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overtaken by events

July 3rd, 2010 — 3:32am

California is going to explode. And it’s not just because of the $18.6 billion dollars in cuts that Arnold is going to have to make, which is going to include eliminating entire welfare programs.

The budget crisis, unemployment, all of that is going to the last of your average Californian’s worries before the summer’s out. Probably the last of many of our worries, as what begins in California will inevitably spread to many of our doorsteps. Getting to that point though, that requires a little bit of explaining.

In one of the opening scenes of the coming-of-age cinematic classic Dazed and Confused, the history teacher yells after her class on the last day of school that over the summer during the holiday weekend “when you’re being inundated with all this American bicentennial Fourth Of July brouhaha,” they shouldn’t forget “what you’re celebrating, and that’s the fact a bunch of slave-owning, aristocratic, rich white males didn’t want to pay their taxes.”

There’s a lot of truth to that sentiment, although it’s not something anyone studies much in high school – where we focus on the social and philosophical elements of the American Revolution and, for the most part, ignore its underlying economic element. But if those rich white men had been taxed more fairly, the Revolution might never have occurred. Something you’re reminded of every time you see the cheeky slogan on a DC license plate.
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how Gen Y and Technology are changing History

May 22nd, 2010 — 9:10am

Jared Cohen is the rather remarkable State Department employee responsible for Twitter delaying its regularly scheduled maintenance shutdown during the Iranian uprising in the summer of 2009 so that communications and updates could continue unabated, he’s the author of the insightful book Children of Jihad that charts how young people everywhere in the Middle East from Iran to Israel have much more in common than they realize, plus he’s a Stanford grad and Rhodes Scholar.

In the above talk he outlines how technology is shaping and changing the way everything from militant attacks in Afghanistan to anti-authoritarian uprisings in Iran to grassroots resistance against FARC are organized and executed.

It’s a tremendously interesting talk that’ll change how you look at the evolving sometimes hidden role social media is carving out for itself among young people and societies across the globe.

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5 most ridiculous moments in terrorist history

May 6th, 2010 — 6:36pm

It’s generally a bad idea to leave the keys to your getaway car inside of the carbomb you’ve just rigged with fireworks, three propane tanks, a couple 5-gallon jugs of gasoline, and 100 pounds of explosive fertilizer.

Makes it kind of hard to get home.

Wait wait, make that non-explosive fertilizer actually – because you’re too stupid to bother googling what kinds of fertilizer actually blow up.   Plus, what makes it even harder to get home is also locking your house keys inside of the same carbomb.  And it’s probably an ever worse idea to release a YouTube video claiming responsibility for the attack before it even happens… especially when your attack hinges on a bunch of fireworks left in a bucket igniting a bunch of explosive material that’s not even exposed to the air.

But that was the modus operandi for Faisal Shahzad, just one in a long line of really, really stupid terrorists.

For reasons that’ll soon grow obvious, after the successful execution of an FBI sting against a group of ex-cons who’d converted to radical Islam in prison last summer, one of the media’s favorite quotes has been that at least one of the men is “intellectually challenged.”

This is said like it somehow makes him incapable of carrying out a terrorist plot. Like all past terrorists have been clever. Sinister, devious fellows who used their sharp wits and bright minds to think their way past our defenses. Like much of terrorism, this is an illusion. Many past terrorists, even some of the most notorious ones, have been complete morons. It was only two years ago that two terrorists were thwarted from bombing an airline terminal when their Jeep Cherokee got stuck beneath the awning of the Glasgow International Airport.

One of the duo fled from the Jeep in flames, and was forever immortalized when a Scottish cabby kicked him so hard in the crotch that the heroic cabby broke his own foot, leaving us with the absolutely epic headline: I Kicked a Burning Terrorist So Hard in Balls That I Tore a Tendon In My Foot. And in fact so many terrorists have been so ridiculously stupid that the failure of this most recent plot doesn’t even break into the top five.

The media’s also keyed in on the fact that the ringleader in last year’s NYC plot smoked up during the day of their foiled attack, and was still so high he told the judge he only “sort of” understood what was going on around him. Which brings us to our first moment:

5. The formation of the Assassin sect

If it wasn’t for weed, we might still have Ghandi, Abe Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King, and JFK with us today.

You might even say that their deaths never would have happened if some old dead Muslims hadn’t been baked out of their minds. Nowadays when you get high you’re pretty much only a threat to someone’s life if they happen to be a Dorito, but back in the day getting higher than a giraffe’s ass was an inescapable prerequisite for joining what’s become the world’s most notorious fraternity of killers.

And the term “fraternity” isn’t used loosely here, as about any SAE pledge-master would be put to shame by the initiation ceremony of the original Assassins – but more about that shortly.

The term Assassin actually loosely translates to “pot-head.” Labeled Hashshasheen in their native Arabic, literally “those who smoke that dank-ass Mediterranian hash,” the Crusaders who first encountered them decided this was a bit too much of a mouthful so over the years the term was anglicized to the more familiar “assassin.” As it turns out, smoking the sticky-icky was an integral part of becoming an Assassin.

Led by the Old Man of the Mountain, who you can think of as some kind of terrible killer Arabic pot-smoking Santa Claus, the original Assassins were a Shiite sect headquartered in the Persian crags where they’d plot their attacks, swooping down into cities and royal courts to stab the hell out of whoever was opposing their will. After, of course, smoking copious amounts of dope. In this way the Assassins managed to consolidate an empire that was both vast and, presumably, very hazy.

To become an Assassin you first had to go through a trial that is fairly unique in history. A prospective initiate had to smoke hash until he blacked out. Seriously. The first step to becoming an assassin was to literally smoke yourself retarded.

Afterwards you’d awaken in a lush garden, filled with fountains and the most beautiful damsels in all the land, who would feed him every type of delicious morsel and subject you to sexual pleasures he might not even had known were possible. Odds are, to become an assassin you’d have to be cool with having a finger stuck somewhere uncomfortable. Possibly the back of a Volkswagen.

As the day went on you were given more and more pleasures, and more and more hash, until you passed out from the dope once again. A finger may still have been somewhere uncomfortable. When you woke up, the whole process began again, until finally an Assassin explains that what you’ve just experienced was but a tiny glimpse into the Paradise that awaited you if you would die for Allah as an Assassin.

Once you accepted their offer you would learn all the ways of the dagger (while high), how to mix poisons (while high), become a master of disguises (also while high), and how to pass for a member of any religion or culture in the region (while, of course, high). On your mission you must be focused on the kill alone, not your own escape, or where to find some munchies.

Assassins carried out hundreds of bleary-eyed killings as they spread their empire from Persia across the rest of the Middle East, and faded from notoriety only after their supply of marijuana finally ran dry.

But the best part…

Actually, they never ran out of dope, they were all brutally slaughtered by Genghis Khan’s Golden Horde in 1255.

One of them, probably while giggling and making Big Lebowski references, felt it necessary to assassinate one of Genghis’s sons because he wouldn’t let his Muslim sect – big shocker coming – pray as much as they wanted to.

So Genghis Khan sent word out that there was going to be a census, and every member of the Assassin sect made their way to the nearest city so that they’d be counted and get their piece of the pie, or pot-brownie or whatever.

But instead of being counted, the assembled Assassins were brutally slaughtered where they stood by the Golden Horde’s cavalry. The few who escaped were eventually tracked down and sent to the widow of Khan’s brother, so that she could torture them to death one-by-one in whatever manner she wished. So tap a little out for your most infamous forbearers the next time you pack a fatty in front of season two of The Chappelle Show.

Shockingly, the history of terrorism only gets more absurd in modern times.

4. Terrorists weaponize cars, kind of

Using automobiles as weapons has become the modern terrorist’s specialty. The very first carbombing was Hezbollah’s attack on the Marine barracks in Beiruit which killed 241 Marines in a blast that had the force of 12,000 pounds of TNT, but which actually came from just a few hundred pounds of plastic explosives packed into a cleverly disguised food-delivery truck.

Nothing about that attack seems funny at all, and the truck’s driver, Mr. Chubtarasha, is hailed by terrorists around the world for his heroics – for his steely courage as he drove into the maw of the imperialist American beast towards his certain fiery death.

But the reality is that Mr. Chubtarasha likely thought he was riding up a rainbow inside a giant Technicolor unicorn into a giant gumdrop full of tap-dancing Smurfs. Because before he got into his van he was fed a massive dose of hallucinogens hidden in, of all things – a cookie.

Chubtarasha wasn’t brave, he was tripping on a laced Oreo.

A decade later terrorist again successfully attacked America using cars, this time right at home in New York City. Ramzi Yousef came to New York in 1993, dressed in a silk suit he’d paid for with his wages as a Domino’s Pizza deliveryman (seriously), intent on killing as many Jews as he could.

And ultimately he decided on attacking the World Trade Center towers not because of their symbolic or tactical value, but because he’d heard from one of his buddies back home in Pakistan that lots and lots of Jews worked in them. Really, that was the driving factor behind his decision.

Where he could kill the most Jews. And since rumor had it that a lot of Jews worked there, the World Trade Center seemed as good a place as any.

As questionable as his decision making was, Yousef was proficient a assembling homemade bombs, and spent several weeks mixing batches fertilizer and nitric acid in his apartment before shuttling them in his rusted-out 1978 Chevy Nova into a self-storage shed in Jersey City. Yousef was lucky not to have one of these unstable batches blow his face off, but that’s not the ridiculous part of this attack.

After spending two months and thousands of dollars planning his attack and building his bomb, Yousef was ready to find a driver and van for his attack.

It’s unclear why Yousef didn’t just drive the van himself, but that probably has something to do with being hospitalized after crashing his ’78 Nova shortly after arriving in NYC and not exactly trusting himself behind the wheel.

You might think Yousef would take some time to carefully hand-select his driver and meticulously search to find the rental agency that would allow for the most anonymity, but that’s not how it went down. Yousef spent the night before the attack flipping through the local Yellow Pages making dozens and dozens of frantic phone calls. He was trying to find both a rental agency with a Ryder van that was big enough to hold the bomb, and someone willing to drive a van filled with thousands of pounds of fertilizer under the Twin Towers.

He figured it made sense to wait until the night before the attack to do this, and yet was still called a terrorist “mastermind.”

Despite this impetuousness, Yousef managed to avoid the even absurd blunders made by the terrorist group that carried out the Bali nightclub bombings, the Jemaah Islamiyah.

One member of the group had died on the way to an earlier attack when one of his buddies, meaning to call his cell phone to wish him luck, dialed the wrong number and instead called the phone attached to the trigger of the bomb.  And on the night of the Bali bombing, when the terrorist selected to drive the explosives-laden Mitsubishi van got into the driver’s seat on the night of the attack, he told his buddies there was a problem.

The van had a manual transmission, and he had no idea how to drive stick.

But the best part…

Is how Yousef got caught. Before the dust had even settled Yousef was already on board a plane to Karachi, but he left the men who helped him build the bomb behind. One of them, Mohammed Salamehm was pretty broke, and after the attack he decided to try and get the $400 rental deposit for the van back.

He showed up at the Ryder agency the next day demanding his money back, and was of course turned away – for some reason, the rental agency hadn’t gotten their van back and was used to dealing with angry people with funny accents who weren’t too good with cars. Salamehm returned the next day, bluffed again, and was again turned away.

But he didn’t let this stop him.

Still broke, he returned again for a third time, still angry, and this time found the FBI waiting for him. The VIN number from the van’s bumper had survived the blast, and he was taken into custody and thoroughly interrogated. Mohammed knew enough to give the authorities the leads they’d use to track Yousef down in the Philippines.

Yousef failed to topple the World Trade Center towers or kill any Jews. His bomb was equivalent to 1,500 pounds of dynamite, but it only killed a dozen construction workers. But years later different terrorists would return to New York and successfully topple the Twin Towers, and yet even that terrible day isn’t without its ridiculousness.

3. The final hours before 9/11

In the years since it occurred, 9/11 has been portrayed as the most devious and well-executed terrorist plot the world has ever seen. And the men who carried it out have been placed in the highest pantheon of heroes by Islamic extremists and the lowest pits of hell by just about everyone else.

But placing them in either of these places misses the reality of who they were. The nineteen hijackers were many things, but most importantly of all – they were a bunch of dingleberries.

Far from being highly-skilled operatives they were a bunch of jack-offs who, despite living in America with no cover and intending to carry out the most spectacular terrorist attack in world history, still managed to ring up a whole rack of speeding tickets and other moving violations.

You might think they’d be disciplined enough to stay under the law-enforcement’s radar, but you’d be wrong.

And yet maybe the most ridiculous part about 9/11, is what the hijackers were doing the night before the attack. Calling them jack-offs earlier was in no way meant metaphorically.

The night before the attack they selected a few select films from their hotels’ on-demand library. Despite imagining themselves as agents of purity and justice, on a holy mission of retribution from God himself, they still felt it was a good idea to rent a porn flick. Maybe this particular film involved goats or two dudes sword-fighting – or both. And maybe not, all we do know is that they did in fact rent a porno.

And, we can infer from the fact that the average hotel-rented porn flick is on for about five minutes, they sat around rubbing one out a sacreligiuos last time.

Maybe they had blankets pulled up over themselves, and were surreptitiously stroking their little jihadist soldiers and hoping the kid in the next bunk wouldn’t catch on like a bunch of nervous fourth-graders at summer camp. Or maybe they were all pretty cool with what the six of them were all doing in their cramped hotel room.

But the best part…

Maybe because they were all a little bit too relaxed after the previous night’s festivities, the hijackers who flew out of Boston didn’t exactly stick to a strict operational schedule. You might think operatives who were, supposedly, well-trained and highly-motivated would be very sure to have a time-table that would account for every possibility and ensure that they’d make their flight.

But the reality is that part of 9/11 very nearly didn’t happen at all. The team who flew out of Boston’s Logan Airport nearly missed their flight, they made it to their gate with just six minutes to spare.

Six minutes. A fender-bender, a belligerent customer in the ticket line, dropping a really big deuce – any number of things could easily have caused them to miss their flight entirely.

If you want to keep believing that 9/11 was the work of devious and highly skilled killers, go right ahead.

You now just have to acknowledge the fact that they were devious and highly skilled killers who managed to get a whole slew of traffic tickets and almost missed their flight because they sat around jerking-off to a porno the night before their big operation.

2. Al-Qaeda is born, cross-eyed and club-footed

It’s probably pretty hard to fish the keys to your Toyota out of a public toilet of an African hospital right smack in the middle of the afternoon lunch rush. Even if you’re elbow deep in the thing, groping around in the water like you were tying to noodle catfish.

But that’s what Mohammed Rashid Daoud al-Owhali (whose name translates literally as: douchebag who blows up hundreds of Africans) found himself doing as the hospital he was in filled with the hundreds wounded by the truck bomb he’d just blown up on the street in front of the American Embassy in Nairobi. He panicked, threw his keys in the toilet – but then changed his mind and decided to try and fish them out.

It was supposed to be al-Qaeda’s opening salvo in their pre-declared war against America, but the terrorists hit a few hitches. They meant to get their truck-bomb inside the Embassy compound, except that as al-Owhali got out of the Toyota’s shotgun side and menacingly approached the Marines guarding its gates and reached into his jacket pocket for the pistol he was going to shoot the American imperialists with he stopped in his tracks and – yes, this becomes a steady theme the more terrorist attacks you learn about – realized there was a problem.

He wasn’t wearing his jacket. It was back in the truck, next to his buddy. And so al-Owhali did the next-best thing: he started ululating and threw the flash-bang grenades he had on him at the Marine guards behind the Embassy gate. Who ran away, probably laughing and wondering what in the shit was going on, since the magnesium and ammonium-perchlorate detonation of a flash-bang grenade is at most capable of stunning people in tightly-enclosed spaces.

Throwing them at Marines who are outdoors makes about as much sense as getting in a fight with GSP and only trying to slap him once it starts. The man fiercely pinches his own nipples to get himself jacked before winning the UFC middle-weight title fight.

Despite months of the “best” training terrorists could get at al-Qaeda’s camps in Afghanistan and spending several years dedicating their lives to jihad, al-Owhali and his buddy were complete screw-ups when it came time to actually carry out an attack. Al-Owhali turned and ran like hell after leaving his gun in the truck, and his buddy blew up the bomb where it would do almost no damage to the Embassy and would kill only a dozen Americans.

The only reason the attack attracted so much attention was because the bomb in the truck was the only part of the attack that wasn’t completely botched, and did manage to kill a number of Africans.

It’s fairly surprising the bomb was as potent as it was, as terrorists have frequently proven themselves utterly incapable of constructing crude bombs, a process which frighteningly enough can be successfully done by a Mongoloid fourth-grader who has a chemistry set and enough Ritalin.

In fact, our buddy Yousef was finally caught when the bomb he was working on began to prematurely combust, setting his apartment ablaze and the Filipino Special Terrorism Task Force hot on his heals.

A task force not headed by Delta Force or SEAL Team Six, but by Aida Fariscal: a grandmother known for wearing bright-pink lipstick, rubber slippers, hoop earrings, and a flowered muumuu who chased him down in the early-morning Manila streets and tied his hands with clothesline (she left her cuffs in the office, hey – grandmothers have a lot on their minds) and hailed a rusted-out WWII-era jeep that’d been converted into makeshift taxi to get him back to the station. That she was even kind enough to pay for.

Yup, that’s how a man then considered the world’s foremost terrorist mastermind was brought to justice. By a grandmother wearing a flowered muumuu.

But the best part…

The point of the Embassy attacks wasn’t to kill African bystanders, it was to destroy the Embassies and kill hundreds of Americans. Well, the US Embassy in Nairobi was largely undamaged by the blast and only a dozen Americans were killed, and the simultaneous attack on the Embassy at Dar es Salaam (which, in a cruel twist of history, really does translate to “House of Peace”) neither damaged the main Embassy building or killed any Americans.

The African Embassy bombings were, from anything close to approaching a rational perspective, complete gong shows. They were supposed to destroy both Embassies and kill hundreds of Americans. But what happened is they demolished a few walls, walls which were built in front of the Embassies to – get this – absorb a bomb blast, and killed only twelve Americans.

However they did mark the emergence of al-Qaeda from its womb, it was the organization’s first attack that provoked a substantial response against what it saw as the evil American imperialists on the world stage. But al-Qaeda came out like it’d been gestating in some terrible four-toothed hillbilly who liked to down bottles of Jack before engaging in her favorite hobby of throwing herself down the nearest rocky hillside and then repeatedly smacking herself in her pregnant belly with the empty bottle.

And yet this malformed retard seemed threatening enough to warrant a barrage over a dozen million-dollar Tomahawk cruise missiles, which succeeded in utterly flattening their target.

Sadly, this target turned out to be a factory that made pharmaceuticals, and possibly baby food. Which brings us to our final moment.

1. Every time someone flips out about it

One of our greatest Presidents once said, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” In the years that followed this saying proved to have a lot of merit to it.

Unless of course you were one of the tens of thousands of Japanese who died in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, hundred of thousands of American soldiers who gave their lives in European trenches, or one of the six-million Jews who died in one of the dozens of Nazi concentration camps.

So, in hindsight, maybe FDR would’ve been better off saying “we have nothing to fear but fear itself, unless of course we’re at war – in which case you need to worry about getting shot, nuked, burned alive, gassed, crippled, enslaved, and otherwise dismembered, maimed, or killed. Yeah, worry about that stuff.

And, at its core, that’s what terrorism is always attempting to do.

Create a war, or failing that the fears that piggyback on war, when there really isn’t anything there. Acts of terrorism are meant to create the perception of war and the retaliation and hatred that ensues, when the reality is the guys carrying them out would be hard-pressed to construct a forty-eight piece Lego set without starting two fires and putting an eye out.

Terrorism relies on its targets overreacting, on us not really seeing their explosions for what they are. Terrorists don’t create terrorism, terrorists are a bunch pot-smoking jerk-offs who have to get lucky to not die in car accidents or blow themselves and each other up.

Being afraid of terrorists makes about as much sense as being afraid of a drunk blindfolded one-legged midget who’s hopping around throwing cabbages at your head.

Terrorists don’t create terrorism – we do.

Terrorism is the monster under our bed, the boogeyman in our closet, the one-night stand who swore she was on the pill who you used a condom with anyways but who you still left a fake number with because hey no reason not to play it safe right? As horrible and terrifying as acts of terrorism can seem, all it takes to neutralize them entirely is to take them in perspective, and just see them for what they almost always are.

The actions of attention-whores writ large. Really, really dumb attention-whores.

For terrorism’s entire crazy story, visit Tremble the Devil’s mainpage

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read terrorism’s eye-opening untold story

March 11th, 2010 — 9:05am

Fear is the lifeblood of terrorism, and we all fear the unknown.  So there’s no better counter to terror than simply spreading understanding.

For the first time, an entire book on the history, origins, and future of terrorism is available for free online in an easy-to-navigate format. Tremble the Devil was written by a Harvard-educated counterterrorism analyst, it’s an accessible, fast-paced distillation of everything you need to know about the world’s most dangerous phenomenon. It combines compelling narratives with approachable academic explanations into an intriguing and salient book that reads like a novel – it’s The Looming Tower meets Freakonomics.

Spreading understanding is so important because people only freak out when they don’t understand what’s going on, the true nature of the threat. And so terrorism only works when we don’t realize that terrorists as individuals are – often as not – pretty freaking dim. That’s why the book is posted up online for free: in the hope that when the next attacks hit they’ll be a little less effective, because after reading the book you’ll understand terrorism a little bit better and freak out a little bit less.

Feel free to bookmark this page to come back to later since you don’t have the time to get through an entire book just now and you’d rather read a brief piece about current events, the most recent posts can be found below at the blog below or on the sidebar to the right. Here are some of the most popular posts:

because we destroyed ourselves – outlines the damage the War on Drugs has done to the African-American community by incarcerating a highly disproportionate number of black males, creating a cycle of economic and social fragmentation within our innercities.

innocents and innocence alike – draws parallels between acts of terrorism and asymmetric warfare by tying the emergence of modern terrorism to documents stolen from the home of America’s Special Forces.

the racism instinct – explains humanity’s bloodthirsty history as an inevitable result of the differing immunological compositions of our largest social groupings and the urge to pass on robust immune systems that are fit to their environments to our offspring.

it’s hard out here – traditional publishing never worked, it was an industry ruled by chance and blind luck. It’s demise will be the best thing that’s ever happened to authors as the royalty system is rearranged and bureaucratic fat is removed from the system.

the importance of being anonymous – free speech has always implicitly been anonymous speech, and at no time in our history has it been more under siege – especially within the internet, the last bastion of free and anonymous speech

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reporters make the best terrorists

January 28th, 2010 — 12:48pm

A funny thing happens when two huge terrorism stories break.  Or, more accurately, when one splashes across the front of the Washington Post, while the the other one slips past your notice.  You tend to start thinking that the most likely way a terrorist will kill you isn’t, in fact, by shooting you in the face.

First, Tuesday’s Washington Post story on Al-Qaeda’s desire to use WMDs against America:

“…a new report warns that al-Qaeda has not abandoned its goal of attacking the United States with a chemical, biological or even nuclear weapon.

The report, by a former senior CIA official who led the agency’s hunt for weapons of mass destruction, portrays al-Qaeda’s leaders as determined and patient, willing to wait for years to acquire the kind of weapons that could inflict widespread casualties.”

So a retired intelligence official is alleging that a WMD attack from al-Qaeda is a genuine threat, based purely on the strength of his musing.  The report cites absolutely no evidence at all, and has no empirical support.  It’s simply speculation.

Let’s take a moment to consider its assertion though, in light of what we’ve learned from al-Qaeda’s most recent round of recruits.

Successfully deploying nuclear, chemical, or biologically weaponry is insanely delicate and difficult, military units trained to use or defuse that kind of weaponry are some of the most intelligent and well-trained.  WMDs are incredibly fragile, requiring careful handling and precise calibration to be deployed effectively.  Only the most intelligent enlistees are chosen for WMD training, a task that takes several months to complete.  Conversely, everyone in the military learns how to shoot a gun within the first few weeks.

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an American nightmare

June 29th, 2009 — 5:39pm

(learn more about the book at the “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit)

Everyone from Bill Cosby to Ronald Reagan seems fond of placing the blame for our black community’s fate squarely on the shoulders of African-Americans, largely excusing the rest of America from any blame for their plight.

The emergence of the modern Welfare State in particular is blamed as the single most detrimental force on our African-American community, since it supposedly allowed “welfare queens” with “80 names, 30 addresses, and 12 Social security cards” to pull in over $150,000 of tax-free income a year. As the argument goes, the Public Welfare Amendments of 1962 created a system that disincentived marriage by rewarding single mothers with loads of free cash.

All they had to do was remain out of wedlock, and the checks would just keep on rolling in.

This view was popularized by a Nobel Prize winning physicist, William Shockley, who argued that these programs “tended to encourage childbirth, especially among less productive members of society (particularly blacks, whom he considered to be genetically inferior to whites), causing a reverse evolution.” Shockley popularized this hypothesis, bringing it to both Congress and the public, and even put forth a proposal offering financial rewards to minorities if they were voluntary sterilized.

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do what to a chicken?

June 26th, 2009 — 1:17pm

It’s almost impossible to see what’s going on in Iran and not bring in the grandest human frameworks of Justice, Freedom, Right vs. Wrong, and Good vs. Evil.  The men currently controlling Iran’s theocratic totalitarian government seem as sinister and vile as a Sith Lord or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.  They’re violently repressing a people desperately struggle for the right to choose their own path in life.

To live as they choose, not as they’re forced to on fear of death.

Thing is, the men holding the reigns of coercive power in Iran are just men.  They aren’t supernatural creatures possessing any fictional powers whatsoever.   Shattering that fantasy, dispelling the alchemic grip on power they seem to have, is an essential step in understanding what’s really going on in any situation – especially this one.

The following passages were sent to me in an email from an Iranian-American whose family has extremely close and very old ties to Iran’s clerical regime.  The same regime that’s currently in power, the one the people are currently revolting against.  He has immediate family members there now so for obvious reasons he doesn’t want to be named, but his words tell the story behind the evening news.

It shows the men in power not as super-villains, but simply as the petty, insecure thieves that they are.  It lifts the veil that masks their true nature, and shows them for who they were before they got the firm grip on power they have now.

And besides that, it’s pretty damn entertaining.

A quick note that’ll help you follow everything: remember that Khomeini is the cleric who lead the ’79 Revolution and who’s since died, while Khamenei is the Supreme Leader now who you see on TV all the time.


“Ruholah Khomeini was born in the rural, desert town of Khomen in 1902.  His last name just means “from the city of Khomen.” Lived there until he was old enough to go to cleric school at which point he moved to Qom to start his schooling. The main place where you can become a certified cleric in Iran is in the city of Qom. All boys who want to become one when they grow up have to leave their family wherever they are living and move there to do their schooling (it’s like the Harvard of Shi’ite Islam).

After several years of learning and being under the advisement of a fully certified cleric, with his approval you become a certified cleric. This is the equivalent to becoming a priest in Catholicism. Although clerics can marry there’s still a catch.

There are harsher punishments if a cleric breaks a code of Islam, just being around a woman without the veil for a cleric warrants the death penalty. In addition to this clerics also must give up all material desires, kind of like Buddhist monks. They aren’t allowed to have material possessions. Furniture is considered a luxury so that’s not allowed either. Most of them live in very small houses with just a kitchen and a place to sleep. They wear a ceremonial robe and these Arab-style slippers.

Now here’s something that you always see but probably miss. Their head-garment. The color of their head-garment means a lot.  It signifies their bloodline. Clerics with a distinct bloodline known as the Saayad bloodline wear black head garments. Anyone not from the bloodline wears white. I call them head-garments instead of turbans because I’m not a racist fuck, and because they aren’t required to cover the whole head, some just put it around like a donut, it really comes down how the cleric wears it. But anyway, the Saayad bloodline requires some explanation of its own before I go on.

Since the creation of their sect, the Shi’ites kept tabs on anyone who had blood relation to the 12 saints of Shi’ite Islam. These records have been passed down for over a thousand years. If you are among the people who are from the bloodline you are considered a Saayad. This only applies to males though. Women have another name for it which I forget right now but I’ll let you know when I remember. The bloodline can only be passed to the next generation through a male as well. It’s designated by giving the person the title of Saayad on their birth certificate although no one uses the title on a daily bases, it’s mostly just for documents and such. If the bloodline reaches a woman and there are no men to carry it on, the title ends there for that family. This is why it is kind of rare to find Saayads these days.

A lot of Saayads, however, are born into religious families since because of their title they have a moral obligation to follow Islam by the book. Because of this, a majority of the clerics are Saayads. It only makes sense that people with a religious title would be born into a religious family and would want to further pursue a career in their religion. During the era of the Shah this stuff didn’t mean crap. It was a title of respect, and nothing more.

However, since the ’79 Revolution, this title could make a huge difference and practically makes you nobility. People with the title gain a lot more respect under a religious government than they did under the Shah. How much this could help someone in their life, lets just say if you want to make friends with people in the government or gain someone’s respect it gives you some leverage. Some people you  know of who are Saayads are: Khamenei, Khomeini, Khatami, and Mousavi.

Back to the clerics. Basically before the ‘79 Revolution the clerics weren’t worth two shits. They just proceeded over weddings and funerals and gave weekly sermons if they had their own mosque. There was really no money in it and because of this most of them were beggars. Khomeini was all about changing all of that.

He believed that religion is above all and that the power should be given to the clerics since they know what’s best for the people. Furthermore, he thought the clerics were under appreciated and that the poor were misrepresented. (He didn’t grow up with the best childhood living in a rural farm and all.) So that was basically his whole campaign for a revolution.

Because of this the government ended up kicking him out and letting him back in multiple times. When they got rid of him he would make secret audiotapes that were sent to the people in Iran spewing his propaganda at them and convincing them that change was needed. It seemed like something that would never happen until the Shah made a stupid mistake…

President Carter made a statement in the media one day about how certain countries need to be more open or they might find themselves undergoing a revolt or big change if they don’t meet the needs of their people (some shit like that, this one little part I got from an Iranian sociology professor rather than my family so I’m a little fuzzy on it, you might already know it better). The Shah became afraid from hearing this and decided to let Khomeini come back and gave people the freedom of speech. Before that if anyone talked badly if the Iranian government they were considered a national threat and were dealt with by the Sovok.

The Sovok was the Iranian equivalent of the KGB in that they had their hand in a little bit of everything, but they were secret at the same time. They were very powerful people, your stereotypical guy in black suit and sunglasses that comes and takes your neighbor away to secretly interrogate him. So after the Sovok wasn’t a threat anymore all the parties that wanted to cause a revolution started going to work, with Khomeini being the strongest voice. People began rioting, just as they did now, and the Shah was a pussy so he gave up and gave him Iran.

Now this is where Khamenei comes in. Khamenei was a worthless beggar before the revolution. He was born and raised in the holy town of Mashad and became a cleric in Mashad.  It’s possible to become a cleric elsewhere, but Qom is where it’s at.  The he decided to go for further learning in Qom.

Oddly, people from the town are famous for being very stubborn and ironically perverted. This can be noticed in the sermons of the clerics from Qom who devote almost all their sermons toward something regarding sex. Don’t believe me? Read Khomeini’s manifesto on the illegality of fucking chickens and what the conditions are for eating a chicken that’s already been fucked. (I’m not joking, it really exists, you can’t make this shit up.)

While there he followed the advisement of Khomeini and at that point became involved in politics. From then on he followed Khomeini and his ideals. However when Khomeini was outcast from Iran, Khamenei was arrested and afterward agreed to stop conspiring against the government and went back to teaching. This wasn’t enough to make ends meet though – you won’t ever read this shit in wikipedia or any textbooks – and when he moved to Iran he had to beg for money, often playing the bongos in return for change to get by.

Seriously, he hung out on street corners playing the fucking bongos.

People say he had a scooter he always rode around and would ride around in traffic, asking people for change at stop lights and such too. Well after the revolution happened, Khamenei’s devotion to Khomeini paid off and he became a key figure in the government of Iran since then. He became the first cleric to serve as the president of Iran in 1981. I’ll spare you the rest of this stuff since you can find a lot of it on wikipedia.

Now going onto the government and why the people are sick and tired of it. Basically, the government hasn’t stayed true to its promise, and the poor are still poor and the rich were driven out of Iran pretty much. The clerics have all the money. The average salary of an Iranian is equal to about $300 a month, which is pretty good with their cost of living…. the average cleric makes $50,000 a month just for being a cleric, and $500,000 a month if they actually preach at a mosque. Compare that to the cost of living here, and their salary would well over $1,000,000 a month just for sitting on your ass and wearing a fancy robe.

Also, many of the clerics have gone against their teachings, you can see a lot of them wearing fancy Italian shoes and expensive slacks. This goes against the teachings of anti-materialism that they learned. Also Khamenei, the poster boy for clerics, moved into a mansion about 20 years ago with the excuse that he needed it for extra protection.  (No one knows the location of his house as it’s kept secret for his protection.)

The reason the people are so pissed off now isn’t just because the elections were supposedly rigged. It’s also because the government spends too much money serving the clerics (majority of taxes go toward “religious funds” which translates to the clerics’ salaries). Also the government has ownership over 100% of business and all institutions. Even private businesses are technically owned and monitored by the government. These were all things that Mousavi promised to stop, he also promised to get rid of Iran’s bad image of Anti-America and Anti-Israel

In reality most Iranians don’t give two shits about the affairs of a bunch of Palestinians that throw rocks over a country the size of Delaware.”

learn more about Tremble the Devil

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an American nightmare

April 12th, 2009 — 6:44pm

(learn more about the book at the “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit)

Everyone from Bill Cosby to Ronald Reagan seems fond of placing the blame for our black community’s fate squarely on the shoulders of African-Americans, largely excusing the rest of America from any blame for their plight.

The emergence of the modern Welfare State in particular is blamed as the single most detrimental force on our African-American community, since it supposedly allowed “welfare queens” with “80 names, 30 addresses, and 12 Social security cards” to pull in over $150,000 of tax-free income a year. As the argument goes, the Public Welfare Amendments of 1962 created a system that disincentived marriage by rewarding single mothers with loads of free cash.

All they had to do was remain out of wedlock, and the checks would just keep on rolling in.

This view was popularized by a Nobel Prize winning physicist, William Shockley, who argued that these programs “tended to encourage childbirth, especially among less productive members of society (particularly blacks, whom he considered to be genetically inferior to whites), causing a reverse evolution.” Shockley popularized this hypothesis, bringing it to both Congress and the public, and even put forth a proposal offering financial rewards to minorities if they were voluntary sterilized.

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the jinn in the machine

February 4th, 2009 — 12:33pm

Several months ago Saudi Prince Turki bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud warned that an uprising will soon begin within Saudi Arabia:

Saudi Prince Turki bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud has warned the country’s royal family to step down and flee before a military coup or a popular uprising overthrows the kingdom.

In a letter published by Wagze news agency on Tuesday, the Cairo-based prince warned Saudi Arabia’s ruling family of a fate similar to that of Iraq’s executed dictator Saddam Hussein and the ousted Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, calling on them to escape before people “cut off our heads in streets.”

He finally warned against a military coup against the ruling family, saying “no one will attack us from outside but our armed forces will attack us.”

As Saudi Arabia’s own Day of Rage approaches it’s looking like he was right.  And there’s only one place to look to figure out where the impetus for an uprising came from, the same place the most popular and lucrative form of gambling the world over was born…

It’s not what you have.  It’s not what he has.  It’s not what he thinks you have.  It’s what he thinks you think he has that matters.

Whenever they’re discussing the Iranian threat, military strategists and geopolitical commentators alike are fond of bringing up the fact that it was the Persians who invented chess.

This is meant as something of an analytical catch-all, with all the world a chessboard we are being reminded that Iranians invented the original and timeless game of bold maneuvers, clever feints, and strategic traps.  And yet, when you really examine the metaphor, chess really doesn’t fit global interactions all that well.

Everything is in plain view during a chess match: anyone stumbling into a trap was simply too stupid or inexperienced to see what was right in front of them all along.  All you have to do to know the strength of your opponent is count the pieces left in play and notice where they lay on the board.  Which brings up the fact that unlike conflicts on the world stage, a chess match can only occur between two opponents at a time.

And things take awhile to develop during a chess match, at most you can only loose one piece a turn – there aren’t incredibly risky gambles that can be made which decisively swing the balance of power among numerous opponents in one turn.

That’s not how international affairs really play out.  The fact that Iranians invented chess some thousands of years ago really shouldn’t worry us all that much.

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