During the aftermath of a rather casual meeting at work today, the subject of the impending presidential election reared its all-too-ugly head. I sometimes lament the absence of a certain former co-worker, almost to the point of missing the steady stream of right-wing misinformation that she could be counted on to recount--and which I could reliably debunk, much to her chagrin. My lamentations were somewhat premature, as her place in the information ecosystem has been at least partially filled.

Today's tawdry tidbit was a vague tale of Wikileaks exposing an alleged Hillary Clinton quid-pro-quo deal regarding Algeria making donations to the Clinton Foundation and her subsequently removing them from the State Department's "terror list." (Clinton's folks also allegedly crowed about getting away with it.) The word "treason" was even bandied about--which is somewhat of a red flag for me.

As often happens in these situations, I took a step back from questioning the details (have we declared war on Algeria, thus making them an enemy to whom acts of "treason" could potentially apply?) to asking questions about the source of the claims. I wasn't free to research the allegations at the time, but the whole miasma of imprecise invective struck me as resembling the typical emanations from conservatism's propaganda swamp.

Later, after a brief bout of rigorous Google-Fu, I found the Wikileaks email in question--but that was the most exciting part of this research excursion. It turns out, not surprisingly, that this whole media molehill (which Gateway Pundit and other even less reputable outlets tried to spin into a "bombshell" or even "treason") was not the mountainous scandal that had been alleged.

In fact, as could be seen in the contemporaneous news stories that were mentioned in the Wikileaks email, this non-scandal is an 18-month-old slander on the part of MSNBC's Joe Scarborough. (Yep, it's that "liberal media" at work again--carrying water for conservatives by making up negative stories about Democrats!)

The tl;dr of the story (based on the work of PunditFact and MediaMatters) is as follows:

• Algeria was never on a "terror list," so
• Hillary never removed them from it, therefore
• there was no "quid pro quo" situation to carp about.
• Joe Scarborough, whose baseless speculation started the story, delivered a "heartfelt apology" for his error, and
• Clinton staffers didn't express joy over exploiting "a legal gray area" (that was a paraphrase of Scarborough's words), but merely referred to him being exposed as a liar as "Really great" and "excellent!"

As usual, corrections receive much less media attention that the inflammatory claims--making this yet another example of a "liberal" network doing the GOP's work. Considering that it takes longer to research and rebut these tales, thus ceding media time to their spin. Perhaps it's a tactic in conservatives' playbook to get us all (however reluctantly) singing from their infernal hymnal.

Is it any wonder that people are burned out on this election?

unerased

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Dawne Moon explains how, at least for her, queerness erased bisexuality. She writes that "Bisexual as a term seemed to apolitical, too evasive, too namby-pamby, too binary; it sounded too much like a disavowal of gayness rather than an avowal of anything:"

For twenty-five years or so, I've identified as queer -- a queer person, a queer activist, a queer-theoretically informed sociologist.

During this time, I sat uncomfortably among those queers who for some reason seemed realer to me -- mostly gay men and lesbians, for whom queerness reflected their edginess and intellectual incisiveness. Looking back, as certain as I was that I was bisexual, I was afraid in some ways to be identified as bisexual.

She notes that "At a Christian conference [in Fall 2015], someone caused me to shift my whole paradigm:"

Eliel Cruz was leading a workshop on bisexuality at a conference of The Reformation Project. He spoke of bi-invisibility and bi-erasure, concepts developed by bisexuals in the 1990s, but that I had completely ignored, so busy was I making myself fit in. Reading up on it later, I learned from an article by legal scholar Kenji Yoshino that every sex survey that has ever been done has found at least as many bisexual men and women as gays and lesbians. Far from being a teensy and inconsequential minority, bisexuals actually make up half, or more, of the LGBT population. I actually WORKED on one of those studies as a graduate student, and I never knew this. Erasure and invisibility are apt terms.

Her comment that "queer politics is just beginning to open up to the vast ranges of human possibility" should give the entire community pause.

Trump's biggest con

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TruthOut wonders if Trump can pull off his biggest con:

As a well-known huckster of everything from luxury condos to Trump Steaks, he has managed to pull the biggest con of all: representing himself as a champion of hard-working Americans facing threats from trade or immigration.

For someone whose "brand" has always been about flaunting his (real or imagined) wealth, that's a feat of P.T. Barnum-esque proportions.

TruthOut notes that David Cay Johnston's book The Making of Donald Trump "chronicles someone who exemplifies the 'rigged' game that big business and the political establishment plays:"

Trump is cut from the same cloth as all those "too big to fail" Wall Streeters that both Berniecrats and Tea Partiers hate.

Yet the myth persists that Trump is an anti-establishment figure who will change this rigged game.

reclaiming records

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In a teaser for the book Old Records Never Die: One Man's Quest for His Vinyl and His Past, Eric Spitznagel explains the aftermath of purchasing his first CD in 1988. "Over the coming months, I began selling off my records," he writes, noting that "It never occurred to me that I might ever run out of records:"

The last time I counted, somewhere around 1987, I had in the ballpark of two thousand. The first purge of three hundred barely left a dent. And from there, it was just a few records here, a few dozen there, as I needed them. I never made the conscious decision to deep-six my vinyl. It was always just, "Shit, I need beer money for the weekend. Oh wait, I still have that copy of the Stooges' Raw Power!" It was like a low-interest-bearing savings account with guilt-free withdrawals. I was never going to get rich on a bunch of old Elvis Costello records held together with Scotch tape, or a Purple Rain that was so warped it sounded like the doves were crying because Prince was having a stroke. These weren't investments, they were just antiques from my past that had small yet immediate monetary value.

As someone who has purged not just records, but also books and comics, during various life changes, I'm interested in reading about the rest of his quest.

Massimo Pigliucci explains how he practices stoicism:

What does it mean, exactly, to "practice" a philosophy? Rather than write a theoretical essay on this, I figured it may be helpful to some readers to take a closer look at one example of Stoic practice, my own.

Here is an abbreviated version of his list:

• Morning meditation on a classical quote.

• Daylong ethical mindfulness.

• Consciously attempt to embody Epictetus' "role ethics."

• Evening philosophical diary.

• Occasional premeditatio malorum and/or view from above meditations.

• Active studying of Stoicism, by way of reading classics and moderns, and writing about them.

• Once weekly fasting.

• Regular self-imposed discomfort.

• Endurance and physical training.

"The above may sound like a lot," he continues, "but most of the activities mentioned actually take very little time, or do not need to be carried out every day:"

And at any rate, this is just my own example of how to live like a Stoic. Different people will develop their own versions, depending on what they find most useful, as well as on their level of commitment to the philosophy.

even less debatable

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Rolling Stone lists "the most WTF moments from the most WTF debate of the most WTF election in U.S. history." Here's my favorites:

Moderator Anderson Cooper: "You called what you said locker-room banter - kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals. That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women."

Trump: "I don't think you understood. This was locker room talk. I'm not proud of it. ... But this is locker-room talk. When we have a world where you have ISIS chopping off heads, where you have frankly drowning people in steel cages, wars and horrible, horrible sights all over, so many bad things happening. We haven't seen anything like this. The carnage all over the world. Can you imagine the people that are frankly doing so well against us with ISIS. And they look at our country and see what's going on. Yes, I'm very embarrassed by it. I hate it. But it's locker-room talk and it's one of those things. I will knock the hell out of ISIS. We're going to defeat ISIS."

Trump's "bad things/ISIS" dodge isn't quite as reflexive as Rudy Giuliana's "a noun, a verb, and 9/11" formulation, but it's close. Here's another winner:

On Trump's plans for Clinton if he becomes president

Trump: "I'll tell you what, I didn't think I'd say this, and I'm going to say it, and hate to say it: If I win, I'm going to instruct the attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation, because there's never been so many lies, so much deception. Never been anything like it, and we're going to have a special prosecutor.

Politico calls him out in their list of Clinton's 2 errors, and Trump's 13:

And on the biggest question of the night -- how Trump would answer for leaked audio in which he described his technique for making unwanted sexual advances on women -- Trump largely got away without answering at all.

tsundoku

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Ephrat Livni names the "So many books, so little time" problem faced by so many bibliophiles:

It's an affliction so common that there's a word for it in Japanese, and a support group on Goodreads.

Tsundoku is the stockpiling of books never consumed. Sahoko Ichikawa, a senior lecturer in Japanese at Cornell University, explains that tsunde means "to stack things" and oku is "to leave for a while." The word originated in Japan's late 19th century Meiji Era from a play on words. Sometime around the turn of the century, the oku in tsunde oku was replaced with doku, meaning to read. But because tsunde doku rolls awkwardly off the tongue, the mashup version became tsundoku.


PolitiFact discusses Deplorable Donald's recently-unearthed remarks from 2005, where he "bragged about trying to have sex with a married woman and being able to grope women:"

Trump: " You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. I just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything."

Unidentified man: "Whatever you want."

Trump: "Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything."

Trump's first non-apology ("This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago.") was received so poorly that he had to issue a second one:

I've said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more-than-a-decade-old video are one of them.

Anyone who knows me knows these words don't reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong and I apologize.

The backlash to Trump's pro-sexual-assault comments has been a personal one in a great many instances. For one, Slate's Jennifer Conti shares a conversation with her father about it:

When I was 10 years old, a man put his hands between my legs and squeezed. You remember, you were there and tried to help catch him. I'm 33 now and I still think about this often/feel violated and scared whenever I walk alone by strange men. You may say, some men are bad people and that what Trump said was just normal guy talk and he didn't mean it, but words matter. This is the proposed leader of our country and most powerful man in the world. I beg you not to vote for a man that encourages the kind of talk or behavior that made me so scared as a little girl and that still makes me sick to my stomach today. Please.

He tried to downplay Trump's remarks by calling them "typical bravado between guys "and the outrage over them as "just more left PC crap." Her response is insightful:

I share this exchange not to put my father in a bad light, but rather to tell a story about how many Americans interpret Trump's misogyny. My father is a well-educated, loving man who would do anything for his family, except maybe look beyond what is staring us in the face as a nation: that women don't matter as much as men. [...]

It's easy to say that Trump's comments are typical male banter, but words like his encourage a society that turns its back on sexual assault and devalues women. Words like his perpetuate a culture of silence and passivity. And my conversation with my father has convinced me that even many people who have witnessed sexual assault firsthand believe so strongly in Trump's phony message of change that they will overlook his avalanche of misogyny and hate.

Robert Frodeman and Adam Briggle teach in the department of philosophy and religion and the University of North Texas. They are co-authors of the forthcoming Socrates Tenured: The Institutions of 21st-Century Philosophy, claim that philosophy has lost its way ever since "the locating of philosophy within a modern institution (the research university) in the late 19th century:"

This institutionalization of philosophy made it into a discipline that could be seriously pursued only in an academic setting. This fact represents one of the enduring failures of contemporary philosophy.

Take this simple detail: Before its migration to the university, philosophy had never had a central home. Philosophers could be found anywhere -- serving as diplomats, living off pensions, grinding lenses, as well as within a university. Afterward, if they were "serious" thinkers, the expectation was that philosophers would inhabit the research university. Against the inclinations of Socrates, philosophers became experts like other disciplinary specialists. This occurred even as they taught their students the virtues of Socratic wisdom, which highlights the role of the philosopher as the non-expert, the questioner, the gadfly.

Philosophy, then, as the French thinker Bruno Latour would have it, was "purified" -- separated from society in the process of modernization.

"This was the act of purification," they write, "that gave birth to the concept of philosophy most of us know today:"

As a result, and to a degree rarely acknowledged, the institutional imperative of the university has come to drive the theoretical agenda. If philosophy was going to have a secure place in the academy, it needed its own discrete domain, its own arcane language, its own standards of success and its own specialized concerns.

"Philosophy should never have been purified," they conclude.

Jonathan Rée's look at the dream of enlightenment via Anthony Gottlieb's 2000 book The Dream of Reason, (described as "a brilliant retelling of the story of ancient Greek philosophy") and his recent work The Dream of Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Philosophy ("which picks up the story with Descartes and carries it forward to the beginnings of the French Revolution") is rather pessimistic about the situation:

There was a time when every self-respecting egghead had to keep up with the latest developments in philosophy; not any more. Today's intellectuals, if they do not ignore philosophy entirely, can content themselves with reading one or two books about its past. Hundreds of histories of philosophy are available, and they are all much the same: they tell the same basic story, with the same cast of leading characters.

The Religious Right loves to foster fears of pogroms based on religious belief, worrying that differences of theological opinion will lead to oppression. It appears that they were right:

As America becomes increasingly accepting of same-sex marriage, many conservative Christians have feared that their stand on gay marriage could cost them their reputations or even their jobs. This week, it actually happened: Hundreds of workers were formally notified by their employer that they could be involuntarily terminated for their religious beliefs. But, ironically, those at risk are progressive Christians who support the consecration of gay marriages.

What's that you say? Conservative Christians are the oppressors, not the oppressed?!

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA, a large ministry operating on 667 college campuses nationwide, has announced that it will begin dismissing employees who disagree with its theological stance on human sexuality...

"If an employee interprets the Bible in such a way that makes space for LGBT marriage," the article continues, "[IVCF is] asking them to leave:"

The policy imposes a doctrinal standard to which employees never consented. The decision to work for a non-profit ministry often means forfeiting a cushy job in the business world and accepting a lower level of pay in order to serve others. Untold numbers of InterVarsity's 1,300 staff members have made sacrifices to donate their best years to this ministry. Now the organization they love is moving the theological goalposts. [...]

It is not extreme to hold the conservative Christian position on marriage and sexuality. But it is extreme to think that those who don't, but are otherwise committed to your mission, should be fired. And while opposing LGBT marriage is not necessarily hateful, punishing those who support it can hardly be called loving.

shell games

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As the new report "Offshore Shell Games 2016" indicates, "Overall, multinational corporations use tax havens to avoid an estimated $100 billion in federal income taxes each year." The downside, of course, is that "when corporations don't pay what they owe, ordinary Americans inevitably must make up the difference:"

In other words, every dollar in taxes that corporations avoid must be balanced by higher taxes on individuals, cuts to public investments and services, and increased federal debt.

"Most of America's largest corporations maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens," the report observes:

At least 367 companies, or 73 percent of the Fortune 500, operate one or more subsidiaries in tax haven countries [and] these 367 companies maintain at least 10,366 tax haven subsidiaries.

For those keeping score at home, that's 28 for each corporation, but it gets worse:

A Citizens for Tax Justice analysis of 27 companies that disclose subsidiary data to both the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Federal Reserve revealed that weak SEC disclosure rules allowed these companies to omit 85 percent of their subsidiaries on average. If this rate of omission held true for the entire Fortune 500, the number of tax haven subsidiaries in reality could be nearly 55,000, rather than the 10,366 that are being publicly disclosed now.

(That would bring the average up to almost 150 tax havens per Fortune 500 firm.) Crooks and Liars notes that "Congress - for obviou$ rea$on$ - refuses to stop this 'deferral' loophole:"

And then these same companies fund "think tanks" and other propaganda mills that tell us we have a huge budget "deficit" and "debt" problem and therefore need to cut spending on things that make people's lives better.

It's almost all a sham, though:

For many companies, increasing profits held offshore does not mean building factories abroad, selling more products to foreign customers, or doing any additional real business activity in other countries. Instead, many companies use accounting tricks to disguise their profits as "foreign," and book them to a subsidiary in a tax haven to avoid taxes. [...] The 298 Fortune 500 companies that report holding offshore cash had collectively accumulated more than $2.49 trillion that they declare to be "permanently reinvested" abroad.

That's rather reminiscent of the $1.8 trillion in cash that corporations were hoarding while the rest of us dug out from the Great Recession. As far as proposing solutions, the reports offers a few:

The most comprehensive solution to ending tax haven abuse would be to stop permitting U.S. multinational corporations to indefinitely defer paying U.S. taxes on profits they attribute to their foreign subsidiaries. In other words, companies should pay taxes on their foreign income at the same rate and time that they pay them on their domestic income. Paying U.S. taxes on this overseas income would not constitute "double taxation" because the companies already subtract any foreign taxes they've paid from their U.S. tax bill, and that would not change. Ending "deferral" could raise up to $1.3 trillion over ten years, accord¬ing to the U.S. Treasury Department.

MediaMatters discusses two decades of Fox, which launched on 7 October 1996, and discusses the network's "torrent of hateful messages, misogyny, and fraudulent smears, all in the guise of journalism:"

Fox News is an enforcement arm of the conservative movement and the Republican Party.

Fox News has time and time again been a malignant force, utilizing its airwaves to attack progressive activists and politicians, elevate conservative activists and officials, and slant facts and information -- sometimes completely inventing it out of whole cloth -- in service of a right-wing conservative agenda.

Whether it was providing TV platforms for Matt Drudge and Glenn Beck, broadcasting Bill O'Reilly's claim that the Iraq War would "not last more than a week," stoking fears of Christmas being "under siege;" and promulgating nonsense that a young Barack Obama "went to a madrassa" and became a "racist" with "a deep-seated hatred for white people," Fox was on the wrong side of pretty much every event of the past two decades. Their propaganda promoted the "tea party" protests, toed the GOP party line as needed, including plagiarizing a GOP press release, and bolstered Trump's BS conspiracy theory about a "rigged" election.

I can hardly wait to see what they make up next.

lies and lawyers

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Trump's lawyers wouldn't meet with him alone "because he had a 'problem' of constantly lying:"

In one document, bankruptcy attorney George Miller reveals that when meeting with Trump, "it's always been our practice to make sure that two people are present, and we don't have a problem with people lying."

Miller calls Trump "an expert at interpreting things. Let's put it that way."

"We tried to [meet in pairs] with Donald always if we could because Donald says certain things and then has a lack of memory," he says in the deposition.

But wait just a minute--I though he had the world's best memory. Perhaps not:

20161007-lackofmemory.jpg

Dave Lindorff writes that "perhaps the best way for us to fight back is to overload the spy system," by burying the NSA in garbage:

How to do this? Just copy and paste random fragments of the following list (a bit dated, but useable), provided courtesy of the publication Business Insider, and include them in every communication -- email, social media, etc. -- that you send out.

So, to help destroy the continuing and expanding effort to monitor everything we do, here's a sample of the NSA's keyword list:

Waihopai, INFOSEC, Information Security, Information Warfare, IW, IS, Priavacy, Information Terrorism, Terrorism Defensive Information, Defense Information Warfare, Offensive Information, Offensive Information Warfare, National Information Infrastructure, InfoSec, Reno, Compsec, Computer Terrorism, Firewalls, Secure Internet Connections, ISS, Passwords, DefCon V, Hackers, Encryption, Espionage, USDOJ, NSA, CIA, S/Key, SSL, FBI, Secert Service, USSS, Defcon, Military, White House, Undercover, NCCS, Mayfly, PGP, PEM, RSA, Perl-RSA, MSNBC, bet, AOL, AOL TOS, CIS, CBOT, AIMSX, STARLAN, 3B2, BITNET, COSMOS, DATTA, E911, FCIC, HTCIA, IACIS, UT/RUS, JANET, JICC, ReMOB, LEETAC, UTU, VNET, BRLO, BZ, CANSLO, CBNRC, CIDA, JAVA, Active X, Compsec 97, LLC, DERA, Mavricks, Meta-hackers, ^?, Steve Case, Tools, Telex, Military Intelligence, Scully, Flame, Infowar, Bubba, Freeh, Archives, Sundevil, jack, Investigation, ISACA, NCSA, spook words, Verisign, Secure, ASIO, Lebed, ICE, NRO, Lexis-Nexis, NSCT, SCIF, FLiR, Lacrosse, Flashbangs, HRT, DIA, USCOI, CID, BOP, FINCEN, FLETC, NIJ, ACC, AFSPC, BMDO, NAVWAN, NRL, RL, NAVWCWPNS, NSWC, USAFA, AHPCRC, ARPA, LABLINK, USACIL, USCG, NRC, ~, CDC, DOE, FMS, HPCC, NTIS, SEL, USCODE, CISE, SIRC, CIM, ISN, DJC, SGC, UNCPCJ, CFC, DREO, CDA, DRA, SHAPE, SACLANT, BECCA, DCJFTF, HALO, HAHO, FKS, 868, GCHQ, DITSA, SORT, AMEMB, NSG, HIC, EDI, SAS, SBS, UDT, GOE, DOE, GEO, Masuda, Forte, AT, GIGN, Exon Shell, CQB, CONUS, CTU, RCMP, GRU, SASR, GSG-9, 22nd SAS, GEOS, EADA, BBE, STEP, Echelon, Dictionary, MD2, MD4, MDA, MYK, 747,777, 767, MI5, 737, MI6, 757, Kh-11, Shayet-13, SADMS, Spetznaz, Recce, 707, CIO, NOCS, Halcon, Duress, RAID, Psyops, grom, D-11, SERT, VIP, ARC, S.E.T. Team, MP5k, DREC, DEVGRP, DF, DSD, FDM, GRU, LRTS, SIGDEV, NACSI, PSAC, PTT, RFI, SIGDASYS, TDM. SUKLO, SUSLO, TELINT, TEXTA. ELF, LF, MF, VHF, UHF, SHF, SASP, WANK, Colonel, domestic disruption, smuggle, 15kg, nitrate, Pretoria, M-14, enigma, Bletchley Park, Clandestine, nkvd, argus, afsatcom, CQB, NVD, Counter Terrorism Security, Rapid Reaction, Corporate Security, Police, sniper, PPS, ASIS, ASLET, TSCM, Security Consulting, High Security, Security Evaluation, Electronic Surveillance, MI-17, Counterterrorism, spies, eavesdropping, debugging, interception, COCOT, rhost, rhosts, SETA, Amherst, Broadside, Capricorn, Gamma, Gorizont, Guppy, Ionosphere, Mole, Keyhole, Kilderkin, Artichoke, Badger, Cornflower, Daisy, Egret, Iris, Hollyhock, Jasmine, Juile, Vinnell, B.D.M.,Sphinx, Stephanie, Reflection, Spoke, Talent, Trump, FX, FXR, IMF, POCSAG, Covert Video, Intiso, r00t, lock picking, Beyond Hope, csystems, passwd, 2600 Magazine, Competitor, EO, Chan, Alouette,executive, Event Security, Mace, Cap-Stun, stakeout, ninja, ASIS, ISA, EOD, Oscor, Merlin, NTT, SL-1, Rolm, TIE, Tie-fighter, PBX, SLI, NTT, MSCJ, MIT, 69, RIT, Time, MSEE, Cable & Wireless, CSE, Embassy, ETA, Porno, Fax, finks, Fax encryption, white noise, pink noise, CRA, M.P.R.I., top secret, Mossberg, 50BMG, Macintosh Security, Macintosh Internet Security, Macintosh Firewalls, Unix Security, VIP Protection, SIG, sweep, Medco, TRD, TDR, sweeping, TELINT, Audiotel, Harvard, 1080H, SWS, Asset, Satellite imagery, force, Cypherpunks, Coderpunks, TRW, remailers, replay, redheads, RX-7, explicit, FLAME, Pornstars, AVN, Playboy, Anonymous, Sex, chaining, codes, Nuclear, 20, subversives, SLIP, toad, fish, data havens, unix, c, a, b, d, the, Elvis, quiche, DES, 1*, NATIA, NATOA, sneakers, counterintelligence, industrial espionage, PI, TSCI, industrial intelligence, H.N.P., Juiliett Class Submarine, Locks, loch, Ingram Mac-10, sigvoice, ssa, E.O.D., SEMTEX, penrep, racal, OTP, OSS, Blowpipe, CCS, GSA, Kilo Class, squib, primacord, RSP, Becker, Nerd, fangs, Austin, Comirex, GPMG, Speakeasy, humint, GEODSS, SORO, M5, ANC, zone, SBI, DSS, S.A.I.C., Minox, Keyhole, SAR, Rand Corporation, Wackenhutt, EO, Wackendude, mol, Hillal, GGL, CTU, botux, Virii, CCC, Blacklisted 411, Internet Underground, XS4ALL, Retinal Fetish, Fetish, Yobie, CTP, CATO, Phon-e, Chicago Posse, l0ck, spook keywords, PLA, TDYC, W3, CUD, CdC, Weekly World News, Zen, World Domination, Dead, GRU, M72750, Salsa, 7, Blowfish, Gorelick, Glock, Ft. Meade, press-release, Indigo, wire transfer, e-cash, Bubba the Love Sponge, Digicash, zip, SWAT, Ortega, PPP, crypto-anarchy, AT&T, SGI, SUN, MCI, Blacknet, Middleman, KLM, Blackbird, plutonium, Texas, jihad, SDI, Uzi, Fort Meade, supercomputer, bullion, 3, Blackmednet, Propaganda, ABC, Satellite phones, Planet-1, cryptanalysis, nuclear, FBI, Panama, fissionable, Sears Tower, NORAD, Delta Force, SEAL, virtual, Dolch, secure shell, screws, Black-Ops, Area51, SABC, basement, data-haven, black-bag, TEMPSET, Goodwin, rebels, ID, MD5, IDEA, garbage, market, beef, Stego, unclassified, utopia, orthodox, Alica, SHA, Global, gorilla, Bob, Pseudonyms, MITM, Gray Data, VLSI, mega, Leitrim, Yakima, Sugar Grove, Cowboy, Gist, 8182, Gatt, Platform, 1911, Geraldton, UKUSA, veggie, 3848, Morwenstow, Consul, Oratory, Pine Gap, Menwith, Mantis, DSD, BVD, 1984, Flintlock, cybercash, government, hate, speedbump, illuminati, president, freedom, cocaine, $, Roswell, ESN, COS, E.T., credit card, b9, fraud, assasinate, virus, anarchy, rogue, mailbomb, 888, Chelsea, 1997, Whitewater, MOD, York, plutonium, William Gates, clone, BATF, SGDN, Nike, Atlas, Delta, TWA, Kiwi, PGP 2.6.2., PGP 5.0i, PGP 5.1, siliconpimp, Lynch, 414, Face, Pixar, IRIDF, eternity server, Skytel, Yukon, Templeton, LUK, Cohiba, Soros, Standford, niche, 51, H&K, USP, ^, sardine, bank, EUB, USP, PCS, NRO, Red Cell, Glock 26, snuffle, Patel, package, ISI, INR, INS, IRS, GRU, RUOP, GSS, NSP, SRI, Ronco, Armani, BOSS, Chobetsu, FBIS, BND, SISDE, FSB, BfV, IB, froglegs, JITEM, SADF, advise, TUSA, HoHoCon, SISMI, FIS, MSW, Spyderco, UOP, SSCI, NIMA, MOIS, SVR, SIN, advisors, SAP, OAU, PFS, Aladdin, chameleon man, Hutsul, CESID, Bess, rail gun, Peering, 17, 312, NB, CBM, CTP, Sardine, SBIRS, SGDN, ADIU, DEADBEEF, IDP, IDF, Halibut, SONANGOL, Flu, &, Loin, PGP 5.53, EG&G, AIEWS, AMW, WORM, MP5K-SD, 1071, WINGS, cdi, DynCorp, UXO, Ti, THAAD, package, chosen, PRIME, SURVIAC

In case your eyes glazed over partway through the list, he offers some analysis:

You'll note, if you read through it, that the list itself is doing the job of overburdening the NSA's staff. By including such commonly used words as flu, package, face, niche, package, credit card, fraud, basement, veggie (!), president, freedom (!), bank and Armani, they assure that there will be endless piles of communications that are completely innocuous that will have to be first read and examined for signs of terrorism. You'll note too that there are some keywords that are even misspelled, meaning that the real words will be missed, for example: assasinate, priavacy(!), Secert Service and Hillal (is that supposed to be halal or Hillel I wonder?).

It's also interesting to discover among the incriminating words that the NSA thinks might be used by potential "terrorists," peculiar words like: freedom, veggie, sardine, Standford (sic), advisors, halibut, fish, Bubba the Love Sponge (really!), Playboy, dictionary and Zen (I'm sure there's a great SNL skit in the works featuring a gang of Zen practitioners plotting their first terrorist action!).

Anyhow, have fun reading the list and selecting some of these choice keywords to sprinking into your communications. Or you could just use them as a tag line to your emails, the way some people add inspirational sayings from the likes of Ben Franklin or Albert Einstein.

It would be fun to have a little script to select a few of them at random into a custom email sig, just for giggles...

In his primer on the new consumer landscape, Aaron Fellmeth sees us entering the era of purchasing without ownership:

The days of buying software, movies, and music albums on nifty plastic discs are about over. Soon media will be obsolete. Content--streaming and on-demand delivery of entertainment and software--will reign supreme.

The rise of DRM (digital rights management) since the late 1990s has made it apparent that "consumers didn't own the software the purchased:"

They were really using it at the sufferance of the copyright owner, under terms only the copyright owner knew and could control. Some courts let them, interpreting the software license as meaning that the consumer didn't own the copy at all.

The DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998) made the situation worse by criminalizing attempts "to circumvent DRM technologies on copyrighted materials such as software, movies, and music:"

While there's nothing objectionable in prohibiting hacking that results in copyright infringement, the law doesn't simply prohibit circumventing DRM in order to make illegal copies. It also bans circumventing DRM even to do things the copy owner is entitled by law to do. Using DRM, a copyright owner can now turn you into a criminal for exercising your legal ownership rights.

And the hits just keep on coming:

With the move to cloud computing and streaming content, the concept of "copy ownership" is now disappearing from entertainment as well. Software, motion pictures, and even music are increasingly a service provided to you.

Nevertheless, Fellmeth holds out hope for the future:

Until Congress passes a new "Digital Services Copyright Act" of some kind to defend legitimate consumer expectations, the software and entertainment industries are holding all the virtual poker cards.

This long Alan Moore interview (with Dominic Wells), focusing on his new novel Jerusalem, is worth a read. Here are some highlights:

Alan Moore and I are holed up in an Italian restaurant in Northampton to discuss the culmination of a lifetime's work, research and philosophy. "Bigger than the Bible and I hope more socially useful", is how Moore describes his sprawling magnum opus, Jerusalem, with his customarily deadpan humour. [...]

This is why, as in Alan Moore's first novel, Voice of the Fire, almost all the action in Jerusalem takes place within a small geographical area of Northampton, but ranging across different historical eras, each centring on different protagonists who end up interconnecting in surprising ways. It took Moore ten years to write - in between multiple other projects - and took me three weeks to read. It's part social history of Northampton, part thinly fictionalised history of Moore's own family, part philosophical treatise, part rip-roaring adventure in which a gang of kids maraud through the afterlife in a central section Moore describes as like "a savage, hallucinating Enid Blyton".

As if that wasn't hard enough to pull off, Moore adapts his writing style to the inner voice of whoever is the chapter's focus. One is written as a play, in the style of Waiting for Godot, and throws together the spirits of Thomas Becket, Samuel Beckett, John Clare and John Bunyan - all of whom have some connection with Northampton - as they observe and comment on a husband and wife wrestling with a terrible family secret... [...]

Another chapter, described from the point of view of James Joyce's mad daughter Lucia who was institutionalised for 30 years in a Northampton mental hospital, is written in a mangled, pun-filled gibber-English as a homage to Joyce's Finnegans Wake. It was so laborious to compose that Moore took a year's break after finishing it.

That reminds me of his celebrated story "Pog!" from Swamp Thing #32, which featured characters and dialects reminiscent of Walt Kelly's Pogo:

20161002-pog.jpg

I read an interview (ages ago, can't recall the source) where he also commented on needing recuperation time afterward. Wells continues:

If this makes Jerusalem sound like hard going, it isn't. It's gripping, full of stylistic fireworks, frequently laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes terrifying, occasionally frustrating. Could it have been shorter? Of course. But it's the digressions and bizarre connections that make the book, the nuggets of pure gold that Moore has sifted from the silt of local history through prodigious research and banked in his near-photographic memory.

"The so-called 'Ferguson Effect' might exist," writes The Atlantic, "just not in the way some have been defining it." The real Ferguson Effect, suggests the piece, is that "citizens in black neighborhoods are losing confidence in police:"

Three sociologists who studied over 800,000 911 calls in Milwaukee concluded that following a publicized death of a black man at the hands of police calls to the emergency dispatch dropped precipitously, especially in black neighborhoods. "High-profile cases of police violence against unarmed citizens can undermine the legitimacy of legal authority," they wrote. [...]

"We estimate that the police beating of Frank Jude resulted in a net loss of approximately 22,200 911 calls reporting crime the year after Jude's story broke." Over half of the total decline came from black neighborhoods.

In answering the question Why Don't You Just Call the Cops?, the NYT also quotes researchers Matthew Desmonda. Andrew Papachristosb, and David Kirkc: "Critics of the idea of the Ferguson effect have pointed out that there is little evidence to support it. But up to this point there's been none to debunk it, either:"

Our study shows that residents of Milwaukee's neighborhoods, especially residents of black neighborhoods, were far less likely to report crime to the police after Mr. Jude's beating was reported in the press and the subsequent fallout shook the city. [...] The effect lasted for over a year and resulted in a loss of approximately 22,200 911 calls, a 17 percent reduction in citizen crime reporting, compared with the expected number of calls. It is one thing to disparage law enforcement in your thoughts and speech after an instance of police violence makes the news. It is quite another to witness a crime, or even to be victimized, and decide not to report it.

"What explains our finding," they continue, is "the fact that police violence against an unarmed black man was registered in the collective memories of black Milwaukeeans as part of a larger pattern:"

Before Frank Jude, there was Justin Fields, an unarmed black man shot in the back by a Milwaukee police officer in 2003. Before Justin Fields there was Mario Mallett, a black man who, handcuffed and shackled, died in the back of a police wagon after a struggle with officers. Before Mario Mallett there was Thomas Jackson, a mentally ill man who suffocated after police officers placed their knees in his back while he was handcuffed. Before Thomas Jackson, there was James Philips III and Nicholas Elm Sr., who died in police custody; before them, there was Tandy O'Neal, shot in the back during a police raid; before him, there was Ernest Lacy, a black man falsely accused of rape, who died after officers used excessive force while arresting him. Some of us have forgotten these names; some of us cannot.

When police kill three people a day, we can't expect it not to have an effect.

Michael Shurkin, a political scientist at RAND, offers a brief history of the assault rifle, with this conclusion:

Virtually all the world's armies now use assault rifles, most of which are variants of the AK-47 or the AR-15. They differ in the details--slightly smaller bullets or slightly bigger ones, longer or shorter barrels, and so forth--which reflect different schools of thought regarding the right sweet spot between power and ease, between full-size rifle cartridges and pistol ammunition. There are also different mechanical approaches to things like how the gun uses the gas from a fired round to reload. The basic idea, though, has remained the same since Hitler gave the weapon its name. Other guns are technically more lethal, and of course different guns are better suited for different purposes. Assault rifles were designed for fighting wars.

out in October

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In comics news that is garnering broad attention, the NYT reports that Midnighter and Apollo will reunite in a six-issue miniseries:

Gay Pride Month ends today, but DC Comics is giving fans something to look forward to this fall. In October the company will publish Midnighter & Apollo, the first part of a six-issue mini-series that reunites the two heroes, who are gay and have an on-again off-again relationship.

IGN quotes writer Steve Orlando:

"Midnighter and Apollo are back to remind the world that it truly is a bad time to be bastards. This is the World's Finest Couple--kicking back and making each other better than they are on their own."

pure, uncut Koch

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Salon's look at the Koch brothers as capitalist puritans notes Steve Inskeep's labeling of the Kochs as "a political force unto themselves:"

The Kochs are, according to mainstream belief, more or less right-leaning, an assumption no doubt prompted by their propensity to sponsor Republican candidates far more often than they do Democrats.

"Charles reveals," the piece continues, "that the Kochs simply see Republicans as the current lesser of two evils:"

Or, as he phrases it, "The Democrats are taking us down the road to serfdom at 100 miles an hour, and the Republicans are at 70 miles an hour."

What the brothers are really behind, a point that might be a bit foggy in this interview, is a libertarian ideology that is reminiscent of old-school, academic, Friedman-and-Hayek-style classical economic liberalism.

When we think of the economic rationalizations of big money campaign spenders, we normally think of what leftists refer to as the neoliberal model. It describes an approach to economics that, while embracing the laissez faire utopian notions of classical liberalism, heavily favors corporate health, financialization "and a cultural project of building consent for the upward redistributions of wealth and power."

Simply put, "Charles Koch is a capitalist puritan. Milton Friedman is his Jesus, Friedrich Hayek his Peter:"

His goal for his influence is to reindoctrinate the country according to the pure theory of capital, the sole principles of which are capitalism and freedom. Pure economic liberty is the only road to true prosperity, while government intervention is the road to serfdom.

As crazy as this may sound to some given the past half-century of increasing wealth inequality, it has a certain appeal to many others who still want to hold onto hope for an individualistic utopia. The Kochs have the American Dream on their side, and they're trying to revive the notion that, with a small enough government and vibrant enough economy, any American can pick him or herself up by the bootstraps and make a respectable, comfortable living.

Talk about a delusional dogma...the parallel to religion is all too apt.

In a move that likely sends shivers down the spines of bookstores nationwide, Amazon plans to open "as many as 400 new stores:"

"But like just about everything in the digital economy," notes the article, "it's a mixed blessing at best, and a touch totalitarian at worst." As noted in Forbes, customers have to "scan the code with the camera of your smartphone and the Amazon app" to get item prices:

If you are signed into the app with your account - as is likely - Amazon is immediately able to associate its online customer records with you, the customer browsing the shelves in its physical location. It knows your preferences, your buying history, your status as an Amazon Prime and/or Amazon credit card member, and who knows what else. Armed with that data, it can feed you recommendations, offer coupons and incentives, and do whatever it needs to do to close the sale as you are holding an item in your hand that you are considering purchasing.

Sanders' movement

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Robert Reich observes of political change that it takes a movement:

There are two dominant views about how presidents accomplish fundamental change.

The first might be called the "deal-maker-in-chief," by which presidents threaten or buy off powerful opponents.

The second is "by mobilizing the public to demand them and penalize politicians who don't heed those demands:"

Teddy Roosevelt got a progressive income tax, limits on corporate campaign contributions, regulation of foods and drugs, and the dissolution of giant trusts - not because he was a great dealmaker but because he added fuel to growing public demands for such changes.

It was at a point in American history similar to our own. Giant corporations and a handful of wealthy people dominated American democracy. The lackeys of the "robber barons" literally placed sacks of cash on the desks of pliant legislators.

The American public was angry and frustrated. Roosevelt channeled that anger and frustration into support of initiatives that altered the structure of power in America. He used the office of the president - his "bully pulpit," as he called it - to galvanize political action.

Could Hillary Clinton do the same? Could Bernie Sanders?

"Such a movement is at the heart of the Sanders campaign," he concludes. TNR writes that Bernie's Army is running for Congress, and opines that "The greatest gift Sanders--the longtime independent--has given to the Democratic Party is to inspire a progressive revolution from within." The examples given are Zephyr Teachout's run for Congress in NY's 19th Congressional District, John Fetterman's challenge to Republican Pat Toomey for a PA Senate seat, Lucy Flores' candidacy for Nevada's 4th Congressional District, and several others.

Victory is not assured for any of them. But their perspective is starting to win inside the party. It's focused on taking pride in bold ideas, and on a hard-nosed belief in doing the difficult work of building coalitions to advance them.

Meanwhile, Commentary complains about a new generation of bitter liberals, whining that "Bernie Sanders lost the Iowa caucuses on Monday night to Hillary Clinton. At least, that is what you are expected to believe:"

The contest was so tight that the final results - Clinton's 49.9 percent to Sanders' 49.6 percent - may mean the difference between just a few hundred votes out of tens of thousands cast. As of Tuesday morning, votes from at least one precinct in Iowa were still missing. Clinton's ability to turn out her voters in populous parts of the state resulted in a lopsided victory for her in terms of awarded delegates. But the way in which she won some precincts, more than a handful of which were resolved by coin toss, has Sanders supporters fuming.

Smirking Chimp's look at the Wall Street worldview singles out billionaire Stephen Schwarzman, who says he's "puzzled by the amount of discontent apparently felt by other Americans these days."

"I find the whole thing astonishing and what's remarkable is the amount of anger whether it's on the Republican side or the Democratic side.... Bernie Sanders, to me, is almost more stunning than some of what's going on in the Republican side. How is that happening, why is that happening?"

One clue to "why is that happening," a clue Schwarzman presumably noticed last October, was the $39 million fine Schwarzman's Blackstone Group advisors had to pay for bilking customers. Blackstone entered into a "consent agreement" with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) finding that "it breached its fiduciary duty" to its customers. The consent agreement, admitting no guilt, is a tactic often used by corporate shysters to cut their losses when caught with their hands in other people's pockets. [Note: with revenue of $7.484 billion, Blackstone's $10 million fine represents 10/7484th - or .1336% - of its income.]

ICYMI, Schwarzman has a history of wealth-induced cluelessness:

In 2010, when there was some talk of closing the carried interest loophole, Steve Schwarzman strongly objected, as if Wall Street was actually being invaded: "It's a war.... It's like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939."

ThinkProgress looks at why converts to Islam are susceptible to becoming terrorists, noting particularly that "Converts are among the most fervent adherents to any faith:"

In the age of ISIS, Muslim converts are increasingly vulnerable to adopting a creed of extremism and violence.

About 40 percent of those arrested on terrorism-related charges last year were converts to Islam according to "ISIS in America," a new report by George Washington University. That's disproportionate with the overall picture of Muslims in America, where less than one in four are converts.

"The main reason converts appear to be especially vulnerable to extremist Islam," the piece continues, "is because they may not have a firm grounding in its scripture or history:"

Converts might also seek out what they believe to be more pure -- and often more extreme -- interpretations of Islam. In an attempt to abide by what they believe to be the proper manifestation of Islam, they might eschew centuries of cultural and social shifts that have created hybridized, and often more human, versions of the faith. [...]

Part of the reason why converts make up such a high percentage of those arrested for terrorism-related charges might be because their radicalization is more likely to occur online. That could tip off law enforcement more quickly than discussions at a private home or even in a public place. While distance from Muslim communities could make converts easier targets for arrest, it could also make their radicalization process more intense since it's so likely to occur within a vacuum -- especially since ISIS recruiters are so keen to court people to their violent brand of Islam.

Here's a long excerpt from David Corn's look at Ted Cruz's "Satanic tones" and conservative victimhood:

I don't know about Brooks, but I was besieged on Twitter by conservatives who hurled angry how-dare-you tweets at me. Some accused me of committing a hate crime (the victims: Christians). But this was yet another exercise of false right-wing outrage, and a demonstration of rather poor reading comprehension on the right.

This phony brouhaha was triggered when Newshour host Judy Woodruff asked Brooks and me to evaluate recent developments in the GOP presidential primary. Brooks went first:

Ted Cruz is making headway. There's--you begin to see little signs of liftoff. Trump has sort of ceiling-ed out. Carson is collapsing. And Cruz is somehow beginning to get some momentum from Iowa and elsewhere. And so people are either mimicking him, which Rubio is doing a little by adopting some of the dark and satanic tones that Cruz has, and so--

Woodruff interrupted Brooks at this point to ask about his use of the word "satanic," and Brooks explained:

Well, if you go to a Cruz--if you watch a Cruz speech, it's like, we have got this enemy, we have got that enemy, we're going to stomp on this person, we're going to crush that person, we're going to destroy that person. It is an ugly world in Ted Cruz's world. And it's combative. And it's angry, and it's apocalyptic.

At that point, with this article in mind, I chimed in to point out that Cruz's father, an evangelical pastor who officially campaigns for Cruz, truly does believe and promote satanic conspiracies, claiming in a recent speech that Lucifer was responsible for the Supreme Court's gay-marriage decision:

Well, actually, if you go to a speech from his dad, who is a pastor, evangelical, Rafael Cruz, it actually is satanic. He--I watched a speech in which he said Satan was behind the Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage.

"As you can see," explains Corn, "neither one of us called either Cruz 'satanic':'

Brooks did use the word "satanic" to describe Cruz's tone, but he meant that Cruz pitches an apocalyptic message of good versus evil, light versus dark. Which he does. And I then explained that his father, who has been recruiting religious leaders to support his son's campaign, does indeed see political and policy developments he opposes as the handiwork of Satan. That is, the elder Cruz, who routinely resorts to fiery fundamentalist rhetoric, often labels his (and his son's) foes as "satanic," noting that they're being manipulated by the Evil One. Neither Brooks nor I suggested that Ted or Rafael Cruz are serving the Dark Lord.

The points we made were not that hard to understand. Yet conservatives--perhaps driven by their antipathy to the RINO-ish Brooks--quickly tried to manufacture a fake controversy. I wonder if the devil made them do it.

Politico looks at Trump's economic plan:

Many economists say Donald Trump's proposals -- from big import tariffs to mass deportations -- would hurt the very demographic that supports him in the greatest numbers: less educated voters struggling in a tepid U.S. economy.

If Trump policies actually went into effect, these economists say, prices for goods lower-income Americans depend on could soar and a depleted low-end labor force could trigger a major downturn.

Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics and an adviser to McCain in 2008, bluntly states that "If you force 11 million undocumented immigrants to leave in a year, you would be looking at a depression:"

If 11 million immigrants were rounded up and removed from the country, many of the jobs they do -- including restaurant, hotel and low-end construction work -- could go largely unfilled, economists say. That would create a large and immediate hit to gross domestic product growth and the effects would ripple out to companies that supply goods and services to all those businesses. There would also be 11 million fewer people consuming goods and services, further driving down economic activity.

As far as tariffs go, "Trump is really harkening back to the outdated mercantilist positions of hundreds of years ago."

Judd Legum notes in ThinkProgress' look at Powerball and other lotteries that "The next Powerball drawing, scheduled for Wednesday, will be worth about $1.3 billion to the winner. This is projected to be the biggest lottery payout in the history of the world:"

The odds of winning any lotto jackpot are extremely low. And that means people spend a lot of money without getting much, if anything, back. Players lose an average of 47 cents on the dollar each time they buy a ticket.

And it's those who can least afford to lose any money who are most likely to be buying tickets.

The use of lottery receipts for socially-worthy state goals tends to fail, anyway:

Part of the problem is that lottery revenue tends to be unstable and hard to predict over the long term, while it can only rise so much given that residents can only buy so many tickets. It's also easy for lawmakers to move the money away from priorities like education to anything else, like plugging budget holes.

Lotteries promise the low-income people who make up the biggest portion of ticket buyers that they'll win either through a payout or increased services. But most of the time, neither is true. As one study put it, "lotteries set off a vicious cycle that not only exploits low-income individuals' desires to escape poverty but also directly prevents them from improving upon their financial situations."

culture and suicide

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Chris Hedges writes about the great forgetting, reminding us that "Ignorance and illiteracy come with a cost:"

The obsequious worship of technology, hedonism and power comes with a cost. The primacy of emotion and spectacle over wisdom and rational thought comes with a cost. And we are paying the bill.

The decades-long assault on the arts, the humanities, journalism and civic literacy is largely complete. All the disciplines that once helped us interpret who we were as a people and our place in the world--history, theater, the study of foreign languages, music, journalism, philosophy, literature, religion and the arts--have been corrupted or relegated to the margins. We have surrendered judgment for prejudice. We have created a binary universe of good and evil. And our colossal capacity for violence is unleashed around the globe, as well as on city streets in poor communities, with no more discernment than that of the blinded giant Polyphemus. The marriage of ignorance and force always generates unfathomable evil, an evil that is unseen by perpetrators who mistake their own stupidity and blindness for innocence.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump may be boorish, narcissistic, stupid, racist and elitist, but he does not have Hillary Clinton's carefully honed and chilling amoral artifice. It was she, and an ethically bankrupt liberal establishment, that created the fertile ground for Trump by fleecing the citizens on behalf of corporations and imposing the neoliberal project. If she is elected, Trump may disappear, but another Trump-like figure, probably even more frightening, will be vomited up from our cultural and political sewer.

"There was a time, a few decades ago, when the work and thought of intellectuals and artists mattered," he continues, but today "new independent, brilliant and creative minds...are locked out:"

And this has turned our artistic, cultural and intellectual terrain into a commercialized wasteland. I doubt that a young Bruce Springsteen or a young Patti Smith, or even a young Chomsky, all of whom exhibit the rare quality of never having sold out the marginalized, the working class and the poor, and who are not afraid of speaking truths about our nation that others will not utter, could today break into the corporatized music industry or the corporatized university. Sales, branding and marketing, even in academia, overpower content.

T.S. Eliot warned us in "What Is a Classic?" that, as Hedges paraphrases, "a civilization that did not engage with its greatest artists and intellectual traditions, that did not protect and nurture its artistic and intellectual patrimony, committed suicide." I apologize for the awkward segue, but Aaron Swartz's "Against School" at TNR (an excerpt from his book The Boy Who Could Change the World) dovetails into Eliot and Hedges:

Despite all the talk about educators and education priorities, the most important people in any school have always been businessmen. They constantly complain that our schools our failing, that they need to cut out modern fads and go "back to basics," that unless schools get tougher on students American business will be unable to compete.

As Richard Rothstein [of the Economic Policy Institute] has shown, such claims are hardly new. Because schools have never been about actual education, businessmen have been easily collecting studies about their failure at this task since the very beginning.

He rails against the "cover story" that "schools are about teaching people the things they need to know to survive in the world of business:"

It's not true, of course--there's no connection between the facts memorized in school and the skills needed on the job--but the story is convincing enough.

And so the spread of schools and factories destroys the American model of freedom. Instead of being independent farmers or self-employed manufacturers, Americans are herded into factories en masse, forced to work for someone else because they cannot earn a living any other way. But thanks to schools, this seems normal, even natural. After all, isn't that just the way the world works?

Why should one spend precious off-the-job time becoming educated when intellectualism is so devalued?

In discussing the Obama Boom, Paul Krugman asks, "What did Mr. Obama do that was supposed to kill jobs? Quite a lot, actually:"

He signed the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform, which critics claimed would crush employment by starving businesses of capital. He raised taxes on high incomes, especially at the very top, where average tax rates rose by about six and a half percentage points after 2012, a step that critics claimed would destroy incentives. And he enacted a health reform that went into full effect in 2014, amid claims that it would have catastrophic effects on employment.

Yet none of the dire predicted consequences of these policies have materialized. It's not just that overall job creation in the private sector -- which was what Mr. Obama was supposedly killing -- has been strong. More detailed examinations of labor markets also show no evidence of predicted ill effects. For example, there's no evidence that Obamacare led to a shift from full-time to part-time work, and no evidence that the expansion of Medicaid led to large reductions in labor supply.

So what do we learn from this impressive failure to fail? That the conservative economic orthodoxy dominating the Republican Party is very, very wrong.

His summation is golden:

From a conservative point of view, Mr. Obama did everything wrong, afflicting the comfortable (slightly) and comforting the afflicted (a lot), and nothing bad happened. We can, it turns out, make our society better after all.

lack of leisure

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Constant availability and the strain of always being on-call have negative effects, such as "decreased calmness, mood, and energy levels:"

By looking at industries from technical services to nursing, the study evaluated the effects of being on-call -- that is, not at work, but being expected to remain available by phone for questions or customer requests. Participants answered questions in the evening after an on-call day about how often they thought about work or how constrained their activities felt. The next morning, they were quizzed again to better understand how the previous day's mental requirements affected their mood.

Participants marked lower moods the morning after being on-call compared to mornings after days when they were not required to be available, which the researchers believe occurs because readiness to respond makes it harder to recover from work. The possibility alone impeded recovery from work, as the effects persisted even when no calls came.

"Specifically," the article continues, "this on-call study found the measurement that best accounted for a person's resilience was detachment:"

People who were able to detach from work even while on call were most likely to recoup their energies and avoid effects on mood and cortisol. In lieu of actually reducing work availability, practicing mental detachment from work might be the next best approach.

Today, employees (and employers) feel pressured into responding immediately to communications after hours. [...] Given the present knowledge of stress's long-term effects on our health, we have two options to consider. We can reduce job stress or maximize recovery afterwards. But so long as we are jumping to answer the phone when work calls, there is little chance of either happening.

The study, "Extended Work Availability and Its Relation with Start-of-Day Mood and Cortisol," makes an important point:

The results demonstrate that nonwork hours during which employees are required to remain available for work cannot be considered leisure time because employees' control over their activities is constrained and their recovery from work is restricted.

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