Autographs & the Memorabilia Market

“Can I have your autograph?” That’s a deceptively simple question. Firstly, what is an autograph? It’s a person’s signature on something. Most people sign their names everyday in many different ways, without thinking much about it. As a practicing dentist, I’ve written my signature more times than I care to remember on insurance forms, lab instructions, prescriptions, doctor’s notes, etc. I’ve never had a patient or staff member insist on keeping that piece of paper for the value of my signature.

Then again, I’m not famous, so no one seeks my written signature for its inherent value. If I ever become famous, I will definitely join those who refuse to sign autographs. Oscar Wilde (below) once wrote, “The artist shouldn’t try to become more public, the public needs to become more artistic.” That is correct, so consider what that means and how it applies to autographs.

Autographs and other sports memorabilia collecting can be linked in origin to the baseball card industry, which revved up in the 1980’s and took off in the 1990’s. Before then, baseball cards (like autographs) were a mostly a childhood delight. Kids collect and trade stuff naturally, with sports heroes & other celebrities being among their favorites. Baseball cards have been around as long as baseball itself.

In 1952, Topps decided to sell baseball cards in packs, which led to a massive growth in their popularity. By the 1980’s, a number of new companies began producing baseball cards including Fleer, Donruss and Upper Deck and the market expanded considerably. Since 2000, there has been massive increase in speculation in this industry, attributable to an influx of new collectors with high disposable income. Much of this is comparable to what’s going on in the art world, with forgeries and dirty dealing being the norm.

Today, most signature seekers are actually professional autograph traders, who make their living by selling them, rather than keeping them as personal souvenirs. Celebrities aren’t stupid, and many have found their own ways to deal with this problem:

Basketball star Bill Russell (above), and actors Paul Newman & Greta Garbo all declined autograph requests in their days.

Actor Will Ferrell (above) mocks and taunts fans when they request his autograph. Makes you think twice before asking.

Talk show host Rosie O’Donnell (above) has refused to sign autographs for years, calling adult autograph seekers “sad.”  She’s correct.

Constantly overrun with requests, actor/comedian Steve Martin (above) years ago had business cards with his autograph pre-printed, or cards that read, “This certifies that you have had a personal encounter with me and that you found me warm, polite, intelligent and funny.”  Very creative.

Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney (above) announced in 2010 that he would no longer sign autographs while out, and said that “most people are very understanding because they understand privacy.”  Most do.

Here’s his former band mate, Ringo Starr two years earlier:

Professional golfer Jordan Spieth has recently commented on signing autographs. “We like to sign stuff for charity or for kids — and if you ask anybody universally it’s the same way, it’s just, they (professional autograph hustlers) frustrate us.”

Danica Patrick was recently videoed at Pocono after practice, trying to explain herself to a few merciless autograph hounds, who have no interest in anything except getting the goods for themselves:

Bottom Line: No one (not even a handicapped kid) should ever expect an autograph from anyone. An autograph is a gift that a celebrity chooses to donate. Do you go up to other people (you don’t know personally) and ask them for a gift, and actually expect to receive it?  Do you interrupt people while they are working, expect them to do you a favor, and berate them if they don’t comply?  That’s completely selfish.  Athletes are competitors, which means they are wound tightly and they don’t take this kind of crap. When celebrities are provoked by seekers, you will get any of these above reactions, which are all justifiable.

Memorabilia is about making money, not the integrity of their product. And just what is their product, anyways? A signature. A card. A ball or jersey. It produces nothing in value, and is the very definition of a speculative bubble. Dealers, auction houses and industry “experts” talk openly about finding novice buyers, which are required to perpetuate this sham industry. As long as people invest into this, it will continue.

Third-party authentication (TPA) services grade cards and other memorabilia, for a fee. Like any other business, the idea is to make money, and they do that by pleasing their customers. This means authenticating known forgeries from ‘good’ customers. Autographs are commonly sold with certificates of authenticity (COA’s) and letters of authenticity (LOA’s), while trading cards use a grading system. COA’s, LOA’s, and grades are meant to assure the buyer that the signature or item is genuine.

The problem is the entire sports memorabilia and trading card industry is run by a few people with bad reputations and/or criminal records. Third-Party Authentication giants PSA/DNA and JSA have cornered the market as the official “experts” endorsed by the major sports and collectibles auction houses, and even the online auction giant eBay.

PSA/DNA’s lead authenticator, Steve Grad, has a spot on the History Channel’s hit show Pawn Stars as their ‘on-air expert’ for autographed materials. The TPA’s are advertised as the gold standard of an autograph industry fraught with fraud, deception and forgery. The FBI has claimed that over 50% of the signed collectibles in the marketplace are counterfeits [1].

Often the services that do the authentication are also the ones that own the property and are selling it, creating an obvious conflict-of-interest. Shills are routinely used in the auctions to make the prices go up. There is an entirely unregulated industry, full of hustlers & con men.

Industry pioneer Bill Mastro (above) formulated the TPA grading system to help protect himself and his fellow auctioneers. TPA’s have also shielded themselves from any liability by stating that their LOA’s are nothing more than an opinion and guarantee absolutely nothing. Mastro has acknowledged that he trimmed the world’s most valuable baseball card, the T206 Honus Wagner (below) once owned by NHL superstar Wayne Gretzky, greatly inflating its value.

Authors Michael O’Keefe and Teri Thompson present a strong case that the card was actually cut from a sheet of cards, trimmed and altered. It seems that too many people have too much to lose, if this was actually proven, so the facts are conveniently ignored. No owner will allow “The Card” to be removed from its protective case to be re-authenticated, as that would risk losing all it’s value. On October 1, 2016, “The Card” sold for $3.12M in a private auction.

For those not familiar with this story, Honus Wagner was the great shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates at the turn of the 20th century. The legend is Wagner objected to his likeness being used to promote tobacco use to children (baseball cards came in cigarette packs back then) and demanded the American Tobacco Company pull the card from the market. The other claim (from researchers) is that Wagner, who chewed tobacco himself and did advertisements for cigars, was actually just holding out for more money. Whatever the reason, only between 75 and 200 Wagner T206’s ever made it to the public, as compared to the “tens or hundreds of thousands” of T206 cards, over three years (1909-11) in sixteen brands of cigarettes, for any other player. There are only ~65 known Wagner T206’s left, and most are in poor condition. Here are a few examples:

The point is, whenever someone brings a ‘newly discovered’ Wagner T206 to the market, it is greeted with both excitement & skepticism. Most of the time they are proven as forgeries. The facts point towards the world’s most valuable baseball card most-likely also being a fake, and that doesn’t bode well for this industry in the long-term. The truth is, this sports memorabilia craze is like all the rest under American capitalism, in which lawlessness & unethical behavior dominate, in order to make money from nothing.

Final point of etiquette: Parents need to teach their kids that when they ask for a celebrity’s autograph, they are making a bargain for life. The celebrity is choosing to give a piece of him/herself to the fan. If it eventually gets sold, then the celebrity isn’t making a fan, but instead feeding the machine. When this happens over & over, celebrities get jaded. All celebrities monitor this nowadays.

The overall message on everything discussed above, is that the current set-up isn’t working for celebrities or the fans.  It’s only benefiting a thin layer of parasites who are ruining things for everybody else.  Most athletes will tell you that they enjoy signing autographs for charity, and especially for the kids. They do it for that look of surprise & joy that only comes from innocent eyes, and makes a fan for life. The problem of problems is that everything under capitalism has to make money, and it’s the bleeping money that ruins everything.

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Cheating in Sports

      1. Old Friends - Ric Size

 

ESPN/NASCAR 5-1-17: Joey Logano starts from the back and ends up front [1]

My posted comment: “I like Joey Logano, but I do have a question. What was the ‘unauthorized transmission adjustment’ that sent him to the back of the field to start? He went from last to race winner, so it definitely worked. Just seems unfair, at least until the fans know more.”
Like · Reply · May 1, 2017 11:21am

ESPN/NASCAR 5-4-17: Joey Logano’s win at Richmond won’t count toward playoffs [2]

NASCAR announces Logano’s car was ‘illegally modified’ and that his Richmond win is “encumbered,” meaning he doesn’t get the points or free pass in the Chase. Amazing that no one else in the media initially asked the question, huh?

Cheating is endemic and part of the fabric of NASCAR. Certain teams are allowed to cheat more, depending on their favor with Brian France. For the serious Chase competitors it’s about pushing this envelope, and keeping good political relations with Steve O’Donnell & France. Power owners like Roger Penske, Joe Gibbs & Rick Hendricks get decisive edges for their teams.

Some drivers are more strictly censured than others. There are some whose best interest is NOT to cheat. For instance, Danica Patrick never gets busted for illegal modifications, failing laser inspections, loose lug nuts, etc. It’s not in her interest to cheat, because of how she markets herself to her fanbase of women & kids– as beautiful & fair-minded. That’s how she attracts major sponsorship, and notice that Aspen Dental is now the “official dentist of NASCAR.”  [3]

She consistently runs ~25th, and can never win a race because she isn’t trying (cheating), but with Dale Jr. retiring, Danica will easily become their most valuable commodity. That is the paradox of NASCAR, and it’s the reason she’s so loved & hated [4].

The landscape of women’s tennis has undergone a seismic shift recently. Serena Williams announced her pregnancy (congratulations!), and very likely is leaving professional tennis as quietly as possible. I don’t see a comeback at her age, with all she’s already accomplished. Motherhood will likely motivate her more.

The other bombshell is Maria Sharapova returning, in top form it appears. She’s definitely among the early favorites at Roland Garros, with plenty of motivation & support. Her May 16th official announcement for the French Open is being promoted, so what does that tell you the decision to let her play will be?

Any Sharapova vs. the WTA scandal-mongering in the media is flak designed to distract people from the political & controversial nature of her suspension from the start. Player gossip covers these hidden interests. Maria Sharapova is double-edged, as the tour needs her star power, but she is personally disliked by most players. Rafa Nadal (below) welcomed Marin Cilic back by saying, “Only thing that I can say is I am happy to see Marin back on tour. He’s a good guy and a great player.”

But Nadal didn’t advocate for Sharapova’s return as a wild card under similar circumstances. Sober tennis fans see what’s important here. Cilic is accepted by the players, while Sharapova (an even greater player in the women’s game) is not, due to her unpopular status in the locker room.

Maria Sharapova has won the career grand slam and the French open– twice. Of course she deserves a wild card, and her current situation is why they have such a thing. This entire affair has been a political vendetta, with Sharapova’s Russian nationality being at the heart of it [5].

Serena & Venus Williams were/are allowed to compete with therapeutic-use exemptions (Serena TUE below) for schedule II narcotics & banned steroids, without even a hint of media scrutiny or sanction from the US-backed ITF or WADA. This hypocrisy is staggering, and the response from most of the players is disappointing in it’s selfishness.

Racialist (definition): 1) One who insists that all differences in society are based on race, instead of class. 2) A form a racism.

Genie Bouchard (above) also spoke against Sharapova even being allowed to return [6]. Bouchard’s current situation is beyond bizarre & messed-up, as she is suing the USTA, while her game has fallen apart [7].  Background: in October 2015, Genie Bouchard slipped in the locker room at he US Open In NY, when she couldn’t find a light switch after a late-evening match.  She claims a “serious head injury” with lingering concussion issues [8].

The USTA has destroyed evidence (locker room video) and is at least partially at fault; but this ultimately falls on Bouchard herself.  She would win more support from everyone by becoming an advocate for better locker room conditions for all the athletes.  When you speak selfishly about others, they won’t stand with you when you need them.

As we can see, there is much cheating going on everywhere in sports; men & women, white, black, and any other skin pigment.  It’s inherent ugliness is why it’s hidden, until someone eventually reveals it to the rest of us. It’s motive is to selfishly put oneself ahead of others. Cheating diminishes our souls because it values trophies over character, and that understanding is its best deterrent.

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What is meant by “fake economy?”

Over seven billion humans currently live on this planet. Human civilization has mostly operated (for several hundred years) under an economic system called capitalism, which is predicated on individual profit & loss. By 2017, in order to maintain extreme levels of social inequality, illusions have had to be constructed & sustained. This is where our fake economy comes in.

Under feudalism (and before that, slavery in antiquity) illusions also had to be maintained, as all human societies have been ruled by class forces. The Romans gave their plebeian class “bread & circuses,” until they were overrun by barbaric hordes. Medieval royalty ruled their domain with their knighted class, and the mysticism of organized religion in the Catholic Church. The Crusades were about conquest & power, but peddled as a “Holy War” against Islam. We can therefore see that ‘fake news’ and manipulation of public opinion are not new phenomena. Only the tools & techniques change, as their purpose & interest always remain the same, which is to railroad public opinion towards war.

Fake jobs & industries under capitalism include: sales, business, investing, consulting, management & politics. Education is a crucial area for ideology, as corrupt ivory tower academia provide ‘proofs’ for every absurd irrationally of the profit system and all its malignancies.  It’s easier to manipulate fake people, as zombies don’t know how to think for themselves. Here in the United States, children are taught how to think & act at a very young age, with a consistent propaganda message. That message is to consume things that give instant pleasure. Sugar is the most addicting substance to man, and children are bombarded with targeted advertising in all media programming for unhealthy food from infancy onward.

Now people have fake bodies which aren’t healthy, so they need fake cures. “Selling sickness” is a nefarious industry secret in medicine, dentistry & pharmaceuticals. People are susceptible to this pressure because they have become so insecure about themselves. Any salesperson recognizing this can target weaknesses and close in. When a body is ugly with fat, one has a hard time socializing. One smells bad, so one needs more deodorant, and so on…

      1. Money Bug - Ric Size

 

After a while, many obese people give up on themselves and don’t go out anymore. Luckily there is the Internet and social media, when one can project whatever one pleases. While the Internet & social media are real technology, there is a large element of distortion and inherent falseness in most social media posting over time. We tend to project what we want other people to see, and filter out the rest. It’s much harder to do that in real life, with real people.

The news on the Internet is virtually all fake, outside of the WSWS.org. Capitalism runs every publication, which employs Madison Avenue advertisers to tell everyday people what’s important. This includes the entertainment industry (music, film & TV), sports & fashion. All of these are fake economies, endlessly generating useless content 24/7 for mindless consumers who must be kept entertained in order to distract them from world-significant events happening all around them.

The lure of PED’s in athletics is a form of ‘fake health.’ It plays on competitors’ deepest doubts & insecurities, leading into a chemical morass. Eventually male users need Cialis to get an erection, which begs the question: if you’re so hard, why do you need help there? Steroid use makes no sense when thought out rationally, but our society has taught people to ignore consequences for perceived short-term gains. The problem is the gains aren’t real, and they are more than offset by the detrimental side effects.

The healthiest way to interact is to listen & learn from others, while being influential (in a positive way) where appropriate. Don’t go for popularity because:

1) It’s shallow and accomplishes nothing for anyone else
2) Everyone else is doing it, which means it’s old already

The only way humans can be truly happy is when they are allowed to express themselves freely, without repercussions & without hurting others. That is impossible under our current fake economy. We need to starting getting real with everything, in order to replace these illusions with something real, as nothing else works.

      2. Problem Solved - Ric Size

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Celebrity: To Be or Not To Be

Everyone wants to be famous, right? Then you are well-known and everyone listens to what you have to say, so you can make a difference! That’s what most people believe. Celebrity reality (an oxymoron) is much different.

People naively believe that if you work hard and are amazing at what you do, then you will (somehow?) become a celebrity. Wrong!  You become a ‘star’ when the ruling class selects you to be one of their representatives. That’s where the big money comes from to pay these superstar contracts. Celebrities are spokespersons for capitalism, whether they are movie stars, rock stars or famous athletes– they are all sponsored by finance capital. These are the circuses which decadent capitalists enjoy, but primarily serve as a distraction (fake economy) for the underprivileged working masses.

The deal you make when you become a celebrity is that you NEVER speak badly about the sponsors, ie. capitalism. Since they are paying for your enhanced status, they expect full cooperation across the board. This definitely reaches into celebrities’ private lives, as they are simply no longer allowed to mingle with non-celebrities, unless there is complete control of the setting. This celebrity insecurity is a lonely disease. That fact that nearly every Hollywood/celebrity marriage ends in divorce substantiates this thesis. This leads to the ever-constant celebrity fascination with sex, probably because they aren’t getting any, or if they are it is of poor quality.

The fact that the vicarious public knows every detail of these figures & figurines demonstrates that they are allowed no privacy themselves; as famous lives are endlessly analyzed, dissected and discussed everywhere in the corporate news & social media. Any slip of the tongue on a bad day can be ruin.  This is the tightrope the glamorous & famous must gracefully walk every day.  If that sounds like an impossible amount of work, that’s because it is. Eventually every celebrity is wrecked or quietly taken down, and this entire fake economy lurches forward with new ‘stars.’ The bankers & corporate heads that control everything remain the same, and stay hidden.

As a celebrity, what you get to say for yourself hardly matters. Big capital owns the important parts of your brain which determine ethics & character. The rest is basic functions, fluff & bragging backed by lots of money.  Working people aren’t stupid, they’re just overworked– so they are a little slower in seeing all this. Many have already ‘cut the cord’ and that trend will accelerate as working people can no longer afford these spectacles, which are increasingly being recognized as fake.

The cult of celebrity is a major hurdle for the working class to clear on its way to a successful socialist revolution. The role of modern finance capital in creating a privileged ‘buffer layer’ to insulate the ruling 1% from the working masses has been an effective innovation. This ~10%  buffer includes celebrities, who mesmerize many working people.

      1. RIDICULOUS - Ric Size

 

This is because workers are trained to believe their own lives don’t matter, because it’s only money & fame that count. This is not only wrong, it is exactly the opposite of the truth– a Big Lie technique. It is the workers who are real, as they are the ones who produce the material value for society. Celebrities are part of this vast fake economy which is crumbling all around us– daily. In spite of this reality, these charlatans must continue to dance to the music, no matter how banal & vapid it is.

It is correct to say that artists should be rewarded no more than any other worker, under socialism. Under capitalism things are unequal, and therefore artists hold the highest rank of importance in bourgeois society. Without Pablo Picasso, Orson Welles, Mile Davis, Stanley Kubrick, Andy Warhol, John Lennon, etc., there is no culture and no beacon for truth. True artists are of precious value, because they can be taken away in one act of violence by a ruling class that will stop at nothing to preserve its privilege and avoid being exposed.

Marxism uses the dialectical method to analyze society historically & materially. Dialectics means that everything is always moving & changing, so it is critical to understand the process in order to project the future. At one point most celebrities had noble aspirations. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux is attributed with the proverb, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” Even this noble saint had progressive thoughts, but when it lacks Marxist discipline & critical dialectical thinking, it inevitably becomes an idealist morass, which always funnels back to god & bourgeois capitalism in the dead-end form of the Democratic party in the US.

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Playing the Trump Card

Fake News has now become a buzzword. It comes from the common understanding among literate people that all the news we see, read & hear are lies made to serve nefarious interests. The corporations that control these outlets benefit from these lies, so it’s perfectly reasonable to presume that all this is propaganda. It fits the facts as all evidence confirms this thesis.

The news has always been fake. Capitalism does have its well-thought-out niches, and propaganda is most definitely one of them. The reason that corporate news is broadly recognized & despised is the level of irrationality it has now reached. There is very-little-to-nothing that is useful to consumers, as far as reporting facts go. As for editorial commentary, it’s gutter grade journalism across the board.

This means working people now turn off & tune out corporate. This is done in all sorts of ways. Many have dumped cable/satellite TV (cord cutters), and moved to ‘alternative’ news & information sources on the Internet. Many also rely on social media, as a vehicle to discuss issues in dedicated forums and share through Facebook. Facebook is undoubtedly the social media king, as most major sports, entertainment & political news forums connect with it, so ideas can be shared quickly. They also can be censored, by the controlling interest. Mark Zuckerberg is the owner of this all-powerful medium, even though it is really (photo below) Shawn Fanning’s Napster peer-to-peer idea revised.

Quick history lesson: Shawn Fanning was a college drop out who had a genius idea to revolutionize the world through free music sharing back when the Internet was new to most of us. It quickly went viral, and then came under attack from the record industry (RIAA). Corporate music recruited shills (in the form of Metallica [below] & Dr. Dre), to turn public opinion against Napster, despite their willingness to work with artists on a model that would pay them.

The reasons were: 1) it never is about paying the artists, it’s about the record companies getting their money; and they were getting shut out & overrun so they tied everything up in court and now we have iTunes & Pandora– which suck compared to Napster; and 2) Ivy leaguers are supposed to own all-powerful social media platforms, not working class prodigies.

After Napster was killed in court, Fanning’s partner Shawn Parker (with Fanning above) eventually found Mark Zuckerberg (below) and together they created Facebook, which has many of the same original ideas in site construction & content sharing. That’s how a genius gets cut out, diminishing human society.

Getting back to fake news, anyone can see how social media can be a platform for sharing content (revolutionary), while also being a major player in the fake news onslaught (reactionary). This is done through its manipulation of trending on a macro scale, but can also be individualized with precise targeting for anyone. Reach can be cut, by simply not posting it to other feeds– even when requested. Also fake stats on visitors, activity, likes, comments & censoring messages are common tactics. There are definite class forces behind this.

All this leads to Donald Trump, who has now earned the title “Commander-in Chief,” and the media praise he so desperately covets. As discussed earlier, Trump is more of a celebrity than a politician, so playing to his vanity is always the correct move in manipulating him. It is clear that Sean Spicer is his mouthpiece, and he plays the crucial role of Joseph Goebbels as propaganda minister.

Just as in Nazi Germany in the 1930’s, both Trump & Spicer are allowed to say the foulest, most ignorant words imaginable and the media barely blinks an eye, and never demands serious explanation or accountability. With the entire mass media we have thorough corruption, combined with a severe case of the Emperor’s New Clothes.

The fact that nuclear war is being contemplated behind closed doors, with no discussion in the media [!] is the height of ridiculousness. The fact that Donald Trump can say whatever he wants to whomever, and it doesn’t mean a thing, is a serious problem. Yet the media reassures us that everything will be fine, as warships move in on their next attack target.

There are now several flashpoints (Syria, North Korea, Ukraine…) that could set off a shooting war with a major nuclear power. This ends in mutually assured destruction (MAD). Any time this Black Hand (deep state) needs aggression, they can now play the Trump card. This is no longer doom & gloom prophecy, this is materialist analysis of our historical situation. Human society must find & rally around its best elements to avoid a cruel & horrible end.

This is only possible though a socialist transformation of society, into one that eliminates privileged classes & social inequality. It is precisely these class forces that are driving a desperate deep state apparatus. The qualitative change in media propaganda is a measure of their crisis, and also an indication of their ruthlessness and lack of regard for any consequences.

Humans beings are smarter than Donald Trump, and must recognize en masse that he and his fascist cohorts, (along with the deep-state military-intelligence-Wall Street apparatus that is pulling every string), needs to be removed from power. This will only happen through mass action from a united international working class, armed with Marxism & the dialectical method.

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Reuters Reversed

Key:
US & Syria are role-reversed
Russia = second-largest nuclear power
China = third-largest nuclear arsenal and second-largest economy

      1. Kararak - Ric Size

 

Reuters: U.S. fires missiles at Assad airbase; Russia denounces ‘aggression’
Fri Apr 7, 2017 | 9:09am EDT
By Steve Holland, Andrew Osborn and Tom Perry | PALM BEACH, Fla./MOSCOW/BEIRUT  [1]

Syria fired cruise missiles on Friday at an American airbase from which President Bashar al-Assad said a deadly chemical weapons attack had been launched, the first direct Syrian assault on the US government in six years of war. In the biggest foreign policy decision of his presidency so far, Assad directly targeted the US military for its alleged role in a poison gas attack that killed at least 70 people. The second-largest nuclear power called the Syrian strikes an illegal aggression.

Back to reality for one sentence: This catapults Damascus (the oldest city in human civilization) into deeper alliance with the second-largest-nuclear-power in the world, which has already military advisers on the ground, aiding its fight against CIA-led covert operations mixed with radical Islam.

“Weeks of previous attempts at changing Trump’s behavior have all failed and failed very dramatically,” Assad said as he announced the attack from his resort home, where he was meeting the president of the third-largest nuclear arsenal and second largest economy. “Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack,” Assad said of Tuesday’s chemical weapons strike, which his countries blame on Trump’s forces. “No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”

Syrian officials said that the strike was a “one-off” intended to deter future chemical weapons attacks, and not part of a wider expansion of Syria’s role in the US war. But the swift action is likely to be interpreted as a signal to the second-largest nuclear power, as well as all others where Assad has faced foreign policy tests in his presidency, that he is willing to use force. “This clearly indicates the president is willing to take decisive action when called for,” Syria’s Secretary of State told reporters. “I would not in any way attempt to extrapolate that to a change in our policy or our posture relative to our military activities in America today. There has been no change in that status.” Even without any promise of more Syrian action, the strikes could embolden Trump’s enemies, after months when Syrian deep state officials appeared to grow increasingly resigned to him staying in power.

The US government has denied that US forces were behind the gas attack, but Syria has dismissed their explanation that chemicals leaked from a [covert-ops/al-Nusra Front] weapons depot after an air strike. The US army said the Syrian attack killed six people at its air base near the city. It called the strike “blatant aggression” and said it made Syria a “partner” of “terrorist groups” including Islamic State. Springfield governor told media the death toll was seven. American television later said nine civilians were killed in towns near the base. There was no independent confirmation of civilian casualties.

The second-largest nuclear power suspended communication with Syrian forces designed to stop planes colliding over the US, one of the few direct forms of cooperation since the two rivals began flying combat missions in the same air space for the first time since the Cold War.

A frigate from the second-largest nuclear power carrying cruise missiles sailed through the Florida Keys into the Gulf of Mexico, a sign of their military presence in the area although there was no indication it was directly in response to Syrian action. Syria’s allies backed the decision to launch the strikes, with several countries describing it as a proportionate response to Trump’s suspected use of poison gas.  Several countries said they were notified in advance, but none had been asked to take part.

Global stocks off lows, oil rallies after U.S. missile strike on Syria
Fri Apr 7, 2017 | 8:37am EDT
By Vikram Subhedar | LONDON [2]

Oil prices held near one-month highs on Friday after Syria attacked a US air base but stocks and the Syrian pound recovered early falls when an official played down the risks of an escalation. The Syrian pound recouped all of its losses against a basket of major currencies and was last trading little changed. Major stock index futures were flat.

Syria fired dozens of cruise missiles at a US air base from which it said a chemical weapons attack was launched this week, an escalation of the Syrian military role in America that swiftly drew sharp criticism from the second-largest nuclear power. A Syrian defense official told Al Jezeera the missile strike was a “one-off”, helping to calm market nerves.

“The Syrian missile strike on a US air base overnight caused a knee-jerk shift into safe havens, although the impact was moderate as it is being interpreted as a one-off proportionate response,” said Ian Williams, a financial strategist in Damascus. Oil prices hovered near one-month highs though prices pared some gains as there seemed no immediate threat to supplies. Brent crude futures which surged more than 2 percent after the Syrian attack, were last up 1.5 percent at $55.72 a barrel. The strength in crude oil lifted shares on major oil and gas producers in Syria, all up about 0.5 percent.

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The Pied Piper & Rats (2016)

The black rat, also known as the ship rat, roof rat or house rat originated in tropical Asia, and has spread worldwide via man. Rats are generalist omnivores, meaning they eat anything, including their own. The rat is a complex pest, defined as one that influences the environment in both harmful and beneficial ways. In many ways rats are a barometer of human civilization. That’s what makes Morgan Spurlocks’s latest film, Rats (2016) so intriguing, while being taboo for political apologists.

Black rats are largely confined to warmer areas, having been supplanted by the brown rat in the cooler climates of Western civilization. Brown rats are larger, more-aggressive, eating a wider variety of food, while being more resistant to weather extremes (favoring burrowing), making them ideally-adapted to northern urban environments. The black & brown rats, along with mice, are the most widespread mammalian species on earth.

Rats have a very high birth rate, quickly adapting & reproducing to take advantage of their food supply while eliminating competitors. For instance, rats will feast on the eggs & hatchlings of forest birds, which on isolated islands often have no other predators. Rats are believed to have caused between 40-60% of all seabird & reptile extinctions, with 90% of those occurring on islands. [1]

Rats reached all these remote islands as stowaways on human-carrying vessels, so thus it is man who is actually responsible for these mass extinctions. The rats are simply doing what they do, which is dominating their domain during nocturnal hours. Rats forage after sunset by sampling all available food. This maintains a dynamic diet, balancing nutrient intake, while avoiding over-intoxication of lethal compounds. Their ability to handle trace amounts of toxins has led to increased genetic resistance.

When traps & poison are set out, the rats act as an organization, as the alpha-male will send a weaker rat to investigate. If this rat dies, the area is marked in urine, and the rats will thereafter avoid it. This intelligence & adaptability ensures species survival. Rats use an acute sense of hearing & smelling to detect danger and quickly evade predators. Rats are the ultimate mammalian survivors, something homo sapiens need a lesson in.

It is primary to understand that rats will never be completely exterminated, as long as this planet is habitable for life.  Therefore, humans must learn to coexist with rats, in a way that respects hygiene & health concerns, as well as the reality that rats exist. Also, it would be helpful if more people understood that there are places in the world where the rat is revered. Karni Mata Temple in Deshnoke, India is known as the Temple of Rats, for the ~25,000 black rats that live in there.

In much of India & southeast Asia, rats have been eaten as a meat/protein staple for millenia.

Who is to say they are wrong?  Everything has it’s value.

Here in North America, urban brown rats live in the sewers, and carry ectoparasites such as fleas, which often contain pathogens such as bubonic plague, typhus, leptospirosis, toxoplasmosis and trichinosis. Rat infestations occur around pipes, storm drains, inside walls and ALWAYS near food garbage. Rats have the ability to swim up sewer pipes into toilets, and can tread water for three days. Each litter has 8-12 kittens. Rats can mate at age two months, produce a new litter every two months, and live for about a year.

Effective rat control requires rational city planning & adequate funding. Too much of major US-city (mafia run) waste disposal is under the catch-all of ‘garbage pickup’ which really needs to be separated into composting, recycling, and trash disposal. Composting reduces curbside food waste, which always attracts rats, and is the first sensible step in urban pest control. These sewer rats are living in human urine & feces, and are being brought into human proximity on a daily basis; leading to a public health crisis, with harmful bacteria spread through rat feces, saliva and urine.

Littering, along with curbside-overnight garbage disposal from residences, stores, subways & restaurants contributes to the sustenance of urban rats. Rats congregate in colonies of 30-50, and live only a few hundred feet from their food source. Rats can squeeze through a gap the size of a quarter because their skull is not plated together like most mammals, so it can change the shape of its head to squeeze through.

Rats have caused more economic damage and human suffering than any other vertebrate pest, according to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Rats destroy an estimated 20-30% of the world’s food supply every year—by feeding on it or contaminating it.

When easy food sources are removed, rat populations are capped, and their decline begins. Rats will cannibalize themselves when they get desperate enough, at which point more humane & time-proven extermination methods can be introduced on a wider scale. The best way to get rid of problem rats is using dogs.

The problem of city rat infestations is an indictment of capitalism, which explains the negative reviews for Morgan Spurlock’s latest documentary film, Rats [2] [3]. Too much of the NYC rat problem is political corruption, with narrow-minded elitists misinforming & understating the danger to the public. The official estimate of ~2 million rats in NYC, with a human population of 8.4 million is ludicrous, as this audit proves. There are surely far more rats than human residents, probably by several times– at least.

The NYC Health Department is notorious for its corruption, with bribery and extortion of residents & business owners being public knowledge [4]. This political mafia rules the Big Apple, and they are the primary reason rats have taken such a big bite out of it [5]. In 2010, the city cut its rodent control programs by $1.5 million as part of an overall $2 billion in budget cuts for social services.

Rat indexing inspectors have found signs of rats on the property deemed ‘rat-free’ in all its compliance inspections, even in cases where the landlord paid for cleanup & extermination.  According to the Rat Indexing Map, almost every block in Manhattan has one or more buildings that have rat infestations.

The problem of rats comes down to human intelligence, cleanliness and our willingness to work together.  When not enough people practice and live by these values, we get rats everywhere.  It is our duty as human beings in a civilized society to identify all the rats, and get this epidemic under control before they overrun us.

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CIA ‘Anti-Russian’ Hacking & Wikileaks Vault 7

On Tuesday, March 7 Wikileaks.org released a “new series of leaks on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Code-named “Vault 7″ by WikiLeaks, it is the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.” [1]

The detail provided in these leaks is astounding, as sophisticated cyber attack methods are described in chilling detail. The targets of this massive operation are everyone, but more specifically anyone deemed as a political “threat to US interests.”  Keep in mind that a deep state defines these ‘threats’ for us, and ‘national insecurity’ has grown into an enormous apparatus, whose basic structure can barely be traced even in the simplest of organizational diagrams:

This WikiLeaks ‘Vault 7’ data release should be reviewed by everyone with serious political interest. Understand that “anti-Russian” means anti-socialist, anti-leftist and anti-working class in Newspeak. Big Brother has more than just it’s eyes & ears on certain online organizations, as active cyber warfare (funded by taxpayers) is surely attacking Wikileaks, the World Socialist Web Site, and this site.

For Wikileaks it’s self-evident there is a US government campaign to neutralize & dismantle them. Julian Assange has been trapped in an Ecuadorian embassy in London for nearly 4 years, on trumped-up rape charges. Bradley (Chelsea) Manning, who provided Wikileaks with the infamous Iraq War Log, has been locked in a military brigade for years. Edward Snowden, the ex-CIA programmer turned whistle-blower, who told the world about ubiquitous NSA spying, has had to flee to Russia fearing CIA reprisals.

Wikileaks has been attacked online through financial warfare, as ways to donate to this popular site have been restricted and even ‘gone dark’ at times. That only happens when a conscious deep state is focusing its invective on what it considers to be ‘rogue’ organizations. These are the ‘terrorists’ the US government is really fighting, as ISIS (and the rest) are actually CIA creations/assets.

By far the most dangerous online organization to the ruling class is WSWS.org, the World Socialist Web Site. What deep state planners fear more than anything is a revolution from below. That is a decisive force, which they can not control. Therefore, a ruthless & highly-sophisticated misinformation & suppression campaign must be directed against this site, and any sympathizers. As a daily reader for over 15 years, it is easy to spot changes in their organizational line, as well as monitoring the tone of their comments section– which is a more recently-added site feature (<5 years old).

Adding comments has been a great advance for the WSWS, as is their nascent Facebook presence. With this has come a noticeable increase in cyber attacks on the site, which experienced daily readers can notice. The most common tactic is the creating of fake profiles to spam the comments section with nonsense. These posts usually follow the same model: new handle, no profile picture, LONG posts that are perfectly spelled & punctuated, but incomprehensible gibberish.

Trolls are also a common tactic, and targeted at less-sophisticated readers who are still confused and therefore chomp down on well-placed bait. Forum moderators have a difficult time keeping up with all this, as the CIA-intelligence apparatus have endless resources to keeping pounding whomever they please. WSWS readers (working people) have to get better at recognizing these attacks for what they are, and then ruthlessly expose them as part of their growing political activism & education.

As far as RicSize.com goes, I have indisputable mathematical proof that my site has been the target of US intelligence cyber attacks. Analytics don’t lie. The level of growth & influence this site has gained in it’s 3+ years of online activity has amazed even its owner. The power that even one individual [!] can project through the Internet is MUCH more than most people realize. This has been noticed by US intelligence, and at this point I’ll even reveal a hidden strategy; I knew this site would be monitored from the start, and used that as part of my marketing/promotional operations.

The people spying on the other end are employed by the class enemy, but they are also human beings. Therefore they can be influenced to change their minds in certain cases. Since I had no fans to start, but I knew the CIA was listening, I decided to direct some of my propaganda towards them, since they were so interested in what I was doing. I have no idea what effect this has had on these organizations, but the intent was to create Edward Snowdens.

The cyber attacks on RicSize.com were seriously escalated in June of 2016. This coincided with political events, namely Election 2016. The DNC email leaks, and the possibility of a Trump presidency sent the Obama-controlled intelligence apparatus into overdrive against leftist organizations. The published piece that black-flagged this site for increased attack was “Maria Sharapova, PED’s & International Politics,” perhaps the most damning & explosive piece published on this site, which is quite a statement.

This article had been published in March, when women’s tennis star Maria Sharapova was ‘temporarily suspended’ by the US-led World Anti-Doping Association (WADA), as part of their ongoing campaign to exclude Russian athletes from the Rio 2016 Olympics. Sharapova is a Russian citizen, who works globally, and lives in Los Angeles with dual citizenship. This piece was instantly popular, as the US media & the WTA universally lined-up against Sharapova, with their typical righteousness & hypocrisy. This piece was the only English-language source for any facts on the case, and there was to be a hearing in a few weeks to decide the matter.

Months came & went, and this site was steadily growing in daily readership. On June 9, 2016 a 2-year suspension was handed down to Sharapova, and this site instantly exploded. The Sharapova piece was shared globally on an unprecedented scale, and it obviously provoked the wrath of US intelligence, who were ramping up their bogus ‘Anti-Russian’ campaign, which they have continued up to this writing.

The cyber attacks on this site were certainly successful, from a US intelligence standpoint. Daily views of RicSize.com were cut by two-thirds from mid-June 2016 though January 20, 2017.  On January 21, 2017 site viewership immediately jumped 50%, and has remained at that level.

There are only two explanations for this sudden up tick, 1) increased popular interest in socialist politics; and 2) a change in deep-state intelligence policy. I believe both to be in play, as consumption of anti-fascist literature has increased since Donald Trump became US president. With that, Trump’s ‘soft’ stance towards Russian president Vladimir Putin has set off a raging internecine deep state power struggle. There now appears to be a window of opportunity for socialists to press their agenda, as the ruling class is divided with infighting. This will not last, as the whole US political system is unstable and in terminal crisis. Socialism must gather momentum and build its ranks, before fascism decides to sweep away the final remains of parliamentary democracy and establish an official police state.

These examples cited above are the leading edge of a cyber warfare campaign, which is designed to eliminate personal privacy, by controlling everyone on this planet through manipulation & blackmail. If you knew everyone’s secrets, you would be powerful too! These are actually elitist cowards, spying behind their computer screens in their hidden bunkers. All their personal ‘lives’ are no doubt similar in theme.

Check out this enlightening tidbit from the Wikileaks dump called ‘Fine Dining,’ which is customized CIA hacking that targets any computer system. The name is a reference to the fact that once this malware is installed, it allows the CIA to feast on its data, without detection. According to Wikileaks, “Notably absent from their target list is any reference to extremists or transnational criminals.” What this proves is the CIA’s sole purpose is to manipulate & control population groups through criminal covert action & spying. [2]

Vault 7 shows that automobile on-board computer systems can be remotely hijacked by the CIA, causing a high-speed wreck that leaves no fingerprints. Essentially this is drone assassination of US citizens, and it is widely speculated to have been the method used to kill Michael Hastings.

“Hastings, who was 33 when he died, was the Rolling Stone reporter who wrote an article in 2010 that led to the removal of General Stanley McChrystal from his post as ranking US commanding officer in Afghanistan. Hastings perished at around 4:30 a.m. after losing control of his car and crashing into a tree while traveling at about 100 mph.” [3]

All this must end. We as a society can no longer allow this level of brazen criminality to go unchecked. The direction this is heading is clear, and it is catastrophic. Anyone reading this needs to become more politically active & militant in their fight against fascism, which has become the final-crisis stage of modern capitalism. The only vehicle to defeat fascism is revolutionary socialism, led by a class-conscious internationally-united working class. Those organizations listed above (this site include) are fighting short-stacked, and therefore must be supported by those who care about the fate of civilization & human culture. United we can win.

 

      1. Haters, Step Aside - Ric Size

 

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Andy Warhol is Everywhere

“They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” — Andy Warhol

Truly one of the artistic giants of the 20th century was Andy Warhol (1928-87), whose influence on art, music, film & mass media was revolutionary in the 1960’s and remains with us today.  Indeed, humanity needs to face this genius honestly and deal with the depth of his work– in order to understand the obstacles capitalism places in our paths towards emancipation.

andy-warhol-4

Warhol was dangerous & subversive. He was (and still is) viewed as an enemy by the ruling elite, which explains why his films have been ignored & trivialized, and remain largely unseen by the public.  Most can only be viewed at his Carnegie museum in Pittsburgh.

andy_warhol_museum_photo-by-jared-and-corin

The Andy Warhol Museum is the largest museum in the country dedicated to a single artist, and its collection includes: 900 paintings; approximately 100 sculptures; nearly 2,000 works on paper; more than 1,000 published and unique prints; and 4,000 photographs. The film & video collection includes 60 feature films, 200 of Warhol’s Screen Tests, and more than 4,000 videos. [1]

Any exposure to Warhol is welcome these days, and the Portland Art Museum is holding a print exhibition through January 1, 2017, which attempts to make sense of an immense body of creativity– and largely succeeds.

andy-warhol_portland-art-museum

Briefly, Pittsburgh-born Andek Warhola was a sickly child with a deep attachment to his mother. He acquired the name Warhol when he was mis-credited in one of his early advertisement pieces– and assumed it from then on.  Warhol was gay, in an era when being gay was unacceptable to elite taste. He was also extremely insecure about his body, and enjoyed making other uncomfortable in their own skin.

A great example of this in his art are his films, which are awkward to watch, and unlike anything film makers had ever attempted.  The point was making the viewer feel self-conscious, and thus becoming part of the film.  This powerful & revolutionary concept changed film & mass-media production forever.

Warhol first exploded into mass consciousness with his Campbell’s Soup Can paintings  in 1962.  Even his prints in a series (pictured below) make a powerful statement on nutrition, marketing & food distribution.  The original ‘Soup Can’ series is in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

andy-warhol-6

Andy Warhol was famous for making other people famous. Nowhere was this more apparent than in his Factory of ‘Superstars’ and in his collaboration with the Velvet Underground.  The Exploding Plastic Inevitable was a multimedia production by Warhol, featuring his films, performing dancers, and the music of the Velvets– who were Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker.  Everything is meticulously detailed in this must-read rock biography:

uptight_vu

Andy Warhol’s best biography is also written by Victor Bockris, with whom he collaborated in television projects, as well as Interview magazine.

bockris_-andy-warhol

In summary, Andy Warhol & Pablo Picasso are rightly considered to be the two greatest artistic geniuses of the 20th century.  Picasso finally made his peace with the art world, and became the wealthiest painter in human history. Warhol was murdered in a hospital bed in Manhattan, by a philistine ruling clique that cares only about maintaining their privilege, and nothing for art and human culture.  The capitalists may have killed Andy Warhol in person, but they will never extinguish the power of his art.

selfie-with-andy-warhol

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O.J. Simpson & Racialism

On June 12, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson was found brutally murdered outside her Brentwood home, along with her friend Ronald Goldman.

Nicole Brown Murdered

O.J. Simpson had a long history of abusing his estranged wife.

Nicole-Simpson-Abuse-Diaries-1

At O.J.’s home (several miles from the murder scene), LAPD found a bloody right glove, matching a left glove found at the murder scene.

OJ Glove

Both gloves were soiled with the blood of O.J. Simpson and the two murder victims.

Nicole Brown & Ronald Goldman

No question, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) have a long history of violence towards impoverished black communities.

But also note that Willie L. Williams was the chief of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) from 1992 to 1997, indicating deeper class issues superseding any racialist narrative.

LAPD Police Chief 1994

Williams replaced Daryl Gates’ following the 1992 LA riots, in the wake of the Rodney King police-beating ‘not guilty’ verdict.

The primary issue that acquitted O.J. Simpson in 1995, was his privileged class status.

Shapiro-Douglas-Cochran-OJ-Trial

O.J. was still a (mostly) beloved celebrity, with powerful connections that allowed him the best legal defense money could buy.

F Lee Bailey & OJ Simpson

Here’s a question for all the black racialists: Would O.J. have been found guilty (by a predominantly black jury), if he had instead murdered his first wife, Marguerite Whitley?

OJ & Marguritte

Johnnie Cochran & Carl E. Douglass are black racialists who specialize in manipulating tragedy (or any perceived injustice) that befalls a black person, for political & personal gain.

Johnnie Cochran

These are the worst forms of hucksters, jive acts & snake-oil salesmen– parading in silk suits and passing themselves off as respectable.

Carl E Douglas: Pimp for OJ

For a prominent black celebrity such as O.J Simpson, to be acquitted of a double murder (which he surely committed), is an advance for all black people– according to Cochran & Douglas.

OJ Trial Jury

This racialist garbage is still being exploited today, in various forms.

OJ_Made_in_America

When the judge allows the defense in a double-murder trial to turn everything into a circus and stack the jury along racial lines, nothing good can come of it.

Kangaroo Court

When the original black superstar athlete to sell out to white corporate America, is suddenly transformed into a black civil rights movement, we need a reality check.

Go OJ, Go!

These were the only real attorneys (professionals) during The O.J. Trial:

Marcia-Clark-Christopher-Darden

Ezra Edelman’s O.J.: Made in America (2016) is about as deep & thoughtful as’ black’ intelligentsia has ever gotten on the subject:

Ezra Edelman_OJ: Made in America

This racialism has consequences, and leads politically to Obama v. McCain 2008, which was really no choice for anyone who worked for a living–  black, white, or whatever…

McCain & Obama

Hillary v. Trump is the political/feminist 2.0 version of this toxicity.

Hillary Trump Bill

Are you a racialist?

oj-simpson-white-bronco-chase

We are all homo sapiens of various shades, this is black:

Black

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