Roldo's Tree

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Some people live mythic and magical lives.

Some become myths to kith and kin and some become magicians sharing their craft in secret with the parts of the universe that can appreciate such things, some become both.
I would be humbled to present to you such a man who has managed for over 50 years to resist the potential ravages of cultural normalization that by dint of mere endurance drain the dreams and aspirations of most of us, leaving only husks of our original sparkling selves, to raise children, watch the paint peel off and eventually rot and succumb to one trifling ailment or another, our lives circumscribed by some wooden or stone marker forgotten by all except the random squirrel to indicate where he buried the winter stash.
Not many of us survive that existential assault. Some do though and they are treasures.

Roldo is such a person. He entered my ken by the accident of me striking out across Canada at 21 on a lark and with the very serious intention of discovering whether those post card pictures of the Rockies was backed up by any time/space realities or not. They were and so was Roldo. At the time (1970) he was playing the role of magnificent musical bard and musical historian. He occurred as part of a Winnipeg sojourn in a house of near loons, loons and beyond the pale loons who forever changed my perceptions of the world.

The Roldo, (he is as much a force of nature as a personality) was an ample sample of creative genius and wandering minstrel, insofar as he wandered through that house (affectionately dubbed Gertrude) which was artistically seminal in many ways for many people.
As a musician Roldo is immersed, which is the tell tale of true artistry. He didn't just play original music on instruments from antiquity I had never even heard of at the time, he could tell you everything about the history of the instrument and how it had evolved from earlier forms. He was a walking music education class and museum and performer all in one.

I remember that one the first things he told me about himself was that he lived in a tree. I believed him and you would have too if you had known him. In fact letting him speak for himself makes far more sense than me trying to describe an essentially indescribable person who opened me up to so much musical possibility.

Thank you, Roldo, for all of it.

Here then is a culmination of his 50+ years of accomplishment just a click away:

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Forget Urkel, You Did This

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I say "you" rather than "we" because from the start of the mega war on Iraq which has endured since the 1991 Desert Storm assault via Kuwait through troops being sent today against ISIS I have been persistently and often loudly been in opposition to the illegal invasion and intentional wholesale destruction of Iraq by US military forces and political cowardice of the neocons signatories of the "Project for The New American Century" cabal.

• Elliott Abrams
• Gary Bauer
• William J. Bennett
• John Ellis "Jeb" Bush
• Dick Cheney
• Eliot A. Cohen
• Midge Decter
• Paula Dobriansky
• Steve Forbes
• Aaron Friedberg
• Francis Fukuyama
• Frank Gaffney
• Fred C. Ikle
• Donald Kagan
• Zalmay Khalilzad
• I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby
• Norman Podhoretz
• J. Danforth Quayle
• Peter W. Rodman
• Stephen P. Rosen
• Henry S. Rowen
• Donald Rumsfeld
• Vin Weber
• George Weigel
• Paul Wolfowitz

All of these listed are psychopathic war criminals who will never be prosecuted for the 100,000+ Iraqis murdered and the thousands of Americans maimed and killed at the behest of these fools and tools.You who celebrated these maniacs and their pyscho quasi-religious vision of American world dominance with flag waving and rapt attention to the ghoulish green CNN oracles in willful patriotic ignorance are not much better. You may have been duped, but just like the civilian Germans before you, your salutes to the death machines are no less morally implicated. Will you ever learn?

Will you?

Shine on good humor
Shine on good will
Shine on lousy leadership
Licensed to kill
Shine on dying soldiers
In patriotic pain
Shine on mass destruction
In some God's name!
- joni mitchell (Shine)


Others
including those directly connected in service to the G Bush Jr administration


1/4 Century of Hot and Cold War Against Iraq Has Produced Only Chaos

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by Joshua Holland

While Americans tend to see their country's involvement in Iraq as two discrete conflicts - "Operation Desert Storm" in 1991, and the 2003 Iraq war -- most Iraqis view it as one protracted campaign.They have good reason. We've been waging hot and cold war on Iraq for almost a quarter of a century.

As American boots once again hit the ground in Baghdad -- and as the Obama administration mulls other "options" -- it's important to remember that after 24 years of military, political and economic intervention in Iraq's affairs we've caused a lot of death and hardship, but accomplished none of our stated goals. The region has never been less stable, there is still an abundance of innocent blood being shed, oil prices remain high and Iraqis enjoy neither democracy nor prosperity. Many suffer from a lack of basic public services like running water and electricity.

Saddam Hussein's government was a corrupt military dictatorship that brutally repressed dissent, but before the first Gulf War, Iraq was a functional country that had adequate public services and the security that allowed Iraqis to walk through their streets in relative safely.

US intelligence agencies were actively assisting Saddam Hussein in his conflict against Iran throughout the 1980s, and continued to do so as late as 1988. We knew who we were dealing with at the time. As Shane Harris and Matthew Aid reported for Foreign Policy last year, "The Iraqis used mustard gas and sarin [nerve agent] prior to four major offensives in early 1988 that relied on U.S. satellite imagery, maps, and other intelligence."

These attacks helped to tilt the war in Iraq's favor and bring Iran to the negotiating table, and they ensured that the Reagan administration's long-standing policy of securing an Iraqi victory would succeed. But they were also the last in a series of chemical strikes stretching back several years that the Reagan administration knew about and didn't disclose.

Following the Iran-Iraq war, Hussein's cruelty became a political liability, and Iraq's invasion of Kuwait triggered the first of two major US-led wars against the country.

Like the 2003 war, the 1991 conflict was sold to the American people based on a series of what later proved to be falsehoods.

And contrary to the belief of many Americans who were first introduced to Iraq with CNN's breathless coverage of "precision" bombings that supposedly minimized civilian casualties, the fighting was anything but clean.

The war began with a series of massive airstrikes in January of 1991, followed by a ground invasion in February.

As Seymour Hersh, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the Mai Lai Massacre in Vietnam, wrote for The New Yorker in 2000:

The Iraqis offered only disorganized and ragged opposition to the American invasion, in February of 1991, and the much feared ground war quickly turned into a bloody rout, with many of the retreating Iraqi units, including the elite Republican Guard, being pounded by American aircraft, artillery, and tanks as they fled north in panic along a six-lane road from Kuwait City to Basra, the major military stronghold in southern Iraq. The road became littered with blackened tanks, trucks, and bodies; the news media called it the "highway of death."

While the "highway of death" gained international media attention, there were no reporters on another road out of Kuwait where a massive ground attack two days after the US had officially declared a ceasefire killed "not only Iraqi soldiers but civilians and children as well," according to Hersh. He added: "Many of the dead were buried soon after the engagement, and no accurate count of the victims could be made."

[The] offensive... was not so much a counterattack provoked by enemy fire as a systematic destruction of Iraqis who were generally fulfilling the requirements of the retreat; most of the Iraqi tanks travelled from the battlefield with their cannons reversed and secured, in a position known as travel-lock. According to these witnesses, the 24th [Infantry] faced little determined Iraqi resistance at any point during the war or its aftermath; they also said that [24th Infantry commander Barry] McCaffrey and other senior officers exaggerated the extent of Iraqi resistance throughout the war.

Hersh also reported allegations that Bradley Fighting Vehicles from the 24th Infantry had fired on more than 350 "captured and disarmed Iraqi soldiers, including Iraqi wounded who had been evacuated from a clearly marked hospital bus," and "it was not known how many of the Iraqis survived, if any."

There was similar destruction elsewhere. In a report to the UN Security Council following the withdrawal of US ground forces in 1991, then-Secretary General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar wrote that nothing his team "had seen or read quite prepared us for the particular form of devastation which has now befallen the country."

The recent conflict has wrought near-apocalyptic results upon the economic infrastructure of what had been, until January 1991, a rather highly urbanized and mechanized society. Now, most means of modern life support have been destroyed or rendered tenuous. Iraq has, for some time to come, been relegated to a pre-industrial age, but with all the disadvantages of post-industrial dependency on [modern technology].

Iraq would never fully recover, in large part due to crippling sanctions imposed by the UN at the request of the US and British.

For the first five years after the 1991 conflict ended, Iraq was barred from exporting oil - its lifeblood - and couldn't import food or life-saving medicines.

In 1995, The New York Times reported that "as many as 576,000 Iraqi children may have died since the end of the Persian Gulf war because of economic sanctions imposed by the Security Council, according to two scientists who surveyed the country for the Food and Agriculture Organization."

Researchers found that mortality rates for children under five had tripled during the war and its immediate aftermath. By [1995], the rate had increased fivefold.

Deaths related to diarrheal diseases have tripled in an increasingly unhealthy environment... Water and sanitation systems have deteriorated, hospitals are functioning at 40 percent of capacity, food prices are high and many people are living on Government rations that provide only 1,000 calories a day.

report by a coalition of human rights groups concluded, "Civilian suffering in Iraq is not an unexpected collateral effect, but a predictable result of the sanctions policy." In 1996, 60 Minutes host Leslie Stahl asked then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, "We have heard that a half-million children have died. That's more children than died in Hiroshima. Is the price worth it?" Albright responded, "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it."

And then there was the bombing. Lots of bombing. John Pilger reported for The Independent that "there is bombing almost every day: it is the longest Anglo-American aerial campaign since the Second World War; yet it is mostly ignored by the British and American media."

Jailbreaking Legalized

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You Can Now Unlock Your Cell Phone Without Breaking the Law

jailbreakphone.jpgGood news, closet criminals: Unlocking your cell phone is about to be perfectly legal. The notoriously mercurial Congress passed a bill Wednesday that overrides a portion of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act forbidding the practice, and President Obama has said that he looks forward to signing off on it. Unlocking phones had been perfectly legal until 2012, when Congress refused to extend a provision allowing it.
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Good news in the copyright world is rare, but we have a couple of small victories to celebrate this week. The bad news: They only emphasize how grossly unbalanced our system remains.

These wins for customer freedom center around a technology broadly known as DRM, which stands for Digital Rights Management -- methods used by hardware and software companies to allow customers only certain rights. It should more properly be called Digital Restrictions Management, because that's the real aim of DRM. People have found ways to break or work around DRM, but federal law makes it illegal to do so in most circumstances.

The cracks in DRM's legal facade are starting to grow, too. On Monday, the Copyright Office and librarian of Congress said, among other things, that it's OK to A) "jailbreak" your phone, thereby letting you install software not approved by the phone seller; and B) use brief excerpts of DVD videos in other works. Renewing a previously granted exception to federal copyright law, the office also said it was OK to unlock your phone so that you can use it with a different mobile network.

The exceptions are still fairly narrow, to be sure, and how widely they'll be used remains to be seen given the way our mobile phone and media markets work in the real world. But they're notable in several ways.

One is the language the Librarian of Congress, James Billington, used in his rulemaking document (1.5MB PDF). For example, he called the act of jailbreaking a phone "innocuous at worst and beneficial at best."

Industry arguments against these exceptions, for which the Electronic Frontier Foundation had led the fight, had been laugh-out-loud ridiculous. Apple, you'll be unsurprised to hear, took the hardest-line stance against the concept that customers should have the right to use the devices they've purchased as they see fit.

Apple's objections ultimately came down to its insistence that customer freedoms would "undercut the overall iPhone experience" (emphasis from the original document filed in the case). In other words, you should only be able to use the iPhone, which is nothing more than a handheld computer connected to digital networks -- albeit a wonderfully designed device -- in precisely the ways Apple determines.

Having lost in the Copyright Office, Apple responded with typical arrogance, telling the Cult of Mac blog that it might now be legal to use your iPhone the way you want to, but you'll void the warranty if you do. And you can expect Apple to keep up its cat-and-mouse game of using software updates to screw up jailbroken phones, as the iPhone Dev-Team -- leaders of the jailbreaking movement -- are warning.

The continued ability to unlock your phone and use it on a competing network isn't much help, because of the insanity of America's competing mobile standards. Even if you unlock a newer iPhone, you can't use it to its maximum capabilities on Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile because of various radio and chip incompatibilites.

But if you travel overseas frequently, unlocking your GSM-based AT&T or T-Mobile phone will be nontrivial (assuming it isn't already unlocked, as mine is). You can use local SIM cards in many countries and save a huge amount of money.

The other important move by the Copyright Office was to allow people to remix videos in other works. Essentially, the copyright officials observed that it was ridiculous to believe that we're all but forbidden from quoting from others' creative work just because it's in a DRM'd video format.

Unfortunately, this exception is way too narrow in the real world. It allows circumvention of the DRM solely for:

(i) Educational uses by college and university professors and by college and university film and media studies students;

(ii) Documentary filmmaking;

(iii) Noncommercial videos.

In other words, it's still not allowed to quote from another video work for commercial use (other than in a documentary). This is nuts. If authors had to get permission from every writer or publisher whose work they intended to quote, scholarship and journalism would grind to a halt.

The copyright office's exemptions also included the right to bypass computer system dongles that are broken or obsolete; a research exception for studying video game security; and read-aloud functions in e-books if not provided by the publisher.

Again, we shouldn't overstate the value of Monday's ruling. The law remains horribly unbalanced in favor of the copyright holders. But any progress is helpful.

I've always contended that conservatives are a fearful bunch who instinctively are existential paranoids who find comfort in predictability, law and order, permanence and fixed rules. Here's some science to back that up:

Scientists Discover the Fascinating Psychological Reason Why Conservatives Are...Conservative

You could be forgiven for not having browsed yet through the latest issue of the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences. If you care about politics, though, you'll find a punchline therein that is pretty extraordinary.

Behavioral and Brain Sciences employs a rather unique practice called "Open Peer Commentary": An article of major significance is published, a large number of fellow scholars comment on it, and then the original author responds to all of them. The approach has many virtues, one of which being that it lets you see where a community of scholars and thinkers stand with respect to a controversial or provocative scientific idea. And in the latest issue of the journal, this process reveals the following conclusion: A large body of political scientists and political psychologists now concur that liberals and conservatives disagree about politics in part because they are different people at the level of personality, psychology, and even traits like physiology and genetics.

That's a big deal. It challenges everything that we thought we knew about politics--upending the idea that we get our beliefs solely from our upbringing, from our friends and families, from our personal economic interests, and calling into question the notion that in politics, we can really change (most of us, anyway).

The occasion of this revelation is a paper by John Hibbing of the University of Nebraska and his colleagues, arguing that political conservatives have a "negativity bias," meaning that they are physiologically more attuned to negative (threatening, disgusting) stimuli in their environments. (The paper can be read for free here.) In the process, Hibbing et al. marshal a large body of evidence, including their own experiments using eye trackers and other devices to measure the involuntary responses of political partisans to different types of images. One finding? That conservatives respond much more rapidly to threatening and aversive stimuli (for instance, images of "a very large spider on the face of a frightened person, a dazed individual with a bloody face, and an open wound with maggots in it," as one of their papers put it).

In other words, the conservative ideology, and especially one of its major facets--centered on a strong military, tough law enforcement, resistance to immigration, widespread availability of guns--would seem well tailored for an underlying, threat-oriented biology.

The authors go on to speculate that this ultimately reflects an evolutionary imperative. "One possibility," they write, "is that a strong negativity bias was extremely useful in the Pleistocene," when it would have been super-helpful in preventing you from getting killed. (The Pleistocene epoch lasted from roughly 2.5 million years ago until 12,000 years ago.)

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Hibbing and his colleagues make an intriguing argument in their latest paper, but what's truly fascinating is what happened next. Twenty-six different scholars or groups of scholars then got an opportunity to tee off on the paper, firing off a variety of responses. But as Hibbing and colleagues note in their final reply, out of those responses, "22 or 23 accept the general idea" of a conservative negativity bias, and simply add commentary to aid in the process of "modifying it, expanding on it, specifying where it does and does not work," and so on. Only about three scholars or groups of scholars seem to reject the idea entirely.

That's pretty extraordinary, when you think about it. After all, one of the teams of commenters includes New York University social psychologist John Jost, who drew considerable political ire in 2003 when he and his colleagues published a synthesis of existing psychological studies on ideology, suggesting that conservatives are characterized by traits such as a need for certainty and an intolerance of ambiguity. Now, writing in Behavioral and Brain Sciences in response to Hibbing roughly a decade later, Jost and fellow scholars note that




The minimum wage challenge

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Americans have been waiting five years for a pay raise, but obstructionist Republicans don't care. Ed Schultz, Rep. Tim Ryan and CWA President Larry Cohen discuss the need to raise the minimum wage.

The Capital Death Mess

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I don't support death penalties at all for any reason. It's debasing and serves no purpose beyond eye for eye revenge justice, which just increases blindness.

Because there is so little worth saving

The Debt Disaster That Wasn't

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The Fiscal Fizzle
An Imaginary Budget and Debt Crisis

Paul Krugman

For much of the past five years readers of the political and economic news were left in little doubt that budget deficits and rising debt were the most important issue facing America. Serious people constantly issued dire warnings that the United States risked turning into another Greece any day now. President Obama appointed a special, bipartisan commission to propose solutions to the alleged fiscal crisis, and spent much of his first term trying to negotiate a Grand Bargain on the budget with Republicans.

That bargain never happened, because Republicans refused to consider any deal that raised taxes. Nonetheless, debt and deficits have faded from the news. And there's a good reason for that disappearing act: The whole thing turns out to have been a false alarm.

I'm not sure whether most readers realize just how thoroughly the great fiscal panic has fizzled -- and the deficit scolds are, of course, still scolding. They're even trying to spin the latest long-term projections from the Congressional Budget Office -- which are distinctly non-alarming -- as somehow a confirmation of their earlier scare tactics. So this seems like a good time to offer an update on the debt disaster that wasn't.

About those projections: The budget office predicts that this year's federal deficit will be just 2.8 percent of G.D.P., down from 9.8 percent in 2009. It's true that the fact that we're still running a deficit means federal debt in dollar terms continues to grow -- but the economy is growing too, so the budget office expects the crucial ratio of debt to G.D.P. to remain more or less flat for the next decade.

Things are expected to deteriorate after that, mainly because of the impact of an aging population on Medicare and Social Security. But there has been a dramatic slowdown in the growth of health care costs, which used to play a big role in frightening budget scenarios. As a result, despite aging, debt in 2039 -- a quarter-century from now! -- is projected to be no higher, as a percentage of G.D.P., than the debt America had at the end of World War II, or that Britain had for much of the 20th century. Oh, and the budget office now expects interest rates to remain fairly low, not much higher than the economy's rate of growth. This in turn weakens, indeed almost eliminates, the risk of a debt spiral, in which the cost of servicing debt drives debt even higher.

About those projections: The budget office predicts that this year's federal deficit will be just 2.8 percent of G.D.P., down from 9.8 percent in 2009. It's true that the fact that we're still running a deficit means federal debt in dollar terms continues to grow -- but the economy is growing too, so the budget office expects the crucial ratio of debt to G.D.P. to remain more or less flat for the next decade.

Things are expected to deteriorate after that, mainly because of the impact of an aging population on Medicare and Social Security. But there has been a dramatic slowdown in the growth of health care costs, which used to play a big role in frightening budget scenarios. As a result, despite aging, debt in 2039 -- a quarter-century from now! -- is projected to be no higher, as a percentage of G.D.P., than the debt America had at the end of World War II, or that Britain had for much of the 20th century. Oh, and the budget office now expects interest rates to remain fairly low, not much higher than the economy's rate of growth. This in turn weakens, indeed almost eliminates, the risk of a debt spiral, in which the cost of servicing debt drives debt even higher.

Still, rising debt isn't good. So what would it take to avoid any rise in the debt ratio? Surprisingly little. The budget office estimates that stabilizing the ratio of debt to G.D.P. at its current level would require spending cuts and/or tax hikes of 1.2 percent of G.D.P. if we started now, or 1.5 percent of G.D.P. if we waited until 2020. Politically, that would be hard given total Republican opposition to anything a Democratic president might propose, but in economic terms it would be no big deal, and wouldn't require any fundamental change in our major social programs.

In short, the debt apocalypse has been called off.


Taming the Trocar

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Surgeons are required every day to puncture human skin before procedures -- with the risk of damaging what's on the other side. In a fascinating talk, find out how mechanical engineer Nikolai Begg is using physics to update an important medical device, called the trocar, and improve one of the most dangerous moments in many common surgeries.

Miraculous Mycilium

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Science doesn't get any more brilliant or spiritual than this

Back In the Day

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CIA Liked More Than Congress

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Seriously. The CIA gets the same favorability rating as puppies.

Go figure.

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Motor City and the UN

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Running out of water in the motor city

In Detroit, a city that borders the largest source of fresh surface water on the planet, thousands of people are being prevented from getting water from their faucets. Pastor David Alexander Bullock, national spokesman for the Change Agent Consortium, discusses with Melissa Harris-Perry.

Libertarian Argument

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from TruthDig

a day ago

BongBong to cul heath

Libertarians aren't shortsighted. The ideal of Libertarianism is "enlightened self-interest", however it is not the purview of the Federal government to do so. Individuals, organizations, state governments instead... yep.


cul heath to BongBong

I'll accept the "self-interest" part. The fact that libertarians think elevating the self over the context of the group is exactly what is short sighted. There is no individual without the group first. The individual is a secondary and post consequence of the group.

The Federal government is just another parenthetical abstraction of a world and then universal scale entity.

The individual is at the most :"obligated" stage of the parenthetical hierarchy, which is not to say it has no purpose or special function, but rather to say that it is not to its advantage to pretend it is somehow elevated or independent of the rest.

That leads to hubris and the erroneous nonsense of "the celebrated self" that Ayn Rand, et al, spout which is great for high school and early college kids to ponder, but eventually must be cast aside to achieve responsible and cooperative adulthood.

The only people who do not pass through those stages appropriately are the sociopaths who are incapable of expressing mirror cell regulated empathy and the resulting expressions of altruism which allows civilization to occur.
The true radical is not the child who must find the captaincy of her own self by initially killing off her world parents and leave home for the great undertaking,but rather the parent who knows the separation is both inevitable and necessary and loving grants the freedom to allow it in order that she may return as a true individual to re-nourish the group that bore her.
So it goes..


BongBong to cul heath

You actually said: "There is no individual without the group first. The individual is a secondary and post consequence of the group."

I am shocked anyone would believe such a thing. Also, our Constitution is our individual protection against exactly such thinking.

cul heath to BongBong

If you are a libertarian, I am not shocked that you are shocked since your entire premise would be the primacy of the individual over the group. Which, as I mentioned before, is the fundamental error of libertarianism. it denies the context of it's own existence, as though the individual could exist in a vacuum. As though a light bulb filament could do away with it's supporting structure and just illuminate the room on its own.

Explain to us how you came to your individuality without the socializing of the group that raised you, gave you a language, an historical cultural context and cross generational knowledge.

Without the group you would be a largely short lived, relatively defenseless mammal with an intelligence akin to our early ancestors.You would not have a name, kin or even the inkling of any goal beyond immediate satiation of thirst hunger, sex or pain avoidance. Your "self" would be rudimentary as well and likely incapable of abstract self awareness.

What we call an individual human being is a construct that has evolved over hundreds of thousands of years of collective effort...not an automatic product of nature outside of the human social group.

Unless of course you appeal to religious or ideas divine intervention to posit the assumed elevated nature of your self. Then all bets are off and there can be no rational discussion.

P vs NP

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One of the best movies I've seen in my life is called

Traveling Salesman

What would happen if one government learnt how to bypass the world's encryption systems? That's the all-too-timely question asked by Travelling Salesman, a movie that hands the starring role to a mathematical puzzle.

Its title refers to the "travelling salesman problem" -- given a list of cities and the distances between them all, what's the most efficient way that a salesman can visit them all and return home? It's easy to check whether a given answer satisfies the criteria, but finding the best solution without trying every single possibility may be impossible. This puzzle, and others like it, are referred to as P vs NP.

In Travelling Salesman, a quartet of mathematicians solve this problem -- they find a way to shortcut the brute-force process of trying every approach, instantaneously negating the way the world's encryption systems operates. They've been hired to do their work by the United States, but they're confronted with the moral quandary of whether to hand over their research to the government or publish it publicly for the whole world's benefit.

The following is my response to a comment on #13.3

In reply to: some sanity please #13

Hope you were saying that tongue in cheek, because where MJ has been legalized, the black market stuff is flourishing. Legal is taxed and expensive and, according to users, of inferior quality - translation, you can't get as high. Legalizing drugs has been tried in a number of places around the world, including Switzerland where it included Heroin and free needles and it hasn't worked anywhere. The Swiss cancelled the experiment because of increased numbers of users (addicts), higher crime rates (legal and free did not cut down on associated crime), and myriad other problems.

Holland, the country legalization advocates love to cite, has backed way off and limits use to certain areas with a high police presence.

Legalization doesn't solve anything.

In reply to: odc #13.3

Total BS.

per wiki article :

Portugal abolished all criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine.

When it was passed, critics said it would open the country to drug tourists and make the drug problem worse. However, once the results were released from a report called "Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies" by Glenn Greenwald, released by the Cato Institute, came out, the impact of Portugal's new legislation became obvious.

The report found that in the 5 years after drugs were decriminalized, drug use among teens dropped, rates of new HIV infections from sharing dirty needles dropped, and the number of people seeking treatment for addiction more than doubled.

Portugal boasted the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 years of age at 10%.

To put that into perspective, America lifetime marijuana use rate in people over 12 is 39.8%.

Lifetime use of an illegal drug among 7th to 9th graders fell from 14.1% to 10.6%,

drug use in older teens fell, lifetime heroin use in 16-18 year olds fell,

new HIV infections in drug users fell 17%,

deaths related to hard drugs were cut by more than half,

treatment for drug addiction rose, as well as saved money on enforcement while increasing funding for treatment.

Portugal's drug usage rates are now among the lowest in the EU for virtually every substance

My comments:

History has clearly demonstrated that prohibitions on both drugs and alcohol cause huge increases in both organized crime violence because of the profit and street crime users resorting to theft and violence in order to pay the high prices.

Prohibition causes lack of control of drug composition and purity causing overdoses diseases from shared needles, loss of gigantic sums of money on totally failed interdiction and eradication policies and massive incarcerations. It is also a major source of the violence problem causing so many immigrant and refugees to flee for their lives into the US

In total, drug prohibition causes far more social problems than it has ever solved here or anywhere it has ever implemented. Smart countries like Portugal and others have learned that lesson and are benefiting from their change in policy.

Vigilantism is the exactly the wrong answer and would cause as many problems as it might temporarily solve...it would amount to an ever increasing an on-going war because the refugees would keep coming since they have nothing to lose and Americans would start being jailed for murder or assault by their own government.

It would far more effective and far cheaper to simply remove the War on Drugs policies that are the root of the problem.

But hey, that would call out the politicians and bureaucratic agencies who are currently directly or indirectly benefiting from the prohibition of drugs and from the hysteria pitting one American against another. THEY are our enemy, not the poor flooding over our borders that the simple minded think they can stop by shooting them.

American Right Hates Refugees

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UN pushes for 'refugee' status for migrant children at border

Chris Hayes looks at the ongoing crisis on the border with Congressman Joaquin Castro and Leslie Velez.

The Face of Right Wing America

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It ain't purdy...

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Stupid white protestor screaming at immigrant supporter.

The following comment was extracted from an equally brilliant article entitled

July 4th Note to Tea Partiers:
Your Politics Would Baffle the Founding Fathers

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Rose Bounds • a day ago

When I was in school, they wanted us all to learn math; and if we couldn't learn math; we needed to learn English. Seriously, I swear that's all they cared about in public school.

I had some advantages most of the people my age did not have; living in Europe for a year (my dad was in the Air Force) and having parents who focused on teaching us to ask questions. But my real advantage was that history was the first subject I loved.

Of course, I grew up and discovered the "history" I'd been taught was total malarcky top to bottom. The only other thing I cared about as a child was justice. (the universe laughs at me) But as I started reading better commentaries on history and started reading the wording of original documents and letters,

I learned that history and the science of law are perhaps the single two most important subjects we can learn. Education for our children has become almost meaningless because we are failing to properly teach true history or law or ethics, (leaving out also the great cultural impact of all religions for fear of offending colloquial dogmas) nor in any way do we allow the voices of our children to be entered seriously into the public discourse. We keep them in the dark and enforce the idea that their voices make no difference and won't be heard.

We do not show the people of history in honest ways nor in context. We do not discuss the world wide discourse and argument of ideas that has always been throughout the generations and which have led us since before Plato's time to question and experiment with the structures that run societies. We tell our children what "freedom" is but we never allow them to discover it.

Likewise, we create laws entirely out of arbitrary agendas, either forgetting or ignoring that law has always been thought to be a science with discover-able and eternal principles that cannot be compromised by the policies of the few for whatever the moment brings.

This ignorance is so pervasive, it will be difficult indeed to revive a truly free society, because a free society necessarily must also be educated in history and the origins of the principles of law.

On Constitutional Originalism

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Why Scalia is basically a fundamentalist.

Originalism in the courts is controversial, to say the least. Jurisprudence stands on precedent, on the stability of the laws, but originalism is hardly the only way to abide by the Constitution. Setting aside the question of whether it makes good law, it is, generally, lousy history. And it has long since reached well beyond the courts.

Set loose in the culture, and tangled together with fanaticism, originalism looks like history, but it's not; it's historical fundamentalism, which is to history what astrology is to astronomy, what alchemy is to chemistry, what creationism is to evolution.

To Live in a Good Country

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An idea for the 4th of July

Dryden, the Town that Changed the Fracking Game

by Earthjustice

When the oil and gas industry came to the small town of Dryden, New York, population 14,500, with plans to start fracking, things didn't turn out quite how they expected. Scroll down to find out how a group of neighbors turned the tables on a powerful industry -- and changed the fracking game forever.

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The small town of Dryden is located in upstate New York, nestled among farms and rolling hills. Parades down Main Street, picnics at nearby Dryden Lake and the famed annual Dryden Dairy Day -- celebrating community and local farmers -- are all hallmarks of the close-knit town.

Marie McRae has farmed in Dryden for nearly 30 years. She loves her peaceful plot of land. "I tell people that at night, it's so quiet you can almost hear the Milky Way."

In 2007, she was approached by a representative of the oil and gas industry, known as a landman, who wanted to lease her land to drill for gas. She told him no. Over the next year, the landman hounded McRae, approaching her six more times. He told her even if she didn't lease her land, they would still drill. Signing the lease was the only way she could protect her farm, he said. So Marie signed the lease.

She had no idea what would come next. Her lessons and her journey were just beginning.

Deborah and Joanne Cipolla-Dennis are a happily married couple living in Dryden. They had recently moved to town after searching far and wide for a tolerant, rural community where they could build their dream home.

Soon after they had begun construction on their energy-efficient home made with all green materials, they too were approached by the oil and gas industry. The couple refused to sign the lease. Not long after they turned down the industry, they met Marie. Marie shared her story and suggested that they join with her and other neighbors to learn more about the oil and gas industry's plans for their town.

Marie, Joanne and Deborah learned that Dryden was just one of many places being targeted as part of a nationwide oil and gas rush sped along by what was then a little-known technique called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The process involves mixing water and chemicals together and shooting them deep underground to release gas and oil from the bedrock. The process has been linked to air and water contamination, industrial explosions, even earthquakes.

"The more I learned, the more I couldn't believe what I had done by signing the lease. I had to find a way to stop them from coming and ruining our town," McRae said.

"The industry kept saying: 'We have the power; you have none. We are coming. Get out of the way or leave,'" said Joanne Cipolla-Dennis. "At the meetings we were trying to figure out if there was anything we could do. We were like deer in headlights." But word was spreading about a way that towns could fight back. Two lawyers from a nearby town had done some research into New York state law -- and what they found was promising.

"There was a way to help our town, but we had to act quickly."

David and Helen Slottje are a husband and wife team of lawyers who moved from Boston to a neighboring town to Dryden. They learned about fracking and feared that the process would damage their new community. The oil and gas industry had argued that local communities could not regulate industry operations, but after careful research the Slottjes discovered municipalities could use local zoning laws to keep oil and gas industry activity out of communities altogether.

"We couldn't regulate the industry, but we could tell them they couldn't be here at all," said Helen. "It was sort of an 'emperor has no clothes' moment."

The Slottjes explained to Marie and other members of Dryden Resource Awareness Coalition that the first step was to gather signatures on a petition calling for a fracking ban in their town. The petition would show local officials how many people in town were concerned about the process.

"I thought the industry was so powerful and that there was nothing I could do," said McRae. "Then I learned there was something I could do just by talking to my neighbors."

When the petition was delivered and the town board members saw the number of signatures, they knew they had to pay attention. "We had enough signatures to win an election, and that's why our board paid attention to us," said Joanne. The signatures were from all parts of town and from across the political party spectrum



These people are traitor to the American idea.

There's been progress to be sure since the signing of the Civil Rights Act 50 years ago today, but states of the old confederacy have to a one reinstituted voter suppression laws and proving once again you cannot fix stupid.

Alex Wagner is joined by Charles Ogletree and Marc Morial to discuss if the U.S. has really moved forward since the institution of the Civil Rights Act.

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The Tea Party Illusion

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Is the tea party now in the mainstream?
Is the tea party just a fancy name for the Republican Party?
M-Perry explains how the rift between establishment Republicans and the tea party could just be an illusion.


Avoiding Mosquitoes

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All flying hypodermics need to go extinct.

Why Mosquitoes Bite Some People and Not Others

Why are some people so much more attractive to mosquitoes than others? And what can you do about the pesky little bloodsuckers, especially if you don't want to resort to DEET? (DEET, while effective, is also weakly neurotoxic in humans.)

To start, there are some 150 different species of mosquitoes in the United States, and they differ in biting persistence, habits, ability to transmit disease, and even flying ability.

Mosquitoes of the genus Culex are painful and persistent biters and they will gladly fly into your house to bite you. They bite at dusk and after dark, and they can spread West Nile virus. On the upside, however, they are not strong fliers and won't fly long distances from where they hatched. And, they'd prefer to bite a bird than a human. A common Culex species in the U.S. is C. pipiens, the Northern House mosquito.

Then there's the genus Aedes, which includes A. aegypti and A. albopictus, the Asian Tiger mosquito. The former is not a problem in the U.S.; the latter is. Both can transmit Yellow Fever and Dengue Fever. Aedes mosquitoes feed early in the morning as well as at dusk and into the evening. They might also bite you during the day if it's cloudy or if you wander into a shady place. Fortunately, they probably won't enter your house - but they do prefer biting mammals like humans over other animals, and they are very strong fliers.

One other notable genus of mosquitoes are Anopheles mosquitoes. They are the ones responsible for transmitting malaria. In the U.S., that mostly means A. quadrimaculatus, which lives in the central and eastern U.S., as far north as southern Canada.

But if we have Anopheles mosquitoes, then why don't we have malaria? The answer, in part, is due to climate. According to Andrew Githeko, a Kenyan scientist who studies malaria, malaria only occurs in places where the average temperature is above 18C (64.4F). Below that, the mosquito dies before the parasite matures, and this prevents transmission. In Kenya, he discovered malaria already moving into new areas as the climate warmed. Fortunately, malaria is not endemic to the U.S. as it is in Kenya. And if the U.S. lacks a base of humans and mosquitoes carrying the parasite, then that prevents the spread of the disease.

These different genera and species not only differ in the ways listed above; they also differ slightly in what attracts them to hosts they wish to bite. Mosquitoes use carbon dioxide, heat, moisture, scent, and even vision to locate hosts. When they are sniffing us out, they hone in on a large number of chemicals. A 2000 study identified 346 chemicals from human hand odors, of which 277 were potential mosquito attractants.

The most significant chemicals mosquitoes use to locate us and bite us include l-lactic acid, ammonia, carboxylic acids, and octenol, in combination with one another. In experiments, scientists found that adding l-lactic acid to the scent of an unattractive person made them more attractive to Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, and vice versa. Additionally, the presence of carbon dioxide makes A. aegypti mosquitoes more sensitive to human skin odors.

A 1999 study found that malarial mosquitoes were not attracted to fresh human sweat, but found attractive after it was incubated for one or two days. During the two days, bacteria in the sweat multiplied and the pH changed from acidic to alkaline, signifying a decomposition of sweat components into ammonia. The study also notes that malarial mosquitoes flock to the scent of limburger cheese, which resembles human foot odor. Githeko confirms that, indeed, malarial mosquitoes are attracted to chemicals produced by bacteria on one's feet, and they will even bite a pair of smelly socks if you hang them up after wearing them for a few days.

Needleless Insulin Therapy

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FDA Approves Inhalable Form of Insulin

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a long-delayed inhalable diabetes medication to help patients control their blood sugar levels. The FDA cleared MannKind Corp.'s drug Afrezza, a fast-acting form of insulin, for adults with the most common form of diabetes that affects more than 25 million Americans.

Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body either does not make enough insulin to break down the sugar in foods or uses insulin inefficiently. It can lead to blindness, strokes, heart disease or death. In type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, the body does not use insulin properly. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. In those cases, the body does not produce insulin. Afrezza, an insulin powder, comes in a single-use cartridge and is designed to be inhaled at the start of a meal or within 20 minutes of starting.

SCOTUS Dumb

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Lord of the Ring

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Take four minutes from dreary headlines to marvel at the gymnastics of street performer Isaac Hou and the capacity of the human body to thrill and inspire.