12.30.16

2016’s favorite tune from Old White Coot

Posted in Bioterrorism, Culture of Lickspittle, Ricin Kooks, Rock 'n' Roll at 1:35 pm by George Smith

Real quote: “Our team got a kick out of the Ricin Mama song,” Assistant US Atty.

The Brief But Amusing life of Ultimate Mentor, Artificial Intelligence

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Phlogiston at 1:32 pm by George Smith

Outline — to be pitched to Amazon/Hulu/Hollywood/Netflix

Episode 1: In which ULTOR, standing for Ultimate Mentor, a secret government artificial intelligence development project, goes operational. The President is given the opportunity to ask the first big question.

Episode 2 of Ultimate Mentor, A.I.: The President: “How do I end inequality & division in America?”

Episode 3 of Ultimate Mentor, A.I.: ULTOR: “Give Americans money to leave for better places. Pay better places to host.”

Episode 4 of Ultimate Mentor, A.I.: All transcripts classified. ULTOR code lobotomized and sold to Uber and Google to drive cars.

This year’s winner of the Culture of Lickspittle trophy…

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 1:21 pm by George Smith

12.28.16

Bogner La Grange: “A how-how-how” in a box

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Phlogiston, Rock 'n' Roll, Sludge in the Seventies at 3:46 pm by George Smith

Small pleasures.

Yeah, and I do do ZZ Top. Binders Full of Women is a humorous rip of something off early LP ZZ.

Downfall

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall, Extremism at 2:47 pm by George Smith

From a book I’m reading over the holiday, “Hitler: Ascent – 1889 – 1939” by Volker Ullrich. You’ll notice there are still a good many differences between these passages and the psychology of 2016-17 America. Still, the Volksgemeinschaft and “storms of applause” resonate.

Excerpted:

“The psychological consequences [of 1930] were overwhelming. The trying experiences of the post-war period of turmoil and hyperinflation had left many Germans without the emotional strength to deal with an economic crisis that exceeded everything that had come before. An apocalyptic mood of hopelessness began to take hold, even among those segments of the populace that were not primarily affected by the Depression. Faith in democratic institutions and democratic political parties dissolved, and anti-parliamentary sentiment, already rife in the Weimar Republic, was given a huge boost. Those in power appeared to have no solutions to the crisis, and the more helpless they seemed to be, the greater the demand became for a ‘strong man,’ a political messiah who would lead Germany out of economic misery and point the way towards renewed national greatness.”


“Hitler’s campaign speeches followed the same pattern. He began with a polemic against the Weimar ‘system’ which he blamed for Germany’s decline and decay, comparing Western parliamentarianism to a ‘worn-out tailcoat.’” Democracy, Hitler claimed, was fundamentally unable to solve Germany’s problems ecause it privileged the rule of the majority over ‘“the authority of personality.’ Hitler then went after the other political parties, which, he claimed, represented only special interests and never the people as a whole. ‘Twelve years of unlimited rule by the old parliamentary parties have turned Germany into an object for exploitation and made it the laughing stock of the entire world,’ Hitler thundered. The NSDAP, he told his audience, represented a ‘new popular German movement’ that overcame class conflicts and the selfish interests of specific social castes: “There is only one movement that recognises the German people as a whole, rather than individual groups, and that movement is ours.” In this respect, the NSDAP was a model for what Hitler had in store for all of Germany: the creation of a Volksgemeinschaft, a racially defined ethnic-popular community. This Hitler defined as a form of social ‘organisation that no longer knows proletarians, bourgeois, farmers, artisans, etc. but rather is constituted by people from all parts of Germany and all groups of [its] population.’ The idea of the Volksgemeinschaft seems to have particularly fascinated Hitler’s audience. He could count on storms of applause every time he invoked it. The concept was inseparably linked with the promise of national revival …”

The author continues, noting further on that it was still be no means certain that Hitler would attain power three years later.

Computer security for the 1 percent

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 2:07 pm by George Smith

From the wire:

Three Chinese citizens have been criminally charged in the United States with trading on confidential corporate information obtained by hacking into networks and servers of law firms working on mergers, U.S. prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Iat Hong of Macau, Bo Zheng of Changsha, China, and Chin Hung of Macau were charged in an indictment filed in Manhattan federal court with conspiracy, insider trading, wire fraud and computer intrusion.

Prosecutors said the men made more than $4 million by placing trades in at least five company stocks based on inside information from unnamed law firms …


Computer security for the Super 1 Percent


Sad:

Today, I’m stunned to see signs of similar neuroses tainting the United States, the country to which my family fled. It’s not in the legitimate discussion over real national security threats, but in the relentless onslaught of helplessness being blared across the news and social media. I see it in groups calling for sanctions on vaguely defined pro-Russian media and peddling apps that block websites that allegedly benefit the Kremlin, like 21-century talismans to protect American minds from infection. I read it in columns that warn of Moscow’s unstoppable information war, the unraveling of democracy and the demise of truth. I see it in the constant assurance that we’re losing. Just as in the Soviet Union, it doesn’t matter how we’re losing or why, or to whom.

“The only relief came in the form of scathing, cynical satire called anekdoty, or anecdotes — anonymous jokes …” it reads.


Big Data uber alles!

12.19.16

Keep playing that good ol’ Russian roll

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 2:52 pm by George Smith

Chris Hedges, at TruthDig, one of the news sites labelled as a Russian tool in a story published by the Washington Post:

Is the Democratic establishment so clueless it believes its party lost the presidential election because of the leaked John Podesta emails and FBI Director James Comey’s decision, shortly before the vote, to send a letter to Congress related to Clinton’s private email server? Can’t the Democratic leadership see that the root cause of the defeat was that it abandoned workers in order to promote corporate interests? Doesn’t it understand that although its lies and propaganda worked for three decades, Democrats eventually lost credibility among those they had betrayed?

The best response? Jeering laughter, rude noises.

Observation: What’s the matter with Democrats?

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall at 2:04 pm by George Smith

From my POV, the Democratic Party is a chicken with its head cut off. I keep getting emails from allegedly local Democratic Party forces. They’re to sign up for meetings to plan “resistance.”

The nearest ones are in Orange County, laughable when you see where Pasadena is. And the numbers are worse. Would you drive from northeast of LA to Irvine to meet with four people to discuss how to form a “resistance” in California. How about eight?

I suspect we don’t need to meet and clutch pearls together in California.

The party does need to find people, and not just the old usuals, to go out to the places in the states where they’re loathed. There will be psychological casualties in the war but they’re going to have to take the punishment and reverse some of the hostility. And they better get to it soon.

“Other Democrats, Obama said, have not been as visible in rural parts of the country and as such, the party has lost touch with those voters,” the President told NPR over the weekend.

“What I am interested in is just developing a whole new generation of talent,” he said.

I agree with him. The young eventually might get the country out of its crisis of leadership. Tall order for short people, though.

On the other hand, I’m 60, white and my demographic isn’t dying quite fast enough, sorry to tell you sir. And the majority went for the other guy, although I didn’t. And the next age tier down went for the other guy too. And they’re going to be alive even longer.

So keep the enthusiasm over the young. But at some point the Democrats are going to have to junk the idea that they can keep throwing people like me away.


Case study: Here’s Old king Bill

“President-elect Donald Trump ‘doesn’t know much,’ former President Bill Clinton told a local newspaper earlier this month, but ‘“one thing he does know is how to get angry, white men to vote for him,’ ” reads Politico.

The guy who once won “angry white people” in a landslide doesn’t realize he’s gone upside down.

Only Hitler, apparently, can speak truth to ex-power. Why? Because he’s Hitler.

12.17.16

“Can you hear me now?”

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 11:02 am by George Smith

Unintentionally hilarious, a list of the “fastest growing” jobs in America, carrying on the illusion that a country of over 300 million people, at least half of which have been left behind, can struggle back to success and revitalize productivity by becoming teeth scrapers, opticians (note, NOT opthamologists) at the mall, “audiologists” (can you hear me now?) and “genetic counselors.”

How many “genetic counselors” do you think we need? These are “advisors” for the wealthy and their upper middle class shoeshiners on who ought to be marriage stock for breeding with so as to have eugenically optimized children. Or advise people on the bad news genetic time bombs that will probably kill them. Quite a career for all the budding Josef Mengeles in the population.

Yes, it’s going to revolutionize the future.

Hey, might as well train to be a foot tech, someone who can scrape feet free of excess horny keratin or someone who makes little tones through headphones so hearing aids to the well off can be prescribed.

It’s just the kind of job market that would be perfect for a wealth hideway, say Monaco, Lichtenstein, Basel in Switzerland or Singapore.

Effin Ay, the future’s so bright you want to claw out your eyes.

12.15.16

“Half of the US got nothing”

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall at 5:12 pm by George Smith

Of the handful of people I know face to face the majority haven’t done particularly well over the last few decades. A smaller number have done OK. They have not exceeded their parents.

But we’re all educated and to my knowledge the majority vote among us was for the famous career civil servant sandbag of the wealthy class. Here I’ve called it the 40 year national slump.

It’s been the experience for my friends. There was never a time when things were getting better unless you consider slight variances in the rate of decline being the equivalent of up.

There’s been the experience of precarious work or no jobs at all. Micro-contract work. Piece work. Free-lance labor with every year a reduction in rates. Layoffs as various industries consolidated. Diminishing opportunities, uncertain futures and certainly no real increases in purchasing power except for a select few. For years, no health insurance or the kind of policy that’s just a rip-off, coverage only for things virtually guaranteed to be bankrupting and terminal.

Want to see my SNAP card?

“Half of the US got nothing” in the last 30 years was the intro to an explosive piece on the NYT homepage last week. That’s 117 milion people. Even the cheerleaders for the plutocracy couldn’t candy coat although they did try.

So why did a tidal wave of “screw you” win the White House for Trump? You figure it out.

The US is now unstable. And it is definitely not a democracy. You could say we’ve had it coming. There’s certainly an argument for it. I prefer to think of it as a bill for mistakes, miscarriages and manipulations in leadership and their role in setting the rules of the economy. The social cost is of epic proportion.

The NYT:

Even with all the setbacks from recessions, burst bubbles and vanishing industries, the United States has still pumped out breathtaking riches over the last three and half decades.

The real economy more than doubled in size; the government now uses a substantial share of that bounty to hand over as much as $5 trillion to help working families, older people, disabled and unemployed people pay for a home, visit a doctor and put their children through school.

Yet for half of all Americans, their share of the total economic pie has shrunk significantly, new research has found.

This group — the approximately 117 million adults stuck on the lower half of the income ladder — “has been completely shut off from economic growth since the 1970s,” the team of economists found. “Even after taxes and transfers, there has been close to zero growth for working-age adults in the bottom 50 percent.”

There was one cheerleader for the system trying to strain lemonade from an ocean of urine: N. Greg Mankiw. In the interest of balance, I’d call him the rich man’s economist.

“As troubling as some may find inequality, it is not necessarily the fault of a rigged system, said N. Gregory Mankiw, an economist at Harvard … ” reads the Times.

“Inequality is a symptom of a variety of things,” Mankiw told the newspaper.

So well said.

Mankiw was briefly a subject of a talk given by Barbara Ehrenreich, author of “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America,” mentioned here a month or so ago:

Ehrenreich: “A certain cleaning staff would go through the garbage to find the Chinese food containers left behind by Harvard students that still contained sme food in them because you could take them home to your kids … whoah. Meanwhile, at the other end at Harvard you had a guy named Greg Mankiw, who was an economics professor, who made it his mission to point out why low wage people couldn’t have higher wages. It would destroy the economy, pure and simple.

“I always debated him on the radio. And in the years since 2002, traveling around the country talking about these issues on different college campuses I began to get the impression the whole purpose of economics departments was to teach kids that whatever is going on in the economic status quo is perfect and how it has to be, so shut up.

“Some fresh guy [would] stand up, ‘Well, we learned in economics, you can’t raise wages.” But [you] can make $100,000 or whatever.

“I began to get really impatient and even, in some places, to go so far as to say, ‘What the hell do they teach at this university?’ Because if they taught math you could figure out that on six dollars/hour you’re not going to live anywhere in the environs of Cambridge, Mass., or any property of any other major university. That’s simple.”


“[Less educated] white voters had a solid economic rationale for voting against the status quo — nearly all the gains from the economic recovery have passed them by,” reads the Times in a related piece.

“There are almost nine million more jobs than there were at the previous peak in November 2007, just before the economy tumbled into recession. But the gains have not been evenly distributed.”

It’s a continuing piece of received wisdom, courtesy of the swells. It was just the “less educated.” If you were educated, you did well.

No, it was many of the well-educated too. And until the establishment, or the people controlling the opinion and analysis big reads begin to get this, the anger will not be abated. The country will continue on into instability, rocked by irrational electoral jolts and setbacks.

Merry Christmas.


Quotable

“We’ve been told in rural America ‘f— you’ by the Clintons before with NAFTA, and with further banking deregulation … and told ‘f— you’ when they said the tech revolution would spread jobs across rural America …” – Dave “Mudcat” Saunders

“Things never got that much better for them. Trade a union job for a fast food or retail job that pays half, and life is pretty bleak. Things got better in cities. Things got better on the West Coast. It would be pretty easy to believe that everything was getting better everywhere but York. They told people to learn to code, but you try to teach a 55-year-old trucker or bricklayer to code and you tell me how far you get.” — Brenden Gallagher, here

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