Sunday, June 29, 2008

George Carlin The Nihilist

By Joseph Kellard

The late comedian George Carlin was at his best when he dissected the English language and the ways that people misused it. For example, watch this classic routine on airline safety:

Carlin was also great at demonstrating the absurdities and contradictions of religion. Here’s a pretty standard routine on what he had to say about it:

But mostly I could not watch Carlin because he spewed a seething hatred toward man as such. Despite being an atheist who understood the evils of religion, this view was part of his broader perspective that human beings are evil. Apparently, Carlin never let go of the idea of Original Sin — that man is born corrupt by his nature — that I’m sure he learned in Catholic school.

Carlin’s man-hatred is clearly evident in his views on environmentalism, in which he disparages the green movement, not because he (correctly) regards it as anti-man, but because he primarily sees it (incorrectly) as a movement to make life better for man on Earth. But, actually, this was only his ostensible view of environmentalism. Notice that, when he puts himself in the position of Mother Earth in the video clip below, he says that he “dreams” for a virus like AIDS as Earth’s defense against man. In turn, he comes off as man-hating as a radical environmentalist:

Below is an excerpt from an AP article on Carlin after he died last week. It will give you a better idea as to why I believe he was, essentially, a poster-boy nihilist — that is, a person who fundamentally has no values and actively seeks to destroy values as such:

"I don't have any beliefs or allegiances. I don't believe in this country, I don't believe in religion, or a god, and I don't believe in all these man-made institutional ideas," he told Reuters in a 2001 interview.

Carlin told Playboy in 2005 that he looked forward to an afterlife where he could watch the decline of civilization on a "heavenly CNN."

"The world is a big theater-in-the round as far as I'm concerned, and I'd love to watch it spin itself into oblivion," he said. "Tune in and watch the human adventure."

George Carlin wasn’t joking. He meant it.

Joseph Kellard is a journalist and columnist living in New York.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Communists and The Olympics

By Joseph Kellard

In the March 2002 issue of The Intellectual Activist, Robert Tracinski wrote an essay on that year's scandal at the winter Olympics. The scandal involved collusion between Russian and French judges to alter scores in figure skating. At those games, a flawless pair of Canadian skaters was robbed of first place so that a Russian couple could take the gold.

In his essay, Mr. Tracinski, while providing historical perspective on the former Soviet Union's state-run Olympics program, wrote the following: "For decades, Olympic gold medals were a key element of Communist propaganda. The Olympic games, like other cultural and intellectual 'exchange' programs, were meant to present the Soviet Union and its satellite dictatorships as countries worthy of dealing with the West as equals, both as moral equals and as cultural, technological, and material equals. Sports had a particular role in promoting the alleged material strength of Communism. The healthy bodies of East-Bloc athletes on the Olympic podium were meant to distract our attention from the starving masses of their countrymen."

Tracinski goes on in that essay to note how the Soviets invested many resources in their Olympic athletes, particularly their figure-skaters, and that for those athletes this investment was a rare way for them, under the Soviet dictatorship, "to obtain money, special treatment, and the privileged of traveling abroad."

(Incidentally, I must add that the Soviets also poured a lot into their hockey program. Soviet hockey players were breed to be outstanding athletes -- thanks to the state paying their way, they were able to eat, sleep and drink hockey, 24/7/365. The Soviets won the Olympic gold metal in four consecutive winter Olympic games prior to the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid -- when the Americans "miraculously" defeated them and later won gold -- and two took two more gold medals after this. Note, also, that Russia has not won gold in hockey since the Soviet state dissolved).

Anyway, I thought of Tracinki's TIA essay this week when I read about China's state-backed Olympic program in a recent Time magazine article ("China's Sports School: Crazy for Gold"). Although Communism is waning in influence in modern China, this article clearly demonstrates that collectivism and nationalism are nevertheless very much alive well. But Communist authoritarianism is still being used to recruit athletes in order to help the mother country reach its goal of wracking up the most gold medals at this summer's Olympic games in Beijing.

Here are some excerpts, the first being the opening paragraph:

"A year ago, a slender girl called Cloud had no idea she would dedicate her life to lifting disks of iron above her head. Then a stranger came to her remote village in eastern China's Shandong province, took detailed measurements of her shoulder width, thigh length and waist circumference -- and announced she would have the honor of serving her motherland as a weight lifter. The then 14-year-old daughter of vegetable farmers had little choice in the matter. She had been chosen to be a cog in China's vast sports machine, a multibillion-dollar apparatus designed with one primary goal in mind: churning out Olympic gold medalists."

"For most Chinese, victory in Beijing will not only prove their country's status as a potential superpower but also erase its historic humiliation by colonial powers. Stupefied by opium, cowed by Western firepower, China was dismissed at the outset of the 20th century as the 'sick man of Asia.' Indeed, the first article Chairman Mao ever published was on the importance of sporting success to the national psyche. 'Our nation is wanting in strength," he fretted back in 1917. 'If our bodies are not strong, how can we attain our goals and make ourselves respected?'"

Read the full article here:

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Skyscraper Boom Signals Post-9/11 Defeat

By Joseph Kellard

It's great to see that the quintessential American architecture, the skyscraper, is growing in popularity globally as record-high buildings are piercing skies in various corners of the world. What's discouraging, however, is that many are rising in the Middle East (e.g., Saudi Arabia), while it has become tougher to build tall in post-9/11 America.

I read all about this trend in a New York Times' article on Sunday:

"Nearly seven years after the collapse of the World Trade Center in New York portended a pullback from cloud-grazing construction, the world is in the midst of a huge wave of tall building construction, both in number and in size."

"Some of the most ambitious developments are in the petro-fueled economies of the Middle East and Russia. Among the most anticipated is the $1 billion Burj Dubai, a massive tower being developed by Emaar Properties in the United Arab Emirates."

"In contrast, she [Carol Willis, an urban historian and director of the Skyscraper Museum in New York] says that large developments in New York and other Western cities these days are likely to encounter public opposition - as evidenced by initial public reaction to Forrest City Ratner's plan for the 22-acre Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, and Jean Nouvel's soaring Midtown Manhattan tower, commissioned by Hines, an international real estate developer."

Observe that in the land that produced the terrorists that destroyed the Twin Towers, some of the tallest skyscrapers are going up, while in the city where the attacks took place, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to build at all, and the skyscraper that will replace the towers is significantly smaller in scale.

This is a less obvious but nevertheless significant example of how the radical Islamics are winning the so-called "war on terrorism."