Betting on Zero

Image result for pretty girl drinking herbalife

Betting on Zero

**1/2

“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

-Genesis 3:19

 

I am thankful for the wisdom of this bible verse.

Without it, life would be a lot harder and more complicated. There have been hundreds of Sunday nights during my adult life where I lost sleep. I was dreading the long, daunting work week ahead.

But no matter how much I’m dreading it, I always go to work on Monday. That’s because I don’t view it as a choice. Genesis makes it sparklingly clear: if I want to earn the right to live and eat, I must labor.

I will work until my boss gives me a gold watch or until I expire at my desk. Either way is cool. I never feel sorry for myself. I feel sorry for the unfortunate people who haven’t internalized Genesis 3:19.

Life will always be harder for the chumps who think that there is a realistic path to wealth that doesn’t involve a 9 to 5 job. There will always be a Scammer trying to lure them away from their money. It could be the lottery. It could be the casino. It could be Herbalife.

Herbalife, I learned from “Betting on Zero,” produces health products. The company sells shakes, pills, and stuff that supposedly helps you lose weight.

Documentarian Ted Braun doesn’t tell us whether he thinks the shakes actually make you healthier and thinner. It hardly matters. Herbalife doesn’t make money selling health products; Herbalife is a Pyramid Scheme.

“Betting on Zero” is a half hour too long, but it is totally convincing. Herbalife doesn’t market its shakes to consumers; it markets them to its independent distributors.

The heart and soul of Herbalife are its shameless salesmen who are able to convince dozens of patsies to invest their life savings into Herbalife products and convince other people to do the same. That top salesman gets a cash bonus and an Alpha Romeo. The middle distributors break even at best. All the dupes on the bottom of the Pyramid get are products they can’t sell and bills they can’t pay.

The hero of this story is Hedge Fund manager Bill Ackman (seriously). Ackman saw what Herbalife is doing to its workers and set out to destroy the company and make money in the process. In 2012, he shorted $1 billion in Herbalife stock. Shorting a stock means that you sell shares that you don’t have. When the stock drops as planned, you buy them back for less and make a profit.

The victims of this story are the undocumented immigrants who fell for the scam by the tens of thousands. Herbalife used Spanish-language advertisements to target illegals because they are less likely to go public with complaints about being ripped off.

I don’t feel quite as sorry for Herbalife salespeople as Ted Braun wants me to. If somebody says: “I have a job for you! Now give me some money,” you should know that it is a rip-off, not a job. If you give that guy your money, you are not a victim – you are a fool.

To be clear: I’m definitely not defending Herbalife. The company is awful and I hope that its stock price does go to zero. However, we don’t need government probes or Bill Ackman to make it happen.

Herbalife would shut its doors tomorrow if everyone just woke up and realized there are no shortcuts to success in this life. All you have to do is read Genesis 3:19, get up bright and early on Monday morning, and then go to your soul-sucking dead-end job like the rest of us.

 

The Jihadist Next Door

Image result for charles martel

The Jihadist Next Door

**1/2

 

The most important year in European history was 732.

A century before, Mohammed had founded Islam. In just couple of generations, the conquering armies of Islam had profoundly changed the map of the world. Mohammed’s successors controlled an unbroken empire stretching from Northern India to Morocco.

In 711, North African Moors – led by General Abd al-Rahman – attacked Spain. They subjugated the Christian Visigoth barbarians with ease. Inevitably, the Muslim army crossed the Pyrenees and attacked an even more backward barbarian tribe called the Franks.

The Battle of Tours (732) was the greatest upset in Medieval history. The question wasn’t whether the undefeated Abd al-Rahman would triumph, but how badly the Christians would be slaughtered.

But amazingly, the Christian Franks – led by Charles Martel – stopped the Moors in their tracks. Western Europe would remain Christian for another 1300 years.

The second most important year in European history was 1985. By signing the Schengen Agreement, a group of myopic, greedy globalists undid the work of Charles Martel. The borders of Western Europe came down.

“The Jihadi Next Door” explores the new world that intolerant Islamists and idiot internationalists unleashed upon us. The documentary introduces us to some British men who are far from English, living in a new Europe that feels far from Christendom.

The most memorable Jihadi is Abu Rumaysah, a Hindu-born convert who moved to The Islamic State soon after the documentary was shot. He calmly explains what life will be like in Europe after Sharia Law is enacted. Abu speaks fondly of a happy future where adulterers are stoned to death in public and gay men are thrown off the roof.

His words are ghastly but unsurprising. The way he speaks them is the really interesting part. Abu Rumaysah is a normal-sounding British guy. He and his buddies sound like a pack of average blokes. Instead of drinking beer and watching soccer, though, they eat Middle Eastern take-out and watch ISIS execution videos on YouTube.

Abu is not an immigrant. He is the new face of Britain. It is not inconceivable that he is right when he predicts that the Islamic State flag will eventually fly over 10 Downing Street.

When we see Abu Rumaysah take to the streets with his provocative demonstrations, it feels like the Sharia Law takeover is pretty far away. He gets a solidly negative reaction. However, it also feels like the united Christian Europe that Charles Martel fought for is even further away.

The people who angrily fight back at Abu aren’t English people, they are fellow Muslims. Abu gets into shouting matches with Pakistanis, Kurds, Shiites, and kufaars (non-practicing Muslims).

The tide of battle has finally turned. After 1300 years, the Muslim forces of General Abd al-Rahman have begun to overwhelm Christendom.

Next time you hear Populists talk about the virtue of borders, please don’t dismiss them as racists. They are the successors of Charles Martel: fighting against all odds to save our world.

 

 

I Am Your Father

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I Am Your Father

**1/2

 

If you will indulge me here, I am going to list all of the accomplishments of my career:

  1. I’ve been with the same company for 15 years.

That is all.

I am a responsible and agreeable enough employee to avoid being fired evidently. Because, I assure you, I never go above and beyond in my daily work duties. I assure you of that.

Do I try to impress my boss to earn a promotion? No! Do I stay late or work overtime unless explicitly forced by my boss? Goodness No! Do I take work home with me, either in a briefcase or in my head? Heck No! If I ever find myself thinking of work when I’m not getting paid to, I drink until those shameful thoughts are out of my head.

Work is great, but if you try to turn your job into the primary source of meaning and happiness in your life, you are making a monumental mistake. No matter how much success you achieve, work will ultimately leave you disappointed.

David Prowse proves it.

Though you’ve probably don’t know who David Prowse is, you’ve certainly seen him. He’s Darth Vader. He’s the super tall Englishman who wore the iconic Darth Vader costume in the first three Star Wars movies. “I Am Your Father” tells his happy and heartbreaking story.

Prowse – who was 80 years old when this documentary was made – recounts the glory years of his remarkable career.

He won the British Bodybuilding Championship in 1962. He parlayed his gigantic 6’7’’ frame into a steady acting career. He played Frankenstein in low-budget British horror movies. He appeared in “A Clockwork Orange.”

Prowse is best known to older Englishmen as the Green Cross Code Man: a superhero who taught British kids to cross the street safely in the 1970s. He was honored by the Queen for his lifesaving work.

But Prowse remembers his time as Darth Vader most fondly. He recalls the amazing experience of watching the first “Star Wars” in a packed theater and discovering – to his total surprise – that he was part of a huge mega-hit.

Prowse recalls the excitement of watching “The Empire Strikes Back” in the theater and learning that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father. The Star Wars producers were so obsessed with secrecy that they didn’t even tell the actors.

That paranoid secrecy would end up biting David Prowse in the back a few years later. During the filming of “Return of the Jedi,” the news of Darth Vader’s death leaked to the press.

The producers blamed Prowse. As a response, they cast another actor as the face of Darth Vader when the dying villain finally takes off the mask. Even worse, they didn’t inform Prowse at all. They filmed Darth Vader’s penultimate dramatic scene behind his back.

By all accounts, David Prowse should be proud of his amazing acting career. If success brings one joy, he should be the happiest guy in England. But he is tormented by the bitterness of how he was treated by George Lucas and by the unforgettable death scene that he should have been a part of.

Career success has also affected his family life. Prowse’s son is still wounded by the embarrassment of having a famous father. And Prowse’s wife – who refused to be interviewed – never understood the movies and hates that Prowse has to go off to Star Wars conventions every weekend.

The lesson of “I Am Your Father” is clear. It’s good to have a job. It’s good to retire with money in the bank and some neat stories. But if you expect your career to bring you happiness, the Force will not be with you.

13th

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13th

**1/2

 

Most of us can agree that it is bad for a society to have too many people behind bars. And it is a sad fact that the United States is the worst culprit. We have the largest prison population in world history.

What we may not be able to agree on is how it came to be this way. I have a basic theory. I call it: “build it and they will come.”

My theory holds that if you have a country with two million prison cells, you will inevitably have two million prisoners. It’s pretty much as simple as that.

The makers of the acclaimed documentary “13th” have a very different theory.

The title references the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. It forever outlawed involuntary servitude… “except as punishment for a crime.”

The film taught me about the period just after the Civil War when States arrested black men for petty crimes and used them as free prison labor – essentially as slaves owned by the government.

And then the film argues that the 13th Amendment and the racism of the Reconstruction Era led directly to the situation we have today: where there are 2.2 million people behind bars – mostly people of color.

I vehemently oppose the Prison Industrial Complex and I certainly agree that the United States always has been oppressive to black people.

However, I don’t agree with documentarian Ava Duvernay’s theory. Her understandable anger about racism and her less understandable hatred of Republicans clouds her judgement.

If the 13th Amendment and systemic racism naturally led to overflowing prisons, then it would have happened a lot earlier. In 1970, the American prison population was around 300,000 – pretty much in line with the UK and Australia.

It wasn’t hatred of black men that turned the US into a prison state – it was love of money.

The law of supply and demand is terrific when the product is life-saving medicine or tasty beer. The law of supply and demand is a calamity when the product is incarceration. As soon as prisons became profitable for big companies, big problems were certain to follow.

The unholy union of money and prison began with vendors like the food-service giant Aramark earning lucrative contracts. It got worse when corporations like JC Penny and Victoria’s Secret began exploiting dirt cheap prison labor to make their clothing.

The final nail in the coffin of freedom, dignity, and common sense was hammered in 1983, when Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) was founded. The privatization of prisons ensured that the number of prison cells would skyrocket.

And, as my theory goes, if there are more profitable prison cells, it is a certainty that the system will create prisoners.

President Clinton (The First) signed the Omnibus Crime Bill of 1994. The heinous bill allotted $billions for new prisons and ensured that they got filled by enacting mandatory minimum sentences for many drug crimes and the “three strikes and you’re out” rule for repeat offenders.

Before long there were two million profitable prison cells filled with two million human beings who were conveniently labeled as criminals. That is the situation we face today.

And just who fills those cells? “13th” argues that it is people of color. I argue that it is the weakest and most vulnerable members of society: poor young men. It is certainly true that most prisoners are non-white. But that is more because of their inability to obtain a good lawyer than the color of their skin.

OJ got away with murder while Zeke from West Virginia got 20 years for selling meth. Sadly, most non-white men have way less money than OJ.

Racism is a problem. The fact that most black boys grow up without a father or a decent chance of finding a solid job is a bigger problem.

One thing that “13th” and I agree on is that it is difficult and dangerous to be a young black man in our society. I don’t claim to have the perfect solution. But I do know step one: close the prisons.

USA vs. China: Empires at War

 

China vs. USA: Empires at War

**1/2

 

They have 1.4 billion people. 200 nuclear warheads. The largest industrial economy. And an unquenchable desire to be the world’s #1 superpower.

A showdown is inevitable. World War III. The United States vs. China.

I absolutely do not believe that. China is our economic rival, not our enemy.

I am certain that the United States would be a better, happier, more egalitarian country today if we had never granted China Most Favored Nation status and become its largest trading partner. However, there is one positive thing about doing so much business with China. We aren’t going to go to war.

The militaristic kooks who made the documentary “China vs. USA: Empires at War” have a different take on the subject.

This is a well-thought-out and substantive film. It interviews experts from both sides of the Pacific to analyze China’s motivations and military might.

They explain in detail why China is a formidable enemy. History Channel viewers will enjoy the description of the different ways that Beijing is preparing for the great war to come.

20 years ago, the Chinese recognized that US aircraft carriers were a menace that they couldn’t contend with. So Beijing responded by building a fleet of stealthy diesel submarines.

It was clear that America had a huge advantage in satellite technology which allows our military to coordinate battles better than any foe. So China responded by creating satellite-disabling lasers that can temporarily send American generals back to the age of battery-powered walkie talkies.

I have no idea whether this is a real threat or sci-fi paranoia, but “China vs. USA” claims that China could detonate a nuclear bomb in the Pacific Ocean that would fry all electrical equipment in the area – rendering an entire American fleet completely helpless.

But why would China want to use its fancy weapons on us, you may ask? Because, the film argues, The United States is going to declare war on China when China invades Taiwan.

War with China. For Taiwan? Like heck we are.

I don’t have any idea what you think of the good folks of Taiwan. But I know darn well that you aren’t willing to sacrifice your son or grandson in a war over Taiwanese sovereignty.

And as little as we want war, China wants it even less.

We buy $500,000,000,000 in Chinese-made stuff per year. As much as I hate all of the deindustrialization and materialism that comes with our trade relationship with China, I have to admit that it acts as a guarantor of peace between our great nations.

The United States could do just fine without all of those imports (we’d start making iPhones and iPads in America and hopefully just quit buying all that other junk). China would, at best, fall into a terrible economic depression without its fix of half a trillion US dollars each year. More likely, the regime in Beijing would collapse a couple of months into the war.

“China vs. US: Empires at War” is an interesting movie about an important topic. But it is hilariously wrong.

Ida

Winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign Film 2015
“Ida”
**1/2

“Lord, grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.”
-St. Augustine of Hippo

It’s a shame that what was intuitive to a 4th Century North African dude is largely ignored by the Roman Catholic Church today.
The Church has taken a lot of heat for its sex crime cover up. But no one seems to ask why it is that so many Catholic clergy have a predilection for evil deviant sex.
To Saint Augustine, the answer was obvious: they didn’t have enough fun in their teens and 20s. As a young man in Roman Algeria, Augustine partied hard and womanized. When he got it all out of his system, he was ready to settle down, take the cloth, and become the second most influential writer in Christian history (behind Paul).
Basically, a man who takes his vow of celibacy without sewing his wild oats first thinks that he is more holy and disciplined than St. Augustine. Many of them are right. But some of the ones who are wrong become perverse pedophiles and destroy people’s lives.
“Ida” is the tale of a young Polish woman who isn’t going to make that mistake.
When we meet Ida (Agata Trzebuchowska) in 1962, she is about to become a nun. She is an orphan raised in a convent and has only known a life of stoic obedience.
Just before Ida is about to take her vows, the Abbess drops a bomb shell: Ida is Jewish and her parents were killed in World War II.
Intrepid Ida goes off into the world for the first time to track down her only living relative – her sassy, bitter lawyer Aunt. Quiet Ida and her angry aunt take a road trip to a small country town to confront the guys who murdered their family.
Most people think that the Holocaust happened at Auschwitz and Treblinka but that’s only partially true. “The Final Solution” isn’t just a catchy code name. Before the Concentration Camps were built, millions of Jews were killed right in their hometowns – mostly by their neighbors.
When German soldiers took over towns in Poland, Ukraine, and Belarus, they gave the locals a choice. They basically said: “you guys can kill the Jews around here and farm their land and steal their stuff. If you don’t, you won’t get any loot and we’ll be ticked off.”
The truth is that Nazi mass murder required the cooperation of the local population. That explains how virtually 100% of the Jews in Estonia were killed while over 99% of Danish and Swedish Jews survived the war. They steadfastly refused to turn on their Jewish neighbors. No wonder Bernie Sanders likes Scandinavians so much.
After digging up the bones of her parents and facing the harsh reality of death, poor Ida is ready to experience a little bit of life.
She goes out to a Warsaw jazz club and meets a suave young musician. Their affair is brief but emotionally satisfying. After getting a real taste of love and sex, Ida is ready to head back to the convent with confidence and take her vows.
I don’t quite get why “Ida” won the Academy Award. It has very little dialogue and is a little boring at times. I’m not sure I can even recommend the film to straight female viewers. There are a lot of scenes that are just tight shots of Ida as she slowly goes through her trauma and emotional awakening. Agata Trzebuchowska’s silent, beautiful, expressive face is literally half the movie.
It’s not my place to tell clergymen what they should and shouldn’t do. But I genuinely think that the world would be a better place if holy men went out of their way to enjoy a healthy sex life before trying to give up sexuality forever. If it’s good enough for Ida and St. Augustine, it’s good enough for your local Parish Priest.

The True Cost

The True Cost
**1/2

I’ll bet your wardrobe is pretty impressive. You’ve got a closet full of shirts on hangers. You’ve got multiple drawers full of clothes. You’ve got piles of old clothes you hardly wear anymore but you haven’t quite gotten around to giving away or throwing out.
Our society has an unnecessary abundance of clothing.
Just about everyone reading this newspaper has enough clothing to wear a different outfit every day this week. And if you can’t, there’s a decent chance that that is because you have recently gained or lost a significant amount of weight and you can’t fit into most of your old clothes anymore.
That is a decadent new luxury that would be completely alien to an American living just 100 years ago. We now have the freedom to gain fifty pounds and buy a whole new wardrobe while going into only a moderate amount of credit card debt.
Almost all of the clothing in 1960 we wore was made in America. Now, 97% our new garments are manufactured overseas.
The cause is obvious: globalization. The effect is obvious: cheaper and more abundant clothing. According to this documentary, “The True Cost” of this deluge of imported apparel is steep and disturbing.
Director Andrew Morgan spends almost the entire film overwhelming us with horror stories about the effects of the 21st Century fashion industry.
He tells us about the problems that we already know: the exploited factory laborers working miserable jobs for less than $1 an hour and the rickety Third World sweat shops where fires and building collapses kill hundreds every year.
And he informs us about the problems that I didn’t know. Apparently, the fashion industry is a hideous menace to the environment. “The True Cost” shows us that Ganges River in India has become a chemical-ridden sewer due to Chromium-spewing tanneries. It shows us that the rising demand for cheap cotton has turned farms into carcinogenic pesticide factories. The film is relentlessly dark and depressing.
Well, Mr. Morgan, I’m convinced: the current state of the fashion business is dreadful. What can we do to fix the problems?
This is where “The True Cost” comes up short. Morgan argues that the entire system of consumerism, materialism, and corporate capitalism needs to be overthrown. But he isn’t brave enough to suggest how. Or to propose what he thinks the system should be replaced with.
I don’t think we need a revolution. All we need is a little forced restraint.
We should find out how much it costs to create and sell an item of clothing in the United States while paying workers a living wage and giving basic respect to the environment. Then place an import tariff on the same item of clothing that is currently produced in the Third World so that the imported product is equally expensive.
The only negative consequence is that clothing will be twice the price. We might only be able to buy one more shirt next shopping trip instead of two. Look at your overflowing closet and drawers again. It really wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice.

Let the Fire Burn


Let the Fire Burn
**1/2

It’s a known fact that black men are targeted by the police. If you happen to be male and black, you are more likely to be harassed, beaten, arrested, and killed.
Is this unfair to black men? Obviously. Is it racist? Not necessarily. The majority of black men who are law abiding are being punished because a significant minority of the black community are violent criminals.
Let’s imagine we’re 20 years in the future: a new crime wave has hit the United States. The murder rate is skyrocketing. But it isn’t due to the black community, which has become significantly more peaceful and prosperous. Most of the killers are skinny bald middle-aged Jewish guys.
In this future, I would expect to be targeted and harassed by the police. Of course I would; I’d perfectly fit the profile of a killer.
The real question is: in this future scenario, would cops leave black guys alone because they no longer are more likely to be criminals than the population at large? Or would the criminal justice system continue to make life miserable for black men because America is intrinsically racist? Would they help black communities heal after generations of oppression? Or would they let the fire burn?
“Let the Fire Burn” is a frustratingly apolitical documentary about the life and dramatic death of the MOVE organization.
In the late 1970s and early 80s, MOVE was the kookiest commune in Philadelphia. It was half luddite cooperative – half revolutionary cult – and all crazy.
MOVE swore off modern machines and even electricity. They ate their food raw – even meat. The all-black commune kept their hair in dirty dreadlocks and wore a minimum of clothing. Their children were miserable and visibly starving.
Based on contemporary interviews, all the MOVE members had been thoroughly brainwashed by their charismatic leader John Africa. Whenever they were asked by the media to justify their nutty behavior, they answered that they were following John Africa’s grand revolutionary plan but they never gave details.
Whatever the plan was, it was not popular with their community. They bought a megaphone and announced loud profane threats to their neighbors at all hours of the night. MOVE members cut down trees from local parks and built an imposing-looking bunker on the roof of their town house – complete with sniper windows.
On May 13, 1985, the city had had enough. In an organized, military-style operation, the police cleared the neighborhood, tear-gassed the MOVE house, and fire-bombed the bunker. The documentary asserts that cops were stationed at the all the exits with machine guns to ensure that no one could escape. The plan wasn’t just to defeat MOVE – it was to kill them all.
Afterwards, the mayor defiantly announced that he had made the decision to “let the fire burn.” All but two MOVE members died in the blaze. And 65 neighboring homes were destroyed.
No one is defending the MOVE nut jobs; they were unarguably a menace to polite society. The question is whether the police would have had the authority to snuff them all out rather than arrest them had the MOVE commune been white.
And that, to this day, is the most contentious race issue in America: the increasingly clear fact that the police have the unwritten authority to kill black people without consequence.
There is no easy solution and there’s not even a way for us to fully understand the problem. Until that skinny bald Jew crime wave hits, there is no way I’ll ever know it feels to be a black man in America.