Archive for December 8th, 2010
Glenn Greenwald has been working around the clock to shed meaningful light on the media claims, many of them lies, regarding Wikileaks. Here’s Greenwald’s comment on the biggest and most common lie one hears these days:
Anyone listening to most media accounts would believe that WikiLeaks has indiscriminately published all 250,000 of the diplomatic cables it possesses, and Gitlin — in the course of denouncing Julian Assange — bolsters this falsehood: “Wikileaks’s huge data dump, including the names of agents and recent diplomatic cables, is indiscriminate” and Assange is “fighting for a world of total transparency.” The reality is the exact opposite — literally — of what Gitlin told TNR readers. WikiLeaks has posted to its website only 960 of the 251,297 diplomatic cables it has. Almost every one of these cables was first published by one of its newspaper partners which are disclosing them
Greenwald also exposes a corrupt frame being pushed by the media – that Wikileaks is perpetrating a massive injustice. This has it upside-down, according to Greenwald:
To recap “Obama justice”: if you create an illegal worldwide torture regime, illegally spy on Americans without warrants, abduct people with no legal authority, or invade and destroy another country based on false claims, then you are fully protected. But if you expose any of the evils secretly perpetrated as part of those lawless actions — by publishing the truth about what was done — then you are an Evil Criminal who deserves the harshest possible prosecution.
What are the government attacks on Wikileaks really about? Greenwald argues that these attacks on WikiLeaks constitute “a literal war over who controls the Internet and the purposes to which it can be used.” Western governments have made it clear that citizens cannot freely band together to launch honest and blistering criticism against their government. Without even being accused of any crime, western governments, led by the United States, have used extra-judicial means to take Wikipedia off the Internet. And see here. You can sense the government end game in your bones: The Internet will be for sports and entertainment, not for free-wheeling citizen journalism. In short, the U.S. government will use its massive power to make sure that the Internet becomes just like most newspapers and radio and television stations. Don’t you dare tell citizens that we are pumping out an unrelenting stream of lies! Don’t you dare tell them that we are killing twice twice as many civilians as we are admitting! Don’t tell them that we are spilling blood and treasure to prop up corrupt leaders. Go back to your sports events, soap operas and so-called reality shows!
Greenwald also points out the hypocrisy of the mainstream media:
Journalists cheering for the prosecution of Assange are laying the foundation for the criminalization of their own profession, or at least of the few who actually do investigative journalism. There is simply no coherent way to argue that what WikiLeaks did with these cables is criminal, but what the NYT, the Guardian and other papers did is not.
In conclusion, Greenwald mentions that the U.S. Department of State is purportedly preparing to celebrates “World Press Freedom Day.
I spent an hour this evening fixing an appliance that I bought at a yard sale many years ago for a coin. Not only that, but I solely and regularly use this appliance for my daily work. You may wonder, how do I use a potpourri crock pot for work? As the heater part of a small double boiler for an etchant that can eat through glass or titanium, of course.
And what can go wrong with a crock pot? Well, this one has been dropped a couple of times. But the crack was dealt with well enough some years ago by a liberal application of Acrylic monomer (Super Glue).
So what was wrong now? The crack had weakened the heating element (the hair-thin Ni-chrome filament) and it finally burned through.
So I took the thing apart and spliced in a bit of brass wire that I had lying around. That delicate job turned out to be the easy part, given strong magnifying goggles, tiny tools, and decades of fix-it experience.
But these diabolical inexpensive units are designed to not-be reassembled. They had actually added an extra part to the design to make reassembly impossible. It took me over a half hour to outwit the designers and get the base re-attached in a manner that would let me take it apart again in the future.
For a dozen tax-deductible dollars I can have a new one delivered to my house via eBay. Why do I regularly chose to repair disposable appliances?
My parents both went through economic times much worse than the U.S. Depression, each losing nearly everything but their lives. They raised me with essential parsimony. Not actual deprivation, mind you. Just a frugal mindset that pervades my being.
But now I have predictable (if meager) income, and no debt. I have money in the bank, and could afford nice things. But it just feels wasteful to throw away something that I can fix. I mentioned this in “How Does a Microwave Work?”
Things I no longer need may end up on eBay. I usually net less than minimum wage for my time on most of these sales. But the widget/parts/book gets a new life with someone who really wants it, and the post office makes some money.
Yet I regularly ask myself, “Is it worth it?”
In the movie Philadelphia, Denzel Washington plays a savvy courtroom litigator whose catch-phrase in front of a jury is “Explain it to me like I’m eight-years-old.” It’s a great line and maybe I’m looking for that kind of clarity now.
I really don’t know what to make of this. Obama—who won election with a very solid majority of the popular vote and a most impressive majority of the electoral—has managed to be reasonable to the point of impotence. He’s on the verge of validating every cliche about spineless intellectuals. The man is smart, erudite, has charisma, and can’t seem to say no to the Right. It is possible that this is another one of those situations where we the people simply don’t know what’s going on and cannot therefore grasp the tactics or strategy. Maybe this is cleverness at such a level that it looks clumsy and gutless.
I don’t believe that for a second, though. (The only thing that makes any kind of sense in that vein is the idea that he is handing the GOP more and more rope with which to hang themselves. The problem with that is any rope, in order to work in an execution, has to be tied to something substantial on one end.)
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Marcel Dicke is a Dutch insect agricultural specialist. At TED, he made a strong case they need to switch our diets from eating mammals to eating insects.
By insects, Dicke is referring to critters with six legs, of which there are 6 million species. 80% of the people of the world currently eat insects (relatively wealthy Western countries being the exception to the rule), and they pick and choose from as many as 1000 species of insects. Dicke referred to fine restaurants in China that allow customers to pick and choose from the bugs they want to eat (I once went to one of these restaurants Guangzhou).
Dicke makes a wide variety of impressive arguments. For instance, we should not get grossed out about eating insects because we already eat lots of insects. On average, each of us already eats 500 g of insects per year–they are ground-up and made part of our peanut butter, tomato soup and other processed foods. Many food dyes are made of insects. There are also pragmatic reasons for switching over to insects. For instance, the Earth’s population is rapidly growing, and it is predicted that we will need 70% more food in coming decades, yet there does not seem to be any way to obtain this increase relying on traditional sources of protein. Meat is expensive to produce and, on average, each person on the planet eats 80 kg of meat per year (that’s 120 kg per year in the United States). 70% of our land is already used for producing livestock. We have no more land to use for raising food, unless we are willing to destroy even more of our precious dwindling rain forests, and this would give us only an incremental increase in production. The main reason that we should eat insects is that “we will have to.” We are already making the move to insect food. Dicke notes that we are increasingly finding insect food products even in developed Western countries.
Insects do not present the danger of recombinant viruses that mammals do. Insects are amazingly efficient at converting food into protein (10 kg of food can be turned at 9 kg of locusts). Further, insects produce far less greenhouse gases and far less waste in general then mammalian livestock. Dicke argues that insects also provide excellent nutrition, and they can be made into a wide variety of foods– they can be ground into an innocuous looking meal that provides excellent protein. He argues that we already eat a delicacy much like insects when we each shrimp. “The locust is a shrimp of the land.” And insects taste good. Many people currently eat insects because they prefer to eat insects.
And check out the specialty foods and pastries that Dicke presents to the audience toward the end of the presentation.