deflection from guilt is the rule, orwell plus huxley the new dystopia

Clochard and Posters, Paris. c1930. Gelatin silver print. Photographer André Kertész.

 NBC Sports Host Who Shot Elephant In Face Compares His Critics To Hitler. Makris: Elephant Hunting Critics Are Practicing “Animal Racism.” When people are caught doing something grossly immoral it is generally the case that they deflect. very seldom does someone caught doing something wrong, ironically, especially when there is a huge public outcry, to admit guilt and apologize. Politicians do so occasionally, but almost always with some hedging. Makris has jumped off the deep end with a bizarre counter attack. If he thinks that all animals should be killed in equal number that would mean we should kill as many elephants as we do cows ( about 300 million cattle, bison, sheep, hogs, goats, chickens, turkeys, and ducks in the U.S. every year). African elephants are all listed as threatened species and Indian elephants are critically endangered, so keeping the kill ration equal would mean the extinction of both populations of elephants within a year. He says the elephant fed people. Who exactly? Did a starving village ask him to go out and kill an elephant to fed them because they were unable to do so themselves. One also wonders how it is a fair comparison to say that those who object to the killing of an elephant are exactly the same as Hitler, a man and system of beliefs responsible for the mass murder of six million Jews. Plus a few million other civilians and military. So this Hitler would have taken a moment to see and hear a person kill an elephant and condemned him. Possible, but for obvious reasons, seems unlikely. If the elephant was killed to fed some starving Jews, communists, intellectuals or liberals – all of whom Hitler hated, that might be in the realm of believability. Is it possible that ten of thousands of people had moral objections to what Mr. Makris did because it was yet another cruel and completely unnecessary act in a world that is not suffering from a shortage of such acts. Makris and his supporters make the argument that since there is frequent killing in the world, what is one more. One could theoretically make the argument until the last one eyed man is standing.

Probably the 1946 issue.

N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens

Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials.

According to the I have Nothing to Hide So It is No Big Deal crowd on Twitter, this is just another big yawn. In George Orwell’s dytopian future the government uses various kinds of coercion and spying to keep everyone in line. While in Aldous Huxley’s dystopia the people are pacified with drugs and other form of pleasure inducement that make everyone either accepting or apathetic. It seems they were both right. The Nothing to Hides (NTHs) can watch cable, have a cold drink, order in some food, play with their smart-phone, all under the assumption by the government that they are suspects  – thus everything is fine.

* When people stop by to like a post I generally try to visit their blogs and leave a ‘like’ as well – both because i did like the post and as a kind of thanks. I have not had time to do that lately so I just wanted to thank all of you for stopping by.

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tiny plants make plans, pro women’s health is the only true pro life stance

white lilium wallpaper, spring wallpaper

white lilium wallpaper

 

Phytoplankton social mixers – Tiny ocean plants use turbulence for travel to social gatherings

Tiny ocean plants, or phytoplankton, were long thought to be passive drifters in the sea — unable to defy even the weakest currents, or travel by their own volition. In recent decades, research has shown that many species of these unicellular microorganisms can swim, and do so to optimize light exposure, avoid predators or move closer to others of their kind.

If a human wants to optimize their light exposure, avoid predators or decide to socialize they have to engage a very complex set of neurons. While fascinating, we’re not too amazed to learn that bees have a system of community that relies heavily on communication – some of which involves a hip little dance. We are moved, though not surprised that some birds grieve for their dead, they do have neurons after all. So how are phytoplankton communicating. What cells initiate the communication. How do they know, as in have knowledge their behavior resulting in better outcomes for their survival.

beach sailing c1900

beach sailing, c1900.

“How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”
Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky.

I’m honestly not sure where the moniker “pro-life” came from. People that describe themselves as such, with a cooperative and unquestioning echo from the media, regularly engage in behavior that results in the opposite of  would be pro-life, A Pill Available in Mexico Is a Texas Option for Abortion. As most of us know in North America, if people want a drug badly enough they will get it. So people who want it or similar drugs will get misoprostol. The number of aborted pregnancies will remain the same or increase. Though used without the supervision of a doctor will result in more partial abortions with medical complications and deaths of women.

Sunday is the Day the Corporate Media Help Conservatives Spread Their Propaganda. There has been a tiny bit of improvement over the study MM did last year. It is a sad state of conservative culture that they need this relentless reinforcement of their ideology – with as few dissenting voices as possible. That would denote a lot of insecurity. One of the trademarks of authoritarian nationalism is insecurity, the fear of fair debate. If Sunday conservatives feel they’re starting to lose they can always use the Bill O’Reilly Rule – ‘I yelled the loudest and was the biggest smart-ass so I won.’

the sexual assault of don draper, anxiety presents possibilites

montreal skyline wallpaper

montreal skyline wallpaper

 

I read a fair number of Mad Men synopsizes ( Slate has a good serial review, including this one of Bob and being in the closet in the 60s). While I pick up some small details I may have missed, few cause me to reevaluate a episode, Don Draper Was Raped

Throughout most of the episode, Aimee serves as a surrogate mother for Dick; she lets him recuperate in her bed and offers him rest, comforting words, spoonfuls of warm broth. However, in their penultimate scene together, Aimee’s maternal kindness turns oddly predatory. She approaches her bed where Dick is lying weakly, fever newly broken, and asks, “Don’t you want to know what all the fuss is about? “No,” Dick replies forcefully, averting his eyes and hugging the blankets tightly against his chest as she reaches under the covers to touch him. “Stop it,” he says, clearly uncomfortable, even afraid. But Aimee doesn’t stop.

I was not in the camp of people who thought of that events as simply Don losing his virginity or “The Wall Street Journal, Aimee “guides [Dick] through his first sexual experience.” A recap at The Daily Mail, despite recounting Dick’s protestations, underplays the interaction as a mere “tryst.” I thought of it as sexual assault or molesting a minor. It wasn’t some scene from a cliche ridden teen comedy where the boy and girl are at least around the same age. As Abigail Rine notes Don was not cooperative and was ill. She notes that we generally associate rape as a male act because we associate it with penetration. We also tend to think that since a male has to be erect, to be capable of sex, than he was consciously aroused. Yet men know that that erections are not always a conscious act. Men, especially young men have them spontaneously. If they didn’t we would not have those scene from comedies like American Pie or the old Porky’s movie. That is not to say they do not have control over their decision making – as some conservatives have claimed. In order to see Don’s assault as rape society will need to expand how it sees coerced sex. We don’t have a problem with seeing the rape of a male by another male as clearly being rape, which Abigail explains, because there is penetration. Since creator/producer Matthew Weiner has gone all Freud on the cast – in terms of cultural interpretations – it helps to understand at least partly why Don is the way he is ( the begging and desperation scenes in contrast to his attempts to be controlling over the course of the series) if one understands that he was sexually abused, or raped.

Someone with some good things to say about anxiety, Kierkegaard on Anxiety & Creativity

“Because it is possible to create — creating one’s self, willing to be one’s self… — one has anxiety. One would have no anxiety if there were no possibility whatever.”

In actuality, no one ever sank so deep that he could not sink deeper, and there may be one or many who sank deeper. But he who sank in possibility — his eye became dizzy, his eye became confused. . . . [W]hoever is educated by possibility is exposed to danger, not that of getting into bad company and going astray in various ways as are those educated by the finite, but in danger of a fall, namely, suicide. If at the beginning of education he misunderstands the anxiety, so that it does not lead him to faith but away from faith, then he is lost. On the other hand, whoever is educated [by possibility] remains with anxiety; he does not permit himself to be deceived by its countless falsification and accurately remembers the past. Then the assaults of anxiety, even though they be terrifying, will not be such that he flees from them. For him, anxiety becomes a serving spirit that against its will leads him where he wishes to go.

The existential pull of options. To seek the calm of relief from anxiety or to settle in to it’s inevitability to so as to push for the next layer of oneself.

 

spring tree leaves wallpaper, the conservative triangle of propaganda

spring tree leaves wallpaper

spring tree leaves wallpaper

 

Does anyone have the impression that the IRS singled out or “targeted” conservative groups seeking special tax status (501(c)4. If so, how did you get that impression. Did you read the New York Times or the Washington Post, watch ABC or the other networks. If you read this The Latest Lie: IRS Targeted Conservatives – it may change your mind. That article does have links to primary sources, including the report from the IG that everyone is using as absolute proof conservatives groups were targeted or denied the status they were seeking unfairly. Not one, not even one tea party group was denied the (501(c)4 status that deserved to have it. In fact some of the groups granted (501(c)4 status should have been denied because they were funneling more than 51% of their donations directly to advertising that advocated the election of certain candidates or the disposition of certain clearly partisan legislation. Why do we find ourselves in this bubble of misinformation. These major media outlets do not seem to have a liberal bias, according the well-known myth. On the contrary. The IG’s report (pdf), which many people have not bothered to read, trusting that the media would not get such a big story wrong. In the report it says that “For the 296 total political campaign intervention applications TIGTA reviewed as of
December 17, 2012, 108 had been approved, Final Report issued on May 14, 2013 28 were withdrawn by the applicant, none had been denied, and 160 were open from 206 to calendar days (some for more than to the Internal Revenue Service Acting three years and crossing two election cycles).” I’m not claiming the IRS is completely innocent ( the time delays seem unfair). Only that conservative groups were not signaled out. That perhaps some of the groups that gave up seeking 501 were conservative, but that is not that same as targeting. Some of them were liberal groups. Why are we not hearing from the media about liberal groups being subjected to the same basic litmus tests as conservative groups. Why are we not hearing that more liberal groups were denied 501 status than tea stain groups. This tsunami wave of sound bites has happened before. It is not a coincidence and no tin foil is required, it is not an especially secret conspiracy. Like the IG report on the IRS. People could read that. It does take some reading comprehension and analysis skills, but nothing a high school grad couldn’t handle. Yet we’re not reading the report, we’re hearing or participating in the echo of the media’s interpretation of the report,  Background: Democrats & The Netroots

The Triangle

Looking at the political landscape, one proposition seems unambiguous: blog power on both the right and left is a function of the relationship of the netroots to the media and the political establishment. Forming a triangle of blogs, media, and the political establishment is an essential step in creating the kind of sea change we’ve seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

[  ]…With a well-developed echo chamber and superior top-down discipline, the right has a much easier time forming the triangle. Fox News, talk radio, Drudge, a well-trained and highly visible punditocracy, and a lily-livered press corps takes care of the media side of the triangle. Iron-clad party loyalty – with rare exceptions – and a willingness of Republican officials to jump on the Limbaugh-Hannity bandwagon du jour takes care of the party establishment side of the triangle. The rightwing netroots, therefore, is already working within the triangle on most issues. Their primary strategic aim is to prevent the left from forming its own triangle, as occurred with Katrina. It’s a defensive posture, with the goal being the preservation of the status quo. Which explains why the right is profoundly hostile to dissent and why the pretense to libertarianism is common: “independent thinkers” don’t like to be seen as defending the powers that be.

The triangle construct also explains rightwing bloggers’ relentless attacks on the “MSM” and on anyone who contends that the media is conservative. In a nation dominated by shrill rightwing voices, with all branches of government in the hands of Republicans, and an ineffectual press corps, the “liberal media” myth is so absurd that it requires no rebuttal. But the right desperately needs to keep the media from doing what they did in the aftermath of Katrina: tell the unvarnished truth. They need to block the left from building the kind of triangle that Katrina generated, where outspoken left-leaning bloggers are joined by leading Democrats and reporters who have no choice but to describe the catastrophic results of Bush’s dismal leadership. The result in Katrina’s case is a major political crisis and a dramatic shift in public perceptions, a body blow to the long-standing conventional wisdom of Bush as a “resolute leader” and a protector.

Whereas rightwing bloggers can rely on their leadership and the rightwing noise machine to build the triangle, left-leaning bloggers face the challenge of a mass media consumed by the shop-worn narrative of Bush the popular, plain-spoken leader, and a Democratic Party incapacitated (for the most part) by the focus-grouped fear of turning off “swing voters” by attacking Bush. For the progressive netroots, the past half-decade has been a Sisyphean loop of scandal after scandal melting away as the media and party establishment remain disengaged.

Some people will dismiss conservative bloggers because of how unhinged they sound. Not just on any particular day or topic, but everyday they post. With Drudge at the top of that pyramid. At the level of Drudge and the next level down, his echo, new realities are created. So it goes with the IRS controversy, where tea stain group were not targeted and were not asked questions anymore silly than they asked liberal groups. Besides the conservative love of victim-hood this controversy serves their agenda. They get to funnel more money from more anonymous donors to groups getting special tax treatment, and in return they get more control over elections.

duel after a masked ball, helper robots have emotional flaws

Duel after a Masked Ball

Duel after a Masked Ball by Jean-Leon Gerome (11 May 1824 – 10 January 1904). Oil on canvas, 1857).

 

Helper Robots Are Steered, Tentatively, to Care for the Aging

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed Cody, a robotic nurse the university says is “gentle enough to bathe elderly patients.” There is also HERB, which is short for Home Exploring Robot Butler. Made by researchers at Carnegie Mellon, it is designed to fetch household objects like cups and can even clean a kitchen. Hector, a robot that is being developed by the University of Reading in England, can remind patients to take their medicine, keep track of their eyeglasses and assist in the event of a fall.

That sounds like what I am hoping for. Progress towards an agile, artificially intelligent robot to help me in my old age. Though there are already ethical issues. People with neuro-degenerative diseases are using robots and are talking to them in the frequent absence of human care takers. That might look like tragic-comedy in a movie or novel, but real life is another matter. These people think the robots can understand and sympathize with what they are saying.

“I felt like this isn’t amazing; this is sad. We have been reduced to spectators of a conversation that has no meaning,” she said. “Giving old people robots to talk to is a dystopian view that is being classified as utopian.” Professor Turkle said robots did not have a capacity to listen or understand something personal, and tricking patients to think they can is unethical.

That’s the catch. Leaving the questions of ethics aside for a moment, building robots is not simply about creating smart machines; it is about making something that is not human still appear, somehow, trustworthy.

Even if the robot is trustworthy i terms of not hurting the person or damaging property, it will be a while before there are C-3PO, emotionally aware robots who understand the story about your grand children and shows something like genuine empathy. Otherwise we are just tricking the naive or sick that they have a real companion that can listen.

Monet in front of his paintings (The Waterlilies) in his studios

Monet in front of his paintings (The Waterlilies) in his studios. 1920. Gelatin silver print by Henri Manuel (1874-1947).

A Right-Wing Mole at ABC News Jonathan Karl and the success of the conservative media movement

After a stint at the New York Post, Karl soon found his way to CNN, but he was still connected to ideological pursuits; he was a board member at the right-leaning youth-oriented Third Millennium group and at the Madison Center for Educational Affairs—which, like the Collegiate Network, seeks to strengthen young conservative journalism. After moving to ABC in 2003, Karl contributed several pieces to the neo-con Weekly Standard, such as his April 4, 2005 article praising Bush Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as out to “make her mark with the vigorous pursuit of the president’s freedom and democracy agenda.

Recently Karl and ABC News pushed that fake e-mail that suggested some kind of White House cover-up of Benghazi. Maybe not a coincidence that Karl did not do much in the way of verification before passing along a fake e-mail to the public as “news.”

black and white plane hanger, attacks on freedom of the press, peace heart tattoo

Continental Can hangar, Morristown Airport, New Jersey

Continental Can hangar, Morristown Airport, New Jersey. 1952. Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc., photographer.

Continental Can hangar, Morristown Airport, New Jersey

Continental Can hangar, Morristown Airport, New Jersey.1952. I just liked the contrasts and the pattern of the hangar ceiling.

 The Demi-God of Conservatism, Internationalist Rupert Murdoch: Journalism’s Jack the Ripper

The scenario that should truly alarm and depress the rest of us is the one that many have posed as the salvation of these papers: a Tribune Company takeover by Rupert Murdoch. While one group of Los Angeles businessmen is interested in buying the LA Times, they have no interest in the package of eight. That leaves Murdoch. And while resistance to a Koch purchase among editors and reporters is strong enough to convince the new owners that they might be buying an empty shell, the attitude toward a Murdoch takeover is quite the opposite. When, during a meeting of the entire staff, LA Times columnist Steve Lopez asked those assembled to “raise your hand if you would quit if the paper was bought by Rupert Murdoch,” only a handful reportedly did so (compared with about half of the staff when the Koch purchase was proposed). Similarly, one member of the Baltimore Sun staff wrote Jim Romenesko that “Murdoch, at least, is a newsman,” a view that was echoed nearly word for word by a Chicago Tribune journalist: “Murdoch, for all his flaws, is a newspaper man.”

True, but by the same logic, Jack the Ripper was a lover of the ladies. Murdoch may be a “newspaper man,” but he is surely not a man who respects honest journalism or even the laws of society as they apply to it (or much else, for that matter). Just in the past few weeks, Murdoch has been making news in the following ways:

He paid out $139 million to settle a class-action suit by News Corp. shareholders, who accused the board of directors of putting the Murdoch family’s interests above those of the company with regard to both the British phone-hacking episode—one of the most egregious criminal scandals in the history of journalism—and News Corp.’s sweetheart acquisition of his daughter Elizabeth’s television production company. The lawsuit alleged that the board “disregarded its fiduciary duties” and allowed Murdoch to run News Corp. as his “own personal fiefdom.”

Eric Alterman’s larger point was that while the wacky Koch brothers may buy eight newspapers as outlets for their radical propaganda, and many journalists at those newspapers are upset at the idea, they feel less objection to Rupert. Wealthy plutocrats using the media to push their agenda is not new – see William R. Hearst (1863-1951). Though more than ever they are not just ruining the media, they’re smearing the basic concept of journalism. Journalist as unbiased watchdog for the people. We don’t have time to hang around Congress and report on what they do. We don’t have the resources to fly out to a mine disaster, or oil rig explosion to report on how, who and why. Many people have turned to the internet – one of the reasons newspapers print readership is down. Though bills sponsored by corporate interests keep coming up in Congress. How long before the gates of the internet are rigged to point people in certain directions for their news. Or in the worse case scenario, any site that questions the status quo and corporate power, is gated off completely. Even if the Kochs or Murdoch lose money they don’t care ( Eric says the Kochs will care). They make enough money in simple interests to pay for the loses. In the mean time, while conservative media has only limited success, mostly preaching to the choir, they can muck up the truth enough to eck out those tiny electoral victories and advance their legislative agenda.

peace heart tattoo

peace heart tattoo. i added the dust and scratches.

dora wheeler illustration for good times 1881, japanese umbrella wallpaper II, a thermodynamics refresher

Dora Wheeler illustration for Good Times 1881

Dora Wheeler ( 1856–1940) cover illustration for The Prize Painting Book: Good Times (1881). Good Times contained verses written by her mother Candace. It was “published with the intention of providing
the most attractive material for the fascinating work of painting in water colors, and with the certainty of furnishing amusement and instruction combined, to children and beginners in drawing and color-work.” The publisher, White and Stokes also offered three prizes for the best three colored books returned to them “colored in the best manner.” White & Stokes were influenced in the creation of Good Times by the English illustrator Walter Crane. Dora Wheeler thought his designs, which extended from book illustration to mural painting and stained glass embodied the kind of universal quality American designers should strive for. If this cover was made today what would an illustrator substitute for the roller-skates, what looks like either an umbrella or fishing pole and a lacrosse stick? An iPad, a smart phone, a flak vest, a semi-automatic 9mm and a messenger’s bag?

The tendency of the general public to have such short-term memories is unfortunate. Fragments remain. Those fragments are rearranged by the daily noise. At least for those who have not given up completely and tune it all out to play with the kids, read a novel or create a  mental fog with some beer. To take a lot in and retain it requires developing some coping strategy, maybe even a bit of callous on the mind. As to what brings this up, a reminder of some recent history, September 26, 2008, Talks Implode During a Day of Chaos; Fate of Bailout Plan Remains Unresolved

“If money isn’t loosened up, this sucker could go down,” President Bush declared Thursday as he watched the $700 billion bailout package fall apart before his eyes, according to one person in the room.

[  ]…The day seemed to hold promise as it began. On Wednesday night, Mr. Bush had delivered a prime-time televised address to the nation, warning that ”our country could experience a long and painful recession” if lawmakers did not act quickly to pass a huge Wall Street bailout plan.

japanese umbrella wallpaper

japanese umbrella wallpaper

Put away the lab coats, the flasks, the test tubes, the genetic testing, the statistical analysis, conservatives have solved several mysteries, CNN, The Conservative News Network, Gives Republican Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones A Platform. “The government is using products like juice boxes to “encourage homosexuality with chemicals so that people don’t have children.”

The Second Law of Thermodynamics has been abused by so-called intelligent design advocates since about the 1970s. One of the biggest proponents of this abuse is a mathematician named  Granville Sewell. he seems to argue in good faith. By that we mean that rather than being a malicious liar, he honestly believes his utterly bizarre interpretation of the 2nd law. There is some built-in irony here in that he is using physical laws of science, empirical conditions under which things like coming back from the dead in a tangible biological form is not possible. It is well within the conditions of the 2nd law to have mutations and genetic variety to give rise to life. The 2nd law does say the universe is tending toward entropy. Over the years in common parlance entropy has been explained as disorder. That can be true in some situations or systems like your bedroom. Which demands in turn that you expend energy to return the bedroom to some semblance of order. Or an isolated system is defined as one without any outside energy input. Because the universe is an isolated system, the total disorder of the universe is always increasing. The earth this not an isolated system, just as your bedroom is not. As you put energy into cleaning and straightening, the sun puts energy into the earth’s system. As the order on earth stays about the same or increases – though the input of energy, the sum of the order of the universe is still decreasing, which means the 2nd law is not violated. Those of the Sewell school of beliefs also misunderstand the 2nd law in that it is more a set of probabilities that can be defined by some complex math – which seems to hold up pretty well considering the same math put satellites into orbit and a human on the moon.  The state into which energy can be distributed in more ways in a certain state, that state is more probable. An isolated system – often referred to, for better and frequently worse, a closed system, or one that cannot exchange energy or matter with its surroundings is thermodynamically equivalent to a miniature universe. During a reaction, an input of energy, its entropy will increase.  But the entropy of an open system – one that can exchange energy with its surroundings, can increase, decrease, or stay constant. Cells are a closed system. The organelles within a cell are a closed system. Those organelles, with the help of the input of energy from ATP, which can be traced back to energy from the sun, produce reactions that decrease entropy. If this were not true animals could not produce offspring, asexually or sexually. Those offspring, if produced, could not grow.

The unknown is an abstraction; the known, a desert; but what is half-known, half-seen, is the perfect breeding ground for desire and hallucination – Juan José Saer

Indians fishing at the

The original title for this photograph was Indians fishing at the “Soo”. By that they meant American Indians. Taken around 1901 by an unknown photographer. It is   photomechanical photochrom print. The Soo is a set of parallel locks which enable ships to travel between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes.