Friday, August 3, 2012

The Matrix of Plunder - 2

Black Beard
Today we remember how long Dredd Blog has been pointing out the plunder that is being done to the middle class and poor.

On this date in 2009 Dredd Blog pointed out:

We have been discussing over the past months how the robber barons vanished, not by geographical movement, but by morphing into the plunder barons, aided by the removal of laws that had made certain types of robbery a crime.

There is a smooth technique being used whereby the treasury money of the people is plundered, and those doing the plundering may even get distinguished service medals:
Wall Street banks are reaping outsized profits by trading with the Federal Reserve, raising questions about whether the central bank is driving hard enough bargains in its dealings with private sector counterparties, officials and industry executives say.

The Fed has emerged as one of Wall Street’s biggest customers during the financial crisis, buying massive amounts of securities to help stabilise the markets. In some cases, such as the market for mortgage-backed securities, the Fed buys more bonds than any other party.
(Financial Times [Wayback Machine version]). Isn't that convenient?

The main functionary of plunder of the American people should not be forgotten in all this, lest we consider the problem to be a simple one to solve, and misunderstimate the nature of the disease we face and who is doing it to us.

One insider who is wise to it was on Morning Joe on MSNBC this morning. Dylan Ratigan, who has a program called Morning Meeting on MSNBC, is wise to some of the schemes that are plundering the United States and he points it out.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The "It's In Your Genes" Myth

Throw out some textbooks!
Regular readers know that Dredd Blog likes to pop the bubble of myths because freedom from myths is a good thing.

Today we take a look at some genetic myths.

A while back in a post Dredd Blog criticized some loose scientific pronouncements of scientists who talked mythological genetics, which might cause you to wonder about the harm of such things, but if you remember that genetic teachings of some scientists led to some of the worst chapters of science, the mystery fades.

For example consider the Eugenics fiasco (see One Man's Junk Gene Is Another Man's Treasure Gene? and The Criminally Insane Epoch Arises - 2. Note especially the link to "Eugenics Review").

Anyway, what follows is an index of quotes, along with the time the quote takes place (minutes:seconds) within the video at the bottom of the post.

These quotes will not be in your grandfather's or your father's textbooks.

This is science today:

00:00 - "One of the most crazy making yet widespread and potentially dangerous notions is 'oh that behavior is genetic'" (Dr. Sapolsky).

01:00 - "nothing is geneticaly programmed" (Dr. Maté).

01:30 - "the whole search for the source of disease in the genome was destined to failure before anyone even thought of it" (Dr. Maté).

02:24 - "some of the early childhood influences ... affect gene expression, actually turning on and off different genes to put you on a different developmental track" (Dr. Wilkinson).

02:45 - "[childhood] abuse actually caused a genetic change in the brain" (Dr. Maté).

03:28 - "a few thousand individuals were studied from birth up into their twenties, what they found was that they could identify a genetic mutation, an abnormal gene which did have some relation to the predisposition to commit violence, but only if the individual had also been subjected to severe child abuse" (Dr. Gilligan).

05:30 - "run with the old version of 'its genetic' and its not that far from history of Eugenics, and things of that sort, and it is a widespread miscoception and a potentially dangerous one" (Dr. Sapolsky).

05:44 - "one reason that the sort of biological explanation for violence, one reason that hypothesis is potentially dangerous, it is not just misleading, it can really do harm, is because if you believe that, you can very easily say 'well there's nothing we can do to change the predisposition people have to becoming violent, all we can do if someone becomes violent is punish them, lock them up or execute them, but we don't need to worry about changing the social environment that may lead people to become violent, because that's irrelevant'" (Dr. Wilkinson).

06:28 - "the genetic argument allows us the luxury of ignoring past and present historical and social factors. In the words of Louis Menand who wrote in the New Yorker very astutely:
“It’s all in the genes”: an explanation for the way things are that does not threaten the way things are. Why should someone feel unhappy or engage in antisocial behavior when that person is living in the freest and most prosperous nation on Earth? It can’t be the system! There must be a flaw in the wiring somewhere.”
... which is a good way to put it. So the genetic argument is simply a cop-out that allows us to ignore the social and economic and political factors that in fact underlie many troublesome behaviors" (Dr. Maté).

07:25 - "addictions are usually considered to be a drug related issue, but looking at it more broadly, I find that addiction is any behavior that is associated with craving for temporary relief and with long term negative consequences along with an impairment of control over it so that the person wishes to give it up or promises to, but can't follow through" (Dr. Maté).

08:10 - "The addiction to oil ... at least to the wealth and to the products made accessible to us by oil ... look at the negative consequences on the environment we are destroying the very Earth that we inhabit for the sake of that addiction. Now these addictions are far more devastating in the social consequences than the cocaine or heroin habits of my ... patients. Yet they are rewarded and considered to be respectable. The tobacco company executive that shows a higher profit will get a much bigger reward ... doesn't face any negative consequences legally or otherwise ... in fact is a respected member of the board of several other corporations ... but tobacco smoke related diseases kill 5.5 million people around the world every year. In the United States they kill 400,000 people a year" (Dr. Maté).

09:05 - "And these people are addicted to what? To profit, to such a degree are they addicted that they are actually in denial about the impact of their activities, which is typical for addicts, is denial. And that is the respectable one. It is respectable to be addicted to profit no matter what the cost. So what is acceptable and what is respectable is a highly arbitrary phenomenon in our society. And it seems like the greater the harm the more respectable the addiction" (Dr. Maté).

09:35 - "There is a general myth that drugs in themselves are addictive, in fact the "War on Drugs" is predicated on the idea that if you interdict the sources of drugs you can deal with addiction that way. Now, if you understand addiction in the broader sense we see that nothing in itself is addictive. No substance, no drug is by itself addictive. And no behavior is by itself addictive"  (Dr. Maté).

One variation on this theme is global warming induced climate change, in that the deniers in effect say "climate is in the genes of the Earth", indicating that humans are not in control enough to cause climate to drastically change.

Wrong again, according to a paper to be published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science Journal:
This is the world we have changed, and now we have to live in it — the world that caused the 2003 heat wave in Europe that killed more than 50,000 people and the 2011 drought in Texas that caused more than $5 billion in damage. Such events, our data show, will become even more frequent and more severe.

There is still time to act and avoid a worsening climate, but we are wasting precious time. We can solve the challenge of climate change with a gradually rising fee on carbon collected from fossil-fuel companies, with 100 percent of the money rebated to all legal residents on a per capita basis. This would stimulate innovations and create a robust clean-energy economy with millions of new jobs. It is a simple, honest and effective solution.

The future is now. And it is hot.
(Climate change is here — and worse than we thought). Do we kick the habit, or does civilization become a homeless derelict that could not cope with fossil fuel addiction?

The next post in this series is here.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ayn Rand: Patron Saint of The Plutocracy - 2

"Bad culture" or poverty?
The assumptive Republican candidate, Willard "Mitt" Romney, was said to have dissed the Palestinian people by telling them that their culture was defective, at least when compared to Israeli culture.

The Romney Campaign seemed to double down on that when The Culture of Mitt also mentioned the difference between the U.S. compared to Mexico as a difference determined by culture.

That campaign, later on after they had travelled to Poland, replied with "Kiss my ass. This is a holy site" when that campaign was asked, by main stream media reporters, about those "cultural statements" Romney had made in Israel.

Those cultural statements made by Romneydom evince the cultural concepts of the Ayn Rand meme complex:
"Reciprocity is where Ayn Rand's brand of libertarianism fails the fairness test. Indeed, such terms as "fairness" and "social justice" are not even a part of her lexicon. It's a fatally defective philosophy."
(Psychology Today). That piece also points out that Warren Buffet does not agree with the elitist philosophy of Ayn Rand, the patron saint of the Plutocracy.

Dredd Blog had discussed Randian concepts in the first post of this series:
In yesterday's post we looked at the high number of psychopaths on Wall Street, and elsewhere, so today we will refine the data down to show more of that psychopathology, which is now embedded within the ideals that converted the constitutional republic with a middle-class oriented economy, into a Plutocracy running a Plutonomy.

One source we will use to help identify the ideology of the plutocrats is Ayn Rand, whose ideas are aptly described by a fellow across the pond, one George Monbiot.

Mr. George Monbiot had some succinct observations recently, which I will pass along in today's post:
Her psychopathic ideas made billionaires feel like victims and turned millions of followers into their doormats ...

It has a fair claim to be the ugliest philosophy the postwar world has produced. Selfishness, it contends, is good, altruism evil, empathy and compassion are irrational and destructive. The poor deserve to die; the rich deserve unmediated power. It has already been tested, and has failed spectacularly and catastrophically. Yet the belief system constructed by Ayn Rand, who died 30 years ago today, has never been more popular or influential.

Rand was a Russian from a prosperous family who emigrated to the United States. Through her novels (such as Atlas Shrugged) and her nonfiction (such as The Virtue of Selfishness) she explained a philosophy she called Objectivism. This holds that the only moral course is pure self-interest. We owe nothing, she insists, to anyone, even to members of our own families. She described the poor and weak as "refuse" and "parasites", and excoriated anyone seeking to assist them. Apart from the police, the courts and the armed forces, there should be no role for government: no social security, no public health or education, no public infrastructure or transport, no fire service, no regulations, no income tax.
Prosperity theology (sometimes referred to as the prosperity gospel or the health and wealth gospel) is a Christian religious doctrine which claims the Bible teaches that financial blessing is the will of God for Christians.
The doctrine emphasizes the importance of personal empowerment, proposing that it is God's will for his people to be happy. The atonement (reconciliation with God) is interpreted to include the alleviation of sickness and poverty, which are viewed as curses to be broken by faith.
(Prosperity Theology, emphasis added). This is why billionaires of the 1% fund these types of movements, which are composed of religious zealots who have mystical beliefs about "economy", therefore are not able to recognize the difference between plutonomy and economy.
(Ayn Rand: Patron Saint of The Plutocracy). One has to wonder if that 1% psychopathic charm is the reason the Romney campaign is trailing 6% or more in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida?

Let's hope so.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Kosher Kulcha Klub:

Later at the Wailing Wall:

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

This Is Your Brain On Propaganda - 4

The War on Eggs
Not long ago the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment to the latest war bill that was being fashioned.

That Amendment claimed to legalize propaganda in the "Homeland" (H.R. 5736, "The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012").

I immediately wondered what they would legalize next, drinking water?

I say that because for anyone not to realize that propaganda is one of the largest businesses in the United States would conjure up memories of the tale of Rip Van Winkle who fell asleep in the mountain woods, but did not awaken from that nap until two decades later in a changed world:
He awakes in unusual circumstances ... Rip returns to his village where he finds that he recognizes no one ... He immediately gets into trouble when he proclaims himself a loyal subject of King George III, not knowing that the American Revolution has taken place; George III's portrait on the town inn has been replaced by that of George Washington.
(Rip Van Winkle). When will the House of Representatives awaken from their stupor to find a world very much unlike the fantasy world they live in?

Have they not read the newspapers where the then president of the Associated Press said:
The Bush administration turned the U.S. military into a global propaganda machine while imposing tough restrictions on journalists seeking to give the public truthful reports about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Associated Press chief executive Tom Curley said Friday.

Curley, speaking to journalists at the University of Kansas, said the news industry must immediately negotiate a new set of rules for covering war because "we are the only force out there to keep the government in check and to hold it accountable."
(Warriors Press For Propaganda). This is nothing new to Dredd Blog or to others who have watched the privatization of the free press, converting it into the corporate media empire:
"Noam Chomsky: One of the most important comments on deceit, I think, was made by Adam Smith. He pointed out that a major goal of business is to deceive and oppress the public.

And one of the striking features of the modern period is the institutionalization of that process, so that we now have huge industries deceiving the public — and they're very conscious about it, the public relations industry. Interestingly, this developed in the freest countries—in Britain and the US — roughly around time of WWI, when it was recognized that enough freedom had been won that people could no longer be controlled by force. So modes of deception and manipulation had to be developed in order to keep them under control
" ...
(The Deceit Business). That developer, an American who is called "The Father of Spin", was revered by NAZI propagandists.

The same man actually wrote the book "Propaganda".

He was a government-paid propagandist who turned Americans away from being against the first world war, turning them instead to be in favor of that war.

Thereafter, Edward Bernays began the privatization of propaganda, now known as the public relations industry ("PR").

He must be turning over in his grave (see e.g. The Ways of Bernays , Exceptional American Propaganda Inspired NAZI Goebbels,  and A Closer Look At MOMCOM's DNA).

Previous posts in this series: This Is Your Brain On Propaganda - 3, This Is Your Brain On Propaganda - 2, and This Is Your Brain On Propaganda.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Peak of Health And The Peak of Oil - 2

All Ahead Full?
In the first post of this series, nearly two years ago, Dredd Blog dealt primarily with the impact that declining oil production and/or supply would have on the health care industry.

We cited to a journal, The American Journal of Public Health, which had published a series of papers intending to bring focus on the issue.

Those publications clearly explained the surprising reality of the enormous dependence the medical, health care industry has on fossil fuels, as well as the enormous problems declining oil supply would or could have on their industry:
Petroleum is used widely in health care — primarily as a transport fuel and feedstock for pharmaceuticals, plastics, and medical supplies — and few substitutes for it are available. This dependence theoretically makes health care vulnerable to petroleum supply shifts, but this vulnerability has not been empirically assessed. We quantify key aspects of petroleum use in health care and explore historical associations between petroleum supply shocks and health care prices. These analyses confirm that petroleum products are intrinsic to modern health care and that petroleum supply shifts can affect health care prices. In anticipation of future supply contractions lasting longer than previous shifts and potentially disrupting health care delivery, we propose an adaptive management approach and outline its application to the example of emergency medical services.
(The Peak of Health And The Peak of Oil). It does not take a lot of imagination to surmise the impact that this information must have had.

Many people must have become quite concerned.

It was not long until the fossil fuel industry ginned up its propaganda organs to deflect the enquiries that began to buzz around wondering about "peak oil".

BP, the creator of America's greatest environmental disaster, the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, promptly hired a cadre of propagandists to write something that would settle folks down.

One such writing which BP funded, by oil industry figure Leonardo Maugeri, used twisted and tortured techniques to skew the data, and therefore ended up producing classic propaganda.

Propaganda strong enough even to fool the likes of George Monbiot into giving up his belief in "peak oil" concepts:
In his column of July 2nd George Monbiot recanted peak oil, claiming “the facts have changed, now we must change too”. Much of the article was spent regurgitating a recent report by Leonardo Maugeri, a former executive with the Italian oil company Eni, which Monbiot breathlessly reported “provides compelling evidence that a new oil boom has begun”.
Plenty of ink has already been spilled by oil depletion experts exposing some of the wildly optimistic assumptions contained in Maugeri’s report. More damning is that the work is shot through with crass mistakes that render its forecast worthless.

When I interviewed him, Mr Maugeri was forced to admit a mathematical howler that would disgrace the back of an envelope, and it also became clear he did not understand the work of the other forecasters he attacks. It also looks as if he has double or even triple counted a vital component of his predicted oil glut.
(Monbiot Peak Oil U-turn Based On Bad Science, Worse Math). The author, David Strahan, goes on to debunk the article as well as Mr. Monbiot's unwise reliance upon it.

We noted recently that psychotic individuals who control the fossil fuel industry habitually use propaganda to hide the reality of the grave, deadly dangers civilization faces by continuing to recklessly rely on that dirty industry (MOMCOM's Mass Suicide & Murder Pact - 5).

One of the reasons that peak oil reality and climate change is covered up by fossil fuel industry psychotics is the incredible impact the nation will face as oil production declines, or as climate catastrophes increase.

We noted in another Dredd Blog post that it would be bad enough if only Twinkies were made from dirty oil, however, it gets scary when one knows that so much is made from dirty oil:
Solvents, Diesel fuel, Motor Oil, Bearing Grease, Ink, Floor Wax, Ballpoint Pens, Football Cleats, Upholstery, Sweaters, Boats, Insecticides, Bicycle Tires, Sports Car Bodies, Nail Polish, Fishing lures, Dresses, Tires, Golf Bags, Perfumes, Cassettes, Dishwasher parts, Tool Boxes, Shoe Polish, Motorcycle Helmet, Caulking, Petroleum Jelly, Transparent Tape, CD Player, Faucet Washers, Antiseptics, Clothesline, Curtains, Food Preservatives, Basketballs, Soap, Vitamin Capsules, Antihistamines, Purses, Shoes, Dashboards, Cortisone, Deodorant, Footballs, Putty, Dyes, Panty Hose, Refrigerant, Percolators, Life Jackets, Rubbing Alcohol, Linings, Skis, TV Cabinets, Shag Rugs, Electrician's Tape, Tool Racks, Car Battery Cases, Epoxy, Paint, Mops, Slacks, Insect Repellent, Oil Filters, Umbrellas, Yarn, Fertilizers, Hair Coloring, Roofing, Toilet Seats, Fishing Rods, Lipstick, Denture Adhesive, Linoleum, Ice Cube Trays, Synthetic Rubber, Speakers, Plastic Wood, Electric Blankets, Glycerin, Tennis Rackets, Rubber Cement, Fishing Boots, Dice, Nylon Rope, Candles, Trash Bags, House Paint, Water Pipes, Hand Lotion, Roller Skates, Surf Boards, Shampoo, Wheels, Paint Rollers, Shower Curtains, Guitar Strings, Luggage, Aspirin, Safety Glasses, Antifreeze, Football Helmets, Awnings, Eyeglasses, Clothes, Toothbrushes, Ice Chests, Footballs, Combs, CD's & DVD's, Paint Brushes, Detergents, Vaporizers, Balloons, Sun Glasses, Tents, Heart Valves, Crayons, Parachutes, Telephones, Enamel, Pillows, Dishes, Cameras, Anesthetics, Artificial Turf, Artificial limbs, Bandages, Dentures, Model Cars, Folding Doors, Hair Curlers, Cold cream, Movie film, Soft Contact lenses, Drinking Cups, Fan Belts, Car Enamel, Shaving Cream, Ammonia, Refrigerators, Golf Balls, Toothpaste, Gasoline
(A Closer Look At MOMCOM's DNA - 2). We are addicted to oil, so we might as well face that, because then and only then can we begin the work of withdrawal, which is also the beginning of ending global warming and other catastrophes.

It is a good thing to end the addiction as soon as we can so as to avoid the catastrophes which that addiction brings.