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Rumination on culture and learning
Americans are deliberately deluded. They are steeped in propaganda, but are also heavily complicit in their miseducation. They throw themselves into their miasma of disinformation with elan. <h>Regime Change in Venezuela</h> For example, the charge for regime change in Venezuela is not only in full swing, but has culminated in the replacement of the president by an unelected---and unknown---man. <media src="https://www.youtube.com/v/BLkzE8-tQyk" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLkzE8-tQyk" source="YouTube" author="Redacted Tonight" caption="~230~ Venezuela Fake Coup, Truth About Kamala Harris, & Yellow Vests" width="560px"> Lee points out several salient characteristics of the target of a U.S. regime change: <ol> The country has socially beneficial programs (i.e. is at least quasi-socialist) The country has recently dropped the dollar or petro-dollar The country has oil </ol> Any of these would warrant attention---and corrective measures for non-vassal-like behavior---from the U.S.<fn> Venezuela has, in fact, been on the radar for many years---not as long as Iran, but America's palantir has been focusing its baleful gaze on them with similar intensity. Venezuela has oil. They have a national oil company, the proceeds from which flows to the government coffers rather than to its elite. Chavez used a high oil price to fund a social revolution benefiting nutritional, poverty and literacy levels drastically.<fn> Obviously this kind of behavior warranted heavy sanctions, turning around the trend in Venezuela to push more people back to extreme poverty and starvation. The next step is to claim that socialism caused all of this suffering, without mentioning the sanctions at all. Step one. This was already bad enough, but then, last October, Venezuela announced that they were switching to the Euro for international markets. That was the kiss of death. Suddenly, they've got an unelected president whom the Trump administration immediately approved. The man was trained in the States at is elite universities. Most people in Venezuela have no idea who he is. Not a single one of them voted for him. Step Two. The coup has already happened. But people in the U.S. who watch their approved news channels view a U.S. invasion as imminent to save these people from themselves. Venezuela's wayward, dangerous and highly irresponsible games with the plague of socialism have doomed them all to starvation. The beneficent market forces of the U.S.---along with a generous helping of carpet bombing---is the only cure for such a benighted folk. They're obviously not capable of managing their---who are we kidding? <b>our</b>---oil for themselves. They've shown themselves to be irresponsible custodians of this precious resource and there's nothing for it but for America to take it off of their hands, for the good of the planet. <h>Domestic Eco-Terrorism</h> In part of the report, Lee discusses another CNN feature that purports to show a group of eco-terrorists who <iq>took over</iq> the Rockefeller Skating Rink in NYC. The video showed them lying on the ice, in the middle. They presumably paid entrance in order to get onto the ice at all. The police were called not because they stormed in, but because they were using the facility in an unapproved manner. The <i>approved</i> manner of use is to leap and twirl in the middle and to skate in a counter-clockwise circle (unless some mad bastard has called out to "reverse skate"). One of the group climbed the golden statue and hung a flag in protest. Yes, this was a protest. Yes, protest on private property is illegal in America. Yes, they were bothering other paying customers. It's doubtful whether they were bothering them <i>more</i> than if a whole bus-full of teenagers were to appear and "take over" the rink in what would be deemed a perfectly normal and non-terroristic monopolization of the facilities by a large group. To call it a "takeover" suggests much more than it actually was. It is a lie. When I hear takeover, I think people with raised weapons preventing other people from getting in. That was not at all the case. The police charged them with being "disorderly", a fabulously Newspeak-sounding crime. <h>Corporal Punishment</h> <media src="https://www.youtube.com/v/W-iHu0io3lo" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-iHu0io3lo" source="YouTube" width="560px" author="Jim Jeffries" caption="Is It Wrong to Spank a Child?"> In the video, Jeffries interviews two people: the man is a proponent of spanking and the woman is vehemently opposed. She instead talks about things like asking your child whether it wants a "mental-health day" off from school. I'm less interested in that discussion than in the example of "spanking" that they showed: a parent lightly tapping its child's behind as it walked by. I posit that the toddler could barely feel it through the thick padding of a diaper inexplicably still worn at such a late age. I say inexplicable, but it's probably because the modern parent no longer has any arrows in its quiver for deterring (or de-incentivizing) inappropriate behavior. Obviously one has to be careful not to limit anyone's idea of what "appropriate" behavior might be. It's very possible that a budding singing career may be irrevocably damaged when chiding a child for screaming its lungs out for long, long minutes on end in the middle of a store. Perhaps the other customers were enjoying its dulcet renderings of extreme jazz. Again, it doesn't really matter other than that the video purporting to show an example of the extreme behavior to be chastised shows nothing of the sort to anyone even interested in objective observation. Any discussion of a light, easily misinterpreted pat as corporal punishment is a waste of time. <h>Culturally Estranged Enclaves</h> "I don't watch TV" is thought to be a positive statement about one's own state of enlightenment. It often goes unquestioned, even though it's a vague statement devoid of content or meaning. When someone claims this---and you care enough, of course---you could follow up with "what do you do instead?". If the average American---and, who knows, probably Westerner at this point---spends 11 hours per day with media, then what do they do without that media? Do they mean they don't watch network television? Basic cable? No commercials? Or just "educational" channels? Netflix? YouTube? Other online programs? Fail videos? Do they read books? Classics? Non-fiction? Fiction? Magazine articles? Buzzfeed listicles? Trashy cookie-cutter romances? These people are living in an enclave, divorced from the culture, not unlike the Amish. With no cultural touchstones, they're going to have an uphill battle integrating into the environs in which they live. They're in a situation very similar to immigrants, but they have only a small community with which they are integrated. This is not to say that local culture and media should be absorbed unquestioningly--that almost goes without saying (especially on this blog)--but you're not allowed to judge something if you're completely ignorant of it. Obviously, you don't have to experience it personally---but you have to at least have thought about it and be able to discuss it rationally and with a few touchstones. Nobody with a brain would say that you have to be open to murder just because you've never tried it. On the other hand, consigning a giant wing of culture to the trash bin without having ever sampled it is irresponsible and should not be treated as serious critique. If you can't see how someone is enjoying something, then you are in no position to judge their enjoyment of it. It's one thing to say that you don't think much of reality TV if you've actually seen some. You don't have to binge-watch it, but at least spend a few minutes or hours familiarizing yourself with it. Your critique will be more acceptable if you have at least some idea of what the hell you're talking about. Basing your opinion purely on someone else's word for it is a recipe for delusion and brainwashing. Once you have such enclaves, their initial attempts at integration will likely fail---or at least perform sub-optimally. What about job or college interviews where the two parties have nearly-literally nothing in common? In today's climate, the interviewee can probably sue right and left for "discriminating" against them when an institution prefers to associate with/hire people with whom it has something in common. When you hire someone, are you just looking for a skillset? Or are you looking for someone who fits in to the team? If you have two candidates, one of whom didn't get a single one of your ice-breaking jokes in the interview and with whom you had a cringingly painful and seemingly endless lunch during which you had nothing to discuss, and the other with whom you could discuss a common sport or show or <i>something</i> other than work, which would you take? The fun-killer<fn> with limited ability to integrate socially with your culture? <h>Buy Your Way to Success</h> Speaking of enclaves, there are also those who don't speak the local language in the country in which they're raised. These are not immigrants struggling to integrate, but natives raised in enclaves. Purely observationally, this is in some cases due to deliberate ignorance (e.g. English-speaking ex-pats in European countries). In others, it seems to be due to the window of opportunity for learning a language slamming shut at an early age---often immediately after they've barely learned their mother tongue with a basic vocabulary. The opinion piece <a href="https://blog.usejournal.com/nobody-knows-how-to-learn-a-language-f5e042e73af8" author="Marko Jukic" source="Medium">Nobody Knows How To Learn A Language</a> discusses some of the techniques people use to try to learn a language---none of which work reliably. The only one that works is immersion---a language is something that you can't just purchase. That's what seems to irritate so many people---especially those in cultures like the U.S., which assume that a sufficient quantity of money should suffice to purchase anything the heart wants. If you "want" to know French, then your obscene pile of money should be able to purchase a shortcut for you. If it can't, then that means that no-one's trying hard enough for you and your money. But proficiency in most things requires an investment of time and dedication. There is no shortcut. Do you want to be a programmer? You have to spend years honing your craft. Can you get a job as a programmer without doing so? Sure, you can. Use your money and influence to get a job as a programmer. You're <i>employed</i> as a programmer, but you <i>are not</i> a programmer. You can get away with it as long as your primary audience is in a worse position to judge your proficiency than you are. You can convince people that you know French if no-one knows what French sounds like---you're still going to look like an idiot in France. If nobody above you in your company knows anything about programming, then you're fine with your lie---until someone with actual skills shows up. And, even then, you're most likely more adept at office politics and can get their meddling ass fired before your job is endangered. Sports very much fall into this category. To be proficient, you have to invest time and dedication. You can't just buy the skill. Back to languages, though. The author declares "immersion is a dead-end" when immersion is clearly the only viable solution. It's only a dead-end if you're looking for a nearly risk- or work-free and foolproof way of padding your resume with an extra language for which you have no pressing need other than to get to the next rung in the corporate ladder. Why would that help? Because the idiots who decide who goes up the ladder have decided that knowing another language is a sign of sophistication and intelligence and mental flexibility and possibly cultural openness, all of which may be true, but you want to acquire the benefit without the exhausting process of actual becoming more sophisticated or intelligent---because you're already perfect and/or deserving of promotion just for being you, obviously. In a last-ditch attempt, the article suggests a strategy: <bq>For example, why not take the experience of learning your first language and apply it to learning a second one? Everybody, after all, speaks at least one language that is at least somewhat difficult for non-native speakers to learn. Why might learning a new language not just be a repetition of whatever you did when you learned your first language?</bq> Because, you pathetic fool, you learned your first language by immersion and you just declared immersion a dead-end one sentence earlier. The author wraps up by steering people to his homepage where he's selling ideas for how to <i>really</i> learn another language. Sigh. <hr> <ft>I picked up the term "vassal" from Vladimir Putin, as he used it many times in the <i>Putin Interviews</i> (directed by Oliver Stone). He noted that the U.S. wants its allies to act like vassals. That is, it doesn't want equals---it wants vassals, but it wants to be <i>viewed</i> as having allies so that its actions don't appear unilateral, which they are, in reality.</ft> <ft>The oil price has been artificially low---artificial because the fracking boom is a heavily-subsidized bubble that is already deflating rapidly---for years, to the unfortunate (wink) detriment of both Venezuela and Russia, another country with a lot of resources.</ft> <ft>The lovely German word I'd rather have used is "Spassbremse", which translates literally to "fun brake".</ft>