22 Apr
2013

Boston Marathon Bombing: Final Thoughts

Final thoughts on the Boston Marathon bombing? What? Am I Jerry Springer? These are most likely my final thoughts on it.

boston marathon bombing

Lots of people on Reddit and Twitter decided that they’d get their Sherlock Holmes on and do everything that they could to help the federal authorities locate the suspects. This was a crowd sourced manhunt. I remember the photos of the suspects all over the front page of Reddit almost instantly after photographs of the suspects were made public. It was definitely a 21st century hue and cry thing going on. There are very few actual detectives on Reddit or Twitter and a missing Indian American student was misidentified as one of the bombers. I’m not sure if the problem is social media or if the media is just too quick to grab information from social media and put it out there in order to be the first to break a story. The news media has millions of unpaid, eager news hounds at their disposal feeding them all sorts of information in the wake of any big event. What happened here should teach them to be more careful vetting information from social media. It should probably teach us all to be more careful. There are stories that highlight the good that internet vigilantism can do. The work that Anonymous did in the Steubenville rape case comes to mind but it can be a dangerous thing. What if people do find someone misidentified as a suspect in a crime by social media and then beat the tar out of them? That’s a scenario where I could imagine some people in Washington getting together and penning some sort of legislation that no one would like. Take a little skepticism with you.

I’m glad that more people were not killed in the Boston Marathon bombings. I’m thankful it was not a dirty bomb or a biological attack or anything that would’ve led to cries of, “Remember Boston!” as this country again went rampaging through the world. I’m hoping that there will be no evidence that this was state sponsored in any way. I’d hate to see even a drone strike somewhere. Every savage act of violence contains the catalyst for the next one. Just prosecute and move on. Hopefully, the Boston Marathon bombings will not bring out the mostly dormant strains of Islamophobia in this country. You wouldn’t like America when she gets xenophobic.

boston marathon bombing

Glenn Beck seems to be drifting more and more into Alex Jones territory ever since he left Fox. He isn’t quite into Agenda 21/FEMA camp territory yet but he keeps getting closer and closer. Apparently, Beck has information that the government is covering up about the Saudi national that was questioned and then released after the Boston Marathon bombings. He is threatening to release the information that was leaked to him by “patriots” in unnamed government agencies. All he’s really said is that he knows who the Saudi national was and that he’s a “very bad, bad, bad man.” I’m reserving judgment. I really am but this is Glenn Beck. I guess we know what happened if Glenn Beck turns up dead of an apparent suicide.

boston marathon bombings

 

I’m probably going to hear from some people who know me in real life over this last one. This could get me condemned as a bad American. It could even get me de-friended on Facebook. It has to do with guns. I’m not against private firearms ownership. If I were ever to support a complete disarming of America, the disarming would include the police and military as well. I don’t care very much if you own a firearm. I don’t care if you have an assault rifle. I do believe that people believe far too much in their guns. People don’t have realistic views of how much protection their guns give them. Sure, sometimes the only thing that does stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas used the occasion of the lock down of Boston to opine about gun control. He said. “What hit me this morning when I heard the residents there around Boston and in the area where they thought someone might be were ordered to stay in their homes, businesses were ordered closed, public transportation was ordered closed. Let me ask you, if you’re sitting in your home and you know there are only two possibilities for people coming, one is law enforcement and the other is somebody who has already killed Americans and continues to do so, how many rounds do you want to be limited to in your magazine as you sit in your chair and wait?” Well, something hits me too about the events last week. No good guy with a privately owned firearm was able to do anything against a bad guy with an IED. Dzohokhar Tsarnaev wasn’t taken down by a brave citizen and the gun he keeps for just such an occasion. Maybe it’s just the loudest voices in the pro-gun crowd that I’m responding to but I really hope more gun owners have a more realistic view of the security that their firearms provide them.

Those are my final thoughts on the Boston Marathon bombing saga. Peace to you. Let’s all have a week filled with much less blood.

Share Button
19 Apr
2013

Stupid Facebook Anti-Gun Control Picture

gunblame

 

I came across this on Facebook. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-gun. I guess you might say i’m agnostic on gun control though I think there is much stupidity that comes from the pro-gun camp.

What the hell is this? I don’t think anyone really blames an object.

We shouldn’t blame the gun though. We might hurt its feelings.

Share Button
19 Apr
2013

Conspiracy Theories: The Tropes

conspirach theories

The paranoids of the internet are once again constructing their odd narratives out of disparate facts. The internet conspiracy theories circuit has been especially busy with the recent Boston Marathon bombings and the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. This is an attempt to identify and discuss some tropes or devices that I frequently see in the conspiracy theories that I’ve seen formulated in my lifetime. These stories tend to be so formulaic that I sometimes wonder if there is some sort of style guide floating around that I haven’t seen that conspiracy theorists are using to come up with their claims.

Early media reports and eyewitness reports are seized upon

Information flows chaotically during a big event like a terrorist attack or a natural disaster. News organizations get bombarded by social media and eyewitness reports and information is reported as quickly as possible in an attempt to get the important details of a story out there before competing media outlets do. This means that incorrect information goes out to the public. When erroneous reports are corrected, conspiracy theorists point to initial media and eyewitness reports as evidence that a cover-up is going on, that there is a more to a story, that the whole event was a hoax and other interesting conclusions.

Notable examples of this trope

There were multiple eyewitness reports of more than 2 attackers at the Columbine High School massacre of 1999 despite the conclusion of the official investigation that there were only 2 perpetrators. The reports of more than 2 gunmen being involved in the massacre is still used over a decade after the event to bolster claims of a cover-up with no regard to problems with the reliability of memory and eyewitness testimony.

On 9/11 the BBC reported the collapse of World Trade Center building 7 before the collapse actually occurred. This incident is cited as evidence that the BBC knew that WTC7 was rigged to go down by controlled demolition and reported it before they were supposed to. You’d think that the media run by TPTB (The Powers That Be) that are powerful enough to crash the economy whenever they want to would be more competent in their manipulation of the media. I have to wonder who they beheaded over this blunder or who got kicked out of the Illuminati.

Coincidental drills

The military, police, fire department and every other arm of the government run drills to be prepared for various occurrences. This is a fact of life. There is probably a drill of some sort running right now. Drills for terrorist attacks or natural disasters coinciding with actual terrorist attacks or natural disasters is a common component of conspiracy theories in recent years. They are cited as evidence that the event is not what it seems or that the government has staged the incident.

Notable examples of this trope

Peter Power, a British crisis management specialist was running a simulation with his company Visor Consultants on the morning of the 7/7 bombings in London back in 2005. The scenario for the simulation was simultaneous bombs going off on commuter trains as occurred that morning. Forget that his company probably ran many of those drills that didn’t happen to coincide with an actual terrorist attack and that having a drill the same day as you intend to perpetrate a false flag terror attack makes little sense then things look pretty suspicious.

Military drills on the morning of September 11th 2001 play a prominent role in conspiracy theories surrounding the event. I dare you to try and find information about drills that took place or were supposed to take place on 9/11 that do not make reference to conspiracy theories. When people talk about research these days, they often mean lots of Google searches and a Google search about military drills on 9/11 will bring up thousands of pages of conspiracy theorizing and the pages that do cite sources for their conclusions often cite other conspiracy theorists. The alien archaeologists who find the remains of our civilization one day are going to think we’re insane.

Events are predicted in popular entertainment

Horrific events these days prompt those soaked in the paranoid style to look really closely at TV shows and movies for subtle or not so subtle hints that the event was coming. The criminal elite that pull the strings from behind the curtain want to psychologically prepare the public for something so that they more easily accept what has happened.. or something. This is usually described using the term “predictive programming.” Some conspiracy theories have a magical element to them since the people running the conspiracy (Government leaders, media executives, CEOs) are apparently big into the occult and worshiping Satan. Yeah. Not kidding.

Notable examples of this trope

conspiracy theories

The Dark Knight Rises shows a map in one scene where a section of Gotham City is labeled as Sandy Hook. This is said to be predictive programming for the later Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that took place in December of 2012. Of course, there are other locations in the real world named Sandy Hook. Why does it have to be a reference to the Sandy Hook Elementary School where the massacre took place? What would be the result if TPTB (The Powers That Be) hadn’t used The Dark Knight Rises to predicatively program if that’s what they did?

An episode of Family Guy supposedly predicted the Boston Marathon bombing. Apparently two unrelated clips from the same episode were edited together and put on YouTube. Peter Griffin is asked how he won the Boston Marathon by Bob Costas and then it cuts to a scene of him in a bar dialing a number on a cell phone followed by the sounds of explosions and screams. What does it mean? Probably nothing. Fiction has to borrow from real life so doesn’t it stand to reason that there is going to be some occasionally eery overlap?

What can we learn from this?

conspiracy theories

If you’re already a true believer in popular conspiracy theories then it’s hard to get through to you. However, those of us who have not ventured down the rabbit hole can take away something valuable by calmly looking at the reasoning of those who have ventured down that hole. A lot of this comes down to pattern recognition and confirmation bias. We look for patterns. That’s what our brain does. Conspiracy theorists have found a pattern that they like for whatever reason and they are interpreting all data according to their favorite pattern. If we look at our beliefs then we might find an irrational belief or two that we are maintaining in a similar fashion if not as dramatically. Conspiracy theories and the tropes that make many of them up can give us an excellent picture of a defective thought process and can help correct our own thinking.

Share Button
18 Apr
2013

Westboro Baptist Church: Stop Caring About ‘Em

The Westboro Baptist Church is threatening to picket the funerals of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombings this past April 15th. It’s familiar to all of us by now. We know to expect it yet there is so much we fail to understand about our wacky apocalyptic cult in Topeka. I’ve found myself thinking about it late at night and I’ve concluded that they are like a real life version of internet trolls. They do what internet trolls do on the internet in real life. They say things to get a reaction. The type of reaction doesn’t matter. It’s only that they get a reaction. The difference is no internet troll saying that Hitler was mostly right except in his choice of how to wear his mustache don’t claim some sort of divine mandate. However, what the Westboro Baptist Church does is really about the reaction. You can listen to Shirley Phelps-Roper say it if you don’t believe me.

The nature of the reaction they get is important too. People play right into their hands due to this country’s biblical illiteracy. Yes, I’ve just complained about America’s lack of biblical literacy despite not being a fundamentalist. It’s been a surreal week indeed. Throwing things at the Westboro Baptist Church, photoshopping Fred Phelps into gay porn, threatening them with physical violence, hacking their websites and other activities may feel good but all those things do is confirm for them that they are blessed. Read Matthew 5:10, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” You might say, “But Paul! They aren’t being persecuted because of righteousness! They are being persecuted because they are awful people!” Sure, but this is a common misunderstanding of the fundamentalist mindset. A fundamentalist is never persecuted because they are acting like a jackass. A fundamentalist is persecuted because they are doing what God commands them to do and that persecution is the ultimate validation for them.

3ty57i

westboro baptist church

Anonymous shouldn’t tell the Westboro Baptist Church to expect them. No one should take to Twitter and blow up Fred Phelp’s timeline with accusations that he’s in the closet. No one should throw any punches at any member of the Westboro Baptist Church. This isn’t a matter of not touching God’s anointed. It’s a matter of not giving them any validation at all. Don’t call them nasty names. Don’t talk about how they’re inhuman. Don’t talk about how their hyper-Calvinist theology is an abomination. Apathy. Refuse to care. Not reacting at all to the Westboro Baptist Church’s protests and declarations is infinitely worse than punching them, throwing things at them, hacking their website or any other type of mayhem your angry, vindictive mind might care to conjure up. C’mon. Is apathy really that hard? This is a church with about 40 members. America tends to be pretty damn good at apathy. America tends to ignore much bigger problems than a church with 40 members holding up crazy signs. How about ignoring them and focusing on more difficult problems that might require a bit more brain power to address? I suppose maybe that’s just not as fun.

Share Button
17 Apr
2013

Boston Marathon Bombing Conspiracy Theories Are Tragic

 

Boston Marathon bombing conspiracy theories practically formulated themselves. The theories started before the smoke cleared and before any self styled paranoid even had the time to find this story’s equivalent of the grassy knoll. Things were downright surreal when Dan Bidondi of Alex Jones’ Infowars website asked Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick at a news conference if the bombings had been staged by the government as a pretext to strip people of their civil liberties. Jesus man. Did he think the governor would say, “Yes! And we would’ve gotten away with it if it weren’t for you pesky kids!”? I tend to think conspiracy theories really declined in quality after 9/11. 9/11 ruined them. Ever since 9/11, every horrific event that ever occurs is declared to be a false flag. Everything is a false flag. There is no variety in paranoid conspiracy narratives anymore. The Boston Marathon bombing conspiracy theories being formulated add to the human tragedy that’s already occurred.

It isn’t just that they’re disrespectful, pernicious and stupid. They are all those things. The pursuit of such theories is a terrible waste of time. I’ve had the experience of running into someone I haven’t seen in a few years and when we get to talking, they tell me they’ve gotten more political over the years. “Political” meant that they’d realized the Federal Reserve creates money out of thin air, fluoride is being put in the water to make the population easier to control and that 9/11 was an inside job. I was told I needed to wake up and see the signs of the times and start to get others to wake up as well. That’s a sad thing. It’s supremely sad when a person checks out of the complex, often ambiguous reality that we have and checks into a fantasy world. Why? It means that there is one less person doing anything productive to make a more just and humane world. Their brainpower becomes monopolized by reading every news story that comes out, every movie or television show with a conspiratorial imagination. They spend a great deal of time connecting dots that can’t possibly connect. All the time that could be spent taking meaningful action is spent chasing ghosts. I’d really hate to see the latest Boston Marathon bombing conspiracy theories send too many people down the rabbit hole after the Illuminati, the New World Order, the Jesuits, The Knights Templar or whoever the bad guy is made out to be. People think they are being subversive and fighting the power and that’s ironic as all hell.

boston marathon bombing conspiracy theories

Theories like the current crop of Boston Marathon bombing conspiracy theories are no threat at all to any power or any injustice. In fact, they may do a helluva lot to help the establishment. If you’re blogging about how the Boston Marathon bombing was actually some sort of occult sacrifice then you aren’t asking tough questions of your elected officials. You aren’t reading and you aren’t asking questions about the structure of our society or the justice or injustice of our economic system or our foreign policy or dealing with anything that’s real and concrete. You’ve checked out. That’s a tragedy. We need as many people thinking and asking real questions as we can get. I’m an optimist. I believe in human progress. These Boston Marathon bombing conspiracy theories are like invisible pieces of shrapnel that hit potentially useful people and render them useless. The rabbit hole doesn’t go anywhere and I hope Boston Marathon bombing conspiracy theories don’t lead too many people down to start down it.

Share Button
16 Apr
2013

Boston Marathon Bombings: The Day After

boston marathon bombing

 

It’s been a day since the Boston Marathon bombings. No one knows who is responsible. I really, truly and as sincerely as I can hope that it’s just some loner who likes the idea of explosions. I really do hope that it’s just some lone nut and not a group of foreign nationals performing terrorist acts on behalf of Iran or North Korea. I hope it’s the only attack and not the beginning of some sort of campaign. I don’t want another war. I don’t want to watch the American military knock over another nation and occupy it for 10 years or so. I don’t want another outbreak of anti-terror paranoia. I don’t want to get forwarded e-mails about how you know someone who knows a guy whose cousin’s roommate got told to stay out of shopping malls on a certain date.

boston marathon bombings

I really do hope that it’s some lone nut with no real coherent political agenda. I hope it’s not a Tea Partier. I hope it’s not a leftist. I’d really hate to hear America play the “He’s On Your Team! No, He’s On Your Team!” game. I’d really hate to see some pathetic display where people scour the YouTube channel, Facebook profile, MySpace profile and porn collection of the alleged perpetrator of the Boston Marathon bombings to try and figure out with some sort of metaphysical certainty whether they were a Glenn Beck or a Rachel Maddow fan.

I really sincerely hope that the perpetrator of the Boston Marathon bombings has never prayed facing Mecca. This may get me accused of being some sort of spineless liberal who bends over backwards not to offend Islam but I don’t care much. I know it’s not true. The American character is complex and not always pretty and one of the least pretty parts about America is her xenophobia. I don’t want to see that come out.

Don’t disappoint me, Boston Marathon bombing suspect.

Share Button
15 Apr
2013

Boston Marathon Bombings: Early Thoughts

boston marathon

I’m writing this in the immediate wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. There’s plenty of talking. There’s plenty of typing. People know jack at this point but they’re still talking and they’re still typing. That would include me at this point. People are talking about terrorism. People are talking about guns. People are talking about who Team America will retaliate against for the atrocity at the Boston Marathon. Yeah. Reason looks to be having a bad day. I’m hoping that’s just the loudest voices. That’s probably what I am hearing at this point. It’s the loudest voices. Me? I hope there isn’t too much loss of life and I hope it all blows over. I’d hate to see a fresh wave of terror hysteria. America’s brain on terror isn’t good for America and it sure as hell isn’t good for the world.

I’m only 30 but it seems more and more I’ve seen and heard everything that could ever been be seen or heard in the wake of events like these. It doesn’t matter if it’s Sandy Hook or explosions at the Boston Marathon. People feel the need to pull out anti-violence platitudes. It’s horrible. Why can’t we just learn to love? I roll my eyes at platitudes like that but I’ll forgive the people speaking them. They’re doing a much better job than Alex Jones. Yeah. I had to go there. Alex Jones, the guy most famous for screaming about the second American revolution on CNN is already saying that the Boston Marathon explosion looks like a false flag terror attack. Did the government stage it to have an excuse to declare martial law? As a pretext to take your guns away so they can force you to eat GMOs? Alex seems to think so despite the fact that this event just occurred and the details are as sketchy as an Etch-A-Sketch portrait of the Boogie Man. Nobody knows anything. There are no suspects. He didn’t even take the time to look for a hidden message about the coming explosion that he may have missed in The Dark Knight Rises or in a Ke$ha video. Remember the jump to conclusions mat from Office Space? That was a bad idea and so is jumping to conclusions. Don’t jump to conclusions.

Events like this do make people jump to conclusions. They make people jump to conclusions about the world that we live in. It’s a sick old world we live in. It’s a world where any one of us might be some sort of evil sociopath. It’s a world where a good, wholesome event like the Boston Marathon could turn into a bloodbath at any second. You better buy a gun. No. We don’t live in a world that’s seething with evil. We live in a world that’s seething with potential. There are days where all the wrong kinds of madness run amok but we can never forget that that’s not every day. Don’t forget the good days and don’t ever forget all the good that happens on the days that are seemingly dominated by the bad. People resigning themselves to a world of evil, fear, and paranoia is to me as tragic as the loss of life.

 

 

Share Button
15 Apr
2013

Glenn Beck, Dirty Commies and a Bit of Skepticism

Glenn Beck

Hi. I’m Glenn. I’m a Mormon and I dig Ayn Rand. What’s your sign?

I saw a story making its rounds about the internet outrage circuit last week. It was on TheBlaze. TheBlaze is a website brought to us by Glenn Beck. Yeah. Glenn Beck. The guy who will one day write a children’s book entitled Mommy, There Are Communists Living Under My Bed. I knew I couldn’t dismiss something automatically just because it was put out by an entity controlled by a clownish, right wing entertainer like Glenn Beck. I read the story a couple times. I watched it come up in my Facebook newsfeed, I saw it get retweeted and then I just got confused. Everyone passing it around was pissed off. They were mad as hell and not taking it anymore. They had guns and they knew how to use them and they’d bought even more guns since Obama got re-elected and even more after the Sandy Hook massacre. They were mad. I didn’t understand how they got to anger. This story was supposed to anger me but the problem was I had very few facts from which to draw a conclusion. Those facts were that a sentence had been written in crayon and that sentence read, “I am willing to give up some of my constitutional rights in order to be safer and more secure” and that was about it. The implication was that children were being indoctrinated against the U.S. constitution. How in the hell do you get there from a sentence written in crayon? How do you know the children weren’t being asked to think about what that statement meant? Maybe it was an indoctrination campaign. I doubt it but you can’t jump to the conclusion there is some sort of anti-constitution brain washing campaign going on based upon a piece of paper with a sentence written on it in crayon that gets found in a kid’s backpack. My reaction to this story caused me to engage in a bit of self examination.

Why is it that it’s so hard to make me angry with this sort of stuff these days? There was a time where people like Glenn Beck could make me really angry with some story that supposedly illustrated our decline as a nation. Is it the fluoride in the water? Do I not have any passion or convictions any more? Have I become a degenerate who completely lacks any moral courage? No. It’s just become vitally important that things make sense. I’m not going to take part in some populist hue and cry just because it’ll feel good. If you want me to be outraged then the reasons for that outrage need to be able to stand up to tough questions. That goes for everything. The reasons for pretty much any thing you care to name had better stand up to tough questions and they’d better make sense to me or I will just sit on my ass. This means that preachers, politicians, conspiracy theorists, alternative health promoters and others will have a hard time selling me. Sometimes they’ll sell me but they are really going to have to work to do it. I’m still going to believe silly shit but I’ve decided that I’m going to try my damndest not to.

You should try your damndest not to believe silly shit either. I’m serious. It’ll make the world a better place. It’ll make you healthier. It’ll make you less afraid. I’m asking you to think just a little bit more. Do me a favor. Read Carl Sagan’s Baloney Detection Kit and keep it in mind the next time someone wants you to be mad, to be afraid, to spend money or whenever Glenn Beck says something or whenever the ghost of L. Ron Hubbard appears to you. Keep it in your proverbial back pocket. You never know when the ghost of L. Ron Hubbard will appear to you or when you might consider believing something Glenn Beck says.

Share Button
12 Apr
2013

Obama Gun Conspiracy Exposed

obama gun conspiracy

I’ve blown the lid off of the Obama gun conspiracy.

 

Share Button
12 Apr
2013

Patriotism and Optimism

patriotism

Optimism and patriotism has been an odd thing to me in the last decade or so. According to a poll from CNN/ORC International, 50% of Americans believe that things are going well in the country. This is the highest that optimism has been in six years.

I’ve had liberals and conservatives to the left and to the right of me both claiming to be patriotic. I recall during the Bush administration that there were many liberals I encountered who believed that America was over. They had completely lost their faith in their country because Bush had come to power and he was a stupid little monkey who had taken this country to war to avenge his father. I guess it was some real Game of Thrones type stuff. I remember scoffing at these liberals back in the day and thinking to myself that they truly hated America. They never believed in it in the first place. There is no way that they really had any real belief in their country in the first place. How could they say they ever really truly believed if one bad presidential administration could just shoot it all to hell just like that? What kind of patriotism is that?

patriotism

I now find myself in the surreal position of watching the people that I scoffed with lose their god damn minds. Obama’s healthcare bill passed and they said, “America. Rest in Peace. 1776-2009.” I’ve heard them talk about how many more guns and how much more ammo they’ve purchased since Obama’s election. America just isn’t the America that it used to be they tell me. America’s best days are behind it they tell me. What kind of patriotism is that? One bad administration is all it takes to destroy the country?

I know that I’ll see this repeated over and over again as long as I’m alive. I’ll point it out to the people involved and they’ll have no idea what it is that I’m talking about.

Share Button