Monday, June 16, 2014

The Age Of Anxiety

Ah yes, the Age of Anxiety! The times in which modern Fascism and Totalitarianism made their melodramatic debut on the historical stage (and their refusal to go they merely transform and masquerade as something less identifiable or less unpalatable). The age of the Atom, the Age of Information, the Age of World Wars...the Age of Grotesque Materialism, Unmitigated Greed, Institutionalized Racketeering, Glorified Moral Bankruptcy and Wholesale Looting of Nations.
Does this sketch of the world you find yourself in ring true? If so, or even if not; perhaps you disagree and think everything is coming up roses...still read on. We are here and it is now...this much is indisputable and may be the only thing one can actually fully know. But how did we get here, to this lamentable yet reversible condition? Why can we not purge ourselves of the self defeating delusions and and failed ruinous notions of the past?

Before actually looking at the times we exist in, it's important to understand a few facts about the history of mankind leading up to our Age Of Anxiety. No matter how far back you look, human history is the story of one group of people or another attempting to set themselves up as superior to others and come up with a plethora of bogus reasons why they should dominate the others. Whether it's the "divine right" of Pharaohs in ancient Egypt, self-regarding thuggery of ancient Romans, the glorified warlords of medieval and absolutist Europe, or assorted Shahs, Caliphs, Sultans, Imams, Popes, Spurious Holy This or That Alliances, Tzars, Robber Barons, or other types of Grand Poohbahs; it's all the same in the end as in nearly every urbanized society throughout human history some group of people have tried to constitute themselves as an aristocracy. These people, their allies, sycophants, and apologists have been the scourge of humanity since time immemorial. The 20th and 21st centuries however have provided tools and technology to the would be Pharaoh that dwarf the potential of any previous despotic oligarchical nightmare.

  By the year 1939, liberal democracies in Britain, France, Scandinavia and Switzerland were realities. Unfortunately, elsewhere across the continent, assorted dictators  had also imposed their ugly mugs into the picture (Photo Bombed the process so to speak). Dictatorship seemed to be the wave of the future. Many people were resigned to accept this,while others were looking for ways to 'get in on it'. It also seemed to be the wave of the present. After all, didn't Mussolini proclaim that this century would be a century of the right? Of Fascism?

This is what disturbed such writers as Arthur Koestler (1905-1983), Yevgeny Zamyatin (1884-1937), Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), Karel Capek (1890-1938) and George Orwell (1903-1950). This was an antephialtic world in which human dignity, individuality, and the innate value of a human being was trampled under by the might of  totalitarianism. These early modern totalitarian states rejected liberal values of human dignity and fairness. They exercised total control over all aspects of the lives of subjects. Totalitarianism in these states became a new religion...a system of  required beliefs...a political religion for the Age of Anxiety.

   It goes without saying that the governments of Europe had been conservative and anti-democratic throughout their long histories. The leaders, whether monarchs or autocrats WERE the government, and by their very nature, prevented any incidence of social or political change that might endanger the existing social order that they benefited from. There have been enlightened monarchs, but few so enlightened as to have removed themselves from the sinews of power. Before the 19th century these monarchs all legitimized their rule by recourse to the divine right theory of kingship, an idea which  appeared in Europe during medieval times. In France, you may recall;  this was the case until the late 18th century when French revolutionaries decided to end the Bourbon 'divine' claim to the throne by cutting off the head of Louis XVI. Of course, France ended up with Napoleon who ironically also claimed the divine right of kingship. The difference was merely that this divine right emanated from Napoleon himself. One might say "the same shit, different shitter". And one would be correct. After all, the would be Pharaoh will simply rule by whatever mechanism of ascension to a throne is available. It could be divine, military, or could be using the political rhetoric of the left or right,  it doesn't matter...some people insist on being crowned. Where's my crown? I want my crown!. It's a type of sociopath really, isn't it?

  In contrast to these dictatorships,  a country such as England, on the other hand, underwent twenty years of civil war in the 17th century as well as the Glorious Revolution of 1688 which had produced a constitutional monarchy.

In the 19th century, both the Industrial and French Revolutions created the forces of social change which monarchs, enlightened or not, could not safely ignore. A large middle class had emerged in the 18th century but had lacked political status. Now, in the 19th century, this large class of entrepreneurs, factory owners, civil servants, teachers, lawyers, doctors, merchants and other types of professionals wanted their voices heard by their governments and there were a lot of them. They were largely at least somewhat educated unlike the peasants of previous times who were much easier to frighten, manipulate, and fool into submission. The middle class became a force which had to be reckoned with and governments began to utilize their talents by creating large, but obedient bureaucracies. In this way, government seemed to reflect the interests of all when in actual fact, they represented the interests of the same sociopath assholes it always had. There was however the illusion of democracy and every once in a while a bone was thrown to the middle class to keep them believing in the illusion.  So European governments maintained order by giving the middle classes a stake in the welfare of the nation. Governments also built strong police forces and armies of loyal soldiers to protect itself largely.  Meanwhile of course in reality, the great mass of people, the "swinish multitude," remained completely unrepresented. Radicals were either imprisoned, murdered, or exiled because of their liberal, democratic, socialist, communist or anarchist inclinations. Despite these measures, and there were others as well, traditional authoritarian governments were not completely successful. Their power and their objectives were actually limited.  Why you ask?  Well these governments lacked modern communications and modern transportation. They lacked, in other words, the ability to totally control their subject populations. Not until the twentieth century -- thanks to improved technology -- would this change . In fact, true totalitarian regimes are limited only by the extent to which mass communications have been made a reality. And, of course, with mass communications comes "mass man", and the capability of total  and complete control.

In this latter Age of Anxiety, humanity faces it's greatest challenge as the would be dictators have learned they can't use the older more obvious methods of domination. The modern threat hides behind logos, holding companies, and is difficult to discern. It's obvious that a handful of multinational corporations have seized control of mass communication globally, well frankly every industry. But who actually owns these multinational cartels and monopolies? It's cloaked and difficult to discern but if you follow the tangled web to it's source you find that roughly 85 people own virtually everything. There is no way Orwell could have predicted that there would be larger economic entities than states...but today more than half of the largest 'economies' in the world are not in fact states at all. They are corporate entities that exist only in an abstract manner on paper. "Big Brother" is no political entity at all. States now are openly bought and sold and the corrupt purchase of government is open and in plain's institutionalized.  It is reversible for the same reason the aristocracies of the past had to relinquish some of their powers. It is reversible if middle class demands change...the poor are powerless and it's by design. But the middle class has power because it potentially might be smart enough to see through the trickery. It may not be demoralized and degraded enough yet to simply go along with the plans of the modern fascists hiding behind these corporate facades because it's easier than objecting. These modern fascists are well aware of this and are doing everything they can now to eliminate this middle class. So there is a time limit on the possibility of change. There is likely a tipping point where if this middle class shrinks in numbers enough they will lose what power they have to refuse this new branded corporate fascism. The salvation of mankind lies in this alone-  Only by analyzing this deception will it become possible to revive democracy. Democracy may be imperfect but of all the possible means of governance and organizing society man has invented, a manageable representative democracy is the only one that attempts in any way to limit obscene concentrations of power. All others promote it in one way or another. Fight the power. But understand where that power lies, that it's concentration is the problem... and above all else don't be conned into enabling these modern cosmetically altered brands of fascism.  To impose its order on society, the modern corporatist must destroy what we non fascists view as civilization. In particular in order to thrive it must destroy conscience, democracy, reason, and language. The goal, in the name of humanity, decency, and survival is to reverse this concentration of power. Don't believe the one has the right, divine or through accumulation of wealth to dominate society. It's a crock! It's the big lie. We can end The Age of Anxiety in one of two ways. Either by waking up and refusing to allow this concentration of power just as Dr. Martin Luther King refused to stand by and accept racism, or by rolling over in submission....going out with a whimper. The choice dear reader is yours.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Phenomenon Of Creeping Fascism

"There are few things as odd as the calm, superior indifference with which I and those like me watched the beginnings of the Nazi revolution in Germany, as if from a box at the theater...Perhaps the only comparably odd thing is the way that now, years later...."

These words belong to Sebastian Haffner, who was a young lawyer in Berlin during the 1930s.
He experienced the Nazi takeover and wrote a first-hand account of it. It was not published while he was alive, but his children found the manuscript when he died in 1999 and published it the following year as "Geschichte eines Deutschen" (The Story of a German). The book became an immediate bestseller and has been translated into 20 languages.  In English it is published as "Defying Hitler." This will likely have a disconcerting resonance to anyone familiar with the Nazi ascendancy, noting how "odd" it is that the frontal attack on Constitutional & Human rights as well as civil liberties is met with  "calm, superior indifference" in our own times. 
First what is fascism actually? It is described by Benito Mussolini (who is credited with coining the term and ought to know what he meant by it) as the combining of corporate and state powers. It's derived from latin...a word meaning the bundling of sticks. A single stick can be snapped and broken, where a bundle of sticks can not easily be snapped or broken.

Fascism is growing in many modern democracies today...the citizens may have trouble recognizing it for what it is....but rest assured it did not disappear after WWII. Many of the nations who fought fascism and sacrificed life and limb preventing it from global domination in the mid 20th century now see their own countries engaging in it fully a few generations later. It isn't obvious to the majority, there are no literal goose stepping parades or brownshirted thugs...not in public anyway. No, that wouldn't do in today's world...people might recognize that too easily. The methods have to be more stealthy and wrapped in the local flag...not a swastika.

The fulfillment of the prediction by Sinclair Lewis 'not if'  but "when fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag carrying a cross"

  Nazis and Those Who Enable Them
Well what we can learn from Haffner's account of the fascist's rise to power in Germany is that you don't have to be a Nazi. You can just be, well for lack of a better description, a sheep. Do nothing.
In his account,  Sebastian Haffner describes what he calls the "sheepish submissiveness" with which the German people reacted to a 9/11-like event, the burning of the German Parliament (Reichstag) on Feb. 27, 1933. Haffner suggests it quite telling that none of his acquaintances "saw anything out of the ordinary in the fact that, from then on, one's telephone would be tapped, one's letters opened, and one's desk might be broken into."  His his most virulent condemnation is reserved for the cowardly politicians. Do you see any contemporary parallels here? In the elections of March 4, 1933, shortly after the Reichstag fire, the Nazi party garnered only 44 percent of the vote. Only the "cowardly treachery" of the Social Democrats and other parties to whom 56 percent of the German people had entrusted their votes made it possible for the Nazis to seize full power. Haffner explains: "It is in the final analysis only of betrayal that explains the almost inexplicable fact that a great nation, which cannot have consisted entirely of cowards, fell into ignominy without a fight."
The Social Democratic leaders betrayed their followers-"for the most part decent, unimportant individuals." In May they sang the Nazi anthem; by June the party was dissolved.

The middle-class Catholic party Zentrum folded in less than a month, and in the end actually supplied the votes necessary for the two-thirds majority that "legalized" Hitler's dictatorship.

As for the right-wing conservatives and German nationalists: "Oh God," writes Haffner, "what an infinitely dishonorable and cowardly spectacle their leaders made in 1933 and continued to make afterward.... They went along with everything: the terror, the persecution of Jews.... They were not even bothered when their own party was banned and their own members arrested." In summary he says: "There was not a single example of energetic defense, of courage or principle. There was only panic, flight, and desertion. In March 1933 millions opposed the Nazis but overnight they found themselves without leaders...At the moment of truth, when other nations rose spontaneously to the occasion, the Germans collectively and limply collapsed. They yielded and capitulated, and suffered a nervous breakdown.... The result is today the nightmare of the rest of the world."

In the U.S., the Founding Fathers were not oblivious to this general behavior and it's danger.
  James Madison wrote "I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.... The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home."
We cannot say we weren't warned.


Ignorance. Fear. Greed. Selfishness. In that order, those are the reasons that explain the phenomena of creeping fascism. And this applies to the nascent fascism in the United States and other democratic nations today. Predictably and rightfully, the majority of the population in every society strives to be safe, to have a "normal" life by local standards, to count on certain basic things like employment, family ties, entertainment, friendship. So people go about their daily lives influenced by what they see around them. their experiences in shops they use to buy things, who they might talk to, maybe some house of worship they attend, or a gathering, a party, a funeral, a baby shower, etc. The conditions that lead to creeping fascism and its eventual establishment are essentially invisible to most folks (until its too late). For these folks who are unaware of it, well their sin is ignorance, so they are arguably less culpable. (Dear reader, if you happen to be in this category, understand that further reading will make you  fully aware of it,  and should you decide to do nothing, then your personal level of culpability will go up).


The biggest threat to the establishment of fascism is education.
A populace with a collective high intellect is not prone to be easily duped.
The tell-tale heart of creeping fascism is the rise of anti-intellectualism, such as the one we have in the U.S. today. Ignorance is literally elevated to be the false equivalence of intellectual curiosity. The dim wit is elevated publicly to hero status (think of Sarah Palin and numerous others).
The sure fire technique to prevent the populace from developing their collective intellect is by discouraging people from engaging in any sort of deep thinking or analysis about the world around them, government and its institutions,  issues related to power or wealth hierarchies, income disparity, etc.
The best way to do this is to create a situation where people are made to work at a subsistence level (hand-to-mouth, paycheck-to-paycheck), to put up roadblocks to attaining a proper education, and to bombard people with, as in Roman times, "bread-and-circuses," which in today's world happens with the bombardment of the human mind with an incredibly effective propaganda machine in the form of the corporate-owned U.S. media. Think of all the  'reality' shows, and the fantasy of an obscure and unknown person making it big by winning in American Idiot, or any of the other mind rotting shows.
Think of how a news network actually fought for and won in court the right to misinform...the right to lie as a free speech issue.

In the ignorance category we can also include the religious Right, the nationalists, and the racists and how easily they are to incorporate in creeping fascism. This is because fear is the other classic way of manipulating the population. When it comes to the middle class, you have a combination of factors, including ignorance and fear (to a greater extent), and selfishness (to a lesser extent). The first priority of the middle class is to keep what they have, and to dream of possibly having something better or more.  So when fascism and oppression creeps in, it succeeds if  the middle class remains mainly dormant and docile through most of the process. Again until it is too late.

Usually during the first stages of fascism, it directly affects certain maligned groups such as the poor (the most maligned and defenseless target), and certain minority groups, the nascent "baby" fascist state needs to practice with  minority groups in order to perfect it's system of domination before consolidating their power and applying their techniques on the general population.


 The politicians, business people, the leaders of most liberal and progressive groups, and unions cave and cower. At this stage of the acquiescence to creeping fascism is mainly the result of pure greed and selfishness. It's a willful blindness. At this stage these people in the 'establishment'  possess the intellectual capacity to understand what's going on, but chooses to do nothing (or to do minimalist, don't-rock-the-boat ineffectual gesturing) out of pure short-term self interest. Greed. Like the middle class, they are more interested in keeping what they have, and possibly having more, in cushy jobs and positions, in grants and money from donors, corporations, employers, in being connected to the expanding power structure, and benefiting from it.

  Have you ever wondered about the dismal lack of leadership from most of the top ranks in unions in modern times?... Or the lack of any real leadership in liberal and progressive organizations? Well  wonder no more.  Creeping fascism has taken them. At this level, the so-called leaders share more culpability and responsibility for allowing fascism to creep in because at an intellectual level they know full well it's happening,  they choose  to look the other way for purely greedy and selfish reasons.

The only antidote is the type of leader who is totally, one hundred percent driven by duty, love of humanity, by the concept of justice, and not by self interest or greed. Do such people exist?
Well yes. They do. They are rare but they exist.  In India for instance, the anti-corruption campaign of activist Anna Hazare who has been bringing the entire Indian government to its knees with the force of his conviction.  I firmly believe there are leaders (in wait) like that in the U.S, the U.K. and other democratic nations., but the manipulation and influence of the corporate-owned media is so total, that at this point it's nearly impossible for them to get any traction. If they ever make it to the point of being on the public radar, they are vilified, ridiculed, demonized, attacked, spied on, etc.
But I really believe those leaders will emerge once there is a significant number of people who are able to break through the mental shackles imposed by the nascent fascist regimes.

There are some signs that a large enough number of people are "waking up" from the corporate stupor and realizing what's happening, as exemplified by the occupy protests last year.

If you read this, you can't really claim ignorance any more.
Democracy is under attack from creeping fascism.
Corporations are NOT people and money is NOT free speech.
In a democracy, we consent to be governed in our own COMMON interest, not the interests of the few who can buy their own senators. We are interested in the general prosperity of all our people, not just the few who already own most everything.
There are no scapegoats folks, there is no one to blame but ourselves.
It's time to do something to deter creeping fascism.
If not now, when?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Henry Wallace On American Fascists

Henry A.Wallace And Franklin D. Roosevelt
Henry A. Wallace was the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 1933 to 1940, during the incredibly  difficult years of the Great Depression, and Vice President from 1941 to 1945, at the height of World War II.  Wallace was one of FDR's closest and most trusted associates, A huge supporter of the New Deal and a man determined to fashion a better world out of the ashes of war II.
Wallace was born on an Iowa farm in 1888. After graduating from Iowa State College in 1910, he went to work for the family paper, Wallaces' Farmer, which was widely read throughout agricultural circles and brought the Wallace family considerable prestige among the nation's farming community.
In the early 1920s, Wallace became the editor of the Farmer after his father, Henry C. Wallace, accepted an offer to serve as Secretary of Agriculture in the Harding and Coolidge administrations. A long standing Republican, the younger Wallace broke with his father's party in 1928 over the issue of farm relief and high tariffs campaigning for the Democrat, Al Smith, in his run for the White House. This brought Wallace to the attention of FDR, who, four years later, asked him to follow his father's footsteps and become his Secretary of Agriculture. He later served as FDR's Vice President, and as Secretary of Commerce. Following FDR's death, and after resigning as Secretary of Commerce in 1946, Wallace became a leading advocate for post-war cooperation with the Soviet Union and one of the most prominent critics of the Truman Doctrine and containment policies that became the Cold War. He ran an unsuccessful third party campaign for the presidency in 1948 that was tainted by false reports that he was a tool of Moscow. Roosevelt once said that "no man was more of the American soil than Wallace," and in the wake of his 1948 defeat, Wallace decided to return to his roots and retire to his beloved New York farm. For the next seventeen years he devoted himself to scientific farming, genetics, and gardening. He died on November 18, 1965. His writing has been out of print for years, but I believe modern ears deserve to hear what this wise man's common sense voice. I believe these modern ears will find his voice quite relevant.

The following is taken from an article in the New York times, April 29th, 1944.

"A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends. The supreme god of a fascist, to which his ends are directed, may be money or power; may be a race or a class; may be a military, clique or an economic group; or may be a culture, religion, or a political party.
 In every big nation of the world are at least a few people who have the fascist temperament. The obvious types of American fascists are dealt with on the air and in the press. These demagogues and stooges are fronts for others.  The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.

If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States. There are probably several hundred thousand if we narrow the definition to include only those who in their search for money and power are ruthless and deceitful. Most American fascists are enthusiastically supporting the war effort. They are doing this even in those cases where they hope to have profitable connections with German chemical firms after the war ends. They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead. American fascism will not be really dangerous until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists, the deliberate poisoners of public information, and those who stand for the K.K.K. type of demagoguery.
Fascism is a worldwide disease. Its greatest threat to the United States will come after the war ...within the United States itself.

Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion. American fascists of this stamp were clandestinely aligned with their German counterparts before the war, and are even now preparing to resume where they left off, after "the present unpleasantness" ceases:

The symptoms of fascist thinking are colored by environment and adapted to immediate circumstances. But always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power.

The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy. They cultivate hate and distrust ...they claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.

Several leaders of industry in this country who have gained a new vision of the meaning of opportunity through co-operation with government have warned the public openly that there are some selfish groups in industry who are willing to jeopardize the structure of American liberty to gain some temporary advantage. We all know the part that the cartels played in bringing Hitler to power, and the rule the giant German trusts have played in Nazi conquests. Monopolists who fear competition and who distrust democracy because it stands for equal opportunity would like to secure their position against small and energetic enterprise. In an effort to eliminate the possibility of any rival growing up, some monopolists would sacrifice democracy itself.

It has been claimed at times that our modern age of technology facilitates dictatorship. What we must understand is that the industries, processes, and inventions created by modern science can be used either to subjugate or liberate. The choice is up to us. The myth of fascist efficiency has deluded many people. It was Mussolini's vaunted claim that he "made the trains run on time." In the end, however, he brought to the Italian people impoverishment and defeat. It was Hitler's claim that he eliminated all unemployment in Germany.  Well, neither is there unemployment in a prison camp.
In order for democracy to crush fascism internally it must demonstrate its capacity to "make the trains run on time." It must develop the ability to keep people fully employed and at the same time balance the budget. It must put human beings first and dollars second. It must appeal to reason and decency and not to violence and deceit. We must  tolerate neither oppressive government nor industrial oligarchy in the form of monopolies and cartels.

As long as scientific research and inventive ingenuity outran our ability to devise social mechanisms to raise the living standards of the people, we may expect the liberal potential of the United States to increase. If this liberal potential is properly channeled, we may expect the area of freedom of the United States to increase. The problem is to spend up our rate of social invention in the service of the welfare of all the people.

The worldwide, agelong struggle between fascism and democracy will not stop when the fighting ends in Germany and Japan.

The moral and spiritual aspects of both personal and international relationships have a practical bearing which so-called practical men deny. This dullness of vision regarding the importance of the general welfare to the individual is the measure of the failure of our schools and churches to teach the spiritual significance of genuine democracy. Until democracy in effective enthusiastic action fills the vacuum created by the power of modern inventions, we may expect the fascists to increase in power after the war both in the United States and in the world.

Fascism in the postwar inevitably will push steadily for Anglo-Saxon imperialism and eventually for war with Russia. Already American fascists are talking and writing about this conflict and using it as an excuse for their internal hatreds and intolerances toward certain races, creeds and classes.

It should also be evident that exhibitions of the native brand of fascism are not confined to any single section, class or religion. Happily, it can be said that as yet fascism has not captured a predominant place in the outlook of any American section, class or religion. It may be encountered in Wall Street, Main Street or Tobacco Road. Some even suspect that they can detect incipient traces of it along the Potomac. It is an infectious disease, and we must all be on our guard against intolerance, bigotry and the pretension of invidious distinction. But if we put our trust in the common sense of common men and "with malice toward none and charity for all" go forward on the great adventure of making political, economic and social democracy a practical reality, we shall not fail."

Friday, June 7, 2013

NSA Over Reach (Around) --Don't Blame Obama...Blame The Idiots That Passed The Patriot Act

People are shocked! Shocked I tell you!
(Regarding the NSA spying on US citizens within US borders.) Agreed it is out of line if you have regard for civil liberties. No Argument from me there.  The National Security Agency's expansive reach should be criticized and scrutinized.
However let's be clear. It's nothing new at all. The tech has the collection improved. The "patriot act" did away with any remaining privacy rights one may have envisioned. Spying on US citizens while in the U.S.borders without a waiver from the AG was deemed unconstitutional  by the Supreme Court..(Yes, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that intelligence agencies cannot conduct surveillance against American citizens. There are a few extreme circumstances where collecting on a U.S. entity is allowed without a USSID 18 waiver, such as with civilian distress signals, or sudden emergencies such as the September 11, 2001 attacks) however the USA PATRIOT Act has significantly changed privacy legality. Citizens simply  no longer have these privacy rights.

The anger at Obama is a bit curious really...after all , the outrage at him is for not stopping it, for allowing it to an ideal world, yes ..I sort of understand. One can say it's a matter of conscience...however  I've seen little or no evidence of conscience or idealism in positions of power in my lifetime (hinting at it gets one assassinated actually). Hence the need for rule of law, and those laws have to be written well with clear honest intent...not driven by outlandishly amplified fears.

Every president since Truman had equal opportunities to nip this sort of thing in the bud, but did not...they just seem to add to it. Think back, Remember the domestic wiretapping under Richard Nixon?
In the years after President Richard Nixon resigned, there were several investigations of suspected misuse of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and NSA facilities. Senator Frank Church headed a Senate investigating committee which uncovered previously unknown activity, such as a CIA plot (ordered by President John F. Kennedy) to assassinate Fidel Castro. The investigation also uncovered that the NSA had wiretaps targeted American citizens for Nixon's political purposes. After the Church Committee hearings, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 became law, limiting circumstances under which domestic surveillance was permitted. Then of course there was the warrantless wiretaps under George W. Bush. In May 2006, Mark Klein, a former AT&T employee, alleged that his company had cooperated with NSA in installing  hardware to replace the FBI Carnivore program, to monitor network communications including traffic between American citizens. So this scandal goes back at least to that date. It's not current news really.

 I was very vocal in criticism to the patriot act at the time it was passed. It's terrible legislation that only passed because of the paranoia created by the 9/11 attacks. It needs should at least have had a sunset clause.

Once you give an agency a power they don't give it back. Which means we have to be very careful about letting such things start at all. 
I liken it to the corporate personhood issue, very very unlikely to change once that threshold is crossed. 

Yes we are screwed, because we did not heed Ben Franklin's words...' Those who would trade freedoms for security will have neither.'

The National Security Agency's predecessor was the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA), created on May 20, 1949. This organization was originally established within the U.S. Department of Defense under the command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It's original purpose was to direct the communications and electronic intelligence activities of the U.S. military intelligence units: the Army Security Agency, the Naval Security Group, and the Air Force Security Service. In 1951  the "Brownell Committee Report," after committee chairman Herbert Brownell, surveyed the history of U.S. communications intelligence activities and suggested the need for a much greater degree of coordination and direction at the national level.  The role of newly named 'NSA' was extended beyond the armed forces.
The creation of NSA was authorized in a letter written by President Harry S. Truman in June 1952.
It's purpose had been re-defined as "for the performance of highly specialized technical functions in support of the intelligence activities of the United States."
Vague huh?

How many clandestine espionage groups are authorized in the U.S.??
 The CIA....
The NSA....
Central Security Service (CSS)...
the DHS...Department of Home Security
National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)....
Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)
Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency (AFISRA)
Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM)
Marine Corps Intelligence Activity (MCIA)
Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI)
Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence (OICI)
Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A)
Coast Guard Intelligence (CGI)
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
Office of National Security Intelligence (ONSI)
Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR)
Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI)

That's a lot of prying eyes...a lot of potential loose cannons.
There's probably plenty of "black budget" stuff as well....that we can't know about or they'd have to ....
I don't know, are we crazy?  England for instance has MI5 and for domestic issues and one for foreign issues.   Seems a lot more efficient. 
One Nation,
Under Surveilence...
Well, you're never alone with a tap on your phone....♫ are you lonesome tonight?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Heisenberg Probably Rules!

The "Infinity Environment,"
an installation art piece by Doug Wheeler on display at the Doug Zwirner Gallery in New
York City.
Quantum mechanics describes the world in terms of probabilities,
rather than definite outcomes.
The Many Worlds interpretation
suggests our own Universe is drifting
among a veritable sea of spontaneously inflating bubbles,
each being a self-contained
and causally separate pocket of higher-dimensional spacetime.
It seems the mathematics of this theory
may suggest
that all possible outcomes of a situation
actually do occur — in their separate universes.

For example, let's say you are a blues musician,
and you are standing at a crossroads
where you can go right or left,
the present universe gives rise to two daughter universes:
one in which you go right, and one in which you go left.
  In each universe, there is a copy of you witnessing one or the other outcome,
thinking — incorrectly — that your reality is the only reality,"

Every universe comprising the multiverse is a discrete timespace bubble
Einstein walks into a bar and says to the bartender,
"I'll take a beer, and a beer for my friend, Heisenberg."
The bartender looks around and asks,
"Is your friend here?"
"Well," says Einstein,
"he is and he isn't."

A Cloud of Probabilities

There are numerous disciplines that suggest a multiversity, or numerous universes.
Scientists can't be sure what the shape of space-time is, but most agree that likely, it's flat (as opposed to spherical, even donut-shape) and stretches out infinitely.
But if space-time goes on forever,
then it must start repeating at some point,
because there are a finite number of ways particles can be arranged in space and time.
So if you look far enough, you would encounter another version of you — in fact, infinite versions of you. Because the observable universe extends only as far as light has had a chance to get in the 13.7 billion years since the Big Bang (that would be 13.7 billion light-years), the space-time beyond that distance can be considered to be its own separate universe. In this way,
a multitude of universes exists next to each other in a giant patchwork quilt of universes.

Physicists at University College London, Imperial College London, and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics have designed a computer algorithm that actually examines the WMAP [NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe satellite] data for these telltale signatures of collisions with other universes. After determining what the WMAP results would look like both with and without cosmic collisions, the team uses the algorithm to determine which scenario fits best with the actual WMAP data. Once the results are in, the team’s algorithm performs a statistical analysis to ensure that any signatures that are detected are in fact due to collisions with other universes, and are unlikely to be due to chance. The results of this ground-breaking project are not yet conclusive enough to determine whether we do actually live in a multiverse or not; however, these scientists remain optimistic about the rigor of their method and they hope to continue this research as the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) is probed more deeply by the Planck satellite, which began its fifth all-sky survey on July 29.

In addition to the multiple universes created by infinitely extending space-time, other universes could also arise from "eternal inflation." Inflation is the notion that the universe expanded rapidly after the Big Bang, in effect inflating like a balloon. Eternal inflation, first proposed by Tufts University cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin, suggests that some pockets of space stop inflating, while other regions continue to inflate, thus giving rise to many isolated "bubble universes."

Our own universe, where inflation has ended, (allowing stars and galaxies to form) is but a small bubble in a vast sea of space, some of which is still inflating, that contains many other bubbles like ours. And in some of these bubble universes, the laws of physics and fundamental constants could be different than in ours, making some universes wacky strange places indeed.
String theorists also suggests we exist in but one membrane universe coexisting in a multitude of membranes.
(See the previous post)

Scientists have debated whether mathematics is simply a useful tool for describing the universe, or whether math itself is the fundamental reality, and our observations of the universe are just imperfect perceptions of its true mathematical nature.
If the latter is true,
then perhaps the particular mathematical structure that makes up our universe isn't the only option, and in fact all possible mathematical structures exist as their own separate universes.

As you can see there are many paths that arrive at multiple universes.
In the realm of probability, it's a good bet.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The immense Colossal Whizzbang Whangdangdoodle

Implications Of The Multiverse
On The Big Bang

How many theoretical physicists
specializing in general relativity
does it take to change a light bulb?
One to hold the bulb
and one to rotate the universe.

Hello friends!
I'm writing to you from an alternate universe in which time moves backwards, the planets orbit around Stephen Fry, The U.S. Congress is not comprised of racketeering imbeciles, & this article was never written. According to the Big Bang theory, our universe began extremely hot and extremely dense around 14 billion years ago. Space itself expanded and cooled down, eventually allowing atoms to form and clump together to build the stars and galaxies we see today. On this, most scientists are in agreement as there is plenty of evidence to indicate this is indeed so.
University of Pennsylvania particle physicist Burt Ovrut has said "I would say that there is 100 percent consensus, really, there is overwhelming evidence all of the predictions are true."
University Of Penn Physicist Burt Ovrut

For example, this theory predicted that the universe today would be filled with pervasive light left over from the Big Bang. This glow, called the cosmic microwave background radiation, was discovered in 1964,  20 years after it was predicted. However, what caused the Big Bang, what happened at that exact moment, and what came immediately after it, are much more open to contentious controversy, disputable debates, & general brouhaha.

Neil Turok
"Inflation is easily the most popular theory in cosmology," according to theoretical physicist Neil Turok, director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Ontario, Canada. "It's a good theory, but it has some weak points. It can't describe the moment of the Big Bang."
The Big Bang theory envisions the universe beginning from a singularity, a mathematical concept of infinite temperature and infinite density packed into a single point of space. But scientists don't think this is what actually happened. "It wouldn't really be infinite," explained physicist Paul Steinhardt, director of the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science at Princeton University, who himself was one of the architects of the inflation theory. He noted "Infinity just means a mathematical breakdown. It's a statement that you shouldn't have extrapolated your equations back that far because they just blew up in your face."
So neither the Big Bang theory nor inflationary theory can describe what happened at that moment.

Princeton's Paul Steinhardt

There are some problems with inflation because of quantum fluctuations, different parts of the universe could inflate at different rates, creating "bubble universes" that are much larger than other regions. Our universe may be just one in a multiverse, where different scales and physical laws reign. In such a reality, everything and anything that can happen, will, so basically everything could be a prediction of inflation. This is a fundamental problem and we don't know how to escape it.
Of course there are scientists who say that while inflation may not be complete, it's still the most useful thing we've got to describe the origins of the universe.

Another case where the study of the smallest bits in the universe leads to an understanding of the largest bits is the idea of Cycles. The origins of which come from String Theory or "M Theory" more accurately  (a branch on the string theory tree).  Physicist Paul Steinhardt and Paul.Turok (Director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics) proposed an idea called the cyclic model, based on an earlier concept called the ekpyrotic universe that they'd conceived with Ovrut.
In this scenario, the universe undergoes an endless sequence of "bangs" and "crunches".
 Periods of expansion followed by periods of contraction.
 At each transition, the universe would have some finite temperature and density, rather than the infinity of the singularity, and the expansion and contraction would be relatively slow, as opposed to the exponentially quick expansion proposed by inflation.

The idea is based on M-theory, a version of string theory which suggests that every particle is in fact a tiny loop of string whose vibration pattern determines what type of particle it will be. However, M-theory requires the universe to have 11 dimensions. So far, we can only detect four dimensions, three of space and one of time. The other seven are hidden, proponents say. Scientists call the four-dimensional part of the universe we can see a brane, (short for membrane) and suggest that other four-dimensional branes also exist inside this 11-dimesnional space.
"If you have another brane living in higher dimensions, it's extremely likely to move and slam into our own brane," Ovrut said. "You have a brane with exactly the structure of our real world, and other branes that are likely to hit us, and all of the energy of colliding universes would come into play. Gee, that sounds a heck of a lot like a Big Bang to me."
Advocates of the idea say it offers an exciting way of addressing the issue of what prompted the Big Bang, and it avoids some of the pitfalls of inflation such as infinity which is problematic.
Particles such as antimatter from a parallel universe, interacting with our own may be behind the mysterious deep space gamma bursts that have puzzled astronomers since their first observation.
"In the cyclic theory you are not only describing the last bang, but the ones before it," Turok explained. "It's a bigger picture, more complete and hopefully more logically consistent."
Schroedinger's Cat in it's natural habitat

The idea of alternate universes is not new, it's been around in Quantum Physics since the "many worlds" interpretation. In the Copenhagen interpretation, the mathematics of quantum mechanics allows one to predict probabilities for the occurrence of various events. In the many-worlds interpretation, all these events occur simultaneously.

What meaning should be given to these probability calculations?
And why do we observe, in our history, that the events with a higher computed probability seem to have occurred more often? One answer to these questions is to say that there is a probability measure on the space of all possible universes, where a possible universe is a complete path in the tree of branching universes. This is indeed what the calculations seem to give credence to. Of course this is all theory, yet quantum computing relies on a very real particle being in many places simultaneously, it relies on dimensions beyond the ones we perceive. Fortunately for those who work in this field, they don't particularly have to make sense of it or explain it, but rather just focus on the fact that it works. Indeed we are standing on a whale looking for minnows.

  1. ^ Perimeter Institute, Seminar overview, Probability in the Everett interpretation: state of play, David Wallace - Oxford University, 21 Sept 2007
  2. ^ Perimeter Institute, Many worlds at 50 conference, September 21-24, 2007
  3. ^ Wojciech H. Zurek: Probabilities from entanglement, Born’s rule from envariance, Phys. Rev. A71, 052105 (2005).
  4. ^ M. Schlosshauer & A. Fine: On Zurek's derivation of the Born rule. Found. Phys. 35, 197-213 (2005).
  5. ^ Lutz Polley, Position eigenstates and the statistical axiom of quantum mechanics, contribution to conference Foundations of Probability and Physics, Vaxjo, Nov 27 - Dec 1, 2000
  6. ^ Lutz Polley, Quantum-mechanical probability from the symmetries of two-state systems
  7. ^ Armando V.D.B. Assis (2011). "Assis, Armando V.D.B. On the nature of and the emergence of the Born rule. Annalen der Physik, 2011.". Annalen der Physik (Berlin) 523: 883–897. arXiv:1009.1532. Bibcode 2011AnP...523..883A. doi:10.1002/andp.201100062.
  8. ^ Everett FAQ "Is many-worlds a local theory?"

Monday, December 31, 2012

Obligatory Best Of 2012 List!

Time once again my friends to look back in anger at the year we all just wasted.
2012 was the best of times and it was the worst of times...well not really... it was pretty damned bad though, perhaps not the worst...I mean there was no bubonic plague or Mongol hordes marauding about asking for directions. Yet we can hardly say it was the best of times either.
Well maybe for a handful of corporate types, but chances are they aren't reading this. Chances are they are acting out the "aristocrats" joke.  As for the rest of us, face it 2012 sucked way worse than the Mayans ever could have predicted. The economy was so bad, all new houses were built with foreclosure signs already on them and you serve cat food at parties only when you want to impress your guests.
In December I took the kids to Rockefeller Center, renown for it's giant Christmas Tree...We watched as a giant crane lowered it's boom and it's payload was lowered down into place on steel cables...
it wasn't the tree though,
it was NJ Governor Chris Christie being hoisted into his pants
...a daily occurrence...nothing special.
One of the memorable events of the year however was when a  petition for Texas to secede appeared...
It gathered  25,000 signatures!
However all the signatures were from every state but Texas.
The economy sucked, the weather sucked, the arts suffered, and cold sores were numerous.
There was little to like.
And little reason to believe 2013 will be an improvement.
There were however some musical highlights!

And here they are, the best of 2012!

The best CD released this year was by far
"The Golden Age Of Madness"
By Ben New

Ben New's vision of Meta-pop-rock
with a cunning blend of surreal and effusive lyrics,
sharp rhythmic play,
and latent melodicism;
dreamy, but full of rhythmic energy and passion.

The Best release of 2012!

A very close second.
Boys and Girls
By  Alabama Shakes

Brittany Howard - rock 'n' soul vocalist of the year!
Great music, well written and beautifully performed.
If you haven't heard should!

3rd place honors

Sort of pop/art/rock music here which easily morphs from verse to chorus to bridge in a lovely intelligent way. Outstanding for it's shifting arrangements, jolting starts and stops. The arrangements draw from prog-rock yet this album deals mainly in catchy pop music. The lyrics are dispensed in a way that feels comically overstated at times, with a  film noir feel at other times.
It works well though!


Fiona Apple's first studio album in seven years!
Painful and sometimes startling musical revelations.
Songs of seduction, shaky romances, irresistible sex, loneliness, narcissism and ego-less insecurities.

Esa-Pekka Salonen collaborated with violinist Leila Josefowicz to produce this fascinating Violin Concerto. Salonen's music is diverse and transparent, brilliantly orchestrated and inspired by Stravinsky, Lutoslawski and Debussy yet quite his own. though "pushing the envelope" for both the orchestra and violinist is evident here the end result is a very nuanced music with an extraordinary range of textures performed perfectly.
Must have!

Regina Spektor
What We Saw From The Cheap Seats

Regina is an excellent storyteller, with a musical catalog influenced by the Beatles pop and rock sensibilities and classical training, her music comes alive with drama and with humor. Considered part of the "anti folk" movement, one song on What We Saw From the Cheap Seats is written from the point of view of a painting.
You Gotta love this album!

Leonard Cohen- Old Ideas

Leonard has released only a dozen studio records in 45 years and nothing since 2004.
He's now in his late 70s, so we're not likely to see many more albums.
Old Ideas is a thoughtful bit of philosophy, an insight into aging,
just what you might want from such an outing!
Especially if you live in Woking!
(wink wink nudge nudge)
Seriously though it is a gem, a rare one.
By far one of my favorite live shows of this year...
This Rodrigo y Gabriela's first recorded collaboration with another group of musicians;
a thirteen piece Cuban orchestra composed of some of Havana's finest young players,
collectively known as the C.U.B.A.
I know many fans did not like the idea of them doing something other than a duo...however I did!
This was an incredible band!
Buy the CD!
You will not regret it!

Forty-five years after his debut and eight years since his last record, Jimmy Cliff returns in 2012 with an old-school reggae album that is pure dynamite.
A fantastic selection of songs that old fans and new will enjoy.
The man's voice is golden as ever.
I particularly enjoyed his cover of the Clash’s classic tune, “Guns of Brixton.”
But every cut is a winner.

SOUNDGARDEN – King Animal (Deluxe Edition)

 Yes that's right...
after a 16-year break, the members of Soundgarden have released a brand new CD with the band completely intact and rocking as well as ever.  Chris Cornell is in fine form, and Kim Thayil still can make his guitar roar.  The most unusual thing about “King Animal” is that it essentially picks up exactly where the band left off on “Down on the Upside.”  This album could’ve come out in 1998 or 1999.  Nothing about it screams 2012.  Muscular workouts like “Non-State Actor” and “Been Away Too Long” would be huge hits if radio still played rock music.  Let’s hope this reunion sticks and that there is more to come because it is simply good music. And Rock is not dead.
Though it smells funny.

Our Sponsors Today