Thursday, November 30, 2017

You Already Know What Truth Looks and Sounds Like..., |  Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) held a press conference and spoke on the House floor today urging Congress to overhaul the broken system of sexual harassment and assault in Congress and across the country. The congresswoman called for an end to taxpayer-funded settlements which total more than $17 million in 268 Congressional settlements over the past two decades, according to recent reports. 
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard was joined by Reps. Ron DeSantis (FL-06), Marsha Blackburn (TN-07), Jim Cooper (TN-05), and Kathleen Rice (NY-04) to introduce the Congressional Accountability and Hush Fund Elimination Act. This bipartisan, comprehensive legislation would ensure that perpetrators are held personally and financially accountable for their actions by ending taxpayer-funded harassment settlements and require any individual who has settled such a claim using taxpayer funds to fully reimburse the Treasury.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said:
“For too long survivors of sexual harassment and assault have been isolated, shamed, and bullied into silence, while their abusers walk away scot-free with the privilege of anonymity and without personal or financial accountability.

“This has been happening right here in Congress, in the media, and in many other sectors of our society. No one, whether it be a Capitol Hill staffer, a Hollywood actor, a school teacher, or a soldier or anyone in any profession, at any time should have to choose between their job and personal safety.

“Congress needs to act now to end the practice of taxpayer-funded sexual harassment settlements, expose perpetrators of sexual harassment and assault, and provide a fair and transparent path to justice for survivors. This behavior is absolutely unacceptable. It has no place in Congress or in our society. It must end."

Nancy Pelosi The Embodiment of Democratic Hypocrisy and Double-Standards

NationalReview |  The rules of society should be fair to everybody, not based on tribal identity. 

It’s amazing how complicated simple principles can become when they’re inconvenient to your team. On Sunday, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi created a mess for herself by insisting on NBC’s Meet the Press that Representative John Conyers deserves “due process” in the face of a series of accusations of improper conduct. Politically, Pelosi’s performance was a gift to her many critics. 

For liberals who think she’s passed her sell-by date as a Democratic leader, her hapless effort will now be Exhibit A in the brief against her, despite her subsequent efforts to clean up the mess. For populists on the left and right who think the political establishment is rigged to protect members of the club, Pelosi’s effort to protect Conyers — and Senator Al Franken, who has also been accused of several sexual transgressions — while at the same time insisting that we know all we need to know about President Trump and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore is simply a naked partisan double standard.

“We are strengthened by due process,” Pelosi insists when the topic is Conyers. But Moore is “a child molester.” This raises the most dismaying gift that Pelosi lobbed to the mob. 
By circling the wagons around Conyers and Franken (and Bill Clinton to some extent), Pelosi is all but guaranteeing the election of Moore. It is difficult to exaggerate the anger among many Republicans who believe that liberals use the rules selectively, shamelessly invoking standards of conduct to delegitimize and destroy their enemies while exempting their own. 
“Zero tolerance” for thee, “it’s complicated” for me. It was this belief — hardly unfounded — that let millions of Republicans dismiss allegations of sexual abuse against Trump and now Moore. 
Every day, conservatives angry at my opposition to Moore tell me “we” can’t “unilaterally disarm.” If they won’t play by the rules, why should we?

Sen. Mazie Hirono Self-Clowns In Partisan #MeToo Hypocrisy

freebeacon  |  Sen. Mazie Hirono (D., Hawaii) said Wednesday that she isn’t sure what to do about her Democratic colleagues facing sexual harassment allegations.

Hirono did not say Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn) or Rep. John Conyers (D., Mich.) should step down, adding that the world is not "so black and white" as to make it clear what to do. Franken was photographed with his hands over a sleeping woman’s breasts and Conyers is facing numerous harassment allegations, but Hirono called for regular procedures to continue.

"I think that we are [cleaning up politics] in the sense that we have procedures, you know?" Hirono said to MSNBC's Chuck Todd. "We are figuring out how we can best deal with the kinds of complaints that have come forward, the allegations."

She was quick to say that the problem is not confined to the Democratic Party and extends to other parties and industries. Todd countered by saying, "you have to start somewhere," and he asked Hirono if she was comfortable working with Conyers and Franken.

"I have served with them before we knew that they engaged in this kind of behavior—which, by the way, anybody who engages in this kind of behavior should be held accountable—but notice that good people do bad things," Hirono replied. "Gee, I wish that life were so black and white that you can't think of a single good person who has done bad things."

Hirono emphasized that the problem is cultural and argued that people should not focus too much on individual offenses.

Trump Properly Clowns Race-Fraud Elizabeth "Pocahontas" Warren

mediaite |  On Tuesday night, Trevor Noah took on the “Pocahontas” controversy and made a surprising conclusion.

The Daily Show host took on President Trump‘s “disrespectful” remarks at the White House ceremony honoring Native American code talkers when he made reference to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) using his nickname for her.

Noah called the feud between Trump and Warren a “tricky one to process” because his nicknames for other people like “Low-Energy” Jeb Bush, “Little” Marco Rubio, and “Lyin'” Ted Cruz are more self-explanatory than “Pocahontas.”

“When he says ‘Pocahontas,’ you might be thinking, ‘Trevor, I’m confused. Is Elizabeth Warren Native American?'” Noah asked. “And you see, that’s the question. Because for a long time, she said she was.”

He then played numerous news clips that explain that without any proof, Warren claimed to have Native American heritage and that minority status helped her get a job at Harvard University, which they touted their “diversity” with her employment.

“Wow,” Noah reacted. “How white is your college that when you get called out for being too white, your response is, ‘Nuh-uh, we’ve got her!'”

He then mocked her recipe contributions to a 1984 Native American cookbook called Pow Wow Chow and pointed out that the New England Genealogical Society found “no proof” that Warren had Native American lineage, which Noah called “problematic” because she wrote for Pow Wow Chow.
“I mean, that would be like finding out I’m completely white, I have no African blood, and yet I wrote the book Snacks For Blacks,” Noah quipped.

Noah concluded that while Trump “is racist,” but he’s hitting Warren for saying she’s Native American when she wasn’t, something he noted she “never apologized for or owned up to.”

“Elizabeth Warren did something problematic, the kind of thing we rightfully call each other out for every single day,” Noah continued. “So as weird as it is to say, in his own racially offensive way, Donald Trump was being woke. Yeah, and that’s unfortunately the truth.”

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

20 Years In Your Face Daily, And It All Comes Down To This!

BostonGlobe |  Longtime “Today” co-host Matt Lauer has been fired by NBC News after a “complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace,” the network reported Wednesday morning at the top of its “Today” broadcast. 

A memo from NBC News Chairman Andy Lack noted that it was the first complaint against Lauer, but also said the company had reason to believe it may not have been an isolated incident.
The network said it had received a complaint on Monday night from a colleague and made the decision to terminate his employment. 

“We are deeply saddened by this turn of events. But we will face it together as a news organization — and do it in as transparent a manner as we can,” Lack said in the statement.

Lauer had been an anchor on the show for 20 years, taking over in 1997.

NYC-DC Elites (The Deep State) Reimposing Narrative Control

strategic-culture |  That the relationship between Moscow and Washington should be regarded as important given the capability of either country to incinerate the planet would appear to be a given, but the Washington-New York Establishment, which is euphemism for Deep State, is actually more concerned with maintaining its own power by marginalizing Donald Trump and maintaining the perception that Vladimir Putin is the enemy head of state of a Russia that is out to cripple American democracy.

Beyond twisting narratives, Russiagate is also producing potentially dangerous collateral damage to free speech, as one of the objectives of those in the Deep State is to rein in the current internet driven relatively free access to information. In its most recent manifestations, an anonymous group produced a phony list of 200 websites that were “guilty” of serving up Russian propaganda, a George Soros funded think tank identified thousands of individuals who are alleged to be “useful idiots” for Moscow, and legitimate Russian media outlets will be required to register as foreign agents.

Driven by Russophobia over the 2016 election, a group of leading social media corporations including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter have been experimenting with ways to self-censor their product to keep out foreign generated or “hate” content. They even have a label for it: "cyberhate". Congress is also toying with legislation that will make certain viewpoints unacceptable or even illegal, including a so-called Anti-Semitism Awareness Act that would potentially penalize anyone who criticizes Israel and could serve as a model for banning other undesirable speech. “Defamatory speech” could even eventually include any criticism of the government or political leaders, as is now the case in Turkey, which is the country where the “Deep State” was invented.

NYC-DC Elites Struggle With Midwest-NoCal Elites Over Controlling Narratives

thenewyorker |  McCarthy wasn’t persuadable on the matter, and certainly not through personal testimony. To his way of thinking, there was no such thing as inappropriate tech or inappropriate speech. Besides, who could be trusted to decide? One post, which McCarthy endorsed, suggested that letting I.T. administrators determine what belonged on the computers at Stanford was like giving janitors at the library the right to pick the books.

McCarthy’s colleagues innately shared his anti-authoritarian perspective; they voted unanimously to oppose the removal of rec.humor.funny from Stanford’s terminals. The students were nearly as committed; a confidential e-mail poll found a hundred and twenty-eight against the ban and only four in favor. McCarthy was soon able to win over the entire university by enlisting a powerful metaphor for the digital age. Censoring a newsgroup, he explained to those who might not be familiar with Usenet, was like pulling a book from circulation. Since “Mein Kampf” was still on the library shelves, it was hard to imagine how anything else merited removal. The terms were clear: either you accepted offensive speech or you were in favor of destroying knowledge. There was no middle ground, and thus no opportunity to introduce reasonable regulations to insure civility online. In other words, here was the outline for exactly our predicament today.

McCarthy, who died in 2011, considered his successful campaign against Internet censorship the capstone to a distinguished career. As he boasted to a crowd gathered for the fortieth anniversary of the Stanford computer-science department, on March 21, 2006, his great victory had been to make the school understand that “a faculty-member or student Web page was his own property, as it were, and not the property of the university.” At the time, almost as much as in 1989, McCarthy could safely see this victory as untainted; the Internet still appeared to be virgin territory for the public to frolic in. Facebook wouldn’t go public for another six years. The verb “Google” had yet to enter the Oxford English Dictionary. The first tweet had just been sent—the very same day, in fact.

Today, of course, hateful, enraging words are routinely foisted on the public by users of all three companies’ products, whether in individual tweets and Facebook posts or in flawed Google News algorithms. Championing freedom of speech has become a business model in itself, a cover for maximizing engagement and attracting ad revenue, with the social damage mostly pushed aside for others to bear. When the Internet was young, the reason to clean it up was basic human empathy—the idea that one’s friends and neighbors, at home or on the other side of the world, were worth respecting. In 2017, the reason is self-preservation: American democracy is struggling to withstand the rampant, profit-based manipulation of the public’s emotions and hatreds.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Humans are Transitional Animals, Not the Climax of Consciousness...,  |  Meanwhile, over the last four decades, the winds have shifted, as often happens in science as researchers pursue the best questions to ask. Enormous projects, like those of the Allen Institute for Brain Science and the Brain-Mind Institute of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, seek to understand the structure and function of the brain in order to answer many questions, including what consciousness is in the brain and how it is generated, right down to the neurons. A whole field, behavioral economics, has sprung up to describe and use the ways in which we are unconscious of what we do—a major theme in Jaynes’ writing—and the insights netted its founders, Daniel Kahneman and Vernon L. Smith, the Nobel Prize.

Eric Schwitzgebel, a professor of philosophy at University of California, Riverside, has conducted experiments to investigate how aware we are of things we are not focused on, which echo Jaynes’ view that consciousness is essentially awareness. “It’s not unreasonable to have a view that the only things you’re conscious of are things you are attending to right now,” Schwitzgebel says. “But it’s also reasonable to say that there’s a lot going on in the background and periphery. Behind the focus, you’re having all this experience.” Schwitzgebel says the questions that drove Jaynes are indeed hot topics in psychology and neuroscience. But at the same time, Jaynes’ book remains on the scientific fringe. “It would still be pretty far outside of the mainstream to say that ancient Greeks didn’t have consciousness,” he says.

Dennett, who has called The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind a “marvelous, wacky book,” likes to give Jaynes the benefit of the doubt. “There were a lot of really good ideas lurking among the completely wild junk,” he says. Particularly, he thinks Jaynes’ insistence on a difference between what goes on in the minds of animals and the minds of humans, and the idea that the difference has its origins in language, is deeply compelling.

“[This] is a view I was on the edge of myself, and Julian kind of pushed me over the top,” Dennett says. “There is such a difference between the consciousness of a chimpanzee and human consciousness that it requires a special explanation, an explanation that heavily invokes the human distinction of natural language,” though that’s far from all of it, he notes. “It’s an eccentric position,” he admits wryly. “I have not managed to sway the mainstream over to this.”

It’s a credit to Jaynes’ wild ideas that, every now and then, they are mentioned by neuroscientists who study consciousness. In his 2010 book, Self Comes to Mind, Antonio Damasio, a professor of neuroscience, and the director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California, sympathizes with Jaynes’ idea that something happened in the human mind in the relatively recent past. “As knowledge accumulated about humans and about the universe, continued reflection could well have altered the structure of the autobiographical self and led to a closer stitching together of relatively disparate aspects of mind processing; coordination of brain activity, driven first by value and then by reason, was working to our advantage,” he writes. But that’s a relatively rare endorsement. A more common response is the one given by neurophilosopher Patricia S. Churchland, an emerita professor at the University of California, San Diego. “It is fanciful,” she says of Jaynes’ book. “I don’t think that it added anything of substance to our understanding of the nature of consciousness and how consciousness emerges from brain activity.”

Jaynes himself saw his theory as a scientific contribution, and was disappointed with the research community’s response. Although he enjoyed the public’s interest in his work, tilting at these particular windmills was frustrating even for an inveterate contrarian. Jaynes’ drinking grew heavier. A second book, which was to have taken the ideas further, was never completed.

And so, his legacy, odd as it is, lives on. Over the years, Dennett has sometimes mentioned in his talks that he thought Jaynes was on to something. Afterward—after the crowd had cleared out, after the public discussion was over—almost every time there would be someone hanging back. “I can come out of the closet now,” he or she would say. “I think Jaynes is wonderful too.”

Knowledge Engineering: Human "Intelligence" Mirrors That of Eusocial Insects

Cambridge |  The World Wide Web has had a notable impact on a variety of epistemically-relevant activities, many of which lie at the heart of the discipline of knowledge engineering. Systems like Wikipedia, for example, have altered our views regarding the acquisition of knowledge, while citizen science systems such as Galaxy Zoo have arguably transformed our approach to knowledge discovery. Other Web-based systems have highlighted the ways in which the human social environment can be used to support the development of intelligent systems, either by contributing to the provision of epistemic resources or by helping to shape the profile of machine learning. In the present paper, such systems are referred to as ‘knowledge machines’. In addition to providing an overview of the knowledge machine concept, the present paper reviews a number of issues that are associated with the scientific and philosophical study of knowledge machines. These include the potential impact of knowledge machines on the theory and practice of knowledge engineering, the role of social participation in the realization of intelligent systems, and the role of standardized, semantically enriched data formats in supporting the ad hoc assembly of special-purpose knowledge systems and knowledge processing pipelines.

Knowledge machines are a specific form of social machine that is concerned with the sociotechnical
realization of a broad range of knowledge processes. These include processes that are thetraditional focus of the discipline of knowledge engineering, for example, knowledge acquisition, knowledge modeling and the development of knowledge-based systems.

In the present paper, I have sought to provide an initial overview of the knowledge machine concept, and I have highlighted some of the ways in which the knowledge machine concept can be applied to existing areas of research. In particular, the present paper has identified a number of examples of knowledge machines (see Section 3), discussed some of the mechanisms that underlie their operation (see Section 5), and highlighted the role of Web technologies in supporting the emergence of ever-larger knowledge processing organizations (see Section 8). The paper has also highlighted a number of opportunities for collaboration between a range of disciplines. These include the disciplines of knowledge engineering, WAIS, sociology, philosophy, cognitive science, data science, and machine learning.

Given that our success as a species is, at least to some extent, predicated on our ability to manufacture, represent, communicate and exploit knowledge (see Gaines 2013), there can be little doubt about the importance and relevance of knowledge machines as a focus area for future scientific and philosophical enquiry. In addition to their ability to harness the cognitive and epistemic capabilities of the human social environment, knowledge machines provide us with a potentially important opportunity to scaffold the development of new forms of machine intelligence. Just as much of our own human intelligence may be rooted in the fact that we are born into a superbly structured and deliberately engineered environment (see Sterelny 2003), so too the next generation of synthetic intelligent systems may benefit from a rich and structured informational environment that houses the sum total of human knowledge. In this sense, knowledge machines are important not just with respect to the potential transformation of our own (human) epistemic capabilities, they are also important with respect to the attempt to create the sort of environments that enable future forms of intelligent system to press maximal benefit from the knowledge that our species has managed to create and codify.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Is This Why Poppy Bush Abruptly Commenced Playing Grab Ass?

Counterpunch |  The legend of Camelot has had a decidedly devastating effect on the sober appreciation of US government institutions. The Kennedys were the US variant of the Royal Family and even more to the point, seemed photogenic, intellectual, glamorous.

The Kennedy family was itself the architect behind the faux aristocratic fantasy, the fiction, if you like, of an administration awash with shiny competence and brain heavy awareness.  In truth, it was essentially piloted by a medically challenged and heavily medicated figure who suffered, amongst other conditions, Addison’s disease.

President Kennedy’s rocky stewardship, as Robert Dallek notes in considerable detail, was marked by anti-anxiety agents, sleeping pill popping, stimulants, and pain killers.  The public image of a formidable, robust Cold War warrior was itself an elaborate fantasy, padded by its own conspiracy of deception.  As if realising the implications of his medical burrowing, Dallek had to reiterate the point that Kennedy was still functioning and capable and was at no risk of cocking up during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.[2]

The Kennedys were successful enough, be it through their army of ideological acolytes and publicists (think of the unquestioning pen of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.), to create the impression of knight-like purity, intellectual sagacity and calm.  To kill, then, what is noble, became an essential American trope: JFK, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr.  Behind each had to be a gargantuan conspiracy, an establishment puppeteer.

The Kennedy files that are promised for release are hardly going to rock the boat, alter the world, or change a single mind.  Historians will be able to bring out modestly updated versions of old texts; official accounts might be slightly adjusted on investigations, locations and suspects, but the conspiracy set is bound to stick with grim determination to ideas long formed and re-enforced by assumptions that refuse revision.

Al Franken Sen. Stuart Smalley Surrendered His Nuts Yesterday Morning...,

Breh..., You Said Yours Was For Men!?!?!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Matthew 20:16

wearyourvoicemag  |  My turn to state an equation: colonization = “thing-ification.” – Aimé Césaire 

The use of social media as a powerful tool for free education on various topics continually rises, with definitions, experiential narratives, and resources being shared through Twitter threads, short videos, Facebook statuses, and even memes. And while this is a mostly positive phenomena, there seems to be a trend of words, and thus words’ associated theories, being used misguidedly. 

Often, this is a simple case of fighting character limits and the loss of nuance that occurs through online mediums, and other times it seems a phenomena of genuine miseducation and confusion. Words like intersectionality, decolonize, imperialism, socialism, and other loaded terms that come with decades of jargon are at times applied to everything, and their actual meaning is lost. 

Observing this pattern is what lead me to the idea of an article series titled “Words Mean Things,” wherein each month I choose a different word and discuss the theories, uses, theorists, examples, applications, and praxis surrounding it. The goal is to do this as concisely as possible and, understanding these will never be wholly conclusive of all definitions, applications, and examples of certain words, to deliver small primers that exist as resources to lead readers to study deeper. I often say that words mean everything, and then anything, just before meaning nothing.


Colonialism is a system of land occupation and theft, labor exploitation, and/or resource dependency that is to blame for much of our modern concepts of racialization. It is an act of dominance in which a forceful state overtakes a “weaker” state; this means that colonization is the act of forcefully stripping sovereignty of a country through acquisition of land, resources, raw material, and governmental structures. Systems of colonialism are based in notions of racial inferiority, as they as they perpetuate white/European domination over non-white colonial subjects. 

The most obvious (and broad) example of colonialism is the expansion of Europe into Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and the subsequent creation of colonies. Through violence and manipulation, a relationship of control and influence was exerted economically, socially, politically, religiously, and culturally. In Jamaica, for example, the British empire invaded and colonized the island in the mid-17th Century, and subsequently established British colonial school systems, laws and regulations creating dependency on Britain, and pushed European gender, religious, and wardrobe norms onto the society.

There are various forms of colonialism and colonial projects, but all involve some form of domination, control, and/or influence on an indigenous population through violence and/or manipulation. It is also important to note that these various forms of colonialism often intersect and overlap, too. In his 1972 essay “Discourse On Colonialism,” one of the most important pieces of writing I have ever read, writer Aimé Césaire states:

“Between colonizer and colonized there is room only for forced labor, intimidation, pressure, the police, taxation, theft, rape, compulsory crops, contempt, mistrust, arrogance, self-complacency, swinishness, brainless elites, degraded masses. No human contact, but relations of domination and submission which turn the colonizing man into a class-room monitor, an army sergeant, a prison guard, a slave driver, and the indigenous man into an instrument of production.”

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Meanwhile, Across the Atlantic #YouToo

medialens |  The truth of corporate journalism, and the great irony of its obsession with 'fake news', is that it is itself utterly fake. What could be more obviously fake than the idea that Truth can be sold by billionaire-owned media dependent on billionaire-owned advertisers for maximised profit?

The 'mainstream' worldview is anything but – it is extreme, weird, a product of corporate conformity and deference to power. As Norman Mailer observed:
'There is an odour to any Press Headquarters that is unmistakeable... The unavoidable smell of flesh burning quietly and slowly in the service of a machine.' (Mailer, 'The Time Of Our Time', Little Brown, 1998, p.457)
A prime example of 'mainstream' extremism is the way the UK's illegal wars destroying whole countries are not an issue for corporate moralists. Physicians for Global Responsibility estimate that 1.3 million people have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan alone. And yet it is simply understood that UK wars will not be a theme during general elections (See here and here). By contrast, other kinds of 'inappropriate behaviour' are subject to intense scrutiny.

Consider the recent resignation of Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and his replacement by Prime Minister Theresa May's Chief Whip, Gavin Williamson. Fallon resigned after it was revealed that he had 'repeatedly touched the broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer's knee at a dinner in 2002'.
Fallon was damaged further by revelations that he had lunged at journalist Jane Merrick:
'This was not a farewell peck on the cheek, but a direct lunge at my lips.'
The Commons leader Andrea Leadsom also disclosed that she had complained about 'lewd remarks' Fallon had made to her.
Sexual harassment is a serious issue, despite the scoffing of some male commentators. In the Mail on Sunday, Peter Hitchens shamefully dismissed women's complaints as mere 'squawking'.
But it is strange indeed that, while harassment is rightly deemed a resigning offence, other 'inappropriate behaviour' leaves 'mainstream' commentators completely unmoved.

medialens |   If the human species survives long enough, future historians might well marvel at what passed for 'mainstream' media and politics in the early 21st century.

They will see that a UK Defence Secretary had to resign because of serious allegations of sexual misconduct; or, as he put it euphemistically, because he had 'fallen short'. But he did not have to resign because of the immense misery he had helped to inflict upon Yemen. Nor was he made to resign when he told MPs to stop criticising Saudi Arabia because that would be 'unhelpful' while the UK government was trying to sell the human rights-abusing extremist regime in Riyadh more fighter jets and weapons. After all, the amount sold in the first half of 2017 was a mere £1.1 billion. (See our recent media alert for more on this.) Right now, the UK is complicit in a Saudi blockade of Yemen's ports and airspace, preventing the delivery of vital medicine and food aid. 7.3 million Yemenis are already on the brink of famine, and the World Food Programme has warned of the deaths of 150,000 malnourished children in the next few months.

Meanwhile, Robert Peston, ITV political editor, and Laura Kuenssberg, BBC News political editor, have seemingly never questioned the British Prime Minister Theresa May about the UK's shameful role in arming and supporting Yemen's cruel tormentor. Nor have they responded when challenged about their own silence.

Future historians will also note that British newspapers, notably The Times and the 'left-leaning' Guardian, published several sycophantic PR pieces for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 'a risk-taker with a zeal for reform'. 'Is he taking on too much too fast?', asked a swooning Patrick Wintour, the Guardian's diplomatic editor. Martin Chulov, the paper's Middle East correspondent, waxed lyrical about the Crown Prince's 'bold move' in arresting senior royals, a prominent Saudi billionaire and scores of former ministers as part of a 'corruption purge'. The dramatic action was designed to 'consolidate power' while bin Salman 'attempts to reform [the] kingdom's economy and society'. As Adam Johnson noted in a media analysis piece for Fairness in Accuracy And Reporting, the Guardian's coverage was akin to a 'breathless press release.' A follow-up article by Chulov, observed Johnson, 'took flattering coverage to new extremes'. The 'rush to reform' was presented uncritically by the paper, painting the Crown Prince as a kind of populist hero; 'a curious framing that reeks more of PR than journalism.'

Meanwhile, Richard Spencer, Middle East editor of The Times, wrote articles proclaiming, 'Prince's bold vision drives progress in Saudi Arabia' and 'It's wrong to blame all terror on the Saudis', featuring such propaganda bullet points as:

Friday, November 24, 2017

Has "Being a Man" Lost All Functional Use?

theatlantic  |  In flight from machismo, we have largely given up on adult male self-mastery. But isn’t it also true that, allowed at last to be confused about masculinity, we no longer accept men like Wayne as heroes? Schoenberger herself alludes, perceptively, to “functional masculinity,” and if I read her right, this is the core of her provocative argument. Masculinity as puerile male bonding, as toxic overcompensation and status jockeying—this is what’s unleashed when masculinity no longer has an obvious function. Divorced from social purpose, “being a man” becomes merely symbolic. So, for example, robots in factories and drones on the battlefield will only make gun ownership and mixed martial arts more popular. To push the thesis further, as men become less socially relevant, they become recognition-starved; and it is here that “being a man” expresses itself most primitively, as violence.

The invention of John Wayne—is there a more primal scene of masculinity being stripped of utility and endowed with dubious political karma? If it was his idol’s cruelty, more than anything, that converted the beautiful boy in buckskins, with the wavy pile of hair and not a line of experience written on his face, into a Cold War icon, then we would do well to understand that cruelty. Henry Fonda, who made eight pictures with Ford, said of him: “Pappy was full of bullshit, but it was a delightful sort of bullshit.” He pretended that he wanted only to be a stuntman and was given the director job because he could yell; he pretended that he hired actors based only on their skill at cards. His whole persona was shot through with nostalgia for something he never knew. He altered his dress, head to toe, because “he was trying to be a native Irishman,” as one colleague noted, wearing his collar raised and the brim of his hat down, so the Irish rain would run off it, and rolling up the legs of his pants, as if he’d been stepping through the Erin dew.

You may not be shocked to discover that it was Ford who had the effeminate walk. His grandson said that Ford was “aware of his own sensitivity and almost ashamed of it,” that he “surrounded himself with John Wayne, Ward Bond, and those people because they represented the way he wanted to be.” Ford’s biographer put it this way: “Without question he preferred the company of men, and male bonding reached inordinate proportions.” (Inordinate! Oh my.) It was left to Maureen O’Hara, one of Ford’s favorite actresses, to be more direct. In her 2004 memoir, she speculates that Ford was gay. (She claims she walked in on the director kissing a leading man.) It is painful to read, now, about men who struggled as Ford apparently did; about how he would get so drunk that he would soil himself; about how between shoots he let himself go, watching TV in bed, wearing pajamas all day, his hair and fingernails allowed to lengthen; about how ominously remote his marriage was.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Feminism Cathedral is Ressentiment

medium |  I’ve received a sudden deluge of comments from men informing me that I mustn’t write essays about rape culture anymore, so here’s another essay about rape culture.

One of the most common recurring themes I’ve seen in the criticisms of my last couple of articles on this subject is the claim that I only believe rape culture is a thing because I’ve had a uniquely bad set of experiences with men, which distorts my ability to provide a clear analysis of the subject. But that’s just the thing — my experiences aren’t unique. Virtually all women have had extensive bad experiences with rape, sexual harassment and sexual abuse.

All in all I’ve actually had exceptionally good experiences with men; I have an amazing father, an amazing husband, and an amazing son. If I thought men were just evil rape monsters I wouldn’t write about the various ways rape culture is becoming conscious and how we can explore this as a society. We’ve had a long, chaotic march into the present moment as a species, and much of that march has included the commodification of women as essentially the property of a male partner who was entitled to sex whenever he wanted it. This has left many vestigial relics in our culture that have yet to move into consciousness, but we’re getting there. Here are four things that I would like to use my little platform here to say to every woman about this journey:

Civilization is the Monetization of Knowledge, Skill, and Ability

paulcraigroberts |  A white male professor of philosophy has discovered that in order to have an academic career in these days he must find “white privilege” everywhere. Professor John Caputo, according to this report,, has found white male privilege in reason itself.

Reason, says Professor Caputo, “is a white male Euro-Christian construction.” Since reason is white, reason is not neutral. It implies that what is not white is not rational. “So white is philosophically relevant and needs to be philosophically critiqued.”

Professor Caputo ties into University of California professor Sara Giordano who defines science as a “colonial and racialized form of power” that “must be replaced with an anti-science, antiracist, feminist approach to knowledge production.” 

I can’t say that this would be all bad. This way we wouldn’t have nuclear weapons and the frustrating digital age. But before I vote for it, I want to know what feminist science is. I have a disturbing feeling that it brings with it the genocide of the white heterosexual male. After all, if white heterosexual males are responsible for all the evil and ills of the world, how can we tolerate their existence? 

The University of Oregon’s Jewish president was prevented by students from giving an university address this month about free speech. Free speech, declared the student protesters, perpetuates “fascism and white supremacy.” 

Journalists seem to agree with the Oregon students. The European Federation of Journalists is leading a “Media against Hate” campaign against hate speech and stereotyping of illegal immigrants. In other words, any European who protests his/her country being overrun by foreign invaders must be shut up. The scenario in The Camp of the Saints is now happening before our eyes. 

A British university has blocked a professor’s study of those who regret their transgender operation because it is politically incorrect and could damage the university’s reputation. The study, the university said, would be “transphobic.”

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Why the Hyperbolic Language of Child Molestation and Pedophilia?

dailybeast |  Liberals have clucked their tongues at Judge Roy Moore, the “family values” conservative now dodging accusations of sexual contact with a minor. But Moore’s not a hypocrite; he’s an exemplar of the morality he preaches.

Moore, the Republican candidate for Senate in Alabama, has been accused of making unwanted sexual advances on three teenage girls in 1979 when he was a single man in his thirties. Two of the girls were of legal age, 16, but one was 14. She says he drove her home, took off her shirt, touched her bra and underwear, and guided her hand to his pants.

Moore has denied the incident with the 14-year-old, but has not denied dating teenagers when he was a thirty-something district attorney – “always with the permission of their parents,” he said.

While Moore has blamed the eruption of the scandal on Democrats, in fact it’s Republicans who would most like to see it bring him down. Some of this, of course, is because Moore is an anti-democratic theocrat who tarnishes the entire Republican brand with unreconstructed homophobia and contempt for the rule of law. Democrats would benefit if he actually stays in the race.

But a big reason conservatives are running from Moore is to make him into a scapegoat, which is why he has so often been described not as someone accused of statutory rape but with terms like rape, pedophile, sexual predator and child molester.

On Sunday, for example, Marc Short, the White House Director of Legislative Affairs, told Chuck Todd on Meet the Press that “there’s a special place in hell” for pedophiles like Roy Moore. “There’s no Senate seat more important than the issue of child pedophilia,” he said.

Weaponization of Sexual _________________?

unz  |  Reminiscences of harassment have no value, even if true. If the woman did not act on the spot, forget it.
Otherwise, soon the US will have no normal men politicians left; only women and effeminate men. And then the disease will spread all over Europe, until the Old World and North America will be ready for its repopulation by virile Africans.

Russia remains a safe zone for males. Though many American trends come to Moscow, emasculation is not one of them. When, a few years ago, Russians banned same-sex propaganda for minors, they broke with emasculating trend. Actually, Russian women prefer things done Russian way, too. Men pay for dinners, keep doors open, help with putting a coat, in short, they keep doing what the American and European gentlemen did some fifty years ago.

Russia has had its #MeToo campaign a year ago (#янебоюсьсказать , I dare to tell, in Russian), and a lot of women recited or invented stories of their harassment. But it remained in the Facebook, for the law did not allow to complain years after the alleged crime occurred.

Moreover, the Russians consider sex between men and women as a normal thing. They have no horror of sex between a teacher and a student, or between a boss and his assistant. Reports on severe punishment American judges meted on female teacher having sex with teenage boys are met with bewilderment and disbelief. Out of fifty recent stories of this kind probably not even one of them would be punished in Russia. I wouldn’t understand, either, what is the harm for a 17 year old student to be seduced by his 23-year old teacher. The kid should be envied, if anything. This traditional attitude toward sex is the main reason for the current mass media attack on Russia, not the mythical “Russian hackers”.

It is very difficult to defend Weinstein, with his Holocaust obsession and his desire of taking revenge upon blondes. However, his case had opened the gates of Hell. Let us shut them up before the Yin and Yang, male-female balance of the universe collapse.

Why has the US been hit by this strange trouble? I would explain it as an undoing of the 1968 revolution, including the Sexual Revolution. For us, for children of 1960s, the living was easy, and sex was free and plentiful – in California, Crimea, Côte d’Azur. We had a lot of it, wonderful unprotected sex, often with strangers. That was Communism. Fear of free and available sex is the fear of Communism.

The rich guys and gals who came to power afterwards turned everything into money, and with that purpose on their minds they created scarcity, even scarcity of sex, a sex counter-revolution. Harassment complainants are the soldiers of the Sexual Counter-Revolution as they increase scarcity in order to monetize their charms. They will be the losers, poor things; hopefully they won’t ruin the world before they understand it.

Things Rich People Do To Keep You Peasants From Airing Their Dirty Laundry

NewYorker |  Weinstein’s employees were, and are, bound by confidentiality agreements included in their employment contracts with Miramax and the Weinstein Company. While nondisclosure agreements are a standard feature of employment contracts, the clauses in Weinstein’s included a special provision about information “concerning the personal, social or business activities” of “the co-Chairmen”—namely, Harvey and Bob Weinstein. Estreicher, the expert on employment law, told me that the nondisclosure clause regarding the personal lives of both Weinstein brothers was unusual. 

“That’s not generally found, the personal conduct of an individual being part of a contract like that.”
Many employees I spoke with said that these contractual provisions made it impossible to talk about suspicious behavior they witnessed at the company. Irwin Reiter, who worked for Weinstein for nearly three decades and is currently the Weinstein Company’s executive vice president for accounting and financial reporting, had previously declined requests to participate in stories. “I hope there’s no reprisal,” he told me, referring to legal action against employees. He said that he was nevertheless going public because he felt the culture of silence at the company deserved further scrutiny. Weinstein, he told me, “was so dominant that I think a lot of people were afraid of him, afraid to confront him, or question him, and that was the environment.” Reiter also raised doubts about the fairness of lifetime nondisclosure agreements. “A forever N.D.A. should not be legal,” he told me. “People should not be made to live with that. He’s created so many victims that have been burdened for so many years, and it’s just not right.”

These contractual constraints are perfectly legal. Allred, the victim’s-rights attorney, said that courts usually enforce them and view efforts to break them as “buyer’s remorse.” But in recent weeks lawmakers and legal experts have called for reforms to this system. Estreicher has proposed that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the government body that oversees workplace discrimination, track sexual-misconduct-related settlements and investigate employers who use them repeatedly. In addition to Congresswoman Jackie Speier’s legislation regarding congressional employees, state lawmakers in New York and California are pushing legislation to curtail the use of nondisclosure agreements in sexual-abuse cases. “These secret settlements perpetuate the problem. They allow rich men to continue to be sexual predators,” Connie Leyva, the California state senator who has announced legislation in that state, told me. “I hope that we can get this done in California, and that it will spread like wildfire around the country.”

Allred raised concerns about the potential reforms, which she feared could limit victims’ options. She noted that “anyone who agrees to enter into a settlement has a choice” and accepts both the costs and the—sometimes considerable—benefits. Good attorneys, she argued, explain the full implications of such agreements. “And then the client makes an informed choice.”

Gutierrez, Perkins, and other women who signed agreements with Weinstein told me that they felt their consent was far from informed. Gutierrez said that she wished she had been aware that Weinstein had faced similar allegations in the past. When, after the fact, she learned that his behavior with her was part of a pattern, she was filled with guilt. “I couldn’t even think of that person touching someone else,” she told me. “It made me have chills.” Gutierrez said that she wants to warn people of the risks of silence. “People need to really change right now,” she said. “To listen and speak. That was the worst thing—people not speaking.”

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Christian Nationalism Collides With the Cathedral

HuffPo  |  Many have believed the accusations against Roy Moore of sexual assault and harassment against teen girls to be massively hypocritical since for years he’s presented himself as a hardcore evangelical man of faith, and he has a loyal white Christian evangelical following.

But what if Moore’s alleged actions actually meld with a religious belief among some evangelicals, even if the adherents won’t outright admit it?

Moore in fact represents an extremist wing of an already theocratic-leaning base of the GOP that believes all women must be subservient and submit ― as Mike Huckabee, who hasn’t pulled his full-throated endorsement of Moore, infamously once said of women with regard to their husbands, expressing his own “Handmaid’s Tale” dream come true ―  and that would no doubt include young women such as teen girls. After all, as one of Moore’s defenders in the Alabama GOP said in dismissing the allegations, “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”

And since the advent of Donald Trump, this more extreme group of evengelicals has cleaved away from others and joined the alt-right and white nationalists, led by former Trump White House advisor Steve Bannon ― who is a front line warrior for Moore’s election campaign ― and which include white supremacists and racists like those we saw in Charlottesville.

Jack Jenkins, senior religion reporter at Think Progress, has been charting the growth in the Trump era of Christian nationalism ―the melding of some evangelicals and their beliefs with nationalistic movements and ideologies ― in several excellent and important articles. He, too, puts Roy Moore at the nexis of the white nationalist movement and the extremist evangelical movement.

As someone who has covered the Family Research Council’s annual Values Voters Summit (VVS) for years, I, along with other observers, saw a marked difference in the speakers and in the crowd this past October, when Donald Trump became the first sitting president to speak at the event. Some long-time leaders like those from the Southern Baptist Convention ― whose Russell Moore is a Never Trumper ― were not there, along with their followers. They were replaced by Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka and other white nationalists and their followers who never had an interest in VVS and are far from what anyone would think of as devout Christians.

White Nationalism and Christian Right Unite at Values Voter Summit,” was the headline of Adele Stan’s piece on Bill last month. A longtime progressive journalist, Stan, too, has covered VVS for years, as has Right-Wing Watch’s Peter Montgomery. Both of them agreed in a discussion on my radio program that this marriage of evangelicals and white nationalists was clear at this year’s VVS, a sort of realignment taking place. The star of VVS this year was Roy Moore ― backed by Bannon and his minions ― who would become the test candidate for catapulting Christian nationalism further into the mainstream.

Expecting Candle Light and Roses Got Tighty Whiteys and a Hard-On Instead...,

dailycaller  |  An Alabama pastor railed against Roy Moore’s accusers, arguing that the allegations are their sexual fantasies and that they could have looked older as teenagers.

Pastor Earl Wise, along with several other pastors interviewed by the Boston Globe for a Monday piece in relation to a letter posted by Kayla Moore, railed against the allegations of sexual misconductlevied against Roy Moore and argued that in some ways Moore’s alleged actions could be excusable.
Wise argued that the women coming forward to accuse Moore must be getting paid to do so, and that their allegations against Moore were actually their sexual fantasies about Moore, and that Moore could not be blamed for sexual acts with underage women since they sometimes look older.
“I don’t know how much these women are getting paid, but I can only believe they’re getting a healthy sum,” Wise told the Boston Globe.
“There ought to be a statute of limitations on this stuff. How these gals came up with this, I don’t know. They must have had some sweet dreams somewhere down the line. Plus, there are some 14-year-olds, who, the way they look, could pass for 20,” Wise added.
Wise told the Boston Globe that he would support Moore regardless of the veracity of the allegations that he committed sexual acts with a 14-year-old girl and several other teenage girls in his 30s. He was not the only pastor to rally to Moore’s defense, as both pastor Franklin Raddish of South Carolina and pastor Franklin Graham spoke out against Moore’s critics.

Ease Fourteen Year Old Jezebels What Done Seduced Roy Moore...,

BostonGlobe |  “I don’t know how much these women are getting paid, but I can only believe they’re getting a healthy sum,” said pastor Earl Wise, a Moore supporter from Millbrook, Ala. 

Wise said he would support Moore even if the allegations were true and the candidate was proved to have sexually molested teenage girls and women. 

“There ought to be a statute of limitations on this stuff,” Wise said. “How these gals came up with this, I don’t know. They must have had some sweet dreams somewhere down the line.

“Plus,” he added, “there are some 14-year-olds, who, the way they look, could pass for 20.”

For 40 years, “these women didn’t say a word. They were cool as a cucumber,” said pastor Franklin Raddish, a Baptist minister from South Carolina and a Moore supporter. 

“You’re asking me to believe them,’’ Raddish said, “when their own mother didn’t have enough red blood in her to . . . go and report this? Come on.” 

The statements are indicative of a broader shift among conservative evangelicals — and particularly white evangelicals. Long thought of as a voting bloc that demanded their lawmakers to be pious and spiritual, some are now even more accepting of a lawmaker’s personal indiscretions than the average American, polling data indicate. 

Eighty percent of white conservative evangelicals voted for Trump, according to 2016 election exit polls, even after the infamous “Access Hollywood’’ tape and the numerous allegations from women who said that he sexually assaulted them.

Six years ago, just 30 percent of white evangelical Protestants believed an elected official “who commits an immoral act in their personal life can still behave ethically and fulfill their duties” as a public servant, according to The Public Religion Research Institute, a nonprofit polling firm focused on faith issues.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Pankpocalypse Snatches Charlie Rose....,

BostonGlobe |  ‘‘In my 45 years in journalism, I have prided myself on being an advocate for the careers of the women with whom I have worked,’’ Rose said in a statement provided to The Post. ‘‘Nevertheless, in the past few days, claims have been made about my behavior toward some former female colleagues. 

‘‘It is essential that these women know I hear them and that I deeply apologize for my inappropriate behavior. I am greatly embarrassed. I have behaved insensitively at times, and I accept responsibility for that, though I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate. I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken. 

‘‘I have learned a great deal as a result of these events, and I hope others will too. All of us, including me, are coming to a newer and deeper recognition of the pain caused by conduct in the past, and have come to a profound new respect for women and their lives.’’

Most of the women said Rose alternated between fury and flattery in his interactions with them. Five described Rose putting his hand on their legs, sometimes their upper thigh, in what they perceived as a test to gauge their reactions. Two said that while they were working for Rose at his residences or were traveling with him on business, he emerged from the shower and walked naked in front of them. One said he groped her buttocks at a staff party. 

Reah Bravo was an intern and then associate producer for Rose’s PBS show beginning in 2007. In interviews, she described unwanted sexual advances while working for Rose at his private waterfront estate in Bellport, New York, and while traveling with him in cars, in a hotel suite and on a private plane.

‘‘It has taken 10 years and a fierce moment of cultural reckoning for me to understand these moments for what they were,’’ she told The Post. ‘‘He was a sexual predator, and I was his victim.’’


sfgate |   In the video above, the technology is initially developed with the intention of combating crime and terrorism, but the drones are taken over by an unknown forces who use the powerful weapons to murder a group of senators and college students. The video does contain some graphic content.

Russell, an expert on artificial intelligence, appears at the end of the video and warns against humanity's development of autonomous weapons.

"This short film is just more than speculation," Russell says. "It shows the results of integrating and militarizing technologies that we already have."  Fist tap Big Don.

The Human Strategy

edge |  The big question that I'm asking myself these days is how can we make a human artificial intelligence? Something that is not a machine, but rather a cyber culture that we can all live in as humans, with a human feel to it. I don't want to think small—people talk about robots and stuff—I want this to be global. Think Skynet. But how would you make Skynet something that's really about the human fabric?

The first thing you have to ask is what's the magic of the current AI? Where is it wrong and where is it right?

The good magic is that it has something called the credit assignment function. What that lets you do is take stupid neurons, these little linear functions, and figure out, in a big network, which ones are doing the work and encourage them more. It's a way of taking a random bunch of things that are all hooked together in a network and making them smart by giving them feedback about what works and what doesn't. It sounds pretty simple, but it's got some complicated math around it. That's the magic that makes AI work.

The bad part of that is, because those little neurons are stupid, the things that they learn don't generalize very well. If it sees something that it hasn't seen before, or if the world changes a little bit, it's likely to make a horrible mistake. It has absolutely no sense of context. In some ways, it's as far from Wiener's original notion of cybernetics as you can get because it's not contextualized: it's this little idiot savant.

But imagine that you took away these limitations of current AI. Instead of using dumb neurons, you used things that embedded some knowledge. Maybe instead of linear neurons, you used neurons that were functions in physics, and you tried to fit physics data. Or maybe you put in a lot of stuff about humans and how they interact with each other, the statistics and characteristics of that. When you do that and you add this credit assignment function, you take your set of things you know about—either physics or humans, and a bunch of data—in order to reinforce the functions that are working, then you get an AI that works extremely well and can generalize.

In physics, you can take a couple of noisy data points and get something that's a beautiful description of a phenomenon because you're putting in knowledge about how physics works. That's in huge contrast to normal AI, which takes millions of training examples and is very sensitive to noise. Or the things that we've done with humans, where you can put in things about how people come together and how fads happen. Suddenly, you find you can detect fads and predict trends in spectacularly accurate and efficient ways.

Human behavior is determined as much by the patterns of our culture as by rational, individual thinking. These patterns can be described mathematically, and used to make accurate predictions. We’ve taken this new science of “social physics” and expanded upon it, making it accessible and actionable by developing a predictive platform that uses big data to build a predictive, computational theory of human behavior.

The idea of a credit assignment function, reinforcing “neurons” that work, is the core of current AI. And if you make those little neurons that get reinforced smarter, the AI gets smarter. So, what would happen if the neurons were people? People have lots of capabilities; they know lots of things about the world; they can perceive things in a human way. What would happen if you had a network of people where you could reinforce the ones that were helping and maybe discourage the ones that weren't?