Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

On the Futility of Attempts at Gun Control in the USA: July 26, 2015

July 26, 2015 3 comments

The act of publicly bemoaning a lack of “effective” gun control laws upon hearing news of yet another mass shooting is one of the most popular LIEbral ritual in USA. For reasons that I will get into a bit later in this post, most LIEbrals believe (or at least want to believe) that severe restrictions or outright bans on private ownership of guns will somehow magically translate into an almost total elimination of mass shootings and other incidents of firearm related “violence”. They will also tell you that the much lower rates of suicide (or homicide) by firearms in other developed countries with draconian regulation of private gun ownership support their beliefs. But is that really so?

Well.. the short answer is “no”. But the longer answer is far more interesting and provides some intriguing insight into their mindset and worldview.

FYI, this is not my first blog post expressing strong skepticism about the effectiveness of passing more gun control laws in the USA. I have previously pointed out that most mass or spree shootings in the USA are the end result of somewhat unique and systemic social problems. Also, people who commit such acts frequently have no suspicion-invoking history of violent behavior. Furthermore, trying to suppress one manifestation of a much deeper set of problems almost guarantees that they will manifest themselves in another, and even more problematic, manner. It is also no secret that those clamoring the loudest for more gun control are doing so to maintain their power and social status.

There is however something else that I have alluded to, but not discussed at length, in my previous posts on this topic. I am now going to talk about one of the core issues that underlies discussion on gun control laws but is seldom mentioned- especially in public forums.

Some of my previous posts on other topics talk about factors that influence (positively or negatively) the perceived legitimacy of any given system of government. Now, many of you might think that opinions of citizens about the degree of legitimacy of the government system they live under are largely a non-issue in “developed” countries with democratically elected governments. As I will show you in the next paragraph- perceptions and opinions about the legitimacy of government systems are far more important for policies on gun control than most LIEbrals want to believe. It really comes down to two inter-linked issues..

Firstly- even a brief reading of the previous 150 years of global history show a rather disconcerting, yet seldom talked about, pattern for violent deaths. Governments of countries (as opposed to individuals) have been responsible for the vast majority of violent deaths in populations governed by them. If you don’t believe me just add the body count of all major inter- and intra-state wars, genocides and consequences of war (such as the influenza pandemic of 1918) which have occurred in the last century and half. My point is that the vast majority (way over 99%) of violent deaths (around 150-200 million) in that time span were state sanctioned and therefore technically “legal”. Furthermore, the number of violent deaths caused by recent or ongoing conflicts such as those caused by american meddling in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan within the last decade are still many tens of times higher than a sum of the body count caused by individual mass or spree shooters in the same time span. Even the police in USA kill many times more unarmed people than mass shooters in the same calendar year. To put it another way, governments of nation states (and their subsidiaries) are by far the biggest cause of violent deaths- including those by guns. I fail to see how passing more gun control laws would have change that fact.

And this brings us to the second issue- namely, that a significant minority of people do not perceive the current government system as being legitimate. But why does that matter? Don’t people in other developed countries have similar views about their governments? Well.. it does matter, because people in other developed countries do perceive their governments to be significantly more legitimate than people in the USA see their own. But why? What makes people in Japan, Germany or even the U.K feel that their government is legitimate? The simple answer is that the perceived legitimacy of a government is directly proportional to the consistency and effectiveness of its efforts to maintain the quality of life for the median citizen.

It is therefore no surprise that gun control measures seem to work in countries where the government directly or indirectly intervenes in favor of the median citizen. I should also point out countries with such government systems always had very low rates of deaths by individual acts of violence- especially in the post-WW2 era. In contrast to that, countries in which governments routinely and overtly abuse the majority to benefit the rich minority always had rather high rates of non-state sanctioned homicides. That is why certain countries such as Mexico, Brazil and South Africa have rather high rates of non-state sanctioned homicides despite highly restrictive gun ownership laws. My point is that the USA has always been more like Mexico, Brazil and South Africa than Japan, Germany or the U.K.

LIEbrals push for more gun control laws because they do not want to acknowledge that the USA has always been an affluent third-world country and that they have tremendously benefited from this apparent contradiction.

What do you think? Comments?

Two Unanswered Questions about the Greek “Bailout” Deal

July 13, 2015 2 comments

Yesterday the Greek PM (Alexis Tsipras) agreed to a tentative deal with other EU leaders that would provide a “bailout” of 86 billion Euro to Greece in exchange for levels of austerity and privatization far surpassing those reject in a referendum about a week ago. Leaving aside all the speculation surrounding the circumstances of this deal, there are two broader questions about this situation that have not been answered properly (i.e without speculation, self-serving lies and bullshit).

Question 1: Why do such a large percentage (over 65%) of Greeks want to remain in the Eurozone?

One of the central electoral promises of Syriza was that it would stop further EU-imposed financial austerity and still keep Greece in the Eurozone. But even more curiously, various polls showed that 2/3 rds of Greeks wanted to stay in the Eurozone. While those percentages might have gone down in the last few weeks, I still have a hard time understanding why Greeks would want to be on a team where most other members hated and abused them. I mean, it is possible to remain in the EU even after exiting the Eurozone.

While average incomes in Greece (as measured in Euros) did rise after joining the Eurozone, it is hard to make the case that it has made their lives any better. The sad reality is that they could have gotten most of the benefits of joining the Eurozone by joining the EU but maintaining their own currency. While I can understand why the Greek 1% ers (or 10% ers) wanted to join the Eurozone, the extensive popular support for retaining the Euro as the default currency in Greece does not make much sense. It is ego? Is it false consciousness? Is it the desire to be seen as European rather than Mediterranean?

Question 2: Do Germans (both its leaders and average citizens) think that making Greece sign an economic version of the Versailles treaty in 2015 will somehow stabilize a fundamentally defective currency?

Let us for a moment assume that Tsipras can get this deal through the Greek parliament and make sure that it is implemented in full. Let us also assume that his government, or any other replacing it, can keep it going for a couple of years. Then what? Does it improve the economic situation of the average person in Greece over the next two years.. five years.. ten years.. twenty years? My point is that pretty much any plan based in the neoliberal scams of austerity and privatization will almost inevitably cause more open-ended financial deprivation for the average Greek person. To put it another way, there is no light at the end of this tunnel.

Even if we ignore the very real possibility that such policies would almost inevitably lead to the the rise of right-wing nationalist parties in Greece, we are still left with an even bigger problem- namely, that other countries in the Eurozone might decide, or end up, sabotaging the Euro. It is no secret that significant minorities of the population in France, Italy and Spain have always been hostile to the idea of a common European currency. It is also well known that two out those three countries are not in the best of financial circumstances- at least as seen through the lens of neoliberal capitalistic dogma. However unlike Greece, they are large and have economies diverse enough to go willingly exit the Eurozone- if it comes to that.

Now consider the terms imposed by Germany on Greece and its likely effects on the later. Do you think people in those three large Eurozone countries will ignore what they are now seeing (economic colonialism) and will almost certainly see (more economic deprivation) in the future. Do you think they would still want to retain a common currency with Germany, if the later can do to them what it is doing to Greece? Why would you retain a common currency with a dominant country in a group if you have no political representation in the decision making process of that country? Let us not forget that the US Dollar works because all states in the USA send elected representatives to Washington DC. If they did not, states not benefiting from the common currency would start dissociating themselves from those that did so at the cost of the former.

What do you think? Comments?

Discussing “White Privilege” is a Way to Cope with its Irreversible Loss

July 12, 2015 12 comments

The issue of “white privilege” has become an increasingly frequent, though still minor, topic of discussions in both mainstream and alternative media. Hardly a week goes without a few new articles on how widespread the problem is or ideas about remedying it. These run the whole gamut from the hilariously self important, hilariously paternalistic, jumping on the bandwagon types to ones that are reasonable and nuanced.

But very few articles on this topic try to answer a simple question- Why has writing and talking about “white privilege” in the media exploded within the previous 4-5 years? I mean.. why did we not hear much, if anything, about this issue in the previous decades? Was this issue not existent or relevant then? If it was, why did people not talk about it then but are almost too willing to do so now?

The two most common ‘explanations’ for the explosion of media interest in this topic are as follows:

Most CONservative morons believe that the guilt and naivety of “bleeding-heart white liberals” is behind much (if not all) such articles and discussions about ‘white privilege’. Some CONservative morons see it an attempt to force the belief system of “feminists”, “left-wing liberals” and other assorted socialist types on to others.

LIEbrals, on the other hand, largely see this as an issue of publicly acknowledging something that is morally wrong. Of course, it is no surprise that a few self-identifying LIEbrals have made their careers (and money) through writing and talking about it.

While both the CONservative and LIEbral narratives on why everybody and their dog is now expressing their opinions about “white privilege” seem logical at first glance, neither holds up to careful scrutiny. Firstly, the whole idea that white LIEbrals are significantly more compassionate that white CONservatives is simply not true. The behavior and actions of White LIEbrals who express progressive beliefs is not that different from their stupider CONservative counterparts. In other words, the mindset of White LIEbrals (as implied by their behavior) is just as racist and exploitative as the CONservative morons they seek to differentiate themselves from.

So what is going on.. Why are white LIEbrals falling over each other to condemn their own supposed privilege.

The less cynical among you might see white LIEbrals decrying “white privilege” as a way to raise their perceived social status- and there is some truth to that. But I am far more cynical than that and see something which most others cannot see, let alone acknowledge.

It all comes down to extrapolation of an aspect of human behavior I had discussed in a previous post- Why Societies Fool Themselves about their True Selves. In that post, I said that societies usually lacks whatever quality, resource or attribute they claim to have in abundance. If we extrapolate that idea a little further, we can convert it into a more generalized statement.

Humans lacks whatever quality, resource or attribute they repeatedly claim to have in abundance.

White, both CONservatives and LIEbrals, almost never talked about “white privilege” in previous decades because they believed that it was safe. They had actually convinced themselves that they would always have higher living standards and be more technologically advanced than the rest of the world- because they were actually superior to all those other people. Sure.. there were outliers like Japan, but generally whites felt their relative position was unassailable.

Then the last three decades happened..

The last thirty years have been marked by two trends. On one hand, real technological innovation has basically disappeared in the white west. It has been replaced by a simulacra consisting of colorful presentations and papers written in language approved by both advertising and legal agencies. On the other hand, living conditions in the rest of the non-white world have improved by leaps and bounds- often at rates incomprehensible to the white mind (if there is such a thing). Then there is the issue of demographic changes, both in the general population of the west as well as in technology intensive occupations.

Many of the less retarded whites (predominantly LIEbrals) have realized, if still largely at a subconscious level, that the era where being white meant having real privileges is rapidly and irreversibly slipping away. CONservatives are too stupid to have read the writing on the wall and believe that they are world is still stuck somewhere in the 1950s-1980s.

The acknowledgement of “white privilege” by white LIEbrals allows them to enjoy whatever real white privilege is still left while still appearing to be morally superior to white CONservatives. They know, if only in the back of their minds, that the little white privilege they enjoy will soon be history- regardless of their actions in support or opposition of it. It is just that decrying it will make them look morally superior and prescient in the future when even the most retarded white CONservative rube has to face reality.

Therefore, all those articles about “white privilege” by LIEbrals are about positioning themselves for the inevitable future rather than any innate sense of justness or fairness.

What do you think? Comments?

A Brief Comparison of Andreas Lubitz and Chris Kyle

June 6, 2015 1 comment

A couple of months ago, the intertubes and airwaves were full of news and speculation about why Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed an airliner full of passengers and the rest of the crew in the French Alps. At that time, news sites and blogs were full of the latest leaked bits of information (or rumors) about his mental state- from his history of depression to whether he was prescribed anti-psychotic drugs for symptoms of psychosis.

As many of you know, there was no shortage of theories about what drove Andreas Lubitz to do what he did on Mar 24, 2015. Some proposed he was ideologically motivated, while others confidentially gave a post-mortem diagnosis of schizophrenia. A few blamed high-functioning autism or relationship problems with women, while others blamed working conditions and precarity of his chosen career. Perhaps the only point most people seemed to agree on was that he should not have deliberately crashed Germanwings Flight 9525 and killed 149 others with him.

A few months before this event, a film called American Sniper was released in the USA. It quickly became very profitable and has since made over 500 million dollars. It is no secret that this film, like every Hollywood films, distorted historical facts to portray a certain pro-white and pro-american delusion.. I mean “version” of the actual events. But that is best left for another post. The relevant point of the Chris Kyle story, as far as this post is concerned, is that he had 165 confirmed kills in Iraq. To put it another way- he deliberately killed 165 Iraqis, including women and children.

Now Chris Kyle’s number is not especially high. Snipers like Simo Häyhä (505-542 kills) and even women snipers such as Lyudmila Pavlichenko (309 kills) have killed more than that now dead idiot from Texas. But most snipers in the 20th century did so in wars where their country was being invaded or they were fighting a war against another uniformed army. However every american sniper since WW2 did so in support of the invasion of some country that posed no threat to the USA, let alone had invaded it. They also largely killed semi-regular troops, militia or civilians who were just defending their country or just happened to look “dangerous”.

By now, you might have noticed that the number of people killed by Andreas Lubitz (149 + himself) and Chris Kyle (~ 165) are roughly similar.

But why do most people want to believe that Andreas Lubitz was mentally ill while Chris Kyle was a “war hero”? If you look at it rationally, Andreas Lubitz killed 149 people who he barely knew and had no personal animosity against. Chris Kyle also killed ~ 165 people (one by one) who he almost certainly did not know and had no personal animosity against. Also what was Chris Kyle doing in Iraq anyway? And this brings us to the difference in what motivated both men. Andreas Lubitz probably just wanted to attain some degree of posthumous fame (or infamy) otherwise he could have killed just himself. Chris Kyle killed for money, bragging rights, fame and more money after retiring from the army. Sure, he did it under the guise of performing his “duty”, “patriotism” and other similar bullshit reasons.

Yet most people think that Andreas Lubitz was mentally ill for killing 149 people along with himself. Curiously, they also believe that Chris Kyle was a sane, selfless and humane “war hero” who was defending them from “bad people” inspite of the fact that nobody from Iraq posed any real threat to them. They also forget or gloss over the fact that USA was the real aggressor in that war and Iraqis were merely defending themselves from the aggressor.

If the extent of disconnection from (or willful ignorance of) reality correlates with the severity of mental illness, the average person in USA and Chris Kyle would be seen as far more mentally ill than Andreas Lubitz.

What do you think? Comments?

On the Expose by Seymour Hersh on the Osama Bin Laden Killing

May 11, 2015 3 comments

Many of you might have heard about the recent expose by Seymour Hersh on the official government story about the american raid that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden. As usual, the white house has issued a statement calling it “utter nonsense”. A few supposedly left-wing journalists have tried to refute the accusations made in the expose by making ad hominem attacks on Hersh. Others seem to have taken a more sympathetic attitude towards the accusations made by Hersh. Still other basically agree with his expose, but with some caveats.

In my opinion, the basic framework and course of events presented in the Hersh expose on the bin Laden killing are infinitely more plausible than the action-movie script published by the american government and promoted by its presstitutes. Here is why..

1: As some have noted, the basic narrative and main points of Seymour Hersh’s expose on the bin Laden killing are not new. Infact, another well-known journalist published a very similar series of reports on that event in August 2011, less than three months after the event. The journalist in question- R.J. Hillhouse is a former professor, Fulbright fellow and novelist whose writing on intelligence and military outsourcing has appeared in the Washington Post and New York Times wrote that bin Laden was betrayed by an informant from the main intelligence agency of Pakistan on August 7, 2011. She wrote a further update to that piece, a few days later, on August 11, 2011 in which she once again talked about the Saudis paying Pakistan for keeping bin Laden alive and under government surveillance. While a few newspapers outside the USA and many internet websites did carry this story, it was largely ignored by the “main stream media” in USA- both on the right and left.

2: The basic chain of events described by both Hersh and Hillhouse are almost identical, though they did not get information from the same sources. Moreover, they do fit the real nature of the relationships between USA, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. As some of you might know, Pakistan was a client state of the USA from the early 1950s to 1972, when it realized that all the weapons and assurances of support from the USA could not prevent it from being defeated (and humiliated) by India. Since then, Pakistan has been increasingly dependent on Saudi money and Chinese weapons to keep itself from falling apart. Now this does not mean that Pakistani elite are averse to getting money and weapons from the USA. Indeed, they has no problems with doing all that as long as it serves their own interests. Also, all organisations contain more than a few greedy and duplicitous people, who would drop their proverbial trousers for the right price.

3: Though Pakistan has elections and is officially run by a democratically elected government, the armed forces and its intelligence agencies have always been the real and unaccountable power in that country. Even worse, there are many factions within those two organisations, who frequently work at cross purposes if large financial considerations are at stake. The idea that bin Laden was kept as a guest of one (or more) of those factions in exchange for payments from the Saudis and as leverage over some factions of the Taliban is therefore extremely feasible. Pakistani elite have no interest in letting Afghanistan remain peaceful or become a less regressive society because that would kill their cash,weapon and influence cow from the USA.

4: We also cannot forget that Saudi Arabia is a frenemy of the USA. Though it requires the support and security provided by USA, its own internal situation and dynastic policies result in it spending tens of billions each year to support islamic militancy and extremists all round the world. It is perfectly plausible, and even desirable, for them to have paid Pakistan for keeping bin Laden alive- especially if doing so would allow them to influence his actions. Furthermore, the peculiar master-slave like relationship between the higher echelons of the Saudi and Pakistani administrative are not exactly secret. Some of you might have heard that Saudi Arabia paid for part of Pakistan’s nuclear weapon program and is expected to receive a few ready-made warheads from it if Iran ever becomes a declared nuclear power.

5: It is also no secret that USA has no significant independent human intelligence assets in Pakistan. I mean, they have tons of assets- but almost every single one works in collaboration with somebody in one of the many factions in the armed forces and intelligence agency of that country. Also, the whole idea that a person like bin Laden could have purchased, built and lived in a large house in one of the poshest and most exclusive army towns in Pakistan without drawing attention from nosy neighbors is very hard to believe. I mean, that whole town is crawling with the security details of all those Pakistani elite who maintain their exclusive summer homes in that town. Do you really think that all those people living in Abbottabad were that stupid, incompetent or oblivious for many years?

6: The whole idea that you can fly two large, low-observability but NOT stealth, helicopters into a town crawling with security details, army personal and defended by multiple air defense systems (including non-USA sourced radar and weaponry) without raising any alarms is laughable- at the very least. I mean, even some guy living a km or two away from that house who was live tweeting the event remarked about the noise caused by these supposedly stealthy “top-secret” american helicopters. You cannot seriously believe that nobody in a town crawling with army personal noticed something very odd about all those noise and commotion at that location and put two plus two together. Either more than a few people in that town knew exactly what was going down or that town is filled with retarded and partially deaf people.

7: The killing of bin Laden in May 2011 did give all the involved parties an easy way out of what would otherwise have been a PR disaster. The USA, and Obama, got their Hollywood action movie ending and bragging rights for killing that guy. Pakistani elites were able to avoid a public, and likely costly, spectacle. Also, some of them received extra money and other favors from the USA in return their cooperation. The Saudis were able to quietly wash their hands of the whole affair and maintain their public facade. I mean, doing it the way they did it in the end was likely the most profitable and easy route for all the major players in that game. Everybody except that guy was happier at the end of that day.

It is therefore my opinion that the basic facts and narrative framework of the report by Seymour Hersh (and R.J. Hillhouse) are consistent with what we know about the countries, organisations and individuals involved in that event, including their motivations to do what is described by both of those journalists. The “official” story, on the other hand, requires potential believers to suspend their critical thinking abilities.

What do you think? Comments?

How Blacks Stopped Caring about Respectability and Acceptability

May 8, 2015 27 comments

One of the more peculiar, if often ignored, feature of recent popular protests that have followed many of the seemingly routine extrajudicial executions of black men by cops and white vigilantes in the USA has been the profile of those killed. To put it another way, the majority of black protesters are no longer restrained by CONservative and LIEbral whites talking about the so-called “criminal histories” of those that were murdered. While some white readers of this post might believe that this was always the norm- even a little honest historical research will clearly show otherwise.

What changed? Why have so many blacks (especially those born after 1980) stopped caring about appearing respectable and acceptable to whites? Why haven’t the supposed “criminal histories” and “public personas” of Trayvon Martin, Micheal Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurle and Freddie Gray NOT put a damper on demands for justice for their executions? And perhaps more interestingly, why did so many blacks from previous eras and generations strive for white respectability and acceptability? As I will show you in the rest of this post- all those questions are closely linked to each other.

If you have ever read about the peaceful black civil rights movement from the 1950s and 1960s, it is hard to miss that many leaders of that movement went to great lengths to ensure that plaintiffs in cases of racial discrimination had a “socially acceptable”, “respectable” and “gentle” demeanor. This desire by blacks for “respectability” and “acceptability” by whites intensified after the 1960s and went on well into the late 1990s and early 2000s, when for some inexplicable reason, it started to quickly fade away.

You might have noticed that a lot of popular (and rich) black entertainers from the now-disgraced Bill Cosby, Eddy Murphy, Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Chris Rock, Tyler Perry and Dave Chappelle made a lot of money by either playing “respectable” black men or by criticizing “all those other” black men. Similarly a lot of political figures from Barack Obama and Colin Powell to almost every black cop they interview on TV after some black guy was murdered by cops try to avoid the central issue by talking about education, respectability, acceptability and other assorted bullshit.

So, what is going on? Why did most blacks initially embrace the idea that respectability and acceptability would somehow result in “true” equality with whites? Why did this quest for respectability and acceptability strengthen after the civil rights movement only to collapse in the last decade? And why did it collapse?

The genesis of the idea that respectability and acceptability would somehow result in “true” equality with whites is probably the easiest to understand. It probably came about due to a peculiar side-effect of post-1865 american apartheid. Basically, most white people who interacted with blacks (especially in northern states) came in two flavors- a minority who treated black people well and the majority who treated blacks as subhuman but did not have the balls to be honest about it. Consequently many blacks, who had limited exposure to white hypocrisy, wanted to believe that the racist majority of whites might ultimately them as equals like the non-racist minority did if only they could somehow show themselves to be respectable and acceptable. It goes without saying the racist white majority fed that lie by pretending to believe in it and treating supplicant blacks a bit better than those with self-respect.

Ironically, the aftermath of the civil rights movement as the numerous anti-discrimination legislations passed in that era in combination with the growing economy did actually increase the quality of life for a substantial percentage of the black population in USA. This trend maintained momentum through the 1980s and even the 1990s until it hit a series of not-so-unexpected roadblocks.

The first and most obvious roadblock was the massive increase in incarceration, socially sanctioned extrajudicial executions and legalized discrimination that followed the “war on drugs”. It is now no secret the so-called “war on drugs” was about reestablishing the ‘Jim Crow’ quo. However many blacks who had benefited from the civil rights movement were initially unwilling to see the “war on drugs” for what it really was. They thought that acting respectable and gaining more social acceptability would somehow insulate them from the abuse of ‘Jim Crow 2.0′.

Well.. it sorta did that for a time, especially during the 1980s. However the “war on drugs” kept on growing in scope and soon expanded into increasingly aggressive, violent and militarized policing of black-majority neighborhoods. Of course.. this was to justified under the guise of protecting “good and respectable” blacks from drug crazed and violent “n***ers”. By the later half of the 1990s, the children of “respectable” blacks found out that the police were incapable and not really interested in distinguishing between them and their “drug-dealing” poor counterparts.

However the biggest and most important blow to the idea that most whites are decent human beings came from a completely different source- namely, an increase in real life interactions with whites. You see, the most far-reaching effect of the civil rights movement was that it resulted in a vast and almost unprecedented increase in daily interactions between whites and blacks. Prior to the late 1960s, whites were able to exclude blacks from most of their lives and could therefore pretend to be more honest and nicer than they were. The ability to exclude blacks fell rapidly after 1965 and in the next two decades many got a chance to find out what white people really were like. The growth and spread of the internet after 1995 allowed blacks to appreciate the extent and depth of white racism.

Consequently the vast majority of black people born in the last 30 odd years have a very good and accurate understanding of what white people actually think about them. They understand that white racism is not driven by anything beyond the sadistic desire to hurt and kill more vulnerable people. They understand that whites hate blacks because they are alive. They understand that all that talk about education, respectability and social acceptability is just a smoke screen that whites use to justify racial discrimination. They also understand that whites are a rapidly aging and declining part of the population whose glory days are now just a memory. It is now a waiting game or failing that one of attrition- something that the rest of humanity is now as good at as whites used to be.

What do you think? Comments?

Two Dystopic Themes Running Through “The Big Bang Theory” Sitcom

April 19, 2015 17 comments

First, a quick word about the title of this post. I am aware that it was not the best, most concise or most accurate description of what I am about to discuss. But it will have to do (for the time being) since the post is far more important than its title. So let us begin..

As many of you might know, “humorous” sitcoms with outrageous extrapolations of reality (other than sex, violence and grittiness) have been a staple of network TV since its inception. These shows can usually be identified by their tired laugh tracks (or forced live-audience laughs), almost exclusively indoor settings, supposedly “witty” dialogue and highly contrived situations. Shows on this genre were extremely popular from the beginning of broadcast TV to the early 2000s when they began to lose their prominent place in the public imagination to “reality” TV shows.

I can give you many reasons why sitcoms have always been worthless crap and why the successors aka “reality” shows are no better- but that is best discussed in another post. This particular post is about the accidental (and I suspect, unintentional) depictions of dystopic reality in one of the still successful holdouts of the “sitcom” age- The Big Bang Theory aka TBBT.

Sitcoms, by their very design, are not supposed to depict reality, or anything even approaching it, as there are the escapist entertainment of plebs in developed countries. Unfortunately, the real world has a tendency to bypass even the best attempts to stop it from making itself apparent. Sitcoms usually handle this by trying to sugarcoat some really obvious aspect of reality or just skip onto to the next zany contrived situation. Yet aspects of reality that are not specifically targeted for suppression often sneak into supposedly humorous and feel good crap.

Many premises of TBBT have been criticized for a few years now, as have the supposedly negative depictions of certain groups in it- Link 1, Link 2, Link 3. You can find more of such critical articles, as well as a few supportive ones, by using Google. Now, I largely agree with much of the criticism leveled at this show. However whatever little I have seen of this show (largely through channel surfing) also suggests that it, perhaps accidentally, depicts some pretty realistic and dystopic stuff.

One of the two major dystopic theme running through the general storyline of TBBT concerns how the characters (specifically ‘nerds’) treat each other. It seems that each of the supposedly high-IQ nerd characters are always just an opportunity away from betraying or murdering the others, even if the gains are very small or temporary. While this premise is used by the show to develop ever more convoluted and eyeball-grabbing storylines, it is far closer to the lives of the real-life counterparts of the characters than anybody would dare admit.

One of the main reason behind my contempt for most academics, scientists and pretty anyone who measures their self-worth by jumping artificial hoops is that such endeavors tend to concentrate the most pathetic, short-sighted, egoistic, backstabbing, backbiting and yet largely powerless pieces of shit I ever had the misfortune to encounter. Even worse, most STEMers are stupid and gullible enough to be enthusiastic tools for any sociopath who can flatter or tempt them with insultingly small rewards. STEMers love to denigrate, betray and abuse fellow STEMers- especially if they believe that such actions might win them some imaginary brownie points (and acceptance) by sociopaths.

Readers might have noticed that most episodes of that show center around somebody in the group trying to screw over, sabotage or berate, its other members. Such mindsets, attitudes and behaviors are far closer to reality than most people (including STEMers) would like to believe. Curiously, it also show the rather bizarre phenomena of STEMers hanging out and pretending to be friendly with the very people they want to denigrate, betray and abuse.

The second dystopic theme running through the show concerns the arrested development (personal and professional) of its main characters. If you have seen enough snippets of that show over the years, it is obvious that none of the main characters possess the ability to actually make some large or innovative contribution to their field of knowledge. This is so inspite of their supposed high-IQs, “ivy-league”/”top-15″ educational pedigree or even access to enough resources.

Sadly, or not, their inability to achieve any of their personal intellectual milestones mirrors the real and accelerating decline in scientific productivity in developed countries- especially the USA. The real world drop in real innovation and progress started in the late 1970s- at almost the same time educational and research institutions started using proxies of ability such as metrics and pedigree to determine funding and promotion. The false scarcity of resources and reliance on proxy measurements of ability which characterize science and similar endeavors today favored their domination by pathetic, petty, aspy and uncreative but impressive sounding witty losers/tools.

Characters in that show also display signs of personal arrested development, which while often played for laughs does sadly (or not) mirror the very real trend of STEMers being increasingly obsessed with their “jobs”, “credentials”, “careers” and other imaginary bullshit. It is as if they (or even the non-STEMer characters on that show) are increasingly living in a make-believe world because they are terrified of what lies beyond the decaying prison of the status quo they so desperately want to hold on to. Perhaps, part of that show’s persistence and popularity are due to its dystopic undertones.

What do you think? Comments?


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