Happy ‘Black Friday’!

If you don’t live in North America and do not illuminate yourself with contemporary philosophical commentary, you may be unfamiliar with the most important cultural institution that Black Friday has become.

Some people may scoff at is as an expression of rampant consumerism, but others take it deadly seriously.  No, not as deadly seriously as some Danish Cartoons, but, for a populace as complacent as the current US citizens have become, it seems to rate somewhere above voting, yet still below ‘getting your free Obama phone‘!

But, do not hang your head down in shame:  Black Friday is not a sign of decadence or moral decay – though, it certainly looks it on the surface.  To the contrary – it is a very, very good sign!  (And, no, this is not a praise of Austrian economics, though, I am considering starting an online petition to deify von Mises.    No, this is something much, much deeper!)

In our society – and, here, I speak about us ‘Westerners’ in general and us Western-urban-dwellers in particular – we are getting more and more out of touch with our natural roots.  We have become so disconnected that our kids think that meat comes from a store shelf, when one needs money, it magically self-generates in an ATM machine and, (and this brought my father-in-law to tears of laughter when he over-heard it), while traveling and staying in a hotel, at least one kid asked:  “Dad, where are we – in the real world?”

Some of us have begun to wonder whether the infantilization of the adult citizens, which is so defining of our era of the rise of the unsustainably large civil servant class, has done irreparable damage to the psyche of most of the Western citizenry.  This would be a bad sign because, if one looks back in history, the larger and more entitled the civil servant class becomes, the closer the end of that civilization is.  If the damage were so deep as to be beyond repair…

Which is precisely why Black Friday gives me such a hope for our society!

Please, indulge me in a tangential anecdote:  recently, I have lost an aunt-in-law.  We only got close in the last few years of her life, but, she was a true warrior!

Her husband (who had predeceased her by only a few years) was a most dashing General of the Canadian Army with movie-star looks and charisma by the bushel – and was one of my favourite in-laws.  His ‘breaking-ice’ joke was:

Q:  When does a General obey a Major’s every command?

A:  When he is married to her!!!

And, indeed, my auntie was a true warrior!  She may have been a General’s wife, and they may have received invitations to fancy parties addressed to ‘General and Mrs. …’, but, because of her competence and the resulting high profile in the Canadian military, they also got a lot of invitations to fancy parties addressed to ‘Major and Mr. …’!  Being in charge of the food supply for all the UN Peacekeepers in Egypt during the Suez crisis was just one of her many, many accomplishments.

Due to their military duties, this wonderful couple never had kids – they sacrificed all, including their own procreation, to protect all of us.  So, when she passed, we – the nieces and nephews – had to do our part in helping to close out their estate.  It was not till then that I discovered the true depth and breadth of my auntie’s love of hunting for ‘deals’!

It was not about acquiring the actual stuff – once she received it, she would, as often as not, never even open the box or take stuff out of its packaging.  It was all about the hunt:  hunting for the highest quality stuff at the bestest possible deal!

This was no passive consumerism:  if you had mentioned to her some obscure little region of Earth, no matter how remote or unknown, she would always know of the particular ‘stuff’ that could be bought there – and only there and nowhere else on Earth!!!  Not only would she know what was available there, she would also know its health benefits, its particular cultural significance and its current market value, so you would know when you were getting a good deal on in!

And, at one time or another, she had probably bought some…

Once she had acquired it, she had no interest in the object itself, frequently donating large amounts of very high quality ‘stuff’ to charities.  I know, because after she fell ill, I often served as her driver…

Her interest was in ‘The Hunt’!

In  way, it reminded me of my great-grand-mother, who had lived through both WWI and WWII, and, who would compulsively save ‘everything’ – including empty boxes from sugar cubes which she would flatten and cram behind her credenza:  saving them ‘for the next war’…

It was a different expression of the same instinct:  my auntie was the hunter while my great grand-ma was the gatherer!

And, this is the same thing that triggers the Black Friday mania!

In my never-humble-opinion, the Black Friday phenomenon awakens our primal instincts as ‘hunter/gatherers’ on  a deep, subconscious level.  Pre -‘culture’, pre-snobbery, pre-nature-isolation.  But very, very human.

It proves to me that, regardless of the veneer we present to the world, somewhere, deep down inside, we still have the human survival instincts and they rule us more than we are willing to admit…perhaps even more than we are aware of.

In other words, this craziness we call Black Friday proves to me that however dormant or masked, our truly human instincts are still there, intact, lurking just beneath the surface.  That, given the chance, these instincts will surface and permit humanity to survive whatever cultural upheaval is coming in the next few centuries.

It proves to me that we, Westerners, however out of touch we may think we are with our origins, are still true to our humanity!  That, though our culture may soon be crushed beneath the entitlements of the civil servant class and conquered by the colonial ambitions of a particular religious minority, our progeny shall not perish with our culture!

Our survival strategies may be warped, but, deep inside, they do survive!

And that gives me great hope for our future!!!

 

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The Tragedy of Detroit: “It Didn’t Have to Be This Way”

 

Duplicitous hypocrisy

And while we are in the topic of cyber-trolls, Thunderf00t has seen more than his fair share:

Pat Condell: Your Moral Guide

 

TED talk by Jill Bolte Taylor: How it feels to have a stroke

Interesting talk!!!

Of course I disagree with her closing remark:  we need to pick the left hemisphere, or we will cease to exist as our selves…

I do understand the ‘lala’ land she describes and the brains states…they are not dissimilar from the ones I experienced myself when I went through a near-death experience.

I, too, have had the brain-state of connectedness to all, expansive, one with the universe and all that other stuff the meditation guru’s tout as a desirable state.  What is more – having experienced it once, I can induce it at will with only minor meditation effort.  (I don’t know if this is an aspect of my Aspieness or not, but it often takes me much longer to achieve something than others – but once I have reached a physical state, I can re-create it with much less effort.)

And while I had that sense of ‘this is profound’ – and, you could see the physiological changes in the speaker in the video just as she re-counted her tale prove just how profound the experience was for her – and while I understood perfectly well that this is the ‘Nirvana’ , I did not like it. Yes, it was ‘blissful’, I’ll admit that.

It’s just that the cost was too high.

I was just 10 years or so old when I experienced this, so I could not properly verbalize the aspects of the experience had on forming my world view.  Perhaps I will still have trouble explaining it…but, let me try to simplify:

What kind of person, when forced to choose one or the other, would pick bliss over being true to one’s identity?

Certainly not I!!!

And while she may not realize that that is what she was doing, it is infinitely comforting to have a professional acknowledge that this desire for collectivism is the product of a diseased brain!

 

When borders are fluid…

I knew a guy who claimed that within his lifetime, held four ditinct citizenships.  At different times,  he was an Austrian, Czechoslovak, Slovak and Hungerian – he even held Hungarian citizenships at two separate times!

Yet, he never moved!

Simply, his house happened to be on a bit of land that was held by different countries at different times,  all while he lived in it…

This is the reality of human existence.

As nations come into and out of existence, as they jostle with each other for territory, this sort of thing is inevitable.

Now, imagine that all these countries which had a prior ownership claim went to, say, the EU and demanded that this land be returned to them, due to the fact they held it in the past and, even if another country usurped it, they had never really given up their claim to it:  it would be a mess!

In fact , it would be exactly the same sort of mess as the multiple land claims being made by various native groups over land in Ontario and Quebec – including over the bit of land know as the Parliament Hill.

Just like in Europe, the various nations in North America occupied different areas at different times – as their fortunes waxed and vaned, so did their territory.  Just like in Europe, at different times, the same land would be claimed by different groups.  And, just like in Europe, territorial wars took place…

This just goes to show that this is a function of the human condition!

However, in Canada, the various Native groups can each make a separate claim on the same piece of land – a claim which the courts consider in isolation from competing Native claims over the same land.  And, just as they each had a valid claim on the land at different times, each claim can be supported by some evidence.

Yet, since each claim is examined separately, the court cannot take the competing claims into accout.  In effect, this causes the Canadian taxpayers to buy the land (settle the claims) over and over and over…  No sooner is one claim settled than another one crops up.

To call this a highly flawed system is a serious understatement.

How to solve this in a way that is fair and equitable to the Native groups with land claims as well as to the Canadaians who hold legal title to the land and have invested their life savings into a home on this land?

How to solve this in a way that is fair to different Native groups making conflicting claims, when their claims would be considered at different times and under differing political conditions?

We do have the Assembly of First Nations – resolving land claims is one of their major ‘raison d’etres’:

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is the national representative organization of the First Nations in Canada. There are over 630 First Nation’s communities in Canada. The AFN Secretariat, is designed to present the views of the various First Nations through their leaders in areas such as: Aboriginal and Treaty Rights, Economic Development, Education, Languages and Literacy, Health, Housing, Social Development, Justice, Taxation, Land Claims, Environment, and a whole array of issues that are of common concern which arise from time to time.

The solution I propose would not be easy, but it would be simple and fair:

  1. All First Nations land claims – currently pending, whether under negotiation or court action, or ones as yet undeclared – would be registered with the AFN.  (The AFN would need to make a call for land claim registration, with a firm ‘register-by-date’.)
  2. In cases of multiple claims over the same land by various Aboriginal groups, the AFN would engage all claimants in constructive negotiations, with full adherence to Native traditions and methods of dispute resolution.
  3. Once the AFN had resolved conflicting land claims with respect to each other, they would then present all the claims together (though only one claim per one tract of land – or with all the various claims to one tract of land by various parties grouped together for, perhaps, a ‘weighted’ ruling), with all the supporting documentation, to either the Supreme Court of Canada or some special land-claim-resolution judicial court that the AFN, Federal and Provincial/Territorial governments would agree on specifically for this purpose.  This Court can then rule on each land claim following a thorough an complete review all of the harmonized land claims and apply uniform criteria when it considers them, ensuring that equal standards are applied in all the cases.

I suspect that this is the only way we could even come close to resolving this issue fairly.

Short of this type of action, I do not see any way to avoid protracted legal quagmire – in perpetuity!

H/T:  BCF

Thoughts about ‘Anonymous’ and the #occupy protests

Why is ‘Anonymous’ so much on my ‘radar’ now?

Couple of reasons…

They are, well, enigmatic…  When a big company picks on little guys – and this appears on their radar – they kick but.  Their aims are altruistic – perhaps idealistic – at least for now.  And they are big-time fans of freedom of speech!

They are techies who are kicking some slick behinds – you have GOT to love that!  (OK, I am indulging in a bit of tribalism here – even if the ‘tribe’ is diffuse and I don’t know them personally. I suspect that most of the people behind Anonymous are Aspies or have strong Aspie tendencies:  they are, after all, techies.  And I like to think that I am rather good at playing ‘spot the Aspie’.  The rules they pick and the way they adhere to them:  very Aspie-like…)

We are still full of the #occupy news….and Anonymous was there first.  No, I don’t think that the majority of people who are there now are in any way connected to Anonymous, but, please, consider the following:

  • before anything happened, Anonymous announced the protests and said to look for them there, on Wall St.
  • when the occupation of Wall St. first started, there was an almost complete news blackout on it
  • Anonymous had hacked into some local CCTV cameras and streamed the signal – that was, at the very beginning, the ONLY coverage of the event
  • then, as time went on, the professional protesters and their media henchmen began to trickle in…and Anonymous disappeared from the picture…
  • now, the protests are creatures of the professional protesters and the big money behind them – including semi-official backing by the US President and his minions, with absolutely no role played by Anonymous (that I can discern)

It is not a coincidence that the vast majority of the people protesting in the #occupy movement have no idea what they want to accomplish with this protest:  it is not a ‘regular’ protest of the sort where people want to accomplish a specific goal, analyze the approaches to achieving this goal and then choose protesting as their tool.  Rather, I suspect, this may have been a bit of an experiment…

…an experiment to see IF Anonymous can harness the power of the professional protest organizers when they need to – and to get an idea of how it would play out.

…an experiment to see how ‘neurotypicals’ (non-techies/non-Aspies) would react and behave, to gage their intelligence, initiative and individuality – or lack thereof in this type of a situation.  How soon and how deeply would ‘mob mentallity’ set in?

…an experiment to see whether ‘if we build it, they will come’ would work with protests.

Recently, when an Islamist group doc-dropped/outed Thunderf00t and his family members and threatened them by urging ‘all Muslims to do their duty’ because he dares to criticize Islam (he criticizes all irrational belief systems – systematically and effectively), Thunderf00t dropped the name of Anonymous as his protectors….and potential avengers!

Which got me thinking:  this is not the first time Thunderf00t has talked about Anonymous in his videos.  So, I went back and looked through his earliest material.  Here it is:

Interesting, is it not?

But there is more here, here, here, here (note the Guy Fawkes mask in the background) and here.

Not just in what Thunderf00t says – and how he says it, but also in how fascinated Anonymous is by Scientology.  Remember how, a few years back, they tried to build some sort of a movement against that cult?  I wonder if this is an indication of their fascination in how brainwashed neurotypical behave in groups … or the source of this fascination.

Don’t get me wrong – I do not think Anonymous has bad intentions.  I rather suspect that they are attempting to figure out how to help neurotypicals help themselves from self-imposed servitude (if this was not a full fledged attempt of its own to get them to help themselves).

But experiments/projects can go wrong – and more people than just Anonymous are keenly watching this and taking notes.