node created 2012/06/17
last changed 2013/02/04
What can one say about a country where a museum of science in a great city can feature an exhibit in which people fire machine guns from a helicopter at Vietnamese huts, with a light flashing when a hit is scored? What can one say about a country where such an idea can even be considered? You have to weep for this country.
"American Power and the New Mandarins" (1969)
He watched on. Now that he had changed sides to the SS, he admired the strength of Fritz and the police man even more. He finally had left the camp of those who were wretched enough to let themselves be bludgeoned like that. He was glad to have made his choice. He did no longer have to fear the suspicion of the masters. He was on the side of good. The beatings the men received hardened his consciousness to embody good. One cannot receive beatings and be right, one cannot be dirty, eat garbage and be right.
"The human race"
The interpretation of the pleasure in hunting as pleasure in killing, rather than in skill, is indicative of the person of our time for whom the only thing that counts is the result of an effort, in this case killing, rather than the process itself.
"The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness"
The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together.
It wasn't the "European banks" that got hurt from the mortgage-backed bunkum. They were made whole to the tune of 100 cents on the dollar. The people who are paying for it are the same ones that are paying for it over here. You and me. Our parents. Our kids.

They are creating a "breakaway" culture, who within decades will be the only ones with access to capital, to new technologies, to advanced health care. That's the ultimate effect of the dramatic increase in wealth disparity. Fifty years of this and they'll be as far ahead of the rest of us as the American settlers were of the Native Americans. When two cultures exist side-by-side and one is so far in advance of the other, it doesn't work out well for the ones on the bottom. We are seeing evolutionary branching based on wealth alone.
Man always dies before he is fully born.
Your neighbors may shit in their pool. They may not even be aware that they’re doing it. They might think shit is just a natural consequence of having a pool. They may hop the fence at night and shit in your pool, oblivious as they are to the difference between shit and not-shit. That doesn’t mean you give up and start shitting in your pool, too. You clean it up (even though it’s not your mess) and you go back to enjoying swimming in a nice sanitary place where poops don’t hit you in the face when you come up from underwater. You invite your friends over, because swimming in a nice clean pool is more fun for everyone, and it’s more fun for you if you’re not swimming alone. As a result, if your friends decide to dig pools in their backyards, they know shit and pools are not irrevocably linked and they work to keep theirs clean. Slowly, you all hope, everyone will see how much nicer that makes swimming.
Nixon was also operating at the height of the Cold War, when there may have been a legitimate right to more control over what the press can and can't say or release.

Obama is operating at the height of what? Asymmetric warfare where we're basically beating third world peasants into submission. Or maybe the War on Drugs where we're basically beating first world peasants into submission and slavery, whilst turning a complete blind eye to what's only comparable to genocide in a country we share a border with.

What our government is trying to do is on par with returning us to serfdom. I keep hearing that things are supposed to get better, but it's important to remember; freedom comes after the blade of a guillotine.
There is a goal, but no way; but what we call a way is hesitation.
"Reflections on Sin, Suffering, Hope, and the True Way", #26
You can't restart the internet. Trillions of dollars depend on a rickety cobweb of unofficial agreements and "good enough for now" code with comments like "TODO: FIX THIS IT'S A REALLY DANGEROUS HACK BUT I DON'T KNOW WHAT'S WRONG" that were written ten years ago.
Everyone has an internal eye. It always watching. It has been slowly constructed by society at large and by your friends and family, and it checks you for unacceptable behaviour. If you have had it around for long enough, you actually start to believe that the eye is you, and that you’re “being reasonable” or some other rationalization.

But the eye isn’t you at all. It is a prison, and you have justified its existence by obeying it. It’s strong because you let it be strong.

But the secret, the part that’s amazing, is that it can’t do anything to stop you, even if it wanted to. It’s an eye. It can only watch. The rest of you is free to act as you wish.
All truly wise thoughts have been thoughts already thousands of times; but to make them truly ours, we must think them over again honestly, till they take root in our personal experience.
What gets me though is most IT people can't even grok people's facial expressions, but they'll trust anything that claims it measures “the average user”.
It is very sad then that so many children are hurried along and not given time to think about themselves. People say to them when they think that they have been playing long enough: “You are no longer a child. You must begin to do something.” But although playing is doing nothing, you are really doing something when you play; you are thinking about yourself. Many children play in the wrong way. They make work out of play. They not only seem to be doing something, they really are doing something. They are imitating the grown-ups around them who are always doing as much instead of as little as possible. And they are often encouraged to play in this way by the grown-ups. And they are not learning to be themselves.
A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another: and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, a priesthood, an aristocracy, or the majority of the existing generation in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by a natural tendency to one over the body.
"On Liberty" (1859)
It is wondrous system, funneling money upwards to the owners of the world by means of voluntary association of the poor in China and everyone in between.

And you can make it too. With a dream, some hard work and sticktoitiveness, you too can be a multinational megacorporation and bazillionaire.

The playingfield is not level, though, so in general, the richer you already are, the more likely you are to make even more money in the babylon system.

If you have the nerve to be ruthless, not hesitating to trample down your fellow earthicans in the climb up, up, up the ziggurat, you'll have an edge.

Good Luck!
The received wisdom in advanced capitalist societies is that there still exists an organic “civil society sector” in which institutions form autonomously and come together to manifest the interests and will of citizens. The fable has it that the boundaries of this sector are respected by actors from government and the “private sector,” leaving a safe space for NGOs and nonprofits to advocate for things like human rights, free speech, and accountable government.

This sounds like a great idea. But if it was ever true, it has not been for decades. Since at least the 1970s, authentic actors like unions and churches have folded under a sustained assault by free-market statism, transforming “civil society” into a buyer’s market for political factions and corporate interests looking to exert influence at arm’s length. The last forty years has seen a huge proliferation of think tanks and political NGOs whose purpose, beneath all the verbiage, is to execute political agendas by proxy.
What has come to light is neither nihilism nor cynicism, as one might have expected, but a quite extraordinary confusion over elementary questions of morality — as if an instinct in such matters were truly the last thing to be taken for granted in our time.
"Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil"
The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them. For quite six years the English admirers of Hitler contrived not to learn of the existence of Dachau and Buchenwald. And those who are loudest in denouncing the German concentration camps are often quite unaware, or only very dimly aware, that there are also concentration camps in Russia. Huge events like the Ukraine famine of 1933, involving the deaths of millions of people, have actually escaped the attention of the majority of English Russophiles. Many English people have heard almost nothing about the extermination of German and Polish Jews during the present war. Their own antisemitism has caused this vast crime to bounce off their consciousness. In nationalist thought there are facts which are both true and untrue, known and unknown. A known fact may be so unbearable that it is habitually pushed aside and not allowed to enter into logical processes, or on the other hand it may enter into every calculation and yet never be admitted as a fact, even in one's own mind.
Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.
They who have put out the people's eyes reproach them of their blindness.
With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine. However, this is not necessarily a good idea. It is hard to be sure where they are going to land, and it could be dangerous sitting under them as they fly overhead.
It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous, wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support. If I devote myself to other pursuits and contemplations, I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue them sitting upon another man’s shoulders. I must get off him first, that he may pursue his contemplations too. See what gross inconsistency is tolerated. I have heard some of my townsmen say, “I should like to have them order me out to help put down an insurrection of the slaves, or to march to Mexico;—see if I would go”; and yet these very men have each, directly by their allegiance, and so indirectly, at least, by their money, furnished a substitute. The soldier is applauded who refuses to serve in an unjust war by those who do not refuse to sustain the unjust government which makes the war; is applauded by those whose own act and authority he disregards and sets at naught; as if the state were penitent to that degree that it differed one to scourge it while it sinned, but not to that degree that it left off sinning for a moment. Thus, under the name of Order and Civil Government, we are all made at last to pay homage to and support our own meanness. After the first blush of sin comes its indifference; and from immoral it becomes, as it were, unmoral, and not quite unnecessary to that life which we have made.
Good works, because they must be forgotten instantly, can never become part of the world; they come and go, leaving no trace. They truly are not of this world.
"The Human Condition"
[..] so long as power remains privately concentrated, everybody, everybody, has to be committed to one overriding goal: and that's to make sure that the rich folk are happy - because unless they are, nobody else is going to get anything. So if you’re a homeless person sleeping in the streets of Manhattan, let's say, your first concern must be that the guys in the mansions are happy - because if they're happy, then they'll invest, and the economy will work, and things will function, and then maybe something will trickle down to you somewhere along the line. But if they're not happy, everything’s going to grind to a halt, and you're not even going to get anything trickling down.
"Understanding Power" (2002)
I know of no more encouraging fact than the ability of a man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor. It is something to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so make a few objects beautiful. It is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look. This morally we can do.
If there is really authentic popular participation in the decision-making and the free association of communities, yeah, that could be tremendously important. In fact that's essentially the traditional anarchist ideal. That's what was realized the only time for about a year in Spain in 1936 before it was crushed by outside forces, in fact all outside forces, Stalinist Russia, Hitler in Germany, Mussolini's fascism and the Western democracies cooperated in crushing it. They were all afraid of it.
There was a king reigned in the East:
There, when kings will sit to feast,
They get their fill before they think
With poisoned meat and poisoned drink.
He gathered all that springs to birth
From the many-venomed earth;
First a little, thence to more,
He sampled all her killing store;
And easy, smiling, seasoned sound,
Sate the king when healths went round.
They put arsenic in his meat
And stared aghast to watch him eat;
They poured strychnine in his cup
And shook to see him drink it up:
They shook, they stared as white's their shirt:
Them it was their poison hurt.
- I tell the tale that I heard told.
Mithridates, he died old.
[Bradley Manning] ought to be regarded as a hero... Like the trade agreement, the public has a right to know what's being done to them by their so-called elected representatives, but there's a principle that he's violating, namely that power has to be protected from scrutiny... that's the principle of every dictatorship... you can hear it from the high priests of government. Bradley Manning is violating that.
Pride ruined the angels,
Their shame them restores;
Lurks the joy that is sweetest
In stings of remorse.