Sunday, February 20, 2011

MST3k

Is a deep, everlasting love of mine. Surprisingly I've been able to introduce new people to the show, and create new fans for the series. I'll admit I haven't been the best about paying for RiffTrax, though they do offer a great riff for modern movies (not always a big fan of the 'submitted' entries not from the MST3k crew).

Its weird reflecting on this; I don't speak to everyone I've ever shared a love of MST3k with, but I suppose as almost all things in life, such is temporal. More or less temporal than the boring ass class of "Ideas Shaping the 21st Century" I'm not sure, considering that I'm not completely ignorant of history.

Looks like positive things are happening in Egypt, lets hope free market capitalism doesn't subvert it into another victory for Empire. Regardless looks like things are beginning to boil over in the Middle East, fingers crossed for more participatory democracies.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Hope for Change, Mr. President

It was the day of Christmas
and all through the house,
nothing was stirring,
not even a mouse.

The bombs over Baghdad,
they fell with great ease,
and the infidels did cringe
as St. Nick did sneeze.

Another coffin for the merry,
Another christmas for the bad.
Another family member gone,
so George Bush could be glad.

For "our" war marches on
another Christmas this year.
Our boys in the sandbox
still have not enough gear.

The doom impending
is a knock on the door,
from that officer dressed
as if there were no war.

Call me a cynic,
call me a saint,
I'm just writing St. Nick
asking for one more tank.

The joy of the holidaze
comes with the howitzer's shell,
maybe a recoiless rifle,
and a bandoleer as well.

As you sit down to celebrate
this joyous night,
don't forget to remember
someone else in this fight.

For freedoms they claim
but bombs they may reign,
the masters of war
are at it again.

- George Brooks, December 25th, 2010.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Drink, sex, cigarettes...

..bombs, war, famine, death.
An apathetic public could care less.

Subhumans were writing lyrics that tickle my fancy three decades ago now. How time flies while we're too busy living to notice. I'm beginning to wonder if my collection of prophets - the Joe Strummers, the Bob Dylans, the Pete Seegers, aren't just our modern Bodhisattvas. Can enlightenment mean bringing a better message to the public than what our multimedia conglomerates push like cheap dope?

Maybe. Enlightenment is such a weird idea. Meditation and musing, mixing and matching, snitches and snatches... just seeking out that unified philosophy of an inside front. Street battles don't look to be an effective tactic at this point; they've got guns, money and prisons.

The Weather Underground didn't overthrow the state any better than the activists of the '20s did. Can solidarity labor unions be an answer to these pressing problems? Fuck if I know.

Oil is running out. Fresh water isn't far behind it. Sea level's rising at rates quicker than advertised on the news, but available from government briefings. Homework assignment for the day: Submit a couple of FoIA requests and see what you discover.

The Changing E of Empire

There was a time when exploitation of another country for its natural resources was a simple task undertaken by imperialist governments’ seeking greater power and profits. This time has past; in its place a new imperialism has risen like a phoenix from the embers of colonialism’s ashes. New neo-liberal policies pay homage to liberal causes for increasing the quality of life for industrializing nations, yet in reality encourages a global market which harvests developing nations’ resources, crushes labor unions, generates sweat shops, harms the environment and increases the gap between rich and poor. Globalization has changed the face of imperialism from a soldier staring down the barrel of a gun to a modern myriad of lawyers, accountants and shady business practices.
The evolution of Empire has occurred gradually, as represented by many of the conflict regions in the world. Foreign policy for the US and other western nations has included support of tin-pot dictators such as Suharto, Hussein, and Pinochet; all of whom have been responsible for human rights abuses including genocide (Rubenburg 4). Elected officials of developing nations that threaten multinational interests have been disposed of in coups backed by organizations such as the CIA (ibid). Salvador Allende and the former Shah of Iran are two unfortunate rulers who drew the ire of US foreign operations; Allende for being elected on a radical agenda of nationalization of industry and redistribution of wealth and land, Mohammed Mossedegh for a more favorable ruler in Iran (ibid). Yet military actions like the umbrella War on Terror or the covert disposal of leaders are the last resort of neoliberal policy makers.
“Economic hitmen” and “jackals” as John Perkins terms them in his book The Secret History of American Empire are the primary lines of persuasion for Western economic interests. Huge investment loans for “development” are provided, which in turn are used to hire Western contractors to build the necessary tools for a successful exploitation of local resources (Perkins 30). In order to secure these loans, favorable assessments of the profitability and ‘development potential’ of a nation are necessary; this is the position Mr. Perkins himself held for years, cooking books for Suharto amongst many other dictators (ibid). Bribes off of the books or “soft currency” are utilized on select officials to assist in this process (Perkins 54). There are certain legal channels that can be used to launder such money which makes the transaction technically legal, such as overpaying related parties to those in power, thus funneling the money through a legitimate front (ibid). Perkins worked as one of these economic hitmen for several years; when he failed to secure the market for investment, mercenaries or “jackals” would be hired and inserted into the country to dispose of an unfavorable regime (Perkins 83, 56, 234). The tools of persuasion remain nearly as simple as they were in the colonial years past, but instead of simple over the table bribes or a military incursion by a state’s armed forces, mercenaries and money laundering are new takes on old techniques.
These policies have a long and storied history, beginning their development at least with the Age of Exploration in Europe, if not with the ancient empires of India, Greece, and Rome. As ideas of empire developed and the technology to achieve global domination became more of a reality, major nations were sought favorable export markets for their goods, and bartered for high ticket imports such as opium or spices (Neal 1). Colonialism was one of the earliest extensions of these philosophies on trade and power, resulting in the “sun never sets on the British Empire.” As the sun always sets, so did wane the massive military empires of colonial holdings.
World War II was largely responsible for the final shift away from colonialism towards economic imperialism (Judis 20). After the destruction of much of Europe, the international community set about instituting the Marshall Plan in conjunction with the Bretton Woods Institutions, better known as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank (Driscoll 1). This program was initiated to rebuild West Germany, France, Britian and other NATO countries (ibid). Massive loans with low interest rates and long repayment terms were provided to stimulate rebuilding economies; laissez-faire or free market philosophies were gradually reintroduced to the post-wartime economies based upon Keynsian theory (ibid). These programs proved successful enough in rebuilding the economies of Western European nations that economists began to theorize their effectiveness in nations that had yet to become as industrialized or technologically advanced (ibid).
Following successes in stabilizing the economies of nations under the Marshall Plan, the World Bank’s stated mission remained reconstruction and development (Driscoll 1). Turning its eye to developing nations, free market capitalism was taken from theory into the real world. Some successes were achieved, but at significant cost. Chile is the shining example of successful World Bank policies, now having the highest GDP of any South American nation, and one of the most industrialized economies (Escobar 70). What these facts do not tell, is the massive divide between rich and poor, the commoditization of staple consumer goods such as water and food, and the cost Chile’s people have paid for this new standard of living (Escobar 71). The unfortunate nature of statistics, especially in macroeconomic systems, is while gross domestic product or some other indicator of wealth or economic health may grow, this does not necessarily reflect a rising standard of living for workers (Escobar 70).
Structural adjustment programs are one of the initiatives that a country must adopt in order to receive massive economic loans from the World Bank. These adjustment programs are effective in creating more favorable conditions for transnational corporations at the cost of worker safety and the environment (Tikly 176). Historically, labor unions have been one of the most effective means of organizing the means of production in the hands of laborers to combat poor working conditions. Unfortunately for workers, the early 20th century is long past, and union busting techniques have been developed for nearly every situation. Some nations will simply use a heavy handed military or paramilitary group to shoot organizing workers or “disappear” union organizers (Perkins 35, 39). Coca-Cola is one such transnational corporation, with several lawsuits for affiliate companies which have been accused of hiring death squads to assassinate union organizers (“Coke” 1, Baran 2). Scabs are used to replace union members on strike, and work continues without significant delay. Profits increase, working conditions degrade, and the corporations come in under budget.
Education is one of the most significant methods of social control and development encouraged by development programs (Tikly 189). Providing higher education leads to a more skilled work force, which will still work for fractions of the pay of the same job in Western nations (Tikly 178). This creates a ready export market for transnationals to set up manufacturing, thereby increasing profits by lowering overhead cost. Coupled with encouragement for deregulation for labor standards or simply ignoring safety laws and bribing officials, massive sweatshops are often a product (Perkins 37). Shantytowns rise nearby if they are not already present, and workers have few rights beyond that of the serfs of yesteryear. Without the factory job, they will be unable to support themselves and any family they may have, but they do not organize for fear of being beaten by thugs working for the companies they are employed by (Perkins 38). Thus, for a slave’s wages, workers toil for long hours in a factory, receive few if any benefits, and are ensnared in a trap which is difficult if not impossible to escape from.
Hand in hand with exploitation of workers, the environment, which may already have few protectors in a developing nation’s government, becomes an easily exploited resource for the dumping of toxic chemicals, and harvesting of anything valuable. Somalia has been experiencing just this issue; European nations have been accused of disposing of nuclear and other hazardous waste by simply sailing it out to the Somali coast and dumping it overboard (Abdullahi 2). At the same time, fishing which is done in Somali waters is estimated to retrieve $330 billion a year in fish for export to other nations, whilst Somalis starve (Hari 2). South American nations possess untold wealth of old-growth rainforest containing innumerable organisms. Yet this abundantly rich life has only had its value acknowledged in recent years. Clear cutting it in order to receive a few years of grazing for cattle, or burning it for a short period of agricultural use before erosion and soil degradation makes the ground infertile are two common scenarios for many nations south of the Rio Grande (Jokisch 239). Some of these areas have become more valuable to corporations for purchase as “carbon offsets” which helps to preserve some of the forest. Still, environmental needs often are the furthest from the minds of government officials in charge of developing an economy and facilitating legislative measures favorable for transnational corporations.
An interesting contradiction in the realm of new imperialism has arisen in recent years, with debate between conservative theories of imperialism occurring over the military interventions by the global hegemony of the United States. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have alternatively been explained as developing centralized locations of power, and thus force projection or as economic wars sought for the interests of transnationals (Kiely 219). A prevailing attitude amongst both camps may be that neither explanation is entirely correct or wrong; since so many officials are involved in the decision making process, neoliberal and conservative attitudes towards foreign expansion both compete for the president’s choice (Kiely 208). In either case, an argument can be made for a return to a colonialist version of imperialism alongside neoliberal economic imperialism as a result.
Regardless of the specific motives for a single conflict, the general pattern of transnational corporations seeking profits at any cost to life, limb, or dignity is well established. The United States has been the most prominent backer of these foreign policies, but that may be attributable simply to the large concentration of multinationals in the US. Additionally, the US government’s hegemony and unrivaled military power are strong draws for any neoliberal empire builder. Though there are undoubtedly beneficial aspects to globalization, the economic neoliberal form of globalization favored by major financial institutions and Western governments is a detrimental force to workers everywhere. Without a radical reassessment and reorganization of the systems of globalization in place, exploitation will continue to be the word of the day when discussing the manufacture of nearly everything sold in your local shopping mall. As an individual, one can choose to avoid products stained with the blood and sweat of slavery; as a collective whole, society has the power to end exploitative business practices and encourage a new globalization based upon humanism, not capitalism.

Works Cited

Abdullahi, Najad. "'Toxic Waste' behind Somali Piracy." Al Jazeera English. Al Jazeera. Web. 3 Apr. 2010.

Baran, Madeline. "Stop Killer Coke!" Dollars and Sense. Nov. 2003. Web.

"Coke Sued over Death Squad Claims." BBC News: Business. BBC News, 20 July 2001. Web. 3 Apr. 2010.

Driscoll, David. “The IMF and World Bank: How Do They Differ?” International Monetary Fund. Aug 1996. 1 Apr 2010.

Escobar,Patricio; LeBert, Camelia. "The New Labor Market: The Effects of the Neoliberal Experiment in Chile." Latin American Perspectives 30.5 (2003): 70-78. JSTOR. Web. 2 Apr. 2010

Hari, Johann. "Johann Hari: You Are Being Lied to about Pirates." Editorial. The Indepedent 5 Jan. 2009. The Independent - Commentators. The Independent. Web. 5 Apr. 2010.

Jokisch, Brad, and Bridget Lair. "One Last Stand? Forests and Change on Ecuador's Eastern Cordillera." Geographical Review Mountain Geography 92.2 (2002): 235-56. JSTOR. Web. 2 Apr. 2010.

Kiely, Ray. "United States Hegemony and Globalisation: What Role for Theories of Imperialism?" Cambridge Review of International Affairs 19.2 (2006): 205-221. ESBCOhost. Web. 2 Apr 2010.

Perkins, John. The Secret History of the American Empire: The Truth About Economic Hitmen, Jackals, and How to Change the World. New York: Plume, 2008. Print.

Rubenburg, Cheryl. "US Policy toward Nicaragua and Iran and the Iran-Contra Affair: Reflections on the Continuity of American Foreign Policy." Third World Quarterly 10.4 (Oct 1988):1467-1504. JSTOR.Web. 2 Apr. 2010.

Tikly, Leon. “Education and the New Imperialism.” Comparative Education 40.2.28 (2004): 178-198. JSTOR. ResearchPort. 10 Mar 2004. JSTOR. Web. 2 Apr. 2010.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Late Night and Feeling Alright

Movies, a missed show, kramer on a tshirt.

Full of wonder and whim

No need for a slim jim

Circles run in a daze

Clear fog shows through the haze

Roses are red

And violets are blue

But god damn,

I can't stop thinking of you.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Stream of Thoughts

Mindless violence flickers across the screen. Another dead, another destroyed, maybe a family or a town. War, war never changes.Dancing vividly through the minds eye are the distractions of the day. The mindless masks we don in search of some semblance of sanity, leftovers not quite driven from the brink.

Once more into the breach, the mind flickers a momentary recognition. Deep within some recessed hall of memory, a chord rang true. Flittering away, like much of the rest, a dull confusion settles over furrowed brow. Deja vu, maybe.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Financial Aid Application Essay

A few things strike me as important when I sit behind a computer forming the words that so desperately flow from my fingers. I must address the dire necessity for receiving free money before others, but only after those who are better prepared to recognize a deadline. I must address some personal faucet of my own life and why my particular circumstances merit an award of money. Finally, I must reveal some inner piece of beauty which shows that scholarships are for me too.


Reflecting back on the years I’ve spent sucking up oxygen and exhaling carbon waste, I realized the most beautiful moment of those years was being gassed. There’s nothing that will wake you up out of a stupor quite like tear gas, and nothing will brighten your day as well as a nice blast of pepperspray to the face. Coffee is a close second, and lord knows I consume plenty to make it through my week. Still, you can’t top a free baton beating replete with gas and liquid pepper to start the day. I am in the process of submitting a proposal to Maxwell House and Folgers.


We’ve bailed out multinational corporations to the tune of billions so they can continue with the same failed policies that made their heads rich and the poor poorer. Cicero once warned of a failing republic to have his hands and head removed from his body. Fortunately, I don’t live in the climate where my head and hands are removed as such. I just want to be bailed out of my own financial tight spot.


I work forty long hours each week. It actually amounts to something closer to 60 hours, but you can’t bill for lunch even if you work through it. Travel time does not count either, as I am sure you are aware. Most of my life is spent in the pursuit of money merely to sustain myself and try to meekly march forward in my educational path.


I am studying law at the moment, with a minor interest in philosophy and political science. As Vonnegut might intone, "...so it goes." Slow though it is, the more I read and recognize in the law the failings and flailings of those hoping for a better system, I recognize classical symptoms of a failing society. Greed and material excess define our culture more than hope, change and idealism. Innovation is largely focused on military hardware, and this trickles into keeping the United States empire top dog for just a little longer.


At this point you have probably filed away my essay in a circular file or are questioning what this has to do with my own personal need for financial assistance. Quite simply, I would like to better myself in an attempt to better my peers by example. I am no longer naïve enough to believe that I will revolutionize the world, or even my friends. This has contributed to a tenuous understanding of the system that consumes children and turns them into adults working just to pay rent.


I have concluded that kinky sex makes the world go round. So beg of you, heap some kinky sex in my direction, and give me a little cherry to go with it. I promise nothing of substantial value in return, other than sordid ideas and half baked reactionary tendencies. Maybe we can all luck out and I will write some mind shattering thesis on the congressional-military-industrial complex's perversion of the Constitution. Failing that, I guarantee a life dedicated to subverting those parts of the system which I find unjust.