Archive for December 10th, 2010

Stumbling around tonight

| December 10, 2010 | 1 Reply
Stumbling around tonight

I took a few moments to Stumble around tonight (at Stumbleupon.com). I found a most unusual bedroom. And then this delightful worksheet on Fibonacci numbers. I learned a lot about stress over at Psychology Today. It’s “worse than you think.”

The experience of stress in the past magnifies your reactivity to stress in the future. So take a nice deep breath and find a stress-stopping routine this instant. . . . We may respond to stress as we do an allergy. That is, we can become sensitized, or acutely sensitive, to stress. Once that happens, even the merest intimation of stress can trigger a cascade of chemical reactions in brain and body that assault us from within. Stress is the psychological equivalent of ragweed. Once the body becomes sensitized to pollen or ragweed, it takes only the slightest bloom in spring or fall to set off the biochemical alarm that results in runny noses, watery eyes, and the general misery of hay fever. But while only some of us are genetically programed to be plagued with hay fever, all of us have the capacity to become sensitized to stress.

How does one best relief stress? Here are several tried and true ways.

But then off I was, learning how to close a bag without a bag clip. And I learned in disarming detail how the TSA is keeping us “safe.”

And then I stumbled onto an article told me how to disappear. And here is a really cool photo of Albert Einstein Marilyn Monroe. Speaking of illusions, it is claimed that this cube illusion will work on you only once, and I believe that.

But the last thing I stumbled onto tonight was the most spectacular. These are 24 scanning microscope photos from a book called Microcosmos by Brandon Brill. These photos are stunning. Thank you, Brandon Brill.

Thank you, Stumbleupon, for a delightful 30-minute journey.

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Wikileaks and Official Secrets

| December 10, 2010 | 2 Replies
Wikileaks and Official Secrets

“Turn yourself in, Julian Assange.” (Headline in Slate, Dec. 6, 2010)
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange surrendered to British authorities December 7th, 2010.

“Turn yourselves in, Federal Employees.” (Headline in next week’s news?)
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a memo to agency heads December 3rd, which may result in an order forbidding Federal employees from downloading or viewing Wikileaks documents.

How a government responds to the illegal release of its classified documents is predictable. How an individual struggles over whether to release classified documents is anything but predictable. Christopher Hitchens wrote the following about his own experiences in relation to Britain’s Official Secrets Act.

A democratically elected British Parliament had enacted an Official Secrets Act, which I could be held to have broken. Would I bravely submit to prosecution for my principles? (I was later threatened with imprisonment for another breach of this repressive law, and it was one of the reasons I decided to emigrate to a country that had a First Amendment.)

The 1980s BBC sitcom Yes Minister laid bare the inner workings of the British government through the twin prisms of English humor and focused insight. “Jobs for the Boys,” an episode that mentioned the Official Secrets Act, began by revealing Sir Humphrey Appleby’s need to cover-up a scandal surrounding some of his past financial misdealing. Sir Humphrey was the supremely self-serving, Permanent Secretary to the Department of Administrative Affairs (DAA).

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The War in Afghanistan as a Placebo for trying to cure terrorism

| December 10, 2010 | 1 Reply
The War in Afghanistan as a Placebo for trying to cure terrorism

What is a “placebo”? According to Wikipedia, it is “a sham or simulated medical intervention that can produce a perceived or actual improvement, called a placebo effect.”

What is a “sham”? According to Wiktionary, it is “an imitation that purports to be genuine. The time-share deal was a sham.”

What is “terrorism”? It is a nightmare inflicted on skittish citizens by politicians seeking to maintain power and money. and see here. In nightmares, the anxiety and heart palpitations are real, and thus the citizens seek a cure.

What is the “war” in Afghanistan? It is a placebo. It is a sham or simulated cure for a disease caused by politicians. Why would I make this conclusion?

1. In the case of placebos, patients show an extraordinary lack of curiosity regarding the mechanism by which the cure supposedly works. In the case of homeopathic drugs, there is no mechanism. For true believers, this lack of a causal mechanism is not a problem. In the case of Afghanistan, there is no connection between the bombing and shooting of poor people and any national interest other than supporting the military-industrial complex. It’s a make-work program for people who like to express power in the form of violence. Believers claim that we are there for “freedom” or to “protect our interests,” yet these are meaningless terms that cover up our lack of real concern. Even if we are spending two billion dollars per month to bomb and shoot poor people and even if the military itself estimates that there are only 100 members of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Here’s a warning: Don’t even try to find a worthy causal chain in Afghanistan because it would break the spell. Don’t try to tell patients that they are only taking placebos. That would ruin the cure and the nightmare would still be there. “Once the trial was over and the patients who had been given placebos were told as much, they quickly deteriorated.” In fact, they will hate you if you try to make them open their eyes.

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