Archive for January 26, 2010

Masters Of Reality

The average person thinks of reality as something that is absolutely true based on fact and evidence but the inspection of what is real in our modern life is often neglected. For people the concept of reality is determined by a combination of personal experiences, varying from person to person, and what they’ve been told instead of taking an introspective look at the world around them. The idea in sociology that states there are many different realities based on each person’s knowledge and experience is called “multiple realities.” Generally speaking our perception of what is real isn’t based on those absolute a scientific truth which governs the laws of nature but to our interpretation of the world around us. At best the majority of our perception of what’s real is based second hand and knowing this; the battle over what the perception of what reality is becomes clear. The stability of our society as we know it requires propaganda and manipulation so the public accepts their current reality without questions.

Media’s Role in Reality

Right now, you are quietly being told what to think by me without even knowing it and might possibly be pondering the ideas that I’m presenting to as you read this little article (which is how the media works). The media plays a large role in our perceptions even if it claims to be fair and balanced, truthful or made for the purpose of entertainment. All of the things people see, whether they like it or not, influence how they see the world around them.

Just by turning on one of the many news channels and flipping between them it’s easy to see the fight over perception. Most news channels cover the exact same stories and have the exact same talking points but push a different concept of reality. The difference between the channels is the way the propaganda is sold using positive and negative connotation, emphasis on certain points and, one can’t forget, the opinions that are pushed instead of fact to the viewer. The mainstream media counts on the public’s willingness to believe what they’re told on a daily basis knowing that the majority of people won’t bother to think or research what they’re being told.

Perhaps one of the more covert methods of influencing opinion is through entertainment television. The simplest example of this are T.V. shows like cops or CSI where criminals are denied the right to due process, tortured for information, stating that free speech and guns are illegal. The repetition of ideas like this slowly makes viewers identify and accept how the fictional world operates as people slowly associate it with their perception of reality. Since the stories are mostly fiction most people suspend their disbelief and don’t question the subtle messages behind the shows.

Government Manipulation

Governments have always known that to win a war, they must win the hearts and minds of the people that their forces are occupying or face the possibility of losing control of that state. Psychological warfare is an integral part of the United States domestic and foreign policies effectively keeping reality in a manageable state. For instance, on order to keep the public’s heart in mind under control, the Bush administration created false newscasts designed to push propaganda on the nightly news. After all was said and done, over 20 agencies of the government had created hundreds of false ads and passed them off as fact without being held accountable for the statements in the ads.

Picking up on Dutch news stories, Counterpunch published an article on 3/26/2000 revealing that the United States had infiltrated the news giant CNN with members of the army’s Psyops division. According to the army’s recruitment website the official purpose of a Psychological Operations Specialist “is to alter the behavior of foreign populations in a manner consistent with United States diplomatic, national security and foreign policy objectives. A Psychological Operations Specialist is an information and media specialist who can assess the information needs of a target population and develop and deliver the right message at the right time and place to create the intended result.” What exactly were the Psyops units doing as they worked with CNN and was the integrity of the media compromised? Keep in mind that this was before the Bush was in office. The policy of using the military for the production of news hasn’t changed as officers are still used today as analysts for mainstream news shows.

On July 25th 2008, former White House Press Secretary Scott McCellan admitted that the Bush administration directly gave talking points to news anchors at Fox News. The startling admission is used as an example by rival news networks but it would be a fallacy to believe that Fox is the only news station which is used as political mouth piece. Since McCellan came out with the widely known secret about Fox NBC has come under the same criticisms for its close relationship with the Obama administration.

Sunstein’s Conspiracy Document

Cass Sunstein current Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs wrote a research paper about the nature of conspiracy theories a year before he was in office. The research paper goes into great depth about those people who don’t believe the official government accounts regarding how the world works stating that those people suffer from a “crippled epistemology.” Basically Sunstein means that a lack of understanding makes people believe in so-called conspiracy theories even if their knowledge is based on government admissions. The document combines proven theories with false ones in order to minimize the effect the truth will have on the reader.

Sunstein explains that some theories are true but that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t believe government official accounts:

“Of course some conspiracy theories, under our definition, have turned out to be true. The Watergate hotel room used by Democratic National Committee was, in fact, bugged by Republican officials, operating at the behest of the White House. In the 1950s, the Central Intelligence Agency did, in fact, administer LSD and related drugs under Project MKULTRA, in an effort to investigate the possibility of “mind control.” Operation Northwoods, a rumored plan by the Department of Defense to simulate acts of terrorism and to blame them on Cuba, really was proposed by high-level officials (though the plan never went into effect).13 In 1947, space aliens did, in fact, land in Roswell, New Mexico, and the government covered it all up. (Well, maybe not.) Our focus throughout is on false conspiracy theories, not true ones.” Conspiracy Theories pg 4

Notice how he compares admitted facts to believing in Space Aliens.

The first half of the document uses basic psychology to explain that conspiracy theories are due to ignorance but he neglects to go into depth about the legit reasons of why such theories are so popular now days; namely the government being caught covering facts up. Instead of citing all of the government admitted plans throughout the years and legit arguments these theorists have he once again attributes them to the idea that most people are retardly ignorant to the facts(which is true in some cases). Sunstein could indeed call a video of himself explaining that the second amendment doesn’t apply to citizens a conspiracy theory, though there’s video of his speech explaining it, since reality is dependent on what the government wants to admit at any certain time.

The second half of the paper is by far the most interesting as Sunstein explains his solutions and how to fight the people who question the official government stances on issues. In order to combat the ideas that may compromise the government’s agenda, sunstein argues that the United States government needs to do the following:

1. “Government might itself engage in counterspeech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories”
2. “Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counterspeech.”
3. Infiltration of groups and discredit them from within.

What this means is that in order to stop people from spreading anti-government ideas the government itself must take drastic steps to discredit those ideas. The government needs to infiltrate groups, we all remember that anti war group who made cookies in that Michael Moore movie, and make them focus on issues that discredit the groups. The government needs to hire people, like newscasters, magazines, Hollywood writers and of course writers like myself to engage in counterspeech. It all sounds like a brilliant plan to stifle thought and debate.

The idea that our thoughts and beliefs aren’t really our own and are subject to covert propaganda is a frightening one. The real question in all of this is: Who’s reality do you live in? If you go through life believing what you see on your nightly news or read in your papers is your perception really yours? In order to really think for yourself you have to be able to observe, question and think instead of passively accept what you’re told. Don’t take my word for it, think about it for yourself.

A+D

A+D=Garbage

Directed by: Amber Sealey

Written by: Amber Sealey

Produced by: Amber Sealey, Gabriel Fleming

Starring: Amber Sealey, Anton Saunders

Run Time: 82 min

There are a lot of artsy people out there who believe that because a movie is independent, it’s automatically art and better than some drivel you’d see in a normal theater or on T.V. Then there’s some people who know that no you much you polish a brown nugget into a gold one. A+D is the epitome of rubbish filled with emotional nonsense that left me literally drinking a gallon of water so I had an excuse to step out and use the restroom every few minutes.

A+D is a self described “universal story of relationships” but it’s not. A+D is a movie about a mentally unstable woman who thinks nagging is witty and how miserable a man would become who’s stupid enough not to notice the telltale warning signs that she’s totally insane. Was there romance in the story? No, there was artsy romance which only appeals to lonely old women. Was there conflict in the story? Yes a lot of it but it was all passive aggressive emotional nonsense that just makes you want to hit someone with a baseball bat. A more accurate description of the story should be: “An in depth look at why men don’t want to talk, listen or respect the female gender.”

Alice, played by Amber Sealey, is a witty artist who finds love in a passive aggressive man named Dave, played by Anton Saunders. Their relationship is strange as Dave mysteriously finds Alice’s complaints about his eyebrows and her statements saying that his work isn’t art witty and attractive instead of a huge red flag. They spend their days making love and repeating the same words to each other as they look at each other’s naked bodies in the mirror of the bathroom in the flat.

It doesn’t take long for Alice and Dave’s blossoming relationship to sour. Alice begins to ask questions that she obviously doesn’t want the answer to (“Do you think about having sex with other women?”) and when she gets them she’s obviously bothered and begins to pick at Dave’s fragile ego. Alice constantly hounds Dave into doing things he doesn’t want to and gets upset when he doesn’t go along with her ideas. Not all of the problems with the relationship are Alice’s fault though, most of the problems could have been prevented if the Dave had an ounce of will power and self pride but if that was the case the movie would have only been 20 minutes long as he would have booted her out of the flat. Instead of standing up to Alice, Dave spends his time getting frustrated with their relationship and using his almost super human powers of passive aggression to deal with the situation.

The setting of the movie is a London flat that the characters both live in. The flat itself is run down and has paint and plaster pieces falling off the wall which is an important feature for any independent love story. The flat is too small which gives the entire movie a cramped feeling and ensures that the main characters can’t escape each other no matter how much they want to. The entire flat is used in the production of the “film” including emotional scenes in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and even the living room. This setting stinks; can’t the characters at least go out once in their relationship so the viewer isn’t stuck watching the characters mindlessly complain in the house for most of the movie?

Amber Sealey and Anton Saunders played their roles extremely well and after seeing this movie I don’t think I could picture them as anything other than their characters. During the entire movie I didn’t question how genuine either character was which was quite an amazing feat. Both Amber and Anton could indeed have a successful career as actors. The problem with being convincing was that they played characters that I didn’t care about and was extremely disgusted by that there was no way that I could enjoy the quality of their performance.

As I think back, I’m still at a loss to what A+D was actually about. I’d like to say that it’s a social commentary about how men and women secretly hate each other but I know that isn’t the greater meaning behind the film. The movie could be about the differences between male and female communication and the way it affects relationships but I doubt that’s it either. Maybe it’s just a sadistic creation meant to cause the viewer of the movie pain. Well whatever the movie is about it is imperative that the viewer must enjoy being tortured by the emotional drivel that most people wouldn’t put up with in real life.

A+D is like watching a slow motion train wreck and not in a good way. This is a train wreck where the passengers know it’s going to happen an hour and fifteen minutes before the crash. In a desperate attempt to stop the train the conductor tries to hit the brakes but for some reason they don’t work and just make an annoying high pitched squealing noise as the train passive aggressively makes is way down the tracks. Once the train finally hits the little pink artsy Vespa that’s been carelessly left on the tracks it gracefully nudges it, leaving a small dent over the flower decals before it stops. Even the train wreck was a failure. There is nothing redeeming about the story and writing of this movie. The actors portrayed their characters well but it could never make up for the utter rubbish that is presented in the story as the acting is completely overshadowed by the sheer disgust that I had for the characters. The only thing that saved me from slitting my wrists during the movie was that I had other things I could do while it played.

(0/5)

Awesome Craigslist Spam

My wife needs love
Sometimes I post weird ads on Craigslist just to see what kind of responses I get. This is my new favorite spam email.

Hi, I have seen your CL classified. My name is John and I am wondering if you wanted to having intercourse with my wife. A quick story with the situation–I was had an accident about a year ago while working so I am unable to have satisfying intercourse. I had an intimate relationship with her… but can’t anymore. She has needs and desires I just can’t do anymore. Don’t get me wrong, we still love each other, but I want her to be happy.

She’s DD free, 26 and very intimate so you can see what my problem is. Hopefully you can help us. We’re looking for a man who can come to our place (or she can come to yours) and be intimate with her on a regular basis, no strings attached. I won’t be around so it won’t be weird haha. I have attached a picture of us. We are serious and real about this. We saw your ad on the SF bay area page and we live near you.

I’ll explain more but I’m at work right now. Please ONLY if you are interested, mail me back with just a yes. Again, only if you are interested… otherwise I’d have to ask someone else. I appreciate it.

A Dangerous Man

A Dangerous Man

A Dangerous Man (DVD)

Directed by: Keoni Waxman

Written by: Keoni Waxman

Produced by: Deboragh Gabler

Starring: Steven Seagal, Marlaina Mah, Vitaly Kravchenko, Terry Chen, Jesse Hutch

Run Time: 94 Min

Action, action and more action! That’s what I want when I watch a Steven Seagal movie. I don’t want any of that artistic stuff, a plot full of learning about the inner child of characters nor do I want a sappy love story. When it comes to cheesy action movies all I want to see is ass kicking, sexy women and a fast plot where I don’t have to think. A Dangerous Man is exactly what a Seagal movie should be.

The story starts off with Shane Daniels, Seagal, attacking a random mugger who attempted to rob his wife. Soon after the incident police find the mugger dead and Shane is interrogated about his past in the Special Forces. The evidence is damning and Shane is condemned to a life of prison. While he’s serving his sentence tragedy strikes as Shane’s young sexy wife leaves him to move on with her life. After 6 years of hard time, Shane’s luck changes and he’s released when neglected DNA evidence proves he wasn’t the killer. This scene is just long enough to get all of the information we need about the character for the movie.

Now that the first 7 minutes of the movie is over, including the credits, Shane is back on the streets and trying to make a life for himself. Being alone in the world is hard for a recently released convict, as one can imagine, and Shane finds himself dealing with his problems and loneliness at a local liquor store. As Shane leaves the liquor store with his cheap bottle of bourbon he’s confronted by two thugs looking for some easy money. Shane doesn’t take any of their guff and after some colorful words, gives them a lesson in the art of implanting his fist into their faces.

The story continues, we’re about 10 minutes into the movie now, we find Shane reminiscing about his former wife in an almost empty park (some car thieves stop there to use the bathroom). His wife really is way too sexy for him, which explains why he’s so lonely as he remembers has flashbacks of their love. Aside from being dangerous, Shane is also very emotional.

Alas, his time alone is too good to be true when a police officer pulls into the parking lot and begins to question some Asian Mafia gentleman for an unknown reason; maybe it was speeding, in the same park where Shane is trying to sort out his emotions. We all know what happens from there, the mafia members kill the police officer and attack the car thieves. As a peace loving man, Shane sees it as his duty to get involved and thoroughly explains why violence is wrong by giving the mafia members some tough love; like any good step dad would give his red haired son.

After a quick search of the mafia member’s cars, Shane finds a duffle bag full of drug money and another sexy girl in the trunk. Shane, being the humanitarian that he is, decides to help the woman get back up on her feet and save her family from the Asian Mafia while keeping the drug money for himself as kind of a payment for his services. And this is still in the first 20 minutes!!!!

A Dangerous Man is a far cry from the movies he’s released in the past few years. The film quality and production is better than some of his movies that actually made it into theaters in the past. The plot is fairly bad and doesn’t make very much sense for example; the Chinese military is trying to capture a man who did the accounting for their large drug organization and the most of plot revolves around saving him. There is some dubbing in the movie but it’s not nearly as bad as the sound was in one of Seagal’s recent movies called Kill Switch, where a majority of camera work was shot from behind Seagal to cover up the bad dubbing. For the most the action scenes were done well aside from some bad editing here and there.

This movie has everything, the Asian Mafia, the Russian Mafia, corrupt police, the Chinese military, strippers that can’t dance and of course lots of action. The movie doesn’t go into any real depth since that would get in the way of the action but honestly what do you expect from a Seagal movie? When you watch the movie you call the main character Steven Seagal instead of the characters real name, these kinds of movie aren’t about the characters or story as much as they’re about the star.

A Dangerous Man is made for a younger male audience and isn’t the kind of movie I’d recommend for women, since some are objectified in the movie. For those people who like Steven Seagal movies this movie is a solid mix of everything that we’d expect from him but for the people who like movies with a well laid out plot, realistic circumstances and a story that is believable the movie scores a meager 1.5 out of 5.

Rating for Steven Segal fans: (4/5)

Rating for everyone else: (1.5/5)

Universal Soldier: Regeneration

Universal Soldier:  Regeneration
Directed by: John Hyams

Written by: Victor Ostrovsky

Produced by: Craig Baumgarten, Moshe Diamant, Peter Hyams

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Andrei Arlovski

Run Time: 97 min

Jean-Claude Van Damme is back in the latest instilment of the Universal Soldier series and is…. well the same he always was except older. Who could resist a straight to dvd movie starring not only Van Damme but Dolph Lundgren and UFC’s Andrei Arlovski. This movie has all of those old great “actors” that I watched when I grew up and spent countless nights staying up all night eating bad fast food, drinking soda and watching bad movies.

The story takes place in modern day Russia where a separatist group has kidnapped the president’s son and daughter and is holding them for ransom at the famous nuclear reactor in Chernobyl. If that isn’t scary enough, the group has threatened to destroy what’s left of the reactor which would doom Russia to a nuclear holocaust. As a response the US military reactivates the secret Universal Soldier program in order to save Russia from the separatist group and nuclear disaster that would bring generations of mutated children with amazing math skills (well the mutants aren’t part of the movie but it should be).

Luc Deveraux, Van Damme, has been out of the Universal Soldier program for years and is in the process of being rehabilitated in order to be reintroduced back into society. Luc’s progress seemed to be going well even though he can’t remember what happened to him the day before, suffers from swollen knees and is confused most of the time. The army knows that Luc is the only man for the job, after their first plan fails, and his rehabilitation is stopped so he can save the world.

All famous heroes need an insurmountable super villain which is where the NGU, played by Andrei Arlovski comes in. The NGU is the newest super soldier created by a mad scientist who dreams of taking over the world. The NGU is emotionless which makes it an easy role to play; all the Arlovski has to do is fight and walk around and look tough, which he does well.

I expected the action to be slightly better than it was and the main draw of the movie was seeing my favorite B-movie stars in action. You may have noticed that I didn’t mention Lundgren’s role and that wasn’t by accident; his role was pathetic and it seemed as if it was there just to get his name on the credits. In the end this movie wasn’t as bad as it could have been but it wasn’t very good either but that’s why the movie is straight to DVD. This movie is best to watch when you’re in the mood to relive staying up all night and watching movies on TBS when you were young.

(2.5/5)

America the Beautiful

America the Beautiful
Directed by: Darryl Roberts

Written by: Darryl Roberts

Produced by: Michele G. Bluthenthal, Roderick Gatlin, Stela Georgieva

Run Time: 105 min

The beauty industry encompasses almost every aspect of our daily lives and there’s no escaping it in the modern world. We’re surrounded by fashion magazines, bill boards, advertisements and television shows depicting what beautiful people look like. America the Beautiful investigates what effects the perception of beauty has on women, the consequences of trying to fit the image of what we think is attractive, how the fashion industry works and seeks an answer to the question of what true beauty is. While the documentary does ask some very important questions it also has many flaws ranging from bad camera work, a lack of information on important issues, emphasizing issues which any somewhat intelligent person already understands and includes segments which should have been cut out of the film completely.

The part of the documentary Darryl Roberts focuses on most chronicles an aspiring 12 year old model, Gerren Taylor, who has the potential to be the next big super model. At her age, Gerren must juggle her school work with her modeling career which is an insightful look into the fashion business. Ultimately this is left an incomplete portrayal of her personality; for example as her work takes off she also has problems at school to the point where she is forced to sign a behavior contract in order to return to her classes again. While the school segment gets a lot of time the film isn’t clear about exactly what her problems are. Did she miss too much class or was it her attitude that resulted in her being kicked out of school? Another aspect missing from her story is how her mother’s greed directly coincides with the downfall of her modeling career by taking Gerren away from the modeling agency she worked with. Her mother states that she has a vision of where Gerren’s career should go but her inexperience and attitude gets her virtually black listed in the United States.

The documentary also features interviews with editors of fashion magazines, modeling agencies, people on the street, parents who have lost their daughters to eating disorders, plastic surgeons and victims of botched surgeries. The interviews give a lot of information which for the most part is common sense but manages to remain informative for those people who haven’t put much thought into how the beauty industry works. Even though most of the interviews were informative, there were some that should have been cut altogether. One of these interviews is with Dr Stephen Marquardt showcases his lack of a grasp on human evolution and how society works making all of his points moot but for some reason this was kept in the film with a little blurb at the end informing us that he’s bipolar. Other interviews that should have been cut are the ones with school children who seem to have the perfect answers to the director’s questions making the segments seem rehearsed.

In the most impressive segment of the documentary, the director investigates the toxins in cosmetics and the lack of oversight over the chemicals that are in every day products. Roberts takes the time to interview chemists who make the products as well as get them tested for cancer causing pathogens. He finds out that the FDA doesn’t really regulate these products they test and they turn up positive for cancer causing materials. With his findings in hand he compares the way Europe and the United States regulate chemicals used in cosmetics showing the lax rules of the cosmetic industry in the United States.

One of the other flaws in this film is the unprofessional camera work which is rampant throughout the movie. There are numerous occasions where the camera is in too close and cuts off the top part of the person in the interview’s head or the shot isn’t centered well. The camera work does get better but unfortunately the viewer gets distracted in interviews by the sound equipment bobbing down into the shot frequently. Since the same interviews are cut apart and presented in different segments of the film these problems occur during the entire duration of the documentary.

The subject of beauty is so massive that it would be impossible to get all of the aspects covered in one film but with that in mind the documentary still doesn’t achieve what it intends to. While it does show the evils of the beauty industry it fails to go in any real depth of what true beauty is. Instead of showing what it intends to the director interviews celebrities about what they think is attractive and repeats sappy things like “everyone is beautiful in their own way.”

(2.0/5)

500 Days of Summer

500 Days of Summer

Directed by: Marc Webb

Written by: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber

Produced by: Mason Novick, Jessica Tuchinsky, Mark Waters, Steven J. Wolfe

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel

Run Time: 95 minutes

In the beginning of this movie the narrator says that “this isn’t a love story” and it’s not it’s a story about love. Technically, 500 Days of Summer is a romantic comedy but there’s absolutely nothing funny or original about the movie. What this movie does have is a lot of music by depressed women singers, the main characters staring at their phones after a fight as it rains outside, lame romantic gazes where the characters look into each other’s eyes and say loving things to each other.

The movie follows an emo boy, Tom Hansen, after a hard breakup with a girl as he has flash backs of his loving relationship. Tom works at a greeting card company making cards with fancy romantic slogans since he could fall in love with a pet rock if he was left alone with it for long enough. Tom is the epitome of a pathetic love sick young man who has his widdle heart broken unexpectedly by a cute girl. To put it shortly, Tom is a douche with no redeeming qualities.

I don’t understand why anyone would want to watch this nonsense. It reminds me of those people who are in love with the idea of being in love and then get depressed when things don’t work out. I don’t like watching depressed oversensitive asses in real life, why would I like a movie about tender and romantic moments through the eyes of a depressed pussy(even his sister called him that)? This movie is utter garbage meant to pull on women’s and sissified men’s heart strings.

DO NOT watch this movie.

(0.5/5) The .5 is because the main characters sister is slutty.

Power of Corruption

We’ve all seen it happen: a mild mannered man gets a promotion and suddenly things change. The once normal employee becomes drunk with power, even if the promotion is a small one. It doesn’t take long before he feels entitled to the control he has and begins to abuse his power for his own personal gain which further inflates his bloated ego. It would be one thing if this story wasn’t so common but chances are that every one of us has known someone who subscribes to the whole “do as I say and not as I do” mentality once they get the slightest bit of authority. The old adage “power corrupts” has been true throughout history and there’s no sign of things changing. What is it that makes people feel that they are superior to others and why do they feel that way?

    The Experiments

The Stanford Prison Experiment was a psychological experiment where college students were recruited to play the role of prisoners and prison guards so researchers could evaluate the effects that a prison environment would have on people. Soon after the experiment began the prison guards quickly became sadistic and actively tried to hide the abuse of the prisoners from the researchers monitoring the experiment. The prisoners on the other hand, started to mentally break down in a short time and accepted the treatment that they had received. It didn’t take long before the researchers became worried about the physical and mental safety of the subjects. The experiment was originally scheduled to last for 2 weeks but was abruptly stopped after 6 days when rapid mental degeneration of both the guards and prisoners who were held in the mock jail could not be ignored. While there are ethical complaints about how the experiment was carried out, the findings produced by the study showed the effects of power and stress can have on regular people.

The power of conformity is also a strong factor as to why people act the way they do. When a person is given a role they have preconceived notions of what the duties and characteristics of the role entitle. One of the criticisms of the Stanford Experiment, that the guards and prisoners already had an idea of what they were supposed to do and simply acted out what researchers wanted, proves this point. It doesn’t matter if the person believes that they can be responsible with power, once they are put in a role they quickly conform to what they think the norm of that role is; even if it is against their beliefs.

The majority of people are indeed heard animals, often being compared to sheep, which is what the Asch conformity experiments proved. The Asch experiment was a simple test involving a group of people and some simple pictures of lines. The subjects were shown lines and were told to compare them to everyday objects and other lines. When the subjects were alone they answered all but one of the thirty-five questions correctly on average but the real brilliance of the test was when the subjects had to answer questions in groups. All of the members of the groups were controlled except for one subject. The controlled members of the test intentionally gave incorrect answers to the questions so the researchers could compare how people acted when they’re alone verses in a group. The result was that the subjects were influenced by the members of the groups answers and in turn gave the wrong answer 32% of the time when asked the same question. The need to fit in and group think influenced the answers the subject gave.


    Genetics of Superiority

In the past, to maintain their perceived genetic superiority, royalty and leaders have bread with one another so that their families blood line didn’t delude. Today rulers still adhere to the philosophy that states they are genetically superior to people of a lower economic or social class. One simple way to examine this idea is to examine dog breeding where some dogs are bread for different jobs and have different skills than ones of other breeds. The rulers of the world feel that they are somehow a better breed than the rest of mankind.

Once again, in the last few years, the idea of selective breeding is becoming more of main stream. A quick search of craigslist for egg and sperm donors reveals some interesting ads. Most of the ads require that a person has a full medical history of their family, has graduated college and some are ads are race specific but other ads require certain the donor to have certain features like genius level intelligence or be extremely attractive so that those traits can be passed on to the next generation of people. The fertility business is growing by leaps and bounds with the advent of procedures which promise designer babies in the near future. Within our lifetime, parents may have the choice to choose what sex, characteristics and genetic traits that their children will have.

The idea of selective breeding isn’t anything new and was extremely popular in the United States prior to World War 2. The theory stated that certain groups of people were genetically inferior to others and brought forced sterilization policies of native and poor populations throughout the United States. These ideas quieted down after World War 2 after Hitler gave eugenics a bad name when he attempted to create a master race but sterilization programs still were secretly active until the late 1978.

Books like Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, written in 1931, have predicted a similar picture of what the future of mankind would hold. The New World was one where the human race had been genetically manipulated depending on what their place in society. The most important groups of people were of course genetically superior to the less useful members of society whose development was stunted so they remained content with their duties. Due to the way the citizens were bread, a utopian society was created complete with the use of drugs and genetic manipulation. The BBC, as if inspired by Huxley’s vision, recently released a story which stated that in the future mankind will be split into two species one of which would be a dimwitted underclass.

Scientists today still secretly debate if there are races which are genetically superior to others and envision a world where certain genetic traits can be eliminated. Scientists like James Watson, who discovered DNA, have come under fire for stating that black people are inferior to whites, that homosexual people can be eliminated with genetic technology and through screening science would eliminate inferior traits. Dr. Watson caused a media frenzy with his comments and as a result has retired from his job as chancellor of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory after working there for almost 40 years.

    The Mall Cop Mentality

Perhaps of the most common reason for abuses of power is something I like to call the “Mall Cop Mentality.” This disorder occurs when people who have been shunned, oppressed and abused suddenly gain a small level of authority over other people. As soon as they achieve that authority they automatically think that they are part of the system and are therefore better than their peers. As part of the system they are entitled to special privileges, so they think, because their job is to maintain order. There are countless examples of this ranging from people who get a big promotion at work and become abusive; to police officers who use their taser on people who dare to disagree with them(even if they are children or crippled).

This mentality is magnified in politics. With our current political system that is based strictly on party lines and not performance it’s nearly impossible to be kicked out of office. Career politicians wield tremendous power without having to worry about being held accountable for their actions. With this kind of power, it doesn’t take much imagination to see why most people in power don’t work in the public’s interest. The main reason why politicians do what they do is not because they believe something is right or wrong, it is because they want to keep hold of the power and entitlements that they have; for without those they are just like everyone else.

The people affected by the Mall Cop Mentality, even though they are part of the system, generally don’t realize that the power they have is only temporary and is given to them by others. Think for a second about who funds politicians, it isn’t the people it’s corporations and Wall Street. Police get their power from politicians who are at the mercy of private interests. All of the power and entitlements that they achieve throughout their career can be stripped from them in an instant which is why despite the pubic calls for change, society stays the same.

What would most people do if they had great authority without oversight? Now combine what would happen if that authority is in place over generations. Would people become so corrupt to think that they are an entirely different race than other people? Would these people want to be able to control the path of human evolution itself? Looking at the history of royal families throughout the world and comparing them to psychological experiments, one could definitely see how those beliefs manifest.

Even with genetics factored in, the authority people have gotten is due to power and privilege instead of having superior genes. The bottom line is that people are all generally the same genetically and mentally. It’s the entitlements, authority and the beliefs that people are raised upon that make them feel they are separate them from the lowly homeless man on the streets.

The United States founding was based on resisting powerful interests who wanted to subdue, tax and control the world and those powers have now come back stronger than ever. Just like in the past there’re always those gullible people hungry for power that will be taken advantage since they don’t understand that once they’re no longer useful they’ll endure the same treatment as the people they oppress. Our politicians and public servants are hopelessly corrupt and without the public demanding change they will continue to infect the country and spread their corruption on every level. There is absolutely no reason for anyone not to be held accountable for the way they wield their power and it is the public’s job to keep authority in check.

Will the people of the United States stand up to those who seek to control every aspect of life or will it fall to the power hungry dictators who we overthrew during our founding? Sometimes it depresses me when I ponder this question and look at what America has become. How could we possibly stand up to the web of oppression that bombards every aspect of our life? People still believe the propaganda that the people in power have told us trough our news and TV shows. In times like this we all need a reminder of where we come from and what made America a great nation. I like to read the Declaration of Independence for inspiration, which is quite possibly one of the most beautiful documents in our history, when I have doubt about what the future holds.

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. “

The Unit

Directed by: David Mamet, Vahan Moosekian

Written by: David Mamet, Daniel Voll, Frank Military, Todd Ellis Kessler, Sharon Lee Watson, Lynn Mamet

Produced by: David Mamet, Shawn Ryan, Vahan Moosekian, Daniel Voll, Frank Military, Todd Ellis Kessler

Starring: Dennis Haysbert, Regina Taylor, Scott Foley, Audrey Marie Anderson, Max Martini, Abby Brammell, Michael Irby, Bre Blair, Joss Grey, Robert Patrick, Nicole Steinwedell, Wes Chatham

Running Time: 4 seasons

When I first heard about The Unit I thought to myself, “great another piece of military propaganda being broadcast into my living room.”  I watched the first few episodes, with honestly a closed mind, looking for a reason, any reason, not to enjoy the show and the chance to indulge in an angry rant at the person who had introduced me to show.  As I made my way through the episodes a strange thing happened; I began to enjoy the show.

The Unit is a military action/drama show revolving around a secret Special Forces squad (modeled after Delta Force) with the same name as the show.  Covert missions, as one would expect, are a large part of the series but what surprised me most is how important that lives of the wives and children of the deployed soldiers were which gave the story depth and made the series much more realistic.

Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of The Unit was to see a story that wasn’t about how glorious the military is and instead focused on how difficult that kind of lifestyle can be on the soldiers and families involved.  The families are faced with knowing that their husbands and fathers are deployed on extremely dangerous missions with the fear that they won’t make it back home.  If not knowing when their loved ones will be safe; the families also have to deal with the low salaries that the soldiers get for risking their lives for their country, spousal abuse and affairs (which are common in the military lifestyle),  combined with having to keep their jobs a secret from everybody outside of the Unit.

Given the difficult lifestyle that the characters of the story have chosen to live; every character has to have a strong mental will and inner strength that one wouldn’t doesn’t see on regular television shows.  The characters, especially the wives, struggle to keep their family together while at the same time dealing with situations that are common in our normal lives.  The strength of the characters is shown most in the Blane family, where Jonas Blane, played by Dennis Haysbert, is charged with being the leader of the Unit and at the same time still manages to a powerful father figure and a positive role model which is hardly ever seen in the mainstream media; especially involving characters of color.

In the end what we’re left with is an outstanding T.V. show filled with action, drama and a high level of realism which enables the viewer to suspend their disbelief.  The show isn’t perfect and personally I’d have liked to see more of the shadier and darker sides of the missions that our military routinely engages in on a regular basis.  While this show isn’t for everyone; if you’re a fan of stories about the military, this show is as perfect as it gets on network television.

(4/5)

Bones


Produced by: Kathy Reichs

Written by: Hart Hanson, Kathy Reichs

Starring: Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz, Michaela Conlin, T.J. Thyne

What do you get when you cross snarky women forensic anthropologists, a former army sniper trying to make up for his past by working for the FBI and dialog that would make sane any man leave the room?  You get the first few episodes of Bones.

Bones is basically a version of CSI geared towards women.  The main character Dr. Temperance Brennan, nicknamed Bones, is the world’s premier expert on forensics, an expert in martial arts, a famous novel writer and an orphan too which is all made clear within the 20 minutes of the first episode of the series.  With all of the education and knowledge that Bones has you’d figure that she’d have to have some flaws and we aren’t disappointed with her inability to communicate with regular people which leads to hilarious and totally “unpredictable” situations which are totally predictable.

Every strong woman needs a strong man and that’s where Special Agent Seeley Booth comes in.  Booth is witty, cocky, and handsome and of course street smart which makes him the perfect counterpart for the socially inept Bones.  Booth’s past, where he was a sniper, makes him a man’s man but that doesn’t stop him from being sensitive too.  In fact, if Booth was any good at marketing he’d have a picture of himself smiling on a stick of Secret deodorant:  “Booth, strong enough for a man but made for a woman.”  Since he is so charming he’s already got a hot lawyer girlfriend which of course won’t last long since it wouldn’t be a happy ending if Bones doesn’t get her man.

After about five minutes of watching Bones it became apparent that I would have to take notes so I accurately list all of my problems with the characters and writing on the show.  A criminal could only be so lucky to have this team of crack detectives investigate them.  While the gritty stuff behind how the criminal was found was interesting, namely the forensics, the lack of due process and how the evidence was collected would be enough to nullify the cases in the real world.  Bones doesn’t let a meager thing like a search warrant stop her from getting her man but instead adheres to the end justifies the means philosophy.

Here’re some other problems I had with the show:

  1. The use Elmer’s glue to rebuild a shattered skull.  For some reason that doesn’t seem right.
  2. Stereotypical Arab suicide bombers.  This series is released by Fox but they could at least put effort into the terrorists.  Why would one bomber sabotage and blow an accomplice up which would draw attention to their plans before they’re carried out?
  3. Homeland Security officials don’t understand that DNA can be used to identify remains.
  4. One of the forensic team members can’t handle working with freshly dead bodies.
  5. Super forensic holographic technology which can create a perfect image of the victim with the push of a button which only their lab has.
  6. Bones repeatedly tells the suspect before they’re arrested details of the case which should kept confidential.  On one occasion, she lets an entire town know the details of the case.
  7. Did I mention the search warrant thing?  To the credit of the show, they did mention needing one to conduct a search about 7 episodes in.

Needless to say, the only entertainment I got from watching the first few episodes was making my list about the problems with the show.

Luckily by the fifth episode the writers must figured out that men wouldn’t watch the show the way it was and gave more of a focus to the forensic science and shifted away from the characters witty personalities.  Since Kathy Reichs, the producer of the show, is actually a renowned forensic anthropologist her input gives the science behind the show a realistic feeling.  Even though I didn’t care about the characters personal lives the science kept me entertained while I made my way through the episodes.

In the end Bones has a lot of flaws which I personally can’t overlook but I can also see how people, especially women, would like the show.  The scientific aspects of the show are very interesting, but the abilities and knowledge the characters have make them seem less than real.   The stories have many covenant conclusions where the main characters walk in on the criminals trying to cover their tracks because of some hunch they had.  Bones is the kind of show that you would watch because it’s on not because you particularly care about seeing it.  If Bones was a book, I could imagine finding it at a Laundromat next to a large pink laundry basket.

(2.5/5)