Monthly Archives: August 2012

Praying On Our Downfall

“I’m an entropy fan”
-George Carlin

“Its the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine”
-Michael Stipe

My Friends,
   You just missed it, but I had the most awesome end-of-the-world boner ever.  It all started on a night like tonight.  More specifically it was tonight.  Here in Hamilton, the lights all of a sudden went out whilst I was browsing a forum dedicated to cheating all government and confiscatory bureaus out of my hard-earned skrilla.
   Suddenly everything went black and after a split-second of thinking, “Ain’t this some inconveneient shit?” I suddenly thought, “Hey, this could be exactly what I have been waiting for! XD”  I shut my laptop and walked out onto the balcony just to confirm that all the neighbourhood lights were off.
   They were.  So far, so good.
   Quickly I went back indoors and sent out a mass text message to my parents and siblings in other cities and provinces asking them if they were having a blackout.  Hoping beyond hope that the message would not send because cell phone towers were out of commission too, I was somewhat disheartened when the message was received by all recipients.
   No matter; perhaps the cell phone towers were on emergency power for just such an eventuality.
   I waited.
   I went out back out on the balcony.
   Then I waited some more.
   I started receiving scattered messages to the negative and realized with a heavy heart that this particular loss of power was no widespread precursor of societal collapse, but simply a symptom of our outdated, inefficient and obsolete power infrastructure.
   My dad responded, wondering what I was talking about.  I responded to him thusly:

   (Sigh) It would have been too good to be true.  Still, it was all dark and stone-age outside and there was a palpable excitement and an air of possibility in the dark world.  Me and my woman set out in search of adventure.  She didn’t actually know we were looking for adventure but I would have dragged her reluctant, non-adventure-seeking, midget ass all the way to the depths of Mordor if I had to.

Or maybe not…

   We walked around outside and sure enough things were different; people were out on the streets, sitting on the curb, and I thought I heard some yells a street over which made me think there was going to be an impromptu block-party.  I was pretty stoked and I told my woman how I had messaged my peoples as soon as the blackout happened hoping that it was widespread.  She had previously accused me of looking forward to the coming collapse of society when I was musing about my survival plans for the possible imminent zombie uprising (“My Checkered History With the Undead,” 3 June 2012) and I had been taken aback because she had of course been correct.  But beyond the romanticized, survivalist notions I had in that previous conversation, there had been something else below the surface: A sincere desire to see this decaying society crumble so that we as a species could build something new and better from the ground up.
   Now, here tonight in the darkness of the street, vaguely aware of excited murmurs from others obscured from sight by the night, this thought of rebuilding the world even better from the ashes of what we have today was at the forefront of my mind; all romanticized survivalist notions were absent from my consciousness, notwithstanding the prudent concern of procuring groceries to weather the storm.

“There is no reason to fear the imminent, global financial collapse.”
-Unknown

      To be clear, I look at the societal collapse I have been referring to as a direct result of the financial collapse this quotation alludes to.  But society is not really going to be a collapse even when the financial system does.  Rather, I think it will change.  After all, as long as we’re here there is a society in some form.  And while society is always/has always been emergent (changing), I see a clearly marked period of more dramatic transition on the horizon where circumstances will force us to make use of our stifled ingenuity and compassion, currently yoked by a competitive and uncaring system which forces us to sacrifice a bit of our humanity every day in order to thrive.
   When that unknown speaker says there is no reason to fear the collapse, he is right in ways you might not have even considered.  Most people’s immediate concern, if they are selfish assholes with narrow aims in life, will be, “Oh noes, what about all my delicious monies!?!?”  Relax, when all your money is rendered worthless it will also wipe out all your debt and obligations too.

“Put on your sunglasses; the future is lookin’ bright!”

   Or think of it like this: Every dollar will be put out of its misery too.
   See, I liken every dollar to a sick person who gets weaker and frailer every day due to a sickness called inflation.  Every day your dollars degenerate further, laying in bed on a respirator, shitting into a bag and you are forced to watch as they become more weak, but you never actually get the closure of seeing them pass on and finally be at peace.  Like a terminally-ill person, their time has passed, and though the death will be an initial shock, you can not rightly say it was wholly unexpected and not for the best. 

   As the great warrior-poet, Christopher “Ludacris” Bridges once said, “Drink some prune-juice and let the shit go.”
   Others among you who are rightly less concerned with your delicious currencies than you are with your safety, but you should not worry too much either.  After all, nobody is out to get you who is simply being kept at bay by the current social order and its laws.  I too fall into this fearful category from time to time although I should know better; having been all of over the world and having met many different people, I know that the fear-mongering which we see on television is just that, and that people more or less just want to happily co-exist.  So no, I don’t worry about roving gangs of raider/cannibals marauding when things go sour, acting like a dark cloud trying to steal the sunshine from my apocalypse.

Even when apocalypse is frowning (always), he is still kinda smiling.

   And what about the for realz bad guys; you know, the prison population?  You just know that when people barricade their doors and stop going to work that the prison guards and administrators will do the same.  Rather than leave them to rot in their cages, some well-meaning, compassionate souls will probably try to release them so they have a chance at survival.  Should we be afeared of pissed-off convicts swelling the ranks of the aforementioned marauders?  Methinks not.  If crimes are not committed for monies (and the vast majority are, so there would really be no incentive for them in the post-dollar world) then they are typically perpetuated by so-called “sickos” who don’t do bad things for sane reasons like monetary gain.  Well research has shown that these sickos are people who are likely to respond violently when they feel looked down upon and feel they have no other remedy for the shame they feel, whether that be amends, recompense, or simply some other aspect of their life which they feel proud of and can mentally cling to in their darker moments.  If everyone loses everything and is (gasp!) reduced to being equal, it will be hard for anyone to look down on anyone else in the first place.  
   Besides, if theres anything the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy has taught me, its that convicts, when they are pushed to the brink of survival will act honourably, like they did when they were trapped on the ferry in The Dark Knight and the Joker set it up so that they would have to blow up the ferry beside them full of civilians by midnight or risk being blown up themselves.
You’ve come a long way, DeeBo

   Then again, in Batman Begins Nolan showed convicts as looking for retribution against Gothamites when a paranoid frenzy was induced in the population by Ra’s al-Ghul’s fear toxin.

And then he (Nolan) howed them (SPOILER ALERT!!) as all too willing to take control of society and hold mock trials against their former societal oppressors (which invariably ended in death sentences) when Bane freed them from Blackgate Prison in The Dark Knight Rises.  
So I’m not sure where Nolan actually stands on prisoners to be honest.
   But I digress.  I hadn’t actually meant to go on a tangent dispelling the likely fears people have about the inevitable collapse.  Rather I wanted to extol the benefits and the positives.  But in the same way we define our freedom as not being held captive, and heaven as being absent of the horrors of hell, perhaps it would be more effective if I made a short list of negative aspects of our society which are actually exacerbated by our system.  Which of these system-induced features of our lives could you do without?:
   
The stress of always feeling inadequate because you don’t have as much money as the next person, your big, fat junk-food addicted kids, war, most crime, parking tickets, most neuroses which come as a result of the psycho-social stress of living in a stratified society, not being able to trust anyone you don’t know (and even some you do), taxes, politics, child prostitution/slavery, etc…
   The list could go on but whether you realize it or not, there is not one problem you face which does not relate back to our monetary-market paradigm in some way (Someone call me out on this please!!).  Therefore I say we welcome with open arms our impending financial ruin, and call it what it actually is, our impending rebirth.  When I say it is an exciting time to be alive, I truly mean it.  In fact the worst thing that could happen at this point to me personally is that things go on more or less as they have for the rest of my life, I put money away for retirement, have a comfortable existence, sire a couple kids out of boredom and become a depressed geriatric because all of my doom-saying was for naught.  So when I look forward to ruin I don’t look forward to it in the religious “I want the rapture so I can meet Jesus” way, or the “Hey Allah, where the virgins at?” way, I mean it in the “Oh man, building a new and better world is gonna be dope as fuck!” way.
   I’ll leave you with two things.  First, one of my favourite George Carlin bits (and the source of one of the quotations I led in with).  
George’s insights are as relevant as ever in these wacky, exciting times, and although he would probably call me a fucking liar, I would like to see us work together to mitigate the loss of life which could likely occur during a societal collapse.  But before the collapse anyone is fair game because its just more evidence of the system breaking down lol.
   The second thing I want to leave you with is an idea my younger brother left me with.  I asked him how he would deal with society collapsing a while back (yeah, I think about it a lot).  I asked him, “Would you stock up on food?” “Would you fortify your house?” “Would you get out of the city?”  His response stuck with me: “Naw brother, I’d get a table and a pot and go out into the street and serve soup to people as they were running around scared & panicking.”
   More thinking like that is needed and we’ll be able to weather any storm.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo
P.S. The power is back on fml
   



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Why The Olympics Suck

“Nationalism is an infantile disease; it is the measles of mankind.”
-Albert Einstein

My Friends,
   Forgive me if I blaspheme by denouncing that most highly-esteemed of international sporting events, but this has been a long time coming.  The Olympics are a sad statement of where we are at as a species, and fraught with hypocrisy, divisiveness and tribalism.  Before I begin, I wish to make clear that I don’t take issue with sport itself.  Quite the contrary; athleticism and physical performance are virtues to me and those who achieve great feats deserve recognition.
   No, my qualm is with all the bullshit which the Olympics, but also other international sporting events such as the World Cup, heap onto the pure competition of sport.  This criticism extends also to a lesser extent to professional, intra-national sport, such as NFL, NHL, NBA, etc.  All of these sporting events help to make up what is referred to as The Spectacle, a concept explained by Guy Debord and The Situationist International during the 1950s and 60s, which I have alluded to in previous entries but which merits re-defining here.  Quite simply:

The spectacle in general, as the concrete inversion of life, is the autonomous movement of the non-living.
—Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle

Clear? No? Okay, well it is a complicated concept but it has to do with the reification of illusion and how that illusion is taken as superior to reality.  Allow me to explain to you what the spectacle means to me aka MY OWN PERSONAL TAKE.
   Aside from the practical concern of how the spectacular images we see in mainstream media everyday serve to distract us from the real doings of the powerful behind closed doors, there are more, let’s say abstract concerns when the public puts its stock into illusion instead of reality.  And while these latter, abstract concerns might indeed be of a less pressing nature in the short-term, over a longer time-span they have a sublime influence on our disposition and lives.

Let me break this into examples.

Practical Outcome of the Spectacle:
   Everyone has at least a cursory familiarity with the sensationalized deaths of Whitney Houston, Trayvon Martin, MIchael Jackson, etc.  Furthermore they are appalled by various scandals like ORNGE and others where many thousands or sometimes millions of dollars are embezzled or otherwise misappropriated.
   Yet at the same time, perhaps because of such spectacular distractions, few are aware that the Canadian taxpayers alone pay $160 million per day to cover the interest of borrowing all of our money into existence from commercial banks.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but very little of your tax dollars goes toward infrastructure.

To me, this is us being blinded by the spectacle of corruption while being uninterested in the reality of corruption
In contrast:
Abstract Outcomes of the Spectacle:
   We are made to identify with and become rabidly defensive of certain manufactured notions and images.  Often this is presented as duality (i.e. Republican vs. Democrats) but for the purposes of this post it can be related to organized sport.  In this realm, there are not two, but many manufactured sides, factions and alignments to choose from.  On the intra-national level there’s stupidity…
…like this…

…which is actually indoctrinated and fomented from a very young age.***

Silly inter-city rivalries are just that, silly.  But when you take into account that some of the most bitter rivalries are between two teams from the same city (i.e. Inter-MIlan vs AC Milan) you start to wonder why cities are going to war with themselves.
   Once you take things international however, as in the case of the World Cup or Euro Cup, things get proper retarded.  I don’t know about you but I hate seeing this shit come World Cup/Euro Cup:


This sort of mindless devotion to a nation-state and its pride/honour brings me to the Olympics, the subject of this post.  Why do we feel the need to heap so much extra shit on the competition of Olympic athletes?  Why do I need a tale of the tape to amp up my emotions so that I can properly appreciate some long-shot athlete from whereverthefuck-istan’s performance in some obscure so-called sport which actually evolved from primitive tribal rituals?
   Well probably because I wouldn’t give a fuck about that sport, athlete and country if the network didn’t appeal to my emotions.  In fact, if the competition in question was not so inextricably intertwined with my emotions (and really, the outcome of my life) due to the heart-wrenching five-minute TV-spot on this athlete’s courage and dedication which I just endured, I might realize that its just a sport and not terribly important to me.
   Well we can’t have people just tuning out otherwise advertisers wouldn’t pay for air-time.  So we’re gonna make you care about these countries the same way we make you want to go to war with them during the lulls between Olympiads, by appealing to the honour neurosis.
   It is really easy to do this.

1. Isolate some sort of widely-held group identity touchstone.  (Nationality in the case of the Olympics)
2. Show lots of people running around with flags having a good time interspersed with footage of athletic excellence
3. Have some monotonous, unsexy voice spout some SUPERSRSLY (sic.) drivel about national pride, “this time we’re giving our all,” showing our pride, etc…
4. MAKE IT EXPLICITLY CLEAR THAT WE ARE RALLYING FOR PEACE AND NOT WAR….this time.  This can be done by saying some contradiction like, “We are all united by our mutual competition and irreconcilable differences.”  It doesn’t make any logical sense but it allows the poison of nationalism to be administered while still sounding ostensibly peaceful.
5. Have a word or slogan which can be (SPECTACLE ALERT) reified into something more real and tangible in spite of the term’s inherent ambiguity

I’ll just leave this here…

6. ????
7. PROFIT!!

   Now watch how this plays out in teh real world…

CTV ain’t no fool.  If you watch carefully they checked all the boxes:
1. Canada
2. Entire Video
3. Entire Video
4. 0:46
5. Entire Video

Believe.  That’s some heavy shit right there.  Belief in general is like a sacred burial ground in most people’s minds which you better not disturb.  Specifically, it is the burial ground where rational thought is laid to rest.
Belief in fact makes a virtue of not thinking, so I can see the appeal of this promotion.  For the record, I’m no different.  I remember getting caught up in another company’s (far superior) “believe” campaign a few years back:
London 2012 ain’t shit when it comes to heartstring manipulation

Halo 3’s “Believe” campaign was masterful in my opinion, every bit as good as the game itself.  Particularly heart-wrenching were the faux-interviews with veterans of the Human-Covenant war where they recounted the horrors they experienced.  It actually got me misty-eyed more than once.
   Now you might think that its stupid of me to get so emotionally caught up in a video game and at the same time criticize the emotion heaped onto the Olympics, but lets examine that shall we?  I at no point mistake the Halo 3 campaign for real life.  There is a rich back-story to the game and these TV spots play with my emotions the same way a piece of literature might.  But its fiction, it knows its fiction, I know its fiction, it does not masquerade as real life and it makes no apologies for being fiction.
   When you look at the CTV Olympiad fucktardation in contrast, you see that a fiction is being created and passed off as real life.  There is nothing “real” about the Olympics beyond athletic competition.  All of the national pride, honour and posturing is filler and I would argue that its damaging because it leads to needless rivalries and resentment between so-called nation-states which are nothing more than arbitrary lines drawn on a map and rarely reflective of actual regional affinities in the broadest sense.
   Look at Afghanistan for example: Afghan nationalism is a bad joke because there is no Afghan nation, just ethnic groups with varying degrees of power and size, more or less shoe-horned into a weirdly shaped bit of geography in South Central Asia.  The most dominant ethnic group, the Pashto could conceivably become their own nation if they wanted but I remember being emphatically told not to use the term Pashtunistan (“land of the Pashto”) in front of Afghan people because it would incite fierce nationalistic emotions and opinions which the invented nationality (Afghan) simply could not.
   Are we immune to this kind of fabricated nationality in North America?  Absolutely not.  Say there was an Olympic competition between an American from Buffalo, NY (108 km from me) and a Canadian from Whitehorse, Yukon (5218 km from me), I could, as a nationalistic Canadian, be reasonably expected to cheer for the guy from the Yukon even though I have never been there and share no regional affiliation with him, rather than the guy who lives a life more or less like mine an hour away.  Such is the “logic” of nationalistic fervour.  
   If you want more proof of how contrived and pointless national affiliations are, ask Xerxes about how his million-strong, multi-ethnic Persian army fared against a couple of Spartans.
On second thought, don’t ask, don’t tell…ZING!

   I think we should recognize the Olympics for what it is; a necessary evil.  It is so far one of the few stages for excellent athletes to test their skills against their peers across the globe without paying out of their own pocket to facilitate these meet-ups.  Unfortunately we must deal with all the other bullshit that goes along with it if we are to enjoy the athleticism of pure sport.  By other bullshit I mean primarily advertisements from sponsors looking to bolster their market-share, and advertisements from the home nation’s government trying to reinforce its sovereignty by piggy-backing on the achievements of the athletes who live under its fictional jurisdiction.
“LOOK!! A guy who resides in the artificial construct known as ‘Canada’ just won a gold medal, the highest award in a similarly artificial construct known as ‘The Olympics.’  By virtue of his achievement you are now proud to be Canadian.”
…And we all were

No thanks.
   The next time you see a spectacular Olympic performance from a so-called “rival country” and you are forced to grudgingly admit that they deserve the medal, remember a few things:
1. The country does not deserve the medal, the athlete(s) does
2. You personally have no rivals in a sport you are not competing in.  You are a spectator.
3. You are not giving up your respect to a member of a rival nation, but to a fellow human being.  
Enjoy your spectacle!
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo
***I purposefully abstained from mentioning the riots in Vancouver after the Canucks lost the cup to the Bruins because to simply view that as a sports riot is reductive.  But that is a story for another day.

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