08.26.13

Tomorrow Today

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 10:05 am by George Smith

08.24.13

Apple ist der Sieg

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 3:26 pm by George Smith


Envisioned Culture of Lickspittle corporate headquarters.

It’s fairly obvious Apple believes its urine to be the world’s sweetest Kool-Aid.

From Krugman, an observation on how the mighty eventually fall:

Yep: the uncouth nerds who created Microsoft became incredibly rich, acquired couth, and lost their edge; Apple stayed edgy in part because of Steve Jobs, but also because it was a disappointment for so long. And if its plans to build a high-tech Versailles are any indication, the now super-successful Apple may be heading down the same road as its one-time nemesis.

At the height of his power, Bill Gates and Microsoft rescued Apple and Steve Jobs.

Today Apple believes it stands astride the world, if this article — pointed out in the Krugman post, is any indication:

At what turned out to be his last public appearance, Steve Jobs stood before the Cupertino City Council on June 7, 2011, to present plans for a new corporate campus for Apple (AAPL). Scarecrow thin but forceful as ever, Jobs displayed several renderings of a headquarters intended to accommodate more than 12,000 employees in a single, circular building. “It’s a little like a spaceship,” he said of the massive, four-story ring, which, at 2.8 million square feet, would be two-thirds the size of the Pentagon and set among 176 acres of trees where today there are mostly asphalt parking lots. “We have a shot,” he said, “at building the best office building in the world. I really do think that architecture students will come here to see it” …

The true expense of the campus lies not in green tech, though, as much as the materials—as well as what product designers call “fit and finish.” As with Apple’s products, Jobs wanted no seam, gap, or paintbrush stroke showing; every wall, floor, and even ceiling is to be polished to a supernatural smoothness. All of the interior wood was to be harvested from a specific species of maple, and only the finer-quality “heartwood” at the center of the trees would be used, says one person briefed on the plan last year.

The main building will also be groundbreaking in how it’s assembled. While the structural shell will be erected on site, the glass that forms the exterior walls will be bent and framed by Seele in its factory in Gersthofen, Germany. “It’s something like 6 kilometers of glass,” says Peter Arbour, an architect with Seele, who says that no company has attempted to use panes as large …

You only have to read about two and a half pages of it to get the idea Apple needs the structure, if only for the expanded space to fit all the raging conceits.

There is another historic instance of big world-gripping architectural plans that comes to mind. That went well.


Interior of Albert Speer-designed Volkshalle, to be built in Berlin of Greater Germania after victory in World War II.

08.23.13

Dr. Seuss or Ogden Nash?

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

Glenn Greenwald killed the Internet — Fiore.

08.22.13

Science is about findings and facts

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 4:34 pm by George Smith

What is the national cancer that has eaten up reason? It is the Republican Party, the extreme right, and its media. Almost single-handedly, it is they who have damaged the American public’s perceptions of science. We endure this bad time, one of government paralysis, stagnation and the flaunting of ignorant beliefs of no substance as righteous virtue, hoping that something might change. But hope is not a strategy.

Yesterday, the New York Times published an opinion entitled “Welcome to the Age of Denial,” by Adam Frank.

An astrophysicist, Frank discussed the ignorance of the American populace with regards to science, and how it has — discouragingly — steadily increased.

He writes:

IN 1982, polls showed that 44 percent of Americans believed God had created human beings in their present form. Thirty years later, the fraction of the population who are creationists is 46 percent.

In 1989, when “climate change” had just entered the public lexicon, 63 percent of Americans understood it was a problem. Almost 25 years later, that proportion is actually a bit lower, at 58 percent …

Today, however, it is politically effective, and socially acceptable, to deny scientific fact. Narrowly defined, “creationism” was a minor current in American thinking for much of the 20th century. But in the years since I was a student, a well-funded effort has skillfully rebranded that ideology as “creation science” and pushed it into classrooms across the country. Though transparently unscientific, denying evolution has become a litmus test for some conservative politicians, even at the highest levels.

Meanwhile, climate deniers, taking pages from the creationists’ PR playbook, have manufactured doubt about fundamental issues in climate science that were decided scientifically decades ago. And anti-vaccine campaigners brandish a few long-discredited studies to make unproven claims about links between autism and vaccination.

One of the things scientists do is to accurately describe observables. Frank sort of does it when he mentions “conservative politicians.”

Perhaps there is a reason for this tip-toeing. Diplomacy. He wants laymen to read what he’s written and not close their minds immediately because he mentions the GOP directly.

But this, in and of itself, is a concession to how much harm the right has done to the ability to issue public statements of science fact. It has made, as Frank notes, the statement of what is scientifically true into a process in which laymen now believe it is all politically motivated from the left.

Almost exclusively, science denial is the property of the right. Science did not leave the GOP. The GOP threw down science.

As I’ve written before on this blog, I was at Lehigh University when Michael Behe was hired into the biochemistry floor where I was a Ph.D. student.

Behe was the man who renamed creationism into “intelligent design.” He was cagey, kept his mouth shut about his beliefs and plans until he had tenure and Lehigh’s scientists were asleep at the wheel. Initially, they paid little attention to what his best-selling books on intelligent design, Of Pandas and People and Darwin’s Black Box, actually said.

Behe subsequently transferred to the biology department and that’s when his hiring blew up in the university’s face. Today the biology department must run a disclaimer about Behe on its webpage.

Michale Behe was discredited in the Dover school district of Pennsylvania trial that pitted the teaching of evolution versus creationism in public school. The school district had changed its policy in 2004 to one in which Behe’s intelligent design was to be taught as an alternative to evolution theory, with his book, Of Pandas and People, as reference material.

It took a judge, not scientists at Lehigh or anywhere else, to dismantle Michael Behe and call intelligent design exactly what it was, weasel wording for creationism.

But the the damage had been done and it was grievous.

For years Behe had been embraced and used by the right to convince Americans there was legitimate scientific doubt about evolution.

“My professors’ generation could respond to silliness like creationism with head-scratching bemusement,” writes Adam Frank for the Times.

Yes, some would.

Some played dead, though, and it was at my school and elsewhere. And now we have what we do.

It is also worth noting that it was the self-same opinion pages of the New York Times that published Michael Behe’s opinions on “intelligent design” creationism in 1999 and 2005. This, like many New York Times editorial disasters (think Iraq and WMDs) was harmful to public knowledge.

And this is also at the heart of why science denial is the property of the right in the United States.

Science is about standards. Standards are achieved or called for by the evaluation of facts determined by experimentation following the rigor of the scientific method. And argument ceases when facts are established by carefully gathered data. Research moves on.

The right despises standards, facts and science because to believe in such things means you must discard your opinions, fairy tales, or impeding personal philosophies when results discredit them or require the making of rational policy.

And the right does not stomach that in the US.

With regards to evolution, the right was successful at propagandizing people with the canard that science was attacking their religious beliefs. Science and evolution do nothing of the sort. Science makes no determination about God. The existence of God is not experimentally testable.

But back to the New York Times and its old relationship with Michael Behe. The cachet the opinion pieces on its pages afforded him did much in subsequent years to twist the average American’s understanding of evolution and the actual role of science. And this was because Americans cannot distinguish between crackpots who may have a tenured position at a respected university and scientists as a whole.

The right in this country plays this well. It finds one scientist, one who is on the fringe, isolated by colleagues but still present in the academy, and uses the weird or wrong in arguments to laymen, alleging there is actual professional debate on a matter concerning well-established science. This, when there is none.

With the case of climate change, funded by fossil fuel energy companies, the right simply created some websites, phony organizations and position papers that looked like serious science to laymen. Consider that one again. With money
backing you, to cast doubt on established science, it is now only
necessary to gin up something phony that looks like science to people unfamiliar with the real thing.

And American scientists have had one hell of time fighting it.

The result has been disaster. The Republican Party and its belligerent and now dangerous dunces, on the pages of the country’s newspapers, in videos in front of their constituents, on television, on radio, spewing compounded nonsense on everything from reproductive biology to the environment.

Sure, they can be defeated at the national level when the ludicrous statements become too alienating to overlook. But at home, at the root level, they’re always rushing to enact law and policy that preserves ignorance in states where they control the legislature.

In February 2005, Behe wrote in the Times, 10 months before the Dover decision crushed the idea that intelligent design was respected science:

In the wake of the recent lawsuits over the teaching of Darwinian evolution, there has been a rush to debate the merits of the rival theory of intelligent design. As one of the scientists who have proposed design as an explanation for biological systems, I have found widespread confusion about what intelligent design is and what it is not.

First, what it isn’t: the theory of intelligent design is not a religiously based idea, even though devout people opposed to the teaching of evolution cite it in their arguments …

You’ll have noticed in the lead paragraph, Behe calling “intelligent design” a “rival theory” to evolution. And the Times let him get away with it.

Again, the problem here is duplicity and bears repeating: There was never any accepted published science backing up anything with regards to creationism.

In 1999 Behe had written for the Times:

Teach Darwin’s elegant theory. But also discuss where it has real problems accounting for the data, where data are severely limited, where scientists might be engaged in wishful thinking, and where alternative–even ‘heretical’–explanations are possible.

This was part of an opinion piece in which Behe set himself up as an arbiter of reason, arguing that the state of Kansas should not have abolished the requirement of teaching evolution but, instead, taken the more rational approach of teaching allegedly competing theories.

Frank concluded “Welcome to the Age of Denial” by saying, ‘[As] we know from history’s darkest moments, even the most enlightened traditions can be broken and lost.”

08.21.13

Community college as a verb (continued)

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Permanent Fail at 4:17 pm by George Smith

An old friend from the Lehigh Valley saw the link to the Community College as a verb post on Facebook and had this to say:

I remember losing my chemical processing job to NAFTA in the mid nineties in PA. Went to community college to brush up on some math courses but economics sent me back out to the work force. Lo and behold, those same chemical processing jobs now had an associate degree attached to the same responsibilities I had for 10 years after I got out of the Navy in 1986. So to do the same job I had as a Teamster and being trained in house at the plant I worked at I now had to go to college to able to apply for that job and put myself into dept with student loans at the age of 35. A nice little kick in the balls.

Building for decades, the US economy is really a story about contempt.

That nice ‘f—you’ was being put into place all through the country.

It’s the plain dishonoring of credentials and experience, all so people can be de-skilled, de-jobbed and compelled to spend money enrolled in courses to learn things they have already learned, sometimes more than once.

I ran across it when I graduated from Lehigh, multiple times.

Schools and businesses stopped honoring any type of credentials and experience when and wherever it was convenient, which was usually when you walked in their door.

I had been teaching a lab course in microbiology at Northampton Community College in period of around ’89-91, not long after leaving Lehigh University. It was suggested to me, by an old Lehigh advisor, that I might pick up an educational certification at Moravian College in Bethlehem. So I inquired and was given a list of courses I would have to take. I had a Ph.D. in chemistry from across town, and was told I would have to take introductory microbiology, a course I had been teaching, as well as other basic chemistry courses, which I also had taught as part of paying the freight for the doctorate.

I already had three degrees in chemistry and you can only imagine how shocking and infuriating it was to hear, as a young person who had recently graduated with the highest qualification one could get in chemistry, that one would have to take beginner’s courses again.

I asked the benighted woman who was talking with me, surely this could not be true, that the school would not honor any degreed credit from other very well known places. She just froze up and said I’d have to take the things again.

Maybe she was incompetent or crazy or something was really wrong that day. It brought everything to a bad halt. There was no point in having a conversation or to make plans on continuing education.

My impression, for the last thirty years, has been American business and schooling has made it their business to just deny people what they have learned as part of a racket to force many out of the workforce. It is a convenience, to obviously push desperate people into spending more and more money on “retraining.” Anything that will discredit labor and ability is thrown at you.

And we have a media and population, a good deal of which has been propagandized into believing whatever someone tells them along these lines.

You must retrain, even for minimum wage pay.

On Amazon’s digital sweat shop, Mechanical Turk, you can easily find many 2 and 5 cent jobs for which it is claimed you “are not qualified.” Don’t believe me? Go look.

It’s all part of the environment of demeaning labor and talent so it can be had as the cheapest of commodities. In addition, the national industry of predatory re-training schools is well established. For fees, always more fees and loans, we are promised revitalization.

And then when we finish up, typically, there’s no job or something that pays mininum wage or less, at which point you can be told again you need more re-training, your credentials are crap.

The continuing selling of this in bad times is playing with fire. At some point a large number of people will have lost interest in believing anything. They’ll be convinced, because it cannot be ignored, they’re in a society where work for living pay is a privilege awarded to those with only the right connections. And that those who have that privilege think of everyone else as inferior. This is what brings down entire countries.

You cannot sustain a system and philosophy that cynically condemns and cannibalizes decades worth of work and people for the benefit of a very few. The ax of history will eventually come to chop it down.


In a related, census data released on recovery from the end of the recession in 2009 has still lagged. No one who really got hit is yet back to what they were earning or worth before the troubles started.

But of particular interest is this brief bit on the alleged value of schooling, at the New York Times:

In the recession and its aftermath, many people went back to school, earning associate or bachelor’s degrees. Such credentials have helped, the new data shows, but they have been no guarantee against loss of income.

Households headed by people with only a high school diploma have seen their post-recession income decline by 9.3 percent, to $39,300 in June of this year, the report said. For households headed by people with an associate degree, median income declined by 8.6 percent in those four years, to $56,400. And among households headed by people with a bachelor’s degree or more, median income declined by 6.5 percent, to $84,700.


And, finally, a bit from today’s New Yorker website, more anecdotal contempt for people, everyone except a small slice. It’s been conditioned into the DNA.

At one of the country’s annual gatherings of music money and excess, SXSW in 2012, the brilliant stunt of paying poor people 20 bucks to be wi-fi lampshades:

“At last year’s South by Southwest technology conference, in Austin, the marketing agency BBH set up thirteen homeless volunteers as wireless transmitters, for twenty bucks a day. They lugged mobile Wi-Fi instruments around the city, searching for crowded conference areas, wearing shirts that identified themselves as homeless hotspots.”

Of course it was met with dismay. But who would even think of it except those who view contempt for others as normal part of daily life? People as ambulatory furniture and cheap stuff at that. At SXSW, one of the big hot money flows in the music biz.

The rest of the NYer piece is the usual high-button hand-wringing about the poors, hung on the hook of pop-art begging signs for the homeless, delivered with a slightly detached air of what-can-be-done-ism.

Nothing. Nothing can be done and nothing will be done.

The New Yorker writer can’t capture the smiling contempt of the year-old stunt of using homeless people as walking wi-fi “hot spots.”

This picture, on the web portal for it, does.

The brief smiling profiles of cleaned-up homeless people, adorning a PayPal button for donations on what the tens of thousands of music tourists and journalists in Austin thought might be fair to pay for wireless access. Two dollars for 15 minutes, another lousy deal, was the suggested amount in the fine print.

And the website with smiling faces or homeless people was not designed for twenty bucks a day.

Embrace the sharing economy

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 12:49 pm by George Smith


Did you know Facebook prohibits the “sharing” of such DK cartoon files because a privacy bit is set in the PNG? It’s true. Seems counterproductive and stupid. Plus, DailyK is hosted through Amazon Web Services. And every time you log the web page, you get a film pop-up that must always be dismissed with a click.

That’s three strikes, you’re out. They went to the digital grasp, along with everyone else in web design.

The Neo-Confederate

Posted in Psychopath & Sociopath, Ted Nugent, WhiteManistan at 12:18 pm by George Smith

The American for a country where contempt is a virtue. Wait around for the rant in New Haven about “food stamp cocksuckers” who use the program to buy “crack.”

The Connecticut newspaper was not wrong when it compared his profane ideology to the Ku Klux Klan.

To Ted Nugent, most Americans are “cocksuckers.”

By dint of Media Matters and YouTube, all can see one of the most public bigots of our time, and — boy — is he angry about it.

A triumph for the Evil Empire

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 10:43 am by George Smith

Bradley Manning gets 35 years. Next up, Julian Assange, unless he wants to stay in the embassy of Ecuador in London for the rest of his life. If Manning can be put away for life, so can Julian Assange and, inevitably, Edward Snowden.

In the big story few Americans will recall who turned Manning in but today he figures large again in summaries of the case.

The fellow was Adrian Lamo, a feckless convicted hacker and apparent pathological liar, once a low-level but constant publicity hound at Wired and other on-line magazines. One way of looking at it is to observe Manning couldn’t have had worse luck when he sought out Lamo on-line and chose to speak with him. Many would have told him, outright, run away.

But Manning is an historical figure.

Lamo is not. Rather, he’s an always present human carbuncle, someone whose publicity and achievement as an informant turning Manning’s chats and e-mail over to the FBI and Wired (also not spotless in the affair), exists only due to the frailty of the person who confided in him.

08.20.13

Laundering the stupid

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Ricin Kooks at 1:59 pm by George Smith

Yesterday’s bit on the National Journal ricin plot news that wasn’t news, because nincompoops on the staff at the magazine’s Global Security Newswire staff had mistakenly resurrected a 2011 article from the NYTimes, has been laundered.

Once nonsense is passed through an alleged source of authority, it can spread everywhere.

Take this snapshot, from Yahoo’s News Service:

To reiterate: There is no ricin bomb plot. This is trash, a mistake, taken from a New York Times piece that was clearly dated 2011.

Makes no difference, though. Just another small example of how degraded mainstream journalism is. Between firings, downsizing of operations, and a conversion to a model that values only page views and eyeballs, it’s not surprising. But it is still dismaying.

With regards to any alleged ricin bomb plot? It was going no place in 2011. Nothing has changed.

DD’s Law, you see:

The probability that any predicted national security catastrophe, or doomsday scenario, will occur is inversely proportional to its appearance in entertainments, movies, television dramas and series, novels, non-fiction books, magazines and news.

08.19.13

National Journal nincompoops and ricin

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Ricin Kooks at 3:24 pm by George Smith


Full size.

I never rely on the National Journal for security reporting on anything. Still, it is considered a sage publication within the Beltway, often getting a lot of good press.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t employ total nincompoops.

The above is my screen snap from the National Journal today, a news item about an alleged plan by al Qaeda in Yemen to launch ricin attacks.

It’s bylined the Global Security Newswire, a National Journal effort that has no connection with the real GlobalSecurity.Org

The article is nonsense. It cites a New York Times report, with a link, one allegedly published last Monday, or something.

However, apparently they don’t even bother to check their own link.
The New York Times piece was published in 2011.

“Confidential findings suggest the terror group has been trying to amass castor seeds and other ricin precursors at a secluded location in Yemen’s Shabwa province, an area beyond reach of the country’s central government in Sanaa, according to the sources,” it reads. “The data — initially reported in 2012 to President Obama and senior White House security staffers — suggests the militants want to have explosives spread the deadly substance through crowded indoor areas, government personnel said.”

The New York Times piece, again, is clearly marked 2011.

It’s such a great example of excrement in reporting one was tempted to
say it must purely be the result of a mistake in web-publishing automation. However, that doesn’t explain how the story was rewritten and advanced a year.

This is what happens when you employ people who are incompetent, or don’t pay them, or overwork them, or some combination of the three. There’s no excuse for it. There’s nothing right about it. There never will be.

DD blog, and GlobalSecurity.Org, debunked the idea of ricin bombs by al Qaeda back when the New York Times tried to pass it.

Indeed, maybe al Qaeda wanted to make ricin bombs back before 2011 (maybe they still do). But that is only because they are feebs and know nothing about the poison. They cannot make enough ricin and, further, since it is an active protein, it would not survive bombing, being denatured by fire, heat and shearing forces.

What to do? What to do? A minor blip in the news, but still — what’s the correct response?

Fire someone? Let other agencies employ them to mess things up?

“Global Security Newswire, produced by National Journal Group, offers daily news updates about nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, terrorism and related issues … A free e-daily, the Newswire provides thorough, accurate coverage …”

Yeah, right.

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