Sunday, December 29, 2013

PR and Smartphones


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What do Smartphones have to do with PR?

Every new technology is the expression of a per-existing meme --which is also true of things like Smartphones -- whose functions are just tekky-nerdy extensions of instinctual, if not animal behaviors harking back to the Paleolithic and beyond.  We cannot escape who we are -- nor who we were.   

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John


If you have been following my blog, you will understand my somewhat peculiar – but not actually original view -- of all PR as an expression of a “Self’ – the “Face”, or at least, Mask by which we both identify ourselves and hide ourselves.

 Identification in this case has two parameters – one is identity through difference; the second is identity through what is shared.   So, let us say, John (above) considers himself a unique individual --and he is ever so eager to tell you about all the things that make him different and special. At the same time, he wants you to know he is just the same as you – not really different from everybody else, "you" also being a collective pronoun.  But all such “identification” has a function, a  purpose and an agenda.  The “Self” is a social tool, which John uses to achieve certain goals -- sex, money, support and all the rest. Of course, this means he is manipulating others perception -- and hiding as much as he reveals.   It is all part of  "personal" PR --“personal” branding.

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Dualistic identification applies to groups-- as well as individuals – in fact to all organizations, institutions, and, of course, governments.  The Catholic Church is at pains to tell you how it is different, especially from Lutherans and their Protestant ilk (they'll burn in Hell) – and yet it also claims ecumenicalism and, by extension,  universality. Yup, People of Faith 'r Us. It's the 'r US meme again -- everybody wants to be "mainstream".  Whether traditional or avant garde, every individual or group thinks their worldview is...well...that of the rest of the world.  So, we all make an effort to “keep up” and look somehow trendy.As the song goes, "We are the world".

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Now,  the Self you think is “You” is not “you” -- not at all .  Rather, as I have said,  it is  utilitarian tool like a shovel to handle social shit – or (just to show that I am "mainstream", too) --a Smartphone.-- a "communication device"  to manage reality, mostly social reality, which means the people around you.

You need your "Self"-- and you need to think it is the whole person -- not a thing --even though it is no more "you" than makeup is your face.     By believing this lie -- you can choose your self and “will oneself",  to do a lot of things –  often the wrong things, since your belief is a priori delusional.   Mostly we don’t get to choose anything at all. Other people chose for us. The Self is not even our puzzle to solve..  The pieces belong to others.  And people who say, "I do this because I am Me, this kind of person" commit the most egregious mistakes, if not crimes.

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Delusions 'r Us.

For a lot of people, Smartphones are not just accessories to social life – they are social life.  They allow us to “fit in”, to be a member of the group – most important of all – to pretend to be a member of the group -- because their is some part of us which will never, ever fit.  We can imagine what life might have been without them. 

  How-your-smartphone-can-get-you-out-of-a-socially-awkward-situation 

We can imagine what life might have been without them. 


stone_age_2But what is a Smartphone?

It is an device consisting of a GUI -- all those icons --on top of a usually hidden and proprietary OS  composed of often contradictory  modules -- which is why it sometimes doesn't work right.

 “Proprietary" means the modules don’t really belong to you – they were created by somebody else – and are hard to change because they are invisible and you don’t know their mechanism.   Providers will always tell you that a lot of really, really smart people – that is people smarter than you made the phone – and you shouldn’t fuck with it, which-- anyway-- would be a copyright violation. And, at the very least void your warranty.

  1293862079828_4785436Copyright-Protection

Every now and then, you look at your list of apps in your Smartphone—and you think “I didn’t know I had that”. And you try to delete it – not that you really understand what it is -- but you can’t because the OS won’t let you.  Trust God. Trust Daddy. Trust your Provider.  They move in mysterious ways.

foto-locked-down-iphone

This brings us back to this whole "Self", Smartphone", PR thing.  You --as a "tool" (pun intended0  are also a kind of device – a device, with a GUI and an OS whose workings are a mystery  and largely derivative.  The "Self", that is, your Persona -- enables social communication -- which is ultimately aimed at getting something -- so, by definition, " PR"  Of course, it isn't just words, anymore than a Smartphone is just 'text"  Personal PR is also what you do and don't do.  The medium is the message

Of course, there is a meta-message, too – which may not be so pleasant.



That meta-message is the stuff inside, revealed accidentally, rather like Anthony Weiner's penis.



Nice Guy or Good Girl -- you are many people – some of whom would horrify mom, dad, your children, and your wife or husband – not to mention your “self”, when you realize that, yes, you do have a tiny dick.

Do you enjoy Dexter?   Maybe that's because inside you is a psychopathic killer –you really would like to cut out somebody’s heart and eat it.   But across the hall , in your spiritual-emotional-mental dorm is Sweet Jesus, who is also "you". Oh, who confusing... Thank God, we have a Self to keep things straight.

In extreme situations – like war – some of these other selves come out. Heroes – or Sadistic-Rapist Murderers -- and (of course) or just Ordinary People who do the Wrong Thing because everyone is doing it -- or the Right Thing because of instinctive altruism.   War is hard on the Self-Aware -- which is a misnomer -- because awareness of  'Self' is awareness of  Non-Self  (Self) -- which inevitably means PTSD or Survivor’s Guilt or just crushing regret.

 
Self and Non Self.  Or, as the philosopher, Merleau Ponty put it: sense and nonsense.  Such contradiction is  true of every individual – and, as I have said, of  every group, from families to political parties.

6a00d8341c60bf53ef019aff6ae958970dYou might think the Nazis were monsters – but they thought they were the Good Guys.  Their PR was  consistent with this moral “Self”, which  drew upon the contradictions of the culture to which is represented itself and which gave it birth.   In this sense, the collective guilt of the German people was deserved, if imposed from without by the conquering Allies.   Similarly,  the collective innocence of the Japanese who General MacArthur saw as a nation of children and therefore not responsible was a false judgment. There is one abiding rule to social reality – we are responsible, not just for ourselves—but for all others.

Does this mean we are totally fucked, at both the individual and the social level?   Yes. And no.
We can change ourselves. And we can change the groups to which we belong. But first, we must be aware of our own contradictions --and social and cultural contradictions, as well. We must also accept responsibility as social animals.  Not easy – but still possible -- if we have realistic feedback to serve as a reference point for introspection.

Then arises the question:  who will remind of us what we probably already know – but choose to ignore?  Who will confront us? Who will burst our ballons? The answer is truth tellers --  people like Julian Assange or Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden – who hack our mental Smartphone from the outside, sending messages that we cannot filter out or ignore.

whistle-blower

Whistleblowers and truthtellers are not just party poopers-- they are  officially and evitably outside the Law --that set of proprietary commands necessary to the cultural System. 

Truthtelling, alas, is a-systematic – it transcends social morals and ethics– and inflicts the pain of cognitive dissonance on us .  Shifting back to the Smarphone analogy,  truthtelling is a system hack that gives us insight into the OS – but it usually requires some fiddling and downtime – and can be irritating. Socrates was forced to drink hemlock not so much because he forced people to consider the truth but because -- rather like Julian Assange  -- he was a pain the ass.  We are Comfort Machines and the Pleasure Principle drives us to  punish our Truth tellers.  And so it is that the  proverbial Prophets without honor in their own country become martyrs.  

sanctions

Nelson Mandela, as we saw in last week’s blog was like that. A truth teller, imprisoned for 30 years, until his particular “hack” of the system was incorporated in a OS. 

DrazenErdemovic 

Or consider Drazen Erdemovic, a Serbian-Croat who participated in a massacre of Bosnian Muslims.  He had refused to fire   – but his Serb commander told him that if he didn’t kill  he would die, too..  Erdemovic  reasonably determined that his refusal to kill would just add one more innocent casualty without affecting the outcome -- but by staying alive --he could report the massacre later .  So he killed and he reported what he did and was tried and sentenced to prison.     The law is the Law said the International Tribunal -- quite stupidly protecting the System.  Erdemovic was another truth teller—and a hero.  But an irritant -- because he brought up vexing questions.  

Most people would have retreated to their comfort zone, with convenient rationalizations.  Erdemovic could not.

….because of everything that happened, I of my own will, without being either arrested and interrogated or put under pressure, admitted even before I was arrested in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, I admitted to what I did to this journalist and I told her at that time that I wanted to go to the International Tribunal, that I wanted to help the International Tribunal understand what happened to ordinary people like myself in Yugoslavia...


And….

…. My lawyer, …he told me, "Dražen, can you change your mind, your decision? I do not know what can happen. I do not know what will happen." I told him because of those victims, because of my consciousness, because of my life, because of my child and my wife, I cannot change what I said to this journalist and what I said in Novi Sad, because of the peace of my mind, my soul, my honesty, because of the victims and war and because of everything. Although I knew that my family, my parents, my brother, my sister, would have problems because of that, I did not want to change it. Because of everything that happened I feel terribly sorry, but I could not do anything. When I could do something, I did it. 

The irony is that the inflexible social code that the Tribunal followed was no less cruel and inflexible than the code that made monsters of the Serbs --  a locked code.

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Erdemovic, by contrast, had unlocked his mind and made an ethical decision based on self-awareness.

Which brings us back (once again)  to Smartphones are devices.  The Law is a Device.  Neither smartphones or the Law are “smarter” than their users --in particular, Law, which without justice, as Gandhi, says is, a species of violence.   

All devices – including social systems – are unintelligent -- to the extent that they are static (more about that in another post).  It is up to us to endow them with consciousness – and conscience-- and force them to adapt and change and evolve.  
 
There are many ironies here.  For example, if the System were truly “smart” – then,  it would grant Manning, Assange and Snowden not only immunity but medals and glory. Of course, under present circumstances, that would mean they would be co-opted and their message lost.  Fortunately, the Idiots-at-the-Helm who pretend to be managing things are too stupid to give any Truth teller his or her due. Christ was a Truth teller, too – a prophet—or, as Islam would have it – a “messenger” (although not the last one).

Imagine if Christ had not been crucified.  Christianity  would be an obscure, Middle Eastern offshoot of Judaism still, if it existed at all.   But his martyrdom made possible a a whole family of Smartphone apps.

Next on the agenda…family newsletters as PR…..

Saturday, December 7, 2013

PR as a Selfie

Nelson Mandela is dead.   And in remembering him, a lot of people choose to forget.

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They forget the real person, what he stood for and what happened in the end when released from prison, he became president of South Africa and oversaw the transition of a divided nation of   -- rich and poor,   separate from birth by law and race-- to a supposedly freer nation --rich and poor still separate from birth --not by law or race --just by the cruelty of economic circumstance. Now, black and white can mix freely -- if they have the money. 


Post image for South Africa’s untold tragedy of neoliberal apartheid
 
The world sheds its tears -- all kinds of tears -- as people compete to show fashionable grief--  that they are relevant and informed and open-minded and tolerant, in all the usual ways. The tears are virtual-- rather than real. 

To go with our designer T shirts, we must have designer emotions.

Most of the world does not lament passing of the man all. After all, it was quite happy to let him rot in a prison cell for thirty years --he, who could have been Assange, Manning, Snowden of his day,  --except for his maintaining steadfastly the option of armed insurrection  Mandela is largely mourned as an icon --created by culture and the media. Just click on the icon and watch alternative history play.


Yes, Mandela as just an opportunity for a Selfie. His eulogists -- David Cameron and Obama, for example, don't give a shit.  If Mandela had remained a Freedom Fighter, he probably would have been droned or assassinated by a Seal Team.

Fortunately for Mandela he be became a Facebook Hero.  And his death, an opportunity for self-congratulation.  There is nothing too sad, even the death of a man, that it cannot be commodified.

So the outpouring we see has nothing to do with Mandela -- certainly nothing at all to do with his principles and values -- certainly nothing to do with what he suffered for. It has everything to do with us --and our need to look good. As I said, it is a giganormous Selfie.

facebook fakebook Our Sad Future Online: Fake Likes, Fake Friends, Fake Fans
Oh, how terrible,  you say and  you post your feelings to the 2,345 people who have “friended you”, of which you have actually met 14 -- along with a  photo of this morning’s eggs and bacon and the new brown shoes you bought yesterday.  I am so sad-- and shall I wear blue or brown?

Mandela?  Who was he?  Yesterday’s terrorist, friend of Fidel and Gaddafi and Arafat?

,,,we would countenance no loss of life. But if sabotage did not produce the results we wanted, we were prepared to move on to the next stage: guerrilla war and terrorism.

Was Mandela instead a  peacemaker who forgave murderers and torturers to buy the friendship of conglomerates that rapping not just Africa but the rest of the world?     No matter -- the man's's dead.  So it's time for a happy outpouring of sorrow. We live in an Age of Irony, in which Morality is confused with banal Normality.

Cartoon: potential terrorist! (medium) by ademmm tagged terror,america,iraq,war,usa,soldier

Implicit in this outpouring of fake emotion is a denial of collective shame – that so many people are too stupid and lazy to turn off the TV and do something – like thinking.

Of course, you cannot think when you are asleep.




Some people go through their entire lives asleep. It has been that way for some time.

Until recently people went to school, studied, dated married, worked, had kids, too vacations, grew old and died, completely asleep  --clutching their remotes desperately  so they can reach out to the TV, as once people reached out a friend or lover.

But we have evolved. .  While we still spend our lives in dreamland, our cellphones have become our technological umbilicals to virtuality, a wider virtuality, true -- and one with the potential to be something else -- but mostly a way to forget the sometimes jarring reality of things and people.



Banality, said Hannah Arendt, echoing her lover Heidegger, is the source of evil.   Banality is  , somnolence, sloth,  uncritical belief -- forgetfulness.  We open our eyes --only when our immediate survival is threatened – and then it is usually too late.

There are two groups of people, lost to this kind of normapathy. .

There are those who just don't give a fuck.  As in:  apartheid?  WTF?  That was in Africa, dude. We were AOK where we are, and like apartheid  was before anyway. Before?

Before what? What has changed?  Things like racism and apartheid and the like do not die -- they reincarnate in different forms, with different names, which is why we have had so many genocides, why the fascism that epitomized by Nazism appears also in colonialism, corporatism, Zionism, Americanism and endless list of 'isms".

The WTF group don't see this endless struggle.  Or maybe they -- but WTF.

In contrast, however, there is another group of normapaths.   These are those, mostly centrists, wo give lip service to all the progressive ideas -- in polls  -- because they want to look good, which means keeping up with traffic on the ideological Mainstreet.   .  It's that Selfie thing again.

These are the  people  are in favor of compromise -- decriminalizing marijuana but not legalizing it  --educational reform and charter schools, too -- equality without redistribution of wealth -- a two-state solution in Palestine -- with Gaza and the WestBank as bantustans.


 
In polls, these people support the labeling of GMO foods but vote against it in referendums -- if they vote at all.  These are the people that gave us George Bush instead of Nader, Obama instead of Kucinich.

The "center" is banal.  It wants to look 'progressive' because it wants to be 'in', not 'out', like people who don't own smartphones.  If Tea Party and their like are crazy, the Center through sins of omission are subtly evil.

 Looking back over time. Mandela stayed in prison a long, long time because so many people simply didn't care, really.    

 No guilt

Yes, but we have a life, you say.  We have to care about that, too.   A good point, yes.

Because in a few years, that life of yours will be threatened.

 The world’s population is increasing beyond its limits -- and with it inequality and the abuses of power. On the horizon is total destruction of the environment, presaged by war, famine, and disease, endangering humankind as a species. The more comfortable you are now – the more risk you face later. And when you die -- in the Great Dying sure to come --  who will shed tears for you – there will be no one left to cry -- not even to affect the kind of faux grief so many express for Mandela.



 If you truly mourn Mandela,   mourn the revolutionary -- and mourn yourself and your children and their children, too. .

Mourn your comfy couch, our TV,  time at the mall, TV and cheap gasoline, Desperate Housewives, the Superbowl-- and all the things you use to remain oblivious.
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If  we truly mourn Mandela, we should feel mourn the children killed in Yemen and Pakistan by American bombs. We should mourn the innocents killed by Israeli bullets.  We should mourn the innocents killed by police on our own streets. We should mourn the death of democratic process.    The sadness we feel should fuel anger.

Mandela stayed in jail a long time.  Likewise, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange.   Snowden will stay in exile.   Our society loathes men and women of principle.  .

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So if you are one of those who see the death of Mandela as an opportunity for a Selfie -- please un-friend me.  And I don't want to see photos of your breakfast either.   


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Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Zig Zag Look at 9/11 With Thanks to Robert Fisk

As I argued in my last blog post, we want simple answers to big questions.  More than that we want convenient answers. 
The “inconvenient truth” is that 9/11 was blowback for American policy mistakes – if not American misdeeds – in the Middle East. What goes road, comes round. 
Who came up with the idea to crash airliners into buildings and other facilities?  That idea had been around for a long time. It wasn’t some innovative, new concept dreamed up by Evil Masterminds, Osamu and his devilish crew.
Nineteen young nutcases  (the “Nutty 19”) ran across the idea, thinking of ways to get back at the US for its involvement in Palestinian Occupation .   9/11 represented a “tipping point”, with a lot of different factors coming together to trigger a catastrophe.  
What exactly those factors were and their relative significance are  matter of debate.  But clearly a lot of them particularly – US support for Arab autocracies and also Zionism – are just not talked about.
Instead, the US blames Al Qaeda and radical Islam, with Al Qaeda playing the role of Satan, as Torquemada knew it and radical Islam a worthy successor to Heresy.  In reality, 9/11 came about through the intersection of  the Nutty 19 and incompetent law enforcement against the background of American and British imperial abuse.
Robert Fisk says it best in the Independent.  I am reprising his superb article with annotations.  For those who just want to read the article without my zizag, non-linear distractions, go here:  http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-for-10-years-weve-lied-to-ourselves-to-avoid-asking-the-one-real-question-2348438.html
Robert Fisk: For 10 years, we've lied to ourselves to avoid asking the one real question
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By their books, ye shall know them.  

Or by their lack of them. Since Americans can no longer read more than 140 characters a time.   http://forums.4aynrandfans.com/index.php?showtopic=14048 (Thread on cognitive dementia)


I'm talking about the volumes, the libraries – nay, the very halls of literature – which the international crimes against humanity of 11 September 2001 have spawned. Many are spavined with pseudo-patriotism and self-regard, others rotten with the hopeless mythology of CIA/Mossad culprits, a few (from the Muslim world, alas) even referring to the killers as "boys", almost all avoiding the one thing which any cop looks for after a street crime: the motive.  

Bush knew the motive.  “They hate us for our Freedoms”.  His reaction – to get rid of the freedoms.  But somehow we are still hated. 
http://americablog.com/2013/05/what-obama-doesnt-get-terrorism-is-driven-by-foreign-occupation-not-ideology.html  

 
Not sure if they hate us for our freedom or because we steal their resources install puppet dictators fund their enemies

Why so, I ask myself, after 10 years of war, hundreds of thousands of innocent deaths, lies and hypocrisy and betrayal and sadistic torture by the Americans – our MI5 chaps just heard, understood, maybe looked, of course no touchy-touchy nonsense – and the Taliban? Have we managed to silence ourselves as well as the world with our own fears? Are we still not able to say those three sentences: The 19 murderers of 9/11 claimed they were Muslims. They came from a place called the Middle East. Is there a problem out there?  
 
The problem was creating a proper narrative in good Hollywood Style.  it took time But in the end we were rescued by Sly and the rest. And it all made a good video game. 
http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2005-02-07-military-projects_x.htm

 


American publishers first went to war in 2001 with massive photo-memorial volumes. Their titles spoke for themselves: Above Hallowed Ground, So Others Might Live, Strong of Heart, What We Saw, The Final Frontier, A Fury for God, The Shadow of Swords... Seeing this stuff piled on newsstands across America, who could doubt that the US was going to go to war? And long before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, another pile of tomes arrived to justify the war after the war. Most prominent among them was ex-CIA spook Kenneth Pollack's The Threatening Storm – and didn't we all remember Churchill's The Gathering Storm? – which, needless to say, compared the forthcoming battle against Saddam with the crisis faced by Britain and France in 1938.

Not that anyone actually read the books. What are books for?  For coffee tables, of course. http://itsnotalecture.blogspot.jp/2007/11/nobody-reads-anymore.html
coffee-table-giant-book 
There were two themes to this work by Pollack – "one of the world's leading experts on Iraq," the blurb told readers, among whom was Fareed Zakaria ("one of the most important books on American foreign policy in years," he drivelled) – the first of which was a detailed account of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction; none of which, as we know, actually existed. The second theme was the opportunity to sever the "linkage" between "the Iraq issue and the Arab-Israeli conflict".  
 
This was considered a “collateral” advantage of the war -- since there could be no real connection made between 9/11 and the Zionist Occupation.
 http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-logic-of-suicide-terrorism/
 
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The Palestinians, deprived of the support of powerful Iraq, went the narrative, would be further weakened in their struggle against Israeli occupation. Pollack referred to the Palestinians' "vicious terrorist campaign" – but without any criticism of Israel. He wrote of "weekly terrorist attacks followed by Israeli responses (sic)", the standard Israeli version of events. America's bias towards Israel was no more than an Arab "belief". Well, at least the egregious Pollack had worked out, in however slovenly a fashion, that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had something to do with 9/11, even if Saddam had not. 
 
 Pollack wanted to separate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from 9/11 .  The Zionist occupation was so clearly immoral and illegal And America so complicit in it that the idea of blowblack opened a whole barrel of worms.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2O72o3Eu2g&noredirect=1

In the years since, of course, we've been deluged with a rich literature of post-9/11 trauma, from the eloquent The Looming Tower of Lawrence Wright to the Scholars for 9/11 Truth, whose supporters have told us that the plane wreckage outside the Pentagon was dropped by a C-130, that the jets that hit the World Trade Centre were remotely guided, that United 93 was shot down by a US missile, etc. Given the secretive, obtuse and sometimes dishonest account presented by the White House – not to mention the initial hoodwinking of the official 9/11 commission staff – I am not surprised that millions of Americans believe some of this, let alone the biggest government lie: that Saddam was behind 9/11. Leon Panetta, the CIA's newly appointed autocrat, repeated this same lie in Baghdad only this year.


Hollywood, Hollywood, Hollywood.  Fiction is so much easier than reality.
 http://fpif.org/the_banal_militarism_of_hollywood/
 
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There have been movies, too. Flight 93 re-imagined what may (or may not) have happened aboard the plane which fell into a Pennsylvania wood. Another told a highly romanticised story, in which the New York authorities oddly managed to prevent almost all filming on the actual streets of the city. And now we're being deluged with TV specials, all of which have accepted the lie that 9/11 did actually change the world – it was the Bush/Blair repetition of this dangerous notion that allowed their thugs to indulge in murderous invasions and torture – without for a moment asking why the press and television went along with the idea. So far, not one of these programmes has mentioned the word "Israel" – and Brian Lapping's Thursday night ITV offering mentioned "Iraq" once, without explaining the degree to which 11 September 2001 provided the excuse for this 2003 war crime. How many died on 9/11? Almost 3,000. How many died in the Iraq war? Who cares? 

I wonder if anyone really cares about the 3000?  The movies were popular.  And movies are entertainment.  Did we enjoy these movies because we knew people had actually died?
 http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/media/july-dec99/violence_9-24.htm



 
Count the people you actually care about.  Family. Friends. Beyond the circumference of this circle you do not really care.
 http://io9.com/how-could-we-engineer-humans-to-have-more-empathy-514480050

 
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Publication of the official 9/11 report – in 2004, but read the new edition of 2011 – is indeed worth study, if only for the realities it does present, although its opening sentences read more like those of a novel than of a government inquiry. "Tuesday ... dawned temperate and nearly cloudless in the eastern United States... For those heading to an airport, weather conditions could not have been better for a safe and pleasant journey. Among the travellers were Mohamed Atta..." Were these guys, I ask myself, interns at Time magazine? 

 


















But I'm drawn to Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan whose The Eleventh Day confronts what the West refused to face in the years that followed 9/11. "All the evidence ... indicates that Palestine was the factor that united the conspirators – at every level," they write. One of the organizers of the attack believed it would make Americans concentrate on "the atrocities that America is committing by supporting Israel". Palestine, the authors state, "was certainly the principal political grievance ... driving the young Arabs (who had lived) in Hamburg".
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The motivation for the attacks was "ducked" even by the official 9/11 report, say the authors. The commissioners had disagreed on this "issue" – cliché code word for "problem" – and its two most senior officials, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, were later to explain: "This was sensitive ground ...Commissioners who argued that al-Qa'ida was motivated by a religious ideology – and not by opposition to American policies – rejected mentioning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict... In their view, listing US support for Israel as a root cause of al-Qa'ida's opposition to the United States indicated that the United States should reassess that policy." And there you have it.
cat
So what happened? The commissioners, Summers and Swan state, "settled on vague language that circumvented the issue of motive". There's a hint in the official report – but only in a footnote which, of course, few read. In other words, we still haven't told the truth about the crime which – we are supposed to believe – "changed the world for ever". Mind you, after watching Obama on his knees before Netanyahu last May, I'm really not surprised.
When the Israeli Prime Minister gets even the US Congress to grovel to him, the American people are not going to be told the answer to the most important and "sensitive" question of 9/11: why? 
 
It gets down to this. Most people don’t really want to know “why”.  Because if you know “why”, then you want to do something.  And that means joining with other people, expanding the circle of care  which normally applies to your immediate social tribe to others.  It means commitment, and hard work,  and also risk.  There are very few people willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. There are few Mannings and Assanges and Snowdens.  Most people just want to be comfortable. Are the “People” manipulated by propaganda – or just lazy?

 http://www.today.com/id/30312181/ns/today-today_books/t/me-me-me-americas-narcissism-epidemic/#.UgnqO9ItTcw
 
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Thursday, July 18, 2013

PR and Linearity

PR, Gods, and Men….
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PR has its gods. They wear nice suits and have pretty secretaries and big offices, close to Heaven on the top floor. And they tell ordinary people – simple mortals – that they are all powerful—that they can make anything happen, which is to say, they can sell anything.  In a universe where everything is a commodity,  PR Man is the Prime Mover.

We believe PR Man because He tells us we must believe;  magicians, hypnotists, or prophets -- a little faith goes a long way. Or, maybe it just is,  as someone once said – we want "hope you can believe in."

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Of course, when things don’t go as they should, when our hopes are dashed,   PR has its excuses – just like religion.:  "Free Will" –'the “market” "changed its mind' – "the Plan behind the Plan" beyond your merely mortal comprehension. Then, there is, "We thought this might happen so we have a Plan B”. Pray that PR does not fail because you will end up paying more. Plan B is always expensive.

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Bottom line: the PR people are going to keep on making money, exploiting your need to believe that things don’t just happen – they can be made to happen .

PR people are social creationists.  And they care.  Particularly about baby dinosaurs, which become big monsters like Verizon and Citibank and Goldman Sachs.

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PR Man doesn’t want you to believe in accidents, in random mutation and survival of the fittest – or mindless adaptation—or your own power. You don’t want to believe in such things either –it’s simply not comfortable – especially that last thing, personal power, which would demand some degree of responsibility. We hate chaos, randomness.  We all want to trust “Design”.  We may be puppets -- but remember, a puppet's strings support him.

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The human mind is set up to see patterns and to look for causation. We want to know what is happening and why – at all times. In nature--or in any high threat situation-- this capability offers obvious advantages – survival.  So, simple is better. PR “makes” the public mind, yours and mine; it sets up simple heuristics to guide our actions -- all against in the context of a basic sets of “facts”.

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Human beings want cognitive linearity.  One thing happens and then there is a consequence, more or less in proportion to the first thing. A, B, C….one, two, three….  You hit me. I hit you. Why did I hit you? Because you hit me.  And why did you do that?  You’re an asshole—that’s why – who cares about the details.  I don’t really care about truth – only consistency.

Linearity of this kind reduces things to simple denominators, straight lines, singular dimensionality. It ignores that in nature complex events are often  interconnected with thousands of others, in what I will call a  non-linear, multidimensional cognitive matrix.

Unfortunately, the universe doesn’t give a damn about our needs.  A butterfly flaps its wings in central Africa. An empire falls.   A million die.  And you are born.   Or not….
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A bunch of guys with box cutters take over some airliners and destroy the world’s tallest buildings which prompts illegal wars against two countries that had nothing to do with it. A million lives (or more) are lost . The world’s most powerful democracy lurches towards totalitarianism. The global economy reels.  And airports spread fungeal infections as people take off their shoes.

Life is complicated.  Our our simple hunter and gatherer brains grasp non-linearity – and recoil.    We just want to eat, play, fuck, sleep.  Anything more complicated than one..two…three..four… is an Act of God,  a kind of theological conspiracy by a Force beyond our control. Forget the Koch brothers – God screwed you over. The buck stops at the Big Man’s desk.

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Human beings want comfort and convenience. But occasionally they wake to an apocalyptic vision like Neo did in the Matrix.    Most of us just pull the covers over our heads and go back to sleep, shutting out the cacaphony of chaos.

Now, you probably sneer at people like the “Truthers” and the Alex Jones crowd, with their conspiracy theories.   9/11 was a CIA-Mossad plot, a ‘False Flag’ Exercise?  Isn’t that absurdly non-linear?  Wheels within wheels?  LOL!   Actually no – a Truther theory is beautifully linear – and rather simple devolving from some basic facts:

A.) Conspiracies do happen!  
B.)  Governments always lie and cover things up. 
C.) You’re powerless to do anything

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One…two….three….. Was the CIA  behind the Twin Towers catastrophe? OK, OK…so Popular Mechanics has decisively rebutted all the technical evidence that 9/11 conspiracists cite.  That doesn’t shake the faith of believers at all….. Because “linear” thinking is not based on logic but rather on a need to believe – above all,on a need to see order.

Right, you say, I’m not like that.

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Really?   In PR – also propaganda and advertising--this need to believe, this hankering for order  is our bread and butter.    And the fact that you can put down the Truthers so conveniently, so easily, shows we have done our job well. Did you actually read the Popular Mechanics’ rebuttals? No?  You didn’t because you just accepted the conventional explanation for 9/11.




Conventional 9/11 wisdom relies on a bigger, better, grander conspiracy theory.    Sorry, Alex Jones – you get second prize.

When 9/11 happened, the Bush Government – with the help of people like me – came up with a linear conspiracy theory which really makes the Truther’s ideas small, if not microscopic potatoes.  And a majority of Americans went with it – and still do.  If you believe in the “War on Terror” – to any extent --you bought into this theory. If you accept that the Homeland Security, the TSA, PRISM, FISA courts, the Patriot Act, and over 600 military bases overseas are necessary, you are also buying into the theory.

 Back in November, while a group of heavily armed service men and women were going through security, the TSA swooped in on the deadliest weapon of all. Not the rifles or high-powered pistols they were carrying, oh no. It was their nail clippers that got confiscated.

Even before the TSA went on their power kick, they were pretty unforgiving. In 2008, a woman was forced to remove her nipple rings in a Dallas airport. She was told she could not board until she removed them, so she was taken behind a curtain and managed to remove one bar-shaped piercing but had trouble with the second, a ring. Crying, she said she couldn't remove it without pliers, which the male attendants quickly provided as they snickered at her situation.


 The Bush Government did not want to accept that the 9/11 plotters were just a small bunch of Egyptian and Saudi crazies with the boxcutters who got luck because the people charged with catching them were a vast bureaucracy of mentally challenged people.  Ordinary people are powerless, right?    Instead, the Twin Towers were brought low by   a huge, international conspiracy -- masterminded by a collection of evil geniuses .  There was Osamu Bin Laden, the one-eyed mullah in the Taliban, and Saddam Hussein – for starters, .  These people were all agents of  “Terror”.  And behind them were mobs of swarthy, psychopathic killers who hate us for our I-Phones.

Defeating such Evil required full-scale war, which would be neverending because we would could never win – only maintain a kind of lethal balance by giving up our civil liberties,  killing people indiscriminately, and taking our nail clippers and nipple rings..  The model was Paradise Lost – but a Hollywood remake so…  Satan – get another job – casting has determined you are soooooooo ‘retro’.

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Two illegal wars and a million or two deaths later, with chunks of the Middle East rendered radioactive and lots of two-headed babies,  the Obama Government recapitulated the conspiracy.  The “Surge” moved to Afghanistan, we murdered kids with robots, and force-fed Afghan taxi drivers because we did not want to admit they were not terrorists.  We chased down whistleblowers and began spying on …well… everyone … millions, maybe billions…because the Enemy, the Evil…was …everywhere.

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Of course, this cost a lot of money.   Conspiracy stuff like this is a huge money maker for the zombie corporations that feed off the body public..  

 So, who’s crazier.  The “Truthers”? Or the average American?

I’m not much into conspiracy theories.  But I think I would rather go with Alex  Jones.  His version is at least less pernicious. A witch-hunt at the CIA would have been a lot better than drone bombing Yemen.  And it probably would have saved a lot of tax dollars.

Oh, if only the “Truthers” version of events had prevailed—you might still have a democracy.

  Alex Jones and his ilk are crazy -- just they really might have a point!

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 Then again, in a different world,  I would be out of a job.