Monday, December 31, 2007

The Ozymandian Endgame - Peak Oil and Dunbar's Number

Thomas 18: "Have you discovered then the beginning that you look for the end? You see, the end will be where the beginning is. Congratulations to the one who stands at the beginning: that one will know the end and will not taste death."

Matt 18:20 For where two or three gather together as my followers,[h] I am there among them.”

quoth Cobb this morning;
I think that any splinter from the hegemon must remain existing at a scaled-down level of autonomy or face the same problems of scale which are the origins of standardizations which ultimately constrain expression in hegemony.
Cobb-ski wrote about Dunbar's Number a month or so ago - but got it deeply distorted through that lopsided neoconservative looking glass of his.
We can't love everyone. We can't even keep track of everyone. Where is the power in that? Where is the wisdom in that? it only makes sense if you give into it absolutely, one must be an apologist for Christianity in order for it to be comprehensible.

It leaves us with a series of smudgemarks we make on people, like bumpercars in the eternal human circus. It is an absolute reason to be charitable but to no end other than the belief that you become a better person for doing so.
Truth is, Christianity makes no such prescriptions of scale - rather - it prescribes a vital moral and spiritual praxis centered on the practice of community. To misunderstand this aspect of Christian praxis, is to misunderstand Christianity altogether.

The deep cover brother (Malcolm Gladwell) popularized Dunbar's Number (or, as he called it, "the Magic Number One Hundred and Fifty") in his bestselling 2003 business management book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. I've been writing "at this" topic since Vision Circle days with my initial prescriptions on local Interpersonal Communion. However, synchronicities borne of Spence's comment about grid vs. off-grid and Mahndisa's comment about the emergent psychic qualities of interaction became dazzling in the light of a couple of articles I came across this morning.

Dr. Robin I. M. Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist studied the behavioral ecology of primates and the relationship of primates to their environment. Dunbar analyzed numerical data from primate studies conducted worldwide. He observed certain "defining behavioural characteristics," such as "the time devoted to social interaction, the level of social skills and the degree of tactical deception practiced." Extrapolating to human societies based on the size of the human neocortex, Dunbar theorized human beings naturally form groups no larger than about 150 (147.8, actually) and "cliques" of about a dozen. Dunbar's paper, "Coevolution of neocortical size, group size and language in humans," appeared in Behavioral and Brain Sciences Vol. 16, issue 4. The figure of 150 people has become known as "Dunbar's Number."

Chris Allen wrote a very strong article about it a few years ago - The Dunbar Number as a Limit to Group Sizes and put it in the context of practical and effective group sizes.
Essentially, as we increase group sizes beyond 80, to 150, 200, or even 350-500, we typically do so by breaking larger groups down into smaller ones, and continually reducing community sizes down to the point where they can be understood and managed by people -- and so efficiency reasserts itself.
Peter Goodchild knocks it out of the park, however, with his recent article Peak Oil and Dunbar's Number;
Small groups have their problems. Nevertheless, in terms of providing human happiness for the average person, the tribe is always more efficient than the empire. Any political party that was at all honest in its dealings would therefore state quite plainly that the human population must drop from seven billion to several million. Schumacher’s solutions are couched in patronizing monosyllables about moral reawakening, but he is on the right track. The anarchistic dreams of Kropotkin and the ecological dreams of Schumacher are complementary; they are both visions of a world without a corrupt and inefficient government, a world not covered with concrete and asphalt, a world that leaves room for trees and birds.
You didn't really think I was going to end the year without a final nod to the 800lb Malthusian reaper (peak oil) now did you? You know me better than that by now....,

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Creative Stream

1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi - The World - To be tightly attached to the world signifies immaturity; as long as you're an embryo, blood-drinking is your business. III, 1293-7]

There are two distinct streams of human life on the earth. One is the visible external stream of life - a system of organization in which we are governed by a combination of suggestion, coercion and the skillful manipulation of desire and cognitive error. Sadly, because it is the dominant scheme of human affairs, most of us are obliged to participate in this system of organization.

One can say that this stream is causal. Factors that existed in the past are producing results experienced in the present and which promise to be carried forward into the future. With the advent of mass communication technologies in the 20th century, cultural hegemons have been empowered to further distribute, amplify, and enforce important features of their system of organization. Theirs has rapidly become a global standard operating system influencing if not outright governing the affairs of all of humanity.

The great majority of humanity is content to live in the visible external stream of hegemonic life. Only a few people are even searching for another stream - driven by a feeling that we are only half alive and perhaps not even that. Despite the manifold communication tools at our ready disposal - many of us are stuck in dreadful isolation and have begun to despair of genuine and meaningful interpersonal communion. Even the way most folks come together in person under present circumstances, there is a tendency to front and to confine oneself to trivial and external exchanges - or formal and ritual exchanges. Oftentimes, we depart one another's company even lonelier and less fulfilled than before we'd come together.

Last week I wrote at Spence's joint about an experience I had the friday before Christmas. This experience confirmed for me the ready existence and availability of a second stream of human life present and available in the lives of everyday people, if only you are motivated to seek and choose this alternative for yourself.

It was my privilege to meet an elder who founded just such a creative stream in Kansas City.
anyway, in the afternoon, they had a christmas party where I met the brother who originally founded the consultancy. we talked for a while and he described to me the apprenticeship model he implemented beginning in the late 1950’s to make 4-6 young Black engineers. (this brother was the first Black engineering graduate from the University of Nebraska - if I remember correctly)

In the room were three generations of civil and mechanical engineers who were all brought up and brought together by this one old cat - simply because he could. The continuity of working for the work had produced this large thriving extended “family” as it were of folks who in turn, “work for the work”.
The alternative picture of reality given by the activity of these people comprises a potential second stream of human life on the earth. I believe that communities of such people have formed over the years for mutual support and collaboration. Exactly such a formation occurred decades earlier during the 20th century. Many other people have seen this picture at different times and places. Since they couldn't directly communicate the picture to the majority of others, they all contributed to creating a situation where it could be communicated and transmitted across generations within the community.

These people used their understanding of the situation to make adjustments and create work oriented cultures that study and practice the arts. While humanity became increasingly enmeshed in the causal stream which thanks to technology and applied psychology has grown to planetary hurricane strength during the 20th century, such small communities and cultures of competency provided sanctuary in the encompassing storm. Each time the stream has broken out previously, it has centered its activities around the arts. Each time, it has been co-opted and assimilated by the hegemon. I have concluded that by themselves, the arts are insufficient to the cause of nucleating a persistent, autonomous, and self-sustaining alternative to dopamine hegemony.

Exploration of the hegemonic governance space has been primary to me for as long as I've been online. As I see it, traditional governance is about the establishment and maintenance of control and distribution barriers. Riffing on McKenna, race in America is a social construct with a definite history and governance application. I find numerous striking parallels between that history and application, the challenge of computational governance, and, the emerging challenge of genomic governance;

One of the perennial hallmarks of Black cultural genius in America is our knack for surmounting control and distribution barriers. Personally, I've never encountered a control or distribution barrier that couldn't be hacked...., it's precisely because of this fact that I place primary emphasis on science and technology as the object of any creative collaborations with which I'm involved.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Hegemonic Symbolism?

Stanley Kubrick had an unparalleled command of the liminal ouevre. My wife first introduced me to this dimension of Kubrick's films years ago by directing my attention to the orange and blue color manipulations in The Shining.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Five Minute Primer on Dopamine Hegemony

Video - Century of the Self Pt One

Business responded to people's innermost desires in a way that politicians never could do.

It was a form of democracy that depended on treating people not as active citizens, as Roosevelt did, but as passive consumers,

because this, as Bernays believed, was the key to control in a mass democracy.

It's not that the people are in charge, but that the people's desires are in charge.

The people are not in charge, the people exercise no decision making power in this environment.

So democracy is reduced from active citizenry to the idea of the public as passive consumers driven primarily by unconscious desires.

If you can in fact trigger those desires, you can get what you want from them.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Propaganda in America - History of Public Relations

Quoth Bro. Makheru;
I have a solution for Black Manhood Under Duress—a complete mental rupture from American propaganda and materialism, the “production of desire.”

Only the strong survived the original Middle Passage. Only the strongest will survive the Second Middle Passage.
Which brings us full-round to the kwestin of what precisely defines true strength at the end of this era, and, what must we do in order to forge a reg-i-men of true psychological strength suited to the challenges of the day?

Propaganda in America - Meet Edward Bernays

Propaganda in America - The Art of PR Spin

Propaganda in America - Hitler's Ideological Beast
Propaganda in America - Business vs Politicians
Propaganda in America - The Enemy Within

To many in both politics and business, the triumph of the self is the ultimate expression of democracy, where power has finally moved to the people. Certainly the people may feel they are in charge, but are they really? The Century of the Self tells the untold and sometimes controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society in Britain and the United States. How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests?

The Freud dynasty is at the heart of this compelling social history. Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis; Edward Bernays, who invented public relations; Anna Freud, Sigmund's devoted daughter; and present-day PR guru and Sigmund's great grandson, Matthew Freud.

Sigmund Freud's work into the bubbling and murky world of the subconscious changed the world. By introducing a technique to probe the unconscious mind, Freud provided useful tools for understanding the secret desires of the masses. Unwittingly, his work served as the precursor to a world full of political spin doctors, marketing moguls, and society's belief that the pursuit of satisfaction and happiness is man's ultimate goal.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Electric Universe

The Electric Universe model is a coherent "Big Picture" of our situation in the universe, spanning many disciplines. It highlights repeated electrical patterns at all scales that enable laboratory experiments to explain the strange, energetic events seen, for example, in deep space, on the Sun, and on Jupiter's moon, Io. The Electric Universe works backward in time using observations rather than forward from some idealised theoretical beginning. It provides simple answers to problems that are now clothed in fashionable metaphysics and mysticism. It is more interdisciplinary and inclusive of information than any prior cosmology. It points to practical possibilities far beyond the limits set by current science.

The Electric Universe model grew out of a broad interdisciplinary approach to science. It is not a technique taught in universities. The Electric Universe is based more on observations and experiment than abstract theory. It recognizes connections between diverse disciplines. It concludes that the crucial requirement for understanding the universe is to take fully into account the basic electrical nature of atoms and their interactions. Strangely, this is not the case in conventional cosmology where weaker magnetism and the infinitely weaker force of gravity rule the cosmos. Such a simplification may suit a theoretical physics based on electrical neutrality of matter in Earthly laboratories but it does not apply in space where plasma dominates.

Enjoy the picture of the day.

Move It or Lose It...,

Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, p.368

The muscular patterns which govern posture are deeply interwoven with the emotional and psychological patterns which govern personality and behavior.

The freedom to act effectively and the ability to choose rationally are directly related to the ability to move one's body without the intrusion of habitual, "parasitic" tensions. One of the easiest ways and most reliable ways of communicating with the subconscious is through movement;
Research now shows that your brain is teeming with body maps—maps of your body's surface, its musculature, its intentions, its potential for action, even a map that automatically tracks and emulates the actions and intentions of other people around you.

These body-centered maps are profoundly plastic—capable of significant reorganization in response to damage, experience, or practice. Formed early in life, they mature with experience and then continue to change, albeit less rapidly, for the rest of your life. Yet despite how central these body maps are to your being, you are only glancingly aware of your own embodiment most of the time, let alone the fact that its parameters are constantly changing and adapting, minute by minute and year after year. You may not truly appreciate the immense amount of work that goes on behind the scenes of your conscious mind that makes the experience of embodiment seem so natural. The constant activity of your body maps is so seamless, so automatic, so fluid and ingrained, that you don't even recognize it is happening, much less that it poses an absorbing scientific puzzle that is spawning fascinating insights into human nature, health, learning, our evolutionary past and our cybernetically enhanced future.
Authors Investigate the Body's 'Mind of Its Own' (Nice NPR interview)

In the subconscious is stored the data necessary for engendering in us the “Divine impulse of genuine objective conscience.” What must we do to ensure that our subconscious participates more fully and positively in our everyday life?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Digital Text for Jes Grew....,

Jes Grew is the outbreak of jazz, ragtime, and blues onto the world scene. Jes Grew is a psychic epidemic; it is the spirit of Blackness overtaking America and the world in the 1920's. It is a plague, or rather an anti-plague, which enlivens its victims into dancing, swinging, singing and talking crazy. Jes Grew was a liturgy without a text.

"If it could not find its Text, then it would be mistaken for entertainment."

Continuing from the prior installment on the power of cultural production and barriers to the independent and autonomous exercise of the same - my aim here is to convey what I see as a potential solution path directly through these barriers. The goal is to nucleate independent, autonomous, unstoppable and evolutionary cellular embodiments in which local enclaves of Black cultural genius can Work, get paid, and shape the future.

As I mentioned in my first installment, Jappa's lessons on the comics publishing industry opened my eyes to quite a lot. What's true in the comics industry is true on a larger scale in the music industry. (by extension into the entire realm of cultural production) Unlike comics however - HipHop is a topic at the forefront of popular consciousness. As one of millions of consumer/observers of the rise and fall of HipHop - like many others I have participated in countless discussions with dozens and dozens of folks over the years representing all ends of the spectrum of cultural discourse on this subject.

Everybody has cultural theories and opinions, but very, very few folks had recourse to the facts, insider knowledge, and subject matter expertise to take us out of the theoretical realm and into the specific material issues underscoring what went wrong. Countless articles, books, and even careers have been made off of the dubious business of peddling theories, and a whole useless canon of popular psuedo-scholarly nonsense has been spawned in the wake of this cultural preoccupation.

Thankfully, that's all changed. Norman Kelley summarized the paradoxical political economic context in which Black cultural production occurs and Michael Fisher gave the first person witness - sufficient as far as I'm concerned - for any interested party to fact check, dot connect, and close the case on the material specifics of the rise and fall of HipHop. We now know exactly what went wrong.

Long before Kelley and Fisher broke down this recent tragic subversion - one of our great undersung prophets laid out the entire overarching framework in which this Black boom bust cycle has repeated itself in America. In his autodidactic mashup Mumbo Jumbo, Ishmael Reed delineated the exact nature of Black cultural genius and simultaneously pointed out that because our genius has not yet achieved an enduring and institutionalized embodiment under our control;
Jes Grew is a liturgy without a text.

"If it could not find its Text, then

it would be mistaken for entertainment
The creative and improvisational genius of two turn tables and a microphone proliferated far and wide. But two turntables and a microphone without control of publishing and distribution has;

come and gone,

been mistaken for mere entertainment,

and far far worse this time.

All because somebody else owned and controlled the text...,

Somebody else converted our liturgy into their textual BANK....,

Not only was HipHop appropriated and profited from like never before, but for the first time ever - the spirit of the thing was extracted and its form was corrupted and this corrupted shell was weaponized and turned back upon us with devastating effect.

Now ain't that some shit?

Open source is a set of principles and practices that promote access to the design and production of goods and knowledge.
Informing and inspiring the open source movement are the African call-and-response traditions, Jazz and the free dance movements which emerged in the 20th Century. Late 20th Century open source strategies include Fluxus, web jams, Wigglism and the international Hip Hop culture. The rise of open-source culture in the 20th century resulted from a growing tension between creative practices that involve appropriation, and therefore require access to content that is often copyrighted, and increasingly restrictive intellectual property laws and policies governing access to copyrighted content.
The open source movement acknowledges its cultural indebtedness to Blackness. The question now is whether folks involved with Black cultural production can expeditiously and systematically close this feedback loop by embracing the tools, ethos, and techniques embodied in the open source movement. And using these begin to produce and control some of the material deliverables that our genius combined with these methods have the capacity to yield.

Let me be clear. I'm not suggesting that folks turn on a dime and attempt to take the tech industry by storm. That's not our current sweet spot and it's not gonna happen. Rather, what I'm saying is that open source tools and techniques comprise low-hanging fruit - a means freely available to us - with which we can leverage our dominant strength in the area of creative cultural production. Cause our community has more young aspiring musicians, singers, dancers, rappers, writers, artists, animators, interviewers, journalists, cinematographers, recording engineers, salesmen, programmers, etc...., than I can shake a stick at.

My esteemed elder and mentor, the founder and chairman of the Dubois Learning Center, Mr. Leon Dixon has written persuasively about the necessity of precisely such a movement.

Notwithstanding his heroic accomplishments locally - embodying, sustaining, and institutionalizing this vision here at the DLC - Dixon's model for giving Jes Grew an enduring digital embodiment has not yet been adopted, endorsed, or implemented by his peers - most of whom are still mired in 1970's era means and themes. This of course doesn't stop us from doing what we do here locally. It does, however, confine the scope of this unique and truly exceptional elders vision to this locality.

Knowing what went wrong, we're now confronted with the necessity of taking matters into our own hands to ensure that that doesn't happen again. Some very fundamental things have changed since the rise and fall of HipHop.
Congo Square Interlude - New technologies give rise to new infrastructures that can be developed and taken advantage of in the acculturation of today’s youth. And like the participants of Congo Square of old used what they had to address their needs, we have a similar challenge confronting us today. The Learning Center’s Telehub Network is an example of using today’s technology, drawing upon cultural patterns and traditions inherent in our urban cores, to develop such an infrastructure.
One way of achieving the goal of making the fixations of cultural work generally available is to maximally utilize technology and digital media. As predicted by Moore's law, the cost of digital media and storage plummeted in the late 20th Century. Consequently, the marginal cost of digitally duplicating anything capable of being transmitted via digital media dropped to near zero.

So we're presented with some challenges and a singularly large opportunity.

1. Engage kids around the collaborative theme of creative cultural production

2. Provide kids with skilled adult guidance and training

3. Provide them with tools they can use at the Learning Center, at home, in the library, at school - wherever computing resources of varying quality, accessibility and capability can be found.

4. Maintain a level playing field across the group so that everybody is working from the same tool set.

5. Ensure that the toolset is powerful enough to genuinely serve their creativity

6. Do all of the above without a budget.

Open source and cheap thumbdrives came to the rescue. (for the price of a CD and jewel case and cheap 2 Gig thumb drive, every kid got his own portable bootable toolset and data storage) and I mean that. Boot the operating system of a CD anywhere, load up the applications, do your work, and save your work to the thumbdrive.

but that's just the beginning...,

The opensource CMS we use to power our websites runs on an open source relational database
on an opensource operating system and is presented to the web via an open source webserver....,

and then it got better because one of the younglings came upon this gem,

and so the process fed back on itself with an evolutionary quickness and got even better...,

An evolutionary process involving little more than the effort, attention, and creativity of kids, empowered by freely available tools and technology was now underway in earnest. Very little money required to put it into motion, and a high level of enthusiastic participation, because what kid doesn't like to express him/herself?


The learning center has 80 volunteer instructors in reading, writing, math, science and technology. Its curricular subject matter expertise is unparalleled. None of those curricular riches have ever really been documented. None have been digitized. This makes it next to impossible to share the hard won knowledge capital that the center has accumulated.

Document, digitize, and web-enable DLC curriculum.

Funny what happens when adult instructors find out that a group of kids can effortlessly do stuff they themselves are struggling to do.

What? Kids should be able to teach their teachers?

Recruit and work with a larger cadre from the community outside the learning center.

Wash, rinse, repeat.....,

(oh yeah, the big hook underscoring this entire process is the goal of producing commercially viable work product - whatever the kids produce and judge to be commercially viable (think showtime at the Apollo) - we put on sale for them at the web-based e-store - so far we haven't quite achieved that goal yet, but the overall tools, methods, and embodying process comprise a still very nascent work-in-progress - something we just kind of figured out after we started teaching kids how to create their own comics.....,)

Why the Paramilitarization?

An Epidemic of "Isolated Incidents"?

"If a widespread pattern of [knock-and-announce] violations were shown . . . there would be reason for grave concern."

—Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, in Hudson v. Michigan, June 15, 2006.

An interactive map of botched SWAT and paramilitary police raids, released in conjunction with the Cato policy paper "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids," by Radley Balko.
Over the last 25 years, America has seen a disturbing militarization of its civilian law enforcement, along with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of paramilitary police units (most commonly called Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT) for routine police work. The most common use of SWAT teams today is to serve narcotics warrants, usually with forced, unannounced entry into the home.

These increasingly frequent raids, 40,000 per year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they’re sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers. These raids bring unnecessary violence and provocation to nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom were guilty of only misdemeanors. The raids terrorize innocents when police mistakenly target the wrong residence. And they have resulted in dozens of needless deaths and injuries, not only of drug offenders, but also of police officers, children, bystanders, and innocent suspects.

This paper presents a history and overview of the issue of paramilitary drug raids, provides an extensive catalogue of abuses and mistaken raids, and offers recommendations for reform.

But Cato has been on about this issue for a minute now, starting in 1999 with Warrior Cops The Ominous Growth of Paramilitarism in American Police Departments.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Persecution Society

Update: LOST
Blog by Erla Ósk Arnardóttir Lillendahl:

(English Translation: Gunnar Tómasson, Certified translator):

During the last twenty-four hours I have probably experienced the greatest humiliation to which I have ever been subjected. During these last twenty-four hours I have been handcuffed and chained, denied the chance to sleep, been without food and drink and been confined to a place without anyone knowing my whereabouts, imprisoned. Now I am beginning to try to understand all this, rest and review the events which began as innocently as possible.

First the mormon kid in Utah with his pregnant wife, then the icelandic arnar's daughter?


Better act like you know!!!!

Quoth Nana;
And for those who want to talk about the brutality of gangs coming in -"The Stranger returns what was given to them" Folks like to forget the brutal history of Latin America by the USA Military.
Cheikh Anta Diop posed the question, civilization or barbarism? I contend that this world based on the present trajectory of its dominant forces is on a collision course with barbarism. The reestablishment of Ma’at is required to bring this world back to civilization.
Bringing full circle something I posted a while ago about the Lucifer Effect, Person, Situation, or System? It is all of these persons/situations/systems - and the only way to defeat the establishment of full-on re-implementation of this very medieval strategy for harsh governance and centralized social organization is to be fully aware of its methods, history, and creeping re-instantiation. The Guardian carried a great article yesterday about the rising tide of top-down medieval barbarity now well underway;
How did our 12th-century forebears deal with all this insecurity and dramatic change? They invented a persecution society, one that systematically identified whole categories of people and then set about exterminating, subjugating or segregating them. Just as the origins of modern Europe and its global expansion can be tracked back to the momentous political and economic changes of the 12th century, so can its corollary, a state built to persecute minorities, which has intermittently characterised Europe's history ever since.
Medieval barbarity is a governance strategy.

Here's how it works from the bottom-up:

1. If an enemy knows that capture will lead to torture, then that enemy will be strongly motivated to fight to the death, and never surrender. This understanding will be reinforced if an occupying army brutalizes civilians and combatants, and will motivate more "enemies" to join the fight.

2. Torturing prisoners eliminates the humanity of the torturing agent. It makes the torturing agent utterly loyal to the government, and hardens them toward the civilian populace.

3. When the national government tortures, it opens the door to torture by local governance entities such as police and prisons. Local torture binds the local governance entity to the national governance entity, terrorizes the civilian populace and enhances governance in-group solidarity.

The powers that be have never used torture to get at truth.

Ask yourself, why exactly HAVE THEY and ARE THEY now unleashing these methods on a staggeringly large scale?

Anti-Depressants, Suicidality and Youth....,

Antidepressants increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children and adolescents with major depressive disorder (MDD) and other psychiatric disorders. Anyone considering the use of [Drug Name] or any other antidepressant in a child or adolescent must balance this risk with the clinical need. Patients who are started on therapy should be observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior. Families and caregivers should be advised of the need for close observation and communication with the prescriber. [Drug Name] is not approved for use in pediatric patients except for patients with [Any approved pediatric claims here]. (See warnings and Precautions: Pediatric Use)

Attorneys have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case of a teen sentenced to 30 years in prison for killing his grandparents when he was 12, arguing that the sentence is cruel. Christopher Pittman used a shotgun to shoot his grandparents Joe and Joy Pittman, and then set fire to their home in 2001. During his trial four years later, Pittman's attorneys unsuccessfully argued the slayings were influenced by the antidepressant Zoloft — a charge the maker of the drug vigorously denied.

Zoloft is the most widely prescribed antidepressant in the United States, with 32.7 million prescriptions written in 2003. In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration ordered Zoloft and other antidepressants to carry "black box" warnings — the government's strongest warning short of a ban — about an increased risk of suicidal behavior in children.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required the makers of all antidepressant medications to update the existing black box warning on their products' labeling to include warnings about increased risks of suicidal thinking and behavior, known as suicidality, in young adults ages 18 to 24 during initial treatment (generally the first one to two months).

Historical Information on Antidepressant Use in Children, Adolescents, and Adults is available here. Sure begs a lot of questions concerning how this information, long in the public domain, is not more widely known, covered, and sounded from the rooftops every.single.time there's another adolescent mass murderer and the underlying psycho-pharmacology of the perpetrating adolescent is known?

Monday, December 17, 2007

as a maestro might compose a musical score

Well, well, well...., seems like the WaPo finally got around to mentioning it. Interestingly, they focused a significant chunk on control and governance. Too bad that genie's out of the bottle, never to be put back into sequestration again.
"Ultimately synthetic biology means cheaper and widely accessible tools to build bioweapons, virulent pathogens and artificial organisms that could pose grave threats to people and the planet," concluded a recent report by the Ottawa-based ETC Group, one of dozens of advocacy groups that want a ban on releasing synthetic organisms pending wider societal debate and regulation.

At the core of synthetic biology's new ascendance are high-speed DNA synthesizers that can produce very long strands of genetic material from basic chemical building blocks: sugars, nitrogen-based compounds and phosphates.

Today a scientist can write a long genetic program on a computer just as a maestro might compose a musical score, then use a synthesizer to convert that digital code into actual DNA.

"The danger is not just bio-terror but bio-error," the report says.
Many scientists say the threat has been overblown. Venter notes that his synthetic genomes are spiked with special genes that make the microbes dependent on a rare nutrient not available in nature. And Pierce, of DuPont, says the company's bugs are too spoiled to survive outdoors.

"They are designed to grow in a cosseted environment with very high food levels," Pierce said. "You throw this guy out on the ground, he just can't compete. He's toast."

"We've heard that before," said Jim Thomas, ETC Group's program manager, noting that genes engineered into crops have often found their way into other plants despite assurances to the contrary. "The fact is, you can build viruses, and soon bacteria, from downloaded instructions on the Internet," Thomas said. "Where's the governance and oversight?"

Colorado Shooter on Anti-Depressants Too

Most information about Murray has become known in recent days through ranting Internet posts that appear to be the shooter’s words. One posting obtained by the AP was to a site called Independent Spirits, a gathering place for those affected by a strict Christian homeschooling curriculum.

The author, going by the handle Chrstnghtmr, described going with his mother to a conference at New Life. The poster said he “got into a debate” with two prayer team staff members, who monitored him, then tracked down his mother and “told her … I ‘wasn’t walking with the lord and could be planning violence.’” The September 2006 post includes biographical information that matches Murray’s background — including details consistent with his involvement in Youth With a Mission, which ran the training center he targeted in last weekend’s rampage.

Chrstnghtmr wrote that at age 17, after an attempt at going “all out for Jesus,” he plunged into a “dark suicidal depression” because he somehow couldn’t live up to the rules. He wrote he felt he was “failing God.” Chrstnghtmr described his parents putting him on two antidepressants after he shared his feelings.
Just half of a hot minute after telling you about the Omaha shooter being on anti-depressant drugs, here we go again. Pretty soon, you too will come to accept that where there's an otherwise inexplicable mass shooting in the U.S. - there too will you find SSRI's and quite likely Ritalin or Adderall.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

gurdjieff and peace studies: the dark side in history

From his appearance in Moscow in 1912, the Graeco-Armenian magus George Gurdjieff created a unique contribution to Peace Studies discourse, obscured by second generation interpreters and derivative movements. Gurdjieff drew upon an extensive study of early neuro-physiology, hypnosis and religious traditions to construct a perspective (dubbed "the Work" or "the Fourth Way" by participants) on self-work and cultural recovery. His 'action research' was a precursor to the current interest in the Gaia hypothesis, memetics, ethno-political conflicts and transpersonal psychology. Gurdjieff's legacy offers a re-evaluation of the cultural history of Peace Studies and how contemporary activists can fall prey to group dynamics, technophilia, excessive role-identification and other forms of "consensus trance" (Charles T. Tart). Gurdjieff's techniques, in the tradition of Plato's cave allegory, offer contemporary peace activists an "unmasking psychology" to dis-identify from external events and attitudes, even when these "norms" are part of activist discourses.

I am not interested in who wins war. Not have patriotism or big ideas about peace. Americans with ideals, kill millions of Germans. Germans kill--with own ideals--English, French, Russian, Belgian--all have ideals, all have peaceful purpose, all kill. ~~ George Gurdjieff, Paris, 1944

III - Why No War on Methamphetamine?

So, Prof. Lester Spence stopped in and made a couple quick surgical cuts helping to solve a part of the "why no war on meth" equation. In a nutshell, rural and suburban crime and criminality are not part of the narrative used to sustain support within the American consensus reality for law enforcement and the prison industrial complex.

In 2005 it was reported that 58 percent of law enforcement officials in 500 counties surveyed by the National Association of Counties cite methamphetamine as their biggest drug problem. Half in the sample said that up to 20 percent of their inmates were incarcerated because of meth-related crimes, and some segments representing small counties and areas in the upper Midwest reported as many as 75 to 100 percent of their incarcerations as meth-related.

While that survey drew on a disproportionate number of counties in the West where meth is most widely available, the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) in February 2005, published results from a larger, random sample of 3,400 drug enforcement agencies nationwide. In the NDIC survey, for the first time since they have been taking such surveys, a plurality (40 percent) considered meth their leading drug threat. Cocaine came in second at 36 percent, and marijuana at 12 percent.

No systemic incentives are proffered to the county sheriffs responsible for enforcing laws in the rural precincts of America. Though the meth epidemic has taken a horrific toll on both rural and suburban denizens, and caused an epidemic spike in crime and criminality, it just doesn't matter as much to TPTB as open-air, urban crack dealers. It's not part of the dominant narrative depended upon to manage and sustain public support for the contemporary version of the thin blue line. (which quite obviously has a mission somewhat different from traditional "protect and serve" crime prevention, detection, deterrence and maintenance of law and order for the welfare of the general citizenry);
A NEW report on drug abuse has turned an old stereotype on its head: young teenagers in rural parts of the United States are more likely to use illegal drugs than those in big cities. Data gathered by the National Centre on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) say that eighth-graders (mainly 12-to-14-year-olds) living in the country are twice as likely as their urban counterparts to have used amphetamines, including methamphetamine, in the past month.

The same bucolic adolescents are also 34% more likely to have smoked marijuana in the past month, 50% likelier to have snorted cocaine and 83% more likely to have abused crack cocaine. “It’s time for all Americans to recognise that drugs are not only an urban problem,” says Joseph Califano, CASA’s president. …
Hat tip to Submariner

Freeing America from its addiction to methamphetamine is clearly not an elite management priority. Building and maintaining an increasingly militarized urban police capability along with the most massive detention and incarceration infrastructure in the world IS an elite management priority.
Ephedrine, pseudoephedrine and methamphetamine are close molecular cousins; meth, in fact, is ephedrine minus a single oxygen atom. As a result, their effects on the body are similar. All three shrink blood vessels in the nose and dilate airways in lungs, while unleashing adrenaline that stimulates the heart. With meth, the latter effect is most pronounced. Removing the oxygen atom, it turns out, makes the molecule fit receptor cells in the human brain "like a key in the lock," said Paul Doering, a professor of pharmacy at the University of Florida.
The Oregonian published an article three years ago called Shelved Solutions giving the pharmaceutical industry angle on the story - and while it's a certainly a necessary part of the puzzle as it relates to home cooking methamphetamine, it sheds almost no light on the domestic meta-economic traffic and the vast toll which increasing demand, crime, and criminality is taking on rural and suburban population groupings. Thinking and dot-connecting sufficient to encompass all of what is transpiring in the U.S. on this front would fall much more along these lines. I just raise the questions evident out the corner of your eye. I leave it to you to connect the liminal dots and bring the fuzzy picture more clearly into focus.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

II - Why No War on Methamphetamine?

Richard Dawkins studies an American infected by an extreme case of methamphetamine addiction and sundry related syndromes:

Dawkins "was almost reminded of the Neuremburg rally. Dr. Goebbels would have been proud"! Doubtless....,
One of the earliest uses of methamphetamine was during World War II when the German military dispensed it under the trade name Pervitin. It was widely distributed across rank and division, from elite forces to tank crews and aircraft personnel. Chocolates dosed with methamphetamine were known as Fliegerschokolade ("flyer's chocolate") when given to pilots, or Panzerschokolade ("tanker's chocolate") when given to tank crews. From 1942 until his death in 1945, Adolf Hitler was given daily intravenous injections of methamphetamine by his personal physician, Theodor Morell as a treatment for depression and fatigue. It is possible that it was used to treat Hitler's speculated Parkinson's disease, or that his Parkinson-like symptoms which developed from 1940 onwards were related to abuse of methamphetamine.
Epidemiology of methamphetamine abuse - In the US methamphetamine use is the highest in Native Hawaiians and Pasific islanders (2.2%) and Native Americans (1.7%), lower among whites (0.7%) and Hispanics (0.5%), and much lower in Asians (0.2%) and blacks (0.1%). According to one study in large cities, 13% of men having sex with men used methamphetamine in the previous 6 months.

The faces of meth:

Just nine factories worldwide manufacture ephedrine and pseudoephedrine in bulk: one each in Germany and the Czech Republic, two in China, and five in India. Because drug traffickers' super labs require large amounts of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, cartels are reliant on these international sources for their supply. The spread of meth can only be halted if the chemicals ephedrine and psuedoephedrine can be regulated at their international sources and if countries are required to only import enough of the chemicals to satisfy legitimate national demand for pseudoephedrine-containing cold and cough remedies.

So why no successful interdiction of the wholesale supply and curtailment of this obviously very serious blight on American consensus reality?

I - Why No War on Methamphetamine?

Why was the methamphetamine epidemic allowed to happen?

Methamphetamine abuse effects law enforcement, health, substance abuse providers, social services, jails and prisons and environmental and housing agencies at all levels of government. According to the National Association of County Officials, meth is the number one drug problem and crime source in the U.S..

Serious health and appearance problems are caused by unsterilized needles, lack of hygiene, the chemistry of methamphetamine (particularly when smoked), and especially pollutants in street-grade methamphetamine. The use of methamphetamine may lead to hypertension, damage to heart valves, vastly deteriorated dental health, and increased risk of strokes. Obsessive skin-picking by chronic methamphetamine users may lead to abscesses.

The Combat Methamphetamine Act went into effect last year and the first arrest under the act was made early this year. But minimal effort has been levied at the federal level to control Meth at the source - and this is all the more puzzling because the precursor chemicals, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine come from only 9 factories in the world. The DEA was aware of the dangers of this type of drug as early as 1980 when federal controls were put on phenyl-2-propanone, the key chemical needed to make amphetamine. In the mid-80s Gene Haislip, the DEA's number three man at the time, decided to go after the chemicals needed to make methamphetamine -- ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. But Haislip's solution was never fully tried because of opposition from the pharmaceutical companies who made cough and cold remedies containing the chemicals and didn't want regulation.

Methamphetamine is a powerful, addictive synthetic stimulant that causes the brain to release a surge of dopamine, creating a high that lasts from six to 24 hours. Like cocaine, meth comes in two forms: powder or rock. The powder form is usually white, odorless and bitter-tasting and can be snorted, smoked, eaten, dissolved in a drink and ingested, or heated and injected. The purer form of the drug, called "crystal," "glass" and "ice," appears as clear, chunky crystals that are usually smoked or injected. Meth can also come in small, colored tablets, but they are less common.

Methamphetamine causes the body to release large amounts of dopamine, a neurotransmitter, resulting in a prolonged sense of pleasure or euphoria for the user; however, over time, this causes severe side effects. With repeated use, meth depletes the brain's stores of dopamine and actually destroys the wiring of the dopamine receptors. This is a major reason why users become so addicted to the drug; without it they are no longer able to experience pleasure (a condition known as anhedonia), and they usually slip into a deep depression. Although dopamine receptors can grow back over time, studies have suggested that chronic meth use can cause other permanent brain damage, such as declines in reasoning, judgment and motor skills.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Put on Ritalin and Prozac starting at the age of 5?????

I told you it was the drugs!!!

Where was the Supernanny or some parentally involved adult with even the most rudimentary parenting skills? Talk about parental licensure???

Sorry, but with that degree of parentally and institutionally imposed pharmaceutical child abuse - Robert Hawkins never even had a chance.

Click the image or the post title to hear this inexcusable tale of woe.....,

Human Essentialist Cognitive Activism

Since the subject of human essentialism was questioned here rather recently, I thought I might point you in the direction of a good on-topic point of entry into a treatment of the subject that I hold in the highest regard. The ongoing debates in which I've gotten embroiled increasingly demand that I stipulate some or another political stance. Unfortunately, interpersonal communion and emergence are difficult stances to articulate. Still fuzzier and less accessible when articulated in terms of Gurdjieffian group work. Suffice it to say that I sincerely take at face value that the word ‘conscious’ means ‘knowing together’ and that the realization to whatever degree of the potential of people ‘thinking together’ is revolutionary. I recommend visiting, visiting, and revisiting this entire site. It is a truly exceptional ergodic text.

We can together reMember a game of unity and mutual uplift our anscestors were adept with, and games of this nature will entirely change what we believe about what it means to be human — because what we believe is grossly misfounded, and our intelligence has potentials we’ve never seen examples of.

There is a garden of stories we can share...which rapidly unlock learning potentials barely dreamt of in our religions and most imaginative fictions... by changing how we interact with a feature of representational experience.

For thousands of years our ancestors were attempting to piece together a way to speak about a living riddle which they had constant and direct experience of. This riddle had to do with the source of Knowledge. and the meaning of Light, Darkness, Life and Death.

Each of our cultures and their children of science, philosophy or religion express a different version as well as a modernized token of their essential experience and understanding — but there are ways of integrating the toys they left us that lead to a startling experience:

Direct contact with what they were making stories about.

If we can merely agree, we can play an ancient riddle-solving game together...

that transforms into game of impossible rescue...

...and that’s only the beginning...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

More BioArt - Kittens

On monday I put up a blurb about bioart and the GFP bunny rabbit.

Today I spied with my little eye these truly kewl looking little OFP (orange flourescent protein) kittens.
Manufactured in Seoul Korea. photo released in Seoul by the Ministry of Science and Technology shows a combo of cloned cats that have a fluorescence protein gene and glowing under ultraviolet beams. The technology could help develop treatments for human genetic diseases, the developers said.
I'm thinking psychedelic birthday present myself....,

So you brade-runnah?

Laws Requiring Parental Licensure?

and it all sounds so reasonable, sweet, and perfectly innocent;
I believe that, during my grandchildren's lifetimes, the U.S. Supreme Court will find a way to approve laws requiring parental licensure.

Traditional societies in which children are socialized collectively, the method to which our species is evolutionarily adapted, have very little crime. In the modern U.S., the proportion of fatherless children, living with unmarried mothers, currently some 10 million in all, has increased more than 400% since 1960 while the violent crime rate rose 500% by 1994, before dipping slightly due to a delayed but equal increase in the number of prison inmates (from 240,000 to 1.4 million.) In 1990, across the 50 States, the correlation between the violent crime rate and the proportion of illegitimate births was 0.70.

About 70% of incarcerated delinquents, of teen-age pregnancies, of adolescent runaways, involve (I think result from) fatherless rearing. Because these frightening curves continue to accelerate, I believe we must eventually confront the need for parental licensure — you can't keep that newborn unless you are 21, married and self-supporting — not just for society's safety but so those babies will have a chance for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Behavioral geneticist and Emeritus Professor of Psychology, University of Minnesota; Author, Happiness

Political Dot Connecting at Foreign Dispatches

A cautionary note to gung ho Black conservatives; ignorance of history is no excuse!

The world wide web serves as a nearly miraculous lens of bicameral information interchange. While it is certainly the case that the TEP has ready access to highly granular detail about each and every individual accessing the net - the vice is surely versa. As a democratizing force, the web has afforded the masses with the means to observe, correlate, and communicate otherwise disparate strands of governance activity. While it watches us - those of us who are interested - are empowered as at no other time in history to watch and understand it.

In a pair of posts this week, Abiola Lapite has begun to reduce to its essence two of the key ingredients in the fascistic governance stew. These posts nicely summarize much of why I believe the resurgence of eugenic pot boiling in the public sphere should be a cause for serious public concern. From where I sit, he points out why it is a jarringly and stunningly discordant thing to read fascistic political pronouncements coming from even nominally Black-identified folk. Please make a point of reading them both.

The Genetic Seduction:
Although I didn't mention it in my recent post on a certain A. Hitler, one of the reasons why I've been investigating the man's career is because it's long been clear to me that there is a direct line connecting the pseudoscience "justifying" Hitler's brutality and the pseudoscience being flogged in our day under the rubric of "genetics": not only can one trace the continuity of certain ideas over the decades, but often one finds that the actual institutions pushing these ideas, and even the very individuals who man them, are directly connected on an intimate level. To put it plainly, a lot of the hype being generated about genes "for" homosexuality, IQ or this, that and the other today is the handiwork of people who have been mentored or sponsored by actual honest-to-goodness Nazis, war criminals many of whom escaped justice only because they were shrewd enough to burn the evidence of their crimes when they saw the writing on the wall. The one time practitioners of "eugenics" and "racial hygiene" are the forefathers of today's "race realists" and self-styled advocates of "human biodiversity."

Making Sense of a Madman:
That a long-oppressed minority should be attracted to an ideology which promises to radically break with the past and usher in an age of total equality is no more surprising when the oppressed are European Jews than it is when they are black American or African intellectuals, very many of whom have been drawn to communism from Paul Robeson and W.E. DuBois through far too many 1960s African leaders to name right down to the ANC leadership today; nor would a rational and unprejudiced mind leap from the finding that Jews were overrepresented in the leadership of communist revolutions to the conclusion that all or even most Jews look favorably on communism, just as it is only the bigots who seize upon the fact that black Americans are convicted of more crimes than their white fellow citizens as "proof" that "blacks" as a whole are criminals by nature. Seizing upon some group or other's "disproportionate" participation in some unfavorable activity or other as "evidence" of an innate malevolence is deeply irrational unless one can establish that this evil activity is driven by the core beliefs of said group
That there are common denominators in the background of conservative politicking in America should come as no surprise to anyone paying attention. Sadly, a lot of gung ho Black conservatives don't or won't......,

Deep Cover Brother Weighs in on the IQ Debate....,

Malcolm Gladwell writing in the New Yorker about the Flynn Effect.

None of the Above - What I.Q. doesn’t tell you about race.
“The mind is much more like a muscle than we’ve ever realized,” Flynn said. “It needs to get cognitive exercise. It’s not some piece of clay on which you put an indelible mark.” The lesson to be drawn from black and white differences was the same as the lesson from the Netherlands years ago: I.Q. measures not just the quality of a person’s mind but the quality of the world that person lives in.
Streaming Realvideo of James Flynn debating Charles Murray two weeks ago at the Manhattan Institute. Flynn is on first. He was recently named scientist of the year by the International Society of Intelligence Research.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

CNu vs UCBM - Grueling Dueling II

In the prior installment, I asked the following kwestins;
I know from our exchanges that you have a racially tinged interest in crime and criminality. Have you included in your crime category, kidnapping people, murdering them, raping them, and making them labor for you without compensation - a pretty good description of the American economic system for 300 years? Any chance that this crime and criminality could have had an adverse effect on Black folks heritable position and status within the American social hierarchy?
Having laid to rest the genetic and psychometric pseudo-science, which are crushingly persuasive on their own, I reread Stephen Metcalf's devastating disavowal of William Saletan with my own endgame as against Mill's anti-egalitarian position in mind. From where I sit, all that's left that's worth knowing is the relevant history, sociology, morality and personal experiences framing our respective world views. Why do you believe and profess as you do David? Here's the logical nougat of my own political arguments against American-style eugenic polemicization a la Metcalf;
the APA (American Psychological Association) task force lays out—finally!—the real heart of the conflict. To understand what is really being fought over when we fight over the IQ gap between blacks and whites, its authors explain, you must think through an analogy. Imagine two wheat fields. Now imagine two genetically identical sets of seeds. (The analogy was first made famous by the Harvard evolutionary biologist and geneticist Richard Lewontin.) Now imagine each field is planted with these two identical seed stocks. Field No. 1 is given the best possible inputs: sunshine intensity, rain, soil nitrates, etc. Field No. 2 is given much less of all of the above. Within each field, inputs are kept uniform. Inevitably, the first field grows a healthier supply of grain than the second. But here is the rub: Within each field, the variation in outcomes is entirely hereditary. Between the two fields, the variation in outcomes in entirely environmental.

The APA task force reduces the question of the IQ test score gap to a single set of questions. As they list them:

Are the environmental and cultural situations of American Blacks and Whites also substantially and consistently different—different enough to make this a good analogy? If so, the within-group heritability of IQ scores is irrelevant to the issue. Or are those situations similar enough to suggest that the analogy is inappropriate, and that one can plausibly generalize from within-group heritabilities? Thus the issue ultimately comes down to personal judgment: How different are the relevant life experiences of Whites and Blacks in the United States today?

To the APA's superb list, I would add some related queries. Does it feel as though researchers like Jensen and Rushton, the so-called "race realists," have spent their careers examining a range of competing hypotheses for the black-white IQ gap, and carefully scrutinizing the quality of the research at their disposal? Or have they been attempting, at all costs, to prove a single hypothesis—that blacks are congenitally dumber than whites? Shouldn't researchers on any highly charged subject be required to show a minimum of clean hands? Why is it that every researcher I can find who supports the heredity-only thesis takes money from the Pioneer Fund? Would you ever take money from the Pioneer Fund? Under any circumstances?

In the absence of some startling new evidence, the crux of the issue turns out to be this: Do you believe the legacy of American racism, in all its complexity, can explain depressed black IQ scores, even when controlling for all other factors, including socioeconomic status? Is the black experience, in other words, so unique as to constitute, for nearly all black Americans, a separate wheat field? If you say yes, then good news: You believe (along with the most prominent environmentalists) that the black-white IQ gap will close in the next 50 or so years. If you think no, then bad news: You believe, with the most prominent hereditarians, that blacks as a group must resign themselves to higher rates of poverty, unemployment, divorce, and violent criminality purely as a matter of genetic fate.
And that ladies and gentlemen, from my humble perspective, is what this is all about. So David Mills, I'ma axe you one more time again - but this time echoing the sentiments of your commenter Bay Radical;
what on earth would ever make even an undercover Black man say that there are racial inequalities in our society because the beneficiaries of these inequalities (white people) are, in general "smarter" than those who get the short end of things (for the most part people of color, but also women, and poor people of all ethnicities and genders)?
and my brother Submariner;
What Mills hasn't explained to my (and Bay Radical's) satisfaction is other than a constitutional right to 'free speech' why is this subject worth his serious consideration? What is his endpoint? To use a spades analogy, I'm willing to let his little joker walk. What's next?
we're all still waiting with baited breath to hear you out.....,