Old Mexico lives on | The Economist

On February 2nd 1848, following a short and one-sided war, Mexico agreed to cede more than half its territory to the United States. An area covering most of present-day Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah, plus parts of several other states, was handed over to gringolandia. The rebellious state of Tejas, which had declared … Continue reading “Old Mexico lives on | The Economist”

old mexico
On February 2nd 1848, following a short and one-sided war, Mexico agreed to cede more than half its territory to the United States. An area covering most of present-day Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah, plus parts of several other states, was handed over to gringolandia. The rebellious state of Tejas, which had declared its independence from Mexico in 1836, was recognised as American soil too. But a century and a half later, communities have proved more durable than borders. The counties with the highest concentration of Mexicans (as defined by ethnicity, rather than citizenship) overlap closely with the area that belonged to Mexico before the great gringo land-grab of 1848. Some are recent arrivals; others trace their roots to long before the map was redrawn. They didn’t jump the border—it jumped them.

via Old Mexico lives on | The Economist.

Thank God for Stupid Terrorists

On this anniversary of the September 11th attacks – which I’m sad to hear called Patriot Day – because it’s not about patriotism – it’s about a heinous and cowardly act and mourning the innocent men, women, and children who died as a result – anyway, on this September 11th, I’d like to give thanks for stupid terrorists.

Apparently the smartest ones died in the first attacks (and those later in Europe and Africa) because since that time, there have been nothing but bumbling shoe bombers and nincompoop jihadists trying to arrange terrorist acts with FBI informants or using thier cellphones to arrange meetups. Thank god they are all apparently retarded.

There have been no successful terrorist campaigns and at the point when they look like they might be on the verge of setting up an Islamic State and having the world let them – the idiots decide it’s a perfect time to execute American journalists and make threats to the American people. Jesus H. Christ – didn’t these boobs realize that the war weary American public and the second term President would have let them create their own country and have all of Iraq and Syria (and probably much of the rest of the middle East) if they would have just left the Kurdish oil fields in peace and not taunted the most powerful, egotistical, and fearful country in the world?

Now we watch as the idiots make a mockery of themselves and get systematically bombed and bludgeoned until something smarter and less prone to provoke American fear and it’s deadly response replaces them. Fuck you Isis, you should have called yourself Shazam.

Anyway, thank god for the idiot terrorists who haven’t managed to poison our water supply even though a drunk kid in Portland managed to piss in the drinking water reservoir just several months ago.

Thank God for idiot terrorists who haven’t figured out that a truck stop or buffet would be a great place to poison a bunch of pork eating infidels. And thank god they didn’t figure out they could shut down our electric grid and freeze hundreds of seniors or derail trains carrying toxic waste through urban areas.

It’s hard to believe the terrorists are so lazy, stupid, and idiotic that they haven’t figured out they could poison our air by mixing bleach and ammonia in a confined stadium or sell a bunch of toxic waste filled containers to someone that wanted to make a few extra bucks storing it on their land bordering agricultural fields. It’s really hard to believe.

If they wanted to, it seems like they could have killed so many of us by now…but then, maybe we should thank god for our genius homeland security and the long lines at airports and the invasive searches and wire tapping that have foiled the plots we never heard of. Maybe we should thank George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for the war against terrorism.

Or maybe, the terrorists are smarter than we think – maybe they are playing the long game and just waiting for us to implode and destroy ourselves with GMO foods, carcinogenic additives, pill popping depressed grade schoolers, and narcissistic social media obsessed sociopathic teens who don’t know the difference between killing a zombie on TV and shooting a person in the park.

Either way, thank God for idiot terrorists and for the fact that since 2001, there has not been another successful mass attack on the people of the USA.

We’re All Fucked – Even You.

Okay, the bad news first – We’re all fucked. Now that we have that out of the way – let’s move on to the good news – oh, wait – there’s not any. We’re all fucked and that is all there is to it.

How are we fucked? Well – let’s look at freedom. Think you have some? Yes, you do – you can either have an iPhone or an Android phone but if you need to use a payphone you are out of luck – because they are all being turned into wifi devices so if you don’t have a device with a tracking chip in it you can’t check on the bus schedule which runs on a QR code, you can’t check in without paying a ‘desk’ fee, and – well you get the point. But this isn’t a big brother rant about how the technology is getting a better rein on you and tracking your movements, purchases, online browsing behavior, and relationship status to decide whether you should be detained, given online dating ads, or awarded a bonus farmville page…no, it’s not that.

Want to build a house? Just buy some land…uh, no, it doesn’t work like that anymore.  To buy the land you need to have proper documentation to start with – try to buy a lot without a phone number and you will find lots of problems..and then even when you get the land you need to work with the planning department, the zoning department, the EPA, the city works department, the public works department, the approval of approval department, and the bank because even if you don’t take a loan out you still need to have insurance and paperwork. You are free to fill out forms with personal information to do something which affects you on land that you own. None of this is new though….

Illegal immigrants are flooding over the border – but that’s not the problem- the problem is we’re spending huge amounts of money to send them home and catch them instead of embracing them and letting them work hard and build a better life as they wanted to come here to do…and meanwhile, the immigrants who came here and did everything legitimate and earned a good living and became successful – they are buying property in their home countries and getting ready to flee this disaster of a country to go back home to where they can eat non GMO foods and have reasonably priced healthcare with no insurance premiums and not have to face a bunch of angry lazy white people who look for the closest successful brown person to blame their failure at life on…but that’s not really a problem for everyone – just for America – which will soon be a nation of very rich haves and pissed off ignorant have nots who aren’t able to get close to the rich without setting off proximity alarms because they are carrying cheap devices in their pockets…

Does anyone else realize we are all carrying around micro chip transmitters that tell our movements, record our conversations, and offer total access to our most personal data? And since when has data really mattered? Since all of our valuable possessions became lines of code and alphanumeric passwords…your bank account has been hacked – hard to do that if you use cold hard currency – but then the currency has transmitters in it too..

I don’t know much about common core but I know that when you take away the incentive to ACHIEVE you are taking away one of the greatest motivators of growth – we live in a society which is quickly heading toward “Everyone wins and no one loses” which doesn’t really serve to make everyone equal as to make it a problem for anyone to go after their full potential and for any conversation or moving forward based on ability and potential and achievement to be a source of taboo. A forbidden topic. God forbid that your child should be an honor student and you should be proud,  – the sticker for the new america – My child is a drone. All children are drones.

They’re giving kids medication to make them more amenable to the drone school system and for those parents who decide to discipline thier children in an attempt to teach values and character who are caught lies a future of losing your children and having them put with drones who will not push them in any direction but that of droneness.

We’re not fucked because of the wars or rumours of wars or because of the immigration problem or because of the technology – though if you think Google and Facebook and Twitter aren’t playing with what you see and are exposed to in order to make you a better consumer of the clients which pay them (including the governments) – you are a consumer, you are a product, you are a well greased wheel in the machine of society. And, by the way…you are fucked.

You are living in an age when decency is being replaced by a culture of outrage over people suggesting they might be better at something than someone else is. And then there is decency and respect – seems to have died with the WWII generation – the baby boomers brought in the ME ME ME generation and destroyed ancestral inheritance as they kicked thier kids out at 18 so they could focus on themselves again (if they even waited that long – since divorce and remarriage effectively alienated kids from anything they might have ever gotten in the first place (both materially and emotionally) as family homes were sold and since people generally remarry younger spouses – that takes care of that – if you see what I mean) Those kids grew up seeing their parents taking care of themselves and those parents just couldn’t believe it as they asked “How can they be so selfish?” because when kids have to take care of themselves and give everything to themselves because thier parents are so selfishly doing what is ‘best for them’ – it doesn’t exactly engender selflessness…and of course that cycle continues and now you see parents that don’t even seem aware of the fact they have kids as they pursue whatever they want despite having kids they should be taking care of (hello crack baby babies). And it doesn’t get any better…

All of this might be fixed if the power would just go out and the grid were shut down and civilization as we know it were to crash down around us – those who know how to work and use their brains would be able to succeed based on hard work and merit and brains… but shit, that ain’t going to happen. It’s just not.

The governments will keep the power on and the labs and companies will keep making people more useless as truckers no longer need to drive their trucks and no one else needs to do anything to do their job either and then it will just be a matter of either 1) the rich and powerful figuring out how to get rid of all of us unnecessary drains on their enjoyment or 2) the machines figuring out that there just don’t need to be as many of us as there are.

Sorry, unless the aliens come and decide to intervene or society crashes – those are the only two logical outcomes.  So, in conclusion – if you aren’t rich and powerful – you are fucked. If you are rich and powerful you are fucked because you are on the way to losing your humanity – but maybe I’m just saying that to make myself feel better – in fact – you might just not be fucked if you are rich and powerful enough.

 

The Internet Isn’t What We Thought It Would Be….

Back in the 1990’s I was an activist. Even while I was still in the Marine Corps, I was placing Greenpeace stickers on garbage cans in the barracks and trying hard to bring about little changes in consciousness – granted, it was probably the wrong place to do it and that might explain why I was fairly miserable in the Corps – a person out of place.

When I got my honorable discharge and split that scene, I set out for an activist town. My choices were either Boulder, CO or Bellingham, WA and I went with Bellingham because I was born near there and I wanted the chance to spend time with my grandfather before he got too old and passed away (sadly, I missed that boat – after about two weeks, I realized his dementia made it impossible for us to get to know each other better than we had), but Bellingham was a wonderful choice.

I still consider it one of my two hometowns with the other being Honolulu, Hawaii.  Bellingham was a hotbed of 1990s hippie activism and before too long I was the head of a Citizen’s Initiative Group, working on campaigns to save frogs, a member of the Community Food Coop, and involved in Permaculture workshops, organizing protests, and by 1998 actively involved in organizing disparate groups to protest at the World Trade Organization talks in Seattle in 1999.  I’d also set up a magazine and website called Conchsense with the stated goal of uniting creativity and culture through the medium of the internet.

Back then – we thought that the internet was the great leveler – we thought it was the tool by which activists could finally level the playing field with the media and corporate interests by using citizen journalism, organizing online, and educating the public about the ‘truth’. We were all big fans of the X-Files back then and the tagline “The Truth is Out There” resonated with us.

When my friend, John Zerzan talked about how the leveling of the playing field was temporary and how the internet was an illusion that would disappear as soon as the establishment figured out how to regulate it, or even that technology was just a means of greater control of the population – I couldn’t see it. I didn’t want to see it. I wanted to see people being exposed to new ideas and changing everything. I wanted to see a better world and even though I’d read Ted Kaczynski’s Unabomber Manifesto when it was published  and heard the Green Anarchist arguments that sided with his own beliefs that all technology led to enslavement – I didn’t want to believe that.

And it’s only now that I start to realize that John and Ted were right.  Technology is the great enslaver. Whether we are talking about the technology of the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution, or the information revolution – every bit of it has managed to enslave and blind the common man further from the truth of the matter – we are controlled by those who control the technology.

Those early days were a window and that window has closed. Facebook, Twitter,  and Google are publically traded corporations that have boards of directors and public relations departments.  Facebook feels justified to conduct behavioural experiments on users without their knowledge and you can be certain that Google and Twitter are doing the same.  Google is analyzing your mail and Facebook is looking at what you post and Twitter is sharing your userdata with the NSA and more.  They are justified in it – you agreed to their terms of service.

People make a mistake with these companies by thinking that they are empowered users with rights – they, we, are not. We are the products. Our information is the product. We are not the clients. The clients are the advertisers, the marketing companies and the governments that pay with treasure or privelidge – we are the chattel. Like slaves in tobacco fields, we provide the product and like masters in the antibelum manor houses – the internet companies figure out how to sell it and use the profits to enslave us further.

I know – there are many positive things which have come from the internet – too many to recount here – but in fact – the internet is the worst thing to ever happen to the human species.  I know too that I am writing this on the internet, that I earn most of my family’s bread and butter on the internet, and that without it – most of what I’ve done in this life might not have been possible. I know that and still I say that this is the worst thing ever created. Worse than atomic weapons. Worse than DDT.

We thought the internet would free people. Instead it has stolen their souls. It has turned them into sociopaths. It has destroyed much of what was good in the world – not all of it – but much of it.  Ted Kaczynski was right. Dammit.

Don’t believe me? Read it and comment afterward.

http://cyber.eserver.org/unabom.txt

WTF America? Health care and Hip Replacement

I was speaking with a friend yesterday and mentioned how I’ve signed up for Obamacare twice but am still not in the system.  I admit it, I was complaining a bit about the high cost of insurance premiums for a young family like mine – we are young, we don’t go to the doctor very often, and when we do – we usually make it the last resort.

The cost of health insurance premiums come out to about 2/3 of our monthly rent – and then it’s a $5000 deductible which means that all of our normal doctor visits – we’re paying for out of pocket anyway.

My friend lives in California. “Why don’t you get on MediCal?” she asked me. I explained that it was Medicaid in Oregon and that I earned too much to qualify but not enough to be able to afford Obamacare. “That’s weird” she said. “My coworker earns $90k per year and she’s on MediCal.” My jaw dropped. That’s part of the fucking problem. Right there.

I’m lucky if I earn $40k per year and it’s more likely to be $25k most years. That’s the life of a self-employed writer. So, maybe I would qualify – but really? Do I have to go show how poor I am to the state in order to get healthcare coverage for my family? I have to jump through hoops showing I’m unemployed or be able to show I don’t earn enough? I have to put myself in the system because otherwise the system doesn’t believe me? This Obamacare is among the worst legislation the US has ever produced.

My mom got her hip replaced yesterday. She’s a senior so she’s covered by Medicare – thankfully, because a hip replacement in the USA costs over $40k, which is more than the equity they have in their house.  A hip replacement in China or Spain would cost you about $7k out of pocket. In Thailand or the Philippines it would cost you about half that. I saw a graphic here that broke that down…you could buy a ticket to Spain, get your hip replaced, live in a nice apartment in Spain for two years, learn Spanish, run with the bulls, break your other hip, get it replaced and then fly home and still have money in your pocket for the same cost. What the hell is going on? Here is a pretty good video about why our healthcare here costs so much…

Yeah. There’s part of the problem. Here is another part of the problem:

And guess what? That’s not it. That’s not the end of it. But there is more later…there is always more.

The Tree of Liberty – In Defense of Government – An Anarchist No More

Project AmericaJust as I’ve had to shed clothes that no longer suit me or fit my needs, I have often had to shed labels that no longer are suitable. I wrote some time back about why I cannot , in good conscience, describe myself as a Muslim. Yes, I converted, but that was mainly because I had to in order to marry my wife. My conception and belief in God is such that it doesn’t matter what label I choose, they can all fit or none of them can, but I certainly don’t pray in a prescribed way five times a day, I’m not fasting during ramadan, I eat bacon, I drink alcohol, and – well, I’m sure you get the point. I’m not a Muslim – though I am a man on the path of God who frequently submits his own ego to the expressed will of the divine – but that’s another story.

Through my teens, twenties, and even into my thirties – I was very much able to describe myself as an anarchist. For me, as for many people, the term was more of a statement of what I was against than what I was for. I was against the use of force by a coercive government, I was against bureaucracy and taxation without representation, I was against tyranny by the majority, I was against centralized control and decision making that left the individual out of the process.  To some extent, I can still say that I am not a fan of those things. If you had asked me what I was for, I believe I would have said I was for personal responsibility – I still am. I have simply come to the conclusion that Santa Claus is more plausible than a society where all members take personal responsibility and act in a mode of enlightened self interest.

That is what has changed. In travelling the world, studying diverse cultures and history, and meeting countless people – I can say that I am pretty certain about one thing.

THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE GIVEN A CHOICE WITH NO IMMEDIATE CONSEQUENCES WILL CHOOSE IN THEIR OWN IMMEDIATE SELF INTEREST REGARDLESS OF LONG TERM CONSEQUENCES TO THEMSELVES, OTHERS, OR SOCIETY AS A WHOLE. 

A simple example is firewood. If there is one tree that provides wood for fires and no one regulating it, you can be sure that the dead wood will first be harvested and hoarded, then the accessible branches will be stripped, and then someone will come along and cut down the rest of the tree.  Those who held back to share are left in a position where they must now buy what was a community resource and there is no longer a tree to provide dead wood next year. That is the true tragedy of the commons. You either grab as much as you can while the tree is standing or you end up beholden to those that did. The idealist is left to complain and theorize. What a bummer.

The only way to prevent the tree being looted is to have the threat of force i.e. enforcement which can roughly be translated to government. Government, when it comes down to it, is a body of enforcement whether it is a dictatorship, a democracy, or something else. Someone has to carry the stick which will be used to enforce laws for the common good – it can be an individual who appoints themselves through brute force or it can be an institution created and backed by the people.  Government, i.e. an enforcement agency, is essential because the majority of people are either unwilling or unable to make decisions that extend beyond their own immediate self interest.

The problem, of course, is that the government itself is much like the tree. It can also be stripped and looted. First someone comes along and takes all of the dead wood, then someone a bit stronger comes and strips the branches, and finally someone comes and takes the rest of the tree and the rest of us are left beholden to them.  It’s a much more dangerous situation than being left without wood though, because the government can then be used AGAINST the people for the immediate self interest of those who have seized control. At that point, the people are either forced into serfdom or when conditions become completely unbearable, they are forced to rise up and seize control of the enforcement agency from the thieves who have stolen it. Such was the case in the Arab Spring, the Russian Revolution, the French Revolution, and the American Revolution. In fact, every popular revolt is such an uprising against unbearable conditions.

The challenge at that point is to create a system which has protection against thugs seizing control. This is the point of our checks and balances in the USA. The President is kept in check by the Supreme Court and the Congress, the Congress is kept in check by the Judiciary and the Executive, and the Judiciary is kept in check by the President and the Congress – at least in theory. Also in theory, all of these bodies are directly accountable to the people. The problem, is that when we allowed corporations to lobby and interfere in elections, lobbying, and appointments – we were giving the wealthy people behind those businesses a bigger axe to cut down the tree with. Suddenly decisions were being made that were of greater benefit to business than to individuals – short term decisions that lined pockets at the expense of our future. That’s the problem, that’s where we stand now.

Given all of that, I can’t describe myself as an anarchist. We need a government. We need a threat force. We just don’t need a government and threat force that is working to make us all into serfs. The current government is killing the future for us and our children, grand-children, and generations to come. By favoring business over education, profits over parks, and the needs of the few over the needs of the many – our government is slowly screwing our backs to the wall – they are stripping the tree  right in front of our eyes. At what point does common sense dictate that we stand up and defend the tree of liberty?