Friday, July 18, 2008

Catastrophists versus Cornucopians

It's been a minute since I last visited the we can do better group blog. In this article, man-made catastrophists (such as myself) get very short shrift. The emphasis is on silly cornucopians and their concerns over possible declines in human population growth.
The faith of the Cornucopians in a radiant future is based on growing growth. To anticipate lower economic expectations, resulting from less people to feed, clothe, house, educate, mobilize, and serve in the army - even if this includes unemployment, crowding, pollution, cementification, and social conflict - goes against the conventional assumption that human inventiveness doesn’t accept biological limits and is the motor of progress.

The over-optimistic view that purports humanity’s capacity to overcome every difficulty, with time, technology and lots of human beings, has turned on its head, when confronted with the awful perspective of a diminishing population.

If humans are so deft in inventing new solutions to ever increasing problems, what then stands in the way of creating new solutions to the economic affliction of demographic decline, publicised by the press and governments as the ultimate tragic event?
The highlight of the article was this historical bon mot addressing the inflection point of the european middle ages;
Back in 1348, Europe suffered the Black Death or Plague, the second worst catastrophe in recorded history, which reduced the estimated European population by about a third.

It also brought stability, progress and freedom from want to the people who escaped death. As the distinguished scholar David Herlihy pointed out, the great reduction in population created opportunities for the survivors and those who came after them; there were fewer people, more jobs and a higher standard of living. (David Herlihy and Samuel K., Jr. Cohn)

Another historian agrees that, before the Black Death the continent “was caught in a Malthusian deadlock” in which “the balance between people and resources had become very tight.” After the plague, Europe “emerged from the charnel house of pestilence and epidemic cleansed and renewed, like the sun after rain.”(John Kelly)

Moreover: “Serfdom declined more rapidly. The status of women rose. Wages rose for common people. Talented young people were able to advance faster. The power of the kings declined more rapidly.” (Norman Cantor ) It is an indisputable fact that the sudden population decline stimulated labour-saving technologies that transformed the economy.
Such an inflection point is most definitely on our global species event horizon. See it yet?

Turf War

toxicity, habitat destruction, resource depletion, enforced conformity.....,

If one accepts the idea that lawns are, in a deep sense, unethical, how does one fill the front yard?
The essential trouble with the American lawn is its estrangement from place: it is not a response to the landscape so much as an idea imposed upon it—all green, all the time, everywhere. Recently, a NASA-funded study, which used satellite data collected by the Department of Defense, determined that, including golf courses, lawns in the United States cover nearly fifty thousand square miles—an area roughly the size of New York State. The same study concluded that most of this New York State-size lawn was growing in places where turfgrass should never have been planted. In order to keep all the lawns in the country well irrigated, the author of the study calculated, it would take an astonishing two hundred gallons of water per person, per day. According to a separate estimate, by the Environmental Protection Agency, nearly a third of all residential water use in the United States currently goes toward landscaping.
Something so simple, so obvious, and so deeply entrenched in the cultural expression of the drive to keep up with the joneses.....,

Thursday, July 17, 2008



As our terrestrial nursery undergoes explosive cycles of organismal variation, thriving, and extinction — the preserved complexity and diversity of the survivors is being by turns enhanced and compressed. The compression is of a sort that becomes rapidly explosive, but explodes in a way that establishes dimensions rather than erasing them. It is something like pure sentience-precursor, cultivating itself in ever more diverse and complex contexts, transports and vehicles of biocognitive relation.

Turns out that it is possible to engineer a perpetual motion device, and you can engineer one that gains amplitude of expression in geometric leaps which reach absurd speeds and complexities almost instantly. The problem is making it explode in a way that generates life and complex diversity rather than reducing them to their energetic constituents rapidly.

The reason we can’t do this as easily with technology is simple: when you create scalarly self-amplifying standing waves in ‘things’ — they explode. When you do this in a biocognitive dimension... eventually you get something akin to human sentience. The sunglasses we use shield us from the incredible inward brightness of the self-magnifying explosion that we are and are with(in).


By their underlying inferences the physical sciences train us to value individuals and species as the primary conservators of biological and cognitive complexity. This move subtly manipulates us to see the structure as most significant and deserving of precedence, and is materialistically biased. It is in fact the content which has precedence, and this is largely obscured by hidden choices we make when agreeing with common models, logics of identity, and terms.

Evolution, we are told, is a process requiring vast epochs to produce even the smallest attenuations in organismal form. But organisms are not merely their forms. What we find apparent in careful examination is that evolutionary complexity is preserved as much in the transports of organismal relation and in environments as it is in individuals, or separate assemblies of given members. What this turns out to mean is that there are hidden wells of motive energies that find expression in what we call evolution, and they are not competitive — but relational.

What Earth has been doing for about the past 4.5 billion years is something far beyond anything we have a metaphor of. The endless relational symmetries of Life here have been assembling a scalarly recombinant sentience explosion. It‘s the biocognitive equivalent to rapidly cultivating galaxies — and the media required is cognitive, or relational, rather than ‘purely physical’.

And for at least the past 1500 years, our species has been tearing it limb from limb, without realizing that those are our own limbs, in realtime.

Memetic and Information Diseases in a Knowledge Society

Speculations towards the development of cures and preventive measures by Anthony Judge.
This is an adaptation of Networking Diseases: speculations towards the development of cures and preventive measures (Transnational Associations, 30, 1978). As argued there, despite widespread exposure to organizations and organizational systems in various states of growth, health and decay, it would appear that there is no convenient checklist of the malfunctions to which organizations are subject. The matter is of course normally broached through the various kinds of management problem, and the measures required to "get an ailing organization on its feet again". But the range of possible malfunctions is not identified as such, particularly for the kinds of structures -- like networks -- which are supposed neither to require, nor to lend themselves to, management.

In a knowledge society, there is a related need to better understand the "information diseases" to which individuals themselves are vulnerable within the networks in which they variously participate, or as they interact with their sources of information -- or indeed as they themselves act as producers of information.

In order to focus thinking more clearly on the information malfunctions to which individuals and networks may be subject, some guidelines are required to provoke recognition of unforeseen possibilities which might otherwise go unrecognized. In passing one may note the effort by Michael Haas (Types of asymmetry in social and political systems, 1967, see Table 1) to identify the different kinds of "asymmetry" to which systems may be subject. However he defines asymmetry as "an attribute of a system which may vary over time, space, and other such dimensions". Such asymmetry may or may not be viewed as associated with some kind of malfunction.
This text is intended to provoke an imaginative examination of the current information health of individuals and their networks. When discussing diseases one should take care to avoid engaging in medical "quackery" -- how that might be understood is an essential part of the challenge in this context.

Autonomous Meaning

Extract from William Pensinger's Strategic Assessment Part 10.
I do not consider the essential quandary in the existing global circumstance a mere matter of whether or not Al Qaeda and Associates is going to win “the clash of civilizations”; much, much more is involved in the prevailing historical conjuncture than simply one take on coercive imposition of planetary monoculture prevailing over another such take. But people don't see it; and not seeing it, they cannot see what AQ & A is actually all about; and not seeing what AQ & A is all about, they cannot comprehend its self-organizational initiative; and not cognizing the organizational dynamic, they cannot see how “what AQ & A is actually all about” regressively embodies very large issues the human species is fatally foundering upon. And these non-comprehenders, because of their inability to comprehend, regard such usage as “fatally” in “fatally foundering” as hysterical exaggeration. The human species is not, repeat not, they insist, launched upon a collective and cooperative martyrdom operation modeled upon lemming behavior, no matter what ecologists like Peter Turchin might think. Hah! What else could the editorial exemplars of normotic illness at The Economist possibly conclude? Aye, open up, that yon of yours, and you find… nowt! Bloomin' mercy, it's beginning to notice! And it will soon be all! Nothing is the number when you die! The “why” of their non-comprehension is firstly, even predominantly, a matter of psychological ineptitude, most especially introspective incompetence. An incompetence with consequences. They do not believe that everything is connected to everything else. In spite of the unconscious being infinite sets, they do not believe in Germanic, indeed Hegelian, notions like superintegration and overdetermination. They believe that reality is as fragmented as their inner state, as are their perceptions and proprioceptions, as is the knowledge base -- and that “the mechanism of meaning” and “history as force” (vector sums of Newtonian force-structures) verify, and will continue to verify, truth-value validity of the involved “identitarian” 1T2 outside-inside isomorphism. And they make judgments based on cultivation of this tacitly held imputed schematic isomorphism. Such reliance on mere sculpture! In spite of the haptification of space and the concretion of time.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cemetary Metal Theft....,

Grave robbers, a curse of burial grounds for centuries, are back for new valuables: metal ornaments that can be melted down for quick cash as copper and other metal prices climb.

In West Virginia, it was vases bolted to headstones. In Washington State, it was bronze markers on veterans' graves. In Chicago, it was nearly half a million dollars' worth of brass ornaments.

"It's a crisis of the times," said Ruth Shapleigh-Brown, executive director of the Connecticut Gravestone Network, which monitors cemeteries for theft and vandalism. "People are finding a way to make money."

Across the country, police have reported mounting scrap metal prices translating into increased thefts that range from manhole covers and church downspouts to telephone and power lines.

Stealing from the dead is a practice that goes back far enough in history to be the subject of curses on the walls of Egyptian pyramids.

A decade ago, metal urns, flag holders and ornaments in cemeteries were mostly ignored by thieves, who instead stole grave markers and other stone fixtures for the antiques market, said Shapleigh-Brown.

But with copper currently selling for about $3.75 per pound — close to historic highs of over $4 a pound in 2006 — thieves are carrying off brass and bronze items that can be melted down for the copper they contain.

"I don't know what could be more sacred than protecting our cemeteries," said West Virginia state legislator Kevin Craig, who co-sponsored a law against scrap metal theft after a bronze door was stolen from a tomb at a cemetery in his district in 2006.

The measure, passed last year, increases pressure on scrap dealers to avoid stolen metals by requiring them to keep records of sellers' identities and provide these records to police.

Still, thieves in June stole 150 copper vases worth about $18,000 from a St. Albans cemetery.

"It's a crime of opportunity," said St. Albans Police Chief Joe Crawford, whose department has arrested a suspect in the cemetery thefts.

"A cemetery is a walk in the park" compared to the closed coal mines and active power stations where thieves also seek out copper, he said.

Manhole Covers Stolen....,

Officials in Flint, Mich., say they've had to replace hundreds of manhole covers and grates that were probably stolen and sold for scrap.

The Flint Journal reported Monday that nearly 400 cast iron covers and grates have been taken from streets in the past year. A cover can fetch $20 from a scrap yard but can cost the city more than $200 to replace.

Officials in neighboring Burton say they've lost about 200 covers and grates during the same period. Utilities supervisor Mike Holzer says it leaves behind holes up to 35 feet deep.

Genesee County officials say they've been able to reduce thefts of county-owned covers by outfitting them with a bolt that is turned by a wrench only they have.

Will China be Mad?

What will China and other countries say when they lose a trillion dollars more or less?

As politicians call for taxpayer bailouts and a government takeover of troubled mortgage lenders Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, FreedomWorks would like to point out that a bailout is a transfer of possibly hundreds of billions of U.S. tax dollars to sophisticated investors and governments overseas.

The top five foreign holders of Freddie and Fannie long-term debt are China, Japan, the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, and Belgium. In total foreign investors hold over $1.3 trillion in these agency bonds, according to the U.S. Treasury's most recent "Report on Foreign Portfolio Holdings of U.S. Securities."

FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe commented, "The prospectus for every GSE bond clearly states that it is not backed by the United States government. That's why investors holding agency bonds already receive a significant risk premium over Treasuries."

"A bailout at this stage would be the worst possible outcome for American taxpayers and mortgage holders, who have been paying a risk premium to these foreign investors. It would change the rules of the game retroactively and would directly subsidize the risks taken by sophisticated foreign investors."

"A bailout of GSE bondholders would be perhaps the greatest taxpayer rip-off in American history. It is bad economics and you can be sure it is terrible politics."

China-Cuba Oil Myth

"China is not drilling in Cuba's Gulf of Mexico waters, period," said Jorge Pinon, an energy fellow with the Center for Hemispheric Policy at the University of Miami and an expert in oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico. Martinez cited Pinon's research when he took to the Senate floor Wednesday to set the record straight.

Even so, the Chinese-drilling-in-Cuba legend has gained momentum and has been swept up in Republican arguments to open up more U.S. territory to domestic production.

Vice President Dick Cheney, in a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, picked up the refrain. Cheney quoted a column by George Will, that "drilling is under way 60 miles off Florida. The drilling is being done by China, in cooperation with Cuba, which is drilling closer to South Florida than U.S. companies are."

In his speech, Cheney described the Chinese as being "in cooperation with the Cuban government. Even the communists have figured out that a good answer to higher prices means more supply."

"But Congress says no to drilling in ANWR, no to drilling on the East Coast, no to drilling on the West Coast," Cheney added.

The office of House Minority Leader John Boehner defended the GOP drilling claims. "A 2006 New York Times story highlights lease agreements negotiated between Cuba and China and the fact that China was planning to drill in the Florida Strait off the coast of Cuba," said spokesman Michael Steel.

Talking Points Memo documents the curious metastasis of the China-Cuba Oil myth in GOP circles. You should check out how far-reaching this mendacious meme has become amongst the true believers....,

Energy Tsunami Coming.....,

From the Associated Press; A bipartisan group of 27 elder statesmen is sending an open letter to both presidential candidates and every member of Congress saying the country faces "a long-term energy crisis" that threatens the security and prosperity of future generations if swift action isn't taken.

The group includes Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell and six other former secretaries of state or defense, former senators of both parties and a half dozen former senior White House advisers and other Cabinet officers for both Republican and Democratic presidents.

"There's an energy tsunami coming, and when you see it coming you better get on top of the wave, or you're going to get crushed by it," he said in an interview.

Jones, the 40-year military veteran who has had discussions about energy with both Obama and McCain, said he hoped the letter's sense of urgency will influence both campaigns. "Both candidates are still embryonic in their thinking about this," he said.

It's not only politicians who are faulted in the critique.

"We demand more energy and complain about high prices, but we restrict energy exploration and production. We embrace the promise of energy efficiency, but we are slow to make adjustments in our energy-intensive lifestyles," the letter says.

Production of electricity, for example, is taken "almost for granted." At the same time, people oppose new power plants and don't want to invest adequately in energy technology research, the writers say.

Thomas "Mack" McLarty, former White House chief of staff to President Clinton, said the letter emphasizes that "the next president is going to have to put energy right at the top of his agenda" and do it quickly.

"There will be a window there to build bipartisan consensus to move forward," McLarty said in an interview.

The letter includes 13 broad recommendations. They include aggressively promoting energy efficiency and reducing energy consumption, increased commitments to both nuclear energy and renewable energy sources, making coal more environmentally acceptable and moving transportation away from oil as a fuel.

Other senders of the letter include former Secretaries of State James A. Baker and George Shultz, former Defense Secretaries Frank Carlucci, William Cohen, William Perry and James Schlesinger; former senior White House advisers Howard Baker, Robert "Bud" McFarlane, Kenneth Duberstein and Brent Scowcroft; former Energy Secretaries James Watkins and Spencer Abraham; former CIA Director James Woolsey; former Commerce Secretary Donald Evans; former Democratic Sens. J. Bennett Johnston, Sam Nunn and Charles Robb; and former Republican Sen. George Allen.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A brain of two halves

In this morning's Guardian;
The broader point Bolte Taylor makes about stress and relationships is that, in the 90-second aftermath of a row, we are all at the mercy of our biochemical reaction - "anger" as we call it - but that after it subsides we have a choice: to hang on to it or to let it go. It is, she says, a question of recognising that "emotions and relationships are just circuitry" and can therefore be resisted or rewired. Even if the person you've been arguing with is really, really annoying? With a flourish, Bolte Taylor cites her own mother, who before she had the stroke could wind her up like nobody else. But after the stroke, she says, it was like pushing "the reset button". "And so it was fascinating for both of us, because she had no power. Her power was gone. I looked at her differently; I did not respond to those things that I had been trained throughout my life to respond to."

Her mother must have loved that.

"Yeah, I don't think she liked it at all. We had to establish a new relationship. And she would try this stuff on me and I would say to her, 'That's not effective any more. That's not the relationship we have any more.' And she got it, real quick. And we became equals in this process and it was beautiful because we got to bury all the garbage."

Realistically, hitting the reset button sounds like something most ordinary people might only achieve by getting comprehensively stoned, shutting themselves in an isolation tank or actually having a stroke; but Bolte Taylor insists it is just a question of recognising and then bypassing the circuitry. "I try to think of something that is funny. I just go somewhere else. You have the choice of changing the focus of your attention. Some of us get into fights and we go around thinking, I should've said this, they did that to me, and that's your left hemisphere, just egging it on, egging it on. And then let's say the phone rings, you get really excited about something else and then you hang up the phone. And then you have a choice."
Always and everywhere...., remember yourself.

Confidence Ebbs for Bank Sector and Stocks Fall

In today's NYTimes;
Even as the Bush administration moved to rescue the nation’s two largest mortgage finance companies, confidence in the banking sector spiraled downward Monday.
Skip to next paragraph

In Southern California, lines snaked around branches of IndyMac Bancorp, the large lender that was seized by federal regulators on Friday, as customers hurried to withdraw their money. As the anxiety spread through the financial markets, two other big banks, one in Ohio and another in Washington State, were compelled to assert that they were sound.

Even as federal regulators issued assurances that depositors’ savings were safe, Wall Street analysts circulated lists of lenders that might be vulnerable. Shares of regional banks plunged in one of the sharpest declines since the 1980s.

Many investors fear that the government’s resolve to help Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the giant companies at the center of the nation’s mortgage market, will not hold back the rising tide of bad loans unleashed by the weakening housing market and faltering economy.

Sheila C. Bair, the chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, said the F.D.I.C. expected a small number of the nation’s banks to run into trouble over the next year. But she asserted that the worries driving down banking shares, fed by rumors in the marketplace, did not presage widespread failures.

“People should not assume that just because the stock price has been going down, that we’re going to close their bank,” Ms. Bair said. “In addition to our credit problems, I don’t want to have to start worrying about bank runs.”

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bank Fears Spread

Page one of todays Wall Street Journal;
The federal government's seizure of IndyMac Bank is deepening worries among executives, regulators and consumers about the U.S. banking industry, which is in a tightening bind following a long run of prosperity.

Banks and thrifts are struggling against a rising tide of bad loans, and it is becoming increasingly clear that some lenders won't be able to escape. While fewer banks are expected to fail than the 834 that went under from 1990 to 1992, it will likely take several years for battered financial institutions to work through their bad loans and replenish their depleted capital.

Those gloomy scenarios could be avoided, however, if the U.S. economy and housing market rebound soon, which would help consumers and businesses that have fallen behind on their loan payments.
Somebody let me know when the pixie dust and manna from heaven shows up to stimulate this rebound....,

Hegemony for Health!!!

In the NYTimes - Warning: Habits May Be Good for You in which the methods of dopamine hegemony are shown both to have turned you into an automatized consumer and revolutionized your health and well-being in the process. (not to mention selling bazillions in products, as well.)

If you look hard enough, you’ll find that many of the products we use every day — chewing gums, skin moisturizers, disinfecting wipes, air fresheners, water purifiers, health snacks, antiperspirants, colognes, teeth whiteners, fabric softeners, vitamins — are results of manufactured habits. A century ago, few people regularly brushed their teeth multiple times a day. Today, because of canny advertising and public health campaigns, many Americans habitually give their pearly whites a cavity-preventing scrub twice a day, often with Colgate, Crest or one of the other brands advertising that no morning is complete without a minty-fresh mouth.

A few decades ago, many people didn’t drink water outside of a meal. Then beverage companies started bottling the production of far-off springs, and now office workers unthinkingly sip bottled water all day long. Chewing gum, once bought primarily by adolescent boys, is now featured in commercials as a breath freshener and teeth cleanser for use after a meal. Skin moisturizers — which are effective even if applied at high noon — are advertised as part of morning beauty rituals, slipped in between hair brushing and putting on makeup.

“OUR products succeed when they become part of daily or weekly patterns,” said Carol Berning, a consumer psychologist who recently retired from Procter & Gamble, the company that sold $76 billion of Tide, Crest and other products last year. “Creating positive habits is a huge part of improving our consumers’ lives, and it’s essential to making new products commercially viable.”

Through experiments and observation, social scientists like Dr. Berning have learned that there is power in tying certain behaviors to habitual cues through relentless advertising.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Little Taste.....

IndyMac Bank seized by federal regulators. The Pasadena-based thrift's failure is the second-biggest by a U.S. bank. Doors will reopen Monday.

The federal government took control of Pasadena-based IndyMac Bank on Friday in what regulators called the second-largest bank failure in U.S. history.

Citing a massive run on deposits, regulators shut its main branch three hours early, leaving customers stunned and upset. One woman leaned on the locked doors, pleading with an employee inside: "Please, please, I want to take out a portion." All she could do was read a two-page notice taped to the door.

Israel hints at pre-emptive attack on Iran

From the Independent; Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defence Minister, noted pointedly that while diplomatic pressure remained the preferred way of persuading Iran to halt uranium enrichment, Israel "has proved in the past it is not afraid to take action when its vital security interests are at stake".

Not by coincidence, the country also put on display one of its state-of-the-art Eitam spy aircraft, whose intelligence-gathering abilities would be vital in any co-ordinated assault on Iran's nuclear installations. This latest publicity only reinforces the message sent by Israel's recent military air exercises over the eastern Mediterranean, widely seen as a dress rehearsal for such an attack.

Most analysts believe that for all bellicose talk, a pre-emptive attack, by the US at least, is most unlikely. "Everyone recognises what the consequences of a conflict would be," the Defence Secretary Robert Gates warned, among them possible closure of the oil lifeline through the Strait of Hormuz, the risk of generalised war in the Middle East and immense new strains on the fragile global economy.

Pentagon commanders too do not want to plunge the country's overstretched armed forces into another war. An attack would be "extremely stressful" for US forces, Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the country's top uniformed officer, warned a few days ago.

But the jitters have been increased by the political calendar in Washington and Jerusalem. From a US perspective, if the Bush administration is to strike, it probably has to do so before the general election campaign moves into high gear this autumn. The possibility – many would say likelihood – that the next President will be the Democrat, Barack Obama, who favours negotiation with Iran, only heightens the urgency for anti-Iran hawks.

In Jerusalem, a corruption scandal could bring down the Mr Omert's government in September. This is another reason for Israel, if it is determined to go ahead, to act sooner rather than later, even alone and without the explicit collaboration of the US.

USS Liberty Incident

The USS Liberty incident was an attack on a U.S. Navy technical research ship, USS Liberty, in international waters north of the northern Sinai Peninsula coast, about 25.5 nautical miles northwest of the minaret at El Arish[1](p.26), by Israeli fighter planes and torpedo boats on June 8, 1967, during the Six-Day War. The attack, which killed 34 U.S. servicemen and wounded at least 173, was the second deadliest against a U.S. Naval vessel since the end of World War II, surpassed only by the Iraqi Exocet missile attack on the USS Stark on May 17, 1987, and marked the single greatest loss of life by the U.S. intelligence community.
From Weapons : The International Game of Arms, Money and Diplomacy - Russell Warren Howe. Discussion of present Israeli war plans in the Middle East may be illuminated by reference to the past. The 1967 Israeli-initiated attack on Egypt is illustrative.

Although clearly warned by France's Charles de Gaulle to not initiate hostilities, and more obliquely warned by the US' Lyndon Johnson, Israel "launched the war on June 5, using French aircraft and largely French armor. It was a Pearl Harbor-style operation, destroying the Egyptian Air Force on the ground" [Howe, Russell Warren. Weapons: The International Game of Arms, Money and Diplomacy. N.Y: Doubleday, 1980. p. 523].

R.W. Howe's account expands on quickly-negotiated limits on the conflict. Israel promised the United States that its sole objective would be Egypt. To monitor this and other stipulations, the US moved its intelligence ship the USS Liberty into "the eastern Mediterraneun, to cover Arab and Israeli traffic.... Two hundred feet below the ship, on a parallel course, was its 'shadow' - the Polaris strategic submarine Andrew Jackson...." [Ibid., p.524].

Howe continues, "The first important thing the the [USS Liberty] NSA monitors learned was that the Israelis had cracked the Egyptian and Jordanian codes. From a relay station inside the swiftly captured northern region of Sinai, Israel was interrupting and retransmitting Cairo's messages to Amman [Jordan]. In spite of world reporting of the Israeli successes, soon to be backed up by television film, Cairo appeared to be telling Amman that the tide of war had turned. Three quarters of Israel's air force, the Israelis made the 'Egyptian' messages say, had been destroyed. The three hundred aircraft on Jordan's radar were Egyptian planes raiding Israel - not, as was really the case, Israeli planes returning unscathed from raids on Egypt. Cairo's anxious appeals to Jordan for help were transformed into an invitation to join in an assured victory and recapture West Jerusalem. Jordan's consequent participation in the war enabled Tel Aviv to seize East Jerusalem and the West Bank" [Ibid, pp. 524-525].

All this was discovered by the USS Liberty and communicated back to the United States. When Israel's Ambassador to the United States Avraham Harman subsequently pleaded that Israel was "resisting aggression," the US UnderSecretary of State Eugene Rostow "snapped back that the United States knew that Tel Aviv had lured [Jordan's King] Hussein into the conflict by cooking his communications. Harman...returned to the embassy and called his country. By then, it was midnight in Tel Aviv, but within hours the Israeli ministry of defense there had ordered aircraft to seek out the U.S. communications ship" [Ibid. p. 525]. That ship was the USS Liberty.

"American intelligence analysts now believe that the Israeli intention was complete destruction - a sinking with all hands. This could then be blamed on the Egyptians or the Russians, not only destroying a wartime nuisance, but also making Americans more sympathetic to Israel's cause" [Ibid. p.525]

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Where We're At - A Most Awesome Rant......,

What Kunstler said; The US economy is crumbling because the way we conduct the activities of daily life is insane relative to our circumstances. We've spent sixty years ramping up a suburban living arrangement that has suddenly entered a state of failure, and all its accessories and furnishings are failing in concert. The far-flung McHouse tracts are becoming both useless and worthless in the face of gasoline prices that will never be cheap again. The strip malls and office "parks" are following the residential real estate off a cliff. The retail tenants of all those places are hemorrhaging customers who have maxed out every last credit card. The lack of business is now leading to substantial layoffs. The airline industry is dying and will probably cease to exist in its familiar form in 24 months. The trucking industry is dying, threatening the entire just-in-time distribution system of things that even people with little money to spend still need, like food.

These conditions will now get a lot worse, no matter whether the banks continue to conceal their problems. All of it leads to an inflection point that coincides with the November election. By then, I expect that quite a few banks will be toast, job layoffs will rise spectacularly, foreclosures and bankruptcies will be raging across the land, and homeowners north of the magnolia belt will be shattered by the cost of staying warm this winter.

All this hardship and woe will be blamed on the Republican party. It may actually kill off the party. Political parties do go out-of-business in American history, and this one deserves to die -- with its aggressive no-nothingism, its avaricious, punitive religious extremism (the religious part often being fake), its stunning inattention to financial malfeasance in areas under its direct supervision, and its gross incompetent mismanagement of the nation's strategic interests.

That said, I will feel a little sorry for Mr. Obama if he gets to the White House. He'll have to find a gentle way to tell the truth to the people who elected him, people who will be suffering mightily, and who will be very sore about their losses. He'll have to tell them that the previous "release" of the American Dream software is obsolete, and the new version will require a whole lot more of them in the way of earnest effort, delayed gratification, and revised expectations.

Global warming puts Russia under pressure ‘here and now’

The report says: 'The global academic community is convinced that the danger of climate change is not that much about 1 or 2 degrees C of global warming; it is more connected to the fact that the weather in different world regions is becoming less sustainable and extreme weather events more common.' WWF-Russia/OxfamGB

“We must understand that damage caused by climate change is here and now rather than a problem in the distant future, in distant lands. There’s a lot at stake, including our health and even our lives,” said Igor Chestin, WWF-Russia CEO.

The report – ‘Russia and neighbouring countries: environmental, economic and social impacts of climate change’ – highlights key evidence linking climate change to failing health.

Russia and neighboring countries: environmental, economic and social impacts of climate change (PDF, 2 Mb)

Jindal Creationist or Crass Opportunist?

In The Scientist; When the press refer to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, they inevitably mention that he is the youngest current governor (at 37), and the first Indian-American to serve the post. By all accounts the former Rhodes Scholar with a BS in biology from Brown University is an extraordinary individual. So, it was not surprising that his name appeared on John McCain's short list for potential Vice Presidential running mates. However, on June 27, he signed a bill that will turn Louisiana into an educational laughing stock for allowing the intelligent design brand of creationism to worm its way into science classes under the guise of academic freedom.

The Louisiana Science Education Act is yet another attempt to place creationism into science classes, orchestrated by the marketing geniuses behind the intelligent design movement. The bill, which easily passed both the state House and Senate, at first glance seems benign or even progressive: It allows teachers to use "supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials" to "create and foster an environment...that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied." Other than the false notion that the lack of supplemental materials in classrooms is hindering the state education system, what could be wrong with that?

The bill is derived from a model bill put forward by the Discovery Institute (yes, those guys again), and encourages examination of, you guessed it, "evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning." Louisiana is now the first state to pass the new generation creationist bill under the guise of academic freedom. Five other states have similar bills pending, including Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, and South Carolina.

Unfortunately, Louisiana is no stranger to urine in the education pool. The legal case that forced creationists to rethink their strategy of ramming religion into science classes, Edwards v. Aguillard, started in the Bayou State. That case ended with the Supreme Court ruling in 1987 that Louisiana's Creationism Act was unconstitutional because it specifically forbade the teaching of evolution in public schools unless "creation science" was also taught. In other words, it openly pushed religion into science classrooms. As a direct result of that case, the intelligent design movement was born to manufacture support for the phony science of intelligent design creationism.