Saturday, April 19, 2014

It's All In Your Head

Here's a podcast about neuroscience(?) stuff, relating humans and chimps and how we develop etc - and right about the 7 minute mark, the woman says something about how the hippocampus helps convert short-term memory to long-term memory, and that kinda popped a flashbulb in my brain.

It's a close variation on the Orwell thing about if you control the past you control the future. (paraphrasing) "If you can't remember the past, you can't imagine a future".

I flashed on how propaganda is supposed to work - and it occurs to me that maybe we're seeing that concept playing out.  So, if I can disconnect you from your own history; if i can make you believe the history you were taught is all wrong; and knowing that you'd then be unable to come up with a coherent vision of your future for yourself, it would be pretty easy for me just to hand you a tidy little package of everything I want you to do and to think and to be.  Sometimes I hate my brain.

Anyway, it's an interesting discussion about other things as well.



hat tip = FB friend DR

Walk It Back, Glenn

The Monsters of the Id are breaking loose all over the joint, and even Glenn Beck's more than a little spooked.



At about 12 minutes, Beck gets to the point where he's trying oh so desperately to pull it all back - making the usual theocracy arguments about how god gave us the constitution and we should be worshipping god and not the document god gave us (or whatever that stunningly and stoopidly and in this case conveniently flip-floppy circular crapola's about); anyway, he says he wants to steer us away from armed conflict, and since he's already on about a loving and non-violent god, he throws down the gauntlet, daring us to show him where the bible tells us god sent any prophet to do violence.

Challenge accepted.

1 Samuel 15:
Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord.
2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 
3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy[a] all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”
(the rest of it's a pretty fun read too)

20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel.
21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”

But the people said nothing.

22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 
23 Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 
24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”

Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”

25 Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” 
26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it.
Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.
27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 
28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 
29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.
30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of theLord, which had been torn down. 
31 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” 
32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs[a] of seed. 
33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”
34 “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.
“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.
36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 
37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”
40 Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.

I wonder if there are any other examples of god instigating violence.  I mean, gee willikers, I had to search for almost 85 seconds to find those.

Sometimes, It's just too fucking easy.

Friday, April 18, 2014

PS) re: Welfare Cowboy

And another thing, dang it!

Regarding Cliven Bundy's fight with BLM over paying his rent for use of public land:

Shouldn't there be at least some small voice coming from the Right Radicals about how the evil rotten lazy no-account shiftless moocher Bundy has grown dependent on gubmint handouts, and that by far the best thing that could happen is for us to kick him in the ass and make him stand on his own?  Ya don't hear that coming from "The Right".

And what ya don't hear coming from "The Left" is, "Ah, c'mon, let the guy stay at the federal tit as long as he needs it - and what the hell, let's throw in some food stamps too".

Both sides my ass.

VICE

Doing god's work, the folks at VICE are trying to show us all something that at least has some faint ring of truth to it.



Quick aside:
Isn't it interesting that so many of these Rebel Patriots crow about "both sides" being rotten, but their little militia-ness always seem to be in full flower only when the Dems hold power?

It's never about what they tell you it's about - "they" being Government or Business or Media or Political Activists.

The first corollary is that it's also never about what you think it's about.

All we can do is look at what information we can find - or whatever "they" allow us to see - and then gun it through our filters of experience and reason, trying to assess the probability that what we're observing is true or false or somewhere in between.

A couple of the smartest things I've heard anybody say in a while (Chris Hedges):

"Language is not benign - You have to get people to talk in the language of violence before they commit violence."

--and--

"Violence isn't gonna work.  Violence is a mistake.  The machine wants violence - it justifies further repression."

Also interesting is the view from inside this piece that there's a thread of truth that ties all of us together - the feeling of being alienated, used and abused, and disposable.  The trick now is to remember that most of us really do want the same things - in a broad and general sense - but we do; we want the same things.

Of course, we have to work out the details of how we go about getting what we want, and that's gonna take some serious attention to our absolute #1 Principle; the thing that lies at the very root of American Exceptionalism...compromise.

Figure it out, guys.  The only way you always get everything you want is to shoot everybody who disagrees with you, and that's not just rude, it's counterproductive, which makes it ineffective.  People have been trying to conquer the world in exactly that way for more than 500 centuries, and guess what - the world remains undefeated.

Ya sit down.  Ya have a drink.  Maybe a nosh.  And you work it the fuck out.

God Love The Onion


WASHINGTON—Putting the nation on alert against what it has described as a “highly credible terrorist threat,” the FBI announced today that it has uncovered a plot by members of al-Qaeda to sit back and enjoy themselves while the United States collapses of its own accord.
Multiple intelligence agencies confirmed that the militant Islamist organization and its numerous affiliates intend to carry out a massive, coordinated plan to stand aside and watch America’s increasingly rapid decline, with terrorist operatives across the globe reportedly mobilizing to take it easy, relax, and savor the spectacle as it unfolds.
“We have intercepted electronic communication indicating that al-Qaeda members are actively plotting to stay out of the way while America as we know it gradually crumbles under the weight of its own self-inflicted debt and disrepair,” FBI Deputy Director Mark F. Giuliano told the assembled press corps. “If this plan succeeds, it will leave behind a nation with a completely dysfunctional economy, collapsing infrastructure, and a catastrophic health crisis afflicting millions across the nation. We want to emphasize that this danger is very real.”
“And unfortunately, based on information we have from intelligence assets on the ground, this plot is already well under way,” he added.
A recently declassified CIA report confirmed that all known al-Qaeda-affiliated organizations—from Pakistan to Yemen, and from Somalia to Algeria—have been instructed to kick back and enjoy the show as the United States’ federal government, energy grid, and industrial sector are rendered impotent by internal dissent, decay, and mismanagement. According to statements made by top-level informants and corroborated by leading Western terrorism experts, if seen through to its conclusion, al-Qaeda’s current plot could wreak far more damage than the events of 9/11.
In the past year, money transfers to al-Qaeda cells around the world have reportedly been accompanied by instructions to use the funds to outfit safe houses with the proper equipment to receive American cable news broadcasts and view top U.S. news websites, allowing terrorists to fully relish each detail of the impending demise of the last global superpower.
Additionally, FBI officials made public an internal al-Qaeda video today in which the terrorist organization’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri chillingly exhorts his followers to “take a load off” and “unwind” in the name of jihad, and really cherish the victory over their enemy.
“Praise Allah, for soon every American city shall be plagued with disaster and hardship,” al-Zawahiri said in the video, which includes several minutes of footage of young, masked al-Qaeda militants casually sipping beverages as they thumb through the latest issues of Time andU.S. News And World Report.
“The infidels have brought this pain and destruction upon themselves through their arrogance and callousness. Soon, the United States will watch in horror as its bridges crumble, its desperate citizens suffer in want of medicine and paying employment, and its once vast riches are reduced to naught. The righteous warriors among our ranks must now unite, get comfortable, and look on from afar at the calamity unfolding in the West.”
“We vow that we will not cease sitting around and laughing it up until America is reduced to rubble,” he continued.
Al-Zawahiri, who is seen in the video reclining back in his chair, putting his feet up, and flipping on CNN, later shouts “Allahu Akbar!” when a story is aired about the decade-long trend of stagnant wages among American workers.
The FBI has also warned that numerous al-Qaeda agents may have established sleeper cells for the purpose of “getting a kick out of” the nation’s downfall on American soil. The bureau urged U.S. residents to use caution around schools, hospitals, legislative bodies, prisons, and other decaying institutions whose imminent failure terrorists may wish to observe up close.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, one high-ranking U.S. counterterrorism official has described the present situation as a massive failure of intelligence.
“The warning signs were there all along, but unfortunately we failed to heed them,” said the official, who advised Americans to brace for widespread devastation. “If we’d listened to experts or even our own common sense, we would’ve realized that this plot was being actively orchestrated within our own borders. But we didn’t, and now every one of our citizens and our very way of life is at risk from this threat.”
“Sadly, al-Qaeda has us right where they want us,” the official added, “and at this point, I fear it is too late to do anything about it.”
Responding to the allegations, a spokesperson for al-Qaeda reportedly confirmed the terror group’s plot and praised the American people as martyrs of the highest order.
 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pot Smokers Beware!

Via Reuters:
Young, casual marijuana smokers experience potentially harmful changes to their brains, with the drug altering regions of the mind related to motivation and emotion, researchers found.
The study to be published on Wednesday in the Journal of Neuroscience differs from many other pot-related research projects that are focused on chronic, heavy users of cannabis.
The collaborative effort between Northwestern University's medical school, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School showed a direct correlation between the number of times users smoked and abnormalities in the brain.
"What we're seeing is changes in people who are 18 to 25 in core brain regions that you never, ever want to fool around with," said co-senior study author Dr. Hans Beiter, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University.
In particular, the study identified changes to the nucleus accumbens and the nucleus amygdala, regions of the brain that are key to regulating emotion and motivation, in marijuana users who smoke between one and seven joints a week.
The researchers found changes to the volume, shape and density of those brain regions. But more studies are needed to determine how those changes may have long-term consequences and whether they can be fixed with abstinence, Beiter said.
"Our hypothesis from this early work is that these changes may be an early sign of what later becomes amotivation, where people aren't focused on their goals," he said.
The study, which was funded in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, comes as access to pot is expanding following 2012 votes in Washington state and Colorado to legalize its recreational use. The drug remains illegal under federal law.
Medical pot is allowed in 20 U.S. states.
Pot legalization advocates make the argument that marijuana is safer than alcohol a central part of their campaigns.
Other research has found drinking alcohol alters the brain, Beiter said. But while researchers do not know exactly how the mental rewiring seen in pot users affects their lives, the study shows it physically changes the brain in ways that differ from drinking, he said.
This latest study fits with other research showing marijuana use has significant effects on young people because their brains are still developing, and Beiter said he has become convinced that marijuana should only be used by people under 30 if they need it to manage pain from a terminal illness.
So first, this tiny little study - funded by the 2 most influential anti-drug policy shops in the US Gov't, and which seems not to be particularly well-designed - has somehow managed to reach certain conclusions that confirm and/or reinforce what the current policy happens to be?  Imagine my surprise.

But secondly, the researchers have found that smoking pot has a pronounced effect on your "emotions" and your "motivation".  They spent how much of my money?  To find out that potheads get kinda giggly sometimes - or maybe a little gushy?  And that they're a bit lax about things like deadlines and/or that when some people get stoned, they tend not to do much of anything more strenuous than hittin' speed dial to order a fuckin' pizza?

Sweet screamin' Jesus, you guys - does anybody up there ever fucking wonder why everybody shits on your heads about wasting time and money?  Whose brother-in-law do I have to blow to get a few of those bucks flowin' this direction?

This reads like The Onion.  Tell ya what - why not just ask The Prez what was up with him when he was smokin' that shit?  That way, you find out exactly the same thing, but you save a shitload of tax dollars; and then you could send about 20% of that money to me as a Consultant's Fee, while you crow about how diligent and frugal you are.  Fuck.

Welfare Cowboy

Cliven Bundy is a deadbeat who can either pay us what he owes us for the use of our land, or he can get off our land.  There are no free rides here.  Pay up or get out.


Some truly amazing things:
--The absolute certainty that Bundy's the victim of a ruthless tyrannical government, and not just some dipwad running a scam at the expense of taxpayers - which includes every last one of his "supporters".

--The cool disregard for the lives of the women and children who they expect to die first.

--The simple fact that they're convinced Da Gubmint will kill women and children no matter what.  Because if it happens, then they can crow about how they were right all along.  It's not much of a stretch for me to think they don't just expect it, and they're not just hoping for it; they're doing what it takes to make it happen.

So if you're trying to get people killed because it'll make you look good on TV; how the fuck does that make you the good guys?

These people have no soul and no honor.

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