Ride the Wild Surf!

Posted in Rock 'n' Roll, WhiteManistan at 2:53 pm by George Smith

Seriously. Wait for it. I timed it perfectly, how you make rock theme music for tv shows.

This Part 1 of my mini-opera, WhiteManistan Vacation.

Nothing unfactual is contained in this video. It defines a serious social problem through art and music.

Yes, share. Pass it around, post it in other territories, make a difference. Dare to be annoying but true. I welcome their hate.

A Man for our time, fer sure

Posted in Ted Nugent, WhiteManistan at 9:06 am by George Smith

Nominated to replace the bald eagle as national symbol. C’mon, you know it’s just right.

The reason Ted Nugent has a career is because hate is profit. Not a week expires in which Nugent doesn’t recommend very bad things — extreme punishments, metaphorical shootings and slayings, for some individual or a group. In this Nugent is unstinting, an inexhaustible source of oil of vitriol for throwing in the eyes of others.

Week upon week upon week of it, a big show usually republished or rebroadcast everywhere. A surprisingly large number of people applaud and even pay money for it.

For example, from a small businessman’s affair in Texas, a few weeks back:

A cuddly Uncle Ted made only one joking reference to his wish that he could mow down South Central Los Angeles with an M-4 rifle; only dropped about 10 f-bombs in 50 minutes; paid tribute to the comedy stylings of the late Richard Pryor by laughing deliriously at the thought of Pryor’s “Afro on fire” as the comedian ran from his home in 1980 with his body engulfed in flames; and showed great restraint by only once referring to President Barack Obama as a “Chicago gangster.”

Over a decade ago this wouldn’t have worked. The country had not quite yet made pop-eyed rage, casual cruelty at the expense of others and the irrational mainstream and acceptable. But the real national spirit now, earned through years and years of dedicated toil, is one in which vindictiveness and malice toward all are virtuous.

The current Nugent rock show, from which the above clip in Grand Forks was taken, was reviewed recently:

Nugent, 64, was the most polarizing figure on the bill, thanks to his outspoken views on politics, hunting and guns. But it seems like it’s been at least 30 years since Nugent cared what anyone else thought about him, and he carried that cocksure attitude over to his performance. Basically, it was one long guitar solo, punctuated by an obscene amount of swearing and some “USA! USA!” patriotism tossed in for good measure.

The dates with REO and Styx make up over half his schedule. Without them it’s all dates in front of power drunks and topers at casinos and dive bars like the Flag Staff (now renamed as Penn’s Peak) in Jim Thorpe, PA, a place I wrote about decades ago in Nightclubbing.

No one will make a record with Ted Nugent anymore.

Today, Nugent excoriates his home state.

From the Detroit Freep:

Michigan-born rocker Ted Nugent ripped the Pure Michigan tourism advertising campaign during a radio appearance this morning, saying his home state is becoming “a suburb of Illinois and San Francisco” due to liberalism and political correctness …

Nugent, a rock star of the 1970s who is known as the “Motor City Madman” and has hits that include “Cat Scratch Fever,” is a hunting enthusiast who has become increasingly politically active with conservative views. In 2012, he received a visit from the Secret Service after comparing President Barack Obama to coyotes that needed to be shot.

In today’s interview, Nugent complained about state laws and regulations that he said prohibit carrying loaded weapons on a motorized vehicle such as a four-wheeler used for hunting and require residents to trap, rather than shoot, beavers that become a nuisance around a resident.

Michigan readers were not impressed.

And from right wing conspiracy website WND, an excerpt from Ted’s Weekly column:

Ninety-nine weeks of unemployment is social and economic suicide. I say you get nine weeks of unemployment. If you need assistance after that, contact a church. Hunger is a great motivator …

I say we burn the existing U.S. tax code, which is the single biggest, most bombastic and ambiguous document in the history of the world, and replace it with a flat tax.

This is his audience, where one headline story of the day is
“School forces all girls to ask for lesbian kiss.”

It reads:

The students were introduced to terms such as “pansexual” and “genderqueer.”

Some of the young female students said they were told it was common for 14-year-old girls to have sex and their parents couldn’t stop them.

Mandy Coon, a mother of an eighth-grade student said, “I am furious. I am her parent. Where does anyone get the right to tell her that it’s OK for her to have sex?”

Readers who recall Ted Nugent’s history with underage women when he was an arena rocker may find the woman’s outrage unintentionally hilarious:

[Ted Nugent is] someone who has advocated the killing of all pedophiles, yet by his own admission had countless sexual encounters with underage girls, allegedly including a 12-year-old Courtney Love.

The anti-science menace

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 7:45 am by George Smith

The US was not always anti-science. At least not when I was growing up and being trained as a protein chemist.

Now it’s profoundly different. The party of extremists, backed by big corporate money in the fossil fuels industry, has spent years cultivating contempt for science and facts because it is necessary to protect business interests.

There have always been lots of really stupid people. However, we did not formerly put them in positions where they could paralyze thought and progress in the nation.

So we have a big pack of the most contemptible and self-serving of all fools in the guise of the Republican Party. (As well as a much smaller number of craven and contemptible Democratic politicians in red areas.)

But largely, this is a problem foisted on us by a party in lockstep, one for which the entire purpose is to destroy government, leadership and rational thought because it gets in the way of predatory business “freedom.”

It is a problem that can only be solved by their removal from power. And even then it will take decades to undo all the harm.


FBI ricin case collapses

Posted in Ricin Kooks at 9:47 am by George Smith

In case you needed any more proof the war on terror has screwed up in this country beyond all recognition, this just in from the AP:

From the wire:

OXFORD, Miss. — Marshals Service: Suspect in ricin letters case has been released from jail in Miss.

A kook, but not the ricin kook, apparently.

In one stroke, the FBI has replayed on a smaller scale the anthrax catastrophe with Steven Hatfill, the infamous “person of interest” before the suicide of Bruce Ivins.

It unfolded slowly, with Monday’s news revealing that the FBI had failed to find any castor seeds, “ricin-making materials” or internet recipes at the home of Paul Kevin Curtis.

It is a serious blow to the agency, a public relations and image nightmare, throwing into question everything it has done.

What’s with the ricin determinations on the letters? Are they actually reliable? Why was ricin reported in the letters? Why? Why? Why? Who has f—– up so royally?

In the past twelve years, the American government has always recovered castor seeds, castor powder or ricin recipes from those accused of “making ricin.”

The FBI would have had to know, very quickly after arresting Paul Kevin Curtis, that it had a serious problem developing when it found none of these, not even traces, in his possession.

What pressure was on the agency to make a quick arrest because of the national terrorism hysteria over the Boston marathon bombing?

“[Paul Kevin Curtis’] lawyer said in court that someone may have framed Curtis, suggesting that a former co-worker with whom Curtis had an extended exchange of angry emails may have set him up,” reads one emerging report from the newswire.

Updated: Transcribed court proceeding from Kevin Paul Curtis hearing.
Material included — mental history, former brushes with law, restraining order, assessment of material in letter (crude, made by throwing castor seeds in a blender), names of others, one of whom became another FBI target today.

That material is here.


The latest ricin imbroglio

Posted in Ricin Kooks at 3:28 pm by George Smith

Readers know I have no taste for the nation’s received wisdoms on ricin and terrorism.

This is because t he country has been so poorly served by expert advice during the war on terror, the most ridiculous things create a panic. The result has been that the absurd has become accepted and normal

The FBI is certain ricin was in the letters send to Roger Wicker and the President.

Yet today, its special agent admitted the FBI cannot find castor beans or ricin recipes in the materials seized at the home of Paul Kevin Curtis.

From USA Today:

Agent Brandon Grant said that a search of Paul Kevin Curtis’ house in Corinth, Miss., on Friday did not turn up ricin or ingredients for the poison. A search of Curtis’ computers has found no evidence so far that he researched making ricin …

Still, Grant testified that authorities believe that they have the right suspect.

“Given the right mind-set and the Internet and the acquisition of material, other people could be involved. However, given information right now, we believe we have the right individual,” he said.

Grant testified Friday that authorities tried to track down the sender of the letters by using a list of Wicker’s constituents with the initials KC, the same initials in the letters. Grant said the list was whittled from thousands to about 100 when investigators isolated the ones who lived in an area that would have a Memphis postmark, as do some places in north Mississippi. He said Wicker’s staff recognized Curtis’ name as someone who had written the senator before.

The letters also contained lines that were on Curtis’ Facebook page, including the phrase, “I am KC and I approve this message,” Grant said.

Grant testified that there were indentations on the letters from where someone had written on another envelope that had been on top of them in a stack.

The indentations were analyzed under a light source and turned out to be for Curtis’ former addresses in Booneville and Tupelo, though one of the addresses was spelled wrong, Grant said.

Is there a different ricin kook on the lam? And how would castor powder from someone else’s letter wind up in the letters of Paul Kevin Curtis?

Paul Kevin Curtis’ lawyer suggested “in court that an enemy may have framed” him.

More and more reasons to be tired of the whoopie cushion scares that have become normal as a result of 9/11. (The immense headache of the anthrax case, only on a much smaller scale, comes vaguely to mind.)

Whatever reality is finally determined in the matter, it will not have been worth the media space. And it still won’t justify spending more money on ricin countermeasures.

Ricin rent-seeking (more)

Posted in Bioterrorism, Ricin Kooks, Shoeshine at 8:27 am by George Smith

From a New Jersey business publication, more industry of fear p.r. on Soligenix, a company that has existed on bioterror defense spending for more than a decade, trying to exploit opportunity created by the crazy man:

Soligenix is actively working to develop vaccines for bioterrorism agents such as ricin, but funding the research remains a challenge, according to company president and CEO, Christopher J. Schaber.

“Every biodefense program needs to be sponsored by the government,” said Schaber. “We don’t spend our own money on biodefense. The company could not take off with biodefense unless we secure a large procurement contract from the government, which are typically in the hundreds of millions of dollars …

Soligenix’s share price rose 20 percent this week after the ricin-laced letters to government officials were publicized.

Soligenix would make money if the government stockpiles the vaccine, but the research has to be funded and it has to get FDA approval before the company can procure a government contract.

“We’ve taken this very far with the support of the NIH (National Institutes of Health), but we really need to get a larger contract with more funding to allow us to move forward,” Schaber said. “The government many times doesn’t move that quickly on these things, especially because a lot of people haven’t died.

In over ten years Soligenix has brought nothing to the US market.

Worth 100 mil to the biodefense rent-seeker?

Fun fact: Number of people made even mildly ill in government offices from handling ricin-tainted letters in the last twelve years: Zero.

Soligenix — from the archives.


One long guitar solo

Posted in Rock 'n' Roll, Ted Nugent, WhiteManistan at 8:31 am by George Smith

From a Minneapolis newspaper, on the REO/Styx/Nugent oldies tour:

Nugent, 64, was the most polarizing figure on the bill, thanks to his outspoken views on politics, hunting and guns. But it seems like it’s been at least 30 years since Nugent cared what anyone else thought about him, and he carried that cocksure attitude over to his performance. Basically, it was one long guitar solo, punctuated by an obscene amount of swearing and some “USA! USA!” patriotism tossed in for good measure.

From the Toledo Blade, an article on the same tour explaining the Midwestern love of “classic rock” — or, as readers of this blog might call it now — WhiteManistan rock:

[Toledo venue manager] Miller refers to classic rock and country music as the arena’s “bread and butter,” attracting “a traditional and loyal audience” who identify with the songs about the Midwest experience — see Styx’s “Blue Collar Man,” for example.

Cronin also noted similarities in the two fan bases, and said that REO Speedwagon keyboardist and co-founder Neal Doughty has a theory that classic rock is really the new country.

“Not musically, but just in as much as it’s long lasting,” he said. “It’s the music of heartland, and it’s another alternative” …

The music of heartland for some, of stomach-turning for others. Modern country became the refuge of classic rock in the last twenty years. Neal Doughty of REO has it a little bit sideways.

The musicians in modern country play light classic rock with banjo and fiddles glued on for seasoning.

See the most recent comment on Brad Paisley, here. After bombing with “Accidental Racist,” his record company launched another weird dud, “Beat This Summer.”

Now I ask you, who thought conjuring the spirit of a slightly older Jon Benet Ramsey by putting the song to a video in which a very little boy and little girl have a puppy summer affair on the Santa Monica pier was a great idea? Wistful, I don’t think so. It made my skin crawl.

God save us from the clueless in WhiteManistan and heartland music.


Ricin rent-seeking

Posted in Bioterrorism, Ricin Kooks, Shoeshine at 12:51 pm by George Smith

Updated, just in: A kook, but not the ricin kook:

OXFORD, Miss. — Marshals Service: Suspect in ricin letters case has been released from jail in Miss.

Rent-seeking behavior is the abandonment of providing a good product or service to customers (or one of even slightly minor social benefit) for the sole pursuit of wealth through private sector/government collusion.

It is practiced by corporations as well as individuals. And it is rife in the national security megaplex.

An article on the science journal Nature’s website on the 18th is the very illustration of it.

Entitled, “US ricin attacks are more scary than harmful,” the added slug line informed “But researchers hope that the incidents will renew development of stalled vaccines.”

Paul Kevin Curtis, the ricin-tainted letter mailer, appears to be profoundly mentally ill. There was never any chance that his letters would reach their targets. Bruce Ivins, the anthraxer who worked within the heart of the US’s bioterror defense establishment saw to that.

And there was no way the crude castor powder with ricin in it ever posed a threat to the general public.

It was country’s very bad luck to have the mental illness of Paul Kevin Curtis fly right into the middle of the week of the Boston terror bombing hysteria.

From Nature:

The US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick, Maryland, has developed a vaccine called RVEc, which protected mice that were exposed to inhaled ricin.2 The vaccine has also been tested in human volunteers, who subsequently developed antibodies to the toxin. But further human testing is needed, and it is not clear whether the Department of Defense will continue to fund the vaccine’s development.

The other leading vaccine candidate, RiVax, is made by a company called Soligenix, based in Princeton, New Jersey. The vaccine was initially developed by Ellen Vitetta, an immunologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and batches made by her group have been tested in animals. Those batches have also been found to be safe in healthy human volunteers, in whom they stimulated the production of antibodies.

But Soligenix has not yet tested the safety and effectiveness of its own batches of RiVax. The company’s development efforts have slowed as a result of budget constraints at its funding agency, the NIAID, says Vitetta.

“It basically is not going anywhere,” she says. “It’s disappointing and upsetting.” After an event such as the latest ricin mailings, “everyone wants to know where the vaccines are. Somebody has to think this work is important enough to fund us and let us finish it.”

Soligenix’s work on the vaccine is currently funded by a US$9.4-million NIAID grant, but further testing in animals to prove the treatment’s effectiveness would cost between $20 million and $40 million, says Chris Schaber, the company’s president.

It is cynical behavior to use the work of an individual like Paul Kevin Curtis as an argument for the refinancing of bioterror defense business.

The conditions concerning ricin poison are not going to change. It will never be a weapon of mass destruction and therefore has little to no utility unless one can think of a rationalization to require all ongress, or the president, to be immunized with it.

Ricin-tainted letters are rare and one cannot generally predict who they will go to. Should the entire US postal service by immunized?

Rhetorical question, obviously.

Soligenix is a company that has been mentioned here from time to time. It is a bioterror defense nostrum firm that exists only because of Bruce Ivins and the war on terror. For over a decade it has been kept afloat by taxpayer money and never brought anything to the American people in return.

More recently its stock collapsed, the company eventually turning to an accounting maneuver to re-inflate it.

Practically speaking one might look at the anthrax mailer from Fort Detrick (USAMRIID) as the ultimate bioterror defense rent-seeker.

The FBI surmised that one of Ivins’ motivations in mailing anthrax was to create an incident that would save and stimulate his anthrax vaccine work. In this he certainly was successful. Fort Detrick, for example, where Bruce Ivins was employed was a hot place to work. Bruce Ivins, a very capable scientist, was no Paul Kevin Curtis.

So after the anthrax mailings the national bioterror defense industry boomed. It continued to expand through the entire presidency of George W. Bush. Indeed, those were its salad years.

However, today, spending on bioterror defense asks reasonable people to consider it in terms of morality and good citizenship.

For five years the country has been limping along with an economy that does not serve the majority of its citizens very well. Food stamp subsidies are at an all time high. Millions and millions of people are long-term unemployed or underemployed. The nation faces very serious problems it is not really attempting to solve.

However, crude powder containing ricin in the mail is not a serious national problem affecting the lives of hundreds of millions.

The vast majority of Americans have seen very little real benefit from the large sums in bioterror defense spending. This is probably not going to change.

In view of this, the use of Paul Kevin Curtis, an obviously nuts person, as a rationalization to spend money on a vaccine that no one will likely ever need takes on a taint of immorality. It is simply an attempted collusion between government and a small bit of the corporate national security business to get more of the taxpayer loot.

It is rent-seeking through use of the industry of fear.

You think this man is a reason to fund a ricin vaccine? Seriously?

Still time to get in on the last day of our second fundraiser, ever.


You see the problem?

Posted in Bioterrorism, War On Terror at 3:01 pm by George Smith

From the Miami Herald, today:

Law enforcement agents should be able to test the toxin found in the letters to determine its potency and purity, as well as learn what chemicals may have been used to extract it from widely available castor beans, said Murray Cohen, the founder of the Atlanta-based Frontline Foundation, which trains workers on preparedness and response to bioterrorism and epidemics. Those chemicals might then be able to be linked to purchases made by Curtis or materials found in his home.

Curtis’ ex-wife has said he likely didn’t have the know-how to make ricin, and she did not know where he would buy it because he was on disability. But Cohen said ricin was once known as “the poor man’s bioterrorism” because the seeds are easy to obtain and the extraction process is relatively simple.

Any kid that made it through high school science lab is more than equipped to successfully make a poison out of this stuff. Any fool can get recipes off the Internet and figure out how to do it,” Cohen said.

Those seeds, which look a bit like coffee beans, are easy to buy online and are grown around the world; they are often used to make medicinal castor oil, among other things. However, using the seeds to make a highly concentrated form of ricin would require laboratory equipment and expertise to extract, said Raymond Zilinskas, a chemical and biological weapons expert.

“It’s an elaborate process,” he said.

The industry of fear, at work. In the first “expert” claim, you have the case of someone from one of the many small advisory and training firms that moved into national security work in the wake of 9/11.

The Frontline Foundation was originally a business for healthcare worker safety training.

The second expert is someone who knows and has a long career studying bio and chemical weapons and their relationship to terrorism.

The claims are contradictory. The story’s title: Experts: Ricin like that in letters easy to make.

There is one right answer and it’s the second. Again, no one has made purified ricin during the war on terror years for reasons explained over and over here.

But it’s not something one has ever been able to get across to the press.

It does not fit the script, all the received wisdoms. Worse, it does not aid businesses offering their services in training for defense against all those things we are to be afraid of. Because they are easy to make.

There’s no profit in telling the truth because it’s complicated. It does not make as sensational a story nor does it earn money.

Consider too, there is now an obvious social cost to this, at the general public’s expense. Paul Kevin Curtis probably read the news. Although clearly out of his mind and with no sense of self-consciousness or restraint (you can get it from his pictures and videos), like others before him he’s immersed in an environment that tells everyone how easy things are to make.

Any kid that made it through high school can do it, you see.

And logic and careful thought can never win against such one-line claims delivered by people in performance for the media.

Begging reminder

Posted in War On Terror at 1:56 pm by George Smith

DD blog’s second fundraiser ever will draw to a close tomorrow. But there’s still time to hit the tip jar if you’ve put it off.

You can read the original plea and rationale here.

Or just use the convenient button.

I sincerely thank those who’ve already pitched in. It’s greatly appreciated. I mean it.

Fight the shoeshine!

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