Archive | February, 2013

Are Our Schools Prisons?

From Modern Mythology:

Though potentially alarmist, this documentary points to a process that really started with the advent of the american education system as a part of the rise of industry. Our modern school system, though it has been vastly successful compared to many earlier systems as bad as it is, is indeed based on the whistle-blowing, mechanized and behaviorist perspective of humanity that was popular in the 1920s-50s.

Instead of changing with the times in terms of making kids into machines, and to produce “good workers,” we might consider trying to help create human beings. Because of all the school shootings, in many ways now we are facing a PKD style “thought police” No Tolerance rule toward what someone might do. How does this lack of trust effect the people within the system?

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Gary Johnson Quiet on Campaign Cash Questions

Gary Johnson, 2012′s Libertarian Party presidential candidate and former New Mexico Governor, recently hosted a post-election AMA

(Ask Me Anything) on Reddit and things didn’t go, perhaps, quite as planned. His top question (receiving 180 “up votes” … 117 more than the second most popular question) was ignored by the former candidate:

“I’ve read your campaign manager used $2.3 million of the $2.5 million you raised to pay his own company. If I donated money to your campaign, where do I write for a refund?”

Parapolitical reported on the situation:

“Johnson’s campaign ended 2012  $1,134,602 in debt of which $1,051,637 is owed to the consulting company owned by the campaign manager presumably responsible for accruing that debt … the debt is on top of millions already paid to the firm. Of roughly $2.5 million raised and spent by Johnson prior to the election, more than $2.3 million of his supporters donations and federal matching funds were disbursed to campaign manager Nielson’s company.”

There’s also the matter of a lawsuit filed by a former Ron Paul fundraiser who went to work for the campaign and since claims he was stiffed on his invoices while the campaign manager’s company was paid “first and in full.” Still, Johnson appears unfazed by the clamor for information about the opaque millions.

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Eleven Decades of Anaïs Nin

Anaïs Nin was an American born to Hispanic/Cuban parents in France on February 21, 1903. Although we associate the author with Paris, she spent most of her life living in the U.S.

A writer of essays, short stories and novels, Nin’s literary triumph was the publication of her diaries which chronicled more than six decades of experiences. Nin carried on a famous affair with author Henry Miller and it was during her time with him that the pair both started writing erotica to make ends meet. In the Paris of the 1930′s, enterprising publishers cultivated collectors of forbidden writing and paid authors well and quickly for custom-crafted smut. Nin was a pioneer as one of the first women to ply the dirty book trade and she eventually let the works be collected and published widely under the titles Delta of Venus and Little Birds. She’s considered to be among the best writers of the female sexual experience.

Along with Miller, Nin became a counterculture hero during the unrest of the 1960′s. While Miller championed freedom of libido in his writing and fought for free of speech in his battles against censorship, Nin was perceived as the kind of strong, talented, liberated woman that the just-budding feminist movement was still trying to articulate. While she became a popular lecturer at universities, Nin never became involved in radical politics. It seemed she was always a lover more than a fighter. Nin died of cancer in 1977.

Here is the woman herself as she appeared in Kenneth Anger’s The Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome in 1954

Stay Awake!

Joe Nolan

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The World’s Most Romantic Death Spot: Japan’s Suicide Volcano

Would you let yourself be consumed by burning love at an infamous volcano where thousands have taken the plunge? Providentia writes:

On February 11, 1933, a 21-year old student named Kiyoko Matsumoto committed suicide by throwing herself into the volcanic crater of Mount Mihara on the Japanese island of Izu Oshima. Matsumoto had developed an infatuation with fellow student Masako Tomita. Since lesbian relationships were considered taboo at the time, she and Tomita decided to travel to the volcano so that Matsumoto could end her life there,  [where] an observation post allowed visitors to look straight down into the lava.

To profit from Izu Oshima’s new popularity, the Tokyo Bay Steamship Company set up a daily steamship line to the island and the brim of Mount Mihara picked up the new name of “Suicide Point”. In 1933 alone, 944 people would jump into the crater. In the two years that followed saw an additional 350 suicides and visitors would often travel to Mount Mihara just to watch people jump.

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Are you a Neuro-Throwback?

Throwback

I once had a sled dog team in Northern Minnesota. It was a fairly short lived experience but the strong bond I formed with my dogs brings back powerful memories. We trained together by day exploring the Northern Wilderness, and howled at the moon by night.  When the snow begins to fall very year, I miss it.

A couple of winters ago, I attended a sled dog sprint race in the Adirondack mountains of New York. I walked around and checked out all the participants dogs as usually did and I was unimpressed. The sport of sprint racing had evolved way past its roots in indigenous arctic travel and become a thing in itself. Now, as then, it is no longer a sport for rugged huskies, but rather a competition between sleek mongrel hounds running on perfectly groomed trails. They achieve impressive speeds, but the chain between these hounds and their trapline running forebears seems to have been broken forever.… Read the rest

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Libra The 21st Century Libertarian Space Colony

Dreaming of planned libertarian communities seems to be all the rage. But perhaps the only place they can succeed is in outer space. Via Smithsonian Magazine, Matt Novak on the 1978 think-tank-produced movie Libra:

Produced and distributed by a free-market group based in San Diego called World Research, Inc., the 40-minute film is set in the year 2003 and gives viewers a look at two vastly different worlds. On Earth, a world government has formed and everything is micromanaged to death, killing private enterprise. But in space, there’s true hope for freedom. Viewers get an interesting peek into what daily life is like when a Libra resident shows off her Abacus computer,  which is a bit like Siri.

The film’s vision for 2003 isn’t very pleasant — at least for those left on Earth. The people of Libra seem happy, while those on Earth cope with the world government’s dystopian top-down management of resources.

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More Than 50 Countries Collaborated With CIA On Extraordinary Rendition Torture Program

Torturing: it brought the United States together with Iran, Syria, Libya, and Zimbabwe. Wired reports:

A new report from the Open Society Foundation details the CIA’s effort to outsource torture since 9/11. Known as “extraordinary rendition,” the practice concerns taking detainees to and from U.S. custody without a legal process and handing detainees over to countries that practiced torture.

The report found that 136 people went through the post-9/11 extraordinary rendition, and 54 countries were complicit in it. Some were official U.S. adversaries, like Iran and Syria, brought together with the CIA by the shared interest of combating terrorism.

The most famous case involves Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen snatched in 2002 by the U.S. at JFK Airport before the CIA sent him to Syria under the mistaken impression he was a terrorist. In Syrian custody, Arar was “imprisoned for more than ten months in a tiny grave-like cell, beaten with cables, and threatened with electric shocks by the Syrian government.”

The full 54 countries that aided in post-9/11 renditions: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.

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How Capitalism Creates the Welfare State

Andrew Sullivan writes:

The two concepts are usually seen in complete opposition in our political discourse. The more capitalism and wealth, the familiar argument goes, the better able we are to do without a safety net for the poor, elderly, sick and young. And that’s true so far as it goes. What it doesn’t get at is that the forces that free market capitalism unleashes are precisely the forces that undermine traditional forms of community and family that once served as a traditional safety net, free from government control. In the West, it happened slowly – with the welfare state emerging in 19th century Germany and spreading elsewhere, as individuals uprooted themselves from their home towns and forged new careers, lives and families in the big cities, with all the broken homes, deserted villages, and bewildered families they left behind. But in South Korea, the shift has been so sudden and so incomplete that you see just how powerfully anti-family capitalism can be:

[The] nation’s runaway economic success … has worn away at the Confucian social contract that formed the bedrock of Korean culture for centuries.

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Canada Trying to One-Up the US: Warrantless Wiretapping Announced

Canada – always trying to one-up the United States – has announced it, too, will begin warrantless wiretapping of phones.

Parliamentary bill C-55 would allow police to wiretap telephones without a warrant in an “emergency.” The government has announced it will move ahead with the proposal after throwing civil rights campaigners a bone by agreeing to withdraw an even more controversial bill: C-30. That measure would have required internet service providers to maintain systems for police to “plug-in” to online communications to make sure naughty Canadians weren’t looking at anything they weren’t supposed to.

C-55 will proceed to a vote in the House of Commons in the near future. On the CBC website, commenter “stopnthink eh” observed:

“They can listen without a warrant if they feel like harm may come to one of the parties involved. They are obligated to tell you at 90 days from when this starts… unless they choose to extend it to 3 years before they notify you.

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U.S. Congress Mulls Creation Of Drone Court To Authorize Killings

Who lives and who dies? The drone court will decide. Via Reuters:

During a fresh round of debate this week over President Barack Obama’s claim that he can unilaterally order lethal strikes by unmanned aircraft against U.S. citizens, some lawmakers proposed a middle ground: a special federal “drone court” that would approve suspected militants for targeting. The idea is being actively considered, however, according to a White House official.

At Thursday’s confirmation hearing for CIA director nominee John Brennan, senators discussed establishing a secret court or tribunal to rule on the validity of cases that U.S. intelligence agencies draw up for killing suspected militants using drones.

Senator Angus King, a Maine independent, said during the hearing that he envisioned a scenario in which executive branch officials would go before a drone court “in a confidential and top-secret way, make the case that this American citizen is an enemy combatant.”

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