It was 109 Degrees in Paris Yesterday

Paris saw a record high temperature of 42.6C (108.7F) on Thursday, amid a heatwave that broke records across Western Europe.

A red alert – the highest level – was issued in northern France.

Meanwhile Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands also reached new record highs, of 41.8C, 41.5C, 40.8C and 40.7C respectively.

The UK recorded a record temperature for July of 38.1C, with trains told to run more slowly to stop rails buckling.

Weather, of course, is not climate. But it’s hard not to imagine global warming has something to do with it, and quite frankly this terrifies me. Paris is far north of New Jersey. A few weeks ago, a few days in the high 90s in the northeastern USA was a major news story. 109 degrees in New Jersey is unimaginable. And it’s inevitable.

Why Are Conspiracy Theories So Addictive?

A couple of weeks ago, for reasons I can’t entirely remember, I started reading a book by David McGowan (who was a major figure in the 9/11 Truth movement) called “Weird Scenes from the Canyon.”

Weird Scenes from the Canyon is not about 9/11. It’s about popular culture. McGowan, who died back in 2015, argues that the hippie culture of the 1960s, which many people from “my generation” (Generation X to be specific) resent having missed, was not about peace, love and idealism. Rather, the iconic counterculture of the 1960s was actually a psyop by the CIA and Army Intelligence to misdirect the anti-war movement into world of hedonism and selfish individualism. But it gets even better. The counterculture of the 1960s was more than just a dirty trick to make anti-war protesters tune in, turn on, and drop out (of the anti-war movement) is was a sinister world of death, drugs, and pedophilia. I was shocked, for example, to learn that Neil Young (whom I’ve worshipped for years) was good friends with Charles Manson.

Weird Scenes from the Canyon is not a well-argued or well-written book. McGowan doesn’t even come close to proving his case. Just about the only thing he succeeds in doing is compiling a list of just how many iconic rock musicians had some connection to the military industrial complex. Jim Morrison’s father, for example, was the high ranking naval officer who planned the Gulf of Tonkin hoax. Frank Zappa’s family was involved in making chemical weapons. David Crosby is from a ruling class family closely connected with New York Van Cortlandts. Even working class Chicago Polish kid Ray Manzarek attempted to enlist in the Army Intelligence Corps, and, while he proved a bit too flaky to last, was allowed to sell drugs before he was discharged. The drug deals funded his graduate school at UCLA, where he met Jim Morrison. It’s all fascinating trivia but in the end, it’s only trivia. World War II meant an almost universal military mobilization. If every early Boomer with relatives who worked for the Military Industrial Complex had been part of some sinister conspiracy there wouldn’t have been many people outside of it. What’s more, McGowan goes on long tangents about unrelated issues, jumps around in time, and never quite gets to making his case. It’s a tedious read that makes you feel stupid after you’ve put it down, intellectual junk food.

I’m an educated man. I have a degree in English from a fairly reputable university and I’m working on a second degree in computer science and applied mathematics from another fairly reputable university. My family, for all its problems, was secular and liberal. I’ve studied history. It’s almost impossible to fool me with a fake Lincoln or Jefferson quote because I’m a pretty good judge of what language people used in the 18th and 19th Centuries, and how different it is from our own. I’ve read Marx and Adam Smith. I’ve studied economics. I know that there’s no grand, unifying, sinister conspiracy controlling history. And yet, I find grand, unifying conspiracy theories endlessly fascinating, almost necessary for my sanity. Last week, for example, when they finally arrested Jeffrey Epstein, my first impulse was to log onto the Internet and try to find some semi-coherent conspiracy explaining why they finally arrested him after all these years when almost everybody not in a coma for the past decade has long since realized he was a pedophile and a sex trafficker for the elite. Yes, I realize that every once in awhile the American ruling class will thrown some particularly egregious one of their own (Bernie Madoff, Martin Shkreli, and now Epstein) to the wolves, if only to prove that the system “works,” that “we’re a nation of laws.” But I couldn’t help but wonder. “Why now?”

In an excellent article in an online magazine called The Cut, Lisa Miller gives a rational explanation for both my fascination with Weird Scenes from the Canyon and my befuddlement over why the establishment finally decided to put Jeffrey Epstein in jail. Miller is a few years older than I am, part of what I like to call the “Boomer X Generation,” people born from 1960 to 1968, too young for the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s but too old to be part of Generation X proper. Jeffrey Epstein, she argues, dredging up bad memories from my childhood about the cynicism and vulgarity of the late 1970s and early 1980s that had replaced the idealism of the 1960s, is what happens when the “sexual revolution” turns rancid, when it stops being about imagining a better world and starts being about an excuse for the rich and privileged to exploit the poor and vulnerable.

“The sexual revolution,” writes Maurice Isserman in America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s, “was an insurgency rooted in the conviction that the erotic should be celebrated as an utterly normal part of life.” This conviction, though admirable in concept, has mostly failed in practice. A generation of entrepreneurial and “brilliant” men took the job of defining the “erotic” for everyone else, without consulting or including the intepretations of women, and then purveyed to the masses an eros that degraded women and girls while pitching it as “healthy.” And then a generation of high-minded consumers accepted that definition — together with their belief in their natural right to be titillated — without making any meaningful distinctions between preferences and kinks and crimes.

While there was no grand, unifying conspiracy organized by Army Intelligence and the CIA, the counterculture of the 1960s had been a scam. We had all been duped, not only those early Boomers who thought that smoking pot and fucking could replace doing the hard work of ending the war and racism, but us Generation Xers who longed for a time when popular mass culture was “good,” when Grace Slick and Marty Balin were writing Somebody to Love and not We Built this City. The rich and powerful had gotten even more rich and powerful. The working class got nothing a long cultural hangover and meaningless nostalgia.

Shortly after Watergate Stevie Wonder wrote one of the greatest protest songs in American history.

While You Haven’t Done Nothin’ was written as an attack on Richard Nixon, it seems more suited to the current day Democrats, to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. The Republicans under Trump aren’t even pretending that they’re going to “change right from wrong.” All they offer is nihilism and racism, the idea that the world is a shitty place and that the strong (rightfully) eat the weak. They are what they are. Cunts. The Democrats, on the other hand, pretend to be something different, enlightened liberals who, if only we give them another chance, will make the world a better place this time, honest. After Barack Obama won in 2008 on the ideas of “hope and change” and then proceeded to give us 8 more years of George W. Bush, of war and elite privilege, repression and hypocrisy, nobody believes them. Or should I say no working class person believes them. The upper-middle-class, the lawyers, doctors, university professors and professional journalists, the “professional managerial class” still seem to buy into the idea that the Democrats are playing some kind of “12-Dimensional Chess,” that if only we keep voting for them they’re going to “change right from wrong.” Is it “bad faith?”? No. it’s worst. Upper middle-class Americans have convinced themselves that bad faith isn’t bad faith at all but intelligence and sophistication, the ability to see “nuance.” Sure Obama let the criminal bankers who crashed the economy in 2008 off the hook scot free but if only us peasants understood the law, we’d understand that he had to.

In her article in Politico, a write named Holly Otterbein points out that the class differences between Democrats who support Elizabeth Warren and Democrats who support Bernie Sanders has more to do with class than ideology or race. The professional managerial class supports Warren. The working class supports Sanders.

It’s not hard to see why. Sanders did attend the University of Chicago, an elite institution by any definition, but unlike most politicians he did not go onto law school. Instead he moved to Vermont and struggled for years before he finally emerged as the Mayor of Burlington and then a US Senator. Unlike Warren and Harris, both lawyers, Bernie Sanders doesn’t seem to be temperamentally capable of mistaking bad faith for intelligence. Everybody knows that Warren and Harris will eventually back off of their promises to support Medicare for All. The working class knows it. The professional managerial class knows it. But unlike the Professional Managerial Class the working class won’t confuse bullshit for intelligence. They seem confident that while Sanders may fail to enact Medicare for All that at least he’ll probably try. Warren and Harris on the other hand will argue that their watered down, fake version of Medicare for All (which will undoubtedly have the blessings of the big insurance companies) is what we needed all along, if only all of us ignorant proles could understand the reasons.

That in the end brings me back to conspiracy theories. Why are they so popular? They assume “bad faith” on the part of the corporate media and mainstream politicians, and they never try to bullshit us into thinking that this bad faith is actually intelligence, sophistication and nuance. At this point, with a gutted, underfunded media, captured regulatory agencies, and lying bought out main stream politicians it’s probably the most rational way to look at the world. As ridiculous as many conspiracy theories are, when somebody is pissing on your head, none of them try to convince you that it’s raining. Just the opposite. That pigeon who shit on my head last week? He meant it.

On Being a Millennial Turning 30

I have written two full length books and 160 articles for this website but I walk dogs for a living. Part of this was leaving college in the wake of the financial crash, part of this was refusing to water down my politics to suit an increasingly regressive employment culture, part of this was journalistic institutions shunning my job applications when I got out of college due to my heavy involvement in Occupy Wall Street.

I wish it paid more, but I’m pretty happy walking dogs. The dogs themselves are great, I get exercise, I get to be outside, and it gives me a lot of flexibility in my schedule. It doesn’t really leave me with much of an economic future, but few things in this economy do, and most of them are more greedy for your time.

And it was a pretty cozy arrangement for a couple years. But like most other things in my life, the repeated terrible decisions humanity has made since the dawn of the 20th century, particularly brute forcing society to revolve around personal automobiles and the advent of the internet surveillance economy, have fucked it up.

The heat wave this summer has been so bad that when I get to the dogs, as often as not they literally do not want to go outside. They get out quickly, do their business, then look up as if to say “What else do you want from me?” Sometimes the sidewalk is so hot they rightly refuse to step on it and tug the leash as if they were telling me to check my shoe privilege.

Sometimes it has been so hot that I don’t feel right even taking them outside for the full time I’m contracted for and I’ve had to get creative, walking them around the hallways of their apartment complexes or mapping out what sidewalks will be shaded at what time of day in my head.

If you’ve ever owned or met a dog, you know that pretty much every dog always wants to go outside all the time. But that’s the reality of climate change. Everything has its limits.

People frequently ask me if I work for Wag, a rent-seeking, parasitic “platform” company that most people seem to trust despite the fact that literally all they do is siphon money from professional dog walkers and leave your pets with people they have not really vetted at all. I hear horror stories about Wag walkers not actually showing up, sleeping in peoples’ homes when they’re not there, or hitting the animals.

Yet people are hooked on platform companies like they were heroin. And that addiction has worked out to economic warfare against my generation.

The generation that gave birth to most of the Millennials, the Baby Boomers, have turned out to be the most selfish generation in human history. They value their own comfort and convenience over the lives and futures of their children. They ignored climate change until…until shit. They’re still ignoring it.

“Tune out, turn off, fuck you I got mine” seems to be the refrain going through their heads. They run around gleefully shitting on everything, reveling in the fact they may well be the last generation that gets to die restfully on their own terms.

I want to be a positive and inspiring voice, but I don’t see much in the future to be optimistic about. US infrastructure is still crumbling. Every year the drinking water becomes less safe to drink, the outdoors become less hospitable to walk in, the people I meet seem to have retreated into the cocoon of their phones and endless window shopping. Everyone (or at least everyone I’m around) sees their standard of living rapidly decreasing to subsistence level. Kids get eviscerated by automatic weapons in schools on a daily basis and all the 1% see are more dollar signs. Should I expect anything different? The same 1% are lining up to push us into World War III, Holocaust II, and complete environmental collapse like they were rides at an amusement park.

As they always have, the 1% get off almost sexually on our suffering in and of itself, perhaps even more than they get off on profiting from it.

Like Ted Bundy, the ability to inflict pain makes them feel powerful and secure.

Perhaps at least this time they will be cooked alive with us. Such are the small consolations that run through the Millennial and Gen Z mind.

And beyond the environmental collapse, there has been a collapse of the social infrastructure as well. People used to connect socially by entertaining each other, but who has the energy for that when “entertainment” surrounds them in a claustrophobic cycle of emotional manipulation? Why would anyone spend the time and effort to know someone when they’ve been conditioned to know there will always be something shinier around the corner when they swipe right?

The greatest social effect of the cell phone has been to privilege communications of those people who are nowhere near us over those close to us, as if every text message were a dire emergency. And we’ve rolled over and accepted this as the new normal. We purposely distance ourselves from others so we can become complicit in exploiting them despite the fact they are us. Exploitative internet apps like Uber give us little tastes of what it feels like to be the one doing the exploiting in drips and drabs and it turned out that was enough to buy us off. We haven’t forgotten the children in cages at the border, we have ghosted them.

The timidity of those who favored self advancement and personal comfort over supporting those of us who have chosen to fight will be remembered harshly by history, presuming anyone’s still there to write it.

Yet I have great hope for Gen Z. They have grown up with no illusions about the dire situation we face. They have no choice but to struggle.

My resolution for my 30s is to throw in my lot with them.

It Can And Is Happening Here

I gave a quick talk about Occupy Wall Street to the Malta NY Rotary Club once. A man came up to me afterward. He looked like the aged Buster Keaton of The Railrodder and had made his living before he retired fixing CRT televisions. In the abstract I should have loved this guy.

He came up to me after my talk, clearly seeing I was Jewish and knowing my politics because I’d just given a talk about them and said “What we need to fix this problem is…a Holocaust but for the Muslims this time.”

I was horrified. I saw in his eyes that he didn’t want Muslims put in concentration camps, tortured and killed because he hated Muslims, but that he wanted to hate Muslims because deep down he wanted to see people put into concentration camps, tortured and killed. And he looked like Buster Keaton.

I went around to practically everyone I knew and described the incident. I said that without some unforeseen major event, this country would either go hard left or hard right within 5 years.

Some of them responded with sensitivity to my evident distress. Some of them shrugged it off and said something to the effect “That could never happen in the US.” (Poor Sinclair Lewis.) Almost no one seemed to take me seriously. Even if they did, I’m not sure I knew anyone who had the power to right this. I just hoped and prayed that I did and didn’t know it.

Now the president* is openly endorsing a woman who is saying, basically “We need a Holocaust, but with the Muslims this time.”

Anyone who thinks that they’re safe because they’re not latino/a so they’ll never be put in a camp, please read your history. That’s not how it works.

The racist mob wants to feel better about themselves by killing men women and children. But they never actually will feel better, so they will not stop torturing and killing men, women, and children until they are obliterated and marginalized. We need to stand together against this. We can’t be afraid to be arrested, assaulted, or worse. Never again means no more concentration camps.

The mob wants blood. They don’t care whose blood it is. In Nazi Germany, children sent their own parents to concentration camps, and officials within the Nazi party would even kill each other and lie about it in order to feel like big shots.

Leaders of the Jewish community, early on, would say “We need to work with them and then they’ll be appeased”, much like the establishment Democrats are saying now. These former leaders were, in all likelihood, gassed or shot and dumped in anonymous mass graves along with the communities that mistook their cowardice for leadership.

If you’re Jewish and think that Trump’s base won’t come after you and doesn’t hate Jews, you are delusional. Your being delusional is probably endangering the lives and safety of your friends and loved ones, and definitely endangering the lives and safety of the groups the Nazi GOP have decided to use as trial balloons to see if the US, “land of the brave, home of the free” will be fine with them throwing whoever they want into concentration camps.

Please share this with anyone you think should read it.

*I had a link in this article sourcing the president* endorsing someone who’s openly advocating for genocide against Muslims, but it was messing up the article formatting, so I’ve provided it in the comments section below.