Saturday, February 28, 2015

Hunter S. Thompson writing on 9/11/01


The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now -- with somebody -- and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.

It will be a Religious War, a sort of Christian Jihad, fueled by religious hatred and led by merciless fanatics on both sides. It will be guerilla warfare on a global scale, with no front lines and no identifiable enemy. Osama bin Laden may be a primitive "figurehead" -- or even dead, for all we know -- but whoever put those All-American jet planes loaded with All-American fuel into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon did it with chilling precision and accuracy. The second one was a dead-on bullseye. Straight into the middle of the skyscraper."


We are going to punish somebody for this attack, but just who or what will be blown to smithereens for it is hard to say. Maybe Afghanistan, maybe Pakistan or Iraq, or possibly all three at once. Who knows? Not even the Generals in what remains of the Pentagon or the New York papers calling for WAR seem to know who did it or where to look for them.

This is going to be a very expensive war, and Victory is not guaranteed -- for anyone, and certainly not for anyone as baffled as George W. Bush. All he knows is that his father started the war a long time ago, and that he, the goofy child-President, has been chosen by Fate and the global Oil industry to finish it Now. He will declare a National Security Emergency and clamp down Hard on Everybody, no matter where they live or why. If the guilty won't hold up their hands and confess, he and the Generals will ferret them out by force.

Friday, February 27, 2015

2 Cellos Hysteria

This track is they cover of a toxicity track, -system of a down. The system of a down album was released in 1994, the year that the golden age of hip-hop ended.  The reparations that we can make to the African-American community are as follows: all descendants of African-American slaves are not subject to intellectual property laws. That means you can sample freely all audio and video content produced in the United States. Maybe that'll make a dent.

I was thinking about the two cellos playing Michael Jackson smooth criminal, hysteria is the title of the track they gave to the system of a down cover from the album toxicity. They have found a way to circumvent the very intellectual property laws that landed two live crew in so much hot water back when they were on Tipper Gore's list of most wanted banned artists in 1986.

Hannity is a Marxist

Marxism has been falsely equated with Communism.  In an Orwellian Newspeak manner Marxism was preempted from serious academic discussion at my dinner table by virtue of my father's and grandfather's profession as U.S. military pilots.  Although we were learning dialectical materialism in church on Sunday it was forbidden to speak of it on Monday.

Pastors, priests, rabbis and imams are Marxists and despite 40 years of Catholic suppression of liberation theology it extends to Catholicism, Judaism, and Islam as a whole.

Marx simply extended Hegelian dialectics into political theory.  But Marx did not question the underlying premise of Hegelian dialectics which, I claim, are nothing more than a modernization of Judaeo-Christo-Islamic ethics.

The brutality of ISIS has brought us once again face to face with the postmodernist critique of dialectical culture.  If, as Hannity, the Ayatollahs, and the cold warriors (both Marxist and Capitalist) assert, there are clearly defined rights and wrongs then ISIS, Nazism, Stalinism, Maoism and Imperialism are not only inevitable they are to be expected.

Tito began to chip away at the authoritarian regime in Zizek's Yugoslavia by rejecting the Hegelian/Marxist/Freudian dialectic and pursuing the third way.  A closet capitalist and the father of the Yugo, Tito cracked the Soviet stranglehold on Eastern Europe long before Prague Spring and Solidarity.

As Malcolm X was embracing Marxist ideology in the United States


Banned in the USSR

I was just perusing the content rules of the Google blogger website.  A couple years ago I opened my blog and found that an adult content warning had been posted on it.  My visceral reaction was anger and I resented the notion that my blog was being censored in the sense that potential leaders were being warned that they were going to see adult content and ask to make a decision about whether or not they wanted to proceed.  Now we all know that the basis of e-commerce is the lack of decision-making.  As soon as you force me to make a decision I'm just going to navigate elsewhere.

I realize that the  billionaires who are controlling Google have to walk a fine line between what is appropriate and censorship.  And this brings me to a very important part of our democracy. In ancient Greece matters of state, philosophy, medicine, and what is and is not appropriate for children were openly debated in the polis.

Indeed Socrates was sentenced to death for transgressing social norms of the corruption of youth as regarded traditional Greek religion.  I certainly don't wish to suggest that the United States of America has anything approaching the level of democracy of ancient Greece but I would like to aspire to such a level.

My undergraduate history advisor gave us a book called _Imagined Communities_ which was of the sub altern studies approach to history.  The basic premise underlying subaltern studies is that historical research , law, commerce, and government are all controlled by the upper classes.

Even as we peruse the available text of any given historical period we must take into account that the very documents we seek to examine for information are themselves colored by the prejudices of those who had access to academia in that period.

The history of the Indian subcontinent was not written by the untouchable class nor was the history of the Russian Revolution written by serfs, most of whom were illiterate, nor was African-American history written by slaves.

Indeed when I studied African-American history at the University of Cincinnati in 1992 the course was not taught by an African-American.   But I digress.

The polis no longer exists. We don't have a town square where we debate issues of finance, economics and politics. The new polis is the Internet and the closest thing we have to democratic expression of ideas are free blogging sites which are accessible to anyone with access to the Internet.

Now I don't intend to imply that Internet access is universally available worldwide.  But for those of us who do you have access to the Internet and the time and ability to create a blog it seems to me a huge problem with democracy that a third-party may arbitrarily decide that one of our blogs contains "adult content".

Orwell addressed this issue in 1984. In which the over arching State/Corporation of Europa controlled all references in all forms of media to certain events and geographic locations.  Winston Smith's occupation was to scour news items and remove references to this or that state being an ally or an enemy in order to maintain the illusion that the current state of political affairs had existed ad infinitum backwards in time.

If Europa decided to form an alliance with Oceana then Oceana would always be an ally and any reference to the Oceana being an enemy would be eradicated.

Of course the level of media control this related in this dystopian future seemed impossible in 1948 when the book was released but is not Google the Europa of _1984_?

Indeed Google is Europa in the sense that it is a western corporation protected by the world's most powerful democratic government.  Their reach extends worldwide.

If Google decides to classify this blog as "adult content" that affects every single person on the planet who may or may not read it based on that classification.  That level of control is unacceptable.

The rules are below.

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American Indians are smart

The Vanishing Newspaper.  The Fuck Shop. Copyright law, 1994 and the end of the golden age of hip-hop.  When Luke Skywalker decided to sample "Sweet Child of Mine" and "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" on "The Fuck Shop" it created a legal quagmire which brought the golden age of hip-hip to an end.

I used to hear that African-American history was irrelevant unless one was black and ironically the people who said this were aware of 2LiveCrew and the legal uproar they created.

So I was looking at Barak Obama's FB page and I noticed that the biggest number of likes for him is in New Delhi, India (45 million).  Now I hate to profile but based on the Indians in my high school class, my undergraduate history thesis advisor, and the woman who delivered my 4 childrens I feel comfortable drawing the conclusion that American Indians are pretty smart.  On the other hand Ivy League professors overwhelmingly support Obama and they aren't exactly bright.  

Nas and the end of the golden age of hip hop. Tied to copyright law, Victor Hugo and the U.S. holding out on the Berne Copyright convention for over a century.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Critique of Pure Ideology

The lingua franca of our time is English. When Hamlet was written the Danish princes were studying at Wittenberg so one may assume the lingua franca of that time was German. Paul's missions to the Greeks were possible because, as an educated Pharisee, he was fluent in the lingua franca of his time. Through Latin and German the ancient Greek of the world of the Semitic patriarchs transmogrified into the latest Germanic language to hold the title: American English.

The Chinese millionare and the Arab Sheikh, Slavoj Zizek and Angela Merkel, Michael Eric Dyson and the ISIS recruiters they all have this in common: if they want to reach the widest possible audience with their ideological arguments they must do so in American English. Whether the language is a tool to open a factory in the rust belt, recruit a new commander, explain the relationship of hip-hop to Marxism or bemoan the latest exploits of Vladimir Putin, American English is the HTML code of the Netflix world.

There is an artist called Brysci who makes videos on his YouTube channel using "Call of Duty". After the fashion of our time the video game footage is mixed with Brysci's original raps. Brysci's ideology also depends on his grasp of American English. In one of his videos (my personal favorite) he used the phrase "snatchin' dog tags" as a heavily armed soldier does just that. My seven year old son asked me if that was true, if soldiers did snatch dog tags off their fallen victims.

My answer to my son, as an American, son of a Vietnam bomber pilot, grandson of a Korea fighter pilot was as follows: "I can only imagine that the practice of snatching dog tags was practiced by our enemies but it is not likely that we engaged in it as our enemies did not wear dog tags". He responded "In 'Call of Duty' our enemies are Russian". I quickly thought about what dog tags must be called in Russian, drew a blank, and pictured my friends in Moscow who'd returned from Chechnya and Afghanistan but I could not form a mental image of American style dog tags on them. I thought of the Viet Cong, the mujahadeen, and the native americans and could not imagine dog tags on any of them and it was at this moment that I understood the ideology of Brysci.

For the sake of my son's posterity, if he ever decides to root out the sources of his ideology, I want to be as clear as possible about the ideological elements of this conversation. Zizek's favorite American philosopher (after Sam Harris and Noam Chomsky of course) is Donald Rumsfeld. He likes to employ Rumsfeldian analysis to situations such as this so I, being a Zizekian (Hegelian, Freudian, Marxist, Lacanian) will follow suit.

The known knowns: My dad was a combat B-52 pilot in the Vietnam Conflict who retired as a Lt. Col. from the USAF, my paternal grandfather was a Marine infantry grunt in WWII who retired from the US Army, my maternal grandfather was a fighter pilot in the Korean Conflict who attended West Point and retired from the USAF as a Lt. Col., and my great Aunt was one of the first female Marine officers who used her education as a mathematician to break Nazi and Imperial Japanese codes. I enlisted in the USAF at age 17 in order to receive my AFROTC scholarship.

The known unknowns: Is it common practice for soldiers to remove the dog tags from their fallen enemies? Did the Viet Cong, North Koreans, Nazis and Imperial Japanese use dog tags?

The unknown unknowns: DK

The unknown knowns: The use of dog tags is a universal military practice transcending time and culture.

Because my son is seven and his source Brysci is not much older (I assume) I can easily dissect the ideological components of this exchange. My son is assuming the unknown known of Brysci that dog tags are a culturally and chronologically universal practice. I am subject to all the unknown knowns inherent in the known knowns of my family history which is comprised of a multi-generational martial culture which extends back to Imperial Prussia and the meaning of our family name.

But such an ideological analysis is a relatively new phenomenon and, I claim, unique to the generations, as Buckminster Fuller put it, "born after man landed on the moon". Indeed Zizek himself, for all his training in psychoanalysis, use of colloquial humor, and self awareness rarely, if ever, discusses the ideological implications of his imprisonment by the pro-Soviet regime in Yugoslavia, his childhood under Tito, or his identity as an Eastern European intellectual speaking to a Western European (and in this I include North American) audience.

Freud's identity as a Jew profoundly impacted his development of the science of psychoanalysis (Totem and Taboo , Malinowski, Willhelm Reich), Marx's identity as a Jew influenced the economic system we know today as Marxism (as distinct from the ideology known as Marxism which Marx wold not recognize as a product of his work) and thus as a new dawn of Zizekian film critique, literary criticism and political theory emerges we must demand that Zizek himself carefully scrutinize the Rumsfeldian "unknown knowns" which are at work in his unconscious.

I would ask my friend Slavoj to perform this simple analysis on himself following the rough sketch I used to began my own analysis of my childhood:

Think of a time you saw your parents (preferably individually) upset about something. Using the first incident that arises with each parent analyze the ideological baggage which may have resulted.

For Example: When I was 11 (1982) a woman came to my Junior High School in California and gave a slide presentation of her trip to the Soviet Union. I distinctly remember the beautiful oil paintings on the ceilings of the subway stations. As I often did I gushed over what I'd learned at the dinner table that night and to this day feel sick to my stomach when I remember my mother's reaction:

"They showed you what? Pictures of the Soviet Union and how wonderful it is there?"

The rest is a blur but my mother called the school the next day and got nowhere (this was Northern California after all) and became even more exasperated by the response of the principal to her concerns than she had been after the initial revelation. I distinctly remember the term "brainwash" being used in my mother's conversations with both myself and my hapless school principle who by now no doubt was wishing he'd chosen a different profession. To my parents credit they did send me to the Soviet Union a few years later to see for myself that it was a nation of gulags and cannibalism and my response was to settle down in Moscow and marry a nice Tbliskaya Armyanka who was a member of the Communist Party of Russia. But I digress.

The point is that my mother's visceral response to the "Soviet brainwashing" comprised of a tourist's slide show indicates the ideological underpinnings of my upbringing. Thus it is no surprise that I was at university before I knew that Karl Marx was a German economist. As a child he was merely a religious figure of some kind representing child cannibalism and gulags.

My friend Slavoj! Come have some mint tea and we will discuss the first time your mother lost her mind over something you'd been taught in school. Was it the day you learned the Italians were going to help Tito build the first Yugo factory? What was the discussion around the dinner table the night the Soviet tanks crushed the demonstrations in Budapest? How did your family respond to the assassination of Malcolm X, Prague Spring, Solidarity etc.

If you would be so kind to post your answers as a comment below I would be eternally grateful. Yours in solidarity (just kidding), David

Monday, February 23, 2015

I'm reading "Nuremberg" published in 1994 and it's got me wondering about

The mind conditioning of children's programming: A Zizekian Deconstruction of Skydancers

So I'm watching Skydancer with Xander and I'm thinking about all the stereotypes that it reinforces: one the Russian guy is the bad guy. He's the ballet dancer with the fragile ego that the enemy uses to get to the Skydancers. Two: He turns out being an effeminate weirdo , and three he is marginalized because he's a ballet dancer and is Russia I am for the other thing something else I'm thinking about the whole mind control aspect of children's programming this would've been out when I was maybe a little but ordered them Prever demographic but close enough that I could've watched it been subtly conditioned by it

DAWN.COM | World | Walking with the Comrades

DAWN.COM | World | Walking with the Comrades: "‘Maoist-infested.’ These are not careless words. ‘Infest/infestation’ implies disease/pests. Diseases must be cured. Pests must be exterminated. Maoists must be wiped out. In these creeping, innocuous ways the language of genocide has entered our vocabulary.

his backpack said Charlie Brown — Not your ordinary blockhead. He said his name was Mangtu. I soon learned that Dandakaranya, the forest I was about to enter, was full of people who had many names and fluid identities. It was like balm to me, that idea. How lovely not to be stuck with yourself, to become someone else for a while.

Every village has a family of tamarind trees watching over it, like a clutch of huge, benevolent, gods. Sweet, Bastar tamarind

Significant wars are often fought in unlikely places. Free Market Capitalism defeated Soviet Communism in the bleak mountains of Afghanistan. Here in the forests of Dantewara a battle rages for the soul of India. Plenty has been said about the deepening crisis in Indian democracy and the collusion between big corporations, major political parties and the security establishment. If any body wants to do a quick spot check, Dantewara is the place to go.

I found out that he’s one of a group of ten kids who are part of the first batch of the Young Communists Mobile School, who are being taught to read and write, and tutored in basic communist principles. ("Indoctrination of young minds!" our corporate media howls. The TV advertisements that brainwash children before they can even think, are not seen as a form of indoctrination.) The young communists are not allowed to carry guns or wear uniforms. But they trail the PLGA squads, with stars in their eyes, like groupies of a rock band.

But can we, should we let apprehensions about the future, immobilize us in the present?

think of what Comrade Venu said to me: They want to crush us, not only because of the minerals, but because we are offering the world an alternative model.

It’s not an Alternative yet, this idea of Gram Swaraj with a Gun. There is too much hunger, too much sickness here. But it has certainly created the possibilities for an alternative. Not for the whole world, not for Alaska, or New Delhi, nor even perhaps for the whole of Chhattisgarh, but for itself. For Dandakaranya. Its the world’s best kept secret. It has laid the foundations for an alternative to its own annihilation. It has defied history. Against the greatest odds it has forged a blueprint for its own survival. It needs help and imagination, it needs doctors, teachers, farmers.

It does not need war.

But if war is all it gets, it will fight back.

The Bodhghat dam was shelved in 1984 after local people protested. Who will stop it now? Who will prevent the foundation stone from being laid? Who will stop the Indravati from being stolen? Someone must.

Anribam Gupta Nigam:

two tropes underpin Roy’s rhetoric throughout: the constant equation of weaponry with beauty and joy, and the repeated emphasis – if without much insight – on the militarisation of daily life. Both seem to suggest to her, the epitome of revolutionary spirit – the one we have learnt India needs right now. But this affinity of death with beauty harks back to another – perhaps more accurate – tradition that Susan Sontag spoke of in her 1975 essay ‘Fascinating Fascism.’ National Socialism, she wrote, stood for values which at the time she was writing, were deeply cherished by ‘open societies.’ Among these were “the cult of beauty, the fetishism of courage, the dissolution of alienation in ecstatic feelings of community.”

Orwell's Newspeak Alive and well

Following are excerpts from a U.S. Army War College paper on Venezuela and my analysis of the large number of assumptions and implication contained between the lines. Like much bureaucratic analysis the validity of the status quo within the sponsoring state is never questioned. Much like Soviet analytical writing in the Cold War period the audience may be assumed to be in agreement with the fundamental principles of their culture, namely that the their home country represents the stable, reasonable and just example of what the analyzed country should aspire to become and that defection from the norm (in this case globalization) is a child-like errant path that should be firmly but paternally corrected.

"in January 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice argued that
President Chávez was minimizing democracy in Venezuela and
destabilizing security in the Latin American region. Subsequently,
the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) supported those arguments
and added its concern regarding Venezuelan purchases of large
quantities of arms."

The U.S. Department of Defense statement here implies that the purchase of large quantities of arms is a concern with regard to a minimization of democracy. This of course is a grand irony which I will allow the reader to form her own opinion of.

" Assistant Secretary Noriega and Secretary Rice proposed the creation of a mechanism in the OAS that would monitor the quality of democracy and the exercise of power
in Latin America" but not in North America.

Venezuelan democracy is not real democracy:

"Beginning with the elections of 1958 that followed the military
junta, Venezuelans began to elect their political leadership. However,
their concept of democracy was not derived from the Anglo-American
tradition of limited state power and strong individual human rights.
Rather, the current tradition of Venezuelan democracy has its roots
firmly in the outcome of the French Revolution, and subsequent
perversions of the Rousseauian concept of “total” (totalitarian)
democracy, wherein the individual surrenders his rights and personal
interests to the state in return for the strict enforcement of social
harmony and the General Will."

Is this a civil law/common-law distinction? Is the reader to accept that any country which became democratic after the French Revolution is somehow totalitarian. Is the reader is expected to believe that the (illegitimate)French Revolution occurred much later than the (genuine) American Revolution (they were nearly simultaneous.)

"In these conditions—and given an authoritarian
Latin American political tradition—ambitious political leaders find
it easy to exploit popular grievances to catapult themselves into
power—and stay there." This is nothing like the U.S. Congress.

"Globalization and Fractured Society. In addition to the U.S. policy
of “democratic enlargement” in Latin America, globalization is
also focusing people on the concept of transparent and accountable

If there is one thing that opponents and proponents of globalization can agree upon it is that with the growth of globalization more power ends up in the hands of multinational corporations relative to state governments. Whether one thinks that is good or bad the fact remains that corporations are not more "transparent and accountable" than elected officials. Through trademark, copyright, trade secret and and other areas of the law corporations can hide much of their activity from the general public in ways that elected officials cannot.

"Like all revolutions, globalization represents a shift of power
from one group to another." The implication here is that globalization is a revolution, an overthrow of the existing order, not an expansion and solidification of power for those already in control.

"In most countries, including Venezuela, it involves a possible power shift from the state and its bureaucrats to the private sector and its entrepreneurs." The privatization of traditional areas of government involvement: health care, education, banking and warfare. If one were to question the wisdom of such a move one need only examine how successful these practices have been in the United States.

"In that connection, the armed forces of Venezuela have always
assumed that they have an obligation to resolve various internal
crises. That is, if a governing regime deviates too significantly from
the general armed forces’ doctrinal concept of social harmony and
good of the state, the military will step into the political situation
and provide corrective action. As a result, the military institution
will have a role in the political process. That role may be either
positive or negative—depending on how President Chávez involves
the armed forces in the security decisionmaking and implementing

"Socialism for the 21st century and the expected regional
integration it would engender (bolivarianismo) begins with a
premise that traditional post-World War II socialist and Marxist-
Leninist political-economic models made mistakes, but the theory
remains totally valid. The idea is that representative democracy
and the U.S.-dominated capitalism of the new global era are total
failures. Representative democracy and capitalism serve only
elites—not common people. These failures must now be replaced by
“participatory democracy,” “direct democracy,” or what detractors
have called radical populism. In these terms, Chávez is re-elaborating
the concept of democracy and promoting a socialist economic system
as two parts of an overarching political model for the Latin American
region.29 As a precautionary note, we must remember that the key
concepts and the various implementing programs of this model are
works in progress and without established time lines."

"1) the new authority in the state must be a leader who communicates directly
with the people, interprets their needs, and emphasizes “social
expenditure” to guarantee the legitimate needs and desires of the
people". Sounds pretty sinister.

"Social Programs. To strengthen his personal position and internal
power base, President Chávez is spending large amounts of money
on an amorphous Plan Bolívar 2000 that builds and renovates schools,
clinics, day nurseries, roads, and housing for the poor. Additionally,
Chávez is developing education and literacy outreach programs,
agrarian reform programs, and workers’ cooperatives. At the same
time, he has established MERCAL, a state company that provides
subsidized staple foodstuffs to the poor. Chávez also has imported
16,000 Cuban doctors to help take care of the medical needs of the
Venezuelan underclasses. Clearly, these programs offer tangible
benefits to the mass of Venezuelans who were generally neglected
by previous governments."

amorphous .?? What could be more tangible than providing the direct needs of the poor?

New Art

I'm on the verge of creating a new art form. Music and writing, mixing music mixing writing, poetry . amplified . visual words, lyrical images, fluid melting the rigidity of language to dissolve words and letters into the primordial soup of creation. The Oneness of the Perennial Philosophy, the fading image of the chair on the cover of Baba Ram Dass's book set to music set to poetry set to lights set to images set go. Tibetan Monks chanting, Douglas Bluefeather's Wolf, Planet Rock Swordfish remix,. need infected mushroom, breathing in the fine fresh air
Graffiti on 35

I have been obsessed with large graffiti spaces ever since I found Banksy's book at Dark Star in Yellow Springs. I have been paying close attention to which billboards are accessible from the ground and noticed some new graffiti today on 35 West in Beavercreek. A little further west there is an abandoned house which is in clear view of the highway.

So if I were to own that house could I put whatever I wanted on the side. Could i do my "Killian is Lying to You" backdrop with the kneeling, hooded fellow in the orange jumpsuit? Is there a city ordinance (dayton) that addresses this?

The other question that occurred to me was the pricing
Zizek seems to heartily approve of suicide. He approaches it as if it is a privilege which should only be granted to a select view. I propose to create a short story which has as its setting such a review board. A panel of judges who determines whether or not a request for suicide is to be granted. Zizek believes that only metaphysical suicides be allowed. Perhaps his point of view should be represented by a judge and then another judge on the court will take the opposite view, that suicide serves a social good and therefore should be carried out as much as possible. Suddenly I am bored by this idea.

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David was seven when terrorists blew up the officers club at Rhein Main. Until then he had eaten dinner there with his family on Fridays. It blew up on a Friday. For some reason the image of a terrorist in his mind always included a Volkswagen van, the round bubbly kind with the big VW logo stamped in the metal of the nose. He wanted to know what the terrorists were, beyond their long black beards and dark glasses. Why did they do what they did. His parents explanations seemed groping and insufficient. As if their answers were based on what they should say and should think but rooted completely in ignorance. And fear.

They took the London subway to see Star Wars not long after the attack. When the subway stopped and the lights went out he wondered if the terrorists had done that too. But mostly he thought about the movie and whether or not they would get there in time.

The rebels were fighting the empire. They launched a daring strike at the heart of the enemies fortress, they risked their lives, some of them died, but they struck a mortal blow. It took a great many years for the empire to recover. The empire was forced to become even more ruthless.

There were real life rebels a couple years later. They were called mujahadeen and the CIA was helping them fight the Soviets. They even lived in the desert and dressed like Luke Skywalker and his family on Tatooine before the stormtroopers killed them. They came up with innovative tactics to make up for their inferior numbers and lack of technology. There was an article about mujahadeen dropping rocks onto the blades of Soviet Hind helicopters as they flew through canyons and bringing them down.

The Palestinians were using rocks against tanks, but their weren't any articles about tanks being destroyed by rocks. It seemed like their were lots of rebels. Some were fighting us, some were fighting the Soviets, some were fighting the Israelis. In Nicaragua the rebels were fighting the Sandinistas who were bad because they were Communists. In Angola the communists were the rebels and they were fighting the Portugese. In South Africa the communists were fighting the Afrikaners and they were bad because they created apartheid. One time when David was in the waiting room eat the hospital he saw a magazine ad for apartheid. It was glossy and beautiful pictures of South Africa and it explained why apartheid wasn't really racism and why South Africa was being unfairly sanctioned. He wondered if the communists and the apartheid people were fighting which side the US was on.


When David was nineteen he went to the Soviet Union. All those years in Germany looking at t

ISIS in Iraq: Did The US Help Create A Terrorist Group That Might Be Worse Than Al-Qaeda? -

ISIS in Iraq: Did The US Help Create A Terrorist Group That Might Be Worse Than Al-Qaeda? -

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Ideology of Jewish Tea

Zizek offhandedly observed that The Catholic Church's culture of pedophilia was so pervasive that if a straight male became a priest later in life after marriage and children he would still become a pedophile.

As a descendant of Catholics and a UD Flyer xlinebacker I should be offended. Yet there is something about this statement that rings true to me. As a teenager unfamiliar with the culture of Catholicism I enrolled at the University of Dayton (Marianist Catholic) in 1988. The jokes I heard at that time, before the sex scandals broke, indicated that the pedophilia of the priests was simply an accepted shortcoming of the Catholic educational system. For example, my girlfriend came from a devout Catholic family of five children, all of whom attended Catholic school. Their father, who also attended Catholic school, used to tell a joke: "Let me show you some wrestling moves: this is called the half nelson, this is called the full nelson, and this is called the Father Nelson (at which point the victim of the joke, who is already in a full nelson, was bent over and subjected to a few playful pelvic thrusts".

The first time I heard this joke I remember thinking "but as you tell this joke three of your children are in the institutions you're scandalizing, does that mean you don't really believe it?" In any event there is an ideological component to these revelations. Zizek's jokes always make for an entertaining lecture but they also demonstrate the truth of the culture. As he often points out, one can only know for sure that a friend is a true friend if a racial, ethnic or religious stereotype is allowed. If your friend is black and you are white and you can call him a "nigger" and he doesn't get mad then he is a true friend.

I was hoping Zizek was not planning to try this theory out on Dr. West when they met recently. But this brings me back to Father Nelson. I don't think Rita's dad would have told me that joke had I been black, or Arab, or even Mexican. Because I was a white Flyer linebacker he could safely assume that I was "one of us" and it was OK to tell me this wildly inappropriate anecdote.

In the Soviet Union, as in Yugoslavia according to Zizek, ethnic stereotyping was widely accepted. My wife was Armenian and she laughingly told me that Armenians were liars, Georgians were womanizers, Ukrainians could not think straight after lunch when all the blood rushed from their brain to their stomach, and Jews were penny pinchers. As Americans we had grown up in the 70's and 80's in a culture that was not so open about these things. My wife used to love to tell the story of the American Jewish girl who was morbidly offended at he term "Jewish Tea".

We love to drink our tea in Russia. It is the catalyst for conversation much like beer is in midwestern America. When Russians make tea they put loose leaves in a small teapot and then put boiling water in and allow it to steep. The very strong tea is then diluted with hot water and this way each person makes her tea to the strength she prefers. When the little pot runs out a second pot can be made by either putting more hot water in the existing leaves (this is called 'Jewish method'/'po-evrayski') or the teapot can be cleaned out and restocked with fresh leaves.

Logistically it's much easier to do it po-evrayski and if a lively converstaion is going then the host might ask "po-evrayski?" which means 'Ok if I don't make a whole new pot right now and just pour more water in the old stuff'? So like all good Jews we knew the word 'evrayski' and this girl overheard my wife say it and began questioning her about it: "what does it mean Jewish tea? Why is that Jewish? Are you saying we're cheap?"

My wife started laughing and this was too much for the Jewish girl who 'made a scandal', as they say in Russia, and left in a huff. I was left, as the lone American now present, to explain her actions. I began with the basic difference in Russian and American cultures as regards ethnicities. Using my personal experience I said that I had an Irish uncle who used to call my Dad a 'dumb Polack' and it always made me angry. My French girlfriend told me later that she couldn't understand the 'dumb Polack' stereotype because in Europe Poles are considered highly intelligent what with Copernicus, Chopin, Joseph Conrad and Marie Curie.

Growing up American we were infected with the American ethnic stereotypes about Poles: big, strong, dumb, and virile. As we came later in the European migration pattern than the Irish, English, German and Dutch we were in the working class jobs longer. Malcolm X even noted in his autobiography that he and his friends used to walk over the bridge to "fuck the Polish chicks". So the stereotyping of the Poles in America was economic as much as ethnic. My Irish uncle was a lawyer and no doubt looked down on his lowly Polish brother in law who was a mere military officer.

We were crazy smart in my family, my dad had majored in math and business and we had a very intellectual culture at home. My mom was an English teacher so proper speech was required when discussing politics, religion, aviation and cars around the nightly dinner table. My dad was a 'lapsed Catholic'. We went to whatever Protestant service the base chaplain held and it varied widely. In Germany the chaplain was a Mormon until he got called back to Salt Lake City for bangin' his secretary and his replacement was a Methodist or Presbytarian.

Our ideology was diluted by real life, Poles were dumb but we were smart, Mormons were super uptight except for our pastor. Our baby sitters were Mormon, black American, old, white and German so we escaped our childhood with few stereotypes. Thus Rita's dad viewed me as a Polish Catholic when in fact I knew almost nothing about either culture.

My imagined Polish Catholicism privileged me to an inside look at the Catholic culture I'd never known. I still marvel to this day that the Catholics were telling jokes about Father Nelson long before the outside world knew he even existed. In Zizek's ideology the Christians are the atheists and the Atheists are the believers. The Catholic priests who were charged with the care of the children were openly acknowledged by their parents to be pedophiles. Did parents really believe this to be true when they decided to put their children in Catholic schools and how do Zizekian theories of ideology play into this?

How the Shock Doctrine is being applied to Greece -- Puppet Masters --

How the Shock Doctrine is being applied to Greece -- Puppet Masters --

Friday, February 20, 2015

Seventh of nine children

Ender's father.  7 of 9 is a shout out.

Ron Paul and Gore Vidal

So Ron Paul dares to ask the question "what if our foreign-policy is not serving our best interest"? When I watch this video it reminded me of Noam Chomsky and some other author perpetual war for perpetual peace and I can't remember, Gore Vidal maybe.

Ever since I got on the small government conservative bandwagon I'm wondering how conservatives square the idea of a small government with an ever expanding military?

Ron Paul erases a dilemma about being a small government conservative because that has always been my major problem with the "conservative party".

Bradley Manning and "The Running Man'

Why are there so many coincidences between Bradley Manning's saga and the movie "The Running Man"? For those of you who don't remember the movie the "crime" which the main character (Ben Richards) is accused of committting is firing from a helicopter at unarmed civilians. Richard's real crime in the movie is disobeying the order to fire on people who were rioting for food. When he disobeys the order the commander back at the baseorders the co-pilot to detain Richards and take control of the helicopter. They do, massacre the civilians anyway and then Richards is set up as "the butcher of Bakersfield" complete with doctored video/audio footage as evidence.

Coincidence number one: The "smoking gun" material released by Wikileaks from the alleged Bradley Manning material was a video of military pilots firing on unarmed civiilians while receiving confirmation from their commanders that what they were doing was legal. For attempting to tell the truth about this incident Bradley Manning has now been in solitary confinement for 4 years or so and awaits his February 2013 military show trial in which he could receive the death penalty for "aiding the enemy".

In the movie version of the story the American population has been lulled into compliance by a neverending stream of violent and meaningless television programming (sound familiar) until a group of activist/commandoes hijack the satellite signal and interrupt the broadcast with the text "KILLIAN IS LYING TO YOU". After this text appears on the screen the actual footage of Ben Richard's helicopter's attack is broadcast and the house of cards comes down for the government controlled media.

So all we really needed was the text "KILLIAN IS LYING TO YOU" to appear on the screen as the Wikileaks video of the helicopte gunship attack was broadcast on the internet for this whole "Running Man" scenario to take place. The book is set in 2025, that makes us a couple decades early but then again who thought we would have drones patrolling the US as early as 2011-12?

There wasn't such thing as a public internet in 1982 when "The Running Man" was published so King's vision of the public suddenley becoming aware of the totalitarian state's machinations was via a hijacked satellite feed. But it's interesting that the Wikileaks infomation is often obtained when it is "hijacked" by whistleblower citizen activists like Bradley Manning (allegedly).

In a recent photo of Bradley Manning he was wearing a beret and I thought of the Dweezil Zappa character's beret in "The Running Man".

So now we have at least two events: 9/11 and the Wikileaks video allegedly leaked by Bradley Manning which were foretold by Kings book (1982) and movie (1987). Coincidence number three: An important character in the book who leaks important information to Richards and helps him expose what the government is doing in named Bradley.

The moral of the story is: If you want to know what is going to happen in thirty years read Stephen King's sci-fi.

Doing what you love may cause you Pain

Whenever I would mount up to ride my bicycle home at night someone would inevitably say "what if you get hit by a car" or "isn't that dangerous?". Somehow that always irritated me. Those of us who have passion for something dangerous do the calculus in our heads non stop. In my case I must calculate when the largest number of impaired drivers will be on the road, what roads they will use, and the lighting, bicycle access and other hazards of alternative routes etcetera. So yeah, it's dangerous, I know it's dangerous and I'm making decisions to mitigate the risk. When I was strapping on my football helmet or putting on a military uniform, skateboarding or BMXing no one ever said "isn't that dangerous?"

As I slowly weave through a herd of deer in the falling snow on the bike path or enjoy the firefly light show I am reminded of why I choose to face the danger. Just the feel of the wind and the sound of a silent forest at night is enough reason to bike commute and it is my inability to adequately convey the beauty of these moments that aggravates me when I am asked the inevitable "isn't that dangerous?" question.

I want to say "not as dangerous as suffering 4-8000 sub concussive blows to the head over the course of high school and college football" or "not as dangerous as standing on a tank in the Soviet Union in the middle of a pro-democracy protest" but I never do. I simply laugh and say somehting about how at least I can't get a DUI. Which of course leads to the inevitable "yes you can too, on COPS this guy was...". Now as a law school graduate I must acknowledge that in theory this is correct, if you are riding a bike in Watts at night, with no light, drinking a 40 out of a paper bag than my friend Mark Fletcher who is an LA County Sheriff's Deputy will most definitely and justifiably give you a DUI.

But if I am sailing down a hill, lights blazing, at 35 miles an hour, on my $2000 bike, and I run a red light in an affluent Ohio suburb, I don't exactly fit the profile. And I have gone through red lights, stop signs and generally disregarded all traffic laws in the presence of law enforcement (let's face it who else is on the road at 3 am on a Wednesday) with no repercussions. Back before I switched to a road bike I was always picking out mountain bike friendly escape routes in case I saw the blue lights behind me but thirty years into bike commuting I have never interacted with law enforcement. Unless of course one considers borrowing a sherrif's cell phone to tell my wife I'm about to be choppered to the hospital as interaction.

So yes it is dangerous, and yes I'm still in a wheelchair 6 months later but please, for the love of God, the next time you see me gearing up for a night ride be assured that I'm aware of the potential peril but I live to ride, and I ride to live.

Viktor, Vitya and Raisa Gorbachev

Ever since I decided to apply to Bright Ohio my wife and I have had some pretty heated discussions about education. As a philosopher I wonder how it is that we can have such different perspectives given our similar backgrounds. We both graduated from Ohio law schools and had very successful experiences in similar Ohio public high schools and universities but I think exceptional teachers are rare and she thinks they are common. And my theory as to why we are so far apart on this issue is geographical. She has been in Ohio her whole life but I went to school in Germany, California, Texas, Washington State, the Soviet Union and Maryland.

As an exchange student in the Soviet Union in 1991 Vitya Gorbachev and I had many illuminating arguments. When I wasn't gloating about how the U.S. military had wiped out the entire fleet of T-72 tanks during Gulf 1 without a single casualty we argued about who was smarter. And in this area I was an abominable failure. Despite having scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and the 95th percentile on the LSAT this kid was dominating me. Our game was simple, I would look up the most difficult, obscure word I could find in a Russian-English dictionary, ask him the meaning of the word and he would tell me, every single time. I resorted to jargon-like medical terminology that seemed to me to be too bizarre for even a doctor to know, and Vitya would calmly respond "that's some condition involving a lung infection", vague but accurate.

Later that summer Vitya was in hot water with Raisa and Viktor because he'd only got a 3 (out of 5) on his university entrance examinations. "It's because you're always smoking and drinking with that American" Viktor bellowed. It was then that it dawned on me that not only did this kid own me in the vocabulary showdown, he was mediocre by Soviet standards. It's like that "U.S.A. medium" condom joke in reverse, and in real life.

When I returned to the newly re-christened Russia to work in 1993 I married a Russian woman who was finishing her history degree at Moscow State University. One night we were drinking with some friends and someone made a reference to an American author that I didn't get. The next morning my wife began asking me about various American and English authors and was horrified at how few of them I knew. She had been to the U.S. and was not surprised that I was basically an uncultured buffoon, what was unforgivable was that we often told people that we both had degrees in history. Up until this conversation she had apparently been under the impression that a history degree from an American university would require one to have some knowledge of literature as did a history degree from a Soviet university.

To mitigate her shame in her choice of husbands she brought me with her to class after we'd both worked that day and introduced me to the English language literature section of the Moscow State University library. I was in heaven. My re-education took many years. I was starved for reading material in English and the Soviets obliged. All you bibliophiles will appreciate how enjoyable it is to read a great work in your mother tongue and the comic relief of the Russian footnotes politicizing everything from wardrobe choices to Indian involvement in the American Revolutionary War.

My father in law put himself in charge of my cinematic education. He introduced me to Alan Parker and reintroduced me to Stanley Kubrick. I gained such an appreciation for my own culture and it angered me that I had to be led to it by Soviet educated family members. Middle America does not cherish the gems of English and American literature. I didn't have to read Faulkner, Hemingway or Shakespeare in high school or University. I wonder if the Curmudgucation blog could spin that as evidence of a successful education. My test scores indicate that I am in the intellectual elite as compared to other Americans yet a mediocre Soviet teenager has encyclopedic knowledge of his mother tongue's vocabulary while mine is dismal.

Kasich's Coup D'Etat

I was recently applying to the Bright Ohio program and stumbled across the Curmuducation blog opposing it. I was astonished at the level of vehemence displayed in the blog and as a philosopher it made me wonder: qui bono? Public school teaching in America, as far as I can tell by my experience as a public teacher's son, public teachers' brother in law, parent of three children in public schools and product of said public schools, seems to be the one profession which has successfully enforced a culture of mediocrity.

I have always been perplexed by educational leadership's opposition to teacher evaluations, charter schools, voucher programs and generally anything which would bring the empire of public education into the realm of the meritocracy where the rest of the capitalists live. But given the performance of the American public school system in my lifetime I can see the reluctance of those at the helm to being objectively evaluated. I had some exceptional teachers, but the key word is "exception". Jack Black said it best in "School of Rock": "those who can't do teach, and those who can't teach, teach gym".

My undergraduate education started in engineering and ended in Russian, history and law. As an undergraduate it seemed to me that the most talented chose technical majors like physics, engineering, accounting and finance, the middle of the road history, literature and the arts, and the real dunces opted for education. I certainly have no scientific data to make this claim, it was just an impression. But now that twenty plus years have gone by it seems that my theory has been born out by the number of people in my high school class who have migrated to education as a profession after failing at something else.

A few years ago I was managing a bar that hosted Governor Kasich during his drive to pass Issue 2. My engineering experience had led me into the culture of the UAW as a teenager so I was excited about the prospect of the Ohio Teachers' Union releasing their stranglehold of enforced mediocrity. I was frankly surprised that issue 2 was defeated but it has helped me to understand the Bright Ohio program.

Kasich is an executive, a problem solver, and a strategist. He knows that the juggernaut of the Ohio Teachers' Union will oppose accountability, promotion based on merit, and innovative solutions for education. Issue 2 was the voters opportunity to strip the Ohio Teachers' Union of its power to protect a culture of mediocrity. Kasich grew up in Cleveland, perhaps he reasoned that "any fool knows that the UAW bankrupted two of the Big Three automakers, and a union is destroying Ohio education". That was my thinking when we hosted Kasich to promote Issue 2 but we neglected to account for the sheer number of people in the rust belt who have benefited form that culture of mediocrity. Issue two was defeated, Kasich didn't give up, he made a tactical shift.

Bright Ohio brings meritocracy to educational leadership. The education bloggers are apoplectic that Kasich would want managers (school principles) to be trained by Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business. The Curmuducation blog links to a study of American education which clumsily attempts to portray the American educational system as a success. Exceptional teachers like Mrs. Brendl, Mr. McBee, and Mr. Bagwell would have welcomed a professional manager. The mediocre teachers whose commitment to education is represented by the forty hour week and summers off will rightfully be forced to make way for new talent. When the middle class welfare culture of the teaching profession is replaced by a meritocracy the United States will begin scratching the surface of the age old question: why does the richest most powerful country in the world have such a bad school system? The NEA. Philosophically it's the same reason you bought a Honda or a Toyota instead of a Ford.

Meritocracy over mediocrity.