Tuesday, August 26, 2008


One might tell Alexander, Patton, Sunzi, and the CIA, Mcdonald's conquers too. They conquer by enticing people, meeting their needs and shaping their needs through propaganda/marketing.

The phenomena of a fast food company achieving such global eminence is not at all extraordinary, but one might compare it to the East India trading company or the merchants of the dutch empire. Domination is still tied in with nationalism and military power, but today, everywhere, those in power are ever more in the thrall of public opinion.

Very few rulers can claim divine right or succession. Everyone, especially the dictators and butcherers claim the betterment of the people, the racial, national or social interest. (the big exception is in sharia based countries)

The present trend of the world, or one trend, is to attain power based on the will of the people. Here in Red Communist China, the government also placates the public through fear and impressing everyone with their mighty economic achievemnts and glorious spectacles, like the the three gorges dam and the olympics.

We can say that the state of freedom, in asia, europe, america and south america, is all jacked up because there is no real democracy and people are still dominated inevitably by the twin tyrannies of state and market.

Bakunin said, long ago, that though Europe was progressing to an era of republics instead of monarchies, the people would be no less enslaved, for they would now be children guided along by the enlightened supervision of our parliamentarian leaders. If we replace the 'republics' with the modern usage 'democracies' we can see the relevance.

Most people in democracies and people considering democracies see government as a sstem of management, like a company you hire to take care of your landscaping.

This is not the exclusive content of the term as it is thought of now. There is still sufficient admixture of the nasty ideas of the government as an extension of the nation, but these are preexisting notions. What is new is the idea of government as manager, without any justification superseding it's responsibility of carrying out the betterment and protection of the people.

Justification of rule through the doctrine of will of the people is not too far the good of the commonwealth. The doctrine of the kin's sovereignty being necessary for the good of the realm or commonwealth was key in undermining the kings dvine right and divine succession.

Just as the good of the people superseded the divine status of kingship, so too might the management of the nation supersede the will of the people, and the will of the people supersede the management of the nation.

Contrasting countries like America, China, Burma, the case can be made for efficient management versus explicit democracy. Most people, at the current stage of historical development, can be satisfied with an adequate income, a chance for progression of social status, a chance to better their kids, and a chance watch tv and get online

Any dictator could get a long way on this basis. The problem is that most dictators cant do this, because to make a lot of people work together, you need at least the illusion of consent.

Now that we exist in a attitude that emphasizes the role of the state as manager on behalf of the people, adn expression of the will of the people, we can perhaps see that progress has been made in many countries.

For China, the end of the Qing Dynasty could have brought about a democratic, rule of law society, or a succession of petty militaristic dictatorships. Now we have a party dictatorship that has tried to use stability and economic growth to placate the masses. And, to a great extent its working. But the point is that they base their will on deomocracy, appeal to the masses, not the landed class, no the wealthy, but the popular sentiment and the common people.

This is unprecedented in Chinese History. Instead of complaining of the fact that real freedom has not arrived here, we should not the significance of the fact that now we have entered a period where democracy is the standard.

Mcdonalds depends on placating and manipulating its masses, so do the governments of most advanced nations.

For those of us enamored of a non-authoritarian future, where we can run things without starvation, coercion, acontextual authority, and mistrust, we might see this as a potentially positive change.

In the argument for greater cooperation and consent based interaction, the will of the people is much better point from which to start to justify anarchism than the spirit of the nation or the divine right of kings as granted by Adam.

Slippery slope arguments are not logically compelling, not because they are impossible, but because they are not inevitable.

Using pot is not likely to lead to other drugs. I haven't seen it do that to many people.

But, if you wanted a slippery slope, if you were trying to get someone hooked on heroin, than you might try a lot of things, and getting them high might be a good start.

So too if you want to make a fascist state, you might scare people with terrorism and then keep things getting freakier and freakier. But, this might also make people more interested in diplomacy and protecting freedom, and it might make them dislike your anti terrorist agenda.

But, if we want to promote freedom, we can point to the effectiveness in corporations and governments that have tailored their pitch to the masses and not just to some abstract authority (god race) and argue that this shows a greater expansions of the doctrine of consent.
If we see this as an historical trend, it may be a good sign.


So often visions of heaven, or technological marvels envisioned by scifi, are just extensions of existing human properties into a larger function. Like, telepathy, peace, AI, immortality, teleportation and instant matter generators.

But what doe this really do to change who we are? It just gives us greater fulfillment of our passions and desires.

An interesting question is how do we assess the choice to do away with these values or desires from a perspective that assumes them? How do we do away with love, like altering a brain's production of neurotransmitter.

An easier decision is the decision to tinker with our minds and bodies to accentuate certain values over others, like alter our aggressive behavior so that we no longer attain such a disproportionate pleasure from joint male aggression against other males. This is an easy decision insofar as it favors values we already have and just lets some values win out against others.

What if we decided to change our brains, so that they cared not about sex, not about social interaction, not about learning, not about violence, but only about something weird like maximizing the ant population. How would we then decide from that point to alter our brains back to the original state or to alter it in still other ways.

Maybe Christians should pay more attention to neuroscience and research regarding neurotransmitter behavior. That way they can get started on making the perfect christian mind, and even better,the mind of the Christian in heaven. Th could make similar minds for animals, so a lion and lamb can lay together, and carnivores never kill.

Even better would be artificial insemination and taking the lust function of the brain, replacing it with an ecstatic sens of worship.


Plant cells seem better at making houses than animal cells. Especially wood.

Picture a oval tree surrounded by a transparent or partially transparent outer oval. The outer oval is made of some sort of plastic polymer and maybe blocks out certain radiation, maybe has solar power cells. The inner oval of the tree encloses a living space for humans. On the outside of the tree, leaves and flowers blossom, on the inside, the root system is fed with nutrients, each root is held in a tube where the appropriate nutrients are fed to it.

This particular tree we have engineered into a spaceship is a fruit bearing tree. The sugar it produces can be synthesized into all manner of foods, through processes that imitate cow or other herbivore digestion (Hopefully in machines and not biological semi-machines, semi-organs)

Other nutrients can be obtained from photosynthetic, electron capturing processes. (the attainment of vitamins and minerals is the weak part here)

Anyways, there might be something about plant cells that make them a good self sustaining building material. There is the problem of density of cells, but i think the basic is useful as a thought experiment. In plant cells, we have an energy producing, self-healing building material.

Tear a leaf up and the cells are still intact, eat a leaf and you expel it with the cells intact (or so I've heard) then imagine if you had all the daily shows, ttc lectures, and pron you've downloaded through bit torrent saved on a leaf.

If the if the constituents of the plant cell could be altered in some slight way so as to form a combinatorial system (binary, trinary, so on.) than we could save 'bits' into plant cells, into the cell walls.

So, get to work on that. I want to give my wife a trip to the moon. I know she'll wine at first, and say, why the hell do i care about that boring shit, but once we escape the atmosphere, she'll be in awe.


Imagine if you were a Chinese or Asian looking person going to teach a bunch of kids that had never met an Asian looking person. And when they saw you, they said "Hey Meestah Ching Chona sayonara, why's a you no bring a the chop suey?" and then, you asked them in perfect English "What are you supposed to be imitating?" and they said "Oh this is how you guys talk. I learned it from listening to you all."

That's kind of like what I've been experiencing in the last two or three months. I'm a white American teaching English in Shanghai

Imagine again for me, if you would, that instead of being an Asian looking guy, you're a black guy teaching Hispanic and white kids who don't know any blacks or Asians. Then you say "Why are you guys mocking me in some other groups stereotypical accent? Don't you watch t.v.? Can't you say something like "Damn dawg, I ain't fonna trip on dat shit y'all."

And the kids answer back "This is how you talk. We learned it from listening to you." And no matter who you ask, everyone says something along the lines of "We learned it from you." It's like some creepy phrase from the Twilight Zone that the little girl doll keeps repeating as the out of work salesman goes crazy in his house. "We learned it from you. We learned it from you."

That's closer to what I'm experiencing. But it's not just mockery. Some Chinese, around here, seem to have mysteriously developed a stereotypical 'foreigner' accent based on an ethnicity which is supposed to be Chinese.

That ethnicity is Uyghur. I admit that I made fun of Uyghurs, and mimicked the stereotypical accent, like 我没有偷东西。

But, then, a couple months ago, I finished a class at the Pudong campus and i went into the little break/testing area to get my stuff. I saw a tall Han guy standing in the little path from the break/testing area to the door. He asked me where I'm from and we started into the basic meet a foreigner who speaks Chinese conversation: How long you been studying? Where you From? Chinese is hard to learn, right? Do you eat Chinese food?

But the thing that made me nervous this time was that the guy had a very strong Uyghur accent.

Now, you never see a Uyghur in a regular place in China. I mean, I assume that's true for everywhere but Xinjiang. You usually only see them in a Uyghur restaraunt, selling kababs, selling hash, or walking around in packs picking pockets. I live near a mosque, on Yuanshen road, and you also see Uyghurs around for Friday prayers.

So, I was thinking that this Han looking Uyghur had come in to our little campus to talk to me. Maybe he was breaking through the cultural barrier and trying to act like a regular person, like a Han.

Or maybe he was playing a new angle on stealing shit, maybe now Uyghur thiefs were gonna start dressing up like regular Han middle class and going into offices and training centers to steal stuff.

I was thinking I should be open and not just nervous about this guy. If he was reaching out, trying to show he was a person too and not just a member of the underclass in the Han hegemony. Or maybe he was here to tell me, a foreigner, of political injustices in Xinjiang, or human rights violations here in Shanghai.

But he did look Han. So after he left I asked the receptionists and other Chinese co-workers if a Uyghur had just come in. They said no.

I realized that the guy who had just been speaking Mandarin to me in that stereotypical Uyghur accent.

Now, there are of course, Han people in Xinjiang and the surrounding areas. The accent they have when speaking their dialects or when speaking Mandarin is not the same. The accent of the Uyghur's speaking Mandarin comes from their own also called Uyghur.

Later on, a friend of my wife, a Shanghainese girl, started speaking Mandarin to me with this accent.

My wife told me it was her friend's attempt at imitating a foreign accent.

Now, as for imitating the accent of an American or a Brit, all you gotta do is imitate like you would normally do in whatever your first language is, but speak Mandarin instead.

I can do this with my own Accent. I can hear it sometimes. And I can use a very pronounced, emphatic accent of Mandarin to sound like a student.

This Uyghur accent does not sound like an American one at all. the only thing it has in common is the absence of tone variation, a trait shared by the majority of languages with English.

But you can hear people's accent in Mandarin just like every other language. I can imitate a Shanghai accent, Bejing accent, Cantonese accent and Hanzhong accent when speaking Mandarin. There are worlds of subtle differents between different accents.

So, the mystery is how this Uyghur accent became the dominant stereotypical accent of the foreigner speaking Mandarin. Has it been like this before and I just somehow didn't notice? Is it only in Shanghai or spread throughout China? Where did it start? How flawless does one's Mandarin pronunciation have to be before one is immune from mockery? How do you get over the embarrassment of having dinner with friends who think its cool or polite to speak Mandarin to you with a Uyghur accent?


What is distasteful about 'variant spelling' as referred to in this spiked article is that it seems a lowering of standards. It seems as if teachers want to tell there students "That's okay, close enough. I wouldn't wanted to overload your delicate little brain with any of the standardized combinations of these twenty-six letters."

In reading about this sort of dumbing down kind of educational attitude, I experience a reflexive bit of contempt and disgust. I don't like the idea that certain things are just too hard for little children to learn. Everybody learns at different rates. Outside of our former education, we all experience varying degrees and methods of learning or accepting new ideas.

But, I think there is another, more progressive way of looking at 'variant spelling.' As science, history, and our experience seems to tell that any given language is merely a system developing from many different factors which are hard to isolate as either proper or improper. Rather, it seems that, in alphabetic languages where the letters have multiple readings, any particular spelling of a word where other spellings are possible is 'arbitrary' , in the exact sense that there is no necessity of arrangement implied by the logic of the thoughts represented by the letters or by the needs of use.

Insofar as all human languages are produced by the same mechanism (the brain) and there is no exclusivity as to which set of brains can produce which language, it is far more accurate to give children a language education that teaches children that they speak one version of one type of language and that it is largely symmetric with all other languages in terms of its general features.

Teaching children to think this way would erase the risks of fixed versus unfixed spelling. It would teach them to take a less fixed view of their own language and see it merely as a link in a sea of chains.

This kind of teaching, teaching towards linguistic actuality, would lead to a greater comfort and openness to learning foreign languages, a decrease in language prejudice (like that towards foreigners, occupants of other regions and classes)

It would also produce a greater linguistic awareness, which would allow for more creativeness.

Further, the absence of rote memorization of fixed standards might break down barriers of boredom and opposition to literature and foreign languages that dissuade many learners.

But, you know what, as I write this, the most appealing benefit would be the removal of the impetus to the rebellious spelling that mars so many rap and rock albums, bumper stickers, and vapid t shirts.

Can you imagine if you never again had to see some new album that had an added feature of coolness because it was called "ultamet badazz" instead of "ultimate badass'

Or, more respectably utile, imagine that your children, instead of learning the rules of language that were said to be 'proper' but actually just a snapshot of the sea of human language, seeking to impose a drop of water in it's ever diverse, fluid dynamic, learned that the way she and her parents talk is just a drop in the bucket and that all the humans speaking differently had the a similar brain to her and could speak and write just like her under the write conditions.

What if instead of learning 'proper English', they learned about the set of rules governing language and how those rules applied to the one they happen to speak?

The current view of language taught to children is far behind the modern understanding of language. Children should be taught that language is just a system of written and voiced representations amid a million other such systems, none of which are arguable better or worse than any other.

"Variant spelling" should be taught as part of a language curriculum which teaches children the realities of language at an early age, before the disgusting yet enduring opinions on language that infect all of our cultures and minds has a chance to take hold of their little heads.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


The second, reasonable, coming

Last week, Jesus just got tottally fed up with everybody not believing in him, especially me. I was like the most non-believer of anybody. I had super non-belief power. I could disbelieve anything, like I could just be all, like, “Hey best friend, I do not believe you really like me.” or “I don't think I'm not myself”

So, Jesus, was all thinking, “In the war on disbelief, this guy's ground zero, numero uno!”

So he descended, arms at his side, robe/dress outfit not riding up despite the wind resistance.

When he landed in front of me, I was in the act of disbelieving my own Momma. She was trying to tell me that if I didn't get rid of the cat, the fecal matter around the catbox would endanger my health. Didn't even faze me.

But then I was all like “Aw damn, finally I'm getting the recognition I deserve!” See, I'm a pretty remarkable person, but often times I don't get my props like what I was guaranteed by my basic rights.

So Jesus looks at me and he's all “I heardeth you do not believe in me. What do you have to say for yourself.” I was taken aback by his eloquence of speech. And I was delayed in the cool answer that I momentarily later gave to him: “Well, you know what I heardeth? I heardeth that you hath not given reason to me to believeth.”

Jesus stroked his goatee and chewed over my sentiments for a moment. Then, he was like “Fair enough, I'm willing to listen to you.”

I didn't see that coming, so I just let him have it. I was all “First, even if I see you here all magical, that doesn't mean that you are the same dude from the bible. And, even if you are the dude from the bible, how do I know you are still the same dude from the bible.”

Jesus shook his head. “It ought to be perfectly clear to honest people that I made the bible books all confusing to you because I wanted to see how loyal you were gonna be. And now that you see me, all you gotta do is believe in me, don't get it all twisted up.”

Well played, and, moreover, played with utter smoothity. But, in all and complete honesty, I have seen better. “If I simply believe in you, like, that there's a dude who flew down here right now and he says he's Jesus, I can believe that, but, if you're telling me I gotta believe, based on seeing you drop in her, that you are the dude from the bible, and that you all implicated in all this tripartate god stuff and you're mom didn't bone anybody to have you and all that, then theres a lot of separate stuff I gotta believe one by one.”

As I was talking, Jesus was flapping his hands all about like he didn't want to hear anything else I had to say. He's all “I can just make you believe.” Then he waved his right hand slowly across my eyes and the I saw a brilliant, yet dazzling and luminous burst of light. It left me stunned and suddenly I believed in Jesus. But then, I was all like, hey, just a minute ago, I didn't believe in Jesus, now I do. He must have did some kind of mutant power thing on me.

I was all, totally “Brenda said she loved me, but then she said she only thought she loved me and I even picked her up from work, like seven times, and she works in freakin Compton. So, just cause you tricked me into believing you, doesn't mean that I even know what I am believing.”

I could see the look on his face as he realized he was losing the struggle for dominance. “So, I'm just gonna go ahead and not believe in my own belief that you are the Jesus from the Bible.”

Then he just totally lost and went all hardcore Job-style on me.

As I lay on the ground with pimples and open sores all up on my junk, I noticed something suspicious. Off to the side, behind Jesus, was another guy with a goatee. He was sitting on a stool, with one leg crossed over the other. It was Satan himself! This really was like the Job thing.

I told him if he was doing this all cause of the devil and he was just like “Maybe. So.”

Then, even though I sounded like a frog because my throat was stinging and dried up, I was all “There's one thing I believe, is that you're getting fooled by the Devil himself!”

He shook his head “You don't know shit, man. You don't know what it's like.”

But I was just, “No, that's where you're wrong. I had abuse issues with methamphetamines for ten years, trust me, bro, I know what it's like when all your friends are telling you to do shit and it's all you know and you just cant resist or you'll feel like a pussy.”

Suddenly, the truthiness of what I was putting down was picked up by the Jesus. With a mighty roar he then smote the Devil and put him back in Hell.

He magically healed all the Job-style wounds on my body and nether regions and then took me out for cheesecake. We said we'd stay in touch, but, you know, like, people always say that shit.

At least now, even though I still don't believe all the stuff people say about Jesus. I know he has powers. And, I know he has peer pressure, just like you. And just like me.

Amen. Peace out.