Thursday, January 29, 2009

February is torture month

I want to declare February as official torture month. Use this month to celebrate torture, to appreciate all it has done for the disintegration of society, for the pain and hatred it has nourished, and for the catchy songs it spawned!

Here's Obama saying the U.S. will not torture:



Gotcha!

When President Obama declared flatly this week that "the United States will not torture" many people wrongly believed that he'd shut the practice down, when in fact he'd merely repositioned it.

Obama's Executive Order bans some -- not all -- US officials from torturing but it does not ban any of them, himself included, from sponsoring torture overseas.

Indeed, his policy change affects only a slight percentage of US-culpable tortures and could be completely consistent with an increase in US-backed torture worldwide.

The catch lies in the fact that since Vietnam, when US forces often tortured directly, the US has mainly seen its torture done for it by proxy -- paying, arming, training and guiding foreigners doing it, but usually being careful to keep Americans at least one discreet step removed.

If our success in South America training extremists and guerillas during the 70s and 80s is any indication, our torture policies will surely be beneficial to us for years to come.

But hey, as long as your head isn't being dunked in water yet, let's play some tunes.



Sunday, January 25, 2009

Corporate cannibalism

I was recently asked to share the 4th picture from the 4th folder in which I keep photographs in. I wasn't all that impressed with the photo, as it is not a particularly good picture:



However, after spending a few minutes with it, I appreciate the symbolism. Here you have one of Coney Island landmarks, the parachute jump, which has been standing in Brooklyn since 1941. The photograph was taken in a moving vehicle, and the parachute jump is about to go "off screen." Meanwhile, you have a large billboard prominently placed in the middle of the picture, advertising Starbucks and Linens N Things. It is representative, in a way, of the current redevelopment of Coney Island that will not be completed until at least 2011, and will basically make Coney Island an outdoor mall.

Manhattan is already losing its charm and personality to mega-stores and chain retailers, so it's no surprise that it's spread to Brooklyn. Bensonhurt's historic buildings are being torn down and replaced with the kind of bland apartment buildings that show the mentality of real estate developers everywhere - replace individuality with efficiency.

Eliminating individuality is the hallmark of all corporations and business interests. Convince people that they can fulfill their desires and interests with the same spinach dip appetizer or the same pair of jeans or the same SUV and every man, woman and child from Nebraska to New York, Kentucky to California, Georgia to Texas will gladly fork over their dollars for the same generic crap sold in identical buildings from sea to shining sea. This takes away the need to cater to specific tastes, to customize for each unique person, to modify based on personal preference. Your personal preference is what is offered to you, end of story. You don't like that, you're shit out of luck.

There is always the illusion of choice, which makes you think you are in control. You can get that purse in three different colors, or buy that jacket with suede instead of fur. You can refashion any part of your new construction house, as long as its offered in the catalog. Want a leather interior in your new car? No sweat, it's available in tan and black. Want red leather? I'm sorry, sir, that's not available with this model, but won't you try our free subscription to Sirius-XM radio? It offers you unlimited choices for radio, presuming you like the options available to you.