RSSCategory: Communication

Exhibit A: Political opinions are tribal

June 10, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

Here is some extremely strong evidence that our political opinions are tribal more than rational.

“The reversal on the NSA’s practices is even more dramatic. In early 2006, 37 percent of Democrats found the agency’s activities acceptable; now nearly twice that number — 64 percent — say the use of telephone records is okay. By contrast, Republicans slumped from 75 percent acceptable to 52 percent today.”

I cannot help but think that if the former president were a Democrat and the current one a Republican, these trends would be reversed.

Many people, including Barack Obama, are now calling for a national discussion of the conduct of the NSA. In this intense video interview at MSNBC, Glenn Greenwald points out that such a debate could not possibly have occurred had Edward Snowden not released the information about the extent of NSA spying on Americans.


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Barack Obama versus Ben Franklin

June 9, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

Many of the clever images I spot on Facebook do not list an author. This is one of them, and it really nails the current controversy regarding the NSA:

Obama - Franklin


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Some deeper issues regarding the man who leaked the NSA’s secrets

June 9, 2013 | By | Reply More

This article about Edward Snowden, by Glenn Greenwald:

The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.

The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request. From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he said.

Snowden will go down in history as one of America’s most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world’s most secretive organisations – the NSA.

In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote: “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” but “I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.”

You’ll find Greenwald’s 12-minute video interview of Edward Snowden here.

I posted about Greenwald’s article on Facebook. I received the following comment:

I’m so glad I elected a 29 year old Booz Allen contract employee to make sensitive national security judgments for me. He’s so noble and righteous I’m sure that means he also is wise and has excellent, seasoned judgment.

Here is my response:

On July 4, we will celebrate the claim that U.S. governmental power comes from the People of the U.S. No, we didn’t elect Edward Snowden. Nor did we elect the military industrial complex. Nor do real people have much, if any, say in the national primaries–big money chooses them and then they give us the illusion of choice. Nor did anyone amend the U.S. Constitution to engraft terrorism exceptions to the First, Fourth or Fifth Amendments. Nor did I ever have a chance to vote to require the mainstream media to expand investigative journalism and diversity, so that anyone out there in a position of official authority would be forced to provide real answers to real questions, so that our national elections would be a legitimate exercise of grassroots power. What we are left with is a realpolitik, and in this massively dysfunctional system, the U.S. Surveillance State does whatever the hell it chooses to do, while the our obeisant news media villainizes other countries that do exactly what we do. The result is perpetual war, attendant with severely warped domestic governmental spending priorities. We are on an unsustainable path where war is the official excuse for hundreds of requests to fix fixable problems. Our politicians complete this circle by selling us nightmares (terrorism) and claiming that they can fix the problem with non-stop violent xenophobia, and now, spying on all of us. The question is what one should do when confronted with pervasive illegal spying by the U.S. government? If there is no perfect answer, what is a half-decent imperfect one? And more fundamentally, shouldn’t the People be giving their consent to such an ever-growing out-of-check system of the type described by Edward Snowden? Eddie, when did you vote to authorize the U.S. government to listen in on your phone calls? When did you vote to allow such widespread surveillance that investigative reporting through traditional outlets has almost come to a stop, meaning that we’re all very much in the dark? When were our representatives going to get around to telling us about these egregious NSA practices, even in the abstract? The official answers are “never” and “trust us.” There is no longer any reasonable way for law-abiding citizen to identify or address the underlying rot. The options are thus A) to do nothing to expose these abuses and B ) do something.


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4th Amendment reminder

June 7, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More
4th Amendment reminder

Congress insists that the massive, invasive, unprecedented spying that they have authorized the government to perform is legal and necessary to stop terrorists. I didn’t notice any exceptions written into the Bill of Rights that nullify the rights in cases of terrorism . . .


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Obama then, Obama now. Media then, media now.

June 6, 2013 | By | 3 Replies More
Obama then, Obama now.  Media then, media now.

Candidate Obama, 2008:

“My job this morning is to be so persuasive…that a light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany, and you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote for Barack,” he told a crowd of about 300 Ivy Leaguers–and, by the looks of it, a handful of locals who managed to gain access to what was supposed to be a students-only event.


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An Odd Email, and the Evolving Web

May 30, 2013 | By | Reply More

I recently received the following email from someone at to one of my regular legitimate email addresses:

Subject: What are these?

These look like dodge cars in the shape of colorful onions.

What is Buckminster and Chihuly Do Rounds?

Hmm. I get quite a few engineered phishing emails. But this one was not quite of the mold. I decided to google the phrase, and it led me to the Neighborhood Stabilization Team for the City of St. Louis home page that looks like this:


Ah Ha! I thought. So I replied:

I had to Google the phrase to remember what you are asking about. The site rotates several images, so you may need to hit refresh a few times to get back to mine: Neighborhood Stabilization Team

The caption made more sense with the full image that they showed back when I submitted my pic to the city.

This is the pond in front of the geodesic dome of the Climatron (which showed the dome above and its reflection below the strip that they still have on display).

So the title refers to the round dome designed by Buckminster Fuller and the round glass onions designed by Dale Chihuly, with a weak medical pun about “doing rounds” or seeing what there is to see.

But the city website designer eventually chopped the aspect ratio of the banner image from 4:3 to 9:16 to 3:17, removing most of the image, but keeping the now enigmatic title.

Here’s the original:


So what happened is that I submitted a few pix to a photo contest in 2007, and one of my shots was used as a web page banner. But as the needs changed, so did the image, until the final view little resembles the intent nor aspect of the original. And the caption that has been propagated is more absurd than intended.


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Parsing Obama’s terrorism speech

May 27, 2013 | By | Reply More

Glenn Greenwald characterizes Barack Obama’s recent terrorism speech as a Rorschach test–something for everyone:

The highly touted speech Obama delivered last week on US terrorism policy was a master class in that technique. If one longed to hear that the end of the “war on terror” is imminent, there are several good passages that will be quite satisfactory. If one wanted to hear that the war will continue indefinitely, perhaps even in expanded form, one could easily have found that. And if one wanted to know that the president who has spent almost five years killing people in multiple countries around the world feels personal “anguish” and moral conflict as he does it, because these issues are so very complicated, this speech will be like a gourmet meal. But whatever else is true, what should be beyond dispute at this point is that Obama’s speeches have very little to do with Obama’s actions, except to the extent that they often signal what he intends not to do.


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Censoring PBS

May 27, 2013 | By | Reply More

How much is PBS self-censoring? I live in St. Louis, where the PBS affiliate has never included the programming of Democracy Now. Bill Moyers was long a persona non grata according to the powers that be at PBS. These two items are all the evidence you need to know whether PBS censors progressive points of view. Ring of Fire has now provided even more evidence:

America’s Public Broadcasting System, or PBS, is surrendering to private influence of the Billionaire industrialists, the Koch Brothers. “Citizen Koch,” a documentary that exposes the money driven politics that influenced the Wisconsin uprising, was rejected by PBS for fear of offending one of its key contributors, David Koch. The move by PBS was not the failed negotiation as they suggest it was, but a censorship, against their better judgment, to protect the hand that feeds them.


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The stunning numbers of YouTube

May 21, 2013 | By | Reply More

These numbers stagger the mind:

Users of the world’s most popular video sharing service upload 100 hours of video to the site every minute. That’s 6,000 hours of video every hour and a whopping 144,000 hours of video every day.

And here’s how Youtube does it.


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