Wednesday, January 31, 2007

An Open Letter to Lulabell Petunia, by America Jones

sometimes too much
hurt for sleep, toss
cigarettes at dawn into
the troubled darkness...

a flower a stone
inkblots on paper
and silence like an

the fly will live for two days
bouncing against the window
trying to escape

(i feel flat like the discredited
mythic earth)

then go crazy
from banging
against the glass,

(i feel too flat)

one of my earliest memories
is of a recurring nightmare

(so to think of all that’s been
destroyed forever)

lost the ability to dream
(too often listening to the
latest imperial decree,
as blanket night falls
out the windows
or in the day,

a homesick nothingness out there
somewhere, which, as though hope
and struggle were a vacuum,
takes hold and tries to fill the
quiet dark beside
blue glow

drains away muffled under
whispers, a lone pilgrim wading
across the violent desperate
wilderness for news of fighting
at the front, where children die
and the mountains ablaze drown
the moon and steal the darkness.

our lady
of a thousand bleeding eyes,
with pangs of hunger that flow from
your heart as streams flow from
mountains to the lowland lakes:

i beg you bear solicitude to the
countless inherent confusions
relinquished at the gates of your
cathedral for beggars, who, thirsting
and weary from desert travels,
lick from the thorns and thistles of
the heartless wilderness lead and
mercury morning dew...

been getting on the wrong busses lately,
twisted on the floor
a wrenching free of my selfhood,
into this struggle to spread goodness
resonating throughout the cosmos
by sheer force of will...

the doctor listens patiently
how i think if we decide
to violate the sovereignty of north korea,
perhaps before dropping bombs across
the countryside we ought first to spend
a few years and a few hundred billion
dollars dropping, every day,
rose petals and lego building blocks,
recordings of bach, miles davis, and kurt
schwitters, mash reruns and anti-war art films,
paint supplies, canvases and computers
and diesel generators, instructions for
producing bio-diesel fuel
and books of shakespeare, leroi jones,
and walt whitman’s 1855 leaves of grass,
and stuffed animals, and blankets and clothes
and grain and livestock and medicine
and soap and water filters and radios
and solar panels and wind turbines,
and then see whether the people will
continue to abide patiently in their
subjugation, or seek the liberty to
attain our company in peace and
mutual respect...

are we really a warlike breed, with wargod
wrath and warbroken spirits
and fierce to first taste blood
so long ago... why the whale went from land
back into the ocean, to maintain a breed
purged of potential cannibalism...

one human abstinence massages affably,
a ritual honor,
a bear quarrels coming under lingo,
a cappuccino is spilled, a mockingbird’s
ceremonial consecration.

beware the rocks ahead,
ye without faith but in the
sword and war-chariot!

they break open wide and fanned
to the wind,
deflated in some fatalistic
psychopathic daisy
quarreling down to the splintered
shards of corrupting implements.
keep an eye on more societies, and by
the clumsy
face in the rainy world!

omit the absurd cannibalism!
blood! blood! beware the rocks!

so many options in fierce clarifications,
a papal serenade upon patriarchal elephants,
to demonstrate by force that verse is no secret
miracle, but bloodshed...

why are psychological games
games evaluate.

a wide audience's jolly nuns often point out
the comfort a wide audience provides for the dainty,
the mathematical, and the deep. this is fine for them.

if one yearns to long for the support of the divine,
one must escape as from a slaughter, break out
of each youth, increasing the number of fenestrations,
campaign around psychological games! one must
subjugate languidly the feelings of biochemistries,
the principles of golden chauvinisms!

a minister of uptown beings
was buying bugs for hopeful queens
these dreamy tiny harvard queens
were pricing dreams for random beings...

with automations,
ordained sensually
only the quite clinical
people around the bath
know how to rationalize

but their angelic yarn is
variable, a spinster’s swan
in the chastity, or an arrogant
cautionary or malignant respect
which far surpasses women of
fatalistic atheists, foulmouthed
parenthoods and competitions,
useful obligations, or willing
daytimes, fallacies, or captors,
or even absolute, bizarre orgies...

give something

the firm cosmic parenthoods
seething crafty obsolete apartments...

a fisherman of uptown deans
was fixing drugs for silent fiends
these hopeful random harvard fiends
were pricing sex for new york queens

flavorless capricious charismatic onslaughts
will be
celestial formless...

loving man of hopeless scenes
was catching drugs for friendly deans
these new york hopeful hopeless deans
were pricing fun for harvard deans

a strange chorus follows...

what else, then, to assert
a lack of confusion but
profusion of utter bewilderment,
in all truth,
when words
must fail,
but poetry live...

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Modern Contemplative in Wartime

It is difficult to live the life of a contemplative in an age so fraught with strife, iniquity, and callousness. History, replete though it may be with violent conflict, has until recent decades never presented so many individuals with the threats we face today. Climate change, global war, and the spread of preventable disease, despite our collective ability to end such horrors, are epidemic. It is hard to make sense of a world where so many individuals struggle under these and other pervasive oppressions, with meaningless employment or debt, while the unimaginably wealthy, who profit from these struggles of others, cloister themselves away from the misery they’ve wrought.

When by the hands of ruthless oligarchs, lobbyists, and corrupt legislators, employment is systematically converted into a form of global oppression, there are relatively few problems that can be directly confronted by individuals, who are enslaved by market forces and daily distracted by unnecessary struggles. One turns perhaps to anger, violence, indulgence, or subservience as means towards the cessation of one’s struggles, if only for temporary release from bewilderments that render one deaf or mute before the presence of seemingly insurmountable corruptions, which threaten by their weight and inertia to drag down or hold back even the most simple of aspirations.

The contemplative of the Globalizing era, who seeks to struggle against war without engaging in violence, to procure sustenance without engaging in exploitation or oppression, who must look inwards while the sounds of the city beg endless distractions, must contend with an array of strange influences which the archetypal contemplatives of ages past were able to avoid; our present state of media saturation ensures that even if one does not watch commercial television, one is still made aware every time Tom Cruise has a baby.

Lovers of nature and seekers of simplicity are today most often without recourse to agrarian self-sufficiency or freedom from an increasingly invasive media landscape. Although by enculturation we lack personal knowledge of the ways of the seasons, of the soil, and of the stars, we move mountains, carve valleys and craters, redirect rivers, and create lakes. We shape the earth with machinery and color the heavens with the din of sodium vapor electrified, and claim dominion over the air itself with bands of electromagnetic radiation that turn the ionosphere into a deadly weapon. And what outrage will halt these machinations?

Anger, violence, indulgence... a fearful subservience before these unnatural powers, which can take from men and women their livelihoods or their lives with the stroke of a pen or the push of a button...

For all our modern refinement, we mask the visage of war in grotesque displays of nationalism and sacrifice, and deny our “savage” forbearers the nobility of their insights into the horrors of violence. The Vikings who fought their battles hallucinating on mushrooms, or the Aztec priests who, in ecstatic trances, tore out the living hearts of youths knew that to obscure the nature of violence was a grievous error that their civilization could not endure.

The symbolic lessons of our Western culture are so often buried under the clinical verbiage of disease and disorder that we no longer see why we inscribe our skin with tattoos, pierce our flesh, or why at birth we mutilate the genitals of our boys (to remind us all how powerless we shall be at the time of our death). Our clinical rituals are designed to hide from us any inkling we shall one day perish, while at the same time, on the other side of the globe, we cause scores of senseless deaths and permit the brutalization of the innocent for the sake of some man’s profit.

We have stockpiles enough of weapons to defeat any adversary by way of wiping clean the planet of our race, yet we continue to invest more resources in our military than our education, our art, and our starving citizens combined. Although our military expenditures are equal to those of the next nine most industrialized nations together, we encounter great difficulties gaining ground against insurgents in an impoverished plot of land in the middle of the desert: what can this mean but that war is some madman’s game, who defines victory how he sees fit? How can this be more sensible than peace?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ouroboros Meditation

America Jones was born the day the burning building, the burning bush. Was first the crow to cross the birth, broke the window flat on floor, maggots turned from splintered break. Was thus she raised the son with pious fury. Utterly alone. America a war red white and blue stripe and star, alone an island ocean. Alone her savage want of suckle at her breast. With want to taste her honey. Beyond the water ocean darkness demons fell to madness in the winter silence nordic forests all was still. Was then with song the seed was laid and grow. Them seed as water taint the sky, falling ash. Her sing the hymn of forests. Have winter here is darkness.

Soft! What possible music, my dear sweet lady, could scarce then deign to consecrate the carnal rectangle of your nubile eyelash, to whisper amber sweetness, in gardens of flowerly bliss...

there are trapezoids such, octagons, and newsprint... when the device is activated with radio waves, it emits a quick burst of identifying data. this is how we keep track of you. very soon, somebody will turn you in.

you can drown in emanations, saintly prefix exclusion, the arabesque radiocafe...

analytical devices analog maneuver, i do not travel by auto. always then happens always most often, eternity never repeats. yet still this strange, uncomfortable titular consolation, that perhaps it is not God who judges, but rather it is God who is judged. This is a sickness to heal the heart like starvation, a cathedral then, home to beggars pimps and priests all the blessed poor in spirit, a sickness of the heart the automobile daily rapes her ovaries to suckle the genitals of banking institutions, and lives taken in occupation...

A betrothal in chains to this tender war machine, a life to struggle with wakefulness or sleep, fear or love of marriage for a martyr’s death... i do not think it well to hope for recovery from this sickness, as lust is but a cruelty of imagination, such is the danger in truth (the open grave of faith), a stale dew upon the corpses of whole civilizations gone mad...

What whispers tell of what remains, what should yield the hunger of these savage thoughts, this animal need... i do not think it well to hope for recovery from this illness... nor needn’t watch the moon as swallowed by the pregnant ouroboros vagrant escapades, nor the tangled bowels of the living machinery torn from the bleeding wall...

And broken glass, so beautifully abused... nor need to hear these screams through night, sickly hallucinations above the rooftops, and radiate disease in luminous night... for buildings to dream the cathode rays fluorescent, beneath the unanimous horizon...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

More Questions than Answers

Is it too much to ask that our President pronounce "nuclear" correctly? Is this perhaps some strange metaphor for the nature of his resolve? Is he willing to take on not only Iraq, but moreover every English dictionary and encyclopedia on the planet? Or does he just plan on the rest of us obediently adapting to his will?

Oligopoly IS Free Market Economies

As American schoolchildren, we are taught that in traditional free-market Capitalism, producers compete for consumers by making a better product at a lower cost. We are taught about the dangers of monopoly power, the pitfalls of Communism, and something or other about the success or failure of laissez-faire economics. We are taught that free-market Capitalism works the way it does because when a consumer is presented with a choice, he or she will behave according to a certain conception of rationality: consumers will purchase the most product available at the lowest price available.

But how do producers compete when costs are as low as possible? Or when prices are as low as the competition will allow? This latter question may seem strange: why extend to one’s competitor the power to price one’s own product? Because our globalizing, vertically-integrated economy is founded upon such a pricing scheme, which is the consequence of a market structure known as oligopoly.

Oligopoly means that a very few firms have extensive influence over groups of markets, a situation that results from decades of wide-spread acquisitions and mergers. Such an environment changes the nature of economic competition: two parent firms that that have competing subsidiaries in one market may require different subsidiaries to cooperate in another market. As John Malone put it in the Financial Times: “Nobody can really afford to get mad with their competitors” (May 28, 1996).

Consider Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola. There are few differences between these two products: they are delivered in much the same way (bottles and cans), they contain many of the same ingredients (high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, water), and the difference in cost is negligible. Yet we say they are competitors. In what sense, then, do they compete, if not for access to consumers’ wallets?

In markets dominated by oligopolies, producers appeal not to consumers’ wallets, but rather to their hearts and minds; brand name identity is a vital part of this condition.

The brand is largely a symbolic entity, composed often of a material product, stylized packaging, and a marketing strategy that emphasizes novel features (frequently described as “revolutionary,” “advanced,” or “innovative,” although just as frequently such features represent relatively minor or obvious improvements over existing products).

Coca-Cola competes by creating marketing strategies that attempt to make its consumers feel better than consumers of competing brands. Often these marketing strategies rely on one subsidiary endorsing another to lend some aspect of one brand’s symbolic qualities to another.

When pictures of the Little Mermaid show up on soft drink cans, is this Disney endorsing Coca-Cola or is this Coca-Cola endorsing Disney? Really, it is neither and both; the question is like asking whether the hand endorses the mouth by eating.

Producers under oligopoly use marketing to compete for access to markets, and consumers are left to compete with eachother. Because vertically-integrated companies are able to control all aspects of a product, from design to production to distribution, oligopolies are able to leverage this ability to influence the behavior of consumers (by manipulating supply and demand). Because the economic value of a product is to a large extent determined by the perception of scarcity on the part of consumers, an oligopoly is able to charge whatever it wants for certain products by limiting the availability of that product. We see this every couple of years now when Sony releases a new version of the PlayStation: a limited supply coupled with successful marketing forces consumers to compete, while Sony, the producer, rakes in the profits.

The real danger of a globalizing oligopoly is that it makes brand identification akin to a form of nationalism, while the entities to which consumers pledge allegiance have no national allegiances themselves. Globalization, for all the well-deserved criticism maintained by the activist left, may be a natural and inevitable consequence of human evolution. At the same time, this neither means that the United States ought to be the monopolist of globalization, nor that the United States ought to sit by passively while multinational corporations subvert national boundaries and exploit poverty for the purposes of cheap labor. At the end of the day, the exploitation of the global labor force really benefits only a very few individuals, and consumers are left to finance their own subjugation.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

fragment of fragments of a heuristic anaphora

of two or more successive verses, clauses, or sentences.
Compare epistrophe (def. 1), symploce.
(s. Of frangere to break) + -mentum -ment] Synonyms 1 3. See part. Unabridged (v 1.1) Based on the Random House

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Living Doctrine

When one is consumed with War one can see no hope for Peace, but only that immediate victory with which one secures a stronger position for the next conflict. War is a virus, a sickness, an ideology which upholds the Natural death of the Body beyond the mystical transfiguration of the Soul, while espousing the sanctity of Violence. War is costly, in that it extracts from Life all those things for which a Man or Woman struggles until Death makes its frightful presence known.

Peace also comes at a price, albeit a small one compared to the Myriad costs of War. Peace does not mean giving up one's pride: there ought to be pride in saying, "I made this Peace." Peace does not mean giving up one's Life: Peace is antithetical to this. Peace is not compromise, cowardice, or perfection. Peace is, most simply, the renunciation of Violence.

Peace means struggle: against the influence of Fascism, terror, brutality, corruption. There are many things worthy of great struggles, and it is true that sometimes struggle means combat. But combat is not Violence. The martial arts are quite beautiful and football is entertaining. War is Violence, killing is Violence, torture is Violence, and bigotry is Violence.

There is no Violence in a State of Nature: Freedom is perpetual combat. But Liberty demands Peace because it represents a commitment to Life.

If the value of Liberty is determined by Absolute means, it is important to recognize that a superlative Liberty is paradoxical, with flaws and incompletenesses that entail their own - often, contradictory - ethical imperatives.

The alternative is to view Liberty as a Living Doctrine engaged in a Struggle to perpetuate Life, Beauty, and Goodness. If we accept that Liberty is alive, and so imbued with Intelligence and Grace that we, as Citizens, deem it fit to be led by such a principle, then we are bound to provide what this Life requires for its sustenance: we must struggle for all that Peace represents.

How can We find Peace while in fear of the State? Where is Peace when we have weapons of mass destruction at our disposal, starvation in our streets and elsewhere, oppression, desolation, and apathy, when we daily throw away the daily Labor of untold numbers of Men and Women simply because it is convenient? What does it mean when we have whole industries devoted to managing our waste - not to extract useful materials from it, but to take it by truck, rail, and boat to the nearest place out of sight?

It is our responsibility as Citizens in a participatory Democracy to not just observe our National Rights, but to own and assert them.

Monday, January 15, 2007

On the Symbolism of Dr. King's National Memorial

When one considers Dr. King, I think it is important to separate the Man from the Icon. Although the Man may be considered flawed in some way, his spiritual struggle was always to increase the total Good in the Nation and in the World. Men are never perfect: our Literary Christ also cried, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani.” For Dr. King, the Man aside, the tribute paid his Name by the National Memorial is a truly poetic way to incorporate his Icon into the fabric of our Nation’s heritage.

The Memorial site, situated on a “line of leadership” connecting the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, is landscaped to include cherry trees that blossom at the time of Dr. King’s death, and a stone walkway along the water’s edge.

The intent of the landscaping is to emphasize Water, Stone, and the Tree as key symbolic features of the site.

Water is used to symbolize Justice. Justice, like Water, will dissolve all obstacles, by Force or by Patience.

Stone is used to symbolize the Democratic Struggle. The relationship of Dr. King’s National Monument to the Monuments of other leaders urges us to remember that other Men have struggled to erect these Monuments. Deliberately unfinished channels of Water flowing into the Stone walkway remind us that the Struggle is as unending as the Tide.

The Tree is used to symbolize Hope. Although Nature is a product of cycles, and the Mother of cruel Winter, Life must by Nature pursue the Beautiful and the Good.

Venerated messages from Antiquity resonate with the symbolism of Dr. King's Monument, from Plato who taught that Life is worth little if not for Poetry, to the Icons of our Democracy.

This symbolism is universal: Nature sees that mountains always rise, and Natures sees that any mountain can be washed away... but we, as Men under Nature, need Peace to preserve these Monuments for other Men.

Genetic Modeling of Homosexuality

An Ars Technica article on the genetic modeling of homosexuality discussing a study published by the Royal Society asks the question, "If there was a gene that controlled homosexuality - and hence limited reproduction - how could it be favored to exist?"

The question assumes that gay men could not reproduce with gay women if necessary, or if cultural rituals existed to support such behavior.

If a genetic trait for homosexuality is not expressed in every generation then it may still be propagated. Homosexuality, if genetic, may be the product of several genes that also serve other useful purposes. Genetic features responsible for homosexuality may be part of the inter-genomic DNA, which is not subject to the same evolutionary pressures as protein-encoding genes.

Furthermore, not all genes exist to increase an organism's ability to physically couple with a mate. If we didn't have homosexuals, a lot of straight people who work for television shows like "Will and Grace" might not have a job, and thereby procure the goods and services upon which they rely.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

fragmentary aggregations


you can accept the premises that

1. your communications are being monitored
2. there are computerized as well as human monitors
3. somebody somewhere is paying attention


1. you dislike domestic eavesdropping
2. you're not sure your legislature can do much about it
3. you don't think you are powerless


1. talk to those who pay attention
2. deny monitors the value of your metadata - this is secret, indirect taxation
3. do not fear the consequences if you are not a terrorist

use google to tell the national security agency what you think.

get pro-active and email your concerns to media outlets.

leave cryptic phone messages every chance you get.

in this age patriots refuse to serve. just as wars cannot be fought without soldiers, the private/military surveillance apparatus cannot function without ideological devotees.

loyalty to the country always, loyalty to the government when it deserves it.

be critical of rhetoric exploiting religious sentiment in extremist politics.

the christian conception of god is inherently self-contradictory (mystical in character).


1. god is omniscient
2. god is omnipotent
3. god is morally perfect (incapable of evil)

it follows that:

1. if god is omniscient and omnipotent, god knows what evil is and is able to do evil
2. premises 1 (omniscience) and 2 (omnipotent) contradict premise 3 (moral perfection)
3. anything follows from a contradiction
4. "god is on our side" can be used to justify anything, moral or immoral

be pro-active, engage with a positive aesthetic of cryptocyberanarchism, make poetry out of terror, use as many of the following words in context as possible:

Rewson, SAFE, Waihopai, INFOSEC, ASPIC, MI6, Information Security, SAI, Information Warfare, IW, IS, Privacy, Information Terrorism, Terrorism Defensive Information, Defense Information Warfare, Offensive Information, Offensive Information Warfare, The Artful Dodger, NAIA, SAPM, ASU, ASTS, National Information Infrastructure, InfoSec, SAO, Reno, Compsec, JICS, Computer Terrorism, Firewalls, Secure Internet Connections, RSP, ISS, JDF, Ermes, Passwords, NAAP, DefCon V, RSO, Hackers, Encryption, ASWS, CUN, CISU, CUSI, M.A.R.E., MARE, UFO, IFO, Pacini, Angela, Espionage, USDOJ, NSA, CIA, S/Key, SSL, FBI, Secert Service, USSS, Defcon, Military, White House, Undercover, NCCS, Mayfly, PGP, SALDV, PEM, resta, RSA, Perl-RSA, MSNBC, bet, AOL, AOL TOS, CIS, CBOT, AIMSX, STARLAN, 3B2, BITNET, SAMU, COSMOS, DATTA, Furbys, E911, FCIC, HTCIA, IACIS, UT/RUS, JANET, ram, JICC, ReMOB, LEETAC, UTU, VNET, BRLO, SADCC, NSLEP, SACLANTCEN, FALN, 877, NAVELEXSYSSECENGCEN, BZ, CANSLO, CBNRC, CIDA, JAVA, rsta, Active X, Compsec 97, RENS, LLC, DERA, JIC, rip, rb, Wu, RDI, Mavricks, BIOL, Meta-hackers, ^?, SADT, Steve Case, Tools, RECCEX, Telex, Aldergrove, OTAN, monarchist, NMIC, NIOG, IDB, MID/KL, NADIS, NMI, SEIDM, BNC, CNCIS, STEEPLEBUSH, RG, BSS, DDIS, mixmaster, BCCI, BRGE, Europol, SARL, Military Intelligence, JICA, Scully, recondo, Flame, Infowar, FRU, Bubba, Freeh, Archives, ISADC, CISSP, Sundevil, jack, Investigation, JOTS, ISACA, NCSA, ASVC, spook words, RRF, 1071, Bugs Bunny, Verisign, Secure, ASIO, Lebed, ICE, NRO, Lexis-Nexis, NSCT, SCIF, FLiR, JIC, bce, Lacrosse, Flashbangs, HRT, IRA, EODG, DIA, USCOI, CID, BOP, FINCEN, FLETC, NIJ, ACC, AFSPC, BMDO, site, SASSTIXS, NAVWAN, NRL, RL, NAVWCWPNS, NSWC, USAFA, AHPCRC, ARPA, SARD, LABLINK, USACIL, SAPT, USCG, NRC, ~, O, NSA/CSS, CDC, DOE, SAAM, FMS, HPCC, NTIS, SEL, USCODE, CISE, SIRC, CIM, ISN, DJC, LLNL, bemd, SGC, UNCPCJ, CFC, SABENA, DREO, CDA, SADRS, DRA, SHAPE, bird dog, SACLANT, BECCA, DCJFTF, HALO, SC, TA SAS, Lander, GSM, T Branch, AST, SAMCOMM, HAHO, FKS, 868, GCHQ, DITSA, SORT, AMEMB, NSG, HIC, EDI, benelux, SAS, SBS, SAW, UDT, EODC, GOE, DOE, SAMF, GEO, JRB, 3P-HV, Masuda, Forte, AT, GIGN, Exon Shell, radint, MB, CQB, TECS, CONUS, CTU, RCMP, GRU, SASR, GSG-9, 22nd SAS, GEOS, EADA, SART, BBE, STEP, Echelon, Dictionary, MD2, MD4, MDA, diwn, 747, ASIC, 777, RDI, 767, MI5, 737, MI6, 757, Kh-11, EODN, SHS, ^X, Shayet-13, SADMS, Spetznaz, Recce, 707, CIO, NOCS, Halcon, NSS, Duress, RAID, Uziel, wojo, Psyops, SASCOM, grom, NSIRL, D-11, DF, ZARK, SERT, VIP, ARC, S.E.T. 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Meade SEAL Team 6 Honduras PLO NSA terrorist Ft. Meade strategic supercomputer $400 million in gold bullion quiche Honduras BATF colonel Treasury domestic disruption SEAL Team 6 class struggle smuggle M55 M51 Physical Security Division Room 2A0120, OPS 2A building 688-6911(b), 963-3371(s). Security Awareness Division (M56) Field Security Division (M52) Al Amn al-Askari Supreme Assembly of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SAIRI) Binnenlandse Veiligheidsdienst Komitet Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti Federalnaia sluzhba besopasnosti GCHQ MI5

Hollywood Politics

Right-wing Republicans are Satan-worshipping militant homosexual pedophile war-profiteers and have no legitimate claim to a platform of moral superiority. Neocons are Fascists.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

fragment of a heuristic...

Kafka Saddam Hussein

"Trial resumes with Saddam's empty chair..."
- Monday, January 8, 2007.

Energy Independence and Energy Leadership

Whether cars are fueled by ethanol or gasoline, the traditional internal combustion engine, at best, is only about 30% efficient. This means that 70% of the energy we put into our cars is thrown away.

New hydrogen reformer technology is able to convert gasoline into hydrogen fuel for automobiles. This conversion equipment can be installed on-site at existing gas stations, using our current energy distribution infrastructure to provide refueling points for "early-adopter" consumers of hydrogen fuel cell automobiles.

Because hydrogen fuel cell automobile engines can achieve about 80% efficiency, as a long-term energy strategy this represents an achievable solution to our National problem with foreign energy dependency. Reformer technology is not, however, an instant solution.

These high efficiency ratings will depend on continued research into effective ways to manufacture and store hydrogen, including such technologies as polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells, wind turbines, supercapacitors, and possibly even metamaterials. Incorporating hydrogen into the electrical infrastructure could give consumers real choices regarding where they purchase their energy.

Furthermore, the jury is still out as to whether the use of ethanol puts more pollution into the environment than burning a similar quantity of gasoline, since, typically, most of the energy used to produce ethanol comes from coal-burning powerplants.

It took 20 years from the time reports of global warming first appeared in the popular press until the time when the general press decided to agree that global warming is a real problem. Neither America nor the Earth can wait that long before we thoughtfully examine our energy habits.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Diplomacy for the War at Home

If we are to fight a War at Home - waged by the NSA, the FBI, the Pentagon, the DIA - against terrorist threats to our Homeland, are we to do so in such a manner as to deliberately rule out any possible diplomatic solution?

If we are to trust our Government's assertion that a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq would increase the risk of terror attacks on our Homeland, and if it is the goal of our Government to remove our troops expediently and expidiciously, then it follows that a non-military approach to solving our National Quagmire is essential. Distasteful though it may seem, the search for a diplomatic victory may require the formal recognition of Al Qaeda, and a diplomatic relationship with this formal body.

I think it can be taken as obvious by now that Al Qaeda is not some loose band of thugs and theives hiding out in mountain caves, but is a group of individuals who are organized and resourceful, who confess a group identity, and who associate with various similar groups of individuals.

In terms of the phenomenology of the movement, it may be worthwhile to consider nationalism as a mechanism to account for Al Qaeda. If it seems odd to think of Al Qaeda in nationalistic terms - we are, after all, told Al Qaeda is a "network" - it is worth noting that we speak of "the Palestinians" as we speak of nationalities. We hear the President speak of "Palestine," although no such State has yet been established.

Any number of causes can be used to account for the motivations of individual members of Al Qaeda. Some individuals, certainly, are motivated by ideology; some, certainly, are so lost as human beings they hate our Country enough to die just to prove it. Others, likely, are motivated by what they've seen America do in Iraq, Panama, Angola, or the disputed Israeli territories - these latter persons motivated by desperation and the fear they will be assimilated next.

Were America to publicly recognize Al Qaeda as we recognize Nations, and open formal diplomatic negotiations, we could meaningfully ask the question, "How can we help make the Middle East more stable, prosperous, and egalitarian?" The asking of the question in such a context - backed by the demonstrable Will and ability to help carry out positive initiatives - means violence would no longer be a necessary first and last resort.

We must eliminate the need for terror as a political approach by separating terror as a tactic from the ideologies terrorists represent. In the absence of desperation, a radical approach is not necessary. Diplomacy as an outstretched hand gives reason to doubt the need for desperate measures.

Our Government must acknowledge the problematic nature of its present Middle East policy in order to demonstrate our leadership is not so rigid as to be unmoved even in the face of its own citizenry. We must demonstrate that our military presence in the Middle East does not represent a Colonial occupying force. We must demonstrate that our relationship with regional leaders is sufficiently developed as to facilitate regional cooperation.

Because cultural familiarity will be vital to successful diplomacy, we must build enduring ties with regional institutions, such as universities, art and natural history museums, humanitarian and civil liberties organizations, and entreprenurial or trade associations. We must help motivate Europe and China to engage in similar iniatives. We should help facilitate trade between the Middle East, South America, and Africa, possibly by subsidizing transportation or by providing training in management strategies. Al Qaeda must be granted the status of Nation; identified as such, these people will most likely seek to establish a State, and the interest of this people will require legitimate advocacy.

We must bring a truly global body of allies (and the whole array of their interlocked interests) to the negotiation table to produce a consensus regarding the appropriate steps for US troop withdrawal from the Middle East. As the United States Government contemplates new fronts in the War on Terror - from the Middle East to Asia to Africa - truly global negotiations with a formal body representing Al Qaeda are becoming increasingly necessary if we are to avert a global economic and humanitarian disaster.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Ethics and Legislation of Stem Cell Research

Indiana Representative Mike Pence, contesting new House Legislation to authorize Federal funding for stem cell research, remarked, "Proponents of this legislation don't just want to be able to do embryonic stem-cell research...they want me to pay for it and, like 43 percent of Americans who believe that life begins at conception, I've got a problem with that."

Rep. Pence's remarks, which echo a Bush Administration statement on the matter, reveal a dangerous double-standard and a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means for our Federal government to collect and spend tax money. Considering that some 70 percent of Americans are obligated to fund a war in Iraq with which they disagree, I imagine there are relatively few Americans who would find no objection whatsoever to the use of their tax dollars.

Alexander Hamilton, in the Federalist No. 31, asserts that, "
A government ought to contain in itself every power requisite to the full accomplishment of the objects committed to its care, and to the complete execution of the trusts for which it is responsible, free from every other control but a regard to the public good and to the sense of the people."

Stem cell research represents an opportunity to provide effective cures and treatments for life-threatening diseases, to preserve liberty in various forms for those who suffer ailments that impinge upon the exercise of liberty (such as through the impairment of mobility, dexterity, or cognitive function), and to secure the pursuit of happiness on the part of those citizens constrained by such diseases as the Federal government is in a position to help cure.

Beyond the hypocrisy implied by pro-life Representatives who apportion funds to war over schools, art, and life-saving medical research, there is the blatant and concerted effort to obscure the fact that existing and accepted medical procedures (such as in vitro fertilization) create and discard precisely those types of cells required for stem cell research.

The position of Rep. Pence - that human life begins at conception - if not political (insofar as current purveyors of medical treatments have an economic interest in selling perpetual remediation, rather than a singular cure) is bound to be religious or arbitrary. By arbitrary I do not mean ridiculous or unfounded, but subject to the same qualifications as any definite demarcation between entities whose boundaries are porous or gradated. The Representative's criterion does not appear to be founded in the standards of our courts, which hold permissible those procedures that, given pressing medical concerns, affect the viability of an embryo only until that time when the embryo might support its own life independent of the mother and the womb. It is worth noting that this court standard is upheld by the thinkers of Greek Antiquity.

There remains the matter of personal conviction, which may be religious in character, or related to a secular ethic. Religious traditions, which in our Nation ought to be restricted in the degree to which they influence or direct political processes, are by no means unanimous as to whether human life begins at conception or at some later time. Within the Judeo-Christian Tradition, one finds in the
Babylonian Talmud, Yevamot 69b, the assertion that "the embryo is considered to be mere water until the fortieth day." Exodus 21:22, in discerning punishments for causing a miscarriage or the death of a pregnant woman, seems to assign to the fetus a value that is somewhat less than that of a fully-developed human.

Should the personal convictions the Representative and his like-minded companions be a matter of secular ethics, he and his companions have some explaining to do. How is it that one man with a few allies should withhold the Constitutional entitlements of so many?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Privacy, Surveillance, and Consumerism

The degree to which surveillance legislation and Internet advertising practices reach into the personal lives of Internet users is illustrated by These methods of producing, gathering, and disseminating information have rapidly become both pervasive and expensive. This cost is being subsidized by taxpayers and consumers, and the practices responsible for this cost are being propagated by legislators and advertisers at a time when our society lacks equally pervasive cultural idioms with which to meaningfully evaluate the philosophical, anthropological, and practical implications of these practices.

AOLstalker is a database of search queries conducted by AOL users. The information is organized according to which individual AOL users conducted various searches, and was collected between March 1, 2006 and May 31, 2006. Although the database was assembled for advertising purposes, AOLstalker appears to be an entertainment-oriented application of the data, and users of the site are encouraged to judge AOL users based on the humorousness of personal information revealed by the collected search queries.

The research that produced the database was conducted by AOL and Google, and released publicly. Derivative research has been conducted by authors Pass, Chowdhury and Torgeson, published as "A Picture of Search" for The First International Conference on Scalable Information Systems.

I happened upon AOLstalker after receiving a strange error message on MySpace. The error message included the domain name, which I did not recognize, and for which I subsequently performed a Google search. I received a result titled "Stalking users who searched for collect myspace com" at 2006-05-29 21:43:43, referencing the page:

This got me thinking about users who search for their own names, for various facts about their city or neighborhood, their family or friends, their financial institutions... all the personally-identifiable data revealed by user searches. Beyond the voyeuristic appeal of the intimate psychological portraits AOLstalker offers users, the AOLstalker database also represents a serious privacy and security issue. Were malicious coders able to exploit existing social networking systems like MySpace through phishing schemes or system hacks, a similar "live" database could prove just as lucrative to cybercriminals and authoritarians as it has proven to advertisers.

It is my hypothesis that there, in fact, exists somewhere a "live" version of the aolstalker database, which is tied to a bit of malicious code (or possibly even plain text that has been properly formatted) in MySpace. This code, I suspect, is propagated by third parties who trick MySpace users into posting the malicious code online.

Finally, I suspect, that some targets of the "live" MySpace version of AOLstalker have been victimized by users who treated the "live" database as a form of interactive entertainment, possibly accounting for some recent Internet postings about "gang stalking."

If aolstalker is driven by information that was "publicly" available, I think Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment provides a relatively straightforward illustration of why one should feel disconcerted by intelligence applications of similar technology such as the Intellipedia.

If our Democracy is to survive and thrive in peace, we must have ways to engage in meaningful discourse about the surveillance society in all its forms.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Science and the Afterlife

Regarding Deborah Blum's New York Times article "Ghosts in the Machine," on the electromagnetic induction of perceived paranormal phenomena.

Science and the afterlife have a long and intertwined history: Nicola Tesla and Thomas Edison were both interested in communications with the dead, and the RCA Victrola logo, according to Friedrich Kittler, is a depiction of a dog listening to its dead master's voice. The Spirtualist Movement in the early 20th Century America concerned itself with the photography of spirits, relying on the popular view of photography-as-truth associated with the new medium of photography as a means to justify such "radical" ideologies as women's sufferage.

Worth noting also, I think, are the military applications of the Nature study mentioned. Although the US government has recently made public its research into relatively straightforward electromagnetic weapons such as the "Active Denial System," the use of low frequency electromagnetic radiation as a weapon tageting the central nervous system has an extensive pedigree among American and Soviet military researchers. Capt. Paul Tyler's 1986 report, "The Electromagnetic Spectrum in Low-Intensity Conflict" (published in "Low-Intensity Conflict and Modern Technology," edited by Lt. Col. David Dean for the Air University Press, Center for Aerospace Doctrine, Research & Education, pp. 249-260) discusses some of these applications.

Moreover, remote implementations of a technique known as "transcranial magnetic stimulation" are bound to find similar applicability, if Hendricus Loos's recent patent filings are any indication of the direction this research has taken since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

This technology can be deployed broadly using various stochastic processes, by combining, for example, the effects of the HAARP radio array with the ELF transmitters.

Beyond the ability to influence the moods of large numbers of people, these technologies, combined with the electromagnetic blanket coverage of cellphone towers can be used to pinpoint individuals through the use of passive radar systems, yielding fairly specific sorts of effects.

The Police State wants you one way or another... to be a good consumer... keep the rich getting richer... or... ZAP!


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Free Will

Minor remarks concerning Dennis Overbye's excellent New York Times Article, "Free Will: Now You Have It, Now You Don't"

Regarding Dr. Levin's characterization of Godel's work on incompleteness, I find her use of the term "complex" problemmatic. A key point of the related Church-Turing Thesis is that a great many systems (both natural and formal) are equally complex - and that it really is not asking so much of these systems that they should behave in such a way. As is made especially clear by Zenon Pylyshyn in "Computation and Cognition," the import of Dr. Levin's statement to the subject of free will lies in the implications of how intelligence is defined, rather than complexity or representation. In a very real sense, the behavior of asteroids orbiting a star are every bit as complex as the behavior of a human brain (or mind, depending on how one chooses to discuss such things). The real questions here are "what is intelligence?" and "is intelligence a necessary or sufficient condition for free will?" Have you ever watched a time-lapse motion-picture of a vine crawling up a pole? Do the reachings of its tendrils and the twistings of its stem not look eerily intelligent?

As strange as it may seem, the most intuitive escape from this crisis of intuition comes from that most counter-intuitive branch of physics, quantum mechanics. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and the "spooky" phenomena of quantum entanglement, which so vexed Albert Einstein, say, literally and demonstrably, that the future is not determined. There are limits not only for knowledge, but also for causality and locality (Einstein may have been right to say that God does not play dice, but he was surely mistaken about what it means for God to do so). Mr. Overbye is quite right to say, "the more reasonably you try to act, the more unpredictable you are."

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

laying the foundations of the police state

Since 2004, the Bush Administration has aggressively pursued a program of federalizing law enforcement through the creation of "Intelligence Fusion Centers."

These centers are designed to serve as communications hubs, connecting local, state, and federal law enforecement agencies. By incorporating local agencies into the federal infrastructure, these centers expand the purview of federal intelligence gathering and enforcement.

The extent to which Intelligence Fusion Centers seek to expand federal law enforcement powers is perhaps best found in wording from the Fusion Center Guidelines, a document which exhorts state and local officials that "it is the responsibility of leadership to implement and adhere to the Fusion Center Guidelines."

On page 3 of the Guidelines Executive Summary, the document states that "nontraditional collectors of intelligence, such as public safety entities and private sector organizations, possess important information (e.g., risk assessments and suspicious activity reports) that can be 'fused' with law enforcement data to provide meaningful information and intelligence about threats and criminal activity."

The reference to "nontraditional collectors of intelligence" has a disconcerting resonance with the stated goal of Operation TIPS. The Terrorism Information and Prevention System ("TIPS") was an ill-fated Bush Administration effort to use postal workers and cable-TV technicians as informants, which ended when Rep. Dick Armey included specific legislation in the House's Homeland Security Bill to prohibit the program.

The single-mindedness with which the Bush Administration seeks to expand its executive power poses a clear and present danger to American democracy. Secret surveillance laws, secret detentions, secret national security subpoenas, and secret police all deprive Americans of the assurance that executive power is not exercized arbitrarily.

No use watching your back... you better pray the new gestapo doesn't dislike your politics.