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not-so-quick-thought: Time for a change of tone [ rambling ]


So every time I put a random photo in a post here, I save it from the web somewhere and leave a copy in a folder on this computer. Just went thru to delete the ones I don’t want any more. It was an interesting very-short-term time-travel experience. One by one, I looked at a pic for long enough to decide whether to keep it or not. I looked for just long enough to get a visual memory to put it in context, then I either hit the garbage can button to delete it, or went to the next one. Wasn’t thinking about it at all, there was a nice tune, mind was pleasantly off. So I didn’t realize it until it was all over, but during each of those moments, with the visual memory, the recollection I got was not of what I posted when I included each pic. The recollection was of whatever impression it was, at the time I selected that pic to be the one, chosen out of the google-image-search-smorgasbord. A series of visceral memories, wordless and a little bit intangible, each corresponding to one of several dozen blog posts, with subjects I thought need some eye candy.

After I deleted the last one I was going to delete, I realized I just had this train of all those visrecal / intangible / impressions. And what they added up to was a realization about how my tone or mood changed over the course of this blog. It’s become a sink for some very negative energy.

Too cynical now. A noticeable pinch too much of darkness, like, oh, a margarita you mixed with too pungent a tequila and/or liqueur. Supposed to be an unwinding drink, and it didn’t quite turn out that way. Except the thing you’re flavoring has maybe more permanence than a beach drink.

And, it doesn’t matter if I feel totally justified in that cynicism. It wouldn’t help anything to let the cynicism become so prominent.

Why is that?

Yea why? Does it really follow that the cynicism is a dead end, or that there’s something else wrong with it?

— rewind —

I just read this Howard Zinn piece. Don’t have to read it to explain what i’m going to say, although I definitely got a lot out of it.

In this piece, a quote stuck out, a line from the Washington Post in 1898. (yes, 1898):
“We are face to face with a strange destiny. The taste of Empire is in the mouth of the people even as the taste of blood in the jungle.”

and then it clicked

Is that quote snippet, that taste of blood for empire, how I am to undersatnd the NeoCon’s today?

Yes, I like it

— click —

— a contrast —

that taste of blood. sharp teeth. in the mirror? So that’s what sharp teeth look like?

— back

Oh such a nice way to get rid of the enigma behind the imagined “neo-con”, figurative placeholder for all the collective reasons for US foreign policy, as it is visible to the outside world.

— Something about the Howard Zinn —

cynically projecting “that taste of blood” which is presumed. I put that there. not what usually comes out of Howard Zinn. He has a warmth of tone. Whoa, he’s talking about such crazy subject matter. That’s what’s special about him. Warmth of tone? How did it get there?

de-humanizing —

Taste of blood? Animals then. No need to think further. Convienient but de-humanizing. Reading Howard Zinn doesn’t feel that way. Warmth of tone? Is that Hopeless?

— again —

If you run into an animal that wants to eat you, nothing to do but shoot it, right? Or is it if you got into that situation, you are already doing it wrong. Should have taken the time to curate the ecosystem a bit, do some bit of gardening, that there is some natural separation between the wild habitat and our human habitat.

— again —

limitless cynicism about others who dehumanize, to the point of dehumanizing myself, should be avoided with a little
more caring curation of the ecosystem of habits of thinking about things that I feel are wrong.

— rewind —

curate the ecosystem a bit…

So this is the cheesiest of metaphors now. Want to get it over with.

I’m not talking about the US, or any other country or organization doing the curating. not curating of some kind of just or unjust social structure, or a geopolitical garden, although that metaphor is definitely out there.

But for some things, the curators are “you and I”, for some things the curators are “they”. Let’s go for the situations where the curators are “you and I”, or even “just I”.

One of the things we actually get to curate is the way we look.

— so —

Does that change what I want to say? Not really. But it changes how I want to say it, a lot.

musical interlude CXXII

just another time warp

Various links 2015.10.03

Joseph Stiglitz and Adam Hersh, criticize the secretive trade treaties TPP, TTIP, TISA [Project Syndicate], via Project Syndicate and Phil Ebersole

Paul Theroux, on the hypocrisy of US big business when they talk of “helping the poor” [New York Times, op-ed], via NakedCapitalism

Uri Avnery, on his interactions with Nasser, and how he would have preferred secular Arab nationalism to what there is today [CounterPunch] , via NakedCapitalism

Jayati Ghosh, putting the scale of Europe’s so-called refugee crisis in perspective [TripleCrisis], again via NakedCapitalism

ramblings on pedagogy [ Henri Giroux / Counterpunch ]

Before I knew it was happening, someone deliberately left me a bunch of pieces that I think are supposed to assemble into critically engaged agency. Who knew?

Verbose and just a tad dogmatic but maybe important:

Washington, Moscow dispute whether Russian strikes targeted “moderate” or “jihadi” Syrian rebels UPDATED [WAPO]


Moscow claims they attacked ISIL and al-Nursa (al-Quaeda affiliate).

Washington claims Russian strikes targeted the Free Syrian Army, FSA, who signed a cooperative non-aggression pact with ISIL and al-Nursa (al-Quaeda offspring), a year ago, so they could help each other overthrow Assad, as well as Tajamu Alezzah (who are they?)


My 2 cents:

This kind of thing is inevitable, considering it is a 3 or 4 way conflict.

I am with those who say that if you want IS/Nursa not to win, you would have to accept that the existing Syrian government would win, at least in those parts of Syria which are the home turf of Assad’s ruling party. Thus even supposedly “moderate” rebels who fight Assad’s government are essentially setting the stage for IS to take over, since IS/Nursa have an undefeated record when going head-to-head vs the “moderates” (except for the Kurds, who have no ambition to take over the entire country). Based on the last 15 years, my confidence in Washington’s ability to manage this type of situation is near zero.

Update, for additional color: [Disclaimer – I don’t necessarily approve of some stuff on SST]

musical interlude CXXI

Summer finally left town this week…

Syria: Obama and Putin’s UN Speeches [ Juan Cole / Informed Comment ]

Juan Cole reviews Obama and Putin’s U.N. speeches, vis-a-vis Syria, critiquing the positions of both.


My 2 cents:

As I said elsewhere, the US should not get involved. At all. We may have an obligation to do so, but we have already made enough enemies in the middle east, and the foreign policy organizations within our government still have not passed their “road test” when it comes to helping chaotic places transition into functioning governments. They are most definitely not allowed to drive this type of vehicle yet (i.e., not ready for a leadership role in a peacemaking or nation-building effort).

No disagreement that Assad is an evil leader, but the same argument was made in Iraq and Libya and the result was to make things worse. R2P was a nice idea but that experiment is over for now, and should not be repeated until bodies of international justice become established enough that the both the “R” and the “P” have some meaning. I.e., the enforcers of the rules would have to submit to a set of rules which is impartial. Until then, don’t make things worse.

My suggestion:

Let Assad and Iran and Russia do the fighting until IS accepts a cease fire. Accept the possibility of balkanization. Then U.N. peacekeepers to keep ethnic cleansing to a manageable level, make sure it happens non-violently, and reparations are paid to anyone forced to resettle due to new lines drawn on the map on a sectarian or ethnic basis.

U.S. role limited to no-strings-attached financial support for the anti-IS forces at first, and then the U.N. peacekeepers. Do not send US personnel or weapons. Do not allow US intelligence services or diplomats to get involved in managing the situation.


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