Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Final Solution: The Trumpenproletariat

Stalin Monument in Prague, destroyed in l962 (photo: HZ)
For Trump hath murdered conversation. That’s the problem. You can’t discuss monuments anymore. If you talk about the fact that the monument question is enormously complex, you run the risk of being associated with the Trumpenproletariat. You’ve seen the footage of crowds tearing down the statues of Stalin, Lenin, Hitler and Mussolini.  Like these, many Confederate monuments were put up in Jim Crow times with an admonitory intent. But what about the danger of white washing history? And who was worse Lee or Sherman, considering Sherman's views towards Native Americans? Remember Santayana’s all too often quoted, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” And what about monuments which exist on public lands that occupy more than l00,000 acres ("What is the Antiquities Act and Why Does President Trump Want to Change It" NYT, 4/26/17) Trump was against all of those. What if there were a monument to Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson, Washington or Jefferson (the four examples Trump cited) on those lands? Would Trump order them to be taken down?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Final Solution: Kim Jong-un Salons

Know the chain of French hair salons, Jean-Claude Biguine?  Why not start a whole line of boutiques called simply Kim Jong-un which would specialize in--you guessed it--a complete KJu makeover. You would get the little curl in front and shaved sides. Your face would be pudged up with botox. You'd be attired in the DPRK style Mao jacket and don’t forget those spiffy winter coats with their fur collars. No KJu makeover would be complete without a little midriff bulge and that's supplied by the same plastic surgical wizardry and that has resulted in so many successful breast and penile enhancements and vaginoplasties—now produced with the kind of economy of scale that allows your local KJu to pass the savings on to you. No KJu session would be complete without a motivational speaker and those who get a makeover will walk out talking as well as looking like the Supreme Leader. Recently a London jogger crashed into a pedestrian causing her to fall in the way of an oncoming bus ("Police hunt man who knocked woman in front of London bus,"CNN, 8/8/17) The jogger then returned from his run and seeing his victim refused once again to stop. Just the kind of person Kim Jong-un Salons will be looking for. Imagine not just posters but Kim Jong-un clones everywhere you go. That’s what will occur when KJu LLP gets off the ground.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Final Solution: Two Dark Horses

Here is a quote from a piece on Kim Jong-un, appearing in Friday’s Times front page center ("Meet Kim Jong-un, A Moody Young Man With a Nuclear Arsenal," 8/10/17). A huge photo of Trump flanked by McMaster and Pence appears at the top and inset below is a small picture of the smiling Kim waving.  “Now, against long odds,  Mr. Kim is on the verge of making his isolated, impoverished nation one of the very few in the world that can hit the United States with a nuclear missile--defying not only the Trump administration but also international sanctions and North Korea's traditional allies in Beijing.” But who does that sound like? Way back when pollsters laughed at the prospect of a Trump candidacy, more less presidency. Now Trump is president and Kim is close to being able to perfect a missile that can hit the U.S. mainland. There's some disagreement amongst experts about the question of whether the North Korean product will self-destruct when it reenters the atmosphere. But that's a question the pundits will be trying to decide right up until the final launch. The real story here is the rise of not one but two long shots. Who would you rather have determining the fate of the planet? The blind seer Tiresias from Greek mythology or two dark horses whose nostrils flare with hormones as they pull their stage coach into the sunset?

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Final Solution: "Load of Nonsense"

North Korea responded to Trump’s threat of ‘fire and fury” by calling it a ‘a load of nonsense’ (“North Korea calls Trump’s threat a ‘load of nonsense"'Politico, 8/9/17). It’s a very odd American sounding locution for a country that speaks an entirely different language both literally and metaphorically. And it’s reminiscent of the female Japanese propagandists who fell under the rubric of Tokyo Rose and who attempted to seduce American troops with their down home language during World War II. It's folksy, familiar, clever and disarming to the extent that it puts the onus of the bombast on the US, and makes the North Koreans sound almost common sensical. The syntax portrays the Kim Jong-un regime as the one who's trying to be the calming influence, as the bullying imperialist power and its truculant leader push their defenseless victims around the schoolyard. Next thing you know the North Koreans will be churning out words like "jeepers." DPRK propaganda is also making an attempt to appeal to a more educated demographic("North Korea warns Trump to 'talk and act properly,' says conflict is 'tragicomedy.'" (ABC News, 8/12/17) If Trump's appeal is to the uneducated white voter, then the North Koreans are honing some of their rhetoric so as to appeal to the educated elite both here and abroad. One thing that ISIS and the DPRK and in common are brilliant propaganda machines. It's something they may have inherited from the Nazis, whose operation was famously run by Joseph Goebbels. Still look at the big picture; it's all a game of chess when you realize that North Korea remains China's client.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Why Robots Are Man's Best Friend

DER 01, Japanese actroid (photo:Gnsin)
Robots present an interesting proposition. A robot can be programmed to be absolutely responsive to your every need. In a recent CBSN: On Assignment, the segment explored "Japan’s Future of Humanoid Robots" (7/28/17). In a society where caregivers are in short supply, the dearth is being met by creating increasingly life-like replacements. The character of Spock on Star Trek was always faulted for his impassive traits, but the examples being produced in Japan show a reserve of warmly recognizable affects. These robots talk, but they don’t necessarily talk back and like cuddly pets they become ideal vehicles on which to project human feelings. Soon there'll undoubtedly be robots who perform the role of old-fashioned sexual surrogates, moaning with pleasure and spurting out lubricants that have been injected into their engines. However, what makes a robot even more preferable to a pet is that robots are characterized by an absence of volition. Robots certainly don’t have to be walked like a dog and you don’t need to train a robot in other ways either. Unless specifically programmed to do so, no robot is going to become aggressive and start barking at bikers, children or neighbors. No robot will start to act up when it's left to its own devices. Unlike some animals that have to be put to sleep because of their behavioral inclinations, robots don’t pose a threat to the public welfare. And while animals always beg the question of consciousness due to their intuitive capabilities, robots offer something more subtle and in a way comforting in its place: a one-sided companionship where you don’t have to give to receive.