Tag Archives: Culture
CNN, not fake news.
The last slave ship survivor interview.
Edited on 7/27 wrong link inserted.
Anyone who has a passing interest in cyber security and government has known since the Diebold debacle that these machines were and still are largely unregulated cyber holes. They are easily hacked and often running un-patched and outdated software with little or no upgrade path and are produced by companies with political ties and/or a political agenda.
Unfortunately, most Americans don’t give a rats ass.
I get it, people are busy and computers are complicated. People in power have always used the perception of complication, if not the actual complications themselves to dissuade people from voting or to sway their vote. Ignorance in general is a very useful tool in swaying peoples opinions.
Having some definitive proof of tampering may not do much to get most people riled up, but if it does alarm enough, there can be real change. Unfortunately, right now, we are in 1984 mode. We have little to guide us as to what the truth is and a president that is telling us to avoid trusting our own eyes and ears and trust only him.
Big brother will provide.
“Based on recent behavior and previous statements, the North Carolina Republican Party is unable and unwilling to support the Republican nominated candidate for North Carolina House District 48″ – GOP chairman Robin Hayes .
The Republican party has been putting up with the precursor to this for YEARS therefore encouraging and supporting it. Chickens….meet roost.
I constantly find myself redefining myself, looking for the words to describe my belief in a bite sized way. It almost never happens and is constantly changing, but I continue to try.
Fair contracts between individuals, limited government intrusion into our personal lives as long as we continue to adhere to some common law, no eminent domain, regulated free markets, gun rights for individuals who pass a background check, free travel across state lines and equal constitutional protection.
Health care for all, free or dirt cheap college or continuing education for all, good free education for all regardless of geography and race, make Internet and other communications, power companies and other “utilities” public, not free but owned by the people they serve, strong labor unions…
Yep, I’m a Libertarian Socialist!
Alien abduction stories have diminished in the last few years…
I wonder why.
We don’t give a fuck about each other anymore.
We don’t give a fuck that we are demonizing kids, both our own and those just yearning to breathe free. We’ve created a MS13 factory by separating kids from parents in the vain effort to use them as playing cards in our xenophobic deck.
We’ve hardened our hearts to each other in our webspheres and countless subreddits.
We’ve said the we want to protect life, but only if its politically expedient.
We turn our backs on each other because of our races, languages and the places we live. If we knew, truly, where we’ve been, the politicized history of denial of entry to those we feel are degenerate or lesser. From the Irish, to the Jew, to the Arab and the Mexican, someone always has to be less than us. And don’t even start me on “forced immigration.”
If there really is intelligent life out there and somehow they have condescended to look at us as microbes in a petri dish, they are surely appalled at our lack of care for each other and the big brownish ball we live on. We’d better be happy they can’t see us or haven’t yet found us or we’d surely be wiped off the face of the universe with extraterrestrial Lysol. Good news is that we probably won’t feel a thing.
We’ve become the absolute worst measure of humanity, our better angels have been slain by the devils we’ve nurtured through ignorance and greed.
If we continue down this path, we deserve whatever we get.
I’ve seen this coming, its only going to get worse.
I’ve been wondering why there hasn’t been much grumbling from the right about terrorism after the Toronto van incident on April 23rd. (even I find myself minimizing this act as anything other than one of terrorism). Attack just sounds too calculated and as most of these types of incidents are, the only planning this one seemed to involve was renting a truck and targeting its random victims. There is an ideology behind it, after all nowadays every asshole crackpot with a chip on his shoulder has some stupid manifesto to shape their out-sized rage.
This guy was one.
As usual the mainstream press is too late to the cultural changes that have been pointing right at this type of insane baby rage. Some guy who never learned proper coping skills, gets turned down by women he thought he had the right to and all of a sudden he’s the member of some made up protected class. In the case of Alek Minassian couldn’t even handle hanging out with other dudes (He left the Canadian army after a short stint for the reason that “(he) wasn’t adapting to military life, including in matters of dress, deportment and group interactions in a military setting.”
They call themselves “incels” or involuntary celibates, an outgrowth of the Pickup Artist(PUA)/Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW)/Men’s Rights Activists (MRA) with a side of alt-right victim-hood, they are the disgruntled kid still living in mommy’s basement all growed up.
These movements, mostly the result of demographic and cultural shifts have cross pollinated, colluded and combined in some terrifyingly interesting ways. They take an already fragile combination of identity, masculinity and frail senses of self to create a toxic soup of discontent.
I’ve watched from the sidelines as the first wave of fragile male PUAS made their marks, as self published gurus (many of which had interesting things to say about masculinity and independence, but as our culture usually goes, take them too far and in the wrong direction) make side hustles out of e-books fashioned from kooky mysticism and 90’s self help, podcasting and blogging their way to a form of stardom that could only come about in the digital age.
Many of these were barely distinguishable in language to many of the books the authors admired, self-talky and simple, the “mindset revolution” was strong with them. Initially the few who were really vile, like Roosh V’s. “Bang” were relegated to a space that seemed not too far removed from the pick up artistry of yore, the main difference being that they never tried to hide their disdain for the female sex. They met in a weird place that brought together Libertarian and Libertine with a dash of Bob Guccione. They are bitter, young, economically affected, generally White or Whiteish, and either they believe or in actuality, that their future is bleak (comparatively) and they are a new class of lone wolf terrorists.
It’s a weird time. The full transformation from self-styled pick up artists, lunkheads, meme-lords and internet Nazis into the nebulous “alt-right” is living proof of a kind of social Darwinism. Seeing how this movement evolved proved to me that the biggest threat to liberal democracy is the misuse of technology. The wildfire spread of bad, harmful, malignant ideas from a combination of attention whores, grieving man babies, workout gurus and the sons of angry white males was amazingly fast, scorching the whole of the earth. It was the textbook example of an organic social movement fueled by many of the above players and fanned by people looking to profit from the rise of right-wing sentiments. Its hard sometimes to tell who is who.
These years will be fodder for future case studies on how trends evolve. So many different influences have crafted the current tide of disaffection across the cultural spectrum it’s really hard to link our current cultural state to a single one factor.
I’m sure, even now there ate authoritarian streaks in other communities that we have yet to activate. Sleeper cells of toxic culture that are hiding under the cultural radar waiting to explode. As a person of color I especially worry about a resurgence of more militant “Black (or Brown) Power” movements rising up to meet the AWM factions activated by the latest cultural trends.
I suspect that there are a fair number of educated, disaffected young Black men who also are involuntarily celibate and rage filled. Personally, I think this whole country needs some quality time on the couch.
Some days my head is just way too full of shit.
This got me thinking about some of the things rattling around in there. So now my random association machine is going at full throttle.
First: There are so many things wrong with a study like this.
Primarily, it was obviously not designed by someone who had ever truly been poor. Anyone who managed by some miracle to escape poverty into even the lower rungs of the middle class, especially if they’d been a scholarship kid, knows that there is so much more than income that drives intelligence and development. Any exposure to wealth by anyone who’d been poor is like a walk in the mirror universe.
There is an unspoken ease that you feel in the presence of someone who hasn’t really known hunger (I’m sure that feeling is similar between someone who has known the occasional stretch of empty cupboards, like myself, and someone who was truly been HUNGRY) there is an unknown specter that hangs over the food secure, that only in my adult life was I able to identify.
Granted, it is not possible to get the full scope of such a grand experiment in a short article, nor is it possible to explore every nuance of poverty, especially viewed through the lens of those who “have.” Regardless of any of that being someone who spent some significant amount of time, as a child and as the head of a household, on the upper rungs of the poverty ladder I already see some clear omissions.
It is relevant that this comes up now though, especially when the discussion of eugenics (Race and I.Q. most notably) is back in vogue. We are seeing poverty in stalker contrasts now as it relates to privilege and denial of privilege.
Being poor is becoming a caste in the U.S..
Here comes the brain dump:
So a few of the things one needs to take into account that come along with even a small boost in income are as follows:
- Exposure to culture. Poor kids get (some) sports, middle class kids get sports and piano, slightly richer kids get different sports, cello and museums and history, richer still get to see and experience them all. Yes, it is a broad oversimplification, but if experience is the best teacher, learning about Africa or Europe and going there are very different experiences. Studying Jazz, Classical or any genre of any art and EXPERIENCING them are also very different things. Now there are plenty of parents I know who have very limited means who found a way to give their kids exposure to all of he above and I give them all due credit, but being of means makes these things not just optional but in many cases obligatory.
- Exposure to lead (and other toxins). On the other hand, poverty, is literally toxic. Environmental factors are a huge determinant and can be a severe detriment if the environment is toxic. Poor people have lead exposure levels that are still much higher then they should be. Other environmental factors from pollution in both rural and urban environments have been shown to affect fetal development and IQ and in some studies are shown to be more significant than genetics. A study of Indian children draws some wider conclusions making the multi-factor argument better than I can.
- The culture of achievement. This is a tough one because you can easily come off as a bigot but the aspirations, and examples you are surrounded by have a huge influence on your motivation. Now this is regardless of race or location and is primarily one of the reasons for the current rural backlash as people who had always had a familial association with hands on trades like farming felt the same wave of doubt and dislocation as people in urban areas felt when manufacturing jobs fled. The burgeoning Black middle class had barely had a chance to take root when the rug was pulled out from under them, it didn’t go well. White rural America is coming to the same realization, it won’t go well. Basically, if you see agility in your life going forward, you are much more likely to prepare to be agile, if you see your father’s, father’s lifestyle disappearing and that lifestyle isn’t just a living but an identity, there is much more at stake.
- Food Insecurity/Exhaustion. Some parents, or parent, just work too much to get any face time with their kids. The combination of poor nutrition and exhaustion is for many people the very definition of poverty. Poverty is a syndrome, with moving parts that often swap and change over time and a host of symptoms that need multiple inoculations and will likely take years even decades to just get under control. In my mind its obvious that there is not one single factor, one single cure or one single method or ideology that can be employed to help.
Studying poverty and all its aspects is important, that goes without saying, but one single study studying a few aspects of poverty will barely put a dent into our understanding. Poor people know more about poverty than anyone, they experience it and the anxiety that comes with it and live with that reality. Poverty changes your chemistry, rewires your brain and focuses your attention on survival in ways that aren’t apparent to anyone who never lived it. I have a few suggestions for things that would help as do many experts but without buy in from the people expected to benefit from them our every effort will ultimately fail.
On this 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King I’d like to say a few things.
We are, despite our division, in a much better place then we were in 1968.
Despite that we still have a long way to go.
For anyone who wonders if the words and actions of the civil rights movement still have relevance, remember that within most living people’s lifetime there were laws that restricted citizen’s rights to marry, travel and raise children.
That… economic strength, passed on through the generations, was not as strong for women and communities of color, if you were a woman of color things were at least twice as hard.
That… the modern middle class was built on the strength of a massive war effort and the financial benefits that came with it, and that African-Americans were largely exempted from those benefits. These foundations were even further distant when considering that discriminatory hiring, firing and salaries were common and when African-Americans tried to band together to demand better conditions violence always ensued.
The current conditions, economic disparities supported by racist assumptions that are now being used to prove those very assumptions, have been with us a very long time. If the country is over 200 years old and Civil Rights have been in place by law for 50 of those years, even assuming everyone instantly got the rights they deserved, which they didn’t, we have been a bigoted country supported by racist institutions for 3/4 of our existence.
Making it personal, If you have made any “mistakes” in your 20’s are 50 and are still paying for them you are, those mistakes put you about where we are as a country now, older and not really all that much wiser.
Post-racialism is a myth concocted by people who hope we get too lazy to do the math or too distracted to not look at the calendar. If we do nothing else lets not forget that we are only a short few steps into this new paradigm and it isn’t too early to lose it all.
RIP MLK 4/4/1968
When we talk about violence, specifically gun violence in this country we hear a few very different takes depending on the location and the background of the shooter.
When the shooter is ideologically motivated and Muslim, we hear about terrorism first. We hear the panicked cries of mostly white conservatives and a few moderates and liberals about the cultural significance of Islam and its propensity for creating violent jihadists. Even though the insane, rational gymnastics of connecting violence and extremism, in these cases we still won’t talk about Guns, and there is little to no discussion about mental health.
When the attacker is White, and the ultimate ideological motivations are sussed out, we revert to the discussion about “mental health” and family and run away as far as we can from Guns and ideological motives. Somehow access to firearms, however they achieved them, is eliminated from the conversation and the ideological motivations all but erased by about day 2 or 3.
If the assailants are young black men and they are killing each other over gangs, drugs or other petty conflicts, it’s all about the culture. Single moms, video games, and music are the usual suspects; again, surprisingly the narrative no longer focuses on the availability of firearms, even illegal ones.
In my mind there are four primary causes of violence in general, particularly gun violence, and they cut across most cases regardless of whether they are in a school or out on the streets. Irrespective of where we come from or who we are there are a set of preestablished reactions to stressors that trigger us to want to hurt or kill. Those motivations go right to the heart of what we all share emotionally as human beings, and I believe that is one of the reasons we don’t talk about them.
1. Personal/Group Insult or Revenge – One of the most common reasons for violence and aggression of any kind is feeling violated in some way. Whether it is through direct insult or insulting one’s group, it is a defensive reaction to a breach of some social contract that causes most violence. I believe this tendency is built into us as we are social beings. Our hierarchical understanding of group and private structures create a means through which we have a built-in trigger, groups that tout exclusive membership use this instinct to manipulate people into reacting with violence when they otherwise would have just cooled over time.
2. Fear – Is it that pop-psychological to indicate fear as a primary motivation for violence or aggression. As well as being social we are also programmed to be wary of personal injury. This is an odd one because fear as a concept can be very nebulous or very specific. Fear that a bear is coming right at you is very different from fear of being attacked by a bear. The chemical reactions, the physical changes that result from the various states of fear are very distinct and can be manipulated by people and institutions that are more powerful and have some of their fears to contend with. I found this discussion of fear interesting as it almost serves as a surrogate for the triggers of violence.
3. Social Engineering – As social beings who have developed hierarchies to survive under specific circumstances we have also come to understand how reinforcement of those structures is required to keep the status quo. I’m not passing blanket judgment on this as dangerous by any means, some social structures have helped us advance to the point where we have created a better life for millions of people. Others, however, though seemingly good ideas at the time, often descend into disruptions that do damage to a great many people. It’s tough to say without the benefit of hindsight that some form of social engineering was good or bad especially if we learn from the results. In this case, violence based on established and enforced social norms.
4. External Perceived or Existential Threat – this is admittedly a kind of toss off. Its fear but not the tangible bear chasing you down type, it’s a minor madness in a way and it crosses the bridge to woo-ville in some cases, but either the feeling of something “not being quite right” or the manipulation of that feeling can drive people to violence, what distinguishes this factor as a trigger is its slippery nature. In a way its one of the most potent modern triggers because of the deluge of information we receive and have access to on a daily basis. So much information crosses our eyes and ears daily that it’s often really hard to distinguish between what is demonstrably real and what is pure hokum. Existential threats have us not believing our own eyes when we see a concrete example of the opposite of what we believe or are told to think. Cognitive dissonance is the state this puts us in and in and of itself is a kind of mass mental disorder that affects our macro brain. It is also one of the ways large groups and governments keep control of the status quo. In fact, it is the prefered method of tyrants, both big and small.
Lately, I’ve been thinking of everything in terms of an organism. From my limited understanding of the organization of life, it looks distinctly like from the tiniest cell to the largest societal collections the functions are similar but blown up accordingly. Using the example of the internet (again with a basic knowledge of biology) you can see how humans have organized themselves in the image of their biological networks. You can look at societal organizations similarly, but the internet is the clearest model of our mimicking the structure of our neural networks in our construction and organizations I can see. We build on what we know.
I look often at how these incidents of violence make perfect sense. Ideas are like mutated cells or gut influenced genes; they can grow and spread, are road tested by the environment and shaken out accordingly. You have to get non-judgemental when you think this way and see both the biological process and the spread of ideas the same way. Physiological changes, random occurrences of genes or the environment’s influence on them, have consequences. It is my feeling that biological evolution and the evolution of ideas may not only be linked but now be one in the same. We’ve reached a level of complexity in out inner and outer constructions to see where our intellectual developments have gotten almost as complicated as our biological ones.
When you look at movements, especially extreme movements, be they nationalistic, religious or racially based they broadly share the same development cycles and paths of growth. Some, like Islamic fundamentalism, are less exclusive biologically and more rooted in ideology. This is part of the reason Islam has snowballed so quickly. It is not as exclusive as some other movements, it requires no biological purity test, no cultural purity test, and no nationalistic paternity test, there is a small barrier of language, but learning a few prayers can solve that. Many other extreme movements are based on passing some racial or nationalistic purity test and have far fewer adherents as a result. At the risk of sounding like an Islamophobe, it is the perfect virus in that way.
Let me make something clear right now; I hate no person. I am opposed to certain ideologies because they make no rational sense to me beyond social grouping, but I don’t hate anyone who believes in them. I apply cancer or virus metaphor to almost all religions and any social group that forcibly bends its members to a particular kind of violence or extreme coersion.
When violence arises as a result of these affiliations, a large part of how you get perfectly rational and not insane people to enlist is through the use of the last cause of violence. In a sense, you are taking a little bit of the first three elements and mixing them to create a stew of cognitive dissonance. You create a world where, by some non-biological or vaguely biological association, you pit one association against another. The reasons could be cultural, circumstantial or just made up entirely but they don’t pass a rational examination.
What also doesn’t pass the rational examination is the ways we here in the US, separate these groups and their affiliates into little social boxes that have unequal weight on the actions of people who commit violent acts.
I’ll talk about how we treat different groups and ideologies differently in Wednesdays post.