Saturday, January 10, 2015

Dredd Blog's Sixth Anniversary

Don't Taser me Dawg
Yesterday was Dredd Blog's sixth anniversary.

Here is what was said on the fifth anniversary:

Wow that was fast.

Thanks to all the readers of Dredd Blog who have made it another interesting year.

Hope you found something here that helped you in some way, made your day once in awhile, and challenged you always.

If not, there is always a chance it will happen in 2014 [and now 2015] because the sad, the funny, the profane, the criminal, the wrong, the good, and the next are all happening. Everything is happening so it is difficult sometimes to catch what will help or inform most.

Regular readers know that two other blogs, Toxins of Power and Ecocosmology, have been initiated in the Dredd Blog System to add more variety to your reading experience.

The look of the blog has changed over the years in order to help you find a subject you are interested in (tabs at top, other information on the side of every page).

"When they own all of the information ..."

Waiting on the World to Change, by John Mayer

Friday, January 9, 2015

Agnotology: The Surge - 14

The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance
The greatest ignorance took the form of a grandiose lie in the year 2014.

Voters identified this bit of ignorance as “Climate change is a hoax” (The People Have Spoken: This Is The Most Brazen Lie of 2014).

This lie is fostered by Oil-Qaeda, the criminal enterprise that kills more people than any other (Oil-Qaeda: The Indictment).

Oil-Qaeda has convinced those in the most powerful seats of the U.S. Congress that this lie is the truth.

You may be wondering "how in the world could that happen?"

More on that shortly.

When governments become criminally insane, as NAZI Germany did for a few years long ago, ignorance in many formats arises.

Eventually this type of wide-spread ignorance gave rise to the discipline of Agnotology, which Dredd Blog introduced in the first post of this series (Agnotology: The Surge, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13).

If you are not yet convinced of the long overdue need for such a discipline, take note
King Denial I
that the première climate change denier is now the chair of a relevant Senate Committee:
This year [Jim Inhofe] takes over the Senate Environment and Public Works Committeethe panel most associated with climate policy oversight — and says he plans to continue his role as a “one-man truth squad” on the issue.
(Washington Post, emphasis added). This Oil-Qaeda operative, "King Denial I", is financed with big dirty oil bucks, and is backed up by probably the largest propaganda campaign of recent history:
Around the world, carbon-based fuels are under attack. Increasingly grim economic pressures, growing popular resistance, and the efforts of government regulators have all shocked the energy industry. Oil prices are falling, colleges and universities are divesting from their carbon stocks, voters are instituting curbs on hydro-fracking, and delegates at the U.N. climate conference in Peru have agreed to impose substantial restrictions on global carbon emissions at a conference in Paris later in the year. All this has been accompanied by what might be viewed as a moral assault on the very act of extracting carbon-based fuels from the earth, in which the major oil, gas, and coal companies find themselves portrayed as the enemies of humankind.

Under such pressures, you might assume that Big Energy would react defensively, perhaps apologizing for its role in spurring climate change while assuming a leadership position in planning for the transition to a post-carbon economy. But you would be wrong: instead of retreating, the major [Oil-Qaeda] companies have gone on the offensive ... minimizing the potential for renewables to replace fossil fuels in just about any imaginable future.
(Carbon Counterattack, How Big Oil Is Responding, emphasis added). This type of doubling down is the signature psychopathology of Oil-Qaeda and its operatives.

Regular readers know that Dredd Blog has noted this cultural disorder in previous posts:
Therefore, both psychopaths and sociopaths are capable of committing heinous crimes; however, the psychopath would commit crimes against family members or “friends” (as well as strangers) and feel little to no remorse.
The last main difference between psychopathy and sociopathy is in the presentation. The psychopath is callous, yet charming. He or she will con and manipulate others with charisma and intimidation and can effectively mimic feelings to present as “normal” to society. The psychopath is organized in their criminal thinking and behavior, and can maintain good emotional and physical control, displaying little to no emotional or autonomic arousal, even under situations that most would find threatening or horrifying. The psychopath is keenly aware that what he or she is doing is wrong, but does not care.
(When You Are Governed By Psychopaths - 2, cf. The Peak of Sanity - 5). Regular readers also know that Dredd Blog has often identified this problem as being psychological.

But more than that, it has been identified as an episode of an ongoing mass-murder-suicide (MOMCOM's Mass Suicide & Murder Pact - 5).

The serious danger is quite real, and it is well beyond the time to begin to try to do something about it.

Something besides deluding ourselves that elections alone are a sufficient cure for these psychological problems.

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

Take heed ...

Arcade Fire, Rebellion (Lies); lyrics here

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Petroleum Civilization: The Final Chapter (Confusing Life with Death) - 2

Today I want to mention and discuss a classic piece or two in the Guardian.

I think that they are quite useful for revealing the intellectual problem Petroleum Civilization has with looking at ourselves in the mirror.

George Monbiot is spot on in a piece that clearly and unambiguously boils it down to a simple academic solution.

But, at the same time the issue is a very difficult and possibly insurmountable problem from the perspective of a trance state of mind (Choose Your Trances Carefully, 2).

The world's consensus is that we must dismantle Petroleum Civilization, which means that we must leave the reserves of petroleum in the ground:
New research is first to identify which reserves must not be burned to keep global temperature rise under 2C, including over 90% of US and Australian
coal and almost all Canadian tar sands

Vast amounts of oil in the Middle East, coal in the US, Australia and China and many other fossil fuel reserves will have to be left in the ground to prevent dangerous climate change, according to the first analysis to identify which existing reserves cannot be burned.

The new work reveals the profound geopolitical and economic implications of tackling global warming for both countries and major companies that are reliant on fossil fuel wealth. It shows trillions of dollars of known and extractable coal, oil and gas, including most Canadian tar sands, all Arctic oil and gas and much potential shale gas, cannot be exploited if the global temperature rise is to be kept under the 2C safety limit agreed by the world’s nations. Currently, the world is heading for a catastrophic 5C of warming and the deadline to seal a global climate deal comes in December at a crunch UN summit in Paris.
(Guardian). Simple, leave it in the ground so that catastrophe can be avoided, but, then there is this:
At the same time, on another page, that government website exclaims that: "Oil is the lifeblood of America's economy.  Currently, it supplies more than 40% of our total energy demands and more than 99% of the fuel we use in our cars and trucks" (Export Dot Gov).

Another government site (DOE) used to proclaim the same thing (The Fleets & Terrorism Follow The Oil), but for some reason they took it down.

Anyway, the definition of the word "lifeblood" is: "the blood, considered as essential to maintain life" (Dictionary).

Using the word, as the .gov does, makes it sound like the U.S. economy, and hence the nation, is dead without oil.

Meanwhile, and to the contrary, other government and scientific reports indicate that if we keep using "the lifeblood" we will become dead (Are We Riding Out The Sixth Mass Extinction?, The Real Dangers With Microbes & Viruses, Civilization Is Now On Suicide Watch - 4).

So, is the notion "oil is lifeblood but using oil is destroying us" a conundrum, a predicament, a paradox, or all three?
(Petroleum Civilization: The Final Chapter (Confusing Life with Death)). Extracting then using the oil that is now in the ground will pollute Petroleum Civilization to death, but not using it will drain the lifeblood from Petroleum Civilization.

The compelling part of the equation is this: since the people of Petroleum Civilization must live on and survive, the exercise is one of giving a blood transfusion to Petroleum Civilization (Do We Need A Blood Transfusion?) so that it becomes Humane Civilization.

Non-polluting fuels are available with which to replace the "lifeblood" that is paradoxically killing us (e.g. A Methanol Economy Way Out of Here, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).

A serious glitch is that psychopathic governments do not get this medical information and do not want to go to the doctor, i.e., the danger does not compute with them:
As you read this, a monster of a bill is passing smoothly and quietly through Britain’s parliament. It’s so big and complex, and covers so many topics, that it makes a mockery of democracy.

The infrastructure bill epitomises the rising trend of legislation-stuffing: cramming so many unrelated issues into one bag that parliamentary votes become meaningless. MPs must either accept this great bundle of unrelated measures in its entirety or reject it in its entirety. So laws can pass which no one in their right mind would have voted for.

Bills like this are good places for burying bad news, and this one is a graveyard.

Among its outrageous and scarcely-debated provisions, slipped in by the government some time after parliamentary debates began, is a measure that undermines every claim it has made about preventing dangerous climate change. It is a legal obligation on current and future governments to help trash the world’s atmosphere.

The government already has a legal obligation to do the opposite. The Climate Change Act 2008, supported by all the major parties, commits successive governments to minimise the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. The Infrastructure Act 2015 will commit successive governments to maximise them.

Needless to say, that’s not quite how it is expressed. The bill obliges governments to produce strategies for “maximising the economic recovery of UK petroleum”: in other words for getting as much oil out of the ground as possible. Oil is extracted to be burnt; burning it releases greenhouse gases; maximising recovery means maximising greenhouse gases.
(George Monbiot, emphasis added; cf. When You Are Governed By Psychopaths - 2). This is the classic "damned if you do and damned if you don't" predicament on steroids.

The problem is academically simple, but the solution is currently unattainable considering our current group-addiction psychology (Carbon Counterattack, How Oil-Qaeda Is Responding to the Anti-Carbon Movement, cf. Phases Of An Empire Freezing To Death - 2).

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

The Cost of Freedom is: leaving oil in the ground ...

Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Matrix of Plunder - 4

In the previous post we talked about how the old congress attacked pensions of workers and retired people in a serious way (& Mr. Preznit "compromised").

The new congress (led by the right-wing) on its first day in office, opened up an attack on the Social Security System, which is insurance purchased by Americans with funds withheld from their pay-checks.

Not only that, this attack is mounted against disabled Americans, those who are the most vulnerable:
As one of its first orders of business upon convening Tuesday, the Republican House of Representatives approved a rule that will seriously undermine efforts to keep all of Social Security solvent.

The rule hampers an otherwise routine reallocation of Social Security payroll tax income from the old-age program to the disability program. Such a reallocation, in either direction, has taken place 11 times since 1968, according to Kathy Ruffing of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

But it's especially urgent now, because the disability program's trust fund is expected to run dry as early as next year. At that point, disability benefits for 11 million beneficiaries would have to be cut 20%. Reallocating the income, however, would keep both the old-age and disability programs solvent until at least 2033, giving Congress plenty of time to assess the programs' needs and work out a long-term fix.

The procedural rule enacted by the House Republican caucus prohibits the reallocation unless it's accompanied by "benefit cuts or tax increases that improve the solvency of the combined trust funds," as paraphrased by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

In practical terms, the advocacy committee says, that makes the reallocation impossible; it mandates either benefit cuts across the board, which aren't politically palatable, or a payroll tax increase, which isn't palatable to the GOP.
(On Day One, emphasis added). The congressional cowards who did this are also bullies who learned their wickedness from their spiritual mentors who are bereft of the traditional American conscience.

The next thing they want to do is cut taxes for the 1%, the extremely wealthy plutocrats:
"Republicans today are extending their embrace of voodoo economics by wrapping their arms around voodoo scorekeeping.

They are changing House rules to be able to cook the books to implement their long-held, discredited notion that tax cuts pay for themselves.

I think that former Reagan and George H. W. Bush administration official Bruce Bartlett said it best: 'It is not about honest revenue-estimating; it's about using smoke and mirrors to institutionalize Republican ideology into the budget process.'

That's what this is all about." -(NPR)

Call it the Brownback effect.

Republicans once idolized Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback as a tax cutting superstar — now he’s a lesson in what not to do.

“It’s a cautionary tale on a national scale … Many of us felt that [Kansas] had been too aggressive,” said Indiana Senate Majority Leader and tax committee chairman Brandt Hershman, who helped GOP Gov. Mike Pence cut corporate taxes last spring. “We all like low taxes … but we have to ensure the stability of a revenue stream to provide basic services that our citizens expect.” -(GOP Doesn't Learn From Sam Brownback's Tax Debacle)
They also want to pass the Oil-Qaeda inspired Keystone XL pipeline bill:
One of the first pieces of legislation on the calendar for the new Congress would give a green light to the Keystone XL oil pipeline. It's been held up by court challenges and a regulatory review for more than six years. Backers hope to change that through legislation, but the White House is threatening a veto ...
(Keystone XL Pipeline Gets Another Chance With New Congress). So much for "responsible governing" by a whiny, gerrymandered group that got fewer votes than their opponents (House Democrats got more votes than House Republicans, Senate Democrats got 20 million more votes than Senate Republicans).

Next, they will try to destroy efforts to bring down green house gases to help all of civilization.

Which is exactly as Dredd Blog expected (Oil-Qaeda Wins Big - 2).

The previous post in this series is here.

Irrationality within the cultural trance ...

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

On The Origin of Genieology

The Selfish Genie: "I've got this."
What your daddy and mommy were taught about genetics, like most oldskool mommy and daddy skoolin', is wrong.

Don't feel bad, Charles Darwin knew nothing of genes, yet said he knew all about how we got here.

He had a lot of genies to help, though.

But now, the age of conflating genies with genes is over, however, the new genetic reality is not yet catching on well enough.

So, today we will review the difference between the understanding during "early genetics" (The Eugenics Review Vols. 1 to 60; 1909 to 1968) with the current state of affairs for understanding genetics (The Uncertain Gene, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10).

Once upon a selfish gene ("The Selfish Gene" age) in a discipline long ago, genes
Feeling exceptional?
were thought to be genies in the sense of being able to draw the map of your everything.

Determinism (genetic essentialism) on steroids, as it were, taking you along for the virtual magic carpet ride.

Everyone was unique with an "isn't that special" set of genies down under the hood, genies that were like Jack's magic beans, which took you and everyone else up, up, up, rapturously along their own special, unique Highway 61, to selfish gene heaven.

That is, if you had a special gene maker genie who was selfish enough, but if not, well then it's Eugenics for you.

Then came the Human Genome Project, those damn scientists, who wrecked the daydream with this:
More problematic is the reality that the human genome is still a vast catalogue of the unknown and scarcely known. The Human Genome Project’s most startling finding was that human genes, as currently defined, make up less than 2 percent of all the DNA on the genome, and that the total number of genes is relatively small. Scientists had predicted there might be 80,000 to 140,000 human genes, but the current tally is fewer than 25,000 — as one scientific paper put it, somewhere between that of a chicken and a grape. The remaining 98 percent of our DNA, once dismissed as “junk DNA,” is now taken more seriously. Researchers have focused on introns, in the gaps between the coding segments of genes, which may play a crucial role in regulating gene expression, by switching them on and off in response to environmental stimuli.
(One Man's Junk Gene Is Another Man's Treasure Gene?). What do you mean ... human genes fit somewhere between "a chicken and a grape" (What's Eating Gilbert Grape?).

Then, along came two real insults to our trek up the stairway the genie had promised.

The first was that we are really buggy, that is, we have more bacterial and viral (microbe) genes than we have "human" genes:
... some 90 percent of the protein-encoding cells in our body are microbes ... 99 percent of the functional genes in the body are microbial ... exchanging messages with genes inside human cells ... microbes cohabitating our body outnumber human cells by a factor of 10, making us actually “superorganisms” that use our own genetic repertoire as well as those of our microbial symbionts ... We just happen to look human because our human cells are much larger than bacterial cells ... no matter how you look at it, it’s high time we acknowledge that part of being human is being microbial ...

Microbes may indeed be subtly changing our brain early on — and for what purposes we cannot yet say ... the mere fact that microorganisms can shape our minds brings up many more questions about how humans develop their identity ... these findings call for a complete re-examination of human physiology and immunology. Attributes that were assumed to be human traits have been shown to result from human–microbe interactions.

Some would say that genomics has been able to distil some humility into humankind. The finalised version of the human genome deprived us of the illusion that we are one of the most complex creatures on Earth — an illusion that was at the basis of some guesses that Homo sapiens was expected to have at least 100,000 genes. When we look at a table of genomes by species, and specifically at the number of genes that have been counted or estimated for each species, we notice that humans are surpassed by several plants and invertebrates.
(The Human Microbiome Congress). Now we're pissed: first we find our gene count is somewhere between a chicken and a grape, and next we find out that several plants and spineless wormy things have more genes than we do!

To top it off, our genetic make-up is not even guaranteed to be unique to us, or to be the same during our entire lifetime:
From biology class to “C.S.I.,” we are told again and again that our genome is at the heart of our identity. Read the sequences in the chromosomes of a single cell, and learn everything about a person’s genetic information — or, as 23andme, a prominent genetic testing company, says on its Web site, “The more you know about your DNA, the more you know about yourself.”

But scientists are discovering that — to a surprising degree — we contain genetic multitudes. Not long ago, researchers had thought it was rare for the cells in a single healthy person to differ genetically in a significant way. But scientists are finding that it’s quite common for an individual to have multiple genomes. Some people, for example, have groups of cells with mutations that are not found in the rest of the body. Some have genomes that came from other people.

Medical researchers aren’t the only scientists interested in our multitudes of personal genomes. So are forensic scientists. When they attempt to identify criminals or murder victims by matching DNA, they want to avoid being misled by the variety of genomes inside a single person.

Last year, for example, forensic scientists at the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory Division described how a saliva sample and a sperm sample from the same suspect in a sexual assault case didn’t match.
(The "It's In Your Genes" Myth - 2). "Ghastly to say the least" you may be thinking, but buckle up buckaroo, I am not finished with this episode just yet.

To really genie down our Earth destroying egos, let me finish this post with the knowledge that our genes are not even alive, no, they are molecular machines:
... DNA is chemical compound ... DNA is non-living, because it is a molecule not an organism ... DNA is not living. It is a chemical - a large fragile molecule ... there is no debate in the biological community about this ...

We are involved in a project to incorporate innovative assessments within a reform-based large-lecture biochemistry course for nonmajors. We not only assessed misconceptions but purposefully
DNA molecule is not alive
changed instruction throughout the semester to confront student ideas. Our research questions targeted student conceptions of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) along with understanding in what ways classroom discussions/activities influence student conceptions. Data sources included pre-/post-assessments, semi-structured interviews, and student work on exams/assessments. We found that students held misconceptions about the chemical nature of DNA, with 63% of students claiming that DNA is alive prior to instruction. The chemical nature of DNA is an important fundamental concept in science fields. We confronted this misconception throughout the semester collecting data from several instructional interventions. Case studies of individual students revealed how various instructional strategies/assessments allowed students to construct and demonstrate the scientifically accepted understanding of the chemical nature of DNA. However, the post-assessment exposed that 40% of students still held misconceptions about DNA, indicating the persistent nature of this misconception. Implications for teaching and learning are discussed.
(Putting A Face On Machine Mutation - 4, cf. On the Origin of the Genes of Viruses, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). Yes, those human genes that fit somewhere between "a chicken and a grape" are not even alive.

Hint for Dawkins: neither machines nor genes are selfish, even if genies are:
"We took this approach because so many RNAs are rapidly destroyed soon after they are made, and this makes them hard to detect," Pugh said. "So rather than look for the RNA product of transcription we looked for the 'initiation machine' that makes the RNA. This machine assembles RNA polymerase, which goes on to make RNA, which goes on to make a protein." Pugh added that he and Venters were stunned to find 160,000 of these "initiation machines," because humans only have about 30,000 genes. "This finding is even more remarkable, given that fewer than 10,000 of these machines actually were found right at the site of genes. Since most genes are turned off in cells, it is understandable why they are typically devoid of the initiation machinery."

The remaining 150,000 initiation machines -- those Pugh and Venters did not find right at genes -- remained somewhat mysterious. "These initiation machines that were not associated with genes were clearly active since they were making RNA and aligned with fragments of RNA discovered by other scientists," Pugh said. "In the early days, these fragments of RNA were generally dismissed as irrelevant ["junk"] since they did not code for proteins." Pugh added that it was easy to dismiss these fragments because they lacked a feature called polyadenylation -- a long string of genetic material, adenosine bases -- that protect the RNA from being destroyed. Pugh and Venters further validated their surprising findings by determining that these non-coding initiation machines recognized the same DNA sequences as the ones at coding genes, indicating that they have a specific origin and that their production is regulated, just like it is at coding genes.
(The Uncertain Gene - 3, cf. The New Paradigm: The Physical Universe Is Mostly Machine). Well, well, we don't have to get out the pitchforks and go genie hunting, we still have our denial to fall back on!

Fall back to the genieology (cf. "genetic essentialism --the idea that our genes carry our fundamental essence", here, here, and here)!

More about genieology to come in future posts (so we can all know the difference between genealogy and genieology).

The next post in this series is here.

Various experts on human genetics (the first speaker in the video is Dr. Robert Morris Sapolsky, Professor at Stanford University); (cf. epigenetics)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Symbolic Racism: A Look At The Science - 8

Good Police Chief
Today I want to talk about some interesting cases which illustrate the various ways that people contemplate racism.

These cases illustrate the fact that cultural trances associated with racism are the persistent type of cultural trance (Choose Your Trances Carefully).

The police chief in the photo to the left has an open mind as well as a social conscience.

This is in contrast to the prosecutor in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri.

He sees his job as protecting the government from the people, rather than the other way around.

Perhaps the reason, in addition to his culture induced racism, is Missouri law (Must Be The Season of the Witch).

We may find out more about that in a lawsuit filed against the prosecutor:
One of the members of the grand jury that decided not to indict a Ferguson, Mo., police officer in the Michael Brown shooting has sued the St. Louis
"Black people shot my daddy"
County prosecutor who oversaw the case, St. Louis Public Radio reported Monday.

The St. Louis County grand juror, who is remaining anonymous, alleges that prosecutor Robert McCulloch's "public characterization" of the grand jury does not reflect the juror's own views.

“In [the grand juror]’s view, the current information available about the grand jurors’ views is not entirely accurate — especially the implication that all grand jurors believed that there was no support for any charges,” the lawsuit says, per the news outlet. “Moreover, the public characterization of the grand jurors’ view of witnesses and evidence does not accord with [Doe]’s own.”

The lawsuit asks for an injunction that would allow the juror to speak publicly about the Brown case. The juror is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri.
(Ferguson Grand Juror Sues Michael Brown Prosecutor). The prosecutor, whose father was shot by an African-American man, still has cultural trance circuitry in his brain, imposed on him in his youth and now built into his subconscious.

Some of the old school Jim Crow racism (Blind Willie McTell News) that has wormed its way into Missouri law will now be tested in a federal court.

The judge assigned is District Judge Rodney W. Sippel, the plaintiff is represented by the ACLU of Missouri.

The Plaintiff grand juror alleges that the public statements are not a fair appraisal of what the grand jury believed ("In Plaintiff’s view, the current information available about the grand jurors’ views is not entirely accurate—especially the implication that all grand jurors believed that there was no support for any charges." - Complaint, page 6).

In an ongoing Dredd Blog series it is shown that the militarization of the police has always been a danger to African-Americans, and is now a clear and present danger to all American freedoms (Will The Military Become The Police?, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10).

The recent rebellious attitudes of the NYPD (unlike the Police Chief pictured at the top of the post) are indicative of a recalcitrant force at odds with traditional American values (Police Commissioner Bratton).

They want to cling to their symbolic racism (Symbolic Racism: A Look At The Science - 3).

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