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I'm JM Fisher, Writer & Host Of The Weekly Cynic Podcast.

I'm Currently Available For All Projects Relating To Blogging, Articles & Editing.

Sunday, Scoffs And Smirks: Edition 9

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A Newsletter That’s Not A Newsletter…

A Scoffing, Smirking Review Of The Week

Down The Rabbit Hole Of Connections, Convolutions & Conspiracies

What’s The Word For “The Scent Of New Jersey Rain?”

Why it’s Petrichor, JM!

Look at you, huh? So big, so bold. Able to utilize that Journalism or Literature degree to Google the answer.

But, sorry, contestant. This is the Real World.

The answer is, Taxes.

New Jersey, a state that exists in perpetuity as the punchline for many a failed 1980s comedian, is desperate to levy taxes on its remaining middle class citizenry. Because, remember Young Socialists, when you want the Government to Tax The Rich! they always siphon monies from the middle class!

Ah, now that’s trickle down economics!

Anyway, New Jersey in its efforts to monetize rain water contamination—because, c’mon, when was the last time you heard The Government actually instituting effective policies to halt Corporate America’s destruction of Planet Earth? Green New Deal? You mean another taxpayer trough of money that Corporate America gets to feast from? Filling their bellies while the populace starves? SAVE THE CHILDREN! Oh, wait…sorry—is instituting a Rain Tax.

(That was some David Foster Wallace’ish sentence, eh? But, he’s dead, now.)

(JM, doesn’t that make you sad?)

(Uh, I’ve had time to get over it…)

From that CBS New York article:

“Save it for a rainy day. Some of your hard-earned dollars may be taken away as the weather turns ugly and rain drops fall on the Garden State. A new bill calls for the creation of local or regional storm water utilities, giving local counties and municipalities the power to collect a tax from properties with large paved surfaces such as parking lots (ed. note: italics by JM), CBS2’s Meg Baker reported.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is pretty proud of those italicized absurdities, uh?

Of course, when I saw this Rain Tax headline, I thought

“Ha! Another anarchist collecting rain water!”

Once again, those jack-booted Government thugs were out to persecute another survivalist, off-the-grid Sovereign Citizen!

Nope. Just another Minister Of Public—

JM! It’s all Conservatard baloney!

Either way, here’s the thing:

Water is Big Business.

I mean, California would rather all its citizens—except that grandiose socio-economic tier of Hollywood—have parched, old lady mouth than imperil its precious relationship with Nestle.

Scene:

A California Home Owner Is Standing On His Lawn Holding A Garden Hose That Is Gushing Water.

He Is Approached By The Jack Booted Thugs Of Big Bottled Water.

Leader Of The Jack Booted Thugs Of Big Bottled Water: Sir, Under California Statue HBAM1.-33xZ5.6.7, That Water Is Property Of Big Bottled Water!

California Home Owner: Huh?

Leader Of Jack Booted Thugs Of Big Bottled Water: He’s Got A Gun!

California Home Owner Is Shot To Death.

If you haven’t figured it out, Earthling: Everything Must Be Commodified And Controlled.

Welcome To Your Dystopian Corporatocracy Where Even Lap Dances Are Taxed!


Another Big Business: Higher Education…

I admit, as an Anarchist who despises the suffocating, inculcating Institutions of our Ruling Class, this accelerating implosion of Higher Education is…orgasmic.

Campus Reform, those young, conservative muckrakers—some of whom sport un-ironical bow ties, so you know its Tucker Carlson approved—

WAIT, JM!

Whoa… Easy. What?

You little Libertarian Anarchists—

I’m not Libertarian, you got that, contortionist New York Times reporter?

Whatever, you toady… Your Anarcho-Liberti-Whatever hero, Jeffrey Tucker wears a bow tie!

Jeffrey Tucker is pretty cool, but can we just halt the interruptions?

(Sticks Out Tongue)

Campus Reform, in their salivating, predatory pursuit of all things capital L liberal, actually had a pretty decent…scoop.

(Bari, do you need me to look that up?)

The Campus Reform Headline:

“EXCLUSIVE REPORT: UC-Berkeley spends $2.3 million annually on diversity employee salaries”

I’m not affronted by the word diversity or how some sprawling Institution allocates its money—all large, sprawling Institutions frivolously squander its customers monies, just to let you know—but, when such a bastion of Conservatism leaps from it’s auditorium chair like some triggered SJW snowflake instead of taking the opportunity to illustrate the underlying issue…whelp, your not very good at being Fiscally Conservative, are you?

Aren’t The Conservatards continually lecturing leftist journalists about clickbait headlines?

Actually, should anyone be surprised by a headline containing diversity and Berkeley?

Fuck no.

And! And! Should anyone be surprised by an institution of Higher Education adding more Administration?

Fuck no.

Why?

Because, Higher Education is Big Business. And, Big Business is a Corporation, with Hierarchies of Middle Management that simply exist to be ideologically controlled and to lead others into ideological practices of command and control.

You know, like Government…

Oh, back to that underlying issue.

Over the last 20 years, Big Government and Big Banks went into the student loan business. When Big Government subsidized affordable Higher Education through Pell Grants and what not, Colleges and University’s raised their rates. When Big Bankers gave out cheap loan rates, Colleges and Universities raised their rates, again.

Let’s not forget Big Text Book Publishing inflating their prices, too.

And, if you don’t believe this cynic, those Millennial pamphleteers at Vox, have a pretty good article.

The opening line:

“A recent paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York finds that for every extra dollar a college gets in Pell Grants, the school charges 40 cents more in tuition. For every extra dollar in subsidized student loans, tuition goes up 65 cents. The effects were much more pronounced at private colleges.”

Also, with all that money just being helicoptered in, the Business of student loans got, well, Bigger. Because, like I said earlier, when the Corporate mindset of Numbers!Numbers!Numbers takes hold, the best method to maximize profits is by instituting that insidious ideology of the Middle Manager Hierarchy.

In the case of Higher Education, it’s called, Administration.

From Occupy:

“Ralph Reiland wrote in 1996 in the National Review that “over the past two decades, the number of college and university faculty has increased by 30 per cent and the number of non-faculty jobs on campus has more than doubled.” And Benjamin Ginsberg, in his 2011 book The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters provides more recent numbers, noting that from 1985 to 2005 the number of "administrators rocketed by 85 percent and their attendant staff by a whopping 240 percent.”

Another Quote:

“…The National Center for Education Statistics reported that in the 2010-11 school year, colleges spent $449 billion – but out of that, less than 30 percent, or $129 billion, went to actual instruction. “For every $1 spent on instruction, $1.82 (ed. note: italics by the drunk writing this piece) is spent on non-instructional things such as 'academic support, student services, institutional support, public service' and a catch-all category called 'other,'” the center reported.”

If you don’t like the Leftist/Anarchist view of Occupy, how ‘bout the….uh…er…you know what? It’s from HuffPo, so what does one really have to say?

From That Huffington Post article:

“In all, from 1987 until 2011-12—the most recent academic year for which comparable figures are available—universities and colleges collectively added 517,636 administrators and professional employees, or an average of 87 every working day, according to the analysis of federal figures, by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting in collaboration with the nonprofit, nonpartisan social-science research group the American Institutes for Research.”

How about one more from that HuffPo article:

“While the rest of the economy was shrinking overhead, higher education was investing heavily in more overhead,” said Robert Martin, an economist at Centre College in Kentucky who studies university finance who said staffing per students is a valid way to judge efficiency improvements or declines.”

When every business on this planet has been running at minimal inventory and minimal personnel since, oh, the early 2000s, that first line of the quote says it all.

Hey, Millennials and GenZ’ers, that’s why your student loan debt balance is, or will be, six-figures if you don’t do two years of community college or vocational training…or, set-up a Patreon and be a Starving Artist.

But, you want the Government to fix The Student Loan Crisis?

Sure.

Oh, Diversity&Inclusion?

Big Business, too.



I Can’t Help Myself This Week: Higher Ed And Yes…E-Sports

Whew.

Wow.

It’s amazing to watch the incremental social engineering of video games, isn’t it?

From a curious, niche mode of diversion, to an addictive, excuse me…lifestyle defined as Gamer, to the end point of Professionalism.

One of the more corrupt systems within Higher Education, The NCAA, is plotting how it can commodify Esports and Gamers.

Oh, sorry, I meant, Esports Student Athletes.

From Inside Higher Ed:

“Esports (not just within colleges) are expected to be valued at $1.4 billion by next year. At least two colleges are planning degrees in esports. The National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), the group that has seemingly emerged as the premiere governing body for “varsity”-level esports, has swelled to 128 members. It began in 2016 with six colleges and universities. The current slew of member colleges gave out just under $15 million in scholarships this academic year for students to strap on a headset, grab a mouse and keyboard, and enter the digital fray.”

There is a lot going on there, huh?

Expect to be valued at $1.4 Billion… By whom? Silicon Valley?

Planning Degrees… GenZ’ers going into debt to be Professional Gamers.

Now, will there be a Literary/Critical/Social Theory deconstruction To Esports?

Feminist Theory 301: The Intersection Of Toxic Masculinity And Madden?

Another quote from that article signifying The End Times:

“Granting scholarships to play video games, once perhaps just a Red Bull-fueled fantasy, attracts students -- especially men, who are in the minority in many undergraduate student bodies. And so officials have invested in pricey “arenas” for esports, spaces decked out with gigantic flat screens, slick computers and the best gaming accessories. One small private institution, New England College, with an enrollment of around 1,800 undergraduate students, and a prospective esports team of between 20 and 40 students, poured about $60,000 into its arena.”

Of course, New England College.

Just like The Ruling Elite Of Boston erecting their Ivy Institutions to create a system of inner-breeding, inner-indoctrination and as selective recruitment for Outsiders—gotta expand the chromosomes sometimes, kids….Look at The Amish, for example…yikes—New England continues its proud history of social engineering by being the first to mold a generation of Esports student athletes.

Oh, and if any of those Diversity & Inclusion Bureaucrats at UC Berkeley want to expand their CVs, well, Esports looks like a fine place as the article touches on the implications of Title IX, interviewing “Ellen Staurowsky, a professor of sports management at Drexel University and a Title IX expert.”

Academic Experts are the best!

But, here is Ellen Staurowsky’s expert opinion on Title X1 and Esports:

“The law could also be triggered by some of the games’ content, Staurowsky theorized. As Emmert mentioned in his speech, video games carry a reputation of being violent or misogynistic in material (women in scantily clad armor, a trait not shared by men’s garb) -- but so can the players. Either the gaming content or players' behavior could create a hostile educational environment, Staurowsky said.”

I guess that whole Feminist/Literary/Social/Critical Theory idea of mine is already being integrated, uh?

Finally, from Michael Brooks, the executive director of The National Association of Collegiate Esports:

“…Brooks acknowledged the need to appeal and recruit women and students of color.”

Ah, I bet a lot of Diversity&Inclusion Admin are gonna be hired when that $1.4 billion dollar economic boom of Esports trickles into Higher Ed!


Bezos & National Enquirer Conspiracies….

Ah…those fond childhood memories of being confined to the grocery store checkout line, that narrow alley formed by the hulking mechanisms of the cash register’s conveyor belt and the candy, magazine rack.

It was the magazine rack that always intrigued me, stocked with those black and white tabloids of sensationalistic headlines such as WOMAN PREGNANT WITH ALIENS and JFK ALIVE, LIVING WITH ELVIS.

My father would snicker, paging through their extraordinary stories as my mother shook her head.

Within that magazine rack, those stark black and white tabloids were juxtaposed with the muted, 1980s color printing of The National Enquirer with their covers flaunting the doomed lives of Hollywood stars such as Zsa Zsa Gabor and the humiliating secrets of an ailing (or dead) Ruck Hudson.

Today, I’m even surprised The National Enquirer exists as a viable publication.

(Evidently just for internet-less old ladies to randomly toss on the conveyor belt at the checkout line.)

Because of JEFF BEZOS SHAME PICS, I’m sure The National Enquirer has seen a brisk news-stand sales boost. Because, Enquiring Minds Want To Know.

(You Really Need To Fucking Click That Link…)

(And, do old time, Big City news-stands still exist?)

Either way, Bezos Vs. The Enquirer sparked my conspiracy theorist memories…

Wasn’t The Enquirer A CIA Front?

And, Doesn’t Jeff Bezos Have A Contract With The CIA?

So, why the infighting, right?

Hmmm…

Yup, Amazon Web Services signed a $600 Million contract with The CIA in 2014 to develop their cloud infrastructure.

(Glenn Greenwald has a great, recent article on all things Bezos/Cloud/And Privacy…)

Now, The National Enquirer As CIA gets murkier…

But, let’s go down the rabbit hole.

Generoso Pope Jr. was the son of Generoso Pope, who was an Italian-American newspaper publishing magnate.

GP Jr. graduated from Massachusetts Institute Of Technology, or MIT, in 1946.

(I will allow you to go down that rabbit hole of MIT and it’s various relationships with The United States Government…)

But, within that GP Jr. Wikipedia entry, one of the line’s state:

“…He worked for the CIA's psychological warfare unit in 1950 (Citation Needed)."

Graduated from MIT in 1946, worked for The CIA in 1950 and then, in 1952, bought The National Enquirer.

(Supposedly, as that Wikipedia entry states, with a $75,000 loan from the infamous New York City Mobster, Frank Costello, who was said to be acquainted with GP Sr… Do you know the conspiracy theories linking The CIA and La Cosa Nostra? Have fun!)

JM! So what! Big deal! What else besides the dubious Wikipedia?

In 2008, Jack Vitek, journalism professor at Edgewood college published a book, “The Godfather Of Tabloid: Generoso Pope Jr. And The National Enquirer.

An excerpt from that book, provided by JSTOR, an academic research site:

”FOUR FRIENDS IN LOW PLACES

(pp. 37-50)

In 1951, Pope went to Washington and landed a job as a CIA officer in psych ops, or psychological warfare, in those days when the cold war was at arctic temperatures and a shooting war was going on in Korea. The Pope family’s Mafia connections likely had quite a lot to do with young Gene’s job with the CIA. The connection between the Mafia and Washington went beyond elective politics and the Italian American vote. During World War II the Office of Naval Intelligence had strong connections with the Mafia that did not surface until after the war. Before the...”

Huh.

Again, I will allow you to make the final decision on this whole Bezos/CIA/National Enquirer Debacle…


Finally, A Follow-Up…

From Sunday, Scoffs & Smirks: Edition 7: The Mystery Of Maduro’s Gold

The Battle Continues for Venezuela’s Gold Reserves…

From Zerohedge, citing reporting from Reuters:

“Fast forward three years when Venezuela's gold swap with Citi is about to mature, and according to lawmaker Angel Alvarado, advisor to Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed president, Juan Guaido, Citi would be entitled to keep the gold if cash-strapped Venezuela does not pay the loan when it expires in March. Considering the country's financial dire straits, the last thing Venezuela can afford is to pay Citi to reclaim ownership of the collateral.

As a result, on Friday, Guaido's advisors asked Citibank not to invoke the guarantee and not to claim the gold put up as collateral for the 2015 loan made to the government of President Nicolas Maduro if his administration does not make payments on time, Reuters reported, citing a Venezuela lawmaker.  Opposition leaders have claimed that Maduro usurped power last month when he was sworn in to a second term after a disputed election widely described as a sham.

“Citibank has been asked to stand by and not invoke the guarantee until the end of the usurpation,” Alvarado said in an interview. “We don’t want to lose the gold.”

Confirming what we reported back in 2016, a finance industry source told Reuters that the gold is worth $1.1 billion.

While it is unclear whether Citi will comply with the requests, there is now a non-trivial possibility that the US bank may find itself liquidating over $1 billion in Venezuela bullion in the open market, an operation which could potentially send the price of the precious metal sharply lower.”

My bet’s on Citibank, kids…


As Always, Thank You For Reading.

If You Find Value In My Work, Please, Visit My Support Page.

And, Stay Cynical, My Friends.


Sunday, Scoffs And Smirks: Edition 10

Sunday, Scoffs And Smirks: Edition 8