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Culture & Religion

Reality games but not reality shows

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Interview with Iranian weekly Panjereh*

These days we hear a lot of "Pokemon Go". What do you think about the effect of reality games within US and around the globe? What will be the future of these games which attract ten of millions? Do they reinforce or neglect which aspects of human life?


Video games have become the staple of children with the advent of the computer age. The Japanese are the most innovative. Along with Nintendo, the most popular is Pokémon (Pocket Monsters), first issued in 1996, where humans, known as Pokémon Trainers, catch and train their 'pocket monsters' to battle each other for sport.

The latest games, called virtual reality games, allow the player to surrender his/ her mind to a computer world of sight and sound, a magic black box on the head, where the mind can feel all kinds of physical effects -- flying, teleporting at will to other planets in a heightened, superhuman reality, like an angel or a god.
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Renouncing Jewishness: Shlomo Sand and Gilad Atzmon

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For years now, I've known there was something wrong when my well-meaning anti-Zionist Jewish friends found it necessary to join Jewish anti-Zionist groups opposing Israel. In the US, Jewish Voice for Peace, in Canada, Not in Our Name; in Britain, Jews Against Zionism -- every country has its group, usually more than one. "I am a Jewish witness against Israel," I would be told. Sounds good, even brave. Sand's latest deconstruction of Jewishness and Israel, How I Stopped Being a Jew (2014), makes it clear why my suspicions were well founded.

Barely 100 pages, it is a page-turner, a precis of his earlier more scholarly works, arguing that the romantic, heroic age of Jewish nationalism, as embodied in the creation of a Jewish state, is coming to an end. Israel will not disappear, but it is an anachronism, an embarrassment in the postmodern age. A reminder of the horrors of Nazism, but not as the Zionist crafters of the "holocaust industry", or "holocaust religion", would have it. The Zionist project is exposed by Norman Finkelstein, Noam Chomsky, Gilad Atzmon, Israel Shamir and many more Jewish critics as reenacting the same policies of yesteryear. A flawed answer that is doomed, "an insidious form of racism". 

For the Israeli Sand, the Jewish "national" identity is a fraud (an Israeli identity is fine); the only viable Jewish identity is a religious one, and as a nonbeliever, he logically concludes,  "Cogito, ergo non sum."
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Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot: Afghanistan is FUBAR

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Afghanistan keeps dropping out of the headlines. Despite its endless bleeding, its “Enduring Freedom” torment, caused by America's anti-communist obsession, and perpetrated by its imperialist instinct for world control at all costs, it's just not interesting for the thrill-seeking msm, and is embarrassing to its lame-duck Nobel laureate president.


It doesn’t get much help from Hollywood, either. No Bob Hopes, who was once the bedrock of WWII-era United Service Organizations (USO), exhorting idealistic troops to fight a very real fascism, a genuine threat. He refashioned his skits to fit Vietnam, to exhort depressed, doped, reluctant troops to fight a nebulous communism that it turns out wasn't a threat at all.


Steve Colbert went to Iraq in 2008, though he was no fan of Bush II or the war, more out of pity for the thousands of young Americans marooned there. He had Obama order Commanding General Odierno to shave him bald, and joked about how the troops must love Iraq as they kept coming back, earning enough air miles for a free trip to Afghanistan.

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Killer Drugs: Sleep through your Waking Life

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A review of Nino Ricci Sleep (2015) and Richard Linklater Waking Life (2001)

Ricci's latest novel, Sleep, inspired by his own sleep disorder, is really more a fun text book on the latest brain research and the blind use of powerful drugs to alter--and possibly restructure (who knows?)--the brain. It's like a 'don't smoke' ad that's actually informative and hilarious, with a classic 'death of a salesman' plot moving it along.

The complexity of the brain and the perilousness of the chemical warfare we casually inflict on it is far greater than, say, sending a man around the moon or deploying star wars 'defense' systems. Imagine your brain: a ball the size of a large fist, crammed with billions of neurons, brain cells, a tiny Mission Control module, with dozens of centres, some highly specialized, some working in tandem with others, a fantastic electrical grid.

The more scientists reveal about the workings of the brain, the more questions arise. Enter profit-hungry pharmaceutical companies, developing ever new drugs, testing them as quickly as the lax laws allow, where concern for long term effects (there could be many, far reaching, varying among various brains) is cavalierly ignored.

Killer candy floss

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Thank Reagan for Orlando

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The Orlando shooting on June 12 has nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with US policies, both domestic and foreign.

By domestic, I'm referring to "soft power"* cultural destablization, intended for export around the world to keep the natives distracted and happy. Think Disney on steriods. By foreign, I'm referring to "hard power" US imperialist policies, neoliberalism (in former days, anti-communism).

Omar Mateen was part of the jetsam washed up on US shores as a result of the US-sponsored 'jihad' in Afghanistan in the 1980s. He was born in New York and grew up as a product of the latest warp in American culture. His anger is homegrown, American through and through, shared by millions of Christian (less so Jewish) Americans. It cannot be airbrushed out of the glossy infomercial of American freedom we are fed in the mass media.

Which conspiracy?


9/11 truthers shout COINTPRO. Maybe Omar Mateen was set up to do his deed by some nefarous deep state FBI/CIA monsters. That's possible. But it appears the guy was 'gay',  an angry lumpen (prison guard), driven to carry out his monstrous crime based on the American worship of guns and violence, and fueled by his own simmering disgust with dissolute Amercan culture, which conflicted with his traditional upbringing.
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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here http://www.claritypress.com/WalbergIV.html