Monday, October 31, 2016
theconversation | But of course events are unfolding in the world outside the hypernormal narrative of business as usual: the well-documented forces unleashed by the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, the ongoing extinction and displacement of countless species, warming and acidifying oceans, deforestation and arctic melting.
These forces are the product of industrial society and capitalism, now exacerbated by the demands of a globalised consumerism. We know that the practices and pastimes that make up these societies, including frequent and long-haul flying, are unsustainable. Every government leader in the world knows this. But the psychological and social processes we engage in to avoid confronting the implications of climate change are now well documented in the social sciences – as individual and collective forms of denial.
It is even claimed that the closer a threatening event, the more manically we defend existing worldviews and associated ways of life. There is no reason to assume that these dynamics are any less prevalent in our leaders and decision-makers in business, government and trade unions.
These dynamics of denial and displacement are precisely those that reflect and maintain a state of hypernormalisation. So airport expansion can be heralded unequivocally as “momentous”, “correct” and “bold” in the same week that global concentrations of CO2 pass 400 parts per million. It is a policy move which simply does not make sense … unless we are operating in an atmosphere of hypernormalisation.
Defending it on behalf of our “economic future” is a grotesquely comic perpetuation of that fakery. If it goes ahead, it is likely that history will judge the expansion of Heathrow as an act of collusive madness, a desperate attempt to add another coat to the painted theatre set of the hypernormal.
NYTimes | It’s hard to imagine that any city in North America will escape the effects of climate change within the next 25 years.
But some will be better positioned than others to escape the brunt of “drought, wildfire, extreme heat, extreme precipitation, extreme weather and hurricanes.”
Those were some of the climate change-related threats listed by Benjamin Strauss, who focuses on climate impacts at Climate Central, an independent nonprofit research collaboration of scientists and journalists.
Dr. Strauss, 44, identified cities where people could settle in the next two decades if they are aiming to avoid those threats.
“Cities are certainly all going to be livable over the next 25 years, but they’ll be increasingly feeling the heat,” Dr. Strauss said, adding that political action could help cities mitigate the effects of climate change.
I also spoke with David W. Titley, 58, a professor of meteorology at Penn State University, and Katharine Hayhoe, 44, a professor of political science at Texas Tech University who works with cities to build resilience to climate risks.
Just because a city isn’t mentioned within this piece does not mean it is not a good bet. My advice: If you’re looking for a place to live, pay attention to the qualities of the cities more than the specific locations.
All three emphasized that while certain cities were better bets, their safety was relative.
“I don’t care if you found the safest place in the U.S.,” Dr. Titley said. “We’re all going to pay, we’re all going to suffer that economic disruption, we’re all going to pay for that relocation.”
bloomberg | World leaders have started to generate some real optimism with their efforts to address global climate change. What’s troubling, though, is how far we remain from getting carbon emissions under control -- and how much wishful thinking is still required to believe we can do so.
The Paris agreement on climate change has garnered the national signatories needed to go into force on Nov. 4. Some economists see it as a promising framework for cooperation among many different countries, especially if those not pulling their weight suffer penalties such as trade sanctions. There’s even talk of aiming for the more ambitious goal of keeping global temperatures within 1.5 degrees Celsius or less of their pre-industrial level, as opposed to the currently agreed 2 degrees. Meanwhile, another major international deal has been reached to phase out greenhouse gases used in refrigeration systems, and solar energy technology continues its rapid advance.
For all the progress, though, the gap between what needs to happen and what is happening remains large. Worse, it’s growing.
Consider, for example, how far the planet remains from any of the carbon emission trajectories in which -- according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- global warming would remain below 2 degrees. Even in the most lenient scenarios, we would have to be cutting net emissions already. Yet under the pledges countries have made in the Paris framework, emissions will keep increasing sharply through at least 2030.
The gap is probably even bigger than the chart suggests. As climate scientists Kevin Anderson and Glen Peters argue, an element of magical thinking has crept into the IPCC projections. Specifically, they rely heavily on the assumption that new technologies will allow humans to start sucking carbon out of the atmosphere on a grand scale, resulting in large net negative emissions sometime in the second half of this century. This might happen, but we don’t know how to do it yet.
Sunday, October 30, 2016
unz | According to the mainstream media, in a recent speech in West Palm Beach, Donald Trump finally completely lost it. Sawing the air with his tiny hands in a unmistakeably Hitlerian manner, he spat out a series of undeniably hateful anti-Semitic code words … like “political establishment,” “global elites” and, yes, “international banks.” He even went so far as to claim that “corporations” and their (ahem) “lobbyists” have millions of dollars at stake in this election, and are trying to pass the TTP, not to benefit the American people, but simply to enrich themselves. He then went on to accuse the media of collaborating with “the Clinton machine,” presumably to benefit these “global elites” and “international banks” and “lobbyists.”
Now, a lot of folks didn’t immediately recognize the secret meanings of these fascistic code words, and so mistakenly assumed that “global elites” referred to the transnational capitalist ruling classes, and that “lobbyists” referred to actual lobbyists, and that “banks” meant … well … you know, banks. As it turned out, this was completely wrong. None of these words actually meant what they meant, not in anti-Semitic CodeSpeak. So the mainstream media translated for us. “Political establishment” meant “the Jews.” “Global elites” also meant “the Jews.” “Banks” meant “Jews.” “Lobbyists” meant “Jews.” Even “corporate media,” meant “Jews.” Apparently, Trump’s entire speech was a series of secret dog-whistle signals to his legions of neo-Nazi goons, who, immediately following Clinton’s victory, are going to storm out of their hidey holes, frontally attack the US military, overthrow the US government, and, yes, you guessed it … “kill the Jews.”
OK, maybe I’m exaggerating the mainstream media’s reaction just a little bit. Or maybe Trump’s speech really was that fascistic. Judge for yourself. Read the transcript. (NPR offers a complete version of it here.) Then compare the reactions of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Washington Post, The Inquirer, The Guardian, and other leading broadsheets, and magazines and blogs like Mother Jones, Forward, Slate, Salon, Vox, Alternet, and a host of others, most of which rely on Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League and former Special Assistant to the President, as their authoritative source on Trumpian cryptology. (Mr. Greenblatt, incidentally, should know better, given the treatment he has received from hard-line Zionist publications for refusing to demonize Black Lives Matter, and for “taking sides against” the State of Israel.)
Look, I’m not defending Donald Trump, who I consider a self-aggrandizing idiot and a soulless huckster of the lowest order, and whose supporters include a lot of real anti-Semites, and racists, and misogynists, and other such creeps. I’m simply trying to point out how the corporate media have, for months, been playing the same hysterical tune like an enormous Goebbelsian keyboard instrument, and how millions of Americans are singing along (as they were before the invasion of Iraq, which posed no threat to the USA , but which according to the media had WMDs), and how terribly fucking disturbing that is. In case you didn’t instantly recognize it, the name of the tune is “This guy is Hitler!” and it isn’t the short vulgarian fingers of Donald Trump that are tickling the ivories. And no, it isn’t “the Jews” either. It’s the corporate media, and the corporations that own them, and the rest of the global capitalist ruling classes … in other words, those “global elites.”
The thing I find particularly disturbing is how these rather mundane observations — i.e., (a) that a global ruling class exists, (b) that it’s primarily corporate in character, (c) that this class is pursuing itsinterests and not the interests of sovereign states — how such observations are being stigmatized as the ravings of unhinged anti-Semites. This stigmatization is not limited to Trumpists. Anyone to the left of Clinton is now, apparently, an anti-Semite. For example, Roger Cohen, in The New York Times, riding the tsunami of condemnation of the insidious verbiage of Trump’s West Palm speech,executed an extended smear-job on Jeremy Corbyn and his “Corbynistas” (they’re fond of coining these epithets, the media), denouncing their virulent “anti-Americanism,” “anti-Capitalism,” “anti-globalism,” and “anti-Semitic anti-Zionism.”
Which, let me hasten to add, and stress, and underscore, and repeatedly emphasize, is not to imply that the Labour Party, or the British Left, or the American Left, or any other Left, is anti-Semitism-free. Of course not. There are anti-Semites everywhere. That isn’t the point. Or it isn’t my point.
My point is that this stigmatization campaign is part of a much larger ideological project, one that has little to do with Trump, or Jeremy Corbyn, or their respective parties. Smearing one’s political opponents is nothing new, of course, it’s as old as the hills. But what we’re witnessing is more than smears. As I proposed in these pages back in July, political dissent is being gradually pathologized (i.e., stigmatized as aberrant or “abnormal” behavior, as opposed to a position meriting discussion). Consider the abnormalization of Sanders, back when he was talking about “banks,” “global elites,” and other things that matter, or the media’s portrayal of British voters as racists in the wake of the Brexit referendum. And, yes, the charges being leveled against Trump, much as we might despise the man. Anti-Semitism, inciting violence, paranoid conspiracy theorizing, insurrection, treason, et cetera — these are not legitimate arguments one needs to counter with superior arguments; they are symptoms of deviations from a norm, signs of criminality or pathology, which is increasingly how the corporate ruling classes are dismissing anyone who attempts to challenge them.
RT | Israel has condemned a “shameful” event hosted by the British House of Lords in which Jews were blamed for the Holocaust and Israel was compared to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
The session marked the launch of the Balfour Apology Campaign ahead of the Balfour Declaration centenary. The 1917 declaration pledged British support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
A spokesperson for the Israeli embassy said the gathering “gave voice to racist tropes against Jews and Israelis alike.”
According to the Times, an audience member was applauded after suggesting Hitler only decided to kill Jews after being provoked by anti-German protests led by a rabbi, Stephen Wise, in New York.
“[He] made the boycott on Germany, the economic boycott… which antagonized Hitler, over the edge, to then want to systematically kill Jews wherever he could find them.”
The speaker also said Rabbi Wise told the New York Times in 1905 there were “6 million bleeding and suffering reasons to justify Zionism.” This quote is often used by Holocaust deniers to suggest the figure of 6 million Jews later killed by the Nazis was a myth.
The audience member – reportedly a member of the anti-Zionist strictly Orthodox Neturei Karta sect – also compared Israel to IS.
“Just as the so-called Jewish state in Palestine doesn’t come from Judaism. This Islamic State in Syria is nothing with Islam. It is a perversion of Islam just as Zionism is a perversion of Judaism.”
Another audience member said, to applause: “If anybody is anti-Semitic, it’s Israelis themselves.”
Saturday, October 29, 2016
ourfiniteworld | The very thing that should be saving us–technology–has side effects that bring the whole system down.
The only way we can keep adding technology is by adding more capital goods, more specialization, and more advanced education for selected members of society. The problem, as we should know from research regarding historical economies that have collapsed, is that more complexity ultimately leads to collapse because it leads to huge wage disparity. (See Tainter; Turchin and Nefedov.) Ultimately, the people at the bottom of the hierarchy cannot afford the output of the economy. Added debt at lower interest rates can only partially offset this problem. Governments cannot collect enough taxes from the large number of people at the bottom of the hierarchy, even though the top 1% may flourish. The economy tends to collapse because of the side effects of greater complexity.
Our economy is a networked system, so it should not be surprising that there is more than one way for the system to reach its end.
I have described the problem that really brings down the economy as “too low return on human labor,” at least for those at the bottom of the hierarchy. The wages of the non-elite are too low to provide an adequate standard of living. In a sense, this is a situation of too low EROEI: too low return on human energy. Most energy researchers have been looking at a very different kind of EROEI: a calculation based on the investment of fossil fuel energy. The two kinds of EROEI are related, but not very closely. Many economies have collapsed, without ever using fossil fuel energy.
While what I call “fossil fuel EROEI” was a reasonable starting place for an analysis of our energy problems back in the 1970s, the calculation now gets more emphasis than it truly deserves. The limit we are reaching is a different one: falling return on human labor EROEI, at least for those who are not among the elite. Increasing wage disparity is becoming a severe problem now; it is the reason we have very divisive candidates running for political office, and many people in favor of reduced globalization.
Friday, October 28, 2016
theoccidentalobserver | For the record, I started out on the left during the 1960s madness and only came to my present views after a lot of reading. Because I was intellectually on the left, the whole thrust of my work beginning in the 1980s was on thinking about culture from an evolutionary perspective and how culture could trump evolution. My first interest was in understanding European family patterns, particularly what Richard Alexander called socially imposed monogamy, where the emphasis was on how the mating patterns of wealthy, powerful males were regulated by social pressures emanating from powerful institutions and lower status males. (This work eventually emphasized both culture and our unique biological heritage.) Evolutionary psychology tends to theorize in a vacuum in which sexual behavior is determined by evolved modules, with no consideration of how social/cultural processes involving conflicts of interest over mating can affect the actual mating behavior of even very powerful individuals (like European monarchs). Because of this interest in the social regulation of mating, it was a short step to the idea that groups could regulate themselves — whence the idea of cultural group selection which forms the basis of A People That Shall Dwell Alone. Much of PTSDA describes how traditional Jewish groups regulated behavior within Jewish groups and between Jews and non-Jews. I chose Judaism as the case study because it is so well documented and only much later became a critic of Jewish behavior because, quite frankly, I came to realize that there are and have always been conflicts of interest between Jews and non-Jews. These conflicts assume center stage in Separation and Its Discontents and, of course, The Culture of Critique. No evolutionist should be surprised that ethnic groups often have conflicting interests — or that conflicts of interest can range from territorial struggles to the ivied halls of elite academic institutions. The tragedy of evolutionary science is that, apart from Frank Salter and me, the vast majority of evolutionists completely ignore selection against their own people that is occurring throughout the West.
WSJ | A QUICK RIDDLE: WHAT DO 100 works of classic literature, a seed database from the nonprofit Crop Trust and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have in common? All of them were recently converted from bits of digital data to strands of synthetic DNA. In addition to these weighty files, researchers at Microsoft and the University of Washington converted a high-definition music video of “This Too Shall Pass” by the alternative rock band OK Go. The video is an homage to Rube Goldberg-like contraptions, which bear more than a passing resemblance to the labyrinthine process of transforming data into the genetic instructions that shape all living things.
This recent data-to-DNA conversion, completed in July, totaled 200 megabytes—which would barely register on a 16-gigabyte iPhone. It’s not a huge amount of information, but it bested the previous DNA storage record, set by scientists at Harvard University, by a factor of about 10. To achieve this, researchers concocted a convoluted process to encode the data, store it in synthetic DNA and then use DNA sequencing machines to retrieve and, finally, decode the data. The result? The exact same files they began with.
Which raises the question: Why bother?
“We are seeing this explosion in the amount of data that needs to be stored,” says Karin Strauss, the principal Microsoft researcher on the project. “To continue storing this information, we need radical new approaches.” In an age of gargantuan, power-sucking data centers, the space-saving potential of data stored in DNA is staggering. “You can archive all the data on the internet in a shoebox,” says Luis Ceze, an associate professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington.
nanalyze | We now have 3 genetic engineering companies that have had an IPO and which you can now invest in; Editas Medicine (NASDAQ:EDIT), Intellia Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NTLA), and CRISPR Therapeutics (NASDAQ:CRSP). Sure, they’re involved in “gene editing” but the label of “genetic engineering” is much more appropriate for this article because we’re going to talk about something that makes people feel uncomfortable. We’re going to talk about genetic engineering in humans, in particular, we’re going to talk about germline genetic engineering which we can now do using the gene editing technologies offered by all 3 of these companies. “Germline” is a term used to refer to the source of DNA for all other cells in the body. When performing genetic engineering at the germline level in humans, it’s pretty much the equivalent of genetically modifying our food to promote superior traits except the ethical implications are far greater.
3 Stages of Genetic Engineering in Humans
Putting our ethics aside for a moment, here’s how we see that timeline progressing in 3 stages:
- Gene editing is first used to genetically engineer embryos such that inherited diseases including cancer are made extinct.
- Genetic engineering is then used to modify genetic traits that inhibit intelligence, starting with mental retardation, and move to traits that advance intelligence
- Genetic engineering is finally used to create “designer babies” that look more visually appealing perhaps also removing the mythical fat gene.
How thrilled is the general population about this sort of genetic engineering in humans? This thrilled:
So almost 50% of people think that it’s okay to go mucking around and editing our germline as a species. The Chinese have already started researching this area though everyone was up in arms over it. That’s crazy to think about. Right now we are on the cusp of an era where we can essentially start to play God. We’re already creating synthetic organisms at a massive scale. We’re doing things like taking bacteria and genetically modifying them so that they literally “sweat” biofuels. We’ve create an army of robots driven by artificial intelligence that are genetically modifying organism to save companies 10s of millions of dollars a year. We’re pretty sure that Stage 1 will eventually happen because disease is bad, right? The future seems bright and the opportunities endless. Fist tap Big Don.
Thursday, October 27, 2016
aljazeera | Trump is the late Shah of Iran and the late Saddam Hussein of Iraq put together. Trump is every single Arab general or dictator the US has befriended and kept in power.
These and scores of other nasty, brutish, vile and vulgar dictators are - and have been - supported, endorsed, kept in power, and used and abused to serve the US and its favourite settler colony Israel military and economic might, and they all fall into the category of Roosevelt's "our sons of bitches".
"Yes, it would be worthwhile to study clinically, in detail, the steps taken by Hitler and Hitlerism," Aime Cesaire said famously in his Discourse on Colonialism, "and to reveal to the very distinguished, very humanistic, very Christian bourgeois of the 20th century that without his being aware of it, he has a Hitler inside him, that Hitler inhabits him, that Hitler is his demon, that if he rails against him, he is being inconsistent and that, at bottom, what he cannot forgive Hitler for is not crime in itself, the crime against man, it is not the humiliation of man as such, it is the crime against the white man, the humiliation of the white man, and the fact that he applied to Europe colonialist procedures which until then had been reserved exclusively for the Arabs of Algeria, the coolies of India, and the niggers of Africa."
Cesaire anticipated Trump and reaction to Trump too, for Trump is now equally poised to do to America what Mussolini did in Libya, King Leopoldo II in the Congo, the French in Algeria, the British in India, the Spaniards in the Americas, the Israelis in Palestine. Obama is not happy with Trump. He and his wife Michelle Obama and the entire Democratic Party and liberal stalwarts like Elizabeth Warren are really concerned what Trump might do to America what they have done to the world at large.
Trump is the nasty Mr Hyde hiding inside the lovely looking Dr Barack Jekyll Obama, coming out unexpectedly for a house call.
Liberal America is up in arms capturing their Mr Hyde, hiding it inside President Hillary Rodham Clinton in the White House so she can do as US presidents habitually do, ripping the world to pieces and keeping the liberal heart of this empire bleeding for "peace on earth" just in time for next Christmas.
WaPo | The cost of WikiLeaks’s disclosures to our national security is unfathomable. As former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden has put it, “We will never know who will now not come forward, who will not provide us with life-saving information” because of WikiLeaks, “but we can be certain that the cost will be great. And foreign intelligence services, with whom we have established productive and legitimate partnerships, will ask, ‘Can I trust the Americans to keep anything secret?’ ”
For these and other crimes, Assange should be in jail. But instead, he is being given sanctuary by the left-wing, anti-American government of Ecuador. Moreover, let’s not forget that Assange is attacking Hillary Clinton not because he thinks she is a corrupt liberal, but because he believes that she is too interventionist. “She’s palled up with the neocons responsible for the Iraq War,” Assange recently told Megyn Kelly, “and she’s grabbed on to this kind of neo-McCarthyist hysteria about Russia.” Assange wants the United States to pull back from Iraq and Afghanistan and stop criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin — not exactly conservative priorities.
While the conservative embrace of Assange is troubling, the hypocrisy displayed by some in the media in not fully covering WikiLeaks’s Clinton revelations are equally galling. They had no problem reporting on WikiLeaks’s revelations of highly classified national security information, falling over themselves to publish what amounts to espionage porn. But according to the Media Research Center, between Oct. 7 and Oct. 13, “the morning and evening news shows on ABC, CBS and NBC dedicated 4 hours and 13 minutes to discussing the recent allegations of sexual misconduct surrounding Donald Trump’s campaign,” while “the continual release of the WikiLeaks emails from top Hillary staff [got] a comparatively puny 36 minutes of coverage .” That is a ratio of 7 to 1. And much of that meager coverage has been focused not on the revelations themselves, but on how the emails were hacked and leaked.
The Clinton campaign has a clear strategy for tamping down coverage of WikiLeaks — to paint the revelations as an assault on American democracy. As Clinton put it during the final debate, “What’s really important about WikiLeaks is that the Russian government has engaged in espionage against Americans. . . . Then they have given that information to WikiLeaks for the purpose of putting it on the Internet . . . in an effort . . . to influence our election.”
The Clinton machine’s message to the media: If you play down the WikiLeaks revelations, you are not playing down bad news for Hillary Clinton. No, you are defending democracy! You are refusing to help Russia influence a U.S. election! You are morally free to ignore these stories.
If members of the media were willing to use WikiLeaks’s material when it was releasing top-secret intelligence, then they should devote the same attention to WikiLeaks’s revelations about Clinton. And while conservatives are understandably appalled by what we have learned about Clinton from those emails, we should not forget the source. Julian Assange is no friend of the United States. He is a left-wing activist who heads a criminal enterprise operating out of the embassy of an anti-American government.
RoyalSociety | Since we launched in 2014, the Royal Society’s broad interest open access journal Royal Society Open Science has been publishing high-quality research across the biological sciences, engineering and mathematics.
The journal is at the forefront of the Society’s mission to disseminate high-quality science regardless of topic or likely impact, and includes innovative features such as optional open peer review and Registered Reports.
As a broad interest journal, we’ve published many papers that have excited readers, and to celebrate Open Access Week, we wanted to share with you some of our most frequently read papers. We hope you’ll enjoy reading them as much as we have!
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
medialens | Consider the third of the claims: that 'All her life' Clinton 'has fought the feminist cause', according to Toynbee, and is 'a proud feminist woman', according to Penny.
So what is feminism? The dictionary definition is straight forward enough: 'the advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes'. Wikipedia summarises the goal:
'to define, establish, and achieve equal political, economic, personal, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. Feminists typically advocate or support the rights and equality of women.'
Hannah McAtamney added an important observation on Huffington Post:
'Feminism is not the belief that one gender should be raised in power above another. The very definition of feminism shows a complete opposition to this belief.'
This is key: feminism is indeed in 'complete opposition' to the idea that one gender should be raised in power above another. And yet it could hardly be clearer from Clinton's ruthless service to elite power, notably the military industrial complex, and from her leading role in the destruction of whole countries like Libya, Honduras and Syria, that she does just that. Clinton has certainly acted to ensure that the interests of elite Western men and women are 'raised in power above' men and women in these target countries.
A high-level state executive who manages a system that destroys and damages millions of lives in systematically subordinating both men and women to state-corporate power cannot be described as a representative of 'centrist soft-liberal feminism', if the words have any meaning.
We strongly support authentic feminism as an obviously just response to the inequality, exploitation, prejudice and violence facing women the world over. The deepest support for equality of the sexes is found in the practice of 'equalising self and others' propounded by many ancient spiritual traditions, notably Mahayana Buddhism. This 'equalising' begins when we accept that no person's happiness or suffering can be considered more or less important than anyone else's. It is obviously irrational and unfair to suggest that 'my' happiness matters more than 'your' happiness. When we reflect repeatedly on this equality of importance, we can actually come to feel a sense of outrage at the idea that 'I' should benefit at 'your' expense. 'I' can actually come to take 'your' side against 'my' own egotism.
From this perspective, it is absurd to suggest that a woman's suffering matters less than a man's.
Similarly, it is absurd to suggest that the suffering of a Libyan or Honduran man or woman matters less than that of a male or female member of the American 1%.
The idea that Clinton is a 'feminist', that her presidency would represent a victory for feminism, is a fraud. In reality, it would involve the exploitation of that vital cause by violent, greed-based power.
TheAtlantic | Clinton’s policy framework diverged with that of his Republican predecessors in many ways, not just on social policy but also on raising marginal tax rates on the wealthy. In terms of concentrations of power in the private sector, however, it was more a completion of what Reagan did than a repudiation of it.
But who could argue? The concentration of media and telecommunications companies happened concurrent with an investment boom into the newest beacon of progress: the internet. The futurism, the political coalition of the multiethnic cosmopolitans, the social justice of the private centrally planned corporation—it worked. Clinton’s “Third Way” went global, as political leaders abroad copied the Clinton model of success. A West Wing generation learned only Watergate Baby politics, never realizing an earlier progressive economic tradition had even existed.
Despite this prosperity, in 2000, the American people didn’t reward the Democrats with majorities in Congress or an Oval Office victory. In particular, the rural parts of the country in the South, which had been a traditional area of Democratic strength up until the 1970s, were strongly opposed to this new Democratic Party. And white working-class people, whom Dutton had dismissed, did not perceive the benefits of the “greatest economy ever.” They also began to die. Starting in 1998 and continuing to this day, the mortality rate among white Americans, specifically those without a high school-degree, has been on the rise—leaving them scared and alienated.
Old problems also reemerged. Financial crises unseen since the 1920s began breaking out across the world, from Mexico to East Asia, prompted by “hot-money” flows. Deflation, rather than inflation, and a capital glut, rather than a capital shortage, started to concern policymakers. And it turns out, according to a McKinsey study, that a disproportionately large amount of the productivity gains from the remarkable computerization of the economy were the result of just one company: Walmart, the new A&P. The mega store’s economic influence “reached levels not seen by a single company since the 19th-century.” The gains of the 1990s, it turns out, were not structural, but illusory. Early in Bush’s term, the stock-market bubble burst and wages collapsed. A few years later, a global banking crisis, induced by a financial sector that had steadily gained power for 40 years, erupted. Concentration of power in the private sector, it turned out, had its downsides.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
NewYorker | Summers still supports trade agreements, including nafta. The problem, he said, is that few people understand the benefits: the jobs created by exporting goods; trade’s role in strengthening other economies, thereby reducing immigration flows from countries like Mexico. The “popularization of politics,” he said, keeps leaders from pursuing controversial but important policies. If the Marshall Plan had been focus-grouped, it never would have happened. Globalization creates what Summers called a “trilemma” among global integration, public goods like environmental protection or high wages, and national sovereignty. It’s become clear that Democratic élites, including him, underestimated the power of nationalism, because they didn’t feel it strongly themselves.
Summers described the current Democratic Party as “a coalition of the cosmopolitan élite and diversity.” The Republicans, he went on, combined “social conservatism and an agenda of helping rich people.” These alignments left neither party in synch with Americans like Mark Frisbie: “All these regular people who thought they are kind of the soul of the country—they feel like there was nobody who seemed to be thinking a lot about them.” In 2004, the political scientist Samuel Huntington published his final book, “Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity.” He used the term “cosmopolitan élites” to describe Americans who are at home in the fluid world of transnational corporations, dual citizenship, blended identities, and multicultural education. Such people dominate our universities, tech companies, publishers, nonprofits, entertainment studios, and news media. They congregate in cities and on the coasts. Lately, they have become particularly obsessed with the food they eat. The locavore movement, whatever its benefits to health and agriculture, is an inward-looking form of activism. When you visit a farm-to-table restaurant and order the wild-nettle sformato for thirty dollars, the line between social consciousness and self-gratification disappears. Buying synthetic-nitrate-free lunch meat at Whole Foods is also a way to isolate yourself from contamination by the packaged food sold at Kmart and from the overweight, downwardly mobile people who shop there. The people who buy food at Kmart know it.
Two decades ago, the conservative social scientist Charles Murray co-wrote “The Bell Curve,” which argued that inherited I.Q., ethnicity, and professional success are strongly connected, thereby dooming government efforts to educate poor Americans into the middle class. The book generated great controversy, including charges of racism, and some of its methodology was exposed as flawed. In a more recent book, “Coming Apart,” Murray focusses on the widening divide between a self-segregated white upper class and an emerging white lower class. He concludes that “the trends signify damage to the heart of American community and the way in which the great majority of Americans pursue satisfying lives.”
Murray lives in Burkittsville, Maryland, an hour and a quarter’s drive from Washington, D.C. It’s a virtually all-white town where elements of the working class have fallen on hard times. “The energy coming out of the new lower class really only needed a voice, because they are so pissed off at people like you and me,” he said. “We so obviously despise them, we so obviously condescend to them—‘flyover country.’ The only slur you can use at a dinner party and get away with is to call somebody a redneck—that won’t give you any problems in Manhattan. And you can also talk about evangelical Christians in the most disparaging terms—you will get no pushback from that. They’re aware of this kind of condescension. And they also haven’t been doing real well.”
unz | When Putin came to power he inherited a Kremlin every bit as corrupt and traitor-infested as the White House nowadays. As for Russia, she was in pretty much the same sorry shape as the Independent Nazi-run Ukraine. Russia was also run by bankers and AngloZionist puppets and most Russians led miserable lives. The big difference is that, unlike what is happening with Trump, the Russian version of the US Neocons never saw the danger coming from Putin. He was selected by the ruling elites as the representative of the security services to serve along a representative of the big corporate money, Medvedev. This was a compromise solution between the only two parts of the Russian society which were still functioning, the security services and oil/gas money. Putin looked like a petty bureaucrat in an ill fitting suit, a shy and somewhat awkward little guy who would present no threat to the powerful oligarchs of the semibankirshchina (the Seven Bankers) running Russia. Except that he turned out to be one of the most formidable rulers in Russia history. Here is what Putin did as soon as he came to power:
First, he re-established the credibility of the Kremlin with the armed forces and security services by rapidly and effectively crushing the Wahabi insurgency in Chechnia. This established his personal credibility with the people he would have to rely on to deal with the oligarchs.
Second, he used the fact that everybody, every single businessman and corporation in Russia, did more or less break the law during the 1990s, if only because there really was no law. Instead of cracking down on the likes of Berezovski or Khodorkovski for their political activities, he crushed them with (absolutely true) charges of corruption. Crucially, he did that very publicly, sending a clear message to the other arch-enemy: the media.
Third, contrary to the hallucinations of the western human rights agencies and Russian liberals, Putin never directly suppressed any dissent, or cracked down on the media or, even less so, ordered the murder of anybody. He did something much smarter. Remember that modern journalists are first and foremost presstitutes, right? By mercilessly cracking down on the oligarchs Putin deprived the presstitutes of their source of income and political support. Some emigrated to the Ukraine, others simply resigned, and a few were left like on a reservation or a zoo on a few very clearly identifiable media outlets such as Dozhd TV, Ekho Moskvy Radio or the newspaper Kommersant. Those who emigrated became irrelevant, as for those who stayed in the “liberal zoo” – they were harmless has they had no credibility left. Crucially, everybody else “got the message”. After that, all it took is the appointment a few real patriots (such as Dmitri Kiselev, Margarita Simonian and others) in key positions and everybody quickly understood that the winds of fortune had now turned.
Fourth, once the main media outlets were returned back to sanity it did not take too long for the “liberal” (in the Russian sense, meaning pro-USA) parties to enter into a death-spiral from which they have never recovered. That, in turn, resulted in the ejection of all “liberals” form the Duma which now has only 4 parties, all of them more or less “patriotic”.
That’s the part that worked.
So far, Putin failed to eject the 5th columnists, whom I call the “Atlantic Integrationists” (for details, including their names, see here) from the government itself.. Even the notorious Alexei Kudrin was not fired by Putin, but by Medvedev. The security services succeeded in finally getting rid of Anatolii Serdyukov but they did not have power needed to put him in jail. I still think that a purge will happen while Alexander Mercouris disagrees. Whatever may be the case, what is certain is that Putin has not tackled the 5th columnists in the banking/finance sector and that the latter have been very careful not to give him a pretext to take action against them.
Russia and the USA are very different countries, and no recipe can simply be copied from one to another. Still, there are valuable lessons from the “Putin model” for Trump, not the least of which that his most formidable enemies probably are sitting in the Fed. One Russian analyst – Rostislav Ishchenko – has suggested that Trump could somehow force the Fed to increase interest rates, which would result in a bankruptcy domino effect for US banks which might be the only way to finally crush the Fed and re-take control of US banking. Maybe. I honestly am not qualified to have an opinion about that.
Monday, October 24, 2016
unz | Once we recognize that weakening the media is a primary strategic goal, an obvious corollary is that other anti-establishment groups facing the same challenges become natural, if perhaps temporary, allies.
Such unexpected tactical alliances may drawn from across a wide range of different political and ideological perspectives—Left, Right, or otherwise—and despite the component groups having longer-term goals that are orthogonal or even conflicting. So long as all such elements in the coalition recognize that the hostile media is their most immediate adversary, they can cooperate on their common effort, while actually gaining additional credibility and attention by the very fact that they sharply disagree on so many other matters.
The media is enormously powerful and exercises control over a vast expanse of intellectual territory. But such ubiquitous influence also ensures that its local adversaries are therefore numerous and widespread, all being bitterly opposed to the hostile media they face on their own particular issues. By analogy, a large and powerful empire is frequently brought down by a broad alliance of many disparate rebellious factions, each having unrelated goals, which together overwhelm the imperial defenses by attacking simultaneously at multiple different locations.
A crucial aspect enabling such a rebel alliance is the typically narrow focus of each particular constituent member. Most groups or individuals opposing establishment positions tend to be ideologically zealous about one particular issue or perhaps a small handful, while being much less interested in others. Given the total suppression of their views at the hands of the mainstream media, any venue in which their unorthodox perspectives are provided reasonably fair and equal treatment rather than ridiculed and denigrated tends to inspire considerable enthusiasm and loyalty on their part.
So although they may have quite conventional views on most other matters, causing them to regard contrary views with the same skepticism or unease as might anyone else, they will usually be willing to suppress their criticism at such wider heterodoxy so long as other members of their alliance are willing to return that favor on their own topics of primary interest.
NYTimes | Imagine receiving a phone call from your aging mother seeking your help because she has forgotten her banking password.
Except it’s not your mother. The voice on the other end of the phone call just sounds deceptively like her.
It is actually a computer-synthesized voice, a tour-de-force of artificial intelligence technology that has been crafted to make it possible for someone to masquerade via the telephone.
Such a situation is still science fiction — but just barely. It is also the future of crime.
The software components necessary to make such masking technology widely accessible are advancing rapidly. Recently, for example, DeepMind, the Alphabet subsidiary known for a program that has bested some of the top human players in the board game Go, announced that it had designed a program that “mimics any human voice and which sounds more natural than the best existing text-to-speech systems, reducing the gap with human performance by over 50 percent.”
The irony, of course, is that this year the computer security industry, with $75 billion in annual revenue, has started to talk about how machine learning and pattern recognition techniques will improve the woeful state of computer security.
But there is a downside.
“The thing people don’t get is that cybercrime is becoming automated and it is scaling exponentially,” said Marc Goodman, a law enforcement agency adviser and the author of “Future Crimes.” He added, “This is not about Matthew Broderick hacking from his basement,” a reference to the 1983 movie “War Games.”
The alarm about malevolent use of advanced artificial intelligence technologies was sounded earlier this year by James R. Clapper, the director of National Intelligence. In his annual review of security, Mr. Clapper underscored the point that while A.I. systems would make some things easier, they would also expand the vulnerabilities of the online world.
theintercept | Endace says it manufactures technology that allows its clients to “monitor, intercept and capture 100% of traffic on networks.” The Auckland-based company’s motto is “power to see all” and its logo is an eye.
The company’s origins can be traced back to Waikato University in Hamilton, New Zealand. There, in 1994, a team of professors and researchers began developing network monitoring technology using university resources. A central aim of the project was to find ways to measure different kinds of data on the internet, which was at that time only just beginning to take off. Within a few years, the academics’ efforts proved successful; they had managed to invent pioneering network monitoring tools. By 2001, the group behind the research started commercializing the technology — and Endace was formed.
Today, Endace presents itself publicly as focused on providing technology that helps companies and governments keep their networks secure. But in the past decade, it has quietly entered into a burgeoning global spy industry that is worth in excess of an estimated $5 billion annually.
In 2007, Endace representatives promoted their technology at a huge surveillance technology trade show in Dubai that was attended by dozens of government agencies from across the world. Endace’s advertising brochures from the show, which described the company’s products and promoted the need for greater state surveillance, were published by WikiLeaks in 2013.
One Endace brochure explained how the company’s technology could help clients “monitor all network traffic inexpensively.” It noted that telecommunications networks carry many types of information: Skype calls, videos, emails, and instant message chats. “These networks provide rich intelligence for law enforcement,” the brochure stated, “IF they can be accessed securely and with high precision.”
thenation | So here’s the bottom line: not only has intelligence been privatized to an unimaginable degree, but an unprecedented consolidation of corporate power inside US intelligence has left the country dangerously dependent on a handful of companies for its spying and surveillance needs.
To be sure, concentration by itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When a few companies dominate a single market, as in banking or the railroads, the result can be greater efficiencies all around, and sometimes even lower prices—if the industry is well-regulated. But if not, as we know from the collapse of Wall Street a few years ago, the downside can be pretty ugly: high-level corruption, taxpayer bailouts, and business failures that create destructive ripple effects throughout society. All of that and more has happened in intelligence contracting.
“There comes a point when the marketplace is so concentrated that the service provider simply becomes too big to fail, no matter how lousy their performance,” says Isenberg, who closely monitors the privatization of national-security work. “If that makes you think of the financial-services industry, well, that’s exactly what I’m talking about.”
In fact, being “too big to fail” is especially potent in intelligence, which has experienced numerous failures over the years. One of the most spectacular was the infamous Trailblazer project at NSA. It was designed by contractors in the spring of 2001 to “revolutionize” the NSA’s collection of signals intelligence from the Internet. SAIC won the prime contract to build it.
But Trailblazer ended up a costly failure, wasting over $7 billion, according to whistleblower Tom Drake, who was a senior NSA executive from 2001 to 2008. In 2003, because Drake and others had blown the whistle on the project, Trailblazer was the subject of a highly critical Pentagon audit into corporate fraud. But the audit remains classified to this day. And the prime culprits, SAIC and Booz Allen (which helped design it), continue to win big contracts despite strong evidence that they wasted billions of taxpayer dollars and modified and suppressed internal studies about the project.
“When companies are found to have falsified documents or even committed outright fraud, they’re often so large and specialized that they compel the government to overlook those violations,” warns Mike German, a former FBI special agent who works on counterterrorism issues as a fellow with the NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice. “Especially with intelligence being such a nebulous concept, doing wrong doesn’t always result in a reassessment of methods.”
Yet with few exceptions, intelligence privatization has been largely ignored by the national media and the publications established to expose what they call the “surveillance state.” And Congress, by ignoring this huge elephant in the room, is simply not doing its job.
Sunday, October 23, 2016
frontiersin | The functions of dance and music in human evolution are a mystery. Current research on the evolution of music has mainly focused on its melodic attribute which would have evolved alongside (proto-)language. Instead, we propose an alternative conceptual framework which focuses on the co-evolution of rhythm and dance (R&D) as intertwined aspects of a multimodal phenomenon characterized by the unity of action and perception. Reviewing the current literature from this viewpoint we propose the hypothesis that R&D have co-evolved long before other musical attributes and (proto-)language. Our view is supported by increasing experimental evidence particularly in infants and children: beat is perceived and anticipated already by newborns and rhythm perception depends on body movement. Infants and toddlers spontaneously move to a rhythm irrespective of their cultural background. The impulse to dance may have been prepared by the susceptibility of infants to be soothed by rocking. Conceivable evolutionary functions of R&D include sexual attraction and transmission of mating signals. Social functions include bonding, synchronization of many individuals, appeasement of hostile individuals, and pre- and extra-verbal communication enabling embodied individual and collective memorizing. In many cultures R&D are used for entering trance, a base for shamanism and early religions. Individual benefits of R&D include improvement of body coordination, as well as painkilling, anti-depressive, and anti-boredom effects. Rhythm most likely paved the way for human speech as supported by studies confirming the overlaps between cognitive and neural resources recruited for language and rhythm. In addition, dance encompasses visual and gestural communication. In future studies attention should be paid to which attribute of music is focused on and that the close mutual relation between R&D is taken into account. The possible evolutionary functions of dance deserve more attention.
physicsworld | Consciousness appears to arise naturally as a result of a brain maximizing its information content. So says a group of scientists in Canada and France, which has studied how the electrical activity in people's brains varies according to individuals' conscious states. The researchers find that normal waking states are associated with maximum values of what they call a brain's "entropy".
Statistical mechanics is very good at explaining the macroscopic thermodynamic properties of physical systems in terms of the behaviour of those systems' microscopic constituent particles. Emboldened by this success, physicists have increasingly been trying to do a similar thing with the brain: namely, using statistical mechanics to model networks of neurons. Key to this has been the study of synchronization – how the electrical activity of one set of neurons can oscillate in phase with that of another set. Synchronization in turn implies that those sets of neurons are physically tied to one another, just as oscillating physical systems, such as pendulums, become synchronized when they are connected together.
The latest work stems from the observation that consciousness, or at least the proper functioning of brains, is associated not with high or even low degrees of synchronicity between neurons but by middling amounts. Jose Luis Perez Velazquez, a biochemist at the University of Toronto, and colleagues hypothesized that what is maximized during consciousness is not connectivity itself but the number of different ways that a certain degree of connectivity can be achieved.
Saturday, October 22, 2016
collective-evolution | Based on my research, the Bush and Obama administrations seem to be very real war mongering radical regimes, puppeteered, controlled and influenced by a higher power. Bottom line, the way western media has depicted various Middle Eastern figures over the past decade is partially twisted. We are and have been, I believe, spoon fed lies on a daily basis when it comes to this topic.
I am not going to get into the politics as to why he has been praised and hated by many from various parts of the world, as this would require a very long article. I will instead stick to this short list of 10 things about Gaddafi that “they” don’t want you to know.
“They want to do to Libya what they did to Iraq and what they are itching to do to Iran. They want to take back the oil, which was nationalized by these country’s revolutions. They want to re-establish military bases that were shut down by the revolutions and to install client regimes that will subordinate the country’s wealth and labor to imperialist corporate interests. All else is lies and deception.” (source)(He also expressed these feelings in many of his speeches)
“Bad” human, “good” human, it doesn’t matter. All humans have held light in their heart, no matter what they have done, no matter how much “evil” they have shown, and no matter how much we judge them. There are thing that they have shared that we can learn from, regardless of actions that are considered to be radical and extreme. It would be foolish of us to ignore these other sides.
***Much of this information was obtained through Gaddafi’s Green Book, a document that outlines his political philosophy. You can access it here.
*** There are also articles floating around on the internet like this that claim some of these “facts” are lies. That could be the case, it’s hard to know what to believe and that’s why I encourage more to focus on the video below and take a look at some of Gaddafi’s interviews as well as read his political philosophy that’s linked in the sources.