In 1951— while in deep introspection to the grotesque horrors of the Holocaust — Theordor Adorno stated that “there can no longer be poetry after Auschwitz” Continue reading “Democracy after Trump”
4 July 2015
Dear America (circa 1786),
Today is your 239th birthday and in all honesty, you don’t look a day over 10. Things here in 2015 for the most part look very similar to the nice bright-eyed childhood you remember. There are still some folks who are all up in arms over taxes being used for a war they don’t support; and there are still some folk’s bent out of shape over not having a voice/vote in Washington (we no longer meet in Phillie). Just as it was in 1776, the United States still pays lower effective tax rates than most industrialized nations and just like 1776, people still think it’s too high. Oh, and guess what….we still have a problem with the 99% versus the 1%- go figure?
We still waffle around the idea of immigration and each new wave of immigrants are alienated and used as a scapegoat for economic and social woes. Same old, same old. Slavery was undone after a civil war about 150 years ago and the product of that was the former slaves were made free. This was followed by about 100 years of explicit and direct racism, and then we had some civil rights movement, which replaced the racism with institutional racism. The perk to this new breed of racism is it’s much easier to ignore, and the drawback is that it’s easier to ignore. We have systematically found a way to use the justice system to incarcerate mass amounts of African Americans and people accept it — slowly cementing the idea that African American = Criminal into the core of American ideology. I mean it is not like we are enslaving them, their shackles are from bad behavior (that we objectively define at whim).
Remember back in 1776 when y’all used religion as a means of promoting the idea of rebelling against England? Encouraged the masses to fall behind a political movement out of obligation to their morality and God- for duty. Inalienable rights? HA! You would not believe it, but people still fall for this shit. And more so, because of that old declaration of Independence and your claims of rights endowed by our creator, they confuse duty to God as being intrinsically aligned to duty to the state. Craziness, I know. Oh, and remember back when Thomas Jefferson came up with the brilliant idea to replace John Locke’s trinity of Life, Liberty and Property in the Declaration of Independence to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness in order to avoid the awkward conversation of having to explain why slaves, as humans alike, were not allowed to own property. Well let me catch you up on that: in 2015 African Americans still own significantly less property, we still dogmatically champion the concept of private property and — if you can believe it — people don’t even try to authentically pursue their own happiness. If this was meant to be some sick joke- I am not amused.
I imagine you must be wondering how we are doing as a country. As a more perfect union and all. Let me brief you on how we compare to our industrialized counterparts:
- We rank towards the bottom in education
- We rank towards the bottom in quality of healthcare.
- We rank towards the bottom in wealth equality
- We rank #1 in calling ourselves #1
- The government passed legislation that has infringed on the 1st, 4th, 5th, 8th and 14th amendments. But apparently we only like to bicker over the 2nd and 1st.
- We have amassed large sums of debt, most of which is to a country that is expected to surpass our economy in 2016…that may be a problem.
- There were two HUGE world wars in the 20th century that lead to 137 million deaths- this makes the 100 million human sacrifices used in the process of colonizing America seem, like, uhm, foreshadowing?
Ok, sorry, that got really dark. Lets move on to a lighter topic.
Just as John Adams wished, we celebrate every July 4th with fireworks and celebrations that stretch from coast to coast- he’d be so proud. Everybody changes their Facebook status, photo and cover photo (I know you have no idea what I am talking about, but just go with it) to something patriotic- American Flags, Bald Eagles and images of Fire Works. I know Ben Franklin was not happy with choosing a bird of prey as our national animal, but ironically, its been quite fitting to our national personality- but I don’t have time to get into foreign policy.
In addition to boasting national propaganda we celebrate your birthday by waving flags (87% of which are made in China), blowing up Fireworks (97% of these are also made in China) and eating processed meats (leading to metabolic syndrome and cancer (this is why we kick ass at poor health, but we are dying for Freedom, so its ok)).
As you take a deep breath and hope I didn’t put 239 trick candles on your cake, I want you to think long and hard about what you wish for. What does the wild-eyed young America wish upon it’s matured self? But remember if you tell me, it won’t come true. I have thought long and hard on what to buy you for your birthday…the country that has everything and all. And I have discovered the one thing you are truly missing. I give you the gift of humility– use it wisely.
I know this letter may come off as cynical or offensive and perhaps my opinions could be framed as unpatriotic to some. But I ensure you that I speak from a place of love. The process of building and maintaining America has been forged in blood and, henceforth, if we want to truly and profoundly honor the sacrifices that have been made we should hold our nation accountable for its faults and demand the perpetual pursuance of discovering the essence of human freedom.
P.S. If this has made you sad, then remember you can always relish in another Fourth of July tradition- you can get DRUNK! And to my dismay, we do not lead the world in alcohol consumption- Europe has us beat by a long shot. However, we kick their ass in alcohol related incarcerations.
1. Half-dozen or so random web searches and Wikipedia
2. Blind faith that one day We Shall Overcome
Note: this blog was revised from a post published on 7/4/14
I recently read an article about the how Virgin Atlantic is going to start offering unlimited vacations to their employees. Following the trend started by Netflix and many other high tech companies. This seems like a pretty good deal— on the surface. Continue reading “The Long Con”
For some time now Erectile Dysfunction has become the butt of jokes in pop culture, and for many men between the ages of 40-65, quite an embarrassing problem. The rise in this problem in the last couple decades could be the product of more reporting than prior, as now men may be at ease with discussing this problem with their doctor, or perhaps its just on the rise. This problem is not terribly new, as in 17th century France a wife could be granted a divorce if her husband was not able to perform, and in fact, there was a court and a whole legal process for collecting data of said poor performance. This odd practice was short lived in France and incidents of this were on the fringe, but nonetheless, this problem is not completely new.
In exploring some reasons why this new problem is popping up in modern culture, we should start with exploring what are the known causes of this issue:
If you look up the causes of Erectile Dysfunction you will find the following, labeled as physical causes:
- Heart disease (stress can cause this)
- Clogged Heart Vessels (stress can exasperate this)
- High cholesterol (stress can cause this)
- High blood pressure (stress can cause this)
- Diabetes (there are studies linking this to stress)
- Metabolic syndrome (stress can cause this)
- Low testosterone (stress can cause this)
- Tobacco use (this suppresses your ability to decrease the impact of stress)
- Alcoholism (this suppresses your ability to decrease the impact of stress)
- Parkinson’s disease (there are studies linking stress as a trigger for Parkinson’s)
- Multiple sclerosis (they used to think there was a link to stress, but now thats being called into question)
- Various medications, treatments, surgeries and rare disease (all rare causes)
Additionally, you will find the following causes labeled under psychological causes:
- And stress from stressful life events (not sure how that differs from stress)
You could look at these 15 different possible causes and see 15 different possible causes, or you could see what I see and find it rather odd that the causes of ED happens to be all the same symptoms of stress, and more so, chronic stress. Maybe the list of causes should read simply:
- And on rare occasion you can get it from some medications, surgeries and rare diseases.
In our modern mecca of Go Go Go, it’s not a stretch of the imagination to assert that we would have a rise in symptoms that are the product of stress and chronic stress. In a closer examination of why and how our bodies deal with stress we will discover the following process. When the body is under stress, the body goes into Fight/Flight mode and the sympathetic nervous system begins to operate, which suppresses the parasympathetic nervous system— the rest/digest system. Our fight/flight mode was designed to allow us, in essence, to fight or flight when we are in a high stress situation. This includes increasing blood pressure and heart rate and the release of adrenaline from our adrenal gland. In other words, it transforms us to beasts ready to kick ass, or run like hell.
In modern day culture we may not experience beastly animals attacking us on a regular basis, but we face other daily stressors— the stress of child rearing, bills, job, traffic, school, social relationships, family, death, tragic life events and even day-to-day things like what’s for dinner. So even though we are not under attack by predators, without adequate coping skills, self-care and a positive world view, it is possible, in fact it is very possible, to be chronically overcome by stress to the point where stress is so persistent that your body never has time to recover. Usually exhibited symptomatically as chronic headaches, fatigue and higher likelihood of illness (from a suppressed innate immune system)— as well as many other symptoms, like the ones listed above.
But, remember, this essay is about the penis. So if you were being attacked by a bear and forced into fight/flight mode, I can tell you one thing for sure— that is not sexy-time! In fact, while your sympathetic nervous system is in charge of your body, all blood flow to your penis is suppressed, because your body knows that your current situation is not the right time to be romantic and starting putting on the moves.
So if you look at this in the context of stress in modern society and the rise of ED, you can think of it this way: Our lifestyles are so stressful and so damaging to our bodies, that a rising problem in our society is peoples bodies are actually deciding that the external stressors are so high that the body considers the environment too hostile to bring children into and it responds with a useless and flaccid penis. And what is essentially a byproduct of capitalism, we try to fix with capital ventures.
Welcome to America.
A lifetime ago or so I was a film student Continue reading “Can Happy Movies Lead to Violence?”
When you see the militant-like images of Ferguson Missouri and think to yourself that they could easily be images from a distant war— well, you are right, and to be blunt— welcome to modern America.
Dear Rush Limbaugh,
Between 1939 and 1944 Franklin D. Roosevelt received stacks of letters from Jewish refugees pleading to open up the US border to Jews displaced by the rise of the Nazi party. The majority of these letters were rejected, as it was not US policy to accept refugee’s, especially after the economic collapse of the great depression. Albert Einstein wrote a letter in 1941 pleading to Eleanor Roosevelt to “…bring the matter to the attention of your heavily burden husband…” -this letter was rejected. And the letter written by Vanessa Fica in 1939 asking for the US to take on the 669 displaced Czech Jewish refugees:
“Is it possible for anything to be done to help with this problem in America? It is hard to state our case forcibly in a letter, but we trust to your imagination to realize how disparately urgent the situation is” 
She was also rejected by the FDR administration, although her letter was intercepted by an altruistic stockbroker in London, by the name of Sir Nichols Winton and he eventually saved all 669 refugees. Another letter was written in 1941 by an organization that was trying to get displaced children out of Nazi occupied areas and this letter was read by Eleanor to FDR over the phone while he was on vacation, as she felt that hearing the appeal in her voice may motivate him to act. He did not- the request was rejected.
With a challenging war in the Pacific, FDR signed executive order 9066 in 1942 to allow Japanese-Americans to leave the internment camps if they wanted to join the US military. This order was signed for two reasons: A) it was thought that sending Japanese-American soldiers to fight against Japan would be a blow to the morale of the Japanese military and B) to help dismiss the perception that the United States was racist and guilty of acts born in the same vein of the atrocities of human depravity that were occurring in Europe. The 442nd infantry regiment, which was comprised of mostly Japanese-Americans who volunteered from internment camps to fight, is, to this day, still the most decorated American infantry unit in the history of the US military.
The United States is currently in a state of war against Hamas, yes the United States is at war. The United States is supplying weapons, cash and intelligence data to Israel– we are not merely sympathizers, but an ally in war (you do not have to supply troops to be in war). When you hear about an attack of a UN school by the Israeli army, note that this precision attack was courtesy of US intelligence data, provided at gratis by American tax dollars. These attacks are a “criminal act” and the “madness must stop” says the UN secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The UN recently voted to investigate Israel for breaking international law for their acts in the Gaza Strip and only one country voted against the investigation, yes, yours truly- the United States. Why would we vote against investigations of war crimes? It’s not like we have a pony in the race or anything.
But of course this is nothing like World War 2, right? On August 2nd 2014, Moshe Feiglin, the deputy speaker of the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) wrote a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu asking to define the task of the military as: conquer the Gaza Strip and annihilate the opposing military and all their supporters; then all Palestinian civilians shall be removed and “concentrated” in “encampments” near the Sinai border and forced to exile, unless they are willing to “publicly sign a declaration of loyalty to Israel”; then the remains of the formerly populated area of Gaza shall be “shelled” and completely “destroyed entirely, down to their foundation.” And all this, according to Feiglin, will be done “with God’s Help”. 
The FOX news pro-American narrative propaganda machine will argue over and over that we (meaning America & Israel) are fighting terrorists and people using women and children as human shields. First off, there is actually no evidence of children being used as human shields- this claim is speculative and conjecture. Second, terrorism is an abstract term and in modern political vernacular it is really just a term that defines an enemy of the state, but a term that is meant to dehumanize and make the enemy seem as objectively evil, insinuating that siding with a terrorist makes you evil by association. But please note, as Russel Brand poignantly stated, by these definitions of Terrorist both Gandhi and Nelson Mandela would have been considered terrorists today. There is no such thing as objective evil.
Why does all this matter now? There have been 21 different genocides attempt since World War 2, illustrating that, generally speaking, we learn nothing from history. I might as well stick my fingers in my ears, order a Starbucks coffee and passively dismiss the idea that America is Passively Contributing to a Genocide Attempt, yet again. Because who really cares anyway- whatever gets me cheaper gas is fine by me.
Moving on to other news, it seems as though the Tea Party wants to impeach Obama if he signs an executive order that grants amnesty to refugee children, but that may not matter, because it’s also impeachable for him to win a Nobel Prize because, as we all know, altruism is not an American value.
 Takaki, Ronald T.. A different mirror: a history of multicultural America. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1993. Print.
 Takaki, Ronald T.. A different mirror: a history of multicultural America. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1993. Print.
 Rand, Ayn, and Nathaniel Branden. The virtue of selfishness. New York: New American Library, 19651964. Print.