Friday, March 13, 2009

gop's hn(NOT)ic back in the woodshed...,

In a wide-ranging interview with GQ magazine online, RNC Chairman in name only Michael Steele has once again hung himself by his eensy-weensy petard. Not having cleared his comments or opinions with el rushbo in advance, Steele has expressed a point of view at odds with the dittoheads whose magical thinking and odd superstitions have run the grand old party into the ground.
A day after a magazine quoted him as saying abortion was "an individual choice," GOP Chairman Michael Steele said Thursday he opposes abortion and that Roe v. Wade should be overturned.

A leading conservative called Steele's remarks in the magazine "cavalier and flippant," underscoring the new chairman's precarious position with party regulars concerned about his off-the-cuff style and penchant for miscues.

Steele, who was adopted, told GQ magazine that his mother had the option of getting an abortion or giving birth to him.

"The choice issue cuts two ways," Steele said in the wide-ranging interview published online Wednesday. "You can choose life, or you can choose abortion. You know, my mother chose life."

Asked whether he thought women had the right to choose abortion, Steele said: "Yeah. I mean, again, I think that's an individual choice."
RUH ROH Shaggy!!!

In addition to supporting a woman's right to choose, which is of course the law of the land, Steele also expressed unwillingness to make homophobia a centerpiece of his political ideology and expressed the scientifically better grounded view that homosexuality is a wet-wired biological tendency rather than a chosen immoral "perversion". Watching Steele contort his more moderate and sane points of view in order to accomodate the prosocial evangelical extremism of the GOP base is quickly becoming a study in self-abasement for a paycheck.

grand old party's exemplar...,

Time | Some conservatives have always winced at Limbaugh's in-your-face style. But the debate today has a special charge because, like the similar debate over Alaska Governor Sarah Palin a few months ago, it is tied up with questions about the future of the Republican Party.

In one camp there are those who believe the Republican Party must modernize its message to account for changing circumstances. The columnist David Brooks has called these people the "reformers." Against them are the "traditionalists," who believe that Republicans need only recommit themselves to Ronald Reagan's agenda to succeed again. (Read "Can Michael Steele Broaden the Grand Old Party?")

The traditionalists push for upper-income tax cuts. The reformers want to cut the payroll taxes paid by the middle class. Traditionalists often deny that global warming is real. Reformers just want to make sure that our answer to it is cost-effective. Traditionalists want to hold the line on government spending. Reformers think it's more important for Republicans to advocate market-friendly solutions to problems such as rising health-care costs and traffic congestion.

Limbaugh, needless to say, is a traditionalist, and some reformers have become fierce critics. The debate has gotten pretty hot over the past two weeks, with those critics going after Limbaugh's girth and his outraged fans accusing them of being closet liberals.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

political mythology



The Power of Nightmares, subtitled The Rise of the Politics of Fear, is a BBC documentary film series, written and produced by Adam Curtis. Its three one-hour parts consist mostly of a montage of archive footage with Curtis's narration. The series was first broadcast in the United Kingdom in late 2004 and has subsequently been broadcast in multiple countries and shown in several film festivals, including the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.

increasing intelligence?

NYTimes | It used to be believed that people had a level of general intelligence with which they were born that was unaffected by environment and stayed the same, more or less, throughout life. But now it’s known that environmental influences are large enough to have considerable effects on intelligence, perhaps even during your own lifetime.

A key contribution to this subject comes from James Flynn, a moral philosopher who has turned to social science and statistical analysis to explore his ideas about humane ideals. Flynn’s work usually pops up in the news in the context of race issues, especially public debates about the causes of racial differences in performance on intelligence tests. We won’t spend time on the topic of race, but the psychologist Dick Nisbett has written an excellent article on the subject.

Flynn first noted that standardized intelligence quotient (I.Q.) scores were rising by three points per decade in many countries, and even faster in some countries like the Netherlands and Israel. For instance, in verbal and performance I.Q., an average Dutch 14-year-old in 1982 scored 20 points higher than the average person of the same age in his parents’ generation in 1952. These I.Q. increases over a single generation suggest that the environmental conditions for developing brains have become more favorable in some way.

What might be changing? One strong candidate is working memory, defined as the ability to hold information in mind while manipulating it to achieve a cognitive goal. Examples include remembering a clause while figuring out how it relates the rest of a sentence, or keeping track of the solutions you’ve already tried while solving a puzzle. Flynn has pointed out that modern times have increasingly rewarded complex and abstract reasoning. Differences in working memory capacity account for 50 to 70 percent of individual differences in fluid intelligence (abstract reasoning ability) in various meta-analyses, suggesting that it is one of the major building blocks of I.Q. (Ackerman et al; Kane et al; Süss et al.) This idea is intriguing because working memory can be improved by training.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

sixth sense..,



fist tap to P6 - couple this with the computational knowledge engine and the possibilities boggle the imagination.

the age of uncertainty

Reality Sandwich | Recently, I have taken as my personal mantra the not very transcendent phrase, "I don't know." The list of things I feel unsure about seems to be steadily increasing. For instance, I don't know if our solipsistic species will survive much longer, and sometimes I am not even sure how much I care. I don't know if Barack Obama is a warm-hearted leader who will unite people at a time of adversity, or the most brilliant puppet ever put forth by the New World Order conspirators (who, as radio journalist and documentary filmmaker Alex Jones suggests, may be plotting a program of rapid depopulation). I don't know if the increase in UFO sightings means we are approaching a benevolent contact experience or a horrific predatory ambush. I don't know if global warming is mainly caused by human action, or if it is part of a phase transition of the entire solar system, as the Russian scientist Dmitriev proposes.

I don't know if men and women should be monogamous or if it is better to be bonobo-like in one's erotic habits. I don't know if we will develop some type of new energy technology that will rescue us from Peak Oil, or if we are destined to see industrial civilization devolve and disintegrate as fossil fuel becomes scarce. I don't know whether to learn to grow food and harvest rainwater or to master some weird new esoteric discipline like Vortex Healing or Keylontic Science. I don't know if free will exists, or if we are conditioned robots, performing an illusory spectacle scripted by Hindu deities or dreamtime ancestors. I don't know if we should get rid of religions or create a really cool new one.

I don't know whether to stockpile gold or create an intentional community. I don't know whether to stay in Manhattan or head for the hills. I don't know whether we are approaching global enlightenment or regressing into barbarism. I don't know whether biotechnology and nanotechnology will fuse to give us immortal physical bodies or if we will all croak as our mistreated planet falls apart. I don't know if anything special will happen on December 21, 2012. I don't know if I should start a riot or throw a party. I don't know whether to panic or relax.

civil unrest in america?

Global Research | Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor and early supporter of Barack Obama's presidential campaign, has warned that civil unrest on American soil is a possibility that should not be dismissed. Brzezinski explains that "[the United States is] going to have millions and millions of unemployed, people really facing dire straits. And we’re going to be having that for some period of time before things hopefully improve. And at the same time there is public awareness of this extraordinary wealth that was transferred to a few individuals at levels without historical precedent in America..." Brzezinski concludes with this noteworthy remark "...hell, there could be even riots".

The aforementioned means that the upper echelons of the American political elite have realized that the current financial and economic turmoil is much worse than what many experts had foreseen, and that things could really spiral out of control if the present situation deteriorates even further. Indeed, optimistic signs are nowhere to be found. Quite the contrary.

Professor Michel Chossudovsky observed that the US Army 3rd Infantry's 1st Brigade Combat Team returned from Iraq some months ago. That information is extremely disturbing because such military unit "may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control", according to official sources. Now, what scenario could possibly require the operational deployment of said units on American soil? Professor Chossudovsky puts forward an intriguing hypothesis that must be borne in mind. He argues that "Civil unrest resulting from from the financial meltdown is a distinct possibility, given the broad impacts of financial collapse on lifelong savings, pension funds, homeownership, etc".

Shortly afterwards, the Centre for Research on Globalization website posted an article written by Wayne Madsen. Mr. Madsen claims that a highly confidential official report has been circulating among senior members of the US Congress and their top advisors. The report has been allegedly nicknamed as the "C & R document". The author stipulates that those letters stand for none other than "conflict" and "revolution" because those scenarios are supposedly regarded by America's policymakers as plausible consequences triggered by a financial meltdown. According to Mr. Madsen, the content of the document reveals that severe financial chaos could spark a major war if Washington refuses to honor its foreign debt and/or massive riots in US cities if the American population does not accept a considerable tax increase.

For decades, overall political stability in the US was taken for granted. However, as it has been pointed out, even senior American statesmen are taking into consideration that financial volatility could fuel a wave of discontent which could easily reach troubling proportions. It seems that America itself is not immune from "regime-threatening instability" as the Pentagon and the American intelligence community terms it. It is likely that American government officials have not dismissed the worst-case scenario. Indeed it looks like they have been preparing accordingly.

Therefore, as has been scrutinized here, once one proceeds to connect the dots a very dark picture begins to emerge, to say the least. An all-encompassing cloud of uncertainty prevents us from formulating an accurate forecast regarding what developments will occur and how they will unfold during the next few months, let alone years. The only thing that can be taken for granted and that one can be sure of is that the unthinkable has now become thinkable.

introducing wolfram alpha


Twine | In a nutshell, Wolfram and his team have built what he calls a "computational knowledge engine" for the Web. OK, so what does that really mean? Basically it means that you can ask it factual questions and it computes answers for you.

It doesn't simply return documents that (might) contain the answers, like Google does, and it isn't just a giant database of knowledge, like the Wikipedia. It doesn't simply parse natural language and then use that to retrieve documents, like Powerset, for example.

Instead, Wolfram Alpha actually computes the answers to a wide range of questions -- like questions that have factual answers such as "What is the location of Timbuktu?" or "How many protons are in a hydrogen atom?," "What was the average rainfall in Boston last year?," "What is the 307th digit of Pi?," "where is the ISS?" or "When was GOOG worth more than $300?"

Think about that for a minute. It computes the answers. Wolfram Alpha doesn't simply contain huge amounts of manually entered pairs of questions and answers, nor does it search for answers in a database of facts. Instead, it understands and then computes answers to certain kinds of questions.

(Update: in fact, Wolfram Alpha doesn't merely answer questions, it also helps users to explore knowledge, data and relationships between things. It can even open up new questions -- the "answers" it provides include computed data or facts, plus relevant diagrams, graphs, and links to other related questions and sources. It also can be used to ask questions that are new explorations between relationships, data sets or systems of knowledge. It does not just provides textual answers to questions -- it helps you explore ideas and create new knowledge as well)

mathematical anti telharsic harfatum septomin

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

all africans....,

denigration and control...,

apocalyptic adventures...,

Palestine Chronicle | Although George W. Bush is universally recognized for his right-wing leaning, he is not so well-known, at least publicly, for upholding some of the most fundamentalist apocalyptic thoughts underpinning the spiritual beliefs of some of his ideological brethren.

A recent book to be published soon in France by Plon may help shed some light, if the allegations therein contained were to be independently verified, on this, perhaps, mysterious side of the ex-republican president of the United States. The book whose French title is Si vous le répétez, je démentirai (If you repeat it, I will deny) is written by the journalist Jean Claude Maurice who served as the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche between 1999 and 2003. It consists of a combination of interviews with three prominent French politicians, the ex-foreign minister Dominique de Villepin, the current president Nicolas Sarkozy and most importantly the ex-president, Jacque Chirac. It is one portion of the interviews devoted to Mr. Jacque Chirac that we will try to briefly analyze here.

During those private interviews, Jacque Chirac had purportedly confessed to the journalist some personal remarks regarding the faith of George W. Bush that seemed quite daunting. He told the journalist that the latter called him twice beseeching him basically, in the name of their common “spiritual faith”, i.e., “Christianity”, to join the collective effort of the coalition being formed to wage a preemptive war against Iraq. In his first telephonic call he reportedly said to Jacque Chirac: “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East” and then added that “the biblical prophecies are being fulfilled”. Bewildered, Jacque Chirac did not react immediately. He knew that Bush was somehow religious but could never have thought that the president of the world only superpower was as mysteriously warmhearted to the complex intricacies of the Scriptures as he seemed to be. When a day later George W. Bush pronounced the mysterious words in a conference about the “axis of evil” (the word “evil” was inserted by the evangelical speechwriter Michael Gerson, the original term coined by another staff writer, the Canadian Jew David Frum, was “axis of hatred”), the Elysée decided secretly to consult an expert or biblical scholar about the issue.

In order to avoid any possible leak in France, they decided to outsource or solicit the service of a discreet and prominent outsider instead of a local expert more prone to indiscretion. It was Thomas Römer, professor of Theology at the University of Lausanne, who was called upon to clarify, for the occasion, the biblical mystery at stake. His report was chilling: Gog, prince of Magog, is merely the Apocalypse.

Indeed, the character appeared in Genesis and mainly the last most obscure chapters of the book of Ezekiel. It underpins the fulfillment of a prophecy, i.e., a last victory against the enemy of the “chosen people” or children of Israel following their return to the “Promised land”. The announcement of this parable of Armageddon to illustrate a mysterious biblical prophecy was not as laughable as it might appear to the French, according to Jacque Chirac who appeared quite disturbed and tormented because of what he just heard. He then wondered how come one be so superficial and fanatical in their beliefs, according to the journalist.

middle-east reality check

NYTimes | Secretary of State Hillary Clinton grabbed headlines with an invitation to Iran to attend a conference on Afghanistan, but the significant Middle Eastern news last week came from Britain. It has “reconsidered” its position on Hezbollah and will open a direct channel to the militant group in Lebanon.

Like Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah has long been treated by the United States as a proscribed terrorist group. This narrow view has ignored the fact that both organizations are now entrenched political and social movements without whose involvement regional peace is impossible.

Britain aligned itself with the U.S. position on Hezbollah, but has now seen its error. Bill Marston, a Foreign Office spokesman, told Al Jazeera: “Hezbollah is a political phenomenon and part and parcel of the national fabric in Lebanon. We have to admit this.”

Hallelujah.

Precisely the same thing could be said of Hamas in Gaza. It is a political phenomenon, part of the national fabric there.

One difference is that Hezbollah is in the Lebanese national unity government, whereas Hamas won the free and fair January 2006 elections to the Legislative Council of the Palestinian Authority, only to discover Middle Eastern democracy is only democracy if it produces the right result.

The United States should follow the British example. It should initiate diplomatic contacts with the political wing of Hezbollah. The Obama administration should also look carefully at how to reach moderate Hamas elements and engineer a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation.

Monday, March 09, 2009

undervalued assets?

Dr. HousingBubble | The Modern Banking System is Like a Broken Dam: At 8% Annual Compounded Growth it would take us 11 years to reach the Peak of the S&P 500. Old Ideas and Prophets Falling Hard. The poorly planned Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) of 2008 has been a complete boondoggle. How have things gone in the stock market since the TARP came about? Well let us take a look:

Since TARP version 1.0 was signed into law on October 3rd, 2008 the S&P 500 is down approximately 38%. Think about this for a bit. We are talking about 5 months ago and the market has shed nearly 40% of its value. From the 2007 peak, we are now off by a mind boggling 56.4% putting us back to levels not seen since 1996.

People are now claiming that stocks are a bargain. These people were cheering the market on Wednesday only to get reamed on Thursday after Citigroup went into the penny stock territory and the survivability of GM is now in question. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the mainstream financial pundits really have very little knowledge regarding economics. What they are good at is hyperventilating like a hypochrondiac entering a hospital when the market is up or down.



I’ve constructed a chart showing some of the biggest TARP recipients. I’ve also included their stock price as of the day when the TARP was signed into law:


What a sigh of relief! If it weren’t for that wonderfully planned TARP, we might actually need 3 shiny quarters to buy one share of Citigroup but thanks to trillions of taxpayer bailouts, we can with a smile buy one share for one whole dollar! Just take a look at the above chart carefully. We have absolutely flushed money away into the broken dam known as our banking system and the plan isn’t to reform the system and root out the corrupt crony capitalist; no, instead our plan is to give these same institutions more money and believe that they will do well. What an absurdidty! We are giving banks money so they can then, not give it back to us!

I ran a quick calculation to see how long it would take the S&P 500 to reach its high of 1,576 from its current 682.55. Assuming a nice rate of 8% each year (heck, this is close to the Bernard Madoff rate) it would take us 11 years before we see those 2007 highs again! Do you really see 8% yearly gains for 11 straight years after the trillions we have dumped into bailing out failing banks and poorly managed institutions? Forget about a lost decade, we are now getting close to having two lost decades. Now tell me, what will you be doing in 2027?

california bread lines....,



Many say a depression doesn't have to be great, that the economy can sink into a milder depression. The Salvation Army says it's happening now, and in San Diego County, people are standing in line outside a Salvation Army waiting for donated bread.

Salvation Army director of communications Suzi Woodruff Lacey said they are seeing people from all walks of life: "white collar, blue collar, people who have lost their jobs, people who are in danger of losing their homes."

Bread lines were regularly seen in the 1930s during the Great Depression, when unemployment peaked at more than 25 percent and the stock market lost 90 percent of its value. Today, California's unemployment rate hit 8.4 percent.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

faux news peddles the bubba effect



Why on earth is faux news, primarily through the auspices of The Glenn Beck Program, peddling (TEOTWAWKI) and Bubba micro-insurgency? How did Glenn Beck come up out of "left field" quite suddenly and assume the number two spot in right-wing radio and teevee?

Saturday, March 07, 2009

emerging cognitive neuroscience and related technologies

National Academies Press | The intelligence community (IC) faces the challenging task of analyzing extremely large amounts of information on cognitive neuroscience and neurotechnology, deciding which of that information has national security implications, and then assigning priorities for decision makers. It is also challenged to keep pace with rapid scientific advances that can only be understood through close and continuing collaboration with experts from the scientific community, from the corporate world, and from academia. The situation will become more complex as the volume of information continues to grow. The Committee on Military and Intelligence Methodology for Emergent Neurophysiological and Cognitive/Neural Science Research in the Next Two Decades was tasked by the Technology Warning Division of the Defense Intelligence Agency’s (DIA’s) Defense Warning Office to identify areas of cognitive neuroscience and related technologies that will develop over the next two decades and that could have military applications that might also be of interest to the IC. Specifically, the DIA asked the National Research Council (NRC) to perform the following tasks:

• Review the current state of today's work in neurophysiology and cognitive/neural science, select the manners in which this work could be of interest to national security professionals, and trends for future warfighting applications that may warrant continued analysis and tracking by the intelligence community,

• Use the technology warning methodology developed in the 2005 National Research Council report Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances (NRC, 2005) to assess the health, rate of development, and degree of innovation in the neurophysiology and cognitive/neural science research areas of interest, and

• Amplify the technology warning methodology to illustrate the ways in which neurophysiological and cognitive/neural research conducted in selected countries may affect committee assessments.

The label “cognitive” in the title and elsewhere in this report is used in a broad sense, unless specifically noted otherwise in the report itself, to refer to psychological and physiological processes underlying human information processing, emotion, motivation, social influence, and development. Hence, it includes contributions from behavioral and social science disciplines as well as contributing disciplines such as philosophy, mathematics, computer science, and linguistics. The label “neuroscience” is also used in a broad sense (unless specified otherwise) and includes the study of the central nervous system (e.g., brain) and somatic, autonomic, and neuroendocrine processes.

This summary includes the committee’s key findings and recommendations, numbered to facilitate access to related text in Chapters 2-5, which also include additional findings.

using energy sources wisely

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists | For nostalgia purposes, I recommend reading President Jimmy Carter's 1977 speech on energy policy. It's spot-on, and Carter's subsequent energy policies managed--among other things--to decrease U.S. oil imports by 50 percent between 1977 and 1982.

One of several ways he did this was by removing oil from the country's electricity production. Since petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel work so well as transportation fuels, Carter believed that oil should be exclusively for them.

Using logic similar to Carter's thinking, Pickens reasons that if we get natural gas out of the electricity production business, we can replace about 25 percent of imported oil with domestic natural gas. This might just work because about 20 percent of imported oil is used to haul goods in 18-wheelers. Those trucks, which often have 650-horsepower engines, will not be made to run on batteries for decades--if ever. But they can be powered by relatively efficient compressed natural gas engines.

The "Pickens Plan" is fundamentally based on the principle that not all energy sources are created equal. As I've argued previously, the physical limits of energy density favor hydrocarbons such as oil and natural gas over virtually all alternatives for energy storage mediums. These physical realities should guide our energy policy--as they did for President Carter.

The biggest obstacle that I see for the Pickens Plan is that tens of billions of dollars already have been invested in natural gas electricity infrastructure over the last 15 years. Obviously, the companies and individuals who made those investments will not be thrilled about natural gas being removed from electricity production.

Friday, March 06, 2009

collapse crimes' county concentration

USA Today | More than half of the nation's foreclosures last year took place in 35 counties, a sign that the financial crisis devastating the national economy may have begun with collapsing home loans in only a few corners of the country.

Those counties, spread over a dozen states, accounted for more than 1.5 million foreclosure actions last year, a USA TODAY analysis of figures compiled by the real estate listing firm RealtyTrac shows — more than were recorded in the entire United States just two years earlier. They were the epicenter of a wave of foreclosures that have left leading banks teetering and magnified the nation's economic problems.

"This crisis was triggered by foreclosures, and a lot of those were in a very small number of areas," says William Lucy, a University of Virginia professor who has studied the link between lenders and faltering home loans. Banks spread the risk and "it became like a car with no reverse gear. Once it starts to go over the cliff, it's gone."

In other parts of the country, the foreclosure wave was barely a ripple — at least until it started swamping major banks that had invested heavily in mortgages. Banking giant Wachovia Corp., for example, was hammered after California and Florida customers of one mortgage firm it bought began defaulting at high rates. The risks of such lending were spread so broadly among financial institutions that, when the loans went bad, it drove the national credit crisis, says Christopher Mayer, who studies real estate at Columbia Business School.

A few of the 35 counties leading the foreclosure boom are in already-distressed areas around Detroit and Cleveland. But most are clustered in places such as Southern California, Las Vegas, Phoenix, South Florida and Washington, where home values shot up dramatically in the first half of the decade, then began to crumble.

nyc rally...not-riot....not-yet.......,



Tens of thousands of New Yorkers marched on City Hall, rallying to stop proposed funding cuts.

The rally cries of labor unions, community groups and families outside City Hall could be heard throughout lower Manhattan. Desperation for an economic lifeline brought out more than 50,000 people along several blocks of Broadway in a self-described "Rally For New York."

Their message for Gov. David Paterson came in the form of booming chants:

"No more cuts! No more cuts!"

the mirage of conscious evolution

Humans are the most adventitious of creatures—a result of blind evolutionary drift. Yet, with the power of genetic engineering we need no longer be ruled by chance. Humankind—so we are told—can shape its own future. According to E.O. Wilson, conscious control of human evolution is not only possible but inevitable:

... genetic evolution is about to become conscious and volitional, and usher in a new epoch in the history of life. ...The prospect of this 'volitional evolution'—a species deciding what to do about its own heredity—will present the most profound intellectual and ethical choices humanity has ever faced ... humanity will be positioned godlike to take control of its own ultimate fate. It can, if it chooses, alter not just the anatomy and intelligence of the species but also the emotions and creative drive that compose the very core of human nature.

The author of this passage is the greatest contemporary Darwinian. He has been attacked by biologists and social scientists who believe that the human species is not governed by the same laws as other animals. In that war Wilson is undoubtedly on the side of truth. Yet the prospect of conscious human evolution he invokes is a mirage. The idea of humanity taking charge of its destiny makes sense only if we ascribe consciousness and purpose to the species; but Darwin's discovery was that species are only currents in the drift of genes. The idea that humanity can shape its future assumes that it is exempt from this truth.

It seems feasible that over the coming century human nature will be scientifically remodelled. If so, it will be done haphazardly, as an upshot of struggles in the murky realm where big business, organised crime, and the hidden parts of government vie for control. If the human species is re-engineered it will not be the result of humanity assuming a godlike control of its destiny. It will be another twist in man's fate. John Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals

the bottleneck

Humanity did not descend as angelic beings into this world. Nor are we aliens who colonized Earth. We evolved here, one among many species, across millions of years, and exist as one organic miracle linked to others. The natural environment we treat with such unnecessary ignorance and recklessness was our cradle and nursery, our school, and remains our one and only home. To its special conditions we are intimately adapted in every one of the bodily fibers and biochemical transactions that gives us life.

That is the essence of environmentalism. It is the guiding principle of those devoted to the health of the planet. But it is not yet a general worldview, evidently not yet compelling enough to distract many people away from the primal diversions of sport, politics, religion, and private wealth.

The relative indifference to the environment springs, I believe, from deep within human nature. The human brain evidently evolved to commit itself emotionally only to a small piece of geography, a limited band of kinsmen, and two or three generations into the future. To look neither far ahead nor far afield is elemental in a Darwinian sense. We are innately inclined to ignore any distant possibility not yet requiring examination. It is, people say, just good common sense. Why do they think in this shortsighted way? The reason is simple: it is a hardwired part of our Paleolithic heritage. For hundreds of millennia, those who worked for short-term gain within a small circle of relatives and friends lived longer and left more offspring —even when their collective striving caused their chiefdoms and empires to crumble around them.

The long view that might have saved their distant descendants required a vision and extended altruism instinctively difficult to marshal.

The great dilemma of environmental reasoning stems from this conflict between short-term and long-term values. To select values for the near future of one's own tribe or country is relatively easy. To select values for the distant future of the whole planet also is relatively easy--in theory, at least. To combine the two visions to create a universal environmental ethic is, on the other hand, very difficult. But combine them we must, because a universal environmental ethic is the only guide by which humanity and the rest of life can be safely conducted through the bottleneck into which our species has foolishly blundered.

Book excerpt originally published in Scientific American, February 2002.
Wilson, Edward O. 2002. The Future of Life

new humanitarian device approval

fda.gov | What is it? A totally implanted brain stimulator intended to suppress symptoms associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) that are not adequately controlled with medications and/or other therapies.

How does it work? An implanted pulse generator (IPG) is connected with a lead extension, to a lead with four electrodes. The electrodes contact the patient at a specific anatomical structure within the brain. The IPG is implanted under the skin of either the abdomen or under the clavicle, and sends programmable electrical stimulation pulses to a selected combination of output electrodes within the brain. Two of these device systems may be implanted to stimulate both sides of the brain in order to relieve symptoms or one device with two lead outputs.

When is it used? This device is indicated to be used in conjunction with medications for the treatment of chronic, treatment resistant adult OCD patients to aid in the management of the symptoms.

What will it accomplish? The Reclaim™ system may improve some of the symptoms associated with OCD; however, individual results vary and the specific benefit for an individual patient cannot be predicted.

When should it not be used? In patients who will be exposed to diathermy, in patients who will be exposed to MRI using a full body radio-frequency coil or a head transmit coil that extends over the chest, in patients for whom test stimulation is unsuccessful, and in patients who are unable to properly operate the brain stimulator.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

noologie

Noologie | The current progress in neurological research gives rise to the expectation that within the next generation, there will be an understanding of the neuronal loci and functions that form the infrastructure of sign processes and of language. Of the many works pointing into this direction, William Calvin's: "The Cerebral Code", and Spitzer's: "Geist im Netz" are quoted as examples. The present contribution aims at sketching a (so far hypothetical) working model based on Calvin's neuronal resonance fields for a heterodox interpretation of the ancient Greek Aoide language used in the Epics of Homer and other Aoidoi. While this is orthodoxically treated in the linguistic framework of the Saussurean "Signe Arbitraire" doctrine (e.g. Parry, Lord, and followers), it is proposed here that at least part of that material (perhaps of Pelasgian origin), was formed on another principle, to which Platon hints at in Kratylos: "That the sounds must be similar to the thing also". If this thing is interpreted not as the objective outer world (Popper-World 1) thing, but as neuronal subfunction of the "Weltbildapparat" (Riedl, Lorenz), then it is easy to see that the sign cannot be totally arbitrary, and that the sounds must correspond to an extremely fine-tuned neuronal and muscular resonance circuit that can produce and perceive them. As we can see in all spoken languages, only a very small subset of all the possible phonemic combinatorics is utilized in each language, and that combination is by no means arbitrary. The hypothesis presented will advance arguments that the ancient Aoide language can be interpreted, obviously not as prosa communication system (and no adaptation thereof), but as a (specially designed) fine-tuned neuronal-sound-imagination device designed for evoking neuronal resonance states of a kind that we presently associate with trance. Platon's description of Homer as "daemiourgon onomaton" (craftsman of words) is taken as hint in this direction. Selected examples will be presented of a morphemic combinatoric system underlying the Aoide language.

Neuronal Resonance Fields, Aoidoi, and Sign Processes

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

bushco's gestapo

Washington Post | IMAGINE A PLACE where soldiers are entitled to burst through doors without warrants and citizens can be locked away without trial. Imagine that the leader of this place has the power to silence dissenters and the press and has the right to keep duly elected legislators from having a voice in these matters. Imagine further that he can unilaterally rip up and disregard any treaty he dislikes and that he has been told he is on solid legal ground by a hand-picked circle of advisers.

This is not some lawless Third World country or dusty fictional outback from a sci-fi movie but the United States of America, as described in a series of newly released Justice Department memos from the early years of the Bush administration.

Some of the ideas in these memos, authored by lawyers in the Justice Department's elite Office of Legal Counsel, have been known for some time, and later iterations of the Bush Justice Department repudiated many of the principles the memos espouse. What their public disclosure this week makes clear is how intellectually dishonest Bush-era lawyers were in coming to these preposterous conclusions.

Many of the memos conflate and distort existing statutes and case law to give Mr. Bush the answers he wants. For example, a Sept. 25, 2001, memo concludes that law enforcement officers need not obtain search warrants to conduct intelligence operations inside the country. The legal reasoning: Foreign intelligence constitutes "national self-defense." In other contexts, courts have ruled that the use of deadly force in self-defense is justifiable under the Fourth Amendment. Therefore, the memo concludes, "if the government's heightened interest in self-defense justifies the use of deadly force, then it also certainly would justify warrantless searches." Never mind that Congress specifically passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in the 1970s to forbid such warrantless searches.

mcveighism on the radar

Washington Post | At least four tons of fertilizer was stolen over the weekend in Frederick, city police said. No motive had been determined.

A ton of urea and three tons of other fertilizer were taken from the Southern States store on South Street between Saturday night and Sunday morning, police said.

According to police, the fertilizer was contained for the most part in white 50-pound bags with a company logo.

Fertilizer thefts have attracted increased attention from law enforcement officials in recent years because some types of fertilizer can be used in making explosives. It was not immediately clear whether the materials taken could be used for such a purpose.

Lt. Clark Pennington said police have notified the FBI. As a matter of routine, a report of the theft was sent to a state coordinating center, which is to notify all interested federal agencies. He said detectives would work closely with those agencies in the inquiry, which was in its early stages.
A boxcar full of it was stolen in Kansas City on monday but the thief crashed it into a field and I believe was apprehended. This is a collapse crime that folks need to be on the lookout for...,

moral typhoid mary in her own words...,




engineered die-off?

Comes now Big Don with a particularly nasty data point unlikely to break the radar of mainstream media.

Canadian Press | Officials investigate how bird flu viruses were sent to unsuspecting labs

Officials are trying to get to the bottom of how vaccine manufacturer Baxter International Inc. made "experimental virus material" based on a human flu strain but contaminated with the H5N1 avian flu virus and then distributed it to an Austrian company.

That company, Avir Green Hills Biotechnology, then disseminated the supposed H3N2 virus product to subcontractors in the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Germany. Authorities in the four European countries are looking into the incident, and their efforts are being closely watched by the World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Control.

Though it appears none of the 36 or 37 people who were exposed to the contaminated product became infected, the incident is being described as "a serious error" on the part of Baxter, which is on the brink of securing a European licence for an H5N1 vaccine. That vaccine is made at a different facility, in the Czech Republic.

"For this particular incident ... the horse did not get out (of the barn)," Dr. Angus Nicoll of the ECDC said from Stockholm.

"But that doesn't mean that we and WHO and the European Commission and the others aren't taking it as seriously as you would any laboratory accident with dangerous pathogens - which you have here."

Accidental release of a mixture of live H5N1 and H3N2 viruses - if that indeed happened - could have resulted in dire consequences. Nicoll said officials still aren't 100 per cent sure the mixture contained live H5N1 viruses. But given that ferrets exposed to the mixture died, it likely did.

H5N1 doesn't easily infect people, but H3N2 viruses do. They are one of two types of influenza A viruses that infect people each flu season.

If someone exposed to the mixture had been co-infected with H5N1 and H3N2, the person could have served as an incubator for a hybrid virus able to transmit easily to and among people. That mixing process, called reassortment, is one of two ways pandemic viruses are created.

Research published last summer by scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found that in the laboratory, H5N1 and H3N2 viruses mated readily. While less virulent than H5N1, a number of the offspring viruses appeared to retain at least a portion of the killing power of their dangerous parent.

Baxter International, which is based in Deerfield, Ill., said the contamination was the result of an error in its research facility in Orth-Donau, Austria.

The facility had been contracted by Avir Green Hills to make what Baxter refers to as "experimental virus material" based on human H3N2 viruses.

worldwide economic protests and riots

This fellow has compiled a small collection of videos and links regarding economic related riots around the world. This list will surely grow in 2009 as the effects of the banking collapse, credit crunch and ensuing economic depression propagate throughout communities in the world.

Ireland



Connecticut



Bulgaria



You get the gist...., quite a few more videos available in his collection.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

clinton bearish on iran

Washington Post | Clinton "said she is doubtful that Iran will respond to any kind of engagement and opening the hand out and reaching out to them," said a senior State Department official, who requested anonymity because he was describing a closed-door conversation.

Clinton made the remarks in a meeting with Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, during an international donors' conference for Gaza at this Red Sea resort.

Nahayan told Clinton he was worried the administration would cut a deal with Iran without properly consulting with Persian Gulf allies, the U.S. official said. "We will be consulting with regional leaders and listening," the official quoted Clinton as saying in response. "She said we are under no illusions about Iran and our eyes are wide open.

Clinton last week named veteran diplomat Dennis Ross as her special adviser for the Gulf and Southwest Asia -- largely a euphemism for Iran. Ross has written that if an overture to Iran were not reciprocated, it would strengthen the United States' efforts to stiffen international sanctions intended to pressure Iran to end its nuclear program. Iran says it is developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but the United States, Israel and other countries are worried that the country seeks to build nuclear weapons.
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Persian Gulf allies have become increasingly alarmed by Tehran's growing regional power during the Bush years, helped by the U.S. invasion of Iraq, its one-time rival, and the growing strength of Iranian-backed movements such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank.

h.n.(NOT)i.c.



hat tip to brotherbrown

the world is a business



You have meddled with the primary forces of nature, Mr Beale, and I won't have it! Is that clear?

You think you merely stopped a business deal. That is not the case. The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back! It is ebb and flow, tide and gravity. It is ecological balance.

You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no Third Worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems. One vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multi-varied, multi-national dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rands, rubles, pounds and shekels.

It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic, and sub-atomic and galactic structure of things today.

And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature. And you will atone.

Am I getting through to you, Mr Beale?

You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today.

What do you think the Russians talk about in their Councils of State? Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, mini-max solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do.

We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bye-laws of of business. The world is a business, Mr Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime.

And our children will live, Mr Beale, to see that ... perfect ... world in which there is no war nor famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company for whom all men will work to serve a common profit. In which all men will hold a share of stock.

All necessities provided. All anxieties tranquilized. All boredom amused.

obama's ear on iran

The National | A week is a long time in Washington, especially for the influential Israel lobby. Last Monday it had cause to celebrate the appointment of one of its favourite sons, Dennis Ross, as the State Department’s point-man on Iran. But on Friday came the announcement that Charles Freeman is to be President Obama’s National Intelligence Council chairman – the superspook who distils the gleanings of America’s 16 different intelligence agencies into the authoritative National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) that guide US policy.

NIEs were key to the Bush administration’s case for war with Iraq, and the Iran NIE has become a fierce battleground between the traditional intelligence establishment and the neoconservatives and Israel lobby, who were furious when the 2007 NIE suggested that Iran was not currently engaged in nuclear weapons work. Israel and its supporters peddle alarmist views of Iran’s nuclear activities, not bothering to distinguish between developments that would give Iran the means to pursue nuclear weapons and the actual pursuit of such weapons (the international and US intelligence consensus is that Iran has not yet taken a decision to build nuclear weapons; the concern is its nuclear energy infrastructure puts such weapons within reach).

If Israel and its backers are to persuade the Obama administration to accept their views on Iran, it is a less than helpful for the NIE be the province of a sceptical, independent thinker who believes that Israel’s interests are not necessarily those of the US. Renowned as a brilliant diplomat and analyst, even-handed in his assessments of the Middle East and not bound by the Israel-first consensus that the Israel lobby has fought so hard to establish in US Middle East policy, Mr Freeman was denounced by Steve Rosen, a former top American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) official, as “a profoundly disturbing appointment”.

Last October Mr Freeman castigated President Bush for “writing blank cheques to Israel, which harms it by depriving Israelis of any immediate incentive to make the hard choices they must make to achieve long-term security for themselves and their state… it benefits no one for the United States to continue to underwrite the injustices, indignities, and humiliations of the occupation”.

His appointment was all the more remarkable given such statements, and the ire they provoked among Israel’s traditionally influential backers.

iran, the jews, and germany

NYTimes | So a Jerusalem Post article says that I’m “hardly the first American to be misled by the existence of synagogues in totalitarian countries.”

The Atlantic Monthly’s Jeffrey Goldberg finds me “particularly credulous,” taken in by the Iranian hospitality and friendliness that “are the hallmarks of most Muslim societies.” (Thanks for that info, Jeffrey.)

A conservative Web site called American Thinker, which tries to prove its name is an oxymoron, believes I would have been fooled by the Nazis’ sham at the Theresienstadt camp.

The indignation stems from my recent column on Iranian Jews, which said that the 25,000-strong community worships in relative tranquillity; that Persian Jews have fared better than Arab Jews; that hostility toward Jews in Iran has on occasion led to trumped-up charges against them; and that those enamored of the “Mad Mullah” caricature of Iran regard any compromise with it as a rerun of Munich 1938.

This last point found confirmation in outraged correspondence from several American Jews unable to resist some analogy between Iran and Nazi Germany. I was based in Berlin for three years; Germany’s confrontation with the Holocaust inhabited me. Let’s be clear: Iran’s Islamic Republic is no Third Reich redux. Nor is it a totalitarian state.

Munich allowed Hitler’s annexation of the Sudetenland. Iran has not waged an expansionary war in more than two centuries.

Totalitarian regimes require the complete subservience of the individual to the state and tolerate only one party to which all institutions are subordinated. Iran is an un-free society with a keen, intermittently brutal apparatus of repression, but it’s far from meeting these criteria. Significant margins of liberty, even democracy, exist. Anything but mad, the mullahs have proved malleable.

Most of Iran’s population is under 30; it’s an Internet-connected generation. Access to satellite television is widespread. The BBC’s new Farsi service is all the rage.

Abdullah Momeni, a student opponent of the regime, told me, “The Internet is very important to us; in fact, it is of infinite importance.” Iranians are not cut off, like Cubans or North Koreans.

incendiary and ugly entertainer....,



On the same night he was offering the keynote address to the Conservative Political Action Conference, Rush Limbaugh drew criticism from an unlikely source: Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.

In a little-noticed interview Saturday night, Steele dismissed Limbaugh as an “entertainer” whose show is “incendiary” and “ugly.”

Steele’s criticism makes him the highest-ranking Republican to pick a fight with the popular and polarizing conservative talk show host.

Monday, March 02, 2009

julian jaynes revisited

Anthony Campbell | Jaynes's central idea is that our modern type of consciousness is a recent development; indeed, that it began no more than 3,000 years ago. In earlier times human mentality was characterized by auditory and sometimes visual hallucinations, in which people heard the voices of the gods speaking to them and telling them what to do. Only when this process became internalized and recognized as coming from within the percipients' own minds did truly modern consciousness begin.

The minds of 'preconscious' humans were split in two (the 'bicameral mind'), probably as a result of a dissociation between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Jaynes finds evidence of this in Homer's Iliad, in which the characters continually receive orders and advice from various deities. This, he claims, is no mere literary trope but is an accurate description of how people really experienced the world at the time. In support of this view he cites the eminent classicist E.R. Dodds, whose book The Greeks and the Irrational provides him with plenty of evidence for his thesis.

The heroes of The Iliad do not have the kind of interior monologue that characterizes our own consciousness today. Instead, their decisions, plans, and initiatives are developed at an unconscious level and then are 'announced' to them, sometimes by the hallucinated figure of a friend or a god, sometimes by a voice alone. The Iliad, Jaynes believes, stands at a watershed between two different types of human mentality and affords us an insight into an older mode of being. Once we have begun to see history in this way, we find the same process at work in the art and literature of other ancient civilizations: for instance, those of Mesopotamia and of the Hebrews (in the Old Testament).

Jaynes suggests that vestiges of the premodern kind of mentality are to be found even today. Artistic inspiration and poetry are in this sense atavistic. If Jaynes were writing now he would no doubt point to such modern enthusiasms as the vogues for speaking with tongues, channelling, or communicating with angels as further manifestations of the same phenomenon.

Whether one agrees with Jaynes or not, there is no denying that his book is eminently readable; he writes elegantly and clearly. The first two chapters provide a brilliant summary of the problem of consciousness and the attempts that have been made to solve it. Throughout the book Jaynes displays an impressive grasp of the historical aspects of his subject as well as of the state of neurophysiological science as it existed at the time he was writing. He was a polymath, and his book is correspondingly rich in facts and ideas.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

lots of guns...,

NYTimes | The hypocrisy grows all too gruesome: The Justice Department pronounced the Mexican drug cartels “a national security threat” this week, even as American gun dealers along the border were busily arming the cartels’ murderous gangs. Mexico complains that American dealers supplied most of the 20,000 weapons seized last year in drug wars in which 6,000 Mexicans died.

A vast arms bazaar is rampant along the four border states, enabled by porous to nonexistent American gun laws. Straw buyers can pick up three or four high-powered war rifles from one of more than 6,600 border dealers and hand them off to smugglers. They easily return to Mexico, where gun laws are far less permissive.

Licensed dealers routinely recruit buyers with clean criminal records to foil weak laws and feed the deadly pipeline, according to a report by James C. McKinley Jr. in The Times. The countless unlicensed “gun enthusiasts” free to deal battlefield rifles at weekend shows, thanks to loophole-ridden laws, are a second source.

The federal government is allowed to only trace weapons used in crimes and has no idea of the full scope of the border trade, which accounts for 9 out of 10 recovered weapons.

One dealer exploited the lack of federal controls by packing up his California shop, where laws were tougher, and moving to the lenient Arizona border. He is accused of selling hundreds of AK-47 rifles to the cartels before he was finally arrested in a sting by undercover agents. He’s more the exception. At best, 200 agents work the border expanse where gun smugglers operate as a “parade of ants,” in the words of one frustrated prosecutor.

There should be enormous shame on this side of the border that America’s addiction to drugs is bolstered by its feckless gun controls. Firm federal law is urgently needed if the homicidal cartels are to be seriously challenged as a threat to national security.

overhaul of rockefeller drug laws moves ahead swiftly

NYTimes | On a fall afternoon in 2002, the New York City police broke up a protest in front of Gov. George E. Pataki’s office in Midtown Manhattan and hauled a dozen demonstrators away.

The protesters were demanding that Mr. Pataki repeal the state’s 30-year-old drug sentencing laws, widely regarded as the nation’s most unforgiving. One of those placed in plastic handcuffs and carted off to a police station was a state senator named David A. Paterson.

Now, with Mr. Paterson in the governor’s mansion and Democrats in control of both houses of the State Legislature, an aggressive effort is under way to finally dismantle what remains of the stringent 1970s-era drug laws, which imposed stiff mandatory sentences as a way to combat the heroin epidemic then gripping New York City.

The Assembly is expected to pass legislation on Tuesday that would once again give judges the discretion to send those found guilty of having smaller amounts of illegal drugs to substance-abuse treatment instead of prison and allow thousands of inmates convicted of nonviolent drug offenses to apply to have their sentences reduced or commuted.

Meanwhile, the governor’s office is preparing legislation that it plans to present to Senate leaders on Monday that would also give judges discretion in sentencing, according to a senior administration official involved in drafting the bills. But for now, the governor is not taking a position on whether sentences should be reduced for some prisoners.

For its part, the Senate is expected to take up legislation in the coming weeks that would also be aimed at strengthening judges’ roles in sentencing.

“Returning discretion to judges is really the heart of where we want to go,” said Jeffrion L. Aubry, an assemblyman who represents Queens and has led efforts to overturn the statutes, known as the Rockefeller drug laws because Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller made them a centerpiece of his agenda.

“When we take away those mandatory minimums and restore judicial discretion, that’s when you can say Rockefeller is no longer there,” Mr. Aubry said.

u.s. to yield marijuana jurisdiction to states

SFGate | U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is sending strong signals that President Obama - who as a candidate said states should be allowed to make their own rules on medical marijuana - will end raids on pot dispensaries in California.

Asked at a Washington news conference Wednesday about Drug Enforcement Administration raids in California since Obama took office last month, Holder said the administration has changed its policy.

"What the president said during the campaign, you'll be surprised to know, will be consistent with what we'll be doing here in law enforcement," he said. "What he said during the campaign is now American policy."

Bill Piper, national affairs director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a marijuana advocacy group, said the statement is encouraging.

"I think it definitely signals that Obama is moving in a new direction, that it means what he said on the campaign trail that marijuana should be treated as a health issue rather than a criminal justice issue," he said.

Piper said Obama has also indicated he will drop the federal government's long-standing opposition to health officials' needle-exchange programs for drug users.

During one campaign appearance, Obama recalled that his mother had died of cancer and said he saw no difference between doctor-prescribed morphine and marijuana as pain relievers. He told an interviewer in March that it was "entirely appropriate" for a state to legalize the medical use of marijuana "with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors."

After the federal Drug Enforcement Agency raided a marijuana dispensary at South Lake Tahoe on Jan. 22, two days after Obama's inauguration, and four others in the Los Angeles area on Feb. 2, White House spokesman Nick Schapiro responded to advocacy groups' protests by noting that Obama had not yet appointed his drug policy team.

"The president believes that federal resources should not be used to circumvent state laws" and expects his appointees to follow that policy, Schapiro said.

get up, stand up...,

SFWeekly | Assemblyman Tom Ammiano's press conference this morning announcing his marijuana-legalization bill started punctually and stayed relentlessly on-point -- thereby denying a barb to every journalist present. Ammiano and the assembled speakers at San Francisco's State Building also spoke calmly and methodically, at one point being drowned out by a floor-waxer. The famously funny lawmaker reined himself in, presenting "The Marijuana Control, regulation and education act (AB 390)" as a simple matter of fiscal common sense. If you believe Ammiano and his straitlaced panel, it is. In a nutshell, here's what the bill would do: "Remove all penalties under California law for the cultivation, transportation, sale, purchase, possession, and use of marijuana, natural THC and paraphernalia by persons over the age of 21," "prohibit local and state law enforcement officials from enforcing federal marijuana laws (more on that later)" and establish a fee of $50 an ounce on marijuana on top of whatever pot will cost in a legal future -- which legalization advocates say is about half what it costs now. This tax rate figures at about a buck a joint.

Betty Yee, the chairwoman of the Board of Equalization, called Ammiano's proposal "a responsible measure on how to work out the regulatory framework of the legalization of marijuana." Her board's research indicated $1.3 billion in tax dollars could immediately head into the state's coffers from the fee on marijuana and the sales tax on medical pot.