10.31.2016

Ten Spooky Conspiracy Theories


Election years bring out the crazy in the American media-politic the way the rain brings out the smell of urine on Chicago Avenue. And maybe not just election years, God bless our crazy hearts; conspiracy theories are a national passtime.

I thought it'd be fun to do a Top Ten of the conspiracy theories I find most entertaining. Mind you I neither endorse nor dismiss anything below; this is all for entertainment purposes/ Halloween fun only. Personally I am a confirmed skeptic and disinclined to believe most things I read or hear, whether they are fringe theories (Illuminati! Lizard people!) or mainstream ones (Vaccines! Monsanto! The Republicans want to put black people in chains! The Democrats want to put ISIS in your kindergarten! The NRA / Hillary has blood on their hands!)

Go on with your bad crazy selves, America, I stand before you today only in a Cryptkeeper capacity. 

Happy Halloween!

Two things I will endorse up front are Tragedy and Hope by Carroll Quigley and The Mitrokhin Archive by Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin. The former is often mentioned in certain conspiracy corners while the latter is curiously off-the-radar. Both are non-fiction and exhaustive - Tragedy and Hope is over 1000 pages and Mitrokhin about 700) - and are perhaps best stored as PDFs on your hard drive. That way, you can search them for any phrase or name you ever come across and see for yourself how they fit into the information matrix of the twentieth century. Want to understand why I believe so many of the crazy things I do? Keep these books at the ready. Neither were written to blow the lid off anything - Quigley was Bill Clinton's mentor, for example, and very much a supporter of everything he wrote about in Tragedy and Hope - but both should be on the actual or virtual shelf of anyone who wishes to speak beyond a superficial level to the Anglo-American century.  

Also? Propaganda by Ed Bernays. And maybe Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley.

Before we begin, this isn't an exhaustive list - good lord, how could it be? Way back in the pre-internet days, I was a big fan of the Church of the Sub-Genius' Catalog of Weird and Wondrous Groups and Conspiracies. That wasn't the official name of it, I'm just having some trouble finding a link to what I'm talking about. It was essentially an annotated list, separated by category (Alien, Government, Religious, etc.) of all the wack-a-doo groups that published a newsletter or had stuff available for purchase. I don't think I ever availed myself of anything in there, but I used to love flipping through it. Anyway, to even approach an exhaustive list, you'd need something book length, for sure, and these days, probably several volumes. 

I decided not to include anything that could be termed "black conspiracy." It's too broad a topic, for one, on either side. I do, however, think a key and ongoing component of population control is keeping people divided along racial lines. What that used to mean vs. how it plays out now (see MSNBC, Vox, Daily Kos, etc.) is instructive.

See Ye Olde Zen Axiom - you are attached to what you attack. Amen. 

10.
Mystery Babylon by William Cooper

Ah, good ol' Bill Cooper, the former host of The Hour of the Time. Bill Clinton called him "the most dangerous man in America," and he was killed by the feds under mysterious circumstances outside of his home in Arizona.

So what did Former President Clinton find so dangerous about Bill Cooper? All the usual stuff, I guess - just a general purveyor of anti-government / false flag / Illuminati conspiracy theories. Cooper (and his listeners) wore the President's anti-endorsement as a badge of pride, and rightly so. It's doubtful, though, that Clinton or any of his people ever sat down and made their way through all 41 parts of "Mystery Babylon," as your humble narrator did in the winter of 2008/2009. (After doing so, I wrote the current caretakers of the Hour of the Time and asked if there was some kind of badge or bumper sticker for completing it. No reply.)


The basic gist of Mystery Babylon is that since the time of Ancient Egypt - and right on down through the ages, as preserved in the secret societies, particularly the Freemasons and the Rosicrucians - a high priest class has ruled over humanity, and they've done so through symbols and ritual. The great thing about this series is that some episodes are simply Bill reading from other things (such as all the Assassins and Templars stuff, all of which led me to the source material, John J. Robinson's Dungeon Fire and Sword, a fantastic read) or just holding the microphone up to the television as it plays The Occult and the Third Reich. (Pre-internet, man! It was wild back there!) So some scholarly work does indeed filter down through the program.

Other episodes are interrupted by Bill's dog whimpering to be let out or Bill screaming "WAKE UP, SHEEPLE!" into the microphone. In the finest paranoid schizophrenic tradition, he refers often to his lonely and heroic quest, (i.e. all the martyrdom he endures on our ungrateful behalf) and he devotes several episodes to Bette Midler's "The Rose." If you've ever wanted to hear a man in his 50s wax religious about that song, repeatedly, you're in for a treat.)

In other words, it's a wild ride all over the map. The "Mystery Babylon" legacy lives on at sites like Vigilant Citizen or in more scholarly works such as Mark Booth's The Secret History of the World. Booth is the pseudonym of the publisher of Graham Hancock's many works. I suppose I should consider Hancock's work to be conspiracy theory of a sort, as well, but not quite in the same manner as any of the other books on this list. If I were to shoehorn Hancock's work into things, though, I'd put Fingerprints of the Gods right up there at number one. One of the most engrossing books I've ever read. Some of the info has since been updated in Magicians of the Gods, but of the two, Fingerprints is the better read.

Anyway! Hancock is a distant cousin at best to Bill Cooper, and both would likely resent my associating them even with all these disclaimers. 

9.
A Patriot's History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen

I haven't, actually, read the Patriot's History book. Why include it? Because I've come to the opinion that the academe in this country (and the social media tablescraps that fall from its table) is entirely too monochromatic in its Marxist, Zinn-ian interpretation of all things Americana. The defense cites the endless stream of Peer Review word salad, the diminishing results of our educational system, and the demonstrable censorship and bullying that are by-products of this myopia.  

Put another way, I saw Howard Zinn speak at Vassar in 2000 to a capacity crowd. I don't think you'd get the same for Larry and Michael, if they were even allowed on campus. Is it a question of the quality of information? Or popularity of narrative? Academics should ask these questions and examine the answers. All too often though, they just vote for Bernie Sanders. Thanks a whole bunch, guys and dolls.

I'm not anti-Zinn by any means. Nor even anti-Bernie. Everything I'm saying applies to any monochromatic narrative; Ron Paul fans come to mind, too. (And likewise, I'm not anti-Paul.) I think people should read People's History, too, and maybe Murray Rothbard and maybe Lenin and maybe any and all opposing viewpoints. Triangulate your opinion based on as many coordinates as you can. That's really the only effective antidote to viewpoint radiation


8. 

You might have seen news of Jack Chick's passing in the media last week. I was kind of surprised to see so many people talking about him, though I shouldn't be. I've known since I read "Devil Doll" in an old issue of Eightball that there were others out there who got a big kick out of these things.


If any of you out there haven't ever come across a Chick tract, they are little Mao-style tracts that are left in public places or handed out by people on the street, which is how I came to know the man's work, when I was living in Dayton, OH, walking home from work one Saturday night.


Your mileage will undoubtedly vary with these things. I've never met anyone who takes these things as the literal word of truth (thankfully), but I've known many who can't see past the apocalyptic Christianity of them. An ex-girlfriend got so uncomfortable by these things that she was upset with me for having any in the house. After we broke up, I went and ordered a whole bunch of tracts and comics from their website. (That showed her!)

That Kurt Kursteiner essay aforelinked to speaks for me and probably many other Chick readers. There's a great tract-parody he wrote in The Art of Jack Chick called "The Collector," which I can't seem to find anywhere on the net, but it involves some hipster-looking dude who convinces a comics nerd to collect Chick Tracts "ironically." He does so, then after he dies, the hipster-looking dude reveals himself as none other than the Devil. "I lied to you, for your soul - for you see, I, too, am... THE COLLECTOR." Among my favorite things ever.

There's also a documentary, God's Cartoonist, which is very entertaining. If I die and discover it was all real and I'm on a special list for mocking God's Chick-Tract sleeper cell, man, I can't say I wasn't warned.


7. 

Unlike the Zionist Central Banker theory one occasionally sees floated around, the situation described here by Perkins, allegedly a former "economic hit man," i.e. one of those economic consultants who always seem to precede American military or corporate presence in "hot spots" around the globe, seems depressingly plausible. Ever hear about these single-lane accidents on deserted roads or plane crashes of prominent South American dissidents or reformists? Ever wonder why so many NGOs and not-for-profits seem so well-inserted behind the scenes in the "undeveloped" world? This book should come to mind.

There is a new edition out which I haven't read. I followed Perkins for awhile on twitter, but it proved too difficult to square the cynicism and cloak-and-dagger intrigue of Confessions with the more Green Party platitudes of his feed. He's free to believe what he likes, of course, but if a fraction of what he describes in his book is accurate, neither Green Party nor Mainstream Party platitudes amount to much.

I mentioned the Zionist Central Banker thing. It's amazing how many people still believe that crap. That said, I think the history of central banking/ fractional-reserve banking is worth studying. You'll quickly learn it has nothing to do with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which is a work of fiction, folks. I recommend both The Money Masters and Money As Debt, two internet videos that occasionally veer into fantasy (particularly the former), but also bring a lot of facts to the table

Neither of them directly link to Perkins' book. But having seen both of those many times prior to reading it, I had a lot of "A-ha" moments while reading it. 

Pssst - the very rich conspire with the very rich. It ain't conspiracy; it's common sense. Wouldn't you? Not much you can do about it, but for the love of Pete, no point arguing otherwise. I'm amazed at how many people do, though, particularly during election years. (Pssst pt. 2: the very rich are not waiting to hear what the people decide at the polls before making their plans for the next fiscal year.) All I'm saying is, when it comes to economic conspiracies, one basic rules covers them all: the system is rigged for the ruling class, not for or by any one individual. 

6. 
Crossing the Rubicon by Michael C. Ruppert

I read this one in 2008, as well. I was unemployed for many months that year and filled a lot of my time with conspiracy theory. This turned out to be useful research given my next job - bartender and manager at a VFW, where I heard a lot of the same theories slurred back at me in fits and starts. (Prompting me to ask one particularly bigoted WW2 vet exactly which side of the war he fought on.)

Of the many 9/11 conspiracy theories out there, this is my favorite. I'm not getting into any of it, just saying, this book asks some good questions and lays out a logical process beyond the typical InfoWars/ Loose Change / Zeitgeist sort of stuff you see. Full disclosure: I'm not a particular fan of InfoWars. Almost every time I've seen something crazy being floated in my newsfeed - Jade Helm, Killary, so many things - it almost always traces back to InfoWars. That makes it the sister-site of something like ThinkProgress or other sites which stage a similar psy-op campaign along different false premises.

Like Bill Cooper, Ruppert's research got him into trouble with the powers that be. Much of that is detailed in Crossing the Rubicon, but most of it is devoted to making a case for Dick Cheney being the Clay Shaw of the whole 9/11 cabal. The motive? Peak Oil. 


An absolute page-turner, regardless of what you believe, and, if you entertain some of these Peak Oil ideas, it's easily the scariest book on this list.  

5.
The Creature from Jekyll Island by G. Edward Griffin

In the conspiracy theory genre, few books have the reputation of this one. Griffin (a legendary figure in many different conspiracy theories, from cancer to Noah's Ark to global warming to the United Nations to the Federal Reserve, the focus of The Creature from Jekyll Island) is a polarizing figure, I guess, but I have to say, the Audio Archives of the Reality Zone (part of his web array) are endlessly entertaining. And much of its easily verifiable, even if it's history no one talks about.

Anyway, this book details the secretive origins and aims of the banking cartel that devised the Federal Reserve. Some debunking here and here. Of course, the debunkers have debunkers and so on down the mirror maze. God, I love this crap. 

My wife took me to Jekyll Island for my 37th birthday, God bless her.
Here I am - dig the Templars shirt! I synched that shit up - and Dawn, munching on "The JP Morgan."

They actually sell this book in the Jekyll Island gift shop, which is either damn good sportsmanship or evidence of the Fed's arrogant contempt for us mere mortals. Regardless of how little or vast you find the nefariousness of the Fed, this is an addictive read/ line of inquiry. Again, I find it rather uncontroversial to suggest rich families intermarry, devise institutions to protect their wealth from public scrutiny, write laws that exempt themselves, etc. It's not especially shocking, therefore, to discover that all the fortune-families of America's Gilded Age did the same

The Federal Reserve is for better or worse the legacy of America's brief and unprecedented successful experiment with free market capitalism, which worked so well it allowed those who profited the most from it to join forces and start policing the gate.

4.

"Clocking in at over eight hours on five discs, this epic documentary covers not only the events in Dallas on November 22, 1963, but also the Robert Kennedy assassination, the Jonestown massacre, and the horrors of CIA covert MK-ULTRA mind-control programs."

Aw yeah! Man, this thing is a mind-warping masterpiece. I watched it over two days when I was stuck at home with a head full of flu. I recommend this approach should you take the plunge. 

MK-ULTRA and the 60s assassination programs are their own conspiracy industries, of course, ranging from the outlandish (Beta Monarch Programming! It was all Vietnam!) to the empirically-proven (i.e. it/ they existed; people died.) The genius of Evidence of Revision, though, is that it painstakingly shows the viewer how a narrative was massaged into shape (with details curiously getting lost or changed via repetition along the way) in the pre-internet-echo-chamber age. It took longer and required different tactics then.  

Cross-reference to Orwell Rolls In His Grave, a documentary that details (in pointedly undramatic and boring-old-journalism-without-agenda fashion) the 21st century consolidation of media and why that's a bad thing. In 2016, it's a fait d'accompli; in both Evidence and Orwell, though, cup your hand to your ear and hear the unheeded warnings from yesteryear. 

3. 
The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills

If I had to name one book that describes precisely how and why things work the way they do, it would be The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills. Much as Quigley does in his books, Mills exhaustively describes the apparatus of power as it functioned in his lifetime. (And as it does, more or less, in our own.) It's important to note Mills was no conspiracy theorist but a rather conventional tenured professor of sociology. This book has its detractors, sure - all books do - but Mills is, of all those who have dared comment on such things, perhaps the most universally respected.

"The idea that the millionaire finds nothing but a sad, empty place at the top of this society; the idea that the rich do not know what to do with their money; the idea that the successful become filled up with futility, and that those born successful are poor and little as well as rich - the idea, in short, of the disconsolateness of the rich - is, in the main, merely a way by which those who are not rich reconcile themselves to the fact. Wealth in America is directly gratifying and directly leads to many further gratifications. To be truly rich is to possess the means of realizing in big ways one's little whims and fantasies and sicknesses." 

And how! Although this is by no means just a populist screed against the acquisition of wealth. (See Lenin's State and Revolution for that.) It simply describes - with admirable precision, readability, and lack of Marxist fantasy - the facts of life.

I've never been able to tempt any hardcore liberals to read this book. I don't know why that is exactly. (Ditto for David Simon's Homicide.) It speaks to so many of the same things about which they always seem so agitated. Moreover, it (and Homicide too, certainly) would provide them with even more effective intellectual arms and ammunition against their ideological adversaries. (Shrugs) Liberals are a curious bunch. But hey. That's life in the big city.

2.
Brought to Light by Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz

Oh boy, this book! I defy you to name a better dialogue between a coke-snorting, whiskey-drinking, Sinatra-loving anthropomorphic CIA Eagle and a nameless narrator-visitor from a shadow-land of blank currency and endless assassination. Based on the revelations of the Christic Institute (which are of course officially disputed - partially because many of the witnesses died prior to trial), this is a fascinating narrative of a Central Intelligence Agency out of control, as depicted in Alan Moore's and Bill Sienkiewicz's unique styles.

"Nixon worked for Pepsi, goddamnit, ain't no better symbol of the American way than Pepsi. Ask anybody who was in Laos. All that smack we moved usin' that Pepsi factory in Laos, all those GIs and junkies the world over who got their habit from us? They're in the Pepsi Generation! HAHAHAHA! (pause) 'Course later, we decided things went better with Coke."


I have the spoken word performance of this by Alan Moore and David Lloyd - highly, highly recommended. This led me to a fascination with the Blonde Ghost, Ted Shackley. I've tried tracking down more about him (and some of the other cohorts mentioned here), but the tricky thing with trying to find anything about America's intelligence activities (or any country, really) is  you're never sure if you're reading disinformation or not. And you never will be. Even Shackley probably wasn't.


Still. Harrowing stuff. Take everything you hear with a grain of salt. (Good lifehack in general.) As I wrote recently, it's curious to me that so many are so willing to believe anything they hear about the CIA (or the Mossad), yet try to get them to learn anything about what the KGB and GRU actually accomplished and they give you that tinfoil hat look.

But no - we don't live under a spell of Marxist brainwashing! Not at all! 

On that note:  

1. 

This is basically the only conspiracy book anyone ever needs. Here's how it describes itself at its website:

"More and more Americans are coming to feel that something has gone fundamentally wrong in our society. We have suffered repetitive wars, big and small, some won and some lost, but with the peace always lost. Our society has been drained of around $5 trillion in welfare costs since LBJ's War on Poverty was declared, but with no diminution in the incidence of "poverty." Our "War on Drugs" has also been lost, with its societal costs running around $500 billion per year. The cost of fixes for runaway environmentalism has reached about $1 trillion since the birth of the EPA in 1970. Our national debt is over $5 trillion and still going up. Two breadwinners per family has become normal, just to keep bread on the table.

Americans feel put upon, and they are right, but they don't know who's doing it to them or why. Such issues have been pondered by researchers for many years, but the historical facts are finally bringing the pieces of the puzzle together. This book paints a picture of that largely completed puzzle, and lays out who the culprits are, why they are doing what they are doing, and how they are managing to pull off what is probably the biggest mass robbery of wealth and individual freedom in human history.

The picture is one which you must understand if your efforts are ever to amount to anything. We paint that picture by presenting an ordered set of book reviews which identify our enemies and describe the primary strategies and actions which they have taken against us over the last 100 years or so. Our goal in writing the book was to provide an accurate portrayal of that picture within the covers of a single moderate- length book. The 12 chapter titles of How The World Really Works are listed below, and consist of the names of the books being reviewed."

The books reviewed include some of the ones covered above as well as The Politics of Heroin by Alfred McCoy and The Greening by Larry Abraham. The former is perhaps one of the most important books published by an American academic (perhaps even more than those published by Mills and Quigley) while the latter probably isn't. (I've never read it, only the overview of it here in HTWRW.) Familiarizing yourself with its arguments (as well as the ones made in The Tax-Exempt Foundations) serves you better than Voxsplaining, though, which is just as bad. 

(If not worse. In fact, the existence and widespread acceptance of things like Vox makes me wonder if perhaps we weren't too hasty in writing off the warnings of people like the John Birch Society.)

Like everything on this list, I don't think it's a collection of verified truths. But interesting? Thought-provoking? Stimulating mental exercise? Absolutely.

"Will no one help the widow's son?" 

~
There's ten of mine - how about you? Happy Halloween!

49 comments:

  1. Honorable mentions: G. Edward Griffin's "The Capitalist Conspiracy" and (something I learned of from watching that one and then downloaded from Project Gutenberg and read on my own) Philip Dru: Administrator by Edward "Colonel" House. (Not the greatest book, but the idea of it/ its context is interesting.)

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  2. I regret not having read this on Halloween! Of course, this year, Halloween season seems like it might be getting an indefinite extension, so it's still very much in-bounds.

    I'm listening to the soundtrack to "Rose Red" as I read/comment, by the way. Seems appropriate.

    By the way, Democrats really DO want to put ISIS in American middle schools. Chopping off those kids' heads seems like the only way at this point, though, so who can blame us? Er, I mean, "them."

    Without delving into black conspiracy very deep, I'd ask a question about something along those lines. I can intellectually believe the notion that there is a concerted effort among The Powers That Be to amplify and propagate racial politics in an attempt to sow discord. However, if this were actually being done in America, wouldn't those Powers -- who I think we all know to be white -- be mightily vexed by miscegenation? And given that those same Powers seemingly control the media, I'm not sure I can reconcile the pro-miscegenation (or, at least, the non-anti-miscegenation) forces of the liberal media with the seemingly diametrically-opposed forces of the other side.

    Is this a smoke screen of some sort that has been thrown up in my path, or have I left something out of my equation? Is it more the case that discord of ANY sort fits the bill just fine, and the specifics will be engineered as the PTB see fit?

    Looking back over all of that, I realize that I'm on the verge of sounding snarky, but that's not my intent -- it's a set of honest questions.

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    1. No snarkiness came through on this end. To answer your specific question, I think miscegenation just opens up the field of control to new opportunities for racism. But in a broader sense, even if everyone was the same color, the game plan would be to just find a way to get everyone to argue about it anyway. This is a casual answer to a much deeper thing, of course, but perhaps the ultimate answer is: I don't know, lol.

      There's a great overview of the many facets of "black conspiracy," I think, if my scant research only into gangland Chicago is any indication. But: I'm not the guy to write it. I'd love to read it, though.

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    2. I'd heard before of the degree to which lightness/darkness of skin tone is sometimes a problem even among "black people" (whatever that truly counts as in an increasingly miscegenated society), but I actually encountered a mild form of that mindset this weekend when I overheard a dark-skinned co-worker semi-jokingly accuse a light-skinned co-worker of being in a "light mood." I asked, "Hey, did that mean what I think it meant?" and received an affirmative reply. I said, "I am never, ever going to use that, just in case you were wondering."

      So even in the event of a fully-mixed society, the seeds seem to already be there for tone-based discord.

      Personally, I'd like to pioneer a way of inciting white-on-white racism of some sort. Beyond the scope of SEC football, I mean.

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    3. I think white-on-white racism is the most popular passtime of the media-academe, myself!

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    4. Probably, but it's just not racial enough for me. I'mma put some thought into it before I roll it out, but I feel certain that being bigoted against people who can't put their shopping carts in the cart-corrals -- who really are a lesser form of life -- is going to be a vital component of my plan. I doubt that's actually a whites-only problem, but maybe I can use it as a springboard somehow.

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  3. Hmm. This "Mystery Babylon" thing sounds highly intriguing. See, here's the thing: even if I end up not putting any stock in this stuff -- which is most of the time -- I can mentally write it off as spinoff episodes of "The X-Files" and enjoy it that way. I'm sure a guy like William Cooper would be horrified to hear me say that, but it's true.

    I clicked on the link about Cooper's death, and Norton threw up a big ol' red flag and redirected me away from the page. That's...kind of creepy. I'm now a bit concerned about my decision to download that .zip file of all the Mystery Babylon episodes.

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    1. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE NOW!

      Your "X-Files" spinoff analogy is spot-on.

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  4. I've heard of both Howard Zinn and Larry Schweikart, but I'd hard pressed to tell you anything about them. Not even positive where I heard the names; Clyde Lewis might have talked about them on one of the several-dozen episodes of "Ground Zero" I've listened to. That's a strong possibility, actually.

    Regarding the academia issue...

    I'm aware that by now there are serious concerns about the -- and I'm assuming this is a fair word to lead with -- brainwashing of college students on campuses to think in a very restrictive way that masquerades as open-mindedness. I'm intrigued by the notion of diminishing returns in the educational system, not so much in terms of how that plays out on the college and post-grad level, but more in terms of the public educational system.

    My perception is that public education both sucks AND blows. I don't think there's any doubt in my mind that people are dumber in 2016 than they were in 1976. Whether they actually ARE dumber is another matter altogether; I don't know for sure, all I know is that they seem dumber, based on my admittedly-unscientific observations.

    Let's assume they are. If so, then has that been engineered so as to make the populace more manipulable? Would this result in even the upper echelons of public-school students being less discerning, and therefore more manipulable on the college and post-grad level?

    It sounds plausible, if only as fiction. But I don't know, man; it might not be fiction at all. Whether it is or isn't, the end result seems to be fairly dire.

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    1. I wish I knew how to succinctly respond to these questions. I don't, though, except to say that yeah, I think a sort of "mental softening/ conditioning" was inflicted over the past few generations, leading to the easily controlled, born-to-trigger, ideologically monochromatic media-academe we have now.

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    2. This is a mild non sequitur, but my biggest problem with the Bernie movement folks is their desire for free college. My thing is, free education already exists: it's called high school, and most people suck at it. You're telling me THEY ought to get free college, and that even if they did they'd do anything more than suck at college and drop out after a semester? Not bloody likely, says I.

      Free higher education is a lovely idea and an admirable goal, but not until the already-extant public education systems are fixed.

      TPBT aren't going to let that happen, though, are they? God damn it, is THAT why they gave us Pornhub?!? Whatever that is...

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    3. I like the German university model. Free compulsory schooling to a certain age, and then it's dictated by interest/ ability. Still all free. I'm sure there are problems - I'm no education reform expert or even novice - but that seems much more reasonable than the current debt slavery / insanity model.

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  5. Chick Tracts!

    I've only got a passing familiarity with these things, but it's enough to cause me to nod sagely in agreement with everything mentioned in this section of your post. A guy I was friends with in college stayed in a dorm full of ... well, shit, actually I don't even know WHAT to call this collection of misfits and weirdos. I enjoyed hanging out there, though. You'd hear Mojo Nixon and Jello Biafra wafting up the halls while people in the rec room were watching a Troma movie or whatever. Pretty great. Somebody would typically have printed out all the best Onion articles and pinned 'em to the walls. That sort of thing.

    Anyways, somebody there -- probably my friend Cary -- introduced me to the Chick Tract at some point in time. I was sort of amazed by the very concept. It felt -- and still feels -- like I was somehow stepping out of my own body and putting on somebody else's, and their brain had partial control of my brain during the process. It felt like what I was seeing would make complete sense, if only my own brain would let it. So, of course, the only logical response is to buck until I was able to get away from it all.

    Pretty gross. But just persuasive enough so that it makes sense to me how other people would have a very different reaction.

    I sure do hope Chick's death isn't going to prompt some sort of admiring reevaluation of his work by hipsters of the sort you mention. Somehow, I already know that it is going to do precisely that.

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    1. You should check out God's Cartoonist - it's a pretty cool documentary about the whole Chick empire.

      That dorm sounds awesome to me!

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    2. It is my considered belief that you would have fit right in. I was only a tourist, and I only did that for about the final year of my college career (plus off and on for the next year or so after graduating). If I'd been able to come to it sooner, I think I might have been better off. Seems like there were a lot of good times to be had there, and probably a considerable broadening of the horizons as well.

      "God's Cartoonist" does indeed sound like it's worth seeing.

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  6. I've always been a bit mystified by the alleged Jewish banking conspiracy. I mean, like, does it matter that they're (allegedly) Jewish? Are the Jews involved in a long con to rule the world? If so, boy, they suck ass at it. And frankly, that cuts against the stereotype of Jewish bankers, who on the whole seem to be a highly competent lot.

    Anyways, I think it would be preferable to simply think of it as an international banking conspiracy. What's the use of bringing racist overtones to it?

    I'm obviously addressing that in a general sense, not at YOU. But yeah, it always seems like I'd be more open to some of this stuff if it didn't, you know, have the whiff of horrifying racism.

    As for the existence of the ruling class by way of the super-rich...well, yeah, that's clearly a thing. And here's where I show my stripes: in a hypothetical sense, I'm okay with that. I'm okay with being ruled, provided the rule is wise. But that wisdom seems increasingly like a fiction, so I'm not sure where that leaves a guy like me.

    That Perkins book sounds highly intriguing.

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    1. I have a Jewish side to my family, and that was always the joke at holiday time: "Chosen people? Chosen for what, exactly??"

      I didn't mention it in the post, but I found a collection of Ezra Pound's antisemitic rants that he made for Fascist Italy during the war. Wow! I remember Pound vaguely from Hemingway anecdotes and from 11th grade English class, but I had no idea the High Priest-iness of his Jewish Banking Cabal beliefs. Absolutely crazy. A jewel of my Forbidden Conspiracy Literature collection.

      (aka the kind of book that would allow every newspaper in the world to refer to me as "having Nazi and occult literature in his closet." It's for research! Damn it! You have to keep tabs on the enemy. And where they came from.)

      (But... who'll listen. We're all Josef K.)

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    2. If I were you, I would put Post It notes explaining that on the front covers of each book in that collection. I mean, it can't hurt. Granted, they're probably get ya no matter what if they decide to get you.

      Anyways, shit, why wouldn't a fella have at least a LITTLE occult literature in his collection?!? I'm pretty sure I've got a few tomes that would qualify for that, although I've never read any of them.

      I did not know that about Ezra Pound. But I instinctively distrust poets, so it doesn't surprise me all that much.

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    3. Amen on innate distrust of poets. When a poet endorses something, I almost always take steps away from whatever it is. I hope I'm never in a fire / escape situation and they suggest a reasonable way out. I'd jump out the window.

      I love the idea of Post-It Notes. I suspect it would re-enforce rather than clear up the perception that I'm some kind of crazy nutbag, but I love it.

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    4. "To any officials who might discover this book: look, god damn it, I'm just an amateur academic doing research! Plus, I got an interest in the occult from Indiana Jones, and the other stuff from The X-Files, so really, this whole collection is just an externalized disc of bonus features for those DVDs. Do you really want to toss a guy in the clink for listening to a commentary track?!?"

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  7. "Prompting me to ask one particularly bigoted WW2 vet exactly which side of the war he fought on."

    I bet THAT went over well...

    I know nothing about Peak Oil, but a cursory amount of research leads me to believe that yeah, of course that's going to be a thing. And it stands to reason that governments and nations are going to have to plan for/against it.

    Do I believe 9/11 was a conspiracy? Not getting into that one. But my perception is that InfoWars is a sack of shit, so take that as you will.

    Ultimately, I'm not sure I believe that conspiracies as vast as something like would be sustainable. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's how it seems. You'd have to rely on so many people to keep their mouths shut that you'd never be able to keep 'em all quiet. Even if you killed them all, you'd run the risk of exposing what was happening by doing so.

    All that said, do I believe that a government could do something that was awful in the short run in the interests of long-term good? Yeah, I can believe that without much trouble.

    Do I believe that Peak Oil will likely demand action(s) of that nature.

    Yes indeed. You'd like to think we'd figure out how to live without oil before then, but nobody seems interested in doing that, so I guess we're in for some interesting times.

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    1. One of these days I really have to commit all the VFW days to the page. That one guy (the WW2 vet) was like a cartoon bigot from some Soviet propaganda movie about the decadent West. Awesome.

      Your questions are completely reasonable to me, as is your general take on the situation. Crossing the Rubicon is the most intelligent of all the 9-11 stuff I've ever seen. There are some weird components to it that I'd like answers to.

      But, let's face it - I/ we'll never get them.

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    2. If it's a real thing, then we certainly won't; and if it isn't, then none exist. Sounds like a great book, for sure.

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  8. All that Jekyll Island stuff seems kind of delightful to me. The photos of you in the t-shirt and Mrs. McMolo munching away contentedly as though y'all were in Disneyland are pretty great.

    I'd never heard of Jekyll Island. My mind did a weird thing where it conflated "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" with "The Island of Dr. Moreau," which isn't actually all that inappropriate, I guess.

    One question I'd have about the super-rich elites: how would they deal with newcomers to their ranks? For example, when Bill Gates got to be "Bill Gates," how did that work? Did the elites sway him to their ideological path, or did the nature of his wealth do so in advance of their outreach by sheer virtue of what it's like to be that rich and powerful?

    How would the elites handle a new member who was diametrically opposed to what they were doing and decided to combat them? Would such a thing even be possible? If so, the odds seem good that it would have happened by now.

    I can easily believe that the super-rich have common interests, but I would be hard-pressed to believe that they act in lockstep, either willingly or by force. And that's where the conspiracy angle begins to break down a bit for me.

    That could be major naivete on my part, of course.

    I'm not ambitious enough to even aspire to super-richness, so I guess I'll never know for sure.

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    1. I don't know if the kind of interconnectedness I (or at least these books here) describe aspires to an unbelievable or unmanageable amount of lockstep-ness. It's a rather remarkable machine they've built for themselves. And it basically runs itself.

      Jekyll Island, by the way, is a beautiful place. That was one hell of a vacation. Fun sidenote: there was a Friday the 13th the Series marathon on, one of the days, which is where, I think, I first discovered the future Mrs. McMolo was down with Robey, Ryan, and Jack.

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  9. "Evidence of Revision" sounds compelling, as does "Orwell Rolls In His Grave." Both seem to be on YouTube, so looks like I'm going to put YouTube Downloader to work and archive those suckers for later exploration.

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    1. Of the two, "Orwell" is perhaps more urgent, though that could just be a matter of perspective. "Evidence," though, is perfectly paired up with the mild hallucinatory and suggestive state of cold medicine.

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  10. "The idea that the millionaire finds nothing but a sad, empty place at the top of this society; the idea that the rich do not know what to do with their money; the idea that the successful become filled up with futility, and that those born successful are poor and little as well as rich - the idea, in short, of the disconsolateness of the rich - is, in the main, merely a way by which those who are not rich reconcile themselves to the fact. Wealth in America is directly gratifying and directly leads to many further gratifications. To be truly rich is to possess the means of realizing in big ways one's little whims and fantasies and sicknesses."

    Is it wrong that when I read that I think, "Fuck YEAH I'd like to be rich!"

    As I mentioned earlier, I've got no ambitions in that direction, and even if I did, I'd almost certainly be unable to achieve them. but as an idea, it appeals to me to be able to put that wealth and power to use in meaningful ways.

    And right there, I guess I understand how such a thing as the power elite not only is possible, but inevitable. This, presumably, is how you end up with a guy like Elon Musk.

    What if the world is full of good-guy Power Elites who wage silent wars against the bad-guy Power Elites, and vice versa? What if what we think of as society is the byproduct of those wars?

    Hmm. Interesting.

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    1. I'm not sure I qualify as a hardcore liberal, but I'd definitely read both "The Power Elite" and "Homicide." Once I get myself back in the swing of regular reading, I might do just that.

      Sidebar off the latter title: I recently finished watching season 3 of "The Wire." Omar is marching up the list of my all-time favorite tv characters.

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    2. Hell yes on Omar, and you won't regret it for either Power Elite or Homicide!

      Not only possible but inevitable is exactly how I see it.

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  11. Hey, "Brought to Light"! I've read that! (The Alan Moore half, at least.) And yeah, I agree, the Moore-read audio version is great. Moore in general is great as a reader/speaker. I'd sit for hours and listen to him talk about literally anything. There's a touch of sycophancy in me, I guess.

    As for "Brought to Light" itself, it's a dense, troubling piece of work. I read a torrented version on my iPad, and had a bit of trouble with the art (some of which had not been scanned very well and was hard to see). I've since located a physical copy and bought it, and have been meaning to give it a proper read. I have yet to be able to make myself actually do it, though. It's like if you went to the doctor, got the unfortunate results of your cancer tests, skimmed them, and put them to the side. You know you need to check them out more fully, but you opt for watching old "Star Trek" episodes instead.

    Not a perfect analogy, but not an incorrect one, either.

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    1. I understand this analogy all too well.

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  12. "This book paints a picture of that largely completed puzzle, and lays out who the culprits are, why they are doing what they are doing, and how they are managing to pull off what is probably the biggest mass robbery of wealth and individual freedom in human history."

    If such an explanation was possible, I'm not entirely sure I believe that it could ever see the light of day. Wouldn't the Power Elite risk almost anything to prevent that from happening? Seems like they would -- I would if I were in their position (I may have just outed myself as a potential collaborator!) -- and that is where I have a hard time believing in ideas like the ones this book likely contains. Anything that professes to have All The Answers simply strikes me as being too convenient. Reality seems more complex to me than to permit for anybody to really and truly be able to connect the dots.

    This may be a crucial misreading on my part. I'll grant you that, but that may only be because I'm unwilling to commit, and THAT may only be an act of laziness on my part.

    I'm not sure I know which.

    I'm not familiar with Voxsplaining, but I sense that it would annoy me. In the absence of any clue as to what it is, I'm going to assume that it is the process by which I have the world explained to me by Bono Vox, lead singer of U2. I'd sign up for that provided The Edge and Adam and Larry were there to help balance him out a bit.

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    1. Perhaps the quote I chose made it sound a little too Book That Contains All The Knowledge of the Creators-esque. What I like about it is how it presents a collection of different theories, none of which work in concert for one another. It's as if someone is flipping levels of the Tower for you, showing you all of these mutually-plausible-but-exclusive (and all spooky) This Is Your Life scenarios.

      I like your idea of Voxsplaining infinitely better than the actual thing! Which is basically just inflicting or attaching the catechism of Vox (the website) to any discussion and refusing to engage or perceive any reality outside of itself.

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    2. Shit, I must be slipping -- I don't think I'm familiar with Vox at all. Sounds like maybe that's a good thing.

      That brings to mind an idea: that maybe some of our current cultural climate can be explained by the desire to find a lens through which to experience the world. Information overload has come (is my hypothesis), and XX% of us have subconsciously (or consciously) decided that it's simply too much to deal with. So we find the perspective-purveyor of our choice, commit to that entity whole-hog, and mostly don't look back.

      From there, maybe the sort of cultural bifurcation -- which might actually be trifurcation, or whatever else lies beyond that -- we're experiencing is unavoidable. I'm inclined to suspect that it's not a new bifurcation, however, but merely the revelation of one which already existed. Information overload has simply shone a light upon it.

      This has been "Weed Thoughts With Bryant" (and the "weed" was actually Mr. Pibb, sadly enough).

      There might be something to all that, though. I'm increasingly feeling a need/desire to massively manage/curtail my own information consumption. It's not just that I'm getting too much bad news; I'm getting too much GOOD stuff, too. Example: today, I hunted up a video for "Sweet Dreams" by Eurythmics so I could link to it on Facebook (as you know). What happened next was that I disappeared down a Eurythmics-shaped rabbit hole on Youtube for about half an hour, and then asked myself the following question: "Given that I fucking LOVE at least two Eurythmics songs and like at least half a dozen more, why have I not spent more time in my life investigating Eurythmics and Annie Lennox?"

      A valid question, but every time I ask a question like that, I get closer to failing to achieve some similar objective that I decided to undertake months, years, or even decades ago. How is that sustainable as an approach to life? And yet, if I close myself off to investigations like that, isn't it true that the dust begins to settle upon me immediately?

      None of my options are appealing; all of my options are appealing. This is a legit quandary.

      If some of what conspiracy theory suggests is actually true, then it might also be true to say that my quandary is one that has been engineered by outside forces, who are banking on me making one decision or the other; either gives them what they want, which is for me to be complacent.

      They want to see complacency, they should check out my friend's sister. Her goal for October was to watch 31 horror movies, one per day. She got it done and then some. But, like, she hasn't had a job in a decade and lives with her mother, so what the fuck else has she got to do? Take work out of the equation and I might be able to actually cope with some of this information overload!

      Anyways...

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    3. "Banking on me making one decision or the other..." emphasis on banking!

      Incidentally, if TPTB or Illuminati Secret Squirrels are reading this, Dog Star Omnibus is available at cut-rate prices. Four more years! Bomb Vietnam! Whatever you like. Let's negotiate.

      I echo and chapeau all of these inquiries re: info management and quality of life.

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    4. I also am 100% buyable. You want me to help make colonizing Mars a thing? I'm in. Selling the world on climate change? I already believe in that, so that won't be a challenge for me at all. Need an agent to prepare the world for VR-wrought hypnosis and repgrogramming? I can swing that way, too.

      It's all on the table.

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  13. By the way, I'm counting that closing epigraph as a "From Hell" reference, mainly as a means of saying that that tome is one that I personally find crucial to whatever limited understanding of Conspiracy that I have. Is it the truth? Well, probably not; the odds are certainly against it. But it's impossible for me not to believe in it while I'm reading it, and that counts for something.

    That puts me in mind of Alan Moore's contention that true magic is, among other things, the successful dissemination of an idea into the world. If so, the argument could be persuasively made that conspiracy theorists have supplied a fair number of the great dark magic of our age.

    Possibly some of the great light magic, too.

    It's all in the eye of the beholder.

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  14. Bryant! Thanks for your generous remarks, man, very intriguing stuff. Before I go back and answer anything specifically, I just want to say that Moore quote, there, kind of sums it ALL up.

    Have you seen the movie "Zeitgeist?" It's not a fave, though it was at one time. Basically, the interest it provoked in me led to further reading that led me away from many of its conclusions. But, it ends with a great Bill Hicks quote/ routine that manages to tie it all into the sort of quasi-mystical you-are-the-dreamer-dreaming-this-world philosophy that appeals to me.

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    1. Very welcome, obviously!

      I have not seen "Zeitgeist" nor am I even familiar with it. I consulted the IMDb page, though, and it seems well-thought-of. Your final opinion gives me pause, though.

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  15. I've leafed a bit through both "Rubicon" and "The Power Elite".

    It was graphic novelist legend Will Eisner who clued me into all that Elder Zion bullcrap with his final work, "The Plot". Basically, Eisner lays out how a bunch of kooks, failures, and psychological train wrecks seem to have taken up on individuals ravings, and then kept them alive via a word of mouth that is chilling in how it has been able to survive down the decades, even centuries.

    I've not read or heard that Alan Moore piece, but it's now on the list.

    For me, that Mills quote explains most of it in a nutshell. It explains not only why someone like Trump can wind up on the ballot, but also why some are drawn to him. Simply put, its a simple matter of power both attracting, and corrupting by that very attraction. It does seem to be a question of some fundamental form psychological stamina. Certain situations in life simply require a kind of mental maturity that many (most?) haven't achieved yet.

    You don't even need someone like Trump or 9/11 to point this out. Take the simpler cases such as the portrayal of sex in various media. The fact that debates about this topic can get so unhinged is a pointer that people are demonstrating a lack of detachment necessary in order to discuss something as trivial as the outfit of a super-heroine.

    Incidentally, Bryant, if you want to see some interesting theories about the problem of education, from the slightly kooky zone of things, I'd recommend Theodore Roszak's "Where the Wasteland Ends" and Thomas Molnar's "The Decline of the Intellectual".

    Reading both together makes for an amusing surreal experience, as both authors seem to make a similar case, and then can't recognize that either is saying the same thing....I don't know what that says about human nature.

    For some more level-headed public ed. reads, I suggest the work of E.D. Hirsch Jr.

    Finally, one book that has helped place this year into context is Richard Hofstadter's "The Paranoid Style in Politics".

    Oh yes, one last thing. "The Politics of Heroine" was mentioned. Well, I'm sorry to ruing some treasured childhood memories, but here goes:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nMmC3YvR6M

    ChrisC

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    1. lol on that crack Zootopia bit. Nice.

      Thanks for those recs! I am pretty unfamiliar with Eisner's work. He's on the Big List.

      Don't get me started on Trump/ this election.

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    2. I almost forgot one last rec.

      Check out Jane Meyer's "Dark Money" for a good idea of the shape this country is in. A New York Review of Books overview is here:

      http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/03/10/koch-brothers-new-brand/

      To end on a lighter note. This Halloween couldn't have ended on a better note, as two final Trick or Treaters came ambling by dressed up as two of the few actually scary characters in all of modern genre fiction: Michael Myers, and Pennywise the Dancing Clown.

      I swear I am not making this up. Nor could I have asked for anything more! My only regret is that I didn't have a camera, and that I didn't try to strike up a conversation.

      Now that is how you put a perfect bow on an autumn holiday!

      ChrisC

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    3. Not to cross swords - by all means, go forth and preach the gospel - but that Dark Money book is everything I mean by the unremitting monochromatic ideology of the media-academe. I haven't read it, but from that review (and others I've seen) that's my general impression.

      Mike Rowe did a recent interview with Charles Koch that's worth watching.

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    4. Thanks for those recommendations, Chris!

      "Reading both together makes for an amusing surreal experience, as both authors seem to make a similar case, and then can't recognize that either is saying the same thing....I don't know what that says about human nature." -- I bet that this is a daily occurrence in any number of Facebook feuds circa 2016. I'd bet SEVERAL dollars on that, actually; I feel certain I'd win.

      I can't bear to watch that "Zootopia" piece, but I instinctively know it's compelling. I liked that movie quite a bit, but even I found it be a bit on the engineered and manipulative side. Not necessarily in a bad way, mind you; I'm pro-Disney in most things, even if they do accidentally let the occasional child get eaten by a gator. Shit, it's goddam Florida!

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    5. Have to admit, I found a whole lot of problems with the film as well.

      For me, its a question of applying an false analogy that just doesn't quite fit, especially as regards the topic of race. In a nutshell, I don't think any harm was meant, however the filmmakers seemed to be working from a faulty racial determinism that I'm not sure I understand, I just know I don't like it.

      I think if the cards aren't played right, Disney could wind up with egg on its face. Albeit unintentionally.

      The best Disney bio I've seen is the one PBS American Masters did on Uncle Walt. It tires to be objective, and for the most part I guess it works.

      ChrisC

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    6. That American Masters on Walt is exceptional, I 100% agree.

      I've had occasion to watch "Zootopia" about a dozen times now. What a movie. Fascinating, beautiful, disturbing, surreal, you name it. I'm intrigued by deeper reads of it. I think it both re-enforces and challenges the sociopolitical norms of now. I hesitated even writing that sentence because it sounds so wanker-ish. But, I think it really does.

      My kids love the very beginning and the sloth scene. over and over and over again. So, I've seen those many more times than others. But I keep itching to engage with it on a deeper level.

      Alas, all this Dio isn't going to listen to itself...

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    7. "Zootopia" is SO overtly relevant that I can see how it would turn some people right off, once they picked up on what was happening. But to me, it functions in the same way that something like "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" functions; it's THAT obvious.

      Well, maybe that's overstating it a bit.

      I mostly enjoyed it just as a piece of entertainment, though. I take Chris's point about there being some questionable elements when applied to a real-world reading, but I don't think that's too big a problem for animation, personally.

      Disney is on quite a roll these days. Probably the best streak they've ever had, and they've had some doozies.

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