Archive for September, 2011

Intelligence is not morality

Friday, September 30th, 2011

One of the most tiresome aspects of Stephen King’s stories I’ve always found to be his reliance on the “saintly moron” or similar derivations of this themed character. Essentially, this involves a person of marginal intelligence who counters his lack of mental acuity with stupendous amounts of virtuosity and moral purity. He is the moron whose moral compass will dependably point the way to true North of virtuosity. In King’s world of goblins and ghouls, there is the subtle understanding that stupidity and lack of intelligence are synonymous with a sense of timeless, homey righteousness. Conversely, there is also a corresponding one-dimensional expectation of intelligence as an accompaniment to sinister motives and dubious morality. This is but one extreme of the simplistic idealization of intelligence as a signal of personal morality. The flagrant rehashing of such pallid Kingian characters is indicative of the superficial expectations he has of a nuanced personality trait such as intelligence.

On the other hand, I’ve also noticed a tendency on the part of some “racially conscious” bloggers to treat intelligence as an indisputable indicator of virtue, and idiocy as a twin of depravity. Robert Lindsay, a true race realist, earlier posted something entitled “Black Pathology and IQ – Is There a Connection?” He refers to a comment link from Jewamongyou’s Blog and a post there that examined the odd confluence (or not) of Blacks and animal rights, a common theme Robert Lindsay and JAY have been fencing over recently. On JAY’s blog, a commenter attempted to equate abuse of dogs with low-IQ’d savagery. In this I saw a polarized version of Stephen King’s saintly moron archetype.

In both perspectives, there is a nonsensical interspersing of intelligence (as defined by IQ) with morality and human decency and “anti-savagery.” This is ridiculous. The intrinsic act of blurring morality and intelligence is immoral in itself. Intelligence is not morality, and vice versa. Abusing animals is a moral transgression, and if indicated in youth, might very well be the precursor to harmful personality deficits later in life. Abusing animals is not an intellectual shortcoming. In fact, perhaps it can be argued the young animal abuser whose demented drive to torture animals is so strong that he continues to sate it without getting caught is in fact displaying signs of great intelligence. Maybe those who get caught abusing dogs are in fact less intelligent and resourceful than those who slyly get away with it? Is the pool of animal abusers these race realists display as sociological examples thus self-selected for below average intelligence?

I don’t understand the fixation with lack of intelligence as a proxy for amoral and base behavior by many of these race realist types. Idiocy is no more an indicator of animal abuse than intelligence correlates with respect for mankind. The renowned Nuremberg defendants IQ list should lay to rest any lazy inklings we may entertain that intelligence and morality are entwined in any sort of cohesive structure of predictability or logic.

The commenter in the above link connotes animal abuse with “savagery.” Of course. Still, we can clearly state that all animal abusers are savage, but not all savages are animal abusers. The common denominator is not savagery, it is animal abuse. Animal abuse/torture/cruelty is mundanely immoral. Nothing more, nothing less. Animal abuse as a predictor of IQ is not measurable and elusive to the point of uselessness. It’s a dead-end thought experiment because the smartest animal abusers will not be caught and thus not have their minds enlisted to the inquiring research of modern medicine or psychology as it seeks to make sense of abnormal psychology. Interestingly, the sanctification of intelligence issues from the corners of the blogosphere with the severest fetishiization of human IQ. There is a foolish self-congratulatory element to this pattern of thinking, but really it is just another amusing demonstration of the ability of one’s own ego to dilute intelligence and perception.

A question of Hispanic abuse or police abuse?

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

I’d like to rewrite a small tidbit of history and try this alternate reality on for size. See how it fits.

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In Fullerton, California, Manuel Ramos, a homeless man from a middle class family and who had a history of mental illness, was detained near a used car lot after police received reports of a man matching his description vandalizing cars in the area. When confronted by responding officers, Ramos became combative and resisted arrest. Back-up units were requested. Six police officers attempted to subdue the uncooperative suspect. Amid a barrage of Taser guns, Ramos continued to resist. Officers pounded Ramos with the butts of their flashlights and threw him to the ground violently. Witnesses report that Ramos could be heard yelling “papa, papa!” for his father in Spanish. Ramos was taken to a local hospital with severe injuries to his head, neck and face. He was removed from life support and died 10 days after the incident. The officers were placed on paid leave while an investigation was launched into their actions. The arresting officer, Kelly Thomas, was the first officer at the scene and allegedly told Ramos, “See my fists? They are getting ready to fuck you up.”

Investigators concluded that Thomas’ actions were within acceptable Fullerton police department procedures and allowed him to resume duty. Ramos was buried a few days later.
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This story is fictitious in that the names of the characters have been switched. This story is a mirror image of the real incident. The events are true, but Kelly Thomas was the homeless man living in Fullerton, California, a White Republican oasis, and Manny Ramos was the Fullerton police officer who is the first to ever be charged with murder while on duty. Quite a feat for a police officer in Orange County!

When I first heard of Kelly Thomas’ tragic death at the hands of the Fullerton police, I found it intriguing that the mentally ill son of a former Orange County policeman was the fatal victim of what appeared to be flagrant police abuse. Now, I thought, the harsh hands of overzealous policing methods are openly visited upon a specific demographic that never knows police abuse and probably lauds it secretly whenever the police beat down the Rodney Kings of the world. Yes, now let’s see what those Republican law and order NRA types say. Well, the other day, I was a bit dismayed to learn that the police officer facing the steepest penalty for Kelly Thomas’ murder is Hispanic. His name is Manny Ramos, the Hispanic police officer who killed a connected White civilian in the conservative bastion of Orange County, California. It all falls into place now.


Manny Ramos, courtesy OC DA

Let me tell you why I’m “dismayed.”

What I thought might be a wake-up call for the Republican defend-police-actions-at-all-costs segment of society instead has become nothing but an opportunity to blame the Hispanic for killing an innocent White man. This will do nothing at all to wake up White Orange County Republicans to the impending paramilitary antics of police departments across the nation as stability and trust in government and oligarchical institutions slowly ebbs. There is an extra sublayer of significance at play here. Though this incident may continue to unravel into a less than ideal examination of police brutality, I suspect it will carry greater significance as an untold tale of Anglo vengeance against the Hispanic cop.

I want to stress: I am not one of those shrill morons who cries racism everytime someone looks at me wrong. I’ve experienced racism enough times and in fact, most racists don’t bug me. I think people, despite having strong beliefs about groups, are able to treat individuals with a sufficiently nuanced perspective so as to treat the objects of their prejudice relatively fairly. People who cry “racism” continuously are pussies. Get over it and be better. However, I firmly believe that because a Hispanic officer is being held accountable for Kelly Thomas’ death, the dynamics of this story are changed dramatically in this otherwise blatant display of egregious police force. It’s a dog whistle event. This is about a Hispanic officer who abused his police powers and now the Republicans of the OC will find it in themselves to swallow their archetypal law and order conservatism to convict a cop of murder. Ramos hasn’t been convicted yet, but mark my word. If he was “Kelly Thomas” and not “Manny Ramos,” he would not be in this predicament.

I had hoped this incident might rouse an important group of sociocultural sycophants. Anglo Orange County conservatives are the most apt to defend the status quo and side with society’s managerial elite, right or wrong. But instead of experiencing the menace of police brutality, they will now experience the menace of Hispanic brutality and the real significance of this event is diluted by…racism.

Those who Have Too Much To Lose

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

There is a particular brand of corporate denizen that frightens me and I don’t trust. Most corporate denizens are not scary; they are simply annoying or amusing, but there is a breed that you must be leery of if you must work in such an environment. I’m talking about the corporate specimen who flails about defensively beneath the glare of the hot watchful management microscope. That type of corporate specimen, who, like a cornered dog, realizes that all options have abandoned him, and so resorts to amoral means in order to sustain his own position in the hierarchy. This is the corporate specimen known as the person who Has Too Much To Lose. They litter the workplace but you can’t recognize them because they look like you and I. Innocuous worker bees who subdue a hideous secret. They are backed into a corner of their own doing. Extravagant 21st Century life is undeniable and they see to it that every last cent they earn is accounted for in the way of payments and mortgages. Sometimes those who Have Too Much To Lose not only refers to material possessions, but to status. There are those who invest so much of themselves into their ambition and peer ranking that this seemingly intangible ambition assumes all the trademarks of a very tangible item of personal property These people will do all in their power to keep it from slipping away. Thus, Too Much To Lose.

Those who Have Too Much To Lose are usually so panic-ridden about maintaining their civilized illusion that they are like zombies occupying the land of the working living. These people dearly surrender their humanity to the organization as they gladly subject their last trace of self-respect to the almighty paycheck and the life it bolsters, week to week. These people are to be feared for they have one allegiance and it is their own presumed prosperity and its continuation. You mean nothing to these people and they have already forsaken their soul to the puppet masters in skillful displays of submission in the hope their reward of stability is reciprocated. If you are in their way, those who Have Too Much To Lose won’t think twice about exploiting your vulnerabilities or perpetrating wanton acts of duplicity in order to secure their position.

That’s what it comes down to for these people.
Security. When your life is spread thinly over the tenuous structure of modern livelihood, it does not take much to pull the pillars out from underneath, bringing the castle to a crumbling heap of stone and dust. This corporate specimen is keenly aware of the precarious nature of his artificially propped existence and the least likely to value the humanity of his actions. Or detest their inhumanity.

Those who Have Too Much To Lose screw it up for the rest of us who live our life in measured steps of non-committal, ascetic comfort.

Swimming at the ledge

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Victoria Falls , in the southern portion of the African continent, are know as the “largest” falls in the world. Using simple math in order to claim this status, they combine a vast height of 350 feet and a width of 5,600 feet to assemble the largest sheer face of a waterfall in the world.


courtesy, zambiatourism.com

Naturally, you would think the ledge of these falls would thwart close approaches. Living on the edge is not about wading just feet away from a watery precipice which will plunge you south about 350 feet in a blinding, drowning haze of turbulent water, right? Well at the top of Victoria Falls there is a small rock pool called Devil’s Pool which the locals and adventurous travelers claim is safe to wade in. Its proximity to the edge of the falls gives acrophobics like me the shivers. The fact that that people dive madly into Devil’s Pool and float happily to the very edge of onrushing hydro-destruction makes me fidget in this seat. This video shows a group of female tourists. From the looks and sound of it, college girls from the United States.

The video shows these girls climbing bravely up the rocks. Led by African guides they ascend to Devil’s Pool where they plunge in, one by one. The pool is relatively shallow and evidently the rocky footing is stable enough to prevent people from being swept over the ledge. The brave who have done it claim it is safe and exhilarating. Yes, I’ll buy the exhilarating thing. I’m sure jumping off the Eiffel Tower might be considered exhilarating except for the promise of hard ground at the end of the fall which promises to make the exhilaration very short lived, as well as its memory.

Other than the guides, the women are all white and look like they came right out of a Spring Break advertisement for Lake Havasu. Damned rich White people, they love that daredevil shit. Why is this? If they aren’t bungee jumping, they are parasailing or paragliding or jumping out of planes or climbing the face of 1000-foot rocks. White people have balls, don’t they? All the daredevil crap I’ve ever seen was performed by White people. White people, especially the well-to-do, seem to delight in squandering the ennui of their monetarily-assured status by risking their life on the nuttiest of physical feats. I never see minorities doing this stuff! I’m sure much of it is attributable to the fact that most daredevilry is not cheap, but still, there are minorities with the disposable means to indulge in such demented risk-taking behavior, but still…I don’t hear of too many who do. Putting your life on a recreational limb seems to be solely the province of the White person.

Speaking for myself, I’m intimidated by heights and feats of physical recklessness. I want to stay on the ground and to be propelled only by my own legs. I don’t want to fly through the air, I don’t want to hang for my life at the edge of dizzying heights. I just want to live in this crazy town which can be deadly enough. Actually, I’ve come close to checking out a few times. It’s the Mexican way, I think. I have no proof, but anecdotally, I’m certain Mexican people seem to have a built-in death wish. Mexican people (just read the news) are always letting their kids run into the street or getting squashed by garage doors or pulverized by industrial equipment and a host of other mundane dangers. We Mexicans have an unqualified ability to put ourselves in harm’s way even when we are just living life in all its daily drudgery. I realize accidents and murder just happen anywhere and at any time, but it seems Mexicans live their lives not far from the ledge of a waterfall called life.

Sunday afternoon pestilence

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

It looked like a mother/daughter duo that were at the window ahead of us and after the cashier gave them a rehearsed admonition, they looked at each other, exchanged words, agreed about something and stepped out of line. I heard the cashier say something about “open captions.” I looked at the lit bank of scheduled movie times above her and was a little dismayed to note that sure enough, the 12:05 showing of “Contagion” was followed by a parenthesized “open captions” description. The showing was for the “hearing impaired.” The ladies weren’t able to hang with the thought of captions littering the screen while they watched the week-old virus thriller with Matt Damon. I asked my son and he was not thrilled either. The next showing wouldn’t be until 1:30 which is too much time to kill for a movie in the middle of the day. We weren’t hungry enough to eat yet. Buying food would be a waste. This shopping square once had a Coffee Bean but it perished during the 2008 economic heart attack. A lot of small businesses I loved have gone by the wayside in the last 3 years. And now we find ourselves unsure how to kill time when we’re away from home. My son and I decided to swallow our hesitations and watch the 12:05 showing, deaf subtitles and all.

It’s strange that I don’t give a second thought to sitting in front of a foreign movie for a couple of hours while I follow the dialogue in subtitles (I prefer this to dubbed audio) but there is something about watching a regular English movie with subtitles that sorta made me leery about the whole thing. I felt as if perhaps this might not be the optimum viewing experience which demands a higher threshold of perfection when you consider you’re paying nine dollars for a stupid movie ticket. We all want our money’s worth. I can see where it is relatively difficult to accept clunky verbiage clouding the big screen because perhaps it does dilute the “purity” of the experience. But 1:30 was so far away…

Open captions are amusing because they transcribe all movie sounds to the written word. If there is music in the background, 2 musical notes are displayed. It’s like reading the screenplay while the movie is playing. Sometimes I will read a song’s lyrics while I listen to it and this reminded me of that experience. The difficult thing is that if the movie is in English, or any language you understand, it becomes a nagging, conscious effort not to read the subtitles. Conscious avoidance. You don’t need to read them to complete your viewing experience, and if you manage to consciously disregard their obvious presence you may just avoid the lure to read, but that is difficult. I found myself reading much of the dialogue even though I could understand with clarity and precision what the actors were saying. I heard loudly and clearly when one character said, and I paraphrase, “Blogging is graffiti with punctuation.” The subtitles are an attention magnet which take great effort not to ignore. Bad concentration on my part, perhaps. It’s similar to the “don’t think of a pink elephant” line which obviously, makes you think of such a ridiculous creature.

Ultimately, I’m glad to note, the captions didn’t detract from the cinematic disease experience. I quickly accustomed. I’m pretty flexible and low-maintenance. I’m not so prissy that crap like this bothers me. I was able to get lost in the movie which was not bad. I’ve always been fascinated by the subject of pandemics and contagious invaders and the transmission vectors and the frightening dynamics involved in the spread and mutation of the “killer viruses.” Most guys like to talk about a classic Super Bowl or World Series…their sense of historical recollection. I would rather read about the Spanish Flu of 1918. The movie buzzed along believably and kept my skeptical mind at bay but there reached a certain point in the movie (which I will not reveal) where I believe the plot drifted lazily into the netherworld of Hollywoodian impetus. The demands of a commercial script length wreaked their havoc on the story’s unfolding microbial invasion. Certain developments occurred which I didn’t find so believable, but nevertheless, the movie was entertaining and sated my perverse fascination with mysterious and fatal human pathogens. Some of the characterizations were weak and forced, but the nuts and bolts of the virus and its genesis in a melding/mutation between pig and bat viruses was chilling. My viral fascination is a little macabre. Especially when you consider that I tend toward hypochondria yet I’m propelled toward my darkest fears like a moth is driven to embrace the hot light.

Captioned or not.