Whew — Hubris as Manure, and the News Too Unfit to be Real

The adage, a picture is worth a thousand words, well, funny stuff in our collective simpleton world of quips. In the end, though, we have to be quip thinkers, lovers of the football-mainstream mush, just to understand these folk. Look hard at these Guardian photos — the death masks of politics, poli-trick-tians, pols.

The most insulated people on earth, and, well, sure, there is that prime sick thing, Zuckerberg (scroll down to the troll) , and his values, his marriage, his backdoor to the government, to the corporation for proctology 101 fun.

Now how difficult is it for a real adult to hammer these three pigs in ties? Really?

US budget crisis: House to vote on revised Republican deal – live

House speaker John Boehner walks away while flanked by House majority leader Eric Cantor and Rep Kevin McCarth after speaking to the media. Photograph: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

“It’s not quite a roller coaster ride on the US stock markets but it’s heading that way,” writes Guardian business correspondent Dominic Rushe (@dominicru):

The US markets have been reacting to every bit of news out of Washington. They rose yesterday when it looked like a deal was in the offing and have now closed down after dipping in and out of positive territory for much of the day.

All the major US markets ended down. The Dow fell 133 points (.88%), the S&P ended down over 12 points (0.71%) and the Nasdaq was down over 21 points (0.56%)

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, on their wedding day

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, on their wedding day. The pair bought a house next to their own this week. Photograph: Facebook/AP

He made his fortune by persuading over a billion people to share their lives online, but when it comes to protecting his own privacy Mark Zuckerberg appears to spare no expense: the Facebook founder has reportedly spent $30m (£18.8m) buying four houses that surround his own home in California.

Oh, yes, so every second one spends mucking around with Facebook, is, what?

Quoting that sad-sack of a Zionist —

One of the big trends we see is that the amount that any individual shares in a given year seems to be growing at this exponentially increasing rate. It is this social networking version of Moore’s Law. What that suggests to me is that if we expect that this rate is going to double every year, then look out ten years, 2 to the 10th is 1024, ten years from now people will be sharing about a thousand times as many things. The question is not would Facebook have not been possible before 2004, it would have been in some capacity, but people would have shared less. And if you fast forward five years there are going to be all of these social services that people will be using to share way more. And I think anyone here can think about, ten years from now, people are going to be sharing a thousand times as much stuff a day if this trend continues. What things are going to have to exist in the world, what kind of services are going to have to exist for that to be possible?

A little backdoor discussion by Binoy, who appears here on the pages of DV from time to time.


Ever since The Patriot Act came into being, the body of liberties citizens cherish have been chipped away by a bloated security state keen to find nourishment.  When rights and liberties are deferred to the voyeurs, the monitors, and the paranoid, a bill of rights starts looking like a bill of words, easily sidestepped and disregarded.

A series of outlets have been chasing up the story that the NSA has been keeping track of every single US Verizon customer’s phone activity since the Boston bombing.  Complicity with tech companies in this enterprise is also rampant – Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple – have been recipients of tapping efforts by the NSA and FBI, something they have been doing since 2007.

More specifically, The Guardian has managed to secure access to records of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court about the specifics of Verizon’s networks and government access. In the document, the NSA compels Verizon to hand over “an electronic copy of the following tangible things: all call detail records or ‘telephony metadata’ created by Verizon for communications (i) between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.”  The document further states that disclosure of that fact – that the FBI and NSA sought or obtained such “tangible” things under the order – is prohibited except to appropriate authorities.  Gagging is de rigueur.

The classified program under which such activities are taking place is called PRISM, which involves the security agencies extracting audio and video chats, photographs, documents, e-mails, and connection logs (The Washington Post, Jun 7).  What is troubling about the program is that it was the devil spawn of something equally insidious – the warrantless surveillance of the Bush administration.  Given that such behaviour earned the judicial ire of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the new presidency sought other sources to legitimise mass surveillance programs.

As is typical with the Obama administration, the law is something to twist and turn, a matter of rhetorical play rather than substantive realities.  Legality is the spice of the new surveillance state.  The Protect America Act of 2007 and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 were olive branches to the new presidency, affirming that data mining was well on its way to becoming standard practice.

The document which wound its way to The Washington Post reveals the existence of what many have feared – that the government is merrily going about its business of keeping tabs on you in virtually every conceivable way. The document itself features “Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, PayTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.”  The Guardian has similarly obtained access to the 41 PowerPoint slides of the leaked NSA document detailing the PRISM program in all its inglorious intrusiveness.

Corporations from the Silicon Valley set have denied being free with the information of their users when it comes to the spooks and the analysts of the NSA.  A spokesman for Apple claimed that the company had “never heard of PRISM. We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers and any agency requesting customer data must get a court order” (The Guardian, Jun 7).  Similarly, an emphatic Joe Sullivan, chief security officer for Facebook, claimed that, “We do not provide any government organisation with direct access to Facebook servers.”

Being high and mighty about legality, as we know, is not necessarily Facebook’s forte.  For years now, the company has been at the forefront of a social media revolution that has one vital pitch: privacy is dead and deeply buried.  Despite this, Sullivan is clear that any request for data and information “about specific individuals” is carefully scrutinised within the framework of the law.  We can all rest easy that Mark Zuckerberg is not playing second fiddle to the American empire and the security perverts.

Constitutions are often needed to guard against political excess, the conscience of a state when its representatives have ceased to have any.  The responses from the Washington elite suggest the anaesthetised state they have fallen into – liberties need to be shredded to protect liberties; legality demands bouts of illegality and so forth.  Nothing to be surprised about, claimed Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga).  “This has been going on for seven years under the auspices of the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] authority, and every member of the United States Senate has been advised of this” (Forbes, Jun 6).

Even more striking of the amoral numbness of such surveillance activities is Chambliss’ remark that “we have not had any citizen who has registered a complaint relative to the gathering of this information, and its simply what we call ‘meta data’.”  Give it a cryptic, functional label, and people are bound to go along with it.  That’s if they even know about it.

Senator Diane Feinstein, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has again made it clear that the mass surveillance of public chatter and communications is entirely appropriate.  The Republic is besieged by enemies external and internal.  “As far as I know, this is the exact three-month renewal of what has been in place for the last seven years.” The message: This is normal.  Stop being so wet about it.

And, what a photo-op. This country is infantilized, lobotomized and this fellow has got to be kidding. Drone captain at 6 a.m. and sandwich maker by 11 a.m. and then beer, burgers and a smoke by 2 p.m. What a laughing stock we are for this fellow and his friendly foes on the other side of, what aisle/isle?

Barack Obama at a volunteer organisation in Washington on Monday

Barack Obama at a volunteer organisation in Washington on Monday. Photograph: Charles Dharapak/AP

Two weeks into the US government’s partial shutdown, new funding is being provided to some services to reopen closed programs, while other agencies that were at first spared now face closure.

Do we have a problem here with the elite, the scandalous few who bark and bark about how great the profit margin will be for Monsanto, all the crap of GMO, all the attacks on people who would ask, demand and call for a complete stop of GMO, nano-particle technology?


Environment secretary Owen Paterson who has hit out at

Even the most rational of arguments can understandably sometimes get quite heated. But in branding critics so emotively as “wicked” and “disgusting”, GM advocates like Owen Paterson relinquish any claims to reason.

Like other hysterically unqualified defences of rationality, this carries a worrying whiff of fundamentalism. If sincere, the unnoticed irony makes the pathology all the more concerning. If not sincere, there is an even worse taint of expedient political manipulation. That science is such a direct victim of this rhetoric compounds the irony.

The issues go far beyond GM. What lies at threat more broadly, are both science and democracy – and their crucial interdependencies. There is a duty for all who value these thereby expediently sundered Enlightenment traditions, to speak out clearly in their defence.

Rationality is not a kind of fairy dust that rubs off simply by invoking “science”. And science itself is not a cargo cult, magicking into being single self-evident “solutions” that brook no question. The real issues are about choices – both within and beyond science-based innovations. And as any real respect for science must show, the most important factors to explore will always be uncertainty and ambiguity. Here, the greatest assets are scepticism and democracy.

Choices between technologies are not about “yes” or “no” to whatever the loudest voices assert uncompromisingly as “progress”. The realities of progress are branching evolutionary paths. And many well-understood mechanisms of “path dependency”, “momentum” and “lock in” will irreversibly foreclose alternative trajectories. Think of why we’re still stuck after more than a century with the qwerty keyboard.

Moving down the path of transgenic crops may irreversibly foreclose other viable innovation trajectories. What about marker assisted selection; a non-GM application of advanced genetics which has produced some of the most promising results? (pdf) What about highly effective conventional plant breeding – perhaps augmented by open source practices and participatory breeding? (pdf) And beyond this, the devastating afflictions of poverty-induced malnourishment compel a range of wider responses such as support for mixed farming, dietary supplements, land reform and income redistribution. These hold at least equal claims to offer progress through reason. But what they significantly lack are the kinds of attributes valued especially highly by those seeking to control markets, seize intellectual property or command rents on global supply chains. Whatever position one takes on GM, these kinds of worldly ambitions offer better candidates for ethical scrutiny, than the mere act of questioning GM, so vilified by Paterson.

Speaking far more moderately today in support of golden rice, Professor Huw Jones, research group leader at the Centre for Crop Genetic Improvement at Rothamsted, puts the same issues in an unintentionally revealing way. He is reported in the Guardian’s Eco-Audit as saying:

There are three key issues: Is it safe? Is it effective? And will there be informed choice in the grower/consumer communities? If the answer to all is yes, then it is a no-brainer that golden rice should be part of the solution to malnourishment in Asia. The field trials must be done and let’s let the local communities decide.

Despite the more reasonable language, however, this framing of the issues displays a similarly blinkered circumscription of choice to that asserted by Paterson. Who says these are the only questions? By invisible acceptance of a chosen status quo, Professor Jones’ carefully bounded threesome of queries misses the obvious: “What are the alternatives?”

The corrosive irrationality of many current UK debates about GM – and science more generally – might be illuminated by considering an everyday family example. Take for instance, the question: what should we do at the weekend? Whether from enthusiasm or self-interest, an overbearing act of power-play might reduce this to whether to go the golf club on Saturday or Sunday. No matter how gentle the body language, the confinement of choice is brutal. What if we just don’t like golf?

What is happening, is that alternatives are being airbrushed out, as if wider choices simply don’t exist. It is a sign of the most insidious forms of power, that they deny the space not only for discussion, but even for imagination.

In any other sphere we would recognise such power-play for what it is. But there is something about debates over science and technology that somehow evaporate many people’s normal critical faculties. To deny choice and reduce scope for questioning merely to “yes” or “no”, is totalitarian. To then brand as “wicked” and “disgusting” those reasonable people who are thereby forced to say no, is an even more dangerous kind of extremism. Whatever views we take of GM, this is a slippery political slope that we slide down at our peril.

Andy Stirling is professor of science and technology policy at the University of Sussex.

Let’s get real here at John Steppling’s blog

Reverend Gary Davis

“You see, control can never be a means to any practical end….It can never be a means to anything but more control….Like junk….”  — William Burroughs

“However when we observe the sexual proclivities of persons placed in positions of power and control over other human beings, we can see these principles at work. Priests and altar-boys, heads of state and their dalliances with prostitutes and subordinates, and the insistence within the neo-feudal theocratic movements of complete domination of females by males both in society and marriage, are but a few ugly signs of the sexual nature of authoritarianism.” — Dan Mage

There feels like there are several cultural trends going on at once lately. I sense a new Puritanism rising up from, mostly, what passes for the left. The left has always been concerned with purity. Parties of six people will form expulsion committees. But this is a Puritanism that coincides with an already established Puritanism on the right. Well, you could call it the middle, because the middle IS the right. The Right is …well, sort of neo-Royalist. Anyway, there is also a sense that mainstream culture, whatever that is, I guess white culture, is digging in their heels and defending their privilege even if it means alligning themselves with the most reactionary elements in the country. Third, the new age of the victim is upon us. And this third issue, in a strange sort of way, makes its circuitious way toward a discussion of sexuality and repression.

There was a big debate (well, ok, not THAT big) at several feminist blogs about the term sex positive. About the use of sex-positive and this all seemed to spill over from the moronic Sinead O’Connor open letter {sic} to Miley Cyrus. The problem with most of this discussion, which frankly starts to feel very much like a first world laundry list of concerns, is that repression seems left out of the analysis. Its a rape culture, which is now increasingly in the open. And I have read several pieces by feminists that suggest sex positive notions are an expression of a hegemonic class. That not everyone wants sex. At this point I think its useful to mention Wilhelm Reich. The authoritarian state, the capitalist western state, raises children as if they were small model prisoners in a giant prison/factory. It is true not everyone wants sex, and not everyone ever has satisfying sex, and more significantly, this is because we live in a deeply unhealthy society.

Ruth Fowler’s very good piece elicited a good deal of criticism.


Before we go twerking down this path, I think it’s worthwhile to revisit Reich.

 Man takes great pains to disassociate himself from the vicious animal and to prove that he “is better” by pointing to his culture and his civilization, which distinguish him from the animal. His entire attitude, his “theories of value,” moral philosophies, his “monkey trials,” all bear witness to the fact that he does not want to be reminded that he is fundamentally an animal, that he has incomparably more in common with “the animal” than he has with that which he thinks and dreams himself to be. The theory of the German superman has its origin in man’s effort to disassociate himself from the animal. His viciousness, his inability to live peacefully with his own kind, his wars, bear witness to the fact that man is distinguished from the other animals only by a boundless sadism and the mechanical trinity of an authoritarian view of life, mechanistic science, and the machine. If one looks back over long stretches of the results of human civilization, one finds that man’s claims are not only false, but are peculiarly contrived to make him forget that he is an animal. Where and how did man get these illusions about himself?

Man’s life is dichotomized: One part of his life is determined by biologic laws (sexual gratification, consumption of food, relatedness to nature); the other part of his life is determined by the machine civilization (mechanical ideas about his own organization, his superior position in the animal kingdom, his racial or class attitude toward other human groups, valuations about ownership and nonownership, science, religion, etc.). His being an animal and his not being an animal, biologic roots on the one hand and technical development on the other hand, cleave man’s life and thought. All the notions man has developed about himself are consistently derived from the machine that he has created. The construction of machines and the use of machines have imbued man with the belief that he is progressing and developing himself to something “higher,” in and through the machine. But he also invested the machine with an animal-like appearance and mechanics. The train engine has eyes to see with and legs to run with, a mouth to consume coal with and discharge openings for slag, levers, and other devices for making sounds. In this way the product of mechanistic technology became the extension of man himself. In fact, machines do constitute a tremendous extension of man’s biologic organization. They make him capable of mastering nature to a far greater degree than his hands alone had enabled him. They give him mastery over time and space. Thus, the machine became a part of man himself, a loved and highly esteemed part. He dreams about how these machines make his life easier and will give him a great capacity for enjoyment. The enjoyment of life with the help of the machine has always been his dream. And in reality? The machine became, is, and will continue to be his most dangerous destroyer, if he does not differentiate himself from it.” — Wihelm Reich

Finally, is it true, Mexico is fighting for its corn?  Environmental and Food Justice.

An October 10 press release with Mexico City byline announces the banning of genetically-engineered corn in Mexico. According to the group that issued the press release, La Coperacha, a federal judge has ordered Mexico’s SAGARPA(Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca, y Alimentación), which is Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture, and SEMARNAT (Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales), which is equivalent of the EPA, to immediately “suspend all activities involving the planting of transgenic corn in the country and end the granting of permission for experimental and pilot commercial plantings”.

The unprecedented ban was granted by the Twelfth Federal District Court for Civil Matters of Mexico City. Judge Jaime Eduardo Verdugo J. wrote the opinion and cited “the risk of imminent harm to the environment” as the basis for the decision. The judge’s ruling also ruled that multinationals like Monsanto and Pioneer are banned from the release of transgenic maize in the Mexican countryside” as long as collective action lawsuits initiated by citizens, farmers, scientists, and civil society organizations are working their way through the judicial system.

There was no “green revolution,” and the population bomb did explode and continues to explode. Wheat is killing the planet and people. We are heading for massive ecosystem shutdown because our pooping, polluting, politicking, prostituting, pay-pal nature. I see we have others at DV who beg to differ, but . . . . Vandana Shiva:

The Green Revolution has been a failure. It has led to reduced genetic diversity, increased vulnerability to pests, soil erosion, water shortages, reduced soil fertility, micronutrient deficiencies, soil contamination, reduced availability of nutritious food crops for the local population, the displacement of vast numbers of small farmers from their land, rural impoverishment and increased tensions and conflicts. The beneficiaries have been the agrochemical industry, large petrochemical companies, manufacturers of agricultural machinery, dam builders and large landowners.

The “miracle” seeds of the Green Revolution have become mechanisms for breeding new pests and creating new diseases.

In 1970, Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in developing high-yielding varieties (HYVs) of wheat. The “Green Revolution”, launched by Borlaug’s “miracle seeds”, is often credited with having transformed India from “a begging bowl to a bread basket.”, and the Punjab is frequently cited as the Green Revolution’s most celebrated success story.’ Yet, far from bringing prosperity, two decades of the Green Revolution have left the Punjab riddled with discontent and violence. Instead of abundance, the Punjab is beset with diseased soils, pest-infested crops, waterlogged deserts and indebted and discontented farmers. Instead of peace, the Punjab has inherited conflict and violence.


Paul Haeder's been a teacher, social worker, newspaperman, environmental activist, and marginalized muckraker, union organizer. Paul's book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years (now going on 17 years) of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. Read (purchase) his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Here's his Amazon page with more published work Amazon. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.