June 05, 2011
Open Thread - June 5
The is one of these days where one starts to write one piece, for example about Yemen where a well aimed mortar round took Saleh out of business, only to discover after hours of research that the place is so complicate that I has no hunch of the possible outcome there.
Then one starts another piece on another issue, changing opinions in Israel on Iran, just to end up in another dead end with nothing sharp to say.
Luckily there is always a resort for a blogger who finds he has nothing to say. Just post another open thread.
Have at it.
Posted by b on June 5, 2011 at 01:48 PM | Permalink
It was a good week in terms of exposing US arrogance and intransigence in its dealings with the smallest, poorest countries on earth. On DemocracyNow, Amy Goodman interviewed deposed President Zelaya, who said that the US ambassador wanted to appoint his cabinet ministers for him. But apparently the shit really hit the fan when Zelaya decided to save his people gobs of money by getting discounted oil from Chavez' PetroCaribe.
The Nation ran an expose talking about how closely the US was following Haiti's decision to join PetroCaribe. It's pretty clear that the State Department acts as little more than a representative of the oil companies. Rather than offering Haiti a better deal than Chavez, the US preferred to stage a coup that will force Haitians to pay higher prices. And the US in now involved in making sure that not only the right president but also the right legislators get "elected" to the new government.
The State Department also got bent out of shape that Haiti would accept energy saving light bulbs from Cuba, saving Haitians lots of money and reducing their imported oil bill.
It's pretty clear that this kind of behavior is common. I remember the incredibly incompetent Condi telling Putin exactly what he needed to do. And this is the default attitude towards Iran--nothing short of full obedience on matters big and small.
The message seems to be that there is nothing too trivial for the State Department to issue demands about. For these bozos, diplomacy has become nothing more than an exercise in authoritarian will power. Picture lots of little John Boltons run amok around the world.
Posted by: JohnH | Jun 5, 2011 3:01:18 PM | 2
only to discover after hours of research that the place is so complicate
that's the most uncommon comment ever heard from a commentator; no wonder neolibs and neocons were so successful, they could reduce every problem in the world to a simple slogan; come on, b, all we need to know is who's Good and who's Evil today in Yemen, and why we haven't bombed the latter yet
Posted by: claudio | Jun 5, 2011 3:33:16 PM | 3
Haven't you been reading AJE lately? Everything is so simple. Libyan rebels: good. NATO no-fly-zone humanitarian operation: good. Syrian protesters: good. Syrian government : evil, evil. Yemen protests: Saleh needs to give his place to the next US/Saudi approved dictator. Bahrain protests : never happened. And the rest of the Arabian monarchies are clearly the most illuminated governments ever. Their piece today about Israel shootings people on the Golan Heights puts the blame on Syria. What a joke. How things changes in a few months ...
BTW, I don't believe in lucky shots that wipe a heavily defended and militarized government. What I have read about the attack, how many (key) people were killed or wounded seems to look closer to more usual narratives of unmanned plane attacks or a suicide bombers rather than one or a few lucky Grads or mortars lobbed over a presidential palace/compound.
There is even an some conspiracionist take on AJE blog:
1 day 6 hours ago - Yemen
Presidential spokesman Ahmed al-Sufi has accused the United States of orchestrating the attack on President Saleh's compound yesterday, saying all signs pointed to American involvement "because of the precision and the timing."
However, a military official said investigators were trying to determine if there was a security breach in the palace guard.
Yemen protests are now just a sideshow. The whole thing has become a fight between regime factions about who becomes the next US/Saudi sponsored puppet. Yemen was already a failed state and a mess of problems encompassing north and south, east and west, 'Al-Qaeda' salafists and weird shias, Saudi Iranian paranoia ...
Posted by: ThePaper | Jun 5, 2011 4:14:17 PM | 4
TED: Filter Bubbles - accidental Internet narcissism?
Posted by: Dr. Wellington Yueh | Jun 5, 2011 5:14:52 PM | 5
2010 EP 2151687
european patent look the place, look the invention. is con E Coli. in Hamburg!
Posted by: an idiot | Jun 5, 2011 6:24:09 PM | 6
Sunday afternoon fun: conspiratorial stuff on DSK and U.S. Gold stocks. Now, I don't believe this at all (the upper echelons at the IMF would have known about this all along, if it were true, and wouldn't have suddenly "reported" it), but there it is. Putin's people having a laugh of some sort...
Posted by: Guthman Bey | Jun 5, 2011 7:33:59 PM | 7
Good: Leftist ex-colonel claims narrow victory over Fujimori daughter in Peru’s presidential runoff
LIMA, Peru — Leftist military man Ollanta Humala claimed victory Sunday night and pledged to honor the free market but put Peruvians first, after unofficial results showed him narrowly winning a bitterly contested presidential runoff against the daughter of disgraced former President Alberto Fujimori.
Humala had promised the poor a greater share of Peru’s mineral and natural wealth and reiterated his vow to convert the Andean nation’s economic bonanza into “the great motor of the social inclusion Peruvians desire.”
Humala won 51.5 percent of the vote against 48.5 percent for Keiko Fujimori with all ballots counted, according to the independent election watchdog Transparencia, whose track record in previous elections is solid.
Posted by: b | Jun 6, 2011 3:06:21 AM | 8
Thanks to all (and b in primis ) for very interesting links. One can't help wondering if Guthman Bey link @7 might not be some (Russian?) speculator's effort to push the price of gold still higher. The filter bubbles link @5 is also extremely interesting: this even prescinding from more quasi-paranoid worries about the "filtering out" of information whose diffusion would be inconvenient to the powerful. But then, is it really paranoid to wonder if major intelligence agencies might have measures in place to keep their dirtier secrets from "going viral", or even to wonder if one has not, on occasion, unwittingly encountered those measures, for example in following up on the squalor of Guantanamo .
Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Jun 6, 2011 4:29:59 AM | 9
Interesting little piece on homeowners who've foreclosed on a bank... B of A foreclosed upon
If only we'd see more of this.
Posted by: DaveS | Jun 6, 2011 7:28:06 AM | 11
somebody @ 10: thanks for the link..interesting. makes one lean towards wishing ghaddafi well.
Posted by: ben | Jun 6, 2011 8:58:41 AM | 12
from truthout .org:
There is a price to pay for speaking the truth. There is a bigger price for living a lie."
-Dr. Cornel West
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Can America's collective economics inform who we are as a people, whereby - through obsessive bean-counting - we sculpt our destiny, tacitly sanctioning the stripping of basic dignity from fellow citizens, the erosion of civil liberties, the evisceration of public education policies, of the arts and humanities, bankrupting entire communities, tarnishing longstanding values of the populace and its self-image, thus ultimately destroying all that was once valuable to society?
For even after the world swooned from the megahype of England's latest royal wedding and the hip, hip, hurrah of President Obama's ordered assassination of Osama bin Laden, a cornucopia of catastrophic socioeconomic horrors - in addition to America's continued unpreparedness for natural disaster - still face this nation: endless war, long-term unemployment, swelling prison populations and multiple years of record-breaking home foreclosures.
Posted by: ben | Jun 6, 2011 9:38:08 AM | 13
Because we are living in an information age where we view everything around us through the lens of ones and zeroes, whether they are quantum or not, many of us have come to believe that we are living in some sort of digital universe. Something very similar happened at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Back then, many of us came to believe that we are living in some sort of mechanical universe because we viewed everything around us through the lens of gears, cogs, levers, and pistons. But needless to say, the likelihood of our universe being a giant computer spitting out reams and reams of data from the Big Bang to the present is about as likely as it being a giant steam engine pushing and pulling galaxies and stars around as though they were helpless puppets on a string.
Barack Obama must also believe we are living in a universe that operates much like a giant computer. Otherwise, he wouldn't be using cyberattacks as a pretext to wage wars on countries that defy the American Empire. If he knew that it's rather naive and childish to believe that we are living in a digital universe, he would know that the vast majority of cyber crimes are committed by individuals or groups of individuals who don't have ties to any particular country or nation-state. In fact, most cyber criminals tend to be anarchists who prefer to remain stateless.
And while I don't object to using taxpayer dollars to protect our public property from cyberattacks, especially our nuclear warheads, I strongly object to using taxpayer dollars to protect private property from these or other kinds of attacks. Using public funds to protect private enterprises is a flagrant example of crony capitalism. Don't get me wrong, I'd be mad as hell if my water or electricity were turned off by a group of computer hackers and I'd be out for blood if they cleaned out my bank account. As long as our banks and most of utility companies remain privately owned, Uncle Sam has no business paying for their cyber protection. But believe me, the day that our nuclear arsenal becomes privatized and handed over to the likes of Blackwater or Lockheed is the day that our empire goes up in a mushroom cloud.
Posted by: Cynthia | Jun 6, 2011 1:59:21 PM | 15
JohnH, here is some more good news for those living in Central America, at least for the ones who are struggling to resist the American Empire: "El Salvadoran Government & Social Movements Say No to Monsanto"
But I have my doubts that this will remain good news, simply because it's very hard for any third-world country to resist being robbed and exploited by Corporate America. So look to see the CIA-backed jackals orchestrate a military coup to overthrow El Salvador’s democratically-elected government and replace it with a dictatorial regime that serves as a yes-man puppet to Monsanto and other American corporations. But hopefully the people of El Salvador will escape from being robbed and exploited by the plutocratic sociopaths at Monsanto due to the CIA and its jackals being stretched to the limit conducting Obama’s secret wars and his astro-turf rebellions in Libya and other countries throughout the Muslim World, making it a cakewalk for Corporate America, led by its biggest banks, to turn the Muslim people into debt slaves, exploit them for cheap labor, and rob them of their natural resources.
Posted by: Cynthia | Jun 6, 2011 3:44:56 PM | 16
Mexico Corn Contamination: How Monsanto & University of California Tried to Silence Dr. Ignacio Chapela
So essentially, Quist and Chapela reached two conclusions. The first was that GM contamination had occurred in Mexican maize and the second was that the GM DNA seemed to be randomly fragmented in the genome of the maize. If the first point was contentious, the second was explosive, as it suggested that transgenic DNA was not stable. Quist and Chapela knew that if the research was published it would cause an international outcry, so they wanted to make sure that their research was correct. The biotech industry had hardly recovered from the StarLink scandal in the USA, and GM contamination of Mexican maize would represent a 'nightmare' scenario for the industry. 
Good that El Salvador said no, but it may not matter what they say. Thanks for the link, though. It's at least a little bit of sunshine! :)
Posted by: Dr. Wellington Yueh | Jun 6, 2011 5:58:47 PM | 17
Rick Bookstaber. You may, or may not have heard of him. Former money manager, risk manager at Salomon/Citi, one of the few people, who correctly and in detail analyzed the pre-crisis financial system and its frailties before it blew up, currently working for the SEC. His blog is always worth reading. Here he postulates an increasing paradigm shift, as the virtual economy gains ground over the materialist, 'thingy' one:
The real paradigm shift, or more like a paradigm drift, because it is slowly enveloping us, is that we are moving toward preferences and lifestyle where we will simply consume less. A lot less. Like improvements in efficiency, changes in tastes and preferences are nothing new, but this time is different.
I have already discussed this in previous posts on life in the experience machine and the world of smaller scale. In The Accidental Egalitarian I make the point that with the increased focus on technology – where we spend more and more of our time on our cell phone, doing emails, watching DVDs and surfing the web – there is less of a difference between how the super rich and the reasonably well off spend their time hour by hour during their typical days. The point of that post is that in practical terms the income gap is not as large as it might seem; that several orders of magnitude differences in income don’t make all that much difference in what these people do with their time. The point here is a corollary: those activities do not require much in the way of material consumption, and therefore not much in terms of commodities.
In The Technology-Driven Consumption Trap I argue that in the not-so-distant future the main items we will demand, beyond food, clothing and shelter, are “game systems” that approach the level of Nozick’s experience machine, allowing us to have the experience of being anyone we want, wherever we want (even in a world we have designed), accompanied by whomever we want, all in Realicta Immersion 3-D® with full sensory feedback.
Our demand for housing and transportation, two of the biggest commodity hogs, will be lower. McMansions will be totally passe. It should already be dawning on people that most all of our non-sleeping hours at home are spent in the kitchen and its adjacent family room. Living rooms and dining rooms are relics. When people internalize the fact that they spend most of their non-sleeping, non-bathroom, non-eating time in a ten by twelve foot space with their various experience machine prototypes, large homes will, by and large, go the way of cars with fins and chrome.
We obviously will not need to drive around as much, given that so much of what we want is delivered to us electromagnetically. And, getting back to real goods and technological advances, if we take the web-based distribution a few steps further, rather than having thousands of cars running from one store to the next, a couple of delivery trucks will ply the streets. So per-capita consumption of energy and resource-intensive infrastructure will decrease.
Given our evolved interests a few decades hence, most of us will be spending a fraction of our income on consumption. There just won't be a lot that we will demand that requires nonrenewable resources. What we will demand will be in the way of electronic products, which will only consume a few ounces of such commodities. We will basically eat, sleep, work and then veg out. Give us food, plumbing, heat and our two-hundred dollar experience machine games, and we will be happy as a clam.
People who are staring at a tsunami of demand for commodities from the developing world and predicting a doomsday of $400 oil and $4000 gold are missing the longer-term retreating tide of demand as citizens of the developed world actually demand decreasing amounts of energy, large goods, and heavy infrastructure. We won't be packing up and moving to Mars, as the science fiction solutions to resource depletion propose. We will pack up and move into the virtual world.
Posted by: Guthman Bey | Jun 6, 2011 9:57:13 PM | 18
Al Giordano's Narco News site frequently has worthwhile material, especially reports like this one from Bill Conroy. There seems to be enough documentation here to take such reporting out of the realm of "conspiracy theory" and into that of attested fact. Those facts, however, suggest many conjectures and cry out for further analysis. An open and detailed discussion of these matters by other well-informed and independent observers would be of great interest. The continuing political evolution of the Americas over the last decade is, I think, one of the major under-reported stories of our time, an on-going "Latin Spring" which has been largely ignored by the Gringos.
Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Jun 7, 2011 1:42:26 AM | 19
Guthman Bey as globally we are talking about the consumption of food, about housing, education and medical care, I think that analysis, though fun, is ethnocentric at best.
It probably is also upper class as I do know a lot of people do not move out of their town, in the big cities not even out of the area they live in, at least in Europe. Basically the time spent in the internet will be taken from television, newspapers, books and conversation.
The internet makes it a lot easier to live in the countryside without a car, however the trend for some reason, in Germany at least, is to move back to the cities.
Posted by: somebody | Jun 7, 2011 2:02:35 AM | 20
Recently a glossy magazine dedicated to super-yachts landed on the front desk here. Based on the content of this rather disturbing publication I can say with conviction that the lifestyle and leisure pursuits of the ultra-wealthy vs the "rest of us" show no sign of converging, quite the reverse. The mag was replete with ads for six-figure jewelled watches and gushing "travel review" recommendations for $5000/night (and up) hotel suites, not to mention the super-yachts (for sale and hire) featured throughout. One article began "In a growing trend, many super-yacht owners are choosing to decorate their vessels with original artwork, including collectible masterpieces. Find out why..."
Sorry Guthman, but I think that the virtual world is what's being fed to the plebes to console us for never having a snowball's chance of consuming at elite rates in the very, very Thingy economy inhabited by inherited wealth. Virtual reality as the opiate of the masses.
Here's a charming little article on the challenges of marketing to the ultra-wealthy.
Posted by: DeAnander | Jun 7, 2011 2:13:53 AM | 21
I'm afraid of where the virtual fantasy world might end. It's probably a place where the food and water are dropped through a slot in the door. It could be a tent or a plastic-coated cardboard box. It could be the new way to incarcerate people, inside a bubble, with their naked psyches and a fantasy experience into which they can disappear. They can colonize Mars in their minds without having to venture outside the cubicle. Per capita consumption will go down, birthrates decline, literacy will crumble. Robots will build robots, and second-hand robots will feed and service the humans encapsulated in cyber fantasy. "Poppies will make them sleep."
There is video of chimps I've seen, where the tactile feel of objects made from plastic completely engrosses them. I've also noticed my own compulsive habit of taking the cellphone out of my pocket to check the time maybe fifty times a day. I see the kids bonded to those devices, playing those games where they punch the keys with their thumbs, withdrawing to a place where they see nothing that surrounds them. There are tsunamis, wars, flood, follies, and crimes of greed that arise with force to break down the brittle world of fantasy. Tender feelings and raw experience reminds us that we are indeed part of one interconnected web of life.
The idea that these cyber fantasy realms give the rich and poor something in common is amusing, but doesn't make up for the disparity, really.
Posted by: Copeland | Jun 7, 2011 2:16:06 AM | 22
More confirmation than the attack on Saleh wasn't a just a 'lucky' strike. The guy is out of the picture, a direct hit, he is basically half dead.
Sources: Yemeni president Saleh has collapsed lung, burns over 40%
And the narrative of the 'lucky' rocket hit is going away. How much time until the narrative changes again and 'Al Qaeda' is blamed too?
According to Western diplomats, the attack came from a bomb. Yemeni investigations are "focusing on what happened inside the mosque," not a rocket or mortar attack, the diplomats said Monday. One diplomat said the bombing was not a suicide bombing and that the Yemeni investigation "is still ongoing."
Posted by: ThePaper | Jun 7, 2011 4:01:12 AM | 23
That virtual New Brave World sounds as justification for not reducing the increasing divergence between the haves and not haves. You are already living quite OK so why bother with better distribution of the world resources and production. I guess some Roman Slavist landowner was justifying their way of life the same way two thousand years ago.
Posted by: ThePaper | Jun 7, 2011 4:57:23 AM | 24
A new film "Lifting the veil - Barack Obama and the failure of capitalist 'democracy' " available online
The first 10-20 minutes with all the broken Obama promises is already frightening ...
Posted by: b | Jun 7, 2011 7:57:48 AM | 25
Yes b, the Metanoia film "Lifting the veil" is a must see, for those who believe the "One world gov." theory. It describes the U.S. Gov. to a tee.
Posted by: ben | Jun 7, 2011 9:19:13 AM | 26
Thanks for the story on marketing to the super wealthy. I'm not sure what I got out of the thing, but I'm sure there is something festering deep within myself that soon will come to a head.
Like the time I went furniture shopping with a wealthy ex girlfriend and her mother and found the rich live differently than others. Shopping for furnishings opened my eyes to the real difference between the classes.
A little of my background so you can understand how that shopping experience changed my world view... My father loved wood and was a pretty decent woodworker and during one vacation we stopped in Mendocino to see the art galleries – several that specialize in wooden furniture/art – and he took the time to explain to the teenage me how these items were heirloom built and why such craftsmanship was important and valuable. A few years after that trip I spent the better part of the year living in my VW microbus and working in San Francisco, taking the time to visit as many museums and galleries as I could. I looked at French antiques from the 17th and 18th century, an amazing display of Ming Dynasty furniture that could be easily broken down Ikea-like and moved between the emperor's homes as well as the work of modern craftspeople. I came to truly understand why some furnishings are used for 100s of years while most of the crap we buy at Walmart has about a month before it become fodder for trash day.
And now back to richy-rich furniture shopping at an exclusive showroom somewhere between Denver and Boulder where I'm sitting in a leather recliner that is built like a brick shithouse. I believe it was even a Lazyboy, but not built like any of the ones I've ever sat-in before; it moved smooth as silk between sitting and reclining and I was surprised nothing moved that wasn't supposed to – you know that side to side rocking of the footrest most recliners have... Sigh, I'm becoming lost in the details of that day which, fifteen years later, is still stuck in my mind.
I don't think I looked at one chair, table or vanity that wasn't built to last the bare minimum of 30 years, and more likely 50 or more years without any functionality issues. Some of the stainless and glass crap would go out of style and be in some frat house long before it would have any mechanical problems. I realized one of the ways the rich stay rich is by buying things that were of such high quality they'd have them forever (probably why they need so many freakin' homes). The cost of buying this quality was about double for a high-end recliner ($1500-$2000, 1996 prices) and when I thought about it, this seemed a real deal. I have an ancient leather thrift store bought chair I've been lugging around since 1994 that is in need of love, but remains comfortable and is still rocklike sturdy in its frame. I like hanging on to things. I hate how quickly most of the stuff I love, I love to death. The exceptions are the items that are built heirloom/workhorse tough: Nikons, Hysides which are rafts... hell most of my outdoor gear is topnotch, this could explain my financial poverty ;) on the other hand, most of my tools are crap because I don't care that much about working on cars and the such, even though I grew-up using my dad's Snap On tools which feel like part of your hand.
I think one of the profound ways the world has changed is that we've slowly allowed ourselves to become feed trough consumers, happy to buy crap just to satisfy our need to buy. We've been trained to think only of ourselves and our personal needs. We're programed to attempt fulfill our every desire instantly, regardless of the cost to ourselves or those around us. In the process, we've cheapened everything about human life. We accept that crap breaks, we even expect it to happen, and we don't care because when it does it allows us to buy a new thing that might be even flashier. Oooh, Ahh.
Unfortunately Americans have been socialized to feel the same way about people; that they're basically disposable unless they can provide us with immediate pleasure which doesn't require either thought or effort on our part. I am sometimes amazed when I realize how bamboozled most folks are by our minders, until I remember how I was like them not too long ago. And maybe I still am, but now I'm being bamboozled by something else? Sigh...
Consumerism is poverty. Poverty of mind, soul and species.
Posted by: DaveS | Jun 7, 2011 10:07:03 AM | 27
Interesting how open the Guardian's economics editor is speculation about the Decline and fall of the American empire
The feeble response to today's growth medicine suggests that the US is structurally far weaker than it was in the 1930s. Tackling these weaknesses will require breaking finance's stranglehold over the economy and measures to boost ordinary families' spending power and so cut their reliance on debt. It will require an amnesty for the housing market. Above all, America must rediscover the qualities that originally made it great. That will not be easy.
Posted by: b | Jun 7, 2011 10:44:20 AM | 28
Texas is so parched and dusty that the people there are screaming out, begging God to deliver them a fat, juicy hurricane. And if God can't deliver on this, Neil Young will:
Recall that this is the guy who invented grunge rock without even trying. I suppose this is what being a natural is all about.
Posted by: Cynthia | Jun 7, 2011 3:40:45 PM | 30
In my experience, which is admittedly slim, the super rich have no interest in fantasy worlds, games, virtual reality, etc. For several reasons.
Most important, they are a minority group who live very much amongst themselves, closed off from the rest of the world. They resemble a sect, whose members interact heavily with each other, and don’t traffic much with information that comes from outside, e.g. education, books, computers, etc. Therefore, part of their distrust and dislike for the ‘internets’, their attempts to uphold royalties, copyrights, point to its dangers, etc. The Queen of England doesn’t send e mails!
Their leisure activities and interests are pointed to concrete things, furniture was mentioned above, see also all luxury items, art, jewels, etc.
When not consuming or being spectators but acting, a few expensive sports are indulged in. They don’t play games after the age of 20, casino only for fun. They are replicating the life of potentates, royals, of old, and that holds more strongly for Western ones than say Chinese or Brazilian ones, for whom ‘modernity’ has more of a grip. Lastly, concerning non-fantasy information processing or computer capacity, it is of no use or interest. Minions obey their commands. They are, however, potty about cell phones.
So, in an odd way, they also resemble the world’s poor who have, or want, first of all, just one thing - a cell phone. if they have that, they can by-pass the computer.
Neither the rich or poor play World of Warcraft or have ever even heard of it - reality is either too gripping or too challenging. Both groups also watch some, or a lot of television (except for those who have no access to it at all.)
I’ve painted with a hugely broad brush, and left out socio-speak about social, financial, educational capital - my point is that the piece by Bookstaber is also very class bound - it is a middle class pov.
When he states:
there is less of a difference between how the super rich and the reasonably well off spend their time hour by hour during their typical days. The point of that post is that in practical terms the income gap is not as large as it might seem; that several orders of magnitude differences in income don’t make all that much difference in what these people do with their time ...
he is completely mistaken, or he is not talking about the same super rich as me, and limits himself to the US.
Finally, when he writes we are moving toward preferences and lifestyle where we will simply consume less that may be true ‘par la force des choses’, but it won’t be through choice, nor because we will be slipping further into a cyber-existence.
Bookstaber is indulging in a common technotopic fantasy.
Posted by: Noirette | Jun 7, 2011 5:25:19 PM | 31
I think there's a reason why that technotopic fantasy is being purveyed. The superwealthy have become fairly unsubtle in their methods of accumulation, and resources are tight enough (and planetary communications rapid enough) that more people are (if they have the attention span) able to connect the dots. Hence, unrest, dissatisfaction, strange redirections of hostility, simmerings of the class resentment and appetite for justice or redistribution that elites fear above all else.
So it's very important for the elites to continue to preach the dogma of Infinite Growth (you'll all get yours someday, you don't need to have any of Mine) plus the joys of a virtual existence (immerse yourself in fantasy, please, while in the real world your masters do whatever they wish in the world of actual physical reality without your interference or resistance). Increasingly people have been trained to forego (or even despise) what is real, authentic, etc in favour of cheaper, ersatz substitutes. Margarine for butter, but on a grand culture-wide scale. We can all live, not like kings, but like some kind of cardboard-cutout play set of kingly living: we can eat meat every day, but it will be chemical and hormone saturated factory beef. We can have dessert with every meal, but it will be made of the reprocessed byproducts of the industrial food system. We can have a huge wardrobe, but it will be cheap clothing that falls apart after a year or two. We can have 24x7 entertainment, but 90 percent of it will be banal crap and almost 100 percent of it will be propaganda for the consumer culture. And so on.
The immortal James Tiptree Jr (nom de plume of Alice Sheldon) wrote about this vicarious/virtual lifestyle marketing in a tragic tale, "The Girl Who Was Plugged In." Worth a read.
Next: in virtual reality, you'll be able to furnish your imaginary trophy home with imaginary goods (which given current trends will cost real money to purchase online). You'll be able to stroll through Googled virtual environments on a virtual vacation any time, any downtown area on earth. You'll be able to have realistic cybersex with remote or wholly artificial "partners". You'll be able to push a button and get instant "sort of" food in any flavour or colour (all of which will be synthetic, of course). You'll be able to play elaborate war games with remarkably convincing rendering detail, in VR worlds large enough to explore for months or years. Some of them, not coincidentally, will train you on actual weapons systems used by your own military to defend and extend the accumulation of your masters.
What you won't be able to do, ever again, is go for a walk through a healthy forest or on an open prairie, swim in (let alone drink from) an unpolluted stream, lake, or near-shore waters, eat real food that is anything like fresh or nutritious, perform music in a public space, keep any possession for more than a few months (they will all wear out or become "obsolete" w/in a year), spend even one day without being exposed to advertising, or opt out of the system. You won't be able to grow your own food (maybe it will be illegal, since by then all food crops will be contaminated with patented genes). You won't be able to do a whole raft of things. (In Orlando Fla this week, 3 people were arrested for distributing food to the homeless. Earlier this year, several people were arrested for dancing in public (at the Jefferson Memorial). There have been attempts to arrest and detain people for taking photographs in public places; in several states, agribiz is trying to pass laws making it illegal to photograph any aspect of their factory farms. Nibble, nibble, nibble at the scope and nature of actions a citizen is allowed to undertake.) But you won't care, because in virtual reality (AKA adolescent fantasy) you can be and do anything, no limits, no restraints.
Welcome to Walter Mittyville, or Mittystan, or whatever we want to call it. Fantasy Island.
This is the world that Bookstaber seems to think is good news. Doesn't look like good news to me... But it could easily become the "new normal" and old fogeys like me could be dismissed as fantasists and sentimentalists when we remember some of the satisfactions of a physical-world life. Ah, those old farts, always on about "outdoors" -- rivers and trees and hiking and fresh fruit and veg and BS like that, as if getting cold and wet and bitten by icky bugs could possibly be fun. Dirt? Weather? Food that doesn't come wrapped in gleaming plastic? Eee-yew! Why ride your bike across town and through the park, when you could just ride your stationary bike with your VR headset on and enjoy far more spectacular scenery in perfect safety?
People used to feel envy of the younger generation because they would grow up to "see wonders" that the old folks were going to miss. I feel increasingly sorry for the younger generation because they seem likely to miss so much of what we once took for granted -- they seem so likely to spend their lives like those chimps, endlessly fascinated by the slick texture of plastic, compulsively interacting with pocket devices, never looking up or around. Already I've seen hikers in the woods staring at their GPS screen the whole time as they walk, not sparing a glance for tree, lake, meadow, flower, fungus, fauna. Eerie. Scary too -- or is it just me that finds this disturbing?
Posted by: DeAnander | Jun 7, 2011 6:51:25 PM | 32
Monetary policy is geared towards enriching Wall Street, while fiscal policy is geared towards enriching Main Street. And since most jobs are created on Main Street, fiscal policy should be the drug on choice to combat unemployment.
This is why I'm not a big believer in using monetary policy to combat unemployment, especially when unemployment becomes as steep and as prolonged as it is today. But I am a big believer in using psychedelic rock to combat insanity, even if it causes you to become Comfortably Numb:
Posted by: Cynthia | Jun 7, 2011 7:20:24 PM | 33
virtual reality for the "proles"? not completely new
popular all-time voluntary pastimes - pornography, lottery, alcohol - which are also the control techniques listed in "1984", don't they all represent a search for a virtual reality to live in?
what's really new this time is that:
1)we are approaching the ultimate dream: a "real" virtual reality!
2)meanwhile, as DeAnander says, the real reality slowly fades away
Posted by: claudio | Jun 7, 2011 8:08:09 PM | 34
Real reality... unreal reality... in any case: the point is that the real is becoming less and less tangible, much less materialistic. I think the man is very definitely onto something.
Posted by: Guthman Bey | Jun 7, 2011 8:36:31 PM | 35
this is the post that didnt past muster with the admin of asiansentinel
we know what u've been up to, asshole [thats u, philip bowring]
this is just the tip of the iceberg
it'd take a 5000 pages book to detail the anglos crimes against chinese,
dating back all the way to the
n the burning of yuan ming yuen
the japs had at least *apologise* for their sins, well kinda.
all roads lead to rome
[note how the sobs unseemly haste to squash a murder case of 2 of
their own kind, just so they could get the indons on board to form an anti
*We certainly do not exclude any unattributable propaganda or psywar
[psychological warfare] activities which would contribute to weakening
the PKI permanently. We therefore agree with the [above]
recommendation… Suitable propaganda themes might be… Chinese
interference in particular arms shipments; PKI subverting Indonesia as
agents of foreign communists*
[one of cia's greatest hit, removing sukarno n liquidating 3m *commies*,
mostly peasants n ethnic chinese]
they just cant help being assholes , trying to instigate another
*liquidation* of the hans again?
*The carrier Shi Lang will surely add to that awareness. Meanwhile one
tide has turned in favor of the Malays/Austronesians which may ultimately
count for more than weaponry – demography. The Han Chinese
population, so long the main driver of expansion of the Chinese state, is
peaking out. The Malays’ and Austronesians’ numbers are still growing*
*The Han Chinese population, so long the main driver of expansion of
the chinese state* ?
is this what they teach in them anglo schools ?
i am no chinese history *expert* but i happen to know that the peaks of
chinese expansion occured during the rule of the mongols n manchus.
mind u, there are a whole lot more such *chinese history buffs* where
bowring comes from,
they'd tell u why tw *never was a part of china* or *tibet should be
independent* blah blah blah, while they are busy acquiring more colonies
under that sick *humanitarian* mantra, from diego garcia, kosovo,
afghan, iraq, libya n beyond.
i see bowring think that native americans *cant turn back the clock 200
yrs* so they might just as well resign to their fate, boozing n rotting in the
but these anglo *hr crusaders* figure tibet, xinjiang, mongol etc etc ,
which were part of china before the anglos' brutal descension upon north
america, should be independent ?
what fucking assholes
Posted by: denk | Jun 7, 2011 8:53:21 PM | 36
I feel the same, Claudio. Virtual reality is usurping the real reality in just about every aspect of our society, including our economy. You see this in the way Wall Street has become so disconnected from Main Street that it’s no longer true that profits on Wall Street translates into profits on Main Street. In fact, this disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street has become so severe that it’s turning America into a land of plutocrats and plebs with nothing in between.
And it's my opinion that the Federal Reserve is largely responsible for this disconnect. Ben Bernanke firing up the printing press to warp speed, cranking out billions in free money to the big banks, is not only causing oil and other commodity prices to rocket to the moon, but it’s also causing the stock market to break loose from all things that are real and growth producing about our economy, where it’s now living in its own little bubble world, just one needle prick away from going pop!
Ground Control to Major Tom
Your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Posted by: Cynthia | Jun 7, 2011 9:24:57 PM | 37
Sombunall of the super-rich don't need World of Warcraft 'cause they get to buy ans sell real weapons and destroy the lives of real people.
Posted by: catlady | Jun 8, 2011 10:33:06 AM | 38
I know that it's just a bunch of public-spirited citizens getting together to network and schmooze (or at least so one is lead to believe), but once again the Bilderber season is upon us. If nothing else, the invitation list (here from 2010) is a handy scorecard for detecting rising stars and fallen angels in the Euro-American branch of the international elite establishment. This year Daniel Strauss-Kahn will not be able to attend, but, if the conspiracy theorists can be believed there will be some interesting topics on the agenda . Even paranoids have some real enemies, and although I try to restrain my fantasies, I am unable to view these meetings as "fundamentally benign". Agreed, it's desirable that various national elites get acquainted and talk about their differences, but I tend to think that the kind of loose coordination that emerges from such meetings is not always (if ever) to the advantage of citizens at large.
Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Jun 8, 2011 12:00:02 PM | 39
Nothing new, of course, but we torture children...
WikiLeaks cables reveal more juveniles detained at Guantanamo Bay than U.S. claimed
An investigation of Detainee Assessment Briefs (DAB) and other classified documents published by WikiLeaks reveals that fifteen juveniles were detained at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, three more than the U.S. State Department publicly acknowledged.
The University of California Davis Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas reported that the number of children imprisoned at Guantanamo is almost twice as many as it reported to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
"This new report shows that even more children have been imprisoned at Guantánamo than our earlier research revealed," said Almerindo Ojeda, director of the center and principal investigators for its Guantanamo Testimonials Project. "This is one more reason for a full, independent, and transparent inquiry into the policies and practices of detention we have engaged in since 9/11."
Thirteen of the juvenile detainees have been released, while another has been convicted of war crimes and another is reported to have committed suicide at the age of 21.
Soundtrack as you read...
Brothers in Arms - Dire Straits
Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 8, 2011 12:16:51 PM | 40
*The US is heavily involved in causing friction in the hope of tying China and the region down with a war, any war but preferably one that cannot be won and exhausts the protagonists enough to allow the US to step in at the death. They have moles in government positions in the region as in Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara who works in close association with Hilary Clinton even to the detriment of Japan. No amount of internet chatter will change the fact that the USA is insane. To China's dismay the US is now going broke and true to China's predictions the US will rampage and kill on an increasing scale, to the death of everyone else and even to its own death. It is simply incapable of thinking any other way. This insanity is not restricted to the US authorities. The effective majority of US citizens, businesses and financial and cultural structures allows and welcomes it. It is a cultural problem. All things included, the USA like Israel and the rest of the Anglo Saxon world is insane on aggregate*
Posted by: denk | Jun 8, 2011 1:34:25 PM | 41
@Cynthia - a site like MoA, nuorished by thinking people, is a necessary part of any defensive strategy against this drift in empty space encouraged by current ideology;
so modern technologies can be used for virtual encounters of real people with real thoughts!
it's getting more and more confusing ...
Posted by: claudio | Jun 8, 2011 4:52:35 PM | 42
a mighty tree has fallen - geronimo jijaga pratt
when i was a mere teenager men like geronimo & fred hampton were like older brothers to me - they were not icons or something exotic, their humanity(& in the two instances it was an extraordinary humanity)resonated then & now. when i think of them i wonder at the possibilities that flower in the most terrible circumstance, under the most difficult conditions & in their way these two men brought beauty in my life very early by revealing the utter naturalness of politics. my commitment to working in the community came from them. you have to remember fred hampton was just a young young man when he was assassinated by the fbi in chicago & the geronimo was also a very young man when he was falsely accused by the fbi & sent to prison for 27 years, 8 of those in solitary. when he was released he was not bitter because he said i understood they were attacking my community & i never confused that in my mind. an extraordinary fighter, a wise, wise warrior. be in peace
i was never seduced by the liberal lies from thatcher reagan onwards because in all the cultures i worked in as a writer i witnessed the unrelenting attack on community, the decimation of the organizations that had hitherto assisted them & year after year fought the destruction that capital laid waste until the present where it is in collapse & all its attacks on the poor have been extended to the middle class. they are now tasting the whip. in all that time i have never forgotten either fred hampton or geronimo. ever. today, their human example, is even more resonant
i think the worst moments in a life are when you don't think you are able to live up to that exemplarity & you explode. the self destructive key is always there which the culture allows & is glad that you have taken it. perhaps i took that route sometimes in my life but was always drawn to what was true in me & men like hampton & jijaga -were implacable in their lessons & i know what i have done in the last 30 years as a man & as a writer in whatever country i lived & worked in was to - serve the people. there are those who would mock that but i know it is my highest dignity
Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jun 8, 2011 6:10:09 PM | 43
Who in my country would have believed, even a couple of years ago, that there would be laws passed that could actually dissolve municipal governments, and turn governance and even the physical assets of a town over to corporate management? Who would have believed a state could have passed a law, as Michigan did, which is a nullification of popular sovereignty at the most basic civic level--and there would be no cry of outrage from the president? In the past the PTB posse assassinated our community leaders or locked them up on trumped up charges. Nowadays, in the most serious of environmental disasters, like the BP oil spill in the Gulf, the corporation is even allowed to subsume local law enforcement and even manipulate federal police as well as local people. The president is silent and indifferent to such things. And if states can put together a plan to unseat municipal leaders; what's to stop federal laws from unseating and bypassing state authority? Democracy, or government, that is supposedly derived from the people, is beginning to look most superficial and provisional in my country. "Silence betokens consent" is the old adage; but champions like Fred Hampton and Geronimo Pratt are shining examples of those who refuse to remain silent or idle, when the primacy of justice is at stake.
I want to say thanks as well to you, my friend, for your courage and persistence, for your eloquence, poetry, and your work throughout your life, and all you have contributed here at this gathering place, and elsewhere.
Posted by: Copeland | Jun 8, 2011 8:25:04 PM | 44
Texas Gov. Perry Bilderberg’s Ace in the Hole?
By James P. Tucker Jr.
Is Texas Gov. Rick Perry the Bilderberg group’s Republican candidate-in-waiting in the 2012 presidential race? The shadowy globalist group is scheduled to meet secretly behind locked doors over the weekend of June 9-12 in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and AFP will be on location to cover it.
from American Free Press.net
Posted by: ben | Jun 9, 2011 12:23:57 AM | 45
Sibel Edmonds latest post at her Boiling Frogs site leads one down the by now familiar Fethullah Gulen rabbit hole (or should that be "worm hole"?), this time in the company of Stephanie Saul, the NYTimes version of Alice in Wonderland, who recounts what seems to be some typically Texas graft flavored with Turkish taffy and obscure spices.
The comment regarding Sibel E's interview with Phil Giraldi on Nato involvement in drug smuggling is also worth noting, but this sort of "allegation" has long been much too hot for mainstream media to broach, especially since it even names an "untouchable".
Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Jun 9, 2011 12:38:11 AM | 46
what's to stop federal laws from unseating and bypassing state authority?
it's already worse than that; I don't know if there's a law, but Congress can be closed - only in case of emergency / terrorist attack, of course; don't have time to look it up now, but sometime after 9/11 there was a false alarm provoked by an unidentified airplane flying over Washington DC, and security "whisked off" congressmen to a "safe place", willing or not, even using some brutality - and they were grateful for that; practically, they staged a consensual coup
Posted by: claudio | Jun 9, 2011 3:18:32 AM | 47
from the Washington Post, June 10th 2004
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) was inside his office when one of his security officers burst in. "He said we had to get out of the building right now," said Tim Berry, DeLay's chief of staff.
DeLay and other staffers ran. "The cops were grabbing anyone who stopped. They were clear that everyone needed to run," Berry said
Posted by: claudio | Jun 9, 2011 4:03:45 AM | 48
partial correction - congress was "only" evacuated; congressmen weren't brought to some "secure location"; only a half-coup, then; but that "cops were grabbing anyone who stopped", were "anyone" were elected representatives of the people, is chilling
Posted by: claudio | Jun 9, 2011 5:34:53 AM | 49
Occupation must not end.
I wonder if they already consulted with Muqtada al-Sadr.
Posted by: ThePaper | Jun 9, 2011 4:25:15 PM | 50
Dept. of Education SWAT Raid Update: Not for a Student Loan, DoE Says
"the notion that "bribery, fraud, and embezzlement of federal student aid funds" is all it takes to get a paramilitary squad to bang down your door at 6 a.m, handcuff you in your boxers, and throw your three pre-teen children into the back seat of a squad car, all in the service of a warrant aimed at someone who no longer lives in your home, is frankly every bit as terrifying."~elfismiles
Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 10, 2011 2:17:34 AM | 52
Posted by: denk | Jun 10, 2011 2:36:17 AM | 53
@Fran thanks, yes - hope he never comes back
Posted by: b | Jun 10, 2011 11:06:48 AM | 55
This sounds pretty real as far as assessments of the dynamic in Syria go...
Sectarianism rules supremely, a monster lovingly groomed for years by the Alawite regime itself. Now the monster turns out ungroomable...
Posted by: Guthman Bey | Jun 10, 2011 11:50:01 AM | 57
Cryptome via Yahoo and Google Bilderberg watcher groups gives this complete list of 2011 Bilderberg participants . I find it interesting that the head of the U.S. National Security Agency, Keith Alexander is among the invited, as are
Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Craig Mundie of Microsoft , Chris Hughes of Facebook, and Reid Hoffman of Linked-In, and mirabile dictu Christine A. Varney, U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust. It is, of course, pure paranoia to speculate that some sort of elite blessing is being bestowed on an already consumated matrimony between the NSA spooks and proprietors of major internet data bases, with the U.S. Justice Department presiding over the ceremony.
Naturally there are many Bilderberg regulars as well, and a sprinkling from various royal families. It is also of interest that none of the U.S. participants is a plausible challenger to (a very vulnerable) Obama in 2012.
In an amusing (to me) aside one also has this bit of "overzealous security operations" at the St. Moritz get-together. I find it amusing, because Borghezio is, in my opinion, a racist idiot, who about two years ago was beaten up while riding a train in Northern Italy, presumably by immigrants who had taken offense at his racist rhetoric.
Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Jun 11, 2011 11:02:19 AM | 61
In Tripoli, war feels far away
This is downtown Tripoli, gleaming white and tranquil after Friday prayers as residents emerge to stroll, sip coffee at sidewalk tables, poke around in the few shops that have opened on a day of rest.
When a smashingly beautiful lady soldier — .45 pistol holstered on her hip, long raven tresses held back with a camouflage bandana — throws back her head and laughs at a colleague’s joke, the sound practically cannonades around the square.
The war feels very far away.
Posted by: b | Jun 11, 2011 2:30:27 PM | 62
Sy Hersh in Russia TV interview (good)
Posted by: b | Jun 12, 2011 10:59:10 AM | 63
italians voted at the 4 referendum to repeal nuclear energy, privatization of water distribution, guaranteed profits for private investments in public services, and special protections from the judiciary for the head of government and ministers
the problem was if more than 50% would participate in the vote, condition for the validity of the referendum: 57% of the italians voted, and 95% of them (us) voted "yes"! that is an absolute majority (c 55%) voted to repeal those laws, all passed by Berlusconi's government but also with some consensus from the "opposition"
every 20 years in Italy a referendum marks the end of a political hegemony: in 1974 on divorce (end of Christian Democrats' hegemony), in 1993 on the electoral law (end of Craxi-Andreotti-Forlani), now the end of the Berlusconi era
everything is fine, except when you look at the current alternatives; not always political change turns out to be for the better ...
Posted by: claudio | Jun 13, 2011 5:51:56 PM | 64
One way Transparency...
Daniel Ellsberg, other whistleblowers want Obama’s ‘transparency award’ rescinded
US domestic agencies are purchasing X-ray vans that can see through walls and clothing, and unmanned flying drones capable of aerial surveillance. These surveillance programs must not be kept secret.
Re: Hannah K. O'Luthon # 61
Chomsky: Wealthiest 1% Rule Our Politics: At the same time, for the majority of the population, incomes have pretty much stagnated, working hours have increased, benefits have declined - and people are angry, hostile, and very upset"
but there's hope, he says...
Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 16, 2011 2:38:41 AM | 66
"Riots" in Vancouver.
Very good live radio, helicopter and on the ground reporting tonight, when the Vancouver team played for the Stanley Cup.
Tens of thousands who came to view outdoor screens of the game were caught up in a scene of a few square blocks of chaos.
Vancouver lost the game and as that became clear, protests began. A teddy bear was set on fire, a police car was overturned and set on fire and over the next three hours four or five prominent buildings had their windows broken and some bold souls, mostly twenty year old males, entered and looted boxes of makeup.
As of now they have not gained entry to the Future Shop where the stereos and TVs are.
I think it is finished, the people who came into town to celebrate the Canuck victory tonight, hyped by the excellent marketing of hockey in Vancouver have hopefully found somewhere to spend the night. The drunk ones might have a more difficult time.
This police confrontation with the people turns my thoughts to why this is the chosen outlet for those hockey fans -- is it simply that the system allows no other form of expression?
It will be a difficult morning for people who work in the downtown core, but again that is four square blocks. They will see broken windows and vomit on the street.
I hope that they will also see that this is a successful use of police to keep the peace, and that things did not get out of hand.
Successful deployment of hundreds of police, a dozen mounted police, a few police dogs and perhaps twenty riot cops with shields, and some smoke bombs, flash-bangs and pepper spray bombs were able to turn away the crowd of some thousand or so onlookers and photo opportunists and vandals.
So there should be no call for police escalation.
Posted by: jonku | Jun 16, 2011 4:10:13 AM | 67
Manhunt: Burgert among new breed of violent anti-government activists
Watch, and mark my words, they'll kill this guy and call it justifiable. Because we don't need no stinking laws or costly trials. Not that I agree with him, but nor do I agree with them either. I'll even go further and bet they use a drone to search him out and hunt him down, if not, truth be told, execute him from the sky.
Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 16, 2011 11:33:43 AM | 68
"Fukushima is the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind," Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president, told Al Jazeera......"With Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and now with Fukushima, you can pinpoint the exact day and time they started," he said, "But they never end."
Posted by: catlady | Jun 16, 2011 12:22:45 PM | 69
@catlady et al..
Look closer to home.
Nebraska Nuclear Plant: Emergency Level 4
Noone could have predicted that a river might flood.
Regarding my recent missives...Militarizing the police
Not to mention the talk of trying to get HR-1955 “The Violent Radicalization And Homegrown Prevention Act” passed again...
Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 16, 2011 12:34:09 PM | 70
yeow. my parents live in Lincoln, 70 miles to the SW of Ft. Calhoun. Also there's the Cooper plant a little further south on the Missouri, not in emergency state (yet).
but, shit, the entire Missouri-Mississippi drainage below those f*ckers.
Posted by: catlady | Jun 16, 2011 1:40:16 PM | 71
Arnie Gunderson on Calhoun story: “sandbags and nuclear power plants really don’t belong in the same sentence”
Pray for the rains to hold off and all of the dams above the plant to hold.
Posted by: catlady | Jun 16, 2011 1:55:37 PM | 72
You know, you could fall down a rabbit hole and watch abuse and misconduct videos all day long (here's a particularly egregious example.) But at some point, you just have to wonder... how routinely does this stuff go on since we're assured that these offenses are rarely caught on video (and some of them clearly show attempts by the authorities to confiscate and suppress the video evidence.)
Posted by: Monolycus | Jun 17, 2011 6:58:28 AM | 74
That first link doesn't seem to be clicking. Not sure why. Here's the URL in long form for them that wouldn't sleep tonight without knowing what was there:
Posted by: Monolycus | Jun 17, 2011 7:14:13 AM | 75