Community college as a verb

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 1:07 pm by George Smith

Today’s perfect selections from the Culture of Lickspittle, pieces from the blogging editorial team at the Atlantic, some of the worst and most patronizing assholes on the net, solving the problems of sluggish US growth, mass unemployment and inequality. These days, everyone plays the stupid riff about community college being the Philosopher’s Stone for turning American labor lead into gold, the silver bullet nostrum that cures the leprosy of the alleged lack of skills in Americans. And if loutish and stupid citizens just had the right skills, the economy would get back on its feet for them.

The President plays it regularly in speeches. Everyone has caught the catchy tune.

It’s part of an increasingly urgent propaganda message, one the purpose of which is to convince people that the 1 percent taking everything isn’t so bad and may not even be relevant to the economic misfortunes of the majority. No, the misfortune is at the feet of American workers, who are inferior because they do not have “skills.”

But all hope is not lost. Americans can magically regain skills by paying for them, possibly through community college certifications.

It’s truly cynical and transparent, because the people always going on about it are those with high-button educations, schooling now completely priced out of reach of the masses. They are the explainers with their nice college degrees, certifications that they are A-OK in the skills department, allowed the privilege of a job in the higher paid servant classes. Because there’s a need to politely tell it how it is to all the inferior people.

So, here at this blog, we can turn “community college” into a verb (it’s what my massive college education, now obsoleted anyway, did):

Dodson community colleged his way out of crushing debt and two years of unemployment after he was laid off from his engineering job at Cisco Systems.

Forty eight million Americans community colleged their way off food stamps, many for the second time, in a new economic Renaissance.

The President, and many others earning six figures a year with benefits, insisted millions of American would community college themselves to a new and prosperous future.

From the Atlantic, where no one community college-ing is on the editorial staff as a writer:

Skills for America’s Future, a policy initiative run out of the Aspen Institute, was created in 2010 as a spin-off of President Obama’s Jobs Council and was originally led by longtime Obama supporter Penny Pritzker. With Pritzker now installed as the new Commerce secretary, Aspen announced earlier this week that the skills-training program will continue with executives from Snap-On and Gap at the helm.

There are employers who now work with community colleges to develop certificates that help show that a worker is ready. The National Career Readiness Certificate basically tests those kinds of skills I was talking about–can they read for information, locate information, do math?

It’s good to know one needs a community college background, paper proof that you can “read for information, locate information [and] do math” for a minimum wage retail job selling blue jeans and tools at the Gap and Snap-On.

If there was a button you could push to burn these people at the stake you’d push it.

Again, this is about contempt. Contempt for Americans seen in the implication that people aren’t fit to work and cannot read or do arithmetic.

The problem is not, as it appears when shopping Baja Ranch, that people don’t know how to read and do arithmetic. They do! They do fine with cash registers, counting out money, reading stocking lists, preparing foods behind the counter, reading labels, using scales and so on. The problem is being paid too little for a fair day’s work.

In fact, there was no shortage of Americans who tried to get jobs in the 2010 census. Almost all of them, as far as I could tell, had a basic grasp of reading and math.

However, there’s always room for another scam at the bottom. Now that Americans can afford even less, they can have a certification dangled in front them, one that promises a future job, if and when they take some courses and pay to take a test that proves they have reading comprehension and the basic ability to add, subtract, multiply and divide.

Also from the Atlantic, the question answered — “Are the rich getting too much of the economic pie?”

So we headed to Dangerously Delicious Pies in northeast Washington, D.C., with business editor Derek Thompson to explain income inequality over dessert. We ordered three pies — peanut butter, blueberry, and something amazing called the “Baltimore Bomb” — to make three charts that illustrate the income and wealth gap in the U.S. We’re not the first to mix math and pastry, as we discovered recently, but we hope this video offers a tasty perspective on a complex economic question.

There you have it. Pies. They ate pie! The worst inequality and economic injustice among the civilized powers, explained over frou-frou pies by glossy mag servants to the toffs in DC.

No link. The Atlantic is a site of the infinite download, auto-playing nuisance advertisements and video as soon as the page is logged.

How not to do it

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 8:03 am by George Smith

Glenn Greenwald is an accomplished journalist. His release of the materials provided by Edward Snowden is historic.

But he’s not great at everything.

It was unwise to publicize that people you were working with (a family member) — separated globally — were also handling the Snowden materials.

It was obvious, even to the man, they would all become objects of global tracking and observation by the US government and its proxies. And that there might be opportunities taken to look for and seize encrypted files on thumb drives and a lap top.

Which now has been done, if only to provide confirmatory evidence of what Snowden has made available and to procure ancillary files which may hold indications of plans for it.

Greenwald’s an investigative journalist, one with a big ego. It’s not surprising that some aren’t particularly skillful at the spying trade.

On the other hand, shaking down the partner, David Miranda, through the authority of British intelligence service toadies, certainly does nothing to convince the world you’re not the new Evil Empire.


The sharing economy: Everyone’s a maven at something

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall at 3:11 pm by George Smith

Everybody knows something. That’s the hook an on-line bidding bazaar for consulting services, called Maven, part of the alleged great knowledge-sharing economy, uses to sell what it does.

Maven connects people interested in speaking to thousands of experts knowledgeable in a specialized areas of science and business. As a user of Maven in the role of consultant, you set your rate hourly. The lowest you can go is $25/hour, which immediately sets it apart from crowd-sourced micro-task work at places like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. (More, on which, later.)

A couple years ago I joined up for Maven and listed my areas of expertise — which are pretty obvious if you read this blog. National security issues, specializing in weapons of mass destruction, cybersecurity, and — as a side — protein chemistry/biochemistry.

Maven lists your profile and bio, anonymized or not, depending on your desire. Presumably it is searched when someone is looking for experts which hit your keywords.

Maven will also boost your profile — for a fee.

In the time I’ve been on Maven, my profile has been viewed — at best — three or four times. Put bluntly, it never comes up in search.

This didn’t bother me. I’m used to being overlooked in the winner-take-all scheme of things. I decided to ignore the account.

However, when someone from corporate America does actually view your profile and decides to ask for advice, Maven sends you a notification.

But what if the invitation to consult is from a total idiot?

Corporate America is rife with them, businessmen — maybe successful — who can still be pretty dumb at lots of things, individuals who wish to ask nonsensical questions.

My first request was from some American business that wanted to know about the potential for bleaching melanin.

There is none.

Melanin is a natural pigment of complex biochemistry. It’s present in almost all animals. One of evolution’s great achievements, there’s no way to make it go away.

Or, in another way of speaking, you can’t turn black and brown people into white people with rubbing creams or other chemicals. In fact, when melanin is inhibited by genetic disease, the result is very disfiguring.

I have no desire to take money from stupid people, or even to talk to them about things which they could easily determine, by themselves, to be impossible.

So I deleted the invitation to consult.

This is not how things are done. You have to formally decline and give a reason on Maven.

After another e-mail admonishment, I did so. I discovered Maven also rates your “expertness.” I was 2.5 on a scale of 1 to 5, without ever having consulted. This seems to mean someone can give you a bad review even if you decline to speak with them.

The next consulting request — one of the features of the service is that the businesses asking for the consult are rendered anonymous until a deal is clinched — was made by someone looking to discuss the issue of cyber-attacks and cyberterrorism on the US electrical power-generating infrastructure.

Seemed straightforward, something I could talk about and return good value.

I accepted the invitation.

The next thing the corporate customer wanted, still anonymous, was for me to take an on-line test.

Corporate America is also filled with people who have little respect for anything, or others with whom they wish to deal. Total contempt for people everywhere is now embedded in the American way of doing things.

I declined to take the test and indicated, through the Maven interface, that I would be turning down the offer to consult. No money would change hands.

Again, Maven requires you fill out a reason for turning down a consult. This was easy. The requesting party was not an honest broker. It wanted me to do something for it, take a test to prove myself in a manner which did not specifically have anything to do with the questions it wished to discuss.

My Maven rating, of course, was not improved by honesty.

A few weeks later Maven sent me an e-mail informing it needed “protein chemists” and that there would be a referral fee available if I could find one, or more, to consult on Maven. I informed the service that I was highly trained in protein chemistry. There was no answer.

A couple months went by, my weekly Maven bulletin informing me that my profile had been viewed “zero” times and not come up in search.

The next invitation to consult came from the same business originally interested in discussing American electrical power generation, cybersecurity, risk and evolution of effort on the matter. In fact, it was precisely the exact invitation I had rejected a couple months earlier, just cut and pasted into a new request.

I rejected it for the second time. Again, Maven required a reason. Reason given: Entity — after initial rejection — waited a couple months and refiled with an identical query, one that involved taking an on-line test. I won’t take such tests. Contempt, as I’ve said, is now found at all levels of American business life and it is something that anonymous crowd-sourcing software developed in the Silicon Valley conveys well.

Maven then inquired, could I refer someone to help the client. Absolutely not.

Why would I? Why would anyone? Some corporate entity, anonymous, dealing in bad faith. Just the kind of people you’ll go out of your way to help.

There are no news items on Maven Research, the on-line consulting marketplace, in the current Google News tab. Wonder why?


Is LinkedIn Cheating Employers and Job Seekers Alike?” — at PBS.

The short answer: Why yes, yes it is. You can read why. The critique, from a headhunter, is long and detailed. LinkedIn is, unsurprisingly, just another corporate tech start-up for the business world, one that has degenerated into a scam which pits everyone stupid enough to be in its resume marketplace against everyone.

Again, this is a piece, at the heart of which is a contempt for dealing with people honestly and humanely.

Of interest, a more general observation on corporate human resources operations:

As I’ve written often in the past, I believe the automation of recruiting, job seeking and hiring has exacerbated America’s employment crisis. Online forms and tools like the “apply with LinkedIn button” make it too easy for the wrong applicants to apply for jobs, and harder for employers to find the right ones. But when a job applicant’s position on the stack of resumes can be bought, the search for the best-qualified candidates is even further compromised, and so is our economy.

America’s jobs crisis needs to be looked at as a failure of employers and job boards to ensure an accurate and fair employment process. Blaming unskilled and improperly educated job seekers is a fool’s errand, as Wharton researcher Peter Cappelli demonstrates in his book, “Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It.” The talent is out there; it’s just getting lost in a system that employers have permitted to supplant more sound, accurate recruiting methods and their own good judgment.

Everyone from employers to job seekers to the U.S. Department of Labor should be scrutinizing the mechanics that control recruiting, job seeking and hiring — and how these systems contribute to the employment crisis.

PARIAH: Poor man’s Bob McNamara

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 10:51 am by George Smith

Embiggen, as they say.

Lawmakers and privacy advocates called Friday for reforms and greater transparency in operations of the National Security Agency in response to reports that the highly secretive agency repeatedly violated privacy rules over the years.

The reaction came after The Washington Post reported the violations in Friday’s editions, citing an internal audit and other top-secret documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. —WaPost

Ninety days ago Keith Alexander was using all the publicity tools of the mainstream press to spread the assertion that Chinese cyber-hacking was stealing the country’s future.

The Edward Snowden affair ended that, making him a poor man’s Bob McNamara after the release of the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War.

But it’s radically different today and the times they aren’t a changin’.

The very cool satirical art of PARIAH!


DD’s Law

Posted in Bioterrorism, Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism, Ricin Kooks, War On Terror at 3:11 pm by George Smith

After more than 20 years of writing on specialized matters in national security, I’ve come up with a theorem that works on all things American.

The megastructure that now makes the national security a commodity has completely warped the thinking of Americans, from the top to the bottom.

So much so that it’s evident and can be described in a fairly simple rule, one that describes much of the war on terror and the American business of threat-seeking.

And here it is:

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.

Or, put another way, the probability that something bad will happen, as described or predicted by experts or any government, intelligence or quasi-corporate/government assessment agency, asymptotically approaches zero as it attains widespread use in popular entertainments. (And that’s usually very early in the development cycle.)

Therefore, you can bet your sweet bippy there’s never going to be an electronic Pearl Harbor, or an electromagnetic pulse attack, or a national blackout caused by Chinese hackers, or people dieing from a ricin mailing even though it’s so easy to make. And al Qaeda does not come back from being hided for more than a decade. No one gets a second chance.

Summed up: Too many bad movies, too much bad television, too much fear-making as edutainment, passed off as serious news, advised by bad people slumming from the national security industry, their purpose primarily maximization of employment. Everything touched by it, tainted by an intrinsic badness. And it is definitely not supported by the real world but must be maintained by a uniquely American machinery of manipulations, lies and purposeful technology-mediated confusion.

And thanks to Frank’s Pine View Farm where I’ve been working it out in commentary.

Wishful thinking in the pot just before it boiled

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, War On Terror at 11:45 am by George Smith

While I’m very sympathetic to fellow citizens who think they can innovate jerry-bilt gadgets and miscellaneous consumer goods to fight the US surveillance state, Kickstarter campaigns won’t do it. The US government pays contractors 3,4, and five orders of magnitude more than you’ll ever raise in crowd-sourcing.

From the WaPost, a flavor of tech invention fad news built on the impression that Americans are now shocked, just shocked, over the Snowden affair and just how much of the technology of the war on terror is being directed at them:

“Developed as Adam Harvey’s master’s thesis at New York University, CV Dazzle, named after a type of ship camo used during World War II, is face paint designed to make features undetectable by computer vision algorithms … From there he moved into a line of ‘anti-drone’ garments made of a metallized fabric that traps body heat … Harvey rushed to begin an online Kickstarter fundraising campaign [for a metallized anti-track-your-smartphone case] ahead of schedule. The Kickstarter campaign went active Aug. 2 with a goal of $35,000 … Halfway through the campaign, they have raised more than $44,000.”

It’s too late.

Have to be the deliveryman of bad news: It’s not fixable in my lifetime. The technology of American global security has been turned on the civilian populace because that’s where the money is now.

You didn’t think forever chasing around the feebs in Al Qaeda was going to create enough of a lasting profit margin, did you?

Two months ago 3D-manufactured plastic guns were going to change everything, too. And then there was last week’s spying hardware gadget pest from Malice Afterthought.

America’s so awash in big thinkers and innovating talent, one just can’t understand why there would be 48 million on food stamps and a national growth rate of barely over 1 percent.

Just wait until the HyperLoop goes into action. It’ll be better than flying cars and your evening meal in a pill the size of one dose of Viagra.

In real news, the US is a corporate fascist state where you’re freedom is to shop. Increasingly, that means only the topmost and its allowed servant army.

So here I present th best Let ‘Em Eat Cake in the New America copy this week, easy on “Bespoke” jewelry at the NYT:

“But when she acquired a 10-carat Burmese sapphire earlier this year on a buying trip to Asia, she knew just the client who would want to commission her to transform the rare stone into something unique. It was a woman in her 40s living in TriBeCa who already owned many of Ms. St. Clair’s signature pendants, and had a generous husband who wanted to buy her a gift to mark their 20th wedding anniversary … After several weeks of discussion with the couple, which involved sending multiple sketches and three-dimensional molds, Ms. St. Clair created a ring for a fee, she said, of approximately $350,000.”

Three dimensional molds. Being able to drop $350,000 on a custom-designed bauble renders irrelevant displeasure over the surveillance state.


Internal security threats

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism, Shoeshine at 12:16 pm by George Smith

Excerpts from a talk by Pulitzer-winner Chris Hedges at Chautauqua:

Through a “bombardment of cultural lies and manipulations,??? it has erased every progressive movement from the face of the country.

The system has also created a “psychosis of permanent war,??? Hedges said.

To maintain control over the population, Hedges argued, the U.S. government has done what all empires have done: brought harsh forms of control from the outside to the inside.

“A night raid by a militarized police force in Oakland — command helicopters, searchlights, command vehicles, police in black, Kevlar vests … automatic weapons — looks no different from a night raid in Fallujah [Iraq],??? he said.

Becoming a part of a social movement is the only way to respond to these issues, he said. There is no time to play the game of politics.

And, there is this…


None of the points are new. I’ve made them here in comment, music and art for the past decade. The serious security threats are not external.

Most now seem to innately grasp this with the exceptions of complete morons. And the villains in the matter, who know exactly how things stand.

Al Qaeda whoopie cushions get little traction outside of the mainstream press these days. There’s a reason for it. There’s a silent disbelief and cognitive disconnect.

And Keith Alexander of the National Security Agency has gone from someone parading around with a story about how the US was being pillaged by Chinese cyberespionage to just another apparatchik in a uniform whose job it is to defend the assertions of government and make claims about the foiling of terror plots, claims no one supports who isn’t paid to.

Think about it, again. Two months ago you couldn’t get away from the news about Chinese cyber-spying allegedly stealing the intellectual treasure, military secrets and future of America.

Uploaded August 2011. Two years old now.

Security threat: Republicanado!

Posted in WhiteManistan at 7:27 am by George Smith

The very definition of WhiteManistan:

“It’s a swirling inchoate mass of aging, angry white people — and it’s coming for you!”

Also — PARIAH — The Magazine of American Excellence.


What’s that word? Pariah

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 9:22 am by George Smith

From Charles Blow at the New York Times:

Today’s America — at least as measured by the actions and inactions of the pariahs who roam its halls of power and the people who put them there — is insular, cruel and uncaring.

In this America, people blame welfare for creating poverty rather than for mitigating the impact of it.

“Part of our current condition is obviously partisan,” he continues. “Republicans have become the party of ‘blame the victim.'”

That is putting it mildly. The GOP, when in control, afflicts the afflicted. It’s written into the party’s DNA.

Near the end, an academic who studies attitudes toward poverty:
“It seems like Washington is a place without pity right now.”

Pariah: Blow uses it to describe our alleged leaders. I’ve employed it as the fictional magazine because it’s the only word appropriate.

Sarcastically, pariah is the new ‘cool.’ Pariah means one who is despised. Those pictured are certainly worth despising. They work at it, it affirms them.

This is good editorial art, appropriate to our times. Share it. Download the big images and send them to someone important, like Tom Tomorrow, or your local newspaper’s opinion page.

More of PARIAH.


Today is “Go Armed to Starbucks Day”

Posted in WhiteManistan at 11:11 am by George Smith

Best newspaper web headline this week, easy.

Lede graf:

Gun owners across America plan to on Friday go armed to Starbucks outlets when getting their morning (noon and evening) coffee, as part of an “I Love Guns and Coffee??? campaign, and a show of appreciation to the coffee giant for letting customers pack heat when it accords with state law.

And I can think of nothing more perfect than:

Another day in WhiteManistan: The President says he doesn’t consider Edward Snowden a patriot. But in the meantime a bunch of white dudes insist on going to the Starbucks in Newtown with their guns on their hips. The store closes five hours early to avoid trouble.

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