So you asked me:
"Why would a civilian living peacefully need a semi automatic gun?"
So we're going to play a game of reason. You first need to ask me a question and then I will answer. Then we will switch. Ready? OK.
M: Ask me if I've ever been ass raped by a booty busting faggot.
M: Go ahead, ask me.
Y: Have you ever been ass raped by a booty busting faggot?
M: No, my ass is just fine. Now it's my turn to ask you a question. I'm going to ask you if you have ever been shot in the ass by a maniacal gun toting vigilante. Just so. Have you ever been shot in the ass by a maniacal gun toting vigilante?
M: How's your ass?
Y: None of your business.
M: Come on, say the words.
Y: My ass is just fine, asshole.
M: Now I make a statement. I say all American citizens have the Constitutional right to do what they like with their dicks, so long as my ass is just fine.
Y: I know what you're trying to do here. There's really no parallel. Guns are designed to kill people.
M: Do you really want to get into a discussion about what the penis is designed for?
Y: I'm not going to say it.
M: Yeah well that's why I don't respect your opinions.
Y: I'm unfriending you.
M: Please, don't let me stand in the way of your contradictions.
America is an aggregated society. The American exists as an individual, but the nation has become rather indifferent to the individual and the common man. America may be too large for it to be any other way.
Earlier this week I wrote about why America works for stupid people. It may have been interpreted as Darwinist, but it is not. It identifies the inorganic, the incorporated nature of what we build in our consumer economy. We act as markets and our actions are interpreted by business enterprises which exert inordinate influence on our social lives. But our non-market actions, our political, moral and social actions, even those have been monetized and marketized. This doesn't exactly dehumanize us, it actually distributes a great deal of arts and crafts through our society. But this marketization and corporatization of our social forces does do a bit of damage.
I view this situation primarily through the lens of what I call Aggregation. Aggregation is 'farming a greater portion of the long tail'. We are putting more people and things onto a market grid of understanding for the purposes of business. As the man in '12 Angry Men' said, we throw things up the flagpole and see who salutes. We throw things out onto the front porch to see if the cat licks it up. We build clickholes and honey pots. We bait the consumer with bright lights and big cities and convert the meaningless into markets going after disposable income. We feed him food in a box. This is an inflationary process whose key symptoms are 'bullshit jobs' and 'edutainment'. We pay people to do things that are optional in order that they might buy things that are optional, and in all that thrash we exacerbate the inequality of market-makers and market participants.
At this point in our country's history, we have done so much of this that our private enterprise is no longer self-sustaining. The direction of private enterprise has gotten so far afield of providing the necessary ingredients for the common man into the realm of accoutrements and fashions that we collectively have become incompetent at the basics. These are outsourced industries. We graduate millions of high school kids who want to play video games and drive automobiles but have actually never seen computer source code or a drill press. The result is that the common sense of providing the basics has also fallen to the government which is compelled to tax private enterprise even more.
The problem is the inflation which is inherent in the desire to provide a high standard of living and leisure for everyone. We cannot afford it.
But I see the greater damage in the rendering of the individual into a receiver of commodities, the quality and nature of which are dubious. Certainly it stands to reason that the woman who spends too much money on makeup only finds the lesser man. Surely the man who buys trophies is only fooling himself. But can we really stand to watch millions adopt such false identities as human beings? This is the dilemma of the Humanities and I'm beginning to blame them for not being up to the task of creating enough compelling materials and concepts to break through this identity crisis.
We must find a way to rebel against the dehumanizing aspects of Aggregation firstly by leaving people be. We need to squelch crusading zealots for marginal causes while realizing champions are necessary. You cannot cure hunger in some developing nation by sending the profits of trendy shoe sales. You cannot cure debilitating diseases by solititing donations via viral videos. People have to do work. We must leverage the actual work of millions of the common man in order to accomplish that which benefits the common man. In other words, we must leave him to his own interests and not distract him with inflationary trinkets and make-work.
The implications are that we will not have some lofty 'attainables' in society, but that which we do have will work reliably for the common man. He will benefit by being able to understand the overwhelming majority of issues that attend his own life, rather than being befuddled on an endless treadmill of university studies, or news videos about things of peripheral concern. Americans may know how to 'change the channel', but there are literally 1000 channels of garbage.
I am invested in survival. I expect things to crumble slowly then crash unexpectedly. My hedge is a skillset based not on paranoia or a SHTF scenario, but in the social graces required of chivalry; the human grace of noblesse amid the squallor of what befalls the common man in a system designed to fleece him.
This covers a lot. It's where I am today.
Not because Colonel Blimp. But as my father used to love to say "y'all forget".
I am in receipt of a missive from somejoint called 'CodeSwitch' which is a quite 1991 term, but y'all forget. It occurred to me that we have gone 20 years beyond the point at which there was actually something new to learn from the vanguard of multiculturalism in the Identity Wars which were really best exemplified in the very first movie I bought on DVD - Strange Days. In case you forget, which I know you do, Strange Days can be summarized like this...
A washed up ex- something or other white dude stumbles across a tape of the murder-by-cop of the world's greatest political rap star on the verge of Y2K. Except the tape is no ordinary tape, but a Vulcan mind-meld tape so that you can experience exactly what other people experience. It features pre-apocalyptic Los Angeles, complete with sleazy dangerous night club owners, plucky prostitutes, poker-face middle aged powerbroker suits, douchebag Japanese millionaires, a Gibsonian tech geek selling hot warez, a double crossing psychopathic murderer / best friend, the most fatal femme torch singer on the planet and her perky tits, and a strong black mother keeping shit real in the middle of the overflow of decadence who ultimately saves the day.
As you can imagine it was one of the greatest movies of all time. That's not the point, so much as the point is that it was done in 1995, and people are still trying to make all that vanguard identity narrative work its way like so many ear-boring beetles at the hands of Khan, into the psyche of the next generation. To wit: CodeSwitch:
NPR this mornin':
"The straight white men of Straight White Men aren't what you might expect. Near the beginning of the new off-Broadway play, two adult brothers play a homemade, family board game, refashioned out of an old Monopoly set. Because the family is liberal and progressive, it's called "Privilege." It makes fun of their own straight-white-male privilege.
"Ah, 'excuses' card!" one of the brothers exclaims. The other reads it aloud. "What I just said wasn't racist/sexist/homophobic because I was joking," he deadpans. "Pay $50 to an LGBT organization."
The playwright, 40-year-old Young Jean Lee, is arguably one of the hottest playwrights in America right now. Her work revels in subverting stereotypes. With Straight White Men, Lee was interested in exploring a problem: What do you do when you've got privilege — and you don't want to abuse it? Lee, who is Korean-American, wanted to create straight white men on stage who think about these things.
"I know they're out there," she says. "I mean, I know them personally. Men are changing."
Lee writes about everybody. Straight white men. Native Americans. Asians. She even wrote a play actually called The Untitled Feminist Show. And in a play from 2008 called The Shipment, she did something that's hard for a nonblack writer to do. It's partly an absurdist sendup of African-American stereotypes seen over and over in movies and on TV. The first half of the play is an over-the-top compendium of cliches. Lee's process is to write plays using her cast to improvise scenes and ideas, and she developed this one with a group of five black actors.
There's also a twist in The Shipment that it would be unfair to reveal, and that captivatedNew Yorker theater critic Hilton Als.
"Black and white people were confused," he observes. "It was amazing. She was doing something very profound in terms of the ways in which we listen to 'ethnic speech' and 'regular speech.' "
Young Jean Lee writes by listening. When she started working on Straight White Men, she took advantage of being a playwright in residence at Brown University.
"I asked a roomful of women, queer people and minorities, 'What do you want straight men to do? And what do you want them to be like?' " she recalls.
Lee wrote down all of the answers. It boiled down to this: They wanted the straight white male character to sit down and shut up.
"When you hear that around the table, you just feel yourself sinking slowly into the chair," remembers James Stanley, who plays the character created from the list. The character, named Matt, is a sort of idealized straight white male. He works for a not-for-profit and is guided by a sense of trying not to — in his words — "make things worse." Lee and Stanley workshopped the character in front of the students. Who hated him.
"Hated him," Lee said, clearly still surprised. "And I realized that the reason why they hated him was — despite all their commitment to social justice — what they believed in most was not being a loser. [Matt] is exhibiting behavior that gets attributed to people of color: not being assertive, not standing up for himself, always being in a service position."
It's an existential dilemma, Lee says. She had one of her own while working on Straight White Men in the largely white-run world of American theater.
"I can always say, 'Oh, well I'm just pursuing my own ambition, but I'm making the world a better place,' " she says. "Because now there's this Asian female playwright who can be a role model for other artists of color, and I'm helping with diversity. And so I can do whatever I want and sort of get on the good-person list. And it occurred to me as I was doing the show, and listening to people talk about straight white men — straight white men don't really have that option."
Which is not to say that playwright Young Jean Lee thinks straight white men are categorically oppressed. But she likes using theater as a tool to reveal and dismantle our perceptions — of each other and of ourselves. For her, it's a place to check complacency at the door."
I know people keep having 'existential dilemmas', especially so-called 'white males'. It's rather sad that so many people think of themselves that way, but you know we black Americans made you into that. Didn't you know or did you forget? Here let me remind you as I did in Quora recently.
America's most powerfully dangerous minority made it race and ethnicity because we said so. But it wasn't about race and ethnicity, it was about us and what we wanted. Because the NAACP is not about 'people of color' it's about black Americans. And we won. And we dictated the terms of how people talk about race and ethnicity in America. And it's going to continue to be that way until nobody (meaning black Americans) cares any longer, about halfway through the next black President's term.
Now there happens to be a movie called 'Fury' that's around these days and you ought to watch it because ideals are peaceful but history is violent. A lot of people stuck in their identity crises remain there because they never face danger. They don't face the do or die moment which is the only real existential crisis there is. But we managed to redefine 'existential' somewhere along the way and so inflate the idiot problem explored within the semantic and semiotic swamp that is the stuff of CodeSwitch and that there ilk.
What am I saying? I'm saying that dudes with Node.js and VC money don't make the world a better place, fighting men do. They make it a worse place too, but the point is that they make it and there are no big fat unanswered questions about that which require a seat in a theater on Broadway where some person with an interesting identity has done the thinking for you as you are entertained during your night on the town in fashionable shoes.
Winston Churchill. Douglas MacArthur.
We have a couple examples of the sort of men we could aspire to, who were not merely war makers, but impressive in multiple dimensions. They were none of the characters you might meet in a Broadway play or Hollywood film, and perhaps that's why young American men these days plop so easily into the 'white male' bucket. That's all they know. Too bad.
The simple fact of the matter is that during the 1950s and 60s, angry black Americans, especially those men who served in WW2, were just about fed up with foot-dragging on the Civil Rights front. And even though things were better outside the South, a lot of us had family there and we weren't going to put up with it. The threat of violent revolt in America's cities were a clear and present danger. So when black Americans negotiated Affirmative Action with Nixon, it was the kind of politics that nobody wanted to rehash.
In other words, America's most powerfully dangerous minority made it race and ethnicity because we said so. But it wasn't about race and ethnicity, it was about us and what we wanted. Because the NAACP is not about 'people of color' it's about black Americans. And we won. And we dictated the terms of how people talk about race and ethnicity in America. And it's going to continue to be that way until nobody (meaning black Americans) cares any longer, about halfway through the next black President's term.
Somewhere around the mid 80s, 'the Black Community' began to disintegrate as a singly focused political force. Black America itself became too large and diverse to sustain the myth of unified leadership. I would say the very end came with the deaths of the Congressional Black Caucus and of Ron Brown. But that doesn't change the fact that a new generation has tried to use the same tactics with 'multiculturalism' as blacks did with Black Power. Except, really who's going to burn down Detroit for 'diversity', the cast of Glee?
So basically we are living in the mediocre shadow of the political dynamic of a once unified black America that was so powerful that it redrew Congressional districts in every state. That power is gone, but some of the half-baked ideas and rhetoric about race and ethnicity remain. Some people worry about backlash, but just like with the actual end of Black Power, a significant enough number of black Americans really rose in competence and genuine social power, picking up the mantle of the best America we all want. And so (as we say) just like other ethnics, our struggles into the mainstream has strengthened and changed America for the better. But, you know... how the sausage was made ain't all MLK speeches, peaches and cream.
Don't expect that you can reinvent the blues or the Baptist Church or race relations just because it has been explained. We did that. It's done.
It's because we make life easy and convenient. For stupid people. And we do a good job. And we have more people. So we get better at it.
Imagine a country where you don't get a chance to drive a car until you are 21 years old. And in that country there are no cars with automatic transmissions, air bags, seat belts or safety glass. There is also no collision insurance. So basically there are barriers to entry into the market for driving. Driving is a lot more risky, and failures of drivers are more catastrophic. In such a country of let's say 30 million there are only 5 million drivers. None of them are teenagers, and the fatality rate for drunk drivers is 30%
Now in America we have had automatic transmissions, airbags, seat belts and safety glass for 20 years. We license millions of teenagers. We have comprehensive auto insurance, and we crack down harder on drunk drivers. In other words, we make it easier to be a driver. You need to know less. The costs of failure are not so high. The need for skills are relatively low. It's built into the market and the culture of building cars. And the direction we are going in is to make cars even safer to the point at which they drive themselves. In doing so we drive the intelligence and skill base needed for driving even lower and lower.
In driving, in working, in everything we have improved, we have made it easier for people to be whomever they want to be. Not conforming to high standards of skills, but towards smart consumption. That's why we have more stupid people than anywhere else - because we engineer our society's consumer economy to leverage smarter products, lower barriers to entry, greater amounts of insurance and risk mitigations.
Now you get it.
Do you want America to continue in this direction or not? If you do not, then you are arguing for inequality.
Somebody passed me an article about women in STEM. I've been thinking about this, just a little bit, recently. But only from having been provoked by a lot of the squishy soundbites about 'women in politics' in the just-ending campaign season. Whenever somebody *looks backward* and says something to the effect that 'women should be 50% of X by now' and then they *look forward* and say X should be more women-friendly or whatever prescription they have - this is a problem. The problem is that if men and women are different, and women are historically not in X, maybe that difference is completely reasonable, and the woman-friendly prescription is bad advice. I say that is something completely different from gender discrimination.
I'm going to give an egregious example but I think it applies broadly. If you are an engineer and you love science, then you will be called a geek. If you cannot handle being called a geek, then you are not passing the existential bar. Dealing with everything that can go wrong in X activity is what makes those people Xers. If you don't want to get beat into the gang, then you can't get into the gang. It doesn't matter that the peripheral activity is not a material requirement. There are no material requirements, there just is what is. I'm also thinking with the film 'Fury' in mind. It doesn't matter how you feel about killing Germans. When you're an allied soldier, that's your job. Do the work.
'STEM' is a neologism - a marketing effort to attract people into something good. That marketing and all the diversity balancing is not what makes an Engineer an Engineer. It is, as DeGrasse-Tyson put it, the unwavering desire to do the work above all. *Above all*. If doing the work is not worth getting called names, if the output of the hostile workplace is not worth doing the work, then you're not a worker.
Everything in life conspires towards your death. Fire never stops burning flesh. People are never not envious and slippery. The smallest sub-atomic particle works to avoid detection and control. Every chess game is zero-sum with all the pieces in plain view. These are conditions which cannot be negotiated into submission, and some not even into temporary abeyance.
Get busy living, or get busy dying.
I'm attracted to spy stuff. So are you. We like James Bond 007 because he has a license to kill. He is intelligent, sophisticated, sexy, resourceful and dangerous. He lives outside of the law, and therefore is not protected by it. Everybody knows that when spies get caught, they get no trial. Spies are summarily executed, period. Still, it's cool right?
Like most Americans, I have spent a lot of time thinking about my privacy and security in the post 9/11 "connect the dots' era. And like most, I've been following stories about Edward Snowden with a bit of ambivalence. Is his an act of civil disobedience or treason? It's both, isn't it? I take the position, now, that without Snowden we would have been singularly unable to discover how much our government has been spying on us. Once upon a time, Congress warned us about the anti-democratic consequences of classified laws classifying what's classified. We yawned. The NSA did not, nor did Homeland Security, FEMA and the TSA. Now only conspiracy theorists talk about this stuff and only Snowden has proof. Maybe, just maybe we can elect a new Senator with the ball of Frank Church - after all, what can Snowden do that Congress can't? Hmm. A lot more than anybody should be comfortable with. So maybe Snowden's revelations were the only thing that captures our imagination: spycraft, double-agent stuff, secret loyalty, but most importantly, he got the goods.
Getting the goods on somebody, catching them red-handed, producing the smoking gun, cracking the code all of these are things we excpect a good spy to accomplish. It's the leading edge of Justice. You just shiver with anticipation that the bad guys are going to get their just desserts when they get busted. Americans really dig this, I know I do. And there is a sadness and righteous indignation when the bad guys were somebody we were supposed to be able to trust. In those cases, the anxiety is amped up because the consequences are so dire. Wait, you say, our spies are spying on us? The gloves come off, shit gets real, and it's on.
Of course these are human emotions more at work than human intelligence, and we are likely to make errors of judgment under such circumstances. We have laws and procedures and the presense of justice when calmer heads prevail, and after all, the 4th Amendment isn't a joke. But maybe it is, or maybe at this point in time when our faith in democratic institutional competence and integrity is at a low point, we are bound to make a joke of it. That's a profound error and it can have disasterous consequences.
I think of this because of the awesome power of the internet. It aggregates eyeballs. What one person sees, 10 million people can see the next day, practically the next instant. And what is it that we want to see?
We want to see justice, but justice cannot be crowdsourced.
These days, there is rioting going on in a town called Ferguson, MO. And the hackers at Anonymous have managed to get their hands on police audio dispatches, which have now been disclosed to the public. Our eyes and hungers have been satisfied for the moment. And while I have my beefs with Anonymous, their actions are the actions of spies. Well, that's part of the problem. The public cannot be anonymous because when you speak on behalf of the people, you need to be responsible, and you need to be inside the law.
That essentially means that if you expect the government to always respect the 4th Amendment, you should probably set a good example yourself.
What we know, for example, is that police are responsible for somewhere north of 400 killings every year. If you took an internet plebscite today, Americans would unquestionably require police to have cameras worn on their persons and in their squad cars and film every encounter with the public. Imagine a system in which every shooting were monitored. We could tell the good ones from the bad ones and bring the bad guys to justice. You realize this is exactly the reason behind the NSAs dragnets. I've got news for you, there are something like 3.4 million arrests every year. Oh sure, crowdsource it you say. We have the technology, we can make America safer, stronger, faster. Ahem, but who is going to edit the video and create the mashup, and how exactly is that going to be different than Cops? (And when is the last time you watched Cops?)
Think about it for a while. Is more surveillance really what you want? Because we already have reality TV and what a blessing that has been. More reality? The humanities are dying in America. We are becoming a people who actually believe we can negotiate our relationships and produce justice through electronic surveillance and spy tactics.
It goes without saying, although people would try to blame me for not saying, so I'm saying it up front, that police brutality is a crime, and a wrongful death in police custody seriously retards faith in democratic institutions. But then I think it should be equally obvious that some of these small backwater towns are institutionally bankrupt and the people know it. That doesn't get 20 million tweets or any competent attorneys from our top law schools interested in improving the quality of municipalities in Missouri. Nor does the hopelessness of the locals impel them to load up the truck and move. You'll hear all over the interwebs what a crappy place Ferguson, Missouri is in perfect clarity as if this killing were the perfect storm everyone saw coming over the horizon. Yeah but you didn't evacuate.
No man is an island and every man's death diminishes me. But rather like gravity it diminishes with the square of the distance. Socially, politically and physically that place is a long way away and no amount of echoes in the media is going to bring it closer to me. Aside from that, I'm supposed to be an independent thinker; well, I am. What strikes me this week, is how we really don't know what's boiling on the inside of people's heads. We don't know about cops, we don't know about robbers, we don't know about comedians or actresses. We just remark a lot when somebody dies.
It has been some time since I have thought about the Coalition of the Damned, and I misread something yesterday that gave me pause. Somebody said that folks 'showed up for a peaceful protest dressed like they were ready for combat'. At first I thought it was the crowd and I thought, what a wonderful idea. But it turned out, predictably, to be the police.
If the death of one man, by accident, or on purpose causes a neighborhood, community, suburb, town, ghetto or general residential district to break down civility, well I suppose you can call that person a hero by definition. His life is valued higher than law and order. Pinker has words to say on such honor codes. Essentially, they are tribal and inferior to the rule of law. But I've been saying this for years, tribal hierarchies are what people use when democratic institutions fail. Nothing at all surprising at that. What is surprising is the extent to which activists and political plotters and strategists try to co-opt the energy of tribalism and convert it back into democratic institutional power. It's really just swapping one alien committee for another. And of course the big problem is that it doesn't help the honor code or the tribe.
A real pitchfork and torches tribe working the hierarchy is ready, and I mean defiantly, militantly ready, to stare down and shoot down the System. That's what 'by any means necessary' implies, but it always turns out in America that the means of choice is sublimation to the New Committee (which seems always ready to grant permanent seats to Jackson or Sharpton). It almost makes you miss Khalid Muhammad. But the bottom line is, misappropriation of James Baldwin's Fire Next Time notwithstanding, the tribe is going to lose.
Nobody in the tribe is willing to take a bullet for Michael Brown. Nobody in the tribe is willing to fire a bullet for Michael Brown. But the loudmouthing will follow for years. It's all just talk.
The professionals will crank the gears in the Justice System, because the tribe unwilling as it is to be permanently anything but disgruntled will call for Justice. This reflects well upon them as Americans under the rule of law, but poorly upon them as a tribe. A tribe will call for Revenge. A tribe that gets stepped on grows remorseless terrorists. Americans, as rude as they want to be, are still constitutionally too nice for remorselessness. At least the ones in Missouri appear to fit the standard. The will get their gruntle on in due time. But they will never forget. According to precedent, the Protest Train will land in a new town within a year or two. If I remember correctly, the prior major stop was some town in Florida and the dead man was Trayvon Martin. Nobody has forgotten that yet. His name is written in iron on the locomotive.
You can also count on hearing a lot of the conspiracy theorists shout out to get the crowd to say Ho! And I've already heard one against the NRA, as in Not Representing African Americans. It's not ironic that some folks are dead frightened of guns in the 'hood. It stands to reason that people who could consider 50 Cent an idol or stand in awe of the lifestyle of Biggie Smalls are not the sort to generally be trusted with firearms. That doesn't change the fact of the Second Amendment right. All the bureaucratic means testing of Orwellian nightmares is already in place. The NRA stands against that of course, and encourages its big fat lawyers to strike down every fetter to un-infringed civil rights. But you'll never hear them called a Civil Rights (tm - Jesse Jackson Enterprises) organization from predictable quarters.
At some point, and it wouldn't surprise me under the Obama Administration (also not getting blamed for the DHS militarization of ordinary police departments) that some members of the Coalition actually decide to mix together some Molotovs and burn baby burn. Who knows, maybe even an active shooter might join the tribe and do things that only happen in gangsta movies and raps, truly fuck da police. But Michael Brown is probably not worth it, and Ferguson Missouri probably ain't the one. Maybe, in the long term we'll just say this one is worth a million dollars of looting and a couple hundred arrests. Nothing to call out the National Guard for.
While I'm at it, just to stir up a little dirt, is there anybody who is thinking about a serious swapping of democratic deck chairs through the peaceful process of protest, even a little curious about what would happen if the Ferguson looters were shooters? Isn't there something deep down inside you that thinks maybe the Founders had something actually rational in mind when they reserved the right to keep and bear arms against government tyranny? I've been arguing with people like this and I wonder if they don't quietly think that maybe... just maybe.
You may be reading this at several years distant from the event, but you should know that some sentimental segment of America are wondering in shock at the suicide of the universally loved Robin Williams, who apparently hung him self with a belt. A lot has been said about how certain things are diseases that tragically take lives. Williams had depression, but then again so do many many other people who cannot afford the best care on the planet like him. They survive. The lesson of course is that people choose suicide. They do so to kill the world and send a that world a message. I am not shocked by or sympathetic to suicides. We get 30,000 per year in this country. So likewise I am not shocked or sympathetic to those who have chosen and will choose to jump out of the civil box and commit social suicide at the hands of the local authorities in Missouri. But I would be respectful of a tribe committed to war in the streets. Not sympathetic mind you, and speaking for my class prerogatives, I would have the cops pacify such rebellion with all appropriate tactical response. But it seems to me that if Michael Brown was a real hero, he would deserve a hero's revenge. Who wants to avenge the hero? Who is prepared to get medieval?
But I think Michael Brown is just a martyr of convenience to political masterminds whose intent is to fuel the legitimacy of their committees, narratives and agendas as they scan the country for poor people who fall to their deaths on the wrong side of the law or other unusual circumstances. Nobody else gives more than a few tweets, including me. Same as it ever was. As they prove nothing, the Protest Train will roll on belching smoke, steam and noise, in circles. All Aboard!
In the first third of my life, before I was 30 and married with children, I took great pains to become an Organic. I didn't like crowds nor the things that motivated crowds, nor did I have much truck in the things that crowds used to differntiate themselves. I was never big on t-shirts with writing, with the exception of 'Joe Cool', 'Pinball Wizard' and 'USC'. I have learned that such matters go under the heading of 'signal wealth'.
What I did enjoy somewhat more symbolically than practically, was my attraction to BMW automobiles. I can still remember hours spent on freeway onramps meditating on the thoughts inspired by their marketing: 'The Ultimate Driving Machine' and 'Legendary BMW Performance'. Some large fraction of the time, however, I couldn't pass ordinary vehicles due to the lemony state of my particular BMW. Nevertheless, I still looked good.
At some point I had to relinquish my organics and bohemianisms as I climbed into the upper reaches of the professional class. I ultimately recognized the power and necessity of markets and the confidence of the common man. No longer was I inclined to stay away from Walmart on the odd principles I had defined for myself. I liked that so many things were popular. At some point I recognized that 66% of the American economy was dedicated to the consumer, and somewhere around 2011 I read something I still find profound by Niall Ferguson. He talked with statistical precision about how the average American household became the 'house of the future' during the Cold War Era in contrast to how claustrophobic and skanky life became in the Soviet Union. I'm talking about very basic things, like ready-to-wear, which actually didn't exist before, as well as very luxurious things, like dishwashers, air conditioners and microwaves.
Today, and since 2008 I have been making sense of how much economic shrinkage it is reasonable to accept and how the failure of public confidence in democratic institutions and civil society ought to affect people with the will and determination to survive and excel. It is from this POV that I wonder how much convenience is good for society and how much poisons the commons.
I am willing to take on for myself the various burdens of preparedness. I am a 180 degree opposite kind of 'preppie' than I was in 1983 in my green Polo shirt, belt and shorts. These days coyote is the new black. But I am not so confident that everybody wants or needs to take on a stoic attitude. Nevertheless, there is that inebriation of convenience - that drain of skill and capacity that comes from not having to do your own homework.
Do you sense this as well? Do you especially feel it in the Idiot Proof City? Something tells me that I will find a lot of answers in India. I gotta get over there.
Last week an NSA spokesperson spoke to the Long Now. It was something of a friendly introduction to the NSA's culture of concern, but ultimately unsatisfying. When you come to your bosses, you generally offer a token of goodwill, NSA hasn't thrown us any bones. And so they will recieve rocks in return, but some measure of polite patience as well. The following is the list of questions provided by the audience:
But before I list them I'd like to put a question of cost-benefit analysis to everything. After all, the NSA's budget isn't and shouldn't be unlimited. So we really can't know if they are doing their job efficiently if some analysis of this sort isn't performed. Ultimately they want to reduce terror, and they might be effective if the intelligence they produce reduces the cost of war - after all, if you know exactly where and when the bad guy is, it takes less ammo to take off his head.
Most obviously the cost of domestic surveillance is the one I am concerned with and we would like to weigh that against the cost of domestic terror. So why not create a domestic terror insurance policy? If each American citizen were to pay $10 into a national terror insurance fund and every person who is killed by an actual act of domestic terror were compensated $5 million, then we could have a parallel strategy. After all, America can be very good with money and this is something we all could understand. What we don't understand is how much money the NSA spends on what and how many lives they have or have not saved. Insurance is transparent, the NSA is not. Let's try this alternate route.
Note that the implications of this alternate route on domestic terror puts the NSA against a very concrete standard - one that doesn't exist now except in the minds of the convinced insiders...
I have a general (unfocused) question about transparency – which
hasn’t been mentioned thus far. What is the NSA’s rationale around
hiding its activities from the American people? What can you tell us
about the issue of transparency going forward?
What are the key questions NSA is discussing following the Snowden
releases? And what is the NSA doing to address these issues?
Germany is very, very upset. What could we have done, and what should
we do in the future, to fulfill our many responsibilities while also
respecting our most valuable international relationships?
How can we work toward a new social contract when the intelligence
agency directors repeatedly lie to the Congress and to the public?
Is it true you can still find one-star generals playing Magic the
Gathering in the NSA canteen during lunch hour?
The failures of 9-11 were not technical failures, but failures of
individuals and organizations to work together toward a common goal.
What concrete steps can you describe in the intelligence community
that have been taken to remedy this?
What is the NSA doing to make the scope of its data collection efforts
as transparent as possible, while still achieving its goals w.r.t.
Is it an acceptable outcome that NSA fails at securing us in the
service of privacy considerations?
If the Snowden incident hadn’t happened, would the NSA have hired the
civil liberties expert? What structural changes will make this role
Has the real tension been between the NSA needing to protect its own
systems while ensuring that everybody else’s are vulnerable? Is this
Do you believe the mission of the NSA can be accomplished without
building a record of all worldwide communications and activities?
Is the NSA embedding backdoor or surveillance capability in any
commercial integrated circuits?
If you want to address the damage to public trust, and improve the
social contract, why not applaud the work Edward Snowden has done to
demonstrate how your agency has gone astray?
Do you consider the NSA’s role in weakening the RSA random number
generator to be a violation of the NSA’s existing social contract?
How do you think about its exploitability by criminal elements?
What do you tell American corporate tech leaders who are concerned
about lowered trust and security of their services and products? Lack
of trust based on national security letters, for example, or
weaknesses introduced into RSA crypto by the NSA?
What is the best mechanism for an intelligence agency to prevent
themselves from using “national security secrecy” to cover up an
embarrassment? Is there something better than whistleblowers?
Secure information and privacy need to be balanced – please give an
example of when you feel the NSA worked at its best in this balancing
act. Please be specific :-)
How much is your presentation a reflection of NSA or your personal views?
Should the NSA play a role in devising the new rules for cyberwar?
(Since the old rules for war don’t work in the digital universe.) How
do we citizens participate?
Do you personally feel that the leaks of the last year have revealed
serious overreach by your agency? Or, do you feel as though the NSA
has simply been unfairly painted and that the leaks have been
Privacy is, logically, implied (4th, and 5th and 10th Amendments).
Should it be an explicit right? If so, how should it be architected?
Amnesty for Snowden?
When Russia invaded Ukraine, it seemed to take us by surprise. Have
Snowden’s revelations damaged our ability to anticipate sudden moves
by rivals and adversaries?
How can the NSA build an effective social contract when it destroys
evidence in an active case and when its decisions are made in a secret
court without public scrutiny?
How can the public make informed decisions if NSA keeps secret what it
is doing from its public rulers viz the abuses exposed by Snowden?
Can you give an example of a credible “cyber threat” thwarted by the NSA?
Why did NSA dissolve its Chief Scientist Office? So too FBI. This
Office funded the disk drive and speech recognition.
How do you reconcile your stated goal of improving the security of
private sector products with NSA’s documented practice of
intentionally weakening encryption standards and adding backdoors to
exported network devices that facilitate billions of dollars of
How does surveillance directed towards the United States’s closest
allies help deter terrorist threats, and how does the damage of our
relationship with Germany and other allies offset the benefits of
conducting such surveillance?
I am an American, legally, politically, culturally, economically. I
was born in Pakistan and am a young male. My demographics are the
prime target of the NSA. I have no recourse if the NSA sees that I
have visited the “wrong” links. I am afraid that the NSA deems me a
suspect. Your response?
Balancing the needs of ‘security, society and business’ leaves most of
us with 1 vote in 3. Given the shared interest in big data by
security agencies and business, how do the rest of us keep from
getting outvoted 2-to-1 every time?
Your fears seem to be based on a highly competitive scarcity-based
economy. What is your role in a post-scarcity society?
In what ways do public, crowdsourced prediction markets help to
resolve the tension between public trust and the need for
Does the government have either a duty or a need to be open and honest
in its communication with the public?
How does the NSA approach biological data? Synthetic biology applications?
You never use the word law.
How many more leaks would it take to make your mission impossible?
Personally I look forward to this particular point in time.
Please share your thoughts on: Re: ‘talent leverage’ impact on world
stage. We are all one family on spaceship earth, and we have grave
system failures in the ship. If the U.S. gov’t can shift from empire
to universal economic empowerment, based on natural carrying capacity
of each ecosystem. Then, trust can be restored that this is not a
gov’t of and for the military-industrial complex, and the most
What are three basic reasons that make the NSA assume that it doesn’t
need to obey the law?
Surveillance and security are mutually contradictory goals. Shouldn’t
these functions of the NSA be split into different agencies?
Was Snowden a hero or a damaging rogue? Did he catalyze changes to
keep NSA from being the “KGB”?
Do we live in a democracy when there are no checks and balances in the
intelligence community? --> CIA/Senate, --> Snowden/NSA?
You described the importance of a social contract in determining the
appropriate balance between privacy and intelligence gathering. But
contracts require all parties to be well-informed and to trust each
other. How can the American public trust the intelligence community
when all of the reforms you mentioned only occurred because a
concerned patriot chose to blow the whistle (and now faces
How are we to maintain the creative outliers and risk takers (things
that have been known to create growth and brilliance) if we are
keeping / tracking ‘norms’ as acceptable – or the things we accept. –
How will we know if we are wrong?
Can or does the NSA influence or seek to influence immigration policy
so that the US could retain foreign workers here on expiring H1Bs?
What does the NSA see as some of the greatest emerging technologies
(quantum decryption for example) that can create the future
What are the factors that determines whether the NSA ‘quietly assists’
improving a company’s product security, or it weakens or promotes
weaker crypto standards / algorithms / tech?
Please talk about the recent large scale hacking from Russia.
Why frame this as “how can laws keep up with technology” instead of
“how do we keep the NSA from exceeding the law?”
1) Was NSA interdiction of a sovereign leader’s aircraft a violation
of international law? 2) Does NSA believe they can mill and drill a
database to find potential terrorists?
The NSA paid a private security form, RSA, to introduce a weakness
into its security software. Spying is one matter. But making our
defenses weaker is another. How do you defend this?
What is your biggest fear about NSA overreaching in its power [?]
How many real, proven terrorist threats to the U.S. have been
uncovered by NSA surveillance of email / cell phone activity of
private citizens in the last few years (4-8)?
Your list of tensions omitted any mention of corporate or otherwise
economic fallout that may result or have resulted from the Snowden
revelations. What relief mechanism do you foresee maintaining
corporate trust in the American government?
You mentioned doing during slide 14 that the Director of the NSA is
declassifying more information to promote “tranparency”. Can you
please elaborate on how we might find these recently declassified
Long ago we created a “privilege” for priests, doctors and lawyers,
fearing we could not use them without it. Today, our computers know
us better than our priests, but they have no privilege and can betray
us to surveillance. How do we fix that?
What systems are in place to prevent further leaks?
1) Is it ok for a foreigh entity to collect and intercept President
Obama’s communications without our knowledge? 2) Do you think William
Binney and Thomas Drake are heroes?
How do we build a world of transparency, while also enabling security
for our broader society?
As we grow more connected, the sense of distance embodied in national
patriotism and the otherness of the world shrinks. How is a larger
NSA a reasonable response in terms of a social contract?
Describe the culture that says it’s ok to monitor and read US
citizens’ email (pre-revelation) [?]
How can the NSA enable more due process during the review of approvals
of modern “wire taps” (i.e. translating big data searches to
In the next 10 years there will be breakthroughs in math creating
radical changes in data mining. What are the social risks of that
being dominated by NGO’s vs. government?
Has the NSA performed criminally illegal wiretapping? If so, when
will those responsible be prosecuted?
Can you define what unlocking Big Data responsibly really means and
give examples? Can NSA regulate Facebook in terms of privacy and
ownership of users’ data?
How do other governments deal with similar problems?
What prevents NSA from trusting “Intelligent America” revealing that
linking information but not the content was broadly collected could
have been understood and well presented. Funded [?] “Intelligent
Ingestion of Information” ...[?] DARPA 1991-1995.
Please address the spying upon and the filing of criminal charges
against US Senators and their staff by the USA, particularly in the
case of Senator Diane Feinstein of California.
Does the NSA’s legitmacy depend more on the safety of citizens or
ensuring the continuity of the Constitutional system?
Can you shed any light on why Pres. Obama has indicted more
whistleblowers than all previous presidents combined?
When will Snowden be recognized as a hero? When will Clapper go to
jail for perjury? Actions speak louder than buzz words.
Does NSA make available the algorithms for natural language processing
used by the data analysis systems?
In the long term view, it would seem freedom is a higher priority
value than safety so why is safety the highest value here? Why isn’t
the USA working primariy to ensure our continued freedom?
How do you protect sources and methods while forging the new social contract?
How can any company trust cybercommand when the same chief runs NSA
where the focus is attack? How can we trust the Utah Data Center
after such blatant lies of “targeted surveillance?”
Now that the mass surveillance programs have to some extent been
revealed, can we see some verifiable examples of their worth? If not,
will NSA turn back towards strengthening security instead of
The terrorist attacks of 9/11 encouraged our govt. leaders to adopt
aggressive surveillance laws and regulations and demands from the
intelligence communities. How do we reverse these policies adopted
The Negro is the person who needs to express himself in terms of his previous condition of servitude in his approach to life in America. The Negro is trapped in dual consciousness because he is isolated in the world and completely dependent in his self-image to white Americans and his interpretation of America's culture and its place for him. Black consciousness was invented to cure this condition.
A Negro would *never* think of moving to Costa Rica and being done with it. The Negro needs and desires some exceptional accommodation from the white American, something he might get from some white Americans and something he will never get from others. And so the problem persists - how do you exist in a society that you are convinced cannot stand your very presence, or as someone preciently said back when I was a child 'How does it feel to be a problem?'. Thus constrained, the Negro can never be truly whole until he escapes those mental shackles - which is something he can only give to himself. Of course, being a Negro, he can't realize that until he gets a boot to the head.
The great irony of Reparations is that no matter how much money is spent, it doesn't solve the Negro Problem. Neither did the Civil Rights Movement solve the Negro Problem. As Cornel West preciently noted over twenty years ago.
The liberal/conservative discussion conceals the most basic issue now facing black America: the nihilistic threat to its very existence. The threat is not merely a matter of relative economic deprivation and political powerlessness - though economic well-being and political clout are requisites for meaningful black progress. It is primarily a question of speaking to the profound sense of psychological depression, personal worthlessness and social despair so widespread in black America.
The liberal structuralists fail to grapple with this threat for two reasons. First their focus on structural constraints relates almost exclusively to the economy and politics. They show no understanding of the structure of the character of culture. Why? Because they tend to view people in egoistic and rationalist terms according to which they are motivated primarily by self-interest and self-preservation. Needless to say this is partially true about most of us. Yet people, especially degraded and oppressed people are also hungry for identity, meaning and self-worth.
So basically the need for Reparations is not a need for money, it is a need for healing and curing that has still, after the unbelievable election of a black man to the Oval Office, not been satisfied in millions of African Americans. Of course there are many millions of black Americans who have eradicated all traces of the Negro predicament in their own minds. They won't ask you for jack. Then again there is another set of millions that haven't quite made up their minds whether they are Black, black American, African American, Negro, Afro American or some hybrid. Still, I know a Negro when I read him.
As I think upon this, the predicament of the Negro reminds me of Toni Morrison's Playing in the Dark. Hmm. all over again.
'At last he lays his head flat on the ground, close to my foot, and sets my other foot upon his head, as hea had done before; and after this, made all the signs to me of subjugateion, servitude, and submission imaginable, to let me know how he would serve me as long as he lived.' -- Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
'The problem of internalizing the master's tongue is the problem of the rescued. Unlike the problems of survivors who may be lucky, fated, etc. the rescued have the problem of debt. If the rescuer gives you back your life, he shares in that life. But if as in Friday's case, if the rescuer saves your life by taking you away from the dangers, the complications, the confusion of home, he may very well expect the debt to be paid in full.' -- Toni Morrision, 1992
Morrison brings up an interesting tangent. If America paid the Negro his Reparations, what do you think it would ask for in return? It doesn't matter the actual price, it's a psychic bargain, a deal with the Devil if you will, another form of shackles. Perhaps we ought to note and confess that the Negro is always with us.
I live in Los Angeles County. There are 10 million people here. The budget of the county is 26 billion dollars and it is controlled by five people. Everybody knows the names of those five people because they have been in politics since we were kids. Everybody keeps voting for those same people and nobody cares. We don't know exactly where the money comes from and we don't know exactly where it goes.
Think of it this way. Have you ever been to a fancy restaurant where a man is trying to impress his date? They spend all kinds of money on food, but the food is not so important. It's not about eating; it's not about solving a hunger problem. It's about impressing the lady. That's how our democracy works. It's all about impressing the voter, not about solving the problem, but showing that you can finesse the voter with a fancy plate of issues, policies and rhetoric. They will go all out to get you to the table. They will tell you how important democracy is and how important your vote is. But it's just to get our vote. The politicians don't care who they get the vote from, as long as they get it.
We have a fancy plate of services as voters, but America is a fancy restaurant. The we only get to vote from the expensive menu because America is rich. So what happens? We order whatever, we don't like it we send it back making a big fuss, we try something fashionable, and we never finish and we throw food away.
Many people I have met from other countries are surprised about the existence of dog food in America. Yes, we have so much that even dogs and cats get an expensive menu, and we pat ourselves on the back to show that we can care about anything to any degree.
You asked if my vote counts. Not really.We voters are only asked on the date once every two or four years. We don't get to see the kitchen. We don't know how the food is prepared. We only get to see the expensive menu. Everyday politics in America is like reading restaurant critics, just waiting for the next date.
Once, when we lived in small towns with very small government budgets, the vote counted for a lot more. Maybe we'll get back to that. Maybe we'll even learn how to cook for ourselves.
I am not impressed with anyone’s directions to Ceasar if that dude Jesus is to be believed. Somebody profits by getting the masses to co-sign their policy recommendations. So what exactly are rich people doing in 2014 that they weren’t doing in 1614? And if the average American with running water, electricity, public transportation and a minimum wage job in an era in which polio has been eradicated and you can’t even get sour milk unless you try is so put out, what exactly are multibillionaires doing to pick those thin pockets? Really, what are the American oligarchs taking from the poor, except the opportunity to make 10 thousand dollars in a world where people survive on 2,000?
The American oligarchs are providing entertainment on the grandest scale, including dollar menus at McDonalds and free music from FM radio in exactly the language that the poor understand and like to hear, and there have been no wars on American soil in over 100 years.
I’m afraid that I study too much history to be swayed by the conventional wisdom that tells us how bad we all have it here. Show me the starvation.
I’m reading too much about roundheads and people with pitchforks and torches who swore to God that they would not be overcome to be bothered with people who only petition their elective representatives, if they even bother with that.
What strikes me about this one little picture is that there is no job on it that is irrelevant today. Carpentry, plumbing, electricity haven’t changed. Everybody who lives everywhere needs some of that. I don’t understand what is so hard about learning those things other than the simple fact that people don’t really give a shit about knowing how, when presumably once upon a time, they did. And pray tell what is the point of making more money from the same self-sustaining job unless perhaps you want a bigger house, more electricity, better public transportation, hotter and colder running water and a higher minimum wage?
People who are spiritually fulfilled by their God seek no more money. People who turn away from spiritual fulfillment, I suppose, can’t get enough money. So in this land of the free where girls are not kidnapped by the village-full, where we can weep by proxy and even seek thrills in our choices of entertainment because we are so literally fat, it doesn’t surprise me in the least that we are so greedy for more, that we are greedy on behalf of greedy people who don’t get half as much as their greedier brethren.
A wise man once said you shouldn’t look in your neighbor’s bowl to see if he has more than you, but only to see that he has enough. So exactly by what authority is somebody looking into every bowl in America and crying foul on behalf of their Negroes?, excuse me their political constituents. Do the hungry not know they are hungry? Do the enslaved not know they are enslaved? Can those with no blessings not count to zero?
I cannot forget what people from Mexico are doing every day - risking life and limb to move, against the law, into a foreign country to be the poorest of the poor without speaking the language and finding a way to feed themselves. May I remind you, against the law? They flee tyranny and oppression to come to America, and here they find sustenance. Against the law. Those of us, with every benefit they do not have, seek more for those we call our poorer brothers, and somehow it doesn’t come. And we bleat.
It seems to me that the Mexican has a backbone that we have forgotten. He exercises his backbone; we petition for jobs that require no heavy lifting. He is filling his mouth with food, not propaganda. I admire him from a distance. The more bad things that happen to me, the more I hate the complaining. And I really hate it now.
I hear that there are a couple of rich white men with problems. One of them has a problem with the Federal government that has something to do with cows. The other has a problem with a girlfriend who brings black people to his basketball games.
There's about three things to say here.
The first is that it doesn't take a genius to realize that America has a pretty good sense of outrage. In fact we have an outrage machine that cranks up the volume and puts such offensive commentary on blast. It also doesn't require black politics. All of this is on autopilot. Nobody is calling on black political leaders and asking for an interpretation of the facts. That is interesting to me because it means a few things that should be obvious but are not.
1. Americans are sufficiently outraged at racist comments by big shots. Nobody gets away with it.
2. Americans understand that this sort of thing exists. Nobody is pretending that it doesn't.
3. Americans aren't particularly interested in the rarified implications, and are not seeking expert advice on what to do.
In this regard, racism is treated by the American people like the social outrage that it is. Nothing more and nothing less. So it makes news, it aggrevates the lot of us, it gets replaced by the next big story.
The second thing is that people are recognizing the difference between the comments of Bundy and the comments of Sterling and they rightly understand that Sterling's comments are much more offensive. Sterling, unlike Bundy is not making theories about the implications of slavery, he's just straight out saying that he doesn't want black people around.
The third thing is that we all probably would be edified just a bit more if we did look into the rarified implications and expert advice. It's not going to change society and as with all sin, constant vigilance is required. The same thing applies for all the evils of men, including that of war. But we know that a military will sit idle when the deadly consequences of human aggression are not clear, present, drastic and immediate. It always requires wise leadership to muster the appropriate response. Sterling wasn't lynching anyone and so he shouldn't be lynched. Our useful and correct mob sensibility on these blow-ups require expert perspective, but it doesn't change the fact that it was TMZ that broke the Sterling story. Is this is an opportunity for beer summitry, or a change in NBA ethics rules? We don't know, but somebody will.
On that last point, we should keep in mind that every racial theorist doesn't actually know what they are talking about. We have a broad variety of experts who are actually experts from whom to draw advice. They will be versed in world history - and this outrage is not of world historical proportions. As it should be clear, there is more than enough common sense to go around.
Evan Sayet opened up a conversation about American conservatives vs American liberals several years ago with a great story which I paraphrase here. A man and his friend were out to dinner and as usual, the friend was complaining about his wife saying how much he hates her. The man, accustomed to hearing the complaint dismissed the invective and heard the friend out and the dinner continued. Just then, he could see a woman being mugged outside of the restaurant, in a moment of shock he realized it was the wife. He told his friend that his wife was being attacked by a criminal. The husband looked over his shoulder and witnessed the crime saying, "Yeah well, she probably deserved it." The realization came that the husband was very serious about hating his wife.
Sayet went on to compare American liberals to the husband over the question of 9/11, which makes it a powerful analogy for the kind of political enmity people often demonstrate over what America ought to be and what Americans ought to do about it. But I think it makes a more interesting distinction when not directed at any particular ideological group. I find it a very apt description about what the 300 millions of us think about each other and what that state of conflict reflects in a democracy. Our jawboning is not about the proper ideas about our nationhood, rather it is about what we feel about each other. The feeling is acrimonious and shallow, and it is self-perpetuating.
Americans are trying to, in the words of that Army commercial, be all that they can be. We have a sort of addiction to learning, doing and being that promises expansion and growth, riches and wisdom. But we also have a particular intuition that other non-learning, non-doing Americans are getting in our way. Our politics and culture manifest this competition for perfecting ourselves in ways that are counter-productive to the actual creation of policy and maintenance of society. We throw ideas and concepts at each other as if they were bricks, hoping to knock some sense into our opponents' heads and then go about their proper business. We don't do so as if we ultimately wanted to be friends or to actually depend upon one another. We are long past the era in which some collaboration for the sake of national unity was the aim. We want people to go away and sin no more, according to our definitions of sin.
Over the weekend I was reminded that there is something I have in common with some 'little brown people' which is the some measure of paternalistic condescension from a certain class of white liberals. Pops informed me of a Muslim woman who spoke up about being sick to death of hearing American blather on about 'islamophobia'. I do in fact take that term to be something of a political invention of those opposed to President Bush's engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan against AQ and its subsidiary and collateral rabble. I have no idea at present how many people are driven to be jihadis, how many Wahabbists are agitating for the establishment of a Caliphate or how many 'moderate muslims' sit ready to be radicalized for the expansion of Sharia in Western democracies. But I do know these are non-zero numbers and real enemies of justice and peace. I do not fear them, nor would I because I am Christian or American. An enemy is an enemy.
But what kind of enemies do I really have and what are they going to do? Well, I confess that it's difficult for me to conceive of me being in the specific sights of jihadis. My dead body is just as good as any other American dead body as far as my interpretation of their aims is concerned. Only my domestic political enemies wish me ill in particular. I am, in the words of the immortal cliche, not part of the solution and thus part of the problem. I stand in the way, by dint of my mocking disinterest, of their progress. I stand allied to a different kind of freedom struggle, one that doesn't have at its kernel the gibbering invectives of the chatting class. I take the exceptional nature of America seriously, but I am not so reduced to checking its pulse every moment of the media cycle.
Rather I am content to continue considering America as an exceptional place to live concerning its non-blood & soil relationship to citizenship, the consequence of which is a kind of permanent tussle over who is a 'proper' American.
Any testiment that begins with the words 'As a black man, I..' is one that should raise eyebrows of skepticism. That is not because there is something wrong with the tribes invoked, but because what follows is inevitably trying to represent something that may or may not exist. I'm not saying that blackness doesn't exist, rather I'm saying that perhaps it only exists in the confession. In other words, the only thing that is universally true about blackness is that it begins with voluntary negrosis, the conscious act of making oneself darker than they are - an action of conformity, of taking a particular fork in the road of identity, a racial construction in progress.
I understand that there is no black American cultural orthodoxy because that racial construction is always in process, often at the Peasant level. (c.f. 'ratchet'). There are recognizable forms. In music, there is R&B, Gospel, Blues, Jazz and Hiphop. Within those forms there are better and worse examples, and of course the influence of these cultural inventions is wide and deep. A lot of people get wrapped around various axels of authenticity but no one dares say "Miles Davis IS Jazz". What Mahalia Jackson sung may be the best example of Gospel, but nobody gets to say that all gospel singers since her are lesser shades of black.
This all comes to mind in the context of the complaints of a number of black American college students managing the microaggressions that have come to give rise to their profiles in recent weeks. Today, the Kwaku network produced "I Too Am Harvard", with its hard bitten confessions. Not long before that, UCLA Law students pleaded their discomforts and receive this kind of response from the sympathetic.
There is, of course, some intellectual tradition in all of this that is not vapid or silly. That's because the tradition is written as literature. It would have been nice to see some mugshots with a bit more creativity, though I certainly wonder if the dude in the Alpha jersey isn't mocking himself all hoodified. Be that as it may, one hopes that the literary tradition can indeed survive Tumbler and YouTube as it takes its hits today by kids who think they represent.
It's almost impossible to do justice to what I saw just a few minutes ago. These are back to back stories submitted by friends at Facebook.
“Basically, my issue was swept under the rug, and the assaulter received little else but a reprimand,” says a young woman who attended Patrick Henry between 2004 and 2008. The student fell asleep at an off-campus party where there had been drinking and was awoken by a male PHC student assaulting her. She says she reported the incident to Patrick Henry. “The administration encouraged me to not go to the police and said that, because alcohol was involved and I was violating the rules there, they hinted that I could be expelled if I brought light to the incident,” the student says. “The focus was the alcohol. I drank. I sinned. I deserved to be assaulted in the middle of the night.”
Another student, who asked to remain anonymous, says she was raped the summer before her freshman year. When she arrived at PHC in the fall of 2007, she was deeply depressed and cutting herself. She was summoned to Corbitt’s office. “I remember her smiling a lot in a forced, insincere way while she was telling me that ‘someone’ had relayed to her my ‘issues,’ and the ‘administration was concerned about my ability to successfully complete the semester,’ ” she wrote in an e-mail. The dean insisted that she take a psychological evaluation, then called her back to the Office of Student Life, got her parents on speakerphone, and made her tell them about the assault. When she choked up, the student says, Corbitt cut in to finish the job. Then the dean informed her parents that she was unfit for PHC and needed to be retrieved immediately. Her father flew out the following day and whisked her away, says the student."
And then this:
Almost a million people have fled their homes in Central African Republic. That’s 20 percent of the population, making the crisis in CAR comparable to the civil war in Syria.
With more and more mass graves being uncovered, the International Criminal Court in The Hague has opened preliminary investigations into atrocities that have taken place since the outbreak of the civil war in March 2013.
I really wish those people could come here. It might give the New Republic something actually interesting to write about. I guess we have proven something about the New Media, huh?
Bill Nye. He's the Science Guy. Which is about the appropriate thing to call him. As many of you know, he got all combobulated with a Creation Guy last week and it made a lot of people say 'Martha, this country is going to pot'. It's not. But there is a certain amount of faithlessness that's infecting people who are halfway committed to believing that Progress will benefit the Common Man. I say halfway because I can't determine if they believe that Progress is slowing down or that the Common Man doesn't deserve it. Either way they are in dire alarm and they shouldn't be.
Progress doesn't benefit the Common Man, charity does.
Progress benefits the person who initiates it. When I take off the stock carburetor on my jalopy and put on the custom one, I turn it into a hot rod. My hot rod. When I buy a computer and learn to program it, I benefit, not the person staring at me in Starbucks. But enough with the analogies. When starving waifs were dying of the Pox in London and Charles Dickens wrote about it, he benefited not the waifs. When Tycho Brahe observed all the stars in the sky and started cataloguing them one by one, it wasn't the people around him in 16th Century Denmark who were benefitting. When you dedicate your life to improvement then you improve. The common man remains common, the layman lies, the ordinary Joe stays ordinary and all of the backwards, superstitious, ignorant people remain tied to their fate. Every advance in history has taken place amidst total ignorance of it. That doesn't change the truth of it, nor the force of that truth.
So when people mumble and grumble that McDonalds is screwing their minimum wage employees, it may be true, but if you don't work at McDonalds and you're not a minimum wage employee, have the decency to admit that it doesn't hurt you. When Chinese peasants starve, you don't. When African babies die of Dengue, you don't. If those everyday commonplace tragedies dissuade you from studying your maths, you are not contributing to Progress by doing so. When the survey reveals that some ungodly percentage of Americans think astrology is a science, then let them suffer their ignorance. Your job is to remember what Tycho taught you, not to worry that your light gets swallowed up by darkness. Darkness is only the absence of light, remember? Darkness cannot swallow.
I should say a word about empathy. Yes. This is something you may need to be reminded lest you think I have no room in my heart for it. Well, I believe in Christian Charity and goodwill towards others, which is about as moral as any man can be, and I'm not trying to be morally superior to that. Hubris and all, you see. What I oppose is the idea that the presence of foolishness invalidates the existence of wisdom, that the median of all our suffering circumscribes the extent of our joy, that the impoverished oblivion of our destitute invalidate the soaring triumph of our wealth. Most specifically that the jackhead idiocy of our superstition reverses the brilliance of our science.
In a discussion about race I once had, I had to bring up the fact that the bodies at the bottom of the Atlantic are dead. They therefore cannot define the meaning of African American life. They're dead, and the dead are only what we make of them. We the living. We the survivors. We whom evolution favors by the existence of our very lives. We are those who count, not the dead.
So if the foolish will set their own deaths in a matter of time, why should we lament? If the poxed get no love, if the cocksure have no offspring, if the solipsist navel-gazers get no likes, if the loud mouthed suggestion gets no traction, why should we who know better be concerned other than to direct our sympathy and empathy towards the misfortunate?
Foolish people behave as if the truth only has the force of truth amongst those who live in it. Gravity and bacteria do not sleep. Ever. So hang on to life.
It suddenly occurs to me that one of the certain consequences of the mass literacy and disposable income the planet is experiencing is the time for people to ask questions. Most of these questions are rude and useless.
David Graeber, him say:
"There is no better way to ensure people are not politically active or aware than to have them working, commuting to work, or preparing for work every moment of the day. Sacrificing so many of one's waking hours to the gods of productivity ensures no one has access to outside perspectives that would enable them to notice - for instance - that organizing life this way ultimately decreases productivity." ~David Graeber
While I wouldn't call this a useless question, I sense that it is rude because it presumes that people ought to have nothing better to do than be politically active or aware. That is a question that begs aggregation of small minds for small purposes at best. At worse it is an open invitation to drop out of the work world and join the revolution. In either case it is an irksome proposition.
I wouldn't be the first to question puritanical sensibilities when it comes to work. On the other hand, how exactly does this fetish for politics and away from work seek to deal with income inequality? Oh wait.
(excerpted from some Facebooking during the MLK holiday)
I have long held that 'colorblindness is the moral equivalent of racism' but I no longer do. I have been convinced that there is a moral blindness in the selective application of racial discriminations that undermines rational discussion - a position long held by the dude at http://www.discriminations.us/
. I am also convinced that there is a continuing pathology in America to have various theories of race upheld into which new generations must be subject. Thirdly I am quite skeptical of 'social justice' which I see as little more or less than the purposeful skewing of perception by the chatting classes, or as I say, 'social justice is crowd-sourced law, the whining little sister of mob rule'.
I think it is certainly fair to say that conservatives, in their abandonment of developing a race-specific narrative, default to an audience for whom racial matters are of diminished concern - me for example, and those audiences tend to be unreflective and nominally 'white'. Many are insensitive or even hostile to racial analysis, and I believe most of the hostility is due to an attempt to racialize responsibility for institutional racism. IE "We 'good' whites who recognize the racism of the justice system have accepted our existential racial complicity in the status quo and you bad whites have not, therefore you must accept your racial original sin and serve penance as we do. " This is clearly a racial appeal to whites to be better whites, and that is severely problematic, because the reflexive and proper response is "We 'bad' whites already paid that price with the set of X", the largest member of the set being the Civil War involving commitment unto death, which no contemporary social justice movement demands.
Again the history of multiculturalism and the multifaceted brokering of racial discrimination treaties (affirmative action) has failed to deracialize the roles and responsibilities of citizens against racial injustice. The target of racial injustice has shrunk (vis a vis MLK's principles of racial integration) but the amount of racial fingerpointing has increased as have racialized narratives.
On the whole our ability as a society to solve racial problems has been dealt a series of crushing blows, fortunately there is a lot less work to do. So I perceive increasing shrillness over decreasing value.
You won't find any conservative who is displeased with the results of the Innocence Project except to the extent that its supporters find it so necessary to call conservatives racists or talk about Goldwater or Reagan or their other fetish white boys. I'm thinking of calling this "White Battle Royale" in which some whites beat up other whites with black and brown clubs.
Many years ago there was a set of questions or observations put together by a researcher by the name of Peggy McIntosh. You can look her up, but the gist of McIntosh is that her 'invisible knapsack' meme made her a star in the days before people figured out how to monetize meme-creation. She ended up resenting the popularity of her meme and withdrew support from the ideas percolating around them. But she still gets a lot of credit for the phrase 'white privilege' and of course 'white male privilege'.
I just dipped into some doo surrounding one of the derivative scoldings authored by a dude named John Scalzi, a scifi writer who can be easily described as an Ohio State fan. If you don't understand anything about Ohio State fans let me try to explain. There are several things that can be said about folks from Ohio, and in my experience the best three adjectives are, 'friendly', 'provincial' and 'self-conscious'. I really don't want to get into all that. Take my word, if you can understand that Ohio State fans believe themselves at once to be the greatest and most unpretentious people in America then you have an idea of where I'm ultimately going.
Scalzi wrote a lovely set of sci-fi war stories in a set known as the Old Man's War series. I read the first and found it enjoyable but not particularly deep. Scalzi's protagonist is existentially simple - like a second string lineman for the Buckeyes. You know exactly what to expect in the wholesome department. But over at his blog he decided to block for Peggy McIntosh by writing an essay with a videogame analogy called 'Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is'. I once knew a guy who used to play the role of a white boy. This meant that he spent a bit of extra energy convincing people he thought needed convincing that even though he was a white boy, he could X. I leave defining the full set of X to you so you can explore your own ideas by offering one member of the set: eat spicy foreign food.
Currently, I am under the influence of this bit of studied wit about post-literacy. I find it brilliant as it underscores what I have noticed about failures of modernity in the West and the increasingly serious farce of multicultural education. Additionally, I sense that this ties in with the higher level debate about modernity itself, perhaps expressed best as Lyotard vs Giddens, but I really don't have time for all that. Still I cannot deny the influence as I continue to find Dickens fascinating and occasionally refine my Peasant Theory.
So I respond to Scalzi: Imagine a game called 'White Male Battle Royale' in which white males were thrown into a ring and forced to compete for a panel of judges. Scalzi emerges as champion with his essay (which tells you something about the judges) and raises his fists in triumph, but not too high. There I sit watching this channel on television and I change it, wondering why I watched it in the first place.
Scalzi did address who the hell he was supposed to be writing that essay for in a subsequent follow up, but that didn't seem particularly compelling. On the whole all of this white privilege backpacking, repacking and unpacking seems to be as pointless and significant, boring and compelling as Ohio State football. Or football. Or sports. Or entertainment.
It's difficult for me to assess what the point of making Scalzi's point is, or actually the point of my critique. Perhaps both of us have too much time on our hands.
Nah. That's too easy an exit. What I mean to say is that Scalzi is wasting time on a morally self-congratulatory mission which involves foolish white guilt of the sort that actually undermines modern society by advancing arguments about identity which have nothing whatsoever to do with the presence or absence of justice.
The last time I checked, the linguists were pretty certain that there's no such thing as 'patois'. I seem to recall a consensus that all the accents and dialects are valid. I'm not begging, I'm just differing.
I'm a champion of the concept of modernity which says that all men are created equal - that what we know, even down to our natural ability to speak, can determine who we are in society. What we know. Identity can be tricky of course; you can decide that who you are has nothing to do with what you know, but what you look like, or what you feel like or where you are or who you know or what you hope. All those are tangents off modernity, and we properly call them post-modern. The modern man is what he knows and he comports himself so.
The automobile is an example of an item created in the modern world for the modern man. It is transportation. What matters is that you know how to drive it. A post-modern automobile might be endowed with an artificial intelligence to ask who you know. If you cannot prove that you know the right people, the car won't start. The same is the case, more or less, with the pre-modern horse. Beggers were not allowed to ride, and could be challenged by nobles and knights. But a modern automobile made in Germany doesn't care that you are anything other than a driver. That is because the ideal of modernity rules the automobile industry in Germany and everywhere else. They want to sell as many automobiles as possible to modern person. If you live in a tribe in Borneo, there is not a car marketed to you or your values or suitable to your way of life.
I go into this somewhat silly level of detail because I am reminded on the daily that many people don't quite respect the idea of modernity. There are obvious multicultural excesses, obsessions with gender definitions, sexual preferences, ethnic proclivities and religious affliations that dominate the humanities in America now. I am brought to mind, however, of the broader picture which was underscored to me the other day via a Gapminder 'ignorance' quiz.
It turns out that right now the global life expectancy is 70 years. The global literacy rate is 80%. Both of these phenomena are, according to the authors, unprecedented in human history. I believe them. I've finally answered for myself what to do for 20 years after the age of 60, but I suspect that most people have not. It's interesting that I intend, for many of those years, to continue writing books and software.
I choose to count myself amongst the worlds most literate. I cannot prove it at the moment, but my fluency in computer languages and in English counts for quite a lot in my estimation. There is no grammarian quite as strict as a compiler and chunking that sort of information for a living makes me quite the editor. Having read > 500 books is not inconsequential either. But the content and quality of those books and software and data are important too.
What will .8 * 7.131 billion literate people going to want to read? If we hadn't invented the Internet that would have been a quite serious logistical problem, even for modern German automobiles. Right now, wags are telling us that it's porno, the most compelling subject of our contemporary media. I would believe that as well. But Aldous Huxley reminds us that an intellectual is someone who has discovered something more interesting than sex. This is one reason why I take a dim view of multiculturalism's epistemological blow jobs which literally inflate the value of gender and sexual preference. Race, ethnicity, regionalism and religion don't offer much sophistication over the prior qualities, but at least they are associated with more sophiticated and higher order discriminations and bigotry. The multiculturalists have, in more recent years, progressed towards more and more crippling features in their press for equalities. We shall soon entertain more reasons why autistics should follow the pioneering spirit of Temple Grandin. We shall soon forget Geroge Washington find more and more holidays for even more fractional minorities, until such time, one imgines, that Mercedes does indeed make a limited run special edition sedan for the gay autistic albino outcast from Irian Jaya. Between now and then, we've got to get the poor blighter some reading material.
One of the more interesting phenomenon I recognize is the number of times some small news outfit mistakes a story from The Onion, a parody news organization, for a real story. The decline of journalism and American media is old news, and it calculates well from my point of view that this kind of error takes place all the time all over the world in every language. Dissonance and Ignorance are the two great generators of errors of cognition and understanding. Both are cured by intellectuality, by study, by the independent reasoning and discovery that attends serious reading and writing. Pardon me for not saying 'education', a term that bears too much lightweight freight as of late. How can it be avoided if not by referencing intellectual authority? It cannot. Well, it cannot in a modern world. In a primative world, intellectual authority is always provincial, accented, particular, tribal. And of course the mulitculturalists would have most of us look no further than our pudenda for the authority of our agenda.
But even beyond that are the hopeless games and charades played for no good reason in the kindergartens of literacy. Not to mention sheer dishonesty and fraud. If I remember correctly, the most crucial reason for public education is to enable self-rule. But if that takes place in an environment that will not make qualitative discriminations, or will not assert modernity, then such projects are doomed to failure. When the laws of the land are written with an arcane artificial intelligence that asks who you know, the car of civilization won't start for the common man. Likewise of the common man speaks an impenetrable patois legitimized by cultural relativists, no subtantial populations can benefit (without the interventions of the Gay Autistic Albino Societies of Greater Borneo). Also disabling self-rule. The business of protecting liberty is not for the weak-minded or the lollygagging spirit. It is the central conflict of humanity.
So since I have last looked, I would hope that there may have arisen some controversy about the absence of patois among linguists. When everyone has their own books, reprinted to match their own preferences - well there's the real filter bubble problem. There becomes no world and exchange becomes impossible. What allows computers to instantly communicate across the globe is the discipline of standards, which are so exacting that dumb machines perform them regularly without error. Literacy requires standards as well. There must be, I find myself having to assert to my own chagrin, better and worse. Hope is not a strategy, so despite my intentions that linguists do the right thing, I must do some work of my own. Maybe an essay or two. Maybe publish it on the Internet.
I just archived away some more ammunition for a 2A battle of the future. Having spent too long in an argument with some Brit who's convinced that the US Supreme Court Decision on Heller is 'bollocks' and 'out of touch with reality', I wonder if it will every be useful. It was some academic paper about the correlation between murder rates, suicide rates and gun ownership rates. I get tediously bored just thinking about look for the actual title.
I think that a lot of people believe that the role of society is to provide us with choices. Or perhaps I should say, selections. I'm convinced, when I think about it, that those people who believe we're all too crazy to own unregistered guns will never do more than sic the panoptic authorities on us in order to banish us from their playground, that being the world of shopping malls, parks with swings for children and luxury hotels. But first they have to pass the law. If they don't, then they have the political equivalent of a temper tantrum, and that's what you do as a Washington lawyer or Congressmen - represent the tantrum and win at all costs.
I would like to believe is that the purpose of public education is in service democratic self-rule.
But education in America is all about getting a job, the airwaves have taken over Civics. And in that, the curriculum has eliminated formal debate. The system, on its pendulous journey from one extreme to the other provides us a continuum of choices which are Right or Left, but not solutions and not right or wrong. Each side waits out the other side, or battles by tantrum its ideological version. You are a sworn enemy of the opposition, but the patriotic thing is to let the other side win every once in a while.
Everybody is biased. It doesn't make a difference. All that matters is if your side is in or out. It's all about conviction in America, because there are no hard limits this side of Armageddon.
I just contributed a few dollars to the Lavabit Legal Defense Fund. As you may know, Lavabit was one of the last secure email services anywhere that the common man could use. As it turned out, Snowden used them and so they ended up on some national security shitlist. I quote the owner:
I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on--the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.
What’s going to happen now? We’ve already started preparing the paperwork needed to continue to fight for the Constitution in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. A favorable decision would allow me resurrect Lavabit as an American company.
This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.
It turns out that I am among one of the hundreds of thousands of people who trusted Lavabit and its owner, and as flaky as any individual can be, it's within my ordinary powers of perception to tell if I can trust them or not. In other words, it's easier for me to trust a person than an institution - institutions are pretty good at camoflaging their failure. Humans who fail are easier to spot. And sometimes, they're completely honest about it, as we are fortunate to see in the case of Ladar Levison.
Now, like a rich man, I recognize that through the greed and idiocy of others, I have a lot to lose. So I'm starting to overthink which people I should trust. I'm starting to tell those people about ways to get out of this deilemma. I starting to ask those people what they know. It's all getting chummy and clubby and less and less public - those people we can afford to have in our confidence. I am determined to have my way because I trust myself and my associates more than I trust those sworn to uphold ridiculous regulations. And if I have to hide away from the public in order to get my way, that's how it may have to be. That's what it's like to live when you recognize that entropy is a very big enemy. I'm feeling fragile.
So I think the safest place to be is in the woods, on my private property, with my closest friends, my guns and nothing electronic. Hmm.
Here at Cobb, I have discovered that I am at war with conventional wisdom. Why? Because conventional wisdom is so easy to come by. All you do is listen to NPR, read the Washington Post, watch Fox News and subscribe to a couple magazines. All the stories are connected and all the pundits read each other's work. Getting the conventional wisdom is a no-brainer. It's what we intelligent people do with our spare brain cells, because we have so many of them since we're all underemployed, right? Well, I'm less underemployed than ever so I have less time with my precious few brain cells. That is why I blog a whole lot less than I used to, I follow news less and less every year, and I become more and more comfortable reading old historical stuff that almost nobody reads any longer, like George Orwell's *other* books. Yeah, right now I'm in the middle of The Road to Wigan Pier. What an eye opener. More on that later. Right now, I'd like to rip up the cliche - "If it would help just one person, I'd.."
I'm not really against the American middle class. I happen to believe this axiom, and somehow it should become one of Cobb's Rules. But basically it goes like this syllogistically. What is the purpose of public education in a democracy? Moreover why should we have it at all, and how should we judge its effectiveness? It's actually rather simple. The common man should be educated to rule in a democracy. That is to say, a public education should be good enough to train the leaders of society. Or another way of saying it is that "If you go to public school, you can be President" should not sound ironic in any way. So we know that our system is broke. And it is that brokeness that makes me focus on the American middle class and its conventional wisdom.
Now some people say that critical thinking means question everything. But it's funny how Orwell reminds me that the same thing is true today as was true in 1937 - the masses of people who are supposedly better off with a socialist program are not intellectual socialists at all - they completely ignore the principles of 'thesis, antithesis and synthesis'. So it's more about hating the other guys than putting together a solution. No surprise there. More conventional thinking.
So now I get to the title of this with the interesting note that the other day I got an Amber Alert on my iPhone. Did you? If you live in California, you probably did. Why? Because the government mandated that their new texting version of the Emergency Broadcast System was embedded into the technology (that you don't understand) in your iPhone.
Cobb readers know I rail on about scientism, basically the religious belief in science. You know. The people who avoid cholesterol like the plague, but couldn't identify it with a microscope. The people who complain about Americans lagging in math scores but couldn't name one practical application of linear algebra. The people who say other people are anti-science but can't name one successful application of embryonic stem cells and haven't followed up on 'the science' since the election of The One. I could go on about this, but you understand, hopefully.
This skepticism of mine is tightly tied to my undying support of the common man. Yes I am an elitist, or more properly a formalist (formalism only becomes elitism when there are relatively fewer and fewer people left who know how things actually work, knowleged gained by formal education) not that I have any problem whatsoever with tinkering, hacking and experimentation. And so I hate the fact that automobilies have become too complex for people to fix themselves. That computing devices are becoming more opaque. That shoes can no longer be repaired, nor clothing nor houses. We seem to be riding a technological wave of opaquely obsolescent product, and that not only accellerates a wasteful consumerism, but it poisons what's good about *any* consumerism. I want the common man to be able to buy a $550 suit in 1993 and have it still be useful and fashionable in 2003, and cooly retro this summer. I actually have some $200 wingtip shoes that fit that description except they're not even retro. A wingtip is a wingtip, and mine have been repaired three times. Same with watches, cars, refrigerators. These are all mature technologies. Make a repairable beast version that lasts 20 years. Sell it to the common man, so that he can learn in time to fix it himself. That's respect. Anything else is disrespect.
Disrespect is what we get all the time in the consuming mainstream. Why? Because we are suckers to fashion and that's what we deserve.
So. Don't be surprised if someone takes you at your conventionally wise word and starts taking your conventional altruism for granted. If you could help just one little girl from being abducted, would you help? Why sure I would, you say. OK, so now we have implanted this chip in your cell phone that allows us to broadcast Amber alerts. If you could help us capture just one more terrorist, would you help? Why sure I ould, you say. OK, so now we have figured out how to read all the email in the world that allows us to find the bastards. If you could add just 3 more years to your own miserable life, would you help? Why sure I would, you say. OK blam. Sugar is illegal, because we have proved it's bad for you (on average), scientifically.
Did I say a public education should be sufficient to train the leaders of society? If everyone actually gets such an education, then the leadership is more like a voluntary organization. But our governments are a bit far off that mark, neh? Our feel for society is slipping and millions are turning over their autonomy religiously, and the actual leaders are pimping fake science to justify their overlordship. Meanwhile the conventional wisdom is struggling to keep up, which is too bad, because conventional wisdom could be a very good thing, if it were wise enough. Instead, I'm stuck doing battle with the sort that doesn't perceive that which becomes obvious to me, that we are being suckered away from self-service.
Yep. That's a phrase that should have legs. Suckered away from self-service.
For the longest time, I looked at America as a nation unfit for the glory, wealth and power bestowed upon it for its victory in WW2. I had this idea of America as a kind of Bonnie & Clyde era country, with flivvers and six guns, sharecroppers and buffoons in handlebar moustaches thrust upon the world stage before its time. If you've played the campaign of Red Dead Redemption, that's a good rendition of that view. There might have been a lot of sophistication in the world that built the Woolworth Building in New York City, but then again, what would anyone buy of substance from Woolworth's? Probably nothing worthy of a world power. And so that unsophisticated nation of the early 20th century tried to apply all of its formulaes for success to the world, and it always seemed to be a clunky affair.
When I think about Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong singing and playing into those newfangled springy microphones, I look forward a few years to their color pictures. And I see the romantic beginnings of Post War America. When I think of the Three Stooges and Hope & Crosby, I think of the millions of American men who would be drastically affected by WW2. Not very bright men, but men with patriotic courage and faith, with grit and determination over a narrow range of endeavors. Men who make for good soldiering, given the proper equipment. And those men came out victorious behind Monty, Ike and Bradley, despite never having to go to Russia. And we pulled it off, and the world breathed a sigh - Allies triumphant. And those men came home, created a Baby Boom and went to college on the GI bill, moved to brand new suburbs and started driving brand new Cadillacs. In the 1950s we invented a brand new American Way. 1953 was worlds apart from 1933.
It's very hard to argue with the winners, but children always find a way. If Dad was silent and demanding, maybe he was trying to raise you in a way that didn't require him going back in his mind to the days of brandishing a bayonet in the Ardennes. 'Because I said so', makes sense in a world of military orders, but must have looked very strange to causeless rebels in the new suburbia. Maybe we should rename the Baby Boom to The Children of PTSD.
I was born in 1961, on the cusp of something called Generation X. I belong to both worlds, the world of the Boom and the world of the X. My father was a Marine, but he never served in combat. So I knew how 'Because I said so' worked. But I also knew how people who lived through 1969 figured that the end of the world was near and how what transpired before their births was considered unacceptable. I watched the kids older than me reject it all, telling me there was nothing worth respecting in the polluted, racist, push-button, nuclear world we would inherit. I too felt the urge to get out of the American city and go hug a tree, or smoke one.
Eventually, however, I came to love math, science, engineering and mutant superheroes. And there was something precious to me about the fact that my grandfather worked at Yale University and recited from Ovid. I found a world worth discovering, protecting, honoring which wasn't all about rejecting everything in America and in my parents generation. I became distinctly aware of the difference between my future and the future predicted by the Counterculture. I was, in that way, suspect of the Baby Boom.
It's important to note that I also recognized the duality of the Boomers who were pefectly capable of aping their parents' dignity and resolve, manners and standards. Richard Feynman may have been the only genuine man of those years. Everybody else dressed up in grey flannel suits at work and listened to Steppenwolf at home. It was an impenetrable two-faced world. When 1992 rolled around I looked at Bill Clinton and Jerry Brown and it looked as if it was inevitable that the Boomers would finally wrest power from their Cold War parents. But both of those men exemplified quite perfectly what made me queasy about the Boomers. They wore suits. They loved Rock & Roll. They were lawyers who smoked weed. They were longhairs who could 'act presidential'. They danced the dance required of them, and I think ultimately they didn't care about anything but the expedience that finally got them more power than their shell shocked parents.
But I understand.
Generation X remade America through the computer revolution. We didn't put the culture on hold to go smash fascism in Europe. We figured out ways to actually get new functional ideas into people's heads improving upon what they necessarily did. The revolution was actually an evolution of process. For me and my X colleagues, we had to rethink what existed, rationalize it and find a way to fit it into our new machines. We did not have to drop out of society and undo Western Civilization in our heads, spending seven years in Tibet, jail or Jonestown.
I regret the loss of conformity to standards that has melted down over the years as the Boomers replaced the Cold Warriors. I regret the damage I see done to patriotic faith and courage for the sake of the Boomers' counterculture. I resent their attempts at rethinking what human beings are and their multicultural multisexual identity posturing. I am convinced that their struggle to undo and outdo their own parents has generated cynicism at an existential level of threat. I am also convinced that there are millions of parents like me, who have the potential to have undone that threat in one generation. I don't think they're evil, just stupid. And so I find it appropriate to cast them as they so often cast others, as victims of people who had to deal with the hardest reality of all - whom they rejected. To all those 'guys' who say, "Don't call me Mr. Smith, call me Jack, Mr Smith is my father", I say hit the road Jack.
I guess it's a little late for all this...but I'm ready to clear the decks. Now about that Medicare subscription benefit..
The last gasps of George Carlin exemplify how the Boomers, for whom he was a guiding countercultural light have failed to understand humanity. His contempt for pretty much everyone and everything outside of himself was palpable. I have more to say about Carlin, but that's for later.
Coates. Him say:
I have all the repressed rage of a kid who was bullied — except now I have some size to match. At that moment, violent fantasies, wholly unmentionable, were dancing in my head. Contributing to those fantasies was a simple maxim inherited from childhood: “Thou shalt never be found a punk.”
My friends, being like me, and doubtlessly pumped up by the presence of other males, felt the same. There were four of us and two of them. But against all our instincts, we let it pass.
Afterward, we sat around stewing in our anger. Collectively we were a doctor, a filmmaker, an executive vice president at a health care company and a writer. All of us are in our late 30s. Our places in life no longer allowed for barroom brawls. We may well have had the numbers, but we also had our new and invented selves.
And then somebody responded:
How is this different than Italian American, Irish American, or Polish American kids who grow up in the rough and rugged inner city? Another example of Black "elites" pathologizing Blackness with vile racial essentialism. Do Black kids who grew up in Sag Harbor exhibit this behavior? Another example of how the Black "elite" do damage to the masses. This piece basically screams, "STOP AND FRISK IS JUSTIFIED."
My take on this, to put it at the street black level, is that for most of my life, I have identified positively with law enforcement on an abstract level. When I say abstract, it wasn't the local cop I idolized but the Navy Seal, or in the way that I identified with my own father's service in the Marine Corps. My father taught me how to jog, for miles. I knew I could outlast the street thugs, most of whom also could not swim. Aside from that, I knew that the thugs feared cops, and that more than one knucklehead in the 'hood, couldn't hang in the Army. So I always knew there were higher codes of honor that weren't punk codes.
Steven Pinker's latest book on violence reinforces this understanding of the tribalistic nature of non-legal honor codes of small towns and ghettos.
The problem with Coates, as always, is that he is so fraught with the socioeconomic significance of his experience without much (if any) props to people who learned what he's discovering many years ago, and throughout history. As a blogger, I get it. As an editor in a national magazine, it's a bit pathetic.
At some point, which he seems to be approaching, his connected experience with civilization is going to take precedence over his ghetto memories. He's going to have to choose, or become a caricature. I suppose, as a Leftist, he can explain away the contradiction - he certainly will have enough company in New York.
My evolving take on all of this at a higher level, and that I am applying to myself, is that the overwhelming majority of upper middle class America is absent a true martial education. Most of us cannot put two and two together with the understanding that our exercise and diet regimens would make us better fighters. We only think of evolutionary biology when it comes to sex, but not to fighting and war. We understand our attraction to representations of violence, but so few of us actually spar or hunt that we don't realized how much we have intellectualized all of it.
So for me, the solution is simple - a martial education which I will autodidactify on my own behalf.
The point of course is to become an order of magnitude more organic than people we can only judge by the policy implications of their intellectual blather. If Coates or any of his bourgeois buddies had a proper martial education, they would have known exactly where their rights and their abilities would be during 'fighting weather'. Instead, we have chatting class chock full of pussified men who can only show their honor and manhood through the backchannels of literary criticism and policy recommendations.
This is also highly correlated to the death of Trayvon Martin and his co-assailant. And that goes back to Bernie Goetz and the rest and so many other similar situations in the American public. Our problem is that America is full of men who learn, over their entire lives, less than what police officers - who need no college education - learn in a few short months in their respective academies. We have no proper martial education. We don't know our capacities, the law, our emotions and consequently how to handle violent conflict face to face as civilized men.
Of course this extraordinary helplessness and ignorance serves the political purpose of the ever-condescending protectionist liberal reactionaries who find their blather at all times superior to most everyone else's experience with violence. And in that regard, Coates' narrative, absent the possibility of martial education, makes for a useful (but meaningless) segue into ethnic essentialism as has been observed.
The answer is that there is a proper way to deal with drunk belligerent men on the street, but most of us have not been educated.
When something bad happens, people need to be fixed. As readers of Cobb know, I deal with recompense in two dimensions, healing and curing. Is there anyone who beleives that prayers are for curing? Perhaps, but let us presuppose that they are a minority and what is desired in the acceptance of prayers is the sentiment of healing. But let's take this one step further and particular.
What if the person offering healing actually has a cure? What then is the value of their prayers and apologies and sentiments? What if your banker decides to foreclose on your property and then offers you a sympathy card? What if someone who could repair your wallet only decides to feel your pain? You get the picture.
This is why I have increasingly short patience with the sentiments of powerful people.
It's all about the nature of the election. It's just not American.
All that and the decision took less than 15 days. How could any American possibly support the Pope? The Vatican clearly doesn't know a thing about what we expect from leaders. Send Jimmy Carter to examine this process!
I'm not a cynic, I'm a skeptic. Ever since 9-11 I wake up every morning an ask, what blew up while I was asleep. It's not because of any poison nature I have; in fact I have a song in my head every morning when I wake up. If nothing blows up, I can generally remember what that song is. Something blew up today, but yesterday's song was the ILGWU "Look for the Union Label" song. Hand to God.
However when I moved to NYC in 1991, I was fairly accomplished as a road cyclist. The roads in New York suck. So I was forced to ride in Prospect and Central Parks, which at the time were choked to the gills with that human offal known as rollerbladers. We have since gotten rid of them much to our credit, but while they were still a scourge and a blight on civilization I took immense pleasure in watching their blooper videos.
This is now a skeptical sport amongst most of us. America's Funniest Home Videos has been replaced by YouTube in delivering this lovely dish of schadenfruede. We can watch skaters, boarders, skier, moto jockeys and four wheeling Darwin Awards candidates all damned day. Add to that video from Russian dashboard cams and it's 24/7 slapstick. Who could ask for more?
We could, so we did. And the agency of deliverance is Red Bull.
My wife is trying to cure my addition to Red Bull, and for the moment that means she is fixing me tea in the morning instead of chilling my cans. I must say, Constant Comment is the bomb and I've always loved it. So perhaps this Formula 1 season I might even get over Seb Vettel and all things Red Bull. Nah. But still, I think I am getting my fill of extreme stunts filmed in HD with those ubiquitous GoPro cameras.
It (cynically) occurs to me that the best thing about being a cameraman is that you actually do get to see the extreme sports dudes kill themselves. And since they have adrenaline addictions you will get plenty opportunities to see them try and fail over and over again. You understand that my theory about this phenomenon is that only upper middle class Westerners go in for this sort of mania. People from the ghetto don't go looking for death defying sport, they rather wait until it's intimate and then they invite it in the front door. It's funny now that I think about it, I can remember Chris Brown's name, but not the name of the chick he beat up. Either way, the point stands. Young people who are light in the brains department seek to find ways to cheat death by inches at high speed. Some by making friends with hoodlums and its barbarian culture, others by making friends with cameramen who are willing to film them as they jump off cliffs. Thrillsville, dude!
There is nothing quite so painful as watching some scruffy mook attempt and attempt and attempt a reverse transfer 540 double air against some snow covered wall in Helsinki. But this is what YouTube brings our boredom. And to put yourself (because there is plenty of room) inside the head of such a mook is to realize that ulitmately they are going to pull off the trick or die trying. I believe the philsophy goes something like this:
"I am not afraid to die, I am afraid not to live."
Where 'life' in this case is not the responsibility to one's fellow man, but proving oneself to be a singularly fearless daredevil. It sounds rather excitingly brave and admirable until you consider the question of wheter or not they'd continue such feats without cameras and rock & roll soundtracks. C'mon. You know none of these mooks are fugly.
Since I have disengaged from the public square, I won't bother to reiterate my old interest in seeing them be good cannon fodder in some nationalist enterprise. I don't suppose I care quite enough. In fact, I am rather feeling good to think that we have so very many such mooks and that their audience is so large. In terms of survival and running from the bear, I console myself with the very existence of such surplus population. Now *that* is being cynical.
But then why do we watch?
I've been reading over some old stuff here at Cobb and I am reminded of what Obama is and what he is not. What he has become, is a craftier politician than he ever was, and now I think perhaps even mature enough to be the man he clearly wasn't four years ago. Be all that as it may what I want to talk about is The Police State.
As we all know, the Coalition of the Damned has been re-energized by the manifesto, rampage and suicide-by-cop of Christopher Dorner. While they entertain their fading moment and rededication to counter-cultural principles upheld by the Blackademic Soviet, I note the particular silence of the President. In fact, aside from his infamous Beer Summit (Skip Gates) and rhetorical support of the Hoodie Happening (Trayvon Martin), the first black President hasn't had much to say about the Prison Industrial Complex, of which he is naturally The Boss.
I speak up to point out this grand irony to those who are still in the clutches of the illusion that Ghetto Politics is going to remain central to the real affairs of black America. Only people who survived the Middle Passage even got to be slaves, and only those who survived American Slavery got to be Coloreds. Only the Coloreds that survived the great Flu, and Depression lived to be Negroes - but pretty much all Negroes got to be Black. But Black Nationalism and its ghetto politics are dying and the reality that the majority of African Americans are middle class is sinking in. Jay Z and Beyonce are as good as Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe. That ain't ghetto. But still after *two* black LAPD Chiefs, there are still blockheads subscribing to Mumia Abu Jamal inspired racial conspiracy theories.
I have no sympathy because I am a rich American. I try not to hate Americans, but I am often tempted to for the same reasons most of the second and third worlders must. For being so influential and affluent, an awful lot of Americans are pathetically stupid and morally incompetent. Leading the charge towards the Moronic Inferno is that half-assed Coalition of the Damned, hating on police officers and singing NWA lyrics at the top of their idiotic lungs. I am a rich American and I really don't have to put up with bullshit too ignorant to survive where their moral logic would take them anywhere else on this hostile planet.
Barack Obama is a rich American too, but he is beholden to the politics that keep the society intact - a society of Left Americans only slightly more realistic than its obdurate boneheads who on every predictable moment backbite against law and order. I don't have to put up with the bullshit he puts up with, whew. But I wonder if people who really believe the actions of Christopher Dorner are consistent with some kind of black politics are really using all of their marbles. Actually I don't wonder. I think they are using all two of their marbles. (Those with three marbles unequivocally support Affirmative Action). I know that this thing called Black Politics has been devastated by the ascent of Barack Obama and that in the end it may have been his greatest contribution to America.
Barack Obama killed Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Tavis Smiley and all of their minions. But you know zombies...
When the Beltway Snipers, two black men, perpetrated their mass murder, America said, yes obviously they are crazy and it was just their insanity that made them evil killers. It has nothing to do with the dysfunction of American society. But when some white kid perpetrates mass murder, America thinks there must be something wrong with all of us - we need to control our guns because none of us can be trusted.
Well the reason is obvious. If mass-murderous rage can happen in a nice white community, there's obviously something wrong with all of American society. But if black people do some mass murder, well that's not really our civilization, our fault or our problem. Blame it on those crazy Negroes. They're special.
John Allen Muhammed? Psychopath - completely unhinged, nothing he does reflects upon what America is about. Let's put this maniac under the jail as soon as possible. Insane. Evil. Guilty. Case Closed.
Adam Lanza? - Well, he had some mental health challenges. We need to control guns and help people with mental illness. His story illustrates how America needs to get better. We ought to even reconsider the whole Second Amendment to the Constitution.
Now say something.
I used to debate Kwanzaa here at Cobb. It has been many years since I have. But I happened upon an old link and read some history. After reading that, I was reminded that GWBush wished us all a happy Kwanzaa for several years during his administration. It was something I would like to have in my archive. All I could find was this:
Bush Extends Greetings To All Celebrating KwanzaaUS Dept of State ^ | December 19, 2005 | George W. Bush
Posted on Wed Dec 28 2005 11:40:33 GMT-0800 (PST) by presidio9
President Bush December 19 sent warm greetings to all who are celebrating Kwanzaa -- a seven-day observance emphasizing seven principles of African culture.
Kwanzaa, which will begin December 26, represents an African-American and pan-African holiday celebrating family, community and culture.
For additional information see Holidays and African Americans.
Following is the text of the statement:
THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary December 19, 2005
I send greetings to those observing Kwanzaa.
African Americans and people around the world reflect on African heritage during Kwanzaa. The seven days of this celebration emphasize the seven principles of Nguzo Saba -- unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. These values contribute to a culture of citizenship and compassion, and Kwanzaa activities help pass on African values and traditions to future generations.
As families and friends gather for Kwanzaa, Americans remember the many contributions African Americans have made to our country's character and celebrate the diversity that makes our Nation strong. May your commitment to family, faith, and community thrive during this holiday season and throughout the coming year.
Laura and I send our best wishes for a happy Kwanzaa.
Which is pretty good, except that I couldn't get it from the original link to the State Department where the official press release was hosted on the US Government website. It turns out that the current Administration has deleted the reference. Damn.
I have no doubt that I can access very few items from the previous administrations. There's no excuse.
To all my atheist, scientific friends who can't stomach the 'denial' of global warming. Speaking for myself and the friends of mine who consider themselves conservative, our primary dissent is based on economic reality. To wit, you cannot force the Second World to not want cars and plastics and all those industrial processes that generate greenhouse gasses. Folks like me say that there will not be a political solution to 'global climate change', there will be an economic response which finds your idealism naive and wishful.
Into that mix of realpolitik consider the following video, consider a little touch of Sartre, and ask yourself why anybody should really care to support your terrafoming fantasies.
Now who's the religious fanatic?
You know I heard it again. Some genuine, serious, concerned intelligent *bonehead* thought of another way to stop school shootings. It was literally, tax guns away.
Here's where my mind went.
All you people can think to do is vote. You are so socially inept and inconsequential that you can't convince your own neighbors or anyone else. Instead you must gin up a political position based on your interpretation of reality and cram it down everyone else's throat through the force of law.
If such people were in feudal Japan, they would be arguing about how things were going to change when *their* Daimyo made Shogun.
If such people were in feudal Europe, they would be arguing about how things were going to change when *their* Lord became King.
But such people are in America, and so they are arguing about how things will change when their Facebook meme becomes 501c3 and they fund a university study that a congressman sponsors into legislation that is picked up by the networks, and re-emerges over the next 8 years until their presidential candidate makes it a campaign promise that gets signed into some law with an acronym or a little girl's name.
BTW. Here are the last words on gun control.
Once again I am kicking myself for not having read something many years ago and just getting around to it today. This time I'm speaking of Issac Asimov's Foundation.
It is particularly poignant reading the book at this moment as I am becoming the asshole Hari Seldon must have seemed in the story. I don't sense ultimate collapse. Well, let me qualify this all out for those of you who are like I was a week ago - ignorant of the Foundation.
Asimov starts with a principle I too subscribe to which is that small things are unpredictable and large things have more momentum and are thus more predictable. I think of this in terms of mass, energy and information. They all have inertia. Based on this principle, the smartest man of his generation, Hari Selden predicts that all of human civilization, starting with its central imperial planet will inevitably collapse into utter destruction in 500 years. He thus, with his great intuitive and mathematical skills, engineers a scheme to save humanity from itself in the the form of sending 30,000 men of science and their families to a distant world on the edge of the galaxy. This is the Foundation Project. The story moves on from there.
Thus far in the first book of this famous trilogy I am seeing how clever Asimov is in moving his story along the course of the inevitable crises picked by Selden as the large possibilities reduce the options of all protagonists to zero. No matter what the individual actors do, the large events have a certain scientific predestination. And yes he actually invokes matters of science as religion (which I have called 'scientism' here at Cobb) and all of the gnarley implications of predestination.
As part of my own Stoicism and what has been revealed to me through my Peasant Theory, I find myself uniquely aligned with what Asimov was on about. (and I continue) especially as I am becoming the asshole Hari Seldon must have seemed in the story- in particular because I am completely without tears and exclamations at the recent murders in Connecticut. What seems funny to me at the moment is to juxtapose this madness with the madness of Benghazi. Perhaps the perpetrator was outraged at some tasteless parody video on YouTube. I have gotten on the nerves of several associates online because I don't believe that anything should be attempted on matters of gun control and in fact believe that nothing will be done, because to be outraged at the death of these children in particular and consequently impelled to action implies precisely the lack of depth and perception required to undertake such a task.
People don't suddenly become intelligent and capable of proper judgment when it comes to these matters, there's too much inertia. To attach emotionally to the subject (misperceived as one of gun control) is to implicate oneself as incompetent.
At any rate, that's my cold-eyed analysis for today, and I'll be damned for it.
This afternoon I had a passing thought that struck me about the paradox of American democracy as we go through the melodrama of red and blue states. It is how identity politics and class warfare, two social phenomenon that I find particularly nauseating, are both the inevitable result of democracy and inimical to American exceptionalism.
What I perceive about class in America is that it is moving from the uncomfortable zone of the Obama rhetoric towards something more entrenched. Not me. I have too much class to go in for that class warfare stuff. I'm more about class prerogatives and measured expectations. The way I've described it before is that class is the thing we really want when we finally realize how unforgiving a true meritocracy is.
The problem with class warfare in America is not that America is a classless society. It is not a classless society and never was. But America has been a transparent and open society with some shared sense of destiny. Americans still have that sense, but it is being tried. I am watching with interest as the truth of class differences and interests keeps getting reiterated for the purposes of warfare in our public life. I look at America as the place where you can take your family to Morton's Steakhouse in Beverly Hills for Dad's birthday and hey look that's Ben Stein over there at the bar. And on any day there are probably a couple millionaires right there at Morton's and everybody is cool with that. They're not trying to hide away from you and you're not trying to hide away from them. America is ideally like that restaurant. No matter how rich you are, you can trust the waiter with your credit card.
But is that continuing to be the case? Have we really started to bend that sociability to the breaking point? I think that in the main, we have. And I think it is the fault of nasty self-righteous new money bastards. In other words, an improper elite who have taken a bit too much upon themselves. But here's the thing. The more that certain opportunists exploit class differences, the more it accellerates the bastardization of the elites. It's getting to the point at which the upper middle class has to ask itself seriously if putting up with the abuse is worth it. It is also the fault of shameless lazy chav bastards. And you can witness all of their Snoop Dogg shenanigans on any cable network because the cable networks are owned by nasty self-righteous new money bastards. In other words, one set of bastards is pissing off another set, and they're all taking our society down the tubes because genuine ambition is getting a bad name. Sellouts and shoppers. Everybody has an exit strategy.
I think I have depressed myself by writing this and I don't want to any longer. I'll take up the balance on another day.
Was it Chris Rock who gave us a guide for newly married men to respond to their wives' endless tirades about their day? "Uh huh. No kidding? I don't believe it. I told you that bitch was crazy." These are the proper grunts, stretched into phrases of support and understanding. But the last one is key, because there's always a crazy bitch. It's as true as 'follow the money', cherchez la femme.
But some machos don't have time to reflect on the need some women have to have their daily behavior analyzed, commented upon and put into proper persepctive. And into that gap deftly leaps the gamma male. You know who I'm talking about. First seat at the fern bar, just waiting to share stories about how all men are dogs, especially his man. And what woman can resist a male sob sister, given that Chris Rock must surely be another typical sexist brute?
It occurs to me that in Hollywood, there are never stories of infidelity between homosexual men, and in this I find a great deal of intrigue. Everybody in the English speaking world will know by the end of this week that Kevin Clash, millionaire friend of Oprah and superstar voice of Elmo will have resigned from Sesame Street because of allegations of sexual impropriety. What kind of sexual impropriety? Apparently he liked teenaged boys. Well, teenaged boys under the magic number of 18. 18 year olds and 19 year old boys are just peachy if perhaps slightly unfashionable, but what do I know? I know that the Liberaces of the world never lose their fortunes and possibilities for employment through the putrid public scandals attached to infidelity.
That's because when it comes to such matters for gay promiscuity, as they say in the PC dictionary, 'not that there's anything wrong with that'.
I'm not being fair of course. I'm one of those individuals for whom the prospect of gay marriage seems downright oxymoronic. But we don't need to get into that. Surely single hetero men are legendarily promiscuous and nobody dings them for that. Surely they should be celebrated, and aren't they? If gay men were allowed to marry, surely their transgressions would be as serious and Hollywood would scandalize them equally. Do you believe that? I don't.
What I believe is this.
In the wild and wolfish world that is Hollywood, it is generally accepted that a certain quota of degenerate sexuality is natural. Hollywood, according to this theory, is just chock full of beautiful people that every human on the planet wants to bed. That is just human nature, and human nature abhors a vaccuum of libertine booty snatching. If everybody were as hot as Hollywood hot, then they'd be screwing like bunnies all the time. So of course uninhibited beautiful people are always on the boink, that is how it's supposed to be. Of course this makes for a dog eat dog world of youth and beauty - they go hand in hand. The ordinary people in flyover country, who are by Hollywood standards, unfuckable, have to settle for monogamy, and they dress it up with fake solemnity and call that tedious condition Marriage. But all people who are married are really hypocrites because they really don't love each other, they're just locking in a contract on the best they can do. Proof? Divorce rate. And we would have learned this sooner if we weren't a nation of regressive homophobic prudes.
The more we can prove that all of America's monogamous prudery is hypocritical, the more we can accept the real truth of human sexuality that is the truth of Hollywood's beautiful people. Movie stars, rock stars, TV stars. Everybody wants to be one. Right?
In the news business, which is owned by the entertainment business, we know that scandal sells. It monetizes the Hollywood theory of human sexuality, youth and beauty. And there is nothing so deliciously juicy as the gamma male nailing the married man. Because all men are dogs, and it takes one to know one, except the gamma male is different, because he is not a hypocrite.
Every once in a while I hear a bunch of noise about Citizens United being a singular perversion about the ideas of liberty and free speech blah blah. I never paid so much attention to that controversy assessing in a reactionary way that the opponents will spend as much money as they like to defend whatever it is they want to defend. Just because they don't call it a corporation doesn't change matters. I roll this in with my growing skepticism about democratic aggregation in the Peasant Theory. More on DA later.
Apparently Justice Alito has saved me some trouble with his own snappy answer. Or was it Roberts?
But basically the snappy answer is this. Does the New York Times have a First Amendement right to free speech? Is the New York Times a corporation? Case closed.
So let me tell you what I really think.
I think that to ask any political question about the subject matter of 'global climate change' is ridiculous in the first place, and asking for trouble in the second place. I shall first recount some of my own blather on the matter I recently posted to Facebook.
I agree that American politics on the matter of climate change is ridiculous, pointless and mental masturbation. The only aspect of it that actually does have any credibility is the extent to which some fraction of the populous is compelled to defend scientific research. I have sympathy with that - however the 'science clique' has resorted to demogoguery of the worst kind, and that's the thing that annoys me. So I always make a point to raise matters of scientific study that do not support the popular scientistic consensus.
Of course I also enjoy mocking Progressives on this particular matter because it is the rise of the BRICs that will, should the entire 'carbon theory' prove correct, be responsible for what warming there would be. So how will Progressives convince Indians and Chinese to *not* want first world transportation systems? And how would global anything be enforced without empire? I think these are questions they are too dainty to address - that they would rather pick on Americans than deal with the actual environmental intransigence of the global populations.
Tangentially, if science is so smart, how come they are so often hapless do-gooders? I mean how have they not figured out how to get along with each other, form a cabal and have their way with everything? Hmm. Maybe it's because they're just dreaming and have delusions of grandeur. Or perhaps they simply don't believe in actual reality as much as political reality. After all, you cannot make money betting against reality in reality-based markets. So where is the reality-based market on the delivery of cotton in China? Everywhere. It's as old as China itself. Well, anyway, back to the topic at hand.
When I get really serious about questions of climate change, the most important question I have deals with how the world's food is produced and distributed, because truly the only thing that is going to make an important difference is whether or not what is good farmland and good fishery today is going to be good tomorrow. And indeed nobody's livlihood depends more on weather than farmers. Am I right? So take JR Simplot for egregious example. They are the world's king of potatoes. And if I had a metric I would do as Paolo Bacigalupi has done in his excellent 'The Windup Girl' and begin to measure total world food production in terms of calories and then divide that by how many people are in the world. Who grows how many calories and who eats how many calories, now what's the price of calories? How we know this about gasoline and oil and don't know it for food shows how unimportant the food problem is. Today.
So when do the weather watchers, who are also money minders, at JR Simplot say. Hmm. We may have to relocate out of Idaho because the climate has changed and Idaho just don't mean potatoes any more. Do the global warmists think JR Simplot are a bunch of dumb micks who will just die out in a potato blight? They surely think that the dudes at BP are bloody geniuses who will exploit the last drop of oil where ever on the globe it may be. So I think that sort of thinking should be applied to all of the seed bankers and mega-agriculturalists on the globe. Which is to say, they will figure out how to feed us all because it's in their interests, and furthermore the weather is not going to creep up on these guys. I am trying to imagine which group of eggheads has more access to more satellite time, feeds, maps and data - the scientists at Monsanto or the grad students at East Anglia? Duh.
So now you know my drift. I am much more interested in food scarcity as reflected in the business of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the likes of Duke & Duke. Nobody ever, ever, ever puts these two things together when talk about 'global climate change' is discussed. That's because they are politicizing the 'science' and ignoring the economics. Yeah I said 'they', and I don't bother to find out who they are.
Here's the nut. Whatever the hockey stick is with climate change, farmers will move production, swap crops and otherwise be quicker than the weather or the climate. Say what you like about El Nino or the Ozone Hole, neither Katrina nor Sandy made one whit of difference to Iowa. When hurricanes get as far west as Ohio, maybe we can all take a hint. And what about you and me? You and I will eat whatever. Hell, if we can miss Twinkies and put up with non-alcholic beer, we really have no worries.
Now let me speak my other piece.
That is about the BRICs. Well, I'll just underscore the fact that so long as people on Earth will want automobiles for their personal transportation, then we'll keep using fossil fuels for cars. And we'll keep burning coal for electricity because we all want nightlife. And nobody in these environmental movements will, in the next 40 years (because they're all the same and they haven't done a damned thing about Sudan or Tibet - all they do is move to Seattle and take trips to Alaska to wash oily ducks) will suggest we go to war in order to stop the Chinese from polluting the planet, or the Russians or the Indians or anyplace else that horrendously polluted. Hell we don't even stop Mexico, and have you been to Ciudad Juarez? Holy crud!
So. Show me where agribusiness is losing the war against weather on a crop by crop basis with regard to the cost of global calorie provision, and I'll tell you exactly what I care about global climate change.
Interesting Link: USDA Global Agricultural Report
As I received it in the mail this morning:
Dear American liberals, leftists, social progressives, socialists, regressive, Marxists, and Obama supporters, et al:
have stuck together since the late 1950s for the sake of the kids, but
the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I
want a divorce. I know we tolerated each other for many years for the
sake of future generations, but sadly, this relationship has clearly run
Our two ideological sides of America cannot and
will not ever agree on what is right for us all, so let's just end it on
friendly terms. We can smile and chalk it up to irreconcilable
differences and go our own way.
Here is a model separation agreement:
two groups can equitably divide up the country by land mass, each
taking a similar portion. That will be the difficult part, but I am sure
our two sides can come to a friendly agreement. After that, it should
be relatively easy. Our respective representatives can effortlessly
divide other assets since both sides had such distinct and disparate
2. We don't like redistributive taxes, so you can keep them.
3. You are welcome to the liberal judges and the ACLU.
4. Since you hate guns and war, we'll take our firearms, the cops, the NRA, and the military.
5. We'll take the nasty, smelly oil industry and you can go with wind, solar, and bio-diesel.
You can keep Oprah, Michael Moore, and Rosie O'Donnell. You are,
however, responsible for finding a bio-diesel vehicle big enough to move
all three of them.
7. We'll keep capitalism, greedy corporations, pharmaceutical companies, Wal-Mart, and Wall Street.
8. You can have your beloved lifelong welfare dwellers, food stamps, homeless homeboys, hippies, druggies, and illegal aliens.
9. We'll keep the hot Alaskan hockey moms, greedy CEO's and Rednecks.
10. We'll keep the Bibles and give you NBC and Hollywood.
11. You can make nice with Iran and Palestine and we'll retain the right to invade and hammer places that threaten us.
You can have the peace-niks and war protesters. When our allies or our
way of life are under assault, we'll help provide them security.
13. We'll keep our Judeo-Christian values.
You are welcome to Islam, Scientology, Humanism, political correctness,
and Shirley McLain. You can also have the U.N., but we will no longer
be paying the bill.
15. We'll keep the SUV's, pickup trucks, and oversized luxury cars. You can take every Prius you can find.
16. You can give everyone healthcare if you can find any practicing doctors.
17. We'll continue to believe healthcare is an earned luxury and not a right.
18. We'll keep "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "The National Anthem."
19. I'm sure you'll be happy to substitute "Imagine", "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing", "Kum Ba Ya," or "We Are the World".
20. We'll practice trickledown economics and you can continue to give trickle up poverty your best shot.
21. Since it often so offends you, we'll keep our history, our name and our constitution and our flag.
Would you agree to this? If so, please pass it along to other
like-minded liberal and conservative patriots and if you do not agree,
just hit delete. In the spirit of friendly parting, I'll bet you answer
which one of us will need whose help in 15 years.
John J. Wall
Law Student and an American
P.S.: Also, please take Ted Turner, Sean Penn, Martin Sheen, Barbara Streisand, George Clooney and Jane Fonda with you.
P.S.S..: And you won't have to "Press 1 for English" when you call our country.
**If you can't stand behind our Military, please feel free to stand in front of them! **
I think they've named a lot of things in a lot of people's heads. People who don't really have the time or inclination to engage the public via the Chatting Classes.
I have found comfort in my adopted ridiculously expensive neighborhood of Redondo Beach and now I have some feeling about propriety - some sense of not giving up an inch to the Element. It's partial. But if it were my town, where all my property was, I would defend it to an extreme degree.
If there were some way to get all the property owners in unison on those matters of keeping the proper laws in place, I think there would be no secession. But I think many have turned against the ownership society. And so we will be under a state of siege for some time. But there is everything in owning your own castle and running it properly.
My point is that secession of the mind in society is not complete, and I believe that people with a sense of propriety will simply bar the doors, not move. We will not flee to Red States. We simply will not flee. We can stand our ground wherever we are. At some point, the secession of the mind will be complete, and people once again will have creeds that matter.
So provisionally, this is the new creed of Cobb the Downsider:
Sense Amid Madness. Wit Amidst Folly.
Just because I thought you might want to know, I think David Petraeus is way too smart and far too disciplined to crumble under a certain kind of political pressure. And I further think that at some point he would be duty bound to say what he knew and when about various matters that would make an ex-President look foolish, but would irreparably damage a sitting President. So instead of damaging a sitting President, he found a convincing sword upon which to fall.
I'll have to remember that trick. it's really quite simple. Hell, all he needed to do was go to South America with the Secret Service...
Now. Where do I go if I'm David Petraeus?
Inevitably, people talk about America's 'Prison Industrial Complex'. Why do Americans jail so many people on a per capita basis? It's because we value property and morality, it's part of the American Dream. In other words, we do it for you, you peasant!
To understand this, all you have to realize is that we are punishing more crime than other countries. Very specifically, you cannot bribe policemen or judges in America. If you want to be a petty theif, drug dealer or thug, America is the wrong country for you. Elsewhere, you can get away with it. Here, you cannot escape the justice system. Consider the crime of assault. Notice that there is also aggravated assault and assault with a deadly weapon and assault and battery. The latter crimes are more serious, but the former remains a crime punishable by jail. Breaking and entering. Theft. Grand theft. Grand theft auto.
What is the difference between theft and grand theft? Grand theft means you are stealing something worth more than $1000. Ahh. Now we are getting somewhere. America is willing to send people to jail for crimes that don't even cost $1000. And it obviously cost more than $1000 to jail them. To arrest them, send them to trial and then house and feed them in jail costs way more money than that. What are we trying to prove?
We are trying to prove that crime against people who aren't rich is still crime, and it will be punished.
Who cares if I punch you in the face? Who cares if I break your daughter's leg? Who cares if I dent your precious automobile? Who cares if I steal your TV? The American criminal justice system. And that's why America puts so many people behind bars. Because we care about crimes against peasant nobodies like you and your tedious desires, your petty ambitions, and your peace of (tiny) mind. We save you from the consequences of your predictable, miserable failures. And this is because we have a liberal plurality. Let me remind you about one of the differences between conservatives and liberals. Conservatives use the strength of the family and private institutions to protect against the abuses of the state. Liberals use the power of the state to protect against dysfunctions of private institutions and family. Who wants more jail? Liberals want more jail.
You are correct to believe we live in a police state. It's more accurate to say that we live in a first responder state. There are millions of people employed by the government, federal, state and local, to take care of yon bohunks in their emergencies. All you have to do is pick up your pocket communication device, any time of the day or night, punch three buttons and whine out your complaint, and some officials will get involved in your life and help you out of your little jam.
Bullies text threats to a fat girl online? Call 911. Rowdy teenagers throw a brick through your window? Call 911. Drunk college students set a trashcan on fire? Call 911. Your dumbshit husband treats you like dumb shit? Call 911. Operators are standing by to send all those bastards to jail.
If you could take care of yourself, you wouldn't have to pay for somebody else to take care of you. If we in the public ignored your complaining and told you that you were on your own, there would be no public law and regulations, an therefore no public system to get into your business. We would be under no public obligation to take over your private failure.
But then that wouldn't be America, would it?
Obama 2012 Pakistan strikes
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The events detailed here have been reported by US or Pakistani government, military and intelligence officials, and by credible media, academic and other sources in 2012.
For the 2011 Pakistan drone strike database click here and for the 2010 data click here . A database incorporating all 2009 drone strikes in Pakistan after President Obama’s inauguration is here . For the database encompassing the President Bush strikes, from 2004 to 2009, click here .
c. January 4th 2012
♦ 0 total killed
The first hoped-for US strike of 2012 did not happen, according to the Washington Post, following a veto by Pakistan , with the two countries still locked in negotiations over new terms for CIA drone attacks:
In a rare display of deference early this month, the CIA informed the Pakistani government that it planned a drone strike against a terrorist target in the North Waziristan tribal region and asked Islamabad’s permission. When Pakistan declined, the strike was canceled, officials said.
Ob257 – January 10 2012
♦ 1-4 total killed
♦ 2 injured (woman and child)
The longest pause of the Obama drone war in Pakistan (55 days) came to an abrupt end when in a late evening attack two missiles destroyed a mudbrick house just outside Miranshah. Up to four alleged militants were reported killed, with Reuters initially citing Pakistani officials as saying the victims were ‘foreign fighters of Arab and possibly also Uzbek extraction.’ Qasim Noor, a student who witnessed the attack, told Associated Press : ‘ It was an unusually big bang. Since it was extremely cold I didn’t leave the house, but could see a house on fire. In the morning, we saw a modest mud house had been destroyed.’ Ten days after the strike Reuters reported that the attack killed Aslam Awan aka Abdullah Khorasani, who it described as a Pakistan-born senior external operations operative for al Qaeda . Pakistan’s The News reported that a Saudi national may also have died. According to a local tribesman:
A guest from the holy land (Saudi Arabia) living in a ramshackle house was killed on the spot but his wife and a son staying in the same room survived’.
The attack led to a number of protests in Pakistan. On February 22 Reuters reported that US Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all spoke with senior Pakistani officials just prior to the attack to let them know the campaign would be resuming. The News later claimed that according to its sources in the security establishment this strike – and one on February 9 2012 – ‘was carried out on a tip off provided by the Pakistani intelligence community.’
Location: Miranshah, North Waziristan
References: Associated Press , Express Tribune , Xinhua , Daily Telegraph ,MSNBC , CNN , BBC , The Bureau , Reuters , Los Angeles Times , Washington Post , Voice of America , Dawn , The News , McClatchy, Reuters , Express Tribune , New York Times , Reuters , The News , The News
Ob258 – January 12 2012
♦ 5-9 total killed
♦ 2-3 injured
Up to nine militants, mostly Turkmeni, were killed in a US strike on two vehicles in Dogga, 18 miles west of Miranshah. Reuters reported a Pakistani intelligence source as saying: ”The missiles hit two cars that were heading towards the border. Several foreigners were in the cars, but we have no information on their nationalities yet.’ The News reported that those killed
Were sitting in their vehicles after performing their Maghrib prayers when they came under attack. They said the double cabin pick-up vehicle caught fire and four men were killed on the spot. Their badly mutilated bodies were pulled out of the destroyed vehicle later. Another person, villagers said, was killed in the car. His body was mutilated and beyond recognition. There was no way to ascertain the identity of the slain men.’
Reports for a while claimed that Pakistan Taliban (TTP) leader Hakimullah Mehsud may have been killed in the attack , based on radio intercepts. The TTP denied the claim.
Location: Dogga near Datta Khel, North Waziristan
References: Dawn , IRNA , BBC , Pakistan Today , Reuters , Voice of America ,The Nation , CNN , AFP , Express Tribune , The News , Fox News , The Nation ,Press Trust of India , McClatchy , The News , ABC News Radio , Dawn , Asia Times , The News
Ob259 – January 23 2012
♦ 4-5 total killed
♦ 1 injured
Up to four alleged Turkmeni militants – possibly allied to al Qaeda, according to Reuters – were reported killed in a morning strike on a vehicle in North Waziristan. The vehicle was en route from Degan to Datta Khel and according to the BBC ‘was engulfed by fire after the missile strike. A nearby house was also damaged.’ A related attack on a house may have taken place in the nearby village of Mohammad Khel.
Ob259c – January 23 2012
♦ 0-2 total killed
Two missiles may also have struck a house in Mohammad Khel. CNN reported local intelligence officials as saying that nobody was killed in the attack, although The News reported local tribesmen as saying that two people died. This attack may be confused with Ob259 – awaiting clarification.
Ob259ci – February 1 2012
♦ 13-20 total killed
There were clashing reports as to the source of an early morning attack on four Pakistan Taliban (TTP) compounds in Orukzai Agency. Dawn reported that the strike was carried out by the Pakistan Air Force – and that a TTP commander may have been killed. Earlier there had been some speculation as to whether US drones were involved .
Ob260 – February 8 2012
♦ 9-10 total killed
♦ 2-12 injured
Ten alleged militants were killed in an early morning attack on a house near Miranshah, North Waziristan. One anonymous Pakistani official reported: ‘The locals have pulled out nine bodies and around a dozen injured from the rubble of demolished house.’ ‘There was wide speculation about the victims. One source claimed that those killed were part of a group run by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a local militant commander. A second reported that the Haqqani Network may have been targeted. Other Pakistan intelligence sources suggested that some of the targets were ‘from central Asia’, or from the Punjab . It was the first confirmed CIA drone strike in more than two weeks.
Ob261 – February 9 2012
♦ 5-8 total killed
♦ 0-2 civilians reported killed, including 1 child
♦ 3 injured
Badar Mansoor, the commander of a Pakistan Taliban faction with strong links to al Qaeda, was among at least five people killed in a 4am attack by the CIA in Miranshah, North Waziristan, the second US strike in 24 hours. AFP named the other dead as Qari Fayaz, Maulvi Faisal Khurasani, Qari Mushtaq and Yasir Khurasani. There was confusion about whether civilians had also died or were only injured in the strike. Reuters cited a Pakistan Taliban commander as saying that Mansoor’s family died alongside him .
He was living in a small rented house with his wife and children in Miranshah. He, his wife and two other members of his family died on the spot.
Other sources stated either that one wife was killed, one wife and one child, or that one or both wives were injured in the attack, ‘possibly the wife and daughter of Mansoor.’ Badar Mansoor (aka Fakher Zaman) took over the local leadership of Al Qaeda after the death in a drone strike of Ilyas Kashmiri in summer 2011. AFP reported Pakistani intelligence officials as saying ‘Mansoor was responsible for attacks in Karachi and on the minority Ahmadi community that killed nearly 100 people in the eastern city of Lahore in May 2010.’ Officials told Reuters that ‘the death toll could rise because of damage to buildings next to the one targeted by the drone.’
Three policemen were murdered in Peshawar on February 24 by militants calling themselves the Sheikh Abdullah Azaam Brigade. Six other officers were wounded in the triple suicide bombing of a police station, which the Brigade said ‘was to avenge the killing of Badr Munir in a drone attack. The group warned that there would be more such attacks,’ according to The Nation.
On March 8 Al Qaeda’s media wing released a nine minute eulogy for Mansoor,claiming that :
America is now more eagerly attacking the Pakistani government’s targets. The drone program is being run with the full consent, permission and cooperation of the Pakistani government.
The News later claimed that according to its sources in the security establishment this strike – and one on January 10 2012 – ‘was carried out on a tip off provided by the Pakistani intelligence community.’
Location: Miranshah, North Waziristan:
References: AFP , ABC News , Reuters , Associated Press , AFP , Reuters , Fox News , Associated Press , CNN , BBC , New York Times , MSNBC, McClatchy ,AFP , The Nation , The News (Pakistan) , Central Asia Online , Dawn (AP) , The News
Ob262 – February 16 2012
♦ 6 total killed
♦ 4-7 injured
An early morning strike on a house in Spalga, near Miranshah, killed six alleged militants. Four were seriously injured. At least three Pakistani security officials in the area confirmed the attack, which a number of reports claimed was against the Haqqani Network. The strike came five days after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told Al Jazeera :
I want to inform you that we did not allow or give permission to fly drones from Pakistan. Drones are counter productive and we have discussed it thoroughly with the US administration.
Location: Spalga near Miranshah, North Waziristan
References:Express Tribune , AFP , Press Trust of India , Radio Free Europe , The Nation (Pakistan) , Associated Press , Al Jazeera , CNN , PTI , Washington Post, AAP , Voice of America , BBC , Time , Dawn , Express Tribune , Daily Times ,The News , Frontier Post
Ob263 – February 16 2012
♦ 10-15 total killed
♦ Unknown injured
In the second drone strike of the day up to 15 alleged militants died in an attack on a pick-up truck in Mir Ali. A number of reports referred to the dead as ‘Uzbek Islamists.’ According to a Pakistani security official ‘the vehicle caught fire and the dead bodies are badly mutilated.’ Four drones were reported to take taken part, according to villagers. One told The News: ‘No one could risk his life to get close to the destroyed vehicle and retrieve bodies of the slain people due to fear of the drones which were still flying over the area even after the attack.’
Ob263a – February 25 2012
♦ 0 killed
The News reported that Pakistani troops searching for the wreckage of a crashed US drone narrowly missed injury when a missile was fired from a circling drone. A senior local official told the paper:
We were looking for the wreckage of the drone in Machikhel village, Mir Ali, and were almost close to the debris of the destroyed aircraft when one of the drones flying over the area fired a missile and hit two missiles lying on the ground. It would have caused heavy losses to security forces and others engaged in the search operation. They were lucky to survive.
The US drone had crashed earlier that day, with the Taliban claiming it had shot the UAV down. Militants allied to Hafiz Gul Bahadur told Reuters: ‘The drone today in Machikhel was flying at low altitude and our fighters fired at and shot it down. We have trained people for such type of job. We got hold of half of the wreckage and were looking for the remaining parts when the Pakistan army troops arrived there and then we decided to leave. The troops fired heavy search lights and are looking for wreckage of the drone.’ A US official denied that the drone had been shot down.
A drone fired two missiles on a vehicle. At least eight militants were killed. It is not immediately clear if some important target was hit in the missile strike.’
The News reported that those killed wereallied to the Pakistan Taliban (TTP) and as well as ‘local Mehsud’ may have included ‘some foreign militants.’ Der Spiegel later reported that the morning strike killed Samir H, 29, a German citizen. At least one of three missiles hit the vehicle, a pick-up truck, killing Samir and 11 others, the magazine continued. The attack that killed Samir occurred on the same day that Islamabad announced the imminent replacement of controversial spy chief General Ahmad Shuja Pasha. Pasha, who had run the ISI for four years, was to be replaced by Lt. General Zaheerul Islam the following week.
Born in west German city of Aachen to a German convert mother and a Tunisian father, Samir left Germany for Pakistan in October 2009. He traveled first to Iran then Pakistan, accompanied by his wife, a German of Tunisian descent, his son Hamsa and his daughter Shaima. Der Spiegel reported German investigators believed Samir to be one of the most dangerous Islamists in the country. The magazine cited a 2010 video posted by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in which he refers to himself as Abu Laith. His sister Soumaia left for Waziristan in 2010 where she is believed to remain. Der Spiegel reported this strike had the potential to reignite the debate in Germany on the legality of the drones by the US and could increase diplomatic tensions between the two countries.
Ob264a – March 9 2012
♦ 0-6 killed
Two sources reported a second strike. The first reportedly hit a vehicle, killing up to 15 militants. The second strike was said to have hit a house 12 kilometres away, killing ‘six Uzbeks.’
Ob265 – March 13 2012
♦ 6-8 reported killed
♦ 2-4 injured
Two senior commanders of a Taliban faction were among up to eight people killed in a CIA strike on South Waziristan. The men – part of a group commanded by Maulvi Nazir – died in an attack on their vehicle. An eyewitness identified one of the commanders as Amir Hamza Toji Khel - described as ‘a prominent member of the newly established council of the militants namely Shura Muraqiba’. The shura was reportdely formed in late December 2011 ‘to sort out differences among militant groups and stop killing of local tribesmen by terming them “spies”.’ The other commander was named as Shamsullah, reported to be an assistant to Maulvi Nazir himself. Two other deceased militants were named as Wajahat and Abdullah. Although Nazir’s group fights in the insurgency in Afghanistan, it has maintained a six year ceasefire with Pakistan’s forces inside Waziristan, making it highly unlikely that Islamabad would have endorsed the strike.
Ob266 – March 13 2012
♦ 7 reported killed
♦ 3 injured
A strike was reported on another vehicle ‘some hours later’ in the borderlands of North and South Waziristan, killing seven militants. According to the Frontier Post ‘locals of the area said that a double cabin pick up was hit by missiles from drone planes which killed seven people burning down the pick-up to ashes. It was not known who were the killed ones.’ The News reported that the men were also part of Maulvi Nazir’s Taliban group.
Ob267 – March 30 2012
♦ 4 reported killed
♦ 3 injured
A house in the market area of Miranshah town was destroyed in a 3am attack, killing four alleged militants. According to AFP, the CIA strike also triggered a fire in the moneychangers’ market . The blast reportedly destroyed five shops including a bakery, three grocery shops and a telephone kiosk. Eyewitness Yousuf Khan described the attack and aftermath: ‘I was sleeping in my home when a deafening sound woke me up. Fearing that my house has been attacked, I peeped out of my window and saw flames raging from the building facing my house. Two men holding Kalashnikov rifles warned me to go inside. I shut the window and went to sleep.” There were competing claims as to the identity of the victims. AP cited intelligence officials saying that those killed and injuredwere Uzbeks ; Reuters reported that they were local Taliban ; and agency AGIclaimed they were ‘Arabs.’ MSNBC later aired footage of the aftermath of the attack , showing that it took place in a built-up market area of the town.
MSNBC airs footage of the strike
The drone strike came at a highly sensitive time, with a recent Parliamentary Committee on National Security report to Islamabad’s parliament calling for an end to all US drone strikes in Pakistan, and during high-level negotiationsbetween the US and Pakistan on possible new rules, said to include limiting the type of strikes, and informing Pakistan in advance. A senior unnamed US officialvoiced rare internal criticisms of the US programme telling CNN that the White House was making a serious mistake by putting the options on the table for the Pakistanis to seize.
The big mistake was the administration – I did try to warn them – that once you put it on the table, it will only get worse. Sure enough, once they put it on the table, (Pakistan) grabbed it, and they’ve run with it and now it’s the centerpiece of their negotiations.”
The senior official also voiced criticisms of CIA Director David Petraeus: ‘The director and I have had serious go-rounds about this particular issue before he did it, and he did it anyway. And now I think we’re paying the price.”
Ob268 – April 29 2012
♦ 3-6 reported killed
♦ 2-3 injured
Despite ongoing negotiations between the US and Pakistan – and a unanimous vote by Pakistan’s parliament to end the drone strikes – the CIA ended a 29-day pause by bombing an ex-girls’ school in Miranshah and killing up to six alleged militants – among them the leader of an Uzbek militant group. The school was reportedly engulfed in flames. Locals described four drones flying over the town prior to the attack. Pakistan strongly condemned the strike , describing it as ‘in total contravention of international law and established norms of interstate relations.’ At the same time US counter-terrorism chief John Brennan went on American TV to claim that ‘Sometimes you have to take life to save lives.’
We intercepted internal conversation of the militants asking for arranging four coffins for the slain men in the drone attack. We don’t know about their identity and nationality but those living in the girls’ school were mostly Arabs.
However Associated Press reported another official as saying the victims may have been ‘Uzbek or Tajik militants.’ Dawn reported that the target was ‘Punjab Taliban . And an anonymous US official later said that the school was a “staging and planning area for Al Qaeda, the Haqqanis and other terrorists.’ In August 2012 the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan reported on its Furqon website that its leader, Uthman/ Usman Atil, had died in the attack . Atil had replaced previous IMU leader Tahir Yuldashev, also killed by a drone.
Location: Miranshah, North Waziristan
References: Reuters , Associated Press , Al Jazeera , AFP , Punjab News , MSNBC, Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs , Los Angeles Times ,New York Times ,Express Tribune , Wall Street Journal , AP , NPR , Dawn , New York Times ,Furqon (Uzbek) , Long War Journal , The News , The News
Ob269 – May 5 2012
♦ 8-10 reported killed
♦ 1-3 injured
♦ 0-10 civilians reported killed
The CIA carried out its third drone strike during ongoing sensitive negotiations with Pakistan. Missiles hit an alleged militant training camp in the forested Shawal area, killing up to ten people. The Pakistan Observer reported local claims that the dead were ‘local tribesmen’ rather than militants. CNN reported the dead as members of the Pakistan Taliban according to Muhammad Amin, a senior government offiicial in the region. The Frontier Post reported that locals were afraid to assist in rescue work as up to four drones remained in the area after the attack. Pakistan’s government once again condemned the strike in strong terms , calling the attack ‘illegal’ and stating that
It is our considered view that the strategic disadvantages of such attacks far outweigh their tactical advantages, and are therefore, totally counter productive.
The attack came just days after chief US counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan said that the US would seek to respect other nations’ sovereignty in its drone strikes. Leon Panetta, US Defense Secretary, also confirmed that ‘the United States is going to defend itself under any circumstances.’
Location: Shawal, North Waziristan
References: AFP , MSNBC , Reuters , Associated Press , BBC , PTI , Frontier Post, The News , The Nation (Pakistan) , SANA , McClatchy , Dawn , Express Tribune, CNN , Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ob270 – May 23 2012
♦ 4-5 reported killed
♦ 2 injured
In the first recorded US drone strike in Pakistan in 18 days, up to five alleged militants were killed in a 2.40am strike on a house in Datta Khel, with ‘several’ injured. As many as five drones were reported over Miranshah at the time of the attack, suggesting a possible High Value Target may have been present. AFPreported residents as saying that the bodies of those killed had been charred badly, and that militants had cordoned off the area and were sifting through the rubble.
The strike came despite continuing Pakistani protests at the attacks, and an ongoing dispute with the United States about the resumption of the delivery of NATO supplies to Afghanistan through the country. At the NATO summit in Chicago, two days before the strike, President Obama told reporters : ‘I don’t want to paper over real challenges there. There’s no doubt that there have been tensions between [the NATO military coalition] and Pakistan, the United States and Pakistan over the last several months.’
Location: Datta Khel Kalai near Miranshah, North Waziristan
References: Xinhua , Los Angeles Times , Associated Press , AFP , BBC , CNN ,GeoTV , Christian Science Monitor , Deccan Herald , Express Tribune , The News
Ob271 – May 24 2012
♦ 10-12 reported killed
♦ 3 injured
♦ 3-10 civilians reported killed
The CIA’s drones returned to the attack for the second time in 24 hours, killing up to a dozen people, only some of whom appear to have been alleged militants. A house and a nearby mosque were hit as villagers attended morning prayers, and between three and eight civilians died. It is not clear which building was the primary target. Associated Press’ sources said that ‘most of those killed wereUzbek insurgents ‘ and said the attack targeted a ‘militant hideout’; researchers at Stanford University and New York University noted that an Associated Press report filed four days later referred to the strike but still did not mentionmultiple reports that a mosque had been hit. But AFP reported at least three civilians died when the mosque was struck during morning prayers. A security official told the news agency that three worshippers, believed to be Central Asians, ‘were seriously wounded and died later in the hospital.’ Channel 4 News said that most of the dead were local villagers , with four of 12 killed being ‘foreign fighters, believed to be Turkmen.’ KUNA reported tribal elders as saying that all of those killed were ‘innocent local tribesmen.’ Villager Mohammad Roshan Dawar later told The News :
Some of the people had offered the prayers and were leaving the mosque. Others were still praying and some were reciting the Holy Quran, when the drone fired two missiles and struck the mosque. The small structure of the mosque was demolished in the attack and those present inside were buried under the debris of the building.
The wounded were reportedly taken to Miranshah Agency Headquarters Hospital, where an anonymous doctor complained that the injured ‘were brought to us in a serious condition and had suffered multiple injuries. Also, we do not have any facility here in the hospital to save lives of seriously injured patients. Let alone other facilities, the only X-ray machine at the hospital is also out of order.’
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters that ‘We strongly condemn the drone attacks. We regard them a violation of our territorial integrity. They are in contravention of international law. They are illegal, counter-productive and totally unacceptable.’ He added that ‘matters related to NATO supply [and] drone attacks are under discussion with the US, and that ‘Pakistan wants to solve the matter of drones with the US through negotiation rather to move UN Security Council or the International Court of Justice.’ The strike occurred on the same day that Amnesty International issued its annual report, in which it again raised concerns that US covert drone strikes ‘appear to have amounted to extrajudicial executions.’
Location: Khassokhel near Mir Ali, North Waziristan
References: Dawn , Reuters , KUNA , Pakistan Today , Associated Press ,Associated Press , AFP , BBC , CBS , The Nation (Pakistan) , MSNBC , Channel 4 News , Amnesty International, SANA , SANA , The News (Pakistan) , Dawn ,Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs , Living Under Drones
Ob272 – May 26 2012
♦ 3-4 reported killed
♦ 2 injured
Drone strikes returned to levels not seen in Pakistan since autumn 2011, as the CIA attacked for the third time in a week. Four alleged militants died in a 4.30am attack when a bakery was struck in Miranshah bazaar, North Waziristan. According to Associated Press the victims – all ‘foreigners’ or ‘Arabs’ – werebuying bread when the shop was bombed, marking a rare deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure. Other agencies reported that a house was struck., or that the target was an apartment above the bakery . All reported that the building was destroyed. BBC reporter Ahmed Wali Majeeb was staying just 500m from the attack site when the missiles struck. He later wrote:
It’s 04:15 in the morning when the blast wakes me. Just as someone next to me says it’s the sound of a missile being fired there is an angry whizzing noise overhead and then an explosion. The gap between the missile being launched and hitting its target is just a few seconds. People run out of their homes into the street in fear. Some are rushing to the spot to see who has been hit. A room on top of a bakery in the centre of the market has been destroyed. Some local people and Taliban are clearing the rubble. They say three people have been killed. A few minutes later, the Taliban and locals are able to sift through the rubble and dig up the dead and injured. These are quickly taken away from the site of the attack and no-one is willing to say who they are. When I try to speak to people and militants later, everybody gives a different answer. It seems that no-one is sure who has been killed, but before long I hear on the radio that a senior al-Qaeda leader – Abu Hafs al-Misri – is among the dead. In the aftermath of this attack, I speak to local shopkeepers. One is very angry. He says the attacks have destroyed the lives and livelihood of the local population.
Al-Misri had previously been reported killed in autumn 2010.
Ob273 – May 28 2012
♦ 5-10 reported killed
♦ 4 injured
CIA drones returned to the attack in North Waziristan for the fourth time in six days, with a double strike on the village of Khassokhel, 25km east of Miranshah. Up to ten people were killed in the bombing of a house under construction, reportedly owned by Balbal Khan. The first strike came at around 12.20m local time, with some local media reporting that five drones were hovering over the target area. Officials claimed that most of those killed were foreigners , but could not confirm their nationality. A Pakistani security official said the area ‘was known for harbouring Uzbek, Arab and other foreign militants.’ Drones returned to attack the house again some 30 minutes later. It was not known initially if this marked a return to the deliberate targeting of rescuers at the scene, a tactic first uncovered by the Bureau.
CBS News later reported that Al Qaeda commander Yahya al-Libi was the target of the attack, but that he had escaped with injuries. Al-Libi was killed June 4.
Location: Khassokhel near Mir Ali, North Waziristan
References:Xinhua , BBC , AFP , Express Tribune , Sky News (Australia) , The Nation (Pakistan) , Associated Press, Khaama Press , Voice of Russia Radio , RTT News , ANI , IANS , Dawn , Express Tribune , Washington Post , Pakistan Observer , CBS News , The News , The News
Ob274 – May 28 2012
♦ 2-5 reported killed
A second missile attack destroyed a vehicle in Datta Khel, 30km west of Miranshah. Up to five alleged militants died. A security official told AFP that ‘The drone fired two missiles on a vehicle. The vehicle caught fire and the bodies of the people inside were badly burnt.’ Another official reported that the deceased were ‘two foreigners and their local driver.’ The News reported a villager as saying that ‘a nearby house was also damaged in the attack, but its inmates remained safe.’
Ob275 – June 2 2012
♦ 2-4 reported killed
♦ 0-2 civilian killed
In the first reported CIA action in South Waziristan since March 13, up to four people were reported killed in a strike targeting a vehicle in Khawashi Khel, 5km to the east of Wana. Security officials told AFP that alleged militants had been moving from one area to another near the Afghan border, and that ‘the US drone fired two missiles which completely destroyed the vehicle.’ Two local militant leaders were reported killed, both members of Maulvi Nazir’s Taliban-aligned faction. The men were identified as Khalil Yargul Khail and Rehmanullah Gangi Khail by the Express Tribune : ‘According to security officials, Rehmanullah Gangi Khail was the brother of Muhammad Wali, a local commander of the Mullah Nazir Group.’ Although most agencies reported that either an unspecified ‘vehicle’ or motorbike was the target of the strike, Dawn reported that a motorbike was accidentally hit , suggesting possible civilian casualties.
Location: Khawashi Khel, Wana, South Waziristan
References: The Nation (Pakistan) , CNN , Radio Free Europe , AFP , GeoTV ,Dawn , The News (Pakistan) , Associated Press , IRNA , Express Tribune , The News (Pakistan) ,
Ob275c – June 2 2012
♦ 3-4 reported killed
One agency reported a second drone attack of the day, on a house in the Ghowa Khowa area close to Wana. Four people were reported killed.
Ob276 – June 3 2012
♦ 7-10 reported killed
♦ 7-10 injured
♦ Possible civilian casualties
An attack on funeral prayers held with the family of a Taliban commander killed the day before killed up to ten people. US drones struck a house in Mana Raghzai as people gathered for funeral prayers for Rehmanullah Gangi Khail and the brother of local commander Malang. Local officials told the Express Tribune
The militants had gathered for condolence of commander Malang’s brother Rehmanullah, who was killed in a US drone strike earlier on Saturday.Commanders Malang and Gulam Khan were seriously injured in the attack.
Although there were reports that both commanders had died, the New York Times later quoted a Wana government official as saying that both men livedand were ‘stable’. Two others killed were described as ‘foreigners’. Local people took part in the rescue operation. A nearby vehicle was also destroyed in a related strike, killing five and injuring others.
Location: Mana Raghzai near Wana, South Waziristan
References: Kuna , Daily Mail , Express Tribune , CNN , Reuters , The News (Pakistan) , The Nation (Pakistan) , The Guardian , AFP , Al Jazeera , Associated Press , Dawn , Sky News , New York Times , The News (Pakistan)
His death is part of the degradation that has been taking place to core al-Qaida during the past several years and that degradation has depleted the ranks to such an extent that there’s no clear successor.
One anonymous US official claimed that only five people died in the strike, another that only al-Libi died . However most sources reported between 14 and 18 deaths, including al-Libi’s driver and bodyguard. According to the BBC, the CIA attacked militants attending the scene of an initial strike. Up to six drones participated in the attack. In September 2012, Associated Press reported two US intelligence officials as saying that a Saudi man named Najam had lost both legs in a drone strike ‘at about the same time as al-Libi died.’ According to the anonymous officials:
Najam, who came from an affluent family, was able to reach an agreement with the Saudi government to return to his wife and children. Intelligence suggests that Najam’s treatment has encouraged other militants to seek similar deals, switch to other battlefields or seek leniency from their governments.
The intensity of the US campaign led to claims by some that the US was carrying out punitive strikes. Islamabad called in the US charge d’affaires Richard Hoagland to formally complain about the strikes. He was told that ‘drone strikes represented a clear red-line for Pakistan.’ The Islamabad-based Conflict Monitoring Center, in its monthly report , accused the US of going on a ‘rampage’ in ‘a bid to punish Pakistan for the conviction of Dr. Afridi as well as its reluctance to reopen NATO supply routes.’ The CMC noted that prior to the NATO summit and Afridi’s conviction, only one US strike had taken place in May. Afterwards there were five, mainly aimed at ‘Taliban groups who are in a peace agreement with Pakistani authorities.’ An anonymous senior US official rejected this, claiming that the jump in CIA strikes was simply down to the weather. He told the New York Times that ‘Until now the area was socked in by a long stationary front with cloud cover.’
Less than a week after the strike messages were posted on al Qaeda websitessuggesting that al-Libi remained alive. The terrorist group also posted a video of al-Libi discussing recent events in Libya, with no references to his reported killing. However on the anniversary of 9/11 al Qaeda’s leader Ayman al Zawahirifinally confirmed al-Libi’s death.
Location: Hesokhel near Mir Ali, North Waziristan
References: The News (Pakistan) , The Nation (Pakistan) , Reuters , AGI , PTI ,New York Times , Conflict Monitoring Center , Associated Press , MSNBC ,IRNA , CNN , The Guardian , Reuters , BBC , ABC News, Reuters , Washington Post , Reuters , The Guardian , CNN , CBS , Al Arabiya , New York Times ,Washington Post , AFP , AFP , Los Angeles Times , The News , Associated Press, AFP
Ob278 – June 13 2012
♦ 4 killed
Four alleged militants were killed in the first strike for nine days. Initial estimates put the casualty figure at three but AFP reported this was subsequently updated by an anonymous Pakistani official. The men were traveling in a vehicle in the evening when multiple missiles were fired from a US drone. The strike came 10km east of Mirahshah in the village of Isha. Witnesses said the vehicle immediately caught fire when finally hit, adding that several drones had been seen circling the area that day.
The strike came amid continued strained relations between Islamabad and Washington. Two days previously the US announced it was withdrawing its negotiators who had spent six weeks trying to reach a deal with Pakistan to reopen supply routes through the country. Closing the border to NATO supplies bound for Afghanistan had forced the US to reroute the convoys through central Asia. This was costing the US $100 million a month, reported the Washington Post . Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar also urged a visiting delegation of US Congressmen to end the drone strikes.
Location: Isha near Miranshah, North Waziristan
References: AFP , Trend.AZ (DPA) , ABC , NewsPakistan , INP , The Express Tribune , Xinhua , The News , The Hindu , Xinhua , Outlook India , The News Tribe, Radio Free Europe , Reuters , Washington Post , Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ob279 – June 14 2012
♦ 3-4 killed
Three to four alleged militants were killed in an early morning CIA drone strike in Miranshah bazaar. Two missiles were fired on a shop or house, hitting the first floor according to a senior official . For the third time in recent weeks there were indications that the CIA had used a ‘follow-up strike’ tactic first exposed by the Bureau in February 2012. A tribesman who requested anonymity told AFP:
When the first missile hit the building, I heard cries for help and ran towards it, but militants stopped me at a distance. When they started rescue work, another missile hit.
A local journalist said the strike came at 3.30am, with witnesses reporting that two drones took part. One fired the missiles, with the second hovering over the area. As many as five drones reportedly remained over the area following the strike, indicating the possible presence of a High Value Target.
Ob280 – June 26 2012
♦ 4-6 killed
♦ 2-7 injured
CIA attacks resumed after a 12 day pause, when missiles struck a house in Shawal in North Waziristan late in the evening, killing up to six people. Local officials told AFP that the target was militants linked to Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a leader involved in the Afghan insurgency but with a peace agreement with Pakistan.The attack came the day before Pakistan’s top military commander, General Kayani, was due to hold talks with General John Allen, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, to discuss ways to improve relations. As Pakistan’s The News noted: ‘This was the first attack by the CIA-operated pilotless planes in North Waziristan after the local Taliban, led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, banned the anti-polio immunisation campaign in the tribal region as a mark of protest against the US drone strikes.’
Ob281 – July 1 2012
♦ 6-8 killed
♦ 2-3 injured
US drones struck a house in the Shawal area at around 7am, killing up to eight people. A local security official told agency AFP: ‘Two missiles targeted the compound, killing six militants.’ A second official reported that ‘the strike destroyed the house and triggered a fire. It was difficult to identify the bodies immediately as some of them were charred.’ It was reported that some of those killed were linked to Hafiz Gul Bahadur, the target of other recent CIA strikes, with others from the Turkmenistan Islamic Movement.
Ob282 – July 6 2012
♦ 17-24 killed
♦ 0-3 civilians reported killed
♦ 2-6 injured
As many as 24 people were killed in a triple evening strike on a house in Datta Khel. The dead were said to include ‘foreigners,’ with AFP reporting : ‘The initial strike on a house killed nine, three others were killed in a second attack when they drove to the site to recover dead bodies, and a third drone killed another three five minutes later, a senior security official in Peshawar told the AFP news agency.’ Dawn also reported that three rescuers were killed , whom it described as ‘tribesmen.’ Some reported that those killed were linked to local militant leader Hafiz Gul Bahadur. The New York Times reported a local resident as saying that ‘the compound was owned by a Taliban commander namedRahimullah.’ However in August 2012 Time magazine quoted a US official as saying the strike was actually on ‘a truck packed with explosives heading across the border.’
It was a clear shot. We had to take it.
The official also said that the number killed was less than 20. This was the first CIA strike after Pakistan re-opened its border to Nato supply convoys, ending a seven month diplomatic stand-off. The standoff ended after US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton apologised on July 3 for US forces killing 23 Pakistani soldiers in November 2011. Negotiations over the future of the drone programme continued after Clinton’s apology. Pakistan’s leaders reportedly were pushing for more control of drone strike targeting .
But on July 5 the Foreign Office repeated Pakistan’s view that drone strikes are counter-productive and a violation of the country’s sovereignty. Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, Islamabad’s former High Commissioner to London, told Al Jazeera :
It can’t go against the will of the people and Pakistan is quite unanimous in rejecting the drone strikes on its territory. All the political parties, parliament and military have categorically condemned the strikes. We know that in the past there were all kinds of backdoor dealings - we are told we don’t know for sure - between Pakistan and the US which sort of winked and nudged and looked the other way while drone strikes would be conducted. Now those days have gone because the relationship between the two country is so brittle and tense. And anything smacking of backdoor dealings would really risk a reaction in the public against the government in Pakistan.’
Location: Datta Khel, North Waziristan
References: Express Tribune , The News Tribe, Saach , Associated Press , US State Department, Express Tribune , PTI , Associated Press , AFP . Xinhua ,Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs , MSNBC , Voice of America , PTI , Al Jazeera , AFP , The Nation (Pakistan) , Guardian , Reuters , New York Times ,CNN , ABC News , The News , Deutsche Welle , Dawn , Dawn , Time, The News
Ob283 – July 23 2012
♦ 11-14 killed
♦ 0-14 civilians reported killed
♦ 2 injured
Up to 14 people were killed in the first known US drone strike in 17 days. An unknown number of CIA drones struck at 9.20pm , firing up to eight missilesinto a housing compound alleged to belong to Sadiq Noor , a militant commander and ally of Hafiz Gul Bahadur. It was not clear if Noor was among the dead although Abdur Rauf, son of Abdul Karim, described as a militant, waslater buried in Dhoda village. After the attack ‘more than five US drones kept flying over the area, hampering the rescue work.’ This was the second strike of the month to hit the village of Dre Nishter. The News was the only source to report that civilians may have been among those killed – and that rescuers may have died in a follow-up strike:
Some reports said the drones first fired two missiles and hit a house in the valley and when other people gathered for rescue efforts almost half-an-hour later, the drones started firing missiles on them, killing most the rescuers. There was, however, no independent confirmation of this piece of information. About the victims, there were conflicting reports with some saying they included militants while tribal sources insisted all of them were local residents.
Location: Dre Nishter/Shawal, North Waziristan
References: Xinhua , AFP , Associated Press , Xinhua , Geo.TV , PTI , The News Tribe, Voice of America , Dawn , The Star , CNN , Reuters , IANS , Long War Journal , The Express Tribune , BBC , The News , CNN , BNO News , The Nation (Pakistan) , Dawn , PakTribune , Big News Network , RIA Novosti , The News
Ob284 – July 29 2012
♦ 4-7 killed
♦ 0-3 civilians reported killed
♦ 4 injured
The CIA’s drones returned to the attack in a Sunday strike on the village of Khushhali Turikhel in North Waziristan. Between four and seven people died, with six missiles fired at a house, according to AFP. One or two vehicles were also reported destroyed. However another source reported that ‘Uzbek militants’ were killed ‘visiting a spring for leisure .’ A large number of drones were said to have taken part, with SANA reporting that ‘six drones continued their flights in the area which created panic in the local residents.’ It was later reported that all of those killed were not Uzbeks but local people from Janikhel in Bannu, where they were buried. The News named three of the four it said were killed asAhmadullah, Asadullah and Hidayat Khan. Its reporters toldf the Bureau that they were unsure of the status of the deceased.
The attack took place hours after Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Sherry Rehman, again called for the US to halt drone strikes , saying that ‘We will seek an end to drone strikes and there will be no compromise on that… I am not saying drones have not assisted in the war against terror, but they have diminishing rate of returns.’
Location: Khushhali Turikhel, North Waziristan
References: AFP , Associated Press , Express Tribune , AFP , AAP , Associated Press , NBC News , SANA , PTI , The Nation , Dawn , The News , IANS , Xinhua, The News , The Nation
Ob285 – August 18 2012
♦ 5-12 killed
♦ 1 civilian reported killed
♦ 2-6 injured
A twenty day pause in the CIA’s campaign ended with a drone strike just after noon on Shuweda in North Waziristan. A house and car were reported damaged or destroyed and up to a dozen people, possibly ‘alleged militants’ – were killed. As AFP noted :
The attack came as people in the deeply religious region were celebrating the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, residents said. It was the third drone attack since the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
AP reported that those killed were allies of local Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a regular target of CIA drone strikes in connection with the insurgency in Afghanistan. ‘Uzbeks’ were said to be among the dead. Eid was declared early in Waziristan, and people appear to have been gathering for the festival. The News reported that ‘the CIA-operated drone fired four missiles. Two of them hit a house located in the forest-covered mountainous Shawal Valley while two others hit vehicles parked outside a residence where a group of men had gathered for lunch in connection with Eid.’ Among those killed were 43-year old Kashmiri militant ‘Engineer’ Ahsan Aziz and his wife (the daughter of Jamaat e Islami Azad Kashmr leader Aleefud Din Turabi), according to Aziz’s father .
The attack was almost immediately condemned by Islamabad . A statement from the Foreign Ministry said: Pakistan strongly protests the drone attacks in North Waziristan this morning. Pakistan has consistently maintained that these attacks are a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and are in contravention of international law.’
Location: Mammon Narai, Shuweda, North Waziristan
References: AFP , Associated Press , Frontier Post , CNN , AGI , Voice of America, Express Tribune , Long War Journal , News Tribe, Xinhua , Pajhwok , Al Akhbar, Dawn , The Hindu , The Examiner , The News , Pakistan Foreign Ministry , Al Jazeera , SANA , Reuters , PTI , International News Network , PTI , Long War Journal , The News , Daily Times
Ob286 – August 19 2012
♦ 4-7 killed
♦ 2-3 injured
Drones returned to the attack for the second time in 12 hours in the Shawal valley area, with a reported early morning strike on two vehicles near the Afghan border. The Express Tribune said that the vehicles were en route from Miranshah. AFP reported a Pakistani security official as saying: ‘US drones fired four missiles on two militant vehicles in the early hours of Sunday, killing four militants.’ However a second official told the agency that the identities of those killed was unknown. Other speculated that those killed were supporters of militant leader Hafiz Gul Bahadur.
Location: Mana, Shawal valley, North Waziristan
References: AFP , The News , AFP , Associated Press , AAP , Long War Journal ,Dawn , The News , The Nation , Reuters , Associated Press , PakTribune ,Pajhwok , Voice of America , Geo TV , Express Tribune , PTI
Ob287 – August 19 2012
♦ 2-3 killed
♦ 2 injured
It was reported that a further two or three people were killed when CIA drones returned to the attack at Mana. News agency AFP reported a Pakistani security official as saying:
At least two militants were killed and two others wounded when a US drone fired two missiles at the site of this morning’s attack where militants were removing the wreckage of their two destroyed vehicles.
However The News and AP reported that the strike was on a house.
Ob288 – August 21 2012
♦ 5-25 killed
♦ Civilians reported killed, including 1 child
♦ 2 injured
In the fourth US drone attack in as many days, the CIA bombed a house and a vehicle in Shana Kora village, 10 kilometers from Miranshah. Between 5 and 25 people were killed in the 7pm attack. It was soon reported that Badruddin Haqqani, son of the Haqqani leader and the network’s military commander,may have been killed . A ‘senior Taliban commander’ said Haqqani had died in the strike and Afghanistan’s intelligence agency also reported him dead . Two Pakistani intelligence officials said they were 90 percent sure he had been killed. But they conceded they had not spoken with anyone who had seen the body and Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid denied Haqqani’s death, saying he was alive in Afghanistan. US officials told the Washington Post August 29 that ‘We now believe he is dead.’ Additional reports said that other members of Haqqani’s family had died in the attack. Haqqani’s 13-year old son Osama wasreported by a number of source s to have been killed. A further report claimedthat
There are three fresh graves in the family graveyard of Haqqanis. However, the family is reluctant to arrange any death ceremonies amid persistent US drone flights in the area.’
Reuters among others reported that far more civilians had died in the strike, reporting one of its sources as saying ‘The drone fired two missiles on the house last Tuesday and killed 25 people, most of them members of the Haqqani family.’
Two days after the strike, Pakistan’s government again protested the strikes . An official release stated:
The US Embassy was today démarched on recent drone strikes in North Waziristan. A senior US diplomat was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and informed that the drone strikes were unlawful, against international law and a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. It was emphatically stated that such attacks were unacceptable.
Concern was later expressed that the death of such a senior member of the Haqqani family might impact upon negotiations for the release of a US Prisoner of War . Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, captured on June 30 2009, is thought to be held captive by the Haqqani network.
Location: Shnakhura, Datta Khel, North Waziristan
References: Express Tribune , AFP , The News , Associated Press , Xinhua , The Nation (Pakistan) , PTI , International Herald Tribune , Voice of Russia , Express Tribune , Dawn , Pakistan Foreign Ministry , Dawn , Xinhua , Reuters , PTI ,New York Times , Dawn , Reuters , Associated Press , The Guardian , Pak Tribune , Express Tribune , Al Jazeera English , The Nation (Pakistan) , Dawn ,Reuters , Reuters , Washington Post , WTOP FM
Ob289 – August 24 2012
♦ Overall killed in three strikes 13-18 killed
♦ 14 injured
♦ Reported killed Makai only: 6
The CIA brought to seven the number of attacks carried out in a week when it bombarded three villages in the Shawal valley with coordinated drone strikes that left up to 18 dead and a further 14 wounded. Five drones reportedly took part in the coordinated attacks, launching six missiles and ‘continued hovering over the area after the attacks’ . The strikes hit villages ‘several kilometers ‘ from each other with strikes that came ‘minutes apart ‘. The Long War Journal cited a US intelligence officia l as saying that repeated CIA strikes on the Shawal valley area had been targeting an ‘important jihadi leader.’ Across the border in Afghanistan on the same day, an airstrike also killed TTP commander Mullah Dadullah, commander of the Pakistan Taliban in Bajaur Agency.
At least six were killed in the village of Makai of Maki Ghar in a strike around11am or noon local time. Pakistani officials said the compounds were used by militants when crossing into Afghanistan. Tribal sources said the compounds belonged to local tribesmen and the dead included Punjabis and foreigners of Arab origin. AFP said the area hit ‘is an area used by militants belonging to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, the Afghan Taliban allied Haqqani network and the Hafiz Gul Bahadur group.’ A Bureau researcher, citing Pakistan intelligence and Taliban sources, named those killed in the first strike as:
Four Turkistanis named as Emeti Yakuf, aka Abdul Jabar; 35-36 year oldYaku Emeti aka Saleh; Tuersun Toheti aka Zabeh ullah; and Mukhtar. Additionally two Pakistan Taliban (TTP) militants died named as Karimand Matee ullah.
Dawn also reported that Emeti Yakuf had died, naming him as ‘Emir’ of the East Turkistan Movement.
Location: Makai/Maki Ghar, Shawal, North Waziristan
References: Dawn , Express Tribune , Xinhua , CNN , AFP , The News ,Associated Press , Xinhua , Reuters , Xinhua , The News Tribe, Associated Press, Reuters , PTI , KUNA , PakTribune , PTI , BBC , ANI , Xinhua , Radio Liberty ,The News , Al Jazeera , AFP , The Nation (Pakistan) , PTI , Voice Of America ,AAP , UK Press Association , Long War Journal , New York Times , Christian Science Monitor , CBS News , Dawn , The Nation (Pakistan) , Dawn , Pakistan Today
Ob290 – August 24 2012
♦ Reported killed Dara only: 4-6
In a second strike CIA drones hit another walled compound, killing at least four. A Bureau researcher, citing Pakistan intelligence and Taliban sources, said that ‘six militants’ were killed in this strike including local TTP commander Gil Aman.
The Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Ahmad Khan was giving apress conference as news of the strikes broke. ‘We regard these strikes as illegal and unproductive,’ he said, adding: ‘These attacks also violate our sovereignty, territorial integrity and are in contravention of international laws.’
Location: Dara, Shawal, North Waziristan
References: Dawn , Express Tribune , Xinhua , CNN , AFP , The News ,Associated Press , Xinhua , Reuters , Xinhua , The News Tribe, Associated Press, Reuters , PTI , KUNA , PakTribune , PTI , BBC , ANI , Xinhua , Radio Liberty ,The News , Al Jazeera , AFP , The Nation (Pakistan) , PTI , Voice Of America ,AAP , UK Press Association , Long War Journal , New York Times , SANA , The News , Christian Science Monitor , CBS News , The Nation (Pakistan)
Ob291 – August 24 2012
♦ Reported killed Dre Nishter only: 3-8
In the third coordinated strike at least three people were reported killed when drones targeted two vehicles in Dre Nisther. The drones reportedly fired five missiles at the vehicles in this strike.
Location: Dre Nisther, Shawal, North Waziristan
References: Dawn , Express Tribune , Xinhua , CNN , AFP , The News ,Associated Press , Xinhua , Reuters , Xinhua , The News Tribe, Associated Press, Reuters , PTI , KUNA , PakTribune , PTI , BBC , ANI , Xinhua , Radio Liberty ,The News , Al Jazeera , AFP , The Nation (Pakistan) , PTI , Voice Of America ,AAP , UK Press Association , Long War Journal , New York Times , Christian Science Monitor , CBS News , The Nation (Pakistan)
Ob292 – September 1 2012
♦ 4-6 reported killed
♦ 2-3 injured
After a week’s pause the CIA’s offensive in Waziristan continued. Attacks at 9am on a housing compound and a vehicle in Degan reportedly killed up to six people. The News noted :
Unconfirmed reports suggested that most of the militants slain in the attack were aligned with the group of Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who is head of the local Taliban in North Waziristan. There were also reports attributed to unnamed government officials that two out of the five men killed in the strike were foreigners. The remaining three were stated to be local militants.
Ob293 – September 21 2012
♦ 3-4 killed
♦ 0-3 civilians reported killed
♦ 2-3 reported injured
CIA drones reportedly returned to the attack in North Waziristan. A car was destroyed near Datta Khel by two to three missiles and three or four alleged militants, possibly linked to Hafiz Gul Bahadur, were killed. The News reportedthat ‘Witnesses said that drones continued hovering over the area even after the strike that triggered fear among the residents.’ While security sources said militants were killed, local residents told Pakistan Observer the dead were ‘ordinary tribesmen’ and ‘nothing to do with the militancy’. A second vehicle was reportedly damaged in the strike as it passed the target car.
The attack came at a precipitous time in Pakistan. It was launched after a 20 day pause, possibly driven by global Islamic unrest over a blasphemous video produced in the United States. Up to 17 Pakistanis had died in protests against the film the previous day. AP noted : ‘The latest attack comes despite Pakistani demands to halt the missile strikes. It also comes at a time when Pakistani foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar is visiting Washington to discuss a range of issues, including how to resolve differences over US drone attacks in Pakistan.’ The strike hit North Waziristan Agency as the Pakistani military and civilian politicians debated an assault on militant positions in the tribal agency.
Location: Mohammed Khel/ Datta Khel, North Waziristan
References: AFP , IANS , AGI , The News , Express Tribune , Deutsche Welle ,Radio Free Europe , Al Jazeera , PTI , The Express (UK) , CNN , Associated Press ,Daily Times , Press Association , Pakistan Observer , Dawn , Sana , Nation (Pakistan) , Associated Press , DPA , Express Tribune
Ob294 – September 24 2012
♦ 5-8 killed
♦ 2 injured
At least five people were killed in a 9pm strike on a house south of Mir Ali. A single CIA drone reportedly fired two missiles at a ‘mud compound ‘ said to be ‘known as a bastion of the Taliban and al Qaeda ‘. The strike was said to have killed Abu Kasha al Iraqi, ‘reported to be a liaison between al Qaeda and the Taliban’ and a second ‘al Qaeda operative’ named as Saleh Al-Turki. Dawn reported local sources as saying that both men were buried that night. Al Iraqi was first reported killed in October 2008 (B38 ). The others killed were said to be ‘foreigners’ . However the bodies ‘were burnt in the attack and were beyond recognition’. Local tribesmen said that four drones had been flying over the area since the afternoon.
A Pakistani security official told the New York Times al Turki was a field operative, saying: ‘He was not on the FBI’s bounty list, but was a mid-level AQ guy.’ Al Iraqi was said to be ‘long a target of Western counterterrorism agencies’. He had been living in Pakistan’s border regions for 15 years and had married a local tribal cleric’s daughter. US intelligence officials told the Long War Journal they were aware of the reports of the deaths but would not confirm if the two men had died in the strike. They would not confirm or deny if the two had been the target of the strike. But one did say al Iraqi ‘has been on our list for quite some time.’
Location: Khaider khel village, Mir Ali, North Waziristan
References: DPA , Associated Press , The News , Dawn , Xinhua , The News Tribe, AFP , KUNA , Dawn , PTI , Express Tribune , CNN , Dawn , Radio Free Europe , New York Times , Long War Journal
Ob295 – October 1 2012
♦ 2-4 reported killed
A 6am drone strike reportedly targeted a motorbike (or possibly car) near Mir Ali in North Waziristan, killing at least two alleged militants. A security official told AFP that ‘US drones fired four missiles on a militant vehicle, killing three rebels.’ AP cited officials as saying that ‘the men appeared to be foreigners, but that their identities are not known’. An Arab was killed, PakObserver suggested,adding that according to some accounts the attack ‘targeted a motorcycle with a couple of projectiles with one missile landing closed [sic] to the bike and the other hitting the directly the bike eliminating both the vehicle and the rider who was an Arab militant’. The News also cited locals people who reported that a motorbike carrying two men was struck as it drove through a dry stream bed.
The villagers said the bodies were disfigured and were beyond recognition. The identity of the slain men wasn’t known, but official sources said they were militants.
Locals had reported seeing several drones flying over the area prior to the attack. The previous US strike on September 24 which killed two named al Qaeda militants had also targeted the village.
Ob296 – October 10 2012
♦ 5-6 reported killed
♦ 3 reported injured
A pre-dawn attack destroyed a house reportedly belonging to Maulvi Abdullah,described as a local cleric or tribesman, killing five or six alleged militants and injuring up to six more, according to reports. ’Several US drones flew into the area before dawn and fired four missiles on a compound, killing five militants,’ an unnamed security official told AFP. A second official confirmed the casualties to the BBC. ‘The whole house has been damaged in an attack but two rooms of the house have completely collapsed. Six bodies has been recovered from debris,’ a local told the Times. ‘The death toll may increase as all injured are in a very critical condition,’ an official said. Militants had arrived at the compound the previous night, tribesmen told PTI; locals reported seeing five drones flying at low altitude prior to the attack. This was the first strike since amass rally led by Imran Khan attempted to march into Waziristan in protest at drone strikes on October 7. Although the march was blocked from entering Waziristan, it garnered significant media attention.
On October 15 a jihadi website announced the death of Moezeddine Garsallaoui, leader of militant group Jund al Khilafah, reporting that he had been killed in a ‘cowardly, treacherous raid’ in North Waziristan that may have been a drone strike, although few further details. Garsallaoui, who is variously reported as being Swiss or Belgian-Tunisian, was the second husband of Belgian-Moroccan Malika El Aroud, who was convicted of running terrorist websites in 2007. Jund al Khilafa claimed responsibility for the Toulouse shootings in March 2012 that killed a rabbi and three children.
Location: Hurmuz, Mir Ali, North Waziristan
References: Telegraph , PTI , BBC , AFP , Associated Press , Long War Journal ,The Times , Voice of Russia , Xinhua , Long War Journal , SITE intelligence ,Newsweek Pakistan
Ob297 – October 11 2012
♦ 16-26 reported killed
♦ 5-15 reported injured
♦ Possible civilian casualties
In one of the deadliest CIA strikes of 2012, four missiles were reportedly fired at a madrassa belonging to Maulvi Shakirullah, killing up to 18 and wounding many more. Shakirullah is connected to the Haqqani network, Geo TV reported , while the dead included fighters for militant commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur, Associated Press said . ‘US drones fired four missiles on a militant compound, and initial reports say 11 militants have died,’ local official Khushal Khan toldAFP , adding that several Afghans were among the dead. Khan’s deputy later raised the number of those killed to 18, with SANA noting that three other buildings were also damaged in the attack. The News named five of the injured and two of those killed : ‘Some of the injured militants included Mehmood, Khitab, Hafiz Saadi, Khalil Khan, Siddique and Muhammad Irfan while two of the dead were identified as Muhammad Zahir and Younas. The injured were taken to the Civil Hospital in Thall tehsil in Hangu district.’
Eight of the wounded later died of their injuries, the News reported a couple of days after the strike, adding that 16 of the dead were buried in Bulandkhel, four in Miranshah and four elsewhere in the region. Abdullah Khurasani, Tehreek-i-Taliban spokesman, told the paper the strike killed ‘innocent seminary students’ and refuted reports that Maulvi Shakirullah and alleged bombmakerUmar Haqqani had died.
Most media reported the strike took place in Orakzai province, which would make this only the second drone strike recorded by the Bureau in the province, with the previous being a strike targeting Hakimullah Mehsud in April 2009 (Ob10). Dawn reported the building was exactly on the border with North Waziristan, while some local officials insisted it had taken place in North Waziristan itself. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry once again protested the strikeand that of October 10, with an official government note stating:
A protest has been lodged by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the US Embassy Islamabad on drone strikes inside Pakistani territory on 10 and 11 October 2012. The Embassy was informed that drone strikes on Pakistani territory were a clear violation of International Law and Pakistan’s sovereignty. These attacks were unacceptable to Pakistan.
Location: Bulandkhel, Orakzai/North Waziristan
References: Xinhua , Geo TV , Associated Press , Dawn , News Track India , AFP ,CNN , AAP , BBC , AFP , Associated Press , SANA , Voice of America , The Nation , Express Tribune , Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs , The News , New York Times , News Pakistan , FARS , Dawn , The News , Express Tribune
Ob298 – October 24 2012
♦ 1-5 reported killed
♦ 1 civilian reported killed
♦ 6-8 reported injured
The wife of Reshmeen Khan, a retired school headmaster, was reportedly among up to five people killed in the village of Tappi, east of Miranshah. The woman and her six grandchildren were left critically burned when CIA drones were said to have destroyed a house and a vehicle in a mid-afternoon strike, according to most reports. However villagers claimed the drones targeted the woman and children as they walked from a field to the house. The injured children were later named by The News as ’18-year old Kaleemur Rahman son of Siddiqur Rahman; Shahidur Rahman, 12, son of Rasool Badshah, a student of 7th class; Zubair Khan, 11, son of Rafiqur Rahman, 6th class; Samad Rahman, 9, son of Siddiqur Rahman, 5th class; and two girls, a four-year oldAsma daughter of Rafiur Rahman and five-year old Saira daughter of Atiqur Rahman.’ One man killed in the attack was said to be a foreigner although his identity could not be confirmed. Military officers said civilians as well as militants were in the house. However a security official said : ‘It was a militant compound used to store arms and ammunition.’ He added: ‘Three militants were killed. The casualties were not high because there [are] not many militants inside.’ While reports said six children were injured in the strike intelligence officials told Associated Press that two men were injured. Drones remained over the area after the attack, reportedly hampering rescue efforts. An anonymous foreign ministry official condemned the strike. Local residents said three cows or a buffalo and two goats also died. Apparently the livestock were to be sacrificed at the Muslim festival of Eid al Adha on October 26.
Location: Tappi village near Miranshah, North Waziristan
References: Express Tribune , News Tribe, The Nation (Pakistan) , The News ,Dawn , Frontier Post , AFP , Xinhua , CNN , Associated Press, The News , Radio Free Europe , AGI , PTI , AFP , Voice of America , Voice of Russia Radio , Gulf Times , CNN , The Nation (Pakistan) , The News , The News , SANA
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Saturday last, I headed out to my daughter's volleyball tournament. It was about 1pm and I was feeling great. So I plugged my iPhone into the blue stereo mini aux cable and was blasting some Stevie Ray Vaughn all the way up with the windows rolled down. I decided, since I can, to ask Siri the best directions to the high school where the event was taking place. As I got the results, lickety split, I propped the phone up on my dashboard to watch the instructions.
Siri said 'Turn right', and so I did. Too fast.
As the tires squealed a bit on my FJ, I watched in slow motion horror as my phone broke free of its cable, and flew right past my face and out the left window. I pulled over half a block later to walk up the street and recover my phone from the middle of the street. I saw it in the left lane just 20 yards past the intersection where I made my turn. Ooops a car ran over it. Oh, now a second car. Damn, a third car. Why do drivers never make left turns into the proper lane unless it's to run over my phone?
The situation was so absurd that I started laughing out loud. But before the second car ran over it, I checked myself from displaying the universal sign of grief - palms against my temples, elbows out, jaw dropped. The guy in the SUV in the left turn lane waiting for the light knew what was up. "That's your phone?" he said. walked into the street picked ip up laughing. He honked his horn to let other drivers know where I was. I was OK.
I have enough money to get an iPhone 5, but I have been also thinking that I want to get off AT&T's big plan and actually pay full price for a phone and go prepaid month to month. Went to the store and was told the replacement price for my 4S was 350 bucks because I have 14 months remaining on my contract. By this time, I was pissed. I paid 40 bucks for the cheapest flip phone in existence, recognizing how similar it was to Sprint's best flip phone I used to own 12 years ago before the first Treo.
I used to phone all day with a vengeance. Who needs a smart phone? I don't. I can do this, plus I'm saving $45 bucks a month because I don't need a data plan any longer. Besides, I have an iPad. I'll just take it with me and everything will be cool. The little black flip phone, the AT&T Z221 was cool for about 2 hours. I was going spartan, but of course it had the worst UX anybody who uses the term 'UX' could possibly stand. It was not only bad, it was punishingly bad.
Firstly, I didn't recognize my own ringtone. People would be calling me and I don't realize it's my phone ringing. Then, on the Sunday when I played volleyball I wore my contact lenses. It became impossible to text without reading glasses, which I didn't have. The menus were absurd, worst than Microsoft. Worse than APL menuing systems. Hideous mutant freak in psychologically disturbing colors bad.
So my dependency swapped back to the days before I had an iPad except now my iPad was my phone (via Talkatone and Google Voice). It got weird. I had to carry the iPad around all the time to get mail. So now I started noticing how big and clunky my iPad2 is. What a pain. How often do I really use it for mail? Not much, I now see. How much for reading? Not a whole lot. Web surfing.. yes when I'm sitting down in a cafe and I have spare time. I still have my Kindle (the best one - with free 3g and the keyboard). No Siri on the iPad. No I don't use the apps that much.
When you take the iPad with you every day, you don't realize how much you hate it if you find that you need to use it more than a certain amount. It's a big fat luxury. Right now I'm thinking that I want to get a new small one and give this one to my mother.
Well it turns out that other than making my earside speaker a little fuzzy, my iPhone was perfectly repairable. Thanks uBreakIFix. You guys rock. I am back to normal and thinking, why did I spend 800 bucks on that stupid iPad? And I'm also thinking that the iPhone 4S is an even greater device than I imagined, and I'm loving my good old Kindle just a little bit more.