Good Guy is Bad Guy?

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I might have been the only one routing for the guy on the left.

The guy on the right, the hero of the Black Panther movie, represents an elitist monarchy. He is from a tribe living in futuristic luxury because of its monopoly on a precious metal, “vibranium.”

The guy on the left is from Oakland, and wants to use the technology to reverse the structural violence inflicted against two billion people of African descent. He represents the kind of revolution that is probably required to end violent oppression once and for all. He loses.

The guy on the right (allied with the CIA by the way) is supposed to be the hero because he promises to diffuse the technology through some kind of “community center” in Oakland. Not very promising. In the epilogue, he gives a lame, empty speech about how we should all come together, and how the technology could better the world, blah, blah, blah.

It’s a fun movie. But the message is simply to be patient, and that steady and incremental reform is the only way to go. This view does not account for the true nature of the world’s oligarchy, and for what they ultimately aim to do with their power. As if they would allow a world of rainbows and butterflies.

Worst Idea of the Year

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Arming teachers with firearms is the worst idea of the year. Yesterday, I defended gun ownership in general, but if teachers are packing heat there are two huge problems.

Before I begin, I think I’ve earned the right to opine. I was a teacher. I taught junior high school, first at an international school in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and then in a public high school in northern Michigan, in a low-income area. I also taught at an elite high school in Mexico City.

The first problem is that some teachers will, invariably, “go postal.” Within months of arming teachers, there will be a news report – Breaking News – of a teacher somewhere, say, in Wisconsin, who mowed down half of his (or her) biology class.

Why? Just couldn’t take it anymore. “But he seemed so normal” people will say. “He was a pillar of the community,” others will say.

The second problem is that teachers will be disarmed by the usual hooligans and goofballs who take advantage of teachers in so many ways. I knew a male computer teacher whose students often got the better of him, and one day three 10th grade girls (one of them very tall) took his wallet and keys and held them high over his head. There he was, jumping up to recover his belongings. Over and over. The girls thought it was very funny. (In my experience, the worst miscreants were usually female).

Why not, instead, lower the level of anti-depressant abuse? Why not, instead, augment health, fitness and sports programs instead of sacrificing these on the altar of math and science?

I’ve been in the teacher trenches. It’s the last place you want to have weapons.

The Long Game

The two very quick video snapshots, below, were taken by my 17-year-old son at a Scottsdale, AZ high school.

The videos show the demonstrations/ walkouts of Friday the 23rd. The students are demanding more security or gun control in their schools. The first video is 25 seconds, and the second is 9 seconds.

I think the gun control agenda is not a short-term agenda. There are two recent Supreme Court decisions, the Bill of Rights, and a sizable (probably a majority) chunk of the population in favor of the Second Amendment.

Reasonable people can debate which kinds of gun control measures can reduce violence without infringing on the Second Amendment, but that is actually not the goal of gun control advocates. The reality is that, over the long run, most gun control advocates seek a total ban on guns: a massive disarmament similar to the one that happened in Australia.

Such an agenda is doomed to failure over the next several decades, but the factions backing gun control – those at the top of the pyramid – do not care about that. They are playing the long game: 20 – 40 years out.

I’m in favor of fine-tuning some regulations: more training for first-time buyers, raising the age to 21, better security locks, and so on, but significant infringements on gun ownership place Americans in peril.

People in Japan, China, and Korea do not understand the American context. They live in societies with a high degree of consensus, and these political systems did not emerge as anti-colonial movements. Their relationships between the state and the individual are completely different. Different civilization, different context. They do not need a Second Amendment.

But the United States is different. Our origin as a nation lies in a justified armed rebellion. Consider this: Without armed farmers (who were finally triggered by British attempts to disarm them, so  the financial rape could continue), the American colonies would not have become independent when they did.

Perhaps America would have remained under British imperial rule for a lot longer, and eventually evolved into a semi-autonomous and semi-independent nation – like Canada or Australia, for example, where paper currency still bears the mark – the stain – of the English monarchy. There’s a reason for that!

Also, during times of natural disasters, people in Asia tend to rally and cooperate, whereas in the US natural disasters often devolve into more unpredictable situations. After Fukushima, the Japanese lined up in an organized fashion to receive batteries, in one example. So of course the Japanese would not really “get” why Americans need to be armed during emergencies.

So, to ask the usual question: After a week of no electricity, no security, and no working infrastructure, would you rather hold a cellphone with a dead battery or a firearm?

Self-defense is a natural right, so much so that attempts to forcibly disarm American citizens should be met with immediate lethal force – not just against whatever rat with a badge shows up on the doorstep, but also against whoever pens the order, no matter how high the office. Zero tolerance should come full circle.

Theoretically, it is possible to engage in logical, reasoned debate over gun regulations that balance the interests of stakeholders.

In the real world, however, we see a lot of hysterical reporting, scripted propaganda, hashtag crowd think, and other alarming signs that the powers behind gun control are not interested in compromise. Their interests are more nefarious, and their long-term goal is complete and total disarmament. When they say that this is not their objective, well, they are lying.

Across the long game, I think gun control advocates will fail in that ultimate objective.

Indeed, the more they try, the more guns are produced, bought and sold, and stockpiled. There are way more guns out in society today than there were a decade ago.

It’s far too late for gun control advocates to implement a real ban.

Russia Gate Hysteria

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As soon as I got off the plane in the US and sat in a snack bar, I was bombarded with 1950s-style propaganda about Russia “hacking the elections.”

My friends and family do not understand how I can oppose the Trump administration on the one hand and yet not give any credence to this so-called scandal on the other hand.

Firstly, I am still waiting for any indication that Russia hacked into the actual system of casting and electronic votes on that single day of the election. That would be “hacking the election.”

Russian trolls and bots spreading Facebook posts, and tweeting tweets, about democrats does not amount to anything. So, at best, they tried to influence the “campaign” (as opposed to the single-day “election”). The narrative has degenerated so much that even the Trump administration describes a meddling in “the election.”

Secondly, talk about hypocrisy. It is standing policy – the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department – to influence the election outcomes of other countries. Sometimes this is done rather openly (the “color revolutions” of eastern Europe) and sometimes surreptitiously (by influencing the media). But there is nary an election anywhere in the world where the US does not try to influence the results.

Thirdly, all of these indictments flow from secondary and minor violations of the law. With all the media hysteria surrounding this event, some people got stressed about it, and ended up fibbing to the FBI – which sometimes comes with consequences. These indictments: small potatoes.

Fourthly, I suspect that the fear-mongering surrounding social media provides government and large corporations with a pretext for more control over such media – for sanitizing content.

Fifthly, it is clear to me that people who invest credence in this scandal are simply looking to explain why Trump won the election. They prefer not to consider that the DNC stole the primaries from Sanders, or that the democratic message was flawed.

Personally I would prefer the constant criticism of the Trump administration to be based on something more substantial: that economic development should not be defined by Wall Street’s casino booms, that children who were trafficked into the country illegally deserve a more robust defense, that the country does not become more secure by denying visas on a country-of-origin basis but rather on an individual basis, that US policy in the Middle East, especially regarding Jerusalem, should not be made by plutocrats such as Adelson, and that absolutely nothing has been done to restore the civil liberties lost under the previous two administrations, etc…

Indeed, this bogus Russian hacking story actually deflects and distracts from the real issues.

Meantime, I can barely watch television news or listen to NPR, which is the background station here at my sister’s place in Rochester. All this news is nauseating and infuriating. The stupidity of it all.

Do I have to return to China to take in more reasonable news? To distance myself from such blatant propaganda?

Mandela Effect, Two Retrospectives

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Netflix has a new show called “Valor.”

I suppose it is similar to Homeland, but here it’s the Army taking lead on fighting terrorism, and of course the terrorists are Arabs with five-o’clock shadows and thick accents: “We will take rrrevenge on your countrrry!”

Interestingly, the Army heroes also have to distinguish between the good CIA agents and the bad CIA agents, so there are hints of Gladio-style false flags and all that jazz.

In any case, in Episode 9 after the 30 minute mark, there is a scene of an Army wife at home, and the wall behind her has a world map. As has been explored by many, the world map of today has undergone some inexplicable changes.

For example:

Japan has shifted North and is closer to Korea.

Sri Lanka is no longer exactly South of India (I remember it Southwest) but instead to the East.

New Zealand is not to the Southeast of Australia, rather than simply to the East or Northeast. Yes, its new position  is odd. On my first to Australia in 1991 or thereabouts, my airline connection was in New Zealand. With today’s map, it would make little sense to stop in New Zealand on the way to Australia.

In the photo above, there is a map of the Americas. It is the current map, with no indication of the pre-Mandela shift.

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The shot above zooms into a shot just of Madagascar, which calls attention to it.

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Indeed, in the image above, we see only Madagascar. This isolated image of the island probably means something. Many people remember this island as being more rounded, without the peninsula jutting northward. I certainly remember a more rounded Madagascar.

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There appears to be one depiction of the map before the Mandela Effect. Of course, if this map had been made decades ago and retains the old form it would be “residue.” But this is a new show, so there is no residue, only the show’s producers engaging in a kind of retrospective.

As in the older maps, this map above provides a rather open Straits of Gibraltar, with considerably more space separating Spain and Africa compared to today’s map, shown below:

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Above, in the new map the Straits of Gibraltar are less than 9 miles wide and make the Mediterranean more closed.

Otherwise, the world map in “Valor” reflects the current world map.

By the way, regarding the separate controversy of Sicily, I rank among those who believe that there has been a Mandela effect shift.

The Sicily that I know was a tad closer to Tunisia and farther from Italy. In fact, when I lived in Tunisia as a teenager with my family, we could see Sicily on a clear day from Cap Bon. We could see the entire contour of the island from bottom to top, with no pesky curvature.

Also, I ended up in a boarding school in Rome my last year of high school. For the senior project, five of us formed a group and chose to go to Sicily and write papers on the Greek ruins there. We ended up circling most of the island.

We took a ferry boat from Naples to Palermo. There was also a ferry from the boot of Italy, across the Strait of Messina, but this appeared wider back then than it is today. Now only two miles wide? That seems crazy. Today, the Italian government periodically entertains the idea of a suspension bridge between Italy and Sicily, but this was not possible with the older geography.

To sum up, the map shown in “Valor” provides two retrospectives of the pre-Mandela effect world map: 1) the island of Madagascar, and 2) the Straits of Gibraltar.

Bizarre Pharma Commercial

I noticed this commercial on MSNBC, which was the channel of choice for the Sbarro pizza place at Miami airport.

Yeah, I got to pull an all-nighter in Miami waiting for a 6 am flight to Rochester.

MSNBC is getting a lot of mileage out of the school shooting and the Russian hacking spectacle, as are all the other news channels. I can’t help but comment on that later in the week.

Anyways I was struck by the commercial, 90 seconds below.

This commercial is for Opdivo, a medication to give a “longer life” in some patients who have been treated with chemotherapy.

But the side-effects are extensive. And very serious: “…can cause your immune system to attach normal organs and tissues in your body and affect how they work. This may happen anytime during or after treatment has ended, and may become serious and lead to death.”

So, basically… One side-effect is mortality.

It is strange how the verbal narrative does not correlate much with the visual narrative, and maybe this cognitive dissonance is intentional, paralyzing thought and leading to more consumer compliance.

The commercial is very Brave New World, very manipulative.

Big Pharma keeps inventing more and more drugs to fix more fundamental problems caused by diet, stress, and a sedentary lifestyle. But these drugs aren’t even that effective. According to their own warning labels they are actually quite dangerous.

In any case, tomorrow I will post on a Mandela Effect related topic.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Telekinesis?

In the 10 second video below, Christiano Ronaldo plants his left foot next to the ball – which then rises in the air – before striking it into the goal.

This is not normal. Ronaldo may have been focusing his “intention” like a laser beam on the ball lifting up. Maybe it is his mind, and not his body, that has given him the edge over others all along.

Telepathy is very common, but telekinesis is extremely rare.

Tomorrow I fly to Miami, overnight in the airport to get a 6 AM flight to Rochester NY, so I will not post for 48 hours.

UBI in Perspective

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The Huffington Post ran an article, linked below, against the case for a Universal Basic Income (UBI), which has been made here several times.

The article depicts UBI as suspect: “And the fact that it’s promoted by radicals at both ends of the political spectrum should ring alarm bells.” But what it it is being promoted by someone like me, who rejects the political spectrum and values complexity and paradox? If my liberal friends think I’m conservative and my conservative friends think I’m communist, what then?

Come to think of it, anyone ultimately defending the prevailing system really needs that political “spectrum.” It becomes very easy to pigeon-hole people people.

The article does not like UBI because it does not fix the structural problem of poverty, even though that is not the intent of UBI. It’s simply designed – for once – to give a little bit of a break to the people who never, ever, get a break.

UBI is not going to dismantle the welfare state or erode other programs… It is political suicide, for example, to make any real cuts to Social Security, and Medicare is locked in.

Instead, the article proposes “shared control over local economic development, wage bargaining and decisions about national investment in industry and infrastructure.” But that is real pie in the sky stuff, and won’t happen without a revolution.

And as has been argued here before, the tax burden associated with QBI is meaningless. Firstly, and everyone can probably agree on this, UBI represents an insignificant expense compared with what the US wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nor does the UBI proposal compare with what the US gifts to Israel, that is, to non-American citizens.

Secondly, and fewer people will agree on this next point, because it comes from a far deeper critique of the US system,  but taxes are not backstopping the US economy. There is no logic to a system in which the national debt has been climbing rapidly and will never come down. Yes, the Pentagon is now getting a blank check and no one says jack.

Taxes are neo-feudal rituals to control populations. They haven’t paid for shit. If they had, then the national debt would not be 20 trillion, 600 billion and skyrocketing. The people at the top of the pyramid print as much money as they want, and then they tax the people at the bottom of the pyramid as much as they can get away with. But for the purposes of justification, propaganda, and ideology, taxes are depicted as necessary to provide “logic” to the overall system.

People can quibble about the advantages and disadvantages of UBI all they want.

At the end of the day, however, critics of UBI are making their case within an economic system that runs on bank bailouts, corporate welfare, and unlimited budgets for an alphabet soup of police-state agencies.

Give me a break.

 

 

 

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-coote-universal-basic-income_us_5a830188e4b01467fcf1df2f

Intuition

There is a trailer below, two minutes long, about the power of human intuition. Some people might want to search for this documentary on Netflix, although I’ve noted that Netflix offerings differ in each country.

It is worth remembering that even if computers become billions of times smarter than humans, and even if AI runs more than what it already does (a lot), computers will never have true intuition. They may have learning or adaptation, but not intuition. If there is to be a coming struggle between humans and computers, it would be wise to remember this.

I watched this documentary – called InnSaei – because I’m binging on things Icelandic (the director is Icelandic).

Icelandic Series

The three-minute trailer, below, gives a good idea of this Icelandic show called “Trapped.”

Subtitles are available in English, which I need, because I speak zero Icelandic. However, the occasional word will pop out as being familiar to any English speaker. The cadence of Icelandic sounds very much like Old English.

I imagine Iceland preserved more of this linguistic deep past: no Roman legions, no Norman invasions, no bringing back exotic words from colonized lands. It’s a fascinating series on Netflix: