Archive for September 2005

Evolution

September 29, 2005

[quote="One Eye Trouser Trout"]I believe evolution is a crock of shit….reason being is because if evolution was real…then why are monkey still around? and why haven’t we actually SEEN evolution take effect in an animal? i dont belieev that every animal would just happen to evolve all at the same time.[/quote]

I’ve had many debates with those who are pro-evolutionist so to speak. Most of those people held to the belief that Creationism was of a different “scientific standard” than Evolution. Or they said that Evolution could be proved while Creationism couldn’t.

My position is that Creationism isn’t a theory not because it can’t be proved, but because it doesn’t explain how intelligence, any intelligence affected the creation of life on earth as we know it. Was it space aliens tinkering with our genetics as we selectively breed cattle, something like that? Was it God that introduced a chaos variable as described by chaos theory, into the celestial cauldron of proto-plasmic goo that eventually resulted in the appearance of mankind? Is evolution on its principles correct, but the appearance of sentient intelligence was only brought out by intelligent meddling?

You can’t say creationism is a theory without it providing a stable explanation for things. The reason why that matters, is simple. Because that then leaves evolution as the [i]only[/i] theory around.

The Theory of Evolution, is then, on par with the Theory of Relatvisim or the Special Theory of Relativism. Meaning, because of what THT discussed, you cannot conduct experiments that de facto proves the consistency of the explanations in the theory. Exactly as you cannot conduct direct experiments, reviewable by a peer group of scientists, on black holes for example. Nor can you send a man at .5 c to Alpha Centauri A and then talk to him when he gets back about how much time has passed.

That does not mean the theory is wrong, it simply means it will stay a theory until such a time as all hypotheses in the theory can be experimented and verified to be accurate, consistent, and true. When a theory can account for all inconsistencies and all models of explanation, then I believe it will graduate to a law, or a principle if it is only one hypothesis. Heisenberg’s Principle of Uncertainty, Newton’s Law of Gravity.

You will certainly have heard that Einstein described gravity much better as a function of the curvature of space time, which accounted for many stellar phenomenon that was undetected in Newton’s days, than Newton’s inversed square (?) equation. As I see it, Newton conducted all the experiments to show that he was correct, and he was. But his law did not explain other such phenomenon, and therefore it became obsolete.

The Theory of Evolution has conducted many experiments, if not EVERY experiment, concerning its hypotheses. Which, as far as I recall, is that single cell organisms evolve through generations, mutation is one example, to multi-celled organisms. And that the environment in which they survive, provides for better adaptations that allow specific strains of cells which are higher evolved to survive and procreate better. Thereby resulting in the new species outlasting and killing off the weaker species.

We see that in the difference between species today, adapted to their environments, in which things are there for a reason, and that reason is to survive better in their environment.

Now the question is, how exactly does one species “metamorphosize” into another species. There’s a lot of versions of that explanation going around, the most relevant one is about the “missing link”.

But, to quote real life examples of Evolutionary experiments, you can see it in such things as genetically engineered plants. Where we produce plants that are better able to survive in specific conditions, or even unspecific conditions.

In fact, that would not be an experiment per say, but an actual “application” of scientific theorem. Which carries a much greater worth than just somebody cooking up the right batch of chemicals.

But, where as Evolution assumes that everything was a staple of mutation, randomness, entropy to enthalpy, Creationism assumes that an intelligence was at work.

Genetically engineered plants didn’t occur naturally, it was made by intelligences, us. Is that proof we were tampered with? No. Is it proof that evolution, here or anywhere, is always random? No to that one too. Is it an indication that Intelligent design is possible? Of course.

Evolution is probably true. There is a chance that humans were aided through outside intervention. You could even postulate that an alien race threw out a piece of junk asteroid and when it hit the Earth, it allowed us to evolve instead of the dinos. That would be “Intelligent design”, but only principally. I don’t hear of any consistent explanation by the Creationists, except to say that Evolution is true, except that part about no Intelligences. Like politics, you have to offer an alternative, not just talk down the other guy.

Crealution so to speak. Crea+lution.

The results of self-defense

September 29, 2005

Positive

Negative

Star Wars again

September 29, 2005

Why the Jedi Council needed to become extinct
And various other links here

Operation Restore Rights

September 27, 2005

A flash slide of the campaign.

Left and Right Propaganda techniques

September 27, 2005

One of the things the Republicans are better in terms of propaganda, is picture and photo propaganda. Take a look at the Left’s aesthetics below.

The Left’s Picture Propaganda

Now take a look at the Right’s aesthetics.

Right

Then take a look at both

The Left is very ugly, on so many levels.

UPDATE Another example of Republican propaganda done well

Christopher Hitchins and a British lunatic

September 26, 2005

Is the title too biased?

If you actually saw the debate at a New York University, on 9/14/05, you might think different. It was an excellent debate. Bush could learn a lot of rhetoric cues and vocabulary from Hitchins. Hitchins knows how to communicate to the Left, the wacko and the idealistic both. And that is very very useful in propaganda.

I’ll update this as an analysis of the debate, which would fill volumes. Or if I can find the CSPAN pod cast, it’ll make up for it.

Second Draft

September 25, 2005

I’d be interested to see to what levels the art of persuasion may be produced by these revolutions in information technology.

I have already see the manner in which the Left have produced propaganda with their inherited control over world wide media, and I have also seen which side has benefited by this distortion. But propaganda need not be a distortion, it in fact may reinforce a truth and make it appear truer than it really is.

Propaganda that distorts truth, to a certain level, has perpetuated the need for propaganda. Because usually, old WWII propaganda used to aid the war effort stopped after the war ended, because the propaganda’s purpose had been fullfilled. That propaganda’s purpose was to elevate the good qualities in war and to diminish the bad to nonexistence, but once the war ends then there is no need to elevate the good qualities of something that no longer exists.

Current media propaganda serves the opposite purpose seemingly. They elevate the bad qualities, and diminish to nonexistence the good qualities.

And the method of this propagation is not leaving out the bad parts, it is leaving out the good parts and only reporting on the bad parts. But the thing is, when the war ends, the bad parts will not exist anymore, but the propaganda must continue to produce more bad reports simply to prevent someone from finding out the good that would invalidate the bad.

In WWII, once we found out the bad (Omaha Beach, the tanks sinking, and the casualties), the result is not that such diminishes the good. Which is an advantage to persuasion techniques that emphasize instead of distorts. Because once you emphasize the good without the bad, reporting the bad then actually enhances the public relations of the good.

Another example of the differences in propaganda technique, between emphasis and distortion of the truth, is also in the subject of the truth. If the subject of the propaganda is really true, then you won’t need the propaganda permanently, cause it is only a tools to aid in dissimilation of reality. But if the subject of propaganda is actually false, then you require propaganda ad infinitum, or else the whole project will collapse because of being exposed to reality.

Such a collapse is seen in Nazi and Islamic propaganda. Much of their claims of the Master Race and the Jews being the fault of everything, is blatantly not true and is in fact a lie designed to facilitate their destruction and someone else’s elevation.

The internet, may produce some other combination than the ones currently in use, I speculate.

For an example of incompetent propaganda, the techique of using the art of persuasion, look at troutsky post above.

He is trying to sarcastically present some refutation or counterpoint. But what he ends up accomplishing is confusing people because he did a double assumption, and usually in propaganda you can’t base your technique upon the assumption that your audience is psychic or “in the know”. That would defeat the whole purpose of persuasion.

Usually if you are using satire, you present the opposite of what you believe, using stylistic devices to both communicate your disbelief and to also wound the opposing person’s viewpoint.

In other words, you make the opponent’s viewpoint into a strawman and make fun of it cause it is easily blown over.

But T changes his style from satire to direct viewpoint communication halfway through. Instead of perpetuating the opposite of his viewpoint, he starts communicating his viewpoint as if his viewpoint is the opposite of his own viewpoint, and that is a nice way to confuse the audience. And when the audience is confused, they start to think, and thinking is not what you want if you want to persuade someone. At least thinking that isn’t like what you meant for them to have. Cause people who start to think based upon some outside stimulus, becomes then a randomized process that you can’t predict.

The media probably knows this, and does not want to confuse the audience. For whatever reason, some of them have begun to think the audience must not be confused because they do not have the intellect to process information correctly. *Shrugs*, I doubt a propaganda machine tries not to confuse people because the people are too stupid to know truth from reality. If there were people like that, you wouldn’t need a propaganda machine in the first place. You’d just be able to tell people what they will believe.

Obviously the media doesn’t do that, cause everytime they talk about Iraq they don’t say “You must tell President Bush to pull out of Iraq and admit his mistakes”.

No, they use more subtle methods of persuasion than that. Not that subtle, but subtler than direct thought control.

I hope to see a method of propaganda, a technique of persuasion if you will, that is a sort of hybridization of the two previous techniques. The one we see today in the MSM, an the one we saw before in the MSM in WWII.

But, unlike a normal hybridization, I don’t want a mix of the two, I want something totally new.

I want a propaganda philosophy that sets out to expose the truth, but neither diminishes the good nor the bad news to get success. I want a technique of persuasion that allows people to understand the subject (the truth that is propagandized), without requiring omission of truth or distortion of truth.

In other words, I hope for a self-contained self-replicating technique. The beginning looks good, since the website claims to want to give the audience enough information for them to come to the right conclusions. They must be confident of a certain truth, and they will even tell us that in one way or another.

Some people may ask, how can you do propaganda if you tell everyone the truth, about everything. And I would say, what is better than truth at persuading people to believe in it?

Truth is power. And a subtle one at that.

The Roman Empire and the American Imperium

September 21, 2005

EDIT:This link should have been in the title, but it was removed after importing from Sake Light.

I’ve been thinking a lot on the Roman Empire and the current state of affairs in the world relating to America. I’ve always noticed a lot of parallels that were just plain spooky. Like the Roman Senate, how Rome was a Republic instead of an Athenian Democracy and how we were modeled after a representative republic.

Ir just gets better, and spookier. Case in point, found an article that tried to compare America to Rome. Didn’t do too good a job, but it is useful as a starting point for debate.

The word of the hour is empire. As the United States marches to war, no other label quite seems to capture the scope of American power or the scale of its ambition. “Sole superpower” is accurate enough, but seems oddly modest. “Hyperpower” may appeal to the French; “hegemon” is favoured by academics. But empire is the big one, the gorilla of geopolitical designations – and suddenly America is bearing its name.

America is a new kind of Empire, or Imperium.

Of course, enemies of the US have shaken their fist at its “imperialism” for decades:they are doing it again now, as Washington wages a global “war against terror” and braces itself for a campaign aimed at “regime change” in a foreign, sovereign state. What is more surprising, and much newer, is that the notion of an American empire has suddenly become a live debate inside the US. And not just among Europhile liberals either, but across the range – from left to right.

HIstorically, most people who didn’t like the ROman Empire and attacked them were either trying to defend their homeland or trying to attack a rich Roman protected city to do some murder, looting, and rapine.

The barbarians to the north and to the northeast, were especially dangerous in this regard.

The war against terror is against an Islamic proto-caliphate that wants to subjugate women as an incentive to acquire suicide bombers, and to perpetuate misery so that people will willingly die in the service of Allah (Tribal leader) for heaven.

The Islamic Fascists are the new age barbarians of our day. Vicious, without mercy or any hope of civilized redemption. And like Rome, the best way to get rid of the barbarians, is to conquer them. Rome’s conquering technique was superior to the Athenian city state method, which was to subjugate all people to Athens under Greek culture or as slaves. Rome’s found a better way, which was to allow conquered people self-autonomy, in return for paying Roman taxes. They get the protection of Roman Legions and Roman civilization works, as well as trade on the Roman Highways.

America, in this regard, did something else.

Today a liberal dissenter such as Gore Vidal, who called his most recent collection of essays on the US The Last Empire, finds an ally in the likes of conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer. Earlier this year Krauthammer told the New York Times, “People are coming out of the closet on the word ‘empire’.” He argued that Americans should admit the truth and face up to their responsibilities as the undisputed masters of the world. And it wasn’t any old empire he had in mind. “The fact is, no country has been as dominant culturally, economically, technologically and militarily in the history of the world since the Roman empire.”

I wouldn’t call them “allies” since conservatives see America as a good in the world when all or most liberals see America as an evil in the world worse than any other power, dictator or Islamicfascist alike.

Accelerated by the post-9/11 debate on America’s role in the world, the idea of the United States as a 21st-century Rome is gaining a foothold in the country’s consciousness. The New York Review of Books illustrated a recent piece on US might with a drawing of George Bush togged up as a Roman centurion, complete with shield and spears. Earlier this month Boston’s WBUR radio station titled a special on US imperial power with the Latin tag Pax Americana. Tom Wolfe has written that the America of today is “now the mightiest power on earth, as omnipotent as… Rome under Julius Caesar”.

Bush would be better characterized as Caesar, doing what needed to be done and because he thought that he was the best man to wield power at the time. All Presidential nominees believe they would do a better job than any other person, that is why they run, and that is why Caesar got into politics, to save Rome.

It is true that we are the mightiest power on earth, but Rome was not omnipotent and neither is America. To believe in one’s omnipotency is to ascend to the level of Gods, and eventually human frailties will drop us to the ground, impacting at a very high terminal velocity.

I like the Pax Americana bit though. Catchy.

But is the comparison apt? Are the Americans the new Romans?

Quite apt.

In making a documentary film on the subject over the past few months, I put that question to a group of people uniquely qualified to know. Not experts on US defence strategy or American foreign policy, but Britain’s leading historians of the ancient world. They know Rome intimately – and, without exception, they are struck by the similarities between the empire of now and the imperium of then.

The problem is, they may know ROman history, but they don’t know a damn about American history or contemporary power structures. Big problem when comparing America to Roman Power.

It’d be more accurate to say that they are “struck” by the perceived similarities to what they think America is, to what they have studied about the Roman Empire.

The most obvious is overwhelming military strength. Rome was the superpower of its day, boasting an army with the best training, biggest budgets and finest equipment the world had ever seen. No one else came close. The United States is just as dominant – its defence budget will soon be bigger than the military spending of the next nine countries put together, allowing the US to deploy its forces almost anywhere on the planet at lightning speed. Throw in the country’s global technological lead, and the US emerges as a power without rival.

One must realize that Roman military power was heavily invested in the tax money acrued from the conquered provinces, as well as the fabulous loot of foreign cities and lands. It was this loot that attracted the men to the Legions, and it was this loot that motivated the Roman Legions to fight, and fight to win instead of running away. That and discipline, helped Rome conquer the world.

The reason why our defense budget in absolute terms is higher, is because WE PROVIDE MOST OF THE DEFENSE to the world, therefore most nations find it more profitable to invest in infrastructure and welfare benefits than a military. Also, the U.S. only uses about 4% of their GDP in military arms. You can’t say that about the Roman Empire or even the Roman Republic.

You see, Rome had a big army because they were “paid” to have a big occupying army by their conquered provinces. They also needed them to garrison the borders, to repel invasions, and to STOMP ON REBELLIONS. That’s not something America is required to do. We had a Civil War, once, and got over it. Rome was in continual civil war, and that was one of the reasons it self-destructed.

Another reason why we are a “power without rival” is because we have gravitas. It is a Roman Virtue. Our Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, and Sailors have CHARACTER. The strength of character that only a warrior as well as a soldier has. Discipline, Honor, Duty, Self-Sacrifice, Humility, Courage, and various other duties and precepts that a Roman would not find hard to recognize. And the civic virtues of our civilians, are also strong, as was seen on Flight 93 when normal frightened citizens acquired the knowledge of their fate, and saw to it that one airliner would fail in its mission to kill a lot of innocent civilians on the ground.

Yet another reason why Rome fell was because they lost these good Roman virtues. To what you may ask? Easy, they lost it to a decadent lifestyle lived on the tax collected from conquered provinces. This tax, unearned, made the elite aristocrats in Rome rich, and decadent, and weak. Their weakness was evident in how many stupid ass Emperors they got after Julius Caesar was assassinated by a bunch of power hungry Senatorial aristocrats bent on keeping their power over the plebeians.

Britney Spears, Tom Cruise, Jane Fonda. Those are our Roman contemporaries so to speak.

You could say Rome was screwed because their political leadership kept screwing around, as you would expect if the Congress was filled with movie stars, and the President was Hugh Hefner.

The Europeans obviously already do this, else they’d have said something was weird with Clinton’s behavior, but all they said was that it was “to be expected”. Right.

Anyways.

There is a big difference, of course. Apart from the odd Puerto Rico or Guam, the US does not have formal colonies, the way the Romans (or British, for that matter) always did. There are no American consuls or viceroys directly ruling faraway lands.

Correct, because just like the Romans improved on the Athenian Model of Empire building, we improved upon the Roman way. We promoted self-autonomy just like the Romans did, of course, but we didn’t require taxation from the conquered provinces. And because of that, we were not required to setup an insanely huge bureacracy of corrupt tax collectors, and god knows what, to govern a nation thousands of miles away from our capital and military base.

It was pretty smart. We acquire our prosperity through free trade. Yet the protection we give to these “provinces” are the same as the Romans, only better, since we covered far more territory without military bases than the Romans would ever “dream” of doing. Simple logistics. If you had to protect tax paying provinces, then you had to station a base in each one to satisfy one or otherwise they would complain. Because Germany, France, Britain, and Japan pay NO taxes, they can complain all they want, we can just tell them to push off and we can move our bases around as we see fit. A great amount of flexibility is inherent in our system.

We do not owe the conquered provinces, Germany and Japan, anything. For one thing, they owe us, but we forgave their debts, both moral and economical. Thus, through generosity, we have cemented some of the people in some provinces to us. But whenever the threat of mutual destruction goes away, people start bitching that the “free protection” we give them is either, not enough or too “intrusive”.

What a bunch of spoiled children. Now you know why the Romans said it was better to be feared than loved, they really really got tired of being hated on for protecting a bunch of lazy arse merchants from the barbarians, and then to have them complain about “taxes” paid for such protection. So the Romans came up with the solution that if you didn’t care about being loved at all, then you can just ignore the complaints, and then threaten to cut off their tongues if they continued it. Or give them a taste of what a barbarian invasion can do for their precious “overpriced tax payments”.

No wonder we have no viceroys “ruling” other countries. We don’t want to hear their stupid and lazy ass complaints. It sort of goes like “Give us more electricity, before you came here, we had electricity, now after we have none”. That gets tiring fast, as well.

But that difference between ancient Rome and modern Washington may be less significant than it looks. After all, America has done plenty of conquering and colonising: it’s just that we don’t see it that way. For some historians, the founding of America and its 19th-century push westward were no less an exercise in empire-building than Rome’s drive to take charge of the Mediterranean. While Julius Caesar took on the Gauls – bragging that he had slaughtered a million of them – the American pioneers battled the Cherokee, the Iroquois and the Sioux. “From the time the first settlers arrived in Virginia from England and started moving westward, this was an imperial nation, a conquering nation,” according to Paul Kennedy, author of The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers.

It is not so bad to be conquered. And we are the only nation to win the loyalties of conquered populations, such that those populations would fight for America. The Navajo Indians for example. They were instrumental in winning the Pacific in WWII.

Rome never did win the loyalties of their conquered populations. Too many slaves. Way too many. The Romans were good early on, but after they lost their gravitas, people just didn’t want to be a Roman glutton. They liked the riches, the statues, and the hot/cold running water. But not the decadence and the weakness. Roman culture was weak, the Greeks Hellenized it. That’s one danger of making too many conquered populations into slaves, you might get conquered culturally by the Greek slaves you have as your teachers.

The values of the Greeks really didn’t fit in with the Romans. The Romans originally valued strength over beauty, but the Greeks valued beauty over strength… not a good switch.

More to the point, the US has military bases, or base rights, in some 40 countries across the world – giving it the same global muscle it would enjoy if it ruled those countries directly.The muscle is entirely economic in origin, as those military bases power much of the local economy. Without those bases, you would hear a lot of screaming, as you have from states like South Dakota over Brac.

Unlike the Romans, the US doesn’t slaughter local citizens and put them on crucifixes to serve as an example not to “piss off Americans”.

(When the US took on the Taliban last autumn, it was able to move warships from naval bases in Britain, Japan, Germany, southern Spain and Italy: the fleets were already there.) According to Chalmers Johnson, author of Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, these US military bases, numbering into the hundreds around the world, are today’s version of the imperial colonies of old. Washington may refer to them as “forward deployment”, says Johnson, but colonies are what they are. On this definition, there is almost no place outside America’s reach. Pentagon figures show that there is a US military presence, large or small, in 132 of the 190 member states of the United Nations.

Imperial colonies, *scoffs*. We don’t even reproduce out on these so called “colonies”.

Must be the weirdest colony in the history of the world, if everyone in those bases would come home if nothing important was holding them up there.

The lack of “important things” holding them in those countries is a hint.

America extends our power through seabasing, not through “colonization”. That’s one problem with not studying American defense strategies. You make shit up as you go along as this guy did.

So America may be more Roman than we realise, with garrisons in every corner of the globe. But there the similarities only begin. For the United States’ entire approach to empire looks quintessentially Roman. It’s as if the Romans bequeathed a blueprint for how imperial business should be done – and today’s Americans are following it religiously.

About as quintessential as the Roman Empire was to the Greek’s Hellenization.

It shouldn’t be surprising that we have a Senate and the Romans had a Senate, nor should it be using that the Romans had a lower house and we have a lower house. It should not be surprising that the Romans believed in choosing wise leaders, and that direct democracy was flawed and ineffective. Our Marine Corps is modeled after the expeditionary nature of the Roman Legions. Our character virtues and values lie with Roman gravitas and values. In light of this, what blueprints are needed?

Lesson one in the Roman handbook for imperial success would be a realisation that it is not enough to have great military strength: the rest of the world must know that strength – and fear it too. The Romans used the propaganda technique of their time – gladiatorial games in the Colosseum – to show the world how hard they were. Today 24-hour news coverage of US military operations – including video footage of smart bombs scoring direct hits – or Hollywood shoot-’em-ups at the multiplex serve the same function. Both tell the world: this empire is too tough to beat.

That shows an ignorance of Roman culture that is simply appaling. Roman Propaganda was stringing up rebellious slaves on the Via Appia, all crucifixed, alive, and squirming.

The Colosseum was Roman “entertainment”.

The Colosseum itself was meant to impress and awe anyone who saw it, regardless of what occured in it. All Roman Architecture was designed with this idea in mind.

“too tough to beat”? Wrong. That’ll happen when we drop 10 nukes in succession on cities that won’t cooperate with us. That hasn’t happened yet.

The Romans liked to kill their enemies slowly, with a lot of people watching. I’d think a nuclear bomb with its attendant radiation would serve the same gruesome purpose of crucification… making an example out of some, so that others won’t be stupid enough to make the same mistake.

The US has learned a second lesson from Rome, realising the centrality of technology. For the Romans, it was those famously straight roads, enabling the empire to move troops or supplies at awesome speeds – rates that would not be surpassed for well over a thousand years. It was a perfect example of how one imperial strength tends to feed another: an innovation in engineering, originally designed for military use, went on to boost Rome commercially. Today those highways find their counterpart in the information superhighway: the internet also began as a military tool, devised by the US defence department, and now stands at the heart of American commerce. In the process, it is making English the Latin of its day – a language spoken across the globe. The US is proving what the Romans already knew: that once an empire is a world leader in one sphere, it soon dominates in every other.

Rome wasn’t even a sea power till they stole their designs from Carthage in the First Punic Wars. It is more like, Rome knew that if you wanted to survive, you had better get a balanced armed forces.

The highway we use to send troops and goods is definitely not the informational superhighway. This guy needs to stop being lazy and just collating things that sound alike and comparing them as if they are similar. We use air travel, our highways are in the air. We airlift battalions and brigades to Iraq. We ship things by sea primarily the bulky things.

So we have two highways. The seas, which we control, and the air, which we control. No longer do we have horse cavalry, now we have air cavalry. Make sense?

But it is not just specific tips that the US seems to have picked up from its ancient forebears. Rather, it is the fundamental approach to empire that echoes so loudly. Rome understood that, if it is to last, a world power needs to practise both hard imperialism, the business of winning wars and invading lands, and soft imperialism, the cultural and political tricks that work not to win power but to keep it.

Hard power and soft power has been exercised since the beginning of the city-state, there’s nothing imperialistic about the US doing it.

So Rome’s greatest conquests came not at the end of a spear, but through its power to seduce conquered peoples. As Tacitus observed in Britain, the natives seemed to like togas, baths and central heating – never realising that these were the symbols of their “enslavement”. Today the US offers the people of the world a similarly coherent cultural package, a cluster of goodies that remain reassuringly uniform wherever you are. It’s not togas or gladiatorial games today, but Starbucks, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Disney, all paid for in the contemporary equivalent of Roman coinage, the global hard currency of the 21st century: the dollar.

If youre culture is stronger and better than another’s, then indeed you don’t need to force anyone to convert to your lifestyle. They will already have done it of their own free will. A lot of people have problems with this, like anti-Americans, but those people just are envious and stupid.

When the process works, you don’t even have to resort to direct force; it is possible to rule by remote control, using friendly client states. This is a favourite technique for the contemporary US – no need for colonies when you have the Shah in Iran or Pinochet in Chile to do the job for you – but the Romans got there first. They ruled by proxy whenever they could. We, of all people, should know: one of the most loyal of client kings ruled right here, in the southern England of the first century AD.

Funny how he doesn’t mention South Korea, Japan, Germany, or Britain. Those must not count.

Or maybe our influence over Japan isn’t that of a “client state” to a master state, but an equal to an equal. That sure tarnishes his “imperial” model.

You’d be surprised how many proxies you acquire and how many wars you fight by proxy when a nuclear holocaust is hanging over your head between two superpowers.

His name was Togidubnus and you can still visit the grand palace that was his at Fishbourne in Sussex. The mosaic floors, in remarkable condition, are reminders of the cool palatial quarters where guests would have gathered for preprandial drinks or a perhaps an audience with the king. Historians now believe that Togidubnus was a high-born Briton educated in Rome, brought back to Fishbourne and installed as a pro-Roman puppet. Just as Washington’s elite private schools are full of the “pro-western” Arab kings, South American presidents or African leaders of the future, so Rome took in the heirs of the conquered nations’ top families, preparing them for lives as rulers in Rome’s interest.

Or they may be here because we offer the best education, and the least bureacratic red-tape to acquiring one. The hijackers who learned at flight school and martial arts school definitely weren’t “pro-western” all right.

And Togidubnus did not let his masters down. When Boudicca led her uprising against the Roman occupation in AD60, she made great advances in Colchester, St Albans and London – but not Sussex. Historians now believe that was because Togidubnus kept the native Britons under him in line. Just as Hosni Mubarak and Pervez Musharraf have kept the lid on anti-American feeling in Egypt and Pakistan, Togidubnus did the same job for Rome nearly two millennia ago.

The situation is not entirely analogous. Britania needed Imperial revenue, the money that the occupying Legions were bringing in (that sound familiar, it should). Anyone stupid enough to rebel against Rome, even if successful, was killing their own nation. Pretty stupid and power hungry, that is for sure.

Not that it always worked. Rebellions against the empire were a permanent fixture, with barbarians constantly pressing at the borders. Some accounts suggest that the rebels were not always fundamentally anti-Roman; they merely wanted to share in the privileges and affluence of Roman life. If that has a familiar ring, consider this: several of the enemies who rose up against Rome are thought to have been men previously nurtured by the empire to serve as pliant allies. Need one mention former US protege Saddam Hussein or one-time CIA trainee Osama bin Laden?

Something tells me that “sharing” wasn’t what they had on their minds.

For every Hussein and Laden, there is a hundred Northern Alliance Leaders, and a thousand pro-America Kurds. I have to wonder why their names are not as publicized or as popular as Bin Laden, they certainly outnumber Bin Laden.

Rome even had its own 9/11 moment. In the 80s BC, Hellenistic king Mithridates called on his followers to kill all Roman citizens in their midst, naming a specific day for the slaughter. They heeded the call – and killed 80,000 Romans in local communities across Greece. “The Romans were incredibly shocked by this,” says ancient historian Jeremy Paterson of Newcastle University. “It’s a little bit like the statements in so many of the American newspapers since September 11: ‘Why are we hated so much?’ “

I think the Romans were thinking, “When do we get to see them crucified and who do we send that is Roman enough to do it well?”

If you think that is a little bit like the American newspapers, then I have no regrets informing you that I disagree.

Internally, too, today’s United States would strike many Romans as familiar terrain. America’s mythologising of its past – its casting of founding fathers Washington and Jefferson as heroic titans, its folk-tale rendering of the Boston Tea Party and the war of independence – is very Roman. That empire, too, felt the need to create a mythic past, starred with heroes. For them it was Aeneas and the founding of Rome, but the urge was the same: to show that the great nation was no accident, but the fruit of manifest destiny.

And America shares Rome’s conviction that it is on a mission sanctioned from on high. Augustus declared himself the son of a god, raising a statue to his adoptive father Julius Caesar on a podium alongside Mars and Venus. The US dollar bill bears the words “In God we trust” and US politicians always like to end their speeches with “God bless America.”

I have trouble believing that Romulus who murdered his brother Remus, is analogous to George Washington to led his troops through freezing rivers and slept as his men did, ate as his men did.

It is also hard to believe that Romulus ascended to godhood, while the God of the Americans is a natural god that is not involved in human affairs, murder or not, and that this is somehow an “analogy”.

It certainly was Rome’s manifest destiny. To murder one’s brother, to committ civil war, to elevate oneself to Godhood. You certainly saw a lot of that after 50 A.D.

You also saw a lot of sacrifice, honor, duty, and courage on the part of the Americans, in fighting against slavery, fascism, and communism. Now terrorism.

Analogous to how not to use analogies perhaps.

Even that most modern American trait, its ethnic diversity, would make the Romans feel comfortable. Their society was remarkably diverse, taking in people from all over the world – and even promising new immigrants the chance to rise to the very top (so long as they were from the right families). While America is yet to have a non-white president, Rome boasted an emperor from north Africa, Septimius Severus. According to classicist Emma Dench, Rome had its own version of America’s “hyphenated” identities. Like the Italian-Americans or Irish-Americans of today, Rome’s citizens were allowed a “cognomen” – an extra name to convey their Greek-Roman or British-Roman heritage: Tiberius Claudius Togidubnus.

There are some large differences between the two empires, of course – starting with self-image. Romans revelled in their status as masters of the known world, but few Americans would be as ready to brag of their own imperialism. Indeed, most would deny it. But that may come down to the US’s founding myth. For America was established as a rebellion against empire, in the name of freedom and self-government. Raised to see themselves as a rebel nation and plucky underdog, they can’t quite accept their current role as master.

It is true that Americans dislike being thought of as masters, while the Romans glorified in it. But that shows you how stupid the Romans were. Glory is in deeds, not in words or riches.

One last factor scares Americans from making a parallel between themselves and Rome: that empire declined and fell. The historians say this happens to all empires; they are dynamic entities that follow a common path, from beginning to middle to end.

Like I said, Rome’s role model was Romulus who murdered his brother Remus, and then asceded to Godhood. America’s model is George Washington, a military man and a patriot, who fought side by side with his men under the same conditions.

America isn’t afraid of falling. We’re afraid the rest of you idiotic children in the stinking world will try and knock over America and ruin our day. 9/11 is definitely proof of that.

“What America will need to consider in the next 10 or 15 years,” says Cambridge classicist Christopher Kelly, “is what is the optimum size for a nonterritorial empire, how interventionist will it be outside its borders, what degree of control will it wish to exercise, how directly, how much through local elites? These were all questions which pressed upon the Roman empire.”

Anti-Americans like to believe that an operation in Iraq might be proof that the US is succumbing to the temptation that ate away at Rome: overstretch. But it’s just as possible that the US is merely moving into what was the second phase of Rome’s imperial history, when it grew frustrated with indirect rule through allies and decided to do the job itself. Which is it? Is the US at the end of its imperial journey, or on the brink of its most ambitious voyage? Only the historians of the future can tell us that.

· Rome: The Model Empire, presented by Jonathan Freedland, is on Channel 4 on Saturday at 6.50pm.

It doesn’t take an anti-American to misunderstand what is American. Though I give some credit to Freedland for making some coherent connections between the Roman Empire and the American Republic/Imperium. Tenuous perhaps, inaccurate and biased, but it was a start.

The German Political Reformation?

September 15, 2005

Personalities count in German politics, but parties win elections. Polls show Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, or CDU, has slipped in recent days but still has the backing of 40.5% of the public compared with 34.5% for the Social Democrats. Despite many undecided voters, analysts say the gap will be tough to close — even for Schroeder, who orchestrated a dramatic come-from-behind surge against the conservatives to win reelection in 2002.
A lot of Americans would wonder, if the CDU has the majority of votes, why is the PM part of the minority party? And the answer is simple as it is depressing. In a multi-party parliamentary system, the extremes are pleased and catered to, not the middle ground. Therefore parties like the SDP (Social Democratic Party) can lean far left, join up with the Greens for 9% of the vote (9 fucking percent, they could be the damn neo-nazis for god sakes and they can get a majority), and win over the CDU. Dictatorship of the majority, where numbers count for everything, and where “moderation” gets screwed in the process. As I said, depressing. But if the Germans can overcome this and elect the CDU to be the PM, then all would be forgiven. But until then, the Germans are weak and undeserving of American aid, economic or military.

I actually saw an interview of this woman leader of the CDU on C-Span. Pretty articulate, answered a lot of questions, gave me some hope Germany wasn’t the decadent piece of crap it currently looks like. Germans had a lot going for them, until they made the mistake of fighting the US not once but twice… Three times… jeez, will they never learn. People who fight the US and LOSE, but keep on fighting, ain’t never going to get strong and powerful. Look at the Japanese, they lost once, and now they are powerful and great because now they know who the hell they shouldn’t mess with, so they conserve their energies for productive work (like beating the shit out of North Korea and China if necessary).

Over There Republican Propaganda

September 14, 2005


Over There=Propaganda=Doubleplusgood

It’s gotten 5 thumbs downs, in a row, from MilBloggers and general Right of Center folks.

It’s a shame, considering how well it propagandizes he war, as the war is going on, in a situation where you have the Republican Administration doing jack shit on the PR front, the Republican Party too busy with freaking judicial nominees to come up with any unified message concerning the WoT, the god damn Army giving reporters stupified CRAP that the media machine then turns into daily bodycount and other freakish shit they put out on the air to propagandize the American people into dissing the war, and last but not least in an environment where the experts in camera manipulation, story board creation, and dialogue mesmerization are all lumped on the Left waiting to be unleashed to attack America, the military, and whatever fruitty cause they cooked up next.

In such a pocked up world as that, you better pray to God that FX’s installment of Over There keeps going like the energizer bunny. Because there sure as hell won’t be any other propaganda aiding the Republicans in the future. Cause there sure as hell ain’t any NOW, that’s for sure.

You have the entire MSM on the Left trying to take down the war effort and AMerica in general. Then you have the Army PR folks that give these hotel journalists body counts and shit like that, so that journalists don’t have to go out and get the real story. Then the journalists conveniently make the audience assume every single pocking thing they report is original and not from the press releases of the freaking army that they ANNOYING tell us they are watching for the American people. Utter Bullshit.

I wouldn’t feel good sleeping at night if the Army was iffing good at propaganda and manipulation, but it doesn’t mean that I’m pleased by the utter incompetency and stupidity of the Army in NOT GETTING ONE INCH of returns for giving the media journalists information so they don’t have to risk their well conditioned tans out in the real world.

So that’s basically the situation as is, when Over There on FX came out. THe Army was helping the media screw America over. The Media was helping the terroists screw us over. The AP was helping our media screw us over. The Republicans had their heads up their asses ignoring this while it was happening cause they didn’t know what to do or how to do it or who to manipulate/blackmail/threaten/shutdown.

Now, for the sheer propaganda glory that is Over There, witness here my testimony and review. I actually watched whole episodes, instead of “channel surfing” around like most other commentators. That is because I didn’t see it on tv, I downloaded it off BitTorrent. You’d think most of these bloggers would’ve found out that you could download these tv episodes instead of staying up till midnight to see them… must be old folks.

Okay, first episode was pretty much what most people made it out to be. Just remove all the negative conclusions they made up out of their asses and I’d be in agreement. Here’s the propaganda effect.

Al-Jazeera is portrayed as an enemy corroborator, and seen as the root cause of much of our hero’s misfortune. We are intellectually and morally and emotionally turned against him, both by his manner, by real world events, by personal biases and prejudices, and by the subtle propaganda due to the emotional connections formed between the soldiers on Over There and the audience. Score 1 for Over There.

Second point scored is when one soldier says that they are sending the terroist to Abu Ghraib because he violated the agreement to surrender. He said that he got a lot of his men killed because he chose to fight instead of honoring his surrender agreement. This shows the inhumane side of terroists, how all terroists want to die and go to Allah, and reminds everyone that terroists don’t give a damn how we treat them so long as we kill them and they get to go to heaven. This reminds people of Abu Ghraib and how a lot of terroists acted like they felt sympathy for the prisoners. If the audience thinks longer and harder, they will realize that terroists just wanted us to execute their men and get it over with, otherwise they would have to spring them and have them die in battle to get to heaven. Again, the propaganda seethes in subtly, and it takes a lot of active thinking to ponder our the logical conclusions of the propaganda suggestions.

Second episode I didn’t watch, so I skip that.

Third episode was pretty good. It showed an unarmed man captured, and taken to a remote village to be interrogated.

The Army Intel guy, a Colonel (Unrealistic, but doesn’t really matter since most of the audience doens’t know jack about rank structures), is in charge of the interrogation. A LOT OF PROPAGANDA scores for Over There in episode 3.

First, Over There scores by showing that the most we could do to a prisoner is to have him bend his knees and assume a “stress” position, to which he could simply refuse to do and we couldn’t make him. Wow, ain’t that the picture of American war crimes.

Second, another propaganda score is awarded when the terroist feigns that he has collapsed from exhaustion and a worried soldier goes over to check over him, and then promptly gets attacked and jumped on. Nice, a visual of terroists taking advantage of poor naive American boys that just wanted to make friends.

This stuff is propaganda guys, it isn’t supposed to be accurate or real. What it has to be is the TRUTH. And it is TRUE that terroists take advantage of American naivety and our following gentlemanlike conduct, i.e. Fallujah. If you don’t know how to make good propaganda, then I suggest you sit down and shut up about accuracy and inaccuracies and unreal crap.

Propaganda is supposed to help our side, not help the enemy side understand how we operate. As such, most of the scenarios must be faked, whether they intended it to be this way or not, and the tactics/strategy SOP must also be faked and made up. Fiction Version in the extreme.

To truly educate the American public, we would have to show them the truth, but in so doing we also show our enemy, and then we’re screwed because the American public won’t be able to make use of that information to help our armed forces while the terroists WILL use it to hurt us.

They can’t handle the truth truth, so we give them a sanitized pre-approved propaganda truth. Just as good as the real thing, so long as they understand it is fiction and not real. If the America public had known the true costs of WWII instead of the an intellectual’s intellectual take on things, it would have been a lot different.

Then there is the absolutely wonderful final interrogation and the breaking of the suspect, where the tough as nails Colonel (who looks like a god damned “idealized” 18 Bravo for Jesus sakes) tells the subject that if he doesn’t tell us where the Stinger missiles are at, then he will give his 15 year old sister to the Pakistanis. And since the Pakistanis don’t operate by American rules, but by the rules of Islam, his sister will be beaten to an inch of her life, and raped until she turns black and she is too sick to touch.

Here you have a sobbing terroist fuck, the greatly heralded pocking FREEDOM FIGHTERS and fearless Jihadists, fighting for Sharia law in which will be the fate of millions of women, and he can’t stand to have his own sister be treated to the rules that he fights for… Freedom for me, but not for you I guess. Pathetic, he might not fear death, but we can sure as hell make him fear life.

This all came after a nice psychological exchange between the Intel Colonel and the Intellectual Soldier. In which the Intel guy told him that in order to break the subject, he had to make him believe that the Colonel was desperate enough to do what he said he would do.

In the end, the American audience is left feeling a bit shocked, awed, and a bit apprehensive at interrogations in war. And then they realize that torture, the application of physical pain, is only worse in degree from the kind of treatment that subject was given under the Colonel. Then they realize that none of what the Colonel said would happen, would actually have happened, but he had to act as if he had the will to do so, to avoid carrying out his threats. A paradox the audiencei s confronted with. They automatically search for a reason, and the closest reason they have, the closest truth they cna acquire, is that of American exceptionalism. The belief that we do not need torture because we are so very good at mentally breaking down a subject. It is a different belief than the belief that we are hamstringed by our own rules to the detriment of us and the advantage of the terroists, this is the FIRST time they have seen American mental jujitsu at work. It is a reason to hope, it is a reason to believe we will win. And that is the one thing the American public needs most now. Point 1, for Over There.

The ending was bad, stupid even. Score 1 for Hollywood.

Episode 4=Boring as hell. A lot of backstory about the cheating wife, the neglected kid, and etc.

Episode 5= This is the shit man. Imbedded Reporter Time. AMERICAN ATROCITIES REVEALED, and then shockingly, we understand that in war a pocking camera may focus on the American soldier shooting and the women/children falling, but it tends to miss out on the fact that the kid was throwing shit in a god damned firefight and that there was a pocking enemy with a RPK behind the woman and child shooting off god knows where with his pray and shoot shit.

Propaganda teaching people how to recognize propaganda… Uber Cool. Score 2pts for Over There.

Then we see the reporter trying to talk to the village sheik/terroist whatever the pock he is, trying to explain how it was all a setup, that there was a camera in the village ready to film “American atrocities” and crap like someone told the child to run into the line of fire so the mother will try to get him and get shot. Guess what happens? Village Sheik already knows… Score 1 for Over There Propaganda for anti-terroist.

99% of the technical stuff, aside from weapons/vehicles/uniforms are fake as hell. Thank God, time we got away from Imbedded Reporters reporting on our shit and crap to the enemy so they can tape it and show it in their training camps about how they are using the Satan’s evil against it… Oh, wait, didn’t that already happen in Episode 5? Bah.

Episode 6

This is a killathon all right. We get to see lots of terroist scumbags eating dirt facedown in the gutter. A nice emotional release for the audience after seeing so much shit happen where our soldiers are attacked and we never do the attacking it seemed.


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