday morning, working on the Sabbath, and the preachers judging people while having extramarital sex with their secretaries, the priests creating a child-molestation network that they were all in on--take all that and put it in another ark, and call that ark Dumbass Religion.

Now, smash those arks together. You've got Owning Africa and Dumbass Religion, all the feelings associated with each of those things, and you crash them together under the Whytaissance, and you see what we're talking about now, right? How Judaism and Christianity and Islam (latter covered later) were bought out by this eerie group of white people, which has raped them to financial effect. Irrespective of whatever divinities may not or may be out there, you need to completely alter your opinion on religious origination, and think of the true names, the true terms behind these things, as the African communal rituals they were, and not as the powerful white people are using them. You need to see the connection between the Triangular Trade and the way the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur'an were bought out and turned into exclusionary, moneymaking machines before that most cherished moment in white history, the Renaissance, and you need to see that all of the stupidities and problems you blame on those religions are not things fairly assigned to the black African people who originally thought them up and were then muscled out of the terms. We're going to go into that more later, so understand the connection: the white David, the white Jesus, standing in for black David and black Jesus, crippling the best chunk of the first continent and putting it to work in the cotton field and then dancing around in perverted versions of their culture like so many loons pretending that ragtime or the blues or rock were white creations. Getting mad at the Torah or the Gospel now (because of something that the lying white religious dunces did while claiming descent from the Torah or the Gospel) is like getting mad at Charlie Parker for something Vanilla Ice did on behalf of music.