January 2014 Archives

Sound spies, take note:

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Scientists Created One-way Sound Machine.


by Tia Ghose

The device, called an acoustic circulator, runs counter to the principle that sound waves, and other types of waves, are a two-way street.

The findings, published in Friday's issue of the journal Science, could lead to the sound equivalent of a one-way mirror. With such a device, people can hear someone talking, but they themselves cannot be heard. [The 9 Biggest Unsolved Mysteries in Physics]

Wave nature
All waves -- whether visible light, sound, radio or otherwise -- have a physical property known as time reversal symmetry. What that means is that a wave sent one way can always be sent back.

"If I am able to talk to you, you should be able to talk to me back," said study co-author Andrea Alù, an electrical engineer at the University of Texas at Austin.

For radio waves, researchers figured out how to break this rule using magnetic materials that set electrons spinning in one direction. The resulting radio waves detect the difference in the material in one direction versus the other, preventing reverse transmission. As a result, transmission towers can broadcast the top-40 hits without having the radio waves bounce back.

One-way sound
But researchers hadn't figured out how to complete the trick for other types of waves.

To accomplish the feat with sound waves, which are pressure oscillations in the air, the team created a cavity loaded with tiny CPU (central processing unit) fans that spin the air with a specific velocity. As sound waves go through the cavity, they are routed through one of three pipes (think of a sea star with the cavity in the center and each of the pipes is one of the sea star's appendages), each of which has a microphone at the end.

The air is spinning in one direction, so the flow of air "feels" different to the wave in one direction versus the other, preventing backward transmission. As a result, sound waves can go in, but they can't go the other way. The result is one-directional sound.

So, for instance, the listener at the end of the first pipe may send a sound signal to the second pipe, but the first pipe can't hear sound from the second. The second pipe may be able to send a signal to the third pipe, but not receive one.

Many applications
The new technique could be used to create the sound equivalent of one-way glass. There are some obviously stealthy ways to use the method, such as in spying devices.

"I can listen to you, but you cannot detect me back, you cannot hear my presence," Alù told LiveScience.

But the principle could also potentially be used to create one-way light waves.

The findings will likely lead to many useful applications, said Sebastien Guenneau, a metamaterials researcher at the Institut Fresnel in France, who was not involved in the study

"I would be surprised if sound industries do not pick up this idea," Guenneau told LiveScience. "This could have great applications in sound insulation of motorways, music studios, submarines and airplanes."

Rendering the World

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We can never know the world directly, all of our reality is a construct inferred from manipulated sensorial data.

Example: color

Money Balling Crime

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When she became the attorney general of New Jersey in 2007, Anne Milgram quickly discovered a few startling facts: not only did her team not really know who they were putting in jail, but they had no way of understanding if their decisions were actually making the public safer. And so began her ongoing, inspirational quest to bring data analytics and statistical analysis to the US criminal justice system.

A Brief History of the Condom

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I've always been a student of history but I didn't know this.

In 1272, the Arabic Muslims invented the condom, using a goat's lower intestine.

In 1873, the British refined the idea by taking the intestine out of the goat first.

Walking the Walk

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Money where the mouth is stuff is always great to see.

Seattle's Socialist councilwoman to accept less than half of $117K salary


By Jeff Black

Seattle's only Socialist City Council member announced Monday that she will make good on a campaign pledge and accept only $40,000 a year in salary -- bringing her down to the average wage of a worker in the city.

The remainder of the roughly $117,000 salary will go to social justice causes such as strike funds, civil rights and women's rights, she said in a statement.

"Every Councilmember faces a choice of who they represent and which world they inhabit," said Kshama Sawant, who took office earlier this month. "My place is with working people and their struggles. I want to give a voice to workers, trade union members, women, and immigrants. As a Councilmember, I re-commit to a fundamentally different political outlook. In line with the principles of the political party I represent, Socialist Alternative, I pledged to stay accountable to working people by taking only average workers' wage."

She added:

"Seattle City Councilmembers receive over $117,000 a year -- the second highest of any city council in the country. Inevitably, such a salary removes Councilmembers from the realities of life for working people. I will only take home $40,000 per year. This amount is roughly the full-time take-home pay of a Seattleite.

"After paying taxes, the remainder of my salary will go to a Solidarity Fund to help build social justice movements. Throughout the year I will be making donations from this Solidarity Fund to causes such as workers' strike funds, and environmental, civil rights, and women's rights campaigns."

Sawant was the first Socialist to be elected in Seattle in about 100 years, City Council staff told The Associated Press.

She was elected last November largely on income equality issues -- a $15/hour minimum wage, affordable housing as well as higher taxes on the wealthy. Her opponent, Richard Conlin, was a 16-year-member of the council and backed by the political establishment.

Sawant was not immediately available for comment.

Local Rappers I Like

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There's something about southern rap I really like.
Here's a sample of a new video I got to act as the old cop in:

Polices Sweating My Shit

by 6tr3ry ft M500

For more of their videos go to : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTgTWTSjdJM

Economic Definitions

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N is for Neo-Serfdom, O for Offshore Banking

By Michael Hudson

This piece first appeared at Michael Hudson's website. See the rest of the Insider's Economic Dictionary here.

Neoclassical economics: The school that arose in the last quarter of the 19th century, stripping away the classical concept of economic rent as unearned income. By the late 20th century the term "neoclassical" had come to connote a deductive body of free-trade theory using circular reasoning by tautology, excluding discussion of property, debt and the financial sector's role in general, taking the existing institutional environment for granted. (See Marginalism and Parallel Universe, and contrast with Structural Problem and Systems Analysis.)

Neoconservatives: Ideologues who oppose government authority and taxation of wealth, except where governments are controlled by the financial and property sectors. Neoconservatives view democratic governments that impose progressive income taxes to finance public infrastructure and other economic welfare as being as reprehensible as the pre-democratic regimes criticized by Adam Smith and other early liberals protesting against governments controlled by autocratic monarchs spending tax revenue largely on the wars and colonial ventures. Neoconservatives in fact tend to support wars to enforce the Washington Consensus throughout the world.

Neoliberalism: The philosophy that public ownership and regulation is inherently less efficient than management by financial operators. The policy conclusion is that the public domain and government enterprises should be privatized and the sales proceeds used to roll back taxes on the highest wealth and income brackets. Unlike the liberalism of Adam Smith and subsequent free-trade economists, neoliberalism endorses an intrusive role of government to protect property and financial fortunes without regard to long-term tendency for the exponential growth of debt to exceed and indeed undercut the economy's ability to pay. (See Internal Contradiction, Junk Science, Neoconservatives and Social Market.)

Neo-serfdom: The removal of choice from peoples' lives as interest and rent charges reduce their discretionary income. This expanding rentier overhead is not part of the mode of production, but rather the mode of finance, wealth and economic power. (See Serfdom.)

Nobel Economics Prize: In 1972 the Swedish Bank endowed the Nobel Prize for Economic Science and awarded it to the neoclassical economist Paul Samuelson. The term "economic science" is misleading. In contrast to the natural sciences, it is not evaluated in terms of how realistic its assumptions are, but merely how logically consistent they are, much as one might criticize a work of literature or science fiction. Given mainly to free-market economists of the Chicago School, the award has helped legitimize anti-government economic ideology. (See Learned Ignorance.)

Offshore banking centers: An innovation by the oil industry creating "flags of convenience" to avoid North American and European taxes. The first such tax havens were established in countries such as Liberia or Panama, which used U.S. dollars rather than currencies of their own. The typical ploy was to assign transfer prices for oil at levels that enabled the head office to take its worldwide profits wherever tax rates were lowest. An oil-tanker affiliate registered in one of these havens would buy crude oil cheaply from its parent company's branch in an oil-producing country, and then sell it to refineries in Europe or North America at a price so high as to leave no profit to be declared.

By the 1960s such havens were proliferating throughout the Caribbean and the South Pacific. The United States set out to improve its balance of payments by replacing Switzerland as the major tax and money-laundering haven for financial and commercial flight capital, as well as for criminals of all stripes, including heads of state and other government officials in client oligarchies.

Oligarchy: Rule by the few, usually the rich, and hence an economically polarized society. The term recently has been applied to the Russia's "free market" kleptocrats who obtained Russia's raw-materials resources and other assets under Pres. Yeltsin in 1996 through insider trading. The term has been extended to Latin America and other economies that polarize as wealth concentrates in the financial class at the top of the pyramid. (See Client Oligarchy.)

Optimum: In economic model-building, a position from which one cannot move to improve his or her situation. Most people think of "optimum" as representing an ideal situation. But an Abu Ghraib inmate suspended by his hands over a box with electrodes that will shock him if he moves is said to be in an optimum position, in the sense that any move would only make things worse. An optimum position thus may mean merely the least bad of a basically dysfunctional set of choices. Optimization models rarely recognize policies "outside the box" to create a better set of choices on a society-wide level. In most economies, for instance, freedom of choice for the poor is limited to paying for necessities, often going into debt in the process (see Neo-serfdom). This optimization choice by the poor helps keep them perpetually available for service at the cheapest and most "optimum" rate for employers dependent on minimum-wage labor.

"Other peoples' money": A euphemism for bank credit created electronically (formerly "paper credit").

Over-depreciation: Over-depreciation is a tax credit based on the pretense that buildings lose their value despite the landlord's outlays on maintenance and repairs, and despite the inflation of property prices. Buildings are allowed to be depreciated over and over again for tax purposes each time they are sold, based on a false analogy with industrial machinery. Landlords (but not homeowners) are permitted to recapture that portion of their original outlay representing buildings or other capital improvements as if their value is being used up in production or becoming obsolete. The depreciation rate is set so high as to offset all the rental income that otherwise would be reported (and taxed) as profit. This accounting ploy enables real-estate investors to take their rental income in a tax-exempt manner.

In principle, over-depreciation is supposed to be reported upon sale as retroactive income earned. But in practice it often is reported as a capital gain, which is taxed at a lower rate than is earned income.

Overhead: That part of national income which is not necessary for the production and consumption processes as such. This category includes economic rent, interest and watered costs, as well as government waste (variously defined).

"Ownership society": The term coined by the Bush administration for government policies aimed at increasing the power of property relative to wage and salary income. The idea is to expand credit exponentially to inflate prices for stocks, bonds and real estate, requiring a rising number of years for income earners to pay for homes and for retirement income. Corporate profits are increased by shifting away from defined benefit pensions to "defined contribution" plans at which the risk is shifted onto employees.

The political intent is to make employees feel that even though their paychecks are being squeezed, they will gain as stockholders and home owners. The hope is that people will overlook the disproportionate share of assets owned by the top 3% and 10% of the population. ("Sorry you lost your job. We hope you made a killing on your home, so that you can refinance your mortgage or take out an equity loan to keep up your consumption spending.")

Instead of an ownership society, we are evolving into a society of mortgage debtors, corporate debtors and government debtors. And as far as the supposed savings ("financial ownership") are concerned, John C. Bogle has observed that instead of the economy being dominated by individual investors , it is being financialized into "an intermediation society dominated by professional money managers and corporations." This trend "has not been accompanied by the development of an ethical, regulatory and legal environment ... The ownership society is over. The agency (or intermediation) society is not working as it should."

Michael Hudson is Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City and president of The Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends (ISLET).

The Voting Commission Report

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'The frequency of vote fraud is miniscule'

Lawrence O'Donnell looks at the new report on elections in America and how it shows that Republicans are wrong about voter fraud and voter ID laws.

Sugar as addictive as cocaine

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Dead Men Tell No Lies

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Ailes is the screw up

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Last Gasp of American Democracy

C Hedges

This is our last gasp as a democracy. The state's wholesale intrusion into our lives and obliteration of privacy are now facts. And the challenge to us--one of the final ones, I suspect--is to rise up in outrage and halt this seizure of our rights to liberty and free expression. If we do not do so we will see ourselves become a nation of captives.

The public debates about the government's measures to prevent terrorism, the character assassination of Edward Snowden and his supporters, the assurances by the powerful that no one is abusing the massive collection and storage of our electronic communications miss the point. Any state that has the capacity to monitor all its citizenry, any state that has the ability to snuff out factual public debate through control of information, any state that has the tools to instantly shut down all dissent is totalitarian. Our corporate state may not use this power today. But it will use it if it feels threatened by a population made restive by its corruption, ineptitude and mounting repression. The moment a popular movement arises--and one will arise--that truly confronts our corporate masters, our venal system of total surveillance will be thrust into overdrive.

The most radical evil, as Hannah Arendt pointed out, is the political system that effectively crushes its marginalized and harassed opponents and, through fear and the obliteration of privacy, incapacitates everyone else. Our system of mass surveillance is the machine by which this radical evil will be activated. If we do not immediately dismantle the security and surveillance apparatus, there will be no investigative journalism or judicial oversight to address abuse of power. There will be no organized dissent. There will be no independent thought. Criticisms, however tepid, will be treated as acts of subversion. And the security apparatus will blanket the body politic like black mold until even the banal and ridiculous become concerns of national security.

I saw evil of this kind as a reporter in the Stasi state of East Germany. I was followed by men, invariably with crew cuts and wearing leather jackets, whom I presumed to be agents of the Stasi--the Ministry for State Security, which the ruling Communist Party described as the "shield and sword" of the nation. People I interviewed were visited by Stasi agents soon after I left their homes. My phone was bugged. Some of those I worked with were pressured to become informants. Fear hung like icicles over every conversation.

The Stasi did not set up massive death camps and gulags. It did not have to. The Stasi, with a network of as many as 2 million informants in a country of 17 million, was everywhere. There were 102,000 secret police officers employed full time to monitor the population--one for every 166 East Germans. The Nazis broke bones; the Stasi broke souls. The East German government pioneered the psychological deconstruction that torturers and interrogators in America's black sites, and within our prison system, have honed to a gruesome perfection.

The goal of wholesale surveillance, as Arendt wrote in "The Origins of Totalitarianism," is not, in the end, to discover crimes, "but to be on hand when the government decides to arrest a certain category of the population." And because Americans' emails, phone conversations, Web searches and geographical movements are recorded and stored in perpetuity in government databases, there will be more than enough "evidence" to seize us should the state deem it necessary. This information waits like a deadly virus inside government vaults to be turned against us. It does not matter how trivial or innocent that information is. In totalitarian states, justice, like truth, is irrelevant.

The object of efficient totalitarian states, as George Orwell understood, is to create a climate in which people do not think of rebelling, a climate in which government killing and torture are used against only a handful of unmanageable renegades. The totalitarian state achieves this control, Arendt wrote, by systematically crushing human spontaneity, and by extension human freedom. It ceaselessly peddles fear to keep a population traumatized and immobilized. It turns the courts, along with legislative bodies, into mechanisms to legalize the crimes of state.

The corporate state, in our case, has used the law to quietly abolish the Fourth and Fifth amendments of the Constitution, which were established to protect us from unwarranted intrusion by the government into our private lives. The loss of judicial and political representation and protection, part of the corporate coup d'état, means that we have no voice and no legal protection from the abuses of power. The recent ruling supporting the National Security Agency's spying, handed down by U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III, is part of a very long and shameful list of judicial decisions that have repeatedly sacrificed our most cherished constitutional rights on the altar of national security since the attacks of 9/11. The courts and legislative bodies of the corporate state now routinely invert our most basic rights to justify corporate pillage and repression. They declare that massive and secret campaign donations--a form of legalized bribery--are protected speech under the First Amendment. They define corporate lobbying--under which corporations lavish funds on elected officials and write our legislation--as the people's right to petition the government. And we can, according to new laws and legislation, be tortured or assassinated or locked up indefinitely by the military, be denied due process and be spied upon without warrants. Obsequious courtiers posing as journalists dutifully sanctify state power and amplify its falsehoods--MSNBC does this as slavishly as Fox News--while also filling our heads with the inanity of celebrity gossip and trivia. Our culture wars, which allow politicians and pundits to hyperventilate over nonsubstantive issues, mask a political system that has ceased to function. History, art, philosophy, intellectual inquiry, our past social and individual struggles for justice, the very world of ideas and culture, along with an understanding of what it means to live and participate in a functioning democracy, are thrust into black holes of forgetfulness.

The political philosopher Sheldon Wolin, in his essential book "Democracy Incorporated," calls our system of corporate governance "inverted totalitarianism," which represents "the political coming of age of corporate power and the political demobilization of the citizenry." It differs from classical forms of totalitarianism, which revolve around a demagogue or charismatic leader; it finds its expression in the anonymity of the corporate state. The corporate forces behind inverted totalitarianism do not, as classical totalitarian movements do, replace decaying structures with new structures. They instead purport to honor electoral politics, freedom of expression and the press, the right to privacy and the guarantees of law. But they so corrupt and manipulate electoral politics, the courts, the press and the essential levers of power as to make genuine democratic participation by the masses impossible. The U.S. Constitution has not been rewritten, but steadily emasculated through radical judicial and legislative interpretation. We have been left with a fictitious shell of democracy and a totalitarian core. And the anchor of this corporate totalitarianism is the unchecked power of our systems of internal security.

Our corporate totalitarian rulers deceive themselves as often as they deceive the public. Politics, for them, is little more than public relations. Lies are told not to achieve any discernable goal of public policy, but to protect the image of the state and its rulers. These lies have become a grotesque form of patriotism. The state's ability through comprehensive surveillance to prevent outside inquiry into the exercise of power engenders a terrifying intellectual and moral sclerosis within the ruling elite. Absurd notions such as implanting "democracy" in Baghdad by force in order to spread it across the region or the idea that we can terrorize radical Islam across the Middle East into submission are no longer checked by reality, experience or factually based debate. Data and facts that do not fit into the whimsical theories of our political elites, generals and intelligence chiefs are ignored and hidden from public view. The ability of the citizenry to take self-corrective measures is effectively stymied. And in the end, as in all totalitarian systems, the citizens become the victims of government folly, monstrous lies, rampant corruption and state terror.

The Romanian poet Paul Celan captured the slow ingestion of an ideological poison--in his case fascism--in his poem "Death Fugue":

"Black milk of dawn we drink it at dusk we drink it at noon and at daybreak we drink it at night we drink it and drink it we are digging a grave in the air there's room for us all"

We, like those in all emergent totalitarian states, have been mentally damaged by a carefully orchestrated historical amnesia, a state-induced stupidity. We increasingly do not remember what it means to be free. And because we do not remember, we do not react with appropriate ferocity when it is revealed that our freedom has been taken from us. The structures of the corporate state must be torn down. Its security apparatus must be destroyed. And those who defend corporate totalitarianism, including the leaders of the two major political parties, fatuous academics, pundits and a bankrupt press, must be driven from the temples of power. Mass street protests and prolonged civil disobedience are our only hope. A failure to rise up--which is what the corporate state is counting upon--will see us enslaved.

Of course you are.

Per Daily KOS:

Teachers' hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work nine or ten months a year! It's time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do -- babysit!

We can get that for less than minimum wage.

That's right. Let's give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and planning -- that equals 6-1/2 hours).

So each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day...maybe 30? So that's $19.50 x 30 = $585 a day.

However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations.


That's $585 X 180= $105,300 per year. (Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries).

What about those special education teachers and the ones with Master's degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6-1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year.

Wait a minute -- there's something wrong here! There sure is!

The average teacher's salary (nationwide) is $50,000.

$50,000/180 days = $277.77 per day / 30 students = $9.25 / 6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student -- a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!)


Make a teacher smile; repost this to show appreciation for all educators.

Meredith Menden

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