Tuesday, November 05, 2013

St. Paul on Edward Snowden

St. Paul said that now we see as in a glass, darkly. I find this an excellent prescription for reading the news. For instance, the news about Snowden’s revelations. According to the papers and the Bush – I’m sorry, the Obama, my mistake, sometimes it is so hard to tell one from the other – administration, Snowden’s revelations have harmed the security of the American people, which is protected by the intelligence services. Now, by the simple method of inversing this often repeated phrase, we get to the truth. Did Snowden arm the taliban and the Islamic mercenaries that fought the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s? No, the CIA did. Did Snowden create the international network of paths through which Islamicists were able to spread globally? No, the CIA did. Did Snowden give a visa to Omar Abdel Rahmen, the organizer of the first attack on the WTC in 1994? No, that was an employee of the American embassy in Sudan who, all things considered, was probably bowing to a CIA suggestion, as the so called Blind Mullah had been a collaborter in the great freedom fight in Afghanistan waged by the CIA.Did Snowden distribute pamphlets and give training sessions on how to slip into a superpower to blow up things and cause havoc?  No, that was the CIA, the superpower was the Soviet Union, and the CIA training was about how easy it was to make weapons of mass destruction from scratch to make the superpower suffer.  The CIA was a necessary condition to the attack on 9.11.
But there is so much more! Did Snowden help to overthrow Qasim in Iraq in the Ramadan Revolution of 1963 – an excellent year for the assassination of foreign leaders - and install the Ba’athist party there? No, that was the CIA. Did Snowden help overthrow Mossadegh in Iran, thus paving the way for the return of the Nazi loving Pahlavi family and turning the Iranian population into one that mistrusted and despised Americans? No, that was the CIA.  
This is an easy game to play. Snowden has played no part in putting American lives at risk. He has played no part in creating a permanent war state in the US. One can neither blame, to speak in purely American terms, one of the deaths on 9.11 or one of the casualties of American forces in Afghanistan or Iraq on Snowden. A good case can be made that they are all, absolutely all, traceable to intelligence activity that was secret and vetted by our supposed leaders.
Obviously, the sensible thing to do is to pardon Snowden and imprison our intelligence services. That is, if the real purpose is the security of the American people. But I strongly suspect that the leadership considers the American people to be a “low use” population, as the AEC used to put it about people who were in the path of high amounts of radiation that followed  above ground tests of atomic bombs in Nevada.
That isn’t the purpose, though. Their games are made for their organizations.  Our leaders are in it for themselves, with the same moral credo that any neighborhood Mafia capo would recognize. Obama, Bush, Clinton, Admiral this, General that – all are essentially bound up in the ethics of that capo.
Don’t follow leaders, watch parking meters.

Monday, November 04, 2013

the evolution of ghosts

It has long been my contention that there is no story about life on earth that does not boil down to an evolutionary story. The creationist version of life on earth has, since the 19th century, made large use of the notion of intelligent design – but anybody who knows anything about design knows that it evolves. The intelligent design argument is a mess, since the standards it uses to critique Darwinism are, of course, entirely absent when it tries to construct the meaning of intelligent design. Just as we can trace the evolution of the design of the watch by the material left behind in its wake – diagrams, tools, etc. – so too, if intelligent design were true, we would be able to see the material left behind in its wake – proto-humans, for instance. At this point, intelligent design simply gives up the intelligent part and opts for supernatural design, a design that defies the same physical laws that, on its critique side, intelligent design uses to try to de-legitimate Darwinian evolution.
Of course, creationists aren’t the only ones to ignore the evolutionary nature of all accounts of design. Philosophers, much to my distress, often assume things like zombies without having any sense that a zombie has to come with an evolutionary story, and that has to be packed into their account that a zombie doesn’t sense like a human being. This simply proves that philosophers are bad intelligent designers – something I think Wittgenstein spotted long ago.
At the same time, not all evolution is Darwinian evolution – that is, the statistical effect of selection, while definitely having some effects at the cultural level, does not play the role it plays in Darwinian evolution.  Evolution on the cultural level often takes the form of assemblages that bring together different developmental paths as overlapping associations.
All of which is the wordy and way too wordy intro to what I want to do for a lark: understand the evolution of the ghost shape that one sees, in paper cutouts and cartoons, on Halloween.

olivier blanchard and the free lunch: a comedy of errors

  The neolib economist Oliver Blanchard tweeted a very funny comedy bit, in which he played the part of “social democrat”. And he wrote: “As...