Tuesday, May 31, 2011

So... yeah (weird few days for me)

I've been posting random (not random to the specific topic just random in aggregate*) things on various websites the last few days.

If you found my blog from one of those posts... uh, congratulations?

The last few days have been weird. Not 'bad weird' or 'good weird' just surreal.

Just...... felt like saying that.


*as in "almost as random as this explanation"

Ahhhh Glenn Sacks. You certainly are an amusing bastard.

If you do a google search for that glorious patriarchal defender "Glenn Sacks" right now the top search result is "GlennSacks.com".

The excerpt from the website that shows up is "We Are The CHEAPEST Online-Drugstore >> Viagra For Sale."

Again that's just what's there atm, so once the ads rotate the excerpt will probably change.

Still. It's fucking hilarious how accurate that description is.

Anyways I had just gotten bored with David Brooks, only moments ago in fact, and decided to check in with Mr. Sacks. To my surprise I found an article that is not *entirely* bullshit. He recently wrote an article about lesbian divorces and child-custody issues. Admittedly I don't know very much about this issue, but to me it seems to be a surprisingly fair, if still somewhat slanted, assessment. (Although a cynic might point out that he only seems to be siding with certain lesbian women because they find themselves in a situation typically associated with fathers.)

But don't worry! Before things get too rational or fair Mr. Sacks sprints to the rescue with this tripe.

Copy and Pasted from the article "If Men Got Pregnant Would Abortion Be Legal":

Most people sympathize with women who have decided to terminate their pregnancies because they conceived as a result of being deceived into believing that their partners had vasectomies or were sterile. By contrast, courts have consistently failed to extend any consideration to men who have been deceived.
Fetal protection laws also demonstrate courts' and lawmakers' concern for women's reproductive rights and disregard for men's; if mom doesn't want to be a parent, the unborn child is a meaningless fetus, yet if it is dad who doesn't want to be a parent, the fetus is considered a living human being.
He never explicitly states that the father should be able to force an abortion; it's still creepy that he would insinuate that.

The "Men's Rights" advocates are one of those bizarre groups of people who, so that I can fully articulate my point of view, force me to co-opt rhetoric that I normally oppose. o.O
In his insistence that fathers and mothers "be treated equally" he seems to miss that fact that there are massive biological differences between the two genders. I'm not entirely opposed to the idea of 'financial abortion', which is what I think he was actually trying to imply, where the father severs all legal and financial obligations to the child.

What's bullshit is when he draws a false equivalency between the biological processes that mother goes through and the inconvenience to the father who has to support his own child (a bizarre assertion that only becomes more deranged with his complete omittance of the mother's own costs of raising his child).

Meh. It's a waste of time whining about Mr. Sacks' juvenile dick-waving.

For much more interesting, dare I say fun, juvenile di..... uh.... entertainment go play the new Mortal Kombat.

So, is Obama our Putin now?


Link is to an article that Greenwald wrote earlier this month, The Illegal War in Libya. When I say "ruin all of my fun" in this context I mean "any shred of trust I have for President Obama".

Copy & Pasted from the article, and referring to militant/imperial foreign policy:
But it is simply the case that with regard to many (not all, but many) of the most controversial issues in this area, Obama has either equaled or exceeded Bush/Cheney. That Obama refuses to seek Congressional approval for his war (and his top officials even suggest they have the power to defy any Congressional bans) -- while Bush sought and obtained Congressional authorization for his -- should be added to that ever-growing list.
So now Obama has targeted American citizens (not that any of the other killings are ok) for unilateral and summary execution/assassination, is directing an unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers, had (though may not have directed) members of his justice department help Bank of America try to blackmail or otherwise defame journalists, is only taking half-assed steps to improve domestic issues (not standing up for the unions, no public option, no hardline advocacy for financial sector reform); in summary- what the fuck!

Obviously not as bad as Putin. Still is cathartic to refer to him that way ^_^

Monday, May 30, 2011

Profit From Suffering: Stock Photos of the Killing Fields

Today's "WTF?!?" moment is brought to you by various stock photo websites.

Behold the Free Market at work! (in its most parasitic form)

I'd never argue that they shouldn't have the right to sell those photos (as long as the photos were legally obtained).

But seriously. Making money off of mass-murder is fucked up.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

1984 in brief: Nietzsche's critique of Socialism

[04/27/2012 note: This is wrong and I'm rewriting it.  I'll leave this here and post an updated/revised version in the near future.]

[07/13/2012 note: Regarding whether or not the Nazis are socialists, see this post.]

Some time ago I was having a casual discussion with an acquaintance of mine when we somehow stumbled upon the subject of our respective left-wing socio-political ideologies and the appeal of faux authoritarian aesthetics. We agreed that while we both deplored totalitarian governments there definitely was an appeal to being able to metaphorically grab someone by the shoulders and scream, "Shape the fuck up and do something useful!"

Therein lies the trap that makes left-wing dictatorships so much more potent than their traditional right-wing counterparts: despotism is fueled by pettiness and greed while military juntas see themselves as a bulwark defending traditional society against an existential threat. Maosim, Juche, Soviet Commuisim etc are based in the concept that they exist to improve the human condition. This results in the moral and ethical imperative to 'correct' every aspect of a person's life, naturally and essentially leading to the complete sublimation of all individuals into the state. The freakishly fanatical cults of personality so typical of these regimes are simply tools to that end; much as the religious will prostrate themselves and seek communion with the Godhead (whether by styling themselves after a prophet in Islam or by observing the complete reverence of Mass in Catholicism) the citizens of fully realized left-wing dictatorships idolize a specific person who literally embodies the perfection of the Socialist ideal.

Thus a wretched parody of Karl Marx's 'Dictatorship of the Proletariat' is realized.

It was with that epiphany that I was able to reconcile the horrors of 20th century communism with my own understanding of Socialism. I am NOT endorsing what happened; on the contrary I think it's important to understand the connection so that those mistakes can be avoided.

I formed these opinions based mainly on two sources. The first is, obviously, Orwell's 1984. The other is the 473rd aphorism in Nietzsche's Human, All Too Human. As translated by Marion Faber it reads:

Socialism in respect to its means. Socialism is the visionary younger brother of an almost decrepit despotism, whose heir it wants to be. Thus its efforts are reactionary in the deepest sense. For it desires a wealth of executive power, as only despotism had it; indeed, it outdoes everything in the past by striving for the downright destruction of the individual, which it sees as an unjustified luxury of nature, and which it intends to improve into an expedient organ of the community. Socialism crops up in the vicinity of all excessive displays of power because of its relation to it, like the typical old socialist Plato, at the court of the Sicilian tyrant; it desires (and in certain circumstances, furthers) the Caesarean power state of this century, because, as we said, it would like to be its heir. But even this inheritance would not suffice for its purposes; it needs the most submissive subjugation of all citizens to the absolute state, the like of which has never existed. And since it cannot even count any longer on the old religious piety towards the state, having rather always to work automatically to eliminate piety (because it works on the elimination of all existing states), it can only hope to exist here and there for short periods of time by means of the most extreme terrorism. Therefore, it secretly prepares for reigns of terror, and drives the word "justice" like a nail into the heads of the semi-educated masses, to rob them completely of their reason (after this reason has already suffered a great deal from its semi-education), and to give them a good conscience for the evil game that they are supposed to play.

Socialism can serve as a rather brutal and forceful way to teach the danger of all accumulations of state power, and to that extent instill one with distrust of the state itself. When its rough voice chimes in with the battle cry "As much state as possible," it will at first make the cry noisier than ever; but soon the opposite cry will be heard with strength the greater: "As little state as possible."

As a socialist myself it's worth remembering that the Nazis were socialists in their early days. It was only after the 'Night of Long Knives' and the purging of the SA that they completely broke from socialism and became one of the prototypical fascist organizations.

More importantly: North Korea and the Khmer Rogue. That should be all that needs to be said.

I'd Love to hear other people's thoughts on this!

I was stupid for a moment, am better now. (mostly)

My earlier post, "Into the Darkness You Go", wasn't meant as full fledged support for the war in Libya. I only meant that now that our forces are committed let's not cluster-fuck this war so badly. That's where the 'sunken cost fallacy' becomes relevant; my initial opinion was based upon the assumption that the best course of action would be to 'stay the course' as it were.

Fuck that.

Since as early as the war of 1812 through to the present day US foreign policy has been one long, bloodthirsty SNAFU. We are not unique in that fact, but America is my nation and that makes me, as a citizen, uniquely responsible for our national conduct.

I'm not a pacifist and I don't know what we should do going into the future from here. All I know for certain is that too much blood has already been spilled since 09/11/2001.

And..... yeah. /rant

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Near Orgasmic Social Connections" Wait... wtf?

Check out this drivel by David Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times (emphasis added):

Over the past several weeks, I’ve found I can change the conversation at any social gathering by mentioning Louann Brizendine’s book, “The Female Brain.” Brizendine is a neuropsychiatrist and the founder of the Women’s and Teen Girls’ Mood and Hormone Clinic in San Francisco. She’s written a breezy — maybe too breezy — summary of hundreds of studies on the neurological differences between men and women

All human beings, she writes, start out with a brain that looks female. But around the eighth week in the womb, testosterone surges through male brains, killing cells in some regions (communications) and growing cells in others (sex and aggression).


During adolescence, the female brain is washed in estrogen. Female teenagers, in general, experience an intense desire for social connection, which releases near-orgasmic rushes of oxytocin in the brain. They are, on average, more sensitive to stress (by age 15, girls are twice as likely to suffer from depression). The male brain, meanwhile, is producing 10 times more testosterone than the female brain, meaning the male sex drive is, on average, much greater.

I can see how that would change the conversation at any social gathering. "Tell me, ladies, are you nearly climaxing from this social connection?"

Update: Ah-ha! More drivel:
The problem is that both the feminist movement Clinton rides and the civil rights rhetoric Obama uses were constructed at a time when the enemy was the reactionary white male establishment. Today, they are not facing the white male establishment. They are facing each other.
The interesting split is not between the feminist and civil rights Old Bulls, it’s between the establishments of both movements, who emphasize top-down change, and the younger dissenters, who don’t.
I'll only give David Brooks some credit because this was written before the Tea Party (click that link for a great write-up by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone).

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Random Review: 'A Greater Darkness' by Red Harvest

Norwegian extreme/experimental metal quintet Red Harvest performed an impressive feat throughout their career; they managed to successfully differentiate themselves from the legions of second and third wave black metal bands (and black metal in general) to arise during the last twenty-five years while simultaneously crafting exceptional music that was bleak and heavy enough to proudly stand next to the best of their scandinavian extreme-metal brethren.

Even now that so-called 'blackened' music in general seems to have embraced synthesizers and techno-apocalyptic rhetoric Red Harvest doesn't sound like a trailblazer or has-been. Eschewing (though never disparaging) the occultism of their peers and drawing early inspiration from American bands such as Slayer and Ministry they created a unique style that only benefits from comparison to bands such as Aborym or Anaal Nathrakh.

Released in 2007 A Greater Darkness is very accurately described by its own title. If you are familiar with the rest of their discography then, thematically, there will not be anything surprising about this album since vocalist/lyricist Ofu Khan unfortunately didn't seem to have anything new to say in terms of raw ideas. Instead the band offers a radically new interpretation of their traditional fare. The synth is almost completely sublimated into the background on most tracks while the guitars and percussion trade in the precision attack of Sick Transit Gloria Mundi and Internal Punishment Programs for sloppier, crushing walls of noise. The result is music that sounds much more organic and atmospheric without loosing any of the energy or intensity.

Ofu Khan described A Greater Darkness as "This time it's less future-fear and bio-mec. This album is about knocking at the gates of Hell, and you are actually allowed in." With that in mind it is downright amusing to hear what he describes as 'less future-fear'; the album is already drowning in fatalism before the first refrain on the opening track Antidote:

Somebody's found the antidote
Somebody's found the antidote
to human suffering
Wipe us out of existence

After a brief section of ambiance the music opens like the crash of a sledgehammer and it is those words, literally the opening lyrics, that set the tone for the entire album. Gone is the 'new world rage' mentality of their older music and the fiercely defiant screams of "REJECT THEIR FUCKING WORDS!/REJECT EVERY FUCKING THING THEY SAY!" Also absent from the album is tortured regret expressed in many of Internal Punishment Programs's closing songs. In exchange you are presented a worldview that is shockingly pessimistic even by Red Harvest's own standards, so much so that even Ofu Khan's characteristic goofiness (if you have a good ear for metal you'll catch the line "Darth Vader rules the Vatican!" in Antidote) does little to lighten the mood.

No longer fighting the darkness Khan is free to explore his paranoid existentialism to a refreshingly nuanced degree. Seemingly drawing his energy from the conflict and paradox of trying to put a human voice to the ultimate forms of dehumanization Khan delivers a performance that is vividly harrowing in its detail and breathtaking in its scope. Particularly impressive is the second song; it's heartbreaking to hear just how old he sounds on the melancholic track Hole in Me.

It's where they try for direct aggression that Red Harvest runs into trouble on A Greater Darkness. The song Icons of Fear feels out of place with it's surprisingly catchy and straight-forward approach, almost as if its a throwback to their days as a Slayer tribute band. Dead Cities, however, is the only truly 'bad' song; it is competent-but-uninspired to the point that it should have been held as a b-side.

At the other end of the spectrum the final four tracks, I Sweat W.O.M.D., WarThemes, Distorted Eyes, and Propioception, showcase the best of what the band has to offer.

I Sweat W.O.M.D. is as bombastically abrasive and disorienting as it is introspective. A casual listening gives the impression that it is about something like the horror of nuclear warfare; in fact it's deeply personal song about irrational fears and paranoia.

Warthemes is a dark-electronica track. I honestly am not sure what it's about (cocaine?) but it is awesome.

The final two tracks together from a 13 minute epic. Distorted Eyes begins with a simple guitar riff and the words:

You're not the first
surely not the last
to think you have the answers
and are dead wrong

From there the song slowly expands to dizzyingly epic proportions. The final lyrics of the album,

Cherish the dark
in a ring of fire
reach for the unknown
as the pages turn
in a ring of fire
beautifully summarize its central themes: the horror of loosing touch with reality, fear of the inevitable, and the anguish of seeking solace in the dark and unknown.

Distorted Eyes dissolves into a dark synthetic mess that smoothly transitions to Propioception, a cold and minimalist piece of industrial ambiance.

Then it's over. Red Harvest disbanded in 2010, making A Greater Darkness their final studio album. Fortunately it's also one of their best, and one I highly recommend.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Osama can has respawn, trial?

Damn you Glenn Greenwald! Why do you have to ruin all of our fun?