Monday, February 20, 2017

“Inappropriate,” the Power Elite's Ubiquitous Euphemism

Dateline: WASHINGTON, D.C.—Experts discover that American politicians, pundits, and journalists frequently say “That’s not appropriate” when they really mean, “I want to tear out your intestines and strangle you with them for doing that.”

Leslie Montague, psychologist at Pick Your Brains Medical Center in Scranton, began researching the euphemism when she saw CNN correspondent Jim Acosta at President Trump’s news conference.

Acosta attempted to ask the president a question, but Trump denied CNN the opportunity, calling CNN “fake news.” When Acosta persisted, Trump berated him with sarcastic remarks before sending his bodyguards to beat Acosta to a pulp. Still Acosta attempted to pose his question, and Trump dragged Acosta’s wife onto the stage and whipped her until she was screaming and crying for God to make it stop.

Said Montague, “That’s when Jim Acosta turned to look at Trump squarely in the eye, and he said weakly, blood dripping from his mouth, ‘Mr. President, that’s not appropriate.’

Montague studied the recording of that encounter and found that in between the blows and Taser assaults Acosta received at the hands of the bodyguards, the reporter kept meekly uttering the same phrase, “Not appropriate.”

“Acosta was smashed in the face by a baton and he muttered only, ‘This is inappropriate.’ A bodyguard kicked him in the groin, Acosta sank to the floor and he croaked, ‘Not appropriate, Mr. President.’ They beat his wife in front of the world, but Acosta knew his place. All he could do was to squeak like a mouse, saying the magic word: ‘Inappropriate.’”

Montague hypothesized that Acosta was using that word as a euphemism. “Clearly, Acosta would rather have said or done something else in response to the abuse and humiliation, but he seemed to realize that only his reference to what is or isn’t appropriate in Washington would allow him to fly under the radar, as it were.”

Politicians also resort to using that phrase. After George W. Bush accidentally launched nuclear missiles at Canada, wiping that country from the face of the Earth, Barack Obama said in his campaign for change, “That was most inappropriate. We need new leadership.”

A political pseudoscientist at the Machiavelli Institute interprets the euphemism as an inside joke among establishment figures. She said, “When politicians or other powerful persons condemn something with such an understatement, saying merely that it’s inappropriate, they’re thumbing their nose at the English language. The implication is that these power elites are too busy to think of a more fitting description of the matter, and anyway they’re too macho to want to get revenge just with words. These are men of action, so when they call something inappropriate, what they mean is that they’ll respond later by some underhanded means. They don’t want to call attention to their plan, so they employ the most innocuous expression they can think of.”

Wallace Wallaby, political pseudoscientist at the Class Warfare Academy, has a different interpretation. “The constant references you hear in D.C. and in other corridors of power to how this or that is inappropriate are actually quasi-religious expressions,” he said. “These powerful individuals are functionaries in a system that they worship. It’s the system and the deep state that decide what’s appropriate, or what’s fitting for an assigned purpose. So saying that something is appropriate is like saying it’s in God’s hands. Calling something inappropriate is the secular equivalent of saying, ‘God damn it!’”

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Comedians Replace Democrats to Oppose Psycho Clown Republicans

To address the challenge presented by the new Republican Party, the Democratic Party has been replaced by a bevy of comedians.

The challenge began in 2017 when President Donald Trump made psychopathy cool. Henceforth the Republicans became informally known as the Psycho Clown Posse. Trump capitalized on the press’s bad press, further demonizing journalists whom the American public already trusted less than lawyers and politicians.

Trump’s real enemy, however, was the truth about reality. The press was only the messenger, and because the President’s narcissism detached him from external reality, the press was always the bearer of bad news about how Trump’s grandiose schemes crashed on the shores of a world that’s naturally indifferent to him.    

Declaring war on that world for the unforgivable sin of not loving Trump as much as he loves himself, the President created an alternative reality, using Fox News, Alex Jones’ conspiracy theories, shameless advisors and spokespeople, and his personal Twitter account to create a carnival culture that captured the public’s imagination.

The Democrats were caught flatfooted by this turn of events. Liberal pundits assumed they could counter Republican fantasies merely by pointing out the facts. When the public preferred to believe the fantasies, such as that Barak Obama is a Muslim communist, that Trump had the largest inauguration audience, that millions voted illegally for Hillary Clinton, or that the press is the enemy of the American people, Democrats startled Republicans by searching for the switch on the back of their necks which they believed must have got stuck in the wrong position.

As one Democratic senator explained, “We’re all robots, of course, so the Republicans’ logic circuits must be broken. All we have to do is reset their software so they can appreciate the value of facts, statistics, and other forms of accurate information.”

When in 2018 it turned out there’s no such switch on the back of Americans’ necks, and people are more like irrational animals than logic-loving Vulcans or robots, the Democrats fell out of favour, losing seats in that year’s congressional election.

Comedians came to the rescue, using satire and parody rather than history or science to unsettle Americans about the embarrassing state of their society. As one of the leaders of the Comedian Party explained, “Our philosophy is simple: when you’re dealing with an insane opponent, stop playing by the old rules and pretending you can appeal to reality to trump his fantasy. Instead, you take for granted that the truth is on your side, and you ridicule the daylights out of the psycho clowns until they can no longer be taken seriously and their circus becomes a sideshow.”

In 2019 Stephen Miller and Kellyanne Conway continued to practice the political clown’s art of agnotology, which is the spreading of disinformation and doubt for the purpose of gaslighting the public, of persuading them to accept a world of “alternative facts,” as Conway inadvertently called it. The Comedians responded by mocking the Psycho Clown Party for the banality of its lies.

“The trick is to switch from epistemology to aesthetics,” said one comedian. “You don’t tackle a psychopathic clown’s self-congratulatory rants as if they were rational statements. You go after them as works of fiction. And the thing about psycho clowns and hack agnotologists is that their fiction stinks—on purely literary grounds.”   

When in early 2019 Stephen Miller declared on Fox News that Americans should call Trump their emperor and stop questioning his motives or policies, Comedian Senator Bill Maher said Trump is “the boy emperor with no clothes. He’s a fat orangutan running naked in the streets, but you still need a magnifying glass to find his tiny pecker.”  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Psychiatrists reach Opposite Conclusions about President Trump’s Mental Health

Dateline: NEW YORK CITY—On Monday, Feb 15, the New York Times published a letter signed by 37 psychiatrists who expressed severe doubts about President Trump’s mental health.

Trump “appears to have had the fragile mind of a two-year old implanted into his 70 year-old brain,” said the psychiatrists. “Our expert medical opinion is that President Trump is off his rocker. More specifically, he’s fallen off his rocker, landed on the floor, rolled off the floor and out the front door, down the steps and down the mountain side, splashed into the ocean and sank into a volcano at the bottom of the sea.”

Thanks to the technological services of an anonymous group of hackers, 200 million Americans were able to simultaneously pipe their response to the letter directly into the bedrooms of all 37 psychiatrists. Transmitted at a deafening decibel, the response was, “No shit, Captain Obvious!”

Two days later, the NY Times published a letter signed by 37 different psychiatrists who reached the opposite conclusion, that Trump’s mental state is as healthy as anyone’s can be.

Curiously, both letters were signed by 20 men and 17 women. One of the male psychiatrists who signed the first letter is a little person, and one who signed the second is also a little person.

Three of the men who signed the first letter, and three of the different men who signed the second all have 9 inch-long scraggly beards that have the same mixed shades of brown and grey.

Two of the women who signed the first letter, and two of the different women who signed the second have had mastectomies.

This has led one physicist to blame the mirroring effect on spillover from other universes in the multiverse. 

Another physicist, Eugene Nerdopolous, has posited what he calls the “Of Course Principle” to explain the puzzling phenomenon of professionals who cancel each other out in psychiatry and in several other sciences.

“To paraphrase Isaac Newton,” he says, “for every psychiatrist there’s an equal and opposite psychiatrist.

“And the same holds in any scientific field in which a lot of money is at stake for the scientist. If one blood spatter expert is willing to testify that the blood left at the crime scene was caused by a gruesome act of murder, of course another will testify that the red fluid isn’t blood at all, but raspberry filling from a squashed donut.”

The differences aren’t due merely to the ambiguity of the subject matter, which could allow for different rational interpretations. “It’s more a question of the world mocking our vain attempts to understand and control it. When 37 psychiatrists think anyone needs them to state the obvious about Trump, and then the universe throws up 37 equal and opposite psychiatrists, something’s having a laugh at our expense.”

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Civilization requires Myths, and Myths are Absurd

There’s good reason to think that the culture of any mass society depends on myths which are fictions, which is to say lies we’re too polite to identify as such because these lies achieve a higher good. But what are the implications of this hypothesis, for moderns and liberals who flatter themselves that they’re rational and not so credulous?

Myths Define Cultural Identity

Every large society is founded on myths which are fictions that collectively distort the population’s perception of reality to maintain its group cohesion. In his book, Sapiens, Harari sets forth one explanation of how these myths arose, which begins by pointing out that our social instincts were adapted to stabilizing small tribes of around 150 members. In such groups we can use gossip and memory to form social bonds, based on familiarity with each other. But the agricultural revolutions in the Neolithic Period drew masses of thousands and millions of strangers together, which created the problem of unifying these masses to prevent them from splitting into more manageable subgroups. The solution was that although in the actual world a multitude may have many reasons to split due to natural differences of race, gender, character, and opinion, belief in an alternative, fictional world could compel everyone to imagine themselves as having a single, collective identity. This solution was made possible by our large, flexible brains, which allow us to dissociate information, to mentally model possible worlds and to overlay values and counterfactual interpretations onto sense data. For millennia the myths that sustained nations and empires were religious and cosmological, instilling in the citizens their collective values, and constructing theological or philosophical justifications for them in the myth’s narratives.

A second cause of the prevalence of myths is apparent from the Handicap Principle in biology. In a context in which deception is often in creatures’ self-interest, a signal is more reliable if it’s delivered at a cost to the signaler. Thus, an animal may really be formidable if it can afford to squander its strength on ostentatious displays. For example, the male peacock signals to the female that it’s a worthy mate, by finding a way to cope with its gaudy and comically-oversized tail feathers. (This has given rise to the term “peacocking” in the game of pickup artists.) In the same way, conspicuous consumption indicates that the consumer has money to waste on frivolous and often self-destructive entertainments. And whereas our imagination and reasoning may be geared to planning on how to exploit regularities in the natural environment, to increase the chance of our survival under the condition of nature’s indifference towards us, a decadent population finds itself able to squander these mental resources by entertaining outlandish scenarios and having them colour its perception of reality. Thus, the more absurd the myth, the greater the population’s apparent willpower. A foreigner might be led to think, “They can afford to believe the most errant nonsense without dying of embarrassment, so their group cohesion must be superhuman.”

This leads to a third root of our large-scale reality distortion, which is that the more counterfactual the cultural narrative, the greater the test of an individual’s faith in the collective identity. A classic example of this is Tertullian’s boast that he believes the Christian creed because it’s absurd. The fideistic rationalization of that faith would be that a doctrine’s absurdity may be a sign of its supernatural, transcendent origin. Similarly, Saint Paul said that the wisdom of the natural world is foolishness to God, and Jesus is alleged to have said that we must be childlike to enter the kingdom of God. These would be rationalizations, of course, not epistemically worthy justifications of faith, because not every childlike act of avoiding the natural world need be a sign of some connection to a supernatural reality. Even if there were some higher realm that we could access only nonrationally, many nonrational expressions may be merely insane or serving the purpose of a fraud, as in the case of cults, for example.

An unsettling implication of this hypothesis, that every large population holds itself together by suspending disbelief in a cultural fiction, is that even the so-called modern, secular West depends on myths in that respect. As Harari also points out, these secular myths are economic and political rather than explicitly theological or cosmological. Since the Renaissance, Westerners have trusted in science, capitalism, liberalism, and above all in individualism. We believe individuals should be free to decide how they should live, and that scientific exploration and capitalistic struggle for private profit are progressive. In The Age of Insanity, Schumaker distinguishes between modernity in general and the Western, American-led form of it. Modernity after the Scientific Revolution he characterizes as “a postindustrial order whose primary features are commodification, consumption, social marginality, technological encroachment, amplified organizational power, homogenized drives and tastes, deregulation of volition and emotion, incomprehensible abstract systems, simultaneous communication, and the shift toward reflexive knowledge.” The values of the Western form of modernization are “personal autonomy, self-reliance, future orientation, a strong appetite for change, capitalistic heroism, and success-mindedness.”

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Eleventh PDF Installment of RWUG

Here's the eleventh eBook edition of the most recent articles on this blog, and here's where you can find the previous editions.

I've also self-published a large anthology, Cosmic Horror for Clever Animals, which includes a previously unpublished introduction and the short story that set me on the path to writing this blog. On Amazon you'll also find my philosophical zombie novel, God Decays.


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

DNC Discovers Secret of Transformational Leadership

Dateline: WASHINGTON, D.C.—A Democratic National Committee taskforce concluded its investigation into how Donald Trump has managed to be a transformational president.

In 2008, Barack Obama campaigned as a “change” candidate, but progressive Democrats soon became disappointed with Obama’s centrist, neoliberal economic policies and with his continuation of George W. Bush’s militaristic response to terrorism, although Obama opted for drone warfare instead of boots on the ground. Generally, Obama proved himself to be a technocratic defender of the deep state bureaucracy, as shown by his obsession with prosecuting whistleblowers who threatened the system’s channels of information flow.

After Bernie Sanders garnered the energy of the Democratic electorate and centrist Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump in 2016, Democratic Party leaders learned that being a transformational leader might be a good thing. But because the DNC had been conservative rather than radical for decades, to preserve its appeal to Wall Street donors, Democratic politicians found themselves at a loss as to how to transform the American political system.

Liberals hope the taskforce will shed light on this mystery. For its part, the DNC’s exhaustive one thousand-page Report on Transformational Political Action closes with the following conclusion: “Above all, a transformational president mustn’t give a fuck.”

“This is the key attribute that prevented Obama from being a transformational leader,” said Sue-Ellen Greenhorn, one of the report’s authors. “He gave a fuck. Indeed, he had all too many fucks to give. His Ivy League education supplied him with an abundance of fucks, which is why he couldn’t tear down the system even if his progressive ideals demanded that the American political and economic systems be demolished and then spat upon.

“Moreover, ‘No Drama’ Obama’s intellectual temperament equipped him with an additional boatload of fucks: he cared about logic, the facts, and expertise. It was almost as though a functioning, rational government were what the voters demanded in their messianic fervor to be rid of George W. Bush in 2008.”

Donald’s Trump’s “evident psychopathy” makes him uniquely qualified “to give not even a single fuck—about the government, the American people, foreign countries, the planet at large, or even himself. This is why Trump can and likely will transform the nation.”

The noted theologian Fritz Fitzmueller concurs about the importance of not giving a fuck, to being a transformational and thus a consequential political leader.

“Think of the most transformational figure in Western history: Jesus Christ,” said Fitzmueller. “Our calendar is divided into the times before and after he was born, because the change he brought was so monumental. And from studying the New Testament in depth, one thing I can say for certain is that Jesus didn’t give a fuck. Not even one.

“Jesus said it makes no sense to gain the world if you lose your soul. Your soul is invisible, which means Jesus cared less about everything in the world that apparently exists, than he cared about something that seems to be nothing at all. Let me tell you, this means that Jesus didn’t give a fuck about anything you could shake a stick at. Oh, you don’t believe he’s the Son of God? That means you can go to hell for eternity. Jesus doesn’t give a fuck! And that’s why he was so historically important.”

“The irony is astounding,” said Donny Brook, a political analyst at Fancypants University. “The fewer fucks you have to give, the more influential you can become. If your job means fuck all to you, there’s a good chance you’ll fail upwards, as happens in large American banks and government institutions. George W. Bush failed upwards, as did Sarah Palin and Donald Trump. These are revolutionary figures, although Palin was denied the chance to show the world exactly how few fucks she had to give.

“Trump, though, will remake the global order, because his insanity is godlike. He’s not beholden to any social standard or pre-existing system. He doesn’t care about reason or the facts. He’s plainly out of his mind, which is why he’s worshipped by the hordes of American right-wing anarchists who likewise couldn’t give a fuck. The less you care about the world, the greater your ability to lay waste to it until the world naturally knits itself together in what is typically an altogether different pattern, so that you can be heralded as a revolutionary figure.

“Decades from now, when the history books are written, Trump and Bush Jr. will be remembered, but Obama won’t be, and now, thanks to the DNC Report on Transformational Political Action, we know why. Say it with me, folks: Obama gave a fuck.”