Author Archive | Brother Elias

Edwin Lyngar: Why I Fled Libertarianism — And Became A Liberal

Pic: Jacopo Werther (PD)

Pic: Jacopo Werther (PD)

via Salon

The night before the 2008 Nevada Republican convention, the Ron Paul delegates all met at a Reno high school. Although I’d called myself a libertarian for almost my entire adult life, it was my first exposure to the wider movement.

And boy, was it a circus. Many members of the group were obsessed with the gold standard, the Kennedy assassination and the Fed. Although Libertarians believe government is incompetent, many of them subscribe to the most fringe conspiracy theories imaginable. Airplanes are poisoning America with chemicals (chemtrails) or the moon landings were faked. Nothing was too far out. A great many of them really think that 9-11 was an inside job. Even while basking in the electoral mainstream, the movement was overflowing with obvious hokum.

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How The Twilight Zone Predicted Our Paranoid Present

Pic: Wiki (PD)

Pic: Wiki (PD)

via The Atlantic

More than half a century after it first aired, The Twilight Zone still has one of the most recognizable opening themes in television history: Doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo. Incidentally, composer Marius Constant dashed off the 30-second theme song in a single afternoon, according to The New York Times—but that melody has endured in our popular imagination just as the program has. Though its original run spanned five seasons between 1959 and 1964, generations of new viewers have since discovered The Twilight Zone, its longevity at least partly buoyed by an annual marathon broadcast each New Year’s dating back to 1994. The Syfy network will continue the tradition for a 19th time this week, airing more than 80 episodes in 48 hours starting the morning of Dec. 31 at 8 a.m.

Critics tend to talk about The Twilight Zone like it’s trapped in amber.

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TROTSKY IN CHINA: How Communism’s Most Controversial Theorist Found An Audience – In China

Pic: Trotsky (PD)

Pic: Trotsky (PD)

This article breaks down how books by Leon Trotsky supported the Chinese ideological shift away from soviet Communism.

via News China

Trotsky’s Views was openly published in China in 1980, two years after the country embarked on its ongoing experiment with Reform and Opening-up, and 40 years after Leon Trotsky, who remains one of the world’s most contentious political thinkers, was assassinated.

Its predecessor was Excerpts of Trotsky’s Reactionary Views, compiled by the Central Compilation and Translation Bureau and printed by the People’s Press, as one of the “Gray Cover” books issued to a limited number of Party cadres in 1964.

 Gray Cover books were classified into three categories. Category C included books by such European socialist thinkers as Alexandre Millerand of France and Otto Bauer of Austria who attempted revisions to perceived orthodox Marxism. These were generally available to Party functionaries, though banned from public sale.

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Of Immanuel Kant and Sexbots

Dollfriend  (CC)

Dollfriend (CC)

posits the question, are sexbots more like animals or more like stones? Via Talking Philosophy

The Fox sci-fi buddy cop show Almost Human episode on sexbots inspired me to revisit the ethics of sexbots. While the advanced, human-like models of the show are still things of fiction, there is already considerable research and development devoted to creating sexbots. As such, it seems well worth considering the ethical issues involving sexbots real and fictional.

At this time, sexbots are clearly mere objects—while often made to look like humans, they do not have the qualities that would make them even person-like. As such, ethical concerns involving these sexbots would not involve concerns about wrongs done to such objects—presumably they cannot be wronged. One potentially interesting way to approach the matter of sexbots is to make use of Kant’s discussion of ethics and animals.

In his ethical theory Kant makes it quite clear that animals are means rather than ends.

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Violent Criminals: Terrible Twos Who Stay Terrible?

Picture: Marc Majcher (CC)

Picture: Marc Majcher (CC)

New research findings claim that violent criminals are basically overgrown babies, or someone whose neural pathways have strong connections with the emotional–territorial circuit on the Eight-circuit model of consciousness.

Via The New York Times

To understand the violent criminal, says Richard E. Tremblay, imagine a 2-year-old boy doing the things that make the terrible twos terrible — grabbing, kicking, pushing, punching, biting.

Now imagine him doing all this with the body and resources of an 18-year-old.

You have just pictured both a perfectly normal toddler and a typical violent criminal as Dr. Tremblay, a developmental psychologist at University College Dublin in Ireland, sees them — the toddler as a creature who reflexively uses physical aggression to get what he wants; the criminal as the rare person who has never learned to do otherwise.

In other words, dangerous criminals don’t turn violent. They just stay that way.

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Swiss Banks Urge U.S. Tax Dodgers To Come Clean To Beat Deadline

Giuseppe-Colarusso-24

Giuseppe Colarusso

Affluenza, purported higher IQs, and now a headstart for those who already stack the deck?

via Politico

Swiss banks are quietly warning wealthy U.S. clients with secret accounts to come clean with the tax man in the next two weeks — or risk jail time, according to several letters obtained by POLITICO.

The letters come ahead of a New Year’s Eve deadline the U.S. government set for about 300 Swiss banks to take deals protecting them from prosecution. In exchange for confessing and shelling out mountains of Americans’ account information, they’ll get immunity. It is a new twist to the traditional bank-client relationship.

“The banks have every incentive right now to shove their American clients into compliance in order to reduce the penalties,” said tax attorney Jeff Neiman, who prosecuted Swiss banking giant UBS for the U.S. government.

The effort is part of a U.S. crackdown on American tax evaders and the banks that help them, which ramped up when Swiss banking giant UBS admitted as much with a $780 million settlement in 2009.

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Man who changed name to Beezow Doo-doo Zopittybop-bop-bop faces 5 years in prison on drug charges

After getting the explanation of his name, it’s actually kind of poignant.

via Yahoo News

An Iowa man who had his name legally changed to Beezow Doo-doo Zopittybop-bop-bop is facing five years in prison after an arrest on drug possession charges.

Beezow, 32, was arrested on July 20 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, when police said they observed his turquoise minivan weaving between lanes. Police also reported finding more than a half-ounce of marijuana during a search of the vehicle.

Beezow, born Jeffrey Drew Wilschke, faces a felony charge of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, possession of drug paraphernalia and operation of a motor vehicle without registration.

This isn’t the first time Beezow has made national news. His name became fodder for late-night jokes when he was arrested in 2012 in a Madison, Wis., park on similar drug charges.

In an interview last year, Beezow told the Wisconsin State Journal that his first name represents “the explosion of awareness of the interconnectedness of the infinite love in the universe.” Doo-doo, he said, “is the struggle of our daily lives with that awareness, that with love comes chaos.”

And Zopittybop-bop-bop “is the outcome of that struggle, which is often ironic, especially because all life ends in death,” Beezow said.

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Banks brace for €1.7bn EU fines over Libor

a_drop_in_the_bucket

I don’t know about you, but this seems like a public ceremonial slap on the wrist for some people who should be thrown in prison.

via The Telegraph

Some of the world’s biggest banks are to be “fined a record €1.7bn” (£1.4bn) by European authorities to settle allegations of rigging benchmark borrowing rates used to set the price of trillions of dollars of financial products, according to reports.

The European Union competition authorities could announce the penalties as early as Wednesday, with up to 10 banks, including Royal Bank of Scotland, Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale, expected to settle cases, according to the Financial Times.

EU officials have been investigating claims that several large banks attempted to manipulate yen and euro-denominated Libor rates as part of an international probe.

Deutsche Bank and RBS are said to be facing fines for manipulating both rates, while other banks will settle claims related to just one of the rates.

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