Saturday, December 22, 2007
If The Trinity was altered thusly I would find myself saying, "At least they're honest about their cartoon hero worship."
Not that I'd respect your faith anymore than I do now, but it would at least have a decent internal consistency.
This vision is a grand synthesis that borders on the sublime. Like good art it inspires those who come in contact with it and as my gift to you, I'll share my inspiration with you.
When I first looked at this picture, I thought, "Wow, now that is a new low." Then I thought, "no... it actually makes perfect sense". Our society IS fueled by rote consumerism, a veneer of bootstrapped, externally enforced morality and the idea that our truth, justice and American way is mighty and invulnerable.
Then I noticed what this tripartite 'sun' was presiding over, a cemetery, and I was in love. The symbolism kicks you in the head like a donkey filled shotgun.
Let me give it to you:
The 'sun' of empty materialism, moralism and might cannot sustain the human race. If we continue to lay prostrate before our sun god, we shall come to enjoy the fruit of our devotion...
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
In his second chapter, The Psychopathic School, he gives a list of traits that all his students have, it's obviously meant to provoke rage and/or outrage, but I decided to answer it as if I took it seriously and he would read my response...
I suppose I can only answer what has been written about me by you, Mr. Gatto.
Namely that I was:
1. indifferent to the adult world
2. lacking in curiosity
3. possessed of a poor sense of the future
5. cruel to my contemporaries
6. uneasy with intimacy or candor
8. dependent, passive and timid in the presence of new challenges
That’s a lot of name calling. I guess it was done as bait for responses. This tactic has failed in my case. Even though I find myself writing this, it is not truly of my own volition, I’m doing it to get a grade, so that I might end the cycle of debt in which I find myself firmly ensconced.
The reason that your invective couldn’t snare me is because of the sheer percentage of its inaccuracy. Applying those “standards” to myself, your aim doesn’t even compare favorably to blind fire. I’ll go through this with you step by step.
I was not indifferent to the adult world. As a child entering my K-12 experience in 1979, in Buffalo, N.Y. where the death of the steel industry meant that my father was “paying” our way by racking up obscene credit card debt while working at a car wash. I often intercepted the mail and pondered the same question I ask myself today, “Where is the money going to come from”? This happened so often that my mother took to hiding the mail from me, and netted me my first memorable lecture about how I should enjoy my childhood, and not be in a hurry to “grow up”. This was by no means the last lecture I would receive in that area, and like many other adults, there are many times that I wished I had followed their advice.
Had I been any curiouser, I doubt I would be writing this right now. In the seconds I took typing that sentence I thought of at least five near death experiences I had indulging my curiosity. Sure, you want an example, ok: I’m 12 or 13 and I’m on my first paper route and the street is adjacent to the Kensington expressway, and across from some sort of contractor supply store. I go across the street and amongst the trash and surplus castoffs I find a good amount of thick twine. I am amazed at how strong the stuff is, I pull, prod, bash, saw, and otherwise test it’s endurance to the limits of my abilities. But I’m frustrated by the pitiful amount of stress I can generate with my human body. Suddenly as if hit by a bolt of inspiration, I realize that tons of destructive potential were yards away from… the express way! All I had to do is lash the twine back and froth from the guard rail to the median and back, and I could see how many ‘loops’ I had to make to significantly alter traffic, brilliant! All I had to do is scale 18 foot embankment and time the highway speed traffic. Oh, I’d need both my hands for climbing, so in order to transport the twine to the top, I’d have to wrap it around my waist. I get to the top, avoid getting hit by any cars, and I made one loop. Eagerly awaiting a car I ran across the street to get a vantage point and the first car snapped the twine as if it wasn’t there. I repeated the experiment as I designed it, went back and did two, then three, then four loops with the same result. I think it was when I got to six or seven back and fort loops that I finally had my breakthrough… of stupidity. I was standing across the street admiring my handiwork, when finally a car that hit the twine slowed down noticeably. Unfortunately for me, in my excitement to climb down, and get to my viewing post, I had forgot to unwrap the residual twine from around my waist and the car didn’t break all the twine, it was being dragged, and as the excess line soon payed out, so was I. Across the street on my belly slamming into the wall, I was dragged straight up and over the lip, headfirst towards the ONCOMING TRAFFIC ON THE EXPRESSWAY. I was thinking, “this is going to be such a stupid way to die”, when about 18 inches, no more than two feet from the pavement with it’s accompanying high speed traffic, the twine finally snapped.
I think it is impossible to have a poor sense of the future when you and everyone you know are constantly saving for something. I actually think that is the difference between the lowest part of the middle class and the lower class; that hope and expectation that there is better to be had or earned. So, we were saving for school portraits or the camping trip, or whatever; you knew your actions today affected your opportunities tomorrow.
I don’t know how much a child below a certain threshold of understanding is supposed to sense or even know past predetermination. I do know that if you grew up as a minority, you were made painfully aware of the role the past played in your life. Why don’t I look like the white kids at school…Because their ancestors were too lazy to work for themselves… Where did all the Indians go…Their ancestors were killed by the same people who didn’t have time to work for themselves… Why did Amy’s parents tell her she couldn’t play with me anymore…Because they’re scared she might like you… Why can’t she like me, I like her, what’s wrong with that…Nothing's wrong with that, or you, something’s wrong with them. That last one is a question/response I went through in kindergarten.
All children are cruel to the extent that they are honestly competitive and honestly opinionated. Kids call spades, spades. They’ll tell you that you’re dirty, or that you smell ‘funny’, or that you wore those pants yesterday. If part of being civilized is knowing when to lie, then kids aren’t fully civilized. It’s learned behavior, and learning takes time. They’re minors and should have that level of responsibility.
As with the last charge, I’m not going to refute this one, but say that I do think children are candid (see my previous answer). As far as intimacy, I think true intimacy can only be achieved by post pubescent minds, once again, children aren’t fully civilized. Honestly, childhood is filled with seemingly arbitrary relationships for reasons that you poorly understand (go to school, go to church, go to ‘place X’... Why? ), the only people you could be said to have any intimacy with are your parents but since children don’t even see their parents as people but as immutable forces of nature, even that doesn’t count.
Materialism, like any behavior, is learned behavior. It is also simple behavior rooted in a simple concept, more. This means that it is easy to understand and copy, making it prime material for early adoption by developing minds. The problem isn’t learning materialism from society (it’s a sign of a good mind that can adapt to where it lives), but from not being taught that is primitive and not the ‘be all/end all’. Once again my background didn’t allow me to have a lot of things. This didn’t stop me from wanting lots of things. Oddly enough it was a TV show that my mother liked that soured me on the whole idea of acquisition for acquisition’s sake – Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. I would look at the diamond encrusted gold dog bowls, and think about how many months of rent that could pay or pencils it could buy, and think the dog doesn’t care as long as it gets fed, then I turned that thought on myself. It doesn’t matter what brand, as long as it performs the function it’s supposed to, and if I know the information, why does your opinion of my depth of knowledge matter (what letter you’ve decided to grade me)?
Timid, passive and dependent… Nah, wrong again John. You didn’t have time to be timid. Kids are competitive, remember? You didn’t want to be the last person to ‘get’ something, or you would’ve been exposed to some of that ‘cruelty’ that abounds within our hallowed halls for being ‘slow’. Passive and dependent can take the same hike – textbook completion. I always read ahead in the textbook, because I wanted to know more; that can’t be dependent, because that’s independent behavior. For the same reason it can’t be passive, because I was actively reading ahead into unassigned material with no prompting or even a syllabus telling me that I was going to need to read chapter whatever by some date.
This leads me to say that I wasn’t alienated at all, in any way that I felt was important at the time. In retrospect, I was alienated from the adults in the various schools I went to, not from myself or my contemporaries, or even the older or younger students. I think it’s funny because the reason I was alienated from my instructors (for the most part, there were a few good ones) was that they never asked for my input. All the instructors that I remember fondly are the ones who spoke to me and not at me. The teachers who correctly assumed I had a functional brain and that I might be interested in exercising it on occasion while in a place of learning.
My final topic is differentiation. I think any teacher worth the title can divide their classes into zones of aptitude. I experienced it in most of my K-12 career. The problem is what the teachers do, or even what they can do with that information. It seems that nowadays if you even have the appearance of unevenhandedness you’ll be crucified on the cross of the cookie cutter. Everyone knows that everyone isn’t the same, so you are going to have differences everywhere, even in the classroom. If Johnny consistently earns a C while Billy consistently earns an A that doesn’t mean that the teacher is mean or unfair, but societal pressure make it seem like that is the case. So the teacher has to go through this charade of equal treatment when it’s obvious that the two students need to be treated differently. The teacher, under considerable pressure not only to give grades, but give good grades while teaching only one curriculum can either fudge Johnny’s grades or fudge the whole course so that Johnny can earn at least a B. I can’t imagine a large number of teachers opting for the first option, but I do blame the latter option for some of our nation’s educational ineptitude.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Hey, at least he bought the gun legally... right?
Of course he then proceeded to use it at school after posting to the internet at least twice what he might do with said firearm...
I'll leave it to y'all to go through the convoluted gun control vs. probable cause debate.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I personally find it hard to believe that people who often act against the common good themselves are capable of creating, executing, and judging rules that are supposed to enrich and sustain the common good.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Saturday, September 22, 2007
I'm not going to (re)(umpteenth)-tread the 'U.S. public as frog', 'insidious forces that are eroding our "inalienable rights" as boiling water' analogy, it's been done to death and really, Doin' it to Death is the purview of James Brown.
"But you said we were the frog, now you're not going to speak on that? Where is our 'funky good time'?"
There is no frog. A lot of people have heard of the frog, people use the frog to get still more people to agree with them about certain issues, and the frog gets a new group of people to disseminate it into yet more minds. But the frog is a story that's false. That is why we're the frog.
There is no us (or U.S.). A lot of people have heard of us, people use us to get still more people to agree with them about certain issues, and we get a new group of people to disseminate us into yet more minds. But we're a story that's false.
Go back to school (no, really, go learn more; but for now, keep reading) in your mind. Hopefully around the sixth grade and through the rest of grade school (12th grade) you started learning how the U.S. government works. For this section I'm not going back before sixth grade because the 'information' you receive prior can essentially be boiled down to 'we kick ass' and 'we're the good guys'. You start learning about the three branches of government, separation of powers, bicameral legislature, The Declaration of Independence, The U.S. Constitution, etc... The further you go the more technical the analysis becomes. At some point you get into the Supreme Court cases, you hold mock trials. If you're really fortunate you have class projects that require you to construct a new government and write a new Constitution.
These activities really impress upon you the scope and vision of the people who encoded our laws. They also leave you with a positive feeling that gives you a pseudo-logical reason for accepting your pre-sixth grade conditioning.
Then you are exposed to how our government works in real life. Hopefully you found it abhorrent. I know I thought, "What happened to the graceful execution of reasoned judgment and conflict resolution, or the sense of the historical ramifications of action or inaction?"
On the one hand you have what you've been taught and what you've learned about us, on the other you have what you see us doing.
On the one hand you have the frog that stays in the pot to die, on the other hand you have the frog that jumps out no matter how gradually you heat the water.
Not quite the same image, huh?
Our progenitors were not deific paragons of perfection, they: kept human slaves, actively or passively committed genocide, allowed the robber barons to defraud their way into wealth, and a host of other crimes great and small. Yet, whenever we were at our most tawdry and tarnished, there always seemed to be some person or process that buffed us back into some semblance of luster. Can you imagine the 10th congress spending their time as the 110th congress does?
We might be out of polish.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
We are given this ‘wisdom’ from an early age in the form of admonishments such as: “if you don’t have anything nice to say, keep it to yourself”, “I’m not going to argue this with you”, “don’t waste your time with them because they don’t understand”, etc…
This variety of politeness is poisonous. It retards the development of two important life skills: the ability to discover the truth (or at least some reasonable facsimile) through group and/or co-examination of data, and social reconciliation/tolerance/understanding of those who don’t mimic you exactly (you will find this group includes every other human).
What kind of society can you build with a population of socially retarded social primates? A broken one. What kind of government will such a society have? A broken one.
If you never learn how to disagree, you never learn how to compromise. If you never learn how to compromise, then you, by default, live in a, “my way or the highway”, totalitarian reality. We’ve previously visited the polarized mindset so I’ll not repeat that. I’ll just ask, if you live in a totalitarian reality, how could you let anyone else live any other way? You can’t. You’ll either vote for people who represent your totalitarian views, or, if you’re FORTUNE(ate) [yeah I’m saying if you’re wealthy enough] to be in a position to actually dictate policy, you’ll attempt to make manifest your totalitarian reality.
While that concept doesn’t fit your image of a democracy, a republic, or even a democratic republic, I bet it does fit various Democratic and/or Republican agendas you’ve witnessed and experienced.
Now, ask yourself again why our legislature (really our government as a whole) can continuously fail to enact even the simplest and most obvious courses of positive action.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
TEN THINGS I LIKE ABOUT ME:
Friday, August 17, 2007
Stop reading this. I'm anti-semetic.
anti- or ant-
1. Opposite: antimere.
2. Opposing; against: antiapartheid.
3. Counteracting; neutralizing: antacid.
4. Destroying: antiaircraft.
5. Inverse: antilogarithm.
6. Displaying opposite characteristics: antihero.
1. Inverse: antilogarithm.
2. Displaying opposite characteristics: antihero.
1. Of or relating to the Semites or their languages or cultures.
2. Of, relating to, or constituting a subgroup of the Afro-Asiatic language group that includes Arabic, Hebrew, Amharic, and Aramaic.
1. The Semitic languages.
2. Any one of the Semitic languages.
Wait, I'm African, Yemeni and Saudi (as well as whatever else), and I LOVE me (and was in love with some other fellow Semites). I guess I'm pro-semetic.
1. Acting in the place of; substituting for: proform.
2. Supporting; favoring: prorevolutionary.
Too bad, no easy pigeonholing here. I tell you what I am though. I'm anti-asshole.
Let's go for this quote:
“The Americans demanded from Sharon contiguity for a Palestinian state,” said Shaul Arieli, a reserve colonel in the army who participated in the 2000 Camp David negotiations and specializes in maps. “This road was Sharon’s answer, to build a road for Palestinians between Ramallah and Bethlehem but not to Jerusalem. This was how to connect the West Bank while keeping Jerusalem united and not giving Palestinians any blanket permission to enter East Jerusalem.”
I'll take unmitigated gall for $400 Alex. Blanket permission? I'm seriously laughing at the multifaceted absurdness of that statement. The sheer incredulity it causes would destroy a sublimely logical mind. It takes a lesser (as the Architect would say) mind to really savor the reality dissonance that quote contains. I, luckily, am made of sterner stuff (I can neither confirm nor deny the the five minutes of seemingly lost time nor the puddle of drool next to my keyboard directly after I read that quote).
As a service to Americans everywhere I shall describe this via (everybody's favorite!) an automobile analogy.
It would be like the person who carjacked you being forced by the corrupt beat cop to give you a ride to somewhere that was already on the carjacker's path of travel AND listen to him complain about it while trying to avoid taking you at all, then having him drop you off six miles away from your destination because, "...hey, it's better than nothing".
I mean it would make sense if it were possible to get 500+ years of hero worship out of decimating TWO CONTINENTS worth of indigenous peoples... oh, um... hold up;
what I meant was if you could be lauded for you peace efforts because you sat down with a bunch of people and divided up land you didn't own so you wouldn't kill each other while pillaging said territories... uh, no;
well I could see if the wisdom that declared that all mankind had certain inalienable rights also decided to to place the capital of this new country in a region that claimed that certain people were in fact not people (although this region [and pretty much the populace of the whole country] was agrarian enough to know the relationship between a horse, donkey and mule), but paradoxically pierced their own deception enough to demand that these non people be given partial (3/5) voting status... wait... damnit...
...then shit, I've got nothin'. Maybe we should cut Israel some slack.
This is how the pitch conversation should have gone:
Let me get this straight. You are having problems with student performance and student integration. Well we need to fix that. What? You've got it? A solution? Good! What is it? You want the kids to pick a major? What the fuck does that have to do with the fucking problem?! Get out of my office before I shoot you in the face with a brick gun.
Haven't I already visited the education issue? Well actually, yes. Good, I can skip the background and get right to the point. I thank my stupidly broad and seemingly useless base of knowledge everyday. Why? Because it provides me with a large enough view of the world to see how certain things are related, interconnected, and influenced by other things. This allows me to be better at doing the things that I actually like (and/or that earn me [and via my enhanced productivity, my employer] money). I can adjust for outside influence by anticipating interference and preparing countermeasures or designing to take advantage of beneficial influences. So, for example, if I make boxes, I might understand how the price of tea in China might affect my cardboard supply so that I might choose my building materials appropriately.
Seriously, who needs adaptive, innovative, responsive employees here when you can get the cheap (soon to be absolutely better) foreign version. Now go sit down and watch TV with your kids so y'all can learn something.
Remember how the United States Senate had an all-nighter recently? I do. Let me recap for you. The MAJORITY (not 60 or 67, but 53ish) basically said, "let's get the fuck out man". The minority responded, "...you're defeatist, you're going to cut and run, and a bunch of Bizzaro world's other greatest hits". But the war supporters had a new phrase/idea (it's a shame when your ideology is your phrasebook), it was essentially, "What's the hurry? Petraeus is going to give us a report in September and that's not long, surely we can be rational, responsible adults and wait until then". Stupidly (I know that is shocking to people who have been watching the GOP) they argue for more time to 'let the surge work', while simultaneously saying that the amount of time involved is so minuscule that nothing will change during it. I know, take a moment to yourself............................................ So, here we are ONE month later and we find out that the Petraeus report that we were going to find under our pillow if we were good little boys and girls, is just as real as the tooth fairy. I know you can't believe it. Read for yourself. Of course this would be a problem for normal people, but this crowd has the 'Reality? Bah, we just make up shit as we go along...' mindset, so their response was normal (for them). The White House came out and said that they were ALWAYS going to write the report, and that they were going to get INPUT from Petraeus. Yep, we're waiting an insignificant amount (I mean it's only human life and suffering and our national treasury hemorrhaging into the sands and streets of Iraq) of time for a report from people down the street. I must say I love the "CEO" White House, it's as productive and efficient as any other business run by GW.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
I'm not going to say much on the efficacy of torture. If torture is for you then you ultimately believe that only the strong should flourish and that the only victims are people who can't adequately defend themselves. Really, to you they aren't even victims, they're just weak. So you should just quit your job and stay home to keep the next person with an itch from killing your kids, looting your property, and enslaving your significant other. What do you mean, "How am I supposed to earn a living"? And now you realize that that isn't a theory of society, it's a theory of anarchy.
Hey, it worked for the Mongols, go get yourself a horse.
Nope, the things in the article that I am highlighting are these quotes (my emphasis added):
- “I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew Daniel Pearl in the city of Karachi, Pakistan. For those who would like to confirm, there are pictures of me on the Internet holding his head.”
- "The utter isolation of these detainees has been described as essential to America’s national security."
- “Had that happened, I am confident that we would have obtained none of the information he had in his head about imminent threats against the American people.”
- “The Proud Murderer of 3,000 Americans.”
- "Until 2002, when Bush Administration lawyers asserted that waterboarding was a permissible interrogation technique for “enemy combatants,” it was classified as a form of torture, and treated as a serious criminal offense."
- “I can respect people who oppose aggressive interrogations, but they should admit that their principles may be putting American lives at risk.”
- "But the C.I.A.’s secret interrogation program, Senator Levin said, has undermined the public’s trust in American justice, both here and abroad."
- "He really believed in American principles."
All of the bolded items mean the same thing. Human. Go ahead, I'll wait, do the substitutions yourself... [Jeopardy think/wait theme music]
...see, told ya.
I guess I'm anti-U. S. A. now because I don't hold our lives as intrinsically more valuable than anyone else's. Hopefully I'll get to skip the C.I.A. world tour because I'm not a high quality asset. I'd probably go directly to Gitmo; do not due process, do not collect habeas entitlement.
It's weird, I could go all Vonnegut on you and talk about false karass, but we all know the various histories of divide and conquer; from the first religions of the multitudinous "chosen peoples", through Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, various inquisitions, the conquistadores (probably also known as "explorers" in you children's text books), and the latest hip, new, old fashioned genocides, to the latest "corporate rewards" programs.
It's like a 'backdoor' some programmer left in our minds. Put in the "T.H.E.M." [*] access code and we'll do whatever you want. [* The Hated External Menace]
It actually might be some left over hard wired proto-simian response to group threats. Well, we can't beat that can we? We'd better. We left behind (and some of us were left behind) or re-purposed other primitive responses that were antithetical to modern living. We just need to get our dumb asses to realize that our group is the human group.
Yeah all of us. I know we aren't some homogeneous blend of person. I don't know about you, but I never met the average guy. Yeah, we're all different and large swaths of humanity have similar traits that make it easy to lump into a broad category. Fine, humans tend to think categorically. Just don't forget the root of your categories. They are categories of PEOPLE. You know, like you, you're a people (yes that was on purpose).
Republicans are people.
U.S.ers are people.
Hockey players are people.
Somalis are people.
Cambodians are people.
Yo momma is people.
You get the damn point.
In this case we are being divided and conquered to empower the military industrial complex. Why do we foot the bill and watch other people benefit more than we do? I don't know about you, but when was the last time you paid someone to not do what you needed them to do?
It's called the military industrial complex, so why don't we make the military, I don't know, industrious and complex?
Oh, right they're not in the business of building nations. Then what the hell is the Army Corps of Engineers all about? Oh, well, um...
Government for the people, by the people, remember? Their job is what we say it is. If I have to be a citizen of The United States, a subsidiary of The People's Republic of China (or Japan, but they don't have the population or military) , I'd at least better have a viable infrastructure, decent, nah, fuck that, good public schools, non-poisonous food, water and air, and fucking dental (actually whole body health care, but 'dental' struck me as funnier). What the fuck are we buying?
Sunday, August 5, 2007
"...Black people, as I know them, are all individually excellent (at something or other) mostly because our background tends to make us dig down deep within ourselves and pull forth whatever it is that you can excel at and be twice as good at just to get by on average. That sort of crucible creates a sort of inward focus; because no one can help you with you. There really is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path and all the well meaning advice in the world will fail to be fully adaptable to your exquisitely specific life situation. So, you unleash your talent(s) on the world with the knowledge that it was really you that enabled you. This also tends to explain our collective exuberant confidence, because you know exactly what you can do and within your purview of skill no one on earth can deny you. This also generates our 'it's me against them' mindset.
I think the underlying cause is cultural. We tend to come from cultures that exult and revel in individual skill. We all know growing up that if you can be in the top percentile of anything, YOU will be respected in your community. Look at a lot of European cultures and Japanese culture which had lengthy histories of feudalism. The social class table was set, your advancement was primarily predicated by those ranking above you. If you wanted to succeed in those societies you got good at pleasing your superiors who had the power to lift you out of the muck in which you dwelled. They, and their ancestors, knew that if you can be useful to the rulers you will get advanced in social status, and YOUR STATUS will be respected in the community. This is also known as the 'good soldier' mindset.
Am I saying that (recently) African descended people aren't loyal or that Europeans can't be individually brilliant, no. I'm saying our cultures shape us to strive for betterment differently..."
P.S. You could obviously also apply this to any oppressed/suppressed group... I'm black, so when I talk about repression I usually talk about black people (that whole I have personal experience thing I suppose).
Saturday, August 4, 2007
I honestly didn't think I was going to write today. I mean come on, I made it all the way to the Australian news sites with nary an (I must speak on this) itch. Silly me.
I have no idea how long this link will last; they took it off of YouTube. (Wonder why?)
Here is the article.
Now how much of this is alcohol fueled stupidity and how much of this is people actually seeking to emulate idiots from another hemisphere, I couldn't tell you. I must admit, they do seem to have mastered the idiot part of the equation.
Unfortunately this is not the only case of KKK fanboi-dom to come out of Australia.
or how about this
I could keep linking, but you get the point.
We've got "neo"-Nazis here, they've got KKK wannabes there. I suppose if we settle Mars, there'll be a race (pun intended) to see who gets the honor of being the first cultural 'Neo'-anderthal.
For a species whose rank and file members largely frown upon education via historical reflection, a lot of folks seem to want to live in the past.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
So, these people with their simple worldview and visions of false dichotomies dancing in their heads have opinions and naturally share them with others. As long as people agree, everything is fine, but if you disagree watch out! You can't have a different opinion from them. You're either right or you're wrong, for them or against them, a team player or a God Damned Individual. If you are lucky, they like you and will attempt to amend your wrongheaded thinking. You'll have discussions and if they can't personally sway you, they'll give you literature, take you to meetings, or otherwise bring you into contact with more proponents of their outlook. Unfortunately for them, their limited worldview tends to make their 'philosophy' shallow and circular, so you really just end up recycling the same few discussions. At some point they'll get frustrated with your (what?!) stubbornness and call you close-minded. If you're really lucky, before they turn on you, they'll paraphrase their error to you by telling you that you are being unreasonable and that you shouldn't even argue about it anyway because you wouldn't understand until you saw it their way.
Life is neither fair nor binary.
There isn't always another side to a story, and I don't need the 'other' side of the story if that 'side' is invalid. If I catch you stabbing an infant in the chest with a rusty screwdriver am I supposed to take a reflective pause and hear your side?
The truth is that:
There are as many sides of a story as there are witnesses and opinions.
You can have your career and family in any mix that you can personally tolerate.
There are many degrees of loyal citizenship between patriotism and treason.
Good and evil are not absolutes, actions are. The judgements of, and rationalizations of; said actions are opinion.
Wealth and happiness have the relationship you choose for them to have in your life.
There are a multitude of tones and colors outside of black and white.
Us and them are plural pronouns which, by definition, "have a very general reference"; so we're back to opinion.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
"...I came here in peace, seeking gold and slaves...."
-- quote from article
Now, as funny as that was (maybe not to you, but now you can at least go write in your blog about how I'm stupid I am) doesn't it seem that if you gather a large enough group of people they tend to "think" and behave in this manner? Why is that? Is it a function of that neatly nebulous phrase we use to describe ourselves, "human nature"?
Is it cultural? If so, which culture? Why is the mob mind so base and puerile?
This sentiment is borne out in oft repeated statements such as: "I like persons, but I hate people", "I like Americans, but I hate America", "Saleem is ok, but the rest of those Muslims are terrorists", etc...
Could this be the root of all the negative stereotypes ever attributed to any group? Think about it. Large groups tend to adopt this '...and together we'll form, the moron!...', mentality. Historically, people didn't move around alot so populations were pretty homogeneous. Explorer/trader, 'Y', experiences group idiocy in the far off land of X, upon his return to 'civilization', he reports that the X-landers are idiots because of reasons one, two and three. We all know how rumors work so I'll leave you to fill in the rest.
The historical trend seems to be that group think levels out at the least common intellect. I'd be willing to bet that this was why the Founders (of the U.S.) sought to protect us from the "tyranny of the masses".
But how do you get the herd all mooing (moving) in the same direction? This article might provide some insight. (The text of the article that this article referenced is at the bottom of the post.)
Ok, we tend to emulate the choices of others. But, if the simple minds drive the conversation, how do their ideas gain support? Here's some heavy reading in that direction:
That was long, but the key points were simple. Repetition from one and/or many and ease of recognition. Let's make a construct with this information.
Given the following:
Everyone can count,
Counting is easier than adding,
Adding is easier than subtracting,
Subtracting is easier than multiplying,
Multiplying is easier than dividing,
Dividing is easier than exponents,
Exponents are easier than algebra,
Algebra is easier than geometry,
Geometry is easier than trigonometry,
Trigonometry is easier than calculus,
People prefer difficult math that they can handle,
Math below algebra is number math,
other math is abstract math.
Let's use math type as a popularity contest in a population with a normal distribution of intellect (try using everyone you've ever met as an example). For me, pretty much everyone I've ever met (that was of an age to have had access to this information) could divide. However when I get to exponents my population experiences a large drop off, this continues up through calculus. So the majority of my population can accomplish counting through division. This makes them less familiar with exponents and 'higher' maths. Now when I hold the, "Which type of math is most fun?" contest the weight of my population is going to exclude every math beyond division as a top contender.
The people beyond division are going to pull everyone up, but the people who can't divide are going to pull everyone back down. This means that number math wins by default.
There isn't really enough data to say which math would actually win, but it is likely that an explorer to this math country, upon returning home, would report, "They're a bunch of dividers that don't understand abstract math".
You've seen this in the election cycles for years. One candidate will repeat an oversimplified non-plan regarding some issue over and over which then filters through the populace and is repeated by the populace thereby enforcing itself. Whereas his opponent will give a nuanced plan that completely describes how to actually remedy the issue, but it goes over the heads of many of the possible 'repeaters' within the populace and thus fails to penetrate the populace's collective psyche.
Is public opinion worthless? I don't think so, but I have illustrated a way in which it is easily duped.
If you or your organization has a pay login in you can do more reading here.
Three billion?! Are you fucking serious?!
Come on. Witnesses couldn't be compelled to testify? The only reason they couldn't is because you didn't let the cats missing some of that THREE BILLION DOLLARS do the compelling. I know I'd be convincing if I needed to find out about my money.
Let James run some kids' pockets on 3rd and Broadway and let the police pick up a suspect (doesn't really matter if its James or not). Someone is going to do some time somewhere.
Mandatory minimums for white collar crime.
Mandatory minimums for white collar crime.
Mandatory minimums for white collar crime.
If you have to, sell it to your gov't as, "The War on Graft (TM[pending])".
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
We all know the exalted status animals have in the eyes of the public (at least the segment that makes themselves heard). So, why not take a "compassionate" conservative (if you can read or write that without snickering you need to replace your irony module) play and stop appealing to logic and commonsense. We all know they want to build a 700 mile fence along a 2100 mile barrier (um... what?), and the Great Wall DID NOT stop China from being invaded (just couldn't compete with the wonders of mammal technology).
So lets tell 'em to do it for the animals. Create one of those wonderful 'wedge issues' and call the fence builders anti-animal and such.
It's working against Vick...
More proof against that lazy African myth. These people died while they built their own infrastructure. I am proud of their achievement and pissed off that one of the biggest obstacles they had to overcome was caused by a bureaucratic technicality mostly caused by U.S. people demanding to turn a profit on corn that we (U.S. taxpayers) helped them grow in the first place. What is this obsession with something for nothing? They did what you asked, and you still found a way to punish them for it.
I'm glad they got it together and can help people even worse off than they are. I bet you they don't have some arcane system for their charity; probably, 'oh you need food, here you go'.
The article writer did a good job so I don't really have more to add. I do like the usage of the fish parable. Too bad people here resist this common sense as if the parable instead stated, "Give a man a fire and he'll be warm for a day; set a man on fire and he'll be warm for the rest of his life".
How hard is it to realize if you help people get their own, then at some point you won't have to help them (in that way) anymore.
Unless of course, it benefits you to have people unable to do for themselves...
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Apparently part two of my "they're just like us" foreign government tour.
You can see part one here.
You'd have to be armless with a degenerative nervous condition to not be able to draw the parallels here. Let's go through some anyway.
Formely popular head of government, check.
Party to which he belongs loses long held legislative majority, check.
Enacted over reaching programs to combat non-existent problems in schools, check.
Militaristic ambition, check.
Bucks time worn traditions regarding failure, check
Gutted national retirement fund, check.
Attempt to swindle people with electronic voting, check.
Pursuit of nationalist agenda, check.
Let's talk about patriotism and nationalism for a minute. Most people would think that they are synonyms, and those people would be wrong. A patriot, as you will note in the definitions linked, is defined by love and defense of his country and individual rights. A nationalist, as you will see in the definitions linked, is defined by a support of strong central government and promotion of the nation over the rest of the world's interests (it's also interesting to note that it is an obsolete usage of patriot.
I'm a patriot, not a nationalist. Nationalism smacks and reeks of facism (e.g. the National Socialist German Workers Party [Nazi]).
Who's ever heard of a fascist democracy?
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Now I happen to like the apprentice system for many fields of endeavor, but the modern educational system is based on the idea that education for it's own sake is a good
thing. You don't go to school to get a job, you go to school to learn. Of course, that idea, as so many others, has been co-opted by the Profit Motive (no I'm not a communist you simple minded label spewing fool).
I'm about to go back to school (really couldn't afford it the first go round [probably still can't]) and I know I am hyper sensitized to any cost. Now on top of all the other opportunity costs I have to weigh if my major is too (potentially) lucrative for me to afford to study it. Anybody besides me thinking of the Mascot chapter in the Autobiography of Malcolm X where Mr. Ostrowski says:
"Malcolm, one of life's first needs is for us to be realistic. Don't misunderstand me, now. We all here like you, you know that. But you've got to be realistic about being a nigger. A lawyer -- that's no realistic goal for a nigger. You need to think about something you 'can' be. You're good with your hands--making things. Everybody admires your carpentry shop work. Why don't you plan on carpentry? People like you as a person -- you'd get all kinds of work."
Now replace that word nigger with the phrase 'poor person'. In the good 'ol U. S. of A., where people used to come because they knew they'd be leaving the strict class structures of the Old World behind them, we now functionally limit not only what you can actually do by your resource access, but also what you can know.
All you need now is the ongoing collapse of 'Net Neutrality' to reach it's conclusion and then you'll have a system where you have to indenture yourself just to get the opportunity to better yourself by indenturing yourself some more. You remember how people who wanted to learn how to read had to basically join a monastery or be born into the nobility. I'll let you sit back and contemplate all the achievements during that period of history... 1... 2... 3... ok you're done.
It's easy to deride the phrase 'knowledge is power', but all throughout history the people 'in the know' ran everybody else. A flawed counter argument might run along the lines that scientists and other educated folk work for the people who have money. This is true, but keep going; ask and answer the question 'what is money'? It is a TOOL used to represent worth in trade. What does it represent? Well really, nothing. It used to at least be worth gold, which has always been pretty much tradeable to any non-starving non-thirsty human for something else, but it's not even that now. Now who controls the money? Not you, not me, not even the government, really. It's mostly rich people born into already wealthy families who have, over time LEARNED, how to manipulate the system and build a positive feedback cycle the sustains and enriches them. It sounds just like the concept of nobility, right? Bloodlines controlling massive conglomerations of capital. Meet your new princes and princesses. It's a nobility built on the understanding of shaping of finance, their knowledge empowered them.
How would knowledge help you here? A good question because at this point it would essentially take everyone turning their back on currency as we know it. Sounds easier to go along to get along, that's fine as long as you willingly choose to enrich others with your labor. You could go radical and go, 'off the grid', demand to be compensated in trade, or try to vote to get your country to take control of it's own finances. The thing is if enough people take any option other than the status quo the system would have to change, at very least forcing the vultures to learn new rules to manipulate. Even a minimalist cynic can see if properly manipulated this could be your window to break through to their side of the equation. That's real capitalism. King of the mountain being played and won by the hungriest and most capable, not this slow dance of upward accumulation to which we're all currently yoked.
Friday, July 27, 2007
I know what they are doing, kicking people off of voter rolls. By people I mean people who realize that republican government tends to fuck up their lives and livelihoods. When you read the 'back and forth' in the e-mails you realize it isn't some white and crimson caped individuals in a field of burning crosses. It's just Bob the middle manager processing some data. It's all so ho hum. A countrywide hijacking of folks voting rights handled like a seasonal merchandising campaign. All the death, sweat and blood of revolution undone by a listserv.
I think that's why white collar crime, even though it tends to be more destructive, is just overlooked by everyone. It's not dramatic enough. Kevin shoots up a corner store and makes off with $47, it's splashed all over the local news like the Next Coming. Mark embezzles $47 million from a pension fund and you'd be lucky to see it on page one and even then it'd probably only warrant a single column under the local team's box score.
People tell me the the masses don't think abstractly. My question is what in the hell is so abstract about your right to vote or how your tax money is spent? Why wouldn't you care? That is some abstract, no fuck that, that's some alien shit to me. Individuals determine what their interests are, so if you don't care about the sheer amount of money being spent (or should I say wasted) in Iraq it's not because Iraq is abstract it's because you don't care.
No, I'm not an elitist. I don't think I'm better than you because I care. I think everybody cares, but they care about themselves more. Honestly, I care more about myself than about some other person I never met. I also realize since we all live here and share the same basic language, laws and taxes (unless you're rich, and in that case you're not really the target audience anyway) what effects you will ultimately affect me. It costs me to have you over in Iraq, it costs me when you come back maladjusted to society, it costs me to pay your Veteran's benefits. If I care about me (which I do), I have to care about you. This pretty much goes for everybody.
Some dogs may or may not have died due to Vick's involvement, and while this does cost me, it doesn't cost me umpteen BILLION dollars, so my focus isn't there.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
I think we should table the 'War on Drugs', not because of it's wasteful ineffectiveness, but to stock our growing prison/industrial complex with fresh trained talent from the private sector. Really, why hold yourselves back? With the influx of credentialed individuals you could greatly diversify your business presence. No longer limited to general labor, you could move out into corporate espionage, insider trading, pseudo-legal racketeering and money laundering, etc... The sky is the limit, but only if you get them prosecuted. Act now! Don't be the first prison to miss out on this veritable smörgåsbord of elite criminalized talent.
By Muliro Telewa
BBC News, western Kenya
A group of carvers in western Kenya are looking forward to the first Simpsons movie hitting big screens around the world, even though they are unlikely to see it.
I have an interest in Kenyan news (as I was given this name by my Kikuyu friend).
I really posted this here to illustrate what 'soft power' is. The United States used to possess a silly ridiculous amount of the world's soft power, especially after the collapse of the U.S.S.R. Our idiots in charge can't comprehend that we already had what they wanted; we were relatively secure and had the ability to influence world events in our favor.
What we didn't export physically was more than compensated by our worldwide cultural imperialism. I used to joke in the late great 90's that the U.S. found the perfect form of imperialism, we import the world's cultural raw materials, repackage it with a shiny U.S. wrapper and sell it back to everybody. People don't often fight against what they demand, we weren't (for the most part) forcing ourselves on anyone, if you didn't want our products, you didn't buy them. No rebellions, colonial administration or other hassles.
We could've 'got in' even better with the world community post 9/11, we had their sympathy; U.S. related memorabilia could've flown off of the shelves. Unfortunately a calculated perfect storm of nepotism had occurred and we had another Bush in the White House. Instead of running with the potential windfall they sculpted it in that peculiar corporate shortsighted way to maximize profits without a thought for the context in which those profits are created or if said profits are even sustainable.
I want them (and the corporations they represent) imprisoned and stripped of their assets. Although even if that managed to pay the tab for their sand box time, they'd still owe us our soft power back. Maybe we could give them to the international courts (after we charge them). [By the way can we get some mandatory minimums for this seriously destructive white collar shit that is always orders of magnitude larger in effect than the efforts of any one thug or hustler?] We could put them in a zoo-like enclosure and subject them to the questioning and the will of the people (which they spend an inordinate amount of resources avoiding being public servants and all, matter of fact they're our resources that they are expending to avoid us [how fucked up is that?]). Every question they avoid or refuse to answer adds a week to their sentence. They be in the box forever even if they started with a two hour mandatory minimum.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
for the lazy non link clicking:
By Nate Anderson | Published: July 25, 2007 - 01:03PM CT
Colleges were among those less than pleased to find that Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) recently talked a new amendment into the Higher Education Act legislation that was moving through the Senate. The amendment would have directed the Department of Education to compile a yearly list of the 25 top P2P-using schools. How would such a list be compiled? By the number of complaint letters received from the MPAA and RIAA.
We heard from Reid's office yesterday that the Senator had canned the proposed amendment, without comment. It's clear that it was canned in response to strong outcry from the academic world, but there was no shortage of enraged citizens either.
Colleges and universities, always fierce about their own independence and the idea of academic freedom, were not eager to implement P2P filtering software, especially since it has the potential to block legal uses of P2P technology. The schools also aren't big on unfunded mandates that tell them how to run things on campus.
One IT official at a Boston-area school noted that the proposal would have created a kind of "revolving door" for anti-P2P software companies who would have, in effect, been guaranteed 25 new customers each year. The kind of reverse meritocracy that the amendment would put in place was also completely subjective.
The Reid amendment led to protests from groups like EDUCAUSE, a coalition of colleges and universities. In an urgent letter sent to members late last week, the group pointed out that the amendment would rely on "terribly inaccurate" data from the entertainment industry, that it targets only schools and not ISPs in general, and would "dictate the day-to-day operations of colleges and universities.
Our own coverage sparked many of you into action: we heard from dozens of you that sent your views to your own senators, and a few of you called Reid's office for good measure. We were told that the volume of complaints was indeed high.
Inside Higher Ed has a nice writeup on the developments, noting that after Reid pulled his amendment, another one was inserted into the bill, which then passed the Senate. This final amendment, though, was almost innocuous: colleges simply need to publish a couple of notices to students about how illicit file-swapping is wrong.
I suppose it is better than having my tax dollars lost
But, why don't they:
1.) study the adverse effect of the demise of the Fairness Doctrine
2.) go all anti-trust on Clear Channel and News Corp (before they merge)
3.) find the decency act unconstitutional
4.) or go all the way and actually be in charge of the movie rating system
5.) allot a specific amount of our wavelength to political campaigning, make it free and fair access, and then make all other T.V./Radio spots illegal
feel free to add your own...
Text from blog:
A man walked up to Dick Cheney, calmly told him he thought his Iraq policy was reprehensible, and walked away. A few minutes later he was arrested by the Secret Service, in front of his 8-year-old son, for "assault".
When he asked what would happen to his child, the Secret Service said, "He can be sent to Child Services." Luckily, the boy found his mother and was safe.
But the citizen who practiced his free speech spent a few hours in jail before he was released.
New Leaders Say Pensive French Think Too Much
By ELAINE SCIOLINO
Published: July 22, 2007
In the country of the Enlightenment, President Nicolas Sarkozy's government advocates hard work, not musing.
Why are all of these pro-business, anti-tax people against higher brain function? Oh yeah, so you are easier to enslave.
Conclusion: The actual problem is the gerrymandering of the voting districts, but as usual the folks in charge would rather have you focused on the easy to digest indignity of racism.
Vote fails 52 yea - 47 nay
Reid voted no so he can bring it back later.
…and now Mitch McConnell continues to beat the dead horse called 'it's a stunt'. Praising Lieberman for exercising his right while calling the very process of exercising that right theatrics. Since our Main Stream Media is so complicit, he even gets to accurately repeat how they're negatively characterizing the proceedings. I love how they demand all this specific information that they don't have themselves for their alternative 'strategy' of doing the same thing.
... McCain did it. Nothing will change? If we make the correct choice, things will change. How is it that many of the Republican talking points do one of three things, deliberately distort reality, demean the all-nighter as a 'stunt', or seek to equate status quo with change.
We can't afford to imbibe any more of their distorted reality and we can't afford any more status quo.
Now McCain again repeats the will of the people is fickle and should be ignored because we know better point. Why should Congress do the will of the people, perhaps because that is what they are elected to do, they even call one of it's portions the House of REPRESENTATIVES.
I wish he would, "shoulder a rifle and fight", the war he is obviously so interested in.
Had to eat, but anyway in the two plus hours, you haven't really missed anything more, it has broken down into the same rhetoric circling around punctuated with home state examples.
I'll keep trying to post highlights of the things that make me scream at the T.V.
...or did United States Senator Orrin Hatch's description of Iran's government make you think of things that our government in it's current configuration would eventually get to doing?
By the way he didn't take long to get to Iran did he?
He speaks of squandering the goodwill of our allies in other countries if we redeploy. Is he fucking serious? What goodwill? What allies?
Then he compares it to the Cold war (which was once again against a single state), but then states it's different than Vietnam because the VC didn't have the ability to attack us here. Do you know any Iraqi insurgent organizations with the ability to attack the U.S.?
He also does everything he can to make any sensible change in strategy seem cowardly. If I pursue a strategy whereas I don't (or anyone who is representing me doesn't) have to die, then that isn't cowardly, it's intelligent.
He says we have finally mastered counter insurgency tactics and that we now dominate the field of battle. Check the stats, tell me what you think the numbers say to you. To me they say he is stupid, at best; a liar who doesn't value the lives of his fellow citizens more than an obviously failed strategy devised by members of his political party, at worst.
His assertion that we (people who are done with the waste) want to abandon without a strategy is hypocritical because they (people invested in a failed effort) invaded without a strategy is really baffling. It's like he didn't even read what he was opposing. His statement also attempts to create a false equality between the two things. Invading without a plan costs us resources. Redeploying (which is in itself... wait for it... a... PLAN!) costs us less resources.
I love his quoted analogy, which I will paraphrase:
If some someone tells you the boat you're on is on fire and you jump off, and once you do you find out that it wasn't on fire you only have two choices, swim or drown.
This from the self-avowed anti-hypocrite. How ridiculous is that? This from the, 'You down with W.M.D.? Yeah you know me.' crowd. Un-fucking-believable.
At least he is honest in saying he wants to stay there longer than the remainder of his lifetime, let's hope he doesn't get his way.
United States Senator Norm Coleman from Minnesota shows us how to conflate Iran with all the problems of in the entire Middle East and along the way manages to compare us to the U.S.S.R. "Al-Qaida kicked them out of Afghanistan and they kicked us out of Iraq". He seems infatuated with the phrase, "why now?" He states that the Congress shouldn't hold their finger to the wind. He says will be there a long time, and then compares it to Germany, Korea and Kosovo.
Let's go backwards this time. Hmm... we WON in Germany (which had invaded most of the rest of Europe), in Korea we were pursuing our effective strategy of containment against a single communist STATE (you know old fashioned non-asymmetrical warfare via mostly economics, gotta love that 'soft' power), in Kosovo we stopped an ongoing GENOCIDE (after repeated warnings and while being restricted by these same Republicans).
Shouldn't hold their finger to the wind?! You mean it is wrong to listen to the will of the people who elected you?! And, I don't know, fucking REPRESENT them?
Why now? Because people are dying RIGHT NOW and their deaths are not accomplishing anything positive. Our loss would be a recruiting tool? As usual you have is backwards, us BEING THERE is the terroist recruiter's wet dream.
Once again, Al-Qaida in Iraq IS NOT Al-Qaida that attacked us on Sept. 11th, 2001. We helped the rebels kick the Soviets out of Afghanistan.
Iran is not the boogey-man behind all Middle Eastern conflict, there has been conflict in the Middle East since there've been people there with different ideas and because it is in the middle of three continents with their own cultures, it's a crossroads for everything. Can you stop trying to start another war when we don't have the resources to continue to pursue the folly in which we are currently embroiled.
1.) Dead people don't need or spend money.
2.) Iraq is a 'bad' war because they DID NOT attack us.
3.) Afghanistan is a 'good' war because that is where Al-Qaida is
4.) Any casualty incurred while pursuing a false target is more than a waste.
5.) Osama bin Laden is not, nor shall he ever be, Saddam Hussein.
6.) I'll quote the United States Constitution here:
"...The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States; To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;...
...To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;
To provide and maintain a navy;
To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;
To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;..."
United States Senator Tom Coburn from Oklahoma thinks there might be repercussions if we leave, and we have an moral obligation to wait for the experts' opinion to be proved or disproved. So, let me get this straight, there are people currently dying in Iraq, and we are there, but... we can't leave because... people might die. If English isn't your first language the preceding sentence proposes a notion that is utter nonsense.
On experts... Are these the same experts that painted us a vision of flowers strewn at the feet of our soldiers? The experts that said we need fewer troops than we actually did? The experts that said the insurgency was in it's last throes? How about the expert that declared mission accomplished while playing dress up? Fuck those experts. Do you think any discernible difference in our situation will occur in two months?
How about we apply logic and chase the people that attacked us, you know the ones that have rebuilt their full capability and are about 1,217.4 MILES (1,959.2 kilometers) WEST of where we currently are.
Don't worry I'll watch it so you don't have to (although you should). Am I fucking insane? I think death and/or serious injury is binary. Either you're fucked up or you're not fucked up. But, United States Senator Susan M. Collins from Maine believes there is a middle ground. The only ground in Iraq is the ground meat being produced from the bodies of our soldiers, marines, et al. Lets get the fuck out people.
Clinton - the current front runner; everyone is still in love with her husband, or their lifestyle at that time in history. This makes her stupidly popular even though she transparently tries to play both ends against the middle. I personally think she has a nefarious hidden agenda due to the secretive way in which she conducts her business. I do think she was 'broken' upon her arrival in D.C. when she pushed for universal health care and the real powers that be (corporate health and corporate medicine) set loose all the dogs of hell upon her. Two and a half stars.
Obama - initially the dream candidate, but as time goes on he (or him via his campaign handlers) has started to put image before substance. He never SAYS anything anymore, all of his statements either preach to the choir on safe, previously tread upon ground issue wise or he is the classic politician with his nebulous non-answers and non-statements. The disturbing trend is if he's willing to sell out to get elected just on the campaign trail, what is he willing to bargain away once he's under real pressure either in D.C. or at the international bargaining table? Still, better than the alternatives. Three and a quarter stars.
Edwards - the "outsider" candidate; he knows he's the third wheel and this allows him to make very specific promises and lay out very specific strategies for the prevailing issues. But, how much of this is 'outsider' grand standing? If the race was closer would he still be the idealist and planner? Pretty vanilla, sort of a wild card with potential that could either swing positive or negative. Two stars.
Kucinich - fast rising star from Ohio; his agenda kicks ass and take names, if his initiatives actually got through congress, we'd all be better off. But his politics also have a past, he went from being (or at least voting) pro-life to either abstaining or voting pro-choice in (well duh why isn't that already the case) situations. I'd rather have the pro-choice votes being pro-choice myself, but if his shift in stance is calculated, then he poses a threat as President due to the erosion of Roe v. Wade in the past few years. Two and a half stars.
Gore - top non-candidate; has all the experience, has the name recognition, is ridiculously smart, there is simply not much to NOT to like about him. His problems are: 1.) he got cheated out of an election already and in America the stigma of losing sticks with you for quite awhile, 2.) he would get caught in the train wreck that the first series of primaries that have a serious minority and a serious woman contender is bound to be. People are going to vote their affiliation, not their principals "just to see a [fill in the blank]" president. In my opinion he'd be smart to continue sitting it out until next time around when it isn't such a novelty. Right now, three and a half stars; in four years assuming status quo, four stars.
Al Gore logically and ruthlessly eviscerates the very notion of the unitary executive. Then proceeds to illuminate the soil from which it grew and it's enduring consequences.
Speaking of consequences, I'm going to quote Winston Churchill, as Gore does in this book, "They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent. The era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences."
The accumulation of executive power has not occurred in a vacuum. Its increase in power was your decrease in rights, representation, and relevance. The time to 'draw your line in the sand' is now. Use the remaining rights (that people of that ilk see as privileges) you have to get back the rights you've had taken away from you.
Unless, of course, you'd like your children to spend what's left of their company scrip at the company store after their housing expenses have been fairly deducted to finance their company housing.
Have you seen the Star Wars prequels? You know the ones that illuminate the factors and decisions that transformed a little slave boy named Anakin into the evil Darth Vader, right hand man of a more evil emperor.
How about Animal Farm, have you read it? How a group living in degradation rises above it, overthrows their oppressors and ultimately goes on to become oppressors.
Odds are even if you haven't directly experienced these two works of fiction, they are pervasive enough in our popular culture for you to have heard of them and know the gist of their plot arcs.
Here you have a book that relates the story of someone's rise from institutionalized adversity to the heights of power in the land of her birth. Along the way you discover some of the roots of her psyche and how they grew around her life decisions to form the labyrinthine, tautologous, insular mind she has today. The same mind that allows her to execute the duties of her office with such egregious contempt for it's actual purpose. True insidious evil is like erosion, it follows the path of least resistance until it has carved a mighty duct that allows its agents to flow freely.
Unfortunately, this is not a work of fiction.
This book re-ignited my loathing for corporate America and its usury towards its own workforce. It was the beginning of the end of my time at a certain corporate bookstore.
Barbara could have remained in her redoubt of success and wrote a fact based report filled with the charts and statistics that are the chilling indicators of the demise of the middle class, and of inescapable truth that working for a living no longer provides enough income to invest in your future (or anything else). Instead she went out and collected some compelling data points on her own.
They told you that she was a melodramatic grandstander like Michael Moore. Of course they also believe that hard work will get you anything you want and that racism is a thing of the past.
They are not particularly well informed.
You want to know what life as a serf or apprentice was like during the clash for dominance between the established hereditary powers and emerging capital powers. Your problem has always been adopting the alien mindset necessary to truly empathize with any protagonist from that era.
Your cries have been heard. Max Barry has set that seemingly futile struggle for advancement and security, which is the existence of the working class, in a setting familiar to you. Against a backdrop of impossibly wealthy multinational corporate conglomerates and national governments that have largely out grown their founder's ideals, our characters are relentlessly ground into lubricant for the gears of the 'great society'. *******************************************
"We recommit the errors of our forebearers so you don't have to wonder what your grandparents and great-grandparents were angry enough to fight about".
-- [may be attributed to any of the historical or current "powers that be"]