December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Lets hope 2011 will be a better year, intellectually and spiritually wise.

Sketchzoid #23

December 29, 2010

Dude, Where's My Car? VII

A Belgian driver steered his expensive Alfa Romeo down the stairs of a bicycle garage and then got stuck. Tow truck got the car out. The driver blamed his navigation system for giving false directions. ;)

December 26, 2010


I made some comments on YouTube last week concerning a video Michael Moore uploaded and where he supports Julian Assange (from WikiLeaks) even going so far as donating money. Most comments on that video were positive but there were also a number of Moore detractors making themselves known. I decided to reply to some comments and rather quickly rubbed someone the wrong way. When I criticized the Bush administration for plunging the U.S. into an unjust war in Iraq I was branded a leftist (and a number of other things which I wont mention here).

Not an unfair accusation since I've often voted for the Dutch Labour Party, but if you have some degree of knowledge of Western European socialist parties you would know that these organizations aren't exactly communist or unsupportive of American policy. In fact, the Dutch and British Labour Parties supported the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, even sending the troops. Labour Parties in the aforementioned countries are still capitalists. Maybe that is something some Americans forget. While they have the workers rights high on the agenda - they wont interfere with business mechanics (that much).

What's more interesting to note is that blame is put on leftist politics like that is the cause of all the problems. I've seen this many times in my own country where left wing politicians are often blamed for failed policies. That's an outright falsehood since in the last 40 years in Holland there was always a right wing party who also sat in the government. That argument, blame the left, is blatantly false. In the U.S. the conservative Republican Party often ruled the country and from 2000 till 2008. How you can blame 'the left' for that era is beyond me.

Of course American politics differs from European. It might interest the reader to know that the Democrats in the U.S. are more right wing than the right wing party VVD here in Holland, but have you seen us in Holland dressing up in red and yell 'comrade?' With politics and parties you need a thorough understanding of what they actually stand for. The Nazis weren't socialists. Communist China aren't exactly communists, they are doing fine as an economy with their capitalistic approach. Even Cuba is taking China's approach. It's in the details and by their actions they show their true colors.

Which brings me back to the argument I had with an American who defended the Bush administration and was offended since by criticizing that administration I had also hurt the people that voted for it. Here's an excerpt of what he wrote to me;

The American people elected Bush twice so we must have liked him. Our Give is elected so when you slam Bush and the American Gov then it is perceived as slamming us as well. Plus it is well known that Americans are treated badly is some parts of Europe. One of our problems is that the newss you see coming from America has been decidedly partisan mostly to the left...but only 20% of Americans are far left types...which is most of what shows up on U Tube running off at the mouth. The vast majority of Americans don't think like them at all. On Iraq...the real reason for that war was to create a Democracy as an example in the Middle East and to drive a wedge between Iran and it's prozy armies in Lebanon.

There are a number of issues I could go into but I wont do that right now. The one I will address now is the (false) perception that 'left wing ideology' is somehow at fault here. Even news organizations are branded as partisan. Quite strange since from what I've seen real journalism and objective reporting has gone largely missing in American media. If I can be a bit straightforward and rude, I think the person I had a discussion with doesn't realize how fascist his thoughts have become. I think that person doesn't want his motives to be questioned nor does he wants to examine them and instead acts defensively.

Maybe we need to be careful where we put the blame and give it much more thought. Nowadays I'm not even a 'lefty' anymore. I've come to the realization that left and right wing policies actually don't differ that much in a democracy because it's all about the money and GDP's anyway. Money rules, not some political party. Lightbulb! See beyond superficial politics will you?

December 24, 2010

Winter Photographs

Winter is a great time to take pictures. Oddly enough over here in Holland the last 2 winters have been severe after a decade or so of mild ones. (Some folks are already talking about a mini ice age.) The shot above was taken in the early morning. After a week of cloudy weather the skies suddenly burst open. The sky turned blue and the air was vibrant. I hope the shot captured that essence.

Last week we had one or two days where the temperatures were just around freezing. If it's 1C or 0.5C snow melts but very slowly and can freeze up again quickly depending on conditions. Maybe the lightbulb in the lamp generated some heat as well. In any case conditions were perfect for creating 'ice stalactites.'

Thought this was an interesting shot. Although not clearly visible in the shot there's a rain pipe attached to the wall. What (I think) happens is that snow on the rooftop melts (maybe because of heat generated within the apartments) and trickles down the rain pipe which is probably also clogged up. Next the water travels down the branches of plants before freezing up again. Nature's art if you ask me.

December 23, 2010

Bank Run Stop - Politicians Make Me Pop

Some startling piece of legislation is in the works over here in Holland. Dutch ministers of the Finance and Justice departments, Opstelten and de Jager, are working on a new law that prohibits people from publicly calling for a 'bank run,' should they do so they can be fined (to a maximum of €19.000) or imprisoned (up to 4 years). The ministers argue that calling for a bank run can lead to situations that can't be controlled. The legislation is also aimed at public figures who have authority in the financial world. The main aim, according to the ministers, is to provide stability and a climate of trust for the banks.

Not strange in itself of course since a bank run equals bankruptcy, yet what is so woefully missing and what politicians conveniently leave out is why a bank is so vulnerable in the first place when a lot of people withdraw their cash. And the answer is very simple; they basically don't have that money. Banks are required to have 8% of their total amount of money in house, the rest is lend out. That means that when that amount of 8% is exceeded they are basically broke.

Most people know what the fallout of a bank run is. The money somehow simply evaporates, unless of course when the government steps in rescuing the bank with taxpayer money like we've seen a number of times during the credit crisis of 2008. What's even more startling is this; the banks didn't have the money to begin with because most of the banks credit is created out of thin air because of fractional reserve banking. Banks can create money out of nothing, they do lend money from central banks (at interest) but are free to create additional money should the need arise.

This is what really ticks me off. Banks have an enormous advantage, they create a great deal money from nothing, loan that money to costumers. The customer is hold fully accountable, no payments (on time) means loss of property. Here's a fair question in my opinion; does it work the other way around?
I don't think it does. Bank runs show that even the rumor of a financial institution failing will actually cause it to fail. How stable are banks really to begin with? What recent history has shown is that when banks fail the taxpayer gets the bill. Even in my own country, Holland, banks were bailed out with €35 billion in taxpayer money. Today it was abundantly clear once more that even our own politicians rather work with a bandaid and forbid people to use the word bank run in public instead of addressing the root causes of a bank's inherent instability, but seeing how many former politicians wind up as CEO's of banks I'm not that surprised.

December 17, 2010

Snow, Again

Unbelievable amount of snow fell today, especially for these parts. At least 10 centimeters fell but in some places it was double that. Public transport basically ceased to exist. Trains and busses stopped and the airports have massive delays. It does make a pretty sight and from the looks of it we'll have a white Christmas.


December 16, 2010

Free At Last

Julian Assange was finally released today. He's not off the hook but on bail, depending on an inquiry by the British justice department concerning his extradition to Sweden. That process could take months. In the meantime Assange is under house arrest although he doesn't have to stay indoors all the time. He's residing in a mansion made available by a sympathizer of WikiLeaks, a former officer of the British Army named Vaughan Smith.
Interesting to note is that Assange's bail was set at 240.000 pounds (€283.000). (Funny how the justice system can be paid off, but I digress.) One big contributor to this cause was none other than Michael Moore, the American filmmaker who donated $20.000 if I'm not mistaken. With the help of many supporters the bail was met, and touching upon another fine financial peculiarity, 200.000 pounds had to be paid in cash. (Bit reminiscent of the Dick Cheney/Halliburton Nigerian scandal where they were accused of bribing officials and settled paying a fine of a few hundred million dollars. Funny how money opens doors, but I digress again.) Good thing that Assange is out of prison.

Upper #2

Meet Aishwarya Rai, former Miss Universe and Queen of Bollywood. For some reason I keep staring at her picture that's on my desktop, so, thought it would be best to put her on my blog and let her slip into the database because I lose too much time.

Sketchzoid #22

December 14, 2010


Couple of days ago I watched the documentary film Restrepo on the National Geographic Channel, and it's quite an intense film. A platoon of soldiers from the U.S. Army are followed (with a camera) for a year in a remote part of Afghanistan called the Korengal Valley. They are basically surrounded by Taliban forces and firefights occur practically every day. Subsequently you find out that a number of the soldiers, who had previously been on camera, have died in combat.
That creates a shocking but true to life atmosphere within the film. From a human and psychological aspect it's also highly realistic to see how different people deal with the situations they find themselves in. Some are 'jarheads' and deal with it by cursing constantly while others show remarkable depths of character by handling the bad situations with maturity and compassion - way beyond what you would expect of guys of that age and who are trained to kill. All of them are hurting nonetheless. It shows in their eyes when they are interviewed after they return home from their deployment. A highly realistic film about the War in Afghanistan.

December 12, 2010

The Rat

Forgot something regarding WikiLeaks in my previous blog. There was an interesting leak regarding to what some of our (Dutch) politicians had been up to. On the left here is Maxime Verhagen, former Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Cabinet Balkenende IV. On 14 July 2009 Verhagen and then Prime Minister Balkenende (both belonging to the conservative Christian political party CDA) met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In the leaked the document the following is revealed;

Mr Verhagen alluded to comments made by Jan Peter Balkenende – the Dutch Prime Minister at the time – to President Barack Obama. Mr Balkenende apparently told Mr Obama that, while there was disagreement in the cabinet on the Dutch military mission in Afghanistan, he was convinced that the Netherlands would continue to have a presence there to carry on the ‘3-D’ approach – defence, diplomacy and development.

What's so strange about this you might ask? Well, the Dutch mission in Afghanistan was extended twice and the last time with the explicit condition that the troops would be withdrawn by 2010. The document reveals that Verhagen and Balkenende alluded to extending the mission even though there was a lot of opposition, including from the coalition partner PvdA (Dutch Labour Party) who was strongly opposed. It gets worse. The Dutch government fell over this issue. The Labour Party gave the cabinet a deadline to confirm it would withdraw all 1,600 Dutch soldiers no later than December 2010 and the CDA and the CU refused.

Let me put it in more simpler terms. Verhagen and Balkenende went back on their promise of taking the troops home and (vaguely) promised to extent the mission (in some capacity), also knowing that their coalition partner would be against such action. This clearly is a violation of previous agreements. When the government fell the CDA and especially Verhagen vehemently blamed the Labour Party. The document however, reveals that Verhagen was engaged in some backdoor diplomacy. When this news came out this week I discovered that Verhagen already had a nickname that was used by many people to describe him. "The Rat." To top it off, Verhagen is again a minister in the current Dutch cabinet. You can't make this stuff up.

December 11, 2010

Green Sonja

Take a look at this beauty. The pin up of the banking world from Austria, miss Sonja Kohn. Besides from being a banking pin up Ms. Kohn is sought for damages of $19.6 billion in a civil lawsuit regarding the Madoff Ponzi scheme. (It's tough these days being a banker.) Although she portrayed herself as being one of Madoff's biggest victims she's also accused of conspiring with Bernie for 23 years and funneling more than $9 billion. Uh oh. What is the world coming to when a banker can't do his or her business and raise a few bucks? You can read more about our worlds finest here. I'm sure she also did her bit for charity, mostly herself, of course.

Wikiwitchhunt 3

Well, it has been a fruitful WikiWeek. I rather enjoy the revelations that keep popping up from the leaked U.S. diplomatic cables. It has also become more clear what Assange himself is accused off and I must say that it enters a 'grey area.' He had sexual relationships with 2 women last summer and the bottom line is that both of them don't press rape charges against Assange but do insist he takes a HIV test. Swedish authorities are the ones who take it to another level. You can question Assange's morals about this matter of course. Dating two women at the same time is frowned upon by most. From what I've read is that with one partner a condom ruptured and the other claims that while asleep Assange tried to have unprotected sex with her. The latter is of course more serious. When the 2 ladies found out about each other, that was the moment they stepped to the police and insisted Assange do a STD test.

On a more lighter note, some revelations were revealing this week. Turns out the Vatican obstructed an investigation into child abuse by Catholic priests last year. Imagine that cesspool opening up, right? What I also found fascinating was a report on Saudi Arabia and the Royal House. One diplomat commented that behind the walls of private compounds and security forces, members of the Arabian royal family throw quite the parties. Liquor, cocaine and prostitutes can be found in abundance at such parties, according to the diplomatic messages. For the ordinary citizens of that country it's forbidden to even consume alcohol and punishments are severe. A bottle of vodka, which you can't buy in the shops, costs $300 on the black market. I always find it utterly amusing when people who make the rules - don't follow them themselves. It's the age old axiom, absolute power corrupts absolutely. I just love seeing hypocrites go down.

Lots of cyber attacks have gone down this week and some people are already speaking about a cyber war. Anonymous reared its head by attacking various websites who had cut off WikiLeaks. In my own country, Holland, a teenager was arrested in the Hague for such an offensive. It caused quite a stir since a lot people commented that the police should catch and arrest real criminals instead of teenagers behind a computer. (The low opinion of police in my country is also fueled by the notion that they are more preoccupied with writing tickets and generating money for the state then catching hardcore criminals.) What happened next is that state websites came under cyber attack in my country and were effectively shut down for a considerable time. It's fascinating to say the least. Assange has been taken to another, tighter prison facility, 'for his own safety' - of course.

December 7, 2010


It was snowing heavily last weekend so I decided to make a snowman, but then changed my mind a bit - seeing how the world has become so emancipated, so I decided to make a snowwoman. Sadly, Boobra, the name I gave for the snowdoll, didn't make it to the next day. A (temporary) thaw set in accompanied by strong winds. She was laying flat on her face when I opened the curtains. So sad.

December 4, 2010

Wikiwitchhunt 2

Several things have happened since my last blog on WikiLeaks and classified information being released to the general public. Julian Assange, director of WikiLeaks, upped the ante by stating that if he was arrested he would release the rest of the (diplomatic) information without any editing whatsoever. He supported this move by making a (large) encrypted file downloadable with all the raw data. A decryption key will be made available to the public if Assange were to be arrested. Quite the power play I might say. The file in question has been downloaded thousands of times already so I reckon Assange isn't bluffing here.

Amazon, host to the WikiLeaks main website, has decided to no longer keep them on their servers. Basically what they did is kick them out, maybe because of (political) pressure or corporate policy. This didn't stop the owners of WikiLeaks and they quickly established a website on a Swiss domain. The website on Amazon was also under continuous cyber attack. Paypal, a daughter company of Ebay, canceled the bank account of WikiLeaks because of "violation of policy", meaning that they are of the opinion that their former client was engaged in illegal activity. It just so happens that WikiLeaks is highly dependent on donations and needs around 200.000 dollars every year to keep the organization going. (Since the release of U.S. diplomatic cables last week they received about 15.000 euros in donations.)

It's pretty obvious the witch hunt is well underway and personally I think it's going to end in a shit storm. Professor Tom Flanagan, a political advisor to the Canadian prime minister, flat out said on television that Assange should be assassinated. Australian authorities are looking into revoking Assange's passport - if they proceed on this matter that would mean Assange can't travel borders without setting off alarm bells. All of this is of course beside the international arrest warrant that is already out. U.K. police stated that they are aware of Assange's whereabouts and are looking into the legality of Sweden's request.

It's painfully clear that an immense amount of pressure is put on Assange to give up and that WikiLeaks is obstructed in many ways. Secrecy is apparently paramount. Democracy, freedom and transparency? My ass. My guess is that pretty soon a decryption key will be released and that the whole world can see how politicians "serve" the interests of the people.

December 3, 2010

Cold Enough For Ya?

Check out this guy. He's a neighbor who lives down the street although I haven't really talked to him. A couple of days ago he stripped down to his swimming trunks and slippers and happily walked on the sidewalk. It was -5C with wind force 6, that means there was a windchill factor of -14C yet this guy endured it. First shot (above) he was walking his dog and the second shot (below) was taken some 20 minutes later when he decided to go shopping. Gotta give him credit for being a tough guy. I had my ski jacket on that day.

December 2, 2010


Here's an easy dish to make and it's sort of a traditional Dutch meal. It's called Hutspot (hotchpotch would be an approximation in the English language). You take 500 grams of potatoes, 250 grams of carrots and 250 grams of onions. (Enough for 2 people.) You boil the potatoes for 20-25 minutes, the carrots and onions for 15 minutes. I basically put it al together in a big pan because you're going to mash it together anyway. Spice it with salt, pepper and nutmeg and you're done. It's a hearty meal for in the winter time so with the meat you can use bacon or beef with gravy. I usually have sausage with this dish. One last thing, all the onions make it somewhat spicy so if a person has problems digesting that you can put less in the meal.

December 1, 2010

Is He Serious?

Take a load of this guy. Professor Tom Flanagan from the University of Calgary and conservative political activist, political advisor of the prime minister of Canada - Stephen Harper, calls for the assassination of WikiLeaks director Julian Assange. I'm not that convinced that Flanagan is kidding here and if he doesn't retract his statements I personally think a criminal case can be brought against him on the grounds of incitement to murder.


The recent release of U.S. (diplomatic) information on WikiLeaks caused quite a stir. The U.S. immediately went on the diplomatic offensive, warning friends (and sometimes foes) that classified information was about to be released and that some things weren't that pretty. The information contained mostly diplomatic email traffic and assessments of foreign leaders but I don't know if many people have realized this, the information itself is not top secret. It is rated below that. Most of the information is rated confidential and a small portion is labeled secret. Basically what this means is that the real juicy stuff hasn't been released yet.

The assessments of foreign leaders are quite hilarious actually, especially since embassy staff made those comments. Putin and Medvedev are described as Batman and Robin, Berlusconi is said to be vain and ineffective and "Teflon" Merkel is said to be risk avoiding and uncreative. Not very flattering such comments. What's more troublesome are other tidbits of information. King Abdullah suggested the U.S. should attack Iran and that Guantanamo detainees about to be released should be electronically chipped and put on surveillance. Then there's the directive by the U.S. State Department ordering diplomats to spy on UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon.

Now, I know that the act of releasing classified information itself is fiercely debated. Lots of government officials say that by releasing sensitive information people's lives are put at risk. This is not however an introspective way of looking at matters. Spying on foreign leaders and collecting classified information is already part of an 'action - reaction' situation. In other words, you make a move and you can bet the other party will make a move as well. Secrecy is an invitation for trouble. That's partly how I see it. While I don't want to see anyone getting killed, playing the spy game will already make that a possibility. I'm for releasing classified information. The primary reason for that is that it shows the truth. It shows how corrupt and calculating governments really are.

It's painfully obvious that patience with WikiLeaks has run out and that they have been targeted in many ways. An hour prior to the planned release of the initial documents there was a massive distributed denial-of-service attack on the websites servers, but that didn't stop the information already leaked out to newspapers. You can wonder who instigated the cyber attack in the first place. Julian Assange, the spokesperson and editor-in-chief for WikiLeaks, has an arrest warrant out in Sweden for suspicion of rape and sexual harassment. Interpol issued a 'red notice' against Assange, meaning they are looking for him and can arrest and extradite him. Which in itself is strange since Assange is formally wanted as a witness and for questioning, he's not officially charged yet.

I presume most people can see the witch hunt underway right now. Governments are going to clamp down on websites like WikiLeaks because it exposes them. They'll do it anyway possible depending on the severity of the leaks. This is the democracy you live in. As a citizen, when you're pulled over by the cops, you'll often get the request to show your bags and open the trunk - because you got nothing to hide, right? The same thing doesn't seem to work for those in power. Realizations such as this one will hopefully make a person aware that there is still much to be improved in our world.

November 25, 2010


Aw, whenever I'm tired, stressed out or a bit down pictures like these always put a smile on my face.

November 23, 2010

Prelude To War?

My heart skipped a beat when I saw the news this morning. North Korea fired artillery shells at a South Korean island. Have a bad feeling about this one and I fear it's going to escalate. Things have always been tense between the two countries but it starting to look more and more like a powder cake just waiting to explode. North Korea has practically always been the bully whenever an incident took place and I'm guessing they started the shooting here as well.

A while back I saw a documentary on the National Geographic channel and it was about a visit of doctors to North Korea whom specialized in eye deceases (cataract etc.), secretly they were accompanied by a few journalists who made recordings. The surgeons performed the operations and instructed the local physicians how to do the procedure themselves. What was totally flabbergasting is that when the people were helped and had their sight back they started giving praise to their great leader Kim Il-sung. Most of them were totally brainwashed.

I seriously hope this thing is going to blow over and that the two countries will finally reach a peace settlement, but at the same time I don't have any illusions.

November 22, 2010

Words Of Wisdom

My basic point is that while I agree a cultural transformation is occurring, which defines this entire movement, it is naive to assume this path is clear or simple. Strategies will be shifted as the conditions change. "War" is used here to express a severity of perspective by many. You are seeing this already in other groups. I can assure you all that eventually, for example, alex jones will extent his "infowar" to us... and I can assure you all that the establishment will do everything it can to marginalize and engage in propaganda against these ideas in the form of an "ideological war". The trick is to ignore it all and keep restating the foundation of the system and its merits.

Eventually I will write a piece on the "Spectrum of Marginalization". It is important people understand the age old trick of confusing ideas and shutting down investigations of the external by creating false associations. Just as a racist person derails thought/consideration of a group by calling them "just wops/niggers/spics"; just as the West derails opposition to globalization by calling them "Terrorists"; just as America has derailed any alternative system of economics as "Communist"; so too will the zeitgeist movement be derailed by overarching, thoughtless terms designed to shut down critical thought.
The current ones being used are evidence enough- so far we have:
"Conspiracy Theorists"(this is modern one, btw- design for anyone who questions any aspect of truth put forward by the establishment) Marxists/Socialists/Communists/New Age/Satanists/Theosophists/Cult/Hippies/Leftists/Truthers/NWO... and there will be many, many more.

It is called Ideological Bigotry

The trick? Ignore the titles thrown at you and stay on track with the reasoning. Nothing can stop the reasoning. The sad thing is that people really do fall victim to these categories and due to their narrow identity/ self-interest and fear of what others think of them, they will shut down their interest right there. Brilliant mind control - the art of marginalization. Take a moment to watch Bill O'Reilly or Glen Beck or Sean Hannity and you will see the art form in its most advance state.

Peter Joseph

November 17, 2010

Government Conspiracy Theories

You know, I'm a member of the Zeitgeist Movement and as such I get some comments at times saying that the movement is all about conspiracy theories. While the first Zeitgeist film certainly touched upon this subject, it is by no means a constant for the movement. Zeitgeist 1 was a personal project of director and filmmaker Peter Joseph and should be viewed as such, although there are some folks out there having difficulty accepting this and rather play a 'guilty by association' type of tactic. Often what you hear is; 'you're [the movement] all about conspiracy theories!' Which is of course a convenient and underhanded way of criticizing something. But if your position is against conspiracy theories, let me introduce you to this one. It's from the Bush administration just before they invaded Afghanistan.

Above is a depiction of the complex at Tora Bora which was all over the news at the time. Allegedly Bin Laden had a state of the art complex there. In the video below secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld can be quoted as saying there were many such installations in Afghanistan! A mountain was supposed to be completely hollowed out, creating many chambers that housed personnel, sleeping quarters, armories, power generator rooms, the works. The Taliban and Al Qaida were also believed to have Stinger missiles. (Supplied by the C.I.A. but that's another story.) How many times have you read that Allied aircraft were attacked by Stinger Missiles? I can't remember one incident.

What happened after Coalition forces captured the complex at Tora Bora? Have you seen videos of news teams (or the military for that matter) showing the inside of the 'complex' at Tora Bora? I haven't. Now why wouldn't there be such a video? Because there was nothing to show, there wasn't a state of the art military complex - just a couple of caves. This story about strong military hide-outs were completely fabricated and politicians such as Rumsfeld are caught redhanded telling fairytales. It's a first grade, first class, top of the line, immaculate, proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, outright Conspiracy Theory perpetrated by the U.S. government.

If you want more there are always the Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. Remember those? Colin Powell heading a U.N. council meeting showing all kinds of schematics of mobile chemical weapons delivery systems, again underground facilities where WMD's were produced, holding a vial of anthrax in his hand. How much of the information that the government provided at the time turned out to be factual? Nothing! Again it was a first grade, first class, top of the line, immaculate, proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, outright Conspiracy Theory perpetrated by the U.S. government.

If you're really that hellbent on debunking conspiracy theories might I suggest you start with the Bush administration and how much unsubstantiated nonsense they sold the American public not to mention the entire world? I'm assuming of course that you have the courage and mental integrity to do so in the first place. The Zeitgeist Movement is a grass roots movement and has no impact on your life whatsoever. The U.S. government is the complete opposite. Any sane person would start there.

November 14, 2010

Socialist Moneybomb

Meet conservative radio talkshow host Alex Jones in his brand new studio, paid for by his fans. The guys at Infowars started something called a 'moneybomb,' raising money for a new project. The aim was $500.000 and that was reached within a month. What's strange for me is that from what I've been reading Jones isn't doing that bad, financially. Sources say he's living the American Dream, big fat house, sports cars, boats - the works. He's also selling a variety of dvd's for 20 bucks a pop, lots of commercials on his show and website. It's safe to say he's earning a lot of money. That begs the question; 'why do the fans have to contribute financially to an already successful business enterprise?'

I mean, isn't that pure socialism? Letting other people pay for your own programs while you apparently have the means yourself. If I'm not mistaken this isn't the first time Jones let his fans pay for new projects. Other fundraisers amounted up to $350.000 and $50.000. Yet when you visit his website you'll find something like this.

Socialism bad! Sucking money from your fans, good! The hypocrisy involved here curls my toes. Conservatives often complain about government interference and taxation, especially the latter is quickly deemed socialism if it means the money is transferred to a healthcare system. That is viewed as distributing wealth and nobody should mess with that. However, if they are socialist enough to send you money while you already have it in abundance, well that's not socialism. Just call them friends and fans and forget about the socialist act they just performed. By the way, Jones is standing in his brand new studio just 2 days after the fundraiser ended. Meaning, he already acquired it before the fundraiser ended.
Told you he already had the means. Only in America!

Zeitgeist Summary

Video commentary (from YouTube);
This film features an interview with Peter Joseph, the hugely successful director of the internet film phenomenon Zeitgeist: The Movie which has had millions of online views. We also speak to Jacque Fresco the architect of the Venus Project. The Zeitgeist Movement (TZM) is a worldwide grassroots organization that serves as the communication and activist arm of The Venus Project, founded by industrial designer and social engineer Jacque Fresco. It describes itself as a "sustainability advocacy organization" and is focused on raising awareness for a global social change, by transitioning society from a Monetary-Based Economy to a new, sustainable social design called a "Resource-Based Economy". The Zeitgeist Movement was inspired by the social response to Peter Joseph's films Zeitgeist: The Movie and Zeitgeist: Addendum. (It was Zeitgeist Addendum which first introduced The Venus Project.)

November 13, 2010

Exposing The Noble Lie

Fine documentary about critical thinking.

November 12, 2010

Mystery Missile

Some strange things were going on this week of the coast of California. An object left a vapor trail for everyone to see and nobody knew where it was from. The military had no scheduled tests or launches, even Norad didn't have a clue. Some people say it was a normal jetliner leaving an enormous trail in combination with atmospheric conditions. Others also added 'optical illusion,' but nobody knows exactly what it was. That in itself is strange because with today's modern radar technology and computerized air traffic control systems it should have been as easy as pushing the button on a keyboard and identifying the object in question.

What also struck me when I watched this item on American news channels was the amount of fear projection associated with this story. "No terrorist attack," "no foreign powers involved," "no threat to national security" were some of the phrases immediately added to the story. That shows a climate of negative expectations and where people are constantly reminded of possible attacks. While it's not completely unjustified to remind the public of the dangers of terrorist attacks, it also might not be wise to scare the public at every opportunity, because that creates a culture of fear. I do realize that possible rocket launches of the coast of the U.S. could potentially be a threat but on the other hand, we are not talking about Israel here. Rocket attacks on U.S. soil are unprecedented so there's no need to wet your pants if something unexplained happens.

This story and others like it that have surfaced over the last year or so also remind me of an episode in ufology. In 1946 many people observed 'missile' sightings in Sweden and other parts of Scandinavia. They were called "ghost rockets" and while many people thought they were rocket launches by the Russians who had captured the facilities at Peenemunde (where the V1 and V2 were created and tested), however no conclusive explanations were ever presented. The mystery actually remains. Perhaps the California sighting will fall in to same category. We just have to wait and see what the official explanation will be and how much water it will hold.

November 7, 2010

ZG Media Project

For those interested in art, videos and pictures relating to the Zeitgeist Movement, there's a website made especially for this and you can find it here.

November 6, 2010

The Best That Money Can't Buy - Excerpts

Many people throughout history have wondered why politicians don't act on the people's behalf. The reason is clear when one understands that, even in modern democracies, leaders are not elected to improve the lives of average people, but to maintain the preferential positions of those in the established order. There are growing indications of awareness on the part of people in various areas of the world that events have gone beyond the control of political leaders. Everywhere we see political figures and parties come and go, and political strategies adopted and then discarded for their inability to satisfy the demands of one faction or another. There is nothing to be gained from writing your congressman, or any number of governmental agencies, because they lack the necessary knowledge to deal with society's problems. Their focus is on preserving existing systems, not in changing them.

Change can come from disasters or from major technological advances. The introduction of agriculture brought a significant change in society, as did the Industrial Revolution and the introduction of money to the exchange process. From a historical perspective all of these appear positive. At the time of of their inception, however, people lost jobs, new skills were required, and entire ways of life disappeared. The direction change takes is not always for the better, and it doesn't always improve the human condition. Change is risky. Deprivation or scarcity that is artificial or real drives the economy. Power-seeking leaders command weapons powerful enough to annihilate entire populations and render our planet uninhabitable. Humankind's potential for creativity and innovation far exceeds its inclination to destroy, but every time we exercise destructive power, we take a thousands steps backward for every few forward.

J. Fresco

November 5, 2010

Macaroni A La Ed

One of the easiest and quickest meals to make is macaroni. It just has to boil in water for like 5 minutes and you can add ingredients to your liking. Personally, I like to add ham but if you're a vegetarian no meat whatsoever is of course also possible. You can also add spam if you're a real meat-eater. For veggies I used peas and corn (out of a can), warm it up in the microwave oven and add it to the macaroni when that is ready. Eggs is a standard addition as far as I am concerned, but the real tip here is to add fried onions. Over here you can buy a bag for 70 cents - Indonesian recipe. It really adds an interesting flavor to the dish. Finishing touch ketchup of course, view the picture and see fresh squirt.

Sketchzoid #18

November 4, 2010

Book Review - The Best That Money Can't Buy

To transition from our present politically incompetent, scarcity-oriented, and near-obsolete culture to a more humane society will require a quantum leap in both thought and action. Until recently change came slowly. One group of incompetent leaders simply replaces another. The problems we face today cannot be solved politically or financially. Our problems are highly technical in nature and require fundamental changes in our thinking and values. There is not enough money available to pay for the required changes, but there are more than enough resources. This is why The Venus Project advocates the transition from a monetary society to the eventual realization of a resource-based world economy.

Today I finished reading Jacque Fresco's book 'The Best That Money Can't Buy.' It's 168 pages long, A4 size mind you with 20 chapters and lots of illustrations. It's an easy read and it has the 'feel' like Fresco is talking to you especially if you've seen one of his lectures or interviews on television or YouTube. Not so strange considering that Fresco dictated the text and with the help of other people it was streamlined into a book. The book is of course about the Venus Project which Fresco and his partner Roxanne Meadows started, and are promoting through many venues.

The thing that struck me halfway into the book is that many elements that are used in the film Zeitgeist Addendum (by director Peter Joseph), are also plainly visible in 'The Best That Money Can't Buy.' Elements such as the mechanics of the Federal Reserve, fractional reserve banking and the concept of 'money is debt,' are in fact mentioned in the first half of the book. I'm beginning to believe that Peter Joseph based the movie Zeitgeist Addendum on this book, or at the very least got a great deal of inspiration from it. The continuity is there. Fresco also 'wrote' the book in 2002 while Addendum came out in 2008.

Fresco makes a case for a Resource Based Economy, sharing all the world resources for the benefit of all mankind, doing away with the monetary system and implementing the latest technology to achieve a high standard of living for everyone. His approach is somewhat holistic but seeing how many people join the Zeitgeist Movement (the activist arm of the Venus Project) every day, many are starting it to see as a viable alternative. Those people that are more oriented towards capitalism, nationalism or patriotism will probably have more problems with it.

The main focus in the book is about ideology and the realization that our world leaves much to be desired. Fresco offers no highly detailed actual blueprint or roadmap to the future but does hand out many ideas on how our problems could be handled. The scientific method is what Fresco proposes to use in many situations. Many of our world problems can be solved by using the latest technology according to Fresco. His question is not 'do we have the money?' It's 'do we have the resources?'
Anyone interested in technology and politics should consider buying this book. It just might the real alternative our planet so direly needs.

Don't buy the book on Amazon, the prices there are ridiculous. You can order them here from the Venus Project website new, and at a much better price.

November 3, 2010

Background Story

People sometimes inquire why I became a Zeitgeist/Venus Project supporter and it's not something that simply fell out of the sky. I guess the most adequate answer I can give is that my life's experiences and much internal deliberation led me to support the ideology of the Venus Project. It's not that I watch the news and think 'what a nasty world,' I've been through some nasty things myself. I would like to share a story that transpired a long time ago and what was a real eye-opener for me in how the world works.

Some 20 years ago I finished my tour in the military. Lots can be relayed about that period in my life as well, such as the low pay for the common conscripted soldier and the high pay for incompetent (professional) officers, but that's something for another story. After the military I started working for a company that dealt in logistics. I'm going to be a bit vague here with names and places since some of the things I will say are inflammatory and there's no real need to confront some people with skeletons in their closets.

Anyway, I started working for that company. It was a family-owned company, meaning that relatives were in all the high places of the corporate structure. Even in those it was already understood culturally wise that working for such a company entailed hard work and limited advances. Nevertheless, I had a great time. The work was diverse and I got along great with most of my colleagues. Aside from getting screwed once by one of the family owners I got along great with them as well. I even organized a big party for all of the employees. The pay wasn't that great, the overtime salary was however generous. Business was booming in those days so I worked a lot of extra hours. Quite often I worked 2-3 evenings in the week besides my normal hours. Friday evening was reserved for going out. I don't know how many times we visited restaurants and bars. Truly a fun time.

It wasn't meant to last. The owner of the company and head of the family was already well into his sixties and decided to call it a day and retire. He sold the company to another business man who I will call M. M was already a multi-millionaire, owning several companies including one large national transport company bearing his name. Everyone was introduced to him during a meeting and M introduced the new director (whom I will call) D who would head day to day operations. D happened to be a friend of his, at least so I was told.
After the new ownership everything changed. A reorganization program was immediately initialized and the entire corporate structure was put upside down. This lead to work falling behind. I and many others picked up the slack by putting in a lot of overtime, even working on saturdays and sundays. D, the director, was also quick to alter company rules. He made and handed out to everyone a booklet which we had to sign for - agreeing to the rules. D had also promised we wouldn't work on friday evenings which was fine by me and other folks since we were still going out and having a good time. One change D made was not received with enthusiasm, he cut down the overtime pay so much that it wasn't even profitable (after taxation) to do it.

To my shock some people were getting laid off, fired, after minor transgressions such as accidentally sleeping in or being a day late at work after a vacation due to car trouble and not calling it in. These people weren't slackers or regularly being late on the job, they were good folks - good workers who more or less just had an accident. D, the director and M the owner of the company, couldn't care less. They had the same attitude towards managers. In a 3 month time period 3 managers were replaced in succession (in the same department).
At the time I had a friend in accounting who had observed all the changes just like me. He shared with me some amazing information. D had to go to an exhibition for one day in Germany, leaving in the morning and returning in the evening. The next day he drops a note on the desk at the accounting department requesting a management fee be paid to him of 5000 guilders for one day abroad. I was absolutely flabbergasted at the time because this was the same guy who had announced that overtime pay was to be severely cut back and here he was filling his pockets. The word got out which led to even more disgruntled employees.

Of course, my number also came up. One friday work was behind. I had already done lots of overtime the previous weeks despite the lower pay and we had plans going out. Besides, the management had stated we wouldn't work on friday evenings so I walked out the door meeting owner M on the way out (without saying something to him). That was before Easter weekend so on tuesday we had to work again. Rather quickly I bumped into M who ordered me to do another job and added that I left 'early' the previous friday. Should have noticed that he was already foaming at the mouth and when I countered his argument he fired me on the spot. In my country an employer has to have solid grounds in order to fire someone. The next day I received a letter from the company claiming I was guilty of 'work refusal.' Naturally I got a lawyer, told the story and that I did no such thing. What was advantageous for me is that I had a witness who was standing right beside me when M flipped. After a month or two in the legal battle the company offered to pay me damages and I accepted, although had I taken it to court I surely would have won. There were also legal pressure games played at the time and one day I had to make a decision within an hour. Thought it was best to move on.

I stayed in touch with my former colleagues and the happenings of the company. Other (former) colleagues went through the same thing I did. Some of them got fired for no (legitimate) reason and also made a legal issue out of it and the company again paid them damages. Even the previous owners, members of the family who stayed in the company were fired. Couple of years later I ran into a colleague who told the ultimate story. D, the director and friend of M, was fired. He had enlisted the help of prostitutes and had send the bill to the company. D started working for the competition, something he had explicitly forbidden in the company rules he had formulated.
Five years after I left that company M decided to have another reorganization and moved the entire company to another part of the country. All the people were fired without any restitution. Couple of years later an ex-colleague told me that M had died from colin cancer and added; 'it went too quick, he died in a week, I wish he had suffered more!'

In closing, nobody has to tell me the world can be corrupt or morally bankrupt. I've experienced these things first hand myself. People in a position of power can make rules which they don't follow themselves. They can say you should receive or get paid less while they do the exact opposite at the same time. Business people like the ones I encountered are basically mafia types. The only thing missing at that company I worked were a couple of muscle guys shoving me against the wall after work, reminding me I should behave. Luckily, such matters are not tolerated in a democracy. Other business tactics however, are seemingly tolerated to a large extent. Not one government official or institution intervened on behave of the workers of that company while I know for a fact many requests were made to investigate the matter. Nothing was done.
Experiences like these constantly remind me that the world should be a better place. Maybe now you know why I find other kinds of ideology, where there would be no money or corporations, appealing.

November 2, 2010

Work Vitamins

Here are some "work vitamins" for Muertos, by far the most prolific commentator on my blog. (You gotta throw them a bone sometimes.)

Anger Management

Ed Stein made a wonderful commentary on his website displaying the sentiments that are currently so abound in U.S. society just before the elections.

Anger is the emotion of the day. Homeowners are angry. The unemployed are angry. Voters are angry. Conservatives are especially angry, and Tea Partiers are the angriest of all. A New York Times poll shows that 6 out of 10 voters don’t like their own representative. And, by gosh, we’re going to throw them out, those who haven’t already been thrown out in the primaries. They’re all a bunch of greedy politicians beholden to lobbyists who’ve lost touch with the voters. So we’re going to make John Boehner, the most beholden to lobbyists of them all, Speaker of the House. And we’re going to put the folks back in power who got us in this mess in the first place, because, by gosh, the people we replaced them with two years ago didn’t get us out of it fast enough. Because they’re socialists, we think, or something worse, like Big Government Big Taxing Big Spenders and we need to boot them out and replace them with the Small Government Tax Cutting Big Spenders who waged two wars and cut taxes without paying for it, and who want Big Government out of the business of telling the bankers who destroyed the economy they can’t do that again, because that’s Socialism or Government Meddling in the Marketplace–or something. And we don’t want Obamacare because if we all have health insurance it will lead us down the path to what those stupid Europeans have, which is much better health care than we have, but they do it with Socialism and Big Government, and we don ‘t do that, even if it means that w’re sicker and we die younger and we go bankrupt because of medical costs. And mostly we’re angry, ANGRY with Obama because we’ve noticed that he’s just not quite like us.

As deeply satisfying as it is to feel that righteous rage burning deep inside, I’m beginning to think that blind fury is not necessarily the best approach to solving our problems, or to choosing a government.

Perhaps instead we should get some help with that anger problem of ours.

October 27, 2010

TZM: Recipe For Disaster?

This post is a response to Muertos' blog where he asserts that putting a Resource Based Economy into practice will ultimately lead to disaster. While I agree on some points I'm of the opinion that other arguments are irrelevant in the larger scheme of things and also I can't escape the notion that a portion of Muertos' article is based on projection and fear-mongering. He bases his claim on the works of author and professor James C. Scott, who wrote many books about political science and anthropology. The book 'Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed,' is used to display the alleged inherent faults of a Resource Based Economy.

“[High modernism] is best conceived as a strong, one might even say muscle-bound, version of the self-confidence about scientific and technical progress, the expansion of production, the growing satisfaction of human needs, the mastery of nature (including human nature), and, above all, the rational design of social order commensurate with the scientific understanding of natural laws. It originated, of course, in the West, as a by-product of unprecedented progress in science and technology.”

Muertos starts off with this quote from the book and says; 'This definition describes the Zeitgeist Movement/Venus Project perfectly.' No argument here. Professor Scott formulated it quite nicely. A RBE is in fact based on what scientific and technical progress can do and I find no fault in calling it 'high modernism.' (Perhaps an even better definition that applies here is trans-humanism.) You simply have to look at our current state of technology and it's remarkably easy to fathom what is possible these days. Durable types of energy are a scientific fact. Much of what a Resource Based Economy proposes is actually feasible with our current day technology. In turn that technology CAN create abundance and there's nothing unrealistic about this notion. The major obstacle at this point is simply the monetary system. We have the technology, we have the resources, but we don't have the money. The next obstacle is the human condition, because we are all conditioned to think in certain ways.

That also brings us to 'human nature' and the concept of 'nature vs nurture.' Human nature is often attributed to acts of aggression towards each other like that is a 'natural' thing.' Is it really? Are we all just animals? Personally, I think humans are born with a build-in 'survival mode' but as your brain develops it is capable of so much more. When the brain starts developing, you, just like a computer, start receiving programming. The next stage of development is the programming interacting with the environment. If I had to put it in an equation I would say that 10% is nature and that 90% is nurture. A person is fed and cared for from birth, we don't grow up in the wild, we grow up in protective surroundings. Therefore I don't attribute much to instinct, most of the human condition is taught and influenced by the environment. Which brings me to this quote from Muertos.

"In simpler terms, high modernist projects are doomed to fail because they are profoundly naïve about human behavior, institutions and culture."

Several things here. I agree with Muertos that if you would put everyone on the planet in a RBE tomorrow there's a high probability it would fail, that's because most people right now are simply preoccupied with their own self interest and needs, how trivial that may be. Stick those people in another world and they'll just continue their old habits. Change or behavioral modification takes time.
Human behavior at the moment is basically centered on self interest. You basically go to work because you earn money and that in turn enables you to buy food and all the other necessities of life. You work at an institution for the interest of that institution because that in turn serves your interest. Culture is largely shaped by the most dominant institutions, be it churches, political parties, media and so on. That is the world we live in. Once you start comparing that world to a Resourced Based Economy where everything is provided for without charge through technology, the average person would be skeptical because it's such a stark contrast to the world we live in today. Naturally, people start to wonder what the cost might be and what they risk to lose.

High modernist projects are not inherently naive, it's the people themselves who wonder about their own self interest. You can bring it all back to psychology and ideology. The Venus Project takes that into account by advocating a holistic approach. It appeals, in large, to our higher nature which of course is something some people have a hard time getting at. It proposes; what is good for everyone is also good for yourself, but in the egomaniac oriented society that we have today that view is of course the other way around. What is good for myself, is good for everyone. It becomes a matter of (global) social therapy and it will take time. The Venus Project, in my opinion, is a futuristic ideal. It lays the premise of understanding that ideal on emotional and intellectual maturity, something that is scarce right now in our world. However, it must start somewhere. You can call that a Project in many ways. Addressing both the inner- and outer world.

"High modernists simply assume that people and their behaviors can be neatly crammed into well-ordered boxes that will operate efficiently. Their contempt for the idea of human nature is a by-product of this myopia. History shows, however, that these types of projects always fail. When a high modernist project is undertaken by an authoritarian state, such as the Soviet Union under Stalin, the zeal to achieve unrealistic goals combined with the state’s increasing efforts to streamline the process often results in death and suffering on a colossal scale." (Muertos)

'High modernism' is an extension of technological progress. Whether it will succeed or not is dependent on the psychological progress of the people. One can't fully work without the other. A high modernist like myself doesn't assume that everything will fall into place when a RBE is suddenly put into place. We have to take into account the level of psychological maturity. There is no contempt for the idea of human nature, if there would be any contempt at all it would be for the human condition, not for human nature which is in fact negligible. It's human conditioning, people are born and raised in a culture that imposes a set of values on them. Those values are accepted (without question) to a large degree. The Venus Project examines those values and proposes new ones. It's not that humans and their trains of thought are ignored, other options are simply presented.
Bringing up the Soviet Union as an example of failed high modernism is questionable. First of let me say that I haven't met a Zeitgeist supporter yet that supports such a society like that in the U.S.S.R. in the previous century. Nobody is waiting for another totalitarian regime. Period. Making the connection between the Soviet Union during the Cold War period and a futuristic society like the Venus Project is in fact a false association. There's already the assumption (projection) that these two models are highly similar if not identical. They are not.
The U.S.S.R. was dependent on the technological level of the time period, as you know technology evolves. Much more technologies are available right now that weren't there in the time of the Soviet Union. More importantly they were part of the monetary system and bound by the restrictions of finance. Lastly, they were a separate part of a global dynamic system and forces were at work hampering their progress. It's too simplistic to say they failed because of unrealistic goals, it's much more complex.
Could the Soviet Union finance their entire society so that everyone was fed and housed in luxury? No, they couldn't. In a monetary system there simply isn't enough money to do that. The system wont allow it because the system is dependent on money circulation and economic growth of itself. Secondly, where do you think most of the money was spend on in the Soviet Union during the Cold War era? On defense, not on its people, because there were other nations in the world with their own national interests and agenda's. That's what I mean by 'dynamic forces' because there were other hardline-ideological states, such as the U.S., who made the need for military expenditures absolutely necessary. In the end the Soviet Union was bankrupt.
Comparing the Soviet Union to high modernism or the Venus Project and make the proclamation that they failed and will fail is very simplistic, if not outright false. A myriad of factors contributed to the decline of the Soviet Union, not high modernism by itself.

"In the 1950s, the government of Brazil was eager to forge a totally new capital city, one that would be functional, efficient, beautiful and above all ultra-modern. [snip] No one congregates in the broad open squares because there’s nothing to do there—no shops, no places of social interaction, no reason to go there other than to be there. Everyone hates the apartment buildings because they’re bland, blocky and utterly devoid of any sort of character." (Muertos)

Next point in the critique on the Venus Project. Modern cities are boring to live in and lack character. That's what it basically amounts up to. The city of Brasilia is mentioned as an example. Listing such an example is strictly done in order to associate a city such as Brasilia and the negative connotations that already accompany it, with a modern (circular) city the Venus Project proposes. Classic example of projection. The main problem here is that there are not enough recreation facilities for the people that live in that town. If there were shopping malls and topless bars, most people would have said that it is a helluva place to live in. The solution here is very simple, add places for recreation. Oddly enough, and you can read it up in Fresco's books or interviews, he actually suggests a 'recreation belt' in the cities he proposes.
The problem with cities such as Brasilia, aside from the lack of recreational facilities, is that over time they get outdated. New building materials, ways of construction and technology make such a place look old and inefficient within decades. Yet there isn't enough money (of course) to constantly update and upgrade such a city and bring it up to more modern standards and the wishes of its people. In our monetary system this would be a hard thing to do since the cost would be tremendously high. In a Resource Based Economy I would suspect this would be an easy thing to do since no money would be involved, just the availability of resources would be the main issue. Cities such as Brasilia aren't an example of high modernism failing, they are an example of poor (long term) planning and the restrictions that the monetary system lays upon improvements.

"It’s the ultimate pinnacle of high modernist folly, and would invariably collapse into a disaster so bloody and chaotic that it would make Stalin’s forced collectivization look benign by comparison." (Muertos)

Muertos continues by making a connection between Stalin's brutal policies and high modernism, the latter being the core element of the Zeitgeist Movement and the Venus Project. While I have my doubts that Stalin's policies can be termed 'high modernism' in the truest sense of the word, of course they can be construed as forced social change. However making the connection between a part of history that was costly in lives and claiming such matters will automatically happen in the future on an even greater scale, clearly falls into the category of fear mongering.
If anything, most Zeitgeist supporters are well aware of their history and no one is seeking a repetition of a communist society with all its downfalls. Any intelligent person knows that forced social change will be met by opposition. Subsequently, this is not about advocating forced social change, it's about finding common ground and shared values. We are in the stage of making a proposal and creating awareness, but if you start making negative associations than you're already figuratively throwing out the baby with the bathwater. In my book, such an act would be intellectually dishonest.

“First and foremost, high modernism implies a truly radical break with history and tradition….All human habits and practices that were inherited and hence not based on scientific reasoning–from the structure of the family and patterns of residence to moral values and forms of production–would have to be reexamined and redesigned…" (Scott)

I don't see that much fault with professor Scott's reasoning so far. The only important matter that is absent here is that high modernism can be seen as a constant, and therefore always influencing tradition, human habits and practices. New discoveries in technology change the culture all the time. There is no stopping that. The invention of the telephone enabled people to communicate over vast distances, cellular phones made it even more easier and people suddenly could communicate when they were mobile. It transformed culture. The invention of the airplane literally opened up the world since people could travel everywhere on the globe. The invention of the computer opened up a world of itself, communication, calculation and a host of other utilities. Culture is constantly being transformed by new technological inventions and applications.
The point here is that if you would take the 'high' out of high modernism, tradition, human habits and practices would still be challenged with every step on the path of technological evolution. High modernism takes the change to its fullest potential, that's why it conflicts so much with conservative elements who wish that things remain as they are. If you would remove the 'high' out of high modernism the conflict itself will remain, it just becomes a matter of intensity. Maybe conservative elements need to realize that Pandora's box is already opened. Not many people are willing to return to simpler lifestyles. Inventions such as the telephone and the computer are here to stay, they will only go away if something better is invented. In this regard it also becomes clear that change is a constant.

"The sources of this view are deeply authoritarian. If a planned social order is better than the accidental, irrational deposit of historical practice, two conclusions follow. Only those who have the scientific knowledge to discern and create this superior social order are fit to rule in the new age. Further, those who through retrograde ignorance refuse to yield to the new scientific plan need to be educated to its benefits or else swept aside.” (Scott)

I'm not sure high modernism would automatically lead to a deeply authoritarian society. One can learn from mistakes in the past and as such it is no guarantee such a thing would happen in the future. Personally, I was under the impression that the Venus Project sets its aims a little higher by focusing strongly on matters such as freedom and equality - ensuring the necessities of life for all the people in the world. Many states in the past (and right now), democratic or otherwise, couldn't even do that for their own people.
But lets be totally honest here. Can high modernism lead to a totalitarian state? Yes, of course. Human nature or human conditioning, take your pick, can lead to elitist behavior where one thinks the majority of the people are too ignorant or unintelligent and that decisions have to be made for them. Yet, is this exclusive to high modernism? No, not at all.
One only needs to take a hard look at the world of politics and you would realize that such thought patterns are happening all the time. In a democracy politicians make decisions for you, but who benefits the most from those decisions, the people or the institution/establishment?

In our history, how many nations made the transition from democracy to totalitarian states? Quite a few actually. Disregarding the eastern European states that fell under the influence of the Soviet Union there were a number of states across the globe who found themselves under a (military) dictatorship, often supported by the U.S. I might add. High modernism doesn't seem to be the main cause. It's the self interest of a group.

It's fairer to say that a recipe for disaster is always present. It is fueled by socio-economic differences and inequality, which are brought on by the self interest of the most dominant institutions. These institutions shape society, not high modernism by default. High modernism interacts with culture and influences it but it is the most dominant institution(s) that has the final say. Just take a look at modern day U.S., big business interests basically rule the country and it's all about the money - and has been so for the last 100 years. Thirty to forty million people don't have proper healthcare and are not insured or underinsured. The health of the people is not the main priority. The public debt is now around 14 trillion dollars, have you heard one bank say they are going to help making the U.S. financially sound? No of course not, they are pursuing their own self interest which is profit in this case. If the U.S. economy should totally fail you can bet your last dollar those banks will move their main office to another country and leave the American people out to dry.

In case you didn't notice not every new technology is implemented right away. Have you seen many cars that run on hydrogen or strictly on durable battery power? Not that many, right? Now, why is that - why wasn't new technology adopted right away? Answer, because it's not in the interest of those in power. If hydrogen or battery power was used, the oil industry and a large part of the economy which is based on that would be severely diminished. That's why they don't do it. Self interest, profit and the circulation of money (cyclical consumption) are the most dominant values in our global society, not the people or any sense of equality. It is profit and the pursuit of self interest that causes all the ills in the world. Maybe this is the true recipe for disaster.

Professor Scott already formulated it wisely, 'a planned social order is better than the accidental, irrational deposit of historical practice.' Perhaps we can postulate that the Venus Project is a planned social order and better then the one we have now? Implementing it is another matter altogether and I fully acknowledge that it will cause a great deal of friction with our current values. Therefore you can't make such changes right away. It simply wouldn't work and elitist behavior is right around the corner when the new values challenge the old ones.
What we need is patience. Radical changes must take time in order to avoid conflict. What we need is education. People should increase their knowledge of the world and not only discover what drives its people but also those things we have in common. Education is one of the most valuable assets a person can have. People should learn about themselves and ask themselves why they do certain things. Hopefully they'll realize that the next person is not that different. Lastly, we must keep the dialogue going and hope for more understanding between our fellowmen. In that spirit I hope that Muertos and other critics of the Venus Project have learned something. Us Zeitgeist and Venus Project supporters don't want chaos, we want a better life just like you do.

Ed V.

October 26, 2010

Seeing The Light

Sketchzoid #17

Confusion About Zeitgeist

Here's a video from YouTube user Neanderthalcouzin who goes into to the mechanics of the relationship between Zeitgeist the Movie and the Zeitgeist Movement. Being so similar in name it is often automatically assumed that the two are the same when they are not. Bit of 'our' own fault of course, yet there is still the need to explain this situation since some people, after seeing Zeitgeist the Movie, assume that every member completely supports that film when in reality there are a number of Z members who don't, and have problems with the critique on Christianity and 9/11. The maker of this YouTube video does this as well and attempts to clarify the confusion surrounding this matter.

October 25, 2010

New NASA Spaceship?

(Oct. 22) -- It might sound like the stuff of science fiction, but a NASA official says that "within a few years" scientists will unveil a prototype for a spaceship capable of taking earthlings to other worlds.

Excerpt from this article. Quite fascinating actually since those words came from NASA director Simon Worden. I'm not getting my hopes up that I can stroll on the moon in a couple of years but stories like these are at least positive. Also not really sure what kind of spaceship they have in the works. It uses microwave energy to ignite hydrogen propellants. No warp drive, damn. As I'm writing this I also feel a bit skeptical somehow about the possibilities of this technology, but who knows.