09.21.11

Not like on TV

Posted in Cancer, Culture of Lickspittle at 8:19 am by George Smith

Here’s another downer post. So maybe you ought to skip it if you’re only into Norman Vincent Peale’s world. (Which uncovers the question, “Why are you here, anyway?”)

Commercials for American corporate “innovation” in the field of heath become personally antagonizing when you get an immediately life-threatening diagnosis. (Not mine.)

A close friend of DD’s has been handed a bad slate. Even with a good health plan it’s been a tough haul getting through the discovery and diagnosis period.

It contrasts starkly with the idiot commercials, now running on primetime, about tech breakthroughs in healthcare, commercials made to make viewers feel happy about American corporations adding good things to life.

The most odious is General Electric’s “healthimagination” spot with the little girl musing about her unusual mother with wiggly toes and dancing fingers, a fun lady who will only eat her eggs with hot sauce. The final bit of it is that GE has produced some technology that will customize and help make a unique cellular-level diagnosis of whatever cancer she may face.

As anyone who has had to recently go into an up-to-date oncology center in Pasadena/southern California, this is pretty much revealed as total shit.

There’s no revolution going on, no magic devices. There is lots of imaging technology. While powerful, it tells you only certain things, never enough. There’s no techno-magic personalization, there is no particular swiftness of diagnosis, no impressive victories which have been won against cancer because of it. They are tools, part of a blindingly complicated process. And while there have been some victories in the fight against cancer in my last three decades, they have not been strategic wins.

Another commercial, by AT&T, would be laugh out loud hilarious were it not for painful personal framing.

This is the one were the friendly voice informs that your medical information and history will follow you on your smart phone, through the smart network, a place where even that which is imagined impossible becomes possible.

I have news for the gullible or for any people who made the commercial or AT&T’s smart network brains. When and if they get cancer they’ll perhaps notice there is no obviously “smart network,” that one fills out a lot of old-fashioned paper, repeated over and over, for a variety of health agencies and physicians and that coordination is often slow, inexact and fraught with frustration.

It will be part of the challenge, as the seriously ill person, to help guarantee everyone is on the same page. And it must be done the old-fashioned way, speaking face to face on numerous trips to the hospital or out-patient treatment and diagnosis center, or on the telephone.

Smart network! One might just as well have made a commercial showing little fairies, borne on fluttering pink wings, flying your medical information to the team of physicians and consults.

Americans have always been acutely vulnerable to this manner of sappy thinking.

Indeed, an entire news industry has grown up to cater to it, one in which journalists in health and technology sections scan press releases in order to write stories trumpeting what are thought to be the latest milestones and revolutions in health care.

Read them regularly and if, through unfortunate circumstance you actually become seriously ill, you immediately discover how they depart from reality.

Not to put to fine a point on it, my Dad died of cancer on Grand Bahama Island many years ago chasing delusion manufactured in a similar way.

Having been given a terminal diagnosis for bladder cancer, the family was desperate.

60 Minutes had aired a story on a miraculous cancer doctor in Freeport, Grand Bahama, a man supposedly suppressed in the United States for his revolutionary treatments.

His name was Lawrence Burton and he had developed something that sounded very impressive — Immuno-Augmentive Therapy.

60 Minutes furnished tremendous publicity, giving the cancer treatment a solid patina from authority.

And it all ended very badly, Burton and his therapy going down in history as a notorious case of quack medicine.

Medicine does not advance, cancer does not yield, because the sales imagery appears triumphant.

09.20.11

Bezos Slave Labor Sweat Shop

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall at 1:17 pm by George Smith

Help make Jeff Bezos the richest man in the world. Work at an Amazon warehouse sweatshop in the scenic Pennsy Dutch Lehigh Valley. Enjoy the amenities of getting computerized e-mail notifications of temperature being so hot in the building you’ll suffer from heat exhaustion. Because Amazon cares so much, ambulances from a local company are kept onsite to take you to the hospital.

Don’t worry. While you’re being written up for missing work another temporary worker is being groomed.

One inspirational story from the house Bezos built:

One temporary employee who spent several months unloading boxes of books in the Amazon warehouse said: “Everybody gets backaches, but if you slow down, they reprimand you. They’re killing people mentally and physically. They just push, push, push.”

During one shift he hurt himself. After seeing a doctor, the worker went on “light duty.” The staffing firm didn’t have any such assignments available. So every scheduled work day he reported to the ISS office on Tilghman Street.

“You’re not allowed to walk around,” he said. “They put a chair in the corner and you sit there.”

His job was to count the number of people coming into the office. Another person he observed on light duty had to count how many trains passed by outside the office window.

Beatings will continues until morale improves.


Not by coincidence this is a “beggar they neighbor” corporate economic strategy, one which feeds off the atrocious job market by taking advantage of the desperation of laborers. The laborers, who will take ever decreasing compensation in relationship to work performed, make the goods cheaper but profits to those who already have the most, soar.

09.17.11

Very bad luck

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:30 am by George Smith

A close friend has received some very bad health news. Weekend posting will slow for obvious reasons.

09.15.11

Guitarring — loud, digital, not bad

Posted in Made in China, Rock 'n' Roll at 4:15 pm by George Smith

Back on Made-In-China Day at Guitar Center, DD’s colleague — a drummer who does not play guitar dropped an eye-popping 900 bucks for a Roland KC-550 keyboard amp and a Chinese-manufactured Classic Vibe Fender Telecaster.

He’d been sold on the guitar by a friend, and despite my advice, bought the Roland as an all-purpose amp. Not understanding guitars, the salesperson didn’t correct him, he bought an amp unsuitable for rock guitar.

However, the KC-550 is a powerful amp with absolutely no tonal opinion, much like having a small PA system run off a mixing desk.

So I told him I’d fix the mistake by bringing in some outboard gear I no longer use, namely an old Line6 PodXT, a digital guitar computer/simulator that mimics famous brand name analog amplifiers for studio work.

In a pinch, the desk model will work fine for live performance.

Plugged into one of the KC-550’s channels, one sets the POD exactly as you would for the studio.

I picked a couple of its amp sims, an old Marshall JTM-45 and a Hiwatt 100, for a test run.

Plugged in the Telecaster and did a quick 30 minute rehearsal of DD tunes with him at the drums.

The combination was loud, had good rock and roll dynamic explosion, and, courtesy of the Roland’s huge bass speaker, great low end.

I know loud.

My rig is the same as it was in 1985. A Hiwatt Custom 50 and some pedals on the front end for delay, chorus, rotary speaker effects and so on.

The Telecaster/Line6 POD XT/Roland KC-550 isn’t the same as my stuff into the old Hiwatt. But it would be close enough for quite a few people at small to medium gigs.

Limitations? Not a lot. The high end coming out of the Roland sounds good. But I could tell it would wear out the ears in a way the Hiwatt with its analog tube tone doesn’t.

And the Roland, which is simply amplifying the computer simulation of a Hiwatt or a Marshall from the Line6, isn’t as molten, as everywhere in the room, or as late-Seventies hammer down vintage hard rock.

These are relatively picky issues from my perspective, often not worth worrying about if what have in your hands translates to noise coming out the a big speaker in a way that makes the air move rock and rollingly.

In its favor, it’s a rig that theoretically will sound the same whenever you turn it on. That’s unlike my Hiwatt and things, which always requires a daily set-up, sometimes brief, sometimes maddeningly longer.

Then there’s the entire made-in-China thing. There I was, playing a Chinese made Fender, the kind they made in a huge factory that no longer exists here, when I was a kid.

I could get started. The USA-made Fender, four to five times the cost
of the “Classic Vibe” from China. The former instruments, of course, sold at prices the young adult employees peddling them cannot really afford on a weekly wage unless still living with mom and dad.

Making Pennsy more ‘tucky

Posted in Extremism, Psychopath & Sociopath at 9:35 am by George Smith

A GOP to rig Pennsylvania for Rick Perry or whoever gets the GOP nomination is described at Poltico here.

It’s mostly about changing the awarding of electoral votes in the state so that winner no longer takes all. With that eliminated, the GOP candidate splits off electoral votes from the state’s interior under common realization that between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh (with the exception of Harrisburg and State College), Pennsyltucky is essentially a white southern red state with no urban centers in voting demographics.

It’s also a tacit endorsement on the use of voter polarization and the idea that an election should be to drive people further apart, to purge the undesirables, rather than unite under one country.

E pluribus unum. F— that shit.

It’s a problem the Democrats and Obama can’t do anything about. The extremists got into power in 2008 because of economic calamity, political weakness and the rage vote. Since then they’ve been using the advantage granted to disenfranchise voters inimical to them.

In Pennsylvania that is a clever plan, essentially one to create an electoral split of the state into two.

Practically speaking, it’s an attempt to use secession to create a 51st state for one day, the election.


On the theocrat, speaking at Liberty State Theocrats College:

Perry, whose grades at Texas A&M were far from sterling, also appeared to push back against those who question the intellect of an animal science major with a transcript peppered with Cs and Ds.

“Managing to balance between being a cadet and being a student, preparing for that life in the military while trying to focus on the variety of subjects that would prepare me for life after the military,” Perry said of his life at Texas A&M. “It wasn’t always easy. Quite frankly, I struggled with it. I fully admit that.”

[Yeah, being a cadet and an undergrad in a Texas university must be so hard. Cramming the football stadium on Saturdays really cuts into the scholastic endeavors. “Feeds and feeding” was one hella touch course, too.]

Jerry Falwell Jr., the chancellor of the school and the son of its famous founder, spoke admiringly of Perry at a press conference with reporters before the event, calling the governor’s flirtation with the idea of secession “gutsy.”

09.14.11

From and On the Cult of Tea Party

Posted in Decline and Fall, Extremism, Psychopath & Sociopath, Ted Nugent at 12:28 pm by George Smith

Ted Nugent, unsurprisingly, on Sept. 11:

We must continue to kill them at every opportunity. Death and war are all they understand. We must give those to them nonstop by unleashing hell upon them at all times … Fund the military and slash the budgets of all other agencies, departments and programs … Americans must commit to this struggle for the long term. It will take years, possibly decades …

Nugent has never fought in a war although he is mighty fond of machine guns. He avoided Viet Nam through deferment and was not, in fact, a draft dodger.

From the LehighValleyConservative’s Tea Party blog:

The progressive professes that they know right from wrong but in fact deny Him that is right. How can this be, the Republicans and the Democrats today have failed to understand the Scriptures …

Recently, from the same place, denouncing the “Heathen:”

I believe separation of Church and State with its doctrine will be placed on center stage in 2012 with the Christians again showing their ignorance of scripture and the Biblical teachings. They will be supporting some Heathen claiming to be a Christian; all the while the so call Christian Voter ignores the Constitution and the essences of Romans 13:1-6 and what the civil magistrate should be doing.

Even more:

The understanding of the Bible and God’s law is imperative if we are to know how to separate church and state, and knowing the true meaning of what a theocracy is. Neither the church nor the state can take away conscience or man’s right to property as given to him by God. All spheres of life are under God and owe their boundaries, as fixed, by Him and His sovereignty; this then becomes a true theocracy under Godly men …

As we drift away from God and His law we see 70 years later, the devastation done to the social fabric, the people and their freedom.

It remains for us to rightly divide the Word if there is going to be a correction and that correction will only come if God has mercy on us if we understand salvation is through Jesus Christ, and not the State …

From the Booman Tribune, a reflection on the Tea Party and the recent debate:

Obama’s response thus far has been to offer compromises to a movement that does not compromise, and to argue facts with a movement that hates facts. Between now and November 2012, however, Obama’s audience isn’t that movement; it’s American voters. In a year when economic distress should doom his reelection chances, Obama’s best shot is to cast the election not as a choice between two competing visions of governance, but as a choice between democracy and theocracy. And a particularly nasty theocracy at that.

He won’t use that framing, of course …

The results were on painful display Monday night’s Tea Party debate. Our task for the next year is to remind Americans at every turn that almost all of us are not pure enough to have any place in the theocratic vision of the United States on display there …

The routine of another regretful Republican, Sarah Reidy, Facebooking:

“I am seriously thinking of logging off of Facebook until November 2012. I am embarrassed by how red meat our Tea Party has become. For years I have tried to prove the GOP isn’t the party of elitist, stereotypical people that lack compassion. When did creativity and growth become secondary to hate? Hearing the debate crowds go crazy over things like executions and the uninsured dying makes me sick and sad …”

“Friends (1212),” her page reads.

The new Whitewater

Posted in Bioterrorism, Decline and Fall, War On Terror at 8:00 am by George Smith

The GOP party has another tool for thoroughly torturing the Obama administration: Solyndra’s bankruptcy.

CNN:

In addition to the philosophical differences with encouraging government funding for private companies, critics say the Department of Energy gave Solyndra favorable treatment in the loan approval process due to its tight relationship with administration officials.

They point out that one of the company’s main financial backers, billionaire George Kaiser, is also a big Democratic campaign donor.

Now the company’s bankruptcy has become a case study on an issue likely to gain increasing attention: Should the government be investing taxpayer dollars in promising — but risky — startup companies?

All of the mainstream media will play dumb. Propping up crappy firms with taxpayer dough! Heresy!

Lots of people will stupidly act like it’s rare, or should be.

They will conveniently ignore that one of the primary functions of the Department of Homeland Security, over the past decade, was to do the same thing. And for most of the time we were under GOP rule.

The taxpayer propped up hundreds, maybe thousands, of small businesses promising technology to fight the war on terror. Most of it either totally flopped or has never paid off in any big way.

For example, the tale of the notorious “puffer machine” from Smiths:

WASHINGTON — A $36 million anti-terrorism program designed to detect bombs on airline passengers by shooting air blasts to dislodge explosive particles is being scuttled because the machines proved unreliable at airports.

The “puffer” machines — glass portals that passengers enter for checkpoint screening — are being removed after the Transportation Security Administration spent $6.2 million on maintenance since 2005. Removing them will cost nearly $1 million, TSA spokeswoman Sterling Payne said.

Problems emerged after the TSA bought 207 puffers for $30 million starting in 2004. Ninety-four were installed in 37 airports. The other 113 machines stayed in storage.

Dirt and humidity in airports led to frequent breakdowns, Payne said. The TSA has removed 60 puffers and will pull the rest but has no deadline. The puffers, costing $160,000 each, attempted to identify bomb residue on clothing. They were used as added screening on passengers who had gone through metal detectors.

Some of the machines had trouble detecting bombs, said Hasbrouck Miller, a vice president of puffer manufacturer Smiths Detection. “It was a torturous four years,” Miller said, describing repair efforts …

Or consider the ten year propping up of Soligenix/DOR Biopharma for a ricin vaccine, still not in the market, a vaccine which virtually nobody needs to use.

One can make the argument the only reason the company hasn’t gone out of business is because of continuous taxpayer funding courtesy of multiple federal agencies.

Throughout the United States this has been the way of things. The anthrax vaccine was regularly tied to crony capitalism.

And dead Jack Murtha’s career was virtually defined by it during the big years of the war on terror. When he died, the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Biosecurity lost its government fixer and its effort to get a big bioterror defense vaccine production center slowly collapsed.

But now with Solyndra, due to the President’s big publicity junket connected with it, is there a difference worth filling newspapers with controversy over.

Scandal! Impeach now!


I loved the puffer machine as imagery for stupid national failure so much, I put it in a song. And I’ll never miss an opportunity to mention it.


Good news, lads! Good news! Puffer machine at 1:21.

09.13.11

Heard on the gossip line, on terror phonus-balonus

Posted in War On Terror at 11:08 am by George Smith

Over the weekend, from internal DD e-mail, the opine of one of our few public service security experts:

As I drove in this AM there was the “Threat Alert” ( based on an uncorroborated report) that al Q would do a car or truck bomb attack in either NY or Wash DC.

I wouldn’t think that would be any great problem for anyone these days, but I will bet you a big bag of my very best marbles that it is spurious information and that nothing will happen.

DHS worries about Anonymous causing banker indigestion; Nation commits to pauperism

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism, Decline and Fall at 10:49 am by George Smith

Protect the plutocracy from the cyber-paupers:

DHS’ latest bulletin, issued Sept. 3, warned the group has been using social media networks to urge followers working in the financial industry to sabotage their employers’ computer systems.

National pauperism at all time high:

Reflecting the lingering impact of the recession, the U.S. poverty rate from 2007-2010 has now risen faster than any three-year period since the early 1980s, when a crippling energy crisis amid government cutbacks contributed to inflation, spiraling interest rates and unemployment.

Measured by total numbers, the 46 million now living in poverty is the largest on record dating back to when the census began tracking poverty in 1959 …

Bruce Meyer, a public policy professor at the University of Chicago, cautioned that the worst may yet to come in poverty levels, citing in part continued rising demand for food stamps this year as well as “staggeringly high” numbers in those unemployed for more than 26 weeks. He noted that more than 6 million people now represent the so-called long-term unemployed …

Corporate America commits to increasing pauperism and proximity to it — example, “second tier” employees in Detroit:

He can’t help smiling every time he sees each shiny new Grand Cherokee, one of Chrysler’s top-selling models, roll off the line. Still, it’s tough to accept that his entire annual salary of about $30,000 is not enough to afford the least expensive Jeep made at Jefferson North.

“It would be a shame to work at Chrysler,” he said, “and not be able to drive a Chrysler.”

The man’s “salary” is 10k below, or only 75 percent of, the national average wage.

It’s the Guitar Center model of employment. The sales clerks are paid so low they can’t afford the America-made premium instruments.

Pauperism of retail workers.

Riots have not yet started.

US commits supercomputer research to predicting riots:

Research that took place in the US – no comment on why the US would be interested in studying unrest – used millions of articles as a feed for a computer and found that if you gave it enough information about unrest it could tell you that there was unrest.

In this case the analysis was carried out retrospectively, but according to those involved it could also be used to spot upcoming problems, which in the context of US backed research starts to sound a little bit sinister.

Security news/journalism as a commodity

Posted in Cyberterrorism, Why the World Doesn't Need US at 8:51 am by George Smith

Self-profile of someone, publishing a piece of advertising for a cybersecurity service, in an article at Forbes:

I cover the IT security industry for IT-Harvest. I am the author of Surviving Cyberwar, a Government Institutes book available on Amazon. I have presented at conferences and industry events in 26 countries on six continents. I am a prolific source for journalists and news media.

I bet.

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