Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Exploitation of MMA Fighters

In recent years, mixed martial arts (MMA) has seen a tremendous surge in popularity. The MMA industry has largely been built on the backs of men who trained tirelessly, fought courageously and suffered incredible pain and terrible injuries, all for nominal sums of money. The disparity between the earnings of the fighters and the earnings of the promoters flew under the radar for the first couple of years. As the sport grew more and more popular, it became harder for promoters to both justify paying the talent so niggardly a pittance and still keep the exploitative nature of their industry a secret.

"Exploitation" is a strong word but it seems an appropriate description of how fighters are treated. To wit, it has been estimated that UFC fighters are paid roughly 7.5% of the revenue, with the other 92.5% going to the promoters1 That seems an inadequate reward for risking serious harm and disfigurement.

Example A: Former middleweight champion Rich Franklin, unquestionably a future UFC Hall-of-Famer. Franklin played a huge part in the growth of the sport and of the UFC in particular. As great as Franklin's accomplishments are, he will always be remembered equally for the thrashing he received at the hands of now reigning champion Anderson Silva in their unforgettable match at UFC 64. Franklin was horribly disfigured by a knee to the face that broke his nose (which remains grotesquely misshapen even after extensive plastic surgery). He had this to say about the discrepancy between earnings and pay.

"If I could change one thing, I would change the paydays...I'm just concerned about my future."

Who are these promoters growing rich off of the blood, sweat and tears of others? The most visible offender is UFC president Dana White, an aerobics instructor turned entrepreneur worth an estimated $150 million2. White justifies his tightness with the purse strings by explaining fighters are rewarded with bonuses for an outstanding performance3.

"We bonus these guys with big checks. Plus there's bonuses built into the fights. Trust me when I tell you these guys are making a lot of money and we are on par with all these other sports."

That sounds nice on paper, but the base payouts are so low that even with bonuses galore, fighters are still grossly underpaid. And what if you lose? What if you win but just don't have that great of a fight? You can't hit a home run every time you're at bat, after all. Fighters just starting out make between $4000 and $6000 as a base payout4. At a minimum, fighters need the same necessities everyone needs—food, shelter, clothing, medicine and transportation. Most notable is the cost of medical care, a serious consideration for someone risking their health every time they enter the octagon. Additionally, fighters incur expenses to pay for their own gym memberships, training equipment, sparring partners, etc. None of this is covered by the promoters and all of these have to be subtracted from the $4,000 purse, alongside the bills everyone has to pay; gas, electricity, phone, car insurance, etc. It's a wonder a rising star can so much as break even and most do not.

Former UFC heavyweight champion and Pride Grand Prix 2000 champion Mark Coleman was candid about his poor performance against Mauricio Rua in 2009.

"I didn't have any money for a training camp before this fight. Those things cost money, man and I just couldn't afford it."

Looking at Coleman, it's hard to escape the reality of the situation—for most, there is no future in MMA, not even for those who reach the elite pinnacle of fighting for world titles. There is no guaranteed money, no pension, no healthcare plan and the promoters literally pay you what they feel like paying you. This spurs the question, why are so many fighters willing to suffer this exploitation? You have to remember many of the athletes currently competing in MMA were at one point elite athletes in their respective sports of wrestling, judo, jiu-jitsu, SAMBO, etc. And while there is very little money in MMA, there is even less money in something like freestyle wrestling. As chronicled in the HBO documentary The Smashing Machine, Coleman first entered into MMA out of desperation and a need to provide for his wife and two children. He's hardly alone. As hard as it is to watch a guy like Ken Shamrock hobble around on bad knees getting bludgeoned by guys half his age, he has 7 kids across two marriages and no other way to feed them. On a side note, both Coleman and Shamrock are UFC Hall-of-Famers. Their contributions to the sport are enormous. How truly heartbreaking it is to see them both in such dire straits.

What is the solution? Forming a union seems the only long term solution, but MMA is different from team sports like basketball and baseball. When a team or (group of teams) strike, it is many athletes striking in unison. When a fighter goes on strike, it's very likely there will be 10 up and comers dying for the chance to take his place. The only way it could work is if the champions and contenders were to strike in solidarity with the less favored. For now, the options available to fighters remain slim and dismal.

Editor's note: the UFC instituted a health care plan for fighters that has been expanded as of July 9, 2012 to provide coverage for pre-existing conditions.

1. UFC Discretionary Bonuses and Revenue vs. Fighter Payouts
2. Dana White's Net Worth
3. Dana White Answers Critics
4. UFC 130 Payouts, Salaries and Earnings 

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Internet Trolls and Evolving Human Consciousness

I'm speaking as a self-tutored Psychologist and a former "Internet Troll" - as well as speaking as myself. The Internet Troll is a phenomena that is used quite a lot to silence the members of a community that aren't on the same "level" as the rest, and appear to be causing termoil and "getting people" angry. The Troll is a real thing, and one of it's most interesting qualities is that it is an expression of our evolving Consciousness.

Everyone knows what Anonymous is these days. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry has something to say about *it* (which is usually the same thing). But it seems no one can tell you their history. I was Anonymous 3 years before it's shift into mainstream and at that time we were mainly interested in handing paedophiles over to the FBI and torturing the owners and communities of websites. We were after no big calling, although a lot of us felt one, we were after a good laugh. The Internet Troll didn't originate with Anonymous but its a relic of that tendency for people to experiment with words.

The Internet is now known as a great anonymizing tool to most people, it offers a great deal of protection from intimidation in most of its forms; mainly the types of intimidation exuded by other people.
And so it is a great platform for people to experiment with the vulnerable minds and short fuses of people who would normally rely on the intimidation of the average social setting and indeed the intimidation they exude themselves. These minds are, by virtue of other strengths, weak in the context of knowing their own boundaries.

Trolls consciously or otherwise understand the power of language. They choose the words they use wisely based on the normal weaknesses of the average individual. They know we tend to get emotionally involved with what we read, we don't trust our own convictions enough to know they're talking utter nonesense, and quite a lot of the time people online are itching for a fight. It takes a very few select words to compromise the integrity of this weak psyche.
Without the ability to project physical or social dominance (since the drama is now occuring in the victim's head in an empty room), the victims launches at this guy who is at liberty to say ANYTHING because he has no Social Persona to maintain within the community or he's decided to forsake it.

But one vital part of this not-so-new trend that is missing is the conscious understanding of what it is - it's us freeing ourselves from the Social Hierarchies. This involves a growing understanding of language and symbols, and how they can disaffect or uplift the mind. You can say shit online that you can't say in other situations; if you're aware of this then you'll see outside of our Linguistic Matrix just a little more.

Trolls are an upsetting lot, they disturb us and play tricks to lure us into wasting our time with them, they show us images we would much rather not see. So it is easy to confuse the slightly rebelious members of a community with the people who are consciously trying to disturb it. The "Troll Phenomena" is now the new "Communism". It's the new "Mental Illness". All online communities build some kind social structure heavily based on linguistics, replicating the social structures we built in real life (with huge liberal changes). This can be subtle, in the way that you walk into a library and you speak softly or enter a temple and feel reverence. The disaffected of our culture have a stronger voice online, and they sometimes passionately display their convictions. This will at times result in conflict with other people who were yet-unaware or intolerant of that individuals disposition.

The individual (or Mutant, as Jonathan Zap terms it) will always conflict with the community if he feels threatened by it (real or perceived), He requires space away from the community and to maintain a keen sense of His individual light in the world - It's a process of negotiation that each individual must consciously partake of to complete His individuation. This involves being able to voice your own needs to yourself in the correct terms, as we tend to clog that constant stream of experiential "data" - mostly by way of thinking about those needs in terms of other people. Since we are the word-dominated creature we gain a lot from being able to articulate our feelings, sensations, ideas, desires, and needs in our native language.
When we think less yet more efficiently and imaginatively we are directly plugged into this miraculous phenomena known as "Now". We think for almost every moment of our waking lives without any real pay-off or joy/playfulness. It's not fun, because it's mostly about the past that haunted you, the present you feel hopeless in, the future you're not always sure of, and the world of other people. Obviously man's thinking if off target.

Well how do we find out what it IS geared towards? We play with our words and we make new thoughts.

In conclusion: I'm not asking people to completely accept trolls, and let them completely run amuck, I'm asking people to recognise the negotiation of linguistic boundaries going on. Recognise the part inside of you that wants to get involved with the people you consider trolls. Ask yourself why you feel the need to police the expressions of others instead of walking away and/or continuing what you were doing. Maybe also ask yourself whether what you were doing or thinking was really all that important if someone distracted you from doing it with some "insignificant" words. Is life really that cheap?

Know Thy Self. Avail of the fabulous opportunity that trolls provide for you to do that.

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Letter from the White House

How disappointing.

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Introduction to Scientology

A multimedia primer on the violent and dangerous cult of L. Ron Hubbard.

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Friday, October 28, 2011

10/28/11 - This Week in Head Explode

Kill Em All

October 22, 2011 at 5:08 AM

Kill 'Em All and Let God Sort 'Em Out


Look, I enjoy killing as much as the next guy. Not one but two of my favorite movies are actually called The Killers–the great original film noir, based on a Hemingway story, and Don Siegal's '60s remake, featuring Ronald Reagan as a vicious crime boss who slaps the hell out of Angie Dickinson–and which opens with Lee Marvin executing a blind man in cold blood. I'm an American, and as D.H. Lawrence said, "The essential American soul is cold, isolate, stoic, and a killer." We may have lost most of the stoicism, but if anything we've grown colder and more isolated since Lawrence's day–and when it comes to killing? Count us in!

But the killing that presses our aesthetic pleasure-buttons, in movies and books, is mostly the raw, spontaneous kind. When murder becomes a primary instrument of foreign policy, to be casually plotted in public by the likes of Hillary Clinton and Wolf Blitzer, it takes all the fun out of it. And to hear Barack Obama say, as he's done ad nauseum, that Bin Laden, Khaddafy, and countless others should be "killed or captured"–nod, wink, repeat–is truly bizarre: the professor as mob boss, Jimmy Stewart in the James Cagney role.

Blitzer started casually discussing the merits of the U.S. murdering Khaddafy a few months back, and I found that bizarre as well–if only because we'd already murdered the guy's baby daughter, and even the mob frowns on infanticide. But then again, Blitzer is, in his pathetic way, an insider, and he knows what our government knows: in the oldest of mob-movie cliches, "dead men tell no tales." Like Obama and Bush, he doesn't want to see Khaddafy in a witness chair. So he morphs from Wolf Blitzer, ultimate nerd, to Wolf Blitzer, cold-eyed killer.

Instead of wearing their sedate, I'm-important suits, they should all be sporting those nitwit T-shirts that say "Kill 'Em All And Let God Sort 'Em Out." Because that phrase has gone from a Soldier of Fortune boast to official U.S. policy.

By drone, by bomb, by bullet. By soldier, by contractor, by proxy. The guilty and the innocent. With "bi-partisan" support. From Lumumba to Allende to today's news-flash, the blood-trail grows longer and darker.

One of the survivors of the Warsaw ghetto under the Nazis made a point I have never forgotten. She knew they were killing Jews in secret every night: everyone knew it. But one morning she woke up and saw Jews hanging from lamp-posts in the street. And what terrified her, she said–what made her realize that the end was truly near–was that "they weren't even bothering to hide it any more."

In the old days–like the mob–at least we tried to hide our political murders. What does it say about this cold and isolated country, in the 21st century, that now we celebrate them?

John Eskow is a writer and musician. He wrote or co-wrote the movies Air America, The Mask of Zorro, and Pink Cadillac, as well as the novel Smokestack Lightning.
A Fellow Named Ray and a Cat Named Matt

October 21, 2011 at 2:59 PM

So, at the beginning of October, I took a weekend trip to Philly to see Ray Lamontagne and the Pariah Dogs, and then Matt Nathanson the next night.

Ray was a solid show. Nice crowd, amazing atmosphere. Sexy raspy voice. Ray dresses like he's Amish, but I think that's just because he's trying too hard to be cool by being anti-fashion. He really draws you into his songs, and it's reminiscent of the the time I saw M. Ward in concert. It's just hypnotizing and relaxing.

Matt Nathanson's show was fantastic. Matt's shows are always part music, part comedy. He's just got this quirky, humble attitude. He's not trying too hard to fit into the industry, he just is who he is, and I like that. His Celine Dion impression left everyone bursting with laughter. He and his guitarist rocked a Simon and Garfunkel cover. They did their own rendition of "Blister in the Sun." Matt's songs are much different from his original singer/songwriter style back in the day, but I don't think it's in a bad way. His songs are tighter, some of them more radio-friendly, yet I don't ever feel like they're lacking substance or musicality, and I like his experimentation with other styles and the addition of songs with some guest singers.

After the show, he stayed over 2 hrs while people waited in line to meet him and take pictures and stuff. I had met him once before, and when I told him it was back in 2004, he was taken aback. "Whoa, 2004? Really?" He signed my poster which he said was awesome because, "It glows in the fucking dark." and told me the first girl he ever made out with was named Alyssa. How does a gal respond to that? Hot damn.

We were one of the last ones at the venue, it was raining, and everyone had stolen all the cabs, so we popped into the only bar in the area, right next to the venue to have a drink while waiting on a cab to make its way across town. It was there that we met Matt's band, as well as Vanessa Carlton's violinist (Vanessa was Matt's opening act). They were super sweethearts. At one point I may have called the adorable Jewish keyboardist an anti-Semite and threatened to take his job as Matt's keyboardist.

Anyway, 'twas good times.
Favorite Snacks?

October 21, 2011 at 2:41 PM

What are your favorite things to eat when you get a snack attack?

I love Gala apples with some natural PB.
Weekend Shenanigoats?

October 21, 2011 at 2:39 PM

What's on tap for this weekend y'all? I was supposed to be hanging out all weekend with the legendary Saison, but we had to cancel because our lives got busy. Very "suckish" as the kids say.

I just got promoted to crew chief/manager of my project. Quite the honor in our company, since there aren't a lot of lasses who get promoted as such, and definitely not as young as I am. I didn't even sleep with anyone! I just worked hard and stuff! What a world! Only bad thing is that I'm starting to not like my job as much. Too many spreadsheets, too many phone calls, so little sleep.

Tonight I'm going to go to dinner, relax, have a drink, and listen to a band that's playing in town.

I think tomorrow I'm going to chop, split, and stack wood for the winter.

I also have to get a few things for my Halloween costume.

And since it's supposed to be kind of sunny and 60 degrees, I'm sure a walk or two will be in order.

Someone's weekend has to be more interesting than mine. So, do tell.

McDonald's Employee and Convicted Killer Beats Women with Metal Rod

October 26, 2011 at 12:14 PM

I'm sure by now you've all gotten wind of this but nonetheless, here's a link to some decent coverage.

In a scary confrontation filmed by a diner, a cashier at a McDonald's in Manhattan can be seen beating two female customers with a metal rod after the duo jumped the counter during a dispute early yesterday morning.

As seen in the above video, Rayon McIntosh, 31, repeatedly struck the women while they were on the ground behind the counter at the McDonald's, which is across from the famed West 4th Street basketball courts in Greenwich Village.

According to a felony criminal complaint filed against McIntosh, one woman suffered a "fractured skull requiring surgery" and a broken bone in her arm during the assault. The second woman suffered "substantial pain and a laceration," the complaint notes.

McIntosh is facing two felony assault counts and a criminal possession of a weapon charge. The women, who hurtled the counter during a dispute over their food order, have been hit with menacing, disorderly conduct, and trespass counts. One woman can be seen on the video slapping McIntosh in the face.

Watch the video in the article above if you get the chance. It's pretty clear they physically attacked him first and he was acting in self defense. But does that make it okay? I'd say he went way, way too far. Nonetheless, I have no sympathy for those women whatsoever. None. They shouted insults at him and slapped him just for doing his job. Then they jumped over the counter intent on doing further harm. Looks like they picked the wrong dude to fuck with. Karma's a bitch.

I need to stop following the news. bleh It feels like I'm cheating on my mental diet.

Friday, October 21, 2011

10/21/11 - This Week in Head Explode

Unit 731: The Horrors of the Asian Auschwitz
October 15, 2011 at 5:25 PM

Through the practice of lethal human experimentation, the unit is thought to have been responsible for the death of up to 200,000 civilians and military personnel – the vast majority Chinese and Korean nationals.

In the sprawling six kilometer-square complex in the city of Harbin (now part of Northeast China) those behind the sickening 'research' developed some of the most cruel and sadistic experiments ever to be conducted on human victims. These included vivisection, amputations, germ warfare tests, explosive weapons testing, and much more.

Organs were removed from test subjects while they were still alive so that decomposition would not alter the results as was feared might happen.

The brains behind the unit, Shiro Ishii, lived in peace and quiet to the ripe old age of 67, when he died of throat cancer. The United States felt that the research into germ warfare was too valuable to lose and so cut a deal with the Japanese.

By granting immunity to Ishii and the other scientists working under him, the US wanted to ensure that no other nation would lay its hands on their research into bio-warfare. However, the Soviets did glean a certain amount of information after prosecuting 12 leaders and scientists from Unit 731 in war crimes trials held in 1949.

I find it sad that the US actually honoured the immunity deal with Shiro Ishii and put him on on government payroll.. Considering all the regime changes the CIA has helped orchestrate you'd think they'd be able to stomach breaking a deal with at least the ringleader.

On the flip-side considering the US didn't sign the Geneva Accord on biological weapons till 1975 at least they weren't breaking it as the Soviets were.

A Pet Peeve: "My People..."
October 18, 2011 at 8:57 AM
I greatly dislike it when an upper middle class African American from Sacramento who was born in 1992, privately educated, drives a BMW paid for by mommy and daddy and raised in a McMansion talks about how hard life is because they're black. And moreover, how great black people are because "We built this country!" To which you respond, "Uh, you were born in 1992, you didn't build jack shit" and they in turn respond "Well, my people built this country. Do you have any idea what my people have gone through?"

Actually, yeah, I do. It doesn't change the fact that you personally are a pain in the ass self pitying 19 year old who has contributed nothing of value to society, endured absolutely no major hardship whatsoever and has jack shit to complain about.

Edit: video related. I love this fucking guy.

Army vet stands ground against police at occupy wall street
October 18, 2011 at 5:00 AM
That's what we've got here.

Wynia on Exiled
October 18, 2011 at 4:03 AM
I had a weird series of dreams about these barbarians in an Arabic culture in the desert, and if you don't follow their god, or worship their idols or whatever, you're tossed out to survive on your own. And you think, my god, I'm going to die out here, and that's when you run into all the other people that were tossed out on their own because they didn't fit. The idea of the song was very much to me that if you don't give in to that anger and bitterness and that depression, but instead you carve and squeeze the fat from the land and you pull people together, you can come back and take over. And I think in a lot of ways it's sort of a mobilization know, don't just sit back and feel pathetic. Love who you are."

This has always been one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands and never has it been more immediately relevant to our time. Sharing is caring. Hug

October 20, 2011 at 1:13 AM
This kid is blowin shit up on the youtube machine.

Some of his tracks have gotten between 15 and 30 million views, which is beyond insane for an electronic producer, especially one fairly new. Just insane.

The most awesome God damned force in the whole godless world.
October 19, 2011 at 7:31 AM
Any thoughts on the mainstream media's irresponsible blackout of the Occupy Wall Street movement? Now it's too big to ignore but for way too long it went beneath the radar of corporate news. Olbermann blasted the shit out of the MSM's farcical lack of coverage not long ago.

Why isn't any major news outlet covering this? Do we have the crowd shots by any chance? Where you can see the dimensions? That one, that's the one. If that's a tea party protest in front of Wall Street about Ben Bernacke putting stimulus funds into it, it's the lead story on every network newscast. How is that disconnect possible in this country today with so many different outlets and so many different ways of transmitting news?"

It's kind of amazing Network was made in 1976 and gets more relevant with each passing year.

"We deal in illusions, man. None of it is true!"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Story Behind Floater's "Exiled"

"People have a tendency when they're outcast to become really angry and bitter, and that's justified. And what that song addresses, in a lot of ways, is when you start becoming angry and bitter--it's because you feel like that. I think the danger in that sense of being the black sheep is that you feel like you're the only one. Especially when you're really young, I think that's really common where you just feel like an alien and you don't really belong anywhere on Earth, or something."

"And when you least expect it, there ends up being a whole clan of people, and where it came from is that feeling. The individual members of the band definitely feel like that...all alone. And as a band in the music business, we totally feel like that. "Floater" is what we're about as people. We can't get on MTV or the radio or anything. And that's not necessarily for lack of, I don't know, people thinking that we're any good or anything like that, but primarily because we're just sort of exiles in the land of popular culture. And I think a lot of people feel like that, but what you start to discover is..."

"Say you're a musician and you can't seem to feel like anyone is ever paying any attention. One day you look out and there's a crowd of people, and they all totally identify with you. And all those people identify with you because they all feel the same way, and there's a kind of cult... I mean, people like to call it Gen-X or the underground, or indie or punk rock or whatever, but it's essentially the cult of the minority. It's the outcasts. There's a tendency to feel like you're the only one, but you're not."

"I had a weird series of dreams about these barbarians in an Arabic culture in the desert, and if you don't follow their god, or worship their idols or whatever, you're tossed out to survive on your own. And you think, my god, I'm going to die out here, and that's when you run into all the other people that were tossed out on their own because they didn't fit. The idea of the song was very much to me that if you don't give in to that anger and bitterness and that depression, but instead you carve and squeeze the fat from the land and you pull people together, you can come back and take over. And I think in a lot of ways it's sort of a mobilization know, don't just sit back and feel pathetic. Love who you are."

-Robert Wynia

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Friday, October 14, 2011

10/14/11 - This Week in Head Explode

Mental Dieting
October 13, 2011 at 5:35 AM

The most important of all factors in your life is the mental diet on which you live. It is the food which you furnish to your mind that determines the whole character of your life. It is the thoughts you allow yourself to think, the subjects that you allow your mind to dwell upon, which make you and your surroundings what they are. As they days, so shall they strength be. Everything in your life today the state of your body, whether healthy or sick, the state of your fortune, whether prosperous or impoverished, the state of your home, whether happy or the reverse, the present condition of every phase of your life in fact-is entirely conditioned by the thoughts and feelings which you have entertained in the past, by the habitual tone of your past thinking. And the condition of your life tomorrow, and next week, and next year, will be entirely conditioned by the thoughts and feelings which you choose to entertain from now onwards.

The Seven Day Mental Diet was published in 1935. I found out about it in 2007 and thought it was a great idea. But for whatever reason, it just sort of sat around on the ideas shelf for a long time, gathering dust. I saw it as a "nice to do" rather than a "must do."Recently that has changed. I am going to spend the next 7 days mentally dieting as strictly as I possibly can.

I'll update this thread here and there to let anyone who cares know how it is going. Rock Party hard.
Gegard Mousasi is pretty fucking ill
October 12, 2011 at 6:27 PM
This dude has been on my radar for some time now. He's an extremely good striker who is also a Judo black belt. He moves like water both standing and grappling. Take this fight for example. Journeyman Steve Mensing was hopelessly outmatched here. So much so that this almost isn't worth watching except to see how amazingly well Mousasi moved on the ground after surgically dissecting his opponent on the feet. Great hip movement. Some of the best I've ever seen from a 205 pounder. He has a bit of a padded record from fighting a bunch of bums early in his career but you see that constantly in boxing so I say get over it already.

There's been a lot of speculation as to how he would do in the UFC. I have to say, as big a fan of his as I am, right now the 205 lb. division in the UFC is the deepest it has ever been. There are SO many guys in contention. Even the second tier guys are still way better than pretty much anything you'll find in Strikeforce or Dream. The UFC also has some of the best wrestlers at 205 and wrestling seemed to be a bit of an achilles heel in his loss vs. King Mo. The fight was incredibly boring; so much it I don't even really think it's worth posting. It almost reminded me of a Matt Lindland victory; lots of lay-and-pray. But Mousasi is obviously a very intelligent fighter and amazing athlete. I expect him to get way better as time goes on. At 26, he's got probably another 10 years in him.

The fight that really blew me away was this complete domination of Renato "Babalu" Sobral. Babalu is a BAD motherfucker with notable wins over Chael Sonnen and Mauricio Rua, just to name a few. Very experienced, very tough and very well rounded. And Mousasi walked through him like he was nothing. Impressive to say the least.

ATTN: knavefuck
October 10, 2011 at 9:20 PM
Did you get that PM I sent you? Do you know how to check PMs with this software? The PM tab is right under the banner.
I talked to Victory
October 10, 2011 at 6:49 PM
In case y'all were wondering if he was kidnapped by ninjas, worry not. He is in the middle of some loldrama with his ISP and only has a cell phone for accessing the interwebs. But he'll be back.

They always come back. afro
Overeem vs. Lesnar
October 10, 2011 at 11:26 AM
Who will win this matchup between two steroid-fueled behemoths? One gigantic dude is afraid of getting hit and the other gigantic dude is pretty slow, clumsy and uncoordinated at grappling.

I'll go out on a limb and say that Lesner will take the big slow dude down and submit him.

Friday, October 7, 2011

10/7/11 - This Week in Head Explode

Earth's True Shape Revealed for the First Time
October 6, 2011 at 3:00 PM

After two years in orbit, the European Space Agency's (ESA) Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) is nearing the end of its planned life span in February, producing the most accurate map ever of the so-called geoid -- an Earth-encompassing spirit level and global reference surface. An unused supply of xeon fuel will allow the mission to be extended until at least the end of 2012.

Markedly different from a simple sphere or ellipsoid, the geoid is the mathematically 'true' shape of Earth. It represents a motionless global ocean but takes into account the effects of the Earth's rotation, weight difference resulting from the position of mountains and ocean trenches, and uneven mass distribution and density variations in the planet's interior.

Pretty good, pretty neat.
You know, there were some really good pop songs in the 80's.
October 6, 2011 at 7:04 AM
In A Big Country - Big Country

Always really liked this song. I just found out recently that the lead singer committed suicide.

Voices Carry - 'Til Tuesday

Fucking great track. Always loved it and I dig Aimme Mann.

Oingo Boingo - Stay

I was a huge Boingo fan growing up. I was pretty obsessed. I'm amazed at how well most of their work still sounds fresh to my ears. Danny Elfman looks especially insane in this video. The guitar work always sounded so awesome to me.

It seems like music in the 70's and 80's and even the 90's was more melodic. For some reason a lot of 80's pop songs seemed to have a more "mature" feel to them, like the songs were better developed. I wonder if this was because it was still believed by labels that only the best music would sell? Pop music these days doesn't seem as melodic to me, a lot of it has become really jagged sounding, annoying and immature. I can't explain it very well. I think it might have to do with the fact that once labels realized that it wasn't necessary to only release the "best" bands and that the quantity of units sold wasn't equal to the quality of the music, things changed. The formula now is only based on what sells - plain and simple. And what sells tends to be different from what you think would sell. See: LMFAO, Justin Bieber, Kesha, etc.
Talkin' bout blogging, son
October 5, 2011 at 6:41 PM
Blogs, eh?

Head Explode has a blog. I'm currently using it as a place to publish stray thoughts that are too big to fit into a traditional forum thread. How bout y'all? Do you blog? Have you blogged? Will you blog again anytime soon? Would you be willing to contribute to the blog here at Head Explode? Huh? Well would you?!

Pic unrelated.

Chomsky on Education
October 5, 2011 at 3:54 PM
Looks like a new topic is needed here, so here's an interview with Noam Chomsky concerning education.

What's the purpose of education in current society? Say, in the United States.

Well, we know the clichés about what it's supposed to be.

Yeah, I'm not asking that. What's the real purpose?

A lot of the purpose is just training for obedience and conformity. Actually, there has been a substantial movement since the 1960s in this direction. The 1960s were very frightening to elites. Liberal, right wing, whoever, they didn't like the fact that too many people were just becoming too independent. The literature focuses on the crazy fringe, which existed of course. But what really worried them was not the crazy fringe, but the mainstream of the activism, which was civilizing the country. It was raising questions that were difficult and unpleasant. You know, war, sexism, all sorts of things. But the real problem is people were just becoming too independent. And in fact, it was so overwhelming that they couldn't even keep quiet about it.

I mean, we've talked about this before, but there's a very important book which everyone should read, the first publication of the Trilateral Commission, the liberal internationalist elite of Europe, the United States and Japan. And that's the liberal side. And they were worried about what they called excessive democracy. Groups of people who were usually passive and apathetic were beginning to enter the political arena, press their own demands...too much pressure on the state. We have to have more, what they called, moderation in democracy.

Is Dr. Laura Racist?
October 5, 2011 at 12:10 PM
New article

"Black guys use it all the time. Turn on HBO and listen to a black comic and all you hear is 'nigger, nigger, nigger.' I don't get it. If anybody without enough melanin says it, it's a horrible thing, but when black people say it, it's very affectionate."

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Is Dr. Laura Racist?

Not long ago, Laura Schlessinger, Sirius XM radio's "Dr. Laura," found herself the unwitting center of a race relations jökulhlaup. Over the course of a 3 minute conversation with caller Nita Hanson (pseudonym "Jade"), Laura used the n-word no less than 11 times. Many were offended by this ill mannered tirade and Laura eventually issued the following apology:

"I was attempting to articulate a philosophical point, and I articulated the n-word all the way out. More than one time. And that was wrong. I'll say it again—that was wrong."

The Original Conversation

Laura Schlessinger Is an Unpleasant Twat
I don't like Dr. Laura. I don't find her informative or entertaining. In fact, I find her simple, ill informed and an intolerable bore. I don't listen to her show or see a reason for it to exist. Schlessinger calling herself "Dr. Laura" in the first place is its own conceit, one bordering on intellectual dishonesty. Even Michael Alan Wiener, better known to some as conservative firebrand Michael Savage, isn't a pretentious enough prick to refer to himself in the third person as "Dr. Savage." Laura is neither a psychologist nor a psychiatrist; her PhD was in a field of study providing little if any authority to give advice to troubled couples. And yet I question whether she should have to apologize for this particular debacle. Or at least, for the least offensive part of it.

Stereotypes, Ignorance and Stupidity
The friend of the caller's husband is an ignoramus whose thinking is influenced by whatever stereotypes he has of other races. His curiosity seems to stem from confusion; I postulate his contact with other races is limited at best. This woman contradicts the ignorant friend's appreciation of who and what a black person is. His questions describe an attempt—quite a feeble, naive and clumsy one, from the sound of it—to process sensory input contradictory to his unstated false premise, "race a is defined by qualities x, y and z not exhibited by races b, c, d etc." Assuming one woman is fit to speak on behalf of all Afro-Americans is stupid. Assuming there is a singular black perspective makes about as much sense as assuming there is a singular white perspective. With all of that said, I find this man passive in his ignorance. Is it racist? Undeniably. But is it hateful? Jade didn't get that far. She instead recapitulated their casual use of the n-word, something Schlessinger excused as simple confusion over a supposedly ill defined double standard.

"Black guys use it all the time. Turn on HBO and listen to a black comic and all you hear is 'nigger, nigger, nigger.' I don't get it. If anybody without enough melanin says it, it's a horrible thing, but when black people say it, it's very affectionate."

There doesn't seem to be a lot to get; group a is using an appropriation of the word as a term of endearment or for comedic effect. Group b is using it an expression of contempt, hostility or at the very least, disdain.

The n-word is like the word motherfucker; it can be used invectively in an expression of great disrespect, or affectionately as an expression of familiarity.

1. "Eat shit and die, motherfucker!"
2. "Hey motherfucker! I haven't seen you in ages. How you been?"

Context clues are a large part of discerning either word's intended use. Nuance is also a non-negligible indication of the speaker's esteem for the one being addressed as a nigger or motherfucker. Intelligent people don't struggle to grasp which of the statements above is intended as an expression of disrespect and which is intended as an endearing display of familiarity; here I exclude Dr. Laura.

Double Standards, Context Clues and Irrationality
From this writer's perspective, Laura was, in her own ham fisted way, attempting to denounce Rock et al.'s flippant use of the n-word, thereby illustrating—however bumblingly—how double standards contribute to continued ignorance. More specifically, Jade's husband's friend's passive racism. Jade's initial response was appropriate. Racism is offensive. Laura's casual disregard for the ignoramus' use of the n-word is appalling, as is her feeble attempt to excuse it. Jade's response to Laura's HBO excerpt however is not an appropriately leveled emotional reaction. If her disbelief at Laura's merely speaking aloud a slur is any indication, she is irrationally reacting to Laura simply saying the word "nigger." As though this in and of itself constituted a malicious attempt to stigmatize.

Laura was quoting someone else who was using the n-word, and doing so to illustrate how her fellow simpletons, i.e., the ignoramus friend, are easily confused by double standards. I am put off by her contrarian instinct to defend both her own stupid confusion and others' but don't arrive at Jade's apparent conclusion, that anyone who speaks the n-word aloud, regardless of the context in which it arises, has something to apologize for. Reductio ad absurdum, reading a passage from Mein Kampf with an intonation of disgust doesn't make you an anti-semite. By the same rationale, disdainfully referencing Chris Rock et al.'s casual predilection towards using the n-word every other sentence for comedic effect is even less hateful. Dr. Laura might be a racist; her use of the n-word in her discourse however is not innately racist.

Baneful Ignorance Ignored
The main thing I actually find genuinely appalling about Laura's tirade is the conclusion she nonchalantly draws about Jade and other so called hyper sensitives, that being the solution to marry within their own race. This shifting the burden of responsibility—advocating conformist surrender to ignorance as a means of avoiding discrimination—is far more offensive than anything preceding it. It actually bothers me quite a bit that this receives considerably less attention than her dropping of the n-bomb. Had Jade stayed on the phone a few minutes longer, she could have easily made a cogent argument that Schlessinger is in fact an ignorant simpleton with no qualifications to give advice over the radio for a living. But instead she harps endlessly on the n-word, even clinging desperately to the infallibility of her unstated premise.

"You said nigger. Is it okay to say that word? Is it ever okay to say that word?...But you're not black, they're not black, my husband is white...I can't believe someone like you is on the radio, spewing out the nigger word. You said 'nigger, nigger, nigger.' I hope everybody heard it. So what makes it—...I know what it means and I know it came from a white person. And I know the white person made it bad!"

Talk about fumbling the ball in an open field.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

9/18/11 This Week in Head Explode

On courage, social justice and policy-making
September 17, 2011 at 11:00 PM

The spring of 2011 opens an instructive window to reflect on the question of courage in policy-making. For some months now we have witnessed "the Arab Spring," when millions of people filled streets across the Middle East in defiance of oppressive regimes and in the face of violent state repression.

These images resonate with familiar lexicons of courage as a quality that enables a person to confront difficulty, danger, or pain instead of withdrawing from it. All of us at one point in our lives or another are challenged to confront threatening obstacles, but these private and daily acts of courage, by definition, defy a common yardstick. How, then, are we to think about courage in the collective enterprise of policy-making?

The opposite of courage in such circumstances, Rollo May argues, is not cowardice but, instead, conformity: our willingness to bend our thinking and behaviour to fit with the status quo however unacceptable it may be.

In The Death of the Liberal Class, Christopher Hedges makes a compelling argument that progressive policy networks in the United States, what he calls the "liberal class," have betrayed this legacy of calling political power into account. Hedges argues that in recent decades the liberal class was seduced by the utopian promises of globalization and the dubious dictum that markets should be the arbiter of all human, economic and political activity. Political science and economics departments and business and law schools parroted the ideology of free markets, refusing to recognize, let alone address, the mounting social and economic disparities that it has left in its path.

Hedges argues that the liberal class abrogated its historic role as social critic. It succumbed to opportunism and then to fear and, in so doing, betrayed the working and middle classes. It also silenced the critics within its ranks, and, when the emperor of an unregulated market was revealed as having no clothes, the liberal class was bereft of alternative visions.

To the many right wing partisan hacks that populate DA the American Democratic Party qualifies as "Socialist" and even "Pro-Marxist", this despite the fact that it's rather common knowledge that in comparison to the rest of the world Obama and his party are really closer to being centre right than on the fringe left. This idea is further buttressed by the fact that while Obama has attempted some changes he has kept a lot of the same policies as the Bush administration. Personally I find that that when it comes to foreign policy be it Democrat or Republican there are very few differences.

A lot of what this article discusses really strikes a chord with me. It echoes my sentiments that Obama has to a certain degree caved and compromised too much.

What are your impressions? Do you think the political spectrum within the US is too narrowly defined by the two major parties?

Mayor not surprised at cat's New York trip

September 17, 2011 at 6:47 PM

NEW YORK, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was honored a Colorado cat who disappeared five years ago chose his city as a destination.

Bloomberg said Willow, the cat found in Manhattan last week and identified as a feline missing five years ago from the home of Jamie Squires in Boulder, Colo., has good taste in cities, the New York Daily News reported Friday.

"What I think it does show is how everybody in the end wants to come and live in New York,"

Assuming of course the cat had any idea what New York is and how to get there, if said feline were so eager to get to the Big Apple why did it take five years to make a trip that really should only last a month... and anyone who bothered to check a map would see that the trip is almost a straight line across the US.

I'm impressed that this cat survived five years without being roadkill. Even more awesome that they were able to locate the owner :)

Homemade boat nearly through NW Passage
September 17, 2011 at 6:37 PM

YELLOWKNIFE, Northwest Territories, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- A Russian crew aboard a boat made with bamboo, rope and duct tape has nearly completed its journey through Canada's Northwest Passage, a crew member said.

The homemade boat, "Rus," which is about 25 feet long, was southwest of Victoria Island crossing from Nunavut into Northwest Territories waters, crew member Aleksey Skripov said by satellite phone, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

The four sailors are making the journey as part of the Orion Expedition, a multiyear, round-the-world, trans-arctic trip.

Since leaving St. Petersburg, Russia, a few months ago, they have sailed through

the Baltic and North seas and across the Atlantic Ocean, the CBC said.

A Mountie who saw the craft last month in Clyde River, Nunavut, said the boat looked like something out of "Gilligan's Island."

Hats off to these guys. They've got some nerve navigating the Northwest Passage in a boat made out of bamboo. I'm sure Red Green would approve of this vessel

Your Favourite Documentaries

September 17, 2011 at 3:02 PM

having just re-watched "The War on Democracy", a documentary about US involvement in regime changes in Latin America, I'm curious to know which are some of your favourite documentaries...

here are some of mine:

"The Tiger Next Door"
"Winged Migration"
"Flow: How do a handful of Corporations steal our Water Supply"
"The Inside Job"
"Food Inc."
"Supersize Me"
"Forks Over Knives"
"The Corporation"
"Capitalism: A Love Story"

and though it's a dramatized documentary "Fast Food Nation" was entertaining.. and not just cause Avril Lavigne was in it... though it helped lol.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Stern on Sidibe: Obesity, Discrimination and Political Incorrectness

"Am I pointing out something that no one else recognizes?"
Howard Stern came under fire not long ago for commenting on Academy Award nominated actress Gabourey Sidibe's morbid obesity. He commented that it is not healthy to be so overweight and that it greatly limits the opportunities of a talented young actress. For this, Stern was vilified by everyone from the NAAFA to daytime talk show touchy-feelies, criticized as heartless and cruel and more or less denounced as Satan incarnate.

Stern was not contrite and had the following to say:

It's easy to demonize me because I'm the guy who says what everyone is thinking. Everyone didn't sit there and say "She looks terrific." They sat at home watching the TV and said "My God, that poor girl, it's disturbing!"...Don't blame me for saying it. Name a movie where the lead woman was a morbidly obese person. And where that person went on to have a career?

Motivational speaker Susan Powter, former host of Stop the Insanity!, was one of the only people who came to Stern's defense. Powter argued Stern is one of the only people that does care and took the time to explicitly say what even Stern wouldn't, a resounding "Fuck you" to the NAAFA. Of equal emphasis was Powter's advice for Sidibe herself.

There is nothing empowering about internally suffocating...wake the fuck up, would you?...Howard Stern is right. Gabby, I'm right, you need to listen to this. [NAAFA], you are so completely wrong, so completely irresponsible, so completely not telling the truth in any way.

False Concern and Condescension
I find myself in agreement with Powter. While no one ever accused Stern of being the world's most tactful soul, his point is a cogent one—obesity is not beautiful. I am all for self acceptance, and more to the point, very critical of the size zero trend sweeping Hollywood starlets. In a way, Sidibe's success is a huge step towards substance (talent) over style (anorexic chic). But striking a blow in the name of anti-lookism only goes so far. It is okay to be overweight assuming you give a damn to do something about it. I am all for living in a pluralistic world. But when people start saying "Hey, just stay morbidly obese and die, it's what's inside that counts" that is when I raise a perturbed eyebrow. Their message is well intentioned but incredibly stupid.

There is nothing more empowering than self acceptance. Robert Wynia said it best, "Don't just sit back and feel pathetic. Love who you are." But is obesity an outward display of esteem for oneself? I don't think The View should preach self acceptance of morbid obesity any more than self acceptance of heroin addiction. "Love yourself enough to stop killing yourself" is the crux of Stern's argument. I abhor the false dichotomy of Goldberg et al.s "yeah, sister!"-ing; accepting one's faults as a human is not synonymous with abandoning all hope for wellness.

On a more venomous note, is it just me or is Whoopi Goldberg a complete dullard? For some reason I used to think this woman was intelligent but her contrarian predilection towards engaging in polemic apologetics for its own sake is rather off putting, to say the least. I am referring specifically to her insistence that Roman Polanski's drugging and sodomizing a 13 year old girl wasn't "rape-rape." Do we really want to live in a completely politically correct world? One where we can't call rapists rapists, obesity obesity and Goldberg a complete fucking idiot?

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