Short Form

Say you’re thinking about a plate of shrimp…

Your Insecurity Is Bought and Sold

It has become profitable to set new and unrealistic standards, to generate a culture of comparison and inferiority. If you can tap into people’s insecurities — if you can needle at their deepest feelings of inadequacy — then they will buy just about any damn thing you tell them to.

Just an excellent turn of phrases.

Once a purple state, Florida had been remade in his brazenly cruel image and swung for his reelection by a margin of almost 20 points. With the blessings of the Rupert Murdoch Death Star and the usual cadre of faceless billionaire donors, he was now effectively the Sunshine State’s God Emperor and poised to present himself as a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination.

From Jacobin

Earth Cannot Afford the Rich

Poverty exists not because we cannot feed the poor, but because we cannot satisfy the rich.

Hell yeah, tax the rich

Oxfam said measures that should be considered in an “inequality-busting” agenda include the permanent taxation of the wealthiest in every country, more effective taxation of big corporations and a renewed drive against tax avoidance.

Is Donald Trump the Antichrist?

Probably. Just a really stupid Antichrist…. unless it is all just a front, like Reagan pretending to be too senile to recall trading guns for hostages.

This is a problem for all of us

Donald Trump Has Serious Plans for the Mass Violation of Civil Rights. Donald Trump has announced disturbingly detailed plans for the mass arrest and detention of people suspected of being undocumented immigrants. 

On The Reproduction of Capitalism

In a society that proclaims its attachment to liberty and equality, why do we witness the ever-renewed reproduction of relationships of domination?

A climate conference’s startling, self-defeating contradictions

The many ironies of this year’s United Nations climate meeting have not been lost on anyone. The world’s seventh-largest oil-producing country, the United Arab Emirates, is hosting it. That country’s top oil executive is presiding over it. It’s happening at the end of the hottest year on record, during which the United States alone faced at least 25 climate and weather disasters costing over $1 billion apiece.

Banning/Burning Books

Never in the history of the world have the people burning or banning books turned out to be the good guys.

Fascism begins …

Fascism begins the moment a ruling class, fearing the people may use their political democracy to gain economic democracy, begins to destroy political democracy in order to retain its power of exploitation and special privilege. – Tommy Douglas

Trump’s Climate Disaster

Donald Trump has spent the past month openly courting fossil fuel money and mocking the very idea of climate change. This delusional and catastrophic posture has barely registered in the US news media.

Rogue AI

Possibly future rogue AIs will do evil things we can’t even comprehend for reasons of their own, but right now rogue AIs just do straightforward white-collar crime when they are stressed at work.

The Future: We will program computers that are infinitely smarter than us, and they will look around and decide “you know what we should do is insider trade.” They will make undetectable, very lucrative trades based on inside information, they will get extremely rich and buy yachts and otherwise live a nice artificial life and never bother to enslave or eradicate humanity. Maybe the pinnacle of evil — not the most evil form of evil, but the most pleasant form of evil, the form of evil you’d choose if you were all-knowing and all-powerful — is some light securities fraud.

This Friday, Buy Nothing.

Black Friday is the perverse ritual of our failing civilization — a consumerist kabuki show that makes us feel like shit and kills the planet in the process.

Let’s call this nonsense done, and start inventing new ways to live, love and celebrate.

This Friday, Buy Nothing.

Then ride the momentum of clear, brave thinking into a Buy Less Xmas.

The top 1% generate more than double the CO2 of the bottom 66%

Twelve of the world’s wealthiest billionaires produce more greenhouse gas emissions from their yachts, private jets, mansions and financial investments than the annual energy emissions of 2m homes.

Buy NOTHING Day.

Here’s a way to start a new life:  This Black Friday, resist the itch to buy some dumb thing just for the novelty of it, the fleeting illusion of control. The urge to buy isn’t actually coming from inside you. It’s code laid down by every ad, email, commercial and celebrity you’ve ever encountered. Our minds are corrupted from a lifetime of lies designed to hollow us out and pluck our deepest insecurities. We’re left in a lethargic funk, clinging to a brittle hope that can be shattered by a single piece of bad news. It’s time to break free of that whole fucking deal. This Friday, keep the credit card holstered. Keep your cash in your jeans. Don’t buy. Just breathe. Step outside. Feel the pulse of the planet — the earth beneath your feet, the sun on your face. Listen to the wind. Watch a bird fly by. Give five bucks to a homeless person. Have a heart-to-heart chat with a friend. Focus on what matters and watch as the everyday gray slowly returns to the colors of real life. Black Friday is the perverse ritual of a failing civilization. Let’s move on.

-Adbusters

Tax the Rich

Looking at what the rich spend their money on shows us why “Tax the Rich” is always such a popular political priority: because it would benefit the majority, and everyone knows that people who can outsource the ironing of their shirts will survive a slight hit in lifestyle.

Buy Nothing Day (Black Friday)

Buy Nothing Day is coming. So is Black Friday. The two will clash on November 24. As global warming kicks in with a vengeance, Black Friday will increasingly be seen as a perverse doomsday ritual. It’s time we shatter this whole fucking day of excess.  Resist the urge of mass consumption.

Democracies do not have to die at the end of a rifle.

They can die when people are silent, when they fail to stand up or condemn threats to democracy.

“From the River to the Sea” Is a Call for Democracy and Equality

“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” is not a hateful slogan or a call for violence — it’s a call for democracy and equal rights for all.

It’s true that Hamas uses “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and similar slogans. But the phrase predates Hamas and is also widely used by advocates of a single democratic state with equal rights for Israeli Jews, Palestinian Muslims and Christians, Thai and Indian guest workers, and everyone else who lives there.

Israel’s war on Palestine is just an extension of the global holy war on Islam

About every war waged by the United States and it’s allies in the past 30 years have been on majority Islamic countries. Israel’s genocide in Gaza is just the latest installment.

Wealth Inequality Permeates US Society, No Matter How You Slice It

The top 10 percent of households own 73 percent of the nation’s wealth, while the bottom 50 percent of households own just 2 percent of the nation’s wealth.

Poems by Mark Nowak.

Poetry is often lost on me, but Mark Nowak’s work cuts right to my heart.

from “. . . Again”
By Mark Nowak

We walked toward the zenith not expecting a new rising sun, but satisfied with the Cheese Whiz, Zebra Cakes, and Zingers at the end of the aisle at Family Dollar. Maybe eat them with Prozac or Zoloft. Later, take in the pine trees rising behind the cinderblock walls of the Dollar Tree. The American alphabet ends like every American factory ends. Zombies wandering around on Zoom. The new zoology. In the Ocean State Job Lot parking lot, I put the words “cheap America lot” into Business Name Generator and got these results: Balaclava America, Zip Cheap, Burb Lot. Nothing much more needs to be said. Maybe there will be more zebras someday. More songs by a reconfigured ZZ Top (you will or will not listen to them on Amazon music). But for now, there are intermezzos, piazzas, and paparazzi for the elites on their mega-yachts, on their spaceship trips into outer space. Meanwhile, the working class orders a pizza delivered by the working class. Zero tolerance for everything and everyone else. Let the Dominoes fall.

From … AGAIN

By Mark Nowak

Encyclopedias and empires go extinct. Eternity isn’t an option. Enjoy the evanescent moon before it evaporates into another eerie dawn, eerie day. Shuttered used car lot across the street from Wastequip headquarters sells eggs for $3 a dozen and flies a Blue Lives Matter flag. It’s the ecosystem nowadays. The Anthropocene. Chickens coming home to roast. The rent is overdue. Eventually we won’t be hired any more, won’t be here anymore. It happened at the Energizer battery factory in Burlington, Vermont. Imagine the Energizer Bunny with no more joie de vivre. “We are committed to making our colleagues’ transition(s) as smooth as possible.” So start searching for jobs on Indeed. Please. It’s always been about entropy. At either end of Lake Erie, the abandoned factories: Buffalo, Cleveland, Toledo, Detroit (though a few factories have been gentrified into condos for the elites). Drive through Albany and head east. Drive from Pittsfield to North Adams to the Vermont border. Endless empty parking lots, endless erosion. It isn’t erroneous to think this way. It’s the essence of this country. The evacuations will be everlasting.

LOL, Fail …

Wisdom in our modern world may boil down to recognizing that LOL and fail and trashy and OMG don’t actually represent different categories of human experience. Current culture kicks up ambivalence and regret. We mask our dread with peanut brittle and daiquiris.

Hate the media

If you are not careful the media will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. -Malcolm X

The battle over information

When we are fooled into believing the battle over information is, in fact, a battle over our reality, we have already lost the war

Today, “communications” is the science of influence. Mass communication is the study of how governments and corporations can control their populations and customers. Information and big data are the modern sciences of control.

Fight the culture of fear

A steady diet of lies feeds a growing public hysteria. We are conditioned to fear and this fear feeds on itself until we are ready to go to war and give up our basic rights all in the name of safety from some imaginary threat.

A lack of education hasn’t hurt me none

An informed citizenry is a direct threat to corporate power. Corporations would rather have a population that is easily influenced to accept whatever message is given them by the corporate controlled media.

Astroturfing:

In American politics & Advertising formal public relations projects which deliberately seek to engineer the impression of spontaneous grassroots behavior. The goal is the appearance of independent public reaction to a politician, political group, product, service, event or similar entities by centrally orchestrating the behavior of many diverse and geographically distributed individuals.

Garbage in/Garbage out

Garbage in produces garbage out. However if the garbage is really designed to confuse or consume bandwidth & attention, then is it really garbage? It may be garbage to most but it is serving a purpose in the wars of ideas. Garbage/noise is consuming some portion of our attention. It is crowding out or masking legitimate information. This noise is consuming network bandwidth. It is consuming intellectual bandwidth. It is consuming us.

The high pitched scream of marketing is no more than sheer noise.

Dissent

Dissent only matters if it interferes with government or corporate plans.

Media. Whatever.

Through media real events come to us as one-demensional scripts.

All is fabricated & coordinated according to the permutations dispensed by an automatic vending machine of ready-made explanations & predetermined emotions designed to arouse pity, indignation, disgust, whatever…

Signal to noise:

Data does not equal information. Data must be interpreted and understood in order to become information. Information does not equal knowledge. Knowledge is a construct that is created in the mind of the user as a result of accessing, processing and understanding information. Different individuals may extract different knowledge from the same information … or may extract no knowledge at all. No matter how sophisticated the medium; garbage in still produces garbage out. Noise cannot modify our expectations and to understand the sentence is not necessarily to understand the message.

Are you missing the message?

Obey. Consume. Comply.

Most people work 40-plus hours a week at jobs they don’t like to buy things they don’t need.

We are a society of alienated individuals held together by a culture industry that serves the interests of capitalism. Popular culture is akin to a factory producing standardized cultural goods to manipulate the masses into passivity; the easy pleasures available through consumption of popular culture make people docile and content, no matter how difficult their economic circumstances. Culture industries cultivate false needs; that is, needs created and satisfied by capitalism. True needs, in contrast, are freedom, creativity and genuine happiness.

Believe in Science

Genesis 1 to 11 was never meant to be a science textbook for the 21st century.

Media in a Democratic Society

There is a basic contradiction between a profit-driven, highly concentrated, advertising-saturated corporate media system and the requirements of a democratic society
(e.g. an informed populace where all views are aired and the people are allowed to decide for themselves). There is no neutral, non-partisan mainstream press. It is a myth that “the market”
compels media firms to “give the people what they want”. Much of U.S. media is consolidated in the hands of a few large companies, which results in journalism biased toward the corporate
point of view. Media shapes social agendas of knowledge and therefore belief. The free-market economics model of media leads to normative and narrow reporting. In actual practice, corporate
media defends the economic, social, and political agendas of the privileged groups that dominate domestic society, the state, and the global order.

The Economy of Fear

The world economy is predicated on fear and unsatisfaction. We are conditioned by governments, corporations and the media (all are one in the same) to fear violence from all sides and to fear inadequacy in every aspect of our lives. No matter how much we spend in time, currency and grief, we can never achieve the image of perfection or ideal of safety sold to us daily through all media outlets. Newspapers, magazines, radio, Web sites, television and twenty-four hour news networks package and sell fear. Their advertisers sell unsatisfaction. If the world population were ever comfortable with itself, the world economy as we know it would collapse.

Patterns of consumption

The real issue is not consumption itself but its patterns and effects.
Inequalities in consumption are stark. Globally, the 20% of the world’s
people in the highest-income countries account for 86% of total private
consumption expenditures – the poorest 20% a miniscule 1.3%.
More specifically, the richest fifth:
Consume 45% of all meat and fish, the poorest fifth 5%.
Consume 58% of total energy, the poorest fifth less than 4%.
Have 74% of all telephone lines, the poorest fifth 1.5%.
Consume 84% of all paper, the poorest fifth 1.1%.
Own 87% of the world’s vehicle fleet, the poorest fifth less than 1%.

Runaway growth in consumption in the past 50 years is putting strains on the environment never before seen.

Media was designed to absorb dissent.

Being uninformed is one thing, but having a population that is actively misinformed presents problems when it comes to participating in the national debate, or the democratic process

More Than 8 Billion People

Nothing can trend upward forever.
There are now more than 8 billion people on the planet; more than twice as there were in 1960.

Consumer Culture

Consumer culture is the ideological infrastructure that dictates and motivates peoples activities of consumption.

Middle Class

These are the people who the controlling system (the wealthy, the “power elite”; those who own the media, the government, the means of production) has fooled into policing themselves and who it seeks to control even more, not just with bread and circuses, but with anxieties and drugs as well.It is no coincidence that the middle-class is the most drugged up of all social strata. The middle-class is not strung out on crack or heroin; drugs aimed at killing and pacifying the poor, but rather sleeping aids, mood stabilizers, diet pills and all manner of “social” drugs aimed at cultivating complacency. Middle-class drugs pretend to offer users a “happy” life while leaving them in a semi-hysterical daze. These drugs are designed to prevent the middle-class from rebelling against the ruling elite while enriching the pharmaceutical industry.

Social Media/Mass Media

Social Media/Mass Media, under the influence of market forces, functionally acts as a propaganda machine.

Propaganda artwork is simultaneously an affirmation and a critique of an ideological system

Art is more powerful if produced outside the art market and in the context of politics. Artists working for propaganda are truer to art than those who produce for the individual consumer. Every ideology whether political or religious has a vision or image behind it, whereas the art market does not. It merely circulates images.

Propaganda artwork is simultaneously an affirmation and a critique of an ideological system because it turns the vision of the future into something tangible and secular. By presenting a utopian power balance that politics fails to achieve, modern and contemporary art both affirms and critiques the democratic system, similarly to the functions of ideological art.

Dogs

Dogs, unlike us, are not cogs in the capitalist machine.

Techno-Feudalism

The capitalist system is ruled more by brazen predation than by good old-fashioned labor exploitation. Capitalists increasingly rely on raw political power to coercively secure capital through everything from rents to cheap government-provided capital – a means of extracting surplus that looks a lot more like feudalism.

Gender Rights

Gender rights are extremely democratic so they threaten authoritarian regimes that rely on traditional, unequal gender roles, heteronormativity, and especially the cult of masculinity. Gender hierarchy implied by “traditional values” contributes to many other social hierarchies which can be naturalized through gendered metaphors. If it is agreed the the “masculine” should be superior, it may be easier to accept the priority of military spending over health care, the priority of the security of boarders over the protection of life. Spheres coded as feminine can be underfunded and underrepresented, all in the name of the “natural, traditional” order.

Ideology

Ideology is not just political doctrine. What we are able to think, imagine, and say is a critical political issue. The dominant set of ideas, hegemony, conforms to the dominance of the ruling class while not being about the ruling class. Whoever controls language controls politics.

Cruises

Cruises are for people who get excited by the presence of jumbo prawns at the buffet. Most baffling is that anyone, post-Covid, goes on a cruise at all.