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Topics - Verbal Mike

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Aneristic Illusions / Neoreactionaries
« on: November 24, 2013, 08:58:47 pm »
Ever wish there was a bunch of douchebags actually worse than libertarians/ancaps? Oh boy have I got something for you  :fap:

"Exactly what sort of monarchy they’d prefer varies. Some want something closer to theocracy, while Yarvin proposes turning nation states into corporations with the king as chief executive officer and the aristocracy as shareholders."

« on: November 23, 2013, 10:29:28 pm »
So about a year ago I stopped posting here because of technical issues I was having at my parents' place in Jerusalem, where I was staying at the time.
This was about a month after I moved back to Israel (where I grew up) from Germany (where I lived for five years and studied and stuff.)

Herein are the (kinda) abbreviated tales of my exploits since then.

IN DECEMBER I met a woman my age (24 at the time) with some psychiatric issues (depression and anxiety) and we had a very intense, very short relationship, with a lot of sexual chemistry and a whole lot of really pointless fighting. It ended after about six weeks (late January). By then, I had gotten a room I couldn't afford in an apartment in Tel-Aviv (which became urgent once sex was in the picture). The roommate turned out to be a bit of an asshole. When that mini-relationship ended I went into the last phase of mourning for the real, 3-year relationship I had had in Germany, which ended just after I moved back.

LATE JANUARY was also time for national elections here. Woohoo! Very depressing results. After much debating I went with Da'am, a small revolutionary Marxist party and basically the only party with serious prominent Arab candidates other than the corrupt old Arab parties. We got about 3.5k votes, or about a 50th of the votes needed for a seat in Knesset.
On election day I decided I think this party is the only hope the Left here has in long run, so voting for them is not enough and I need to get active.

Shortly after election day I started working at last, at a vegan fast food place. The boss was utterly insane. The co-workers were sparkly, lovely, sweet-hearted hippies.
I lasted about a month. Because of the boss. I kept the hippies for a while. Moved on to my first real office job. Doing QA on translations of very repetitive material. (We're in March now.) It got pretty soul-crushing, pretty quickly, but the people were decent and the pay was sufficient for sustenance.
By then I had become a member and activist in Da'am (that party I voted for).
In April the social justice protests started again (as they do every summer. Yes, April is practically summer here, it's insane, I know.) I got really into marching and shouting at least once a week.

In May I fell head-over-heels for a funny and smart and cute woman I met on OKCupid. However, she suffered from depression [pattern? me??] and serious intimacy/closeness issues and it ended before it even really started (she might have also not been that into me, I never really understood). I was surprisingly quick to recover. Then it kinda started again but fizzled out and I had no expectations anymore so I was all like, whatever. We kind of stayed friends.

Also, at the end of May I moved out of the apartment with the douchebag roommate (he was just a douche and noisy at night and kinda desperate for friendship and quick to blame.) Moved in with my sister, who is one of the most awesome people in the universe. We had wanted to move in together since before I moved back so we were very happy when it worked out. I still live there – it's me, the sister, and another roomie I get along with more or less.

In June I turned 25 but I don't think much else really happened. Except that that week I had the worst depressive episode I've had in a long time, leading me to take three sick days. It happened just as a good friend from Denmark was visiting, he helped me out of it, and I bounced back like nothing ever before, right into months of cheer and good energy.

In July and August I was in Europe a lot. First on a family vacation, then at a conference (of the NGO I was involved in before moving back) and giving a workshop. I had a lot of time to read and think. Had a lot of thoughts about what I want to do, revolution-wise. Then I read "The Dispossessed" by Ursula K. Le Guin and it gave me a feeling of centeredness and of being pretty damn okay. And stuff. Highly recommended reading, if you ask me.

Anyhoo I came back all serene and focussed and motivated and stuff.

Then IN SEPTEMBER Da'am (the party), started up its municipal election campaign, really, really late (elections were October 22nd) and I got asked to help out with some Facebook stuff. Which very quickly turned into me getting hired full-time as the campaign manager's assistant or something. It was pretty awesome but very tiring. I did short days at the translation company until the end of September, before switching to only doing campaign work.

At some point in September I met The Redhead. She kinda hit on me via Facebook after I was really awesome in a thread in a feminist FB group oriented towards sensitive dudes. We had a nice chat and met up that night and talked for hours and ended up doing sexy stuff. It was all awesome and stuff but actually I wasn't that into her, physically/visually.

The way it was with her kind of reminded me of The Ex, whom I also wasn't all that into in those respects when we met, and in that case things kept going for three years and I always harbored an ambivalence. This got me thinking about a few things. One very important thing I realized is that I had always been afraid of commitment, but I rushed towards commitment due to a need for validation. In conjunction with all this, I started realizing my relationship with my gender is more complicated than I thought. I do and will continue identifying as a Dude (I think), and I'm still basically only really into wimminz ( :fap: ), but I feel like I've always made an effort to pass as straight, and decided I have to stop doing so.

Things kept going with The Redhead, because it was fun and nice and interesting. But pretty quickly it became clear that she was more seriously into me than I into her. This was all during the campaign, but a week or two after I met her I came down with the flu and was out of commission for about a week. We saw each other a lot that week, being neighbors. At the end of that week, on my way back to campaign stuff at last, I started a difficult conversation.

Basically, I told her that I really didn't know where we were going but I worried she wanted things to go in a certain, serious, monogamous direction and that that was kinda freaking me out. I said I wanted to be polyamorous (which I did), I felt that was something I needed to try out in order to learn more about myself, and because it would conveniently allow me to continue doing with The Redhead whatever she was up to, while still barking up other trees and stuff. A little surprisingly, she was okay with it all.

The end of the campaign was pretty damn difficult and The Redhead and I didn't see each other much, let alone have time for deep conversations. But quickly after the campaign ended (oh, we totally lost again, lol) we ended up having another conversation like that. By now, she was already part of my extended clique, in part because her best friend is my best friend's girlfriend. "My Boys" – Best Friend and his roommate, my old best friend, whom I will dub the Cuddly Czar – actually did an intervention on me, telling me I had to reach a decision and had crossed the point of no return, as far as hurting The Redhead.

The next day, when she and I met up, she actually started the relationship talk because some stuff I had said, poking fun at her a week or so prior, had really hurt her. I apologized and clumsily tried to rationalize my shitty behavior. And then brought up my concerns. For some reason I decided (after a LOT of thought) it would make sense to lay all my cards on the table and actually tell her that I felt she was more attracted to me than I was to her. Needless to say, this was hurtful, but I told her I was trying to lay all my cards on the table and stuff, and we were okay pretty quickly. She basically again agreed to keep things going as they were. We did some of TEH SEX and she left with both of us feeling really good about the situation.

A couple days later, without us having had a chance to see each other again, she broke up via text, wishing me a nice life. I wasn't surprised about her ending it (I was actually a bit relieved, shitty old me) but I was shocked at her cutting off all contact like that. I suggested meeting to talk and she never replied. The Redhead and me then became the topic of the first fight ever between Best Friend and his g/f, whom I hereby dub Babyface.

The next day, I was feeling really down, and after a Halloween party we had at The Boys' place, I asked Cuddly Czar for some one-on-one time because he usually tells me I'm not an awful person, and because Best Friend had Babyface to stick around with.

The Czar basically explained to me what exactly was shitty about the way I treated The Redhead and really did not offer me too much in terms of consolation or support. But at least then I understood how douchy and exploitative it was to keep someone around when she was clearly interested in more and kinda just say "well, get used to less."

The Czar said I should apologize, and I was going to, but when I talked with Best Friend the next day, he said he and Babyface had heard of this notion, and she said to tell me not to contact The Redhead for a month, period, and that apologizing might make me feel better but it wouldn't help her move on. So I kept quiet and spent days feeling like a very bad person.

Then The Redhead published a blog post about Feminist Douchebags, using mainly examples from stuff with me to illustrate. This was pretty damn harsh for me to read, even though the examples were almost all distorted one way or another and I wasn't mentioned by name. It was obviously written out of pain, and I tried to take it as valid criticism, but found myself mainly nitpicking it in my mind. When I shared some of the nitpicking with My Boys, the Czar was first dismissive and then exploded. (The consensus later on was that the article was altogether crappy, not actually about me, and didn't even mention the things which I actually did wrong.)

Basically, it turned out the Czar had had a bone to pick with me for almost this entire year. Right after I came back, we got to discussing Feminism, and I was armed with a whole lot of information from the Feminism Wars here on PDCOM (which must have been about a year and a half ago). I don't think I was very active in them myself, but those threads deeply affected my world view, boys and girls! :)
Anyhoo, I got preachy on him at some point. He started seeing me as all holier-than-thou, first about Feminist Issues and later about Socialism too. He mentioned it at some point way back then but said it wasn't a big deal anymore, and I said I'd make an effort not to get preachy. And I thought that I did.

So, we're both a bit fuzzy on how it started, but basically for several months the Czar thought I was kinda insufferable, thought I was critical of him and oblivious of my own shortcomings, and basically stopped actually being my friend and started kinda just playing along instead. Drifting away while I would talk and shit. On my part, I was on the one hand pretty shitty too – when he moved to Tel-Aviv a few months back, I just kind of assigned him a role and decided it was fine to include him in my and Best Friend's long conversations about Class and Racism and Feminist Issues and Revolution and Free Society and stuff; because I allowed myself to assume he was basically on board ideologically (all the while kinda knowing he wasn't) I allowed myself dry, cynical, Leftist humor which was sometimes at his expense. I didn't mean to be mean but I really was. On the other hand, I was making a conscious and much-announced effort to make my friendships closer and more full of TEH FEELZ, and the Czar played along.

But then after The Redhead's blog post, the Czar couldn't hold it in any longer, he blurted out some of the hurt, and we sat down for a conversation. Oh, and by the way, at this point something romantic was starting off between him and The Redhead. The only reason it bothered me was the constant image of them talking about me and him agreeing with the stuff she wrote in that post.

This is getting WAY too wordy so I'm gonna zoom out a little for the last part.

Basically, the Czar and I have had a few heart-to-hearts. I have been depressed a lot of the time. Oh, and as I mentioned elsewhere, I stopped smoking tobacco (right before the second heart-to-heart, almost two weeks ago). A few days ago, Babyface thankfully forced me to talk about my feelings regarding the Czar and myself and The Redhead. A lot. She and Best Friend have given me some support. The Czar and I are working on rebuilding our friendship. He and The Redhead have something going on and it sounds like it's going well. There was stuff that came up in both of their criticism, and stuff that only the Czar raised, which has given me a lot of thought. I had become a bit arrogant and know-it-all-ish. My humor had become a bit nasty.

During all of this drama more or less, my sister has been really busy or abroad. She's coming back tomorrow and will probably be an angel and tell me I'm a good person and stuff. Not having her here has made me pretty isolated while my inner circle is in turmoil over my ill deeds.

Now that the dust has basically settled, I'm left struggling with a bunch of issues. On the one hand, trying to alter my behavior, to be less of a pain in the ass and more of a kind individual who treats people respectfully. On the other hand, trying to figure out my gender stuff, which is confusing because I don't feel like any label fits me better than "straight dude" but I hate that label and don't feel comfortable with it or at home in it.

All this crap with the Czar has really shaken me up. One of my big issues is that I almost always have a feeling of being unwanted or unwelcomed, like people secretly wish I would just leave but don't have the heart to say so. Having one of the few people I thought really knew me and really cared about me tell me that if he had met me now, he would have steered far away from me, really makes me pretty unsure about everything. A lot of the time, I feel like I shouldn't interact with people, because they don't really want me to and I'll probably end up hurting them without noticing.

So, that sucks.

Think I got most of the important details in here. Too many, anyway. YOUR THOUGHTS PLEASE.

Apple Talk / "Atheism+"
« on: November 02, 2012, 11:27:20 pm »
No idea if it's already been mentioned here, but this site is intriguing, and might conceivably be a place for gentle trolling and/or recruiting:

Atheism+ is a safe space for people to discuss how religion affects everyone and to apply skepticism and critical thinking to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, GLBT issues, politics, poverty, and crime.

Heard about it from this article.

Apple Talk / Y'all are gonna wanna see this
« on: October 18, 2012, 09:55:43 am »

It's some weird crazy remix of the first presidential debate, with lipdubbing and pure incoherent insanity. I haven't laughed this hard in a while.

Aneristic Illusions / German Social Democrats "declare war on banks"
« on: September 27, 2012, 12:45:41 pm »
Germany’s centre-left Social Democrats kicked off their election campaign with what was described as a declaration of war on the banks, sparking fears in the sector that it could force the conservatives to follow suit.


Apple Talk / In which VERBL needs input on his first-world problems
« on: September 24, 2012, 07:23:17 pm »
So as I've mentioned here and there, I'm moving to Israel (where I grew up) for about half a year sometime soon. I figured since there's a few wise and experienced people here, I might get some useful input on a dilemma I have.

The background situation is this:
-I've basically just finished my undergraduate studies here in Germany (getting my degree some time soon)
-I've been DOING SCIENCE for a few months no, writing an article I was supposed to finish months ago, and which I was paid for through July – but the end of the work (which I really want to finish and see published) is finally very close
-It's getting cold here, and I don't want to be here in the cold months
-I'm fairly confident I can get paid working for some NGO or something like that, and if that fails I can almost certainly find lucrative work in high-tech or translation
-Once she finishes her MA thesis, my girlfriend will be joining me in Israel for some of December and most of January,
-Me and the g/f have the apartment we share here until the end of November, and I've agreed to pay my half of the rent (200€/month) until the end, no matter when I actually leave
-I'm basically broke, even though I have some savings here (which I get some government bonus on if I don't break them open until 2014) – but I can borrow money at around 10% p.a. as authorized overdraft, which I expect I can pay off pretty soon (if I can't make enough to do so in Israel, I'll move back here anyway)
-Getting unemployment benefits here is basically a non-option at this point because I'll be gone before they kick in

Right now, I'm finally getting anxious to leave, and starting to look forward to it. But it turns out that as of October 1, when I am no longer a student, I have to sign up for the same socialized healthcare I get now, except it's called "voluntary health insurance" (hint: it's not), costs more, and I have to keep it until the end of 2012 even if I leave the continent – unless I quickly get a job that comes with normal socialized healthcare ("legislated health insurance") – which is any job paying 401€/month or more. I basically have three options now:

I can sign up for the "voluntary" insurance starting October 1, which will cost me about 150€/month for as long as I'm here, and which I can't cancel before the end of 2012. The insurance company will only charge me 50€/month for the period of time when I'm out of the country.

Can focus on finishing my research, selling all my shit, packing, and spending time with my friends;
Can most probably be outta here before the end of October;
I'm covered in case something happens.

A few more weeks without an income;
Paying for German insurance while on another continent.

I can just let my normal insurance run out and not sign up for "voluntary" insurance. When I move back here, I'll have to pay for the time I was here uninsured, retroactively, but nonetheless, if I need to see a doctor while uninsured, I'll have to pay out of my nose.

Can focus on finishing my research, selling all my shit, packing, and spending time with my friends;
Can most probably be outta here before the end of October;
Don't have to pay for German health insurance while on another continent.

A few more weeks without an income.
Could be really shitty and extremely expensive if I need to see a doctor.

In this scenario, I get some mind-numbing work, starting later this week, which lets me keep normal insurance. The insurance runs out the day I leave the job, and if I de-register with the city on the same day then that's that.

Income! Yay!
Don't have to pay for insurance I'm not using;
Get to work in actual blue-collar work, which I've never done and am curious about.

Might still be here come November, since I'll have less time and energy for all the selling and packing and stuff;
Won't get to spend as much time with my friends before leaving;
Higher likelihood of getting stressed out, which tends to trigger my (mild) depression, especially when it's cold and cloudy.

I tend to think I should either get a job, or get "voluntary" insurance – being uninsured is a scary prospect, and I'm pretty confident I can pay away the overdraft even if I don't get a job.

tl;dr / what it comes down to:
Should I do the financially wise thing, get a job, pay less for healthcare, but end up spending more time here while wanting to leave, enjoying that time less or possibly being outright miserable;
OR should I take a risk, pay a bit more for healthcare while continuing to have no income, but spend a few sweet weeks of research, packing, and friends, then work off my modest debt (which will be in the vicinity of 500-1000€) in Israel surrounded by family and friends (and military, threats of war, the occupation, and lynchings)?


Apple Talk / Moral choice blindness
« on: September 21, 2012, 07:06:59 pm »

Seems to me this might be a factor in the lack of outrage over politicians not doing what they promised they would after elections. If part of our brain sometimes/often just rationalizes any choice we appear to have made without really remembering the choice,  that suddenly makes a lot of sense.

Apple Talk / Fun FB religion discussion
« on: September 17, 2012, 06:00:39 pm »
So I posted a pic that sparked a nice debate about religion on FB.

(My last name, and the last names and pics of all non-pseudonyms are redacted. Which was a total pain in the ass to do.)

First time I ever openly argued from a Discordian perspective on FB, methinks (and only in my last comment.)  :fap:

Or Kill Me / Cultucide
« on: September 14, 2012, 11:41:20 am »
Sometimes I think about an aspect of ethnic cleansing, a side-effect really, one that pales to utter meaninglessness in comparison to the actual mass slaughter of innocents. But this side-effect, the destruction of the victims' culture, brings tears to my eyes.

I think about the life of Eastern European Jews, in their shtetls and ghettos. I think about the life of German Jews, like my grandmother and her near-dozen murdered siblings – a Jewish culture that was as cosmopolitan and Western as could be; they were even proud German patriots and often refused to the end to accept that this required hating their own kind. I think about the life of pre-Columbian indigenous North and South Americans, dozens if not hundreds of different cultures, interconnected and isolated from the Old World. I think about the Armenians, the Kurds, the Palestinians. There are other "cleansed" cultures I know less about all over Africa and East Asia.

In most of these cases, the cultural cleansing was never total nor complete. Cultures die hard. German Jews laid down the cultural foundations of Tel-Aviv, and those still alive today often meet in groups to talk German and discuss literature and politics, like their parents did in salons that were later expropriated by the Authorities. Armenian ceramics, in their lush colors and fantastic patterns, are a staple of Jerusalem tourist trinketry to this day. On the same tiny fleck of land, Palestinians still make and sell the simple but delicious traditional food their parents and grandparents would make before the Holocaust survivors came with Western trauma and Western guns and expropriated their land and autonomy.

But while cultures rarely disappear without a trace – even when a majority of their hosts have been slaughtered – no culture can survive ethnic cleansing.

The sharp, cynical humor of shtetl Yiddish culture no longer informs a whole literary tradition. It is instead collected in glossy-covered anthologies, with English or Hebrew transliteration and translation, and recited with an American or Israeli accent by young enthusiasts trying to keep it alive.

Drug- and booze-ravaged, impoverished Reservation Indians can only hope to imitate a vague, near-forgotten shadow of their cultural heritage – and forget about the inter-tribal cultural traditions that once connected dozens of cultures in trade, across vast swathes of land and language families.

Palestinians usually don't bother to create anything new anymore – their culture has been reduced to traditional food, a religion they share with most neighboring countries, a stubborn refusal to be starved, and the endless wait for freedom and autonomy. But waiting while reproducing tradition is not culture, in precisely the way that a zombie is not alive.

At the heart of any culture is a grid, a way to interpret reality. Attached to that are a bunch of customs, recipes for food, and for remedies, and for relationships. Also attached are societal hierarchies and memes to support them.

Grids are easily replaced by those the conquerors use.

Old societal hierarchies become irrelevant when your entire society is shattered is subjugated.

All that remains in the end are the customs and recipes, a standing reminder that something beautiful has been lost forever.

Apple Talk / I just read this headline...
« on: September 13, 2012, 11:18:01 am »
Parents save son by each giving him a hug

I was intrigued, so I clicked through, only to find out I had misread it.

I should probably sleep more. :lulz:

Rick Falkvinge, founder of the Pirate Party of Sweden, wrote an essay calling for re-legalization of child porn a few days ago:
It's long, and very cringe-worthy because of the subject matter, but thoughtful and reasonable.
The TL;DR he offers, from someone's else's Google+ comment:
It’s not illegal to film a murder.
It’s not illegal to possess a film of a murder.
But it’s still illegal to murder people.
And it’s illegal to initiate a murder for the purpose of filming it.
If you have taken part in a murder and have film of it, the film may be usable as proof against you.
I can’t see that Rick suggests anything different here – i.e., I see no suggestions that it should be OK to molest children for the purpose of filming it. That’s good.
In the end it’s as simple as this: it should never be illegal to merely possess information, any information.

The German Pirate Party has painstakingly distanced itself from Falkvinge and he's rumored to have stepped down from something.

I think the Germans are right to do so, because they're a political party and want to have a snowball's chance in hell in coming elections. But I also think Falkvinge is basically right in all of his policy suggestions in the essay, and in the general lines of argumentation (though I have some issues with some of the specifics.)


Just a quick thought I've been having on the backdrop of our recent discussions of feminism etc.

Before I start, let me note that I will be making some generalizations about people, people whose experience I have barely a glimpse of, and I feel kind of uncomfortable doing so. Hence, a lot of attempts at e-prime. And I'm eager to hear the take of people who are more intimately familiar with what I'm talking about, meaning mainly anyone who's not a cis male. (It's not that my opinion is a-priori invalid, it's that I don't have some crucially relevant perspectives.)

It seems that with patriarchy, as with any other form of oppression (or, any other part of The MachineTM), the dominant group and the memes that justify its dominance have an ally in something probably related to Stockholm Syndrome (you know, the thing where people who are kidnapped start identifying with their captor and feeling positive and dependent about them.)

Sticking to the feminist issue, what I have in mind is this: women, as part of a (relatively) oppressed group, are basically forced to choose, consciously or otherwise, between two lame options. Either they conform with the wishes of their oppressors (not all men, but an abstract The Man), in which case they are giving up on some potential individuality in favor of the comfort of being agreeable to the people in charge; or they refuse to conform, refuse to look and act the way they're expected to, and as a result can maintain individuality, but are both likelier to suffer abuse (from oppressors and conformists alike) and are likely to be stamped off as crazy/weird/bitter/ugly/etc., enabling oppressors and conformists to easily disregard their perspective. "You're just angry because guys don't want you", "don't listen to her, she's just crazy", etc.

This seems to be a pattern so prevalent that it might be useful to think of it as the essence of oppression. Either conform, or be marginalized. The more you conform, the less easy you are to marginalize. But this is where the Stockholmy stuff comes into play. It seems almost obvious, but it's worth pointing out that conformists tend to be the least likely people to realize they are taking part in oppression. I don't know what direction the causality goes in, but everywhere I look, I see conformists who are fine with things as they are and get angry when someone suggests they're part of oppression, and non-conformists who see the oppression and are fucking pissed off for being marginalized by it.

Women who conform to patriarchy, who constantly make huge efforts to be perfect decoration and "playmates" for the men around them, seem to actually want the kind of validation the patriarchy offers them, and look down on women who do not conform as much. And women who are conscious of the patriarchy tend to refuse to conform, at least in some ways, and to look down on women who do conform.

Because patriarchy is still a dominant part of The Machine – which implies that most people carry a bunch of patriarchal memes – and because of the principle that communication can only take place between equals, a majority of society looks down on those individuals who are aware and critical of the patriarchy. Because they look down on them (us), communication is impossible. And so The Machine lives on, and like any attempt to change it, feminism can at most hope to slowly shift the balance away from patriarchy, but never to dismantle The Machine as a whole.

Apple Talk / Israel starving refugees to death at its border
« on: September 05, 2012, 04:13:18 pm »
One of those days when I'm especially ashamed of what my home country does. Not sure if it's mentioned in the Guardian article, but last night some Israeli civilians tried to approach the fence to give the refugees some food, and the army refused to let them through or even pass the food on for them, apparently on official orders.

And people I know are defending this, or at least deflecting it with "yeah but why aren't you criticizing Assad for his atrocities?" or "but isn't Egypt even more responsible for this situation?".

Also, caffeine and nicotine withdrawal. Just kill me.

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