Let’s Backtrack: The Jonestown Massacre, 40 years later

Yet another post from while I was away:

On November 18, 1978, charismatic christian cult leader Jim Jones murdered 918 people, either by forcing them to drinking koolaid laced with cyanide (thus the origin of the idiom “drinking the koolaid”), injecting them with poison or shooting the unwilling. Approximately 300 children (age 1-17) were among the dead. It was the final act of control of a paranoid, self-aggrandizing narcissist and sociopath.  It was the single largest death of americans at one time until something happened in New York 23 years later.

It didn’t happen all at once. Like all atrocities, it built gradually – the claim of “religious oppression” in the US (read: authorities trying to hold the cult accountable for physical and sexual abuses, Jones’s fanatical christian/communist ideology under investigation). The mass departure of people for Guyana in South America and a promise of a “utopia”. The foundation of “Jonestown”, a parodic portmanteau of Jones and Georgetown, Guyana’s capital.

Guyana turned out to be no paradise, instead little more than a prison camp in a jungle. Propaganda was blasted day and night through speakers. Forced participation in religious activities happened multiple times per day. Attempts to leave the camp were met with violence, only a select few allowed to come and go. The isolation of people from their former friends and families. Cutting off members from outside contact (no mail, no phone, no reporters, no embassy staff, no newspapers).

The final events began on November 14th with US congressman Leo Ryan visiting the camp. As he tried to leave three days later, Jones’s militiamen murdered Ryan and others on the runway. The camp closed for the final act, a pointless and selfish mass suicide by a control freak and narcissist.  Charles Krause worked for the Washington Post and travelled with Ryan to Jonestown. He was shot but managed to survive the assassination of the congressman and continued to report on the mass suicide as events unfolded.

They were driven into a frenzy with Jones’s final speech, forcing children to drink poison and watch them die, then the adults. Jones made sure they were dead before killing himself, and his militia shooting the bodies to ensure they were dead before committing suicide themselves. A few people (less than ten) managed to survive, those who managed to hide, to feign drinking and escape unnoticed. Two were among the trusted allowed to leave the camp, who had been on their way to the Soviet embassy in Georgetown.  Laura Johnston Kohl was one of the few survivors.

This is a recording of Jim Jones’s last speech. True believers may have willingly gone along with it, but most were unwilling and held at gunpoint, beaten, threatened, imprisoned against their will. This was no “voluntary act,” it was religious fanaticism at its most pernicious.


I was eleven years old, watching this on TV as it unfolded over several months. I was left thinking, “Is this what the world and people are really like?” In less than the span of eight months, I witnessed Jonestown, the Love Canal disaster and Three Mile Island (topics for another time) plus two high profile serial killers in the news over the next two years, one in Canada and one in the US (Clifford Robert Olson, Wayne Williams). What else would a kid think?

In 2017, German heavy metal band Accept recorded the song, “Koolaid”.  It’s much better than Manowar’s 1984 song, “Guyana: Cult Of The Damned”.

Final note: Before posting this, I looked to see if anyone had covered the fortieth anniversary.  I was surprised that they hadn’t.

I Wish: What if lacrosse had become the biggest sport?

On a facebook page today, I said to someone that I wish lacrosse had become the dominant sport in the past, not “football”.  How much different would the sporting landscape be?  Take away the elitism that lacrosse is viewed with now, and it would be a better game for many reasons.

Women and men can both play.  It’s not a gender specific sport.  At US colleges and universities and elsewhere, both women and men play the game, though I do object to the fact that women usually only wear eye protection while men wear helmets, gloves and shoulder pads.  They should wear the same equipment and play by the same rules, just like hockey players.

Lacrosse can be played anywhere.  If you have a flat surface, sticks and goals, you can play lacrosse, whether in a gymnasium, a grass field, or even an asphalt basketball court.  Unlike baseball or football which require large playing surfaces that may not be available, lacrosse requires no more room than does basketball. It can be played on a surface as small as 50′ by 100′ or as large as 50m x 100m.  For US inner city neighborhoods, it would be as attractive as basketball and far less expensive and weather-restricted as hockey.

The basics are affordable.  Goals, plastic sticks and a ball are no more expensive than plastic floor hockey equipment.  Schools with limited budgets could afford them, which would make the game available to US public schools with poor funding.  Large investment would only be needed for players who show elite talent.

It’s primarily a waist-up game.  Other than dirty play, most contact is upper body only.  Injuries to the lower body would be far fewer and mostly due to awkward accidents, not deliberate intent.

Violent upper body contact can be limited.  Unlike football with constant head contact, concussions and subconcussive hits, lacrosse has no more head injuries than hockey.  And if contact is limited to the shoulders and arms and head hits banned (e.g. pushing and shoulder checks, not clubbing with a stick), head injuries and cases of CTE would be far fewer.

Size is less of a factor in player success.  Unlike basketball and football which demand larger and taller players, small players can survive and thrive in lacrosse (and sometimes in hockey).  Speed, vision and stickhandling skills are far more important.

It could be an international game.  It could be as much an international game as football/soccer, not just dominated by Canada and the US sport and a minor sport elsewhere.  The skills involved are similar to other popular sports (e.g. field hockey, rugby, team handball, basketball, football/soccer, etc.) and requires less room than football/soccer. Tae Kwon Do became a worldwide and olympic sport within fifty years.  Why couldn’t lacrosse?


Imagine if a professional lacrosse league had existed in in 1957 and Jim Brown had chosen that road instead of the NFL.  And imagine the economic impact if cities had recognized that arenas are better investments than stadiums.  Where would pro sports be today?

Showing Off: A photo of myself with Chi Chia-wei

Below is a picture of myself with Chi Chia-wei, the Taiwanese citizen most responsible for marriage equality and the push for LGBTQIA rights.  This photo was taken at the Taichung Pride Parade, November 2018.

“This is the right that we deserved from a long time ago, as a beacon in Asia, I hope Taiwan’s democracy and human rights could have a ripple effect on other countries in Asia.”

– Chi Chia-wei, May 2019, after marriage equality was guaranteed

In 1986, while the fascist government was still in control, Chi came out as gay on national TV, unheard of and shocking at the time.  Chi was falsely convicted of a crime to silence him.  He spent only 162 days in prison, released by a judge who admitted the conviction was wrong.  (Quartz article, February 2017)

“I wake up every day and I tell myself, ‘Today I’m not going to have success, but I’ll have it tomorrow,’ so that every day I have hope.”

– Chi Chia-wei

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History Lessened: Why Hong Kong protesters called PRC the White Terror

Technically, Hong Kong’s heroines and heroes are wrong historically because the White Terror and 228 Incident happened in Taiwan.  But in regarding the accuracy of comparing oppression and brutality and what they’re fighting for, it’s spot on.  The Formosa Indicent of December 10, 1979 is even more apt.

Depending on who’s counting, the White Terror began in 1947 or 1949.  Most historians point to the 228 Incident as the moment when Taiwan turned into a fascist police state under dictator/president Chiang Kai-shek (CKS) and the Kuomintang party (KMT).  The KMT considered themselves to be the legitimate government of both Taiwan and mainland China, and so did most of the world.  CKS and his forces were still fighting the civil war in China through World War II, ceasing in 1949 with the full retreat of the KMT.  In fighting full-fledged brutal communism, CKS and the KMT resorted to full-fledged brutal fascism.

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Mistrust Deserved: When corporations say ‘people above profits’

A “business roundtable” has spewing words about “shareholder value is not the first priority”. Call my cynical (I’m a Diogenes fan, anyway) but I don’t trust their motives.

An anti-capitalist revolution is coming, and the only reason the targets of the revolution want to be its leaders is to direct it and decide who gets run over – so it won’t be themselves. The catholic cult has done the same, switching sides to avoid the wrath of revolutionaries, not because they support freedom.

Corporate leaders scrap shareholder-first ideology

A statement released on Monday, titled Business Roundtable Redefines the Purpose of a Corporation to Promote “An Economy That Serves All Americans”, was signed by the heads of more than 180 US companies. These included the chief executives of Amazon, American Airlines, and America’s biggest bank, JPMorgan Chase.

The statement marks the first time the nearly 50-year-old group has said shareholder value is not the first priority. Shareholder primacy was an ethos championed by Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman and has been the foundation of corporate purpose.

The new mission statement comes at a time when companies are increasingly taking stances on issues outside of the corporate sphere due to pressure from activists amplified by social media and demands from their own employees.

[…]

But some critics were sceptical, with Larry Summers, who served as US Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton, saying there was no legal requirement on firms to change their approach.

He told the Financial Times: “I worry the Roundtable’s rhetorical embrace of stakeholders is in part a strategy for holding off necessary tax and regulatory reform.”

The Sordid Act: FBI files allege Louis Mountbatten was a pedophile

On August 27, 1979, Louis Mountbatten was on his boat “Shadow V” along with five family members and an employee.  The Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) detonated a bomb on the boat, killing Mountbatten and three others, injuring the rest.  Eighteen UK soldiers were killed in another attack the same day.

The IRA considered Mountbatten a valid military target as part of the IRA’s war for independence and reunification.  Within days of the bombing, in retaliation, the UK’s SAS murdered an IRA suspect unrelated to the bombing.

On August 20, 2019, seven days before the 40th anniversary of his death, files became public showing that the FBI knew Mountbatten was an alleged pedophile.  Mountbatten was friends with Jimmy Savile in 1966, when he made Savile an honorary “admiral” in the British navy.  Rumours abounded since then that Mountbatten was involved in Savile’s crimes against children, but nothing more concrete emerged until now.

Mountbatten was second cousin to Elizabeth and introduced her to his nephew, Philip.  Hence, Elizabeth and Philip are third cousins. Mountbatten is also great uncle to prince Andrew, friend of Jeffrey Epstein and alleged participant in the latter’s criminal activities.

More below the fold.

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Reparations Still Unpaid: August 20, 1619

August 20th marks the four hundredth anniversary of an appalling event: the first ship containing kidnapped people from Africa landed in Virginia on August 20, 1619.  It marked the beginning of the slave trade in the British Colonies and USA.

Project 1619 tells the history of events and the beginnings of the slave trade.  Anthony Hazard (Professor of History at Santa Clara University) produced this short TED-Ed video on the slave trade and its origins.  A more detailed history of the slave trade written by Hazard can be found here.

Despite attempts to say otherwise, christianity was used as rationalization for imprisonment, enslavement and other crimes of the slave trade.

Michelle Obama was telling the truth when she said, “I live in a house built by slaves.”  They did build that.

“That is the story of this country. The story that has brought me to the stage tonight. The story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, who kept on striving, and hoping, and doing what needed to be done. So that today,I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters — two beautiful intelligent black young women — play with the dog on the White House lawn.”

– Michelle Obama, July 25, 2016

Below the fold are two more items from The Root.

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Two Faced: China whines about ‘defending freedom of its citizens’

The organ stealing, mass murdering illegitimate regime (OSMMIL) in Beijing is whining that their “citizens have been silenced by twitter and facebook”.

OSMMIL wants freedom of assembly language programmed bots, but opposes freedom of assemby in Hong Kong.

If you can get yourself banned from an extremist site like twitter, you know you’ve screwed up.  From the UPI link:

Facebook, Twitter remove Chinese accounts attacking Hong Kong protesters

Social media accounts originating in China and controlled by Chinese officials have been conducting a coordinated campaign to discredit and undermine pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong as criminals, terrorists and thugs, the companies said, adding that many of the accounts possed as news organizations to spread their disinformation.  

[…]  

Of the content shared, one post on Facebook compared protesters to Islamic State fighters while another called them “cockroach soldiers.”

[…]

“Overall, these accounts were deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, Including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground,” Twitter said in a statement. “Based on our intensive investigations, we have reliable evidence to support that it is a coordinated state-backed operation.”

Too bad twitter doesn’t do the same about white-and-right twitter accounts at home.

 

Two Faced: China’s wants its own form of homogeneity

When the organ stealing, mass murdering dictatorship in Beijing talks about a “one china” policy, they aren’t talking about a land mass in Asia and certain islands around it.  They’re talking about the subjugation of all other nations, interfering with democracy and fair elections.  Homogeneity? Homo-genocide is more like it.

Within China, the regime is slowly and brutally committing genocide in East Turkestan to create more space for ethnic Chinese people.

Outside China,  they demand obedience from other countries and use violence when they don’t get their way.

Hong Kong protests: ‘I’m in Australia but I feel censored by Chinese students’

At the University of Queensland, the tensions spilled over into violent clashes last week, when a group staging a support rally for the Hong Kong demonstrators were confronted by pro-Beijing protesters.  […]  Videos posted online showed pro-China supporters ripping posters from the hands of opponents, prompting shoving and physical confrontations.

The regime takes the attitude that all ethnic Chinese people are “pandas” and belong to them.  And many are willing to work under false flags – even if they’re not ethnic Chinese.  The Taiwanese rightwing Kuomintang party is going through a wave of “populism”, barely choosing pro-china mouthpiece Han Kuo-yu as their candidate over Terry Gou (the now former-chairman and CEO of Foxconn).

A year ago, Democratic Progressive Party leader and Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen looked like a lame duck, finishing out her term.  Instead, she is looking like the only rational choice and is very likely to be re-elected – despite the mainland regime’s interference in Taiwanese media and elections.

Many Taiwanese – and the foreigners here who support an independent Taiwan – share the same message for them: If you want to live under the Chinese regime’s rule, move there.

 

Sneak Preview: Coming soon, to a theatre of war near me?

I would be lying if I said I’m not concerned about the spectre of invasion by the organ stealing, mass murdering dictatorship in Beijing.  But I also believe Beijing knows there’s only so much they can get away with, and the world is tiring of their antagonism and antics, bullying businesses, countries and even hollywood into compliance.  Most are too concerned about making money to show any spine and stand up to them.  (It was hilarious yesterday when it came out that Huawei – the regime’s official corporation – listed Taiwan as a country.)

The regime also knows that it can’t silence news the same way it did in 1989.  Images and video of the regime’s violence will continue to spread. The only way to silence the truth will be shutting off all communication going in and out – no phones, no internet period.  And even if they can, the truth will come out eventually – they murdered 10,000 people in 1989…unless other countries spinelessly do their bidding, as many are.

Click “read more” to see artwork that’s making the rounds in Taiwan this weekend.

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Music Rules: Nick Lowe turned 70 years old in March

Aged Reasoner is another Nick Lowe fan.  But since he didn’t mention this, I will:

Nick Lowe was born on March 26, 1949, turning 70 years old this year. His career as a recording artist spans five decades and many musical genres, with many hit songs and yet most couldn’t name him. The New York Times said in 2011, “The 40-year career of the English singer-songwriter Nick Lowe constitutes a paradox: the songs he has written are better known than he is.” Look below the fold for a selection of songs and stories about him.

Lowe first recorded with Brinley Schwarz in the 1970s before linking up with guitarists Dave Edmunds and Billy Bremner and drummer Terry Williams. After Rockpile ended, Lowe performed solo until forming Little Village (one of the “supergroups” of the late 1980s and early 1990s) with David Lindley, Ry Cooder and Jim Keltner. What a list of talent.

Lowe earned the nickname “Basher” for his work as a record producer, his oft repeated quote, “Bash it out now, let’s tart it up later.” Lowe produced Elvis Costello’s first five albums, as well as The Damned’s debut album (“Damned Damned Damned”), The Pretenders’s first single “Stop Your Sobbing”, Graham Parker’s “Howlin’ Wind”, and many others.

And then there’s Lowe’s songwriting to consider, writing classics such as “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding”, one of Elvis Costello’s biggest hits, and “The Beast In Me” for his father in law, Johnny Cash on his 1994 “American Recordings” album. Lowe’s own recordings and success is numerous, if largely without his name (e.g. “So It Goes”, Stiff Records’s first ever single, “Cruel To Be Kind”, “Teacher Teacher”, “I Knew The Bride When She Used to Rock And Roll”, and many others).

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Left Handed: Bad science and bad attitudes are the problem, not the left hand

As I state in the first item I posted today, the bias against and forced hand switching of left handed children is the original “reparative therapy”, a form of emotional, physical and mental abuse.  If you’re against “reparative therapy” being imposed upon LGBTQIA people, why aren’t you against it being imposed upon left handed children? (And if you aren’t against “reparative therapy”, what’s wrong with you?)

Left handedness is natural and almost certainly genetic.  Even if it is not genetic and a matter of choice, how is it harmful to a child?  Violence and abuse are the harm.  Let kids be.

Below the fold are three sections.  The first is on good science and positive news items, enlightened minds and unbiased articles.  The second is on bad science, with some commentary from me.  The this are reports of abuses that left handed children are subjected to.

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Left Handed: August 13th is International Left Handers Day

Yes, it’s that time of year again, time to speak up for the one large minority that still has no voice.  While it is true that Left Handed People are unlikely to be murdered for their handedness (except in places where they still believe in and kill “witches”), it’s still a form of discrimination that society tolerates.

Yes, discrimination.  North America, Western Europe, and Australia/New Zealand may not openly discriminate or look down on being left handed, but the rest of the world still does.  It’s considered “rude”, “dirty”, “disrespectful” and other nonsense, and the abuse of forced hand switching still considered “acceptable”.

Yes, abused.  The bias against and forced hand switching of left handed children is the original “reparative therapy”, a form of emotional, physical and mental abuse.  If you’re against “reparative therapy” being imposed upon LGBTQIA people, why aren’t you against it being imposed upon left handed children?  (And if you aren’t against “reparative therapy”, what’s wrong with you?)

#leftiesrule  #internationallefthandersday

Below the fold are several sections on left handedness: resources, campaigns, information, groups, and others.  A second post will contain news and scientific articles with commentary.

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Let’s Backtrack: Tandy’s Model 100 portable computer came out in 1983

In 1983, Tandy produced the first widely used laptop computer, the Model 100.  The Epson HX-20 preceded it by two years, and luggable computers by a year, but the Model 100 was first lightweight portable (3.5 pounds) that was suitable for more than just data collection.  It was later followed by the superior Model 102 and finally the less liked Model 200. The series sold roughly six million units, one of the biggest selling computers, ever.

There is more below the fold.

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