Wednesday, November 24, 2010

ye gods, I'm full of shit


Someone called Quin once wrote:

"You know, I'd never truly understood that maxim of Samuel Johnson's that "wherever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out" until now. It's his way of saying that when you a really pleased with a smart-arsed line you've written, it likely means around 6 billion people think it makes you sound like a right tit."

Well, I've just had that experience re-reading a comment of mine on a post at Lenin's Tomb. I mean, what the jabbering twatboar am I trying to communicate in those three, tortured paragraphs? You know, I'd really like to revisit both the topic and the thought process that drove me to pen that comment and before you ask,: No, neither excessive alcohol consumption nor more unusual narcotics were involved. 

Unfortunately I have a presentation to write for Monday morning which could feasibly secure me a decent research position at a nice little institution so I am devoting as much of my cerebral capacity to that as possible. That might explain how manpig sputum such as that comment was delivered into the internets but I honestly can't blame distraction with "higher things" as I had given up work for the day when I shat it out.

Ho hum, on with the presentation. Maybe I will find the time next week. Maybe.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

incredible open letter to NYT from eminent geoscientist


This is super-awesome. The author, David Hughes, deserves a fucking medal for this profound Fisking of the NYT's fantasy version of fossil fuel resource dynamics.

Here's a little more background:

Peak oil.
Peak gas.
Peak coal.
Peak fucking everything!

As a bonus for my readers I have 'discovered' a full- text version of the Nature paper in the third link for your delectation. You really should read it, its jolly interesting.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Chris Hedges on "junk politics" or pseudo-democracy, as I like to call it

Too many resistance movements continue to buy into the facade of electoral politics, parliaments, constitutions, bills of rights, lobbying and the appearance of a rational economy. The levers of power have become so contaminated that the needs and voices of citizens have become irrelevant. The election of Barack Obama was yet another triumph of propaganda over substance and a skillful manipulation and betrayal of the public by the mass media. We mistook style and ethnicity – an advertising tactic pioneered by the United Colors of Benetton and Calvin Klein – for progressive politics and genuine change. We confused how we were made to feel with knowledge. But the goal, as with all brands, was to make passive consumers mistake a brand for an experience. Obama, now a global celebrity, is a brand. He had almost no experience besides two years in the senate, lacked any moral core and was sold as all things to all people. The Obama campaign was named Advertising Age’s marketer of the year for 2008 and edged out runners-up Apple and Take it from the professionals. Brand Obama is a marketer’s dream. President Obama does one thing and Brand Obama gets you to believe another. This is the essence of successful advertising. You buy or do what the advertisers want because of how they can make you feel. 
We live in a culture characterized by what Benjamin DeMott called “junk politics.” Junk politics does not demand justice or the reparation of rights. It always personalizes issues rather than clarifying them. It eschews real debate for manufactured scandals, celebrity gossip and spectacles. It trumpets eternal optimism, endlessly praises our moral strength and character, and communicates in a feel-your-pain language. The result of junk politics is that nothing changes, “meaning zero interruption in the processes and practices that strengthen existing, interlocking systems of socioeconomic advantage.”

This is why the first target for any meaningful social, environmental and economic reform has to be the democratic institutions which allow this system of "junk politics" to persist.There are many different policies which are not at all challenging for any Western society to enact in a matter of months to enhance political engagement . These include compulsory voting, direct democracy and representative electoral systems as promoted by the Electoral Reform Society of the UK. There are other, more subtle pieces of legislation which are equallly as important including prohibitions against professional lobbying, state-funding of political parties and the decentralisation of power to allow people to become engaged once again with local, as well as national politics. Finally, and possibly most importantly, in the UK at least, you need elected houses of parliament.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lowkey would like to tell you how it is


This guy is awesome. So much clear thinking and so many lies torn apart. Via Hangbitch.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

UK democracy


I try to avoid reading or even thinking about UK politics, being no longer a resident of that sordid plutocracy. However, I encountered this article on electoral finance via Twatter and the urge to rant got the better of me:
Dude, there's a hell of a lot more wrong with UK 'democracy' than just the funding environment. And why is it that the best most reformers can dream of achieving in a Western country in the 21st century is the distant promise of proportional representation? Why have developments in democracy not progressed since the early 20th century? What about Direct Democracy? Why does 38% of eligible voters constitute a majority? What about compulsory voting? What about an elected second house, FFS!!!! What about giving the power to vote on every issue back to the people who should hold it?

The idea of elected representatives being the only viable form of government was accurately criticised as "elective dictatorship" by Lord Hailsham 35 years ago. Why has this issue not been considered further since then? The answer is that the UK is a pseudodemocracy where power is concentrated in the hands of professional politicians and their backers. The electorate remain ambivalent to this because much of the mainstream media conducts itself according to the propaganda model made famous by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Either fight now or fuck off.



Via Sunny Hundal at LibCon

Monday, November 08, 2010

more awesome video action


In a kind of sequence of awesome I would like to post another couple of videos which contain revolutionary or controversial analysis of aspects of our society. The first is via the legendary Doctor Goldacre and the other was another from the same series on YuToob.

Addition 20-11-10:

I really should add this paragraph I have just read because it reasserts the point of the second video so well:

The cultural belief that we can make things happen by thinking, by visualizing, by wanting them, by tapping into our inner strength or by understanding that we are truly exceptional is magical thinking. We can always make more money, meet new quotas, consume more products and advance our career if we have enough faith. This magical thinking, preached to us across the political spectrum by Oprah, sports celebrities, Hollywood, self-help gurus and Christian demagogues, is largely responsible for our economic and environmental collapse, since any Cassandra who saw it coming was dismissed as “negative.” This belief, which allows men and women to behave and act like little children, discredits legitimate concerns and anxieties. It exacerbates despair and passivity. It fosters a state of self-delusion. The purpose, structure and goals of the corporate state are never seriously questioned. To question, to engage in criticism of the corporate collective, is to be obstructive and negative. And it has perverted the way we view ourselves, our nation and the natural world. The new paradigm of power, coupled with its bizarre ideology of limitless progress and impossible happiness, has turned whole nations, including the United States, into monsters.

Its from a powerful rant here. Read it and weep. 

Sunday, November 07, 2010

redefining apathy by David Meslin


This video, that was posted on the Common Dreams website and linked to by Naomi Klein on Twatter, contains some fantastic criticism of modern society.

fascinating bit of history for you


This blog post is really interesting, not only for the insight into the  mentality of the Founding Fathers but also for the commentary on the nature of fiat currencies and the strengths and weaknesses thereof.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

interview with anti-vivisectionists


In response to this fantastic piece of rantage and my own somewhat mischievous and inflammatory comments on an anti-vivisectionist blog that reposted the entire rant I have received a request for an interview from that blog's senior editor. This is a first for me! I don't know whether to be flattered or slightly apprehensive . . . Ultimately, this is not an opportunity any self-respecting scientist would turn down so I'm posting here to provide my bunny-cuddling friend with a forum to post her questions.

corporatist assault upon the EU


The EU is already heavily influenced by corporate lobbying and this look set to reach new depths of sociopathy with a move by the European Services Forum (Goldman Sachs, IBM, Vodafone and Deutsche Bank) to paste, word-for-word, a chapter from NAFTA into a new trade agreement Between the EU and Canada. As David Cronin relates over at OpenDemocracy:

"That chapter facilitates private firms to sue any of the three governments that signed NAFTA – the US, Canada or Mexico – if obstacles to making profits are encountered. The courts of arbitration provided for by the chapter can issue legally binding verdicts after hearings held in camera. If the ESF has its way, firms would also be able to put the European Union in the dock."
As usual, however dysfunctional the EU is it is actually well ahead of the UK in its progress towards lobbying transparency, however ahead doesn't mean they have won the race as corporations, obeying the mantra that "capital wants to be free", continue to push back against the legislation.

"The strategy being pursued by the captains of industry is all the more troubling, when one considers that they are sneakily trying to attain objectives that have been rejected by separate international fora. In a triumph for the so-called anti-globalisation movement, the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) was shelved in the late 1990s. Discussed at the level of the World Trade Organisation, that treaty was also designed to give corporations the power to counter green or social rules they regarded as pesky.

Recently, however, a letter signed by prominent writers and activists such as Naomi Klein, Susan George and José Bové (now a French MEP) dubbed the draft EU-Canada agreement a “carbon copy” of the MAI. Both contain the same “judicial monstrosity”, the letter noted."

As is usually the case the Green Party are ahead of the UK government in this matter- Caroline having called for the register of lobbyists way back in 2008. In New Zealand, too, the Greens are ahead of the curve, advocating a register of lobbying based on a Canadian model already in force. Although see here for some more regressive and alarming lobbying legislation from NZ.

Punkscience does not support prohibitions against lobbying but rather transparency from lobbying entities to reveal who exactly is funding their campaigns so that one can follow the money. This on its own, isn't enough to ensure a functional, representative democracy, of course. The Fourth Estate must operate independently to impart the information revealed by such legislation to the public and the public must be educated and enfranchised to act rationally on the information received.