Saturday, May 30, 2015

Does Jeb really need the money?

Did Jeb Bush really get paid by Apple to push the Apple Watch on the campaign trail? Highly unlikely; Apple wouldn't pay enough to move Jeb, nor would it want the bad press a Republican would generate among their target audience.

You could view Jeb as pushing a product, or, you could view him as making an apt statement about modern medicine.

...and it is an apt statement. The computer programs that most general practitioners use to diagnose people--in some cases, being accessed on their iPads, while in the room with a client, excuse me, patient--could easily be made available to the hordes of idiots without an M.D. on a subscription basis, and then a free basis (particularly if the crony capitalist government builds access fees into payroll taxes as a "medical benefit" for the citizenry).

And with that, the commoners would be 70-80% as good as the symptom-detailing doctors who doctor to them. can already do a fair job, even though the thing it's best at is causing educated people to snort in disgust and roll their eyes when they find out that some low-functioning moron actually tried to diagnose himself instead of making a $300 appointment to sit in a room for eight minutes with an austere person in a white coat who has slightly-less-modern information than the website did.

Triage nurses, with far less education than physicians, can usually diagnose patients pretty accurately. Ordinary citizens, with a one-semester course in basic diagnostics, and a professional-grade program on a "smart" watch, could easily attain an accuracy rate equivalent to, or greater than, the accuracy rate found at America's growing minimall "urgent care" offices. This would occur not necessarily because these sans culottes are smarter than the insurance company employees who are granted the rent-seeking mantle of the physician, but because the proles' inability to communicate full and accurate symptoms to doctors--whether because of a lack of time, verbal skills, or the presence of emotional insecurities that makes full disclosure embarrassing--would be offset by the fact that they were privately diagnosing themselves.

The only reason (most) physicians still exist as western professionals is in order to (1) artificially inflate the prices of licensed pharmaceuticals and (2) of time spent in licensed imaging machines, and to (3) add human-faced plausible deniability to the provisioning of unwanted but mandatory services "for your own good."

Jeb Bush is smart enough to know that, even if he was getting paid by Apple. Like Joe Biden and many Republicans, will his curse be occasionally being honest with people about how empty this place really is? God knows we can't handle that. The most likely explanation is that he is, like James Cameron and Chris Nolan, just another wealthy, powerful moron who nonetheless spends time gobbling GMO bread in the streets along with the rest of the masses. Omigod who is Romulus racing today??!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Silverstein Among the Qing?

"Now that Your Honour's come to this post," said the attendant, "surely you've copied out the Officials' Protective Charm for this province?"

"Officials' Protective Charm? What do you mean?"

"Don't tell me you've never heard of it? In that case you won't keep your job long. All local officials nowadays keep a secret list of the most powerful, wealthy and high-ranking families in their province. Each province has such a list. Because if unknowingly you offend one of these families, you may lose not only your post, but your life as well. That's why it's called a Protective Charm. This Hsueh family [a member of whom had recently beaten someone to death] mentioned just now is one Your Honour can't afford to offend. There's nothing difficult about this case, but out of deference to them it was never settled by your predecessor."


"These four families are all closely connected," said the attendant. "Injure one and you injure them all, honour one and you honour them all. They help each other and cover up for each other. This Hsueh charged with murder is one of the Hsuehs on that list. Not only can he count on the support of those three other families, he has plenty of influential friends and relatives both in the capital and in the provinces. So whom is Your Honour going to arrest?"

~Cao Xueqin, A Dream of Red Mansions, c. 1785.

People are consistently people. A century and a half after Hearst was born; a century after the Maine, half a century after the magic bullet and MKUltra, and several years after the official acknowledgement that modern art was an inside job, so many of us are still formally convinced that no one knew Building 7 was going to fall, or that 50 Shades of Grey is popular because it appealed to enough dummies that it won out in the free market.

How boring it will all be, a couple centuries later, when Nineleven is just another old Maine-explosion- or Reichstag-fire-style reference in the section on early megacorporate history in some kid's high school class. All the luster will have worn off. Everyone who cared-cared will be dead and recycled, and everyone who's there will be considered a boring teacher's pet, rather than a controversial wacko, for the act of calling Silverstein a corrupt murderer. It used to be a radical idea that the Qing Dynasty was corrupt; now, it's boring. You can go to Times Square and strip naked and hold up a sign filled with accusations of corruption in the Imperial Court, and even though you'll be arrested for indecent exposure, almost everyone will still publicly agree with you that the Qing were corrupt. They'll nod along and take it for granted when you show how the peasants were exploited, the rulers were secretly abject perverts, and the priest-equivalents and lord-equivalents were working together to distract everyone.

We're so very smart in so many ways, but we passionately succeed in convincing ourselves that we are magical gods, completely and totally different from every other civilization that has come before us. Our Constantine would never kill Vincent Foster, and if our Caesar grew too power-hungry, he'd be sure to do so publicly and openly, and never claim he was doing it for our benefit or employ people to lie convincingly on his behalf. All of our plagues and famines are mere acts of God, while all of our social crusades will never be viewed as wrong by later, more knowledgeable peoples. Mark Twain warned us about human majorities, but we don't care about him even though we simultaneously, gymnastically, believe that he's "great" (in that intangible, actually-bored-but-too-embarrassed-to-say way that we like to call thinking of someone as "great").

Consider more fully the implications of the "modern art" conspiracy alone. For decades--and even still--private citizens have been snobbily liking modern art that was designed by the CIA and paid for stealthily by tax theft. People have built entire careers upon modern art--housing it; trading it; teaching it; contributing to it. And the whole time, they actually believed the CIA's talking points memos about said art's supposedly esoteric, imaginative qualities.

The CIA didn't pay everyone, so everyone who didn't get paid did all of that appreciating, teaching, analyzing, et cetera, believing that they were responding to a "natural human environment" in the sense of a "fair and free marketplace of ideas." They did so blissfully unaware that they were writing dissertations which defended smeared blobs of color (or building $15 museums to hold a few dozen of the same) as meaningful pieces of art. But for the CIA, they would have never had those thoughts. Like all of the 50 Shades readers out there, those decades' worth of art professors would have, if they'd lived in an alternate universe wherein modern art had not been used as a Cold War weapon, they would have been disgusted, horrified, shocked, and so forth, to discover their alternate selves lecturing a group of dubious undergrads on how any given Rothko work conveyed meaning. Similarly, remove all the historical context and mass media support for 50 Shades of Grey from this universe, then put the average reader in a library with three random books side by side, one of which is 50 Shades. What are the chances that, without massive media pushing, that person would respond similarly to the way they did when presented the text in conjunction with the massive social buildup?

(Historical side note: you can wiki Mark Rothko to learn that he was born to Jewish parents who left Russia with impeccable timing, immediately prior to World War I. Once in America, Rothko went to Yale, and just so happened to be lucky enough that the CIA took a great interest in what was to become known as his artwork.)

And you have to give the CIA that. Their program itself was a work of art--but I use that as a metaphor, which most art historians are not able to understand. A metaphor is a comparison between two unlike things; putting up rainbows can be compared to art, but it is not itself art. Anyway, back to the CIA. What a great accomplishment. And this thing they've done since, tapping another British agent to front this sensationalized Harry Potter thing that progressively led an entire generation of humanity into Twilight, Hunger Games, 50 Shades, et cetera.

What things that you like are the same sort of stuff? Not just "propaganda," because the majority of things are that to some degree. But what things that you really, really like? What things that you think are original and/or sacrosanct, are in fact just more of Nero's bread? For fun, I'm always available to tell you on a case-by-case basis, but it's more important that you think about it yourself.

Terra's latest big product arc--Harry Potter to Twilight to 50 Shades--isn't anything new. Like all of the "nothing new under the sun" crap created by the un-imaginative Powers That Be (TWMNBN), it's mechanistic genetic mutation, not creation. Harry Potter built on the long tradition of those who rape-vaded Britain and then claimed to be British; Potter traces his lineage through Shakespeare's empty calories, Milton's pro-Lucifer Paradise Lost, Constantine's Imperial Bible, and Jenome's genocidal Torah.

Cao Xueqin may have honestly described the corruption of his age, but why was he permitted to do so at that particular point, after so many executions of like-minded individuals prior? Surely his claim that he was writing about the pretty girls he'd known would've been seen to be a lie to the feudal censors. Easy answer: he was allowed to mark the changing of the times because the feudal government was going to change its methodology anyway, so it was okay to permit some sense of overcoming wrongs. See, e.g., Portlandia, where the exact same people who built up the politically-correct idea are now tearing it down. Yes, Portlandia's great, but they knew all that stuff in 1980, so why did they wait thirty years to admit they knew that?

Given the combination of rioting in Baltimore and the renewal of Portlandia, are they trying to fuel a backlash to their backlash to their backlash to their backlash? Everyone could use another race war for justice, after all.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Honest Governance - If You Love Me

For the longest time, I lamented the absence of 1920s-1950s style advertising. You know the kind--the "forthright bastard" advertising model, where people made no bones about what they were trying to do. The gray-tone housewife stares into the screen, makes no pretension of a fourth wall, and tells you in a loud, clear voice, "This product is the best product ever invented in the history of mankind, and it will solve every one of your problems." Stuff like, "Only the ugliest woman on the street would be without a 1956 Hoover Model C," or, "Your life will fail if you don't drive a Chevrolet." Step right up before Step Right Up.

Ahhh, what a relief. Those were the greatest of ads. Honest governance by honest tyrants. No product placement; no charming vignettes; no university-funded "studies" claiming to prove something: just forthright statements of supremacy. If you're going to have another Reich, it might as well be a Reich that openly acknowledges its commitment to an arbitrary volk, rather than pretending it stands for higher principles or efficiency studies.

Naturally, then, I was charmed to see potential signals of a cultural shift in the form of this wonderful ad from a jeweler. This is my scan from an actual page torn out of an actual magazine, so it doesn't look as glossy and perfumed as once it was, but maybe it signals a return to honesty:

What a breath of fresh air...unabashed bastardry could be making a comeback. "If he loves you, he'll buy from us." How much more crass and disgusting could you get? It's a thing of beauty; it's like stepping into a time machine and finding out I've finally bypassed the era of false benevolence. Sweet Axom, but it's a relief. I was getting tired of the whole "your friend" charade.

Maybe this trend will continue. Maybe there will be no more elections, and instead, the beige supercomputer casing that contains Henry Kissinger's 1974 persona will just be rolled out onto a star-spangled stage, and inform us via cathode ray tube that we'll all be moved to FEMA labor camps to increase the acceleration rate of the gross domestic product. No more Game of Thrones or NFL, no more choosing from between thirty kinds of peanut butter...instead, in-between our work shifts, we'll just be bolted into metal chairs, eyelids stapled open, forced to watch clips of Hillary Clinton, wearing a short mustache and riding pants, marching around the Washington Mall like a cross between Adolf Hitler and Bobby Fischer, playing four simultaneous games of human chess to determine where to order her next nuclear strike.

All products will be made by Microsanto, my dog will be better than your dog, and finally, finally, we will be able to maximize efficiency by networking all our memories into the cloud, so that we'll never know when a troubling historical revision has taken place. Anyone who thinks an errant thought will receive a warning jolt from Columbia Central Command, the telescreen will teach all children how mustachioed Aunt Hillary dug the Panama Canal singlehandedly in 1913, and there'll be an end to this awful farce where the roving child molester pretends to be a kindly ice cream salesman.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Shot in the Back ~ There is no Uniform

So we know by now that, according to extra-updated autopsy reports, Michael Brown wasn't shot in the back, even though we knew before according to initially-updated autopsy reports that he was, which works out perfectly. Now everyone has something to believe to get mad about, all based on the same trustworthy liars who are either trustworthy or liars, depending on when you hear from them and what you are inclined to believe at the time you hear from them. The Baltimore riots makes it perfect, given that in that particular occasion--depending on whether or not you believe the people who report WMDs, shots in the back, climate change, no shots in the back, and peace talks begun in earnest--it was an actual asshole who got theoretically killed by the presumed negligence of mostly black police officers, which would appear to change the story at this particular point in time unless the story later changes.

This gives everyone a horse in the race, or some skin in the game, just like Obama promised. All the people who heard that Michael Brown was shot in the back can disregard that he wasn't, and all the people who heard that Michael Brown was shot in the front can disregard that he was shot in the back, and given how everything we think we know comes through the looking glass, we can all feel justified at any given point in time. Rioters don't get that they've been manipulated into making a stand over the worst possible example cases, while critical racists are too willfully blind to acknowledge that any given riot is about accumulated hell, rather than the few incidents the media releases.

Just recently, some of the good ole boys in Georgia got away with paying minuscule damages to one of the many, many babies they've burned nearly to death during one of their cowardly pre-emptive strikes--here's the link from Terra 2014 about the original raid, where the sheriffs bravely grenaded a house in the middle of the night for fear that, when they charged inside in full body armor, there might be one guy with one pistol shooting back (they're nearly as brave as Navy SEALs in that regard).

Cops maiming toddlers with flash-bangs is sort of the domestic version of the tribal wedding. Put a toddler in a crib, and there's instantly an increased percentage chance that some yahoo who was too afraid to go to Iraq will lob in a grenade, just like trying to celebrate a marriage in Pakistan brings a huge jump in the chance of a drone. What is it about babies and weddings that attracts Americans with bombs? Or is that a rhetorical question?

The crow of it all, though, is, is it really true? If Michael Brown was shot in the back, but then he wasn't, did the sheriffs really blow up another baby in order to solve a victimless crime? (And, baby of innocent parents, no less--as we all know, it's just fine for cops to throw grenades at babies if their parents had been using meth. Those ones don't even make the news.)

But is it all merely a crowesque fantasy? Do they just keep coming up with baby-grenade stories in order to achieve some unfathomably vulgar result under whatever they're secretly calling COINTELPRO these days?

Friday, May 22, 2015

By the Company It Keeps

Anyone who doubts that confronting climate change is a national security issue should have sat in the meetings I just had in Asia, where it was a primary topic of discussion with every one of my interlocutors, alongside other security issues like [North Korea] and violent extremism...And that’s true around the world. So now it's time to put aside discredited scientific arguments and partisan politics and to focus on the facts — not just for our health and the health of our children but for our planet's security as well.
-John Kerry, May 20, 2015.

Directions: Clean and trim one Idea. Mix well with American Government, then baste heavily in corporate marketing support for at least ten years. Sprinkle generously with American Secretaries of State, Yale University, and references to national security. Lightly season with recurrent news media attention, streamlined grant approval processes, coordinated Hollywood cinematic focus, and exorbitantly expensive international symposia. Add chopped military contracts at a 1:3 ratio. Bake in a conventional wisdom for 58 minutes or until urgent. Top off with a large scoop of John Kerry and serve.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Reconciling Good People with the Present: Anti-Homosexuality, Capital, and Trivia

The somewhat infamous Rev. Carl Martin, past president of the North American Evangelical College, was quoted a few years back as saying:
We've made a lot of progress, but not enough. Our program has not toppled all immorality. The evil which one blames on arbitrary forces exists in committed homosexual relationships, where it causes crises, analogous to those of revolutions.
Various LGBTQABCDEFG groups criticized Martin heavily for saying that, of course. The Reverend's supporters pointed out, though, that most of the quote was not actually Martin's original work, but merely Martin quoting someone else. In this case, Martin had been quoting an earlier fundamentalist minister, Garry Puget, who had written some years before, "Our program has not toppled all immorality. The evil which one blames on arbitrary forces exists in committed homosexual relationships, where it causes crises, analogous to those of revolutions."

The LGBTQABCDEFG community said that Martin had been quoting the comment approvingly, therefore he was affirming such viewpoints on how evil committed homosexual relationships were. Unfortunately, Martin's subsequent death left him unable to clarify his comments. To make things more interesting, it turned out that two of Martin's three sons were gay, and that he approved of their life partners and even attended their weddings.

What the hell should we make of all that? Is Martin against committed homosexual relationships, or not? Should Martin's other work on feeding Nicaraguan orphans be considered "tainted" in light of his apparently discriminatory viewpoints toward committed homosexual relationships? And, was Martin a hypocrite for encouraging his two sons to marry men of their respective choosing, while blasting the institution of committed homosexual relationships in his professional capacity?

More importantly of all, why the hell should we care about such worthless trivia? Just because Martin is now dead, does it mean that us obsessing over him is somehow different than us obsessing over sports stars, Hollywood celebrities, or British royalty? If the discussion of committed homosexual relationships, or of Nicaraguan economics, should come to light, should we spend a lot of time identifying ourselves as Martinists, and discussing the finer points of Martin's viewpoints, rather than focusing instead on what we ourselves believe, and what we ourselves have observed, and what we ourselves feel should be done?

Pit Trap

Luckily for all of us, the Rev. Martin doesn't exist. Here's the real quote, and bonus irredeemable credits go to you as a prize if you're so well-read you recognized what I was doing at the beginning:
The revolution did not topple all tyrannies. The evil which one blames on arbitrary forces exists in families, where it causes crises, analogous to those of revolutions.
Karl Marx, positively quoting "Peuchet on Suicide," 1846.
If you consider yourself a Marxist, you should stop concluding that it is stupidity or ignorance alone that cause a lot of the proles to hate Marx. When you look at the Rev. Carl Martin's quote from above, consider it in the context of being homosexual, having a committed long-term relationship, and hearing that Martin said that, and that he is very popular and very influential. Can you see any correlation between his having that attitude, and you perceiving any hostility toward your relationship? Of course you can. Even if it doesn't bother you, what the Rev. Martin said implies a lot of negative stuff about committed homosexual relationships: it implies that they are destabilizing to society, and that they should be in some way discouraged because they cause crises.

Accordingly, it's equally fair for heterosexuals to have a big problem with Marx. In the lingo of 2015 Earth, Marx was engaging in heterophobic hate-speech (yes, I know 2015 Earth doesn't recognize such a phrasing, but you get the point). Given Marx' positive intellectual relationship with Engels, who wrote much more fervently against the family, and given the violently anti-familial tendencies of Marx' and Engels' so-called followers, it's quite rational for people to feel that Marx was/is an anti-heterosexual crusader, and that his ideas are as poisonous to themselves and their communities as it would be if the fictional Rev. Carl Martin were to start producing social morality handouts for Portland's publicly-schooled first-graders.

Reconciling Marx and Marriage

Like Carl Martin, Karl Marx did everything he supposedly wrote against: he married young, stayed married his whole life, had three daughters, and supported two of their marriages (he reputedly encouraged the third to similarly marry, but she didn't wanna). Here's a 2010 Earth article on The Abolition of the Family, in which they quote another piece of Marx/Engels:
Abolition of the family! ... The bourgeois family will disappear, in the course [of history] as its supplement [private property] disappears, and both will vanish with the destruction of capital.
That one can go either way. Were Marx/Engels saying only that bourgeois families should/would disappear, or did they really mean all families? Were they specifically criticizing the relationship of status-striving upwardly-mobile convenience marriages (possibly, because they did spend a lot of time talking about specifics there), or was this just one of their many strikes against marriage-in-general, particularly expressed?

Most importantly, who the hell cares? We shouldn't need to refer to either Karl Marx or the Carl Martin in talking about what should be done. For right now, thought, what we want to do is:

1) Get people who like Marx to realize that there is a very rational, fruitlessly-insolvable, endlessly-debatable, and yet potentially genuine position to be taken, by heterosexual people who want committed relationships, that Marx was hating on their lifestyle choices;

2) Get people who don't like Marx for the above reason to realize that, like the Rev. Martin's work teaching basic English and dental hygiene to rural Nicaraguan villagers, Marx still had a handful of decent points to make, and that, despite his other bad attitudes, any other points he might've supported are not wrong just because he also was/may-have-been a heterophobic asshole;

3) Get people to stop caring about Marx other than as trivia, equivalent to a Jeopardy question from ten years ago--and just as relevant to a discussion of desirous social policy for Earth 2016.

We took care of (1) above. Seriously, Marx and Engels said a lot of things about families that, if they had been said about homosexual couples in 2015, would've been considered hate speech. If enough money had been involved, there could've been Supreme Court cases, anxious New Yorker articles, a whole shitstorm of worthless articles on, et cetera. And if you were in any way pro-LGBTQABCDEFG, you would've been happy to pull out those quotes and hold them up as examples of how bitter and bigoted some homophobic people were. It's possible that, after a long, long argument with one of the Rev. Carl Martin's supporters, you could've been convinced that Martin had only been condemning certain kinds of committed homosexual relationships, but you'd still feel that the Rev. was on the wrong side.

We'll look at (2) below.

Reconciling Marx and Money

Marx occupies a hallowed position for many people, akin to if not greater than Jesus for many Christians, in terms of how some self-identified Marxists conceptualize every aspect of their lives through a Marxian lens. Also like Jesus, Marx can produce endless scriptural arguments, which should be irrelevant but which give various levels of the faithful something to do with their spare time other than think about what is right and wrong, good and ill.

Accordingly, we'll approach this in a basic way: Marx described a lot of bad stuff about capitalism. And a lot of it was correct--a lot of it was really spot-on analysis about how rich people, even if they got rich fairly to begin with, were able to buy governments, make those governments do their bidding, and create an unfair market ruled by capital flows, in which the people who actually worked to provide useful goods and services were left desperate and needy, while a small class of non-producing capitalists owned everything, shielded by a small managerial class of greedy, status-striving bourgeois (yuppies and aging yuppies). That's essentially the entire first world today, and although Marx wasn't the first to say it (and although he was borrowing it, triple-ironically, from Jesus), it was still correct.

People who might be against homosexuality (or who are pro-family or whatever), but who have perceived the eerie ways that crony capitalism is synonymous with socialism, would do well to notice this aspect of Marx' work. The critiques that Marx used on capitalism are directly applicable to the managerial classes in twentieth century Russia, China, the United States, and the United Kingdom--to name just a few. There is great utility in that stuff.

At this point we need to note that, like his criticisms of the bourgeois family while living in one himself, Marx was an embodied hypocrite. He was a rich guy who, up until he decided to be a revolutionary, lived off inherited income and did the perpetual-student thing. The City of London eventually gave him sanctuary from other European governments (who had viewed him as part of a wealthy movement trying to instigate a massive depopulation scheme to centralize authority under some kind of united trade union of Europe), and London's establishment corporate, financial, and media sources report that Marx lived in poverty thereafter, while also being a widely respected and circulated news correspondent.

...but even so, many of Marx' criticisms of capitalism were accurate. One might say he had a very keen understanding of how powerful financial interests were able to control nations and manipulate the masses.

Reconciling Good People with Good People

There are plenty of people who say they like Marx who do so because they're trying to springboard themselves into a managerial role whereby they'll become responsible for accumulating and distributing the work-product of others; there are plenty of people who say they're Marxists because they want to deconstruct individual identities in favor of a totalitarian state (although they wouldn't of course call it that).

But there are also plenty of people who say they like Marx simply because they don't like crony capitalism, and/or because they have anti-bigotry notions that they feel can be better effected by a totalitarian state, which they believe can be done nicely. The latter viewpoint is certainly erroneous and somewhat dangerous, but the former viewpoint--a disliking of crony capitalism--is probably the dominant force causing ordinary people (not corporate media commentators like Marx) to be drawn to Marxism.

This one can have a separate debate with self-identified Marxists about whether or not Marx was really an agent of London financial interests trying to break up the continental European empires in order to hold a Great War to establish NATO and petrodollar controls over the world, and that the accurate portions of his criticisms of capitalism were about as substantively relevant as the fact that Goldman Sachs wants to hire women of color to their management positions. E.g., it's fine to criticize capitalism in specific, accurate ways, so long as the Archduke dies and the Great War is fought to stabilize modern colonialism.

Under such a viewpoint, Marx and Engels were little different than the American deep state operatives who sponsored ISIS to overthrow Assad. Yes, a lot of the criticisms that ISIS has about the United States are correct. The U.S. is militaristic, and it's destroying Muslim children, and it's invading Muslim lands, and it's stealing Muslim natural resources. Buuuuut, just because ISIS says those things, which are themselves correct, does not mean that ISIS is correct. ISIS is bad, very bad! Its platform as a whole is a tangled mess of Africom-sponsored bullshit, that, even when it condones a drone stroke that deserves to be condoned, cannot redeem itself. And the mealy-mouthed wormtongue James-Bondish bastards who work through Africom to inspire young, poor Muslim men to chop off heads to destabilize the Middle East in favor of Anglo-American financial interests are bad, too. Even though some of the critiques of Anglo-American militarism that they offer are correct.


And I'd love to have such an argument to pass the time. But for (1) people who aren't great adherents of Marx, but generally like the idea of anti-capitalism, and who are suspicious or dismissive of people who are against Marx, and (2) people who loathe people who like Marx, because they think that such people are advocates for everything Marx said or resulted in, put aside those labels and come together. You probably all agree that crony capitalism is bad, and totalitarian socialism is bad, which is why the buzzword "Marx" is so popularly used to drive you apart.

Most importantly of all--as it has been throughout--is that the Marx fetish should cease being a divider or identifier. People who say they like Marx argue more about the meaning of Marx than people who hate Marx (or who are only dimly aware of Marx as a name they once heard somewhere, maybe, like, in class, yo...?). Marx is fine trivia, but he's become a massive time-suck for over a hundred years of human beings, who seem to be forced to pore through, and lengthily address, the colossal and ever-expanding Marx-related historiography in order to be allowed to contemplate basic issues. Liking Marx' (theoretical) viewpoints on capital is all very well and good, but his supposed predictive and/or analytical power should be no more relevant to a discussion of today's economy than should be any of Nostradamus' predictions which could be read as applying to today's economy.

That's the thing that we as 2015 human beings should be focusing on when we approach any of these issues: the People-magazine-level triviality of the viewpoints of some guy who died centuries ago, as we discuss how things should be done in future centuries.

Marx-people, stop mentioning his prophecies to people who don't already like him. It's not a sign of intellect; rather, it's a cultural identifier akin to a Green Bay Packers bumper sticker. Anti-Marx people, try to tolerate the bumper stickers of poorly-trained Marx people, because there's a fair chance that they just don't like political corruption, enjoy inane scriptural arguments at a level exceeding a hardcore Star Trek fan, and nothing more.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

We're Not All Zombies & We've Always All Been Zombies

In We're All Zombies, Robert Bonomo writes about (1) how zombies are popular, and (2) how they're popular because we're mindless consumers who can't support ourselves. Bonomo offers a rather traditional article, in the sense that he discusses how previous generations of humans wrongly thought that sky was falling, but how they were self-sufficient, lived off the land, understood their technology, and were therefore filled with purpose, while modern humans have recently lost purpose while simultaneously discovering that the sky is actually falling this time for reals yo.

Lots of fun things suggest themselves. Firstly, the recursive marveling at "the zombie phenomenon," which is one of those quixotically undiscovered aspects of postmodern omnipresence, wherein everything is both new and and old. In The Ancient Battle Against the Undead, we discussed how conceptions of stories about undeath were not fantasies based upon our repressed psychological fears, but rather, culturally encoded warnings meant to prohibit very real, tangible, objectively falsifiable behavior patterns, such as the correlation between sickness, warfare, and life extension techniques. In Classic Necro Pr0n, we covered the thousands-of-years-old history of zombie stories, which extend deeper into the Terran past than printing or writing.

Bonomo hits all of the popular prepper memes, right down to discussing preppers themselves. One of his telling blindnesses--and thank you again, dear Michael--is the "willing consumerism" parable he foists on the great unwashes masses of the proletariat (in which he graciously includes himself):
Our craving for money is really the craving for the work of others, for the sweat and blood of millions to furnish us with unlimited amounts of food and consumer goods.
Here again I'll cite Dr. Dawson's article on the linguistics of the term "consumer," to remind us that, emphasis mine:
But do we roll our cars off cliffs to see them explode? Do we scramble to pour our just-bought beverages out in the grocer’s parking lot? Do we rush home to smash our appliances with sledgehammers, then burn the sledgehammers in our fireplaces, then allow fire to burn down our houses, all to maximize our destruction — our consumption — of goods?

Of course we don’t. We gas and fix our cars, cap and refrigerate our un-drunk beverages, and care for our homes and appliances until upgrade becomes possible or further repair becomes irrational or impossible. In general, we work hard to maintain the products we acquire and use. Whenever possible, we strive to counteract product wear and tear, which is ordinarily an unintended, costly, and regretted consequence of our product usage, not its goal. Usefulness, pleasure, longevity, and cost minimization are our normal goals as product users. Consumption, the final using up of a product, is almost never our intention.
The pre-Nazi German parenting trope of children as "useless eaters" or "shitting eaters" comes to mind here, too--that's how the creditor-priests see "us," in the sense of us being consumers, rather than they (producers, a.k.a. those who oversee our production for ourselves on their behalf). Bonomo's dutiful assignation of "desire to consume" to the world's laboring billions--who want very much to not use up the things they want/need--is indicative of analytical failure. Sure, when I'm forced to suffer through the odd episode of The Walking Dead, I, too, want nothing so much as for the zombies to eat up the terrible morons who pass for main "characters," and let the show come to an end. And yet, one supposes that the majority of its viewers are more interested in the character dynamics of the humans who try to survive the deadly onslaught.

The creators of the original Walking Dead comic, and the editors of the current television show, are not ones sufficiently strong to address the issue well; they discovered the idea of zombie apocalypse, and wrote about it, but they didn't really understand it, which is why it is taking them years and millions in order to begin to contemplate possibly someday forming a committee to potentially address the question of whether or not to fund a taskforce that might be charged with the possibility of analyzing the feasibility of proposing brainstorming sessions to discuss a multitude of topics, one of which could conceivably be how the zombie plague originated. These excited people simply picked up an idea and created part of a story without understanding the whole; it's possible they'll come up with a tokenly anti-Monsanto spinoff explaining something they never understood from the beginning, but highly unlikely that they'll take the time to learn what actually makes undead and how to necessarily craft such a world.

No, we're not all zombies. Zombie myths, and zombie apocalypses, aren't a modern obsession; bad movies and television shows about them, though, are--but that's only because of cathode ray tubes and the like, combined with western illiteracy, Orientalism, and the belief that Vedic culture didn't exist, while European culture was novel. The reasons our predecessors created zombie myths were to warn us what would happen if we allowed necromancers to take worldly resources and build undying abominations. As Charles Dickens tried to warn us about how Victorian bourgeois ladies' associations would result in fourth-wave feminism, it wasn't a warning we were keen to heed; ergo the Gates Foundation will soon patent your stem cells.

For what it's worth, though, if we all were zombies, there wouldn't be anything new about it. Bonomo does the usual lament of how we "don't grow our own food," and are therefore doomed, to whit:
Modern man is almost entirely without out any practical skills. He doesn’t know how to grow food, hunt animals or build a house. He uses all sorts of electronic tools whose core technologies he doesn’t really understand and which he doesn’t have the slightest idea how to fix.

This set of circumstances is a recent development in human history, beginning in the 18th century and growing exponentially in the last 30 years during the information revolution. We are helpless slaves to technologies we don’t understand and to media that programs us to believe all sorts of propaganda designed to keep us from actually thinking critically.
Ooh, scary! A recent development! The sky is falling! Time to hit Costco for a 120 day supply of 2000 calorie nutritionally balanced meals, so that in case Putin nukes Boston, I can get in my sailboat and read old copies of Locke's Second Treatise for 120 days before I make land and get gang-raped by a team of cybernetic Hell's Angels trying to repopulate the Earth.

This kind of warning is the inverse of Better Than Kings of Old, in which we pretend not that the ancients had it so much worse than us, but that they also, paradoxically, had it better. After all, they could grow their own food, right? So they could survive?

Um, no. Prehistorical human agriculture still required groups of humans. Humans have been evolving socially 'round these parts for at least ten thousand years, and it's not reasonable to assume that single farm families (let alone individuals) in most of the world are going to be able to freehold-survivalist themselves past the apocalypse, whether they are 8th century Gaul herders or 21st century day traders. People of Yore had plenty of the infirm, elderly, toddling kinds of people, who couldn't survive on their own under any circumstances, and they had plenty of weak or injured people. They had irrigation problems, plowing problems, animal husbandry problems, tool problems, et cetera. A farmer with a basic knowledge of blacksmithing still didn't have access to the ore he needed to repair his plows, and without a steel plow, he would have to revert to more pliable alloys, or friggin' stone, and he'd also have to be a tanner to know how to thong the stone to the wood to harness it to the plow animal. So even if we had some real Renaissance man--sorry, pre-Renaissance man--living in a temperate climate with great rainfall (to remove the problem of maintaining irrigation channels), he's not going to be able to sustainably farm throughout even a single lifetime without also becoming a miner. And becoming a miner is its own issue, and it takes a lot of manpower and/or dynamite and/or heavy machinery (which latter pair also take a lot of manpower to do a lot of).

The way people got around these issues, being so small and weak, was through society, and they've depended on it for tens of thousands of years. Sure, medieval farmers knew more about fields than modern day traders, but without somewhat-organized populations of somewhat-sizable size, they would be just as likely to die off in some kind of supply-chain apocalypse.

"What if the grocery store stopped having food in it?" Yeah, that's scary, but so is, "What if your ox got sick and the trader didn't come through next season"? Well, you could buy one from your neighbor...fine, well, what if all the oxen in that region got sick? It's the same problem--humans have been living with the logical fear of a social apocalypse for as long as they've needed society to survive. There's no particular reason to be more envious of some "self-sufficient" farmer in ye olden days than there is to be terrified of being one. The magical state these people are yearning for--where they don't need to rely on other people or things in order to live--is everdeath, where isolation is total and permanent. Existence implies togetherness, and so too does life around these parts require it.

You think the division of labor is new? People love to squawk about how we don't understand how our cars and computers work, but one of the great tasks of social organizers of old--the bourgeois before the bourgeois--was to fill society with little "mysteries of trade" that justified reliance on managers. The medieval peasantry was often as ignorant of one another's trades as we are today. E.g., it's easy, in a sense, to learn most of what your doctor, lawyer, accountant, schoolteacher, grocery clerk, truck driver, police officer, and agricultural worker do. It's also easy to learn a little bit of smithing, tanning, grooming, and agriculture.

It's not "easy" like "youtube easy," but it's "easy" like, if every kid took a couple years of basic education in these things in their early teens, most adults would have a generalized grasp of the concepts. You're not supposed to know that, but the military knows it, and they have cute manuals that they use to teach non-college-educated field medics the bulk of what trauma teams, dentists, etc. do professionally. That doesn't mean they know everything, but they know a good deal toward the "survival" side of the equation. Many South American countries, incidentally, have dental technicians who perform cleanings, checkups, and fillings, without college or dentistry degrees--and plenty of westerners go there for cheap work. The quality is just the same, or even better, because people who just "do fillings" can often do way better at it than some little overachieving white kid who spent an additional two and a half years learning about orthodontics, jaw cancers, and small practice management in order to get a fancy degree.

If the shit hit the fan in medieval times, at least all the able-bodied men would be able to hunt, right? Well, how long do you think that would last, while every other able-bodied man was hunting and trapping ferociously in an attempt to provide for his family? That's right--about as long as it would take for a post-apocalypse crowd to peacefully clean out a Costco before the bullets started flying. Game animals were readily available in feudal Europe because people were actively engaged in nurturing and eating livestock. Absent that livestock, and the trade patterns and social networking that supported its sustenance, wild game would've been about as reliable as the delivery trucks at your local grocer. Hunting, gathering, and living off the land required careful environmental husbandry done in coordination with other groups of humans, or else overfishing and overhunting could spoil everything for everyone, and a region could die off in a few years. Medieval kings made it a mortal offense to trespass on their private hunting grounds, which they kept stocked not only for sport, but in the equivalent of a Congressional nuclear-war bunker filled with baked beans and freeze-dried steak dinners. Private game preserves are the old-world fallout shelters, owned by the same kinds of assholes who now fantasize about reading comic books and eating homegrown tomatoes while everyone else is dead.

Tech-critics like to talk about solar panels and local farms, but how about restocking game? Solar panels require copper and steel or plastics that have to be mined and/or maintained, farms discriminate against the differently-abled who can't work them, but animals support themselves--and sometimes, they drop dead, leaving behind meat that can be harvested and cooked by the wheelchair-bound. Let's have an initiative to release hundreds of thousands of deer and cougar into San Francisco as part of a sustainable green initiative.

Aww fuck. Why'd all the green activists get so quiet all of a sudden?

Anyway, my dears, don't get afraid when people tell you that you can't survive as well as farmers of yore. Or at least, don't get any more afraid than were people of yore.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Our Greater Evils ~ Updated from Carrico

(Updated at end)

Dale Carrico cited posting difficulties that prevented him from replying to Second Killary and Parting the Veil, and accordingly, e-mailed a response. We'll look over it, and use the opportunity to deepen our analysis of evil. His full response appears in The Part Where We Go Through It All, which was posted just prior to this post.

As can be seen, Carrico has done a rather exemplary job of explaining (1) why evil is actually good, and (2) how it is an illusion when evil appears optional because evil is actually inevitable. If you're among the minority of Terrans who have learned that murdering children to achieve a political end is wholly wrong, you're probably familiar with that kind of explanation; even so, looking over this kind of stuff can have utility. If you're among the minority of Terrans who enjoy such acts due to your own private quarrel with existence, laugh it up, because here we go a wassailing again. If you're among the majority of Terrans who believe that murdering children to achieve a political end can be right depending on the circumstances, you believe that because you've constructed a complex series of overlapping rationalizations that directly contradict one another, but which can create such discordant ideatic harmonics that it can distract your conscience from what you claim to believe to be right.

This is why, for the said majority, a so-called "Socratic dialogue" must be avoided at all costs. Ad hominem, strawman, being too lofty to condescend to address such obvious topics, or just resorting to vanishing or belligerent name-calling, are mandatory in order to shield the minds of the said majority from recognizing that their intellectual frameworks are self-contradictory, and, therefore, void by rules which they themselves feel that they believe in and operate by. Since they're the ones who would be answering the questions (if they could bear to), the contradictions would be coming from their own lips. It's easy to dismiss High Arka's model dialogue because she is saying it; if they participated in that dialogue themselves, even giving the same answers (which they must inevitably do, to a point), the pain would be too great to bear: the amygdala would release a bitter flood of anger, and for lack of physical proximity, they simply log off, and learn to ignore the pellet that gives a shock.

This one will go through the topic anew in parts. Firstly, in The Part Where We Go Through It All, we'll go through Dr. Carrico's response piece by piece, focusing on the ways in which the logical mind shelters the conscience in the only way it knows how: by compiling isolated logical components into an illogical whole, which will--logically--be sufficiently obtuse to reassure the conscience that the individual's interactions with the outside world are just.

(If you're fond of neuropsychology or any of the other new grant-gaining, expensive-facilities-requiring terms for theoretically-non-theoretical philosophy, you might enjoy substituting "left brain" for "logical mind," "right brain" for "conscience," or anything else you feel suitable. If you're into theories about the ways the developing left brain has entrapped the right brain, you can draw all sorts of cool conclusions thereby.)

Secondly, in this post, we'll continue by looking again at the ways in which a Socratic-style dialogue reveals the contradictions inherent in a few popular, temporally proximate American viewpoints. Lastly, we'll close this post by further developing the nature of the evil "lesser evil" argument. We'll see how the generalized idea of post-Enlightenment "progress" has been used to prevent any sustained, effective countervailing force to the nation-state constructions that replaced openly-acknowledged aristocracies (which regularly inspired rebellions that, while not threatening on the whole, were part of a process far more expensive to maintain than a generalized narrative of historical progression), tricking generations of people like Carrico--who might have once said, "Enough is enough"--to be transformed into the Crown's greatest supporters.

Shattering the Overlap: Dubya

Here's a popular cognitive dissonance prompt from the Dubya era.

Radical Progressive: Why do you support the troops?

Proud Patriot: Because they're defending our freedoms.

Radical Progressive: So you support those who defend their people's freedoms?

Proud Patriot: Of course.

Radical Progressive: If China built a military base in Fort Worth, Texas, would you support American men who attacked that base?

Proud Patriot: Damn straight.

Radical Progressive: What if those Chinese military bases had been authorized. Say, by President Clinton?

Proud Patriot: Slick Willy? That bastard! I'm surprised he didn't authorize them.

Radical Progressive: Well, wouldn't that make it okay, then? If Clinton said the Chinese could have a base there?

Proud Patriot: Job of all decent Americans to run the Chinese out.

Radical Progressive: Maybe so. You know, the teevee says it was Saudis who hijacked those flights on nine eleven.

Proud Patriot: Sure was, the bastards.

Radical Progressive: Look at this map--see these pictures of U.S. military bases in Saudi Arabia?


...There are other ways that discussion can go, of course. The patriot can try to defend using western-style democracy as the hallmark of all decent things, but then you get into the issue of how many democracies America has bombed, and when it is or isn't okay. And then you get into the idea of how free and fair elections have to be for them to be real elections, and whether or not the U.N. can be trusted to monitor elections, or whether or not America can be trusted to monitor elections, and whether or not the election-monitors have an agenda, and whether or not democracy is actually any good (because they never support Bill Clinton, and he bombed places, too), and eventually, the only argument the Proud Patriot has left is one of the following:

1) God cares more about people born or naturalized into the center of the North American landmass than He does about other people, therefore we can arbitrarily bomb whoever; or,

2) Intangible aspects of America's national ethos, which are still present to a degree--despite the wrong kind of more recent immigrants, along with traitorous elements among the less recent immigrants, interfering with it--make it acceptable for America to not be held by the same standards as everybody else, meaning we can arbitrarily bomb whoever; or,

3) Evolution dictates that the strong will survive, and since we can do it, we will, and we may.

Barring deus ex machina or American Exceptionalism (the latter of which can be proven self-contradictory just as easily), Scientistic evolution is the only thing left. Almost all Proud Patriots don't get that far, but I've had the privilege of getting some vets to the evolution point. And at that point, they're perfectly logical--mercantilist evolution is about might makes right. It underscores the "progressive" rationalizations, too, which is why Scientism is the most dangerous religion around right now--far more dangerous than dominionist Islam or Christianity.

Shattering the Overlap: Obomba

Here's a similar version for the non-Dubya Dubya.

Still Antiwar: Why do you support Obama's war on terror?

Now Curiously Accepting of War: Because it's not his fault. He was mired in it because of Bush and now he can't stop.

Still Antiwar: So if a president isn't responsible for starting a conflict, but is only carrying it on, that president isn't responsible?

Now Curiously Accepting of War: Yes. You can't blame Obama for not leaving the region in shambles after everything Dumbya did to it.

Still Antiwar: It says here that Bill Clinton bombed Iraq almost every week throughout his presidency, and that he viewed invasion as inevitable to protect America's interests in the region. He sanctioned Iraq for years, causing over a million civilian deaths, and military forces were constantly active in the region. Clinton even struck a lucrative pipeline deal with oil companies, promising to defend the pipeline from an anti-corporate faction in Afghanistan called the "Taliban"--by military occupation if necessary, if pipelines were damaged. Does that mean it's not Dubya's fault when he took office and found himself mired in an ongoing conflict?


...Like the Proud Patriot, the progressive has nowhere to go. Gore definitely had to take a fall in 2000. The Supreme Court's zany decision, and Gore's utter lack of concern for pressing the issue and becoming president, along with the DLC's choice to front such an unlikable dolt anyway, happened because the Republican wing of the American Party engages in "hard" war, sponsoring actual invasions. The Democratic Party just uses trade blockades to starve people out and warm them up for later Republican bombings. Gore couldn't be permitted to be president during the 2001-2005 period, even though the voters showed that all they really wanted was another world-policing free-trader, no matter how plutocratic. To allow the voters to decide the election would've robbed so many people of their fantasy that The Brotherhood existed.

Shattering the Overlap: Hillary

This will duplicate, though in much more abbreviated form, the exchange that this one used a marionette Carrico for in Parting the Veil. The shortened format is less attractive, but renders the contradictions much more directly.

Yet Again Anti Murder: Why will you grudgingly support Hillary's murders?

Carrico: They are part of achieving a political end for Domestic Subgroup.

Yet Again Anti Murder: The Indian Wars did that. The Ainu genocide did that for Japan. The Armenian Genocide did that for the Ottoman Empire. The Third Reich's concentration camps did that for Germany. Do you support those things?

Carrico: Teaching. Activism. Gay rights.

Yet Again Anti Murder: Good for you, and for those involved. What you said, though, isn't a response to the question I asked about the subject we were discussing. You said it was acceptable to support a political leader who kills lots of people if it led to positive political results for Domestic Subgroups.

Carrico: Actually, also foreign subgroups.

Yet Again Anti Murder: Great! Let's just say, "Subgroup," then. Those same situations apply: the Amerindian genocide achieved political ends for dozens of millions of European subgroups who were able to flee oppression and find refuge in America. Was it okay to exterminate the native American tribes to achieve that end? And for FDR to imprison nips in concentration camps--

Carrico: You disgust me.

Yet Again Anti Murder: Excuse me--just using the Democratic Party's terminology of the time. By the way, Hillary comes from that very same Party. Anyway, Japanese Americans. And for FDR to imprison Japanese Americans in concentration camps? You would've supported that because it resulted eventually in the integration of the U.S. Army, and later, in the Civil Rights Movement. So then, you must support Adolf Hitler, Andrew Jackson, and other genocidal leaders who, however personally despicable, were part of a historical progression that led to a Germany and an America that has more diversity-friendly policies than ever before in the history of humanity.

Carrico: Anti-fracking. Labor organizing. Third parties.

Yet Again Anti Murder: That's not really an answer, again. But I can try to extrapolate an answer out of there. "Third parties" as in, you'll only vote for candidates who denounce war, also known as the greatest crime humankind has yet invented?

Carrico: Well, supporting Hillary Clinton, who has threatened to obliterate Iran, might nudge us closer to a third party.

Yet Again Anti Murder: Just as Jackson did for the Know-Nothings, and for the new Democratic Party, which now boasts of its record of being anti-slavery and reduced-genocide. Just as Hitler did for Germany, which is--

Carrico: I resent your comparison to Hitler.

Yet Again Anti Murder: But not to Jackson? Do you know how many babies he must've galloped over in his daring career of cleaning up villages filled with women and the elderly, after a bunch of Polish and Irish immigrants had already risked their lives fighting the braves?

Carrico: Fine. I resent your comparison to both Hitler and Jackson. Also, Godwin's Law! Lol!

Yet Again Anti Murder: I'll try not to press the point, but Jackson is from the same party as Hillary. Just thought I'd mention that again. And just like Jackson, she intends to stay behind the lines and order a bunch of poor young people to travel far away and slaughter indigenous families on their native soil. But this time, she has a really, really good reason, right? Way better than Jackson's reasons. But anyway, you still didn't answer the question: would you have supported decades of presidents who advocated the American Exceptionalist expansion of the U.S. Army into Indian Territories, thereby supporting the genocide of the Amerindians, just because you thought it would lead to a gradual historical progression of good things? You would've looked back on history and said, "I supported those people, but I had reservations." I mean, essentially, that means that if George W. Bush were running again, only he were running against Ted Nugent, you'd vote for Bush. If resurrected Hitler were running against resurrected Stalin, you'd vote for Hitler. If resurrected James K. Polk were running against Ted Nugent, you'd vote for Ted Nugent. That ultimately means that you would support any horror that humankind has ever perpetuated, so long as someone else could offer you a hypothetical greater evil.

Carrico: Gay marriage. Free university tuition. Nationalized health care.

Yet Again Anti Murder: You would vote for Dr. Mengele as surgeon general if he were running against Jeffery Dahmer. Think of the unspeakable horrors you would be part of, if only a clever faction of powerful people managed to convince you to offer them support by always presenting you with a "worse" hypothetical. Forget Plato's Cave--you wouldn't even have to be in the cave, to be convinced. All it would take is an actor pretending to "oppose" the leader, saying even sillier things than the leader did...and thereby you could be led to lend your support to anything. Now, really, would you vote for Dr. Mengele as surgeon general if he were running against Dahmer? Mengele's record, like Hillary, is right out in the open. You know what kinds of things he would support with the power that you would vote to give him.

Carrico: ...

Here we reach a turning point. Carrico has to ask himself, "Is there a line I wouldn't cross?" Of course, we know there is. He'd vote against a candidate who was honest about what s/he wanted to do. If Hillary jumped up on the podium wearing bling and carrying a glock, pointed it sideways at the camera, and said (in ebonics) that she was going to "blow up all the middle east's shee-it," Carrico might think she was no longer worth supporting. Even if Hillary's policy record, and every action she took as Senator and President, remained identical.

Imagine the following:
"I am going to exterminate Arabs until we have more oil securely in our control than Russia does. I will have millions of Somalis and Sudanese wiped out, and I will send mercenary death squads into the Congo, and I will give them license to rape and burn, and I will kill as many people as I feel like killing in Africa, until they stop voting for their own leaders and accept Africomm's military dictators, so that I can control their natural resources and keep BRICS from threatening the petrodollar. In return for supporting me in this, I will give you a constitutional amendment in favor of gay marriage. If you're lucky, I might also moderately improve wage equality."
Killary Klinton, October 26th, 2016 C.E.

If Hillary did that, the illusion would fall away. Even if nothing about her ever changed, if she did that, she would lose her support. Suddenly, the Party would have to shuffle in a different spokesperson.

Now, why would Dale Carrico, and those like him, stop supporting Hillary if she were honest? Well, frankly, she has been honest. She has already said everything from the above quote--she's just said it in different words. Like Obama, she has reassured America's corporations that she will continue the empire, while tossing a few tokens to the majority segment of the population.

And yet, blunt honesty would terrify Carrico. He wants someone who will be just as rough and tough as Hillary, but someone who won't be honest about it--he wants a parental figure who will sugarcoat the truth, allowing him to be a perpetual child, believing in free ponies and magic unicorns, while she nonetheless burns Africa in pursuit of deadly hegemony. As we considered in Thank God For Iraq, the American progressive, possessing an enduring faith in market-style evolution, believes in a world ultimately governed by might v. right--and to reconcile this with ideals of kindness (which they sadly believe impossible), they seek out a leader who will lie to them in just the right way.

Barack Obama, like Bill Clinton and Woodrow Wilson, did a good job at that. Democrats are great at being the parental figures for people whose sickness is in repressing, rather than reveling in, the law of the jungle. Dubya spoke firmly about protection and gumption, inspiring a bunch of eager Rethuglicans to get out there and kill A-rabs, while Barack kills even more people while whispering soothing words about progress in Carrico's ears. Carrico knows what Daddy and Mommy do to pay the rent--he knows it, deep in his bones--but because he doesn't want the family to be evicted--because he has faith in the randomized, Scientistic struggle--he has to disregard his ideals and trick himself into believing that kinder, more diverse murderers are leading him to a brighter future.

It's hypocritical, of course, to disapprove of the Nuremberg convicts and yet to approve of the imperial American presidents (unless you believe in that supernatural being who favors the central North American landmass). And it's hypocritical to say that you wouldn't vote for General Grant the papoose-bayoneter, but that you would vote for Senator Clinton the baby-starver. Dr. Carrico knows that. But he needs that tough edge out there. He needs to believe there is someone willing to go back to Africa and murder her way to a secure store of copper, so that we can develop the solar panels that will keep the cars going and the stores filled. He doesn't want to hear about the details. Close the door. Just do it. I won't do it for you, but I'll nod and look away. I won't turn you in. I won't leave you. Just do what needs to be done.

The Notion of Progress

We're all no doubt familiar with the prehistoric human idea of cyclical life: family/tribe, gods and spirits as natural forces, birth and death like the spring and winter of one life, et cetera. We're also (probably) similarly familiar with the ways that worldviews changed after the advent of Jenomic castes, writing, monarchs, and so forth: the pyramidal view of society, with king-priests as intermediaries between humans and un-seeable gods. And we must all have learned something about "the natural order" of the world as rendered by elite castes throughout feudalism, with the definable "beginning" and "end" of the world, the imposition of supernatural standards of behavior, and all of those other things that are now taught of as ridiculously archaic by the direct successors to the rulers and castes that created such ideas.

Our new generic worldview is the Scientistic one; the generalized "progress," which, like earlier narratives, allows us to structure our behavior and our societies. The goal-less nature of Scientistic progress, with its vaguely-defined but all-powerful Market Gods and rituals of choice, is no less powerful a story in the hands of the Terran who believes it to the bones.

The dark goddess Progressia is, like her cruel hounds Efficiency and Evolution, a totalitarian force upon Terran thought. By her dictates, she can look both forward and backward in time to make anything happen. When the Son of Goddess, named by men Pangloss, heralds his mother's entry, all past historical trends are eliminated, and shown to have been nonexistent in and of themselves, and instead, to have been part of Progressia's larger plan. The pogroms of medieval Europe were caused by insufficient progress, as was the elimination of the Neanderthal, and it was a marker of progress when Gandhi spoke and when the automobile was invented. The printing press heralded Progressia, as did Martin Luther, and it was by Her dictates that the mountainous terrain of ancient Greece caused the formation of roughly independent city states rather than overarching rule by a single king.

Outside of the post-Jenomic narratives, they make no sense. The Christian monarchies, for example, look to an outside visitor like a bunch of inbred genetic freaks who have constructed nationalistic myths to justify the subjugation of a continent to themselves and their cousins...but to Terran insiders, they looked like the natural order of things: a completely unplanned occurrence. The Scientistic banking states look little different, and yet, Progressia decrees a vast separation between the two systems.

As a great modern monarch, Bill Clinton, has teasingly reminded us, insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. The notion of "progress" has proven so beguiling that it has caused people to think that they are doing good by doing evil, because Progressia's power can turn evil into good, if she is only given enough time to work. Americans of the nineteenth century voted to exterminate the Navajo in pursuit of copper, telling themselves they were better than the Navajo and therefore deserved to live and enjoy the resources. Americans of the twenty-first century voted to exterminate the Arab in pursuit of oil, telling themselves that they were better than history and therefore deserved to define the future.

(Check out Better Than Kings of Old for an aside on how we construct false hymnals to our present selves.)

Sometimes there are pogroms, sometimes there are not. Sometimes there are genocides, sometimes there are not. Sometimes a million people starve, and sometimes ten million do. In either case, Progressia's children have an answer: the bad things are caused by the lack of progress, and the good things are caused by the presence of progress. And Progressia's presence is so hallowed--so very, very hallowed--that even she can do un-progressive things.

We can all laugh at Christians who say, "The earthquake that just hit Craplakistan and killed 100,000 children is proof that Craplakistan allowed homosexuals to walk the streets freely," right? Well, how about the Scientist who says, "The bombing campaign that just hit Craplakistan and killed 100,000 children is part of Progressia's master plan for a brighter future"? The "Christian" remark is actually the saner one, and, if there is such a thing as a lesser evil, "lesser." At least it's internally consistent, and allows for the possibility of a rational discussion on God's Will. When it comes to Progressia's Will, no rational discussion is possible. Progressia's successes are her successes, and her failures are her successes. Her evangelicals, convinced that they're "on the right side of history," will do anything in her service, even if history has shown that anything--say, a century of colonial occupation--to be wrong consistently and every single time.

The Exploiters

The post-industrial Scientist is easier to manipulate than the medieval Christian. Dr. Carrico thinks that, by playing a "game" of voting for Bernie Sanders in the primary, but resigning himself to the inevitable warmongering plutocrat Hillary Clinton in the general election, he will move things "to the left" by making future militaristic Democrats concerned about their primary success when challenged by sheepdogs like Sanders.

Like all of the Scientistic faithful's assumptions about humanity and history, though, this move relies on the ridiculous belief that other people have no agency. Carrico's strategy would work if and only if Hillary Clinton were not at least as clever as he was: because if Hillary were at least that clever, then she would know that all she has to do to get Carrico's consistent support (and that of millions like him) would be to field a Party candidate who offers more appealing positions than her own. Assuming that there are at least ten clever billionaires in the world, then, Carrico's vote is perpetually guaranteed. So long as those ten billionaires can provide (1) A batshit crazy Republican, and (2) A docile, lovable leftist, they know that Carrico will be forced to vote for their third choice--another genocidal empire-builder who talks about domestic social policy--every time.

Where is the proof that Hillary will be "swayed" by her constituents who will vote for her no matter what? Or Democrats like her? There is none. There is, instead, consistent proof that America has always been a progressive nation of militaristic expansion lightly seasoned by domestic social niceties. Here's a nice little link with a bunch of things Carrico already knows: Putting Today's Wars in Perspective.

Exact same thing, over and over, for more than two hundred years. And Carrico, like the intelligentsia before him--like the influential progressive PhD academic who created the Federal Reserve and brought America into the total warfare age--shows himself, by supporting Hillary, to be just another wealthy white American supporting imperialism. What a surprise, says history, sarcastically. What a surprise that a well-off white man thinks it's his burden to support a colonial tyrant who promises to make the world a better place by killing someone else's children.

* * *

(Dr. Carrico, you're most welcome at any time to postdate the prose in this post by responding to the original twelve questions in First of the Killaries. You can respond as "Anonymous," and just say that you're Dale Carrico, if you have a problem with the Captcha. This one would enjoy the chance to go through the dialectic with a real-you's answers.)

Updated 05/17/2015, 5:45 AM ET. Dr. Carrico has responded:
"Oh, I see. You're just a troll. Boring."
(That was it)

Nice responses below, Anonymi; there'll be a follow-up post for you.

The Part Where We Go Through It All

Here's Carrico:
You keep pretending I am indifferent to horrific crimes and atrocities, you keep insisting I am avoiding your "questions" about them -- all of which involve the pretense that they can be compared and quantified with one another in reductive ways I think are misleading and also immoral.

Forgive a moment of defensiveness, but I am a teacher a writer and an activist. I teach my students political, critical, and cultural theory, I have been teaching the history and practice of environmentalism, social justice, feminist/queer liberation, and nonviolent revolution for twenty years at Berkeley and SFAI, I write about, judge, and propose solutions to the sorts of crimes and atrocities you mention in these glib accusatory articles all the time in writing that is available to everyone online, as an activist with Queer Nation in the 90s and now with adjunct labor organizing I have tried to make a difference in ways that involve real personal risks and costs.

Our exchanges began when you took issue with my recommendation that voting is part of the struggle toward equity-in-diversity, that it is obviously insufficient but nonetheless a part of the work that most people can do and everybody should. Later, I pointed out that voting is usually a matter of choosing a less but still bad over a worse bad candidate if you are a person to the left of mainstream politics (which I am as a green democratic socialist-feminist) and that this quality of compromise is in fact paradigmatic for the work of the political more generally, in which we reconcile the histories and hopes of ineradicably diverse sharers of a worldly time and place in an interminable way. These struggles can be informed by other norms -- moral, ethical, legal, professional, esthetic -- but they are not reducible to them.

You seem to think not voting is a doing-nothing that amounts to doing something progressive and you seem to imply that not voting makes you less complicit in the heartbreaking distress of worldly injustice. I think both of those ideas are foolish and wrong and enormously unhelpful to the accomplishment of outcomes you seem to care about like I do.

Obviously, you are free to disagree -- I have offered up quite a few reasons for my views (especially considering that you want to leave the impression that I have ignored you or evaded you or that my "silence" demands you construct imaginary responses you then attribute to me) -- and you are also free to imply I am a complacent privileged silly old hypocrite or even an enemy of social justice. I don't think many people of sense or decency who actually get to know me, what I say, what I do and have done will agree with you for long.

PS: I work on the politics of technoscientific change and am I democratic socialist, so yes you can be sure I will return soon enough to lampooning the plutocratic antics of corporate-military venture capitalists and neoliberal futurologists and guru-wannabe techno-transcendentalist Robot Cultists soon enough. End-of-term teaching and adjunct labor organizing have made things a bit hectic for surfing and reflecting on the latest techno-nonsense.

A dialogue is a wonderful thing, in that it doesn't need to fit together exactly, like precision puzzle pieces, in order to facilitate the exchange of information. It's a boon to communication when one can understand another's message, and respond to it without nitpicking over every little detail. Yet therein lies an opportunity for obfuscation: the ability to make an appearance of "responding in spirit" without actually addressing necessaries. The sample dialogues above gave good examples of that--of how responding with useful, but irrelevant information, can be used to make it appear that a conversation is occurring, when instead all that is occurring is a lecture succeeding an interrogative.

Retaining our commitment to being very specific and thorough in our response, we'll demonstrate the methodology of a very direct response to Carrico by pulling anchor statements out of his essay above, and responding directly thereto. This one will number the information gleaned thereby to highlight any noted distinctions.
You keep pretending I am indifferent to horrific crimes and atrocities, you keep insisting I am avoiding your "questions" about them -- all of which involve the pretense that they can be compared and quantified with one another in reductive ways I think are misleading and also immoral.
This one formally affirms that Carrico is not wholly indifferent to horrific crimes and atrocities. However, this one notes that Carrico is indifferent enough to horrific crimes and atrocities as long as he feels he is getting something in exchange for them.

Dale Carrico will formally support leaders/policy platforms which include the following:

(1) Imperial warfare;

(2) The mass incarceration state;

(3) LGBTQ rights (or equivalent social nicety).

For High Arka, though, either (1) or (2) is a deal breaker. I wouldn't trade one pony, or even a hundred rainbow ponies, for Hillary's license to murder even one Arab child more.

There's an element of racism and ethnosupremacy inherent in Carrico's acceptance, too. Take, as an example, Matthew Shepard. If Hillary said, "As president, I will amend the constitution in support of gay marriage, and I will obliterate Iran or Lebanon again if Israel gives the green light," Carrico would still vote for her. Even though there are a lot of gay people, and/or a lot of Caucasians, in those places.

Yet, if Hillary said, "As president, I will amend the constitution in support of gay marriage, and I will not obliterate Iran or Lebanon, but I will condone the brutal murder-by-sexually-repressed-redneck of another dozen young men like Matthew Shepard," Carrico would get a foul taste in his mouth and refuse to vote for Hillary, even though the dozen American queers left to die on fences by the make-believe Hillary would be far, far smaller than the destruction real-world Hillary will actually wreak upon thousands of non-American queers.

Why that difference? What makes people with the quality "American citizenship" possess inherently more value than others?

(Or, conversely, if I got Carrico wrong: would he support a candidate who supported the murder of Matthew Shepard, if that candidate was running against a candidate who supported the murder of two gay men, instead?)

Is the question horrific and immoral? Absolutely! No one should consider seriously supporting either of those candidates. So, the follow-up to Carrico: why, by your own terms, are you willing to support such horrific, immoral things?
Forgive a moment of defensiveness, but I am a teacher a writer and an activist. I teach my students political, critical, and cultural theory, I have been teaching the history and practice of environmentalism, social justice, feminist/queer liberation, and nonviolent revolution for twenty years at Berkeley and SFAI, I write about, judge, and propose solutions to the sorts of crimes and atrocities you mention in these glib accusatory articles all the time in writing that is available to everyone online, as an activist with Queer Nation in the 90s and now with adjunct labor organizing I have tried to make a difference in ways that involve real personal risks and costs.
Great! Now, please stop supporting mass murderers. You might even find that, if people like you stopped reluctantly supporting mass murderers, all of the other things you agitate for would fall into place. American history since the signing of the Declaration of Independence has shown that genocide and colonialism go hand in hand with social injustice. (Surprise, surprise.)
Our exchanges began when you took issue with my recommendation that voting is part of the struggle toward equity-in-diversity, that it is obviously insufficient but nonetheless a part of the work that most people can do and everybody should.
Voting absolutely is part of that struggle. As long as you go on record as being a citizen who freely and of his own volition chooses to approve the presidency of an imperial warmonger, the Eurocentric colonial murder project begun in 1492* will never end. (*Just to pick a popular number. Some might say it's gone on far longer than that.)
Later, I pointed out that voting is usually a matter of choosing a less but still bad over a worse bad candidate if you are a person to the left of mainstream politics (which I am as a green democratic socialist-feminist) and that this quality of compromise is in fact paradigmatic for the work of the political more generally, in which we reconcile the histories and hopes of ineradicably diverse sharers of a worldly time and place in an interminable way. These struggles can be informed by other norms -- moral, ethical, legal, professional, esthetic -- but they are not reducible to them.
Sounds terrible. I wonder why they think they only need to present such terrible options.

Let's take an aside from here to highlight the moral choice of the sadistic murderer who puts a gun to the heads of two of your loved ones and demands that you "choose" who will live and who will die. Is there a moral choice? The only moral choice is not to choose. Like negotiating with movie-terrorists, the surrender of your will and conscience to someone that evil only guarantees the making of more choices like that one in the future.

Choosing to let Hillary kill "only" 1.3 million Arabs, as opposed to choosing to let Jeb kill 1.4 (based on your own impossible guesses of how many he "would" kill), makes you party to the murders. That's a finer philosophical distinction, though. More easy to discern is that, by making the choice, you enable people like Hillary to continue to force that choice on others.

The resigned, lesser-evil voter is why the American Party hasn't had to offer non-imperialist alternatives in over a hundred years. Mark Twain grappled with these same issues a long, long time ago, and now in 2015, Dale Carrico is still willing to get stars in his eyes and think, "Progressia will eventually come through for me, even though she's been murdering queers worldwide for a century straight."

You say "mainstream" politics. What could be more "mainstream" than voting for another Imperial Clinton to hold the American presidency? Ahh, but Progressia is truly great! She can make up down, and down up--she can make right wrong, and wrong right.
You seem to think not voting is a doing-nothing that amounts to doing something progressive and you seem to imply that not voting makes you less complicit in the heartbreaking distress of worldly injustice. I think both of those ideas are foolish and wrong and enormously unhelpful to the accomplishment of outcomes you seem to care about like I do.
Say Walmart holds a sale, and Cheetos are $4.99 while Equate cheese puffs are $3.99. I choose not to go to Walmart. You go to Walmart, buy the Equate, and feel that you've saved a dollar. I feel that I've saved $3.99. Which one of us is correct?

Voting expressly does make you complicit, by the way. A vote is a powerful ritual, by which you add your name to the list of people conveying a message to history:

1) I participated in the operation of the American government as founded in 1776 and enduring in 2015.

2) I advocate for _____________ to be the most powerful person in the world, in command of a nuclear arsenal sufficient to destroy humanity.

The person you vote for--their record, and the things that you can reasonably be expected to conclude they will likely do--says a lot about you. Whatever Hillary goes out there and does--all of the children she murders, and all of the zones she sends warlords into--will be done with your formal support, if you vote for her.

Your name will be tallied up in the registers of American democracy, proving that the actions Hillary takes were done "democratically," by a free and informed populace. If America is ever stopped, you will be considered a member of the American Party, no different than a German who reluctantly joined the Nazi Party or a Brit who reluctantly fought in the Second Boer War. You will be formally and for all time listed as having supported the actions Hillary took as president, by your authorization as voting citizen.
PS: I work on the politics of technoscientific change and am I democratic socialist, so yes you can be sure I will return soon enough to lampooning the plutocratic antics of corporate-military venture capitalists and neoliberal futurologists and guru-wannabe techno-transcendentalist Robot Cultists soon enough. End-of-term teaching and adjunct labor organizing have made things a bit hectic for surfing and reflecting on the latest techno-nonsense.
Confronted by the graveyards that President Clinton, II will fill with innocents, this seems almost irrelevant...but Hillary is an ecstatic futurologist, taking money from (and giving a vastly multiplied share of tax dollars back to) the very same corporations and individuals who are using techno-crap as bead and circuses to distract people from the blighted world. She is everything you say you stand against, right down to her patronizing support of lgbtq issues...and yet, you are going to choose her to be your leader.

The Goddess does indeed work in mysterious ways.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Stun Gunned

In Sanitized, we looked at the increase in overall harm in exchange for a decrease in visible harm. In the boxing case, for example, we traded major neurological harm for less blood at matches, by cushioning knuckles so that more direct blows can rattle the skull. In football, the same, while also cushioning the receiving body itself, so that damage is channeled more deeply.

A handful of further issues suggest themselves: firstly, credit. It's no surprise that the masters of credit, the great bankers who govern human societies, also favor and reward regulating authorities that produce short-term "gains" in exchange for long term sickness. Symptomatic medicine works this way, too, designed--like boxing--to disguise easily perceivable harms, while more deeply entrenching greater ones.

Those connections are fairly easy to perceive. So too the contrast between in-cruiser and foot patrol vis-à-vis policing. What this one would like modern westerners to think about are the connections between sanitized police and sanitized violence. Compare and contrast Mike Brown, Rodney King, and a flogged Mississippi slave circa 1840: in each case, the police interaction gets "cleaner," but the end result is worse. Maybe all the cases are unjust, maybe all are just, and maybe they're a mix; they're employed as easily-recallable examples to the modern Terran, and can be switched out for the example of Dillon Taylor followed by a series of German immigrants getting nightsticked by Irish police sergeants in old-timey New York.

Domestic policing (discounting the specific evil of Hillary Clinton's Party's lengthy and ongoing history of slave patrols) has taken its deadly turn for a lot of reasons, but one of them is surely this cleanliness. Sure, it looks cleaner when cops taser someone instead of beating the crap out of them, but blood and bruises is much better than lasting neurological damage (even on the "small" scale that modern formal taser research allows). And it looks cleaner when cops nightstick someone instead of just beating them up, but the normal beating is much preferable--both to the police officer's psyche as well as the victim's soft tissue. Clubs were certainly always a part of police work, but the transition to the glossy modern nightstick was, like the transition from nightstick to gun, to pepper spray, to taser, was motivated by this sickening western desire to make things "clean." Just like the automobile was supposed to "clean up the city" by eliminating horse shit, the nightstick and gun were going to make police work civil by preventing policemen from grabbing ahold of criminals and beating the crap out of them.

And there's a major loss to all of us, there. The sense of defeat by hand is psychologically important to a criminal. The "justice" is there, fair and square. Medical leave is expensive, but so is ammo, and the kinds of companies that go into taser design make way too much money off of us, just so we don't have to suffer the indignity of seeing a portly guy beat up a perp. In the long run, far more people end up dead or permanently damaged, grudging and ready for another round...and, as the skill level and discipline required to point a gun or taser differs greatly from that required to merely physically overpower, the quality of the cop drops, too.

Take in the political economy perspective while we're at it: in exchange for redirecting a vastly increased share of state and municipal funds to big firearms manufacturers, state legislators and city managers have been able to substantially reduce effective cop pay and benefits. Not just in the sense of wages, but in benefits--money that could be going to pay cops their full hourly to train, exercise, and meditate, is instead going to the stockholders of domestic arms companies. Check out this shit from the big dog itself, which sprang into being less than a year after the corporate media pushed the Rodney King beating: Saving Lives at Taser. Ford and Chevy won big when billions of dollars went to buy "patrol cruisers" instead of paying more cops more wages to walk more streets in person, and the "exotic weapons and computing category" is going to keep sanitizing police and military jobs into conditions far more inhumane for both giver and receiver.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Homer: 'Of Course' There Were Lunar Heroes In Troy

As it turns out, Achilles could easily have fought alongside lunarborn ("Lunar") soldiers.

Resurrected author Homer responded directly to a fan's inquiry about the presence of Lunar soldiers at the fictional siege of Troy, as portrayed in Iliad, with the following image:

Resurrected Homer received a number of questions about the diversity of the Trojan Army. When another fan inquired about whether or not there were Neo-Episcopalian soldiers represented on both sides of the war, despite the tale supposedly occurring before both the birth of Christ, the foundation of the Episcopal Church, and the first Moon colony, the scribe reassured his fans that both Agamemnon and Achilles were staunch believers in today's popular diversity. "I assure you, my characters all had early 21st century western Eurocentric mores," he promised. "They didn't have the offensive cultural attitudes of people from the 1800s, nor the completely improper attitudes of the 1950s, nor the myopic attitudes of the 1990s. They didn't suffer from the ridiculous mores of the 2150s, or the completely incomprehensible mores of the 2400s. They were in fact in line, socially speaking, with how the bulk of my fans feel today."

A small faction of trolls whom nobody liked pointed out that Homer had made similar comments several times over the centuries, using different sets of dates and groups depending on who was unpopular and/or popular at the time.

* * *

The poor, empty woman. She had, and has, this massive platform to reach hundreds of millions of people, and after a decade, she has nothing to look back upon--a wretched little series about eccentric spellbooks, candylands, and inherited perseverance, in which she forgot to mention even one meaningful thing. You can't blame her, or call her a liar, because her heart always was in the right place--she always wanted to say whatever was non-controversial and easily-assimilable, and be popular thereby; accordingly, it's completely fair to assume that, whatever the time or place, she would've said whatever people wanted her to say, and been cheered for it.

How embarrassing, though, to be there so many years later, and to so genuinely wish--to the point of coming to believe yourself--that you had meant, actually meant, to take time away from scrivening another bad Anglo-boarding-school tale about entitled bullies and corrupt deans, and include something, one tiny something, about a character who was actually dealing with a real-life issue of actually and truly being unpopular because of a birth or lifestyle issue whose merits hadn't been definitively resolved over a century ago. How internally embarrassing those moments would be, when you looked over five thousand pages standing in complete and utter disregard of everything you wish you had been knowledgeable enough to care about vis-à-vis any given trend before it became cool...not only for the person who created the narrative, but for the people who so enthusiastically participated in it, to then look back and realize it was all about the 1%; a small coterie of straight white people with plenty of money, engaged in politics, relationships, and homeland security. How disappointing for those who learned about the true nature of the world from various twitter gurus, and who then looked back with wiser eyes upon their own extended childhoods, and there discovered that they themselves had been the enemy all along!

Imagine the implications of extended spotlights, weak character, and public pressure on not just Homer. Would Jane Austen have retroactively made Mr. Darcy a struggling gay? Would Shakespeare have retroactively argued that Shylock had been the good guy all along? Mainstream Americans c. 2015 would have a great deal of trouble dealing with the real Superman--the white nationalist patriarch with no stomach for sodomites--and so he's been retconned. How long before grand councils of literati are convened to verify, for once and for all, that Juliet was a M2F, and that that's why the Capulets didn't want the match to happen?

This is part of why reality is cyclical, and why death is good and healthy. Immortal authors create mortal works: works so weak, fragile, and meaningless that they can no longer represent anything, even their creators themselves. The hungry ghosts out there right now, crapping out more Avengers, aren't only destroying the graveyards they mine; they're also ensuring that their own handiwork will never be anything more enduring than fodder for some other demented wizard's laboratory.