Jun 13, 2013

Aldous Huxley letter to George Orwell, comparing their two divergent dystopias

Wrightwood. California.
21 October, 1949

Dear Mr. Orwell,

It was very kind of you to tell your publishers to send me a copy of your book.
It arrived as I was in the midst of a piece of work that required much reading and consulting of references; and since poor sight makes it necessary for me to ration my reading, I had to wait a long time before being able to embark on Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Agreeing with all that the critics have written of it, I need not tell you, yet once more, how fine and how profoundly important the book is.
May I speak instead of the thing with which the book deals — the ultimate revolution?
The first hints of a philosophy of the ultimate revolution — the revolution which lies beyond politics and economics, and which aims at total subversion of the individual's psychology and physiology — are to be found in the Marquis de Sade, who regarded himself as the continuator, the consummator, of Robespierre and Babeuf.
The philosophy of the ruling minority in Nineteen Eighty-Four is a sadism which has been carried to its logical conclusion by going beyond sex and denying it.
Whether in actual fact the policy of the boot-on-the-face can go on indefinitely seems doubtful.
My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World.
I have had occasion recently to look into the history of animal magnetism and hypnotism, and have been greatly struck by the way in which, for a hundred and fifty years, the world has refused to take serious cognizance of the discoveries of Mesmer, Braid, Esdaile, and the rest.
Partly because of the prevailing materialism and partly because of prevailing respectability, nineteenth-century philosophers
and men of science were not willing to investigate the odder facts of psychology for practical men, such as politicians, soldiers and policemen, to apply in the field of government.
Thanks to the voluntary ignorance of our fathers, the advent of the ultimate revolution was delayed for five or six generations.
Another lucky accident was Freud's inability to hypnotize successfully and his consequent disparagement of hypnotism.
This delayed the general application of hypnotism to psychiatry for at least forty years.
But now psycho-analysis is being combined with hypnosis; and hypnosis has been made easy and indefinitely extensible through the use of barbiturates, which induce a hypnoid and suggestible state in even the most recalcitrant subjects.
Within the next generation I believe that the world's rulers will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience.
In other words, I feel that the nightmare of Nineteen Eighty-Four is destined to modulate into the nightmare of a world having more resemblance to that which I imagined in Brave New World.
The change will be brought about as a result of a felt need for increased efficiency.
Meanwhile, of course, there may be a large scale biological and atomic war — in which case we shall have nightmares of other and scarcely imaginable kinds.
Thank you once again for the book.

Yours sincerely,

Aldous Huxley

Jun 12, 2013

Subjunctive Intelligence Community: Just because one calls themselves an intelligence service, doesn't make them "intelligent"

We are told that the actions that are being taken by the American intelligence community are both Constitutional and effective; to believe either would ignore recent American history and the public statements from the alphabet soup that makes up the American intelligence community. Faisal Shahzad and Najibullah Zazi, failed Times Square bomber and and NYC subway bomber respectively, both were legitimate terrorists that were unsuccessful but not due to American intelligence agencies instead due to vigilant street vendor (Shahzad) and interrogation of the Al-Qaeda recruiter Bryant Neal Vinas (Zazi). I make this distinction due to all the other instances that FBI, NSA, and CIA have had their fingers involved in very dicey cases; such instances were all claimed to be heroic uses of the intelligence community in protecting our security while plausibly trampling on our rights.

2001: Jose Padilla American citizen, accused of planning a dirty bomb attack on Chicago. Our intelligence community saved America from that horror,

that is only IF...
  • Al-Qaeda network had access to fissionable material
  • Jose Padilla could have transported the material into the heartland of America without setting off Geiger counters of customs agents.
  • Jose Padilla's travels to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, and "enhanced interrogation" of Abu Zubaydah that initiated the intelligence community to set sights on Jose Padilla prior his return to America (empty handed, as in no fissionable material) and his arrest at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport-- not any actual attempt to attain the material to carry off his Jihadist dreams.

2006: Liberty City Seven, 7 Americans in Miami accused of planning to bomb Chicago's Sears Tower quite possibly taking down the tallest building (at the time) in America. Our intelligence community saved America from that horror.

that is only IF...
  • Any of the seven had any experience with any explosives or access to explosives.
  • Any of the seven had taken up the multiple offers of weapons by the dubious FBI confidential witnesses
  • The persons who were the impetus of the entire idea had pushed them harder to go through with it, but then they would not have been very good confidential witnesses. 
  • Both confidential witnesses hadn't negotiated deals to avoid prison time and hadn't at the direction of FBI told the Liberty City Seven that they being of Middle Eastern descendant had connections with Al-Qaeda. So had any involved actually been terrorists involved.
  • Charles James Stewart, the only named paid-informant in the indictment, wasn't the only person in the "conspiracy" that had been to Chicago.
  • The FBI was not the only source of money and space to train (an empty warehouse in Miami)

2009: 'New York City Bomb Plot' where 4 Newburgh men who described themselves as Black-Muslims plotted to attack Bronx synagogues and shoot down military aircraft from a nearby air force base. Our intelligence community saved America from that horror.

that is only IF...
  • FBI informant, Shahed Hussain, hadn't been trolling Masjid al-Ikhlas for strangers interested in Jahid.
  • Had the enticing offer of shoulder fired missiles not been entirely an instigated by the FBI and not initiated by  
  • It wasn't a fact that the only weapon that the four had access to was the handgun James Cromitie bought from a street gang member and the impotent props provide by the FBI.

6-10-13 #1The unconstitutional overreach the American intelligence community has already had a survey to find out what the American public thinks of it. The survey asked if it was acceptable to track phone calls and monitor emails and internet of Americans *IF* it *MIGHT* prevent terror attacks. All instances had a slight majority of acceptance, but the use of the implausible subjunctive of *IF* takes away any real credibility to the response. Would the same 56% of respondents find it acceptable *IF* the government intrusion had less than a 1% chance of success? Or would acceptance drop more so *IF* it were known that internet monitoring and cell phone tracking are wholly useless when targets are thoroughly trained by Al-Qaeda such as Faisal Shahzad and Najibullah Zazi that depend on the face-to-face communication rather than the neophytes that are hoodwinked by FBI paid informants? Demarcation from tracking all your phone calls (sans content) and then retroactively go back to listening to the calls after getting a warrant from the rubber stamp FISA court seems to disappear when authorities are asked 'does our intelligence community listen to our phone calls?' *IF* the virtual dragnet was effective then why wouldn't the alphabet soup prevent the Boston Marathon Bombing? *IF* the virtual dragnet was effective then why wouldn't the alphabet soup prevent the shoe bomber Richard Reid not a fellow airline passenger? *IF* the virtual dragnet was effective then why wouldn't the alphabet soup prevent the underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab not a fellow airline passenger? Why have PRISM and phone tracking of all Americans when it doesn't protect America and isn't within Constitutional restrictions of the fourth amendment? In my humble opinion, NSA and the other intelligence agencies have have wholly gone rogue and are no longer accountable to our elected officials in government therefore should be dismantled immediately.

Jun 10, 2013

If the intelligence community from nearly it's inception has nothing but failures: handpicking brutal dictators such as the Shah of Iran, Pinochet, Sukarno, Nicaraguan Contras, etc;  failing to foresee the fall of Communism, and Indian, Pakistani nor North Korean Nuclear tests; siding with mujahideen that brought the rise of Al-Qaeda; despite rolling back constitutional rights failed to protect the American public from the underwear bomber, Times Square failed bombing, Boston Marathon bombing and the events of 9/11 all occurred under the nose of America's much vaunted intelligence community.

So I ask, if the choice is that Americans have to give up civil liberties without any benefits or continue to have Constitutional civil liberties and not have these bumbling "masters of the universe" shouldn't the American public chose the latter? If we are not able to chose the nature of own protection then why bother pretend we are a democracy?

"The very word 'secrecy' is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings."
John F Kennedy

Jun 7, 2013

College GOP: Wrong medium, wrong message, wrong messenger; But we can move the around the Titanic's deck chairs!

This week the College Republicans (CRNC) released a report regarding the failures in persuading voters under the age of 30, and possible remedies. Regards to the medium, College Republicans after 6 focus groups around the nation of attainable voters, that social media should be top priority in reaching younger voters but the issue that is ignored that social media is easily challenged so that creating a new meme like a chain letter that can be debunked by the crowd of friends. Unlike traditional media broadcasting the message that can never be refuted, social media is made to be interacted and if dubious will be called out on. So assuming that the right's agenda will be accepted if only there some very share-able picture associated with it, fails to accept the inherent counter-authoritarian nature of the Internet. Traditionalists believe that traditional authority whether "well breed" aristocrats, successful businessmen, or church leaders, should always be deferential to the authority. The culture of the Internet is in dire opposition to this supplication, due to anonymity and pseudo-meritocracy that exists on the Internet, and any self proclaimed authority is constantly challenged (best scenario) or demeaned (worst and most frequent scenario). So how the College Republicans hope to persuade netizens and young voters to capitulate to corporate or religious authority is not just implausible but impossible.

The College Republicans (CRNC) discovered the typical under-30 voter strongly objects to the conservative's social views, and wants public policy to make their day-to-day life easier. From both the survey and multiple focus groups the conclusion drawn is that if the Republican party avoids social issues and focus on positive solution based policy these voters could be won. The report also acknowledges "perhaps most troubling for Republicans is the finding from the March 2013 CRNC survey that showed 54% of young voters saying 'taxes should go up on the wealthy,' versus 31% who say 'taxes should be cut for everyone'.” While taking as a silver lining, the same survey showed young voters are resistant to more government spending; what type of spending are these voters opposed to is omitted from the CRNC's report. So it would be difficult for Republicans to persuade this segment of voters to only cut government spending that do not help big business given the opinion of the general electorate is mistrust of both Big Business and the Big Government that according to "one respondent in {the report's} Orlando group of young Latino voters noted, people in the higher tax brackets “have a lot of tax breaks and loopholes” that allow them to avoid “paying their share” and can be inferred that Big Government that is not confrontational towards Big Business will be perceived as in collusion with Big Business. Within the report it states that 93% of survey respondents agreed with the following statement "We need leaders who aren't afraid to fight existing interests like big companies or big unions in order to reform outdated and unsustainable programs." The conclusion of the report is moderate the message to associate all business with that of small business and keep social issues to the minimum.

As far as who should be delivering this message, the report concluded with the following:
To shed the brand of being old-fashioned, the GOP need not just find young candidates who can make pop culture references with ease. Instead, candidates need to be able to show that they understand the problems young people face when it comes to economic opportunity and have a plan to break down the barriers that are standing in their way
The most significant aspect about this conclusion is that through CRNC's own focus groups attributed their perception that the GOP was considered old and old-fashioned because of their policies and stated values and not their relate-ability nor understanding the problems they faced. Republicans' solutions and public policies is contrary to what these young allegedly "attainable" voters state within focus groups and the March 2013 survey. That the advice for GOP candidates to accentuate "caring" aspect of an economic program and how it would help the downtrodden; also that the party doesn't believe itself to be "the leave me alone" party. I have some bad news to the authors of this report, the Republican Party is "the leave me alone" party that doesn't want to change their ways just to win over votes from "the other". The report's solution to how celebrity-centric and seemingly cool President Obama is with Sara Jessica Parker inviting people over for a fundraiser and the President posting a picture of himself drinking a beer in a college dive bar that spread like wildfire across social media is to advertise towards the audience of Family Guy reruns. The focus groups participants responded to question of the most prominent Democratic leaders being former and current Democratic elected officials, while Republican leaders were listed of the media stars like Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and Family Guy guest star Rush Limbaugh. If the starting point that CRNC acknowledges is that the wrong medium is being used to deliver the wrong message being delivered by the wrong messenger but there is no need to admit the policies and values of the Republican party need to be adjusted, just how and who delivers the message can be fixed to lead the party back into salvation of successful general elections.

My advice to my own Democratic party, challenge every entrenched interest and upend the status quo where ever it benefits the individual employee or student and every small business owner. Opposition to those that have already made it economically who will use any and all of their machinations to disparage this, but the electorate will recognize and reward the effort made and being the gladiator for the little guy against the behemoth of the powerful speaks to a truly American trope that is as old as ragamuffins of Lexington and Concord taking on and winning against the most powerful military the world has ever known the British Empire.



Livery (gypsy) cabs allowed to pick up street hails in he outer boroughs... what else is new.

So what is the significant change from yesterday's court decision on the city's taxis? Livery cabs practice of picking of street cabs that previous was "illegal" has now been codified and the Lincoln Town Car which had  been out of production for 5 years will be replaced by apple-green Priuses as the standard livery car. 3 years from now there will be no longer any confusion whether or not that 2010 black Toyota Avalon is privately owned car or a livery car seeking an illegal street hail, since all livery cabs will be an ugly green color with a TLC designed logo on the side.

Yesterday New York State Court of Appeals sided with New York City's Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) regarding allowing livery cabs picking up street hails in the outer boroughs and Northern Manhattan. Yellow cab medallion owners were quick to complain that 18,000 additional cabs picking up street hails will detrimentally affect them. On weekends I do see yellow cabs out here in Queens-- in front of the independent driver's house or apartment parked on their day off; outside of the parked yellow cabs I have never seen a yellow cab that was available to be hailed in Queens. It has never been against any TLC regulation for yellow cabs to pick up street hails outside of Manhattan and yet they have never done so.

The typical livery cab servicing the outer boroughs is a black Lincoln Town Car, that is regulated to only pick up passengers via their dispatcher. In actuality livery cabs in the outer borough congregate at transportation hubs and shopping centers picking up street hails as well as offering their service to the people at bus stops as they futilely wait for a bus running ridiculously behind schedule.


Jun 4, 2013

Religious Extremism: There might be a cure

A leading neurologist at the University of Oxford, Kathleen Taylor responded to audience question regarding what in the future of neuroscience could be expected. Her response was surprising, as it inferred that radical beliefs whether religious based hatred or corporal punishment, could be treated and cured.

“I am not just talking about the obvious candidates like radical Islam or some of the more extreme cults,” she explained. “I am talking about things like the belief that it is OK to beat your children. These beliefs are very harmful but are not normally categorized as mental illness.”

Those currently under the rubric that their institutional violence or threat of violence is acceptable and their own lifestyle choice, it is especially acceptable if associated with "the one true G-d", will surely take offense that they are curable. Violence in general should be unacceptable in every flavor, whether it is a commandment from the neighbor's dog (David 
 "Son of Sam" Berkowitz) or that the most modern military should partaking in military adventurism due to Book of Revelations' 'Gog and Magog' (as George W. Bush did with Iraq). Maybe in the future there will be MRI scans at the airport to determine who among us are religious extremists, just as there are body scanners today to check if passengers are carrying weapons?