Monday, January 28, 2013

Petite people eat bagels, soul searchers eat croissants.

Watch which type eat one or the other.

I dont have anything against bagels (they're fun to make), I just sympathize with cafe au lait existentialists and enjoy that pastry's cosmopolitan history dating back to the ancient Turkish empire. One cannot move forward without recognizing and accepting change in a global and temporal viewpoint.

I'm not sure of how close to the heart my favorite film is, but to me Apocalypse Now Redux captures a spirit I see in to few.

The Rand-ian, purist mentality of Conrad appears to be lost on most.

If to do one thing so well that it approaches on the perfect way, it is to remove oneself from humanity. For the two are not contingent. That is the dichotomy of reason and emotion. By choosing one or the other, or both, you choose to remove oneself from the greater populous of mediocrity. The mass is neither one nor the other, and in the very rarest sense; both.

To be an emotive purist is to be the likes of Mozart or Van Gogh. To be the other, a pure logatition,  is to be likened to those of Sarte or Nietzsche or Marx. Either way one is to be damned and at the very least misunderstood. Yet to try and be both is the most purest Mercutio, to be slain for attempting to explain the Mab.

Color and vision are but one tiny way of experience, and some do it well.

taste and smell may grant one a few Michellene stars.

the sense of true touch could be the haute of Don Juan.

the experience of time and physical space, in the most far out, one may become a Sagan or Hawking.

the pangs of the heart & mind; Shakespeare, or at the very least Wilde.





What is the Next "Age?" And When Can Stop Asking, "Are We There Yet?" Part 2

What to say of Rand's "Age of Reason?"

I agree with the basic tenants of her argument. There is a dangerous ideology, especially in a particular capitalist democratic republic, which promotes that achievement is only acceptable if it is done quietly, with humility, and shared. And if achievement is not done in that manner, it should be scrutinized and demonized. Also that if achievement cannot be or is not attempted to be achieved it should then be given.

But one also has to define achievement in a historical context, and I feel a good start is to define what achievement is not. It is not amassing material wealth through any means possible. It is not personal gain at the expense of the welfare of many. Achievement cannot exist built on policies of destruction.

How does "the age of envy" function in the modern world? What could be the possible institutions that exist today with the function of inhibiting the progress of civilization via the ideology of a scorched earth policy?

Why do large corporations and their subsequent lobbyists and subsequent politicians pursue a scorched earth policy? Because that is how "envy" functions in the free market; envy being resentment of naturally occurring superior ability, which functionally is no different than the sentiment of, "If I can't have what what you have, then nobody should have it, or anything." 


The fraudulent practices of Wall Street bankers and other institutions "too big to fail" is not achievement, too many have suffered as a result. If the whole world suffers for the material comfort, gain, and greed of a few - how is that democracy? how is that achievement? how can that last?

One should also consider certain antiquated notions of Rand's philosophy, such as her obvious presumption that there is a bottomless well of natural resources, and that humans are somehow exempt from influencing anything but each other.

For such a philosopher as her to ignore the sciences of her day in her theories has always shocked me. But one also has to consider that she remained forever tethered to her roots of escaping Bolshevik revolutionary thought and condemning anything that even whiffed of the horrible mutation brought on by Stalinist rule. Concerning the science she constantly ignored was that of Rachel Carson, whose publication predated Rand's article in question by a decade. Also, Rand curiously never seemed to see any link between her theories and the blossoming science of atomic/ particle physics - in that if all matter is made of 92 elements or 3 subatomic particles, how is it in some way not all connected. 

And that is the one thing that always gets me about Rand. How could she not see the connectivity between all things. If she could see how a group of a "few" "haters" could be a cancer on the whole of society, she seemed to always disregard how that was a two-way street. If those that achieve are willing to leave doors open for others to do so as well, as opposed to closing them in hopes consolidating one's gains (to one's eventual detriment), it still holds true that no one person is an island. Income inequality is the single greatest cause of social malady, as well as a root cause of envy.

Thus, one must wonder both if we have, and (if we haven't) when will we leave this "age of envy?"

And I originally ask, "what is the next age?" As Rand's essay was written/ published in 1971, and she posits that she was in the age of envy, one of two cases are true. Either we are still in that age, or we have moved to a new age.

I would argue that we are still in the depths of the age of envy. Moreover, we are so far into the deep of the darkness of that age, that it would seem way too late to back-out. So forward progress is the only reasonable option. 

Not a socialist doctrine which the very misunderstood concept strikes fear in the heart of the American populous, but rather a policy of well being for all of society. Not of dolling out resources to everyone equally but of allowing equal opportunity for everyone. It is undeniable that those born into poverty have less opportunity to realize one's potential than those born into wealth and privilege.

Consider that.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The reason


What is the fundamental objective of life? To survive.
How does one achieve survival? Two ways - staying alive long enough to reproduce and, in a larger sense, establishing an equilibrium with one’s environment.

Keeping that in mind, it is no secret that mass extinctions occurred many times over the history of life on this planet. These result from shifts in cosmic geography which cause shifts in global conditions of climate as well as from geologic processes like continental drift and at the core of that; volcanism. Variations in the orbital paths of both the planet around the sun and the solar system around the galaxy give rise to measurable shifts in global climate patterns. The other cause of climate shifts are much more spontaneous by comparison. Whether it be ash clouds from super-eruptions or those generated by impacts from extraterrestrial objects, there is an undeniable history of these expulsions of particulate matter into the atmosphere altering the process of global heating. Alterations in existing patterns of global heating – either the ability of ultraviolet radiation to penetrate the atmosphere or leave it – can dramatically alter climate patterns.

These patterns of climate shift pace faster than the movement and evolution of flora on this planet of which provide the base of the food web that all subsequent organisms are dependant upon. Desserts shift and grow as seasonal rains shift and go. Masses of mountain and polar ice form and melt, changing regional rainfall and sources of drainage that form the base of watersheds and ultimately river systems. In addition, the relative temperature of the planet as it concerns global ice stores has a clear link to sea level, more ice equals less water in the oceans. Also, in conjunction with the relative temperature of the oceans, as the space between water molecules expands and contracts with variations in temperature, i.e. warmer oceans equal the same amount of water occupying more volume ergo higher sea level.

As all life on this planet is dependant upon water in one or more ways, dramatic shifts in the hydrologic cycle will in turn dramatically affect life on this planet. If one needs a most blatant example, consider the difference in patterns of organisms between now and one of the last ice ages.

In time scales of 10,000-10,000,000 years, life on this planet is perilous. Consider the state of humanity 10,000 yeas ago.

If one jumps forward, cosmic events that cause changes like these are unavoidable. Meteors will collide with this humble wet rock, such as the one 65,000,000 years ago that hit the Yucatan, ultimately killing off the dinosaurs. Eventually the sun will expand, swallowing the planet. Even farther out, our galaxy will eventually collide with another. Such a massive event, it’s scale is beyond reasonable comprehension and one cannot fathom the affect that will have on this one tiny planet of this minuscule solar system of a galaxy composed of billions of stars.

In the grand arc of time, the end will come.

Yet, life is a tenacious bastard. What if in its near timeless omnipotence, it had the goal of survival in mind the whole time? Clearly, it does - given its history on this planet. What if we (people) could be the answer to that challenge?

Have you ever heard of the parable of Noah and his ark? I use this parable for two reasons. It illustrates peoples’ ability to survive physical catastrophe as well as their dependence upon the natural world and the need to preserve it.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hooray! A restaurant review!



It was a late lunch, and there were people sitting and eating in the place so I took this as a good sign.  I’ve had some really great meals in Stillwater, so I tried my luck with a place I hadn’t been yet. There are three major aspects to a dining experience; ambiance, service and the food. Marx failed on all three, to a degree that has shocked me into having to write a review on this site. So let's go down the list.

The decor dazzles in a way that only a color-blind, manic schizoid choose. Of the dozen or so tables there was not more than a pair that matched in size shape or height. White Christmas lights, loosely wrapped in thin white fabric zig-zag over the main dining area. Bright orange Chihuly-esque lamps hang in a row, mirroring the arc of the crescent shaped bar. There are neon lights embedded in the surface of the bar that pulse in an oozing modulation while shifting through the shades of a simple rainbow. The walls are overcrowded with an array of massive, "modern art," so loud the obvious intent behind the scheme is to drown out or blind what the employees of Marx Fusion Bistro will subjugate upon the accidental customer.

Upon seating, a drink list/ book was provided and water offered. The water arrived with menus and the server left. A few minutes later, the server reappeared (having avoided the one other occupied table in that section) and daily specials were read off. The order was taken at that time, yet the point-of-sale computer was overlooked for several more minutes after that. Some odd-sized chunks of bread surrounding a ceramic cup of olive oil, complete with a floater of a garlic clove and a single blade of rosemary arrived with side plates next. The bottle of balsamic was remembered soon after. At this point, I was growing nervous… so I took the initiative and flagged down the server since the menus were now gone and it was clear now I was not going to be offered the option to get a glass of wine. Some time later, the sole course arrived neatly arranged on a plate that had obviously been left to die under a heat lamp for a long time, as my exploratory touch (yes, I was warned) singed my calloused finger. When the silverware was dropped off, I was able to use the napkin to slide my plate over 7 or 8 inches so that it was now in front of me. Later, once I had had enough, I was asked if I would like a to-go container to which I declined. A little Styrofoam clamshell container showed up anyway. The process of paying the bill went off without incident, oddly, and that was that. On a final note here, my server’s attitude and demeanor as well as physical appearance were all quite pleasant, but a few years experience at a Denny’s plus a bit of training from whomever is in charge of the front of house would greatly improve one’s ability to the tasks of one’s job in the correct order.

And then, there was the food. Starting with the menu, there were three sections; Salads, Pizza’s, and Pasta. I was struggling to see the “fusion” aspect of American Bistro idea Modern/ Food Network Italian. Sure, some of the cocktails have fusion like quirkiness to the flavor combinations, but the chef usually doesn't create those – that’s what you pay the bartender for. My dining companion ordered the beet/ bacon/ blue cheese salad. I had just had a salad for my previous meal, and I wasn't too jazzed about the pizza/ pasta dichotomy, but upon hearing the fish heavy specials such as a Fruits de Mer, some Scallop concoction, and a Asian themed Mahi Mahi something something, my interest was piqued. So, I opted for that last one, to witch my server replied, "That one's my favorite." Armed with an $11 glass of Chardonnay, I sipped slowly in anticipation.  I was only told twice that my food would be out shortly. Then the big moment came. My scorching hot plate arrived. Off-center of the round, two little fillets overlapped each other, moored upon a mass of garlic mashed potatoes, under a hat of Asian slaw, and sauced with a thick translucent brown and speckled goo. Creeping around the rest of the plate was a series of vegetable piles; the first a stack of a half-dozen green beans, next a dollop of something orange, a single floret of broccoli, finally a fan of five snow peas. There was a lot going on on this plate that looked as if it was still listening to G&R while teasing the bangs of its mullet. Well, I stick a fork in it and OMG, it's well done. Not a little over, not even close - it's cat food. My server never asked for a temp, which I didn't think much of because who in their right mind would cook Mahi past medium rare for even the most squeamish diner? The sauce, not faring much better; basically a thinned out hoisin with a little ginger and some sesame seeds. The garlic mash… just okay. The veggies; raw but with some darkness at the tips of the floret, and no seasoning - blanched for a whole five seconds and finished via heat lamp, delicious! Not. Asian slaw was really just coleslaw with sesame oil instead of mayo with the addition of a hint of ginger and a sprig of cilantro for a garnish. My company's salad was almost the opposite. Zero attention to plating, the greens, beets, bacon, blue and dressing all mixed homogeneously and then dumped onto the plate. Granted it was a bit of a mess to eat as everything but the whole leaves of greens was small dice size. The candied pecan halves were by far the biggest bits tossed in there, also the best texture - the beets and cheese had the same. Finally, it's hard to mess up such a bulletproof flavor combination of blue cheese, bacon, and candied pecans… with a hint of balsamic vinaigrette.  

When it comes to the folks at Marx, it is a tasteless (visual and culinary) philosophy of function follows form. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

-ology

When did the "study of" disappear from "-ology" & school? I'm taking an online course on the sociology of mental illness and so far the earliest source that is referenced dates to only 1961.

WTF?

One has to realize that the concept of mental illness, in the western sense, has its roots in the historical base of western history. Yup, that ol' bitch called monotheism. Sure there are references outside of that tradition, but none so clearly demonized as those set of deviances described with regard to the "God"-fearing norm. If you have read my earlier posts i clearly explain and dispel the humanistic illusion of monotheism by way of rationality, not "science."

I admit that the classification of others as mentally ill has its roots long before the "birth of Christ" but as far as western tradition is concerned, stigmatization of the "disturbed," "deviant," or "mentally ill" claims its deepest roots in the monotheistic assumptions of sin.

Case in point, why is it that temporally equal eastern conceptions of mental conditions are never recognized in contemporary literature. Is it because those societies have endured and predated our own that qualify their perspectives as invalid? So i reiterate; when does "-ology" come into play? or is that only applicable in a self-confirming myopic vision?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Christianity in Global Policy; the synthasis of Conrad & Rand & global minds

OOOOOOOf...

Heart of Darkness and the theory of objectivism....

wow, what a combo.

The conforms of society doom us. Whether one is to succeed above a fellow human or to to find the pure way, the same is true; everyone will cast you out for doing so successfully.

I am not one of great achievement, but I know it when I see it. if you live your own life according to your bicycle powered tamale cart, maintain a superiority through the trade of a milliner, or write words that make mortals swoon; the top of your game is why I love you.

Just do what you love, and do it well. I will be the one who is happy for your success over mine, cuz you do it right.

Whether you are a killer or a savior, or just one who makes it by; if you do what you love, whatever higher power you call to will answer, and say, "Hell Yeah!"

When I get all headache-y, is when double standards apply. Like if one proposed a universal picture by ignoring or damning the majority. Much in the vein of C&R, it seems silly that just because of a particular post-Greecian, monotheistic, non-Islamic viewpoint of mentality is a study of the individual or group mind should conform and only reference material that supports its preconceived conclusions, while at the same time ignores/ dispels/ condemns any theological or historical sociological notions that may - at the very least - question its assumptions.

Seriously? As Dylan said, "And the names of heroes I was made to memorize, with guns in their hands and god on their side."
But what if like in any NFL game, both teams have the same god on their side? Sorry, one of my favorite rhetorical questions...

So both C&R espoused the idea that if you execute a task to a superlative degree, those that cannot match that same result will (in essence) be envious, and as a result condemn you for your success...
Okay. not an incorrect conclusion,  but both are moored in a civilization that had yet to realize it's interplay and connection in a larger system. Which still does not negate that previous observation, but the age of envy has progressed to the point that a descending argument to the social norm is labeled as an illness rather than a critical evaluation.

Why is it that in a global society, or just in the melting-pot of the USA, only an opinion phrased and framed by a particularly narrow world view is acceptable? Harken back to the current discourse of gun ownership and the political argument that only the non-mentally ill should be aloud a license to purchase a firearm. Not only does this fail to address the fact that in most of the last dozen plus mass shootings the firearms used were not licensed to the user, but it also fails to address the definition of mental illness, but even more baseline and critical; the concept of health and mental illness is unfairly rooted in an antiquated, increasingly rejected theology. Seriously, take into account the sociological history of modern psychology. Just about all of that field's "founders" were raised and/ or rooted in the Christian dogma. Is there not an argument that their religious backgrounds may have influenced their scientific/ objective conclusions considering the significance of the concept of "sin" in their sociological upbringing? Where are the Hindu, or Buddhist or non-secular philosophical undercurrents in this increasingly global diagnostic paradigm?

Is this just neo-racism or something more Orwell-ian? Or is it not that intelligent of a design - just pure laziness of thought and policy? A growing number of youth are apparently looking for more logical answers that a benign supreme being's will as the answers to life's bigger and more difficult questions, so isn't it about time we start applying an unbiased (or at least non-religious) historically query to our institutions of labeling and society?

Just a thought.
I'll get back.
Cheers.

humanistic fears & polar bears

It's funny... people put a ton of stock in honesty and feeling. However in my experience these are the two aspects of humanity that those proponents are most afraid of hearing. It seems ludicrous that the two aspects of humanity people seem to prize the most are the same two they are most reluctant to face.

In relationships, the paramount of truth seems to be white lies. And the thing a significant other appears the least wiling to accept is an honest appraisal of ones self. If one happens to find themselves in a relationship where stark and brutal honesty is what happens to be the glue of the couple; DON'T LEAVE! everything else will boil you down to the worst of whom you are, as that is what you keep from the other.
The-rapist will tell you either or both, don't listen to "him." It's neither.

What is it with the dissolution of honesty. more or less the dichotomy?

I just am confused. what are the criteria for when it is appropriate to lie for the sake of the greater good and when is it best to tell the painful truth to save oneself from further contradictions?

When someone says, "I need time alone." when is that a true statement and when is that a call for emotional assistance?

The thing that kills me is that there is no standard. There is no way to say weather a statement is an honest plea or a trick of reverse psychology.

And through diligent attempts; the option of the middle ground of sparse yet constant attempts fills 100% of the time...

FuCK ThaT!

When did lying become a dangerous necessity to be balanced with a sorta-kinda, when it is needed, honesty?

I hate trying to get close to another person, but that is all i want to do. Loneliness is the single worst condemnation to an individual.

Case in point; solitary confinement has never been used as a reward for behavior, on the contrary; call Alcatraz, and the Birdman, solitary is punishment.

If i didn't take so much enjoyment from a physical and emotional encounter, i would give up sexuality altogether.   This shit is too stressful and bassackwards.

Why is it that love and lying are so entwined? It i not that i don't find the use  in both but the two really should be kept separate. Material wealth requires deception whereas honesty and emotion mix like oil and water... So WTF?

Why is it that the two most important truths and the two most important types of lies are inseparable?

Why does it seem that continuity is the most illusive bobkat in the society I am forced to live in?

Until I get a real answer, could I just find someone to love, who will love me for being a human?

What is the Next "Age?" And When Can I Stop Asking, "Are We There Yet?" Part 1

Something of a long primmer first. And keep in mind two things while reading this; one,  this was written over 40 years ago, so some passages will sound antiquated, and that will be addressed in due corse. And two, as a result of the non-contemporariness as well as that I did not write this, I do not agree with all of the points therein on the basis of my own logical reasoning in addition to scientific discoveries that have either occurred since the writing of this or were ignored by the author altogether.

"A culture, like an individual, has a sense of life, rather, the equivalent of a sense of life - an emotional atmosphere created by its dominant philosophy, by its view of man and of existence. This emotional atmosphere represents a culture's dominant values and serves as the leitmotif of a given age, setting its trends and style.

Thus Western civilization had an Age of Reason and an Age of Enlightenment. In those periods, the quest for reason and enlightenment was the dominant intellectual drive and created a corresponding emotional atmosphere that fostered these values.

Today, we live in the age of envy.

"Envy" is not the emotion I have in mind, but it is the clearest manifestation of an emotion that has remained nameless; it is the only element of a complex emotional sum that men have permitted themselves to identify.

Envy is regarded by most people as a petty, superficial emotion and, therefor, it serves as a semihuman cover for so inhuman an emotion that those who feel it seldom dare to admit it to themselves. Mankind has lived with it, has observed its manifestations and, to various extents, has been ravaged by it for countless centuries, yet has failed to grasp its meaning and to rebel against its exponents.

Today, that emotion is the leitmotif, the sense of out life and culture. It is all around us, we are drowning in it, it is almost explicitly confessed by its most brazen exponents - yet men continue evade its existence and are particularly afraid to name it, as primitive people were once afraid to pronounce the name of the devil.

That emotion is: hatred of the 'good' for being 'good.'

This hatred is not resentment against some prescribed view of the 'good' with which one does not agree. For instance, if a child resents some conventional type of obedient boy who is constantly held up to him as an ideal to emulate, this is not hatred of the 'good:' the child does not regard that boy as good, and his resentment is the product of a clash between his values and those of his elders (though he is too young to grasp the issue in such terms). Similarly, if an adult does not regard altruism as good and resents the adulation bestowed upon some "humanitarian," this is a clash between his values and those of others, not the hatred of the 'good.'


Hatred of the 'good' for being 'good' means the hatred of that which one regards as 'good' by one's own (conscious or unconscious) judgement. It means hatred of a person for possessing a value or virtue one regards as desirable.

If a child wants to get good grades in school, but is unable or unwilling to achieve them and begins to hate the children who do, that is hatred of the 'good.' If a man regards intelligence as a virtue, but is troubled by self-doubt and begins to hate the men he judges to be intelligent, that is hatred of the 'good.'

The nature of the particular values a man chooses to hold is not the primary factor factor in this issue (although rational values may contribute  a great deal to the formation of that emotion). The primary factor and distinguishing characteristic is an emotional mechanism set in reverse: a response of hatred, not to human vices, but toward human virtues.

To be exact the emotional mechanism is not set in reverse, but is set one way: its exponents do not experience love for evil men; their emotional range is limited to hatred or indifference. it is impossible to experience love, which is a response to values, when one's automated response to values is hatred.

In any specific instance, this type of hatred is heavily enmeshed in rationalizations. The most common one is: "I don't hate him for his intelligence, but for his conceit!" More often than not, if one asks the speaker to name the evidence of the victim's conceit, he exhausts such generalities as: "He is insolent... he is stubborn... he's selfish," and ends up with some indeterminate accusation which amounts to: "He's intelligent and he knows it." Well, why shouldn't he know it? Blank out. Should he hide it? Blank out. From who should he hide it? The implicit, but never stated answer is: "From people like me."

Yet such haters accept and even seem to admire the spectacle of conceit put on for their benefit by a man who shows off, boasting about his alleged virtues or achievements, blatantly confessing a lack of self-confidence. This, of course, is a clue to the nature of the hatred. The haters seem unable to differentiate conceptually between "conceit" and a deserved pride, yet they seem to know "instinctively," i.e., by means of their automized sense of life.

Since very few men have fully consistent characters, it is often hard to tell, in a specific instance, whether a given man is hated for his virtues or for his actual flaws. In regard to one's own feelings, only a rigorously conscientious habit of introspection can enable one to be certain of the nature and causes of one's emotional responses. But introspection is the mental process most frequently avoided by the haters, which permits them a virtually unlimited choice of rationalizations. In regard to judging the emotional responses of others, it is extremely difficult to tell their reasons in a specific case, particularly if it involves complex personal relationships. It is, therefor, in the broad, impersonal field of responses to strangers, to casual acquaintances, to public figures or to events that have no direct bearing on the haters' own lives that one can observe the hatred of the 'good' in pure, unmistakable form.

Its clearest manifestation is the attitude of a person who characteristically resents someone's success, happiness, achievement or good fortune - and experiences pleasure at someone's failure, unhappiness or misfortune. This is pure, "nonvenal" hatred of the 'good' for being the 'good:' the hater has noting to lose or gain in such instances, no practical value at stake, no existential motive, no knowledge except the fact that a human being has succeeded or failed. The expressions of this response are brief, casual, as a rule involuntary.  But if you have seen it, you have seen the naked face of evil.

Do not confuse this response with that of a person who resents someone's unearned success, or feels pleased by someone's deserved failure. These responses are caused by a sense of justice, which is and entirely different phenomenon, and its emotional manifestations are different: in such cases a person expresses indignation, not hatred - or relief, not malicious gloating.


Superficially, the motive of those who hate the good is taken to be envy.  A dictionary definition of envy is: "1. a sense of discontent or jealousy with regard to another's advantages, success, possessions, etc.  2. desire for an advantaged position possessed by another." (The Random House Dictionary, 1968.)  The same dictionary adds the following elucidation:  "To envy is to feel resentful because someone else possesses or has achieved what one wishes oneself to possess or to have achieved."

This covers a great many emotional responses, which come from different motives.  In a certain sense, the second definition is the opposite of the first, and the more innocent of the two.

For example, if a poor man experiences a moment's envy of another man's wealth, the feeling may mean nothing more than a momentary concretization of his desire for wealth; the feeling is not directed against that particular rich person and is concerned with the wealth, not the person.  The feeling, in effect, may amount to: "I wish I had an income (or a house, or a car, or an overcoat) like his."  The result of this feeling may be an added incentive for the man to improve his financial condition.

The feeling is less innocent, if it involves personal resentment and amounts to: "I want to put on a front, like this man." The result is a second-hander who lives beyond his means, struggling to "keep up with the Joneses."

The feeling is still less innocent, if it amounts to: "I want this man's car (or overcoat, or diamond shirt studs, or industrial establishment)." The result is a criminal.

But these are still human beings, in various stages of immorality, compared to the inhuman object whose feeling is: "I hate this man because he is wealthy and I am not."

Envy is part of this creature's feeling, but only the superficial, semirespectable part; it is the tip of an iceberg showing nothing worse than ice, but with the submerged part consisting of a compost of rotting living matter.  The envy, in this case, is semirespectable because it seems to imply a desire for material possessions, which is a human being's desire. But, deep down, the creature has no such desire: it does not want to be rich, it wants the human being to be poor.

This is particularly clear in the much more virulent cases of hatred, masked as envy, for those who possess personal values or virtues: hatred of a man (or a woman) because he (or she) is beautiful or intelligent or successful or honest or happy.  In these cases, the creature has no desire and makes no effort to improve its appearance, to develop or to use its intelligence, to struggle for success, to practice honesty, to be happy (nothing can make it happy).  It knows that the disfigurement or the mental collapse or the failure or the immorality or the misery of its victim would not endow it with his or her value. It does not desire the value: it desires the value's destruction...

... What endows such a creature with a quality of abysmal evil is the fact that it has the awareness of values and is able to recognize them in people. If it were merely amoral, it would be indifferent; it would be unable to distinguish virtues from flaws. But it does distinguish them - and the essential characteristic of its corruption is the fact that its mind's recognition of a value is transmitted to its emotional mechanism as hatred, not as love, desire or admiration. 

Consider the full meaning of this attitude. Values are that which one acts to gain and/ or keep. Values are a necessary of man's survival, and wider of any living organism's survival. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action, and the successful pursuit of values is a precondition of remaining alive. Since nature does not provide a man with an automatic knowledge of the code of values he requires, there are differences in the codes which men accept and the goals they pursue. But consider the abstraction "value," apart from the particular content of any given code, and ask yourself: What is the nature of a creature in which the sight of value arouses hatred and the desire to destroy? In the most profound sense of the term, such a creature is a killer, not a physical, but a metaphysical one - it is not an enemy of your values, but of all values, it is an enemy of anything that enables men to survive, it is an enemy of life as such and of everything living. 

A community of values - of some sort of values - is a necessity of any successful relationship among living beings. If you were training an animal, you would not not hurt it every time it obeyed you. If you were bringing up a child, you would not punish him whenever he acted properly. What relationship can you have with hating creatures, what element do they introduce into social relationships? If you struggle for existence and find success brings you, not approval and appreciation, but hatred, if you strive to be moral and find that your virtue brings you, not the love, but the hatred of your fellow-men, what becomes of your own benevolence? Will you be able to generate or to maintain a feeling of good will toward your fellow-men?

The greatest danger in this issue is men's inability - or worse: unwillingness - to fully identify it.

Evil as the hating creatures are, there is something still more: those who try to appease them.

It is understandable that men might seek to hide their vices from the eyes of people whose judgement they respect. But there are men who hide their virtues from the eyes of monsters. There are men who apologize for their own achievements, deride their own values, debase their own character - for the sake of pleasing those they know to be stupid, corrupt, malicious, evil. An obsequious pandering to the vanity of some alleged superior, such as a king, for the sake of some practical advantage, is bad enough. But pandering to the vanity of one's inferiors - inferior specifically in regard to the value involved - is so shameful an act of treason to one's values that nothing can be left thereafter of the person who commits it, neither intellectually nor morally, and nothing ever is.

If men attempt to play up to those they admire, and fake virtues they do not possess, it is futile, but understandable, if not justifiable. But to fake vices, weaknesses, flaws, disabilities? To shrink one's soul and stature? To play down - or write down, or speak down, or think down?

Observe just one social consequence  of this policy: such appeasers do not hesitate to join some cause or other appealing for mercy; they never raise their voices in the name of justice.

Cowardice is so ignoble an inner state that men struggle to overcome it, in the face of real dangers. The appeaser chooses a state of cowardice where no danger exists. To live in fear is so unworthy a condition that men have died on barricades, defying the tyranny of the mighty. The appeaser chooses to live in chronic fear of the impotent. Men have died in torture chambers, on the stake, in concentration camps, in front of firing squads, rather than renounce their convictions. The appeaser renounces his under pressure of a frown on any vacant face. Men have refused to sell their souls in exchange for fame, fortune, power, even their own lives. The appeaser does not sell his soul: he gives it away for free, getting nothing in return.

The appeaser's usual rationalization is: "I don't want to be disliked." By whom? By the people he dislikes, despises and condemns...

...Do not confuse appeasement with tactfulness or generosity. Appeasement is not consideration for the feelings of others, it is consideration and compliance with the unjust, irrational and evil feelings of others. It is a policy of exempting the emotions of others from moral judgement, and of willingness to sacrifice innocent, virtuous victims to the evil malice of such emotions. 

Tactfulness is consideration extended only to rational feelings. A tactful man does not stress his success or happiness in the presence of those who have suffered failure, loss or unhappiness; not because he suspects them of envy, but because he realizes that the contrast can revive and sharpen their pain. He does not stress his virtues in anyone's presence: he takes for granted that they are recognized. As a rule, a man of achievement does not flaunt his achievements, neither among equals nor inferiors nor superiors; he does not evaluate himself - or others - by a comparative standard. His attitude is not: "I am better than you," but: "I am good."

If, however, he encounters an envious hater who gets huffy, trying to ignore, deny or insult his achievements, he asserts them proudly. In answer ti the hater's stock question: "Who do you think you are?" - he tells them.


It is the pretentious mediocrity - the show-off, the boaster, the snooty posturer - who seeks, not virtue or value, but superiority. A comparative standard is his only guide, which means that he has no standards and that he has a vested interest in reducing others to inferiority. Decent people, properly resent a show-off, but the haters and enviers do not: they recognize him as a soul mate. 

Offensive boasting or self-abasing appeasement is a false alternative. As in all human relationships, the guidelines of proper conduct are: objectivity and justice. But this is not what men are taught or were taught in the past.

"use your head - but don't let anyone know it. Set your goals high - but don't admit it. Be honest - but don't uphold it. Be successful - but hide it. Be great - but act small. Be happy - but God help you if you are!" Such are the moral injunctions we gather from the cultural atmosphere in which e grow up - as men did in the past, throughout history.

The appeasement of evil - of an unknowable, undefinable, inexplicable evil - has been the undertow of mankind's cultural stream all through the ages. In primitive cultures (and even in ancient Greece) the appeasement took the form of the belief that the gods resent human happiness or success because these are the prerogatives of the gods to which men must not aspire. Hence the superstitious fear of acknowledging one's good fortune - as, for instance, the ritual of parents wailing that their newborn son is puny, ugly, worthless, for fear that a demon would harm him if they admitted their happy pride in his health and looks. Observe the contradiction: Why attempt to deceive an omnipotent demon who would be able to judge the infant's value for himself? The intention of the ritual, therefore, is not: "Don't let him know that the infant is good," but: "Don't let him know that you're happy!"

Men create gods - and demons - in their own likeness; mystic fantasies, as a rule, are invented to explain some phenomenon for which men find no explanation. The notion of gods who are so malicious that they wish men to live in chronic misery, would not be conceived or believed unless men sensed all around them the presence of some inexplicable malevolence directed specifically at their personal happiness. 

Are the haters of the good that numerous? No. The actual haters are a small, depraved minority in any age or culture. The spread and perpetuation of this evil are accomplished by those that profiteer on it. 

The profiteers are men with a vested interest in mankind's psychological devastation, who burrow their way into positions of moral-intellectual leadership. They provide the haters with unlimited means of rationalization, dissimulation, excuse and camouflage, including ways of passing of vices for virtues.  They slander, confuse and disarm the victims. Their vested interest is power-lust. Their stock-in-trade is any system of thought or belief aimed at keeping men small. 

Observe the nature of some of mankind's oldest legends.

Why were the men of Babel punished? Because they attempted to build a tower to the sky.

Why did Phaethon perish? Because he attempted to drive a chariot of the sun.

Why was Icarus smashed? Because he attempted to fly.

Why was Arachne transformed into a spider? Because she challenged a goddess to a competition of weaving - and won it.

"Do not aspire - do not venture - do not rise - ambition is self-destruction." drones this ancient chorus through the ages - through all the ages, changing its lyrics, but not its tune - all the way to the Hollywood movies in which the boy who goes to seek a career in the big city becomes a wealthy, but miserable scoundrel, while the small-town boy who stays put wins the girl next door, wins over the glamorous temptress.

There is and was abundant evidence to show that the curse of an overwhelming majority of men is passivity, lethargy and fear, not ambition and audacity. But men's well-being is not the motive of that chorus. 

Toward the end of World War II, newspapers reported the following: when Russian troops moved west and occupied foreign towns, the Soviet authorities automatically executed any person who had a bank account of $100 or a high-school educations; the rest of the inhabitants submitted. This is a physical dramatization of the spiritual policy of mankind's moral-intellectual leaders: destroy the tops, the rest will give up and obey. 

Just as a political dictator needs specially indoctrinated thugs to enforce his orders, so his intellectual road-pavers need them to maintain their power. Their thugs are the haters of the good; the special indoctrination is the morality of altruism.

It is obvious - historically, philosophically and psychologically - that altruism is an inexhaustible source of rationalizations for the most evil motives, the most inhuman actions, the most loathsome emotions. It is not difficult to grasp the meaning of the tenet that the good is an object of sacrifice - and to understand what a blanket damnation of anything living is represented by an undefined accusation of "selfishness." 

But here is a significant phenomenon to observe: the haters and enviers - who are the most vociferous shock troops of altruism - seem to be subconsciously impervious to the altruist criterion of the good. The touchy vanity of these haters - which flares up at any suggestion of their inferiority to a man of virtue - is not aroused by any saint or hero of altruism, whose moral superiority they profess to acknowledge. Nobody envies Albert Schweitzer. Whom do they envy? The man of intelligence, of ability, of achievement, of independence. 

If anyone ever believed (or tried to believe) that the motive of altruism is compassion, that its goal is the relief of human suffering and the elimination of poverty, the state of today's culture now deprives him of any foothold on self-deception. Today, altruism is running amuck, shedding its tattered rationalizations and displaying its soul. 

Altruists are no longer concerned with material wealth, not even with its "redistribution," only with its destruction - but even this is merely a means to an end. Their savage fury is aimed at the destruction of intelligence - of ability, ambition, thought, purpose, justice; the destruction of morality; the destruction of values qua values. 

The last fig leaf of academic pretentiousness is the tag used to disguise this movement: egalitarianism. It does not disguise, but reveals. 

Egalitarianism means the belief in the equality of all men. if the word "equality" is to be taken in any serious or rational sense, the crusade for this belief is dated by about a century or more: the United States of American has made it an anachronism - by establishing a system based on the principle of individual rights. "Equality," in a human context, is a political term: it means equality before the law, the equality of fundamental, inalienable rights which every man possesses by virtue of his birth as a human being, and which may not be infringed or abrogated by manmade institutions, such as titles of nobility or the division of men into castes established by law, with special privileges granted to some and denied by others. The rise of capitalism swept away all the castes, including the institutions of aristocracy and of slavery or serfdom. 

But this is not the meaning that the altruists ascribe to the word "equality." 

They turn the word into an anti-concept: they use it to mean, not political, but metaphysical equality - the equality of personal attributes and virtues, regardless of natural endowment or individual choice, performance and character. it is not man-made institutions, but nature, i.e., reality, that they propose to fight - by means of man-made institutions. 

Since nature does not endow all men with equal beauty or equal intelligence, and the faculty of volition leads men to make different choices, the egalitarians propose to abolish the "unfairness" of nature and of volition, and to establish universal equality in fact - in defiance of facts. Since the Law of Identity is impervious to human manipulation, it is the Law of Causality that they struggle to abrogate. Since personal attributes or virtues cannot be "redistributed," they seek to deprive men of their consequences - of the rewards, the benefits, the achievements created by personal attributes and virtues. 

It is not equality before the law they seek, but inequality: the establishment of an inverted social pyramid, with a new aristocracy at the top - the aristocracy of non-value.

Observe the nature of various methods to used to accomplish this goal.

Since equal pay for unequal performance is to obvious an injustice, the egalitarians solve the problem by forbidding unequal performance. (See the policy of many labor unions.)

Since some men are able to rise faster than others, the egalitarians forbid the concept of "merit" and substitute the concept of "seniority" as the basis of promotions. (See the state of modern railroads.)

Since the expropriation of wealth is a somewhat discredited policy, the egalitarians place limits on the use of wealth and keep shrinking them, thus making wealth inoperative. It is "unfair," they cry, that that only the rich can obtain the best medical care - or the best education - or the best housing - or any commodity in short supply, which should be rationed, not competed for - etc., etc. (See any newspaper editorial.)

Since some women are beautiful and others are not, the egalitarians are fighting to forbid beauty contests and television commercials using glamorous models. (See Women's Lib.) 

Since some students are more intelligent and study more conscientiously than others, the egalitarians abolish the system of grades based on the objective value of a student's scholastic achievement, and substitute for it a system of grading "on a curve" based on a comparative standard: a set of number grades, ranging from A's to failures, is given to each class, regardless of the students' individual performances, with the "distribution" of grades calculated on the relative basis of the collective performance of the class as a whole. Thus a student may get an A or an F for the same work, according to weather he happens to be in a class of morons or child prodigies. No better way could be devised to endow a young man with a vested interest in the inferiority of others and with fear and hatred of their superiority. (See the state of modern education)

Observe the fact that all these methods do not provide the inferiors with any part of the virtues of their superiors, but merely frustrate and paralyze the virtues. What, then, is the common denominator and the basic premise of these methods? Hatred of the good for for being good.

But most of these examples are merely the older and quieter manifestations of a premise which, once introduced into a culture, grows geometrically, pushing the haters forward and creating new haters where none had existed before. Look at today's stampede. 

Pressure-group warfare is an inexorable result of a mixed economy and follows the the course of its philosophical progression: it starts with economic groups and leads to an explosion of anti-intellectual, anti-ideological gang warfare. Anything and everything may serve as  a rallying point for a new pressure group today, provided it is someone's weakness.

Weakness of any sort - intellectual, moral, financial or numerical - is today's standard of value, criterion of rights and claim to privileges. The demand for an institutionalized inequality is voiced openly and belligerently, and the right to a double standard is proclaimed self-righteously. 

Since numerical superiority has a certain value, at least in practical politics, the same collectivists who once upheld the vicious doctrine of unlimited majority rule, now deny the majority - in any given issue -  the special privileges they grant to any group that claims to be a minority.

Racism is an evil and primitive form of collectivism. Today, racism is regarded as a crime if practiced by a majority - but as an inalienable right if practiced by a minority. The notion that one's culture is superior to all others simply because it represents the traditions of one's ancestors, is regarded as chauvinism if claimed by a majority - but as "ethnic" pride if claimed by a minority. Resistance to change and progress is regarded as reactionary if demonstrated by a majority - but retrogression to a Balkan village, to an Indian tepee or to the jungle is hailed if demonstrated by a minority. 

"Tolerance" and "understanding" are regarded as unilateral virtues. In relation to any given minority, we are told, to tolerate and understand the minority's values and customs - while the minority proclaims that its soul is beyond the outsiders' comprehension, that no common ties or bridges exist, that it does not propose to grasp one syllable of the majority's values, customs or culture, and will continue hurling racist epithets (or worse) at the majority's faces. 

Nobody can pretend any longer that the goal of such policies is the elimination of racism - particularly when one observes that the real victims are the better members of these privileged minorities. The self-respecting small home owners and shop owners are the unprotected and undefended victims in every race riot. The minority's members are expected by their egalitarian leaders to remain a passive herd crying for help (which is a precondition of the power to control a pressure group). Those who ignore the threats and struggle to rise through individual effort and achievement are denounced as traitors. Traitors - to what? To a physiological (racial) collective - to the incompetence or unwillingness or lethargy or malingering of others. If the exceptional men are black, they are attacked as "Uncle Toms." But the status of privileged minority is not confined to the blacks, it extends to all racial minorities - on one condition - and some of the most offensive herds are white.

That condition - the deeper issue involved, of greater importance to the egalitarians than mere numerical weakness - is the primitive nature of a given minority's traditions, i.e., its cultural weakness.

It is primitive cultures we are asked to study, to appreciate and to respect - any sort of culture except our own. A piece of pottery copied from generation to generation is held up to us as an achievement - a plastic cup is not. A bearskin is an achievement - synthetic fiber is not. An oxcart is an achievement - an airplane is not. A potion of herbs and snake oil is an achievement - open-heart surgery is not. Stonehenge is an achievement - the Empire State Building is not. Black magic is and achievement - Aristotle's Organon is not. And there is a more repulsive spectacle than a television broadcast presenting, as news, any two-bit group of pretentious, self-conscious adolescents, out of old vaudeville, performing some Slavonic folk dance on a street corner, in the shadow of New York's skyscrapers - I have not discovered it yet. 

Why is Western civilization admonished to admire primitive cultures? Because they are not admirable. Why is a primitive man exhorted to ignore Western achievements? Because they are. Why is the self-expression of a retarded adolescent to be nurtured and acclaimed? Because he has noting to express. Why is the self-expression of a genius to be impeded and ignored? Because he has...

...If there were such a thing as a passion for equality (no equality de jure, but de facto), it would be obvious to its exponents that there are only two ways to achieve it: either by raising all men to the mountaintop - or by razing the mountains. The first method is impossible because it is the faculty of volition that determines a man's stature and actions; but the nearest approach to it was demonstrated by the United States and capitalism, which protected the freedom, the rewards and the incentives for every individual's achievement, each to the extent of his ability and ambition, thus raising the intellectual, moral and economic state of the whole society. The second method is impossible because, if mankind were leveled down to the common denominator of its least competent members, it would not be able to survive (and its best would not choose to survive on such terms). Yet it is the second method that the altruist-egalitarians are pursuing. The greater the evidence of their policy's consequences, i.e., the greater the spread of misery, of injustice, of vicious inequality throughout the world, the more frantic their pursuit - which is one demonstration of the fact that there is no such thing as a benevolent passion for equality and that the claim to it is only a rationalization to cover a passionate hatred of the good for being the good.
                           (To be concluded in our next issue)"

-Ayn Rand. "The Age of Reason", The Objectivist, Vol. 10, Number 7, July 1971.


The next "part" in this series will consist of my critique/ modernization of this essay. Part 3 will conclude the original essay. And Part 4 will be my critique/ modernization of the second half of Rand's essay.

Cheers.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Silly people math and sea level rise

I realize for many people thinking is a burden, and something to be avoided at all costs. That is a shame cuz as a person thinking happens to be one of two things you are designed to do. So whether you are one of those folks that believe in the theory of gravity & evolution, or if you are of the ilk whom feels that everything is just part of a god's plan, or if you have found some other explanation for your life's experiences... It would be fairly difficult to argue that thought is something humans are not supposed to do.

On that note, let's talk Obama's recent inaugural speech's headline topic, Climate Change!

Why does it seem that most discussions of climate change and the effects therein are illustrated in linear models as opposed to the exponential ones that they actually run?

Is it that people don't know the difference between linear and exponential growth? That must be it. Because if predictions about the effects of climate change were discussed in the public forum using the math that they actually behave according to, this country wouldn't need an initiative to move towards renewable energy etc. because we would already be there.

See, whenever I hear some idiot on the gossip stations CNN & FOX News (neither has an investigative journalism department - so you can't really say they are news) talking about climate change they use phrases like "change in X units per unit of Time." that implies a steady linear growth pattern, as the rate of change is  illustrated as a constant.

Take global population for example... that hasn't grown so linearly... that shot up exponentially, and continues to do so... until some limiting factor kicks in...

When discussing climate models in linear terms the dramatic reality of the situation is placated to the point of banality. In reality, the worse things get, the faster they get worse. For example, as the world warms, the faster ice will melt, increasing the rate of warming, thus increasing the rate at which ice will melt.

This seems to me to be so self-evident that it mystifies me as to why anyone would try to use a delusional and erroneous explanation like linear models...

By discussing climate change in a "less scary" manner, how does that foster a call to action better than the more dramatic reality?

Sea levels will not continue to rise at a steady rate. Using purely hypothetical numbers, sea levels will not rise at a constant 1cm a year... it may be 1cm the "first" year, but it is more likely that by the "fifth" year that rate will have increased to 2cm. By year "10," that rate of rise will have grown to 4cm, and by year "15" it would be 8cm a year... and so on?

So if you had a kid today, by the time your kid has had one of their own sea rise would be measured in meters per year as opposed to centimeters... That is a situation that I hope would be more compelling to stir action now... cuz if you use the math I just used as an example, Sea levels would have already risen a meter or so by the time they are rising at half a meter a year. Once you get to that point, people won't be able to move out of costal cities fast enough, there wont be enough inland infrastructure to support that population migration.

Compare the number of cities on or near the coast to those inland. If the tides crest at 30ft higher in 30 years... is that enough time to build enough housing and industry to support the populations of Boston, New York, Philly, D.C., Norfolk, Charleston, Jacksonville, & Miami... just to name a few major cities on the just Atlantic coast of just North America?

The last time atmospheric carbon was at 400ppm the sea level was about 75 ft higher... and don't be all "So, it's not like that now..." Give ol' mother Earth a few years, she's a lot older than you and moves a little slower, she's got to catch up to the hurt we've already done... Geologic time moves in anything but a New York minute.

Just sayin'.

One storm this past year shut down NYC for a week, already...

And according to the NY Times today, if both poles melt that would raise the water by over 200 ft. If you live near the ocean, go to a place where you can see the water. Then imagine what your town would look like with the waves lapping over the top of the nearest 11 story building... do you want your kids to be living in that place? Well, bust out the SCUBA gear cuz that's exponential growth for ya.



Thursday, January 17, 2013

part of the challenge

I suppose there really are no answers. You can ask why it seems that no one to care... Sure any one individual cares about one thing or another at any given moment... but what the hell? What about tomorrow? Or a bit longer than that?
Yeah, people get into school, or a job, or a relationship?

And that's all well and good... but why do these things?
Well, specifically?

What's the end goal?

Food? Money? Fame? Some land or a house? Some illusion of security?

Maybe it's just to form some type of meaningful connection. If one honestly disbelieves in the reality and laws of matter, I suppose one can form a meaningful and lasting connection with some stuff, such as a car, or furniture, or a house...

... a piece of art, one could argue, is slightly different... but only slightly, because when does art stop? at the doors of a museum? a design store? the desk of an architect? the bench of a craftsman? the cutting board of a chef?...

what about a meaningful connection with a living thing?  "Man's best friend?" a rodent? a fish, or hermit crab? a sea monkey?...

What about a plant? People cart around plants for years... some are even considered sacred...

But dogs and plants and everything in-between are shit for conversation... I suppose it is possible to teach a gorilla to sign... but that's hardly a practical companion.

So that would then leave us with other people... just fucking foolish, greedy, short-sighted other people...

...people aren't all that bad, most of them just seem to have no idea who they are... or how vast they they are… or why they are doing whatever it is that they are working towards… or even what they are working so hard for...

...the one's that seem to actually understand how many things they are at once are the interesting ones, the problem is that a good chunk of those people also seem to struggle with their self-competing natures, which can make them not so easy to get close to, for a long run...

deep down I like people conceptually, but they're really frustrating. it's not easy to try and help those that are so feverishly and blindly trying to destroy themselves… nor is it easy to get people to change directions, and to fight for something thats too big for most of them to see...


truck culture

what's with "truck culture" in this country?

granted there is always the phrase of phallic insecurity, "the lager the truck the smaller the dick." but how small is a small dick? and how come there seem to be so many?

after all, only a poor workman blames his tool(s)… to the skilled craftsman a screwdriver is a screwdriver, regardless of its age or size - if it still functions, it can get the job done...


but besides that, what's the point of an extended cab double wide v-8?

how many of these owners actually use the combination of towing capacity and off-road capability to the limit of which is advertised?

sure there is the socially constructed perception of re-sale value…

but why the need to buy a new truck every few years?

If a $1000, 15 yr old, 4 cylinder, real wheel drive, oriental pick-up that gets 25 MPG can haul the same 600 lbs of tools and supplies from Home Depot to the job site just as well $50,000, brand new, 8 cylinder, AWD, Detroit made (from mostly now Chinese manufactured parts), that gets 9 MPG… what the fuck is the point of the latter?


Ahhh, yes the old American standard of expenditure over efficiency. I don't mean efficiency in the sense of how fast something can be constructed but how something can be made in the most sustainable way - the least overall input (initial cost & lifetime cost - fuel, repair, etc) balanced by the greatest overall output (longevity, durability as well as functionality)…

Someday I hope that arithmetic will be taught in our schools, but until then we will have to suffer from raccoon logic - grab onto the shiniest thing you see and never let go.



Monday, January 14, 2013

something, something, something, tube monkeys

There is a rather ridiculous saying that goes something like; "if you took 1000 monkeys and gave them 1000 typewriters & 1000 years, they would be able to write all the works of Shakespeare."

Obviously whoever penned that (and those that repeat it in earnest) have never tried to write anything of poetic, moral, and witty substance, nor grasp the fundamentals of statistical analysis, nor have ever given any thought to how a monkey and a typewriter would logically interact.

Given the 1000 etc. scenario, I would imagine the most likely outcome would be closer to prime time programming on FOX, TBS, WGN, UPN, MTV or the WB. Or a pile of plastic & metal parts, confetti and 150 or so ink covered monkeys - primates tend to be rather irrationally violent creatures, all the more so as the size of their respective brains increase. In short, the standards to which programming in this country aspire to make monkeys of us all.

Ever tried to watch a "documentary" on DISC or NAT GEO? Well, here's something you should try next time you do... In the 22 or 45 minutes of actual programming, make three tally lists. The first will be a tally of how many times the announcer (or voice over, whatever) repeats in one or two sentences what the program is about on the most basic level, i.e. "we now return to the search for ____." The second list will tally the number of times the basic thesis of the documentary, i.e. "The search for ____ is difficult because; ______ happened 1200 years ago, is under 3000 ft of water, and requires some modern scientific - whatever." The final tally will be a list of separate, and valid, items of information or knowledge, like this was a ship belonging to so-and-so of the Persian Empire, or this ship design was groundbreaking as it used a new type of sail which enabled _____."

Sadly the first tally will almost always (in my experience) be the longest, and the third the shortest. And this is educational TV!

No one might say, "Hey, but why do you focus on TV and not books, or lectures by academics?"

Well, considering the evolution of technology and its increasing integration into our lives we need a more efficient way to combine & compress data streams, which means using audio, pictorial and textual  information in as interwoven a form as possible... such as showing a graph of statistics along with a picture or image while there is some sort of monologue explaining whats going on that all happen simultaneously, in the interest of efficiency. Sound like a documentary on TV, just a bit? It's the present, not the future. The next step will most likely add some kinetic elements, as well as feedback or participation from the viewer.

The flip-side of this trend appears to be the current one. Lots of pointless repetition (I would assume that after two or three minutes, most folks haven't forgotten that they are watching a show about a ship of antiquity), very little actual substance (that third tally) or really meaningless topics (like who would win in a fight; a tiger or a lion - thinking of the DISC show "VS." or some equally retarded name/ premise).

The "boob tube" is omnipresent in society, especially when it is the most affordable type of childcare available to many parents. That's a shame, as it's most honest moniker is the "idiot box." 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Save our Veterans, save our nation

There are many issues and aspects of the current state of America that can only be labeled as Totally Fucked-Up; our military being one of the larger, more costly and problematic of these.

Now the industrial military complex could be lambasted at endless length, and it could be conceivably used for helping people. And that's what I'm concerned about right here and now, the human element of the United States Military.

It's no secret that those who have served, especially in combat situations, can often have a difficult experience returning to what is dubbed as "civilian life." This is also extremely easy to see why. The thing that boggles my mind is why it seems that nobody wants to tackle this obvious issue in a rational, productive way.

Okay, first... before we just start tossing possible solutions like "just throw more money at the V.A. system," it is important to look at what has happened here. I would also like to add that I have never been in any form of service. I have only known several people of various ages, genders, generations and levels of service and number of tours. I understand that there is a historical argument for the military and so on and so on, but it can really mess people up.

Why is that? Well, let's start at boot camp. Boot camp, as I understand, is far more psychological than physical. Yes, a degree of physical fitness is required... but that's the easy part. The mental conditioning that occurs is the real key. The idea is that you have to break a motherfucker down into all the little pieces of him or herself, then select only the parts you want to keep, and build the machine you desire  by assembling and reinforcing only the bits best suited to preform the task you want it to. Endless repetitive drills, extreme situations, pushing the body to limits so the mind reassembles itself to function in new ways akin to a level of autopilot, but within the strict parameters set by sergeants and military code, as well as to function - not as an individual, rather as part of a larger whole, to be interdependent with the group, the team. And I will try and not call a spade a spade and refrain from using the "ugly" term of brainwashing. Instead, I will bite my tongue and use the more politically correct lexicon conditioning. 

So, now that you have this well oiled and conditioned group of human machines, who (unless they have grown up in the poorest sections of our biggest cities) have not even the faintest concept of life an active war zone. So now you pile on the fear. And the uncertainty. Now these are the least desirable mental states of being alive... Why else would the be an insurance industry?

And for the entire length of a term (however long that is these days??? 6 months? a year? two? four?) The only protections the individual mind has from constant uncertainty and fear are it's fellow soldiers and routine... granted there are "breaks;" phone calls, letters, down time, shenanigans, leave, etc... but it's not really a "break" because the rest of the team isn't there, the war is still going on, the enemy is still out there...

Add to this madness the insanity of telling these soldiers that despite being trained to fight and kill, they are on a humanitarian mission. Which is not to say that there is no positive to that, especially to the individual, but it does seem like an awful contradiction to wrestle with. Especially so when you factor in what is being referred to now as "green-on-blue." I don't remember if there was a catchy name for it during the Vietnam War, but the concept is nothing new, being attacked but the people you are on a mission to help.

So boot camp sucks and war is hell, well hooray! your papers came through and you're shipping home! That's it. Maybe a little debriefing along the way but fuck you if you think anyone is gonna take the time to do any sort of transition much less and deprogramming... To the best of my knowledge you basically just get dumped back into that thing called "civilian life..."

Wouldn't it be nice if there could be some sort of option for a transitional program? If there was just some way that these men and women could have the choice to join some sort of "domestic" unit, where they could still have the structure and stability and camaraderie that they were surrounded by and dependent on for the past however long... What if there was a job to do that was both physical, necessary, and could provide that same sense of purpose as nation building?

Oh, how about nation building? I can think of a place close to home that needs a ton of work which would be ideal for a skilled and efficient team... AMERICA! It's no secret that most of this country's infrastructure is in disrepair... and needs some serious upgrading... Waterways, bridges, the energy sector, these are all in need of replacement!!! Now, this is not meant as a jab at service men and women, but rather a practical option for everyone. These are hard jobs for all levels of skilled workers. The option to work with other soldiers at a task that requires the drive and skill of a military unit, and at the end of the day or on weekends they can return to home... there is minimal risk for the individuals involved (no one would be trying to shoot or bomb them)... they can earn a good wage for a day's worth of work... and the country that is collapsing out from underneath itself gets rebuilt... it's a win-win for everyone... that's something I could justify defense spending for... make levees, not war/ build bridges not bombs... that kind of thing...

Just a thought.




Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Oh, Afghanistan


The United States' relationship with the nation of Afghanistan is a complicated maze of plausible deniability, conveniently applicable amnesia, two-faced policies, and political dick swinging. Oh, and blatant lies. 

Now, as I have mentioned before, political memory is only about 30 years so it is no wonder to me that very few Americans have any idea what their country is doing over there in the first place. 

I'll give you a hint. A few things happened about 50 years ago.

Fifty years ago the Foreign Assistance Act of 1962 is signed by J.F.K. This officially starts the U.S.'s involvement in Vietnam, and operation Ranch Hand is launched roughly two months later. 

But wait, what-the-fuck does Vietnam have to do with Afghanistan? 

Two things; Communism & Heroin. (Click for appropriate music: "Last Dance")

The Foreign Assistance Act of '62, "provides '...military assistance to countries which are on the rim of the Communist world and under direct attack.'" (Wikipedia) This not only opened the door for military operations in Vietnam, but also for assistance in training and supplying the Mujahidin, starting in 1980.
But we must back up here, much happened before 1980 to lead to the U.S.'s official involvement in the Afghan region...

Communism and Heroin are near inseparable when it comes to military actions in the third quarter of the 20th century... Heroin trade (generally backed by the CIA) funded many localized anti-Communist insurgent groups. The Democratic fight against Communism is a total fucking junkie.

History and example time... The oriental area of production of the 1900's via The French Connection was disrupted to the point of collapse by the rise to power of the communist party in China in the 1940's and trade between Asian markets and the U.S. ended completely as a result of trans-pacific trade collapsing due to the war against Japan in the 40's. A double whammy in the same decade to all the U.S. junkies thanks to Communism and Imperialism... 

So after WWII, the Sicilians took over for a while...  but where to grow those damn poppies? What was relatively close to Sicily's manufacturing labs? Oh yeah, the area later to be referred to as the Golden Crescent. 
'Sup Afghanistan? You guys already grow this stuff, have an established trade route west, why not make bank by turning it into an even bigger export product?

Now, with the massive Asian proliferation of Communism following Stalinist Russia's defeat of Hitler in '45, (yup, they broke the Nazis, we (the U.S.) just kept them from defeating Britain and held them from capturing Africa and the entire Atlantic... no small feat, but hardly a 'victory.' We did kick the shit out of the Japanese Empire though. Russia just kept Japan out of their own back yard.) America's hard-on for hating the Communist threat of the 1930's was re-fluffed. 

So first, the worlds greatest illegal drug-dealing operation headed to Indochina to trade guns & tactics for smack. And in the 60's and 70's the CIA helped establish the Golden Triangle in Burma, Laos, Thailand, & Vietnam with anti-Communist Chinese Nationalists... Meanwhile....

...In the same area, a little "hot" conflict was escalating in which the U.S. was busy poisoning and bombing the countryside to halt the advance of an idea of government south of the 17th parallel. This, led to hundreds of thousands of American G.I.'s fighting a long and arguably pointless war... and as the troops were stuck there some found out that when the pain and senselessness is too much to bare, sometime booze and grass just don't cut the mustard, however, there was something a bit stronger being manufactured in those dense jungles... Heroin. 

And they brought their habitual chemical coping mechanism, being used to fund the shadow versions of the same fight that led them to have to cope in the first place, back to the States with them... Where the best local suppliers were usually getting it from two sources... Folks like Frank Lucas who were getting their dope from the Golden Triangle or the Mafia who were getting theirs from the Golden Crescent...

Now, a few years later, in 72, this hard drinkin' good livin' SOB of a Texan was elected as the 2nd District Representative to the House. Now it just so happens that I consider this man to have one of the truest moral compasses of government. To his credit are legislations such as The Safe Drinking Water Act, he fought to raise minimum wage, increase Medicare and Medicaid, for Veterans' rights, and he was pro-choice. Considering the base of his constituency was both women and African-Americans, Charlie Wilson was a legitimate defender of the "little guy." 

It was same moral conscious that led him, in 1980, to use his pull as a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense to allocate support for the Mujahidin so that they could fight the Soviet occupation of their homeland, Afghanistan. Over the 80's Congressman Wilson helped reallocate hundreds of millions of dollars to train and arm these "rebels" in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And with U.S. aid these fighters were able to integrate the technologically superior small arms with a hundreds of years old history of guerrilla fighting on native soil to bring the Soviet forces to a standstill, and ultimately crippling the U.S.S.R. finically (not that they were the only source of financial ruin, but you can see the parallel I'm making here to a similar war waged on an idea, say, terrorism).  

So with Perestroika and the fall of the U.S.S.R., the legitimate "threat" of Communism was all but wiped of the face of the planet (sorry China, but you're such a mess that you were never much of a military threat... until lately). So, with Reagan's all but gift-wrapped & handed victory there... It was time to pick a new fight... but Communism was too politically identifiable a conceptual threat... Hmmm what did we have a ton of experience building and could arbitrarily "fight" for the sake of the military-industrial complex? Oh shit! Remember Republican U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin? Now there is a guy who can pick a fucked-up fight, he gave us the Red Scare... Let's take another from his playbook, Marijuana, er; no… let’s just say DRUGS!!!

<< Never mind that we get our medicines from a place called a "drug store," if we fear monger enough, loudly and passionately enough the general God fearing American is so gullible that they will totally buy it! No all we need is a sick catch phrase... "Just Say No!" Bam. Packaged and sold... South America, Middle East here we come...>>

Combined with the lingering terror of a dictatorial state, the U.S. now had two fights that they could secretly back in order to combat each other... 
...And add to that the largest known reserves of this nations true junkie fix... the new shadow wars were on!!!

So, the 70's, 80's, & 90's were spent wrapping up the Cold War and fighting Communism wherever we could find it, so we could install "friendly" dictators of our own. Who, in turn for the rule of a nation would keep the supply of oil flowing cheaply into our auto-mated veins... and when the Communist "threat" was in undeniable decline, the enemy of "drugs" was the next best scapegoat for our democratic, "peace"-loving brand of capitalist imperialism. 

Now, I feel I should take a moment here. I am not opposed to this "democratic, "peace"-loving brand of capitalist imperialism," I just wish as the clear winners here we had enough balls to not have to lie to ourselves about this. It is the nature of living things, competition for resources. May the most intelligent, devious, underhanded bastard win! As Bill said, "The pen is mightier than the sword." But on occasion it does help to just shank a motherfucker in the gut and just have the discussion be over with. But I digress.

Back to the point... With the Internets and subsequent technology boom of the 90's added to the freewheeling "I didn't inhale" style of Slick Willie's the war on drugs could focus on the real bad guys; Coke & Heroin. So, off to the jungles of South America (where we were already) and to the western steppes of the Himalayas... 

Now if there is one thing that history has taught the western world it is that no matter how big and hot and strong you think you are... DON'T FUCK WITH AFGHANISTAN! Every dumb cunt that has attacked and invaded those people since the 6th century has been whipped, beaten, and humiliatingly been sent home with what little of their tail remains tucked around their sore and bleeding balls! Come on!!! 

I was 15 and stoned out of my mind when I first heard about the strikes to eradicate the poppy fields and change the government there, and even at that time I could've told you, dumb fucking idea guys... So, three years later - still stoned - it came as no surprise that some extremists got pissed enough to say "fuck you" back and used the training we gave them to fly a few planes into a few buildings... but then again, considering the evidence it was just another Pearl Harbor all over again... oops, digressing again...

So when ex-Generals like Stanley McChrysal say that the U.S. has only been in Afghanistan since 2001, they either don't know the history of the very conflict that they have been involved with for the past decade, or they have a political gun to their head to shut-the-fuck-up and spin this shit proper.

~Why can't I get a job with these idiots? I want health care too.~

We didn't win anything there. Just a bunch of shame, thousands of seriously disturbed young men who have been brainwashed through the rigors of military service (the number one complaint of vets trying to reintegrate to civilian service is that they cannot function without the "camaraderie" of the service, plus PTSD), oh, and a huge financial bill we cannot pay. We're still the number one consumer of drugs in the world, we just found a dealer much closer to home, Mexico. No people or religion we have demonized and oppressed hates us any less. And the bulk of the people in this country still have no clear idea about anything as their main sources of information come from one of two packs of mercilessly masturbatory lying fools. When we leave Afghanistan in 2014, very little over there will have changed, but here all we did was lose ground to stand on.