Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Because He Stopped Making Money Or Because He Raped The Wrong Peasant?

charleshughsmith |  If you want to understand why the status quo is unraveling, start by examining the feudal structure of our society, politics and economy.

The revelations coming to light about Hollywood Oligarch Harvey Weinstein perfectly capture the true nature of our status quo: a rotten-to-the-core, predatory, exploitive oligarchy of dirty secrets and dirty lies protected by an army of self-serving sycophants, servile toadies on the make and well-paid legal mercenaries. Predators aren't an aberration of the Establishment; they are the perfection of the Establishment, which protects abusive, exploitive predator-oligarchs lest the feudal injustices of life in America be revealed for all to see.

The predators reckon their aristocratic status in Hollywood/D.C. grants them a feudal-era droit du seigneur (rights of the lord) to take whatever gratifications they desire from any female who has the grave misfortune to enter their malefic orbit.

Anyone who protests or makes efforts to go public is threatened by the oligarch's thugs and discredited/smeared by the oligarch's take-no-prisoners legal mercenaries. (Recall the Clintons' Crisis Management Team tasked with crushing any Bimbo Eruptions, i.e. any eruptions of the truth about Bill's well-known-to-insiders predation of the peasantry.)

Should the worst happen and some sliver of the truth emerge despite the best efforts of the thugs, corporate media, legal mercenaries and PR handlers, then the playbook follows the script of any well-managed Communist dictatorship:the oligarch predator is thrown to the wolves to protect the oligarchs' systemic predation and exploitation of the peasantry/debt-serfs.

Just as in a one-party Communist dictatorship, an occasional sacrificial offering is made to support the propaganda that the predators are outliers rather than the only possible output of a predatory, exploitive feudal status quo comprised of a small elite of super-wealthy and powerful oligarchs at the top and all the powerless debt-serfs at the bottom who must do their bidding in bed, in the boardroom, in the corridors of political power, and in the private quarters of their yachts and island hideaways.

Media reports suggest that the real reason Mr. Weinstein has been fired is not his alleged conduct over the past 27 years but his loss of the golden touch in generating movie-magic loot for the oh-so-liberal and politically correct Hollywood gang that was pleased to protect Mr. Weinstein when he was busy enriching them.

U.S. Justice System Ignores Elite Criminality

libertyblitzkrieg  |  Two very important articles published in recent days serve to once again highlight America’s metastasizing elite criminality problem. A problem which our justice system simply refuses to address.

This corrupt two-tier justice system is something I’ve been focused on from the very beginning of my writings, and I continue to see it as a civilization-level threat for this country if not aggressively addressed and confronted in the very near future.

The two articles in question focus on different aspects of untouchable elite culture in America.
The first relates to the continued fraud pervasive in America’s largest financial institution, while the second covers a thirty year history of predatory sexual behavior by one of Hollywood’s biggest moguls, Harvey Weinstein. 

In both cases, countless people have known and reported on repeated abuses perpetrated by both the institution and the man, yet the U.S. justice system and the vast majority of “elite” culture happily help shield them from justice. Predators are predators, and elite predators are far more dangerous to society that your average street crook, so why does our justice situation deal with it in the exact opposite way?

Let’s start with the blockbuster article published in The Nation by the always informative David Dayen. The article is titled, How America’s Biggest Bank Paid Its Fine for the 2008 Mortgage Crisis—With Phony Mortgages!

Here’s just brief excerpt:

Harvey Weinstein: Give Me A Second Chance To Get It Up Again Together...,

HuffPo  | The situation surrounding Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment allegations has only continued to worsen.

A desperate email from the film executive surfaced on Monday afternoon, courtesy of Janice Min, a strategist at Eldridge Industries and part owner of The Hollywood Reporter. Min tweeted out a transcribed iteration of an email she claims was read to her “by a disgusted (male) recipient.” She also noted that the email was sent to Hollywood “CEOs, moguls” mere hours before Weinstein was fired from his role at The Weinstein Company.
“My board is thinking of firing me,” the letter reads. “All I’m asking, is let me take a leave of absence and get into heavy therapy and counseling. Whether it be in a facility or somewhere else, allow me to resurrect myself with a second chance.”

Black Identity Extremist Stripper Blows Up Miami Dolphins Offensive Line...,

NYPost |  The model behind the release of the video featuring offensive line coach Chris Foerster snorting a white powder before a meeting leaked the damning clip in response to the intense political climate, according to recent Facebook posts.

In a since-deleted comment, Las Vegas-based Kijuana Nige said coaches should take responsibility for their actions as players who protest during the national anthem are chastised over their decisions on whether to stand.

“I have plenty of white friends so I’m not making this a race issue. People are missing the point. My point is everyone has to be held accountable for their decisions they roast players over anthems while the coaches be high as s–t and probably can’t sing along,” she wrote, per Obnoxious Boston Fan.
The 33-year-old model also spoke out Monday on social media.

“The white people mad at me like I forced blow down this mans nose and like I recorded it on tha low,” Nige shared on Facebook. “No those are his habits and he recorded himself and sent it to me professing his love.

“So quick to make excuses for him but will roast a minority player over an athem [sic], dog fight, weed, domestic issues etc. But y’all keep saying ALL LIVES MATTER STFU!!” she continued.
The relationship between Foerster and Nige is not clear. In the video, he said he misses her.

Less than 12 hours after the recording surfaced, Foerster announced his resignation Monday following one season and four games with the Miami Dolphins.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Love or Mathematical Precision: Do You Know What's Real?

Guardian  |  Where most sci-fi movies quickly date, Blade Runner has improved with age. Of course, it was always a fantastic ride, superbly detailed and steeped in neo-noir atmospherics, but its deep, troubling ideas about technology, humanity and identity chimed with postmodern and cyberpunk theory, and launched a thousand PhD theses. One of the few student lectures I can remember was about the French theorist Jean Baudrillard, orders of simulacra, and how nothing is really real any more. In a down-with-the-kids gesture, the lecturer stood behind a TV monitor playing a muted video of Blade Runner. “You’ll probably get more out of watching this than you will by listening to me,” she said. She was right. Deciphering Baudrillard’s arcane prose is like wading through treacle; Blade Runner is a ride you don’t want to get off. And, against all odds, its belated follow-up, Blade Runner 2049, carries the baton brilliantly, both in terms of visual spectacle and finishing the debates the first movie began.

Between the two movies and Philip K Dick’s source novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Blade Runner serves as a record of how our dystopian fears have evolved over the past half-century. When Dick wrote the story, in 1968, he was thinking of the dehumanising process of nazism. His “replicants” (artificially engineered humans with a four-year lifespan) were “essentially less-than-human entities”, Dick stated. They were “deplorable because they are heartless, they are completely self-centred, they don’t care about what happens to other creatures”.

Ridley Scott’s film turned it around, somewhat. Far from being a deplorable, heartless machine, Rutger Hauer’s chief replicant, supposedly the baddie, develops empathy for the cop trying to kill him. Replicants were the superior beings. “More human than human,” as their manufacturer, Eldon Tyrell, puts it. Apart from the four-year lifespan, what was the difference? This was the part Baudrillard and co were so keen to engage with: what was “real” when the copy was better than the original? “The real is not only what can be reproduced but that which is always already reproduced. The hyper-real,” wrote Baudrillard. Human status was no longer a matter of biological or genetic fact. You couldn’t trust your memories either – they could just be implants. So how do any of us know we are human?

How Can You Harness Machine Intelligence If Cognitive Elites Struggle to Understand It?

Booz-Allen  |  On Thursday, July 20, China’s State Council released the New Generation of Artificial Intelligence Development Plan. Numbering nearly 40 pages, the plan lays out China’s aspirations in impressive detail. It introduces massive investment that aims to position China at the forefront of technological achievement by cultivating the governmental, economic, and academic ecosystems to drive breakthroughs in machine intelligence. To achieve these goals, the Council aims to harness the data produced by more the internet-connected devices of more than a billion Chinese citizens, a vast web of “intelligent things.”

The plan also details the strategic situation precipitating the need for a bold new vision: “Machine intelligence [is] the strategic technology that will lead in the future; the world’s major developed countries are taking the development of AI as a major strategy… [We] must, looking at the world, take the initiative to plan [and] firmly seize the [technology] in this new stage of international competition.[i]

The China State Council’s plan evokes a document that marked the beginning of the defining global technological competition of the last century—the space race. In August 1958, ten months after watching the Soviet Union launch Sputnik 1, President Dwight Eisenhower’s administration released the U.S. Policy on Outer Space. In it, the U.S. National Security Council (NSC) urged massive investment to cultivate the talent and technology base necessary to exceed the Soviet Union’s achievements in space.
The United States is now at the precipice of another defining moment in history.
The NSC included an urgent mandate to act, declaring, “The starkest facts which confront the United States in the immediate and foreseeable future are [that] the USSR has surpassed the U.S. and the Free World in scientific and technological accomplishments in outer space, [and] if it maintains its present superiority…will be able to use [it] as a means of undermining the prestige and leadership of the United States.”[ii]

The United States is now at the precipice of another defining moment in history. The world’s greatest powers are entering a technological contest that will parallel or exceed the space race in the magnitude of its economic, geopolitical, and cultural consequences. Maintaining our role as a global superpower requires us to achieve parity, and ideally dominance, in the race to a future powered by intelligent machines. Moreover, we must develop a comprehensive national strategy for maintaining this technological advantage while also advancing our economy, preserving our social norms and values, and protecting our citizens’ dignity, privacy, and equality.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Smartphone Dystopia

Guardian  |  He was particularly aware of the allure of Facebook “likes”, which he describes as “bright dings of pseudo-pleasure” that can be as hollow as they are seductive. And Rosenstein should know: he was the Facebook engineer who created the “like” button in the first place. 

A decade after he stayed up all night coding a prototype of what was then called an “awesome” button, Rosenstein belongs to a small but growing band of Silicon Valley heretics who complain about the rise of the so-called “attention economy”: an internet shaped around the demands of an advertising economy.

These refuseniks are rarely founders or chief executives, who have little incentive to deviate from the mantra that their companies are making the world a better place. Instead, they tend to have worked a rung or two down the corporate ladder: designers, engineers and product managers who, like Rosenstein, several years ago put in place the building blocks of a digital world from which they are now trying to disentangle themselves. “It is very common,” Rosenstein says, “for humans to develop things with the best of intentions and for them to have unintended, negative consequences.”

Rosenstein, who also helped create Gchat during a stint at Google, and now leads a San Francisco-based company that improves office productivity, appears most concerned about the psychological effects on people who, research shows, touch, swipe or tap their phone 2,617 times a day.

There is growing concern that as well as addicting users, technology is contributing toward so-called “continuous partial attention”, severely limiting people’s ability to focus, and possibly lowering IQ. One recent study showed that the mere presence of smartphones damages cognitive capacity – even when the device is turned off. “Everyone is distracted,” Rosenstein says. “All of the time.”

But those concerns are trivial compared with the devastating impact upon the political system that some of Rosenstein’s peers believe can be attributed to the rise of social media and the attention-based market that drives it.

Drawing a straight line between addiction to social media and political earthquakes like Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump, they contend that digital forces have completely upended the political system and, left unchecked, could even render democracy as we know it obsolete.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Emotional Sentience and the Nature of Phenomenal Experience

emotionalsentience |  When phenomenal experience is examined through the lens of physics, several conundrums come to light including: Specificity of mindebody interactions, feelings of free will in a deterministic universe, and the relativity of subjective perception. The new biology of “emotion” can shed direct light upon these issues, via a broadened categorical definition that includes both affective feelings and their coupled (yet often subconscious) hedonic motivations. In this new view, evaluative (good/bad) feelings that trigger approach/avoid behaviors emerged with life itself, a crude stimulus-response information loop between organism and its environment, a semiotic signaling system embodying the first crude form of “mind”.
Emotion serves the ancient function of sensory-motor self-regulation and affords organisms e at every level of complexity e an active, adaptive, role in evolution. A careful examination of the biophysics involved in emotional “self-regulatory” signaling, however, acknowledges constituents that are incompatible with classical physics. This requires a further investigation, proposed herein, of the fundamental nature of “the self” as the subjective observer central to the measurement process in quantum mechanics, and ultimately as an active, unified, self-awareness with a centrally creative role in “self-organizing” processes and physical forces of the classical world. In this deeper investigation, a new phenomenological dualism is proposed: The flow of complex human experience is instantiated by both a classically embodied mind and a deeper form of quantum consciousness that is inherent in the universe itself, implying much deeper e more Whiteheadian e interpretations of the “self-regulatory” and “self-relevant” nature of emotional stimulus. A broad stroke, speculative, intuitive sketch of this new territory is then set forth, loosely mapped to several theoretical models of consciousness, potentially relevant mathematical devices and pertinent philosophical themes, in an attempt to acknowledge the myriad questions e and limitations e implicit in the quest to understand “sentience” in any ontologically pansentient universe.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Some Will Be Human, Others Will Just Do What The "Machine" Suggests...,

bloombergview |  "Politics" might even be the wrong word for it. As Bishop describes it in his book (and Andrew Sullivan does in a new essay in New York magazine), the divide is really more about identities, or tribes. Policy disputes aren't what separates us so much as differences in attitude and language. Which is why Donald Trump, despite his New York County address and all-over-the-political-map statements on the campaign trail, seems to be mainly just deepening the divide. Attitude and language -- and loyalty -- are what he cares about most, so those are the buttons that he keeps pushing.

How do we counter this growing tribalism, and growing conviction that those outside our tribes are motivated by Satanic impulses? I don't know! If I did, I would have told you already. Still, as a starting place, I recommend this: Just assume that those who disagree with you politically are really, really stupid.

If the Collective Hates It When People Walk Away - They Ain't Seen Nothing Yet!!!

alt-market |  Despite the vicious measures of interference, reports suggest that the vote was still successful, with 90% of the citizenry in support of independence. What happens now is unclear, but I can tell you two things are relatively certain.

First, a 90% vote in favor will result in a militarized response from the Spanish government. If the vote was less overwhelming, the government might attempt to pit one side of the population against the other, causing internal strife and disrupting secession. This strategy is unrealistic given the mass movement for independence. So, the only other option for the government is full blown martial law.

Second, such a crackdown will result in a violent counter-response. This happened in the 1970s in Catalonia and I see no reason why it would not happen again. When you have almost an entire population in agreement on separation and you use force to stop them from attaining it, they will become violent. Civil war is inevitable if martial law is declared.

It is vital that we examine the root ideological catalyst in this scenario.

The most rational solution would be for the Spanish government to accept the Catalan vote (if they believe in "democracy" as they claim, then they have to accept it, otherwise they appear extraordinarily hypocritical). This could result in a more harmonious economic relationship and less drastic damage to Spain's fiscal structure. However, this is not going to happen. Instead, Spain is going to use the age old collectivist tactics of intimidation and carnage to oppress the Catalan's and subsume their economic production (as socialist governments always do).  When civil war erupts, and it will, production in Catalonia will grind to a standstill and Spain STILL loses 20% of its GDP.

You see, this is a lose/lose scenario for Spain, all because the collectivist doctrine demands a jackbooted reaction to any movement for decentralization. Collectivist systems are parasitic in nature; they see the citizenry as food, as units of production for the state that cannot be allowed to leave, for the "greater good of the greater number." Collectivists rationalize their behavior as essential to the well being of the society at large, but this is dishonest, for their behavior more often harms society by crushing individual innovation and instigating wars that might not have ever happened in the first place.

There is at the same time the matter of sovereignty movements across Europe. The only people who benefit from stopping these movements are globalists/collectivists. They may also benefit by sabotaging these movements after the fact, making an example of them and holding them up to the rest of the world as symbols of the "failures of populism."

America's Puerto Rican Municipalities

zerohedge |  We harp on the massive, unsustainable, yet largely unnoticed, debt burdens of American cities, counties and states fairly regularly because, well, it's a frightening issue if you spend just a little time to understand the math and ultimate consequences.  Here is some of our recent posts on the topic:
Luckily, for those looking to escape the trauma of being taxed into oblivion by their failing cities/counties/states, JP Morgan has provided a comprehensive guide on which municipalities haven't the slightest hope of surviving their multi-decade debt binge and lavish public pension awards.  

If you live in any of the 'red' cities above, it just might be time to start looking for another home...

wikipedia |   Chapter 9, Title 11, United States Code is a chapter of the United States Bankruptcy Code, available exclusively to municipalities and assisting them in the restructuring of their debt. On July 18, 2013, Detroit, Michigan became the largest city in the history of the United States to file for Chapter 9 Bankruptcy protection. Jefferson County, Alabama, in 2011 and Orange County, California, in 1994 are also notable examples. "The term 'municipality' denotes a political subdivision or public agency or instrumentality of a State."[1]

From 1937 to 2008 there were fewer than 600 municipal bankruptcies.[2] As of June 2012 the total was around 640.[3] In 2012 there were twelve chapter 9 bankruptcies in the United States, and five petitions have been filed in 2013.[4] Since 2010, 61 petitions have been filed.[5]
Previous to the creation of Chapter 9 bankruptcy, the only remedy when a municipality was unable to pay its creditors was for the creditors to pursue an action of mandamus, and compel the municipality to raise taxes.[6] During the Great Depression, this approach proved impossible, so in 1934, the Bankruptcy Act was amended to extend to municipalities.[7][8] The 1934 Amendment was declared unconstitutional in Ashton v. Cameron County Water District.[9]

wikipedia |  Mandamus ("We command") is a judicial remedy in the form of an order from a superior court,[1] to any government subordinate court, corporation, or public authority, to do (or forbear from doing) some specific act which that body is obliged under law to do (or refrain from doing), and which is in the nature of public duty, and in certain cases one of a statutory duty. It cannot be issued to compel an authority to do something against statutory provision. For example, it cannot be used to force a lower court to reject or authorize applications that have been made, but if the court refuses to rule one way or the other then a mandamus can be used to order the court to rule on the applications.

Mandamus may be a command to do an administrative action or not to take a particular action, and it is supplemented by legal rights. In the American legal system it must be a judicially enforceable and legally protected right before one suffering a grievance can ask for a mandamus. A person can be said to be aggrieved only when he is denied a legal right by someone who has a legal duty to do something and abstains from doing it.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Trump Off-Script On Bankster Bondage of Puerto Rico

nakedcapitalism  |  And speaking of Goldman, notice that Trump takes an explicit swipe at the investment bank turned Beltway heavyweight. He must be chafing at have been leashed and collared by the generals and the Goldmanites.

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday while on a trip to Puerto Rico to observe hurricane recovery efforts that the island’s massive debt will have to be wiped out.
“They owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street and we’re going to have to wipe that out. You’re going to say goodbye to that, I don’t know if it’s Goldman Sachs but whoever it is you can wave goodbye to that,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News.
CNBC picked up on the Reuters story quickly and highlighted the bleak fundamentals:
Even before the storm brought Puerto Rico to a near standstill, the government there already struggled with an economy in shambles and a default on billions of dollars of public debt.
Today, the U.S. territory has nearly $70 billion in debt, an unemployment rate 2.5 times the U.S. average, a 45 percent poverty rate, nearly insolvent pension systems and a chronically underfunded Medicaid insurance program for the poor.
Puerto Rico’s job base continues to shrink, taking its economy along with it. Since the recession ended, a lack of job prospects has sent many Puerto Ricans fleeing to the mainland, where the job market is much stronger.
However, it is unlikely that Goldman would suffer much, if at all, in a Puerto Rico bankruptcy. It might hold some bonds in its trading inventory, but its big exposure would come via funds it manages. On those, under the Volcker Rule, Goldman is limited to owning a small percentage of the equity investment in the fund (3% is the nominal amount, although there may be some tricks of the trade for increasing the exposure). 

But David Dayen has found one of the big owners of Puerto Rico debt, as reported in a new story at the Intercept. If you read the article in full, tracking down the who was behind the shell company used to hide the ultimate owners is very reminiscent of the sort of gumshoe work that Richard Smith does chasing international scammers.

Spanish Thug Life: Bankster Enforcement Of Unjust Political Bondage

nakedcapitalism  |  As reader RabidGhandi had caught, the Spanish government has already put itself in the position of using its power over the banking system to control the payments now being made by Catalonia’s government. As I read this article (and I welcome corrections and additions, since trying to understanding legal/regulatory interventions via an article translated by Google is a fraught business), Spain has used the secession threat to take control of Catalonia’s spending, taking the view that the violation of the Constitution gives it unlimited authority to intervene. From the rough English version of the El Mundo story:
The government begins to hit and where it hurts most. The Generalitat will not have free from its budget. Cristóbal Montoro has confiscated the keys of the box. From next week all the expenses destined to cover the essential public services of Catalonia will have to have the approval of Finance that will be who directly pay them. It is a question of preventing the money from being diverted to the referendum of 1-O .
This decision of exhaustive control of the Catalan accounts affects the salaries of the civil servants, the cost of the health, the education, the civil protection, the dependency and the diverse transfers in aid and subsidies to the families. In total, the approximately 1.4 billion euros per month of community funding is left to the central government, which is prepared to ensure that not a single public euro is diverted to pay for the 1-O referendum and the secessionist process…
What the Government decided this Friday is practically the application of Article 155 of the Constitution for economic purposes. It is true that the Government does not seize political competition from the Generalitat but, in fact, it binds its hands to decide on what it spends the money, since who will open the portfolio and make the appropriate payments, after strict justification by the Intervention General of the Generalitat , will be the Ministry of Finance.
And notice the mechanism for seizing control:
The central government will supervise even the approximately 250 million euros per month of own collection in Catalonia – a relatively small item, in the words of the minister – since when the Government orders financial institutions to make payments from these funds, thereof.
In this sense, Hacienda will send to the banks the text of the agreements adopted so that they are vigilant and do not allow any payment that is not justified by a certificate of the Catalan Intervention. If they detect that any of the operations may be related to the celebration of the independence consultation, they must immediately notify the Attorney General’s Office. It is a very similar method to that used to avoid criminal operations of money laundering.
In other words, Spain has mechanisms already in place by which it can require banks to step in and seize control of collections and expenditures made by parties engaging in criminal activity….and Spain’s courts have deemed the secession to be illegal. Reader Sue confirmed our reading of Spain’s ability to strangle Catalonia’s finances:
Banks cannot issue payments to Catalan public servants and Catalan institutions which depend on the Catalan Government, “Generalitat”, without previous paperwork submission and rubber stamp approval from the Spanish State bureaucracy. This has caused some anger among some Catalan public sector enterprises and contractors doing work for them when quick timely payments are of the essence. Nevertheless, right now public servants and organizations directly or indirectly linked to the Generalitat are being paid because Catalonia as of today is not a State and, (although micromanaged and surveilled and controlled by “Spain’s Ministry of Plenty”), payments reach their destination.
So what would happen if Catalonia actually secedes? Rajoy does not need to send in troops when he has banks, although he could use the belt and suspenders approach.

Spanish banks, like Santander and the cajas like Caixa/Caixabank, are licensed by the Spanish government. Spain can revoke the licenses of any Catalan banks and could also make it illegal to transfer funds in and out of Catalonia, similar to the sanctions imposed on Iran. Any bank licensed by Spain would fall into line immediately out of the threat of losing its license. It would take the cooperation of the bank regulators in other European countries for them to put similar restrictions on their banks, but given the unified EU position against separatist movements, similar rules would almost certainly be issued on an emergency basis.

As least as important, the case study of Greece 2015 shows that the ECB is perfectly happy to be the heavy as long as it has elected officials giving it political cover.
How this would play out in detail is way over my pay grade, but here are some of the things I imagine would happen:
1. No more stocking of cash in Catalonia’s ATMs
2. Cutting off merchants from electronic point of sale systems
3. Bank closures, as in at least a bank holiday and possible shuttering of banks/bank branches, with what happens to frozen Euro-denominated deposits an open question.
Notice that the measures imposed on Catalonia could be even more brutal than what was done to Greece, which merely behaved very badly in negotiations while having its banking system dependent on ECB life support. A declaration of independence is a much greater act of intransigence.

Brazilian Separatists: You Can't Hide Behind Unjust Laws to Defend Political Bondage

libertyblitzkrieg  |  While extremely significant, the Catalan independence movement is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a global drive toward political decentralization. For example, just today I came across another potential secessionist hotspot in an unexpected place, Brazil.
Bloomberg reports:
Inspired by the separatist vote in Catalonia, secessionists in three wealthy southern Brazilian states are redoubling their efforts to break away from the crisis-battered nation.
Residents of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Parana states are being called to vote in an informal plebiscite on Oct. 7 on whether they want independence. Organizers are also urging residents of the three states to sign a legislative proposal for each of their regional assemblies that would call for a formal, binding referendum. The non-profit group “The South is My Country” aims to mobilize a million voters in 900 out of the region’s 1,191 cities.
Cooler, whiter and richer than the rest of Brazil, these southern states have long nursed separatist ambitions. Rio Grande do Sul even briefly claimed independence 180 years ago. Few Brazilians expect the current movement to succeed any time soon, not least because it is prohibited by the Constitution. But the country’s deepest recession on record and a massive corruption scandal have exacerbated the region’s longstanding resentment towards the federal government in Brasilia. With just one year to go until general elections, the rekindling of separatist sentiment in the south is another indicator of the unsettled state of Brazilian politics.
Celso Deucher, the leader of The South is My Country, says the region contributes four times as much tax as it receives and suffers from a below-average level of political representation. He argues that such an unjust situation outweighs any legal concerns.
“Whenever the subject of separatism comes up, they ban it because the federal Constitution does not allow it,” he said. “But the law is not immutable.”
Rio Grande do Sul is currently immersed in a financial crisis and has lost much of its economic clout, according to Fernando Schuler, a professor of political science at Insper University in Sao Paulo. 
“There’s a huge cultural detachment between the Tropicalia Brazil and the South,” he said. “The reasons for separation are solid, justifiable, but I don’t think they are viable.” 
There are two aspects of the above story I’d like to address. First, is that, like Catalonia, the regions thinking about secession from Brazil are relatively wealthy. This is not insignificant and certainly worth thinking about when it comes to wondering what sorts of responsibility these regions should have to the former union should a peaceful breakup go forward. It’s also worth remembering that the leaders of the American revolution were also extremely wealthy. An Independence movement driven by wealthy factions doesn’t necessarily preclude the creation of a superior governing structure.

The second point relates to the fact that Brazil, like Spain, apparently provide no “exit option” for any province or region which decides it no longer wishes to be part of the nation-state. As such, this is by definition an oppressive and involuntary political relationship completely inappropriate to conscious human beings. As I explained in Monday’s post, all political associations should be voluntary and it’s absurd that people are simply born into nation-states that are assumed to be forever entities with no escape latch.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Access the Guardian Through a Raspberry Pi? Of Course...,

wikipedia |  Main article: Wolfram Language

In June 2014, Wolfram officially announced the Wolfram Language as a new general multi-paradigm programming language.[65] The documentation for the language was pre-released in October 2013 to coincide with the bundling of Mathematica and the Wolfram Language on every Raspberry Pi computer. While the Wolfram Language has existed for over 25 years as the primary programming language used in Mathematica, it was not officially named until 2014.[66] Wolfram's son, Christopher Wolfram, appeared on the program of SXSW giving a live-coding demonstration using Wolfram Language[67] and has blogged about Wolfram Language for Wolfram Research.[68]

On 8 December 2015, Wolfram published the book "An Elementary Introduction to the Wolfram Language" to introduce people, with no knowledge of programming, to the Wolfram Language and the kind of computational thinking it allows.[69] The release of the second edition of the book[70] coincided with a "CEO for hire" competition during the 2017 Collision tech conference.[71]

Both Stephen Wolfram and Christopher Wolfram were involved in helping create the alien language for the film Arrival, for which they used the Wolfram Language.[72][73][74]

An Introduction to the Wolfram Language Online

A New Kind of Science

wikipedia |  The thesis of A New Kind of Science (NKS) is twofold: that the nature of computation must be explored experimentally, and that the results of these experiments have great relevance to understanding the physical world. Since its nascent beginnings in the 1930s, computation has been primarily approached from two traditions: engineering, which seeks to build practical systems using computations; and mathematics, which seeks to prove theorems about computation. However, as recently as the 1970s, computing has been described as being at the crossroads of mathematical, engineering, and empirical traditions.[2][3]

Wolfram introduces a third tradition that seeks to empirically investigate computation for its own sake: He argues that an entirely new method is needed to do so because traditional mathematics fails to meaningfully describe complex systems, and that there is an upper limit to complexity in all systems.[4]

Simple programs

The basic subject of Wolfram's "new kind of science" is the study of simple abstract rules—essentially, elementary computer programs. In almost any class of a computational system, one very quickly finds instances of great complexity among its simplest cases (after a time series of multiple iterative loops, applying the same simple set of rules on itself, similar to a self-reinforcing cycle using a set of rules). This seems to be true regardless of the components of the system and the details of its setup. Systems explored in the book include, amongst others, cellular automata in one, two, and three dimensions; mobile automata; Turing machines in 1 and 2 dimensions; several varieties of substitution and network systems; primitive recursive functions; nested recursive functions; combinators; tag systems; register machines; reversal-addition. For a program to qualify as simple, there are several requirements:
  1. Its operation can be completely explained by a simple graphical illustration.
  2. It can be completely explained in a few sentences of human language.
  3. It can be implemented in a computer language using just a few lines of code.
  4. The number of its possible variations is small enough so that all of them can be computed.
Generally, simple programs tend to have a very simple abstract framework. Simple cellular automata, Turing machines, and combinators are examples of such frameworks, while more complex cellular automata do not necessarily qualify as simple programs. It is also possible to invent new frameworks, particularly to capture the operation of natural systems. The remarkable feature of simple programs is that a significant percentage of them are capable of producing great complexity. Simply enumerating all possible variations of almost any class of programs quickly leads one to examples that do unexpected and interesting things. This leads to the question: if the program is so simple, where does the complexity come from? In a sense, there is not enough room in the program's definition to directly encode all the things the program can do. Therefore, simple programs can be seen as a minimal example of emergence. A logical deduction from this phenomenon is that if the details of the program's rules have little direct relationship to its behavior, then it is very difficult to directly engineer a simple program to perform a specific behavior. An alternative approach is to try to engineer a simple overall computational framework, and then do a brute-force search through all of the possible components for the best match.

Simple programs are capable of a remarkable range of behavior. Some have been proven to be universal computers. Others exhibit properties familiar from traditional science, such as thermodynamic behavior, continuum behavior, conserved quantities, percolation, sensitive dependence on initial conditions, and others. They have been used as models of traffic, material fracture, crystal growth, biological growth, and various sociological, geological, and ecological phenomena. Another feature of simple programs is that, according to the book, making them more complicated seems to have little effect on their overall complexity. A New Kind of Science argues that this is evidence that simple programs are enough to capture the essence of almost any complex system.

Mapping and mining the computational universe

In order to study simple rules and their often complex behaviour, Wolfram argues that it is necessary to systematically explore all of these computational systems and document what they do. He further argues that this study should become a new branch of science, like physics or chemistry. The basic goal of this field is to understand and characterize the computational universe using experimental methods.

The proposed new branch of scientific exploration admits many different forms of scientific production. For instance, qualitative classifications are often the results of initial forays into the computational jungle. On the other hand, explicit proofs that certain systems compute this or that function are also admissible. There are also some forms of production that are in some ways unique to this field of study. For example, the discovery of computational mechanisms that emerge in different systems but in bizarrely different forms.

Another kind of production involves the creation of programs for the analysis of computational systems. In the NKS framework, these themselves should be simple programs, and subject to the same goals and methodology. An extension of this idea is that the human mind is itself a computational system, and hence providing it with raw data in as effective a way as possible is crucial to research. Wolfram believes that programs and their analysis should be visualized as directly as possible, and exhaustively examined by the thousands or more. Since this new field concerns abstract rules, it can in principle address issues relevant to other fields of science. However, in general Wolfram's idea is that novel ideas and mechanisms can be discovered in the computational universe, where they can be represented in their simplest forms, and then other fields can choose among these discoveries for those they find relevant.

Wolfram has since expressed "A central lesson of A New Kind of Science is that there’s a lot of incredible richness out there in the computational universe. And one reason that’s important is that it means that there’s a lot of incredible stuff out there for us to 'mine' and harness for our purposes."[5]

Stephen Wolfram

wikipedia |  As a young child, Wolfram initially struggled in school and had difficulties learning arithmetic.[28] At the age of 12, he wrote a dictionary on physics.[29] By 13 or 14, he had written three books on particle physics.[30][31][32] They have not been published.

Particle physics 
Wolfram was a wunderkind. By age 15, he began research in applied quantum field theory and particle physics and published scientific papers. Topics included matter creation and annihilation, the fundamental interactions, elementary particles and their currents, hadronic and leptonic physics, and the parton model, published in professional peer-reviewed scientific journals including Nuclear Physics B, Australian Journal of Physics, Nuovo Cimento, and Physical Review D.[33] Working independently, Wolfram published a widely cited paper on heavy quark production at age 18[2] and nine other papers,[18] and continued research and to publish on particle physics into his early twenties. Wolfram's work with Geoffrey C. Fox on the theory of the strong interaction is still used in experimental particle physics.[34]

He was educated at Eton College, but left prematurely in 1976.[35] He entered St. John's College, Oxford at age 17 but found lectures "awful",[18] and left in 1978[36] without graduating[37][38] to attend the California Institute of Technology, the following year, where he received a PhD[39] in particle physics on November 19, 1979 at age 20.[40] Wolfram's thesis committee was composed of Richard Feynman, Peter Goldreich, Frank J. Sciulli and Steven Frautschi, and chaired by Richard D. Field.[40][41]

A 1981 letter from Feynman to Gerald Freund giving reference for Wolfram for the MacArthur grant appears in Feynman's collective letters, Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track. Following his PhD, Wolfram joined the faculty at Caltech and became the youngest recipient[42] of the MacArthur Fellowships in 1981, at age 21.[37]

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

PROMESA Bishes: Obama Imposed Austerity on Puerto Rico...,

nakedcapitalism |  With that said, here’s a handy dashboard from the Puerto Rican goverment that shows the status of various systems on the island. In this post, I’m going to focus on the two systems that are in the worst shape: Power, at 5% coverage of the island, and water, where coverage differs by region: Metro, 57%; Norte, 29%; Oeste, 20%; Sur, 67%; and Este, 50%. But first, I’m going to look at one factor that differentiates the “natural” disaster of Maria in Puerto Rico from others on the mainland; then I’ll show how that factor affects the power system, and then cascades to affect the water supply. 

That one factor is, of course, finance. One difference between New Orleans (Katrina), Florida (Irma), and Texas (Harvey) on the one hand, and Puerto Rico (Maria), on the other, is that only Puerto Rico is under an austerity regime, imposed during the Obama administration. José A. Laguarta Ramírez described this regime (PROMESA) at Naked Capitalism in 2016:
The U.S. House of Representatives approved PROMESA on the evening of June 9, following a strong endorsement by President Barack Obama. The bill, which would also impose an unelected and unaccountable federal oversight board and allow court-supervised restructuring of part of the island’s $73 billion debt, now awaits consideration by the Senate…. Puerto Rico is not the only place, under the global regime of austerity capitalism to face predatory creditors and the imposition of unelected rulers —as illustrated by cases like Argentina, Greece, and post-industrial U.S. cities such as Flint, Mich.— but its century-old colonial status has made it particularly vulnerable and defenseless.
The House vote followed a concerted, carefully timed media push by the Democratic establishment, on the premise that “despite its flaws” PROMESA represents a bipartisan compromise that is, in Obama’s words, “far superior to the status quo.”
PROMESA’s oversight board, which will be staffed by San Juan and Washington insiders with the bondholders’ best interests at heart, is sure to continue to impose draconian austerity measures that have already slashed much-needed social services.
Of course! Austerity! Why did nobody think of this before? Mark Weisbrot in the New York Times:
This board, to which President Barack Obama appointed four Democrats and four Republicans, has now approved an austerity regimen that, if things go according to plan, envisions a second lost decade — in other words, no economic growth from 2005 through 2024. But the plan [reminscent of the austerity imposed on Greece] doesn’t take into account the impact of such austerity, which would add more years of decline. And there’s more: All the budget tightening over the second decade, including cuts to health care and education, would pay only about $7.9 billion of Puerto Rico’s $73 billion debt.
That means that creditors’ lawsuits, which have already been filed, could inflict additional damage and worsen the quarter-century of economic stagnation that is now in the cards. Hedge funds hold much of Puerto Rico’s debt, and since May their claims have been under consideration in a bankruptcy-like proceeding — also under the Promesa act — that does not look any more promising than the oversight board’s plan.
(One of Trump’s earlier tweets — September 25 — read: “Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble.” So it’s pleasing to see that the Democrats’ tender concern for the hedgies and vulture funds is shared across the political spectrum.)

Now let’s look at the effect of this thoroughly bipartisan austerity on the Puerto Rican power system.

Never Forget: The Owners of This People Ranch are In Charge

Guardian |  By now images of police violence against peaceful voters, old and young, were zipping across social media. Old people pulled to the ground; fleeing women hit with batons; a man jumped on down half a flight of stairs by a fully armoured riot cop . These pictures were horrifying Europe, but the thousands of people milling in the school courtyard did not look frightened or surprised.

After the referendum on Scottish independence in 2014, and the Greek vote to reject austerity in June 2015, people who resist the economic and social order in Europe know that state-backed scare tactics are part of the deal.

Though brutal, the Guardia Civil actions on Sunday were calculated: in the selection of riot squads from outside areas, where casual hatred of Catalans is rife; in the targeting of old people and women; and in the pinpoint nature of the interventions, which people on the barricades thought were concentrated on middle-class areas.

There were thousands of riot cops on hand, on ships in the harbour. If Madrid had wanted to, it could have confiscated every ballot box within minutes and, for good measure, jammed the smartphone app the Catalan authorities were using to tally the results against the electoral roll. But prime minister Mariano Rajoy wanted to send a subtler message: let the most fervent separatists have their vote and get their heads broken, while scaring the rest of the population into non-participation, including any waverers.

Experience Keeps a Dear School: Puerto Rico - Aprende de Cuba...,

strategic-culture |  Most Puerto Ricans are unaware that their neo-colonialist “commonwealth” status as a US territory was cooked up by the Central Intelligence Agency to ensure that Puerto Rico remained a US military base for Cold War operations directed against Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, British Guiana/Guyana, Venezuela, Panama, Guatemala, and other countries in the Western Hemisphere.

For Washington, Puerto Rico has never been taken seriously. Its days as a major US military and intelligence “aircraft carrier” in the Caribbean are long over. Washington, via a long line of pathetic “quislings” who have served as governors of the territory, would rather Puerto Rico be seen and not heard, especially when it comes to treating the islanders as full and equal US citizens. The recent hurricanes that have hit the Caribbean have taught all the colonial vestiges in the region that they would be better off as independent states responsible for their own well-being and recovery than be treated as insignificant colonial pawns.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Luis Gutierrez Makes My Skin Crawl...,

zerohedge |  "The mayor of San Juan is a political hack," Fuentes said. "She was singing the praises of the president until her political adviser, [Rep.] Luis Gutiérrez from Chicago, got there and brought her the t-shirts and said, 'Hey you want to run for governor, if she wants to run..." at which point the CNN anchor cut him off, pointing to audio issues, and claiming he could no longer hear Fuentes, handing over the mic  to CNN's Democratic Political Commentator Maria Cardona, who unleashed a scathing critique before somehow audio returned at which point Fuentes was once again given the platform, when he again repeated that any logistical problems were the result of political posturing by the San Juan mayor at which point both the CNN anchor and and Cardona doubled down their attack, and so on. 

Let The Clinton Global Initiative Do To Puerto Rico What It Did To Haiti..,

theconservativetreehouse |  50% of the native Puerto Rican National Guard refused to report to duty when the governor called them up. •Thousands of tons of supplies and equipment, provided by FEMA, U.S. military and U.S. relief agencies, sit at ports while municipal government has no process for delivering them. •Frente Amplio (PR Teamsters Union – truck drivers) are on strike and refusing to deliver supplies. •Over 10,000 U.S. federal personnel are providing recovery and relief on the island….
 …and the priority for the Mayor of San Juan, with no power or infrastructure, is to have T-Shirts made to push a political agenda?
Funny how Anderson Cooper never asks:Where does one get a shirt like this made when Puerto Rico is under water and out of power? (rhetorical question)

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Quantum Criticality in Living Systems

phys.org  |  Stuart Kauffman, from the University of Calgary, and several of his colleagues have recently published a paper on the Arxiv server titled 'Quantum Criticality at the Origins of Life'. The idea of a quantum criticality, and more generally quantum critical states, comes perhaps not surprisingly, from solid state physics. It describes unusual electronic states that are are balanced somewhere between conduction and insulation. More specifically, under certain conditions, current flow at the critical point becomes unpredictable. When it does flow, it tends to do so in avalanches that vary by several orders of magnitude in size. 

Ferroelectric metals, like iron, are one familiar example of a material that has classical critical point. Above a of 1043 degrees K the magnetization of iron is completely lost. In the narrow range approaching this point, however, thermal fluctuations in the electron spins that underly the magnetic behavior extend over all length scales of the sample—that's the scale invariance we mentioned. In this case we have a continuous phase transition that is thermally driven, as opposed to being driven by something else like external pressure, magnetic field, or some kind of chemical influence.

Quantum criticality, on the other hand, is usually associated with stranger electronic behaviors—things like high-temperature superconductivity or so-called heavy fermion metals like CeRhIn5. One strange behavior in the case of heavy fermions, for example, is the observation of large 'effective mass'—mass up to 1000 times normal—for the conduction electrons as a consequence of their narrow electronic bands. These kinds of phenomena can only be explained in terms of the collective behavior of highly correlated electrons, as opposed to more familiar theory based on decoupled electrons. 

Experimental evidence for critical points in of materials like CeRhIn5 has only recently been found. In this case the so-called "Fermi surface," a three-dimensional map representing the collective energy states of all electrons in the material, was seen to have large instantaneous shifts at the critical points. When electrons across the entire Fermi surface are strongly coupled, unusual physics like superconductivity is possible.

The potential existence of in proteins is a new idea that will need some experimental evidence to back it up. Kauffman and his group eloquently describe the major differences between current flow in proteins as compared to metallic conductors. They note that in metals charges 'float' due to voltage differences. Here, an electric fields accelerate electrons while scattering on impurities dissipates their energy fixing a constant average propagation velocity.
By contrast, this kind of a mechanism would appear to be uncommon in biological systems. The authors note that charges entering a critically conducting biomolecule will be under the joint influence of the quantum Hamiltonian and the excessive decoherence caused by the environment. Currently a huge focus in Quantum biology, this kind of conductance has been seen for example, for excitons in the light-harvesting systems. As might already be apparent here, the logical flow of the paper, at least to nonspecialists, quickly devolves into the more esoteric world of quantum Hamiltonians and niche concepts like 'Anderson localization.' 

To try to catch a glimpse of what might be going on without becoming steeped in formalism I asked Luca Turin, who actually holds the patent for semiconductor structures using proteins as their active element, for his take on the paper. He notes that the question of how electrons get across proteins is one of the great unsolved problems in biophysics, and that the Kauffman paper points in a novel direction to possibly explain conduction. Quantum tunnelling (which is an essential process, for example, in the joint special ops of proteins of the respiratory chain) works fine over small distances. However, rates fall precipitously with distance. Traditional hole and electron transport mechanisms butt against the high bandgap and absence of obvious acceptor impurities. Yet at rest our body's fuel cell generates 100 amps of electron current.
In suggesting that biomolecules, or at least most of them, are quantum critical conductors, Kauffman and his group are claiming that their electronic properties are precisely tuned to the transition point between a metal and an insulator. An even stronger reading of this would have that there is a universal mechanism of charge transport in living matter which can exist only in highly evolved systems. To back all this up the group took a closer look at the electronic structure of a few of our standard issue proteins like myoglobin, profilin, and apolipoprotein E.

In particular, they selected NMR spectra from the Protein Data Bank and used a technique known as the extended Huckel Hamiltonion method to calculate HOMO/LUMO orbitals for the proteins. For more comments on HOMO/LUMO orbital calculations you might look at our post on Turin's experiments on electron spin changes as a potential general mechanism of anesthesia. To fully appreciate what such calculations might imply in this case, we have to toss out another fairly abstract concept, namely, Hofstadter's butterfly as seen in the picture below.

What is Life?

scribd |  Schrodinger unleashed modern molecular biology with his “What Is Life?”.[1] The order in biology must be due, not to statistical processes attributable to statistical mechanics, but due to the stability of the chemical bond. In one brilliant intuition, he said, “It will not be a periodic crystal, for these are dull. “Genes” will be an aperiodic crystal containing a microcode for the organism.” (my quotes around “genes”.) He was brilliantly right, but insufficient. 

The structure of DNA followed, the code and genes turning one another on and off in some vast genetic regulatory network. Later work, including my own,[2] showed that such networks could behave with sufficient order for ontogeny or be enormously chaotic and no life could survive that chaos.

We biologists continue to think largely in terms of classical physics and chemistry, even about the origins of life, and life itself, despite Schrodinger’s clear message that life depends upon quantum mechanics.
In this short article, I wish to explore current “classical physics” ideas about the origin of life then introduce the blossoming field of quantum biology and within a newly discovered state of matter, The Poised Realm, hovering reversibly between quantum and “classical” worlds that may be fundamental to life. Life may be lived in the Poised Realm, with wide implications.

The widest implications are a hope for a union of the objective and subjective poles; the latter lost since Descartes’ Res cogitans failed and Newton triumphed with classical physics and Descartes’ Res extensa. What I shall say here is highly speculative.

2 Classical Physics and Chemistry Ideas about the Origin of Life
There are four broad views about the origin of life:
1) The RNA world view, dominant in the USA.
2) The spontaneous emergence of “collectively autocatalytic set”, which might be RNA, peptides, both, or other molecular species.
3) Budding liposomes or other self-reproducing vesicles.
4) Metabolism first, with linked sets of chemical reaction cycles, which are autocatalytic in the sense that each produces an extra copy of at least one product per cycle. 

Almost all workers agree that however molecular reproduction may have occurred, it is plausibly the case that housing such a system in a liposome or similar vesicle is one way to confine reactants. Recent work suggests that a dividing liposome and reproducing molecular system will synchronize divisions, so could form a protocell, hopefully able to evolve to some extent.[3]