The Cobain Case

These last few years have been quite the roller coaster, intellectually. Not something I haven’t said before. But it nicely applies here, since this intellectual growth has come to touch on pretty much every single thing that I have ever taken for granted, and then some. Calling it growth is not really correct either since it was less learning something new than it was a process of training myself to better analyze information in general. Both in terms of new information, AND what already resides in the mind (at least when prompted). Many are able to master the former, but the latter is often a challenge. Certainly so for me, but definitely so for about 99% of the naysayers on almost any topic that I touch on anywhere.

This post centers on the and then some category of the contents of my mind. A topic that has been kicking around the back of my brain undisturbed for many years, only to be yanked back to the forefront of my conscience by a tweet. Interestingly, a tweet that was unrelated to the topic itself.

Though my relationship to the Cobain saga goes back many years, my relationship to the life story of Kurt Cobain goes back even further. Being a tail end millennial, I wasn’t old enough to be paying much heed to anything back in 1994, let alone for the duration of his career. I came to his story and his music the way most (all?) millennials did . . . though popular culture as heavily influenced by the world wide web.

Likely due to a combination of living on through continued radio play and vast availability though now defunct P2P protocols, Nirvana had just as many fans in the following generation (possibly generations) as they did in their prime. I was very much one of them, loving me some mainstream hits much like many others. The band (or more accurately, Kurt Cobain himself) grew more and more interesting after I found out about his fate. Suicide.
It’s getting harder to describe, being this far out from that time of life. But what comes to mind are both morbid fascination, and a degree of jealousy. At this time of life, I didn’t really see any future for myself. But despite this, I was still too weak to actually follow through with bringing to reality what I viewed as my destiny. Given this sentiment, people like Cobain become very fascinating. Particularly pop cultures so-called 27 club (Amy Winehouse being the latest name).

I don’t look back at this time with pride, obviously. But I also don’t look back at it with contempt, either. I have allowed some people to claw me down a bit, comparing my seemingly trivial hardships to their very REAL hardships. But I don’t do that anymore, either. It’s not helpful.

Either way, this is a small window into my mid to late teenage years. A time of life when I needed a crutch to keep me going. Which is why I now don’t look back with much regret at this, nor at the suicidal mindset that cut through the majority of my high school years .
It was a coping mechanism. It robbed me of enjoying many events of the then present day. It somewhat handicapped my ability to prepare myself for the future. But, it got me beyond the rough and into . . . whatever the hell this is. Even if that equates to a patch of concrete of which is destined to be crushed by the steamroller that is the stupidity of the human species, a positive outcome it still is.

To round it back, I remember my first exposure to the Cobain conspiracy theory. I was browsing Cobain info on some website and ended up in a bit of a rabbit hole of sorts. I remember this because it didn’t sit well with me.

I mean . . .NO! The man killed himself! If this is all to be believed, then what of the last 2 years of my life?! I’ve been fascinated by a LIE!

So describes a fascinating manifestation of cognitive bias in my young brain.

This fascination with celebrities that committed suicide or overdosed eventually faded away, as did most of my interest in the Cobain conspiracy. Life happened, with all the often nonsensical bullshit of which that entailed.

Though the Cobain conspiracy was on the very back burner for the vast majority of the time between first discovering it and recently (within the last year), I periodically had bouts of pursuit into the details. I had researched the case VIA Google a few times, finding Tom Grant and CobainCase.com (along with many others). I watched Kurt & Courtney. I became aware of all the seeming problems surrounding Cortney Love. From the allegations of her taking out a $50,000 hit on Kurt (made by a guy who was killed by a train days after that interview), to peoples habit of dying upon telling Courtney that they want to leave her (and Seattle). The first is obvious, the other is former Hole bandmate, Kristen Pfaff.
Though I revisited this every year or 2, I couldn’t help feeling that there had to be something here. This made all the more amusing by the semi-yearly occurrence of some commentator or celebrity calling out Courtney Love publicly for her role in the murder.

I had even drafted a post exploring this topic (well, started to) a few months after starting this blog. A post that I kept around until a few months ago when I started to have  serious doubts about the validity of the theory.

Part of this was rooted in the drastic shifts within my own mind of the past few years. I like to say that most people can recognize silly conspiracy theories on sight. That is, except for their own.

I began see this pattern in my own pro-murder leanings.

A big part of this came in my viewing of Soaked In Bleach, yet another film exploration into the theories. Unlike the others, however, this one annoyed me right off the bat, since  it began by asking the viewer to decide for themselves whether it was murder or suicide. As do many books written about the Cobain case, and materials concerning other conspiracy theories as well.
The other thing I disliked about this so-called docu-drama, was the bias. Though I didn’t have all that positive a perception of Courtney Love before watching this, even I had to admit that the bias towards her (as portrayed) was over the top. To give Tom Grant a bit of credit, it could have been a genuine reenactment of the meetings as they played out in his memory. But even so, it came off as quite . . . pushy towards an intended conclusion. A tactic that makes me very suspicious of the agenda behind those apparently doing the pushing.

The straw that would come to break the camels back was dropped on my consequence 2 days ago, VIA an algorithmically generated email from twitter (of all places). Amongst a list of tweets picked out just for me (based on my patterns of behavior, no doubt) was one from Tom Grant. Not even a tweet that had any connection to Soaked in Bleach, conspiracy, OR the Cobain case in general. Rather, it was a tweet featuring a video that would seemingly “leave most evolutionists scratching their heads”.

 

Yeah. . .

My first critique is the one that most with a capable mind will pick up on. I don’t believe in evolution any more than I believe in gravity, or radio waves, or light radiation. For lack of a more scientifically cogent way to put it, I don’t HAVE to believe in any of these things. Unlike the conspiracy that has been Grant’s claim to fame. Or infamy.

Whichever is more applicable.

Evolution denialism does not have anything to do with forensics. Alright, I’m going to back that up a little. It certainly has nothing to do with the Cobain case. Even so, it is possible to draw a parallel.

My observation of human behaviors in my proximity tends to indicate that the methodology that people use to come to a conclusion in one context is typically the one that is used for other problems in similar contexts. Or to round it all the way up to the macro level, I don’t think it’s coincidental that the United States is both the most religious nation AND the most prone nation to producing and propagating conspiracy theory.

It’s all about asking questions. Or in the case of a good majority of conspiracy theories, absorbing a new narrative under the pretext of asking questions. Often times a narrative that presents itself as a quest for the truth, but materializes as a standard for which all evidence presented by opposing arguments has to stand up to. Which is often times impossible due to an informational vacuum. Because if there weren’t an informational vacuum, there would not be a conspiracy theory!

In this day and age, even THAT rule of thumb is getting unreliable. But none the less, complete transparency from all angles would wipe out 99.9 . . .9% of these zombie theories that live on forever.

So, how does this apply to this?

Unlike some other conspiracies that I have looked into just out of curiosity (mainly those surrounding the events of 9/11), I haven’t done a whole lot of independent research into the Cobain case. I know a thing or 2, but I also knew EXACTLY what I was looking for. Hardly proper or unbiased research.

I don’t know why Courtney may or may not have acted oddly around that time.
I don’t know whether or not the gun that killed Kurt was wiped of prints.
I don’t know if his credit card was really used after he was dead (presumably by the assailant).
I don’t know if said assailant did get paid a large sum of money, only to presumably overdose and take the secret to their grave as well.
I don’t know if the amount of heroin detected in Kurt’s body was truly incapacitating (even to a highly tolerant addict), rendering suicide an impossibility.
I don’t know if the suicide note in its entirety, is truly authentic.
I don’t know if someone at ANY level made the realization that Kurt Cobain was worth more dead than alive, in the state that he was in.

I just don’t know. And in some respects, I don’t care.

I will say this . . . if there is a unified stance amongst experts in the field of forensics that there is something wrong here and that the Seattle Police Department may have missed something, then by all means, they should reopen the case file. It wouldn’t be the first time that a department has botched even a high profile case.

As for outside of that context, I think that it’s time to give it a rest.

I don’t know if Courtney Love is openly hostile towards many of these investigations on account to not wanting certain skeletons unearthed. Alternatively to that assumption (which is not hard to come to when opening your mind to many of these theories), is it not also possible that this is a very human reaction to a wild goose chase that doesn’t allow one to ever truly move on from a tragedy? How about a motherly reaction in the name of shielding their child from having to deal with the same nonsense?

I may not have all the answers, but it’s time for me to lay this old ghost to rest. Once and for all.

 

“How Tech Companies Conquered America’s Cities” – (The New York Times)

A good followup to yesterdays piece exploring future tech seems to be present tech. How the innovations of today are being deployed against the once formidable structures of local political influence.

Part of my interest in this article comes from it resurrecting an old observation I had 3 or 4 years back but completely forgot about (until now). Following one of our local elections, a columnist for a local publication wrote an article showcasing the declining participation in local elections in the past decade or so. He outlined the participation numbers in decline as noted by the campaigns in 2006, 2010 and then 2014. Though he did not mention it, I realized that those years coincided with the rise of social media as an embedded part of the day to day life of most people.
Media consumption habits were (are) changing, the internet was (is) becoming ever more prominent in this area (compared to traditional mediums, such as television). People were becoming more intertwined with platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and less so with local papers and newscasts. So beaten down are the mediums here that we don’t have a local paper printed our cities boundaries. If not for our local cable operator being a regional co-operative, the city would have no local media presence (short of a local discussion forum). The two corporate-owned radio stations air prerecorded weather during the evening and night (the co-operative owned stations are staffed 24/7).
Imagine hearing “possibility for the development of thundershowers this evening” after a severe storm has wrecked havoc and flooded half the city. I don’t have to. I HAVE heard this.

Moving on, when it comes to smaller markets, I suspect that this is not all that uncommon these days. As we move online, local media is increasingly crippled or forced to play catch-up. Which is not always possible.

Replacing these local pillars, are the international tech platforms. Since money and attention is not garnered from niches, they tend to focus people more on the national and the international levels (as opposed to the local). If local news makes the algorithm, it tends to be for salacious reasons. Think of Rob Ford’s unfortunate rise to infamy (respectfully left out in this write-up), or my cities former mayor’s past gaffes.

I came to realize this problem because I saw it in my own life. As a millennial at the head of the group, I grew up in the internet age and was just exiting high school as social media was getting established. I have always been connected and politically active, never missing a single vote since reaching voting age. Despite this, the regional and local campaigns had a habit of sneaking up on me (“Holy crap, the election is this week!?”).

Call me ignorant, call me a typical millennial. My focus was elsewhere.
I am not a newspaper reader, my television is off around 70% of the time (I could easily live without cable television). My focus is just generally geared towards the national and the international. I have attempted to remedy this from time to time, but as The Stones once sang, old habits die hard (I hate that song).

Having read the slumping local participation numbers for our local election, it occurred to me that I was not the only one in this boat. Electoral participation is notoriously low to begin with, let alone when one is barely better off than flying blind.
At the time, I shared my observations with the author of that article VIA email, along with my plans to explore it in a future letter to the editor (it’s been awhile since I wrote one of those). But over time, I forgot about it and moved onto other things.

That is until the Times brought it back to the forefront of my mind (albeit in a different context).

Let’s begin.

I’m not saying America’s cities are turning into dystopian technocapitalist hellscapes in which corporations operate every essential service and pull every civic string.

But let’s take a tour of recent news from the metropolises.

■ In Seattle, the City Council decided last week to undo its plan to impose a $275-per-employee tax on local businesses, a measure it had approved unanimously last month as a way to address the city’s homelessness and housing-affordability crisis. Why the retreat? Many of the city’s businesses balked at the tax, including Amazon — and no one needed to remind Seattleites that Amazon is very publicly looking for a second city to plant its glass balls. So, the Council caved.

■ The mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, announced that he had tapped the Boring Company, Elon Musk’s second side-hustle, to build a high-speed transportation tunnel from O’Hare International Airport to the city center. Boring said it would fully pay for the tunnel, using no public funds, but it is also very likely to hold a long-term lease to the project, capturing all revenue from the private system.

■ You’ve heard of the app-powered electric scooters that descended like locusts on some American cities last spring. The start-ups that run them made a bold bet: Deploy now; worry about legal niceties later. The bet is paying off. Officials in San Francisco, Austin, Tex., and Santa Monica, Calif., have rushed plans for legalization. Bird, the most ambitious of the scooter start-ups, is now raising money at a $2 billion valuation, just weeks after raising money at a $1 billion valuation.

■ Finally, Domino’s Pizza announced a plan to pave America’s potholes. I wish I were kidding. As part of the program, Domino’s — which has been fashioning itself as a tech company now that it’s battling food-delivery start-ups for mind share — will imprint its logo into the roadway, because apparently Domino’s is the government now, and he who pays the paver gets to choose the toppings. (A Domino’s spokeswoman told that me cities could forgo the logo.)

O.K., so maybe I am saying that America’s cities are turning into dystopian technocapitalist hellscapes.

When I look at all of this, a couple things come to mind.

The first is questioning how much Domino’s contributes to the tax pool, given that they have to make a national advertising campaign out of putting a band-aid on chronic infrastructure issues.  And the second being, this is starting to look VERY similar to the economic landscape that did in Puerto Rico decades before Maria was a tropical storm. Just a new set of players.

How did tech companies become America’s most-powerful local power brokers?

This, along with the bit about techies being averse to politics, are both solved by the very same equation. Or more accurately, commodity.

Money. And lots of it.

Technology is the future, so this industry will increasingly become the new lynchpin of stability as time goes on. With monetary riches and reward comes an inherent need to play politics, because that is how you both carve out an edge for yourself AND keep as much of the take in your hands as is possible.

It’s the classic story of the growth of an industry, and of a handful of corporations cashing in on most of the riches. Same plot, a different cast of characters.

Only national issues matter now

One reason tech companies can command greater say in local issues is that many other local institutions, from small businesses to local newspapers, have lost much of their influence — thanks, in large part, to the internet.

In his new book, “The Increasingly United States,” Daniel Hopkins, a political scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, points out that social networks and digital media created a media ecosystem that is increasingly obsessed with national issues, and a political-finance system that allows donations to flow nationally. As a result, local issues are sidelined.

“When the framers of the Constitution designed the American political system, they assumed that people would care a lot more about local issues that were tangible and concrete than they would care about the distant ways of Washington,“ Mr. Hopkins said. “Contemporary American politics is exactly the opposite — we are focused on the spectacle far away.”

This is the part that stuck out for me when skimming the article earlier today. My conclusions of a few years back, in an article within the New York Times. How’s THAT for being on to something?

In this increasing vaccum of information, many speculate that corruption will become much more common than it has in the past. A hypothesis that I can understand because it stands to reason . . . what is there to lose when no one is watching?

John Oliver touches on it in this clip:

No, the irony isn’t lost on me.

Mr. Hopkins argues that this has turned local politics sclerotic. For instance, in California, where I live, there’s a huge political disagreement between people who favor building more housing and those who argue that development is itself the problem (that is, Yimbys versus Nimbys). Yet among politically connected elites here, I noticed more interest in various faraway congressional special elections than the race we just had for San Francisco mayor.

The “key question for voters is always their national loyalties,” Mr. Hopkins said. There’s much less room for voting based on what’s happening nearby.

Interesting. And somewhat concerning. If this is the case in a big market like San Francisco, what hope does literally ANY OTHER MARKET have?

‘Travis’s Law’

What does this have to do with tech companies? While the fall of local media undermined interest in local issues, tech companies began to notice that their platforms gave them direct access to new levers of local influence. And they began to deploy those levers to withering effect.

Uber wrote the script. Travis Kalanick, the ride-hailing company’s founder and now-ousted chief executive, pushed into dozens of cities without asking permission. In many cities, the pushback was intense — Uber was disrupting local taxi cartels that had spent decades building their own political power base.

But what Uber lacked in political support it made up for in local popularity. Through its app, the company had a direct connection to thousands of riders and drivers who were making a living from its service.

They became the basis for “Travis’s Law”: When regulators tried to shut Uber down, the company could “turn its riders into advocates and use grass-roots political pressure to ensure Uber’s continued existence,” as Bradley Tusk, the political operative whom Mr. Kalanick hired to fight local battles, writes in his coming book, “The Fixer: Saving Startups From Death by Politics.”

The plan worked beautifully. In New York in 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio floated a proposal to cap Uber’s growth. The mayor had the support of most of the City Council; Uber’s fight looked impossible.

But Mr. Tusk mobilized Uber’s constituency, framing the issue in stark racial terms — if Uber failed, black and Latino drivers would lose an economic opportunity, and riders would be stuck with taxis that had long discriminated against them. Uber won and, by following its example, so would the rest of the industry.

Very interesting and eye-opening. I only had half the picture. It wasn’t just circumstance, it was malice. Malice that no locality on this earth is immune from if even metro New York City can fall victim to these tactics.

I wouldn’t be being honest if I didn’t see the possible silver lining of new technology helping to bast up long-standing taxi monopolies in many markets. The fact that they call them cartels is telling. But having said that, not if the result is going to be just another version of the VERY SAME GAME, just with different players.

I’m starting to see a theme, here.

Is tech power so bad?

You might argue that this is all to the good: Cities are drowning in red tape, local leaders are naturally averse to change, and tech companies are doing exactly what innovative companies should do. Shouldn’t we be celebrating these innovators?

If this is you . . . go to the nearest mirror and give yourself a nice big slap in the face. After such an amount of slaps has elapsed that you feel that your head is completely and totally removed from the confines of your rectal cavity, come back and rejoin the conversation.

But tech power, at the local level, feels increasingly indomitable. With the mere threat of halting growth, Amazon can send shudders through cities across the country. Even Mr. De Blasio, once seen as a critic of tech, now swoons for Amazon; he lit up New York’s landmarks in “Amazon orange” to woo Jeff Bezos to open the company’s second headquarters there.

Or, consider the scooters. Some people love our new e-scooter overlords, and others hate them. But whatever your position, the real problem is that they just appeared out of nowhere one day, suddenly seizing the sidewalks, and many citizens felt they had no real agency in the decision. They were here to stay, whatever nonusers felt about them.

Which was all by design. The scooter companies were just following Travis’s Law. In Santa Monica, Bird’s scooters appeared on city streets in September. Lawmakers balked; in December, the city filed a nine-count criminal complaint against Bird.

Bird responded with a button in its app to flood local lawmakers with emails of support. The city yielded: Bird signed a $300,000 settlement with Santa Monica, a pittance of its funding haul, and lawmakers authorized its operations.

If you love the scooters, you see nothing wrong with this. But there was a time, in America, when the government paid for infrastructure and the public had a say in important local services. With Ubers ruling the roads, Birds ruling the sidewalks, Elon Musk running our subways and Domino’s paving our roads, that age is gone.

Ride-sharing has been proposed (and promptly, opposed) by many in my locality, of which keeps a fairly tight rein on the cities taxi industry (though not as tight as other nearby cities, as there is no cap on the number of registered taxies in service at any one time). Though there is fairly minimal push into this market at the moment, I will have to keep an eye on it.

As do us all.

 

 

The Latest Accusee Of #MeTo – Hedley ?!

It’s strange, the fact that I am referencing Hedley in this post, and on this blog. The days of this group having any relevance to my life have LONG since past. I liked some songs off of the first album because it was fairly heavy. But then I moved away from the radio (and intern, popular music), and thus this band just fell into the abyss of the long forgotten.

Well, until I happen to hear one of their newer god awful slow and sappy or otherwise overtly pop-oriented abortions.

It seems that the band is now alleged to have some, shall we say, questionable relationships with some of its fans. Enough of them to prompt their removal from performing at this years Canadian Juno Awards.

https://globalnews.ca/news/4025968/hedley-sexual-allegations-juno-awards/

First things first . . .

This piece is not meant to take a stance on the removal of the band from the lineup. I don’t care. The organizers can make whatever changes they please. I don’t watch awards shows, have never watched awards shows.
There is more to life than all of that distracting and empty glitz and glamor.

I am not even here to say much about the allegations themselves. Because they are just that, allegations. It’s early in the release of this story, so time will tell how this pans out.

What bothers me is the prevailing attitude in the comments section of the article above. Nothing that really surprises me at this point in my life, but none the less, proof that society has much work to do.

These girls are groupies. They allow themselves to be victims

Meanwhile these same teenagers keep the kardashians rich and on the air knowing the star Kim was pimped out by her own mother via video, it’s ridiculous

Hedley strong

The War on Men continues.

Some of the comments in the thread, the vast majority of which followed more or less the same formula. Indeed, a small microcosm of the entirety of the social media world. But I would not expect to find much difference in opinion on any other platform simply because celebrity worship is ever present in contemporary society.

This is an interesting (and potentially nasty) new twist to this whole equation, however. In truth, the idea of grown adults writing and performing songs specifically tailored for child and teen demographics has always struck me as . . . odd.  I suppose that almost all pop music could go into this category.
However, I think specifically of the boy band type stuff for this category. Hedley, Simple Plan and the like. Yeah, my examples are pretty dated. I can’t be bothered to find out who the new Bieber or One Direction is.

Even when I was young, Simple Plan singing “I’m just a kid, and my life is a nightmare!” struck me as odd. The purpose is obvious (depressed kids in cookie-cutter suburbs have plenty of disposable income, particularly in 2004/2005). But it was still . . . odd.

Fast forward almost 20 years, and I realize that it is far more than that. Not just odd, but a potential disaster under the wrong circumstances. For example, if you happen to be a sexual predator with a talent for song and dance.

It’s an unwritten rule that sex sells, and essentially the whole of the pop music industry is built upon this foundation. Any performer can blend into this environment with ease. And if they have a fanbase that mostly falls below the age of majority, you end up with the very real possibility of a vulnerable group being right at the fingertips of a sexual predator. A risky situation that many of the victims may not realize (or just refuse to accept) because of the circumstances.

No, I am not saying that this is what we are dealing with in terms of Hedley. However, whether it be Hedley or any other artist or group, allegations must be taken seriously.

 

What Is The European Brotherhood? – Fascism And White Nationalism Revisited

It’s been several years since a fateful encounter with 4 stickers on a pole in the parking lot of my employer alerted me to the ongoing and ever-present rabbit hole that is the brotherhood of Europeans, and otherwise white nationalism. Though it was not on my radar (and really, not on the wider radar of worldwide current events) at the time that I published the post, that has since changed drastically.

https://mbman.wordpress.com/2015/06/25/what-on-earth-is-the-european-brotherhood/

That post went live in late June of 2015, and traffic to it from search engines (most notably Google) started to spike around 6 months after it went up. Unsurprisingly, this occurred around the same time as increasing hostility and conflict in the middle east begun driving thousands of refugees towards the safe haven that is Europe.
And now, thanks to a myriad of factors, global sentiments have taken a HUGE swing to the right. Such is the case that lessons once learned in between the 1920’s and the 1940’s seem to be fading away.

Okay, to be fair, such sentiments never REALLY went away. Terrorist acts the world over (though most notably in the US and Norway, in recent years) have always had a white nationalist presence. However, unlike even 2 or 3 years ago, this sentiment has emerged from below the radar and become almost mainstream. Thanks in no small part to the algorithms of social media influencing bigger and bigger cohorts of users into rabbit holes of false reality and perceived danger.
If you want to see a great example of this for yourself, take a look at some of the comments left on my previous article on the topic (linked above).
I have grown somewhat desensitized to many of them. But for those that don’t typically spend time interacting with the underbelly of the online world . . . you may be a bit unnerved by what you see. I encourage you to read them none the less, however. As the learning materials I will embed later will showcase, this is what we are dealing with.

Now, when I embarked on this journey, I will be perfectly honest and say that I DID NOT know what I was dealing with, or getting into. It was just me doing what I have always used this platform for . . . exposing questionable things that I come across in the wilds of my day to day life (be they in the real or the digital realm). Which was why many of the reactions to the previous piece honestly threw me for a loop.
Don’t get me wrong, I knew that it would not be seen in a positive light by many. I step on people’s toes. Fine by me.

However, the word propaganda came up a couple times. One person compared me to Joseph Goebbels (I know . . . HA!). And there was otherwise an air of absolute contempt, disdain, and aversion to the piece that I simply did not understand. As though it was an extreme toxin to the white nationalist ideology that had to be eliminated. Judging by some of the later comments, a toxin that had to be eliminated at any cost.

For arguably years, I didn’t know what I was dealing with. And as such, my reaction to the situation may not have been . . . ideal. Upon re-reading some of my earlier replies in the comment section, I am not sure if I handled it the right way. In fact, even later (when I quit taking any of them seriously, settling on some combination of amusement and flat-out aggression), I’m not sure of how I feel about that either.
None the less, we live and we learn. From now on, I don’t think I am going to even bother responding to comments. Well, nothing beyond something passively-aggressively generic like “Thanks for the comment 🙂 ” anyway.

Though I was quite ignorant before, I have to thank youtuber ContraPoints for bringing some perspective into what I and we are dealing with. A slithering snake that goes by many names and labels.
The Brotherhood of Europeans. The Alt-Right. And a never-ending and endlessly evolving assortment of new covert labels and symbols that serve as covers for a connecting thread that is fascism and white nationalism.

I’ll let ContraPoints do the explaining for me. She does it in a far more entertaining way than I ever could hope to. The fact that she reminds me of late 90’s Marilyn Manson is a nice bonus.

Decrypting the Alt-Right: How to Recognize a F@scist

What the Alt-Right Fears

Why the Alt-Right Is Wrong

This one particularly amused me (note the beginning) since one of the commenters on my previous post kept going on about liberals (like me, presumably) are quick to censor people like him. Amusing, being that I never censored any of his comments.

But most notably because it takes MANY reports to have a video flagged. Imagine that . . . facists showing their true colors without even realizing it!

What is Race?

Degeneracy

The last 2 I decided to include due to their relation to the rest of the topic. After all, race realism is increasingly on the minds of many people, and I didn’t even consider the fascist nature of the word degenerate. In all honesty, it’s not a word that is in my everyday vocabulary (in fact, I can’t recall the last time I have used it, or even pondered it. Well, short of now and last night). But none the less, knowledge of these things is always a good thing.

This next video is a must-see for those of you that have swallowed the mantra that is “The free and open marketplace of ideas cleanses all” (a slight paraphrase of the popular saying).

It is a bit ironic that I chose the word cleanses in this context. But on we go . . .

Debating the Alt-Right

That is it for the recommendations from me. That said, however, I encourage all to do some exploring of the other material found on her channel. I learned many things despite having discovered the channel only 24 hours ago.

In closing, intentions.

Many people that come across this will likely be dead set in their ways already. As part of the quote goes in first seconds of G&R’s song Civil War:

Some men, you just can’t reach

Interesting choice of words. Some men, you just can’t reach.

Some would say it is sexist, calling attention to the fact that most of those involved in this identitarian movement seem to be male. And I do have to be careful.

Even if 98% of the comments on my previous post (and no doubt this one, given some time) and a huge percentage of comments that Contra references seem to be all from men, it’s merely an anecdote. Even if the vast majority of what I have observed about the whole white nationalist identitarian movement makes it look like a giant homophobic sausage fest, I must be careful to be nuanced.

But in all seriousness, many that pass through here (and no doubt comment, as past experience predicts) will be beyond any of this. Beyond my reach.

Whatever. It is what it is.

My intent is less about doing the almost impossible than it is about being a giant spotlight for those that may be casually flirting around the outer fringes, and those that don’t have a clue.

If you are flirting with an identity within any of the past or present fronts of the fascist white nationalist movement, then have a look around. Is this REALLY what you want to be apart of?

Poppy Madness

It’s that time of year once more. Chronologically speaking, it is Halloween.  However,  I am referring to a time period that is more applicable to my personal universe.
In a nutshell, due to various circumstances of the life in which I live (one of which being my employment, the 2ed being my overly functional brain), the period between Back To School in September and New Years tends to be hellish. Its a combination of increased workloads, short-tempered consumers, and an endless supply of mindless babble. Don’t get me wrong, increased work does not overly bother me (I used to easily cope with the pressures of a fairly well oiled fast food machine). It is everything else that is unique to people that makes things difficult.
While back to school and hungry spawn bring an increase in traffic to retail, the real hell begins before the holidays. Primarily in the final days before the holidays, when the last minute shoppers flock to the store in a haste to pick up leftovers. Despite typically WEEKS of anticipation of the holidays (in terms of sales and available inventory) on the part of the retailers. Its a time of frustration and amusement for me, when that the happy and positive connotation of the upcoming holiday often stands in stark contrast to the often bitter or disrespectful holiday shopper. I am NOT saying that this is a rule of thumb by ANY means, and I am very likely influenced by my biases (particularly misanthropy). But for every one of me (of which there are likley few), there are probably tenfold more people influenced by the very opposite bias.

Either way, it goes like this. First, comes school, then Thanksgiving, then the period between it and Remembrance Day, and then the ultimate leadup (and subsequent culmination) of it all in Christmas and New Years. I began to acknowledge the period between Thanksgiving and Remembrance Day in recent times due to idiotic controversies coming up in recent years.
These controversies involving retailers stocking Christmas and Holiday fare before November 11th, the day of Remembrance. As though that is some sort of afront to the Veterans of past and present.

I would have thought that the nasty shift towards right-wing authoritarianism worldwide was far more of an insult to such people, but hey . . . what do I know? I just hate people.

So far, I have not seen this attempted retail shaming come up in the trending discourses of social media. But we’re still 2 weeks out, and the stores still have leftover sugar-laden treats to dispose of in order to make room. So that is not the focus of this piece.

Instead, my focus will be on another form of retail shaming. And I didn’t spot this on social media, either. This story is straight from an email prepared by legitamite Canadian news agency CTV.  And the controversy . . . a retailer rejecting sales of poppies.

Nova Scotia Legion branch ‘hurt’ by Dollarama’s rejection of poppy trays

Volunteers of a Royal Canadian Legion branch in Elmsdale, N.S., say they are hurt and disappointed by the way a local Dollarama rejected the non-profit’s poppy tray and donation boxes.

On Oct. 27, volunteers from the Elmsdale Legion carried out their annual delivery of poppies and donation boxes to local businesses. That afternoon, an employee from Elmsdale’s Dollarama came by the Legion’s office to return two poppy trays delivered to the store earlier in the day.

“She explained that she was working at the Dollarama when the poppies were delivered, and that when one of the supervisors came in, the supervisor got upset and said they weren’t allowed to do the poppy campaign,” Ann Creamer, president of the Elmsdale Legion, told CTV Atlantic.

The employee told Creamer that the supervisor threw the two poppy trays left by Legion volunteers “underneath the cabinet.”

“[The employee] was upset because relatives of hers were veterans, and her husband is in the military,” Creamer said. “She totally supported the poppy campaign, so she was upset that her employer wasn’t supporting it.”

The language used is interesting.  In a nutshell, the bias of the author is obvious. Not that I didn’t expect that. Much like reading an article about any other sacred Canadian trait (such as hockey or The Tragically Hip), its expected.

Also, the angry employee is wrong about the company not supporting the poppy campaign. More on that later.

In a statement, a Dollarama spokesperson told CTV Atlantic that the Elmsdale Dollarama was acting in accordance with the retailer’s nation-wide policy to prevent theft.

“Dollarama does not allow for the placement of unattended donation boxes from any third party at the cash or elsewhere in the store,” the statement said. “Check-out areas are high-traffic zones for associates to manage, with limited space, and unfortunately, a high risk for theft.”

It’s an understandable policy, really. The staff has enough responsibility keeping an eye on its own inventory without taking on the responsibility of third-party assets as well.

Not that such a policy explanation is even necessary. It’s private property. Subject to whatever rules they choose to enact and enforce.

To go one step further, one often hears about how the troops “fought for our freedoms!“. By extension, one would assume that to include the right to have reasonable control over the happenings on one’s private property. Which makes this shamming campaign look very eyebrow-raisingly authoritarian.

Isn’t it ironic . . . don’t ya think?

According to Legion member and volunteer Marion Manning, the nation-wide policy hasn’t been as firm in recent years.

“Last year we received a phone call from them asking us to bring up trays – they wanted to put them on their counters,” Manning told CTV Atlantic.

Two years ago, however, the poppies were turned down upon arrival at Elmsdale’s Dollarama, Manning said, calling the policy confusing and hurtful.

“It’s disrespectful to [my husband] Gary, putting his life on the line, and other vets. It just shouldn’t be happening.”

Manning has written a letter to Dollarama, but for now the poppy trays will remain off the retailer’s counters.

Write away.

If (when?) this hits social media, the retailer will more than likely listen, lest have to deal with an even temporary boycott of social media users that think they have accomplished some good in the world. Nothing like using public pressure and bandwagons to fix a non-issue.

The stores take the trays some years, and not others . . . disrespectful?
Hardly.
Deal with it. People have to shop more retailers than just the dollar store anyway. There are plenty of places that these trays can be situated.

What is disrespectful is this parading of one’s status as a military family member in the name of shaming a private entity into reversing a PERFECTLY legitimate policy.
And while it does not surprise me that this would make it into the national news media, it’s disheartening.

In its statement, Dollarama also said the company donates $10,000 to the Royal Canadian Legion’s poppy fund every year.

And there it is.

Unless this employee plans on matching this, I think that this conversation is over.

Still, some Elmsdale Legion volunteers said they won’t be shopping at any Dollarama locations in the near future.

And again, there it is. On the other hand, at least they are honest about it!

They won’t shop there in the NEAR future. However, come holiday time when the need for cheap foreign made gifts, wrapping paper, and knick-knacks comes along, all is forgiven!

Should White Men Be Allowed To Vote? 

Yes, I did just ask that question. Though its not a question I take seriously for reasons that should be obvious, a recent article has forced the question onto my radar due to being given credibility by a fairly mainstream platform (Huff Po).

This question was first brought to my attention this morning by TJ Kirk (aka/formerly The Amazing Atheist) VIA the following video released a day or 2 ago. He did his own commentary on it which you can listen to.

Within this commentary, I hear things that I like. But I also hear things that are a bit questionable. Rather than express either agreement or disagreement with it, I would rather take on the article for myself.

And here is the article itself.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/shelley-garland/could-it-be-time-to-deny-white-men-the-franchise_a_22036640/

It should be noted that this is from the South African edition of the website. While not entirely familiar with the political state of affairs in the region, I can understand why this may come up there in the mainstream (as opposed to elsewhere). That nations rough history is not all that far behind us.

I was going to pick this apart piece by piece, but this happened.

Huffington Post SA has removed the blog “Could It Be Time To Deny White Men The Franchise?” published on our Voices section on April 13, 2017.

We have done this because the blog submission from an individual who called herself Shelley Garland, who claimed to be an MA student at UCT, cannot be traced and appears not to exist.

Well then. Its great to know that they check these things before they publish them for the whole world to see!

It looks like Huff Po SA has taken steps to ensure that this does not happen again, including voluntarily holding themselves accountable to South African media regulators (due to the nation having a hate speech ban). While I don’t think punishment is in order in this case (someone took advantage of the system), its a good wake up call for the whole of the industry. Be careful with your sources, or you could get fooled (if not trolled!).

That was anti-climactic. Since I set out to tackle this post, lets do this. Fortunately for us, the post was up long enough to be sampled by many publications. So, off we go!

The first part we will get  from the Washington Standard. Remember, I don’t give a damn what they have to say about it . . . I just need the quote.

Some of the biggest blows to the progressive cause in the past year have often been due to the votes of white men. If white men were not allowed to vote, it is unlikely that the United Kingdom would be leaving the European Union, it is unlikely that Donald Trump would now be the President of the United States, and it is unlikely that the Democratic Alliance would now be governing four of South Africa’s biggest cities.

Though I am unaware of South African politics (as said before), in terms of both Brexit and the US election of Trump, its not ALL on the backs of (presumably) privileged white men.

With a world population that is split around half way down the middle between males and females (in fact, if memory serves, females have a slight advantage in this area!), this does not hold up. If every female voter (white or otherwise!) voted either against Brexit or for Hillary Clinton,  the landscape would likely look very different.

The white man scapegoat also overlooks at least 2 important factors that played into both votes.

One was anger over an ever changing world which was leaving many previously employed middle class people ended up being out of work. Though much of their misery can be traced to money saving decisions made in high rise boardrooms all over the western world, its easy to use the media (and now social media) to create a scapegoat. This time around, its immigrants that take the brunt of the heat.

The other half of the equation is the continued inaction of the left in both countries. 2 votes that were SUPER important for EVERYONE in both the short AND long term. But apparently the choice was to initially wait it out, then cry foul once the deed was done.

So, no, its not fair (OR even correct!) to blame ALL of today’s societal regressions on the undue influence of the white man. Though it is indeed undeniable, the fact remains that it does not HAVE to be!

Take the US GOP. Right now those arrogant wide eyed morons are running wild. Just listening to them for 10 seconds exposes just how incredibly STUPID they are (and therefore, how dangerous they are). Yet even though their enablers are numbering fewer and fewer in a progressing world, these baby boomers still remain at the helm.

The left COULD take the wheel. They just have to drop the bullshit, in infighting, the excuses.

If white men no longer had the vote, the progressive cause would be strengthened. It would not be necessary to deny white men indefinitely – the denial of the vote to white men for 20 years (just less than a generation) would go some way to seeing a decline in the influence of reactionary and neo-liberal ideology in the world. The influence of reckless white males were one of the primary reasons that led to the Great Recession which began in 2008. This would also strike a blow against toxic white masculinity, one that is long needed.

I will read a little between the lines here.

The denial of the white man vote for just 20 years would be just enough time for most of these older males to die off. Though change is coming anyway, this would no doubt speed up the process.

As I said before, you do not NEED to go this route. We can make changes happen in the short term. You just have to actually get out and vote!

…Some may argue that this is unfair. Let’s be clear, it may be unfair, but a moratorium on the franchise for white males for a period of between 20 and 30 years is a small price to pay for the pain inflicted by white males on others, particularly those with black, female-identifying bodies. In addition, white men should not be stripped of their other rights, and this withholding of the franchise should only be a temporary measure, as the world rights the wrongs of the past.

A withholding of the franchise from white males, along with the passing of legislation in this period to redistribute some of their assets, will also, to a degree, act as the reparations for slavery, colonialism, and apartheid, which the world is crying out for to be paid.

…Although this may seem unfair and unjust, allowing white males to continue to call the shots politically and economically, following their actions over the past 500 years, is the greater injustice.

Though this is a common argument one hears a lot, its not one I take all that seriously anymore.

Though the human species ended up culminating with the whites at the head of the pack, being that we all share a similar makeup, I honestly don’t think that switching out other races in the various roles that make up human societies would yield differing results. There are anecdotes abound that when given the chance, instinct typically trumps all else in such situations.
So, yes. I am saying that even if blacks ended up being the dominant race, I doubt things would look much different. Same goes for any other race.

As for reparations, while I understand the sentiment, I also don’t agree with it.

Its not a healthy way to be. Rather than figuring out how to best proceed in a world often devoid of both people AND problems of which one seeks reparations for, they cling to this past. Guilting a current generation that likely never harmed them, but more importantly, never reaching their true potential.

Humans never were (and never WILL be!) perfect. Being continuously hyper focused on this rough past is of no benefit to anyone. Particularly when we are all equally capable of being such monsters.

For more quotes from the article, I will switch to a website called CSC Media Group. Again, all I care about is the quotes, NOT the content.

It is no surprise that liberalism – and its ideological offshoots of conservatism and libertarianism – are the most popular ideologies among white males. These ideologies with their focus on individuals and individual responsibility, rather than group affiliation allow white men to ignore the debt that they owe society, and from acknowledging that most of their assets, wealth, and privilege are the result of theft and violence.

First off, im not sure what the author means by ideological offshoot. While it COULD be said that libratarianism could be a branch off of liberalism (Classical Liberalism anyway), I wouldn’t think of conservatism as branching off liberalism.

I could be wrong. I am used to treating the 2 as separate and distinct units. But that could just be on account to, how the hyper partisan political world is. So feel free to correct (or confirm) any of this in the comment section.

As for them all promoting individualism, most of the philosophies that make up modern societies (INCLUDING progressive ones!) fall into this area. Humans have this habit of wanting and acting as though they are completely individualistic and independent, yet they also like macros. Groups big and small, were the most independent followers there are!

While group affiliation (or hive minds, as some may interpret the statement) is obviously thought by the author to foster altruism, this also may only go so far. I often see groups (even within other groups!) that are collectives, yet they become so self focused that they become just a bigger unit example of an individual with a self serving nature. The left is littered with examples of this!
In fact, this problem directly ties into my earlier words in this article, because these divisions actively keep us all from coming together and BEING the change that we desire!

That about concludes the article (or at least, what I can find of it). Whatever the reasoning for submitting this piece for publishing was, it allowed me the chance to delve into some stuff that was worth looking into.

Even if this article ends up being exposed as a baiting piece, its not a stretch that its a serious philosophy for some. Hence, worth exploring.

The Confederate Flag

confederate-flag

The confederate flag has been in the news quite a bit lately, propelled by the recent shooting of 8 black worshipers at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, North Carolina.  A horrendous act of aggression brought on by an extremely racist man with a skewed sense of reality. Something tells he that he would be welcome in with another group that I have recently written about, The European Brotherhood.

One side effect of this unfortunate situation was that it brought the previously hidden issue that is the confederate flag into full view. The issue being, what it is representative of. One can list racism, slavery and of course a lost war (a treasonous one at that).
Being its terrible history, I don’t really think its unreasonable for many people (particularly from the black community) to be uncomfortable or offended by its presence at public locations like state legislatures or other government properties. And due to this public pressure, some states (namely South Carolina and Alabama) have taken measures towards, or quit, flying the confederate flag. In North Carolina, an activist managed to take the flag down herself. For this, she (and her helper) may have to pay up to a $5,000 fine and face 3 years in prison (if convicted). The pairs crime being defacing a monument.

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That is an interesting question.

It is a comparison that even I would not have been quick to make, being that the background culture that I grew up in did not put nearly as much emphasis on the negative aspects of the confederate flag, in comparison to the Nazi flag. In fact, its so watered down (at least here in Canada) that I know many here that display the flag, some  even flying it on their houses. I used to wonder why people in Canada would fly it (most recently on twitter).

tweet

But it occurs to me that it is less of a symbol of hate to these people then it is a prop representing southern pride. Or as is the more common context:

The-General-the-general-lee-30444398-504-333


The majority of respondents to a recent CNN poll (57%) said that they seen the flag as more a sign of southern pride then one of racism (that group getting 33%). Though that poll is likely equivalent to anecdotal material since its (likely) based only around CNN viewers, it does confirm that different people assign different  things to the symbol that is the confederate flag.
Some obviously view it in a less sinister manor. Others like a fellow quoted in my European Brotherhood piece (and maybe these guys) view it differently.

It is possible that many who view the flag in a more positive manor are ignorant to a lot of the other historical context associated with it (the racism, slavery and such). And it is possible that these people may look at it differently if they take those contexts into consideration. Would it be viewed in the same way as the Nazi flag or the white garb of the Ku Klux Klan? Who knows.

No matter what however, though I am speaking here for only myself (people can agree, but I don’t claim to speak FOR anyone else), I think that the flag has no place in or around governmental institutions. The only exception to that would be if it were used in the context of history (such as a government operated or funded museum).

Though I think that it be wise to teach people more historical context (to those that view the flag primarily without), I don’t really agree with the many companies and corporations that are dumping confederate themed products due to this recent movement.

Big department stores and online outlets promising to quit selling the flag and other confederate oriented merchandise. Apple briefly pulled confederate-oriented games from its store. And Bubba Watson, owner of one of the many “General Lee’s” produced in the making of The Dukes of Hazard, has made his intent to paint over the cars confederate flag (replacing it with an American flag) public. And recently Walmart was called out by a fellow for refusing to bake a confederate themed cake, yet allowing an ISIS themed cake.

This reaction is an annoyance, because it seems like a reaction just for the publicity. A way of taking advantage of the situation in the same way that many did back when Gene Simmons  fucked up last year, just previous to Robin William’s suicide.
Side note to that story, our local Bell affiliate station has Kiss back in rotation.

Besides punishing the other members of Kiss for simply being in a band with Gene, the whole concept is moot anyway, because of the nature of how social media boycotts work. Wait awhile, and we will have all forgotten the incident.

Its almost as though I could see it coming.

But moving on, one thing to keep an eye on is if all this hesitation shown towards confederate merchandise is going to hold, 6 months to a year from now (when the public moves on).

Even so however, I don’t think that this move by all of these companies (for the publicity or not) was even necessary in the first place. I understand that they may want to disassociate themselves from the flag. But it seems silly that any company should have to take that stance, since they are essentially a service provider.

Any department store, online store, bakery or other business is not necessarily affiliated with the sum of their products offered. Should a store sell a variety of ISIS, Nazi and confederate themed merchandise, that just makes them a store that caters to the very discriminating consumer. Should a bakery agree to bake an ISIS, Nazi or confederate themed cake, that just means they will customize a cake for pretty much anyone. If they do stand by a principal, it is that of the $$. Show me the money, and I don’t give a fuck what you want me to make.

This is how it should be.

It is the choice of the business whether or not they want to appease the wants and needs of their more controversial  clientèle. But they should not be forced or otherwise pressured into this decision. And most importantly, the decision TO fill that niche should not be used as a reflection of the values of the business as a whole. They are just a middle man service provider.

It would be a bit like labeling Internet Service Providers  and Cellular Data Carriers racist, sexist, bigoted and other terms, just for delivering external (and related) web content to subscribers requesting it.

To sum it all up, though the confederate flag is indeed a part of history, it does not have a place in governmental institutions (does Germany fly the Nazi flag in their government buildings? Its a big part of their history to).