Radio Silence

Not really posting a lot, and don’t really think I will be much in the next few weeks. Working on a few different longer essays. Perhaps you’ll see some shortly.

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Serious Terrorist Threat

The report from Reuters mentions the “mocking” nature of this threat. From that, its obvious Reuters has been subverted from within by a series of high placed moles. Al Qaida is striking back. We take out their leader and top brass and they manage to take over one of the three remaining real news sources left! Think about it! Newspapers don’t have reporters anymore. They just license out to Reuters, AP or McClatchy. Control Reuters and ostensibly you control 1/3 of the news Americans get. This is dastardly stuff. Cue image of dastardly.

Al-Qaida has put out a press release through their puppet media company, Reuters. The terrorist organization/media empire has offered a reward of chickens and camels for information on the whereabouts of the president and his senior staff. The press release goes on to say that Al Qaida feels anti-Obama mid-westerners are only a lifetime supply of chicken away from turning their president over to the terrorist network.

The reward of camels is puzzling and some experts have theorized about its intent.

Steve Doocey of Fox News postulated, “a reward of camels may be targeting Hollywood executives with free props for the never-ending stream of Middle East war movies that Hollywood seems to be churning out these days. The industry has made no secret of its practice of using camel gore as a stand-in for dead Arab-types.”

The state department responded with:

…a reward of $5 million each for the whereabouts of Khalaf and three associates, as well as $7 million for information about al-Shabab founder and commander Ahmed Abdi aw-Mohamed. A bounty of $3 million was offered for the location of two other officials of the organization.

Reuters responded that such promises of cash rewards will never have any effect in the camel and chicken-based economies of every Middle Eastern country.

Source

Ray Bradbury

Although, I feel like kind of a sham trying to honor the man. I think I only ever read Fahrenheit and some short stories. None the less, there’s gold in them hills. See below:

We are the miracle of force and matter making itself over into imagination and will. Incredible. The Life Force experimenting with forms. You for one. Me for another. The Universe has shouted itself alive. We are one of the shouts.

Source via the Dish

The Forever War (a metaphor for PTSD)

The best summary of the themes of Slaughterhouse Five that I have read:

Rereading Slaughterhouse-Five taught me two things about the novel: how great it really is, and what it’s really about. It’s not about time travel and flying saucers, it’s about PTSD. Vonnegut never explicitly negates the former possibility, but the evidence for the latter is overwhelming once you start to notice it. Billy Pilgrim, whose wartime experience closely parallels Vonnegut’s own, does not announce his abduction to the planet Tralfamadore, where he is displayed in a zoo and mated with the Earthling porn star Montana Wildhack—with the strong suggestion that he doesn’t imagine it, either—until after the plane crash that replays, in several respects, his wartime trauma.

Source via The Daily Dish

What If they Didn’t…?

In Pinellas county, the high school graduation rate is somewhere less than 50 percent. Statewide, that number is comparably depressing. Less than half of students ever make it out of high school with a diploma. Florida also does not compare well nationally. For as long as I can remember, Florida has ranked in the bottom ten of the nation’s schools in terms of putting out top quality education – you know, the chart always topped by Massachusetts and bottomed by Louisiana or Mississippi. So I find myself, in response to the below quote from the Sunday column on this issue:

“We run the risk of telling kids, ‘You’ve gone to school X amount of years, and you didn’t learn anything.’ That’s a scary thought,” Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes said.

What if they didn’t? Learn anything, I mean. What if the average Floridian student is not suitibly prepared for college? Or ready to enter the ever increasingly STEM-dependent workforce? I find myself concluding: they aren’t – I certainly wasn’t – and last week’s retreat from owning this failure proves the state’s students will continue to exit school utterly unprepared.

So let’s run away from owning it and adjust what “passing” means. It echoes our contemporaries at the bottom of the nation’s educational totem pole. Let’s embrace our fine Southern exemplars on the Mississippi river. Let’s eviscerate education funding and redefine success ever lower.

Cheers.

http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/testing/time-to-ring-the-bell-on-fcat/1231057

Necessary Self Congratulation

Thanks for making it this far. I have posted here on and off for the better part of three years now. Just this week I passed the 1,000 post mark. What’s that mean? Well, it means no one really reads this, it’s a place for me to aggregate my sentiments and practice writing. That means still not knowing the difference between its and it’s and it is. Nor effect and affect. Bugger that.

I’ve plucked some notable fun stuff to read from the first 1,000 posts below.

Undergraduate Thesis – Bioshock and Atlas Shrugged

The Villages – Part 1

Constipatory prose (pretty solid proof that I can’t write very well)

The Blight of the Suburbs

Maybe my best headline

Anyways, that’s enough of that.

Donate: Make It Known

Yesterday, Facebook added an option to flag yourself as an Organ Donor. Intelligent discussion about what that offers can be found at The Dish* or in the form of a TED Talk, if you prefer.

Some instructions from Facebook on how to do this. Basically, it’s in Life Events under Health and Wellness.

There’s no good reason not to be an Organ Donor. That means people with religious reservations. If your god would like you to take life-saving devices implanted in your body to the grave, then your god is immoral. Period. The end. Still not sold? If you dispute your god and ignore his commandment against organ removal and go to hell, at least you’ll have been a good human on this Earth, and die knowing “maybe I’ll go to hell or maybe I’ll get lucky and be wrong about god being a selfish asshole and I won’t burn forever, but either way I will save the life of a few other fellow humans by doing this.”

*Yes, that’d be how I found out about this.

In Memoriam

This interview from the Colbert Report last Monday reminds me of a story. Don McLeroy is the feature of a documentary about revisionism of American History.

In honor of the new blood flowing through this story, I would like to re-post the below actual letter I mailed in March 2010 to all of the members of the Texas School Board that had changed its posture on much of American history, including the prominence of Thomas Jefferson.

______________________________________

America’s Only History book. Period. Shut up. MacMillan Books, Lubbock, Texas.  (c) 2013

Back before the Civil War, there was a war with Mexico.  They had a huge army backed by the imperialistic might of the Spanish empire.  It all started when Mexico invaded the city of El Alamo.  Luckily, Davy Crockett, Daniel Boon, Sam Houston, Ronald Reagan and Jesus were there to kill the Mexicans.  They were driven across the Rio Grande, and the war was over.  Crockett, Boon and Houston built a wall between the border of the United States and Mexico and Jesus teleported to Mexico City, which he burned to the ground.  Shortly after, an evil army of liberals led by Barack Mohammed Hussein bin-Obama tore the wall down and invited all 100 million Mexicans to steal the 2008 election for him.  They also stole everyone’s jobs.

This is the true story of America that the government doesn’t want you to know about.

The American Revolution

One Thursday afternoon before July 4, 1776 a bunch of guys in Boston threw a bunch of British tea into the water because they didn’t want to pay taxes.  They also refused to drink coffee, which is why this was such a big deal.  Everyone in Texas at this time was drinking coffee, so they didn’t have this problem.  Until recently, everyone was really confused why tea was such a big deal. Historians still don’t quite understand why Bostonians were so pissed about tea.  The leading theory is that they were very drunk after a St. Patrick’s Day parade and needed to destroy something.  Others postulate that legal gay marriage in the Massachusetts Colony caused God to infect the citizen’s brains with a parasitic worm.  However, all historians agree that if Bostonians had just drank coffee, war could have been avoided.

The British got really mad that all that tea got wasted.  So they sent a lot of Red Coats to live with Bostonians and keep them out of trouble. Remember that from John Adams on HBO? Man, that shit was intense.  There was that intense music and slow motion of women getting rifle-butted by Red Coats.  Didn’t happen.  But now it did cause it’s in this textbook! Hah! Suck it.

Thomas Jefferson, who was living with all the Founding Fathers in Boston somewhere, was really pissed cause this cut deeply into his slave sex time.  Ashamed to sleep with his slaves in front of strangers, Jefferson was forced to have sex with his actual wife.  This pissed him off terribly. He fled Boston to Virginia where he stayed until he died, having done absolutely nothing of importance for the rest of American History.  For some reason he was elected Second President of the United States and for this he was put on the $2 bill.  Everyone knows if Texas was allowed to vote for the Second President of the United States, it definitely would not have been Jefferson.  Everyone thought Jefferson sucked, so the U.S. Treasury stopped producing $2 bills.

Anyways, so while writing the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution, Jesus was also farming a lot of cattle.  He was the best cattle-wrangler in all of Lubbock, which he occasionally would teleport to.  You know what, no. He was in both places at once.  He was in Philly writing the Declaration of U.S.A. Patriotism Constitution and roping cattle at the same time.  Anyone who says different is an atheist and doesn’t get to vote.  There, that’s settled.  Even blacks, with 3/5 of a human vote will have more votes than atheists because we beat and raped the tribal African religions out of them. It’s called civilization.  Deal with it.

So where was I?

The United States of America and the Independent Country of Texas totally kicked British ass for, like, 5 years or something like that. The French, who like all civilized people really hate the English, wanted to join the war.  America was initially hesitant about being helped by a communist country, but decided that any enemy of my enemy is my… wait.  No… what is it? You fool me twice, shame on you… You can’t fool me is what I’m getting at here. I guess…

So the French sent over their most fearsome baguette bakers and Panini pressers.  Sadly, they were all annihilated by a vengeful army of frogs at the Battle of New Orleans.  Having lost their Middle Class, France’s political structure crumbled.  But, they saw how awesome America was at kicking ass and decided to have a revolution to try and be like the United States.  This was never successful because France is full of fags.

England totally lost.  They were injured.  Real injured.  Since Jesus was totally pissed that England attacked the United States in the first place, he infected all the English with poor dental hygiene and syphilis.  This is, of course, until Margaret Thatcher started hanging faggots in Trafalgar Square – it’s like their Times Square – which pleased Jesus, who then told Ronald Reagan that it was OK to forgive them.

Now that America won, they could write their Bill of Rights.  Jesus told George Washington and John Adams that only Christians (preferably white Protestants – Yeah! I’m talking to you Kennedy!) could be President.  This is why when Barack Hitler Mohammed Hussein bin-Laden Obama stole the election in 2008, Jesus forsook the United States and caused the economy to collapse until the Republican party could win it back from the evil Muslim Kenyan/Hawaiian/Indonesian.

George Washington and John Adams liked to hunt.  A lot.  Let me put it this way.  Have you ever been inside a Longhorn Steakhouse? Or I mean, pretty much any steakhouse.  Yeah, that’s what their house looked like.  Here’s an anecdote (it means a short personal story) about it: One day, feeling particularly patriotic, John Adams walked outside his front door and grabbed a mountain lion by the throat and nailed it to a frame on his wall while it tried to claw his face off.  He then took a shit comprised mainly of nails and razor wire.

Jesus also told the Founding Fathers that they had to accomplish a couple of things in securing basic liberties for the people of this new country.

1. No queers.

2. Only white men can vote.

3. You can say whatever you want unless it offends Christians.

4. The official religion of the United States is Christianity (again, preferably Protestants – Do I      have to come over there Kennedy? I swear.)

5. If you don’t have a gun, you can’t vote.

6) Taxes are really bad unless they are spent in your state.  Only your representative does a       good job, it’s other people who are electing assholes.

7. Public Education is a sin.  Reading this textbook right now is a sin.  Close your eyes.  Stop it!     Oh man, you are totally going to hell right now.  You better feel real guilty about reading this.

8. The States are basically their own countries.  The government in Washington is really only       legitimate when controlled by whichever political party you like.

9. It’s a moral imperative to kick the shit out of whichever country looks at you wrong.  Especially if they have a lot of brown people and no standing army.

Having established a country for his future resurrection place (or whatever the hell it is that Mormon’s believe), Jesus was free to rest. He ventured to a cave somewhere mysterious – who’re we kidding, it was in Texas – and slumbered until the day when humanity would need him again.  The Founding Fathers finished the Constitution, which is totally specific about everything and needn’t be interpreted by anyone!  Then, they too, joined Jesus in a cave – isn’t the Whispering Caves in Texas? Whatever. it is now.  This is a textbook.  You’re fucked if you think those caves are in New Mexico or something.  This textbook says the Whispering Caves are in Texas. Students are totally citing this shit in their research papers.  Ha! Just kidding!  People in Texas don’t write.  Or read.

Get over yourselves.

A National Crisis of Cynicism

A shared sense of constitutional justice, a confederacy of national ideals, a basic semblance of right and wrong: these values bind a people together. A nation that does not confront wrong doers or openly suppresses or conflicts with the punishment of wrong doers is no nation at all.

On November 10, 2011, more than 1,000 students at Pennsylvania State University took to the streets to protest the firing of Joe Paterno, coach of the university’s football team. Police donned riot gear, a few violent protestors flipped a van, many just expressed outrage that their beloved coach, nicknamed JoePa, had been fired.

The university’s board fired Paterno because an assistant coach on the football team, Jerry Sandusky, had sexually abused eight to ten young boys. Abuse, in this case, means activity ranging from fondling, sleepovers, oral sex – both received and given – and in one shocking event, the anal rape of a 9 or 10 year old boy in the university’s gym showers. The last event occurred in 2002 and was witnessed by a graduate assistant working on the school’s football team. The graduate assistant went first to his father, then to Joe Paterno on his father’s advice. Paterno did nothing when told by his graduate assistant and the abuse continued. This type of corralling of information, keeping scandal within the institution of football, eerily matches the epidemic of child rape and molestation within the Catholic Church over the last few decades. The story goes: abused families report to bishops who pass the information up the Church’s hierarchical ladder and then the child-raping priest leaves the offending parish and shows up in another part of the country – still spreading God’s word to good little boys and girls.

Apparently, at no point did Paterno’s condoning of rape between 2002 and 2011 sway the minds of protesting students on November 10th at Penn State. They had all the facts just like the rest of the country. Maybe the most fascinating depiction of this powerful dissonance comes through in the feature done in the middle of the scandal for This American Life.  Could these students both feel compassion for the victims and also protest Paterno’s ouster? Can someone detest the rape of little boys – many who turn to drugs (heroine, alcohol, pharmaceuticals) or suicide – but then also want to keep the coach who, when told about the sexual abuse, did nothing? Identically, Catholic parishioners seem equally unfazed by the way the Church has routed abused priests around and paid massive cash settlements in lieu of bringing down secular justice. A compassionate person might expect the exact same type of flipping vans in the streets protest against the inaction in the Catholic Church and against the institutionalized secrecy surrounding Jerry Sandusky’s string of molestations and rapes. The relative silence on both these issues indicates that presumably liberal American college students on the one hand and the presumably conservative Catholic flock on the other will both stomach the most heinous of abuses in order to enjoy the peace of mind given by the camaraderie of a shared university football team or, on the other hand, to enjoy the moral parables of a centuries old clan.[1] Thomas Paine – author of Common Sense[2] – has the best line on  the logical conclusion of this type of dissonant thought:

“When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to the things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime.”

Three months after the firing of Joe Paterno in Pennsylvania, another dissonance-spawning issue occurred outside of Orlando. The shooting of Trayvon Martin and subsequent outrage is more recent, so requires no summary. In the week of my writing this, George Zimmerman was charged by the state of Florida with second degree murder.[3] Second degree murder is basically a spontaneous non-planned murder or, read very closely here, murder based on the killer’s “obvious lack of concern for human life.” The instant Zimmerman was taken into custody the bubble of painful racial tensions burst. Why is that? Most Americans must trust the justice of the courts in a reasonable way or are at least satisfied that something, anything, happened in response.[4] A secondary bout of outrage[5] exploded concerning this case because apparently Florida – and a majority of states – had passed laws making it legal for Zimmerman, or anyone in more than half the states with similar laws, to kill someone, then claim self defense and somehow gain immunity from being arrested. According to Florida’s version of the law, if the Sanford Police Department had arrested Zimmerman, they would have infringed on his right to self defense as defined by stand your ground.  This double play caused some understandable anger and mixed with the death of a presumed innocent ripped a scab off of lingering race issues in a gun state with a bad rap sheet already for dealing with race.

Since the passage of stand your ground in Florida, rates of justifiable homicide have gone up a staggering amount. A story published by the Tampa Bay Times before the Martin-Zimmerman incident regaled a cow-eyed Floridian readership on the statistics. It sparked no outrage or protest, despite stories about homeowners chasing down burglars and stabbing them to death in the streets and other similar cases of what can only be called Wild West justice. Perhaps the line “obvious lack of concern for human life” applies – or do we execute for thievery in Florida?

The most troubling aspect of this case was the delay of justice. Martin was shot on February 26, 2012 and Zimmerman was charged on April 11, 2012. After 46 days, Zimmerman was charged with second degree murder. Do not underestimate the fear and doubt of this span of time. Delaying justice makes the populace think that without protests the government will not act. With the other events of heel-dragging, the American public is practically primed for the protest response. From partisan congressional inaction during an economic crisis to all of the condoned evil fleshed out here, the American people can hardly escape a protest response towards overlooked evils.

“Justice delayed is justice denied. “[6]

This is the same sense of detachment towards justice that Americans have felt about the financial collapse. A few corrupt and exceedingly greedy individuals managed to tank the nation’s economy. Someone clearly broke the law. Nobody has gone to jail for their involvement in the fiscal crisis despite well-reported cases of fraud. Regularly, politicians come out and opportunistically promise to bring anyone responsible for the collapse to justice, if and specifically if, they find anyone who broke the law. This always seems tongue-in-cheek: where both the listener and the speaker recognize the bullshit inherent in the promise.  And despite what Governor Rick Scott or State Attorney Angela Corey said when they had their press event to charge George Zimmerman with second degree murder, the bewildered public feels that without all the protests nothing would have happened. Ultimately, the Occupy movement of last year had the exact same intentions towards the crimes of the fiscal collapse, but did not achieve a similar press event with charges against sociopathic, self-destructive bankers and traders.

How do you address these feelings of detachment and abandonment? That’s more complicated. These emotions and their politicization – think: Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street – undermine the rightful anger they cause. They make the American public feel disassociated or even like enemies. The Trayvon Martin case and the Wall Street financial torpedoing have caused a powerful disassociation between crime and response.  Our right for a redress of grievances seems comically undervalued by those with the power to act and prosecute. Our lizard-brain’s belligerent call for justice against Wall Street, child rapists, and criminals of all kinds must seem laughable. For example, imagine, the Trayvon Martin case had just stayed another 150-word Public Safety story in your web browser or in your newspaper.  No one took to the streets. Just some kid dead outside Orlando. Can you honestly believe the police would have ever acted?

The missteps of justice in the past have worked themselves into the minds of today’s adult Americans. People like, maybe, George Zimmerman, who felt the need to go on armed patrol in his neighborhood. The government certainly cannot or will not protect the average American from pederast priests, financial criminals and all those in power who could have done something but chose not to. One can almost understand why anyone feels the need to carry a concealed weapon or participate in a neighborhood watch group.

These problems of dissonance and the despondency in the American citizen is creating a crisis of cynicism, a critical mass for a great national detachment. The government will not protect you, and to some, is out to get you. Those you disagree with are not only wrong, but evil. Their political embodiments are the very form of the evil-doers of the past: Nazis, Stalinists, Communists, Fascists, bunkered nutcases or anarchic revolutionaries. Justice is not guaranteed for someone who wrongs you. The principles of your religion or lack of religion are being threatened by the other side. All of this conjures up a sense of cosmic crisis, and your lack of ability to do a damn thing about it… well, it makes you powerless. It explains why, for example, presumably liberal students in Pennsylvania will shrug off child rape so they can enjoy football, or how some can shrug off the death of a teenager because, no matter what, Zimmerman can never show his face in public again, or even how the American voter can be so understandably Civil War-ish across the political divide.

When you take away a shared sense of fairness, everyone is a possible enemy or at best, your critical faculties for discerning real threats evaporates. And you certainly cannot rely on the justice system to determine who is wrong or evil, much less actually punish in a meaningful way. Unless there’s a reliable sense of justice and the average American can enjoy a dissonance-free experience of discourse, the more fear-motivated among us will continue to silently arm themselves and patrol the streets and we, the fearful patrolman and the silently angry alike, both know that the chance that the Big Evils – the child rapists, the financial criminals, and so on – will continue to walk the streets.


[1] Of whom, we can only assume, the moral values imposed either fall on deaf ears  or perhaps these teachings actually also condone the rape of children?

[2] Which, strangely, Glenn Beck appropriated the title for his own excoriation of modern “big government”. Strangely because Paine was 1) an actual patriot and 2) had admonished revealed religion in the book from which the noted quote comes.

[3] When I googled this to get a definition, the entire first page was dedicated exclusively to second degree murder in the context of the charges against Zimmerman, what the possible penalty is, what it takes to prove it, etcetera.

[4] Sure, make a cynical sneer, it just proves my overall point.

[5] Maybe the level of attention that televised news can offer to break down contentious issues casts the above understandable controversy in an unfair way. Basically viewers are expected to believe only one of the following is possible 1) a liberal thinks: Zimmerman was a possible racist who was lying about a struggle with the teen and had profiled the young boy – of whom much younger images than current were immediately proffered to the media in favor over more recent photos depicting a grim-looking Martin in football pads and all black jersey – because he was black and wearing a hoodie, or 2)  a conservative thinks: that Zimmerman had just defended himself, he was telling the truth about the struggle, and hey anyhow that black kid was only even in Zimmerman’s neighborhood because he was serving a suspension for having marijuana residue (not actually any smokable stuff, though) in his backpack at school in his hometown of Miami Gardens.

To be sure, not many Americans felt either of those things in such a starkly offensive way. However, some did, namely the very vocal NRA and, on the other side, incendiaries like Al Sharpton – who I have to say wasn’t as critical as he could have been. Both sides were unreasonable because again, on the liberal side, we can’t crucify Zimmerman as a racist or nutcase without evidence and on the conservative side, the NRA thinks the stand your ground law shouldn’t change at all and Zimmerman was completely inside his rights as a gun possessing American and hey, we aren’t even too happy he was charged at all so here’s some money for his defense. These stereotypical liberal/conservative arguments offend equally and come nowhere near a complete view of the scope of the issue. What they have in common is loudness and offensiveness and the appeal of only a very few Americans.

[6] Again, when I googled this, the second, fourth, sixth, seventh and tenth hits were all related to Trayvon Martin. I’d like to also point out this principle is enshrined in our Constitution as the right to a speedy trial, which does not mean the right for suspects to be arrested quickly – though the zeitgeist certainly felt that way about it.

The Really Difficult Thinking

I’m plucking more amazing quotes from The Dish today. I apologize. I’ll eventually spread the panorama of blogs that I subject myself to.

On Free Will and how humans don’t have it:

Ordinary people want to feel philosophically justified in hating evildoers and viewing them as the ultimate authors of their evil. This moral attitude has always been vulnerable to our learning more about the causes of human behavior—and in situations where the origins of a person’s actions become absolutely clear, our feelings about his responsibility begin to change. What is more, they should change. We should admit that a person is unlucky to inherit the genes and life experience that will doom him to psychopathy. That doesn’t mean we can’t lock him up, or kill him in self-defense, but hating him is not rational, given a complete understanding of how he came to be who he is. Natural, yes; rational, no. Feeling compassion for him would be rational, however—or so I have argued.

I always find Harris’ arguments exceptionally problematic to my worldview. Yet I can never think of a reason why they aren’t correct. The Moral Landscape is one of the most challenging books I’ve ever read. If you like getting an intellectual gut-check – and let’s be fair, everyone is a big fan of the huggable bubbles they’ve created for their intellect – I recommend reading it slowly and dispassionately.

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