Here’s a blog written by a friend: Pray for Calamity.
I’ll start with a thesis statement: I believe rage is valid. This culture demotes emotion to be subordinate to thought. The predominantly white male “educated” upper class has for centuries defined what reason, logic, and rationality are. Not surprisingly, logic and reason have always substantiated the Social order, and hence the system can constantly reify itself while those who benefit from it the most can claim that it is all high minded and rational.
Members of the lower social classes are abused by the Social organism. They are subject to the highest levels of toxic pollution that accompanies industrial activity, they are far more policed and prosecuted by the penal system, and in general are confined into a go-no-where economic merry-go-round that keeps survival necessities always just barely within reach so they will tolerate egregious treatment by employers; low wages, poor conditions, etc. When people from these classes finally act out in society, whether via a peaceful demonstration or a full blown riot, their demands and their actions are almost universally decried as irrational, unreasonable, and anti-social. Their actions and movements are condemned all the more thoroughly if their demands or motivations are not articulated in a language acceptable to the mostly white middle and upper class.
The absurdity in this rejection is that articulation follows feeling, not the other way around. The feeling of “getting the shaft” or “being shit on” is actually far more relevant than any individual’s ability to explain the particulars of their condition in academic verbiage. The feelings are the truth of lived experience, the explanation is merely a communication of these feelings.
I’ll be celebrating accomplishments and friendships, forgetting worries, and, while I’m at it, drinking ales today—because, hey, I have the day off—but rest assured that it will not be in honor of the Pilgrim myth. Here’s Bob Jensen’s great summary of why we shouldn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, called, appropriately, Why We Shouldn’t Celebrate Thanksgiving.
While risking reductio ad Hitlerum:
Imagine that Germany won World War II and that a Nazi regime endured for some decades, eventually giving way to a more liberal state with a softer version of German-supremacist ideology. Imagine that a century later, Germans celebrated a holiday offering a whitewashed version of German/Jewish history that ignored that holocaust and the deep anti-Semitism of the culture. Imagine that the holiday provided a welcomed time for families and friends to gather and enjoy food and conversation. Imagine that businesses, schools and government offices closed on this day.
What would we say about such a holiday? Would we not question the distortions woven into such a celebration? Would we not demand a more accurate historical account? Would we not, in fact, denounce such a holiday as grotesque?
A poem by Don Marquis:
i was talking to a moth
the other evening
he was trying to break into
an electric light bulb
and fry himself on the wires
why do you fellows
pull this stunt i asked him
because it is the conventional
thing for moths or why
if that had been an uncovered
candle instead of an electric
light bulb you would
now be a small unsightly cinder
have you no sense
plenty of it he answered
but at times we get tired
of using it
we get bored with the routine
and crave beauty
fire is beautiful
and we know that if we get
too close it will kill us
but what does that matter
it is better to be happy
for a moment
and be burned up with beauty
than to live a long time
and be bored all the while
so we wad all our life up
into one little roll
and then we shoot the roll
that is what life is for
it is better to be a part of beauty
for one instant and then cease to
exist than to exist forever
and never be a part of beauty
our attitude toward life
is come easy go easy
we are like human beings
used to be before they became
too civilized to enjoy themselves
and before i could argue him
out of his philosophy
he went and immolated himself
on a patent cigar lighter
i do not agree with him
myself i would rather have
half the happiness and twice
but at the same time i wish
there was something i wanted
as badly as he wanted to fry himself
Some analysis of the poem: “The narrator is a poet reincarnated in a cockroach’s body. He types by jumping on the keys of a typewriter, hence the lack of caps.”
7 things you don’t know about moths is a list of, well, you know.
Who was Don Marquis and who cares? Find out here.
“The means for such a coup of the zeitgeist are rather frightful now: drone aircraft, computer surveillance, militarized police, a puppet press. It makes thoughtful folks queasy. My bet, though, is that a fascist takeover of the US would end up being as inept and ineffectual as ObamaCare. It is one of the great hidden blessings of our time, actually, that anything organized on the massive scale is doomed to failure. But it is likewise the great mission of our time to prepare to get local and smaller, something we’re not really ready for and certainly not interested in. The intertwining of these dynamics will be the story in the year to come.” – James Howard Kunstler
Since it’s Monday, and the holidays are upon us (i.e. people stop giving a shit, which is nice), I figured I’d pepper in a video, a quote, and a comic strip—you know, to keep things light. Enjoy.
Another interesting talk by Guy McPherson, who thinks humans will be extinct relatively soon: http://guymcpherson.com/2013/11/its-movie-season/
Here’s James Howard Kunstler with a similarly rosy assessment of the US economy: http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/all-bulled-up-with-no-place-to-go/
The story making the rounds these days is that the USA’s industrial economy is on the rise again; that the housing market has “recovered;” that (according to Meredith Whitney) the “central corridor” of the nation (Texas to Minnesota) is the second coming of Japan in the 1960s; that we have more oil than we know what to do with; that the nation has bred a super-race of intrepid entrepreneurial risk-takers like unto no other society in history; and finally that whatever else we are or are not, America is the cleanest shirt in the laundry basket of Mother Earth. This is all horseshit of course, being smoked in the New York Fed’s crack pipe.
And finally, here’s a cool comic from Code Green by Stephanie McMillan: http://www.stephaniemcmillan.org/codegreen/
On the anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, many are talking about the lingering anomalies that surround the event and its aftermath. Many more are also asking why Americans are so prone to believe in conspiracy theories. Last night on Real Time, Bill Maher and others waxed intellectual on the idea that people project their fears—which stem from a fear of chaos, randomness, and ultimately death—onto proposed explanations for world events. JFK couldn’t have just been killed by a lone man with delusions of grandeur (“slightly bored and severely confused,” as Ben Gibbard wrote); someone as big and important as the president must’ve been taken out by an equally big and important force.
But what nobody seems to want to talk about is that many Americans believe in conspiracy theories because of the long and well-documented history of the government—via agencies like the CIA—pulling the strings behind the scenes, not just in foreign policy by in domestic affairs. In other words, people believe in conspiracy theories because many of them have turned out to be true. (What, exactly, do you think the CIA, FBI, NSA, etc. are doing all day?)
As Saul Elbein points out in his article “Skeptics Gone Wild” in the Texas Observer:
…ever since JFK died in Dallas, the American system has been rife with examples of powerful people co-opting it for their own purposes. The Joint Chiefs of Staff really did propose to Kennedy, in 1962, a series of “false flag” terrorist attacks against American citizens to provoke a war with Cuba. In 1964 Lyndon Johnson really did lie to Congress, saying that North Vietnamese had attacked American ships in the Gulf of Tonkin. Richard Nixon, leading up to the 1968 election, really did promise the North Vietnamese that if they dropped out of peace talks with the South he’d get them a better deal. It wasn’t Nixon’s last attempt at stealing an election.
I can’t wait to see Dr. Molly Cummings’ talk on animal camouflage (Hot Science-Cool Talk: “Now You See Me, Now You Don’t: Colorful Strategies for Surviving in Nature”) at UT tonight, but in the meantime, here’s part of a David Attenborough BBC documentary about animal mimicry: