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Connecting The Dots or How I Think

17/06/2016

MGWG cartoon

I saw and shared the above cartoon because it struck me as funny.

The incongruity of a cartoon gorilla and a cartoon alligator agreeing to a mutual protection / revenge pact was ridiculous.

As Monty Python has pointed out:

Accountants acting like accountants or Vikings acting like Vikings = Not Funny

Vikings acting like accountants  or accountants acting like Vikings = Funny

What’s doubly ironic is that these two characters have diametrically opposed goals: Magilla Gorilla wants to be purchased and cared for as somebody’s pet, Wally Gator wants to escape the zoo and recover his lost freedom.

Some have asked if it’s too soon for this sort of humor, and all I can do is repeat what Lenny Bruce said as he took the stage for the first time after President John F. Kennedy was shot: =phew= Vaughn Meader…”

One can sympathize with the terror and tragedy of a two-year old’s death, or the deadly peril of a child who fell into an ape pen, while at the same time recognizing the irony of gorillas and gators being punished for acting like gorillas and gators after humans intrude on their habitats.

But even as I was typing that, I became conscious a connection between this cartoon and a different problem on a different scale that I had obviously “seen” in the cartoon, only didn’t realize it at the time.

What happened to those two poor unfortunate children and then to the animals they encountered parallels the arrogance of racism and white privilege.

Now, I am most emphatically not saying the parents in either case were arrogant; far from it.

But they were certainly benefiting from an arrogant human mindset that said destroying a gorilla’s native habitat for human needs was okay and imprisoning those surviving gorillas in a small enclosure was okay, a human mindset that said building elaborate recreational facilities in the middle of a deadly predator’s native habitat was okay and if the animals did not go along with the plan then they were expendable.

No, I am not saying any number of gorillas or alligators are equal to one human life.

But I am saying the families who experienced these terrible events wouldn’t have experienced them if there hadn’t been a presumption on somebody’s part that it was okay to imprison large primates for the amusement of humans or build human vacation resorts in the middle of gator country.

Those families who suffered those horrible encounters certainly did not arrogantly demand that the zoo or resort be built and animals exploited for their personal benefit…

…but when they saw there was a system for that already in place, they thought, hey, why not?

No, strike that. They didn’t think anything. Going to the zoo or the resort was as natural to them as breathing. All their lives they had been told that zoos and resorts were good things and if the topic of the animals in them ever came up, it was probably dismissed with a PR claim that the animals were actually safer and better off now than they had been before.

A few weeks ago we had dinner with a Dear Friend whom we’ve known for close to thirty years. I won’t identify Dear Friend any further other than to say they’re slightly older than us.

Dear Friend told us they didn’t like President Obama.

Okay, why?

“The country has gotten worse under him.”

By what metrics?

“Well, the economy…”

Whip out the smartphone*;
a few quick keystrokes and…
nope, economy’s doing fine.
We’re enjoying a recovery.

“Those numbers don’t mean anything.”

Those numbers are the same
statistics and measurements
both parties use when they’re
in control, they’re not whipped
up in some publicity hack’s office.

“Crime is going up…”

Another quick flurry of keystrokes.
Nope, crime has been falling for
the last two decades. The numbers
vary from year to year, of course,
but the overall trend is down.
Last year, in fact, had less crime
than the year before.

So says the FBI database.

“Well, maybe nationwide, but
here in Los Angeles it’s going up.”

More keystrokes. Nope, crime
in L.A. is falling. too, about at the
same level as the national average.

“Well, maybe in Los Angeles as
a whole, but in my neighborhood…”

Ahh, and now the little light comes on.
Dear Friend, your neighborhood isn’t
becoming more dangerous.

It’s becoming more brown.

Now, Dear Friend is as kind and as generous a person as you could hope to meet. If Dear Friend was told there was a non-white family that needed help, they’d chip in what they could. Dear Friend certainly has several non-white people whom they love dearly in their circle of friends.

And Dear Friend certainly wouldn’t go around slandering or libeling non-white people.

But Dear Friend grew up immersed in a culture that said, overtly and indirectly, explicitly and implicitly, by word and by image and by deed, that there was something wrong with being non-white, and if not wrong wrong, then certainly not as right as being white.

And Dear Friend has never questioned this.

Dear Friend, like the parents cited above, would never question why we have zoos, or what those zoos mean in the larger scheme of things. Dear Friend might recognize in the back of their head that a resort for families that abuts right against an alligator habitat might not be the wisest thing in the world, but it would never occur to Dear Friend to question the whole idea of having a resort.

That’s what we mean when we say “white privilege”.

“No white skin off my nose.”

Which brings us full circle to Magilla Gorilla and Wally Gator, and why this cartoon resonated so deeply with me.

I grew up with these characters as a child, and encountered them in various professional venues when I was writing for animation.

Both lead lives of anxiety and longing based not on what they would have wanted in their natural habitat, but on demands placed upon them by the humans who dominate them.

And mind you, for all intents and purposes, these characters are the equals to human beings: They speak, they can plan, they even wear clothes.

Despite this, and for purely arbitrary reasons, they are regulated to animal status in their cartoons; conversely Huckleberry Hound and Top Cat are treated as equals by the humans in their cartoons.

Magilla Gorilla has been told his function in life is to be the pet of a human being; he is typically found confined to a pet store at the beginnings of each episode until a new owner is located, but by the end of the cartoon his hopes are dashed and he’s returned to the pet shop.

Conversely, Wally Gator is trapped in a zoo and constantly schemes to escape; when he does he is returned to his pen.

It would be a gross oversimplification to say Magilla Gorilla represents the African-American experience in America while Wally Gator represents the Native American experience but dang, they fit, don’t they?

The more I thought about the cartoon above, the more I realize the reason it resonated with me so strongly was because it reflected a very real change that is going on in American racial and cultural attitudes right now.

And a big part of that change is that various minority and ostracized groups in America are realizing they no longer need the permission of white America to live fulfilling lives.

In the cartoon above Magilla Gorilla and Wally Gator realize they have no friends in the human camp, their lives are circumscribed by roles the humans have forced them into. They realize they will receive no support or protection from the humans, either.

The only choice left is to look after one another or live and die miserably alone.

Here’s another cartoon, this one from Sophie LaBelle of Assigned Male webcomic.

MGWG assigned male LGBT comic

Not a funny cartoon, pretty tragic actually, but it uses humor (okay, sarcasm) to make a point:

The privileged always want to make it about them.

And minorities and ostracized groups are getting tired of it, and are starting to say no.

And the fact they’re doing that is making some privileged people lose their s4!t.

So that’s the way my mind works,
those are the connections I see.

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* I am a total fncking asshole when it comes to using my smartphone in an argument; I will not let you fob off some egregious piece of b.s. without a fact check. My late aunt used to say, “Put that thing away!” whenever she saw me reaching for it.

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Bill Clinton in 2016

18/05/2016

Normally I try to avoid direct political commentary on this blog, but this isn’t going to be a normal election year and so I’m going to posting a few observations between now and November.

This one is an air clearer; it’s something I think needs to be openly acknowledged before discussion can shift to a more current topic.

And we need, both as party partisans and American citizens as a whole, to acknowledge what went on here, and why it is important, and what we need to do to improve things in the future.

For those willing to face the ugly truth, proceed apace.

For the rest of you,
here’s a cute gif of a
cat eating spaghetti.

animated cat slurps spaghetti

Read the rest of this article »

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Duty Now For The Future

4/05/2016

Criswell rest of our livesI direct your attention to this fascinating article in the Washington Post:
Six maps that will make you rethink the world

It’s derived from a new book by Parag Khanna called Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization.

It’s a glimpse into the world of the latter part of the 21st century, 2050CE+ or thenabouts.

If you are a climate change denialist,
this is your cue to go visit a porn site.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff here, but I’ll let the article speak for itself.

I will say this for North American readers based on his predictions (and these are my take aways from the article, Khanna does not necessarily address all these particulars):

  1. While a political entity called The United States Of America may exist half a century from now, it will not be the geopolitical powerhouse it is today. [1]
  2. Much of the US and Mexican / Central American populations will be disrupted by climate change and move north, many crossing the border and heading on into Canada.
  3. Canada and Russia will become the breadbasket of the world.
  4. Denmark, which thanks to its claims on Greenland will be reveling in vast untapped natural resources as its glaciers melt, is gonna be fnckin’ RICH!
  5. The new global trade routes will be located through the Arctic region, which will be ice free for most of the year; life there will be bracing but not impossible.
  6. Those US citizens remaining in America will be working in thermal / solar energy jobs or supporting same; agriculture in the South and Southwest will quite literally dry up. The great Dust Bowl Migration of the Depression will be dwarfed by the population shift northward. [2]

The article focuses on the-glass-is-half-full side of the equation,
and as the old saw goes, it’s an ill wind that blows no one any good.

As noted, Canada and Russia will benefit from global warming, exporting food to the rest of the world. Trade routes will flourish through the Arctic, avoiding high tension choke points we have today.

But those blessings are only
the heads side of the coin;
there’s a tails side, too.

Solar energy will be a huge industry, but only because climate change is going to turns vast swaths of the planet into deserts.

The southern hemisphere is going to take a huge economic hit but will probably muddle through.

China is going to spend half its time in partnership with Africa, developing and exploiting the resources of that vast continent. It will be for them what the American West was for the United States, and if they learn from our mistakes and treat the Africans with more respect and dignity than we did our native peoples, they will be a dominant force in the world for many centuries to come.

A new Chinese-African ethnic group will emerge.

The other half of its time, China will probably be involved in a never ending series of slugfests with India.

As lowland areas of Pakistan and Bangladesh are flooded by melting Himalayan glaciers and rising sea levels, tens of millions of people will be on the move, disrupting and crowding India and Southeast Asia even more.

They’ve got to go somewhere and China is the closest spot available.

What’s left culturally of the United States will be found along the northern border we share with Canada. [3]

Southern US culture will vanish, the last shreds of the old Confederacy finally drying up and blowing away in the northward migration. [4]

The agricultural base of the American South, Midwest, and Southwest will cease to exist and be replaced by a solar energy based culture — and probably one funded by China, who will have no patience for archaic American ethnic BS.

Among the first generation of emigrants north — and if historical models hold true, skipping a generation to the third and fourth generations in the new land — there will be a great nostalgic look back at a mostly imaginary America. Americana — which will either whitewash or romanticize the historical struggles of the United States and the people in it — will be a hugely popular genre. [5]

While there will be a great temptation to blame these changes on this party‘s or that party’s political intransigence, the truth is this will be larger than politics.

Politics is going to be like a monkey dancing on the back of a whale: It may do it well, and it may do it successfully enough to ride the whale for a long, long time, but the whale is moving of its own accord and nothing the monkey can do will change it.

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[1] Think it can’t happen that fast? Ask the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Czarist Russia, and the Ottomans how long it took them.

[2] Canada would be well advised to prepare for this huge influx of climate refugees from both the US and Mexico. There will be plenty of agricultural jobs for them to fill, but if Canada isn’t ready for them, they will disrupt Canadian culture and society. My advice is to tell them to drop their old attitudes and allegiances at the border and become good Canucks, eh. That’s going to require a lot of re-education.

[3] It’s not impossible at some future point, perhaps in the 22nd century but maybe even sooner, Canada will absorb the US.

[4] They won’t be the only ones. West Coast culture and Gulf Coast culture will also evaporate under the relentless glare of the sun. Enjoy ‘em while you can, folks.

[5] It will be coexisting with newer genres born out of the coming great migration, and probably never as the dominant genre, but it will be there.

 

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There Are No Skeletons In My Closet

4/05/2016

animated jason skeletons

Like Jason, all mine are out
in the open, hacking away.

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Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God

3/05/2016

smith_w_eugene 01smith_w_eugene 04smith_w_eugene 02smith_w_eugene 03smith_w_eugene 05

photos by E. Eugene Smith (1949)

read the poem
“Beyond W. Eugene Smith’s Photographic Essay Life Without Germs”
by John Kinsella  

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Thinkage

18/04/2016

“The American Empire, especially states in the ‘bible belt,’ love vengeance and a blood-for-blood way of living. As Jesus people, we must contend with living our lives under the umbrella of a violent empire who wants nothing to do with the peaceful way of Jesus– just as Jesus too had to contend with life in a violent empire.

“Like Jesus, we must have the courage to stand amidst this empire and speak up to say, “you have heard it said that it’s okay to take an eye for an eye, but we tell you that you should love instead!”

“Like Jesus, we must continue to speak into culture and remind them that only the person without sin is able to administer the lethal injection.

“Like Jesus, we must lovingly speak into the lives around us and say, “go and learn what this means: God desires mercy.”

“Like Jesus, we must have the courage to tell those around us, ‘put away your sword!’

“And, like Jesus, we must be willing to endure persecution at the hands of the religious elite for teaching his message of love and mercy.” — Benjamin L. Corey, “Georgia Execution Proves We Love Vengeance Over Restoration

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Shut Your God Damned Mouth

15/04/2016

I am using the term “God damned” in it’s proper Christian theological context: Jesus of Nazareth, whom we Christians recognize as God incarnate, very specifically condemned judging other people. Further, in the Old Testament when God Himself offered the covenant from Mt. Sinai, He admonished against bearing false witness against your neighbor.

So let’s proclaim
a digging implement
a digging implement
and proceed apace,
hmm?

Recently political hacks, in an effort to appeal to the ever decreasing white and/or Christianist bigot vote, have passed or introduced a number of bills designed (among other things) to keep the icky transgender people out of public restrooms.

anti LGBT bill never about bathrooms

And make no doubt about it, this part of these bills is a blatant attempt to drive transgender people out of the public sphere: A bearded masculine looking transgender man would be required to use restrooms and facilities reserved for females, a feminine looking transgender woman could be required to use facilities reserved for males, in both cases regardless of their current sexual identity.

she has penis he has vagina 2

The reason for this is a completely groundless fear that a transgender male in a ladies room will suddenly snap at the sight and smell of females defecating and urinating and revert back to a presumed heterosexual male starting point, attempting to rape any “true” woman within reach.

Go read that highlighted text again. Keep reading it until you realize just how damned stupid and bigoted and hateful it is…

…to heterosexual males.

Seriously.

The rationale behind the bathroom ban is that heterosexual males are rapacious sub-human filth who are unfit for polite company, that they are incapable of self-control, that no force on earth short of the full weight of the law can keep them from raping and murdering.

Penn Jillette on morality w o God

Now, truth be told,
there is an argument
to be made in that case.

We have plenty of heterosexual males who have committed heinous crimes such as sexual assault.

For the most part, however, they don’t commit sexual assaults in areas where they might be discovered and interrupted by witnesses and/or law enforcement.[1]

No, when heterosexual males rape and murder, they either like to have privacy or else operate in a pack large enough to prevent / thwart / intimidate any witnesses or rescuers.

So this law as crafted does absolutely nothing to protect people from sexual predators as those sexual predators will be attacking victims regardless of what the law says about who can / cannot use a particular public restroom.

For example, we have conservative moralist politicians who have been arrested soliciting sex from other males in public restrooms, we have high school wrestling coaches who seduce their charges in locker rooms, we have purported Christian ministers raping children in their care.

NC longest term speaker

Do we need a law that specifically forbids conservative politicians from using public restrooms? Wrestling coaches? Preachers?

No, of course not; no moral or ethical person will sexually assault another; those capable of sexual assault will not be deterred by laws.

We don’t need laws to define the crime,
we need laws to define the punishment.

We have to be able to say, “Because you did X, you will now have your freedom limited for Y period of time” in order to insure the criminal does not victimize more people during that period.[2]

So there is nothing — nothing – these bigoted bills will provide in added security to potential victims.

Rape and sexual assault remain punishable crimes regardless of the location of the crime or what the rapist and victim are / are not wearing.

All the bills do is let smug anusoids demand other people show them their plumbing so they can decide if they get to sit in the front of the bus use that particular restroom or not.

Sound familiar?

NC rest rooms

Now, several turd mongers have been quick to rush and report violations of a citizen’s right to privacy in a public restroom.

They cite a couple of recent cases in which voyeurs violated the right of privacy of other people by sneaking cameras into restrooms; one such voyeur disguised himself as a female to do so.

Folks, they’ve been doing this for decades.

Peeping Toms

Voyeurs, by and large, are not transgender people seeking to feel comfortable in their identity but low grade sex offenders who are aroused by spying on other people.[3] They are morally and emotionally sick people who regardless of their personal predilections, do not respect interpersonal boundaries.[4]

Banning transgender persons from certain restrooms will not protect victims from voyeurs.

Imprisoning voyeurs will protect victims of voyeurism by denying the voyeurs the opportunity to sneak photos.

But again, none of this has anything to do with the actual issue of the role of transgender people in this society.

It has everything to do with bullies and bigots desperately trying to find one last thing they can gloat over before they are flushed down the toilet of history.

NC look away

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[1] And those that do are mentally deranged to some point or another, such as the maniac who followed a little boy into a public restroom and slit his throat even though the child’s aunt was standing outside, or the President of the United States who had sex with an intern in the Oval Office. Those offenders are either too insane to recognize the risk of exposure they are facing, or else they get off on the thrill of possible discovery. In the latter case, passing laws against doing something will only increase their desire to do it!

[2] One of the Manson family “girls” (now in her seventies) is up for parole. From the Tate-LaBianca murders all the way to the various crimes and murders committed by other members after Manson himself was thrown in jail, the Manson family has demonstrated themselves to be singularly psychotic, remorseless, and exceedingly dangerous. Any Manson family member serving a life sentence needs to stay behind bars for the rest of their life: The family as a group has repeatedly demonstrated they are capable of causing great harm up to and including murder, and if that means a genuinely repentant family member has to stay incarcerated even though they are no longer part of the madness, so be it; they have proven they cannot be trusted.

[3] Whenever one discusses what arouses any human being, questions to be asked have to include consent. Anybody who gets aroused taking pictures of people in what should be rightfully private settings is perfectly free to hire a model to pose for them under simulated condition, or to obtain permission from a partner to spy on them, or read fictional stories or watch commercial porn which, despite claims to be genuine voyeurism, is almost always professional models posing for money after signing a release form. Professional pornographers, as opposed to the creeps who run the revenge photo sites, do not have a viable business model that sees them getting thrown in jail and still turning a profit; the creeps are not motivated by money and are willing to face legal repercussions in order to inflict harm on others.

[4] To some degree we are all voyeurs insofar as we are curious what goes on behind closed doors: This is why tabloid news remains so popular, this is why we are amused by candid photos that capture people unawares doing amusing things. There are lines that can be drawn, however, and while snapping a photo of a cosplayer at a convention using a cell phone in an out of character manner can be considered harmless and charming, stalking that cosplayer to catch them in an embarrassing or revealing moment is not. Regarding the University of Toronto incident, the circumstances are clear: All human beings have a reasonable right to privacy in their domiciles, be they private homes or dormitories, and sneaking a photo of a person in a locker room is no different from creeping up on their home’s bathroom window to snap a shot. If a person is streaking in broad daylight across the university commons, they have no reasonable right to privacy and can feign no outrage if their photo is taken. It’s not that difficult a concept to master, folks.

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Tony Millionaire Calls The Cops

11/04/2016

Tony Millionaire self portrait as Uncle Gabby

Police: Yes?

I just saw a guy touching my car door at midnight.

Did you chase him and/or shoot him, sir?

No, I yelled at him.

Good. What did he look like, sir?

It was in the shadows at midnight, so he was dark.
If it would have been noon he might have been light.

What direction was he going?

He was going down the street.
Can you catch him and arrest him?

No, sir.

Ok, thanks. Goodbye.

Thanx to Tony Millionaire granting
permission to post this.  Visit Tony on
Facebook and his website.

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“You Keep Using That Word…”

9/04/2016

words1

The human concept of “God” is to the true divine nature of God what the flag is to the land & people referred to as the United States of America.

The map, as Alfred Korzybski was so fond of pointing out, is not the territory.

Neither is the flag the nation,
nor the word the reality.

Read the rest of this article »

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Bill Hicks On Pornography

31/03/2016

Bill Hicks on pornography

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