Archive for March, 2007

Nike Boomerang Thingie Soul Sellout
March 27, 2007

     Am I the only one who’s tired of seeing that stupid Nike boomerang thingie on everything and everyone who has anything to do with sports?
     The message I get is that anyone who wears it has been bought by Nike and has agreed to act as a billboard for the company. And pays for the privilege.
     Like people who buy clothing with the manufacturer or designers name emblazoned for all the world to read. “Oh, look at me, I have a Tommy Hilfiger shirt on, see, see?” Hold that thought – you’re paying them to use you as an ad for their product. Where’s your cut of the profits?
     That’s doubly pathetic. You have to show off some rich man’s name on your shirt to prove your own worth, and pay him for the privilege of being his ad. He has to show off his name on everything he makes to get more sales because… why? Maybe the product is not very good to begin with, or not any better than the other stuff out there, but he knows people are stupid enough to pay him extra money so they can wear his name. Or is that triply pathetic? I lose count.
     What, I meet you and you’re wearing this name and I’m supposed to think that you’re a superior being in some mystical way? How about instead I think you’re an idiot? That’s closer to reality.
     What’s the future? Are we all going to look like those fool NASCAR drivers, plastered head to toe with corporate logos to prove how manly and successful we are? (And how successful are you if the only thing you can do in life is drive a car around a circle for hours at a time? That’s really helpful in today’s world, isn’t it? No wonder most of those NASCARites are Republicans.)
     Everything is for sale now.
     Hear the cry of the soulmonger crying out from the depths of the corporations:
     “New souls for old, new souls for old.”
     You wear it, you’ve surrendered, they own you.

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Saving the World From Us, Again
March 13, 2007

     Among the world’s most annoying things one of my favorites is the pretentious, badly-written ad telling us the sponsor has the answer to the world’s problems. These people usually have a problem putting together a sentence, but they’re going to save the world, save humanity, end evil, or some such thing. They never say they have the answer to water pollution, climate change, corporate malfeasance, political corruption, air pollution, or bed mites. Just global evil or war or world hunger. Dammit, how about a Master to solve the mosquito problem around here? Or who can wipe out bed mites?
     Implicitly or explicitly they tell us all we have to do is accept their leadership and follow them without question. Without thinking. Or by thinking just like them, which is to say, without thinking. (Just like that Bush fellow wants us to follow him with eyes closed and mouths shut.)
     Recently I noticed a full page ad in the March 2007 issue of Washington Monthly, on page 25, in black and white, titled ‘The futility of war’ in a white-on-black headline. At the bottom a note says the ad was written by a ‘Master of Wisdom’, and that ‘The Masters, headed by Maitreya, are highly advanced teachers and advisors of humanity who are planning to work openly in the world very soon’. Which immediately makes me wonder why they’re hiding now.
     Silly me. I went ahead and read the two columns of text. This fellow may be a Master of Wisdom, but he is not a master of writing or reasoned argument. (Nor am I, but I’m better than this MoW.)
     I should note that in the middle of the page is a small picture of a military graveyard, you know the kind, with row on row of white tombstones spilling geometrically to the horizon. Perhaps a better choice would have been a photo of a new grave being dug for an Iraqi or an American or British soldier. Or perhaps the bloody corpse of a four year old Iraqi girl smashed by an American bomb or bullet. A little too real for the Masters of Wisdom, perhaps?
     The real issues with this ad include the storm of cliches, the vague thoughts, bad writing, and of course, the promise of another Secret Universal Leader and Teacher Who Will Deliver Us From the Evil of Ourselves If Only We Would Listen to Him. Or Her. Perhaps It. In this case Maitreya is identified as a He. But wait, before delving into his sexuality, let’s go back to the beginning of the ad.
     The first sentence reads “When men* engage in war, they endanger not only their own and others’ lives, but also the well-being of the planet on which they depend for life itself.”
     The asterisk refers to a small note at the bottom of the page assuring us that “men is a general term meaning humankind”. I suppose there may be some element of truth in implying that we Americans have become so stupid, or so overdosed on political correctness, that we cannot understand that context explains the meaning. But let us heave on.
     What about that part about ‘they endanger not only their own and others’ lives’? War is dangerous? People’s lives are at stake? Lordy me, I had no idea.
     Next the Master tells us that war is not good for the well-being of the planet. And that men, and of course humankind, depend on the planet for life. There’s a thought to make the head spin. Who would have thought we depend on the planet for life? Wow! Near as I can tell it’s only fossil fuel corporate officers and Republicans who haven’t figured out that if the planet dies, we die. Even if it nearly dies, we die. Of course, it’s dying right in front of us. But the Master continues blithely on.
     Whereupon we find “The Earth is plundered recklessly for the metals of all kinds used in the ordnance of death.” Notice the Biblical, or possibly Caycean, phrasing. Not ‘metals’, but ‘the metals of all kinds’. And you could knock a person off his feet with ‘ordnance of death’. Heavy duty. Anybody who talks like that just absolutely must have direct access to the Absolute Truth. But of course there’s no mention of all the planetary plundering of metals necessary to build cities and cars and trains and planes and churches and the rest of it. I guess War must be the only problem we have.
     We’re two sentences into this thing and the pretension is just dribbling all over the page. I needed a wad of paper towels just to continue reading.
     A bit further on we have this brilliant passage of gleaming prose:

Men cannot see, or even imagine, the devastation caused to their subtle bodies by endless hours of bombardment. The unprecedented levels of noise tear and shred these sensitive veils. The human frame is not constructed for such abuse. Thus do they do themselves irreparable harm.

     They do do, do they?
     I don’t suppose these Masters have considered the devastation hours of bombardment do to the real body, never mind the ‘subtle body’. What the hell is a subtle body? The last subtle body I had anything to do with was a redhead. Come to think of it, she wasn’t too subtle. (You saw that coming, right?)
     And what’s with the veils? Are we sending men into battle wearing veils? Crap, no wonder they’re coming home shredded! How about some freaking armor? Or at least some stronger veils and maybe some heavy cotton headwraps.
     As for the human frame standing up to bombardment, well, no, I guess not, O Masters of Wisdom. Having a 500-pound bomb land next to you definitely counts as abuse, especially as it turns you into tomato paste with bones. Now that’s irreparable.
     And then the ad asks how long will it take men to realize the futility of war?
     Huh? Is that the conclusion we’re to draw so far? C’mon guys, you haven’t come close to making any sort of case that war is futile yet. You’ve only said it’s messy and environmentally unsound. Your question is nonsense.
     Let’s take the next bit: “War solves no problem; it creates only chaos, and halts the progress of man.” Maybe that’s the conclusion of the argument so far.
     Just hold on one bloody minute.
     It strikes me that war solved the problem of Hitler’s act of attempted world conquest. Not a subtle example, but not one to be denied. Nor can we deny that war solved Alexander’s, or Attila the Hun’s, or Ghengis Khan’s, problem of how to conquer the world. So it can’t be true that war solves no problem.
     As for halting progress, again, not necessarily so. Wars have generally brought about technological advances that have benefited societies. Medical advances, for one. In fact, a counterintuitive case could probably be made that war has done more to contribute to the progress of man than any other force, especially superstition and religion (one and the same, I would add), which demonstrably have halted progress. Witness the Christian faith’s suppression of science and free thought and expression (not to mention the slaughters of Christ-inspired wars). I think the Masters are trying to sell us another Prince of Peace. Given the mess inspired by the last one, I’m not sold on any new ones.
     And chaos? From the chaos of World War II a reasonably stable civilization developed. Old Ghengis Khan stabilized a lot of civilizations too.
     So while that’s a pretty phrase these folks use about chaos and progress, it’s not a true statement. War has its legitimate uses – not often, and certainly nowhere near as often as people turn to it. Would we be better off solving our problems peacefully and rationally? Probably. But then there’s something to be said for getting rid of millions of people now and then on an overcrowded, overburdened planet, isn’t there? So there’s another pragmatic use of war that I bet the Masters haven’t considered.
     But enough of that. Let’s jump ahead to these little gems: “Hence it is the leaders of nations who hold the reins of power, who legislate for war or peace. They must be carefully chosen to ensure a peaceful world.”
     Leaders don’t legislate for war or peace. They decree war. They surrender when beaten. In fact, in one of the few countries on the face of the earth, the United States, which in its founding documents declares that the people’s representative, the Congress, has the power to legislate for war, a President, George Bush, arrogated war-making power to himself, decreed war, and a pathetic, spineless Congress run by lapdog Republicans enabled by cowed Democrats brought the world another senseless war. There was no legislating involved, except in the tiniest technical sense, and that based on lies by Bush.
     As for the bit about ‘carefully chosen’ – please, spare me. We choose leaders based on sound bytes and photo ops and delusions fostered by television. But just who do these Masters think is going to do this careful choosing of leaders? Them? Sure sounds that way. Smells like a tyranny a-blooming.
     Then there’s a bit about ‘recent events in the Middle East’ showing how easy it is to get a war on.
     Followed by the good old Leader Principle. To wit:

Maitreya watches these events with care. He calculates precisely the tensions and their relaxation as they occur and seeks always to establish equilibrium. In this respect, the energies of the Spirit of Peace or Equilibrium, focused through Maitreya, play a vital part. Potent and precise, they are turning the tide of hatred and warring instincts which so trouble the peoples of the nations.

     First, can sentences be vaguer and emptier of meaning than this? Well, probably, but these are pretty hollow. There’s nothing much there. And lots of it, too.
     And second, you’re kidding, right? Tell me you’re kidding. What is this, a new god? Haven’t the old gods screwed things up enough through their human acolytes? Now we’ve got a new one who ‘calculates precisely’ and focuses energy through himself to turn the blood-dimmed tide of human events. That must burn like hell. Maybe this is a promo for a new science fiction series on the tube? Sure does sound promising. Maybe Gene Simmons could play the lead. Or that Ozzie dude.
     Is Maitreya a human? No clue. If human then he’s got a pretty good trick going with all the calculating and focusing. Maybe he could get a gig in one of Barnum’s sideshows. Or maybe teaching math. And if he’s not human, well, he’s from off-planet and the aliens are coming, the aliens are coming.
     The final kicker, coming after some gobbledygook about the people beginning to sense their power, and understanding they are the source of peace (yeah, sure, and who voted for George Bush and Tony Blair – space aliens?), the ad concludes with “This growing understanding will set the scene for Maitreya’s early emergence.”
     Uh-huh. Hey, M, if it’s so damn important and if you really have the answer, then why don’t you emerge your butt out of the closet now?
     I’m sure they’ll have some smooth sounding answer for that. Which would simply confirm to me that this whole deal is just arrogant, egotistic, narcissistic bullcrap.
     In the usual course of events these guys would ask for money as soon as they suck you into their scheme. I don’t know if these so-called Masters are after your money, but I’ve seen enough of these things to suspect you should hang on to your wallet. They have the ‘answer’ and you should feel grateful to pay for it. Yowsah!
     As for you people tempted to fall for this Master or that Master, I have a suggestion. Get your ass out in the street and start working for change, start working to get rid of people like Bush and Cheney, Inhofe and McConnell, and the rest of them.
     Turn off your damned TV and read books.
     Learn to write well. Then write to the local editors. Write blogs. Write essays that reason things through. Slap down the clowns, the pompous, the would-be leaders, the arrogant and the ignorant and the supernaturalists.
     Kick a Republican in the ass all the way out the door. Hand him a few bucks and he’ll be happy. Slap a Democrat until he gets some sense and a spine.
     Go to Amazon and buy books on critical thinking. Study them. Use them.
     But whatever you do, don’t play follow the leader. Nobody claiming to be a leader or claiming to have ‘the answer’ should get a free pass. Ever.

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