Thursday, January 31, 2013

Six Corporations

News Corp. owns over 27 television stations and over 150 newspapers. Time Warner has over 100 subsidiaries including CNN, Time Magazine, and The CW.

Just six corporations own the vast majority of media outlets in the United States. Through years of relentless mergers, acquisitions and consolidations, a handful of corporations have been able to dominate most of what Americans read, see and hear on a daily basis.

As of 2011, the largest media corporations in the United States in terms of revenue and profit are: General Electric, Walt Disney, News Corp., Time Warner, CBS and Viacom.

Walt Disney – more specifically, Disney Media Networks – controls a staggering amount of media outlets. In the field of motion pictures, they own Walt Disney Pictures (which includes Pixar Animation Studios), Touchstone Pictures and Hollywood Pictures. They then distribute these films through Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment while distributing soundtracks and original music under Walt Disney Records and Hollywood Records.

They also own the entire ABC Television Network (which includes ABC Daytime, ABC Entertainment Group and ABC News), the Disney Channel, ABC Family, SOAPnet, 80% of ESPN (along with ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPNU, ESPN HD and ESPN2 HD, ESPN Regional Television, ESPN International, ESPN Radio, ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Enterprises, ESPN Zones, ESPN360, ESPN Mobile Properties, ESPN On Demand, ESPN Interactive and ESPN PPV) and television distribution divisions of Disney-ABC Domestic Television and Disney-ABC ESPN Television.

Click to enlarge.
Walt Disney also owns large shares of A&E Television Networks and Lifetime Entertainment Services, while ABC Television Network boasts over 200 affiliated stations which together reach 99% of American household televisions, and that isn’t even getting in to Walt Disney’s control of radio, publishing and other holdings. News Corp., now infamous for the News International phone hacking scandal in the UK, owns Fox, MyNetworkTV and other stations totaling some 27 television stations in the United States alone, with Fox Television Stations reaching over 35% of American television homes with six duopolies (a situation in which control of a commodity or service in a particular market is vested in just two producers or suppliers) in the top 10 television markets.

Fox International owns 120 channels around the globe while News Corp. also owns production and distribution companies like Fox Home Entertainment, 20th Century Fox Television, Fox Film Entertainment, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Blue Sky Studios, Fox 2000 Pictures and more on an international scale.

General Electric (GE) owns a 49% stake in NBC-Universal[15] and NBC Networks (includes NBC News, NBC Sports, NBC Television, NBC Universal, CNBC, CNBC World (Arabia, India, Asia, Europe), MSNBC, Bravo, SyFy Channel, Telemundo, USA, Oxygen and more) along with 46 NBC affiliate stations and more stations internationally.

In the realm of film production and distribution, GE owns Universal Pictures, Focus Features, and Rogue Pictures with production agreements with more companies and distribution through Universal Studios Home Entertainment. They also control, etc. along with (a News Corp. and NBC Universal joint venture) and more.

Then comes Time Warner, the largest media conglomerate with the second highest revenue behind Disney, both of which have holdings which far exceed the space here and include a wide variety of industries including monopolies on cable service in some locations.

As with many of the other powerful media groups, Time Warner Inc. was formed with the merger of Warner Communications, Inc., Time Inc., and Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. and now encompasses a plethora of properties in television, the Internet (like AOL, CNN, TMZ,, Moviefone,, and more), film, publishing (including comic books and more than 150 magazines) along with marketing companies as well.

Viacom owns a massive amount of television properties including MTV Networks (and the many variants including MTV Networks International which operates in 160 nations), BET Networks, CMT, Comedy Central, Logo, Nickelodeon, Spike TV, TV Land, and VH1. They also control several film production companies under Paramount Pictures Corporation and a massive internet presence.

CBS Network consists of 30 stations and a 50% share of the CW Network, the other 50% belonging to Time Warner along with 130 radio stations, major book publishers like Simon & Shuster, prominent online holdings, CBS Outdoor and more.

If your preferences lean towards freedom, the case against increased media conglomeration is strong. It’s a toxic social mixture of monopolism and centralized authority; an Orwellian vision of society come true. Anti-monopoly laws were passed in the US in the last century. Fat lot of good it has accomplished. The sad truth is, once you realize trusted news reports have become unreliable, all media reports become suspect. Opposing stories are not given a voice, or the message is somehow distorted. Such is the power of a media monopoly. Think of the resources the corporate media machine has at its disposal. Those resources also come under the control of the current administration of the US. It’s one of many reasons the position of the US president is often referred to as the most powerful office in the world. Of course, that’s just the view from the North Texas Drifter.

Six corporations control virtually all American media. Ask yourself what you know for sure.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Moral Relativism

Moral relativism is the view that moral or ethical statements, which vary from person to person, are all equally valid and no one’s opinion of “right and wrong” is better than any other. Moral relativism is a broader, more personally applied form of other types of relativistic thinking, such as cultural relativism. These are all based on the idea that there is no ultimate standard of good or evil, so every judgment about right and wrong is purely a product of a person’s preferences and environment. According to moral relativism, there is no ultimate standard of morality and no statement or position can be considered absolutely “right or wrong,” “best or worst.”

Moral relativism is a widely held position in the modern world, though it is selectively applied. As with other forms of relativism, it is only mentioned in a purely defensive way. The principles of moral relativism can only be used to excuse or allow certain actions, they can never be used to condemn them. Moral relativism takes several different forms, from utilitarianism, evolutionism and existentialism to emotivism and situationism. All of these, for the most part, share a single unifying theme: that absolute morals do not exist, and what is “right” or “wrong” is entirely a product of human preference.

However, the foundations of modern civilization were not built on a base of moral relativism. The very act of passing a law and enforcing it suggests a fixed standard. The reasons are obvious: if everyone in a society really, truly acted as though right and wrong were purely matters of opinion, then society would implode into a battle of “might makes right.” In a morally relativistic culture, the only universal reason to do (or not do) anything is to avoid the consequences from one’s peers.

All human laws involve some moral principle being enforced by threat of consequences. Speed limits are enforced on most roads because of a moral conviction that risking other people’s lives is wrong. The same is true for murder, theft, perjury, fraud, and so forth. When moral relativism becomes dominant, however, legitimate moral principles are no longer the foundation of those laws. Since everything is relative, then these laws are just a matter of opinion, and the only universal reason to follow them is to avoid consequences. This strongly encourages people to look for ways to “get away with it”; after all, it’s just one person’s opinion against someone else’s.

Even in a society operating under the rule of law, severing the connection between those laws and an objective standard invites disaster. At best, moral relativism makes society unstable, as the concepts of right and wrong suddenly become a question of shifting popular opinions. The worst possible outcome of such a condition is the rise of the dictator: a ruler who abuses a temporary swing in popular opinion to seize power, but sees no authority as superior to his own, and no laws more binding than his own. During the Nuremberg trials after World War II, the logical problem of relativism became apparent. Nazi defendants continually pled for their acquittal, saying that they were only following the laws of their land. In frustration, finally, one judge asked, “but is there no law higher than our law?” A moral relativist would be forced to answer “no.”

Relativism in and of itself is self-defeating. Logically, there must be some standard by which to compare two different moral statements to determine which is the “more correct” one. Obviously, moral relativists deny that such a standard exists, and so they claim that such comparisons are impossible. This results in the biggest practical problem for relativism, as mentioned above: it is difficult, if not impossible, to condemn any actions from a stance of moral relativism.

Once right and wrong are relegated to matters of opinion at worst, or are purely subjective at best, any talk of morality becomes incoherent.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Wag the Dog

The phrase "wag the dog" means to purposely deceive people so that, in response, their beliefs will back an agenda. It's a way of changing people's minds about an issue so that they will be more accepting of change.

As an example, the forces of the political left like to say that the previous conservative administration started the Gulf War with Iran over non-existent weapons of mass destruction. Additionally, they say the war was over oil. Things have changed since then and now, nobody knows exactly why the war was fought because the issues have become so propagandized. We don't get a straight explanation anymore from either the media or the current administration. But there are other issues being pushed on the public today.

"Wagging the dog" more often turns out to be theater with actors and fake blood and maybe even corpses used to convince others that people were killed in some incident intended to provoke emotions and push an agenda.

A "wag the dog" scenario uses a staged incident to call attention to a "need" that can then be supplied by authorities.

The idiom comes from a saying that "a dog is smarter than its tail", but if the tail were smarter, then the tail would "wag the dog." The expression was used as theme of the political movie, Wag the Dog, a 1997 film starring Robert de Niro and Dustin Hoffman, produced and directed by Barry Levinson.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Quantum Computers

Will our children use them?
The 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to American physicist David Wineland and French physicist Serge Haroche for "for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring & manipulation of individual quantum systems." Both Wineland and Haroche are recognized for earlier work in which they developed and refined quantum measurement processes wherein quantum systems can be measured very precisely with a minimum amount of disturbance, so that the peculiar quantum properties (namely quantum superposition, as often demonstrated by the Schroedinger's cat thought experiment) are not destroyed.

These methods have significant implications for fields that rely on these quantum properties being handled very delicately, such as the development of quantum computers.

So, how does a quantum computer work and what makes it different from a traditional computer?

Briefly, a quantum computer uses principles of quantum physics to increase the computational power of traditional computers.

A quick review. Traditional computers work by storing data in binary number format, a series of 1s & 0s retained in electronic components such as transistors. Each component of computer memory is called a bit and can be manipulated through the steps of Boolean logic so that the bits change, based upon the algorithms applied by the computer program, between the 1 and 0 modes (or, "on" and "off").

A quantum computer, however, stores information as either a 1, 0, or a quantum superposition of the two states. The "quantum bit," called a qubit, allows for far greater flexibility than the binary system in that computer calculations would allow for probability analysis in response to calculations.

Every code can be broken.
A working quantum computer would be able to perform calculations on a far greater order of magnitude than traditional computers -- a concept with serious concerns and applications in the realm of cryptography & encryption. A successful quantum computer would devastate the world's financial system by ripping through computer security encryptions, which are based on factoring large numbers that literally cannot be cracked by traditional computers within the life span of the universe. A quantum computer, on the other hand, could factor the numbers in a reasonable period of time.

To understand how this speeds things up, consider this example. If the qubit is in a superposition of the 1 state and the 0 state, and it performed an calculation with another qubit in the same superposition, then one calculation actually obtains 4 results: a 1/1 result, a 1/0 result, a 0/1 result, and a 0/0 result. This is a result of the mathematics applied to a quantum system when in a state of decoherence, which lasts while it is in a superposition of states until it collapses down into one state. The ability of a quantum computer to perform multiple computations simultaneously (or in parallel, in computer terms) is called quantum parallelism).

The exact physical mechanism within the quantum computer is theoretically complex and intuitively disturbing. Generally, it is explained in terms of the multi-world interpretation of quantum physics, wherein the computer performs calculations not only in our universe but also in other universes simultaneously, while the various qubits are in a state of quantum decoherence. (While this sounds far fetched, the multi-world interpretation has been shown to make predictions which match experimental results.).

A handful of quantum computers have been built. The first, a 2-qubit quantum computer in 1998, could perform trivial calculations before losing decoherence after a few nanoseconds. In 2000, teams successfully built both a 4-qubit and a 7-qubit quantum computer. Research on the subject is still active, although some physicists and engineers express concerns over the difficulties involved in upscaling these experiments to full-scale computing systems. Still, the success of these initial steps do show that the fundamental theory is sound.

The main difficulty is the same as its strength: quantum decoherence. The qubit calculations are performed while the quantum wave function is in a state of superposition between states, which is what allows it to perform the calculations using both 1 & 0 states simultaneously.

However, when a measurement of any type is made to a quantum system, decoherence breaks down and the wave function collapses into a single state. Therefore, the computer has to somehow continue making these calculations without having any measurements made until the proper time, when it can then drop out of the quantum state, have a measurement taken to read its result, which then gets passed on to the rest of the system.

The physical requirements of manipulating a system on this scale are considerable, touching on the realms of super-conductors, nanotechnology, and quantum electronics. Each of these is itself a sophisticated field which is still being developed, so trying to merge them all together is certainly a formidable task.

Non-Newtonian Fluids

A non-Newtonian fluid is a fluid whose viscosity is based on applied stress. Hmm. What does that mean? Well, probably the most commonly known non-Newtonian fluid is cornstarch dissolved in water.

If you punch a bucket full of a shear thickening non-Newtonian fluid, the stress introduced by the incoming force causes the atoms in the fluid to rearrange such that it behaves like a solid. It will resist objects trying to pass through. However, if the object is inserted into the fluid slowly, it will successfully penetrate. If the object is abruptly pulled out, it behaves as a solid. You can literally pull a bucket of the fluid out of its container.

A shear thinning non-Newtonian fluid behaves in the opposite way. This type of fluid becomes thinner, rather than thicker, when stress is applied. Also called pseudo-plastic, examples of this type of non-Newtonian fluid include ketchup, toothpaste, and paint. The effect doesn't last for long in either type, continuing only while stress is applied.

Non-Newtonian fluids help us understand the wide variety of fluids that exist in the physical world. Plastic solids, power-law fluids, viscoelastic fluids, and time-dependent viscosity fluids are other fluids that exhibit complex and counter-intuitive relationships between shear stress and viscosity/elasticity. Non-Newtonian fluids are probably the most exciting to play with.

A search for non-Newtonian fluid on YouTube brings up some interesting results. On several game shows, hosts or contestants run across big vats of shear thickening non-Newtonian fluid, able to traverse them unless they stop - in which case they sink immediately. When combined with a oscillating plate, non-Newtonian fluids demonstrate other unusual properties, like protruding "fingers" and holes that persist after creating them. An oscillating plate applies stress on a periodic basis, rapidly changing the viscosity of the fluid and putting it in an odd middle ground between a liquid and a solid.

A practical application for shear thickening non-Newtonian fluids may be used in future applications for body armor. Since these fluids are usually flexible, they would allow soldiers to move freely when not under attack, but when confronted with a speeding bullet, they would quickly harden like traditional armor. Just one of many proposed future applications.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ken Kesey

Ken Kesey
American author Kenneth Elton "Ken" Kesey was born on September 17, 1935 and was most well-known for his novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962) and as a counter-culture personality who considered himself a link between the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the hippies of the 1960s. As Kesey was quoted in 1999, "I was too young to be a beatnik, and too old to be a hippie."

Kesey was born in La Junta, Colorado. His parents were dairy farmers who moved to Springfield, Oregon in 1946. Ken was a champion wrestler in high school and college, nearly qualifying for the US Olympic team until a shoulder injury halted his wrestling career. He was an avid reader and film-goer, especially liking John Wayne, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Zane Grey.

Mountain Girl
While attending college at the University of Oregon in 1956, Kesey eloped with his high-school sweetheart, Norma "Faye" Haxby. They had three children, Jed, Zane, and Shannon. In 1966, Kesey fathered another child, Sunshine, with Carolyn "Mountain Girl" Adams.

A member of Beta Theta Pi, Kesey graduated from the University of Oregon's School of Journalism with a degree in speech and communication in 1957. Enrolling in the creative writing program at Stanford University, he made friends with fellow writers Ken Babbs, Larry McMurtry, Wendell Berry, Ed McClanahan, Gurney Norman, and Robert Stone. While at Stanford, Kesey resided on Perry Lane, a historically bohemian quarter near the university. Stanford program director Wallace Stegner viewed Kesey " a threat to civilization and intellectualism and sobriety" and rejected Kesey's fellowship applications for the 1959-60 and 1960-61 terms.

Working as a night aide at the Menlo Park Veteran's Hospital, Kesey volunteered to take part in a CIA-financed study under the direction of Project MKULTRA cataloging the effects of psychoactive drugs, particularly LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, cocaine, AMT, and DMT. Kesey wrote detailed accounts of his experiences with these drugs, both during the study and in the years of private experimentation that followed. His role as a medical guinea pig, as well as his stint working at the veterans' hospital inspired him to write One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

After the success of Cuckoo's Nest, Kesey entertained friends with parties he called "Acid Tests," involving music (such as Kesey's favorite band, The Warlocks, later known as the Grateful Dead), black lights, fluorescent paint, strobes and other "psychedelic" effects, and, of course, LSD. These parties were noted in some of Allen Ginsberg's poems and are described in Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, as well as Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs by Hunter S. Thompson and Freewheelin Frank, Secretary of the Hell's Angels by Frank Reynolds.

In 1959, Kesey wrote Zoo, a novel about the beatniks living in the North Beach community of San Francisco, but it was never published. In 1960, he wrote End of Autumn, about a young man who leaves his working-class family after he gets a scholarship to an Ivy League school, also unpublished.

At the Menlo Park Veterans' Hospital, Kesey spent time talking to the patients, sometimes under the influence of the hallucinogenic drugs with which he had volunteered to experiment. He did not believe the patients were insane, but rather, society had marginalized them because they did not fit conventional ideas of how people were supposed to act and behave.

Published in 1962, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was an immediate success; in 1963, it was adapted into a successful stage play by Dale Wasserman, and in 1975, Miloš Forman directed a screen adaptation, which won the five Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actor (Jack Nicholson), Best Actress (Louise Fletcher), Best Director (Forman) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Lawrence Hauben, Bo Goldman).

Kesey was originally involved in creating the film, but left two weeks into production because of a dispute over payment for the film rights. Kesey was only paid $20,000 for the film rights to Cuckoo's Nest. Considering the success of the film, it was a paltry sum. Kesey loathed the fact that, unlike the book, the film was not narrated by the Chief Bromden character, and he disagreed with Jack Nicholson's being cast as Randle McMurphy (he wanted Gene Hackman).

Kesey's second novel, Sometimes a Great Notion, was published in 1964, and made into a 1971 film starring and directed by Paul Newman; it was nominated for two Academy Awards, and in 1972 was the first movie shown by the new television network HBO, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac -- The Dharma Bums
Kesey's many friends included Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouc, Allen Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, and members of the Grateful Dead pop band.

Kesey's last major work was an essay for Rolling Stone magazine calling for peace in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

Diagnosed as a diabetic in 1992, by 1997, health problems began to take their toll, beginning with a stroke that same year. On October 25, 2001, Kesey underwent liver surgery and died of complications on November 10, 2001, at the age of 66.

Major Themes Within One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
taken fm One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: Study Guide by Soman Chainani:

Sexual Repression vs. Sexual Freedom
One of the prevailing motifs of Kesey's novel involves the metaphorical contrast between clamped-down sexual mores and freewheeling, instinctive, "natural" sexual freedom. The conflict is represented by the war between McMurphy and Nurse Ratched. The "Big Nurse" represents a frigid, controlled sexuality, an attempt to button up natural instincts and resist impulse through conscious order. She cannot, however, disguise her huge breasts, which show through her uniform no matter how much she covers up. McMurphy, the symbol of total sexual abandon, ultimately tears the Nurse's clothes from her body to "unleash" her breasts in a final climax of the battle. McMurphy himself is almost animalistic in his sexuality, which is the main reason he has been institutionalized by a repressive society. He is considered dangerous and hostile because he acts on his urges. His primary crime is statutory rape, an offense he defends by arguing that the young girl pressed him to have sex rather than the other way around. At the end of the novel, though McMurphy frees nearly all the main characters sexually--bringing a prostitute for fellow inmates, encouraging the men to rediscover the emasculated souls they've surrendered to Nurse Ratched--he must pay for his free sexuality by losing a part of his brain. Kesey suggests that fully unfettered sexuality is too dangerous for modern society to tolerate.

Independence vs. Acquiescence
Throughout the novel, we consistently root for the inmates to find freedom, either through a mass escape or by overthrowing the regime and winning a new order in the institution. This is all subverted, however, when McMurphy discovers that he and Scanlon are the only two involuntarily committed inmates. The rest of the inmates are there by choice. They would rather be quiescent followers, surrendering themselves to institutional oppression, than independent in a society where they do not quite fit and may not be able to function. McMurphy sees emasculation as the prime reason for the choice to stay. The Nurse has found a way to mentally castrate each and every one of the inmates--including Rawlins, who commits suicide by physical emasculation. McMurphy may perceive that the best way to free the other men is to expose Nurse Ratched as flesh and blood rather than an inevitable oppressor--someone with her own flaws and pains. McMurphy attempts to work within the Nurse's system, trying to out-manipulate and outfox her with his various schemes. But ultimately, the only way to change the acquiescence of his fellow inmates is to lead by example. He feels pressure to acquiesce and avoid pain, but he choose to follow his independent spirit, which explodes in brute force when he rips the Nurse's clothes open. This act prevents the rest of the inmates from ever seeing her as merely the robotic hand of authority. She has a body now, and they can no longer follow her blindly, understanding that she is just as mortal as they are. They are likely to continue choosing the institution to the outside world, but they will remain with a greater degree of independence than before.

Self-Interest vs. Altruism
McMurphy’s character is worth considering in comparing the drives for altruism and self-interest. When McMurphy enters the hospital, he has the goal of causing chaos in order to disrupt Nurse Ratched's carefully designed schemes, which quash the inmates' spirits. At first it seems that he does so primarily for amusement, or in order to establish himself as Top Dog and ensure that he has the power in the ward. He also consistently fleeces the other inmates in gambling games. Over time, however, we suspect that money, power, and amusement are not—or are no longer—his primary motivation for taking on Ratched. He develops a sincere desire to resuscitate these fallen, empty, drained souls. In one of the most significant moments of the novel, when he is frustrated that the men are not trying to get out, he throws all their money back at them, in a demonstration that he cares more about them than self-interest alone would dictate. Once McMurphy realizes that he might never get out, being involuntarily committed subject to Ratched's will, he for a while follows his self-interest. But this is temporary, for he ultimately sacrifices himself in order to allow the inmates to see their chance for escape from the ward in both body and soul.

Mind vs. Matter
Kesey’s novel elucidates some ways that people imprison themselves psychosomatically, using the mind to trap the body. In the case of Chief Bromden, for instance, the Indian has convinced others—maybe even himself—that he is deaf and dumb. This chosen handicap dictates the conditions of even the most mundane moments of his life. Meanwhile, for the rest of the inmates, in group therapy sessions Nurse Ratched uses the power of suggestion to expose their deepest insecurities. We see over and over that belief in a particular ailment seems to induce it. Specifically, in the case of electroshock therapy (EST), given to disturbed patients whenever they misbehave, most of them succumb and find themselves changed negatively by the experience. Chief Bromden, in particular, says that fighting EST was not an option: the fog simply envelops you and warps your brain. But McMurphy teaches him that fighting EST requires willpower, and through focus of mind it can be resisted like much else. Again and again, McMurphy uses his strength to fight the effect of EST, allowing Bromden to follow him and finally escape. There are natural limits—namely, nature itself—to the use of mind over matter. Some people have genuine medical conditions. Ratched herself cannot wish away her large bosom. As for McMurphy, he cannot withstand Ratched's final tool of punishment, the actual removal of part of his brain.

Fear vs. Experience
The inmates tend to be prisoners of their own fear. Kesey suggests that modern society, figured by Nurse Ratched’s institution, preys on fear, that authoritarian, repressive regimes, whether in the government, the home, or the workplace, rely on fear to control individuals. Ratched's methods of manipulation include using public embarrassment to make the inmates turn on each other, then the power of suggestion to make the inmates afraid of her potential to expose each one of their unique flaws to the group. She uses a carrot-and-stick approach to make the inmates afraid of physical punishment for the slightest disobedience. What McMurphy finds upon entering the ward is a group of sniveling, whipped animals who have lost the sense of their own capacity for learning from everyday experience. They have given up sex, alcohol, and even living voluntarily because of their fear of indulging in everyday life. Whatever fear of life brought most of them into the institution in the first place has been magnified many times by Ratched’s regime, and McMurphy takes up the challenge of helping the others regain their desire for experiencing the pleasures of life.

Origins of Violence
Many critics have mistakenly cried racism against Kesey in the novel’s depiction of the three young blacks who serve Nurse Ratched. They certainly are portrayed as dumb, sniveling brutes who follow the Nurse's orders as perverse henchmen. They are intent on destruction. Why did Kesey choose to make these characters black? Kesey’s choice is not racist but is a critique of racism in society or at least racism in Ratched’s mind. This is because the novel provides a very clear etiology for each of these boys early in the novel. The Nurse carefully sorts through potential applicants for the job, looking for the ones who have the most hate within them, those who have learned to internalize their rage so that they have every reason to be completely obedient to her will and to act brutally when they get the chance. Nurse Ratched has chosen male workers who already express the internalized anger she feels, the fury and pain she has repressed under the facade of calm, serene order. If the boys who fit the bill are black, it is because in a racist society theyhave experienced (more than others) the hurt in their lives that has made them so angry, and if anyone is racist in this regard, it is Ratched for thinking the blacks are most likely to be the kind of workers she wants. If one's environment is largely to blame for a person becoming angry and violent, it is worth examining the causes of anger and violence in other characters from the same perspective.

Group Mentality vs. Individualism
Nurse Ratched's most sinister tool is preying on the group mentality of the inmates to instill fear and self-loathing. She makes it clear that the inmates are not allowed to be on their own; they must form groups of eight in order to request access to even the most mundane activity. There is method to this seemingly draconian order. She knows that as long as the men can reflect, mirror, and expose each other's pain, they will have enough to occupy themselves with rather than rebelling against her. Only in the solitude of one’s own room can the men look inside and develop the strength of will and character to begin questioning her authority. Such questioning of the hospital, its leadership, the role of the hospital in their convalescence, or broadly questioning authority or society is a mark of individualism that Nurse Ratched will not allow. In a group of disturbed people, the group identity is going nowhere, and that is the way she wants it. She controls the inmates by controlling the questions asked, and as long as she prevents them from being alone for very long, she knows she will have the upper hand.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest is considered among the best books of the twentieth century -- some of us elevate it to the top of the list. It is a must read for students of literature, psychology, and sociology. If you haven't read it, get busy.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Objectivity Is Subjective

I have a point of view that sometimes turns out to be a hundred and eighty degrees in opposition to yours. At times in my life, I have been ostracized and punished for my point of view. Many times I have been forced to adopt another's point of view so that I may maintain a job or keep relations with family, friends, or even with civil authorities.

I have considered the unfairness of it all and conclude that my life, as well as yours, is a subjective experience that cannot be escaped. You may force me to dress a certain way, or get a haircut, or stop using certain words, or even to turn over a portion of my not-so-hard-earned pay, but I will never see things your way, or vice versa.

What I have learned and how I deal with imposed reality is that every experience I have comes through my own, personal, unsharable viewpoint. There are no peer reviews of my direct experience. This truth (as subjective as it may be) holds major implications for how I live my life. The first is that I realize I must trust my own personal experience, simply because nobody else has my angle. Secondly, I feel more awe for the world around me, seeing how it works (because I really don't know how it works) and knowing that any so-called objective understanding I claim of the world is also constructed entirely from scratch, by me (and the Grace of God, if you believe such a thing, and I do). My understanding of reality depends on the books I’ve read, the people I’ve met, and the experiences I’ve had. My unique perspective insures I will never experience the world quite like anyone else, so, I will never live in exactly the same world as anyone else — and therefore, I mustn’t let outside observers be the authority on who I am or what life is really like for me.

Subjectivity is primary experience — it is real life; objectivity is a mantle we layer atop our minds to help us understand our inner experience. Once understood, it is a simple truth with startling implications for the roles of religion and science in the lives of those who grasp it.

The egomaniac, the solipsist, the narcissist and others far too involved with their own importance haven't quite grasped the notion and may lead entire lives based on a world view centered on... themselves. This is the true cause of dissension.

So, when I tell you to back off, it's probably best to do so even though you believe I'm a nitwit and you are absolutely convinced you know what is best for me. Ha!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Where Did These Ads Come From?

Now, isn't this interesting? I log in this morning to discover ads on my site. To my loyal readers -- I have no idea what this is about but intend on exploring.

Ah ha! The ads (no longer appearing) were surreptitiously bundled with an App I installed so I could watch streaming MMA in HD.

Note to self: be careful using free software.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

95 + 25 + 75 + 25 + 75 = 92727

Let's Talk Money

Some people say the economy is too complex to be controlled by just a handful of people. Do you think that’s true? Do you ascribe to that belief?

Well, that assertion comes from people who make presumptions on economics, rather than actually educating themselves on how the system works. From the outside looking in, the world of finance appears chaotic; a mixture of mathematical and legal standards swirling in a void of mass psychology. Many Americans are either frightened by the seemingly complicated field of study, or they find it boring and not worth their time. Somehow, this doesn’t stop them from assuming they know how money works. I’ve got a brother-in-law like that. You probably do too.

Just because somebody participates in the economy, it doesn’t mean he has any proper idea of how it works. Just because you watch television doesn’t mean you understand electronics or physics.

The truth is, once all the techno-babble is removed, economics can be simple. Supply and Demand will always be at the center of any and every economy, regardless of the political atmosphere in which it exists. These two fundamental factors can be manipulated to a degree, by the creation of artificial supply, or the conjuring of false demand. Global bankers do just that, primarily through the issuance of currency, the ability to change interest rates at will, and the ability to inject or remove incredible sums of money from any market.

A perfect example is the suppression of silver prices by JP Morgan. Go here to read about it in detail.

Gold and silver represent competing currencies to the fiat dollars created by the Federal Reserve. Suppressing the value of these commodities ensures that the public will never see them as a viable alternative to paper assets. JP Morgan, along with other international banks, has the ability to throw around massive quantities of capital wherever they please which acts to suppress the value of silver by issuing paper securities (for silver) that doesn’t actually exist, thus creating an artificially high supply, and creating the false impression of low demand by naked short selling silver markets in order to drive them lower. In short, the commodities markets are manipulated.

Another example of economic manipulation is the Federal Reserve’s strategy during the 90’s under Alan Greenspan to artificially lower interest rates that acted to allow banks to issue credit at historical levels for over a decade. Here’s an article from Ron Paul’s ‘Texas Straight Talk’, where he discusses the Federal Reserve’s direct role in the creation of the housing bubble.

Men like Ron Paul, Peter Schiff, Gerald Celente, Jim Rogers, and others were able to predict that the Federal Reserve’s actions were creating an explosive mortgage and credit bubble, yet, the public is supposed to believe that the Federal Reserve had no idea that their actions would result in a debt implosion.

Catherine Austen Fitts, former Assistant Secretary of Housing and Commissioner of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under the first Bush Administration admitted that the mortgage bubble was not an accident and that she had witnessed outright and deliberate fraud on the part of the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve Bank in creating the bubble. The fact that disturbed her most, however, was the discovery that only a handful of international banks were responsible for the perpetuation of toxic mortgage debt, not just in America, but around the world. Read and verify here, you naysayers.

Goldman Sachs (one of the primary globalist banks involved in igniting the debt crisis) was caught selling toxic derivatives to investors and governments all over the world while at the same time betting against those derivatives on the market. Goldman even bet against mortgage securities they created! Read about it here. Of course, Golman Sachs denies it.

This is similar to a car maker selling vehicles without brake lines, then placing bets that their clients will crash and burn. It is a blatant fraud. Goldman’s actions directly contributed to credit collapses in numerous countries, including Greece and here in the U.S.

The idea that global banks can turn the economy on and off like a light switch may be a stretch, but the evidence shows they do have the ability to shift the direction of markets, as well as the ability to nurture the growth of fiscal bubbles that eventually lead to recession, depression, and whatever lies beyond. In fact, if you examine the U.S. economy from the beginning of the Federal Reserve in 1913, you would find that the past century has been nothing but a series of engineered equity bubbles designed to slowly hobble, but not completely cripple, our financial system and our currency. At least, until recently. Like a steam locomotive on a collision course with a bottomless canyon, globalist banks can slow or speed up the pace of our descent, but the final destination never changes.

So, we understand that these current market collapses are created by a small group of bankers. Why, you might ask? Are you so naïve? I forgive you, but if you want to be involved, you owe it to yourself, your family, and society to wake up! It’s about control. It’s about the enforced notion of equality and the death of freedom for the individual.

At this point in the conversation, “progressives” are forced to admit that international banks triggered the meltdown, but, like a dog holding onto a bone, they maintain the “greed of Capitalism” is truly to blame.

Unfortunately, if you’re attached to the fiscal debate points of two dimensional socialist gatekeepers (zombies drinking the propaganda kool-aid), then you’re hopelessly lost in the mind-warping maze of the false left/right paradigm. If that’s the case, you should stay as far away as possible from adult conversations on economics, especially if you plan on attaching the “greed” of capitalism and corporatism with one party over the other. You’ve bought into the false paradigm.

Nobody likes to admit they’ve been wrong, but the truth is that Barack Obama received far more in corporate campaign donations (including donations from BP and Exxon) than either McCain or Romney. It’s a fact, Jack. Both Bush Jr. and Obama increased government spending to record levels meaning Neo-Conservatives are in no way “conservative”. Obama has consistently surrounded himself with banksters and corporate lobbyists, including the hobgoblins from the bowels of Goldman Sachs. Both political parties are owned and operated by global banks. This is a cold, hard, undeniable truth of our political system. There is no way around it. Learn it, accept it as reality, and stop trying to blame one side or the other for problems that both sides created! If you can’t do this, your view of our cultural state of affairs will always be horribly skewed and your insights on our social problems will be utterly worthless.

Socialists desperately point fingers at the free market ideology as the cause of all our ills, but the fact is none of us have ever lived in a true free market system. Since the inception of the Federal Reserve, all markets and even our own currency have become more and more vulnerable to manipulation by the banking elite. We have lived our entire lives in a rigged market, not a free market. To blame the concept of Capitalism for our current circumstances is not only naïve, it is dangerous. Globalists would like nothing better than to promote the illusion that “too much freedom” led us to this disaster, and that controls must be put into place to ensure that it never happens again.

The propaganda line goes like this: Global banks would never engineer the collapse of the U.S. economy or the Dollar because it makes them too much money. Remember, according to the propaganda, the assumption is that the capitalists only do what they do out of an “uncontrollable greed for money”. This perpetuates a couple of fallacies. First, it encourages the false belief that the end concern for the economic elite is the accumulation of riches. I need to remind you at this point that Central bankers have the ability to create all the money they want out of thin air and then charge you for it! The Federal Reserve (a private, not federal, institution) has never been subjected to a full audit, meaning they could easily create billions, if not trillions, without any oversight whatsoever. Greed for money, to them, is an absurd notion. What they do want, more than anything else, is power. They want unquestionable control over every living human being. All other concerns are secondary.

The other fallacy is the conjecture that the U.S. economy is indispensable to global banks. This is simply untrue. Where we see the economy as an extension of our culture and ourselves, the elites see financial systems as mere tools in the pursuit of a greater goal: World Government. Globalists are perfectly willing to cast off the U.S. economy like a snake shedding skin if it brings them closer to attaining their ultimate goals.

The same goes for the Dollar. While it may be the premier world reserve currency now, that fact is likely to change over the next few years. As far as global bankers are concerned, the Dollar is a device that has outlived its usefulness. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has made it clear that they eventually intend for the SDR (Special Drawing Rights) to replace the Dollar as the world reserve currency. Additionally, they have admitted that the SDR will one day be established as a global currency. IMF press releases make this development sound as if the eventuality is far off in the future, but SDR accumulations by countries around the world have risen dramatically. Make no mistake about it, the IMF and international bankers are preparing for the collapse of the Dollar.

We’re being manipulated and led like cattle into a not-so-brave new world of control and bondage. Sadly, there is no place to run, no place to hide. We can roll over and become what they want us to be or we can stand in opposition. If you want to know how, drop me a line! Otherwise, see you on the road and, as always, thanks for reading!

Edit: Two of the links embedded within this article failed because the articles had been moved or deleted. Luckily, I found new links to the articles. In my internet travels and as an information analyst, I have seen the web scrubbed (believe it or not, I'm dying if I'm lying) on many occasions of articles, videos, and pictures that reveal a little too much. Lies and obfuscation are commonplace for the powers that be...

Friday, January 11, 2013

Tickled Pink with Credentials

My Universal Life Church Ordination
I am now free to perform weddings, baptisms and funerals. I've always been moved to sermonize, so that's no big deal. I am available to preside and bless your festivities. I do accept love offerings + gas money to get there.

Reverend TommyBoy

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Pearl Harbor Conspiracy

Franklin Delano Roosevelt
The U.S. knew the Japanese were going to bomb Pearl Harbor a full ten hours before the attack on December 7, 1941. American forces intercepted a 14-part Japanese message and deciphered it by 4:37 a.m. Washington time. The message supposedly remained in the code room for 3 hours before President Roosevelt was notified. By 11:00 a.m., the message was transmitted to all areas of the Pacific except Hawaii, where the receiver was supposedly not working. Pearl Harbor finally received the message 3 hours after the attack and after 3000 people lost their lives.

Some historians believe that President Roosevelt deliberately withheld the message from Hawaii in order to provide the U.S. with adequate justification for entering World War II. The ensuing military buildup and subsequent war succeeded where Roosevelt's New Deal had failed, pulling the United States out of bankruptcy.

Sound familiar?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Stubborn, Mysterious Laws of Math

Write down any natural number, reverse its digits to form a new number, and add the two, like this:


In most cases, repeating this procedure eventually yields a palindrome (a word, phrase, number, or other sequence of units that may be read the same way in either direction. See the following:



Ta-da! 15851 is a palindrome -- it reads the same forwards or backwards. I'll leave it up to you to try some more.

Ah, but here's the rub. It doesn't work with 196. At least, it hasn’t in computer trials, which have repeated the process until it produced numbers 300 million digits long. Is 196 somehow immune to producing palindromes? No one’s yet offered a conclusive proof — so we don’t know what makes 196 unique. If you figure it out, please let me know.

Going Up

When I first heard of this, I had a good laugh. However, with the advent of new materials, like graphene nanotubes, I've changed my mind and I actually believe it is possible to build a space elevator. It would be a gigantic undertaking and the largest engineering project the world has ever seen. The structure would consist of a cable fixed to the Earth's equator that stretches upward into space. A counterweight would be attached at the end to insure that the center of mass is kept well above the level of geostationary orbit. The upward centrifugal force from the Earth's rotation would ensure that the cable remain stretched taut and fully countering the downward gravitational pull. Once above the geostationary level, weight reverses in the upward direction as the centrifugal force overpowers gravity.

Carbon nanotube
The concept for a space elevator was first proposed in 1895 by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky. He envisioned a free-standing tower reaching from the surface of the Earth to the height of geostationary orbit. Since 1959, most space elevator designs have focused on tensile structures, with the weight of the structure held up from above.

It may be more feasible to apply these designs to other planets and locations in the solar system with weaker gravity than Earth's (such as the Moon or Mars) because the strength-to-density requirements aren't as great for tether materials.

When the Space Shuttle Columbia lifted off on April 12, 1981, from Kennedy Space Center, Fla., to begin the first space shuttle mission, the dream of a reusable spacecraft was realized. Since then, NASA has launched more than 100 missions, but the price tag of space missions has only increased. Whether it is the space shuttle or the non-reusable Russian spacecraft, the cost of a launch is approximately $10,000 per pound ($22,000 per kg).

That is why a new space transportation system that could make travel into Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) a daily event and transform the global economy just might be a brilliant idea.

A space elevator made of a carbon nanotubes composite ribbon anchored to an offshore sea platform would stretch to a small counterweight approximately 62,000 miles (100,000 km) into space. Mechanical lifters would climb the ribbon, carrying cargo and humans into space, at a price of only about $100 to $400 per pound. Simply amazing.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Signs that things aren't going so well:

1. Your plans involve what you will tell the police.
2. You're not your parent's favorite. You're an only child.
3. The McDonald's cashier knows your order by heart.
4. One of the side effects for your anti-depressants is suicidal thoughts.
5. You're too young to legally get your kids' names tattooed on your body.
6. When dressing up for an 80's party, you don't have to go to the thrift store.
7. Your sex tape was on Animal Planet.
8. Your free hug stand went out of business.
9. Your kids are taking you to the doctors to be tested for Alzheimer's disease. You don't remember having kids.
10. Facebook is the only one that asks you what's on your mind.
11. You applied to be on The Biggest Loser. You didn't know it was a weight loss show.
12. You're organizing your M&M's into alphabetical order.
13. The only place that you can find love is in the dictionary.
14. You refer to your black sweat pants as your formal wear.
15. Your dentist cringes when you open your mouth.
16. Your therapist feels sorry for you.
17. The only friends you have ever known are Chandler, Joey, Monica, Phoebe, Ross and Rachel.
18. Your imaginary friend is playing with the kid across the street.

All these and more at Grouchy Rabbit

I Hear the Train a'Coming...

In political philosophy, the social contract is a model for governing that typically addresses questions surrounding the origin of society and the legitimacy of the authority of the state over its citizens. Social contract arguments typically posit that individuals have consented to surrender some portion of their freedoms in order to submit to the authority of the government in exchange for protection. Questions concerning natural and legal rights, therefore, are often an aspect of social contract theory.

The bases of social contract theory are found in Greek and Stoic philosophy as well as Roman and Canon Law, along with the notion of the covenant (from the Christian Bible). However, the codification of the social contract originated in the mid-seventeenth to early nineteenth centuries. The beginnings of most social contract theories are found in the examination of the human condition, free from any political order, often referred to as a “state of nature” where an individual's actions are bound only by their personal power and conscience. From this starting point, we seek to understand why a rational individual would voluntarily consent to give up his or her natural freedom in order to obtain the benefits of political order.

John Locke
Hugo Grotius (1625), Thomas Hobbes (1651), Samuel Pufendorf (1673), John Locke (1689), and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1762) are among the most prominent of 17th and 18th century theorists of social contract and natural rights. Each provided their own answer to the above question in a different way. Grotius stated that individuals had natural rights; Hobbes followed by saying men consent to abdicate their rights in favor of the absolute authority of government; Pufendorf disputed Hobbes's conclusion, specifically those that equivocate a state of nature with waging war.

Locke brought forward the idea that natural rights were inalienable, and the rule of God superseded government authority. Rousseau believed that democracy was the best way of ensuring general welfare while maintaining individual freedom under the rule of law. However, it was the Lockean concept of the social contract that was invoked in the United States' Declaration of Independence.

It is interesting to note that social contract theories were tossed in the 19th century in favor of utilitarianism, Hegelianism, and Marxism, but were revived in the 20th century.

Now, early in the 21st century, we find ourselves in a struggle, once again, over the rights of men as governments seek to gain even more power over burgeoning populations.

All the political machinations we see in the world today are due to the increasing, bold, power grabs by mostly legitimate governments. This is also true in the Arab world, although on the surface, it would appear that Arab revolutionaries are pushing for some sort of religious governance. This is not actually the case. The world is being re-ordered according to computer analysis and population projections.

Rule by Oligarchy
They (the authorities) are not asking for change. Instead, it is being forced on populations worldwide.

The Constitution of the US is being systematically ignored. Since it is the basis of law in the US, there is naturally some confusion as to the new relationship between the state and the citizen. While we operate in a new, unwritten and illegitimate paradigm, the law of the land, the social contract defined and guaranteed by the Constitution, is still extant. And yet, we all know it is bogus; so the bloated, top-heavy legal system that administers the law no longer has legal authority over the individual. When enough of the population realizes the fact of the law's illegitimacy and civil disobedience begins to occur on a wide scale basis, that's when the real fun and games will begin.

The confiscation of firearms will be a prime indicator of the increasing illegitimacy of authority and the transition into thug rule (oligarchy).

Saturday, January 5, 2013


It fades quickly.
Here's a post I try to put up every year at this time. It is a list of Resolutions by Lloyd Shearer that I originally took from the front page of Parade magazine in 1986. I boldly reprint it here without permission because it is still meaningful and I'm sure old Lloyd wouldn't mind.

Some of you informationally challenged might want to slow down and pay attention. This is good stuff:

1. No one will ever get out of this world alive. Resolve therefore to maintain a reasonable sense of values.
2. Take care of yourself. Good health is everyone's major source of wealth. Without it, happiness is almost impossible.
3. Resolve to be cheerful and helpful. People will repay you in kind.
4. Avoid angry, abrasive persons. They are generally vengeful.
5. Avoid zealots. They are generally humorless.
6. Resolve to listen more and to talk less. No one ever learns anything by talking.
7. Be chary of giving advice. Wise men don't need it and fools won't heed it.
8. Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and the wrong. Sometime in life, you will have been all of these.
9. Do not equate money with success. There are many successful money-makers who are miserable failures as human beings. What counts most about success is how a person achieves it.

Now, how am I going to put these resolutions into action? Well, here's my personal Resolution list for this year:

1. Speak truth to power. Fear not.
2. Pray more and be grateful every day of the week.
3. Be strong in body and mind. Fight creeping corruption wherever it is found.
4. Write the best sci-fi stories the world has ever seen.

Let's make it a meaningful year, everybody. Oh, and do you really need all that stuff? One last smart-alack remark: If not now, when?

Friday, January 4, 2013

I Don't Need No Wah-Wah...

...and neither do you. Crank it for maximum effect and thank you George!

Speech, Belief, & Freedom

Freedom of speech is an essential part of a free and self-regulating society. Without it, only the elected authority has a voice and all knowledge falls into either one of two camps: approved (true) or unapproved (false).

Case in point -- the trial of Socrates. In 399 BC, the Athenian philosopher Socrates was taken to court by the authorities of that time on charges of heresy and the corruption of the youth of Athens. It is generally agreed that the charges were motivated by politics. Socrates had been more than willing to display his contempt for public opinion and for the Athenian form of democracy. His circle of admirers and friends included a number of so-called enemies of the state -- independent aristocrats like Alcibiades and the less openly rebellious Plato. What better way to silence the political gadfly of the age than to condemn him to die for not just his beliefs, but for discussing his beliefs in public?

Has it come to this?
Are we in current day America far removed from this type of authoritative condemnation of personal belief and speech? Well, of course we are not. A person can be terminated from work for holding a politically "incorrect" view. We see people marginalized and condemned practically every day by government authorities simply for voicing personal beliefs. Indeed, the counter argument most often heard in these times is that you are "free" to say what you want, but your "boss" is free to terminate you for sharing your beliefs. That sentence, that reality, cannot be equivocated. In other words, the first use of the word "free" presupposes the notion that one may not be punished for holding and voicing particular beliefs. The truth of the matter is, the authorities, in their quest for more power and more control, will not allow opinions contrary to theirs and will do anything to close the mouths of those who oppose them. This is as true in present day America as it is in other totalitarian states.