Statues As Symbols, Symbols As Triggers

Last night, four Confederate statues were quietly removed from the University of Austin campus in response to the recent events at Charlottesville.

The City of Baltimore had already taken the same steps, with statues having been removed across the city several nights ago, and no doubt the same is happening throughout other towns and campuses across America.

Regarding the act of toppling statues, there is much to be said, but I don’t have the time to say it all, and so will confine myself to the following for now:

University of Texas president Gregory L. Fenves was quoted as saying the reasoning behind his decision was that the confederate statues had become “symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism.”

Implicit in President Fenves statement is the assertion that symbols have power over people; real power, not imagined. For if they did not have the power to affect and influence people, what would it matter?

We are immersed in a symbol laden world, from symbolic cultural artifacts, such as statues and flags, to corporate logos and insignias, to symbolic acts and gestures such as the shaking of hands or giving of roses on Valentine’s Day, to the emojis adorning our text and social media messages, and so much more.

Our interpretation of a given symbol may be determined in part by our own cultural conditioning, personal history, or a shared set of values. Yet there is also a level upon which at least some symbols are considered ‘archetypal’ and suggestive of a more universal meaning rooted in the very physiology of the human mind-body complex that is our common heritage regardless of color or creed. [This article originally appeared on Continue reading here …]

Blockchain Technology: The Ultimate Boon Or Bondage?

In a recent blog post, author and international investor Simon Black (aka ‘Sovereign Man’) raised a good point, yet one that is seldom considered:

“Cryptocurrency and Blockchain technology are the final nails in the coffin, making it possible to hold your savings in the cloud rather than at a bank.

And if that seems too esoteric, consider that your savings is already ‘digital currency’.

Banks don’t keep bricks of physical cash in their vaults; your bank balance is nothing more than an accounting entry in your bank’s electronic database.

It just happens to be 100% controlled by your bank.

They can gamble your savings away on some idiotic investment fad, charge you ridiculous fees without your consent, and even freeze you out of your own account (‘for your own security’) or deny you the right to withdraw funds.”

Black is correct. When you hear of the trillions in government bailouts and ‘quantitative easing’, it isn’t as though Uncle Sam is lowering the machine arm on ye’ ole’ printing press and printing up trillions in new paper currency. Far from it. Fiat dollars are for the most part already digitized.

Yet another recent article on cryptocurrency appeared a few days back in The Atlantic, which takes a contrary tone, entitled Cryptocurrency Might Be a Path To Authoritarianism, and asks whether blockchain technology is paving the way toward a more centralized and troubling authoritarian agenda, rather than increasing people’s independence as Black argues.

The author of that piece, Ian Bogost, is right to voice a concern, arguing in part that the blockchain has the potential to unleash the kind of surveillance state apparatus few tyrants have ever dreamed of. [This article originally appeared on Continue reading here …]

Vote Smeagol 2016 – A Candidate You Can Trust

Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m honored and excited to bring you this special announcement.

Though the media has not yet picked up on this story, word has just been leaked to this author through an inside source, of an official latecomer to the 2016 U.S. Presidential election race.

The candidate in question is none other than Smeagol, a former hobbit best known for his role in The Lord Of The Rings.

The initial press briefing took place behind closed doors, yet has had the good fortune of obtaining these unreleased still photos of Smeagol’s early campaign platform.

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The Stanford Rape Case and the Role of Corporate Media

Back in College I once took a Sociology course on Mass Media and Semiotics. Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols. Of the few things I seem to recall learning from that class was the following kernel of wisdom imparted by our professor: “Media doesn’t so much tell you what to think, as it tells you what to think about“.

Brock Turner

Brock Turner

Case in point, currently the mainstream news, the internet blogosphere and social media are being saturated with coverage on the recently convicted Stanford University rapist Brock Turner, whose actions are without doubt both reprehensible and indefensible. As a result of this coverage, many people are understandably feeling a sense of outrage over the news, the manner in which the incident has been handled and a comparatively lenient 6-month sentence handed out by Judge Aaron Persky. An online petition has been formed that now consists of over 1 million signatures calling for this Judge’s removal.

In the midst of the current barrage of reporting, op-eds, blogging, viral videos, and social memes, regardless of what you may think, while you are busy thinking about the Stanford rape case, you are however not busy thinking about the case of Felipe Peralez, a former La Joya, Texas cop who as of 2015 was charged and found guilty of raping a woman while she was in custody over a probation violation at the La Joya City Jail where he supervised. Like Brock Turner, Peralez also received just a six month sentence (plus 1 additional month in County jail).

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