Tokyo Damage Report

i call bullshit on social media

Imagine, ten years ago, if one of your friends had come up to you and said, “Hey Luis, I think you’re a rad fella, we’ve had a lot of good times, shared a lot of secrets, helped each other out of a lot of jams. . . .but from now on I will only be your friend if our friendship is mediated by a huge soul-less company that exists only to sell our private information to third parties. Well? Click yes to agree!”
You would have said, go fuck yourself. But nowadays that is the NORM for young people wtf.
Even though it’s the norm, obviously no one ever says this out loud – but they don’t need to! That is just how shit works nowadays. But next time you make friends with someone in RL, try explaining that to them in those exact words and see if you don’t fee just a little bit like an asshole.  Turning regular people into corporate shills is just one of the crappy things about social media.

There’s been a lot of noise in the past couple of years about The Man cracking down on the internet: domestic web spying, net neutrality, banning of file-sharing, weird SOPA/PIPA/TPP treaties, etc. But I don’t think enough people are complaining about social media, which is an even bigger threat because it involves users becoming their own jailers, in a sense.
I hated the ‘90s internet (rave pants, second life, the word “cyber” as a prefix), but at least there was a certain exuberance – the whole idea of “Let’s take the internet as far away from regular life as possible. LOOK I’M A FUCKING CYBER DRAGON WITH TITS! This is a new frontier and let’s just take this freedom thing as far as it will go. THE DRAGON HAS WELDING GOGGLES ON WTF!!?!"
But nowadays people want the internet to be as much like real life as possible – they want to log on with their own real name and connect with their real friends. What the fuck you need an internet for then? It’s like the modern net and social media in particular combines the worst features of both: all the non-privacy of the internet, combined with the  lack of creativity of RL.
Just because there's less imagination, that doesn't mean that people are more truthful, though. On social media you can’t be anonymous, or a cyber dragon, you have to be yourself, BUT you can still lie your ass off: everything you write , every photo you take, has to be tweaked and massaged to make you look a bit cooler than you are.
Social media is like writing an internet dating profile that NEVER ENDS.
In the old net days, they had this saying, “On the internet nobody knows you’re a dog.” Meaning: if people only read your words, they will judge your opinions based on how smart or persuasive you are, not judge you based on race sex or religion. Say goodbye to that!
There’s this idea that we’re losing our privacy to corporate marketing people who track all our net behavior, or that we’re losing our privacy to govt. spies. But the real balderdash is: people are voluntarily giving up privacy. They can’t WAIT to give up privacy.  People on “Google plus” actually LIKE the rule that you have to use your real name. . . .because they think this will cut down on “trolls.”  
They want to give out their real name, because they want to reconnect with old high-school chums or long-lost lovers or some dingbat from summer camp, or whatever. They want 1,000 “friends” and would prefer that those “friends” actually be people that they have had some real-world connection with.  
Because hey! If they know you, you can guilt them into “liking” you. You don’t have to actually do anything interesting or write a rad novel or produce something unique. You just have to say “I’m that dorkwad you know from 10 years ago!” Whereas if you were anonymous, and you wanted friends, you’d have to actually be interesting. Or have cleavage. Whichever.
But what are you giving up, in exchange for “likes” and “friends” and “votes up?” well, basically you can’t write anything about your boss because she’ll see it and fire you. You can’t write anything about your parents for the same reason. You can’t write anything interesting at all. 
I was going to say this took us back to the “bad old days” before the net gave us anonymity . . .but even back in the ‘80s, you never had your parents, teachers, bosses, ALL IN THE SAME ROOM WITH YOU, FOREVER. 
One site I think is rad is ZERO HEDGE. It’s this person who works on wall street who constantly exposes secrets the industry doesn’t want you to know, or shows how the famous CEOs are wrong about things. That would never happen on social media, where dude would have to use his real name.
So, ok. No more muck-raking, no talking bad or exposing authority. No more creativity. You have to be yourself, but a really fake version of yourself. All of the fakery with none of the creativity/privacy. 
One of the shitty things about school and work is: everything you do is quantified and ranked. Every second is scheduled. I did this many homework math problems. I made this many assembly line radios, with a retail value of XXX dollars. I got two Bs and 4 Cs. I read x books and got Y GPA.  I was #3 employee of the month. 
In other words, what made your free time special was: it was time when you were not being quantified and ranked. 
But now with social media, they are taking the business/work/school model and pushing it into the last non-regulated parts of your fucking life. 
Compounding the problem, if you look back, most of the best times of your life are precisely those times that can’t be quantified, ranked, or reduced to a number. The best times of your life involve intangibles or spiritual feelings. 
Since these by definition can’t be reduced to easy-to-compare-and-digest statistics such as “likes” or “# of friends”, they have no place in social media.
The people who run these social media companies want us to use them every second of the day. That’s why they give us so many carrots and little hamster-pellet rewards for participating in their services: likes, upvotes, friends, whatever whatever. The result is that we will start living our private life in ways that are rewarded by SM, and neglect those activities that DON’T give us the little mechanical reward: 
Imagine a facebook timeline like this:


You’ll never see that because
a) those wonderful experiences can’t be reduced to numbers,
b) advertisers can’t make money by selling you epiphanies, and
c) you can’t link to those things. Even if you click on the blue words, there is no website that will give you that thing. “Oh! Growing and becoming a better person? Sign me up! Click here!”
Will the next younger generation lose the capacity to even care about experiences which cannot be quantified and ranked? To paraphrase a nice Bill Hicks bit: “Why would I want to take mushrooms in the desert and look directly into the face of god, and be told that all humans are one , and we are all worthy of love? That won’t show up on Facebook at all!”


I used to think that the whole “dems and repubs are Tweedledum vs. Tweedledee” idea was something made up by college students to justify not voting. I mean, they weren’t going to vote anyway but now they could feel really righteous about it because “The two parties are just all the same, man.” 
Normally as you get older you get more conservative (for instance, I have drastically cut down on the amount of times a day I say “patriarchy”, and no longer think that “destroy the whole government and start over” is a garunteed winner) . . .but when it comes to this “major parties are the same” idea. . . with each passing election the Dems swing farther to the right, with each election that idea becomes more and more true to me.  
Sure, when I was young it seemed both parties were the same. But then I got older and wiser and said, “Well, there is one important difference: only Dems support the right to abort a baby, so I should vote for them, if only for that reason.” But now that I’m even older and probably senile, I’m more like, “You know what, fuck ‘em. For years they’ve been getting my vote – even though I disagree with 90% of the candidate’s policies – just because they say ‘ooooh the republicans are even woooooorse BOO SCARY REPUBLICANS!’”
And after 6 elections of this, watching dems go more to the right every time (while still supporting abortion), it’s beginning to dawn on me that THEY CAN KEEP PLAYING THIS GAME UNTIL THE VERY END. Even after Goldman Sachs has used all our money to build a giant platinum Cartier spaceship to escape the burning wreckage of the earth, even after all Americans have been reduced to living in old cardboard breakdancing mats, and our only food is the worms we pick out of our companions’ open sores, the democrats will still come around every 4 years saying, MY OPPONENT WANTS TO CUT OFF BOTH YOUR LEGS, BUT I ON THE OTHER HAND. . . .
I’m not saying there’s some illuminati conspiracy here where a bunch of guys met in a room and said, “Hey what if we had one party that was always just an ass hair away from the worst party ever?”   There’s no conspiracy – just dems and repubs both chasing the same campaign contributions that only the rich can provide. . .. and the rich are all super free-market-ass, deregulate everything-ass, ship all the jobs to china-ass, let the poor pay all the taxes-ass motherfuckers.
But seriously though: here’s just a partial list of the issues that obama and Romney agree on:
1)      continued war in afganistan
2)      environmental problems or regulation
3)      campaign finance reform
4)      prosecution for wall street clowns involved in 2008 meltdown
5)      guantanamo bay prison
6)      drone executions of American citizens
7)      spying on basically everyone’s phone and emails
8)      tax havens and offshore accounts
9)      corporate welfare and crazy subsidies
10) the war on drugs
11)  socialized medicine / affordable healthcare
12) Breaking up too-big-to-fail banks
13) Gun control
14) Cutting social security and medicare
But who cares, right?  Because Romney is a polygamist dog-roofer, and Obama is a Kenyan socialist!
Which brings us to the media. No self-repecting political rant would be complete without a media sub-rant!
Instead of thinking “It’s our job to grill politicians of both parties on issues that OUR AUDIENCE, AVERAGE AMERICANS thinks are important (i.e. the list above),” the media thinks, “It’s our job to make this THE MOST EXCITING PRESIDENTIAL HORSE-RACE EVER by magnifying the tiny differences between candidates into huge differences, turning tiny gaffes into Watergate-level scandals, and whipping the American people into such an angry apocalyptic froth that mass shootings break out nationwide all summer.”

Because of the "presidential horse race" mentality, the press avoids all the issues which the candidates agree on. To our media, asking a question about campaign finance reform or electronic wiretapping would be like putting a basketball hoop up at a football game – totally useless, because neither candidate would be able to score points with it. 

Maybe you’ll say, “But sir! Why not vote for a third-party candidate? Why not vote for someone you actually believe in?” HA!   Remember when Gore lost the election and people blamed it all on Nader? “You Nader voters cost Gore the election!” and the Nader voters said, “No, it was GORE that cost Gore the election – if he was more liberal I would have gladly voted for him.” 
I used to think that was like, “duh. Nader voters 1, Gore, 0.  Fuck Gore and the PMRC!”
But then it turns out that Nader’s green party got a lot of money from the repbublicans, specifically to divide the Dem vote. Doh! 
(And, more recently, we have Dems giving 1.5 million to help Todd Akin win the nomination for Republican candidate, because they suspected he might be a total idiot. Well, that’s not really helping me illustrate my point about the futility of third-party candidates, but it’s still a pretty funny story. Best prank of 2012 if you axe me.)
My point is, third-party candidates generally are just pawns of the better-funded 2 main parties, who use the third-party to split the vote of the other major party. 
Voting 3d-party is either for dupes or idealists that actually want to make America a better place. I am neither. A Romney presidency would obviously be disasterous for America and that is what I am going for. See, Dems will only return to the left side if they’re more scared of voters than they are of losing the big-money corporate contributions. And the more Romney fucks up the country, the more  of a left-wing backlash it will generate: the country gets so fucked up that even conservatives lose their jobs and become raging communists.  
Go Romney! Let’s make this happen!

levelling up, levelling down

I remember being in college and spending a lot of time doing/listening to debates about various -isms and inequality. (hint: we were against it).  What is weird is, the teachers didn't give us the  conceptual tools to discuss it productively. 


For instance: any time there's a case of social inequality (the haves always do The Thing, and the have-nots don't get to do The Thing), there's actually TWO ways to remedy the situation. One: make the haves STOP doing the thing, and two: allow the have-nots TO start all doing the thing.


Both approaches result in equality, but through two totally opposite paths.  And yet – as far as I can tell – for hundreds of years that people have been debating inequality,  NO ONE HAS NOTICED THIS. You get idealistic people who  will use every last bit of logic and passion and carefully-thought-out ideals (Jeffersonian republicanism! Pluralism!  Transparency!) and spend a fucking hour advocating that we should make the haves STOP doing The Thing. . . . all based on a snap judgement that took a tenth of a second. Why should we make the haves STOP doing the thing? Why not allow everyone to ALL do the thing?  You didn't even consider that for a whole second. . . .did you? Because, against all logic, BOTH FUCKING TOTALLY OPPOSITE approaches to justice are taught to you as THE EXACT SAME THING.

We're taught NOT to ask ourselves, "Which TYPE of equality should I advocate to remedy  such-and-such an injustice?"


So, OK! Let me help the problem. 


Let's call the "make the haves STOP doing the thing" approach LEVELING UP, and call the "let the have-nots ALL be able to do the thing" approach LEVELING DOWN.


Some instances are easy as shit: the overwhelming majority of domestic violence is done by men. You don't have to think too long to realize this is a LEVELING DOWN scenario: Men should STOP doing the thing.


Other instances are fairly easy:  most senators are white, so most people would say that people of color should LEVEL UP. Unless you're an anarchist and think that NOBODY should have state authority, in which case you'd be all for LEVELING DOWN.


Then, a favorite of mine:  farts. Men fart and burp, women don't.  Are crude noises a form of oppressive male domination? Or are they a fundamental right which women have historically been forbidden to do by restrictive gender roles? In other words , should we get equality by LEVELING UP OR BY LEVELING DOWN?!?

Without these two concepts, you can't even begin to have that discussion!


Or song lyrics: a lot of rappers talk about killing young black men.  Would the world be a better place if  britney and lady gaga mostly sang about murdering white women? After all, that is more equal. And much much better.


Or this other thing, which I'm also surprised that no one has remarked upon:  the american police / national security state's radical EQUALIZATION and ELIMINATION  of racism.  This is the single most equality-making development in government since King marched at Selma, and yet nobody even says thank you?!??  Consider this:  government now treats  upper-middle-class white people like Black Panthers: reading their mail, tapping their phone, strip-searches at airports without cause,  "civil forfiture" of possessions without even an arrest, and "indefinite detention" without trial.  Still waiting for a rapper to make fun of Occupy kids:  "How's it feel, whitey? Oh, NOWWWW it's unfair, right, since it's happening to you! Welcome to the club, white kid."  


Anyway,  does  treating whites as crappy as black people count as leveling up or leveling down? 






It's great that Boing-boing could take time away from their busy Pedo-bear-shirt-selling schedule to rail against misogyny.


I'm looking forward to hearing the Boingers explain  in  their upcoming TED talk, which I believe is titled:  "rape is never funny . . .  unless it's children . . . . and I make ad revenue."



re: when the bad guys ride bikes

The comments on this article are just PRECIOUS:


Dear Madam! I was deeply offended that you would point out sometimes bicyclists hit pedestrians.  How dare you attempt to hold us accountable for anything when cars kill SO MANY MORE PEOPLE??? Don't you realize we can't even have this discussion until after every motor vehicle has been wiped off the face of the earth?  Until then,  I will deny that cyclists ever do anything bad and exhibit no sympathy for people we hit. 


Also, I was deeply hurt by your portrayal of cyclists as self-righteous and lacking in self-awareness.




What we need more of is censorship!

Recently there’s been a lot of talk about censorship – whether it’s SOPA/PIPA, Wikileaks, or Obama’s punishing government whistleblowers rather than those they blew the whistle on . ..
Waah, waah, waah! Of course, society is fucked up. BECAUSE WE DON’T HAVE ENOUGH CENSORSHIP. Act like you know!
Want examples? Here is 10 things I’d squelch, expurgiate, and black the fuck out:
1)     The unlimited cash that corporations can now give to political action committees, which the Supreme Court decided was “corporate speech,” since corporations are “people” with “first amendment rights.” Citizens United eat a dick . Agree with me? Then you’re for censorship. Awesome! I say, if a corporation wants “free speech,” like a person, let it grab a plackard and march down the sidewalk. Not an employee of the corporation, not a subcontractor, not the CEO or the lobbyist. . . the actual CONCEPT OF THAT CORPORATION. Let the fucking piece of paper upon which the corporate charter was written grow arms and fucking legs and opposable thumbs and march. Until then, shut the fuck up, corporations.
2)     Advertising ! Imagine if YOU could reduce your taxes, write all your income off as a “business expense” . . .and the only down-side was, you had take out ads everywhere declaring that you are awesome.  WHAT?!? See, you thought I’d come at it like “ads are full of lieessss!” but I went sideways on it. Weren’t expecting that. But who cares, the point is, if you tried that, you’d go to IRS jail and have to share a bunk with Lyndon LaRouche. But business can and DO do that all the time. Bullshit! To boot: if both coke and pepsi spend a billion each, they’re exactly back where they started. They don’t even get any benefit from it! The only effect is a) the government loses millions in taxes, and b) small beverage companies get screwed because they can’t keep up in the ad arms race. The whole tax break is very anti-free-market. BAM! I came at it from the right. Weren’t expecting that either, were you? Who cares – you’re sick of ads just like me! Well if you are sick of ads, you’re for censorship. From now on, my secret police will replace any billboard, internet .jpg ad, or bus-stop ad with a big picture of Muhammed the Prophet, until crazed muslims burn down enough ads to make it unprofitable. Radio ads will have the name of the product replaced with a sample of the Meatmen saying BLOW ME JAH. Yeah I know Rastas aren’t that violent, but they are irritating as fuck.

3)     Packaging. Why the fuck does toilet paper need glossy 4-color packaging? It fucks up the environment, and again, there is no benefit to the sellers. If both the leading brands stopped deluxe packaging they’d still be on equal ground and sales wouldn’t drop a cent.  If you’re for environmental regulation of packaging, then you’re for censorship. Welcome aboard, hippie! Sorry I said that shit about Jah.
4)     Celebrities. It’s easy to say “well they are terrible people so who cares if magazines constantly snoop on them?” but the magazines build them up to be bigger than life, then exploit peoples’ resentment of them to tear the celebs back down. This must seem pretty fucking contradictory to the celebs, and the fans as well. The only people for whom this is NOT a contradiction is the media, who get paid both ways. How about you don’t build ‘em up OR tear ‘em down? My solution: anyone who tries to click on an article about a Kardashian will be re-directed to a page about a woman scientist who studies history, insects, bio-chem, or trans-dimensional mathematics. Anyone who tries to click on an article about a “super-couple” breaking up will be re-directed to an incredibly technical and whingey one-hour TED talk video by 2 nerds, detailing how Western, democratic computer companies make and sell spy software to repressive dictatorships to help them jail and torture their own citizens. Anyone trying to shut off this expose will have their memory wiped. My secret police will , of course, be using that exact fascist software to implement these fatwas. Zing.
5)     Religion! You should be able to do it, of course. But tax-exempt? Let me get this straight; you get a bunch of free tithe money, and instead of paying the government which gave you freedom of religion and a safe place to spew your beliefs, you use it to make a bunch of brochures and TV stations to convert more fools to give you more free money?  Fuck that! If you want to convert people, it should be by your DEEDS, not WORDS. You can attempt to win converts by feeding the homeless, aiding the foreclosed or laid-off, or helping drug addicts OF ANY DEMONINATION WITH NO RELIGIOUS LIMITS. I’m talking about passing out birth control pills and feeding pork to everyone. If you can make passers-by say , “Wow! Who is this religious group who so selflessly helps the less fortunate, and this seems to make the true believers happy by doing it? I want a piece of that!” ONLY THEN should you be able to get converts. Any attempts to prostelyze beyond that: verboten, son! All “700 club” broadcasts replaced with a nonstop loop of Cronos informing the crowd that “You’re wild, man, wiiiiild!”

6)     twitter. Gone.
7)     seriously fuck twitter.  That’s some duck-speak shit right there.  Click the link, babypants! Does that Orwell quote not TO A FUCKING TEE describe twitter? That is some visionary shit.  Actually this one is a trick question; I’m not for censoring it, it’s ALREADY CENSORSHIP.  – the whole platform is designed to eliminate anything with real thought or content.  So if you’re FOR it, then you’re for censorship. *But Schultz, no one is forcing you to use it, it’s not censorship wahhh* Quackitty quack quack, son. Sit the fuck down – I’m not hating on it. In fact  I got good news for you ducks. Because it’s censorship, therefore my regieme would have to be FOR it. See how this works? But That shit is too long. Who has the time to read tweets from their 12,000 imaginary friends if those tweets are OVER 100 CHARACTERS?  Me and the Secret Police would set a limit of 3 characters , applied retroactively to every tweet. You’re welcome, information-overloaded-generation kids.
Also those 3 characters would all be KKK.
8) and definitely we need to  fuck asssssssssssssss bleaughhhhhhhh

the readers speak, part 2

Last year, I posted  something about all the rad fan-mail I get which accidentally gets caught by my spam-filter.  It turns out,  my stupid spam-filter is still broken: here are a dozen MORE totally amazing fan-mails I got, which I almost threw out on accident. Luckily I saved them and, what's more, this time I am actually going to REPLY to them!

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2 comments Tags: , ,

yet another lacuna in the discourse: unions

I don’t know about your country, but in America, it’s impossible to have a rational discussion about unions. Conservatives hate them all, and lefties fall into one of two types: a) academics who like unions in theory because they “stick it to corporations” (but have no real-world experience dealing with unions’ bullshit), and b) union members who have no incentive to snitch on union corruption.

America is so dummin’! On the left, you can find reports decrying mis-treatment of  military or corporate whistle-blowers. And, while there’s not a lot of exposure of corporate or government wrongdoing, you can find it if you look.  Unions don’t have a tenth of the money or political clout of giant military-industrial corps, AND YET you CAN’T find whistle-blowing on THEM. Fucking weird, man.

You can’t find anyone who says, “OK, this industry’s union is pretty good, but that union over there is a bunch of   – as Zappa said – flakesssssssssssssss.”

Union corruption isn’t just mob involvement. There’s other kinds:

You work in an office and need to fix a jam in a printer (or plug in a new computer). But you’re not allowed to do it yourself, you have to call the official union Maintainance Guy. Not only that but you have to fill out a request form in triplicate, and then wait 3 hours for the Maintanance Guy to show up and plug in your PC or fix your paper jam and charge you $20 for it. If you do it yourself for free in 3 seconds, the whole union goes on strike. Things like that are bad for efficiency.

Like the guy that gets paid $100,000 to sit in the boiler room and make sure the boiler don’t explode. Like probably he checks it 2 times a day and spends the rest of the time doing ebay to make even more money.

Or, some unions are cool to new members, but other unions are assholes about seniority: giving all the perks to old timers even if the old-timers are total burn-outs or fart-knockers, and screwing new guys/gals who bring a lot more energy and new ideas to the job. Again, the degree of welcome extended to newcomers is vastly different from union to union, but you’d never know it by listening to the “unions are all good”/ “Unions are all bad” pundits.


The degree to which union bosses represent their rank-and-file or just represent themselves. AKA are the union officials respected by the workers? AKA The degree to which bosses are willing to fight the employers.  Hmm, maybe that should be two different categories?  I mean you could go by a popularity contest: have the union members vote on how much they liked union bosses, but probably the most corrupt unions would wind up with the most popular rankings!


 some unions go out of their way to fuck with non-unionized labor all “We don’t WANT  more workers in our unions because they’ll depress wages. Get the fuck out of here!”, and other unions try to RECRUIT the non-unionized labor and HELP them.



  A fucking  graph! A line, a continuum of all the major unions by industry, from most corrupt to most sincerely trying to help the rank-and-file.

This would mean taking all the metrics I detailed above (mob involvement,  standing up to management,  wasting efficiency, wasting money, seniority issues, and non-union labor outreach) and making some kind of math equation that would add them all up and generate a single number that would place them somewhere on the line.

Since all these things are deliberately secret and off-the-books,  any attempt at a ranking them would, of course, involve some guessing, un-named sources, and arbitrary opinions about how to weight the various variables of the equation. But so what?  respectable newspapers and NGOs use these kind of “best guess” rankings all the time!  From things like  GNP to national corruption index, state transparency index, quality of life rankings, etc. . .  there’s nothing new about “best guess” rankings. The only new thing would be to get one for unions.

Unfortunately,  since this doesn’t suit the interests of the American right OR the American left, it will never happen.

In other countries, is there something like this?



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Modern times brought us a lot of good shit , including: jazz, rock, rap, movies with rad special effects, Minesweeperseparation of church and state, Nina Hagen , the Simpsons, medicine besides leeches, feminism and civil rights, heavy metal, and comic books.
But there are a lot of bad things about it: pollution, atomic bombs, materialism that tells you “you are what you buy,” the idea that everything goes back to normal after a 30 minute episode, shallowness, the homogenization of local cultures, a mentality that everything is a plastic throw-away, the idea that training hard and spending years to achieve a goal is dumb (you should just buy the goal now and charge it to your card! Anything you can’t buy with a click is worthless!!!!), that Ronald MacDonald is more well-known than Jesus or Mohammed, the commodification of every single thing (turning everything into a product, the market is the only valid way of measuring worth), the fact that no one knows who the people in their community are, but we know details of celebrities’ sex lives or that Emma Stone has a wrinkle, the fact that we pay millions to guys that throw a ball or sing a shitty tune, but pay no attention and give no support to hometown heroes who help the homeless or volunteer at the old folks’ home. Oh, and 12 year old girls dressing like hookers and 10 year old boys spending all day killing things on the tv.
And underlying all these: that people under 90 years old can't even conceive of things being any other way. The older, more community-oriented or spiritual, non-market forms of thinking have been erased more effectively than the word for "freedom" was from the newspeak society of 1984. People don't even know what they are missing, they just feel fragmented inside and try to fill the void with plastic crap and internet porn.
That  laundry list of complaints is nothing new. Here is what is new:
The above critique of Modern Culture is actually shared by hippies and radical left people, AND radical right people ALL OVER THE WORLD (even racists and crazy Japanese nationalists = “Our young people are losing the traditional ways and all they are getting in return is Macdonalds and heart disease!”), and  what’s more, this critique is also shared by muslims (who are hated by both the left AND right) . . . .
 .. . and yet. . .
 There is NO ONE who is even trying to unify these groups to make a  counter-attack on Modern Times. There is NO ONE who is even interested in brinigng together the left, right, and muslims on this issue that they all totally agree on.
WTF man.


It’s impossible to have a good discussion of globalization for two dumb avoidable reasons and one very good reason.
The two dumb reasons misconceptions which are shared by both the left and the right, which guarantees that no one has an incentive to challenge them.
Misconception one: globalization is one thing. The fact is, the word “globalization” is so broad it encompasses like 100 different phenomena, some good and some bad. It’s not a take-it-or-leave-it proposition! We should be able to break it into easy-to-digest pieces and then debate them individually on their merits. I like this bit but not that bit. (the same problem applies to political parties in general: if you’re anti-abortion you have to be anti-envrionmental-regulation and pro-handgun. Huh?!?!?)
And yet, I have yet to see ONE fucking spreadsheet that analyzes globalization this way: tallies all the good shit on one side and all the bad shit on the other side.
Misconception two: globalization is something you can be for or against. It’s fucking not. Asshats like Thomas Friedman aren’t in favor of globalization. They’re in favor of one particular dickhole WAY of doing it. Which they present as the only way, saying things like, “Globalization is a trend that has been steadily building for 1,000 years so you can’t fight it, it’s a force of nature.” Bullshit, Einstein. Increasing trade and exchange of information between distant lands has been steadily increasing, yes. But! Things like the IMF, World Bank, neo-liberal economics, and  the network of Shadow Banks have only been in place for 50 years. So fuck you!!!
And protestors who say they are against globalization, aren’t in fact against it. They are against the particular way in which it’s being done these days. In fact a lot of third world countries (the ones that the western protestors are trying to “save”) really WANT globalization, but they just want the contracts and treaties to be written more fairly.   The fact is there are hundreds of different possible ways to do it, but the way the issue is framed prevents people from even beginning to think about that.
Moving on to the good but unavoidable reason it’s impossible to have a productive discussion about globalization:
As you start breaking it down into 100 bite-sized aspects, you at some point will find that you are now talking about the even more nebulous phenomenon of Modern Times In General.  Which is a concept so vague, so all-encompassing, it’s like asking “what is the meaning of life?” or “what is art?” . . . .in other words a real useless time-waster! There’s no real border between Globalization and modernity. Or whenever I start talking about it, I wind up complaining about neo-liberal economics instead.  It’s not even a venn diagram . . . it’s more like a fucking casserole where everything got melted together.
 It’s like trying to look directly at air!
If I had to break globalization into bits and then arrange them on a scorecard, it would look like this:
Super-national treaty organizations that allow unelected bureaucrats (appointed by big business) to overturn the member nations’ own labor or environmental laws without the public voting for it or, in most cases, even knowing that their own sovigreinity has been usurped. “Yeah, that Chinese beef you bought was genetically mutated, irradiated, hormone-fed, full of feces, and slaughtered by slave labor, but we’re not allowed to put a sticker on it explaining any of that, since that would be A VIOLATION OF THE TREATY and an INFRINGEMENT OF FAIR TRADE.” Informed consumer choices are so anti-free-market!
A “race to the bottom” where every country has to lower wages, lower corporate taxes, lower environmental and work safety rules in order to keep jobs.
Now people can move a billion dollars from Switzerland to the cayman islands and then to dubai with the click of a button in one second. This makes it easier for local warlords, dictators, terrorists, mafias, and large “respectable” corporations to avoid regulations and launder money. It also makes it easier for financial wall street types to destroy the economies of countries who don’t play ball: just a click of a button and all the capital goes somewhere else.
By assembling their goods in 5  foreign countries (as opposed to their home country), multinationals can cheat tax by using a technique called transfer mispricing. This hurts the third world especially, since that is where most of the raw material and labor is. Basically the corp. tells Bangladesh or Belize or whoever, “Yeah, you supplied the raw material and the non-union factory to assemble it. . . but wouldn’t you know it. . . that factory actually lost money! Because we sold the cars for 3 pesos apiece (to our OTHER subsidiary in the Bahamas. (Who then sold the cars in America for  $40,000 each)). So we don’t owe you any tax. Plus actually our corporate headquarters is in the Cayman Islands, so we only pay tax to the Caymans. The Cayman government charges us $5 a year. And that is totally legal! So, smell you later, Jose!”
Instead of torturing dissidents at home, America can set up torture rendition camps all over the globe! Where suspected “enemy combatants” can be tortured by 24 hours a day loops of It’s A Small World After All.
easy for me to visit America, cheap underwerar at walmart, big Macs taste the same in Uruguay!
The thing is, I know this list is only about 10% complete, because I’m not an economist, I’m a jerkoff  metalhead with some free time. So why don’t actual economists make a real list? Why is it up to me?!??
So I’m asking you people reading this: have you seen any lists of the good and bad aspects of globalization?
And, can anyone do a venn diagram that untangles globalism, modern times, and neoliberal economics?
1 comment

american school reform: a real heartbreaker

This is not a “how to reform schools” rant. That is another web page of mine. This is more like WHY IS IT SO EFFING HARD TO EVEN TALK ABOUT REFORM IN THIS FUCKING COUNTRY.
All discussions of reform seem to get hung up on 2 issues, both defined by the American right: unions and religion in schools.
These polarizing issues are enough to stall any meaningful discussion, so the other 98 aspects of this very difficult problem never get talked about!
My parents are teachers. And not just any teachers: my Dad taught at a institutional foster-home for kids who had basically been thrown out by their parents. I really respect him for that, since it would have been much easier for him to teach public school kids without so many issues.
And yet at the same time some of the people I most want to get revenge on are also teachers. Still. Right-wingers complain that teachers get paid too much, and yet support wars and private insurance companies. But just because right-wingers are insane doesn’t mean they are wrong. Wait, yes it does. Because the problem isn’t that certain teachers need a pay-cut, the problem is certain teachers need to be fired. Because they are assholes.
(ALSO:  why all the repubs concentrating on TEACHERS’ salaries? We should concentrate on firing all the extra administrators. Who knows what the fuck those people even do all day! That’s the way to save money: either fire the pencil-pushers or reform the education bureaucracy so that there is not a NEED for 1,000 forms to be filled out in the first place)
But unions can’t say “OK we’ll allow you to sack the burn-outs, the bullies, and the incompetents, in exchange for more wages for good teachers.” They can’t say this because there is no way to measure who is a good teacher.
That’s the central problem. And this sets teachers totally apart from other government bureaucrats, who are supposed to be interchangeable parts. As long as the dude from DMV knows the manual and all the rules, he is a good employee. But teaching is not like that! There is no manual for motivating students to have self-worth and aspire to go far in life!

How to separate good teachers from bad?
You can’t use standardized tests because, as the last 10 years of No Child Left Behind has shown, a) teachers will just help the kids cheat, b) they will force problem kids to drop out or put them in jail , because they drag down the average class test score, c) the teachers just “teach to the test” instead of teaching the non-quantafiable life lessons which , let’s face it, are what all of us remember about our favorite teachers.
How about popularity with students? All really good teachers are popular, but some of the most burn-out teachers are also popular, because they let you fuck around in class and give everyone a B.
Should we let the administrators and principals decide? Hell no! since the life-changing teachers almost universally stir up shit and are hated by the school administrators, who will use any bureaucratic tool to get rid of them?
How about we let the parents decide. Are you nuts? The bible-thumpers would flip out and within a week there would be no science or literature teachers left in the country.
At the unspoken center of the debate: what makes a teacher really life-changing and inspiring for students is NOT RANKABLE OR QUANTAFIABLE.


 The race to space! (aka the race to have LRBMs). Back in the ‘50s, when Russia launched sputnik (demonstrating it had the technology to lob a fucking nuke missile at us from across the ocean), science and smarts became an immediate matter of national survival. It’s difficult to imagine, but  it used to be the most right-wing, General Jack D. Ripper type Crusty anti-commies that were pushing the HARDEST for more education.  Smart kids were seen as vital for national defense. WWII vets got the GI bill to repay them for being good warriors. If a modern right-winger went back in time to the ‘50s and started talking about reducing teacher salaries and sending all the kids off to private religious schools to learn about Jesus, they would be laughed out of the fucking Republican party, if not called a Commie agent!


Liberals like to point out that “we spend more on each prisoner than each student.” But the fact is: USA still spends more on education per-pupil than most industrialized countries. The problem is, we aren’t getting good results for the dough. So why the fuck is that????
Throwing more money at a problem without finding out who is wasting the existing money is just gonna guarantee that the culprits will simply have more money to steal!
you can’t teach poor kids who are mostly worried about having to quit school to get money, or if their parents are sick and the insurance isn’t covering it, and they have to take care of their parents. Or if they ‘re mostly worried about doing all the household grown-up stuff their parents don’t have time to do because the parents are working 2 jobs each. You can’t teach kids who are mostly worried about gang violence, or their family being in jail.  Or if the parents are on drugs and they have to deal with that. They have other shit on their minds. But because of our separation of bureaucracies, the school system doesn’t have the power to fix poverty. And the social welfare bureaucrat says, “It’s not our problem if poor kids can’t learn, it’s the schools’ problem.”  
In other words: When you try to fix schools, you quickly run into half-a-dozen systemic problems that you have no power to fix: poverty, the penal system, the drug-treatment system, the  health-care system, religion,  labor law, and so on. And then when the kids don’t learn because the welfare system, penal, health-care, labor, and drug-treatment systems don’t work and the kids can’t concentrate on schoolwork, who gets blamed? The school systems! Better cut their budget, since they are crappy teachers!!!!
And when I say poor neighborhoods, I don’t mean Compton or Detroit. for every Compton or Detroit there are like a dozen white towns in the middle of nowhere, where there is nothing to do and all the jobs left because factories move to china, and so the parents re unemployed hillbillies strung out on meth.
But on the other hand, a lot of kids are assholes, too. They need to go to that special school where they will be the bullied, not the bullies. Talking about juvie. Later for all that “he is just misunderstood” crap. Remember that rolling stone article about the Michelle Bachmann school where the gay kids kept suiciding one after the other? It didn’t even mention penalties for the bullies. Not even to argue against the idea. Just not even on the fucking table. Can you believe that shit?



Also: even when someone tries to reform schools, like michelle rhee, there is a lot of controversy. She’s great! She’s a fraud!  The righties scream “But more kids are graduating, barely!” and the lefties scream, “But she’s firing teachers!”
But even given all the media time debating it and all the public, grass-roots protests, NOT ONE MENTION ON EITHER SIDE of the actual CURRICULUM!! No one on either side cares what THE KIDS ARE ACTUALLY SPENDING ALL DAY LEARNING UNDER MS. RHEE.
And yet that subject is not even up for discussion in the media. It’s like reporters and pundits were never kids themselves, who never had to sit for 5 hours a week memorizing the exports of Chad or the life cycle of the common fern. Fucking adults, man.
What the fuck. Is that where we are at, as a country?
That is just sad. It doesn’t matter if you are a indie, repub or dem,. . .that should be saddening.
Who wouldn’t want that for their kids?????
Fucking weird as hell . .. unless you remember exactly how much work it is being a parent!
Every parent, whether repub, dem, or indie, knows damn well that 90% of the shit they were forced to learn had no practical application and they forgot it as soon as they graduated. You’d think that being loving parents , preventing their own kids from undergoing these 10,000s of wasted hours would be a huge priority! And yet by the time people get older and busy and spend 5 years changing diapers, they are so worn down! By the time their kids are old enough to go to school, the parents say JUST TAKE THEM OFF MY HANDS FOR 8 HOURS A DAY, I COULD GIVE A FUCK WHAT YOU TEACH THEM. JUST LET ME HAVE SOME QUIET TIME.
And that’s sad.

 Repubs are like FIRE all the teachers!  Public schools are government socialism! Everything kids need to know they can learn from goldman sachs and jerry fallwell!!
Dems are like union power! Never fire any teachers!
And yet, ALL the adults had that one teacher: that taught much more about life than what their official state-mandated course was. That opened their eyes to new ways of thinking. All the adults had that one teacher that gave them more self esteem that taught them: you are capable of so much more than what your environment expects you to be. You have so many unique qualities that can be a boon to you an those around you. And ALL the adults had like 5 or 6 teachers that were burn outs bullies or just plain didn’t know what the fuck they were talking about, teachers that deserved the sack. 
I’m pretty sure if a person on one political side talked in detail about the teachers who changed their life for the better, the people on the other side would be like, “That teacher sounds great. We can agree that the system needs more people like that.”
 And if a person on the other political side talked about a teacher who was a dick or a waste-case, I’m sure their political opponents would remember the asshole teachers from their OWN youth and say, “Hey I agree with you too! That teacher was a clown! We need less teachers like that in the system!” And then we could fucking get down to business. 
And yet adults grow up and pretend everything is black-and-white, and use crappy schools to make political points about unions or privatization, rather than trying to help the kids. 
And then we wonder why kids hate adults.