Wednesday, May 30, 2018

If you break it ... you own it

As followup to "The war ..., the well worn phrase of "if you break it, you own it." applies to the US as the only thing this nation knows how to do is break things ... at enormous cost.

The United States is "incapable of producing any results other than destruction and further fragmentation across staggeringly large parts of the planet," argues Tom Engelhardt, A Nation Unmade by War. Since 1991, the US has been engaged in a misguided and destructive exercise of triumphalism. In this interview, Engelhardt discusses why the US is an empire of chaos.

Mark Karlin: How much money has gone to the US "war on terror" and what has been the impact of this expenditure?

Tom Engelhardt: The best figure I've seen on this comes from the Watson Institute's Costs of War Project at Brown University, and it's a staggering $5.6 trillion, including certain future costs to care for this country's war vets. President Trump himself, with his usual sense of accuracy, has inflated that number even more, regularly speaking of $7 trillion being lost somewhere in our never-ending wars in the Greater Middle East. One of these days, he's going to turn out to be right.

The death of empires always involves the following:
  1. Environmental degradation.
  2. Resource depletion.
  3. Infrastructure collapse.
  4. Corrupt and inept politicians running said empire and ...
  5. Over reliance on military.
Sound familiar?

To get another take on the US Chaos engine, check out Pepe Escobar, you will not be disappointed.

Addendum: Bin Laden has apparently absorbed the Reagan strategy. It is difficult to know whether he really thought that a handful of terrorist acts would hobble the United States or that al Qaeda and the Taliban could defeat the U.S. and its allies in Afghanistan. What he must have anticipated, however, was the predictable U.S. response: to throw money at the Pentagon.

Any questions?

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

“The war ...

George Orwell's take on war becomes ever more prescient as we move further into the 21st century. 

A self inflicted Whack a Mole construct comes to mind here without question. 

Once upon a time, dystopian fiction was left to the novelists: Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Margaret Atwood, Philip K. Dick. And once upon a time, the futuristic dreams of the military were distinctly upbeat. They were of generals leading armies to victory, of air power causing the morale of enemy nations to collapse (with surrender on the menu), of admirals dominating the seven seas with a fleet beyond compare -- 11 aircraft carriers included -- that would awe the rest of the world.

That was then; this is now. These days you’re likely to hear the word “victory” in Washington about as often as “peace.” In fact, according to the Washington Post, the futuristic phrase of the moment at the Pentagon, the one regularly on the lips of “senior officers,” is the dystopian “infinite war.” In translation: almost 17 years after the administration of George W. Bush launched its Global War on Terror and American military conflicts began to spread across the Greater Middle East, Asia, and Africa, no end is in sight. Ever. And that’s not just a passing phrase in the Pentagon’s arsenal of words. As TomDispatch regular Nick Turse makes clear today, as early as 2016, the Pentagon’s fantasists were already producing dystopian scenarios of the first order, bloodcurdling tales of a forever-war-fighting future as an over-muscled replication of the present never-ending war on terror. They were already, that is, beginning to write their own Brave New World (of War), their own 2084, their own The Lieutenant’s Tale, their own Do Drones Dream of Electric Terrorists?; they were, in short, creating stunningly well-funded gravestones for the American (and global) future.

7 trillion & counting...

This graphic just covers the time period of 2015 - 2017 
Read more about The Cost of War Project. Worthwhile to the max IMHO.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Women's right to choose ...

Statist's infomap shows two rather interesting characteristics about nations prohibiting a woman's right to choose. 
  1. Questionable economic status.
  2. Hegemony of religion (catholic/muslim).
And now, right to lifers (evangelical christians) want to prohibit women's right to choose in America circa 2018. Makes sense, right?

Modernity and commonsense won.

The more educated one is, the less need for religion.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Sailing across the sky

Tom Heany's Sailing across the sky, brought to life by Tom and Lara Schuler, is a a gentle and whimsical look at love, life and companionship. Enjoy.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

21T & Counting ...

Tech audits are really important when one does not know how a given system operates as dollars cannot be properly assigned to said system unless one knows how said system operates, a situation yours truly finds absolutely astounding when it comes to the Pentagon and it's amazing ability to not be able to account for 21 trillion dollars, a rather large sum, especially when one calculates the size, weight and volume of the Benjamins that would be required to cover the loss in question, an amount slightly larger than the 2017 20 trillion US debt that will expand to ever greater heights thanks to the 2018 passage of Trump's massive tax cut that will help the rich in ways that truly boggle the mind.

Read the rest of Nation of Change's astounding piece after downloading the IG office's PDF detailing this FUBAR if you dare. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Newspeak 2018

Going beyond the mangled syntax of our beloved POTUS is the administration's push to censor, eliminate and codify words along the lines of Newspeak, the official language of 1984.

34 year later ...

Seen below is a partial list of Newspeak works. 
Addendum: The Trump administration is planning to instate a rule that will bar recipients of federal family planning funding from educating women about abortion options, making referrals to doctors that provide abortions, or providing abortion care. Conservatives have cheered the move as a way for the federal government to partially “defund” Planned Parenthood without requiring an act of Congress.

Any questions about this version of the Memory Hole circa 2018?

Success :)

Not as good as the original but not bad, not bad at all. :)

An Existential Question ... & then some :)

Lesson learned, right? :)

Monday, May 14, 2018

Thank you for sharing ... :)

On Camus, Language & reaching 2600 ...

Reading Camus is a zen process as his writing is spare, direct and disciplined. One is with the arrow when reading his work as his take on reality and life is that of wary positiveness & dry humor that also comes equipped with enormous cost as per his Myth of Sisyphus essay where the never ending process of pushing the rock up the hill is obviously absurd yet remains a worthwhile endeavor when facing the enormity of an existence we will never fully understand. For Camus, the role of the artist is to educate and inform on the human condition no matter what the cost may be, an act fraught with danger and uncertainty when the creative act exposes the inner most feelings of the individual in question creating the art.

For yours truly, language shapes one's view of reality and different languages cause man to view reality keyed to the specifics of that given language. When reading Camus in French, the poetic clarity of his thought process comes through undistilled as translation, no matter how good, is never a 1 to 1 process but rather an approximate mapping of one language into another. When reading about the Sapir -Whorf hypothesis, this relativistic approach to language rings true, especially when the syntax of one language differs drastically from the other, i.e. English to Chinese or interestingly enough, Chinese to Japanese where the pictographic (Mandarin/Kanji) alphabet is largely the same while the spoken language of each country is anything but.

And this ...

On reaching 2600, in conjunction with Camus and language, is a good thing without question. :)

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The ultimate embed

Embeds, you know, whenever you see a video or a gif like the one above, it's called an embed where said media is inserted into a web page via a url or direct placement depending on where the content resides. In terms of subliminal, the image or audio is not detectable, thus putting the person(s) in the path of such an operation at a rather distinct disadvantage depending on the severity of the subliminal action being perpetrated.

BERKELEY, Calif. — Many people have grown accustomed to talking to their smart devices, asking them to read a text, play a song or set an alarm. But someone else might be secretly talking to them, too.

Over the last two years, researchers in China and the United States have begun demonstrating that they can send hidden commands that are undetectable to the human ear to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant. Inside university labs, the researchers have been able to secretly activate the artificial intelligence systems on smartphones and smart speakers, making them dial phone numbers or open websites. In the wrong hands, the technology could be used to unlock doors, wire money or buy stuff online — simply with music playing over the radio.

A group of students from University of California, Berkeley, and Georgetown University showed in 2016 that they could hide commands in white noise played over loudspeakers and through YouTube videos to get smart devices to turn on airplane mode or open a website.

This month, some of those Berkeley researchers published a research paper that went further, saying they could embed commands directly into recordings of music or spoken text. So while a human listener hears someone talking or an orchestra playing, Amazon’s Echo speaker might hear an instruction to add something to your shopping list.

“We wanted to see if we could make it even more stealthy,” said Nicholas Carlini, a fifth-year Ph.D. student in computer security at U.C. Berkeley and one of the paper’s authors.

Reassuring is it not?

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The 3rd Rail issue regarding Israel ... is finally ending

One small but significant benefit regarding Trump's stupid move to back out of the Iran deal is in finally ending the 3rd rail issue of Israel and it's entangled alliance with America.

BREAKING: Donald Trump, spokesperson for US President Benjamin Netanyahu, announces pullout from Iran nuclear deal.

This represents a breakthrough because in defending the deal and making its destruction a political issue, as they promise they will, Democrats will have to take on Israel and the lobby. Yes, they will cover their behind by saying what J Street and Nancy Pelosi do, lots of former Israeli security chiefs were for the deal. But that’s a figleaf. There is a powerful rightwing Israel lobby, and Netanyahu is the leader. These are the same forces that pushed for the Iraq war 16 years ago to such ill effect for the Middle East, and they are sowing destruction once again.

During the Iraq debacle there was a reluctance to call out the Israel lobby for its role. Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer were smeared for stating what Col. Lawrence Wilkerson said was “obvious,” that the war probably wouldn’t have happened without the lobby. To this day the Democratic Party is afraid of that analysis–surely because it could divide the base and endanger campaign fundraising.

But that analysis seems inevitable today because the politics are now so envenomed, and Israel’s influence is so transparent. Netanyahu is one of the most hated figures for the progressive Democratic base, and the hate temperature just went up, a lot. Dylan Williams of J Street puts out Netanyahu’s crazy speech recommending the Iraq War to Congress 16 years ago, and J Street is vowing revenge. “All of those who have sought to undermine the agreement by spreading fear and misinformation about it will bear their share of the culpability,” it writes. Ben Cardin, Bob Menendez and Chuck Schumer better keep their heads down.

Payback's a bitch.

Channeling Rumsfeld :)

Channeling Rumsfeld. :)

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

When fools rush in where angels fear to tread ...

Now lets think about this, Trump, the "leader" of the free world, blows off the detailed findings of the Secretary of Defense, the military and the intel communities regarding the validity of the Iran deal in favor of a really lame PP presentation by the prime minister of Israel containing previously released info from the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) regarding Iran, complete with VHS tapes and a wall of dvds supporting the case that Iran is locked and loaded, ready to incinerate the world at a moment's notice with nukes if we let her do this, without a shred of verifiable proof, something truly foolish as Trump's reckless act raises the specter of a totally avoidable war, something these informed agencies told Trump about prior to him pulling out of the deal.

With this truly excellent move, the US is now allied with Israel and Saudi Arabia against Iran. Nobody else, just us three. The question to ask is, who benefits as Israel and Saudi Arabia really want the US to do the heaving lifting in attacking a country that, like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Yemen, has never posed a threat to the USA. With this in mind, the answer is rather obvious, Israel and Saudi Arabia benefit while the US gets hosed yet again in committing to a disastrous venture along the lines of Nam or W's war with Iraq save for the monies given to the MIC for conducting something as stupid as this but there's a catch.
  1. Boeing had a big sale pending with Iran to sell passenger airliners. Well, that's gone with Airbus getting the benefits. People in AL are going to love that deal.
  2. Oil prices are going up, just in time for summer.
  3. Contrary to the Donald's thought process, the reinstatement of sanctions will make Iran's government more radical not less as we reneged on the deal, not Iran.
  4. Forget working with China or Russia or the world as we cannot be trusted to keep our word on anything regarding foreign relations.
  5. Trump is praying to god that the NK deal doesn't blow up after this "wise" decision regarding Iran. Question, do you really think Jong Un will give up his nukes given what the US did to Libya and Iraq? 
Awesome is it not that our MAGA genius knows everything about everything while us rubes remain clueless and in awe of how this great leader conducts business for the good ole USA.

Adding a touch of farce or used car salesmenship is this ...

Would you buy a used car from this guy?

Sex Ed 101 :)

Hairy palms comes to mind here does it not? :)

Monday, May 07, 2018

An existential threat

BRT has talk often about climate change and the ramifications of same as the threat is an existential one, not to earth but to us rubes living on her. When combined with environmental degradation, resource depletion and over population, the situation is dire to say the least with scientists now openly talking about a runaway GW effect that could introduce a population control mechanism of truly biblical proportions as articulated by James Lovelock over 10 years ago.

The Ant & the Grasshopper, courtesy Aesop, is apt here as America continues to deny the obvious ongoing event of GW being writ ever larger as we move further into the 21st century.

IN a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.   

 “Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”  

“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.”   

Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; “we have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food, and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew:


Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Speed Check

Over 50 years ago, the SR 71, the greatest aircraft ever designed, remains the fastest and highest flying airplane ever made due to the genius of Kelly Johnson and the Lockheed Skunk Works team he headed up for over 40 years. In that time, he designed 40 aircraft on time and under budget, something unheard in the year of our lord 2018.