American dreaming

It's incredible that one of the best things you can do in America, which is speed along Mulholland Drive late at night, is free

from Dan O'Sullivan


Jill Lepore: Dystopian fiction’s lack of imagination

Dystopia used to be a fiction of resistance; it’s become a fiction of submission, the fiction of an untrusting, lonely, and sullen twenty-first century, the fiction of [mass media manipulation], the fiction of helplessness and hopelessness. It cannot imagine a better future, and it doesn’t ask anyone to bother to make one. It nurses grievances and indulges resentments; it doesn’t call for courage; it finds that cowardice suffices. Its only admonition is: Despair more. It appeals to both the left and the right, because, in the end, it requires so little by way of literary, political, or moral imagination, asking only that you enjoy the company of people whose fear of the future aligns comfortably with your own. Left or right, the radical pessimism of an unremitting dystopianism has itself contributed to the unravelling of the liberal state and the weakening of a commitment to political pluralism.

From A Golden Age for Dystopian Fiction by Jill Lepore.

In a broader sense, there's nothing to be gained by despairing at the current situation, assigning blame, reacting instead of acting. Create, don’t disparage. Don’t get tangled up in petty debates, have a vision and convince people by laying the groundwork.


What is neoliberalism?

Neoliberalism is a kind of statecraft. It means organizing state policies by making them appear as if they are the consequences of depoliticized financial markets. It involves moving power from public institutions to private institutions, and allowing governance to happen through concentrated financial power. Actual open markets for goods and services tend to disappear in neoliberal societies. Financial markets flourish, real markets morph into mass distribution middlemen like Walmart or Amazon.

[…] [Greta Krippner’s] thesis is that the liberal democratic system was dismantled because it was too explicit about who was making choices. People would get mad at politicians when they didn't have, say, mortgage credit, or when the price of milk went up too high. The answer came to be neoliberalism, or creating a veil of financial markets to make all those decisions seem apolitical. […]

Neoliberalism is not faith in free markets. Neoliberalism is not free market capitalism. Neoliberalism is a specific form of statecraft that uses financial markets as a veil to disguise governing policies.

Matt Stoller trying to define the word everyone tends to project their hate onto.


What else?

[Some dipshit] quits working and writes spammy blog shit for a living. Hackernews decides people don't like to work because all work is either meaningless or evil, but it's definitely everyone else's fault. Also the entire monetary system is worthless, we should envy the impoverished, capitalism will kill us all, and they all quit jobs they loved because someone was mean to them. The unanimous consensus: take a couple years off and just fuck around.

n-gate on 'cutting ties with the evil corporate world and pursuing your passion' types

Traveling, writing, photographing, ESL teaching etc. is just, to borrow the phrase, ‘fucking around’ and will not make a positive impact on the world. Do what makes you happy in your spare time and start shouldering some responsibility.


Heavy rests the crown

Noam Chomsky about the powerful’s infatuation with Niebuhr:

The inescapable “taint of sin on all historical achievements,” the necessity to make “conscious choices of evil for the sake of good”—these are soothing doctrines for those preparing to “face the responsibilities of power,” or in plain English, to set forth on a life of crime, to “play hardball” in their efforts to “maintain this position of disparity” between our overwhelming wealth and the poverty of others, in George Kennan’s trenchant phrase as he urged in a secret document of 1948 that we put aside “idealistic slogans” and prepare “to deal in straight power concepts.” Herein lies the secret of Niebuhr’s enormous influence and success.

From Jeet Heer’s article on Niebuhr ideology



I’ll start this review with a few kind words: At least Leo DiCaprio’s dumb face isn’t in it for once. That’s all the good that can be said about ‘Silence’.

The basic premise is of two young priests searching for their master in 17th-century Japan, eventually bonding with the locals and bringing enlightenment to the supposed savages. With no established background or convincing motivation whatsoever, these two knuckleheads decide on a whim to begin their voyage to a different continent. ‘Cuz Liam Neeson was nice to them once, I guess? Their names are irrelevant, and one of them(I’ll give you a clue, one of ’em ain’t white) is almost immediately forgotten, only to resurface as a prop in a later scene.

There’s a wild-card sidekick who guides them, but then, shocker, betrays Garfield to the local inquisitor. And here comes the real treat: This ‘inkwisitaaah’ and his overbite would have elicited tears of joy from a 1944 American propaganda cartoonist, and that accent… convincing that actor to debase himself that gravely must have eaten up most of the budget, which perhaps is the reason the CGI is such utter shit.

If the movie hadn’t tried to be so sophisticated, it might have gotten away with the shoddy execution. But because Scorsese’s name is on the cover, you are promised some smart and thoughtful two hours. Well though luck, all you get is lingering shots of nothing, way too intense close-ups of Garfield’s face, trying desperately to make you forget he’s essentially a bearded child.

Every single shot could have been ripped out with no discernible consequence. Every single opportunity to salvage the movie is ignored. You’re in Japan, time to show at least some Zen-esthetic shit. Or show the plight, the daily struggle of the villagers instead of having Garfield’s squeaky voice tell us about it.
This movie has a commitment to fuck up every step of the way.

It takes Scorsese over one and a half hours to finally get his pathetic point across: “And in his silence, I heard his voice”, which is an exceedingly pointless statement; even a Jehova’s witness would have laughed you out of court for this. Good, at least the gospel is finally spelt out, time to pack up and go home.
Except, it doesn’t mean shit and Garfield immediately abandons his (carefully constructed) newfound faith and becomes “one of them”.

I can recognize some attempts to insert gravitas into this mess, intentional or not:

  • Towards the end, some amateur-level PSYOPS and kitchen-table psychology gets thrown in. You gotta appreciate the effort to make the villains affably evil. Poisoned lands, nothing grows here, a plant that thrives in one place whithers in another, the usual. I’d have expected more imagination in respect to torture methods; refuse to believe feudal Japan had only those wussy vanilla ones - You got the R rating anyway, so why pussy out? Clearly, Scorsese has a torture fetish, just not the balls to go through with it.
  • You could construe this as a tale of how an unjust system breaks even the purest of minds. Except Garfield possesses not a single shred of willpower, and his captors don’t even really try.
  • The Katana death ended up being quite funny, an interruption of the constant wallowing and pretend seriousness.
  • Some philosophical musings, maybe the message is that the poor village souls need Christianity for daily survival while the uppity city dwellers are better served by Buddhism? But then again, the movie is way too dumb for that intellectual leap

In the end, it’s just gnawing your teeth at the lackluster conclusion. The rest of this is mostly bullet points, because why even bother.

  • A German merchant(?), in addition to whatshisface-Garfield’s whining, out of nowhere, gets to lend his useless voice to narrate the ending. Why? No one knows.
  • The “end of an era” sob story about Christianity vanishing from Japan with the death of the last priest.
  • You realize you’ve wasted almost two hours and still no end in sight.
  • Are they ‘Padres’, ‘Priests’, ‘Jesuits’? Is Buddhism good or bad? Is their goal to find Ferrari McScottish or help the persecuted locals? To spread 'krishtan'? The movie cannot decide on anything.
  • The half-assed history lesson about isolationism, with no attempt to explain or justify the policy.
  • The Jesus/God voice: Subtlety, you fuck, ever heard of it?
  • Making me watch those drawn-out scenes of pain and suffering, but to no point. The villagers’ sacrifices are completely devoid of consequence.
  • Andy Garfield can’t act for shit.
  • The Spanish/Portuguese(can’t remember and again, why bother, it doesn’t matter) characters are played by a goddam yank and some Irish(?) guy. Garfield makes an effort to fake an accent for about five minutes before just giving up.
  • Just because this senile prick picked up a 5$ book in an airport bookstore, thousands of people had to waste their time on making this self-indulgent cheap Passion-of-the-Christ knockoff

Know your target audience. This is a sob story for catholics, but they’re not very heavy on the new testament and no one in Russia or Latin America is going to see this film. It’s not for Europeans either, the Japanese won’t care and it tries to be too didactical for Americans to enjoy it.

There’s so much pandering going on. If you watch these useless children priests and their piss-poor local subordinates and you’re weeping, then you’re a fucking rube.

So, what’s left? Some nice cinematography, but these days any fuckstick with a gopro can make nice-looking moving pictures. I remain astonished that I managed to write this using only four ‘shits’ and six instances of ‘fuck’.


jwz on environmentalism 

If it makes you feel better about yourself, go ahead and let your toilet stink or take shorter showers, but don't pretend that will have any kind of measurable effect. It's nearly as pointless a placebo as separating your trash is. All aggregate personal use can't hope to even compare to what is done at industrial scales. Remember: the damage that BP did in the Gulf every five seconds completely obviated all the recycling you personally ever did in your life.

Jamie Zawinski during the California drought



when you don’t create things, you become defined by your tastes rather than ability. your tastes only narrow & exclude people. so create.

_why the lucky stiff


NSFWLIVE, 15th of Dec 2014 (recap) 


  • Companies that have faltered following Pando or NSFWCORP coverage
  • Bonnaroo
  • Whisper, Secret, Uber, Indiegogo
  • Chris Christie's dealings, Marty 'Mad Dog' Singer
  • The NSFWCORP -> Pando transition/acquisition, the reporting of NSFWCORP alumni for Pando
··•·· and MusicBrainz Picard

Since there wasn't a working one, I wrote a small plugin for picard that automatically fetches album and track information from

Just put it into your plugin directory, and if your tracks have barcode tags, it will do all the magic for you. It currently sets genre, date and vocal(singer/s) metadata, but it can be easily adapted for other fields.

The code is here, including usage instructions.

Update: The plugin has been merged into picard-plugins, which means you should be able to download it directly from the picard website. It should be included in the next release of picard, which will be version 1.4.0.