Tokyo Damage Report

MY PITCH FOR A REALITY TV SHOW

 
Reality tv show: gather together half-a-dozen refugees from mind-control cults in different parts of the world (i.e. people who escaped cults, who have lived their whole lives inside really extreme ideology, but no longer agree with that ideology, but who have had no contact with the outside world basically)
  •   refugee from Sudan – never seen any iron-age technology besides an AK47.
  •     one of those poor women from the American Midwest Christian cults where dude has 20 wives and they dress like Little House on the Prarie
  •     kid from North Korea
  •     refugee from some psycho Hassidic family.
  •    Some ancient crusty island motherfucker that is like the last survivor of the New Guinea Cargo Cults.
  •      Various other misfits.
 
Put them together in a house and every episode would consist of this:
 
Sit them down in the main room and show them some artifact of modern Western society:
 
(for example, anything from the SkyMall catalog or a USB dildo or an Adam Sandler movie or a industrial packing pallet full of Slim Jims or the Willie Horton ad or some Star Wars bedsheets or even another reality show (i.e. season 1 , flavor of love) )
 
And just leave them alone to try to deduce the meaning of the object. Not just how it works, but more like: what does this object mean to modern Westerners and why do modern Westerners like it?
 
Play them a Bon Jovi CD and tell them “Over 30,000,000 people bought this. Why?”
 
Show them a velour thong and ask them “What is this for?”
 
Show them a fat-cart. Take them to a supermarket in it and ask them to pick out the “best” food.
 
Basically the show would sort of hold up a mirror to our society. Like the old “anthropologist from mars” routine.
 
More context would be given but only if asked for.  The people on the show would “win” the challenge simply by providing a coherent explanation for the thing or its appeal to westerners. Whether we westerners agree with this or not doesn’t matter. Just the process itself of these folks from massively different backgrounds trying to puzzle over some garbage would be awesome. Everyone would have been taught from a young age that everything from The Outside World is Evil and Bad . . . but each person would have been taught a different REASON why, and on top of that, they all escaped their horrible homelands and no longer believe that ideology, but have nothing to replace it with. It would be interesting to see if by the end of the show, would they embrace the cheesy first world materialism or conclude that humans everywhere are all just as fucked up.
 
2 comments

i call bullshit on social media

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.
 

COMPARED WITH THE '90S NET, THE WORST OF BOTH WORLDS.
 
 
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. 
 
THE OTHER BIG PROBLEM
 
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!”
11 comments

GUESS WHO’S VOTING ROMNEY?

 
 
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!
 
 
18 comments

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? 

4 comments

irony

 

 

 

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."

 

2 comments

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.

 

 

5 comments

Mexico