Archive for the 'Games Empires Play' Category

For Thunder

I love real time events and Wikipedia. For example, Bubba Watson’s (golfer) page:

You say you want a dumb question?

I had what, in the scheme of things, may be a pointless question (or perhaps one that’s already been done to death, and I just missed it): why are we “occupying” things?

I’m not asking what the point of the Occupy movement is, or why they’re using the tactics they are, but rather, why is it called “occupying” and is that a good idea? Isn’t the metaphorical point more to remove an occupation than to engage in one?

The original “Occupy Wall Street” actually makes sense: a parody of US foreign policy being visited upon on a tiny “foreign” nation whose inhabitants have probably caused more damage to this country than any terrorists are ever likely to.

But “Occupy Oakland”? “Occupy Boston”? If “we are the 99%”, then we are Oakland, we are Boston. Isn’t the real point that the 1% are occupying us? That we are, in effect, living under their puppet regime?

Wouldn’t it make sense to use language that implies we are actually defending our homes from an abusive force rather attempting to invade something? The message to our elected leaders rulers is not necessarily “we will overthrow you”, but perhaps more like “you’re killing us, and we aren’t going to take it anymore”. That at least has the potential to be turned into an invitation to return to being the government they were, in theory, democratically elected to be — that is if they truly can, in fact, figure out how not to be elitist, authoritarian, collaborationist “rulers” (an “if” which, in most cases, is probably more about moral high ground than realistic expectation).

The “occupy” message also has the potential to make those who don’t identify with the movement feel like their land is being invaded. It risks breaking the 99% into two groups, each of which thinks they are defending their homes and families from each other. The 1% always likes that.

This is probably all moot as the “Occupy” brand has already sailed, so to speak. Perhaps, the “we are the 99%” message is enough to counteract the metaphorical problems of “occupying”. Though I still wonder what different tactics and rhetoric might be considered if the underlying message was one of defense from, well, “colonization” might be the best word for it.

Rick P. Coined the Phrase

“E. coli conservatism” for a reason.

Good write-up from the NY Times, with direct nods at industry pressure and practices that exist because it is cheaper to have a low percent but non-zero chance of killing you than to have a safe product.

No one could have predicted…

[The] crisis struck, in the form of an international economic failure. […] We have … become so accustomed to our political and business leaders addressing themselves only to limited manifestations of the crisis and always in a positive way — stimulating what they call a temporary recession or managing a Third World debt problem or waging a localized war against inflation or concentrating upon that portion of an economy which they superficially stimulated to the point of explosion while the rest remains in profound decline — that we are never quite certain whether the depression is still with us or is on the point of disappearing. Nightly, it seems, we drop off to sleep with the vague expectation that all will be clear in the morning. Mysteriously, there is always a new explosion in the night and when we awake , the problem has been transformed into yet another limited manifestation.

This depression, of proportions as great if not greater than that of the 1930s, still engulfs us. None of our governments appear to have any idea of how to end it. How could they? The essence of rational leadership is control justified by expertise. To admit failure is to admit loss of control. Officially, therefore, we haven’t had a depression since the 1930s. And since most experts — the economists, for example — are part of the system, instead of being commentators in any real, independent sense , they contribute to the denial of reality. In other words, there is a constant need in our civilization to prefer illusions over reality, a need to deny our perceptions.

[…] After the economic crisis of the 1930s, we created a multitude of control valves and safety nets in order to avoid any future general collapse — strict banking regulations, for example, social security programs and in some places national health care systems. These valves and nets have been remarkably successful, in spite of the strains and the mismanagement of the last two decades. However, because the rational system prevents anyone who accepts legal responsibility from taking enough distance to get a general view, many of our governments, desperate and misguided, have begun dismantling those valves and nets as a theoretical solution to the crisis.

Worse still, tinkering with these instruments has become a substitute for addressing the problem itself. Thus financial deregulation is used to stimulate growth through paper speculation. When this produces inflation, controls are applied to the real economy, producing unemployment. When this job problem becomes so bad that it must be attacked, the result is the lowering of employment standards. When this unstable job creation leads to new inflation, the result is high interest rates. And on around again, guided by the professional economists, who are in effect pursuing, step by step, an internal argument without any reference to historic reality. For example, in a single decade the idea of using public debt as an economic tool has moved from the heroic to the villainous. In the same period private debt went in the opposite direction, from the villainous to the heroic. This was possible only because economists kept their noses as close to each specific argument as possible and thus avoided invoking any serious comparisons and any reference to the real lessons of the preceding period.

In general terms all this means that management methods are being mistaken for solutions and … [a]s a result we are perpetually either on the edge of a recession (never in it, let alone in a depression, whatever the indicators say) or we are artificially flush and then manage to convince ourselves that we are flying high.

[…]

Our societies turn upon democratic principles, yet the quasi totality of our leading citizens refuse to take part in that process and, instead, leave the exercise of political power to those for whom they have contempt. Our business leaders hector us in the name of capitalism, when most them are no more than corporate employees, isolated from personal risk. […] Never has there been such a sea of available information, and yet all organizations — public and private — work on the principle that information is secret unless specifically declared not to be. There is a conviction that governments have never been so strong and at the same time a sense that they are virtually powerless to effect change unless some superhuman effort is made. Or … after a century of carefully building both self-respect among employees and job stability for them, our first reaction when faced by a depression is to move out of manufacturing and into service industries.

— John Ralston Saul, Voltaire’s Bastards (1992), pp 10-2.

A different kind of abstinence

As regards sex education, the Soviet Union is probably best described as having none. Zero. Utter bupkis.

One observer opines: “There is no doubt that communism in its Soviet version has been one of the most repressive sexual systems that ever existed, worse than most religions, and on a par with nazism.” Here is a recent reminiscence by someone from a Soviet member state:

Indeed, no one ever discussed how babies were born. My sister believed our dad found her in his vomit. For some reason he thought that was the most suitable explanation. I had a better story. I was purchased by my older sister at a diamond store. It is fun to reminisce about such stories but there is a deeper question to address in the former Soviet Union. How to encourage people to both use contraceptives and to have babies? First of all, schools and families should raise awareness.

My anatomy teacher in ninth grade did not want to deal with students giggling. So for the sake of discipline in class, she skipped chapters that talked about sex and reproduction. Some of us bothered to skim through them on our own. It was the closest we ever got to the topic.

(The reason she mentions encouraging people to have babies is that Russia and some of the other former Soviet Republics are undergoing a dramatic demographic crash at the moment.)

Continue reading ‘A different kind of abstinence’

Where does that highway lead to?

At the Overman hearings in the Senate, which had resumed on February 11 [1919], the government was calling witnesses, all of them former or current government officials who described heinous scenes in which Bolsheviks committed unconscionable atrocities. The Bolsheviks had caused indescribable chaos in Russia, said the witnesses. One man who had spent time in Petrogradi.e. St. Petersberg/Leningrad. Soviet-era joke: Where were you born? St Petersburg. Where did you grow up? Petrograd. Where do you live? Leningrad. Where would you like to live? St Petersburg. testified that many of Russia’s misfortunes were due to the influx of Jewish agitators from New York’s Lower East Side.

“How would you describe these Bolshevik forces so that the average man would understand them and their composition?” a senator asked one witness.

“Like a mob of Captain Kidds with the exception that they operated by land instead of on the water,” the witness responded.

Another witness claimed with the utmost certainty that there were at least three million people in America, mostly of Russian origin, who were Bolshevik sympathizers, and among those, many were spies. And, he added, [President] Wilson seemed to be doing nothing about it. Yet another described the free love policy in Russia: all girls and boys upon reaching the age of eighteen become property of the State and must register at the Bureau of Free Love, which orchestrates forced, arranged matches once a month out of which come children who will then be government property. “Everything that makes life decent and worth living is in jeopardy if this thing called Bolshevism is allowed to go ahead,” testified a former U.S. Department of Commerce employee in Russia.

— — Ann Hagedorn, Savage Peace: Hope and Fear in America, 1919 (2007), p 129.

In a depressingly real sense, the Marxist glorification of work for its own sake, coupled with the naive assumption that as long as everybody is working hard, all sexual “problems” will disappear, i.e., reduce to a pastoral (and suspiciously bourgeois) vision of respectful, shy, young working men getting up the nerve to propose to respectful, shy, young working women, who must get up the nerve to respond, quiveringly, “Yes” (both, finally, taking courage from the fact that they are serving the state—the Marxist equivalent of “doing it for Old Glory”?), is historically, if not archetypally, one with the nineteenth-century industrial mythos: “Keep the proles working hard enough and they’ll be too tired to break out into the orgies of lust, rapine, and [incidentally] economic devastation [the absent text supplies for this term, “looting”] we know seethes just below the surface of every prole soul. Under industrial containment [read: exploitation/exhaustion] their sex [read: aggression] can be limited to the most conventional and tepid of expressions.” The entire template, Marxist and Capitalist, is a pre-Freudian disaster area which Freud’s own inability to distinguish between sensuality, sexuality, biological gender, and sex role socialization has done as much to perpetuate in the West as his basic discovery of the unconscious, sexual repression, transference, and infantile sexuality have prepared the groundwork to alleviate.

— — Samuel Delany, “Of Sex, Objects, Signs, Systems, Sales, SF…” (1975) as collected in The Straits of Messina (1989), p 55, all brackets in original.

Same as it ever was.

Continue reading ‘Where does that highway lead to?’

The Real Democratic Agenda

Markos, who may have been infected with something during a visit to the offices of The New Republic, has, in a six word post, revealed the real agenda behind the Mo’ Betta Democrats push of the netroots. The post is entitled War and reads:

Today, the war against birdofascism begins.

The comments are as bloodthirsty as one might expect, Democrats orange in tooth and claw. Obviously these are people for whom even being a hawk isn’t good enough — they want to conquer both the doves and the hawks, and the pelicans and whippoorwills to boot.

How long before Obama says that countries that have bird sanctuaries are equivalent to those that directly sponsor acts of birdiness?

Mammals of conscience should consider donating some fur to BOFFFo (Bring Out Fur For Fowl), who will be setting up centers to provide birds with alternate identities that may afford them the chance of being able to move about more easily in the months and years ahead. Bats who are willing to teach birds to hang upside-down and fly funny or who can help in the development of echolocation prostheses are also needed.

We have already received word that several groups of collaborationist flightless birds will be given roles as (ka)kapos by the incoming administration — the usual imperial strategy of giving power to a minority in an oppressed population to rule over the rest.

These are the last days before the machinery of oppression begins to close in. We must use our freedom while we still can. We hope those that stand with us against this existential threat will show their solidarity, joining together for mass acts of public birdiness in the days and weeks to come.

Obviously the CCA is not doing its job

As is well known, at least on this website, the job of the Canadian Curling Association is cobaggery, or more specifically, attempting to raise the level of cobaggery in Canadadia to the point where that country will be associated in people’s minds with cobaggery. At the moment, they appear to be failing miserably, as Canadadians (at least female Jewish Canadadians) appear to be engaging in flagrant acts of noncobaggery, uncobaggery, and possibly even anticobaggery. (The protesters were arrested by da Mounties and then released.)

Meanwhile, here, south of the border, where moose fear to tread due to the possibility of having to deal with the health “care” “system”, we have, um, Thomas Friedman. It seems necessary to blame the CCA for this, too. If they had it together and were really getting their cobag on up in Canadaland, they might even be able to attract one T. Friedman away from the U.S. Not that I would wish Friedman on Canada, though if the CCA were living up to its 3B reputation, it might.

Also, engaging in gratuitous cobaggerylessness are over 500 residents of Sderot. I haven’t figured out how to blame the CCA for this yet, though I suppose I could blame AIPAC for not having convinced as many actual Israelis as they have U.S. congresscritters that there is something wrong with saying sensible things about peace.

Al Trautiwig is a CObag

guess what chunderface, if Alicia Sacramone had scored TWO MORE POINTS America’s gymnasts would still have taken silver. we shall commence bombing al trautwig in 5 minutes

SUCK IT#*R)T@Gbt8

real americans love AS. just shut yer cobholes

Lie back and think of Texas

I. F. Stone, “A Man the Whole World Has Begun to Distrust”, 7 June 1965

After a year and a half with Lyndon Johnson as President, one thing can be said about him with certainty. It is dangerous to trust anything he says. His favorite stance on the platform is that of a country preacher, brimful of Gospel. Events have shown that beneath his corny brand of idealism is a hard-boiled operator who believes in force. The difference between him and Goldwater is that the latter candidly espoused what the former covertly practices. The Arizonian lost because he was more honest and less clever. But there is a limit to cleverness, and Johnson has about reached the limit.

The good will built up by Kennedy for our country in every section of the world except East Asia has been dissipated by his successor. It is no exaggeration to say that Johnson is today distrusted everywhere: in Latin America, where he has destroyed the hopes aroused by the Alliance for Progress; in Western Europe, where he is regarded as impulsive and high-handed; in India, where he affronted Shastri by canceling his visit rather than risk hearing an Asian dissent on our Vietnamese war; and in Eastern Europe, where the Russians had expected a continuation of the detente begun under Kennedy and the satellites had hoped for a continued thaw in the Cold War as their one sure means of liberation. Rarely has one man blasted so many hopes so quickly.

Continue reading ‘Lie back and think of Texas’