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Interesting Links: July 1, 2015

Here are links to a couple of long and interesting news articles that I came across today. They are about two issues which appear to be unconnected, but in reality are just two diverse manifestations of the same basic problem- which I hope to write about in my upcoming posts.

Link 1: XKEYSCORE- NSA’S Google for the World’s Private Communications

XKEYSCORE allows for incredibly broad surveillance of people based on perceived patterns of suspicious behavior. It is possible, for instance, to query the system to show the activities of people based on their location, nationality and websites visited. For instance, one slide displays the search “germansinpakistn,” showing an analyst querying XKEYSCORE for all individuals in Pakistan visiting specific German language message boards. As sites like Twitter and Facebook become increasingly significant in the world’s day-to-day communications (a Pew study shows that 71 percent of online adults in the U.S. use Facebook), they become a critical source of surveillance data. Traffic from popular social media sites is described as “a great starting point” for tracking individuals, according to an XKEYSCORE presentation titled “Tracking Targets on Online Social Networks.”

The NSA’s ability to piggyback off of private companies’ tracking of their own users is a vital instrument that allows the agency to trace the data it collects to individual users. It makes no difference if visitors switch to public Wi-Fi networks or connect to VPNs to change their IP addresses: the tracking cookie will follow them around as long as they are using the same web browser and fail to clear their cookies. Apps that run on tablets and smartphones also use analytics services that uniquely track users. Almost every time a user sees an advertisement (in an app or in a web browser), the ad network is tracking users in the same way. A secret GCHQ and CSE program called BADASS, which is similar to XKEYSCORE but with a much narrower scope, mines as much valuable information from leaky smartphone apps as possible, including unique tracking identifiers that app developers use to track their own users. In May of this year, CBC, in partnership with The Intercept, revealed that XKEYSCORE was used to track smartphone connections to the app marketplaces run by Samsung and Google. Surveillance agency analysts also use other types of traffic data that gets scooped into XKEYSCORE to track people, such as Windows crash reports.

Given the breadth of information collected by XKEYSCORE, accessing and exploiting a target’s online activity is a matter of a few mouse clicks. Brossard explains: “The amount of work an analyst has to perform to actually break into remote computers over the Internet seems ridiculously reduced — we are talking minutes, if not seconds. Simple. As easy as typing a few words in Google.” These facts bolster one of Snowden’s most controversial statements, made in his first video interview published by The Guardian on June 9, 2013. “I, sitting at my desk,” said Snowden, could “wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge to even the president, if I had a personal email.” Indeed, training documents for XKEYSCORE repeatedly highlight how user-friendly the program is: with just a few clicks, any analyst with access to it can conduct sweeping searches simply by entering a person’s email address, telephone number, name or other identifying data. There is no indication in the documents reviewed that prior approval is needed for specific searches. In addition to login credentials and other target intelligence, XKEYSCORE collects router configuration information, which it shares with Tailored Access Operations. The office is able to exploit routers and then feed the traffic traveling through those routers into their collection infrastructure. This allows the NSA to spy on traffic from otherwise out-of-reach networks. XKEYSCORE documents reference router configurations, and a document previously published by Der Spiegel shows that “active implants” can be used to “cop[y] traffic and direc[t]” it past a passive collector.

Link 2: Cruel and All-Too-Usual

Cell extractions are supposed to be a last resort—say, when an inmate is attempting suicide. In a well-run facility, a staff member will knock on the door and attempt to reason with a prisoner who is not following orders. But Steve J. Martin, a corrections consultant, explained that with militarized teams on call, supervisors became accustomed to using them for minor matters, too. Refusal to return a food tray, for instance, is a surprisingly common reason cited by prisons. In a bad facility, “staff like to do cell extractions because it’s an excuse to kick the crap out of inmates,” said Jeffrey Schwartz, a correctional consultant who has advised prisons on disciplinary policies. “There is no question that many cell extractions are unnecessary and avoidable.” Schwartz called the procedure used against Jamie “wrong and clearly dangerous.” “The female inmate is choking as they first put her down on the bunk, and she is also yelling for them to get off of her,” he said. “The staff should have stopped what they were doing and gotten a medical staff member to the scene immediately.” Pressing the spit guard over her face, he added, increased the chance that Jamie could “have a panic attack” or “vomit and asphyxiate with vomit in her airways.”

In November 2013, months after PREA implementation began, Michigan interviewed teenage inmates held at Thumb Correctional to see if they felt safe. In affidavits collected by Michigan as part of the lawsuit, most said they did. However, one said that in September, a guard had told him he would “rape my fat ass if I wasn’t 17.” Another 17-year-old inmate said, “[A]bout three weeks ago, an officer … told me that he was going to make sure I go up North to be fucked in the ass.” Overall, reported assaults by staff are rarely penalized. Between 2010 and 2013, Michigan received 1,122 allegations from inmates of staff sexual harassment. They substantiated 10 of them.Some kids later signed affidavits saying that they had been pressured by Michigan to participate in the interviews and even threatened with isolation. (An attorney for Michigan called the claims of intimidation “absolutely false.”) One wrote to his lawyer, “I sign a paper without reading it and was mad because I didn’t realize he was using [his] power to trick me.” Terry Kupers, a psychiatrist who reviewed the interviews for the plaintiffs, said that the state violated “every single point in the protocol” for interviewing sexual assault survivors and was “very unlikely to uncover the truth.”

On May 1, I went to see Max again. He had been removed from the housing unit with the dogs and sent to solitary for punching an inmate, an assault he said he didn’t commit. (His accuser told me in a letter, “He hit me soo hard,” although another inmate on the scene testified that he hadn’t seen Max fight with anyone.) His lawyers said they believe evidence will show that Max has been retaliated against for his participation in the lawsuit and willingness to speak to the press, and plan to address the matter in court. When Max found out he was going back to segregation, he lost it. He lashed out against staff members, earning more misconduct tickets. In separate lawsuits filed against Max’s facility last year, two inmates allege that after they reported officer wrongdoing, they were targeted with numerous forms of retaliation, including “unprovoked beatings, gassings, forced cell extractions, food and water deprivation, extended deprivation of basic hygiene and health care, and fabricated misconduct tickets.” MDOC responded in a legal filing that “the injuries and damages sustained by Plaintiffs, if any, were solely or partly a result of their own conduct.” On April 14, as the video below shows, he was forcibly put on suicide watch for “making threats of self harm.” He refused to submit to a strip search—he told me that taking his clothes off in front of the guards gives him flashbacks to his sexual assaults—and was gassed with chemical spray. When I saw the video, I could hardly believe it was the same person. In our conversations, he was calm and straightforward, chatting about playing basketball and football growing up. In the video he is naked, yelling and crying, the burly officers eyeing him like a wild animal.

What do you think? Comments?

Interesting Links: May 22, 2015

May 22, 2015 7 comments

Here are links to some interesting news articles that I came across today. They are all about the most recent exposure of Josh Duggar’s propensity to sexually molest barely pubescent girls, including his biological sisters. Then again, what else would you expect from a white guy who keeps talking about his family values, his piety, his righteousness and other self-delusional bullshit. I should also mention that he was one of main public faces of a right-wing group called the “Family Research Council”, though on second thought- he has certainly researched some of his underage sisters pretty thoroughly.

Link 1: The Web Has Known About Josh Duggar for Years. When Did TLC Find Out?

Reading a Springdale police report filed in 2006 and released by InTouch yesterday, it seems clear Jim Bob and Michelle knew about Josh’s misconduct from the beginning—and helped him avoid prosecution. But they weren’t the only ones who knew of Josh’s predation. So did Oprah Winfrey, her producers, the Springdale Police Department—and, apparently, a huge community of message board posters online. All of which raises the question: When did Discovery Communications—the corporate parent of Discovery Health and TLC, which has profited off of every Duggar birth, courtship, and marriage announcement—find out?

Though Jim Bob and Michelle decidedly hid Josh’s misconduct from the press and protected him from arrest, the secret had gotten out. They told police in 2006 that “several members of their church were aware of the situation and had been supportive of the family.” In May 2007, the allegations surfaced online in a comment on a blog about the Duggars.

Alice added, “God’s honest truth that the molestation happened. It happened to four of his 5 sisters. The oldest daughter was not touched. The second daughter is the one who caught him doing this. There was no rape involved, but molested. I could go into detail, but I won’t. Of course, you can find nothing about the charges. The Duggar’s want to keep this hid. Wouldn’t you?” Since then, Duggar fans and haters have obsessively discussed these allegations on message boards like FreeJinger.org, a tongue-in-cheek anti-fundamentalist message board dedicated to watching and examining the Duggars. “Alice”’s comment wasn’t the only source of the rumor. A commenter on a 2005 blog (now inaccessible, but preserved here on FreeJinger) alleged misconduct by an anonymous son of a “political” man and leader at her church.

Link 2: Jim Duggar didn’t Report Son Josh’s Alleged Sex Offenses for More than a Year

Other bombshells in the police report are: Josh Duggar was investigated for multiple sex offenses — including forcible fondling — against five minors. Some of the alleged offenses investigated were felonies. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar were interview by the Springdale Police department on Dec. 12, 2006. The report says that James told police he was alerted in March, 2002 by a female minor that Josh — who turned 14-years-old that month — had been touching her breasts and genitals while she slept. This allegedly happened on multiple occasions.

In 2006, Jim Bob told police that in July, 2002 Josh admitted to fondling a minor’s breasts while she slept. “James said that they disciplined (redacted, Josh) after this incident.” The family did not alert authorities.Jim Bob told police that about nine months later in March, 2003 “there was another incident.” Josh was again accused by a female minor of touching her breasts and genitals. Josh was accused by several minors of touching their genitals, often when they slept, but at times when they were awake.

Jim Bob told police in 2006 that when Josh returned home in 2003, Jim Bob, accompanied by some of his church elders, took Josh to Arkansas State Trooper, Jim Hutchens. Jim Bob knew Hutchens personally. Hutchens did not take any official action and instead gave Josh a “very stern talk.” As In Touch magazine reports exclusively in this week’s issue, Hutchens is now serving 56-years in prison for child pornography. He took no action on the Duggar case.

Link 3: Judge orders Josh Duggar’s record destroyed

Arkansas police have destroyed a record outlining a nearly decade-old investigation into reality TV star Josh Duggar, a spokesman said Friday, a day after the 27-year-old resigned his role with a prominent conservative Christian group amid reports about sexual misconduct allegations from when he was a juvenile. The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which obtained the offense report before its destruction, reports Duggar was accused of fondling five girls in 2002 and 2003. Duggar issued an apology Thursday on Facebook for unspecified bad behavior as a youth and resigned his role as executive director for FRC Action, the tax-exempt legislative action arm of the Washington-based Family Research Council.

Springdale Police spokesman Scott Lewis said Judge Stacey Zimmerman ordered the 2006 offense report destroyed Thursday. Zimmerman didn’t return a request for comment on Friday. “The judge ordered us yesterday to expunge that record,” Lewis said, adding that similar records are typically kept indefinitely. “As far as the Springdale Police Department is concerned this report doesn’t exist.” Neither Duggar nor his father, a former state representative, returned calls seeking comment Friday.

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?

Willing Believers in Imaginary Entities Deserve Abuse and Destruction

April 4, 2015 20 comments

I recently came across an article in ‘The Atlantic’ which tried to make an insipid case that people should not get outraged by the actions of morons who justify discrimination against other people based on their own interpretation of literary works of unclear authorship. The writer of that particular article was trying to make the case that many of those who discriminate against other groups are not “bad” people. According to him, they could even be family-minded Mormons, devout Hispanic women or Muslim immigrants.

While that line of reasoning might suffice for some idiots, it has a huge and fatal flaw. As many of you know, the vast majority of people who committed state-sanctioned genocides (including the ‘final solution’ under the Nazis) were also devout, hard-working and family-minded people who just wanted a well-paying job. It just happened to be the case that their jobs centered around systemic mass murder of people who had not personally wronged them.

The same is true of all those “good” Spanish who committed genocide in south and central america. Similarly all those whites who committed direct and indirect genocide in north america and then built their lifestyle on the backs and corpses of black slaves might also have been devout, family-minded people.

My point is that excusing the repeated intentional actions of people because they are “devout”, “hard-working” and “family-minded” displays a level of sophism and spinelessness that only a liberal could attain. This is especially so when those injured or killed by the actions of all those self-righteous people have not previously harmed them in any measurable manner. It is even more so when personal interpretations of books with unclear authorship are the justification for the such behavior and actions.

Here is another way to look at the issue..

How many of you would support the right of a person to discriminate against, or kill, other people based on the voices he heard in his (or her) head? Most religious traditions in existence today can trace their origin to some divine communication conveniently revealed only to the founder of that particular religion. So.. what is the real difference between people who hurt or kill others based on the voices in their heads and those who do so because they are allegedly following the unfaithfully transcribed beliefs of a long-dead person who supposedly heard voices in his head?

And this raises an even more troublesome question.. Why would anybody live their life according to the text of a book that makes clearly unfulfillable promises to its readers? Would you keep on voluntarily giving your time or money to any person or organisation that cannot deliver on even its most basic promises? So why is religion (traditional or secular) or an ideology any different? How many of the true believers in ideologies as diverse as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Capitalism or Communism have received any of the promised benefits of believing in them?

So why do people believe, and take pride, in advertising their strong belief in such obvious scams?

A couple of previous posts by me, Link 1 and Link 2, I have put forth the idea that belief in religion or ideology is about creating a justification for abusing, scamming, stealing, raping and murdering other people. Perhaps most humans have an insatiable need to hurt and kill other people but do not have the metaphorical balls to do so on their own account. They therefore require the external justification provided by any scrap of paper or the ravings of another person to hurt and kill other people.

Then there is the issue of reducing the chance of reprisal for carrying out such actions.

Cloaking sadistic and murderous desires in the name of religion and ideology allows it be legalized and reduces the chance of reprisal from those hurt by said actions. Killing people publicly labelled as “unbelievers”, “non-muricans”, “terrorists” makes it sound justifiable and “right”. Similarly stealing and abusing people because they are “non-whites”, “have low IQ” etc apparently sounds more reasonable than doing it because you are a piece of shit.

Nor is such solipsistic behavior restricted to whites, as it is trivial to find obvious examples of similar behavior in every group, society and race in the world. You can find desperately poor and sick people who want to hurt and kill others more vulnerable than them in the name of some leader , ideology or religion in every part of the world and at all times in human history.

That is why I do not care if the true believer of any ideology (or follower of any leader) is white, black, brown or blue. Nor do I care about the merits of their ideology, society and culture. Those who deliberately prey on more vulnerable people are extermination-worthy crap. They do not represent any hope, and are incapable of creating, a better future. Left to their own devices they will be never be able to transcend the human condition.

It is for this reason that pondering on the justness of the treatment received by those who discriminate against people who have not demonstrably injured them (be they devout mormons, catholic hispanics or muslims) is a worthless exercise. If anything, the continued existence and prosperity of eunuchoid assholes who require the cover of external ideology to justify their sadistic behavior is an indictment of humans as a species.

What do you think? Comments?

A Video Montage of the Wolfenstein Video Game Series from 1981-2014

March 28, 2015 3 comments

I found this video clip sometime ago and wanted to write a post about it. Well.. the post might take some more time, so here is the clip.

A few important notes: 1] The quality of video gameplay has not really improved since 2001. 2] Pretty much all improvements in computational power since 2001 have been used to sex up the ‘action and explosions’ component rather than improve the depth of the storyline or quality of gameplay. 3] Since 2001, the storylines themselves have become more simplistic, unrealistic and action movie-like.

What do you think? Comments?

Categories: Musings, Technology, YouTube

Cultural Cognitive Dissonance and Reactions to Games like “Hatred”

March 22, 2015 11 comments

One of the more interesting and, in my opinion, innovative FPS being developed at this moment is a FPS video game known as “Hatred“. The overall story-line of this game can be best summarized as..

In Hatred, a shooter video game presented in isometric perspective, the player-character is a mass-killer who hates humanity and begins a “genocide crusade” to kill civilians and police officers. He can also use these individuals as human shields.

By now, most readers must have correctly guessed that development of this game has been more than a bit controversial. Media reactions to its development and imminent release have been rather.. diverse. Some presstitutes claim that this game showcases all that is wrong with the gaming industry. Other presstitutes claim that it has crossed a “moral boundary”. Yet others want to see it banned, something they nearly succeeded at before failing miserably.

But why are so many presstitutes getting their proverbial panties in a knot about a video game that is in many ways identical to other FPS games. I mean.. games where you can kill (usually shoot) other people have been one of the most popular and financially successful category of video games. So what makes a game like “Hatred” different from a game in the Wolfenstein, Doom, Half-Life, Call of Duty or Far Cry series? Nor is the trope of an amoral killer something new. The “Hitman” game series is centered around an amoral assassin killing people for money AND you can kill any character in that game series as long as your character can survive the consequences of his actions.

So why are all these presstitutes hating on “Hatred”? Also, more curiously, why do so many gamers find the central premise of this game somewhat disturbing?

As I will show you in the rest of this post, the public reactions to that game exposes one of the central cognitive dissonances characterizing human “civilization”. So let us start our analysis of public reactions to this game with a simple question. Why does this particular game elicit such a strong negative reaction from so many tools.. I mean.. people?

As I have mentioned before, many of later titles in the “Hitman” series are not that different from “Hatred”- in overall concept and style of gameplay. While titles in the “Hitman” series have been controversial in the past- they have never elicited the large-scale public reaction that “Hatred” has managed to elicit. But why? or to be more precise- why not?

What makes an open-ended game where an emotionally stunted guy kills for money significantly less controversial than one in which a guy kills for his own personal beliefs and views on humanity?

In a previous series of posts about what I really think about human beings as a species, I had made a number of points relevant to the current post. Two points especially relevant to this post goes something like this..

Human beings seem to be actively driven a unscratchable itch to hurt, abuse, enslave and kill others even if they stand to gain very little from it.

All religions and popular ideologies are about rationalizing and sanctifying the abuse, robbery, murder and coercion of those labelled as “others”.

Put together, they provide the first reasonable explanation as to why “Hatred” elicits so much more negative social reaction than something like “Hitman: Blood Money“. Endless acquisition of money and performing a job irrespective of the consequences of your actions are important sacraments of the secular religion of capitalism. Therefore killing other people for the sole purpose of making money, regardless of the rationale behind doing so, is perfectly acceptable to a believer in the secular religion of capitalism- especially its american variant.

A game like “Hatred” on the other hand has a protagonist who kills because he personally hates what those whom he kills represent. He is not doing it for money, love, fame, honor, fame, religion or any other stupid bullshit that most people want to believe in to justify their actions. Also, he is not taking orders from anyone else nor is he working to further the career or financial aspirations of somebody else.

His actions are an overt and obvious repudiation of the central sacraments and tenets of the dominant secular religion of our era, aka modern nation-state supported corporate capitalism.

But it gets better.. or worse, depending on how you look at it. By not invoking socially acceptable reasons for killing innocent people, such as nationalism or contrived explanations based around self-defense, the character of the protagonist exposes the emptiness of those beliefs and explanations. Take nationalism as an example. What kind of moron would go and kill people on the other side of the world when he has never met them in real life or has directly suffered because of their actions. But then again.. look at human history.

Almost every single war in history was fought by people who did not have personal enmities with those they fought against to benefit those who facilitated that confrontation. Yet, human “civilization” spends a lot of time trying to glorify the sacrifices of tools who die or get crippled to further enrich a few. Now, such glorifications and exhalations rarely include worthwhile financial compensation- but that is another story.

My point is, human “civilization” is totally OK with people killing other people in the name of personally useless concepts such religion, nation or race. It is also OK with committing genocide as long as it based on taking orders from others. It is also OK with slavery and mass incarceration of certain racial groups as long it is profitable for a few. But it is not OK with a person killing others just because he personally hates them.

So what does all of this say about the true nature of human “civilization”, “culture” or any of the other pretenses most human beings cling to? Think about it.. I have, and it is not flattering- to put it mildly. Such an analysis also exposes the complete moral relativism underlying belief systems that pretend (and advertise themselves) to be based in real or absolute truths.

What do you think? Comments?

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