Secret Mojo Dumbs It Down for You

October 31, 2006

Violent video games Videodrome their way into the real world (sort of)

Filed under: Art,creativity,games,terrorism — secretmojo @ 12:59 pm

What a neat idea! (scroll down for pictures and video)

In particular, I like the thought that there may be gifts inside. Sometimes a power-up, sometimes an extra life, and maybe — just maybe — coins. It’s mischievous and generous, and my favorite: imaginative.

But there are hidden dangers when igniting the imagination. Lesson learned? If you’re thinking of putting a bomb in a bright yellow box with an ominous question mark painted upon it, rest assured that your scheme, however it is camouflaged, will be detected by some extremely clever passer-by, and you will be arrested.

Game over.


August 15, 2006

Victory, spelled with a ‘P’

Filed under: Israel/Lebanon,News,Politics,terrorism,war — secretmojo @ 12:30 am

Ceasefire is great news. And a humiliating slap in the face for all the warmongers who cheered this conflict as the chance of a lifetime.

It may or may not last. I’ve always thought a good judge of the strength of a truce is whether all sides come from the agreement claiming victory. It may be this way for Hezbollah, somewhat for Lebanon, but not for Israel. The two captured soldiers, the “reason” for the devastation in the first place, remain captured.

One more observation, and I’ll let everyone get on with their own Israel/Lebanon news saturation. After reading a bit on local reactions (here and here), a peculiar phenomenon struck me: while displaced Israelis are afraid to return to the north, Lebanese refugees are jamming up the roads heading back to their homes.

This is fascinating to me, because southern Lebanon and Beirut are decimated. Buildings turned into gravel dumps with twisted rebar poking out of them. If any Lebanese wanted to be afraid, they need only look up.

Israel hasn’t seen this kind of overbearing damage. Yet, the fear to return seems greater. Now, I don’t want this to turn into a debate about who’s the greater victim here, because the way I see it, everyone proved their humanity by honoring the ceasefire, and are victorious over the innate evil of War. Score one for sensibility and compassion.

But it is interesting how uncertainty is one of the main ingredients of fear. And how, after a certain predictability is achieved — even if that prediction is one of death and destruction — fear dissolves.

August 11, 2006

Terror Theater: when “explosives” become props

Filed under: mediachumps,News,terrorism — secretmojo @ 11:41 pm

Okay, so you’re watching a play. In a heated scene where you don’t know whether she’s going to succumb to his advances or explode in fury, she suddenly thwacks the door in his face.

But: the walls of the set tremor.

The emotional power of the moment derails. In an instant, the stove, the couch, the picture of their boy, and the trembling chandelier become ersatz; flimsy origami paper barely holding reality together.

But it’s a play. A minute or two of actors refocusing their emotions, and suspension of disbelief rescues the faltering advance of the show.

Consider, now, this observation. Are we all actors watching our own performances, from policeman to passenger to CNN reporter to reader? It’s clear here that nobody, not even bystanders in the thick of a terror alert, accepts that these liquids may contain nitro-glycerin. The procedure displayed here is so thoroughly divorced from any HAZMAT guidelines that any person with half a brain should conclude that it is pure theater — a “duck and cover” newsreel that pantomimes to the public that our officials are “on top of it.”

Yet, in a funky torque of the mind, everyone both believes and disbelieves the show, CNN contributing to theatrical legitimacy by vidding the event, without comment, as evidence of bomb threat reduction.

Imagine the kind of jedi mind trick a person must perform on himself to report it like CNN. First, you must accept the threat as real and the response as logical, otherwise, why report it so? Yet, in a magical dichotomy of cognitive weirdness, you must also be convinced there can be no bomb in those bottles — otherwise, you’d freak when witnessing a man blithely dumping explosives into a can.

All the world may be a stage, but we are, in the end, horrible method actors. I’ve seen plenty of movies with Thespians who simply cannot handle guns properly; carrying them like stress balls, resting fingers dangerously on triggers, looking dead in the barrel as if their brain had no chance of being blown apart by the act.

But to see abysmal acting in real life, with hundreds of unwitting zombies, from security guard to CNN reporter, all playing along as if it were both true and false at the same time, astonishes me.

August 5, 2006

The word is “failure”

Filed under: Israel/Lebanon,rants,terrorism,war — secretmojo @ 11:59 pm

My god, why?

What I believe has disappeared via this growing compendium of Justification Proclamations is the concept of war as a failure of humanity.

War is a failure. It means we couldn’t work it out amongst ourselves like adults, and punched our sister in the face for the toy. It is not a triumph. All wars are Pyrric victories: you need only count the dead. It is blood and guts, unbound hatred, and immoral to the core.

War proves itself bizarre when we map its qualities onto an individual. It is everything we would despise about a man: solving problems by fist, justifying beating the crap out of someone, bragging about his kill ratio and the blackjack he has in his car.

So why this depraved assumption that war is innately valid, heroic, and beneficial? That stopping war, even briefly, is useless? Actually, I don’t care for the answer to this one; I’ve heard enough “birth pang”-style ramblings to decide the answer comes more from fealty than intelligence or compassion. War is not innately valid, and anyone who acts like it is is someone to steer well clear of.

We should, if we are human, deplore war. It should shame us, embarrass us, and make us cry for our own species. But I suppose this would require too much grace. Too much “bleeding heart” emotions, as opposed the more manly “bleeding body” approach. But if we still have souls, we should recognize that fighting wars are a stain upon us, and that if we dare engage in them, we best do it for the most obvious, self-evident reasons, and know all the while we curse ourselves to hell for it.

In other words, when we justify our wars ex post facto, and furthermore cheer their existence, we’ve gone sociopathic.

War is a failure from its inception. Did I say that already? If a person believes war brings it like King Midas, transforming useless things into gold, perhaps he’s right: King Midas lost his daughter through his greed. But a war, unlike Midas, has no Dionysus to bring back the dead.

Human beings are not based in hatred and violence; our prominent qualities are intelligence, abstract thought, language skills, music, and the undying need to create, love, and have our stories told.

So I think anyone can predict my response to a post that, in order to justify the continuation of death, blithely mentions uber-menschen, racism, sickness, peace as idiocy, hatred, Pol Pot, Hitler, dysfunction, victimization, pathology, blindness, “stopping feeling,” killing Jews; and uses pejorative language like “Pay attention,” “Is this starting to sink in?” and “We just wanted to clear that up for anyone who’s feelings might have been hurt” and “before you puff out your chests with self esteemed indignation”, and so on, and so on, and so on:

Loathe yourself, because you’re part of the problem.

July 14, 2006

Indiana cites “State of Indiana” as potential terror target; won’t reveal its location

Filed under: Humor,Politics,terrorism — secretmojo @ 12:04 am

After much deliberation at Indiana’s Department of Homeland Security, it was decided that, due to the sheer number of terrorist targets within its borders, it would be simpler and more cost-effective to list the entire state as at threat.

“Yeah, we were getting a lot of flack for that eight-thousand figure,” said Indiana Senator Richard Lugar, co-sponsor of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. “But fighting terrorism shouldn’t be about partisan politics, so in the interest of the nation, and to decrease the number of threats, I suggested they reduce it to one: all of us.”


July 12, 2006

Bill Moyers delivers again: “Faith & Reason”

Filed under: religion,television,terrorism — secretmojo @ 5:07 am

Bill Moyers does it again with a provocative series on Faith & Reason, lending a fresh breeze to the currently stale “debate” by giving those capable of rational thought a shot at it.

He interviews the religious and the atheistic. Agnostics and religious critics. Addresses myth, the psychological importance (and pitfalls) of belief, and a treasure chest of other issues that seem to get kicked in the pants in favor of bias manipulation techniques in today’s discourse.

One fascinating episode was this one. (click on the “full hour interview” link) Both interviewees, philosopher Colin McGinn and writer Mary Gordon, briefly addressed the phenomena of fundamentalism, or more specifically, the kind of person who will die and kill others in service of their beliefs.

Gordon attested that a fundamentalist martyrs himself because he becomes disgusted with the way the world is turning out. I agree with her.

McGinn asserted that fundamentalism arises from the drudgery of life and the need to avoid it. I agree with him, too.

However, after some thought, I determined what bothered me about these explanations. Gordon and McGinn gave the fundamentalist a human texture. Drudgery, disgust. This revealed their hope, as humanists, that everyone functions under the momentum of passion.

But I believe that a fundamentalist, convinced of the worthlessness of the life he’s currently experiencing (for whatever reason), annihilates himself, his own fallibility, and the painful experience of humanness in exchange for becoming a venerated instrument of God.

It’s a significant upgrade.

I have many thoughts on the emergence (and inadvertent creation) of fundamentalism, radical patriotism, and terrorism, all of which I’ve drafted, but have yet to flesh out. Maybe sometime in the future I’ll have finished that essay I’ve been harboring in the back of my mind for so long. But for now, I’ll watch a little more of Faith & Reason; perhaps someone else has already said it better than I ever could.

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