On dealing with social hurricanes (like the US CIA)Contents
* The theme of Tadodaho
* The thirty-seventh anniversary of September 11th CIA-backed coup in Chile
* On the alleged Obama & CIA connection and other connections
* A digression on what I mean by "democratic" oversight
* On thinking about the Obama/CIA connection and how to approach it
* Princeton in the Nation's and the World's service
* Comments on Princeton in the Nation's and World's service
* A digression about what makes the mainstream media mainstream
* In general, money is not the issue
* On dealing with the social hurricane of the CIA
This entire page is an email I sent to some Princeton alums (I added one more section and a couple of minor things afterwards, and reworded a couple of sentences):
Subject: On dealing with social hurricanes & Obama's alleged CIA roots & Princeton in the world's service
Date: Sun, 12 Sep 2010 15:17:29 -0400
From: Paul D. Fernhout To: Harold Helm CC: Joel M Sipress , Harold Feld, Ralph Nader
BCC: Several other Princeton Alumi
This approximately 60 page document is a ramble about ways to ensure the CIA (as well as other big organizations) remains (or becomes) accountable to human needs and the needs of healthy, prosperous, joyful, secure, educated communities. The primarily suggestion is to encourage a paradigm shift away from scarcity thinking & competition thinking towards abundance thinking & cooperation thinking within the CIA and other organizations. I suggest that shift could be encouraged in part by providing publicly accessible free "intelligence" tools and other publicly accessible free information that all people (including in the CIA and elsewhere) can, if they want, use to better connect the dots about global issues and see those issues from multiple perspectives, to provide a better context for providing broad policy advice. It links that effort to bigger efforts to transform our global society into a place that works well for (almost) everyone that millions of people are engaged in. A central Haudenosaunee story-related theme is the transformation of Tadodaho through the efforts of the Peacemaker from someone who was evil and hurtful to someone who was good and helpful. Another theme is exploring the meaning, if true, of a allegation by Wayne Madsen about President Obama's deeper connection to the CIA than was otherwise known.
I place this document under a Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 3.0 license (same as Wikipedia).
Any included material is assumed to be "fair use" in context, or in the case of Woodrow Wilson's remarks, in the public domain; republishers would have to make their own risk assessments about that.
Feel free to rework the ideas in a way that makes more sense to you, or to provide feedback before I put a web page up about this.
The theme of Tadodaho
This essay has a theme of dealing with Tadodaho (a story many people may be unfamiliar with, but it relates to the creation of what is commonly called the Iroquois Confederacy, which in turn, arguably, helped inspire key aspects of the US Constitution).
"The Six Nations: Oldest Living Participatory Democracy on Earth "
This linked page is about the life of Leon Shenandoah, who held the Onondaga title of "Tadodaho", someone I find inspirational:
"Leon Shenandoah, Fire Keeper for the Haudenosaunee 1915-1996 (Onondaga, Eel Clan)"
"In our ways, spiritual consciousness is the highest form of politics. We must live in harmony with the natural world and recognize that excessive exploitation can only lead to our own destruction. We cannot trade the welfare of our future generations for profit... We are instructed to carry love for one another, and to show great respect for all beings of the earth. We must stand together, the four sacred colors of man, as the one family that we are, in the interest of peace... Our energy is the combined will of all people with the spirit of the natural world, to be of one body, one heart, and one mind. (Leon Shenandoah)"
I also live around the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) ancestral lands, and my parents were both immigrants to the USA, so, in a way, from a purely geographical point of view, the history of the Haudenosaunee is as much my history as the history of the local European immigrants from other countries about which I was taught in detail in school and remains celebrated to this day... But why not get the best of both sets of stories?
Here is one telling of the pivotal part of the historic story of the origin of the term "Tadodaho" (related to the creation of the Iroquois Confederacy) also from that page [with a couple typos fixed]:
"Jikonsahseh, the Mother of all Nations, also known as the Peace Queen, called the Peacemaker and Ayonwenta into her house, for she had a plan to bring the Tadodaho under the Great Law of Peace. Jikonsahseh, since she had lived a life like Tadodaho, called the Peacemaker and Ayonwenta, for she had a plan that if they would sing to Tadodaho the special song she taught them that his mind would become be transformed and he would be able to hear the good message. The Peacemaker and his followers went to find the Tadodaho. After a long time they found the Tadodaho in a swamp. His body was dirty and twisted, and it is said that he had snakes woven into his hair that gave him a frightful look. His face bore the look of the cruelty that was in him.
The Cayugas had learned the song that Jikonsahseh had taught them, and they began to sing the song to Tadodaho. However, the Cayugas made a mistake in singing the song, so it did not work. The Peacemaker then sang the song without mistakes, and he sang the song in a strong clear voice. The Peacemaker's singing worked, for the Tadodaho was able to hear the Peacemaker's good message and his twisted mind and body became straightened. Then, Ayonwenta was able to comb the snakes from the hair of the Tadodaho. Although the Tadodaho was wicked, and often thought to be so evil that he appeared not human, the singing released him from the evilness and he listen to, and accepted the Peacemaker's message of the Great Law of Peace. Jikonsahseh knew that the songs and words would heal his mind, and it worked. ..."
A book about Leon Shenandoah's life and sayings (the "song" of his life):
"To Become a Human Being: The Message of Tadodaho Chief Leon Shenandoah"
A quote from the introduction of the book:
"Warriors are held up as heroes. They are praised for their gallantry, exalted for their conquests, and used as symbols to inspire patriotism. Monuments are built for them as reminders of past victories and to prepare citizens for the next campaign. Leon Shenandoah was no warrior, yet no warrior could stand up against his power. He carried no weapons, used no harsh rhetoric, and made no demands. His strength was in gentleness. When he spoke, those around him listened. His words were always soft, his kindness evident. He was a spiritual man."
The rest of this document is offered in that spirit, not that I consider myself in his league. :-) But I can certainly aspire... But without his culture, and his training, and his knowledge of 1000s of years of history, that is an aspiration, as with this overly long document, that may never be fulfilled. But, it is fun to try. And important to try.
It is amazing that a central story of the Haudenosaunee is this story of great sin and redemption, acknowledging that people (and groups of people) can change. So, this document raises the question of, could the people of the CIA, even the torturers, someday be examples of becoming a "Tadodaho"? And, if they were willing to change, could we forgive them, accept them, and integrate them into a healthy community, as the Peacemaker did with the original Tadodaho?
The thirty-seventh anniversary of September 11th CIA-backed coup in Chile
It's mostly just coincidence today is the thirty-seventh anniversary of the September 11th, 1973 CIA-backed coup in Chile,
as well as the ninth anniversary of the tragic events in the USA of September 11th, 2001, leading to an even more tragic response to those events by the USA in the following years. But this essay does try to grapple with those themes. [Well, that was actually yesterday, because I slept on sending this yet another night... Probably just as well as I added a few more key points that transformed the piece a bit. :-)]
I wrote this document mostly with Harold Helm in mind (Zee Source).
I thought I'd CC and BCC it to about a dozen other PU alums (well, one is a PU graduate alum who went to Harvard undergrad. :-) Note there is a different Harold (Feld) in the CC list, one who focuses on "Public Knowledge". I know it is so long I doubt any of you will have time to read it in its entirety, or probably even at all. Still, I like knowing there are some copies of it out there of it, given the main point and the general topic. Feel free to disclaim any interest in it. :-)
And sorry it is 186K, although that's really just the size of a typical photograph attachment these days. :-) I always felt more like an '86er than an '85er as a transfer student from SUNY SB, too. :-) The last tenth of it (comparing the CIA to a hurricane point-by-point, with suggestions to minimizing that organization's torturous fury) might be of some general interest. Somewhere in the middle is almost the entire text of Woodrow Wilson's speech on Princeton in the Nation's and World's service, :-) which also adds a lot to the length, but is probably something every PU alum should have a copy of somewhere. :-)
Essentially, this is just another reorganization of my thoughts, with the same themes showing up as in Post-Scarcity Princeton, but in a different organizational structure, condensing around a different informational grain of dust than a PAW article (especially now that PU has finally stopped sending PAW after repeated requests -- including in relation as a protest to the censorship of Harold Helm). In this case, my thoughts are condensing around the allegation of a strong historic link between Barack Obama and the CIA, related to a link Harold Helm (Zee Source) sent me.
This also follows on my asking the EFF the other day to take a look at this ethical quagmire I am proposing:
"The need for FOSS intelligence tools for sensemaking etc."
A key point from that linked post:
As I see it, there is a race going on. The race is between two trends. On the one hand, the internet can be used to profile and round up dissenters to the scarcity-based economic status quo (thus legitimate worries about privacy and something like TIA). On the other hand, the internet can be used to change the status quo in various ways (better designs, better science, stronger social networks advocating for things like a basic income, all supported by better structured arguments like with the Genoa II approach) to the point where there is abundance for all and rounding up dissenters to mainstream economics is a non-issue because material abundance is everywhere. So, as Bucky Fuller said, whether is will be Utopia or Oblivion will be a touch-and-go relay race to the very end. While I can't guarantee success at the second option of using the internet for abundance for all, I can guarantee that if we do nothing, the first option of using the internet to round up dissenters (or really, anybody who is different, like was done using IBM computers in WWII Germany) will probably prevail. So, I feel the global public really needs access to these sorts of sensemaking tools in an open source way, and the way to use them is not so much to "fight back" as to "transform and/or transcend the system". As Bucky Fuller said, you never change thing by fighting the old paradigm directly; you change things by inventing a new way that makes the old paradigm obsolete.
And also another essential point from there:
As with that notion of "mutual security", the US intelligence community needs to look beyond seeing an intelligence tool as just something proprietary that gives a "friendly" analyst some advantage over an "unfriendly" analyst. Instead, the intelligence community could begin to see the potential for a free and open source intelligence tool as a way to promote "friendship" across the planet by dispelling some of the gloom of "want and ignorance" (see the scene in "A Christmas Carol" with Scrooge and a Christmas Spirit) that we still have all too much of around the planet. So, beyond supporting legitimate US intelligence needs (useful with their own closed sources of data), supporting a free and open source intelligence tool (and related open datasets) could become a strategic part of US (or other nation's) "diplomacy" and constructive outreach.
So, with this long email, one can now officially say this alum has "jumped the shark". :-)
If it was not clear before. :-)
I'll probably eventually put a version of this up on my website at some point, maybe with Harold Helm's name edited out if he wants (and no CC list, of course) and maybe softening a bit of all the personal paranoia. :-)
So, any comments before then are appreciated, seeing this as a "preprint".
I know it is a bit nutty. :-) And I've probably said some things I don't really mean or will regret in the morning. :-)
Still, not that this proves anything, because most nutty stuff is just nutty, but as Albert Einstein said: "If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it."
And I admit, it is a pretty absurd thought to think the CIA could be reformed to be a better fit for a democracy, especially from just one long email from a guy who obviously is not a very good editor. :-) But, as part of a more general push that has been ongoing for a very long time, I hope it contributes a little towards that end.
I can hope it might help with reigning in related organizations, too; example:
On the alleged Obama & CIA connection and other connections
First, a book that I'm not sure mentions such a direct connection(?), but may provide some other interesting background (I have not read it):
On 9/6/10 6:22 AM, a PU alum wrote me: > [written by Wes Tarpely '66 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Webster_Tarpley ] > http://www.amazon.com/Barack-H-Obama-Unauthorized-Biography/dp/0930852818
From a review there:
As a man who ultimately does not know who he is, this is the tragedy of Obama and America potentially, where his great talents are wasted by the very decadence of those around him and the doctrines of political and philosophical nihilism violence that surround his upbringing. Obama's own celebration of his alienation and privileged victimization has been engineered into a compelling egotistical aggrandizement that has spawned a very dangerous mass movement based on empty slogans.
(A comment in reply to that suggests that the information in the book on the Weather Underground is inaccurate, btw. Perhaps not the only aspect of the book that is not correct? :-)
As Michelle Obama's sociology senior thesis at PU points out, in the context of African-American PU students in the 1980s, Princeton (like any elite school) alienates most young people from their roots. And, in that sense, themselves? I discussed this at length in "Post-Scarcity Princeton".
Still, I can also guess that there is some truth more in the middle, too. Michelle and Barack Obama may genuinely want to do some reforms but feel stymied by various forces arrayed against them. Like was said here by Ralph Nader:
"Now Make Me Do It"
"It is up to the people of our country to "make him do it" whether this year or next. A mere one million immediate calls to members of Congress by one million assertive citizens will start sobering up these legislators who think they can get away with another sale of our public trust."
Did we make Obama do sick-care-for-all? Nope. So, to what extent are people like Bush or even Obama more symptoms than problems? Both in electoral choices and then not insisting on accountability?
Although, it is a feedback cycle, because the people in power shape public opinion to some extent, and then opinion elects a new set of leaders, and so on, as a sort of self-sustaining social storm (more on that later). But, it is not like the information is not out there if you dig a bit, as there are genuinely good things still about our democracy and the USA.
Example from Prof. G. William Domhoff's "Who Rules America" site:
Based on these findings, it seems likely that everyday people don't opt for social change in good part because they don't see any plausible way to accomplish their goals, and haven't heard any plans from anyone else that make sense to them. But why don't they just say "the hell with it" and head to the barricades? Why aren't they "fed up?" The answer is not in their false consciousness or a mere resigned acquiescence, as many leftists seem to believe, but in a very different set of factors. On the one hand, for all the injustices average Americans experience and perceive, there are many positive aspects to everyday life that make a regular day-to-day existence more attractive than a general strike or a commitment to building a revolutionary party. They have loved ones they like to be with, they have hobbies and sports they enjoy, and they have forms of entertainment they like to watch. In fact, many of them also report in surveys that they enjoy their jobs even though the jobs don't pay enough or have decent benefits. (And as of late 2005, 93% of individuals earning over $50,000 a year describe themselves as "doing well.") They also understand that they have some hard-won democratic rights and freedoms inherited from the past that are much more than people in many other countries have. They don't want to see those positive aspects messed up. ... It is these alternative issues, both positive and negative, rooted in their own lives and experiences, not a false consciousness created by the capitalists' ideological hegemony, that explain why most Americans don't rebel -- or even vote their pocketbook -- most of the time. In short, the theorists of consciousness may be serious thinkers, and they work at a level that is very attractive to most leftists, but they are wrong when it comes to understanding why positive social change does not happen. They have misconstrued the problem, which has to do with structures of power and life circumstances and the compelling nature of everyday life, not the chains of consciousness. They have misunderstood everyday people, and in effect blamed them for the failures of the left, even though at the theoretical level it seems like they are blaming the overwhelming powers of the dominant class or power elite. They have made the people the problem instead of considering the possibility that what the left offers does not make any sense to most people. ...
I disagree somewhat with the last aspect of that, because I think many of our actions flow from the intellectual mythologies we believe in -- though I do not want to deny the perceptive truths in what G. William Domhoff wrote, either, in that what the left offers as solutions (endless compulsory schooling? endless bureaucracy? endless high taxes for no obvious benefit?) can seem very undesirable. It is my hope that as more people have a chance to connect the dots for themselves, see the world from a variety of perspectives, and envision a better future for themselves and their family, then more alternative ways of being will be tried, with many of them are just about reconnecting with much older roots in ways that finally make sense to the individuals involved and are appropriate to their unique circumstances.Now, this is nothing new, in the sense that you can look at movements like organic gardening, homeschooling, civil rights, and so on that have made or are making substantial social changes. And historically, many European colonists coming to America went off to join the Native Americans once they realized that the Native way of life in some tribes was, at the time, much better than what European culture had to offer (which was often just years of indentured servitude, intolerance, greed, insecurity, and so on). I'm just wondering what it would take to speed some of this along in a healthy way, especially given IMHO we face huge existential threats from all the advanced technology we have created (examples, nuclear weapons, bioweapons, military robots, and even just bureaucracy out of control as in the movie Brazil), and a healthy joyful educated networked society would have a higher chance of dealing well with those existential risks.
However, to connect the dots or participate you need free time, which most people don't seem to have because they are so busy working or raising a family (or don't think they have, or let TV etc. soak it up). See:
"Gin, Television, and Social Surplus"
The transformation from rural to urban life was so sudden, and so wrenching, that the only thing society could do to manage was to drink itself into a stupor for a generation. The stories from that era are amazing-- there were gin pushcarts working their way through the streets of London. And it wasn't until society woke up from that collective bender that we actually started to get the institutional structures that we associate with the industrial revolution today. Things like public libraries and museums, increasingly broad education for children, elected leaders--a lot of things we like--didn't happen until having all of those people together stopped seeming like a crisis and started seeming like an asset. ...
The Greeks (even, later, Thomas Jefferson in a different way? :-) talked about this, the need for essentially gentlemen farmers, with lots of slaves toiling on their behalf in the fields, mines, workshops, and kitchens, which would give those farmers the free time they needed to be good citizens and even just good friends. As Marshall Sahlins talks about in "The Original Affluent Society", hunter/gatherers had another approach towards abundance of simplicity which required much less (or no) slavery (ignoring how women probably did more of the repetitive work). We may not want to go back to hunter/gatherer technology, and we may not be able to and still support our entire population. Still, modern robotics now makes a life with more free time possible for every human on the planet (ignoring robotic rights, depending on how we design them), but we have not yet, as a global society, accepted that paradigm shift, a shift happening as we move from forcing other human to do our dirty or boring work towards building machines to do the dirty or repetitive work or just redesigning it out of the system, or just doing a bit of it through a voluntary social network as fun. Related:
"The Abolition of Work" by Bob Black, 1985
Still, overall, that Amazon comment has the ring of truth from a Post-Scarcity Princeton paradigm-shifting perspective.
Essentially Barack (and Michelle) played a game, and they got to the White House (and we all play many games in our lives, hopefully infinite ones).
"James P. Carse, Religious War In Light of the Infinite Game, SALT talk"
Between the two, I'd say Michelle is doing more with what is possible in her role now than Barack is doing with what is possible in his. Maybe a PU education is good for something, after all? :-)
If Michelle just had an emphasis on vitamin D, too... See my comment on: "White House Fingers PlayStation As Obesity Culprit"
Of course, Michelle has the easier job in the sense that she can pick what single issue she wants to talk about, whereas the president is confronted with everything.
As Langdon Winner suggested in "Autonomous Technology: Technics-out-of-control as a Theme in Political Thought", humans are to a bureaucracy as are vacuum tubes to an old-fashioned TV. If a person in a bureaucratic role is not performing according to specifications, he or she is detected and replaced, even if the "tube" is the CEO or president of the organization.
Now, that's not 100% true, as people can change the nature of organizations they from the inside or the outside, but it is hard, and there is little training for that. One place:
Disrupting old patterns of action, catalyzing global change and transforming systems – these outstanding global social entrepreneurs have emerged as beacons of inspiration in the citizen sector. Ashoka’s Social Entrepreneurship Series is an exciting 16-program film series featuring Ashoka and six founding members of Ashoka’s Global Academy of Social Entrepreneurship. These include BRAC’s Fazle Abed, Ashoka’s Bill Drayton, Transparency International’s Peter Eigen, Ethos Institute and the World Social Forum’s Oded Grajew, Social Accountability International’s Alice Tepper Marlin, and Grameen Bank’s Muhammad Yunus.
Still, the filtering process in organizations is all part of "What Makes The Mainstream Media Mainstream".
The universities, for example, are not independent institutions. There may be independent people scattered around in them but that is true of the media as well. And it’s generally true of corporations. It’s true of Fascist states, for that matter. But the institution itself is parasitic. It’s dependent on outside sources of support and those sources of support, such as private wealth, big corporations with grants, and the government (which is so closely interlinked with corporate power you can barely distinguish them), they are essentially what the universities are in the middle of. People within them, who don’t adjust to that structure, who don’t accept it and internalize it (you can’t really work with it unless you internalize it, and believe it); people who don’t do that are likely to be weeded out along the way, starting from kindergarten, all the way up. There are all sorts of filtering devices to get rid of people who are a pain in the neck and think independently. Those of you who have been through college know that the educational system is very highly geared to rewarding conformity and obedience; if you don’t do that, you are a troublemaker. So, it is kind of a filtering device which ends up with people who really honestly (they aren’t lying) internalize the framework of belief and attitudes of the surrounding power system in the society. The elite institutions like, say, Harvard and Princeton and the small upscale colleges, for example, are very much geared to socialization. If you go through a place like Harvard, most of what goes on there is teaching manners; how to behave like a member of the upper classes, how to think the right thoughts, and so on.
I consider it a mark of shame that it took so long for me to get weeded out, marking me as a person who is very smart in some ways but very dumb in other more important ones.
The filtering and labelling process also is an aspect of how our professional networks end up as broken as they are even when they are functioning "perfectly".
A late PU prof of mine, Jim Beniger, wrote a book on an aspect of this:
"Trafficking in Drug Users".
He takes as an example of this phenomenon the dramatic appearance of the 'drug problem' in America in the Vietnam war era of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Exploiting this as an approximation of an experimentally induced disruption of society, Professor Beniger examines its impact on the interorganizational and professional networks that together constitute a system for the control of a social deviance. His study produces the startling finding that as various rewards - raises in salary, promotions, government funds, media exposure, enhanced status - accrued to the new social problem, many drug specialists gained increasing stake in the very deviance they were professionally charged to control. Societal control of the drug problem became transformed - quite literally - into a trafficking by professionals in young drug users.
Or, the military equivalent, which is the a war like in Iraq is *supposed* to be a quagmire. See:
That comment above on the Obama biography also links with something Harold Helm recently sent me on Obama's CIA ties, an article citing a report by Wayne Madsen:
"Obama and His Family Tied to CIA for Years" by Sherwood Ross
See also, for the full text of what Wayne Madsen wrote:
"Far from being the mere ‘son of a goat herder’ (as he deceptively paraded during and even before his candidacy), strong evidence has emerged that President Barack Obama is the product of the intelligence community. Investigative reporter and former NSA employee Wayne Madsen has put together an extensive three-part (and growing) series with conclusive proof and documentation that Barack Obama Sr., Stanley Ann Dunham, Lolo Soetoro and President Barack Obama himself all hold deep ties to the CIA and larger intelligence community. And that’s just the beginning. ..."
Just to note, both as a personal disclaimer and as perspective on how Wayne Madsen writes and sees the world, this is what he has to say about stuff I've been connected with: :-)
"Personal DataBase Thefts... USMil/Intel Black Bag Jobs"
However, according to Wired magazine, the TIA's clone has been developed, in conjunctions with Poindexter's former assistants at IAO, by the government of Singapore, one of the most invasive governments in the world when it comes to personal surveillance. The new TIA, called Risk Assessment and Horizon Scanning (RAHS), was unveiled. In January, Poindexter joined the board of BrightPlanet, a Sioux Falls-based company that markets one of the most invasive data mining systems in the world and has the U.S. Intelligence Community as a priority target in its marketing plans. Poindexter's Total Information Awareness System is back, with chopsticks. ... Wired reports that two of Poindexter's chief assistants at IAO, John Peterson of the Arlington Institute, and Dave Snowden. Were top consultants on developing RAHS. Snowden is Chief Scientific Officer for Cognitive Edge, a Singapore company that developed RAHS. The RAHS system is scheduled to be deployed as a massive data mining program by the Singapore government and will scan data from medical information to raw surveillance data.
Although see also David Snowden's blog (I don't think it would be accurate to call him anyone's "assistant", btw):
However Wired manages to wander off the rails to fantasy land with its reporting of the RAHS project. I realised when they contacted me that there was a danger of them choosing to sensationalize the project by linking it to the Total Information Awareness (TIA) project in DARPA and the name of John Poindexter. So right up front I explained the difference. There had been two DARPA projects, working off two very different philosophies. One (TIA) sought to obtain and search all possible data to detect the possibility of terrorist events. That raised civil liberties concerns and much controversy in the USA leading to resignations and programme closure. A parallel program Genoa II took a very different philosophy, based on understanding nuanced narrative supporting the cognitive processes of decision makers and increasing the number of cultural and political perspectives available to policy makers. I was a part of that program, and proud to be so. It also forms the basis of our work for RAHS and contains neither the approach, not the philosophy of TIA.
And a bit on my wife's involvement on all that, again by way of disclaimer:
But, see also the prologue of Vernor Vinge's "A Fire Upon the Deep": :-)
"Of course [the humans] suspect. But what can they do? It's an old evil they've awakened. Till it's ready, it will feed them lies, on every camera, in every message from home."
Thought ceased for a moment as a shadow passed across the nodes they used. The overness was already greater than anything human, greater than anything humans could imagine. Even its shadow was something more than human, a god trolling for nuisance wildlife. The the ghosts were back, looking out upon the school yard underground. So confident the humans, a little village they had made there.
"Still," though the hopeful one, the one who had always looked for the craziest outs, "we should not be. The evil should long ago have found us."
"The evil is young, barely three days old."
"Still. We exist. It proves something. The humans found more than a great evil in this archive."
"Perhaps they found *two*."
"Or an antidote." Whatever else, the overness was missing some things, and misinterpreting others. "While we exist, when we exist, we should do what we can." ...
How does one (legally) fight evil on a global scale that is essentially "an abstraction that has escaped its handlers", like in that sci-fi novel, or like John Taylor Gatto talks about using those words in reference to mainstream compulsory schooling, or might have been used to describe the European invasion of North America (destroying what in many ways was a superior social culture in some areas through "guns, germs, and steel"), or could equally be applied to much of a counterproductive US national security doctrine that focuses on unilateral extrinsic security instead of mutual intrinsic security?
That Vinge book also just goes to show how high the stakes may be, as it talks about a galaxy spanning network of life... My comments:
"[tt] [Open Manufacturing] My hypothetical H+ Summit presentation :-)"
Is the Singularity like Harry Potter's "Mirror of Erised"? ("Erised" is "Desire" spelled backwards.) What would we see in the mirror if we are a financially successful capitalist (hint, hint)? Does capitalist ideology dominate "mainstream" singularity thinking? What is the danger of seeing capitalism and competing over scarce resources as the way to build the future of abundance? Or could we see cooperation, or at least, balance, a better way forward to a world that works for everyone, and where the capacity to collectively create, monitor, and respond outweighs the individual or collective ability to destroy and harm?
More on Wayne Madsen:
Just a little factoid mentioned there, if true, about Wayne Madsen's grandmother, to suggest how it might shape (or bias) his views about the US government: "In the 1950s Victoria Madsen was deported by the FBI after attempting to organise hospital employees into a union."
Although I include that more to say something about the US government historically than about Wayne Madsen. :-)
By the way, one person on the CC list, a professor, was put on a Secret Service list supposedly just for organizing a protest against GW Bush; see:
I've heard it said that you are not doing your job as a citizen if you are not on some list somewhere. :-)
That Obama revelation, as well as that comment on the unauthorized biography about Obama, is really what motivates the rest of this, whether it is all true or not. There's probably at least a big dose of exaggeration and guilt-by-association, I'd suggest, same as in his comments on RAHS and David Snowden, but ultimately, it may not really matter whether he got all the facts right, because the fact that the CIA and other large organizations (including multinational corporations) shape our world in various ways with very little "democratic" oversight is pretty undeniable it seems to me.
A digression on what I mean by "democratic" oversight
I should be careful in how I use a phrase like "democratic", because I don't want to give the impression I'm endorsing democracy as uneducated uncivilized mob rule (and obviously in the US, the Constitution protects the rights of the minority to some degree, etc.). I don't know what kind of government might be best for whatever unique situation, and I'm not going to say whether one culture or one education process stands above all others. Is the Netherlands a "democracy" if it has a queen with special privileges, for example? Is Iraq better off now that it is in pieces than when it was under Saddam Hussein as a dictator but with a functioning civil service and safe streets for women, etc.? Is Singapore a democracy when it has a lot of restrictions on public discussions and yet has managed to hold together a diverse collections of ethnicities and religions in a very small area? And so on... But it seems to me a "democracy" or whatever I mean has to be a government that is engaged in helping the population be healthy, prosperous, diverse, joyful, networked, and reasonably secure. So, I kind of use "democratic" as a stand-in for that kind of accountability, but it might not really be the best term to use, especially, since in practice, so many issues get handed over to those who really seem to care about them or know something about them, which ends up meaning a republic or some other complex form or governance. Or even, in some cases, an enlightened despot.
I guess I'm mostly arguing for reasonably "accountable" government. In contrast, say to this:
"They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45"
What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it. This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.
It is difficult (but maybe not impossible) to imagine a real government more remote than one that would be defined by a secretive CIA (the fictional one in Stanislaw Lem's Eden is more remote, just to show it is possible -- you could not even talk about the fact that a government existed on Eden). However, remoteness does not ensure something is evil. It just is problematical for many reasons.
To the extent the CIA is just another bureaucracy in Washington, D.C., we would, if this was all true, just have unelected civil servants running the US government, as satirized in this British comedy which is actually very laudatory about that situation (and said to be a favorite of Margaret Thatcher):
Isn't the whole point of someplace like, say, PU's Woodrow Wilson School to supply such "enlightened" civil servants to all areas of government?
(PU has had a long connection with three letter agencies, of course.)
And, one can ask to what degree the USA (or many other counties) in practice have always been mostly run by its civil service as essentially an unelected (but highly filtered) elite? Even if the average civil servant is not a figurehead in the news... China had its civil service system for thousands of years, as did various water empires. Still, this is not to celebrate darkness or secrecy, or to excuse ignorance, torture, or other problematical behavior among civil servants. I'm just trying to put this revelation, if true, in some bigger realistic perspective.
Also, in the long term, I think our social forms may change in such a way that a civil service may not be so important (like if we move more towards a gift economy or stronger local communities that were more self-reliant through 3D printing and agricultural robotics and solar panels and so on). So, I can wonder how much the civil service may change (or wither) in response to ongoing trends. Thus raising the issue, of, even if this is true, how significant is it going forward?
Maybe I should not say this, because it may seem self-serving because I've done well on some standardized tests, but raised in the USA in mainstream schools and then going to PU, even with all my difficulties along the way, I don't especially object to having a somewhat elitist and hierarchical civil service running some things. I know that may sound elitist, but I've met many kind, competent, and responsible people along the way including at several universities (even as one can comment on the social dynamics that limit how they can express their kindness, competence, or responsibility). Still, elitist or not, I'm not that concerned here with my own position in whatever hierarchy (I can't say I have no interest -- I am human after all, and I like to feel I am at least recognized for my contributions). While I know many people around the globe do not have this, all I want is, like the Raffi song, "All I Really Need", is to live in an OK house, eat healthy vegetables, do some meaningful work, have some friends, have some fun times, have access to some basic medical care if I have an accident or other misfortune, and see my child grow up OK, etc.. I would not be taking action as far as writing this and other things if I did not think our country had gone seriously off the rails or was not facing huge ongoing risks (like still from nuclear war, that everyone seems to have forgotten about, except we still have thousands of missiles ready to go on a moment's notice, but also now bioweapons, nanoweapons, military robotics, and so on). Really, I'm happy to be a conformist if that which I am asked to conform to is at all near reasonable, healthy, and joyful. Obviously, otherwise I would not have gotten into PU (which is sort of a badge of a certain type of conformity). My concern is that what I am being asked to conform to by mainstream US society or stated military doctrine (unilateral dominance, little emphasis on resiliency or sustainability) is unhealthy, unreasonable and, frankly, not much fun. So, I'm suggesting, our mainstream society itself has "jumped the shark". :-) And it probably did it at least about sixty years ago, when Einstein said: "The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking."
Still, even if with a PU degree I have some documented probably life-long elitist leanings, I do object to have an elitist hierarchy that is not accountable or that abuses its power in other ways (like torturing for kicks, including when it jeopardizes US security since it is a major recruiting tool around the world). So, I object to an elite that does not emphasize intrinsic mutual security (around the globe). I object to an elite that does not emphasize health (around the globe). And I object to an elite that does not emphasize joy (around the globe, and beyond).
Now, accountability may imply or require certain forms (thus the argument for some form of democracy as the worst solution except for all the others), but that is a different issue. Other cultures may well have a focus on intrinsic mutual security, health, and joy in their own ways, and I am willing to accept that, accepting that all human societies are going to have their inequities and foibles, which ultimately will change at their own pace, if they do change, mostly from internal dynamics or from seeing other good examples elsewhere.
A big issue right now is "rankism". As is said here:
Rankism is a term coined by physicist, educator, and citizen diplomat Robert W. Fuller. Fuller has defined rankism as: "abusive, discriminatory, or exploitative behavior towards people who have less power because of their lower rank in a particular hierarchy". Fuller claims that rankism also describes the abuse of the power inherent in superior rank, with the view that rank-based abuse underlies many other phenomena such as bullying, racism, sexism, and homophobia.
But objecting to rankism is not the same as objecting to all (earned) rank or all systems where status of various sorts plays some role. But rankism is about lack of "accountability" as well as abuse of privilege and power.
Torturing a prisoner just because you can, on a flimsy excuse you are going to get some "intelligence" out of it is, essentially, a form of rankism.
Still, not all abuse comes from a few bad apples. We can have persistent systems of abuse. We can have, in John Taylor Gatto's words: "an abstraction that has escaped its handlers". That's a term he used in relation to public schooling, but could equally apply to other government aspects. Reference:
"Before you can reach a point of effectiveness in defending your own children or your principles against the assault of blind social machinery, you have to stop conspiring against yourself by attempting to negotiate with a set of abstract principles and rules which, by its nature, cannot respond. Under all its disguises, that is what institutional schooling is, an abstraction which has escaped its handlers. Nobody can reform it. First you have to realize that human values are the stuff of madness to a system; in systems-logic the schools we have are already the schools the system needs; the only way they could be much improved is to have kids eat, sleep, live, and die there."
Obviously, the same could be said about the CIA or many other government organizations. Still, Gatto may be a bit too pessimistic. Organizations do change. There are lots of examples of that. As Howard Zinn said:
"The Optimism of Uncertainty"
"In this awful world where the efforts of caring people often pale in comparison to what is done by those who have power, how do I manage to stay involved and seemingly happy? I am totally confident not that the world will get better, but that we should not give up the game before all the cards have been played. The metaphor is deliberate; life is a gamble. Not to play is to foreclose any chance of winning. To play, to act, is to create at least a possibility of changing the world. There is a tendency to think that what we see in the present moment will continue. We forget how often we have been astonished by the sudden crumbling of institutions, by extraordinary changes in people's thoughts, by unexpected eruptions of rebellion against tyrannies, by the quick collapse of systems of power that seemed invincible. What leaps out from the history of the past hundred years is its utter unpredictability. This confounds us, because we are talking about exactly the period when human beings became so ingenious technologically that they could plan and predict the exact time of someone landing on the moon, or walk down the street talking to someone halfway around the earth."
Perhaps what should be a biggest concern about the CIA, despite its objectionable history (including major intelligence failures), is probably that it is potentially weak in the face of so many ongoing issues about socio-technological change. What if the CIA is in danger of sudden collapse internally? That might be a very bad thing, because then all the problematical inclinations the CIA staff may have internally, the paranoia, the frustration, the anger, the sense of helpless drowning in an ocean of information, the endless double-triple-quadruple-etc binds of analysis paralysis, that it does keep in check to some extent through ethical and practical conduct guidelines, might metastasize globally. :-( Iraq being a prime example of what can happen when the shaky core of a society on the edge is disrupted... So, I think it is not unreasonable, from the outside, to sincerely have some good wishes for that agency's health and welfare -- especially if it is selecting presidents. And if the CIA were to be replaced entirely, basically reworking governance in the USA if Wayne Madsen's report was to be believed, the deep question has to be, as was not asked for Iraq before the invasion, replace it with what?
On thinking about the Obama/CIA connection and how to approach it
Reading that about Obama and roots going way back with his family and the CIA, if true, I can ask, is it really news in the sense that the intelligence community is interwoven with governance? We (the People) all knew that, right? Also, people blame the CIA for things (and they well may be right to criticize), but the fact is, the CIA is under (nominal) direction from elected officials who are elected by We the People... Even though, as I said, various government agencies are interwoven with politics in various ways.
See Manuel DeLanda on meshworks and hierarchies and the interwoven nature of them in reality.
"Indeed, one must resist the temptation to make hierarchies into villains and meshworks into heroes, not only because, as I said, they are constantly turning into one another, but because in real life we find only mixtures and hybrids, and the properties of these cannot be established through theory alone but demand concrete experimentation."
So, we get a really complex form of governance... And the CIA is part of that. And then the question is, how can you affect that form of governance in a responsible, joyful, healthy, and compassionate way? How do you take a mean "Tadodaho" CIA (and NSA and FBI and DHS and so on, to the extent those organizations may have their own issues) that we all may fear and turn it into a reformed "Tadodaho" that we all respect for other reasons like cooperative contributions to our community? And sincerely reformed, not just pretending? How do we do that in a way that contributes to encouraging such an organization to act in ways that promote a healthy democracy and display some accountability? How do we do that safely-enough knowing there are some nasty torture-loving people hiding behind the secrecy (despite the fact torture as a policy makes US Americans less safe because it makes people hate the USA)? Lots of people want to do something in that regard. But it is hard to get a handle on the entire situation, which is the major reason why I wrote this, to supply a different perspective on that.
Related to support that point on torture being harmful to US security:
"Torture? It Probably Killed More Americans Than 9/11 "
Which links to a book by an Air Force officer:
"How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq"
And from a comment there entitled "A transcendent read":
"I can see why the book ruffled some feathers--it is a complete rejection of the ways of old, and the new methods expressed in it could certainly raise some eyebrows. Creating relationships and developing mutual respect seems counter intuitive when dealing with mass murders. Why show respect to people who would just as easily blow you up as they would sit in a room with you? And indeed, the author's inner turmoil over this point, combined with his persistent dedication to the cause (nailing Al Zarqawi) and trust in new methods of interrogation, is one of the more compelling subplots of the book. ... To make it even more interesting, the new methods aren't even entirely accepted by the other members of the interrogation team, who prefer control tactics instead--the office politics--set in a warzone--remind us that old ways die hard. ..."
Note however that Al Zarqawi was ultimately killed, not either reformed or given life imprisonment, and with his execution done without a trial:
And he is now seen by some as a martyr. This is not to defend anything he did, just to question what we ourselves might become in the process of dealing with someone like him, as well as the practical implications as well. Protecting *ourselves* and our own self-image can be one big benefit of following the rule of law, so as not to become (or be seen as) that which we claim to despise. The Peacemaker did not kill Tadodaho. The Peacemaker transformed the situation and Tadodaho into something better for all involved (even Tadodaho).
What I outline here has aspects of an approach also based on mutual respect, with the end to have the CIA and other agencies change in fundamental ways to make them more appropriate institutions to support healthy, secure, and joyful 21st century democracies.
Obviously, some think that is impossible to improve the CIA to be part of a healthy democracy. This is by the same author of the Obama CIA piece that cited the Wayne Madsen report:
"The CIA: Beyond Redemption and Should Be Terminated"
But until that ever happens, as I suggest here:
And from something I wrote last year on the OpenVirgle list, on our three advantages as a group there, which probably apply equally well here and now:
"Our biggest advantage is that no one takes us seriously. :-)
And our second biggest advantage is that our communications are monitored, which provides a channel by which we can turn enemies into friends. :-)
And our third biggest advantage is we have no assets, and so are not a profitable target and have nothing serious to fight over amongst ourselves. :-)"
Let's hope those advantages all hold true for a long time. :-)
Maybe I'm trying to make the OM list the post-scarcity social consciousness raising equivalent for global intelligence analysts of "The Funniest Joke In the World"?
"The Funniest Joke in the World" is the title most frequently used for written references to a Monty Python's Flying Circus comedy sketch, which is
also known by two other phrases that appear within it, "Joke Warfare" and "Killer Joke", the latter being the most commonly used spoken title used to refer to it. The premise of the sketch is that the joke is so funny that anyone who reads or hears it promptly dies from laughter. ... The translation is given to British soldiers who do not speak German, because not understanding what they are saying is the only way to survive reading the joke aloud."
Although, obviously, that is a metaphor, and my objective is analysts
being reborn mentally as post-scarcity beings instead of any dying physically as depicted in that comedy sketch. The best way to deal with potential enemies is to make them into friends, a strategy idea lost on the previous US administration. That is why the USA has so many more enemies than it used to have compared to the 9/11 days of "We are all Americans":
"We are all Americans"
Anyway, my time to post much here grows short as I focus on other
money-making things myself (while waiting for a global basic income :-), so I mention that concept of indirectly playing with the CIA for others here to remember, on the assumption they are monitoring your communications. :-) Even as mentioning it may make the effort less effective. Or does it? :-)
It's amusing to me to think about how difficult analyzing everything I
posted here would be for a CIA analyst, even before they realize who else is Princeton '85. :-) Hint: the last class letter I got the other day made a point of saying a copy went to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. That little fact is likely to slow down the CIA's social network analysis software some. :-)
Just a random quirk of fate? :-)
My advice to people here is to build movements in such a way that the CIA
can be proud of them :-) as well as so Smári and Bryan and others here can be proud of them too. :-) And, given the CIA is hiring machinists, build a movement where, in a good way, you assume everyone in it is working for the CIA, :-) but where you still get important stuff done in moving the world towards a post-scarcity open future. Just like people should assume Google is a division of the NSA and/or CIA. :-) An impossible task? Well, consider it more like a creative challenge. :-)
Having the CIA monitor what you do is made more likely by having emails travel overseas. :-) So, another reason for the CC list. :-)
See also, just for the civilian side of all that, just to show you how such technologies are becoming deeply embedded in our civilian infrastructure:
"Slashdot | Judging You By the Online Company You Keep"
"Network analysis uses data about your social network interactions to make assumptions and predictions about your behavior. The Economist notes the upside for companies looking to sell products. But don't forget about the downside, warns Adrian Chen, of living in a world where network analysis is used by financial firms to determine risky borrowers by looking at social ties, or by Internet businesses to determine which customers are more equal than others (nice to see Microsoft's back on the forefront of some tech!). So, did Mom envision Social Network Analytics when she gave you that you-are-the-company-you-keep lecture?"
Essentially, that's what I seem to have given a big recent part of my life to, the task of informally and indirectly helping people everywhere in the world see that another way may be possible (which includes, of course, the CIA).
Sadly, what bothers me most about that activity is that I am possibly risking my family's lives, as quite possibly this will end badly in some way for all of us (from injury to just loss of employability, or possibly much worse), even though I hope it ends in prosperity for everyone on the planet instead. And that risk is just for an off chance (through some emails and web site posts and twitters and maybe some software, in the context of adding to what millions of others are doing as positive non-violent approaches), a chance that might eventually fundamentally change that organization's operating paradigm (and those of other organizations of all sorts). That opportunity to help change things was made possible by a few quirks of fate (including ending up going through Princeton a couple of times) that I have made the best use of that I could based on my own limitations and abilities. The effort through my writings and programmings was done in hopes that the overall outcome probability (the small chance of success times the big value of the success) will be positive relative to the other risks (including the risk of inaction), and with the thought that if enough people were to do that, success would be highly likely. Still, for a related cautionary parable of risks undertaken in pursuit of faith as they relate to our families:
Which is a very distressing situation to be in, something one really wants to avoid, to have one's family at either physical or economic risk from actions you feel a sense of ethical duty to pursue... But unfortunately, it is sometimes not something one can avoid, as one any activist must take, to have to deal with risks to your family from social processes surrounding you all. I also outline that in part so others out there can think about it for themselves, because it's not something we generally want to consider.
I know a little of living with huge risks indirectly from when what little I know of from when my mother had to deal with Nazis during WWII who firebombed her city (Rotterdam) and occupied the remains for years, even starving everyone for a time, all the while shipping people (including relatives) off to working-to-death camps.
Had the war gone on much longer, my mother and the rest of her family would probably have been next in line for the camps.
Compared to that, we have it pretty easy in the USA in many ways, even now. She really never recovered from that teenage experience in many ways (PTSD?), even though she raised four kids in the USA and had responsible jobs and so on. She said it was actually the Dutch side who firebombed her specific house during resisting the invasion (destroying most of her personal possessions including clothing at the beginning of the occupation).
I remember asking her, when I was a child of ten or so, why the Dutch townspeople did not just shoot the Nazis (like in the back from a window when they were not looking), and she got this horrified look on her face, and said when that happened, the Nazis (she called them Germans) would round up ten townspeople at random and shoot them as a reprisal. Thus began my education in the problems of violent solutions, even when democracy has broken down:
"Social Movements and Strategic Nonviolence"
In that sense, the figure of Jesus had it easy. :-) He had no physical family to worry about (although there is some disagreement about that story). And he had the power of miracles (including economically valuable ones like turning water into wine), as well as direct communications with his Dad, the almighty. It's a lot harder for mere mortals, ones with physical families, to follow that paradigm. :-) In other versions of the legend than at that page, the Peacemaker has his family killed by Tadodaho early on, but still continues working towards peace, not revenge.
Humans have more weaknesses and less strengths than incarnated gods. And Jesus still got tortured to death by the government, or so the story goes, despite his Dad being able to, in theory, kick Roman butt with floods, earthquakes, locusts, and whatnot. Of course, on the other hand, a physical family or some form of other love for someone else can motivate someone to be concerned about a happy Earthly future for all, and sustain one in other ways.
Like the Peacemaker, I don't think violence is the way you really fight evil like the unreformed Tadodaho, but I'll link to this fairly violent movie anyway, because it has a catchy theme tune about being a "little light of love": :-)
"Little Light of Love - OST. The Fifth Element"
It's a movie with a mixed message. :-) It's exciting to watch, but it's probably not the way you really resist evil, except maybe if seen metaphorically. :-)
Personally, I'm actually not as much worried about a government organization full of Roman-like bureaucrats (some with a fetish for torture) as much as the culture such an organization and related groups have built around themselves -- full of frustrated "millionaire wannabees" who bring semi-automatic weapons to political gatherings... Or similar people who think any attempt to improve anything in the USA is "socialism", which to their eyes is just about the worst thing in the world. See:
"The Wrath of the Millionaire Wannabe's"
"Only they are capable - some of them actually are - and they’re not rich. Clearly, something is broken, preventing these wannabes who “have what it takes” from reaching materialist heaven. Now here’s where it gets interesting. Since they “have what it takes”, there must be somebody else to blame. This from the people who accuse the poor of “blaming everybody but themselves”. The dittoheads do the very same thing. Its “tax and spend liberals”. It’s “big government”. For the more crude among them, it’s “the [inflammatory racist expletive removed]”. Only they don’t use that word in public. Instead, they call them “minorities”. It can’t be the rich to blame. That’s what they wannabe. And it can’t be them, they work hard, they’re smart. They’re playing the game “by the rules” - and they aren’t getting anywhere. Something must be holding them back. It must be all of those taxes they pay. You know, taxes for “social programs” for “minorities”. Not one of them has ever looked at the federal budget to see just how much of their taxes goes for “social programs”. We’re talking maybe five cents on the dollar. They don’t realize that 20 cents of every income tax dollar goes for interest payments to rich bond holders. They don’t realize that stealth fighters, nuclear powered aircraft carriers, and the guys to maintain and operate all of that Frankenstein military hardware cost a lot of money. To the tune of another 25 cents out of every tax dollar. ..."
Not to say there is not truth to how social bureaucracies can get out of control and become wasteful, like, for example, our public school system.
Or our industrial-agro-medical system:
"A Decade Of Vitamin D Supplementation Would Save $4.4 Trillion Over A Decade"
"On becoming disease proof through a diet high in vegetables, fruits, and legumes and avoiding processed foods, even reversing heart disease"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPiR9VcuVWw [good for an MD to watch]
An example of such, just to show there is not a complete disconnection from reality with what I am saying (as someone who has hung out in UU settings in the past):
"On July 27, 2008, a politically motivated fatal shooting took place at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States. Motivated by a desire to kill liberals and Democrats, gunman Jim David Adkisson fired a shotgun at members of the congregation during a youth performance of a musical, killing two people and wounding seven others."
And some related links on understanding how there are violent extremists on both the left and the right:
Also, as for example, seventeen years ago we had a full beer bottle thrown through our car rear window when we rented an apartment in a gay couple's house when we were just married. And, as above, my mother lived through WWII Netherlands and various horrors (both from the Germans and the Dutch, and there is more to the story there than I tell), which make a beer bottle through a car window covered by insurance pretty tame stuff, even if all the beer never really came out of the car despite repeated cleaning attempts.
If the Republicans are reelected in droves soon, as seems likely with an unhappy populace still looking for change and feeling a bit betrayed by the Democrats currently in power, things might begin to get really ugly when the Republican policies of cutting taxes and removing government oversight of business externalities continue to fail to help most people (I'm not saying the Democrat policies in practice are much better). Related by me:
"The Richest Man in the World: A parable about structural unemployment and a basic income"
"Soon everyone was out of work. The politicians and their supporters said the solution was to lower taxes and cut social benefits to promote business investment. They tried that, but the robots still got all the jobs."
As I see it, if just-getting-by Joe-the-plumber-type millionaire wannabees with lots of guns are a bit worrisome, then vast legions of networked permanently-unemployed millionaire wannabees with lots of guns are probably a lot more worrisome. :-(
It's pointless for them to attack the US government, because they would be crushed and that's too big a conceptual line to cross (after all, they want to move up the social hierarchy). But the unarmed "liberals" are a safe target for their rage. This is not to say "liberals" have not attacked "conservatives" too. Witness environmentally-related and socially-related crimes of various sorts, and a recent scuffle where some liberal bit the finger off some conservative:
So, we may possibly see a huge descent into civil war and feuding, at least if we can not move beyond polarizing terms like "liberal" and "conservative". It's kind of ironic how liberals are conservative about a lot of things (nature), and conservatives are liberal about a lot of things (freewheeling business). :-)
It would be ironically, a civil war over the wrong things, if people were going to bother to have a civil war in hopes to make things better through either mainstream conservative or mainstream liberal thinking. Although I'd suggest the whole civil war idea is the wrong paradigm to be thinking of social change in, anyway. As explained here:
Conservative notions like stronger private property (and privacy) rights, lower taxes, and less government regulation of some things may well be interesting ideas (ignoring externalities). And so are liberal ideas about protecting the environment and providing universal sick-care. But neither set of ideas do more than scratch the surface of the ongoing socio-economic changes we are facing with either bureaucracies out of control or the declining value of most human labor.
Those two issues are interrelated in an unusual way I discuss here:
And on the left, there are many technophobic people who would rather all the changes just went away, and I could speculate some might be violent to stop them, like the old Luddites. A related comment by Kevin Carson (and agreed to by someone else on that mailing list):
"It's amazing how much of the conventional Left is technophobic, and fails to see technology's liberatory potential from corporate authoritarianism. I just read Reason's interview with Steward Brand, where he recounted his role forty years ago in promoting technology among the counterculture as a force for liberation and the DIY ethos, where it was previously seen mainly as a force for control."
BTW, Stewart Brand's "Whole Earth Catalog" was, in a way, a masterful work of "intelligence" about various alternative movements... It could have been used to track down the counterculture to exterminate it, but it also helped move the counterculture along in many positive ways, and provided encouragement to the counterculture that things were really happening in a big way. "The Energy Primer" was a similar example that inspired me.
To be clear, as with almost all mainstream Muslims being non-violent, I'd suggest almost all mainstream Republicans, as well as almost all mainstream Democrats (and Green, etc.), including almost all gun-owning ones, would never do such horrendous things. But the question is, will they police their own enough to prevent it, or will they look the other way?
That depends on how well our communities are functioning in the USA, and lots of studies suggest they are not functioning very well. See also:
"The Culture of Affluence: Psychological Costs of Material Wealth"
"Other scholars have specifically implicated individuals’ lack of intimacy in personal relationships. Pittman (1985), for instance, has argued that people who accumulate high wealth often have a special talent and are single-mindedly dedicated to its development and marketing, resulting in scant time for personal relationships. Warner (1991) has noted that the very attributes that make for success in the world’s marketplace, such as self-protectiveness and opportunism, can inhibit the development of intimacy, as these attributes represent a generalized lack of trust of others. ... Competitive structures of market economies can promote distress by inhibiting the formation of supportive relationship networks. Political scientist Putnam (1993, 2000) has argued that when there is high use of market-based services, there is, correspondingly, limited engagement of individuals outside the marketplace, low levels of cooperation for shared goals, and growing use of the market to acquire child care and other services historically provided by family and neighbors. Collectively, such trends erode social capital, as exemplified by diminished attendance at PTA meetings, churches and temples, or community development groups, all groups that are vital for the well-being of communities. Evolutionary psychologists have suggested, furthermore, that wealthy communities can, paradoxically, be among those most likely to engender feelings of friendlessness and isolation in their inhabitants. As Tooby and Cosmides (1996) argued, the most reliable evidence of genuine friendship is that of help offered during times of dire need: People tend never to forget the sacrifices of those who provide help during their darkest hours. Modern living conditions, however, present relatively few threats to physical well-being. Medical science has reduced several sources of disease, many hostile forces of nature have been controlled, and laws and police forces deter assault and murder. Ironically, therefore, the greater the availability of amenities of modern living in a community, the fewer are the occurrences of critical events that indicate to people which of their friends are truly engaged in their welfare and which are only fair-weather companions. This lack of critical assessment events, in turn, engenders lingering mistrustfulness despite the presence of apparently warm interactions (Tooby & Cosmides, 1996)...."
As was predicted before the Iraq invasion, collapse of things can be sudden (like a termite-ridden hollow tree that is not obviously damaged), but building them back up again can take a very long and painful time. Just before the Iraq war, I remember reading these confident-sounding pronouncements by Iraqis waiting for the invasion to start about how there could never be a civil war in Iraq, citing, for example, how many Sunni-Shia marriages there were in Iraq, and a long history of such groups co-existing there peacefully. Sadly, those pronouncements were wrong. How would the USA react to some significant new incident like 9/11/2001 only maybe bigger, in the context of a society stressed by chronic long-term unemployment and declining standards of living? Could it just descend into a similar chaos of civil war? Of course, I can hope for much better. I'm sure we all do.
Still, beyond the regular threats from the public to anyone taking an activist stance, this is not to deny there may well be many crazy people hidden behind secrecy in the CIA, the kind who get their kicks out of torture, etc. who also may not want that organization changed as a sort of "torturers club", and may take various steps to resist that.
Probably just the stress of worrying about it could do me in, of course. :-)
I've been wondering lately, if the main purpose of a place like the CIA (and related agencies, or the historic KGB) is just to get people afraid of it to be self-censoring (or too stressed out to be effective as agents of legal non-violent change)? So, the CIA etc. perhaps accomplishes much of its purpose in a "Wu wei" way,
without often having to act or even be very effective, essentially just being a symbol for our fears? Perhaps that is always the nature of great power, which otherwise would deplete itself quickly?
From John Taylor Gatto:
"A lot of the constraints on us, a lot of the ah, ah - strings that hold us like puppets are really inventions of our own mind. I'm not saying that there aren't armies and police and various ways to punish deviants. But there isn't any way to punish a LARGE NUMBER of deviants. There isn't any way to do that. It's too expensive to even try to do that, unless you can colonize the minds of children growing up so they become their own police. And they will report other children who are deviating."
So having worries for my family in the process of engaging in social change (a process that ultimately extends even into the public schools, which are the heart of a sort of secular religion that powers a lot of this) is a distressing situation compared to if I were just to have gotten a big house somewhere (around DC? or even Canada or the Netherlands or Bermuda?), picked a decent alternative school for my kid, and lived a quiet obscure life working for the government like, say, Valery Plame. :-) Or, maybe just some nice NASA dream job (more my style).
But, those approaches also have the IMHO high likelihood of long term failure (global war with engineered plagues and killer robots, etc.) if everyone did that and tried to keep the old scarcity paradigm going when it was becoming obsolete and increasingly dangerous given all our fancy new technological powers. So, that too would likewise put my family at increased long term risk, but from different directions...
So, it involves weighing one set of risks against another. Factored in with one's own estimate of ones abilities and inclinations and preferences... But, also factored against all the little things one can do with what technical skills one has, help an organization here with a little cleaning, write a free tool there, ask a question somewhere else, and so on.
From Alan Kay:
"The best way to predict the future is to invent it."
So, such a life on the edge instead, trying to invent the future... :-)
Admittedly, maybe I just try too hard...
Still, we all make risk assessments every day and make decisions based on them, such as what car to drive, what foods to eat, and so on. A parent may need to accept some risk when that parent supervises a young child learning to climb stairs or trees, with danger, even instant death from a broken neck, everywhere. But still, handling stairs and even trees is something a kid needs to learn, so you can't protect your kid too much or they will not grow well, and the long term risks from not growing well are much higher than the immediate risk of falling from stairs or trees (even though, if it happens, it can be a terrible tragedy). On teaching kids to handle dangerous stuff:
It's nerve wracking to be a parent if you think about it much (or have an active imagination for all the things that could go wrong, as every step a kid takes could be a fall that leads to a head hitting something hard...).
Anyway, that's perhaps just a note to my kid for future reference on how I was thinking now about risks and rewards of engagement with social issues.
I actually did not understand all this when I started (understanding the deep irony behind militarism in the face of abundance is quite recent), but I can wonder if maybe, with my family history, I somehow felt it a long time ago? I always thought money would be better spent on education than the military (although, I also did not understand back then how schooling and education can often have little in common) and when I was "President pro tempore" of a mock Congress in 11th grade public school, I tried to delay the military appropriations bill going to the floor for a vote -- but, that is just a direct confrontation, not an attempt at transcendence, and it ultimately failed when I went off to college early and turned the reins over to my assistant. :-) Even back then, I was surprised at how readily some 16 year olds in school got into the role of being soldiers creating a big military budget relative to other social needs.
Or, to be fair, how others, such as myself had other issues... But when I think back on that, what a complete failure that represents (for both me and them) of mainstream schooling as a truly educational process...
But, I'll admit, that I can see, with 20/20 hindsight, lots of ways I could have made positive contributions working more within an institutional framework, including inside academia, as long as I could have avoided the worst of becoming a "disciplined mind" -- although that is only a theory, at this point.
"Disciplined Minds: A Critical Look at Salaried Professionals and the Soul-battering System That Shapes Their Lives" by Jeff Schmidt
As an example of how people who work at the CIA are not all bad, here is my citation of a dedicated CIA officer (now deceased, sadly) who my wife knew personally through her IBM work and who I think was both well meaning and reasonably effective at translating good intentions into good effects (within the limits of what he thought possible):
"Genoa II presentation by Tom Armour & comments"
Was Tom Armour a Peacemaker of the CIA? Including creating systems to help other CIA staff reform, each as a Tadodaho?
Even at the point where an organization like the CIA is the government, alleged to be promoting all the likely candidates, then, as dysfunctional as it might be, you still have all the usual internal disagreements and back and forth that you find in any government (whether the USSR's Kremlin or even just in the mind of a king). Maybe the CIA is not *directly* elected, but essentially, it is tolerated by electoral choices, and in that sense, has some democratic legitimacy. "Silent implies consent" to some degree... Sadly...
Something I learned auditing Stephen Cohen's Soviet Politics course at PU, (now at NYU?)
was that what the USA did wrong in relations to the Soviets was in not understanding that the internal structure of the Soviet leadership was not monolithic -- that is, the USA did not see that there were both doves and hawks in the Kremlin, a diversity of views, ones that responded to events.
So, there were parties within the Kremlin who were more aligned with presumable strategic US interests like arms control than others. But every time the doves in the Kremlin said, "Well, maybe the USA is not so bad, all this militarism is so expensive", the US would do some provocative thing and the hawks would say, "See, we told you so", and there would be another round of purges.
Of course, I understand the dynamics on the US side better now that I know "War is a Racket" (Smedley Butler). :-(
Presumed US national interests were not identical to the interests of some connected with arms production or related services.
But, nonetheless, the basic idea generalized is that a large organization is complex (even with massive filtering in creating it), and that, from the outside, you can try to provide support for those on the inside who are more sane and well-meaning (such as Tom Armour), if you can, as [with] Tadodaho, sing the song correctly, so the organization changes in healthy and joyful and mutually secure ways. That idea is applicable to all sorts of situations... Even, presumably, to the CIA. :-) And even presumably, to specific individuals within it:
"Positive psychologists seek "to find and nurture genius and talent", and "to make normal life more fulfilling", not simply to treat mental illness."
If I have any faith in what I have discovered for myself mostly through reading the writings of others with many years spent websurfing on various themes for personal and social and technical and biospheric health (whether about vitamin D, eating whole foods, a basic income, an abundance paradigm, self-replicating space habitats, renewable energy, mutual security, intrinsic security, or whatever else), then I must have faith that most other humans (even in the CIA) could discover it too, if they had the time and the tools and raw information to do so. I can't give them the conclusions in a way they will be accepted (or won't just recreate the problem of lack of thoughtfulness in accepting pre-thought conclusions), because the conclusions require (as one conservative told me once to disparage them :-) 1000 different assumptions than a mainstream conservative believes in. But, I can perhaps provide the tools (Genoa III? :-) with which such people could figure such things out for themselves, eventually, hopefully before it is too late for humanity. (There still might remain conflicts of assumptions, values, aesthetics, inclinations, preferences, and so on, which are just fundamental issues in any community, although perhaps there might also be better ways to understand these conflicts and accommodate them in a healthy democratic way.) Just in order to analyze the potential risk, CIA analysts will have become conversant in using such tools. :-) Consider, if the USSR's intelligence tools became available to the CIA, would they not have devoted a lot of time to understanding them, to see how the KGB was thinking? :-) So, at the very least, any free and open source intelligence tools widely used will have to be brought into the CIA for analysis. :-) And no, I don't mean anything nefarious like the Trojan "smart dust" in this other novel by Vernor Vinge:
I sincerely mean that better "open source" (in both sense of the term) intelligence tools may help the CIA do a better job in terms of what it was, in idealized terms, created to do, which is to support US national security -- which I'd suggest can *only* be done by looking at and appropriately assisting with global issues in a joyful, healthy, and intrinsically/mutually secure way.
This is an issue that goes back hundreds of years in American history, as shown here, from a Native perspective:
"The Field of Plenty is always full of abundance. The gratitude we show as Children of Earth allows the ideas within the Field of Plenty to manifest on the Good Red Road so we may enjoy these fruits in a physical manner. When the cornucopia was brought to the Pilgrims, the Iroquois People sought to assist these Boat People in destroying their fear of scarcity. The Native understanding is that there is always enough for everyone when abundance is shared and when gratitude is given back to the Original Source. The trick was to explain the concept of the Field of Plenty with few mutually understood words or signs. The misunderstanding that sprang from this lack of common language robbed those who came to Turtle Island of a beautiful teaching."
That is the issue that I am trying to address with modern tools. As the Iroquois failed then, so might I now. But it seems worth a try.
While Wikipedia is hardly the most reliable source for a lot of things, I can wonder if this has the ring of truth:
"All of this has the effect of making it hard for DI analysts to interact even with the classified outside world. The CIA view is that there are risks to connecting CIA systems even to classified systems elsewhere. Mitigating those risks sends implicit messages to analysts: that technology is a threat, not a benefit; that the CIA does not put a high priority on analysts using IT easily or creatively; and, worst of all, that data outside the CIA’s own network are secondary to the intelligence mission."
The key point there in regard to the (digital :-) Native point is: "Mitigating those risks sends implicit messages to analysts: that technology is a threat, not a benefit...".
So, there may be a fundamental institutional bias that is going to make it hard for CIA analysts to see the irony about using the technologies of abundance from a scarcity perspective... One may hope that those biases change with the adoption of new technology such as "A-Space" started in 2007:
A-Space has aspects similar to what we developed as a concept demonstrator for the RAHS project to Singapore in 2005 in terms of integrating discussions, wikis, searches, and collaborative sensemaking processes (A-Space may still lack that last?).
So, the question is, what can we (the People) do to help the CIA be the best intelligence agency it can be? :-) In the same way you might think, as a parent, about a wayward child with a good heart but caught up in drugs and crime, and so on? And while simultaneously also helping achieve other objectives towards improving global security in terms of intrinsic security, mutual security, sustainability, resilience, conflict resolution, improved global and local planning, and so on? My idea is better tools to really connect the dots (as far as from public open sources) in a healthy and joyful way, based on a post-scarcity paradigm (one that is like what the Native Americans tried to explain to the "Boat People") -- but there well may be other creative, non-violent, and legal ways that other people can help with that (novels, plays, movies, YouTube videos, essays, songs, dances, stories about the Peacemaker and Tadodaho, or whatever...)
As I see it, even if the CIA were to be dissolved, the general sorts of things it does as far as intelligence collection, sensemaking, and policy suggestions would still be done in some shape, form, or fashion by somebody somewhere... The CIA is also a deeply entrenched bureaucracy that seems unlikely to go away anytime soon. Even if the CIA was decreed dissolved by Congress, the cultural patterns and social networks that represent the CIA, and that created it and sustained it, would still exist, same as if Congress just declared Al-Qaeda dissolved, since that social network would still continue in some sense too. And of course, Al-Qaeda would probably just laugh at such a declaration -- but so might the core of the CIA?
In order to win hearts and minds, one needs to act (ideally, collectively) in such a way as to reduce sources of support for the most problematic parts of a dysfunctional social network and to help grow the healthy parts of it. Another part of the story on the peace2turtleisland.org page is: "Jikonsahseh promoted the warring of the Onkwehonwe by feeding the warriors and allowing them to rest in her house as they traveled from the east and the west along the warpath. The Peacemaker sat down with Jikonsahseh, and he spoke to her. The Peacemaker said that he knew that she was purposely feeding warriors and that by doing so Jikonsahseh was helping the warring to continue. The Peacemaker reasoned with Jikonsahseh as he explained to her that he was sent to spread the message of Great Peace, and that she must listen to him and stop facilitating the warring because her actions were wrong."
A Marine had something related to say within this larger quotation:
The battlefield the Marines and their international partners navigate in Helmand Province is murky and complex. Determining friend from foe, keeping the enemy on the run, and mastering the intricacies of unfamiliar cultures and terrain is difficult but essential, as they forge alliances and work to marginalize the insurgents.
“We want to sustain that wedge between them and the population. Maintaining rule of law and governance, sustaining the population centers, that is the way we’re going to get out of here,” said Maj. Robert Farrell, the officer in charge of Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, which has served in the Laki area of Garmser district since April.
To win hearts and minds in Laki, the first step is not making new enemies. For the Marines who pushed out of Patrol Base Gorgak on a six-hour patrol through the hinterlands this week, maintaining goodwill required careful attention to green shoots sprouting from the cracked crust of dry paddies. ...
That Marine just restated the lesson of Jikonsahseh and the Peacemaker. :-) But it was a lesson painfully relearned because he probably never heard that story...
Other ideas on how to combat terrorism (whatever its source) from a religious perspective:
As I cited here:
"Creating True Peace : Ending Violence in Yourself, Your Family, Your Community, and the World" by Thich Nhat Hanh
"All of us can practice nonviolence. We begin by recognizing that, in the depths of our consciousness, we have both the seeds of compassion and the seeds of violence. We become aware that our mind is like a garden that contains all kinds of seeds: seeds of understanding, seeds of forgiveness, seeds of mindfulness, and also seeds of ignorance, fear, and hatred. We realize that, at any given moment, we can behave with either violence or compassion, depending on the strength of those seeds within us. When the seeds of anger, violence, and fear are watered in us several times a day, they will grow stronger. Then we are unable to be happy, unable to accept ourselves; we suffer and we make those around us suffer. Yet when we know how to cultivate the seeds of love, compassion, and understanding in us everyday, those seeds will become stronger, and the seeds of violence and hatred will become weaker and weaker. We know that if we water the seeds of anger, violence, and fear within us, we will lose our peace and our stability. We will suffer and we will make those around us suffer. But if we cultivate the seeds of compassion, we nourish peace within us and around us. With this understanding, we are already on the path of creating peace. (Pages 1-2) "
Which is basically what Stephen Cohen was saying about the Kremlin around 1984, or, in same sense, I'm saying about the CIA right now. :-)
Or what James P. Hogan was saying about our overall society in "Voyage From Yesteryear" in 1982:
That is not to deny that there may well be many true horrors in the CIA's past or present... Just like there were many horrors in the past of Tadodaho.
Like any wounded animal, if we corner the CIA it is probably going to fight back, and hard. The Peacemaker did not fight Tadodaho in a physical way. It may be better to give the CIA a good escape route, and a way to transform itself into a post-ironic 21st century organization, to become a reformed Tadodaho.
Still, personally, on the one hand, I piss off the CIA by talking about changing it. On the other, I piss off the people who are pissed off at the CIA (and for good reason) and want it brought to justice somehow, especially with a vengeance for decades of involvement with all sorts of bad stuff. I know some anti-war people who won't talk to me for that last reason, ironically I think. :-) Who does that leave in the middle? I hope at least some.
As I said, it has a possibility it will end badly for me and my family on a local scale as I engage with powerful forces way beyond my understanding. I have neither the training, the cultural background in terms of stories (I know just a few tiny fragments of Native lore, for example), or the personableness (or brevity :-) for this. I'd just as soon someone else did it, and better, and with more joy and less fear. :-) But, not to act seems more likely to end badly on a larger scale eventually, and that too could eventually hurt my family... As it has in the past as with my mother:
"They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45"
I can only put my faith that some of that force may help protect me (and everyone else) against the other part. :-) While at the same time both presumably protect me (and everyone else) against the very threats the USA has created by fostering terrorism abroad through crazy (but lucrative to some) foreign policy. Can I even safely travel abroad anymore if I am somehow linked to intelligence stuff in any way? But to hide such a link is both problematical in terms of integrity and also credibility. It is hard to weigh these risks and rewards, especially for others in your family... And it is a crazily complex game, with ever changing rules... And filled with "unknown unknowns".
Even PU alum and an architect of the Iraq war can be right about some things. :-) From:
"We know there are known knowns: there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns: that is to say we know there are things we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don't know we don't know." —Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Defense Department briefing, Fe. 12, 2002"
Or, as a poem, because, it really is true and important: :-)
I never know whether to laugh or cry when I read these. Did you ever read that fabulous book of Rumsfeld’s “poetry”?
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don’t know
We don’t know.
—Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing
There are unknown knows, too, by the way. :-)
[That poem helped inspire this one by me:
On Information, Knowledge, Intelligence, Wisdom, Virtue, and Effectiveness
Information is not knowledge,
Knowledge is not intelligence,
Intelligence is not wisdom,
Wisdom is not virtue, and
Virtue is not effectiveness.
So, to have is not to organize,
To organize is not to embody,
To embody is not to value,
To value is not to act, and
To act (especially in ignorance)
is not necessarily to succeed.
I can only hope my small amount of Aikido training at PU (the mental side) is still up to dealing with all of it. :-)
"An effective form of self-defense, Kokikai Aikido relies on a strong mind and correct technique not physical strength alone. As a result classes include both men and women practicing on equal footing. Designed to defend against multiple attackers, it offers many solutions to aggressive behavior by others. By emphasizing human development, Kokikai Aikido results in self-improvement. Kokikai Aikido training promotes centering, correct posture, relaxing progressively and positive mind. The combination of these elements produces a different concept of strength which results when mind and body work together in a relaxed way. This discipline not only allows us to defend ourselves, it enables us to increase our enjoyment of our daily lives and enrich the lives of others. Most importantly, Kokikai Aikido offers us the opportunity to learn how to control ourselves, so that we can deal with any situation gently, and with confidence."
Also Aikido related:
"Dobson realized that what he had witnessed was real aikido in action. What he had wanted to do -- vigilante-style, self-righteous justice -- was not aikido. What the old man had done, though, was aikido as it was meant to be -- humble, gentle love, bringing peace and healing."
Aikido, Buddhist gardening of the soul, and the Peacemaker and Tadodaho -- all very related ideas from [three] different cultures around the world (Japan, India, and America) about dealing with conflict. If I were to look, I might find them in other cultures, too. They are, one might hope, the "antidote" (to the "old evil") mentioned way above in the quoted text by Vernor Vinge.
An example in practice by me, on at least three levels:
"Intrinsic/mutual security vs. extrinsic/unilateral"
"If you see my other reply, you'll see that all this military technology is ironic and, essentially, making us less secure in the 21st century because it is designed from the wrong paradigm of extrinsic unilateral security (not intrinsic mutual security). For example, having a loaded self-propelled Howitzer cannon in your suburban backyard does not make you safer from home intrusion in a small community (or cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, the real killers of most US Americans) -- it makes you seen as a nutcase and your neighbors start talking about how to deal with you and get rid of it in case it went off accidentally or kids took it for a "joyride". But if you insulate your house to keep it warm at low cost, use the savings to put solar panels of the roof to power a fridge full of cool beers for passers-by, and then grown an organic garden producing abundant veggies you share with your neighbors, then you are going to have a lot more security and health and prosperity for both yourself and your community for a lot less cost than buying and maintaining a Howitzer in your backyard." [Some typos fixed]
I guess perhaps there is also a human tendency to action, even when it might be smarter to lay low... And, an ancient Chinese Proverb is said to be: "Whenever confronted with a decision between 100 alternatives, the best one is always to run away." :-) But, where does a US American run? America is everywhere...
Would it have been better to keep my head down, live in a nice house maybe near DC and send my kid to a great expensive alternative school, and wait for who knows what to happen with all these tools of abundance being swung around with people thinking of them as weapons to fight over scarcity?
Or is it better to engage the system in some legal and non-violent way and hope that the end result will be better than doing nothing while just living a materially good life for as long as it lasts, in order to help people see the alternative possibilities, and to rethink so many assumptions, aesthetics, and derived values?
For example, even simple explosives could be thought of as tools of abundance when used for, say, using explosives in mining to create wealth through valuable ores rather than using explosives to hurt people, even in a war-torn place like Afghanistan:
"U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan"
Is explosives a Tadodaho?
Is just *fire* when tamed in a fireplace a Tadodaho? It's interesting, in that sense, that the Tadodaho is the "firekeeper"... And important role in societies where starting fires could be hard... Yet, it was the unreformed Tadodaho of firebombs that took away lovely historic Rotterdam of my mother's youth. So, is the CIA "A Fire Upon the Deep [World]"? And if it is, then what kind of fire could it be, the kind that warms you or the kind that burns your village down? A historic picture of Phan Thị Kim Phúc related to fire and war in Vietnam:
I'm not saying I knew that general concept on tools of abundance and irony in my signature comment below when I began this journey -- it is a recent realization for me, even as Einstein said it 60+ years ago in another form. But that realization, that bit of the song, as a possible "antidote", or as a sort of ironic funny joke, is essentially where the journey has led, or at least it is a stop along the way. So, deciding to go on a journey, and where, and what risks to accept, and what risks to try to change, is really a choice...
As Harold said, it is a "Shakespearean" choice. From:
Or building on Harold's "Shakespearean" idea, this essay should perhaps instead start with:
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?
Although, for the purposes of this essay, you can take "fortune" to be the WordNet sense of "abundance", thus increasing the *irony* of that quote as it applies in a PU context. :-) Yes, I am suggesting Princeton University's deepest trouble is the coming world of "fortune" for all. :-) And PU can take up arms against that fortune for all, or PU can accept these metaphorical slings and arrows, be thankful for them, and change its mythology to help bring good fortune to an inclusive world.
Well, I guess I made my choice many years ago, although, it is true I made that choice before I had a kid, essentially, most actively, after 9/11 and as the wars were being launched, and most pivotal was when I called Hillary Clinton's (my senator) office to protest before the Iraq war, pointing out how a lot of people were going to die if we did that, but to no avail, and just to hear a generic reply from a staffer...
Of course, maybe best is to both keep my head down and hope some smuck like me (but not me) does the risky heavy lifting? :-) Just for comedic Princeton-related relief on risk management: :-)
And there is a lot to be said for ducking out, since there is a lot going on by a variety of others, so there is cause to hope even when one does nothing: :-)
"Blessed Unrest explores the diversity of the movement, its brilliant ideas, innovative strategies, and hidden history, which date back many centuries. A culmination of Hawken's many years of leadership in the environmental and social justice fields, it will inspire and delight any and all who despair of the world's fate, and its conclusions will surprise even those within the movement itself. Fundamentally, it is a description of humanity's collective genius, and the unstoppable movement to reimagine our relationship to the environment and one another."
Maybe, if I had not gone to Princeton, and not had my self-image shaped in part by that, maybe I would not be trying to be the "Squirrel Nutkin" to the CIA? :-) Among other things...
"The story is about an impertinent red squirrel named Nutkin and his narrow escape from an owl called Old Brown."
And as recent history shows us, people like Bush or Cheney and others related to them can do all sorts of things and just walk away from any accountability. Two lost wars, one lost US city, many lost jobs, many lost homes, many presumably illegal acts, and both just walk free and enriched, and what's more, the Republicans are about to be reelected in large numbers, bringing back to power those who have been called "the party of no" who have torpedoed every timid attempt at reform by the so-called "mostly spineless" Democrats. What is one to make of all that?
Still, the story of the Peacemaker and Tadodaho is about moving beyond vengeance, beyond feuding, even for someone like our so-called "the VP of torture", Dick Cheney.
Unfortunately, I guess I'm still too much a believer in that whole elitist "Princeton in the nation's and world's service" thing to not try to play in that space of moving us forward as a global society. :-) Possibly to my or my family's detriment. :-( But, either way is a risk, IMHO.
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
Usually (mis?)quoted as: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
However, this is not especially a call for assistance by those on the CC list, or any complaint, indictment or aspersion as to any past efforts or current activities, because I acknowledge that everyone does good things in his or her own way, and with his or her own trusted colleagues. Related on what trust means:
"An animated short on trust and trusted computing"
I'm just trying to put this set of ideas out there into the wild, as it were. :-) To some, that might be seen as contributing to "nuisance wildlife". To others, it might be a new perspective to build on in even better ways.
Princeton in the Nation's and the World's service
I started with a brief quote from here but it seems to have grow as I added more and more good stuff Woodrow Wilson wrote about Princeton and society until it has nearly the whole piece, sorry. :-) Presumably it is in the public domain due to its age. Anyway, it is something for PU Alums to have around, and I personally now see these words, among other things, as a call to better tools and content for educational discussions and explorations for all through the internet as well as other venues (in the sense of our global society creating a "Post-Scarcity Princeton" which is, essentially, a world-wide semantic web we all participate in):
"A Commemorative Address delivered [by Woodrow Wilson] on October 21, 1896"
We pause to look back upon our past today, not as an old man grown reminiscent, but as a prudent man still in his youth and lusty prime and at the threshold of new tasks, who would remind himself of his origin and lineage, recall the pledges of his youth, assess as at a turning in his life the duties of his station. ...[Some presumable typos corrected and the rest is well worth reading, too.]
Princeton was founded upon the very eve of the stirring changes which put the revolutionary drama on the stage, -- not to breed politicians, but to give young men such training as, it might be hoped, would fit them handsomely for the pulpit and for the grave duties of citizens and neighbors. A small group of Presbyterian ministers took the initiative in its foundation. They acted without ecclesiastical authority, as if under obligation to society rather than to the church...
It was by that time the year 1768. Mr. Dickinson had drawn that little group of students about him under the first charter only twenty-one years ago; the college had been firmly seated in Princeton only these twelve years in which it had seen Burr and Edwards and Davies and Finley die, and had found it not a little hard to live so long in the face of its losses and the uneasy movements of the time. It had been brought to Princeton in the very midst of the French and Indian war, when the country was in doubt who should possess the continent. The deep excitement of the Stamp Act agitation had come, with all its sinister threats of embroilment and disaffection, while yet it was in its infancy and first effort to live. It was impossible it should obtain proper endowment or any right and equable development in such a season. It ought by every ordinary rule of life, to have been quite snuffed out in the thick and troubled air of the time. New Jersey did not, like Virginia and Massachusetts, easily form her purpose in that day of anxious doubt. She was mixed of many warring elements, as New York also was, and suffered a turbulence of spirit that did not very kindly breed "true religion and good literature."
But your thorough Presbyterian is not subject to the ordinary laws of life, -- is of too stubborn a fibre, too unrelaxing a purpose, to suffer mere inconvenience to bring defeat. Difficulty bred effort rather; and Doctor Witherspoon found an institution ready to his hand that had come already in that quickening time to a sort of crude maturity. ...
It has never been natural, it has seldom been possible, in this country for learning to seek a place apart and hold aloof from affairs. It is only when society is old, long settled to its ways, confident in habit, and without self-questioning upon any vital point of conduct, that study can affect seclusion and despise the passing interests of the day. America has never yet had a season of leisured quiet in which students could seek a life apart without sharp rigours of conscience, or college instructors easily forget that they were training citizens as well as drilling pupils; and Princeton is not likely to forget that sharp schooling of her youth, when she first learned the lesson of public service. She shall not easily get John Witherspoon out of her constitution. ...
It moves her sons very deeply to find Princeton to have been from the first what they know her to have been in their own day: a school of duty. The revolutionary days are gone, and you shall not find upon her rolls another group of names given to public life that can equal her muster in the days of the Revolution and the formation of the government. But her rolls read since the old days, if you know but a little of the quiet life of scattered neighborhoods, like a roster of trustees, a list of the silent men who carry the honorable burdens of business and of social obligation, -- of such names as keep credit and confidence in heart. They suggest a soil full of the old seed and ready, should the air of the time move shrewdly upon it as in the old days, to spring once more into the old harvest. The various, boisterous strength of the young men of affairs who went out with Witherspoon's touch upon them, is obviously not of the average breed of any place, but the special fruitage of an exceptional time. Later generations inevitably reverted to the elder type of Patterson [Paterson] and Ellsworth, the type of sound learning and stout character, without bold impulse added or any uneasy hope to change the world. It has been Princeton's work, in all ordinary seasons, not to change but to strengthen society, to give, not yeast, but bread for the raising.
It is in this wise Princeton has come into our own hands; and today we stand as those who would count this force for the future. The men who made Princeton are dead; those who shall keep it and better it still live: they are even ourselves. Shall we not ask, ere we go forward, what gave the place its spirit and its air of duty? [As Emerson said:] 'We are now men, and must accept in the highest spirit the same transcendent destiny; and not pinched in a corner, not cowards fleeing before a revolution, but redeemers and benefactors, pious aspirants to be noble clay plastic under the Almighty effort, let us advance and advance on chaos and the dark!" ...
The men who founded Princeton were pastors, not ecclesiastics. Their ideal was the service of congregations and communities, not the service of a church. Duty with them was a practical thing, concerned with righteousness in this world, as well as with salvation in the next. There is nothing that gives such pith to public service as religion. A God of truth is no mean prompter to the enlightened service of mankind; and character formed, as if in his eye, has always a fibre and sanction such as you shall not easily obtain for the ordinary man from the mild promptings of philosophy. ...
The world has long thought that it detected in the academic life some lack of sympathy with itself, some disdain of the homely tasks which make the gross globe inhabitable, -- not a little proud aloofness and lofty superiority, as if education always softened the hands and alienated the heart. It must be admitted that books are a great relief from the haggling of the market, libraries a very welcome refuge from the strife of commerce. We feel no anxiety about ages that are passed ; old books draw us pleasantly off from responsibility, remind us nowhere of what there is to do. We can easily hold the service of mankind at arms length while we read and make scholars of ourselves, but we shall be very uneasy, the while, if the right mandates of religion are let in upon us and made part of our thought. The quiet scholar has his proper breeding and truth must be searched out and held aloft for men to see for its own sake by such as will not leave off their sacred task until death takes them away. But not many pupils of a College are to be investigators: they are to be citizens and the world's servants in every field of practical endeavor, and in their instruction the College must use learning as a vehicle of spirit, interpreting literature as the voice of humanity, -- must enlighten, guide, and hearten its sons, that it may make men of them. If it give them no vision of the true God, it has given them no certain motive to practice the wise lessons they have learned.
It is noteworthy how often God-fearing men have been forward in those revolutions which have vindicated rights, and how seldom in those which have wrought a work of destruction. There was a spirit of practical piety in the revolutionary doctrines which Dr. Witherspoon taught. No man, particularly no young man, who heard him could doubt his cause a righteous cause or deem religion aught but a prompter in it. Revolution was not to be distinguished from duty in Princeton. Duty becomes the more noble when thus conceived the "stern daughter of the voice of God"; and that voice must ever seem near and in the midst of life if it be made to sound dominant from the first in all thought of men and the world. It has not been by accident, therefore, that Princeton men have been inclined to public life. A strong sense of duty is a fretful thing in confinement, and will not easily consent to be kept at home clapped up within a narrow round ...
It was not a work of destruction which Princeton helped forward even in that day of storm which came at the revolution, but a work of preservation. The American revolution wrought a radical work of change in the world: it created a new nation and a new polity; but it was a work of conservation after all, as fundamentally conservative as the revolution of 1688 or the extortion of Magna Charta. A change of allegiance and the erection of a new nation in the West were its inevitable results but not its objects. Its object was the preservation of a body of liberties, to keep the natural course of English development in America clear of impediment. It was meant, not in rebellion, but in self-defense. If it brought change, it was the change of maturity, the fulfillment of destiny, the appropriate fruitage of wholesome and steady growth. It was part of English liberty that America should be free. The thought of our Revolution was as quick and vital in the minds of Chatham and of Burke as in the minds of Otis and Henry and Washington. There is nothing so conservative of life as growth: when that stops, decay sets in and the end comes on apace. Progress is life, for the body politic as for the body natural. To stand still is to court death.
Here, then, if you will but look, you have the law of conservatism disclosed: it is a law of progress. But not all change is progress, not all growth is the manifestation of life. Let one part of the body be in haste to outgrow the rest and you have malignant disease, the threat of death. The growth that is a manifestation of life is equable, draws its springs gently out of the old fountains of strength, builds upon old tissue, covets the old airs that have blown upon it time out of mind in the past. Colleges ought surely to be the best nurseries of such life, the best schools of the progress which conserves. Unschooled men have only their habits to remind them of the past, only their desires and their instinctive judgments of what is right to guide them into the future: the College should serve the state as its organ of recollection, its seat of vital memory. It should give the country men who know the probabilities of failure and success, who can separate the tendencies which are permanent from the tendencies which are of the moment merely, who can distinguish promises from threats, knowing the life men have lived, the hopes they have tested, and the principles they have proved. ...
This Revolution, at any rate, was a keeping of faith with the past. To stand for it was to be like Hampden, a champion of law though he withstood the king. It was to emulate the example of the very men who had founded the government then for a little while grown so tyrannous and forgetful of its great traditions. This was the compulsion of life, not of passion, and College Halls were a better school of revolution than Colonial assemblies.
Provided, of course, they were guided by such a spirit as Witherspoon's. Nothing is easier than to falsify the past. Lifeless instruction will do it. If you rob it of vitality, stiffen it with pedantry, sophisticate it with argument, chill it with unsympathetic comment, you render it as dead as any academic exercise. The safest way in all ordinary seasons is to let it speak for itself: resort to its records, listen to its poets and to its masters in the humbler art of prose. Your real and proper object, after all, is not to expound, but to realize it, consort with it, and make your spirit kin with it, so that you may never shake the sense of obligation off. In short, I believe that the catholic study of the world's literature as a record of spirit is the right preparation for leadership in the world's affairs, if you undertake it like a man and not like a pedant. ...
Age is marked in the case of every people just as it is marked in the case of every work of art, into which enters the example of the masters, the taste of long generations of men, the thought that has matured, the achievement that has come with assurance. The child's crude drawing shares the primitive youth of the first hieroglyphics; but a little reading, a few lessons from some modern master, a little time in the old world's galleries set the lad forward a thousand years and more, make his drawing as old as art itself. The art of thinking is as old, and it is the University's function to impart it in all its length: the stiff and difficult stuffs of fact and experience, of prejudice and affection, in which the hard art is to work its will, and the long and tedious combinations of cause and effect out of which it is to build up its results. How else will you avoid a ceaseless round of error? The world's memory must be kept alive, or we shall never see an end of its old mistakes. We are in danger to lose our identity and become infantile in every generation. That is the real menace under which we cower everywhere in this age of change. The old world trembles to see its proletariat in the saddle; we stand dismayed to find ourselves growing no older, always as young as the information of our most numerous voters. The danger does not lie in the fact that the masses whom we have enfranchised seek to work any iniquity upon us, for their aim, take it in the large, is to make a righteous polity. The peril lies in this, that the past is discredited among them, because they played no choosing part in it. It was their enemy, they say, and they will not learn of it. They wish to break with it for ever: its lessons are tainted to their taste.
In America, especially, we run perpetually this risk of newness. ... This danger is nearer to us now than it was in days of armed revolution. The men whom Madison led in the making of the Constitution were men who regarded the past. They had flung off from the mother country, not to get a new liberty, but to preserve an old, not to break a Constitution, but to keep it. ...
It is plain that it is the duty of an institution of learning set in the midst of a free population and amidst signs of social change, not merely to implant a sense of duty, but to illuminate duty by every lesson that can be drawn out of the past. It is not a dogmatic process. I know of no book in which the lessons of the past are set down. I do not know of any man whom the world could trust to write such a book. But it somehow comes about that the man who has traveled in the realms of thought brings lessons home with him which make him grave and wise beyond his fellows, and thoughtful with the thoughtfulness of a true man of the world. ...
This argument for enlightenment holds scarcely less good, of course, in behalf of the study of modern literature and especially the literature of your own race and country. You should not belittle culture by esteeming it a thing of ornament and accomplishment rather than a power. A cultured mind is a mind quit of its awkwardness, eased of all impediment and illusion, made quick and athletic in the acceptable exercise of power. It is a mind at once informed and just, -- a mind habituated to choose its course with knowledge, and filled with full assurance, like one who knows the world and can live in it without either unreasonable hope or unwarranted fear. It cannot complain, it cannot trifle, it cannot despair. Leave pessimism to the uncultured, who do not know reasonable hope; leave fantastic hopes to the uncultured, who do not know the reasonableness of failure. Show that your mind has lived in the world ere now; has taken council with the elder dead who still live, as well as with the ephemeral living who cannot pass their graves. Help men, but do not delude them.
I believe, of course, that there is another way of preparing young men to be wise. I need not tell you that I believe in full, explicit instruction in history and in politics, in the experiences of peoples and the fortunes of governments, in the whole story of what men have attempted and what they have accomplished through all the changes both of form and purpose in their organization of their common life. Many minds will receive and heed this systematic instruction which have no ears for the voice that is in the printed page of literature. But, just as it is one thing to sit here in republican America and hear a credible professor tell of the soil of allegiance in which the British monarchy grows, and quite another to live where her Majesty is Queen and hear common men bless her with full confession and loyalty, so it is one thing to hear of systems of government in histories and treatises and quite another to feel them in the pulses of the poets and prose writers who have lived under them.
It used to be taken for granted -- did it not? -- that colleges would be found always on the conservative side in politics (except on the question of free trade) but in this latter day a great deal has taken place which goes far towards discrediting the presumption. The college in our day lives very near indeed to the affairs of the world. It is a place of the latest experiments; its laboratories are brisk with the spirit of discovery; its lecture rooms resound with the discussion of ne w theories of life and novel programs of reform. There is no radical like your learned radical, bred in the schools; and thoughts of revolution have in our times been harbored in Universities as naturally as they were once nourished among the Encyclopedists. It is the scientific spirit of the age that has wrought the change. No man more heartily admires, more gladly welcomes, more approvingly reckons the gain and the enlightenment that have come to the world through the extraordinary advances in physical science which this great age has witnessed. He would be a barbarian, and a lover of darkness who should grudge that great study any part of its triumph. But I am a student of society and should deem myself unworthy of the comradeship of great men of science should I not speak the plain truth with regard to what I see happening under my own eyes I have no laboratory but the world of books and men in which I live; but I am much mistaken if the scientific spirit of the age is not doing us a great disservice, working in us a certain great degeneracy. Science has bred in us a spirit of experiment and a contempt for the past. It has made us credulous of quick improvement, hopeful of discovering panaceas, confident of success in every new thing.
I wish to be as explicit as carefully chosen words will enable me to be upon a matter so critical, so radical as this. I have no indictment against what science has done: I have only a warning to utter against the atmosphere which has stolen from laboratories into lecture rooms and into the general air of the world at large. Science, -- our science, -- is new. It is a child of the nineteenth century. It has transformed the world and owes little debt of obligation to any past age. It has driven mystery out of the Universe; it has made malleable stuff of the hard world, and laid it out in its elements upon the table of every class room. Its own masters have known its limitations: they have stopped short at the confines of the physical Universe, have declined to reckon with spirit or with the stuffs of the mind, have eschewed sense and confined themselves to sensation. But their work has been so stupendous that all other men of all other studies have been set staring at their methods, imitating their ways of thought ogling their results. We look in our study of the classics now-a-days more at the phenomena of language than at the movement of spirit; we suppose the world which is invisible to be unreal we doubt the efficacy of feeling and exaggerate the efficacy of knowledge; we speak of society as an organism, and believe that we can contrive for it a new environment which will change the very nature of its constituent parts; worst of all, we believe in the present and in the future more than in the past, and deem the newest theory of society the likeliest. This is the disservice scientific study has done us: it has given us agnosticism in the realm of philosophy, scientific anarchism in the field of politics. It has made the legislator confident that he can create and the philosopher sure that God cannot. Past experience is discredited and the laws of matter are supposed to apply to spirit and makeup of society. ...
Of course, when all is said, it is not learning but the spirit of service that will give a college place in the public annals of the nation. It is indispensable, it seems to me, if it is to do its right service, that the air of affairs should be admitted to all its class rooms. I do not mean the air of party politics but the air of the world's transactions, the consciousness of the solidarity of the race, the sense of the duty of man towards man, of the presence of men in every problem, of the significance of truth for guidance as well as for knowledge, of the potency of ideas, of the promise and the hope that shine in the face of all knowledge. There is laid upon us the compulsion of the national life. We dare not keep aloof and closet ourselves while a nation comes to its maturity. The days of glad expansion are gone. Our life grows tense and difficult; our resource for the future lies in careful thought, providence, and a wise economy; and the school must be of the nation. I have had sight of the perfect place of learning in my thought: a free place, and a various, where no man could be and not know with how great a destiny knowledge had come into the world: -- itself a little world; but not perplexed, living with a singleness of aim not known without: the home of sagacious men, hard-headed and with a will to know, debaters of the world's questions every day and used to the rough ways of democracy; and yet a place removed -- calm Science seated there, recluse, ascetic, like a nun, not knowing that the world passes, not caring, if the truth but come in answer to her prayer; and Literature, walking within her open doors in quiet chambers with men of olden time, storied walls about her, and calm voices infinitely sweet; here "magic casements, opening on the foam of perilous seas, in fairy lands forlorn," to which you may withdraw and use your youth for pleasure; there windows open straight upon the street, where many stand and talk intent upon the world of men and business. A place where ideals are kept in heart in an air they can breathe; but no fool's paradise. A place where to hear the truth about the past and hold debate about the affairs of the present, with knowledge and without passion; like the world in having all men's life at heart, a place for men and all that concerns them; but unlike the world in its self-possession, its thorough way of talk, its care to know more than the moment brings to light; slow to take excitement, its air pure and wholesome with a breath of faith: every eye within it bright in the clear day and quick to look toward heaven for the confirmation of its hope. Who shall show us the way to this place?
Apparently, Woodrow Wilson was also a racist, and even as above, an elitist, and probably not a celebrator of the best of the Native Americans [ignoring he later married a descendant of Pocahontas who essentially ran the government as the first female president when got ill :-)], so my quoting him doesn't mean I idealize everything he said or did. But, he can still have been right about a lot of things relating to a good education... We just have the benefit of another century of spreading understandings...
Comments on Princeton in the Nation's and World's service
I guess I should be embarrassed to admit I've never read that speech before? :-) I wish I had, a long time ago... Although I may have read parts of it before, perhaps? And I certainly knew the general theme. But certainly the detailed meaning of it seems much more clear now...
On his point on looking back while looking forward, echoing it, see this recent scientific research by Philip Zimbardo: :-)
Or see this for the words of an esteemed scientist, Albert Einstein, on how science is, indeed, not enough to build a meaningful life: :-)
Of course, between internet and homeschooling, maybe duty may be less "fretfully" acted on these days (114 years later) within the confines of the home? :-) At least, I am trying. :-) When I'm not scrubbing the toilet as a stay-at-home dad. :-)
Scrubbing toilets, even CIA information toilets, is probably an apt metaphor for dealing with so many problems in our society. :-)
"Growing Up With Gandhi"
"One of my jobs, which continued at the second ashram where I lived for many years, was to clean the toilets with a partner. Every newcomer in the ashram was given that job because it was work that people hated. When a Brahmin would tell Gandhi that he wanted to stay there, he would say; "All right. Our initiation process is to join the toilet cleaning team." So there would be an adult as my junior partner, and I would be the senior partner, trying to help him. This person had to pass through an inner struggle, because for thousands of years his community would never have done such a thing. He would never have even considered eating with anyone who would clean a toilet. But he would have to do it to stay in the ashram; that was a test, the beginning of his preparation."
And now, through the miracle of all that we have created with fancy technology, a "Princeton" education is now affordable for all: :-)
See, the Germans are finally getting it about abundance... :-) Rather than invade some neighboring country to get slaves to scrub their toilets (my mom was forced to do that for a time, for a barracks of Nazi soldiers in Arnhem, sentenced by a judge for her association with a German soldier, the Nazis then being sticklers for legality and paperwork), Germans have now used their vast ingenuity to make a machine that can do toilet scrubbing instead of requiring slaves (or imprisoned "criminals").
So, these days, it's great to see that some Germans creating toilet scrubbing robots instead of creating military drones (like in the USA) that are essentially intended to force some people to scrub other people's toilets. That, my friends, is progress. :-) And so, Germany has become a reformed Tadodaho, after all these years, through a long process of social change that is very different than being "defeated" in a physical battle.
Taken from Quakers Are Funny! by Chuck Fager, Kimo Press, 1987: One World War II Quaker conscientious objector had been a professional wrestler. Once when he and some other inmates of the Coshocton CPS camp in Ohio made a trip into town, they were hassled about their pacifism by some local youths, who insisted that only force could change the German's views. In response, the ex-wrestler took off his coat, challenged one of the local boys to a match, and promptly threw the townie across the room. He then asked the youth, "Now do you believe that force won't change people's views?"
"Heck no!" the local boy hollered back.
"That's exactly my point," said the Quaker, who put on his coat and left."
And, I really, sincerely mean that point about progress in Germany in a good and not-ironic way, coming from someone whose mother suffered at the hands of both Germans and her own people, and who had relatives worked to death in the camps. That is, to me, what "never again" should mean, rather than think "never again" should mean having ever more independent military robots to defend against other people's military robots and to keep the same darn cycle going forever, with house after house firebombed until they are all gone. A related example of such a discussion I was in:
To me, that toilet scrubbing robot shows a reformed Tadodaho Germany -- a Germany that does not need to be kept under military threat, with your back always needing to be watched in worry in case Germany got a weapon. The toilet-scrubbing bot-making Germany is a country one can be friends with again, who can be part of a community of nations.
Of course, technology can be used in a variety of ways. Germany is also a home to a lot of great free software. Similarly, with technology, one can access and integrate so many stories from the present and the past, even at home now. For example, my wife's free book on that:
And free software:
One can even think about using technology to address Woodrow Wilson's concern about forgetting outside a formal organizational context entirely, through the world wide web over the internet...
David Caploe (a PU grad school alum) has his own online take on that, which I wish well:
"The Minerva School: MA & PhD in Critical Thinking"
"The Minerva School PhD in Critical Thinking combines the most powerful theoretical insights of six key disciplines: political economy, history, structural anthropology, verstehende sociology, psychoanalysis, and the philosophy of communication. Without a keen awareness of, and familiarity with, the insights of ALL these disciplines, it is essentially impossible to begin to understand even the most elementary aspects of a “globalized” world – let alone the kinds of complexity thrown in by the current financial and economic crisis."
While I agree with that sentiment as far as understanding complex systems, for contrast, I'm myself thinking more about supporting informal internet-based groups that are not "accredited" in any formal sense, and which do not offer any "degrees", and which do not involve tuition fees, etc.. And there are probably millions of such informal groups already on the internet, even if they could probably still benefit from better communications tools.
As I suggest in "Post-Scarcity Princeton", we can even "go back" in our review of history all the way and celebrate the best aspects of the hunter/gatherer times (see Marshall Sahlins on "The Original Affluent Society") while moving beyond the worst of those days with modern technology and some social innovations to create a better future.
Or, generalizing on Woodrow Wilson's point elsewhere in that speech on the importance of Latin and Greek classics, we can also consider Chinese classics, Indian classics, Native American classics, and so on, where he says: "Your enlightenment depends on the company you keep. You do not know the world until you know the men who have possessed it and tried its ways before ever you were given your brief run upon it. ..."
Still, Woodrow Wilson goes off the rails a bit with: "The books have disappeared which were not genuine which spoke things which, if they were worth saying at all, were not worth hearing more than once, as well as the books which spoke permanent things clumsily and without the gift of interpretation. The kind air which blows from age to age has disposed of them like vagrant leaves. There was sap in them for a little, but now they are gone, we do not know where. All literature that has lasted has this claim upon us: that it is not dead; but we cannot be quite so sure of any as we are of the ancient literature that still lives, because none has lived so long. It holds a sort of leadership in the aristocracy of natural selection."
While I agree somewhat with that sentiment, it is possible that active censorship in the past may well have destroyed many good books. We have even recent examples of totalitarian societies that restrict various books, given such cultures may not be trusting to this "natural selection" process that Woodrow Wilson mentions... And also, natural selection can work in all sorts of odd ways, even on "memes" (see evolutionary biology for lots of types of selection).
And what good are good books if you never hear about them, since your media environment is saturated 24X7 with exciting mental junk food?
And that starts to bring us into the areas where "elitism" begins to fail, and, as Chomsky says, "What Makes the Mainstream Media Mainstream"
in terms of a filtering process. Our elite filtering process, according to Chomsky, punishes deviations from a mainstream line by excluding views and people through all sorts of ways of marginalizing them, which then leads both to self-censorship and only having people in positions of power who have engaged in a lifetime of self-censorship (or who don't need to self-censor because they so believe in the mainstream).
So, Woodrow Wilson's point missed out on how every generation shapes the legacy of the books from the past that it chooses to keep around (as in Orwell's 1984 or Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451). And, of course, so many books just don't get written because of lack of time, as history is written by the victors (who may have more free time, in any case, than their slaves). And, ultimately, information in terms of memes is its own sort of creature, and some are perhaps infectious in a bad way at different stages of a person's (or culture's) intellectual development. Examples are Nazism as it was to pre-WWII Germany, or radical Islam to the Middle East right now, or some weird and inconsistent mix of big government corporate welfare, neoconservatist military escapades, a "24" torture/vengeance fetish, and libertarian cutting of the social safety net and corporate regulation in the USA also now. So there is truth to what Wilson said, but not the whole truth.
Is all that ultimately, what led to Harold Helm's censorship from TigerNet? Was he censored from the system because he tried, in a very Woodrow Wilson-ish "conservative" way, to provide people alternative information in an attempt to get the institution to remain engaged with current events, to take the fancy words and apply them to the health and happiness and security of everyone in the world, out of a sense of duty the institution and other forces in his life helped instill in him? And the institution failed him? And then filtered him? And I don't mean just the censorship side of it failed him. I'm sure Harold has other things he might like to do with his time (photography?) besides post stuff on TigerNet (or elsewhere), and he might not have felt so compelled to post on Tigernet regularly on all these alternative issues if Princeton University and the alumni community had not already drifted so far from the ideal Woodrow Wilson raised up in his speech. The result of that drift including, for example, the Bush presidency, the 9/11 blowback for decades of anti-democratic foreign policy (and perhaps related coverups), the disastrous PU-alum Rumsfeld wars, and now, sadly, a mostly ineffectual timid Obama presidency... (Although I remain glad Obama has not launched another war, well except maybe already in Pakistan and soon Iran? Would better intelligence systems to help see other alternatives for building a joyful, healthy, secure world help prevent that?)
Perhaps to find the best part of the value of Princeton University, we really need to start "going back" in history as Woodrow Wilson did in his speech (I left out some of that at the beginning)? Maybe we can "go back" to the institution's founding, and the troubles it overcame as a community long before it was a huge organization and much more of an upholder of a dysfunctional status quo (like now through the economics department, and even, despite his good heart, an essentially mainstream Paul Krugman)? There can be great value to look back, and to admire the social community and courage and commitment of those times -- even though, frankly, the British pledged to free all the Black slaves if they won, and was on better terms with many Native tribes like the Iroquois, and the USA later proceeded to wipe out what was left of the American natives. So it's a bit hard to completely admire without reservation the American Revolutionaries in our current context, so one must consider them in the context of their times, and at least see the good parts of what they aspired to... In the same way one can admire Columbus as an organizer, visionary, and explorer, while condemn other aspects of what he did, especially after he got to Haiti...
Anyway, it is, somehow, in a Woodrow Wilson sense, that we as a society (and government) in the USA have lost our way, and lost our connection to the better parts of our past.
I first visited Princeton on a trip related to the Presbyterian Church I was brought up it. I had forgotten that trip as it had been raining hard so we just saw the inside of a couple buildings, and it had been incidental to a longer trip from Long Island to Philadelphia with my church youth group. But that forgotten visit years earlier was why I had such a sense of deja vu when I visited campus with my father, and part of why I felt I should apply. I'm not sure at what point I figure out the connection, it might have been towards the end of that visit...
So, I guess I remain a believer in the better aspects of Princeton (or for that matter, Presbyterianism) having discarded much else of the institutional dogma. :-) Similarly, I tease my wife that she is the best Catholic I know (because she discarded the worst of the Roman Catholic dogma while still embracing the best of the values and acting on them). Unitarian Universalists have a dogma I find I can embrace more of, for reference, but there is not a congregation that close by.
There actually are some Presbyterian-ish ministers in my recent ancestry. :-) I'm probably related to this Christian guy not too distantly (I don't know the exact relation and I've never contacted him):
"Harry Fernhout is president of The King's University College, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. A former president of the Institute for Christian Studies,Toronto, he holds doctoral and master's degrees in Philosophy of Education from the University of Toronto, as well as a master's degree in Philosophy from the Institute for Christian Studies. Prior to his presidency at ICS, he served that institution as vice president and professor."
Maybe preaching is in my blood? :-) On the other side there are some carnies, so I guess maybe I'm just running a preachy sideshow here? :-)
I recently got a note from someone who liked this post of mine from the other day:
"How free&happy&healthy is capitalist Europ (Score:5, Informative)"
So, it is little things like that which can help keep one going, too. :-)
Anyway, what many people miss is that I may write to individuals, but my audience includes those I assume are monitoring or will later review most digital communications (Constitutional or not, and US or not), as well as other individuals who may get a stray forward now and then or see stuff I post to public newsgroups when searching on topics (essentially, writing holographically in a sense). Still, within that framework, I'm all ears as to ways they could be improved. :-) I definitely feel I've seeded enough out there, and really need to focus on different stuff (better tools). But it remains hard to let current events pass without comment.
Now, if my wife would just not nag every couple of weeks about how I am not making any money doing this (when she gets a lot per hour for corporate data analysis work, and we don't especially want for money at the moment relative to how bad things could be, or have been. :-) But, the fact is, we're still both born and raised US Americans, with certain cultural expectations. That's really the main reason I've wanted to get a grant or venture funding or something to support this work, to reduce my wife's nagging in relation to stuff I'm going to do anyway. :-)
"The need for FOSS intelligence tools for sensemaking etc."
Well, the porch roof (just a piece of plywood that someone did a poor job of roofing over with some butting roofing paper sheets before we moved in) has needed fixing for a couple of years, but it's not like it leaks inside the house, and in the summer the leak on the porch keeps the houseplants out there watered. :-) But without health or life/accident insurance, and not liking heights, I'm reluctant to fix it myself, even though a neighbor generously offered to help me fix it (he helped another neighbor put in a roof too; he used to do repair work high up on NYC buildings).
A digression about what makes the mainstream media mainstream
[I added this entire section afterwards]
I would probably have a lot more time and money for fixing the porch roof and buying myself health/life/accident/disability insurance if I did not write essays like this (or do other stuff like homeschool/unschool). Although we did at least recently redo the porch screens and do some related painting, so there is some progress. :-)
Still, it's ironic there is lots of money for porch repair and insurance for writers who beat the drums for war.
That's all part of What makes the Mainstream Media Mainstream.
Here is an article about that Washington Post columnist suggesting Obama should reprise the successful (from one point of view) Bush approach to governance and economics through warfare:
"David Broder: War With Iran Will Save Economy, Obama Presidency"
"What else might affect the economy? The answer is obvious, but its implications are frightening. War and peace influence the economy. Look back at FDR and the Great Depression. What finally resolved that economic crisis? World War II. Here is where Obama is likely to prevail. With strong Republican support in Congress for challenging Iran's ambition to become a nuclear power, he can spend much of 2011 and 2012 orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs. This will help him politically because the opposition party will be urging him on. And as tensions rise and we accelerate preparations for war, the economy will improve."
Original article, and he does weasel at the end:
"The war recovery?"
"I am not suggesting, of course, that the president incite a war to get reelected. But the nation will rally around Obama because Iran is the greatest threat to the world in the young century. If he can confront this threat and contain Iran's nuclear ambitions, he will have made the world safer and may be regarded as one of the most successful presidents in history."
See, I'm the marginalized fruitbat as seen from some corners of the asylum :-) because I suggest we could maybe cooperate to build intrinsic/mutual security for everyone, and maybe we could think a bit about how we might make the world work for everyone and how everything we make fits together and could be recycled. That is all a sign of craziness in this culture, I'll admit it. :-) (I'm probably nutty in other way too, of course, like eating whole foods including raw cashews. :-)
Not to say I have not been inspired by other nuts of various s orts:
"Stallman Crashes Talk, Fights 'War On Sharing'"
"Free software activist Richard Stallman has called for the end of the 'war on sharing' at the World Computer Congress in Brisbane, Australia. He criticized surveillance, censorship, restrictive data formats, and software-as-a-service in a keynote presentation, and asserted that digital society had to be 'free' in order to be a benefit, and not an attack. Earlier in the conference, Stallman had briefly interrupted a European Patent Office presentation with a placard that said: 'Don't get caught in software patent thickets.' He told journalists that the Patent Office was 'here to campaign in favor of software patents in Australia,' arguing that 'there's no problem that requires a solution with anything like software patents.'"
David Broder, on the other hand, is a respected columnist at the Washington Post (presumably with health insurance and a nice fat retirement fund), because you can trust him to say we can make our lives better off by destroying infrastructure and killing other people (people who have done us no obvious substantial recent harm nor are threatening to do so -- an Iranian-American dentist even saved my kid's teeth from the consequences of early vitamin D deficiency) -- or at least, threatening to do so as a way to create national unity. See also:
"Mr. Costello, Hero"
See how that works? People like me who want to share and build infrastructure are though to be crazy and become marginalized from the mainstream. People who want to bomb infrastructure and kill people (or at least threaten it) and get them to fight and compete are sane and well paid.
Like no doubt many, many artists, activists, and makers, I understand how that social game works,
"The murdering of my years: artists & activists making ends meet"
and I probably have the skills if not the experience to play it -- I just don't want to. :-)
From "War Games":
[after playing out all possible outcomes for Global Thermonuclear War]
Joshua: Greetings, Professor Falken.
Stephen Falken: Hello, Joshua.
Joshua: A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?
Now, obviously, I'm not the only one who sees a problem there. Someone wrote a Huffington Post article about that. And there were 86 pages of comments on it. :-) So, I'm not completely out on a limb by myself here. :-)
And a lot of people might be right to also point out that maybe more progress is made by ignoring all this nonsense and just making stuff. :-) Sorry if I'm just not back at the point at the moment (beyond making essays).
And then there is the fact that many "services" are just about guarding against unauthorized access to the fruits of industrial abundance or are otherwise about the enforcement of artificial scarcity. See:
"But then most work isn't worth trying to save. Only a small and diminishing fraction of work serves any useful purpose independent of the defense and reproduction of the work-system and its political and legal appendages. Twenty years ago, Paul and Percival Goodman estimated that just five percent of the work then being done -- presumably the figure, if accurate, is lower now -- would satisfy our minimal needs for food, clothing and shelter. Theirs was only an educated guess but the main point is quite clear: directly or indirectly, most work serves the unproductive purposes of commerce or social control. Right off the bat we can liberate tens of millions of salesmen, soldiers, managers, cops, stockbrokers, clergymen, bankers, lawyers, teachers, landlords, security guards, ad-men and everyone who works for them. There is a snowball effect since every time you idle some bigshot you liberate his flunkies and underlings also. Thus the economy implodes. "
Related (but flawed in the sense of ignoring service jobs going away too someday):
"The three-sector hypothesis is an economic theory which divides economies into three sectors of activity: extraction of raw materials (primary), manufacturing (secondary), and services (tertiary). It was developed by Colin Clark and Jean Fourastié. According to the hypothesis, the main focus of an economy's activity shifts from the primary, through the secondary and finally to the tertiary sector."
The reason that I, Marshall Brain, Martin Ford, Bob Black, Jeremy Rifkin, and lots of others all need to be considered as raving lunatic nutcases is that our entire hierarchical social edifice is built upon an income-through-jobs link, and if productivity is rising, then to keep things in balance the old way, you need to find a way to destroy infrastructure, kill people, keep them in prison, keep them in school forever, and in other ways create make work. That's why someone like David Broder has a good paying job in the media and I don't. I've been fortunate I have still had some time to write, anyway. Related:
"What Makes Mainstream Media Mainstream"
Most people do not get that chance -- and that is sad.
If you break that income-through-jobs link, like Marshall Brain portrays at the start of "Manna", the whole social pyramid will collapse since most people will have no way to pay for food or shelter even if it is cheap and ubiquitous. Or, perhaps, if we are lucky, instead our society transform and transcend to something better for most people. I think Kevin Carson would be right to point out here that the cost of the means of production will fall too, so there is the option of increased local subsistence -- if you have land to live on and if draconian laws (or taxes) don't prevent you from making stuff for yourself.
But, the link between jobs and income is breaking anyway through the continued development of productive technology, even as so many people do their best to maintain the status quo. The problem is, and I say this as someone who really is pretty much a conformist, at some point, it is not a good idea to be conforming by sitting quietly in a bus being driven over a cliff by someone with no interest in looking out the window (because the official map says there is a bridge there) -- and neither is it a good idea to be inciting yet more war in the Middle East. Related humor as long as you're not involved:
"Nicaragua Accidentally Invades Costa Rica, Blames Google Maps"
The way to deal with the Iranian nuclear "threat" is to rethink the USA's approach to global geopolitics and encourage mutual security and intrinsic security globally, as I suggest here:
The problem is not that yet another country is going to get atomic weapons (as if they did not probably already have biotech plagues); the problem is, as Albert Einstein said in the 1940s, with the knowledge of how to harness the power of the atom (or I might add biotech, robotics, nanotech, networks, etc.), everything has changed but our way of thinking.
But something like the risk of global thermonuclear war is really just so abstract and hazy. Unemployment is very real to the average person.
Technological unemployment has been talked about for decades, if one wants to see the recent roots of these ideas. An example from 1964:
"There is no question that cybernation does increase the potential for the provision of funds to neglected public sectors. Nor is there any question that cybernation would make possible the abolition of poverty at home and abroad. But the industrial system does not possess any adequate mechanisms to permit these potentials to become realities. The industrial system was designed to produce an ever-increasing quantity of goods as efficiently as possible, and it was assumed that the distribution of the power to purchase these goods would occur almost automatically. The continuance of the income-through-jobs link as the only major mechanism for distributing effective demand — for granting the right to consume — now acts as the main brake on the almost unlimited capacity of a cybernated productive system."
As I see it, there are at least two great waves converging right now.
One is the up and down one of business cycles and credit crunches and so on. That's the one that gets almost all the ink in the Wall Street Journal. And, it is a real trend. And things may even get a bit better as it is dealt with.
But the other trend is a long term trend towards increased productivity by "cybernation" among other things. It is a trend that is exponential to some degree right now (as Roy Amara and Ray Kurzweil and others have talked about) and is represented by everything from RepRap to PV to PR2 to the MacBook Air to an Android phone.
That flattening in demand for paid services as productivity grows exponentially is the "trend that cannot speak its name". :-)
Related by me:
"[p2p-research] Ralph Nader, exponential growth, trimtabs, S-curves"
Some people do mention the trend to greater productivity here and there, of course. Here is an example of that (most of the other comments to that article make interesting reading too, for different reasons, as an audience pushed back in relation to why rust belt voters voted Republican):
"A comment by "Moe" on: Midwest at DuskBack to Article » By DAVID BROOKS ... America has to figure out how to build a decent future for working-class people in the country’s heartland."
Moe in Montreal; Montreal Quebec; November 5th, 2010; 1:37 am
I agree wholeheartedly except for the part of no one offering a solution. The solutions are dramatic and do not fit into the political social dialog.
The turn to the centre right is a denial of reality. We develop technology that has made the jobs we are losing unproductive. The need for workers diminishes everyday and just as surely as John Henry was unable to keep up with the steam drill humans cannot match the machines of today in terms of efficiency, speed or cost an economic model based on management and labour can survive the new reality. The insanity of increasing the retirement age from 60 to 62 in France flies in the face of reason. Even as unemployment steadily increases productivity continues to increase and we face ruin because we cannot consume enough goods to keep up with production. The centre right demands more and more production to the problem of not enough consumption. "Who the Gods seek to destroy they first make mad." We figured out many years ago that it made sense to pay farmers not to grow certain crops maybe the time has come to pay people not to engage in certain behaviours. I for one would happily pay higher taxes to pay people who believe Obama to be a Muslim and a socialist to not engage in any kind of politics.
Having lived in the mid-west and being married to a mid westerner I understand the frustration of an ethic of hard work and honesty especially when it is of little benefit and is oft time a hindrance to financial betterment, employment or social success.
In my 60+ years on this planet my work skills have not been in high demand and my abilities to analyze outcomes has made me something of a pariah. I remember a COMDEX in Chicago and a conversation with a young man of 25 who said by the time he was 35 his knowledge and expertise would be obsolete and he would have to go back to school. The fact that in the centre right view of the world that at the precise moment when one's economic needs are their highest one's ability to earn income is at its lowest should tell all of us that our system is broken. It is not broken so that it can be repaired it is broken beyond repair, it is in the midst of its final gasp. Most of our labour is unneeded if we want full employment we need a shorter work week or much earlier retirement and the development of new technology makes are skills less and less valuable. The first computer I worked on required a keypunch department, a programming department, computer room operating staff and a unit records staff my small desk top is much more powerful and can do more for less than the cost of a single tape. People still talk about the Weimar Republic and how you needed a wheelbarrow full of money to buy a loaf of bread this was because money was much more abundant than bread so they needed more flour and more bakers this is situation ideal for right centre thinking. Now we have too much bread, too many bakers and too many wheelbarrows and we are looking to the same solutions to remedy the exact opposite problem.
We must bring some type of meaning and value to the lives of all our people even though we cannot provide them with 40-60 hours of work a week. Not everyone is capable of sitting around bemoaning the waste of a University of Chicago education on a David Brooks these people need some affirmation of their lives not the anger and rage that the media so easily provides. The centre right and centre left provide with a centre which is no longer viable we need radical change but the old definition of left and right are as relevant as the old economic model.
Solutions will require radical changes in how we function as a society and as a nation. I would agree with the Teaparty, we need a new kind of central government but if we do have more local control we must have much more heterogeneous communities. Etzioni's Communitarian model is one of many solutions worth considering it is certainly better than raising the retirement age when with the speed of technology we may not need the labours of anyone over 25 in 10-15 years. The solution are difficult and they will take much time and effort but to survive the current economic and social upheaval the US must immediately establish a social safety net and unfortunately what I saw happen Tuesday night was a rejection of a critical piece of the puzzle if we are to have a future.
But, that was only one comment out of 264, even if a few other ones touched on some of these topics (I did not read them all).
So, let's say that about 1% to 2% of the population get this issue. The question is, will that level of awareness hold, or will it spread linearly, or will it spread exponentially? (Accepting that, maybe I am a fruitcake? Along with Moe, Ray, Marshall, Martin, etc.? :-)
Note that these exponential trends are different from *other* legitimate comments one might make about capitalism or elitism and are more common,
for example (two items by others):
* A slashdot comment on elitism and capitalism
* The Mythology of Wealth.
Obviously, one can not expect too much financial sense in the New York Times journalists, but one might at least ask for better in, say, the Wall Street Journal.
How must all this exponential technological growth as well as the expansion of volunteerism and the reduction in the value of most paid labor look to a Wall Street Journal editor? Here are some speculations...
It does not matter to the Wall Street Journal editors that agriculture is gone as a source of jobs since agriculture is old fashioned. I've met people who would love to be farmers but can't between agricultural land near cities costing too much and food prices being so low, but to a WSJ editor, it should not matter whether a person (except them) likes their work or feels an emotional satisfaction from it. The ending of agriculture as a source of jobs is a combination of history and whining by those young people who need to face reality. And besides, people are better off now because they have iPhones.
It does not matter to the WSJ editors that manufacturing jobs making iPhones are going away and that people bemoan the loss of good jobs, because no gentleman would get his hands dirty with actually making something (besides newspapers). Those whiners should get service jobs as hairdressers and waiters and X-ray technologists (even as family members can cut your hair, eating out too much is generally bad for your health, and soon we'll probably have inexpensive medical diagnostic equipment that requires little training to use).
"$18,500 The CTS-8800 diagnostic ultrasound is a color high quality, high definition, easy to use, musculoskeletal unit which is light and portable. The unit also comes equipped with a multi frequency probe, vascular testing capability, and the ability to interface with your computer and EMR. This is a perfect ultrasound machine for podiatry, orthopedic, vascular, or ob/gyn practices. ... Unlike complicated operation in traditional 4D ultrasound imaging, the CTS-8800 adopts simple and quick operation method. Just with a few simple steps, the 4D ultrasound images can be easily obtained."
Those things are going to work with your cell phone in twenty years and cost, at most, US$20 (ignoring liability insurance costs. :-) Similar to this trend:
"George Whitesides: A lab the size of a postage stamp"
Still, it's probably a little disconcerting to the editors at the WSJ that the WSJ *itself* (and all the service jobs it represents) is mostly going away as a paying enterprise. Of course, that's a good reason for government subsidies and stronger copyright laws enforced by the police. :-) Related:
"Government newspaper subsidies: threat to democracy or essential to its survival?"
But no doubt the WSJ editors remain supremely confident that voluntary social networks for information distribution are only a passing fad. After all, how bad can a little leak in an earthen dam of artificial scarcity be? Related:
"On Saturday, June 5, 1976, at 7:30 a.m., a muddy leak appeared, suggesting sediment was in the water, but engineers did not believe there was a problem. By 9:30 a.m. the downstream face of the dam had developed a wet spot erupting water at 20 to 30 cubic feet per second (0.57 to 0.85 m3/s) and embankment material began to wash out. Crews with bulldozers were sent to plug the leak, but were unsuccessful. Local media appeared at the site, and at 11:15 officials told the county sheriff's office to evacuate downstream residents. Work crews were forced to flee on foot as the widening gap, now over the size of a swimming pool, swallowed their equipment. The operators of two bulldozers caught in the eroding embankment were pulled to safety with ropes. At 11:55 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time (UTC-6:00), the crest of the dam sagged and collapsed into the reservoir; two minutes later the remainder of the right-bank third of the main dam wall disintegrated. Over 2,000,000 cubic feet per second (57,000 m3/s) of sediment filled water emptied through the breach into the remaining 6 miles (9.7 km) of the Teton River canyon, after which the flood spread out and shallowed on the Snake River Plain. By 8:00 p.m. that evening, the reservoir had completely emptied, although over two-thirds of the dam wall remained standing."
It must just be a matter of working harder to "be more competetive"? Right?
And the WSJ is still "beating" the NYTimes, so it is "winning" right?
"If WSJ ad revenue is off 20%, other papers may face worse"
But, even when it is happening to their own company, it's just a fluke about *some* services. It can't be happening generally. There is no point in writing, talking, or, worse, thinking about it as a global trend. :-)
If I was much of a graphics artist, here is where I'd put a political cartoon about a WSJ editor scrunched up on the floor hiding his head under an issue of the newspaper while a lot of terms like "social networks" and "3d printing" and "FOSS" and "Wikipedia" and "post-scarcity" danced around above. The headline on the issue might read "WSJ editors decry widespread abundance" or something like that.
To be fair, I'm not being fair. :-) One can no doubt find some recognition of there being a problematical situation in the WSJ and some sort of need for change (even if confusion about the sorts of changes needed), as in this by Peggy Noonan:
"Remembering the Dawn of the Age of Abundance: Times are hard, but dynamism isn't dead."
I thought on the plane, for the first time in a long time, of the feeling of awe I had in 1990 and '91 and '92. ... I saw a young man named Steve Jobs prowl a New York stage and unveil a computer that then we thought tiny and today we'd call huge. A man named Steve Wozniak became a household god as my son reported his visionary ways. It was a time so full of genius and dynamism that it went beyond words like "breakthrough" and summoned words like "revolution." ... That was 25 years ago. The world was on fire. It has cooled. And the essential problem with the crash we're in is no one can imagine quite feeling that way again. People can remember it, but they can't quite resummon it. This isn't like the stock market crash of 1987 or the collapse of the dot-com bubble in 2001. People are not feeling passing anger or disappointment, they're feeling truly frightened. The reasons: This isn't stock market heebie-jeebies, it's systemic collapse. It's not just here, it's global. It's not only economic, but political. It wasn't only mortgage companies that acted up and acted out, so did our government, all the governments of the West, spending what they didn't have, for a decade at least. Perhaps the biggest factor behind the new pessimism is the knowledge that the crisis is not only economic but political, that we'll have to change both cultures, economic and political, to turn the mess around. ... All of this hunkering down has stopped the great churning, the buying, selling and buying that was at the heart of our prosperity. ...
Almost there, but at the end she can't consider things really have changed, or that our prosperity had more to do with the *making* (which she does not mention) than the *buying* and *selling* and *churning* (which she does).
But her conclusion is still probably half-right (though ignoring FOSS and social networks as well as the need for big government to do things like enforce regulation or create a basic income etc.): "I end with a hunch that is not an unhappy one. Dynamism has been leached from our system for now, but not from the human brain or heart. Just as our political regeneration will happen locally, in counties and states that learn how to control themselves and demonstrate how to govern effectively in a time of limits, so will our economic regeneration. That will begin in someone's garage, somebody's kitchen, as it did in the case of Messrs. Jobs and Wozniak. The comeback will be from the ground up and will start with innovation. No one trusts big anymore. In the future everything will be local. That's where the magic will be. And no amount of pessimism will stop it once it starts."
By the way, there again is the link between conservatives and open manufacturing. :-)
"The Big Society is the flagship policy idea of the 2010 Conservative Party general election manifesto and forms part of the legislative programme of the Conservative – Liberal Democrat Coalition Agreement. The aim is "to create a climate that empowers local people and communities, building a big society that will 'take power away from politicians and give it to people'."."
Even as I think that is only part of the future solutions.
Business school educators face the same problem. Consider:
"Learning in Dorm, Because Class Is on the Web"
"Like most other undergraduates, Anish Patel likes to sleep in. Even though his Principles of Microeconomics class at 9:35 a.m. is just a five-minute stroll from his dorm, he would rather flip open his laptop in his room to watch the lecture, streamed live over the campus network. On a recent morning, as Mr. Patel’s two roommates slept with covers pulled tightly over their heads, he sat at his desk taking notes on Prof. Mark Rush’s explanation of the term “perfect competition.” A camera zoomed in for a close-up of the blackboard, where Dr. Rush scribbled in chalk, “lots of firms and lots of buyers.” ... The University of Florida broadcasts and archives Dr. Rush’s lectures less for the convenience of sleepy students like Mr. Patel than for a simple principle of economics: 1,500 undergraduates are enrolled and no lecture hall could possibly hold them. ... “When I look back, I think it took away from my freshman year,” said Kaitlyn Hartsock, a senior psychology major at Florida who was assigned to two online classes during her first semester in Gainesville. “My mom was really upset about it. She felt like she’s paying for me to go to college and not sit at home and watch through a computer.” "
I can almost guarantee you that there was not a word in any of Prof. Mark Rush's lectures about how service jobs like his doing school teaching will be going away due to improvements in productivity through streaming media technology and voluntary social networks. :-) Example:
With that said, sure, some "newspapers" or even "universities" may be left profitable still at a big size with some changes for the next decade or two, and with such a well known brand, the Wall Street Journal or Harvard University may be among the few who manage that. Social momentum may keep other going a lot longer than they should.
Anyway, that's all part of the irony of the transition -- the editors of newspapers can't even see it when it is happening to them and are left bewildered, desperate, and lash out even more. Related:
"Murdoch's First Newspaper Paywall Not Off to a Great Start"
The same has been happening to the academic world, too, as above. And most academics are either in ignorance or denial about it. And most economists still think this all is some kind of fluke.
"They Did Their Homework (800 Years of It)"
"Like a pair of financial sleuths, Ms. Reinhart and her collaborator from Harvard, Kenneth S. Rogoff, have spent years investigating wreckage scattered across documents from nearly a millennium of economic crises and collapses."
"How Did Economists Get It So Wrong?"
"The Freshwater vs. Saltwater Debate"
"So, Krugman was profoundly wrong; all Econ Ph.D.'s are trained like robots to do fast algebra. Of course, computers can do algebra more quickly and more precisely. That's not the point. The rationale is the same as training modern military men with hand-to-hand combat. It's to put hair on your chest and to make you committed to the system. To institutionalize you. And it does put hair on your chest. The only problem is that if you go into a Ph.D. program as a market fundamentalist, you will exit as a market fundamentalist, b/c history is decidedly not taught. I can see it with job market candidates. They all think they have to flex their mathematical muscles in their job talks, and so the basic paper in economics takes a conjecture, often unsupported by any seriously-considered logic or data, and they make a hideously complicated model full of assumptions that nobody believes, and then arrive at a conclusion which matches their priors. In this way, they don't need to form an argument that their prior beliefs are correct; they've just proved it! And in doing so, they've insulated themselves from any need to support their arguments with reason..."
In general, money is not the issue
But certainly, in general, money is not the issue. As I say here:
A flow into foundations of $55 trillion is expected over the next 25 years:
"Is Open Source the Answer To Giving?"
And TV watching is consuming 2,000 Wikipedias per year (just in the USA):
"Mining the Cognitive Surplus"
So no one should seriously suggest the absence of money or time for R&D and deployment is the problem for making either Spaceship Earth or Spaceship Mars (OpenVirgle) work for everyone, even at the same time. It comes down to issues like ideology and imagination, not "resources".
Such an abundant world we live in. Every night when I go to sleep, I try to make a list of all the things I'm thankful for, and the list just seems to get longer every day, from a nice warm and dry place to sleep, to fresh vegetables, to my family, to clean water, to the sun and the moon and the stars, to all the people out there doing great stuff, and so on... :-)
And, it appears, according to PU researchers, that the price of happiness as far as material goods maxes out at *only* US$75K a year. Thus we may see limited demand going forward, as the entire world reaches that level and then moves up Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs to more spiritual and self-actualizing pursuits which generally are not very expensive. Reference:
"Does happiness rise with income? In one of the more scientific attempts to answer that question, researchers from Princeton have put a price on happiness. It's about $75,000 in income a year. They found that not having enough money definitely causes emotional pain and unhappiness. But, after reaching an income of about $75,000 per year, money can't buy happiness. More money can, however, help people view their lives as successful or better. The study found that people's evaluations of their lives improved steadily with annual income. But the quality of their everyday experiences — their feelings — did not improve above an income of $75,000 a year. As income decreased from $75,000, people reported decreasing happiness and increasing sadness, as well as stress. The study found that being divorced, being sick and other painful experiences have worse effects on a poor person than on a wealthier one.""
[I snipped a section here I never sent trying to make a point about how someone probably well meaning but fiscally conservative that I know might see some of these points, removed mainly to protect that person's privacy if/when someone forwards this. This says some of those points: http://www.pdfernhout.net/basic-income-from-a-millionaires-perspective.html ]
I think E.F. Schumacher said it best here about wealth and work:
"The Buddhist point of view takes the function of work to be at least threefold: to give man a chance to utilise and develop his faculties; to enable him to overcome his ego-centredness by joining with other people in a common task; and to bring forth the goods and services needed for a becoming existence. Again, the consequences that flow from this view are endless. ... While the materialist is mainly interested in goods, the Buddhist is mainly interested in liberation. But Buddhism is "The Middle Way" and therefore in no way antagonistic to physical well-being. It is not wealth that stands in the way of liberation but the attachment to wealth; not the enjoyment of pleasurable things but the craving for them. The keynote of Buddhist economics, therefore, is simplicity and non-violence. From an economist’s point of view, the marvel of the Buddhist way of life is the utter rationality of its pattern -- amazingly small means leading to extraordinarily satisfactory results. For the modern economist this is very difficult to understand. He is used to measuring the "standard of living" by the amount of annual consumption, assuming all the time that a man who consumes more is "better off" than a man who consumes less. A Buddhist economist would consider this approach excessively irrational: since consumption is merely a means to human well-being, the aim should be to obtain the maximum of well-being with the minimum of consumption. ..."
Anyway, the other night, my wife said she will stop nagging me about making money doing this as long as I promised I will even out things sometime with in the next thirty years, which I did. :-) I'm a lucky guy. :-)
See 8:48 in from this ending to the Director's Cut of Brazil for a kiss: :-)
Amidst an otherwise crazy and horrendous circumstance. :-(
About fourteen years ago, my wife and I watched the Director's Cut of Brazil together. She had seen the movie years earlier (on TV I think) and said what a great movie it was and that I'd like it. So, we watched it on DVD, and the ending was a real depressing shocker. It turns out, the ending she had seen and was all happy about was changed for TV and a US American audience to make it happier.
Still, the very final ending there in the Director's cut is actually at least a bit of hope -- though not for the squeamish (in the disgusted sense, not the moralistic one). It suggests there is always escape from torture, though not in the ways we might usually fantasize about. It is, in that sense, and ending I hang on to as a bit of security. :-)
Sadly, the cloak of secrecy may be used to hide all sorts of pointless cruelty (except, not pointless to those who enjoy dishing it out).
Anyway, I raise that because, to be frank, it's a little nutty (a mix of Don Quixote, David & Goliath, and Brazil, plus more) for me to think that I can do much about the hurricane of the CIA -- an organization which is in turn part of a bigger governance system that seems very out-of-control as far as focusing on creating a joyful, healthy, widely prosperous, mutually secure, and intrinsically secure global society. The election of both Bush and Obama seem to demonstrate that (although in different ways). To seek to change that situation, by myself, is obviously like just spitting into a hurricane (or pissing into the wind, to use a phrase from my PU graduate advisor).
And even the 1984 parallels in Brazil leave out that Brave New World may well be more of the ongoing problem; from Wikipedia:
Social critic Neil Postman contrasts the worlds of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World in the foreword of his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death. He writes:
"What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the o*gy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that our desire will ruin us."
Journalist Christopher Hitchens, who has himself published several articles on Huxley and a book on Orwell, notes the difference between the two texts in the introduction to his 1999 article "Why Americans Are Not Taught History":
"We dwell in a present-tense culture that somehow, significantly, decided to employ the telling expression "You're history" as a choice reprobation or insult, and thus elected to speak forgotten volumes about itself. By that standard, the forbidding dystopia of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four already belongs, both as a text and as a date, with Ur and Mycenae, while the hedonist nihilism of Huxley still beckons toward a painless, amusement-sodden, and stress-free consensus. Orwell's was a house of horrors. He seemed to strain credulity because he posited a regime that would go to any lengths to own and possess history, to rewrite and construct it, and to inculcate it by means of coercion. Whereas Huxley ... rightly foresaw that any such regime could break but could not bend. In 1988, four years after 1984, the Soviet Union scrapped its official history curriculum and announced that a newly authorized version was somewhere in the works. This was the precise moment when the regime conceded its own extinction. For true blissed-out and vacant servitude, though, you need an otherwise sophisticated society where no serious history is taught."
So, it is more than keeping warm against ice, one must also beware the fire on the other side, in all sorts of ways connecting to historical trends -- rule by pain vs. rule by pleasure, dominance by hierarchies vs. dominance by meshworks, etc.. Life may well be found in some balance of all that, if life is what one seeks.
Related on teaching history in the USA:
"A conversation with historian and author James Loewen. Sort of. "
"Are textbooks a bad way to learn in general, or is history somehow unique? Well, a high school chemistry textbook is likely to be called Chemistry or Principles of Chemistry. The same is true in mathematics and even in English literature. But very few books are called American History or something bland like that. They’re called Rise of the American Nation; Triumph of the American Nation; The Great Experiment; The Great Republic; Land of the Free. These are real titles. What this says is that we are not just going to learn about history; we are going to salute it. It’s going to be an exercise in nationalism. I think that’s wrong because we develop stronger, more knowledgeable citizens if we teach history with all of its dirt and its glory, with all of its questions."
If we thought about the CIA, or Al-Qaeda, or really many other agencies or organizations around the globe dealing in intelligence or covert operations as hurricanes in history, it is foolish to think one person can stand against a hurricane. What is likely to happen is you will get a 2X4 ripped from a house driven through your brain at 150 mph, such as, essentially, (spoiler) in the ending of the Directors' Cut of Brazil (though by other means). But, maybe there are other ways to approach this situation?
There are at least eight ways that I can see at the moment to deal with the hurricane of the CIA (or other global hurricanes, including to some extent Al-Qaeda, Mossad, MI6, or whoever):
* To begin with, for an official organization sponsored by a state like the CIA, one could hope for democratic oversight, which presumably exists in some form, as a first line of reigning such an organization in. But in practice such control is subverted by, as the above example with Obama suggested by Wayne Madsen, the fact that you are looking at an overall system where the agency protects its own existence. See Langdon Winner's "Autonomous Technology: Technics-out-of-control as a Theme in Political Thought" for examples of how this "reverse adaptation" happens for all sorts of organizations. If the CIA is running its own candidates, and all choices have such ties, well, then there is not much to choose from, right? As with Kerry vs. Bush, both Skull and Bones alumni whoever wins:
So, it's not even the foxes guarding the chickens. It is the fox guarding itself... If we just accept that the agency is not going away, and can not be directly overseen, then we can move on to other ways of looking at the situation of how to co-exist with it.
* Historically, humans have survived hurricanes even with few resources like in Haiti. One can study how they have done that:
"In Haiti, the Art of Resilience "
Perhaps the very notion of having less makes one have a stronger community? The CIA has had difficulties infiltrating strong tribal communities, although while that may work for Afghans as a close-knit tribal culture knowing people from birth, that probably won't work for the internet (where no one knows both if you're a dog and if you work for the CIA.)
"On the Internet, Nobody Knows You're a Dog "
"CNC Machinist job related to custom bicycles & CIA version & comments"
And in any case, simply resisting infiltration would not deal with the bigger issues of a malfunctioning intelligence sector, directing the tools of abundance to be used as weapons to fight over perceived scarcity (like if your closeknit community gets wiped out by a government-created or terrorist-created bioweapon that wipes out humanity). So, I outline it for completeness, but it is in practice not much of an answer, and in any case, it would leave one always living in fear...
* In order to contain excesses, one could point out some form of corruption or cover-up at the center which, the theory goes, if only exposed would lead to some sort of popular rebellion. Example from fiction, with a key scene at the end where the population revolts in response to seeing one short video about how the government faked one news item: :-)
"The Running Man"
Lots of people try to expose hypothetical coverups involving the intelligence community (and such efforts are usually labeled "conspiracy theory"), but I suggest is mostly ineffective because like a hurricane, the center is probably just very calm. And people there are probably, truly, for the most part, thinking they are doing good, because that is their world view. Of course, Hitler also though he was doing good, and pretty much everything he did was legal, because he defined the law (the Nazis were, as I said, sticklers for proper paperwork and legality):
"Hitler's World View: A Blueprint for Power "
And in any case, the center is protected by layers of gale force winds around it. I suggest it is more useful to think that an agency like the CIA exists in its present form because of an overall social heat-dynamics in our society. Assuming an agency is the way it is because of just a few agents or a few "bad apples" at the bottom of the barrel seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of a hurricane (or a social organization). I'm not saying leadership does not matter (it does). There may well be some bad apples in the CIA (almost certainly, as any human organization has them, and secrecy helps breed and protect them). But the issue is more what sustains and empowers the bad apples, same as one can ask how individual terrorists may be empowered by grievances in a society or other social dynamics that cause, say, an otherwise moderate Muslim to look the other way (or even aid) a terrorist as opposed to turn one in. Effective anti-terrorism programs work to reduce that level of societal support for violent vengeful solutions in various ways and to help people learn how to work towards non-violent win/win solutions when possible. To build on that analogy, for background, how hurricanes work is explained here by Marshall Brain:
Essentially, for the USA, from that video, and stretched a bit for comedic effect, hurricanes often start in Africa near the Middle East and grow in strength from all the heat energy in the ocean and then may make landfall often around Washington, D.C.. I'd suggest that if we think about that analogy, we may find several other approaches to intervention to ensure the CIA is less harmful and is performing useful operations for truly increasing and maintaining US (and global) security.
* As an individual, or through a society defining building codes, one can build a hurricane proof place to live; examples:
Likewise, one can just lay low and live a very simple and non-controversial life, full of all the goodness one can. That's a great solution for an individual, one I highly recommend. Examples:
But for a society, it leaves out the sense that "silence implies consent". So, it's a good personal solution, and I hope most people pursue it, but then there are the solutions for the rest of us to pursue, us presumably identified as potential troublemakers and sent to places like Princeton to train us to make trouble in nicely organized clean-looking ways. :-) At the level of society, I'm not sure what building codes would be equivalent to, but they are probably like the idea of upholding the US Constitution somehow. Thus, many on the US political "right" are really right as far as supporting the Constitution. :-) Even if in the USA, a lot of other unrelated ideological baggage sometimes goes with that, a situation made problematical given that the founders did not anticipate a society with this much technology, a concentration of wealth, a dependency on a complex technosphere just to survive (no more family farms), etc.. Related:
Thus, for example, the call for a "basic income" in order to make our economics work better is rejected by the "conservatives" as just another tax and unconstitutional government intrusion, so everyone is getting squeezed between a political system conceived in the 18th century and a techno-economical system conceived of in the 20th century (and continually refined in the 21st). So, that leaves anyone trying to make change caught with one foot in each of two worlds, the 18th century and the 21st century. So, we have a "Tea Party" that literally seems to be out of the 18th century. :-) But they drive to their events in 21st century horseless carriages and essentially use magic to talk to each other. See:
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
But their politics do not accept that they live in an age of magic, where most typical human labor has less and less economic value... That is the real tragic irony of the Tea Party in the USA. However, on the left, the Green movement often actively rejects technology, rather than engaging with it to make it better, leaving that to conservatives. Even engineers can get locked into a deep irony. Here is a recent link Harold Helm sent me:
"Idea Lab - Why Are So Many Terrorists Engineers? - NYTimes.com"
"They say they believe in freedom and share our values. They say a few bad apples shouldn’t bring down judgment on their entire kind. Don’t be fooled. Though they walk among us with impunity, they are, in the words of Henry Farrell, a political scientist at George Washington University, “a group that is notoriously associated with terrorist violence and fundamentalist political beliefs.” They are engineers. ... Gambetta and Hertog found engineers only in right-wing groups — the ones that claim to fight for the pious past of Islamic fundamentalists or the white-supremacy America of the Aryan Nations (founder: Richard Butler, engineer) or the minimal pre-modern U.S. government that Stack and Bedell extolled. Among Communists, anarchists and other groups whose shining ideal lies in the future, the researchers found almost no engineers. Yet these organizations mastered the same technical skills as the right-wingers. ... The engineer mind-set, Gambetta and Hertog suggest, might be a mix of emotional conservatism and intellectual habits that prefers clear answers to ambiguous questions — “the combination of a sharp mind with a loyal acceptance of authority.” Do people become engineers because they are this way? Or does engineering work shape them? It’s probably a feedback loop of both, Gambetta says."Obviously, with my having an engineering mindset (even with degrees in psychology and E&E biology) and my arguing for transforming the CIA instead of disbanding it, that's something to think about in terms of considering where I am coming from.
* The video above suggests most US-damaging hurricanes start in Africa, around the Sahara desert. If we were to reforest the Sahara desert and the Middle East (it once was forest, chopped down in part from human efforts), perhaps not so many hurricanes would get started there? So, a large amount of charity directed to that part of the world, to rebuild infrastructure and make the world work for everyone, might yield great benefits in terms of reducing the things that justify an out-of-control CIA. And I'm not talking about the "charity" of yet another war, I'm talking about trillions of dollars in aid to that area entirely in a civilian way. So, we can perhaps get rid of both many social hurricanes and many physical hurricanes for one single huge investment by the USA (and maybe create millions of US jobs sending US civilians abroad to help).
* As those storms from Africa move across the Atlantic Ocean, they pick up energy from the heat of the ocean. Global warming has been predicted to lead to superstorms as the oceans have more energy.
"Superstorms, Climate Change and Superstorm Seasons"
Think also of Jupiter's Great Red Spot that is essentially a permanent big hurricane. If you reduce the overall energy in the system, the hurricanes will not be so bad, like if we reduce CO2 and methane emissions from coal and animals that lead to global warming, perhaps by an ideological shift towards accounting for externalities or creating a more compassionate food system. So, likewise, if our society changes to a post-scarcity abundance paradigm, then we may see less tensions across the globe, which means less reason for the CIA to act so crazily sometimes. War may be a "racket", but we can still do what we can to give people less excuses for it.
* Related to the above, if, within itself, the CIA adopts a post-scarcity abundance-based ideology, then it might transcend being such an irony, which might be like a hurricane changing its structure to a regular storm.
So, very useful would be anything people can do specifically to get the agency to grasp how, say, using vast supercomputer networks to spy on people so you can keep them working is ironic when you could just have the spy computers do the work you're forcing people to do. (That links to some of my indirect work as above, assuming communications are monitored.)
* One can also live below the waves or live up in space, beyond the reach of a hurricane. For example:
Also related to that is the possibility that global warming is driven in part from an increase in solar output. A space-faring civilization could deal with that by putting up some kind of shading between the Earth and the sun to precisely adjust the amount of solar radiation the Earth receives, so if the sun outputs 1% more over a century, the civilization could put up some extra sun blocking panels (perhaps even just capturing the energy as electricity to be beamed for other uses in the solar system).
To some extent, all the eight solutions can work together. Note than none of them require disbanding the CIA. None of them require violence. They all require being like the Peacemaker in his approach to Tadodaho though.
As Thich Nhat Hanh says in "Creating True Peace : Ending Violence in Yourself, Your Family, Your Community, and the World", which I quote here:
"Sometime, people who cannot find any way to resolve a problem with someone else are tempted to eliminate the problem by eliminating the other person. They wish the other person would just go away, die, or disappear. That desire may be strong enough to lead them to kill. Killing another person is not an act of freedom but an act of despair and great ignorance; it will not bring freedom or peace. (page 92)
Our enemy is never another person; our enemy is the wrong perceptions and suffering within him, within her [or sometime even within ourselves about them]. When a doctor sees a person who is suffering, he [or she] tries to identify the sickness within the patient to remove it. He [or she] does not try to kill his patient. The role of the doctor is not to kill people but to cure the illness within them. It is the same with a person who had suffered so much and who has been making you suffer -- the solution is not to kill him [or her] but to try to relieve him [or her] of his [or her] suffering. This is the guidance of our spiritual teachers. It is the practice of understanding and love. In order to truly love, we must first understand. (pages 89-90)"
When the Peacemaker sang the song correctly, he helped change the wrong perceptions in Tadodaho.
Just like the Peacemaker could instead have killed Tadodaho in vengeance, to be left without a "firekeeper", we could get rid of hurricanes in the USA by removing the Earth's atmosphere, the sun, or the oceans, but then we would freeze, asphyxiate, and/or dehydrate. So, we as a society need to address the way things are put together that create and sustain hurricanes like the CIA, and not, for example, talk about eliminating individual (human) molecules that may make up the hurricane (such talk of eliminating individuals would be illegal, not to mention, to my mind, both immoral and ineffective).
The same probably goes for addressing the hurricane of Al-Qaeda, IMHO, where the CIA's attempts with drones to knock off individuals seems to have only made the overall US security situation worse (especially given mass collateral casualties, including of children, three of whom are claimed to have been killed by a drone use authorized by Obama within days of taking office).
"President Obama 'orders Pakistan drone attacks'"
"What are the risks of the C.I.A.’s covert drone program?"
"The Forty-Year Drone War"
Example of a need for changing views:
"Obama Finds Predator Drones Hilarious"
"Operating for years in Afghanistan and Pakistan as an officially secret counterterrorism program, the drones have drawn controversy for their notoriously high civilian casualty rate, the anti-American rage they provoke in the region, and for the dubious constitutionality of assassinating foreign nationals. So when Obama incorporated a Predator Drone joke into his Correspondents Dinner routine, it raised some eyebrows: ..."
But sometimes we try to make light of the things we are scared of, or conflicted about, or that our unconscious is trying to bring to our attention.
So, each of the above eight items tries to address some "wrong perception" in our society about how resources should be deployed and what ideology should be used in thinking that through... And they are ways to avoid, say, the irony of using advanced US technology as in military robotics (such as through the CIA) to enrage people as the CIA (as directed by politicians) tries to enforce a social order based on making people act like robots rather than to help them be all they want to be or can be as human beings (hopefully becoming all they want to be in partnership with compassionate and friendly and enlightened robots).
Again, to follow Woodrow Wilson's points, better ideas (science) could help with that, as could better stories and ideals (literature and the humanities), as could some better tools that merge the two. The Haudenosaunee (People of the Longhouse) may have not had so much fancy technology as the Europeans (ignoring their biotech in terms of the three sisters of corn, squash, and beans), but they certainly had, as above, powerful stories that allowed them to build an expanding, resilient, and sustainable civilization that was relatively peaceful and equitable at least internally.
For an old example of the CIA and tools for processing stories and other information:
"XSIS and The Customer Information Analyst: Why would Xerox develop an incredible spreadsheet that could display images, conjugate Russian verbs and why did that happen in a strange group called XSIS located in Los Angeles and Washington? Apparently they had an important customer with a lot of complex information to analyze. How did Angela Coppola know that 1000 people would show up for OOPSLA'86 when the PC committee predicted 100-200? What sort of technology could the National Security Administration use to print Chinese leaflets circa 1978? The Xerox Analyst served the CIA as a analytic tool for many years. Even 13 years later it still offers tools more powerful than MSOffice. The Analyst is still alive and well and forms a key component in TI ControlWorks Wafer Fab Automation System."
But the message of those tools has still not sunk in -- material abundance is possible for all. People may still find reasons to compete (over mates, over social status, etc.) but at least fighting over *stuff* is becoming obsolete (or, similarly, we can move beyond thinking there is not enough *stuff* to build a lot of different communities that follow different rules within them). Except our entire military and intelligence apparatus is configured assuming the big problem is fighting over stuff one way or another, and becomes, in a way, a self-fulfilling prophecy, or some kind of social knot.
The good news is that a move towards better information, stories, paradigms, and tools to help everyone realize this is happening already in our society through the internet, as the greatest educational and analysis tool we've ever created, as part of making a "noosphere".
It lets me draw from many sources, and easily find good stories like about Tadodaho and the Peacemaker. Google is, to an extent, already a big example of what I have been talking about, and by itself, it may well change the CIA for the better. But perhaps we can do more.
Of course, the internet may have its own set of social hurricanes to deal with. :-) Sometimes we create more problems than we solve.
I am sorry I can only deliver this text, and not deliver the tools and semantically tagged content so that anyone could use it to create such a web of ideas and/or collaboratively improve on it. Maybe someday...
Anyway, I've reached the point where this 60+ page essay is confusing me and I can't keep it all in my head, and I've read it over so many times it is a blur, so a smarter and probably kinder person would probably sit on it for more days and edit it down, but I'll send it anyway in hopes others might find a nugget or two of something useful if they look at it someday. And presumably, I'll improve it in the future with other tools. I hope.
Still, it just seems to get longer the more I work on it. Also, I have to accept that by sending it I may well make it *less* likely that I personally will succeed at any of this, as beyond the time it took to write it, drawing more attention to myself is generally not a good thing for programmer productivity (or maybe security, as suggested in an ancient "Chinese" curse of "May you come to the attention of those in authority".) But, I can hope that even if the chance I succeed at building FOSS intelligence tools might go down by me sending this, the chance that the community builds them someday might go up some. And in the long term, that may be what matters most. It is really this idea of FOSS intelligence tools, joined with the Native American story of Tadodaho and the Peacemaker, which matters most, as the essence of the "song". But I'm obviously not much of a singer (even though my mother was), and I hope perhaps, someone out there can truly sing this song right (maybe after rewriting it in a totally different key), singing in a way to change the heart of the unreformed Tadodahos of today, so they can become part of a world community that is educated, healthy, joyful, prosperous and mutually/intrinsically secure.
So, from one reformed Tadodaho to possibly others, even ones not on the CC list or BCC lists but who might be reviewing this anyway, all the best. :-) My thanks to everyone on the two lists who, like Leon Shenandoah, have been an inspiration to me one way or another.
--Paul Fernhout (PU '85 *88 etc.)
Copyright 2010 by Paul D. Fernhout
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license: