Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Romney and Israel

Well now. Personally, if Israel wasn't oppressing the Palestinians and hurting other folks in the Middle East I would be content to put it out of my mind and ignore it, letting the people who live there be free in whatever illusions they want to live in, however, such is not the case. These folks have unfortunately linked one of the 20th century's biggest tragedies to their own fucked up behavior, justifying breaking every law in the book by the suffering of the Holocaust. Torture, murdering children? What about the holocaust, asshole, surely you can't be minimizing the suffering of the Jewish people? Huh, what, wait, I didn't say anything about Jewish people in Europe suffering I was talking about Arabs in the Middle East....

I think the people responsible for violence against the Palestinians will go down in history as folks who completely and crassly abused the good feelings and sympathy people gave them for the suffering they endured. "Schindler's List" has nothing to do with the Palestinian people. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Pussy Riot---shameless self promotion at its finest

Because it's these folks themselves, not some actual oppression (beyond the norm in Russia) that's fueling all the attention. It's romantic to picture masked punk rockers fighting the man, but these folks seem to have absorbed the bourgeois ethic of shameless marketing from capitalism, and are using it for full effect.

Top Seattle excuses: you don't get us because you don't understand our Scandinavian culture

Which is invoked regularly to excuse idiocies from chronic unfriendliness to not understanding four way stops. Gee, Scandinavia, Norway, Sweden, they're so exotic. Compared to Kenya or Malaysia,  Norway's like a different universe, a place where you have to spend long decades in before you could even hope to understand their ways. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Also connected to gun culture, rapes in the military?

Well, this is in reference to the post below, talking about how the gun culture in the U.S. is permeated with unhealthy immature male bullshit, and how that situation, and not the bare existence of guns in our society, makes the gun culture dangerous. Even in traditionally patriarchal societies, now and in the past, outside of the U.S., the male ideal is usually vastly different from what's marketed to men in the United States via the TV 24 hours a day. The macho male immaturity of "Jackass" and other shows, where it's cool to be stupid and irresponsible, is linked to consumer culture that pushes the ideal of instant gratification.

Capitalism pushes the ethos of Sasquatch, drinkin' with your buddies, playing video games, having the newest thing now now no, guns give you the power to injure someone now now now, so is it such a surprise that a culture that teaches men that being a shit bag, an unethical person, also features high levels of sexual assault in a place where that ethos is amped up to the max like in the military?

Colorado and gun control laws, the good and the bad

First off, the shootings in Colorado happened after the individual amassed an arsenal in a short period of time, which should not have been allowed to occur. It wasn't just one gun, or two guns, but a huge mass of weaponry that he bought in preparation for the shooting. Plus, he acquired explosives and other devices.

But, that said, while putting some common sense gun control laws back on the books would very much help to stop incidents like these in the future, I believe the whole discourse about gun control in the United States is flawed. To rip off the NRA, guns don't kill people, macho bullshit kills people.

Michael Moore was absolutely right in "Bowling for Columbine" when he looked below the surface of our gun culture to see what was really going on, and pointed to cultural features of American society as the real culprits. Here, guns are connected with instant gratification and masculinity, with having the power of life and death in your hands in a way where any moron off the street can wield it. It's an unhealthy type of masculinity, too.

Folks who object to the frat boy "Fear Factor", "Jack Ass", jock culture in the United States are sometimes accused of wanting to feminize all of life, to try to turn men into women, etc...but the thing is that even in patriarchal societies like Rome and traditional Islam, what men were and are taught is how a man should ideally act was grossly different than the idiot caveman type of behavior advocated in our culture. In these societies, at their best, men were taught to behave themselves with nobility and rationality.

The lack of that attitude, combined with any sort of common sense notion of self restraint and critical thinking on the part of American society as a whole contributes to a culture where people use guns for stupid reasons on a fairly regular basis.

Stand your ground laws are a wonderful example of this. My understanding, based on experience with martial arts and other situations dealing with de-escalating conflict, is that actually using lethal force is really almost never required. There are many different ways of dealing with a situation short of shooting someone, yet these "Stand your ground" laws empower any asshole with a pistol and a chip on his shoulder to swagger around willing to kill someone instead of trying to defuse the situation in other ways.

 Zimmerman is a great example of this. Why should he, as a neighborhood watch person, have been armed in the first place? If he hadn't been walking around with a pistol what would have happened is that he and Trayvon Martin would have gotten in a fight, someone would have won, and events would have proceded from there, maybe with the police being called, maybe with Martin going home to the house he was staying at and calling the police on Zimmerman.

It's the culture and the cultural significance of guns in the United States that are the real problem, and papering over it with gun control laws that are ultra-strict won't do much to change that, but will instead provoke huge conflict over the legislation that will turn it into a political football, advancing one direction in one administration, the other in the next, with no actual progress made towards stopping actual gun violence from occurring.Short of stopping people from arming themselves from the teeth in the space of one month.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Alexander Cockburn passes away

Words are failing me right now. Cockburn was probably the most influential lefty thinker on my life after Chomsky and Zinn.

It's extraordinarily sad, however, I can't pass over the fact that in the past years, actually for most of the (almost) four years of Obama's presidency, Counterpunch.org has veered more and more to the right in a way I consider to be very negative, for instance publishing works by Israel Shamir, a person from Sweden who has traded on an imitation Jewish identity to publish anti-semitic articles. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Oxford computing prof claims overpopulation is at the root of all the world's problems

here. More evidence that folks will believe anyone who has a hard science degree behind their name, who never study human beings at all, before they believe sociologists and anthropologists who actually study people professionally. This guy makes a declaration that he's suddenly found the root of all of our problems.... in an idea that is not only old but had significant problems that were pointed out when it was first proposed in the '70s, and now his sayings are being treated as the newest gospel.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Seattle should take the stick out of its collective ass

The funny thing about this town is that if you come here looking for grunge era slack culture, you'll be sorely disappointed, because the reality is the exact opposite. Folks here in Seattle talk a good game with regards to progressive culture,  being on top of tolerance, being in touch with avant garde literary trends, etc...but when it comes to how they actually live their lives in their own neighborhoods, in their businesses, and in their personal lives in general, you'll be forgiven for thinking you've stepped back into the 19th century where women with high necked lace collars circulate around with fans getting the vapors.

Folks here are perfectly progressive when it comes to issues happening in Washington D.C., several thousand miles to the east, but, well, there's less enthusiasm on the local level. I've seen a person who was all for progressive values do a 180 degree turn when it came to establishing a homeless tent encampment in a Church in her neighborhood. Suddenly, there's not an opportunity to help people but a threat from the homeless people, that the group will include sexual predators who will attack the children of the school the neighborhood, a sentiment that goes well with the ethos common in Oklahoma. When asked about it, she brought up the point that women and parents have a different viewpoint on these things. Right.

Progressive is as progressive does, and by that standard Seattle is not only non-progressive but actively oppressive to the people who live there. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dear internet advertizers

No one believes that there are people out there who hate secret formulas invented by housewives to take away wrinkles etc... This marketing strategy has been applied to everything under the sun, unfortunately,  but if there's something that it really does apply to it's probably to alternatives to fossil fuels, and I haven't yet seen that advertised. 

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Travyon Martin, Zimmerman, and gated communities in Florida

The massive influx of people to Florida has spawned strange living situations, like the gated communities where George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin. I lived in Florida for four years, and encountered a lot of these places. There are actually different levels of gated-ness in Florida, with condo communities there that don't have actual gates but that have very strict covenants about who can and can't live there, and also neighborhood watches.

Depending on where you are, the names often incorporate the words "Colony" and "Plantation" into them. The first is more common in South Florida and the second in northern and central Florida. The "Plantation" label comes from the communities locations on land that was formerly part of slave plantations, but it's supposed to somehow conjure up pleasant memories of the Old South somehow, of nice scenes from Gone with the Wind, with oppression forgotten. Both of the labels are indicative of the nature of the communities.

There's a large African American population in Central Florida, particularly in the Orlando area where Trayvon was shot, and these folks are the direct descendants of slaves who were brought to the area. They did not migrate down to Florida from other areas of the South. Instead they've lived there from the start. The mentality of the residents of the new gated communities often takes on an us and them attitude towards people who already live there. After all, why else would they think they need protection? Although in fairness the mentality runs against poor white Floridians as well as others, but in the case of the Trayvon Martin killings, African Americans were clearly part of the "natives" that the community wanted to protect itself against. 

What killed Trayvon Martin was not simply racism, but racism combined with NIMBY politics transplanted from the North down into the South, into a community where upper class whites (and others) want to live undisturbed by the rabble outside their gates.

Friday, July 06, 2012

It was white people's day...

Chris Rock was right. Not only that, but the argument can be made that the independence of the United States was actually a bad thing for the Native peoples of the United States overall, in that as an independent country the United States gained more of an imperative to destroy Native Americans and occupy their land. 

Monday, July 02, 2012

How's that Global Warming treating you?

Sometime hopefully very soon, folks will realize that there are concrete issues they should have been paying attention to, like Global Warming, as opposed to wastes of energy like debates about Creationism and whether Obama was born in the United States.