Originally posted October 19th, 2014
By Michael Konik
Isn’t it hilarious how those crazy Islamic terrorists brainwash young recruits, transforming them from disillusioned urchins with no hope of bettering their miserable life into heartless suicide bombers doing “God’s work”? The boys are promised martyrdom and dozens of virgin lovers waiting for them in the hereafter. By killing as many of the enemy as possible when they explode, the pitifully bamboozled jihadis believe that they’re leaving this world better than they found it.
Ridiculous isn’t it?
Conversely, it’s not ridiculous at all to tell similar stories to our brave boys in uniform. The bad guys are dishonorable. Our good guys are honorable – and it’s an unmatched honor to serve your country, whether it costs a leg or a life. You can’t call it brainwashing or propaganda when what you’re feeding your youngsters is the unvarnished truth. That’s why most of us can say we “support the troops” with . . . → Read More: Deluded Warriors
Originally posted October 13th, 2014
By Michael Konik
Originally released in 2002, Adam Curtis’s “Century of the Self” was a four-part series on the BBC that examined how Sigmund Freud’s theories of human psychology have been employed (and refined) by the rich and powerful to control the dangerous impulses of the masses. Much of this dazzlingly entertaining yarn focuses on Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays, the “father of public relations” and one of the earliest political consultants to apply advertising principles to elections and governance. Anna Freud, Wilhelm Reich, and other titans of 20th Century mind-manipulators make cameos. Throughout, Curtis makes a convincing case that our current state of hyper-narcissism and egocentrism is anything but an accident.
Originally posted September 14th, 2014
By Michael Konik
The Enemy Who Hates Our Freedoms has gotten unruly, crossing borders dreamed up by imperial empires. Impudent weeds with AK-47s and machetes impertinently raise their masked heads, taunting, braying, slashing American throats and luring the big bad bully into yet another unwinnable war. It’s time to mow the grass. Here we go. Again.
It’s been 13 years since the Bad Guys got our attention and, barely trying, won the War on Terror. They left us terrified and flummoxed and hysterical, perfectly prepared to plunder our treasury in exchange for the delusional belief that we would be more secure, that somehow – and this would all work itself out, we were assured – our drones and bombs and torture camps would eliminate the threat, not increase it.
Well, reader, you and your neighbors have spent trillions to feel better. You and your precious children are altogether safer today than ever before, . . . → Read More: We Don’t Negotiate With Terrorists
Originally posted August 29th, 2014
By Michael Konik
As we make final preparations for the most solemn American holiday, Labor Day, our mind turns to ways that we, and perhaps all of us, can make Monday’s national celebration of workers into a perfect expression of how we all really feel about laborers.
Another less exalted way of honoring those of us who actually work is to take a small slice of time out of our vacation – thirty minutes maybe? – to ask ourselves a simple question: Why do I believe what I believe?
Do you know what legislators do? Besides collect bribes disguised as “donations”? They make laws! We need each and every one of these laws, because they help all of us behave better. Without these laws, we’d all revert to our natural instincts and behave very badly toward everyone but ourselves. Thankfully, when we feel like behaving badly toward ourselves, there are other laws in place to discourage us. Laws, you see, are what civilize us. They distinguish us from the other great apes, who aren’t familiar with concepts like “justice,” “regulation,” and “economic warfare.”
Since we can’t all make the laws – that would be confusing! — each of us is lucky to be represented by professional lawmakers, probably more of them than most of us realize. These learned and exceptionally intelligent individuals, whose main job is to express the will of the folks . . . → Read More: There Oughta Be a Law!
Look, we’re not qualified to discuss the scientific data on the sun. We don’t have that kind of education. That’s for specialists to debate among themselves. All we know is that there’s a strong case for the sun being the “center” of our galaxy and an equally strong case for us, Earth, being the “center” of the galaxy. Obviously, it’s all very complicated. Rushing to final judgment on this issue would be a mistake.
And why does it even have to be an issue? Can’t we all just agree to disagree? Respect everyone’s point of view, even if it’s not outlined in the Bible?
It’s not like we’re claiming the sun isn’t the center of our galaxy. We’re just saying there’s some very strong data out there that makes you wonder…and isn’t skepticism one of the lynchpins of scientific inquiry?
Originally posted April 6th, 2014
By Michael Konik
In the spirit of light-hearted playfulness of April Fools Day, the Los Angeles Times tried to pull one over on their (dwindling) readership. But the cleverest among us realized their ruse, and instead of feeling perplexed and outraged we enjoyed a hearty chuckle. All in good fun!
The April 1, 2014 edition’s lead editorial, on page A10, was headlined “Climate change here and now.” The sub-head said: “Crop yields are down, deaths from heat are up. A U.N. panel’s report should be a call to action.” The editorial encapsulated the report’s most alarming warnings – impending disruption of the world’s food supply; dying oceans; droughts – and concluded that, in a rational world, the report would be more than enough to propel world leaders into action.
The final sentence: “We [should] discuss how quickly we can reduce [climate change’s] severity by cutting greenhouse gas emissions and which . . . → Read More: We’re No (April) Fools
Originally posted March 2nd, 2014
By Michael Konik
Straight from the Department of Cruel Irony – actually, the State Department of the United States – our government’s annual report on worldwide human rights is now available to the public.
The 2013 edition graphically outlines all the terrible stuff that’s going on around the globe, a catalogue of affronts to human kindness and decency. Unilaterally murdering American citizens (not to mention civilians of numerous nationalities) with CIA drones, and thereby obliterating the increasingly archaic concept of “due process, is nowhere mentioned. But there’s plenty of other nauseating stuff.
Anti-gay legislation, some with potential death penalties, in 80 countries. Russian and Chinese outrages against civil liberties. And, of course, the ongoing disrespect for life and dignity on display in Syria.
The report also details horrendous human rights abuses in place like Turkey, Qatar and Egypt. Our allies. Our “friends” in the region. These repressive regimes are the . . . → Read More: The Human Rights Litmus Test
Originally posted February 16th, 2014
By Michael Konik
The comedian Pete Holmes used to do a bit about how Facebook was actually a giant government conspiracy to get us to give up our privacy rights. Three years ago, it seemed funny.
That a shockingly large percentage of Americans believe Edward Snowden ought to be tried for high crimes – treason is the offense of choice – instead of lauded as an activist making all of us wiser suggests that Pete’s joke might in fact be the truth.
As Lawrence Wright recently reported in The New Yorker, the CIA knew Al Qaeda was in the USA two years before 9/11. None of the sixty or more people at the Agency who knew about the operatives cooperated with colleagues at the FBI. (Many of these folks were subsequently promoted for reasons that remain unclear.) Edward Snowden broke the law, and war-mongers like California’s grouchy . . . → Read More: Privacy Shmrivacy
Casinos depressed Douglas Bishop. Disinclined to mathematics, he didn’t understand any of the games, and the haze of cigarette smoke triggered his tendency toward hypochondria.
If it were up to him, they never would have stopped in Tunica. He and Lenny would have driven straight through from Memphis to New Orleans, where Doug was keen on meeting Amandalou Breaux, the Voodoo Princess of Storyville, queen of the notorious red-light district. (He also wanted to see…
Originally released in 2002, Adam Curtis’s “Century of the Self” was a four-part series on the BBC that examined how Sigmund Freud’s theories of human psychology have been employed (and refined) by the rich and powerful to control the dangerous impulses of the masses. Much of this dazzlingly entertaining yarn…
On a recent trip to Madagascar in search of wildlife in its natural habitat, we visited the magnificent Andasibe National Park, where a dozen species of lemur monkeys found nowhere else in the world make their home in the forest canopy. Viewing sifaka (“dancing lemurs”) normally seen only in captivity…
The Enemy Who Hates Our Freedoms has gotten unruly, crossing borders dreamed up by imperial empires. Impudent weeds with AK-47s and machetes impertinently raise their masked heads, taunting, braying, slashing American throats and luring the big bad bully into yet another unwinnable war. It’s time to mow the grass. Here…
This year the United States economy recovered all of the jobs lost during the great Wall Street Recession.
But here’s the even better news: The newly created jobs pay an average of 23% less than the ones lost in the “downsizing.” According to a report issued by the United States…
Originally released in 2002, Adam Curtis’s “Century of the Self” was a four-part series on the BBC that examined how Sigmund Freud’s theories of human psychology have been employed (and refined) by the rich and powerful to control the dangerous impulses of the masses. Much of this dazzlingly entertaining yarn focuses on Freud’s nephew Edward [...]