Tuesday, September 20, 2016

SUGGESTED READING LIST ~ SEPTEMBER 20, 2016


1. Decreasingly right-wing gay Catholic media gadfly Andrew Sullivan has penned a thoughtful, engaging piece for New York Magazine going over some of the darker aspects of his experiences with social media over the years. I found it sufficiently reminiscent of my own experiences to be troubled by it, and to want to share it with you, the few dozen people who read this blog on a regular basis, because I think y'all might get something out of it. Sullivan begins:
I was sitting in a large meditation hall in a converted novitiate in central Massachusetts when I reached into my pocket for my iPhone. A woman in the front of the room gamely held a basket in front of her, beaming beneficently, like a priest with a collection plate. I duly surrendered my little device, only to feel a sudden pang of panic on my way back to my seat. If it hadn’t been for everyone staring at me, I might have turned around immediately and asked for it back. But I didn’t. I knew why I’d come here. 
A year before, like many addicts, I had sensed a personal crash coming. For a decade and a half, I’d been a web obsessive, publishing blog posts multiple times a day, seven days a week, and ultimately corralling a team that curated the web every 20 minutes during peak hours. Each morning began with a full immersion in the stream of internet consciousness and news, jumping from site to site, tweet to tweet, breaking news story to hottest take, scanning countless images and videos, catching up with multiple memes. Throughout the day, I’d cough up an insight or an argument or a joke about what had just occurred or what was happening right now. And at times, as events took over, I’d spend weeks manically grabbing every tiny scrap of a developing story in order to fuse them into a narrative in real time. I was in an unending dialogue with readers who were caviling, praising, booing, correcting. My brain had never been so occupied so insistently by so many different subjects and in so public a way for so long. 
I was, in other words, a very early adopter of what we might now call living-in-the-web. And as the years went by, I realized I was no longer alone. Facebook soon gave everyone the equivalent of their own blog and their own audience. More and more people got a smartphone — connecting them instantly to a deluge of febrile content, forcing them to cull and absorb and assimilate the online torrent as relentlessly as I had once. Twitter emerged as a form of instant blogging of microthoughts. Users were as addicted to the feedback as I had long been — and even more prolific. Then the apps descended, like the rain, to inundate what was left of our free time. It was ubiquitous now, this virtual living, this never-stopping, this always-updating. I remember when I decided to raise the ante on my blog in 2007 and update every half-hour or so, and my editor looked at me as if I were insane. But the insanity was now banality; the once-unimaginable pace of the professional blogger was now the default for everyone. 
If the internet killed you, I used to joke, then I would be the first to find out. Years later, the joke was running thin. In the last year of my blogging life, my health began to give out. Four bronchial infections in 12 months had become progressively harder to kick. Vacations, such as they were, had become mere opportunities for sleep. My dreams were filled with the snippets of code I used each day to update the site. My friendships had atrophied as my time away from the web dwindled. My doctor, dispensing one more course of antibiotics, finally laid it on the line: “Did you really survive HIV to die of the web?”
Continue reading at New York Magazine.


2. Let's go ahead and give this edition of the Daily Dirt Diaspora's Suggested Reading List a decidedly schizophrenic bent by having our second offering highlight something absolutely wonderful about new media and the internet: namely that we live at a time when wisdom such as that which Terence McKenna had to offer can be shared freely with whoever wants to hear it. Listen to this substantial, substantive podcast in order to hear one of the great teachers of our beleaguered age tell you such things as:
What psychedelics are about is deconditioning all of these culturally induced, sensory biases and ideological biases, basically it reshuffles the intellectual and sensory deck. And it’s a wonderful, salutary thing to come along for Western culture at this moment because we’re basically running out of intellectual steam. Technology is moving ahead lickety split without looking over its shoulder, but our social systems, our religious ontologies, our theories of polity, city planning, community, resource sharing, all of this is 19th Century at best. And so, really whether we live or perish as a species probably has to do with how much consciousness we can raise from any source available.
And this:
If consciousness is not part of our future then what kind of future can it be?
And this:
Culture is an intelligence test.
And also this:
I like to think that the psychedelic community has always been a source of visionary common sense because the psychedelic community, generally speaking, has not generated ideology.
And, finally, a bit of hope at this horrifying time in our history:
I think primates are most interesting when cornered.
Let's hope he's right about that. Listen to the podcast for tons more provocative, enlightening statements and interactions with his live studio audience. Then go out and listen to more McKenna podcasts, watch his videos, and read his goddamn books. He was a real treasure, and we lost him far too soon.

3. Guess who's back? Yes friends, that's right... outspoken liberal rage-monster Keith Olbermann has returned from exile after being fired from the ostensibly "liberal" MSNBC while at the top of that organ's ratings - the same fate that befell fellow progressive Phil Donahue, interestingly enough - this time, as a "special correspondent" for GQ Magazine's online multi-media platform. And his debut video is a fuckin' doozy. I sure dug it, in all its overblown, semi-exaggerated, and yet still all-too-horrifyingly-true glory, and I imagine most of you will appreciate it, too.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

MEDIAVORE~FILM: BULLET REVIEWS


DE PALMA ~ A documentary about filmmaker Brian De Palma in which the man himself takes us through his career, film by film, from its intriguing beginnings, through his tenure as one of the 70's wunderkinds alongside Speilberg, Lucas, Scorcese and the rest, through his time as Hollywood's most productive controversialist, with the occasional bypass into blockbuster-land, up to the present day. If you're already a fan, this film will delight you. If you aren't, this film might convert you. At the very least, you'll walk away with a bunch of new movies you'll be wanting to see. Highly recommended!


MILES AHEAD ~ Don Cheadle stars as Miles Davis in a somewhat entertaining but ultimately poorly conceived heist film, which is a terrible, confusing waste, because Cheadle actually makes for a very convincing Miles Davis. The producers' excuse, apparently, was that they didn't have sufficient budget to make a biopic worthy of the jazz titan's life and legacy, so they decided to make the kind of streetwise crime flick that Miles was known to be a fan of. Which is all well and good, but as I watched, even while I was occasionally entertained, I couldn't help but shake my head at the squandered potential of the thing. Your mileage may vary.


THE IMITATION GAME ~ There may very well be a way to make the complex, intriguing, tragic life of landmark computing philosophy pioneer Alan Turing into a riveting cinematic experience. Unfortunately, the people behind this Benedict Cumberbatch vehicle were not made privy to it before making this ever so British "date night" confection, which is far more reminiscent of The King's Speech than any film other than The King's Speech has any right to be. In case you're wondering, Oscars be damned, that is NOT a good thing.


THE UNKNOWN KNOWN ~ Errol Morris is one of America's most acclaimed documentarians, and his 2003 Robert McNamara documentary The Fog of War could very well be his finest work to date. That film is almost like a university level political science course boiled down to a 107 minute documentary. While watching 2013's The Unknown Known, I couldn't help but think he was going for a repeat performance, but just as Donald Rumsfeld is no Robert McNamara, The Unknown Known is no Fog of War. Whereas McNamara was a thoughtful, philosophical, forthcoming interview subject who was genuinely interested in getting at some semblance of truth at the core of the mess that is the historical record, Rumsfeld seems all too comfortable taking cover in the smothering swirl of confusion choking America's recent past like a shroud - a confusion that he, himself, was instrumental in creating. I have read some reviews that call The Unknown Known a horror movie of sorts, with Rumsfeld playing the role of the monster. His weirdly disconcerting laugh, his reptilian smirk, his self-satisfied sophistry (none of which is as clever as he seems to think it is) all combine to make for an altogether unwholesome package, void of revelation or any sort of satisfaction. In short, Rumsfeld: 1, Morris: 0, which has to stand as a minor tragedy of sorts.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

LEMONS FOR EVERYONE, BY TRANS LOVE AIRWAYS

I don't know what it's going to take for me to convince you that my friend Steve Banks (peace be upon him) wrote, and his band Trans Love Airways performed, the single greatest Canadian rock song of all time. So I guess I'll just keep trying to educate you fools. I mean, just listen to that song. And then just look at that video's play count. Does that seem at all logical to you?!

Monday, September 5, 2016

NEW FILM SPARKS OSCAR BUZZ FOR “RAPED BY A PACK OF NIGGERS” STAR


Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge, which recently premiered at the Venice International Film Festival, is a taut, effective combat drama set in World War II, one of the many wars which Gibson blames on “the fucking Jews”, who also - as Gibson has expended a great deal of time, energy, and money to make sure the world never forgets - are the same people who killed Jesus Christ.

Hacksaw Ridge is the first movie Gibson has directed since Apocalypto, which came out right around the time he called the female officer arresting him for drunk driving “sugar tits” and correctly identified her partner as being a member of the Jewish race, all before threatening: “I will fuck you. I own Malibu.” 

It’s the true story of Desmond Doss, the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor, and a man who probably never would have dreamed of physically assaulting his girlfriend, calling her a “bitch”/“whore”/“cunt”/“pig in heat”, saying that he hopes she gets “raped by a pack of niggers”, then threatening to rape her, himself, before burning her house down.

The question of whether or not a filmmaker’s personal behavior should influence critics’ opinions of their films isn’t an easy one to answer. Just ask Frank Rich, whose critical take on The Passion of The Christ led Gibson to publicly declare: “I want to kill him. I want his intestines on a stick. I want to kill his dog.”

Hacksaw Ridge reaches theaters in November, when studios typically release the films that they believe have a good chance of scoring an Academy Award. It remains to be seen whether or not Gibson’s history of controversial public statements will affect the judgement of AMPAS' voting members, a demographic heavily weighted not just with Jesus-killers, but also with men who “take it up the ass”, an orifice which Gibson has publicly stated should be reserved “only for taking a shit.”

On the plus side for Gibson, however, the Academy’s ranks number hardly any “wetbacks” at all.

Friday, September 2, 2016

SUGGESTED READING LIST ~ SEPTEMBER 2, 2016


1. I usually don't like posting to our old pal David Cole Stein's Taki's Mag pieces, preferring to link to his personal site, instead. But his latest piece on the current Trolls and True Believers crisis plaguing pop conservatism is just too good not to draw your attention to. It begins:
I’ll just come right out and say it—in my column two weeks ago, in which I interviewed three well-known Trump diehards—I straight-out lied to my readers. But I am coming clean. One of my interview subjects, Margaret MacLennan, had recently left her position as director of Milo Yiannopoulos’ “privilege grant” (the scholarship program for “white men who wish to pursue their post-secondary education on equal footing with their female, queer and ethnic minority classmates”). In my column, I stated that I had no idea why Milo and Margaret ended their partnership. In fact, I knew exactly why, and I’d known the truth for a good three months, but I had to pretend that I didn’t, in order to keep a confidence. 
The actual story behind the breakup is not only interesting but rather instructive at this moment in time, so I’m glad it broke on its own the week my column posted, as the process of sitting on it for so long was starting to give me a mightily sore ass. And what a great segue to Milo. You see, it turns out there are a few improprieties regarding the money the self-proclaimed “dangerous faggot” raised for the “grant” program. As in, somewhere in the neighborhood of $350,000 seems to have vanished. ... 
Well, damn, if you can’t trust a contemptuous, publicity-seeking, sociopathic narcissist who indulges in every opportunity to publicly proclaim his love of “black dick,” who can you trust?
 Damn, Dave! That's saucier than the tablecloth at the local Buffalo Wings emporium after yours truly is finished one of my marathon suicide-by-hot-wings sessions! And the way you bring it all back around to how Trump has been strumming his constituency like a well-tuned harp from the get-go? Well, that's just the chunky deluge of blue cheese dressing that drenches my labored analogy to gluttonous completion. Kudos, old pal... Kudos.


2. What do you get when you stick some of the conspiracy world's biggest celebrities and their die-hard fans on a cruise ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for a week? Some fascinating insight into our strange times. And one near fistfight. Author Bronwen Dickey's article for Popular Mechanics (yes, I know, they're amongst the shilliest shills in all of shilldom) begins thusly:
It was a bit after seven, and I should have been downstairs on Plaza Deck, dressed in formal attire and enjoying dinner with the conspiracy theorists. There were about a hundred of them, and they were nearing the end of their week—the last week in January—aboard the Ruby Princess. Many of them were older people, and each of them had paid $3,000 (not including airfare and beverages on board) to participate in the first-ever Conspira-Sea Cruise, a weeklong celebration of "alternative science" hosted by a tour company called Divine Travels. For the past five days, they had debated UFOs, GMOs, government mind-control programs, vaccines, chemtrails, crop circles, and the Illuminati's plan for world domination, all while soaking up the mystical energies of three Mexican tourist towns known mainly for wet T-shirt contests and Señor Frog's.

But I was not on Plaza Deck. I was locked in my stateroom on Baja Deck, picking at a room-service cheeseburger. Earlier that afternoon, a pair of Conspira-Sea presenters had chased me—chased me—from a conference room. This wasn't our first confrontation, and now I feared they were tracking me around the ship, waiting to spring out from blind corners and empty doorways. 
Understand that I don't consider myself the paranoid type. Although when I had come across the Conspira-Sea Cruise on a science blog a few months earlier, I'd known I wanted to go, but not because I fear dark forces are out to get me. I used to love The X-Files, and the prospect of discussing Roswell and JFK over piña coladas sounded like fun. So did getting to know some devoted conspiracy wonks. Wondering whether the world is actually as it seems is a uniquely American sport, and there's plenty of evidence that's worth wondering about—this is the country of Watergate and the Tuskegee experiments and the NSA tapping your phone.

But the Ruby Princess was no place for casual wonderers. The Ruby Princess was for people who scraped together three grand to be reassured that their fears and suspicions and theories aren't the lonely fever dreams of basement-dwelling outcasts, that those fears and suspicions are valid, and that others share them. It would be like a weeklong, in-person internet chat room.

At this point, those of you who've been reading my humble typings over the past decade and a half might be wondering "But Jerky! Old pal! Don't you fancy yourself a bit of a conspiracy theorist?" As a matter of fact, old pal, I kind of do. Lately, however, I've been so disgusted by the dis-and-misinformation-spewing antics of Alex "False Flaggot" Jones and his patently dishonest, obviously contemptible, dangerously idiotic ilk, that I have found myself backing away from the label that I once wore with pride. To this day, I still consider myself more of a Carl Oglesby type conspiracy guy, and less of a David Icke (or Duke) conspiracy type guy. To my reckoning, the InfoWarriors and Rensers and Red Icers, who believe nothing except the polar opposite of whatever the dreaded "lamestream news" reports, are among the woolliest sheeple of them all.

3. And along comes Tim Heidecker, of Tim and Eric infamy, to take the alt.right's most cutting insult - "CUCK", a neologism which just so happens to be the single creation about which they are most (and most vocally) proud - and flip it around, judo-style, exposing the utter bankruptcy of that movement's much heralded "sense of humor".  There is only one legitimately funny alt.right comedy outlet, and we'll be discussing them more in the next installment of the DDD's Suggested Reading List. In the meantime... ENJOY!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

NEW BOOK EXPLORES A FASCINATING ASPECT OF CONTEMPORARY COMICS


Thanks to a recommendation from the ever-awesome comics legend Stephen Bissette, yours truly has been made aware of a new book exploring one of the more salutary developments in contemporary comicdom: the explosion, and ongoing influence, of ground-breaking, formula-exploding, taboo-shattering writers from the British Isles.

The book has a rather unwieldy title - The British Invasion: Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, and the Invention of the Modern Comic Book Writer - but don't let that deter you. As Bissette declared in a recent Facebook post: "it's a pretty brilliant book and spot-on. ... I can honestly say Greg's not only done his homework, he's synthesized it all into a concise, involving, flowing read that's so true to the experience of those years ... that I'm getting sensory flashbacks at times ... RECOMMENDED!"

I've gone ahead and ordered a copy for myself, and I'd love it if some of you did the same, so we could do some kind of book club type thing together and discuss it in a forum I'll create for us on Facebook.

If you're in the USA, kindly order your copy from this link, which will result in a few shekels being dropped into yer old pal Jerky's beggin' cup. Meanwhile, if you currently reside in the howling wilds of Canada, then kindly use this link, as I have recently fixed it so that my affiliate program works there now, too! I went through a bit of a hassle to arrange for this, so PLEASE, if you're gonna order this book, order it through my affiliate links!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

SUGGESTED READING LIST ~ AUGUST 22, 2016


1. It should come as no surprise that the growing cohort of conservative movementarians trying to promote the "Cultural Marxism" conspiracy theory haven't got the first fucking clue what they're yammering about. But in case you've recently bumped into said aberrant ideation and were curious as to what all the hubbub was about, why not check out what an actual, bona fide Marxist has to say about the subject? Michael Acuña begins his excellent analytical and historical overview thusly:

Across the paleoconservative blogosphere, on every “libertarian” forum and racist webpage, a strange concept is faulted for the turmoil witnessed in North America and Europe today, as well as for the alleged breakdown of Western social mores. ‘Cultural Marxism’ is the name these courageous right-wing dissidents have assigned this corrosive force. 
So what exactly is cultural Marxism and how is it that so many ostensibly capitalist societies haven fallen victim to it? The narrative varies depending on the political leaning of the individual disseminating it, but its standard rendition is as follows: a sect of European intellectuals, disillusioned by the failure of orthodox Marxist parties to mobilize the proletariat into conflict with the bourgeoisie, came to the conclusion that the original Marxist formulation was incorrect. Western workers simply possessed too conservative a disposition for communism’s egalitarian rhetoric to appeal to them. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’s dialectical theory of capitalism’s internal contradictions generating a qualitatively higher mode of production—communism—was flawed. There were ideological obstacles preventing the economic synthesis from being realized. The solution to Marxism’s theoretical errors these thinkers arrived at was to replace class as the locus of struggle with culture. In other words, the traditional Marxist Klassenkampf was to be entirely replaced by a neo-Marxist Kulturkampf. 
These men, many of whom were psychoanalysts of Jewish descent (a fact of particular interest to fascists), came to be known as the ‘Frankfurt school’ due to their affiliation with the Institute for Social Research at Goethe University, located in Frankfurt, Germany. The subversive ideas this faction of assorted academicians and literati conjured up had a profound effect on Western intellectuals and eventually infected the minds of North America’s and Europe’s cultural elite via university indoctrination, the story goes on, thereby leading to the liberal social movements and various projects of social engineering observed today, e.g., feminism, LGBTQ rights, multiculturalism, and political correctness. To quote the late conservative political commentator Andrew Breitbart:
"We can call it cultural Marxism, but at the end of the day, we experience it on a day to day basis. By that I mean, a minute by minute, second by second basis. It’s political correctness and it’s multiculturalism." 
But how well does this chilling tale conform to reality? Not very. However, before describing the actual causes of the social maladies certain conservatives impute to ‘cultural Marxism,’ I believe it would be instructive to trace the origins of this conspiracy theory; for, in so doing, we shall discover that it is little more than the latest iteration of the right-wing’s ceaseless Red Scare effort. 
Let us begin at the beginning, with Karl Marx himself...
What follows is a carefully constructed, engagingly written, and convincingly definitive account of this patently ridiculous, reactionary meme. Also, be sure to read through the voluminous comments section, where Acuña makes a good faith effort to patiently engage with and educate an alt.right True Believer. The latter's increasingly desperate flailing in the face of an ideological opponent whose knowledge and basic intelligence so obviously eclipse his own comes close to being as revealing about the insidious core of the Current Crisis as Acuña's essay, itself.



2. Ladies and gentlemen, take a firm grip on your favorite religious fetish object, apply a fresh coating of drool-repellent aerosol spray on your anti-nightmare body pillow, and enter the world of DINILD TRIMP! Don't say I didn't try to warn you.


3. This one goes out to all my dungeon crawlin' homies. Whaddaya think, boys? Would our weekend-long sessions of AD&D have been more enjoyable if one of us had invested in a half-acre sized replica of the pseudo-medieval worlds of our vivid, sex-starved, teen-aged imaginations? I dunno... maybe yes, maybe no. Sure is impressive, though...

Sunday, August 14, 2016

SUGGESTED READING LIST ~ AUGUST 14, 2016


1. The New York Times Review of Books project/article entitled "Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart" - at upwards of 40,000 words in five chapters, it's really more of a free book than an article - is an amazingly civic-minded gift to the people of the United States and, indeed, the world at large. Editor Jake Silverstein explains:
This is a story unlike any we have previously published. It is much longer than the typical New York Times Magazine feature story; in print, it occupies an entire issue. The product of some 18 months of reporting, it tells the story of the catastrophe that has fractured the Arab world since the invasion of Iraq 13 years ago, leading to the rise of ISIS and the global refugee crisis. The geography of this catastrophe is broad and its causes are many, but its consequences — war and uncertainty throughout the world — are familiar to us all. Scott Anderson’s story gives the reader a visceral sense of how it all unfolded, through the eyes of six characters in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan. Accompanying Anderson’s text are 10 portfolios by the photographer Paolo Pellegrin, drawn from his extensive travels across the region over the last 14 years, as well as a landmark virtual-reality experience that embeds the viewer with the Iraqi fighting forces during the battle to retake Falluja. 
It is unprecedented for us to focus so much energy and attention on a single story, and to ask our readers to do the same. We would not do so were we not convinced that what follows is one of the most clear-eyed, powerful and human explanations of what has gone wrong in this region that you will ever read.
Would it be overly dramatic to suggest that anyone who wishes to be well informed about the current realpolitik owes it to himself and to his fellow countrymen to not only read this thing from beginning to end, but also to get as many of his friends and neighbors to do so, as well? If so, so be it. I stand by that statement, and urge you all to read and share and help to spread.


2. Mark Ames, one of the intrepid sleuths behind NSFWCORP.com, has dug up a fascinating historical document: a Koch-funded article for REASON Magazine that purports to teach far-right "libertarians" how to woo (i.e. trick) liberals and lefties into coming over to their cause! It begins:
I wouldn't be the first to point out how embarrassingly easy it has been for rancid Koch libertarian front groups to convince those on the Left that they are all on the same team. As Salon writer Tom Watson wrote, the event is "fatally compromised by the prominent leadership and participation of the Libertarian Party and other libertarian student groups [who stand] in direct opposition to almost everything I believe in as a social democrat." 
What hasn't been revealed until now, however, is how the libertarians got so good at fooling their lefty marks. For that you have to look back 35 years, to an amazing series of articles in the Koch brothers' REASON magazine in which prominent libertarians lay out to a new generation of followers a playbook of "tricks" to fool earnest leftists, liberals and hippies into supporting their cause. 
If you really believe that these events are about promoting freedom and humanitarianism, you're going to be even more disturbed by what libertarians had to say about conning liberals in their more unguarded moments, before their "tricks" worked and they were able to pull off these big DC "strange bedfellows" events like clockwork. 
One of the most shocking strategy articles comes in a REASON article headlined "Marketing Libertarianism" written by Moshe Kroy, and published in the February 1977 issue.
The article is chock-a-block with eyebrow-raising admissions and nakedly mercenary libertarian evangelism of the type anyone unlucky enough to have ever had a friend going through an Ayn Rand phase will be all too familiar with. It's also pretty hilarious. Highly recommended!

*** 

3. There's trolling, there's epic trolling... and then there's Sam Hyde. The jagged, Satanic wit behind much of the more "problematic" output of Million Dollar Extreme - arguably the most potent comedic trio to emerge since the passing of The Three Stooges - delights in sowing confusion and discord wherever he goes, perhaps never so much so as when he posed as a finagled his way onto the stage at a TEDx event at Drexel University last year. His performance has become the stuff of legend, and with good reason. If you haven't seen it yet, what are you waiting for? Watch it here, now.

Friday, July 22, 2016

JOHN STEWART HIJACKS COLBERT'S LATE SHOW AND... WOW.

Sit back, get comfortable, and prepare to enjoy a nice thick slice of muscular liberal satire. 


SUGGESTED READING LIST ~ JULY 22, 2016


1. It's been over a week since an abortive coup attempt appeared to take place in the strategically pivotal nation of Turkey, and even though increasingly disturbing developments have been taking place on a seemingly hourly basis ever since, we still essentially don't know shit about what really happened.

Upon first learning of the coup, I took to Facebook to state my belief that not all democracies are equally democratic, and not all military coups are equally militaristic. I wrote that we might all soon be wishing that the Turkish coup had succeeded, and that all that was left to do was wait and see. 

Today, even some of the most mainstream journalistic sources are open to the possibility that President Erdogan and his increasingly tyrannical AK Party cronies launched this deadly, false flag coup themselves, in order to manufacture a pretext for a speeding up of their ongoing crackdown on any dissent or opposition, no matter how slight. 

Of course, the ever growing chorus of Vladimir Putin fanboys in the "alternative" news media are having none of it; for them, the failed coup was obviously launched by Americans terrified of the recent Russo-Turkish detente.

In any case, if you'd like to learn more about exiled Turkish billionaire cleric Fethullah Gulen - the man whom Erdogan and his cronies are accusing of being behind the coup - check out this mini-dossier I wrote on the subject over at our sister blog, Useless Eater, over five years ago. Tuns out it's still relevant!


2. Speaking of coups, counter-coups, and questionable parapolitical shenanigans, have you ever wondered what a humour-impaired Communist cultural critic might think of Star Wars? It starts off, as all good pseudo-intellectual takes on Star Wars must, with an explanation of Joseph Campbell's highly influential theory of the "monomyth", before proceeding thusly:
But all this assumes that Campbell’s story really is universal and absolute, something that precedes culture and ideology. Which it isn’t: it’s the product of an antisemite’s ecumenicalism, the kind of syncretic cultural milkshake that Umberto Eco describes as the first condition of fascism. 
Look at the Rebel Alliance in Star Wars, really look at them, and try to see anything like a radically democratic revolution against tyranny. What is the class composition of these rebels? Of the ones we know, there’s one member of a hereditary royal family, one petty criminal, one former ruler of a privately owned city, and one adopted child of rural landowners (and, possibly, slaveholders) who is also the scion to an ancient religious order of aristocratic knights. 
At the start of A New Hope, we hear that the Alliance has growing support within the Imperial Senate, and Imperial Senates aren’t usually very fond of proper revolutionaries. Consider the Alliance’s tactics. Every time we meet the rebels, they have built themselves a base on some deserted planet, where they’re stockpiling heavy arms. 
As any good student of Mao knows, a revolutionary movement can only succeed if it wins the trust of the people; holding territory is a game played by the State, not those trying to overthrow it. We never see the rebels being sheltered from Stormtroopers by grateful peasants (while they do ally with the Ewoks, it’s with a fully colonial sense of entitlement); we never see Alliance propaganda being passed around in secret by the oppressed; we never see any indication that this armed faction has any kind of popular mandate whatsoever. It’s not just infantile bourgeois ultraleftism — Blanquism in space. 
At the end of The Empire Strikes Back, we see for the first time a full Rebel Alliance fleet; vast blobby spaceships to rival the Empire’s. Aren’t warships expensive? Who’s funding these people? Consider that when we see that fleet, it’s positioned outside the Galaxy. There’s a name for groups like the Rebel Alliance. Not freedom fighters, but Contras, right-wing death squads.

Fun stuff, n'est ce pas? And if you thought the above was goofy, just wait until you get to the part where the author, Sam Kriss, declares his preference for the sequel trilogy!


3. And lastly for today, I am pleased to announce that the most brilliant satirical mind of the "fin de millennium" media milieu is, at long last, working on a new project: his second full-length film, after 2010's excellent and tragically under-appreciated Islamic terrorism satire, Four Lions. No word yet on the topic, but considering Morris' track record, it's pretty much guaranteed to be a work of genius.