Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On the Economy and Tourism

To demonstrate that we occasionally emerge from our ivory towers, we Learned Men have decided to discuss some current events. Since Patrick and I both completed short tours with our respective bands, we felt it was important to reflect on our time with the public and give the vox populi a chance to be heard. - Klint

Klint: So Patrick, our past two topics have been intellectually crippling. Let's try something a little more current. Any ideas?
Patrick: Well, I was considering taking some time off and vacationing. Can you think of anyplace that is warm, has a rich culture to immerse myself in, and happens to be affordable?
Klint: Affordable means you'll probably have to stay continental. Florida lacks the rich culture you so strongly desire. How about Mexico?
Patrick: Klint, what do you know about Mexico?
Klint: Well, I know that it was originally settled by the colorful Aztecs, and subsequently raped by the Spanish. Modern day Mexico is kind of a mystery to me, though.
Patrick: Likewise. I can assert that I know a thing or two about strip-clubs in Tijuana , but am otherwise ignorant to Mexico's day-to-day workings. Let's get on the ground.
Klint: I know a few things about Tijuana, as well- but I hope they're really not indicative of the the entire country.
Patrick: I think there is a certain appeal to a country with an economy built on selling stolen prescription pills and teen prostitutes, but it makes me hope no children live there.
Klint: Well, I'm pretty sure there's also a bustling illegal drug trade fueling their livelihood.
Patrick: My efforts to learn more about the topography and demographics of Mexico have been derailed a bit. I've found something very interesting.
Klint: I remember reading about this, actually.
Patrick: Michael Vick goes by the alias "Ron Mexico" when getting tested for STD's. What do you think this means? How does it reflect on the people of Mexico?
Klint: Ron Mexico is a known dog fighter. Mexico has a rich history of cock fighting. It seems to me that we're dealing with an entire country of cretins and animal abusers.
Patrick: That's a solid bit of reasoning there. Does this tie into the drugs at all?
Klint: Yes! Drug cartels have a known level of brutality that could be easily associated with the activities of sociopaths. A common early warning sign for violent mental illness is animal abuse. It would seem to me that the culture, not the cartel, is to blame.
Patrick: interesting. When the tell-tale signs of sociopathy are established parts of culture: the culture itself is sociopathic.
Klint: Exactly. So a known degenerate profession, in this case drug smuggling, becomes as commonplace as carpentry.
Patrick: I feel like we're treading dangerous territory right now. We don't want to level judgments against entire cultures.
Klint: You're probably right, especially when these cultures propagate a more than a fair share of kidnappings and decapitations.
Patrick: Maybe it's "all good," this drug dealing.
Klint: I mean, I don't do drugs, so I don't interact with these cartels particularly often.
Patrick: Maybe it would be best if we played this one down the middle. Let's say that while drug dealing ruins its fair share of lives, it is also a profession with a rich heritage.
Klint: On a basic level, it's just like trade in any other commodity. Like pork bellies or frozen concentrated orange juice.
Patrick: Can I invest in drugs without actually buying them? Can I buy shares? I think this is a growth industry. Drugs are going to get big in 2009.
Klint: I don't know enough about robust and stable investment schemes to really know where to begin funneling money into drug trade in order to reap returns. But it's definitely a bullish commodity. Considering our current economic state, I foresee a migration from the office to the pipe.
Patrick: This is the first installment of Learned Men where I feel that we can offer the reader some insider knowledge that will make them money. DRUGS IN '09. Buy now before despair causes a spike in demand.
Klint: Eat your heart out, MSNBC. We have our fingers to the pulse of the underground economy. So, if there's going to be a surge in demand for drugs in the coming months, what does this mean for the future of Mexico?
Patrick: It stands to reason that Mexico will be the next global superpower. I don't see China coming with that drug-based economy and the US has outsourced all its drug-making.
Klint: Do you think they have the means to keep up a sufficient supply without imploding?
Patrick: I think they are a resourceful people with an ingrained understanding of the product. I think they'll stay on the forefront for a while.
Klint: And furthermore, how will a previously poor country handle a massive influx of money?
Patrick: Funny you should ask that. I know the answer.
Klint: Lay it on me, then.
Patrick: Reference 1 and Reference 2 People on Nauru bought Ferrari's for roads that weren't built yet. Like Prince said, "Money changes everything."
Klint: So you think Mexico will amass a ton of money quickly, blow it on useless luxuries, and then end up worse than when they started?
Patrick: Nu money. They'll all get hot tubs and baby grand pianos they can't play.
Klint: And other enormous investments that rely on nonexistent infrastructure? Sounds about right.
Patrick:Apparently 400 people have been murdered in Juarez in the past few months. Seems like a dream getaway. Maybe we should research it before I buy the plane tickets.
Klint: I've heard similar stories about the local color, so I think this does bear investigation.
Patrick: To the smart-cave! The internet!
Patrick: Here's a telling bit of news copy.
Klint: Googling "Mexican drug war" turns up a lot of hits.
Patrick: Apparently the situation there is so bad that they are relying on the 2012 endtimes to get a handle on it.
Klint: If these cartels are so powerful that they can crush the Mexican government, who's to say they can't stop a meteor?
Patrick: A valid point. You know, Klint, I don't want to make light of a situation causing so much pain to so many, but these facemasks are pretty boss.
Patrick: Is the Mexican Police actual C.O.B.R.A. from GI Joe fame?
Patrick: Because those outfits are seriously a 12 year old's dream.
Klint: Definitely intimidating, and quite possible. Though I think C.O.B.R.A. could stand up to drugs.
Klint: Including the pair of sunglasses so you can still look like a badass without the mask. According to this, there's been one kidnapping per day in Phoenix linked to Mexican drug cartels.
Patrick: That took place in the US! Are we safe talking about this?
Klint: Seeing as it took them 3 years to make it to Phoenix, I think we're far enough from the border that they won't catch up with us before 2012. So all of this is just because of drug trafficking in Mexico?
Patrick: Yeah, I guess that is the part I don't understand. Don't we have drug trafficking here? Why is our state not in peril?
Klint: My best guess is that the economic climate in Mexico makes wealthy cartels more powerful than the government in some places, and they've just been able to gain a few footholds. So, judging by our own economic downturn, it's really only a matter of time before MS-13 or the Latin Kings take over a small town.
Patrick: Holy shit! I hadn't thought of that. We've been up here drinking high-fructose filled sodas and Tex-Mex burritos, laughing at our neighbors to the South. Smugly, we thought our towns could never be wild west shootout stages or COBRA training grounds. But with everyone in the US unemployed and the demand for drugs staying consistent, i think it's inevitable that we have a narco-state established in Vermont any day now.
Klint: Vermont would be an easy place to take over. People there seem to be pushovers. So, barring end of days, is there any sort of advice we can offer our neighbors to the south? Is there any resolution in sight?
Patrick: Can they mellow out and let the drug thing work itself out? Maybe they should just pass that shit and let the US worry about the corresponding gang violence here.
Klint: I think Mexico relies on the US for enough that they're not trying to pawn their murder problem off on us for fear of being cut off.
Patrick: I'm going to the source. I'm getting some good insights from a drug user. I'll share in a moment. I'm going deep undercover here.
Klint: Excellent. I think we're about to break this wide open.

Patrick: Ok, anonymous, as a drug user- can you explain what is going on in Mexico to me? Did you do it?
Drug User: I'v never been to mexico
Patrick: When you are hypothetically doing cocaine do you ever turn to the person next to you and say, "you know, maaaaan, I think we're part of a cycle of violence originating in the hill country of South America that works its way through the arteries of Mexico, ending only in the crime-ridden ghettos of America's poor?"
Drug User: no usually when you do cocaine you just talk about partying and doing more cocaine. cocaine is not the type of drug to be used while reflecting on global politics
Patrick: Do you think if you stopped doing cocaine, hypothetically, that the global market for South American drugs would take a significant enough hit to stem to tide of violence?
Drug User: i really doubt it. i don't think the amount of cocaine i do would really effect such things

Klint: He must be doing so much cocaine he can't accept responsibility for his own actions.

Patrick: Is it possible you are doing so much cocaine you are like the villain in Bad Boys 2 and are incapable of determining wrong from right?
Drug User: hahaha no that is not possible. cocaine is only like my 5th favorite drug. i guess t's possible tha the combination of all of these drugs could make such a situation occur

Patrick: So I think we've got a lead, if not a handle, on this drug violence epidemic in Mexico.
Klint: Agreed. I think I have a possible solution.
Patrick: That video speaks a thousand words. I think with some future research we can make solid recommendations to their government and probably make headway here.
Klint: I think we should send it to the Mexican government. So what have we learned about Mexico, then?
Patrick: We've learned that this is a buy and dump deal. We'll get in now, but sell before the thing implodes.
Klint: Sound financial advice to help you through these lean times.
Patrick: Good luck, Mexico. You'll still get my travel dollar, but I expect one of those cool masks when I walk through customs. This blog has made us targets.
Klint: Adios!
Patrick: Viva Mexico.

Monday, March 2, 2009

On Cyborg Feminism: Gender and Laser Vision

For the second time in a row, we believe we've met our match with yet another subject so asinine that even Learned Men can't comprehend it. -Klint

Patrick: Klint, I hope you've been well. I've had a remarkably boring couple of days to myself. I have fully understood all the concepts presented to me and felt challenged by nothing. I was hoping you could hit me off with a brain-buster to make me feel whole again.
Klint: I've been quite well. A largely uneventful weekend, but sometimes that's alright. And good thing you asked, because I'm about to drop a megaton of phony academia on you. Have you ever heard of Cyborg Feminism?
Patrick: I'm sorry, say again?
Klint: Cyborg Feminism. Sounds as if they'd go together like nuts and gum. But, Donna Haraway wrote an essay entitled "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century" which attempts bring the two together.
Patrick: Well, I have to confess this is an idea I don't understand at all. You've met my challenge head-on. Let's learn!
Klint: Here's a good place to start, since Wikipedia isn't thorough enough this time.
Patrick: Klint, I want you to be honest with me. Can I rely on you to answer me straight?
Klint: Patrick, how long have we known each other? Of course.
Patrick: Do I have brain damage?
Klint: No, but I think Donna might have suffered some before they turned her into the Robocop of the women's studies department.
Patrick: The page you just sent me, aside from the sexy tie-dye anime girl, is straight-up gobbledygook. It made less sense to me than Mormonism. Am I losing my brainpower? Like Professor Klump in The Nutty Professor 2?
Klint: No, it just really is this stupid. Try this and this.
Patrick: You know what the worst part of this is? This nonsense sucks all the joy out of both cyborgs and women. Prior to reading this, I thought cyborgs were awesome and women were my equals. Now... I'm all mixed up.
Klint: I am, too. The cyborgs she speaks of have nothing really cool going on about them.
Patrick: This sort of lifted my spirits. I felt a lot better about cyborgs after watching that, but am still feeling a little betrayed by women.
Klint: Well, the idea she's trying to express is that there's nothing basic that women all have in common just because they're women. The cyborg part is just in there to make her ideas seem novel. You really need to try and get the idea of T-1000s and anime sex robots out of your mind. And I thought women were my equals, too. But apparently they should also swear no allegiance to each other and have robot legs.
Patrick: I've been saying that for a long time. Does this woman want a cookie for suggesting the obvious?
Klint: I think she wants tenure.
Patrick: So are we sure this has nothing to do with actual legitimate awesome cyborgs?
Klint: I'm sure. No eye lasers, no guns instead of arms, or anything else appealing. It's just using the combination of organic and inorganic life as the root of a poorly developed social commentary.
Patrick: I'm tripping balls. This shit is like trying to do a Magic Eye while battling a migraine.
Klint: Check out some of her other essay titles: Crystals, Fabrics, and Fields: Metaphors of Organicism in Twentieth-Century Developmental Biology, Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science and Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature
Patrick: Was Inspector Gadget a robot or a cyborg?
Klint: I think a cyborg, since he had a daughter. Or was she a niece?
Patrick: Niece, I think. How do you think she felt about Cyborg Feminism?
Klint: I don't know if she was a liberated woman or not.
Klint: Slightly related question from a reader: Ben Brennan seems to be convinced that if people had sex with robots, it would be the downfall of humanity. How do you think this relates to Cyborg Feminism, and what are your feelings on it?
Patrick: What constitutes a robot? or a cyborg for that matter? I mean, if a woman gets her vagina tightened or her breasts lifted, that's not cyborgism right? Does there have to be an artificial component left in the body? And if so, does it have to be functional? Are breast implants the first part of being a cyborg? And if so, can I suggest that cyborgs are every bit as awesome as I always believed? And if you masturbate with prosthetic hand, is that having sex with a robot?
Klint: Well, Haraway defines cyborgs as, among other things, a "hybrid of machine and organism." So I think plastic surgery and/or breast implants would not qualify as cyborg. And to clarify, I think a robot lacks any sort of organic component.
Patrick: So if the breast implants had a lever, pulley, or wedge they would move someone towards being a cyborg? Those are machines.
Klint: You could probably sell that on a technicality. I'd rather make the breasts run Linux. Here's a section of the actual "Cyborg Manifesto." You can tell by the illustration that her ideas are very serious and academic.
Patrick: Oh fuck. Ok, I am starting to grasp that this is irony and purely rhetorical to further a point, but even with that in mind: What the fuck is going on here? It's unreadable! I feel like you gave me a link in Farsi with disappearing ink.
Klint: It's a pile of garbage. I don't understand what motivated her to choose the cyborg as her metaphor, either. Pick a concept that the academic community respects. As it stands, this appeals more to a World of Warcraft player than her supposed peers at university.
Patrick: There was an old bum in my town for years during my youth and he would stumble around yelling at people and breaking into storefronts. I feel like he made a fuck lot more sense than this gibberish.
Klint: That's probably true. And I'm sure his drunken ramblings about the end days were more relevant, too.
Patrick: Holy shit.
Klint: Breakthrough?
Patrick: Breakthrough.
Patrick: Did you know Angelina Jolie was in Cyborg 2?
Klint: I didn't even know there was a Cyborg 2. According to the trailer, she's also made for making love. A sexually liberated robot/woman hybrid is a feminist cyborg, I guess?
Patrick: Case closed. Thanks, crazy old lady, for introducing us to this dynamic idea. Cyborg feminism. Awesome.
Klint: I think I actually know less about this than when we started. Perfect place to stop. Thanks Donna, thanks Patrick. Fuck.
Patrick: Peace out, mean old lady. The only literature we need is Cyborg 2's closed caption option on it's multiregion DVD.