Thursday, March 10, 2016

deepmind stays winning...,


NYTimes |  Computer, one. Human, zero.

A Google computer program stunned one of the world’s top players on Wednesday in a round of Go, which is believed to be the most complex board game ever created.

The match — between Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo and the South Korean Go master Lee Se-dol — was viewed as an important test of how far research into artificial intelligence has come in its quest to create machines smarter than humans.

“I am very surprised because I have never thought I would lose,” Mr. Lee said at a news conference in Seoul. “I didn’t know that AlphaGo would play such a perfect Go.”

Mr. Lee acknowledged defeat after three and a half hours of play.

Demis Hassabis, the founder and chief executive of Google’s artificial intelligence team DeepMind, the creator of AlphaGo, called the program’s victory a “historic moment.”

Does AlphaGo Mean Artificial Intelligence Is the Real Deal?




most theories of consciousness are worse than wrong..,


theatlantic |  According to medieval medicine, laziness is caused by a build-up of phlegm in the body. The reason? Phlegm is a viscous substance. Its oozing motion is analogous to a sluggish disposition.

The phlegm theory has more problems than just a few factual errors. After all, suppose you had a beaker of phlegm and injected it into a person. What exactly is the mechanism that leads to a lazy personality? The proposal resonates seductively with our intuitions and biases, but it doesn’t explain anything.

In the modern age we can chuckle over medieval naiveté, but we often suffer from similar conceptual confusions. We have our share of phlegm theories, which flatter our intuitions while explaining nothing. They’re compelling, they often convince, but at a deeper level they’re empty.

One corner of science where phlegm theories proliferate is the cognitive neuroscience of consciousness. The brain is a machine that processes information, yet somehow we also have a conscious experience of at least some of that information. How is that possible? What is subjective experience? It’s one of the most important questions in science, possibly the most important, the deepest way of asking: What are we? Yet many of the current proposals, even some that are deep and subtle, are phlegm theories.

the tides of mind

thescientist |  Many scientists who study the mind live in fantasyland. They ought to move back to reality: neuroscientists, psychologists, computer scientists pursuing artificial intelligence, and the philosophers of mind who are, in many cases, the sharpest thinkers in the room.
The mind makes us rational. That mind is the one we choose to study. When we study sleep or dreaming, we isolate them first—as the specialized topics they are. But, as I argue in my new bookThe Tides of Mind, we will never reach a deep understanding of mind unless we start with an integrated view, stretching from rational, methodical thought to nightmares.
Integrating dreaming with the rest of mind is something like being asked to assemble a car from a large pile of metal, plastic, rubber, glass, and an ocelot. Dreaming is hallucination, centering on a radically different self from our waking selves, within unreal settings and stories. Dreams can please or scare us far more vividly than our ordinary thoughts. And they are so slippery, so hard to grasp, that we start losing them the moment we wake up.
But dreaming fits easily into the big picture of mind; and we will make no basic progress on understanding the mind until we see how. Dreaming is the endpoint of the spectrum of consciousness, the smooth progression from one type of consciousness to the next, that we each experience daily.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

the real reason the establishment and all its minions are hysterical about Trump...,


Guardian |  Trade is an issue that polarizes Americans by socio-economic status. To the professional class, which encompasses the vast majority of our media figures, economists, Washington officials and Democratic powerbrokers, what they call “free trade” is something so obviously good and noble it doesn’t require explanation or inquiry or even thought. Republican and Democratic leaders alike agree on this, and no amount of facts can move them from their Econ 101 dream. 

To the remaining 80 or 90% of America, trade means something very different. There’s a video going around on the internet these days that shows a room full of workers at a Carrier air conditioning plant in Indiana being told by an officer of the company that the factory is being moved to Monterrey, Mexico, and that they’re all going to lose their jobs.

As I watched it, I thought of all the arguments over trade that we’ve had in this country since the early 1990s, all the sweet words from our economists about the scientifically proven benevolence of free trade, all the ways in which our newspapers mock people who say that treaties like the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement allow companies to move jobs to Mexico. 

Well, here is a video of a company moving its jobs to Mexico, courtesy of Nafta. This is what it looks like. The Carrier executive talks in that familiar and highly professional HR language about the need to “stay competitive” and “the extremely price-sensitive marketplace”. A worker shouts “Fuck you!” at the executive. The executive asks people to please be quiet so he can “share” his “information”. His information about all of them losing their jobs.

* * *

Now, I have no special reason to doubt the suspicion that Donald Trump is a racist. Either he is one, or (as the comedian John Oliver puts it) he is pretending to be one, which amounts to the same thing.
But there is another way to interpret the Trump phenomenon. A map of his support may coordinate with racist Google searches, but it coordinates even better with deindustrialization and despair, with the zones of economic misery that 30 years of Washington’s free-market consensus have brought the rest of America.

turd-blossom and TEP plot to stop mr. miracle...,

zerohedge |  "If we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished," Romney said, in an apparent effort to play party elder. "If Donald Trump’s plans were ever implemented, the country would sink into prolonged recession," Romney continues, hitting Trump on the economy. "A few examples. His proposed 35 percent tariff-like penalties would instigate a trade war and that would raise prices for consumers, kill our export jobs and lead entrepreneurs and businesses of all stripes to flee America." 
We covered the story exhaustively, and for those who would enjoy a review of the verbal melee, see here, here, and here.
More important than what Romney said (after all, it's not as though he's the first person to essentially call Trump a demagogic lunatic who has no business being President) was what his speech represented: all-out panic on the part of the GOP establishment. 
This is it folks. Trump is on the verge of winning the nomination and although most still think he can't beat Hillary, the national election is a wildcard. If Trump can go from laughingstock to presumed GOP nominee in nine months, there's no reason to think he can't ride the populist wave all the way to The White House.
With diplomats the world over voicing their concern, and with America's reputation on the line (of course we can debate about what's left of that reputation after Bush and Obama) heavyweights from across America's political aristocracy and business community are scrambling to figure out how to derail Trump's momentum. In short, the Michael Bloomberg deus ex machina isn't coming and Joe Biden isn't likely to ride into the race in a red Camaro and save the day either, so what now?
That question, apparently, was on the agenda at the American Enterprise Institute's annual World Forum, a secretive affair held on Sea Island, Georgia.

phookin tards a combination WMD-Crime Against Humanity...,


esquire |  If it were possible for Congress to place a state into some kind of democratic receivership, Kansas would be a really good candidate. Governor Sam Brownback—excuse me, twice-elected, god help us, Governor Sam Brownback—turned the state into a lab rat for all the worst policy ideas produced by the modern conservative Republican party. The legislature went gleefully along for the ride. The state has cratered and, as it cratered, it sank deeper and deeper into madness. The latest chapter in this sad saga came when the state's Supreme Court began to rule that, all Randian wet-dreams aside, Kansas had an obligation to fund its public schools at a decent level. If you think that the legislature response was to carefully consider what it's been doing over the past few years and pull itself back from a course of action that is so obviously harming so many of the people that put it into office, then you probably live in a state not presided over by the likes of Sam Brownback.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

tards fubar everything they put their hands to...,



NYTimes |  DURING oral arguments last week before the Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, Justice Elena Kagan noted that she was struck by the clear relationship between abortion restrictions in Texas and the closing of abortion clinics. “It’s almost like the perfect controlled experiment as to the effect of the law, isn’t it?” she said. “It’s like you put the law into effect, 12 clinics closed. You take the law out of effect, they reopen.”

How women respond to these closings, however, is another story.

We do not have large enough surveys to discern behavior in different states or to track how it has changed over time — and in any case, people may not feel comfortable sharing the truth in a survey.

Google searches can help us understand what’s really going on. They show a hidden demand for self-induced abortion reminiscent of the era before Roe v. Wade.

This demand is concentrated in areas where it is most difficult to get an abortion, and it has closely tracked the recent state-level crackdowns on abortion.

In 2015, in the United States, there were about 119,000 searches for the exact phrase “how to have a miscarriage.” There were also searches for other variants — “how to self-abort” — and for particular methods. Over all, there were more than 700,000 Google searches looking into self-induced abortions in 2015.

For comparison, there were some 3.4 million searches for abortion clinics and, according to estimates by the Guttmacher Institute, there are around one million legal abortions a year.

The 700,000 searches included about 160,000 asking how to get abortion pills through unofficial channels — searches like “buy abortion pills online” and “free abortion pills.”

There were tens of thousands of searches looking into abortion by herbs like parsley or by vitamin C. There were some 4,000 searches looking for directions on coat hanger abortions, including about 1,300 for the exact phrase “how to do a coat hanger abortion.” There were also a few hundred looking into abortion through bleaching one’s uterus and punching one’s stomach.

the world has a problem - too many young people



NYTimes |  AT no point in recorded history has our world been so demographically lopsided, with old people concentrated in rich countries and the young in not-so-rich countries.

Much has been made of the challenges of aging societies. But it’s the youth bulge that stands to put greater pressure on the global economy, sow political unrest, spur mass migration and have profound consequences for everything from marriage to Internet access to the growth of cities.

The parable of our time might well be: Mind your young, or they will trouble you in your old age.

A fourth of humanity is now young (ages 10 to 24). The vast majority live in the developing world, according to the United Nations Population Fund.

Nowhere can the pressures of the youth bulge be felt as profoundly as in India. Every month, some one million young Indians turn 18 — coming of age, looking for work, registering to vote and making India home to the largest number of young, working-age people anywhere in the world.

Already, the number of Indians between the ages of 15 and 34 — 422 million — is roughly the same as the combined populations of the United States, Canada and Britain.

By and large, today’s global youth are more likely to be in school than their parents were; they are more connected to the world than any generation before them; and they are in turn more ambitious, which also makes them more prone to getting fed up with what their elders have to offer. Many are in no position to land a decent job at home. And millions are moving, from country to city, and to cities in faraway countries, where they are increasingly unwelcome.

Democratically elected presidents and potentates are equally aware: Aspirations, when thwarted, can be a potent, spiteful force. No longer can you be sure that a large swell of young working-age people will enrich your country, as they did a generation ago in East Asia. “You can’t just say, ‘Hey look, I’ve got a youth bulge, it’s going to be great,’ ” said Charles J. Kenny, an economist at the Washington-based Center for Global Development. “You’ve got to have an economy ready to respond.”

Tards Undercut the Political Will to Implement Sane Population Control Policy

churchandstate |  It was in this climate of rising concern that President Nixon sent to Congress his “Special Message on Problems of Population Growth.” Special messages to the Congress are exceedingly rare and this was the first such message on population. This action punctuated the beginning of the peak of American political will to deal with the mounting population crisis. The message, for the first time, committed the United States to confronting the population problem. Also rare, this special message was approved by the Congress. Its passage was bipartisan, indicating broad political support for American political action to combat this problem. The message was a water shed development, yet few recall it.
The most important element of the Special Message was its creation of the Commission on Population Growth and the American Future. During the signing of the bill establishing the Commission, President Nixon commented on the broad political and public support: “I believe this is an historic occasion. It has been made historic not simply by the act of the President in signing this measure, but by the fact that it has had bipartisan support and also such broad support in the Nation.”
The 24 member Commission was chaired by John D. Rockefeller 3rd. It ordered more than 100 research projects which collected and analyzed data that would make possible the formulation of a comprehensive U.S. population policy. After 2 years of intense effort, the Commission completed a 186-page report titled, Population and the American Future which offered more than 70 recommendations. The recommendations were a bold but sane response to the challenges we faced in 1973. For example, they called for: passage of a Population Education Act to help school systems establish well-planned population education programs; sex education to be widely available for all, including minors, at government expense if necessary; vastly expanded research in many areas related to population-growth control; and the elimination of all employment of illegal aliens.
The recommendations represented the conclusions of some of the nation’s most capable people. The scientists who completed the Commission’s 100 research projects were among the best in their fields. These recommendations are included in this book because it is important for the reader to know what the U.S. response to the population problem could have been and should have been. On May 5, 1972, at a ceremony held for the purpose of formally submitting the Commission’s findings and conclusions, President Nixon publicly renounced the report.[4] This was 6 months before the President faced re-election and he was feeling intense political heat from one particularly powerful, foreign-controlled special interest group—the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. Nothing happened toward implementation of any of the more than three score recommendations that collectively would have created a comprehensive U.S. population policy. Not one recommendation was ever adopted. To this day, the U.S. has no population policy, one of the few major countries with this distinction.
Had these 70 carefully reasoned recommendations been adopted as U.S. population policy in 1973—or if even a dozen or so of the most important ones had been adopted—America would be very different today. We would be more secure, subjected to less crime, better educated now with even greater educational opportunities ahead, living with less stress in a healthier environment, with more secure employment and greater employment opportunities, with better medical care, all in a physically less crowded America.

national security study memorandum 200 - The Kissinger Report

wikipedia |  The basic thesis of the memorandum was that population growth in the least developed countries (LDCs) is a concern to U.S. national security, because it would tend to risk civil unrest and political instability in countries that had a high potential for economic development. The policy gives "paramount importance" to population control measures and the promotion of contraception among 13 populous countries. This is to control rapid population growth which the U.S. deems inimical to the socio-political and economic growth of these countries and to the national interests of the United States, since the "U.S. economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad", and these countries can produce destabilizing opposition forces against the United States.
It recommends that U.S. leadership "influence national leaders" and that "improved world-wide support for population-related efforts should be sought through increased emphasis on mass media and other population education and motivation programs by the UN, USIA, and USAID."

Named countries[edit]

Thirteen countries are named in the report as particularly problematic with respect to U.S. security interests: India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Turkey, Nigeria, Egypt,Ethiopia, Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil. These countries are projected to create 47 percent of all world population growth.
The report advocates the promotion of education and contraception and other population control measures, stating for instance that "No country has reduced its population growth without resorting to abortion".
It also raises the question of whether the U.S. should consider preferential allocation of surplus food supplies to states that are deemed constructive in use of population control measures.

Charles Evers endorses Trump

Fist tap Big Don

Monday, March 07, 2016

the most racist places in america according to google

WaPo |  Other hotbeds of racist searches appear in areas of the Gulf Coast, Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and a large portion of Ohio. But the searches get rarer the further West you go. West of Texas, no region falls into the "much more than average" category. This map follows the general contours of a map of racist Tweets made by researchers at Humboldt State University.
So some people are sitting at home by themselves, Googling a bunch of racist stuff. What does it matter? As it turns out, it matters quite a bit. The researchers on the PLOS ONE paper found that racist searches were correlated with higher mortality rates for blacks, even after controlling for a variety of racial and socio-economic variables.
"Results from our study indicate that living in an area characterized by a one standard deviation greater proportion of racist Google searches is associated with an 8.2% increase in the all-cause mortality rate among Blacks," the authors conclude. Now, of course, Google searches aren't directly leading to the deaths of African Americans. But previous research has shown that the prevalence of racist attitudes can contribute to poor health and economic outcomes among black residents.
"Racially motivated experiences of discrimination impact health via diminished socioeconomic attainment and by enforcing patterns in racial residential segregation, geographically isolating large segments of the Black population into worse neighborhood conditions," the authors write, summarizing existing research. "Racial discrimination in employment can also lead to lower income and greater financial strain, which in turn have been linked to worse mental and physical health outcomes."

the shadow world of the economic hitman..,



peakprosperity |  If you're hoping to have a 'feel good' day today, we're about to owe you an apology.

John Perkins, author of The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, is someone we've been trying to get on the program for some time. He tells a dark story of an elite cabal working in the shadows to subjugate governments as it pursues ever-greater control of the planet's resources.

What's most frightening about this story is how credible it is. Anybody paying attention to world developments will have a hard time dismissing Perkins' claims out-of-hand; and a harder time not being sickened at how on the mark his claims may likely prove to be:
Economic hitmen – I'm a former one, actually – created the world's first truly global empire. It's really a corporate empire, not an American empire although the U.S. government certainly supports it. We work many different ways, but perhaps the most common is that we will identify a country that has resources that corporations want, like oil.
We arrange huge loans of that country from the World Bank or one of its sisters. Yet, the money never actually goes to the country. It is primarily there to make the our companies -- that build the infrastructure projects like the power plants, and the industrial parks, highways, and ports -- very rich.
In addition, a few wealthy families make a lot of money off of these programs. They own the industries and commercial centers.

But the majority of the people do not benefit at all. They do not have enough money to buy much electricity. They cannot get jobs in industrial parks because the industrial parks do not hire many people. They lose out because a lot of money is diverted from healthcare, education, and other social services to try to pay the interest on the debt.

In the end, the principal is never paid down. We go back and say Since you cannot pay your debts, sell your resource real cheap to our corporations without any environmental restrictions or social regulations. Or privatize, and sell off your electric utilities;,your water and sewage systems, and your schools, your jails -- all of your public sector businesses -- to our corporations.

These leaders are very aware that if they do not accept these deals; if we economic hitmen fail to bring them around, the jackals are likely to show up. These are people that will either assassinate those leaders or overthrow their governments.

Nate Hagens in 2013 said Peak Oil will likely be a deflationary variety (scroll down to 11)


theoildrum |  Society runs on energy, but thinks it runs on money. In such a scenario, there will be some paradoxical results from the end of cheap (to extract) oil. Instead of higher prices, the global economy will first lose the ability to continue to service both the principal and the interest on the large amounts of newly created money/debt, and we will then probably first face deflation. Under this scenario, the casualty will not be higher and higher prices to consumers that most in peak oil community expect, but rather the high and medium cost producers gradually going out of business due to market prices significantly below extraction costs. 

Peak oil will come about from the high cost tranches of production gradually disappearing. I don't expect the government takeover of the credit mechanism to stop, but if it does, both oil production and oil prices will be quite a bit lower. In the long run it's all about the energy. For the foreseeable future, it's mostly about the credit.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

the revenge of the lower classes and the rise of american fascism


ICH |  Robert Paxton wrote in “The Anatomy of Fascism”:
The language and symbols of an authentic American fascism would, of course, have little to do with the original European models. They would have to be as familiar and reassuring to loyal Americans as the language and symbols of the original fascisms were familiar and reassuring to many Italians and Germans, as [George] Orwell suggested. Hitler and Mussolini, after all, had not tried to seem exotic to their fellow citizens. No swastikas in an American fascism, but Stars and Stripes (or Stars and Bars) and Christian crosses. No fascist salute, but mass recitations of the pledge of allegiance. These symbols contain no whiff of fascism in themselves, of course, but an American fascism would transform them into obligatory litmus tests for detecting the internal enemy.
Fascism is about an inspired and seemingly strong leader who promises moral renewal, new glory and revenge. It is about the replacement of rational debate with sensual experience. This is why the lies, half-truths and fabrications by Trump have no impact on his followers. Fascists transform politics, as philosopher and cultural critic Walter Benjamin pointed out, into aesthetics. And the ultimate aesthetic for the fascist, Benjamin said, is war.

Paxton singles out the amorphous ideology characteristic of all fascist movements.

Fascism rested not upon the truth of its doctrine but upon the leader’s mystical union with the historic destiny of his people, a notion related to romanticist ideas of national historic flowering and of individual artistic or spiritual genius, though fascism otherwise denied romanticism’s exaltation of unfettered personal creativity. The fascist leader wanted to bring his people into a higher realm of politics that they would experience sensually: the warmth of belonging to a race now fully aware of its identity, historic destiny, and power; the excitement of participating in a wave of shared feelings, and of sacrificing one’s petty concerns for the group’s good; and the thrill of domination.

There is only one way left to blunt the yearning for fascism coalescing around Trump. It is to build, as fast as possible, movements or parties that declare war on corporate power, engage in sustained acts of civil disobedience and seek to reintegrate the disenfranchised—the “losers”—back into the economy and political life of the country. This movement will never come out of the Democratic Party. If Clinton prevails in the general election Trump may disappear, but the fascist sentiments will expand. Another Trump, perhaps more vile, will be vomited up from the bowels of the decayed political system. We are fighting for our political life. Tremendous damage has been done by corporate power and the college-educated elites to our capitalist democracy. The longer the elites, who oversaw this disemboweling of the country on behalf of corporations—who believe, as does CBS Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves, that however bad Trump would be for America he would at least be good for corporate profit—remain in charge, the worse it is going to get.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

time to cowboy up and clean out the augean stables of the american governmental system...,


WaPo |  “It’s nothing personal about Hillary Clinton, but the reason Donald Trump is getting so much support right now is not because of the, you know, ‘racists,’ etc. and etc.,” Webb said. “It’s because a certain group of people are seeing him as the only one who has the courage to say, ‘We’ve got to clean out the stables of the American governmental system right now.’ If you're voting for Donald Trump, you might be getting something very good or very bad. If you’re voting for Hillary Clinton, you’re going to get the same thing. Do you want the same thing?”

Webb, who briefly ran for the Democratic nomination before dropping out and recently ruled out an independent bid for president, had just watched Trump win landslide votes in the part of the country Webb knows best.

ungovernable: the unprotected push back


dollarcollapse |  Peggy Noonan, former Reagan administration speech writer and current Wall Street Journal pundit has, like most of her peers, been wondering what’s gotten into the unwashed masses lately that makes them such unpredictable voters. And she’s come up with a useful conclusion: The rise of Donald Trump (and similar iconoclasts in other countries) is due to the gradual division of society into the protected — that is, people who make the rules and therefore benefit from them — and the unprotected, who don’t make the rules and end up getting screwed. The latter have finally figured this out and have stopped supporting the former. Here’s her latest OpEd piece, in its entirety:
Trump and the Rise of the Unprotected: Why political professionals are struggling to make sense of the world they created.

We’re in a funny moment. Those who do politics for a living, some of them quite brilliant, are struggling to comprehend the central fact of the Republican primary race, while regular people have already absorbed what has happened and is happening. Journalists and politicos have been sharing schemes for how Marco parlays a victory out of winning nowhere, or Ted roars back, or Kasich has to finish second in Ohio. But in my experience any nonpolitical person on the street, when asked who will win, not only knows but gets a look as if you’re teasing him. Trump, they say.

I had such a conversation again Tuesday with a friend who repairs shoes in a shop on Lexington Avenue. Jimmy asked me, conversationally, what was going to happen. I deflected and asked who he thinks is going to win. “Troomp!” He’s a very nice man, an elderly, old-school Italian-American, but I saw impatience flick across his face: Aren’t you supposed to know these things?

In America now only normal people are capable of seeing the obvious.

But actually that’s been true for a while, and is how we got in the position we’re in.

Last October I wrote of the five stages of Trump, based on the Kübler-Ross stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Most of the professionals I know are stuck somewhere between four and five.

But I keep thinking of how Donald Trump got to be the very likely Republican nominee. There are many answers and reasons, but my thoughts keep revolving around the idea of protection. It is a theme that has been something of a preoccupation in this space over the years, but I think I am seeing it now grow into an overall political dynamic throughout the West.

There are the protected and the unprotected. The protected make public policy. The unprotected live in it. The unprotected are starting to push back, powerfully.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Wolfram: AI and the Future of Civilization


edge |  What makes us different from all these things? What makes us different is the particulars of our history, which gives us our notions of purpose and goals. That's a long way of saying when we have the box on the desk that thinks as well as any brain does, the thing it doesn't have, intrinsically, is the goals and purposes that we have. Those are defined by our particulars—our particular biology, our particular psychology, our particular cultural history.

The thing we have to think about as we think about the future of these things is the goals. That's what humans contribute, that's what our civilization contributes—execution of those goals; that's what we can increasingly automate. We've been automating it for thousands of years. We will succeed in having very good automation of those goals. I've spent some significant part of my life building technology to essentially go from a human concept of a goal to something that gets done in the world.

There are many questions that come from this. For example, we've got these great AIs and they're able to execute goals, how do we tell them what to do?...

we don't need no stinking eric schmidt, we need reed richards and benton f'ing quest!!!


reuters |  Eric Schmidt, the former chief executive officer of Google, will head a new Pentagon advisory board aimed at bringing Silicon Valley innovation and best practices to the U.S. military, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Wednesday.

Carter unveiled the new Defense Innovation Advisory Board with Schmidt during the annual RSA cyber security conference in San Francisco, saying it would give the Pentagon access to "the brightest technical minds focused on innovation."

Schmidt, now the executive chairman of Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), the parent company of Google, said the board would help bridge what he called a clear gap between how the U.S. military and the technology industry operate.

Schmidt also said he saw the group looking for ways to use new technologies to solve new and emerging problems.

The board is Carter's latest effort to kick-start innovation across the U.S. military by building bridges to the technology industry. The U.S. defense chief announced the board's creation on Wednesday during his third trip to Silicon Valley since taking office just over a year ago.

It had been 20 years since the last U.S. defense secretary visited Silicon Valley.

the new mind control


aeon |  Over the past century, more than a few great writers have expressed concern about humanity’s future. In The Iron Heel (1908), the American writer Jack London pictured a world in which a handful of wealthy corporate titans – the ‘oligarchs’ – kept the masses at bay with a brutal combination of rewards and punishments. Much of humanity lived in virtual slavery, while the fortunate ones were bought off with decent wages that allowed them to live comfortably – but without any real control over their lives.

In We (1924), the brilliant Russian writer Yevgeny Zamyatin, anticipating the excesses of the emerging Soviet Union, envisioned a world in which people were kept in check through pervasive monitoring. The walls of their homes were made of clear glass, so everything they did could be observed. They were allowed to lower their shades an hour a day to have sex, but both the rendezvous time and the lover had to be registered first with the state.

In Brave New World (1932), the British author Aldous Huxley pictured a near-perfect society in which unhappiness and aggression had been engineered out of humanity through a combination of genetic engineering and psychological conditioning. And in the much darker novel 1984 (1949), Huxley’s compatriot George Orwell described a society in which thought itself was controlled; in Orwell’s world, children were taught to use a simplified form of English called Newspeak in order to assure that they could never express ideas that were dangerous to society.

These are all fictional tales, to be sure, and in each the leaders who held the power used conspicuous forms of control that at least a few people actively resisted and occasionally overcame. But in the non-fiction bestseller The Hidden Persuaders (1957) – recently released in a 50th-anniversary edition – the American journalist Vance Packard described a ‘strange and rather exotic’ type of influence that was rapidly emerging in the United States and that was, in a way, more threatening than the fictional types of control pictured in the novels. According to Packard, US corporate executives and politicians were beginning to use subtle and, in many cases, completely undetectable methods to change people’s thinking, emotions and behaviour based on insights from psychiatry and the social sciences.

Most of us have heard of at least one of these methods: subliminal stimulation, or what Packard called ‘subthreshold effects’ – the presentation of short messages that tell us what to do but that are flashed so briefly we aren’t aware we have seen them. In 1958, propelled by public concern about a theatre in New Jersey that had supposedly hidden messages in a movie to increase ice cream sales, the National Association of Broadcasters – the association that set standards for US television – amended its code to prohibit the use of subliminal messages in broadcasting. In 1974, the Federal Communications Commission opined that the use of such messages was ‘contrary to the public interest’. Legislation to prohibit subliminal messaging was also introduced in the US Congress but never enacted. Both the UK and Australia have strict laws prohibiting it.

Subliminal stimulation is probably still in wide use in the US – it’s hard to detect, after all, and no one is keeping track of it – but it’s probably not worth worrying about. Research suggests that it has only a small impact, and that it mainly influences people who are already motivated to follow its dictates; subliminal directives to drink affect people only if they’re already thirsty.

Packard had uncovered a much bigger problem, however – namely that powerful corporations were constantly looking for, and in many cases already applying, a wide variety of techniques for controlling people without their knowledge. He described a kind of cabal in which marketers worked closely with social scientists to determine, among other things, how to get people to buy things they didn’t need and how to condition young children to be good consumers – inclinations that were explicitly nurtured and trained in Huxley’s Brave New World. Guided by social science, marketers were quickly learning how to play upon people’s insecurities, frailties, unconscious fears, aggressive feelings and sexual desires to alter their thinking, emotions and behaviour without any awareness that they were being manipulated.

By the early 1950s, Packard said, politicians had got the message and were beginning to merchandise themselves using the same subtle forces being used to sell soap. Packard prefaced his chapter on politics with an unsettling quote from the British economist Kenneth Boulding: ‘A world of unseen dictatorship is conceivable, still using the forms of democratic government.’ Could this really happen, and, if so, how would it work?

Thursday, March 03, 2016

the graveyard of the elites


ICH |  Power elites, blinded by hubris, intoxicated by absolute power, unable to set limits on their exploitation of the underclass, propelled to expand empire beyond its capacity to sustain itself, addicted to hedonism, spectacle and wealth, surrounded by half-witted courtiers—Alan Greenspan, Thomas Friedman, David Brooks and others—who tell them what they want to hear, and enveloped by a false sense of security because of their ability to employ massive state violence, are the last to know their privileged world is imploding.

“History,” the Italian sociologist Vilfredo Pareto wrote, “is the graveyard of aristocracies.”

The carnival of the presidential election is a public display of the deep morbidity and artifice that have gripped American society. Political discourse has been reduced by design to trite patriotic and religious clichés, sentimentality, sanctimonious peons to the American character, a sacralization of militarism, and acerbic, adolescent taunts. Reality has been left behind.

Politicians are little more than brands. They sell skillfully manufactured personalities. These artificial personalities are used to humanize corporate oppression. They cannot—and do not intend to—end the futile and ceaseless wars, dismantle the security and surveillance state, halt the fossil fuel industry’s ecocide, curb the predatory class of bankers and international financers, lift Americans out of poverty or restore democracy. They practice anti-politics, or what Benjamin DeMott called “junk politics.” DeMott defined the term in his book “Junk Politics: The Trashing of the American Mind”:

It’s a politics that personalizes and moralizes issues and interests instead of clarifying them. It’s a politics that maximizes threats from abroad while miniaturizing large, complex problems at home. It’s a politics that, guided by guesses about its own profits and losses, abruptly reverses public stances without explanation, often spectacularly bloating problems previously miniaturized (e.g.: Iraq will be over in days or weeks: Iraq is a project for generations). It’s a politics that takes changelessness as its fundamental cause—changelessness meaning zero interruption in the processes and practices that, decade after decade, strengthen existing, interlocking American systems of socioeconomic advantage. And it’s a politics marked not only by impatience (feigned or otherwise) with articulated conflict and by frequent panegyrics on the American citizen’s optimistic spirit and exemplary character, but by mawkish fondness for feel-your-pain gestures and idioms.

He went on: “Great causes—they still exist—nourish themselves on firm, sharp awareness of the substance of injustice. Blunting that awareness is a central project of junk politics.”

Our constitutional democracy is dead. It does not work. Or rather, it does not work for us. No politician or elected official can alter anything of substance. Throughout the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama there has been complete continuity on nearly every issue. Indeed, if Obama has a legacy it is that he made things incrementally worse. He has accelerated the assault on civil liberties, expanded the imperial wars—including empowering the government to order the assassination of American citizens—and opened up new drilling sites on public lands as if he were Sarah Palin. He has failed to rein in Wall Street, which is busy orchestrating another global financial meltdown, and turned our health care system over to rapacious corporations. He has made war on immigrants and overseen economic collapse among the poor, especially African-Americans. He appears to be powerless to shut down our torture center in Guantanamo—a potent recruiting tool for jihadists—or place a new justice on the Supreme Court. His successor will be as impotent.

Obama, now a charter member of our ruling elite, will become rich, as did the Clintons, when he leaves office. The moneyed elites will pay for his two presidential libraries—grotesque vanity projects. They will put him on boards and lavish him with astronomical speaking fees. But as a democratic leader he has proved to be as pathetic as his predecessor.

the clintons and wall street...,


counterpunch |  For twenty four years the Clintons have orchestrated a conjugal relationship with Wall Street, to the immense financial benefit of both parties.   They have accepted from the New York banks $68.72 million in campaign contributions for their six political races, and $8.85 million more in speaking fees.  The banks have earned hundreds of billions of dollars in practices that were once prohibited—until the Clinton Administration legalized them.

The extraordinary ambition displayed in the careers of Bill and Hillary Clinton defies description.  They have spent much of their adult lives soliciting money from others for their own benefit.  A 2014 story in Time magazine said this:
“Few in American history have collected and benefited from so much money in so many ways over such a long period of time…the Clintons have attracted at least $1.4 billion in contributions…” Washington Post a year later doubles the amount to $3 billion.
Ruthless ambition put Bill Clinton into the White House twice, sent Hillary Clinton twice to the Senate, and now has her poised on the cusp of the American presidency.  It also made the Clintons one of the wealthiest couples in the nation.

Hillary Clinton’s net worth is forty five million dollars; Bill Clinton’s is eighty million. Measured by family wealth, this puts the couple in the top 1% of American households by a factor of 16 ($7.88 million is the threshold).

The Clintons’ ambition is reinforced by arrogance.  Their behavior in the Monica Lewinsky affair is only the most glaring example.  Sexual frivolities while holding office are scarcely unusual, having spiced the lives of public figures for centuries, but if the dalliance is exposed, the scarlet official typically resigns in shame and scuttles into obscurity.  Recall Gary Hart or John Edwards in modern times.  But the Clintons rejected that time-honored code of decency.  In the glare of public scorn they besmirched the office of the Presidency by barricading themselves in the White House, shamelessly arrogant.

That performance pales, however, compared to the Clintons’ self-serving transformation of the Democratic Party, from the champion of working people to the lapdog of Wall Street—and of corporate America in general.  Cleverly the Clintons still pander to the traditional constituency, but in serving its new clientele the transformed party abandoned the less fortunate strata of American society, especially the communities of color.

getting rich or dying trying in afghanistan...,


newyorker |   America’s war in Afghanistan, which is now in its fifteenth year, presents a mystery: how could so much money, power, and good will have achieved so little? Congress has appropriated almost eight hundred billion dollars for military operations in Afghanistan; a hundred and thirteen billion has gone to reconstruction, more than was spent on the Marshall Plan, in postwar Europe. General David Petraeus, a principal architect of U.S. counterinsurgency strategy, encouraged the practice of pumping money into the economy of Afghanistan, where the per-capita G.D.P. at the time of the invasion was around a hundred and twenty dollars. He believed that money had helped buy peace during his command of American forces in Iraq. “Employ money as a weapons system,” Petraeus wrote in 2008. “Money can be ‘ammunition.’

The result was a war waged as much by for-profit companies as by the military. Political debate in Washington has focussed on the number of troops deployed in Afghanistan and the losses that they have sustained. To minimize casualties, the military outsourced any task that it could: maintenance, cooking and laundry, overland logistics, even security. Since 2007, there have regularly been more contractors than U.S. forces in Afghanistan; today, they outnumber them three to one.

One result has been forms of corruption so extreme that the military has, in some cases, funded its own enemy. When a House committee investigated the trucking system that supplied American forces, it found that the system had “fueled a vast protection racket run by a shadowy network of warlords, strongmen, commanders, corrupt Afghan officials, and perhaps others.” Its report concluded that “protection payments for safe passage are a significant potential source of funding for the Taliban.” The system risked “undermining the U.S. strategy for achieving its goals in Afghanistan.”

The system has also made a few individuals very rich. Hikmatullah Shadman, an Afghan trucking-company owner, earned more than a hundred and sixty million dollars while contracting for the United States military; for the past three years, he has been battling to save much of his fortune in a federal court in Washington, D.C. In United States of America v. Sum of $70,990,605, et al., the Justice Department has accused Hikmat, as he’s known, of bribing contractors and soldiers to award him contracts. Hikmat has maintained his innocence, even as eight soldiers have pleaded guilty in related criminal cases. Several members of the Special Forces who have not been accused of wrongdoing have defended him. In a deposition, Major Jerry (Rusty) Bradley, a veteran Special Forces officer, said, “The only way to right a wrong of this magnitude is to be willing to draw your sword and defend everything that you believe in.”

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

why support for mr. miracle continues to broaden and deepen...,

zerohedge |  it appears no matter what the establishment throws at Donald Trump, nothing seems to stick and reduce his core support's enthusiasm. Many on 'the other side' are unable to comprehend this support and so Indianapolis residents Jon and Elsa Sands wrote to The FT to explain why they are voting for Trump...
Sir, My wife and I are affluent Americans with postgraduate degrees. We are socially liberal and fiscally mildly conservative. We are not the sans-culottes you see as the prototypical Trump voter. We are well aware of his vulgarity and nous deficiency yet we contemplate voting for him. Why?

Electing the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party seems purposeless. The neanderthal Republicans barely respected the legitimacy of Bill Clinton’s or Barack Obama’s election, let alone that of Hillary who would arrive tainted with scandal and the email lapses hanging over her head. We would get four years of gridlock and “hearings”.

The Republican tribunes, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, are backward, foolish and inexperienced. John Kasich, a moderate with extensive governmental experience and a willingness to compromise, is an also-ran.

That leaves The Donald, really a moderate in wolf’s garb, who would owe nothing to either party and might strike deals, for instance on tax reform.

Yes, we could be like the good citizens who voted for a "tameable" Hitler in 1933 to get things back on track. But the alternatives look worse.
Simply put, as Liberty Blitzkrieg's Mike Krieger summed up:
Trump is the protest vote against ever-bigger government and the failure of Summers/Keynesian policies

DNC Chair and Granny's main Fury Debbie Wasserman Schultz backs parasitic payday lenders...,



thinkprogress |  Payday lenders fearing modest federal regulations will cut into their vast profit margins have a new, high-profile ally in Washington: The chairwoman of the Democratic Party.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) is co-sponsoring legislation to delay and permanently muffle pending Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rules to rein in small-dollar lenders that are currently able to levy triple-digit annual interest rates on the nation’s poorest, the Huffington Post reports.

The bill would force a two-year delay of the CFPB’s rules, which are still being drafted. Last spring, the agency set out a framework for its rulemaking process that indicates it is taking a more modest approach than industry critics would prefer. But the bill Wasserman Schultz signed onto would both delay those rules further, and permanently block them in any state that enacts the sort of ineffectual, industry-crafted regulatory sham that Florida adopted in 2001.

That bill featured “compromise language heavily influenced by industry players,” the Florida Alliance for Consumer Protection notes. Rather than a model for robust oversight that still allows low-income people to access emergency credit when they need it, the group describes the Florida approach as a series of “well-disguised loopholes” that preserve the industry’s abusive patterns.

Those patterns are indisputable. While concerns about how current payday lending customers will meet emergency financial needs under the CFPB rules are sensible enough — no one can be certain how the financial industry will respond to restrictions on the current model, though advocates for the CFPB’s modest approach are confident lenders will still issue such loans at a healthy profit — there is no disputing the data motivating the agency to act.

The industry often notes that a slim majority of all borrowers repay their debt on time, an indicator that many customers are taking an expensive deal and getting back on their feet quickly. But those people aren’t where lenders make money. A full 80 percent of all payday loans are renewals or rollovers of a previous loan. And the real cash comes from customers who get trapped in the near-endless “debt trap” reborrowing cycles. While only 22 percent of borrowers end up rolling their loan over seven or more times, loans in such misery cycles account for 62 percent of the industry’s business. Trapping people in lengthy repay cycles is literally the primary source of industry income.

JOHN MCAFEE: The NSA's back door has given every US secret to our enemies



BI |  Deng Xiaoping, in 1979 - his second year as supreme leader of China - perceived a fundamental truth that has yet to be fully grasped by most Western leaders: Software, if properly weaponized, could be far more destructive than any nuclear arsenal.

Under Deng’s leadership, China began one of the most ambitious and sophisticated meta- software development programs ever undertaken.

And what is meta-software? It's the one science that the entire Western World has entirely overlooked. It is a high level set of principles for developing software that are imperative if a nation is to survive in a cyberwar.

For example, programmers must constantly be audited. Every line of code written by every programmer is audited by two senior programmers, and these auditors are rotated each month and the same two are never paired more than once. You will see very clearly, later in this article, why such a principle is vital to a society’s survival.

Another principal is that back doors into software can never, under any circumstances, be allowed. Under Deng Xiaoping, the penalty for back doors, and for violating any of the meta- software principles, was death.

I will give an example of what happens in the real world when back doors are put into software. On December 17th of last year, Juniper Networks - a major provider of secure network systems, who's customers include nearly every US government agency, announced that it had discovered two “unauthorized” back doors in its systems.

For those of my readers who do not understand how back doors are created - they can only be created by the manufacturers of the software. There is, absolutely, no other way.

So, the company had to have a rogue employee in the software development department. This much is clear.

It will also be clear, if you continue reading, who placed the rogue employee within Juniper Networks and why.

AT&T delivers a richly deserved swift-kick to Louisville and Google's silly behinds...,



techrepublic |  The fiber internet wars have officially begun. On Thursday, AT&T filed a lawsuit in federal court against the city of Louisville, Kentucky after the city recently passed a new ordinance that would allow ISPs like Google Fiber to make use of utility poles owned by AT&T.

Louisville's relationship with Google Fiber began in September 2015 when the two started exploring options to bring gigabit internet service in the city. In early February 2016, Louisville's Metro Council voted on two separate measures to encourage the deployment of Google's service in the city.

The ordinance in question, known as "One Touch Make Ready," essentially allows Google (or any other ISP) to install its equipment on existing utility poles, including those owned and maintained by AT&T. Despite strong opposition from AT&T and Time Warner Cable, the ordinance passed with a 23-0 vote.

In response, AT&T , stating that the ordinance has no precedent and it violates existing rules for telecom providers. The next day, Google fired back with a blog post condemning AT&T suit, and pledged its support to the city of Louisville. In a tweet directed to Google Fiber, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said: "We will vigorously defend the lawsuit filed today by ATT; gigabit fiber is too important to our city's future."

And, it's not just Google Fiber that would be affected by a ruling against the ordinance. Louisville Chief of Civic Innovation, Ted Smith, said that the city had conversations with three other providers about pole attachment, and two of those companies called to congratulate Louisville on passing the ordinance. There were also a host of Louisville businesses interested in the city's potential adoption of Fiber, and increased competition in the market, as they were dissatisfied with the price they paid for their current service.

"In some cases, the lack of competition has [also] created pockets in our community where businesses don't have redundancy," Smith said. "Which means there is only one commercial provider in the area and if they fail, the backup is not there."

While this lawsuit obviously carries some heavy implications for the Louisville community, it could also have a larger impact on the future of Google Fiber and gigabit internet as a whole. Let's break it down.