Skytrain to Nowhere is an imagination driven and esoteric volume of free-form poetry. The book documents the author’s experiences, thoughts and observations while riding the skytrain at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport over the period of several weeks. Since the skytrain is only designed to transport travelers between various terminals and parking facilities at the airport, someone spending nearly 50 hours riding it purely for recreation and artistic inspirational purposes is highly unusual (to put it mildly.) Aside from occasional quirky anecdotes about various passengers, the poems mostly deal with themes of motion, the passage of time, and nostalgia. The author grapples with these issues from a retro-futurist perspective. Skytrain to Nowhere celebrates the realization that our vitality hinges on our ability to always keep moving, while recognizing we are unwilling or unable to leave some things behind on the journey.
So I checked the mail the other day and found this “Notice of Inclusion In a Scientific Study.” My first instinct was maybe this was one of those medical studies where you get paid to be a lab rat and test out some experimental nasal spray or something. I started thinking of all the vintage 90s apparel I could buy from PacSun with the money.
Nope. It turns out this was just a cheesy political advertisement (and a retarded one at that) from a group called Arizona Wins.” The flier goes on to say that they’re “conducting an experiment to understand which voters participate in the November 6 election.” However, this is ultimately nothing more than a lame political ad. Thoughtfully, it also provides “information you need to be a successful voter.” This information consists of basic polling location information and a comically partisan summary of the candidates’ positions which only someone with the brain of Mr. Potato Head would find persuasive.
In fact, there is nothing “scientific” about the way this information is presented. Even though it is somewhat tongue in cheek, this annoying bit of junk mail is revealing in the sense that it demonstrates how the notion of science has come to be associated with political activism and propaganda rather than a cold, objective pursuit of knowledge. It also reveals just how infantile our democracy has become, to the point where politicians and their minions openly insult the intelligence of the voters they intend to appeal to. The disturbing part is that they’re rewarded for doing so, because at the end of the day most people really are that stupid. Having worked retail for many years, I found that the vast majority of people could not even interpret a coupon correctly. A discount sign would say something like “$50 off a second pair of jeans when you buy a pair at full price.” and nearly every day customers would look at it and I’d overhear them say things such as “Oh look honey everything in the store’s 50% off!” These are the kinds of people whom society trusts to analyze and determine the fate of politicians’ policy proposals on complex issues which collectively affect our lives.
This particular political advertisement appears to have been created (or at least approved) by a local tumblrista and airhead high IQ activist. EDIT: Apparently people have received these in other states too, so it must be a nationwide thing. In any event, it is the dumbest piece of political junk mail I have ever received. It’s irrelevant who created it though, because it isn’t all that unique. It’s just the same sort of sleazy marketing tactics we’re bombarded with every day, the kind promoted by greedy companies which politicians (such as those lauded by this flier) emptily promise to keep in check. Electoral politics is retarded. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a person who can’t figure out how to use the self checkout at Target dictating what’s “best” for the country.
Gab needs to stop marketing itself as a right-leaning haven for nutjobs. It should just present itself as a fun, entertaining social media site that just so happens to not ban people as easily as other sites. One of the things I really dislike about Gab is how difficult it is to find people with interests or even opinions outside the realm of basic bitch AltRight/AltLite/MAGA politics. Ideally, I want a place where I can view entertaining content and discuss topics earnestly but one which doesn’t punish people for PC indiscretions. Sites like Gab should aim to attract with apolitical entertainment, with the idea that people go will go there for that but have to tolerate some uncomfortable political speech as a price. Just like when people watch football or some funny cooking vid on youtube, and they have to sit through the annoying political diatribe or cheesy social justice commercial. Kind of like how youtube has its own shows. They need exclusive non-political (mostly) content, which will draw in ordinary people. The “exclusive” streams and shows which can for there now there are all just Alex Jones style and “MAGA” oriented material. They need things like cooking shows, makeup tutorials and animated series. As it currently stands, Gab’s appeal seems to be along the lines of “Come to our site where you can discuss ‘pizzagate,’ ‘false flags’ and other wild conspiracy theories, free of censorship.” It’s no surprise what kind of demographic that ultimately attracts. As a result, discussion on Gab is dominated by insufferable lunatics and surly cranks. Simply saying “we’re a free speech site and everyone is welcome” isn’t enough. You have to actually offer the kind of content which people from a variety of ideological, non-ideological and social spheres will be interested in.
Of course, I don’t believe Gab is to blame for the fact that one of its users (allegedly a man named Robert Bowers) committed the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue. A social media site or forum can’t be expected to be responsible for the offline behavior of one of their users. It simply isn’t their responsibility. There are too many crazy people out there. There have been crimes and violent attacks committed by users of every major social media site.
However, what is the point of suspending his (or any other perpetrator’s) account after the fact? Just leave it up, otherwise it just looks like you’re trying to conceal what he posted to avoid damage to your reputation. There’s no point in destroying a public record of someone’s posts just because they happened to commit a crime. Twitter and FB do the same thing, and it’s annoying. People are interested in reading the old posts on these kinds of accounts because they offer insight into the person’s mindset and motivations. I’d prefer to read these myself and draw my own conclusions rather than take the word of some media outlet’s second or third hand interpretation.
During a particularly censorious time on Twitter a few years ago, I contemplated using a spare domain name I had obtained for building a small scale social media site called “Wand” (which was intended to fill the void which Gab has since occupied.) Ultimately, I decided the potential for legal liabilities would be a hassle I just wasn’t equipped to deal with. Once you make the decision to start hosting other people’s edgy content and images on your site, there’s a hell of a lot of shit that can go wrong. Maybe, I’m just a tad too misanthropic to be willing to “take one for the team.” I just don’t care about these issues enough.
I’m grateful that Gab exists, but a site which seems designed specifically to attract pond scum has built in experiential limitations.
David and Robert’s background growing up on the Westside of LA
The Open Air Century City Shopping Center, the original 60’s retro futuristic aesthetics, and the film Conquest of the Planet of the Apes
The recent $1-billion makeover of the Mall and plans to make Century City more urban and pedestrian friendly
The “Westfield Aesthetic”
The old underground 70’s retro futuristic ABC Entertainment Center
The first major indoor mall Fox Hills in Culver City
The Westside Pavilion, Jon Jerde’s 80’s Post Modernist aesthetics (original featured in Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’), and plans to turn it into office space
The 80’s Rodeo Collection, an archeo-futuristic urban oasis model for self-contained cities, and the film Body Double
The Beverly Center, the amusement park “Kiddyland” before the mall , the original 80’s aesthetics with futuristic external escalators, and later renovations
The lack of interest in preserving 80’s architecture
Young people’s interest in 80’s aesthetics and the magical dream like memories from early childhood (Hypnagogia)
The 70’s retro high-rise Mr. C Hotel(formerly the Renaissance) near Beverly Hills
The Third Street Promenade, the first major outdoor mall
The rise of outdoor malls such as Rick Caruso’s The Grove and Americana at Brand and how those are now becoming dated
Future trends, the under construction high-rise shopping complex, the Oceanwide Plaza in Downtown LA
The Jon Jerde designed neon lit Universal CityWalk
David’s joke about the City Walk’s old Rain Forest Cafe and the Museum of Tolerance’s Tunnel of Hate
Westwood Village as the center of Westside nightlife and it’s decline in the late 80’s
Psychopathy probably does not exist in the way most people think of it.
Any psychological trait that varies between individuals is distributed on a continuum whose limits are defined by the trait’s fitness benefit. This is why the personality disorders are considered dubious by some: how much sense does it make to cordon off a particular quartile, decile, centile of the distribution and declare it an illness?
Antisocial personality disorder, which most people still call psychopathy or sociopathy, is characterised by a suite of “extreme” traits, and is identified through behavioural indicators. Those are the cases that go to prison and the ones that show up in the media. But if these people’s predilections were that abnormal, they would not exist – thanks to selection pressure. The heritability of APD is no lower than the general heritability of personality, suggesting that this concatenation of traits is a (mal)adaptation.
Estimates of the prevalence of APD are on the order of 1-3%. It is not the case that 1-3% of people are violent criminals, nor that everyone in prison has the diagnosis, so it is neither necessary nor sufficient for most crime. A good chunk of diagnoses must occur because of repetitious criminal behaviour. What of the rest?
It is news to no one, of course, that most psychopaths are not criminals. The question is: what separates the criminal from the law-abiding variety?
This is a moment of revelation for some, when they have their heads scanned and realise that their neurology is “consistent” with that of a Jeffrey Dahmer. But they are not Jeffrey Dahmer. So much for the notion that it is impossible to be unaware that you have this psychological profile. Thus, they turn to parenting and other things that do not matter as an explanation to assuage the headfuck.
One hypothesis, and a testable one, is that the difference is made by IQ. One begins to sounds like a broken record, but the link between IQ and crime is well established, and given that 1 US adult in 7 is unable to perform mental operations more complex than finding the expiration date on a driving licence, it is not hard to imagine what this does when combined with a temperamental disposition towards narcissism. Not only do they feel social norms “don’t apply” to them; they are too stupid to understand the consequences of violating them.
High-IQ individuals with Dark Triad traits often go undetected or are even wildly successful. You probably know a few, and it probably isn’t worth giving them a second thought. The proto-criminal types are easier to spot, but no one wants his or her child to be branded “high-risk” before any criminal wrongdoing is committed. Nor are they prepared to confront the fact that there is essentially nothing they can do to “fix” the problem, and so nothing (useful) is done. Isn’t that just too fucking bad?
I’m not generally inclined to write about electoral politics, much less local politics (boooring!) but I feel compelled to make a few passing remarks on the Arizona Senate election between Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally. I didn’t really feel strongly about either candidate, but I’m going to go ahead and endorse Kyrsten Sinema (I already voted for her once in the primary.) The ads being put out by supporters of McSally are so awful that I briefly wondered to myself whether the Sinema campaign had secretly created the ads themselves, just to make McSally look stupid! Anyway, it’s not just that the ads are negative or constitute “mudslinging” (who cares? lol.) What makes these ads so terrible is their total lack of substance and ill-chosen angles of attack, which signals a clueless misreading of the priorities of McSally’s own base of support, as well as outright contempt for the intelligence of all Arizonans.
Here is an example of the narration over an ad put out by the people who run “RadicalKyrsten.com.”
“Kyrsten Sinema has the phony politician act down. Before she went to Washington, she was a radical fringe protester. The Arizona democratic party said she was ‘too extreme.’ Kyrsten Sinema Radical. Extreme. Don’t for fall her act.”
(a similar, longer version of the ad can be found here)
They don’t ever bother to explain in what ways Sinema is supposedly “radical” and “extreme” or offer any explanation as to why being radical is inherently a bad thing. On some issues being extreme might be necessary, and many people would agree that radical changes are needed to fix the myriad of problems the US faces. The ad also makes the claim that Kyrsten was a “radical fringe protester” over 15 years ago. What sorts of things was she protesting exactly? She was protesting the War in Afghanistan and the Iraq War! Two wars which were ill-conceived, totally unnecessary and a complete waste of money, life and resources. The War in Afghanistan is still going on. We haven’t even left yet, 7 years after Bin Laden was killed (in Pakistan.) This isn’t 2002 anymore. Americans want to stay out of these pointless wars in the middle east. Of all the things the GOP could make an issue of in this Senate campaign, they choose to attack Kyrsten for being anti-war. Another attack mentions that she was “a criminal defense attorney who defended murderers.” Well, so what? That is what criminal defense attorneys have to do. Everyone who is charged with a crime, no matter how awful, is entitled to an attorney. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to defend them, and Kyrsten was refreshingly straightforward about the way she described it. The ad also attacks her as a “socialist,” which just shows how out of touch these people are as younger generation republicans are becoming more and more skeptical of big tech corporations, free trade and unchecked capitalism and are moving toward populist economics which favor the working class.
In a sense these ads belong in a museum, for if they had been created as postmodern works of art as a sort of social commentary on the utter meaninglessness of contemporary political advertising…they would be masterpieces.
The irony though is that Kyrsten Sinema actually is a moderate, and in some of the best ways. She was attacked in The New Times because she had the common sense to insist that the US establish a more thorough vetting process before we consider allowing Syrian and Iraqi “refugees” to be resettled here. That alone is reason enough to vote for her.
Kyrsten Sinema is running a smart campaign. She knows that open borders and anti-white politics aren’t popular in AZ, so she’s focusing on health care and jobs. Meanwhile her GOP opponents are totally clueless and think it’s a good idea to attack Kyrsten for opposing the Iraq war. A GOP which runs on McCain’s neoconservative foreign policy and bombards the airwaves with the lamest political ads ever created deserves to lose. Even back when Kyrsten Sinema was just running for congress I remember being impressed with the aesthetics or her campaign. Her signs and fliers were some of the most artful I’ve seen associated with a political candidate. They embodied a kind of retro, 1980s NBA team style, reminiscent of old Denver Nuggets and Seattle Supersonics logos. Anyway, yeah. Vote for Kyrsten.
“The fruits of neo-imperialism may just be neo-isolationism,” Pat Buchanan once facetiously suggested in a 2003 column titled “Are Bush and Rumsfeld Closet Populists?” The crux of his argument was that the Bush administration’s neoconservative foreign policy and defiant embrace of global military interventionism was so at odds with the rest of the world that it might result in the United States being alienated from the international community altogether and forced to reluctantly adopt the kind of isolationist nationalism Buchanan prefers.
The neocons have been mostly discredited and rejected by the American people since then, yet their ideology and its zealots have wormed their way so deep into the US political and media establishment, that neoconservative influence on US foreign policy remains dominant to this day. What brought Buchanan’s obscure column to mind though is the latest ideological craze, “democratic socialism.” It’s been on the rise for quite a while now, as evident by Bernie Sanders’ near win in the 2016 presidential primary. The ascent has continued with the growing popularity of podcasts like Chapo Trap House, as well as the media’s recent gush fest over political newcomers like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and (former Sex and the City actress) Cynthia Nixon. The problem with democratic socialism (in the form it’s currently being presented by enthusiasts,) is that the solutions it purports to offer can’t withstand the weight of their own contradictions. Trying to be too many things to too many people in ways which inherently conflict, may put you on the fast track for electoral success and generate a lot of fawning media coverage, but then what? Where will the people that didn’t read the fine print turn when the built-in failure mechanisms are discovered during the activation process?
How can you have a federal job guarantee *and* support practically unlimited immigration from impoverished countries? And what good does it do to implement strict emission controls if you’re going to import so many people that the result will be a net increase in pollution anyway? In contemplating questions like this, one might begin to wonder (but not really) if these DSA types are “closet neoreactionaries,” in the sense that they advocate for “socialist” policies only within contexts which would guarantee said policies’ ineffectiveness (thus subsequently driving people to reluctantly embrace neo-monarchic, corporate fiefdoms.) “Free health care and college education!” but it’s going to be available to every one of the billions of humans on the planet that can manage to simply show up here in our “borderless,” undefined country that exists in name only. Oh, and we’re not allowed to significantly limit immigration from the third world in any substantial way. No physical borders, border patrol, or substantively sovereign nation states, but presumably there will be a distinguishable collective people whom we’re assured these programs are supposed to viably and sustainably benefit.
Today’s social democracy falls apart on the contradiction between advocating nearly unlimited government largess and nearly unlimited immigration. “Abolish ICE” is a proper rallying cry for hard-core libertarians and Davos globalists, not democratic socialists or social democrats. A federal job guarantee is an intriguing idea — assuming the jobs are for some defined “us” that doesn’t include every immigrant, asylum-seeker or undocumented worker.
Trump gets this, as does the far right in Europe, which is why they attract such powerful working-class support. Want to preserve the welfare state? Build a wall — or, in Europe’s case, reinstate border controls. Want more immigrants and amnesty? Lower the minimum wage and abolish the closed shop.
But please choose. It’s one or the other.
“Socialist” ideologies which aim for the dissolution of borders and the elimination of national sovereignty in actuality weaken the federal government’s ability to administer social programs effectively. If there is no authority to differentiate between who is or isn’t a citizen (of where?) and no tangible separation of territory, just whom or what exactly is the federal government presiding over? Is it simply “residents?” One can already envision the financial insolvency and administrative nightmare of this kind of “international airport socialism,” where going to the hospital is like making a trip to a crowded, third world DMV. Such a system would be impossible to manage efficiently, due to the intrinsic lack of organization and ill-defined parameters, rendering a theoretically empowered federal government hapless and functionally impotent. Very few aspiring employees can take advantage of a $15 minimum wage if you cram so many people into a city that there are not enough jobs to go around, and the accompanying demand for housing becomes so high that skyrocketing real estate prices negate any benefits for those lucky enough to land a “living” minimum wage job. Socialists and social democrats like Bernie Sanders used to be fully aware of all this, but they are so averse to being perceived as xenophobic or anti-immigrant, that their stated positions on these issues include a lot of muddled, self-contradictory language and conflicting statements…ultimately revealing themselves to be the product of doublethink.
In such a scenario, multinational corporations become strengthened, because people will feel they have no other alternative but to sign their lives away to Yelp or Amazon or some other corporate cult, which will present as comparably functional institutions. In exchange for being granted the closest thing to stability available, they’ll be inclined to just accept shitty, high deductible health plans that can change on a whim, conditional company housing, and draconian “code of conduct” rules which dictate what employees can do, wear and say on their own time, etc.
That’s the political choice we’re essentially being presented with: overpopulated, third world international airport socialism vs. multinational corporate feudalism. It is probably already too late for any other alternatives you might have in mind. It certainly seems too late for any kind of populist nationalism or to limit mass immigration in any meaningful way at the national level, though I guess pan secessionism and balkanization are distant possibilities (perhaps even inevitabilities.)
Are “democratic socialists” closet neoreactionaries? No, of course not. Are they the useful idiots of neoreaction? That sounds a bit too harsh. One could just as easily argue that many big companies are so greedy that they are actually helping to facilitate the rise of democratic socialism. The way most multinational corporations shamelessly manipulate and exploit their employees, while simultaneously displaying outright contempt for consumers…they certainly aren’t doing themselves any PR favors. Multinational corporations are portable though, and since they have no allegiance to any particular place or country, they are highly adaptable and can remain as elusive as the Black Fortress in Krull.
Ultimately, I think democratic socialists simply represent one half in the next phase of Americans having to hold their noses and choose between systems that don’t represent their interests and which promise things they can’t deliver.