Sunday, April 28, 2013

We need a new word for people who work against the public trust within the boundaries of law; criticism of dismissing conspiracy theorists

To me, conspiracy theorizing is pretty weird because when you look at the definition of a conspiracy it's obvious we're surrounded by them once you strip out the risible language.  But it's hard to do because the risible language is built in.

A conspiracy is, according to, 1. an agreement to perform together an illegal, wrongful or subversive act, 2. a group of conspirators, 3. Law an agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime or accomplish a legal purpose through illegal action and 4. a joining or acting together, as if by sinister design.

That's . . . a pretty loaded definition because it leaves out of the realms of conspiracy anything that isn't illegal and even by the fourth definition, “as if by sinister design”. Conspiracy is, by a common dictionary, by definition at least sinister and usually illegal.

Going to, I tried to find a word that was like conspiracy but accounted for things that were not illegal – like the word whose definition is “people working together inside the law but against the public welfare”. In a note to the entry “collusion”, they note that “cooperation is always positive, collaboration is positive except in wartime (working with the enemy) and collusion is always negative (working together in secret for a dishonest purpose)”. Conspiracy is a synonym with collude.  There didn't seem to be anything like I was looking for.

Yet, I find that unsatisfying, too, because there are all kinds of behaviors that are legal but nevertheless highly manipulative, such as advertising and propaganda (which is just advertising with a political message we don't like, really – how is the manipulations of North Korea propaganda but what comes out of our smear-happy, negative campaigning, lie-athon that we call an electoral process NOT propaganda?). There just seems to be no word, other than conspiracy, to describe when a group of people, often totally legally and with legal ends, nevertheless engage in unethical behavior to achieve their ends.

So what do we call a group of people who legally lie (and often their lies form the very basis of law) to achieve their ends that are destructive and terrible yet totally legal?

To take a fairly extreme example, how does one talk about the lies and distortions used to start the Crusades. A letter from the Byzantine Emperor asking for mercenaries was turned into a lurid account of Turks murdering Christians and desecrating the tomb of Jesus. None of it was illegal. One could argue that the Catholic Church and various governments that supported the narrative of the Crusades were simply interpreting a complex political situation in terms that could be understood by their illiterate and uncultured knights and peasants.  Sure, it's specious reasoning, but you could make it and just barely not be laughably wrong.

Yet, somehow, the lies spread by Pope Urban II and the kings of Europe do not fit the definition of “conspiracy” because it wasn't illegal or subversive. What was it, then? Just religion?

But a lot of politics and business is like that. What they do is not technically illegal and, honest, there was no malice of intent. Even with the credit default swap stuff that tanked the economy in 2008. Not a conspiracy. Sure, there was a coordinated effort by every top bank in the world to sell as many credit default swaps as possible all to increase their own personal fortunes, but that's not a conspiracy! That's just business.

But it happens again and again. Every bubble in the history of the modern world has been engineered to benefit a few. Every war has it's winners, usually the guys who sell guns. Yet when a military contractor uses political influence to shape an aggressive foreign policy, it's not a conspiracy. Nothing either illegal nor subversive is going on. It's just politics.

There is a lacuna in our language then. If we use the word conspiracy to talk about political, religious and economic manipulation, we're called paranoid because the events we describe aren't illegal or subversive. There is no well-round word with which we can describe the legal forms of manipulation of our culture, business and politics that also describes the profundity with which the system is controlled by small cabals of like-minded individuals. Legally. Openly.

This really benefits the, oh, let's call them special interest groups that control our government. We can't really refer to their multifaceted, yet legal, manipulations of the public trust in language that does justice to the seriousness of their actions. And we can't talk about something unless we have words that substantially describe what it is we're talking about. In this lacuna of words, a lot of manipulation is not discussed. Worse, when people dare call it conspiracy – because the behavior resembles a conspiracy save for it's legality – the very idea that this kind of collusion occurs at all is attacked. People who bring up the concentration of power in a tiny group of people's hands are just crazy conspiracy theorists.

We need a word to describe the legal manipulations of the system against the public trust, one that conveys the seriousness of the issue but does not bring to mind the specter of conspiracy. Until we have such a word, the people out there who are acting together, within the system, but against the public trust will have an easy go at it because we can't even TALK about them.

Googling "sorcery drugs" and the weird fundie Christian BS I found

I recently had opportunity to google the term “sorcery drugs” because I am running a role-playing game which will feature a magical drug.  (FYI, if you google "magic drug", you basically get a ton of stuff about mushrooms.) It was pretty interesting. For a number of years, I have broadly theorized that the hostility that our society has towards psychedelic drugs is because they give a feeling of spirituality that religion doesn't; therefore, religion is threatened by psychedelic drugs because if you can get a more legitimately spiritual feeling LSD or psylocybin than religion, well, why the hell do we need popes and reverends and priests?

The first post is titled “Let Us Reason”. It does nothing of the sort. It creates a specious argument that the Greek word pharmakia is identical to “sorcery”. This sorta ignores that the Greek word for sorcery is “μαγεία”, or “mageia” from which we get the word magic, duh, going way back to the Persian priestly caste, the magi. Pretty much all the Greek words for magic have this root. The word for drugs (φάρμακα), is etymologically unrelated to the word that Greeks, ancient or modern, used for magic.

However, crazy fundie Christian websites rarely use something as irrelevant as facts deter from their screeds.

If it was just one website, I wouldn't give a damn. But the second page is “does sorcery refer to drug use – Bibleforums Christian Message Board” and then “Drugs and Sorcery in the Last Days”. Then, “Drugs and the Bible” then “Psychotropic Drugs = Pharmakia = Sorcery – Talk Jesus”. Then, a little hidden, is “Pharmakeia: the Abuse of Drugs” but the Google highlight reads “Pharmakeia (sorcery) . . .”, and then “Drugs & the Christian – The Victorious Network” . . .

I think I've made my point. When you google “sorcery drugs”, the first page is almost entirely discussion about how taking psychedelic drugs, in particular, is the same as Biblical sorcery.

As I said, this is linguistically ridiculous. While medicine and magic, in primitive societies, has considerable overlap, the Greek word for sorcery has no particular magical connotation. It's a bunch of bullshit. The ancient Greeks knew medicinal drugs had no particular connection to sorcery. Not to go too much into ancient Greek magical beliefs, but they heavily involved invoking gods in distinction to medical drugs which worked regardless of beliefs, prayers or invocations.

It also demonstrates the theological preposterousness of any Biblical interpretation. What they're grappling with is intoxication. The Bible is pretty much against intoxication but all the Biblical references are pretty wine-based. You read the Bible in a fairly literal sense, the only mind-altering drug they mention is wine. It's like the Iron Age Hebrews were ignorant of any other mind-altering substance. So, a fairly “normal” reading of the Bible could easily lead one to think that the only drug that the Bible talks about is wine while it is equally clear that one can be intoxicated through numerous channels.

So what is a crazy Bible person to do? The less crazy of them would go, “Well, the Bible was written by Iron Age people ignorant of drugs other than wine, but the reasoning for forbidding intoxication should logically extend to all intoxicants”. But this creates a problem for people who think the Bible is a divine work (not to mention the bit in Genesis when God says that we own all the plants and stuff). While it's true that Iron Age Hebrews were ignorant of the numerous ways to get intoxicated, GOD would be in on all the ways one can can get fucked up. Yet, the Bible is written as if no one involved had any idea that there were other intoxicants. To admit that one must extend the reasoning of the Bible towards things about which the Bible does not say sorta says that God wrote a shitty book that didn't take into account future discoveries of intoxicants, that the Bible is not perfect because God knew that you could get fucked up on cannabis, mushrooms and eventually stuff like LSD and MDMA. If you believe that the Bible is perfect, this is a problem.

Not to mention that it's just a little stupid because none of us speak classical Greek. Even if the words for drugs and sorcery, in the Greek language, were the same two thousand years ago, it's just idiotic to try to say that ancient Greek drugs/sorcery have more than a trivial similarity to modern drug culture, pharmacological or black market. So what if a dead language used as one word something that we not have two words to describe? As Nietzsche said, it is interesting that when God wished to speak, He learned Greek and did not learn it better. To wit, the problem of interpretation inevitably remains. Presumably God would know that two thousand years later that classical Greek would be as dead as Elvis and He would see to it his sacred, perfect book did not degrade in meaning as time passed. Yet, it has. It isn't like it would have been a real problem for the Bible to say “sorcery, including the consumption of any intoxicants . . . .” The Bible is not that clear, though. It is written as if the writers honestly do not know there are other intoxicants than wine.

It's much easier, then, to say that the Bible is TOTALLY RIGHT by equating a Greek word for drugs to also mean sorcery. That way, the Biblical injunction against magic applies to drugs THEREFORE the Bible is still perfect.

This is clearly tortured reasoning, but if you're a believer in the inerrant truth of the Bible, you've got to do a lot of weird things to justify your beliefs that run contrary to reason and fact. The truth is there are dozens of drugs that can give a person a spiritual experience vastly more significant than any amount of religion. Most people can pray for a thousand years and never get the same feeling as a few hundred micrograms of LSD. This is profoundly subversive to an organization that is ideologically so delicate that they try to argue that the Greek word for drugs is the same as sorcery.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

More violence in Boston -- time to repeal the Second Amendment

A cop dead.  Explosions over at MIT.

Apropos my previous post, I think simplest solution is to repeal the Second Amendment so people like the NRA and all the lousy scumbags who think their metal dicks are more important than human lives don't have a shred of law to hide behind.  Repeal it and then criminalize all guns, round up all privately held firearms and destroy them.  Then jack up the penalties for gun violence sky high and every time we come across another gun, destroy it.

The idea that all this mayhem and carnage is somehow protecting our freedoms is evil and silly.

Fuck the Second Amendment

I'm tired of the Second Amendment.

Not just the Second Amendment, really, it's just words on paper, but the attitude that its defenders have: that because of the words on paper, it's okay if 30,000 Americans a year – counting murders, suicides and accidental shootings – die.  That somehow the higher principles of the or this piece of paper are worth an entire large town being wiped out every year. 

Worse is the terrible inversion of reasoning – that somehow, despite thirty thousand gun deaths a year, it would somehow be worse if there weren't guns in our society.  That criminals, now the only people with guns, would go on unstoppable murder rampages, as if we somehow don't have murder rampages caused by gun ownership!

It's just so . . . despicable that people think clinging to their penis substitutes is worth more than the lives of thirty thousand Americans every year.  I'm tired of hearing about the Second Amendment.  Fuck the Second Amendment.  It's not worth it.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My feelings about psychiatry as of this moment

I have a growing ethical dilemma with psychiatry.  I believe that the field, on whole, has a huge bias against treatment that the patients might enjoy.  So strong is this bias that they will fail to treat serious illnesses even when the life of the patient is at risk.

This is one of those things for which I can't find any studies.  If anyone out there can, pro or con, let me know.  This is all based on personal experience and a series of thoughts I believe are fairly original (or at least original for me).

The specific thing that moved my mind in this area is a friend of mine might kill himself.  For years he has struggled with serious illness, rages and suicidal depressions.  He is being treated but he faces two challenges: the government doesn't want to admit his problem is totally debilitating and his doctors are out of treatment options.  While his treatment has helped with rage, it hasn't done as much with depression and he has a whole host of pretty awful side effects.  Since his doctors are at their wits end, he's looking forward to living his whole life this way and he says it's awful.  He's thinking about taking it into his own hands and killing himself.

As I believe in euthanasia, I have to admit that maybe it's time for him to kill himself.  If he finds life unlivable as it is and there is no serious chance that it will be improved, how can I honestly say that he should continue living?  Yes, I would be crushed by this but . . . I've had friends kill themselves and at least this time I'll know why.  I won't be thinking that maybe there is something I could have done.  I would miss him forever, but I would heal.  There is very good reason to think that he will not.  I'm not that selfish.  I very much want him to live, but would understand if he died.

This made me think, "There's got to be something."  And . . . there might be.

There are actually a host of drugs that could potentially help him -- opiates, ketamine, LSD, MDMA, cannabis and chemically related drugs with names like 5-MEO-MIPT.  All of them have shown themselves to be useful in various studies of depression and anxiety, in particular, though none of them have had the kind of study their effects deserve.  It is superficially easy to find studies that are very suggestive that these drugs might work where others have failed.

The only problem seems to be that they are thought to be recreational drugs.  They make the user feel pleasure.  However, this is not a reason to deny prescription because, in other areas, that isn't the case.

To me, this makes it appear as though the psychiatric field denies potentially useful drugs to patients who need them.  This is, I strongly believe, incredibly unethical and downright cruel.

Not only are these drugs being denied to people like my friend who could well need them to survive, but to everyone else.  I've never known anyone who took any drug that has side effects that might be considered pleasurable with the exception of dextroamphetamines like Adderall and Ritalin.

The example I'm going to use here is opiates because they are commonly prescribed for other things of far less seriousness than suicidal depression.  They are very commonly prescribed for even moderate pain.  The last time I got one, it was because I was having trouble sleeping after I strained my back.  You're likely to get it for pretty much any invasive dental procedure.  The odds are that most people who will ever read this have been prescribed hydrocodone or a near relative.

My point being, opiates can be prescribed and they were commonly prescribed in situations where one's pain is far, far less than suffered by my friend (or, indeed, by myself during periods of suicidal depression during the first year or so I lived in Miami).

Here's where it starts getting, in my opinion, crazy.  Until the late 1950s, opiates were the most common treatment for depression, though.  When tricyclic antidepressants were introduced, though, opiates went out of use.

Go and look up tricyclic antidepressants.  They work but . . . hardly 100% of the time and they come with a lot of side effects.  Nowadays, tricyclics aren't used hardly at all having been replaced by the more effective selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which are also not perfectly reliable and come with their own side effects.

And it isn't that opiates don't work.  It's reasonably easy to find studies that demonstrate that opiates work . . . well, often very well.  In the mid-1990s, a study found that half of the patients treated wtih buprenorphine went from severely depressed to basically normal.  Most of the remainder had some improvement and only one person got worse.  This was published in the Journal of Clincal Psychopharmacology, vol 15 (1), 1995, pg. 49-57.

In 1999, The American Journal of Psychiatry published a paper, Treatment Augmentation With Opiates in Severe and Refractory Major Depression.  They also concluded that for at least some cases, opiate treatments are a good idea.  It's pretty easy to find such research.

Of course, this was all known.  For hundreds of years, opiates have been used to treat depression.  In America, right up to the late 1950s.  Heck, it's sort of a no-brainer.  Opiates make you feel very good.

I am certainly not saying that opiates should be the first course of treatment.  For most patients, normal antidepressants will work just fine.  However, to go back to my friend, he has severe and refractory major depression.  His depression is basically untreatable.  The suffering is so bad that he's seriously considering killing himself.  Since we know it works very well on at least half of the patients like him, why hasn't his doctor prescribed any opiates?

In those kinds of situations, what's the harm in trying?  After five years of treatment, I think it's safe to say that he's not just pretending to score some drugs.  Good lord, going to a doctor for opiates is probably the least effective way to do it.  You've got to get an appointment, get a prescription and then deal with the delays of the pharmacy.  Right now, with scant effort, I could get opium for about $40 a gram.  It wouldn't be too hard for me grow the stuff in my house, where no one could see it.  At a guess, it would take around $300 in hardware to get it rolling and poppy seeds are cheaply acquired (something like $10 for a hundred).  It isn't hard to make a small scale opium poppy field right in a one's closet.  No matter how you do it, opium just isn't expensive.  (The medical forms are, but opium is not, it's just flower sap, after all.)

I'm not actually advising that, though.  Because of all the drugs I listed as having useful psychiatric effects, opiates are easily the most dangerous.  They are physically addictive.  With them, you especially need a physician's supervision to avoid addiction.  (As to the rest?  Hell, experiment away.  I'd suggest some cannabis, first, as it's easy to get and reasonably inexpensive.  In many places, furthermore, it's legal to obtain for a variety of conditions.)

It is certainly my experience that psychiatrists are insensitive, even downright cruel, with their medications.  When I got to Miami, for about a year I was seriously, deeply depressed at regular intervals.  At no point was any kind of pain mitigation offered.  No drugs were offered that would effect my immediate pain.  The drugs I was given would routinely take weeks or even months to take effect, during which I just suffered.  And because the drugs were not the right drugs, all I did was suffer.

Indeed, I had been using Adderall successfully in California but the first doctor here in Miami took me off it because it was "too much dopamine".  This ignored the fact I was satisified with the drugs I was on at the time. 

I mean, I went in knowing that I was having a serious anxiety problem.  Anxiety is a bigger problem than depression for me, by far, and I was under all kinds of stressors.  I was freaking out because I was trying to buy a house in the vicious Miami market.  There was a cause.  I knew the cause.  I wanted to be treated for anxiety.  Instead, I got taken off one of the drugs that was really working for depression.  Eventually, it got to the point where my previous diagnosis for depression and anxiety was replaced with type 2 bipolar!  All I wanted was some relief from acute pain and somewhere along the line, my diagnosis changed.

More recently, I went to my psychiatrist and my primarily complain was that the drugs I was on were making mentally and physically exhausted.  I couldn't write.  It was driving me crazy and it was a huge stressor in my life.  Since we had been in the house for a while, outside anxiety stressors were gone, so I wasn't anxious, anymore, but the lousy drugs I was taking were exhausting me.  The problems with my exhaustion were not addressed.  My psychiatrist simply tried to refine the bipolar medication.

Mind you, NONE of the bipolar medication would make me less tired.  A common side effect of all the bipolar medication I was on - lithium bicarbonate, buspirone and clonezapam - is fatigue.

I was not depressed.  I was not anxious.  I was TIRED.  What happened was that my lithium bicarbonate and buspirone were increased . . . the very things I believed (correctly, as it turns out) that were making me tired.

There is, however, a fairly commonly prescribed drug for dealing with precisely this kind of condition.  It is a drug I had been on before, liked and wanted to be on, again.  Yeah, Adderall.  But rather than prescribe that, or anything else that might actually address my fatigue, I got more drugs that made me tired.

I don't think my psychiatrist is a bad doctor, mind you.  I believe he is trapped by the bigotry of his education.  You just don't prescribe drugs that make a patient feel good, or only as a last resort.  Just like with my suicidal friend.  It is better for us to SUFFER than to take drugs that make us feel good.  Even that is the whole reason we go in the first place - so we can feel good.  That's pretty sick if you ask me.

This puts me in a conundrum.  Should I go back to my psychiatrist?  I honestly do not know.  I am finding the profession unethical and, worse, ineffective.  Why should I waste money and time with a profession that cripples itself with prescribing drugs?  That is structured to hurt patients rather than commit to treatments that are effective but unpopular?  I don't like supporting those kinds of businesses when I don't have to . . . and I do not.  I figured it out.  If I stopped going to my psychiatrist and simply obtained drugs illegally, it wouldn't be that much more expensive.  Then I could research and decide for myself what a truly effective treatment would be.  On the other hand, I don't reject that medical psychiatry doesn't have a powerful pharmacology.  Most of the time, it works great.  I think if we addressed my real psychiatric problems (which I am increasingly believing to be primarily anxiety, which has proven intractable to treat in my case) that medical psychopharmacology could be just the thing.  But do I want to do business with such a manifestly unethical group of people? 

In the short term, I'm going to talk to my psychiatrist about it, but my guess is that he'll simply disgree with me due to the bigotry of his education and profession.  But I hope I'm wrong.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The documentary Technocalpys not well thought out, I think

I got about six minutes into a documentary about transhumanism, Technocalpys, before stopping.

I'll probably be posting, soon, about how we have a bias towards technologies that are expensive, hard, fast and energetic and how this limits our understanding of technology, but this was definitely on my mind when watching, y'know, the first six minutes of the Technocalpys.

What really lost me is that some talking head was saying that humans are beginning to cheat nature's limitations. Which . . . is very much baffling to me because humans have been reshaping themselves for thousands of years. Pretty much the first time a person decided that they didn't want the body that nature and their own unconsidered habits gave them – the first time a human set about exercise – the decision was made to transform us from the coincidence of our genetic inheritance and circumstance into something different. Likewise, the first time a human set out to consciously discover something, they started the process of education which created a vastly different kind of person.  To a paleolithic human, we are transhuman.

Sure, compared to the future, the ttechniques humans use to improve themselves will be considered crude. Much in the same way an abacus is crude compared to a laptop. But the continuum is there – the ancient Greeks invented progressive weight training, a conscious way to develop and improve physical strength. They decided to be more than nature made them, to be stronger, to be better, shaped by their own conscious desires. To me, that's the pivot upon which transhumanism moves and it started moving long ago.

The bias is, as I hinted above, primarily the bias we have for technologies that are expensive, hard, fast and energetic. For instance, I believe that steroids and human growth hormones intermediary between simply progressive exercise and cybernetic or genetic manipulation for improved strength. If you take steroids intelligently, you become slightly superhuman. If you take them intelligently combined with progressive exercise techniques, you might as well be superhuman. Seriously, take a look at the abilities of professional athletes and the way their abilities tend to increase over time. Much of that improvement is due to various performance enhancing drugs.  Compared to the athletes of yesteryear, modern athletes are slightly superhuman.

But, y'know, that's cheap. It is also hard on a personal level. I suppose that we also tend to approve of technologies that make things easier for us. I'm sure the first robot bodies won't actually be better than the bodies of elite athletes – the primary difference will be that to be an elite athlete takes an awful lot of work whereas, in people's minds, having your consciousness transferred to a robot will be relatively quick and painless.

At any rate, when I realized that the documentary was going to be so tone deaf as to make no connection between historical and present efforts to reshape our bodies and minds past their natural states, I realized that it had nothing to teach me or, I think, too much interesting to say.  

They also used a lot of Burning Man imagery and I've never met anyone who's gone to Burning Man who is capable of seriously talking about futurism.  Just sayin'.

Thoughts on watching The Hunger Games movie

I realized another way that The Hunger Games novel, the first one, didn't work for me. I was thinking about this because I was watching the Rifftrax of The Hunger Games. Anyway, uh, Peeta lives.

The Rifftrax guys were going on pretty hard about their probable impending deaths and, yes, exactly, their deaths were probably impending. Now, really, if you look at it, Katniss – a skilled hunter and gifted archer – is the precise kind of person who has a good chance of winning the games and, in fact, she's the odds on favorite to win at the start of the game. For her to win, okay. Even for Peeta to win, okay, he is a strong guy, physically fit, clever, so forth and so on. But what are the odds of BOTH of them winning? Something that had never before happened in 73 years of Hunger Games? Basically zero, of course.

But then, thinking more (as I was watching the movie), I realized having Peeta win was narrative cowardice. I know that part of what the books were supposed to be about were Katniss' feelings for both Peeta and Gale. But what's better, narratively? A weak love triangle (Gale is barely in the books and don't expect to see a bunch of him in the movies, either) or Katniss having to kill Peeta to win. Think about that. At the climax, Peeta and Katniss have the drop on each other. Neither one moves. Cut to them being told if there is no winner of the Hunger Games, their families will be executed. (You need to do something like that so Katniss remains sympathetic. She doesn't kill for the selfish reason that she wants to live, but has to make a Sophie's choice.) Then, Peeta . . . does nothing and Katniss kills him. At which point she realizes that he did, in fact, love her and none of it was a lie, and she murdered him for the entertainment of the Capitol.

OK, here's the real kicker, too. You could still have the love triangle. Rather than Gale not really being in the next two books, you can put him in there all you want and he would be competing with Peeta's ghost.  It is notoriously hard to win against a ghost.  It would have also allowed Peeta and Katniss to develop real feelings for each other in The Hunger Games.

The book and movie both tried to make you feel the horror of the Hunger Games by killing the little black girl, Rue. I . . . didn't like that in either the book of the movie. Yeah, good going, put in black people to be killed so white people feel guilty. Not just the little girl but also Cinna. Jesus fucking Christ, really? You're really just going to put black people in to be killed so white people can save the world? Fuck you.

Anyway, that's how they tried to drive home the horror of the Games. But the little girl we barely know so her death means little. For other plot reasons, they should keep it in – in particular because it also shows that Katniss is making a connection with the people and is becoming a symbol – but it didn't really drive in the horror of the games. What would do that is killing someone we, the audience, has come to like rather than someone we had barely seen. To put Katniss in the situation of having to kill this really nice guy who drive the horror home in a big way.

By having them both survive, well, it was chicken. And weakens the overall story. It was a forced on happy ending, yay, the good guys win, which was inappropriate given the material of the book and movie.


I was also just struck, again, over the general stupidity of the games. The Hunger Games is literally a show where children are forced to murder each other. Worse, the richest districts have ringers – they train kids from a young age to do nothing but win the Games. So for districts 1 and 2, they have volunteer ringers. So, not only do they win most of the time, when they lose, well, they were volunteers. The other ten districts have kids selected by lot, who generally watch their children get humiliated and butchered by the kids from districts 1 and 2.

Like, whose idea was that? Because, let me tell you, it takes a LOT less provocation than seventy-four years of graphic child murder for the amusement of the ruling class to spark a revolution among oppressed people. Every time a child is murdered, that whole family turns instantly and irrevocably anti-government. Sure, most of them won't be hardcore about it, but some will be. That's tens of thousands of people ranging from merely committed to hating the government to actively seeking it's destruction. Not even counting those who are equally committed simply over their horror and disgust over children being forced to murder each other for the amusement of the capitol.

It doesn't even take a lot of thinking to work this one through. Riots started in LA because Rodney King's attackers were exonerated in court. King lived. The living conditions in South LA aren't nearly as bad as in most districts. Uprisings would be constant, every district would be littered with resistance cells constantly plotting the overthrow of the government. The districts would be under constant and massive police violence – we're talking constant ID checks, weapons checks, cops kicking in doors, public executions, the whole lot, if you're committed to something as spectacularly stupid as the Hunger Games.

Yeah, yeah, the author says (in the book, if you just watch the movie you have no such knowledge) that a district was destroyed and that suppressed the revolution.  Except that doesn't really work.  It often creates addition opposition because then the people more forcefully believe that it is a fight of life or death.  It wasn't the destruction of Fallujah that stopped Iraqi resistance to US occupation.  It was the US getting out of Iraq, first of pulling back to our bases and then massively reducing our troop presence.  The same was true of the US in Vietnam.  Who districts were wiped out, two million Vietnamese were killed, but even after three decades of fighting overwhelmingly more powerful countries -- the Japanese, the French, the US -- they still found the will to fight.  So, no, that's not really sufficient, either.

This confirms that it's really hard to make a plot.  But it makes me realize something else, too.  It's really hard to understand a plot.  I hate to say this, but it sorta looks like plot doesn't matter very much, even in plot driven stories.