Monday, August 31, 2015

the kochtopus would FUBAR the SCOTUS if it captured the #45 POTUS


WaPo |  Brian Beutler has an important piece in which he raises an unsettling question: Could the next Republican president nominate one or more Supreme Court justices who would seek to restore a pre-New Deal judicial conception of liberty of contract, with the goal of undermining much of the regulatory state that many Americans take for granted today?

Beutler reports on a movement among legal-minded libertarians to rehabilitate the Lochner decision, the notorious 1905 Supreme Court ruling that invalidated a state law limiting the working hours of bakers, giving its name to the “Lochner era” of Supreme Court rulings in which economic regulations established by popularly elected officials were struck down as unconstitutional. The Lochner era is widely seen to have ended during the New Deal, when the Court upheld (among many other things) a state minimum wage law, concluding that liberty of contract is not an “absolute” right.

Sam Bagenstos, a liberal constitutional scholar at the University of Michigan, tells Beutler that “a full fledged return to Lochner” could ultimately undermine a whole host of economic regulations, including minimum wage, overtime, and worker safety laws and even possibly laws protecting customers from discrimination based on race.

One leading libertarian lawyer tells Beutler frankly that the goal is to invalidate much social welfare legislation “at the federal level,” though I would add that a Lochner restoration might invalidate a fair amount of it at the state level as well. Libertarians are frustrated with the Roberts court for its rulings preserving Obamacare — decisions that have been widely interpreted as a sign of Roberts’ judicial restraint and deference to the elected branches — and the hope is that a Republican president will appoint more unabashedly activist judges when it comes to placing limits on federal power to regulate the economy:

watching him demolish three decades worth of failed and fraudulent conservatard "simple math" is pure political gold...,


WaPo |  Critics, including many leading conservative economists in Washington, call Trump’s plans “nativist,” “protectionist” and incompatible with the party’s core pro-market beliefs. They also worry Trump’s ideas could spread to other GOP contenders.

“This is a very dangerous moment, I think, for the Republican Party,” said Stephen Moore, a conservative economist and co-founder of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, which has been meeting with candidates to urge them to adopt low-tax, low-regulation policies to grow the economy.

“What Trump is saying about trade and immigration is a political and economic disaster,” Moore said. “He’s almost now making it cool and acceptable to be nativist on immigration and protectionist on trade. That’s destroying a lot of the progress we’ve made as a party in the last 30 years.”

Many Republican candidates beyond Trump have voiced opposition to new free-trade deals, including the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership being negotiated by the Obama administration with several Asian countries. While every GOP candidate promises to secure the nation’s southern border and crack down on illegal immigration, some are now expressing an openness to reducing levels of legal immigration.

Free-market economists have long argued that trade and immigration are critical to growing the U.S. economy. Top Republicans have frequently adopted those beliefs.

But a growing portion of the conservative base -- and, to a lesser extent, the country as a whole -- now blames American workers’ economic woes on competition from illegal immigrants and from low-skilled foreign factory workers abroad.

In a 2014 Public Religion Research Institute survey, 57 percent of Republicans said immigrants mostly hurt the economy by driving down wages, compared with 33 percent who said they help by providing low-cost labor. The nation as a whole split evenly on the question.

figuring out who mr. miracle works for and their agenda - is like a splinter in my mind....,


NYTimes |  For years, Republicans have run for office on promises of cutting taxes and bolstering business to stimulate economic growth, pledging allegiance to a Reaganesque model of conservatism that has largely become the party’s orthodoxy.

But this election cycle, the Republican presidential candidate who currently leads in most polls is taking a different approach, and it is jangling the nerves of some of the party’s most traditional supporters.

The tendency of that candidate, the billionaire developer Donald J. Trump, to make provocative, headline-grabbing speeches has helped obscure an emerging set of beliefs: that he would raise taxes in certain areas, particularly on corporations that he believes do not act in the best interests of the United States.

In recent weeks, Mr. Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on American companies that put their factories in other countries. He has threatened to increase taxes on the compensation of hedge fund managers. And he has vowed to change laws that allow American companies to benefit from cheaper tax rates by using mergers to base their operations outside the United States.

Alarmed that those ideas might catch on with some of Mr. Trump’s Republican rivals — as his immigration policies have — the Club for Growth, an anti-tax think tank, is pulling together a team of economists to scrutinize his proposals and calculate the economic impact if he is elected.

 “All of those are anti-growth policies,” said David McIntosh, the president of the Club for Growth, a group that Republican candidates routinely court. “Yes he’s a businessman, but if those are the policies he implements, they’ll drive the economy into the ground and we’ll see huge drops in G.D.P., and frankly I think it would lead to massive loss of jobs.”

you can't reboot a nullity with a tentacle already reaching from its sphincter to its frontal lobes...,


WaPo |  Walker loyalists say the first priority should be to help the governor rebalance himself as a candidate. That, they say, will require some tough love from his campaign advisers and more discipline in developing answers to questions about issues that are not central to Walker’s core message.

While a few of Walker’s campaign staffers have worked with him before, many are newcomers. Two of Walker’s former top political advisers, Keith Gilkes and Stephan Thompson, are now in charge of the pro-Walker super PAC that is legally separated from the campaign.

The campaign is led by Rick Wiley, a former Republican National Committee political director who grew up in the Midwest and has worked in Wisconsin before. Wiley is frequently on the trail with Walker, and several top supporters say he acts too much like a buddy and not enough like a chief operating officer.

“Every candidate needs somebody that can checkmate them in private, like a Karl Rove and ‘W,’ ” one top donor said, referring to George W. Bush’s longtime political adviser. “Is there some concern about senior experience around the governor, actual presidential experience? Yes, no question.”
Wiley, through a campaign spokeswoman, declined to respond to the comments. A spokeswoman said that while the campaign manager did spend the first full week of Walker’s campaign on the road and has made a few trips since then, he is usually at work in Madison.

Despite the falling poll numbers, Walker supporters are optimistic his campaign can still rebound — particularly if he performs well at the Sept. 16 debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
“All campaigns go through cycles, and nobody has ridden all the way to victory,” said Gregory W. Slayton, a major Walker fundraiser who lives in New Hampshire. “There isn’t a candidate out there who hasn’t had really serious issues or challenges.”

mr. miracle plucking suckers off the kochtopus...,


firstlook |  After investing a sizable fortune into building a political machine that now rivals the size and budgets of both major political parties, the conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch are seeing some of their top operatives take jobs with the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.

The fact that many of Trump’s political positions are at odds with those of the Koch brothers does not seem to be a factor.

Take Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager, who spent many years of his career working for the Koch political network, first as an assistant at the Koch-led group Citizens for a Sound Economy in 1997 and from 2008 through earlier this year as a senior staff member to the Koch’s primary grassroots group, Americans for Prosperity. Over the last seven years, Lewandowski helped the Koch network organize Tea Party events and get-out-the-vote efforts for Republican candidates for office.

Alan Cobb, a strategic consultant for Trump, is the former director of Kansas public affairs for Koch Industries and also worked for years as a vice president at Americans for Prosperity.

Trump is being counseled by lawyer Donald F. McGahn, the former Federal Election Commission chair who just months ago represented the Koch political network during hearings with the FEC. McGahn is listed as affiliated with Freedom Partners Action Fund, the Super PAC set up by the Koch brothers and their lobbyists.

In New Hampshire, Trump’s state director is Matt Ciepielowski, the former New Hampshire state field director for Americans for Prosperity. As National Journal reported, as Trump works to develop a team to win the New Hampshire primary, he has hired multiple AFP staff, and even leased a campaign headquarters in the same office building as AFP’s office in Manchester.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

bro. nathanial speaks on the source of mr. miracle's power...,




costumes a dead giveaway that superheroes are insane - elective politics is cosplay....,


newrepublic |  Donald Trump is the Republican frontrunner for president, a fact that has befuddled just about everybody—except perhaps Trump himself—and spawned countless theories: He's leading because Americans are frustrated with politicians and want a straight-talking outsider. Because he shamelessly caters to paranoid conservatives. Because he's famous. He's not politically correct. He never says sorry. He's unfailingly entertaining. And the press can't resist him. But there's another reason that no one has considered yet, a secret weapon that has propelled past charismatic politicians like Bill Clinton and Theodore Roosevelt to the White House: hypomanic temperament

To be clear, I’m not using my authority as a professor of psychiatry to call Trump mentally ill. Hypomanic temperament is not an illness. It is genetically linked to bipolar disorder and manifests the same traits as mania—but crucially, does so to a less severe and more functional degree. Historically, hypomanic temperament has received little attention compared to bipolar disorder, but the founders of modern psychiatry—Eugen Bleuler, Emil Kraepelin, Ernst Kretschmer—first described these personalities around a century ago. "Hypomanics," as I describe them in In Search of Bill Clinton: A Psychological Biography: 
are whirlwinds of activity who are filled with energy and need little sleep, less than 6 hours. They are restless, impatient and easily bored, needing constant stimulation… and tend to dominate conversations. They are driven, ambitious and veritable forces of nature in pursuit of their goals. While these goals may appear grandiose to others, they are supremely confident of success—and no one can tell them otherwise…. They can be exuberant, charming, witty, gregarious but also arrogant…. They are impulsive in ways that show poor judgment, saying things off the top of their head, and acting on ideas and desires quickly, seemingly oblivious to potentially damaging consequences. They are risk takers who seem oblivious to how risky their behavior truly is. They have large libidos and often act out sexually. Indeed all of their appetites are heightened.
This description doesn't just match Clinton; it also sounds an awful lot like Trump. He reports, for example, “I usually sleep only four hours a night,” which by itself is usually a pretty reliable indicator of hypomania, and something he boasts about: “How can you compete against people like me if I sleep only four hours?” He claims to work seven days a week, and in a typical 18-hour day makes “over a hundred" phone calls and have “at least a dozen meetings.” “Without passion you don't have energy, without energy you have nothing!” Trump has tweeted. Hence his taunt of Jeb Bush as “a low energy person,” by contrast. Like most hypomanics, he is distractible. “Most successful people have very short attention spans. It has a lot to do with imagination,” he once wrote. He is correct. The same rapidity of thought that helps engender creativity makes it difficult to stay on one linear track of ideas without skipping to the next. Like most hypomanics, he follows his “vision, no matter how crazy or idiotic other people think it is.” Trump sees himself as a person of destiny and no one is going to talk him out of it. Trump's inflated self-esteem is illustrated by the fact that his net worth is reported by Forbes to be $4 billion, a fraction of the $10 billion he claims. It’s not just hyperbole: Hypomanics' wild optimism systematically distorts their perceptions.

Dripping with arrogance, Trump is an uber-aggressive alpha male who gleefully dominates, bullies, and colorfully disparages his competitors and critics. His hypomanic energy gives him that elusive charisma: Whether you love him or hate him (and charismatic figures produce such polarized responses) he makes himself the center of attention, the most exciting figure on the stage, who consumes all the oxygen in the room.

mr. miracle BEEN saying true things about other denizens of the psychopathocracy


cbsnews |  On Saturday, he took aim at top aide Huma Abedin, who has been embroiled in the recent controversy over Clinton's use of a private email server during her tenure at the State Department, and accused her of sharing classified information with her husband. Abedin's husband, the former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, also suffered a few Trump insults. 

"[Abedin's] receiving very, very important information and giving it to Hillary. Who else is she giving it to? Her husband has serious problems and on top of that, he now works for a public relations firm," Trump said Saturday in a press conference following an appearance at the National Federation of Republican Assemblies (NFRA) convention in Nashville.

Trump added that Abedin was "married to a guy who is obviously psychologically disturbed," referencing the lewd photo scandal that forced Weiner to resign from Congress in 2011. Trump had previously donated $2,000 to Weiner's 2010 congressional campaign, according to the Washington Post.

"So how can she be married to this guy who's got these major problems? She's getting her most important information, it could be, in the world. Who knows what he's going to do with it? Forget about her," the Republican contender continued. "What she did is a very dangerous thing for this country, and probably it's a criminal act." 

A recent investigation found that while Abedin, a current Clinton campaign staffer, worked for the former secretary at the State Department, she had forwarded at least one email that contained potentially classified information.

Trump went after Clinton herself, for comments likening some Republican views on abortion to be expected "from some of the terrorist groups."

"I thought what Hillary Clinton said about terrorists and Republicans being terrorists was a disgraceful statement and she should take it back," Trump said. "She insulted many, many great people."

Saturday, August 29, 2015

relentless criticism of mr. miracle reveals the fundamental weakness of his critics...,



WaPo |  This cartoon, which comes from the pen of Clay Bennett, the editorial cartoonist for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, expresses the belief of almost all of the Republican establishment.

Sure, Donald Trump is leading in the polls everywhere right now, but so was Howard Dean at this point in the 2004 Democratic presidential primary race. And Dean wound up flaming out with Democrats making the "Dated Dean, Married Kerry" bumper sticker a very real thing.

So, eventually, the thinking goes, Trump's support will flame out. The Summer of Trump will turn into the fall of discontent (or something). People who say they are for Trump now are having a laugh but will come to their senses when the actual time to vote nears and they start caring about things like electability. Or Trump will fundamentally disqualify himself in some meaningful way some time soon.

The "sober up" metaphor, of course, isn't entirely new. Seth Meyers has predicted that same thing.

msnbc - following npr's lead - continues shrinking its cathedral big boxes to tiny pop-ups...,


WaPo |  If nothing else, the Sunday move reduces Sharpton’s broadcast time from five hours per week to one hour per week. His activist stature on MSNBC just sustained an 80 percent drop. The clash between Sharpton’s incarnations emerged in striking ways during MSNBC’s coverage of the cases of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner — instances where Sharpton functioned as an advocate for the families and helped to organize protests. “He has an important voice for any audience, but especially for our audience on justice, civil rights and equality issues and we want that voice to be part of menu of things that MSNBC has to offer,” says the NBC News source.

That voice will have less opportunity to showcase its activism, meaning that the sources he formerly interviewed on “PoliticsNation” may opt for other shows on the network. “If you’re an Eric Garner family member . . . you might be more comfortable on [Sharpton’s Sunday show] but you might want to get on the ‘Today’ show,” said the NBC News source.

Sharpton’s Sunday show starts on Oct. 4, and his current gig ends on Sept. 4. MSNBC executives proudly note that the host never missed a single show — which could be a tribute to Sharpton’s nails-man diet (daily intake: a salad and whole wheat toast). Tonight the network is throwing a “little party” to celebrate the host’s tenure; hold the starches!

Friday, August 28, 2015

an obsequious fawning barnacle attacks mr. miracle on behalf of the molluscs....,



fp |  As you drive in through Queens, where LaGuardia Airport and the World’s Fair grounds once stood, you see emerging amid the cranes and the scaffolding the outlines of the Trump Presidential Resort and Casino. Gambling has been legal across America since shortly after his election, providing most of the funding for many of the new president’s signature major projects, from the gilding of customs halls to extending health insurance coverage to include free Hair Club for Men and most forms of plastic surgery for women (or as the new president called it, his “Be Kind to Dogs Act”) to ensuring that every public high school in America has the “Trump bare essentials,” including a heliport, cafeteria cocktail waitresses, and laser teeth whitening for disadvantaged students.

Through all the glitz, however, you notice that the city is starting to take on many of the other grimmer hallmarks of past Trump development projects. Like Atlantic City, it seems full of busloads of the elderly being led past assorted hookers, small-time hoods, and Elvis impersonators. Yakov Smirnoff is the toast of Broadway. And, of course, the city has embraced one of Trump’s favorite financing techniques — bankruptcy. (Just “taking advantage” of the country’s laws, as he likes to put it. Or as he memorably put it in his first inaugural, “Only a schmuck wouldn’t use those laws to cancel the nation’s debt. Serves those Chinese investors who bought U.S. Treasurys right. Am I the nation’s best deal-maker, or what?”)

It is not very luxe on the southern border either. There, a 30-foot-high wall dressed up with the finest gilded barbed wire on top (“I have the biggest heart. The biggest.”) extends from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific. There is just one small door situated between Ju├írez and El Paso. Over it a sign reads “Servant’s Entrance.” Next to it is a small stand with copies of what has become known as the Trump Constitution, available in “English and Mexican.” One notable alteration is that the 14th Amendment has been deleted. (“Some top legal minds think you can fix the whole problem with white-out. So, that’s what I did. If someone wants to sue, they can sue. Good luck winning now that I can print my own money. Am I the world’s best problem solver, or what?”)

The place where the shine has really come to America, however, is clearly in the White House. Everybody in the country remembers the hourlong television special that featured first lady Melania Knauss-Trump taking Americans on a Jackie Kennedy-like tour of the renovated grounds and “world class” executive mansion. With fountains like those at Las Vegas’s Bellagio (“only classier, much, much classier”), the actual Hall of Mirrors from Versailles (“I made Hollande an offer he couldn’t refuse”), and monitors/screens in every room that stream an around-the-clock live broadcast of a presidential reality show that now is showing on every C-SPAN channel (“And the ratings are killer! I am crushing Dancing with the Stars.), it is not the first Trump Palace, but is now certainly the biggest. (Admittedly, it nearly burned down during Trump’s first state dinner when well-known hothead turned Secretary of State John Bolton actually spontaneously combusted, setting Chinese President Xi Jinping on fire while he was eating the “double” Big Mac the president had promised him. But as the president said, “Fire, what fire? Next question.”)

mr. miracle says "tax the molluscs and help the people!"


WaPo  |  Here's what he told Bloomberg Politics in a television interview Wednesday:

"I would say that the hedge fund people make a lot of money and they pay very little tax. I'm about the middle class. I want the middle class to be thriving again. We're losing our middle-class. ... I would let people that are making hundreds of millions of dollars a year pay some tax, because right now they're paying very little tax, and I think it's outrageous. I want to lower taxes for the middle class."

Asked if he was proposing to raise taxes on himself, Trump replied: "That's right. That's right. I'm okay with it, ready, willing. And you've seen my statements. I mean I do very well. I don't mind paying some tax. The middle class is getting clobbered in this country. The middle class built this country, not the hedge fund guys. But I know people in hedge funds, they pay almost nothing, and it's ridiculous, okay?"

That doesn't sound like a Republican candidate for ... almost anything, really. It sounds like Warren Buffett, the billionaire who became a public spokesman for President Obama's efforts to raise taxes on the rich.

Economic policymaking in the Obama era has been dominated in part by a knock-down partisan fight over whether couples earning $450,000 or more should pay a top tax rate of 35 percent or 39.6 percent. The next Democratic nominee will almost certainly propose raising that rate even more. The Republican nominee will almost certainly propose to cut it.

Unless, that is, the GOP nominates the richest candidate in its field.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

cathedralized media and politics not dispassionate, they're vindictive, conniving, and passive aggressive...,


theatlantic |  His statements are completely consistent with his approach to both his business and entertainment careers, which was to connect with people’s guts at the expense of their reason. In his 1987 book, The Art of the Deal, Trump explained his modus operandi: “The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies.  People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do.  That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts.  People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular.”

There has been a tremendous amount of discussion about the “anger”and “frustration”of Trump’s supporters. But it’s not just anger. Tapping all of the passions, including avarice and lust, is the unifying theme of his career. And therein lies the problem.

People have been wrestling with the problem of the passions in politics as far back as Plato and Aristotle. Plato described three parts of the soul—the appetites (like lust), the spirited (military courage), and reason. Reason was a charioteer trying to control the “dark steed” of the passions. The only way to control the appetites was to force the horse to the ground and whip him until he bled.

It’s a violent metaphor, but the ancient diagram has proven stable, continuing today in modern brain science, and even the Pixar movie Inside Out, which tracks the teenage protagonist’s struggle to understand and control her inner impulses.

The problem of the passions in politics was central to the thinking of America’s founders, as well. Take James Madison, the father of the Constitution. As a boy studying with his tutor Donald Robertson, Madison first learned the idea that “our passions are like Torrents which may be diverted, but not obstructed.”

In college, Madison was taught by the great Scottish cleric John Witherspoon that passions originated in an object of intense desire. Passions of love included admiration, desire, and delight. Passions of hatred were envy, malice, rage, and revenge. Most important however was the “great and real” distinction between selfish and benevolent passions. A benevolent passion, Witherspoon taught, came from the happiness of others. A selfish passion stemmed from gratification (like Donald Trump’s stroking of his own ego)—and was the most dangerous to a republic.

The passions are slippery for anyone seeking to control them, particularly in democracies with free speech. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be tamed.

system of governance a fraudulent house of cards unable to withstand honest aggression...,


usatoday |  Donald Trump says he's not a bully and, clinically, he may be right.

On Wednesday, Trump was again defending himself following the latest in a series of spats with network television personalities — this time with Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, who Trump's security detail booted from a news conference the previous night in Iowa.

"I am not a bully,'' the real estate magnate and Republican presidential candidate said on the TODAY show.

Americans may describe the billionaire businessman's behavior in many ways, but psychologists and experts told USA TODAY that textbook bullying shouldn't be one of them. The greater challenge, the bullying experts say, is explaining the reasons for Trump's popularity in a culture that is supposed to frown on naked aggression.

"Bullying is the repeated, intentional harm of another person who has less power than you do,'' said Dewey Cornell, a forensic psychologist and bullying expert at the University of Virginia.
"If it’s him and Rosie O’Donnell going at each other, they may have comparable power,'' he said.
Patti McDougall, associate professor of psychology at the University of Saskatchewan echoed that, saying "bullying does not happen when you’ve got two equals in a fight.''

Most of Trump's targets — from prominent media figures like Ramos and Fox News's Megyn Kelly to fellow presidential candidates — have societal power in their own right.

Trump has singled out Kelly, one of the nation's most-watched cable news hosts, ever since she pointedly questioned him during a Fox News debate. He later insinuated she was menstruating at the time and, since then, he's hurled insults at her, including retweeting a message on Twitter that called her a "bimbo."

The attacks became too much for Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, who on Tuesday called on Trump to apologize.

presstitutes vexed cause mr. miracle won't quit or submit...,


rollingstone |  His signature moment in a campaign full of them was his exchange in the first debate with Fox's Kelly. She asked him how anyone with a history of calling women "fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals" could win a general election against a female candidate like Hillary Clinton.
"I've been challenged by so many people," Trump answered. "I frankly don't have time for political correctness. And to be honest with you, the country doesn't have time either….We don't win anymore. We lose to China. We lose to Mexico….We lose to everybody."

On the surface, Kelly was just doing her job as a journalist, throwing Trump's most outrageous comments back at him and demanding an explanation.

But on another level, she was trying to bring Trump to heel. The extraction of the humiliating public apology is one of the media's most powerful weapons. Someone becomes famous, we dig up dirt on the person, we rub it in his or her nose, and then we demand that the person get down on bended knee and beg forgiveness.

The Clintons' 1992 joint interview on 60 Minutes was a classic example, as was Anthony Weiner's prostration before Andrew Breitbart and Chris Christie's 107-minute marathon apologia after Bridgegate. The subtext is always the same: If you want power in this country, you must accept the primacy of the press. It's like paying the cover at the door of the world's most exclusive club.

Trump wouldn't pay the tab. Not only was he not wrong for saying those things, he explained, but holding in thoughts like that is bad for America. That's why we don't win anymore, why we lose to China and to Mexico (how are we losing to Mexico again?). He was saying that hiding forbidden thoughts about women or immigrants or whoever isn't just annoying, but bad for America.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

speaking of well-heeled wymyn putting foot to ass....,



theregister |  A Chinese hardware hacker has hidden a penetration-testing toolkit into her high-heeled shoes.

The Wi-Fi-popping platforms were forged in a 3D printer, and contain compartments to smuggle hacking hardware past strict security checks in data centres and the like, and later retrieved.

The hacker and pen-tester, who goes by the handle "SexyCyborg", showcases the heels she dubs Wu Ying shoes, named after the famed "shadowless kick" that Chinese folk hero Wong Fei Hung used to distract opponents.

The hacker published snaps of the shoes in an Imgur gallery (somewhat NFSW) showing how a router, backup battery, and lock-picking set can be concealed from security guards while on red team penetration tests.

"With my shadowless shoes I distract the target with my upper body and they don’t see the real danger on my feet," she writes.

"Each shoe has a drawer that can be slid out without my having to take the shoes off [which] can be customised for various payloads.

SexyCyborg says "... my right shoe contains a pen testing drop box which is a wireless router running OpenWRT with a built in rechargeable battery that could either be left running inside the shoe (for war-walking, wifi sniffing and logging) or could be removed and plugged into a convenient open network jack [gaining] gain remote access anytime via SSH tunnel."

established men took a richly deserved christian louboutin in the ass...,


ibtimes | Yes, it is true. Ashley Madison was not hacked - the data was stolen by a woman operating on her own who worked for Avid Life Media. The reason that I am so late to the second act of the Ashley Madison affair is that, without a supercomputer, it has taken over a week to finish the analysis of the massive data dumps that the perpetrator has so generously provided us with.

A hacker is someone who uses a combination of high-tech cybertools and social engineering to gain illicit access to someone else's data. But this job was done by someone who already had the keys to the Kingdom. It was an inside job.

In my first IBTimes UK article about Act One of the Ashley Madison Affair, I alleged that the group of hackers claiming responsibility for the "hack" simply did not exist. I gleaned this information from reliable sources within the Dark Web – which have yet to fail me. I also claimed that it was the act of a single person. 

Any adept social engineer would have easily seen this from the wording in the first manifesto published by the alleged hacking group. I was one of the first practitioners of social engineering as a hacking technique and today it is my only tool of use, aside from a smartphone – in a purely white hat sort of way. But if you don't trust me, then ask any reasonably competent social engineer. 

Today, I can confidently claim that the single person is a woman, and has recently worked within Avid Life Media. I have provided IBTimes UK background information and pertinent elements of the woman's data dump to prove both my access to the data and also to confirm elements of my research, under the strict conditions that it is to be referenced and then destroyed. The data I provided included such delicate material as the decoded password hash tables of every Avid Life and Ashley Madison employee, which I have also now destroyed. 

How did I come to this conclusion? Very simply. I have spent my entire career in the analysis of cybersecurity breaches, and can recognise an inside job 100% of the time if given sufficient data - and 40GB is more than sufficient. I have also practiced social engineering since the word was first invented and I can very quickly identify gender if given enough emotionally charged words from an individual. The perpetrator's two manifestos provided that. In short, here is how I went about it.

full of tim horton donuts toronto five-O makes a public display of pretend badass-ery


ap |  The hacking of the cheating website Ashley Madison has triggered extortion crimes and led to two unconfirmed reports of suicides, Canadian police said Monday.

The company behind Ashley Madison is offering a $500,000 Canadian (US $378,000) reward for information leading to the arrest of members of a group that hacked the site.

Hackers last week released detailed records on millions of people registered with the website, a month after a break-in at Ashley Madison's parent company, Toronto-based Avid Life Media Inc. The website, whose slogan is, "Life is short. Have an affair," is marketed to facilitate extramarital affairs.
Toronto Police acting staff Superintendent Bryce Evans said the hack is having an "enormous social and economic fallout."

"This hack is one of the largest data breaches in the world," Evans said. "This is affecting all of us. The social impact behind this leak, we're talking about families, we're talking about children, we're talking about wives, their male partners."

The hackers who took responsibility for the break-in had accused the website's owners of deceit and incompetence, and said the company refused to bow to their demands to close the site. The hackers referred to themselves as the Impact Team.

Evans said the hackers released the entire Ashley Madison client list, which claims more than 30 million users worldwide. He said the hackers also sent a taunting message to the company CEO and released his emails.

Evans said there are confirmed cases of criminals attempting to extort Ashley Madison clients by threatening to expose them unless payment is received.

The police official did not offer further details of the unconfirmed suicides. He also said hate crimes may be connected to the hack but did not provide details.

Evans addressed the hackers directly, saying their actions are "illegal and will not be tolerated."
"This is your wake-up call," he said.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

a loser/victim's worldview has no evolutionary value I'm obliged to acknowledge...,


WaPo |  But a new study called “Survival of the Fittest and the Sexiest” published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence has found that adolescent bullies have higher self-esteem and social status, as well as lower rates of depression and social anxiety. From an evolutionary standpoint, these combined measures also make the meanest in the playground pack the ones with the greatest sex appeal.

This probably comes at no surprise to anyone who’s seen Mean Girls. And it could be important to the development of new bullying prevention programs, which have long operated on the assumption that bullies are troubled kids alienated from a school’s core population.

“The bullies come out on top,” said Jennifer Wong, the study’s lead researcher. Her surveys, conducted on 135 Vancouver high school students, indicate that bullying is biological, as kids who have dominating tendencies and a desire to rise to the top of social hierarchies often victimize others in order to get there.

Wong came to these conclusions by administering questionnaires that allowed participants to be categorized into one of four groups: bullies, victims, bully/victims (individuals who bully but also report being victimized themselves) and bystanders. Within these categories, the bullies reported the best self-evaluations and the bully/victims the worst.

Since her research indicates that bullies are characterized by behaviors that are innate rather than learned, Wong said, schools might want to consider ways of channeling those tendencies towards more healthy activities instead of attempting to quell bullies’ innate drive to dominate.

the establishment created the cathedral and coercively imposed the logic, language, and values of victims/losers...,


medialens |  On Twitter, George Monbiot succinctly made the point that matters about the Robinson-Salmond 'row':
'Establishment unites to crush popular movements. If movements protest, they're accused of bullying'
Indeed.
Robinson made himself look more ridiculous when he replied to Monbiot:
'protests by a governing party outside a media HQ not a good look'
Robinson was claiming, then, that it was not a public protest outside the BBC headquarters in Glasgow. It was a protest by the ruling Scottish National Party.
Monbiot challenged Robinson to back up his allegation with hard evidence:
'Incidentally, do you have evidence that the protest was organised by the SNP? If so, could you provide it? Thanks.'
As far as we can see, Robinson ignored the challenge to provide evidence for his claim. Instead, he appeared to backtrack when he replied:
'Don't know who organised protest.'
adding, in an attempt to justify his earlier unsubstantiated claim:
'Do know Salmond praised as "joyous", talked of BBC being "scarred" & "gains" for @theSNP'
For many years now, Media Lens has scrutinised Robinson's reporting. Notoriously, he was guilty of repeating false government claims about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, like so many other journalists. When challenged about this, Robinson wrote in a column for The Times:
'It was my job to report what those in power were doing or thinking... That is all someone in my sort of job can do.' (' "Remember the last time you shouted like that?" I asked the spin-doctor', Nick Robinson, The Times, July 16, 2004)
As the US journalist Glenn Greenwald remarked:
'That'd make an excellent epitaph on the tombstone of modern establishment journalism'
But Robinson had also made a solemn promise back then:
'Now, more than ever before, I will pause before relaying what those in power say. Now, more than ever, I will try to examine the contradictory case.' (The Times, op. cit.)
To little or no avail, as we have seen in the intervening years. Robinson hates to be reminded of this. Likewise, he bristles whenever he is told that his professed role is more that of a stenographer - an honourable profession in law courts, of course - than a real journalist. Proper analysis and investigation of government claims and propaganda are systematically missing. Reporting of authoritative alternative viewpoints is minimal or non-existent. But then, as Noam Chomsky once noted of corporate journalism:
'The basic principle, rarely violated, is that what conflicts with the requirements of power and privilege does not exist.' ('Deterring Democracy', Vintage, 1992, p. 79)

kunstler catches mr. miracle...,


kunstler |  Immigration is a practical problem, with visible effects on-the-ground, easy to understand. I’m enjoying the Trump-provoked debate mostly because it is a pushback against the disgusting dishonesty of political correctness that has bogged down the educated classes in a swamp of sentimentality. For instance, Times Sunday Magazine staffer Emily Bazelon wrote a polemic last week inveighing against the use of the word “illegal” applied to people who cross the border without permission on the grounds that it “justifies their mistreatment.” One infers she means that sending them back where they came from equals mistreatment.

It’s refreshing that Trump is able to cut through this kind of tendentious crap. If that were his only role, it would be a good one, because political correctness is an intellectual disease that is making it impossible for even educated people to think — especially people who affect to be political leaders. Trump’s fellow Republicans are entertainingly trapped in their own cowardliness and it’s fun to watch them squirm.

But for me, everything else about Trump is frankly sickening, from his sneering manner of speech, to the worldview he reveals day by day, to the incoherence of his rhetoric, to the wolverine that lives on top of his head. The thought of Trump actually getting elected makes me wonder where Arthur Bremer is when we really need him.

Did any of you actually catch Trump’s performance last week at the so-called “town meeting” event in New Hampshire (really just a trumped-up pep rally)? I don’t think I miscounted that Trump told the audience he was “very smart” 23 times in the course of his remarks. If he really was smart, he would know that such tedious assertions only suggest he is deeply insecure about his own intelligence. After all, this is a man whose lifework has been putting up giant buildings that resemble bowling trophies, some of them in the service of one of the worst activities of our time, legalized gambling, which is based on the socially pernicious idea that it’s possible to get something for nothing.

I daresay that legalized gambling has had a possibly worse effect on American life the past three decades than illegal immigration. Gambling is a marginal activity for marginal people that belongs on the margins — the back rooms and back alleys. It was consigned there for decades because it was understood that it’s not healthy for the public to believe that it’s possible to get something for nothing, that it undermines perhaps the most fundamental principle of human life.

Trump’s verbal incoherence is really something to behold. He’s incapable of expressing a complete thought without venturing down a dendritic maze of digressions, often leading to an assertion of how much he is loved (another sign of insecurity). For example, when he attacked Jeb’s (no last name necessary) statement that we have to show Iraqi leaders that “we have skin in the game,” Trump invoked the “wounded warriors,” saying “I love them. They’re everywhere. They love me.” In the immortal words of Tina Turner, “what’s love got to do with it?”

Monday, August 24, 2015

people speak on their support for mr. miracle


NYTimes |  A review of public polling, extensive interviews with a host of his supporters in two states and a new private survey that tracks voting records all point to the conclusion that Mr. Trump has built a broad, demographically and ideologically diverse coalition, constructed around personality, not substance, that bridges demographic and political divides. In doing so, he has effectively insulated himself from the consequences of startling statements that might instantly doom rival candidates.
In poll after poll of Republicans, Mr. Trump leads among women, despite having used terms like “fat pigs” and “disgusting animals” to denigrate some of them. He leads among evangelical Christians, despite saying he had never had a reason to ask God for forgiveness. He leads among moderates and college-educated voters, despite a populist and anti-immigrant message thought to resonate most with conservatives and less-affluent voters. He leads among the most frequent, likely voters, even though his appeal is greatest among those with little history of voting.

The unusual character of Mr. Trump’s coalition by no means guarantees his campaign will survive until next year’s primaries, let alone beyond. The diversity of his coalition could even be its undoing, if his previous support for liberal policies and donations to Democrats, for example, undermine his support among conservatives. And in the end, the polling suggests, Mr. Trump will run into a wall: Most Republicans do not support his candidacy and seem unlikely ever to do so. Even now, more say they definitely would not vote for him than say they support him.

But the breadth of Mr. Trump’s coalition is surprising at a time of religious, ideological and geographic divisions in the Republican Party. It suggests he has the potential to outdo the flash-in-the-pan candidacies that roiled the last few Republican nominating contests. And it hints at the problem facing his competitors and the growing pressure on them to confront him, as several, like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, are starting to do.

His support is not tethered to a single issue or sentiment: immigration, economic anxiety or an anti-establishment mood. Those factors may have created conditions for his candidacy to thrive, but his personality, celebrity and boldness, not merely his populism and policy stances, have let him take advantage of them.

Tellingly, when asked to explain support for Mr. Trump in their own words, voters of varying backgrounds used much the same language, calling him “ballsy” and saying they admired that he “tells it like it is” and relished how he “isn’t politically correct.”
Trumpism, the data and interviews suggest, is an attitude, not an ideology.

peggy hubbard trolls black lives matter


theatlantic |  “You’re hollering this ‘black lives matter’ bullshit,” Hubbard said. “It don’t matter. You’re killing each other.” In fact, the overwhelming majority of people hollering “black lives matter” have never killed and will never kill anyone. The vast majority of Black Lives Matter protestors are not “tearing up the neighborhood” either. These race-based generalizations rob their objects of individual identities. The fact that some young black men carry guns and commit violent crimes doesn’t mean that other young black men and women––totally distinct individuals who happen to share the same skin color––should have their activism discredited, enjoy fewer civil liberties, or be at increased risk of being killed by cops. It is interesting that the various right-wing news sites that picked up this video failed to catch these flaws, despite fancying themselves champions of individualism, color-blindness, and the rights contained in the United States Constitution.

Hubbard was speaking off-the-cuff at a moment of high emotion; it’s possible that she hasn’t fully considered all the implications of her views; but as stated, they are wrongheaded. She might’ve been on solid ground if she’d stopped at arguing that police were justified in shooting Ball-Bey and that Black Lives Matter was wrong to protest that particular killing; instead, she spoke as if the Ball-Bey encounter bears on the righteousness of protesting other deaths, like Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, or any of the other black men that police officers have been indicted for murdering.
​* * *
Despite these significant disagreements, I’m glad Peggy Hubbard spoke out on Facebook. It’s generally a good thing when citizens earnestly express their views in public discourse, and she deserves kudos for trying to improve her community as best she can. She has articulated beliefs that are shared by a lot of people, which is itself an important service: Insofar as those beliefs are inaccurate or wrongheaded, better that they be aired and debated than invisible and unexamined.
This viral video and the comments around it also represent an opportunity for the activists of Black Lives Matter to understand how some critics of their movement perceive the world, to engage in conversation and debate, to refine any weaknesses in their own thinking that emerge, and to persuade their interlocutors to adjust some of their positions. In fact, despite Hubbard’s harsh words, I’d bet that, properly engaged, she could be persuaded to voice support for at least a portion of the policing-reform agenda. If so, what an ambassador she would make to millions of potential converts.

cathedral equates mr. miracle with trolls and bottom-feeders


slate | Watching Donald Trump bluster and bluff his way through a presidential campaign, I wonder if we underestimate the ways in which Internet vitriol has broadened the parameters of political debate. We are “shocked, shocked” by Trump’s language, but all of it is exactly the sort of thing anyone can encounter in the normal course of reading about politics online. John McCain isn’t a war hero? I’ll bet he finds worse insults than that on his Facebook page, and so does everybody who writes about him. All Mexicans are rapists? I open my Twitter account every morning to find similar and worse (my personal favorite, translated from Polish: “Reading what that @anneapplebaum writes I understand anti-semitism. Jews have an incredible gift for pissing you off”).

The language of online political discourse is now so extreme, and often so far divorced from reality, that Trump’s words fit right in, especially when they make no sense. Trump’s defenders—and I know because they tell me so online—say they admire him because he is allegedly “anti-establishment.” They are wrong: He isn’t anti-establishment at all. As a vastly wealthy man—as one who can invite a former president and his then-senator wife to his wedding and expect them to come—he actually lives at the very heart of a certain slice of the establishment. But of course he is different from other politicians in another sense: He is the only presidential candidate who uses, on television, the kind of language normally found in the comment section of a celebrity website or the more aggressive Reddit forums. Vulgar insults, racist slurs, manufactured “anger,” and invented “facts” are all a normal part of debate in those kinds of public spaces. Thanks to Trump, they have now migrated to presidential politics, too.

As others have noted, protest candidates are hardly a uniquely American phenomenon. Silvio Berlusconi brought the language and style of Italian tabloid television into the center of Italian politics; multiple far-right ideologues have brought anger and bombast into European debates. In Britain, the obscurantist far left is having a revival in the form of Jeremy Corbyn, a bearded Marxist—he favors the nationalization of industry and nuclear disarmament—who may well be the next leader of the Labour Party. All of these candidates appeal to electorates who have strong online ties but don’t hear their views reflected in mainstream politics. Trump falls into that category, too. But instead of the far left or the far right, he speaks for the sarcastic hate-tweeters, the anti-everything nihilists, and the conspiracy theorists who write convoluted anonymous comments at the bottom of newspaper articles.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Strengthening Human Adaptive Reasoning and Problem-Solving (SHARP)


iarpa.gov |  Adaptive reasoning and problem-solving are increasingly valuable for information-oriented workplaces, where inferences from sparse, voluminous, or conflicting data must be drawn, validated, and communicated—often under stressful, time-sensitive conditions. In such contexts, one’s ability to accurately update one’s mental models, make valid conclusions, and effectively deploy attention and other cognitive resources is critical. Accordingly, optimizing an analyst’s adaptive reasoning could pay large dividends in the quality of their analytic conclusions and information products. Given adaptive reasoning tests’ high predictive value for performance and productivity, proven methods for strengthening adaptive reasoning and problem-solving could have significant benefits for society in general, as well as for individuals whose work is both analytical and cognitively demanding. Intriguingly, some recent research suggests that these capabilities may be strengthened, even among high-performing adults. Despite some promising results, however, there are methodological and practical shortcomings that currently limit the direct applicability of this research for the Intelligence Community.

Therefore, the Strengthening Human Adaptive Reasoning and Problem-Solving (SHARP) Program is seeking to fund rigorous, high-quality research to address these limitations and advance the science on optimizing human adaptive reasoning and problem-solving. The goal of the program is to test and validate interventions that have the potential to significantly improve these capabilities, leading to improvements in performance for high-performing adults in information-rich environments.

The research funded in this program will use innovative and promising approaches from a variety of fields with an emphasis on collecting data from a set of cognitive, behavioral, and biological outcome measures in order to determine convergent validity of successful approaches. It is anticipated that successful teams will be multidisciplinary, and may include (but not be limited to) research expertise in cognitive and behavioral neuroscience; psychology and psychometrics; human physiology and neurophysiology; structural and functional imaging; molecular biology and genetics; human subjects research design, methodology, and regulations; mathematical statistics and modeling; data visualization and analytics

transcranial direct current stimulation


newyorker |  What does this part of the brain do, again?” I asked, pointing to the electrode on my right temple.

“That’s the right inferior frontal cortex,” said Vince Clark, the director of the University of New Mexico Psychology Clinical Neuroscience Center, in Albuquerque. “It does a lot of things. It evaluates rules. People get thrown in jail when it’s impaired. It might help solve math problems. You can’t really isolate what it does. It has emotional components.”

It was early December, and night was falling, though it was barely five. The shadows were getting longer in the lab. My legs felt unusually calm. Something somewhere was buzzing. Outside the window, a tree stood black against the deepening sky.

“Verbal people tend to get really quiet,” Clark said softly. “That’s one effect we noticed. And it can do funny things with your perception of time.”

The device administering the current started to beep, and I saw that twenty minutes had passed. As the current returned to zero, I felt a slight burning under the electrodes—both the one on my right temple and another, on my left arm. Clark pressed some buttons, trying to get the beeping to stop. Finally, he popped out the battery, the nine-volt rectangular kind.

This was my first experience of transcranial direct-current stimulation, or tDCS—a portable, cheap, low-tech procedure that involves sending a low electric current (up to two milliamps) to the brain. Research into tDCS is in its early stages. A number of studies suggest that it may improve learning, vigilance, intelligence, and working memory, as well as relieve chronic pain and the symptoms of depression, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s, and schizophrenia. However, the studies have been so small and heterogeneous that meta-analyses have failed to prove any conclusive effects, and long-term risks have not been established. The treatment has yet to receive F.D.A. approval, although a few hospitals, including Beth Israel, in New York, and Beth Israel Deaconess, in Boston, have used it to treat chronic pain and depression.

“What’s the plan now?” Clark asked, unhooking the electrodes. I could see he was ready to answer more questions. But, as warned, I felt almost completely unable to speak. It wasn’t like grasping for words; it was like no longer knowing what words were good for.

Clark offered to drive me back to my hotel. Everything was mesmerizing: a dumpster in the rear-view camera, the wide roads, the Route 66 signs, the Land of Enchantment license plates.

After some effort, I managed to ask about a paper I’d read regarding the use of tDCS to treat tinnitus. My father has tinnitus; the ringing in his ears is so loud it wakes him up at night. I had heard that some people with tinnitus were helped by earplugs, but my father wasn’t, so where in the head was tinnitus, and were there different kinds?

“There are different kinds,” Clark said. “Sometimes, there’s a real noise. It’s rare, but it happens with dogs.” He told me a story about a dog with this rare affliction. When a microphone was placed in its ear, everyone could hear a ringing tone—the result, it turned out, of an oversensitive tympanic membrane. “The poor dog,” he said.

We drove the rest of the way in silence.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

unleashing the power of neuroscience


royalsociety |  In addition to causing distress and disability to the individual, neuropsychiatric disorders are also extremely expensive to society and governments. These disorders are both common and debilitating and impact on cognition, functionality and wellbeing. Cognitive enhancing drugs, such as cholinesterase inhibitors and methylphenidate, are used to treat cognitive dysfunction in Alzheimer's disease and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, respectively. Other cognitive enhancers include specific computerized cognitive training and devices. An example of a novel form of cognitive enhancement using the technological advancement of a game on an iPad that also acts to increase motivation is presented. Cognitive enhancing drugs, such as methylphenidate and modafinil, which were developed as treatments, are increasingly being used by healthy people. Modafinil not only affects ‘cold’ cognition, but also improves ‘hot’ cognition, such as emotion recognition and task-related motivation. The lifestyle use of ‘smart drugs' raises both safety concerns as well as ethical issues, including coercion and increasing disparity in society. As a society, we need to consider which forms of cognitive enhancement (e.g. pharmacological, exercise, lifelong learning) are acceptable and for which groups (e.g. military, doctors) under what conditions (e.g. war, shift work) and by what methods we would wish to improve and flourish.

smart drug modafinil safe for widespread use


reason |  Good news, overachieving students, ADHD-havers, Limitless fans, and pillheads everywhere: A meta-analysis of the data on "smart drug" modafinil has found that yes, it's safe, and yes, it's effective as a cognitve enhancer.

Published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology, the review covers 24 placebo-controlled studies of modafinil—also known by the brand name Provigil—that were conducted between 1990 and 2014 on healthy, non-sleep deprived individuals. "Such an analysis overcomes some of the limitations of each of the smaller studies, such as narrow demographics or conflicting results, and draws an overarching conclusion," notes Quartz writer Akshat Rathi

Officially sanctioned in the U.S. to treat sleep disorders such as narcolepsy, modafinil is sometimes prescribed off-label to treat conditions like depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, and Parkinson's disease. It's also become popular as a cognitive enhancer, or nootropic. A 2008 poll from science journal Nature found that 44 percent of its readers had tried modafinil. And while less popular than Adderall, it's also a hit among college students as a study aid. 

Without a prescription, modafinal is still pretty easy for Americans to purchase online from foreign pharmacies (where it's sold under names such as Modalert, Modvigil, and Alertec), albeit also pretty illegal. Some countries, such as India and Mexico, neither classify modafinil as a controlled substance nor require buyers to have a medical prescription; in others, such as Canada, Australia, Germany, and the U.K., it's not a controlled substance but a prescription is required. In the U.S., however, it's both a Schedule IV controlled drug and prescription-only. 

Could that change? In the new review, researchers found that "modafinil appears to consistently engender enhancement of attention, executive functions, and learning," all without "any preponderances for side effects or mood changes." Modafinil "appears safe for widespread use," concluded researchers, calling it "one of the most promising and highly-investigated neuroenhancers to date."

freight train of happiness...




Bloomberg | On the seventh floor of a building overlooking the Federal Reserve Bank in lower Manhattan, two medical clinics share an office. One is run by a podiatrist who’s outfitted the waiting room with educational materials on foot problems such as hammer toes and bunions. The other clinic doesn’t have pamphlets on display and offers a much less conventional service: For the advertised price of $525, severely depressed and suicidal patients can get a 45-minute intravenous infusion of ketamine—better known as the illicit party drug Special K.

Glen Brooks, a 67-year-old anesthesiologist, opened NY Ketamine Infusions in 2012. “At least eight or nine of my patients have ended up making appointments with the podiatrist,” he says. “But I haven’t gotten any patients through him—I don’t know why.” Not that Brooks is lacking for business. He typically treats 65 patients a week. Most come in for an initial six infusions within a span of two weeks, then return every six to eight weeks for maintenance sessions. To keep up with demand, he often borrows rooms from the podiatrist on weekends so he can treat eight patients at once. His only help is a secretary at the front desk.

Patients don’t need a prescription, but not just anyone can get an appointment. “You have to have the right story,” Brooks says. “For ketamine to work, there needs to be some preexisting brain damage caused by post-traumatic stress. I’m looking for some indication of childhood trauma. If not overt pain, then fear, anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem—or bullying, real or perceived.” Patients receive a low dose of the drug: about one-tenth of what recreational abusers of ketamine take or about one-fifth of what might be used as a general anesthetic.

During the infusions, which are gradual rather than all at once, patients often experience strange sensations, such as seeing colors and patterns when they close their eyes. “The first time, I had a sense that the chair was rocketing upwards, just on and on and on … a kind of weightlessness,” a patient from a different clinic explains. The 51-year-old environmental engineer and university lecturer, who asked to remain anonymous for professional reasons, credits ketamine with reviving him from a near-catatonic depression. “During the treatment, I got this profound feeling of optimism,” he says. “I told my family it’s like getting hit by the freight train of happiness—they tease me about that now.”

Friday, August 21, 2015

the first and most essential step in the transformation of any society is delegitimization of the existing order...,


thearchdruidreport | The science fiction author Isaac Asimov used to say that violence is the last refuge of the incompetent. That’s a half-truth at best, for there are situations in which effective violence is the only tool that will do what needs to be done—we’ll get to that in a moment. It so happens, though, that a particular kind of incompetence does indeed tend to turn to violence when every other option has fallen flat, and goes down in a final outburst of pointless bloodshed. It’s unpleasantly likely at this point that the climate change movement, or some parts of it, may end up taking that route into history’s dumpster; here again, we’ll get to that a little further on in this post.

It’s probably necessary to say at the outset that the arguments I propose to make here have nothing to do with the ethics of violence, and everything to do with its pragmatics as a means of bringing about social change. Ethics in general are a complete quagmire in today’s society.  Nietzsche’s sly description of moral philosophy as the art of propping up inherited prejudices with bad logic has lost none of its force since he wrote it, and since his time we’ve also witnessed the rise of professional ethicists, whose jobs consist of coming up with plausible excuses for whatever their corporate masters want to do this week. The ethical issues surrounding violence are at least as confused as those around any of the other messy realities of human life, and in some ways, more so than most.

Myself, I consider violence enitrely appropriate in some situations. Many of my readers may have heard, for example, of an event that took place a little while back in Kentucky, where a sex worker was attacked by a serial killer.  While he was strangling her, she managed to get hold of his handgun, and proceeded to shoot him dead. To my mind, her action was morally justified. Once he attacked her, no matter what she did, somebody was going to die, and killing him not only turned the violence back on its originator, it also saved the lives of however many other women the guy might have killed before the police got to him—if they ever did; crimes against sex workers, and for that matter crimes against women, are tacitly ignored by a fairly large number of US police departments these days.

Along the same lines, a case can be made that revolutionary violence against a political and economic system is morally justified if the harm being done by that system is extreme enough. That’s not a debate I’m interested in exploring here, though.  Again, it’s not ethics but pragmatics that I want to discuss, because whether or not revolutionary violence is justified in some abstract moral sense is far less important right now than whether it’s an effective response to the situation we’re in. That’s not a question being asked, much less answered, by the people who are encouraging environmental and climate change activists to consider violence against the system. ....

.....The first and most essential step in the transformation of any society is the delegitimization of the existing order. That doesn’t involve violence, and in fact violence at this first stage of the process is catastrophically counterproductive—a lesson, by the way, that the US military has never been able to learn, which is why its attempts to delegitimize its enemies (usually phrased in such language as “winning minds and hearts”) have always been so embarrassingly inept and ineffective. The struggle to delegitimize the existing order has to be fought on cultural, intellectual, and ideological battlefields, not physical ones, and its targets are not people or institutions but the aura of legitimacy and inevitability that surrounds any established political and economic order.

Those of my readers who want to know how that’s done might want to read up on the cultural and intellectual life of France in the decades before the Revolution. It’s a useful example, not least because the people who wanted to bring down the French monarchy came from almost exactly the same social background as today’s green radicals: disaffected middle-class intellectuals with few resources other than raw wit and erudition. That turned out to be enough, as they subjected the monarchy—and even more critically, the institutions and values that supported it—to sustained and precise attack from constantly shifting positions, engaging in savage mockery one day and earnest pleas for reform the next, exploiting every weakness and scandal for maximum effect. By the time the crisis finally arrived in 1789, the monarchy had been so completely defeated on the battlefield of public opinion that next to nobody rallied to its defense until after the Revolution was a fait accompli.