So sayeth Saint Paul. When he wrote this, in the late 40s or 50s CE, women in the Roman Empire were still respected in religious rites, such as the all-female Bona Dea cult and of course the Vestal Virgins. In Judaism, their role was much more limited. I find it interesting, though, that Paul, the founder of Gentile Christianity, who claimed to speak directly to the ghost of Jesus, took such a harsh tone towards women. Why would it be shameful for them to speak, I wonder? From my Random Bible Quotes Facebook group.
This week’s podcasts include stories about enlightenment, the rise of J. Edgar Hoover, and The Son Of God (Tiberius, not that other guy).
Hedges is one of the journalists I always read. Check out his take on the Assange expulsion and imprisonment.
For my take on the situation, listen to our Bullshit Filter podcast from last week (subscription required).
The tl;dr version:
1. My basic policy is that most people in power are possibly psychopaths (see my new book The Psychopath Economy) and therefore we should investigate them as often as we can. Trump especially falls into this category, as do many of the people around him.
2. I had no problem with the Mueller investigation. Ever.
3. My main issue with it has always been that some people on the left seemed to treating collusion as a fact, despite there being no (or not enough, if you prefer) evidence to conclude that. As I’ve always maintained – meeting with Russians, in and of itself, was neither illegal nor evidence of collusion. Neither was hoping Russians would release hacked emails.
4. The media hype around collusion for the last two years, in my opinion, was not justified by the evidence.
5. The Mueller Report, rightly or wrongly, declared there (and I quote): The investigation did not establish that the contacts described in Volume I, Section IV, supra, amounted to an agreement to commit any substantive violation of federal criminal law-including foreign-influence and campaign-finance laws, both of which are discussed further below.”
6. Therefore Mueller seems to agree that there wasn’t enough evidence to conclude a conspiracy / collusion – and so why all of the hype about it for the last two years? Why were people so convinced it was a fact?
7. As for Russian interference, the FBI already investigates that, so there’s no need for a separate investigation, as far as I can tell. That does seem like a waste of money, but hey, the US has money to burn, so why not.
8. As for who hacked the DNC, I acknowledge that Mueller concurs with the intelligence agencies – which isn’t surprising, seeing as he’s a former Director of the FBI. I, of course, don’t trust the FBI or the CIA, because they have been caught out lying continually in the past. That doesn’t mean they are wrong in this instance, but they have a shitty track record at telling the truth, especially when it involves Russia. Does that mean you should or shouldn’t trust his findings on collusion? I don’t care. Trust or don’t trust. Up to you.
9. Assange, on the other hand, has an excellent track record of exposing lies and telling the truth, at least as far as we know. That said, he might be lying in this instance, or just plain wrong. I have no evidence either way. So I’m neutral on the issue.
10. If Russia *did* hack the DNC and leak it to Assange, I don’t really care. Good on them both. The leak exposed the Clinton / DNC corruption, and a lot more, including France’s motivations for destroying Libya, so the leak was in the public interest and I applaud whoever was behind it.
11. Was all of the hype around collusion justified? Apparently not, if Mueller couldn’t find enough evidence to charge anyone with conspiracy. So why did the hype exist? Maybe the media, supposedly made up of professional and highly trained journalists and editors who are good at being objective, just got carried away? Like they did when they told us Saddam had WMD. But Cicero told us to always ask “cui bono” (who benefits)? Who benefited from two years of collusion delusion? The media sold a ton of papers and tv advertising, which boosted their revenues. The DNC got to distract people away from their own corruption (as revealed by the leaks) and how they screwed the Sanders campaign during the primaries – and eventually lost the election to a buffoon who didn’t even want, or expect, to win. Did these parties deliberately distract the American population with the collusion delusion? I don’t know. I have no evidence to support those theories. But I would love to know.
The LONG version:
To avoid having to repeat myself over and over: my point over the last could of years has never been that Trump isn’t dirty or guilty of all sorts of crimes. On the contrary – I assume he is dirty. What I’ve been going on about for the last couple of years has been that the COLLUSION narrative that everyone has been obsessed with was based on zero evidence. Having meetings with Russians was not illegal or evidence of collusion – it was evidence of having meetings with Russians.
As for people saying there was evidence but just “not enough for indictment”, I think that’s heavy spin doctoring. Conspiring is like being pregnant. It’s a binary situation. Saying “but they french kissed” does not mean there is evidence they are pregnant. An agreement to conspire on something is black and white. Either they agreed to conspire or they didn’t. There isn’t any way to have a partial agreement.
Over the last couple of years, a lot of people told me I was insane / naïve / a dupe because I wouldn’t agree with the collusion narrative. They assumed Trump (or his campaign’s) guilt, I gather, because it’s what they wanted to believe. But, of course, it turns out I was right (at least according to the Mueller Report).
And I’m highly amused that those same people are now either: a) denying they ever claimed there was / believed in collusion, b) trying to spin it into “but but but what about cover ups?” or c) saying “but but but he’s a criminal.” Instead of being honest and saying “yeah we sure did jump the gun on that one and maybe we should learn to think before we buy into media narratives.”
I think the questions we should be asking now are:
Who created the narrative?
What did they hope to gain?
Why did the media push it for two years when it was obviously bullshit from the get-go?
And why did you buy into it?
And before you say something about “Russian interference in the democratic process”, a) that isn’t new, b) we didn’t need this investigation to tell us that and c) there’s already ongoing investigations into that, has been constantly for 100 years.
Investigations are fine, have as many as you want. But investigating the foreign interference in domestic politics is something the FBI gets paid to do and has been doing for nearly a century. Russians attempting to interfere in American elections has been going on since 1930. Nothing surprising about it. FBI files are full of it. Pretty much all J. Edgar Hoover ever thought about.
It should be pretty clear to everyone by now that the whole COLLUSION!!! narrative we’ve had for two years was overblown and that *someone* had an agenda behind it. Was it the Obama administration trying to deflect attention from their failure to stop the Russians? Was it the DNC trying to deflect attention from how they fucked Sanders and lost the election? Was it the media just profiting from the chaos? Was it Wall Street who continued to bleed America dry and run their foreign wars while everyone was distracted by nonsense? Was it a little of all of those things? I don’t know the answer – BUT I think those are the right questions to be asking about now because THAT is what is destroying America’s democracy. Not the Russians. Not Trump. It’s the forces that allowed Trump to get elected in the first place.
Amy Goodman interviewed Noam Chomsky recently and asked him to explain the Trump presidency. At the 48 minute mark he nails the move of both major parties to the right since the 1970s, and how the GOP managed to balance their primary constituency – big business and the wealthy – whilst also targeting small but passionate niches – the religious right and gun owners. He also explains why Russiagate was such a bunch of nonsense.
I would have hoped that after the whole “Saddam has WMD!” furor 18 years ago, Americans – especially those on the “left” – would have developed a better bullshit filter when it came to interpreting the US media. Apparently they aren’t ready yet. Here’s a handy guide for what to do the next time you hear something in the news which maps into your confirmation bias.
The way people are doubling down on their commitment to the Russiagate narrative reminds me of how members of a doomsday cult act then the big day doesn’t happen. They don’t acknowledge they were wrong. They are too invested in their beliefs. So they often become more fervent than ever before. American politics has become, more than ever before, a matter of religious fervour – even for the atheists.
One other thing I’ve suspected over the last year or so is that Trump (and his father before him) actually has real connections to Russian mafia via Semion Mogilevich, Bayrock, Felix Sater, etc. We talked about those on BFTN 4 and BFTN 18. I’m quite surprised Mueller didn’t report on that or Trump’s reported tax fraud (as discussed that on BFTN 21).
Well it’s officially election time once again in Australia, so pull out your official Politician Personality Disorder Bingo cards and see which politicians match the personality disorders from the DSM-5!
Is ScoMo more Histrionic or Narcissistic?
Is BarJoy more Dependent or Antisocial?
You be the judge! No psychiatric qualifications necessary, as this is the national sport that replaced two-up. Winners will get a free trip to Canberra on May 18 to watch both the winners and the losers put the full force of their disorders on public display. Second place will get a free copy of my book The Psychopath Economy. Fun for all the family!
If you want an idea of what my upcoming book The Psychopath Economy is all about – here’s the index. Should give you a good idea.
My eldest kids, Taylor and Hunter, have launched their own podcast – UNTWINED. I think they might be one of the first second generation podcasters, which is a nice poetry, as I was one of the first of the FIRST generation. Definitely check it out. I’m impressed with how they are embracing their naïvety to try to work out how the world works. In the third episode, they interviewed my good mate Tony Kynaston, a multi-millionaire professional investor, about his journey from poverty to being worth a few bucks (and generously supporting some of my crazy projects). Worth a listen.
Principal Photography Completed!
Last weekend we *finally* got the principal photography completed for my first documentary, MARKETING THE MESSIAH. I shot all of my scenes to camera down in Melbourne with the lovely crew from Ignition Immersive. Now we’ve just got to edit it all together and sell it. For those of you who don’t know what the film is about – I’ve done interviews with biblical scholars, ancient historians and academics from around the globe to get them to help me tell the actual, historical story of how Christianity went from being a fringe, Jewish cult from the remote regions of the Roman Empire, to becoming the state religion. It’s the story from about 40 CE – 400 CE. It’s a secular film, not a faith-based film, but not an attack on Christianity, either. I’m just fascinated in the real history behind it.
While I’m on the subject of things I’ve finally finished, my new book THE PSYCHOPATH ECONOMY is also finished. It only took me SIX YEARS. Now I go looking for a publisher.
Update to original post:
I originally posted this in Oct 2018.
Since then, The Guardian invited me to write some stuff about the latest series. They edited down my full comments, so here’s the full version:
For fifty years, The Doctor, even in his most pleasant of incarnations, has had a singular trait – he is a psychopath. Not the serial killer type of psychopath, which psychiatrists report are a very small percentage, but the Steve Jobs type. He’s a benign psychopath. He’s a psychopath who, for reasons as yet unknown, has decided to use his intelligence for the benefit of others. And that is a large part of the joy in the character. A quick perusal of the PCL-R test for psychopaths (or what the DSM V might classify as an Antisocial/Psychopathic Personality Disorder) will suggest a list of behaviours that the Doctor definitely exhibits. For a start, he’s a complete narcissist. He always assumes (and insists) he is the smartest person in any room – and with good reason, because he is, of course, correct in that assumption. He has an extreme appetite for risk, always throwing himself (and, often, his companions) into danger, usually with a high degree of confidence that he’ll come out of it unscathed. He doesn’t really understand people or emotions and often needs a human to explain to him what emotions he should be feeling – or, at least, pretend to be feeling. During the Classic era, he would sometimes abandon a companion or other hangers-on without a moment’s thought for what that will do to them.
I was personally very excited to get a female Doctor. I loved Chibnall’s work on BROADCHURCH and hoped he’d cast Olivia Colman as The Doctor. Whittaker was a great second choice. I loved the outfit they chose for her and the overall look. I was very excited when I first saw the “key” teaser and had high hopes that Chibnall would bring the show back to its glory days, feeling like Moffat’s run with Capaldi was huge waste of the latter’s immense talent.
Unfortunately, from the very outset, I felt like Chibnall either doesn’t get the fundamentals of the Doctor’s inherent psychopathy, or has decided to write it out of this regeneration, making her a kinder, gentler, touchy-feely, kid friendly Doctor. Which is fine – he’s the show runner and it’s his prerogative to make the Doctor the way he wants her to be. But after a lifetime of Doctor Who fandom, at nearly 50 years of age, having to justify to my American wife why I continue to watch the show even during the poorly executed episodes (“because when it’s good it makes me cry! – don’t even mention the Van Gogh episode!”), I’ve given up and decided to sit out the rest of the Chibnall era. His Doctor doesn’t talk or act like the Doctor I have been watching since I was a child. She is full of self-doubt, indecisive, and wants a hug. That’s not my Doctor.
One of the problems with enlightenment is that most of the teaching about it we have inherited from the East. And most of the teaching from the East comes with hundreds or thousands of years of concepts that date back to a time when most people had little literacy, little education and certain very little science. So the terminology and explanations we get from teachers from the East (or people saturated in ancient teachings from the East) don’t get communicated in terms that make sense to the 21st century, science-literate Western mind.
But really – enlightenment isn’t complicated.
All enlightenment is, is the realisation, the recognition, that our self-concept – the idea of who and what we are – is false. It’s predicated on erroneous concepts. It’s never been true, never could be true, and never will be true. And we then need to adjust our self-perception with something more credible.
Despite what you’ll hear from many teachers, this process of seeing the errors with the old self-concept, CAN, DOES and MUST happen “in the mind”. The mind is that ONLY place where this self-concept can occur and it’s the only place where it can change.
The old self-concept that most people have, is that they are some kind of entity that is a) self-governing and b) separate from the rest of the universe.
But when we investigate that idea, we discover that it cannot be true. Our bodies are made of cells, which are made of molecules, which are made of atoms, which obey the laws of physics – therefore we are not self-governing. And those atoms are constantly coming and going from our bodies, and are interacting with the atoms of our surroundings, so we are no separate form the rest of the universe. What, then, are we? What should our new self-concept be?
If I contemplate those conclusions for a while, I come to the following further conclusions.
1. There is no particular thing I can point to, and say “this is what I am”.
2. And yet – I exist. If I did not exist, what is having these thoughts?
3. So some thing exists and yet is it no particular thing.
4. What is left? All things. Every thing.
5. Therefore I must be everything.
It also makes sense that if the atoms that make up ‘me’ (as in, the body I used to think of as me) come and go, then the atoms that are me now, were something else a few years ago. The atoms that were me a few years ago, are now something else. The atoms that will be me a few years from now, are currently something else. Which atoms are ‘me’? Obviously all of them. Which means I am simultaneously many things.
From there I consider that, according to physicists, atoms do not have a solid boundary. The nucleus of an atom is orbited by one or more electrons as a “fuzzy probability cloud”. Therefore, there isn’t even a hard boundary between the atoms that are currently me and the atoms in the air and furniture around me. If I could see at such small levels of detail, I would notice that my atoms blend into the atoms of the air and furniture. And the atoms of the air and furniture would blend into other atoms. And so on and so forth, until all of the atoms are blending into each other. The universe is comprised of atom soup.
Therefore what I am – what any of us, all of us, are – is the atom soup of universe. Which is, in other words, the universe.
There is only the universe. And I am that. And so are you.
We are the universe aware of itself.
The recognition of this – the new self-concept – is the first step of enlightenment.
The second step is the question: “So what does that all mean for how I live my live from this moment on?”