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Topics - V3X

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It's a safe bet that the term "Great Filter" is already known to most of the people on this board, but because typing is fun, I'll give a brief explanation here anyway. Statistically speaking, based on a few safe assumptions dealing with the size and age of our galaxy, the prevalence of certain elements in the cosmos, and various things we know from the history of biological life on Earth, the universe should be teeming with alien life. Life should be more common than fat people at Wal-Mart. That there is life "out there" should be a safer bet than guessing that the neckbeard who lives across your street in his parents' basement listens to Rush and has at least one imitation Samurai sword. Our galaxy alone should be home to something like seventy quadrillion metric fuckshits of advanced civilizations. All the math that goes into this assumption is as sound as we can make it, and even Republican scientists are more or less certain of its truth.

The problem is, if our galaxy is so full of people, WHERE THE FUCK ARE THEY? We have no evidence of alien life anywhere, unless you listen to that asshole Georgio Tsoukalos or various hillbillies who can't tell the difference between a girlfriend and a cousin. Even considering the vastness of space, the relatively slow speed of electromagnetic wave-based communication, and our recently developed ability to eavesdrop on said communication, we should be receiving so many god damn artificially generated signals that talking to our own satellites should be like trying to tell the guy in the fishnet turtleneck whether you want X or acid at a Skrillex gig. But space is silent. Why?

There are a number of competing theories as to why this might be the case, from "your math is just wrong" to "they are there, they're just using some kind of communication we don't understand." But the funnest theory is the Great Filter, which basically says that life is common -- even intelligent life similar to ourselves -- but that some Awful Thing prevents it from achieving interstellar travel or communication. So there could be billions of worlds like earth, each of them infested with horrible little worms like us, but they are all quarantined by the Great Filter. Usually it is assumed that they end up blowing themselves up with nuclear weapons or something before achieving anything like what we dream about in Star Trek.

While nuclear or biological or chemical warfare is a perfectly plausible explanation, I don't think it is the right one. Humans, for example, have had a good 75 years with access to nukes, and we haven't killed ourselves off yet. And, what's worse, all signs point to our collective lack of being serious about playing with our best toys continuing indefinitely. No, we will not be sterilizing the planet, at least not on purpose. I think the Great Filter is much more sinister than just an innocent collective autocidal incident.

It comes down to what makes a society a society. In order to achieve what we call civilization, our species relies both on collective intelligence and individual ingenuity. We must be able to function cognitively at a high level as distinct members of the whole, as well as to communicate with each other and our progeny efficiently in order to maintain the systems and infrastructure we construct. The problem is that at a certain point in every successful civilization, the relative comfort and convenience afforded individuals leads to a breakdown of the "social instinct." It becomes acceptable and even prudent to put oneself before one's community, because the individual loses sight of the fact that a society, like any kind of team, only works when it works together as a unit.

Such breakdowns are apparent throughout history as the causes of all kinds of social decay and collapse. But the real Great Filter comes in when we consider what kind of sacrifices would be required from individuals if their civilization attempted to colonize the stars. It is a task of such magnitude and scale, economically and temporally, that it holds no real interest for the individuals who would need to contribute to it. Those who began the process would have no hope of seeing it even halfway through. Biological life does not allow for lifespans that would make it worthwhile to travel from our star system to another one, for colonization or any other purpose. In order to accomplish that task, we would have to completely eliminate the entire concept of "I" and become a new sort of life form, multi-multicelled organism. Not in a figurative sense, but a real, literal sense. An actual colony organism where the individual cells are completely disposable and expendable, where intelligence resides in an organ or a process that cannot be comprehended by any of the individual units.

And we are unwilling to even take small steps in that direction. We are all about ME ME ME and MY MY MY. MY stuff. MY money. MY taxes. MY rights. Humanity is horrible at cooperating for anything other than fighting off an existential threat, and even then that threat must be immediate enough to directly threaten individuals (see: climate change). We just don't do things on a scale large enough to leap from our star system to any other. I think it is because everything we have achieved is because we are wired for individualism, and that wiring prevents us from achieving anything of any magnitude larger than maybe a planetary government (which will of course be a government of self-interested assholes that exists to facilitate the marginally interesting lives of other self-interested assholes).

So that is the Great Filter. That we are constitutionally prevented from shedding our egos to accomplish a task we can only dream of because we have egos.

Or something.

So, in my old age, I have discovered that classical music doesn't suck. But I have a problem. Most of it does suck. Especially every single scrap of malauditory shit written by pretentious assholes who wish they were good enough to die at Mozart's feet in the past 150 years.

The purpose of this thread is to see if any of you irreverent bums know of any DECENT classical music that I should listen to, because I'm really lazy and the Google machine hasn't been very helpful. Everyone who says something is good is wrong. Beethoven is excellent, but wears thin after a while. Mozart is alright. I am liking Brahms so far. But surely there are less prominent composers who are as good as or even better than these overblown baroque-era Miley Cyruses. Who are they?

Now, I'll be frank. I am not looking for "edgy" or "innovative" classical composers. Invariably, in the context of the symphony, those two adjectives are euphemisms for "likes to use a lot of that god-awful dissonance shit" and "lacks the decency to present an audible rhythm." I do not want to wade through unfathomable seas of notes and instruments that disagree with each other, or try to wrap my aged and shuttered mind around "ambient" pieces that sound like someone delicately vomiting at the other end of a very long rubber tube. I want clear melody, harmony, and rhythm in the traditional sense: pleasing to the ear, but also complex and able to bear multiple extended listens. I am not looking for the kind of shit that BBC marches out every year at the Proms, which is only pleasing to self-satisfied schmucks in tuxedos who probably go to the symphony so they can go home to bitch about it over expensive wine that they are also bitching about. I would prefer only music written prior to 1860, because apparently after that year everyone in the classical scene got completely fucktarded and started "innovating" by deleting everything in their compositions that could be defined as "music." There may be newer compositions done in the Baroque or Classical styles, but I have not heard of them. That's what you are for !

The real problem I'm trying to solve with this music is that I live in Phoenix, which has less culture than cheese manufactured in the vacuum of outer space. I need to feel like there is a point to humanity, that we can paint mind-altering soundscapes, but in a format that is tied to history. Anyway, do you have any ideas?

Being a white guy who grew up in a town where there were exactly four black people, of whom one spent most of his life in and out of mental hospitals (He was crazy, you see. He kept showing up at town hall meetings and demanding to be heard in public.) and the other three were never seen in public, I can say with a good deal of certainty that I know probably next to nothing about racism. Oh, I learned all about it in school, of course, especially the part where it's all in the past so we should all just move on already. Still, even in my highly sheltered state, there have always been a few things that stood out to me as being odd about the Utopian post-racial paradise we white people are so graciously -- and generously -- affording colored folk these days.

At the top of this list, for some reason, is the way that in every city there is a street running through the ghetto named after Dr. Martin Luther King. Again, I am hardly the authority on these matters, but it seems like the act of naming a street after a hero -- for many people THE hero -- of the Civil Rights movement, while casually neglecting the part of town where that street is located, is a little disingenuous. Like millions of people beaten down by centuries of the most heinous abuse and violence and oppression are going to break out into spontaneous song and dance because some asshole at City Hall renamed a road.

Now, take that sentiment and multiply it about a hundred thousand times, and you will be an honorary citizen of Jackson, Mississippi. There are two things I noticed right away upon arriving in that place. First, there is the fact that the state flag of Mississippi still contains the Confederate flag (because the state has a proud history, and don't you go thinking it's for any other reason at all). The second is that Jackson's airport is named "Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport," and it flies that Confederate flag right over the top of the name banner like there just ain't no such thing as horrible, wretched irony in the world.

Honestly, I am not all that well traveled, but I know a shit hole when I see one, and I am here to tell you that Jackson, Mississippi, is a shit hole. That it is the largest, most sophisticated and most modern city in Mississippi portends many things about the state, none of them good. The airport is the first and last sign of actual civilization a person is likely to see there, for outside its pretentiously white-painted walls there lies a slimy serpent of a little town that has only joined the 21st century because they finally ran out of calendars for 1947 and had to order a new batch for the handful of people living there who can read.

The road snakes away from the rental car garage into woods so thick you'll think you've surely taken a wrong turn. The woods themselves are beautiful; it's too bad someone had to go and mess them up by filling them with the most god-awful third-rate "city" you may ever have the misfortune of witnessing. It's all broken down pickup trucks and "IMPEACH THE MUSLIM USURPER" signs, and nary a person skilled in the art of picking up wayward trash from the side of the roads. Eventually, you top a hill and can see the city's entire breadth stretch out humbly before you. It has all the hallmarks of a normal town, by which I mean it has some paved roads (full of pot holes) and a few buildings taller than the trees next to them, but there's something missing. The city has never really had any economic boom to speak of, it has instead expanded slowly in fits, beleaguered and thwarted by backward social and economic policy borne of widespread terror at the prospect of the future ever arriving.

I spend exactly 36 hours in this place, and my soul screams for escape from the first minute my boots hit the ground here. I do not see one black person the whole time I'm in town, other than the kitchen staff in a restaurant. All the customers were, of course, white. Next time I go to Jackson, I'm going to make it a point to eat on the wrong side of town, because any city this far South that looks this lily white has got to be hiding something. My suspicion is that it's hiding something pleasant that the natives don't want anyone to find out about because it might encourage outsiders to come more often.

Welcome to the Deep, Deep South.

The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / Incident at Rector Street
« on: November 05, 2013, 03:48:13 am »
There I was, minding my own business, sitting on a subway car waiting for service to start again after some poor bastard got himself smeared all over the Rector Street station a few stops ahead, quietly thumbing through Facebook posts on my phone. As usual, it was an uninterrupted stream of "I ate a salad" and George Takei being funny and "Fuck that Obama guy" and "The Tea Party makes me feel like shitting myself on purpose." Being a self-centered asshole who fancies himself somehow superior to most of the other apes on this rock -- especially now, watching these hilariously petty New Yorkers get all puffed up and indignant about their pointless lives being put on hold for ten minutes so someone can scrape what's left of a fellow human being off the tracks -- I am naturally drawn to political discussions.

But it occurs to me that I've been looking at this whole "Government" thing all wrong. It has been my understanding that people hate politicians they disagree with (or think they disagree with) because they wish to have more like-minded people running things. This, supposedly, would inspire them to vote for people with whom they DO agree, and thus the whole system would have no choice but to -- eventually -- go the way of popular sentiment.

It turns out that is all hogwash. See, the thing about hating politicians is, it's a drug. It gets you high like a drug, you form social groups around the consumption of that drug, you start talking about it in inappropriate situations, and eventually you have nothing left but that hate. And, like any drug, hating politicians leads to hating politicians even more. You start out hating Obama and cheering the day the House is given to the Republicans. But then, it isn't enough just to hate Obama anymore. You have to start hating Boehner and a whole smattering of RINOs. And it doesn't just work for the conservatives. I know a lot of Democrats who started out being super happy about Obama -- an apparently thoughtful, symbolically and substantially powerful force for moderation -- and now they're huddled in the bathroom snorting Marx off the far end of the counter and snarling about Ted Kennedy selling out.

The speaker on the ceiling coughs out a DING! and the doors whoosh shut. Finally, the car lurches forward, and I look up to see 100 sarcastic rolling eyeballs snap out of the "Ug no like to be inconvenienced" position and rotate robotically back down to the natural, no-eye-contact-allowed, glazed and locked at fifteen degrees below the horizon position of the New Yorker in its native habitat. Not the city, but that comfortable and somewhat sickly state of being an island in an ocean so full of other islands that there's no room for any water between them. It's too quiet, given how many people are crowded together here. Everyone just wants to move on. No use for small talk.

I go back to my phone, and review some of the political posts (the wireless signal is gone now, all I have is the cache -- although I only know that because the signal indicator has no bars). Hate hate hate, piss, piss, moan, moan. And it occurs to me that the real purpose of the Government has nothing to do with working together. Gridlock is the point. It exists so that people have something other than each other to lash out at when shit doesn't go their way.

* not actually new.

On matters of environment, sustainability, renewable resources, and energy production I usually fall decidedly on the side of the Eco-Spags. However, on the specific issue of GMOs, I find little reason to back the violently anti-progress activists. Not because I am a great big fan of the assholes at Monsanto whose business model seems to be the genetically-engineered lovechild of Microsoft and Count Dracula, but because Monsanto's loudest opponents only use the economic and political evils of the company as a footnote to their squealing about the inherent evils of genetic engineering.

Now, I am probably largely uninformed on the topic of genetic engineering. I am neither a botanist nor an engineer, let alone both. But I have read some stuff and, like any random person on the Internet with more opinions than time, I don't see a compelling reason to shun all GMOs. Are they really bad for humans? Eh, probably not. They may be bad for bees, but that isn't conclusively proven either. I do know that GMOs present a viable short- to mid-term solution to *SOME OF* the problems we have with starvation related to overpopulation, economic instability and war. Whether the ultimate damage done by GMOs to the ecosystem (if any) outweighs the potential good GMOs might do for the people who live in that ecosystem is what I'm trying to figure out.

You won't find me arguing that the way Monsanto conducts itself in the market is excusable. It's a terrible organization filled with terrible people who have terrible priorities. But that's an economic and political problem, not necessarily a scientific or ecological problem.

What do you think?

On the subject of religion, it is worth noting that religion isn't really limited to "religion." Spiritual, organized religion is only one manifestation of an almost universal social behavior among humans. That is, we are faced with hardship, we overcome that hardship, and we codify our methods of doing so into something we like to fantasize is a set of universally applicable instructions for overcoming all future hardships.

In the absence of any real hardship, we will happily invent something to take its place. Because humanity survives on a diet of strife and misery, we sew the seeds of those things in every encounter where we can, so they can grow and eventually we can reap their awful fruit. Religion is only one system we have invented for doing this. There is also politics, sports, Facebook, and any  number of other places where we go to receive our communion of outrage and self-righteousness.

The following list of Affirmations are complete bullshit, but they express what I think our modern, privileged, Western attitudes toward one another and those outside of our culture would be, if they were codified into a set of beatitudes.

1. Because I have suffered more than you have, you have never really suffered at all.
2. Because I know more than you do, you know nothing.
3. Because I must succeed, you must fail.
4. Because I am right, you are wrong.
5. Because I am good, you are evil.
6. Because I am oppressed, you are privileged.
7. Because I need, you must give.
8. Because I speak, you must listen.
9. Because I see, you must be blind.

I know I practice all of these things regularly, even when I try not to. In the moment, in the heat of a disagreement, they seem to hold true somehow, and then afterward, they completely disintegrate upon even the slighted examination. What is it about these attitudes that solidify under the stress of an argument, but shrivel and dissipate afterwards? And why is it that a calm mind can regard these nine points and the thousands of other thoughts that could continue the list as almost laughably easy to avoid, but a distressed and angry mind naturally and immediately conjures them up like armor?

What do these statements protect? And why is it worth protecting?

Then DO NOT watch Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States.

I consider myself reasonably "aware," at least more so than your average [American] monkey. But it turns out that I still hold a number of flat-out bullshit ideas about what America has done in the world since the outbreak of WW2, and what has driven America to its (now faltering) status as the sole "Superpower."

I was unsurprised but frustrated to learn that much of what I was taught in grade school about recent American History is, in fact, completely false. I had gathered through context clues while speaking with non-Americans online that America is not perceived as the "shining city on the hill" that we are told we are, and that we have in fact been behind a number of decidedly awful events on the world stage. But what I did not know was how intentional and callous our government's international (and domestic) behavior has been. It was my naive assumption that "difficult choices had to be made" and that throughout the Cold War we were fighting at least for something we believed in, even if we were misguided and short-sighted in the ways we chose to fight. But it turns out that no, almost nothing we have undertaken really has idealism or charity at its heart. America is, as much as any other empire in the history of the planet, completely and solely preoccupied with gaining and keeping power.

To be fair, the documentary does not really give "untold" history, as all of these facts are verified and easy to find if you are so inclined. And it does tend to lean heavily to the "Left," omitting huge amounts of negative information about the "other side," minimizing Soviet atrocities, and focusing heavily on the blunders and outrageous actions on America's part -- though I'm not sure how much of this is really "leaning Left" and how much of it is just "contradicts the American mythos." But the series does shed light on the backroom deals that shaped the world during and after the Second World War, and spends a lot of time grieving over the loss to our collective consciousness of would-be heroes like Henry Wallace. It effectively narrates America's path from relative international seclusion to almost absolute world domination through the actual decisions made by the actual people involved.

If you want an easy crash-course in What's Really Going On in the world, then watch it. But you'll lose every scrap of patriotism you have left in the process.

The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / SRSBZBS ITT
« on: September 13, 2013, 01:54:11 pm »
What do you say and/or do when a person is dealing with his spouse's suicide? I want to be supportive but just knowing it happened puts me in a weird shock.


I can't think of a single negative thing that could possibly arise from the use of such technology. Not one.

So I open up my email this morning, and I see this from the CEO:

Dear Colleagues,
On Thursday and Friday this week, a team of your peers will gather offsite to establish our Values Blueprint. Our goal will be to define the values which [company name redacted] and its employees will embrace, and identify the specific behaviors that will bring those values to life. This is exciting and important work, and essential to completing what we began earlier this year by introducing our new name and our new brand. The essence of a company’s brand begins with each and every employee, and having clarity about the values and the behaviors we all should emulate will help reinforce the strength of our brand in the marketplace, as well as significantly enhance our work environment.

Am I right to be slightly creeped out by the strongly "Corpwellian" language in this statement, or am I just seeing something that is now commonplace and safe to ignore?

*The phrase "full retard" is not intended to disparage or mock anyone who is living with a developmental disability.

Techmology and Scientism / Humans are the Smartest Things on Earth
« on: August 18, 2013, 05:36:17 pm »
we can tell because we have language. and art. and designer handbags.

this is comforting, because in the great scheme of things where things can go horrible at any moment, at least every one of us has won the genetic lottery and been born as a truly intelligent creature.

if you wish to maintain this belief and preserve this comfort, please do not click this link.

The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / DISCORDIANISM OVER
« on: August 04, 2013, 08:38:53 am »
It's the 21st century, and it's the 1960s all over again, except this time without the hippies. We've built a Brave New World, and it's immune to satire.

TV ads and political party platforms are now self-parodies. The laws we pass would make anyone not brain-damaged and desensitized from actually living in this century laugh out loud at the sheer absurdity of it all.

What would the Principia Discordia have to say about this, if it had been written yesterday? Nothing, that's what. It would be a screenshot from the front page of with the caption "Fuck it." Because we don't need biting commentary or a pope card these days. All I have to do is pick up a paper or look outside my living room window to see what should be timeless classics  in the "political horror" genre, coming to sickeningly real life in the Actual God Damned World instead.






That shit should have been comedy gold, man. Instead, it's "Tuesday." And "a religion masquerading as a joke" has now become thoroughly redundant, because the words "religion" and "joke" are now synonyms. Same goes for politics and joke, diet and joke, medicine and joke, and economy and joke. In fact, the word "joke" could, in a pinch, be used as a substitute for over 95% of the words in the English language today.

In short, fuck MAL2. He wasn't a pen name, and he didn't just write a book. He was clearly a master sorcerer and the architect of the Future We Actually Got. Whizzed right past Huxley and Orwell, and conjured an actual world where everything is simultaneously permitted, prohibited, and crazy.

The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / My Inner American
« on: July 14, 2013, 07:22:57 am »
I have an American living inside me. I believe (although official documents neither confirm nor deny) that he was installed there when I was born, because as far back as I can remember, he has been in there. Whispering, learning, reacting, tinkering with my thoughts. My Inner American changes with the times, you see. And lately he's been making a god awful racket. I don't know what he's up to, but I'm reasonably sure I won't like whatever it is he's building.

My Inner American has one of those old-fashioned oak desks, and he's parked it right behind my left eyeball, which he is always peeking out from, and writing down notes. He watches the News, so he knows where to build the walls and the fences to keep Those People out of there. He watches the TeeVee so he knows who to badmouth and who to praise. He writes all of this down on post-it notes, and then he plasters the inside of my brain with them.

He stands in the neural pathways of my brain like a school bully put on hall monitor duty to teach him Responsibility.

My Inner American is fat, of course. Not because he's not worried about his health, but because fuck you, I'll teach you to tell me what to eat, that's why. He is lazy, and even though he's got an entire gym in there with so many push-up-pull-up-curl-up-lift-up machines it looks like a medieval dungeon, he doesn't exercise. Mainly because somebody told him it was more important to buy things than to use them.

My Inner American doesn't ask questions. Well, some questions. "How much?" and "What's in it for me?" are high on his list of favorite  phrases, and he'll say them sometimes without even expecting an answer. But he doesn't ask dangerous questions. You know the ones. He stays away from those.

I read a psychology book once, and it talked about having an inner child, but never mentioned an Inner American. Maybe my Inner Child grew up to be that American guy in there. Or maybe he never grew up and he's just got a flag fixation. Whatever the case, he's driving me crazy. And I'll tell you why.

Every day, I roll through life looking for a meaningful moment or two. That's all I ask. Just to learn something or connect with someone, at least once a day. But every time I pick up a book, My Inner American is there, gets about halfway through a page, and starts yapping about Kim Kardashian. Every time it looks like I might be getting through to someone -- deconstructing some of the walls between us so we can really communicate -- that little fucker goes to work rebuilding that wall. Or "the dang fence" as he calls it.

I've sent him eviction notices, but they always get lost in the mail somehow. I'd have the Sheriff deliver it in person but, as you might guess, My Inner American is the Sheriff round these parts. Besides it wouldn't do any good. My Inner American is a litigious SOB, and would threaten a lawsuit anyway.

So I suppose I am stuck with him, at least for the time being. I've decided the best way to handle it is to build him a little stage (oh how he loves to show off), and pretend I'm at a comedy show. When you put him in that light, he becomes god damn hilarious. You should see him spout off about Immigrants and Terrorists, or The Gays, or who really shot JFK. It's a great act, and it always ends with fireworks.

I guess it isn't so had to have a little American inside, as long as I don't take it too seriously and start obeying him. Jesus, think of the consequences.




Edit:  Split from pics thread - Dok

Propaganda Depository / idk where to put this
« on: June 28, 2013, 04:34:08 am »

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