Reasoning with Bombs

He walked into the room. Both men were sitting, tied to their chairs, staring down each other. He sat down with both of them, glad that he taped shut their mouths. Religious army-types without guns talk as if their lives depend on it, even more so when it comes to justifying their actions.

In a brief flash, he realized that just having them both in the same room was an impressive feat in and of itself. Then he remembered the manner in which that meeting was arranged: violence may not be the best method, and shouldn’t be the first choice, but it always gets the job done. He reassured himself that he tried all the other peaceful, diplomatic alternatives, but these two almost seemed to like killing each other, and there’s no negotiating with that.

He looked down and took a deep breath:

“You may be wondering how you got here, but I won’t go into details. And, because I’ve been following you for a long while now, I know you, and I know what you’re thinking. So let me get a couple of points off my chest before we get started:”

“First, let me assure you that you are going to get out of this alive, so relax. In fact, it is imperative that both of you stay alive for both your sakes, but more on that in a minute.”

“Second, strip from yourselves the belief of superiority over me. You’re sitting right now where you are because of me and nobody right now suspects you’re missing, and they won’t for a couple of hours, so sit tight.”

“And, thirdly, you don’t know me; I’ve gone to great lengths to ensure that. Don't waste your precious amount of focus in planning how to get back at me. Even if it doesn't look it, my intent here is to help.”

A deep stare right in the middle of the room seems to jump over his guests philosophical division.

“So, lets start with the obvious topic: why are you here? And the answer is that I’m sick of your war. I'm sick of the death toll. And I’m specially sick of seeing people around the world needing to choose a side and justify your actions and follies, as if it were a bloody football match.”

“Your fight is not even new. All your rhetoric, your whining, and your misguided words of condemnation of the other side is not even original. They’re your ancestors’ words. You’re both historical pawns, and you’re pathetically proud of it. So, get this through your thick, reactionary skulls: I don’t care why you think you are correct. You are both wrong. Period.”

“What I do care about is that right now, at this moment, you’re both acting like petulant 5-year-olds, pointing to their mummies that the other one started it. Petulant little kids with bombs.”

“Never mind the deaths you both have caused in both sides. Never mind the idiotic interpretations you’ve made of your corresponding sacred texts to justify them. Never mind the never-ending spin, misinformation tactics, and baffling hypocrisy you’ve both employed to gain international support. Stupidities like spreading propaganda that condemns the spread of propaganda, being proud of having the ‘most humane army’, or blaming the other side of ‘war crimes’. Never mind that you are ignoring a very important fact: all wars are crimes.”

“Never mind any of that. The most infuriating part of all of this is that your own history, your own philosophies, your own religions, are holding the answer to all of this. It was right in front you and you have missed it all this time: YOU ARE THE SAME.”

“Both of you have felt the lives of being refugees. Both of you have religions that state, very clearly, that you should not murder. Both of you have solidified what really means to treat your neighbor as brother, and that family is everything. Both of you have struggled in exactly the same way.”

“The problem is that, you’re carrying too much generational baggage, and you actually believe it matters. It doesn’t. It really, really doesn’t. What does matter is that the more you shout at, and bomb, and kill people on the other side, the more weight you’re adding to what your children will need to carry. The course you both have chosen to walk together will only end until both of you kill each other.”

Shouting at both of them, spilling his soul onto the table.

“For the love of Jehovah and Allah, and for the sake of your children, just, please, stop!”

He stops briefly to gain his composure. A deep sigh of resignation softly exits his body. He nods, and continues.

“I would love to believe that this speech would be enough. But, like I said, I know you, and I know it won’t. There are no words to change the way you think, and that’s what makes all of this so difficult for me. Because you yourselves are like bombs.”

“Bombs that are fuelled by a deadly combination of pride, prejudice, stubbornness, and arrogance, with a short fuse that is always lighted time and time again by a misplaced sense of ancestral entitlement. You can’t talk to a bomb, you can’t reason with it, the only thing that is left to do with a bomb is to... to...”

His pause seemed infinite. He can’t finish that sentence. It’s too cruel. He bites his lip. He needs to continue.

“You see, the more you insist that the other should be obliterated, the more I wish that both of you were obliterated.”

His voice starts to crack. 

“And may God forgive me for saying this, but I’m right now wishing you both didn’t exist, because, well, simply, you are tearing away my faith in God.”

Standing up, fighting the urge to weep at what he was about to say:

“Because if God was truly infallible, He wouldn’t have created you. Any of you.”

Both stare at him, wide-eyed. Their eyes are filled with judgement of sacrilege.

“You are open books to me, and you don’t get to judge me. You are a couple of so called God’s Soldiers that are just following orders from petulant men. You, your existence, is the true blasphemy here. And, since neither of you are able to see that, you have convinced me that you are not worthy of doing God’s work. At least not the way you’re behaving right now.”

“A friend once told me that if you see something wrong with the world, it’s actually God telling you to fix it. So here’s my fix:”

He brings into view two brain scans. Both brain scans appear to not be of the same person, but both have a small dark section right in their cross-section. He hands one to one man, and hands another to the other.

“These are your brains, and I have arranged to put, inside each of them, a small warhead with the destructive power of a hand grenade. They are armed, and the firing mechanism is being fed by your own life support. Meaning, if you die, your head will blow up. However, both of these mechanisms are linked: if one blows up, so will the other.”

Both men look at each other, with stares of bafflement and shock.

“You have been living under the assumption that the world would be better off without the other. I’m taking that option away from you.”

He takes the tapes off of their mouths and unties them off their seats.

“Now you need to go and live your lives with the knowledge that for one to live, so does the other. Coincidentally, this was the truth all along. I hope unifying that truth with your favorite toy, helps it sink in.”

Shaken but satisfied, he steps back into the shadows while a door opens on the other side of the room, letting sunlight in. He does not witness that, at least for a moment, both men keep sitting down while their stares change, from a sense of mutual hatred, to something else.

“He said we still have a couple of hours.”

“Yeah. Lets talk.”

“We need some aspirin. My head is killing me.”

“Mine too.”

Two small, almost unidentifiable chuckles were carried outside the room by the dry wind of the Mediterranean Sea.

Reforma

El PDF de donde me basé:

http://www.senado.gob.mx/sgsp/gaceta/62/2/2014-03-24-1/assets/documentos/Ini_Telecomunicaciones.pdf

1) Página 29, en la sección de Neutralidad de las Redes:

“Para asegurar que estos beneficios se hagan una realidad, se requiere garantizar que los usuarios de los servicios puedan acceder a cualquier contenido, aplicación o servicio ofrecido por el concesionario de su red o por otros. En este orden de ideas, en la presente iniciativa se considera que LOS CONCESARIONARIOS NO DEBEN LIMITAR, DEGRADAR, RESTRINGIR O DISCRIMINAR EL ACCESO A CUALQUIER SERVICIO, sea provisto e su red o en otras, NI LIMITAR EL DERECHO DE LOS USUARIOS DEL SERVICIO DE INTERNET a incorporar o utilizar cualquier clase de instrumentos, dispositivos o aparatos que se conecten a su red, salvo que medie orden de autoridad competente por la existencia de algún ilícito o infracción administrativa o el propio usuario solicite la restricción.”

La parte de “salvo que medie orden de autoridad competente por la existencia de algún ilícito” es el estándar de seguridad a nivel internacional (en casos de pornografía infantil, hack ilegales, etc.). Y la “orden de autoridad” es básicamente una orden de cateo como parte de un caso legal. No lo pueden hacer cuando se les pegue la gana por razones comerciales, lo cual lo reafirman en la página 140, artículo 141:

"Los concesionarios con participación pública deberán sujetarse a principios de neutralidad a la competencia cuando sus fines sean comerciales."


2) Página 141, artículo 145, fracción II:

"Privacidad. Deberán preservar la privacidad de los usuarios y la seguridad de la red. Podrán bloquear el acceso a determinados contenidos, aplicaciones o servicios A PETICIÓN EXPRESA DEL USUARIO, cuando media orden de autoridad o sean contrarios a alguna normatividad."

Este artículo sólo habla de la privacidad de la información del usuario, no de servicios comerciales. Lo cual se reafirma en la página 142, artículo 146:

"Los concesionarios y los autorizados que presten el servicio de acceso a internet podrán hacer ofertas según las necesidades de los segmentos de mercado y clientes, DIFERENCIANDO ENTRE NIVELES DE CAPACIDAD, VELOCIDAD O CALIDAD."

Lo único que pueden diferenciar es en la calidad de conexión, que ya lo hacen con los paquetes de velocidad 5 MBs, 10 MBs, etc.


3) Lo único que veo extraño es en la página 158, artículo 197, fracción VII:

"Bloquear, inhibir, o anular de manera temporal las señales de telecomunicaciones en EVENTOS Y LUGARES CRÍTICOS PARA LA SEGURIDAD PÚBLICA Y NACIONAL a solicitud de las autoridades competentes."

Aquí la definición de “seguridad pública y nacional” no está bien definida. Según el Centro de Investigación y Seguridad Nacional (CISEN), y la Ley de Seguridad Nacional, define “seguridad nacional” como:

Las acciones destinadas de manera inmediata y directa a mantener la integridad, estabilidad y permanencia del Estado Mexicano que conlleven a:

a) Proteger al país frente a riesgos y amenazas.
b) Preservar la soberanía, independencia, territorio y la unidad de la federación.
c) Mantener el orden constitucional y fortalecer las instituciones democráticas de gobierno.
d) Defender al país frente a otros Estados o sujetos de derecho internacional.
Preservar el régimen democrático fundado en el desarrollo social, económico y político.

http://www.cisen.gob.mx/snSegNal.html

Esto me suena a problemas mayormente internacionales, a excepción del punto C, que podría interpretarse como problemas internos.

La CISEN expresa como parte de las amenazas las siguientes actividades:

“Espionaje, sabotaje, terrorismo (incluyendo actividades de financiamiento), REBELION, traición a la patria, genocidio, tráfico ilegal de materiales nucleares, de armas químicas, biológicas y convencionales de destrucción masiva, y actos en contra de la seguridad de la aviación y la navegación marítima.”

http://www.cisen.gob.mx/snAmenazasRiesgos.html

Por lo tanto, vale, este último punto si tiene mérito explorar y proponer una modificación al artículo 197, fracción VII a algo como:

“Bloquear, inhibir, o anular de manera temporal las señales de telecomunicaciones en EVENTOS Y LUGARES CRÍTICOS PARA LA SEGURIDAD PÚBLICA Y NACIONAL a solicitud de las autoridades competentes, sólo en casos de amenaza internacional y nunca en casos que inhiban al derecho a la protesta social.”

Si esto es lo que se quiere protestar, me uno, mientras que no estén protestando por algo que no está ahí: siento que las campañas en las redes sociales tienen que realmente leer la reforma y no brincar automáticamente al lado negativo sólo porque viene del gobierno. Ni siquiera Estados Unidos tiene considerado poner Neutralidad de la Red como parte de sus leyes, cuando esta reforma esta explícitamente haciéndolo.

Speech Strumpet

Freedom of speech is quite the whore. It is to be used by anybody and for whatever purpose, even ill-fated ones. Lies and truths are welcomed all the same, because that cheap wench is open like a casserole at a garden party: anybody can stick their tongue in and have a lick.

And, like any sexy call girl, it is usually the object of jealousy from people that don't fully grasp how these things work. You've seen it happen: one party has an opinion and uses freedom of speech to tell the world about it; a second party comes along that disagrees with that opinion, and also uses it to tell the world about its disagreement; then the first party wants to take away the freedom from the second party, as if it should belong only to one. Like a gambling man in love with last night's hooker: he should have known that he's not the only customer worthy of her loving embrace.

Freedom of speech is a prostitute that can be used free of charge by anyone. To think that its usage depends of the circumstances, is hypocritically postulating that only certain opinions are allowed to spend the night with it. Unfortunately for those opinions, and fortunately for the rest, every opinion gets the same sticky turn as everybody else.

Homophobic creationists, holocaust deniers, biased scholars arguing why we should relieve tax burden from billionaires, and lobby-paid pundits talking about how a war will bring peace, are exactly the same in the semen-painted face of our beloved harlot as scientists talking about evolution, and civil-rights defenders.

Why? Because when it comes to being free to speak my mind, it doesn't matter if I'm right or wrong or crude. It's my speech, and I have the right to speak it whenever, wherever, however I want, regardless of its veracity or prudence. Don't worry, though. There'll be quite a lot of other people that will call me out if they think I'm wrong, and they'll do it by banging that same open-legged trollop in much the same way I did.

It's a free market of speech, and like most free markets, it has the ability to balance itself out. Why not trust it will? Why is it that whenever a lie is provided as a fact in a public setting, a big outcry always roars to censor the liar? If I didn't know any better, I would think that people are not only jealous of somebody else caressing their courtesan, but that they have a sadistic itch that needs to be scratched. That the people are drawn to the idea of forcing our legal system, supposedly unbiased, to silence very specific ideologies. Like a choke ball forced into a victim's mouth, providing terrible precedence for any future bearer of an unpopular opinion. And, worse yet, it's counter-productive: the liar can masochistically welcome the censorship-choke-ball, making it easy for him to pose as a martyr, causing more attention to his lie.

A more elegant and, frankly, more effective way is entrenched in the bosom of that same old tart called freedom of speech: if somebody tells a lie publicly, provide the world a verifiable truth to counter it. When an alternative is brought forward that is more convincing than the lie (either by form or content), people will flock away from it eventually. And whoever stays behind with the lie, are masochists that will never change their mind anyway.

Like everybody else, you are free to shove your speech right up the freedom-lubricated rectum of that libido-packed fille de joie, to tell the world how reality really is... according to you... And if somebody else has a different perspective than you: just pull out, wipe yourself, and let them take their turn. It'll be yours again soon enough.

As a wise imp once said, "When you tear out a man's tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you're only telling the world that you fear what he might say."

Charity

Glossing over the Facebook status and/or Twitter posts of various people I'm following, the ones that center around "Restoring Faith in Humanity" always catch my eye.

You know the ones: about a someone helping the homeless, or about that guy that has always brought flowers to her wife for the last half-century, or about that lady that picked the little puppy in the side of the street.

They're all great, and most, if not all, bring a tear to my eye. Specially the ones that are posted by someone that is NOT the person that did the deed. Why? Because it implies that they did it completely selflessly.

For example, one of my favorites is the one about a guy leaving a note and a $50 bill to another guy after hearing him breaking up with his girlfriend. The money was intended to be broken into $1 bills so that the guy could go to a strip club and cheer up. From afar it could be taken as obnoxious and disgusting, but, from the point of view of the note-leaver, this was actually pretty cool of him. I think it's safe to assume that a strip club is the way that he gets over break ups and he wanted to help his neighbor out. Even more so, the fact that he left a note implies that both guys weren't really that close, so this guy wound up technically helping out a complete stranger (in his own way).

There's this thing though about these stories that always bugs me: he signed the note. Why would he do that? Everything was beautiful about this story: the guy was sad, and here comes somebody that wants to help out, which is great by its own, but also "Faith in Humanity is Restored" as now he knows that there is at least one person that cares about him... who lives in apartment 3F.

See, that's the bit that bites out the selflessness of the whole thing. It wasn't completely selfless, the guy took with him the feeling of "being a good guy" and the knowledge that somebody knows it. That is to say, the guy got something out of it, breaking the selflessness.

"Look at me, look at how I'm helping people out." The act is not really done to help people, it's for somebody to feel good about his- or herself.

Don't get me wrong: it's a great incentive to do something good for others. And even better, because whenever those acts are carried out, the benefited party feels as though they "owe" the good-doer. But, in these cases, it can be stated, very honestly, that the favor in itself was the reward. The good-doer feels good about his- or herself; that's what he/she took away from the deed, so nobody owes anything.

My issue here is when it's not honest from this point of view; when the good-doer feels as though what he/she has done is completely selfless when in reality it's not:

"I helped this puppy out of the water. Aren't I such a selfless person?"

Why are you recording yourself doing it?

"I gave so much food to charity. I'm so selfless."

Why are you signing your name in the charity's register and letting people take your picture while you're doing it?

"I'm walking this marathon to raise money for Cancer. Selflessness is my middle name."

Isn't just donating the money directly to the charity a faster way to raise money for it? Why are YOU running? How is running even connected to Cancer? Aren't you just running so people know that YOU are a great person?
And don't get me started about that "raising awareness" argument: donating the money to do a marketing campaign is much easier and hits the target right in the center to achieve that. The marathon is to celebrate YOU, not the charity.

Disclosure: I need to thank Doug Stanhope for this last bit, from whom I basically stole it from. This argument was stuck in my head for so long, and he eloquently formed it in his last comedy special, Beer Hall Putsch.

Still, though, if we need to use the common flaw of vanity of humans for something good, I guess making them feel as a "selfless good person" as their share of the selfless deed seems like a good patch for now, even if they aren't aware of the hypocrisy that it involves. It IS better than doing nothing, which is, sadly, its only virtue. Well, that, and that these stories are "feel-good" entertainment for a lazy Friday afternoon.

EDIT 2014-06-20: The video clip of Doug Stanhope has been taken down. Oh well...

Old Criticisms

I find myself bothered when it comes to criticism. Well, not the abstract concept of criticism, but when people do it. Actually, I think I'm mainly bothered by people, period; but that's a whole other story.

With the recent surgence of remakes of classic science fiction movies, it has dawned on me that we humans tend to not be easily satisfied (if it is at all possible).

For example, fictional characters, when being remade, are usually criticized for being "too new": the new Khan didn't quote Moby Dick like the original did, Superman shouldn't kill because the original didn't, the new Spiderman is too nerdy and socially awkward from the original, and Uncle Ben didn't say the classic quote of power and responsibility.

[By the way: the original Khan Moby Dick's quotes were cute but ultimately made the Ahab comparison too on the nose and made me lose interest in the character; Superman does kill Zod and the two other kryptonians in the comics and is considered canon (Superman #22); Peter Parker was nerdy as hell, but we didn't realize it because we ourselves were nerds; the power and responsibility quote is not originally from Uncle Ben, it is said by the narrator (Amazing Fantasy #15).]

This situation is beautifully presented when it comes to Star Trek movies. There's this generally accepted rule that the even-numbered films (Wrath of Khan, Nemesis, etc.) outperform the odd-numbered ones (Search for Spock, Final Frontier, etc.). So, when people start describing something as "too new", it implies that they are comparing it to supposedly better things in the good old days. My question here is: which things are they comparing them to? Mathematically speaking, half of the things they are comparing them to are regarded as crap.

We can take this further if we then consider that those characters, in other circumstances, were criticized for being "too old": Superman Returns was too boring as there's nothing new on the character; every self-respecting Spiderman fan hated the Maguire movies because they didn't add anything to the character; the new Spiderman sucked because it's the same old story.

[By the way: Superman Returns puts Kal-El in an emotional journey having Louis' boyfriend be a good dad to his own kid, something rarely seen in the comics; the Maguire movies turned out to be the gold standard when the Garfield one came out by those same self-respecting Spiderman fans.]

So, apparently, we want things to stay the essentially the same, but have a fresh perspective on the subject matter. Sadly, this contradiction also goes for "too depressing but not too cheerful", "too violent but not too bland", and "too intense but not too indifferent".

If we want something to get better, the first thing it requires is that its faults are pointed out, and satisfaction should only be an option until it gets better. I would be all for it if it were that. This, however, is not a step to get something better, but a vehicle with which pseudo-opinions are presented as a type of evidence of an intellect that craves being acknowledged and regarded as edgy and non-mainstream. I would call it pedantry, but it would require that those opinions were well-founded, but this is rarely the case.

If you don't like something, fine, but at least have the balls to be true to yourself and know that the reason you don't like something is not because it is "too this" or "too that", it is because there is nothing that is going to beat your past. You know, the past, when you were young and energetic and everything that was good in your life happened. These types of criticisms are not objective thoughts of the present, they are subjective feelings of the past.

I drink a glass of milk after a meal and love the smell of burning wood. I'm aware that these are things I like because they have a subconscious weight on my feelings, and I let them flow through, but I don't expect everybody to regard these things as enjoyable.

I didn't like the Dragonball movie or the Last Airbender movie because they presented a reality that was too far away from what I like of those characters. However, they are not "too new" nor "too old" nor "too violent" nor "too bland", it's just that I, me, myself, didn't like them. I am the problem. The movie and I are far away from each other, but the movie is already made and can't be changed, so I am the one that is too far away. If I didn't like the movie, the problem is not the movie, the problem is me.

Answering "why didn't I like this movie?" instead of "why did this movie sucked?" provides much more interesting answers and, at the very least, makes for a much more interesting conversation when discussing the movie with other people that have a different opinion than me. Saying "the movie didn't show the character as it should have" is a statement that is really implying "the character I like is the one I knew when I was 5; this movie didn't portray that, so I didn't like it". Hell, even "there is this concept of the character in my head that no movie has shown, and this wasn't the exception" is a more amusing topic of conversation and, not to mention, it has the rarely quality of being true.