I need Kim Jong-Un to sell my house

You would think that living as a comical Bond villain who builds c-grade nuclear weapons and runs labor death camps would get one put into the bad guy column pretty easily.  Then folks would treat that person like the living Hitler they were, and we’d respond accordingly.

You’d be wrong.

People are fascinated by Kim Jong-Un in a manner I just find weird.  When his sister showed up at the Olympics the press covered her like she was some celebrity Kardashian.  Never mind that all those expensive clothes she wore come at the expense of her starving people.  Here was a royal figure the press could dig into with glee.

_101012272_koreadinner.jpg

And take a gander at this Versailles picture from the BBC with this bizarre fawning line:

“North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un is to be served a Swiss potato dish at a summit dinner with the South, in an apparent attempt to remind him of school.”

Oh my, what an interesting line.  It’s almost like it’s totally cool if you run an extermination camp, as long as you’re unique.  Selective morality is awesome!  Just ask most of today’s Western elite.

But really, I need Kim to sell my house too.  Because the latest fiction is this guy is committed to giving up his nuclear weapons.  Kim said so, so China says so, so does Trump, the media, whoever.

People just buy this shit like it’s true, because they really don’t seem to think things through.  But, I guess, that’s to be expected when their whole lives are focused upon the most recent controversial Tweet, what Trump said to who, and who is outraged at who today.

But I’ll call this one right now, the celebrity cottage boy in Kim is not giving up his nukes.  Daddy played the same game with the planet and got away with it.  North Korea still has nukes.  We’ve been down this road before.

If you still don’t believe me, or think just now there might be some hope of resolution, then please bask in this entirely unrelated photo of Gaddafi as he was beaten, sexually assaulted, and mutilated by a crowd before expiring.  Note the guy nonchalantly smoking in the bottom right corner.  In the end, tis nothing to kill a king.

screen_shot_2011-10-24_at_1.39.46_pm.png

Trust me, Kim’s not giving up his nukes.  Kim is playing everybody for fools.  Again.  That anybody swallows this nonsense as reality tells me Kim’s the guy to sell my home.  I could have a swarm of crocodiles living in the attic, Kim could make the sale happen.

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60 Minutes interviews alien smuggler Erga Uticus

A few weeks ago we wrote morbidly about how formerly respectable news organizations had sacked their own credibility in order to get one guy at any cost.  So apparently it’s now perfectly normal to have an interview with a porn star posted everywhere like it’s real news.  But man, things got even more out of hand afterwards.

Next they drug out the widely known Psilon smuggler, scoundrel, slave labor proprietor, jai-alai extraordinaire, and amateur bridge player Erga Uticus for the backstory of his past interactions with Trump.  If you missed this segment, not to worry, below’s a snippet.  For the complete transcript, just write to us, and please make sure to include your credit card info, because producing publications isn’t cheap:

The Arcturus Project – Erga Uticus Interview Transcript

C/O Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation

1794 Aguiyi Ironsi Street

Abuja 900001, Nigeria

Untitled

60 Minutes: So what you’re saying it is was difficult to work with him?

Erga Uticus: Oh, you have no idea.  I’ve dealt with some weird creatures before.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to fence goods via a Silicoid arms dealer?  But Trump, he was the worst.

60M: You were burdened?

EU: I was burdened.

60M: Do you regret working with him?

EU: Well, that’s difficult to explain.  I mean, I got paid, man did I get fucking paid, but I just don’t know if it was worth the effort.  The guy bleeds you, he makes you scrape every dollar out of him.  Don’t get me wrong, I respect, gotta respect a man who knows how to gut the guy at the other end of the table, but by The Emperor’s blessing it’s just too much work.

60M: What did you think when you heard he was elected our president?

EU: You gotta understand, where I come from the rules are different.  I figured (in my own mindset) he’d liquidate all his enemies overnight.  He’d have a pile of skulls dumped on the White House lawn by morning.  But, then I remembered you all have different rules out here.

60M: I see.

EU: Then I thought he would rig the game to funnel cash to his own business interests at the expense of the little guy.  But then I realized that every businessman already does that anyway, so it was kind of a mute point.

60M: That’s very true.

Giant Octopi, The Little Guy, and the curse of the Trump lens

I would gather that if I walked up to ten people on America’s streets and asked them what Qualcomm is, nine of them would provide one of these answers:

1) the quality control program my stupid boss(es) make me use

2) an internet or phone company

3) a robot assassin bent on revenge for the untimely murder of his girl

4) a blank stare indicating the person’s desire not to talk to idiots like me

Only one in ten would know they’re carrying Qualcomm in their pockets.  If the brave new modern world is one where your smartphone is more important than having two functioning hands, then Qualcomm is more important to your life than your ability to digest food.

Qualcomm chips and semiconductor technology run in almost every new thing of the internet age.  They have a monopoly on the business that would make even the most jaded of 19th Century railroad tycoons sweat with envy.

For years Qualcomm has been investigated, fined, sued, yelled at by its customers, rivals, and competitors as one of the very worst of the Giant Octopi.  Qualcomm’s two biggest current problems are a massive lawsuit from Apple (which I find delicious given Apple’s known desire to cheat its own customers) and a $1.2B fine from the EU’s competition watchdogs.  Over the last decade Qualcomm has likely kept food on the table for at least 13,487 lawyers, judges, court clerks, court security guards, and court security doggies.

Nobody knows about these things or cares.  To them, their Apple or Samsung smartphone is Apple or Samsung.  They don’t know or care that the chip that makes it all possible is from Qualcomm.

(As a brief aside, you need to admire the gall, guile, and skill of Intel’s marketing goons that got them front and center in the psyche of every computer user on the planet.  In the 1990’s anybody who knew anything about a computer knew about Intel chips.  You bought computers based on what Intel processor it had, and barely cared whether Dell or Compaq made the overall machine.)

So for those who don’t know what Qualcomm is, or are too busy wondering who Jennifer Aniston’s ninth husband will be, Qualcomm has been under a hostile takeover bid by Broadcom.  Broadcom is another chipmaker based in Singapore.  The purchase price offered was $117B.  Yes, $117B.  Or enough money to manufacture ten large aircraft carriers with swanky Slavic tracksuit racing stripes included.

This deal was always controversial because it would have further increased a trend in American business lately: CONSOLIDATION.  There are only four major American airlines left.  There are three major American cellular providers.  Americans pay four or five times more for cable internet compared to other Western nations, and get slower speeds for the privilege.

So it was always a concern that Qualcomm and Broadcom could become one company, when Qualcomm is already essentially a Monopoly Man of the Giant Octopi.  The question was if the Trump administration would allow the deal to proceed, or block it on anti-trust grounds?

Well, all of that’s changed yesterday.  What’s happened instead is Trump has disallowed the deal on national security grounds.  Essentially, USA is not going to allow THE American internet chipmaker to be owned by foreigners.  Trump signed an order as such.

The Washington Post, as the newspaper of the capital, thus covers this story.

Because this is politics, and it’s DC, the article must of course focus upon Trump.  According to the Post, Trump has signed this order because of his “protectionist instincts”.  They even got some guy (everybody loves the anonymous quote now) to state that Trump wants the lesson “don’t screw with the government” and that the order is “brutal”.  Again, “It smacks of anger on the part of the government to me. This feels a little more personal to me.”  How dramatic.  I’m seething with excitement at the rage drama associated with this esoteric technology topic.

So what we have here is a situation where one of the worst Monopoly Man companies on the planet wants to merge with another member of the Giant Octopi and then make the situation for the consumer even worse with a super-super Giant Octopi company.  The US government stops this effort, for any reason at all, and the answer of the capital’s newspaper is it’s about Trump?  Really?

You know, I’ve avoided saying this for a long time, because to me there’s almost no point addressing Trump.  It is what it is.  People think what they’ll think.  Many people seem to have a visceral emotional reaction to Trump (one way or the other) that I just can’t understand.  But essentially it’s this: Trump will be gone someday (likely in three years).  Trump is who he is, for all the awfulness that he is.  But one day he’ll be gone.  But the Washington Post will still be here.

If I was a member of The Washington Post, I think I’d make it a point to understand that.  Because essentially what has happened is The Washington Post, The New York Times, and most other major news organizations have mortgaged what little benign credibility they had left, in order to get at one singular man.  I get it, I hate Trump too, but that credibility is never going to return.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not naïve, and certainly wasn’t before Trump came onto the scene, but it’s gone over the edge.

Hey remember when it was generally considered suspicious when a newspaper article quoted anonymous sources?  Now it seems every news article is based on anonymous sources.  Now I guess we just have to take it on faith that they didn’t get the quote from some guy down by the Sizzler.  But seeing as how we can’t trust them [get Trump at any price] why would I believe anything an anonymous source says?

I’m never going to look at The Washington Post the same way again.  It will always be an organization whose handlers sold their souls and journalistic integrity to get at one guy.  To the point that they can’t even write an article about one of the most consequential technology topics of this year, without making it all about Trump.

Normally this wouldn’t be a massive problem.  You’d be like, whatever, go read another newspaper each day.  True.  Except that every, single, person, in DC who makes decisions (Democrat or Republican) reads the Post every day.  As in, the people who run government, and make decisions that impact people’s lives every day, are fed information by a publication that essentially has no credibility.  That’s not a good place for any democracy to be in.

If the Post was a responsible newspaper, or at least understood their place in society, they would cover the Broadcom / Qualcomm deal through the lens of the status of monopolies, how the deal impacts American consumers (who pay more each day for their stuff because Qualcomm is corrupt), and also address the completely valid national security implications of handing Qualcomm to a foreign buyer.  But instead, it’s about Trump and Trump and Trump, and the Trump lens.  For everything.

That doesn’t help the Little Guy, it doesn’t help America, and that’s a sad, sad thing.

Qualcomm-Logo.jpg

That this deal is dead, for any reason at all, is a good thing.

why is CNN on everywhere?

You get to the airport and CNN is on at the gate. You go hide in the bar and CNN is above the drinks. You check into the hotel and they’ve got CNN on the wall.

All last week I was strapped to four work colleagues for travel. Everywhere we went there’s CNN on some screen. I suppose I normally don’t notice it when I travel. I don’t pay attention. But the four of them were all into this political craziness. I’m seated at some hotel bar with them and CNN is literally on a screen at the table. There was no escape.

I wanted to run and hide under some coats. I don’t get cable news. It’s like some kind of putrid disease. Everything is breaking news. Every station is biased. The talking heads shout at each other even though they’re so dumb they likely forget where their chauffer put their car keys.

But people drink this stuff in to their detriment. I think if you strapped a live human to a chair and forced him/her to watch four hours of CNN and four hours of Fox News a day for a month, they’d come out the back end of the process as a truly demented person.

Why does everybody choose CNN for their airport/hotel/bar? Why can’t they put sports on? Or a channel about cats? I think it’s because CNN was one of the original cable channels and the original news channel. It’s the glory days of 1993 when television was just starting to dominate our lives. One upon a time there wasn’t television at every single darn airport/hotel/bar. And CNN actually used to attempt to be serious and even somewhat classy. Remember Vader’s, “This is CNN”?   No more.

Well, we at TAP are here to help. Instead of harming people’s brains, we want to improve the quality of all our lives. So we propose that CNN be replaced on all travel screens with The Arcturus Channel.

The Arcturus Channel will have content fit for the brain of a five year old for most of the day. It’ll show nature videos of giraffes, and tigers, and whales and all kinds of Earth stuff. We’ll do a whole three hour special about how awesome volcanoes are. It’ll be like all those nature channels were before every cable channel became the same generic stuff with different channel names.

And from 9pm on, we’ll have The Arcturus Channel (After Dark), for us adults, after the kiddies have stopped traveling. So when you’re exhausting waiting for a connection at Houston Bush at 10pm you have something decent to watch. It’ll show monkey’s copulating, gazelles getting ripped apart by predators, and snow bears devouring baby seals.

Overall, The Arcturus Channel shall focus upon nature topics that are meant to calm your brain rather than disturb it. No politics, no controversy, just something to make you happy while you grind through your journey on the way to a hopeful happy destination. What a novel concept.

we’re all apparently going to die

While driving down the highway carrying on with my joyful day, bound for a cool Christmas party, I was interrupted by the government to remind me that I’m going to die.

For you see, the highway information signs told me “if you see something, say something” and provided me with a number to call.  This was on every single electronic sign.  All of them.

So this is of course the government approved way of telling you to be vigilant for terrorism.  Merry Christmas!  Happy New Year!  But don’t forget to watch out for pipe bombs!  You don’t want to see your Holiday Season ended with some bloody flesh infused shrapnel, do you?  Love, Your Government.

But the sign didn’t tell me any of this.  It just said, “if you see something, say something”.  Well, I see things all the time.  Should I call the number every time I see something?  If I didn’t think it would get me added to the terrorism watch list, I’d call that number and be like, “Hey, I ah, I see a bird.  Just thought I’d say something to you about it.  Talk to you all again soon.”

They also posted these signs all around my work that say the exact same thing.  The government is of course doing this because they want you to know they’re on the case.  They’re here to fight terrorism and keep you safe.  It’s why Obama has given a couple of speeches about it lately.

Let’s leave aside for the moment that folks who actually see something tend not to say something for fear of being accused a racist, which is why the San Bernardino killers’ neighbors said nothing.  This is a worthy concern when you can’t read any online publication nowadays without seeing at least two or three people accused of various kinds of racism each day.  Even your 18 month old cousin is a dirty racist I’m sure.

Let’s also leave aside that probably about 100 Americans have died in domestic terrorism related gunfire since September 12th, 2001.  In that time, over 400,000 Americans have died via gunfire.  You can be pro-gun or anti-gun, but those are the facts.

So what’s really going on here?  To me, it’s quite simple, all you need to do is read between the lines of the placard:

dhs

The Department of Homeland Security needs their logo on this, why?  Why would they need to put their logo on there, why not just leave the statement as is?

Because, of course, the DHS needs to exist.  The first goal of any human organization is to ensure its survival.  DHS wants you to know that they care.  DHS wants you to know that if you see something, you should say something.  Even though you’ll never see anything.

You’ll be struck by lightning before you’ll see one pipe bomb in your life, I assure you.  But thanks DHS, it’s good to know you’re there, because when we’re scared, you have a reason to exist.

on death and social media

The odds of you checking out on camera via violence or accident are infinitesimal. You’re probably sixteen times more likely to get struck by lightning. Your last moments are hopefully to occur peacefully alongside family. And while that event isn’t going to end well for you, at least it’s what we’d consider natural.

I’m of the opinion that despite the exciting pages of history, the vast majority of humans have never seen or experienced brutal violence. Still, when there were no cops around and everybody carried a club, I’m sure we had our fair share of cave related deaths. Or vicious renaissance era coffee house brawls.

The difference between today’s world and say, a Vienna stabbing in 1734, is that everybody’s holding a camera. More than that, everybody’s holding a full-motion-video camera right in their pockets. Even the fixed-site big cameras are different now. It used to be the only time a security camera’s footage was shown is on the news. Now a security video makes its way to the Internets six minutes later.

Whereas we were once a race that traditionally never saw actual violent death with our own eyes, now every single person carries it at their fingertips. And please understand that I consider this light years from movie or video game violence. One is real, the other is not. It’s that simple.

A thought occurred to me a few days back while watching the video of the Tianjin blast in China. Put simply: “Is this wrong?” And then: “What is it doing to us?”

Everybody loves explosions. We’ve been enjoying fireworks for thousands of years. So like countless others, I got a real kick out of watching one of the biggest blasts you’re likely to ever see.

Here’s one of the better examples. Warning, big time profanity in it (even more than you’d usually read on this blog):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q04fV4j7A1w

Cool, right? But if you really took a step back and thought about it, as these major blasts occurred, probably about fifty firefighters were dying, incinerated. While it’s neat for us to watch, it’s also rather horrifying, and deeply disturbing.

You can take it a step further too. Here’s an example of security footage that found its way online quickly because some guy took smartphone video of the camera’s monitor. It’s of a guy having the blast collapse the entire entranceway and wall in front of him. In other words, his last few seconds of life:

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=7a3_1439409813

If we’re not careful, our inner-freak-human-self can degenerate to the part of our psyche that used to get a kick out of watching medieval public torture executions. It’s a special form of darkness.

The tale continues with yesterday’s murder of two reporters live on camera by a truly deranged individual. You had the unique ability to watch the killing from the perspective of both the victims and the killer. It doesn’t get any worse than this. Oh, but wait, except it does. For the Islamic State (neither Islamic nor a State) goons have posted some of the more vicious videos in human history, hundreds of them.

Tens-of-millions, perhaps hundreds-of-millions, of humans have watched these videos. I’m sure tens-of-millions worldwide have watched the Virginia murders from both perspectives in the last 24 hours.

I intentionally have never watched an Islamic State (neither Islamic nor a State) video. But I’ll admit it, Virginia I did, both perspectives. And I think it’s broken my brain, and a corner’s been turned.

“Is this wrong?” Yep. You bet.

“What is it doing to us?” Nothing good.

We’re supposed to evolve, right? Thanks to the Internets we now possess the ability to watch somebody die, right before our eyes, at the click of a button, just because we feel like. Or because we’re fascinated by it. Or because we’re just curious. Or because everybody else watched it. Or because maybe in our dark-inner-selves we enjoy it.

Or maybe you think it’s important that we watch, so we truly understand the darkness we’re facing? No, instead you should read any number of United Nations reports on what the Islamic State (neither Islamic nor a State) has done. It’s all there in black-and-white. You get a real good idea of just how truly wicked those dudes are by reading ten pages. We don’t need a snuff video to understand or appreciate evil.

No more. Not for me. I’m going to try and evolve. Certain things are wrong even if many have accepted them as commonplace. The culture seems to have decided that you can drink your coffee and watch somebody die. No thanks, I’m getting off this train.

Or put in another more practical way, the Islamic State (neither Islamic nor a State) goons and yesterday’s Virginia killer have one thing in common: They did the videos because they want you to watch.

It’s generally considered a bad idea to wake up in the morning, pour your coffee, and do what evil wants.

Like all human inventions, social media and the Internets are going to do a great deal of good and bad for us all. Choose the good. Discard the bad. Evolve. Do good. Live well. And hopefully others do the same.

It’ll never happen, but perhaps think of the positive change to humanity if some day, an evildoer posts their murder video online, and nobody watches.

internet death

No more.

the current sadness of American politics

I’m pretty sure if the Founder Fathers are boozing it up in Valhalla right now, that they’re also shouting, overturning tables, and generally pissed off with what they’re observing.  Everybody seems inclined to pick a side.  I refuse to pick a side when it seems both sides are in the same business of destroying us all.

Obama took to the stage today to say such encouraging things as:

“Many of the same people who made the case for war with Iraq are now opposing the Iran deal…”

“I am not saying this to be provocative,” Obama said. “I am stating a fact . . . the choice we have is some kind of war, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not in three months, but soon.”

I’m pretty sure he said all of these things to be provocative.   And so, a guy who came to Washington to apparently change Washington, has fallen victim at every point to the typical unhelpful Washington tactic, demonize your opponents, at every opportunity.  I tend to, somewhat, give Obama the benefit of the doubt in that he may not have been this way before 2008.  But surely, at this point, he’s as much a part of the problem as anybody else.

On the other side we have a circus which would make a medieval bazaar look tame.  Tonight, 10 people are going to “debate” for the honor of leading the free world.  And by debate I mean they’ll answer canned questions by hack reporters trying to play “gotcha” while they read off sound bites in an attempt to get noticed for that key “one-liner”.  In other words, the very definition of style over substance.

I think Trump’s a fringe goon unfit to lead a lemonade stand.  And I wouldn’t vote for him.  But I truly hope he completely detonates tonight’s debate format.  It’s truly a farce, a disgusting way to pick a presidential candidate.  But there will be 27 more of them run by both parties before the election.  Swell.

But soon, Trump will be gone.  And then the other side will have their own debate using the same format.  And then eventually we’ll have an election to pick the next person who gets the honor to become president, go to Washington, and demonize their opponents without conducting anything reasonable.  Gee, isn’t it all great.  What’s not to be excited about!  [waves American flag; while wearing 11 campaign buttons; singing America the Beautiful; drunk; in an unlit basement]

And nothing will change.  The Founding Fathers will still shout from Valhalla.  And the rest of us not involved in politics will still hope these idiots somehow don’t manage to destroy us all.

debatestage

textbook picture Circa 2345 describing the key reasons for the downfall of the Republic