Friday, February 20, 2015

So what does it mean

Not to "love" America?  The question is unanswerable without asking what is meant by love, because in the era of accepted error, of laissez faire definitions, it can mean anything. So why ask? Certainly the intended audience of the assertion that Mr. Obama does not "love" the country that elected him aren't asking because their reasoning is circular, or perhaps because their ability to question things has been eroded by the linguistic dumbing down of our speech. In the mouth of Rudy Guiliani, I'm deducing that love means something rather nebulous and involves jingoistic nationalism, selective memory, denialism, a dash of megalomania and a psychopathic lack of conscience. 

During the Vietnam years, the trope: 'loving America,' became a euphemism for blindly supporting the war, its conduct, it's stated goals, it's dishonest reasons against any and all criticism. It included defamation of all those who did not blindly follow. It included death threats, sometimes implemented against those who had doubts.  According to a large number, you either "loved" America or you were advised to leave the country. Some of us did. 

Many of us who were raised in the post war atmosphere of America as the savior of freedom and the leaders of the "free world" began to smell something as the flag marched by and the bombs fell and a generation was decimated and thought of Orwell.  Love is hate, war is peace and freedom is slavery.  Indeed, when people fling loaded words around like irritated apes fling dung, that famous quote from 1984 seems less cynical than it once did and more of a sad acceptance of hopelessness. Language has to change as the needs and wants of the oppressors and exploiters require it.  Freedom fries, pre-owned cars, processed foods, assault weapons: define and conquer.

Indeed anything can mean anything and so language no longer guides our thoughts or acts as a structure or armature upon which to build and with which to communicate the truth. Perhaps it never has been otherwise.  Arbeit macht frei, after all and it's our manifest destiny to take whatever we can get away with taking.

"Obama doesn't love America" is a statement without reference to evidence, dependent on idiosyncratic and plastic definitions and without any hint of supporting evidence.  It's so much like statements insisting he's a Muslim, or that he's just like a king or that he hates white people.  Such things depend on what the meaning of is is and nobody is asking.  Is is as likely to mean isn't as bad is to mean good.

Of course Rudy and many of his compatriots simply have so little in the way of valid criticism that they must keep their maledictions on the level of the subliminal. The half-unconscious associations that words are surrounded by become definitions. Just ask your kids' English teacher. Ask the people who tell you pornography is rape, who call a trailer an "estate Home" who call that package of bread mix artisinal.

Murdering two million civilians becomes a noble cause and we do it out of love. We love America, the greatest country that ever was, is or will be! We kill, exploit, deport and impoverish under the rubric of love and freedom.   Freedom?  Well it's what we support in any military activity. Hence  anything done to make our country safer, healthier more decent or anything else we associate with a loving attitude is by accepted definition: Not Loving America. No real explanations are needed, because love means anything the abuser intends it to mean. Language just has to change and if you question that?  Why, like that colored fella in the White House, you just don't love America!

Monday, February 16, 2015


Back in the 1930's, it seems to have been common to start one's sentences with "say," sometimes drawn out for emphasis as we do with words and tropes we use to emphasize our own connectedness with the segment of popular culture we have chosen, consciously or unconsciously. Picture Jimmy Cagney as a gangster: "saaay, you  dirty rat. . ."  Hey, don't laugh. Do you drop the R in gangster or whore and think it makes you hip?  Tell the truth, white boy.

Perhaps you've observed the phenomenon in the way we use the word "selfie" with  gleeful ostentation -- the way my dog runs up and down the hall with a stolen sock. "I'm using it!  I'm saying Selfie!" It's the word, not the picture. The very first pictures taken were self portraits. But try to find a home page in the last year or so that doesn't display the word and a list of the week's best selfies.  Haven't you been trying to work it into your conversations so that people will know you're no outsider to the hip world, the hip-hop world, the world of constant contact, constant entertainment and  Cell Phones -- the real world, that is?

The real world, not that stuffy world where the discomfiture of Napoleon at Waterloo sounds like his boots were pinching his toes and  not that he was routed. We don't want you reading that slop anyway when the interests of this or that special interest group are what matters. We will tell you how to think about the very, very rich by proclamation, by definition, by calling them either plutocrats or "job creators."  We'll tell you whether you're a racist, an antisemite, a Communist, misogynist or a fascist by fiddling with the terms. And they do tell me.  I've been chastised recently for calling one of those conical straw hats a 'coolie' hat. Perhaps in India, Hindi speakers are racists for calling day laborers coolies, the Hindi word for it or perhaps not. Perhaps Joe Biden is a racist for using the word Orient  to describe Singapore, perhaps not. It all depends on what and to whom we're selling and to what purpose and not on the feelings or intentions of the user. After all, we're the police and we'll tell you what you are, punk.

I digress.  My intention was to point out that there is a fairly sudden and fairly recent tendency to start sentences with  "so." So I'm just pointing it out, and perhaps you'll notice it too.  So perhaps your grandchildren will, if it persists, giggle about the dated idiom:  "so I'm like" instead of  "I said" So have you noticed? So I'm just sayin'. Language gotta change and so everything you say will mean something else by Thursday next and everything you write down will be laughed at or called communist or fascist or something else depending on what the language police are yelling about.

So there he goes again, old Fogg, harping on the way language changes and spitting in the eye of the "language gotta change" school of English that encourages you to ignore and accept in the same way as one might encourage another not to get out of bed in the morning -- because after all, "people gotta die."

People like me: people who love language and the freedom available to those who master it are not appreciated by the "lets let the dog choose what we have for dinner" school of rhetoric and perhaps it's because such arguments feed the dogs of  commerce, propaganda and mind control.  Those who control definitions control minds.  So isn't it strange that the people who sneer at "language police" will beat you as  senseless as Rodney King if  you question the definitions of words like sex and gender?  So isn't it strange that we can sternly be told that making a joke about Chinese speakers not being able to pronounce the letter R is racist  as though speaking Chinese made one Chinese?  The language actually uses a harder R than American English, but that's beside the point.   Not strange when you consider the goal of defining nearly everything as racism in order to bully the populace into supporting your fight against racism.

So is it that precise language, as Orwell told us, is the enemy of  verbal manipulation? 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Hell NO!

Brian Williams -- seriously?  6 months suspension with no pay for "misremembering" an incident from the early days of the Iraq war.  Bush's war, the one based on blatant and documented lies.  Did they actually fire at Williams' helicopter 12 years ago or not?  That's what matters. Sure, it was a bit of braggadocio on Williams' part, he should be ashamed to be no better than most politicians with padded resume's and he will be punished. 

Fox News will not be punished for reportage that according to those who supply facts to back it up, supply us with an estimate of  40% outright lies about substantive matters  Another 38% are partly false. Less than 25% of their reportage is really true and the electorate makes their decisions based on damned lies.  They're still on the air.  Is this a double standard?   Is this a country where any use of the term ethics is ironic enough to make the Devil giggle with delight?

Is Brian Williams to be compared with an entire network of burning pants sociopaths?

Steven Emerson:  "There are actual cities" like Birmingham, England, "that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in."


Lyin' Bill O'Reilly:  "The 'Denver Post' has actually hired an editor to promote pot." (Oh really?  No, O'Reilly)  

Sean 'Insanity' Hannity is in a league of his own.

Are there any standards at all when it comes to promoting the interests of the bigots, plutocrats, and the deranged?   Hell no!

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Typhoid Mary's Revenge

Reductio ad absurdum.  Its a common tool used in informal debate both properly or improperly, but although I won't say it's more common with the arguments we hear from the self styled Right, arguments such as this one seem to need no assistance from any opposition to reduce themselves to the ridiculous.  Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) told us this week that the government has no business demanding that the people who handle our food should wash their hands after using the toilet. If you don't see this as ridiculous, you probably shouldn't read further because I'm going to insult you. In fact I mean to insult everyone who considers himself rational but, like all of us, is not. 

Putting principle above survival and practical necessity seems to be a widespread form of  communicable idiocy, for when I mentioned this bit of crepuscular wisdom in jest to some friends last night I got no laughs but rather some grim recitations of the formula "we have too much regulation."  It's the same reaction although from different people, that I got when mentioning that the disastrous BP oil spill would not have resulted if regulations had been followed.  "We have too much regulation."  If you've been listening to the yapping from the Republican kennel for as long as I have, you'll see it as new bullshit in old crocks -- or from old crocks if you prefer. We want law and order but without the law. That absurdum enough for you?

If we assume that in fact we do suffer under excessive regulatory burden, I should think it would be obvious that the gap between that debatable observation and a valid attack on any specific regulation isn't easily leaped with anything but blind faith or the kind of stupidity that removes all obstacles. "All laws reduce freedom -- this is a law -- this reduces my freedom."  Do we really need to ask Aristotle to explain such sophistical refutations? CAn you honestly proceed from a false statement to a valid one? Do laws facilitate freedom? Without law, how do we protect life and liberty?  Who decides what is excessive without laws providing us with the power to do so?  Principle!  it's the defense against having to answer such impertinences.

 Sometimes freedom needs to be reduced, else I could show Mr. Tillis, inter alia, just how much the laws restricting my freedom might be useful to his health.  Getting from the proposition in question to eliminating any particular regulation requires dismissal of the specific need, benefit and effectiveness thereof.  Since I'm sure that regulations against poisoning him wouldn't be on his list of excessive regulation, we can assume that he does give regard to his own safety if not to yours and mine.  Is that dishonest?  Does that reveal some unmentioned contradiction in his logic?  Does it matter when people, all of us, steadfastly believe what suits us to believe irrespective of any native intelligence?

I won't waste much time waiting for Tillis to explain his temerity however.  His audience isn't asking for one, a false syllogism being satisfying enough and as is so common and in line with our ancestry and ancient habit, we put principle above survival, follow it up with brandy and a cigar and call it an evening.  Things will turn out in the end, the invisible hand of the market spreading pestilence more effectively than it spreads wealth and opportunity and justice.  "Restaurants that kill customers will eventually go out of business," is the fallacious foundation of the Tea Party argument -- unless they remain unaccountable in the absence of all regulatory agencies. I wonder too, how much he worries about FAA regulations when he gets on an airplane, or whether his doctor or his cook washes his hands but sure -- consistency and hobgoblins and little minds and besides when it's his ass on the line it's different.

48 million Americans get sick from food born illnesses and 3000 die every year, yet the government has a very hard time doing anything to stop it:  principle, you see and the inviolate rights of corporations.  But Tillis at least is standing up for the little guy, the right of individual free and sovereign citizens to wipe their asses with your lunch.  Principles matter, you know and it's good we have him standing up for freedom.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Doctors and scientists don't want you to know.

You can see them, in fact you can't avoid seeing them in places like Whole Foods acting whole foodier than thou and wearing ill advised lycra and sweat shop shoes. Pushing carts full of  "Organic" foods and spoiled unvaccinated children and heads full of superstition and self-importance they're everywhere you find the upwardly mobile. There's a massive industry out there to support them, make them feel like insiders, to fill their lives with homeopathic remedies, crystals, magic beans, gluten-free, fructose-free food and evidence-free ideas.

Everybody likes to feel special and capitalism is thriving on making us into pop-culture dependent hipsters so proud to have our special exclusive knowledge of hip things, we can hardly fit  our chakras into our yoga pants. Of course the hipsterism isn't only about food: the pure and artisinal assembly lines churn out ant-technological, pseudoscientific bullshit by the megaton and the paranoid neo-Luddites suck it all up along with their raw food and Japanese (because Subaru means love) cars. Guess what, the wheat growers who don't want you to know about the fictitious dangers of gluten, are making a fortune from gluten-free hipster food!  "Studies show" shout the diet doctors.  No they don't, whisper the real scientists. They're not even studies.

Can we go on laughing at the Low Information Right for denying climate change, when people who vote Democratic are equally terrified of telephones and vaccinations and electric meters  -- who tell you "organic food" tastes better or makes you healthier or is free of the terrible toxins we just know are everywhere because Doctor Oz tells us so? Because people who make toxic pesticides from "natural sources" tell us so? 

We are a faith-based nation and whether Evangelist or Atheist or pagan, we cling to our beliefs ever harder as contrary evidence piles up and supporting evidence remains absent. Are we less deranged than the religious extremists who pray while their kids die from preventible illnesses?  We're hipsters and like our tea-sipping opposite numbers we cling to our beliefs because they define who we want so much to be.  We listen only to movie actors and con men in white coats who tell us to eat it raw because science can't be trusted. We drink water imported from Indianapolis or Atlanta and it makes us feel superior and healthier than the philistines from Indianapolis or Atlanta who aren't part of our cult and drink it from the tap.

 Sure, absolutely. The world is full of scientists who live only to fool you about climate change and the dangers of  "processed" foods and "chemical" fertilizers and mysterious toxic energies that can only be warded off with amulets  made of copper or magnets or discarded electronic components. Eat "paleo."  "Eat Raw."  How many people die every year from undercooked food?  Thousands and thousands and millions get sick and die.  A vaccine may soon be found, but never fear, it may save a hundred million lives, but it won't pass the hipster barrier. All it takes is one person to have a toothache afterwards and the hipsters and irate mothers and charlatans will flock like vultures.  No, our lives are toxic and never mind we've doubled our longevity, our disease free productive years and even our size since scientific medicine took hold.

Vaccinations don't cause autism any more than does improper nursing technique or potty training, which used to be blamed for the same reason:  it appears in youngsters. Large, properly conducted, statistically valid studies by real scientists prove it. What? but my niece, nephew, son, daughter were diagnosed after getting vaccinated. That's close enough to a "study" isn't it?  Measles kills. People go deaf and blind and suffer brain damage from it. People exposed to dead viruses aren't more likely to be autistic than people exposed to the live one, but we might as well show a Muslim he should see the truth in Christianity.

Pyramids don't sharpen your razor either.  Gluten doesn't harm or inflame you if you don't have Celiac disease. Sugar doesn't cause hyperactivity, cane sugar isn't less fattening than fruit sugar and neither gives you diabetes, dairy products don't cause excess mucus and hell yes -- calories do count.  Raw food isn't better for you or lessen nutritive value, in fact it can be deadly.  Fluoride in drinking water won't harm you, Iodine in salt won't either. There is no such thing as "grain brain." Soybeans don't 'feminize' you. Remember all that blather about coffee being a killer back in the 80's?  Fake research bought and paid for just like the bogus study. A whole generation still believes it.

Homeopathic medicine is a hoax, mysterious toxins aren't building up in your blood, you don't need regular enemas and no, Obama isn't listening to your thoughts through your Smart Meter. A store I do business with has a sign on the door telling you not to enter with a cell phone. Guns are OK. Which is more dangerous?   Think the fluorescent lights don't put out more RF than a phone?  Think is the key word here. We don't want to, we don't know how to and it's better to be hip, to belong, to feel superior than to be honest or right. 

All those things being advertised as things "doctors don't want you to know" can be pretty safely ignored as scams but the idea that anything new is dangerous.  The idea that science is about hiding evidence may be dangerous to your finances, but when it gets to the point where we experience and tolerate a recrudescence of deadly diseases long since eradicated, it's time for some sort of showdown.  When the man in the white coat selling books and cults tells you there are things "doctors don't want you to know;" that scientists are trying to delude you and pollute your precious bodily fluids, it's time to stand up and slap these idiots down. Enterprise is poisoning our health and our children's just like it's poisoning our politics. Measles, Pertussis, even Polio are returning and these things kill people. Vaccinations don't cause Autism, don't contain Mercury and sorry if I'm offending you again, it's a deadly hoax, a bought and payed for fraud and I don't care what your hipster friend says or what some website says:  it's bullshit.

Bullshit kills