Reviewing War Is a Racket

“Three steps must be taken to smash the war racket. 1) We must take the profit out of war. 2) We must permit the youth of the land who would bear arms to decide whether or not there should be war. 3) We must limit our military forces to home defense purposes.”

 

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Major General Smedley Butler wrote this work in 1935 after retiring from the United States Marine Corps. It is an expansion of a speech of the same title. Butler, a career military officer served from 1898 until 1931. During his tenure, he received two Medals of Honor, A Marine Corps Brevet Star, an Order of the Black Star and twelve other awards or medals. He was highly praised during his career and upon retiring he became an outspoken critic of the military system.

I am so glad that I was turned onto this book. Having someone so decisively and drastically critique their entire profession is astounding. He examines the way in which the United States wages war and breaks it down into five easy to follow sections. His sarcastic demeanor really adds some personality to this work. His heart is truly in the pages of this book. He sees war as a crime that is paid for by innocents in lives lost and money taken, as the title suggests he compares the war system to organized crime. He is brutally critical of the ‘military-industrial complex’ in a enlightened and refreshing way.  These were some of the best fourteen pages I’ve ever set my eyes on.

This book should be read in every history class. While some of the solutions presented are not the most practical or realistic, it could open a dialogue that could lead to some true answers. I believe that Butler’s wit and candor would really push even the most staunch military supports to reexamine the way in which foreign entanglements are conducted. This work reached fame when published in the Reader’s Digest in the thirties. I would really like to see another major publication take a chance and reprint this. I hope that all my readers will take a minute to enjoy this, I’ve included a link to the PDF here.

 

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“In the World War, we used propaganda to make the boys accept conscription. They were made to feel ashamed if they didn’t join the army.”

 

 

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Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry by downloading his latest e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

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Bored Shenanigans Podcast – Episode 115


This is the after election discussion episode so if you are tired of all that bullshit, skip this one. Maybe there will be another episode at some point for you to listen to instead.

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Welcome to Bored Shenanigans.

Welcome to Episode 115: BS Election

Reviewing The Communist Manifesto

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“The proletarians have nothing to loose but their chains. They have a world to win.”

 

Of everything I’ve read in the Adult Book Reports, this is probably the most notorious. Whether it is looked at as gospel or heresy,this is the book that inspired both revolution and McCarthyism. This is one of those banned books that I’m sure the purchase of puts me on a government watch list. This is Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels most well-known work. This is The Communist Manifesto.

This book was very difficult for me to read objectively.  I am diametrically opposed to almost every idea held within it. I do not believe that private property, free markets, and minimal government are the evils presented in the text. After I was able to disconnect my own personal views with what was presented within the manifesto, I partially understood its appeal. To throw off the oppressive overlords and have working class unite against them. To give the power back to those who sell their labor to merely scratch by. To get away from the oppressive hierarchy and have an equal share. Written in a persuasive and almost motivational manner, this book really pushes its points home through the writing. Marx and Engels obviously are true believers in their dogma and it reverberates throughout the text. They genuinely want everyone to have an equal shot at the surrounding and feel by uniting the downtrodden, this will be achieved.

When originally distributed this was a pamphlet. It is also presented in a way to appeal to the lowest common denominator. The target audience is obviously the poor and uneducated who will tear down the oppressive hierarchy. Those who are underfoot by tyranny will see this as a guiding light and begin to establish the ideas within. Divided into four parts, it can be easily recounted to others and broken down into small blurbs. It is an amazing piece of propaganda on par with something from the Civil Defense Corps or radical religious material. It is a powerful, persuasive and incredibly well-written text. It pushed me to think and examine my own politics, but never in any real way to convert me. If anything, whilst reading this I often found myself questioning the purpose of the state at all. This was an interesting read, if only for its historical significance.  If you feel the need to read this, take it with a grain of salt.

 

 

“WORKING MEN OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!”

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Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry by downloading his latest e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Carl Sagan Day with an Election

It is November 9th and that usually indicates the annual post of it being Carl Sagan Day. But in the light, or lack there of, of resent events and this years political landscape as a whole I am Canceling Carl Sagan Day do to a lack of critical thinking, rationality, and skepticism.

But here is a link to the first years, and here is a link to the second years

“I worry that, especially as the Millennium edges nearer, pseudo-science and superstition will seem year by year more tempting, the siren song of unreason more sonorous and attractive. Where have we heard it before? Whenever our ethnic or national prejudices are aroused, in times of scarcity, during challenges to national self-esteem or nerve, when we agonize about our diminished cosmic place and purpose, or when fanaticism is bubbling up around us-then, habits of thought familiar from ages past reach for the controls. The candle flame gutters. Its little pool of light trembles. Darkness gathers. The demons begin to stir.”

This is not just because of our new president elect but also because of all candidates that made it this far and, particularly, the way it was all handle by the public. Credulity abounded at all sides and when someone finally says the truth it is lost in the chants of rhetoric (which a great leader once said “judge a man by his action not his rhetoric”).

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

Setting aside all policies, Trump would make statement the would challenge the most skilled of contortionist by putting his foot in his mouth while his head was up his ass and gazing at his own navel, patting himself on the back and shrugging all at once. But were, you or I to do that it would be a failing of character but for him it is quote “him telling it like it is” even though the numbers don’t support that. PolitiFact, love or hate them, has evaluated 331 claims by Trump. 70% were found mostly false, false, or pants on fire. Compared to Clinton’s 293 with 26% being some level of false or Obama’s over the course of 8years 596 also at 26% false. This is not an endorsement of them being better choices it is more condemning the lack of accountability or more aptly the wanting there to be and willingness to accept accountability on the claims he made. Johnson and Sanders were nailed to the wall for not being able to back up there more outlandish claims.

“We’ve arranged a global civilization in which the most crucial elements — transportation, communications, and all other industries; agriculture, medicine, education, entertainment, protecting the environment; and even the key democratic institution of voting, profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.”

Scientific American got a list of 20 “refined by a group of scientific institutions representing more than 10 million scientists and engineers” and graded the 4 major candidates with 5 being the most points that could be award (one question was not graded because it was on immigration and they felt if was outside the scope of the magazine to pass judgment on that topic) for a total of 95 points. The scores are as follows Trump 07; Clinton 64; Johnson 30; Stein 44. Now it is not a requirement for a leader to also be phd in the sciences but in a complicated world of climate change, vaccine denialism, and growing reliance on the STEM field it should be a requirement to understand the scientific processes and hold respect for it.

“Those who seek power at any price detect a societal weakness, a fear that they can ride into office. It could be ethnic differences, as it was then [Alien and Sedition Acts], perhaps different amounts of melanin in the skin; different philosophies or religions; or maybe it’s drug use, violent crime, economic crisis, school prayer, or ‘desecrating’ (literally, making unholy) the flag. Whatever the problem, the quick fix is to shave a little freedom off the Bill of Rights.”

Everyone was wiped into a state where the prevailing moods were fear, hatred, adulation, and orgiastic triumph. They all wanted this. Everyone of them. And we all felt it. Trump wanted you to fear and hate foreigners. Clinton wanted it to be Trump. Johnson wanted you to fear government. Sanders the wealthy. Stein…. um… well…. I don’t know want she want… I did not pay that much attention to her… Lets just say it was novelty welcome mats she wants us to fear. It became an election about negatives and differences. No one wanted to lead they wanted to win. So reason had to take a back seat.

“Education on the value of free speech and the other freedoms reserved by the Bill of Rights, about what happens when you don’t have them, and about how to exercise and protect them, should be an essential prerequisite for being an American citizen — or indeed a citizen of any nation, the more so to the degree that such rights remain unprotected. If we can’t think for ourselves, if we’re unwilling to question authority, then we’re just putty in the hands of those in power. But if the citizens are educated and form their own opinions, then those in power work for us. In every country, we should be teaching our children the scientific method and the reasons for a Bill of Rights. With it comes a certain decency, humility and community spirit. In the demon-haunted world that we inhabit by virtue of being human, this may be all that stands between us and the enveloping darkness.”

Carl Sagan mainly stuck to science and skepticism in his writing and tried to inspire a sense of wonderment in the grand future we could have. But occasionally he would turn the themes of critical thinking towards politics and the best example I can think of is his book ‘Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark‘. (Which I have it on good authority if you google it followed by ‘pdf’ you can find it to read for free). Now, sadly I have not reread it recently so I can’t call this a full BS Adult Book Report but for this special purpose I should be fine. If you are going to read one book from Carl Sagan or on the topic of skepticism or science communication this is the one. In it he goes through how we know what we know in science and more importantly how to detect when someone is trying to deceive us with false science. It also talks about why people are willing to believe in weird things and how they get deceived and not in a negative way. A basic primer on skepticism. It, though prone to tangents at times, is not written for a science major or someone in the deep end of skeptic moment. It is for the beginner and has enough topics for you to find one of interest for you. But also, he takes the time to explain why all of it is important, not just personally, but to a nation and world as a whole and that is were the political and social studies comes from. In it he speaks highly of the Founding Fathers particularly Thomas Jefferson, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. He thinks leaders should be intelligent and the citizens should be even more so and I can’t disagree with that. He also thinks our freedom our constantly under the assault of be removed, either by those seeking power for powers sake or by those seeking to profit through tricking us, I also cant disagree with that. And his solution is simple and obvious after all of this: just be aware.

We have failed Carl Sagan. We are letting the candle burn out and the cold, unforgiving dark creep in. People are distrusting science and letting the comforting myths of old sink in. It is almost a joke but there are people in the first world that believe in a flat earth and there is no excuse for that. The “religion of nationalism” has taken holed were a political party is more important than political good. But there is time turn back. And we can’t predict the future. Maybe it is not as bad as it seems and we will have a great next 4 years. Only time will tell. Maybe it was all a ploy to shine a light on how easy it is to be deceived (please, please let it be that…..) I will leave with a few more quotes from Demon-Haunted World that I find appropriate but could not find a place for otherwise. 

“I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…”

“When we consider the founders of our nation: Jefferson, Washington, Samuel and John Adams, Madison and Monroe, Benjamin Franklin, Tom Paine and many others; we have before us a list of at least ten and maybe even dozens of great political leaders. They were well educated. Products of the European Enlightenment, they were students of history. They knew human fallibility and weakness and corruptibility. They were fluent in the English language. They wrote their own speeches. They were realistic and practical, and at the same time motivated by high principles. They were not checking the pollsters on what to think this week. They knew what to think. They were comfortable with long-term thinking, planning even further ahead than the next election. They were self-sufficient, not requiring careers as politicians or lobbyists to make a living. They were able to bring out the best in us. They were interested in and, at least two of them, fluent in science. They attempted to set a course for the United States into the far future — not so much by establishing laws as by setting limits on what kinds of laws could be passed. The Constitution and its Bill of Rights have done remarkably well, constituting, despite human weaknesses, a machine able, more often than not, to correct its own trajectory.”

Ryan S. Brewer is the co-host and editor of the Bored Shenanigans podcast (when he releases one) available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of Brewer’s Shitty Writing very sporadically here or as episode descriptions. Also he has nothing else to enjoy anywhere else, but you can find Cody’s poetry blog here  or download his e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or the Faceyspace. 

Rip Van Winkle Review

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Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle is embedded deeply in the fabric of American culture. Along with Johnny Appleseed, Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill, this character has been referenced in popular media for nearly two centuries. This story takes place during the time of the American Revolutionary War and follows a man after he drinks some home brewed liquor from a mysterious stranger and awakens eighteen years later.

The changes experienced by the protagonist during a relatively short period of time are cataclysmic. The status of the world he knew is spun out of control. He is forced to quickly try to understand the manner in which his surroundings had changed. In short order, he learns his wife had died, his friends are gone and his children are adults. Along with these revelations, he is also declared a traitor as he supports the government that he knew to be in power.

This story plays on your emotions and you see the drastic shift Van Winkle must digest. Though the evidence is there, he has difficulty accepting how different everything is. He has missed multiple family moments and memories, time forgot him. Van Winkle must also digest the stigma of his own reputation. Having just disappeared without explanation his family and neighbors assumed thought the worst of him for almost two decades.

The most enjoyable part of this story is easily the political implications. The average man, ignorant to current events unknowingly supporting the former regime is met with violent rebuke. The idea that in a few years, someone can shift from a loyal patriot to an enemy is fascinating. It further highlights the consequences of having missed so much in a short period of time. This forces the reader to capitalize on the time they have and not waste it. Irving does an excellent job pushing so much thought into such a short story. This is well worth your time clocking in at under thirty minutes, it is deserving of reading and continual adaptations.

 

 

 

Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans pod cast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his work here. Also enjoy his poetry blog here  or download his e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

 

My Problems With Net Neutrality

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Congratulations, we all fell for it.  With websites from here, there and all over pleading for us to support Net Neutrality. Politicians and news anchors clamored that this is a much needed regulation. Well it’s official as of June 16th, the FCC Net Neutrality agreement was upheld in Federal Appeals Court. We all win, the Internet is no longer a luxury, it is now regulated as a utility. We can binge watch YouTube and Hulu without interrupted streams.

Net Neutrality was upheld as part of Title II of the Federal Communications Act of 1934. This act was originally designed around phone lines that transports only one type of data. Since the Internet moves so many types of data, to restrict everything on the same plateau eliminates the quality of service currently used. Restricting internet service providers in this way eliminates their ability to offer multiple speeds for their customers and removes the opportunity for them to prioritize the available assets as needed. This will force smaller service providers to new standards they may not be able to handle and regulates ISPs business models in a way that will make it harder to serve their customers.

The implications of how Net Neutrality will impact Internet users is important. These includes the Internet being subject to regulation by the Federal Communications Commission. The truest form of deregulated media may be a thing of the past. Independent content creators could potentially be fined or subject to the current regulations of terrestrial broadcasts.  Another implication of Net Neutrality is having service providers submit how their data is being dispersed and that it is being done according to this agreement. While I know that the Congressional push back has been against the violation of privacy, I am more worried about the cost involved. The expansion of administration or the creation of some agency to ensure that the dictums are met . Regardless, we will all pay for this. An additional concern is that Title II allows regulated utilities to be put under Eminent Domain.

Net Neutrality is unnecessary and overreaching. It chokes the free market and will only cost more money to everyone involved. From businesses to Internet users to taxpayers. Through the use of misleading language, this act will be harmful long term. I oppose this entire thing and I hope that it will be appealed in the Supreme Court. Ideally, this is something that will go away, but my gut feeling is it will haunt Americans the way the Patriot Act has.

Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans pod cast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his work here. Also enjoy his poetry blog here  or download his e-book hereBe sure to follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

 

Quick, Everyone Chime In!

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The tragic part of a tragedy is the victims seem to take second place. Nobody really gives a fuck about those affected. Sure, we all feign solidarity, we all wish well, political figures stand in front of podiums and make claims and legislation. Leaders of communities demand action for whatever has happened all the while those who really suffer seem to get lost in the shuffle.

The incident in Orlando has saturated conversations, social media, and all forms of news. Things like this just magnify everyone’s agenda. These things just make people do more of whatever they do. Whatever sacred cow those people or agencies possess, they just do more of that. Anti groups do more of that, disenfranchised groups push to be more accepted, all members of a certain faith are expected to answer for the actions of one individual and any number of other assemblage condemn or begin to fight for their own agenda. Not to mention the multitude of radical fringe organization that will condone the architects of the tragedy.

I can’t claim perfection, I have dabbled in hindsight just as much as everyone else. I have piggy backed on travesties for the sake of proving a point. If only this or if only that, the situation could have been different. I’ve encouraged people to read these statistics and facts that reflect my opinions and beliefs.

During this cavalcade of lobbying and motive pushing people still are suffering. Families, friends and those directly impacted are experiencing unfathomable loss. They are not comforted or allowed to grieve in peace. Their own personal hell is analyzed into a million of “what if?” scenarios. When lives are taken, we owe it to one another to find a solution to the problem. Not the kind of solution that pushes legislation, reinterprets laws and ultimately limits freedoms.

The focus during some type of disaster should be far more introspective. We need a renaissance that allows us to mourn the dead and comfort their families simply because it is the right thing to do. To objectively look at the situation and find a way to teach the next generation that hate only causes problems, it never solves them. We need to foster an environment where differences are tolerated and critical thinking is promoted. More than anything, we need to stop making reactionary judgments and instead just try to be better people.

 

 

 

Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans pod cast. See more of his work here. Also enjoy his poetry blog here  or download his e-book here.