Archive for March, 2007

Excellent – Chomsky on Modern Political Systems

March 30, 2007

The Layered Theory of Identity

March 30, 2007

This theory derives largely from self-examination.

The controlling will in a human does not need to monopolize the contents of that human. It can introduce into its own mind and identity things it wants to examine firsthand. If the identity has seven layers (arbitrary), some of those layers can be used as a kind of laboratory, a testing ground. This is an effective method of gaining psychological and other forms of insight into the examined. This is a serious version of method acting, although the focus is on introspective learning instead of extroverted projection and there is no need to hide the controlling will (instead of pretending to be something other than what he is he IS something other than what he is).

There are several problems with this method, which you may note are similar to the problems with method acting.

There is a residue left behind when the test subject is changed. Over time this causes mental and psychological degradation, a growing chaos of the mind.

While method actors are controlled by organized external and internal forces (the defined roles they play) the layered human is controlled by unorganized external and internal forces. His own creative perception of himself and the world defines the test subjects. While this has plenty of benefits, the downside is an extreme disconnection between his identity and human understanding of that identity. In short, a method actor where you don’t know what role he’s playing.

Since this experience is completely not understood by humanity, and human culture only supports a unified human identity, any human with such an identity is going to be a social outcast at best. I suspect that many humans with this identity become artists or actors where they can gain the social space to be different. Such a social space is a type of cage, however.

The truth is that this identity is legitimate. It’s also extremely dangerous in many ways. Besides degrading the individual experiencing it (albeit simultaneously enlightening him), it disallows traditional human interaction since it breaks down traditional concepts of knowledge gains (where a human action represents *himself* and thus can be logically introduced into his unified identity). Its an identity often accused of being anti-social, although its only anti-social because society doesn’t want to accept it. Or more to the point, it doesn’t know *how* to accept it… it doesn’t know how to healthily deal with it.

Because its dangerous, harmful, and misunderstood, its treated with mistrust and antipathy by the general populace. Its ok for such a human to be an artist or an actor, to live in that cage… its not ok to exist outside the cage.

I disagree. But I accept the challenge of determining how human society can introduce this identity into itself without being destroyed.

Great Chomsky – Perle debate

March 29, 2007

Humanity vs. Political Agency

March 28, 2007

The idea of the Stewart/Chappelle/Colbert process is to destroy the notion that humans should become first and foremost political agents (pursuers of an agenda) ahead of themselves as compassionate empathic humans (liberal humanism).

To see this just look at the people they most frequently attack: Bill O’Reilly, Tom Delay, the congressional left. There has been a major cultural movement since the 1970s toward making the mind a political machine, and hence action a series of political machinations. Machiavelli would be proud.

While the early adopters of this change to human psychology are of course politicians, the fear is very real that this culture will find its way into mainstream America and then into mainstream everywhere else.

The mass media in America is falling under this culture as we speak.

I hear all kinds of nonsense like “Bill O’Reilly just doesn’t get Colbert”. He gets it. But this culture of political agency is fundamentally about deceit, self-deceit and deceiving others. In order to pursue his agenda which is partially about a *lack* of transparency concerning his process, he can never *reveal* that he gets Colbert, because then he admits his own complicity in what Colbert is attacking. The culture of political agency follows (within popular conception) from the Spy culture of the 1960s… the key mantra there is never reveal your true motivations. Also, since there is so much self-deceit within O’Reilly, he only gets it on some level… on another level he hides it from himself.
If you ask “Why then have Colbert on his show?”, my answer is that he was grateful. Bear in mind that O’Reilly is anointed by Colbert as the leader of this culture within the public sector… noone else gave that kind of acknowledgement.

The reason America is ultimately condemned is that this whole process is ridiculous. Political agency is not a worthy pursuit. It’s garbage, and while it’s nice to have people like Colbert to clean up the garbage America would have been much better off going in an entirely different direction.

Understand what this all derives from: the perceived failure of the 1960s to implement fundamental social change. This is all fallout from the subsequent depression.

Gotta love humans.

A Roast of William Shatner

March 27, 2007

Remarkably, there is such a thing as a roast of William Shatner.

Isn’t it ridiculous to do a roast of a man who continuously roasts himself?

How Michael Jordan ruined the American mind

March 25, 2007

Granted, it doesn’t take much to ruin the American mind… this is more a tale of the specifics of the ruining.

In America we have a peculiar idea of other people… the idea is that they don’t exist.

We are said to fail if we have to recognize other people… its a failure of our own will, our own power (our own will to power).

Americans looked at Michael Jordan, and marveled. Not at his athletic ability, or skill, but at his ability to render his opponents irrelevant with respect to what he wanted to accomplish. His ability to turn opponents into Unpeople.

Michael Jordan fueled the fantasy of the American soul for themselves to be the only existing thing in the universe.

As Gatorade put it: “Be Like Mike”.

Gotta love humans.

The truth about the Neocons, and more

March 25, 2007

I continue to see constant ignorance on the part of the American people and even of experts concerning Neocon motivation.

I’ll begin by laying out the context: there are many actors in play with regard to the environment of the Neocons. Bush, for example, is not a Neocon. Cheney is not a Neocon, contrary to the claims of Hersh and others, although he sympathizes with some Neocon views. Rumsfeld is essentially a Neocon. Wolfowitz is the most powerful Neocon in Washington at present. The Washington bureaucracy is not Neoconservative as a whole, but over the years especially in the Pentagon more and more Neocons or Neocon sympathizers have been inserted into key positions.

The Neocon reality, as opposed to that of Bush or Cheney or other factors, does NOT desire global domination or fascism. It uses fear of global domination and fascism to generate its real desire, socialist revolution.

The evidence for such a view lies in several factors:

#1: Logical progression: Prior to the 1970s the Neocons WERE socialists… Trotskyists. People thought they changed, but they didn’t. Their socialism became depressed and went underground. They began to take a convoluted back-door approach. Their underlying idea was this: if you can’t create socialism through consciousness (they saw the 1960s as a failure of consciousness) maybe you can create it through fear. Then the question became, what monster do you build such that socialism will be encouraged or forced upon the American people?

I won’t bore you with specifics concerning the monsters the Neocons built. Suffice it to say it began in the early 1970s and continued on to the present day.

What you hear about the Neocons being an extreme outside force is nonsense… the Neocons are effective at manipulating the American people because they are *intimate to American culture*… they are a key part of American culture.

#2: Neoliberalism: this is the economic child of the Neocons. Its a ridiculous system that deprives nations of their wealth, causing poverty and economic disaster. Poverty is the single greatest cause of socialism in the world… if there was no poverty the world would be capitalist. If its not obvious to you why this is the case comment and I’ll explain it.

When you think about the Neocons, use this analogy. Lets say I want you to punch me. If I simply ASK you to punch me you won’t do it, because you don’t want to hurt me. But if I take a swing at you, you’ll probably punch me. Mission Accomplished. Create a monster that takes the American people coming together overcoming their apathy to destroy (becoming socialist in the process according to Neocon theory) and its Mission Accomplished.

#3: Incompetence: If I take a swing at you with the motivation not of hurting you but of trying to get you to hurt me, I’m probably not going to connect. But I can’t let you in on it… I have to pretend to really *really* REALLY want to hurt you, REALLY REALLY badly. This takes a lot of energy and attention and doesn’t leave any for you know, actually *doing* stuff… hence the Neocons appear to be highly incompetent.

Any close examiner of American culture understands just what I’m talking about. Have you noticed the self-mutilation, the self-loathing, the neuroticism, the self-destructiveness? That’s ALL part of Neocon culture.

Before you get too excited, understand that this is mostly on the subconscious level. This isn’t a conspiracy… the Neocons don’t pass memos between each other talking about this. This is why the Neocons are so insecure… they are ignorant about themselves. Its a NECESSARY ignorance… if they gained self-knowledge they would communicate that knowledge with the people they need to manipulate to achieve their desired reality… self-knowledge would result in their own failure. Its about intentional non-self-recognition.

The Neocons are succeeding, probably beyond their wildest hopes. The world is uniting against America (given that the Neocons are anti-capitalist, they see this as a necessary element). America itself is being bled domestically to the point of socialist elements rising.

The Neocons have created the greatest mass manipulation the world has ever known. They’ve envisioned a key to victory: to get your friends to think they are your enemies and thus to transform into the people you want them to be.

Chomsky is an opportunist here. While he too is not conscious of what is going on, he recognizes the cultural movement toward socialism and has a permanent hard-on… finally he has cultural allies… the Neocons themselves.

But the brilliance of the Neocons doesn’t stop with their manipulation of the left: they use the Corporate Right and the Authoritarian Right as their boogeymen… to quote the Godfather 2: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”. The Neocons know Corporations can’t resist ridiculous profit and they are so completely devoted to their goals that they don’t even MIND that corporations get to indulge their natural greed… its all for a higher purpose you see. It was absolutely critical that the Neocons infiltrate the Republican Party, to gain control over and use the right.

The funny thing is that the corporations don’t even mind… even if they knew what I know they wouldn’t mind. They are so focused on short-term profit they are ignorant of the dangers. Besides, even if the corporate system collapses the top cats will have their money… so what if their descendents have problems?

There is so much going on right now, such a depth of experience that I’m having trouble keeping up with it. We are living in a chaotic whirlwind of possibilities… in the end the Neocons themselves will lose control.

Just remember, that regardless of what happens the Neocons are not to blame… they were supported throughout by American culture itself.

One thing remains true… gotta love humans. America is the land of the Ridiculous.

Welcome to Your Reality

The Hypocrisy of Jesus Christ

March 23, 2007

To be fair, this is perhaps better described as ignorance, but I’ll give Christ the benefit of the doubt and assume a lack of wisdom wasn’t involved.

Helping the poor is a natural thing. It existed prior to his time and it will exist long after he’s forgotten. What Christ did was to politicize the issue, especially within surrounding cultures that were not very amenable to it.

Once an issue becomes politicized, it gains power. That is to say, if I call Christ a hypocrit I stand alone as a private citizen, but if I call someone a “dirty smoker” I get to have the backing of countless anti-smoking campaigns and policies. You might therefore call the support of politicized positions fundamentally cowardly, and you might be right. I’ll leave you to draw conclusions based on the fact that the vast majority of human statements are supporting of or criticizing politicized positions.

But that’s a bit of a side issue. My main point is this: you can only help the poor if you’re not poor. Its a curious thing. By elevating “help the poor” Christ is restricting morality to the non-poor. All the poor can do (according to Christ) is to receive handouts from the people Christ has shamed into giving.

It has to be one of the larger misunderstandings in history: Christ issued a morality, but not to the poor… his morality was FOR the rich.

Only after Christ were the poor reduced in stature. Poverty has existed eternally, but the poor as a *moral recipient* instead of as human has not.

This has several curious effects. Since the poor are taken out of the possibility of morality, its *imperative* that people not be poor themselves and thus lose their Christ-issued moral ability. Thus, ironically, its critical to in some cases steal from the poor or helpless in order to have something to then make a show of giving to the poor. You can determine for yourselves whether the Republican Party ever employs this technique.

It also introduces the idea of class based on economic status. Previously class was a function of social status (what social group you were part of). Notice that post-Christ, humans are *very* conscious of their economic status, eventually resulting in the emergence of money as the most powerful force in the world. This consciousness is based on adherence to Christ’s morality. The need to NOT be poor is partly based on adherence to Christ’s morality.

You might think this is a good thing, an added motivational factor is just what the poor need. I’ll just shake my head sadly and say that that attitude also…

Don’t get me wrong in all of this. I think its perfectly fine to encourage the rich to give to the poor. The travesty was the misunderstanding that this was FOR the poor… if you change someone’s behavior the result in a change to THEM, not to any other humans that might be involved in some way.

It was a double blow to the poor. Not only did Christ HELP the rich and not the poor, but he claimed to be helping the poor and not the rich. And humans bought into every word of it.

You can see this based on attitudes towards the poor which are far worse now than they were previous to Christ.

But, according to those marvelous creatures the Christians, that’s all fine. It doesn’t matter if you despise poor people. It doesn’t matter if you hate poor people. It doesn’t matter if you think they are lazy no-good ignorant horrible cretins.

All that matters is that you put your coin in the beggar’s jar, or give some taxes to support welfare. That’s your role. That’s your reponsibility.

Thanks, Jesus.

Building a New America – Censorship of Deception

March 23, 2007

There is one major problem with freedom of speech – not everyone has the same freedom.

For example, our good friend Rush Limbaugh has the freedom to speak to thousands and thousands (millions?) of listeners every day. Most people cannot do this. The concept of freedom of speech derives from a place and time with a very limited mass media – when words were used from the human voice instead of modern technology and distribution. The mass media has thus destroyed freedom of speech.

Rather than take severe action such as the removal of such technology, censorship of speech for such humans that have been granted exceptional freedom should be implemented – we should not hide behind notions of fearing to restrict free speech when we have *extreme* restrictions already in place – such as the disparity in degree of speech between Limbaugh and most Americans.

This censorship is based on one factor only: deception. Where there is deception, there is censorship. It would be easier to base the censorship on truth, but many statements exist outside that framework. Deception is a different story.

Some people might ask, why? Why censor deception?

I consider myself an intelligent knowledgeable person. And I’ll tell you, I can be deceived. Its not even that difficult. Its very very easy to deceive someone not intelligent or knowledgeable. The results of such deception can be impressive for the deceiver… just look at the happy effects for the Bush Administration of their many deceptions of the media and American people. And the Bushies are AMATEURS… all of their garbage tricks are transparent if you have any kind of background in deception. Only in America with its “I wanna be innocent!” scream could such silliness be gotten away with.

But the problem goes well beyond the ease and effect… when you live under the possibility of deception you can’t TRUST anything… even an entirely non-deceptive situation has a dark cloud over it. We need to do nothing less than *remove deception from American culture*.

All aspects of the mass media (there will need to be some determination of the boundary on what constitutes mass media versus human voice) will be under this censorship… human voices will not because the gains aren’t worth the costs at that point.

Deception will be against the law, thus resulting in the normal penalties – fines, jail time.

Prior to implementing this, we will want to consider good aspects of deception, so as to either deny the system or modify it to its best form.

Deception is a form of aggression, thus meaning that if we eliminate deception and change nothing else, the would-be deceiver will turn to another type of aggression or become frustrated. Thus concurrent with this system its a good idea to promote debate and social engagement to channel aggression into effective avenues (Debate is a form of aggression considered appropriate, and debate with built-in follow-ups based on the results of the debates are an excellent plan).

The question remains of how this censorship would take place, by what process and form?

The existing justice system should be able to handle much of it, but one issue is that determining deception is not like determining a murder – deception itself can be a tricky matter. I don’t know whether this introduces anything that requires a special solution.

Sports Nonsense

March 23, 2007

“With the clock ticking down, they can’t afford to let down now after their big run.”

I’m not sure there is a more consistently made-up environment than that of a sports commentator. They just make stuff up, usually based on some trite conception that is occasionally actually true but which has no basis for being proven or even expected to be correct on a case-by-case basis.

The actual process is a matter of pure logic: lets say, per the quotation, that a basketball team has a big run. They score 16 straight points, then the other team scores 2 points, then they score 6 of the next 10 points. They are in the logic category called “after big run”, so if the other team scores the majority of the points from here over a fairly short score-span they will be said to have “let down after their big run”. Its all nonsense, however, since there is no certain way to extrapolate the psychology… all that is KNOWN are the pattern of points. But the commentator, preconditioned to use concepts which are usually false, has no overriding judgement otherwise. The example I gave was just one of many.

We hear a lot, especially from our glorious friends the football commentators, about a concept called “momentum”. You’d think when a term like this is used so often the commentators would have done statistical analysis to determine that there actually IS such a thing. I’ve never seen such analysis referred to, but every one of them that uses the word probably has it posted in his office. Just to be sure though, I decided to do a bit of research myself.

The data set is Week 1 of the 2006 regular season in the National Football League. I decided to test for momentum by determining how often a team scored following its own score versus following a score from the other team. Two key things that influence this are the fact that barring an unusual event like a fumble on kickoff, the other team receives the football following a score, also any disparity in quality between the two teams increases the likelihood of the better team following up on its score with another. Unfortunately how important these two factors are is beyond the scope of this work. Also of importance is the number of total scores in the game… the more scores the more likely that scores will be alternating, since it raises the importance of the “other team gets the ball following a score” factor.

The first score of the game is disregarded of course, since it didn’t follow a score. All other scores, including defensive scores like turnover returns and safeties, are counted.

The way it turned out, is that 49 times a score was following the opponent’s score, and 45 times a score was following the same team’s score.

There is one other problem with the use of “momentum” by sports commentators, this one psychological. While I don’t agree with momentum, I do agree that during the course of a game a team plays better or worse at different times during the game, so that its possible for a good commentator to determine when a team is playing well. Unfortunately, however, sports are a very intimate proposition and each team responds to the other very quickly. If one team is playing better than usual the other team can raise their own game, and often does. Depending on the *reason* for the better play though, this isn’t always possible. If the better play is, say, due to calling better plays, the players themselves can’t adjust for that (although coaches of course also adjust to what each other is doing).

The unfortunate thing in all of this is that many sports commentators are very knowledgeable and in some cases intelligent people. Its sad that they have to resort to nonsense to try to appear more capable than they are, or to add color (however inaccurate) to their verbal proceedings.

As a general rule, I recommend less psychological adventurism to the sports commentator.

Isn’t the truth fancy enough?

Great Scott Ritter piece

March 22, 2007

My Google Video watch list

March 21, 2007

This is my current google video watch list, in no particular order:

Seymour Hersh

George Galloway (he may be dropped soon)

Al Jazeera (in English or English dubbed)

The Daily Show (usually I have to go to the Comedy Central website courtesy of Viacom International)

The Colbert Report (likewise)

Keith Olbermann (Countdown MSNBC)

Chris Hedges

Noam Chomsky

Greg Palast

Rethinking the Criminal Justice system

March 21, 2007

As an understatement, there are some problems with the criminal justice system in the United States.

First, the concept of “cruel and unusual punishment”.

This concept enforces insanity by means of presupposing that jail itself is NOT cruel and unusual. Humans who consider themselves decent and intelligent say that they abhor the death penalty, so instead lets lock someone up for life. They don’t even give this statement a second thought: its so obviously true to them. This groupthink concerning death penalty/no death penalty is a form of mass psychosis. Much more important issues like the nature of the prison experience, of the opportunity costs of jail, of the cost of jail to the taxpayer, etc. are not addressed. Binarythink is at best primitive. To throw out one statistic showing the insanity, we debate more in this country concerning whether or not to kill 60 felons a year (the going rate of executions) than we did concerning whether or not to go to war against Iraq which would lead to the deaths of nearly one million innocent people (so far). Curious priorities with respect to a sane people. You can draw your own conclusions.

Lets take a look at the light side of the prison experience: this is the Alexandria Detention Center in Alexandria, Virginia. Read the website to see its modern, state of the art, liberal nature… its the very essence of avoidance of “cruel and unusual” punishment.

Judith Miller has this to say about her brief time there.

Most jails are considerably worse experiences than that.

Judith Miller found her experience very unpleasant, but bearable, primarily because of the short time length. Now imagine someone undergoing those conditions, or worse conditions, or *much* worse conditions , for several years.

I must admit to not always understand people. So when they talk about “cruel and unusual punishment” to somehow disinclude the normal prison experience, I just can’t wrap my head around how they come to that conclusion.

I wonder how many of the half of all prison inmates who report mental health problems got those problems as a result of prison itself. I can’t think of a better place to go to lose my mind (ok, maybe the White House). Perhaps the humans who talk about the lack of “cruel and unusual punishment” in prisons can assist me there. Oh wait, they are too busy debating the death penalty.

So lets turn to that issue, that apparently INCREDIBLY important issue.

#1: Stop calling it a penalty. Long term jail sentences are the REAL penalty. Abusing a human for many years is worse than killing him.

But why should I, or the humans I’m disagreeing with in this post, have the right to decide, anyway? As a short-term solution, why not let the criminals themselves decide their fate? Any sentence over 5 years, lets say, would include this question of the criminal: “Would you rather receive a death sentence or a sentence of X years in prison?”

Its the criminal who has to live with the sentence, why not give him some control over his future?

But this will never happen, because of what the real motivation for the “death penalty” debate is in this country.

Americans like to play God, especially with humans they deem to be “inferior”, like criminals. The debate is a power trip, control over life and death. The debate ITSELF is of value, and hence perpetuating the debate is the idea.

Its no longer cool to kill brown people, or yellow people, or many people we used to consider inferior and hence took grim pleasure in abusing. But since the motivation for abuse remains, there needs to be found a new target.

Orwell would find cynical amusement in it. Instead of debating truth, the debate serves to underline the control the debaters have over the debated. It doesn’t make any sense to resolve the debate or put it in context to render it irrelevant… it makes sense only to maintain it.

That we’ve turned Orwell into a sage and not a crackpot is as big a condemnation of humanity as any I’ve ever seen. We need to end this age of Orwell as soon as possible, or we will make these words all too true…

“I can’t see this ending well”.

A further examination of the Nerd – history and cultural significance

March 20, 2007

I’ll expand upon my previous account of the Nerd as the Modern Ascetic…

The Nerd is a strictly American creature… emerging out of American culture. It began directly after World War II as a form of social dissidence, far preceding the Beatniks and other creatures that stole the spotlight. Unlike the previous American dissidents, the carnies, nerds were integrated into American society from the outset, and only through identification and ostracization could be forced *out* of society.

I’m a bit surprised that nerds existed in the 1940s, given that unlike the readily acknowledged perversity of the 1950s the 1940s were supposed to be a fairly sane period. Admittedly, their popularity and recognition emerged in the 1950s as factory-line culture needed an enemy within when the mythic communist foe was not sufficient.

Its incredibly ironic that this first generation of nerds were seen not as dissidents, but as *anti-dissidents*… the problem, it was said, was that they were TOO normal, too boring. What was not recognized (except by nerds themselves) and still is not recognized to the present day is that American culture itself, that is to say *mainstream* culture, was becoming corrupt, losing traditional American values. While carnies never were anything more than a caged freakshow, nerds were free men who would fight against the cages that would inevitably be built for them.

Another aspect of the early nerd which would become less prevalent in the second generation is their adherence to science and technology. The techno-nerd places his faith in technology instead of in a decaying American humanity.

While nerds continued into the 1960s, the movement halted in the late 1960s as traditions of liberal humanism reasserted themselves. Also take note that the 1970s saw a hibernation of the movement as it simply was not necessary given the self-reflection of the period.

The 1980s, however, were far different. Perversity arguably became worse than it ever was in the 1950s and hence the call for nerds reemerged in force. Culture was more prepared for this second generation and for the first time they entered the awareness of the mainstream, albeit still with almost total ignorance. The movement broadened beyond science and technology to a more general intellectual stance, and for the first time became overtly ascetic, perhaps due to increased self-recognition.

While the movement declined in power in the 1990s, the internet emerged as a breeding ground for many dissident groups, and nerds for the first time (outside of select places like science labs) found a level of comfort and a society of the like-minded.

The 2000s would see nerds become accepted to a degree within the mainstream, albeit with the mainstream’s revenge of the preferred term “geek”. With this acceptance comes the end of the nerd as a cultural contributor in America, barring a re-invention such as Nerd 2.0.

Its a terrible shame that unlike the Beatniks, the Hippies, or the New Conservatives, the Nerds have never and probably will never receive credit as true American heroes. And all because they don’t make fancy speeches or appear on television. Ah well, gotta love humans.

The greatest flash animation of all time

March 15, 2007

Qt3 IRC request

March 14, 2007

This is a request for a removal of my banning from the Qt3 IRC channel. I’m at about 75% emotional stability and would very much like to check back in with the IRC group.

Improvement of the Real-Estate Agent commission system

March 14, 2007

As discussed in the book Freakonomics, real-estate agents make commission based on every dollar of the sale price of a home. The problem is that the vast majority of a home’s cost takes no effort at all to get. So a home that could sell for between $250,000 and $300,000 lets say… the first $250,000 is easy. Therefore they should receive no commission based on it. They should instead receive a much larger percentage commission, but *only* on the amount of dollars they sell the house for above the baseline.

This begs the question of how the baseline is determined and who determines it. Ideally this would be done by means of a publically available computer formula. I don’t know whether this is doable. Another solution is to have a third party, who obviously must not have relations with either the real-estate agent or their client, form the baseline, perhaps even associated with the government.

This would improve the system assuming the additional element (the computer formula or third party) does not introduce problems or costs that supercede the gains. Its something that should be introduced on an experimental basis and can be taken from there.

The greatest shaper and destroyer of truth

March 13, 2007

Self-serving behavior.

Introducing Aspects of War to Everyday Life

March 13, 2007

My primary goal in social life is to destroy war by means of incorporating its noble elements into peaceful societies.

To the ignorant and doggedly-determined-to-be-innocent American soul, war is all about horror. To say its anything else is to be called bad names, or worse. But war is about far more than violence, domination, fear, and psychological self-destruction. Its about comraderie, about love, about honor, about passion, about the sublime.

Within war man sees things, experiences things, that he never has before and never will again. War is the most common of all creative endeavors… much like sex it gives even simple, base men access to the unspeakable, to the remarkable, to the amazing. It is this spiritual aesthetic of war that grants it power and commonality, not the power of dark impulses that so many stupid people claim. Noone wants to be a killer – many people however want people to be sacrificed in their name, as nearly a million Iraqis have been sacrificed in ours. We are thus both horrified and laudatory of the process. As the adage goes – kill a man and go to jail. Kill a million and be declared a hero. Kill a billion and rule the world.

War is nothing more or less than theft – it is clearly, by far, the greatest possible atrocity humans can commit. Yet I have fought my whole life, and continue to fight, against its annihilation at the hands of self-righteous people who see nothing and claim only the highest morality. They are right about one thing – all they have is the highest morality.

Everything is a process, and for war to be destroyed its noble elements must be conferred upon non-warring humans.

Many people have claimed that the arts and other creative processes are the key to this. This is true, and what is necessary is the rendering of creation during common existence. To transform life itself into a work of art.

Early experimenters of this process are often treated as inhuman monsters. Ideologues, for example, who live their life for an idea. Actors, who interpret person after person.

As this process continues social cohesion breaks down. Creative processes are inherently difficult to control, as any artist will tell you. Thus concurrent with this process is the increasing idealization and idolization of war itself, a return to “simple times”, a return to certainty, to tradition, to an end to the difficult and terrifying experiments that we find ourselves living.

Some have argued that we need to fight fire with fire, that we need to idealize the artform of everyday living and demonize war. But how cowardly is that? To fight one unfortunate thing by creating another is foolish.

The perhaps grim truth is that noone has the answers. Experiments must go on. We must continue to turn ourselves into extremes, perhaps into legends, in this noble pursuit of an end to war.

Make no mistake, that is what will happen once we succeed, once our endless experiments find success. We may not even recognize success when it happens. But our descendents will celebrate us. And that’s all that’s important.

The destruction of free will

March 13, 2007

The mind/road analogy:

Free will is like an empty road. While its empty its free, but while its empty its also dormant.

Once cars, trucks, people, and other things exist on the road, the road is no longer free. It starts taking slow damage from the weight and movement of the vehicles. It doesn’t choose what goes on the road, although its nature (2 lane highway, freeway, dirt road, location) affects what things are on it. The road becomes defined largely by what is on it.

Yet humans continue to persist in this notion of free will. As if a human being had control over his own life not just to a small extent, but a *complete* extent.

The myth of free will is damaging in innumerous ways, but perhaps the worst is that it implies that the mind SHOULD be empty, that in glorious nothingness lies true freedom. What can be said about a road *never* travelled?

How Nietzsche was destroyed

March 10, 2007

Nietzsche was a caged man. He called it a sacrifice, but only a free human can make a sacrifice. Nietzsche was something different.

The 20th century, Nietzsche’s century, was marked by losses of conscience. The massive propaganda campaigns that began in the West in World War I that still continue today, fascism, buffoonery, large-scale violence and weaponry the world had never seen before, the threat of annihilation at any time which turned powerful states into continual terrorist institutions… not only did these things put the conscience under assault but they could only derive from a conscience that had already faded into primitive retreat.

Take a close look at Nietzsche. He is not a happy man. What he calls happiness is his “overcoming of the ideas of others with his own ideas”. That’s a noble pursuit, and he very much wanted it to make him happy, but it never did. More importantly, it never *could*.

Things have degraded to such an extent that many humans today do not live by their conscience, they live by laws and rules. Thankfully we have laws, they say, or we would descend into chaos. Only someone with no operational conscience would ever think that, much less say it. If you have no internal constraint, by necessity you need an external one.

Nietzsche’s role as the architect of the destruction of the conscience is that he considered his cage to be built out of his conscience. He blamed his conscience for his unhappy life (even as he exalted it for his philosophical accomplishments). His conclusion: the happy are the conscienceless. Oh, this wasn’t his *intellectual* conclusion, it was the emotional one that underlied his bitter writing. That such monsters gained happiness while he suffered was the complaint running throughout his work.

The 20th century, witnessing the schizophrenia of a man who exalts the conscience in words while despairing over it in feeling (also despairing over it in words sometimes like the Will to Power), could only become schizophrenic itself, thus leading to works such as 1984 and Catch-22, which capture in essence the war waged between Conscience and Ideology.

That’s half of the story. The other half is why the Conscience won that battle. That, alas, remains a mystery for me. But as the war is over, Nietzsche’s war is over, and Nietzsche is over. Nietzsche would say with his manufactured excitement: “I was overcome!”. Maybe, maybe we’re just ready to move on. Not everything is a war, Nietzsche.

300: Very Entertaining

March 9, 2007

I was really surprised by how well this movie works. I don’t understand how the critics managed to get so much so wrong.

Critics: The movie is shallow, an empty spectacle.

Rebuttal: Not particularly, especially when you consider how much of it is battle sequences. I agree that less time spent on battle sequences would have allowed for more depth, but that’s not what the movie was going for. 300 is a movie about adherence to simple values.

Critics: The movie is too still – showing too much allegiance to the source material of the comic book.

Rebuttal: That’s part of its unique style, and made it more exciting than the same story told with traditional moviemaking.

Critics: The movie was inappropriately erotic.

Unsure:  I’m tempted to agree here, but the eroticism fit in very well with the movie. I’ve never heard Spartan culture described as steeped in eroticism by historians however, so perhaps the critics have a point.

Critics: The movie was like watching a video game.

Rebuttal: I don’t understand the analogy here. I thought the movie was like watching a movie, or like a comic book set to the screen.

Critics: The movie should have picked a side – taken a more clear political stand.

Rebuttal: And be even more offensive than it already was? So that we can draw silly analogies between Ancient Greece and the events of the present? What would a more clear political stand have done? As it was the movie idealized Sparta and vilified the Persians – what more do you want?

Critics: The movie bodes poorly for the future of traditional moviemaking.

Rebuttal: What’s wrong with evolution? What makes movies unique in that they should never change, while everything else does? Are you worried that you won’t be able to accurately critique something new? Oh wait – you’re already proving that.

Catch-22 / American social critique

March 8, 2007

 This is another excerpt of an email with a friend… his words are in red and plain, mine are in red or blue and italicized.

In fact, I think it was somewhat the opposite — people acting rationally (in the sense of protecting their own self-interests) in an irrational situation. I don’t remember the book all that well any more, but I’m thinking things like bombing their own base to make their stock rise, moving the bomb line on the map so they wouldn’t need to make a suicidal bombing run, and Major Major Major Major always been out when he was in so that he never had to see people face-to-face.

That’s a good point. About the larger self-interest… the reason its a good idea to not commit crimes for example is not because you might be caught but because you yourself benefit from creating an ethical and moral environment.

This leads to perhaps the most fundamental question of Catch-22: Why was there a breakdown in the valuation of the larger self-interest?

It seems to me this question is fundamentally *conservative* in nature. Catch-22 is very much a book of social criticism.

Isn’t Catch-22 at the heart of the 1960s neurosis about the breakdown of society? Didn’t Catch-22 lead inexorably to the Neocons?

Was the situation irrational, or rather was no rationality *agreed upon*, no order formed thus leading to a breakdown of social order?

Didn’t it seem like in the book that people were making the rules up as they went along? Everyone in Catch-22 is an eccentric because there is no shared perception of reality whatsoever.

I think most people most of the time don’t consider much beyond their immediate self-interest. That’s why it’s hard to raise taxes or to get people to be environmentally responsible. “Defending our country” is one the few exceptions, which is why it makes such a good political rationale for things like the Iraq invasion.

The only time people *don’t* consider much beyond their immediate self-interest is when the social order has broken down. Isn’t the conscience nothing more than the “larger self-interest”?

Most people haven’t really thought through the important political issues of our time, and they get uncomfortable when their beliefs get challenged. (Sometimes this can be good, as when Katrina challenged the notion of Bush’s competence as President. I’m sure many of his (former) supporters found it difficult, but they changed their minds — just as my father finally did about Vietnam.)

You bring up one of the biggest problems in America… people have unfounded beliefs. Isn’t it fundamentally nonsensical to have beliefs which are NOT based on evidence and reflection? Yet Americans in all walks of life spew their beliefs as if the point was the spewing itself. I think Americans consider words a battlefield which they must engage in regardless of the quality of their troops, and furthermore consider VOLUME and *repetition* to be weapons of mass destruction of their opponents whereby they define “opponent” as whoever happens to be near them at the moment. Its no wonder that sometimes I have nothing but contempt for America.

Here’s a radical concept: how about not have ANY beliefs *until* one gains evidence and reflection? Beliefs in and of themselves have no value.

Generally, things change for the better either when there’s a growing popular realization that the old ways were wrong (e.g., racial prejudice) or when a leader steps forward who is able to convince people to look beyond their immediate self-interest as the Kennedys where sometimes able to do.

The “growing popular realization” method is far better in these times of concern about Authoritarians. People like Kennedy make me queasy even while they espouse nobility.

The internet is great as a medium for these popular movements. If things go well the internet will enable the overthrow of traditional authorities like the mass media.

It’s hard to know which way we’re now headed. The growing concentration of mass media, the outsourcing of many industrial jobs, the increasing income inequality, and the real potential of terrorist threats are all pretty scary. On the other hand, the internet is bringing an incredible new diversity of sources of news and opinions, there’s much more acceptance of minorities in our culture and perhaps more open-mindedness in general, and I think young people are increasingly aware that the future of the planet is at stake.

Yeah, I have this same schizoid sense. Its as if two forces are pulling in opposite directions with the country in the middle.

To me the major challenge has always been to convince people that their REAL self-interest would be better served by making more thoughtful political decisions. I hope it’s not too utopian to believe that still can happen.

On the Conscience and the New America

March 8, 2007

 This is an excerpt of an email to a friend…

A couple things about the book Catch-22…

Although the most common comment I hear about it is that its “anti-war”, I believe its primarily anti-imperialism. The loss of the conscience, for example, such as when the man is cut in two by his friend in an airplane, has little to do with war but a lot to do with the conscience losing the battle to its conception of participation in an *unjust* war. The novel’s events take place in WWII, but it was published in 1961, making it a Cold War and American Imperialist book (post-Eisenhower), similar in tone to Dr. Strangelove. I imagine it must have had a huge impact on you with respect to Vietnam.

The book is primarily about the self-sabotaging actions of a people as they descend into irrationality as a result of the revolt of their conscience. They set up a bureaucratic nightmare world to ensure that their conscience does not prevail against their “better judgement”.

What’s really at stake in American culture is the existence of the conscience itself… if the conscience will have to be exterminated in the name of ideals and systems and “better judgement”.

My understanding is that Nietzsche has recently become a corpse, and that Orwell is the new underlier of American culture. Whether this will be enough to save America is anyone’s guess.

I like this word to describe this whole thing: “Ridiculous”.

You know what’s really depressed me over the years?… I try to talk to people about issues like these and they just have no interest… the apathy (or worse) is staggering. They won’t even tell me *why* they don’t want to talk about it… its a Wall of Silence they put up. I’ve been called crazy on no small number of occasions. I became so disgusted that I started referring to people as “humans” or “stupid humans”. I subsequently discovered this is not a good method of trying to engage people in conversation.

Its a tough thing to have to consider the choice between America being apathetic and America being self-destructive.

I wonder if America will discover the fortitude to deal with these issues before its too late. Good signs abound, but insane reality also abounds, like us threatening Iran and increasing the strength of terrorist organizations.

The War on Terror is a joke (as Sacha Cohen wisely pointed out, its a War of Terror). The real war is Conscience vs. Ideology. The real war is Self-Criticism vs. Self-Righteousness.

We must win these wars.

Colbert proves Chomsky wrong

March 8, 2007

I think it bears watching this on a regular basis. Its one of the greatest political statements in history, remarkably occurring within the mainstream (although it was suppressed by most of the mainstream media).

Colbert washed all the dirt and pain of the Administration away, if only for a night. The next day the media and the administration piled more on.