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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

turn it upside down…

Mitch McConnell (source photo: AP/J Scott Applewhite) via Salon























“[…] let us pretend America magically transforms into a decent society and begins policing the police, moves toward fairness in criminal justice and actually prioritizes civil rights. There is still the cancer at the heart of a culture committed to venerating violence, celebrating selfishness and condemning compassion.
     Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman wrote the classic 'Manufacturing Consent,' about the manipulative and exploitative relationship corporate media has with the American public. What if the consent is not manufactured?
     What if, as historian Morris Berman contends, the plutocratic theft of American lives and treasure is not actually a robbery, but a transaction?
     William of Ockham famously devised the problem-solving principle, Occam’s razor: Cut away the unnecessary complications and the simplest answer to a question is most likely the correct answer. After all the analysis of the normalized dysfunction of democracy in America, launched with the assumption that the political system fails to represent the will of the people, the question remains: what if it actually does represent the will of the people? That the system is actually succeeding in upholding its representational promise might be the simplest and most probable answer to the mystery of America’s comatose slumber in a nightmare of torment for the oppressed and treasures for the oppressors.
     More optimistic liberals will identify the masses of protestors filling the streets with rage and disgust over the state-sanctioned murder of two unarmed black men, but the thousands of people protesting in major cities are only the sane minority. The sane minority fights against the 'silent majority' of Richard Nixon’s delight. The disgraced president was right in 1969 when he pointed out that the majority of Americans were not part of anti-war demonstrations or countercultural movements; they were his voters, and their children became Reagan’s voters. From beyond the grave, he is still right.”
— David Masciotra, AlterNet via Salon
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Monday, 29 December 2014

tom tomorrow's 2014 in review

via DailyKos

“The primary reason my mouth hurt was lack of money.”

From: Gold Teeth Grilz
“More than 126 million people in the US – nearly half the population – had no dental coverage in 2012, according to the US National Association of Dental Plans. In 2007, the New York State Dental Journal reported that while only one-tenth of general physician costs were paid out of pocket, nearly half of all dental costs were settled directly by patients. This reflects spending by the uninsured but also those sharing costs with coverage providers; most plans cover routine cleanings but leave patients to pay for 20 to 50 per cent of fillings, crowns and other big-ticket visits. For those who can’t afford to pay that difference, treatment is delayed and teeth continue to degrade. […]
     About a decade ago, at the age of 50, my dad almost died when infection from an abscessed tooth poisoned his blood and nearly stopped his heart. He has never had dental insurance and has seen a dentist only a handful of times when some malady became unbearable. In 2009, according to the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, dental issues caused about 936,000 emergency-room visits and almost 13,000 inpatient hospital stays. Many of these patients had low incomes and dental coverage that restricted care to emergencies or wasn’t accepted by accessible dentists. […]
     Poor teeth, I knew, beget not just shame but more poorness: people with bad teeth have a harder time getting jobs and other opportunities. People without jobs are poor. Poor people can’t access dentistry – and so goes the cycle.”
— Sarah Amarsh, aeon
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occupational hazard

Source images: Occupy Sandy; clker

“Organised by veterans of Occupy Wall Street, the citizen relief group known as Occupy Sandy emerged in response to the unprecedented damage done to New York City by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given its lineage, OS was organised along strong principles of leaderlessness, horizontality and consensus. What may be more surprising is that this group of amateurs – unequipped with budgetary resources or any significant prior experience of logistics management, and assembled at a few hours’ notice – is universally acknowledged as having outstripped traditional, hierarchical and abundantly resourced groups like the US Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross in delivering relief to the hardest-hit communities.
     Occupy Sandy’s volunteers were unquestionably able to do this because they used networked technology to coordinate and maintain real-time situational awareness over their activities. Crucially, though, the systems they used were neither particularly elaborate, nor the ones many theorists of networked urbanism might have envisioned. They certainly didn’t have anything to do with the high-spec, high-margin instrumentation that IT multinationals would have municipal governments invest in.
     In a stroke of inspired creativity, Occupy activists repurposed Amazon’s existing e-commerce and fulfillment infrastructure, in the form of a wedding registry, to funnel donated goods to the distribution centre they had set up in a Brooklyn church. If this audacious act of jugaad underwrote the entire recovery effort, its day-to-day operations relied upon another, as the movements of hundreds of volunteers and thousands of donations, hot meals and pieces of construction material were tracked in a single, gigantic Google Docs spreadsheet never intended for any such purpose.”
— Adam Greenfield, The Guardian
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“In the days after Superstorm Sandy, relief organizations were overwhelmed by the chaos and enormous need. One group quickly emerged as a bright spot. While victims in New York's hardest hit neighborhoods were stuck in the cold and dark, volunteers from the spontaneously formed Occupy Sandy became a widely praised lifeline.
     Occupy Sandy was 'one of the leading humanitarian groups providing relief to survivors across New York City and New Jersey,' as a government-commissioned study put it.
     Yet the Red Cross, which was bungling its own aid efforts after the storm, made a decision that further hampered relief: Senior officials told staffers not to work with Occupy Sandy. Red Cross officials had no concerns about Occupy Sandy's effectiveness. Rather, they were worried about the group's connections to the Occupy Wall Street protest movement. Three Red Cross responders told ProPublica there was a ban. 'We were told not to interact with Occupy,' says one. While the Red Cross often didn't know where to send food, Occupy Sandy 'had what we didn't: minute-by-minute information,' another volunteer says."
ProPublica via Crooks and Liars
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Saturday, 27 December 2014

natter on...

From: English @ Edrissis

“In vocabulary, English is the richest modern language. It is constantly surprising even to those word gatherers among us who spend much time exploring dictionaries, especially the larger and older lexicons that harbor thousands of neglected words — words that may be a bit dusty but are none the worse for disuse. […]
     There is actually a word, griffinage, that is defined as the state of being a white person newly arrived in the Far East! (Griffonage -- one letter different in spelling — means a scribble or illegible handwriting.) There's even a word, amphoric, meaning like the sound made when blowing across the lip of an empty bottle; and a term, spanipelagic, describing creatures dwelling in deep water but coming at times to the surface. […]
     Take the case of a guy on a dating website describing himself as being unconventionally handsome and stating that he is ventripotent, exophthalmic, and trochocephalic as well as opisthognathic. Don't be surprised when he turns out to be pot-bellied and bug-eyed with a huge round head and a projecting upper jaw.”
— David Grambs and Ellen S. Levine, Huffington Post
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See a related post here...

Friday, 26 December 2014

lost in train station

From: freepik
“The scientific community has recently begun to think hard about natural and technological existential risks to human beings: a wandering asteroid, an unfortunately timed gamma-ray burst, a warming planet. But we should also begin to think about the possibility of cultural apocalypse.
     The Egyptian case is instructive: an epoch of stunning continuity, followed by abrupt extinction. This is a decline and fall worth keeping in mind. We should be prepared for the possibility that humankind will one day have no memory of Milton, or for that matter Motown. Futurism could do with a dose of Egyptology. […]
     The decipherment of hieroglyphs is a particular case of a more general problem: retrieving information across vast cultural divides and immense stretches of time is difficult. Cretan hieroglyphs remain impenetrable, Olmec – the language of the first major civilization in Mexico – is largely a mystery, and only within the past half-century or so has meaning been teased from the Mayan script. For every civilisation retrieved, another remains substantially beyond our comprehension. And for all the millennia it spent plotting immortality, Egypt’s resurrection was a happy accident.
     But what if we could systematize that luck, to make sure that our own achievements never vanish? What if we could design a Rosetta Stone to be a Rosetta stone, on purpose – one that might someday rescue us from the dustbin of history?”
— Grayson Clary, aeon
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Wednesday, 24 December 2014

hotel porters, couriers, precocious children, negroes, parrots, and schizophrenics

From: Cruising the Past
“[…] For example, in the middle of an introduction to carnival barking, the caller was supposed to occasionally 'slap his hands like a [n-word]' when accepting money. I mean, right there in the middle of a nothing sentence, this awful stuff would just appear. After many exposures to this I took it to represent very deeply rooted systemic racism, where light banter and semi-meaningless explanations would be peppered seemingly from nowhere with racist statements.
     I remember feeling so outraged opening a pamphlet on Purina sheep feed and catching a phrase where the farmer is supposed to feel some part of a sheep's wool and that it should feel something like '[n-word] hair but softer.'
     It is an incredible disgrace to read it in 2014 and to think that in 1940 (when the Purina sales catalog was written) that it would be so much part of the verbal landscape that it would seem like nothing at all. […]"
JF Ptak Science Books
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krizmuz-dot-cum all ye faithful

From: ecvv











"Grampa. Tell me about Krizmuz," Sam said.
     It was cold, Dixon’s feet were cold, and the air was thick today; the wind turbine on the roof of block 45-731—he could see it on the window screen—was sluggish, congested, as if the crude oil-coloured air were crude oil—more words from the distant past—like “Krizmuz”: "Crude oil" was something he'd heard about when he was a kid, a story about a king who turned everything he touched into slimy, black oil.
     "Krizmuz," he said shifting in his chair, his lips having trouble with it, like putting on an old pair of trousers. He gazed into the fire for a second. It was a coal fire—a real coal fire. Well, the coal wasn’t real, but the fire was.
     "Yeah. Krizmuz,” Sam said, getting up from playing with the cat and going over to the screen that was a window and a screen—the weather forecast changed colour—to red, with a streaming banner: 'SANDSTORM ALERT: 24/12/2324—gusts: 100-120 km per hour expected over next 24 hours.'
     “Mum says it had toys and things—Krizmuz. People gave out toys." The cat moved into Sam’s vacated chair and stretched. It made a sound like an overloaded motor and folded up into a ball the size of someone’s head. It was a genTech cat: a cross between a robot and a genetically-reconfigered rat. It looked like a cat, meowed like a cat, but it wasn’t really a cat, any more than the meat in the meatballs they’d had for dinner was real meat.
     “Well... Krizmuz was more than that,” Dixon said, at last. “There were Kriz-muz lights… and Kriz-muz movies.”
     “Kriz-muz—Krizmuz, Kriz-muz...” Sam said in sing-song voice moving closer to his grandfather. He was a wiry little lad—small for his age and he couldn’t stay still when he spoke, as if his whole body were conducting what was coming out of his mouth. He sat down on the floor beside his grandfather’s chair, his face, his big eyes, looking up—his implant flickering, a band of sub-dermal points of light dancing across his forehead.
     Like a Krizmus tree, Dixon thought. "Tree" was another word Dixon hadn't spoken, or even heard, for a long time. "There were—toys. That, I remember. I mean... I remember being told that. And singing, and food, lots of food."
     “What's it mean, "KRIZ-MUS?" Sam said.
     "I don’t know—money. Getting things. I forget—"
     "You mean you've forgoogled it. Mum says you’re, ‘Baron of Urls.’"
     “I'm not that old. Yet." He shook his head and closed his eyes and the ancient search engine he'd been implanted with (when he was a lad not much older than the boy at his feet) slowly kicked in. It made him draw in his breath and hold it for a second, till the dizziness faded—and there before his eyes were the words "Krizmuz,” and "Krizmuz Day,” and an old spelling of it, not with the K and two Zs, but: C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S.
     "So, what have you got?” Sam said, shifting round so his feet were closer to the fire. “Mine came up with nothing…” His hand absently brushed against a sudden sparkle of reds and greens above his left eye. The cat was with him now, stretched out, soaking up the infra-red from the fireplace.
     “Let's just see what Wiki says—” Dixon said, sitting up straight.
     “Wiki?”
     “Ancient philosopher—before your time…”
     “Read it to me.”
     “I will. Just hold on a second… Okay, here we go—here’s a bit by a guy named Assange the Fourth…no, the Fifth… Kriz-muz or Krizmus (with an 'S') started out as ‘Christ’s Mass’ which comes from the Middle English Christemasse and Old English ‘Cristes mæsse.’ ‘Cristes’ is from the Greek word ‘Christos’ and ‘mæsse’ is from Latin ‘missa’ (the holy mass). In Greek, the letter X (an aspirated velar stop /k!/) is the first letter of Christos, and it, or the similar Roman letter X, has been used as an abbreviation for ‘Christ’ since the mid-16th century. Hence, ‘Xmas’ is sometimes used as an abbreviation for ‘Christmas.’”*
     “Sam spoke up then: “I thought X-mess was something, dirty—naked women showing off there titties and stuff like that—”
     Dixon slowly shook his head. “Well, you’re wrong. You’re thinking X-rated, maybe — when they look through your clothes at airports and see things they shouldn’t—they used to x-rate you, too. For broken bones—” He suddenly grimaced and said, “Ahhhh. Scheise!” holding his head in both hands; his eyes were shut tight.
     “Signal’s gone,” he said, at last. He was breathing hard: “Friggin’ piece of crap,” he said, thumping the crown of his head. He snapped his fingers and gestured over to the kitchen; Sammy got to his feet and came back with a bottle: his grandpa’s medicine.
     Dixon took a long drink, leaned back, and closed his eyes. Sam could see them moving around behind his eyelids; they were like darting mice under a bed-sheet. After a few seconds Dixon started to speak again. “Here we go—another entry, Much later—more recent. About a hundred years ago, I guess… I’m not going to read this one, I’ll just play it for you. If I start to cough, slap my back, okay?”
     He seemed to fall into a trance; his chin fell onto his chest and a low, rasping hum emerged from his mouth. His lips hardly moved, as if the sound were coming from an old metal device deep in his throat.
     But Sam knew what was really happening—sort of—it was coming from Grampa’s own voice box (his mum had explained it to him once), all to do with a special way the circuits in the muscles of his throat changed so they could act like a machine… and say what the old search engine was playing across his grandpa’s eyelids:
     “It's the cusp of 2214, and it's time to take a nano sec or two to look back, cut through the spam and tweet ya’ to the true meaning of Krizmuz.
     “If we hack back to the beginning we see that it was the night before Krizmuz when it really took off: Winter Solstice—ground zero: where B.C. and A.D. came together, time-wise—a calendar clash of the Old and the New—a Testament to innovation, but that’s whole other story…
     “Needless to say, it was a night to remember—silent, calm, all is bright, deep and crisp and... even in the desert, it was cold. Brightly shone the moon that night, (Tho' the frost was cruel…) desktop wallpaper-picturesque, finely pixelated—the flares of Saddam's oil wells in the distance, beacons in the night.
     "We know now, of course, how it really started—the seed of it, so to speak. We must backtrack a bit, flashback to nine months earlier: Vernal Equinox, to be exact… it went like this:

'It’s the middle of the night, the UFO swoops down out of nowhere, hovers over the hut in a blinding glare of pulsating lights, the rushing wind driving the sand and camels into a frenzy. Gabriel beams down—or did he come down a chimney? He plays a tune on his trumpet and says, to the poor little woman huddled in the corner ( Or did Mary dream it all? We don’t know for sure): "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also, that holy thing—which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God...'

     “'That holy thing!' What a name for a kid, fancy growing up stuck with a name like that! Later on they changed it to 'BabyJesus,' which sort of has a better ring to it. This close encounter has come to be known as 'The Annunciation,' which is where the word 'Nun' comes from—Mary being the mother of all Nuns. It should have been called the 'Cosmic Insemination,' or something like that: 'the Genetic Infusion Of The Otherworldly'—God’s gift to women.
     And here’s another account of it in a book called the Qur’an—from Sura 3, Verses 45-51...

'Behold! the angel said: "O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and in the company of those nearest to Allah: He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. And he shall be in the company of the righteous. She said: "O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?" "Even so,” the angel said, “Allah createth what he willeth: When he hath decreed a plan, he but saith to it, 'Be,' and it is! And Allah will teach Jesus the Book; and the Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel, And appoint him a messenger to the Children of Israel, with this message: "'I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah's leave: And I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I quicken the dead […].'"

     (A crackle and a buzz came out of Dixon’s throat then, and his head jerked back, as if he’d been electrocuted; the cat scurried into the corner.)
     Dixon mumbled for a bit then started speaking again: “So, you can imagine, whatever way you look it, when he finds out about this, Joseph is really pissed—Mary up the stump, and all—on account of being cuckolded by God—Allah, or Klaatu. or ET, Morkenmindy, the favorite Martian—whatever… then one night, there’s poor old Joseph, lying there in bed, in a cold sweat, as this ghost of Krizmuz Yet to Come tells him: 'Get on your bike, mate... come on, pull up your socks! Be a mensch!' So he does the right thing and marries the poor girl. And to make a long story short: they get a donkey and end up in a barn just outside Mecca.”
     Dixon’s voice changed into a dialect that puzzled Sam; he did a quick search and discovered that it was an "Oxbridge Accent”—whatever that was.

"And we saw in the form of an ineffable pillar of light descending, and it came to rest above the water. And we were afraid and shook when we saw it. And we cannot speak about the brilliance of the star of light, since its radiance was many times greater than the sun, and the sun could not stand out before the light of its rays. And just like the moon looks in the daytime in the days of Nisan, when the sun rises and it is absorbed in its light, so also did the sun seem to us when the star rose over us. And we got ready with our whole encampment, and with our provisions, and with the pure and holy gifts, those that we brought out of the Cave of Treasures of Hidden Mysteries, in which they were deposited previously by our fathers, and we went forth in great joy, our hearts exulting to come to the place that was commanded to us, to worship the vision of the star of infinite light. And the star, our guide, our good messenger, our perfect light, our glorious leader, again appeared for us. And we had no need of the light of the sun or of the moon, because their light became diminished in its sight, and by night and by day we walked in its light, exulting and rejoicing without distress or weariness."**

(...buzzzzz—crackle—hissssssssss…):

     “Dateline, A.D. zero: The Cattle Shed. All is calm, all is bright. It’s a silent night—except for the lowing cows, and the shepherds, the faint slap of high fives all round, Joseph flitting about, boiling water et-cetera, et-cetera.
     “And Mary finally gives birth—(buzzz…..hiiiisssss…)—in the straw and the muck from the animals. And just at the right moment the UFO swoops in again, sits right there over the stable, hums a bit, shoots out this gigawatt beam of cosmic light… Next to the manger, there’s a couple of generals, and captains—salvation army blokes with kettles on chains, playing tambourines. Mary Krizmuz and Joey Krizmuz are basking in the glow of the pulsating spaceship—visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads… and Babyjesus, smiling, and quietly burbling; mewling and puking, no doubt—but we won’t get into that. He was a good lad by all accounts.
     “It turns into quite a circus, eventually—with Santa Claus coming down the chimney; Harry Poppins going up. The three wiseguys, Bathysphere, Milkier... and, Friendliest of them all, Casper—show up with their camels. Bringing gifts of course: Gold, Franks‘n Beans, Zoozoo's petals… along with an iPod, a bottle of perfume from Macey’s (or was it Gimbels?), a rattle shaped like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle...
     “Kris Kindle of the Amazon drops in, the Grinch, Amahl and the Nightcrawler, Walt Disneyland. Gabriel starts jamming with the Little Drummer Boy—Elvis drops in with his posse... and then the party really heats up: Frosty the Snowman starts dancing with Round John Virgin; Tiny Tim throws away his crutches and there he is, with a great big smile on his face tiptoeing through the poo bits…
     “Shepherds are rustling up a mess of lamb-kebobs; washing socks and Krizmuz stockings... then in comes Rudolph the Red-Nosed Rainman, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid... eleven pipers piping, ten lords a leaping. Felice Navidad and her special friend, Tannenbaum of Giliad… it’s all there, if you want to check the facts—digitized, analog punch-carded, youtubed…. controversial sure, the political implications of it all, but documented, nevertheless.
     “The Krizmuz lexicon is an inextricable part of our culture. The story lives on to this day in such expressions as: ‘Is that a Yule log in your pocket? What, the one that’s big as me?’ and ‘Thank you. Thank you very much.’ ;’We like Sheep’ and from ‘Krizzy Carol Gets Scrooged’: ‘Well, cut me throat and rip me liver if I tell a lie…’
     “But one thing we know for sure, it's a wonderful life, and Jesus loves me, this I know… and '...every time a bell rings an angel get's its wings' 
      (click—sssssssss...buzzz—hissssssssss…):
      "Frohliche Weihnachten, Joyeur Noel… Buon Natale. And, as Lenny McCardy once said, ‘All you need is Love dadadadada…’
     There was a screech of white noise, erupting from Dixon’s mouth; a crackle, a splutter...
     It all suddenly stopped; Grampa Dixon’s eyes opened and he sat upright in his chair (Sam had never seen him look so imposing, so, alert). He blinked for a second, and stretched, as if he’d been asleep, or in a coma.
     Dixon scanned the room with it’s glowing fire, the huge window screen that looked out on a sorry excuse for a view and the cat that really wasn’t a cat...
     and his beloved grandson, Sam, whose mother was really just another illusion: a genTek mock-up of a mother—but he hadn’t told Sam that yet, and he probably never would.
     His eyes came to rest on his bottle of Scotch and when he found it, he gave it his full attention.
     The cat was back, rubbing against his leg, now, meowing in a perfect, replica voice of a meowing cat.
     “Grampa!" Sam said. "Are you alright?”
     “Yeah, I’m fine” (he took a deep breath)… I guess.” After a long drink of whiskey he said, “What did I say—at the end?’
     “It got all, kinda’ confusing—”
     “Yeah, well. I’m not surprised. It’s been—distorted over the years: the message. You know—signal to noise ratios and all that... They teach you that in school? Shannon's Formula?"
     Sam shook his head; he was stroking the cat now, scratching its belly. He looked a bit disappointed.
     “I suppose after, what? Two-and-a-half thousand years? It’s like those steps in old Walmarts—worn away where it really counts. You google this guy’s name 'Jesus Christ' you get what? A billion; 10 billion; a trillion hits? A trillion to the power of a trillion?” He took a deep breath. “I tried it once and my head locked up.”
     Sam frowned: “Grampa! They’ve fixed it since you were a kid. I mean, if I do that…” He paused for second as he used his own search engine (his whole forehead came to life in a pulsing splash of colour and the cat bolted for the nearest dark corner), it just says ‘infinity.’ What’s that mean: ‘infinity’?”
     Dixon looked up at the ceiling. “Forever and ever, I guess. And everywhere. As the lawyers used to say: ‘In perpetuity throughout the universe.’”
     “The name of a—little baby?”
     “Yeah. Well, not just any baby. You got to remember; something—magical happened, way back then… just a baby, sure, but, it was bigger than that. He was a special baby. A baby that grew up to be a very special man -- and he’s been… in the news, I guess, ever since.”
     “Bigger than the Beatles?” Dixon nodded.
     “Bigger than Elvis?”
     “Way bigger than Elvis.” He closed his eyes and took another long drink, and this time ended up draining the bottle.
     The huge window screen flickered and the streaming text changed colour, back to white (the sandstorm alert was over) and the time/datline changed too: to 12:00 A.M. - 25 slash 12 slash 2324.
     “Good Lord, I remember that—the date!” Dixon shifted in his chair. That’s, Krizmuz Day! the date: 25 -12… it’s Krizmuz day! (buzzz…..hiiiisssss…) Hallelujah!
     “What was that?”
     “I don’t know—it just, came out of nowhere…”
     “Grampa. Are you sure you’re alright?”
     “Yeah I’m fine—just... the cupboard over there. Get me that other bottle of my, uh, medicine. And you get yourself one of those special, vintage bottles of Coca-cola! It’s Krizmuz, for crizzake—”
     “Wow,! Cool! It’s Kriz-muz! Alright!!”
     That was Sam’s first Krizmuz, but not his last. It was, however, the last one for Grandpa Dixon.
     But Sam never forgot that night for as long as he lived: all the noise that came out his grandpa’s mouth, all the crazy joy along with the gibberish—and as time went by, and the gauze of his life filtered out that noise—the slag, if you will, he came know the truth of it all…

"[...] and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of all of us!"**

     And so, as Little Sam observed (24/12/2324) let us all rejoice and shout out: “Wow! Cool! It’s Krizmuz! Alright!”
   
Hallelujah!!
Hallelujah!!
Hallelujah—Hallelujah—Hal-le-lu-jah!!

— Michael Hale
Copyright © 2010
_________________________________________________
* from: Wikipedia
**Quote from: Revelation of the Magi: The Lost Tale of the Wise Men’s Journey to Bethlehem by Brent Landau (HarperOne, 2010)
**Quote from: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

all alone in the moonlight

From: Open Colleges









"'Long-term memory is not stored at the synapse,' said David Glanzman, a senior author of the study, and a UCLA professor of integrative biology and physiology and of neurobiology. 'That's a radical idea, but that's where the evidence leads. The nervous system appears to be able to regenerate lost synaptic connections. If you can restore the synaptic connections, the memory will come back. It won't be easy, but I believe it's possible' […]
     Glanzman said the research could have significant implications for people with Alzheimer's disease. Specifically, just because the disease is known to destroy synapses in the brain doesn't mean that memories are destroyed. 'As long as the neurons are still alive, the memory will still be there, which means you may be able to recover some of the lost memories in the early stages of Alzheimer's,' he said.”
Science Daily
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“A new study by The University of South Florida has found that low doses of the active ingredient in magic mushrooms repairs brain damage caused by extreme trauma, offering renewed hope to millions of sufferers of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
     The study confirms previous research by Imperial College London, that psilocybin, a naturally occurring compound present in ‘shrooms,’ stimulates new brain cell growth and erases frightening memories. Mice conditioned to fear electric shock when hearing a noise associated with the shock ‘simply lost their fear,’ says Dr. Juan Sanchez-Ramos, who co-authored the study. A low dose of psilocybin led them to overcome 'fear conditioning' and the freeze response associated with it faster than the group of mice on Ketanserin (a drug that counteracts the receptor that binds psilocybin in the brain) and a control group on saline.”
— Anna Bragga, Natural News
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Monday, 22 December 2014

saudi arabian nights of the round table

From: Lovely Package
“On January 2, 1977, the Shah of Iran made a painful admission about his country’s economy. We’re broke,' he confided bluntly to his closest aide, court minister Asadollah Alam, in a private meeting. Alam predicted still more dangers to come: 'We have squandered every cent we had only to find ourselves checkmated by a single move from Saudi Arabia,' he later wrote in a letter to the shah. '[W]e are now in dire financial peril and must tighten our belts if we are to survive.' […]
     The two men were reacting to recent turmoil in the oil markets. A few weeks prior, at an OPEC meeting in Doha, the Saudis had announced they would resist an Iran-led majority vote to increase petroleum prices by 15 percent. (The shah needed the boost to pay for billions in new spending commitments.) King Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud argued that a price hike wasn’t justified when Western economies were still mired in a recession — but he was also eager to place economic constraints on Iran at a time when the shah was ordering nuclear power plants and projecting influence throughout the Middle East.
     So the Saudis 'flooded the markets,' ramping up oil production from 8 million to 11.8 million barrels per day and slashing crude prices. Unable to compete, Iran was quickly driven from the market: The country’s oil production plunged 38 percent in a month. Billions of dollars in anticipated oil revenues vanished, and Iran was forced to abandon its five-year budget estimates.
     A damaging ripple effect persisted: Over the summer of 1977, industrial manufacturing in Iran fell by 50 percent. Inflation ran between 30 and 40 percent. The government made deep cuts to domestic spending to balance the books, but austerity only made matters worse when thousands of young, unskilled men lost their jobs. Before long, economic distress had eroded middle-class support for the shah’s monarchy — which collapsed two years later in the Iranian Revolution.”
the New Shelton wet/dry
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“[…] If OPEC has really lost control of the market, how was it able to engineer the fall that has taken prices down by 45 per cent since the early summer? The fall was no accident. OPEC, that is, Saudi Arabia, decided it would not support the price by reducing its own output. Its goal was to buy market share by choking off expensive, non-OPEC production in the United States, Canada, Russia, offshore Brazil and elsewhere. The strategy may work, since the best cure for low prices is low prices just as the high prices in 2007 and 2008 were unsustainable. How long it will take is an open question.
     The problem with the Saudis’ low-price strategy is that it hurts OPEC, too. Its 12 member states are not created equal. The ones in the Gulf – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – probably have the financial muscle to endure low prices for some time, perhaps a few years. Not so the weak OPEC members – Venezuela, Nigeria, Libya and perhaps Iran. The world of $60-(U.S.)-a-barrel oil is pushing them toward the fiscal cliff. If OPEC falls apart, it won’t be because it has lost control of a market swimming in American oil; it will be because the low-price policy is sabotaging the economy and finances of a few of its own members. OPEC is becoming a cannibal family, one that eats its own.”
— Eric Reguly, The Globe and Mail
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See a related post here...

Saturday, 20 December 2014

messengers from the sky

Carlo Crivelli's "Annunciation with St Emidius" (1486) Wikipedia























It is interesting to note that in many languages 'sky' and 'heaven' are the same word; for example, caelum (Latin), Himmel (German), ciel (French), cielo (Spanish), and hemel (Dutch). 

"The modern English word 'heaven' is derived from the earlier (Middle English) heven (attested 1159); this in turn was developed from the previous Old English form heofon. By c. 1000, heofon was being used in reference to the Christianized 'place where God dwells,' but originally, it had signified 'sky, firmament.'"
Wikipedia
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"[...] sky (n.) c.1200, 'a cloud,' from Old Norse sky 'cloud,' from Proto-Germanic skeujam 'cloud, cloud cover' (cognates: Old English sceo, Old Saxon scio "cloud, region of the clouds, sky;" Old High German scuwo, Old English scua, Old Norse skuggi 'shadow'; Gothic skuggwa 'mirror'), from PIE root (s)keu- 'to cover, conceal' (see hide (n.1)). Meaning 'upper regions of the air' is attested from c.1300; replaced native heofon in this sense (see heaven). In Middle English, the word can still mean both 'cloud' and 'heaven,' as still in the skies, originally 'the clouds.'"
Online Etymology Dictionary
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"[...] The ángelos is the default Septuagint’s translation of the Biblical Hebrew term mal’ākh denoting simply ‘messenger’ without specifying its nature. In the Latin Vulgate however the meaning becomes bifurcated: when mal’ākh or ángelos is supposed to denote a human messenger, words like nuntius or legatus are applied. If the word refers to some supernatural being, the word angelus appears.
Wikipedia
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“Across the spectrum of organized religions people who acknowledge the existence of God, tend to make allusions to a God associated with a ‘Heaven above.’ This God is popularly viewed as having made directives as forms of commandments various doctrines associated with organized religions that humanity is obey.
     ‘Hell’ is then often associated with these organized religions and is imputed to exist in some kind of "below Underworld". However, African Elder, Credo Mutwa, suggests that before the intrusion of Manipulative Extraterrestrials through organized religion, earthbound indigenous peoples had appreciated God, as not to be associated with a ‘Heaven above,’ and that has made commandments.
      Rather, indigenous people critically appreciated Earth's biosphere to be the living expression of God.
     That is why indigenous peoples from Canada, the United States, and other parts of the Americas, as well as in Africa, have tended to seek to live in balance with nature. African Elder Credo Mutwa and Gnostic accounts documented by John Lash suggest that ‘Hell’ may have actually descended to Earth ‘from above,’ in the sky.
     Indigenous peoples tend to view God and Nature to be one, and they view humanity as having a spiritual and social responsibility to respect planet Earth.”
— Peter Tremblay, bibliotecapleyades
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cowboys and cowgirls

Dan Blocker's "Bonanza" Ten Gallon Hat (from: liveauctioneers)













"The expert — one of several female CIA employees on whom 'Maya,' the lead character in the movie Zero Dark Thirty, was based — has previously been identified in the media as a CIA officer involved in the rendition program. But the Senate report offers the first detailed account of the depth of her involvement. […]
     Few CIA employees have been more central to the agency's battle against al Qaeda than the expert, a former Soviet analyst who has worked in the CIA's Counterterrorist Center and in the al Qaeda unit since the mid-1990s, according to interviews with several former CIA officers who worked with her.
     The expert already survived one controversy; she came under harsh criticism after a subordinate on the bin Laden unit refused to share the names of two the 9/11 hijackers — Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi — with the FBI prior to the attacks, which was considered by the 9/11 Commission as a key intelligence failure. It is unclear if she was ever reprimanded for her role in the incident.
     But one former intelligence officer who worked directly with her at the time said the expert bears direct responsibility for the intelligence failures prior to 9/11 and should have faced consequences. 'She should be put on trial and put in jail for what she has done,' the former officer said.”
— Matthew Cole, NBC News
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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

we're with you all the way...

Source image: Elements of Style
“As Americans learned about the deeply disturbing tactics of the CIA's post-9/11 torture program this week, the government in Brazil released a report filled with its own history of systemic abuses. The nearly-2,000-page report by Brazil's National Truth Commission detailed a pattern of killings and torture during a period of military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985. […]
     The security forces' methods included killings, disappearances, sexual violence and other forms of torture, as The Washington Post notes. There were such horrific violations as 'the introduction of insects into victims' bodies,' according to Newsweek.
     The truth commission identified 377 perpetrators from all levels of the Brazilian state. Many of the accused had received training from the U.S. and U.K. in interrogation tactics that, according to The Guardian, violated human rights.
     Buzzfeed writes that a large part of that education occurred at the U.S. Army's School of the Americas. This facility, located in Panama until the mid-1980s, acted as a training ground for military members from many Latin American countries. It has since been renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation and is now run out of Fort Benning near Columbus, Georgia.”
— Nick Robins-Early, Huffington Post
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“[Gustave] Le Bon introduced his crowd psychology theory in his 1895 publication The Crowd: A study of the Popular Mind. The French psychologist characterized his posited effect of crowd mentality, whereby individual personalities become dominated by the collective mindset of the crowd. Le Bon viewed crowd behavior as ‘unanimous, emotional, and intellectually weak.’ He theorized that a loss of personal responsibility in crowds leads to an inclination to behave primitively and hedonistically by the entire group.”
Wikipedia
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“About half of Americans believe that the CIA was justified in its harsh interrogation methods of “war on terror” detainees, a poll found Monday, days after a damning US report revealed harrowing details of torture.
     […] 51 percent of people in the United States believe the CIA’s methods were justified (29 percent said not) and 56 percent said the intelligence gathered from those methods prevented terrorist attacks, a Pew Research Center survey found.
     There was more doubt, however, about the decision to release the Senate report, with 42 percent saying it was the right move against 43 percent who said it was not. Fifteen percent did not know.”
RAWSTORY
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Isis on the march (from: Nox & Friends


“Robert Gellately […] conducted a widely respected survey of the German media before and during the war, concluding that there was ‘substantial consent and active participation of large numbers of ordinary Germans’ in aspects of the Holocaust, and documenting that the sight of columns of slave labourers were common, and that the basics of the concentration camps, if not the extermination camps, were widely known. The German scholar, Peter Longerich, in a study looking at what Germans knew about the mass murders concluded that: ‘General information concerning the mass murder of Jews was widespread in the German population.’”
Wikipedia
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how to cozen a throttlebottom with brabble

From: Puppies and Flowers















Here's a few archaic words that need to be revived:

brabble: (verb) to quarrel about trifles; esp. to quarrel noisily, brawl, squabble about minutia (can also be used as a noun, as in: "Enough of this useless grabble!")

cozen: to swindle by artful deception

maunder: to grumble; to drivel; to mutter

ruth: pity; remorse; sorrow (as "full of ruth," the opposite of "ruthless," I guess...)

tentiginous: lust-provoking

throttlebottom: harmless incompetent who holds public office

toft: a small hill

tosticated: fuddled; perplexed

trig: stone placed under a wheel to keep it from rolling


Friday, 12 December 2014

self-deportation

From: The Associated Press
“Corporations are people, my friend.”
— Mitt Romney (2011)

“It has been a bad week for fast-food mascots. In the same period that RetireRonald.com launched to blast the McDonald's clown for luring kids into unhealthy lifestyles, two mental health organizations have been deeply upset by a Burger King advertisement that can best be described as completely bonk ... er, nut ... er, cucko ... er, in poor taste.
     The ad in question features the mascot King running maniac ... er, psychot ... er, quickly through an office building. He breaks a window pane, gives a befuddled-looking woman a Whopper, then is tackled by two white-uniformed medical types. The King is 'crazy' and 'insane,' the medical types explain, because he wants to give away his sandwich for the low, low price of $3.99!
     'I was stunned. Absolutely stunned and appalled,' says Michael Fitzpatrick, executive director for the Arlington-based National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one of the nation's largest mental health advocacy organizations. He called the ad 'blatantly offensive' and hopelessly retrograde in its depiction of mental illness, adding that the commercial could lead to further stigmatization-the primary barrier for individuals to seek out treatment."
The Associated Press
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“This new Americans for Tax Fairness report shows that Burger King and its leading shareholders will dodge an estimated $400 million to $1.2 billion in taxes between 2015 and 2018 from its planned merger with Tim Hortons, a Canadian company. This contradicts the assertion by CEO Daniel Schwartz that Burger King’s plan to become a Canadian company (known as an inversion) 'is really not about taxes.'
The ATF report finds that by renouncing its U.S. corporate 'citizenship' Burger King could dodge $117 million in U.S. taxes on profits that it held offshore at the end of 2013. Burger King has been able to indefinitely defer paying taxes on those profits under U.S. law; by becoming a Canadian company it may never pay U.S. taxes on those profits.
     In addition, Burger King may avoid an additional $275 million in U.S. taxes between 2015 and 2018 because under Canadian law it will no longer have to pay (even on a deferred basis) U.S. taxes on future worldwide profits.”
Americans for Tax Fairness
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saudi arabian nights

G.W. Bush & Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia (from: say it ain't so already)

or... "every time you buy some gas a terrorist get's his wings."

“[…] ‘It’s about the Bush Administration and its relationship with the Saudis.’ Stephen Lynch, a Massachusetts Democrat, told me that the [28 page] document is ‘stunning in its clarity,’ and that it offers direct evidence of complicity on the part of certain Saudi individuals and entities in Al Qaeda’s attack on America. ‘Those twenty-eight pages tell a story that has been completely removed from the 9/11 Report,’ Lynch maintains.
     Another congressman who has read the document said that the evidence of Saudi government support for the 9/11 hijacking is ‘very disturbing,’ and that ‘the real question is whether it was sanctioned at the royal-family level or beneath that, and whether these leads were followed through.’ Now, in a rare example of bipartisanship, Jones and Lynch have co-sponsored a resolution requesting that the Obama Administration declassify the pages. […]
     The theory behind the lawsuit against the Saudis goes back to the 1991 Gulf War. The presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia was a shattering event in the country’s history, calling into question the ancient bargain between the royal family and the Wahhabi clerics, whose blessing allows the Saud family to rule. In 1992, a group of the country’s most prominent religious leaders issued the Memorandum of Advice, which implicitly threatened a clerical coup. The royal family, shaken by the threat to its rule, accommodated most of the clerics’ demands, giving them more control over Saudi society. One of their directives called for the creation of a Ministry of Islamic Affairs, which would be given offices in Saudi embassies and consulates. As the journalist Philip Shenon writes, citing John Lehman, the former Secretary of the Navy and a 9/11 commissioner, ‘it was well-known in intelligence circles that the Islamic affairs office functioned as the Saudis’ 'fifth column' in support of Muslim extremists.’”
— Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker
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“A few nights after he resigned his post as secretary of state [...] Colin L. Powell answered a ring at his front door. Standing outside was Prince Bandar, then Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, with a 1995 Jaguar.
Photo: keywordpictures
     Mr. Powell’s wife, Alma, had once mentioned that she missed their 1995 Jaguar, which she and her husband had traded in. Prince Bandar had filed that information away, and presented the Powells that night with an identical, 10-year-old model.”
— Helena Cooper and Jim Rutenberg, The New York Times
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“In the Horn of Africa and East Africa, Wahhabism was introduced in the early 1950′s. Saudi sponsored charities, al-Haramain Islamic Foundation and the International Islamic Relief Organization associated with Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law, built numerous mosques and madrassas. These Saudi NGO’s offered education, humanitarian aid, and other charitable programs. Both organizations were subsequently accused of supporting and financing terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda. […]
     Saudi money often ends up in [the] hands of militants. Saudi-sponsored NGOs operating in sub-Saharan Africa have been unmistakably linked to global terrorist groups. [T]he Somalia office of the Saudi-sponsored charity al-Haramain has been connected to al-Qaeda and the group Al-Itihaad Al-Islamiya (AIAI) that has terrorized the Horn of Africa.’ […]
     There are numerous imams in the United States and Europe preaching a form of Sunni fundamentalism practiced in Saudi Arabia that justifies armed jihad. Saudi Arabia has financed over 4,000 mosques, religious schools, and cultural centers around the world in recent years. Across America there are over 2,000 mosques and Islamic centers, an increase of almost 50 percent since the year 2000, and over 100 percent since 1990.
     In a 2007 Citizen Warrior article, author Mark Silverberg stated that for American Muslim moderates, the harsh reality of having their religion hijacked by Wahhabi radicals is something they have yet to confront. “Radical Islamic groups have now taken over leadership of the ‘mainstream’ Islamic institutions in the United States and anyone who pretends otherwise is deliberately engaging in self-deception […]”
— John Price (Former U.S. Ambassador)
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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

soul-sold eyes

James Mitchell (left), Bruce Jessen (right) independent.ie
“By 2005, the psychologists, James Mitchell and John 'Bruce' Jessen of Spokane, WA, had formed a company specifically to contract with the CIA. The agency, in turn, outsourced virtually all aspects of the program to Mitchell, Jessen & Associates in the form of a contract with options totaling more than $180 million.
     Despite having no experience or training in actual interrogation, Mitchell and Jessen personally interrogated many of the CIA's most significant detainees. To the degree there was any effort to assess the effectiveness of the interrogation program, Mitchell and Jessen graded their own work. By 2009, the psychologists had collected $81 million on the contract when the Obama Administration abruptly terminated it.
     The Senate report also notes that in 2007, Mitchell, Jessen & Associates received a multi-year indemnification agreement from the CIA to shield the company and its employees from legal liability arising out of the program. So far the CIA has paid out more than $1 million pursuant to the agreement.”
— Ryan Casey, Huffington Post
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“[FBI agent] Ali Soufan, in his early 30s at the time, was an advocate of the traditional FBI strategy known as 'rapport building,' which is based on the notion that an interrogation can only produce the desired results once a rapport has been developed with the prisoner. Soufan dressed the fresh gunshot wounds Zubaydah had received during the arrest. He told Zubaydah that he even knew the nickname he had been given by his mother. […]
     Soufan showed Zubaydah photos of al-Qaida members. When he saw a photo of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the prisoner identified him as the man who had planned and organized the Sept. 11 attacks. Later the Bush administration -- with no justification whatsoever -- would celebrate this piece of information from the FBI interrogation as a significant breakthrough and evidence of the effectiveness of its new interrogation techniques.
     A few days later, CIA agents arrived in Thailand. They had brought along James Mitchell, the architect of the new interrogation methods. Suddenly the tone changed dramatically. Mitchell gave orders to intensify Zubaydah's treatment if he did not respond to questions.
     One day Soufan, seeing that the prisoner was naked, threw him a towel. Later on, he and Mitchell argued heatedly over the prisoner's treatment. 'We're the United States of America, and we don't do that kind of thing,' Soufan recalls shouting at Mitchell. He also asked Mitchell who had authorized him to use the aggressive methods. Mitchell responded that he had received approval from the 'highest levels' in Washington.
     All this happened in April 2002, four months before the Bush administration issued its first torture memorandum to legally justify the interrogation techniques.”
— John Goetz and Britta Sandberg, Spiegel Online
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flaccidware

Photo: Celtic Tree of Life Knot (a still from YouTube)

"One of the interesting things about the mind is that even though we all have one, we don't have perfect insight into how to get the best from it. This is in part because of flaws in our ability to think about our own thinking, which is called metacognition. Studying this self-reflective thought process reveals that the human species has mental blind spots.
     One area where these blind spots are particularly large is learning. We're actually surprisingly bad at having insight into how we learn best. […] On the final exam differences between the groups were dramatic. While dropping items from study didn’t have much of an effect, the people who dropped items from testing performed relatively poorly: they could only remember about 35% of the word pairs, compared to 80% for people who kept testing items after they had learnt them.
     It seems the effective way to learn is to practice retrieving items from memory, not trying to cement them in there by further study. Moreover, dropping items entirely from your revision, which is the advice given by many study guides, is wrong. You can stop studying them if you've learnt them, but you should keep testing what you've learnt if you want to remember them at the time of the final exam.”
— Tom Stafford, BBC
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“Memory does not provide a perfect record of the past and can be altered long after acquisition. This malleability of memory has important implications, for public and private spheres of life. The dynamic nature of memory is probably not a design flaw; it can allow us to update existing knowledge in light of new information. Understanding the dynamics of memory change is one of the current challenges facing cognitive neuroscience, but until recently we have lacked experimental approaches to address this problem, and the neural mechanisms controlling memory updating remain obscure. Recent work on the phenomenon of memory 'reconsolidation' provides a methodological approach to disentangling the processes involved in this form of memory modification (Dudai 2006).”
— Almut Hupbach, Oliver Hardt, Rebecca Gomez and Lynn Nadel, Learning & Memory
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See a related post here...

gang of five

Source images: quota, Huffington Post

"GENEVA (AP) — All senior U.S. officials and CIA agents who authorized and carried out torture like waterboarding as part of former President George W. Bush's national security policy must be prosecuted, top U.N. human rights officials said Wednesday. The U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Raad al-Hussein, said it is 'crystal clear' under international law that the United States, which ratified the U.N. Convention Against Torture in 1994, now has an obligation to ensure accountability. 'In all countries, if someone commits murder, they are prosecuted and jailed. If they commit rape or armed robbery, they are prosecuted and jailed. If they order, enable or commit torture — recognized as a serious international crime — they cannot simply be granted impunity because of political expediency,' he said.”
— John Helprin, AP via Huffington Post
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Tuesday, 9 December 2014

best to keep quiet and hope for the best...

From: Ronna Detrick

“An Idaho man was arrested last Saturday for strangling his own dog to death at the Daniels Parkway rest stop along I-75 in Fort Myers.
     Witnesses say a dog leaped out of a van driven by 54-year-old Larry Ellis Peterson and attacked a Yorkie on a leash. Peterson got out of his and kicked his dog and managed to get it away from the Yorkie.
     The owner of the Yorkie had left the scene to take her pet to a vet to get its wounds treated. A Lee County Sheriff's deputy arrived to find Peterson's dog dead.
     One witness said Peterson had asked him for a knife to cut the dog's head off. When that witness refused to help he and another witness said that Peterson then choked the dog to death.
     […] Peterson was charged with one count of cruelty to animals causing death or serious injury.”
Fox4
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“I will say that the ‘if you can talk, you can breathe’ talking point is an instant invalidator of the speaker, and something that continually makes me need to stifle the personal urge to punch the speaker in the throat. Yes, yes—the victim in such a scenario is attempting to convey that while they can indeed currently breathe, they are not necessarily confident that they will be able to keep said breathing up much longer.
     I suppose the more proper expression would to say something like:
‘Hello, persons surrounding me, I am getting fuzzy-headed due to lack of oxygen and my vision is blurring and I feel like I am going to pass out, I require immediate assistance because I cannot go on describing these various symptoms much longer.’
    Instead the person—say, an asthma or stranglehold victim—shortens it to something like a gasping three-word ‘I can't breathe’ and expects/hopes the people surrounding him will comprehend what he or she meant by that, naturally assuming he or she is not surrounded by complete fucking idiots.”
— Hunter, Daily Koss
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“The state of New York is often associated with its most famous city. As much of a large metropolis as New York City is, the state has numerous, large rural areas. All New Yorkers are subject to the same animal cruelty laws whether inside the city or out. When these laws are broken they result in fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 and possible prison time up to 18 months. The severity of the crime and the number of offenses dictates the punishment.”
eHow
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global village people

From: EdinPhoto
“The world's wealthiest people aren't known for travelling by bus, but if they fancied a change of scene then the richest 85 people on the globe – who between them control as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population put together – could squeeze onto a single double-decker.
     The extent to which so much global wealth has become corralled by a virtual handful of the so-called 'global elite' is exposed in a new report from Oxfam on Monday. It warned that those richest 85 people across the globe share a combined wealth of £1tn [$1.57 trillion],  as much as the poorest 3.5 billion of the world's population.”
— Graeme Wearden, The Guardian
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“Our image of the very very rich — MacMansions, only scaled up; nice cars, only pricier; like us, but with more toys — is very very wrong. ... They never ride first class because they never fly commercial ... they own airplanes. They don't own homes, they own estates — so many of them in fact that not one is 'home' in the normal sense. Now extend that — for most of these people, not one country is home either. ... Real Money lives in the world, everywhere, all of it. And most are loyal to none of it. […]
     [Yet they] control most aspects of public life. Whether you live poorly or well, you work so they can be richer. You're fired when they want you fired. You're killed — in their wars; by their poisons; by their unaffordable health care system; by your poverty; by their police — when they want you to die.
     Like fish in water, you live with their greed every day. You watch their propaganda (we call it 'entertainment'). You vote for their candidates. Their touch and reach is everywhere, yet they're invisible to us. The key to their destruction is to expose their lives to view.
     In a demonstrable way, life on this planet is under the control of fewer than 200,000 people (Eskow) — at the top, a lot fewer than that — all part of a connected self-recognizing tribe whose culture is pathological (Sachs). The truth could not be more blunt or more plain. It's why we're careening off so many cliffs.”
— RJ Eskow and Jeffrey Sachs, via Crooks and Liars
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“They are the elite of the elite: Although they account for far less than 1 percent of lawyers who filed appeals to the Supreme Court [of the USA], these attorneys were involved in 43 percent of the cases the high court chose to decide from 2004 through 2012.
     The Reuters examination of the Supreme Court’s docket, the most comprehensive ever, suggests that the justices essentially have added a new criterion to whether the court takes an appeal – one that goes beyond the merits of a case and extends to the merits of the lawyer who is bringing it.
     The results: a decided advantage for corporate America, and a growing insularity at the court. Some legal experts contend that the reliance on a small cluster of specialists, most working on behalf of businesses, has turned the Supreme Court into an echo chamber – a place where an elite group of jurists embraces an elite group of lawyers who reinforce narrow views of how the law should be construed.”
— Joan Biskupic, Janet Roberts and John Shiffman, Reuters
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Sunday, 7 December 2014

it's a crime

From: policeguide


























“The crime legislation of the 1990′s didn’t just put more cops on the streets and build more prisons, it also made sure those cops were armed to the teeth. Throughout the 90′s, there was an expansion of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and Byrne grants, which financed local police departments to wage a heavy-handed drug war (both programs increased under President Obama).
      This past June, progressive House Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) introduced an amendment to the defense appropriations bill that would block the 'transfer' of 'aircraft (including unmanned aerial vehicles), armored vehicles, grenade launchers, silencers, toxicological agents, launch vehicles, guided missiles, ballistic missiles' from the Department of Defense to state and local police forces. The amendment received the support of only 62 Members, and those voting against it included Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO), who represents Ferguson, and every senior member of Democratic Party leadership including Reps. Nancy Pelosi (CA), Steny Hoyer (MD), and James Clyburn (SC).
     These Democrats (and Republicans, most of whom joined them) were courted by police unions such as the National Fraternal Order of Police and by weapons manufacturers who develop the Pentagon armaments that are now finding their way to the police."
— Zaid Jilani, Salon Read more…

"Slave Patrol" (from: LewRockwell) — see a slave patrol in action here...












“Whether or not crime was on the rise [in ninetieth century America], after the introduction of modern policing the number of arrests increased. The majority of these were for misdemeanors, and most related to victimless crimes, or crimes against the public order. They did not generally involve violence or the loss of property, but instead were related to public drunkenness, vagrancy, loitering, disorderly conduct, or being a 'suspicious person.' In other words, the greatest portion of the actual business of law enforcement did not concern the protection of life and property, but the controlling of poor people, their habits and their manners. Sidney Harring wryly notes: 'The criminologist's definition of "public order crimes" comes perilously close to the historian's description of 'working-class leisure-time activity.' […]
     The aims and means of social control always approximately reflect the anxieties of elites. In times of crisis or pronounced social change, as the concerns of elites shift, the mechanisms of social control are adapted accordingly. So, in the South, following real or rumored slave revolts, the institution of the slave patrol emerged. White men were required to take shifts riding between plantations, apprehending runaways and breaking up slave gatherings.
     Later, complex factors conspired to produce the modern police force. Industrialization changed the system of social stratification and added a new set of threats, subsumed under the title of the 'dangerous classes.' Moreover, while serious crime was on the decline, the demand for order was on the rise owing to the needs of the new economic regime and the ideology that supported it.”
— Kristian Williams, HISTORY IS A WEAPON
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Saturday, 6 December 2014

divide

Source image: CHRISTINA HH

“[...] When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before. […]
     So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years.
     If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, ‘Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.’ It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t.
     The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.”
— Chris Rock in conversation with Frank Rich, via Upworthy
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“Figure-Ground: The characteristically unequal emphasis in human visual perception on a figure, which stands out against an undifferentiated background, which merely contributes to that perception. This unequal emphasis is found in the distinction between a word and its context between an organism and its environment or between pattern and chance. There are many visual examples of figure and ground reversals which are the equivalents of paradoxes. cybernetics has synthesised the paradoxes arising out of this alternating emphasis by the construction of systems of interacting subsystems in which each is simultaneously a figure in its own right and part of the background for the other subsystems. (Krippendorff)”
Principia Cybernetica Web
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"My dream is that one day you'll have two technicians with Ghostbusters backpacks come to your house and spray your roof [with colloidal quantum dots].” —Illam Kramer

Solar Car Shade (from: Gizmag)
“Pretty soon, powering your tablet could be as simple as wrapping it in cling wrap. Scientists have just invented a new way to spray solar cells onto flexible surfaces using miniscule light-sensitive materials known as colloidal quantum dots (CQDs) -- a major step toward making spray-on solar cells easy and cheap to manufacture.
     [Illan Kramer] calls his system sprayLD, a play on the manufacturing process called ALD, short for atomic layer deposition, in which materials are laid down on a surface one atom-thickness at a time.
     Until now, it was only possible to incorporate light-sensitive CQDs onto surfaces through batch processing -- an inefficient, slow and expensive assembly-line approach to chemical coating. SprayLD blasts a liquid containing CQDs directly onto flexible surfaces, such as film or plastic, like printing a newspaper by applying ink onto a roll of paper. This roll-to-roll coating method makes incorporating solar cells into existing manufacturing processes much simpler. In two recent papers in the journals Advanced Materials and Applied Physics Letters, Kramer showed that the sprayLD method can be used on flexible materials without any major loss in solar-cell efficiency.
     Kramer built his sprayLD device using parts that are readily available and rather affordable -- he sourced a spray nozzle used in steel mills to cool steel with a fine mist of water, and a few regular air brushes from an art store.
     ‘This is something you can build in a Junkyard Wars fashion, which is basically how we did it,’ said Kramer. ‘We think of this as a no-compromise solution for shifting from batch processing to roll-to-roll.’”
Science Daily
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“Solar power is often associated with solar cells on your roof, but here are many ways in which to exploit that never-ending energy of our little star. Artificial leaves have quite a lengthy history, here described with platinum catalysts, as used in labs in Colorado and California.
     The leaf has been more admired recently than ever before, by the chemists struggling to use sunlight energy to prepare hydrogen, oxygen or even electricity. The catalytic equivalent of chlorophyll, which promotes the conversions first of water into oxygen and then hydrogen into carbohydrate, is slowly being worked out. The photocatalyst is pasted onto a transparent indium tin oxide electrode to produce a semiconductor. […]
     The gases hydrogen and oxygen are given off. An artificial leaf is now being prepared to provide the much-vaunted hydrogen fuel that we have been going on about in the latest cars. […]
     The lower cost of their leaf means it can be converted into a full production module very soon, utilising solution synthesis and vacuum filtration. It is also free standing and needs no wiring up or external devices to increase costs. The attraction is the diversion of hydrogen production from the natural gas industry to an almost carbon –free production, using only solar energy.”
— Dave Armstrong, Earth Times
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