node created 2019/09/29
Since we’re awash in this contemporary ocean of speculation, we forget that things can be known with certainty, and that we need not live in a fearful world of interminable unsupported opinion. But the gulf that separates hard fact from speculation is by now so unfamiliar that most people can’t comprehend it.
It's really interesting to watch establishment media congeal around the notion that any speculation of foul play -- or indeed any deviation from the official line of "whoops he killed himself lol" -- is "baseless," to be placed in a category of "conspiracy theories" alongside chemtrails and reptilian overlords, a tragic consequence of the internet's proclivity to spread viral fake news, etc.

I mean, here you had a potential witness who we know may have had the goods on a member of the British royal family and a former U.S. Senator and state Governor, just from the slight trickle of documents that have made it out to the public (in addition to the Miami Herald reporter, we also have conspiracy nutbar Mike Cernovich to thank for that). Both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump had long associations with him. The source of his wealth is an utter black box, which suggests at the very least an absurdly rich benefactor, if not an extensive blackmail scheme or even support from some state actor. There's practically an entire army division's worth of people with their hands on the levers of power who may have had everything to lose if Epstein made it to trial. And Epstein himself was an unrepentant sociopath with delusions of grandeur who hardly fit the profile of a defendant who would off himself.

So far, all we've been told is that he was inexplicably not under 24/7 monitoring, that there may not even be conclusive video evidence of activity in and around his cell, and the body was taken to a hospital somewhere. And we're supposed to think it's just completely off-the-reservation crazy to cast doubt on the official narratives here? Even to think that maybe someone helped create the conditions at the prison under which it was even possible for Epstein to kill himself?

Literally half the world predicted this would happen in the first place! So color me a bit unconvinced that what the conspiracy theories really demonstrate is that the hoi polloi don't know how to distinguish fact from fiction on the internet. And if Bill Clinton didn't want to feature in those theories, well, maybe he could have not taken quite so many rides on the Lolita Express.

Of course, this is all coming from many of the same media sources which spent the first two years of Trump's presidency barking up the tree of secret Russian pee tape kompromat and Putin as the secret puppetmaster of Manchurian Candidate Trump.
We feel free to express ourselves because we are ready to fade into emptiness. When we are trying to be active and special and to accomplish something, we cannot express ourselves... So we have enjoyment, we are free.
"Not Always So"
Don't worry, we're OK, though frightened and angry. Moscow is full of tanks and military machines, I hate them. They try to close all mass media, they shutted up CNN an hour ago, Soviet TV transmits opera and old movies. But, thanks Heaven, they don't consider RELCOM mass media or they simply forgot about it. Now we transmit information enough to put us in prison for the rest of our life :-). Hope all will turn out well at long last...
Today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups... So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.
Philip K. Dick
As long as either our attention or our personal information is traded by third parties in markets that do not incorporate their value to us, they will tend to be underpriced and used in ways that are both against our wishes and detrimental to our well-being. That meets the definition of exploitation. Things that we find valuable and are quintessentially our own are being stripped away from us without our consent or adequate compensation.
Criminals do not die by the hands of the law. They die by the hands of other men.
Because we are lied to all the time, in ways so routine they are beneath conscious notice, even the most direct lies are losing their power to shock us.
[..] celebrities (particularly, but not solely, movie stars) are always playing a role, even in interviews, etc. When they make a public appearance that isn't overtly as a character, the role they're playing is their "movie star" persona. Unless you are an actual friend of theirs, you don't really know what their true authentic selves are.

Social media, it seems to me, has caused everyone to do the same thing. In social media, people tend to be playing a role -- that role being what they view as the best version of themselves. But it's not their true authentic selves any more than with the celebrities.

I think this has caused a serious degradation in the social fabric. Before social media, the most common interactions you had were with friends and family, and you were mostly interacting with their authentic selves. After all, nobody really knows you until they've seen you at your worst.

Interactions in social media are not like that. You're interactive with people playing parts, and that interaction is no longer genuine human contact. It just has the window-dressing of that.

Loneliness and isolation is the logical result of that. It's a bit like replacing most of your food with "dietary fiber" that is made to look and taste like food. It will fill you up and taste good, but in the end you'll still starve to death.
The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past and no different past can ever have existed. In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or East Asia, but to keep the very structure of society intact.
I used to call myself a war photographer. Now I consider myself as an antiwar photographer.
Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking.
I am talking about the monstrous phenomenon of a regime that is imposed upon a population which is not made up of a single people, but of two peoples who are enemies. On top of this national conflict, itself insoluble, there is a social conflict of these two peoples. One works and the other exploits the first. That is why there cannot be a democratic regime in this country, neither can human rights be respected. I insist: they cannot be. It doesn't depend on someone's goodwill. It is the consequence of the objective fact that the State of Israel is, today, a colonial power. Precisely when history, for the second half of the 20th century, has been characterized by world decolonization, the State of Israel and South Africa are the only remaining colonial powers.
On May 27, the New York Times published one of the most incredible sentences I’ve ever seen. They ran an article about the Nixon-Kissinger interchanges. Kissinger fought very hard through the courts to try to prevent it, but the courts permitted it. You read through it, and you see the following statement embedded in it. Nixon at one point informs Kissinger, his right-hand Eichmann, that he wanted bombing of Cambodia. And Kissinger loyally transmits the order to the Pentagon to carry out "a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. Anything that flies on anything that moves."

That is the most explicit call for what we call genocide when other people do it that I’ve ever seen in the historical record. Right at this moment there is a prosecution of Milošević going on in the international tribunal, and the prosecutors are kind of hampered because they can’t find direct orders, or a direct connection even, linking Milošević to any atrocities on the ground. Suppose they found a statement like this. Suppose a document came out from Milošević saying, "Reduce Kosovo to rubble. Anything that flies on anything that moves." They would be overjoyed. The trial would be over. He would be sent away for multiple life sentences - if it was a U.S. trial, immediately the electric chair.
The past month was the 10th anniversary of the massacres in Rwanda, and there was much soul-searching about our failure to do anything about them. So headlines read "To Say `Never Again' and Mean it; the 1994 Rwandan genocide should have taught us about the consequences of doing nothing" (Richard Holbrooke, Washington Post); "Learn from Rwanda" (Bill Clinton, Washington Post).

So what did we learn? In Rwanda, for 100 days people were being killed at the rate of about 8000 a day, and we did nothing. Fast forward to today. In Africa, about 10,000 children a day are dying from easily treatable diseases, and we are doing nothing to save them. That's not just 100 days, it's every day, year after year, killing at the Rwanda rate. And far easier to stop then Rwanda: it just means pennies to bribe drug companies to produce remedies.

But we do nothing. Which raises another question: what kind of socioeconomic system can be so savage and insane that to stop Rwanda-scale killings among children going on year after year it's necessary to bribe the most profitable industry that ever existed? That's carrying socioeconomic lunacy beyond the bounds that even the craziest maniac could imagine? But we do nothing.
ZNet forum reply, May 9, 2004
People are like stained-glass windows, they sparkle and shine when the sun is out but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.
Freedom is the right to grow, it’s the right to blossom, Freedom is the right to be yourself.
The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.
When it gets down to having to use violence, then you're playing the system's game. The establishment will irritate you - pull your beard, flick your face - to make you fight. Because once they've got you violent, then they know how to handle you.
Speak the truth even if your voice shakes.
Virtuous intelligent people, the wise, are habituated and developed in the direction of truth and away from lies, deceit and bullshit. They have a sensitivity to the truth and the value of truth. Bullshitting requires and in turn reinforces a kind of mental dullness and blindness. It leads to a kind of degeneration of the mental faculties. If you don't care about the truth—only the parochial effects of your petty machinations—then you are frustrating the intellect and its grasp of reality. You are reinforcing vices while weakening the capacity for discernment and the strengths and virtues needed for proper intellectual function and receptivity.

It's a bit like what happens when an intelligent coward is met with contrary evidence. He will turn away from the truth and go to great lengths to rationalize it away, and in doing so, he will blind himself to the truth. Making that a habit through repetition only deepens the vice and unravels the mind, making it increasingly difficult to dig yourself out.
At elite conferences, they wonder how to regain trust, or otherwise deal with the rising atmosphere of populist discontent. They acknowledge that something is deeply wrong. But they dare not lay the blame at their own feet, caused by their own overreaches and dysfunction. Anyone who did would immediately be under suspicion. No longer one of us, but one of them. So, those who might otherwise lead the difficult but necessary elite self-critique instead keep their mouths shut, or they say the wrong thing without ideological, psychological, and social preparation for the consequences and get cast out. Only the true believers incapable of self-critique, the incompetent, and the cynics, remain as voices in the public forum. They talk in circles, never quite able to correct course and come to any new conclusions, except the need to double down on current ideological practices.
Your silence and self-censorship won't matter in the end. The Soviets often just targeted random people because it chilled dissent overall.

Silent or not, party member or not, you will be dragged from your home in the night and never seen again. This is the reality of what it was like.

So you might as well be brave and speak out against it because that's the only actual defense you have.
And imagine this girl is just studying accounting or design or engineering, her favourite thing to do is shopping with her friends and watching K drama, or maybe she is a computer nerd and gamer, I don't know. Perhaps she was planning to go on a year of working holiday after she graduates. She has her whole future ahead of her.

Now she is forced to abseil down this rope in her bare hands. She has no safety gear or fall arrest system to break her fall. All she has is her fragile body and her strong will to fight against the biggest bully currently in the world that other nations are too chicken to stand up against.

I want to give more than just a salute to this girl and countless others (guys or girls), whom we may not even get to see their faces or know their names ever. I think the whole of humanity and all that is good (or what is left of the good in humanity) owe them. Whatever the outcome of this current mess, you have already won. I wish there are more people like you in the world, and I hope one day if I am forced to face a giant, I can be like you.
There was a widespread conviction that it is impossible to withstand temptation of any kind, that none of us could be trusted or even be expected to betrustworthy when the chips are down, that to be tempted and to be forced are almost the same, whereas in the words of Mary McCarthy, who first spotted this fallacy: "If somebody points a gun at you and says,'Kill your friend or I will kill you,' he is tempting you, that is all." And while a temptation where one's life is at stake may be a legal excuse for a crime, it certainly is not a moral justification.


It is fortunate and wise that no law exists for sins of omission and no human court is called up onto sit in judgment over them. But it is equally fortunate that there exists still one institution in society in which it is well-nigh impossible to evade issues of personal responsibility, where all justifications of a nonspecific, abstract nature - from the Zeitgeist down to the Oedipus complex - break down, where not systems or trends or original sin are judged, but men of flesh and blood like you and me, whose deeds are of course still human deeds but who appear before a tribunal because they have broken some law whose maintenance we regard as essential for the integrity of our common humanity. Legal and moral issues are by no means the same, but they have a certain affinity with each other because they both presuppose the power of judgment.


What mattered in our early, nontheoretical education in morality was never the conduct of the true culprit of whom even then no one in his right mind could expect other than the worst. Thus we were outraged, but not morally disturbed, by the bestial behavior of the stormtroopers in the concentration camps and the torture cellars of the secret police, and it would have been strange indeed to grow morally indignant over the speeches of the Nazi big wigs inpower, whose opinions had been common knowledge for years. [..] The moral issue arose only with the phenomenon of "coordination," that is, not with fear-inspired hypocrisy, but with this very early eagerness not to miss the train of History, with this, as it were, honest overnight change of opinion that befell a great majority of public figures in all walks of life and all ramifications of culture, accompanied, as it was, by an incredible ease with which life long friendships were broken and discarded. In brief, what disturbed us was the behavior not of our enemies but of our friends, who had done nothing to bring this situation about. They were not responsible for the Nazis, they were only impressed by the Nazi success and unable to pit their own judgment against the verdict of History, as they read it. Without taking into account the almost universal breakdown, not of personal responsibility, but of personal judgment in the early stages of the Nazi regime, it is impossible to understand what actually happened.
Why shouldn't I work for the N.S.A.? That's a tough one, but I'll take a shot. Say I'm working at N.S.A. Somebody puts a code on my desk, something nobody else can break. Maybe I take a shot at it and maybe I break it. And I'm real happy with myself, 'cause I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East. Once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels were hiding and fifteen hundred people I never met, never had no problem with, get killed. Now the politicians are sayin', "Oh, send in the Marines to secure the area" 'cause they don't give a shit. It won't be their kid over there, gettin' shot. Just like it wasn't them when their number got called, 'cause they were pullin' a tour in the National Guard. It'll be some kid from Southie takin' shrapnel in the ass. And he comes back to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from. And the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, 'cause he'll work for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks. Meanwhile, he realizes the only reason he was over there in the first place was so we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price. And, of course, the oil companies used the skirmish over there to scare up domestic oil prices. A cute little ancillary benefit for them, but it ain't helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon. And they're takin' their sweet time bringin' the oil back, of course, and maybe even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis and fuckin' play slalom with the icebergs, and it ain't too long 'til he hits one, spills the oil and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic. So now my buddy's out of work and he can't afford to drive, so he's got to walk to the fuckin' job interviews, which sucks 'cause the shrapnel in his ass is givin' him chronic hemorrhoids. And meanwhile he's starvin', 'cause every time he tries to get a bite to eat, the only blue plate special they're servin' is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State. So what did I think? I'm holdin' out for somethin' better. I figure fuck it, while I'm at it why not just shoot my buddy, take his job, give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe and join the National Guard? I could be elected president.
"Good Will Hunting"
See, capitalism is not fundamentally racist -- it can exploit racism for its purposes, but racism isn't built into it. Capitalism basically wants people to be interchangeable cogs, and differences among them, such as on the basis of race, usually are not functional. I mean, they may be functional for a period, like if you want a super exploited workforce or something, but those situations are kind of anomalous. Over the long term, you can expect capitalism to be anti-racist -- just because its anti-human. And race is in fact a human characteristic -- there's no reason why it should be a negative characteristic, but it is a human characteristic. So therefore identifications based on race interfere with the basic ideal that people should be available just as consumers and producers, interchangeable cogs who will purchase all the junk that's produced -- that's their ultimate function, and any other properties they might have are kind of irrelevant, and usually a nuisance.
Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.