also, if you have any tendency to be satisfied with obama etc's reassurances about all the limits and warrants that are supposedly in place, you have really lost your mind. how many times do people have to lie, evade, distort, before you stop believing them? it's their job to lie: it's their sworn oath to lie by their own account; by their own definitions, it is treason not to lie. they're currently lying about the fact that they were lying to you before. and yet you take them seriously.
i think one thing everyone in our society needs to reflect on: you're going to take james clapper or barack obama seriously because they're wearing suits and have positions of great authority. it doesn't matter, for example, that they have excruciatingly obvious motivations to lie. then you have snowden, and people just hammer: 29! all alone! high school dropout! but no one has seriously doubted the truth of what he's revealing. he has some sort of principles or commitment to freedom; they have no commitment to anything but power. snowden's commitment is incredibly obvious: he is saying the things he's saying at tremendous cost to himself. obama etc are lying to an ever-self-aggrandizing effect, to preserve and conceal their own power. barack obama - this is completely obvious to anyone with a shred of rationality - has no credibility whatever on anything when speaking qua pres; the only things the words of someone like that are intended to do is manipulate you; seriously, obviously, sentence by sentence. in your heart, you know this to be true. obama's access to truth is corrupted entirely by power. snowden has as much credibility as a human being can reasonably have.
officials from the dmv to the pres do not even really purport to be speaking as or for themselves; they are spokesmen for organizations. so severe is the situation that the question of sincerity does not even arise; you're simply representing what you take to be the position of a bureaucracy; you would even excuse yourself for lying or for saying things that are deeply opposed to your own beliefs. indeed, you might take it to be your duty to express whatever it is you're expressing as fake-sincerely as possible, all the while believing it to be false. well, that's your job. but what is truly shocking is that people believe you anyway; people think you have more credibility than a person who speaks passionately for himself.
29 and all alone actually does confer some credibility; eminent head of a bureaucracy: no credibility whatever: every sentence a mere strategy.
this is an example of an extreme problem: most people think power confers credibility. this is a mindless capitulation and extreme expression of irrationality. it sort of hints at the direction our species will take to extinction. milllions upon millions of people have already died because we tend to give epistemic authority to people who operate coercive power, because they operate coercive power. it's a straight-up epistemic illness.
one thing about the snowden nsa material: it's as nice a confirmation as could possibly be imagined of the concept of squishy totalitarianism. here is a nice slide, revealed today in the continuing dripdrip. understand that anyone arguing that what snowden did was wrong is arguing that it is legitimate for the government and gigantic corporations to spy on everyone continually. and then they are arguing that that should be a secret from yourself and the rest of us. they are evil. now, if you want to just create fog all around this thing by attacking snowden personally and so on, even while pretending to be disturbed or wanting to have a conversation about this, you are evil and self-deluded. it's not that surprising that you're deluding yourself because you want to be deluded; that's your whole argument.
squishy totalitarianism: the political/economic/aesthetic/psychological system or syndrome shared in common, for instance, by contemporary China, the European Union, Iran, and the United States. It is characterized by a complex so-called 'technocratic' merger of state and capital; large-scale mechanisms of subject-formation such as compulsory state education and regulation/monopoly ownership of the media; welfare-state or 'safety-net' programs that enhance consumption and give large parts of the population a sense of dependency and security; a relative tolerance for some forms of diffuse dissent and scope for individual choice, particularly in consumption, combined with pervasive state and corporate surveillance; overwhelming police and military force and sprawling systems of incarceration; entrenched extreme hierarchies of wealth and expertise; regulation of the economy by monetary policy and central banks in cooperation with banking concerns; an international regime of national sovereignty combined with international state/corporate mechanisms for the circulation of wealth.
one direction of the snowden debate is the question of whether or not he is a conscientious objector or doing a king etc. well, i did compare him to rosa parks, but only sort of. it's wacky how things can get hijacked by words like this. is this civil disobedience? well, we could work on that. i'm willing to. but it doesn't have to be rosa parks to be right, you know? this is not a symbolic or expressive action designed to indpire a mass movement. this is a direct act of resistance to oppression, sufficient as an act unto itself.
so melissa harris-perry on msnbc today etc: a real conscientious objector stays and faces tthe music. he doesn't run. i have respect for that, but not for snowden. look that is not this situation. he has to remain at large and develop and publish the information, you see? it's a project: he wants to get through as much of it as possible before he 'faces the music'. look these people will silence you by whatever means necessary. have we heard the voice of bradley manning? have we? martin luther king was dealing with the public fact of racial apartheid. snowden is trying to deal with a secret world into which you simply disappear and all your beliefs and info along with you. where they'd take him, you write no open letters.
i want to ask melissa etc: is it legitimate that you are yourself being spied upon and searched by the government? ok i can see you're into that. is it right for that fact itself to be a secret? if not, then ed snowden did the right thing. you see how easy it is to slip into totalitarian thinking, melissa; you're doing it right now.
Researchers have found eating highly-processed carbohydrates like cakes, cookies and chips could affect pleasure centers in the brain, leading to serious cravings that might cause people to overeat.
meaning that you're an addict. did you know that cocaine also affects the pleasure center of your brain? so does taking a good dump, which may be addictive. ask yourself whether the, erm, brain is dong any explanatory work here, or just the ass.
the deen thing shows how extreme this has all gotten. one thing i like is that next week, spurred on by something or other, we'll be talking again about how we need to have an open discussion about race. (as i say 'we need to have a real national discussion' etc is just a shuffling evasion.) but the informal sanctions for merely emitting the wrong sounds have reached insanity; really i try not to be careful, you know? i don't really see what good it does; let's try to throw down and see what we can learn. but academia, not to mention the food network, might condemn you to siberia for life etc. do we really want to spend our lives speaking in fear? i don't think paula's necessarily helping the situation with her series of sobbing apologies, etc. just straightforwardly as possible reflect and express regret. if you are able to, in a couple of months share some reflections about race, southern identity, southern food. that's good. but this is taking the form of just taping people's mouths shut or redacting their every conversation.
this is what worries me about the 'bullying' stuff, for example; sometimes it doesn't go much further then 'here is a list of prohibited words'. one problem is that words are extraordinary volatile and multivalent things. it depends who's speaking where and when and how. the whole thing should be available for every sort of use.
the supreme court right now is surprisingly unpredictable, specifically in who votes how. that's a relief because for awhile it just seemed absurd when people would declare that political ideology wasn't (the most) important (factor). i vibe that it's roberts, kind of on a long-term program to re-establish the court as a neutral arbiter. scalia was always more interesting than people seemed to think, of course. sometimes there seems to be no telling, yet i'm betting if you sat down with him for awhile you'd find is a fierce consistency on his own account that is compelling.
bobby bland had that thing that came from way down in his thoat that was kind of scary. you know, he was among the top artists who kept various forms of the blues alive as a current popular music that could fill arenas with black folks in the south, right through the 90s. also a couple of his songs are just my favorite evil grooves ever. 'ain't no love in the heart of the city' will be living on even through the chrysler ads.
if you ever considered yourself a journalist, and your position is that the sheer fact that everyone is under surveillance all the time is a legitimate state secret in the american system of government and that revealing it to the people against whom it is conducted is an act of treason or espionage, you should tie an extension cord to a beam and dangle yourself by the neck. do it right now. any official who believes that that is constitutional or compatible with even a vague commitment to government by the people has no business anywhere in this country and has no place in our tradition. we'll re-admit you to citizenship, though not to office, if you crawl from the capital to the jefferson memorial on your hands and knees and beg forgiveness, stopping at the archives to read the constitution and the declaration and sob uncontrollably.
this has been extremely clarifying as to who's who.
Two Western intelligence experts, who worked for major government spy agencies, said they believed that the Chinese government had managed to drain the contents of the four laptops that Mr. Snowden said he brought to Hong Kong, and that he said were with him during his stay at a Hong Kong hotel.
now, maybe the chinese got everything he has. maybe the russians too, and i supose this could be one approach: just give it up to everyone. but if you believe that this is true on the basis that 'western intelligence officials' say it is true, you're a chump. obviously, no 'intelligence official' has any credibility on anything like this. their commitment isn't to speaking the truth; it's to obscuring the truth. they have infinitely less credibility than snowden himself.
as to the notion that snowden 'has been working for the chinese or the russians all along': first of all, it's an utterly predictable disinformation move. i guess they weren't satisfied with condemning him on the grounds that he's 29 years old, dropped out of high school, is all alone, (and kicked your ass). but ponder for just one second. is this the way a russian spy behaves?: i'll go on every newscast in the world, then start bouncing from country to country as all the world's media follows me about? if the man was working for the chinese, we never would have heard about any of this. the chinese wouldn't reveal that they had the stuff, and the nsa wouldn't reveal that they had lost it. seriously, these clowns can't even come up with plausible propaganda-slanda. so, the government of the united states, as edward snowden has shown, is profoundly evil as well as deeply and pervasively unamerican. but he's also shown its redeeming feature: it's bright as a cinder block.
so, one thing i wonder is whether the nsa is reading 'cheese it! the cops.' or, i wonder what it would take to get them really interested or induce a home search, no-fly etc. oh, edward snowden, my cousin and best friend, fedexed me all the stuff three weeks ago on thumb drives. you wouldn't believe general keith alexander's sexual habits! i'll be dripping out the details over the next few weeks, as it were. a preview: general keith alexander's specific dick is in your private ass right now. it is a felony to mention that of course, so relax and try to enjoy it. tryin to hit the keywords. jihad! actually, i think people by writing/texting/phoning/blogging/tweeting stuff like that all the time might help mess this stuff up. it should be a movement.
china, russia, ecuador: it would be excellent if there were anarchist safe zones outside of the world state system. but they've covered the whole world with coercion, like sherwin williams with paint: every square inch. thus there are no good options; he has to go wherever he can survive, avoid arrest, and continue to show us the awful truth. i do sort of wonder about the idea of running through moscow; it would be surprising if putin didn't seize the info, if snowden is indeed carting it around on computers, as reported. on the other hand, that would be a crazy way to try to transport or save the information. that's what the internet is for. that's why julian assange exists, etc. indeed, come to think of it, it is very unlikely that he is physically transporting the info. surely he stashed/distributed/encrypted it etc before he went public; it seems like he had this thing pretty well thought out.
snowden has done irreversible damage to the u.s., according to the head of the nsa. but he has also shown that the u.s. government deserves damage, much more than ed can inflict (probably). my view is that everyone who has ever worked in any of these programs and agencies at any level is morally - and, for that matter, constitutionally - obligated to do what ed snowden did. you don't have an authoritarian, anti-democratic state unless people silence their individual consciences and collude in their own and everyone else's oppression. if people were making moral judgments even vaguely independently, you could not accomplish these things. not that no one would ever agree to participate in things like total surveillance regimes, but some people would hop off and make such things impossible. every nightmare of the twentieth century took this form: the individual conscience is irrelevant; all that counts is a simulated collective decision or identity, i.e. some vicious, power-drunk fuck's arbitrary decision, imposed by coercion. no one can be under any all-things-considered obligation to abide by such things. but anyone can be under an all-things-considered moral obligation to commit what such regimes of coercion call a 'felony,' or whatever.
here's a notion. what if natural selection works on an eco-system basis (as opposed to, or in addition to, the level of genes, or individuals, or species)? earth's climate has been highly volatile throughout. so, eco-systems that are very specifically dependent on very specific climate conditions collapse as a whole, including more or less all the individuals, genes and species that are exclusive to it. the system is mutually interdependent, so on some occasions the whole system more or less has to stand or fall, adapt or die together. say if there are no trees the squirrels die (oh and stipulate that somehow without the squirrels the trees die; this seems unlikely, but if you took it through a few species steps...): well, then, the two are one evolutionary unit, engaged in mutual cooperative selection; they stand or fall as species together, or we might say for the purposes of natural selection they are one thing, a primary individual as fundamental as any particular squirrel or tree, or all the squirrels together or all the trees together. but climate is only one factor: we might think of invasive species, for example, and in general what happens when successful ecosystems meet or touch or overlap. that is, we might say the unit of evolution is all the species in a system insofar as they are mutually interdependent for life.
just going to say it: mike rogers, john mccain, barack obama, eric holder, dianne feinstein, peter king, thomas friedman, david brooks, etc are, as explicitly as it is possible to be, enemies of democracy and liberty, enemies of the american form of government and way of life. they aren't americans. they're soviets.
they've charged snowden. what i hope is that he has a doomsday device set to go off on his apprehension or unnatural death : every senator's calls to their gay escort services, coke dealers, or whatever it may be in a particular public servant/power-monster's case. or it could be insanely secret operations that would utterly compromise our diplomacy. this whole thing is a decisive demonstration that we do not live in a democracy; you can't have a democracy in which the government spies on everyone all the time, and in which that is itself a secret which it is treason to reveal. i very much think - i mean this completely seriously - that this would justify a second war of independence; it is a far better justification than the arbitrary oppressions that led to the first. however, one now faces force so overwhelmingly annihilating that that seems futile. any form of resistance we can mount is required, however.
from this week's rappahannock news (from little washington, va, where i'm hanging with my ma).
To the Editor:
I would like to express my deepest gratitude and thanks to all my family members, therapist, friends, employers and supporters in the community during this difficult time. As all of you know by now by reading the Rappahannock News on a weekly basis, I made some bad decisions, for which I take full responsibility.
I am glad that the attention is focused on me, as I am sure I am the only one in this county who has ever made a mistake. As someone once said, 'There are two sides to every story.' That statement is very true, except that I have not had the opportunity to tell my side. I am very lucky to have so many people who love and support me and I can't thank you enough. Thank you for the phone calls, cards, emails to my family, books sent and money.
I have taken full responsibility for my actions, so those of you who continue to gossip at the 211 Quicke Mart, or with co-workers, etc., really need to attend to your own problems and stay out of mine! This ordeal has done nothing but make me a stronger, better person that I have ever been.
it's true. i'm stoned today. i actually don't think that experts can reliably detect the hand of pollock; that got a bit screwed up in the editing. sometimes it's funny but people can't quite seem to believe that i am actually asserting what i seem to be asserting. not that they disapprove, necessarily, or even disagree. it's just that it doesn't quite register. i seem to be somewhat hostile to both modernism and post-modernism, which would make me a reactionary of the early 19th century, i guess, or at any rate, ready for something else. but i am more hostile to modernism. picasso: creator and destroyer (you doink): or, maybe just a person who put paint on canvas. anyway, at least postmodernism has many playful moments, many anti-pretentious moments, and is open: there are many things you could do or be as an artist. no one can be what modernism held all great artists were.
don't tell anyone, but i love the poetry of sylvia plath. the july 11 new york review of books features a piece by terry castle ("the walter a. haas professor in the humanities at stanford") that is extremely hostile toward plath, reviewing a couple of new biographies. it's a good thing that terry is a woman, because if the piece were written by a man, there'd be a mob of angry feminists stringing him up right now.
so, first off, she really goes for the 'slut-shaming': she seems to regard plath's promiscuity as discrediting, though she summarizes: "Her erotic quest seems at once impressive, chaotic, lascivious, and pathetic." or try this: "As many of her college contemporaries have since reported, the feverish Plath not only sought kudos for her studies, she also sought the role of reigning Smith-girl nympho."
or how about this, claiming to defend plath but just trying to rip her - or indeed american women of her era in general - to shreds:
In her defense: Plath used the pain as best she could. Though attempts over the decades to see her as a proto-feminist oracle fail to convince, it has to be said that Plath's writing captured the central and most disturbing psychic component in the lives of conventional middle-class American heterosexual women of the 1950s and early 1960s: a toxic, typically unconscious longing - sadomasochistic in structure - to be both adored and degraded, cherished and abjected, by a powerful man resembling one's father. The fantasy contaminates (and sickens) any number of now-canonical Plath poems: "Electra on the Azalea Path," "Two Views of a Cadaver Room," "Medusa," "Cut," "Daddy," "The Jailer," "Lady Lazarus" - all those kitsch near-masterpieces that make the poet a sensation still (sometimes) among bulemic female undergraduates. Plath exposed, as no one had before, the quintessential "nice-girl" sex anguish of her time: a mode of female desiring as incoherent, narcissistic, passive-aggressive, and self-canceling as it was misogynistic, daddy obsessed, and morbidly heterosexual.
in a way, i admire the extreme violations of political correctness, though i might think that if castle wants a misogynist, she should look in the mirror. but i do think the piece as a whole is extreme in its attempt to discredit the work by discrediting the life, or indeed the whole era. it could have actually been a defense. ok, so maybe i do recognize this psychic formation she's identifying, though she goes awfully general. but so, i believe, did sylvia plath. she not only used her pain as best she could, she explored it, and all the issues that castle identifies, with consummate self-consciousness. if many, many young women, even bulemics (wait, did you just make fun of bulemics? also, your female students?), saw themselves in these poems, they also came to a sort of self-consciousness about their situation, and amassed a repertoire for expressing it. and then, there is the great music of her words. it wouldn't matter without that.
Soliloquy Of The Solipsist
I? I walk alone; The midnight street Spins itself from under my feet; When my eyes shut These dreaming houses all snuff out; Through a whim of mine Over gables the moon's celestial onion Hangs high.
I Make houses shrink And trees diminish By going far; my look's leash Dangles the puppet-people Who, unaware how they dwindle, Laugh, kiss, get drunk, Nor guess that if I choose to blink They die.
I When in good humor, Give grass its green Blazon sky blue, and endow the sun With gold; Yet, in my wintriest moods, I hold Absolute power To boycott any color and forbid any flower To be.
I Know you appear Vivid at my side, Denying you sprang out of my head, Claiming you feel Love fiery enough to prove flesh real, Though it's quite clear All your beauty, all your wit, is a gift, my dear, From me.
it's hard to evaluate the claim that the nsa surveillance program has prevented attacks, and it's the sort of case where people have such obvious and powerful motivations to lie, distort, etc. that you'd be silly believe them without evidence. now on the other hand, the complete assurance of greenwald, snowden and others that the program isn't effective against terorism at all is at least equally hard to assess. but here's my view: i think we're at that choice point. i would take somewhat more terrorism in preference to universal oppression of the sort created by the nsa.
it's often said that the first duty of an american president is to keep americans safe. no, you sweet little kindergartner, that's the first duty of your mommy. the first duty of the american president is to keep americans free.
these are careless overall impressions more than systematic observations. i think the region where i live (let's say mid-atlantic) is considerably lusher than it was, say, thirty years ago. the vegetation is thicker, with vines and suckers all over everything. it's greener, and of course the east coast has overall reforested in the last half century, and existing forest has matured, even though logging continues in relatively small doses.
the greening may well have something to do with warming, and the vibe is going from temperate to semi-tropical. but also, the way they farm out here is having perhaps underappreciated environmental effects. so the way operate around here is that they come early in the spring and spray round-up on everything with large combines, killing the spring green immediately. then a week or two later they seed soybeans or corn in rows and spray the fields with fertilizer. the seed must be round-up resistant. they return late in the fall and harvest, and that's the sum total of the interaction of farmer and field: it's all done with very big machines extremely quickly. i'm betting it's ten minutes or less per acre for the whole season.
i'm quite surrounded by intense ag at my little scholhouse is adams country, pa. i'm below many fields, and i think the runoff partly accounts for the incredible green fecundity all around me (also, this is a very wet area; every town named for a spring: york springs, boiling springs, mt holly springs, etc). but i also think that a number of species of plants around me have become herbicide resistant. it's been amazing trying to get rid of the poison ivy, which grows around here in a way that entirely covers whole barns or hundred-foot trees, or where you realize that what you thought were branches of that maple are gigantic ivy/oak vine/branches.
you can soak this viciously toxic vegetation pretty thoroughly in the stuff that home depot bills as 'poison ivy and brush killer,' and give it barely a pause. the crap is insanely hard to handle. i feel i have to kill it with herbicide before iattack it or else i'd need a head-to-toe hazmat suit. as it is, i've worked with coveralls and a mask at times. anyway, even to have a crack at it, i need to mix a triple-strength solution.
i think the same is true of the english ivy and the honeysuckle around here. i've never seen anything like the honeysuckle: there's an acre of just thick bowers of vines around my house. the whole county smells like honey. here's a pic.
at any rate, i think we are in an experiment with this manner of farming to see what happens when you drench whole counties in herbicide every year. and then what happens to ag and everything else if a hundred resistant weeds emerge.
on the other hand, i wouldn't say that all this stuff seems to be making this area any less alive, per se: my heavens it's a blooming buzzing confusion of birds bugs animals and no doubt everything else.
whatever you do, don't let the debate come down to whether snowden is a 'whistle-blower' or rather a 'traitor.' the worst is just to say 'he committed a crime; it's just that simple.' really you can't get moral decisions out of definitions of terms like this, and it's a merely bullying set of moves. well, i blame socrates for the technique, the old shyster.