Sunday, April 18, 2010

exposing glenn beck as a dangerous fraud

Glenn Beck interviews Sarah Palin.

HuffPo | Orson Welles, one of Glenn Beck's broadcasting heroes. In fact, the name of Beck's production company, Mercury Radio Arts (officially known as Glenn Beck, Inc.), is based on Welles' CBS radio show -- the radio show that famously aired one of broadcasting's most legendary hoaxes: The War of the Worlds.

Unlike the various Glenn Beck shows and publications, the Mercury performance of the H.G. Welles classic featured a disclaimer at the end (quoted above), formally noting the fictitious nature of the broadcast. Imagine if, unlike Beck, Welles had never broadcast a monologue postscript revealing that what had unfolded on the radio was purely theater. It's not a stretch to suggest that the ensuing hysteria during and after the show would've been far greater.

Every day, for four hours a day, Glenn Beck is playing out a Welles fantasy -- leaping out from behind an array of Carrot Top-meets-Gallagher props and gizmos while shouting BOO! at his audience without taking the slightest responsibility for the ensuing hysteria. In Beck's case, the "boo!" comes in the form of Joe McCarthy style red-baiting and Lee Atwater style race-baiting -- insisting with wildly incomprehensible chalkboard scribblings that Marxists and communists are lurking under our beds waiting to steal our money. Money that's better served feeding Glenn Beck's empire of fraud. I mean, just look! Those random words on the chalkboard spelled out the acronym "OLIGARHY!" Run for your lives, and all that. It's an OLIGARHY!

No disclaimers letting the audience off the hook like Beck's hero, the vastly more responsible performer Welles did. Beck, like several other Fox News Channel actors in Roger Ailes' ratings-at-all-costs strategy, presents his show as an honest assessment of the truth without any sort of in-show sign that it's almost entirely farcical.

One of the most common e-mail responses I've received from Beck supporters so far has been, simply: "Prove it." Suffice to say, I never would have started down this road without some sort of confirmation that my theory about Beck was on the right track. So prior to typing a single word, I spoke with some sources close to and within Fox News Channel and they confirmed exactly what I suspected: Glenn Beck is "a bullshit artist." A faker. A phony.

But don't take their word for it. After all, these are anonymous sources and their words ought to be evaluated accordingly.

For proof, I've tracked down an on-the-record source who says Glenn Beck could give a flying crap about the political process. Glenn Beck himself from last week's Forbes profile:
"I could give a flying crap about the political process." Making money, on the other hand, is to be taken very seriously, and controversy is its own coinage. "We're an entertainment company," Beck says.
And there you go. "I could give a flying crap about the political process." Given the hyperkinetic poo-flinging on his show every day, Glenn Beck knows flying crap. There's really no gray area here. It's all about the entertainment value inherent in ginned-up controversy. And right now, anger and insanity sells with Beck's white, conservative, Christian audiences.

the texas curriculum massacre

Don't mess with Texas commercial.

Newsweek | Given the redness of my home state of Texas at the moment—more crimson than rosé—you'd be forgiven for dismissing the recent headline-making flap over revisions to our high-school social-studies curriculum as pure politics. A near majority of the duly elected 15 members of the State Board of Education (SBOE) is locked in a hyperconservative embrace, aligned as a bloc to promote a social-issues-centric view of the world. Other contemporary controversies involving the SBOE have centered on neutering the sex-education component of the science curriculum, taking anything even vaguely PG-rated out of health textbooks (say, a line drawing of a woman's bare breast in a section on self-exam), and questioning the appropriateness of teaching the "theory" of evolution without also teaching creationism. But if those fights were largely relegated to the undercard, the social-studies controversy is a top-draw heavyweight brawl, with the jeering eyes of the nation upon us.

Every 10 years, the SBOE reexamines what the 4.7 million students in public high schools are taught on a variety of subjects. (As opposed to how it's done in other states, this process is conducted outside the purview of the commissioner of education or the state education agency.) After appointing and then hearing from panels of expert "reviewers," the board considers and votes on a variety of curriculum changes: add this, tweak that, outright eliminate something else.
Click here to find out more!

This time around, the vote is in May, but trouble's been brewing since January, when it became clear that the list of historical figures deemed worthy of inclusion in civics textbooks was up for discussion: at various points, Thurgood Marshall and Cesar Chavez were among those on the chopping block, while the inventor of the yo-yo (I'm not making this up) was cheerfully inserted and the laundering of Joseph McCarthy's reputation was contemplated. Aesop's fables were found wanting, as was a discussion of the separation of church and state. There was also a problem of race and ethnicity—or lack thereof. Board members not allied with the conservative bloc complained that the non-Anglo history of the state was getting increasingly short shrift—despite the demographic makeup of the Alamo battlefield, or the fact that Texas will soon be majority Hispanic.

All over the country, educators and progressives recoiled, believing that the befouled byproducts of this process would force changes to their own curricula, given the Lone Star State's massive footprint as a consumer of textbooks. Although the executive director of the Association of American Publishers has called the pervasive influence of Texas "an urban myth," the damage was done—as goes Texas, it was feared, so goes the country.

It's certainly true that some of this owes to conservative ideology asserting itself in a conservative state that Barack Obama lost in 2008 and would lose even more resoundingly today. But there's something else at work—and a clue to it can be found in another revision pushed by one of the most vocal participants in the process. Bill Ames, a conservative gadfly appointed by former board chair and creationism proponent Don McLeroy, attempted to rally everyone round the flag of American exceptionalism—which he described as the belief that America is "not only unique but superior," and that its citizens are "divinely ordained to lead the world to betterment."

May I suggest that a state-level version of this philosophy is behind the SBOE contretemps—and that it's part of a larger argument playing out all across Texas? Remember (would we ever let you forget?) that this is a state that was once a nation. It's a "whole other country," as the tourism slogan boasts, and a wicked independent streak remains a defining—perhaps the defining —feature of our character. Texas and Texans have never cottoned to answering to outsiders. We don't like being told what to do. And we don't like it when our ability to chart our own course, to control our own destinies or the way we live our lives, is in any way hampered.

Consider how else Texas politics and public policy have made national headlines lately and it all seems of a piece. A year ago, on April 15, Gov. Rick Perry was filmed at a tea-party rally playing footsie with those who believe secession is a cure-all for perceived intrusiveness by the federal government. More recently, both Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott invoked the 10th Amendment to the Constitution in discussing the state's options in response to health-care reform, and Abbott committed to joining with attorneys general from around the country in a lawsuit against the federal government. During the GOP primary, gubernatorial candidate and tea-party darling Debra Medina talked openly of the state's right to negate any law passed by the feds that it believes to be unconstitutional. Around the same time, Perry made a prideful show of rejecting the chance to apply for the U.S. Department of Education's Race to the Top grants, asserting that even a single string attached to federal funds was too many.

One way to view the attempt to revise the social-studies curriculum, then, is as a bunch of Texas patriots drawing an Alamo-like line in the sand against an invading horde of elites. Don't tell us who is and who isn't an important historical figure. Don't tell us to view history through glasses tinted by political correctness. Don't deny us our God-given right to question the validity of evolution or the separation of church and state. We know better. Don't mess with us. Don't mess with Texas … exceptionalism.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

judeo-christian "tradition" is a made-in-america myth

ICH | This is an age in which news has been superseded by propaganda, and education by brain-washing and indoctrination. From the advertising used to sell poor quality goods, to the classes in schools designed to make children into conditioned robots of the State, the art of persuasion has displaced the simple virtue of truth.

Since the end of the Second World War we have been bombarded from all sides with references to the Western world's "Judeo-Christian religion," and "our Judeo-Christian heritage." We are told by both church leaders and scholars that our society is based on a supposed "Judeo-Christian tradition".

The notion of "Judeo-Christian religion" is an unquestioned -- almost sacrosanct -- part of both secular and church thinking. American Christian leader Prof. Franklin H. Littel, a vocal supporter of the Zionist state, frankly declared that "to be Christian is to be Jewish," and that consequently it was the duty of a Christian to put support for the "land of Israel" above all else. Pat Boon, the North American singer and evangelist, said there are two kinds of Judaism, one Orthodox and the other Christian.

Yet such a decidedly Christian Zionist outlook is to say the least, wildly simplistic and profoundly ahistorical. As the astute Jewish writer, Joshua J. Adler, points out, "The differences between Christianity and Judaism are much more than merely believing in whether the messiah already appeared or is still expected, as some like to say."

The comments of Jewish author Mr. S. Levin may well explain the Christian's need for the Judeo-Christian myth. Writing in the Israeli journal Biblical Polemics, Levin concludes: "'After all, we worship the same God', the Christian always says to the Jew and the Jew never to the Christian. The Jew knows that he does not worship the Christ-God but the Christian orphan needs to worship the God of Israel and so, his standard gambit rolls easily and thoughtlessly from his lips. It is a strictly unilateral affirmation, limited to making a claim on the God of Israel but never invoked with reference to other gods. A Christian never confronts a Moslem or a Hindu with 'After all, we worship the same God'."

Back in 1992 both Newsweek magazine and the Israeli Jerusalem Post newspaper simultaneously printed extensive articles scrutinising the roots of the sacrosanct Judeo-Christian honeymoon!

The statement heading the Newsweek article read: "Politicians appeal to a Judeo-Christian tradition, but religious scholars say it no longer exists." The Jerusalem Post article's pull quote announced: "Antisemitism is a direct result of the Church's teachings, which Christians perhaps need to re-examine."

"For scholars of American religion," Newsweek states, "the idea of a single Judeo-Christian tradition is a made-in-America myth that many of them no longer regard as valid." It quotes eminent Talmudic scholar Jacob Neusner: "Theologically and historically, there is no such thing as the Judeo-Christian tradition. It's a secular myth favoured by people who are not really believers themselves."

Newsweek cites authorities who indicate that "the idea of a common Judeo-Christian tradition first surfaced at the end of the 19th century but did not gain popular support until the 1940s, as part of an American reaction to Nazism . . ," and concludes that, "Since then, both Jewish and Christian scholars have come to recognize that -- geopolitics apart -- Judaism and Christianity are different, even rival religions."

The Jerusalem Post accused the Christian Church of being responsible for the Holocaust. The French Jewish scholar Jules Isaac was quoted as saying: "Without centuries of Christian catechism, preaching, and vituperation, the Hitlerian teachings, propaganda and vituperation would not have been possible."

"The problem," concludes the Jerusalem Post, "is not, as some assert, that certain Christian leaders deviated from Christian teachings and behaved in an un-Christian manner; it is the teachings themselves that are bent."

Joshua Jehouda, a prominent French Jewish leader, observed in the late 1950s: "The current expression 'Judaeo-Christian' is an error which has altered the course of universal history by the confusion it has sown in men's minds, if by it one is meant to understand the Jewish origin of Christianity . . . If the term 'Judaeo-Christian' does point to a common origin, there is no doubt that it is a most dangerous idea. It is based on a 'contradictio in abjecto' which has set the path of history on the wrong track. It links in one breath two ideas which are completely irreconcileable, it seeks to demonstrate that there is no difference between day and night or hot and cold or black and white, and thus introduces a fatal element of confusion to a basis on which some, nevertheless, are endeavouring to construct a civilisation." (l'Antisemitisme Miroir du Monde pp. 135-6).

Friday, April 16, 2010

richard dawkins - the pope should stand trial

Guardian | Sexual abuse of children is not unique to the Roman Catholic church, and Joseph Ratzinger is not one of those priests who raped altar boys while in a position of dominance and trust. But as so often it is the subsequent cover-ups, even more than the original crimes, that do most to discredit an institution, and here the pope is in real trouble.

Pope Benedict XVI is the head of the institution as a whole, but we can't blame the present head for what was done before his watch. Except that in his particular case, as archbishop of Munich and as Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (what used to be called the Inquisition), the very least you can say is that there is a case for him to answer. See, for example, three articles by my colleague Christopher Hitchens here, here, and here. The latest smoking gun is the 1985 letter obtained by the Associated Press, signed by the then Cardinal Ratzinger to the diocese of Oakland about the case of Father Stephen Kiesle, mercilessly analysed by Andrew Sullivan here.

Lashing out in desperation, church spokesmen are now blaming everybody but themselves for their current dire plight, which one official spokesman likens to the worst aspects of antisemitism (what are the best ones, I wonder?). Suggested culprits include the media, the Jews, and even Satan. The church is hiding behind a seemingly endless stream of excuses for having failed in its legal and moral obligation to report serious crimes to the appropriate civil authorities. But it was Cardinal Ratzinger's official responsibility to determine the church's response to allegations of child sex abuse, and his letter in the Kiesle case makes the real motivation devastatingly explicit. Here are his actual words, translated from the Latin in the AP report:

"This court, although it regards the arguments presented in favour of removal in this case to be of grave significance, nevertheless deems it necessary to consider the good of the universal church together with that of the petitioner, and it is also unable to make light of the detriment that granting the dispensation can provoke with the community of Christ's faithful, particularly regarding the young age of the petitioner."

"The young age of the petitioner" refers to Kiesle, then aged 38, not the age of any of the boys he tied up and raped (11 and 13). It is completely clear that, together with a nod to the welfare of the "young" priest, Ratzinger's primary concern, and the reason he refused to unfrock Kiesle (who went on to re-offend) was "the good of the universal church".

This pattern of putting church PR over and above the welfare of the children in its care (and what an understatement that is) is repeated over and over again in the cover-ups that are now coming to light, all over the world. And Ratzinger himself expressed it with damning clarity in this smoking gun letter.

conformist dictatorship behind aggression toward the church...,

WaPo | Pope Benedict said on Thursday the sexual abuse scandal shaking Roman Catholicism showed the Church needed to do penance for its sins, in a rare public reference by the pope to pedophilia in the priesthood.

"Now, under attack from the world which talks to us of our sins, we can see that being able to do penance is a grace and we see how necessary it is to do penance and thus recognize what is wrong in our lives," the said pope at a mass in the Vatican.

This involved "opening oneself up to forgiveness, preparing oneself for forgiveness, allowing oneself to be transformed," said the pope, whose last public utterance on the scandal was his letter to the Irish people, made public on March 20.

Benedict's focus on penance contrasts to senior churchmen's recent emphasis on defending the Church and the pope from what they portray as an campaign orchestrated by hostile news media.

The pope's personal preacher went as far as to compare the abuse scandal to anti-Semitism, drawing sharp criticism from some Jews and from victims of abuse by priests.

Pope Benedict also hit back at critics of the Church, portraying them as in the thrall of a conformist "dictatorship."

"Conformism which makes it obligatory to think and act like everyone else, and the subtle -- or not so subtle -- aggression toward the Church demonstrate how this conformism can really be a true dictatorship," said the pope.

condemnation builds over vatican prelates gay slur

AFP | Condemnation from gay groups and the French government forced the Vatican into damage control Wednesday over remarks by the pope's right-hand man linking paedophilia to homosexuality.

The Vatican issued what spokesman Federico Lombardi called a "clarification" of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone's assertion Monday that homosexuality -- not celibacy -- is the "problem" that causes Catholic priests to molest children.

In the highly unusual statement, the Vatican said Roman Catholic Church officials were not "competent" to speak on psychological issues concerning general society.

Lombardi told AFP the statement was aimed at "clarifying" Bertone's remarks and should not be seen as the Holy See "distancing" itself from them.

Bertone's comment that "many" psychologists and psychiatrists had demonstrated a link between paedophilia and homosexuality, but not the vow of celibacy, drew official ire from France on Wednesday.

"This is an unacceptable linkage and we condemn this," said foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero, joining a chorus of criticism from gay rights groups and editorial writers.

An Italian group Tuesday led gay fury over the remarks, which came as the Church battles paedophile priest scandals in Europe and the United States and allegations that the hierarchy has helped to cover up for abusers.

"The truth is that Bertone is clumsily trying to shift attention to homosexuality and away from the focus on new crimes against children that emerge every day," said Aurelio Mancuso, former president of gay rights association Arcigay.

"This faux pas by the Vatican demonstrates one thing only: great desperation and great impotence," a Spanish gay rights group, COLEGAS, added Wednesday.

A Catholic gay association in Portugal, Novos Rumos, said remarks such as Bertone's "deepen the gulf between the Church as a community of believers and a certain hierarchy".

Wednesday's Vatican statement added more fuel to the fire with a reference to Church statistics defining paedophilia in the "strict sense" as applying to pre-adolescent children.

"That's a ridiculous and unfounded hair-splitting distinction that many American bishops initially tried as well," said David Clohessy, executive director of the US pressure group SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests).

"It's grossly inaccurate, totally insensitive and frankly totally wrong," Clohessy told AFP.

According to the Church statistics, made public last month, 10 percent of some 3,000 cases reported to Vatican authorities in the past decade concerned paedophilia in the "strict sense" and the other 90 percent concerned sex between priests and adolescents.

Sixty percent of the cases involved adolescent boys and 30 percent concerned adolescent girls.

Vatican expert Bruno Bartoloni said Church officials were "piling up the gaffes without realising their impact".

Lombardi and other Vatican officials have suggested that the Church is unfairly singled out for paedophilia, noting that it is a widespread social phenomenon.

"All objective and informed people know that the issue is much wider, and to focus accusations only on the Church leads to a skewed perspective," Lombardi said last month.

But Clohessy said: "If eight percent of plumbers molest and seven percent of priests molest, it's still a horrific crisis.

"And plumbers who molest don't have a powerful worldwide monarchy behind them to help them get away with their crime."

He added: "There are many priests who have been caught molesting 75, 100, 150 kids. Find me the schoolteacher or scout leader who have been caught doing that. You can't, because in other institutions, predators get caught and are ousted more quickly than they are in the Church."

africa also suffers sex abuse by priests

VoiceofAmerica | A leading African Catholic archbishop says sexual abuse by Catholic clergy is a problem in Africa as well as in Western countries.

Archbishop of Johannesburg Buti Tlhagale said the church in Africa is inflicted with the same scourge as the churches in Ireland, Germany and America. He said the misbehavior of priests in Africa simply has not been exposed to the same glare of the media.

Tlhagale, the president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, made his comments in his Easter holiday message published this week.

Africa is one of the fastest growing regions for the Catholic church, wJustify Fullhich is losing members in the Western world. Many congregants are leaving in protest over growing sex abuse scandals by the Catholic clergy.

Some media reports have accused Pope Benedict of failing to stop priests accused of pedophilia while he was the archbishop in his native Germany and a cardinal in the Vatican.

Tlhagale said the image of the Catholic church is virtually in ruins because of the bad behavior of its priests, whom he called "wolves wearing sheepskin."

u.s. bishops scrutinizing foreign born priests...,

WaPo | For the first time, American Catholic bishops have begun tracking complaints of sexual abuse against foreign-trained priests working in this country, raising questions about the screening process in place in U.S. dioceses.

In the U.S. bishops' most recent annual survey, church officials reported that of the 21 clergy sex abuse complaints made in 2009 by minors, nine involved priests sent by overseas dioceses. The information comes when the U.S. church is importing hundreds of priests and has been under intense scrutiny for its handling of sex abuse cases, including the movement of abusers from one country to another.

Though it's only one year of data and does not include details about any of the cases, the number of accusations involving foreign-trained priests has prompted debate within the church and among advocates for victims.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

piping hot fresh "tea"....,

Video - Fox and Friends see Muslim star and crescent in Nuclear Summit logo.

why this "tea" so salty and tangy?

WaPo | The debate ratcheted up this week as two prominent black conservatives, Thomas Sowell and Ward Connerly, decried accusations of tea party racism. Connerly defended the movement and wrote in a National Review column that "race is the engine that drives the political Left."

"In the courtrooms, on college campuses, and, most especially, in our politics, race is a central theme. Where it does not naturally rise to the surface, there are those who will manufacture and amplify it," Connerly said. "Such is the case with the claims that the 'Tea Partiers' are a bunch of racists and that many of them spat upon members of the Congressional Black Caucus. . . . I am convinced beyond any doubt that all of this is part of the strategic plan being implemented by the Left in its current campaign to remake America."

Similarly, Sowell wrote a commentary on the Web site GOPUSA cautioning Americans to "stay away from injecting race into political issues" and doubting news reports and firsthand accounts by members of Congress that tea party protesters directed racial slurs at black legislators as they walked to the Capitol to cast their votes.

"This is a serious charge -- and one deserving of some serious evidence," Sowell said. "But, despite all the media recording devices on the scene, not to mention recording devices among the crowd gathered there, nobody can come up with a single recorded sound to back up that incendiary charge. Worse yet, some people have claimed that even doubting the charge suggests that you are a racist."

Yet Lenny McAllister, a Republican commentator and author, said he has seen racism within the tea party and has confronted it -- approaching people with racially derogatory signs of President Obama and asking them to take the signs down. Like Brice, he said leaders of the movement must not ignore the issue.

"I feel like the tea party movement is at its core a good thing for America. It is a group of citizens that have not been previously involved," McAllister said. "The people are speaking up and becoming more educated on the issues, but you have fringe elements that are defining this good thing with their negative, hateful behavior."

McAllister, who has spoken at several tea party gatherings, said the movement is more diverse than news clips show. "There is this perception that these are all old, white racists and that's not the case," he said.

According to a USA Today/Gallup Poll taken last month, about 79 percent of tea party members are white and 6 percent are black, with 15 percent falling into other racial categories.

Debate about race and the tea party has also been intense among black conservatives online. Comments on the blog Booker Rising, a popular forum for blacks who follow the tenets of Booker T. Washington's conservatism, and the site Hip Hop Republican have been across the board.

Jean Howard-Hill, a moderate Republican who leads the National Republican African American Caucus, wrote that she is "not sure what's in the cup of tea."

"Any movement which cannot openly denounce racism, calling it out as wrong troubles me," she wrote. "To attack President Obama on his policy is one thing, but to do so on his race or some hysterical pretext of socialism is yet another." Fist tap BTx3.

talibaggers, who they are and what they believe..,

CBSNews | They're white. They're older. And they're angry.

CBS News and the New York Times surveyed 1,580 adults, including 881 self-identified Tea Party supporters, to get a snapshot of the Tea Party movement. There is a lot of information to unpack; let's begin with the demographics.

Eighteen percent of Americans identify as Tea Party supporters. The vast majority of them -- 89 percent -- are white. Just one percent is black.

They tend to skew older: Three in four are 45 years old or older, including 29 percent who are 65 plus. They are also more likely to be men (59 percent) than women (41 percent).

More than one in three (36 percent) hails from the South, far more than any other region. Twenty-five percent come from the West, 22 percent from the Midwest, and 18 percent from the northeast.

Eighty-eight percent disapprove of President Obama's performance on the job, compared to 40 percent of Americans overall. While half of Americans approve of Mr. Obama's job performance, just seven percent of Tea Party supporters say he is doing a good job.

Asked to volunteer what they don't like about Mr. Obama, the top answer, offered by 19 percent of Tea Party supporters, was that they just don't like him. Eleven percent said he is turning the country more toward socialism, ten percent cited his health care reform efforts, and nine percent said he is dishonest.

Seventy-seven percent describe Mr. Obama as "very liberal," compared to 31 percent of Americans overall. Fifty-six percent say the president's policies favor the poor, compared to 27 percent of Americans overall.

Sixty-four percent believe that the president has increased taxes for most Americans, despite the fact that the vast majority of Americans got a tax cut under the Obama administration. Thirty-four percent of the general public says the president has raised taxes on most Americans.

teabonic anger rooted in issues of "class"

NYTimes | Their fierce animosity toward Washington, and the president in particular, is rooted in deep pessimism about the direction of the country and the conviction that the policies of the Obama administration are disproportionately directed at helping the poor rather than the middle class or the rich.

The overwhelming majority of Tea Party supporters say Mr. Obama does not share the values most Americans live by, and that he does not understand the problems of people like themselves. More than half say the policies of the administration favor the poor, and 25 percent, compared with 11 percent of the general public, think that the administration favors blacks over whites. They are more likely than the general public, and Republicans, to say that too much has been made of the problems facing black people.

Asked what they are angry about, Tea Party supporters offered three main concerns: the recent health care overhaul, government spending, and a feeling that their opinions are not represented in Washington.

“The only way they will stop the spending is to have a revolt on their hands,” Elwin Thrasher, a 66-year-old semi-retired lawyer in Florida, said in an interview following the poll. “I’m sick and tired of them wasting money and doing what our founders never intended to be done with the federal government.”

They are far more pessimistic than Americans in general about the economy improving. More than 90 percent of Tea Party supporters think the country is headed in the wrong direction, compared with about 60 percent of the general public. About 6 in 10 say America’s best days are behind us when it comes to the availability of good jobs for American workers.

Nearly 9 in 10 disapprove of the job Mr. Obama is doing overall, and about the same percentage fault his handling on the specifics, too: health care, the economy, and the federal budget deficit. More than 8 in 10 hold an unfavorable view of him personally, and 92 percent believe he is moving the country toward socialism – an opinion shared by about half the general public. Tea Party supporters are also more likely than most Americans to believe, mistakenly, that the president has increased taxes for most Americans.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

this about babylon, not babble-on....,

LATimes | California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown said Tuesday that he was launching an expanded investigation into the finances and actions of a Cal State Stanislaus foundation that has invited former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to give a speech, after allegations that it may have illegally discarded documents related to the event.

Brown already was investigating whether the Cal State Stanislaus Foundation violated the California Public Records Act when it refused the request of state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) to hand over documents related to Palin's speaking fee and other aspects of her scheduled June 25 appearance.

The broader investigation will look into whether funds raised by the foundation -- which has assets of more than $20 million, according to Brown -- are being used for educational purposes.

Brown said his office also will examine documents, apparently part of a contract with Palin, that several Cal State Stanislaus students say they discovered late last week in a campus trash bin. Brown said he wanted to determine if the documents were authentic and how they ended up in a bin next to an administrative building.

None of the documents, which carried the letterhead of a company that represents Palin in her speaking engagements, refer directly to the former governor or say how much she is being paid. Brown said the fee could be as high as $100,000 based on her fee for an appearance in Nashville.

The contract specifies "round-trip, first-class commercial air travel for two between Anchorage, Alaska, and event city," accommodations, including a one-bedroom suite and two single rooms in a deluxe hotel, and plenty of bottled water and "bendable straws."

Brown's office has recently sought records of several other university foundations after allegations of financial improprieties.

"This is not about Sarah Palin," the attorney general said in a statement Tuesday. "She has every right to speak at a university event, and schools should strive to bring to campus a broad range of speakers. The issues are public disclosure and financial accountability in organizations embedded in state-run universities."

Palin could not be reached for comment. Officials with the Cal State campus and the Cal State Stanislaus foundation denied any wrongdoing.

msnbc fun with talibaggers..,

babble-on better lower her skirt...,

latimes | Palin speech at Cal State campus draws attention to foundations linked to universities. State Sen. Leland Yee is asking Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown to investigate Cal State Stanislaus for failing to provide documents relating to Palin's fundraising appearance at a school gala.

An invitation to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to speak at Cal State Stanislaus' 50th anniversary gala is generating controversy and raising questions about the foundation that is paying her. The nonprofit is refusing to divulge her speaking fees.

The foundation's secrecy has raised scrutiny over the financial dealings and clout of that group and scores of others like it that are associated with California's public universities. The foundations raise billions of dollars for scholarships and other programs, run student organizations and bookstores and perform other crucial campus functions. But they are set up as private entities and are not subject to state law that requires public agencies, including schools, to disclose information about how money is raised and spent.

Among recent incidents drawing attention: A Sonoma State foundation made a $1.25-million loan to one of its former board members, who then defaulted on the loan. A nonprofit at Cal State Sacramento is being audited by the attorney general for loans made to the university president. Foundations at San Francisco City College, Cal State Fresno and the San Jose/Evergreen Community College District have also been embroiled in controversy over financial decisions, according to state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), who is looking into the activities.

Concern about the foundations comes amid broader questions about how public universities spend taxpayers' dollars. This includes recent disclosures about the use of funds meant for classrooms and students to cover real estate and construction costs and other business pursuits.

The California Faculty Assn. and the California Newspaper Publishers Assn., among others, are pressing for more transparency from the foundations and other auxiliary groups. They are supporting legislation, SB 330 by Yee, that would require these groups to adhere to California's Public Records Act. Last year, a similar bill, SB 218 by Yee, was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who said some of its provisions would have a "chilling effect" on the support of donors and volunteers if their names were disclosed.

don't hate, we all gettin paid...,

Tampabay | Junior Florida Republican Party staffer had $1.3 million charged to party credit card. She was a 25-year-old junior staffer when the Florida Republican Party gave her an American Express card.

Over the next 2½ years, nearly $1.3 million in charges wound up on Melanie Phister's AmEx — $40,000 at a London hotel, and nearly $20,000 in plane tickets for indicted former House Speaker Ray Sansom, his wife and kids, for starters. Statements show thousands spent on jewelry, sporting goods and in one case $15,000 for what's listed as a month-long stay at a posh Miami Beach hotel, but which the party says was a forfeited deposit.

The credit card records, obtained by the St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald, offer the latest behind-the-scenes look at extravagant and free-wheeling spending by the party touting fiscal restraint. Not only did certain elite legislative leaders have their own party credit cards to spend donors' money with little oversight, but Phister's records show these leaders also liberally used an underling's card — without her knowledge, she says.

"I did not have the sole discretion to initiate credit card spending," Phister said in an e-mail statement. "Over that period of time, there were multiple instances when the card was used to make purchases that I had no knowledge of, and I did not regularly review the monthly credit card statements which I understand were sent directly to the Party's accounting office."

Even after a series of embarrassing revelations over profligate credit card spending by the likes of Republican U.S. Senate frontrunner Marco Rubio, Sansom and incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon — and pending state and federal investigations of party finances — revelations of the huge charges on Phister's card had veteran GOP fundraisers apoplectic.

"Oh my God. I can't believe it,'' said Al Hoffman, a top fundraiser from Fort Myers, when told of the $1.258 million on Phister's card. "See, that's it. They have an underling do it all. There's no reason a young assistant should be ringing up charges like that."

Phister served as finance director for state House campaigns for 2½ years starting in mid 2006.

She was a Republican Party employee who mainly answered to Sansom, R-Destin, speaker-designate at the time and overseeing House campaign operations. The job involved planning fundraising events and often accompanying Sansom and other legislative leaders on fundraising and other political trips.

Sansom was indicted by a grand jury last year for inserting $6 million into the state budget for an airport building that a friend and GOP contributor, Jay Odom, wanted to use as an airplane hangar. That criminal investigation revealed that Sansom charged more than $170,000 on his party-issued credit card — everything from plane tickets for his family to clothes to electronics.

Turns out Sansom spent heavily on Phister's card as well.

Video - Palin supports her "get rich or die tryin" homie Michael Steele.

get rich or die tryin...,

ABC | Pundits can debate the political costs and benefits of Sarah Palin's decision to step down as Alaska governor, but the monetary advantages of leaving her $125,000-a-year public service post are beyond dispute.

Since leaving office at the end of July 2009, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee has brought in at least 100 times her old salary – a haul now estimated at more than $12 million -- through television and book deals and a heavy schedule of speaking appearances worth five and six figures.

That conservative estimate is based on publicly available records and news accounts. The actual number is probably much higher, but is hard to quantify because Palin does not publicize her earnings. She reputedly got a $7 million deal for her first book, with the bulk of that money due after her resignation as governor, and will earn $250,000 per episode, according to the web site The Daily Beast, for each of eight episodes of a reality show about Alaska for the The Learning Channel. She has managed to keep a lid on reliable figures for her earnings from a multi-year contract with Fox News and a second book deal with HarperCollins.

Video - rockstar fashion and hella bling on babble-on....,

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


WaPo | WITHIN DAYS of taking office, President Obama authorized the deployment of unmanned drones to strike terrorism suspects in remote areas of Pakistan. Although first employed during the Bush years, drone attacks have been used increasingly during the Obama administration. They have, in short, become a centerpiece of national security policy.

They have also triggered fierce criticism by some who equate them with illegal assassinations or "unlawful extrajudicial killing." The administration until recently had not responded, but on March 25, State Department legal adviser Harold Koh offered a welcome and robust defense. In a lengthy speech before the American Society of International Law, Mr. Koh, an unflinching critic of Bush administration anti-terrorism tactics during his years in academia, cited domestic and international law as foundations for the program. The United States is engaged in an "armed conflict" with al-Qaeda and its affiliates, Mr. Koh asserted, and "individuals who are part of such an armed group are belligerents and, therefore, lawful targets under international law."

He rightly rejected the absurd notion that enemy targets must be provided "adequate process" before the strike occurs. "A state that is engaged in an armed conflict or in legitimate self-defense is not required to provide targets with legal process before the state may use lethal force," he concluded.

Mr. Koh's reaffirmation of the right to self-defense -- even outside the confines of an existing armed conflict -- is particularly important. The Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) after Sept. 11, 2001, empowered the president to pursue those responsible for the attacks, including al-Qaeda and the Taliban. That authority may wane with time. But the right of self-defense is inherent and may be exercised against current and future enemies that pose an imminent threat, including those operating outside of traditional combat zones.

Such actions must be undertaken with caution. Mr. Koh asserted that the administration has taken "great care" to ensure that drone strikes are carefully and lawfully executed. "The imminence of the threat, the sovereignty of the other states involved, and the willingness and ability of those states to suppress the threat" are taken into account before striking, he said.

The president personally signs off on targets, and relevant lawmakers are periodically briefed on the program. That accountability is one more reason the drone strikes cannot be described as lawless.

even a broken clock...,

Video - Ron Paul on Obama at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.

where there's smoke, there's new jim crow...,

WaPo | AS A CANDIDATE last fall, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell earned praise and reinforced his carefully nurtured image as a moderate by pledging to streamline the cumbersome process by which nonviolent former felons may regain their voting rights after completing their sentences. He insisted then, as he did as a lawmaker a decade ago, that ex-offenders who want their voting rights restored should not have to wait six months to a year for their applications to be reviewed, especially since they are not eligible to apply until three years after fulfilling their sentence.

We take the governor at his word. But his initial attempts to expedite the process have come with a fat asterisk that casts doubt on any claim to fairness and decency, let alone moderation: Mr. McDonnell is also requiring ex-offenders -- who have already paid their debt to society -- to pass what looks like a character test before they can cast a vote.

In 48 other states and the District of Columbia, voting rights for most felons are restored automatically once their sentence is fulfilled. Only Virginia and Kentucky insist that some sanctions last indefinitely -- until the state, in its infinite wisdom, grants what the U.S. Constitution regards as the inalienable right to vote. In the Old Dominion, the result is that huge numbers of people are disenfranchised. Although the powers that be in Richmond regard former felons with such contempt that they don't even bother counting them, voting rights advocates estimate that some 300,000 ex-cons in Virginia remain barred from voting. African Americans account for just a fifth of Virginia's 7.8 million citizens but are thought to constitute about half of those ineligible to vote. This is Jim Crow by another name.

Video Michelle Alexander The New Jim Crow

southern discomfort

NYTimes | Last week, Virginia’s governor, Robert McDonnell, jumped backward when he issued a proclamation recognizing April as Confederate History Month. In it he celebrated those “who fought for their homes and communities and Commonwealth” and wrote of the importance of understanding “the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War.”

The governor originally chose not to mention slavery in the proclamation, saying he “focused on the ones I thought were most significant for Virginia.” It seems to follow that, at least for Mr. McDonnell, the plight of Virginia’s slaves does not rank among the most significant aspects of the war.

Advertently or not, Mr. McDonnell is working in a long and dispiriting tradition. Efforts to rehabilitate the Southern rebellion frequently come at moments of racial and social stress, and it is revealing that Virginia’s neo-Confederates are refighting the Civil War in 2010. Whitewashing the war is one way for the right — alienated, anxious and angry about the president, health care reform and all manner of threats, mostly imaginary — to express its unease with the Age of Obama, disguising hate as heritage.

If neo-Confederates are interested in history, let’s talk history. Since Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Confederate symbols have tended to be more about white resistance to black advances than about commemoration. In the 1880s and 1890s, after fighting Reconstruction with terrorism and after the Supreme Court struck down the 1875 Civil Rights Act, states began to legalize segregation. For white supremacists, iconography of the “Lost Cause” was central to their fight; Mississippi even grafted the Confederate battle emblem onto its state flag.

But after the Supreme Court allowed segregation in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, Jim Crow was basically secure. There was less need to rally the troops, and Confederate imagery became associated with the most extreme of the extreme: the Ku Klux Klan.

In the aftermath of World War II, however, the rebel flag and other Confederate symbolism resurfaced as the civil rights movement spread. In 1948, supporters of Strom Thurmond’s pro-segregation Dixiecrat ticket waved the battle flag at campaign stops.

Then came the school-integration rulings of the 1950s. Georgia changed its flag to include the battle emblem in 1956, and South Carolina hoisted the colors over its Capitol in 1962 as part of its centennial celebrations of the war.

As the sesquicentennial of Fort Sumter approaches in 2011, the enduring problem for neo-Confederates endures: anyone who seeks an Edenic Southern past in which the war was principally about states’ rights and not slavery is searching in vain, for the Confederacy and slavery are inextricably and forever linked.

Monday, April 12, 2010


NYTimes | As a retired clinical psychologist, Clark Martin was well acquainted with traditional treatments for depression, but his own case seemed untreatable as he struggled through chemotherapy and other grueling regimens for kidney cancer. Counseling seemed futile to him. So did the antidepressant pills he tried.

Nothing had any lasting effect until, at the age of 65, he had his first psychedelic experience. He left his home in Vancouver, Wash., to take part in an experiment at Johns Hopkins medical school involving psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient found in certain mushrooms.

Scientists are taking a new look at hallucinogens, which became taboo among regulators after enthusiasts like Timothy Leary promoted them in the 1960s with the slogan “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” Now, using rigorous protocols and safeguards, scientists have won permission to study once again the drugs’ potential for treating mental problems and illuminating the nature of consciousness.

After taking the hallucinogen, Dr. Martin put on an eye mask and headphones, and lay on a couch listening to classical music as he contemplated the universe.

“All of a sudden, everything familiar started evaporating,” he recalled. “Imagine you fall off a boat out in the open ocean, and you turn around, and the boat is gone. And then the water’s gone. And then you’re gone.”

Today, more than a year later, Dr. Martin credits that six-hour experience with helping him overcome his depression and profoundly transforming his relationships with his daughter and friends. He ranks it among the most meaningful events of his life, which makes him a fairly typical member of a growing club of experimental subjects.

Researchers from around the world are gathering this week in San Jose, Calif., for the largest conference on psychedelic science held in the United States in four decades. They plan to discuss studies of psilocybin and other psychedelics for treating depression in cancer patients, obsessive-compulsive disorder, end-of-life anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction to drugs or alcohol.

The results so far are encouraging but also preliminary, and researchers caution against reading too much into these small-scale studies. They do not want to repeat the mistakes of the 1960s, when some scientists-turned-evangelists exaggerated their understanding of the drugs’ risks and benefits.

simply evil....,

NYTimes | Negating women is at the heart of the church’s hideous — and criminal — indifference to the welfare of boys and girls in its priests’ care. Lisa Miller writes in Newsweek’s cover story about the danger of continuing to marginalize women in a disgraced church that has Mary at the center of its founding story:

“In the Roman Catholic corporation, the senior executives live and work, as they have for a thousand years, eschewing not just marriage, but intimacy with women ... not to mention any chance to familiarize themselves with the earthy, primal messiness of families and children.” No wonder that, having closed themselves off from women and everything maternal, they treated children as collateral damage, a necessary sacrifice to save face for Mother Church.

And the sins of the fathers just keep coming. On Friday, The Associated Press broke the latest story pointing the finger of blame directly at Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, quoting from a letter written in Latin in which he resisted pleas to defrock a California priest who had sexually molested children.

As the longtime Vatican enforcer, the archconservative Ratzinger — now Pope Benedict XVI — moved avidly to persecute dissenters. But with molesters, he was plodding and even merciful.

As the A.P. reported, the Oakland diocese recommended defrocking Father Stephen Kiesle in 1981. The priest had pleaded no contest and was sentenced to three years’ probation in 1978 in a case in which he was accused of tying up and molesting two boys in a church rectory.

In 1982, the Oakland diocese got what it termed a “rather curt” response from the Vatican. It wasn’t until 1985 that “God’s Rottweiler” finally got around to addressing the California bishop’s concern. He sent his letter urging the diocese to give the 38-year-old pedophile “as much paternal care as possible” and to consider “his young age.” Ratzinger should have been more alarmed by the young age of the priest’s victims; that’s what maternal care would have entailed.

As in so many other cases, the primary concern seemed to be shielding the church from scandal. Chillingly, outrageously, the future pope told the Oakland bishop to consider the “good of the universal church” before granting the priest’s own request to give up the collar — even though the bishop had advised Rome that the scandal would likely be greater if the priest were not punished.

While the Vatican sat on the case — asking the diocese to resubmit the files, saying they might have been lost — Kiesle volunteered as a youth minister at a church north of Oakland. The A.P. also reported that even after the priest was finally defrocked in 1987, he continued to volunteer with children in the Oakland diocese; repeated warnings to church officials were ignored.

The Vatican must realize that the church’s belligerent, resentful and paranoid response to the global scandal is not working because it now says it will cooperate with secular justice systems and that the pope will have more meetings with victims. It is too little, too late.

The church that through the ages taught me and other children right from wrong did not know right from wrong when it came to children. Crimes were swept under the rectory rug, and molesters were protected to molest again for the “good of the universal church.” And that is bad, very bad — a mortal sin.

The church has had theological schisms. This is an emotional schism. The pope is morally compromised. Take it from a sister.

vatican has a PR problem? really? PR?!?!?!

WaPo | Facing a torrent of cases in Europe and a new effort by survivors' advocates to highlight unresolved cases around the world, members of the pope's inner circle have said things that have only drawn more criticism, like the priest who on Good Friday compared criticism of the Church's handling of the abuse crisis to violent anti-Semitism.

Most American organizations facing such a barrage of negative news would long ago have pulled together a crisis management team and made top officials available for interviews to explain their point of view. But the Vatican said such an approach is too commercial for the Church to adopt. "We are not a multinational enterprise, this is clear," the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said in a telephone interview. "The normal situation of the Church and the Vatican is to help the people to understand the teachings of the Church and the documents of the pope and not to sell particular products."

On Friday, however, Lombardi released a statement that appeared to be trying to change the conversation. It said the Church wanted to emphasize its cooperation with civil justice systems and a desire for "reconstituting a climate of justice and full faith in the institution of the Church." Benedict, he said, "is ready for new meetings" with victims of clergy sexual abuse.

To those less supportive of Church leaders, there seems another reason why they don't communicate more: They don't want to. The pope and those in the Vatican, these people say, wish to remain in another world, focusing more on traditions and customs, even if that means in some cases keeping sex-abuse allegations private or letting the Church's internal justice system grind away slowly as victims suffer.

But that's not how pope defenders might frame it. "One thing that makes [Vatican critics] bonkers is this idea that everyone's spiritual welfare might be handled better internally," Bunson said. "But the civil system doesn't have to worry about eternal life."

Even as Lombardi framed the problem as coming from an outside world that doesn't understand the Church, he said, "We have a long way to go."

Sunday, April 11, 2010

the driving force

Pink Floyd One of These Days - 2001 A Space Odyssey

The Olduvai hominids ate well and rolled around with their women at night. Certainly these women bore healthy children. At least some of these children learned from their parents to make and use the tools. And these hominids must have shared not only their food but their hunting plans. Those who remembered the plans and performed their jobs as planned probably continued to eat well. Those who planned and shared had children who ate well. The Olduvai probably passed their evolutionary examinations, leaving more children than other, less socially coordinated bands of man-apes.

Modern civilization is an extension of dexterity and animal intelligence which developed in our ape ancestors. The ice imposed socialization of early people was a harsh and unrelenting process. From crafting and sharing natural objects to hunting and donning the furs of cave bears and mountain cats, people have learned to outsmart large, threatening mammals. Much of the cohesiveness of the clan, the running chases of great elephantine beasts across the primeval plain have been preserved in modern cultures. Metamorphosing, these highly successful survival strategies have modern corollaries in team sports and war. In football, the hunt seems reduced to the symbolic act of groups of men chasing an object made of animal hide. The ball is hurled through the air, a symbolic spear making its mark. So too, the tribal activity of war has not diminished but expanded. Our jabbering, gesturing ancestors hunted major species of large mammals to extinction. Today the momentum of big-game hunting has pushed our species to the brink of self-extinction. As William Irwin Thompson writes,
"The technologist can turn upon traditional humanity to say: We are the highest, the most advanced, you are simply the sloughed off remains of an old animal nature For these people the arms race is neither a necessary evil nor a peculiar pathology; it is the driving force of human evolution itself."
Actually, human evolution, like all evolution, had both aspects, sharing and slaughtering, competition and cooperation. Microcosmos - Egocentric Man - Lynn Margulis.

how not to be bored..,

Nothing is more common than the complaint that one's neighbors are uninteresting, boring. Such complaints, however, are unconscious confessions rather than accusations, since the truth is that we are bored or uninterested exactly at the limit of our active intelligence. Boredom begins where our mind leaves off; and to be easily or quickly bored merely means that our intelligence is either small or very idle. All people, without exception are interesting and worthwhile. Not only is there nothing else for us to know than people, the educational purpose of life being just to acquaint us with the mystery of mankind; but every individual is, as it were, an epitome of the whole human book. Who can read and understand everything about one person has the key to the knowledge of the race. Thus one person is as good as another as a subject of interest; and to be bored by anybody is to fail to look for interest in him.

This is not to say that there are not people who, in relation to ourselves, create interest, and others who do not. We can, in fact, divide all the people we know into two classes: those who, without effort on our part, interest and stimulate us, really interesting people, as we say, with whom it is always a pleasure to associate; and those who, in and of themselves, arouse and stimulate no interest and no pleasure at all—the uninteresting and dull people.

But since, as we know very well, the same people are neither interesting to everybody nor uninteresting to everybody, it cannot be the case that they are the one or the other absolutely; they are only interesting or the reverse for us.

Why is this so? ... Is it possible for us to make people interesting who are not naturally so?

Let us realize that in essence we are each of us composed of a collection of chemicals (using chemicals as a word for any particular kind of matter). As between one individual and another, not only is there a difference in the number of component chemicals, but the chemicals are not all the same, nor in the same proportions, nor in the same state of activity. This fact illustrates and explains the extra¬ordinary variety in people; no two are chemically com¬pounded exactly alike. And since we are or can manifest only what our component chemicals allow us to be or to appear, each of us may be said to be defined by the chemicals of which we are composed.

Now we know that certain chemicals are related to others by what we call affinity. They take notice of some but they are indifferent to others. With some they will enter into active relations, exchanging qualities or actually combining; with others they remain inert. It is all the same whether such chemicals are in a laboratory or in a human body; their qualities and action are the same. And thus it follows that what we call our interest in people, or their interest in us, arises from or is conditioned by, the presence in us and in them of actively related chemicals. All our relations with people, friendly, indifferent or hostile, are, at bottom, determined by the relations of the chemicals of which we and they are composed. Never-the¬less there is a difference, and a very important one between a laboratory containing chemicals and a human being containing the same chemicals. In the latter laboratory, there is a chemist. The chemicals in two neighboring laboratories will mix and combine according to their qualities; they will act and react on each other naturally.

But if there be a chemist in one of them, or, better still, a chemist in each of them, and if the chemists in both are thoroughly conversant with the laws of chemistry—then, in place of the combinations due simply to nature and circumstances, we should have a series of combinations, due to science and art—combinations improbable or impossible in ordinary circumstances.

Returning to human relations, the analogy should be clear. So long as a man simply follows his interests, that is to say, finds people interesting or boring and acts accordingly, seeking the company of the first and avoiding the company of the second, so long is he just a laboratory without a chemist. He does nothing. He simply allows his chemicals to manifest their native qualities of affinity, indifference or hostility, without attempting by science or art, to rearrange them to enable them to enter into more and more varied relation with the chemicals in his neighbor's laboratories. He is, as we say, a creature of circumstance; and it is all a matter of chance whether he finds people dull or stimulating or is himself, to other people, one or the other.

To put a chemist into our laboratory and to train him to work scientifically, is the chief object of psychology. We wish to be masters of ourselves, and to have control over all the elements of which we are made. We wish to be able to enjoy all our resources, and to combine them with elements outside ourselves and in other people exactly as we please. Each of us really desires this power over himself; it is the essential aim and function of Man. But what is this but precisely to put a chemist into our natural laboratory and to set him to work?

As it is, and simply following the line of least resistance, we are not chemists with laboratories, but laboratories without chemists, or, let us say, laboratories in which the chemists are asleep. We must wake up the chemist in ourselves.

The means are comparatively simple. First, we must give our idle chemist a motive or reason for bestirring himself. And, second, we must tell him how to begin to work.

There are abundant reasons, and among them these: We are always at the mercy of people and circumstances so long as we depend on people and circumstances to interest us of themselves; we shall never know ourselves and others more than accidently and imperfectly so long as we remain simply laboratories; we shall live and die passive and mechanical agents of processes we do not understand so long as we do not try to make combinations which are just not easy and natural. If we continue to act simply according to our natural affinities, our likes and dislikes, we shall be no more than mineral or vegetable or animal men; we shall never be human men.

How to begin. Make every encounter with people a laboratory experiment in psychology. Say to yourself in the presence of another person or persons: 'Here is a wonderful collection of chemicals of which I know only a tiny number. I wish to know and understand them all. That is my work as a human being.' In this attitude of active curiosity, it is impossible to be 'bored' by anybody in any circumstances. Your interest in people, circumstances and the like, is in yourself as a constant and increasing energy. You live ever more abundantly.

Something of this kind of alchemistry must have been implied in the promise made to the Christian disciples: 'I have come that ye might have life, and have it more abundantly.'

Page 23-27 How Not to Be Bored from The Active Mind by A.R. Orage

Saturday, April 10, 2010

visible to the naked eye...,

Wired | By using a quantum device to control a mechanical object, researchers have linked the mind-bending laws of quantum physics to the tangible, everyday world.

Until now, quantum physical behaviors were observed at atomic and subatomic scales, or in medium-sized molecules. Now they’ve been found in something that bumps and grinds, visible with nothing fancier than a high school lab-issue microscope.

“At the macroscopic scale we live in, we don’t see quantum effects at all,” said Andrew Cleland, a University of California, Santa Barbara, physicist. “The goal of the experiment was to see if we could see quantum mechanical effects in a large, mechanical object.”

The mechanical object used in the experiment, published March 17 in Nature and led by Cleland and fellow UCSB physicists John Martinis and Aaron O’Connell, is a 0.0002 millimeter-square wafer of quartzlike material bracketed by metal plates. The wafer is a piezoelectric resonator, expanding and contracting in response to electrical voltages at a precise, extremely high frequency. Cleland likened its expansion and contraction to the inflation and deflation of a balloon.

The quantum device is a qubit, a term that generically refers to a kind of quantum transistor being used for quantum computation, in this case made from an ultrathin aluminum-based superconductor. At extremely cold temperatures, it goes quantum: It exists in an oscillating waveform spanning an excited state, an unexcited state, or both simultaneously, all controlled by electrical currents.

With their experiment, the researchers have not only fulfilled a two decade-old dream of controlling quantum motion in micrometer-sized system, but “opened the door for quantum control of truly macroscopic mechanical devices,” wrote Aspelmeyer.

To do so, Cleland’s team wired a qubit to a resonator, then cooled them to a fraction of a degree above absolute zero, the point at which all atomic motion nearly stops. At this temperature, the vibrations of the atoms in the qubit and resonator are small enough to prevent them from interfering with quantum measurements.

When the researchers sent a pulse of energy into the qubit, the resulting energy quantum was transferred to the resonator, which fluctuated accordingly. With extraordinarily acute vision, “you’d see it expanding and contracting. You’d see it vibrating. These are quantum vibrations,” said Cleland.

In a study published in September in Nature, Cleland’s team coupled two qubits in what’s known as quantum entanglement, in which the oscillations of one were linked to the oscillations of the other, even when physically distant. That feat drew attention for demonstrating quantum properties in a large, visible system, but the properties themselves still belonged to electrons, in which quantum effects are routinely observed and controlled.

In a sense, it was the same old quantum physics. The latest results occur in a new world, one that quantum physicists have tried to enter for nearly two decades. In a commentary accompanying the paper, University of Vienna physicist Markus Aspelmeyer described the reaction of an audience of physicists to whom Cleland described the experiment’s design. “Dead silence — and then roaring applause,” he recalled.