Kosinski Redux (2017Apr09)


Jerzy Kosinsky

Jerzy Kosinsky en rechts Harry Mulisch *28 februari 1969

Sunday, April 09, 2017                                            1:48 PM

Jerzy Kosinski, the enigmatic and controversial writer of the 1960s-1970s, is perhaps most famous for his screenplay “Being There” (1979). That successful Peter Sellers vehicle has become a classic tautology: given a stylized-enough established order, a complete idiot can stumble his way to the presidency. The Trump administration, to date, has been so fraught with purposeful malfeasance that we tend to overlook Trump’s Chauncey-Gardener-like qualities.

Now, with the advent of military strikes, his perfect ignorance comes to the fore. As usual, there are documented past statements (that is to say, as always with Trump, Tweets) where he criticized Obama for taking similar actions in Syria, and in the same way (absent Congressional approval) and calling it a mistake. And, as always, our military action is spurious, when what we really need is a definitive plan, a long-term road-map towards specific goals—and one that accounts for the existence of other countries—you know, something like Obama was doing—facing the reality that a ‘Big Stick’ is of limited use.

But the would-be-funny-if-it weren’t-so-scary part is the news media, seriously discussing what amounts to knee-jerk militaristic grandstanding—as if it did indeed have a definitive plan behind it. This is Chauncey Gardener to a tee. Serious panelists mistake vague mindlessness for inscrutable subtlety, chasing their tails to find the adult philosophy behind a child’s wanderings.

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What lowers the present situation beneath even “Being There” is that these talking heads know that they are debating the impulses of an idiot—they simply discuss everything with a bias towards false gravitas—out of habit. They can’t help themselves—bullshit has become their lifestyle.

Thus we see that 59 cruise missiles don’t end a six-year-old civil war—fancy that. A military fellow pointed out that the strike didn’t even target radar or surface-to-air installations, which makes it safer to come back and do it again, and is SOP for a first strike. Even as a spurious first move, the Tomahawk flurry didn’t make sense—it was a display of impotence as much as anything else.

So by all means, talk about Trump’s increased Presidential-ness, now that he’s a big-boy Commander-in-Chief—keep that bullshit flowing, because god forbid anyone on cable news talks like a sane person with their head on straight. Just keep in mind that Trump didn’t do a goddamned thing for those poor, beautiful children he ‘cried’ over—or any of the Syrian refugees like them whom Trump is presently afraid to allow to live here.

SyrianRefugees_NatGeo

D is for Dummy (2017Feb28)


battlodseagods

Tuesday, February 28, 2017                                             9:11 AM

According to the New York Times, Trump wants to add $54 billion to our military spending, saying, “We have to start winning wars again.” This sorry fuckwad doesn’t see a problem with wars—just with losing them. It may be difficult for those of us living in reality to understand what this drooling moron means when he spews his ignorance. I believe this particular tid-bit was meant to suggest that we will go to every hot spot on Earth and use American Might to slaughter everyone involved, thus ‘winning’. I guess when you’re that old, mere diplomacy and world peace won’t get your dick hard.

BLOTUS says, “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.” He doesn’t want to admit it was just him—so he says ‘Nobody’ knew. This is the beauty of seeing reality as a story to be shaped, rather than a true thing—you can adjust the facts to make yourself look sane. Every-fucking-body knew—and everyone has known for years and years, that Health Care was complex—only someone who completely ignored politics until last year could possibly have missed the fact that Health Care was complex—and guess who that sounds like.

avarice

I know that facts are unpopular nowadays—but here’s one: the ACA was based on a Republican governor’s successful state program—it addressed several injustices that existed in commercial health insurance, it saved lives, and the only way it could be improved or made more economic would be to put back the single-payer option that Obama was forced to drop when he pushed the bill through. That’s the simple truth.

But Republicans and Trump campaigned on the notion that the ACA was evil incarnate—a curse upon the nation. They wanted to repeal it so bad they could taste it. They passed repeal bills in the House like sixty-something times. We can see now why they were so desperate—people have gotten used to health insurance—they like it and they don’t want anyone to take it away now. It turns out that some people look on this evil curse as a blessing—who knew that keeping kids healthy would be popular with parents—even dyed-in-the-wool Republican parents?

But how can they rail against something for years—and then turn around and claim they had no idea how complicated it was? How can they justify ending a government policy so popular that twenty million people signed up for it—and without any kind of replacement? Trump went on to say that his Obamacare-replacement plan is going to be incredibly super-terrific—he doesn’t have one yet, but he knows that it will be terrific. Is that just his subtle way of reminding us that ‘terrific’ has the same root as ‘terror’? I’m afraid so.

allegochastity

But I’m not going to condescend to you, dear reader, as if you were some brainless Trump supporter. You know he’s an ignorant, confused old elitist who snuck into a position he is unfit for. You don’t need me to tell you that the GOP has to use gerrymandering to win elections because their priorities don’t include serving the people. You don’t need me to tell you you’re being lied to—you can tell the truth from a punch in the face without any help from me. I only write these posts because I’m consumed with a thirst for vengeance, just dying for truth and justice to make a comeback.

Trump’s statements, his behavior, his so-called policies—I see them as proof of treasonous criminality and incompetence. Others see them as something to vote for. That’s an incomprehensible gap in our perception of things. I believe that a quarter of this country is made up of people who had trouble with school, with comprehension and reading skills—people who’ve spent their lifetimes being corrected, confused, and condescended to by intelligent people.

They hate subtlety, they hate ideas and ideals, they hate science and math, they hate history and education—and most of all, they hate eggheads, nerds, brains, or intelligentsia of any kind—study and knowledge are the enemy to that quarter of our population—the quarter who see Trump as their champion. Trump told them it’s okay to stand up in public and be an idiot, to say something that three-quarters of Americans laugh at for its inanity—that being a perfect fool is nothing to be ashamed of—and they love him for it.

Of course, it’s a little uncomfortable to come right out and champion stupidity, so they rebrand intelligence as ‘being liberal’. Then they change it to ‘libertards’, to imply that thinking is the real stupidity (and to get away with using ‘retard’ as an insult without anyone being able to call them on it). Sadly, they condemn thinking as if it’s something they would never do—when the truth is that thinking is something they’ve never been able to do.

That quarter of our population got Trump into office—but they had help. The people who didn’t bother to vote (which was fully half the country) may not have been stupid enough to vote for him—but they were stupid enough to let it happen. I give them a D.

allegovirtunvice

Evil, Ignorant, or Psychotic (2017Feb27)


wealthnbenefits

Monday, February 27, 2017                                             5:40 PM

What do we mean when we say someone is ‘psychotic’? I don’t know anything about psychiatry—but I know it doesn’t mean misbehavior—we have criminal law to define what misbehavior is—and it even has conditions that attempt to separate crime from insanity—so ‘psychotic’, whatever that means to us, is not merely doing something bad. I’ve always assumed it meant disassociation from reality—perceiving reality in a way that is fundamentally different from sane people.

And we’ve seen several media reports recently that go out of their way to point out that psychosis, in and of itself, isn’t evil, per se. They give examples of people who are diagnosed as psychotic, but functional, meaning that such people can take care of themselves and don’t make a habit of hurting anyone else, but are nevertheless technically psychotic. That would seem to bear out my assumption that being psychotic isn’t the same as being a bad person.

I think, when we discuss modern politics, we often use ‘psychotic’ to label someone who thinks they have a good idea—and we recognize that ‘good idea’ as a very bad idea, the badness of which should be self-evident to any sane person. Thus Trump and most of his coterie are often described as psychotic—their ideas, if you can call them that, have been seen before, have been discussed before, and have been discarded as shortsighted, or just plain wrong, sometimes years or even decades before now. Their ignorance and willful blindness suggest someone with a malevolent agenda—and rather than call them evil traitors, we give them the benefit of the doubt—and say they must be crazy.

But these are our choices: evil, ignorant, or psychotic—they’re either doing wrong because they intend to, because they don’t know better, or because they fail to grasp reality. Not great choices. Rachel Maddow did a segment on this last week, giving examples of seeming malfeasance, or incompetence, depending on how much volition and knowledge you give them credit for. With each example she repeated the mystery: ‘Are they evil, or are they ignorant and incompetent? You choose.’ But she left out bat-shit crazy—and I can understand why she wanted to keep it simple, but she still left out a very real possibility.

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And I can also see where a knowledgeable reporter would shy away from the question of psychosis. Capitalism is psychotic, when we consider that we are destroying our planet as fast as we can, meanwhile shouting to all who will listen that we can’t afford to slow down. American Politics is psychotic, when we consider that Trump won the election. Religion is psychotic on its face—the very definition of insanity—believing in something that there is no evidence of. And you and I are somewhat crazy as well—everyone is a little crazy, or a lot, depending. I like to think I’m only a little bit crazy, but who knows?

But a true psychotic is like a runaway robot—it will follow its programming, and it won’t slow down just because people start suffering or dying. It won’t adjust for outside input, peer pressure, ethics, morality, or any other reason—it will do what it is doing, and god help you if you get in its way.

And if that sounds a little too much like Trump and his administration, then you and I are in agreement. He may be evil. He is most certainly one of the most ignorant people ever to wield such power. But whatever else he is, there’s some crazy in there, too, no doubt about it.

Look at his life before politics—always skirting the far edges of propriety when it came to personal behavior, always skirting the far edges of legality when it came to acquiring profits, always dismissive of anything like ethics. Had things gone a little differently, Trump would have been campaigning from a jail cell, arrested for one illegal or perverted act or another. It is entirely possible his entire campaign was meant merely to give him immunity from prosecution for many actions he dismissed so quickly, while yelling that his opponent belonged in jail.

The fact that Trump University was found to be fraudulent, during the campaign, and even this clear indicator was ignored by his supporters—means that a good quarter of the country’s voters are a little t’eched in the head, as well.

Then there’s Putin—a murdering crime-boss who wormed his way into the Russian establishment and will kill anyone who threatens his primacy, now that he has it. Trump admired him openly during the campaign and now, as president, he urges America to ‘get along’ with this mafia thug. Crazy loves crazy, I guess.

But America is funny—we’ll do the whole four years with a madman in the White House—but if he takes off his pants and starts running around the front lawn singing nursery rhymes—we’ve got him. This is ironic since, if Trump were to do that, it would be among his most sensible activities—and his least harmful agendas—in the last year.

musesuraniancalliope

Bunch Of Geniuses (2017Feb24)


marinerj

Friday, February 24, 2017                                                 8:19 AM

Why is everyone so excited about a new solar system 40 light-years away? Do you really think we’re clever enough to suss out interstellar travel, when we can’t even pick a president?

We still have a whole branch of government that does nothing but kill or be killed—but don’t worry—we only use our military when it’s absolutely necessary for national security, i.e. when the Wall fails.

And even though Jewish people have been around longer than anyone else, we still manage to teach kids to hate Jews—shouldn’t it be the Jews that hate us, at this point?

If you can’t look at a woman without undervaluing her or thinking of ways to mistreat her or take advantage of her—that’s not a definition of what it means to be female—that’s you, being an animal. But I get it—women are strong, women are powerful—they’re scary, and we men need every handicap we can heap upon them, to avoid being totally intimidated and outclassed.

Any man who can afford a suit and tie, and has the ability to have his voice heard on television—has no business commenting on the poor, the underpaid, or the underserved. Miss a meal or two, be ignored for a week—then maybe you’ll have the slightest idea about it. Until then, your entitled, elitist, overbearing, smug thought-bubbles are worse than useless and you should really be keeping that verbal embarrassment to yourself.

I’m all for guns—everybody should have them—especially kids. Take some kids, kids who’ll only be thirty-five or so when the rising ocean levels are due to wipe out all the coastal cities—give those kids some guns, and the address of the Koch Bros. compound. Second Amendment rules!

And let’s stop blaming Trump for everything—he’s an idiotic clown, yes, but he’s an idiotic clown who’s being propped up by cynical, wealth-grubbing Republican party-leaders and a willfully misinformed constituency. These suicidally foolish people maintain their support for Trump, even after proof that the Russians have their hooks in him, and helped get him elected. Oh yeah, let’s get that group of geniuses together and design that starship.

marinerg

Aspera Ad Astra (2017Feb23)


Thursday, February 23, 2017                                           8:26 AM

20170223xd-trappist-1_02

The discovery of seven earth-sized planets orbiting a dwarf star, Trappist-1, makes me wonder how big the ‘goldilocks’-zone is, when talking of a star that isn’t much bigger than Jupiter—and if the orbits of all seven planets could all fit in that little slice of space. Being the same size as Earth means the gravity would be the same—but without placement in the ‘goldilocks’-zone, a planet will be too cold or too hot to live on.

I’m so used to thinking in terms of science fiction that it’s hard for me to get excited about seven planets orbiting a dwarf star forty light-years from Earth. But even from a non-fiction point of view—forty light-years is a ‘fer piece’.

Do the math: one light-year equals 5.8 trillion miles (that’s 10 to the twelfth, for those of you playing at home). Here—we’ll do it the kids’ way: 5,800,000,000,000 miles. That is a very long walk. If we traveled at 1,000 mph, it would take about 6,600 years to travel one light-year. If we traveled at 10,000 mph, it would still take over 660 years to travel one light-year. Thus, in practical terms, a light-year is a distance that a person has never traveled—and has no way of traveling, at present, within a single lifetime. The new solar system that was just found—that’s forty-of-those-things distance from us—that’s just a ridiculous distance away.

Light-years, the unit of distance, was created by and for astronomers—it allows astronomers to discuss the relative distances of stars—but don’t let that fool you into thinking of light-years in terms of human travel—it’s not a human scale of distance.

Plus, if you want to fly through space at 10,000 mph for 660 years, you’re going to need a very big gas tank. Carl Sagan told us that we could avoid this problem by using a Bussard ramjet, a spaceship that collects hydrogen atoms as it moves forward—and uses fusion to propel itself. The Bussard ramjet would use the near-vacuum of space as its fuel—imagine!

But that still leaves you with the need for food, water, and breathable air for however many people for however many years—and even with great recycling tech, that’s a lot of supplies to push through space. And again—forty light-years—if we could travel one light-year, we’d still need to do it forty times to reach that dwarf star with its seven planets.

Also, once you arrive at the dwarf star, you are completely cut-off from Earth—and Earth from you. Forty light-years means that even a radio message would take forty years to go in one direction—which means, if you got on the phone, said ‘hi’, and waited for the other end to say ‘hi’ back—that’s eighty years.

If we ever send people out there, we won’t be ‘colonizing’, we’ll just be sending little samples of humanity out into the cosmos. Maybe their great-grandchildren will communicate with Earth, but never in a “Hi, How are ya” kind of way. Assuming they survived, they would become a totally separate civilization from our own.

And this is the sad truth—space exploration will not ‘save’ the Earth. Sending people to space, even into our local solar system, will help protect the human race from extinction—but it won’t do anything for the people that remain on Earth. And living in space will never be as safe and easy as living here, on the cradle of life.

There is enough raw material in the asteroid belts and the Oort cloud for us to build several ‘earths’—but we will never be able to move significant numbers of people up from Earth ‘s gravity well without a space elevator—and we still don’t have the technology to build one of those.

In summary, space exploration is not easy or simple. It will take more determination than the human race has shown itself capable of, to date, to get there in any meaningful way. People often theorize that an alien invasion would help to unify the human race—and, in the same vein, the destruction of our biosphere would help to motivate people into space. But why do we need a global disaster to get our asses in gear? Can’t we just be grown-ups? Let’s reach for the stars.

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Xenophobic Nonsense   (2017Feb07)


Tuesday, February 07, 2017                                             6:47 PM

Okay, time to slow things down. Trump’s blitzkrieg of incompetence has the overall effect of forcing us to play his game, on his timetable. He does and says so many inflammatory, imprudent, borderline-illegal things that we simple folk are spurred into instant response—there’s never time for sober discussion—his stupidity is faster than light.

And while it may seem impossible to justify ignoring Trump and his minions for even one second—I sense that pulling back from his shit-storm of non-ideas, and taking the time to laugh at him and them—and to remind ourselves that life goes on, madness in the White House be damned—is the correct course. When caught in an inane conversation with a drunk, we don’t try to win the argument—we try to move away from the drunk—and this seems the sensible course in the case of Trump’s fascist Justice League of Losers and their obsession with media-storms.

Granted, Trump’s Electoral College win is a huge blow—in spite of the majority voting against him, he holds the presidency for the next four years—and that’s a lot of power for a crazy egotist. But the sub-set of Americans identifying as Trump supporters is still, in many ways, a far more ominous threat in the long term. These people are trapped within the echo-chamber of ‘alternative’, resentful, paranoid fantasies about how the world works, outside of their town.

Where their existence was once threatened by the ubiquity of information, the rise of biased information sources has now strengthened their grip on such self-excusing delusions. Bigotry is back in fashion. As long as Trump (and their portion of the Internet) reinforces their balky refusal to open their minds, they’ll feel infinitely justified in maintaining even the craziest notions.

These people have even been convinced to vote against Health Care, for themselves and their families. Think about that. It’s not far different from offering someone a juicy steak dinner—and them punching you in the mouth, like you’d insulted their mother.

You tell them the globe is warming, sea levels are rising, untold disaster awaits—and when their boss at the oil company, or the coal mine, sez, ‘No, it isn’t’, they dutifully jeer at the scientists. Scientists! People who make a career out of sweating the details—and who, more to the point, have no dog in this race—unlike their deniers.

I’ve seen regular people—not rich business owners or anything, just regular folks—who actually oppose the Minimum Wage. The sole purpose of a minimum wage is to make it hard for employers to pay you less than you deserve. Do these people think that the rule will only apply to immigrants—and even if it did, do they hate immigrants that much? How will they feel when their own kids can’t find work that pays their rent? Minimum Wage might start to look a little more attractive then.

So, in my humble opinion, there are some tragically, self-defeatingly, self-destructively stupid people out there—and a lot of them vote. For the most part, they don’t really oppose the changes that the Left promotes—they simply fear change—and that is their only real point of agreement with their leaders, especially Trump. Imagine a 21st-century American putting billions of taxpayer dollars into a wall—a big, stupid wall. Hasn’t he read Clausewitz?

A wall can be swum around, tunneled under, and flown over—if Trump’s idea was to stop immigrants, he’s a failure—if he merely wants to inconvenience them—good work, Donald, spend away. Although it should be noted that immigrants are no strangers to inconvenience. The act of building a big wall can be seen as less of a practical exercise and more of a desire for the world to be so simple. It is a statement more than an achievement—and those familiar with Trump’s pre-presidency resume will recognize this theme.

The sad truth is that rich people raise lazy kids—and rich countries raise lazy citizens—America maintains its preeminence by constantly blending in fresh blood. And if the newcomers are not creamy white, that is beside the point—they are eager—even desperate, for a chance to make something of their lives, and their families’ lives. They work like dogs. They take everything seriously. They listen to what’s going on around them. Basically, all the stuff that you and I are too ‘over’ being Americans to bother with.

These people prevent the rest of us from drowning in our own toxins of apathy and entitlement, selfishness and irresponsibility. They recharge the battery of America and they always have—our own ancestors were part of the process. Deciding to stop now, to shut it all down, to ban travel and build a big honking wall—suicide—sheer suicide for our country and ourselves.

Don’t take my word for it—look at Europe. A lot of those countries are accepting refugees, not simply out of the goodness of their hearts, but also because their populations are becoming too small and too aged to maintain their economies. They need immigrants—and the only reason we don’t is because we’ve always had them. We’ve never known what lack of change, lack of growth is really like—stagnation is foreign to us—but not for long, if we keep up this xenophobic nonsense.

ttfn

America Foisted   (2017Jan27)


inferno34

Friday, January 27, 2017                                          10:07 AM

What Trump doesn’t understand is that “America First” sounds fresh and exciting to him—because no one else has used that phrase since the American Bund, whose motto it was, were exposed as Nazi fifth-columnists in the 1940s. “America First” has been—and to all appearances remains, as Trump uses it—the rallying cry of Fascists, Racists and Anti-Semites. Just because Trump is ignorant of History doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

He compounded his ignorance by using this motto, mere seconds after taking the oath of office—which he apparently wasn’t listening to himself doing—because the oath clearly states that he is not to preserve and protect our boundaries with big walls—his job is to defend the Constitution.

And this is why it is dangerous to put a dummy in that office—America is not a patch of dirt that we love—it is a collection of principles written down by our founders. America is an idea—if you throw out the ideas, we’re just a patch of dirt, no different from anyplace else. Animals fight over territory—Americans fight to defend their ideas.

That is why ignorance in America always fancies itself as an ‘alternative point of view’—those who hear ‘freedom of speech’ as a simple rule, rather than a complex idea, will naturally use that rule to counter ideas against which they are incapable of arguing cogently. In the same way, the ignorant tell us, “He won. Get over it.” They do not see that having the Electoral College legitimize their mistake, making it official for four years, does not make their choice any less incorrect—or dangerous, sad to say.

I have even heard it said that a man who lies so profusely as BLOTUS may not be lying, so much as deluded enough to believe his own lies—which, to me, only begs the question: which is worse—a congenital liar or a raving lunatic? Well, fear not, America—by all evidence, it would seem that we have elected a man who is very much both.

What is so very striking about BLOTUS is how proud he is—I have always wanted to feel pride in my accomplishments, as any normal person does, but I never realized that it is possible to be proud as a personality tic, devoid of any cause or achievement. His dismissal of the real accomplishments of others, and of the nuances of allegiance to a Constitution, rather than a piece of property, are just the flip side of that empty-souled, dim-witted persona.