Sunni-Shia Plastic Chess

chess

I’ve repeatedly made the argument that the Korean peninsula is a stage, a game. Previous posts have pointed to the absurdity of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

Perhaps some people are convinced by a wooden table set up in a swamp, with four 2008 Sony TV set up to look like monitors of the atom bomb. The charade goes all the way back to the 1950s. The Manchurian mind fuck, as the movie tipped off.

I think that North Korea is a UN Security Council special administrative district, but that it’s above the pay grade for their formal leaders to know much.

I ought to just relax and have a warm beer: Otto Warmbier, above. Actor. British, not American. They drink warm beer there do they not?

This bogus tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran is similarly contrived. Both governments are puppet regimes.

The Saudis were set up by the British Empire and collaborate very closely with Israel. Saudi Arabia’s oppression, its beheadings, all form a separate category of porn for the usual circle jerk.

Now Saudi Arabia wants its citizens to return from Lebanon, the only real semi-democracy in the Middle East, and a nice place, to Saudi Arabia, a backwater with no water.

Iran could have imploded the US government several times with inside information but chose not to.

The controllers want to lock and load another region for crisis, to at least have the option of pulling the trigger. So, and I know I’m mixing metaphors, but we have two plastic games of chess going on, Korea and the Middle East.

What’s next?

Step Backward

tr   The Trump administration – in an effort to protest Cuban policies such as restrictions on freedom of movement – is implementing restrictions on Americans’ freedom of movement. That’s a special kind of stupid.

As reported in the news: “New Cuba policy will restrict travel for Americans. American tourists will also no longer be able to travel to Cuba on individual people-to-people exchange programs. They must travel now with a sponsoring organization or, if there on educational travel, with an American group or university.”

https://www.yahoo.com/gma/cuba-policy-restrict-travel-americans-174504528–abc-news-topstories.html

Decathlon in China

DSC_0274

DSC_0278

DSC_0305

DSC_0285

DSC_0322

DSC_0268

Enjoying my view – less than 30 days left in China.

Worth a Look

There is a fascinating movie, called The Discovery, with Robert Redford and Jason Segel.

On one level it is about what happens to consciousness when we die. At the subatomic level we go to another place, and the movie has a plot around all that.

They also discover that people contain deep memories, perhaps not of their own in this present life but from past lives, or from alternate realities. The movie implied that there are multiple and parallel versions of this reality. The Mandela effect suggests that as well.

I will post more substantial things in the coming week, but I wanted to call attention to this thought-provoking movie.

 

In Scheme of Things

The recent Hollywood scandals, launched by Harvey Weinstein, has reignited the politics of gender.

When having an academic or intellectual conversation, people tend to regard gender as this important social divide, but I’m thinking that gender is the least important category.

Class matters most. One’s economic class determines one’s life, to a great extent. Upward mobility is becoming rarer. If you think gender matters more than class, just visit the VIP booth of the Kentucky Derby, or any fancy restaurant or hotel in Manhattan. The rich – men and women together – are bound into what C. Wright Mills called the “power elite.”

Next, race matters. The color of one’s skin matters a lot in the United States. Closely related to race is legal status, whether someone is a citizen, resident or undocumented “illegal.”

Last, and finally, there is gender. Even though this is the least relevant of all categories, there are tons of feminist study departments and women’s studies department in universities from Main to California. But there are no departments of the “working poor.”

So the actual hierarchy of importance – class, race, and gender – is inverted in social discourse. Gender and race get people’s attention and dominate the media.

Oh well…

Media Multiverse

When I was a teenager there were three TV stations, the radio, a handful of magazines, and books. That’s it. In retrospect I’m not sure how we all avoided boredom.

Browsing through Netflix raises this tree-falling-in-the-woods question:

If something happened in the world, and it did not end up on Netflix, did it ever really happen?

Netflix has shows on everything from ancient Rome to Marco Polo, from medieval times to colonial America, from the 1920s to the 1980s, and on and on and on. Every war ever fought has a bunch of TV shows and movies about it. I notice one about the British Empire attacking West Africa to get ivory.

When I finished watching one, Netflix then suggests another similar to it, that I did not know existed. Now Netflix simply starts playing its recommendations automatically. There is even a category called “Binge Worthy.”

It’s like all these shows are multiplying exponentially.

Bogus Charge

I never imagined I would be defending Harvey Weinstein in a post.

I don’t put it past a big time media mogul like Harvey Weinstein to use his power to pressure women into sex, but I find the latest allegation of “rape” a little hard to fathom. Why? Because of this:

“The development comes after allegations from actress Paz de la Huerta, who says Weinstein sexually assaulted her multiple times.”

Really? Multiple times? So after the first time he crossed the line, she found herself in a room alone with Weinstein yet again? And then waited 11  years to say something?

The LAPD is investigating “rape”? He threw her down and held a knife to her throat? That’s what rape is.

Rape involves physical coercion: force. If someone is influenced into sex and the later regrets it, that’s not rape, it’s just being stupid.

A crime as serious as rape needs to be immediately reported to the authorities, and then the testimony needs to be backed up – not with hearsay but with more evidence, forensic evidence.

I understand there are real rape victims out there. I also understand there are desperate people saturated in victim consciousness, with creative memories. Attention whores. Hollywood is filled with them.

Mexico’s House of Cards

This political thriller, set in Mexico City, is on Netflix – in Spanish but with English subtitles.

The show takes the local scandals and rumor mongering, and fuses them with Washington memes: a president is assassinated with a bullet (shades of JFK), a suspect runs through the hotel kitchen (shades of RFK), and the VP talks to the nation with a shirt splattered with blood (shades of Jackie O).

Someone framed the First Lady and she disappears into the city’s vast underworld, hoping to clear her name. No spoiler alerts there. All this happens at the outset of the first episode.

The show is especially fun for me because I recognize most of the settings, even some of the obscure ones. I lived there for almost three years and return pretty much annually. For some reason, my recurring dreams of Mexico City repeat the dreamscape cityscape and street layout – which is not the same as the actual city. It’s bizarre. Neither the real nor the dreamed city change much for me.

I will definitely post photos from there around the New Year.

Bugle-Blowing Front Men

Image result for robot

A steady procession of front men makes headlines, prophesizing that robots and AI will outperform and replace humans.

These media moguls, industrial plutocrats and celebrity scientists are reading off the same script. I call them “front men” (from Henry Ford onward) because they simply interface between technology that has been waiting in the wings and, well, us.

So you don’t think smart phone technology was really available decades ago? Technology is being dripped, filtered, time released… This requires a steady procession of front men and carnival barkers.

In any case, clearly, robots will reach spectacular levels of IQ. They will outperform humans in many tasks (but not all). Lacking a soul, lacking true intuition, robots will also lack true creativity. At the end of the day, these will simply be gadgets, like vacuum cleaners, but smarter. But still gadgets, toys.

Consciousness does not have a material origin; it cannot be found in the neural networks that silicon chips are trying to mimic. At least I don’t think so. The gray matter in our cranium operates more like a radio receiver, rendering knowledge from other sources.

So I’m not as paranoid about robots as many people are. But we should always have a way to pull the plug, just in case.

 

The Decision

Image result for Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has to tap into his reptilian complex and make a very primordial decision: to fight or to flee.

Apparently he is considering leaving Spain, although if he just goes to somewhere else in Europe he might not be safe, either. Because Spain is just a province of Europe, just like Catalonia is a province of Spain. He would be better advised to going to a country that has no extradition treaty with the EU and that, furthermore, is somewhat antagonistic to western imperialism.

This entire issue raises the question of the nature of the state. According to the Westphalian model, which started in Europe, a state has been widely regarded as requiring the following: 1) control over its borders; 2) a military under its command; 3) its own currency; and, most importantly 4) a monopoly on violence and the legal use of force.

Inside the EU, Spain does not have the first three items (its army is folded into NATO) and only partially meets the fourth. Various EU human rights commissions ameliorate its monopoly on violence.

Catalonia has none of the above. And it seems unwilling to acquire the means or legitimacy to use force. So this Catalonian movement is just, basically, a Facebook group that periodically marches up and down the street.