20061124

History Will Absolve Us

Wait, history can absolve people? His. Story. The story of humanity. It is written by other people. Can other people yield absolution?

Religion is history.

Consider this a second. Religions, at least the Abrahamic religions, are pretty much an oral history of some stuff that happened to some folks in the desert.

The bible is a chronicle of how folks should be remembered.

Now, bearing in mind that there is no proof of god, and thus no god we can conclude something: the after life is actually history. Historical documentation is the afterlife. You live after death in the memories of the people whose life you were in. If you were a bastard scum bag, your after life sucks. In everyone's memory you're an awful person, and they hope that where your energy went (since energy can neither be destroyed nor created) that it is in some way suffering.

Let me bring this down to earth for a second. Ever had an immediate supervisor or a co-worker who didn't answer to you and acted like it? Nothing you would say to that person was relevant, and they might say they answered to a higher authority. That's how some people are viewing god. They assume that pleasing their one upper supervisor is all that matters. (interestingly, the teachings of Christ completely conflict this style of working, so anyone who isn't team player could theoretically be a bad Christian as well).

That analogy and the general style of this little essay makes clear a certain something. Man, humans, people don't like to be at the mercy of other people. If you were at the mercy of other people's memory of you, you wouldn't have anywhere near as much clearance to be an asshole. But if you only answer to god, if your guiding force is god's will, then you can be a bastard to everyone and god will forgive you.

Let's also consider that two thousand years ago, gods were as real to everyone as cars are to us. Everyone saw evidence of some god somewhere. Remember that initially gods were the explanations for natural phenomena. Then god merely became the reason people died. All people everywhere died because of him, because that is way easier to accept that random terrible things happening. Now, the will of man can wipe out large numbers of other people. Now the will of man has become stronger than natural disasters. Now we recognize that when people wage war it's never god's will; it's their will that's in play and that is what is making them scramble across your borders like ants with rifles.

Now; this is very converse to the idea that the body is a prison; but check it out: there is an energy, a spark, something that makes us go. When not inside the body, in fact when freed from the body is it possible that those energies are at the mercy of a great many things? Not the least of which is the feelings of other people. The body is not merely a temple; it is a bunker.

20060913

JonBenet Ramsey

So we know that there are bad people in the world.

In fact, we know that there are people find children sexually attractive. Worse, there are even worse people who choose to act on those feelings.

Fine.

Now, if molesting children is a compulsion, it's possible it can be controlled. However I reckon it's difficult to control in a country with child beauty pageants.

Let us address the creepiness of the child beauty pageant. When I was 9 or ten or so, getting up on stage and singing "The Good Ship Lollipop" while people at least five times my age glowered at me would have been terrifying. I say would have been because it was the furthest thing from both my mind and the mind of my parents. Being a boy I had even less cause to worry about such things. The girls my age at that time were equally not bothered by such things. Soccer practice, sure. Music practice, of course. John Wayne movies and Saturday morning cartoons, that was all for me.

Essentially, from age 1-13 I was busy being a kid. That was my job for the most part. It was very nearly full time with pauses to occasionally pay attention in school. I really believe that if I had to do anything like a child beauty pageant in addition to being crazy I would also be a miserably superficial asshole.

Now let's assume that at best, being a child beauty pageant contestant is not harmful in and of itself. It still gives a very young child a public persona, it makes them into a sort of celebrity, see? They become famous in circles that hold and enjoy child beauty pageants.

Now, we've all heard of normal people stalking adult celebrities. Imagine an adult stalking a child because of that child's particular celebrity. Unless one of the parents is Jack Ryan, John Clark or Jesse Ventura or something, then your average motivated stalker will probably find a way to get to that child. Kids are notorious for their capability to elude their parents. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally, but they do it. Now, put those two thoughts together. Innate ability to disappear from the person who's job it is to protect the child plus another person who wants to harm that child=sad, sad statistics.

In general, I find the idea of displaying children in such a fashion repugnant. It really appears to me that something more for the parents than anything else.

I was watching the news with my pop one afternoon. He muttered, in his world weary way, that if children in and of themselves aren't entertaining enough then you need psychological help. This is of course a reference to blood pressure rises I would cause as a very wee lad, and the shouting matches and fights we had when I was a teenager to the complete non-communication we had when I was a younger man. At this point things are good between us, and that's probably because we stopped treating each other as humanoid variables that were more a bother than anything else and starting acting like we were people.

I love my pop, mostly because he never insisted I get on stage until I was 18.

20060909

When was the last time you heard of a drive by stabbing?

Apparently in Scotland stabbings have become such a problem that they intend to ban knives.

Now, naturally this makes sense in that band-aid on a sucking chest wound kind of way. The problem is not the weapons or the ease with which people get them. It is with violence. It is the perception of violence as a solution.

Weapons, of course, can turn an altercation that is merely violent and injurious into something fatal. Even a small blade can make a slight a bar-room disagreement into a manslaughter charge, but then there are the martial arts; if enough people were killed using tae kwon do, would they feel justified in banning tae kwon do? Probably not, because those people who used tae kwon do to kill made the decision to kill in the first place.

And there you have it. They made that decision. You could ban everything and wrap people in cotton their entire lives, they'd still make poor decisions.

The real agony of government being so mind blowingly intrusive and spend millions of dollars on law enforcement, legal prosecution, prison and so on is that they could spend half of that on education and teach people not be so cruel to each other, and that generation would pass those lessons along to their children and in a generation or two the numbers of stabbings would plummet.

That's a great idea but there's a problem: politicians, in a perfect world, represent the people. If the people have had to deal with knife violence their entire lives, they will be so fed up that they will want an immediate solution. Immediate solutions for social problems, almost without fail, look great in newspapers and on TV and actually don't do anything except pacify people enough for them to think the problem is solved and they relax. When they relax, the problem comes back, sometimes worse, and they want their immediate solution again. The vicious cycle begins anew.

Long term solutions never feel as good as short term solutions, but they work better. Now perhaps the knife banning in Scotland, is a long term solution but it's a solution that bends society

20060709

Clubs and Clubbing: Selling A Community to a Community And What This is Compared to the Rest of the World

Music is an industry. Industry caters to people. People make up communities. Those communities have musical tastes, and thus dance clubs were born.

These days, it's become much more community specific. Initially, there was just disco; and mostly I'm sorry to say, that was a white people thing.

Pick up a flyer for any club night, and with out my even seeing it I can sum it up like this:

"People like you hang out here!" if it's your style -or- "People Not In Any Way like you hang out here!"

But it's not a community, it's not the same thing. It appears to me that there is a whole industry based solely on providing people with the illusion of community and so desperate are they for it that they will pay money to feel as though they are part of a group. It's a form of emotional prostitution, isn't it? Playing on people's fears of being alone and actually asking for money so they can hang out with other people.

In addition, it's a constructed environment. Club culture isn't real. Case in point; the bullshit flows. A buddy of mine, without me knowing due to the volume of the music, introduced me as a state senator as we were out one night. This is ridiculous on several levels and they saw through it. This happens all the time. Couple that with the free flowing of alcohol and you pretty much have a situation that almost totally precludes folks from telling the truth.

In addition to all this, clubs rely on a near compulsive spending of money by their patrons, unless they charge 50+ dollars a head and have 1,000 people show up. Now, the sort of person who spends money compulsively and wants to be a member of a crowd so badly they'll pay money to join it? That's two of the nine main characteristics for borderline personality disorder. Now, if clubs rely so heavily on two traits which are, quite frankly, negative to very negative how positive can the environment actually be?

In addition, there's also the bizarre, mean-spirited and stupid culture built around music. Often times, it won't be enough that you've heard a song and enjoyed it; found it pleasing to your ear. If you were cool, then you would have heard that song a year ago, and it would have given you an orgasm because it was so new and awesome and wow you'd never heard anything like that before.

The "I heard it first" thing is probably perpetuated by MTV. Remember when MTV was cool? Looking at MTV then, as a wiser man who's actually had sex and drank beer since the 80's, it wasn't all that great. These days it's barely tolerable and appears to exist only to shorten the attention span of Generation Y-Z to such an extent that they will buy anything. It's also possible MTV also brought the phrase "You heard it first" into the music culture lexicon, with their MTV news brief.

Now, the biggest problem with this cultural construct is first it alienates the younger and empowers the older when taken to it's extreme. I don't have a problem with that in general, however specifically empowering the old merely because they've had the luck to survive beyond the firmer, younger years is ridiculous. I didn't hear Led Zeppelin on the radio the first time they were played on the radio because, of course, I wasn't born yet, something over which I had absolutely no control. Being there shouldn't be a criteria for any sort of merit, certainly not in a country as safe as ours. Pardon me for saying this, but making it to 22 isn't all that much of an achievement with the borders of these United States. If you are 22, don't be insulted, however recognize that in Rwanda or perhaps the Sudan and other places that by age 16 you will probably have killed someone in a militia action or been raped and murdered.

Now, I'm not debating if wisdom comes with age. It does, and the older you are the wiser you are; but that is not contingent on the music you've heard. That's actually contingent on your life and how you lived it. A person can lead a very character building life without ever hearing one song on a radio.

So, at age 25 you've been in "the scene" for six years. If you were 25 in Rwanda you would be commander of a militia or military unit. I bring this up because now that we have clubs that appear to have some sort of longevity and last for more than a year, it appears as though you can become a veteran of a certain club or club night. Now there are people who lord the fact that they were there when such and such club opened over the younger people and may further complain how all these new people suck for no actual reason other than the fact they are new. Well, if people really liked the scene that much they would be offering much more guidance and constructive criticism, there would be a much greater attempt at encouraging the new blood who find their way there from radio and internet.

If scenes were real communities there would be involvement, direction and ideals. The older would teach the young and show them how not to fuck up their lives. That's what a community is, or at least should be. Club going people aren't coming together for the good of rearing the young and defending their streets, or towns or cities. They're just listening to fucking music and drinking. "Music scenes," there fore, are not communities.

"If Democracy cannot provide for the. . . people, people will say 'To Hell with Democracy, we need strong men."

There is a line; a line between good and evil. If a so called good person crosses it, they are then regarded as evil.

Interestingly, this doesn't work in reverse. A so called evil person cannot suddenly become good because they do one good thing.

However, the fact that the line is even there is more the problem than anything else.

I will now point to Park Chung Hee, or simply Gen. Park, as many South Koreans will call him.

Now, what's interesting, to me at least, is what he did in South Korea.

Before Park perpetrated a bloodless military coup on May 16, 1961, South Korea was in a shambles. Corruption was rampant, politicians were ineffectual and worse than all that the people were miserable and starving. Supposedly, starvation was so rampant that people are alleged to have participated in cannibalism.

Park, at that point was a Major General (Sojang in Korean) and was in a position to make improvements. But should he have? As a high ranking general officer, he had command of enough man power to enact change on a drastic level, and if he had a plan he could end the starvation, save his people and, given time, he could make his homeland an economic world power.

But by authoritarian rule?

Park established the Korean Central Intelligence Agency: part secret police, part American CIA, part American FBI. The KCIA had the power to arrest anyone harboring sentiment against the new regime.

Park had a plan, and after he was elected president

When elections were held, opposing candidates were harassed.

Even as these things were happening, the overall economic capacity of South Korea was improving. Park also created The Economic Planning Board (EPB), The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and The Ministry of Finance (MoF). These three groups were charged with making the Korean economy viable. In the short term, they needed to improve people's lives and the domestic flow of commerce. In the long term they were planning to make South Korea an economic world power.

In October 1972, Park suspended the constitution and dissolved the Parliament due to "the dangerous realities of the international situation." I have only a vague notion of what he meant by that; there was a lot of potential problems in 1972 for South Korea, but I truly feel it had nothing to do with outside factors.

I honestly believe that Park just wasn't done yet and that had he not been elected again, the next body in office would certainly have undone most of his plans before they came to fruition.

In the end he was killed by one the people he appointed and I wonder, was Park a good man who used evil to do good or was he and evil man with a plan that got interrupted?

If an evil plan leads to good things, even great things, is it still an evil plan?

If the Joker accidentally cured AIDS with one of his insane chemical concoctions, would the Batman still be justified in throwing him in jail or punishing him at all?

How much of the means colors the end?

Communication Breakdown

As diffusion of information has increased by leaps and bounds, people may have begun to take it for granted.

The trouble with this is it's possible people begin to believe their innermost thoughts and fears and ideals are readily known and apparent and that, in turn, gives people clearance to feel slighted when someone doesn't know something random about them, like red shoe laces offend them.

I will make this more clear using a classic example of young male interaction: The Yo' Momma joke.

The Yo' Momma joke is a classic excercise in quick wit, hyperbole and of course, insult. It's purpose is usally good natured ribbing and hoping to elicit laughter from friends.

Every so often, you would run across the guy who's mother had died. Usually, he would say "Yo, that's not cool yo, my momma dead." and it would illicit grim sighs and head shaking from the crowd and apology from the guy who "went there."

These days, things are different. People will get upset and stay upset and think "How could anyone say such a thing?!" but they won't communicate. They won't let anyone know how they feel.

People. Aren't. Psychic.

Naturally, the "blog-o-sphere" has had an impact on this perception.

Yet, no one should be expected to sift through gigabytes of blog entries trying to crack the code and figure out what is an alegory about them. If you're upset with someone, let that someone know as soon as you can. Why? Because writing a cryptic, college level essay on why someone pisses you off and publishing it so everyone else except the person you are cross with can read it doesn't help anything.

I will admit, I've been guilty of the above complaint. It's true. However, when I grew as a person, I began to realize how useless it really was and how badly it can hurt a group of people who would read my writing to throw out random angry text and hope it sticks to the right person. Often times, it will stick to several people who aren't even at fault, and there you have it: damage done to people who had no intention of damaging.

This sort of emotional splash damage might occur often enough in internet culture that it's entirely possible people who use the internet may be made less happy by their using it.

20060619

"An essential characteristic of the superhero mythology is, there's the superhero, and there's the alter ego. Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When he wakes up in the morning, he's Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic that Superman stands alone. Superman did not become Superman, Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he's Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red "S", that's the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears, the glasses, the business suit, that's the costume. That's the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent? He's weak, he's unsure of himself... he's a coward. Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race."

--Quentin Tarintino

20060530

The Tougher Majority

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." -
- George Orwell

"I believe that sex is one of the most beautiful, natural, wholesome things that money can buy."
-- Steve Martin

I don't think it's outrageous to say that not everyone is cut out to be a soldier. In much the same sense, not everyone is cut out to be a prostitute.

Killers and whores, regardless of gender, have many, many things in common in western/westernized culture.

A soldier in the United States is not free. There are contracts that are signed, papers are pushed and rights are relinquished. It's perhaps true that many members of many militaries come to accept that in their sacrifice of certain safeties and comforts comes a steady paycheck and more often a sense of purpose. I dare say many people these days lack anything that even looks good near a sense of purpose.

A prostitute is much the same. The contract is more a social one, but due to law, a prostitute gives up certain rights as a citizen. This is true in many western and some westernized countries, and a prostitute will sacrifice certain safeties and comforts for a steady paycheck, and it's possible in some, if not many cases that there is a feeling of purpose there as well. When some one wants you physically, sometimes that can purpose in and of itself.

despite those hard sacrifices, the two occupations have survived thousands of years.

Why would such demanding work survive, in these softer, easier times?

It's because the world is not soft. The world is not easy. The majority of the world is a hard, mean, place. Thousands of lives are lost to violence everyday and still thousands more to the random injustice of a day to day spent in the assured chaos of a world with entirely too many humans in need and want of more than they have.

This is where the soldier comes in. In a perfect world, a soldier can tip the balance back against the wicked and the unjust, assuming the side that risen their passion for justice has not mislead them. It's safe to say most soldiers are not rich men who decided one day to spend the better part of their lives out in the elements of weather and war.

Indeed, the rich are typically the ones who decide it's time for a war.

In much the same sense, many people go long periods of time without feeling something like affection, or love or caring. Or worse, people can find it fleeting; perhaps even worse is never knowing it at all. Need for more or fear of the unknown. A prostitute can assuage all of these feelings.

Rarely would a rich person even consider choosing such and option as selling themselves for money.

However the rich may still feel the need to pay someone.

People need to feel something. The hard cold parts of life need to be readily contrasted.

There is a minority that has all the advantages, holds all the cards and makes all the money. Many others in the world are lead to believe that the only way to survive is to kill everyone near to them, or at least rather they are not told that there are peaceful ways to go about things.

It could be argued that many forms of terrorism stem merely from people not being told wholesale slaughter of those they dislike is an undertaking that no man really has the stamina for.

Killing to make a point is not heathen behavior. It's human behavior.

In people, both the capacity for astonishing violence and supreme intellect are present. The bloody base behaviors exist alongside, even in conjunction with, the halcyon of the human heart.
This is how the soldier and the whore can still exist. Our minds and technology grow, yet as we do this our lust and rage continues to exist. This leaves a cause for people to do the nasty ugly things while the minority in power can enjoy their higher brains. Their lower brains are served with violence and secretion, and their higher brains are free to achieve.

20060526

Prairie Home Companion

We come from people who brought us up to believe that life is a struggle and if you should ever feel really happy, be patient: this will pass.

-Garrison Keillor