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Tips for Citizens of Empire in Decline

July 26, 2011

What with elected “leaders” everywhere fighting it out for who can fuck over their constituents the most, the above might come in handy. Coming soon to a vermin infested refuse village near you!

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31 Comments leave one →
  1. cometman permalink*
    July 26, 2011 12:35 pm

    Don’t mean to seem callous with the flippancy above – I’m sure this does help people to some extent. But it’s not going to improve the lives of millions all that much. If it worked at night when interior lighting is actually needed…..

    Just can’t help thinking we’ll be seeing more of this type of thing in this country sooner rather than later.

  2. cometman permalink*
    July 26, 2011 12:55 pm

    Decent obituary on the demise of Borders – As stores die, so does book culture. No longer will I be tempted to forgo a couple day wait at the local store for immediate gratification at the big box. This point bears repeating though –

    The tragedy now is that, with the failure of the big boxes, which previously caused the failure of so many corner stores, not only will cities be left without bookstores; so will the rural and suburban malls that had embraced them. This is a massive cultural impoverishment.

    That’s what pisses me off about these types of stores in general. Put a Borders right next to a Barnes and Noble or a Lowe’s right next to a Home Depot and let them fight it out as the independent stores fade away. And then when the big box race to the bottom leads to its inevitable conclusion, you can’t get what you want or need anywhere. So very shortsighted, just like about every other decision made by the movers and shakers these days.

    Been meaning to mention that I did find a few gems while perusing the used bookstores while on vacation. Found an early 60s book by Isaac Asimov and a co-author from the RAND corporation discussing a RAND report on the search for habitable planets. Pretty interesting so far considering we hadn’t even made it to the moon when the book was written.

    My prize find though was a transcript of some lectures given by Fred Hoyle at Univ of WA back in the early 60s published by the UW press in hardcover. The more I read from and about him, the more I like the old curmudgeon. He discusses the future of science and bemoans what he saw as the emergence of “dinosaur” experiments – huge multi-billion dollars projects like CERN which was just starting at about that time. While he does see a place for those experiments, he mentions how many of the major breakthroughs of the past (ie Rutherford discovering the atomic nucleus) were made with experiments that cost hundreds, rather than millions (or billions today) of dollars. One problem for him was that all the bureaucracy involved with the more modern scientific system keeps scientists from performing actual science while their busy pushing papers and trying to gin up $$$. I wonder what he would think of the LHC?

  3. cometman permalink*
    July 26, 2011 1:37 pm

    A few notes.

    Always been interested in mitochondria ever since reading the Wrinkle in Time series as a kid and especially after reading Lynn Margulis’ Microcosmos a few years back. Now biologists are closer to finding out where the things come from – Mitochondria Share an Ancestor With SAR11, a Globally Significant Marine Microbe.

    The sealed deposition given to the courts by Mike Connell regarding possible rigging of the 2004 Ohio presidential election results has been unsealed. You can find the actual deposition by downloading the zipfile linked to at the end of the article. Not being an IT guy, I’m not sure what to make of it all but the article’s author and counsel on the case Bon Fitrakis sure thinks it points to a stolen election. Anybody care? Haven’t seen this making any headlines today.

    Another Iranian scientist has been murdered and this time it isn’t just the Iranians who think it was the work of US or Israeli assassins. I do wish Reuters would go into a little more detail about exactly who the “analysts” they quote are.

  4. cometman permalink*
    July 27, 2011 12:42 pm

    Tim DeChristopher has some tips in his remarks before the court at his sentencing today. He was convicted of disrupting a government oil lease auction and sentenced to two years in prison for the ever-so-egregious crime of raising his hand to bid.

    Well worth reading this one in full – I Do Not Want Mercy, I Want You To Join Me.

    His final remarks got me a little choked up –

    At this point of unimaginable threats on the horizon, this is what hope looks like. In these times of a morally bankrupt government that has sold out its principles, this is what patriotism looks like. With countless lives on the line, this is what love looks like, and it will only grow. The choice you are making today is what side are you on.

    Wish I had half the bravery and decency of this man.

    Thank you for your sacrifice.

    And thanks to artist Robert Shetterly for including DeChristopher’s portrait in his series of Americans Who tell the Truth.

    • artemis54 permalink
      July 28, 2011 12:25 pm

      And how apropos the title of this post. As I commented on fb, this statement is an instant classic in the literature of civil disobedience.

  5. cometman permalink*
    July 27, 2011 1:53 pm

    Some notes –

    The Israeli people are following the lead of their Arab neighbors with growing protests in Tel Aviv and elsewhere

    Approximately 30,000 protesters marched in Tel Aviv last night, with social justice activists blocking central streets and chants of “Mubarak. Assad. Netanyahu” filling the air.

    I like the sound of that!

    This sounds ominous, if for no other reason than its lack of detail – **MEDIA ALERT** Military Training Exercises to Take Place In and Around Boston . No Constitutional scholar here, but something sounds extremely WRONG about local police forces co-operating with the US military to conduct training exercises in domestic urban environments. Most likely ominous is exactly what they were going for.

    Lots of financial-speak in this article – Firms May Drop Millions of IRA Savers on Rule Change, Sifma Says – but basically what it boils down to is that if the Labor Department enacts new rules saying that financial firms must put their IRA customers’ interests first and stop screwing them over, the rat fuckers are threatening to drop their IRA programs altogether. Doesn’t that make you even happier about the upcoming slashing of the social safety net?????

    And the Harper’s government in Canada is once again parroting Uncle Sugar and ordering biologist Kristi Miller to refuse to talk about her recently published study regarding the decline in salmon populations – Feds silence scientist over salmon study

    Top bureaucrats in Ottawa have muzzled a leading fisheries scientist whose discovery could help explain why salmon stocks have been crashing off Canada’s West Coast, according to documents obtained by Postmedia News.

    The documents show the Privy Council Office, which supports the Prime Minister’s Office, stopped Kristi Miller from talking about one of the most significant discoveries to come out of a federal fisheries lab in years.

    Science, one of the world’s top research journals, published Miller’s findings in January. The journal considered the work so significant it notified “over 7,400” journalists worldwide about Miller’s “Suffering Salmon” study.

  6. artemis54 permalink
    July 28, 2011 12:50 pm

    Chickens. Roost.

    There is a lot more to be said, maybe I will say it later. But you know how to connect the dots. Mongabay is reporting on the scandal: WWF partnering with companies that destroy rainforests, threaten endangered species

    The report by Global Witness has already been covered in the Guardian and BBC (GW is based in Britain):

    Pandering to the Loggers

    (Note the high snark of “pandering” in the title of a report which specifically criticizes the WWF logo on unsustainable forest products – when you’ve got that knife in there, you might as well twist it a little.)

    Note the very first criticism of WWF’s Global Forest and Trade Network scheme:

    GFTN lacks transparency and accountability; the scheme is opaque with little or no information in the public domain about the performance of individual participating companies or the impact of the scheme itself

    There is much more in this vein.

    Not only is this a thorought vindication of Glen Barry’s ongoing criticism of the big box conservation groups collaboration in primary forest logging, it is a confirmation of my longstanding objections regarding these groups – WWF, Greenpeace, WCS, CI and others: they are opaque, subject to no oversight, unresponsive to criticism except in the wagon circling mode so familiar to observers of the Obama pom pom girls. There is a very fundamental philosophical problem here: the assumption that since we mean well, since our aims our pure, anything we do must therefore be right. The lack of examination will kill these groups, baby, bathwater and all. What do you think is happening to WWF’s cash stream right now?

    • cometman permalink*
      July 29, 2011 12:07 pm

      Well put about only addressing criticism in circle the wagon mode. Not sure when these conservation groups are going to realize that cooperation with corporations is a losing proposition. It’s as if they are using some kind of Zeno’s paradox forestry management – if you only cut half the forest, then half of what’s left, then half again, you’ll never get to the point of cutting it all so what’s the problem?

  7. cometman permalink*
    July 29, 2011 3:10 pm

    Some links I haven’t been able to post over the last couple days for later organization –

    Astronomers using the WISE infrared telescope have discovered Earth’s first Trojan asteroid. You can see a NASA video of its orbit here. One more little bit of “missing mass” found!

    A new study shows a resurgence in cod populations. You can read the Nature paper here. Not sure how to take this one. On the one hand, from my own non-scientific observation, it does appear that there is more cod on the market in recent months. On the other, it looks like this study may have received some funding from the Canadian government which has recently muzzled scientists whose results the government did not like. Clearly this is a result the government does like which makes me wonder about its accuracy. All that being said, this hypothesis –

    The researchers hypothesize that the 20-year delay in recovery was caused by a reversal of fish predator and prey roles. When large-bodied fish like cod were dominant, they fed on smaller forage fish species. However, the overfishing of cod and other groundfish populations meant that these smaller forage fish had the opportunity to prey on large-bodied fish species in their earliest life-stages, preventing these populations from recovering their numbers.

    -sounds a lot like what I read in The Secret Life of Lobsters. The author uses archaeological evidence and new experiments to show that the resurgence in lobster populations in recent decades is due in part to overfishing the cod since large cod will tear an adult lobster apart but with all the large ones gone, the smaller cod leave the adult lobsters alone.

    Screwing with mouse brains – http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110727131358.htm

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110727131411.htm

    No crackdown in Norway – http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/
    More Big Brother in US – http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20084939-281/house-panel-approves-broadened-isp-snooping-bill/

    For later reading –

    Chris Cooper – http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/07/29-1

    Another whistleblower gets the ax – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/28/arctic-scientist-polar-bear-oil

  8. cometman permalink*
    August 1, 2011 12:30 pm

    Well it looks like the debt ceiling deal is done and judging by the initial reports, it appears that the world is once again safe for the oligarchs to rape, plunder, and pillage the rest of us. All the details aren’t out quite yet but it must be bad when even Paul Krugman dishes up some tepid criticism of St. Barry while decrying the deal. Robert Reich is a bit more harsh in his take – Ransom Paid

    More than a year ago, the President could have conditioned his agreement to extend the Bush tax cuts beyond 2010 on Republicans’ agreement not to link a vote on the debt ceiling to the budget deficit. But he did not.

    -and he continues to list the other methods Barry could have but declined to use to get a fair deal.

    Glenn Greenwald explains why Barry did not. Because he got exactly what he and the oligarchs wanted all along – The myth of Obama’s “blunders” and “weakness”.

    …it is absolutely false that he did not want these brutal budget cuts and was simply forced — either by his own strategic “blunders” or the “weakness” of his office — into accepting them. The evidence is overwhelming that Obama has long wanted exactly what he got: these severe domestic budget cuts and even ones well beyond these, including Social Security and Medicare, which he is likely to get with the Super-Committee created by this bill …

    Meanwhile, a group of various religious leaders held a vigil in DC praying that any deal that was struck would not screw over the poor and they were summarily arrested.

    And much like the Dodd-Frank financial “reform” legislation, it appears that this legislation will leave it to later committees (ie corporate lobbyists) to work out the exact details, so as bad as it sounds now, it’s likely to get even worse. And yet the headlines today trumpet this bullshit like it’s the epitome of statecraft.

    • artemis54 permalink
      August 2, 2011 3:54 pm

      The one guaranteed result of this “satan sandwich with a side of satan fries” as Pelosi called it a few hours before voting for it is that the only subject on the table for the next 15 months will be how much to chop social services. I can only conclude either that mr. eleven dimensional is either an utter moron or was phony from the start.

      • cometman permalink*
        August 4, 2011 10:33 am

        Does it have to be either/or? Because both are pretty apt if you ask me.

        The Chinese don’t think this “deal” will help much and I read elsewhere that Putin pilloried the US for being a “parasite” on the rest of the world. Just the usual brinksmanship from traditional adversaries, but in this case they happen to be right.

  9. cometman permalink*
    August 1, 2011 12:46 pm

    Couple other notes-

    Looks like the “sovereign ruler” of Iraq is turning out to be British Petroleum – Business BP BP ‘has gained stranglehold over Iraq’ after oilfield deal is rewritten. If I were an Iraqi and a decade of war weren’t enough to get me to leave the country, I think the prospect of being knee deep in oil spills might do the trick.

    Also, protests in Israel continue – Most Israeli municipalities declare general strike in solidarity with housing protests .

  10. artemis54 permalink
    August 3, 2011 7:43 am

    By unanimous vote, the Suquamish Tribal Council declared same sex marriage legal.

    We did not see this as a controversial issue.

    The Suquamish are not pushing it. The law only applies to couples one of whom is a member of the tribe. There are other tribes contemplating declaring any marriage performed on tribal land to be legal, which would really force the issue as WA requires marriages performed elsewhere to be recognized, even though it still isn’t legal in WA.

    • cometman permalink*
      August 4, 2011 10:35 am

      “I was expecting them to be extremely unsupportive and I was expecting a lot of hateful comments,” she said. “And none of that happened. Everyone was extremely supportive and loving.”

      I would have expected something like that too. Nice to hear it didn’t go that way. Kudos to them and I hope it makes the PTB in WA state squirm.

  11. artemis54 permalink
    August 4, 2011 9:25 am

    Gack! Potential major suckage: SciTechDaily is up for sale.

    Murdoch, or maybe something worse?

    DO NOT LIKE

    • cometman permalink*
      August 4, 2011 10:43 am

      Hmmmmm. Got an extra cash? Somehow though I imagine the bidding will go far above my pay grade….

      Let me know if you hear who might buy it.

  12. cometman permalink*
    August 4, 2011 10:42 am

    Happy day!

    I had been striking out in my months long search to buy a copy of Stand on Zanzibar but looking around the interwebs last night I discovered that it is being reprinted and will be out on Aug 16!

    Also found out that Dweezil Zappa is in town for a concert tonight and there are still tickets.

    Looks like a trip to the local bookstore, an attitude adjustment, and some excellent music on tap for tonight.

    Fun fun fun!

    • artemis54 permalink
      August 4, 2011 1:48 pm

      Had a little adjustment myself today. The neighbor finally dragged me down to this place for lunch today. (It is maybe two hundred yards from my house at most, but I’m always waiting to visit these places until I have out of town company.) Great food. I had blue crap wrapped in blue corn tortillas and a tomatillo sauce, with gorgonzola potato salad – oh god! – and two glasses of Barbera. Between the neighbor’s wine club discount and two for one coupons and whatnot, they practically paid us to eat there.

      • artemis54 permalink
        August 4, 2011 1:49 pm

        that would be crab, not crap. Maybe one two many glasses of wine.

        • cometman permalink*
          August 6, 2011 12:52 pm

          Heh. Sounds like a nice afternoon!

          I did make it to see Zappa Plays Zappa and the musicians he put together were absolutely astounding. One woman switched from playing flute to keyboard to sax over the course of about a minute during one song. The drummer Joe Travers was an animal.

  13. cometman permalink*
    August 4, 2011 1:33 pm

    In light of the news that the Obama adminsitration won’t reveal its interpretation of the secret Patriot Act, meaning they are likely doing as much spying on US citizens as they possibly can, and the news that the DHS is monitoring social media sites, I’d like to take this opportunity to extend a hearty Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck you to any and all spooks who might run across this little blog. Did I mention Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck you!?!?!?!?!?

    This one gave me a chuckle – a DHS report is trying to claim that all the hackers who have been capturing and releasing embarrassing info on the Powers That Be are just a bunch of untalented “script kiddies”. In the same report, the spooks have finally tracked down the origin and meaning of the term “LULZ”.

    In a showdown between Uncle Sugar’s interweb spooks and the anonymous hackers, my money is on the kiddies.

  14. cometman permalink*
    August 4, 2011 1:48 pm

    Some notes-

    More “missing mass” found! – Ninety-Six Star Clusters Discovered Hidden Behind Dust of Milky Way.

    Barry once again displays his utter fecklessness and urges Timmeh to stay on at Treasury.

    The US is now engaged in secret military operations in 120 foreign countries. Just a few more and the whole globe is on fire!

    And bravo Matt Damon for this smackdown –

    • artemis54 permalink
      August 4, 2011 1:53 pm

      His speech at the event is even better. Intduced by his mother:

      • cometman permalink*
        August 6, 2011 12:29 pm

        Very nice! Sounds like they all appreciated the encouragement. Saw an article recently where one anonymous teacher admitted to helping students cheat on those tests and I really couldn’t blame her too much. There’s no reason to be giving these tests to elementary school kids at all and then to punish the teachers and the school afterwards for bad results is pretty damn counterproductive.

        No way is the squidlette going to private school and she isn’t going to grow up dumb either. If the idiots making current education policy continue destroying the schools trying to save them, I guess I’ll just keep spending my few extra dollars expanding my library at home.

  15. cometman permalink*
    August 5, 2011 2:23 pm

    What was once economic tragedy has definitely become an utter farce. Barry cuts a ridiculous deal to “save” the economy but nobody is buying it. The stock market craters immediately afterwards and Barry sends the PR team into high gear leading to grasping at straws articles like this one claiming that thousands of new jobs have just been discovered. Eureka! They have upwardly revised the job numbers from the last few months. Of course if I remember right, all these job numbers were first revised downwards after the initial reports.

    Please, keep the bullshit coming. Not only is it highly entertaining to see the emperor’s supposed best and brightest reduced to sartorial penury, this might be a signal that this whole stupid game is nearing its end. Once people stop being afraid of losing their own livelihoods and realize that just about everybody is in the same boat, well, if just about everybody’s screwed then just about nobody’s really screwed. Except of course the oligarchs who’ve been trying to sell us the poison pills. Note to the ratfucking bankers and the sycophants who carry their water: once enough people stop being afraid and start laughing, then they’ll be coming after you.

    • cometman permalink*
      August 7, 2011 9:49 am

      More farce.

      A few articles via Naked Capitalism on the S&P downgrade of US debt –
      Standard & Poor’s Predatory Policy Agenda
      Will S&P Downgrade Be Another Y2K Scare?

      And why would S&P downgrade the US debt? Has the ratings agency gotten religion and decided not to cook the books for its clients? Of course not. As a matter of fact, its for precisely the opposite reason. S&P is under pressure from regulators for its bogus ratings on mortgage instruments that abetted the financial collapse. not wanting to be regulated, it’s playing chicken with the US government to protect its own financial interests. There’s big money to be made for whomever can tell the most convincing lies and S&P doesn’t want to be muzzled.

      But please, keep it up. With the shitheads turning on each other, they may not notice the rest of us sneaking up on all of them.

  16. cometman permalink*
    August 7, 2011 9:24 am

    Some notes –

    Greenwald once again has a very good take on Barry’s budget deal – The administration’s stated budget priorities. Supposedly if Congress can’t iron out what’s to be cut, automatic cuts will take place for defense and the social safety net. But the Democrats are already claiming that any defense cuts would lead to the Hun overwhelming our shores within minutes. So guess what’s going to get slashed?

    But reality may just intervene before they can steal all of our $$$. It’s becoming more and more difficult to hide the fact that the big banks are insolvent. Yves Smith has just begun a Bank of America death watch. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch!

    Kudos to Truthout for some of its recent exposes. Their report on the USAF “Jesus Love Nukes” program whereby the USAF attempts to convince recruits involved with nuclear weapons programs that Jeebus would have wanted them to turn the Holy land into glass has caused the program’s cancellation, at least publicly.

    They were also involved in this report by Jeremy Scahill documenting the ongoing US torture programs and the complete lack of accountability for those involved thanks to Barry’s brush it all under the rug policy regarding high crimes by members of the US government-

  17. artemis54 permalink
    August 8, 2011 7:54 am

    Quelle surprise: BBC, CNBC caught redhanded lying about the deforestation of Borneo.

    CNBC, the American satellite and cable television news channel, has withdrawn its international business show, “World Business,” following allegations that the show’s production company, FBC (“Fact Based Communications”), was doubling as a PR firm for corrupt Malaysian politicians.

    Meanwhile, the British BBC, another FBC customer, has suspended broadcasting all FBC-produced programmes and launched an internal investigation.

    Last Monday, Sarawak Report, a news website run by Clare Rewcastle, the sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, revealed that the UK-based FBC Group had been paid 5 million US dollars by Abdul Taib Mahmud (“Taib”), Chief Minister of the Malaysian state of Sarawak, to promote the politician’s battered international reputation.

    Other payments to FBC have apparently been made by the Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak, and by Sime Darby, a palm oil group responsible for clear-cutting large tracts of tropical rainforest in Malaysian Borneo.

    On 27 March 2011, the CNBC’s “World Business” show broadcast an interview with Taib, in which he claimed that 80 per cent of the state’s forests were “almost intact” tropical rainforest. The statement was broadcast uncommented despite being in stark contrast to all independent analysis and to Taib’s own earlier statements.

    Amends? Maybe a fact based show or two on deforestation sometime this year? Yeah, that will happen.

  18. artemis54 permalink
    August 8, 2011 8:21 am

    The ongoing rape of the Niger delta: UNEP’s Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland is an incredible indictment.

    Just a few snippets from the Executive Summary:

    the fisheries sector is suffering due to the destruction of fish habitat in the mangroves and highly persistent contamination of many of the creeks, making them unsuitable for fishing.
    ~~~~~
    Oil pollution in many intertidal creeks has left mangroves denuded of leaves and stems, leaving roots coated in a bitumen-like substance sometimes 1 cm or more thick
    ~~~~~
    The wetlands around Ogoniland are highly degraded and facing disintegration. The study concludes that while it is technically feasible to restore effective ecosystem functioning of the wetlands, this will only be possible if technical and political initiatives are undertaken.
    ~~~~~
    Of most immediate concern, community members at Nisisioken Ogale are drinking water from wells that is contaminated with benzene, a known carcinogen, at levels over 900 times above the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline. The report states that this contamination warrants emergency action ahead of all other remediation efforts.
    ~~~~~
    Hydrocarbon contamination was found in water taken from 28 wells at 10 communities adjacent to contaminated sites. At seven wells the samples are at least 1,000 times higher than the Nigerian drinking water standard of 3 μg/l. Local communities are aware of the pollution and its dangers but state that they continue to use the water for drinking, bathing, washing and cooking as they have no alternative.

    The report concludes that $1 billion is needed just for immediate emrgency remeditation.

    • cometman permalink*
      August 8, 2011 12:31 pm

      Sigh……

      None of this is going to stop as long as the $$$ keeps flowing to these big conglomerates doing the damage, whether there the ones actually raping the land or just the media companies trying to cover it all up.

      But signs are beginning to point that the money that finances these disasters in the name of globalization may be starting to dry up. What with all the rioting and protest going on all over the world, and the financial institutions fighting among themselves, the feeling in the air that something big is coming is almost palpable.

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