Monthly Archives: June 2008

Five More Things That Piss Me Off

I realize I haven’t ranted on this blog for a while. Well you know what, I’ve been saving a few things that piss me off. So let’s have at ‘er! Here are 5 things that piss me off!! YEEHAW!!

1) Gas Station Computer Terminals

Today you can go down to future shop and buy a cell phone with a full colour touch screen. It will play music, take pictures, receive calls, and do many other things. Yet for all the glorious advances in computer technology, it still takes 3 whole seconds for the computers at gas pumps to process the fact that you’ve pushed a fucking button. They still have that monochromatic palette that reminds one of the MS-DOS days. Even the beeps come late – by the time the beep comes, I’ve already pushed the next button! And NO I DON’T WANT A GODDAM CARWASH TODAY. IF I DID I WOULD ASK FOR ONE YOU BUTTHOLE!

It’s bad enough that I’m losing an arm and a leg to pay for gas, I shouldn’t have to lose my time and patience as well. So gas stations, get better computers with sweet colour screens. Or at least install Number Munchers or Oregon Trail onto those things so that I can have the full experience of using a shitty obsolete computer.

2) Creationism In School

Holy shit, why are we having this debate? Why are we even talking to these people? How did CREATIONISM become a political issue?! These people think that Jesus walked with the goddam dinosaurs! Was ancient Rome terrorized by lumbering T-Rex’s? Maybe the Egyptians got giant Sauropods to carry the bricks to the pyramids. Oh wait a second… the bones were PLANTED there… yes… planted there by Jesus just to FUCK with us…. OF COURSE! THANK YOU CREATIONISTS! IT ALL MAKES PERFECT SENSE NOW!

How did these crooks and liars get their fingers into the school system? Don’t get me wrong; if you wanna send your poor kids to some backwards institution of religious indoctrination and fill their heads with apocryphal lies and half-baked pseudo-science, then I won’t try and stop you. But ENOUGH with the assertion that it’s fair to teach “both sides of the argument”. THERE IS NO FUCKING ARGUMENT! An argument needs to actually SAY something, and there is not a single creationist out there that can explain life on Earth without falling back on laughable platitudes and blatant factual distortions. To all the naive religious youngsters out there, ask yourself: do I actually believe this bullshit? Just look into it A BIT. Please, for the sake of your own self-respect, open at least one legitimate science book in your lifetime.

C’mon guys. The Church obviously has to assert that evolution is wrong because if they accept it they admit their mythical tales never happened. And if their mythical tales never happened, they can’t skim your wages,  intervene in your sex life, or send you to war. They’re just trying to trick you!

And as Christopher Hitchens poignantly noted, if we teach both sides of the argument, that means you teach Darwin in sunday school too. How’s that you bastards?

3) Bosses Who Use The Word “Workshopping”

What the hell does that even mean? The last thing this world needs is another patronizing neologism. I don’t want to “workshop” my ideas you snivelling toad. Keep your bureaucratic doublespeak to yourself, and don’t insult my intelligence by using evasive language to hide the fact that you’re trying to micro-manage me. We all see through it, because we are the smart ones, not you. You can go back to your cubicle and develop your administrative tactics all you like, but unless you learn how to talk to people directly, you will never get the corner office.

4) Chicks Who Post Clubbing Pictures On Facebook Every Weekend

Okay. We get it. You’re really really cool. You’re super hot, and you party all the time. You’re the most awesome person I’ve ever met, and I want to hang out with you but I’m too scared to talk to you because you are so popular. And gee, look at how cool your guyfriends are. Look how snappily their do-rags match their flipped collars.

The pictures you took are really cool. Wow… 60 of them!? It must have been a wild night if you could have taken so many pictures. I see you took many on the dance floor. Only the really COOL people take pictures of themselves on the dance floor. I see you’re sticking your tounge between your fingers in many of these pictures. How clever! And very scandalous! Do you know anybody in Hollywood?

News flash babe: your photo albums go straight into the spank-banks of all the creepy guys you knew in high-school. The rest of us stopped looking a long time ago. Give it a rest.

5) Birds That Chirp At 3:30 AM

Dammit you assholes! It’s not morning yet! I’m just going to bed, and you’re already trumpeting the arrival of dawn? I’m pretty sure that sun ain’t over the horizon yet, so just chill out for a few more hours would ya?

There you have it. Take care everyone.

Change We Can Believe In? The Problem With “Mass” Society

For as long as there have been political leaders, there have been impassioned speeches promising social change. And for as long as such promises have been made, so too have they been broken. I believe we are right to be skeptical of politicians, for it is plainly clear that they are, by and large, incompetent and corrupt.

However, I do not think that blaming individual politicians will ever amount to any qualitative social change. Sure, it’s very easy to blame President Bush for mismanaging the war in Iraq, or damaging the environment, but surely it is not only his fault. Nor do I think that blaming any single political groupis productive; it is clear that Bush’s administration is not the sole cause of social injustice. Instead, we must look for problems within the entire system of social organization – we must get a handle on the totality of complex relations that comprise our society before we can begin to lay blame.

Let us consider North American society. How does it work as a ‘system’? Let’s forget about the agency of individuals for just a moment, and think about the structurality of our little experiment in liberal democracy. By what kind of structure is our society organized? I can think of two big ones: capitalism and democracy.

Capitalism is a set of economic principles that governs our lives in a number of ways. For example, under capitalism, people are entitled to the ownership of private property. One person can own a thing, and trade it with another person for an agreed-upon price. In it’s very essence, capitalism provides a simple and fair economic model. Democracy is, like capitalism, simple in its most basic form. It says that decision makers in society should be chosen by, and be responsible to, the people. That is why we have elections. Both democracy and capitalism are, in principle, fair and reasonable models for government and economy. Thus, North American society has fairness and equability built into its very organizational structure.

So then, why are things such a mess?

The blame, I would argue does not necessarily lay with politicians, CEOs, or other corrupt agents within the system. Rather, the problem is one of scale – our society is simply too big, and too complex.

Capitalism in Mass Society

As a system of trade, capitalism seems to work just fine. But, as a society grows in population, the economy becomes much more complex. A hundred years ago, for example, a farmer grew his crops, sold them at the farmers market at practical price, and kept the profits for himself. But over several generations of steady population growth, producers have gradually become centralized – administered through top-down organizational bureaucracies which apply rational scientific management techniques in order to maximize profitability. This is all in congruence with the logic of market capital, and a natural outcome of market competition. The ultimate realization of such centralizing tendencies is the conglomeration of businesses into what we now call corporations, the pinnacles of institutionalized capitalism.  

Corporations obviously get a lot of flak, and are often damned for having some inherently evil character. This is clearly not a fair criticism – corporations have no character. They are, by their very nature, dispassionate legal entities. The point is that, in the context of growing population and mass society, capitalism tends to produce institutions which incorporate, into their very ethos, a policy of unmitigated growth, and above all, the privatization of increasingly sparse natural resources. Herein lies the danger, and the connection to overpopulation. But what about democracy?

Democracy in Mass Society

Democracy demands transparent interaction between policy makers and the public. In mass society, this is increasingly impossible. Because there are more people being governed, there is need for more levels of representation. Representation is a simple idea; your congressman represents your vote, your will, your input. Ultimately, through a complex system of political representation, your vote eventually informs national policy. At least, this is how it ought to work.

In fact, the more levels of representation there are, the more room there is for distortion, corruption, and ultimately misrepresentation.

Invisible Connections

So far we have treated economy and government as separate fields. In fact, this is increasingly not the case. Take for example Kenneth Lay, former CEO of an energy company called Enron. He also served on a number of governmental bodies which regulated (or rather, de –regulated) energy. Thus, an agent withing the system acted on behalf of both government and economy. This is a dangerous overlap of capitalist and democratic principles. Was the deregulation of natural gas markets really in the best interest of the public? Or was it in the best interest of Enron? Perhaps a more salient question: was it simply in the best interest of Kenneth Lay?

That’s ultimately the point I want to make; mass society creates overlapping economic and political structures, and within this overlap, there are opportunities for all new levels of corruption – new avenues for greed. So next time you hear a politician preaching”change”, ask yourself how they plan on solving this problem of overlapping structurality. How can we keep the overarching logic of capitalism in check? How do we ensure that policy makers won’t be bribed into forfeiting what remains of our dwindling natural resources to the unstoppable machinery of capitalism? I’m not sure if there is a solution. I’m sorry for sounding bleak, but I think the reason for all of it is painfully simple – our society is too big.

The corruption and complicity of government officials with the pressures of corporate power is generally symptomatic of mass society. It will persist for as long as our society is regarded as a mass. All of the problems facing the world today are problems of human scale.