Occult Japan.

Goodreads review.

Available here at Wikisource.

A longer read than is pleasurable. Sometimes funny, such as describing the French as monkeys with cringe-worthy sansculotte (pants-less) institutions.  Within are details of ritual possession (which the author concludes are entirely real), the childhood development of the attitude, the dominant religions & their quarrels, the powers of possession, the pilgrim troop, journey & destination, the analogue of business cards that the pilgrims distribute, and so on. There was a momentary surprise to find an author so implicitly derisive of the Japanese culture & people to be aware of the Christian tendency to baptise any tradition to strong to be dismissed or daemonised.

The author appears sincere in investigating the psyche of the Japanese nation. Indeed he believes himself to have determined the origin of the possession ritual, as well as locating prehistoric religion / attitudes passed down through generations and lost to the confusion between Shintō, Buddhism and Ryobū. A confusion locals could only overcome by leaning on the author’s own strong, Western personality, to make explicit a certain ugliness of this book.

At times it reads as a tourist travel guide, it begins with the author climbing the Ontaké mountain peak, witnessing  a three-wheeling possession of monks. It discusses various attractions, with a tilt towards those favoured by locals instead of those most accessible by foreigners. & of course it mentions the cherry blossoms.

The last 100 pages or so are not worth the paper. I’d rather wipe with them to be honest. If you are interested in reading my words about his words about someone else discussing the mental processes behind difficulty in getting out of bed, you are a strange breed of ape. It is in these later pages where the authors racial pride really shows itself. I feel it has degraded my soul to read so many pages denigrating the Japanese. [To be clear, I believe there are inherited traits and do not favour a total Blank-Slate theory of human nature. A complex interplay of nature and nurture exists, of which this Mr. Lowell is occasionally aware.]

A Call For Violence, or, Mercy Killing.

A Call For Violence, or, Mercy Killing.
True justice being an eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, cruelty is more and mercy is less.

Mr. Sepp Blatter accepted a bribe, and because of that choice between yes / no, people (Bangladeshis & Pakistanis) have died. His own death, being singular, would be merciful.

His wealth, and the bribes more specifically, should be distributed between the wage-slaves he created. Without his ‘yes’, they wouldn’t be building the FIFA stadium in Qatar. Don’t get me started on the Qataris who funded the offer or corrupt officials who enabled the crooked process.

Slavery is an apt description, the Pakistani & Bangladeshi labourers do not have freedom of movement, some are beaten, some are killed. The wage they are paid is reduced by their overseers, without freedom of movement they must buy food at inflated costs, like how the Tuckshop used to be in Scottish Highlands.

If Mr. Blatter had said, ‘no’, they total suffering in Qatar would be lesser. His single death would be merciful, because his ‘yes’ lead to much more than one death.

All this leads should lead the Pakistani’s and Bangladeshi’s quite reasonable to resentment or hatred for ‘The West’.

Do you consent or dissent to this call?

P.S. Yes I do realise this is some years late.

2312

Goodreads review.

A grand space opera. The author writes for us, the readers, flights of emotion inspired directly from music, waxes lyrical about space, sex, death. AI ‘personhood’ is briefly skirted, a shadow looms large upon interplanetary civilisation. As for consistency with science, this work of fiction holds up alright, as much as I’m any judge. Full of ‘high culture’ this book is most rewarding to anyone peculiar enough to have memorised planetary geography or the relevant famous figures. Prepare for ‘SJW’ agitation!

How to build an asteroid habitat, called a terrarium here, is detailed. This eases the reader towards the sweet, fantastic indulgence of interplanetary travel. Pitfalls are avoided, to my frustration, the experience of gravity closest to the sunline is not written. Terraforming technologies are strung together in the brief chapters which jerk away from linear narrative. In regards to terrarium, this pre-emptively constructs the next destination and a frequent travel method. Terraform technology is advanced and had to be so because humans buggered up the climate in “The Dithering”. A critique of modern times. Regrettably the author does not use this opportunity to highlight the unique benefits of a benevolent dictator [climate is a global system, a singular executive is my preferred option for action], which offers clear benefits in 2312 due to additional supports absent to any contemporary wannabe.

Social affairs were hit-&-miss to the sweet spot. Economics are discussed in broad strokes. Observations of the narrative try to find a balance between modern criticisms and absent fantasy. There is a lack of personal devotion to a particular economic system, a ‘future-Objectivism’ would fit snugly into place. Race, is not a sticking point for any of the characters, such sticklers are probably unlikely to go on an adventure. However, there were frustrations. Surely an Indian citizen of earth; from an impoverished, violent, rapey, xenophobic community, would feel some degree of culture-shock on being transplanted, almost overnight without any anticipation whatsoever, to Chinese Venus? Not really no, not in 2312!
Describing a minor character as of indeterminate race from the view of a major character, is inconsistent to the fantasy. Either the main character cares about race, or does not. If the latter, and not a single main character has the slightest bias in this regard, then why would it be remarked upon in their inner dialogue? If it did matter, the main characters have discreet access to AI-assisted, Future Internet. Further, if it was instead a flight of fancy, a challenge to the personal, unassisted mind, than dark skin winnows a few of the potential races (i.e. Korean, Gaelic) from the pools of possibility.

Gender, is a similar kettle of fish. Personally, the writing was at times repulsive. There is an attempt to show repulsion of others sexuality as a human attribute (hermaphrodites / androgynous circle orgies are not repulsive, but some small people having sex with one big person is). The particulars are brief and bad. However, sex doesn’t strangle the space fantasy, nor is it a distracting spectacle to alleviate narrative inadequacies. The fit jarred me. The temporary failure of internal logic is powerfully frustrating to me. Again if physical gender is remarkable, and if someone is definitely not-male and not-female, it is not indeterminate gender, particularly not if the observer gave a damn to remark upon it. It indicates two genders as definitely absent.
A bit of the internal backstory though, does clear it up slightly. We, the reader, are exposed to a historical summation of longevity. In the same way that powerful social taboos about conception technology were overcome, i.e. abortion, devout Abrahammic religions & the general populace deviating from those moral codes, so to is our contemporary gender template overwhelmed by the what is offered by embracing, by act of intentional & specific creation, both crotches…

Finally, the AI. This is written with a sprinkling of quantum terminology; coupling, decoherence, potential states and more. Qube AI is not explicitly interrogated, implicit interrogation takes place, about the character of Jean Genette. I, for one, would truly like to read the future version of the Turing Test. It is a shame it was not explicit, perhaps it cannot be done adequately. At times Qubes are narrative tools used as literal Deus Ex Machina, the difficulty of imagining a story involving powerful AI without resolving the tension in a few verbal queries & commands must be recognised

Soft Colonialism & Chinatown.

Let me thrash out a certain perspective. Chinatown is a global phenomenon, ubiquitous to major cities & towns. Although to me they contrast most strongly when set against a non-Asiatic culture, that is a personal ignorance. To bind together all these disparate locations, expatriate culture has lead to the construction of similar architecture, food, language and semi-segregation. These are small, semi-independent colonies and are scattered across the world.

At times Chinese migration was directed by a foreign gold rush. Many Chinatown’s were founded by greed, similar to a lot of European colonisation (& Russian, & African, & Australian-Aborigine, and so on & so forth). Some Chinatown’s were created due to fallout from significant, contemporary events, which is seen after W.T.C. attacks in the U.S.A. caused a domestic migration from New York City to Montville, Connecticut. Nevertheless, greed via business seems to be a significant factor in all Chinatown’s and this is a concept with a lot of reach. Not only does greed motivate the founders of the colony ‘to boldly go where no Chinese has gone before!’, it is directly relevant to instances of negative action; legal targeting, insidious rumours, coolie-slavery, etcetera.

Discourse on colonialism is dominated by the European forms. These forms are distinct from a soft colonialism. They are characterised by much larger movements of people, greater technological inconsistency between the colonisers & colonised, seizure of power across a larger geographic area, seizure of power in deeper social values, a central authority responsible for the colony before its founding, and much more violence. These traits belong to a ‘harder’ colonialism. Frequently a colony will send some type of remittance to the homeland and resources are diverted from the local populace. These two traits are common to both ‘hard’ & ‘soft’ colonialism, although in the latter it is lesser.

Hopefully consideration of Chinatown’s as a soft colonialism will reform perceptions of colonialism into a broader category, enable realistic criticisms of certain modern nations and feed curiosity.

Fixed vs. Flux.

Our modern environment is a mixture of nature and artifice. Nature is in a state of flux, there has never been a fixed Garden of Eden, which is pertinent to discussions on the health of our shared, global environment. Only our artifice is mostly stable, but chaos would overwhelm our society if not for the constant maintenance of our various edifices. It is worth mentioning how a growing proportion of our societal energy is spent to maintain, which creates a certain tension as late capitalist society focuses much more on innovation. This is the same dynamic as the environment, simply reversed, as some members of the Green movement seek to maintain nature (due to an assumed responsibility) and prevent it from its chaotic natural progression.

To clarify the above statement, consider how concrete construction, let it be a massive retaining wall, that requires some precise calculations as would be performed by an engineer. This concrete engineer, to become qualified, must perform original research, a thesis. Now know that ancient Romans created and used excellent concrete 2,000 years ago. So there is a professional criteria of creativity, in a domain where consistency is far more important and novel concrete mixtures would consistently perform poorly relative to tried & tested methods. This pattern, of a project requiring a qualification which requires original research, repeats itself globally & often. As though each new concrete engineer is to break new ground, where great value could be found in maintaining the old turf. A similar patter, although with an additional category, is found in the medical industry where a doctor must develop the field of knowledge in some small way or else be unable to run a clinic, regardless of whether the clinic ever sees strange or new disease.

This friction, between a static and a changing state of affairs, whether maintaining our health or our buildings, diminishes society. There has got to be a better way. Within the international domain this dynamic pits community against community. Any newly discovered method of concreting or medicine, as a fundamentally required for professional qualification, will be within the ‘1st World’. If it is profitable, than the wealth created will be within the specific community of the developed world (although less tangible wealth, such as a longer life, will of course be shared.). So under-developed regions, which may be so due to historical contingency, such as the DRC, or perhaps due to a failed national project, such as if micro-processors in Taiwan & Korea became obsolete due to something new, these regions are consistently disadvantaged by the structure of the system. Beginning at a lower level of competition, they cannot afford high quality education & research, and so only buy the new shit from superior competitors, which in turn enriches competition and somewhat impoverishes the nation.

This same stumbling block, the dynamic of static against dynamic, impedes development of some environmental agendas. Sustaining the current balance of species; their approximate number, range of habit, geographic dispersion, diet, and so on, requires greater costs; pollution control & other waste management, restrictions on human activity such as new townships in virgin jungle, and, ultimately, demands civilisation devote not-insignificant resources to reversing the effects of civilisation.

Banana Republics & the CIA, or Why Communism Made Sense.

The phrase Banana Republic comes from a time and place (Latin America late 1800’s – mid 1900’s) where the banana company (United Fruit Company) was more powerful than the government.
 
The United Fruit Company board of directors included the head of the USA CIA. UFC tried to pay $2 500 000 to the president of Honduras, this corruption was exposed by a section of the US government separate from the CIA (when the left hand did not know what the right hand was doing the little man wins, isn’t big government nice?)
 
Other powers of the UFC included;
running the Costa Rican postal service,
preventing specific national governments (Guatemala) from distributing banana plantations to peasants to share in the lucrative international banana trade,
building an entire nations railway network and then destroying it when ceasing operations in the nation (Guatemala again),
inducing government to kill 100’s, perhaps more, of striking workers (Colombia).
 
This is why communism makes sense. To be honest, it is also why certain laissez-faire capitalism makes sense (assuming it fragments monopolisation). The truck system of early English capitalism (from the Franch troquer, perhaps linguistic origin of tucker and tuckshop) illustrates a similar communal-structural failing to that above, but on an entirely different scale.

To relate this to the contemporary ‘centre of the world’, Mr. Trump may reduce ties with the international business community, primarily by reneging on the preliminaries of the TIPP and other major trade deals. This will allow time for mundane individuals and organisations to scrutinise, to plan and to propose meaningful alternatives & developments. It seems unlikely that Mr. Trump will pursue significant actions against the major accounting firms which are the major players in the Panama Paper crimes.

What may also occur is world leaders, specifically Mr. Putin, outwitting Mr. Trump. I anticipate that within his presidency of the United States of America, a serious symbolic diplomatic accord with Russia is reached, but one which materially benefits Russia more than the USA. This is due to the greater cooperation between big business and government in Russia,see: Gazprom, although this is not entirely restricted to Russia as shown above or shown here. This accord could be the renegotiation of trade law or infrastructure across the Bering Straits.

Community Supports Cash.

*The quote above is precisely my impression of Ayn Rand’s approach to economics, that wealth is to be torn from the context, the community, which generated it and proper context would refute calls for generic free-market reforms from that school of thought.
Money works because the society it exists within guarantees the practically worthless banknote is figuratively valued. This community guarantee entails an expectation of community circulation, mainly but not exclusively in the form of taxation. Since the earliest times, when farmhands were paid in tokens representing a share in the final harvest, an trade-able tokens of abstract value have been consistently produced in various epochs and areas.

Theoretical economic systems understate the role of the community in the creation, circulation and valuation of currency. Ayn Randism, or Objectivism, as well as other schools of thought, reject an obligation between a currency and the community in which it circulates. Sweat off the brow is represented by the value token, and any coercive attempt at seizure is unjust. A fairer approach than that taken by Russian communism, where everything belongs to the community but nothing belongs to the individual, or an aristocracy, where everything is a gift from the Divine via the royalty. Nonetheless, there has got to be a better way.

Monopolies naturally occur, and laissez-faire economics do not address the problems monopolies cause, such as unfair prices and unequal competition. The Objectivist conception of the heroic person pursuing their own productive, noble agenda under the auspice of reason is better fulfilled by a system which lessens difficulties of competition. Putting aside serious discussion of how to correctly dispense taxation, I reckon that the Objectivist conception of the meaning of life is better supported by a State with purview beyond the prevention of coercion.

This is my current perspective on the economic system, founded on the concept of an abstract, trade-able value token or object. Communal recognition of the token is an essential feature. Precisely what is then entailed is in constant flux as theory and reality shift with time. Community is an essential aspect of currency.

Public Opinion, Soft Drink & Spectacle.

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”
Edward Bernays

Public opinion is the most popular opinion if a survey were administered and the top results collected. It does not require a logical explanation, a position held may be arrived at by different approachs. It is this public opinion which democratic institutions should define and apply. It is this public opinion which advertising firms seek to manipulate for private gain.

Public opinion is not entirely free, nor entirely national. Restrictions on free speech vary from false advertising, to inciting riots, to threats. International opinions are beyond any single nation, and Earth Day is a demonstration of public opinion unrestricted by national boundaries. Attention given to dissent varies in quality and quantity, and this feeds back into public attitudes about the current state of affairs.

This ‘invisible government’ is not as coherent as it may soiund. Public health government  departments and Coca-Cola advertisers both influence public behaviour and opinion in effectively opposite directions. It is an scary world where the best & brightest in this field are more likely found in a private company than public service. That is where they are though, for good or ill.

The competition for the public attention is where the Spectacle proper begins. NYC regulations of soft drinks began a Spectacle which reached Australian shores and for good cause, obesity is a major health problem here & there. A major public health problem, treated with socially supported medicine, the cost of which can be assisted by taxation on the billions of profits of soft drink companies.

The then mayor of  NYC, a city 50%+ obese, sought to regulate and moderate soft drink consumption. The anti-soft drink aspect of the Spectacle expressed itself in forms of newspaper stories, talk show segments and billboards displaying health messages. The pro-soft drink aspect of the Spectacle manifested in the same forms but also could draw on the Spectacle of the brand. Brands which advertise as though a tropical getaway were taken with each sip, or at least when you feel like a holiday, sip that feeling away. Truly there are soft drink brands which are international, and these brands won (by constitutional appeal that government exceeded it’s authority).

Ability to influence public opinion is found much more in the private pursuit of profit than in public service. This dynamic, of pursuing a fantastic representation for a wage, elevates the Spectacle beyond reality. A company is better known by advertising than by the real conditions, and in pursuit of a sale companies (Fair Trade Coffee) advertise the real conditions, as though your purchase is needed to validate decent working conditions. Coca-Cola is not the company which supplied a cocaine infused tonic to the public, it is not the company which drained drinking water in poor, rural India, Coca-Cola is the Spectacle manufactured by the marketing department. It is global. It is not going away soon. There has got to be a better way.

“The Indian parliament has banned the sale of Coke and Pepsi products in its cafeteria. Indian parliamentarians should take the logical next step, and ban the sale of Coke and Pepsi products in the entire country.

The ban came as the result of tests, including those by the Indian government, which found high concentrations of pesticides and insecticides, including lindane, DDT, malathion and chlorpyrifos, in the colas, making them unfit for consumption. Some samples tested showed the presence of these toxins to be more than 30 times the standard allowed by the European Union. Tests of samples taken from the US of the same drinks were found to be safe.” – source

A Society of Sub-Cultures.

*I’d rather be wearing white in desert sunlight!

Consider the dynamic between proletariat and bourgeois, from the communist framework of course. It strikes one as reasonable that members of the proletariat would seek to become bourgeois, and so this class would criticise the revolution if it restricts their dreams o private property. There are castles for sale (bloody aristocrats eat cake whilst citizens of DPRK eat grass). If they were all to become culture centres and tourist traps, what effect would be seen in those with secret, selfish wishes? On their motivation? Their social engagement?

This type of selfish desire is harnessed in an effective manner in our society, by the form of monetary value and taxation. Not to say there is no room for improvement. This acceptance of selfish desire, and this method of harnessing it for the greater good, enhance some aspects of community, although if private property is the problem these dynamics only repeat the problem. Anyway, there is no need for all citizens to go to a mosque, church or stupa, to be taught a spirituality which encourages selflessness and kindness. How else can the plethora of cultures and sub-cultures coexist?

Secularism is another facet of pre-existing ideology which holds influence over this state of affairs. Some communities desire to be the supreme social power, and have all state affairs organised and developed by their principles. So, for example, an Islamist and a Apostolic Christian may agree about peace on earth, but would they do agree about the prayers which should be said before class? Secularism, although it does diminish the dream of overwhelming religion / culture, means that only the secular code shall be placed above the divine code and then mostly in matters in the public domain. Proslytising and preaching can occur in personal domains, which appears to give breathing room to the dream of religious dominance.

As a certain form of economic structure (capitalism) and a certain form of governance (secular) spreads and deepens around the globe, individuals (born in the right place to the right parents, more than ever before) are free to pursue their own ends, and by so doing inch the larger community forwards. Value systems and individual projects are not uniform and do not have to be. However, limits of what can be selfishly pursued (monopoly control of all high fructose corn syrup or mangos) and which value systems must be excluded (WWII Japanese rape culture, WWII USA nuclear weapons usage) are exceeding a certain boundary, one most deserving of respect.

A minimum (prison) standard should be guaranteed, all else is competition. I believe it is better to share some standards of capitalism and secularism than it is to raise them. This leads me again to the question of whether current leading communities can remain so only as long as the global order remains stable. So to say it differently, if all people everywhere were given the wealth of the average Qatari on their 18th birthday, would inflation collapse the global networks of markets, the networks of production and distribution?

Institutional Discrimination.

Why should minority supporting quotas and incentives be accepted? If a job has two objectively equal applicants, why should subjective value be over-ridden by a quotas? Or objective value tilted by incentive?
A lot of discrimination occurs without organisation. A passive form of discrimination, of preferential treatment of those most comfortable to an authority figure, becomes a serious issue as it emerges from a community of millions.

Kim Davis, as an individual, refused to do the paperwork for a homosexual marriage, on religious grounds (an inconsistent personal standard, due to her divorces). This is an example of the category of discrimination which occurs without collusion. She did not act as a result of scheming between the USA government and Apostolic Christians.

Studies which found resumés with popular American-African* names require more applications to achieve the same number of respones, as those with popular generic American names. This is not due to the Aryan Brotherhood infiltrating business networks to influence hiring trends but instead evidence of an ideology without clear organisation & intent. A media which circulates more stories of American-African crime is an organised distribution which feeds the dynamic of discrimination, it is not done with the intent to disadvantage but to scandalise and sell.
*I hold that the first nationality is the place of residence and the second a heritage, so here an American with African heritage.

If TV news station has a segment for flattery of an individual, should an individual from the class which receives the most negativity elsewhere in the news, be chosen?

If two job applicants are objectively equal, in terms of education, experience etc., is it natural that subjective value (i.e. interviewer & interviewee share a hobby) becomes decisive?
Of course it is, and this aspect of humanity would see institutional dominance of the rich, white man maintained, but without intentional, organised ill-will. Mandatory quotas, alongside tax breaks & other incentives, act against this passive discrimination. However it means that the state enacting them is discriminating against the rich, white male, by legally de-valuing them or over-valuing the non-rich, non-white, non-male. Quotas and incentives then, become a systemic and intentional discrimination against the dominant class. What a strange inversion of the original state of affairs.

Much talk of discrimination frames the problem as though there were a conspiratorial group creating it, to the detriment of the minorities. Historically this has been true, and remains true of myriad situations. Also, that this is a realistic foundation subsumed into conspiracies of liberal perversion of government and public community promoted by right wing communities. Yet despite disorganised, unintentional discrimination against minorities, it should be seen that Western cultures which have systemic, intentional discrimination in favour of minorities are developing beyond a historic limit of equality.