Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
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   globalize Kelly Clarkson's soul
Wednesday, September 18 2002

"Geez, I sure hope that little baby out in the back quits screaming before the woman comes to check out our brownstone," I thought, rubbing my eye from a slight Noah-induced allergic reaction. Then I started singing the spanking song I always sing whenever I'm forced to endure the audible anguish of other's infants.

the survival advantages of the existence of diverse political approaches

I don't think it would matter so much that the United States was gradually slipping into a grim state of Orwellian fascism if it weren't for the fact that it is so united, particularly within the context of a greater form of unity, American-led globalization. Unification of systems, the stamping out of diversity, is socially akin to the biological phenomenon known as monocultural risk. By enforcing one view of the world and gradually supplanting other political and economic systems, the human race risks losing the diversity it needs to maintain its cultural progress and flexibility. There are plenty of examples, so I will provide a short list:

  • The globalization of the American notion of copyright: Even as I write, clones of the manifestly-flawed DMCA are passing in national legislatures throughout the world. These laws all impose heavy sentences on anyone exposing weaknesses in copy-protection schemes, effectively chilling valuable research necessary for the advancement of such fields as cryptography and compression. Furthermore, by advancing the power of globalized media companies (who own the bulk of transmissible world culture) while forever extending this ownership indefinitely over time (effectively starving the public domain), the generation of essential derivative works stagnates or is forced underground.

  • The globalization of American drug laws: Most of our current drug laws have their origins in profoundly racist, jingoistic, and ignorant views of our society and our place in the world. Where skin color couldn't be criminalized, forms of non-mainstream recreation could. Even to this day, demonstrably-erroneous studies are being used to support such prohibitions as those against marijuana. Though occasionally addictive and bad for some people, drugs nonetheless play a powerful role in the ability of people to look at problems from a different vantage point. To criminalize all chemically-induced vantage points on a global scale is to rob the world of billions of fresh insights. In a way, prohibitions against drugs constitute a sort of person-by-person individual imposition of the monoculture being advanced generally. The one mindset we're allowed to have is our "God-given" one (or a few corporate-generated alternatives). The ideas that come under the influence of illegal drugs aren't regarded as being worth the damage the drugs are officially said to cause.

  • The globalization of the puritanical American notion of pornography: Forcing an irrationally child-protective view on the world chills the creative community and renders some forms of once-permissible entertainment and advertising taboo. Examples include: the cover of the Led Zeppelin album House of the Holy, diaper advertising, and, of course, Lolita.

In the long run, I fear, effective globalization will have a stagnating effect on the human race, the likes of which it never experienced in the past. There are plenty of historical examples of such localized stagnation, particularly in isolated geographical regions that were easily-unified in historic or pre-historic times. The biggest and most ecologically-endowed example of this is China, which had a culture more advanced than that of the West until about 1500, after which this politically unified nation entered a long period of technological and political stagnation. Similar stagnation has happened individually to countries in Europe throughout its history, but since Europe itself was so impossible to unify, there was always a supply of individual non-stagnant nations to take the lead from any stagnating superpower. If, for example, Portugal decided not to invest in his crazy scheme to sail west across the Atlantic, Christopher Columbus could probably find another European state that would take the risk. The forces that act upon cultures and steadily improve them are inherently Darwinian, but for Darwinian forces to work their magic, there has to be some initial diversity. It's the lack of diversity that makes a globalized world a stagnant place. I suppose it should come as no surprise that an administration full of Creationists would be willing to risk a monocultural world incapable of Darwinian adaptation. Perhaps they fancy themselves wise enough to alter the culture as conditions change. On this score, however, the present administration seems even less capable than most. For example, in the face of a scientific consensus on global warming, the Bush Administration has unilaterally decided to act as if the problem doesn't exist. Perhaps this reflects their millennial world view; maybe they believe there are no environmental problems because the world is about to end anyway. Don't laugh; this was the view of former Secretary of the Interior James Watt.
The irony, of course, is that the Bush administration supposedly advocates a principle known as states' rights, which should theoretically allow for greater diversity of governance, at least in America. In fact, however, they only show an interest in states' rights when it helps the Christian fundamentalist causes they hold dear, not when it, say, allows for localized liberalization of marijuana laws or permits libraries to come up with non-robot-mediated means for keeping kids away from dirty pictures.

the onerous contract signed by American Idol #1, Kelly Clarkson, and her benosejobbed might-have-beens

Salon is running an article about the contract signed by the desperate American Idol finalists, and it's something of an eye-opener for those who still believe there are some fibers of good-will and art left in the global entertainment oligolith. As you have probably guessed, the terms of the contract didn't surprise me much. What I found more interesting was the naked harshness of the specific language it used. Instead of talking about things "Worldwide," it uses the phrase "throughout the universe." It doesn't exactly talk about "eternity" but the contract does claim "unconditional rights" that are in effect "in perpetuity." The only major difference between its terms and those found on a contract made with the Devil are that this contract never directly mentions an "eternal soul," though that's surely what is meant by "my name, likeness (whether photographic or otherwise), voice, singing voice, personality, personal identification or personal experiences, my life story, biographical data, incidents, situations and events which heretofore occurred or hereafter occur."

commanding the eyeballs

There was a time before billboards screamed my name and targeted advertising at me based on my last ten MasterCardTM purchases - no wait - that time is now, and I'm enjoying it as much as the absence of a toothache. Do you not have a toothache? Isn't it great not to have a toothache? It's an easy feeling to take for granted, so enjoy it while it lasts.
There was a time before every jar and bottle cap had cross-brand promotional text beneath them. I don't usually eat strawberry jam, but tonight I did, and underneath the SmuckersTM lid was the following text, "Please Try Again! Log on to for a chance to win a Walt Disney World Vacation (no purchase necessary)."
Whoever invented selling ad space on the bottom side of jar lids? For some reason, though, it's damn effective. We all look there, even more than we do at the top of lids. If they could somehow find a way to put advertising on asswipe and boogers, they'd really command the eyeballs. [REDACTED]

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