Home/Tag: usa

Another airport altogether.

A friend of mine said to me, “The modern airport is the perfect metaphor for the class warfare to come.” And I asked, “How do you see it that way?” He said, “The rich in first and business class are seated first so that the poor may be paraded past them into economy to note their privilege.” I said, “I think the metaphor is better than you give it credit for, because those people in first and business are actually the fake rich. The real rich are in another terminal or in another airport altogether.”

Eric Weinstein on metaphors.

I have this theory that commercial air travel in the US is so freakin’ terrible because most of the actually affluent people there fly chartered. So even the “premium” offerings for US airlines are ratshit hellholes, which I know because I am, full disclosure, one of the “fake rich” and have travelled around the world in first and business.1

Also, did you know you don’t have to deal with the TSA if you fly chartered? Yeah. That pretty much tells you everything you need to know about American air travel.

Incidentally, this is a quote from an interview with Eric Weinstein, a.k.a. the managing director of Peter Thiel’s investment firm. Yeah, that Peter Thiel. It’s actually… a pretty fucking depressing interview, in that humans-of-late-capitalism, please-save-us-billionaire-overlords kind of way. Which, yanno. Is how Weinstein sleeps at night, I guess.

  1. Shout-out in particular to: The Wing, Cathay Pacific’s first-class offering in Hong Kong; the massage spas at the Sydney and Melbourne Qantas first lounges; and those amazing fish cakes I had for breakfast in the first class airport in Dubai. []
2020-05-12T08:34:15+10:002nd January, 2019|Tags: culture, politics, usa|

White terror.

The anxiety of the “alt-right” over LARPing has a precedent and parallel in the wider right-wing obsession with “stolen valor,” which is ostensibly motivated by a concern with appropriately honoring the agents of the police state (any distinction between the military and law enforcement having become marginal to the point of irrelevance) but which is equally motivated by the need to guard who has access to political violence. Right-wing militias like the Oath Keepers, open only to veterans of military service or former law enforcement officers, strive to attain that access by aligning themselves with the state, positioning themselves as guardians of law and order while pursuing extralegal political violence: working alongside local police departments to suppress left-wing dissidents at demonstrations, as private security for GOP officials, or in conjunction with Customs and Border Protection officials, themselves agents of gratuitous cruelty, to detain migrants and refugees crossing the border with Mexico.

When militia members, Proud Boys, or crypto-fascists self-deputize, however, they reveal something deeper about the nature of political violence: After decades of neoliberal austerity, the state, having privatized everything else, now puts violence on the market as well.

Brendan O’Connor on the elephant in the room.

“Gee, Alis. You dump on superhero stories a lot. Like I mean, what’s the harm in simple fantasies about heavily armed individuals co-opting the state’s monopoly on violence for the purpose of executing extrajudicial revenge against actors they don’t believe the state itself is appropriately addressing? I mean, that’s just silly fun, right? It could never be taken the wrong way or have real-world consequences! Stop taking everything so seriously! It’s totally a coincidence that the massive rise in popularity of superhero narratives in modern pop culture just happens to coincide with the breakdown of rule of law in America, the increasing polarized aggression of its population, and the biggest global rise in fascist movements since the 1930s! I mean, Superman was created by Jewish men! Captain America punches Nazis! Black Panther… exists! They have to be progressive, right? Stories with those sorts of narrative trappings can’t possibly be using them as a distraction in order to slide in a violent, anti-egalitarian ideology under the door! Particularly one that’s not even intentional so much as it is a subconscious manifestation of a cultural malaise and patterns of thought that’ve been implanted in the Western polity by right-wing actors since at least the 1970s! Like how all those movies in the 1980s had the EPA as the bad guys! That had no negative impact on public perception of or policy around environmental regulation whatsoever! Stop worrying and just let people mindlessly consume pop culture without having to think more broadly about how it fits into institutional and cultural patterns of control because, like, it’s not like that’s ever been suggested as a form of fascism before! You no-fun party pooper! Also, you totally read a superhero comic once and are probably playing a violent videogame right now so that makes you a hypocrite and that means I don’t have to listen to anything you say! So nyyah!”

2018-04-18T08:09:58+10:006th October, 2018|Tags: culture, politics, usa|

“The nation”.

Both Froese and Stroud found pervasive anti-government sentiments among their study participants. “This is interesting because these men [gun owners] tend to see themselves as devoted patriots, but make a distinction between the federal government and the ‘nation,’ says Froese. “On that point, I expect that many in this group see the ‘nation’ as being white.”

Jeremy Adam Smith on motivations.

… yikes.

2019-04-29T12:07:57+10:0011th September, 2018|Tags: culture, politics, usa|

Origin story.

The logic [of John Lott’s theory of Mutually Assured Massacre] goes something like this. If most people are unarmed, the guy who’s carrying has tremendous power and can kill more or less with impunity, at least in the immediate aftermath of a shooting. No one can shoot back. But if everyone is armed or any given person might be armed, you’re going to be a lot more cautious about going for your firearm and shooting someone. Because they might be armed too. They might shoot back. Or the person next to them might be armed. If everyone is armed, everyone will be on their best behavior. Because they’re all equal in terms of lethal violence. Shootings will go down, not up.

In the abstract, where no humans actually exist, there’s actually a compelling logic to this. If I know you’re armed, I’ll be on my best behavior. You will too because you know I’m armed. Of course, in practice, almost everything is wrong with this logic. It relies on an extremely crude version of economic rational action and an even cruder form of game theory. This is particularly the case when you realize that the fraught, angry situations where people impulsively kill other people are by definition not rational. This doesn’t even get into situations like school shootings where the assailant usually intends to die in the massacre. It also doesn’t get into accidents, misunderstandings. It’s completely nuts.

But this basic concept: more guns, paradoxically, means more safety informs almost every aspect of current pro-gun politics.

Josh Marshall on the “good guy” with a gun.

The point here is that the whole core argument of the pro-gun lobby in the US, i.e. that everyone carrying around guns makes society more “safe”, is traceable back to a couple of shitty books written by one asshole in the late 1990s.

2018-02-23T14:08:37+11:0023rd February, 2018|Tags: cw: mass shooting, politics, usa|

The biggest lie Law & Order ever told.

“People don’t think,” [ATF agent Charlie Houser] tells me. He’s a trim guy, 51, full lips and a thin goatee, and he likes to wear three-piece suits. They fit loose, so the overall effect is awkward innocence, like an eighth grader headed to his first formal.  I get e-mails even from police saying, ‘Can you type in the serial number and tell me who the gun is registered to?’ Every week. They think it’s like a VIN number on a car. Even police. Police from everywhere. ‘Hey, can you guys hurry up and type that number in?’ ”

So here’s a news flash, from Charlie Houser: “We ain’t got a registration system. Ain’t nobody registering no damn guns.”

Jeanne Marie Laskas on Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

The fact that the ATF is disallowed, by legislation bought and paid for by the NRA in 1986, to computerize any gun ownership records tells you everything you need to know about the sincerity of the “responsible gun ownership” argument…

2018-02-22T08:13:35+11:0022nd February, 2018|Tags: culture, politics, usa|

The New Moloch.

That horror cannot be blamed just on one unhinged person. It was the sacrifice we as a culture made, and continually make, to our demonic god. We guarantee that crazed man after crazed man will have a flood of killing power readily supplied him. We have to make that offering, out of devotion to our Moloch, our god. The gun is our Moloch. We sacrifice children to him daily—sometimes, as at Sandy Hook, by directly throwing them into the fire-hose of bullets from our protected private killing machines, sometimes by blighting our children’s lives by the death of a parent, a schoolmate, a teacher, a protector. Sometimes this is done by mass killings (eight this year), sometimes by private offerings to the god (thousands this year).

The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. Devotion to it precludes interruption with the sacrifices it entails. Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned. Its acolytes think it is capable only of good things. It guarantees life and safety and freedom. It even guarantees law. Law grows from it. Then how can law question it?

Its power to do good is matched by its incapacity to do anything wrong. It cannot kill. Thwarting the god is what kills. If it seems to kill, that is only because the god’s bottomless appetite for death has not been adequately fed. The answer to problems caused by guns is more guns, millions of guns, guns everywhere, carried openly, carried secretly, in bars, in churches, in offices, in government buildings. Only the lack of guns can be a curse, not their beneficent omnipresence.

Adoration of Moloch permeates the country, imposing a hushed silence as he works his will. One cannot question his rites, even as the blood is gushing through the idol’s teeth. The White House spokesman invokes the silence of traditional in religious ceremony. “It is not the time” to question Moloch. No time is right for showing disrespect for Moloch.

Garry Wills in 2012.

2018-07-27T14:30:16+10:0016th February, 2018|Tags: culture, cw: mass shooting, politics, usa|