Saturday, September 29, 2007

Squeeze, Baby, Squeeze

h/t-The War On Guns
March 7, 2000

Squeeze, Baby, Squeeze

by Patricia Neill

I don’t care what you call yourselves, communists or fascists, Democrats or Republicans, Congressmen or Presidents, judges or lawyers, feudal Lords or Monarchs, Multinational Corporations, Friends of the Great Spotted Suck Toad, Gas and Electric Utilities, the Sierra Club, the United Nations or the World Bank. You all have a totalitarian bent and aim for the State to own and control everything and everyone.

You are, in the words of one of the philosophers writing today, moral vultures.

You squeeze and squeeze and squeeze and the more the people of any nation yelp and protest, the more brutal you become.

Good. The more brutal you become, the more the people become aware of your game.

People will stand for quite a bit of your nonsense—but you know that. It also helps when you brainwash them silly and stupid with that scourge of modern times, the television. It is by means of television that you enure them to your violence, and your generic nazi tactics; as long as it isn’t happening to them, they can bear watching it happen to their neighbors. Go right ahead and roast some more Somali kids. We’ll watch.

But slowly, under all the layers of your televised sexuality and your televised violence, and the stupidity of your "news," the idea grows in millions of minds that they are watching the creation of the ugliest totalitarian/fascist beast yet.

Good. Please squeeze harder. Send out more of your goons masquerading as gang members in their cool black suits. Terrorize and kill even more citizens in "the drug-glazed informant told us the wrong house" drug raids. Jack more young pregnant wives up against the wall so they miscarry, and shoot more kids in the back. Use even more tanks.

Please continue, most of all, your policy of stealing property rights through land-grab environmentalism. This is the most important of all. After all, the great mass of humans can live without a free press—we’ve seen that in America for this entire century. By the insidious work of your televised sex and violence, you’ve made sure that people have lost their moral compass, so freedom of religion doesn’t much matter to them.

You’ve doing great with the "guns are evil monsters" routine as well. Very few care about justice, so all your illegal searches and seizures have profited you greatly.

Keep it up. Squeeze harder. Some blood needs to leak from our eyeballs.

Do it. Squeeze, baby, squeeze.

Please force more of our young daughters to spread their legs for your unnecessary and invasive government gynecological exams in the schools. Do not listen to their saying NO. Make them do it anyway. Please press all of our young men and women into involuntary servitude via your newest mechanism of "volunteerism." Make them suffer for it. Your doublethink on this issue alone is wonderful: involuntary volunteerism.

Orwell would be very impressed.

Squeeze. Squeeze harder.

Indoctrinate the young men and women of the Armed Forces a bit more. With your new sex trials, the men will vacate the service, leaving an armed force of whiny females to defend this country. Good job, that one. Do keep killing all the officials and journalists who discover your tricks and disagree with your policies via Apparent Suicide Syndrome. You’re doing great with this tactic, teaching people who is boss and what thoughts they are allowed to think and say.

With civilians, property rights will be the crux of the issue, which is why the people have had "Save the Earth From Humans" shoved quite prettily down their throats for the past 30 years. Please keep taking away our right—bought and paid for—to do what we wish with our houses, our property, our land. This is good. In fact, if you can manage it in the Congress turned Comintern, raise the taxes on producers, employers, and property owners until they cannot be borne. Put more people out of business and out of work with your "endangered species" ploy.

They won’t realize that truly they are the endangered species. Make more species "endangered," for that matter. Take a risk. You’ve earned it, and you’ve become quite good at the Big Lie: make cows and pigs and chickens unavailable for human consumption by putting them on the "endangered" list. Put all animals currently hunted or fished for food or sport "endangered" and then you can outlaw all small arms for civilians.

Squeeze. Squeeze much harder. It is, after all, what totalitarians do best.

You’re doing really well on the death front, with the older ones crying for Dr. Kevorkian to give them his tender mercies, and an entire generation of young women willing to kill their own blood and bone wholesale, aided by the Lords of Medicine. A fine job on this, since now the people can kill and be killed for the sake of convenience.

We’re coming to the historical point where you really start culling the herd of humans—but be careful here, since, after all, it’s those inconvenient humans who provide the money to support your totalitarian agenda. At least, don’t take too many all at once—a few invented in laboratories diseases will do to start—AIDS, Ebola, whatever. Don’t overdo it until the big push, of course.

But keep up the squeeze.

Use your free labor in prisons, where many of you have money invested, to make clothes and other goods for your consumption. This works well, too. Privatize prisons and run them on the Chinese model. If you run into trouble on this, note that most current (and rapidly becoming so) totalitarian governments can easily intimidate their herds of humans by using tanks against the people, and, needless to say, televising it.

Keep using informant lowlives to frame your enemies as well as the innocent among the people. Give the ones you catch extremely hard sentences for not knowing, say, that a government snitch had buried "pipe bomb material" on their property. That’s a nifty tactic, and one some people learned from mightily.

Do not prosecute your agents of the government bureaucracy no matter what laws they break, people they kill, or perjury they commit, whatever they may have done in the "line of culling the herd" just let it pass and cover it up. Make it very clear where the lines are drawn and for whom your laws apply. Among the people, the very very few are appreciative and aware of the lesson.

Squeeze Real Hard.

Keep lying through your teeth. Various current and former rulers are quite adept at this and it teaches the people discernment. This is a fine point, but important. The people learn when they hear when rulers or their agents say "No wrongdoing was done" in the face of blatant and obvious wrongdoing.

Keep well your paparazzi pets, the media. They will live as long and prosper as well as you. They serve you well. Have them oblige you even more by ignoring lies, deceptions, thefts and cover-ups by squeezing them just a touch as well.

Squeeze us even more, oh "kind-hearted" totalitarians. Until our eyeballs bleed.

On that day, we shall see you reap what you have sown. Home Page

Hillary, you listening?


Tomorrow, The Eggman...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The "Big Easy" Is...Not So Easy

If we are going to re-build our schools, it will have to be done outside the scope of the NEA, and what has to be re-built first is our understanding of what a family is, and what a family does to stay together. Unless the concept of family survives, as an entity, and as an integral part of our society, what we will get, are already getting, is the situation in New Orleans. Mr Vallas, the savior new superintendent of the schools outlined his position recently in the NYT:

The New York Times
Education Section

By Adam Nossiter
Published: September 24, 2007

A Tamer of Schools Has Plan in New Orleans

His plan is to have the schools be more than schools. They have to be substitute families, an idea that has been tried elsewhere, though rarely to this extent, and which remains a new concept in New Orleans.[em added]

Children are arriving at the schools here hungry, Mr. Vallas said, and they are going to bed hungry. In the summer, children broke into one school to raid a vending machine, they were so hungry. [**not sure that would pass the sniff test of being hungry] More than 90 percent of his 12,000-odd students in the Recovery School District, now run by the state, are in poverty, and the vast majority are being raised by single parents. Many are not being brought up by their biological parents, Mr. Vallas said, and some are not even living with guardians.

Under these circumstances, he said, focusing on the classroom is not enough. “You begin to provide the type of services you would normally expect to be provided at home,” Mr. Vallas said. That means giving the students three meals a day, including hot lunch and dinner. It means providing dental care and eye care.

He intends to tighten up in class as well: a smaller student-teacher ratio, more uniform instruction, new textbooks and technology, partnerships with universities and industry. He has replaced all but one of last year’s high school principals.

"You begin to make the schools community centers,” he said. “The whole objective here is to keep the schools open through the dinner hour, and keep schools open 11 months out of the year.” [em added]

It also means the government has an excellent opportunity to almost entirely replace the role of family in New Orleans, with all of the ramifications of individual psychic breakdown to follow. And it appears to be justified, almost necessary, seeing as how dysfunctional the family unit has become there. This too, is all part of the globalists' plan.

First, break down the family, the moral codes in the community, home discipline - provide welfare, wait for the inevitable slide into confusion and chaos. Extend that lack of focus and discipline into the school system, let the chaos reign for several decades, declare the schools a disaster - then build a school system intent on providing what the families should be able to easily provide for their children.

Make the school system a "sustainable" community center (who needs parents?) with huge gobs of federal money - and you have a mini socialist state - all right in the Big Easy - a hokey term, if I ever heard one. It's big alright, but it ain't easy.

I was born in New Orleans, but I wouldn't recognize it anymore. After decades of neglect on every level, it's become the "big easy" - for socialists who come riding into town on a wave of righteousness. First order of business: get rid of the riff-raff.

Am I being unfair? Following the Katrina disaster, there's been an unprecedented breakdown at the federal, state, parish and city levels. Katrina, by the way, wasn't as hurricanes go, all that bad. But the levee system was allowed to languish in benign neglect, despite repeated warnings, and the poorest section, Ward 9 caught the brunt of it, and residents are not getting support to carry on with their lives.

The powers-that-be are allowing the societal norms and standards to languish under the weight of poverty, ignorance, and hopelessness.

Katrina didn't destroy New Orleans. We did.

Is this simply a case of bureaucratic incompetence? Hardly. This breakdown has been going on in plain sight for decades. Not to worry, though. The federal government will come in, build community centers, and start doing the parent's job of nurturing and providing for their children.

Parents - who needs 'em?

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants an additional $190 billion to continue fighting wars - wars the US government started, but can't finish, because the rules of engagement make it virtually impossible to defeat a virtual enemy.

What's wrong with this picture?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Re-building Eden - The Great Utopian Cockup

John Taylor Gatto continues to offer his perspective of the elements of contemporary society and religion and elucidates the conflicting notions supporting present-day ideologies of education. It is a fascinating read for students of the modern school system. In determining a first-line of defense of "Western Values", we must come to understand the philosophical and moral precepts underlying our belief systems, both Christian and non-Christian alike. Gatto presents an historical view, not from a religious, rather from a rational perspective.

If we have any realistic notion of opposing the utopia-building ideas underpinning the present objectives of the globalist NEA's educational philosophy, we must come to know our own strengths and weaknesses. I think too, it will require a synthesis of old and new ideas; understanding the historical skein of the last 200 years is the key to opposing all radical ideologies currently focussed on de-humanizing our children, and thus our society-at-large.

Because it's Sunday, and the air here on the high plains is crisp and glorious, I'll begin with the hope-full end of Gatto's insightful essay,

"Against School"

How public education cripples our kids, and why

By John Taylor Gatto

John Taylor Gatto is a former New York State and New York City Teacher of the Year and the author, most recently, of The Underground History of American Education. He was a participant in the Harper's Magazine forum "School on a Hill," which appeared in the September 2003 issue.

Mr. Gatto:

...Now for the good news. Once you understand the logic behind modern schooling, its tricks and traps are fairly easy to avoid. School trains children to be employees and consumers; teach your own to be leaders and adventurers. School trains children to obey reflexively; teach your own to think critically and independently. Well-schooled kids have a low threshold for boredom; help your own to develop an inner life so that they'll never be bored. Urge them to take on the serious material, the grown-up material, in history, literature, philosophy, music, art, economics, theology - all the stuff schoolteachers know well enough to avoid. Challenge your kids with plenty of solitude so that they can learn to enjoy their own company, to conduct inner dialogues. Well-schooled people are conditioned to dread being alone, and they seek constant companionship through the TV, the computer, the cell phone, and through shallow friendships quickly acquired and quickly abandoned. Your children should have a more meaningful life, and they can.

First, though, we must wake up to what our schools really are: laboratories of experimentation on young minds, drill centers for the habits and attitudes that corporate society demands. Mandatory education serves children only incidentally; its real purpose is to turn them into servants. Don't let your own have their childhoods extended, not even for a day. If David Farragut could take command of a captured British warship as a pre-teen, if Thomas Edison could publish a broadsheet at the age of twelve, if Ben Franklin could apprentice himself to a printer at the same age (then put himself through a course of study that would choke a Yale senior today), there's no telling what your own kids could do. After a long life, and thirty years in the public school trenches, I've concluded that genius is as common as dirt. We suppress our genius only because we haven't yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves. read the rest

Trackposted to Right Pundits, Webloggin, Dumb Ox Daily News, Walls of the City, and Public Eye, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe, Woman Honor Thyself

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Six-lesson School Teacher

We've gone from this:

John Taylor Gatto, Teacher of the Year (1991), wrote this article in 1991 - just 16 years ago. It is so precise in its chilling accuracy, that all I can do is pass it on. 1991 is also the year he retired from the public school system in NYC, whereupon he spent the next 9 years researching and writing about the institution of "School". It is in a very concise form online, so I am posting only a small part - toward the end of the article. To find out what the six-lessons are all about, go here.

To this:

("Freedom High School")

Mr. Gatto -

...We've had a society increasingly under central control in the United States since just before the Civil War: the lives we lead, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and the green highway signs we drive by from coast to coast are the products of this central control. So, too, I think, are the epidemics of drugs, suicide, divorce, violence, cruelty, and the hardening of class into caste in the U.S., products of the dehumanization of our lives, the lessening of individual and family importance that central control imposes.

Without a fully active role in community life you cannot develop into a complete human being. Aristotle taught that. Surely he was right; look around you or look in the mirror: that is the demonstration.

"School" is an essential support system for a vision of social engineering that condemns most people to be subordinate stones in a pyramid that narrows to a control point as it ascends. "School" is an artifice which makes such a pyramidal social order seem inevitable (although such a premise is a fundamental betrayal of the American Revolution). In colonial days and through the period of the early Republic we had no schools to speak of. And yet the promise of democracy was beginning to be realized. We turned our backs on this promise by bringing to life the ancient dream of Egypt: compulsory training in subordination for everybody. Compulsory schooling was the secret Plato reluctantly transmitted in the Republic when he laid down the plans for total state control of human life.

The current debate about whether we should have a national curriculum is phony; we already have one, locked up in the six lessons I've told you about and a few more I've spared you. This curriculum produces moral and intellectual paralysis, and no curriculum of content will be sufficient to reverse its bad effects. What is under discussion is a great irrelevancy.

None of this is inevitable, you know. None of it is impregnable to change. We do have a choice in how we bring up young people; there is no right way. There is no "international competition" that compels our existence, difficult as it is to even think about in the face of a constant media barrage of myth to the contrary. In every important material respect our nation is self-sufficient. If we gained a non-material philosophy that found meaning where it is genuinely located -- in families, friends, the passage of seasons, in nature, in simple ceremonies and rituals, in curiosity, generosity, compassion, and service to others, in a decent independence and privacy -- then we would be truly self-sufficient.

How did these awful places, these "schools", come about?

As we know them, they are a product of the two "Red Scares" of 1848 and 1919, when powerful interests feared a revolution among our industrial poor, and partly they are the result of the revulsion with which old-line families regarded the waves of Celtic, Slavic, and Latin immigration -- and the Catholic religion -- after 1845. And certainly a third contributing cause can be found in the revulsion with which these same families regarded the free movement of Africans through the society after the Civil War.

Look again at the six lessons of school. This is training for permanent underclasses, people who are to be deprived forever of finding the center of their own special genius. And it is training shaken loose from its original logic: to regulate the poor. Since the 1920s the growth of the well-articulated school bureaucracy, and the less visible growth of a horde of industries that profit from schooling exactly as it is, have enlarged schooling's original grasp to seize the sons and daughters of the middle class.
Read the whole article

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Learning To Be Human

We are entering an uncertain age, stumbling toward an understanding of true spirituality. If we are to put the brakes on the current trend toward fundamental, intolerant ideologies, we need to see this problem from as many angles as we can get around.

I was researching Ivan Illich's work, and I came upon the Whole Earth, Spring 2003 - apparently the last published issue. There is a good amount of information about the man, as well as references to his works, and the large number of people he influenced (he died in 2002). More about him later.

Also in the 2003 Spring issue of Whole Earth, Alex Steffen interviews Jaron Lanier, a humanist.

As the thrust of Lanier's thoughts on current linear approaches to solving the world's non-linear problems go to the heart of Ivan Illich's body of work, lets see what a technically savvy, self-professed humanist has to say.



Artificial Intelligence, Cybernetic Totalism, and the loss of Common Sense

Alex Steffen interviews Jaron Lanier

Jaron Lanier is an artist, musician, and programmer, as well as the coiner of the term “virtual reality.” He’s also one of the more astute observers of technology’s impacts on society. We met over coffee in June in New York City, just blocks from Ground Zero, and our conversation left me with seven pages of some of the most interesting notes I’ve ever taken. Jaron agreed to do another interview to discuss technology, society,and the future. —AS

Alex Steffen: When we met in June, you said that there remain “earthshaking questions” about how computation, biotechnology, and materials science will develop in this new century. You went on to say that you see “cybernetic totalism” as “the characteristic delusion of our times,” and a danger. Why?

Jaron Lanier: Cybernetic totalism is the confusion of linear and nonlinear systems. A typical example of that is the enormous amount of funding and attention devoted to ideas about artificial intelligence that clearly can be seen to be hanging on an irrational idea about what intelligence might be and might not be. We have a notion that—just because you can show that a Turing machine, a common computer, can hypothetically do an enormous range of things —somehow all analytical problems are solvable. It’s sort of a new style of reductionism. Instead of saying my little abstraction proves everything, it’s saying that because we’ve proved a hypothetical equivalent between some range of computational problems, there’s no functional difference in the amount of time or effort it might take to solve those problems. All problems are solvable.

There’s another level though, an aesthetic or spiritual level. A whole class of scientists and engineers have adopted what you might call a new religion, where they hope to find comfort in the face of life’s uncertainty, especially in relation to questions of mortality, by turning themselves into machines, or hope to find immortality by downloading themselves into computers—that sort of thing.

AS: What kinds of questions might these attitudes obscure?

JL: Essential questions about how far we can go with technology and how fast. Some kinds of problems we know are hard to solve, but they’re hard to solve in a brute force way. We understand how hard we have to work to solve them. The best example of this is weather prediction. We have a pretty good idea of the nature of the problem of predicting the weather, and we know that if we want to do a better job of it, we have to get so much better at writing software for very large-scale computation, and we also have to get so much better at gathering very large amounts of data, and so forth.

Our engineering process, for weather prediction, is relatively linear—we know that if we put in given effort, money, and intellectual struggle, we’ll get out a roughly commensurate improvement. The natural system itself is complex, but the engineering effort to model it is a reasonably linear thing. Now in the case of studying how the human mind works, we have an entirely different scenario. We don’t have any idea what low-hanging fruit we might be about to discover, and we don’t have any idea what aspects of human cognition might make it extremely, extremely difficult to come up with a useful model. This is true for a whole lot of questions in biology.

Now, it’s rare to find a computer-oriented scientist or engineer who’s able to recognize the difference between these two kinds of problems. About once a month, there’ll be a headline that says researchers can tell us that some gene has something to do with an aspect of behavior— that, for instance, it might contribute to an aspect of depression— but really, the results they have are the most meager sort of explanations based on terms that we don’t even fully know how to define yet, so we don’t have any sense of how important these results are, or even if they’re in any way helpful for building a bigger picture. This is a classic confusion of linear and
nonlinear results.

AS: Would it be fair to say that one of the characteristic beliefs of cybernetic totalism is that if enough brute force is applied, all problems are linear?

JL: Exactly. Yes. And since brute force comes in the form of Moore’s Law, and the amount of brute force we can apply is growing at an exponential rate, there’s this idea that all problems are solvable, very soon. And it’s a short step to saying essentially there are no problems. That idea leads to this religious feeling of imminent transcendence. It’s a completely irrational stream of thought. It’s sort of a nerd’s path to religious ecstasy.

AS: You have spoken about the errors that can arise when we move from treating Moore’s Law as a (thus far) accurate prediction about the speed at which hardware improves, to treating it as a metaphor for the speed at which our power to understand and manipulate the world improves. Why is this an important distinction? What happens when we get it wrong?

JL: That distinction’s important because honest self-assessment is the first step in effective action of any kind. That’s why the entire scientific method is designed to prevent us from fooling ourselves. One place you see this fallacy is in artificial intelligence. Go back to the very origins of cybernetic totalism and visit poor Alan Turing— who probably made as big a single contribution to protecting human freedom as any single person, having broken the Nazi’s secret Enigma code during World War II. You’d find him under house arrest, being forced to take massive doses of female sex hormones to treat his homosexuality and developing breasts and becoming increasingly depressed, then eventually committing a strangely eloquent suicide in which he injects cyanide into an apple and then eats it.

During that time he develops this longing for transcendence (or psychological denial if you prefer). He imagines himself a computer and creates this test—known now as the Turing test—where a judge is asked to distinguish a computer from a person based only on written interaction with each, and declares that if the judge can’t distinguish them, the computer is as smart as a human.

The problem with Turing’s idea is not only that the judge can only compare one very limited means of human communication, but that the human in the test is just as likely to become stupid by conforming to the artificial limits of the situation as the machine is to be getting smarter.

Artificial intelligences are not people. They’re not really even intelligent. They’re programs. We forget this at our peril.

AS: Sherry Turkle has said that she thinks it’s a sign of great progress that little children take their apparently intelligent toys at “interface value.” You’ve said the danger is not that runaway AIs will get superintelligent, take over the world and stop needing us, but that mock AIs will be accepted as intelligent, even sapient, when they aren’t, and thus obscure the fact that somebody who is error-prone and serving his own agenda has programmed them.

JL: I think this is still true, but what I’m getting at is something larger. The claim of machine sentience is fundamentally false. The idea of sentient technology grabs attention and helps sell the technology. But we don’t fully grasp what consciousness itself means, so the idea that we can fully replicate it in machines, and then trust those machines to do our thinking for us, is really a departure from reality. The more we imagine ourselves becoming machines, the more we risk losing our humanity. We’re modeling ourselves after our own technologies—becoming some sort of anti-Pinocchios—and it’s insane.

AS: You sound worried about where we’re headed.

JL: I don’t know what sort of future we’re entering here, but it’s entirely possible that the twenty-first century is going to be a profoundly unhappy one—a century in which there isn’t much more technological advancement because the climate crashes or we slide into a series of horrible wars or whatever. But let’s imagine that’s not the case, and that there’s a large portion
of the world where things continue to work. Imagine, too, that Moore’s law continues to hold true. If that’s the future we enter, then we’ll all live in a world where every facet of our lives will be saturated in technology.

In that world, this new religion—cybernetic totalism—will be much more mainstream. Instead of just being a cult among a relatively small group of scientists and technologists, it could become a major movement. The metaphor I’d draw is to something like Marxism in the nineteenth century—there’s a seed of ideology here, and it’s not certain how big it will get or how far from its origins it will drift. It’s possible this whole thing will just float away and it won’t be all that important to criticize it. It seems important to come up with a critical response to it now, though, because I think it’d be a really grossly dysfunctional mass movement.

All forms of fundamentalism dehumanize those who don’t share their ideas. But cybernetic totalism in a sense dehumanizes the human race, saying that people are just a stepping stone to some other evolutionary machine being or destination.

No person matters anymore. This is incredibly dangerous. If we had some way of knowing that we were on the path to creating some greater being, maybe we would all be willing to commit suicide to bring it about. The problem is, because of the Turing test paradox, we can’t know that. Any postulated posthuman being is at this point absolutely a matter of fantasy.

AS:And yet,there’s very little intelligent critique of the idea ofThe Singularity. Most people who criticize it seem to be just run-of-the-mill technophobes.

JL:Unfortunately, of the people who’ve written works cautioning against the ideology of The Singularity, few have technological backgrounds. Part of it is that the preponderance of members of the elite computer science community are at least partially sympathetic. Another is that many engineers are relatively tone-deaf to aesthetics or morality because they’re people who dwell in the realm of value-free problem solving.

There’s something about that that’s sort of charming. But it leads to very few critics having any idea what they’re talking about. There’s a gap between those who understand these technologies and the, I almost said, secular world.

AS: You write of a danger that “the gulf between the richest and the rest could become transcendently grave. The possibilities that they will become essentially different species are so obvious and so terrifying that there is almost a banality in stating them. The rich could have their children made genetically more intelligent, beautiful, and joyous. Perhaps they could even be genetically disposed to have a superior capacity for empathy, but only to other people who meet some narrow range of criteria. Even stating these things seems beneath me, as if I were writing pulp science fiction, and yet the logic of the possibility is inescapable.” You said that you were concerned that medical and biological research were tending to favor outcomes that would make real advances available only to a tiny fraction of the Earth’s people.


AS: Why is this a problem, and what can be done about it?

JL: This is the thing I really most worry about. Out in the wider world, though, there’s a rebellion brewing precisely as a result of the sort of wild pronouncements about technology you see more and more often in press releases from places like MIT and Berkeley. There has long been a sense of economic injustice, but there’s a brewing sense of spiritual injustice. There’s this sense that it’s one thing if rich people in America drive fancy cars and have lower infant mortality, but this notion that some elite somewhere is defining the soul or making the soul into an obsolete idea or is going to transform what it means to be human or is going to be first in line for immortality— that idea strikes so deep it creates a sense of panic. And I believe this is the explanation for one of the weird features of our time, that every major religion has a terribly violent fundamentalist wing at the same time.

I think if this continues, we’ll get the worst of both—on the one hand, the people who fear being left behind will believe that the first are getting everything—not only riches, but immortality and superintelligence and whatever—while on the other hand, because they’re fooling themselves about what they do and don’t really know, those who are first in line won’t be getting nearly what they dream of. They may get riches. They may get much greater longevity and designer babies. But they certainly won’t be getting the transcendence they dream of. A world with all the conflicts and little of the progress.

AS: What do you think of the adoption of open source as a modelfor how people might create distributed, collaborative, emergent political movements for evaluating and guiding technological policy (for example, the “open source biology” movement)?

JL: Right now we know how to act on two paradigms. We can use an open, free, collaborative, equality oriented system, sort of the Napster model—whether we’re talking about code or music or medical information. Or we can do this proprietary system, where everything’s closed and owned and those who are first in line become arbitrarily rich, like Bill Gates.

I think there is a sort of split in our culture, with one half committed to the past, to the idea of paying for the use of Mickey Mouse even though Walt Disney’s been dead for decades, and the other half ideologically crying for the “free as in beer” model, where everyone can use anything.

The problems with the intellectual property method have been very well documented by those who oppose it. Among those problems are that, for instance, applied to music, you get a terribly corrupt music industry that puts out terrible music based on the fantasies industry executives had when they were adolescents. Applied to software, you get monocultures of inferior code at high prices. Applied to medicine, you get pharmaceutical companies that drive the process of diagnosis, multitiered health care, and millions dying of easily preventable diseases. And so on.

The problem is that the open and free solutions also have real shortcomings. One is that a relatively small number of people have the ability to totally disrupt the community— the spam problem. But open systems suffer from two other problems. The “housekeeping” problem others have talked about: it’s hard to find people to do the boring, routinetasks that are required for a functional system. More importantly, open systems have a hard time plotting strategy and encouraging major risk-taking for innovation. There’s a trackless wilderness in between the two, of course.


AS: You said that creativity is now the source of innovation, that innovation is the source of wealth, but that there’s “creative inequity” between the classes, which is far more troubling than the financial inequities, that “Spreading creativity is a survival question: the alternative to a planet of artists is a planet of corpses.”

JL: What I mean is this—the level of complexity in the problems we face is such that they can only be solved with the help of a whole lot of creative people. We have to look at distributed models of creativity, like gaming communities. Where there’s a shared virtual world, and you invite everyone to be creative, what you get instead of universal creativity is a power law distribution where a very small number of people are very creative and do all sorts of amazing things, and then a slightly larger number make the occasional interesting contribution, but a vast number of people are either not very creative, or their creativity doesn’t amount to much. So widespread creativity would seem to have little value, but there’s a paradox that you often can’t find those uniquely valuable creative people unless you invite everyone, and that if you invite everyone, the results of creativity can spread remarkably rapidly.

The dawn of the Web was driven by something like this. When the Web started up, there was a period of about a year when there was absolutely no commercial interest in it, and during that time it spread from nothing to tens of millions of users based only on the urge to create and the urge to connect. There was no advertising, no charismatic figure, and no money to be made; no structure, no hierarchy. This is one of the most optimistic signals we’ve ever gotten about how the future could be better.

Take Grameen. Grameen Bankis a celebrated experimental bank which pioneered the idea of microfinance. Grameen makes tiny loans to groups of people who vouch for each other, say villagers in Bangladesh. These are tiny loans, to start tiny businesses, but the recipients are mutually responsible for one another, so the loans are almost always repaid. It turns out to be a great banking method, yet it also has an incredible socialeffect, of spurring the growth of small, local businesses. The idea is spreading now, but I’ve wondered if we might apply a similar principle to promoting creativity—perhaps having groups of people be mutually responsible for using resources together to solve some problem creatively. At any rate, we need to find new methods to encourage systems of creativity to grow. We need to figure out a way for nearly everyone to have an opportunity to contribute to something vital and constructive, to have a way to find yourself and make a name for yourself without resorting to conflict and violence and terror.

AS: I read that the total number of children and teenagers in the world— over two billion—is more people than were ever alive from when humans first walked upright until after 1930. This wave of kids is the biggest baby boom in all of history. For most of those kids, there are few avenues for education, meaningful work, or participation in democracy.

JL:This global teenager problem is terribly scary. The first time a society encounters mass media, its propaganda goes insane. Europe, Japan, and America went through that in the first half of the twentieth century, and we fought two world wars. China went through it during the Cultural Revolution. The Muslim and African worlds are going through that now. They’re still in the middle of their first encounter with the full force of modern propaganda. It just makes people nuts, and it takes a generation to get used to it, to get desensitized. The coincidence of this wave of teenagers with a third wave of McLuanesque shock is incredibly alarming.

The only way to respond to this is through technology. It’s the only conceivable way to educate and involve several billion people, right away. There’s no time to build enough new schools, or train enough new teachers. We have to imagine somehow inviting all these people online, imagine propagating some sort of cheap wireless devices that create widespread high-quality access to needed information and collaboration across the entire developing world, imagine accelerating the process whereby kids in the Third World can become jaded to propaganda and open to new frontiers in their own lives—become educated, and capable of creating real work for themselves, and able to solve their communities’ problems with collective wisdom. I don’t know of any plans to do this, but every happy scenario I can imagine has something like this in it. If I were in charge, it would be my first priority.

AS: What keeps you awake at night?

JL: That we’re losing sight of an extremely simple common sense idea—that there’s a set of ideas (democracy, technological optimism, entrepreneurship, the sense we can find commonality through science and exploration) which have provided us with almost everything good about our world. That those ideas are fundamental to any hopes we have.

The anti-globalization sort of people have become entirely too cynical. They just view the whole class of entrepreneurial and technologically optimistic people with suspicion. As a result, they discount the very real almost utopian possibilities if we all learn better ways of working together. Then there are the religious fundamentalists, who just seem to want to go back to the twelfth century. Nobody’s advocating for progress and problem-solving and the really good things about modernity.

AS: There are very few people out there who are willing to stand up for rational inquiry and the humanist project as something that benefits all mankind?

JL: Exactly. It’s extraordinary. I am a humanist, and it’s very hard to find allies these days. The academy’s gone all postmodern, and the sciences seem dominated by these extremes of commercialism and radical cybernetic totalism. We don’t have any major voices advocating this most basic, simple, and obvious thing—and that keeps me up at night.

I like to think of myself as an out-there thinker, exploring the far reaches, but I end up spending a lot of time talking about this simple idea. It’s so disheartening and surprising to feel alone so often in doing that in technological and scientific circles. There’s so much talk about singularities. And if you believe in the ability to rationally improve destiny, a singularity would be a terrible thing, because by definition it’d be something we don’t understand.

AS:You said “We should do everything we can to avoid singularities. A singularity is a sign that we’ve failed.” Is that what you meant?

JL:Yes. We live in this remarkable time, and the possibilities are astounding. But we need a rate of progress that allows us sufficient predictability to know we’re making good decisions. We have to go fast enough to deliver solutions to the world’s problems in some kind of useful time frame, but slow enough that we retain control. That’s not easy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Our Society Is Slowly Going Mad

This article by Wendy McElroy was posted four years ago.

Killing the Good Samaritan
This Article Published October, 2003 Sierra
By Wendy McElroy

The pricetag for decades of gender warfare is usually expressed in general terms -- for example, through data-filled studies that reflect how "boys" are slighted in education. The ordeal of Michael Wright -- a student at Oklahoma University (OU) at Norman -- captures the human factor. And it leads me to a question: What does the devil look like?

On a recent Thursday, two police officers appeared at Michael's house, apparently to investigate his stalking of a female OU student. Stalking is a serious crime which is defined as "the willful, malicious and repeated following and harassing of another person". It can place a young man on a registry of sex offenders that could haunt his future and limit his options in life. Indeed, Oklahoma is a state in which convicted sex offenders must register his/her address, which is made available to the public. No wonder Michael suffered "a great deal of nerve-wracking anxiety" before being exonerated.

What mistake did Michael make?

On Saturday, September 27, 2003, he found the OU ID card of a female student. Looking up her number and e-ddress in the OU online directory, he dialed the no-longer-valid number then sent an email:

"I found your ID card today on a photocopy machine at the AVA copy center. I picked it up to return to you, since you might not have remembered where you left it. I usually go to the campus every day and often go to the library or the computer lab in the physical science building. I get a cup of coffee every morning from the yogurt stand in the union. You can email me or call me to arrange for me to return it to you."

Not hearing anything by Monday, he simply gave the card to an OUPD officer and emailed her: "You haven't replied to my email from Saturday so I gave your ID card to an OUPD officer I saw in the main library." (A police officer investigating Michael said the card had not been returned, which was later revealed to be an OU oversight.)

The female student bypassed the university and went straight to the local police with the "allegation" that Michael "had looked up her number" -- albeit in an open directory. The police were forced by law and policy to investigate. Michael was forced to endure a week-long ordeal before the bureaucracy offered him an apology ...or as close to it as bureaucracy ever comes.

The incident is not a breakdown in "the system." According to Michael, the police exercised both common sense and common decency, with one detective eventually thanking him for "making the extra effort to protect the members of our community" by returning lost property.

The incident reflects how paranoid our culture has become after decades of political correctness that defines and divides us into categories eternally at war: female against male, whites against minorities, heterosexual against gay.

I was once asked to describe the devil. (I interpreted the question to be about the general nature of evil in man rather than about religion.)

I replied: If the devil is the living flesh of evil, then here is who I think he is. Far from appearing as a hideous demon, he is the average-looking person who walks into a room and shakes your hand with a smile. By the time he leaves, the standards of decency of everyone within that room have been lowered ever so slightly.

Perhaps he offers general statistics on divorce or child abuse to convince you to suspect your husband of infidelity or your neighbor of molestation. No evidence of specific wrongdoing is offered, of course. But since such "crimes" do occur, you are advised to be vigilantly on guard against them in your personal life. And, so, you begin to view your spouse and neighbors with a bit more suspicion, a little less trust, and with the tendency to interpret every action as possible evidence of wrongdoing. The very possibility of an offense is taken as evidence of its presence.

Perhaps he spins a political theory that inches you toward viewing people, not as individuals to be judged on the basis of their merits, but as members of a class. And, so, your co-worker is no longer an individual; he becomes "black" or "male" or "gay" and his actions are interpreted according to his category.

Slowly, you come to view the world through the eyes of the devil. People are guilty until proven innocent. Acts of kindness and common decency are meticulously dissected for hidden motives and agendas. People are not individuals but categories. Those closest to you -- family, friends and neighbors -- do not receive the benefit of the doubt; they receive the "benefit" of your suspicion.

With no religious implication, I say: a devil is at large. He tells us that acts of kindness and common decency do not exist; the worst possible interpretation should be placed on acts that appear to embody those values. Individuals do not exist; only categories.

In real PC terms, this means that all men should be objects of suspicion. A man, such as Michael, should be subject to a criminal investigation that could damage the rest of his life for trying to return a lost ID card.

I hope he has not learned the devil's lesson. I hope the next time he can help another human being, he chooses to be a Good Samaritan.

Perhaps the next beneficiary will say "thank you" rather than dialing the police.
Unfortunately, it is not so simple. When a cloud of suspicion is present, the whole atmosphere is poisoned. A man who is intent on "not learning the devil's lesson", is a man who is headed for trouble - not of his own making, but that of society's. How does one walk the tight-rope of consensus mentality without noting that the devil's lesson has informed a large portion of the American populace?

Viz, the shameful "rape" case against the Duke Lacrosse team.

A wedge of suspicion has already been
driven between men and women, between groups of people, and it is supported by society in innumerable ways. We are no longer human beings, but abstractions, almost a statistic. It is the work of socialists in government and our universities, our philanthropic organizations, who will do anything to tear down the fabric of this (former) patriotic, moral and spiritual nation.

Actually, we are doing to ourselves.

Is the devil still at work? You bet.

Savannah Morning news

Men: guilty until proven innocent

Anne Hart | Sunday, September 16, 2007

Child advocate John Walsh advises parents to never hire a male baby sitter.

The host of Fox's "America's Most Wanted" wants to help other parents protect their kids. He's advocated for missing children since 1981, after his son was killed by a stranger. So when the topic of male nannies - mannies - came up in a conversation with friends, I didn't think too long before voicing my take on the trend.

I actually said - aloud - something to the effect of: "Even if we could afford it, I'd never hire a mannie. Too risky that he'd turn out to be a predator." My fears sounded reasonable. After all, in the majority of reported sexual abuse cases, the predators are male. I was just being an informed and cautious parent. Right?

Not quite. Some argue, quite reasonably, that my response is male profiling, no worse than authorities pulling people over for DWH: "Driving While Hispanic." Or singling out Muslims on airplanes.

Is the no-mannies rule male profiling? Or is it just a precaution, no different than mothers dragging their sons into the women's room with them until the boys are old enough to protest? Or moms standing outside the men's room, yelling inside to their pre-teen sons "Are you OK in there?"

Wall Street Journal columnist Jeff Zaslow wrote about how society teaches children to be fearful of men. And how men deal with being cast unfairly as predators. Zaslow gave example after example of perfectly harmless men who, fearing they'll be suspected of being a predator, give up on volunteering to mentor kids; coach a sports team; lead a scout troop; or even help a distraught child.

A doctor in Austin, Texas, Zaslow writes, came upon a lost child in tears in a mall. The man's impulse was to help, but he feared people might think him a predator. He walked away, Zaslow writes. "Being male," the man said, "I am guilty until proven innocent."

In San Diego, retiree Ralph Castro says he won't allow himself to be alone with a child -- even in an elevator. Last month, I [Laslow] wrote about how our culture teaches children to fear men. Hundreds of men responded, many lamenting that they've now become fearful of children. They said they avert their eyes when kids are around, or think twice before holding even their own children's hands in public.

Read the rest of the Anne hart article


The foundation and fabric of all societies is built upon trust. Strip away the trust and watch the society slowly go mad. It's all part of the plan.

John Taylor Gatto, Teacher of The Year (NYC, 1991) explains in a Harpers article (2003) how we have been set up.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Beware The Tyranny of The Appeasers

Each time I read through these NEA objectives, I go cold with rage. But if there is anyone waging war on the NEA who is more dogged, more tireless, more unrelenting, more insightful than Phyllis Schlafly, I sure don't know who it would be. She has for decades been an implacable foe of the radical feminists, and ultimately kicked the feminists' butts on the ERA. But because these moronic radical leftists believe (notice I didn't say think) they are doing good for mankind, we must swat them down like a fly.

It does no good to engage them in discourse because, you see friends, they know everything already, and are doing this for the good of mankind. The little globalist minions, fresh from the Ivy League Universities, armed with an intolerant multicultural ideology go forth to change the world. They will settle for nothing less than full governmental control of the world. I know I've quoted CS Lewis on this before, but it bears repeating:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
- C. S. Lewis
Of course a good helping of calumny on the NEA's part is allowed under the convention of, "It's for your own good", Marxist humanism. So what if "education" is really "indoctrination" into the New World Order. After all, these good folks at the NEA-CFR-Trilateral Commission are on the firing line (just a figure of speech, don't be alarmed), promoting peace and tranquility on a world-wide basis, so there will be no disagreements (and no sovereign nations) among earth's peoples, and therefore no need for (ugh) fighting wars. Surely any enlightened person would see the infallible logic of coming together as one big happy family, under the watchful eye of the global elitists, whose already immense coffers (spelled, POWER) grow beyond all bounds. It's always about the money. In this case, fiat money. Money and power fueling an insane drive to neutralize the world.

Scroll down a bit and read Bruce Bawer's (another able warrior) take on what it means.

It's a freight train, folks, and it daily gains momentum. This next bit, also from Schlafly's EagleForum, is something with which you could query your school administrators, just, you know, to see exactly where they stand on parents' rights re: the education of your children. If one looks closely at each aspect of the proposals, it becomes apparent that the NEA has abandoned the US, it's children and their parents. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Education Reporter

NEA's Legislative Program

The following excerpts are from the National Education Association's July 2007 publication, Advancing NEA's Legislative Program.

NEA supports:

*administrative structures to facilitate effective integration of guidance and counseling into the entire education experience grants to expand and implement guidance and counseling programs

*holding all private, nonpublic schools accountable under the same provisions of federal law as public schools

*repeal of the so-called right-to-work provision of federal labor law

* a national health care policy that will mandate universal coverage

* a tax-supported, single-payer health care plan for all residents of the United States

* coverage for full men's and women's reproductive health care

* federal legislation designed to combat hate crimes

* passage of a federal statute prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression

* legislation that would prohibit religious organizations that accept federal funds from discriminating in hiring and delivery of services on the basis of race, religion, gender, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or HIV/AIDS status

* the addition of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution

* reproductive freedom without governmental intervention

* the use of affirmative action to redress historical patterns of discrimination

* statehood for the District of Columbia

* a national holiday honoring César Chávez

* comprehensive immigration reform that rejects the criminalization of undocumented immigrants and includes a path to permanent residency, citizenship, or asylum

* ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

* ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child

NEA opposes:

* tuition tax credits for elementary or secondary schools

* the use of vouchers or certificates in education

* federally mandated parental option or "choice" in education programs

* denying federal student aid funds to college students based on their immigration status or their enrollment in appropriate remedial courses

* denying federal financial aid to college students who have been convicted of misdemeanor, nonviolent drug offenses

* the use of draft registration as an eligibility criterion for financial assistance

* erosion of the role of the U.S. Department of Education or undermining the appropriate federal role in public education

* the testing of teachers as a criterion for job retention, promotion, tenure, or salary increments

* privatization of Social Security

* federal legislation that denies children's access to public education or health care based on their citizen/documentation status

* any legislation or constitutional amendment designating English as the official language of the United States

* the utilization of voter ID cards for the privilege of voting in local, state, and national elections

* any constitutional amendment imposing limitations on taxes or the federal budget

School Board Candidate Questionnaire


o Yes o No 1. Do you believe schools should give primary emphasis to teaching basic skills (e.g. reading, grammar, spelling, arithmetic) rather than social or psychological matters?

o Yes o No 2. Do you support the use of intensive, systematic phonics to teach first-grade children how to read?

o Yes o No 3. Do you support the goal that children should be able to read by the end of the first grade?

o Yes o No 4. Do you support the teaching of abstinence as the norm for unmarried teenagers and as the only truly effective way to prevent sexually-transmitted diseases?

o Yes o No 5. Do you believe the topics of homosexuality and alternative lifestyles should be excluded from the classroom?

o Yes o No 6. Do you support teaching that the use of illegal drugs and the unlawful use of alcohol are "wrong"?

o Yes o No 7. Do you reject classroom instruction that downgrades American sovereignty, limited constitutional government, or private enterprise?


o Yes o No 8. Do you support local control of education, with accountability through the local school board, rather than federal control exercised through federal and state bureaucracies and business partnerships?

o Yes o No 9. Do you reject federal control of curriculum through the Goals 2000 and School-to-Work laws?

o Yes o No 10. Do you oppose the establishment of school-based health clinics, which may perform examinations, provide immunizations and medications, and dispense birth control devices and abortion referrals, without parental consent or knowledge?

o Yes o No 11. Do you oppose the collection and maintenance of data on student health, performance, attitudes, behavior, and family, as well as academics, in computerized databases?

o Yes o No 12. Do you oppose allowing the school district to deduct money from the paychecks of school employees and forward it to political funds without the annual written consent of each employee?


o Yes o No 13. Do you believe in the fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children?

o Yes o No 14. Do you support a school board policy allowing parents the right to inspect and review instructional materials and methods?

o Yes o No 15. Do you support a school board policy forbidding psychological evaluations, testing, treatment, or physical examinations of students without prior written parental consent?

o Yes o No 16. Do you believe parental consent should be required prior to giving information and care to students regarding sexuality and reproductive health?

o Yes o No 17. Do you oppose requiring students to answer nosy questionnaires about sex, drugs, suicide, and family behavior without prior written parental consent?

o Yes o No 18. Do you support the right of parents to homeschool their children?


From The City Journal

The Peace Racket
Sept 6, 2007

Bruce Bawer

An anti-Western movement touts dictators, advocates appeasement—and gains momentum.

If you want peace, prepare for war." Thus counseled Roman general Flavius Vegetius Renatus over 1,600 years ago. Nine centuries before that, Sun Tzu offered essentially the same advice, and it's to him that Vegetius's line is attributed at the beginning of a film that I saw recently at Oslo's Nobel Peace Center. Yet the film cites this ancient wisdom only to reject it. After serving up a perverse potted history of the cold war, the thrust of which is that the peace movement brought down the Berlin Wall, the movie ends with words that turn Vegetius's insight on its head: "If you want peace, prepare for peace."

This purports to be wise counsel, a motto for the millennium. In reality, it's wishful thinking that doesn't follow logically from the history of the cold war, or of any war. For the cold war's real lesson is the same one that Sun Tzu and Vegetius taught: conflict happens; power matters. It's better to be strong than to be weak; you're safer if others know that you're ready to stand up for yourself than if you're proudly outspoken about your defenselessness or your unwillingness to fight. There's nothing mysterious about this truth. Yet it's denied not only by the Peace Center film but also by the fast-growing, troubling movement that the center symbolizes and promotes.

Call it the Peace Racket.

Read the rest

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Thought For The Day

An email received from a friend...

Written by a housewife from New Jersey and sounds like it! This is one ticked off lady. She knows "political correctness" when she sees it!!
"Are we fighting a war on terror or aren't we? Was it or was it not started by Islamic people who brought it to our shores on September 11, 2001?

Were people from all over the world, mostly Americans, not brutally murdered that day, in downtown Manhattan, across the Potomac from our nation's capitol and in a field in Pennsylvania ?

Did nearly three thousand men, women and children die a horrible, burning or crushing death that day, or didn't they?

And I'm supposed to care that a copy of the Koran was "desecrated" when an overworked American soldier kicked it or got it wet?...Well, I don't. I don't care at all.

I'll start caring when Osama bin Laden turns himself in and repents for incinerating all those innocent people on 9/11.

I'll care about the Koran when the fanatics in the Middle East start caring about the Holy Bible, the mere possession of which is a crime in Saudi Arabia .

I'll care when these thugs tell the world they are sorry for hacking off Nick Berg's head while Berg screamed through his gurgling slashed throat.

I'll care when the cowardly so-called "insurgents" in Iraq come out and fight like men instead of disrespecting their own religion by hiding in mosques.

I'll care when the mindless zealots who blow themselves up in search of nirvana care about the innocent children within range of their suicide bombs.

I'll care when the American media stops pretending that their First Amendment liberties are somehow derived from international law instead of the United States Constitution's Bill of Rights.

In the meantime, when I hear a story about a brave Marine roughing up an Iraqi terrorist to obtain information, know this: I don't care.

When I see a fuzzy photo of a pile of naked Iraqi prisoners who have been humiliated in what amounts to a college-hazing incident, rest assured: I don't care.

When I see a wounded terrorist get shot in the head when he is told not to move because he might be booby-trapped, you can take it to the bank: I don't care.

When I hear that a prisoner, who was issued a Koran and a prayer mat, and fed "special" food that is paid for by my tax dollars, is complaining that his holy book is being "mishandled," you can absolutely believe in your heart of hearts: I don't care.

And oh, by the way, I've noticed that sometimes it's spelled "Koran" and other times "Quran." Well, Jimmy Crack Corn and-you guessed it-I don't care!!

If you agree with this viewpoint, pass this on to all your E-mail friends. Sooner or later, it'll get to the people responsible for this ridiculous behavior!

If you don't agree, then by all means hit the delete button. Should you choose the latter, then please don't complain when more atrocities committed by radical Muslims happen here in our great Country! And may I add:

"Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem." -- Ronald Reagan

I have another quote that I would like to add AND.......I hope you forward all this.

"If we ever forget that we're One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under." Also by.. Ronald Reagan

One last thought for the day:

In case we find ourselves starting to believe all the Anti-American sentiment and negativity, we should remember England's Prime MinisterTony Blair's words during a recent interview. When asked by one of his Parliament members why he believes so much in America, he said: "A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in...And how many want out."

Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you:
1. Jesus Christ
2. The American G. I.

One died for your soul, the other for your freedom

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Celebrating Multiculturalism Must End Soon

Americans are known for their capacity for compassion. We have made it a national agenda for righting wrongs in our own country, and throughout the world. I know many will disagree with this statement, and I agree that many attempts of our foreign policy to display compassion have ended in confusion and outright ineptitude. But we are a compassionate nation, none-the-less.

It is also the case that we have hung our domestic policies on the concept of compassion. But intellectual dishonesty among politicians and academicians has led to a policy of misapplied compassion. See my earlier post on the difference between compassion at the micro and macro level.

We must end this slavish devotion to the concept of celebrating multiculturalism and begin to stand up for the values and strengths which have made America the great nation that it is. Only when we begin to display proper self-respect at the macro level, will we regain the respect of the world.

Read Bruce Thornton's thoughts.

City Journal
Bruce S. Thornton
10 September 2007

Fighting at a Disadvantage

Bad cultural habits plague the West in the War on Terror.

Six years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, we continue to hunt for those whose blunders let them happen. The latest addition to earlier investigations such as The 9/11 Commission Report and television’s Path to 9/11 is the recently released CIA report detailing the agency’s mistakes before the attacks. As with the earlier reports, this latest exposé of error and incompetence has prompted demands for scapegoats.

Blaming some government employees might make us feel better, and of course we should identify blunders to avoid in the future. But punishing a few bureaucrats won’t do anything to correct the two larger, cultural dysfunctions—multiculturalism and the therapeutic sensibility—that leave us vulnerable to Islamic terror.

Let’s start with the ideology of multiculturalism, which has become pervasive, from university and grade-school curricula to Disney cartoons and the mainstream media. Don’t believe the spin that multiculturalism just recognizes the contributions of other cultures and ethnic minorities; the West has been doing that since Herodotus wrote admiringly about Egypt in 450 BC. In fact, multiculturalism attacks the West as uniquely oppressive and destructive, all the while idealizing the non-Western “Other” as more authentically human and humane, more in tune with nature, more communal, and less materialistic than all those repressed Westerners enslaved to technology and the “cash nexus.”

Even a cursory survey of world history explodes these romantic clichés and noble-savage fantasies. The West’s sins have been the sins of humanity everywhere. But the goods of the West—political freedom, consensual government, human rights, rationalism, and respect for the individual, to name a few—are unique to the West and account for its success. Just ask the millions of non-Western Others who every year risk their lives to migrate to Europe and America, even as virtually nobody goes in the other direction.

Indeed, the ignorance of history makes multiculturalism possible. People who have never learned about the uniqueness of ancient Greece will make a bestseller out of a book like Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel, which argues that the West’s ascendancy is an accident of geography and the distribution of plant and animal species. Such people won’t think to ask why the Greeks flourished, inventing consensual government and political freedom, when they shared the same climate, plants, and animals as the Egyptians and Persians.

In the post-9/11 context, and before it, multiculturalism predisposed many in the West to look on Muslims primarily as fascinating Others, victimized by Western racism, imperialism, and colonialism. We rationalize Islamic terror and place the blame for it elsewhere—on ourselves.

We saw such self-flagellation in the days after 9/11, when numerous Western intellectuals, most notoriously ex–University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, blamed the terrorist attacks on American crimes and rationalized 9/11 as the “justice of roosting chickens,” as Churchill’s speech was titled.

The therapeutic sensibility that now dominates our public thinking reinforces this tendency to excuse Islamic terror. Unlike the old tragic vision of the classical West, which saw human suffering as the consequence of an imperfect human nature and our own bad choices, the therapeutic sensibility sees suffering as a temporary glitch caused by unjust social and economic structures. Evil is just a superstition, for people’s environments, not their own choices, cause destructive actions. The terrorists whom the unenlightened call “evil,” then, are themselves victims; we should assist them in reforming their unjust environments. Meanwhile, we ignore the numerous Islamists, from Sayyid Qutb to Osama bin Laden, who tell us very plainly why they want to destroy us: because we are infidels who must convert to Islam, live in submission to it, or die.

Such hypersensitivity compromises our fight against Islamic radicalism in a thousand ways, ranging from self-censorship—for example, the Washington Post’s recent refusal to run an innocuous installment of Berke Breathed’s comic strip Opus for fear of offending Muslims—to politically correct warfare that refuses to accept the brutality, destruction, and death that have always been the cargo of war. We have seen such self-defeating behavior repeatedly in Iraq, where the Army’s rules of engagement have made U.S. forces hesitant to fire on mosques even though terrorists frequently use minarets as firing platforms. To the extent that we remain unable to recognize both the precious goods of our own culture and the destructive dysfunctions of the enemy’s, we will continue to fight at a disadvantage. And 9/11 will be not just a bad memory of our past, but also the harbinger of our future.

Bruce Thornton is the author of Greek Ways and the forthcoming Decline and Fall: Europe’s Slow-Motion Suicide (Encounter Books).

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ident Chip Implants Linked to Cancer

More evidence of malfeasance within the FDA. My, my - To think there might be culpability in the FDA's relationship with industry giants...Thompson, you lie.

Liar, liar, pants on fire!
Chip Implants Linked to Animal Tumors

AP National Writer
7:35 AM EDT, September 9, 2007

When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved implanting microchips in humans, the manufacturer said it would save lives, letting doctors scan the tiny transponders to access patients' medical records almost instantly. The FDA found "reasonable assurance" the device was safe, and a sub-agency even called it one of 2005's top "innovative technologies."

But neither the company nor the regulators publicly mentioned this: A series of veterinary and toxicology studies, dating to the mid-1990s, stated that chip implants had "induced" malignant tumors in some lab mice and rats.

"The transponders were the cause of the tumors," said Keith Johnson, a retired toxicologic pathologist, explaining in a phone interview the findings of a 1996 study he led at the Dow Chemical Co. in Midland, Mich.

Leading cancer specialists reviewed the research for The Associated Press and, while cautioning that animal test results do not necessarily apply to humans, said the findings troubled them. Some said they would not allow family members to receive implants, and all urged further research before the glass-encased transponders are widely implanted in people.

To date, about 2,000 of the so-called radio frequency identification, or RFID, devices have been implanted in humans worldwide, according to VeriChip Corp. The company, which sees a target market of 45 million Americans for its medical monitoring chips, insists the devices are safe, as does its parent company, Applied Digital Solutions, of Delray Beach, Fla.

"We stand by our implantable products which have been approved by the FDA and/or other U.S. regulatory authorities," Scott Silverman, VeriChip Corp. chairman and chief executive officer, said in a written response to AP questions.

The company was "not aware of any studies that have resulted in malignant tumors in laboratory rats, mice and certainly not dogs or cats," but he added that millions of domestic pets have been implanted with microchips, without reports of significant problems.

"In fact, for more than 15 years we have used our encapsulated glass transponders with FDA approved anti-migration caps and received no complaints regarding malignant tumors caused by our product."

The FDA also stands by its approval of the technology.

Did the agency know of the tumor findings before approving the chip implants? The FDA declined repeated AP requests to specify what studies it reviewed.

The FDA is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, which, at the time of VeriChip's approval, was headed by Tommy Thompson. Two weeks after the device's approval took effect on Jan. 10, 2005, Thompson left his Cabinet post, and within five months was a board member of VeriChip Corp. and Applied Digital Solutions. He was compensated in cash and stock options.

Thompson, until recently a candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, says he had no personal relationship with the company as the VeriChip was being evaluated, nor did he play any role in FDA's approval process of the RFID tag.

"I didn't even know VeriChip before I stepped down from the Department of Health and Human Services," he said in a telephone interview.

Also making no mention of the findings on animal tumors was a June report by the ethics committee of the American Medical Association, which touted the benefits of implantable RFID devices.

Had committee members reviewed the literature on cancer in chipped animals?

No, said Dr. Steven Stack, an AMA board member with knowledge of the committee's review.

Was the AMA aware of the studies?

No, he said.

Published in veterinary and toxicology journals between 1996 and 2006, the studies found that lab mice and rats injected with microchips sometimes developed subcutaneous "sarcomas" -- malignant tumors, most of them encasing the implants.

* A 1998 study in Ridgefield, Conn., of 177 mice reported cancer incidence to be slightly higher than 10 percent -- a result the researchers described as "surprising."

* A 2006 study in France detected tumors in 4.1 percent of 1,260 microchipped mice. This was one of six studies in which the scientists did not set out to find microchip-induced cancer but noticed the growths incidentally. They were testing compounds on behalf of chemical and
pharmaceutical companies; but they ruled out the compounds as the tumors' cause. Because researchers only noted the most obvious tumors, the French study said, "These incidences may therefore slightly underestimate the true occurrence" of cancer.

* In 1997, a study in Germany found cancers in 1 percent of 4,279 chipped mice. The tumors "are clearly due to the implanted microchips," the authors wrote.

Caveats accompanied the findings. "Blind leaps from the detection of tumors to the prediction of human health risk should be avoided," one study cautioned. Also, because none of the studies had a control group of animals that did not get chips, the normal rate of tumors cannot be
determined and compared to the rate with chips implanted. Still, after reviewing the research, specialists at some pre-eminent cancer institutions said the findings raised red flags.

"There's no way in the world, having read this information, that I would have one of those chips implanted in my skin, or in one of my family members," said Dr. Robert Benezra, head of the Cancer Biology Genetics Program at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Before microchips are implanted on a large scale in humans, he said, testing should be done on larger animals, such as dogs or monkeys. "I mean, these are bad diseases. They are life-threatening. And given the preliminary animal data, it looks to me that there's definitely cause for concern."

Dr. George Demetri, director of the Center for Sarcoma and Bone Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, agreed. Even though the tumor incidences were "reasonably small," in his view, the research underscored "certainly real risks" in RFID implants. In humans, sarcomas, which strike connective tissues, can range from the highly curable to "tumors that are incredibly aggressive and can kill people in three to six months," he said.

At the Jackson Laboratory in Maine, a leader in mouse genetics research and the initiation of cancer, Dr. Oded Foreman, a forensic pathologist, also reviewed the studies at the AP's request.
At first he was skeptical, suggesting that chemicals administered in some of the studies could have caused the cancers and skewed the results. But he took a different view after seeing that control mice, which received no chemicals, also developed the cancers. "That might be a little hint that something real is happening here," he said. He, too, recommended further study, using mice, dogs or non-human primates.

Dr. Cheryl London, a veterinarian oncologist at Ohio State University, noted: "It's much easier to cause cancer in mice than it is in people. So it may be that what you're seeing in mice represents an exaggerated phenomenon of what may occur in people."

Tens of thousands of dogs have been chipped, she said, and veterinary pathologists haven't reported outbreaks of related sarcomas in the area of the neck, where canine implants are often done. (Published reports detailing malignant tumors in two chipped dogs turned up in AP's
four-month examination of research on chips and health. In one dog, the researchers said cancer appeared linked to the presence of the embedded chip; in the other, the cancer's cause was uncertain.)

Nonetheless, London saw a need for a 20-year study of chipped canines "to see if you have a biological effect." Dr. Chand Khanna, a veterinary oncologist at the National Cancer Institute, also backed such a study, saying current evidence "does suggest some reason to be concerned about tumor formations."

Meanwhile, the animal study findings should be disclosed to anyone considering a chip implant, the cancer specialists agreed.

To date, however, that hasn't happened.

* __

The product that VeriChip Corp. won approval for use in humans is an electronic capsule the size of two grains of rice. Generally, it is implanted with a syringe into an anesthetized portion of the upper arm. When prompted by an electromagnetic scanner, the chip transmits a unique code. With the code, hospital staff can go on the Internet and access a patient's medical profile that is maintained in a database by VeriChip Corp. for an annual fee.

VeriChip Corp., whose parent company has been marketing radio tags for animals for more than a decade, sees an initial market of diabetics and people with heart conditions or Alzheimer's disease, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

The company is spending millions to assemble a national network of hospitals equipped to scan chipped patients. But in its SEC filings, product labels and press releases, VeriChip Corp. has not mentioned the existence of research linking embedded transponders to tumors in test animals.

When the FDA approved the device, it noted some Verichip risks: The capsules could migrate around the body, making them difficult to extract; they might interfere with defibrillators, or be incompatible with MRI scans, causing burns. While also warning that the chips could cause "adverse tissue reaction," FDA made no reference to malignant growths in animal studies.

Did the agency review literature on microchip implants and animal cancer? Dr. Katherine Albrecht, a privacy advocate and RFID expert, asked shortly after VeriChip's approval what evidence the agency had reviewed.

When FDA declined to provide information, she filed a Freedom of Information Act request. More than a year later, she received a letter stating there were no documents matching her request. "The public relies on the FDA to evaluate all the data and make sure the devices it approves are safe," she says, "but if they're not doing that, who's covering our backs?"

Late last year, Albrecht unearthed at the Harvard medical library three studies noting cancerous tumors in some chipped mice and rats, plus a reference in another study to a chipped dog with a tumor. She forwarded them to the AP, which subsequently found three additional mice studies with similar findings, plus another report of a chipped dog with a tumor.

Asked if it had taken these studies into account, the FDA said VeriChip documents were being kept confidential to protect trade secrets. After AP filed a FOIA request, the FDA made available for a phone interview Anthony Watson, who was in charge of the VeriChip approval process.

"At the time we reviewed this, I don't remember seeing anything like that," he said of animal studies linking microchips to cancer. A literature search "didn't turn up anything that would be of concern." In general, Watson said, companies are expected to provide safety-and-effectiveness data during the approval process, "even if it's adverse information."

Watson added: "The few articles from the literature that did discuss adverse tissue reactions similar to those in the articles you provided, describe the responses as foreign body reactions that are typical of other implantable devices. The balance of the data provided in the submission supported approval of the device."

Another implantable device could be a pacemaker, and indeed, tumors have in some cases attached to foreign bodies inside humans. But Dr. Neil Lipman, director of the Research Animal Resource Center at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, said it's not the same. The microchip isn't like a pacemaker that's vital to keeping someone alive, he added, "so at this stage, the payoff doesn't justify the risks."

Silverman, VeriChip Corp.'s chief executive, disagreed. "Each month pet microchips reunite over 8,000 dogs and cats with their owners," he said. "We believe the VeriMed Patient Identification System will provide similar positive benefits for at-risk patients who are unable to communicate for themselves in an emergency."

And what of former HHS secretary Thompson?

When asked what role, if any, he played in VeriChip's approval, Thompson replied: "I had nothing to do with it. And if you look back at my record, you will find that there has never been any improprieties whatsoever." FDA's Watson said: "I have no recollection of him being involved in it at all." VeriChip Corp. declined comment.

Thompson vigorously campaigned for electronic medical records and healthcare technology both as governor of Wisconsin and at HHS. While in President Bush's Cabinet, he formed a "medical innovation" task force that worked to partner FDA with companies developing medical information technologies.

At a "Medical Innovation Summit" on Oct. 20, 2004, Lester Crawford, the FDA's acting commissioner, thanked the secretary for getting the agency "deeply involved in the use of new information technology to help prevent medication error." One notable example he cited: "the
implantable chips and scanners of the VeriChip system our agency approved last week."

After leaving the Cabinet and joining the company board, Thompson received options on 166,667 shares of VeriChip Corp. stock, and options on an additional 100,000 shares of stock from its parent company, Applied Digital Solutions, according to SEC records. He also received $40,000 in cash in 2005 and again in 2006, the filings show.

The Project on Government Oversight called Thompson's actions "unacceptable" even though they did not violate what the independent watchdog group calls weak conflict-of-interest laws.
"A decade ago, people would be embarrassed to cash in on their government connections. But now it's like the Wild West," said the group's executive director, Danielle Brian.

Thompson is a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, a Washington law firm that was paid $1.2 million for legal services it provided the chip maker in 2005 and 2006, according to SEC filings. He stepped down as a VeriChip Corp. director in March to seek the GOP presidential nomination, and records show that the company gave his campaign $7,400 before he bowed out of the race in August.

In a TV interview while still on the board, Thompson was explaining the benefits -- and the ease -- of being chipped when an interviewer interrupted:

"I'm sorry, sir. Did you just say you would get one implanted in your arm?"

"Absolutely," Thompson replied. "Without a doubt."

"No concerns at all?"


But to date, Thompson has yet to be chipped himself.

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Copyright © 2007, The Associated Press