Friday, March 31, 2006

Mother Jones and Property Rights

I honestly did not think that I would ever be offering a link to Mother Jones, but this recent piece on intellectual property rights brings up some hilarious and unfortunately, all too real lawsuits.

"Amoung the 16,000 people thus far sued for sharing music files was a 65-year-old woman who, though she didn’t own downloading software, was accused of sharing 2,000 songs, including Trick Daddy’s “I’m a Thug.” She was sued for up to $150,000 per song."

Hilarious, but unfortunate.

More on the moles

Ok, so this is part three in our discussion on conspiracy theories. My buddy has added some insight that I think is important.

“So what you're really rallying against are wacky, unprovable, and downright unlikely claims that dress themselves up as intellectualism / academicality. You mention the myriad of theories surround 9/11, but we could just as easily be talking about the Eugenics movement of the 1920's or the more contemporary "study" of the Martian canals.”

Exactly. I don’t have the data to back this up, but I bet that most of the leading voices to Eugenics were already racists. So it was not a huge leap of faith for them to buy into it. They then had some very scientific sounding goblly-goop with which to ‘back up’ their opinions.

“All I'm saying is that this sort of horseshit isn't limited to ideas that somehow involve worldwide conspiracies -- dressing stupidity up in intelligent clothing has been a mainstay of pop culture since at least the 19th century.”

Also a good point. I don’t know what more to say about this in particular, other than society sure likes to believe in some weird shit. It is much easier to make sense of the world when you believe that there are a few forces of evil working against your forces of good.

“And I don't agree that "no one believes anything they hear or read anymore". I think that most people have subconsciously chosen a few outlets of information to be "reliable", and will pretty much eat of anything that comes out. So, the rich lefties listen to NPR, the corporate types watch CNN, the nut jobs watch Fox, etc. etc. etc. The academics read journals and papers. And for a lot of the information in certain fields of study, it's "same shit, different hole".”

The last point made is on the mark. It is not that folks don’t believe what they hear; it’s that they only believe what they hear from a select source. While I love having numerous media channels that represent divergent points of view, we are missing something when we all stopped reading a common newspaper. In fact, it is not that having different news sources is a bad thing, but we as a people have gotten down right lazy when it comes to interpreting the news. That’s why we have so many talking head Bill O’riley types out there now days. “Oh please O’riley, I don’t understand what I just read in the newspaper, will you no spin it for me?” I enjoy watching those political talk shows, but they do not count as a news source. And it seems more and more folks are developing their entire world view around what some of these losers are saying.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Depression

Depression can be a really terrible thing. I have personally dealt with years of keeping it at bay. Some times I was great, and I would go for months and months without feeling it. Then there were months that turned to years of having that constant weight upon my mind. I have no other way to describe it; it just felt like an endless weight on my back. I think that after years of depression, I am personally pulling myself out of that rut.

I know this is a bit personal for a blog that normally focuses on Indymedia articles. But I think that a few recent events in my personal life bring it to the forefront.

As some of you may know, I work for a non-profit housing organization. It is a great group that has a lot of really wonderful people working for it. It does however, like most workplaces, have a number of problems. The specifics of these problems would bore the hell out of you and it is not really important in the context of this conversation. Anyhow, I had a co worker that joined the staff about the same time I did. A very beautiful girl who had one of those cheery personalities that normally only comes with high dosages of Prozac. She was just a sweet person to be around that was universally liked.

She however, and unknown to most of us, was fighting depression. She has since left our organization to focus on helping herself get out of her pothole. For folks who do not know the distress that depression causes, it may seem a bit extreme to leave a perfectly acceptable job “just because you don’t feel well.” But sorrowfully, I know better.

The other event that helped me address my depression was the death of my uncle. He lived a crazy and wild life, and he died in his late 40s. Far too young on today’s standards, but he really looked old in his last year. I was unfortunately not there at his death bed when he died, but I am thankful I was able to hang out with him only a few months before he died. We had a good time, drank some beers, and just talked about our lives and celebrities we wanted to shag. Straight guy stuff, but something I am so thankful to have had before he died. He was an uncle that was around most of my life, and who was somehow involved with many of my childhood memories. To grow up and see the effect drugs can have on someone was a humbling experience. Here was my cool uncle, broken by addiction, and depression. I thank God everyday for that last fun get-together that I can enshrine in my memory.

These two personal experiences have forced me to one conclusion that was not apparent before hand. Life is hard, that is for sure, but you have a responsibility to yourself, your family, and your people. Perhaps that is not the moral you were expecting, but it is the one I came to.

Depression is terrible, and it is hard to beat. But to wallow in your own self pity is not the path to freedom. It takes days and nights of loneliness and prayer, not too mention reflection, to get out of it. Some folks need a psychiatrist, some need prescription drugs, and others need religion. For me, it was personal faith and the knowledge that if I didn’t change my life, I would end up like my friends and family. If changes are not made inside my head, then I will end up incapacitated, or worse, dead.

It is hardly a lesson for the world; I know that my own prescription is not one that is easily addressed. I do however think that if the demons in your mind are not confronted head on, they will eat you alive. Do not wait for someone to open up happiness for you; it is all in your hands. There are too many wonderful things around to waste by hating life.

More on the Mole Conspiracy....

A buddy of mine recently responded to the post I made about conspiracy theorists. I thought it would be best to explain myself further.

"Sounds like you're ranting against poor rhetoric more than conspiracy theorists per se; if you did come across a far-fetched argument that seemed to be backed up by "facts" (and how do you distinguish these from interpretations?), how eager would you be to find holes in the argument? How much would you want to believe what the person is saying? Unless we're talking about quantifiable problems, IMO everything basically comes down to a point of interpretation."


Calling them poorly worded rhetoric or conspiracy theories is kind of a mute point I think. Conspiracy theories often are often ideological rhetoric (as is the case with most Indymedia stories). However, when folks start publishing works that sound very ‘scholarly,’ but still require leaps of faith to buy into, it cross into academic conspiracy theories. Holocaust denial went this route about 20 years ago, and it still reverberates across the rest of the media. These conspiracy theories are powerful when they start to be used as sources for other nutty articles. Most of us are not going to go and research every foot note than an author uses, and these academic conspiracy theories survive on that. They then do tours around the country speaking to other like minded ideologues. It is unfortunate that our universities have now become hot beds for this type of nonsense.

There is no doubt that conspiracy theories have become the norm in our modern society. No one believes anything they hear or read anymore. That can be a positive thing, if it leads to research and scholarship. But for most of society, it does not. So we end up with conspiracy theorists that become the leading voices of dissent. They know that their ideas can’t be proved right or wrong. I can not ‘prove’ beyond a reasonable doubt that all the Jews who worked in the World Trade Center did not have prior warning about the 9/11 attacks. I know it defies logic, heck a number of Jewish people died in those towers that day, but how can I prove that there was not some Zionist phone network that contacted Jews in the city that day? The conspiracy theorist has a field day with that. And even if I could 'prove' otherwise, I doubt they would accept such research. They then convince a number of folks, ones who already believe in a world wide Zionist network, that there is a reasonable backing for their assumptions.

I hope that Americans will always question the government and the things it tells us. I also hope that Americans will separate the reasonable from the fantastical.

I am sure that a few more posts about this will be in order at one point along the way…

Stupid, stupid, stupid

Well the pro-terrorist folks at Indymedia go out of there way to try and explain America’s close relationship with Israel. Of course, they see it as nothing more than a vast Zionist conspiracy controlling the American government.

The truth is far from it, and is clearly stated by Jeff Jacoby in his recent column.

“But the truth is precisely the reverse. America's loyalty to Israel isn't engineered by a Zionist cabal that dupes American citizens and hijacks their government. US policy tends to align closely with Israel's because Americans *like* Israel. They instinctively sympathize with Israel's fight for survival in one of the world's most dangerous neighborhoods. If public opinion weren't robustly pro-Israel in the first place, the White House and Congress would be far less inclined to give Israel's advocates the time of day. There's a name for that phenomenon. It's called democracy.” – Jeff Jacoby

His whole piece is pretty good, and I recommend taking a look at it.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Clearly, this is the work of mole people

The Bush administration often claims its opponents are thinking in a pre-9/11 mindset. But what if someone is thinking in a reasonless mindset? Well, then you had best attend an upcoming event for conspiracy theorist extraordinaire, David Ray Griffin!

Griffin believes in just about any of the number of conspiracy theories that have been floated about after 9/11. Most of his arguments are challenged here.

But the real issue is why the left has felt the need to hold onto these bizarre conspiracies in the last 30 years? It seems like anyone who has got a ‘hunch’ gets plenty of press within the Indymedia circuit.

The power of any conspiracy theory is that it is not something you can technically ‘dis-prove.’ Here is an example of a conspiracy theorists conversations.

Me- “What proof do you have to back up your theory that there never was a Holocaust, and that it has all been a Zionist conspiracy? It seems like an overwhelming amount of evidence stands opposed to your theory.”

Loony Theorist: “The information that you have received is all a big lie. The US government is obviously controlled by Zionists, so that’s why so many people believe it is the truth.”

Me- “So what you are saying is that all the historians and individuals who actually experienced the holocaust are liars? That all of the pictures, stories, and documents we have about that period is one elaborate fib?”

Loony Theorist: “That is what all my research points to.”

And this conversation could go on all day long without producing anything remotely logical. Sure, the conspiracy theorist can produce some books that really ‘opened his eyes’ to this ‘truth,’ but there is a reason they are not accepted outside of his fringe. It is because they do not back up their theories with real facts. Plan and simple. A conspiracy theory does not need facts, just an ideological assumption.

If you already believe that the US government is somehow responsible for all the problems in the world, it won’t be a huge stretch to believe that it really was capitalist Zionist agents who destroyed the World Trade Center so that we could invade some Arab countries.

One of the most popular American conspiracy theories involves the assassination of JFK. They can get really wild and out there. But the facts support the one gun man conclusion, regardless who what Oliver Stone says. What folks have a hard time grasping is how random and truly simple life can be. It is hard to imagine that the most powerful man in America could so easily be killed by a single nobody. We love to think of the world as a major battle between two powerful forces. Often, it just don’t work that way.

So this post is making less sense then it made in my head last night. I figure I will come back to this topic in a letter thread.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Anarchists for job security

Yes, I know that this is a hoax article, but it was too funny to go un-linked. It has to do with the French strike that is looming.


Enjoy!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Hamas and the Protocols of Zion

Do you have your doubts about the Hamas lead Palestinian authority? Well this little nugget is right from their charter.

"After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying."

Yep, that Protocols of Zion. But that won’t stop Indymedia from writing positive stories about their desire for “peace.”

Support the troops?

An interesting little post I found on Indybay.org. It seems like the only good solider in the eyes of the Indymedia folks is one who murders his fellow GI’s.

“As long as any person continues to function as a "troop" of the United States Armed Forces, they should not be supported. They should be supported when they resist carrying out such functions, such as by desertion, sabotage or mutiny.

The U.S. soldier who most deserves our support is Army Sgt. Hasan Akbar, who is sitting on death row in Leavenworth for his preemptive strike against some tents full of high-ranking officers in Kuwait while those officers were waiting to join the just-begun U.S. invasion of Iraq in March of 2003. He killed two of them (including an Air Force Major) and put about ten more out of commision, at least for a while, perhaps thus saving an undetermined number of Iraqi lives.” – Mrs. Mutiny

A little back ground on Hasan Akbar.

The fact that Hasan has some clear mental problems does not seem to deter a bunch of Indymedia true-believers from making him into their poster boy.

And then they wonder why their ideas are not popular?